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Skulls Example

by Dear Nora

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  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    High quality, 150g vinyl LPs in extra heavyweight, full-color photo jackets with two-sided, full color photo & lyric inserts & poly-lined black innersleeves

    Black vinyl edition is unlimited (first pressing: 150 copies)

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about

Songwriter Katy Davidson (preferred pronoun: they/them) revived the band Dear Nora in January 2017 when Orindal Records reissued the thirteen-year-old album Mountain Rock on vinyl. The reissue received great acclaim and the band toured the west and east coasts last year. Spurred by the momentum, Davidson decided to create the first album of new Dear Nora material in a decade, Skulls Example.

Katy explains:

I wrote the songs on Skulls Example between 2009 and 2017, and recorded most of them during the latter half of 2017. "Skulls Example" is a name I once chose for myself during a party by closing my eyes and picking two words at random from a book of magic.

I tracked most of the basic instruments for each song with my bandmates Zach Burba (bass/synth), Greg Campanile (drums), and Jessica Jones (guitar) at a studio in Portland, Oregon. We used nice microphones, ran audio into a Mackie mixer, then ran stereo audio out of the mixer to a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder. Then I bounced the individual instrument tracks from cassette to Ableton Live on my laptop. Zach overdubbed a lot of the bass and synth tracks remotely from his house in Seattle. I tracked all the vocals and recorded some guitar overdubs in a reverberant empty bedroom in my house in Portland. Engineer Tim Shrout expertly mixed the album on ProTools while I micromanaged.

It has been a decade since I have released new material under the name Dear Nora. The last time I released an album of new material was in 2011 – that was called California Lite and it was under the band name Key Losers. Thematically, California Lite makes sense as an early warm-up to Skulls Example. It’s about freeways, the internet, human connections (and broken connections), and wilderness.

Skulls Example is about how our weird, techno-futuristic present (VR, self-driving cars, drones, Tinder dates, reality TV show government, Starbucks ubiquity, iPhone as extension of human body, Blade Runner -esque income inequality, cryptocurrency “utopias", etc.) juxtaposes so absurdly against the never-ending backdrop of inexorable, ancient elements (fire, ice, wind, storms, mountains, rocks, human instinct, etc) . It’s like we live in multiple realities at once: Now Reality layered upon Ancient Reality, Virtual Reality layered upon Now Reality. The palimpsest creates the illusion of collapsed time.

The album is specifically about humanity. Our capacities and feats are so incredible – we’re godlike – and yet we're scrounging for happiness and basic survival, we're heavily addicted, we just want love, we want family. We’re simultaneously so brilliant and so basic. To me, this feels like the worst and best time to be alive. I experience some level of horror and bliss on a daily basis.

One of the reasons I “retired” Dear Nora ten years ago was because I couldn’t figure out how to navigate financial stability as a full-time songwriter and touring musician. And for the last three years, I’ve worked as a commercial music producer. I enjoy my work, but I constantly think about how I’m contributing to the Massive Capitalistic Garbage Dump of Life. When Trump got elected, I knew it was time to make a new album.

I derived a ton of lyrical inspiration from several recent visits to Oaxaca and Mexico City. I’m fairly obsessed with Mexico’s culture, music, and attitude towards death. I also derived inspiration from the Mojave desert and Oregon’s high desert, places where there are creosote or juniper trees, and fields of ancient lava rock. To me there’s nothing like letting go of my thoughts and being in the dusty, sensual wilderness. Living on Earth feels like pure magic to me and I tried to bring that feeling to this album.

Stylistically, I tried to channel all my favorite songs by Billy Bragg, Leonard Cohen, Gang of Four, Prince, Frank Ocean, Young Marble Giants, Lou Reid, Vangelis, Joni Mitchell, and Enya.

This album would not exist without the extraordinary contributions of my immensely talented collaborators. Thank you.

- Katy Davidson

credits

released May 25, 2018

All songs written by Katy Davidson between 2009-2017
The song “Skulls Example” was co-written by Zach Burba

ASCAP Writer: Kathryn Lloyd Davidson
ASCAP Publisher: Solo Wanderer

Engineered by Katy Davidson with assistance from Zach Burba and Tim Shrout
Produced by Katy Davidson with assistance from Zach Burba

Recorded mostly during summer/autumn 2017, though we tracked some stuff as early as 2013

Basic instruments tracked live to Tascam 4-track cassette at Marmoset
Most vocals and some guitars tracked to Ableton Live at Wooden Resonant
Most bass and synth tracked to Logic at Magic Lanes

Mixed by Tim Shrout
Mastered by Matthew Barnhart

Album design by Jessica Jones
Cover photo by Andrea Zittel


White Fur
lyrics by Katy Davidson and Cynthia Nelson
vocals and rhythm guitar: Katy Davidson
lead guitar: Tom Filardo
bass: Zach Burba
drums: Greg Campanile

Morning Glories
lyrics for "Morning Glories” are from the public domain song “Where The Morning Glories Grow"
vocals and rhythm guitar: Katy Davidson
bass and synth: Zach Burba

New To Me
vocals and guitars: Katy Davidson
bass and synth: Zach Burba

Simulation Feels
vocals and rhythm guitar: Katy Davidson
bass, synth, lead guitar, percussion: Zach Burba
drums: Greg Campanile

Sunset On Humanity
lyrics by Katy Davidson and Franz Prichard
vocals and guitars: Katy Davidson
bass: Zach Burba
drums: Greg Campanile

Anyway
vocals and guitar: Katy Davidson
guitar: Jessica Jones
bass and synth: Zach Burba

Skulls Example
vocals and guitars: Katy Davidson
synth: Zach Burba

Worship The Cactus
vocals and guitars: Katy Davidson
bass: Zach Burba
drums: Greg Campanile

Antidote For Mindlessness
lyrics by Katy Davidson and Cynthia Nelson
vocals and synth: Katy Davidson
lead guitar: Tom Filardo
bass: Chris Sutton
drum programming: Greg Campanile

Black Truck
vocals and guitar: Katy Davidson
bass: Zach Burba
drums: Greg Campanile

Creature Of Habit
vocals and guitar: Katy Davidson
lead guitar: Jessica Jones
bass: Zach Burba
synth: Jessica Dennison

Ancient Plain
vocals: Katy Davidson, Zach Burba, David Longstreth
guitars: Katy Davidson and Jessica Jones
bass and synth: Zach Burba

Long Distance
vocals: Katy Davidson
synth: Zach Burba

Walking In The Hills
vocals and guitar: Katy Davidson

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