For years, Oakland musician James Riotto has fronted (and played bass for) the rock trio The Moanin Doves. More recently, he’s dabbled in producing, working behind the boards at John Vanderslice‘s Tiny Telephone Studios doing production for the likes Thao Nguyen, Mirah, Shannon and the Clams, and Ezra Furman.
Now, he’s embarking into new territory and releasing his first solo work, Mineral King. The deeply personal work delves into Riotto’s personal life, showcasing his piercing vocals and eclectic instrumental talents.
In “Mineral King,” the EP’s lead track — premiered today on SF Weekly — Riotto combines placid, blurry melodies with the pleasant hum of twangy guitar. The mellow, folk-meets-indie-rock song is named after a valley on the border of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park in the Sierra Mountain, which Riotto says is “one of [his] favorite places that [he’s] ever hiked.”
And, like most great works of art, Riotto has cannabis to thank for coming up with the tune.
“The seed of this song was planted in me after I ate some marijuana chocolate on a backpacking trip and was absolutely floored by the impossible beauty that surrounded me,” he adds. “It sent me on a train of thought about life and death and nature and God that has really stuck with me.”
Catch James Riotto — with Kacey Johansing — at Rickshaw Stop on Thursday, July 20.