A man of passion, purpose, and integrity, Loch Raven the DJ/producer from Baltimore is taking basement sessions to the next level. Growing up with a father in politics, community service whether political or artistic, is in the blood of Andrew Mallinoff. From his activism for education equality to his enriching beat making like his latest remix for fellow Baseline artist Rob Love’s “Blue”, Loch Raven is working toward a better world. A world with a united community of diverse humans crafted by collective action and most importantly great music. In this exclusive interview with OneEDM, Loch Raven shared his love for his work, hopes for the future, and plans for his career.
OneEDM: You’re a passionate activist that has been involved in a number of community issues. From local Baltimore high school efforts to political, like the Obama campaign. Why is that so important to you? How and when did that part of you blossom?
Loch Raven: I started getting involved in activism at a really young age. My dad always worked in local politics and he used to let me tag along to campaign rallies, meetings and events. Being a part of something that felt bigger than me really captured my attention and I wanted to learn more. My first paid community organizing gig was for the Obama campaign in 2012. It was during that experience that I discovered how everyday people could create real change in their communities with collective action. In my view, it’s our responsibility to work towards a better world whenever and wherever we can.
You’ve shared in a recent interview how you tend to be very intuitive to peoples emotions and how that isnt always easy, but as a performer it is a great skill to have in communicating with the audience. With the worlds current atmosphere being heavily emotionally triggered. How does Loch Raven keep themselves emotional strong and intelligent?
The past year or so has been incredibly tough for everyone. We’ve been through a collective trauma that I’m not sure we even fully understand the impact of quite yet. Although one of the upsides for me has been the opportunity to re-evaluate how I spend my time and realizing that I don’t have to be constantly busy to feel “productive”. I stay energized these days by getting at least 8 hours of sleep, taking regular walks to be outside and protecting the time I spend on music production as an important creative outlet.
When COVID-19 hit, it removed a lot of distractions for people to visit parts of themselves. For you this allowed time to focus on your music. Looking back, were those distractions ever worth not giving time to your passions?
I can’t say I regret how I was living pre-COVID. Like a lot of folks, I was going through the motions of a routine that made sense at the time. All of that was disrupted during COVID and it caused me to take a hard look at how I was spending my time. And when it came to launching my own music project, I finally said to myself, “Look, this is something you have always wanted to do and now you have the time to really focus on making it happen. Might as well make the most of it.” That’s the kind of energy I’m trying to channel going forward.
During this pandemic we all have lost a big chunk of our freedom and yet at the same time many people have gained more. From friendships, to business opportunities, and new found self expression. What have you gained from this past year that you can say you are truly grateful for?
So many things! I’m grateful to have finally launched Loch Raven. I had an amazing adventure driving across the country in a 1977 school bus (including getting stuck in Texas in a snow storm). And I’m incredibly thankful for this opportunity to rethink my priorities, to come to a better understanding of my values and to truly appreciate all of the experiences I took for granted pre-COVID.
What was your education like growing up? Did you personally experience limited access to education or witnessed others experience a lack of education?
I had access to wonderful educational and personal development opportunities (like music and sports). And I credit a lot of this to my privilege being a white male growing up in a middle class family. All of the doors are already open for folks like me. What I’ve seen as a community organizer in Baltimore is that these same doors are closed to students of color. In fact, it’s more like they don’t even have access to the room at all. Something that I’ve spent a lot of time advocating for is equitable access to educational resources and the opportunities that a good education provides. I think that means intentionally bringing students of color into networks of privilege so that those same doors that are open for me could open for them too.
“The arts give us the tools for creative enrichment and self-expression. They help us make sense of the often-complicated experience of being a human.”Loch Raven
How important are the arts included in education to you? What does studying art along with academic provide for a student?
It’s not too surprising that I think the arts are incredibly important, not just to a well-rounded education, but to growth and development overall. The arts give us the tools for creative enrichment and self-expression. They help us make sense of the often-complicated experience of being a human. And even as our society is becoming extremely polarized politically, the arts are continuing to provide a public forum for discussing the cutting edge issues we’re dealing with in a way that’s healing and unifying. Training in the arts gives young people a voice in these conversations that they often don’t get otherwise. Take Amanda Gorman, our 23 year old national poet laureate, for example. Her words will now live in U.S. history books even though her journey as an adult is just beginning.
You have a very clear and obvious love for nature. From Loch Raven where you grew up exploring to other state parks. Would performing or writing in nature be something of interest in you? Say like a camping festival?
Yes definitely! I have this dream of performing at the Observatory– a stage at Electric Forest that’s in the middle of the forest surrounded by the giant cedar trees. Or The Gorge, which is the legendary venue on the cliffs of the Columbia River in Washington. I draw a lot of inspiration from the woods and the elements of nature for my music. Performing in a natural setting would be an incredible opportunity to share that inspiration with others. That’s one of the reasons I’ve loved doing these livestreams! I’ve been able to pick outdoor settings that are moving to me and share them with whoever watches.
Are there times when the last thing you’re in the mood for is to write music, and do you allow yourself to experience that disinterest? Or do you have a method to get yourself in the mood like your colored lighting?
I love that my studio lights got a shout out. They really do help create the vibe! Setting is so important to creativity. When I realized how long it was going to be before I could go to a show again, I thought maybe I should create a little club in my basement/music studio. Sometimes though there are moments where I don’t feel inspired to write. Or I will sit down and try for hours to come up with a new idea and it doesn’t go anywhere. I just have to remind myself that it’s part of the process. Any time spent writing is not time wasted and if I get frustrated, it’s okay (and probably better) to walk away and come back to it later.
What can we expect from you next, including this spring and summer?
I have a bunch of releases lined up! My (rather ambitious) goal is to release a new song every month or so while I’m building up my artist profile. My longer-term plan for later this year is to release an audio/visual concept EP that ties together some of the broader themes that influence my music. Also hopefully you’ll start to see me on some lineups for shows this year as venues open up again!
If you could give one message to the world as Loch Ravens legacy what would that be?
Your personal destiny is one step away. I think the secret they never tell you is that no one has it figured out and you can’t plan your way there. Just take the next best step and then be sure to take a moment to realize how far you’ve come.