Photo: Press (Rakans)
„You can always rely on the residents. They know the club, the crowd, the sound system, and they are a pillar of the musical identity of a club, just as important as the architecture, the acoustics or the interior design,” Nick Höppner once said in Groove. Our monthly Resident Podcast aims to give the residents of clubs and collectives working locally and internationally the attention and respect they deserve.
The name already says it all: Rawmantique embraces (supposed) dichotomies, merging a sense of immediateness with a welcoming atmosphere; exploring the tenderness in hard-hitting music. Since its founding in 2019, the Dresden-based event series has mostly been based in the city’s Club Paula and the iconic Sektor Evolution, but has also collaborated with other queer parties and collectives elsewhere.
Rawmantique and RAWM e.V. founder Rakans is without a doubt the main driving force behind this constant exchange and relentless expansion. A resident at Berlin’s Pornceptual nights, the DJ and producer is continuously looking into new avenues for forging new connections with like-minded spirits everywhere. His contribution to our Resident Podcast is, well, both raw and romantic, a blistering yet sensual techno set that is all about self-liberation.
What was your motivation to found Rawmantique in 2019 and how did the other residents get on board?
Rawmantique was an outcome of the lack of diversity within the local scene in Dresden. There was a need for individuals like me who are queer, non-European artists to feel like they belong and expand in new communities without being controlled or manipulated by the mainstream narrative of what a “refugee” or “PoC” could “look like” and what they can “do.” It was and is always a playground for experimenting freely without judgment. It started as small parties in my own flat that eventually started drawing in like-minded artists and partygoers. That eventually also attracted the first residents and artists to come together, share similar values, and create a small underground community that is now a cornerstone of the queer community of Dresden.
How would you describe the underlying philosophy of Rawmantique, both in regards to the music and everything else around it?
Rawmantique is all about freedom—mentally, physically, spiritually. We come together to share more than just dancing, we come together to celebrate our successes, condole each other during times of adversity, and dream together to create safer spaces that are not found elsewhere. It is also an educational journey to all of us, without exceptions—from the team to the crowd. We learn how to never take music for granted, and how music humbles and unites us together under one roof. All equal.
The RAWM e.V. is a non-profit organisation that sprung from Rawmantique. What does your work with that organisation entail?
RAWM e.V. was named after the German word “Raum,” “room” in English, because it was built to create a space for new conversations. It’s a social-based platform that is made to help individuals overcome discrimination and trauma that they experience due to their origin, sexual orientation, gender, and social status through art, solidarity-based cultural events, and education. Anyone can become a full member of this non-profit. Giving a platform to others is very important for me because at some point I did not have the voice that I have now. I’ve always had the courage, but not the tools. This non-profit is a tool to raise your voice and be heard.
The pandemic brought Rawmantique to a grinding halt after the first four official parties between September 2019 and February 2020; besides some other projects like Haus of Raw you did not get to organise another Rawmantique event until July 2021. How has this affected the collective’s work at such an early stage?
In fact, the pandemic has brought us together even more closely. When we couldn’t create physical experiences, we still managed to strengthen our presence digitally in collaboration with other collectives, making the queer presence burst with life online. We’ve collaborated with MyKali magazine, THF Radio, HÖR, and other platforms and curated online parties that many people joined. We know how hard it was for everybody to go through this alone, but we were there all the time.
Most of your events take place in Dresden’s Club Paula or Sektor Evolution. What makes these places a good fit for the Rawmantique parties?
Club Paula has become our home in a way, it wasn’t planned but it was one of the few places that accepted, hosted, and pushed our small queer community to really grow. Dresden’s scene is a beautiful one, nevertheless clubbing culture has a lot of growth to do, especially the owners of big clubs need to give more space and support to smaller collectives, particularly marginalised and queer ones. Although Club Paula is one of the city’s smallest clubs and has only one room, it is home to our most sensual and intimate journeys. This makes many in our crowd feel right at home.
In the recent past, you have organised more and more collaborative events with institutions such as Pornceptual and Mala Junta. Why is working with other collectives so important to you?
I’ve always been inspired by the work of those bigger collectives, the safety they provided to others, and the musical approach they taught their visitors. These leading collectives are schools for younger generations and they push the boundaries within the static, heteronormative electronic music scene. Their founders come from marginalised communities and keep reminding me that you are not alone, that you can be fierce despite all of your experiences, that we are not entitled to our labels, and that we are more than numbers on political agendas and statistics. It’s important to collaborate with others, to create a new fabric that we will leave to other generations after us. We don’t want to leave anyone behind hungry or cold. We will let this blanket provide warmth.
In fact, you are also a Pornceptual resident. Is there a difference between how you approach your sets there as opposed to the ones you play at Rawmantique?
Pornceptual taught me how to embrace my sexual needs. It’s okay to feel puzzled, question yourself, your boundaries, and your sexual emotions. Musically, it all goes hand-in-hand. At Rawmantique I am more sensual, I embrace my feelings, emotions, my tenderness, softness, while at Pornceptual, I am more sexual with the music. I want people to dare and explore, to be brave to take off their shirts and be okay with one another being naked. Rawmantique brings out the romantic side in me, while Pornceptual arouses my sexual instincts and desires. But of course, the concept of consent also plays a huge role. Always ask for consent when you are exploring. Music is my consensual guidebook that brings both worlds emotionally and instinctively together.
You are not only active as a DJ, but also as a live artist and producer. Your latest release, EMERGENCE, was released on your newly launched label. What is this particular record about?
Emerging from the Middle East, with all of my rich culture, mishmashes into my queerness, beliefs, and values. These sounds reference my upbringing within this electronic world. I grew up in Lebanon for a while, although im originally from Nazareth. This is a region that was there before any religion and has witnessed many cultures come and go, from the Canaanites, to the Phoenicians, to the current cultures. There are temples that date back more than 8.000 years, with gods like Astarte and Ashmon, there are stories about prophets like Solomon and the princess of Sidon, to the sun gods in one of the oldest temples in the world in Baalbek, to my Nazareth heritage, and the birth of Jesus and so on. All of this is imprinted in my DNA. I have my Indigenous ancestors with me wherever I go.
You have also recently contributed a piece to an album with remixes of the latest record by the Dresden-based ÄTNA. Your remix of the downbeat ballad “If You Were Gone” is quite distinct from the original. How did you approach this particular remix?
I wanted to create an experience, basically, and not just a remix. I would say it’s rather a portray of a journey. I imagined a physical image of the song, having to walk through landscapes in order to find that “other.” Usually, when you read the title you’d be thinking of “another person.” To me, that “other person” is myself, looking for my identity as a queer Palestinian refugee who is also a touring artist, through the magnifying glass of the world. If I let myself go, I ask myself, what would happen? Although it seems like a lot of self-questioning, the sounds in that track have inspired me to strip down the journey and reach this minimalistic questioning, allowing myself to experience tonalities that give me space to ping-pong my thoughts while dancing.
What was the idea behind your mix for our Resident Podcast?
Texture, a lot of it. Unraveling layers upon layers of self-discovery, self-love, constant movement, pushing the boundary of what’s doable and what’s not, taking the risk, and finally, liberty and freedom. The first track is “Break My Soul” by Beyoncé, and the last one is “Justice” by Orlando Voorn. Music has always been, for me, a quest to self-liberation—from society as well as my thoughts and self.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
This is the most complicated question of all. Everything seems at hand, yet a lot needs to be considered. My answer would be staying humble and human, I guess.
Stream: Rakans – Groove Resident Podcast 45
01. Beyoncé – Break My Soul (Rakans’ Unofficial Unreleased Groove Remix)
02. Tino – Vandalblast
03. Rigor – Various Personalities
04. KIKA (MD) – Crack or Crackers (Original Mix)
05. Volster – Exposition D
06. Snakebite_616 – Delinquent Delivery Levzon – Undistorted
07. Rakans – Tears Away
08. Ribe & Roll Dann – Delirio
09. Lautaro Xavier – WXYFX
10. JEANS – SMOQ
11. Udder J Russel – Heep’s Kalimba
12. Unreleased Track
13. Tension Fold – Slap B
14. Zisko – Create & Destroy
15. LYRIC – Halving (Marcal Remix)
16. React – Uncertain
17. Vel – Do You Pseetrance
18. Toru Ikemoto – Slick94 (Atonism Remix)
19. Jack Jennings – Distant Effects
20. Virdik – Elow
21. RAKANS – Eating Flowers
22. Narciss – Bright Red Bricks
23. Rove Ranger – Ascent
24. Marcel Dettmann – Formula
25. Jancen – Fabula
26. Rebecca Delle Piane – Rutenio
27. Nihad Tule – Theta
28. Rakans – We Are Around You (لا تخاف)
29. Catartsis – Un pas dans le passe
30. Orlando Voorn – Justice