Willow and Wood’s music is transcendent: both a study of the geography of place, and the constant search for home. Each of the 11 tracks on the duo’s new album Tornadoes in My Head aches with hope and a broken heart. Falling somewhere between indie pop and country, they have created a sound rooted in a West Coast reverb-drenched loneliness, dripping with southern humidity and darkness – and determined to find the magic. Vocalist/songwriter Willow Scrivner met guitarist/songwriter Kevin Wood at small Seattle venue called the Dubliner. They began releasing music that made them critical darlings in The Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, Performing Songwriter and many others. They soon married – and found themselves growing tired of the grey of the Emerald City. Scrivner’s voice is part Stevie Nicks, part Kate Bush. She’s never afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve, most importantly in “Hanging from the Stars”, a metaphor of a marriage gone wrong when one person forgets to look skyward. Wood follows close behind with Daniel Lanois-inspired guitar work, nudging the duo into a place somewhere between Emmylou Harris’ Red Dirt Girl and the best of Mazzy Star. Producer Dexter Green took the reins for Tornadoes in My Head. Most of the tunes ended up telling the story of trying to find your home, all the unraveling and stitching together of family and loss. The end result is a gorgeous landscape of storms and clear winter nights, a folk noir masterpiece of confession. It’s an album of energy and tension that never quite releases.
What is your earliest memory of music? And, how did you get started in music? My earliest memory of music was in the church and in our home. My father was a preacher growing up, and we were always singing in the church. My mom was constantly singing or humming around the house. And my father collected records from his favourite county stars...I grew up with my ear pressed to the tweed speakers of our stereo, with record sleeves scattered around my feet.
I always sang in church and school through college, but I never thought I could write songs. I wanted to, just didn't believe I had it in me. It wasn't until I was living in a little studio apartment in Portland Oregon by myself, with an old guitar and broken heart that the door opened. I guess that's a magic trifecta right there - loneliness, an old guitar, and a broken heart. What was the first song you ever wrote? What or who inspired you to start writing music?
The first song I ever wrote was entitled "I Fell". I wrote it because of said broken heart, and it was about how I fell so hard for this person that it ended up breaking me. I was listening to a lot of my mother's old folk records then, and to Nick Drake, Tracy Chapman and Susan Vega, and I definitely think their sound inspired me. Do you play any instruments? If yes tell us about it. If not, do you work with a band or studio musicians? Do you produce your tracks or work with a producer?
I play acoustic guitar primarily, with some electric baritone and piano....and occasional banjo or banjo guitar here and there. My husband and I have collected a fun amount of toy instruments over the years that have been fun to add to recording.s We had self-produced our records for the past ten years, but with the upcoming new release, 'Tornadoes In My Head', we worked with producer, Dex Green (Elizabeth Cook, Heather Gillis, Derek Hoke, Awestruck, Collective Soul)
What is your favorite part about being an artist (performing, recording, writing, playing)? I love being an artist. It allows me to feel so much, and then to create something with what I see and hear and breathe. It allows my heart to be broken so that it can become bigger. During this time of pandemic lockdown on touring and playing live really has driven home how much that part of being an artist is important to me. I love performing live, and really miss it.
Do you have any advice for young women pursuing music?
It probably sounds trite, but I'd say Trust your gut! Don't beat yourself up, try and be in the moment, feel confident in asking for help when you need it. And listen, listen, listen. Listen to your heart, listen to all kinds of music, listen to found sounds, to nature, to silence. And have fun. For readers who have never heard your music, can you suggest one or two songs to start with?
Our new single, "Coming Down Hard" will be released September 25th, and we are really excited about it. This single, as well as the upcoming new record, is fresh with new skin, but it's lineage can be traced through my past records. You can find our two most recent singles on Spotify.
What do you feel your strengths are as an artist?
That's a really good, and tough question. It's way easier to point out my weaknesses, for sure. I try not to take myself too seriously...try to be open and remember to ask for help while still listening to my gut. Trusting myself has become easier lately. That's been a big one to try and master. Still working on that one, I guess it may be on of those things I'll be working on and reworking on for years.
For more information on Willow + Wood, please visit their website.