Artist Interview: Bloomsday

Posted: by The Editor

Bloomsday, the Brooklyn based duo of singer and songwriter Iris James Garrison and Alex Harwood, are back with a tender reinterpretation of their track “Phase.” A standout from their first record Place To Land, released by Bayonet Records in June 2022, the original recording of “Phase” places the band in a time of transition and incubation. The original track is grounded solidly in indie-rock sensibilities, while Bloomsday’s newest offering represents a real loosening of aesthetics and communicates a real sense of groundedness. The Alternative met with Iris James Garrison to talk about the process of rerecording the track and the band’s banner year:

What drove you to revisit “Phase”?

I wrote “Phase” in 2019, before the pandemic, so last year it felt kind of wild to be releasing it years after I’d wrote it. I was going through this transitional time, I’d moved, lost my job, lost my relationship and was going through a death of that version of myself, which felt super intense. So this year, I thought it would be interesting to revisit a song about phases of life from a new and very different phase of my life–especially after the pandemic and years of growth. That also shifted how I approached the music and Alex and I’s dynamic has changed as musicians and people. We’ve grown closer and have a more dialed in approach to how we go about making music. Which we’re really excited to get into more with the next record. This time we’ve put pedal steel on the track and did some cool percussive stuff, kept it more rootsy. We had Colin Miller (Wednesday, MJ Lenderman) mix it. The last time we recorded this track I was really in the mindset of we need to get it right, and this time I was thinking more let’s see what can happen.

What a beautiful way to approach the end of your first record cycle, looking back and reworking the song that’s really at the core of that record before closing the chapter.

I also feel like I’m bridging the gap between myself now and who I was in 2019, closing that chapter before stepping into the next one.

Does this new rework of Phase feel more in line with where you’re going sonically?

Totally, we’re having a lot of new folks put their hands on this next record as we’re making it. Taking time to work with some new collaborators and really flesh out the songs. I just want more minds and people to inspire and influence the music since I feel like so much of my experience with music is just adoring other music and wanting it all to feel in conversation. The last one was very pandemic-era with its isolation from other people–it was just me and Alex being like, “how do you make a record?” It was cool to do that, one-to-one, but now he and I are both super excited and open to other ideas.

And the world is so much more open nowadays, and you’ve had some years in the industry in a different way.

I mean it’s definitely a complex experience, being in the industry. I put more mental and emotional energy towards the build-up to actualizing our work in the industry. Before we were signed, before we released the music, everything in me was going towards it and so in a way, I’ve been relieved and able to take off a little bit of the pressure. Witnessing people around me, other bands that I admire also coming up against the difficulty and emotional challenges that come with how disheartening the structures of the industry are with streaming and touring. I’ve reoriented a lot of my life to make music the majority of my time, but remember that it is still my joy. It’s also my work, and I just let it have its own life and breath. It’s like a relationship, but before it felt so much more ego and so much more fragile and now I feel like I have to give it space, I have to let others get in. The industry is tough, for sure. The best musicians I know don’t put music out. Do love touring, though.

What’s a memory from the last year that feels like it’s propelling you towards the next thing?

Now that I’m thinking about tour–we went to Asheville, North Carolina and I was very moved by it. I ended up crying about everyone I had met, they were all so amazing. Then on our drive out we were all very quiet, it was very early in the morning. We drove through Blue Ridge mountains as the fog was lifting off of them and I felt this spiritual alignment with what I was doing and where I was. It was all very tranquil. I think about that moment and I just feel very lifted by the experience. Before we got there, to Asheville, I was having some insecurity, that classic am I good enough. On that drive it all just lifted off of me, for a least a couple days, and I think of that moment often now.

Emma Bowers | @emmaebowers

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