Tu Fawning, a brand-new outfit pairing 31Knots' Joe Haege with solo artist Corrina Repp, hit the ground running. Well, jet setting really. After three months of songwriting and just two Portland shows, the duo sped to Europe for a two-week tour.
Oh, and did I mention Haege and Repp are a couple? They are. Which comes in handy sometimes—like when you're almost killed by out-of-control cars spinning down icy roads in the Swiss Alps. At least you're not dying alone. Makes for a nice dinner afterward, you know? But there are downsides.
"On tour, we can only get laid by each other," laughs Repp. "That's a big con."
Seriously though, Repp and Haege, together two years before starting the band, hope the music, rather than their relationship, will be the band's draw. Nonetheless, the couple's bedrock helps.
"We have the communication thing down somewhat, which seems to be essential for us when writing," Repp explains. After all, making music together seriously intensifies and often scrambles regular connections, so maybe doing it with your significant shortens that giant leap.
"Hell, I've been getting into relationship spats with Jay [Winebrenner, from 31Knots] for 11 years," explains Haege. "We just don't sleep together."
The band began to take shape after Repp released The Absent and the Distant. "I felt like I didn't have anything to say as a singer/songwriter," she says. "I wanted to focus on writing music, as opposed to just songs." Repp talked to Haege, who was on tour, and once he returned they went at it.
Judging by the few recordings available, the group is cultivating a very picturesque sound—of dusty, old, abandoned vaudeville stages; nighttime floors littered with burnt-out, broken opium pipes; walls smudged with cigar smoke, peeling paint; a pretty bird perched in the rafters in a time mysterious, past and surreal.
The two share the singing duties and switch around on piano, guitar, and drums, as well as using samples. Things are still fresh and subject to change, but the tour was like hitting a fast-forward button on their progress.
"It was the best thing that could've happened," Repp says, with Haege in agreement. But it wasn't easy. For both—and Haege especially—performing out of their comfort zones took some getting used to.
"Those first couple days it threw me for a big loop," Haege explains. "With 31Knots I've grown very comfortable with the fact that the variables are known beforehand."
After a few shows, however, the two settled in and embraced thedifferences. Without the pressure of being the bat-shit crazy frontman, as he is in 31Knots, Haege was able to relax a bit. Repp found solace in singing songs that didn't require "ripping out her heart."
Neither is abandoning their respective projects, though Repp says it may be a while before she returns to performing solo. 31Knots is still full on, but Haege puts Tu Fawning on equal footing.
Soon the duo will record an EP and add new members. Both Haege and Repp are excited for the possibilities before them. But for this show, and for perhaps the last time, Tu Fawning perform as a duo. Up there, side by side, it'll just be the two of 'em.