INTERVIEW: Austin’s Folk-Punk Storyteller Ricky Mendoza

Stream “Lauve” on Spotify

Hi Ricky, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I’ve been doing amazing. Woke up today healthy and alive and insanely grateful for the day and to share my energy with you.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Lauve”?

Absolutely! It’s been 5 years since my last release and Lauve is the first single to promote my new album The New Hurt. The lyrics talk about blood and butterfly juices but it’s a love song at heart.

If you’ve had your heart stepped on by a person that you’ve loved, then you’ll relate to the song from both perspectives. On one hand, there’s a person that will not trust to love. And the other perspective is that voice that says, “Burn all these hurts and stick them in the sand, pour your emotions onto me.” 

It’s f’n hard to let go and just love someone. It’s easier to protect your heart and shield it from the world, but there’s no joy in that. Fear can grip the shit out of us and suck us dry until we are left with a “safe life.” That “safe life” scares the living crap out of me and I prefer to take the risk and put my heart out there. I will get hurt and I will lose, but the rewards are immense and the scars on my heart make for great songs.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Yes, but it’s so damn hokey and cliche that I’d rather take it to my grave.

The single comes off your new album The New Hurt – what’s the story behind the title?

Any person that you love is a source for immense joy and immense pain. And when a new love relationship bubbles up in your life, it is a “new hurt” in your life. It fills me with an abysmal sadness to even imagine something happening to my loved one. And whenever I do think about that, it reminds me to really appreciate the present and enjoy the moments with my loved ones… It sounds super corny… but it’s how I feel and it’s way better than naming the album, The New Love!

How was the recording and writing process? 

I decided to record in my own studio and do all of the instrumentation myself. It takes a bit more work, but this album is a very personal album. I had fun experimenting with strange sounds and weird instruments that you might not hear in a regular “folk-punk” album. 

There’s accordions, trumpets, thunder-makers and other weird sounds that found their way into the songs. But somehow it all fits and comes together as one. The album was made to be listened to in one fell swoop. 32 minutes of non-stop emotion.

What role does Austin play in your music?

Austin is the self-proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World” and it does live up to the hype. But most importantly it gives musicians tons of venues to perform and mingle with a large pool of other musicians. The environment helps tremendously, and it gives me opportunities that would be hard to find in other cities that I’ve lived in.

What aspect of love and loss did you get to explore on this record?

At the end of the day, love and hurt are the main drivers of the whole album. On one hand we have the song The Cycle of Life and Death, which talks about loved ones lost and how their memories are now a part of us, and the song Road to Define, which talks about the journey of loving myself. All in all, the album is a collection of short stories that talk about loving and losing.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I am constantly writing poetry about my life experiences. To me they’re like my surreal diary of my life. Life is boring but I insist on trying to make it as magical as possible.

Maybe I am delusional, but I really believe that we are magical beings with unexplainable powers and I try to tell the stories from that perspective. Sometimes we feel powerless and the songs attempt to shift back power to us by viewing it from another perspective. For example, the closing song, “I Just Died,” has immensely sad lyrics that see the world from the perspective of a dying person but somehow the music makes it uplifting and kind of hopeful. That’s the power of music that I want to tap into. Music gives me a lot of joy and magic in my life and it’s a lot of fun to actually attempt to make magic for myself.

At the end of the day, all of the songs that I make are made for my personal joy. I decide to share them with an audience because I want to share that joy with you, the listener, and I hope that comes through when listening and adds a lot of value to your ears.

What else is happening next in Ricky Mendoza’s world?

Now that I have my dream recording studio setup I plan to make and deliver a lot more songs, a lot more often. No more long hiatuses. 

Another thing that excites me is getting a full band together and playing live shows. I’ve never had a band (I’ve been a solo-acoustic show) and I’d love to build a more lush, live experience. The new songs have more complex instrumentation and I’d love to perform them and give the audience a unique storytelling experience.

Stream “Lauve” on Spotify

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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