You were born and raised in Asheville, NC, and now live in Philadelphia. What led you there?
I went to college at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. While there, I worked at some record stores and met two members of the great band Espers, Greg Weeks and Otto Hauser. We became friends in Rochester. I moved to Austria for a few years and my visa ran out, so I had to come back to the US. I knew that both Greg and Otto had moved to Philly, so I thought I'd check it out. I think it was a really great choice for me.
I may be reading too far into this, but there seems to a really strong connection between Philadelphia and North Carolina. It seems like North Carolina has two labels (Paradise of Bachelors, Three Lobed Recordings) and a studio (Echo Mountain) that attract a lot of artists that currently live or used to live in Philadelphia (you, Chris Smith of Espers, Steve Gunn, Meg Baird, Kurt Vile, Adam Granduciel). Is it just by coincidence, or is there another reason why that connection is so strong?
I think North Carolina is a stunning state, just very beautiful, so people want to come down and record where it's a little warmer with nice mountains. But I think the connection is really coincidental, or cosmic. I know Cory (Rayborn) has been good friends with Bardo Pond for a long time, and Brendan from PoB used to live in Philly. North Carolina has always had great music coming from it, which fosters lots of festivals and good venues, so it's kind of natural that traveling Philadelphians jump into the mix too. I like it!
What are some of your favorite bands and artists? Can you recommend an unsung record that you think more people need to hear?
I listen to a lot of Brian Eno. I love Julianna Barwick's music, Grouper, William Basinski, Meg Baird. Vibey, timeless and atmospheric stuff that kinda transcends fashion. I love the new Weyes Blood record Front Row Seat to Earth. As far as an unsung record goes, my bandmate and beloved friend Jeff Zeigler has a project called Valley Exit and physical copies haven't been released, but he has stuff up on Bandcamp. Definitely check him out when you get a chance. Such a great ear and knack for melody and instrumentation. Jeff's the best.
One of my favorite records of 2016 is the Heron Oblivion album, on which Meg Baird totally shines. I was psyched to learn that the two of you will be releasing a record on Three Lobed next year. Can you tell us some more about it? How did the two of you decide to do a record together, how far along in the process are you, and what kind of vibe can we expect?
Yeah, Meg's my best friend! Cory asked us to do a record together and we jumped on it. We haven't started on it yet but there are little ideas. I'm doing a music residency in May right near where she lives in San Francisco, so the timing's pretty perfect. Yeah, that Heron Oblivion record is insanely perfect.
You’re on tour with True Widow. To the casual observer, your music provides a stark contrast to theirs. Is that by design, or are there similarities that casual observers don’t notice? What is the genesis behind this pairing? Will you be playing a solo set or sitting in with the band?
I'll be the opener. I'll be traveling in my station wagon with my harp. I've been friends with those guys for years and I think they liked my most recent record, so they asked me to open the East Coast dates. It'll be really fun. I am curious about the audience overlap and curious to see if everybody's quiet and how they react to it. True Widow is pretty heavy and dark, but my music can be dark, too, and pretty melancholy. I don't think it's too strange of a pairing. But in general, I'm just psyched to travel with my friends and to hear their new songs every night.
The Station doesn’t have the highest ceilings in the world (or the biggest doors). Have you ever had an instance where your harp doesn’t fit in a space? What’s your backup plan?
I haven't! I don't have a backup plan! Yikes!