Author: Moorman, Trent
Date published: October 28, 2010
Journal code: STRR
AZURE RAY: HEADING TOWARD THE LIGHT
They say when you die, you head toward a light. Toward bright white luminosity. Very possibly through a tunnel. And very possibly while hearing the sounds of Azure Ray's Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink. For 10 years, Azure Ray have been tapping into a hazy yet lucid form of music that could most definitely line and caress the passage into the afterlife. There is a composed calm and a weathered tranquility to their songs. Scenes and thoughts are slowed and distanced. Taylor sings, "Seven days below us/Keep me hovered above the ground." Hailing from Athens, Georgia, and Birmingham, Alabama, respectively, Taylor and Fink are Southern oracles, and, I think, not of this earth. Through the years, they've collaborated with Moby, Bright Eyes, and recently, Japancakes. After a seven-year hiatus, they've returned with a new album on Saddle Creek Records called Drawing Down the Moon, which continues their reflective levitating. You look back/ down at your life, at your hands, your body, the lungs within-all too perfect of a machine.
How is it being on the road again? Any occurrences?
It's good! Shreveport has been the highlight thus far. There was a casino, and prostitutes, and praying, and dancing, and a lot of tequila.
The first song on the album, "Wake Up, Sleepyhead," is especially transportive. How did it come together? What's the instrumentation? And are you all like angels or ghosts? I mean, are you even here right now?
Yes, Trent, we are here. Our idea for that one was for the music to be harp and theremin, so we had a harp player come and lay down the basic tracks. Her interpretation of the song was a little different from ours, and we realized it after she left. So we ended up having to memorize that timing of the song for the vocals. It was challenging with close harmonies, but we honed in and got it. If you listen closely, the count of the song is pretty strange.
Do you all stay in touch with Moby? Do you think you'll ever work with him again? Is he really that small and bald?
We haven't kept in touch with him. It's been a few years. Not sure if we'll work with him again, but we had a positive experience with him, so we'd certainly be up for it. Actually, in person he's really tall and has a lot of hair.
You all have had some Courtney Love run-ins. What is your favorite Courtney moment?
One time, she made all of our friends get up and move from a dinner table when they already had their food and drinks, so that her celebrity friends could sit down. That instantly endeared her to us...
Read the rest of this interview at thestranger.com/music.