The Dutch indie artist embarks on his solo journey.
Tall, blond and wickedly dandy, Raven Artson is a recording artist full of tricks. Having devoted almost a decade to his band Moses and the Firstborn, “keeping a family together” and transitioning from performing live to being the band’s producer, he’s now learning to become his own one-man band. He describes his newly found sonic signature as “tear dripping auto-tune with a supremely romantic quality, enlightened by the purity of true emotion”.
In Raven’s debut music video, Seen by You—which premieres here today—he literally envisions himself as newborn. Though he’s known to suit up well, “feeling comfortable in my clothes at all times”, he’s now traded latex and neoprene for blood-red paint and exquisite cake splodged upon the bare body, representing “the drape of shame experienced after crossing my borders”. All hail the (self-declared) new virgin.
Hey, Raven! You have a brilliant name. Do you know why your parents called you Raven? And are there any other Ravens you admire in life?
Thanks! As far as I know, it was purely an aesthetic choice, and I love my parents for that. I’m the youngest in a row of three archaic, tough, German-named sons. My persona is built from many different Ravens, however, and I try to admire all of them.
You’ve been a part of Mozes and the Firstborn for almost a decade, what’s the secret to your chemistry as a band to stay together for so long?
It’s like keeping a family together. We’ve been able to survive in being truthful, giving each other space and basically nurturing each other. As I spend more time working on my own stuff, my role within Mozes has shifted from performing live to being the band’s producer.
Today, you debut Seen By You as Raven Artson—could you illustrate the vision and thought process behind this personal project? And how would you describe your sound?
The music I write and the sounds that inspire me are intertwined with the person I am. It’s about expressing myself and having fun doing that, even when I’m going through dark moments. My current sound is best described as tear-dripping auto-tune with a supremely romantic quality.
In the new music video directed by Jeroen Dankers, you’re naked, caked in red paint, topped off with a big blonde hairdo. Can you tell us more?
The character of Caked Raven is inspired by the story Jeroen and I wrote. On a conceptual level, it presents me as a newborn artist at the same time as it investigates a masochistic fantasy explored through the song’s lyrics. Here, the red could represent the drape of shame experienced after crossing my borders. Above all, Caked Raven is a strong image.
Out of all the sounds and noises on earth, which tickle your sonic taste buds most?
The sound of true emotion is extremely powerful to me. Whether it’s a friend group’s happy laughter, couples arguing on the top of their lungs or someone’s sexual pleasure, I’m instantly struck when I hear something that truthful.
Who, or what, do you consider your greatest source of inspiration?
My friends. My collaborators. Their passion for and willingness to work is extremely nutritious to my inspiration. Without this loyal team of mirrors and ears, I’d be nowhere near the person I am today.
It seems you’ve managed to knit a web of creative-minded people from various disciplines and backgrounds. How does Raven Artson network in 2019? What do creative collaborations mean to you?
For me, collaboration equals inspiration. Such inspiration is the driving force behind my work, and collaboration is necessary. I know I’m limited in my personal capabilities and I always strive for synergism in working with others. Watching the now-published Seen By You visual and Virgin Raven editorial evolve from concept to product is, really, a beautiful thing.
Judging from your online presence, you’re quite a chameleon! It’s fascinating how clothes transform your character. What’s fashion’s importance to you? What goes through your mind when you get dressed in the morning?
It comes down to wanting to feel comfortable in my clothes at all times. I try to avoid searching for it. Every now and then, a piece forces its way to me and I simply have to have it. When it comes to my morning ritual, it’s mainly about picking the first item—socks, pants, or whatever—and aligning all other colours with that one item.
What’s a topic that never fails to entertain you and your friends?
Love, lust and farts.
You were featured as one of Glamcult’s favourite talents in the pages of the new NURTURE issue. What does the word ‘nurture’ bring to mind?
How do you practice this? Are there any self-care routines we should know about and follow?
Often, I remind myself of what agent Dale Cooper says in Twin Peaks: “Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair or two cups of good hot black coffee.”
Words: Lawrence Harrison
Photography: Rick Erfmann
Art Direction: Ekaterina Galetski
Hair Styling: Hester Beek
Hair Colouring: Camilla Turelli
Make-up: Joyce Clerkx for Charlotte Tilbury & Kevin Murphy—Angelique Hoorn Management
All looks: Demask Amsterdam