RONA.: Connection, influences, and some nerdy Ableton tricks

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RONA.: Connection, influences, and some nerdy Ableton tricks

Words by Rowena Wise

Diving deep into the creative flow

Kaytetye producer, artist, and DJ, RONA. is on a journey to find balance and connection in the chaos of life via progressive and meditative dance music. Following the release of her debut EP Closure last month, we got to dive deep with her about her creative flow: what drives it and what makes it come into being through music and technology.

Moving between Naarm and Mparntwe of the Central Desert, RONA. explores connections between the industrial dance floors of Naarm to the soundscapes and rhythms of her home. Drawing from these distinct spaces, Closure has a sound that can stir any dance floor through thoughtful and moving electronica. Mixed by Konstantin Kersting (Harvey Sutherland, Genesis Owusu) and mastered by Leon Zervos (Robyn), it’s a slick, evocative body of work that RONA. feels passionate about. 

Read up on all the latest interviews, features and columns here.

RONA. is keenly aware of the role of dynamics when it comes to her influences, creative flow, and workspace.

“I’m constantly on the move at the moment, mostly moving between Mparntwe and Naar,” RONA. says. “My physical studio space is in Mparntwe right now and when I’m on the road I’ll bring a road case with a few of my favourite key synths and mics. In Mparntwe, I have a spot looking over the ranges at a place called Illparpa on Arrernte Country – it’s so special to be able to write in a location where I feel so connected to Country and place. There’s a pair of monitors, a handful of synths, an effects rack, and some decks.”

“My work is often narrative-based and the way I approach writing and producing is constantly evolving. I often start with a storyline. These storylines are often connected to place, so I’ll record snippets out on Country where the story is connected. This could include the rustle of the wind, trees or animals that are connected there. These layers form the grounding of my tracks.”

As well as making you want to move, RONA.’s music has deeply melodic and euphoric moments, combining the soundscapes of Country and place with synths and melodies that pack emotional punch. When it comes to crafting this sound, there’s some beloved gear essentials, plugins and Ableton tricks that RONA. often starts her work with. 

“I’d have my Prophet 05, an SH-101, and Omnisphere. They’re the three things I rely on most at the moment and I would take them anywhere and everywhere if I could.

“The Ableton Drum Rack. I’m obsessed. I often build packs of sounds outside of Ableton on drum machines and then set them up into a drum rack that I’ll use consistently. In terms of treatment, like everyone else, I use so much EchoBoy – it’s fantastic for creating movement in the percussion. 

“I love creating sounds with a drum machine and working on them until they’re perfect and then building my own packs that I use time and time again.

“Automation within Ableton is the main tool that I think really strengthens my production. It’s so easy to do, and can create amazing movement and dynamism to create moments in a track. Using sends for parallel processing is something I constantly rely on within Ableton, it saves the CPU load which is always important when you’re a producer that has way too many tracks going! (ie; me).”

“I used to use a heap of VST effects, but have started relying more and more of what is in Ableton, again this keeps the CPU load down but also there’s some amazing effects in there! I’ve spent so many hours building effects racks in Ableton that make it so simple to produce in a flow that leans into the creative process rather than getting bogged down in grabbing a new compressor or verb every time and spending hours getting it perfect.”

RONA. is all about the personal and artistic exploration through the stories of others.

“I feel influenced by music that tells a story and makes me feel connected to either my own experience or someone else’s experience. This can come from any genre and any style of production. What I listen to and am influenced by is constantly evolving – sometimes it’s an old track, or something that’s come out recently.”

“I’ve noticed that it’s often music from key movements when a genre is beginning to grab a hold and draws me in, rather than genre bending forms that often people say my sound fits within. I love digging and finding inspiration from immersing myself in so many different genres and sounds from across this continent and beyond.”

When speaking of a sense of connection as well as storylines influencing her work, RONA. finds it through sounds, places, and stories that she’s centring in the music.

“When I write music, I want to build a sonic world that is unique to my experience and the places where I’m connected. This comes from sounds of the natural environment, swooping melodies, and vocals that embody my story or the stories I hold with others. It’s been incredible to see how people have resonated with what I’ve shared, often finding connection to places they’ve never been to before.”

“The storylines in my music embody who I am and what I have authority to share. While I don’t currently centre songlines in what I’ve released, there is a parallel in the way I’m storing knowledge and holding relationality in the music. Songlines are embodied in First Nations ways of thinking, knowing, and understanding the world. It’s hard to translate what they mean, but they often trace astronomy and geographical elements and hold knowledge and memory. The music I’ve released so far holds knowledge, storylines, and connection in contemporary ways. 

“I’m working on a project with Kaytetye Elders at the moment that will look more closely at the knowledge held in songlines – I’m curious about how this journey could strengthen my artistic practice but at this moment I’m focusing on that process rather than what the outcome may be from the work we do sitting in Country.”


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Like all creatives, RONA. has experienced the weirdness of the past few years for the arts. She’s still had some profound moments recently that made her proud to be a music maker. The release of Closure is accompanied by expansive, visually-striking music videos from Dylan River and Bonny Scott shot on Country. The collaboration emphasises how the music walks between many worlds with centring storylines that embody a grounding in Country.

“It feels surreal to finally have these tracks out in the world and to see people really connecting with the music. The proudest moments I’ve had on this journey have been when I’ve been able to collaborate with other First Nations people.”

“Creating the film clips over 2020 and 2021 in Mparntwe was so special. My heart has been so full in moments when I’ve been able to centre young First Nations dancers and actors who, through the process of working on the film clips, were in front of a camera and on a shoot for the first time. It’s been so empowering to share those moments with them, and create a fun environment where they can feel incredibly proud of themselves.”

In the afterglow of a successful debut Naarm headline show at Colour Club on June 4, RONA. is gearing up for a busy year of music making and sharing, with slots later in the year supporting RÜFÜS DU SOL. She’ll be performing alongside fellow support acts Jon Hopkins and Luke Alessi, as part of the trio’s AUS/NZ ‘Surrender’ tour of Aus/New Zealand in November through December. 

Buy or stream Closure here. Stay up to date with RONA. at her instagram page.