Albuquerque is in the desert. The colors are washed out from the sun. It’s hot in the daytime and cold at night. Everyone is eager to tell you that if whatever street you’re on looks familiar it’s because of Breaking Bad.
April is the cruelest month, green things out of dead land, red rock praying for rain, etc. On “Splinters (IIII),” Reighnbeau is praying for rain as well, desperate in the way of someone who’s been in the desert long enough to really mean it.
Albuquerque’s Bryce Hample has been making music as Reighnbeau since 2010. He’s released between ten and twenty albums, consistently full of lowkey some of the best “producer music” this side of the internet—dreamy dark trap-pop, thoroughly haunted, alternately sinister and blissed out, beat-driven shoegaze or whatever witchhouse is called these days.
BLOOD is Reighnbeau’s latest: more electronic and less guitar focused, confidently engineered, including collaborations and prominently featured vocals from artists such as Nicole Brenny (Girls in Uniform), Madeline Johnston (Sister Grotto), and Colleen Johnson (Twig Palace). On “Splinters”, Johnson’s and Hample’s voices face off, deftly interspersed with various anxious samples. The sound of a loading shotgun punctuates Johnson singing a line about an “idiot heart”—maybe it shouldn’t work but it does.
Listen to “Splinters (III)” below, stream BLOOD in full on Reighnbeau’s bandcamp, and read the Q+A after the jump:
What was the process of writing/recording this album like? How was it different from your other ones? What was your favorite part of working on this record? What were some challenging parts?
This album had a different process than anything I have worked on in the past, perhaps it is most obviously less guitar oriented, but the approach varied greatly as well. I see it almost as a collage of sound, where I stretched soundwaves, sampled myself and my friends, reinterpreted past work, and used all the new exciting tools and techniques i have been learning over the past few years. It was the first time I have recorded an entire album without any notion of how it would be played live, which was liberating. It has been an interesting trip reinterpreting with a live band. One of my favorite parts was bringing together the voices of friends, who have never met, to sing on the same song, to me that is amazing. When I was growing up I always wanted to be able to make “electronic” music, but it has taken me this long to get there. Mixing this record was extremely challenging for me, because by that point I had already heard everything 1000 times. So happy it is finally done!
There are some rad collaborations on here. How did those come together?
This album involved a number of collaborations with friends who live outside NM. It would not have come together as it did without Colleen Johnson, who is amazing and based out of Oakland. We started playing together in NM when she asked me to accompany her live on some songs for a show, and then eventually we started playing with recording.
The first song that heavily featured Colleen was ‘SISTERSINGTOME‘, but over time more lyrical collaborations featured on “Blood” came together. We wrote some songs together in Oakland and she sings on most of the record, and not to mention that I used her vocal samples as an instrument all over the place. We hopefully will be working on new material this year!
Another big one is my friend Madeline Johnston! (Sister Grotto) who is based in Denver, she and I have been working together for a few years now, she sang on my last record (Hands) and I played on her latest album (The Minotaur). She sings on “Milk of Amnesia”, “Highways” and “Blame” were originally written by her, though the versions on my album are reimagined reinterpreted and possibly mangled by me. Her music is gorgeous, I am excited to be playing a show with her in Denver on a tour next month.
You’ve made a ton of albums under the Reighnbeau moniker. How has your writing process and the project in general evolved over time?
Reighnbeau started as an outlet for little vignettes that didnt fit into the worlds of any of my other bands or projects, with voice and acoustic guitar being the main instruments. Gradually over time it has grown to incorporate other instruments, sounds, arrangements, and friends. I would describe its progression as my experiments and indulgences in trying to realize my sonic fantasies. It has had a number of different live incarnations and lineups, and has done a number of national tours over the past few years, as a duo, trio, and solo. It might be my baby, but I prefer to work and especially SING with other people, live and in the “studio”.
What are some things about Albuquerque/New Mexico that inspire you?
Its ridiculously beautiful. I grew up here and yet still am in awe.
There’s a track on the album called “Ghost”. What are your feelings/thoughts about ghosts?
I’ve never seen a ghost, only heard them. The space in which I have rehearsed for years is a basement and I am constantly hearing phantoms walking around and making noises upstairs. As far as the song ‘Ghost’ goes, it is more a reference to the ghosts of friends and lovers that we sometimes carry around with us, as I will admit I can be nostalgic to a fault. This song is a feat of collaboration, I wrote the skeleton of it when I was staying in my sisters attic in upstate new york in winter. The initial piano is sampled from my other project ‘Hedia’, and the vocal melody came from a session I did in albuquerque with Colleen. My friend Ashley Saywut Moyer is an amazingly talented beatboxer who later recorded on the song when we were collaborating for an art show. Finally I traveled to Oakland and San Francisco where Colleen and I wrote lyrics together and she composed the rest of the vocal parts.