I love that he chose to embed “A Letter” … its the ‘dirgy-est’ song on the EP
Of Tree has been a band since 2010 — they used to go by (Of) Tree — but its beginnings go back further, preceding the marriage of its founders, Laurel Morgan, who studied violin at the UMKC Conservatory, and her husband, artist-musician Benjamin Parks.
“We started playing music together several years ago,” Morgan said. “We played songs that Ben wrote and I played violin. But after we got married, we decided to form a band with a name and collaborate on music. So now we play his songs and my songs, about half and half.”
Their collaborative music blends electronic elements with chamber-folk. It’s orchestral, moody, melodic, hypnotic, at times filled with dynamic, percussive shifts. Now a trio, Of Tree fills its songs with a variety of sounds and effects.
“I do a lot of looping and special effects with the violin, which is pretty new to me,” Morgan said. “And we do a lot of things through Ableton (a music sequencer and sampler). So we’re kind of marrying the acoustic music with some electronic music elements.”
The band now comprises Morgan (violin, vocals), Parks (guitars, vocals) and, since late last autumn, John Bersuch, who adds drums and percussion.
Friday night at the Brick, Of Tree will celebrate the release of its inaugural EP, “Sorry, We’re Chosen,” recorded earlier this year. (Listen here.) They will also introduce songs they will soon start recording for their yet-to-be-named full-length.
“We just completed a successful Kickstarter, so we’re going into record our new stuff in July,” Morgan said. They’re doing it at Shadow Scape Records, at 31st and Wyandotte.
At Friday’s show, which will also include performances by Abandoned Bells and Andrew Ashby, Of Tree will enlist some help from a couple of guests, including a cellist.
“I’m writing all the cello parts so there will be a larger string section,” Morgan said. “And we’ll have a bass player, a friend I’ve known for a while who plays bass happens to be coming into town from L.A. night of show.”
On that new material, Of Tree’s music sticks to its roots but takes a few new directions.
“People use words like ethereal, beautiful, dark, dynamic to describe it,” she said. “I like to stay away from ‘folk’ because of the electronic element, but it is kind of folk-based.
“Now, a lot of it is based on the world (music) traditions I’ve studied. I studied Celtic music for a while so there’s some of that, but lately I’ve also been into some Peruvian and Eastern European music, so that’s coming into our music.”
And about that name, which aptly implies virtues like nurturing and growth?
“When we started, for months we couldn’t come up with a name that didn’t sound like the name of a metal band,” she said. “Then we decided to just go with (Of) Tree, but the ‘Of’ wasn’t pronounced, which was kind of silly. But now we pronounce it.