Bizarre and beautiful face jewelry, intense DJ-sets and plans of creating a new safe space for the queer community with their own label. Playful welcomes the new kid in town – Métaraph.
Jewelry, music production and DJing. Under the name Métaraph, Raffaello Donnaoia works on a variety of projects and often tours the world. Born in Italy, they moved to London in 2014, where their creative career gradually took off.
“Once I arrived in London I had to put my artistic interests to the side to become a responsible adult that pays their own rent. Although at one point I couldn’t hold back anymore and started to create again. My interests are mostly within fashion and performance art. Starting out with this part of my career from within the London underground queer techno scene.”
Raffaello resigned from their day job as their jewelry brand Inaurem with its expressive jewelry was launched. The jewelry is coveted by the underground crowd, and the new business gave them a lot of new opportunities as well as an international showcase.
"I decided to drop my day job and focus totally on my brand, my performance art and then I also started to DJ. With time the brand grew, and I began to reach customers all over the globe and was seen on the face of many contemporary Pop artists. Even on Doja Cat."
"The performance work, on the other hand, started as a solo act and developed into the direction of bigger groups that merged conceptual work with fashion, dance, visual and installation art. It was showcased monthly in the previous project held in London called Orpheus."
Meanwhile the DJ career kept growing, and Raffaello, or Métaraph; started to get gigs across Europe, East Europe, South America, and the United States.
”About a year ago I had my first official released track and by now we can count fourteen other releases on different European music labels."
Not fitting into the norm did not make it any easier for Raffaello to be accepted in the everyday life of the small fishing village of Puglia. The Italian village with its 300 inhabitants quickly became too small for them; and you know what they say - you can take the person out of the cit. And maybe also the city out of the person, to be fair.
“Having been born in a small village it has never been one of the most exciting environments to grow up in. It always felt very tight, suffocating, intimidating, and alienating. But I knew that I had to keep being myself. There's always a price to pay for the freedom of being yourself fully in this society. Especially if you’re queer”
“Verbal and physical harassment, judgment, assumption, shouts and being chased are some of the obstacles you might encounter when you are “different” in a village. Not to even mention my different ethnical features, my homosexuality and queerness. But this also gave me the strength to take the step and move to UK as soon as I finished high school in Southern Italy.”
London, which was the start of Métaraph's career, is a city they still hold dear. Although the lack of new venues and the fact that the city too often felt too representative in their bookings made them go one step further and move to Berlin. As of this writing, they have lived here for a little over a year.
“My life would have been very different if I’d have moved elsewhere instead of starting off in London. It was crucial for my development as an artist and person, it’ s essential and important to be surrounded by a fertile environment rich of individuals and a pure state of creativity. Seeing crazy outfits and characters has totally inspired me to refine and deepen my own aesthetic. London lacks new venues and locations for new parties. It needs more DJs and new talents because the line-up can get very repetitive. Berlin is the new base for my projects to carry on and develop further”
As a newcomer in Berlin, every week is still a discovery. But the tranquility of the city is something they got used to.
“I like to lose myself in walks along the canal or deep in the forest at the edges of Berlin. Nature is where we ancestrally belong and feel at home. When I seek answers or need a moment of internal silence, I go for a walk in the forest, alone by myself.”
Developing creative projects, Raffaello finds that going back to his ancestors to find inspiration for the creative projects, brings new oxygen to their ideas.
“For my jewelry the inspiration is the meeting of the past and future within the present time.”
“My Maori background has a major influence on my jewelry work which portrays a tribal aspect that get twisted with a futuristic otherworldly touch. The industrial collection with more raw designs with spikes and nails was inspired by the time in London and how the punk and goth subcultures have influenced me whilst exploring the nightlife and its communities. For my music the inspiration comes from the depth of my emotional field, where I syncretize emotions occurring in my life into the creation of hard, fast and aggressive beats - balanced with the softness of the melodies and textures summoning emotional streams.”
“Although when it comes to my performance there has been different types of inspiration from biology, philosophy, ritualistic arts and symbology. I have always been fascinated by those topics ever since I was really young and spent a lot of time with reading books.”
The jewelry's bizarre and unique look has its roots in Métaraphs teens when they started to use recycled jewelry and metal to create their own pieces. The designing was brought to a more professional level when they started to notice the lack of nose piercing design on the fashion market.
“I started about five years ago and designed the first jewelry for Inaurem. I was very upset with the fashion market that didn’t really offer many designs for nose piercings, so that is when I decided to start to make them myself. Since the age of 14 I was very confident with jewelry making ever since I started recycling broken jewelry and heavy hardware pieces and put it together. They became my jewelries.”
Raffaello started with a simple and minimalistic design by exploring different geometries around the triangle and spiral.
” Most of the time I don’t even know the whole final design of the piece, when I touch the metal, I envision the moment that I have to bend it and the design starts to create itself whilst I make it.”
As a multidisciplinary artist, Métaraph is now ready to put their mark on Berlin with various projects coming up in the near future. In 2022 they’re starting their own label which will focus on the queer community and the party scene.
The community I envision to gather through the label and party will be a queer all-inclusive community, a network of artists, ravers, and lovers. It will propose a conceptual artistic rave where different art disciplines merge themselves to create a powerful experience that will give the ravers new perspectives.
The need of safe spaces for queer people in Berlin is crucial after the pandemic, that forced a lot of places to close as well as marginalized artists to put their time in safer office jobs.
“A lot of safe spaces for queer people and collectives have sadly disappeared, but I’m also trusting that the pandemic can bring new spaces and support for the upcoming ideas of new adventures and projects.”