Meeting the marimba
Before I met Payton MacDonald, I was mostly familiar with marimbas from the music of Tom Waits. I thought of them as a clomping along instrument, one that spoke in staccato. If music were a sentence, the marimba would be the punctuation, while violins and voices sang the thought.
Then I heard Payton play, and that was when I really met the Marimba. In his virtuosic hands, mallets somehow produced swirls and swooping gestures and delicate textures. I recruited him for my last album, The Summer Storm Journals, and the marimba is the instrument that you hear in Army of Nows, and others. (To me what he plays in the intro of that song sounds like a cloud of butterflies.)
I collaborated with him again on my new album, Cascadia. On this album, I wanted to integrate even more pitched percussion, and to have that element run through the entire record, rather than just a few songs. Payton’s playing was a big part of my inspiration to do that.
Here’s a still from our video footage, showing Payton at work in the studio. Foortage was shot by Eric Daniel Metzgar.