Polish drum & bass producer Ravager has a single, Missing You, forthcoming on DJ Ollie's Direct Recordings. Ravager tells us all about himself and gives us an exclusive guest mix.
Please introduce yourself briefly...
My name is Jacek Siedlaczek aka Ravager, and I'm a 27-year-old DJ / producer hailing from Bydgoszcz in Poland. Not only am I a musician but I'm also a graphic designer, marketing specialist and, for the most, a big fan of every broken beat music genre.
When did you first try your hand at DJing and producing?
I first started producing music about ten years ago. I've always enjoyed good, rare and original music and with the help of free demo software, relatively easy access to samples and tutorials, I gained the essential knowledge of how to write a tune. Making my own sounds was very satisfying and sharing it with others at parties was a natural consequence.
I started collecting records and playing out around six years ago. Since I had a basic knowledge of music composition and arrangement, I found DJing relatively easy. A short time after buying my first vinyl records I played my first gig at a club in my hometown. Since then I travelled across Poland, sharing my passion for breakbeats, promoting the music and spreading the vibe.
How would you describe your approach to making music?
I like to think of myself as a creative person. Making things, drawing, painting, designing, making music and DJing are all ways I choose to express myself. It's like showing the people who I am, what I'm thinking about and what I'm up to at the very moment. An ultimate non-verbal art statement.
I usually start making a tune with the drums, as they tend to define style and vibe for the whole track. After I'm happy with the sound of the drums, I layer the basslines. At this point, I'm always careful to check that everything is clearly audible and that there isn't any clashing or other errors, as drums and the bassline are going to be the loudest and most present elements in the final mixdown.
Next I add some effects, leads, riffs, random synths, bleeps, pads, all the musical elements. I then start making a loop out of the whole thing. The loop usually is around 32 to 64 bars long and represents the main drop of the tune. After it's done I spread this loop through the whole arrangement, accenting some parts, adding or removing musical elements to create variations of the pattern. Sometimes when I finish the arrangement I realise that it doesn't sound like my original idea at all, however it does express my actual impressions, evolving up to the last tweak.
What's your studio setup like?
My set up is pretty simple - an old PC with M-Audio interface, 3-octave Edirol PCR-300 midi keyboard and Alesis M1 Active Mk2 monitors. I like to keep it simple because, paradoxically, it leaves more room for creativity. When it comes to sequencing, FL Studio has always been my weapon of choice. I've used it since version two (when it was still Fruity Loops). It just fits my all my needs. I also like it because it's preserved workflow from old tracker software. Obviously the quality and possibilities have improved dramatically since that time. I also use a lot of VST instruments such as Massive, Z3ta+ or Sylenth. For testing out the tunes (especially A/B testing) and improving DJ skills, two Technics decks and Serato with a MacBook are my best companions.
Tell us more about your forthcoming release on Direct... what did you have in mind when you made it?
One moody spring weekend I was sitting in front of my PC - bored to death with over compressed kicks and snares, so I started experimenting with some liquid style drums. I made four projects that weekend, by the end of the very next week four separate tunes were ready. They were pretty different from each other, but still in one genre – liquid funk. I sent all four tunes to DJ Ollie at Direct Recordings who released my Get Satisfied single, he picked Missing You and after playing it a few times he decided to put it out.
I made an instrumental version at first, but I felt it lacked character. After experimenting with various old house acapellas I decided the one I used in the final version was the best one. After a few weeks Ollie announced that Zen would be remixing the tune. I must say I really love Zen tunes, he made a really big tune out of it which has been supported on 1Xtra, by DJ Hype on Kiss as well as in the clubs. The release feels complete, there's something for the fans of smooth rollers and something for the pure smashing rinse-out lovers.
Got any other releases in the pipeline we should look out for?
Right after Missing You there will be a re-release of my previous tune called Raindrops with some sick drum & bass, dubstep and glitch remixes from Inv3rsion, Phrenik, Samples and Kat1lyst. After that, two remixes will see the light of day: Blunt Instrument - Sack Full (Ravager Drumstep Remix) and Shotgun Radio feat. Mimi Page - A Bad Place (Ravager Remix).
After those, my first dubstep release is scheduled, 8 Bit Hollywood and Deadly Cosmic Rays. All these tunes will come out on Simplify and should be available over the next few months. I've also got few collabs lined up, including more stuff with my mate Livewire and a tune with Sidius from Steam.
What else have you been working on recently?
I run many projects at once. As I mentioned a few collabs are on the way. I do like teamwork when it comes to production, it's really inspiring and improving on many levels. I'm also experimenting on developing a unique sounds and patches library for use in my own tracks. I already have my own sample library, but I really want to expand it so I can get my production to another level and develop something really original. It takes time but it's definitely worth it.
What's the scene like where you live and in Poland in general?
The vibe and overall atmosphere is completely different from what I can observe of the UK scene. Due to the low popularity of drum & bass as a genre here, most of the parties are more like underground events for people that already know what this music is about. Once a month there are nights with headliners from outside Poland, but these events only take place in a few major cities. There also aren't many producers here, however in the very last few months, the interest in drum & bass has been increasing rapidly. Hopefully this trend will last. Also when it comes to sub-genres, Polish preferences are pretty much different to British tastes. People seem to enjoy more dark, heavy vibes. They are more into mellow, deep and rolling stuff than liquid funk or jump-up. All depends on the crowd and region though.
Are you making any other styles of music apart from drum & bass?
I tend to believe that when making drum & bass one actually makes many different styles but then just speeds them up to the appropriate tempo. Such a variety of influences and sub-genres makes producers truly multi-genre artists. I do experiment with lots of styles - but eventually I change the bpm rate and make drum & bass tunes out of them. Dubstep and deep house are the usual off-shoot projects I make.
Tell us a bit more about your mix for us…
In my mix I wanted to introduce you to sounds and artists you probably haven't heard yet. You can think of this mix as a showcase of the fresh talents that I believe will leave their mark on scene in the near future. It's also filled with some old and new anthem teasers for your listening pleasure.
Where can people see you play in the near future?
I'm taking a bit of a break right now, however, starting from September I will be playing out at a few parties around Poland. Check out my social network streams for more details.
What do you get up to outside of music?
My lovely fiancee, markers, paint, two cats, friends and regular daily job keep me busy in my spare time.
Anything else you want to tell us about?
Missing You will be available to buy from 15th August. I would also like to thank all the people who've supported me through all these years and made me who I am now. All the people I worked with, played out… oh, you know who you are. Thanks guys! And now, let the beats roll.
Download Ravager's Kmag guest mix here
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