Half Waif

Sat Nov 13 2021 at 09:00 pm to Sun Nov 14 2021 at 12:00 am UTC-05:00

Johnny Brenda's | Philadelphia

Johnny Brenda's
Publisher/HostJohnny Brenda's
Half Waif
Half Waif with Lightning Bug at Johnny Brenda's
About this Event

8PM - Doors

9PM - Lightning Bug

10PM - Half Waif


Half Waif is the project of singer, songwriter, and producer Nandi Rose. The project--which blends pop, folk, and electronic styles into a layered and transportive sound--has been featured on NPR's Tiny Desk series, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Pitchfork; toured internationally with bands like Mitski, Iron & Wine and Calexico; and recently announced her fifth full-length album Mythopoetics with ANTI- Records.

For Nandi Rose, writing a song is an act of transformation. As Half Waif, she pieces together the patchworks of our darkest and most vulnerable moments with a golden thread, crafting a majestic evocation of the human experience that permeates with a graceful strength. On new album Mythopoetics, Rose breaks the familial patterns handed down to her, transforming this source of pain into something bearable, beautiful and celebratory. It is an essential reminder that we have the power to shape the stories we tell and the myths we make of our lives.

Half Waif’s previous albums The Caretaker (2020), Lavender (2018) and Probable Depths (2016), garnered acclaim for their compelling journeys through solitude, desire and the search for independence,blanketed under a spectacle of deeply-layered synth-pop. Her fifth full-length sees her stretch her creative muscles, as Rose pushes through the barriers of self-scrutiny and transports us into a world of mythicproportions. Charting territories of addiction, memory and loss, Mythopoetics is animated by the traces ofwhat’s been left behind: the ghost of orange blossoms, the tail of a meteor across the sky, the taste ofloneliness in a crust of bread. It is a kind of modern-day storybook where memory is spun into song and the self is explored and acknowledged with tender, nourishing care.

To bring together the world of Mythopoetics, Rose once again collaborated with multi-instrumentalist, film composer and producer Zubin Hensler. The pair came together for a recording residency at Pulp Artsin Gainesville, Florida, with the intention of creating stripped-back recordings of old songs, solelyfocusing on Rose and her piano. However, the playground of the studio soon transformed the project intoa texturally diverse and kaleidoscopic sonic universe.

“There was a real excitement and joy to see how we had each progressed and evolved since we’d last worked together and how those skills really complement each other,” Rose explains, adding that Hensler’s experience in taking acoustic sounds into an electronic world allowed Mythopoetics to bloom. But despite moving away from the original sonic intention of the record, the pair were keen to keep the organic nature of the sounds, performing every instrument themselves and turning to unconventional methods—like agitating the strings of the piano with the sustain pedal down or placing tin foil over Hensler’s trumpet—to stretch the palette in new directions.

Mythopoetics is an album about processing past traumas in the quest for a new, sun-dappled pathway, andthe transformation that takes place as we take each tentative step. The artwork, shot by Ali Cherkis, seesRose screaming in bright colors on the front, and naked with a stoic expression on the back, representingthe spectrum of emotions explored throughout these tracks. Change, evolution and joy take real courage,and it’s in the catharsis of telling your story that the calm, confident aftermath can finally reach thesurface. Here, Half Waif is shunning the shadowed mass of generational trauma and the patterns passed down to her. Instead, she plants a seed, urging the orange blossom to sprout through the cracks in the concrete.


In the third week of August 2019, along the windy coastline of southern Washington, musician and singer Audrey Kang arrived at a festival of kites. She made the stop during a trek across the Pacific Northwest, where she camped, hiked, surfed, and wandered alone in the area’s lush natural reserves. “I get a lot of inspiration from nature,” she says. “If I look at the sky and do a lot of nothing in nature alone—I don’t know. The songs just come.” The trip followed a series of endings in her life—work, love, relationships—that felt like an upheaval. Yet Audrey found peace and contentment there on the coast. “I really didn’t know what my life was going to look like,” she remembers. “But at the kite festival, I knew that each day I’d see a lot of beautiful kites, and each evening I’d watch the sunset and sleep on the beach. I felt like nothing could hurt me.”

What Audrey experienced during that trip, what she realized while watching the kites, would plant the seeds for A Color of the Sky, the third album by her band Lightning Bug. A record equally about quiet introspection and broad existential questions, A Color of the Sky reflects the journey of its songwriter emerging from intense self-doubt to find herself changed. “I trusted no one, and was very unhappy with who I was,” Audrey shares. “The key shift in my psyche was the realization that I was the sole person responsible for my life and happiness. That life holds no more and no less than the very purpose you give it yourself.” She illustrates this realization in rich emotional detail on opening song “The Return,” where unadorned guitars waver timidly over sparse drums before slowly transforming into a tapestry of synth, flute, strings, and Audrey’s soft-glowing voice.

Growth and self-acceptance have rarely sounded so otherworldly—yet still so intimate—as they do across A Color of the Sky. Lead single “The Right Thing Is Hard To Do” brings together a dreamy country motif with Lightning Bug’s boundless guitar pop to transportive effect. As Audrey examines her struggles with vulnerability and self-worth, connecting those personal issues with global ones, the music sways and glimmers like water in moonlight. It’s followed by the enchanting “September Song, pt. ii”, which embodies the crisp clarity brought on by the transition to fall. A bed of finger-plucked guitars surround Audrey’s hushed lines about the colors of sunsets, the truth that change brings—only to be swept away in a rush of pattering drums, downy synth pads, and heavy bass. It feels as much like a vivid portrait of the changing seasons as it does a cathartic psychedelic experience. Kicking off the record’s second half, “Song of the Bell” rolls in like a ghostly fog, billowing with blown-out guitar noise and haunted by layers of wispy vocal melodies. The song quickly dissipates, as if evaporated by the sun—its questions of self-actualization and fulfillment lingering in the air long after.

Unsurprisingly for an album about transforming one’s inner world, A Color of the Sky follows after Lightning Bug’s outer world changed as well. Their 2019 album October Song caught the attention of longstanding indie label Fat Possum, who reissued the LP and signed the band onto their roster. Audrey and her collaborators, Kevin Copeland (guitar, vocals) and Logan Miley (engineer, synths, textures), also added new members to their live band, who joined them in recording for the first time. Along with Dane Hagen (drums) and Vincent Puleo (bass), Lightning Bug turned a rundown old house in the Catskills into a makeshift studio. But despite the new surroundings and opportunities, some things didn’t change at all. “We stuck to the same DIY, our-own-world approach as previous records,” Audrey elaborates on their recording process. Which seems abundantly clear listening to A Color of the Sky. This isn’t a young band searching for its identity, but rather a cohesive group of artists honing their sound to perfection.

Lightning Bug recording together as a live band helped make A Color of the Sky feel more organic, dynamic, and full than their previous albums. It also enhanced Audrey’s newfound sense of clarity and confidence in her songwriting. “Songs in the past sometimes felt muddled, or I felt lost where to take them,” she elaborates. “But for this one, each song felt like a whole entity from conception.” The change is undeniable. Her voice is more pronounced than ever, the arrangements streamlined, the messages more palpable—all in service of an immersive emotional resonance. “I want listeners to explore their own interior worlds,” she concludes. “It’s about learning to trust yourself, about being deeply honest with yourself, and about how self-acceptance yields a selfless form of love.”


Event Venue & Nearby Stays

Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, United States


USD 15.00

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