Raindeer's most recent album cover, titled "You Look Smashing." (Photo courtesy of Raindeer's website).Raindeer's most recent album cover, titled "You Look Smashing." (Photo courtesy of Raindeer's website).Casey Marley - Managing Editor

When I think of psychedelic pop, I think of festival headliners like Tame Impala and MGMT. If these bands don’t ring a bell to you, I highly recommend them for the next time you are stressed out and want to listen to some trippy tunes. Indie band, Raindeer, based out of Baltimore, is also a psychedelic pop band, but unlike the two mentioned previously, Raindeer is highly accessible and has its own unique take on modern day trip-pop. Layering synths with actual instruments, Raindeer brings its own take to the laid-back genre with its quirky lyrics and, for the most part, upbeat melodies.

Last week, Kscope spoke to the band’s founder and lead member Charlie Hughes to discuss Raindeer’s sound, new album and their upcoming show in Birmingham.

Tell me a little about Raindeer, how did you guys get started?

“It started out as a solo project as just myself back in 2010, and I released just a little EP that kind of got picked up in the blog world and got spread around. Then I kinda started getting people to play shows with me, which has been a rotating cast over the years. I’ve gone through three different line-ups.”

How did you get from solo artist to band? Do you consider yourself as “Raindeer” or is that exclusively your group?

“It started out just me, I still for the most part write the songs, but with the current line up we collaborate a lot more trying to make it more of a band than just me trying to dictate everything.”

Do you like that dynamic of being in a band more than being a solo artist?

“I feel like it works better of being in the band dynamic, it’s definitely nice to just write everything and make all the rules and everyone follows, but having someone challenging you and your ideas, then ultimately you’ll have better music. Like it’s definitely harder, like you’ll butt heads, but in the end it’s definitely much better.”

What led you to the psychedelic sound and why do you think you got such a positive response from the internet because of your music?

“Well, I’ve been playing in bands for years and years before that, so when Raindeer started it was kind of just, I wanted to do whatever I wanted to do, and that was the spirit behind it. There were no expectations, I was just making music that I liked and I think I made something different, not super original. I was really inspired by bands like Crestwork when I started so that’s why I wanted to do something. I was hoping to do music on my own at shows, but I just started writing stuff that was too hard to play by myself, so that’s why I got the band and that’s just the direction it went in.

“There are so many influences with Raindeer, but some of the top ones I’d say like Granddaddy and Echo and the Bunnymen, and then Joy Division. And also, I get influenced by my friends really. I’ll go to a show that my friends are playing and I’ll see what they are doing and I’ll [think] ‘I like that, I want to put my take on that.’ That’s why I like Baltimore; it feeds into itself and everyone is influencing everyone and inspiring everyone.”

So do you feel like you have more freedom in recording or in live performances?

“Playing live is a lot more fun; recording is very stressful for me. But still, I do it every day. We have a studio where we practice. That’s how [our] songs are written pretty much, putting down one track and then layering it until you have something. But yea, it gets frustrating but it’s also great to sit there and make sure everything is just how you want it, and with live you don’t really get that. “

Is this your first time to Birmingham, and what should show goers expect at the Syndicate Lounge?

“We played the Secret Stages Festival last summer and that was our first time in Alabama, in Birmingham. That was definitely the best show of the tour, so we definitely wanted to come back this time. It’s just honest good music that we’re very behind. I guess you just have to hear it and see if you like it. We’ve been on previous tours, like last winter, I got my guitar stolen, it was during a blizzard, we had to drive 12 hours to Pittsburgh, a horrible day, and I was so depressed, but we got the show and let loose and had fun. No matter what that’s what we’re doing it for. It’s just a party.”


Raindeer will be performing songs off their latest album, “You Look Smashing” along with their previous tracks at the Syndicate Lounge on Jan. 15 at 9 p.m.
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