Nick Raven may be a fairly fresh face on the Kiwi music scene, but that hasn’t slowed him down from releasing a debut album, ‘Love and Lomography’. His music evokes the introspection of a desert traveller; each plaintive song seems glimpsed through a heat haze, staying around just long enough to get stuck in your head before slipping away again.
Even from his earliest days music has played a vital role in Raven’s life.
“I had guitar lessons from when I was seven,” he says. “I guess I just found myself in music – or music found me.”
Now just 19 years old, Raven has already racked up a variety of accolades. It wasn’t long after his high school band Razor Fox managed to pick up the Schick Style Award at the national finals of the 2010 Smokefreerockquest, before deciding he was ready to forge ahead with a solo career.
He soon found himself touring the North Island and playing bFM’s Freak the Sheep Christmas Special alongside Goodshirt and Julia Deans. A recording grant from Zeal West led to his first EP, ‘Happy You Hippie Me‘, and from there a full album recording seemed like a natural progression.
‘Love and Lomography’ retains all of Raven’s live lo-fi aesthetic while leaving room for experimentation.
“I recorded it in my room over six months. I’m a real gear geek, so I love recording and mucking around with tones and effects.”
That at-home-exploration results in a heady blend of DIY authenticity, his reverb-drenched vocals lend the indelible mark of psychedelia to songs like Butterfly High (But I Fly So High) – and indeed, the album as a whole.
“It is total creative freedom,” he says, speaking of his completely self-directed projects. “Pretty much I can do anything I want.”
While seclusion and complete creative control might be daunting for other young solo musicians, for Nick Raven, it’s exactly what he wanted.
“For a solo project, I would much prefer to record myself,” he says. “In a band situation, I would rather be recorded by an engineer and work with a producer. I guess the downsides to self-recording are that you sometimes don’t have all the gear you need, and it’s easy to be limited by the resources you have.”
Despite limitations Raven manages to take fairly simple rhythmic and melodic elements and execute them with style and ingenuity. The careful layering of textures culminates in a collection of songs which is intricate, thoughtful and immersive.
With the enthusiastic backing of Powertool Records for his debut album and plans to tour the country in the works, doubtless well be hearing a lot more from Nick Raven in the near future.