“In a way, I almost felt like, ‘Why haven’t I done this already? What took me so long?'” said David Raymond Jr., who goes by DJ Raymond when he performs.
The Hahnville native recently released his first solo project, entitled, “Truth Be Told,” an R&B EP release and compilation of eight original tracks written and performed by Raymond. It is available on all digital music stores and streaming services.
“I felt like I was given a gift,” Raymond said. “This is my passion. I have the ability and I’ve worked hard to develop that over the years … if God gave you the ability, gives you the idea, then He gave you the ability to get it done. I felt like it would almost be selfish to keep it to myself.”
The project is a showcase of the many talents of the Hahnville High School alumnus, who earned a nationally televised spotlight in November of last year when he performed on stage as a bassist alongside Solange on Saturday Night Live.
He was already a rising star as a bass player on the local music scene. For this album Raymond performed as bassist, singer, songwriter, producer and, for one song, pianist.
After graduating from Hahnville High in 2006, he began performing around the New Orleans area. By age 19, he pursued a musical career although he initially planned to go into nursing. He had hoped to play basketball collegiately as well, but those plans fell through and he made a full commitment to his musical craft.
“I picked up a gig here and there … the combination of that and me hating nursing school kind of led to it,” Raymond said. “I kept playing and performing, and realized that was what I wanted to do.”
He initially developed his love of music as he took after his father, who, like his son, was an avid singer and who played numerous instruments proficiently. Raymond began playing the drums at his father’s request then moved to the piano.
But one fateful day when he was 13 years old, Raymond heard bass player John Richards play at a church revival, and it made an impression. Raymond dedicated himself to the bass, which has since been his primary instrument.
“Even though it’s just one part of the music, I feel like the bass gives you power and control of where the music goes,” Raymond said. “It plays a big role. I can choose to make the music have a different feel or steer it in a different direction.”
He’s received a lot of positive feedback on the project so far, and has even been a bit surprised by some of it — in what he believes is a somewhat ironic twist, No Issue, which is the very first song Raymond wrote back in 2008, has been the most popular among those he’s talked with.
“It’s kind of crazy to think that’s a lot of people’s favorite,” he said. “It made me think, ‘Man, haven’t I gotten better since then?’ I feel like I’ve come a long way since that one. But I guess I might have been a pretty good songwriter back then, too.”
He’s still learning to be a soloist, though. He called it a completely different experience from what he’s used to in his comfort zone as a performer.
Even his Saturday Night Live (SNL) performance, he said, didn’t truly prepare him for this new step in his life.
“(Performing on SNL) was an amazing and unforgettable experience, but being the front man for a project is a completely different circumstance,” he said. “You’re on a big stage, but you’re not out in the forefront like this.”
While the album is his first project as a solo artist, he is quick to note he could never have accomplished this alone.
Musicians he’s played alongside for years — Brandon Butler, Alvin Ford, Shemaiah Turner and Jason Hodge — provide their own flavor to the tracks, while P.J. Morton and Chris Payton each collaborated with Raymond on a track.
“When you play together as long as we have, you just build a chemistry that there’s no substitute for, and it shines through in the music,” he said. “The work and time we’ve spent together, it makes everything sound better.”