Tom Halstead and Joe Andrews have been making music as Raime since 2010 and have finally released their debut album, Quarter Turns Over A Living Line, on Blackest Ever Black. In many ways they are the central Blackest act, with their tense, dank aesthetic infiltrating and sewing together the worlds of techno, dubstep, ambient and industrial musics to truly terrifying effect.
One thing that strikes me about your music is the idea of emotion or “soul” in music, where the soul is found somewhere unusual, somewhere dark or awkward. A sense of strange “alien beauty” as you’ve put it yourselves. Is that something you can consciously look for when creating your own sounds?
I’m not sure it’s always as explicit as the idea of soul perhaps but we are certainly looking for sounds that resonate emotionally but are maybe a bit more complex or ambiguous. We would never want to do something directly spiritual because that’s not really who we are but experimenting with more emotional sounds and juxtaposing them with darker elements or atmosphere’s is definitely part of what interests us. Its quite a hard balance to strike because if its slightly out then either one takes over and tension is lost. This balance is really what takes so much time in the studio. We spend a long time trying to work it out so that you’re never given all of what you expect.
I haven’t seen you live yet and one of the things I’m interested in seeing is how you fill the space of a large room. Has the way you engage with large systems and large rooms changed since you began playing live? Have you had to consider the way your sound affects people physically with that kind of power behind it?
Even before we had ever played live we always considered the physical effects of what we were trying to make. In particular the low end which was influenced by both UK bass over the last 20 years and doom metal equally really, we were always looking for the weight that both these genres had produced and always tried to imagine how it would feel on a bigger system. The physicality of the sound was also an atmospheric choice too because in some cases we were looking for that sense of density that really adds to the feeling of a piece. I think as time has gone on we have understood what works live a bit better in contrast to the studio and interestingly the more simplicity we have achieved in the studio, the easier it has translated to a live context. However this desire for simplicity wasn’t driven by its success live, this was just a general desire to say everything with less.
Do you feel there are political implications to your music, your aesthetic? Is it something you think about at all? Or is that something for other people to decide themselves?
People relate to culture because it reflects things they identify with and I would argue that this identification is never singular and total but different things to different people. By this I mean that the sound, textures or atmosphere of a piece of music can simply be enough for someone to be affected by it, even if the political intent of the artist isn’t fully embraced or replicated. We feel similar as we have some of the same influences but don’t desire to make explicitly political statements. I think we are more interested in our music being part of a political context, rather than a means to spell out our opinions.
I was really interested in a thing you said recently about using music to add intensity and drama to parts of your life that aren’t particularly intense or dramatic. Why do you think it’s important to feel those kinds of emotions at times when they don’t reflect anything about your given situation – going down the shop for milk for instance?
I would say it’s important because it gives you the chance to transcend your environment, which can be both liberating and pretty inspiring. I guess this happens to people with all different forms of culture but for us it’s music that has the most impact. There are mundane parts to our lives and seeing them differently through the juxtaposition of dramatic music is just something that has always had a big impact on us. Maybe it’s from growing up in the suburbs, you are always looking for ways to make life more interesting.