Seattle’s DIY pop group, Flying Fish Cove, released their debut record, “At Moonset,” via Help Yourself Records this past Friday, April 5th. The twelve tracks echo vocalist Dena Zilber’s inner trauma and turmoil behind the mirage of an audible fairytale.
Zilber explained, “I write my songs like their poems. I usually write the lyrics first then come up with a melody later, but it can go the other way around too. That’s a hard question because I don’t even know. Sometimes I’ll a write a song then go write another and be like how did I even do this before? I feel like another thing takes over my body when I’m writing. I don’t know how it comes out of me or where the words come from.”
At first glance, her lyrics read like they were ripped out of a Hans Christian Andersen’s transcript.
“I like picking up a book, looking at a line of words and being like, ‘Oh, I really like this one word’, and then it will take me on a path of exploring of what I’m trying to say in my song.”
She noted ‘Moomin’ by Tove Jansson, a Finnish fantasy writer, and the impact her “philosophical and flowery” words have had on her music. Take one of the most prominent lines in the track “Manticore” for example-- “I can hop the boat onto crystal shores, I can ride a tiger, find the manticore.” Zilber has managed to perfect taking deeply, personal emotional contusions and transmuting them into sparkling sounds of escape.
“I was subconscious about what was happening. As I’ve been talking to people about the songs, I’ve realized how therapeutic songwriting is for me. It’s just naturally what I want to write songs about- painful things and analyzing them through song. ‘Manticore’ was one of the first songs I wrote for the album, and when I sat down to write it-- I use a lot of vague metaphors, and I don’t expect people to listen to it and be like, ‘Oh, I can tell what this song is about. It’s about your mom dying.’ The only lyric that mentions a reference to my mom dying is ‘picking up a mirror and shows me her.’ I sat down to write that song and wanted to write about how traumatic my family is because I hardly ever write songs about that. I notice I dance around it. My life is full of things I could write about, but I don’t because they’re too hard or too traumatizing. But I realize I should because it would be so therapeutic and sharing part of my soul to the world.”
“For that one, it became a huge metaphor using fantasy worlds to escape from trauma, and that became an overarching theme for the album and my life. It unfolded naturally. I make art and music because life is traumatic.”
Flying Fish Cove has been writing music together for two years, made up of Zilber, Jake Jones, Sean Canfield and Chris McFarlane and signed to Help Yourself Records this past August. Although, Zilber is the mastermind behind a majority of the lyrics, she explained the project is very much collaborative.
“When I bring songs to the band, I don’t really tell them what to do. I let them write their own parts, and I’m usually delighted with what they come up with.”
Another huge influence on Flying Fish Cove’s music is Seattle. Before moving to Seattle, Zilber was living on the east coast. The change of scenery has guided her mystical production in addition to the forever-growing indie pop scene in the city.
“I’m very involved in the DIY music scene in Seattle and so are all of my friends that I worked with on this project. We go to a lot of house shows or little DIY venues or all ages places. That music scene is very connected, and we tend to like similar things. It’s eclectic at the same time, but it also comes from very similar interests.”
The band's latest visual, the music video for "Blowing A Candle," was directed by Zilber's friend Sean Downey and inspired by the French film, "One Sings The Other Doesn't." Downey succeeded in teleporting the listener to Flying Fish Cove's fantasy world. You can envision the chimes, the smoothness of Zilber's vocals and the calming bass line-- truly a synesthesian production.
“I want people to walk away with a magical feeling with a melody stuck in their heads that makes them smile.”
Flying Fish Cove will be completing a small west coast tour run this month, see if their coming to a town hear you.