When creating a fine floral arrangement, a good florist knows how many red roses will look good with a certain amount of purple lilacs or white lilies. They’ll know when to include a sunflower rather than a pansy, or when the perfect combination is red and white or red and yellow.
When creating a fine floral arrangement, a good florist knows how many red roses will look good with a certain amount of purple lilacs or white lilies. They’ll know when to include a sunflower rather than a pansy, or when the perfect combination is red and white or red and yellow. When the right elements are in place, they can see that the arrangement is done, finished and presentable to the public.
The same thing can be said about crafting songs. A songwriter needs to know when to add sonic flourishes and when to leave out an aural element, or when to have two verses back to back, or have the chorus only appear at the beginning and end of the song.
Gena Gastaldi, leader of the local indie-folk band Day of Lions, crafts both songs and floral arrangements. As a member of Day of Lions, Gastaldi has created endearing, personal songs since 2003, when she moved here from Alaska, which was “too cold and dark.” She leads the band with her strummed acoustic guitar and intimate, unaffected singing, while her boyfriend, the bearded Charlie Hester, plays drums. Gastaldi’s dear friend Emily Dalsfoist rocks the cello, violin and long dreadlocks, while Dalsfoist’s brother, Tyler Tornfelt, handles the upright bass duties.
Gastaldi’s interest in music began far before her move to Portland. She explains, “I started playing guitar when I was 10 or 11 because my parents would make me go to church, and I thought it was boring so I would sit in the hallway with some other people…. They taught me how to play a couple chords.”
Among their influences, Day of Lions count Maria Taylor, Bread, Family, Vashti Bunyan, Elizabeth Elmore, Karate, The Smiths, The Cure, Pedro the Lion, Owen, American Football and Azure Ray. While their songs reflect these influences to some degree, they tend toward the intimate, Elliott Smith-esque confessional stories, which Gastaldi admits can be hard to sing in front of her parents. Her songs are the soundtrack to hushed tea sipping or wine drinking–not necessarily drunken confessions, just naked honesty and forthright sincerity.
As an artistic person, Gastaldi finds creative outlets through her work in Day of Lions and playing guitar and violin in the band Black Dresses, as well as a recent guest appearance on an album for her Yukon Records labelmates, The Ghost Kings. She finds creative inspiration from “living in Portland and everything that comes along with it. Usually there is wine involved. I don’t have a TV or really anything to entertain me at home, so music is something that passes the time. Music and my cat, Virginia.”
How did Day of Lions go from being a solo project to a full band?
It started off as a band, then turned into me, now it’s a band again. It’s just constantly changing depending on who’s in town, who wants to play, if I have time for practicing…
Have you been performing in public for as long as you’ve been recording music, or which came first?
I started playing shows with Emily Dalsfoist…with our band See Danny in high school. I bought this really cheap recording program–I think it was $40–and a mic and started recording, mostly because I lived in Alaska and it was too cold to be outside.
Who is playing on your iPod/CD player/turntable lately?
Right now, Of Montreal.
You’ve done split albums with Bryan Free and Flashing Red Lights. What do you like about doing split projects versus DOL-only releases?
I love splits. It’s an excuse to hang out with your friends, get drunk and play music. What is better than that?
What local artists/bands are your current favorites?
Horsefeathers, Builders and Butchers, Syran, Viva Voce, The Decemberists, Laura Gibson…
Are you involved in any other creative projects, i.e., theater, film, puppet shows, etc.?
No, theater is scary because I hate talking in front of people. I take lots of photos.
You can find Day of Lions albums online at yukonrecords.com and cdbaby.com and see them on Friday, March 2 at Mississippi Studios.