After repeatedly escaping into the embrace of his superb new instrumental project Journey, it was a pleasure to chat with the artist behind the music to find out how it all came to be, what it means to him, and what his plans are moving forward in the creative space.
Here’s our interview with Raz Hardy in full.
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Hi Raz – what a pleasure, thanks for the interview! Congrats on the release of Journey, a stunning album. To introduce things, how long have you been making music, and what first inspired you to start?
Hello! I appreciate you having me.
I started with music around 2005 when I was in middle school. There honestly was no real inspiration at the time. My brother had some music programs on his laptop that I started playing around with. Once one of his friends showed me more things to do besides just putting a beat together, I’d say my inspiration then was just trying to get better with this thing that I had fun doing.
What does this project represent for you, and what do you hope people get from it?
This project represents a couple things for me. Ever since I started producing, I remember trying to work with artists and in many cases, they would say, “Your music is dope! I don’t even know if I should rap/sing on it, I just like listening to it.”
I feel like an instrumental album has been sitting in the back of my mind for years since then, so fulfilment is certainly one thing it represents, along with being a more proper introduction of my sound to a wider audience.
I hope people can find a muse within the music. Much of what I do is energized by taking in the art of the creatives around me. I see this as my way of returning that energy.
Do you lead with production and track-building first, or is there an idea or melody lingering that prompts you to head to the studio?
It’s a mix of the two in most cases. This project, however, is a good example of me starting with track-building and just letting the music take me to the next step in the process.
I don’t think anything on here was planned prior. It’s that process that brought me to the name Journey. Every song was a place that I was discovering for the 1st time.
Which track do you feel best represents you as an artist right now?
I would say Where Did Time Go? captures me the best currently. It stands out to me as it sounds like an amalgamation of the different sounds I’ve had during my time producing.
I’m always trying to improve on my current sound, but making sure not to sacrifice some of the more creative quest I had in mind before. This track combines those prior methods into something new pretty well, I’d say.
How did you come up with the title and concept for each track?
I would say they came to me as I was making them. As I mentioned before, I really didn’t have anything planned prior for this project outside of saying to myself, “I should do an instrumental album someday.”
Ase’ is the track that made that thought more intentional. As I was starting to lay it out, that was simply the word that popped in my head that seemed to define it the best. So I approached the rest of the album similarly: start building the track out and let the music define the rest. Every song is named after what the music told me it should be named.
What’s the story behind Where Did Time Go??
This was definitely the most controlled song in terms of how I approached the creative process. I was a bit more intentional with exactly how I wanted the song to build and what instruments I wanted to use to fulfil that.
This was the only song where the name for it came to me from the beginning, so that influenced me alot. I did the main chords first, and it struck me almost immediately, so I wanted to present just how effortlessly time flows when I made it. The way it slowly builds throughout the entire track, yet it’s so calm that it doesn’t really alert you to what’s coming next.
Then I dropped almost all the sounds towards the end to give that jolted feel – that feeling of looking up from being lost in thought and realizing just how much time had gone by.
If there’s any track that represents this entire project, it’s certainly this one.
Has your style evolved much over time, and are there any other genres you’d like to explore?
My style has had a few different shifts. I’ve been producing for 15 years or so now, so I’ve listened to a lot of music and watched different styles and methods fade in and out.
My music now is rather calm compared to where I was before. Big part of that is learning more on the technical side, though, then switching my creative process. I still hear inklings of my old approach in my drums. And since I’ve started, I’ve always had to have a good String or Pad plugin in there somewhere.
I would like to work more with EDM in the future! I’m a huge House and Drum n’ Bass fan. I feel some of my melodies would work just as well there as they do in more Hip-Hop/R&B led productions.
What’s your go-to DAW, and do you have any favourite plugins you can mention?
I’ve been using FL Studio since I started producing. Plenty of other programs that I use as 3rd party plugins inside of it such as Kontakt and Dune.
My favorite plugin right now is Spitfire Audio’s LABS program. They gear their sounds towards film composers, mainly, so the quality is phenomenal and all give a great rising feel to my tracks.
Is collaboration something that appeals to you – featured artists, remixes?
Collabs would be great! I’m open to Featured Artists work. I’ve never done remixes, admittedly, so that would be a new lane for me. Always down for the challenge and growth, though!
What about live performance – what would that entail, and is there a dream venue or event you have in mind?
I’ve done some local beat contests around my area (along with some shows as a rapper), and it’s definitely a space I want to gain more knowledge in.
I currently don’t have a venue in mind. I want to get better with using certain equipment where I can give a dope live experience to my audience. As I achieve that, I’m sure the ideas will start rushing to me in no time!
What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?
You have to feel the music as much as you make it. There’s a lot of intricacies to music making with all types of plugins and more technical aspects to learn in terms of mixing and mastering. It has to start with a feeling though. You have to actually be into the music.
What’s next for you?
I just recently finished a project with a friend of mine where I’m producing and rapping on it. We’re looking to reveal that to our audience soon, so be on the lookout!
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