Home » News » Articles » Interview with Easy Comes Home
Lots of new musicians start out with a track or two, but Easy Comes Home, lead by funk/disco producer and bassist Christian Ragland and including Mr. Shellfish, John Seaman, Dakhari Brantley and Tony Ashley, come in full-blast with their 2019 EP Bury Me—and so that’s exactly how I wanted to meet Christian in our e-mail chat during the 2nd week of January 2020.
Jane: Unlike many new musicians submitting to playlists like musicto, you’ve gone all-in with a 5-song EP rather than ease in with one single at a time. Why? What’s the benefit over getting a single song out there
Christian: I think the EP came simply because I had a decent amount of songs on my hard drive that I liked. I try to listen to a lot of different genres and I want my music to reflect my listening habits. I’ll really take from anything that inspires me, so my process usually leaves me with a wide variety of songs and styles. I would feel a bit like I’m betraying my style if I only released one song; that’s just not how I think, and it wouldn’t be an accurate depiction of who I am as a musician. I’ll admit that’s maybe not the best business model in the era of streaming where musicians are constantly pressured to pigeonhole themselves into a genre to fit a playlist or a market, but I figure it's alright if not all my songs are for everybody.
And this EP is a seriously eclectic mix. I love it for the experimentation alone. I was a film major, and my friends and I used to do a lot of experimenting with film forms in University.
You’re a pre-law student, your drummer and horns players are jazz majors at Florida State University College of Music, and you have some different vocalists on your EP. I notice that Mr. Shellfish was previously a featured artist, but now you’re getting out there and playing venues and describing Mr. Shellfish as your vocalist. Are you solidifying your line-up and form or do you intend to keep experimenting?
Well, I think experimentation is necessary if you want to keep pushing yourself and expanding your sound. I really admire musicians who are able to keep releasing music that sounds new yet still uniquely like them. So that’s really the goal now: to keep a consistent sound while constantly pulling from diverse influences.
In rehearsals, we’ve played anything from R&B to flamenco and everything in between. It keeps our minds fresh and I hope adding these sounds to our sets will increasingly keep audiences interested.
In terms of the lineup, I think we’re set now. We used to play as Jackson Bluff and I used Easy Comes Home as my solo project, but we solidified ourselves as Easy Comes Home and play everyone’s music in our sets. Cam (Mr. Shellfish) is dedicated to being the vocalist for this project, though he’s maintaining his solo work on the side. His songs are often a bit more electronic than ours, so it’s a nice challenge to translate his tracks to a live band setting. When it works, it gives his fans a chance to hear his songs in a new setting and style.
Oh, and speaking of film; our keyboardist, Tony, is also a film major. I’ll be working with him on the score to his thesis in the next few months, which is an exciting new project.
That’s fantastic and definitely exciting! I always loved working with friends. Still do. And by the way, your first show together [on Friday, January 10], how did that it go for you?
The show went well! We had a pretty big turnout, full of really supportive and excited people. I also think we learned a lot about our energy flow and how our songs fit in with each other. Playing a house show is always great because it's the most forgiving environment where you can test out new material. We even improvised a new song when they asked for an encore, and I think it might have been a crowd favorite.
Where are you playing next?
We’ve got some shows we’re really excited about in the next few months. There will be some at bars around town, show venues, a few more houses. We’ll also be doing a live set on FSU’s college radio station, WVFS Tallahassee, which will be posted on their YouTube channel.
I want to dive a bit deeper into Bury Me, because that’s the song you submitted to my playlist. Why disco? I love the funk beat and I also adore those surprising disco synths—and that siren sound reminds me of some disco or dance show or movie I watched back in the day. What draws you to disco, because the moment I heard that disco was dead as a kid, I tried to totally distance myself. At least publicly.
I personally don’t think disco ever died. It’s just naturally irresistible and makes people want to dance, which is why the “four to the floor” beat has survived in pop and club music to this day. I’ve always known that I want my music to be fun, and nothing is more fun than disco. So, in 2018, I started to hear a few bands like Cobra Man bringing it back, which is what immediately piqued my interest. I had just bought a bass, so I was naturally drawn to the funky stuff. Then I heard “Mind Playin’ Tricks” by JMSN and everything changed. That song has it all, including a great Bee Gees style hook. So I was just listening to that track any time I was working on Bury Me.
And the cowbell. I love cowbell! So 70s. Did you ever see that SNL sketch with Christopher Walken?
I’m glad you like it! I think the cowbell is a lot of fun and certainly the only cure to the fever I have. That’s a legendary moment for musical comedy.
I get, or at least I like to think I get that the shout out at the end of the song, “Are you listening?” is meant to be a message to the woman addressed in the lyrics, but the seamless transition into the DJ? It felt like a powerful statement. To me, it harkens back to the era of powerful radio DJs, but is also reminiscent of those moments when making a playlist off of the radio, when you couldn’t click your tape recorder fast enough to separate the song from the DJ.
The DJ thing was really just a joke that came about because we were goofing off in the studio and speaking to each other with British accents. Cam (Mr. Shellfish) is a vocalist, so he’s naturally good with impressions and things like that. I recorded him saying those lines over the music because I thought it fit with the old-school style of the song. I’m also a DJ at FSU’s college radio, so DJ-ing and radio will also be an important part of the musical experience for me. I guess I’m not sure why Cam said what he said. He usually handles the lyrics, I just do the music. And he can be pretty mysterious about what he means.
I guess I’ll have to ask Mr. Shellfish about it, then.
One last multi-question, though. Why did you choose the musicto label to submit this song as a new artist, and what were your expectations as an artist when you submitted your song?
I did a lot of searching online for places to get my music out prior to the release of Bury Me. I love feedback and appreciate hearing what people think of my music, whether it be good or bad. When I saw “Music to Play in Your Vintage Mustang” I thought that Bury Me was made for this submission. I was just hoping someone would respond, so I was thrilled when you got back to me about doing an interview. I definitely appreciate the fact that you took the time to listen to my music and help get the word out.
Thanks so much for submitting it, Christian!
Easy Comes Home have an awesome BTS video on YouTube, and of course you can hear them on my Music to Play in Your Vintage Mustang playlist on Spotify and other streaming services. Don’t forget to follow the band on Twitter and Instagram to find out what they’re up to next!
When my mother wasn’t walking around the house belting out early 60s’ girl-band lyrics, she was collecting compilation albums, specifically from K-Tel. She may not have had the most refined taste, but she enjoyed variety, or at least that’s what I recall. I poured over them all, preferring some sounds to others. And when I found the perfect song, I’d play it over and over until ready to perform my latest theatrical dance incarnation.
With my family all gathered on floral grey sofas in our basement apartment, I’d set the vinyl on the turntable of a brown fibreboard stereo and not-so-carefully lower the needle. It would pop, screech, and crackle before any music spilled from the weaved-wheat speakers. My toes would press, lift, and sweep through the blue-green shag carpet, my arms would flail, and the music would bass and treble through my soul.
I’m no longer that 6-year-old doing private-audience interpretive dance routines, but my passion remains just as intense. I have no special superpowers as a curator — just my love of sounds and lyrics that transport, transform, move, and make your body groove.
16 January 2021
I slip out of bed, stagger in the dark, bounce off the door frame to my office, power-up my laptop, stumble to the kitchen, turn on the coffee machine, quickly turn it off, grab a mug from the cupboard, try again.
As much as I’d love to be the kind of person who wakes up beating my chest and singing PJ Harvey’s “Me Jane” to start the day, all I’ve got to motivate me this morning is, “Ahh, coffee.” Which is more than most mornings, at least.
24 November 2020
“Alternative music is a bit vague,” Adam says.
“Embodies the spirit of alternative?” I ask. This is the first time I’ve been able to meet up with both of my fellow expat friends since the pandemic began.
“Grunge?” Lauren pulls a duck face.
Ghosts of music past aside, genres in almost any media are easy to define, but alternative? Even the Grammy organization has changed the definition a half dozen times since 1991, “as recently as last year,”…
10 November 2020
“4-Track Demos,” my friend Adam — who used to be semi-obsessed with PJ Harvey — says.
“Yep,” Lauren agrees. “4-Track.”
I’m trying to remember the first PJ Harvey album I ever owned and make the mistake of saying it only included three or four tracks, but 4-Track Demos was released in 1993 and this isn’t it…