hester Raj Anand has always been a precocious creative soul. At the age of six, he discovered music production when his older brother showed him software like ACID and Fruity Loops. That knowledge coalesced with a background in piano, keyboards, and jazz percussion—as well as a fascination with “really raw, scary Aphex Twin” and the “lavish creative energy of the ‘90s”—setting Anand on his path to becoming the producer we know as Lord RAJA.
Now 22, Chester lives in Red Hook, NY, the place where he grew up. “It’s a small, rural town,” he shares, “and if you’re not good at sports, there’s nothing to do at all.” Which goes to explain how he quickly immersed himself in creating electronic music: He had all the time in the world to hone his skills as a beatmaker. “I just continued to make music every day in my basement on a custom computer,” he continues. Along with a drum set, keyboards, and his grandfather’s collection of old Indian records, the young artist worked tirelessly to craft his musical identity.
2011 was a big year for Chester, as it saw him issuing his first actual releases. Under the name InfinitiRock, he contributed an installment to Asthmatic Kitty’s library music series, Intonations: Music for Primordial Recollection, a drum-focused barrage of 22 sketches exhibiting his preternatural sense of rhythm and texture. Soon afterwards, Chester changed monikers for a class project while he studied at SUNY Purchase, donning the name RAJA to release and self-promote a string of songs leading up to Halloween. His newfound interests in
Prince, R&B, video art, and sculpture gave fresh layers of inspiration to the three-part October series, but Chester was still realizing his potential. “I just wanted to make songs that sound like visuals,” he elaborates. “Help take people somewhere bigger than their standard headspace.”
A quick stint with the audio engineering program at University of Hartford and time spent living in Brooklyn continued to broaden Chester’s horizons. However, he is ultimately a producer who thrives when allowed to stay in his own head. “I was on some type of quest for sincere isolation,” admits the producer. “A lot of my thoughts were tangled with existentialism and capitalism, and what it means to be human. Kind of the big questions, but the big arbitrary questions that seem impossible to answer.” And this is where he discovered the next chapter in his story, changing his name to Lord RAJA and teaming with Ghostly for his official debut album, A Constant Moth.
“A lot of my focus was to pursue granular synthesis, trying to explore perspectives with particles,” Chester says of the music on his first Lord RAJA LP. He also talks about using “world instruments for the spiritual effect” and how spontaneity and travel invigorate his production work. Add to that list his use of tape processes, custom-made pedals and circuits, an interest in composers Jon Hassell and Iannis Xenakis, and something he calls “pirating analog sounds,” and it becomes apparent that Lord RAJA is an evolving artist with a wide-range of knowledge and abilities. His is undoubtedly a career worth keeping tabs on.