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Birdtalker




I had the opportunity recently to sit down and talk with Zack and Dani of the band Birdtalker. They were such lovely people and just an absolute pleasure to talk to. 

How’s tour been so far? 

Zack: It’s been a lot of fun, we had some of our first sell outs on this tour, so that’s been really amazing. We just spent a few days on the Oregon coast, and it was a lot of fun. 

That’s awesome! I love the Oregon coast. That’s my favorite place. 

Dani: I fell head over heels. 

Zack: We stayed in a little town called Bandon, we got an air bnb and you looked out to little hills and then right out at the beach and the ocean. We took like a four-hour beach walk on a day off looking at some stones, seagulls and starfish and stuff. It was super nice. 

That is nice! I love beach walks. My birthday is on earth day and every year we go to the coast. 

Zack: Do you go to different places, or do you have a favorite place to go to or do you go to different places? 

We typically go to Lincoln city, but this year we’re going to Tillamook. 

Zack: Oh, we know about Tillamook, we love their ice cream. 

Yes! Me too. Um, anyway! Back to questions I should ask you. What got you into making music? Why do you do it? 

Zack: That’s a cool question. For me, it’s just always been a thread through my life. My mom was a concert pianist at her university. I grew up in a very conservative Protestant family. We were singing four-part harmony out of the books every Sunday. I played trumpet and violin when I was in grade school and kept going with band in high school. I started with no ambition just writing songs as a way to process experiences in college. And then, yeah just kind of kept going. The band is a little bit of an accident. Dani and I got married in 2012. And it just sort of-

Dani: I had never made music. My dad moved our family to Nashville to make music. He was a songwriter and my brother got into that too. I had never really made music, I took piano as a kid and stuff. So, I was always around music. But I focused more on writing. I got an English lit degree in college and loved writing so that was more my angle with it, and I didn’t really get into writing music until Zach and I got married. He was writing a song and invited me to do that with him and it was a really fun experience and then organically our friends wanted to play drums with us and encouraged us to do a show. Our first show was opening for Shakespeare's twelfth night at a park in Nashville, which is unique. We just had more friends join in. We eventually got a manager and recorded our first EP. One of our songs, Heavy, had quite a bit of success on Spotify and it allowed us to start touring. And we’ve just been going ever since. I think we just got really lucky. 

Nice! That's so lucky, and really cool. You have a song, Better in the Morning, that I have listened to so, so many times. Especially during 2020 I cried and just yelled at that song. And I know that everybody can make their own meanings with things but I was wondering if there was any specific meaning for you with that song. 

Zack: That was a song that was- the melody was in a dream for me. Then I had a poem in my journal that sort of lined up with it, coincidentally. And I guess in terms of its content I was just reflecting on patterns of behavior that I had that had created a personality; that I had both chosen and sort of unwittingly chosen and just reflecting on how I can make different choices moving forward if I choose to. It was a bit frightening to release it, just because it is so true. But yeah I guess that’s the story. It’s sort of an aspirational song of looking at what I’ve made of myself to this point and sort of giving myself an arm around the shoulder and giving myself permission to not have to live in what I had created to this point and that I can create different choices moving forward. 

I love that! And I really appreciate that song so much thank you for releasing it. 

Zack: Yeah of course and thank you! I’m glad that it found you in the way that it did. It sounds like it was cathartic or some sort of release or resonance for you, that’s rad. That’s like the highest thing I could hope for anything I make. 

Yeah! Of course! Thank YOU! Do you have any favorite songs you like to play? 

Zack: It fluctuates. 

Dani: it’s been fun to play- we released some b-sides and an EP in the time that we haven’t been touring in the last year and a half. So it’s been really fun to play those new songs cuz you make them in the studio and you’re all up in them but it’s very different to go and play them live every night and just kind of live in the world. Every song feels like its own little world. It’s been really fun for me. Holy Rollercoaster is a song that we released and it’s been so fun to play live. So there’s that experience of playing new songs but I also love playing-I think Blue Healer is a song that as a band we all really like playing live. And that was on our first EP so we’ve been playing it for a lot of years now and it’s always just this beautiful space to go back to. I think it grounds all of us as we’re playing it. It’s just such a low and slow and kind of meditative song. So that’s also kind of special for a song to live so long in our lives. It’s this place that's really restful to come back to. It’s like our history in a way. It feels like a little bit of time travel to play a set. It’s awesome. 



 


That is really cool! Who is an artist that inspires you. 

Dani: Probably since 2020, I found this lady. Her name is Sarah Klang and she’s a Swedish songwriter and singer. And I’ve just listened to her music constantly. She has this really beautiful voice and just really honest songs. I kinda like sad girl music, ya know? Just that sad kind of drippy music. She’s been kind of like a musical fairy godmother. I go back to her all the time. She is always inspiring me. 

I will definitely have to check that out! 

Zach: I would say for me I really enjoy-I haven’t listened to him a lot recently but over the last decade or so there’s this guy Alexander Ebert. A lot of people would know him as the lead singer of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I just love the theatrical nature of his music and he’s always either really absurd or really insightful. I really enjoy how when I listen to it- I’m probably projecting something that I want to feel and I want him to feel but it just feels really free and open. It doesn’t feel like it’s in the parameters of empirically, like in the business would be successful music. It’s like these sweeping landscapes with these theatrical melodies and harmonies that are just fun to listen to. It’s really inspiring to me both content wise and musically. 

I did not realize that he had solo stuff, I will have to listen to that as well. 

Zack: Yeah have fun, it’s really fun. 

I was wondering, you’re married, is it fun touring as a married couple? 

Dani: Yes. 

Zack: That’s part of the spectrum for sure. 

Dani: I would say earlier on when we were younger married people it was way less fun. A bit more tumultuous. 

That makes sense

Dani: Yeah, you know because you’re just a bit more emotionally immature and it was really hard to juggle that. We were learning how to be in a marriage and how to be in a band and tour and do all the things at once. So-

Zack: All the while we’re deconstructing our religious and spiritual views and learning how to be individuals too. So it was it was kind of nightmare for a little while. 

Dani: It was really hard. I feel really grateful, like Zach was saying this has been our best touring experience so far. I’ve been feeling really grateful to our past selves. We’ve grown so much and it’s allowed for us to have a much more enjoyable, much more peaceful time. It’s been fun to reap the benefits of everything that we went through early on. 

That is rad! Thank you for being so candid. 

Dani: Oh yeah! 

Zack: I mean there’s no point in something else.  

I agree. How else has this tour differed from previous? 

Zack: I would say our ticket sales are definitely more. It's been really nice to see this slow and steady growth. The last time we were in Boise we played at the Neurolux. We sold six tickets. Two of the tickets were just because the people liked birds, not because they knew. 

Dani: no, They bought merch. Someone who didn’t get a ticket bought merch and said “oh my grandson’s really into bird watching, I’m gonna get him this shirt” . It was very funny. 

Zach: So now, I think we’ve sold around 150 tickets tonight which feels amazing to come back a couple years later and have people show up. It’s gonna be a fun little scootin night. In that room, The Olympic. We’ve never been there before but we’ve heard lovely things about it. 

Well, I think that’s all the questions I have. I will see you guys at the show tonight!

Zack: Great! Looking forward to seeing you there!


 

The show was an absolute blast. They somehow managed to sound even better live than in recording. The way they weave and construct their melodies is just so dreamy and rich. It translates incredibly well in person. You can really tell that the band is made up of people who have grown up around music their whole lives. 

The crowd was also incredibly into it. People were dancing, singing, crying, and absolutely grooving to the music. The vibes were immaculate. 

They finished with “My Lover” which is just the sweetest song. Watching Zack and Dani perform this song was so intimate and sweet. You could really tell how much they care for each other. It was heartwarming. For me, it was one of the highlights of the night. That and when they played Better in the Morning. 

After the show I had the opportunity to meet Zack and Dani in person. They are the kindest, most genuine people. They felt like a warm, welcoming cello sound. I talked with them about Treefort and maybe (hopefully) convinced them to come out next year to perform at the festival. 

It was such a pleasure to talk with Birdtalker (I’m somewhat of a bird myself… get it? Robin!). I can not recommend this band enough. Go check out their music. 




Written and interviewed by: Robin

Photos by: Kenyon


To follow Birdtalker, see their links below!



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