lr: Certainly. leaving richmond is a music project based in Los Angeles, CA. The sound we create is best described as ambient, instrumental, electronic rock.
FTY : What is the background to the band name Leaving Richmond?
lr: It’s actually a pretty literal name. I am originally from NY and my family is from the borough of Queens – Richmond Hill to be specific. When I left NY to make the move to Los Angeles, I left from Richmond Hill, Queens NY.
FTY: Can you tell me about what your musical background is?
lr: The whole thing started when I used to lip-sync to Weird Al tapes in my basement. I had this pump action water gun and I used that as a “guitar.” I began playing the saxophone in elementary school and learned to read music. From there I transitioned to the guitar and from there, after the long trip to LA, I learned how to produce the elements of electronic music you hear in our material.
FTY : Can you describe your sound?
lr: First and foremost, everything we do is instrumental. It’s a fusion of rock guitar, electronic grooves and poppy, very present synths. We strive to create climactic, memorable and melodic music. The music of leaving richmond trends more towards the upbeat and catchy style that is exemplified on our latest EP.
FTY : Tell me about your latest release?
lr: Human Minds, Robot Hearts is our 3rd and most recent EP. It is 8 brand new instrumental tracks filled with guitar hooks, deep, driving electronics and bright, catchy synths. The sound is big and effect laden with some production we are really proud of. The inspiration for songs and the title come from a manga called Battle Angel Alita – a personal favorite of mine. The process was by all means a learning experience as well as an exploration of new ideas.
FTY : Can you tell me about your previous releases?
lr: We have two prior EPs. The first being The Secret Traditions of Washington Ave. which has 5 tracks. While still very cinematic and melodic, it represents a more chill and downtempo vibe overall. Our sophomore EP The Bird and the Submarine features a much more rock sound with heavy emphasis on guitars and less electronic sounding drums. We’ve also released 3 singles.
FTY : I note a different type of sound in each release, is that something that you will continue to explore?
lr: Absolutely. I feel it is very important for bands and musicians to continue to grow and expand their sound. There is certainly a discernable style throughout all 3 releases (and singles) thus far and that will continue into new releases, however that serves as a foundation for an ever-evolving sound. There are so many great themes to explore and styles to embrace and all of that can have a really positive and cool impact on what you’re doing if you let it.
FTY : So thinking back to the first album that you released, is it now easier to record the music, and what is the biggest thing you have learned about the music from release to release
lr: It absolutely is. When I recorded the first two EPs I traveled to a studio here in Los Angeles. I am eternally grateful for the time I spent there, working with an engineer and producer because it gave me the skills I needed to engineer the music myself on the most recent EP. That ability, to record and produce my own material, has been so effective, valuable and influential. I still work with a producer on the final mixes but being able to construct the songs from the ground up on my schedule is amazing.
FTY : How do you name the songs on your albums?
lr: I generally have a concept for the albums and I pull titles from that. As I mentioned, these most recent songs are based loosely on the art of Battle Angel, so the titles are further interpretations of that. A lot of times the songs will create imagery in my head, as is the goal of this kind of music. I generally allow that process to happen as organically as I can and go from there.
FTY : How do you promote yourself, are you finding social media is a good avenue for this?
lr: Social media has been the best avenue for leaving richmond. Word of mouth publicity is really essential for music (or any art from) that lives outside of the mainstream. Listeners are always looking around Twitter, Facebook and SoundCloud for something new. We’ve been embraced and continue to be embraced on these mediums and are very grateful for it.
FTY : What advice would you give to any artist playing instrumental music starting out today?
lr: To create your own sound that makes you happy. There’s nothing wrong with pulling influence from bands that exist in any genre but always keep in mind, you are not in those bands. They are already doing what they are doing and it should be your goal to add something personal and meaningful and unique to the sonic landscape. Take advantage of the opportunity
FTY : Would you say that artists like yourself are turning the music industry on its head. You write, record and release your own music. That was never done without some form of record deal. How difficult is it to do everything yourselves?
lr: Over the past few years it has gotten much easier through the availability of technology but it is still a challenge. Social media has helped to level the playing field quite a bit in the realm of marketing and yes, it has changed things a lot. It has allowed new genres of music to thrive and given fans sounds they might never have been able to discover. The music industry has responded somewhat by embracing more eclectic ideas and better music – which is great to see.
FTY : Last piece of music you listened to, apart from your own?
lr: Bonobo: The North Borders. Can not wait to see him again at this year’s Coachella.
FTY : What does the future hold for Leaving Richmond?
lr: We’ve had the good fortune of having our music accepted into a number of publishing and licensing libraries. The marriage of our music with film and TV is not only a very organic situation but also an extremely exciting one. In addition to building and curating those opportunities, we will be beginning production on our 4th EP very soon. 2014 will also see the live incarnation of leaving richmond.