Jenn Rawling and Basho Parks make music that is subtle and sweet and full of the joys of a spring walk in a woodland, so New Adventures In Hi-Fi jumped at the chance to find out what makes them tick. After a review of their debut album Take The Air, here’s what they had to say…
– How did you two first meet?
We met in band rehearsal for a friend’s album release show in April 2010. Jenn was a backup singer in the band, and Basho was one of the string players.
– Whose idea was it to form a musical duo?
It happened in a pretty organic fashion. We started playing songs on Jenn’s front porch for a while, but duo music was put on hold so we could play with band Fast Rattler for a year and a half. We didn’t get serious about the duo project until late July of 2011. Things’ve been whirlwind the past six months. We hit the studio in September 2011, had a successful Kickstarter Campaign in November, put the album out on December 21st, 2011, and got signed by Waterbug in early February 2012!
– You were apparently both recovering from wrist injuries, how did that weird coincidence come about?
Jenn had suffered severe tendinitis for a decade following major ceramic arts work. Basho broke both his wrists in a bicycle/car accident eight years ago. We didn’t start making music seriously again until last summer due to those wrist injuries.
– There’s a really ‘natural’ theme to the lyrics and the feel of the music, how difficult was it to capture that in a studio?
The studio had windows overlooking the magnificent cascade mountain range and a lake, with abundant flora and fauna to be seen at any given time. We also set up little altars when recording to feel more at home. Finding a happy place wasn’t so difficult!
– How important are the string instruments in creating that feel, which works so well on the album?
The strings arrangements added a lot of classical feel to the songs. Violin and viola are Basho’s first instruments, so his voice is partly conveyed through those bowed pieces. We’re keen on developing more string arrangements in future songs, but will still strive to maintain the sparse integrity of the song essence no matter what.
– What kind of music inspired you when making it?
We were listening to “Liege and Lief” by Fairport Convention a lot. Lucky Brown’s “Space Dream” album was in regular rotation. Seeing Mavis Staples perform live when we played at Kate Wolf Fest as well as Pickathon last summer, so she was certainly figuring prominently at the time. Pokey LaFarge & the South City Three as well as Petunia & the Vipers were hugely impacting. Phoebe Snow toward the end.
– What else was an inspiration?
With each song, we tried to fill in the negative space of our minds, in a visual arts sense. There was a real vested effort to honour ourselves as artists, and find our own voice within the musical world. Genre parameters were intentionally skewed to allow freedom of development on the album’s over all theme. Our suffering and perseverance as human beings played a huge part in the voice of the album.
– Your location seems to have been important in the writing of the album, will you be writing while on tour and what effect do you think that will have?
We hope to keep writing on the road. Songwriting is a part of our daily lives, and we plan on having down-time between venues to continue creating. That said, we’re currently working on material to record a second album this late fall or early winter.
– Is there any chance you might swap the RV for a plane and head over to the UK for any dates?
Yes! We’re in the process of cobbling together a UK/Netherlands tour in late 2012/early 2013. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as those dates solidify!
– What does the future hold for Jenn Rawling and Basho Parks? More collaborations or is it too early to tell?
We’re twelve songs into our next album, and all in when it comes to playing music together. There may be other projects in the future, but creating and playing music is the spell we cast on our partnership both on and off stage. We plan on touring and recording extensively for the next several years.
- Jenn Rawling & Basho Parks – Take The Air – Review (newadventuresinhifi.com)
- Jenn Rawling and Bosho Parks w/ On the Stairs and Alameda – The Piano Fort: 4/6/12 (musicscenepdx.wordpress.com)