I first came across “St. James,” the debut song from the newly minted trio DYAN, late at night with my headphones on. I was immediately struck by the meditative quality of the track and it was only upon several repeat listens did I pick up on the searing guitar solo and subtle synth swells that further add to “St. James'” transportive quality.
There’s also the inspiration behind the track which I found immediately relatable at that time as the band’s Alexis Marsh details:
“I wanted a spare sound to reflect the openness of the prairies where I grew up, a community called St. James in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The landscape seemed to draw horizon-long lines of expectation into the future, which I didn’t realize I resented until I couldn’t find satisfaction in success despite my ambition. But it’s not an epiphany so much as a quiet realization, after the heartache of striving, that failure isn’t an end. And the next step doesn’t have to be made in shame. Just understanding.”
To help get to know DYAN and Marsh a little better, we sent her the SIMGE Survey to go along with a stream of “St. James.” Check out the responses, which I promise I read, below and look for DYAN’s debut album, Looking For Knives, out July 29th.
Name: Alexis Marsh
Instrument(s): Vocals, Guitar, Woodwinds, Synths
What sound(s) do you/your band make?
DYAN’s first album has a bit of a range – most of the songs are made up of parts Sam and I sent back and forth between Cincinnati and LA. We recorded one song, “Trouble,” live as a trio while mixing at La La Land in Louisville, KY because we wanted that interaction between us. So a song like that is whatever we could do in real-time: 2 guitars, drums with Kevin Ratterman engineering.
Pared down compared to something like “Of Love,” which has Sam layering violin and cello, myself on flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, saxophone, 4 or 5 guitar parts, percussion. And we love synths – particularly the Dave Smith Prophet 08 and the Teenage Engineering OP-1.
Some folk, some rock, some electronic, whatever else is floating around in our ears.
If you could have anything fall from the sky what would it be and why?
This morning I’d like David Bowie narrating Peter and the Wolf on vinyl or the Marilyn Minter x Miley Cyrus t-shirt for Planned Parenthood.
When I was a kid I used to love to…
Watch the segment on Sesame Street where they show a crayon factory:
An embarrassing phase in my life was when…
I was inexperienced in releasing albums and did survey’s for music blogs where I wasn’t even sure if they’d be read/cared about by the people asking for them.
The 1st album I purchased:
R.E.M.’s – Out of Time.
The last album I purchased:
Kendrick Lamar’s Untitled Unmastered.
My biggest insecurity:
See question #4.
You can easily win me over by…
You don’t have to. Let’s get a coffee and talk more about what you do.
After a show people compliment me most on my…
Something most people don’t know about me is…
That I was a jazz musician in Winnipeg and had a teacher similar to Fletcher in Whiplash. I don’t like to talk about it because I got over it but shit, those guys exist.
The band (artist) that altered my perception on life is Evan Lurie because of his score for Happy Accidents.
If not for music I would probably…
Winnipeg, MB, avoiding #11, but hopefully also working for the people in #3.
What are your favorite song lyrics?
“The Cuervo Gold, the fine Columbian, make tonight a wonderful thing.”
All of Mary Margaret O’Hara’s “I Don’t Care.” Whatever she sings in Jem Cohen’s Museum Hours I’d probably mark down as my favorite too. But there are so many, it’s exhausting. There are lyrics that can’t be the favorite of anybody because they’re the favorites of everybody.