edited by courtney marie
Do we have a treat for you today, Spiderfriends! It’s our Songwriting Scholarship release day, and this month’s incredible artist can also be found performing at our upcoming showcase this weekend. The crew invited Rachel Weaver to Shiny Sound Recording Studio in early September to make some noise and create something beautiful together, and today we’re unveiling the new track they recorded and released under Rachel’s musical project moniker, blendways.
Before you dive in to this musical oasis and interview, please allow us to first introduce you to the brains behind the music and our newest scholarship recipient! Rachel Weaver, if you did not know, is a certified badass in the Denton community: the Market Vendor Coordinator at the Denton Community Market, Garden Coordinator and lead Intern at Denton’s Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center, and board member for our hands-down-all-time-favorite-radio-station-forever KUZU 92.9 FM, where Weaver also produces an awesome non-music show called IN FORMED Radio on Sundays at 11 a.m.
We encourage you to check out all of Rachel’s projects: we’ve seen firsthand that there is nothing that this brilliant human can’t tackle with awe-inspiring compassion and talent. A prolific zinester, Rachel helped us put together our zine, LOW POWER RADIO, in collab with KUZU in January this year and is the co-founder and co-coordinator of Denton Zine & Art Party (which was a freakin’ BLAST). She also has a Master’s Degree from UNT in Environmental Philosophy studying farm and food issues and biocultural conservation. Needless to say, we were/are beyond thrilled that Rachel not only had the time and energy to participate in this project, but she was a total dream to work with too!
Listen to the final take of blendways’ gorgeous track, glass gem: a collage of found sounds and ambient dreams.
In the following exclusive interview, Rachel also answered a few questions for us about the recording process at Shiny Sound and how her diverse background influences her creative output. Be sure to come see Rachel play two collaborative sets live this weekend at one of our biggest shows of the year, SPIDERDEAD, too!
Tell us a little bit about your journey with music.
I began experimenting with playing ambient music a couple years ago, and I knew I wanted to incorporate natural sounds and field recordings in my work as I honed in on project ideas. I enjoyed the depth of sound in ambient and electronic music, and gathering field recordings of natural and human created sounds allowed me to study the ambient sounds throughout natural and created environments. The process led to an increase in deep listening and observation at the sounds occurring all around us. I began researching soundscape ecology and various ambient and experimental musicians that incorporate similar samples and recordings. I feel ambient music helps create a place and space for contemplation and immersion.
When you knew you'd have a half-day at Shiny Sound to record this song, how did you feel about it?
I was excited. I had a song I wanted to develop more and the opportunity to record really motivated me pursue new ideas. This was my first time in a studio setting like this, and I felt very lucky to be invited to create in the space.
What were your anticipations for recording?
I was looking forward to focusing on a song, and working on it with people other than myself and gather fresh perspectives.
What was the recording process like for you?
Once my gear was set up, I explained what I would be using and how, and the general flow of the song. We did a few recordings, and I asked to do one more, then talk about things from there. We talked for a bit about levels and mixing ideas — I would ask if certain things could be louder or quieter or adjusted in other ways, and everyone offered great feedback and ideas for the song. After some deliberation, we ended up agreeing the second take was the good one and to just stick with that. I felt Corbin, Jacob, and Conor had the best interest of the project and song in mind when we discussed options. Everyone was great to work with — I felt comfortable sharing my thoughts and ideas, and there was a good discussion of possibilities. I'm happy with how the song came together and new/future ideas the experience has revealed.
Can you give us a little background about this song (glass gem)?
To gather the field recording in this song, I placed the recorder between stalks of glass gem corn while the garden irrigation was running on a summer day. For blendways, there can be a sort of back-&-forth/call-&-response playing that occurs between sounds in the field recordings and the music I perform. I try to listen for key parts of the field recordings and time them or compliment them with the music, or vice-versa to allow the field sounds to compliment a part of the song.
What are your interests and passions outside of music?
All my passions interconnect with my root passion for environmentalism — primarily food issues, environmental imagination, and environmental justice. I work and create in order to share information and resources for environmental education, and to share environmental experiences through music, essays, zines, classes, radio, work, and any other formats I can. I enjoy attending, supporting, and participating in the local music, performance, art, and creative spaces/shows.
What or who are some of your influences as a musician/artist/writer?
Brian Eno's ambient albums, Kraftwerk, Pauline Oliveros, the collaboration album "Tomorrow, In A Year" (by The Knife, Mt. Sims and Planningtorock, based on Charles Darwin's writings), and the soundscape ecology work of Bernie Krause. The writings of Rachel Carson, Vandana Shiva, and Aldo Leopold inspire me to search for the poetic nature of the environments surrounding us.
What would you like to accomplish creatively within the next year?
I now want to record a full album for release, or at least a split release with another local project. And develop companion art pieces, writings, and zines for the album release, if I could do all that in the next year, it would be a fulfilling project goal to accomplish.
Rachel earned a Master’s Degree from UNT in Environmental Philosophy and studied farm and food issues, and biocultural conservation. She performs musically as blendways, and also Python Potions with Randall Minick, collaborating with other musicians, poets, and performers with either music group. Her work and creative endeavors are part of my going study of environmental philosophy and environmental science and art to draw connections between our natural and urban environments, art and nature, living beings and non-living entities. Rachel’s environmental education work, zine publications, and performances are parts of a transdisciplinary environmental philosophy approach to evoke the environmental imagination, and maieutic practice.
If you loved the concept of this project, YOU'RE IN LUCK! We got to wondering, why don’t we do this all the time, with many different musicians, to create a whole catalog of new songs and sounds? With that simple idea, Spiderweb Salon’s Songwriting Scholarship has been born! We’ll be working with Shiny Sound Recording Studios, a lineup of professional studio musicians, and a new musician every month to record an original piece of music to share with the world. If you’re looking to get involved, send along a submission, and if you just need an awesome place to record your next project, look no further than Shiny Sound.