10 things you need to know about Raven Artson, LA's otherworldly scene disruptor
The Dutch singer-producer has been taking the city's music scene by storm with his melancholic pop tracks.
It’s not often that a musician from a small city in the south of the Netherlands drops everything, moves to LA and, in no time at all, carves out a space for themselves in a notoriously crowded music industry. Raven Artson, however, did it. With a sound that’s hard to pigeonhole -- call it ethereal pop, call it 'tear dripping auto tune', as he does himself -- the multi-instrumentalist, recording artist and producer has been captivating the LA music scene. Through his enigmatic performances, which see collaborations with the likes of fashion designer Sophie Hardeman, Raven is bringing quite a unique energy to the city.
According to Raven, his fascination with LA started as early as a kid. "I'd watch my brothers play Grand Theft Auto, I had a crush on The O.C.'s Marissa Cooper and I was obsessed over these generator parties that legendary stoner rock band Kyuss threw in the desert,” he says. “Flash forward: I stumble upon a music studio and a place to live in LA. It just made sense."
This natural flow seems fitting when you look at Raven's music journey so far. He explains how his parents enrolled him into an alternative music school after they noticed how, aged seven, he'd mimic the drummer of his brother's band Black Milk at their gigs. "At school, they'd put a bunch of inexperienced kids together in a band, under the supervision of an older musician. It was very autodidactic and taught me to think freely in music."
This week, Raven has launched the video for his latest single "notice me" -- a hazy, melancholic track in which he explores his inner battle with finding romance. It's a tantalising, breezy song that transports listeners to a parallel universe. Quite frankly, the timing couldn't be better.
Give it a listen and get to know Raven via these 10 fun facts...
1. Raven's earliest music memory involves Michael Jackson and Tai Chi
"There was this big room in my grandma's house where she used to practice Tai Chi. For our birthdays, me and the other grandchildren would convert it into a playground, with tunnels built from chairs, blankets and tables. Just before people started leaving, we'd move everything aside and build a stage from tables. We'd invite the whole family in and start to blast Michael Jackson. My nephew and me, aged five at the time, would jump on stage and take turns showing our best moves while the whole family cheered us on."
2. The first concert he ever gave was at just eight years old
"It was a song called 'Cookie Monster' performed with my earliest band Check It Out at the age of eight. Once a year, the music school had a festival where all the bands performed a few songs. I remember being so excited that I would bang the drums as loud as I could, essentially stealing the show from the back of the stage."
3. Raven has a special connection with the Red Hot Chili Peppers's drummer, sort of
"I was ten when we went to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert with the whole family. My dad took me on his shoulders, because I couldn't see a thing otherwise. I felt so powerful, towering above everyone else in the front row, air drumming like my life depended on it. Toward the end their drummer pointed at me -- at least that's what I thought. I felt so special and got my dad to take me backstage for an autograph. Of course, the security sent us away. My first reality-check."
4. If he wasn't a musician, Raven would probably be directing films
"To be honest, I would do anything that allows me to be creative and set my own rules. As an entrepreneur there are many things that I'm passionate about, but if I had to limit myself to one thing, I'd definitely explore film directing more. I'm really interested in storytelling and I'm a total dreamer. Aside from music, film seems like a perfect platform to combine these two."
5. For his latest single "notice me" he drew on his own experiences with heartbreak
"The track is about how I fell in love with the idea of a fictional romance. Over time my love interest became a close friend, endangering the idea of this romance. I prolonged coming to terms with reality, which I feared was a non-mutual love story. As soon as I voiced my heart, reality confirmed itself, the love disappeared and the idea got lost. It was a beautiful time with a lot of inner conflict. The most bittersweet thing I ever experienced.”
6. LA is a very special place for Raven
"My favourite thing about this city is the freedom. My friend and 'notice me' mixer Chris Coady made a very acute observation: compact cities like New York or Amsterdam impose their reality onto you. As soon as you open the door the truth of the city is there, right in front of you. But LA is so widespread that you have to create your own reality. It feels equally valid going to work at 9am as it feels going to the park at noon as it feels going to the beach at midnight."
7. Raven is most proud of being able to stay independent
"That I'm finally releasing my own music and I'm doing it on my own terms. Over the past five years I've been able to consolidate all these ideas into something tangible. Right now I'm setting those ideas free without making any concessions. That's what I'm proud of right now."
8. He has his own definition of success
"I'm in a very lucky position where I get to do what I like on a daily basis. It has been and still is a combination of challenging and motivating myself, pushing myself and allowing myself to fail. In doing so I'm letting fun play a crucial role. That to me is success."
9. He feels incredibly inspired by his tribe of friends and collaborators
"I'm blessed to work with artists like True Blue, Negashi Armada and Mucky [Sevdaliza’s producer], directors Zach, Madja Amin and Jeroen Dankers, fashion designers Sophie Hardeman and Camiel Fortgens, photographers Kim Jakobsen To and Rick Erfmann and all-round creative Mila van der Linden, who shot the 'notice me' single artwork.”
10. Raven and his girlfriend Mila van der Linden are #couplegoals
"Mila and I fell in love during these romantic nightly drives in LA, playing each other our favourite tracks for hours as the lights flashed by. It was on one of these nights that we shot the cover art of 'notice me'. We pulled over on Mulholland Drive to look at the city and snapped this moment. To me, this photo holds the necessity to reflect on a situation from a different perspective before being able to move on. That I'm portrayed as an angelic demon by chance, further accentuates the contrast of the song."
Photography Rick Erfmann