Rabit Shines A Light On His Dark Sound
Rabit. Photo: Rogue Agency
In the vast expanses of Houston, we have so much talent that seems to fly under our radar that it’s hard to believe that anyone can ever seem to make it out of this town. But what can be said about those who get praise from pretty much every other city, every other media outlet, and every other cluster of artists and music fans, but they get nothing from their own city? For the incredibly elusive music producer Rabit, that’s been his reality. Getting written up everywhere from Pitchfork to The Guardian, Rabit has been given plenty of praise for his intense sounds, his steady work flow, and his fervent live sets. Last year alone he dropped an EP called Baptizm only to follow up with a full length called Communion. This year he’s stayed just as productive, dropping collaborations with Dedekind Cut on R&D, Chino Amobi on Burning Tower, and Elysia Crampton on The Demon City. In his first Houston interview, Free Press Houston decided to find out what influences his dark sound, what he has planned for his first live set here in almost three years, and how he has the time to stay so productive.
FPH: You’re from Houston, but you were originally born in Galveston, correct?
RABIT: Nope, I was born on the East coast and moved to Texas later.
FPH: I’ve read that artists like Z-RO, Screwed Up Click, and Geto Boys were huge inspirations for you. Have you ever offered to collaborate with any of the rappers from Houston that inspired you?
RABIT: Screw tapes, S.U.C, Rap-A-Lot Records, UGK, Z-Ro, Trae, The Color Changin’ Click, Slim Thug, all things I soaked up when I moved here. The picture each artist painted of the South, I like to think I added that to my work, and applied it to what I do. To answer your question, no I haven’t tried to collaborate with any of them. It would be amazing to work with someone like Scarface. I would love that. But the styles need to mesh on a genuine level. That takes time and work. I might do that with a friend, and that’s how I look at my collaborative projects, as a meeting of two entities that create a new thing that didn’t exist before. Working with a total stranger is another thing completely.
I guarantee you I could make someone a classic album, though, because beats are what I started with. But I don’t do the whole “send me beats” thing with a stranger. That’s why the only vocal track I’ve ever done was for Riko Dan. I’ve had some of the biggest rappers right now ask me to send beats at random, and it is a road to nowhere, so I don’t do it. They won’t appreciate the idea because it’s ahead of its time in terms of pop music, so it ends up being a waste of my resources.
FPH: You’ve done more work in the past year than some artists do in five years. The Baptizm EP, the Communion album, the Burning Tower collaboration with Chino Amobi and the recently released “The Demon City” track with Elysia Crampton as well as the R&D Dedekind Cut (Lee Bannon) release..how do you have time to work on each project and continue to tour?
RABIT: I make the time, because getting out the ideas is an essential part of me staying sane. And I want the latest project to be a higher level of sound design or conceptualism than the last one. So it’s a challenge with myself. And it also gives me the opportunity to change how I look at the world each day, taking on a new concept is like taking on a new body. I’m going to familiarize myself with new topics and try to abstract things in my world, or make a new one.
FPH: The press has referred to you as a grime artist who is dark and political, but you have more layers than that it seems. What would you describe your sound as?
RABIT: It could be called experimental. Hard club. You could call it severo. You can’t really name a style that keeps changing.
FPH: You’ve gotten press from pretty much every corner of the globe, including mainstays like Pitchfork, The Guardian, NPR, and The New Yorker; but never or at least rarely here in Houston. Do you think that the press in Houston has a problem with recognizing their own?
RABIT: That’s a loaded question, and hard to answer without hurting people’s feelings. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
FPH: You haven’t performed in Houston in a good while, almost three years I believe. What should people expect when you return on July 30th?
RABIT: A noise opera in three parts, with live dance by House Of Kenzo.
You can catch the dark and hard sounds of Rabit when he performs a rare Houston set at Walters this Saturday, July 30th. A collaborative dance performance from San Antonio’s House of Kenzo will accompany his set. The all ages show will also feature sets from Austin footwork producer Supraman, Houston’s Josiah Gabriel, and Future Blondes. The doors are at 8 pm and the tickets between $12 and $15.