Just when I'm busy making headway in one artistic direction, life presents an unexpected use of my skills that hopefully opens up more doors of opportunity. Over a year ago, I was approached by an Olympia, WA band to help them with the design of a large cloth tapestry that they wanted to hang as a backdrop for their live shows... I had honestly not thought of this, and was like, "Wow, that's a really good use of these huge cloth prints!"
I hope you enjoy the following interview I did with Robert and Shawna of Birds of a Feather about their imagery and ideas behind the design of this tapestry we collabed on.
Robert and Shawna, you travel as a married singing duo… do you mind sharing the story of how you met? We met at church, we were 15...I remember Shawna flirting with me...she was untying my shoe. Her eyes looked up at me, so beautiful.
How did your band ‘Birds of a Feather’ come to be? Our name originated in a song I wrote for Shawna, the song was called 'Be my Marie' (named after her middle name). There was a line in it that said, "birds of a feather, crash together." We did a Vaudeville show seven years ago and we needed a name; Shawna remembered the line from the song, and since we both loved ravens and crows, it seemed like the perfect fit. We truly came together as a duo during that Vaudeville series. We played 6 nights in two weeks. It really brought us together as a singing duo...a much stronger bond musically. Trusting in each other night after night with only our voices and a guitar.
What kind of things does your band like to accomplish with its performances? There seems to be an emotional response you'd like to illicit in your choice of performance attire and dramatic black eye make-up. Our goal is to be able to help people feel something, to be touched emotionally by a song, melody, or our love for each other.
The "crow" and the "raven" are a symbolic part of your band imagery... what do they mean to you? Both the Crow and Raven are very intelligent birds which intrigue us very much so. They have a language with each other and can also be taught to speak actual words. As for the black eye make up and attire, that came from the Vaudeville shows. We were trying to find a twenties look... back then men and women wore very dramatic make up for performances, so it seemed perfect for Vaudeville... so it stuck after that. Plus it does work with the whole "bird" theme.
(For some fun facts about interesting Vaudeville performances of the past, click here. For a more linear historical article on Vaudeville, click here.)
You've mentioned the city of Astoria is one of your favorite places to play... what about the area attracts you? How do the visual vibes of the 1920's urban architecture and the surrounding county lands move you? Astoria was a place we fell in love with back in 1998... we first visited then on our honeymoon. We stayed a week and fell in love with the beauty of the city and the people. We someday hope to move to Astoria. As for the 20's building structures... well that makes a full circle with our love for the 20's art and style.
Got any interesting hobbies outside of music you'd like to share? Music is our true joy, it's something we focus on. We love photography and might take up painting soon.
These two lovebirds also enjoy working together at a famous northwest coffee roaster. So if you are in Olympia, I should mention to stop in for a great cup of northwest coffee at Raven's Brew, creators of the famous 'Deadman's Reach' dark roast sold on Amazon. Just don't try to push the human limits here on your dose... according to an interesting fact from the roaster's website, 100 cups of coffee in succession will in fact make you a dead man! On another thought, they also mention that the coffee bean originated from the same Rift Valley area of Ethiopia, the birthplace of humans! So it's perfectly natural to partake of this gift from nature... I imagine it helped our early ancestors outrun a hungry lioness or two.
For a look at more tapestries I have designed, you can view the Product Design portion of my website. Many of my existing photos of the north coast can be made into tapestries for your home or creative use, and you can find a few for sale in my Etsy shop (click here).