Mystery Pills
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Mystery Pills

Rapid City, South Dakota, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Rapid City, South Dakota, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo Rock Pop

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

May
23
Mystery Pills @ Total Drag

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA

May
21
Mystery Pills @ Kitty Cat Club

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Nov
27
Mystery Pills @ Ernie November's

Rapid City, SD

Rapid City, SD

Music

Press


I was sent over a new track from upcoming act Mystery Pills the other day that’s been an uplifting source of jilted pop during a gloomy week (weather wise, not election wise). The brainchild of South Dakotan Raj Dawson, “Anti-Patterns” appears to pull influence from all over the spectrum. The organic instrumentation and melodies remind me of Spoon on Quaaludes, while the infusion of glitchy keyboards and synth sounds like Wolf Parade on a cotton candy binge. Mmm, Quaaludes and cotton candy! Somebody’s on the right track for a fun Wednesday night. Add in that fact that his vocal delivery has the pop tinged appeal of Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett and there’s a lot going on here making Mystery Pills worth digesting. - I Guess I'm Floating


4. Mystery Pills - Raj Dawson was born on the east side of the state but has spent most of his time in Rapid City, closer to the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore than the flat plains. In 2010, he adopted the name Mystery Pills for his guitar-and-synth-driven basement pop, recording his first songs in a Rapid City bank vault. He followed up his debut EP with the single “Anti-Pattern” last November. - Paste Magazine


- What is Mistery Pills and who is behind it?
Mystery Pills is me (Raj) and whomever else I can find to collaborate with.

- Who is Raj Dawson?
Like, as a person? I'm a dude who's feeling slight effects of age and geographic isolation, but is trying hard to remain optimistic and enthusiastic.

- What got you into music? How and when does MP borns?
I always really liked music as a kid and found my way into the local music scene in high school. I was really into metal and talked my mom into buying me a bass guitar because it seemed less intimidating than learning metal drums or metal guitar. But I wasn't good/stoned enough to be in a metal band and there were a lot of smart, creative people in the punk scene that I'd become friends with, so I ended up playing music with them, which was really for the best.

Not sure about "borns" - when did Mystery Pills start? Mystery Pills started in January 2010 as a New Year's resolution I was in another more traditional band and was having problems finding people because I was moving around, so I scrapped the record I was working on in favor of something that I could possibly perform live alone (or at least with fewer people). It hasn't really even worked out that well in terms of playing shows, but that was the idea.

- We have heard some of your tunes and we really like them, any date for your next EP or debut album?
No firm date, but I've got about 20 songs I'm working on for 2013.

- Some people compares your music with The XX, what do you think of that?
I haven't listened to The XX a lot - I'm checking them out on Spotify right now. The guitars and drums on their first album sound a little similar to our EP I guess. As a band they're less urgent and have way more soul and ambiance though. Their second album seems more lush and pretty. I'm flattered that people draw that comparison - these records sound really good - but I hope XX fans who like Mystery Pills aren't expecting anything like that from us. Our new stuff is dry, staccato, bleepy and less mellow.

- Whats the present of Mistery pills? And the future?
I'm working with a friend on a bunch of new songs at the moment. We're probably 3/4 of the way done writing and are gearing up to start playing some shows this spring. We'll have some new demos recorded by then as well. Maybe those will turn into an album? Not sure exactly how yet.

- If you could only pick one festival around the world to play in, which one would it be?
Tough call, but Primavera Sound would be amazing. I'd get on a plane to Barcelona, no problem. - Indiessette (Barcelona)


A quick follow up to a post we did on Mystery Pills back in May. The South Dakotan new-waver has his proven staying power with his syncopated upbeat single, “Anti-Pattern”. Download the track HERE and enjoy… - New Dust


It’s been a while since a pure indie rock band has registered on my radar. I’m talking no frills, gimmicks, nor significant Americana/folk/electronic influence (think along the lines of Arcade Fire, The National, or Wolf Parade). Thankfully, Mystery Pills has come along to fill this void. This one-man band (Raj Dwason) from South Dakota creates a bursting sound by recording riffs and looping them through his keyboard. Combined with strong vocals, Mystery Pills display’s some serious skills and should easily be thrown into the mix of rising stars. - Fresh Sound Shakedown


It’s been a while since a pure indie rock band has registered on my radar. I’m talking no frills, gimmicks, nor significant Americana/folk/electronic influence (think along the lines of Arcade Fire, The National, or Wolf Parade). Thankfully, Mystery Pills has come along to fill this void. This one-man band (Raj Dwason) from South Dakota creates a bursting sound by recording riffs and looping them through his keyboard. Combined with strong vocals, Mystery Pills display’s some serious skills and should easily be thrown into the mix of rising stars. - Fresh Sound Shakedown


I was sent over a new track from upcoming act Mystery Pills the other day that’s been an uplifting source of jilted pop during a gloomy week (weather wise, not election wise). The brainchild of South Dakotan Raj Dawson, “Anti-Patterns” appears to pull influence from all over the spectrum. The organic instrumentation and melodies remind me of Spoon on Quaaludes, while the infusion of glitchy keyboards and synth sounds like Wolf Parade on a cotton candy binge. Mmm, Quaaludes and cotton candy! Somebody’s on the right track for a fun Wednesday night. Add in that fact that his vocal delivery has the pop tinged appeal of Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett and there’s a lot going on here making Mystery Pills worth digesting. - I Guess I'm Floating


This week from Rapid City, Raj Dawson from Mystery Pills joins On Record to talk about his new EP. The Boston Phoenix recently included Mystery Pills in this year's installment of their 50 Bands 50 States feature. - South Dakota Public Broadcasting


Multi-instrumentalist Raj Dawson writes minimal pop songs under the moniker Mystery Pills — and according to his Web site — he records them inside a bank vault in downtown Rapid City. His self-released, self-titled EP boasts clean-sounding guitars, a few electronic touches, and plenty of hooks. The video for the EP’s opening track, “The Glass Traditions,” features scenic black-and-white shots of the barren South Dakota countryside. They’re interspersed with clips of Dawson piecing the song together — holding a guitar, playing piano, looping effects — appropriately subtle visuals for the sweeping, layered sounds. Toward the end of the video, in a Dorothy-we’re-not-in-South-Dakota-anymore twist, the black-and-white images suddenly change to Technicolor. The shift reflects the song’s wide-eyed hopefulness, and suggests that there’s a deep connection between Dawson’s landlocked address and the intimate quality of his music.

_Patrick McDermott - The Boston Phoenix


In the ranks of unhelpful press bios, Mystery Pills’ ranks right up there: “For a few years he moved around the country, ate some food and learned all kinds of important stuff.” So coy! But at least he was eating.

The “he” in question is Raj Dawson, a South Dakota native and Virgo (we’re reliably informed that he also has brown eyes), and his song “The Glass Traditions” is excellent in inverse proportion to his press bio. He plays a lean, chugging guitar riff over a bare-bones beat, and sings in a voice that is intensely riveting. The song is beautifully written — the way he adds and subtracts instruments throughout is masterful — and sounds more like the work of a deeply collaborative band than the creation of just one guy.

“The Glass Traditions” is the opening track on Mystery Pills’ forthcoming self-titled EP, to be self-released March 13. - Listen Dammit


Even on the most dilated summer evenings of my youth I had little desire to take mysterious, unnamed pharmaceuticals. I did, however, want to make ridiculous any common structures of authority, and I assuredly did so in the most obvious, inept way possible. So the concept of Mystery Pills, the moniker of Raj Dawson, and his title single, "The Glass Traditions" seem inexorably linked. They both suggest a darkness, a youthful disdain for established norms and social mores, the kind that reads, "Do not operate heavy machinery" with excitement not trepidation, and that this brand of blind, thoughtless immortality is what always changes the world. This is the spectral absurd in this youthful bit of lo-fi from Rapid City. At its biggest, it is small. The drum machine could easily be by necessity, not choice. The aesthetic is a less syrupy Youth Lagoon, but the dare, the one from the beginning, is the important one. Dawson confides in the chorus, "I don't want to ask forgiveness", a line that will end up rhyming with the title lyric. In essence, give me whatever is in your hand, we're going out to break anything that can be broken. - 32 ft/second


I recently came across Mystery Pills, the moniker for South Dakota native Raj Dawson, and was instantly impressed. Armed with only his 6-string and an mpc, Dawson echoes shades of The XX with his dreamy sound and upbeat percussion. He released his self titled debut EP last month, and every track is solid. My personal favorite, "The Glass Traditions" begins with a simple progression, and evolves into a melodic, layered track. Probably the most impressive part of the song is when Dawson loops his verse, and plays a fantastic lead piece over the top. In "Mayfield Station", Raj spills his guts in a track that begs the question, how did he do that by himself? Give this a listen. - Doses Of Dopeness


Mystery Pills is the working moniker of Raj Dawson, a South-Dakota native with a penchant for lo-fi pop. He began recording around 2010, and finally released his self-titled EP in March of 2012. His chosen pseudonym lends itself to a sense of youthful carelessness, which turns out to be quite concordant with his dreamy, minimalistic sound. Dawson’s voice is suprisingly riveting, vaguely resembling that of Sam Roberts. With pulsing, synthesized beats and melodic guitar riffs, Mystery Pills has the electro-pop sensibilities of Foster The People, while still managing to combine folk and even punk-rock elements.
This particular song, The Glass Traditions, is off Dawson’s debut EP. It’s a dark and ethereal track, which starts off with extremely bare instrumentation, but slowly builds into something quite powerful. The intensity in his vocals ranges, from a monotonous delivery in the first verse to an intense plea in the brilliant chorus. The sense of disdain and defiance which is hinted at in his stage name becomes ever so clear with lines like: “I don’t wanna ask forgiveness / They’ll try to sell the facts for fiction / Cuz I was never that deliberate / Shattering the glass traditions“. - Humming Burg


South Dakota native Raj Dawson, otherwise known under his project name Mystery Pills, released a video for the EP track The Glass Traditions. The song finds Dawson playing driving guitar over a simple beat with instrumentation layered in between. Add vocals that bring just the right amount of pop and you would never know that it is one person creating the sound. - My Old Kentuky Blog


Well it is lo-fi and it’s from the USA couldn’t really be any-one else than an introduction from other than the superlative Banterman and my fantasy girl Karen. Much as I ponder her… anyway, Dawson – reminds me of a guitarist who lives locally. Same surname, but unlike Raj, though he could equally play in the market and in fact he is quite a tender guy. Lives in the world of roofing and although he would love to become a sommelier, whilst crafting a life in the music business, you will still find hacking up and down ladders laying rooves as his dreams lie burning with the waste at the end of the day. So sad, so many highly capable and able musicians never have the hand or courage to make their wings fly. But enough of Karen and Dawson, let’s look at, Mystery Pills.
The simplicity of the recording space is riven with the sophistication of the out-put as flowing in to the garden, yes for once I am out-side as I type, flows to the fences and wraps the sunlight in a rolling amber tinted reflector. At once sharper but simultaneously I can feel an emotional tint to the light. Many times lo-fi recordings vastly out-score hi-tech mixing for context, but rarely does lo-fi outscore hi-tech in sophistication. Mystery Pills has everything that you need to hear in an anxiety riven reflective of the world in which we lie. - Indie Bands Blog


On his website, South Dakotan Raj Dawson gives these descriptors for a music video he shot for “Glass Traditions”, the opening track on his eponymous EP under the moniker Mystery Pills: ““kind of dizzying,” “not super exciting,” and “nice to look at…”. The out-the-window shot of the landscape rambling by certainly fits those terms, and they’re not too far away from the music on the EP either, though there are moments that are pretty damn exciting.
At times, the five tracks on Mystery Pills sound like the bedroom recordings of a collaboration between The xx and Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner. Dawson’s compositions work with the slinky guitars and insistent rhythms of the former, and his heartfelt, wild-eyed delivery echoes the latter. The opening track accomplishes this slick feat particularly well, electronic drums and shimmery tambourine providing the background for multiple layers of sinuous guitar slides. As if those two comparisons didn’t put him in good enough company, the vocals in the verses are reminiscent of The National’s “Anyone’s Ghost”.

But to chalk up the success of the EP to sounding like other artists would be to dismiss the haunted beauty that Dawson does so well. Though crooning that “it’s the worst I’ve felt in a while” on “Mayfield Station” isn’t anything groundbreaking, the delivery more than makes up for things, the tried and true sentiment delivered in a pitch-perfect yowling sigh. The clacking percussion and staccato guitar picking dance around his intonations, the whole thing an attempt to put the past in the rearview. That focus on the necessity of movement continues on “Valentudinarian”, Dawson insisting that “you can’t just wait until it’s over” over choppy piano, heady timpani, and lingering guitars. Nothing on Mystery Pills just happens but instead happens on a continuum, every point connected to plenty of others.

Though there are only five tracks on this EP, it’s an experience that bodes well for the future of Mystery Pills. Dawson crafts tunes that linger in dark emotional corners, analyzing tough times and thinking aloud at how those times came to be. The analysis isn’t wallowing, though, as his ability to counterpoint these low moments with startlingly evocative rhythms and melodies call out for a full-length follow-up.

Essential Tracks: “Glass Traditions”, “Valentudinarian” - Consequence of Sound


Discography

Mystery Pills (EP) - release date: March 13, 2012

Photos

Bio

Raj Dawson has spent the majority of his life in Rapid City, SD.  In high school he starting hanging out in basements and playing loud music for fun, not profit because he was punk as fuck. For a few years he moved around the country and paid good money to learn and forgot all kinds of important stuff like physics and how to follow directions.  He started recording alone as Mystery Pills in 2010 inside a bank vault in downtown Rapid City with a sampler, a guitar, and his lungs/mouth.  

"The organic instrumentation and melodies remind me of Spoon on Quaaludes, while the infusion of glitchy keyboards and synth sounds like Wolf Parade on a cotton candy binge." - I Guess I'm Floating

"The five tracks on Mystery Pills sound like the bedroom recordings of a collaboration between The xx and Wolf Parades Dan Boeckner. Dawsons compositions work with the slinky guitars and insistent rhythms of the former, and his heartfelt, wild-eyed delivery echoes the latter." - Consequence of Sound

"Its been a while since a pure indie rock band has registered on my radar. Im talking no frills, gimmicks, nor significant Americana/folk/electronic influence (think along the lines of Arcade Fire, The National, or Wolf Parade)." - Fresh Sound Shakedown