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Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Taking the air with Jenn Rawling and Basho Parks

Jenn Rawling and Basho Parks are an indie-folk duo hailing from Oregon. The duo recently released their debut full-length album titled Take the Air. Their new album, full of emotionally lifting songs enhanced by Rawling’s poetic lyrics, is named after the Victorian period idiom of “to go for a stroll,” which also carried the air of seizing life by the hands and dancing merrily together. Currently, the two are touring through the Western and Midwestern states promoting the album and will be playing a live show at Armadillo Music on April 24. But before then, the outgoing duo was able to do an interview to talk more about themselves and their upcoming show in Davis.

MUSE: Can you give a small introduction of yourselves to our readers?

RAWLING & PARKS: We’re a couple from Oregon hitting the road in earnest as an indie-folk duo with our 10-year-old great dane, Miles Zanzibar.  We started flirting with one another while in dingy basement band practices exactly two years ago in April.

What would you describe your music as?

Our music is classical, folk, Americana, roots, steeped in the acoustic listening rooms of the Pacific Northwest and poured as a savory, heartfelt broth on top of your long day.

What are some artists who have inspired you as a group?

Jenn’s mom was very inspirational growing up, singing in the kitchen and whatnot. Basho’s grandfather was an opera singer, and his grandmother was a concert pianist in Dallas. We’re inspired by Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson, Petunia & the Vipers, our friends The Haunted Windchimes from Pueblo and The Birds of Chicago from Chicago.

What is your new album all about?

Take the Air is all about perseverance in the face of human tragedy, the loss of love and the discovery of mudskippers. It’s about the details of nature, seizing the moment and salamander-worship.

How do you go about writing songs?

Our songwriting is intuitive and organic. We don’t try to fit a song into any one genre or theme — letting it come about in a more spontaneous fashion, without the traditional parameters of “verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-done” to hinder that process.  Basho also does a small dance of joy before we sit down in a trance and hum like mosquitoes.

What is your favorite part about creating music?

Playing music is a fantastic way to build lasting friendships the world over. Music creation is the ethereal sculpture-making of the soul’s voice.  Connecting with the creative process, capturing the songs and then sharing them.

Take the Air is your debut album, but you’ve been in bands together previously. How does this record differ from previous projects, and what did you learn from working together previously to make this a stronger record?

We played together in two other bands before going all-in for this duo project. Our time spent in countless rehearsals as well as playing a ton of gigs together helped cement our cohesion together as musical partners.  Take the Air is unlike the previous genres of music we played together; it has a much more quiet, folk-Americana style, whereas our other bands were louder and less metered. We’re glad to be playing this stripped-down music, as it’s much easier on the ears.

You tour as a duo, but the record has a lot more instrumentation on it.  How do you pull it off live?

Jenn will sing and play her guitar, while Basho will play mandolin and violin and sing in our sets while on the road. The pared-down version is actually quite full-sounding.

What are your plans following this tour?

More touring! We’ll get back to Oregon June 8, stay in town for three weeks and then head up to British Columbia for a month-long tour. Returning to Portland to refuel our whatever in early August, so we can head back out to the midwest for Folk Alliance and festivals (September and early October) so we can then meander over to New England in late October. November we’ll be back in the studio recording 14 tracks for the next album.  We’ll be in the Southeastern US for a spell in December.  2013 is already getting full.

MICHELLE RUAN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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