credit: Min Reid-Richards / design: Blayze Richards
Derrick Boudwin, known as boudwin., is a singer-songwriter with a big dream.
Suffering from a degenerative eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa, boudwin. is losing his eyesight. Before going completely blind, one of his goals was to record a meaningful and world-class rock album with an A-list producer, and to shoot a music video with an A-list director. With the help of multi-platinum certified artist and producer JR Richards and his award-winning film director wife Min Reid-Richards, boudwin. achieved his dreams and his debut album ever dimming room was born.
The singer-songwriter from Salt Lake City released his album on September 3, and we’ve had it on repeat ever since. It’s a rock album with the intention of helping you through difficult times, and it hits you right in the heart with its powerful melodies and lyrics.
With a working title of ‘Things as they really are’, boudwin. wanted to write about real things – no sugar coating, no false hope, no pretension. The majority of the songs are tinged with sadness, reminding you of painful memories, grief or sorrow that you may have experienced. In boudwin.’s words, “I recently learned that by allowing yourself to feel an emotion, giving yourself permission to be sad, or angry, or heartbroken, you are able to move past it.”
His main accomplishment was to help others with music that helped himself. boudwin. has put his heart and soul into the process, and alongside JR and Min, has developed a deep and beautiful record which will hopefully leave a lasting legacy even when he can no longer see the world as it is now………..
We recently spoke to boudwin. about his album, music career and working with JR and Min. Check it out below.
What led you to pursue a career in music?
My wife actually. I used to sing a lot when I was younger, and she wanted to see me put something out there. I’ve always loved to sing. I learned guitar just so I could sing over it, but without her push I wouldn’t have ever done anything about it.
Your new album is called ever dimming room. Can you tell us what we can expect in terms of the songs on the album?
It’s a deep and dynamic album. If anyone comes away saying “All the songs sound the same,” I’ll know they didn’t really listen to it. The depth of each song relates directly to a unique experience I had personally, or someone very close to me. Most of the songs are about difficult things, and they’re all real.
What is your favourite song on the album and why?
I go back and forth but I think it’s “10,000 mistakes.” 10K mistakes is based on a premise that we shouldn’t be afraid of failing, because it’s only after that 10,000th mistake that we arrive, that we’ve figured it all out. That, and it’s such a fun song to sing!
How did you go about choosing the right songs to produce your perfect album?
I had a lot of material to work from, and while working with JR there was a natural progression of some ideas rising above others. I feel like the song choices somewhat evolved on their own.
How do you go about writing your songs?
I keep a journal, usually on the computer because I can’t read my own handwriting. Each experience or idea gets its own file, which is filled with streams of consciousness, possible lyrics, and poignant thoughts that have come to me about that particular thing. When it comes time to try to turn it into a song, looking back over everything, the basic lyrics usually come together pretty quickly and then evolve as different melodies and rhythms come on board. If a song isn’t coming together, then it’s just put back and revisited later. I’ve really learned that you can’t force it; it sounds cliché and childish usually if you do.
In retrospect, is there a song that you’ve written that you wish you had included on the album?
No, actually. The album as a whole felt very complete, like a really good book that you can put down satisfied.
How did the opportunity to work with A list producer JR Richards and A list director Min Reid Richards come about and what was the experience like?
Wow, talk about a dream come true. JR was the original lead singer and songwriter from Dishwalla. His music had a powerful impact on my life. I heard about a pledgemusic campaign he was doing for his “Honore et Amore” and “Stripped” records (which if you haven’t heard them, you should). Suddenly I had a means to contact him. I emailed him to see if he’d be interested in producing a song for me. He called me back and we talked, and 1 song turned into 10. We emailed and skyped back and forth with lyrics and melodies before my family and I flew out to Oxford to record in-studio. He was so down to earth and genuine that it made working with him just amazing. He may say otherwise, but truthfully he’s the reason the record sounds so amazing. You could almost touch his creative genius as it went from guitar to piano to lyric sheets.
Min wasn’t a step behind him either, maybe that’s why they get along so well together. She’d heard me singing almost every day from 9-3 and came up with the most brilliant video idea for ‘ever dimming room’. Her eye for cinematography and style, and her creative imagination and technique were second to none. You put Min and JR in the same room, and magic happens!
Who inspires you within the music world?
I like a variety of music, but what I find inspirational is music that you can personally relate to. Music that expresses so perfectly a way that you’re feeling, and has meaning. There aren’t many artists that have done that for me. JR Richards during and after Dishwalla, Third Eye Blind’s first record, Lifehouse, Better than Ezra, Fuel, and Collective Soul come to mind.
Do your children enjoy listening to your music?
They have almost all of the lyrics memorized. Sometimes I’ll hear my daughter playing with her dolls singing “10,000 mistakes, I’ve made, I’ve made.” They’re probably my biggest fans, and I love it!
It’s widely known that you suffer from Retinitis Pigmentosa, how has this diagnosis affected your career aspirations?
Well, I didn’t end up going into Mechanical Engineering as I had thought I would (I was almost done with school too). It doesn’t place hard limits on many things except driving and differentiating colors. I’ve been in computer engineering for years now, it suits well being able to resize fonts and get as close to the screen as necessary.
If you got the opportunity to collaborate with any other artist who would it be and why?
Well I feel like that bucket list item already got checked off by getting to work with JR. So talented, humble, and creative. Going forward? I think it would be a lot of fun, and very different, to collaborate with a composer like Hans Zimmer, or John Williams.
Do you have any plans to come over to the UK to perform any time soon?
I’ll be back in Oxford around the middle of September. I haven’t lined up any gigs, but I’m hoping to film another music video. England is such the perfect place for it.
Thank you to boudwin. for his time! ever dimming room is available now.