Mother Falcon
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Mother Falcon

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Band Classical Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Fun Fun Fun Fest Artist Profile: Mother Falcon"

Not much about Mother Falcon on the periphery gives away their age. There is almost no sign, except for their individual un-weathered statures, that gives away the fact that a sizable portion of the group is hovering around high school age. This band of 10-20 (depending on the performance) Austin musicians and students appear to be organized, motivated, acute in their instruments, and their sound surpasses much of what musicians with countless more years of experience can pull off.

With that many young musicians contributing to Mother Falcon’s sonic landscape you’d expect a looser, more ramshackle creation, instead, what you get is a tight, potent and overwhelming orchestral indie parade of sounds. The range of instruments contributing to effect run from cello and violin to accordion and trumpet, and it’s all tethered to charming and sentimental male/female vocals led by Nick Gregg usually accompanied by a guitar or mandolin.

Mother Falcon recently released a 5-song recording, Still Life, an album stacked start to finish with baroque pop pearls. One of the instantly grabbing tunes on the disc is “Marigold” with its sweeping classical potency and waves of humming and chirping strings washing this way and that set to a strum and vocal builds leading to an inevitable shout of “fight, fight, fight!” The chamber pluck and ‘plink’ of the strings on “To Mama” leads to a restrained commotion rising with a cast of moaning voices, crafting a sound almost easier taken sitting down with your eyes closed in front of the stage as the landscape becomes visible in your imagination.

The group has been growing and glowing in Austin and beyond ever since their SXSW 2010, with many shows to follow at Mohawk, The Parish and elsewhere. Next, they are set to tackle the orange stage bright and early (12:15pm) on Sunday, November 7th at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Waterloo Park, Austin -

"Listen: Mother Falcon"

We live in an age where the intellectual reigns supreme. Of course, several figures within pop culture make “geeky smart” pretty hip and cool (Tina Fey, Thom Yorke, the protagonist in every Judd Apatow movie and/or show), but the fact of the matter is that there is this hyper-intellectual movement within most of art today. It’s because of this that a band like Mother Falcon, a neo-classical indie outfit from Austin, TX, can exist and build a fan base merely by putting their tunes on the internet. That may sound conventional to you, but their music is anything but that. It’s a whole new entity.

A lot of folks make up Mother Falcon, and they’re all friends. As of now, their current roster sits at 20 individual musicians, who all bring an eclectic group of instruments to each of their band practices. Instruments include: an accordion, guitars, violins, cellos, mandolins, piano, percussion, and something called a bouzouki. The band themselves are extremely enthusiastic about their magnitude and diversity, and each of them acknowledge the fact that they all have something different to bring to the table.

“Everyone puts a finger in the pie,” singer/guitarist/cello player/mandolin/pianist Nick Gregg says. In fact, there is no dominant force within the band. It’s a total democracy, which is indicated by their songwriting structure. “One person will usually bring in a melody to expand upon and then work with smaller groups of us to structure it. Once there’s a grasp on the direction of the piece, the groups get extended. When that happens, everybody starts to take a hold of it. Everybody writes.”

This uber collaboration shouldn’t come as a surprise; after all, the music speaks for itself. Beautiful, elegant, and haunting pieces linger in your head long after you’ve listened to them. While the process takes up time, it results in a collection of perfected songs, and the band constantly creates new material to stay on top of their game.

Their first EP, Still Life took them two to three years to compile. Composed of five jaw-dropping pieces, Still Life takes you back to an age of class, elegance, and fancier clothing. “Marigold” swoops right in and captivates right at the beginning with chords that just seem to pull. The combination of string instruments, a union of harmonies, and a variety of vocal ranges allow for a fantastic opener. You can just see rich, oil paintings forming in your mind. You can smell the wood finish on the stage of a theater with velvety carpets, where a piece like this would be played. This is indie rock on a whole new level.

There are simpler songs, though. “Tokyo Rose” doesn’t start off complex, it builds with more and more sound as the song progresses. The EP’s finale, “Faint Green Light” is as epic as any piece could possibly be. Its wooing vocals, bone-chilling string arrangements, and Greek-esque guitar riffs make it unlike any other track on the album. And when the percussion kicks in at the song’s closing, everything shakes up to finish things off.

Where did music like this come from, though? How did a bunch of Austin musicians create such a concept?

“We’re all fans of surrealist literature,” says accordian player Tamir Kalifa. “Things and ideas that are so much larger than life; ethereal, almost dream-like qualities. We talk about that a lot in our music. Think of our music as like a soundtrack to your dreams. Lyrics and the song might conjure up different ideas with each listener.”

But literature isn’t the only thing that inspires them. Obviously, music comes into play as well, and for Mother Falcon, it’s a smorgasbord of sounds. The band pulls from their classically trained ears (Beethoven, Bach), as well as modern pop culture (Biggie, Tribe Called Quest, any sort of hip-hop rhythmic qualities), and worldly, Gypsy-style music (Django Reinhardt), though with a hint of tango. On top of that, the band never stops playing.

“We try to remain active, playing something like three shows a month,” violinist Yun Du explains. “We have a lot coming up, and we need to choose which shows to do. Most of the time we lay low until a good opportunity comes along.”

At the rate these guys are cranking out music, and if they keep up their unique stylistic approach, plenty of these opportunities will come along. For example, the band played SXSW this past year, and they’re currently trying to plan a nationwide tour.

“We’re trying to figure out the logistics of it,” Du continues. “We have a whole shopping list of equipment we need, but we’d love to get out there within the next year.”

It’s a story we’ve heard a thousand times: A band doing what they love best. For this Austin pack, they want to go a bit further… they’re pushing for a greater cause.

“We want to see how far we can go with what we enjoy doing,” says Nick Gregg, “We want to bring classical knowledge to the public forefront. You know, we all started as orchestra kids, and we want people to know yo - Consequence of Sound

"Second Stage: Mother Falcon"

When I saw fifteen classical musicians listed in Mother Falcon's liner notes, I didn't expect to hear a tight, catchy pop record. The group's album, Still Life, is a delicate balance of bright strings, horns and woodwinds, all tied together in upbeat hooks and charming male-female vocals. Mother Falcon's songs are maturely crafted with a youthful energy. (Each member is still in college).

Mother Falcon started in Austin, TX when three cellists began to flesh-out musical ideas after their high school orchestra practice. Instead of losing momentum once they dispersed to attend different colleges, the project expanded to include more musicians scattered across different states.

When schedules can be coordinated, there are twenty or more performers at Mother Falcon's gigs. The band played at SXSW this past spring and gained attention in the Austin circuit for the group's fresh spin on classical arrangements.

“Marigold” is a lighthearted track with violin riffs pushed forward by fast paced cellos, but still anchored by a sweet melody and foot-stomping rhythm. You can hear more songs from Still Life at their myspace. - NPR - All Songs Considered

"Found in the Ground"

Outside at Mohawk, the Friday night crowd swells to fill the open areas; there's plenty of room left, but the upper deck railings are lined, and the dance floor is a sea of bobbing heads. Crowds in both areas double before the night is out.

The Octopus Project headlines with Tia Carrera in the middle, which means the early crowd is in attendance for the opening act, Mother Falcon, the ambitious orchestral pop collective tagged in Austin's high school orchestras and released into colleges and universities across the country. Dressed in black, a mishmash of materials from tees and long-sleeve button-downs to strapless satin, the musicians ease their strings, percussion, reeds, and brass in a drone that quickly funnels into a diaphanous whirl.

Under darkening skies the motif to "Her Radiant Limb" emerges. This is the arrangement from the group's Austin Music Awards performance during South by Southwest this year, the mass introduction to Austin and the world beyond that Mother Falcon had practiced for two years.

"I was found in the ground while you were listening."

The lyrics of "Her Radiant Limb" spiral upward as Nick Gregg's tenor soars amid the poignant swell of strings. The spring release of the band's five-song EP, Still Life (see "Texas Platters," April 9), carved a niche on a crag of the mountain of potential. Mother Falcon has distinguished itself as the local purveyor of chamber pop and yes, perhaps more.

That's never enough, to be full of promise. You have to go to the source. The capital of Texas remains a music sanctuary, with freedom of prayer, where the faithful come to intone their country, their blues, their rock, their songs to the great rhythmic gods of the Lone Star State.

Practice, Practice, Practice

If you're a local musician living in Austin anytime in the last five decades, you know this residence: the East Austin rent house.

You lived there or your friends did or maybe you went to parties there. It's the kind of house that invokes nostalgia once your friends and contemporaries own suburban houses or reside long-term in Downtown condos. In the East Austin rent house, its wooden floors, cubbyholes, and compact layout are instantly familiar, updated here and there, painted over for the hundredth time. If you're there today, it's good with you. It's affordable, and the neighbors are cool when your band practices.

This unprepossessing house in a cul-de-sac off Airport Boulevard has a history, years of students, young couples, roommates, and probably families at the neighborhood's early inception. Its hand-me-down ambience feels familiar. Just like in 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000, there's an American flag decorating one wall. Almost assuredly there's another musician or three in the house's past, probably a band, but for the moment its monthly demands lie in the hands of Mother Falcon's Tamir Kalifa. And today is band practice.

That's no easy chore, rounding up shifting members. It often falls on violinist Yun Du to coordinate, but he's out of town and not playing the Mohawk. Crammed into the living room and spilling into the hall and kitchen are 14 classical musicians, their instruments, their cases, and a few bystanders. The strings are huddled by the front door; percussion and horns stand over the couch. Gregg is in the corner at the piano, singing and directing like a conductor.

The current roster for Mother Falcon is worthy of concert notes: Laura Andrade (cello), Rita Andrade (viola), Diana Burgess (cello), Kira Bordelon (violin), Clara Brill (violin), Nick Calvin (cello), Maurice Chammah (violin), Yun Du (violin), Nick Gregg (cello, vocals, guitar, mandolin, piano), Austin Harris (violin), Tamir Kalifa (accordion, vocals, piano, bouzouki), Matt Krolick (trumpet), Gilman Lykken (bassoon), Josh Newburger (violin), Claire Puckett (guitar, vocals, trumpet, bouzouki), Matt Puckett (saxophone, vocals, glockenspiel, piano), Luke Stence (bass), and Isaac Winburne (drums, saxophone, piano).

The Falcons find an organic connection with one another amid diverse schedules, and that keeps the ever-shifting lineup balanced. This summer the group works without Clara Brill, Nick Calvin, and Maurice Chammah, who return to the nest in the fall, at which point Gilman Lykken, Josh Newburger, and Luke Stence leave for such colleges as Northwestern and Julliard. The demands of school, jobs, and everyday life compete with practice, a lengthy process requiring chunks of rehearsal time on each song.

That connection extends into the community of peers. Mother Falcon recently scored the soundtrack for local theatre piece re:Psyche and works closely with fellow wunderkind Speak. Gregg, Chammah, and Rita Andrade performed in the modern classical Red Armada Quartet and recorded Red Armada Quartet Plays the Music of Peter Stopschinski and Graham Reynolds, with whom they've collaborated.

Mother Falcon has a party offshoot, too – Sip Sip, which Gregg calls "the crazy dark side, t - The Austin Chronicle

"Texas Platters"

Credited with 15 members on this debut five-song outing, including four violins and three cellos, Mother Falcon has risen to the forefront of the local youth movement with good reason, the generation of hand X-ers delivering richly ensembled pop that proves enveloping and dynamic. Multi-instrumentalist Nick Gregg leads the formation with a gently fluxing tenor that barbs against Claire Puckett's contrast, the two tentatively flirting through verses on opener "Marigold" atop a bed of lush strings. "Is this love, I don't know, but tonight I'm going to find out," they close in harmony, rivaling Stars in sentiment and sound. "Tokyo Rose" floats in Andrew Bird's draft, while "Her Radiant Limb" flaps flurried movements that would benefit from more than three minutes. "To Mama" is rightfully given more room to expand its airy swoon, and five-minute closer "Faint Green Light" courts chamber folk in charming swells. Credit the Canadian collectives for sure, but for all the touchstones of Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire, Austin's followed suit suavely with a homegrown indie orchestral wave from the likes of the Noise Revival Orchestra to the Tiny Tin Hearts. Mother Falcon may outsoar them all. - The Austin Chronicle

"Mother Falcon's Still Life"

There’s nothing static about Mother Falcon’s Still Life EP, not when upwards of 14 instruments unite in song. Even among its peer bands – Speak, Bright Lights Social Hour, Oikos, and Diamonds – Mother Falcon is in a class of its own.

The orchestral indie-pop on Still Life flourishes at Central Presbyterian Church – one of South by Southwest’s best acoustic venues - Saturday, Feb. 20, 8pm. Chase Weinacht and Motion Picture open, then Mother Falcon take the stage, headed up by the amazing Nick Gregg, whose cello, mandolin, guitar, and vocals map Mother Falcon’s airborne direction. As a special addition to the evening, a choir of voices including Troupe Gammage and Nick Hurt of Speak will be heard.
The members shift in various configurations – rehearsals alone must require a militaristic gathering of the troops – but usually include violinists Clara Brill and Yun Du, pianist-guitarist Claire Puckett, and the charismatic Tamir Kalifa, whose accordion and ethereal vocals foil brilliantly with Gregg’s. He called to talk about the show at Central Presbyterian and marveled about the new world order of releasing music. Kalifa, who is also a filmmaker, is a believer in the DIY approach, saying that Mother Falcon plans to “adopt that model in publicizing and advertising Still Life.”

“We’re doing it all ourselves. I get more excited about publishing on the Internet than broadcasting on television,” Kalifa says, his voice nearly drowned out by passing sirens. He apologized for the noise as he jumped to praise the venue. “It couldn’t be any better!”

Mother Erickson’s Dance Party

Ya gotta love it. Sumner Erickson’s release party at Jovita’s, Sunday, Feb. 21, is for the Texcentrics’ new self-titled CD, and doubles as a birthday for his mother, Evelyn Erickson, who turns 86.

This is no surprise to anyone who’s seen her dancing and bopping around at Sumner’s shows or at Roky’s concerts. She’s pretty, sprightly, a delightful conversationalist (ask her about her classical singing), dedicated to peace activism, and so very, very proud of her sons.

The Texcentrics’ new CD finds Sumner developing more as a vocalist, no surprise given his family, but perhaps because for so many years he was Pittsburgh Symphony’s first chair tuba player. Yet he’s deliberately crafted his music around the Texas rock songwriters such as Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly, and the new record bears the earmarks of those fine talents. - The Austin Chronicle

"The 1821 Club"

Among all the bands joining the 1821 Club, none is as revolutionary as Mother Falcon ( Their lush baroque pop is classically based, with modern quirks such as accordion and mandolin. At the heart of Mother Falcon is Nick Gregg, vocalist, cellist, mandolin player, guitarist, and songwriter. His extraordinary vision of the classical pop landscape reveals a few milestones, such as the Incredible String Band and Brit folk-pop of the 1970s, with more cultivation from the likes of Joanna Newsom and Final Fantasy. And, without realizing it, Mother Falcon is the natural heir to the Alejandro Escovedo Orchestra, a pairing begging for a good stage.

"I'd been playing in bass-guitar-drums bands and having a good time but wanting something bigger," Nick recounts. "A friend in orchestra and I started writing with cellos, instruments we'd been classically trained on for years, and realized it had a lot of potential. We started off with three cellos, then we realized that all these years of playing Bach for hours on end paid off, giving us skills to write songs that would challenge us and the audience would enjoy."

Named for a dubbed expletive in a Bruce Willis film on TV, the 12-piece orchestra walks a highly demanding tightrope of individual schedules and jobs. "Nick is the heart and soul, the creative force," declares Yun Du, violinist for Mother Fal con. "I'm more the brain, making sure everyone knows what's going on, scheduling appearances and stuff. Not everyone has their own transportation, carpooling, scheduling, logistics."

Of the dozen members, Tamir Kalifa positively levitates the band. The Maryland native moved to Texas after meeting two Austinites while attending film school in Prague and was "hired to just play accordion on one song," but he asked to stay on after his exquisite tenor worked with Nick's own yearning style.

"We've been talking about how interesting vocal harmonies are, and with 12 musicans, a good number of us are capable of singing," Nick explains. "We're trying to incorporate things we really love about bands like Grizzly Bear with classical rhythms and catchy melodies."

If that sounds likes an unusual combination, he doesn't think so.

"Music today is two steps forward and one step back. You have a lot of 1980s dance and garage rock coming back. So if it's going back in time, we'll just beat everyone to the 1700s." - The Austin Chronicle


Still Life EP - Released Feb 2010
Alhambra - Released Feb 2011
Tracks available on



Mother Falcon was founded by Nick Gregg and two other cellists in a high school practice room. From there, the youngsters graduated high school and began amalgamating a variety of other talented musicians. Soon, the trio grew to a mini-orchestra, featuring its own cello, violin, and brass sections along with guitar, accordion, drums, and many other instruments. Atop the instruments, Nick Gregg lends his voice along with Claire Puckett (guitar) and Tamir Kalifa (accordion) to create soaring vocal harmonies. Though Mother Falcon traverses multiple genres, they have often been described as "chamber pop" and have been compared to the likes of Arcade Fire, Andrew Bird, and Sufjan Stevens.

Mother Falcon performing "Kathryn":
Mother Falcon performing "Fireflies":