MIRANDA LEE RICHARDS – SO FAR SO GOOD
“Courtney Taylor from the Dandy Warhols calls my genre ‘Pixie Fairy Dust Chick Music,’” Miranda Lee Richards laughs, from her home in Los Angeles. “But I think another fitting description for it might be ‘Psychedelic Chamber Folk.’”
Richards grew up in San Francisco, the daughter of Ted and Teresa Richards, stars of the underground comics revolution. Her father created The 40 Year Old Hippie; her mother was one of the founding editors and contributors of Wimmin’s Comix in the 1970’s. “Growing up, I got the message that if you do what you love to do, money will follow, just not a lot of it.” It was a very Bohemian upbringing to put it lightly.
Richards played in school bands and sang in choir, but never considered music as a profession until her senior year of high school, when fate offered a unique hand. Her best friend, a few years her senior, began dating Kirk Hammett of Metallica, and Hammett taught Richards Mazzy Star songs on guitar. “As soon as I knew how to play, I started writing songs and immediately loved the melding of the two art forms, poetry and song. Eventually I got a piano to expand my musical repertoire.”
Richards recorded her first demo in Hammett’s basement studio. The then manager of the Brian Jonestown Massacre passed the recording along to singer Anton Newcombe, who asked Richards to sing with the group. Shortly thereafter, Ondi Timoner began filming the BJM for her seminal documentary DIG! (2004). In one scene, a hiker observed the all white-clad members of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and friends gathered on a mountain top location. “Excuse me,” he asked, “is this a cult or a photo shoot?” Miranda then candidly replied, “Honestly sir, I don’t know the answer to that question!”
Miranda had since moved down the coast to LA to further pursue a music career. “I played clubs and open mics while I did odd modeling jobs and made demos. A mutual friend introduced me to Rick Parker (producer/musician who went on to work with BRMC and Lord Huron among many others), and we’ve been working together ever since.” After recording a few sets of demos, she signed with Virgin, and began tracking her debut, The Herethereafter.
The Herethereafter (credits include Jon Brion and David Campbell) enjoyed critical acclaim, and a heavy film and TV licensing history and other composing jobs allowed her to continue playing music full time. Since it’s release, Miranda has collaborated in the studio or on stage with a diverse erray of artists such as Tricky, Tim Burgess (Charlatans), Neil Halstead (Mojave 3), Tyler Hilton, Harper Simon, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Tim Finn (Crowded House), Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Grant Lee Philips, Turin Brakes, The Black Angels, The Hounds Below (Von Bondies), Mark Gardener (Ride), Josh Kelly, DJ Morgan Page, The Warlocks, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Joel Gion and The Primary Colours, Nikka Costa, Susan Vega, The Chapin Sisters, Bridgette St. John, Tift Meritt, Victoria Williams, Lili Haydn, and various artists on the 2010 Lilith Fair tour, among many others. She joined The Jesus and Mary Chain for the West Coast leg of their 2007 tour, singing duets with Jim Reid on “Sometimes Always” and “Just like Honey.” In the fall of 2007, she toured the UK in support of a vinyl single ,“Life Boat” released on Sonic Cathedral, which went on the receive regular radio play on KCRW Los Angeles, and the BBC 6. In early 2008, she supported Tim Finn (Crowded House), and in late August she supported Neil Halstead (Mojave 3), both on solo acoustic tours. Her critically acclaimed full-length sophomore effort, Light of X, was released February 10, 2009 on Nettwerk Records. Two acoustic tours of Europe followed, as well as appearances on the Radcliff Mahoney (BBC 6), KCRW Morning Becomes Ecclectic, and KTLA Morning News shows. Then an independent single released July of 2012, “The Reach”, enjoyed some time in the spotlight, appearing on the television shows Burn Notice, Army Wives, Switched at Birth, and Beauty and the Beast.
Miranda has just completed what will be her definitive third studio album, Echoes of the Dreamtime, with long-time producer/husband Rick Parker (release date TBA). A song from the forthcoming album, “The Oberlin Gale”, won first place in the 2014 International Acoustic Music Awards. Most recently, a song she wrote for the newly released groundbreaking immersive feature film, The Hornet’s Nest, called “Hero of the Silent War”, will be available October 2014 on iTunes (Wynnona Judd, Kid Rock, and Stevie Nicks are also contributing songwriters to the soundtrack). Finally, Miranda has put the finishing touches on a side pet project by the name of Black Fawn (release date also TBA).
Her albums fairly shimmer with folk, country, psychedelic, and even classical influences. Richards and Parker always assemble a top-notch group of players, but also play many of the instruments themselves. On Echoes of the Dreamtime, Rick Parker produced, engineered, mixed the record, and played acoustic and electric guitar, organ, piano, and mandolin; Richards composed the material including string arrangements, and played acoustic and electric guitar, piano, organ, recorder, Mellotron, and glockenspiel.
As a songwriter, Richards has an uncanny knack of finding the diamonds in the dust of every day life and the relationships within. She’s able to look at an average moment and describe it in a way that transforms it into something much more evocative and powerful. Richards' music balances her signature beautiful, close to the heart vocals, with music that has the wide-open, spacious feel of a desert sky or an empty church. Call it 'Dream Folk' or Richards’ self coined term ‘Psychedelic Chamber Folk’ if you like, her music is full of love and loss, desolation, salvation, and transformation.
Even the darkest shadow is cast by the light.