From the frontline: In conversation with Ukrainian producer Raavel

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February 24th 2023 will mark a whole year since Russia invaded Ukraine.

In that period of time tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced, but what we have seen in response is the steadfast strength and resilience of the Ukrainian population.

Since the war began, many civilians from all walks of life gave up their jobs to join the Armed Forces and help fight on the frontline for their country. DJ and music producer Raavel is one of them.


After volunteering to help wounded civilians and soldiers at a hospital in Kharkiv, he went to Kyiv in March to see off his family before enrolling as a soldier.

In the limited free time he gets he continues to make music, which has taken different sonic directions based on what the day has held; after a difficult day his creations might take on a more dreamy aesthetic whilst on positive days he’ll create more euphoric and punchy sounds, much like his output before the war began.

His cyberpunk-influenced creations have been released on Hamburg’s PAL offshoot LAP and Ukrainian experimental imprint Mystictrax, and most recently he’s debuted on DJ Mell G’s Juicy Gang Records with his Insect Replicant EP, which showcased a different side of his influences, including electro, EBM and breaks.

In between his time spent fighting for his country, he found a moment to speak with us about the impact the last nine months has had on his life, what a normal day on the frontline looks like and his hopes and dreams for the future.

With everything happening in Ukraine at the moment, firstly thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. Can you tell us about how the last nine months have been for you since the invasion began.

Thank you back! In the first days when Russia and full scale war came to Ukraine I was in Kharkiv. Till the 5th of March I volunteered in hospital, helping our warriors and civilians with wounds. Then on 6th March I arrived in Kyiv to send my mother and little brother and sister to another country for their security. From the 8th of march until now I’ve been in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

You’re part of the army fighting on the frontline in Ukraine right now, how was the process of adapting to this new way of living?

For sure, the first days were like a scary dream and I couldn’t fit everything in my head. But after volunteering in a hospital and after everything I’ve seen my mind understand what I need to do.

What does a regular day look like for you at the moment?

So everyday is very different. It’s depends of the situation on frontline. But for example it could look like this…

4-5 AM: our group wake up and have some fast breakfast, then check all our equipment (armour, grenade launchers, weapons, drones etc.); near 6 o’clock we need to be on positions (before we were driving in the dark without any lights, because we had to be be invisible to Russians); then we are working on the whole frontline till night time and then back to the base for replenishment of ammunition.

For many, music is a way of expressing your feelings and can be a means of escaping from the world around you. How has music helped you through this year?

Now it’s very difficult to create some music and mostly all my time I’m on the frontline. But for sure sometimes I’ve got a few free hours for myself and my laptop and midi keyboard with me on the base.

So after some combat I can create a demo track which is based on feelings after battle and I really hope to finish them after we win.


Has your music taken a different direction because of everything happening around you? Has it taken on a new meaning?

Yes! Sometimes after a hard and bad day my brain needs some rest and I’m creating some very dreamy sounds but after day with a good results I feel some euphoria which works for creating some punchy tracks.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your new EP for Juicy Gang? How did the release come together?

So the fundamental inspiration for the style was a combination of my music tastes. Previously I was fully into techno but then I started listening to old school hip hop and breakbeat from the 90s. So what to do if I wanna create music in these totally different styles?! I found the way in was electro. I created the first track, “Blatzer”, and sent it to Mell G because I find our tastes in music very similar and her answer, friendly connection and support of this track inspired me to create all the other’s tracks in this EP! So happy that it’s happened.

Are you working on new music? Any plans for new releases in the future?

Yeah for sure! So many many plans but after we win the war.

What’s your message to those outside of the Ukraine on how they can provide support from afar?

Love, be loved and support each other. Many thanks to everyone who supports Ukraine in these difficult times. With truth on our side and after our winning I wish to see everyone smiling and free breezing.

What are your hopes for the future?

A beautiful world without war, with a lot of different and respectful people with a good taste in music.