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Juniper Douglas presents: In the Garden of Clay

I had really no idea what I was in for when I agreed to cover the new, local, multimedia project Juniper Douglas’s debut live concept album/theater piece. After experiencing the performance last Friday, things make more sense, but I also was left wondering a lot, and it was definitely nothing like I expected it to have been.

They sent me their first single, “Wood Rose”, that they just recently released and the accompanying music video, which was really cool. They had Jake Luppen (Hippo Campus) and Neil Weir (Magic Castles, Posh Lost, Flavor Crystals) over at Blue Bell Knoll on the production end of things. The song reminded me a bit of “lover’s carvings” by Bibio mixed with a little of that Hippo Campus flair, fitting as they list Bibio as one of their sound influences, along with Unknown Mortal Instruments and Whitney.

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Quick little note on the video: I’d just like to say that there is a scene during the first chorus that is absolutely beautiful. Noah, the main character from the theater piece as I later found out, is running through a field and it’s very Wes Anderson-y with the wide shot, and I just really really love that.

As for the actual live theater piece/concept album, it was a bit confusing at parts, but I think that was the point; they wanted people to think. They began the show by telling the audience to “take a seat, and take a look.” They took you into the brain of a girl named Noah who was wildly imaginative. The journey she goes on through seemingly her consciousness and unconsciousness is in order to try and figure out who she is, what she wants to be, how she is going to get there.

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Noah gets stuck trying to explain the concept of time early on in the performance, and struggles with time moving too fast for her to keep up throughout the rest of the show. She ultimately seems to fall into the monotony of life, with the most fitting, yet heartbreaking end scene. Don’t get me wrong here, it wasn’t all as sad as I’m making it out to be. It was incredibly creative and well thought out, and there actually was a lot of humor in the script, which the crowd reacted very well to.

Somebody said of the performance that it was “like a high school play, but self aware.” I agree with this to a point because the crowd seemed to be filled with parents and family and friends of the cast and musicians, but that is something I love. I love friends who aggressively support each other, and that was absolutely apparent during the show; those parents should be proud. 

The band played the score live throughout the performance, and all the artists were incredibly talented in every aspect of the production. I was a little confused at first, thinking that there would be more traditional songs, like the one they sent to me; there really wasn’t, though the music was still pretty and creatively made in certain scenes. (I recall a microphone held up to a bucket of water during the waterfall scene). After seeing the live show, and then going back to the music video, I put together the pieces; the video seems to be a trailer, if you will, for the live show.

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I asked Jake Luppen, one of the producers of their single “Wood Rose” about his time working with the project. He gave me a little insight on the process and timelines as well as the following praise for Juniper Douglas: “There’s nothing like the project happening in the cities right now. Zeke and Yvonne are two of the most creative people I know. I’m excited to see where the project goes from here.”

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At first I didn’t have any idea of what to even make of the performance, but after some time, I’ve made up my mind. All in all, it was a really cool experience, I’m glad I went, and I definitely walked away from it thinking; it still has me thinking, and I think that that’s a good thing.  —

You can catch Juniper Douglas on social media here, here, and here. And listen to their new single on Spotify and Soundcloud, and watch the music video here. Photo credits go to the talented Casey Carlson; check out more of his work here!

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