“I knew we had to work out a way to keep playing music,” Swallow Hill Instructor Deborah Collins says when asked how she stayed connected musically during COVID-19 related closures. As a songwriter, band leader, music teacher, and mother of two, music took a backseat over the last year, but only for a minute.
Deborah reconvened her band The Deborah Solo Trio, which also includes Swallow Hill’s Chad “Chadzilla” Johnson on percussion, and Kari Clifton on cello, for weekly masked practices. They quickly got to work on new songs and arrangements. The result is Not Your Daisy, an album Deborah calls “a wholly collaborative experience.”
The band is celebrating the release of Not Your Daisy with a concert at Stone Cottage Studios in Boulder on August 13. Tickets for both in-person and high definition livestream experiences are available now. You can listen to their latest single “I Don’t Have To” here.
Read on to hear more from Deborah, including what she learned from music during the COVID closure, how their latest album came together, and more!
How did you stay connected with music during the COVID-19 related closures both individually and as a band?
During the COVID-19 closures, I became very busy when my kids’ preschool and first grade class switched to online learning. I wasn’t able to use childcare for a few months, so I very suddenly didn’t have time for teaching music lessons, and I couldn’t meet with my band. It was a really hard transition, but I kept on singing (mostly with my kids).
After a few months, I was watching a video of our band and hearing our voices blend, and I knew we had to work out a way to keep playing music. We were able to meet just once a week for a three-hour rehearsal with masks on, and because live performance was off the table and because Chadzilla owns and operates 25 BPM Studio (where we rehearse), we felt the time was right to start recording. My bandmates had more outlets for music creation, performance, and teaching as well, so we all stayed very connected to music throughout the pandemic.
What did you learn from music over the last year or so?
I learned that people need music—not only do people have a deep need to create music, but to experience or witness live music in person. My bandmates and I are starting to perform again, and we’ve all noticed how deeply grateful audience members seem just to be out in the world and hearing live music again. It’s a really positive vibe. Many of my former students have said the same—we all needed music to get us through the isolation of 2020 and now we appreciate it more than ever.
Your band has a new album coming out, what’s it called and how did that come together?
I’m so excited about the album because it has been such a wholly collaborative experience. My bandmates and I wrote the songs together and we were able to really take our time and collaborate during the recording sessions as well. For example, we would sing along in the sound booth while someone was laying down a track and we’d just keep getting more ideas for vocal parts, and in this way, we built the album together layer by layer in a really spontaneous way. The album is titled Not Your Daisy, and some songs deal with personal themes such as the Me Too movement, struggles with mental health, and the polarized political climate. There are still happy songs, but overall this album has a lot more bite to it than our first album. Our sound is rooted in indie folk, but we are just as influenced by Radiohead and Beck as we are by other bands in our genre, like The Head and The Heart, First Aid Kit, and The Lumineers.
When is your release concert?
Our release concert is August 13th with in-person tickets and high-def, high quality live stream tickets available, so anyone can celebrate with us from anywhere in the world (provided they have internet). It will be at Stone Cottage Studios in Boulder, Colorado in their beautiful garden location. Guests with in-person tickets can bring along their own picnic, blankets, and drinks and enjoy the evening with us. The album will be available on all streaming platforms on August 13th as well.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I think it’s universal that all musicians grow their skills by recording an album—there’s just so much to learn when taking a close look at your own songwriting and performance, but I think we grew as individual musicians and as a band more than I could have ever imagined. Now when we perform live, Chadzilla not only plays a set of unique percussion instruments but also plays the bass guitar one-handed simultaneously as he plays the percussion instruments. I’m so impressed with what he’s doing that I can’t let myself think about it too much in the moment or I’ll mess up my own part. And Kari sings really challenging vocal harmonies in every song simultaneously as she plays a different melody line on her cello, which is something I could never do. I feel I’ve grown as a musician as well simply because I’m braver with my lyric writing than ever before. I have the creative help of two other really great musicians/lyricists to work with and I’m willing to take more risks because I know they have my back 100% and we can share ideas.