Native of Mauritius, rAin’s musical exposure began at an early age. Encouraged by his parents he took up guitar classes at the Conservatoir Francois Mitterand whilst also practicing on keyboards. Inspired by the expression of music and its evocative nature he formed an eclectic interest ranging from rock, grunge, alternative and modern pop. It was upon the purchase of a mixed artist compilation featuring the likes of PPK and Paul Van Dyk to name a few. The track Columbia struck a notable chord for RAin, forever changing his taste in music and consequently fuelling a desire to pursue a career within electronic music.
Access to turntables and recording software on an island were both expensive and in low supply, he persevered and despite the cost of tuition, gathered the necessary skills and would be introduced to a number of individuals who have been instrumental in furthering his career as a DJ and producer
With This Is Progressive as media partners, we caught up with RAin ahead of his performance in his native Mauritius supporting Hernan Cattaneo. To find out more, click here
Hi rAin, first and foremost thank you for taking time out to speak with us here at This Is Progressive. You’re from the Republic of Mauritius, can you tell us a little about the scene on the island and how you came to DJing?
It’s my pleasure to be answering to this is progressive. The scene at the moment is bubbling with new things. A musical evolution is taking place and these are very exciting times for us here on the island.
Being in the middle of the Indian Ocean, we endure a constant evolution with more and more people flying abroad and importing cultures from other countries. We are basically a multi-racial country, where we share one another’s cultural norms and values. we have a multitude of genres around, but the commercial scene prevails. luckily, there have been a group of forward thinking people including myself, with the will power to bring the underground culture to the fore. and we Mauritians are grateful to them for bringing electronic music, in its purest form into the limelight, allowing us to discover and acquaint ourselves to the diverse genres that exist.
Growing up from a traditional Mauritian family of Hindu descent, my first exposure to music was whilst I was still in kindergarten. My father was a drummer & tabla player and both my parents wanted us, my sister included to learn music so we always had instruments such as toy synthesizers at home.
Going through adolescence, I grew up listening to commercial pop, rock, grunge and alternative forms of music. And then started a band at high school. This is when I really picked up the beat, playing drums, guitar and bass guitar without really learning music. although at an early age, I joined the Conservatoire François Mitterrand music school which for academic commitments I had to quit..
It was at this point that I discovered a various artists compilation featuring PPK and Paul Van Dyk to name a few. For me personally Paul Van Dyk’s track Columbia was the defining moment. I always thought it was impossible for music to have no vocals and no lyrics, but this progressive trance track gave me the same emotions and much more. From there on , I took the turn onto electronic music..
I started using basic demo software such as Mixvibes. Vinyl just wasn’t accessible, to this day we don’t have a store that sells vinyl here in Mauritius.
So I had to save and pay tuition fees which were expensive at that time, and this is where I met people who were instrumental to my career.
Who would you say are your musical influences and why?
My musical influences date back from the days when I used to be a drummer and guitarist. Drums, guitar, beat and melody, this says it all. I have been massively influenced by folks like James Holden, Nathan fake, Hernan Cattaneo, Paul van Dyk, Max Graham, 16 bit Lolitas, Eric Prydz, Jaytech, Luke Chable, C Jay & Elke Kleijn, Sasha, John Digweed, etc. And as time rolled on, new emerging artist such as Microtrauma, Max Cooper, Dominik Eulberg, Gabriel Ananda, Pig & Dan, Ryan Davis, KINK, and more deeper sounding artists, such as Charles Webster, tale Of Us, Mind Against, Mario Basanov, the list is endless.
In every one of their sounds, I look for the crystal clear kick, not too much high , and very melodic compositions, that gives emotion whilst at the same time, make people want to move and dance.
I have always had that crush on tracks that James Holden produces, and I continued to look for similar sounds. I appreciate many other artists, who have good compositions in their sounds.
On the local scene, there have been people like David Jay who has also been my teacher, and has not only taught me mixing techniques, but also life lessons. That I will always cherish, then there has been people like Bernard Desmarais, Giovani Paul, Lebo, Avneesh, KAN, Kevin o Keefe AKA Mutecell who have worked hard to make the scene move. More recently we’ve had Aakash-K who came back from London, who has been instrumental to the deep & tech house scene.
How would you describe your sound?
My sound ranges from deep, dark, atmospheric sounds, through to the more melodic compositions, with a bigger, fuller kick and bass. I tend to like highs, mid/highs a little lower on tracks that I like or on tracks that I produce. As I believe the amount of high is already compensated to what we listen to, as nature sounds tend to have less high. All of this results into one genre that I prefer, progressive. With hybrid genres such as deep melodic, or dreamy minimal techno, I still find it interesting to incorporate more atmosphere through reverb and delays.
You Incorporate the use of controllers and pads alongside the more traditional set up, would you kindly inform the readers how this enhances a set, and the live element it brings.
My live set-up enables me to layer sounds on a set that I am mixing already. I am able to sample bits and pieces of vocals and samples, layer them on and on and on to create something entirely different. I cut and chop different parts of songs, combine them together, and layer my keyboard controller, to add melodies on them to form a set that is exclusive and unique. I try to incorporate pads that are visually pleasing to watch, and at the same time, interact with people. For example, sampling drums on the Novation’s Launchpad, and triggering the colour coded buttons looks pretty much cool in a club like environment. Sometimes a track may have vocals that I would want but not that melody , or some vocals might sound too cheesy then I may combine some elements that I like to others that I have chosen. The possibilities really are unlimited.
Speaking of your live set up, You have a performance at a large event coming up at the end of the month in your home country alongside Hernan Catteaneo to name a few, you must be delighted to be involved. Can you summarise just how you feel about this event. And what it means for the island to host such an occasion?
Hernan Cattaneo is a world class performer and has been in the scene consistently touring around the world and educating people towards a certain genre of music. It will be an honour to have him for the very first time in Mauritius. People know him, as he has influenced not one, but many artists in Mauritius. And he has a fan base over here. Not many I would presume, but his aura, and impact on the scene has been tremendous. I am feeling very excited to hear him, live for the first time, and here in my home land. It is of course a great thing for an island that relies a lot on tourism, etc, to have such an artist over here. It makes Mauritius as the Place to be in the Indian Ocean.
You must be really proud, would this go down as one of your career highlights so far?
I could say so. I have had the opportunity to play alongside Rodriguez Jr, Sebastien Leger, Oxia and many more big shot artists, but warming up for the legendary Hernan Cattaneo just brings another level to the scene, and for myself, and the amount of respect I have for Hernan, this should go down as one of the highlights of my career, as he is one of the pioneers in disseminating progressive music across continents..
Do you have anything special planned for this set?
I might be playing live for this one, but then , I may have to keep it down as I am warming for Hernan!. The party is Hernan Cattaneo, a musical journey in Mauritius. not rAin’s musical journey. I believe that I should put in more effort in trying to keep up with the warm up , and try to make my set a journey , and a red carpet for Hernan.
You have a number of productions and remixes, how do you go about the process of remixing and producing tracks?
This might sound common, but I jumped on the Ableton live bandwagon for productions and remixes. I rarely use samples from other songs, and I stopped using VSTs because there are so many of them.
You lose time choosing a sound you would like, then you lose the creative process. Most guys ask me which VSTs do I use, well I used native instruments massive, FM8 and cakewalks z3ta+, but now I use solely Ableton live 9 for production and remixes. If I like some sounds , I prefer recreating it than sampling it. Or sometimes I will use it but really tweak it, so that it either becomes the atmosphere behind or the break., no more than that. Trial and error is the biggest thing in music production, I prefer leaving the final mixing and mastering to engineers as I believe that a good mix-down and mastering should go through the analogue tubes/compressors, etc.
May I ask what your studio set up is. And is there any particular piece of equipment or vst that you couldn’t do without?
My live set-up is currently my studio set-up. I don’t use any giant monitors although I should be using those very soon. I also prefer writing music on my laptop keyboard. The Novation Launchpad is a piece of equipment that I use when I’m recording a track. I also have an Akai mpk 25 for my live set-up and the solid native instruments audio 2 as sound card. I also have a fire-wire sound card, for home use, as it has microphone inputs and inputs for professional studio monitors.
With 2014 set to be a strong year for you what are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to make more music and release tracks, dig deeper into the scene, and make the electronic music scene move forward. I also plan to travel more often for exchanges and to showcase Mauritian talents abroad.
My final question for you, what five tracks are really working for you right now?
Rodriguez Jr’s remix of Max cooper -Supine
Gardens Of God- are we
Henry Saiz – Take me home (Fairmont remix)
Micrologue – serious soul & more commercial
Eelke kleijn – lovely sweet divine
It’s been an absolute pleasure to chat with you, we here at this is progressive wish you all the best for the future and your upcoming gig, it will be amazing. thank you for your time RAin.
Thank you Ian
1. Praveen Achary-suspended (luis bondio remix) v/s Igor Cold – Far North Maps (Henry Saiz Far South Maps Remix (live mashup)
3. J Diesel-Outside In A Box (Olivier Giacomotto Remix)
4. GMJ – Recoil (Dousk Remix)
5. Wehbba-redshuffle (original mix)
6. D00sh- 2013 (tini tun remix)
7. German Brigante- Manitox (original mix)
8. Magshine-Tara_s_Nature_Original_Mix (original mix)
9. Andre Sobota- Surrounded (Dosem remix)
10. Kastis Torrau – Hero (Original Mix) (live melodic retouch)
11. Reflection Soul – Acid Funk (Original Mix)[live drum retouch]
12. Lutzenkirchen- Das Geplapper (original mix)
13. John Acquaviva, Olivier Giacomotto – All Night, All Right (Original Mix) + Bob Marley-sun is shining (accapella ) + Solee- L.O.V.E (original mix) (live edit)”