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Youngster makes a bold statement with Rosa’s Cantina

Charleston-based duo aims for timelessness and scores

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Charleston duoYoungster just recently released their first full-length Rosa's Cantina, which follows their debut EP from 2015. It's a big step forward for the ace songwriting team of Blake Ratliffe and Daniel Truncellito, and features stellar production by Charleston studio heavyweight Matt Zutell of Coast Records.

They’re swinging through Savannah on Fri., March 29 to celebrate the album’s release, and we spoke to Ratliffe ahead of the gig to find out more about them.

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How did you guys get started? Were y’all in other bands prior to Youngster?

Ratliffe: Yeah. When I first got serious with music, I was probably 17 or 18, and I started a band called Stray Hounds. That was when I lived in Florence, and it was me and a few other guys. We had some cool songs, but never really took off too far with it. I’m 29 now, so this is 10 years ago. Dan, who’s my current songwriting partner in Youngster, was a fan of ours and good friend in Florence.

Then I joined a band called Octopus Jones, but those guys moved up to Raleigh and I stayed back. I wanted to still play music and do my thing, so me and Dan basically started Youngster from there.

The cool thing that I noticed in your music is that you can hear some of the influences, but it feels like a good blend of styles and isn’t easily boxed in. How would you classify what the band does?

That’s a good question - I’ve thought about that a lot. What I’m going for, and what I want, is to make it hard for people to define. I want it to kind of be a lost era sound, like you couldn’t really place it other than the production quality. We have influences from the 70s and 80s, but also a lot from the early 2000s. I want to be somewhere lost in there.

Kind of that sort of thing where you hear a record and it’s hard to tell what era it’s from.

Yeah! I love that. I recently discovered Richard Swift, and when I first heard him I was like, “Wow, this is some old school 70s stuff that I haven’t heard before.” I loved it and I was obsessed with it, and then I saw that it came out in 2015. I was very shocked [laughs].

That idea of creating something timeless and not easily dated is kind of what we could all hope for, and it seems like you’re on that track. Tell me about making this record with [producer Matt] Zutell. What was the process like?

It started before we recorded our first EP with Ryan Zimmerman. We had probably seven or eight songs that we knew we wanted to do something with. We picked out four for the EP, but all of these songs we wrote around that same time. That was released in 2015, and we met up with Matt about a year-and-a-half after that.

We had 10 solid songs and just fleshed them out. It took a little bit longer than we thought, just because of life situations and scheduling, but we’re really happy with the end result and we hope people like it too.

What’s next for you guys? From an outside perspective, this seems like one of those career band type of projects in the sense that it could be your thing for the foreseeable future.

Yeah, I’ll probably put out music as Youngster for a very long time. Alongside Dan as well. I like what it is. I came up with the name probably in 2011 or 2012. I wanted a one-word name that kind of hits really hard.

I enjoy having the freedom of creativity. We’ll see how things shape and form over the years, but I’m excited to see what happens.

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