Raye Zaragoza,
The TVD First Date

“I grew up with CDs. I grew up with big pink headphones in the late ’90s, early 2000s in a New York City that was still very welcoming and accessible to artists.”

“My headphones were always on. The Beatles, Elliott Smith, Led Zeppelin, Queen… was the soundtrack to my adolescence. I remember getting a Walkman for Christmas when I was 8 or 9. I listened to Jewel and Avril Lavigne mostly in those days. In middle school, my best friend Kalina and I used to swap CDs. I would lay down in bed and listen to Led Zeppelin songs that I had never heard before. I remember the first day we listened to “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. With our headphones on, dancing down the hallways of our middle school. Music made us feel unstoppable. It made us feel heard. Made us feel unique. We wore band T-shirts almost everyday to school, and wore ties and jeans under our dresses like Avril Lavigne. Music was everything.

When I was 11 years old, I fell in love flat on my face for the kid who played guitar in our class. He was cool, was also always listening to music, and would play guitar solos on the playground during lunch. He was everything that I wanted in my life at the time, and I made it known. I even started playing guitar to get his attention.

He used to make me mix CDs. Songs that took me to a whole new place. He had headphones that must have cost over $100 and they were ‘noise canceling.’ I had never heard of this before, and I was very excited. We used to take the bus an hour from the city to his parents house upstate. He would put the expensive ‘noise canceling’ headphones on my ears and play Elliott Smith songs during the bus ride. We only had one set of headphones, so he would just watch for my reactions during every song. I would look out the window, and see the city leave us as Elliott Smith sang “the city’s been bled white.”

He was the first person who ever played me a song on vinyl. He had just purchased Radical Face’s Ghost on vinyl and couldn’t wait to play me the first song. I said, “Aren’t those things old? Why are you going to play it on that?” He said, “It sounds way better. Just trust me.” We laid down on the floor and listened to the first track “Asleep on a Train.” I could feel myself lost in the song. Like I was a child again, laying in the backseat of my Dad’s car as he drove down the westside highway. I felt like I could feel every note resonate through my whole soul.

“It does sound better,” I said. And then, the next song came on, “Welcome Home, Son.” To this day, this is my favorite song of all time. Something about this song, something about the first time I heard it.. has stuck with me for over a decade. I remember fighting back tears as the song played and we laid on the floor. And I remember thinking that vinyl was, by far, the coolest thing ever.

Vinyl has a way of transcending you—taking you back to a moment or memory. It makes you feel like the musicians are in the room playing for you. I would listen to vinyl and think about how I wanted to write a song that would transcend someone—bring someone back to a place in time.

When I listen to “Welcome Home, Son” or “Asleep on a Train” on my turntable, I feel like I am twelve again. I can remember the cold New York winter out the window, the carpet beneath my socks, and the way the ceiling looked as the song played. Over the years, I started to collect records myself. My collection grew every Sunday in high school when I would search through crates at the local flea market. Now in my mid twenties, I still have that box of records.

Whenever I can, I put on a record, lay on the floor and remember what it was like to be young, innocent, and just at the beginning of my love affair with music.”
Raye Zaragoza

Raye Zaragoza’s debut album, Fight For You is in stores now.

Raye Zaragoza Official | Facebook | Twitter
PHOTO: URSULA VARI

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