Thursday, 24th May 2018. 11:01:41pm ET
Interviews Ethereal Interview- Mirabilis
Band: Mirabilis
Interviewer: Jules Cohen
Date: May 6th, 2004

Mirabilis Grave Concerns interview

Jules Cohen for GC

Mirabilis are:

Dru Allen and

Summer Bowman

Jules- Mirabilis...is stunning and fantastic. Congratulations on such beautiful work. There are tracks on it that move me. Your voices blend so well together. How did this project come together?

DRU: I came up with this idea a while ago, probably at end of '99 or so, to get some female singers together and work on a project that was largely a cappella. At first I considered women I'd sang with before in choir, then my thinking turned towards other female artists in the scene. While I had long enjoyed Summer's music, it was from afar. We finally met online in 2000 through mp3.com, back when the site was still growing. I emailed her hello and we started corresponding. I mentioned to her my idea, which was very vague at the time, not expecting her to say anything more than something like "Yeah, that sounds neat," but instead she embraced it and started to give it direction. It was great. The more we discussed it, it seemed like logistically it would be best to have us two as the core members, but continue to seek out other vocalists to contribute on a per song basis. Otherwise we'd probably never get the record out, if we dealt with people living all over the country.

Jules- when you went to write, pick songs, record Mirabilis...what were your influences? What came to mind...were you trying to model your sound...collaboration after something specific? When I was recording my 2nd cd...our vision was...a bit from the 50s-today. What was/is your vision for Mirabilis?

SUMMER: Dru and I both came to the table with songs we were interested in recording. Since we both have a background in singing choral and classical music, there was a lot of music that we had performed before that we thought would work well for Mirabilis. In terms of the original pieces of music, we wanted to present songs that invoke a medieval or classical feeling for the most part. Some of the original compositions sound very modern, but there is definitely a something in each that harkens back to our classical training.

Jules- where do you see Mirabilis going? Will this be a one time CD or I already know that I'd love to hear more....

DRU: My original idea, honestly, was a mesh of Miranda Sex Garden, a combination of the emotion and power of their later releases with the simple elegance of the first two records. Which is not to say I wanted to copy them, but I thought it would be a direction that I'd enjoy and that goth/ethereal fans would latch onto. But I also saw the potential of music like this finding its way outside the scene to new listeners. For future releases, I'd like to keep the basic model and continue to expand on it. Both Summer and I like old torch jazz standards, so maybe we will explore something in that vein. Also there are a couple pop songs we want to try tackling and cover, or Mirabilize (laughs). Summer and I already have plans for a new CD with Middle Pillar Presents, but even if we did not, I think we both view the project as lasting indefinitely. As long as there are songs we are interested in recording and we have the resources, I know in my heart that we will continue. It's such a great experience, challenging us as singers, musicians and songwriters, but also is a lot of fun.

Jules- On Pleiades (the album title of the new CD)...the songs that touch me deeply...a combo of your vocals, musical arrangement are Pleiades, In the Dark and O Virga ac Diadema....what are your personal favorites....

SUMMER: "In the Dark" is one of my favorite original pieces along with "Moon." Of the pieces that are traditional, the harmonies in "Riu Riu Chiu" came out really well. I think our voices on that particular song blend together and create a really unique rendition of the song. Honestly, there really isn’t a track on the record that I am unhappy with. I really love every song on there.

DRU: To me the opening "Pleiades" cascading into "In the Dark" almost perfectly sums up the record, and maybe in the big picture, Mirabilis. For those who don't know the record yet the title track "Pleiades" is an a cappella song with multiple vocal tracks that blend together so well they almost sound like synthesizers. It's such an overly simple song it's almost silly. There aren't even lyrics. But the idea for that song was to convey emotion in the most stripped down form possible, which I think we succeeded in. The song should tug at your heart, and it does. In ways I'm sorry there aren't more songs on the record like "In the Dark" but the album has its own life, almost its own say, and it just didn't happen that way. The combination of the main vocal—which is as beautiful, emotional and powerful as any Dead Can Dance song—and dark, melodic electronics is just brilliant. I'm really proud of it, which I can say without narcissism, because it was all Summer. I just came in and did my "Ooooh's and Aaaah's." I also think all of our guest tracks stand out, "Ripple" with Regeana from The Changelings, "Mysterium" with Colleen, and "Invocation of the Sun" with Katy from Matson Belle.

Jules- Dru...you are the lead singer of This Ascension and Summer you are the lead singer of Machine in the Garden...both bands I know very well...do you feel Mirabilis was a natural joint venture or a departure?

DRU: For me it was both. My band later on was doing more ethereal, vocal oriented music, but I was not very active in the songwriting process. So for me it was a natural extension of TA with the added challenges of being responsible for how a song should go. That might sound weird, but I just didn't have any songwriting experience since I don't play an instrument in TA, nor even much song arranging under my belt because there were five other people in TA and unless I thought something was absolutely not going to work for me at all, I let the song evolve amongst the other members. It's the whole "Too many cooks" thing. For Summer, I bet that it was both as well. I think Summer has done plenty of ethereal music which is continuing with Mirabilis, but tMitG is evolving and wants to do something more.

SUMMER: Along the same lines as Dru, I had similar experiences with the Machine in the Garden in terms of the genre, however, I wanted to depart from that and do a different style that I could never do with tMitG. Songs like “Riu Riu Chiu” and “Weep, O Mine Eyes” could have never been tMitG songs and it was great to get a bunch of stuff recorded that I had swimming around in my head. Obviously there are some songs that have definite feeling of the Machine in the Garden because that is where I come from, but Mirabilis is its own animal with its own life and place in the musical world. This was also a great opportunity for me to depart from tMitG from a technical aspect. I had been assisting in the studio for the last few albums with Roger and I was ready to take the reigns, so to speak. It was a great opportunity for me to engineer and mix this album and I had a great time with that as well.

Jules- Do you plan to tour this new cd?

SUMMER: At this point in time we don't have plans for a tour. Because of the number of voices involved in the pieces on the CD, it is going to be difficult to perform live. We have talked about making it possible, so it certainly isn't out of the question, we will just have to see.

Jules- There's a lot of history and ethnicity in this CD...it's rich/chock full of texture...are you history buffs...how did the choice of songs come about?

DRU: Summer and I both have a lot of experiences in choruses, so we took from our favorites here and there. “Riu Riu Chiu” has always been one of my favorite songs, and Summer had the idea of slowing it way down to really feel the harmonies of it. A lot of the historical pieces are actually poetry that came from a collection that Summer has been keeping over time. We'd go through it periodically and see some words that resonated with us, and try to put them to music. Or Summer would have an instrumental recorded that she was trying to find words for, and we'd go through looking for something with phrasing that would work. This is how "Libera Me" and "Invocation of the Sun" happened. But Summer and I are both followers of history/myth so we're always researching figures from the past and folklore that inspire us.

Jules- You both worked a bit on this CD with Changelings lead singer...Regeana Morris...who is another ethereal/darkwave favorite of mine...how was that experience and will there be any chance of hearing you both guest appear on a Changelings album?

SUMMER: Working with Regeana was wonderful. I have a lot of respect for her as a musician and I was extremely happy when she agreed to work with us. The song she wrote for us, "Ripple," really came out beautifully. When Dru and I created Mirabilis, we wanted to use it as a way to work with other musicians whose work we admired and I am really happy that we have been able to include several incredible musicians on this release. In terms of working with Regeana in The Changelings, I would have to say that is unlikely. Like Dru with This Ascension and me with the Machine in the Garden, her other band is separate from Mirabilis and so it should remain.

Thank you very much Dru and Summer...this is CD is one I highly recommend...it's soothing, yet exciting and powerful all at once. Best to you both with the success of this CD.

BOTH: Thank you for the kind words! We are grateful for the opportunity to do the interview and it is very gratifying to know how much you appreciate our work.


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