Seattle’s Babes in Canyon Release Storm-Born Debut EP

Playing Seattle

On February 24, Babes in Canyon, a new Seattle band made up of music scene veterans Nathan Hamer and Michelle Nuño and keyboardist/vocalist Amanda Ebert, released their airy, transporting indie debut, Second Cities.

Babes in Canyon, which was born from a particularly thrilling, stormy night Hamer and fiancee Ebert spent without power in a cabin in the Washington woods, represents a new creative phase centered on unfiltered expression, defined by their connection to the environment of the Pacific Northwest.

Hamer has long been on the Seattle music scene as a member of the folk-pop band, Kuinka, which he formed with his brother in 2013. With Kuinka, Hamer toured and performed for years, and while he’s still in the group now, he’s been looking for other musical outlets recently.

“During the pandemic, I just really felt the calling to write some in a different style. Something a bit more raw. I just needed to express some emotions I had been feeling,” remembers Hamer.

Hamer and Ebert met during their college years at Pace University, and in 2018 Ebert moved to Washington so they to be together. As Hamer toured and played with Kuinka, Ebert, who works in film production, watched from the sidelines, all the while missing playing and singing herself.

“I was in a band in high school that I was very into. I played keys and sang,” says Ebert. “It had been 15 years since I had been in a band and I always really wanted to do it again, so when Nathan and I reconnected and I moved out to Washington and we started writing music together.”

One weekend during the pandemic, they decided to retreat into a cabin in the woods of Acme, Washington, for some focused songwriting time. While they were there a major windstorm hit, felling trees and knocking out their power. Stranded in the cabin, the pair wrote new songs by candlelight and decided to form Babes in Canyon.

“A whole different [creative] process came out of that night, being trapped in that cabin,” says Hamer. “I instantly found it incredible that I could have these melodies in my head and hum them and then suddenly Amanda has pages of lyrics that fit so perfectly. I felt like I had a superpower in partnering with Amanda. It was so quick and easy and free.”

“The Wolf,” one of the folkier songs from the debut EP, was written that night in its entirety. It features a baritone ukulele backbone, sweet harmonies between Hamer and Ebert, and melancholic lyrics that touch on themes of loneliness and isolation.

“That song for me was inspired by a couple years ago when I moved to L.A. [where] I actually worked in tech,” says Ebert. “I [took] inspiration from a time in my life where against better advice decided to go it alone.”

With a few songs written on their cabin excursion, Hamer and Ebert tapped their long-time friend and drummer Nuño and asked her to join them in Babes in Canyon. Turns out, Nuño, who had spent years playing drums in many different groups (including Kuinka, Moon Darling, and Thunderpussy) in many different styles, was also game for something new since learning how to play bass over the pandemic.

“I was looking for a different kind of creative outlet. Something where I could express myself melodically, because you can’t really do that with drums,” says Nuño.

As a band, the three members share a really strong connection to nature in this region, and that passion also saturates Babes in Canyon, giving Second Cities a unique blend of elegant pop melody and the rugged rawness of forest-born folk. Aside from influencing their sound, nature also defined their late-night recording process at Hamer and Ebert’s two-story home and farm in Mount Vernon, Washington.

For a full week during the recording process, Hamer and Ebert hosted Nuño and producer Jerry Streeter, known for his work with Brandi Carlisle, on the farm and recorded in the same way they wrote the songs—late at night, away from the bustle of the city, and surrounded by the natural world.

“I feel like nature and night time both provide settings where your mind and your emotions are a little bit more raw and less bogged down by whatever is happening in the day. I feel like being in nature and writing at nighttime has helped us kind of clear away whatever layers of inhibition or resistance there might be and be creative,” explains Ebert. The result is the refreshing folk-tinged indie rock of Second Cities, as lush as the Pacific Northwest expanse it’s inspired by.

Follow Babes In Canyon on Instagram for ongoing updates.

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