Taking a Look Inside Richard Orofino’s Hardened Outer Shell

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Richard Orofino is a talented singer-songwriter and producer based in Brooklyn. He began writing and producing music in 2013 and has since honed his skills in piano, drums, and guitar. Orofino’s music is heavily influenced by a range of artists, including Sade, Elliott Smith, New Order, and Cocteau Twins. He has created a diverse catalog of music that showcases his unique artistic vision and sound. “SPELL” and “Chimaera,” have continued to evolve his sound, blending elements of pop, grunge, and acoustic music. In 2022, Orofino released several singles that are the backbone of his “Forging A Hardened Outer Shell” EP, including Bending, Superstar, and Johnnycakes. His most recent release, “Heart Splat,” is a catchy pop song with grunge aesthetics that was co-written and produced with Gabe Wax.


Richard Orofino’s music is a testament to his versatility as a singer-songwriter and producer. His songs cover a wide range of lyrical topics, and his sound touches multiple genres, yet they all blend together harmoniously, maintaining a cohesive sound that is both distinctive and accessible to a wide audience.


“I really had just been going through so many phases in my life while writing and creating the music on this thing. Probably the most chaotic, heavenly, drastic changes in a short period of time I’d ever experienced in my life went down. It felt like I was switching my face with my criminal self’s face like in the movie Face/Off with John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. I got to work with friends on some of it which always makes it special and feel like something I never would’ve been able to do on my own.”


We inspected all six tracks in this beautiful EP, and we’d love to break it down for you as a companion piece. Here goes:




There’s only one chance to make a first impression, and whether you’re a fan or you’re new to his music, this EP takes your time and attention investment seriously by bringing out something immediately captivating for the first track. The first few seconds of “I Hope So” are full of wonder and unexpected exuberance from Richard’s guitar riffs, which are fresh and buoyant, eventually blending in deeply with the entrancing beat.


Came about with my friend Christian Taylor. It’s supposed to feel like shrinking and squishing and squeezing while also being glittery and sparkly. Like wanting to wear another person’s face like in the movie Face/Off. We tracked the vocals at half speed and then brought them back up to the original b.p.m. so I sound really weird, little, and excited on the recording. It reminds me a lot of Face/Off (1997) starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage in that we all have both an agent and a criminal inside of us.”


This track presents an interesting duality. The music itself is cool and inviting, offering this tranquil mood that speaks to your soul as if saying “let go.” Meanwhile, the lyrics seem to describe feelings of an oppressive alienation brought about by a seemingly inescapable situation.




The second song on the row is yet another interesting duality, this time much more incorporated into the inherent soundscape of the song. This track feels heavier and darker in an almost eerie kind of way. The grungy guitar and hazy rhythm give off a strangely retro aura, while the basic child-like melody of the synth becomes the hypnotic trigger that makes this song so fascinating and one of the strongest on the record.


One peculiarity I’d like to mention is the artwork for this particular single really caught my attention, and one cursory look at Richard’s Instagram shows small amounts of evidence that my hunch may be correct. I think the art is a subtle nod to Michael Kirkbride’s artwork for TESIII: Morrowind.




This gets a bit deeper into the overall mood proposed by Bending, though it is not necessarily “darker” as such, instead, it is much more melancholic and even imposing, thanks to the ponderous and imposing beat. The quiet acoustic guitar riff reminded me a lot of Elliot Smith’s work.


The lyrics seem to deal with a lot of pain and confusion brought about by a romantic breakup, but they also deal with misplaced longing and unhelpful denial, recognizing that there’s a form of self-sabotage going on when we refuse to move on. 



This song feels like a natural progression out of ‘Heart Splat’ and I believe they make a perfect little duo, in fact, it’s fair to say that everything in the EP has flowed beautifully seamlessly, which is where the cohesiveness of Richard’s sound jumps out of you so strongly.




This one is difficult to interpret, and in many ways, it feels like the most straightforward grungy ballad in the EP. Lyrically it could mean just about anything, from an oblique reference to a love of fantasy to a confessional tale about missing someone. 


The song describes a “dragon slayer” who can cut through armor and walls, possibly indicating a desire to overcome obstacles or challenges.  Overall, the song could be interpreted as an exploration of desire, challenge, and the struggle for connection, something that has been a bit of a running theme throughout the record




Though I’ve used the term “grungy” to describe a lot of what the sound has been so far, I think it’s fair to bring both “beautiful” and “tender” up because that’s also been a strong component in Richard’s work here, and no song in the EP represents those two qualities best than “Johnnycakes” with its starlit synth work layered on top of the growly guitar textures. 


Lyrics-wise, the song is largely about expressing love and desire for someone, and the emotions that come with that love. The opening lines express a desire to protect and care for the other person, wanting to “tuck you in at night.” The person then describes something special that will last, even if they don’t, indicating a sense of impermanence and the importance of enjoying the present moment


The final lines express a feeling of sadness about leaving the other person, but also a sense of intimacy and connection. Richard then describes feeling overwhelmed by the other person’s influence and needing help. The final line could be interpreted as a metaphor for the deep emotions and desires that he is experiencing, but also a recognition that these emotions are private and should not be shared with others, something that feels incredibly meta and complex in the general context of this already deeply personal record.


For my closing thoughts, I can easily say that Orofino’s work here is not to be taken lightly, it is gorgeous through and through and offers one of the richest and most unique listening experiences you can have right now. His vocals are simultaneously vulnerable and sharp, while his sound is a mixture between brooding and enchanting that very few artists will even attempt to strike. Don’t sit this one out!




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