Jonson Kuhn | New SCENE
Okay, folks, by now you know the drill: there are bands around town, I interview them and ask really insightful questions that perhaps no other interviewer would ever even think to ask. So, this time it’s no different; the band in question? Oh, just a little ole band called Foxfeather, ever heard of them? Well, you better get in the know while you still can because in no time at all this is going to be one of those local bands that is going to blow up and leave the rest of us saying petty things like, “I was a fan before everyone else!”
The band consists of Carly Ricks Smith and Laura Paige Stratton…sort of, but we’ll get into that. Carly and Laura were dope enough to take some time out of their busy performing schedule to talk about their new album Nature of Things AND a really cool show coming up at Magic Rat on Friday, January 7 at 8 pm. North Forty was able to secure a timeshare in the Alps, just outside of Liechtenstein and that’s where my interview with the bodacious babes of Foxfeather took place. We only have the condo for half an hour out of the year, (as you can imagine, it’s really expensive) so, this interview had to be cut slightly shorter than usual. Here now is that very conversation.
TNS: Nature of Things came out this year to my understanding, correct? It seems like such an appropriate title for the times we’re currently living in; can you talk about where the idea for the album came from and what it was like recording with Octave Records?
FOXFEATHER: Yes! We were fortunate enough to work with PS Audio and Octave Records to release our new album ‘The Nature of Things.’ This is our fourth project as Foxfeather, our second full-length album, and our first experience with DSD. We were near the beginning of quarantine when we were approached by Octave Records and asked to be a part of their label and make an album. We were thrilled to be involved and immediately began piecing our record together. The songs we chose for the album span a wide range of time for Laura and I (Carly) as writers. “24 Years,” the sixth track, is the oldest, having been written circa 2009. “End of My Rope,” “Lunatic,” “Ghost of You” and “Fillin’ Me Up” had been rolling around in the band’s live sets for months or years waiting to be recorded. Then there is the addition of songs written during the first few months of the Covid pandemic. The album’s namesake, and first track, “The Nature of Things,” the ‘can’t knock me down’ plea “Too Damn Small,” the heartbreaking conclusion to the album, “Lonely Feeling,” are all songs that were written specifically for this album. As artists, we were processing our grief and shock in the best way we knew how — by writing. All of this adds to the meaning and importance of the full album, “The Nature of Things.” Recording in DSD was a big change for us. The process is more intricate and sensitive than technology we have been accustomed to working with. That being said, the product is phenomenal and completely worth the extra time and care. DSD recordings are made with the listener, and the equipment they are using, at the forefront; the audience is the priority. It is geared toward the audiophile but sounds just as amazing to the average ear. We couldn’t be more proud of the record we released through Octave Records, and we genuinely thank everyone involved in the process.
TNS: I see a lot of pictures that feature just the two of you but then occasionally I’ll see some other folks featured in pictures, as well. Are there more people in the band or were those people superimposed into the photos to create the illusion of having a larger band?
FOXFEATHER: While we (Carly and Laura) are the founders, managers, and principal writers/composers for the band, we have an amazing group of musicians behind us! Throughout the years the group has adapted, with multiple variations of the band. A benefit to this arrangement is that Foxfeather has versatile performance capability. We can play with a few as two (Carly and Laura) and have played with as many as nine! This allows us to appropriately adapt to venue spaces and booking needs. That being said, we are absolutely in love with our current lineup. For the past few years, we have had the privilege to work consistently with Jay Elliott (percussion), Mark Dabrowski (bass), and Blake Smith (electric guitar.) These three are incredibly important to our sound and our progression as a group, and they all feel like family.
TNS: “End of My Rope” is a really fun song, I had it stuck in my head all day. I love the title because I think it’s (at least personally) very relatable as I feel I’m at the end of my rope on a daily basis, stuck in traffic, standing in a long line at Chipotle, etc. The lyrics are the most intriguing part, they talk a lot about toxic apples and give warnings to stay clear, are you able to share any insight into what that song is about exactly
FOXFEATHER: “End of My Rope” is definitely a band and fan favorite. When we (Carly and Laura) wrote the song, back in 2018, there was definitely frustration and a bit of anger boiling to the surface. The song, as stated in the chorus, is a warning. A warning to not doubt the power of the woman standing before you. To ‘lightly tread’ and to ‘take heed’ as she comes into her own. This is an immensely personal song, and the writing process was an intense one for us. But, our goal as songwriters is not simply to tell our story, but to create a template on which others can apply their own. We hope this song can do both, and we are thrilled that you enjoy it so much. Keep your eyes peeled for the release of the “End of My Rope” music video in early 2022!
TNS: Your music sounds so fresh but yet so familiar at the same time, I listen to your songs and I can’t help but wonder, “why aren’t they opening for Brandi Carlile?!” So, I’m wondering if you could pick one band/artist to open for, who would you pick and why?
FOXFEATHER: If you can get us that booking, we will be there! We adore Brandi Carlile! Her musicality and voice, as well as the subjects she covers in her writing, are all huge influences on us as artists. Other huge influences for our sound and our growth as musicians include Bonnie Raitt, Lake Street Dive, Beth Hart, Margaret Glaspy, Sharon Van Etten and so, so many more.
TNS: Roller skating seems to be a big thing with you all; I think it’s wicked cool, but I was wondering if you could perhaps unpack that a little? Also, have you considered approaching Sonic for sponsorship? (I don’t know, once upon a time, Sonic employees used to bring you food on skates but that was like back in the 1980s, so I don’t actually know how dated that joke might be).
FOXFEATHER: Sonic approached us! Just kidding. But, yes, we do love to roller skate! Although, after the last two years of a pandemic and quarantine, we are probably a bit rusty. If you have seen the music video for our song “Come and Get Me,” you have seen our skating skills in action. When brainstorming themes for the video, we wanted to go for something fun and nostalgic. The lyrics to the song are actually quite sad and lonely, it tells the story of an empty house- a breaking house- and the hearts that are breaking along with it. The video juxtaposes this with fun and frivolity while transporting the viewer back to an era of naive hopefulness.
TNS: You’ve got your show coming up on January 7 at Magic Rat at 8 pm with special guest TMule. For any of these fools out there who for whatever reason have yet to catch a live Foxfeather show, how might you describe that experience?
FOXFEATHER: We are stoked for our evening at Magic Rat with TMule! We love Fort Collins. The music scene, the people, the vibe, all come together to make it one of our favorite cities to play. We also can’t wait to play our first show with FoCo local and staple, TMule. He is an amazing musician who we have had the pleasure of knowing for many years. Foxfeather likes to balance the soft and intimate with the soulful rocking, so be prepared for a roller coaster of emotions. We will have the full band set up, including electric, bass, percussion, and keys, and will be ready to party. See you there!
My many thanks to Carly and Laura of Foxfeather for giving the New SCENE some of their time and attention and for traveling all the way to Europe for a thirty-minute interview and for covering their own costs! For more information about the upcoming show, please visit foxfeathermusic.com or MAGICRATLIVEMUSIC.COM.