Van Plating wasn’t sure how her self-titled album would be received in 2019 after a nine-year hiatus from music.
After attending Florida Southern College and majoring in violin and voice, Plating spent her 20s immersed in the indie rock scene, playing the violin and singing with her band Pemberly (named after the country estate in Pride & Prejudice). The band was poised for success, receiving warm receptions while on tour with the likes of Copeland, The Postmarks, Matt Pond PA, and Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s. Things were going great — until they weren’t. The band broke up and she decided to take some time off. A year turned into three, which turned into six, and before she knew it nearly a decade had passed.
Plating woke up one day and wasn’t sure where she fit in musically anymore. The music business isn’t known for being kind to women after they reach a certain age — and she no longer had a band to blend in with. She knew if she took another shot at it, she would be front and centre, and would rise or fall alone. Either way, she knew she wanted to try again, and cast any fears aside.
Plating recently confessed about 2019’s Van Plating, “A year and a half ago, I thought I was going to write a little acoustic record to give to my friends, but that’s not what it turned out to be at all.” Instead, the album took on a life of its own, blossoming into a collection of songs indebted to the confessional folk tradition whilst embracing forward-thinking pop song structures, harkening to celebrated offerings from Lilith Fair icons like Paula Cole, Aimee Mann, Natalie Merchant, and Shawn Colvin. Plating also dipped her toes into the Americana world with songs like “Standing Still” and “Mountain” — both of which received praise from Americana-focused media outlets.
“I was literally in the studio experimenting and trying things,” she recalls. “Where I landed, which has been really cool, is in that Americana world, which I love a lot. And that just sort of happened organically after the record was released. I had a lot of momentum coming into the spring with a festival booked, and a lot of shows were coming in before they all got cancelled, and they were good opportunities.”
It was the reception to her new sound that gave her the confidence to lean into a more singer-songwriter vibe on the songs she’s recorded during the quarantine.
“The album I put out last year really helped me find my way,” she affirms. “Now I feel like I don’t need anybody else to tell me or help me kind of uncover who I am anymore; I know that I’m a strong singer and a strong songwriter. That record taught me who I am.”
Now she is back with a new batch of songs.
“I am always writing. I work on music every single day, whether I’m performing or not. I have probably written somewhere in the neighbourhood of 30-40 songs since January, and ‘Bird On A Wire’ is the first one to be released from this latest body of work, pandemic be damned!”
It’s also the first song she wrote with friend Brian Elijah Smith, on the day they first met.
“When Bryan and I met up to write a song in January, we didn’t have any expectations or plans for what we’d make. I was scrolling Instagram one morning and came across him performing on a Tampa public radio show I have also performed on. I wasn’t familiar with his work, so I pulled up Spotify and was totally blown away by his songwriting and spellbinding vocals. So I did what millennials do…and followed him on Instagram.”
While she was still listening to his record, she received a direct message from Bryan — he was listening to her music, as she was simultaneously listening to his. He loved her voice and sound and asked if she wanted to meet up to write a song.
“I said ‘sure’ and when we showed up to the first write back in January, we were wearing matching outfits. Same vintage blue t-shirt, same jeans, boots, same sunglasses. It was totally embarrassing but broke the ice quite effectively. No reason to hold onto your dignity when you’re walking around town in a matching outfit with someone you only just met.”
The song comes from the feeling of being so tired, so ready to be done with whatever burden you’re carrying, or maybe your loved one is the one you’re carrying, and you’re just not strong enough to hold it together any longer. It’s not without hope, however. It’s a song that says, “I’m not strong enough to carry you, but I can hold your hand as we wander blindfolded in the dark.” It’s a postmodern lullaby singing to one’s lover to let go of what is weighing them down so they can join in the glorious, wild ride of living fully again. Both lovers broken and weary, but hanging on and determined to keep dreaming.
This is the first in a series of four upcoming singles from Van Plating’s new musical direction that she can’t wait to share.