Songwriter Blake Luley (Air Waves, Howth, Ajnabi) has been weaving his world into his music for quite some time, and now it’s about to be unleashed onto the world in the form of a debut album from his project Rainwater. A far cry from his previous projects, Rainwater is more of an indie approach to his craft. The music that has come forth is beautiful, tranquil, and stunning. It is the moment of solace that we have all been craving in our busy, hectic lives. It is a place we can escape to when we are looking for passion, resistance, and inspiration. Written during his journey through (and out of) adolescence, in a variety of mindsets and settings, he has taken his experiences through it all – and now from Brooklyn to Seattle – and wrapped it up with a big bow for us to finally feast our eyes – or ears – on.
Rainwater’s debut album, Swimming in Sunlight, is set to release on August 12th. But we have a stream of this incredible work for your listening ears only. Plus, we have an exclusive interview with Luley about the project below. Read it at your own risk.
How did the name Rainwater come about?
My mother’s maiden name is Rainwater. A lot of the songs on the album are about visiting that side of the family in Georgia, so it felt appropriate for the project. Also, my mom and my Memaw were my first exposure to music with them both being in the church choir. I’m really thankful to them for that. Beyond that, I just loved the mental image Rainwater produced. Our music would be pretty good to listen to on a rainy day I’d say.
What’s something you think everyone should know about Rainwater?
Up until the age of roughly 11 I had it in my mind that I was going to be in the NBA despite being the worst basketball player ever. I was the kid who when I scored, both sides cheered in amazement. I also had to wear sports goggles, which really only worked for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I quickly realized I was better at guitar and have since abandoned my basketball career.
Your new album is awesome. Was there a primary inspiration behind it? Or multiple?
Originally the only inspiration was making something that was my own. I started creating the album in late 2014 right after leaving a band I was playing in called Howth. My main goal at that point was to write something that was truly an expression of my own musical voice. Originally it was mostly instrumental and had almost entirely different songs except Blackberry Pie, Rid, and Dead Frogs. As I became more comfortable with singing, it became a way more vocal heavy album until every song had vocals on it.
Once the album started to become more fully formed the concept of “swimming in sunlight” really came together. The title of the album appears in the lyrics of two songs (Dead Frogs, Lonesome You) and is referenced in a few others (Ditmars, Out Of Focus). The album is ultimately about me finding love & acceptance after struggling through a really dark period, and the best way I could think to describe that feeling was swimming in sunlight. The idea that I had gotten through the darkness into the light, yet didn’t really understand my place or purpose in the light. Through creating this album I feel like I realized how to come to terms with that, which was very chill.
Which track on the album was your favorite to create and why?
I’d say my favorite two tracks to create were the last two that were recorded, Ditmars and Thundercloud. For these two I was able to really involve the live band I’ve been playing with. A lot of the other songs were made in relative solitude, occasionally having a friend play on them after I finished the basic tracks. To be able to work with my best buddies on those two songs was a really special experience and also gave the album a momentum and liveliness that wasn’t really there before those two songs were on it.
Which track was the most personal to create and why?
The most personal song on the album is definitely Blackberry Pie. It’s taken many different forms over the years, so even just on a musical level I feel like it’s really a part of me. I originally wrote the bulk of the lyrics years ago, improvising words over a weird trip-hop sounding beat I made. It became about my current self remembering some positive and formative memories of childhood while I was having a really hard time adjusting to my adult life. That’s where the “I wish I was in Atlanta, feeling everything for the first time” line came from. From there, it goes on to touch on how a lot of the lightness of my childhood dissipated after my cousin died when I was 12 years old. Shortly after that point, I lost my faith in God, which was so crucial to my younger self. Ultimately, I see this song as reflecting on who I am and trying to reconcile all the contradictions that growing up brought me.
If this album was a donut, what kind would it be and why?
Hm, I’d like to think of it as a Cronut with candied ginger on it I suppose, but I don’t really know why. I just dig Cronuts and candied ginger.
What do you want people to take away from the album?
I struggled with severe depression as a teenager and having music that I could relate to absolutely saved my life. If this album resonates with someone’s circumstances and I could help them feel a little less alone in this stupid and horrible world, that would mean a whole lot to me. That’s the main goal for sure.
Who is your favorite superhero and why?
Growing up my favorite superhero was Batman, but after seeing that last movie where Batman is basically just there to help the police and the state I was a bit turned off by his whole thing. I found myself getting down with Bane more to be honest. Although, I do love that old Batman TV series that starred Adam West. I’ll go with that, Batman as played by Adam West. Why? I dunno, ’cause POW!
What’s up next for you all?
It’s definitely a strange time for this album to be released, as I’m actually moving with my partner (and singer/keyboardist in the band) Aviva to Seattle at the end of the month. I’m certainly sad to be leaving behind the band I’ve been playing with: Pat Curry (drums), Neil Acharya (bass and sax), Dane Zarra (guitar). They are also pretty much my best buddies, so I’ll miss them like hell in all sorts of ways. Two days before I move we’re gonna go to the studio and lay down a few new tracks for an EP. The new songs were a bit more collaborative with everyone contributing ideas. Oh, and way more saxophone! I can’t imagine a better way to end this chapter of the band.
I hope to get a band together in Seattle once I’m out there, that’s the next goal. I have another albums worth of songs, so hopefully we’ll be able to work on those and make something cool!
Ultimately, a very uncertain and exciting future is what’s next for Rainwater.
8/20- Brooklyn, NY @ The Schoolhouse w/ Soft Black, Carroll, and Soft Ethnic
8PM, $5, All Ages