Copperfox is Lisa Garcia and Rory Mohon, a Portland-based duo who make lush, meticulous country-rock that seems grown from the same cool earth as the woods of the Pacific Northwest. The four songs that make up their first release, From the Den, boast an impressive polish; the simple, sweet love songs are drenched in big sounds and surprises. Lisa’s honey-like voice drips through each song, bringing Rory’s lyrics to life amid pianos, slide guitars, and ghostly reverb.
The songs take their time, particularly the closing track “Be Careful,” which stretches out and takes a few detours until fading quietly back into the trees. And the quiet, loping “James” finds the band cautiously setting the table before opening up on “Lovers.” There’s a warmth and earnestness in their songs, thanks in large part to the obvious chemistry between the two, which lends the record some much needed weight. They sound mature yet untested, and certainly capable of great things.
I had a chance to have an email exchange with the band, and we talked some basics, how the past year has treated them, and what’s next.
How did you meet and come together musically?
We met through the music scene in Portland. We were both seeing each other at all the same shows until a mutual friend finally introduced us. We were friends for many years before becoming romantically involved. One year we moved to Maui just to get away from winter and play in the sun, and in doing so I had a lot of time to write. I came up with quite a few songs that I wanted Lisa to sing to since I knew she had a beautiful voice. After much persuasion she recorded a snippet to what would become “Lovers” and she fell in love with the idea of singing to these songs and there was no turning back.
How do you write? Is it a collaborative process or do you have more clearly defined roles?
I typically begin the writing process by coming up with chords on an acoustic guitar that impresses upon me the feelings I wish to convey. From there I demo it and flesh it out by adding bass, keys and drums in that order. After the song is fairly polished, Lisa comes in and adds her vocals, which is like the icing and the cherry on top.
What’s your relationship like to the Portland “scene?” Do you feel like there is a unified scene or is it more patchwork?
There are definitely some people that would say that the music scene in Portland is united. But right now a lot of bands are doing the lo-fi indie thing, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for bands that are doing more polished pop works. As for Copperfox, I think we are targeting a much different demographic and our stats are showing us the same.
How about Portlandia?
We enjoy Portlandia very much and think that they do a great job of satirizing this city while also showing their love for it. There is plenty to love here.
Let’s talk about From the Den. How did you pick the songs that made the album?
It was quite easy to pick the songs for this album since we originally only had six completed songs. Two of those songs just didn’t jive well with the other four. We also didn’t want to exhaust the listener on our first EP so we kept it simple and short hoping that we could create a desire for more to come.
Did anything about the process of putting it together surprise you?
The thing that surprised us most was how easy it all happened. I had tried recording these songs before in other formats and it just wasn’t going smoothly, but when I brought these songs to this group of musicians things expediently came together. In fact, the majority of the EP was done live and within two days. We feel blessed to have worked with the people we did and their professionalism is what helped this to be a simple process.
On your blog you mention having written some new songs and heading into the studio. How’s the recording process coming along? What’s different now that you have the EP under your belts?
We are actually starting the recording in the next week or so and are very eager to do so. We just did a live demo of all the songs and everyone was very excited and on a natural high from hearing them back. I think the level of comfort is going to be the biggest difference between then and now. On the first EP we weren’t sure how it was going to end up sounding, since everything about what we were doing was new to us. We hadn’t even played a show as a duo before the recording. This time around we know what we do best and the sound we want to go for. Other than that we plan on recording in much the same way since the formula worked so well last time.
Anything else new on the horizon?
We’re excited to go on the road and reinvent what touring can mean. We’re going to record ourselves playing in natural environments all across this wonderful country of ours and put up videos of this all along the way. We’re also going to start doing a cover song each Sunday on Youtube so if anyone has requests start sending them in!
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