It takes something special to bring a song to life. Director and videographer, Lawrence Raines, also known as LawRaines has been doing it for years. The UK-born Canadian director went from making skate videos with a digital camera, to shooting music videos for the likes of Riff Raff, CMDWN and Tedy Andreas; along with shooting live shows for Lil Uzi Vert, 2 Chainz, Playboi Carti, JuiceWrld, and many more. Since moving to Toronto this year, Raines has been making waves in the Toronto music Industry, especially with his music video for CMDWN & Lil Berete’s “Bool”, that featured on No Jumper.
We caught up with him for a quick interview.
When did you first start shooting videos?
I first started making videos in 2011. I was about 13 years old, all the homies used to skate. I tried to kick flip over a little gap and rolled my ankle; I went to the doctor and sure enough it was broken. It was summer, which sucked because there was no way I was staying at home while all of my friend’s skate. The next day, I asked my mom to drop me back off at the park. I had my digital camera with me and I ended making a shitty skate video for my friends. At that point, I realized [that] I actually enjoy this shit. I needed a fisheye lens and a real camera if I wanted to take it seriously, but I didn’t have any money at the time. I went on YouTube and found how to make a fisheye, I ended up at Home Depot buying a peephole for a front door, and stuck it on the front of my digital camera lens with some rubber bands. It was good enough for a couple years until I saved up enough money to buy a VX1000, which was what all the pro-skate teams used to film. Long story short, I fell in love with cameras and from that moment on, I’ve had one in my hand ever since.
When did you realize this is what you wanted to do as a career?
When I got to high school, right off the bat I became close to the media teacher at our school, Mrs. Owchar. In grade 10, I showed her some of my skate videos and she thought I had potential. One day, she sent me off with all of her equipment and told me to film a lip sync video type thing for a pep rally. I would go around the classrooms my friends were in, pull them into the hallway and we would just do stupid shit on camera to make it as funny as possible. The school ended up loving the video and they had me take care of everything media-related. After high school, the lip sync videos turned into music videos. I linked up with a local rapper named Myles Kushman from Windsor, ON. He had a local buzz going and was known for his videos. I reached out to him and told him, “I’m new at this shit but I need to practice. Let me shoot you a video for free”. He was like, “Hell yeah, I’ve heard of you, let’s get it”. Boom… we dropped the video around Christmas 2015. We received really good feedback and just kept working and dropping more videos. Eventually, I started to gain experience and started to build clientele just from my work with Myles; it’s been a snowball effect ever since. Shout out Mrs. Owchar, shout out MKush.
What’s it like working with CMDWN? How did you get in touch with Ca$tro & FIJI?
This shit’s crazy. My friend Laf was always on his underground rap shit; he showed me CMDWN’s song “What’s Her Name” at the beginning of 2016. Within a month, most of Windsor was bumpin’ that shit and we were all fans. I remember saying to Laf, “Damn, imagine if I shot a video for those guys one day, how crazy would that be?”. We were on some positive shit, it seemed like a stretch. Fast forward 5-6 months, I saw a flyer for Lil Uzi Vert live in Detroit, [so] I DM’d the promoter on Twitter trying to get my hands on a media pass. I ended up becoming cool with the promoter, he’s my homie, shout out David Leica. He put me on stage for the show and let me do the official recap for Uzi. At that point, it was the biggest play I had ever made. When I went to the venue, he brought me backstage I got to meet Uzi; he was hella nice. David introduced me to the opening acts. “Meet my homies Castro and Fiji, they’re opening for Uzi tonight”. My ass was tripping out about CMDWN more than God damn Lil Uzi Vert. I told them I was a fan of their music, what I do and that I wanted to shoot a music video for them, but they had their own video guy at this point. A few more months went by, David hits me up, “yo, CMDWN are staying at my place in Michigan this weekend, they want to shoot a video, you interested?”. Of course, I was down. This was definitely the first moment in my career that I had spoke something into existence, it was honestly the best feeling in the world. We ended up shooting a video for “Wrist” and ever since then, CMDWN has been family.
What’s your favourite piece of your own work so far, and why?
My unreleased work is my favourite but that doesn’t count. I’m going to say “Hellalujah” by Ca$tro Guapo. Not that it’s my best work, but it’s definitely the video that made me stand out. It had people talking, positively and negatively. If you’ve seen the video, I’m sure you know why. It was also the first video that really had my name sticking out in the city, which helped me transition from Windsor to Toronto naturally.
Who’s your biggest inspiration in the industry?
It’s cliché as hell, Cole Bennett in a sense. We’re the same age and we dropped out of university at the same time to focus on the same craft. I’ve been following him since his first video with Dex; he’s the hottest director out right now and you can’t hate on it. I think it’s crazy that he’s built an entire media empire by the age of 21, super inspiring.
My favourite director though, [is] Dave Meyers. I don’t even need to explain, just YouTube Dave Meyers if you’re not familiar with his name. His work is a vision you have in your head that’s too crazy to bring to life; except he does that, and brings that vision to life effortlessly.
Out of all the shows you’ve shot, which artist brought the best energy?
I shot a Vince Staples show a few years back in Detroit at the shelter. It wasn’t the biggest show but it was a rage fest. I’ll never forget that show. I feel like I enjoy shooting smaller shows where the artist has a cult following fan base, those shows go nuts. CMDWN probably have the craziest shows though. My boys Ca$tro and FIJI take the cake on this one, too.
I have a whole album worth of music videos, vlogs documentaries, all of that with Riff Raff. Expect more work with CMDWN to drop soon. I have some plays coming but these are the only ones I can really speak on right now.