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Local Music Spotlight: Full-sounding Heat Speak offers ‘Ellingson for Peace’

UPDATED: Tue., Aug. 31, 2021

Heat Speak’s Phil Pintor on violin, Caroline Bickford on cello and Tim Gales on mandocello.  (Cody Schroeder/Terrain 12)
Heat Speak’s Phil Pintor on violin, Caroline Bickford on cello and Tim Gales on mandocello. (Cody Schroeder/Terrain 12)
By Julien A. Luebbers For The Spokesman-Review

Heat Speak is set to release a new single, “Ellingson for Peace,” on Tuesday on all platforms and publish an accompanying music video to YouTube. The song takes Heat Speak’s full, genre-bending sound to an epiphanic peak. Their sound is so full as to verge on bursting, the drums, piano, bass and full strings accompaniment winding energetically through the verses.

The music video, shot and edited by Morgan Caldbeck of JL Tech, is similarly filled, only here with a biopic frame, a glimpse into the day of local artist Larry Ellingson interspersed with abstract visuals and clips of the band. The two forms – audio and visual – play off each other for an emotive and all-encompassing experience.

“The video takes some of the narrative components of the lyrics and sets the stage, and then takes the aesthetic and sort of warps it back to how the music is doing,” Heat Speak frontman Dario Ré said. “It’s basically an experiment in methodology.”

That’s exactly the result Ré wanted from the project, which was completed without interruption: “The concept of writing a song, recording it, arranging it, mixing it, mastering it, visualizing it, all in one swoop was kind of a creative idea I had of just seeing a project through when it’s really fresh and you’re just in it.”

It allowed him to pull the audio and visual closer together. “I think my one of my biggest influences from a songwriting standpoint is the visual arts in general,” Ré said. Visual art, in which he has a background, gives him a more open philosophy when it comes to songwriting. “It’s about ‘where does the piece want to go? And what is it asking?’ ”

The result is stunning, both in its coherence as a multimedia presentation and the power of the song itself to grip the listener. A huge part of that gripping-ness comes from the strings composed by bandmember Tim Gales.

“He scored that string part cover to cover, and that’s the first time we’ve done that,” Ré said. “He scored all three parts for the other players. And when we play this song live, we pull up sheet music, and the string players play an arrangement.”

While the written arrangement is new to Heat Speak’s music, the mixed influences of classical music and contemporary folk are not. “I’ve been writing songs my whole life and tinkering with different instruments,” Ré said. But just as his solo music career was beginning, he met Phil Pintor, the other founding member of Heat Speak.

“Phil’s and my collaboration kind of concretized a new aesthetic, which was my kind of folk, self-taught songwriter background paired with his classical training, string ear. And in some ways, I think that continues to define our sound.”

“Ellingson for Peace” is the latest instance of this aesthetic. In addition to the single and music video, Heat Speak is launching its album “To Love Wind” on all platforms Oct. 2. The album has been available on heatspeakmusic.com since last September for hard copy only purchase but is only now seeing digital distribution.

The physical-only release of “To Love Wind” came at the height of the pandemic, and that might seem like an odd choice. But as Ré explained, “Every time someone buys one, there’s a direct email exchange between me and them. And I pack it up, I throw in some stickers, I send it to their house, they get this tangible thing. There’s this interrelationship that’s happened.”

It’s not much by way of a social interaction, but it is definitely more one-on-one than the numbers and statistics board of a streaming service. It’s helped Ré, Gales, Pintor and other Heat Speak members (Michael Starry, Zack Zuniga, Caroline Bickford, Chris Kelsey and Andie Daisley) to build a community around their music as best as one can given the circumstances.

Check out “Ellingson for Peace,” and its accompanying music video on YouTube and across music streaming platforms. For more information, music and more, visit heatspeakmusic.com and follow @heatspeak on Instagram.

Julien A. Luebbers can be reached at julien.luebbers@gmail.com.

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