All this week, Behind the Setlist is previewing Volume, a music festival in Spokane, Washington that features 100 artists in 10 different venues across two days. Our Spokane team will be on the ground May 31 and June 1. Until then? We are listening to as many artists as we can, previewing those who turn our ears.
Pro Tip: Check out the official Volume Spotify playlist for a taste of every band.
Ray Badness @ nYne Bar on June 1
Ray Badness, a duo from Spokane, is bound to be one of the funnest surprises at this year’s festival. Their contagious new EP, Hello, My Name is Ray, dropped last week. The album clocks in at a brisk 22 minutes, and every one of those minutes is a damn good time. “You Want More” is a mid-tempo auto-tuned dance jam with a killer guitar solo. “The Party Song” channels/riffs/parodies Daft Punk. “The Feeling” is a soulful tune that grooves like the bastard lovechild of Cher and Tears for Fears. It’s hard to tell what this band is doing, to be honest. But maybe that’s the point. They’re having fun and now we get to have fun, too.
Behind the Setlist chatted with Ray Badness (Calvin Elam and Scott Nordahl) over email. The conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Where are you from and how did the group come together?
I am from the Spokane area and Scott is from the west side of the state. We’ve been intermittent roommates for the last three or four years. We always talked about trying to form a band, but it never really materialized until this project. In January, we were goofing around and wrote “The Party Song,” kind of by accident, and we just thought it was too much fun to not keep writing. We cranked out enough material for a one-hour set in about three months, and it’s just kept rolling from there.
Congrats on the new EP! What does the writing and recording process look like for your group?
Thank you! We are very collaborative in the writing process. For the most part, I write and arrange all of the instrumental pieces of our songs, and Scott is the primary lyricist. I do pretty much all of the recording. I’m still very much a beginner when it comes to recording and mixing, but we’ve been pretty happy with how our first EP turned out. We pretty much recorded the whole thing in our living room.
What’s your favorite song to play live right now?
“The Party Song,” hands down. It has a lot of energy and it’s almost sentimental in a way because it was the first one that we wrote. There are some videos from our first show where you can tell during that song that we are both having the time of our lives.
What goes into the making of a great setlist?
Our goal is to keep people excited and dancing through our whole show. We try to throw something at the beginning that will immediately catch a listener’s attention, and then we just try to build and build on that energy. One of my favorite things to do is to throw in a cover where it’s not immediately apparent what song it is until the lyrics come in, and then people get stoked because they know the song.
If a Spokanite stumbles across Ray Badness at Volume, what kind of show will they see?
A retro ’80s-’90s vibe, lots of synthesizers, and dancing. Lots of dancing.
Who are you excited to see at Volume?
We are always stoked to see some of our local friends up in the spotlight. Vannah Oh! and Indian Goat are definitely at the top of our list. The lineup after our set on Saturday is killer, so I’m hoping we get a chance to stick around and see most of it.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Writing, recording, touring?
Writing more material is a top priority right now. We both have full-time day jobs, so we have to make the most of any free time we can get to work on stuff like that. Now that we have an EP released, there’s a little less pressure to write and record as fast as humanly possible. I think we’re both excited to get back to writing.