Peach & Quiet is a partnership forged in music and life by singer/songwriters Heather Read and Jonny Miller, based in a lushly forested area on the BC coast, Pender Island. It was only 2019 that the pair found each other, and after sharing an initial two songs that summer, they have just released their debut full-length album, Just Beyond The Shine.
Although recorded during the depths of the pandemic shutdown, the nine-track collection is chock-full of love songs that the couple mostly wrote to each other with the intention of offering listeners a positive ray of hope. That message is accentuated by jangly, Byrds-ian guitars and vocal harmonies in the style of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, all tied together by Canadian roots music scene fixture Steve Dawson who mixed the album at his Nashville studio.
Prior to meeting, both Read and Miller had made their marks in the BC folk music scene, but once playing music together they immediately felt a special creative chemistry. Peach & Quiet’s Just Beyond The Shine is available now on digital platforms and at peachandquietmusic.com.
Your personal and creative relationships seem to have blossomed at the same time over the past two years. Could you provide a bit of the backstory?
Heather: We met in early 2019 when a mutual friend invited us over to jam. Jonny had expressed curiosity about me after seeing a video by my band Clancy's Front Porch. I had heard about him, mostly his activism because I am also an activist, and when I heard his songs I was intrigued by how beautiful and sad they were. One of my favourite songwriters is Leonard Cohen. Within two hours we knew we wanted to be friends, and within the first two songs we sang together, we knew we had a special musical connection. By the next weekend, we knew we wanted to spend our lives together. So far so good!
Jonny: I would say one thing leads to the other; it's because of our blossoming personal relationship that our musical relationship has also been so fertile.
Heather: I see my own creative blossoming happening around my songwriting in particular. When I met Jonny I was very shy about sharing my songs—I was shaking the night I met him while performing one! But over time, I have been encouraged to write and perform them. One of the songs on the album, Shoreline, is mine alone. I have really enjoyed watching that song evolve and grow. To record it with Steve Dawson and his Henhouse crew was a high point.
What makes Just Beyond The Shine a progression from the first songs you released in 2019?
Heather: It’s been a huge progression. Those two songs, For My Love and Will You, were both Jonny's, and they ended up being remixed and remastered for inclusion on the album. We wanted to include them because they were an exquisite experience. Adam Dobres worked with us on them and there is an intimacy in the studio with him. What he captured was very pure.
Jonny: The other seven songs were done remotely with Steve Dawson and the fantastic Henhouse crew, as Heather mentioned. It was an entirely different but equally amazing experience. We co-wrote some of the songs, which was a new experience for both of us. One song is Heather's, which finally sees the light of day, and others are a mix of old and new ones from me. They all really evolved through the recording process with Steve. It was a joyful ride.
What were the biggest challenges making a record during lockdown?
Jonny: What wasn’t challenging! It was definitely hard not being able to work in a studio with a living, breathing engineer, but just not being able to interact with other people through playing shows or simply jamming with friends really made it different from any other recording experience I’ve had.
How have you adapted to engaging with your audience over the past few months?
Heather: We have spent more time on social media in the last 10 months than we have in the last 10 years. It forced us to learn how to use a number of computer programs, leading us to essentially launch our own label to release the album. It has definitely been a lot of work.
Jonny: We are actively performing live-streaming gigs, and they are an utter pain in the ass, to be honest. The amount of technical knowledge required, and the cost of gear is frustrating. But we have learned a lot and had some successes. We have even, if I admit it, had a little fun.
Heather: It is harder than ever to make a living as an indie musician, or even pay for our investment, but we don't do it for that. We made this album because it is what we love to do.
What's your mindset looking ahead to the prospect of playing live again?
Jonny: We would love nothing more than to play live shows this summer, but we are doubtful that it will unfold that way. For the foreseeable future we will be streaming gigs from our home music room. That being said, we are booked for a festival in B.C. later in the summer, so we have our fingers crossed. And once things open up, we would love to tour BC and Alberta and plan a UK and European tour.