Sometimes fate finds us crossing paths with someone who will ultimately become our partner. Partner in love, partner in business, partner in creative endeavors… We see this fateful crossing within the music of Gawain and the Green Knight, a folk duo that is comprised of one of the most artistic engaged couples we have encountered. As Brooklyn-based Alexia Antoniou and Mike O’Malley rev up to release their forthcoming EP A Sleeping Place, the release of their new track “Fingers” gives us insight into what’s to come.
This is one of the only songs I’ve ever written just about myself. Usually, when writing songs, I’m a little shyer. I take an emotion I’m feeling but give it to someone else to sing, so to speak- a frustrated medieval woodworker’s apprentice, a jealous French king, a determined 19th-century dressmaker.
But I was on an airplane with Mike a few years back. We hadn’t been able to get seats together. I had been reading Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles and finished it mid-flight and was just completely emotionally devastated. I wasn’t just teary-eyed, I was outright weeping- so much so that the woman next to me took one look at me and started turning up the volume on her little headrest tv. I managed to make meaningful eye contact with Mike across the aisle, and with a few gestures of the head, he agreed to meet me near the airplane toilets so I could cry some more on him. “Fingers” was inspired by that whispered conversation that came out of reading Song of Achilles. It’s a love song for my bandmate and fiancé, simple as that.
One of the first things of note – aside from the inescapably beautiful melody – is how the lyrics and instrumentation rely just as heavily on the space between the notes. We are absolutely enthralled with an artist that knows how to utilize the space between the notes as well, inspired of course by Debussy’s famous quote. (“Music is the space between the notes.”) Mike further affirmed our goosebumps by talking about just that:
As for arrangements, I picture so much of this song occurring in the void of space? Or some equally airless oblivion. So sparseness and reverb seemed the order of things – a little Rhodes piano here, a little bowed bass there. I wanted to ride the line of all-the-way-in-love and all-the-way-scared. And I wanted Alexia to sound like she was alone in the dark with a torch.
If you’ve ever experienced love at any capacity, this song is for you. Short and sweet, it is a testament to simple acts of support leading to a lifetime of love.