SXSW Exclusive Interview: Rayland Baxter
Written by Coog Radio on March 19, 2016
I met Mr. Baxter about three years ago in the cold, windy city of Boston, MA. I was attending a Grace Potter and The Nocturnals show and I was lucky enough to see Rayland open for her with a small acoustic set. Fast forward to present day, and I am now sitting here on the gravel concrete at the Spotify House talking to the man of the hour after he finished his set. My favorite part of fandom is being able to watch the artist grow, and Rayland has sure done that. None of his sets are ever the same. He talks to his audience like they are family. He does not outshine his band. He is truly genuine. What more could you ask for from an artist?
Describe your aesthetic in 3 words. Ready, set, go!
Consistent. Simple. T-Shirt.
As far as your career goes, what are you most proud of thus far?
Having this band that I am playing with right now, and executing the songs differently than the album. There is way more hair and dirt, and they are just beast!
Yeah! Last time I saw you (at SXSW), it was only you and two other people. And now, you’ve grown so much! I love the layers that it adds to your music.
Yeah, that’s where I wanted to take it.
For your first time at SXSW you were playing on smaller stages, but this time around you are being featured on bigger stages. Do you prefer one over the other?
I like both! This (Spotify House) is more like adrenaline pumping and we can play loud music and that is always really fun. And you know, when we do are own shows, we play a couple of hours and I’ll do a solo set in the middle.
So with Feathers and Fishhooks, which is one of my favorite albums, to your latest album, Imaginary Man, how was the process of making each album different?
It’s just the evolution. I’m more evolved and there is just more to my songwriting, and I have improved as a musician. There is a long line of other albums to come, so I don’t even know what is going to happen with the next one. I don’t know, I don’t know.
Any new covers you guys are working on?
We cover Lovesick by Bob Dylan and Vampire Blues by Neil Young.
Your dad (Bucky Baxter) is in the music industry (pedal steel player for Bob Dylan), did you always feel like you were going to follow his footsteps?
No, not till after college.
What’s next for Rayland? I know you are going to tour, but is there any more exciting things that you are doing?
Yeah we are gonna tour, we got Bonnaroo, and we have a bunch of other festivals this summer. Newport Folk Festivals. Some folk festivals in Canada. I’m going to Sweden! I’m going produce this kid’s album in Sweden. Richard Smith, he is a super talented songwriter. He loved both of my albums, and he was like “Hey want to produce my album,” and I was like, “yeah.” Then we will tour in Sweden and Spain.
How exciting! Have you ever been there before?
I’ve been to Sweden, but not to Spain.
Do you know any Spanish?
I know españa de cocina. Kitchen spanish! [laughs]
According to some of your Instagram pictures, you mention Joi Bois. What and who does that stand for?
Jentlemen of the Illuminati. We are just a dude gang.
That’s it? You just do the gang thing (with special tattoo included). Is it a secret and you can’t speak of it?
[laughs] I can’t expose the dark secrets. But we listen to Joisus Christ music, we are from New Joisey, and…yeah. We are just dude gang.
So besides being in a dude gang, tell us a fun fact that nobody really knows about you.
I love Mariah Carey and Shania Twain and Whitney Houston.
I have an astrology radio show for CoogRadio, and we play Mariah Carey a lot for our Aries features. What’s your sign?
Libra! And I have been listening to a lot of Hip Hop lately.
Nice! Who is your favorite right now?
I mean I f ******love Mac Miller. He is so fresh. He is just like having the best time of his life, ever. I like Anderson Paak too! And Lil Dicky too.
He (Lil Dicky) played a few nights ago! Did you get to see him?
Oh f*** no! But I saw him at Okeechobee Fest last week. He is amazing!
Tell us about your collaboration with Billy Reid for New York Fashion week. That was quite a career highlight for both of you guys!
Oh yeah that was crazy! He really liked the album, and he really liked the song “Young Man” and so I played it solo electric, and it was cool . I played it live while the dudes walked down the runway. I got to keep the pants, shoes, and shirt that I wore.
And the hat?
Oh yeah, I got the hat too!
How has living in Tennessee shaped the artist that you are today? Does that effect your writing and your style of music?
Of course. But I am doing my best at taking the approach to be conscious of carving my own sound. Of course, I hear country music and grew up around it, so there is a little bit of that. I have my blinders on, though. I don’t write to sound like I am from Tennessee. I just kind of let it flow, and let whatever happens happen.
Can you give our audience your top favorite songs that you are currently listening to?
1. Mac Miller – “Brand Name”
2.Lil Dicky – “$ave Dat Money”
3.Broncho – “Taj Mahal”
4. Cage the Elephant – “How Are You True”
5. Dylan Leblanc – “Balance or Fall”
6. Grateful Dead – “Terrapin Station”
7. Raury – “Crystal Express”
8. T. Hardy Morris – “Quit Diggin'”
9. Whitney Houston – “I Will Always Love You”
10. Vangelis – “Chariots of Fire”
Thanks again to Rayland Baxter for chatting with us! Give him a listen and a follow from the links below.
By Madeline Robicheaux