Birdland Avenue is composed of four Birds: Evan Linsey, Kayla Pichichero, Toria Rainey, and Adrienne Rube. They all met performing a cappella at Boston University and soon began crafting their unique style of “neo-vocal pop”. With the help of loop pedals, samplers, and transformative effects, they craft their unique soulful and eclectic, beautiful music using only the sounds they can generate with their own body. Check out their new album Come Around and read on to hear more about its recording process.
How did you guys start singing together?
Toria: We started singing together in late 2014. After all meeting in our college a cappella group, we decided to do a cover of Ella Fitzgerald’s Summertime as a one-off at our group’s show. After that we kept singing together and eventually formed the band in 2016!
What sparked the transition from covering other artists’ music to writing your own this year?
Evan: Doing covers really helped us discover mutual inspirations and patterns we like in the music we admire the most, but I think writing originals was always in the back of our minds. After some hits and misses using our loop station to try to reinterpret our covers, we realized that it was actually easier just improvising small ideas and building upon them – both individually and as a group. We put out 2 live performance videos of “Breeze Baby” and “Rabbit Hole,” and the positive response and pride in making the songs from scratch was the push we needed to fully dive in to writing as a group, which has been an incredibly rewarding way to tell all of our stories in a way we weren’t fully able to with covers.
You describe your sound as neo-vocal pop, but not necessarily a cappella, can you explain exactly what neo-vocal pop entails?
Toria: To us, neo-vocal pop is all about using the voice in new, inventive ways. There are elements of neo-soul in our music, such as complex harmonies and thoughtful lyrics, but it’s different from traditional a cappella in that we integrate technological elements like loopers, vocoders, and vocal samples.
Do you have a favorite track on the album?
Toria: My personal favorites are I’d Understand because of it’s 90s R&B vibes and vulnerable lyrics, and Sapphire & Gold because it’s something unlike anything we’d ever done before and it was the most challenging to write.
Kayla: Yeah I agree, I’d Understand is up there for me as well – I think lyrically it’s something that a lot of people can relate to and was pretty cathartic to write with each other. Anything Forever is also pretty special – we asked our friend Francisco (Noel Pancho) to add a verse on this song and it couldn’t have worked out better. He wrote it just a couple weeks before he was getting married and his personal story really brought the track to life.
Evan: From a production standpoint, I really mangled and recontextualized vocals to create a bunch of different sounds on Rabbit Hole, and I’m really proud of how that turned out.
Did you ever find it difficult to write songs strictly for vocals, as opposed to using instruments to fill the space that usually goes underneath a vocal line?
Kayla: Not particularly – The first song we ever wrote together (Breeze Baby) actually started with a guitar riff which we then adapted to vocals, but all our other songs started with vocals as the base. When songwriting, Evan will usually put together a chord progression on the loop station and then we just let that play for a bit until we find a certain melody that works over it -but having a basic chord structure underneath everything makes it easier to build and add layers from there.
Evan: For this record, we thought about the voice as our primary instrument – basically as a synthesizer that can both generate and manipulate sound. While that theoretically seems restrictive, it was actually very freeing and forced us to be creative and intentional with every element we put into the songs.
What can we be expecting from you guys in the future?
Evan: We really put the pedal to the metal to finish this album in a really short amount of time, so we’re taking some time to decompress and weigh our next moves. We have some performance opportunities in 2019 which we’re excited about, but ultimately the goal is always going to be learning and growing and making new things!
Birdland Avenue Socials
“Come Around” – bit.ly/comearound_