Interview with Rainy and the Dust

I love how some music can just make you smile no matter how bad your day has been and I want to talk about Rainy and The Dust who always seem to have that effect on me.

This music is the live project of the singer songwriter called Rainy, he creates this wonderful laid back rootsy acoustic sound that oozes this positive vibe that I personally find irresistible. Rainy is not just a musician but also an experienced sound engineer. 1997 saw him graduate from Gateway School of Recording and became a house engineer at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire. During this time he worked with various bands and producers including the metal band Napalm Death, Dr. Didg and Del Amitri. He still continues to work as a studio and live engineer today.

I wanted to learn a little more about the world of music that Rainy lives in, what influences him and more. I have been a fan of him for a while now and have talked to him through social media, so I thought I would ask if he would like to get involved with this feature. He was more that happy to do so and this is what we talked about:

Was there a moment or someone that inspired you to become a musician?

I love the idea of a single transformative moment where music suddenly connects with someone for the first time in their life. If such a point existed for me, sadly it has since been absorbed into the depths of my unknowing. My earliest memories of music are of my mum playing the nylon string guitar and singing and also my grans piano. I’m pretty sure my ear for music began at home. I didn’t start playing an instrument until I was 14. Up until that point I had raided my Mum and Dads record collection and started buying my own albums mainly based on soundtracks and film scores. Now I think about it, it was film that switched me on to all kinds of music years before I picked up an instrument and realised that the adult world had chopped them all up into genres. A concept that still confuses me now a little. I also loved dancing. I’ve often wondered if being dyslexic influenced my attraction to music. I remember being very young and thinking to myself that music seemed like a far more accurate way of expressing yourself.

Once this decision was made, were there any musicians who help influence your music and it’s sound?

If I really think about it every piece of music I’ve heard has had an influence on me ( which I realise is kind of an annoying answer ) whether I’m drawn to it or not, I know that it will affect me somehow.

I love so many styles of music I really do think it all filters in at some point or another. From the metal, grunge and punk bands I obsessed over when I was skating around as a teenager or the Motown and Rock and Roll artists I danced around to when I was really young, the myriad of musical artists from all over the world that inspired me when I first moved to London to study sound recording at 19, or the beautiful friends and musicians that I have had the honour to play with since. My influences continue to expand and shift with time. I suppose the key to really answering this question is to listen to my music. I used to joke and say I was born in the wrong time. I don’t feel like that so much anymore. I think I was just identifying with the role of a writer. Someone who’s time is spent searching for ways of seeing and then finding a way of expressing that back into the world. You find yourself being an observer of yourself and others around you. When it comes to ‘sound’, with my producers hat on, I’ll always try to serve the song. Since most of my music has African, Cuban, and a Soulful beachy kind of vibe I usually aim for a natural recorded sound. I love that dry Stax sound that came out of Memphis in the early sixties, but I’m also a sucker for a reverb drenched indian raga. It really is down to what I feel is needed to deliver the song.

I think I can only really skim the surface of my musical heroes and heroines. To finally answer the question, my music has definitely been influenced by these writers and musicians… in no particular order:

Joni Mitchell, Jerry Garcia, Steve Wonder, Guillermo Portabales, Ali Farka Toure, Ravi Shankar, James Taylor, Nick Drake, Bill Withers, Paul Simon, Phish, Robert Hunter, John Williams, David Crosby, Steely Dan, Eliades Ochoa, Bob Marley, Blues Traveller….

For new listeners out there, what singles/EP’s/Albums has you released so far?

As a music fan I’ve always loved the format of albums. I’ve never released a single or an EP. Each album has come to represent a chapter of my life with lessons learned, loves discovered and lost, and truths and deceptions revealed. My very first album was called Life and Lunacy, I released it on tape, I never sold a single copy. At 21 years old I was way more comfortable giving tapes away for free. I released What it all boils down to in 1998 and formed the band Little Gaia off the back of those songs. In 2006 I released Hold on to the Rhythm and eventually changed the band name to Rainy and The Dust.

From these releases which are your two favourite songs and why?

There are definitely songs I like to sing, songs that sit in my range and feel good to perform like ‘Lift’ or ‘Hold on to the rhythm’, then there are songs that are a little more ambitious that you’ve got to stick with and trust that you’ll finish writing. I’ve noticed that I tend to write my way out of bad times, like a kind of therapy. If I’m in a good place, I have the strength to acknowledge the darkness. When I’m struggling I’m writing my way out into the light again. Right now some of my favourite songs are on the next record but if I was to pick couple from these albums…..

there are songs that remind me of times or places I’ve performed them, or songs that I wrote really quickly like ‘Snowflake’. I wrote that song in about twenty minutes, the whole tune, much to my frustration It’s never happened since. It was just sitting there waiting one day…

‘Little things’ is song I’m happy I finished. It rides that line between dark and light and reminds me of living in Wales and my old tumble down farmhouse. It has a chorus lyric that calls out “it’s gonna rain, it’s gonna rain” I remember playing an awesome house party in the summer with the band a few years back. It was late and we were finishing up the music for the night with a couple of tunes to go. Just as I hit the first chorus line “it’s gonna rain, it’s gonna rain” the clouds opened up and it poured down. We just kept going, didn’t slip a beat, the band got soaked, the crowd got soaked, everyone went crazy as we closed out one of the best parties I’ve ever played. That tune will always be a favourite if not only for that one night.

What can people expect from your shows?

At the moment I am doing solo shows for the first time in years. Shows with the band were intense and full of dancing energy. We tried to bring out a lot of the percussive elements of the tunes and really hone the dynamics of a set. Solo shows have helped me connect with all the songs again. Lyrics have always been an important part of my music so I’ve been able to return to the essence of what the songs are and what I was trying to say when I wrote them. I’d like to hope that seeing a solo show would bring you closer in to it all.

What are your future plans and goals for your music?

I’ve had the honour of producing a couple of records for other artists and guesting on albums as a musician. I’d love to do more of that in the future.

The major plan right now is to finish this new album. It has been a long time coming and its about time these songs left home. After that I have a loose plan to perform in Canada and the US. I’ve never toured over the pond before and over the years I’ve had some great feedback from that side of the world. I’d like to play some shows in Europe too.

Honestly, I would love to just carry on writing and performing music.

If I was to aim to achieve anything with my music I think it would be to make sure I let people in, be vital, stay open and speak of something of ourselves.

If you had the opportunity to travel in time and see any musician/band perform, who would you choose and why?

Wow, where would I start…. I think I’d like to sit in a corner of the Troubadour club in West Hollywood from around 1960 and not move for a couple of decades, that way I could catch most of my favourite singer songwriters. Failing that, I would have liked to have seen the Grateful Dead when they were cooking, any of the 1977 shows. To see them play in front of the the pyramids at Giza during a full lunar eclipse in 1978 would have been pretty cool too. Now I’m thinking I would have liked to have gone to Monterey pop in 1967 and seen Ravi Shankar play, amongst others. The Wailers on their first UK tour circa 1973 – 75 would have been awesome. Any of the blues musicians that were captured at the start of recording sound. The list could go on for a very long time …. I’d also make absolutely sure that Everett was right about his many worlds interpretation before stepping into the time machine just so I don’t mess it all up in the future past, you know, just in case.

Finally, is there anything you like to say to any new listeners out there or maybe to any of your fans who are reading this?

A big thank you! To the gig goers and the quiet listeners. To everyone who has embraced my music into their lives, supported me, encouraged me, reached out and shared with me what songs mean to them, shown up to shows and stuck around to dance and sing along. To those who haven’t yet stumbled upon my music, thank you for searching out and supporting unsigned artists like myself. I hope we connect somewhere down the road.

As Rainy mentioned during the interview, in 1998 he released ‘What it all Boils down to’ and for its age, it still sounds fresh today. I loves how it has this balance in energy as Rainy delivers a captivating emotional tone with songs like ‘Snowflake’ but can switch it up by bringing a smile to your face with his cool funky vibes which can be heard on ‘Ride’. Each track has something different to offer and not one of them disappoints, this shows that Rainy is a highly talented musician/songwriter. If you check out the album then I recommend you listen to the wonderful ‘Embers’. As much as I am a big fan of the happy go lucky side to his music, this song showcases an impressive lyrical talent with its story as well as his guitar skills. A definite favourite of mine.

Fans had to wait until 2006 for Rainy to release the follow up album ‘Hold to the Rhythm’ due to the distraction of life and travelling, but the delay was worth it. This collection of songs are what I call ‘SUNNY’ as they make me relax and put me in a good mood. There is something about the combination of his vocals and instrumental offerings that change my mind-set in that way and I like it. Personally for me, the best type of music is about emotion it provokes.

This album features a wonderful array of instruments that include guitars, bass, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, sitar, clarinet, bamboo flute, drums and didgeridoo. These are mostly are played by Rainy himself except for a few songs which feature Justin Fellows and Tom Forgaard. The way they are used and the layers they create help to give this release its charm which ‘Message’ and ‘Just a Key’ are great examples of this. When you add this to Rainy’s vocal talents that flow throughout the album reflecting the tone of each song, this is what makes ‘Hold to the Rhythm’ a hit for me. Talking of hits, let your ears listen to ‘Thousand Miles the Wiser’ as the story telling quality of this one my favourites. Great details within his words and its soundtrack is really good too.

I am so glad you have taken the time to read my words about the music from Rainy but you should now head over to his Bandcamp page (click HERE) to listen to both albums in full. Pull up a comfy chair, press play and let his sound sweep you away.

If you want to find out more about this talented musician then head over to his website at RainyandtheDust.com. You can also find him at the usual social media sites of Facebook and Twitter which will also include updates about the new album.

I can’t wait to listen to the new album when it gets released and when it does you can expect to read about it here. As well as a review I will be spreading the word on my social media sites like any fan should. So, if you are a fan (either old or new) then you should do the same and tell the world about the music of Rainy and the Dust TODAY!