Q&A: Raffa Jo Harris on Long-Distance Musical Relationships, Opening for CocoRosie Tonight

Photo by Ian Witlen
Raffa Jo Harris

Raffa Jo Harris is that Miami-based guitarist/vocalist who's taught untrained ears that it is in fact cool to "rock a little softer." The 29-year-old sultry songbird often shares the stage with her partner in crime, Rainer Davies, as

Raffa & Rainer

, and they're known for sets that hint at a more spirited side of

Laura Marling


Jolie Holland

while tending to require minimal setup.

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Their catchy, folky sound mixes with a little rock 'n' roll rockabilly to transform sweet and witty lyrics about that "boy in the bar" into foot-tappin', smile-inducing, Friday-night anthems. So her band's pairing with CocoRosie for tonight's show at Revolution is seemingly the perfect fit.

New Times caught up with Harris, as we noticed that she's been playing a lot less with Davies lately. Is the band on hiatus and just coming together for this one-off CocoRosie gig? "No, no... We're engaging in a long-distance musical relationship," Harris says, laughing. Check out what they have in store for tonight's gig, upcoming album plans and collaborations, and where Rainer's been hiding after the jump. 

New Times: So why did Rainer move to Philly?

Raffa Jo Harris: Well, we both grew up here. We'd lived here our whole lives. He kind of wanted to experience other things, and also our friend's band [the JeanMarie] needed a guitarist. They're very fun, and he went to go check it out.

Is he going to be back in Miami? Is it just a stint that he's doing in Philly?

Yeah. He's going to be back a lot. I mean, he moved like a month and a half ago, and next week, he'll already have been back three times. I think basically after next week, it's kind of my turn to go up there. We'll probably meet up in New York and play a few shows up there, play a few shows in the Northeast: Philly, Boston. Yeah.

So Raffa and Rainer isn't on hiatus then?

No, no. We're kind of in... we're engaging in a long-distance musical relationship [laughs]. When Rainer's not here, I'm still going to play, of course. And I'll play solo or with a duo or a bass player... whatever musicians are around that I'm feelin'.

So is it just going to be you and Rainer on stage tonight? Or are you bringing anyone else on?

Nope, we're gonna be playing with our bass player, Dion [Kerr]. So we'll be in trio, probably.

Do you have any idea how long your set is gonna be?

I think we're gonna play for about 25 minutes? So it'll be a nice little short set. I think we're going to play most of our songs from No Mercy, which is our newest album, with like maybe one from the first album and one that we haven't recorded yet.

Do you have any idea when you're going to be releasing your next album?

You know, we have enough material at this point. It's just a matter of... it could be a while. The last one took about two and a half years to make, mostly because we didn't have the funds up-front. So we were kind of paying for it as we go. So I think the next time we do an album, I'd like to save up, have the money up-front, and be able to knock it out in a couple of months. So I couldn't say. It's just kind of a glimmer in our minds right now. We're in the daydreaming process.

Do you have any albums of just you coming out, since you've been playing without Rainer a lot recently?

I'm not interested in recording just myself or without Rainer. But I do have another project that I'm working on with Kent Hernandez of Kentsoundz. He works with Afrobeta, and he does electronic. He's a really incredible producer and makes really good beats. It's completely different. It's like an electronic beat. It's cool, though. It's fun. I really like it. I really like what he does. So we're kind of working on an EP together.

So what is that collaboration going to be called between you and Kent?

I couldn't tell ya [laughs].

You haven't come up with a name yet?

That's the hardest part about all of it, coming up with a name. Which is why Raffa & Rainer is Raffa & Rainer.

Yeah, but it's catchy because of the two R's.

Yeah, and it started off as a duo for a long time. So it works. It can't be Raffa & Kent or Kent & Raffa because we already did that [laughs].

So you guys have worked together for a while, already?

Yeah. Actually we did our first song together like five years ago, and we've been doing one like every three years or so? But now we're trying to like pick up the pace. We have like three songs now, so we're trying to finish an EP. We both do a lot of different things, so it's hard to get together. But you know. But it will happen. It will be hopefully within the next year and put out a nice little package.

What do you guys have planned for the show tonight? 'Cause you know CocoRosie tends to do really intense costume changes.

Right. We're keeping it simple. We're the opening act. We're the support. So I don't think it's going to be anything out of the ordinary. We're just going to do a nice, solid set, and hopefully people like it. There's going to be a lot of people that haven't heard us before. So it'll be cool. Maybe we'll have some time to throw in a nice little surprise, which I'm thinking about.

Yeah. So you're not going to be doing any nods to CocoRosie? Like maybe donning a fake mustache or something?

Nope. Maybe I'll get Rainer to put on a fake mustache [laughs]. But that's their thing, and I don't wanna like -- you know -- jump on any mustaches [laughs]... We're just going to keep it simple. When we submitted our music to LiveNation, they said it was good but asked that we do it without the drums. They asked us if we could do it with really minimal setup, and yeah, we can do that.

That's still so exciting, though.

Mmm-hmm. And I think what we're really good at actually is keeping it simple. You know, like a straightforward kind of sound and feel. I mean, maybe someday we'll get into a little more spectacle. But I think what's most important to me is just a solid, good sound.

So are you going to stick around after your set?

Oh yeah. I think we'll hang out as much as we can. After, after, I'm probably going to go down to the Vagabond and get my dance on [laughs].

Raffa & Rainer, opening for CocoRosie tonight at Revolution, 200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets now cost $28.10 at ticketmaster.com

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