Projection and Exploration: Random Rab Interview

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When it comes to making progressive electronic music that has the ability to appeal to music lovers of all genres, Random Rab has been putting out exceptional productions for over a decade now. He has gained a strong reputation and following for combining his music along with a visual-heavy stage show by pulling tracks from his vast back-catalog and surrounding these selections with impressive imagery. Rab’s music is electronic in nature but incorporates so many organic elements and different genres that it is able to appeal to people of all ages and musical taste.

Axiom-Nation: So I read somewhere that you were actually in a metal band at some point. Care to elaborate?

Random Rab: Hahaha. Yes I was in a metal band for about five years in Indiana. I was the lead singer and also played guitar. The music we played was pretty heavy and at the time we were looking for that record deal and had the “takeover the world” mentality. But you know it was a good way to train yourself with being on the road, working with other musicians and just how rock life goes. Definitely learned some good things and had some interesting experiences.

AX: When we first met, you were carrying a beautiful instrument in your hands. What was that?

RR: It’s called a guzheng [pronounced goo-jhung].  It’s from China, it’s a 21-stringed harp-type instrument. Gu means ancient and zheng is like the basics form of it, and it’s a 21-stringed version of it and I’ve had it for ten years. It almost looks like a hammered dulcimer. Yeah, it’s kind of like that. You play on the right and you bend on the left. It’s very traditional. When you hear that “dung dung dung” in Chinese music, that’s what it is, however it also has a harp-like sound to it.

AX: What other surprises do you have planned for your set?

RR: Well, I’ve been working with my good friend David Satori of Beats Antique and this is one of the first sets that I’ve designed in a long time, usually I just kind of free-form it.  So he’s playing banjo and some other things, and we’re singing together, and I’ll be playing guitar, kalimba, guzheng, I have a violin player that’s going to sit in for a song, another friend who’s going to play some guitar.  I’m gonna break it down and do just some acoustic stuff for a second, bring it up.  So this song is really like a journey and the whole set is designed.

AX: One of the challenges of going to a festival is that you get a glimpse of how beautiful it feels when we all come together around a certain thing, particularly a dance floor, but when we go back into our normal lives, it’s hard to recreate that.  So how do you make the things we do here more sustainable, how can we turn those things into habit rather than something we do three or four times a year?

RR: Well, on a practical level, what I noticed at Rootwire that there’s a lot of awesome technologies that are demonstrated here.  Whether solar or hydroelectric- everybody’s doing these crafty projects around here they get to share.  And the conversation comes up about sustainability, probably the most important thing that does happen –you know, composting helicopters that are totally fuel efficient….There’s an inherent wastefulness about just getting together and throwing parties.  But when you can bring the consciousness and the conversation and really think about society at large, I think that’s where the most long-lasting change comes from.

AX: Are you in to astral projection?

RR: My philosophy is that we’re doing all the time.  Finding the point of perception is quite impossible, so there’s no spot in our bodies that really defines that.  So I think we are always projecting the image of ourselves and recognizing the astral projection of others. Haven’t quite wrapped my head around parallel universes, but I did overhear someone up at the Temple talking about how a convergence of thousands of different realities constitutes what we see everyday, but that it is prone to being skewed in one direction or another depending on our thoughts and actions.

AX: How to keep it all in order?

RR: For me, the key to understanding where the parallel universes exist is to really, the one thing that blocks us from seeing it is our concept of linear time.  Once we’re here completely in the present, completely in the now, and know that every universe that ever was or will be is here right now as well.  Once you find yourself completely present, then you can understand that all the parallel universes, all these concepts, are happening right now, and you’re in it.

AX: Let’s take a step back to what you said before about everybody coming together being the essence of it.  I totally agree, the people I met this weekend have been some of the more amazing among my festival experiences.  But what you said intrigues me because I realize the lessons to learn here are internal, yet it seems they show themselves in an external way. How do you explain this?

RR: These festivals give people an opportunity to let their colors shine, good and bad, and it brings out the best and the worst but whatever it is, it’s raw. And that’s what I love about doing this and being at these shows; music, or something about these places, it makes people raw, for good and bad.  And you get to see people for who they are, and I love that experience. That’s why I think friendships can be bonded or broken in these places unlike anywhere else in life.

AX: Have you ever had a spiritual experience from someone else’s music?

RR: Absolutely, all the time. That’s what I look for – to have that experience where you can feel it so deeply in your soul; the beauty of music.

AX: If “Dust at Dawn” from your album Visurreal were trying to convey one thing, what would it be?

RR: As with all of my music, I am the student and the song the teacher. What is conveyed through the music seems to change every time I listen to it. This particular track seems to convey something about the beauty and hope of death and re-birth. Everyday we are reborn to the sun and we are quite literally new. Although a river’s water changes at every moment, the name stays the same for centuries. Can it really be the same river? It’s as if the flow is the river and the water is life itself.

AX: That’s so very insightful, but how is this philosophy reflected in your music as well as genre?

RR: I simply love music. All genres of music are special to me and deserve equal respect. If music were god, then genres are a lot like religion. You can spend your whole life in one genre and have a very rewarding experience with music. On the other hand, if you limit yourself to one mode of expression, you can become judgmental, myopic and lose sight of the greater power of all music. Each genre is like a tool that can access niche emotions and experiences. I hope to always keep that in mind and constantly explore music as a whole.