Henry Raker and His Second Album Debut
Skidmore is filled with talented students left and right. Some make themselves known by performing at shows on campus and off, others keep themselves hidden, but are still a force to be reckoned with it. Skidmore Sophomore Henry Raker ’22 is among those few. By only performing his first show last year, Raker quickly made himself known as a top musician on campus. This past month, he released his album “Holy Shapes,” and set himself on a path for campus-wide success.
Raker’s love for music started long before his college years, where “my dad showed me a lot of cool music growing up,” exposing him to the world of musicians such as Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix. In fifth grade, he started to play the saxophone. He was drawn to it for the sole purpose of looking cool, but he soon grew to love it, and thus, Henry Raker and his trusty saxophone became inseparable.
He started playing constantly and making music. Before he came to Skidmore a couple years ago, he “took a gap year to live in New York and just play.” This is also when Raker put out his first album, but it didn’t gain the traction he had hoped.
“A couple months later I put out a little EP, and nobody was caring about it,” he said. Raker enjoyed creating his own pieces, but he admitted that he wasn’t getting the satisfaction he craved.
He thought, “this is a fun thing to do, but I’m hungry and I’m not making any money.”
His work didn’t go completely unnoticed. He caught the eye of a record label in Austin, which gave him the motivation he needed to keep making music. According to Raker, “It was validating.”
This helped propel him to his latest album, which would not have been possible without help from the previous songs he released, which he realized all sounded alike. While in a practice room last year, he realized that all of the songs he was writing were in the same key and they all seemed to connect. “It filled me with so much joy, and I just started jumping around,” he said.
He recorded the result of combining all of his previous songs and, with some help from other Skidmore musicians, Paul Goldfinger, Brendan Wright, and Mike Milano, “Holy Shapes” was born.
The album consists of five songs that are all connected and tell the story of an anxiety attack. During the time that Raker found himself writing the music for this album, he was dealing with anxiety and depression that took a personal toll on him.
“People of course want to seem like they’re put together, because if they look put together then maybe they’ll end up manifesting that put togetherness,” Raker explained.
The first song starts out intense and has a mysterious tone to it. The songs then escalate in intensity and make you feel desolate, with the last song making you feel defeated, mimicking the course of an anxiety attack.
Raker’s goal for this album is to help people, and make it known that they aren’t alone in what they are going through in a time when they might feel trapped. “I’m really happy with how it came out, I’m really proud of it,” he said.
The process of making this emotionally-heavy album has only made Raker want to make more. He has already started working on his next album and wants it to be more lighthearted and fun to listen to.
“I want people to feel good listening to my music, and make people feel good for at least a couple minutes out of the day, since I can’t help everyone.”
Raker sees this album as a definite stepping stone in his career that will hopefully help him make more music.
“If you have an idea for a song or something, just make it, it doesn’t matter.”
Through the course of his music journey, Raker went from being an unknown artist on campus to an established one in the course of a year, showing anyone that anything is possible.
All of his music is out on every platform, with the exception of his latest album not being available on SoundCloud. He hopes that vinyl and cassettes are also coming soon.