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What I Learned at Bandcamp: Strawberry Runners

Strawberry Runners, bandcamp, interview

Strawberry Runners formed in the fall of 2014 when songwriter and vocalist Emi Night paired with multi-instrumentalist Davy Timm. Night writes lyrics as a therapy of sorts, covering issues of family trauma and abuse. “There’s all this pain and love and wisdom that’s been obscured by a lifetime of ignorance and fear and secrecy. These songs try to give voice to my experiences as a child,” she says.

The group is currently working on a new album. In the meantime, previous releases Month Mender and a self-titled EP are streaming on Bandcamp.

Read The Spec‘s interview with Strawberry Runners’ Davy Timm and Emi Night, below…

How long have you been making music?
DT: I’ve been a musician for as long as I can remember, grew up playing in school band and singing in the choir, and played in bands with my friends in high school. For all the years I’ve been playing music, I’m still not very good…

EN: I’ve been making music for most of my life, too! I remember, as a kid, my dad and I would drive for about an hour every day along the Ohio River, making the trip from our house to his studio. On the road, we’d make up songs together and sing them. I started playing guitar when I was 9. It doesn’t really show… I played lots of instruments growing up, but never practiced very much. Playing instruments well is more of a recent development in my musicianship. I was always more interested in writing and singing songs and harmonies.

Who/what are your influences?
DT: Too many influences to name in a short list. David Bazan (Pedro the Lion) and Fugazi are two heavy influences on the way I approach songwriting, performance, and how to be a successful artist without compromising your integrity as a musician. I’m also constantly inspired by our own community of artists in Denver.

EN: Some of my influences, well, my first musical influence after my dad was probably Judy Collins. Not the well-known folk singer of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, but my 2nd grade teacher who taught me how to play guitar. She sang and played at Mass, and I would sing with her. As I got older, I eventually played guitar with her sometimes too. It was the only thing that kept me going back to church and Catholic school…haha. But influences on my current music include lots of bands I know like Nana Grizol, Saintseneca, The Goodbye Party, Mega Gem, Nate Henricks and his band Youngest Children, and Sleeping Bag and lots of bands + musicians I don’t know too, like Belle and Sebastian, Mirah, The Pixies, Guided by Voices, Grandaddy, Elliott Smith, and if you wanna hear the most adorable yodling, sibling voices, check out The Cackle Sisters.

What is your favorite song you’ve released and why?
DT: I think “Hatcher Creek” is the best song we’ve released so far, and the best representation of our current sound as a band.

EN: Samesies. I also like that weird version of “Your Bed Was Tall” from our Moth Mender demos. It wasn’t meant to be a final recording by any means, as with any of the songs on that release. That was me learning to use Ableton, and experimenting with the structure of that song by cutting it up and layering parts over each other. I want to, eventually, make more music along those lines but with better sound quality.

Upcoming projects, where do you want to go from here?
DT: Looking forward to finishing our new album and touring in the fall!

EN: Also samesies, plus music videos! I love integrating visual art with music, and haven’t found many good ways of doing that yet, but I think music videos will open up a whole new world of creative possibilities, so I’m really looking forward to making some this summer

If you could no longer be a musician, what would you be or do for a living?
EN: If the reason I couldn’t be a musician was because I couldn’t sing anymore, I would be painting every day, illustrating books, making videos, and making clothes. If the reason I couldn’t be a musician was because I couldn’t use my hands as well, I’d be a writer and a teacher, or a counselor, or both, as in, all three.

What musicians or bands do you look up to?
EN: I love musicians who integrate multiple forms of art and/or social commentary in their work. Grimes is a big influence artistically – I love the way dance and movement are so naturally integrated into her videos. I also love the way she challenges social norms of what femininity and sexuality look like. She seems to be pretty involved in her local music/art/social community, and does a lot of cross-referencing of other artists and musicians. This referencing is essential to engender the progression of new creative movements. For a similar reason, I’m also really struck and intrigued by Die Antwoord – I love that they invented these characters and in their performance of their music, they’re more or less just playing a part, and simultaneously making this sort of crude, blatant, and playful commentary on what’s fucked about western culture, sexism, classism, etc.. At least that’s what I take from it.

I love writers who are, lyrically, hyper-open, hyper-honest, and what some people might call hyper-sensitive (I’m referencing a recent Times article about how new college students are hyper-sensitive to issues of personal safety…eesh) like Mal Blum, Victoria of Downtown Boys, and Mars of Aye Nako! Their personal, cutting, and brutally honest lyrics deeply challenge their listeners’ personal understanding, thus calling into question our cultural beliefs, of what safety, love, strength, and solidarity look like. I think this should be the crux of the work of any musician, artist, or writer.

Why do you make music?
EN: Well, mostly because it sort of asks me to. Like, it’s one of the only things I can do… when I can’t sleep at night, or in the morning, with thoughts and feelings that terrify or excite me, to write and sing and play a song is sometimes the only way I can realign myself and my brain with general staying alive stuff like sleeping, eating, even breathing (seriously). Other times, it’s painting/making visual art. It’s like an itch I have to scratch. I have a friend who has Tourette’s Syndrome, and the way he describes the feeling of his ticks is really similar to the feeling I get when I need to play music. Haha, maybe there’s something “wrong” with me. I try to keep it in check. I’m also just so in love with the way it sounds. It’s nothing new.

Anything else you’d like readers to know that we haven’t asked you about?
EN: Um, well, I have some art up at a little boutique in Denver called Studio Colfax. They’re a great little shop full of adorable and beautiful handmade things. I’m going to be hanging some new pieces soon, probably at the beginning of June, so go check them out if you’re in the area!

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