Video Feature & Web-Exclusive Interview




Video: “Angel Falls”





Corner House’s debut album How Beautiful It’s Been will be released on May 27. If you’re a fan of Nickel Creek or Crooked Still, you will catch a glimpse of this powerful collective of talented musicians. Although Ethan Hawkins is the sole lyric writer in this Boston-formed quartet, the subject matter of the group’s songs is a reflection of their collective experience. “What this band really does well is challenge me to be a mirror rather than write songs based on my own life,” he explains. “A lot of the lyrics that I wrote were drawn from conversations that I’ve had with the rest of the band, which I think parallels our experiences with each other musically.”

Corner House (L-R): Casey Murray, Ethan Hawkins, Ethan Setiawan, Louise Bichan

Their new single “Angel Falls,” which Hawkins wrote after a long discussion with cellist Casey Murray about her experiences with religion as a queer person. “I am human / I have choices  / To love who I want to love / I have a right,” he sings on “Angel Falls,” the second single released from their upcoming full-length debut. This offering features five lyrical songs and four instrumentals, which serve as soundscape meditations between each lyrical offering.

Corner House takes their name from the place where the four young band members found a musical family in one another in a shared home while students at Berklee College of Music. With the new album, the band—aforementioned songwriter and guitarist Ethan Hawkins and cellist Casey Murray, along with Scottish fiddle player Louise Bichan and bluegrass mandolinist Ethan Setiawan—project a singular sound that incorporates old time, Scottish, progressive bluegrass and folk music, with the help of their mentor and the album’s producer, Scottish harp virtuoso Maeve Gilchrist. They’re joined on this track by Viktor Krauss on bass and moog, and Jordan Perlson on drums.

Corner House is a rare collective of musicians whose strength lies in their lyrics and the emotions evoked by their music—they have the power to effect change. Their brilliant use of instruments and singer-songwriter lyrics beg the listener to dig deeper to search for answers. They paint across a wide palette while honoring music from the past.



with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David
What did you learn about yourselves after recording your debut album How Beautiful It’s Been?
Ethan Hawkins (EH): This record is probably some of the hardest material we’ve written, and touches on some very emotionally difficult subjects. The record has taught us how to be more vulnerable with ourselves and our audience.
Louise Bichan (LB): I’m a perfectionist. It sucks.
Ethan Setiawan (ES): The process of making this record really shaped our sound, and some credit in this area is due to our producer Maeve and engineer Eli—both very inspiring, creative people to be around. Being privy to their creative processes helped us be the best we could be, and informed our musicality as a band.

Which song squeaked by and made it onto this first collection?
EH: I’m especially glad that we decided to put “Angel Falls” on this record cause it was the first time that Casey and I decided to collaborate as writers.
ES: One of my favorites is “Two Rights Make a Chicken.” This one really grew and blossomed during the recording and the overdub process, and turned out in a really cool place.

“Angel Falls” is “based on a conversation between members reflecting on the challenges of growing up queer in an intolerant and jaded social climate.” What’s the most difficult part about writing from personal experience?
EH: It’s hard not to lie to yourself, but in the end the quality of the words dictate how true you’re being to yourself. This experience is really exasperated when you sit and share emotions with someone else. You have to be able to be extremely honest with them. It’s nice that Casey and I found that connection.

Corner House is a rare collective of musicians whose strength lies in their lyrics and the emotions evoked by their music—they have the power to effect change. Their brilliant use of instruments and lyrics beg the listener to dig deeper to search for answers. They paint across a wide palette while honoring music from the past.

Who originally inspired you to write songs?
EH: My buddy Nathan Moore got me into songwriting.
ES: I’m not a songwriter per say, I don’t write lyrics. As a writer of music and melodies, people like Julian Lage who speak through their instrument and are so emotionally expressive on it are hugely inspirational.

What songwriting tip would you like to offer?
EH: Just be honest with yourself. Try to find the truth in everything and know that that is an ever fluctuating entity. Read poetry, study philosophy.
ES: To get to the good stuff, you often have to get through a lot of the other stuff. Simply making a practice out of writing, and doing it regularly was huge for me.

How did the idea of “Angel Falls” come to you?
EH: Angel Falls is an allusion to the fall of Lucifer. Since the idea of being queer and sexually expressive is viewed as a sin in the evangelical “born again” culture from which we err, it would seem I could likely compare myself to the angel of death in the eyes of my family. I lost my religion because it hurts people and I don’t want to do that. Some people resolve to amend their belief in the Bible to accept queer folks; others just quietly bear it till the end times; another faction fights it. I tend to think that if you’re going to believe in something, you should probably do it wholeheartedly.

What instruments/equipment can you not live without?
LB: Definitely my fiddle. Tulloch Violins, Orkney, Scotland. (Colin Tulloch)
ES: I’m lucky to have a couple beautiful inspiring instruments. We as a band love Audio-Technica PRO35 mics for on stage.

Which musicians inspired you to become a musician?
LB: Orkney fiddler (and my fiddle teacher) Douglas Montgomery, Brittany Haas
EH: Bruce Molsky, Brittany Haas, Natalie Haas
ES: Jacob Jolliff, Darol Anger

What are some of your favorite albums of all time?
Some Strange Country (2010) — Crooked Still (actually, all of their albums)
Bon Iver (2011) — Bon Iver
So Long, See You Tomorrow (2014) — Bombay Bicycle Club
Who’s Feeling Young Now? (2012)— Punch Brothers
Sylvan Esso (2014) — Sylvan Esso

Tell us a “pinch me” moment when you thought “Wow, this is really happening to me!”
LB: When Covid came along and we lost all our gigs at once, that was a “wow, is this really happening?!” moment.
ES: We postponed the recording of this record from April 2020 to March 2021, and it’s now coming out May 2022. When we finally got into the studio, it was a great moment of returning to this music that was to be our great thesis statement. In a lot of ways, that extra year was really important for the band—we worked hard on the music and in the meantime cut an EP. It made the actual recording dates, with our great producer and engineer, that much sweeter.

What is the best advice someone has given you?
LB: Allow yourself to suck and be OK with it, when you’re learning something new. — Joe K. Walsh
ES: “Harmony, melody, speed, rhythm, time and phrases all have equal position in the results that come from the placing and spacing of ideas” — Ornette Coleman

Best advice you’d like to give upcoming musicians?
Similar to writing, regularity is key. Make a practice of your art, and I don’t mean a practice schedule.

In this unique socio-political climate, how do you remain hopeful?
LB: Keep playing music, try to inspire people to do good in the world.

Where can new fans get more info and stay updated?

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