|Origin||San Diego, California, U.S.|
|Genres||Psychedelic folk, Alternative Country|
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. 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. 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.
Ray Raposa (b. 1981 Raymond Byron Magic Raposa) was born in Michigan City, Indiana. He moved to San Diego at the age of two and grew up in the Mission Beach area. At the age of 13 he and his mother moved to Baja while being 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. In his late teens, Raposa became involved in the free-jazz project Womb that released a self-titled album (2004) recorded in 2001. In 2003 he appeared on the Liz Janes live EP Liz Janes And The Three Hour Choir, recorded locally.
While performing with others, Raposa had begun to develop his own musical interests. Together with Nathan Delffs, he recorded an number of CD-Rs, one of them entitled What Kind of Cure (2002). While on tour with the band Howard Hello, Raposta began working with Liz Janes, whose was already signed to Asthmatic Kitty at the time. 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 release in October 2004. It was followed by an instrumental 12" that was split with the duo I Heart Lung. Around the same Raposa moved to Brooklyn to pursue music together with Stevens while working in a record store.
In October 2005, the band released First Light's Freeze, which was largely constructed by Raposa together with Stevens and engineer Rafter Roberts. Prior to the release of the album In the Vines in 2007, Raposa was held at gunpoint in Bed-Stuy.
The instrumental album City of Refuge was recorded in the Nevada desert town of Overton and released in 2007. 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'. However, failing equipment forced him to temporarily return to San Diego where he completed the album together with Rafter with contributions by Jason Crane, Pall Jenkins, Andy Robillard and DM Stith.
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. 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'.
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'. 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'.
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. In September 2012 Raposa released the album Little Death Shaker under the name Raymond Byron and the White Freighter, which explored similar themes while using the same collaborators as the preceding albums.
- Cathedral (2004 Asthmatic Kitty)
- First Light's Freeze (2005 Asthmatic Kitty)
- In The Vines (2007 Asthmatic Kitty)
- City of Refuge (2008 Asthmatic Kitty)
- Texas Rose, the Thaw, and the Beasts (2009 Asthmatic Kitty)
- Little Death Shaker (under the name Raymond Byron and the White Freighter) (2012 Asthmatic Kitty)
- Decimation Blues (2014 Asthmatic Kitty)
- Self-titled with I Heart Lung 12" (2005 Sounds Are Active)
- Unusual Animals Vol. 2 with Dirty Projectors 10" (2006 Asthmatic Kitty)
- Tour EP with Shapes and Sizes (2007 Asthmatic Kitty)
- "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)
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- Zach, David (October 6, 2009). "Running with the Beasts: An Interview with Castanets". popmatters.com. Popmatters Media Inc.
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- Hogan, Marc (December 21, 2012). "Hear Castanets Offshoot Raymond Byron’s Dystopian-Folk ‘To Look Over the Ground’". spin.com. SpinMedia Group. Retrieved 2015-08-13.
- Leggett, Steve. "Raymond Raposa". allmusic.com. All Media Network LLC. Retrieved 2015-08-13.