Miranda Lee Richards
First Light of Winter
Miranda Lee Richards' songwriting career was shaped by her bohemian upbringing in San Francisco, where her parents, Ted and Teresa Richards, made a living as influential comic book artists.
She grew up in the underground comic book scene, with R. Crumb serving as her de facto godfather. During her senior year of high school, a close friend began dating Metallica's Kirk Hammett, who took Richards under his wing and taught her to play several songs on guitar. It was in Hammett's basement that Richards recorded for the first time, creating a demo tape that later made its way into the hands of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Frontman Anton Newcombe invited her to sing with the band, which she did for six months. When asked to tour with the group, however, Richards ultimately declined, stating, "I love this sort of psychedelic, bass-like, Velvet Underground folky stuff, but these guys are so crazy. It was just going to be a rock & roll circus, but in the worst way." She nevertheless remained close with the band, co-writing "(You Better Love Me) Before I Am Gone" for 1997's Give It Back and contributing "Reign On" to Bringing It All Back Home Again in 1999.
After living in a tent in a friend's yard in Los Angeles, Richards befriended a producer who guided her through a second demo recording session, which ultimately secured her a deal with Virgin Records. Her debut album, The Herethereafter, followed in August 2001. Although softer and more delicate than anything by BJM, it was nonetheless influenced by the music of the '60s and alternative sensibilities. The Herethereafter also featured contributions from several veteran L.A. musicians, including Jon Brion, the Smashing Pumpkins' Matt Walker, and members of L.A.'s Beachwood Sparks. Songs from the album were licensed for movies and TV shows, allowing Miranda Lee Richards the freedom to tour for several years before returning to the studio for her follow-up effort, Light of X, which was released on Nettwerk Records in early 2009. In the meantime, she was an active collaborator both live and in the studio, including involvement with Lilith Fair and recording backing vocals for Josh Kelley and the Quarter After.
Aside from a 2012 single called "The Reach," little was heard from Richards until the announcement of her third LP in late 2015. Arriving in early 2016 on Invisible Hands Music, Echoes of the Dreamtime saw Richards adopting a more pronounced lyrical style than her earlier work. With moments of lusher psychedelia, Existential Beast followed quickly behind in mid-2017. ~ JT Griffith & Andrew Leahey, Rovi