Q&A: Castanets' Ray Raposa Talks about Portland, Sufjan and new movie Beyond This Place
Ray Raposa - Mia Fern
Maybe Ray Raposa likes surprises. Maybe that's why no two albums from his band, Castanets, sound the same—they go from near-ambient sound experiments to outlaw country-styled rock records—and why Castanets shows in Portland are often such last-minute affairs. We like surprises, too, and we were surprised to hear that Raposa had been working with beloved singer-songwriter-composer Sufjan Stevens on a soundtrack for a new bicycle movie.
Well, maybe "bicycle movie" is an oversimplification. Beyond this Place is, judging from the trailer (see below) more about fatherhood and freedom than it is about bikes. We were excited to hear about the project, and even more excited once we heard the title track from the film's soundtrack, "Beyond This Place," which features Raposa front and center. The film will screen November 3 at the Hollywood Theater, with Raposa and Stevens sitting in the orchestra pit providing a live soundtrack. Portland is one of only four cities to host the movie/live score experience. Whoah!
We dropped Raposa a line about working with Suffy Suf and missing the Blazers. The interview is below, just under the title track and before the movie trailer. So much media!
WW: Are you back in Portland these days? Raposa: More so than ever. Fully inhabiting. Fully infatuated with. Waiting out the lockout. Let B. Roy play.
How do you know Sufjan Stevens, and how did the two of you come to work on this project together? Sufjan and I go back a little bit. If he (and the rest of Asthmatic Kitty) hadn't put out the 2nd Castanets record I likely would of been a lot nearer to destitute and dusty than now. Having met him after that fact and collaborated with him on things here and there I am still glad to count him as a bud and co-worker. There are moments of his on my records that give me chills on warmer nights.
The soundtrack came up between he, [director] Kaleo [La Belle] and I. They've known each other for a bit/from kid times and worked together previously. Kaleo was interested in having me involved for this one and I was glad to be invited. As it turns out after agreeing to it unseen and flying out to BKLYN to track, I learned I was scoring a documentary partly about a man who lives three blocks away from me. Huh.
Are you going to be playing the live dates (especially the one in PDX)? We'll be doing them all together, yes. The PDX date came about when Kaleo and family were visiting from Switzerland and we took a trip out to the Washougal to get wet. Something about the drive and the trees and the valleys and hills made the prospect of an NW screening damn near impossible to resist.
Can you talk a little about the writing process? Were you watching the film while you wrote? Were you working in the same room with Stevens or were you guys sorta building this slowly? We were together, all three, with the film in a nice studio. Nice view of the East River. Had some nice dinners. Built up the score work and a good collection of outtakes and b-sides over some time there.
Was the movie already titled Beyond This Place and you got the title track name from that? The song came from the title, which was in place from before we were involved, and was the last piece we did on the last day of tracking. Fortunate thing that, as it could've been a lonesome closing credits otherwise. Writing specifically towards and from the character and space (or percieved character and space) of the film was very much a reward and I feel hopefully that it was a fitting tribute to Kaleo's work.
You don't seem like a dude who would be down for soundtracking some random movie, so is this one as good as it looks? Yep, and more. Just the cinematography alone sold me on first view. These wonderful biking montages, the neighborhoods, the forests, even the 205. So well-captured and well-presented.
What else is new with you/Castanets? New record in Feb. 2012. Deep SE Portland downtime in the meanwhiles, with maybe a quick Mexico trip to break it up a bit.