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Now Streaming: Bird Call’s “Year of the Dogfish”

Bird Call, the musical project of Chiara Angelicola is releasing their first album since 2013.

Year of the Dogfish is a collection of songs written by Angelicola in 2016, giving an honest insight into her life. The title track was released as the debut single alongside a music video.

Angelicola produced the album herself alongside friend and engineer Gabriel Galvin of Four Foot Studios in Brooklyn, NY.

The album also features contributions from former producer Bryan Senti (Mark Ronson, Rufus Wainwright, Feist), Lyenn (Mark Lanegan). It also includes contributions from the Budapest Film Orchestra. Mastered by Patrick Brown at Different Fur Studios (San Francisco, CA). All songs are written by Chiara Angelicola. Album Art by Mario Santizo (Guatemala City, Guatemala). Album jacket layout and design by Olivia Hutto Lopez.

The Conversation

Ryan Miller:  We are so excited for the debut of Year of the Dogfish! In addition to working on this album, what have you been up to since your previous release?

Chiara Angelicola: It has been some time since Bird Call’s last release in 2013. Since then, I ventured into a different sound with a different project called Motel Pools and released a couple of EPs under that name.

I think leaving New York in 2013 required some fresh perspective and musical work as well. It allowed me to really cleanse my creative palette. I began writing for the new Bird Call record in 2017 and worked on the production of it in patches while I moved to Los Angeles and also opened up my business, Silver Lake Center for Creativity, a small school for creative learning in central LA.

RM: Where have you found your inspirations during this writing process? Whether that be lyrically or even sonically?

CA: I’d say inspiration is not always my first word when beginning the process. I’d say it begins with a feeling as I have only ever had the impetus to create music as a means to express and process life experience. So, in that regard, my biggest inspiration is life itself. Although most of the lyrics and narratives in my songs are conglomerates of events rather than specific people or moments in my past, I do tend to emphasize feelings and sentiments that have been the most challenging for me to process. For this record specifically, I focused on the complexities of longing, desire, loss, and recovery.

RM: I know for every artist, choosing your first single can be a difficult task. What drew you to selecting “Year of the Dog?”

CA: I chose to first premiere the title track, “Year of the Dogfish,” in September, alongside its music video. I feel like YOD best represents the album as a whole, both thematically and sonically. Musically, you are introduced to the spectrum of texture and energy the record will encompass. Lyrically, YOD was essentially a representation of the year 2016, which is the year I first began to write this record and the year I began a series of personal transformations and self-work.

I think 2016 best represents the most challenging intrapersonal year for me, when I had to confront a lot of old ideas about myself, health, and career that no longer served me. Although the record ends on the other side of that experience, with tracks like “Chroma Love” and “Walk in the Park,” I feel that it was important to call the record Year of the Dogfish as I wouldn’t have gotten to the joyful place I am in my life now without it. It’s important for me to honor that suffering. 

RM: Just by looking through these incredibly unique songs on the track list, “Cobra Mama” and “Fuck It, I Don’t Know” really catch the eye. Can you tell me about the inspiration behind these two tracks?

CA: Thank you for noticing those songs. I think they are both very different from each other as well. “Cobra Mama” is placed towards the beginning of the record thematically more aligned with “Year of the Dogfish.” If you consider the progression of the record to be a timeline of events for me, then “Cobra Mama” really demonstrates a bit more of the suffering and resentment I was experiencing at the time, particularly in my relationship.

“Fuck It, I Don’t Know,” falls more in the middle of the record, as I’ve experienced a bit more resignation from the past and suffering. I literally say, “Fuck it, I don’t know” in a cheeky but more surrendered tone.

RM: With this being your first full length release since 2013, tell me about the changes you’ve noticed in not only the music, but the writing process behind it?

CA: I don’t think I’ve experienced any changes in my writing process. For me, the writing is typically a fluid, slow, and natural progression where the piano and melodies are the first conduits for expressing a feeling. After those initial thoughts are captured it’s usually a bundle of months of editing and revisiting before I move on to capture demos. I like to have demos fit for mixing, so to speak. They usually include a lot of vocal treatment ideas, concepts for mixing, and most of the instrumentation and arrangements. It makes my conversations in the studio during tracking and mixing more fluid and I’m better understood. 

There have definitely been changes I’ve noticed in the music, however. I would say this is the most authentic sounding expression of Bird Call I’ve done. It’s the first record I’ve produced for Bird Call on my own, and I think sonically I gravitated towards culling all of the sounds I’ve worked with along the way. Overall, I wanted the record to sound like a confession or story being told in a small room, but you could still embellish it with orchestration and big horns to dramatize feelings. There are elements of older Bird Call, more stripped down and organic. While there are equally several moments where the synthetic sounds of Will We Get to Mars? can be heard as well.

RM: With the LP releasing, do you have any upcoming shows to support the record?

CA: We will be playing a handful of shows in NY and LA to promote the record at the top of the year.

RM: Who are you listening to right now?

CA: As of late it’s been a rotation of the following: Sibylle Baier, Amen Dunes’ record Freedom, Timber Timbre, Voice on Tape, Zsela, and Jesca Hoop. 

 

Photo by Katherine Zembera

 

 

 

 

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