Mainard Larkin AKA Randa is an up and coming New Zealand Rapper whose infectious rhymes have been in my head since February. Even if rap is not your go-to genre, Randa could certainly be the one to change the game for you.
It is with such great pleasure that I play a track by this artist to someone who has never heard the name Randa before. Firstly, the person I play his music to will be confused. “Who is this?” They will ask with raised eye brows trying to resist the temptation to instantly get caught up in the sound. This will be followed a slight nodding of the head or tapping of the foot. Next they’ll be using Randa’s rhymes as the soundtrack to their morning routine (well it gets ME pumped for the day).
I was stoked that Randa took a minute to answer some questions about what it’s like for a transgender, white rapper from the bottom of the world trying to make it in the music business.
How did your career in the music industry start out?
In mid-2011 I started recording music in my bedroom using a midi keyboard and Macbook setup. The earlier works were super experimental and almost fragmented but became more formed and developed over time. I uploaded my first track to Bandcamp in December of that year and shortly after, someone from Radioactive FM (a station based in Wellington, NZ) messaged me via Facebook letting me know it was amongst their weekly top 10 requested tracks. So I guess in a way my career started out because of the internet. That’s also where I discovered my influences, artists like Earl Sweatshirt and Teebs etc.
I hear loads of references to the 80’s and 90’s in your tracks. Why do you choose to write about this era?
When I began writing songs I focused my writing around things which stood out to me and represented colour as well as a positive mindset. I grew up watching an insane amount of television including a plethora of American sitcoms. North American culture has always appealed to me and growing up felt like a happy escape mentally.
Tell me about the first time you heard yourself on the radio or on T.V
I remember watching Frankenstein on TV for the first time, it was quite surreal! It aired on a nationwide music show called Select Live on Channel Four, right after a Selena Gomez clip haha.
When you’re not making music what are you likely to be doing?
If I’m not making music I’m probably making graphics on Photoshop, planning shows, drinking lots of coffee, snapping 35mm or working my part time burger job.
I’m obsessed with Grimes. What was it like to be her supporting act?
It was outrageous, Grimes is an artist to her core and extremely down to Earth. I was quite new to the music scene at the time, having the opportunity to open for a creative musician like her was a very positive and inspiring experience. I was planning to go along just as a fan so getting to play was too much cool.
Where do you see yourself in a year’s time?
I see myself continuing to further develop my sound and visual aesthetic, hopefully touching down overseas and playing some international shows also! I’d also really love to work on more collaborative projects as the feeling of creating something totally original with another human heart and brain is just really swell.
I guess in every interview you are asked about not identifying with a specific gender. Does it bother you to be questioned about this? Do you think that this is relevant to your music?
It’s usually an alright thing to come up just because it allows me to clarify my identity and I think people also feel like they know me a bit better once I’m open about it too. I identify as male ftm, coming out as transgender earlier last year. Although it’s challenging sometimes, I’m thankful to have had so much support surrounding my transition. I guess it’s relevant to my music in the same way any experience relating to personal growth is.