An Interview with Ricky Roosevelt and Raymond – Sound+Vision Sessions

Friday, September 27th marks the next installment of our local music showcase, the Sound+Vision Sessions. The series highlights local music talent in an all-ages environment from 7:00-9:00 p.m. This time around, we move down a slightly more experimental, hip hop and R&B path with Raymond and Ricky Roosevelt, two artists of the Vivid Zebra collective.

Vivid Zebra is experimental electronic, hip hop, and art collective based in Lawrence, KS, formed in 2014. Their ranks include performers and producers who have opened for Post Malone and Show Me The Body.

Ricky Roosevelt (Jarred Morris) is a rapper, performer, and self-proclaimed wordsmith. His music blends a variety of electronic, at times ethereal and dreamy subgenre influences with hip hop. He ties his sound together with a syncopated vocal delivery that nicely contrasts the instrumentals. His lyrical narratives often center around introspection, introversion, and dodging the spotlight. 

Earlier this year, he released Legacy, Vol. 2 alongside his producer and collaborator Alccalh.

I asked Ricky Roosevelt a few questions about his background, influences, and his experience in the Lawrence community.

How long have you been part of the Lawrence music community?

I have been apart of the music community in Lawrence since very early 2015. Raymond, Alccalh and I did our very first show all together at Replay in January of that year with Alex Chanay (an original VZ member). An artist out of KC named Jipetto was doing a series of house shows at his spot on New York Street during that same time. We were attending/ performing at those and getting connected to artists from the Lawrence, KC, and Topeka scene. Ever since then, I personally have been performing consistently in Lawrence and surrounding cities. 

There is a dreamy, spatial quality to a lot of the instrumentals of your tracks, and I really enjoy how your vocals often contrast that with their syncopated rhythms. Do you gravitate towards those dichotomies, or is it something that just kind of happens depending on the beat and production choices? Any particular influences you pull from?

As a listener, I think I have always been drawn to slightly off kilter beats, and the same goes for creating music. I look for things that stand out sonically, and what makes a beat unique. Alccalh incorporates a variety of unique sounds/ elements in the beats he makes, which I've always gravitated towards. We also have been making music together coming up on five years. We have released two projects, and have a lot more content on the way. We definitely have a common ground for creating. I believe I am pretty versatile lyrically, and get influenced by the beat, so it really just depends on that. Nowadays, I am also now a lot more comfortable with being experimental.

I have a lot of influences but some key ones are Curren$y, A Tribe Called Quest, most artists from the Odd Future Collective, Thundercat, Stan Lee and comic books in general.

What is your history and relationship with the Vivid Zebra collective? And how did you start working with your producer, Alccalh?

I met Alex Chanay and Neill Kennedy (a VZ affiliate) in December 2014. This was when I was first introduced to Vivid Zebra, and I started working with various members from then on. I had been rapping since sophomore year of high school at that point, and was ready to start making legitimate songs, so the connection worked out well for me. We all have different individual styles and influences, but we work cohesively really well together, and it's easy. 

Alccalh was the first person I ever recorded with, and also the first person who really started giving me beats. He is still my primary producer today. He essentially works as the glue that keeps the sound right when working with me individually or when we work with other vocal artists. 

What is your favorite library moment or facet of the Lawrence community?

I am a huge comic book fan, and like I mentioned, they influence me a lot. LPL has a really good graphic novel section, and I have definitely spent a lot of time with books I've gotten from there. Also, the library's design is amazing!

 


Raymond (Spencer Raymond) is Lawrence based singer whose sound glides through a number of subgenres including funk, downtempo, and pop, but with a common thread of R&B. His voice is smooth, enticing, yet relaxing and is always a head turner at performances. His most recent release Future Holds (French Exit Records, 2019) is a prime example of this eclecticism. 

Raymond elaborated on the album's sound and his time in Lawrence.

How long have you been part of the Lawrence music community?

I have been a part of the Lawrence music community for about three or four years now.

I enjoy how many subgenres you pull from on Future Holds - the dreamy funk of “Raining”, the electro-chill of “Something About Me” - and it’s all glued together with a prominent R&B feel. You describe it as “experimental pop/R&B”. What are some of your influences that educate that sound? Does some of that come from collaboration with your producer, Brad Girard?

Most of the different subgenres and influences come from Brad Girard and me working together. A few years ago Brad and I made an EP called Good Girls, Bad News. After the release of the EP, we continued to work together quite a bit. A lot of the time Brad would have an idea for a song in mind before we started a writing session, or I would come in and we would write something from scratch on a beat he'd prepared. There would be a lot of times too where we would sit and share music and videos with each other, and that really helped us connect as artists and learn where the other person is drawing inspiration from. When we got together we were always excited to try new sounds, even if they weren't necessarily in line with other songs we had written. We wrote a solid collection of about 15 songs, and then cut ones that seemed too out of place until we settled on the tracklist.

Tell us more about the Vivid Zebra collective. When did you start working with them, and what kind of relationships do everyone involved have with one another?

The Vivid Zebra collective started towards the end of 2013 or early 2014. My buddy Alex Chanay introduced me to his friend Alex Calhoun. The 2 had started making hip hop music together and decided to call themselves Vivid Zebra. I joined them in making music shortly after. We started adding members and eventually became a collective of about 8 people. We all started to connect really well, and Vivid Zebra turned into a group of friends making music together.

What is your favorite library moment or facet of the Lawrence community?

The Lawrence community has a lot of great artists that like to support each other. There's enough variety in the art and entertainment, that you're sure to find something you like!

Check back soon to find Future Holds in our catalog!

-Joel Bonner is a Technology Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.


Sound+Vision Sessions will be held in the Lawrence Public Library auditorium on Friday, September 27th from 7:00-9:00pm. 
Questions? Contact Joel: jbonner@lplks.org

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