ricky eat acid – “hey”

– featured image courtesy of alex locater –

three love songs will forever be a landmark achievement.  sam ray’s foray into introspective ambience as ricky eat acid, tinged ever so slightly with hints of house music, resonated deeply with listeners; three love songs was also far and away our favorite album of 2014.

ray is musically dexterous – since three love songs, he’s released an album under his julia brown moniker and has reformed his once-defunct punk band, teen suicide, who have since toured and released a sprawling album of their own – yet this chameleonic tendency manifests perhaps most acutely and frequently within the work he creates as ricky eat acid.  his subsequent material under the moniker has traversed edm-informed soundscapes and smothered itself in pillows of dark, ominous synths, yet each track is unmistakably a ricky eat acid effort, a testament to ray’s ability to push boundaries creatively while still maintaining such a singularly raw emotional connection.

“hey,” the lead single from the forthcoming ricky eat acid full-length, talk to you soon, melts some of ray’s more aggressive ventures into a pliable material: rigid drum beats and vocal samples that can prop up flittering pianos and string arrangements without depriving them of their consonance.  the song’s apex is early and revelatory, with owen pallett’s strings helping “hey” shed its sleepy, pensive facade for an extended period of jubilance.

talk to you soon is out october 28th via the brooklyn imprint terrible records; in addition to pallett’s contributions, the album features guest vocals from caroline white, spencer radcliffe, and harmony tividad, as well as collaborative work with the black metal band wreck & reference.  revel in “hey” below.


listen to a new mixtape from ricky eat acid

ricky eat acid
photo courtesy of the artist

ricky eat acid’s three love songs withstood the entirety of 2014 and emerged as our favorite album of the year, but sam ray’s latest project under his electronic moniker has little in common with its full-length predecessor.  instead, mixtape, which began streaming yesterday via vice, feels like a hybrid between love songs and last summer’s sun over hills ep, with the latter providing the stronger influence.  ray stated that mixtape is meant to be digested while smoking weed, though a sober listen doesn’t seem to be any less rewarding; the compact nocturnes juxtaposed by harsh, rapid electronic flurries are jarring in any state of mind.  listen below.

listen to a new song from ricky eat acid

ricky eat acid catsam ray has shared his latest effort as ricky eat acid, the b-side to his new single “context” which dropped earlier this month.  “walking around a garden at night” is pretty indicative of its title, a murky stutter-step of dynamic shifts and subdued piano textures.  ray touts it as “music for smoking weed in your car at night,” but, you know, it works pretty well in a variety of settings.  take a listen below.

listen to a new song from ricky eat acid

2014 was sam ray’s year; in between a ricky eat acid full-length and ep, he found time to covertly release a new julia brown record and to resurrect a reincarnation of teen suicide.  but it’s that first moniker that has excited and mystified the most, an artistic entity that can pull off footwork and post-classical soundscapes with equal aplomb.  ray shows no signs of slowing down his output as ricky eat acid, and will release “context” b/w “walking around a garden at night” on january 20th via canvasclub.  the a-side runs the gamut of ray’s musical pursuits as of late, navigating through white noise to busy synths all the way to a frenetic busdriver vocal sample inflated with helium.  take a listen to “context” below.

listen to a new song from ricky eat acid

ricky eat acid catas ricky eat acid, sam ray has created one of the most arresting albums of 2014 with three love songs, and he’s also found time to revive teen suicide, plug away at a new julia brown record, and cuddle with plenty of cats.  but ray’s meticulous output as an electronic musician continues at a steady rate; his new ep sun over hills, out for free on july 8th, was announced in a noisey feature earlier today.  accompanying that feature was “angels,” an erratic and sometimes downright aggressive single that embodies the nightmarish theme attached to sun over hills.  take a listen below, courtesy of ricky eat acid’s soundcloud page.


interview – ricky eat acid

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

2014 is still incredibly young, but ricky eat acid’s three love songs is already presenting its case for album of the year contention.  as last week’s review articulated, the record is expansive, covering vast amounts of musical ground while still retaining a central, emotion-driven thesis.  the creative force behind ricky eat acid, sam ray, was kind enough to shed some light on his project, talking on topics ranging from musical and artistic influences to his relationship with orchid tapes.  check out the transcript below.

ricky eat acid is a project that sounds a bit different than your other bands, teen suicide and julia brown.  what got you interested in electronic music, and what still keeps you intrigued?

electronic & etc. music is definitely where i started at before anything else remotely serious.  it was still a joke at first, i mean, recreating goofy, pointless, almost genre-less songs for my friends’ entertainment.  i was already a fan of a lot of the typical “high school ambient & electronic/idm” stuff that kids who smoke weed sometimes but don’t really party yet listen to – aphex twin, autechre, telefon tel aviv, i totally forget what else – but i couldn’t imagine myself recreating anything close to that.  i don’t know if i even could picture that now.  still, over time it developed into something less joking and more of an actual pursuit.  maybe not a true pursuit, but something fun to do that i also felt invested in.  maybe it’ll become a true pursuit; that would be really cool.

what keeps me intrigued still, i guess, is that there is still so much to learn.  unlike music made with guitars, pianos, drums, etc., strictly where the limitation is the driving factor in innovation, electronic music is constantly expanding.  i mean, at this point neither project for me is truly one or the other; new julia brown songs are taking on more and more of a true production/electronic element and ricky eat acid songs are becoming wildly more organic at the same time and incorporating vocals more and more.  i don’t know if they’ll ever unify one hundred percent but it’s neat.

the title of your new album, three love songs, is a bit of a misnomer.  can you elaborate on the meaning behind that title?

it’s a title taken from a piece of writing that actually is a triptych (though still a misnomer since there are no songs in question).  no one has ever seen the three; or rather, i can think of two people who have and only one of them has probably heard the album.  but still, that’s where it started, i guess.  that existed before the album was even an idea to me and once i started working on it, it felt very fitting.  it’s an album concerned with loss, with degradation both personal and more far-reaching, but at its core it’s concerned heavily with love, and in a way love is concerned heavily with loss.  i find the two eternally entwined; to lose something you have to love it. even if it kills you.  the writing was kind of concerned with that, and the album was concerned with it from the other side: one focusing on love, one on loss, and it came together.

one of my favorite tracks on the album is “in my dreams we’re almost touching,” and it contrasts significantly with the rest of the record.  is there a story behind that particular song?

well i’d been listening to a lot of house music…hahaha.  originally i was listening to all these minimal, piano house producers, like modern deep house: just drums, pianos, some samples maybe, super sparse, super minimal.  six-to-eight-plus minute dance floor cuts.  i wanted to recreate it.  i love writing that stuff; it’s so refreshing for me, i guess, compared to making more “intricate” rhythmic compositions (though i still find the best house very intricate; it just comes more naturally, i guess.)  that song was one of like ten different things i started around just piano and some drums;  i think i was trying to work that vocal clip into another song and realized i should just start over around it.  i then got lost for many days wrapping that song up, and when i was finished it was maximal as hell and nothing like what i had intended to make, but i loved it.  everyone i showed it to loved it.  i went back and forth on keeping it in the album for four to five  months and eventually decided last minute i had to keep it and i’d work it into the narrative and the album flow somehow.  luckily i did, at least to an extent i’m very happy with.  the album, while continuous, is about abrupt tonal shifts and harsh contrasts throughout, and that’s in large part due to structuring it around that particular song, haha.

what were some key influences on three love songs as a whole?

aside from parts of my personal life and the environments i found myself in, it was drawn largely from memory, and from specific memories, and from the idea of my present life becoming memory and how that would shape it.  it’s really neat even a year later looking back at where and when certain songs were created and trying to relive that through them and finding it so different from what it certainly was really like.

other influences though are more obvious – certain musicians and artists always strike me, over and over.  the feeling of playing chrono trigger or final fantasy six as an adult versus a kid; the work of photographer pete halupka, who i loved as a kid and rediscovered during the course of writing the album; expansive pixel art landscapes a la people like this; and of course a ton of different music.  too much to probably even get into.

three love songs holds the distinction as being the first record put out on vinyl by orchid tapes.  can you talk a bit about your history and experiences with the label?

i’d been a huge fan of warren’s musical endeavors and the first time we talked he was still living in canada, i believe, and we talked in one of those pre-turntable.fm musical chat room things.  i was struck by the fact he’d heard any music i’d made before which was so cool, haha.  eventually somehow we got to talking more and when he moved to new york we met finally at cmj in 2012.  by that point he’d helped release some tapes for me (though i don’t think any exclusively through his label) and it was only natural to start working together more officially.  the artists he curates and the aesthetic of his label in general (not to mention everyone involved being such wonderful people) is definitely why i wanted to release this album there, and when he proposed the idea of making it the first vinyl record, i was ecstatic.  i’m really glad everything has gone as well as it has because i can’t think of anyone more deserving than warren or brian, and i’m honored to be part of it in any way.

the internet, and various forms of social media in particular, seem to have played a key role in disseminating your music to people that may have not heard it otherwise.  what are some other advantages to this digital age that you’ve encountered?  have there been any disadvantages?

the way you can email anyone, tweet to anyone, approach anyone – if you do so respectfully and humbly – is truly the end and at once saving grace of the music industry and music as a whole really, at least in my eyes.  with finesse, it seems like anything is possible.  so many people i’ve become friends with over time, bonding over music, meeting at shows or on tours, have eventually passed my music along to other people who we then bonded similarly, and i’ve met or at least had contact with so many people who were heroes to me growing up, who inspired me to start creating music in any capacity.  it’s truly mind blowing.  i couldn’t be more grateful or feel luckier.  it all started from emailing someone whose music i really enjoyed to say ‘thank you’ and we ended up talking.  they asked for my own music, i shared it, they shared it, and it grew very slowly from there.  without that initial interaction, i probably would never have gotten enough confidence to show anyone anything, online or otherwise.  it’s really amazing.

there are definitely downsides – so many people approach things without any sense of humanity – and i think making yourself very open to everyone is dangerous in a way, or at least something to be cautious of.  making yourself very available can be a wonderful thing, and i’ve always wanted to be able to listen to anything sent to me, respond to anyone sending me messages and emails, etc., but there is a line crossed sometimes when it comes to someone’s personal life, that kind of stuff.  it can get weird, i guess.  yolo.

do you have any plans to tour or play shows as ricky eat acid and, if so, how will the music translate into a live setting?

i’m playing a show in a week in new york (feb 2nd, super bowl show!) and i have no clue how the music will translate, but i’m actually very confident about it (much more confident too about later shows, since this one will be breaking the ice kind of).  i’m hoping to tour in 2014 and play a lot of shows in general, but i’m waiting right now to see what happens.  definitely very positive about it all.

the show ray references in his last answer is at the mercury lounge in new york city, playing with foxes in fiction and supporting gem club.  a trifecta of soothing, ambient music, it should be high up on the priority lists of people who live out in that area.  for anyone not yet privy to three love songs, seek it out, and be sure to give the collection of b-sides a listen, too.  ricky eat acid is truly something special.

orchid tapes