Hurray for the Riff Raff is the brainchild of Alynda Segarra, a singer/songwriter of Puerto Rican descent whose musical imagination was first sparked by hardcore punk while she was a child in the Bronx. Segarra later gravitated toward American roots music, settling in New Orleans around 2007. There, she formed the first incarnation of Hurray for the Riff Raff. Over the course of several independent releases, she honed her voice, playing with several strands of folk music and developing an idiosyncratic, all-encompassing Americana that could be heard on Small Town Heroes, her 2014 debut for ATO Records, and came to full fruition on 2017's The Navigator.
By the time The Navigator saw release in spring of 2017, Segarra had been using the name Hurray for the Riff Raff for a decade. Raised on New York punk and alternative folk, she left home at the age of 17, spending some time hopping trains across America before she wound up in New Orleans. In the Big Easy, she started performing music on the street, eventually playing with the Dead Man Street Orchestra around 2007. She broke away from them quickly, releasing an EP called Crossing the Rubicon that very year. It, like 2008's self-released full length It Don't Mean I Don't Love You, was credited to Hurray for the Riff Raff and, at the time, Segarra was collaborating with bassist David Maclay and drummer/violinist Yosi Pearlstein. These musicians cycled out of the lineup rather quickly, with Segarra firmly established as its central figure after the self-released 2010 album Young Blood Blues.
Segarra compiled highlights from her two self-released records for 2011's Hurray for the Riff Raff, an album that appeared on Loose Music in the spring of 2011. Around this time, Hurray for the Riff Raff began gaining traction, earning play on BBC Radio and getting a write up in The Times. Look Out Mama, a third album funded by Kickstarter and produced by Andrija Tokic, appeared in 2002 -- Loose released it in Europe, and Born to Win did in the U.S. -- it was accompanied in 2013 by a collection of covers called My Dearest Darkest Neighbor.
By this point, all the activity was enough to earn the attention of major labels, and Hurray for the Riff Raff signed with ATO. Small Town Heroes, their first record for the label, appeared in 2014 to good reviews; it earned strong word of mouth over the next two years. During this time, Segarra relocated to Nashville and expanded her vision for Hurray for the Riff Raff on The Navigator, a 2017 concept album that was quasi-autobiographical and partially inspired by David Bowie's The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars. Upon its March 2017 release, the album was greeted with critical praise. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine