Conversations is an interview series in which we discuss a specific component of an artist’s work.
In this edition, Adam Ward speaks with Sam Ray of Ricky Eat Acid about the spaces and memories that influenced the creation of his new album, Three Love Songs as well as a selection of photos that document the locations the album was recorded around.
I still have an e-mail saved from a couple of years ago when you first sent me Seeing Little Ghosts Everywhere and you talked about concepts of very heavy things (death, loss), but with a dark sense of humor about it. Are you still tackling these concepts in the same way?
I think there’s definitely a degree of humor to it because there always has to be. Some of it’s more obvious in its humor, I guess, but in general it’s probably darker, and I don’t know if serious is the right word (it definitely is fitting), but with at least an attempt at more sincerity and maturity, I guess.
This album is a lot more grounded in what was going on in my life at the time, while seeing little ghosts was kind of an escape from everything, better or worse. Its themes and explorations are a lot more grounded, even when they explore things that are almost absurd or incredibly overblown and dramatic at the core.
What on this album would you consider absurd or dramatic?
Well the original first song I wrote for it was “Heart breaking as one,” and that was kind of about the end of the world, comparing it with a real idea of loss/what loss means on a personal level. All the kinds of ideas of it started coming about and the songs after it started exploring that in a much more personal sense.
This record started in the same way with “Heart breaking,” like viewing things through some dreams I’d had, things I’d been thinking about, what my experience there might be. But it broadened from there to what that meant in general or whatever.
When you first sent me “In my dreams we’re almost touching” you told me how you had no idea how you were going to fit it into the album, but then eventually added stuff like “It will draw me over to it” that sort of expands on that more percussive theme. What made those songs so necessary to the album?
Yeah, “It will draw me over to it” was actually the second song I wrote for the album, after “Heart breaking as one.” But it fit in a lot easier than “In my dreams,” which is like, the most necessary.
I had to write a press thing for it, and I described it as trying to synthesize all these different styles I’ve played with before across little EPs and stuff, like no stakes releases, but it fails totally at it and because of that I like it so much more.
This is where I was living more or less when I was writing most of the album. I finished “Heart breaking as one” while staying up all night and powering through a bunch of Xanax because i got inspired and started work right after I took some. So I had to keep myself awake so I could finish a draft of it because it felt incredibly pressing and urgent and important. I didn’t finish the full song for a while longer, but I’m glad I forced myself to stay up. I wrote a lot of the album around my house. In different rooms. Empty rooms. On piano in summer. Etc. It was a weird, hazy time and it’s a weird, hazy place. They feed each other. I worked on “Outside your house” for three days straight, more or less, around May or June of last year just in my house. I took a break to pick up Chinese food once, and I took another break to sleep for like four hours. I think I stayed up probably forty-eight hours to get that song done. I don’t know why. It felt really pressing, too. I would just get lost in it and it’s a very long song and daunting and I would lose sight of it. I had the song sketched out for nine months before that—the whole thing kind of written up in various forms with all these ideas for what the actual parts should consist of, musically. My room is littered with notes on the album. I’m still finding them. They’re all over. On the backs of photographs and stuff. Little drawings here and there.
This is where I probably worked on things the most. I remember vividly working on both “Inside your house” and “It will draw me over to it” lying in bed, early in the morning or late at night. With the blinds open the lighting was really beautiful and it rained a lot in spring. I would lie in bed while Emily had class and work on things. Sketching things out. Sometimes when she was around I’d get her advice. I feel like more than anywhere else the feeling of this room at night and in the daytime shaped what this album would sound like, both in its ambient/tonal stretches and more traditional parts. I spent a whole day and night working on “In my dreams we’re almost touching” and eating candy/EQ-ing kicks. It was cool. It’s also fitting because this room, while still existing physically, is now dead and belongs to some random bros so it hella mirrors the ephemeral nature of the music.
This is more or less where I live now (sublet) until January 23rd. After that I’ll be around but probably still staying here most frequently unless I quit my job. John and Alec (from Julia Brown) both live here, too, and have since I met them. A lot of the album was worked on here, though very little actually written or recorded. It was a place to come to show people mixes (we used to have awesome speakers but not anymore) and get feedback. Now I have nowhere to play music out loud since I don’t have speakers and my car doesn’t play music besides the radio anymore. so after the album was finished, I got to listen to it in a car and on the speakers a few times and haven’t since. It’s cool though. It was very necessary. A lot of the album was indirectly created here probably. It’s probably sweet to mention the blinds picture was taken at 7 a.m. with the first rays of sunlight coming in after I’d gotten off work/come home/gotten ready for bed, and I took that right before going to sleep. Everyone at the house stays up until ungodly hours and it’s probably reflected heavily in the weird late night/early morning feeling ever-present in everything ever that I’ve probably ever done.
Places I wandered around, places I would always have to be constantly driving, etc. whether to purposefully clear my head or be forced to it by travel/commute it was probably the most integral part and probably in general the most integral part to creating music/an album in general for me.
Also a screenshot of a tiny selection of notes on my computer look like re: this album. My room is so much worse lol.
Three Love Songs is officially out today via Orchid Tapes.