“I saw in her eyes that she was a writer and there were stories within.”
Rayographs have carved out their own distinctive sound which taps into a dark shimmering psychedelia: blue like petrol, kaleidoscopic with flecks of colour throughout. The songs have an odd timeless quality that yearn for absent cinematic visuals. Swooping, atmospheric vocals, stream-of-consciousness vignettes encased in 60s garage hooks.
Rayographs are Astrud Steehouder (guitar/ vocals), Jessamine Tierney (bass/ vocals) and Amy Hurst (drums/ occasional vocals). The band was born one ultra hot summer in Amy’s bedroom, amidst the bare bones of a handful of blues-inflected songs written on an acoustic guitar. As the sound developed, and the interweaving melodic bass lines, spatial thundering drums and waves of dark surf guitar were added, the songs have managed to retain a simplicity and subtlety that evokes a pure confidence in the strength of the songwriting, and in turn creates a space to be inhabited by a brooding, potent imagination.
November 2008 saw the release of their sold-out debut ‘Hidden Doors'; a limited-edition hand-printed 7″ single that was made single of the week by Organ, Normans Records and Piccadilly Records, with excellent reviews from Artrocker and The Stool Pigeon, who described it as “a simmering blues tattoo enunciated like a hex and sharing not a little in common with Nick Cave’s ‘Tupelo'”, while US site Stereogum heralded them as a band to watch, likening them to “Grace Slick working with The Breeders”.
They released their second, highly acclaimed, limited edition 7″ ‘Francis’ in July 2009, which was once again made record of the week by Piccadilly Records, appeared as a featured release on US iTunes and editors’ playlists, including Rockfeedback, Stereogum and Rolling Stone. The record was frequently compared to the Pixies and early PJ Harvey, cementing their reputation as one of London’s most promising bands, merging incisive observational narratives with pummeling garage riffs.
In between Rayographs travelled to Paris and other faraway lands, playing a host of mesmeric live shows including Offset Festival, as well as contributing to the odd independent film score.
A heady and eclectic mix of sonic, visual, and literary influences contribute to the Rayographs’ sound, notably The Pixies, David Lynch, 60s Psychedelia, Can, Angelo Badalamenti, Patti Smith, Francesca Woodman, Shellac, Nick Cave, Derek Jarman, Raymond Carver and Eugene O’Neill. This melting pot of ideas has resulted in a sound rich in imagination with a blues tinge, that has become galvanised in studios and on stage, quietly and carefully honing their craft to produce a body of work that is uniquely their own.
Their name comes from Man Ray’s eponymous method of surrealist photography where an item is placed directly onto the paper without the use of a negative, often involving strange juxtapositions of objects. The images created are at once ethereal, stark and beautiful – qualities which could easily be ascribed to the Rayographs’ songs.