Half Waif, Petal
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Doors 7:00 PM
Sometimes, things just seem to happen for a reason. The pieces fall into place in unexpected ways, and life takes a turn no one could have predicted. This rings strikingly true for the solo career of Memphis, Tennessee's Julien Baker.
For years, Baker and a group of close friends have performed as the band Forrister (formerly The Star Killers), but when college took her four hours away, her need to continue creating found an outlet through solo work. The intent was never to make these songs her main focus, yet the process proved to be startlingly cathartic. As each song came into shape, it became more apparent that Baker had genuinely deep, surprisingly dark stories to tell from her thus far short life (she turns 20 this fall). Tales of her experiences are staggering, and when set to her haunting guitar playing, the results are gut wrenching and heartfelt, relatable yet very personal. There's something wonderfully hypnotizing about Baker gently confessing her soul with such tremendous honesty.
At the prompting of a friend, Baker ventured to Richmond, Virginia to record a number of her new songs at Spacebomb Studios. The tracks from this session were circulated among Baker's friends, meeting high praise and lots of encouragement for the songs to see a proper release. Soon, she found a home on 6131 Records' increasingly diverse roster, and plans were made to release her debut full length, 'Sprained Ankle.'
To call 'Sprained Ankle' a happy accident would be misleading as to the nature of these poignant, emotive songs. Yet no one, least of all Baker, could have predicted she'd be releasing an album, especially as a solo artist. Thankfully, now the world will be able to share in her passion and sorrow.
Nandi Rose Plunkett writes, records and performs under the name Half Waif. Her music is deeply personal and engaging, reflecting her lifelong endeavor to reconcile a sense of place. Raised in the bucolic cultural hub of Williamstown, Massachusetts, Nandi was the daughter of an Indian refugee mother and an American father of Irish/Swiss descent. She was one of Williamstown’s only non-white residents. As a kid, she listened to a wide mix of music that included everything from Joni Mitchell and Tori Amos, to Celtic songstress Loreena McKennitt and traditional Indian bhajans. In college, she studied classical singing and became enamored with the works of Olivier Messiaen and Claude Debussy. Her output as Half Waif reflects these varying influences, resulting in a richly layered collage of blinking electronic soundscapes, echoes of Celtic melodies and the sad chord changes of 19th-century art music.
Next to her touring schedule as a member of Pinegrove, Half Waif has already self-released two EPs and two albums – a split 7" with Deerhoof, the Future Joys EP in 2013, and then albums KOTEKAN (produced by Devin Greenwood) in 2014, and Probable Depths (produced by Zubin Hensler) last May. It was with Probable Depths that Half Waif caught the attention of the worldwide music media, with NPR singling out track ‘Turn Me Around’ and Pitchfork awarding it their coveted Best New Track distinction. It was also during this time that Half Waif’s relationship with Cascine began.
Half Waif’s latest work is newly complete. The form/a EP is a collection of tracks that expand on her exploration of home. She explains, “there’s an inherent restlessness in the way that I write and think about sound. I’m the daughter of a refugee, and somewhere in me is this innate story of searching for a home. As a result, I have many – a collection of places that I latch onto, that inspire me, that fuse themselves to me. I’m sentimental, nostalgic – yet constantly seeking what’s next, excavating the sound of my past and coloring it to make the sound of my future. I’m a child of divorce, fiercely loved but forced into independence at a young age; I rocket into relationships with the desire to find roots, commonality, to create stillness in the midst of public noise. In this way, my songs are like the notes of a large scavenger hunt, clues pinned to trees I have known, or tucked under rocks on my path, urging the listener to keep looking a little deeper, because maybe they will find something special in the end.”
form/a was released as a limited-edition 12” in February 2017 on Half Waif’s new label home, Cascine. Half Waif is comprised of Nandi Rose Plunkett, Zack Levine and Adan Carlo.
This record is kind of the apology, the confession and the acceptance of the ways I've felt shame in my life and trying to share it with others,” explains Petal lead singer, Kiley Lotz, of their new album, Shame. The melodically driven, indie rock record draws influence from Death Cab For Cutie and Pedro The Lion. Each song has its own sound but with tight drums and forward vocals, the album is cohesive in a beautifully textured way. Though Petal has stayed true to the sound fans have come to appreciate from the previous released EP, Scout, in 2013, this record shows growth with heaviness in both sound and content.
Lotz took three years to write the songs on this record and wrote them all with the underlying theme of dealing with her mental illness and seeing how it affected those around her. Discovering through her writing that everyone has shame and guilt, she started to wonder if the world might be different if everyone were more open and willing to accept help. Camera Lens is the first song on the record and deals with just that, her acknowledgment and apology for not asking for help when she needed it most. But the record isn’t just a sad experience from beginning to end. Heaven and Photo Booth are both honest declarations of love and compassion for another person. Lotz shines with her ability to express her feelings in such real ways.
It comes as no surprise that Lotz is able to express her emotions being that she comes from a theatre background. She moved to New York City after graduating college in Scranton, Pennsylvania to pursue a life on stage. She made her Off-Broadway debut last spring and even wrote a song from the perspective of a character she once played. “It triggered a lot of things for me personally that I wouldn’t change or regret. But it definitely made me write from a more honest, less scared perspective,” she says of her time since moving to the city. Luckily for Lotz, she’s also been helped by her friends and fellow musicians that make up Petal. Ben Walsh plays guitar and drums and Brianna Collins plays bass and co-wrote The Fire for the album. Collins also offers incredible harmonies on the record, which is a major draw for listeners of Petal.
Shame is the culmination of everything Kiley Lotz has experienced and learned over the course of the last three years. Though the title of the record is Shame, it seems that Petal should be anything but when it comes to how they should feel about what they have accomplished as a band.
Stage Plot: For Saturday Nov. 14th at SUNY Oneota will be: one 1 [one] vocal mic and one mic for acoustic guitar (no DI) at downstage center. Stage left will have one guitar cab (Blackstar combo). Two stools one at downstage center and one stage left.