Cortez releases his second full-length album ‘Sleeping with
By Sheri Elfman
Dennis Dean Images
Local folk singer/songwriter Richard Cortez has come out
with an album that we can all relate to called “Sleeping
with Strangers.” It takes the listener on a journey that
“explores the darker side of the gay community,” Richard
says. The topics include promiscuous sex, drugs and alcohol,
and the never-ending quest for love in the gay bar scene.
This is Richard’s second full-length studio album since
his 2005 debut, “Craving Something Beautiful.” His other
album is “Live @ the Red Room” and he has an e.p. “He Loves
Besides the compelling lyrics and music, what makes the
album interesting is how it was created – all DIY-style. A
fan, Rick Shafer, sent Cortez $500 to make this album.
Cortez decided to leave South Florida, his home his whole
life, to record and ended up in North Carolina where he
built a home studio. He is joined on “Sleeping with
Strangers” by local musicians who he found on social
To continue with his homemade vibe, he asked fans from
all over the world to send in photos of their unmade beds,
which can be found in the album liner and the packaging of
the download card.
Mark’s List Magazine spoke with the talented singer about
his heart-wrenching lyrics and his new album.
MARK’S LIST MAGAZINE: Your
lyrics sometimes make me worry about you. Is it ever hard
for you to be so raw and open with your feelings?
RICHARD CORTEZ: Music for me is therapy.
It’s my most honest form of myself. Sometimes I shock myself
especially with this sort of project that is so personal and
about my sexual identity and admitting my own problems. Even
the title track “Sleeping With Strangers” was so hard for me
to say. It was in my head for six months and it was hard for
me. I especially worry when it comes to arrangements. In
this album I was very precise at the way I organized every
song. . . it was a make or break project.
I admire that you are so open and have your
heart on your sleeve. Do you think it makes you a better
I think definitely. I think that people identify,
especially in this day and age, with pop music so driven by
beats and production that there needs to be more room for
this honesty. People can identify with it. I was born and
raised in Broward County and grew up as a gay person in a
gay city. It was always inside of me to talk about things.
My mom always encouraged me to be honest. When growing up
she said I don’t care what kind of person you are, just be
honest. It shows that I have a heart.
How do the people you write about react when
they hear what you have to say?
There’s a lot of songs about specific people in this
project. A lot of them know about the songs because I will
play them as I write them and normally I am still in a
relationship with them as I write it. People tend to freak
out a little when they hear you write a song about them. I
tend not to play it for them anymore. Of course, if lyrics
are “Screw you, you’re a douchebag,” of course they react.
How would you describe your style?
Refined and focused. I was still finding out how I
sounded because how you sound is different from what you
hear. At first – I was an acoustic, screamo sort of artist.
Now, it’s more orchestral and experimental, and emerging
more in the experimental rock, but still with a true
acoustic heart. It’s a little edgier and darker. . I’m still
growing as an artist and still continuing to find my sound.
What is the favorite song that you ever
It’s like picking a favorite child – it’s so hard.
There’s something to be said for the title track of my first
record, “Craving Something Beautiful” because it got me so
far. People call it the “smoking pot and watching cartoons
song.” All the new ones are very professional. I sort of
write songs instead of getting tattoos, so when I play them
I remember where I was at.
On this project, it’s “Sleeping With Strangers.” The
lyrics- “sleeping with strangers, but dreaming of you” –
it’s so relevant. This song has opened itself more for more
of an audience. Straight women, gay men, everyone has slept
with a stranger before. A lot of people can identify.
Tell me about what inspires you?
I’ve been such a love song writer for so long. I’m
venturing more into pop music and am listening more to The
Weepies and more artists I’ve found on the internet. Now I’m
writing more about work. About being a blue collared, tired
individual. I’m struggling like everyone else in this
recession. My songs are sort of about a modern day hard
worker. There’s a kick of optimism and hope and strength. I
was always sort of depressive and I want to be a source of
strength and hope. I used to turn to my guitar when I was
upset, but now I like to turn to my guitar no matter what I
are your musical influences?
I love classical and that kind of helped with this
project because of the use of cellos and violins. And my
girls, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Bjork, Ani DiFranco; and Jeff
Buckley, Nick Drake, and The Weepies, like I said. Of course
my heart goes to Joanie and the traditional folk singers of
the ’60s and ’70s – they remind me that I don’t have to
sell out to be a successful musician.
So, I hear you will be playing at the
Heavenly Bodies exhibit during Art Explosion? You’ll be
I will play completely naked. My take on it is that
nudity doesn’t have to be sexual. It’s a celebration of my
honesty. I think that why not? While I’m young and 24 and in
decent shape – why not expose myself to the next level. This
is me. This is how I am. Without any status quo and without
any personal belongings. I’m a healthy young man –
there should be nothing wrong celebrating my nudity,
especially in a creative artist setting.
Tell me about what’s next?
I got an opportunity to share a stage with Cyndi Lauper,
Etta James and Brandy at Milwaukee Pride and I will open for
Gregory Douglas at the Broward Center.
This is a big deal, its still intimidating and makes me
question whether or not I’m good enough and what people will
say. There’s a plan for everyone, everyone has their own
story and I am still writing mine.
“Sleeping with Strangers” is available on itunes,
amazon.com, cdbaby.com and limited edition packaged albums
will be sold exclusively in the "Coffee Talk" @ The Manor.
To download the song “Sleeping with Strangers” for free,