Ravenlight – Interview

Interview with Michał Bugajski – Drums with Ravenlight and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (

PD: What type of artist are you?

MB: That’s an extremely broad question. Get ready for a broad answer: DIY artist. Between all of us, we cover a broad enough range of skills to be able to do most things ourselves. From writing and production, to recording and mixing, to designing merch, event organising, marketing, videography,  the list goes on. Most of these things are done by John, but the rest of us help out here and there.


PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.

MB: Myself, or the band? … I’ll do both, but it won’t be brief.  I’ve been drumming since I was 10. I think what inspired me to start at that young age was the intro to Stargazer by Rainbow, though it wouldn’t be until a few years later that I revisited my prog rock roots. I’ve been involved in live music since I was 17, playing with several bands in a few towns and cities. It wasn’t until 2017 that I crossed paths with John for the first time, when he asked me to fill in on a few live shows with his previous band, Selene. When that eventually dissolved, he started Ravenlight with Rebecca and asked me to join, but because I was living on the other end of the island, I was reluctant to commit. When I eventually moved back to Belfast, I agreed to play a few shows on a temporary basis, and ultimately joined full time. By this point, they had already released an EP (End of the World)  and played their debut show (which I attended), but the momentum picked up very quickly when we got a somewhat stable lineup, and we quickly began working on the album.

I think we finished work on the first album (Project Genesis) the day before the first Covid-19 lockdown came into effect in Northern Ireland, and while we released the album in June of 2020, the launch show would be postponed several times due to Covid-19 related restrictions,  until it eventually happened in February 2022. In that time, we released a cover EP (Intermissions).


PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

MB: Gavin Harrison, and Adam Savage. Gavin Harrison for his approach to writing unique and innovative grooves without distracting from the song. Adam Savage for his philosophy and approach to creativity more generally.


PD: What are your dreams and goals?

MB: For me personally, I’d love to have my own studio. I already have pretty much all the recording capabilities I could ask for, but it would be great to have all that in my own space, where I’m not bound by a noise curfew. That’s the big dream for me. Well, that and a Porsche 911 in Aquamarine Blue.

As a band, I’d say it’s playing at the big festivals, like Bloodstock and Wacken, and supporting major international touring bands like Nightwish and Sonata Arctica.


PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?

MB: John writes the vast majority of our material, both music and lyrics. From what I’ve gathered, most of what he writes about are personal experiences, though a few of the songs on the new album are retellings of famous stories or poems. Occasionally, Rebecca and I will also chip in to the writing. Rebecca wrote the lyrics for The Spell on our debut album, and also The Spiral and Left Behind on our upcoming album. I’ve only contributed one song so far, that being The Maze (both music and lyrics), which is also on the upcoming album. Dean, being our newest member, hasn’t had a chance to contribute yet.


PD: How do you promote your band and shows?

MB: I share the event on my personal Facebook profile and insult people until they agree to show up. The promotion for most of our shows is done by the promoters and organisers for those shows.


PD: What do you think about downloading music online?

MB: Oh boy…

The short answer is, I believe that artists should be compensated fairly for their work.

But I also believe that people have a natural tendency to consume content in the most convenient way. So when publishers implement methods of “digital rights management” that get in the way of the listening experience, what they’re really doing is disincentivising people from fairly acquiring their music and supporting the artists. I guess what I’m trying to say is, piracy is bad in the sense that it doesn’t fairly compensate the artists for their work. But for a long time, record labels and publishers have also made piracy the easier and more convenient option for consuming music. And don’t even get me started on the revenue split of album sales between the artists and record labels…

I think Spotify and streaming as a whole, while far from ideal, is probably one of the better solutions we’ve come up with. When Netflix rolled out their streaming platform, they created a system that did more to prevent piracy than any DRM scheme ever could. And while splintering the ecosystem into half a dozen or more streaming services is seriously harming the cost proposition, I do think that as a whole this effect is here to stay.

While I don’t know the numbers here, I would imagine a similar effect exists for music streaming. Now sure, we’re still far from a place where an artist can sustain themselves on streaming revenue alone, but there are many ways to make this system better. One way would be to have the subscription payments be split between the artists that we actually listen to (as opposed to the most popular on the platform), another would be to increase the artists’ cut of each stream, and… what was the question again?


PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?

MB: Wonderwall. Just think of the royalties!


PD: What are some of your pet peeves?

MB: Bad timing. And general mistakes that don’t add anything to the musical experience beyond making me cringe, and that could’ve been fixed in a few seconds if they could just be bothered to punch-in. And also people you can’t count on.


PD: What is your proudest moment in music?

MB: Supporting Everygrey in Dublin in March of 2019. More than anything, because it’s a little absurd that our third ever gig was supporting a major international touring artist.


PD: So what are you working on at the moment?

MB: Right now, we’re working on promotion for our second album, Immemorial. Music videos, interviews, photoshoots, that sort of thing.


PD: Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there.

MB: Our next few “confirmed” shows will actually be happening in England. Those will actually be the first “off-Emerald-Isle” shows for this band, and they’ll be happening in the middle of April. That being said, we do hope to have a few shows in Ireland before that to launch the album, but I can’t reveal any details yet.

Ravenlight links:
Band/Artist location – Belfast, UK
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