BadKnight. Much More Than Alright!
“It’s Alright sums up the entire album, the writing and recording process. We’re saying ‘It’s okay, buddy. It’s gonna be fine. Don’t worry so much about it.’ Hopefully, listeners will hear the album and agree.
Badknight is the sweetness of Emily Lenae Badger’s voice and Devin McKnight’s acoustic fingerpicking backed by brilliant string arrangements. This union forms a sound colorful enough to paint pictures of goodnights, daffodils, and breakups with gentle flowing melodies and striking honesty. Badknight’s debut, It’s Alright, will be released this Fall.
Devin and Emily were both involved in other projects prior to forming Badknight. Enrolled at Berklee College of Music, they each have had many opportunities to explore their individual musicality. Devin, also a current member of Grass Is Green, has usually been involved in rock bands, three to five people in size. Though the styles and influences of his past and present outfits have varied, the music has always been very loud and bombastic. Badknight presented Devin the chance to explore areas of playing he rarely had prior – intimate, quiet, with both jazz and classical influences.
Growing up, Emily was involved in anything from classical to musical theatre. A recent graduate of Berklee, while studying jazz she performed in a jazz group under the name Emily Lenae. After taking in shows from Grass Is Green and many of her other friends’ bands, she didn’t really expect to get involved in something beyond her jazz roots. “After Devin came to one of my shows,” says Badger, “we started sharing music and talking. Eventually it ending up being this collaboration. It’s out of both of our comfort zones. Badknight is fun and challenging for both of us.”
A Weaving Together
Upon listening to “It’s Alright” or “Daffodil,” you can hear something between Badger and McKnight that goes beyond simple voice and guitar accompaniment. “One of my favorite compliments that we’ve gotten,” says Badger “is that people say we weave in and out of each other. That’s very important to me. It was not always like that; it takes a lot of work to get to that point.” Because of Devin’s previous experience in eclectic rock bands, many songs are full of meter changes and other musical curveballs that Emily has had to adapt to. Emily’s jazz sensibility also proves challenging for Devin whilst crafting chord progressions around her unique melodic lines. So when listeners mention how well it works, how it flows so freely, it comes as a great relief to both members of Badknight.
When it comes to the Badknight sound, the biggest influences of Devin and Emily have been Elliot Smith, Nick Drake, Iron and Wine, and Grizzly Bear side project Department of Eagles. On Elliot Smith, Devin states “A lot of people have showed me his stuff over the years, but it was when (Badknight’s string arranger) Greg Martin played me some Elliot Smith tracks…I was blown away by some of the arrangements, the way he plays.” Vocally, Emily is greatly influenced by Norah Jones, Billie Holiday, and local musician Kris Delmhorst. “Her lyrics and melody lines are a huge inspiration to me,” she says. On both Emily and Devin’s lists? The Beatles. “Because of the way they use melody. It’s really important.”
Good Days for Badknight
Emily and Devin are gearing up to release their debut album in the coming months, entitled It’s Alright. The album was recorded in both professional recording studios and not so conventional spaces. “We recorded my vocals in a shower,” says Badger. “After going through a lot of different studios, our friend Mike Thomas…he and his parents let us use their shower to record my vocals after going through a lot of different studios.” Devin recorded many guitar parts in the same bathroom vicinity, with a handful of mics capturing every bit of noise. “Sirens passing, birds chirping. It’s really organic, what we wanted all along,” Devin states.
At some point, Badknight talked about incorporating strings into their minimalist music. On the upcoming album, an amazing string quartet accompanies Devin and Emily, arranged and recorded in LA by Greg Martin. In the future, Badknight hopes to incorporate the strings into performances.
Regarding distribution, the duo seems to have a vague plan regarding iTunes, download cards, and bandcamp. Much more concrete is there plan to release It’s Alright on vinyl. According to Emily, “We’re excited about pressing vinyl. I’ve always felt that purchasing vinyl is purchasing more than music. The artist’s hard work is in your hands. More than something you pop into your mac. It’s a statement and it’s support.”