Reid Williams of Dorinda
Reid Williams of Dorinda; Christopher Grady, @grady182

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Another new band, born and bred in the District, is releasing an EP this weekend. Reid Williams, a local indie-rock artist and bassist for Maryland’s Spring Silver, has formed his own band, Dorinda. They plan to release their debut EP, Time, on Saturday, April 1. To celebrate, Dorinda will headline a sold-out release show at the Pocket that same night. Spring Silver and Rex Pax will open.

“I’m stoked,” Williams tells City Paper. “These people are so talented, and I’m excited to celebrate the EP with my friends.”

Williams has been part of the local music scene for years. Before creating Dorinda, he fronted the band Cool Baby, which dates back to 2015 and his junior year of high school. Even when he was going to college in Asheville, North Carolina, he still came back during school breaks to play with the band. But that project came to an end in 2019 due to a falling out among friends, which caused Williams to deal with immense stress. The band’s breakup and the stress that came with it led to new music, which he would eventually incorporate into Dorinda.

“I think in between Cool Baby and Dorinda, I lost a little bit of my fire,” he says. “This band put a little bit of a battery in my back.”

The end of Cool Baby forced Williams to consider possibly moving to a different music scene, especially since he was still attending school in North Carolina. But ultimately, he decided to return to Prince George’s County because the music scene in D.C., he says, is more in line with what he wants in a creative community.

“When I was thinking about where to go, I remembered how diverse the D.C. music scene was,” Williams says. “It’s not just indie rock at all these shows, and that’s something I value in a DIY scene.”

Though Williams considers Dorinda’s music to be indie rock, he also believes the band explores more than one genre. Their sound incorporates elements of hip-hop, jazz, and soul. Likewise, his bandmates don’t play their instruments in the typical indie-rock style, keybass player Ian Donaldson says. While Williams keeps the main guitar sound similar to what you’d hear in classic rock, the keybass, drums, and cello help diversify Dorinda’s live performances. “There’s a dynamic feel that’s super fun, and the EP that’s about to come out is even more like that,” Donaldson says. “It’s a super cool blend of hip-hop and indie rock.”

Williams credits artists such as King Krule, James Blake, and Still Woozy for influencing his writing process. And there’s also local collaboration. Featuring other D.C. artists is one of the ways Williams incorporates different genres into his sound. One track on the EP features vocals from D.C. rapper WiFiGawd, who Williams paid to record his voice atop the song Williams wrote.

“There are so many cool things happening in every genre that I feel like I’m always going to mix them together,” Williams explains.

Regarding the themes and message of the Time EP, Williams is trying at all costs to avoid making the kind of music he listened to when he was young. Although he still listens to groups such as Nirvana, he’s wary of glorifying self-destructive behavior like drug use.

“There was so much toxicity that was portrayed as cool when I was a kid and it really messed me up,” Williams says. “People were glorifying all this stuff that was ruining my life.”

When it comes to making his own music, Williams wants to write songs that go in the opposite direction tonally while conveying a more positive message.

“I have a really strong appreciation for his songwriting,” drummer Frankie Krause says. “It comes from a wholesome and genuine place.”

“I’ve known [Williams’] songwriting since Cool Baby, and he’s one of the best songwriters I’ve ever met,” adds Donaldson. “So many young people are dealing with mental health issues, and his music is something I feel a lot of them can identify with.”

K Nkanza of Spring Silver, who Williams says encouraged him to write music and start his own project, has heard Dorinda’s music in both its live and recorded versions. They describe the EP as sounding very different from Dorinda’s live shows because the band have incorporated more synth-driven sounds, such as drum machines, into their usual mix of instruments. Dorinda’s live performances, on the other hand, have more of a hard rock ’n’ roll edge, Nkanza says, while also offering a softer R&B side. Nkanza also thinks it’s fitting that Williams is writing optimistic music. 

“I think [Williams] is someone who is reaching for positivity in a world that is filled with turmoil,” Nkanza says. “I admire how earnest he is.”

Williams is particularly interested in the reaction to the EP’s title track, “Time,” which is about loving someone, but knowing you’re not ready for a relationship. The album overall is about healing and learning to love others and yourself, which strikes a personal chord with Williams as someone who lived a destructive life as a kid.

Williams is dedicating Time to his mother, the band’s namesake, who is suffering from dementia. She was an actress when she was young, and Williams calls her the most creative one in the family. His mother continues to be an inspiration for him to write music and express himself.

“I think my mom would like to see me doing these things,” Williams says. “A lot of my creativity comes from her, so it feels right to name the band after her.”

Williams will continue to play bass for Spring Silver as he launches his own band. And he’ll actually perform with Spring Silver during Saturday’s EP release show. With help from his bandmates, Williams says the juggling act is going smoothly. Nkanza provides Spring Silver members’ parts via Google Drive, and they require minimal live practices, so Williams has the time to rehearsal with Dorinda. “How it stands now, everything is smooth sailing,” Williams says.

I love being the bassist for Spring Silver,” Williams adds. “The gigs are a lot of fun, and I love hanging out with the band. It’s been a great privilege to play music with them.”

Dorinda is looking forward to performing their new music at the Pocket for their release show. Afterward, Williams has even bigger plans, including possibly recording a full-length album. But more so, he hopes to inspire anyone who is interested in making music but hasn’t yet found the right motivation.

“I hope more people take a crack at it,” Williams says. “I think anyone can do this, and I hope they realize that when they see us.”

Dorinda, with openers Spring Silver and Rex Pax, perform at 8 p.m. on April 1 at the Pocket. $15. Sold out. Time will be available on all streaming platforms beginning April 1.