Photo by Paul Stevens
Ancient Language exists on a metamorphic scale, constantly shapeshifting to fit the change of the seasons – or life – of original founder Christopher Jarvis. Jarvis started Ancient Language in 2011 as a solo hip-hop/house project, but in the last seven years his music has gone through many different iterations. Most notably, it has grown from solo work to a six-piece folk/indie rock/electronic amalgamation of virtuosic musicianship and varied tastes. HYGGE, Ancient Language’s third release, is the apex of this musical journey and finds the band at a crossroad between genres, using their lyrical voice for the first time.
The LP is a labor of love, recorded over the past two years in a series of sessions in band member (guitar, sax, and vocals) Matthew Beyer’s basement. The band says HYGGE was made during a time of “profound changes, relocating across the country and back again.” Some of these “changes” were more traumatizing than others, including a time last winter when Jarvis’s whole life as he knew it seemed to be crumbling. “When we started writing the record, my brother Zach and I were kind of in a dark place,” says Jarvis. “We were living in Eastern Market and, in the span of a week, I lost my job, my car got stolen, and we got evicted from our place.”
This series of unfortunate events was the nail in the coffin for Jarvis, who grew up between Warren and Sterling Heights. He explains that, although he’s no stranger to Detroit’s brutal winters, that winter was especially debilitating, and he took it as a sign to run towards the sun. Jarvis and his brother, who also plays in the band, moved in with family in Arizona to try and get their lives back on track. During those months in Arizona, the brothers spent time writing music and sending songs back and forth to Beyer. By the time they were ready to come back to Detroit, they had finished an album.
The Jarvis’s desert retreat seemed to be the escape they needed to create a diverse and enrapturing body of work. Although, Chris says that the music itself has always been his true oasis. “That’s how it’s always been for me – an escape from whatever I’m dealing with.”
Ancient Language will celebrate the release of HYGGE this Saturday, June 2nd, with a show at El Club in Detroit. Peep a single from the record below.