William Fitzsimmons

William Fitzsimmons

Growing up with two blind parents, sound became extremely important in communicating and relating to one another. After growing up around music, he set it aside to pursue his education. William received his masters in counseling and worked as a psychotherapist for several years before turning to songwriting. He truly writes the kind of songs that most songwriters dream about; brilliant, heavy, complex and intensely personal…the songs are nothing short of breathtaking.

Lions is a musical reflection of the personal renovation that’s taken place since 2010’s Gold In The Shadow. Best summed up by Fitzsimmons himself:

“The last couple years have been…full (kind of difficult to describe years in a single word). They have been wonderful, painful, long, incredibly brief, and more educational and rewarding than any I’ve ever lived before. ??I finished touring on the previous record feeling very conflicted. The longer I’m given the wonderful opportunity to write and create things, and subsequently share them with others, the more seriously and preciously I take that endeavor and responsibility. It is something I look upon with the utmost gratitude and respect. ??And yet at the same time I find myself making art in a field that is itself quite the opposite of it. I am learning that one of the most difficult things about being human is not merely facing things that you don’t generally find comfortable or appropriate or even good, but actually learning how to live in the midst of it and not let it take over who you are. ??When you feel you are on a wrong-headed path, the quickest way to get where you want to go is to turn around, head back, and start again from the point you went askew. ??And so I did.

I returned simply to the things, which have always brought me some measure of understanding, peace, and movement. I began to write and play music without “motive” or “goal” or end result in mind. The way that I wrote when I first began.

There was no cartoon light bulb over my head or kitchen timer dinging to let me know I had gotten somewhere. With the stuff that matters there rarely is I suppose. But after months and months and months (and more bottles of beer and bowls of tobacco than I’d care to disclose), I felt like a necessary distance had been traversed. ??Wanting to continue in this very spirit, I chose to take yet another leap. I made a list of the producers who were making the music and records that most meant something to me. With no expectation I got in touch with the person at the top of the list. And, in a few months, I was on a plane to Seattle to begin working with Chris Walla to turn these songs in a notebook into the collection I wanted them to become.

“Lions” is something I’m terribly proud of and utterly connected to. It’s a very personal piece to me (aren’t they all) and something that I want you to connect with deeply. And I think you will. I honestly don’t want to say too much about the music, because the truth is if music is of any worth, it should be able to speak for itself.”

Laura Burhenn (of The Mynabirds)

American singer-songwriter Laura Burhenn is a shape-shifter who can't sit still. Since 2010 she's worked under the moniker The Mynabirds, releasing three critically acclaimed and stylistically different albums on Saddle Creek: What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood (2010) and GENERALS (2012), both produced by Richard Swift, and Lovers Know (2015). She has also toured as a member of the Postal Service (2013) and Bright Eyes (2011), helped found Omaha Girls Rock (a non-profit helping young girls find their voices), and in 2013 gave a TED talk based on her "New Revolutionists" portrait project, exploring what it means to be a revolutionary woman in this day and age. Before the Mynabirds, Laura was a member of DC indie band Georgie James with Q And Not U's John Davis, and also put out two self-produced solo albums on the label she founded herself, Laboratory Records.

Through all of her transformations, there's one thing that remains constant: her voice. She's been compared to Cat Power, Fiona Apple and Adele. And while her songs might show up dressed in new ways on each new release, they still very much embody Laura's distinct songwriting style. "I've always been most inspired by the songwriter chameleons," Laura says. "David Bowie, Harry Nilsson, PJ Harvey, Bjork. They play — with their arrangements, their tones, their personas. But when it comes down to it, every song could be strummed on guitar, or played alone at a keyboard. And at the heart of it, they're storytellers." Laura is setting out on a full US solo tour this fall, stripping all of her songs back to bare bones, the way they were originally conceived: just a piano and her voice.

On Lovers Know:

After touring the world as a member of the Postal Service in 2013, Laura Burhenn took a year to get lost. She drove across the US twice, toured South Africa solo, made her first appearance in London (also solo), and trekked all over Europe with William Faulkner's words ringing in her ears: "You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore." Finally she found herself in Los Angeles with a suitcase of songs to fill a whole new album.

Lovers Know, The Mynabirds' third full-length release (released August 7, 2015 on Saddle Creek), was recorded over a yearlong period in Los Angeles, Joshua Tree, Nashville, and Auckland, New Zealand. It's definitely new territory for Burhenn, forging into 80s, 90s and futuristic soundscapes, recalling Kate Bush, Sinead O'Connor, Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and even 90s hip hop and R&B. The album may be loaded with a fresh palette of new sounds (swarms of synths, gauzy electric guitars, and electronic drums), but her brooding, unmistakable voice leads the way.

Whereas her last album, GENERALS, watched from a wide angle to understand the world at a distance, Lovers Know pulls in close. "There's something about wandering the world over," Laura says, "that makes you realize how similar we all are – everyone searching for something, so often the same thing: love. It may sound trite, but it's true. Love – or the lack of it – is the thing we all have in common. It can destroy us. It can break us open and let the light in. And it's also the thing that can make us sing."

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