How did we carve to this? I guess we whittled from the inside out at first, trying to cultivate and catapult these small songs over the castle wall. With instruments, levers, wires, and the sturdy and encouraging hands of friends, we formed the art project/band, Breathe Owl Breathe.
Before the band came together, I was studying printmaking, Andrea was giving cello lessons, and Trevor was reading and making maps. When I first met Andrea we played music all day outside under a shady tree. Later that same day, we made a recording of short story songs inside a small messy room with drawings on the wall. The day I met Trevor, we played music inside a dorm room and later made a movie about zombies. The recording was a think piece; the movie was a romantic comedy; and we were friends forever (at least).
The name Breathe Owl Breathe came from a dream I had. There was an owl that was cutting its way through the cold, still night. Whoever was doing the cinematography of the dream—my hat's off to them. It was from the perspective of just above a field mouse scurrying through blades of grass. The mouse then found a little divot in the earth, laid down on its back, and gave a last breath. The breath rose up into the sky, passing by the owl's beak. The owl gave a breath, turned its head, and decided to fly away. Suspended in the air, I watched the owl weave its way out of sight, flapping three flaps on one wing before switching to the other wing to do the same. I had never seen a bird fly that way. I woke up and wrote “breathe owl breathe” on the window sill with a ballpoint pen, then fell back to sleep. The pen was out of ink, so the writing (I discovered later that morning) was more of an indentation of the words into wood. I called Andrea up, she wrote down Breathe Owl Breathe, the dream came back, and we had ourselves a name.
Our first show came a week later. I was doing some day work in Grand Rapids (Michigan) pounding nails up on a rooftop, when my friend Patrick came running down the street yelling, “You're opening up for Little Wings!” It was meant to be an art show as well, of illustrations and prints by Kyle Fields (a.k.a. little wings). Unfortunately, his art did not arrive by mail in time. So instead, Kyle was drawing on the walls with markers as the night unfolded, listening while he drew. This show meant a lot to us.
Andrea and I played together for two years, writing, singing, bowing banjos, and stitching albums together before Trevor jumped on. Trying to put our hands in the work, with original woodcuts, silkscreens, and drawings on each album, was important to us. Once, we even drew with crayons on the labels of our CD's—little did we know it caused people's boom boxes to smell like burning, melting wax. I'm proud to say we have learned from our mistakes.
Four years later we find ourselves sharing our third full length album “Ghost Glacier”, with plans to release it on vinyl in 2009. Carving our way through landscapes, we will be touring in the summer and fall. Stay warm and inspired. Keep cradling the cougar cub.
-Micah, January 2009