Interview with Ritt Momney

Evolution is a tricky topic, especially in Utah. And if you were to name your band after the most famous Mormon in the country, you might assume that a lot of controversy would come with it. But local band Ritt Momney hasn’t found that to be the case. Yet.

With that said, it’s impossible to talk about this indie rock/pop group without noticing the transformations they’ve undergone since the band started 3 years ago. Only one original member remains, they have found a new age niche and taken Spotify’s bedroom pop playlists by storm. K-UTE Radio’s Jackson Card and Max Becker sat down with the up and coming group to talk about the creative process, future plans, and life in general. With a California tour coming up and an album in the works, it looks like this could be a breakout year for Ritt Momney.

New Beginnings

The current iteration of Ritt Momney, consisting of Jack Rutter on vocals/guitar/keys, Jonas Torgersen on guitar, Noah Hamula on bass, Auden Winchester on keys, and Sam Olson on drums, has only been together for a couple months. They found each other in classic Small Lake City fashion: childhood connections and high school parties. As Jack put it, “It was just kind of a string of people pulling each other along.”

Their memorable name came up during a jam session but was not borne of any particular feeling for the former presidential candidate. “It was not thought out at all, whatsoever. If we would have known [the band] was going to be this big of a deal, we definitely would have thought it out more. We like to keep it really neutral. We don’t want to be trashing on him or loving him either.” The name seemed a better fit for their initial style but the group doesn’t mind shaking expectations. “I’d rather have an odd fitting band name than a too fitting band name… It gets people talking about us.”

People are Talking

The hype around Ritt Momney has been growing steadily over the past year. They now have 100,000 monthly listeners (per Spotify) and generate more listeners in Los Angeles and Chicago than in Salt Lake City. Their unique blend of classic indie themes and chord structure, electronic production elements, and Jack’s signature croon has led to an explosion of popularity since “Something, in General” hit streaming services in 2018.

Their music takes on an undeniably endearing quality without being trite and it resonates deeply with listeners. That authenticity stems from their personable songwriting process.

Creating a New Sound

After the initial band left in 2018, Jack realized he could craft the band’s sound in a totally different way than before. “I’d gotten better enough at producing so that I could do my own stuff just on my computer at home. It’s so much easier to just use the electronic stuff because I can’t play drums at all but you can quantize it in logic. So that was somewhat convenience but also taste, I guess. I think we all agree the super basic indie rock feel of “Young Adult” and those earlier songs is just straight down the middle of indie rock. I think we all like the newer stuff better. Like more electronic, more experimental stuff.”

For as much credit as the band wants to give him for his brilliant writing, Jack concedes that he couldn’t do it alone. “Sending it to these guys and having them critique it is such a big part of [the process]… [and] the jam sessions kind of bring the songs life, make them different. When we’re trying a bunch of stuff… everybody’s had their input through just jamming together and thinking up parts.”

Art Over Business

The band runs the gambit on influences (from Feist to King Gizzard to James Blake) so the final output is never what you’d expect but it flows together seamlessly. Even at their live shows, the band doesn’t play exactly what’s on Spotify or Soundcloud. “[The music] kind of changes every show honestly just cause something might sound better the day before the show when we’re practicing it and then we put it in. We don’t have the attention spans to just play the same songs over and over. We kind of just want to switch it up for the sake of switching it up.”

Keeping it fresh is a crucial piece of Ritt Momney; in their music and their shows. They don’t want to sacrifice their creative freedom to appease fans or a label. As idealistic as that sounds, maintaining autonomy over their sound is a main priority for Jack, saying, “I think down the road, I definitely don’t want to ever be business over art.” Their sound is still developing and is going to continue to evolve as the group moves out of their teens and the confines of their hometown. Some A&Rs have reached out but the band isn’t ready to enter that stage of the process just yet. They’ve only just begun exploring what Ritt Momney could be and they don’t want to ruin the magic with industry pressure.

Future Plans

The group has plenty on their plate with four California tour dates this month, a South by Southwest performance in March, an opening gig for Death Cab for Cutie this May, and an album set to be released this summer. Jack’s been working on the album for a while but doesn’t want to commit to a release date just yet.

“I need to stop being such a perfectionist about it cause I just spend way too much time like, ‘Oh no, I need to figure this out’ or ‘I don’t like that anymore, I’ll just scrap it.’ So hopefully the rate at which I’m finishing songs will start picking up. I wouldn’t say we have a timeline but definitely this year. 100% this year. Should be before the end of the summer. Like 95% before the end of the summer.”

Ritt Momney has shown their ability to evolve and defy expectations, so however long the wait, I’m sure it will be worth it!

“Assume Form” Album Review

James Blake has a way of going beyond the senses, creating not just a soundscape, but a pathos that is astoundingly hard to put into words. He floats between what can be heard and what can be felt in a way that very few musicians can. His newest offering, Assume Form, does just as it says. This album is not privy to the emotional impulses of James’s consciousness. It was not written purely of his expression or to meet his fans in the sea of emotion that is so hard to articulate and navigate. It is written for someone to understand and to begin a conversation. He wrote a love letter instead of his normal journal entry and it comes across as his most accessible and clear cut work to date.

Blake’s Past Work

For ten years, James Blake has been at the forefront of experimental pop music, blending an amalgamation of genres that would take too long to list. His musical thoughts and textures are incredibly unique. He has found a trademark sound defined by sparse, yet rich instrumentation that he continually pushes boundaries with. On his last full length release, The Colour in Anything, his approach was more fragmented and yearning. He seemed to be calling out for help, or attention, or to feel heard. In the back half of the tracklisting, he finds what he is looking for. So what does an artist do when he finally captures what he’s been chasing?

As opposed to an ending, his achievement starts him on a new journey. This is evident on “Meet You in the Maze”, the final cut of The Colour in Anything. James delves into discovering happiness in himself, finding solace in the maze of his mind and its intersections with reality. There is nothing more comforting than finding someone to take that journey of self discovery with you and we watch that process of exploration and teamwork unfold on Assume Form.

A New Journey

On the title track, he makes his intentions explicit: “I will assume form, I’ll be out of my head this time/I will be touchable by her, I will be reachable.” This is an audacious goal for someone often lost in clouds. I think he succeeds in this regard. His characteristically sparse and glitchy production is as strong as it’s ever been on Assume Form. But everything about this LP, from the song structure, to the lyrics, to the passion behind his words, seems decrypted. Hitting that target of accessibility is never easy but in doing so, did James give up some of the uniqueness in his sound?

Personally, I think he did. This album is very solid all the way through and he does have some tracks that push sonic and topical boundaries, e.g., “Tell Them”, “Barefoot in the Park”, “Can’t Believe the Way We Flow”, “Where’s the Catch?”, and “Don’t Miss It”. His features, other than Travis Scott, all lived up to their potential; Rosalía‘s performance on “Barefoot in the Park” is particularly memorable. But for the most part, Assume Form does not give as much to sink one’s teeth into relative to his previous releases. I have found a lot of replay-ability in the track, “Are You in Love?”, and “I’ll Come Too” but not the same complexity I am used to in his music.

I am curious to see if this idea changes for me over time but as it stands, this is Mr. Blake’s most consistent project and also his safest. Unfortunately, he set the bar quite high for himself with his previous work. I do not see Assume Form as a misstep by any means, with some amazing songs mixed in the tracklist. But with that said, I hope to see a return to more abstract thoughts and sounds in his next effort.

7.8/10

What’s On My Playlist? #3

There are certain songs that you can never get enough of. We listen to them over and over till we have every minor detail memorized. These are a couple of my favorite songs that I have been listening to recently.

“I Need A Forest Fire” by James Blake, Bon Iver

“I Need A Forest Fire” was released in May of last year on James Blake’s album The Colour in Anything. Blake teams up with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver on this heart-wrencher. Their similar music styles yet distinct voices mix perfectly providing an interesting texture. A loop-pedal, electric drums, and a synth are all these musicians need as they plead for a forest fire, a restart.

“Tap Water Drinking” by Lewis Del Mar

Lewis Del Mar is an experimental rock duo from NYC. They combine simple, often single note, acoustic guitar melodies with heavy distortion, electronic beats, and Danny Miller’s spoken word style lyrics. “Tap Water Drinking” is about a sexual relationship between two people. The song starts off innocent and simple but soon grows darker, heavier, and more distorted. This symbolizes how relationships sometimes get out of hand and become destructive.

“Rattlesnake” by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

“Rattlesnake” is the psychedelic rock band’s 8-minute opening song to their album Flying Microtonal Banana. This song and album use modded guitars as they explore the world of microtonal tuning. “Rattlesnake” takes you into the desert where the familiar rattle is lurking around every corner. Don’t get lost because the serpent is always there waiting to strike.

“Carin at the Liquor Store” by The National

Released earlier this year, “Carin at the Liquor Store” is another National song that hits you deep down. The namesake of the song is lead singer Matt Berninger‘s wife, Carin. An elegant piano melody accompanies Berninger singing in his unmistakable baritone, “blame it on me.” By the time the guitar solo comes you’re already in tears. What more can you ask for from music?

“Oceans” by Seafret

It’s been said that all you need is a guitar, 3 chords, and the truth. This indie-folk duo from the U.K. doesn’t use much more than that on their 2016 track “Oceans”. Sounds of crashing waves and dripping water fill the background. Vocalist Jack Sedman sings, “I want you… but it feels like there’s oceans between you and me.” This song tells us that love is complicated and sometimes it doesn’t work how we imagine.

“Dissolve” by Private Island

The indie-rock band from Southern California delivers wonders on this jam. A fantastic guitar melody reals you in, and the passionate vocals seal the deal. The lyrics tell the story of an ending relationship. They sing, “take me back now,” and “when they say your name, they can watch me, watch them, watch me dissolve.”

“Sun in Your Eyes” by Grizzly Bear

“Sun in Your Eyes” is the last song on the psychedelic folk album Shields (2012). The song slowly builds 3 different times with subtle repetition and slight variance. Each time it gets bigger and better. The lyrics, “I’m never coming back”, are repeated multiple times. By the end of the song, you’ll be asking yourself if you can ever go back to who you were before it began.