Ray Raposa first caught my attention with Cathedral, the 2004 album from his band Castanets. Since then, he’s made harrowing, sometimes blissful music over a number of albums, all of it smart, visceral, and philosophically illuminating. Raymond Byron and the White Freighter is his latest project; Little Death Shaker, just released on Asthmatic Kitty, is their debut — it shows off a looser, more feedback-heavy side of Raposa’s songwriting. We caught up via email to discuss the state of his assorted projects (and to see what became of the novel he was working on around the time of Cathedral).


Now that you’ve released this album, I was curious — do you have a sense now of whether a song will be a White Freighter song versus a Castanets song when you write it?
Somewhat, yes. Although more in an album to album sense and allowing a little wiggle room for overlap. The next record will be as Raymond Byron solo while the majority of the Freighter men are out elsewhere in the world. Between those two outlets and the ability to jump from one to the other as the season decrees I feel able to lay Castanets down for a few years at least.

Your poem “August at Sea Level” recently appeared on Impose. Have you been working on other poetry or prose as well?
More so than in my twenties and with a more fulfilling yield.

Did the novel that you were working on around the time of Cathedral ever turn into anything — whether prose or the root for future songs?
It was a good exercise at the time, got the wrists limber and kept some things moving around, but I was definitely in a bit over my head. Told this story a few times before but I lost the roughs of that (and everything else I owned) in a storage auction after some delinquent bills. Don’t much miss being able to revisit it, but I’d like some of those skateboards back.

Where did the “White Freighter” name come from?
A handful of bad Black Freighter dreams.

What have you been reading lately?
Pete Dexter’s’ Paris Trout. East of Eden. Stephen Elliott. Charles Nicholl’s Somebody Else.

Photo: Kat Gardiner

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