Adding an element of warmth to the dawn's cold breaking is Portland's Morning Ritual, who carry over the slow winter rising into the spring season. Comprised of the vocal team of twin sisters, Katelyn and Laurie Shook, with piano and synth shaping and sound construction by Ben Darwish, William Marsh's chilled and skilled guitar, and Russ Kleiner's mellow percussive blend; the Northwest group's contributions culminate in the snowflake watching premiere of, “So Cold”, off an upcoming EP. In the same way that Katelyn and Laurie harmonize their voices like wool threads wound tightly together, Ben and William's piano keys generate the steady glow of gas-powered fireplace furnace.
Producing a ski lodge cabin comfort ready for all ice caps and chilly hemispheres, “So Cold” exhibits the outer chill of the exterior and the burning heat of the interior for both early mornings and late evenings. The Shook Twins wrap their powers of fire and ice in verses tied to the chorus' meter staggered like the skipping heartbeats of, “girl you feel so, cold I, don't know, why I, left you, should have, kept you.” Snowed-in days of desire and remembered longings are musically conveyed with the calm stillness, and relaxed steady ascendance of steam from a song designed like a hot spring surrounded by beds of snowy banks. The key to Morning Ritual's ritualistic craft is in the hushed attentiveness, where Katelyn, Laurie, Ben, William and associates count quick measures of delivery cues that hit every mark like a refined technique of routine—while sounding all the while softly waking and effortless.
Morning Ritual's producer Ben Darwish talked with us about forming the group, working with the Shook Twins, and dropping hints of their upcoming EP.
Tell us how Morning Ritual came about?
I met the Shook Twins at a Christmas party. There was a piano there so I accompanied them on a wild rendition of “Stormy Weather”. Then we found out we lived a few blocks away from each other so we started jamming every week.
How do you all describe your creative recording song-writing dynamic?
I write all the music and lyrics then bring it to the band to give it some life. Drummer Russ Kleiner and guitarist William Seiji Marsh are a big part of our sound. Instead of layering and editing every track in recording, we perform basic tracks as a band. Glitch vocals are sung that way in the studio and live.
What is the current state of the Portland scene?
Tons of great bands and tons of great venues. We got to work with an incredible engineer on this recording, Jeremy Sherrer, and recorded vocals at Modest Mouse's personal studio. So, yeah, it doesn't suck.
How does the Northwest impact and affect the music?
Time moves slower. There is a sense of city life but it's intertwined with epic outdoor scenery. I think that lends itself to more stylistic variety in our sound.
Give us the lowdown on your upcoming releases?
“So Cold” will be part of an EP. We plan to release a couple more singles first. We've also produced a music video for it that will be premiered soon!
Listen to more from Morning Ritual via Bandcamp.