PLANES ON PAPER
“Planes on Paper don’t need much; just an acoustic guitar and two vocals harmonizing, holding each other close, is complete sonic comfort.” – KEXP
While at times "Edge Markings," the debut full length record from Yakima, WA duo Planes on Paper, blossoms into grandeur, Jen Borst and Navid Eliot imbue their art with a warm and ever-present intimacy. Indeed, from the first notes the record feels kindly and familiar. A work of grace and beauty crafted with specific intent, our protagonists “tried our best to make a record that we can all feel not alone to.”
Written mostly in the isolation of the rural pacific northwest, Edge Markings was recorded at Panoramic House in Stinson Beach, CA by engineer Scott McDowell (Feist, The California Honey Drops). The recording sessions featured appearances from their friends Faustine Hudson (Damien Jurado, The Maldives) tracking drums, Josiah Johnson (The Head & The Heart) providing moral support and grocery selection, and The Golden Gate String Quartet. Matty Gervais (Shallow Lenses, The Head & The Heart) visited via phone to offer fresh ears and production advice.
Borst and Eliot both grew up steeped in music; both, coincidentally cutting their melodic teeth with wind instruments. Gradually they moved into the contemporary world, and following his muse Eliot headed east from Seattle a half-decade ago. They met when Borst was the photographer assigned to shoot Eliot for a feature on the songwriting scene for the local paper. “Jen said jokingly, ‘I would sing harmony with you sometime,’” related Eliot, “and I told her, dead-serious, ‘I’m playing tonight, show up and we’ll figure out what songs we both know.’”
Fate is stubborn, and shortly thereafter they were recruited to sing harmony in a local band. The pair sang the occasional duet at gigs, and soon enough venues started asking about booking just the harmony singers. On a lark Borst and Eliot decided to cut a demo. The live-recorded demo took on a life of its own, so they cut a studio EP called The Ruins and the train picked up a head of stream. The single “Television” - a song that reflects on the sadness filling the great chasm between Americans of different political leanings - was featured on a few radio stations. Apparently the right people heard it, and the band was asked to perform at The Kennedy Center. It’s been quite some three years.
If one were given to speculation, if would be fair to theorize that this rush to the early glimmers of success might be due to both the meticulous care and lack of ego that go into the duo’s work. “We’re very conscious of the fact that the only things we are experts on is our own lives and feelings” says Eliot. “We love to write, and we really do labor over each song making sure it conveys exactly what we want, without ever claiming to know any great truths. Our goal with this recording and every other is that people hear it and experience a certain empathy with us, and they feel like we empathize with them. We’ve gotten through the darkest times in both our lives, comforted by soundtracks we still remember, and the best times of our lives have had music to accompany them as well. Music has been so profound in both our lives, it feels almost like an obligation to try to be that for someone else. “