KRaydio has found an undeniable chemistry with the downtempo vibes of beatmaker/producer Psymun. After well-received EPs with local producers such as Man Mantis, O-D, and Big Cats, the Minneapolis R&B and soul singer was already on the verge of a creative breakthrough.
"[Psymun] listened to my music, he was just trying to reach out," she remembers. "I was trying to find people to work with, and it was like a genuine thing. I was hungry, he was hungry, and I never forgot that."
Throughout LucidDreamingSkylines, which marks K. Raydio's first full-length album, her warm voice sinks effortlessly into a lush sonic backdrop. Incorporating samples and live instrumentation, her full-fledged artistic partner's ear for harmonic smoothness mingles with a choppy pulse and dips into the avant-garde. The beats undoubtedly bump, but still allow her understated vocal style to shine.
"We initially set out to do the project by finding how our sounds blended together," she says. "[People] say it's hauntingly beautiful, which is really cool. It sounds like people are actually paying attention to the production and the lyrics instead of just nodding their heads."
The pair first worked together on SSV3, Psymun's team-up album with producer Damacha. The record featured "Flight" and "Lobby Music," both of which appear in revamped form on LucidDreamingSkylines, with a new guest rap from boundary-pushing friend Greg Grease on the latter.
"In a way, we based the album off those songs," says Psymun, who has also done beats for Chester Watson, Co$$, Rich Garvey, Prizm, and Prhym8. "Not completely, but something with dreamy samples. As a producer, one thing I like about albums that are produced by one artist, the production feels more like an album and less like a mixtape [or] like a collection of sounds."
The recording process went remarkably smoothly, and they meshed creatively with an ease and authenticity that's reflected in the songs.
"He'd show me what he was thinking about before he even had the production fleshed out, and we'd come up with ideas, and it would come together really cohesive," says K. Raydio. "It's as much his album as it is mine. He's not just a producer, he's not just a beatmaker, he's an artist in and of himself. It's cool to have a project where we're both on the bill. I think it's time more producers get to shine."
True to that philosophy, K. Raydio insists that Psymun works the boards whenever she performs. Their friendship grew alongside their working relationship, and conversations about shared experiences became ideas for songs.
"We'll talk about everything, we'll just talk about life," says K. Raydio. "It becomes very personal when you record an album because there's all sorts of experiences that go into that album. Putting it out into the world is like putting out a journal and taking all the pages out.... It's an intense experience. The lyrics are very honest, because there was a lot that happened this year. [But] if that hadn't happened, there wouldn't be material. It's kind of all in perspective."
Early on, the songs are rife with sultry melodies that evoke the feeling of being swept up in an idyllic moment, and K. Raydio's lyrics find the joy in the minute details without losing the big picture. These moments are dotted with sunsets, drives around the lake, slipping into tipsiness, and simply being in the presence of another person. But the album gradually transitions into darker material.
"I think it has two halves, which I didn't really notice at first," says Psymun, referencing the latter songs, which touch on issues like body image, lost lives, and, in "Yearbook," bullying.
"I've been bullied; I was definitely that kid with the headphones on the bus just trying to make it home," K. Raydio recalls. "I felt like it was cool to make a song [that said] regardless of whatever you're going through, you'll get through it."
There's a strain of optimism underneath even some of the most difficult songs, if only in that sharing pain is cathartic and the first step to moving on. "[Psymun] and I have both talked about our own experiences, [and] it was very therapeutic in a lot of different ways," she adds. "Music was always how I dealt with stuff. We want people to just feel. Just enjoy music for a different purpose."