Friday, February 20, 2009

Edison Woods - The Prettiest Band That Side of the Mississippi

No, really.

The New York-based band seems to be as much art as they are music - in addition to front-woman Julia Frodahl's dreamy, romantic, primarily slow and sad arias, Edison Woods seems to be as much characterized by its focus on visual art. Regular work with photographers and artists bring image in line with melody, meaning being a fan of Edison Woods will find you both beautiful music and seductive aesthetic.

Listening to newly-released The Wishbook Singles is enough to make any girl feel like a princess, living in a world of romance, elegance and wistfulness. "Finding the Lions" is perhaps the best embodiment of the escape Edison Woods offers. Showcasing Frodahl's airy voice, the characteristic artful use of strings, and enchanting lyrics, ("Gonna find the parade, gonna wear those colors, gonna marry the lions…") it is easy to see why Frodahl calls The Wishbook Singles her favorite music the band has ever made.

The following is the video for Edison Woods' most popular single, "Last Night I Dreamt I Would Last Forever," the perfect showcase of the visual and auditory experience of Edison Woods.

As a special treat for Wax Cylinders' first piece, I was lucky enough to land an exclusive interview with Ms. Julia Frodahl herself. Enjoy, and I hope you stick around to see where Wax Cylinders is headed!

Wax Cylinders: The visual art of the band - on merchandise, album covers, not to mention Alicia Reginato's direction in the video for "Last Night I Dreamt I Would Last Forever" - is a big part of the beautiful aesthetic communicated to the fans. Does the visual art come from a member of the band, or do you partner with artists in New York?

Julia Frodahl: We partner with artists from lots of different places. I think the music tends to attract a particular kind of visual artist, and we tend to know pretty instantly if we’re a good match. Alicia Reginato, Sean McCabe, Elisabet Davidsdottir and Daniela Molnar are some of the artists we’ve worked with. They have all added beautiful dimensions to our sound and aesthetic.

WC: The most striking thing about Edison Woods music to me, particularly in instrumentals such as Letter to the Garden, is the elegance of the string arrangements. As a cellist myself, I notice that only rarely do popular musicians use strings to their full potential. How and why does the band use strings in the way it does?

JF: I can’t say there’s a reason why. I’ve just always been deeply moved by the violin and the cello. Their sounds are spiritual. Like the human voice but without the perimeters of words. Edison Woods has had the pleasure of playing with some of the most precious string players in the world. People full of beauty and it materializes in the very way they touch the strings, there’s no question about that. Meanwhile, we arrange our songs so that whatever is in there has a purpose and can be heard. We carve out lots of space for that.

WC: The majority of Edison Woods' tours in the past years have been focused in NYC and Europe - do you have any plans for a US tour?

JF: We don’t currently have plans for a US tour and the reason, unfortunately, is financial. We’re a seven-piece band. I’ve been asked many times by business people to strip it down to three or four and tour the US. I’m sure something lovely could be created from that, but it wouldn’t be Edison Woods. The warm, hermetic embrace of sound that is created by the full group is essential. However, if we work directly with fans to set up shows in various places and pre-sell tickets for example, we could travel to other cities in the US and it would be wonderful. The expenses would be much lower that way. We’d love to hear from fans who’d like to do this with us.

WC: The costs of producing music, let alone touring, are daunting to bands without major label support. On, you've cited that it costs about $2000 to produce each song. What are the best ways for new fans to support Edison Woods?

JF: If fans would simply pay for the recordings they listen to, things would become more affordable to artists. Especially now that so many of us are doing it without labels and distributors. Most of the 99c you pay for a song on iTunes goes directly to us now, and it would really add up and make things like touring and recording possible if people would pay for their music.

WC: What is the most exciting thing happening with Edison Woods in 2009?

JF: Making music in the new Obama era, and the release of our Wishbook Singles album coming later this year. Of all the music we’ve ever made, this is my favorite.

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