5 writers, 5 questions, 1 band, hand-picked by the MWA writers. Welcome to FIVE x FIVE. This week: nomadic indie-folk duo, Blessed Feathers.
After leaving home at 17, Donivan Berube joined forces with Jacquelyn Beaupré both personally and musically and the two set out to travel the continent. Creating emotionally charged indie-folk songs as Blessed Feathers, the duo has spent the last two years crafting their latest release in locations from Peru to California. Subscription record service Vinyl Me, Please recently announced There Will Be No Sad Tomorrow as their record of the month, marking their first release from an unsigned artist. Donivan was kind of enough to answer a few of our questions about the record for this week’s FIVE x FIVE.
How did you get hooked up with Vinyl Me, Please, and how involved were you in the process of setting up this exclusive edition of There Will Be No Sad Tomorrow?
I cold-called VMP the same way I cold-called Listening Party four or five years ago when we got our first break. They were incredibly helpful and entirely transparent in their business dealings throughout this whole process, giving us complete freedom with every aspect of the album while independently handling the extra-curricular art print and cocktail pairing the way they always do. My job was to make the best album I could possibly make, and their job was to hate it or love it. What more can you do?
You’ve mentioned that the album was recorded in several locations across the globe, where were some of the most inspiring and unique places you were able to get those songs tracked?
I wrote a lot of the music while working in Huaycán, Peru. It was January & February, which are their hottest months of the year, and to escape the heat and find some solitude I would strum myself to sleep on the rooftop. Only on the clearest nights could you see the moon, or maybe a star or two. But the mountains were always there, and the sunsets were always enough to send the rat-dogs howling.
You refer to There Will Be No Sad Tomorrow as “tormented and biographical.” Do you feel like recording the album has brought you some resolution? What direction to do you see the band going next?
After obsessing over the album for two-straight years, it became the sort of thing that you could go on fixing and changing for the rest of your life, without end. At some point it becomes not only necessary, but healing to push it away and say: “That’s the way it’s gonna be.” In so doing, that part of our lives is “in the books” as they say, and we can move on to the next chapter. I got so wrapped up in it all that I gave up several times, and felt like I was losing my sanity. But now it’s over and so it goes. We make records as if they’re photo albums, and when we look back at them we think: “Wow, if nothing else, this is at least a perfect snapshot of the last year, or two years, or ten.”
How do you think your upbringing has affected your songwriting? Alternatively, how did meeting Jacquelyn change the way you went about making music?
Jacquelyn has infinitely better taste in music than I do. Everybody understands that. No one in my family had much interest to speak of for music or instruments, so I could only lean on what I heard from the radio. If it hadn’t been for her, I’d probably still be trying to make soulless 90’s rock ballads. That being said my religious upbringing, and subsequent split from it, has at least given me something to howl about.
Do you think your sound would have remained the same staying in Wisconsin or has the nomadic lifestyle helped craft what Blessed Feathers is about? Do you feel like traveling has hindered your ability to connect with any local music scenes?
Where you are doesn’t mean so much as where you’re headed. There’s something to be said for the type of person it takes to walk away from what’s steady, to take that leap and hit the road. When I’m with a friend who’s hopped freights or biked cross-country or lived out of his backpack for a few years, there is something unspoken between us that understands one another. There’s no need to relate, because we’ve seen enough of the hard road to understand the differences in one another. There’s a plane of mindset that people can’t understand until they’ve lived that life. Tom Waits once said that “home is where the rabbit digs his hole,” and if you have that inside you, you’ll connect with everyone. There’s no need for a “scene.”
Make sure to check out Blessed Feathers on their social media channels and stream ‘There Will Be No Sad Tomorrow’ now on Bandcamp.