Still Corners on “The Last Exit”



Still Corners on “The Last Exit”

The Road Less Travelled

Nov 29, 2021 By Andy Von Pip Photography by Bernard Bur Issue #68 – Japanese Breakfast and HAIM (The Protest Issue)
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Still Corners—the musical project of singer Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist/producer Greg Hughes—have been crafting sprawling Lynchian dream-pop noir together for over a decade since a chance meeting on a train. Their fifth and latest album, The Last Exit, was inadvertently given a helping hand by the current global pandemic.

“We felt we wanted to get the album out fairly quickly. In fact it was mastered in February [of 2020] and then COVID happened,” Murray explains. “We took another look and decided it wasn’t quite right and began another flurry of activity. Some songs got cut and others were added. I think the end result is better than the one we would have released without the pandemic.”

The duo says that COVID-19 suspending touring has allowed for more studio time for many musicians. “To be honest I think most bands will have at least two pandemic albums written before the pandemic’s over!” Hughes says.

The Last Exit is imbued with a sense of adventure and doomed grandeur. The overarching theme is the mythology of the open road. Hughes explains that touring and travel inspires the band. “When you tour and leave the city, certainly in the U.S., you’re really ‘out there’ and it’s amazing how little there is out there,” he says. “A lot of your time is spent looking at nothing. But amongst that vastness, there’s an air of mystery, which we wanted to convey on the album. In terms of the sound, we wanted to communicate that space and add western desert noir textures.”

“There’s that folklore element too,” adds Murray, “the escapism of the open road, the mystery of unknown. In today’s world with so much information, where so much is known we believe there is still mystery out there, the intrigue of what’s around the corner, of what’s beyond.”

Another Still Corners song about the open road, “The Trip” from 2013’s Strange Pleasures, has taken on a life of its own, racking up a staggering 61 million streams on just one unofficial YouTube post alone (not to mention more streams elsewhere) and inspiring heartfelt comments about how the song helped listeners through tough times. (For example: “Mom just passed away three hours ago. Listened to this song over and over while taking a Greyhound bus 23 hours hoping I would make it. With god’s blessing I just made it, she held on and I was able to tell her I loved her with all my heart and soul. This song will remain with me forever.”)

“It’s amazing,” enthuses Murray, “and it all happened organically, people have obviously connected with that song in such a strong way. We do check-in there occasionally and it is quite incredible, it’s wonderful that we’ve been able to do that.”

While they were once signed to Sub Pop, these days Still Corners self-release their music on their own Wrecking Light label, and also manage themselves.

“I don’t think about commercial success as such, as long as I have enough money to get through to the next month and carry on doing this,” Hughes says.

“It was quite daunting at first but now it’s incredibly liberating,” Murray adds. “We aren’t presenting an album to a label and saying, ‘What do you think, is it going to work?’ We are just putting out music we genuinely love and want people to hear.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 68of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.stillcorners.com

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