By Dani Kowalczyk
Two worlds, two coasts, and two very pure and empirically righteous and creative minds of Alex Callenberger and Erin LaCerra united several years ago to form what is now Clawfoot Slumber. And what is Clawfoot Slumber? As one of the minds of the band reflects, “Clawfoot Slumber is a powerful word, a reference to powerful predatory birds and animals. As a necessary means of survival, such animals use their claws to inflict pain on more vulnerable species. With that in mind, Clawfoot represents the experience of spiritual and physical struggle that work to cultivate the driving undertones in our music. Slumber relates to the gentle, restorative and protective side of the music. The two words together, “Clawfoot Slumber” represents wholeness. For without pain there is no restoration, and without struggle there is no need for hope.
Tell us how did Clawfoot Slumber come to be?
Clawfoot Slumber: We started as a solo side project in 2005 as a way to express my thoughts, desires, fears and dreams. Sparked by the death of a dear friend, I used it as an outlet to cope with the pain and sadness I felt. It really was a sonic journal of my life, a way to preserve my emotions and thoughts. Erin began working with the project in 2010 we then put together several east coast tours with anti-folk band, Key of V. In 2012, Clawfoot Slumber relocated to Portland, Oregon.
You mentioned in your Open Wide Editors note that this album was a baby of 10,000 miles on the road. Tell us about that, were you touring with CS? Traveling?
Clawfoot Slumber: After we completed our tour in 2012, Erin and I endeavored to find a new home. We longed to discover a new place to stretch our wings. We spent two years traveling the United States and like “Goldilocks”, we tried different things. We visited San Francisco, Asheville, NYC, and many more cities. We discovered that one was too cold, another too small, and yet another too big and so on. By a stroke of luck, Portland opened its doors to us at exactly the right time. We schlepped into town with $12 left to our name! Since that moment, we’ve felt that Portland is just right for Clawfoot Slumber in this period of its development.
What inspires your writing and sound?
Clawfoot Slumber: I find inspiration in the tragic lust for one’s desire for self-growth and discovery of self-worth. Natural Sounds and textures are always fascinating to me, clashing together and resting within one another. I really feel inspired by the passion of life and its complexity, its ever-changing and ever morphing nature of remaining “in a state of constant departure while always arriving” (Waking Life movie, 2001).
Your writing seems to speak to this battle between monetary importance and living, can you expand on this thought?
Clawfoot Slumber:As artists, each day we must answer the question, “Will I live my life today in order to get money or will I live my life today in order to remain most true to my art?” We make a choice of how to invest our time and energy. We can choose to pursue money directly and fall in order with capitalism, or we can choose to delve fully into our creative passion. It is possible to position our creativity in a way that can produce money, but it is often barely enough for survival. Nevertheless, when we make the choice to pursue art, we feel the most free and fulfilled.
In the song, Cash is King, I write about a classic archetype of capitalistic hierarchy. In its most literal sense, it is a story about a Native Tribe that is approached by a group of Settlers. The Natives invite the Settlers to share the land with them, as long as they come in peace. In the second verse of the song, the Settlers explain that they intend to take advantage of the Native’s generosity, in addition to their land, lives and traditions. Rather than agreeing to a peaceful co-existence, the Settlers are overcome by greed for land and fortune.
This archetype can be applied to many scenarios throughout history. With respect to the question we face each day as artists, the story can relate to manifesting our own destiny. Will we choose to “sell our souls (i.e. sell out)” and operate from a capitalist perspective? Or, will we choose to remain true to our art, no matter the sacrifice. We believe that finding a peaceful balance of living in this society, while also fulfilling our dreams is the ultimate goal.
Undoubtedly the Internet has an influence on music and the industry, can you share some of the pros and cons of the Internet in relation to Clawfoot Slumber?
Clawfoot Slumber: Like visual aesthetic, the Internet is also a powerful tool we use to support our music. As artists, we desire to express ourselves freely and we wish to be heard. The Internet creates a platform of free expression and the potential to be heard. It also helps significantly with promotion. On the other hand, the Internet can be limiting. Each moment we spend using the Internet, is a moment we take away from creating the art itself.
Where would you like to see Clawfoot Slumber?
Clawfoot Slumber:I truly believe in the law of attraction, so here it goes: Our journey with Clawfoot Slumber has been beautiful. It has served as a conduit for meeting other creative and passionate people. We have developed incredible friendships and fanships. We have seen awesome sights and heard magnificent sounds. I would like all of these things continue. For the future, I would like to see Clawfoot Slumber expand its audience first in the Pacific Northwest, then the West Coast, and then the entire US. I would like us to develop a regular touring regime in the US, Japan and Europe. It is our goal to record a new album every year and to have worldwide distribution of our work. In the most distilled sense, I want Clawfoot Slumber to inspire others to create art, dream and find their true muse in life.
What tunes are on repeat for you right now?
Mark Banning: Journey to the Light
Harry Smiths: Anthology of American Folk Music Disk 1-A Ballads
Ry Cooder Manuel Galban: Mambo Sinuendo
Andy Stott: Faith in Strangers
Joanna Newsom: Have One on Me
Stina Nordenstam: The World is Saved
What is the most important meal of the day to you?
Clawfoot Slumber: Breakfast: I love having the same thing everyday: Oats, Walnuts and a piece of fruit all mixed together in a bowl, with some Chinese tea.