Reuben Bidez talks about his forthcoming EP, Something to Say.
On singer-songwriter Reuben Bidez’s upcoming Something to Say EP — due out June 22 — the Atlanta native flirts with folk’s alternative fringe, creating compositions that expand the traditional boundaries of the genre.
Something to Say immediately hooks audiences with the catchy title track before leading them onto a rhythmic rollercoaster that begins with the groovy “Don’t Let Me Die.”
Experimenting with all categories of folk, the album strings together folk melodies that showcase Bidez’s talent. It includes the duet “What You Really Wanted,” featuring vocals from Nashville’s Molly Parden; the Breezy “American Dream”; the gritty rock anthem “Bad Name”; and the slow and dreamy “Desert.”
Recorded in the unconventional music city of Dallas, Something to Say puts a bright spotlight on Bidez’s future as a musician.
We recently caught up with him to talk about the new record.
Cowboys & Indians: What do you hope your fans will get out of Something to Say?
Reuben Bidez: I’m hoping that listeners will hear a different side of me. I’m also branching out sonically into new territory. Something to Say is a bit more raw and unpolished. I also hope that they get a new perspective on what our culture demands of us and where it’s headed.
C&I: What are some memorable stories along the way of getting the EP from concept to actual release?
Bidez: I was on a run of shows and had a night off in New York City. I had just returned to my friend’s apartment for the night when I met one of his friends, Danny Ayer, hanging out talking in the kitchen. We hit it off and started talking about music. Turned out he was a songwriter, too. We agreed that the next time he came to Nashville we would try to write together. We hung out for the rest of the evening and had a crazy time. Months later we sat down at my house in Nashville and wrote “What You Really Wanted.” It always amazes me how paths cross so unexpectedly.
C&I: What was the rest of writing and recording process like? Where did you draw inspiration from?
Bidez: I wrote half the record on my own. I find sometimes you are the only person that knows exactly how you want to say something. However, with the song “What You Really Wanted,” [which] ended up being one of the more personal songs, I actually wrote that one with someone I had never written with before. So, things like that can surprise you. Recording was song by song rather than one instrument at a time. Tracking as a band definitely gave a live feel to the record. As far as sound, there wasn’t a whole lot of targeting a particular sound. I think I just went into it open to hear what the other players brought to the table.
C&I: Are there any specific singers or songwriters that inspired your creative development for Something to Say?
Bidez: Definitely pulled in some Tom Petty and Neil Young, Roy Orbison and Chris Isaak.
C&I: Who are the Texas Gentlemen and how did they influence your EP?
Bidez: I met the Gents a few years back. They were a collective of killer players that worked as a backing band. I saw them play once. They had learned songs for about 20 different people and were just destroying the songs with ease. I was immediately a fan. I got to hang out with Jeff Saenz one year at Pilgrimage Fest just south of Nashville. He had seen me play that day and we started talking about recording together. About a year later, I headed out to Dallas to record.
C&I: Something to Say was largely recorded in Dallas at Modern Electric Sound Recorders. What was that experience like?
Bidez: Well, we had about four days, so we had to get to it. The beautiful thing about Modern Electric is that in their A room, they have everything you need all in the same room. We tracked half the songs all at once as a band. Everyone was in the same room with the exception of me and my acoustic in the control room. But we could all see each other and vibe off each other. We had never all played together before, but after a couple takes we were grooving.
C&I: Are there a lot of differences between recording in Dallas as opposed to a more well-known music town like Nashville or Los Angeles?
Bidez: Yes. There is a different vibe in Dallas. It’s not your typical destination, and I think it has been able to retain its charm. There’s also different influences around there. A lot of blues players made their mark in Deep Ellum. I think I wanted to try something different. I wanted to see what happens when you put Reuben in a different situation. Kind of like when you move a chameleon from one color plant to another. What was gonna happen?
C&I: Something to Say confronts big themes like identity. Was it difficult to put yourself out there in such a personal way?
Bidez: It was. There were some things I said on this EP that I had been scared to speak up about before. For a while, I kept these things to myself while other people spoke up. I think I was still developing what it was I wanted to say. At the same time, I was developing personally. I realized how much of my life was spent doing things I thought others wanted me to do. These songs are a symbol of my development. I have my own voice and my own choices.
C&I: Is there a track that you are most proud of?
Bidez: “Don't Let Me Die.” I’ve never recorded anything that groovy before. That song is the reason I came to Dallas. The players really helped that song come to life in a way that only Texas could pull off.
C&I: Are there any tracks that didn’t make it onto the EP that we can expect on a full album?
Bidez: There was one song that didn’t make it that I could see being recorded in the future. It’s a song called “Fit In.” It definitely fit in — pun intended — with the theme of the EP, but we just couldn’t squeeze it in.
C&I: What can we expect in terms of touring?
Bidez: I have a run of dates at the end of June heading to Lexington, Kentucky; Chicago, Illinois; and Davenport, Iowa. I’ll do a run down in the Southeast, making sure to stop in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. New York is in the works, too.
C&I: Let’s leave our readers with something fans might not know about you. …
Bidez: People often ask if Reuben Bidez is my real name. Well, it is. And not only that, but my full name is Reuben Richard Rene Victor Fuller Bidez. My parents just couldn’t decide.
For more information on Reuben Bidez and the upcoming EP Something to Say, visit his website. Photography: Courtesy Cale Glendening.