Written by Melanie McKinley
With over 5,000 miles between us, eight hours of time difference and two conflicting accents, I was speaking with one half of leaving richmond, Jordan Pier, for the very first time. I had just been introduced to the music of atmospheric, rock instrumental band.
Jordan Pier made the 3,000 mile trip to Los Angeles, leaving behind Richmond Hill, New York to broaden his horizons and embark on a music adventure. Initially contemplating if instrumental music was at all viable in today’s music industry, Jordan decided that if he was going to be a musician, he would be the musician he really wanted to be: “I said, you know what, it’s an uphill battle to do this anyway, so you might as well follow your heart.’ Jordan’s brother introduced him to Adam Sanborne, an experienced composer, engineer and soundtrack writer for television and independent films: “Adam had a long background of composition; he was a great soundtrack writer for television and some independent films and he also owns his own publishing company. Adam took Jordan under his wing and guided him as they began to write and produce together. With this, Jordan had found the other half of leaving richmond.
leaving richmond has so far released two EP’s: The Secret Traditions of Washington Avenue and The Bird And The Submarine, with their third, Human Minds, Robot Hearts, due for release later this year. Jordan and Adam have enjoyed exceptional feedback across a wide spectrum including music fans, reviewers, bloggers and radio stations. When it comes to the prospect of fame, the only part that really appeals to Jordan is knowing he will entice a larger audience and be able to share more of his music with the rest of the world. “Someone told me a long time ago, create for the sake of creating and then you’ll truly be an artist. And that is why I do what I do: because I feel like I have to.”
When I first listened to leaving richmond, I went in blind; I had done no research. I wanted to go in with no predetermined ideas, for the music to narrate my initial thoughts on this band. Needless to say, I was surprised by the lack of vocals and instead found myself lost in the numerous instruments and the intricacy of the sound. This turned out to be exactly what Jordan had hoped for: “I don’t have to leave room or sacrifice parts within the song for vocals, I find it very liberating!”.
The cinematic nature of leaving richmond’s thought-provoking music makes Los Angeles the perfect location to showcase their unique sound. You could even say the world of cinema was another reason Jordan was so drawn to instrumental music: “I love the successful marriage of film and audio, and I think that a good soundtrack is another character in a film. Because I’m very aware of it, it can make or break a scene, it can change the direction completely. I think the invisible force it has over the influence of the image you’re seeing is such a cool thing.”
While these Los Angelenos are not the first to compose instrumental music, originality and true artistic expression is at the forefront of everything they do. With Hollywood next door, Jordan is all too aware of the many reality-singing competition programs, and while acknowledging them as an outlet for people to enjoy, he doubts their ability to encourage artistic measure and instead do the very opposite and urge artists to conform: “I was at American Idol when Harry Connick Jr. was there as a guest judge and this one girl did her own version of an Etta James song. All the judges told her how she had done such a great job and how important it is to be an individual, but that she would be better off sticking to the more popular version. Harry Connick Jr. came up and was like, “Man, you just told this girl to be an individual, do your own thing, but do it the way everyone expects you to do it”. I think if you’re going to be original you need to throw caution to the wind because if you don’t, you’re not creating anything new, you’re just staying within the boundaries of what exists.”
Amongst his musical influences, I’m startled to hear Jordan confess the endless appreciation he holds and always will hold for Nine Inch Nails, whom he credits as a major influence along with contrasting artists, Ulrich Schnauss, BT and Paul Oakenfold: “Anyone who was able to combine the sort of organic instrumentation with burgeoning technology were people that I always found interesting. There’s an electronic artist called b.fleischmann and a duo called Es Posthumus who were huge influences on the stuff I decided to do. Es Posthumus were brothers and unfortunately, one of them recently passed away, but the music they put together was a fantastic combination of electronic elements, keyboard and synth technology with beautiful live orchestration and choral vocal points.” Pier’s list continues with Massive Attack, Sigur Ros and Explosions In The Sky.
With the release of their third EP, Human Hearts, Robot minds, Jordan is understandably excited to see how the music will be perceived. With the initial release sounding more down tempo and the second consisting of more of a rock sound, leaving richmond believe they have now achieved a balance between both: “I’ve combined the two into this atmospheric, electronic rock sound, and every time I work on the songs or listen to them, I get really excited about the direction the music is going in.”
leaving richmond did not stand timidly in the background and dip one toe in the instrumental music water, they jumped head first, with courage and conviction for what they were trying to achieve. They have forged a successful name with a foray of fans who adore their music and respect their intention of demonstrating honest and unique music. Despite all of this, Jordan acknowledges the hardship of being an artist in the music industry and sums it up quite wonderfully: “They’ll be times where you walk outta the house and birds land on your shoulders and wildlife comes up and sings to you and it’s one of those days where everybody is interested in what you have do and what you have to say; and then there are other days where you might as well be on fire, people want nothing to do with what you’re doing.”
leaving richmond have produced a beautiful, organic and stirring sound which allows you to take hold of the song and accompany it by any imagery you so desire. It’s the listener’s story to create. It’s leaving richmond.