Having recently played Jazz Cartier’s show here at U of T, Raajan Aery constitutes a fresh face in the local music scene. The Ottawa-born, Chicago-raised and now Toronto-based artist says these different experiences have shaped his perspective and approach to making music. The Varsity sat down with him to get his take on balancing school and music, his upcoming projects, and what it takes to be a great producer.
The Varsity: When did you begin taking producing and DJ-ing seriously?
Raajan Aery: It wasn’t really until my first year of university, in which I began listening to house and hip-hop, that I began producing things here and there. Though the last couple of years I have been doing this seriously; my third year I began Djing and doing events. Toronto is really emerging as a musical hotbed for talented artists to break, so being in a space that is energetic right now is inspiring.
TV: What would you say is the mark of a good DJ/producer, if there is one?
RA: With respect to production, I think there are two kinds of ‘quality’ producers. The first is one who distinctly knows his sound in and out, and can make infinite iterations of songs without it getting boring. The second kind of producer is one that can make any type of song, regardless of genre, effortlessly. DJ Dahi (Drake- Worst Behaviour) is a good example of someone who has pivoted his stuff so that he can work with hip-hop greats, but work with other legends, like Madonna.
TV: Are there any songs that are your constant go-to’s for events you play?
RA: I’m really into any remixes or trap mixes of Southern songs. Songs I’ve noticed that get the crowd hype are Jumpin’ like Jordan by Rich the Kid ft. Migos (Gravez remix) and Bricks by DJ Carnage ft. Migos.
TV: If we were to look at your music collection (physical or digital), what artists would we see?
RA: My deepest collection right now includes Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Partynextdoor, Odd Future, Drake, Disclosure, to name a few. Though I still find myself returning to artists of my past—I still listen to bands like Underoath. I’ve also been listening to Nas, Missy Elliot—basically anything produced by Timbaland or Pharrell. I’m not too familiar with old school hip-hop, but my uncles are trying to get me into older discography, which has been an interesting undertaking.
TV: How do you balance your time as a full-time student at UofT and your DJing/producing?
RA: To be honest, I’m not very good at balancing time between school and music. I like to focus on what I am doing and ensure I produce a quality product, but unfortunately, when an essay needs to get turned in, that simply takes priority.
TV: What are some projects you have lined up that we can look forward to?
RA: Well, I recently released a 3-track hip-hop project titled “Wake Up” with AtMOS, a Chicago-based rapper. I plan on dropping some new mixes in the next few weeks; “Move that Dope” by Future, “Still Got It” by Usher ft. Migos, and an Amy Winehouse x Biggie Smalls mash-up. I’ve also branched out a little bit and will be collaborating with a pop-vocalist from Toronto, which will be cool.
TV: Where can your music be found?
RA: [It] can be found on Soundcloud.