- Lady & West
When we started writing songs together we were hungry to express our love for each other, and how we would conquer together all the barriers lovers face, to grow up and be ourselves both as individuals and as a team.
So, we found ourselves relying on really basic musical styles in order to get our point across. We fell into, rather than planned, the influences we could use, just as a chef hopes to make great food with simple ingredients.
We had come from Texas and Kansas and had picked up by osmosis a lot of Willie and Waylon, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Pardon, Emmylou Harris. Then of course a lot Stones, Hendrix, Dylan, Zeppelin, even Paul and Linda McCartney. Finally we’d peeled back the layers of music and were floored by Mississippi John Hurt, Muddy Waters.
This is the stuff that was in our blood, and it worked for us like a tuning fork, a simple bit of metal that vibrates when you hit it. Music that allowed us to transmit what we felt.
In retrospect, we now understand that we needed a chair to sit in, the way John Lennon said “the blues is a chair”, a departure point, a foundation you can rely on, build on, and hug close to your chest.
Sometimes, the simplest ingredients can be the most profound. We continue to be amazed at the degree to which great and lasting music draws from the muddy roots of American blues. The blues is a point of departure that can be channeled into infinite directions.
The music we love is so sincere and so strongly felt, that it evokes a visceral reaction in just about anyone. For instance, the first chord of a song might hit you deep down inside, in a familiar way, like the familiar call of a native bird in your home state. Like the lonesome cry of a dove in Texas or the sudden, brief and unmistakable trilled warble of a Meadlowlark in Kansas that immediately calls to mind a quiet fencepost next to a wheat field.
Indeed, we really love how music can call to mind a sense of a particular place.
On Bright Soul we are also saying, dear magical place out there, you are both eternal and constantly changing and you are always powerful and essential, dear Wyoming, dear Newfoundland, dear Mojave desert.
Thoreau said, "chop your own wood, and it will warm you twice." For us, this expresses what it feels like to be somewhere fully in mind and body. Once you are fully present, you find yourself interacting with all the essentials around you.
Every time we had to leave a place, we tried to take some of it with us in our souls. Native peoples always had it right when they said the rocks are alive: there is no inanimate thing. There is always way more than meets the eye, more there than you can ever know with just your reasoning ability, more than you can say rationally, more than you can express except through art, through poetry and music.
Listening and writing are part of that spiritual experience. One that leads straight to the truth of the matter -- and has the power to reveal what we are meant to see. The music that inspires us is the music that speaks in that spiritual language, relying on simple ingredients, resonating through the centuries, and that – like food, like love – connects.
Lady & West is a musical duo that puts a lot of emphasis on the “&” – on the alchemy they discovered in working, living, writing and playing together.
About their yin-yang name: “Lady” refers to the melodic, delicate, perhaps more civilized side of life, while “West” is the groovy, muddy, below-the-horizon half of things. What happens when those pieces come together is what they find inspiring, and where they found their sound.
The band's influences range from American Blues and Art Song, to the likes of Jack Kerouac, Henry David Thoreau, Neil Young, William Blake, Bert Jansch, Muddy Waters, and Paul and Linda McCartney. As with many artists, the list is endless.
Singing and writing for all the ancient reasons, their music been called 'evocative, transportive, hypnotic, and pure'.
Jennifer Billiot is from Texas, Kirk Garrett is from Kansas, but the two currently live and create in Greenpoint, Brooklyn - heading to nature, such as the beloved Catskills Mountains and Hudson Valley, as often as possible.
Their debut album, Bright Soul, was recorded at Orb Recording Studios in Austin, Texas with producer, Matt Noveskey. It released April of 2014.
“These songs speak of love and of loss, of our deepest fears and our highest aspirations. They bridge the gaps between our ‘spaces and places’, giving meaning to our lives, telling us the old truths: let go, and become who you once were, and shall be again…” –Leslie Hallam of Tangent