Azure Ray have had a pretty interesting career when you think about it. Consisting of Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink, the pair met aged 15, fronted a band called Little Red Rocket (releasing two albums) and then a few years later they created 'Azure Ray', which led to a move to Omaha, Nebraska. Anyone with a passing interest in American Indie music over the last 10 years will know all about the scene from Omaha, with Saddle Creek being a veritable magnet for musical talent. Last year the pair released their fourth album Drawing Down the Moon (their first album since 2004), which was received well. With a European tour around the corner, we caught up with Orenda Fink to talk about the album, Saddle Creek and their forthcoming tour. So, after your long hiatus, what inspired your reunion? Our reunion was inspired by the fact that we just started hanging out more together. Maria was living in Los Angeles at the time, and I was touring with Rilo Kiley, so staying in LA for rehearsals. I would stay with Maria when I was in LA, and we just really reconnected. We were spending more and more time together and finally just said- if we are spending this much time together, we should be making music as well. Tell me a little about how you write songs. Has the process changed since you’ve reunited? We kept the writing process mostly intact from the past. Generally we write each of our songs separately and then bring them to each other in demo form to comment on or add harmonies or melodies to. We did write one song together on this record, ‘Dancing Ghosts’, which is a first for Azure Ray. How do you approach working in Azure Ray versus all the other projects the two of you are involved with? Azure Ray is a true collaboration between me and Maria. We really see the project as the sum of our personalities together. Different projects might have different dynamics or levels of collaboration. It really varies. There’s that great Rilo Kiley lyric about going to Omaha to “work and exploit the booming music scene.” You guys were involved with that scene from the early days, despite hailing from elsewhere. How did you connect with the Omaha crowd originally? What drew you there in the first place? We moved to Omaha because we were both dating boys that lived in Omaha, so it really just made sense for us to relocate. Also, we had just signed with Saddle Creek, so that was another reason to move. We always felt very welcome in Omaha. There is a sense of artistic community there that we were familiar with from living in Athens, Georgia, so in a sense, it felt like having a second musical family. Are you still connected with other bands from the Omaha/ Saddle Creek music scene? Yes, most of us are very close friends still. How do you feel about Drawing Down the Moon in context with the rest of your output? We tried to approach Drawing... as a continuation of where we left off seven years ago with Hold On Love. We felt like that would really reconnect us to the original essence of what Azure Ray is. We love the record and are enjoying playing the songs live. They fit seamlessly with the older songs, which is something we were hoping for. Drawing Down the Moon seems to draw influences from a larger variety of sounds, was that a conscious decision? For example, ‘Laraine’ wears its country-folk inspiration more boldly than I’m used to for Azure Ray. Maybe not a conscious decision, but we definitely are open to arranging the songs in different ways according to what we, or our producer, Eric Bachmann, will feel best to communicate the song. Larraine made the most sense to have a country-folk leaning, rather than electronic or drum heavy or ambient style production. You guys got a lot of exposure through television shows back when you started out. I’m pretty sure that Safe and Sound” was used at some point by nearly every show on the now-defunct WB network. How did you manage to connect with iconic shows like Buffy? That was something that always came to us, actually. Maybe there is just something of a cinematic quality to our vocals and production, but we have always been very lucky with licensing. You guys obviously collaborate with a lot of great artists. Who’s in your dream wish list of artists you’d like to collaborate with but haven’t yet? We'd like to work with Danger Mouse some day. What’s next for Azure Ray? We're about to embark on a European tour in February, then hit Japan and Korea in March. After that, we will be working on other projects for a bit before we come back to do another Azure Ray record. Maria is finishing up a new solo record, and I am working on a project with my friend Cedric LeMoyne (Remy Zero), called O+S and also working on tracks with my husband, Todd Fink (The Faint, Depressed Buttons)
Azure Ray will be heading out on tour around Europe from February, starting with the Borderline in London on the 2nd