VCU grads & Bio Ritmo singer collaborate on Netflix’s “Small Crimes” soundtrack

by | Jun 9, 2017 | MUSIC

Whenever we hear about those in RVA’s music scene going on to do bigger and better projects, it always makes our hearts sing, if you’ll excuse the pun.

Former Richmonders and VCU alum, Brooke and Will Blair, are set to release their soundtrack to Netflix’s “Small Crimes” today.

“Small Crimes” , which premiered in April, tells the story of former police officer Joe Denton, who after serving time in prison for attempted murder of an attorney general returns home looking for redemption.

The “Blair Brothers”, now based in Philly, were asked by director Evan Katz, who co-wrote the script with their older brother Macon, to bring together an eclectic score for the film. The duo are no stranger to eclectic; they are behind the scores for “Blue Ruin,” “Green Room” and “I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore.”

“Because we got to play with so many musicians from old friends from Richmond, friends from Philadelphia, so many different collaborators from different periods in our musical life, this one feels special,” Will said. “I think we captured the sound of a lot of friends collaborating together on a very specific project.”

The award-winning duo got their start dabbling in music growing up in Alexandria. Only born a year and a half a part, they were both undergrads at VCU in the late ‘90s.

Late in their college career, the brothers would get their real start in the RVA music scene when they joined the band Infectious Organisms. They performed with the band for about seven years, touring all around and even opening for Outkast.

Will said he remembers VCU and their hometown of Alexandria being places full of diversity, making Richmond a hotspot for different styles of music.

“We grew up playing rock and roll and by the time we got into Richmond, we played a lot of hip-hop music,” Will said. “We were exploring plenty of different genres while we were playing music down there. Some films only have one set of sounds, one palette of music, and are all a cohesive sort of thing, but Evan (Katz) wanted all sorts of sounds, influences, and genres flowing together.”

Will said some of his classes he took at VCU as a music major pushed him to explore music he otherwise might not have, like jazz and Latino, which helped when they were putting this 20-song soundtrack together.

With such a wide range of music needed for the “Small Crimes” soundtrack, which ranges from jazz to psychedelia, the Blairs knew they’d need to collaborate with other musicians on certain songs.

“We were faced with a salsa song,” Brooke said. “We knew we needed help as far as writing some lyrics in Spanish. We started asking around in Philadelphia to see if anyone knew someone we could collaborate with and an old VCU friend said, ‘Why don’t you reach out to the Bio Ritmo guy?’ So, that’s how Rei came about.”

Rei Alvarez has been in Richmond on and off since 1986, originally coming here for art school at VCU. Alvarez is the lead singer, lyricist, composer, and visual artist for RVA-based band Bio Ritmo.

Bio Ritmo’s bass player, Eddie Pendergast, was a mutual friend between The Blair Brothers and Alvarez. He played a key role in getting the musicians together.

Alvarez had never written music for a film before, but said he was excited to take on the project. He collaborated with the brothers on the Latin-fusion song “Conquista y Poder.” 

“I put it together real quick,” Alvarez said. “I wrote some lyrics in a few hours. I made a really rough recording and (the Blairs) seemed to really like it and the whole idea behind the lyrics. I based it off the feeling of being alone. I wrote it having to do with a battle between conflict and power.”

Alvarez said he pays special attention to the lyrics when he’s songwriting.

“I take care with my lyrics and try to pertain them to something, not always a lofty idea but something we can all relate to.”

The complete “Small Crimes” soundtrack is being released through The Blair Brothers’ own label Wayfind Records and will be available on all streaming outlets like Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, and more this Friday.

Lana Ferguson

Lana Ferguson

Lana recently graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in journalism. She served as editor-in-chief for the university newspaper, The Daily Mississippian, her final year there. She is a Mechanicsville native, but her work has taken her all over the United States' Southern region, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Sri Lanka. When Lana's not in the office or on an interview, she's probably with her black lab Cooper, eating local food, or seeking adventure elsewhere.

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