Band Booking: Talking Zines, Vonnegut, and the Beats With Blessed Feathers

Lately, I’ve been very impressed with Peaceful Beasts in an Ocean of Waves, the new album from Blessed Feathers. Centered around the duo of Donivan Berube and Jacquelyn Beaupre (and featuring contributions from Thor Harris of Swans and Shearwater), the group plays taut, beautifully unsettling folk-influenced music. It doesn’t hurt that Berube is also the editor of a zine, Sleeping in a Torn Quilt/Dreaming of Gold, featuring an ambitious blend of art, writing, and music. With that in mind, I chatted with Berube about his various projects via email.

How did your zine, Sleeping in a Torn Quilt/Dreaming of Gold, first come about?

I’ve always been a total bookworm. When I was a kid I dreamed of working at the newspaper in our town. Every night we drove past the office I’d stare and stare. So Torn Quilt came about quite naturally in that respect. Some of the contributors are people that I’ve met in person or have just had some sort of long-term contact with. Some of them are simply folks that I really respect and admire, cold-calling them out of the blue and them responding positively. It’s pretty strange how it’s all come together. I’ve had a little luck with that. Literally, it’s like I’ll read a really fantastic book or listen to a phenomenal album, and just send them a note out of the blue.

Many of the contributors are also musicians — did you meet them via your music? How did you first find out that they were also writers?

Most of them, the musicians particularly, probably wouldn’t tag themselves as ‘writers.’ I’m not too comfortable with that either. But I contact and work with them individually based upon what I discern them to be into or capable of. Like with Peter from Peter Wolf Crier. I kind of knew his writing style and shot him some ideas. And Laurel from Little Scream. I’ve seen her a couple times, and remembered her talking about waiting that happened between ‘her album coming to her’ and Secretly Canadian finally releasing it. I asked her to write about it, and she did! They both did a phenomenal job. And I mean, both of those instances are from the first Torn Quilt. The new one features Thor Harris from Swans & Shearwater, Blake Mills, Colin Caulfield of Young Man, and others.

In terms of your own own work, did you begin writing or playing music first?

As for our music, I started out by looking up tabs to shitty guitar rock songs on the internet and learning those on a pawn shop acoustic. It took a while before I could sing and play at the same time. And it took even longer for me to find something worth singing about. Jacquelyn jumped right into writing songs when she picked up the guitar. Her picking and playing style is entirely her own. She’s great.

How much do your music & your writing overlap?

Lately I’ve been focusing on the wordplay more heavily. I don’t know if that’s the literary influence kicking in or if I’m just growing up and writing honest songs. Who knows.

The design of the album that I have now and that of the latest issue of the zine is very similar — did you intend for the two to be complementary?

The zine and album covers are similar because Jacquelyn did the artwork for both. They’re both also printed on some really nice recycled oatmeal speckletone papers, so the underlying hues beneath her art are similar too. I’ll just go ahead and say we planned that.

What are you reading right now?

I’m just about finished with the Portable Beat Reader, basically drowning in Kerouac, Ginsberg, Holmes, Burroughs, and the rest of that whole motley crew. In the car for this tour I threw two Kurt Vonnegut books: God Bless You Mr. Rosewater and Jailbird. I’m buying them faster than I can read them lately, but that’s a good predicament to be in.

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