BTD Artist Interview with Dave Godbey Ragin Contagion
Written by Matt Zin on July 29, 2021
BTD Artist Interview with Dave Godbey Ragin Contagion
Hi Dave Godbey, welcome, I have been doing a lot of reading about you and your music and I can’t wait to dig in and ask you some questions but before we do that, where are you from?
Hello T Dawn, it is a pleasure talking with you, thanks for having me! Home for me is now Bel Air Maryland, 25 miles north of Baltimore. After leaving Boston in 1983, I moved to Berkeley, California, for graduate school. In 1989 I moved to Maryland, and have been here ever since.
So it sounds like you have been busy during the pandemic, nice. I love to hear stories about turning negative issues into positive. So tell me about The Ragin’ Contagion. How did the name of this project come about?
It was February 2020, pre pandemic, anxiety building up, anticipating lockdowns and wondering what that was going to mean. My musical activities momentum was on the upswing. Elena Gray, who wrote Perspicacious with me for the CD and sang it, as well as singing Adulting on the CD, was my duet partner. We had a couple of lucrative gigs upcoming for us that went poof with the lockdown. Same thing happened for all the musicians around me and everyone else too. And there were people who were enraged by the lockdown. And others were confused and concerned by the pandemic, and careful to avoid contracting the disease. And some of these folks were enraged by others who rejected the precautions. All of this rage. And of course, the contagion. And I thought of the cartoon me talking to a virus particle as Hamlet speaking to Yorick’s skull. Don’t ask where Yorick came from, lol, but yeah, that’s where the CD project idea all started. I was feeling like an antenna receiving conflicting messages from all these different people, And here I am, a Hamlet-like tragic character asking the virus particle, WTF? Lol!
Your CD “Everybody Has a Story” (which I love the title), it looks like you have lots of stories to tell through your music on your twelve track CD. You start the CD with the song, “Cloudburst” and end it with “Everybody Has A Story,” is there something behind the song layout? Why is the title of the album last? Lot’s of times it’s usually the first song on the CD.
My layout strategy for this album: good question! Their are certain artists who place their best song of an album at the end. Taylor Swift’s albums are often like that. The way I look at it, the final song should be cerebral, thought-provoking, and giving the listener something to think about while humming a nice melody as well as rewarding them for listening to the very end. Now the first song represents the best of the overall body of music from the album. Cloudburst is that song. I sing it, and it is most representative of the total body of work on this CD.It has a spacey, mesmerizing lead solo, tying it to the instrumental songs, Advise and Resent and Careful With That Sax, Jeanine, in the middle of the CD. The next few songs are pretty pop, especially Adulting and Only You. Only You features vocalist Carolyn Wilson and Mr. Curt on keyboards. For Adulting, I tip my hat to young people, the millennials and the gen z’ers. For it is today’s young people that will have to clean up the mess left by us boomers. A nice pop tune with lots of pop culture references from a young persons view. And I have another side of me that likes electronic and electronic dance music, like Pascal Letoublon, Tangerine Dream, Pink Floyd, etc. The songs Advise and Resent, and Careful With That Sax, Jeanine, are two instrumentals from the CD, and the EDM/rap/very danceable song Conspirator’s Delight.
On the song “Adulting,” is that your daughter singing? Did she write the song? Is that also her in the video?
Ah, Adulting. It is a wonderful story, I think! My daughter would not sing or appear in such a video, although she really could if it weren’t for the shyness. In any case, Elena Gray is a singer I was working with at lockdown, so I was pleased to have her sing that song with me during the pandemic. Elena is a twenty something singer who had the creds and clearly identified with the song. After lockdown, a lot of what I did with Elena was remote until the end. Once we were both vaccinated and comfortable getting out, she came to the studio and sang the final lead vocal, and added some very impressive harmonies. Check out those choruses! Elena can sing some pretty high notes! That was Elena in the video who also produced it, a pretty clever video idea. She sang the beginning of the song with her mask on, tearing it off at the end in a final act of life-risking pandemic defiance, offering herself to the mortician, lol! You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xU9elm5HlE
Speaking of videos, it looks like you were busy making videos during the pandemic as well. Which one is your favorite and why?
You are referring to my youtube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/dgodbey/videos? Yes
With respect to the CD, Adutling is actually a real video, where Elena acted out a story that made sense within the context, pandemic, and pandemic related frustration. And a shoutout to Instagram, my handle @ragin.contagion, where collaborations are born. I met an animation artist on Instagram, @belka_aka_squirrel, who created the visuals for Careful With That Sax, Jeanine. You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jtQ83lZjXo
Very mesmerizing, I love it! I Hope You Click Send features some photos from Ricci Lacentra, sunset specialist and original Fox Pass drummer, if you like sunsets! Ah, and Runnin’ Runnin’! A shameless excuse to feature my family zip lining in Queenstown, New Zealand 3 years ago, as taken from the GoPro I was wearing. Mia, the Adulting lyricist, is the young woman featured with the gray hoodie who flips upside down at the drop of a hat.
Take us back a little bit in time and share with us how all this music thing started with you?
I played in bands in Boston back in the late 70’s. Most notably, I played bass for Fox Pass for two years, 1975-1977. And The Knobs and The Rubies before and after. I stopped playing gigs in 1979 when I went to college at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. I finished college and went to graduate school in Berkeley, California, where I met my wife. While in Berkeley I played bass briefly in a surf music band called Two Peters and A Dick. They refused to add “and a Dave” to the band name, so I quit, lol!, jk! After finishing school, my gal and I married and settled in the Washington DC area (DMV). We had two kids. I played my acoustic guitar all these family years. But in 2015, I got serious again, practicing 1 or more hours every day. In 2016 I got more prolific in song writing and playing my originals at open mics in the Baltimore metro area. I have served as accompanist for various singers over these same years and you can see some of that work on my YouTube channel. When the pandemic hit, I took the opportunity to put my original songs together, find a way to focus the project, and create this album.
Who were or are your musical inspirations?
This is a hard question to answer for me, because, in fact, I like everything. Sometimes when on a long drive I’ll seek out a jazz, reggae, rap, or a Latino station. Yesterday I had top 40 radio on and Olivia Rodrigo came on. She is a really good new artist, and clearly following Taylor Swift’s footsteps (Deja Vu). And Billie Eilish is doing something very different, very special.
Still, I would say that I am a bit more of a contemporary music person than I am a classic music type person. And for inspirations, I’ll call out The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Tangerine Dream. A special shout out to Taylor Swift: I love her songs, she really is a superb writer. I cover a few Taylor Swift songs, arranging many of them for finger-style guitar. Many other artists I admire include Etta James, Louis Armstrong and other jazz greats. On the contemporary side: Post Malone, Louis Capaldi, Adele, Alessia Cara, Avici, and so many others. And great singers like Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. My current singer and CD vocalist, Carolyn Wilson, has brought Duran Duran, INXS, and other 90’s artists into my listening sphere of late.
How do you think this COVID thing has changed you as a person?
Yes, wow, very much so! On the positive side, one thing I have come to grips with is I realized that I like recording music more than I like performing it. That isn’t to say I will stop performing. No doubt by end of summer I’ll be out and about like my musical peers. The other thing that has happened to me on the negative side is a deep sense of disappointment that so many Americans reject science. They reject science even for public health concerns. They refuse to accept the death and suffering of thousands of people as real. They won’t wear a mask or get vaccinated, and they just complain about their loss of freedom. And they just don’t see the ramifications of what they do, the misinformation that they propagate. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that, but I try to keep my friendships intact as much as possible. Blood Sport and You’re Not My Enemy are two songs from the CD representing my feelings in this area, and I think I intend to persuade with these contributions.
Oh I wanted to ask you, what’s your song “You’re Not My Enemy” all about. Great track by the way.
Thank you so much! This song was inspired by a conversation I had with a conservative friend of mine a few years ago. He said that he listened to liberal radio to see what the enemy was saying. Enemy, I asked? Is that really what you think of us? I’m not your enemy! First verse I address misinformation and social media. The second verse was inspired by a conversation with a singer I was working with on the opposite end of the political spectrum. “We’re oil and water,” she said, based on our politics. That was the lens she saw me through even though we were very much in the same place music-wise. And the final verse: do you remember the civil war in Kosovo a decade ago or so? I remember those reports of people, Christians and Muslims who had been neighbors and friends for so many years, all of a sudden at each others’ throats because a despot was stoking racist hatred, divide and conquer, and intent on ethnic cleansing.
Are there any songs that didn’t make it on this CD that you wished you would have added or songs that came close to making it on this CD and did not?
I do have another handful of songs I chose not to put on the CD. Mostly because they didn’t quite fit the motif. They might be better suited on a chiller, more acoustic, album. And I continue to write new songs.
What can you tell BTD Radio about your music journey that you haven’t share in any other interview?
Ha ha, nice one! I like shuffle dancing, do you? No. I never have. Do you know what it is? I have to say I don’t think I know what it is. What is is? This video provides a pretty good intro to shuffle dancing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPmBnnon0Ek
It is so cardio, and so creative. I practice a little bit every day, mostly to songs I have myself created because they’re slower for me. Instagram is the place where the good practitioners post. The music they dance to comes mainly from the EDM and the hip hop communities. I have been posting some EDM/shuffle dancing tracks that I have created on Instagram, and you can find them there, Instagram @ragin.contagion, and Facebook, RaginContagion.
Are you working on any new music or projects that you can share with us?
I am thinking about a rock opera based on a dystopian future where personal contact can only be conducted if all parties are wearing hazmat suits. This is because a highly contagious and deadly virus is circulating, and had been circulating for decades. Humans have learned to conduct all their personal relationships via social media. I have created some pieces to support the opera known as Full Hazmat Suit you can see on my Instagram. See A Sunday Walk, Shuffling Through The Park, and Full Hazmat Suit. I’m still thinking through the story, how to collect and organize the songs, so stay tuned! Writing pop and pop rock music is also high on my agenda, so keep your eye out for more music from Carolyn and me.
What is your favorite song of yours that you just love so much and why?
My best song I’ve so far written is the title song of the CD, Everybody Has A Story. Carolyn is such a fine vocalist, and she got involved before the song was finished, so that I was able to tailor it to her talents. When she sings in that low alto of hers and turns on the vibrato, it is just so sexy, and compelling! The cello-based string section added by Thillman Benham provided a perfect crescendo at the end of the song. I find the song fun to play and just uplifting, isn’t it? Anyway, that’s my favorite.
Well, we are coming to a close of this interview. Is there anything else that I might have left out that you would like to share, like where can our listeners purchase your music?
You can find my music here:
- Everybody Has A Story CD on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/4bwQhP3XrKoAxtlWDTM9De
- CD on all other streaming services: https://ragin-contagion.hearnow.com
- My body of music on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgsOVhk9kWmwzNBs1B9eLxg
- I am active on Instagram: @ragin.contagion, Facebook: RaginContagion, and Twitter (although I am a Twitter newbie): @DaveRagin
- If you are a physical CD kind of person, you can buy the CD at Amazon and eBay. Or if you want a signed copy, please contact me for details, email@example.com
Be sure to keep us posted on your musical journey!
You bet! Thank you so much for talking to me, T Dawn!
T Dawn and the BTD Radio Crew