Meet Ley Line: the multilingual folk/soul band from Austin, Texas, the end result of fusing two duos into a quartet of deluxe sonic opulence. Their latest single is the exquisite “En Busca Del Agua.”
Austinites Emilie Basez and Kate Robberson met twin sisters Madeleine and Lydia Froncek in 2013, while at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Formally coming together in 2016, Ley Line began spinning their musical magic with the release of their debut album, Field Notes, followed by last year’s We Saw Blue, the musical chronicle of their three-month exploration of Brazil. The visual depiction of the journey will be released on May 14.
Ley Line has performed at the Old Settler’s Music Festival and the Kerrville Folk Festival, as well as sharing the stage with Superfónicos, Billy Strings, and Bonnie Paine of Elephant Revival, followed by performing at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Guitar Girl Magazine spoke with the foursome to find out more about the inspiration for Ley Line’s music, the traditions of Brazil, their forthcoming Visual Album, and their new podcast, “Following Ley Line,” launched March 5.
Listen to “En Busca Del Agua”
What inspired your new single “En Busca Del Agua?”
Emilie: Central Texas is blessed with hundreds of springs, effortlessly flowing with the source of life. It’s really a miracle that is so easily forgotten. I didn’t think about it much and I began singing this mantra while collecting drinking water from a spring near Barton Springs. I started collecting it to feel a step closer to the water that I ingested.
“We go searching for water, freshwater that purifies our hearts.” This spring water seeps through the ground and becomes pure enough to drink. The song is a process of healing, of asking for forgiveness in how I treat water and forget its preciousness. We ended up recording this a few days before the winter storms that devastated the water lines in Texas. In a way, it was an invitation from nature to experience our faulty systems and disconnect from her rhythms. This song is a mantra to remember again and again how precious freshwater is.
What do you hope your fans/listeners take away with them when they listen to your music?
We hope it feels like an experience of returning to oneself again. A big breath of fresh air. A recollection of the beauty, depth, and magic of one’s heart. A moment to listen to your intuition.
How did you get started in music? What’s the backstory there?
The band met serendipitously in Telluride Colorado where we were all attending the Bluegrass Festival, but we each have our own individual musical histories. Kate and Emilie met in Austin Texas and created a duo in Brazil where they traveled around the country learning traditional songs and writing originals as well. Lydia and I have been playing music together since we were little kids and have always been playing drums and bass in different bands. All of us have musical influences from our families and heritage but I think our most common thread is our spiritual connection to music. We are all songwriters who connect with music as a way of processing our world and coming together for collective healing.
Which musicians/vocalists influenced you the most?
Mayra Andrade is a huge influence of ours! Some others that come to mind are Perota Chingo, Rosalia, Alicia Keys, Natalia Lafourcade and so many more!
Which artists are you listening to right now?
We all have our own unique musical interests but some of the bands we all collectively love are:
Y La Bamba
Lianna La Havas
Ley Line will be releasing a new Visual Album in May. What can you share about the album?
The songs on Ley Line’s album We Saw Blue were inspired by our three-month tour through Brazil. Some were written and gathered along the way, others emerged as reflections after we returned to our hometown of Austin, Texas.
The Visual Album gives context to the people, places, and experiences that inspire our music. It also builds a bridge across the cultures and languages represented on the album through subtitles and imagery that guides viewers to a deeper understanding of the meaning of the song. Our music sparks a lot of questions; what language are you singing in? What are you singing about? Where did you learn that instrument? So we decided to create a piece of art that allows our audience to dive deeper into our music through a visual experience.
You also have a new podcast series, “Following Ley Line,” launching March 5. What motivated the podcast and what will it cover?
Emilie: Our podcast “Following Ley Line” was a dream of ours for years. We have the most interesting conversations in the van while on tour and we wanted to start recording them. At shows, we get asked all the time how we met, why we chose the name Ley Line, why we sing in so many languages. We thought our fans would be interested to learn more about our songs and the stories that inspired them.
How did Ley Line come to get together?
Ley Line is the musical merging of two duos. Austinites Kate Robberson and Emilie Basez met twin sisters Madeleine and Lydia Froncek at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 2013. Since reuniting in Austin in 2015, Ley Line has been weaving together their individual journeys into a collective vision.
How are you handling the coronavirus situation?
Kate: The loss and uncertainty of the pandemic have forced us to get creative. We were forced to face the question: what is music to you if not a job? But even without shows and as we take on other projects to make it through this difficult time, to what do we turn to feel human again? Music, we play it in our homes and it still connects us across distances. You can take away everything but it is our human right to be able to creatively express. This time has been a testament to our connection to each other and to the music because playing together has been so grounding and brought us back to a feeling of harmony and hope. Artists will always adapt to the times and I’m proud that we continue to create during this time.
Maddy: One disguised blessing of the pandemic has been time to finish both the album and The Visual Album, an 8-minute long audio-visual art piece that takes viewers along with us on our journey through Brazil that inspired the album. We filmed the footage in Brazil and have been working on it for the last few years, trying to find an editor who could help produce the vision we had for the video. When Covid started and our summer tours were canceled, we took on the task ourselves. We worked as a group to complete The Visual Album which is set for release in February 2021.
Emilie: We’ve played a handful of socially distanced outdoor shows for live audiences and we plan to continue that as long as it is safe for us and our audiences. We’re hoping to take this album west in the spring on a homegrown tour centered around outdoor venues and house concerts.