Lost in the Joy – The Busted Chandeliers release Postmarks and Timestamps

The four talented women of the Busted Chandeliers may have gone their separate ways a year ago, but not before they preserved their music. On May 9 at the Redstone Room, the group will be together again to celebrate the release of their CD “Postmarks and Timestamps”. They will be opening a show for the Ballroom Thieves, who are also celebrating the release of a CD. Editor Roberta Osmers had the opportunity last week to sit down with three of the Chandeliers, Maureen Carter, Erin Moore and Amy Foley. A conversation about their music and the creation of the album becomes almost lyrical in itself as the three complement each other in conversation just as they do on stage or in the recording studio.

These three college friends started out as a trio, initially just playing together for fun, but realizing they wanted to share their music with others, they began to play shows around the Quad-cities. Once they found drummer Erin Marie Bertram, they knew they wanted to record. In the fall of 2012 they began their recording journey at Sofia Global’s studio in LeClaire, where Rob Shawver and Cristina Sigala Cardier helped the four with their first recording experience.

“Rob and Cristina spent so much time working with us and being patient with us,” Carter said of their experience with the LeClaire couple. The other members agreed. They began by tracking 2 songs in the fall, recording live.

Then in the spring they recorded live again, picking up the rest of the songs and tracking drums and keyboards. Carter and Moore then went back to overdub guitar, bass and vocal parts.

It was an extended process, completed in April of 2014 when Moore and Carter went back one last time to record more vocals on one particular song, taking Bethann Gavin to make additional harmonies. Moore says “We were out there so many times!”

When recording takes such a long time, things change. Some songs are played differently live now than they were when the process began. The process becomes about letting go.

“Maybe we play it better,” muses Carter. ”There’s that moment when we just need to let go of some things.”

“This could be partly why we named it the way we did,” Foley explains. “A particular time and particular place there’s something fixed about that, though we continue to evolve past that, no matter the direction we end up going.”

Moore describes the capture as spontaneous. “You’re being moved by what you hear and throwing it down right there. Captured that moment.”

“We’re capturing many musical moments.”

They considered doing it all live, just going somewhere and recording 3 songs with few takes - likening it to a Daytrotter session. One concern they had was that they would put in too many layers of sound, making the recordings impossible to reproduce in a live setting. There is a fine balance to maintain. They feel confident they found the right balance.

They included a few friends in the process as well. Bethann Gavin provided vocal harmonies on Run, Abbie Sawyer provided vocal harmonies on Love is Bold, and Richard Washam provided the bass track on Home to You.

The group slipped into a philosophical discussion about the learning experience of playing and writing music together. Even now that they’re not regularly playing together, they have a knack for lifting up one another and seeing the many benefits each brings to the table.

Foley articulates the difference between playing alone and being part of a band:

“When I was in grad school, I played music with the only person I had ever played music with. She played hand drums. It was so fun to play the piano with the hand drums… that shaped the way that I played. But playing with all these sounds brings a fullness to what you’re doing in a different way – in a selfless way. There is a fullness in what I am doing, but in that I become soft in these moments, I become loud in these moments. It isn’t just me and my piano. It’s about creating something that is a mosaic of these sounds instead of something so singular as you sitting at a piano. The experience enhances the way I play individually. I’ve always been a lover of music, but to actually be participating in a project, it helps you to appreciate all dynamics and all music in a different way. I feel more moved by dynamics.

Your voice isn’t the most important – it is all of your voices together. ”

Moore has a similar take:

“You can play in a vacuum the rest of your life, but there is something about putting it all out there and playing with others makes you a better musician. I’ve never been able to get inside of a song. I have been able to lose time while playing, but not ever inside of a song until I began to play with other people. You can push your vision, but you don’t know that in letting go of it, you find it. Allow it to change shape in connection with others, rather than holding onto this vision that you initially had. “

And Carter had this to say:

“Playing with these ladies pushed me to want to be a better musician, a better artist.”

Each is a songwriter in her own right. Each has her own writing style. Lyrically, Maureen and Erin tend to be storytellers, with a more experiential, linear style. Amy and Erin Marie are poets, and their poetry is evident in their lyrics. With all four working full-time jobs, taking time to write together was a luxury. They worked individually on songs, but brought them to the group and the songs grew into a signature Chandeliers sound. Often a song will evolve once all four are working on it. Carter brings up the example of Wolves that she had originally written and brought before the group as a slow song. By the time they were finished, it was much faster – and she was very happy with the outcome.

Each had their favorite songs – but when asked about the most difficult, they all agreed it was Whiskey and Wine. This song was the newest on the list, so they had less time to settle into it. Yet they all also agreed it turned out so well.

Expect to see all four at the release. Bertram is returning for the party, but it isn’t known yet if she will be playing with the group. (We’re all hoping for at least one song!) Meanwhile, Matt Carter of Them Som’Bitches has been warming up with the band. The ladies convinced Matt to share a story about working with the Chandies. They were practicing one night and he looked up from his kit to see all three ladies swaying to the music with their heads thrown back in ecstasy.

Maureen Carter described that moment – and the entire Busted Chandeliers experience “We were lost in the joy.”