A Chat With Racoma, From Seattle to my Laptop

By Sarah Levin

Damn. Racoma was just playing in my car last week.

As I see the small square pop up on my laptop screen filled with two faces, my eyes divert to the first — singer Glenn Haider. “We’re actually waiting for a third, our guitarist,” he mentions. Him and bassist Spencer Templeman sit closely together, the two of them surrounded by chic house plants and dainty art pieces, making it no surprise that they’re from The Evergreen State. As Templeman fills the air with inquiries about Chicago winters, guitarist Sean Collopy joins in on the interview. He’s not with the other members, and it’s obvious with the bright green trees in the background. The environment itself is self-explanatory to Racoma’s music: Serene, simplistic, a breath of fresh West Coast air. 

With over 2,000,000 streams on Spotify and over 100,000 monthly listeners, Racoma is on the road to stardom. They released their home recorded self-titled EP in 2018, featuring their hit song, “Get On.” Following this release, they did not hit pause on their releases. In May 2020, they released their first album, This Front Room. After the debut, the band was eager and ready to fully dive into a creative escape to push their writing, production, and recordings of new material. With 2022 single releases like “Concrete” and “Gray,” Racoma begins their takeover of the alternative scene.

From left to right: Templeman, Collopy, Haider.

Although their new single is called “Gray,” Racoma’s sound is far from it. 

This melancholy-induced single shows a new, vulnerable side to Racoma — purging introspection and to-the-bone emotional openness. Lines like, “Don’t wanna leave / I wanna stay awake / Been missing out on things / Been living in a fugue state,” stemmed from Haider’s personal life, hinting at his pre-COVID struggles.

“In 2020, during the start of quarantine, I went through a divorce,” Haider said. “This one is just about that feeling of uncertainty. Waking up and not really knowing how the day is gonna go or how you’re gonna feel,” he added. 

It is quite obvious that Haider poured his heart out on this track, just discussing it alone seemed to not only cause his mood to drop, but his tone. His eyes looked down to his hands, and his mind began to wander. It was apparent that Haider writes from true experience, and he does not hold back on emotional sensibility when songwriting. If you’re going through a tough time, Haider will take the words right out of your mouth with “Gray.”

A creative push in the right direction is what Racoma aimed for, and it’s what they got. 

In early 2021, the band took a trip to the North Cascades National Park in Washington with a plan to settle into their surroundings and solely focus on rolling out new music.  “We just felt that we needed a space without distraction to work on music, so we rented out a cabin and spent a few months just recording and writing,” Collopy began. “The timing kind of worked out. The world was isolating and so were we, so we took the opportunity to work on new stuff,” he continued. 

The band noted that this productive getaway felt much needed, and was very successful with the creation of their latest EP, Concrete. Made up of three synchronized tracks, the March release dove into experiences with depression and the outcome of secondhand grief.  

“We haven’t told anyone this yet, but we have more things coming, we have more things on the way,” Haider laughed.

Who is Racoma?

As the conversation shifted into discussions of musical inspirations and personal favorites, a new question arose – what’s the difference between their inspirations and personal favorites? Racoma wants to be Racoma, and initially they expressed fears of openly admitting who their inspirations are. We discussed how artists often spend too much time thinking of their sound influences and inspirations, which results in a loss of originality in music. Rather than spending too much time trying to sound like another band, Racoma does not want to mix up who they should be, rather than who they are. 

“I’ve been really into Big Thief lately, Adrianne Lenker is brilliant,” Haider said. There are no disagreements when it comes to Lenker’s talent, and her undoubtful presence in Racoma’s lyricism and sound. Meanwhile, Collopy and Templeman mutually agreed on their love for Radiohead, which also caused no disagreement because Radiohead is, well, Radiohead. 

Here lies the fluidity of songwriting … or better yet, “voice memoing.”

The process of songwriting for Racoma is anything but an orderly operation. The fluidity of this process lends itself to a multitude of ways they make music. The birth of a song, whether it is a guitar riff or a chord progression, depends solely on how the band forms their creative expression. The band’s easygoing approach towards production eventually transforms a single line or riff into a polished single. 

“It really depends,” Haider began. “Sometimes it’s a voice memo on my phone, sometimes it’s a melody-” 

“We do a lot of jams,” Collopy said. “And through those jams something happens that we really like, either a riff or a chord progression or a melody.” 

Just by the way the members of Racoma naturally flow together in conversation, it is clear that their dynamic is processed in a way that creates a sense of genuine realness. They don’t have a specific potion for their music, or a special secret to their catchy tunes; they just do what they love — music. 

Either way, it works. Their fluidity and calmness in terms of how they create, where they create, and what they create is very easily noticed, and that is what makes Racoma’s unique alternative rock sound. They are very easygoing, humble guys, and their music reflects that. Their ability to be completely sincere with their craft proves that no matter where life takes them, whether it is the mountains of the North Cascades or my laptop screen, they’re in it for the long run.

If you’re interested in listening to Racoma, check out their Instagram at @racomamusic, or their Spotify for more.

Film photos shown taken by Meg Brady | IG: @megonfilm

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