Little Orange Room Sessions is a one-take, one-shot, “living-room”-style performance video series recorded in Eugene, Oregon. Each two-song session is recorded in the 125 square feet that I use for mixing, producing, and sometimes even recording entire albums. Little Orange Room Sessions grew out of my crazy love of music and mixing, a growing curiosity about film and cameras, and a deep-seated passion for performance and the art of song.
Session #9: Nicholas Raymond
Nicholas Raymond is a Wisconsin based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, producer, motivational speaker, and a recovery coach. He has performed many stages as well as major music festivals with artists such as Lizzo, American Authors, LOLO & Sturgill Simpson. As an advocate of long term addiction recovery he has spoken to thousands of youths with the nationally recognized team, Rise Together. He has a new EP entitled To the Moon and Back due out next month (February 2020). Joining Nicholas on electric guitar for his Little Orange Room Session is Eugene multi-instrumentalist, Elroy Jordin. Nicholas recently took the time to answer some questions via email.
LORS: You have a new EP coming out next month. Can you talk a little bit about your recording process/approach for these songs? How does it differ from your 2018 debut album Summer Shoes?
NR: To The Moon & Back recording/tracking started in late April 2019 in Sturgeon Bay,WI with Norwegian transplant Marcus Trana. The goal was to track what we could in 1 day with more of a stripped down approach. Naturally this led to the blossom of more songs. Touring & performing the new songs & finding a few new musicians to accompany the solo tunes, this snowballed into more of a stripped down full band sound. As soon as I plugged in & sat with the new players (Kaidyn Wild & Mel Sinnen) we finished a song I had 60% done, together. We just finished tracking 2 more songs with the full band in Appleton,WI with California transplant Steve Wessing in late December 2019. The album is taking a stronger Blues direction with heavy Alt Folk. My musical co writer & partner Brandon Domer & I played multiple instruments on all 6 songs. We had time this EP to create a few orchestral compositions & recorded with cello,tenor sax & violins. As some may find the chaos of different locations & the variety of styles to be overwhelming, we are very happy with this strong presentation. I would consider this EP to be on the darker side. The sequencing plays a story & the songs span in writing from the last 2 months of 2019 all the way back to 2010. In a way these 6 songs are what I’ve been compiling in life experience over the last decade. The album is set to release on my 33rd Birthday, Feb 28th 2020. What better way to celebrate the gift of life with the opportunity to share the perspectives.
LORS: You do a lot of work with Rise Together, an organization “on a mission to prevent addiction by education, engaging, and empowering youth to use their voices for change; breaking the silence around addiction and mental health.” That sounds like very powerful and rewarding work. Can you talk a little bit about how you connected with this team and how long you’ve been a motivational speaker and life coach?
NR: Rise Together Co founder Anthony Alvarado & Vice President Nadine Machovech invited me to perform at a presentation in 2014. At the time I was early in my path to long term addiction recovery. For me story telling is easy when you have an instrument to paint the picture. Working with youth has been an absolute game changer & has presented many paths I never expected. Music has always been a life saver & a way to keep pushing through the darkness. Rise Together has pushed me to love & forgive myself in the last 6 years. I can remember turning 17 in jail, broken & lost. I vowed music would be the better path, a way out of the drugs. Fast forward 10 years later to my 27th birthday, I was sharing the stage with Lizzo to a sold out crowd in Madison WI. This is another reason that releasing material on my birthday is important to me. To show myself that I have grown & continue to kick my own ass. Music has so many houses & rooms. Some people find a path to addiction inside of this industry because like any industry, it’s messy. There are more good people than bad people if you create a healthy lifestyle & set boundaries. These lessons are important & assholes will always be everywhere. I can tell you that there is hope & there is a lot of wonderful musicians that walk the life of recovery too. Rise Together is my favorite way to connect youth to live music & to perhaps opening the door for themselves to become story tellers of their own futures.
LORS: Guy Clark sings, “Some days you write the song / some days the song writes you.” Which line best describes you?
NR: I’m going to go with “Some days the song writes you” I have had it both ways. I think all songwriters can agree how big of a pain it is to have a song write itself as you’re sitting on the one you really wanted finished months ago. The best act of patience is to let the flow come naturally & to not rush the process or you’re going to use the song as filler. There is no wrong or right way to make art. As long as you mean it & it’s speaking through you.
LORS: Any music you’re listening to (old or new) that I should put in my ear holes? Or any good books you’re currently reading or just finished?
NR: I am currently spinning a lot of John Mayors “Born & Raised” record. It was recorded in the famous Electric Lady Studios in NYC & 3 other awesome Southern California Studios. The album has really heavy folk & Americana vibe. I dig the contrast of sounds compared to John’s other work. For the 3rd time around I am reading through “Scar Tissue” by Anthony Keidis of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Anthony’s break through & path to sobriety is always a reminder to stay positive & intuitive.