Happy new year!
Happy new record!
2018 has been an exhausting and gratifying year from beginning to end. When I rang in the New Year, I had just come home after a tour of nine countries. Incredible Distance came out in February and I set off on my second tour of Japan. In March, while still in Japan, I celebrated my five-year anniversary with my partner Adam. In June, I graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.A. in Russian. In July, I went to Brooklyn to record a couple dozen vinyl records at Leesta Vall, each capturing a unique performance dedicated to the person who ordered it. (And I made a few extras!) While I was there, I also appeared on the mürmur podcast (episode 277). Then I headed to Boston to play a house concert, and I had the great pleasure of meeting some wonderful people who have been following my music for almost as long as I’ve been making it. In September, an article I wrote about Russian LGBT issues was published in The Gay & Lesbian Review. I also took a trip to Eastern Oregon to enjoy some birding and do research for the young adult novel I’m writing (which will hopefully be out there in the world in a couple years). And in November I moved to Portland! I’ll miss everyone in Eugene, but like a freshly repotted plant I’m excited to grow in ways I couldn’t before.
Somewhere in there, I started assembling this new record, Look at the Harlequins! What I envisioned as a humble little EP evolved into something more akin to a mini-LP, with a team of two dozen people behind it (compared to eight people on A Troubled Piece of Fruit and thirteen on Incredible Distance).
I had the title — a line from the song “Grey & Green,” borrowed from Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Look at the Harlequins! — for about a year, and I knew I wanted to somehow showcase a Harlequin Duck on the cover. For a brief period, I was obsessed with an far-fetched idea that involved a row of tiny Harlequin Ducks swimming along my blue-shaded eyelid. (Easier said than done.) Eventually, I stumbled upon Dr. Lisa Buckley’s fabulous #BirdGlamour looks on Twitter. A month or so later, the possibility of a bird-glam cover photo finally dawned on me, and I contacted Dr. Buckley. She designed this glorious Harlequin Duck makeup look, Rheanna May Murray applied it to my face, and Kai Hayashi shot a brilliant set of photos.
You can already listen to “Pompeii” —the first single from Look at the Harlequins! — on Bandcamp (see player to the right of this post). Pre-order Look at the Harlequins! (digital / physical) now and you’ll get an instant download of “Pompeii,” and then next week you can come back to get the second single, “Overwintered”. Pre-orders really help me make a bigger splash on release day — and thus make way onto new listeners’ radars — so thank you for the early support!
If you’re in or near Eugene or Portland, I hope you’ll join me for the release shows on January 11th at Eugene Piano Academy and January 18th at Classic Pianos (next to Aladdin Theater). Ticket sales from these shows will benefit the Lane County Audubon Society and Portland Audubon. The show in Portland will be opened by fabulous pop-soul singer-songwriter Karyn Ann.
Thank you for supporting me and my music, and for helping me get it into more people’s ears. It means the world to me.
Take care, and happy new year!