Interview Raynes – “Lemon Drop”

In your biography you talk about trying to find the final piece of your sonic puzzle and finally finding that through social media, specifically Instagram, what were the things you were looking for and what on Instagram did you see that made you think, oh this is it!?

We knew right from the start that we were looking for someone with a phenomenal voice, to put it simply. That was at the top of our list, because with the music we make it’s not possible to hide a mediocre voice behind a lot of production and auto-tuning. But we also were anxious that, even if we found someone with a great voice, who was willing to join, that that person might not fit with the vibe or the look of what we imagined for the band. So we were also very much hoping that we would be able to find a tall, good-looking guy with stage presence and charisma. And on top of all that, we needed someone who could at least play guitar, not to mention someone who wanted to make the kind of music we were making. So it was a very specific and very limiting shopping list. We came across a lot of people with a good voice but the wrong look, the right look but a subpar voice, etc. etc. When Mat came across a video of Mark singing on Instagram, we instantly knew that this was the person we had been looking for. We didn’t get our hopes up right away, though, since he lived in England and it seemed pretty unlikely that he would uproot his life for the band. But, long story short, that’s exactly what happened. We reached out, we clicked, he flew to LA, we clicked some more, and we all just knew it was the perfect fit.

While successful bands such as Mumford and Sons and Of Monsters and Men have recently shed this sound for a rock production style you’re staying true to what could be described as folk pop, what makes you stay true to this sound?

We don’t necessarily have any loyalty to any specific genre, so being a folk pop band wasn’t really a conscious choice that we made. We’ve developed our sound into a genre that could probably best be described as folk pop largely because Mat plays a ton of folk instruments, Mark has a beautiful voice, and Joe’s spent years playing the acoustic guitar. As we started playing and writing together, we realized that there were so many things that could be done with, for example, a violin or a mandolin or a bouzouki to make our songs really unique and fresh. Another factor is that we’ve only performed as a trio so far, and it’s important to us that the songs sound good with just two guitars, a violin, and three voices. All of this is just to say that, right now, folk pop is the most natural thing for us. We’re by no means against electric instrumentation, or drum samples, or synths––in fact, we utilize all those things on our records. But we’re probably going to always be playing pop songs with folk instruments, in one way or another.

I love the lush instrumentation on “Lemon Drop”, I’m curious to get the liner notes that are sometimes missing in the digital world. Who plays what on the recording and what is it like working with Mighty Mike?

This song has been on the burner for a while now, and it’s undergone a few changes. Mat wrote and produced a demo of Lemon Drop a couple years ago that we all loved, but we knew it needed something more. So we took it to Mike to see if he had any ideas to finish it. Mark sang the lead, of course, and played electric guitar on the track as well. Joe played acoustic guitar, and Mat played keys, violin, bouzouki, and mandolin. We all contributed to the gang vocals. Mike is a very intuitive producer and knows when to “stay out of the way” and when to push back, which made for a great experience. It was interesting putting the pieces together, because Mike had all Mat’s tracks from the original demo as well as his own ideas, and we combined them and massaged them until the song sounded cohesive. The lushness, the depth, is a combination of us playing real instruments and Mike understanding how to blend the more synthetic sonic elements with the acoustic elements. All of our songs definitely walk the line between folk and pop, and Mike has been invaluable in pulling off that balancing act.

Congratulations on recently signing with Sony/ATV Publishing, what was the deciding factor to go with Sony/ATV and what do you hope to get out of working with a major publisher?

We had been an official band for only a few months when we learned that we had a meeting with Sony/ATV, so we were very excited to even have that opportunity. We ended up flying to New York to meet their team and play a few songs for them, and within a day or so we were offered the deal. We were thrilled that such a huge company saw something in us, of course, but the deciding factor was just the enthusiasm and support for what we were doing. It took a few months to get the details ironed out, of course, but we’ve been with them officially for about a year now and it’s been phenomenal. Because they’re such a big publishing company we weren’t sure what to expect, but the team we work with has been incredibly knowledgeable and helpful.

What are your plans for the remainder of 2019 and the upcoming year?

Our plan is to release Lemon Drop at some point in August. We’re still figuring out all the details of how exactly we’re going to do that, but needless to say we are pretty excited. We’re taking a trip to Mark’s stomping grounds in the UK at the end of August as well. As for the upcoming year, we have no idea! We would love to continue releasing music and hopefully tour at some point in the very near future.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks so much for the questions. Our best piece of advice, to anyone reading, would be to listen to Lemon Drop when it comes out! Thanks again.

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Raynes is a trio made up of two Americans and a Brit. Now based in Los Angeles, Mat and Joe–both born and raised in North Dakota–met UK native Mark through Instagram after an extensive search for the final piece of this project. Drawing from diverse influences such as Coldplay, Mumford & Sons, Imagine Dragons and John Mayer, the band blends catchy pop melodies with folk-style instrumentation.

They combine their unique and complimentary strengths to form an artistically authentic band. Inspired by a broad array of musical idols and heroes—icons like Paul Simon, Max Martin, and Dolly Parton—Raynes combines elements of modern pop with classically Americana instrumentation. Their blending of pianos and synths, pounding drums, and sophisticated vocal and string arrangements with acoustic guitars and mandolins results in an impactful, one-of-a-kind style.

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