The Saddle Creek Songbird Talks Home
Laura Burhenn is both industrious and etheric, making good guts for crafting music, building a home, or booking travel plans. She is currently touring for the Mynabirds’ latest album, GENERALS. Her tour continues on the East Coast with A.C. Newman into November and then on to Canada, Portland, and Seattle.
In celebration of the Saddle Creek Specialty Shop, she took a break from her work to talk with the Foundary about the qualities of a musical home.
The lead Mynabird lives a lauded indie music legacy, thanks to her resonant voice, soulful song-writing, and skills on the keys. She is known for her time as half of Georgie James in Washington, D.C. from 2005 to 2008. Burhenn was also a touring member of Bright Eyes last year, and opened for Conor Oberst’s recent solo shows.
Laura tapped into memories of her past home in Washington, D.C. to create her sophomore album, GENERALS, which was released on Saddle Creek Records this summer.
“There are a lot of songs on my new record that remind me of my old home: politics and protests, the post 9-11 world unfolding before our eyes,” she said. “After living my whole life in and around Washington, D.C., I call Omaha home now.”
“There’s something really special about Omaha. It’s one place I’ve found where people get that there’s room for everyone to succeed–and they really do embrace that idea. And there’s something lovely about coming home from a long tour to my little bungalow in a nice neighborhood with a peach tree and a garden in the backyard, room for my dog Charlie, and a small studio space in the basement.”
“Space to create” earned top billing as the most important aspect of a musical home for Burhenn.
“I mean, ideally there’s a range of instruments around, a big collection of records to explore, and time made for both listening and playing. But more than that, I think having space to imagine and create is what breeds creativity and music-making.”
“When I was growing up, it was me and my mom against the world. I was lucky that the piano room was next to my bedroom. I could go in there, close the door, and play for hours. And my mom let me. Knowing that was accepted and encouraged helped me try out my voice, find my style, and start writing.”
When asked what she likes to listen to at home, she replied, “Strangely enough, I’ll go through long periods of silence at home. I like for musical ideas to spring out of nowhere, or found sounds — a truck humming down the roadway, construction at a nearby home, birds in the big ash tree outside my window. But when I do put on a record, I love vinyl.”
“Home sounds like a tea kettle whistling and a dryer whirring on a cold, cloudy day. There’s also an old movie matinee blaring on an unwatched TV, and someone humming in another room while they shake the wrinkles out of fresh sheets. A pencil scritches across paper as someone else sits at the dining room table working on a new thought or sketch. The dog is sleeping on the couch. He might be snoring.”
“This is all to say that home, to me, is the color and warmth in the midst of the cold gray. It is the full cycle of old and new, mundane and fresh each day. It is sleepy and bustling at once. Everyone’s comfortable and free to do what they must and what they will. And what could be better?”
Listen to GENERALS here.