THE WIND + THE WAVE
ALLISON PIERCE, HALEY JOHNSEN
Mon, April 10, 2017
Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm
$11.00 - $13.00
This event is 16 and overhttp://www.valleybarphx.com/event/1413877/
After having retired as a touring musician in 2003, Baker came to find Lynn through the production of her previous project in Austin,Texas. Over the course of working together on other musical efforts, the two are now able to describe themselves as being "cut from the same thread," and "rarely on different pages." This made it not only easy, but essential that Baker and Lynn begin writing and producing music that satisfied their own ever-evolving creative spirits.
"All of our songs truly come from the heart," Lynn says. Baker and Lynn can dive head-first into serious conversation topics and quickly burst into laughter. "We try not to take anything too seriously," says Baker. "It's definitely work, but it's the best kind of work. There's no sense in doing it unless you're having fun." It's obvious this duo is doing something they love. Baker and Lynn are preparing to release their first album, From The Wreckage, in which they wrote together before they even intended to call it their own.
"We were just writing to write, then half way through it dawned on us that we had to perform these songs live, as a band; that it was the only way we could see these songs realized," says Lynn.
Even the band name was a happy accident, but 'the words sounded good together' and meant something to them, much like the music they had created. Thus, The Wind and The Wave came into being in late 2012.
It would be a dedication to gymnastics that would take this shy girl who preferred to blend in with the background and turn her into a daredevil, dancer, and performer. "This sort of athletic expression didn't feel as nerve wracking to me. I could be silent and allow my physical my strength and flexibility to do the talking. As strange as it sounds, hurling my body around rather than my voice just felt safer."
Whether she knew it or not at the time, Johnsen was building not just physical strength, but discipline and self-confidence that that would ultimately challenge her to put herself out in front of a million people to face her biggest fear – singing.
It was a last minute decision to join the thousands of people in line that February afternoon in Portland, Oregon in 2011 when American Idol auditions rolled into town, and she knew what a long shot it was. Still, she could afford to roll the dice; she was on the cusp of finishing her degree at Oregon State University where she had spent four years slowly cultivating a discipline for singing and performance through classical vocal training and performance as a hobby alongside her studies and really had no plans post graduation.
Johnsen would be cast into the national spotlight when she captivated American Idol Season 11 viewers making it all the way through to the Top 24 semifinals before conceding.
For artists that come through the Idol machine, the experience can be either a make it or break it one. What it did for Johnsen was confirm that she could - and should - pursue a professional music career based on the response judges and audiences had to her performances. "Idol was the stepping-stone that persuaded me to believe in myself as an artist and performer, and it confirmed that I had the talent to make music my ultimate focus," Johnsen reflects. "Being surrounded by so many other gifted and passionate musicians ignited a fire in me to carry out my dream as a singer/songwriter that I hadn't thought I was capable of before."
Over the course of the last three years, Johnsen has written and recorded over 100 songs. With the help of Portland-based producer, Rob Daiker (Katy Perry, The Fame Riot, Christian Burghardt), the two began a collaborative process of selecting the ones that would best represent Johnsen's range and songwriting abilities.
"The songs are mostly about the extremes in life that I was faced with – sort of like a scrapbook of what I was going through: leaving Hollywood to come back home to Oregon; figuring out what I wanted my life to look like; and finding my own authenticity as a songwriter. My best songs are the blatantly honest ones. Sometimes my lyrics are things that I wanted to say to someone, but couldn't find the words in the moment. Later those words show up perfectly as the chorus to a song. Other times, I was just trying to work out a problem or express to myself a sense of acceptance of whatever I was going through. They are cathartic that way," Johnsen revealed.
Johnsen's influences range from the eccentricities of bands like Radiohead and Pink Floyd; to classic, folk and indie-rock vocalists such as of Eva Cassidy, Nicole Atkins, Florence Welch and Brandi Carlile – all artists with a flair for the dramatic in their delivery. "From a melodic standpoint, I have a hard time writing songs that don't build to an epic moment. As a naturally a loud singer, it is really fun for me to play with intricate melodies that reach a point where I can just belt it out with a big lunged chorus, taking the song in a direction the listener wouldn't expect it to go. I visualize my songs in a linear way when I write them, but imagine the places where the song needs to rest, climb, and then soar – sort of like a journey to a destination."
The final result of Johnsen and Daiker's collaboration is a seven song EP Through the Blue written by Johnsen, arranged and produced by Daiker and recorded with guest instrumentalists including drummer Joe Mengis (Priory, Climber, Casey Neill and the Norway Rats). It serves as a personal reflection upon this season in Johnsen's life – the transitions she faced, the relationships that were impacted, and the lessons that came from her experiences. "What I have discovered in writing these songs is that there is peace in struggle. As I grow, I am learning to accept the ambiguity of life."
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