Producer, DJ, graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, designer and coffee drinker – Martin, aka. V.Raeter, is all this and more. The all-rounder from Berlin designed the “Mascot” T-shirt for us. In an interview, he talks about inspirations and how he works, about his inner child and his love of Adventure Time.
You have been a DJ and producer for over 20 years. What is it that still excites you? I am always pleased every time I have created something that I like. Producing is a nerd thing. My music is based on samples. You find one thing and then another, and you keep digging deeper. New worlds keep opening up. If you love it, you will always keep doing it. Obviously the business part can spoil the pleasure, especially in the world of hip hop. I make music for myself, because I have to do it. That means positive feedback is so much nicer.
In an interview with ALL GOOD, you said that the line “Real Rhymes, not your everyday hologram” from MF DOOM is often a motto for your work. Why? It’s just about doing things differently, finding new approaches. I come from a time when it was extremely important to have your own style. If you were wearing the same shoes as the next guy, you weren’t cool. Today, the music of successful producers often sounds very similar, whether Trap of Lo-Fi. It’s a generation type beat. For me, the biggest compliment is if someone says: “That sounds like you.”
Are you a nostalgic person? I don’t think so. I try to be in the ‘now’, to react positively to things. Not everything was better in the past; not everything was worse. Recently, I have caught myself thinking back to old times. I do have a fairly long journey behind me. Everything that happens feels like a new success. If something special happens, I often think: “Wow! Now things are really picking up.” That’s how it has been for over 20 years now.
What is your fondest memory? There are many moments I remember that put a smile on my face. For example, I was in New York in September 2019 and it was a brilliant time – fantastic, positive energy and I still draw on that. But, like I said: I am happy every time something new happens. The climax is not here yet.
How did you get into drawing? I started drawing as a child. It’s the easiest thing; all you need is pencil and paper and then everything is calm. I drew things that I thought were cool – for example, the Peace Race, bicycles. But we also had West German television; I saw Star Trek and Batman there and I painted the characters.
As a child, what was your greatest dream? I remember pretty well that, at some point, I realised my best friend’s father was a graphic designer. That was in year 3. Suddenly I became aware that you can earn money from drawing. Before that, I always saw work as something not fun. That’s when I knew I wanted to follow this career.
Which cartoons have travelled with you for a long time? Star Trek also existed as an animated series and I still find that cool, even now. I have a heart for science fiction. For me, Adventure Time is a perfect series; I love all the characters – I find them inspiring but also troubling. Sometimes I can’t watch it, as it’s too good. On the surface, Adventure Time is a children’s series but it is brought to life by the details, jokes and references that children don’t understand at all.
What are the similarities between producing and illustration? You’re composing something, making a collage of various references and associations. I bring things together and use them to tell a new story; likewise with cooking. For me, it’s all the same: a dish made of various ingredients. Whether you like it is ultimately a question of taste. All these areas also play with height and depth, whether sound waves or flavour nuances or gradation curves. I love designing.
Anthropomorphism is a recurring element of your drawings. Why does this form of character depiction play a central role in your work? I have no idea where that comes from. There must have been an inspiration for it. I think it’s good that it breaks up the characters. It has a cuteness, like Japanese cars with headlights that have to look friendly. I try to maintain a childish nature, not to be grown up but rather to see the world like a child. As a child, there are no rules. When you draw, anything is possible. That’s why I can put trousers on a dog.
Those who follow you on Instagram, will frequently see painted takeaway coffee cups. Do you keep them all? Yes. I do also give some away, but only if it happens in the situation. There have even been exhibitions with the cups. I like the cups, because I can design freely there. The pictures stand entirely on their own and hold little surprises, like when the hand in a trouser pocket comes out of an ear.
Takeaway culture is generally important to you, even if your song titles can be seen on “Alltimers”. What is the fascination for you here? The white cup is a great canvas to draw on. It’s obvious to me that it’s not a sustainable concept, but what I do with the cups is upcycling. I still have loads of unpainted cups at home and I keep those too. They have to be used. Because I’m generally out and about a lot and I run a lot, I often come into contact with takeaway products, like the curried sausage just now.
What were the first trainers you bought for yourself? Do you still remember? The first trainers that I really saved for were Adidas Forum Low, with a Velcro fastener and light blue stripes. I bought them in 1998 and they cost 240 marks. I still celebrate those shoes today – there was never a re-issue in that design. I wore them until I went through the soles.
Your absolute basic is a white T-shirt, isn’t it? I think white T-shirts are great. As a child, I always wore shirts. But the white T-shirt is also a good base for drawings. T-shirts with a print certainly have a statement factor; it’s very easy to get messages across with them in a very striking way, like an advertising pillar. The perfect example is the WALK CLEAN lettering on the ekn mascot shirt, which I designed.
How did that collaboration come about? I have known Marek Bäuerlein for a long time and I was really pleased when he approached me with the idea. He wanted this cheeky acorn, and I was ecstatic. I have been watching ekn for a long time and I think it’s really cool that Marek has ended up with them. They’re showing courage there and taking an edgy path. When I was asked to design a shirt, I was on board immediately.
Do you have a favourite ekn product? Yes: the keysleeve that I’m carrying now, in yellow. When I saw it, I immediately thought it was great. And then I thought: “Do I really need it?” Since I’ve had it, I’ve used it all the time.
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V.Raeter on Instagram
V.Raeter on Spotify
Interview by Till Wilhelm
Photos by @maxmdy and @vraeter