After over two decades of playing in “hundreds of bands,” including Midnight Masses, The Rogers Sisters, Dead Sands and Gerty, New York-based Miyuki Furtado founded Divining Rod as an outlet for quietly writing and recording music while caring for his newborn daughter. “I would write songs just by myself in the living room, quietly hushed over a little microphone,” Furtado recalls. The music itself was initially inspired by the British folk rock of the ‘60s and ‘70s, which Furtado was turned onto while touring the UK with The Rogers Sisters. “My bandmates turned me onto a lot of Sandy Denny stuff, and that’s when I heard it for the first time and became obsessed with it. So a lot of Fairport Convention and Fotheringay and Bert Jansch and Pentangle, I started following the breadcrumbs, if you will, and the music really struck me, and that’s what I wanted to play.”
Divining Rod’s invitation to record a BSides session at Mobtown Studios was an opportunity for Furtado to reconnect with his roots in Baltimore, where he lived for ten years and had many formative musical experiences. It also gave Furtado a chance to bring some old friends from Baltimore into the fold to contribute to Divining Rods, which has featured a rotating cast of collaborators. “Shirlé Hale-Koslowski (Free Electric State, Small Apartments, Gerty) was on bass and vocals. Warren Boes (All Mighty Senators, Boister) played guitar, and Rob Girardi (engineered Beach House, Double Dagger, & Celebration albums) played guitar as well. And all three of them are people that I’ve either played music with, been in bands with, or just have been inspired by for years and years,” Furtado says. And the session turned out to produce just the kind of musical alchemy that he wanted from this particular combination of musicians. “Rob is way more emotional with the way he plays and it’s very haphazard, which I love, and Warren is so masterfully controlled and methodically thought out, but also extremely tasteful. And the way they play together came out exactly as I hoped for.”
Somewhat by accident, the two songs Divining Rod recorded for their BSides session ended up being chronological bookends for the project’s lifespan so far. “’On The Run’ was the very first song I wrote for this project; that was the very first thing I came up with. And ‘Love Come Tumbling’ was the latest song I came up with for this project,” Furtado says. The former was one of his first concentrated efforts at writing on guitar, aided by an alternate tuning inspired by Bert Jansch. “Up to that point I really hadn’t had that much experience as a guitar player, I was mainly a drummer and a bass player for different bands for ages. So guitar is still relatively new. So it was that tuning that enabled me to express myself, express what I wanted to do.”
Furtado enjoyed the experience of working with Mobtown Studios co-owner and producer Mat Leffler-Schulman, and particularly the fast and loose process of a BSides session. “The whole point of the series is something that I really admire. It’s almost like a challenge to record something almost live if you could, with minimal overdubs, and that’s something that really appealed to me. And to do it in such an amazing studio … Mat’s really an amazing person to work with, everyone that’s been involved in the project really helped myself and my friends feel extremely comfortable,” he says. “I did a scratch acoustic part, I was flubbing all over it, it was just gonna be a marker. But we ran out of time, and that was it, that’s great, it’s something I can live with. Who knows what’s gonna come of it? Maybe something I hadn’t heard before.”
Divining Rod is:
Miyuki Furtado – vocals, guitar, drums
Shirlé Hale-Koslowski – bass, guitar
Warren Boes – guitar
Rob Girardi – guitar
Credits: Produced by Mat Leffler-Schulman, Emily Leffler-Schulman and Nick Hughes. Music Produced by Mat Leffler-Schulman. Mixed by Paul Mercer. Engineered by Sean Mercer. Filmed by Justin Foreman and Nick Hughes of Wolf Stream Media. Edited by Nick Hughes. Photography by Hennpict. Interview by Aaron Henkin. Written by Al Shipley. Thanks to Miyuki Furtado.
The BSide Sessions is a new music series (under the direction of Mobtown Laboratories™) that combines our love of vinyl-era single flipsides with a desire to hear great bands premiere new material in our studio. Every band has their own story to tell. Our studio is like a second home for us and, when making a BSide, we welcome a band into our family. They spend a day shacked up with Mat and our crew and, like savvy minstrel-spelunkers, we explore the far and intimate corners of the artists, their tales and their music. What is revealed is a distinctly intimate story narrated by song and sometimes-rowdy, sometimes-weary aftershow convo. We release all this in one 10-minute video and two songs. We hope you discover a band you love, or hear some exciting new material from a band you already love.