September 29, 2022

Alum discusses synth-pop band The Raquels, upcoming music

When he was in 10th grade, university alum Dave Butler, class of 2015, was at an Owl City concert and yelled “Slayer!” There, he met drummer Tyler Birch, and the rest is history. 

Butler and Birch later joined forces with vocalists and guitarists Derrick Walter and Gabe Ritz to form four-piece synth-pop band The Raquels. 

Their sound, as described by the band, is primarily “pop melodies over distorted post bonkers electro-band.” With influence from other artists like The 1975, Vampire Weekend, and King Missile, they mix upbeat instrumentals with existential lyrics to create a unique and synthesized pop-rock vibe. 

The Raquels, photo by Jay Olson, 2015 Capital graduate.

To achieve this genre-bending blend of sounds, the band’s creative process is “treacherous,” followed by “copious amounts of ice cream.” After that initial burst, Walter or Ritz produce a song, which then will get fleshed out on sticky-from-ice-cream laptops by the whole band.

And, like in any medium, there are lessons to learn.

The biggest thing Butler learned from studying jazz at Capital was to make sure he plays his own part. 

“Overplaying is easy to do,” he said. “The most important thing you can do as a part of a unit or group is to serve the song/performance—not yourself.”

Butler also said that playing music from genres you don’t normally listen to is a good way to cleanse your musical palate if you’re used to playing one genre all the time. For example, singer-songwriter or country are his go-tos in this situation. 

Walter recommends thinking forward when producing. 

“With all of the creative tools that are super accessible nowadays, there’s no excuse to not be breaking rules and push your music forward,” he said. 

“Sucking at something is the first step towards being good at something,” Birch said. “Don’t think too hard, share your art, and make it a priority to get people to dance/sing/cry.”

The Raquels have had a wild ride since forming back in 2017, including playing a sweaty and timeless “rave in a punked-out defunct grilled cheese” in South Carolina. 

Although they don’t think they’ll ever be as sexy as Damn the Witch Siren, as good as Ghost Soul Trio (featuring music technology student James Harker), or as cool as The Roof Dogs, The Raquels aren’t going anywhere soon. 

In addition to their upcoming show Feb. 15 at the Shrunken Head, The Raquels have recently released three of six singles to be included on their upcoming album in the spring, including “sexmoneydeathetc.,” “Modern Prayer,” and “Promiz.”

The band can be found on Instagram at @RaquelsRaquels, and Facebook here. You can listen to their music on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube.

  • Sydney was the managing editor at the Chimes for her junior and senior years after working as a staff reporter during her first year at Capital in 2017. Sydney graduated in 2020 with a degree in professional writing and journalism. Some of her favorite things are cold brew, books about dragons, horror films, and her cat, Sterling.

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