Castanets (band)

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Origin San Diego, California, U.S.
Genres Psychedelic folk, alternative country
Years active 2002-present
Labels Asthmatic Kitty
Associated acts Womb
Members Raymond Raposa

Castanets is the musical project influenced by country, folk and experimental rock led by Ray Raposa who has been signed to Asthmatic Kitty Records since 2004.[1] He has released seven albums, most recently Decimation Blues in 2014. Additionally, he participated in a number of split 7" singles and an EP with the likes of Shapes and Sizes and Dirty Projectors.[2] While Raposa is the only constant member of the band, his records and live performances feature a rotating cast of musicians. A San Diego native, Raposa has lived in Brooklyn and currently resides in Portland, Oregon.[3]


Ray Raposa (b. 1981 Raymond Byron Magic Raposa)[4] was born in Michigan City, Indiana.[5] He moved to San Diego at the age of two and grew up in the Mission Beach area.[5] At the age of 13 he and his mother moved to Baja where he was home-schooled for a year. Raposa left school at the age of 15 and traveled around North America and St. Croix doing odd-jobs. He worked as a surf instructor for some time.[6] In his late teens, Raposa became involved in the free-jazz project Womb that recorded a self-titled album in 2001, which was released in 2004.[7] In 2003 he appeared on the Liz Janes live EP Liz Janes And The Three Hour Choir.[8]

While performing with others, Raposa had begun to develop his own musical interests. Together with Nathan Delffs, he recorded a number of CD-Rs, one of them entitled What Kind of Cure (2002).[4] While on tour with the band Howard Hello, Raposta began working with Liz Janes, whose was already signed to Asthmatic Kitty at the time.[5] The What Kind of Cure album was put forwarded to Sufjan Stevens who signed Rapose to the label. Instead of re-recording What Kind of Cure, it was decided to record new material for what became the Cathedral album, that appeared in October 2004.[1][3] It was followed by an instrumental 12" that was split with the duo I Heart Lung.[3] In the same year, Raposa moved to Brooklyn to pursue music together with Stevens while working in a record store.[6]

In October 2005, the band released First Light's Freeze, which was largely constructed by Raposa together with Stevens and engineer Rafter Roberts.[3][9] In 2007, he released the album In the Vines that was described as indie rock.[10] During the recording of the album, Raposa was held at gunpoint in Bed-Stuy prompting him to leave the city.[11]

The instrumental album City of Refuge was recorded in the Nevada desert town of Overton and released in 2007.[12][13] Before beginning the recording of the fifth album Texas Rose, the Thaw, and the Beasts Raposa left New York and moved to Portland. He explained that half of the material was written 'on piano which I had never done before. I get a lot more pleasure out of it than playing guitar'.[11] However, failing equipment forced him to temporarily return to San Diego where he and Rafter completed the album together with contributions by Jason Crane, Pall Jenkins, Andy Robillard and DM Stith.[11] He toured Europe in support of the release.[14]

Raposa's touring band has included singer-songwriters Jana Hunter and Red Hunter (aka Peter and the Wolf).[15]

Raposa's most recent record, Decimation Blues, was released in 2014 by the Asthmatic Kitty label.[16]


Castanets were one of the more prominent proponents of the so-called freak folk movement (also known as psychedelic folk and New Weird America) that took place in the U.S. music scene in 2003-04.[5][14] On performing live, Raposa noted that 'I guess it kind of depends on the mood that I’m in as far as how many people I want to bring out, or the way that I feel about presenting certain things at certain times kind of dictates who is playing and how many of them'.[3]


The name of the band does not refer to Raposa's Hispanic heritage, instead he insisted that it was 'a complete accident. And a complete mistake'.[4] The band had a tour with Howard Hello and Lazarus booked and What Kind of Cure had appeared on CD-R while a name had not been decided upon. According to Raposa 'I think that…possibly…[Nathan’s] mom might have suggested it'.[4]

Side projects[edit]

In 2011 Raposa collaborated with Steven to score the documentary film Beyond This Place by Kaleo La Belle. They performed the songs live during a screening of the film on four occasions in October 2011. The title track featured Vesper.[17] In September 2012 Raposa released the album Little Death Shaker under the name Raymond Byron and the White Freighter,[18] which explored similar themes while using the same collaborators as the preceding albums.[19] Other than that, the song "You are the blood" (2006) was also featured in the end titles of the famous video game "Hotline Miami 2".





  • "Insound 7" Box Series Volume Four" Castanets / Wooden Wand (2006 Insound)
  • "Strong Animal" 7" (2008 Asthmatic Kitty)
  • "I'm No Stranger To The Rain" 7" (2012 Wool Recordings)


  1. ^ a b Phares, Heather. "Castanets". All Media Network, LLC. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  2. ^ Listing of Castanets releases on, accessed August 7, 2015
  3. ^ a b c d e Ellis-Brown, Nathan (November 1, 2005). "Castanets". Left Hip. Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  4. ^ a b c d Muzquiz, Rochelle (October 20, 2011). "Ray Raposa to Perform Live Film Soundtrack with Sufjan Stevens - The Vinyl District". Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  5. ^ a b c d Petrusich, Amanda (January 12, 2005). "Interviews: Castanets". Pitchfork Media Inc. Retrieved 2015-06-24.
  6. ^ a b (editor), Brandon (May 30, 2007). "Quit Your Day Job: Castanets - Stereogum". SpinMedia. Retrieved 2015-06-24.
  7. ^ Listing for the Womb album on, accessed August 7, 2015.
  8. ^ "Liz Janes - Liz Janes And The Three Hour Choir". Discogs. Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  9. ^ "Castanets - First Light's Freeze". Discogs. Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  10. ^ "Castanets: In the Vines". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  11. ^ a b c Zach, David (October 6, 2009). "Running with the Beasts: An Interview with Castanets". Popmatters Media Inc.
  12. ^ Harris, David (December 2, 2008). "Interview: Raymond Raposa of Castanets". Retrieved 2015-08-12.
  13. ^ Hooker, William (January 23, 2009). "Interview:Castanets". ForASong Media LLC.
  14. ^ a b "Ray Raposa of Castanets – interview | The Smallest Room". Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  15. ^ "Jana Hunter". All Tomorrow's Parties. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  16. ^ "Castanets". Retrieved 2015-06-24.
  17. ^ Battan, Carrie (October 12, 2011). "Sufjan Stevens Announces More Soundtrack Performances, Shares Track". Pitchfork Media Inc. Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  18. ^ Hogan, Marc (December 21, 2012). "Hear Castanets Offshoot Raymond Byron's Dystopian-Folk 'To Look Over the Ground'". SpinMedia Group. Retrieved 2015-08-13.
  19. ^ Leggett, Steve. "Raymond Raposa". All Media Network LLC. Retrieved 2015-08-13.

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