The violin has proven to be a perfect fit in independent music, creating interesting sounds and gorgeous arrangements. Tinamou does a fantastic job of utilizing the the full scope of the instrument on their 2010 Providence EP. A collection of mature and complex songs that fit togetherperfectly. I had the opportunity recently to ask them a few questions and find out what Tinamou is all about:
We are a musical trio from the rust belt, blue-collar city of Cleveland, Ohio. We love each other very, very much; our friendship fuels our music. Our sound has often been categorized as indie/folk, though we draw influence from an array of musical genres and stylistic approaches. We have a love for both classical and jazz music, the foundational hubs from which other music is birthed. As a band, our mission is to make good music-music we love, and hope others will come to love. We desire to be architects of change and vessels of truth and love in a world where low-grade despair and hopelessness often reign.
Perhaps you already knew, but I had to consult Wikipedia to find out the band is named after a bird…a ground dwelling bird at that.
We chose to name ourselves after a Tinamou bird for a few reasons:
a.) Tinamous are rarely seen, but often heard. We liked that imagery, the bird is known by its sound.
b.) The name Tinamou has a bit of family history (our violin player’s parents have a consulting firm named after the bird, so we thought we’d carry on the tradition).
Tinamou’s music has a classic indie sound that is at the same time approachable. Their latest self released EP, Providence, has colorful instrumentation creating a full canvas of sounds and melodies. The violin is central throughout the album. On the E.P.’s opening track, Mr. Bones, you can almost hear the plucking of Andrew Bird. Tinamou is not just copying the sound of one artist though:
We are indeed fans of the work of Andrew Bird’s work. Other artists that influence us are Radiohead, Sigur Rós, Brad Mehldau, Punch Brothers, Sufjan Stevens, Miles Davis, Ravel, Bach, Nico Muhly, Nick Drake, and Patrick Watson.
Tinamou manages to capture a similar full, rich sound throughout their whole E.P., which is especially impressive for an act with only three members.
Obviously you can do things in a recording that you can’t always replicate live, or at least you may have different live arrangements. We had a bassist play on our record as well as layering guitars and Rhodes. However, our compositional philosophy is to orchestrate each instrument unto itself, such that each part is able to hold its own. Then, when all parts come together, we will have fuller and hopefully, more interesting piece. J. S. Bach provided some wonderful examples of this approach to composition and arranging in his fugues and inventions. Many voices, each with an interesting line to sing, coming together to create something intricate and complex, yet unified and simple (not that we’re on par with Bach by any means!).
The music is not the only highlight of this album. The lyrics speak of pain, despair and hope. They yearn for understanding and to be understood. The songs are littered with Christian imagery, though messages are not immediately apparent after only an initial listen. Tinamou shared their intentionality toward the lyric writing process:
Good music has much to do authenticity and communication. Any sounds, words, or ideas we communicate as a band must come from a place of truth in our own lives. Everyone, every band, has a message. We’re all communicating with each other, with ourselves, with God. We all have something to say, be it with our lives, our stories, our music. Tinamou is a band committed to good art and the transmission of love, truth, and hope to human race.
Faith is an important part of the identity of Tinamou, impacting their art and their lives to its very core. Lead singer Morgan Mecaskey shared her view of integrating faith and and art:
I once heard faith described as “putting all one’s weight on something”. If you’re leaning upon something with your full weight, you are putting your hope and reliance on that thing, whatever it may be, and that thing will naturally have an impact of every sphere of your life. In this modern age the western world tends to shy away from mysticism and focus on autonomy and the here and now. We seek to explain the unexplainable, thus drowning in our own rejection of divine reality. We in Tinamou put all of our weight upon the God of the Scriptures, so he invades every part of our lives, including our music. Our creativity is a reflection of his ultimate ingeniousness, so we offer up our best.
Tinamou is a young band, continuing to develop as they work on their first full length album. The band shared some of their aspirations as they look to the future of the project.
Upcoming goals include touring, playing festivals, recording a full length album, and possibly seeing about getting some management. Right now we are writing and playing locally, as well as booking some weekend tours in surrounding states.
You can stream the Providence EP for free at http://tinamou.bandcamp.com/.
Keep up with Tinamou’s tour schedule, including upcoming shows in Ohio and West Virginia, at http://www.myspace.com/tinamoumusic.