Exclusive Interview With Arizona’s CloudPainter


Lush acoustics, soothing harmonies, vocals that will instantly evoke mirages – all of this is captured in CloudPainter’s debut single “Love Come Down”. The band proudly emerges from the Arizona desert, founded by frontmen Liz Painter (vocals/keys/guitar) and RJ Cloud (vocals/guitar/keys), joined by Steve Smith (guitar/bass) and Josh Sailor (percussion/drums). “Love Come Down” marks the band’s official debut since Painter and Cloud reunited after years of pursuing solo careers. RJ Cloud is the co-inventor of the world-famous Cloud Microphones and has over the years accumulated a vast portfolio of pieces; meanwhile, Liz Painter is well-known for her heartfelt performances and concerts along with several full-length albums including Home Before Dark, What If…, and Perfect Girl.
We’ve had the pleasure to chat with CloudPainter about “Love Come Down”, trends and the future of music, and much more!

Congratulations on releasing your new single “Love Come Down, we loved the song! Tell us more about your inspiration for such a unique track.

Thank you, we’re so glad you enjoyed it! Love Come Down was inspired by the story of how we originally met in Tucson, and how sharing creativity among a new circle created lifelong friendships. As time passed, we soon felt like life and love would carry us all away from each other, but the bonds of these friendships only continued to deepen. The chorus, “Is love gonna come down and carry you away someday, do you believe we can fly through a beautiful sky?” reflects a feeling of hope that our lives and individual paths would come full circle. (Liz Painter)

You’ve recorded the song adopting both old and modern techniques! What do you think about the latest evolution of the music industry and where do you think it’s heading with all the new emerging technology and AI?

There is an ease of use that comes with today’s innovations and this can empower creativity and allow artists to capture ideas more quickly. But, there is also a deep beauty that comes from recording sound in acoustic spaces with classic microphones and outboard gear. It’s truly wonderful that recording is now accessible to almost anyone, but character and sonic quality sometimes is sacrificed in the process. I believe it is important to find the balance. We use classic microphones, our own modernized Cloud ribbon mics, vintage instruments, and also modern instruments when appropriate. We pay special attention to the analog-to-digital conversion process because CloudPainter is all about capturing the richness and beauty of the sound with absolute clarity and precision. Bringing analog instruments and gear into the digital domain gives us the best of both worlds.
As for AI, I think it’s really important that we don’t forget how to think for ourselves and use these new tools to further our creativity. Perhaps AI will assist in solving humanity’s greatest challenges. The tools themselves aren’t necessarily “good” or “bad,” it depends on how people use them. (RJ Cloud)

What does it feel like to be compared to legends like Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd?

It is very flatting indeed! Pink Floyd’s drummer Nick Mason is an artist that I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know through Cloud Microphones. I have always enjoyed Pink Floyd, seeing them live was deeply inspirational. Their music is so rich with tone, while their lyrics have incredible depth and meaning. They have always been a huge influence.

Liz draws inspiration from great singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchel, David Crosby, and Chrissy Hynde of the Pretenders. Our listeners sometimes compare us to Fleetwood Mac, perhaps in part by our harmonies and Male/Female lead vocal sound. It’s humbling and awesome hearing our fans also express that CloudPainter’s sound speaks to them with fresh originality that really is its own thing. (RJ Cloud)

Can you describe your collaborative process? How is the chemistry between the band members?

Truly a joy! We have a lot of fun and play off each other’s ideas with a great deal of enthusiasm. The process between RJ and I has always been engaging, with one idea spurring another. Adding Steve Smith (bass) and Josh Sailor (drums) takes it to another level. Steve’s a seasoned session player and brings a lot of character to the music. And Josh always lays down a great feeling groove that really opens things up. He has played on several top 40 songs, and he still sits in with indie and up and coming jazz and R&B artists that come to town. Our collaboration as a band is dynamic and creative and the results often exceed our expectations. CloudPainter is really fun and we are having a great time doing what we love. What more could we ask for? (Liz Painter)

What were your sessions at the Discovery Gallery like?

The Discovery Gallery had hundreds of exotic instruments, mostly percussion. We would play and create songs with musicians and singers who drifted through Tucson and inevitably wound up at that special place. Most of us were from somewhere else and had recently settled in the Arizona desert. It was very free-form and educational. We would play, sometimes record, and then go to the rooftop to watch epic Arizona sunsets. It was a spark, igniting a passion and creative energy within each of us that continues to flourish. (Liz Painter)

Why did you decide to build a recording studio in Arizona and how does that enable you to better create music?

It’s a research and development studio built around the idea of inspiring creativity, as well as product design for Cloud Microphones. The only way to know what we have in our designs is to experience the gear in the context of capturing authentic music the way artists do. So we use an assortment of iconic mics and gear as a measure of where the Cloud products fit in, compared to the classics. This has inspired us to create meaningful music, which is really the point of designing great recording microphones and gear. By consistently using the prototypes of mics and gear we create at Cloud, we are able to know which ones will make recording more intuitive and sonically rewarding for other artists. (RJ Cloud)

Can you tell us more about your startup Cloud Music, LLC? How did you come up with the idea and what do you hope to achieve with it?

In 2019, I had the good fortune of connecting with Cathy Heller of Catch the Moon Music, and I took her course “Six Figure Songwriting.” It was totally inspirational! As I began to develop relationships with music supervisors, sync agents and artists, the desire to license music for sync in film and TV led to the creation of our startup, Cloud Music. We envision growing the catalog and now are bringing in other artists, producers and songwriters in order to help connect a wider variety of music with new audiences. (Liz Painter)