Tonight, Breathe Owl Breathe will soar into Ann Arbor to play an evening show at Arbor Vitae, and the band is bringing an unconventional attitude toward music. The East Jordan, Mich. trio, who started collaborating in 2004, have a passion for blurring the lines between a variety of artistic disciplines to culminate in unusual live performances.
Breathe Owl Breathe
Tonight at 8 p.m.
Breathe Owl Breathe has an eclectic palette in its member composition and audio output. Micah Middaugh, the band’s lead singer, is a skilled printmaker who operates his own art studio. Andréa Moreno-Beals is a classically trained cellist and budding embroidery artist, while Trevor Hobbs teaches online physical geography, having obtained a master’s degree from Michigan State University. A diverse bunch to be sure, their appreciation for variety burns brightest in the music they make.
“Sometimes we’re called lo-fi indie folk — just using different methods for making sounds and performing with instruments that are in various states of decay,” said Trevor Hobbs, the group’s drummer. “We have a folk element to it, because we have cello and acoustic guitar and drums, but we’re kind of mixing in all sorts of other different kinds of sounds, both digital and acoustic these days.”
The band often writes and records at a remote Michigan cabin belonging to Middaugh’s family.
“It’s a place where we can not necessarily block out the world, but just create in the ways that we want to, which is really important to us,” Hobbs said.
More specifically, the bandmates are interested in eventually developing themselves as producers of their own art and music, handling every aspect of creation and publication. They’ve already created audio-visual children’s books and would like to make a practice of creating live shows in diverse spaces.
“We’re really focused on orienting ourselves so that everything we do is coming out of our own little ship — our own little vessel,” Hobbs said.
Breathe Owl Breathe’s music envelops a subtle classical influence, which Hobbs describes as not only a result of the group’s long history with music, but also an overwhelming passion for its different forms.
“We have that deeper foundation, but a lot of it comes from just appreciating more and more how songs are arranged and wanting to approach our own music with that in mind,” Hobbs said.
Meanwhile, the group is increasingly grateful for the opportunity to travel around the world — Breathe Owl Breathe recently played in Ireland — and share its creative message. Hobbs described Breathe Owl Breathe’s live shows as unplanned and created by spontaneous decisions based on each location and crowd.
“We may play new songs and we may not,” Hobbs said. “We get to the venue and we check in and see how everybody’s feeling about what works well and what doesn’t work. We like to mix it up.”
The band is currently touring with longtime friend and California-based musician Kyle Field, who performs under the moniker Little Wings. This tour marks Field’s first foray on Michigan soil, an event Hobbs said is a long time coming.
“We’re really excited to show him around to all the different places that are so important to us and have been a part of our own story,” he said.
Though Breathe Owl Breathe has played Arbor Vitae a couple of times before, Ann Arborites still may not know what to expect at tonight’s show. But it’s sure to be a distinctive mark of creativity, as Hobbs and his bandmates have a deep enthusiasm for their performances.
“(The best part is) getting to the place where you don’t feel like there’s a filter at all between the deepest parts of yourself and what comes out to the audience,” Hobbs said.
“It comes and goes unexpectedly — you never know how you’re going to feel — but when you feel good, it’s really rewarding.”