Images and Video by Jan-Willem Dikkers
“The room we recorded in is beautifully resonant, and outside there are
all these incredible sounds which we tried to put into the record.
Every morning you wake up to all these parrots screaming, and then roosters.
Sometimes the parrots would imitate the roosters.”
— Jonathan Meiburg
Loma is a band formed by Texas-based musician Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski (Cross Record) and New York-based musician Jonathan Meiburg (Shearwater). Their debut album Loma was released earlier this year.
Cross Record is the musical project of musician and singer-songwriter Emily Cross. Cross Record has two albums including Be Good (2013) and Wabi-Sabi (2016), recorded by Cross and her then husband, musician Dan Duszynski.
Fronted by instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Jonathan Meiburg, Shearwater is an indie rock band begun in Austin, Texas. Other members of the band include musicians Jesca Hoop, Lucas Oswald and Abram Shook. Shearwater has opened for the likes of Sharon Van Etten and has an impressive total of 17 albums since 2001, the last being Jet Plane and Oxbow (2016) which included notable collaborators such as Brian Reitzell and Jenn Wasner.
The band Loma was born from a tour friendship between bands Cross Records (the project of Emily Cross and Cross’s former husband and collaborator Dan Duszynski) and Shearwater (spearheaded by Jonathan Meiburg). Together, they formed yet another band—Loma. Loma, their self-titled debut album, was recorded at Duszynski’s eccentric home in Dripping Springs Texas and is out now via Sub Pop. Cross and Meiburg discuss how Loma came about, their unique projects outside of music, and on-stage painting.
Where are you from?
Jonathan Meiburg: I live in New York.
Emily Cross: I live in Austin right now.
When did you start making music?
EC: In my last year of college. I went to school for Visual Arts, and I took this minimalist music class. One of our assignments was to either make a long minimalist composition or a PowerPoint. I was like, “I’ll make the recording” and solicited my friend Theo, an engineer, for help. I ended up making this 30-minute long accordion-voice-wine glasses composition and had so much fun. It was like drawing, putting all of the pieces together. Very visual. I started singing a little bit after that.
“It was like drawing, putting all of the pieces together. Very visual.”
— Emily Cross
JM: So you just kind of fell into the whole singing and guitar playing thing?
EC: I’ve always sung for fun, and I played clarinet in middle school.
JM: Which we forced you to do on the record.
EC: You didn’t have to force me. I like playing clarinet.
JM: She can make a clarinet sound like she’s bending a steel girder in half.
I brought Emily’s band Cross Record on tour with my band Shearwater back in 2016. I got to know Emily and Dan, who played was playing with her at the time. Midway through the tour, I liked them so much personally and musically that I was like, “You know what, we should just form a band together.”
We got together in Dripping Springs, Texas and made an album. It surprised all of us in that it sounded unlike either of our two bands, and we really loved what was happening. In the end, we had the LOMA record, which is one of my favorite records I’ve ever worked on. Especially because I didn’t have to do the singing.
EC: You did some singing.
JM: A little bit.
Tell me about the house where you made the music.
EC: When Dan and I moved from Chicago to Dripping Springs, that was the house we found. It’s on 18 acres, and it’s this rammed earth house. The walls are this thick compressed solid rock. Dan still lives there and my dogs are there. Next door is a bird sanctuary, which Jonathan as a bird lover drew much inspiration from.
JM: It’s an amazing place. I went there and thought, “Now I see why they love making music out here.” The room we recorded in is beautifully resonant, and outside there are all these incredible sounds which we tried to put into the record. Every morning you wake up to all these parrots screaming, and then roosters. Sometimes the parrots would imitate the roosters.
What are some things you like to address in your music?
JM: Combinations of lightness and darkness.
EC: Also for this record, creating a space to live in. A space to sink into that you can be a part of.
“My favorite records are always like that. They have this real thick sense of atmosphere.”
— Jonathan Meiburg
JM: My favorite records are always like that. They have this real thick sense of atmosphere.
Who did you listen to growing up?
E. Power Biggs
Edward Power Biggs, or “E. Power Biggs” as he is professionally known, was a British-born American organist. Biggs is known for reviving appreciation for the classical pipe organs through his concerts and tours during the mid-20th century, as well as through his large discography of classical performances which still influence musicians today.
JM: I remember listening to E. Power Biggs plays Bach on the pipe organ, and I was playing along with pots and pans. I kept breaking wooden spoons. That’s the first tactile musical experience I remember.
Karla Bonoff is an American singer-songwriter, solo artist, and member of the band Bryndle. She is best known for writing such songs as Bonnie Raitt’s “Home” and Wynonna Judd’s “Tell Me Why.” Bonoff has released four solo albums between 1977 and 1988: two albums as a member of Bryndle, and her live album, Live, in 2007.
EC: My mom was really into Karla Bonoff, Karen Carpenter, and Fleetwood Mac, and my dad was really into classical music. In my teenage years, all I listened to was hip-hop and rap. Then I went through a deep emo phase.
Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?
EC: Rihanna, because I just love her, and I love her voice, and I think it’d be really cool.
JM: Nina Simone. I’d love to work with Phil Alvin.
EC: We both want to work with Phil.
JM: He really does a beautiful job of working with atmospheres, never in a way that feels forced or phony.
Are you still active in your other bands? What do you expect next for LOMA?
JM: I’d like to make another Shearwater record one day. I’d make another LOMA record starting tomorrow, if I could. It doesn’t feel exhaustive. The touring band includes Dan Duszynski playing drums, keys, and samples, Emily playing keyboards, and Matt Schuessler playing bass. It’s dreamy. They all listen and play so beautifully.
EC: I’m going to write a Cross Record record, but I don’t know what’s happening with it. But I am going to write it soon.
What are your interests and passions outside of music?
EC: Tea, and I’m a death doula. I help people transition from life to death which is a big world and passion of mine. I also like to draw, paint, and create stuff.
JM: Emily’s been drawing during our shows. We have an easel on stage, and she paints on it, which seems unbelievably courageous to me.
I’m trying to finish this book I’ve been working on for years and years, about strange South American birds called caracaras, which are sort of the equivalent of crows and ravens. They’re really smart and weird social animals. The book is about their travels and adventures.
Some of your videos are very kind of creative and interesting, do you conceive of those?
JM: Emily’s in charge of the visual aspect.
EC: I’ve had friends help with all of them, except for Dark Oscillations and White Glass. I kind of spearhead that aspect of the band.
JM: I like doing videos but it’s so stressful. I was just like,”Here, Emily. You do this.”
EC: And I really like to control everything in the visual realm, so it felt good to me.
What are your favorite books, film and music right now?
EC: I’m really into George Saunders right now. I just kind of discovered him.
JM: I just discovered a mini-documentary called Devil’s Teeth. It’s ten minutes long, about a guy who was a sea urchin diver off Farallon Islands in San Francisco. I’ve watched that probably 20 times.
For books, Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams. Music: the soundtrack for Phantom Thread was great.
EC: To be honest, I don’t listen to that much music. I don’t make time for it enough. I’ll put on a podcast instead, and I can do stuff while I’m listening to it.