RARI: exploring the deeper side of atmospheric electronica

Pictures by Olivier Donnet


With the release of an excellent sophomore EP, Quantics, the Brussels-based producer RARI has introduced the world to his ethereal take on live electronic music. Think symphonic strings, cinematic build-ups, and heavy synths — something for the fans of Max Cooper, Rone or Weval. Even though RARI has only just come in the spotlights, his unique style and refreshing approach to music production makes him one to keep an eye on.

Tell us a little something about who you are in real life - and what your music sounds like, for those who have never heard of you.

Although I have a day job, I put all my energy in trying to bring my music come to life. I'm a bit obsessed, but I guess that's how you have to be when you want things to happen. I think ‘joyful rage’ best describes my daily mood. After all, that’s translated to my output. My music can sound loaded with fury, but it always has a hopeful edge to it. Let’s say you can best describe my sound as atmospheric, yet danceable electronic music, with a strong emphasis on textures and harmonies.

You recently dropped second EP, Quantics. What was the idea behind the release?

My debut EP, The Eternal Return, was a sort of extension of my first few singles. It all leaned heavily on the atmospheric side of music because the tracks all had a floating feeling. On this release, I wanted to explore deeper soundscapes and add a bit more density to the overall production. To make an analogy, all the productions can be perceived as tales with heroes, villains, battles and an epic, bittersweet conclusion.

To make an analogy, all my productions can be perceived as tales with heroes, villains, battles and an epic, bittersweet conclusion.

What do you use in the studio, and how do you usually start making a track?

Mostly VST emulations of analogue synthesizers that I layer with a boatload of plugins until I get the general theme of the track. The atmosphere is the base on which I'll start building further. Next, the supporting harmonic synths and rhythms come in. I don’t have guidelines for the beats, and I mostly use organic samples unless elements from classic drum machines seem more appropriate. The textures and harmonies always come before the beat, which makes my music more suitable for live performance than DJ-sets.

So you only perform live? Have you never felt the pressure to do ‘quick and easy’ DJ sets over ‘complicated’ live shows?

I don't see things this way. It's just two different ways of expressing electronic music. I don't place playing live higher above DJ-ing, as long as the DJ’s work is consistent. The RARI-project is currently still in an early stage; considering the time and energy I put into the production, I feel a live approach suits me better. This could change in the future, of course. I need to bring the people something else eventually, but at the moment I’m not there yet.

Which other Belgian artists do you listen to a lot?

I've been quite impressed by the playful voice of Penelope Antenna. She resamples herself to create a unique sound. She's signed on a French label, Kow Tow, which has an incredible artistic vision. Lately, I’ve been listening to Charleroi's Run Sofa a lot too. I like how they do what they want, and you can hear the energy coming out of their ideas. That's the kind of stuff I love to watch live. When it comes to electronic material, I enjoy the Belgian releases on DEEWEE, like Asa Moto, Charlotte Adigéry, etc... Lastly, there’s Haring’s boundless creativity, which makes me look forward to his upcoming album.

What’s your position on collaborating with other artists? Is that something you want to do more in the future?

I'd love to make more collaborations or remixes in the future. Until now, it was more of a planning issue; first I have to release music of myself, but I plan to take more time for studio time with others. Especially working with vocalists is something I'm focused on. Hopefully we can make some progress soon, if the planets align.

Where is RARI going next? How will your sound evolve from here?

Right now, I'm getting back to making new music and trying to sharpen the productions. I'm compiling all my leads, focusing on the good ones and throwing the mediocre ones away. From there, I'll start thinking about how these will be released. Most probably, there will be another EP or several singles. As for my sound, I'm aiming for the right synthesis between love, rage and other cool stuff, maybe some more dancefloor-oriented stuff, who knows?