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In the Realm of the Weird

Don’t cry over Spilt Milk

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Editor’s note: “In the Realm of the Weird” is a bi-weekly column uplifting local artists who are producing groundbreaking, innovative, or otherwise unorthodox work.

To the untrained eye, Spilt Milk may seem like your typical folk-rock garage band. Their lead single, “See You Around,” debuting April 8 on their SoundCloud, seems to certify this, but I would implore listeners to look a bit deeper. 

The “About” section of the band’s website includes a fascinating paragraph detailing their creation, inspirations, and aspirations. In between name-drops of artists such as Tom Petty and Creedence Clearwater Revival and backgrounds of the bandmates lies a single crucial sentence: "[Spilt Milk] represent[s] the fire that still burns in the genre that has made countless timeless tracks and create enjoyable music for the ages.” 

“A lot of those bands listed are really good at eliciting a feeling or … really moving you like on a deeper level, which is something like we really try to emulate in our music,” UW undergraduate and drummer James Ott said.

Spilt Milk is a Washington-based group consisting of Ott, lead guitarist and singer Landon Spencer, vocalist Cailin Spencer, pianist Ian McTamaney, and bassist Sam McQuarrie. While “See You Around” marks their first official release as a group, the band has been making music for years now, dating back to high school. 

“We started back in [our] junior year of high school,” Spencer said. “We … were just a jam band originally. Then we decided we wanted some T-shirts, so we ordered some shirts, started selling them, and then got to a point where it was a little awkward, not having played any shows yet or anything. We had sold like 50 T-shirts to people and it was like, ‘Shoot, we better start writing music for people to hear.’”

Despite the band’s inception sounding like a somewhat reluctant act stemming from an anticipation-based merchandise scheme, Spilt Milk is no joke. “See You Around” is a genuinely impressive track that excellently combines each band member’s talent and musical background.

Although the track is considered folk and singer-songwriter, it feels genreless. Yes, it can be defined as such to please algorithms and increase streams, but with jazz influences and a host of artist inspirations, it’s hard to contain the sound to a single, rigid box.

“We didn't go into anything like, ‘Yeah, we're going to be some Americana folk band’ ... I think we kind of just got that sound,” Spencer said. “It's never really been an intention [of ours] to [fit] a specific genre, even if [our releases] have all sounded similar.”

Spilt Milk is attempting the unimaginable. Revitalizing and breathing new life into an Americana-esque genre that the music world has seemingly moved on from is no easy task. Whether or not they succeed in this mission, it is hard to doubt their passion, connections with one another, raw talent, and determination. 

“I think it's really cool where we came from,” McQuarrie said. “The first time we tried to record a song, it was in my basement with only one microphone … it was hanging from the ceiling, wrapped with two sweatshirts around it to record the drums, and I was mixing it together on [Audacity].” 

Objectively, Spilt Milk is a truly organic group with a unique take on the fading Americana genre. Their latest track and forthcoming EP — not recorded in McQuarrie’s basement, but at Shoreline’s London Bridge Studios — should be on everyone’s radar.  

With goals that include critical acclaim and giving back to the community that has never faltered on its support, Spilt Milk wants you to remember that no matter how big it gets, the band is still “a bunch of high school friends that accidentally made too many shirts.”

Reach columnist Jacob Renn at arts@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @jakemrenn

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