Portland, OR based band Alameda released their sophomore album, Procession, in September this year. The combination of acoustic guitars and banjo with orchestral instrumentation including violin, cello, clarinet, trumpet and French horn creates a lush and dreamy backdrop for Stirling Myles’ haunting vocal. Procession is a well crafted album filled with beautiful sadness and soothing tension.
We were able to catch up with Stirling on tour on the road between Wichita and Denver.
Question: How is the tour going?
Stirling: The tour is going immensely well! Every stop we're playing (except for Denver) we've never been to before and it's amazing to see all of the people coming out to support us! With any trip, there's highs and lows, but that has only brought a richer experience. We're touring in a 4-person car that we've fit from 2 to 5 people into over the course of the trip. We've stayed in everything from wonderful houses like one in Gainesville, FL with tortoises and chickens in the backyard, to seedy motels outside Birmingham, AL.
Question: Is the whole band with you?
Stirling: Jenn was only with us for our Daytrotter session and Chicago. We toured as a four-piece for about a week (Madison to New York) and have been on the road as a two-piece (Jessie and I) for the last half.
Question: How did Alameda start?
Stirling: Jessie and I have been playing for the better part of 9 years in various different projects. I approached Jessie with some songs that I wrote (the first ones I wrote on my own) and we started to arrange them together. Since then, we've been bringing dear friends of ours into the mix over the past 2 years and have been collaborating with them ever since!
Question: How is your songwriting process? Collaborative or solo?
Stirling: I write the initial ideas and sketches, some more complete than others. I bring them on the table, and we all tear it apart from there. I'm grateful for everyone's unique perspective and input into the songs, it's a very collaborative environment.
Question: Who inspires you?
Stirling: Paulo Freire. My intense and wonderful family, and my supportive friends.
Question: Who is Jack Spicer?
Stirling: Jack Spicer was a San Francisco poet who lived a short, beautiful and strange life. He wrote "Serial Poems" which were "transmissions" (dictations) from the Outside, using the comparison of the poet as crystal-set or radio receiving transmissions from outer space, or Martian transmissions. I wrote Summer Dharma in a haze of food poisoning in a day with him in mind.
Question: I was in Oaxaca in March, with an organization that helps kids in the Vincente Guerrero community, near the garbage dump. When I saw you had a song titled Oaxaca it immediately caught my eye. What is your connection with Oaxaca and what is that song about?
Stirling: That's amazing!! Oaxaca is very very special place for me. I've spent a good amount of time there in different contexts. I "lived" there for about 6 months at one point when I was younger, and one of the most spiritual times for me was during Day of the Dead. There's a lot of dynamics with that time and a lot of experience with that part of the year for me. It's a gorgeous time and a celebratory time, embracing transition and impermanence. I wrote this song with a few emotions that surround this passing of time.
Question: What have you been listening to while driving on this tour?
Stirling:: A ton of books on tape (The Violent Bear it Away, American Gods, a lot of H.P. Lovecraft, etc...) We've been listening to a lot of Beach House and Raymond Byron (who we toured with for the first week of the trip).
Question: And finally, what are the essential stuff you always have in you bag/purse/pocket?