Colorado indie-folk artist Racyne Parker is quickly emerging, becoming known for her contemporary melding of country-folk-rock-pop genres that perfectly encapsulates her signature style. Often delivering catchy lyrics with her quintessential warm vocals, Parker’s songwriting brings listeners in. It offers a look into her life, stories, feelings, and experiences as if you are sitting right there with her through it all.
Covering everything from falling in love, love lost, living in a small town, leaving a small town, and navigating all of the uncertainties of life, Parker’s lyrics find joy in the little moments, and her new release is no exception. “Willow Tree” is a soulful journey through the enchanting stages of a friends-to-lovers romance. Inspired by classic love stories in films such as Love and Basketball, The Man in the Moon, and The Notebook, Parker crafted her own narrative.
“Willow Tree” tells the story of two childhood friends growing up together, facing the trials of life. They ultimately find love that withstands the test of time, much like the movies that have always captured her heart. While the song may seem lyrically simple at first, it weaves a tapestry of complex emotions, blending elements of angst, longing, melancholy, and joy. The delicate vocals, ambient pedal steel, simmering mandolin, compelling rhythms, and enchanting guitar riffs create a musical experience that gracefully balances wistful nostalgia with a happily-ever-after vibe.
Racyne Parker joined us today for an in-depth look at the new single. She also discusses her creative process, dealing with stage fright, and more.
For those not familiar with you as an artist, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Racyne Parker: “Of course! I’m a country-esque singer/songwriter based out of Denver, Colorado. I grew up in a rural community in Southern Oregon. I draw a lot of inspiration from my upbringing, leaving home, and navigating life as I get older. And I turn to music and songwriting to process my experiences, observations, and feelings. When you listen to the songs that I’m sharing these days, you’ll hear those themes throughout!”
How would you describe your own music?
“I would describe my new music as Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert playing blackjack at a table with Lord Huron and Caamp. And the card dealer is Keith Urban. That is to say, I think that the songs are pretty lyrically driven. There is a lot of country influence and indie-folk flare.”
Tell us more about “Willow Tree.” What was your experience of making it? What went on behind the scenes? Are there any notable moments that stand out?
“I wrote ‘Willow Tree’ because I love love, and wanted to write a love song where everything works out exactly as you thought it would when you were just a kid. The song tells the story of two childhood friends who grow up, fall in love, and share a beautiful life together. I was aiming for a happy ending but found that even in a simple story like this one, the underlying nostalgia and melancholy added some depth and complexity.
“After writing such a story-driven song, I was excited to take it to my friend and producer Randall Kent to see if he’d be as excited to build it with me as I was to write it – and he was! So, I flew out to Nashville to record and work with Randall. We brought in some excellent players to round it all out. Brian Cox on drums, Regan Akers on bass, and Blake Mohler on pedal steel. It all came together like a dream!
“A notable moment that stands out for me with making this song was when the first few lines came to me. I was on a bike ride with my husband, the first one I had been on in quite a long time, and I was just thinking, ‘Gosh, it’s been a long time since I’ve fallen off one of these.’ With that, the line and the melody, ‘I was just 7 when I skinned my knee’ popped into my head. I went home and wrote the rest of the song that night.”
Do you ever get stage fright? What’s your solution for it?
“I typically get pretty nervous whenever I’m doing something new. These days, as I have more and more to share, many of the opportunities I’m jumping into are brand new to me. The nerves usually show up the day before or night before the show, usually as a result of not really knowing how it’s all going to shake out. When I get to the venue or the space and start to picture it all, the nerves begin to subside. Luckily, at this point in my career, almost as soon as I step onto the stage, the butterflies fly away.
“To combat the anxious feelings, I rely heavily on concentrating on my breathing… Count to four on the inhale, hold for two at the top, count to four on the exhale – and by reminding myself that I’ve been working for many years at this. Thus, I’m prepared for this moment and can fall back on that preparation.
“Sometimes, it won’t be until the middle of the set, mid-song, that I get a good look around and feel those butterflies coming back. Sometimes, my voice gives those butterflies away. That’s when I close my eyes, concentrate on the sound of my voice or guitar, and try to capture the feeling of the song, not the feeling of my own nervousness.
“If you’re someone who struggles with stage fright, I hope it helps to hear that I often repeat to myself, ‘If you have to do it scared, then do it scared.’”
What do you like most about playing music?
“So many things… In terms of writing, I love being able to make something out of nothing and process what I’m feeling or experiencing in a tangible way. In terms of performing, I love being on stage and the entertainment aspect, sharing moments with people through common experiences or feelings. I mean, most of the friends I’ve made as an adult have been through music. That often comes as a result of striking up a conversation before or after a show, quickly finding that we have something in common. The connections and community I’ve found are the reason I keep at this and know that I’m on the right track.”
When you write, do you do so with the live setting in mind? Or do you write a song just for the song’s sake?
“My first draft is often written for the sake of the song – very little editing, very little re-writing. It is written purely to express some feeling, experience, observation, or imaginative scenario. But, as I go back through to check that everything holds up, I start to imagine what it could look like as a live performance on the biggest stage or around the campfire. I don’t audibly ask these questions, but I do try to visualize what it could look like. If this was the biggest song in the world, what would the crowd be doing? How would they interact with this song? Phones light up, swaying back and forth. Dancing, jumping up and down? Repeating after me or singing every word?
“When I revisit a first draft, I think about how I might best convey the feeling of the song. Then how do I best translate that feeling on stage? That might mean committing to playing the song acoustic and by myself. Or it might mean I’ll need the full band behind me. It might mean writing the hook in a way that there’s space for a repeat-after-me section in the performance. Or including some ‘ooohs’ that are easy to sing along to. This can be a helpful exercise for me when double-checking the structure and lyrics of a song.”
What’s next for you?
“I’ve been working for quite some time on getting a whole bunch of songs ready to share. I hope to have an album out by the end of the year! I’m currently doing my best to create meaningful content that can reach new audiences through social media and beyond in hopes of building the community we’ve begun, while also connecting more intentionally with the folks who have been along for the ride for a while. By doing that, I hope to hit the road with some must-have merch within the next year or two to sing these songs in person with the people who most resonate with them.”
Do you have anything you’d like to tell any fans reading right now?
“As Jon Batiste said, ‘a song is made to find a person when they need it the most.’ I sure hope these songs that I’ve got up my sleeve find you. If you’re interested, I’d love to invite you to join me along the journey. Whether you’d like to connect casually through your favourite social media platform, follow me on your favourite listening platform, or get updates from me by subscribing to my website, there are lots of ways that we can keep in touch. That will make it easier for the music to find you. I also know that I could certainly use all the help that I can get along the way. I’ll see you down the road!”
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