The unsteady opening of ‘The Curtains’, the first track on Cross Record’s ‘Wabi Sabi’, is the sort of music you’d expect to find soundtracking a baby deer’s first steps. Nervous, gangly and stumbling more than once, it isn’t long before the track - and our imaginary fawn, of course - find their feet and are prancing across the Austin wilderness.
That determined adventure and the necessity to take flight drive the nine tracks of ‘Wabi Sabi’ into unfamiliar territory. But it’s also the story behind Cross Record’s migration from their home of Chicago to the expanse of a Texan ranch called Moon Phase, on the outskirts of Dripping Springs.
Between putting away groceries at the house where she works as a nanny, Emily admits that the record would have been “very different” if they’d stayed in Chicago. “We just have so much freedom and space to experiment, to have fun and make a lot of noise,” starts Emily Cross who, alongside her husband Dan Duszynski, makes up Cross Record. “We’ve just got a lot of room and that affected the album a lot but I don’t actually know how yet. I haven’t really evaluated it.”
The freedom found throughout ‘Wabi Sabi’ is reflective of where Emily finds herself. “I just turned twenty-seven and I feel like I don’t have a great deal of distraction in my life. I’m married and I have a good rhythm with my home life. I have a lot of freedom to not worry about the things I used to worry about and focus on my creative outlets.”
Recorded at home, and taking on a majority of the production themselves, ‘Wabi Sabi’ was crafted in the environment that inspired it. “I couldn’t do it any other way,” says Emily before admitting, “There were definitely weeks where we didn’t touch the album at all,” because they needed space from it. “We actually started over several songs over three or four times because they just weren’t right in my head. I would change the key and record the whole song in a different key and then a week later hate it and change it back, I could never do it in a professional studio because it would be so expensive.”
Emily is on the move again though. She’s flying out to visit her father in Thailand for a few months to “start working on another record.” Another bold move to continue expanding their horizons.
With Cross Record, there’s a sense of exploration about their music. They’re constantly discovering things and capturing that on record. Beyond the joy of creating, there’s not much else you want to achieve with their music. “You know that people are going to hear it but that’s not at the forefront of our minds. It’s not why we do certain things. I just liked making it and I want people to hear it. I guess what I want to achieve is that I want people to hear it, to enjoy it. I want them to feel a certain way,” she offers but doesn’t go into specifics. That’s left up to you.
Crossing the Borders
Emily Cross’ journey has taken her all around the world. Beyond Austin, here are the locations that matter:
Japan - ‘Wabi-Sabi’ takes its name from a Japanese aesthetic, which is all about “beauty found in impermanence and imperfection”. Easier said than done, mate.
Florida - Cross grew up here, after being born in the Midwest.
Chicago - It was here where Cross graduated with a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Hence why she’s not just about the music.
Cross Record’s new album ‘Wabi-Sabi’ is out now via Ba Da Bing Records.
Taken from the February 2016 issue of DIY, out now.