The Living Arrows are 2 albums and an EP into a dreamy folk based journey, veering toward Celtic, psychedelic, and experimental tones. They create songs that celebrate with lush strings, horns and keys. Multi-instrumentalists each one, they present a deep wheelhouse of sound as a vehicle for themes of community, countryside, love, emotion and life.
Ark Magazine spoke with Traesti Luther, Alexandra Doumas, and Loren Schaumberg today about what inspires their unique combination. When I inquired about the duet vocals of Luther and Doumas, I remarked on how well they create a closeness of spirit, which is a difficult task for male/female duos. I am not the first to make this compliment. That lyrical relationship and how it embues Luther’s poetry brought this band into being.
The name Living Arrows arose from a moment of transition, when Schaumberg arrived. Doumas and Luther had returned from travelling in Europe as the band, “Breaking The Spell.” Luther sat down and penned the song “Living Arrows.” The phrase describes a sense of mission in Luther. It took on extra meaning for all of them when Doumas discovered a works by Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran. “On Children” reads:
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
When Schaumberg joined the band and they needed a new name, ‘On Children’ “was sort of an anthem to our beliefs,” tells Luther. The trio solidified around some of these ideas, and metaphors brought to mind by the term, ‘Living Arrows.’
Self described “young, hopeful, curious world citizens who desire to build community, cultivate creativity, and rouse the spirit wherever they roam…” the Arrows have day jobs that speak to their values. Traesti has a family orchard and is involved in sustinable salmon fishing, Alexandra teaches environmental principles to children, and Loren is a boatbuilder who also builds tiny houses. Doumas sees Luther “sitting on a boat in Alaska,” whenever she hears his lyrics. They live together on a plot of land in Bellingham, Washington doing permaculture workshops, learning how to build with cob and growing an orchard. Music is an integral part of creating this story. They talk about social revolution. They talk about awakening, interconnection and being stewards of the world. The moments of songwriting come from creating these things and speaking out against the harmful human traits which would tear us down. Album and song titles include “Roots and Wings,” and “Young Lovers.” I would describe them as three hopeful and gentle souls, who bring the best and least ironic qualities of the Pacific Northwest we are used to seeing in “Portlandia” caricature.
When I confronted them with my description of their aesthetic as “…sitting at an earthy Celtic banquet holding a giant mug of meade,” They did not shy away. “Our expression through music comes out as a celebration of what we are living,” says Traiste. They often hold seasonal gatherings at their homestead. They see themselves as very close to the land and people with which they are surrounded.
“I don’t want to live in a monochrome world,” chants the song ‘The Sparrow and the Whale.’ This shouts out a truth about these three. All multi-talented intrumentalists, they have at times had great rehearsal space with many instruments and players at arm’s reach. Doumas started young on the piano, then mastered saxophone and moved onto accordian. Luther was strictly bass until he started writing and creating this kind of music. He has blossomed into learning guitar, piano and percussion. They have egged each other on. Without the resources to travel with a drummer, they brought in hand percussion. Shaumburg’s guitar is melodic and layered which shapes many of the songs. They don’t fear latin rythms and jazz grooves. They can get edgy and rock.
With their first album released, “sort of on a whim,” they were received so well by audiences that the project has grown and grown. Visiting Buena Vista this weekend, they have been booked for the Lariat’s first “listening and tasting room” event on Friday, then they play the Deerhammer Distillery on Saturday. There are few others bands so deserving of a sit, listen, and savor.
The Living Arrows Fall Tour continues to Denver and The Springs. See their schedule at: http://thelivingarrows.com/shows