Musician from Athens, graduated from UGA to perform 6-year-old album in the works

When Avery Leigh Draut returned to Athens after a March 2022 performance at the prestigious South By Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, her band’s debut album, Night Palace, had yet to be released. Those who would view the storyline as the result of sheer luck or good timing have no idea how far Draut traveled to get there.

Released on April 1, Night Palace’s 11-song album “Diving Rings” will be performed live at European-style cafe Drink on Sunday, backed by Chicago-based indie rock artist Mia Joy, before the band performs embarks on a brief tour that will find them. in Athens for a performance on June 24 at the downtown AthFest Music & Arts Festival.

Draut, a Snellville native and graduate of the University of Georgia’s Hugh Hodgson School of Music, corresponded with the Banner-Herald via email for a Q&A session that detailed the six-year recording process. of “Diving Rings” and the air of mystery surrounding Night Palace’s beautifully cinematic music videos.

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Andrew Shearer: What is the origin story of Night Palace?

Avery Leigh Draut: The first demos were born in my old house on Nantahala Avenue in 2014. I wrote them on my Magic Genie electric organ that I found at the Athens Habitat ReStore the summer after I graduated from college. Without the intensive full-time rehearsal and performance schedule that I had had in music school at UGA, I was definitely floundering that summer and into the following year.

For the first time, in a visceral way, I felt the expansiveness of having my own space and time as an adult. All those melodies, lyrics and musical ideas that had been in hibernation started bubbling up. This was perhaps the first time my brain had been quiet long enough to start playing with what my ears had heard all my life.

I shared my secret home organ demos with a close friend, and we got some friends together and started playing under the name WANDA. We’ve played fashion shows, zine launch parties, a show or two at Avid and the beloved Caledonia Lounge. WANDA became Avery Leigh’s Night Palace in 2016 when we started recording, and the name was shortened to Night Palace in 2021 when we planned to release the album with Park the Van Records.

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Athens, Georgia musician Avery Leigh Draut is featured in this promotional image from Park The Van Records.  The first album

Shearer: You are credited with vocals, clarinet and keyboards on “Diving Rings”. Who else is in the group?

Tie rod: With the exception of a handful of shows in New York that I played with a NYC “version” of Night Palace, a group of Athenians played with me as the lead band on “Diving Rings” and played all Night Palace shows from 2016 to 2020.: bassist Zack Milster, drummer William Kissane and guitarist Dillon McCabe. They also appear in the “Enjoy the Moon!” music video like the band on the bed.

Current main contributors to the sometimes slightly rotating cast of the Night Palace live show are Milster, Kissane, of Montreal member JoJo Glidewell on keyboards and synths, and Paul Stevens on vibraphone, synths and occasional drums.

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Shearer: Night Palace has a very unique retro aesthetic that reminded me of filmmaker Anna Biller’s ability to evoke vintage Jacques Demy. Is there a particular vision behind it?

Tie rod: What a compliment! I feel like I live at the aesthetic intersection of “Star Trek” and a college production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I love that these videos sit in liminal spaces, inhabit otherworldly scenes. World-building is intimately tied to music-making, and I absolutely loved sinking my teeth into the visual aspect of the “Diving Rings” world. With these music videos, I feel like I was able to complete the image of each song by almost balancing its sonic world with visuals that can add a little tension, a little playfulness, something a little weird , an element defying music.

I’m drawn to stylistic elements (of wardrobe, decor, etc.) that aren’t tied to style in a certain era, or that have re-emerged in multiple eras: I’m inspired by the cyclical nature of fashion , and I think using something like 1960s fashion, which is so steeped in renaissance style, can bring out a slightly odd setting.

It was a truly incredible joy to do my first directing work on these very personal pieces. During my four years as a production assistant on the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series, working with the TV director’s scripts to check shots and prepare scores, I became familiar with the world of directing through this single lens, and I’m so thrilled to be in a place where my different worlds converge in such an exciting way.

Athens musician Avery Leigh Draut (bottom right) and his friends are shown in this photo from the Night Palace music video for the song "Enjoy the Moon!"

Shearer: How was the process of creating “Diving Rings” and what was the timeline?

Tie rod: Zack, Dillon, William and I started recording at the Chase Park Transduction studio in 2016 with my co-producer and now dear friend, Drew Vandenberg. I had been thrilled with Drew’s work with de Montreal and Kishi Bashi, and I knew he was working on the Kristine’s Mothers record, which was exciting. I had nervously reached out with rehearsal recordings, incomplete demos and an extremely vast, almost unbalanced range of references.

In a strange moment, I moved to New York that year as well, pursuing opera and theater opportunities alongside our work on “Diving Rings”, but I was often back and we recorded during my return trips. In a way, I appreciated having this free time between recordings to be able to listen to what we had done so far, leave it, come back to it and think about what to layer next or what to take away. The record grew with me in a few years, that way.

We recorded woodwinds, strings and celestials at UGA in the same hall where I gave my senior recital a few years ago, which was special. I was on the floor, struggling to write the orchestral parts, until the minute we started recording. I was really in a time of procrastination, and those mornings were stressful for me, but those are some of my favorite parts on the record now.

Production-wise, I leaned towards over-building on this record, tracking everything I could ever want, then sifting through, tweaking the little bits to exactly where they would sparkle the most. Over the next four years we added songs and recorded more with Drew but also with Andy Lemaster, where we recorded a lot of vocals, synths and bass. The base tracks for “Nightshade” and “Jessica Mystic” were recorded with Jesse Mangum at The Glow, where we also added a harpsichord touch to a few tracks. We ended in 2020, just in time for the pandemic to push us away from any conventional exit path.