Willow & Wood
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Willow & Wood

Nashville, TN | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF

Nashville, TN | SELF
Established on Jan, 2016
Duo Folk Alternative

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http://youtu.be/Qgx-SCeF4vY - youtube


Willow Scrivner has seen a lot of the country from the back of an old 1970's station wagon. That's what happens when your father is a preacher and the call of God keeps you moving.

"It was in a particular denomination when you are either done with what you were sent to do at that particular church they move you on or if what you feel your work there at that church isn't getting done then you move on," said the West Seattle-based singer-songwriter in an interview with Seattle Sounds.

The soundtrack to all that moving was an AM radio, "either country or somebody talking about God," Scrivner said.

That influence is evident throughout "Radio Sky," the new album from Willow and the Embers. It's a soulful, sometimes haunting collection of songs culled from a lifetime of putting down roots in a small town from Yakima to Oklahoma, only to have them yanked out as her father moved from place to place.

"I think that when a pastor and their family are marrying and burying people you become really intrinsically involved in that family and then when you leave you're ripping yourself from that family."

Scrivner channels that pain, and the ghosts of Pasty Cline and Kitty Wells filtered through the back seat of her youth in deeply personal tracks like Radio Sky and and Beautiful World. Although fueled by God, Scrivner says the songs are spiritual but not religious.

"I was frustrated by it. I actually went to bible college after high school where I became increasingly more frustrated and I had a little bit of a paradigm shift and decided that doctrination of God was not my particular path."

It might not have been her path, but a deep longing to reconnect with the places of her past led Scrivner to hit the road this year with her band, retracing the steps of her youth and performing in the small towns of her father's ministry as "The Daughter of a Preacher Man."

Each stop was an emotional roller coaster, evoking deeply felt memories of "family, loss and religion, searching, seeking and preaching." It all boiled to a head in a small town in Oklahoma.

"It felt like the closer I got to Oklahoma, the more raw I was and everything was closer to the surface," she said. "When we got to the church and as soon as I walked in it smelled exactly the same as when I was 7-years-old and I just lost it."

Scrivner chronicled that moment and many others with a filmmaker who traveled with the band throughout the tour. She's currently raising money on Kickstarter to help pay to finish a full length documentary.

"I want my memory to become your memory," Scrivner said. "The smell of church basement coffee, the weight of a hymnal; the echo of church bells, and the pounding of a pulpit; the low haunting wail of tornado sirens mixed with the warm, baked-dust smell of tube radios."
- MyNorthwest


The daughter of a Protestant preacher, Willow Scrivner exchanged one life on the road for another as a touring musician.

Seattle-based trio Willow & The Embers is nearing the end of its 16-show, 23-day "Daughter of a Preacher Man" tour through the Midwest. The tour is in conjunction with the trio's new album, "Radio Sky," released earlier this year, and stops off at many of the cities where Scrivner's father pastored.

IF YOU GO

Who: Willow & The Embers
When: 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19
Where: Liquid Assets Wine Bar, 96 N. Main St., Ashland
Cover: Free
Call: 541-482-9463
"When I was 8 years old and left Oklahoma, I remember thinking, 'I never want to come back to this place,' and now we're doing it on purpose," Scrivner says.

Scrivner on acoustic and baritone, electric guitars and The Embers — bassist Bob Congleton and electric and lap-steel guitarist Kevin Wood, who also is Scrivner's husband — will perform at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, at Liquid Assets Wine Bar, 96 N. Main St., Ashland. The show is free.

Scrivner recalls a childhood spent in the back seat of her family's station wagon. She says her father had seven preaching positions. The new album reflects on Scrivner's childhood in the church, family wanderings and finding comfort in radio and her father's records.

"I think it's important to revisit our past as adults to gain a little perspective and maybe a little bit of healing," Scrivner says.

"Radio Sky" was recorded from Little Pig Little Witch Studios, behind Scrivner's and Wood's home in west Seattle, and is Scrivner's first full-length album in eight years. Willow & The Embers released an EP, "Beautiful World," in 2011 and, before that, a country compilation, "Lonesome Lo-Fi Lullabyes," with Nashville songwriter David Bavis in 2008.

The recent recording combines dark, ambient rock, "folk-noir" and "hush-pop" arrangements with Scrivner's haunting, alto vocals; introspective, poetic lyrics; and low, rich bass lines.

"Lyrically, I'm intrigued and drawn to the darker side of things," Scrivner says. "I really do believe if you welcome your demons (your hurts, haunts and struggles) and become one with them, they no longer have control over you."

Growing up, Scrivner says she was sheltered from most contemporary music but listened to a lot of hymns and old country, such as Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash.

After one year at Multnomah University in Portland, Scrivner dropped out. Her boyfriend at the time bought her a guitar at a pawnshop, and for the weeks following, she holed up in her studio apartment, writing music and teaching herself to play the instrument.

"It's been a means to an end ever since," she says.
- Mail Tribune - Ashland, OR


Posted: September 5, 2012 - 6:16pm
Provided PhotoWillow & The Embers perform Saturday at The 806.

ADVERTISEMENT
By Chip Chandler
chip.chandler@amarillo.com
Musician Willow Scrivner is retracing some hard times in a path that will lead her through Amarillo.

The Seattle-based singer’s band, Willow & The Embers, will perform Saturday at The 806, 2812 S.W. Sixth Ave., as part of her journey from Washington to Lawton, Okla., for a tour and documentary about her childhood.

Scrivner’s father was a preacher in Lawton for two years in the 1970s, one of his last jobs with the Church of God.

It was one of several moves for Scrivner’s family.

“As a kid, I felt like I was in the circus,” she said.

“Every day, you put up your tent and hope someone comes along.”

But while he was there, Scrivner’s father went through a major crisis of faith.

“By the time we left Lawton, he had gone through so many churches and so much politics in the denomination we belonged to ... that he felt like he had lost his salvation,” Scrivner said.

That led to a move back to Reno, Nev., and even more critical times for the family.

“My parents almost split up a couple of times there, my sister was sexually attacked there, we were poor as church mice without a church there,” Scrivner said.

Now, she’s re-exploring that pivotal time in her family’s life on “Radio Sky,” a folksy album that combines gospel and country influences, and with her “Daughter of a Preacher Man” tour and Kickstarter-funded documentary.

The tour will take her to towns she hasn’t visited since she was a child, including Amarillo, where the family stopped for lunch both on their way to and from Lawton.

“It’ll be interesting just to visually see (these locations) as an adult versus as a child,” Scrivner said. “When you marry and bury people like a preacher does and become part of a church family and then move as much as we did, it’s like leaving part of your family behind.”

The trauma — not just from the constant moving, but from the later catastrophes in Reno — left Scrivner’s own family fractured.

“I feel like my family was like a watermelon that was dropped from a high, high, high bridge — fragments everywhere,” she said.

The family healed, though, after moving to Washington. Her father eventually started his own nondenominational church — “It’s very different from the pounding of the pulpit when we lived down in Oklahoma” — and, despite the personal nature of this project, he’s behind his daughter fully.

“Him and I have been kind of like oil and water in some cases, but we’re coming back to each other, and he’s very proud of my desire to do this, even if it reveals some of our flaws as a family,” she said.
- Amarillo Globe



"Her voice has both the strength of a raging tornado and the grace of a light breeze..."
~Rachel Heisler, Albuquerque Weekly Alibi
- Albuquerque Weekly


By Tom Scanlon
Special to The Seattle Times
PREV 1 of 8 NEXT


THOMAS JAMES HURST / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Willow Scrivner practices in the garage-turned-recording studio that she and her husband, Kevin Wood, refurbished in West Seattle.
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While it may not rock you with "curb appeal," this cute, cozy West Seattle home has big time "reverb appeal." Lurking beneath the lines of this unpretentious, two-bedroom house is something that would make most musicians whistle with envy.

See the rugged touring van in the driveway and that nice free-standing garage?

Well, it's not a garage. It's a recording studio.

Willow Scrivner and Kevin Wood call it Little Pig Little Witch Studio, after one of her songs. This is hardly as spacious, fancy or gear-rich as some of the big studios around town (Litho, Orbit, Bad Animals, Jupiter, Egg, etc.). Yet it has everything needed to make a polished album: a "control room" with taping and mixing equipment, and a separate recording room with microphones, amps, speakers, a drum kit, guitars and room for three (four, if they squeeze; five, if they breathe rhythmically) musicians to rehearse, jam or record.

The music


To hear or read more about the music of Willow and Kevin Wood, go to willowsmusic.com or www.myspace.com/willowsmusic

Anyone with a computer and a few hundred dollars for software can make a recording that will sound decent on MySpace. But serious, audio-obsessed musicians looking to record — and sell — high-quality CDs usually look for more sophistication than computer programs like ProTools can offer.

At $30-and-up per hour, cutting an album in a professional studio can run into thousands of dollars. For unsigned, do-it-yourself musicians, setting up a pro-quality home studio is the ultimate fantasy.

"We just had a bunch of our musician friends over," Scrivner said, "and we were joking that we wanted to record, but studio time was too expensive — so we bought a recording studio!"

Fate brings a studio

Studio basics


Tips for setting up a home-recording studio:

• Before you throw a bunch of gear (and money) into a space, make sure it is soundproof — both ways, so you're not bothering neighbors, and so outside sounds don't "leak" into your recordings.

• Check out sites like www.tweakheadz.com/guide and www.soundrecordingadvice.com.

• Decide whether to buy new, or save money — but increase risks — by buying equipment over the Internet. You can save more than half off retail by buying used gear on the Internet, or you can go to a place like American Music in Fremont (4450 Fremont Ave. N., Seattle; 206-633-1774 or www.americanmusic.com) for monitors, mixers, recorders, microphones — and professional advice.

• If you purchase new gear, expect to pay at least $1,000 for decent equipment.

Theirs is an extraordinarily functional musical marriage. She is the creative force, a singer-songwriter who pens darkly surreal lyrics and sings like a pixie in a trance ("think David Lynch goes to Lilith Fair," one journalist wrote of her). He is a talented guitar player and great at the nuts and bolts: wiring, amps, recording levels and so on.

To say these two have come a long way is as understated as Wood's guitar playing. They now own a studio, but once lived in one — a studio apartment, in Fremont. "We were on the road a lot," Scrivner says, as her husband grins at the memory, "spending all this time in the van, so it seemed big to come home to."

Married in December 2005, they had just returned from their honeymoon and were tossing around where to live next — move to Manhattan and try to make it there? — when a friend passed on an e-mail: A drummer was about to sell his West Seattle home, featuring a recording studio, and wanted it to go to a fellow musician. "He really wanted a musician to buy it, not somebody who would bulldoze it and put up a garage ... "

The price was within their budget, so it was forget Manhattan. They bought the property, did some reworking on the house (painting, pulling up carpet, building a deck), then sized up the studio. Though it was already wired for electricity ("the guy did it right") and plumbed, "It wasn't a done deal at all," said Wood. "There wasn't any gear we wanted, and the colors — baby blue and mint green — weren't what we wanted."

Repainting in warm, creative-nurturing colors (burgundy and "praline" brown) was easy enough. Then came the beast: equipment.

On track for an album

These two decided early on to go analog over digital. Newer, digital-recording equipment probably would have been far cheaper, "but we wanted that round, fat, analog sound."

After consulting with musician friends and anyone he could find who was into audio gear, Wood put a wish list together and plunged into eBay. The big purchases were a Tascam ½-inch 8-track recorder and a Mackie 16-channel microphone/line mixer.

Buying used - Seattle Times


“Willow is able to give voice to those vague, disturbing fears and longings that lurk at the edges of our awareness, that will not step forward entirely into the light and yet will not go away.”
~Richard Middleton, Victory Review
- Victory Review


“Willow is anything but the standard girl with a guitar and a back catalog of Joni Mitchell covers. Her songs take on redemption and longing, destiny and death with a crystalline alto and an undertow of darkness that tugs the songs from below.” ~ The Stranger, ‘Drunk by Noon - The Stranger


“What is it with preternatural musical savants and the dark side? Willow, like Jad Fair and Jandek before her, picked up a guitar one day in 1992 and started to write, formal training be damned. But instead of Fair’s childhood-imp-of-the-perverse or Jandek’s just plain creepiness, Willow belongs to a more formalist goth lineage, like a female Nick Cave (or at least the one who isn’t PJ Harvey). Daughter of a preacher man and former hard-core Bible student, she also brings to mind Sixteen Horsepower’s David Eugene Edwards, the son of a minister, who likewise straddles the line between sin and redemption, reveling in the fire-and-brimstone of it all. But unlike both Cave and Edwards, Willow’s music is imbued with a gentle lyricismf ull of swirling strings alternating with hushed moments of pure voice that suggests redemption might be possible after all” – Seattle Weekly - Seattle Weekly


“This Seattle-based artist’s music lingers in a stark, blackly outlined winter landscape with shadowy, whispering instrumentation and fluid melody. The record hovers somewhere around folk, but with gothic tinges and bell-like guitars chiming throughout. Willow’s voice, reminiscent of Natalie Merchant and The Sundays’ Harriet Wheeler, is as warm, lilting, and alluring as they come. Sweet Dark Demon is haunted and haunting, shot throughout with a deep, glimmering liquidity.” ~ Performing Songwriter - Performing Songwriter


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio


Folk-noir meets dreamy hush-pop in Willow & The Embers textural ambient rock, as Willows evocative crooning, introspective lyrics, and muse-like persona both soothe and stimulate the savage beast.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Music is my redemption, my desire, my sermon, my demon, my hymn. It is my secret, my memory, my dream, my skin and my sleep. Music is my mother, and my father. I am a daughter of music.
I am a daughter of the church. Of ministers, missionaries, tent raisers and gospel callers. A daughter of healers, worshippers, snake-handlers, gardeners, and keepers of faith. I am a daughter of Oklahoma, and of Japan. A daughter of the dust bowl; and the American west.
I am a daughter of words. I am in love with the feel of them leaving my tongue and lips, the way my voice almost becomes foreign to me, and the vibration of a guitar across my chest. Im addicted to the feeling of sound, like light leaving my body.
Music and words have been a part of me from the beginning, since before I knew they were there. Like unborn children or lovers not yet known, they were lying in wait.
I write because my head would be too cluttered otherwise, because I need to remember, and to forgive. Each song I write stays with me, leaves an imprint of where I was and what I felt as it came. Their flavors stay on my tongue even as years pass. My songs are like memories; like the whispers of ghosts.
My album, Radio Sky, is my attempt to capture the lush, lullaby-hushed, lost, circus-spinning feel of the Garden. A collection of songs that is fresh with new skin, but whose lineage can be traced through my past records.
I am a daughter of music.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Willow is a self-taught singer/songwriter, who, in 1992 put down her Bible and picked up a pawn shop guitar. Three chords later, the songs came flowing out. Judging from the fact that she had little previous musical experience, one could say shes a bit of a preternatural chanteuse. Like post-Christian rocker contemporaries, Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson, Willows papa is a preacher man and prior to her fateful leap, she was an enrollee at Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland Oregon. The result of her departure from conservative religionher musical renderings are of an evolution of a spiritual nature an earthly, poetic dance in the dark. For those familiar with the fire and brimstone of artist Nick Cave, Willow may be the polar sweet angel of redemption and desire.
Whether whisper-quiet, or with full wattage coursing through, Willow and her band, The Embers, deliver us.