Quietly making their mark on the Denver music scene, the Minor duo is bringing a unique twist of melodic electronica and folky hip-hop to the table. The duo is composed of multifaceted producer Sam Goodman and singer and songwriter Jessa Raskin. The two have a rich musical history and their chemistry in the lab is evident on their first couple singles. Goodman fuses brilliant instrumental production with Raskin’s soothing, heartfelt vocals to push the boundaries of what lyrical electronic music can accomplish.
The two have had their fair share of experience in the music industry; Goodman has a degree in Music Education and Violin from The University of Colorado in Boulder and his involvement with Michal Menert’s live band led to his violin samples being featured on Mickey Hart’s most recent album, Ramu. Raskin’s involvement with Grim&Darling allowed her to tour the Colorado area and share the stage with some big names such as Jurassic 5, The Werks, and The Reminders.
The duo spoke with Compose Yourself about the formation of the group, a glimpse into their production process, and their new single “Holding My Breath”.
Compose Yourself: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us! So how did the two of you meet?
Sam: The first time we met was the night I played with Michal Menert at the Fillmore in 2014. It was the second big band show and Jordan Polovina and I met while working together in the string section. Jordan and Jessa were in a group called Grim&Darling and Jordan introduced me.
Jessa: Yeah, so Jordan and I were in Grim&Darling at the time and they played together for that show. After that, Sam started sitting in with us whenever we would play. Then we all played together at Michal Menert’s Big Band show at Red Rocks.
Sam: Yeah, so after the whole Menert thing, Grim&Darling went along for a few years and I recorded some violin with them and sat in for every show I could. I became pretty good friends with Jessa and Jordan during the time.
Jessa: So when Grim&Darling ended, Sam started producing a solo album for me and it became hugely collaborative right off the bat. It quickly got to the point where he was just like, ‘do you want to just make this our thing?’ And I was instantly like ‘yes of course!’
Sam: Yeah, so I had been doing my solo electronic thing for about eight years under Stan. I released my stuff through the Wump Collective, who have helped out a ton behind the scenes with Minor a ton as well. That started to kinda fizzle out, and as I was writing music, I realized it was missing things. It kinda just all came together when she asked to record the solo album. We started in October of 2017 with songs she had already written, but we never finished anything. There was just this one time when Jessa came over after I had written the beat for our song “When I’m Ready”. She started singing over it and I was just like, ‘oh yeah, were just going to do this instead.’
Jessa: So rewind three or four years, there was a song on my Soundcloud that we always wanted to redo but kinda forgot about. When he played me the beat he had been working on, I was like ‘oh, we should put the lyrics from that song on top of this instead.’ And that became our first single that we put out. That’s when we realized we should do this collaboratively.
Sam: It came together really nicely. I haven’t felt this good about music in a long time.
Jessa: I remember I had played the original and the remix for Sam and he was like we can do this way better.
Sam: I basically just ripped it from youtube and tried to remove everything other than her voice. I made a decent version of the song but when I showed her that beat I had been working on it just clicked.
Jessa: Yeah, he was like ‘write to this’ and I was like ‘I don’t think I have to, I think the verse from that old song will work fine on it.’ And that was our first song.
Tell me a little about “Fall Again”
Jessa: That one is interesting too because of the hook. When we did the big band with Menert at Red Rocks, the last song was a big jam and he asked us all “Does anyone have any lyrics?” and I very shyly raised my hand. I had this hook that popped into my head while we were rehearsing and he was like ‘yeah were using it’, so that hook became the hook for the finale of the Red Rocks show. Michal was like ‘yes this will be the first recorded Big Band song’ but nothing ever came of it. So I waited a certain amount of time and Sam and I were talking about music to play and I was like ‘ok, well that’s not getting used so I’m taking that one back.’
Sam: That was like the most magical writing session I’ve ever had. She sang it and I was like ‘yep I know exactly what I’m going to do’ and like an hour later the entire thing was done.
Tell me a little about how you decided on the name.
Jessa: Well, I don’t really want to be the face of anything, and neither does Sam. The whole vibe of what were trying to do isn’t to be the image of a band, we just want to be a band and put out music that speaks for itself. We haven’t even done a live show yet, and I come from a band where there was a clear frontman, but that isn’t either of us. I feel like we work really well together because neither of us are trying to be that personality at all.
Sam: Yeah, I would perform behind a sheet if I could *laughs* we struggled because we had our first song coming out on a Monday, and it was the Friday before and we didn’t have a band name or logo, so we had a weekend to brand ourselves before the single dropped. We ended up calling ourselves Minor for a bunch of reasons. The biggest reason that spoke to me was that you see so many people that are just trying to push, and push, and push to get their name out there, and it just seems like they’re trying a little too hard. And it almost makes it a little less genuine. We would much rather take a backseat and be kind of hidden for a while and just come out with quality music that speaks for itself.
Jessa: And I was coming from a place where I would walk down the street and people would look at me and say ‘Darling!’ And on a personal level, I’m not 20 years old. I felt so much pressure to be relevant and cute and image was just everything. I was just so uncomfortable because I can’t always compete that way. I’m not always going to be able to compete in an image driven music world. I don’t want to have to compete in an image driven music world. It bothers me because people are like ‘you should be the face on this.’ It’s just not what I want.
Sam: We’re just not that kind of people. It may come off to a lot of people like we’re trying too hard to not try too hard. But were just not going to do it that way.
Tell me a little about your production process.
Sam: Uh, yeah, there is no process. It’s different every time.
Jessa: Yeah it’s kinda one or the other. Either I have a riff or a hook or a baby song and he’s like ‘great’ and we’ll record a reference track and he’ll flesh it out on the production end, or he’ll have a song, and those are harder for me to write to. I really have to connect emotionally to something to write to it.
Sam: I think it’s cool though because you can tell by listening to the first two singles. “Fall Again” was her song, she sent me that riff and she had the hook for it and I added on to it. Whereas “When I’m Ready” was like already a fleshed out track that I had made that she just vibed with. So it’s either that, or I’ll bother her while she’s at work and send her music and she’ll be like I love it and eventually write something for it.
Jessa: We definitely listen to things that are in the direction that we want to go. And honestly we vibe 100%, we always agree on direction which is really a beautiful thing.
Sam: And on my side, I felt the same way with my solo stuff. I never think my own stuff is ready. Honestly, I never think anything is ready. But this is the closest I’ve come to being happy with a finished product. It’s funny because on the day that “Fall Again” was made we were just not really feeling it, wanted to cancel and we were like no let’s just do it.
Jessa: We spent a lot of time just not really feeling very inspired or creative and we just stumbled upon it and by the time I left we had a song.
Sam: And a lot of time when we meet up to get stuff done, we just end up sitting and not doing anything. When we feel inspired or if I have high expectations for a session, that’s usually when nothing comes out of it.
Jessa: And not only that, we’ve had multiple sessions where we’ve worked really, really hard for a lot of hours and just nothing came out of it. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, but I like that because it’s a level of integrity that I would like to have. I don’t want those hours to go to waste, but honestly the only reason that cover came out is because we tried doing a live video of it and worked for almost 12 hours one day and it just didn’t work, so we were like let’s just record a studio version of it.
Compose Yourself: So tell me a little about “Holding My Breath”
Sam: So I was up all night and wrote this beat and wasn’t really sure where it would go. And I was super into hip-hop beats at the time. But I just threw it into our dropbox and a day later she sent back a hook and I was like ‘ok this is a Minor song now.’ Then I put a hip-hop breakdown on it and we decided we wanted a rapper on it.
Jessa: So we were thinking about who we wanted to ask and I had Reason the Citizen in mind. So I hit him up and he was like ‘yup totally.’ So he sent us his verse, and it was really flattering to hear that he resonated with the concept of the song. The hook to me was just about holding my breath, it says “I breathe you in and I’m afraid if I let you go I’ll never breathe again.” I feel like something is really happening with this, and I just got through a really hard time in my life where I kinda lost all the things that were meaningful to me. And now I’m in a healthy relationship and the band is going well, but there’s always that feeling that when you have what you want, it always can go.
Sam: And the fact that Reason was able to tap into that so perfectly, there’s just so many lines in there that sum it up really well. I actually listened to these lyrics, which never happens because my ear is always drawn more to the instrumentals and samples when listening to music, and it’s crazy how spot on he came with his verse. This track was heavily inspired by 20syl and AllttA’s latest album and I was just like ‘yep I’m gonna make beats like this now.’
Compose Yourself: When can we expect to see a live show?
Sam: Realistically, it’ll probably be about 6 months *laughs*
Jessa: We need to be getting our feet wet again. The only thing keeping us is time constraints and our personal commitment to playing live.
Sam: Yeah exactly, so there’s just two of us and it’s mostly electronic based but we don’t want to be the artists that just play our instruments over backing tracks. I like playing all of my synths and keys and triggering things in Ableton a lot more. I’ve only just started to figure out how to be able to do all this with just the two of us, which might be impossible.
Jessa: We just have to figure out how to do a live set that we’re proud. I want our live experience to make listeners think ‘oh wow I didn’t know they played so many instruments.’
Sam: We don’t want to come out half-ass. We want it to be dialed when we play our first show.
Anything else you want to add?
Sam: I just want to give a shoutout to the WUMP Collective. They’ve been incredibly supportive and their help has made our lives so much easier. It’s a close community and all the artists on there are very talented.
Thanks for speaking with us!
Minor just dropped their new single “Holding My Breath”. Give it a spin and follow the Wump Collective Soundcloud to stay current on all their newest releases.
Also, check out their Insta (@soundsminor) for song previews and sneak peaks of new stuff!