Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Morning Show Host John Richards, is “Boxer” by Lovers from their album Dark Light available from Badman Recording Co.
With a left hook that comes out of nowhere and everywhere at once, Lovers alight the Portland music scene with an interesting blend of confessional, synthy, pop, folk that proves quietly addictive. Singer/songwriter Carolyn Berk has been performing her music solo and with others as Lovers for quite some time in Portland and across several continents but recently expanded the project with the addition of performance artist/synthecist Kerby Ferris and percussionist/multimedia artist Emily Kingan. The trio’s convergence was kismet:
Kerby and Emily know each other basically from being queer and living in Portland in the 90s. Kerby’s from here and Emily moved here to go to Reed College. Meanwhile, I was living in Athens, GA, playing as Lovers with different musicians. Years later I moved to Portland, but by that time Kerby was living in Brazil. I met Emily around town and we became good friends. Some cosmic magic led me to Brazil where I met Kerby. I’d never met her before but we had a ton of mutual friends, and I wound up needing a place to stay in Sao Paulo and she put me up for a week. About a year later she decided to move back to Portland so we could work on music together. Emily joined the band and the rest is history.
The time Kerby and Carolyn spent in Brazil proved to be highly influential on the direction they would take Caroyn’s music. It became more pop-oriented and synth-driven, filling the hole left by the Postal Service but adding the power of a three-part female harmony. Today’s featured song, “Boxer,” bridges the gap between two genres the way Ben Gibbard’s “Such Great Heights” sounded just as good on an acoustic guitar as it does on the dance floor.
Carolyn Berk took a few minutes to reveal a little of the magic that makes Lovers’ music work.
You’ve often said the band feels close enough to be sisters. How does that dynamic influence the music you make or the way you play it?
I think you can really hear how much fun we’re having and how much we really love, respect, and enjoy each other. We’re all each other’s cheerleaders. So I feel very free to be my most vulnerable creative self.
Carolyn, you’ve been performing your music in more of the singer/songwriter vein through much of Lovers’ lifetime, how did this new synthy direction come about?
Basically I wanted to try something new. This is much more fun to perform live.
How collaborative is Lovers after carrying the weight of the project on your back all these years?
It is completely collaborative. Lover is equal parts, me, Kerby and Emily.
What can you tell me about “Boxer?”
It’s a very reflective love song, I think. There’s a little bit of wonder in there too. Always.
What’s next for Lovers?
Well, we’ll be up in Seattle on March 21st… we’re touring the West Coast with the band MEN. I’m working on songs for the next album and bringing them to the girls. Emily’s working on a live video for “Don’t You Want It.” We’ll have our next album out early 2012. I guess we’ve gotta give this one a chance to sashay around a little bit.
Indeed. They will also be LIVE on KEXP this coming Tuesday, 12/14, at 9:30AM on the Morning Show with John Richards. Be sure to tune in. You’ll also want to keep an eye on their Myspace Page and website for further updates. For now, here’s their performance of “Peppermint” live at the TB:A Festival in Portland this past September: