Header graphic for print
The Other Steve Miller
Posted in Songwriter Chronicles

Andrea Desmond: The Cupboard Sessions

With the RAW Artist Showcase and Fashion Show @ Trinity Nightclub taking place tonight, I thought it an appropriate time to write about my recent collaboration with Andrea Desmond, the event’s musical headliner.

According to her website (and from what she told me personally), Andrea has a rich history writing and performing in various groups, such as the all-girl That’s What She Said, and Decades, a popular cover band based in Chico, Calif., among others. She also holds a music degree from the University of California, Chico.

Our musical paths converged in late July, two days after returning from my storied visit to my home state. I was contacted by Zach Warnes, who said his new-to-Seattle friend, Andrea, was looking for a guitarist for an upcoming gig, which are always sweet words to hear. Later that night, Andrea contacted me via Facebook private message. I visited her website and listened to the songs posted, and was immediately drawn to her sophisticated song structures and crystalline-pure voice. Without hesitation, I responded to her message, saying I was very interested in lending my guitar work to her sound. Later that night, we spoke over the phone for a little while to get a sense of each other’s style and influences. (Let’s just say that I’m glad I gave up playing Slipknot and Creed 10 years ago.) When me met the next day for our first practice, we clicked immediately. A month and a half later, we’ve added the missing pieces — Matthew Vance on bass and William Mapp on drums, both of whom also play with Seattle group the Pilot Lights. We call ourselves Andrea Desmond and the White Lights. Check out her Facebook artist page, in case you didn’t earlier.

As mentioned in my last post, I recently moved from the Central District to Capitol Hill (both in Seattle), which was not only important personally, but musically as well. Since the move in last month, Andrea and two of the three Bright Lights (no William; the drumming may push my luck with the building management) have held regular practices in my kitchen. I don’t have any chairs at the moment, so we sit on the gray rubber bins that house my books and other personal belongings; they (the bins) are surprisingly comfortable (for bins, that is), though their structural integrity has been pushed to the limit this last month. Lack of quality of furniture aside, the space has proved ideal for holding mini-practices. And recording, as well.

In one of our meetings before adding Matthew and William, Andrea wanted to record a song or two using her MacBook webcam. In my apartment devoid of tables or desks, and with limited access to three-pronged electrical outlets, however, our options for computer placement were limited. We needed something close to eye level, so as to not seem like we’re towering like giants over the viewer, or craning our necks like young children looking up to their parents. This ruled out the countertop and the fridge. What ever were we to do?

One advantage of being recently moved into a place is that the cupboards are usually empty, waiting to be filled. Such is the case with my current place, calling to mind the line from the classic Bush (not George Dubbin’) song,”Little Things“: “The cupboards are empty, we really need food.” But I say this is an advantage because, until those cupboards are filled with more mundane, necessary things, one can put anything of reasonable size in them — shoes, liturgical calendars, journals from 2008, P90X DVDs, or, for our purposes, a MacBook. And when we placed said MacBook in said eye-level empty cupboard and put a sepia filter on the webcam, something magical happened — and that something is known today as the Cupboard Sessions.

Below are a couple of Andrea’s songs, presented in their rawest, purest, barest, piano-est, acoustic-est, built-in-MacBook-microphone-est form. I’ll forego the track-by-track breakdown — seeing how they’re not my songs — but I will say each were a treat to record, and continue to be a treat the more we play them. Andrea and I had originally recorded five or six, but those have since been removed by user. If those pop up someday, I’ll make sure to post them on this blog. For now, enjoy “Lullabies” …

… and “Olden Days.”

Update: The music video for Andrea’s song “Run” has been nominated for Best Music Video in the Artist in Music Awards. After you’re done watching the video, make sure to cast your vote. Thanks in advance for your patronage.