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‘Landscapes and storytelling’: Rafael Vigilantics calls new album ‘very Southwestern’

Native New Mexican Rafael Vigilantics is releasing his latest album, “Blue River, Grey Sky,” on Friday, Nov. 13. (Courtesy of Rafael Vigilantics)

It’s been a long time coming for Rafael Vigilantics’ new music.

The New Mexico native is releasing the album “Blue River, Grey Sky” on Friday, Nov. 13.

“It just took a long time because me and the guy I was working with could only get together once a week to work on the album,” he says. “It took about two years. It feels good to have it out.”

The album is largely co-written with producers Noah Harmon, former members of Airborne Toxic Event, and Rian Lewis. It was recorded in Harmon’s LA home and in New Mexico.

While Vigilantics is excited about “Blue River, Grey Sky,” he will also release another album consisting of home recordings.

“I wanted to do another record during the pandemic,” he says. “It happened very quickly.”

He describes “Blue River, Grey Sky” as Southwestern gothic.

Vigilantics was born to a New Mexico folk singer and a father lost to the prison system. He left home at 14. Today, he splits his time between Los Angeles and Silver City.

“I was a loner and an only child,” he recalls. “When I realized you could make music by yourself, I was sold on it. It was my escape and a place I could tell stories.”

Vigilantics mingled with motorcycle gangs, scuffled with the LAPD, worked (and still works) wildfires, and crossed into Mexico to prizefight in derelict pool halls.

“I remember my uncle sneaking me into CBGB’s in the mid-’90s when I was, like, 16 years old, and seeing Jesus Lizard play,” he says. “That raw dangerous energy was so electric to me, more exciting than anything I’d ever really known.”

With his eponymous punk rock clothing brand, Vigilantics toured with Agnostic Front, Ministry, and Koffin Kats.

He watched friends lose their freedom and their lives; he broke hearts and had his broken.

All those experiences pour into the “Blue River, Grey Sky.”

“I’d describe it as headphone music, full of landscapes and storytelling,” Vigilantics says. “Very Southwestern and very influenced by the elements of nature, heartbreak, storms, ships lost at sea.”

Vigilantics says that with this record, he wanted to step away from his story.

“I wanted to start to tell a little bit of other people’s stories,” he says. “I have a song called ‘All the Wrong Men,’ and it’s from the perspective of being a girl. I tried to put myself in the shoes of a woman who has fallen in love with a musician like me. It’s still personal, but through a different lens.”

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