24-year-old wunderkind Abraham Orellana, better know as AraabMuzik, has been making beats for the past decade plus. Born to a Dominican/Guatemalan family in Providence, R.I., he was immersed in the world of music from infancy. His mother was a professional singer, and he learned to play the drums by the age of three.
Once his teenaged self got ahold of his signature drum machine, the Akai MPC, things started to pick up. He met DukeDaGod, a rapper, member of The Diplomats, producer and VP of A&R for Diplomat Records. AraabMuzik signed to the label after in 2006. He went on to work with some of the biggest names in popular music including Skrillex, A$AP Rocky, Busta Rhymes and Cam’ron.
AraabMuzik has an uncanny ability to make fast-paced drum beats work with the generally-slower pace of hip-hop and rap songs. Well-known for his skills in producing rapid, rhythmic drum patterns, he layers complex melodies over blissful, high-pitched samples.
He released two compilations in 2013, The Remixes, Vol. 1 and For Professional Use Only. But his debut studio album Electronic Dream remains the standout release of his career. He released the album digitally via iTunes to a resoundingly positive reception that included a placement in Pitchfork Media’s Top 50 Albums of 2011 and medley praises from music critics across the board. Araab has lost neither speed nor gusto and is currently closing out a UK tour that ended in Germany last month.
Hailing from Providence, R.I., Araab–at first glance–comes across as a humble, quiet figure who exudes a zen-like sense of confidence. He seems older than his mere 24 years. After spending some time with him, it’s clear he’s a hard-working, mature young man who chooses his words with a great deal of care and purpose. He’s ostensibly cautious when it comes to his career–a welcome characteristic for a successful, young talent. Through a mix of hard-work, dedication and a carefully-cultivated brand AraabMuzik has managed to reach an enviable level of success. He’s bankable and credible within both the electronica and hip-hop communities.
We were lucky enough to catch AraabMuzik in NYC while he was shooting the video for one of his singles (he was pretty close-mouthed about which single exactly so we’ll just have to wait and see). Hint: There were huge silver balloon letters and, of course, a packed out dance floor involved. We chopped it up about graduating high school when he was already in the industry, staying humble and hungry, and DJing in the sky ten years from now. Check it out below and stream one his latest AraabMuzik Mondays singles, “Ghost Story,” above.
You’ve been making music for over a decade now. Did your parents approve when you first started?
Yeah, definitely. It was a talent that I had with music. I had it with me since I was born. I was always grabbing whatever I could and just banging out on stuff until I got my first drum set at the age of six. That’s where the stuff with instrumentals came in.
How did you get into contact with “the right person”to break into the music industry?
Through a good friend who was already in the industry. He wanted me to send my stuff out too, because I had all this good music that wasn’t being placed or heard. He gave me the right contact and from there it was just history, like so fast.
Wow well you’re super blessed, normally in the entertainment industry it can be a long, hard road. Do you ever feel like you missed out by not taking a more typical life path?
No, not at all, never [laughs]. I’m fine with finishing high school. That was a real challenge for me, just because I got into the industry at such a young age. I still had to deal with school and going back and forth between home and New York. I was trying to focus on my music, but at the same time school came first. It was just hard for me to concentrate on the work I had to do. I was always doing music. Once I finished school, music became full-time. A lot of people don’t graduate, so it was really important for me to actually accomplish that and go on to do what I wanted to do.
How do you navigate moving from the electronica world, to live performances and then the studio-dirven hip-hop world?
Music is music, whatever genre it is. I’ve always been versatile, I never stuck with one sound. So, I got into the electronica scene around 2007- 2008 and then I released the Electronic Dream album on iTunes. That was just something I put together and released, I didn’t expect it to get so big because I didn’t promote it or anything. For me to be in the electronica world was easy because of what I do already.
It took time for me to actually learn the music performance-wise because you can’t play whatever. You have to play what the crowd wants to hear. The shows can be overwhelming with so many fans waiting for you to do what you do.
Then you go back to the studio the next day and you’re working with all these hip-hop legends. Then you have to go back out and tour. It’s cool to see someone from hip-hop in the EDM world. It’s balance, it’s not like one is more important to me than the other.
Our environment is largely dictated by how we respond to situations and you seem like a calm dude. What helps to keep you so grounded?
Just the way I was raised, the people I’m surrounded by. It’s about just staying humble and not forgetting where you come from. Don’t become something you aren’t. I just always remain the same. That’s something everyone really respects and admires, because this world obviously changes a person.
What’s one hard lesson you’ve taken from your years in the industry? Maybe a personal mantra or motto of sorts?
I just remind myself to remain hungry so I can stay on top and move to the next level. You always want to grow; the sky is the limit. Those are things you have to keep in mind, because there’s always someone trying to take your spot. You always got to maintain and keep up.
Could you describe a time where you were unprepared or caught unawares during a performance?
Yeah, there’s been times when shows don’t go too well with the system or something crashes. That’s every artist–little things like that but you just learn from that, just always be prepared and rehearse so that show time goes smoothly.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years, best case scenario? If things keep going the way you want them to go.
Music nowadays is not timeless. It’s always just for the moment, all these songs that you hear now are never going to be played 10 or 20 years from now. Everything I put out is aiming to be classic music. That’s for everything from scoring movies, to doing video games, to acting–all types of stuff. It’s already 2014 so who knows from now until then, a lot of technology will come out, I’ll probably be DJing in the sky or something.