Night Palace’s Avery Draut opens up about her band’s undeniably dreamy debut album ‘Diving Rings’, an enchanting record of searching, self-discovery, and wide-eyed wonder that seduces the ears and stirs the heart.
Stream: “Stranger Powers” – Night Palace
Sometimes I was sure that I wanted to make a pop gem, sometimes a cosmic folk record, and sometimes I’d want to throw out everything except seventeen layers of vocals.
Entering the world of Night Palace’s debut album is like stepping through the wardrobe and out into Narnia, or waking up in the technicolor Land of Oz: There’s something refreshingly magical and otherworldly about this music that brings out the dreamer in all of us. An enchanting record of searching, self-discovery, and wide-eyed wonder, the chromatic Diving Rings seduces the ears and stirs the heart. It’s a transportive collection dressed to the nines in majestic sounds and alluring songwriting that sweep the soul, inviting us to join in the artist’s intimate, transformative journey.
You’re resting on your laurels
while you’re painting your toes
Fully clad in florals and a sapphire glow
She is beauty, she is grace
Wasting time making lists
in slips of see-through lace
Figs ripening in the moonlight
Dreams you’ll forget in the morning light
And you are hunting for stranger powers
In less familiar hours
Released April 1 via Park the Van Records, Diving Rings is the absorptive, enthralling debut album from Athens, Georgia and NYC-based Night Palace. Led by singer and songwriter Avery Leigh Draut together with fellow multi-instrumentalists Zack Milster, William Kissane, and Dillon McCabe, Night Palace debuted just last September with a truly dazzling musical palette that bridges the pop, folk, alternative, indie rock, new wave, and psychedelic landscapes. Elegant orchestral flourishes, catchy melodies, and spellbindingly seductive singing propel this singular artistry forward through their debut’s eleven ethereal, yet deeply grounded and human songs. At once mystifying and accessible, Diving Rings is an intoxicating experience through and through: One that offers as much discovery for its listeners as it did for its principal architect.
“Diving Rings is a time capsule, a capture of so much that I grew up with and so much I’m just now learning about,” Night Palace’s Avery Draut tells Atwood Magazine. “I grew up singing, but for so long I didn’t know I’d end up writing my own songs; I was always afraid of writing music. I felt really comfortable singing other peoples’ music, and I did that with most of my time. After singing a lot of opera for five years in school, there was a moment of some space and quiet in my life, and I started hearing little melodies and pieces of new songs of my own. The songs on Diving Rings are some of those first songs I ever wrote, having now blossomed into a garden together. I wrote the record on the Lowrey Magic Genie Electric organ in my living room in Athens, Georgia, and arranged it for my friends to play. The record lives in many people I love and have loved; a lot of it is set in an ocean scene from my childhood, where my grandma taught me to swim and so much about being a person in community with other people.”
“My vision for the record definitely shifted over the process of creating it; I lived with it for so long while writing and recording it that my tastes were changing faster than was possible to keep up with. Sometimes I was sure that I wanted to make a pop gem, sometimes a cosmic folk record, and sometimes I’d want to throw out everything except seventeen layers of vocals. But that tendency I have to flit from one taste to another in some ways also made me consider so much about songwriting and what I was attracted to in songs that I’ve loved since I was a kid. I feel like I’m just beginning to wade through those discoveries.”
All songs, lyrics (with the exception of “Silken Ilk,” which is a co-write with Andrea Krakovsky), and chamber orchestra arrangements were written exclusively by Draut, making Diving Rings a true testament to her artistic identity, her creativity, and her drive. “I am really drawn to dynamic music, and I hope that this record reflects that love,” she says. “I also embrace a variety of genres and instrumentation as influences, and I feel like they are all reverberating around on the album together. So much of my life has been my voice – it felt like there was never a question that it would be central to the record.”
This record captures my voice in what feels like its truest form at the time that I wrote these songs.
As for the title? “Diving Rings refers to the pool rings my grandma would toss for me when I was a kid learning to swim. So much of the record is echoes of her. “Nightshade” is about her; “Titania” is her. When it came time to name the record, my best friend told me they really thought that the album title was buried somewhere in the lyrics, and there it was in the very first song: “and your eyes were bright like the diving rings my grandmother threw into the pool when I was a child.”
I can’t forget you, I don’t try
To undo the latch of a hook and eye
I know I said I didn’t want you to stay the night
But it doesn’t really matter because
everything you do is golden
I can’t forget you, I don’t try
Can’t unhear the voice of a Lorelei
I dive into the wake, mystified
And nothing ever shatters
Because it’s just my time, and I’ve got plenty
Your eyes were bright like the diving rings
My grandmother threw into the pool
When I was a child
I can’t forget you, I don’t try
Can’t unhear the voice of a Lorelei
I dive into the wake, mystified
Two splintered halves of a Gemini
Draut’s vivid, visceral vocal performances are the true beating heart of this album (and indeed Night Palace’s entire artistry), yet it’s the record’s vast nature – one of multifaceted styles and a great smorgasbord of organic acoustic and electronic instrumentation – that makes Diving Rings feel like the musical manifestation of a sweet and endless daydream. The album starts strong, setting its first spell through opener (and the band’s debut single) “Into the Wake, Mystified,” a graceful and dramatic outpouring of human connection and intimacy that surges forward with charged beats, effected guitars, and a richly sun-soaked orchestral array. The duality between Draut’s soft, gentle voice and the energetic, emotional release in her surrounding instruments makes this intro that much more compelling, and is perhaps one of the reasons the song continues to mean so much to her to this day.
“I still resonate strongly with the first single we put out from the record, ‘Into the Wake, Mystified,’ Draut explains. “Though we had been playing the song for years, I changed all the lyrics to this song the night we recorded it in the studio. Something about the vulnerability of a nighttime recording session, and feeling my dreams and work finally culminating into a recording, allowed me to finally bring out “Wake’s” tender essence. I found out the song was about the thread that connects us to people we love, even when our seasons are no longer changing in tandem with them. I remember taking a rough mix out to the middle of the empty parking lot and listening in my headphones, grinning from the euphoria of it finally feeling right.”
Again, this is just Diving Rings’ introduction: There’s even more to love as the album get underway, with songs like the thrilling, freeing “Stranger Powers” and the smile-inducing, radiant “Enjoy the Moon!” proving as intoxicating and immersive as they are instantly memorable. Further in, the gorgeous release and smoldering saxophones on “Jessica Mystic” make for an absolutely irresistible listen. The gentleness of “Fig Dream” once again encapsulates that dreams-come-to-life sensation, while showcasing Night Palace’s creativity and outside-the-box thinking as an orchestral arranger; the song is not only unafraid of silences, but it also builds up and out through unique and interesting vocal and instrumental layerings.
Fruit curtain takes the cake
You know it’s hard for me to stay awake
when the room is full of men in hats
I talk to the cat
I can Enjoy the Moon here
If you’ll kiss the ends of my hair
As our shadows pass on the stair
Interspersed amongst the longer, full 3- and 4-minute songs are two to three short, utterly beautiful interludes. These shorter tracks go beyond signifying moments of transition, and feel like comforting, insular worlds in their own right. “I really relish the little interludes, and how they connect the “rooms” of the night palace,” Draut says.
As far as favorite lyrics are concerned, Draut cites the album’s first interlude as a personal highlight. “I think it has the fewest lyrics on the record, but I still tear up sometimes when I sing ‘Sleeptalk Interlude,’” she says. “Much of Diving Ring’s lyrics have one foot in something like a shared reality and one foot in maybe my imaginative reality, but this song feels really simple and easy and true. There’s so little to it.”
It’s been years but if I talked in my sleep
It’d be your name on my lips
When we quietly dreamt of a home
Filled with instruments
Everything else is fool’s gold
Whether you’re looking for an escape, in need of some indulgence, or simply yearning for a beautiful musical dreamworld into which you can dip your toes or dive wholeheartedly and headfirst, Diving Rings is the album you’ve been waiting for: Inspiring, uplifting, and delightful, Night Palace’s cinematic debut is a sublime invitation for both reverie and revelry. There’s a true spark of magic in these lush and lilting songs, and as Draut beckons us deeper into her world, we find ourselves swept up in own passionate dreams and intimate memories as well
A tantalizing tempest of sound and color, Diving Rings is here to channel our fantasies and our realities, and ready for repeat listens all summer long.
“Once at a show in Brooklyn, a cute person in a pink cowboy hat and neckerchief approached me and said they wished they had had my music with them when they were in high school, and that they were so glad they had it for their heart now,” Draut shares. “That felt like exactly what I hoped people were taking away from the record. My best friend describes the album as a balm, and I’m incredibly grateful to hear it.”
“I’ve learned what it feels like to be supported by loved ones in a thousand different ways in making this record. I’ve learned to let go of so much in the way of expecting an album to represent everything I’ve ever heard and wanted to sound like, and that that’s why we get to make more than one record in our lives.”
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Night Palace’s Diving Rings with Atwood Magazine as Avery Draut goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of her band’s debut album!
Stream: ‘Diving Rings’ – Night Palace
:: Inside Diving Rings ::
INTO THE WAKE, MYSTIFIED
Though we had been playing the song for years, I changed all the lyrics to this song the night we recorded it in the studio. Something about the vulnerability of a nighttime recording session, and feeling my dreams and work finally culminating into a recording, allowed me to finally bring out “Wake’s” tender essence. I found out the song was about the thread that connects us to people we love, even when our seasons are no longer changing in tandem with them.
I remember taking a rough mix out to the middle of the empty parking lot and listening in my headphones, grinning from the euphoria of it finally feeling right.
I have skateboarded only one time – it was in tandem, held by a friend, all the way down from the very top of a parking deck to the bottom, and I hope this song feels like that. During that time of my life, my best friends and I were stepping into ourselves in a new way. My best friend Prosper’s grandmother had passed away and had left them over a dozen gorgeously illustrated tarot card sets; a snapshot of this song is this image in my head of Prosper sitting on the floor, surrounded by circles and circles of cards, as they admired each one (“and you’re waxing poetic by the waning moon, thirty of your empress cards around us strewn”).
ENJOY THE MOON!
I wrote the orchestral parts (winds, celeste, harp) on paper ripped out of a notebook the morning of the sessions, and had friends record in the hall at the music school where I studied classical voice. It felt special to be there making something new – like a culmination of things learned in and out of the simultaneously special and rigid realm of classical music within academia.
[The video is] set in a smoky liminal space and a former horse girl’s bedroom window during quarantine, “Enjoy the Moon!” is the story of an alien-like fever dream encounter. Featuring playful dance sequences with our friends and an aesthetic and story shaped by co-director Ally White’s incredible paintings and storytelling, the video pulls visual inspiration from the worlds of Romeo + Juliet (the iconic 1996 movie), Star Trek, and your middle school’s staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“Sleeptalk” is an ode to dreams that were never fully dreamt. The fool’s gold imagery is straight from childhood trips to the touristy “mines” in Dahlonega, Georgia, where we’d see the Pyrite peek through the sand in our little mining trays, filled with sand and water.
This song was inspired by a close friend and the year she spent watching online psychics on YouTube. Over the past couple years, my anxieties have started keeping me up at night too, and sometimes will even wake me up from sleep, so this song has grown to be closer to me in some ways.
I had a huge fig tree in my yard in Athens when I was writing this record. One night I came home late after a show to find a willowy figure plucking the figs off the tree in the complete pitch black. It was very spooky, and it’s still vivid in my memory. This song explores that imagery and ruminates on the slippery nature of memory (of which I am terrified!).
IN THE HALL INTERLUDE
I just loved the way my friends played this part of “Enjoy the Moon!” I wanted it to return on its own, and lead us down the hallway to the next door in the Night Palace.
My grandma first told me the magic that if you plant pennies under hydrangeas that the flowers will change colors. She was full of this type of factlet, and I find myself echoing her magic all the time.
This song holds a sort of thesis of the album: faith that even when the seashells of our love – our memories – disintegrate into sand, they become a part of a glittering collective. Generational wisdom suspends the dark waters, and us in it, and even when we don’t know what’s next, we know that it is teeming with life, with some kind of future.
This song is a still life of a morning at my grandma’s house. In the last year of her life, she would sing a lyric to me from Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of “Goodnight, My Love” when we would part, saying that we might not see each other again “in this life,” as she would put it:
It was so heavenly holding you close to me,
It will be heavenly to hold you again in a daydream.
The song really struck me as so tender, especially when she sang it. I think I needed somewhere to put that reality, and it became this ode to her, “Titania.” I quoted her favorite line.
FIG DREAM 2
An echo of the first Fig Dream. My friends Mauro Ronca and Greg Hankins duetted this gorgeously, across time and two different recording studios. I like to imagine that this sends us off into the night.
These lyrics were co-written with Andrea Krakovksy, based on a poem she wrote for her partner and my best friend Adam. The song is a portrait of their relationship together and with their sweet golden retriever Roxley. Adam got to hear the song before they passed away this past year, and the song holds the special place of the last sung words on the record.
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? © Maggy Swain
:: Stream Night Palace ::