cloudlight's debut ep is a beautiful dreamscape of sounds. jessica fogle, aka jessica in the rainbow, has a siren like voice; like you'd imagine a mystic guide through a dark forest to have. she also plays the piano through out the album. bryan ralph adds melodious guitar and ukulele to the mix, and vocals reminiscent of brian ring of the duluth, mn band lion or gazelle. the newest addition to cloudlight is mackenzie carlson and he plays the electric mandolin - enough said. "the name is inspired by their time together in northern michigan, traveling around michigan’s pinky on a slightly overcast but otherwise lovely day." and after hearing their music i'd have to say it's definitely a fitting name. like viewing the light of a fresh sunrise beaming through the clouds as you're coming down from a psychedelic trip, cloudlight's whimsical sound gently carries you to your happy place with a newfound sense of clarity. the instruments sound raw and authentic, and they seem to weave effortlessly in front of, behind and alongside the vocals creating a powerful and dynamic wave of smooth sound. this ep is euphorically beautiful in an original way, exposing listeners to sounds that seem to inspire contentment and even comfort embracing and expressing your truest self. continue reading below to learn more about cloudlight from band members jessica and bryan.
cloudlight will be at speakez this evening at 8pm, event page here.
you can also preorder their album and receive two tracks here.
like them on facebook here.
stream some of their music here.
1. describe your collaboration process with your band mates:
jessica: i have very little experience with true collaboration (except in musicals/film). this is my first time in a band, really. so at the beginning, the process was very "write songs separately and then jam together." most of this first ep was created that way, in terms of writing. route twentytwo is the only one that was written collaboratively (i wrote a piano part, bry added words/vocals, then we edited a little together). but we're starting to explore writing together more, including on mac's progressions, and i've been loving it so far. as far as instrumentation, it's always been very collaborative and organic, everyone just sort of does their thing. i love it.
bryan: to be honest, it's different for each song. usually one of us will have an idea for a chord progression, then lyrics are improvised over the course of several days until a theme begins to stick out and then we will continue refining the instrumentation/effects/harmonies until we feel the song is complete. we also took a very d.i.y approach throughout the recording process, which lent us to shape a lot of the songs further still from a production standpoint.
2. what inspired you all to come together and create?
bryan: cloudlight stemmed from an opportunity for jess and myself to play at Lamp Light Music Festival in grand rapids, mi. the fest itself is a weekend long series of very personal house shows at multiple venues featuring music with an emphasis on just that, the music. this pin-drop silence allowed us to be more vulnerable and play songs that otherwise would never have seen the light of day, by playing together arose the ability to experiment with darker and more complex themes than we wrote individually. i wanted to go into more experimental guitar styles by way of effects, but doing this on my own felt somewhat lackluster, being a member of cloudlight created cohesiveness to the overall timbre of the songs produced. adding our electric mandolin player mackenzie carlson to the mix was a choice we made to further add to the overall quality of the music, which has always been the focus of what we do.
jessica: i've wanted bryan to play music with me since shortly after we met. i asked him to play on a Jessica in The Rainbow album back in 2014, but it was a bit too last-minute and spontaneous. i tend to create in intense bursts, whereas he tends to let new things grow at their own pace. we did perform a couple Wilco songs together in chicago in 2014 as part of a benefit for Rock for Kids, and did some brewery gigs together in west michigan in 2015, mostly just for fun or money, and then last year he learned a bunch of my JiTR songs for a benefit for this really great organization up north called Crosshatch, so over time it just seemed more natural and obvious to try something like this. also we received quite a bit of positive feedback about our voices together over the years, so it seemed like a collaborative project would be something other people would enjoy as well (and after making pretty obscure music for so long, i won't lie that it wasn't a bit refreshing to feel a little more like a crowd-pleaser when i made music with him :). so we pitched the idea to John Hanson, who is a champion for collaborative projects (so grateful for him and all he's done for the community!), and ended up writing a whole set from scratch a month before the show, asking our friend mac to join us on half the songs. it was fun and exciting and scary. overall i think mackenzie added a lot of chill to that process that we really needed, amidst all that self-created pressure. and we loved working with him so much for that show, that it just stuck. so i think since then, every time we've had a goal or deadline to work towards, we've all grown a little more connected and involved in this. it's not totally intentional, none of us set out to be in a 'real band' together, but it just works and feels great to play together.
3. what feelings were you guys attempting to capture throughout this EP?
bryan: if i were to describe my personal feelings for the ep in three words i would say: confusion, duality, and mindfulness. it's been described by jess's dad that the ep made him feel like he was getting high without the use of drugs, which is a great review imo.
jessica: i think i deal with a lot of despair, but i'm an overall incredibly hopeful person. the conflict between those two things, especially in the past year or so on this planet, has been harder for me to capture musically, so perhaps the feeling i'm personally trying to express on this EP is something similar to a really loving and understanding hug? and not to speak for mackenzie (he's on a camping trip in the smokies right now!), but during the practices just before the house show soft release i started calling him 'sparkles,' because he adds such a beautiful and necessary (in my opinion) brightness to each song.
4. what do you think would be the ideal environment to listen to this album?
jessica: if you can be somewhere alone, or with quiet chill friends, or anywhere that is conducive to feeling things, that would probably be best in my opinion. i like to listen to it while driving, or looking at anything in nature (forest, lake, etc).
bryan: anytime, anyplace, just one request, please don't listen on your phone speakers if you can help it, i suggest a quiet introspective place with decent headphones and an open mind to the sonic possibilities you are about to experience.
5. if you could have our President listen to one of these songs which would you pick and why?
bryan: i'd rather him not listen to any of it to be completely honest. if i must choose, i'd say pulse. the song starts from the perspective of the victims involved in the horrific club pulse shooting back in twenty sixteen and then the onslaught of politicians speculating on the events surrounding this tragedy seemingly for sake of furthering personal agendas rather than from a place of genuine concern. this contrasts the safety of the metaphorical walls of money and popularity that they've built to protect themselves from the very real issues of gun violence and mental health in our country.
jessica: i think bryan captured this one far better than i can. i don't know what he could gain from this, as i sense that he experiences life and thoughts and emotions far differently than i do. i also sense he values different things than i do. but what song do i wish he could hear with a truly open mind and heart, in which to have a cathartic healing experience? probably dream...as i think untangling some of the thought-threads that cause reactivity is a much more peaceful way to live, and i truly wish peace for everyone.
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