Across cultures, there has always been a magic in dancing and a mystery in the break of dawn. People have been doing it for celebration, for rebirth, healing even for ceremony, since the dawn of time. Being known widely to be a sunrise specialist, Random Rab has been an experience curator for many years, as a “master of emotion” crafting unique sets that have guided many people through memorable sunrises, from Costa Rica to Burning Man. He has been known to traverse genre and use unique sounds that captivate listeners and take them on an auditory genre. We had the chance to chat with Rab before his performance at Envision, that is sure to be a highlight of the weekend after his powerful 2015 sunrise set.
You have been a sunrise specialist for so many years, including a legendary set at Envision 2015. How do you craft your sets to make them sunrise specific?
Honestly, I feel that I need to put more effort into sets that are not sunrise specific. There is something about dawn that feels like home to me. The irony is that when I was younger, all I wanted was a job for which I did not have to wake up early. Woops.
How do you prepare for your sunrise sets? Do you plan your sets before you play them or do you let the moment and situation dictate itself?
It’s a little of both. I have some songs I definitely want to play, but always leave some space for improvisation and never use a roadmap or setlist. As I have stated before, it is a conversation between the music, the audience, and nature. In a way I feel as though I am in the audience and a witness to it as it unfolds.
Your sounds have always been so unique and special. How do you create your sounds?
I usually use an invisible crystal blade to cut into my soul and see what chooses to bleed. It’s an overly detailed and sometimes painful process to reveal the places were joy eternally exists. My philosophy is to always follow the sound and let it lead me to its source.
What sounds do you like to you use the most?
I love to create everything “from scratch” with attention to capturing the essence of whatever I choose to record. My favorite tool is my microphone and I consider my studio itself as a living-breathing instrument.
In and outside music, what inspires you?
Mostly friends, family, and nature inspire me. This planet, this life, this time… it’s so unbelievably profound to simply acknowledge existence. I am eternally grateful for this life. Turing off the inspiration is the hard part.
How do you adjust your sets between a desert sunrise set and a Costa Rican Sunrise Set?
It’s all about energy. I would say that in general people are much healthier and more centered in Costa Rica. There is also a much stronger sense of community and camaraderie at Envision. For this reason, I tend to play tracks in the jungle that make you look up rather than at your feet. There is so much beauty to take in.
Many say music can a be a healing force. Have you had an experience like that? What sounds or performances have been healing for you?
Yes, music has the power to heal. Music has the power to destroy or numb as well. Music is capable of every possible nuance of emotion and meaning because it is pure truth. I feel lucky to be a part of the very beginning of this new era of music creation with the assistance of computers and advanced technology. We, as a species, have yet to discover the full potential of what music is capable of doing to our minds and our environment. Ray Kurzweil speaks of a future moment called the singularity and the age of spiritual machines. This concept applies to music as well. Get ready.
Photo by Lost in Sound
What’s the lasting impression you hope to leave people with when they hear you perform live?
I hope people feel really good. So good that they think “wow, that felt really good”
What’s the most challenging part of tapping into the needs of a live audience?
The hardest part is getting myself out of the way. My inner self is a lumbering boulder that is often hard to budge. Once I am dissolved, it all seems to work out fine. The needs of the audience are quite reasonable and I am just another particle in the cosmic soup.