Raven + Crow May Mixtape

Working from home, pacing, post-pandemic partying and the music that sets the tone for it all

We checked in with our friend Troy Farmer from raven + crow at his secure location from our secure location to chat over their most recent mixtape, but the conversation was, of course, tinged by the you-know-what. Anyhow, the mix is lovely and full of glitch-y, sometimes angsty and sometimes just plain pretty, post-future pop lazing sometimes soothingly along that feels right for the moment.

You guys have been WFH  in one capacity or another for quite a while; how has SIP affected your routines (beyond the obvious)?

Troy: Assuming you mean Shelter Implementation Plan and not Savings Investment Plan, yeah, I think it’s fair to say this has all been easier on us than many others. We have a separate design studio that’s literally next door, which is great—all the benefits of separation and a very light commute. Plus we can plan and make extravagant lunches that minimally impact the day now. Neither of which we could say when we had the more traditional fancy office space in the Arts District. Weekends and evenings though, we reeeeeeealllly miss Los Angeles and all its wonderful people, bars, restaurants, and other places we love to explore. It tears at us deeply, being so close to all of that but having to stay away. We’re continuing to do so, though and aren’t letting our guard down.

Our Saving Investment Plan needs far more work though.

Any effects on the way you’re listening to and discovering or perceiving music?

Troy: We really miss going out to shows and discovering new amazing opening acts we hadn’t known before, so that’s gone right now. But it’s amazing how many musicians are using this time to both create anew and to work on and release new music that they were working on before, when they could still get into studios with collaborators. Also it is really cool to see how people are creatively collaborating from afar in these socially distant times. From Dave Bayley of Glass Animals covering “Hotline Bling” remotely with Arlo Parks to Cautious Clay collaborating from afar with HXNS, Melanie Faye, Remi Wolf, Still Woozy, Sophie Meiers, and Claud for his excellent sunny song “Cheesin” on this mix, it’s both impressive and inspiring watching what outlets creativity finds in these weird, unprecedented days that never end.

What roles have you seen music playing in the last few weeks? Either personally or from a broader perspective? (i.e. music as balm, new music as protest)

Troy: We’re definitely being more proactive and deliberate with our music-listening—putting on records more, algorithmically streaming less. And I feel like I’ve been noticing us and others diving into more back catalog, comforting music more often too. You know this because you were part of it, but we reached out to some friends early on to do a two-part collaborative mixtape—one dedicated to soothing, calming pieces of music and one dedicated to everyone’s favorite more boisterous, joyous songs. With so many of our lives in this new strange, amorphous phase, I feel like we need to be more purposeful and intentional with our day-to-day and week-to-week, giving ourselves things to look forward to and allowing ourselves both of those things in kind—calm and joy.

Since that last two-part mix uncharacteristically dove into older music too for us and our partners in mixtape-ology, we wanted this one to be more forward-looking in tone, which I think is important in both the appreciation of music and just in our lives right now—it’s important to look at and be thankful for earlier days, but it’s easy too to get locked into this mindset that things were better before and ignore that good and innovation that I really do think will come in the days ahead.

It’s almost a bit jarring to hear a party anthem like “Nice Guys” in a way… does it give a little respite to think about more social times behind and ahead or are you really in a different zone when listening and not thinking about any of that?

Troy: Yeah, definitely. I think early on, we had a line of thinking that was likely common then; like, “Once this is done, we’re going to have the awesomest, biggest party ever.” Which now seems slightly naïve, that this is going to be something that comes to cliff’s edge end, hard stop. But despite all our shitty faults—of which there are many—we’re pretty innovative as a species. I think we’ll come up with some new ways to party that will likely rival the weirdness of these times in form before we reach the further off days of partying within breath’s breadth.

I think we’ll come up with some new ways to party that will likely rival the weirdness of these times.

What do you make of the way artists have taken to live streaming events? Ways you think it will have effects beyond the current crisis?

Troy: I think it’s great and likely the tip of the iceberg for what we can do in terms of innovation and live music right now. I love too how many musicians are trying to tie their performances into getting some money to their road crews who are going without right now and venues that are really hurting. It’s really wonderful seeing so many individuals and communities step up in so many ways when our local, state, and federal governments are failing us in every way imaginable.

I think it’s put a spotlight too on how many bands there are with romantic partnerships at the core of creative partnerships—Sylvan Esso, Girlpool, Mates of State, tUnE-yArDs (is she still doing that spelling? I have to copy and paste it every time). I’ll be interested to see what everyone does with this time creatively. You know, when we’re not all curled up in the corner of the room sobbing.

Illustration by raven + crow. Photos: Jamie Sinclair (Westerman), Virginie Khateeb (Austra), Rebecca Scheinberg (Denai Moore), Ela Minus (Ela Minus), Nathan Bajar (Cautious Clay), Ruaraid Archilleos-Sarll (Låpsley), Christopher Honeywell (Braids).

Being an increasingly random and stream of consciousness conversation between Whalebone Magazine and Troy Farmer about the series of monthly mixtapes from his Brooklyn-born, Los Angeles-based creative agency, raven + crow studio. Thanks for listening.