Out of the darkness, The Spider Ferns return to music with their new single, “Who Stands Alone.” Yes, releasing a song in the middle of a pandemic was risky, they acknowledge that. Unfortunately, the tour meant to kick off their triumphant return was canceled from the road due to the COVID-19 virus. Still, artists know that when creativity takes you, it doesn’t matter what is happening in the world around you. The Spider Ferns had something to share so they did.
Kelly and Alton Fleek are artists who started creating music together because it felt good. Their debut album, Soon Enough, was released during the rise in the bell curve of their creative expression. They speak of it fondly, but you get the sense that they are vastly different artists now.
Clearly, since they began creating music in 2014, their sound has been evolving. A constant battle between sounding artistic and technical, raw and polished, dancy and sorrowful, the two finally feel that they’re now stylistically where they’d like to be.
From their converted barn in the foothills of the cascades, Kelly and Alton create as naturally as you or I would cook meals. In fact, when I asked if they had a set schedule for working on their music they laughed, reporting that they “horrendously fail at following strick creative timelines.”
The Spider Ferns
Their art is not just a musical project, their life is created around their art. In their barn and recording studio, they also paint and sew. Kelly creates the art for their singles and album covers often spontaneously. The cover art for “Who Stands Alone” is a picture taken on the tour bus in the dark. Neither of them could see what they looked like.
During shows, two large sentinels grace the stage with The Spider Ferns. These textile creatures, sewn by Kelly, help immerse listeners in the experience. All of their music is transformative, transportive, and transcendent. “We want you to be somewhere else” —There are layers of their art to experience.
While the sound has found its home in the dancy, dark, and ethereal, their messages are meant to let go of sorrow. “Our culture is bad at dealing with grief,” Kelly and Alton agree. In their upcoming album, Blossom, they tell many stories of death and rebirth. “Who Stands Alone” is a story of heartbreak, a story of falling apart, and finally a story of finding compassion, love, and acceptance.
Can you tell readers about your new single “Who Stands Alone”?
“The Spider Ferns have been sitting on an album for a couple of years while I took care of my mother, continued to tour, record, play myriad festivals, etc. ‘Who Stands Alone’ is our first single in over two years. It’s the sorrow-howl of going deep into my mother’s health crisis, and the trauma it caused my family, but ultimately how we rallied into a stronger version of ourselves as my mother left the mortal coil.
In the chorus, I cry—’Who will rearrange all these hearts in a row? Will you be there when it’s over?’ Ultimately, the grief of losing a loved one is deeply individual and truly lonely. ‘Who Stands Alone’ is the story of raging in that loneliness, finding compassion, solace, love…accepting ourselves and our family in a time of deep sadness.”
(Photo by John Theroux)
What motivates The Spider Ferns to create music?
Kelly- “I become fascinated with something and take it as far as I can.”
Alton – “For me, music and art is a form of active meditation, it’s something you never complete.”
Well, how do you know when something you’ve created is ready to share?
“That’s a great question and one that’s hard to answer. For us, it’s often just when we feel we’ve communicated a story fully. Sometimes we have to create artificial deadlines to create a stopping point or we’d work on a song endlessly. Even after we release new work, we’re often tempted to go back and make small changes, but that’s why remixes are great”.
How has cannabis had an impact on The Spider Ferns?
“Even in our early stages, the reviews written on our sound mentioned cannabis. They said that we made the type of music that made you “want to lay back in a bubble bath with a joint and contemplate the universe.” We’re advocates for the plant and its uses for sure. Both of us have family members that work in the industry as well. We believe in the healing properties of cannabis both for physical issues and mental health. We both use CBD for pain and anxiety regularly. It really helps to keep emotions in check when anxiety hits. Cannabis has been a great alternative for both of us creatively and for mental and physical health in myriad ways.
We spend a lot of time outside in nature —we live on 6 acres at the base of a mountain. We chill out together frequently, discussing music, whatever visual art projects we have going, and basking in the beauty of the foothills. I guess you can say sitting down outside, sharing a toke and yapping about life is how we have a band meeting.
What’s the takeaway, the re-tweetable social media snippet, the infographic worthy idea? Sooner or later we all experience loss and the resulting grief. The Spider Ferns were immersed in it for two years. “Who Stands Alone” is that story and a reminder that when you come out the other side, do what feels good.
For The Spider Ferns, self-described social hermits that they are, they returned to their studio and created a song to release their grief that you can dance to. Maybe releasing a song in the middle of a pandemic wasn’t exactly planned. Maybe it was the perfect time to create something transformative for us all.
The Spider Ferns – “Who Stands Alone”
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