Parlour to Parlour, Episode 22: Half Light

Written by Music, Parlour to Parlour

parlour_to_parlour

My original intent in returning to Seattle, after spending some time there with the Purrs, was to interview a band I had seen in 2008 that had left a lasting impression on me. As it turned out, the Purrs’ Jason Milne introduced me to his girlfriend, Half Light’s Dayna Loeffler, who in turn passed me a copy of their 2008 album Sleep More, Take More Drugs, Do Whatever We Want. I quickly let go of the idea of chasing down the other band as Half Light’s music – a spacey, shoegazey take on the kind of slow burning folk rock that was Mazzy Star’s bread and butter – slowly seeped into my consciousness.

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Slow burning is actually the perfect description of most of Half Light’s tunes, with “Barbs” being one of my favorites of that particular variety. I’m a lead guitar guy at heart, most of the time, so the fact that the lead guitar lines in the tune are so powerful in their confident creep really enables it to sear its tracks into the ol’ grey matter.

Still 88

L-R: Dayna Loeffler, Brian Ackley

But it was the more uptempo “Feel” that had been knocking around my skull in the days leading up to this shoot, and as such I requested (kindly, of course) that the band pull this one out for the performance footage. They were more than happy to oblige, and though it’s only a couple of minutes in length, it goes a long way towards showcasing all of the individual members of the band in the context of a concise pop song: drummer Jeff Baars has some understated but effective fills, guitarist Brian Ackley pounds out some precise rhythms, guitarist Scott Muhlbeier has a lead part that dovetails nicely with the vocals of the two Daynas (bassist Dayna Smith coincidentally spells her first name the same as Loeffler’s, and Smith’s vocals are a prominent foil to Loeffler’s sweet near-whisper of a delivery in the chorus)… OK, cellist Barb Hunter is a little hard to hear in this one, but she does add a classy touch when you can hear her.

The interview itself was actually even more uptempo than the song – this is a band that knows how to laugh and have fun together, and that’s exactly what we did. The title of their album is itself an inside joke, which Loeffler explains in the interview. And even the near-tragic story of the Church’s Tim Powles’ computer blowing up during the mixing of Sleep More came across as rather humorous, even though it set the album’s completion back by several months.

Still 90

L-R: Barb Hunter, Scott Muhlbeier

And how did they get Tim Powles to mix the record? It was the most obvious route possible – Loeffler simply asked. “Yeah, you go ahead and email him,” Brian sarcastically joked, expecting the email would probably be ignored. But lo and behold, here we are, and the album is done, with a helping hand lent by a member of a band that Half Light collectively loves. I love stories like these. Now we just have to get Tom Petty to pay a visit to the Parson Red Heads

I digress. Back to Half Light. And fun. It was Halloween when we shot this footage, and so the cap to the evening was joining members of Half Light and the Purrs for a couple of parties that evening, culminating in the 15th and final Hive Mind Halloween extravaganza. I had never seen such a huge Halloween party in my life. It was basically an old school taken over by a bunch of mostly 20- and 30-somethings who never grew up enough to stop dressing in costume, and learned how to throw better parties than their 10-year-old selves ever could have done – dancing, karaoke, a Clue themed game where you had to find the “murderer,” weapon and room (folks dressed up as the game’s characters too), and of course, booze.

We lived some of Half Light’s album title on that night, though the Parlour to Parlour crew of two could only sleep so much. There was another shoot happening the next morning, and I’d be damned if I let it fall through on account of oversleeping…

Half Light – “Feel”

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Half Light – Barbs
Half Light – Missed

Buy Sleep More, Take More Drugs, Do Whatever We Want

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