Artist: Pixie and The Partygrass Boys
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Latest Album: The Chicken Coop, Vol. 1
What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?
There are so many! It’s really hard to pick a single moment. There is one that comes to mind, however. We were a young band, having barely made the move to start playing outside of our home state. I can’t remember exactly where the show was, but it was one of our first times in Colorado. We were playing in a town that we had never been to, had no friends or family in, going in completely blind. Little did we know, but two of our songs “Home” and “Ski and Party” had gotten ahead of us and struck a chord with these mountain town ski bums. When we played those songs there were a bunch of people who knew ALL of the words!!! We were absolutely floored. It was the first time that had happened outside of our hometown, and it still is an amazing feeling when something born of our hearts resonates in the hearts of others. Really makes you feel warm and fuzzy, seen and heard.
If you had to write a mission statement for your career, what would it be?
When the going gets tough, the tough get silly. Too often in the music industry do we find seriousness at every step of the way. We are peddling joy in the industry of revelry, and while any job is bound to have its rough patches and challenges, a little bit of absurdity and playfulness can help bring us all back to the heart of the matter.
What rituals do you have, either in the studio or before a show?
We often do pre-show group burpees to hype ourselves up, but there is one thing that permeates all we do. I wouldn’t call it so much of a ritual as more of an inevitability. It’s practically tradition at this point that the longer we do a thing, the more our brains unravel and the weirder we get. When we’re approaching the 9th hour of a studio day, you might find Pixie and Andrew doing a ragtime rendition of a song about worms from her childhood that randomly popped into her brain, while the rest of us wriggle around on the ground like worms on a rainy day. At the end of a tour, when we are weeks deep and far from home, you might find us in the green room latching onto some catchy phrase and chanting it while we dance around the room. The most recent being “last night of the run, make it a good show cuz it’s fun!!!” When the gas tank is running low, nonsense is the name of the game.
Which elements of nature do you spend the most time with and how do those impact your work?
We all live in the state of Utah, and Utah has some amazing nature! Whether we moved here, grew up here, or left to then return, we all stayed for the mountains and deserts. It’s pretty obvious, listening to our lyrics, how deeply the mountains, deserts, and rivers of our home have influenced our music. We are all active skiers/snowboarders, desert dogs, mountain folk, and river rats. A lot of our songs directly reference these activities and the natural areas in which they take place, while the ephemeral nature of the snow, the permanence of the mountains and desert, and the ever changing fluidity of the river shape the way we think and view the world, and naturally that affects the way we compose.
What other art forms — literature, film, dance, painting, etc. — inform your music?
Dance has been heavily influential in our development. Years ago we were lucky enough to collaborate with Sarah Longoria and The Municipal Ballet Co. in Salt Lake City. Together we did an adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, which we call The River of Rosewater. We performed it in a historic downtown mansion, with the guests following the band and dancers from room to room. We hope to release the recorded music this coming holiday season, and a video of the performance can be found on YouTube. Sarah and her husband, Colby, are also river rats, so we collaborated to create The River Speaks Plainly, which tells the tales of river heroes and heroines from Colorado River lore. The music, which can be found on Spotify, combines storytelling elements as we had Colby tell the stories campfire style between the songs. Writing for dance allows us to be a little more abstract and evocative, something that has found its way into our arrangements and compositions ever since.
Photo Credit: Dave Vann