Sufjan Steven’s album Seven Swans is being covered by a host of artists. The project is a retelling of Sufjan’s most overtly spiritual, yet sparse record. The album has many songs about direct biblical stories and subjects such as Abraham, the transfiguration, and the atonement. Looking at the track list the biggest surprise (and joy) is the variety of the artists that contributed to this project, one can’t help but appreciate the eclectic nature of the participants. Bonnie “Prince” Billy and The David Crowder Band are two artists I wouldn’t have envisioned on the same album. The project is being released by On Joyful Wings. Nick Verburg, who worked to put this project together answered some questions for us about the album and the label.
1. What is On Joyful Wings?
Is the name Jim came up with to house our releases under. We wanted to find our own way to raise money for breast cancer research as this is something that has touched our lives. Jim and I lost our grandmother to breast cancer in 1998. Our goal with On Joyful Wings was to use our love for music to put an end to this disease.
2. How did this project happen with Seven Swans?
After completing our first compilation for cancer research album ‘We Were Lost, We Were Free’ we kicked around some ideas and decided to try and get a track by track reimagining of an album we loved.
We came up with a bunch of ideas then reached out to Asthmatic Kitty who put us in touch with Lenny Smith of Sounds Familyre and it just clicked.
3. Could you explain the process of this album coming together?
Lenny Smith was a huge help and gave us pointers and ideas along the way. We also were very blessed by Kieran Kelly of The Buddy Project [www.thebuddyproject.com
] who mixed a few of the tracks from the album and also recorded a couple artists at no cost! Kieran also put us in touch with Dan Coutant of Sun Room Audio [http://www.dancoutant.com/
] who mastered the entire album at no cost. We owe those guys a huge thank you.
4. Some of these artists aren’t surprises on this album like Asthmatic Kitty artists like DM Stith and Half Handed Cloud…but how did you end up with people as varied as Bonnie Prince Billy and David Crowder on this project?
We were very blessed by the postive response we got from artists. Shannon Stephens got on board early on in the process and she got us in touch with Will Oldham. All of the others were contacted by one of us and we were surprised to see all of them saying ‘yes’.
5. What are some highlights people will want to check out with this album?
I feel this album works well together given there are 14 different artists. I really enjoy The Gregory Brothers version of ‘The Dress Looks Nice On You’ and something about Wakey!Wakey! version of ‘Size Too Small’ makes me hit repeat. It’s hard to not listen to this album all the way through.
6. Where and when can they get this album?
It can be found/streamed/purchased on our bandcamp site [onjoyfulwings.bandcamp.com] and it is available now. We are looking into a physical release of the album as well.