Nona Marie of Dark Dark Dark

15 Jun

“Music is a spiritual thing for me so I feel that a lot can be compromised if you are just trying to play the right notes or if I’m just trying to sing the right notes.” -Nona Marie Invie of Dark Dark Dark

On Thursday, The Cake Shop carries on it’s series of intimate houseshows, bringing musicians and audiences together in a comfortable setting unlike any other bar or venue. If you want to attend, follow the instructions linked here for details of tickets, time and address. With past shows from Pezzettino, Roma di Luna, Jeremy Messersmith, the Pines and Chastity Brown, the Cake Shop isn’t something you should miss out on.


This time around we are proud to host Dark Dark Dark and Elephant Micah, giving you a twofer of talent. Elephant Micah is the stage name of Joseph O’Connell, an Indiana-based singer-songwriter who has been recording since 2001 and whose ambling songs are pointed with a wry sense of humor. He is a natural complement to Dark Dark Dark, a band who has made homes for themselves in Minneapolis, New York, New Orleans and everywhere in between. The core of Dark Dark Dark is accordion/pianist Nona Marie Invie and banjo/clarinetist Marshall LaCount, currently rounded out by Jonathan Kaiser on cello and Brett Bullion (also of Tarlton) on drums. Over a series of EPs (most recently the Bright Bright Bright EP released in April) and their 2008 full-length debut, The Snow Magic, Dark Dark Dark have crafted an exquisitely orchestral body of musical work that is as personally felt as it is grandly affecting. They have a new record in the can, due out this fall and before Thursday’s show, Nona Marie was gracious enough to talk about staying sane on the road, recording live sound and the magic of imperfection.

Cake in 15: Dark Dark Dark is a nomadic band, always traveling and setting up different bases. What would you do if you couldn’t travel?

Nona Marie Invie: Oh god. In regards to the band? I feel like we get so much inspiration from traveling and I know that where my songwriting comes from and when I’m meeting new people, I can’t really imagine a world where I couldn’t travel. I think it would be terrible.

C15: If you had to pick one place to stay, where would it be?

NMI: I bet if we couldn’t go anywhere, I bet we would just move to New York. Marshall always wants to move to New York but I love Minneapolis, Minneapolis is my home and I love coming back to it, to have it as a base. It’s nice to go off for a while but always have this place to come back to.

C15: With the stresses of touring, it can be difficult to be productive on the road. Do you find you can write on the road?

NMI: I’ve never been able to really write songs [on the road]. I guess what’ll happen is that I’ll get a line of something in my head or like a melody and Ill just carry it with me for weeks until I can get home and set up my piano and play alone. I can’t really write songs on the road, but I feel like traveling brings such a different energy to my life that I start to get itchy for traveling, it’s just a part of me. I feel like if I couldn’t travel, my songs would be more about how I have to get out.

C15: You cover Elephant Micah’s “Wild Goose Chase” to close out your most recent release, the Bright Bright Bright EP. What made you choose that song?

NMI: I’ve been watching Joe perform that song for a few years and it’s such a powerful, beautiful song for me. It just struck a chord especially, I think it was last year when I started playing it on my own for fun, it had been three years of solid traveling and I just wanted to be grounded and singing that song struck a chord.

C15: What do you do on the road to keep grounded?

NMI: I’ve found that I’ve learned how to take space for myself better, I try to stay calm, be intentionally calm and quiet in the band, I think that helps keep my energy steady. I’m not really a partier, I don’t drink, and so being in show environments every night can be kind of taxing if I don’t have the other side of being quiet during the day, I try and get up early and go for jogs, or if there’s water around, go swimming or take walks. I think that really changes touring for me, it’s part of my life, its not just this thing that sometimes happens, so I need to maintain a balance.

C15: I can’t stop looking at the tattoo on your forearm, can you tell me about it?

NMI: It’s a bird woman, my friend Sheila did it a couple years ago. It says “Dig a Grave “ [on the scrollwork]. We have a song called “Dig a Grave” but this was written before that song came about. I was in a different stage of my life [laughs], a darker stage.

C15: How has your life changed, was it something conscious that you did?

NMI: Well, I stopped drinking and that was a big change. I’ve just grown, I was just twenty, and I’m only twenty-five, but I’m living a little more intentionally now.

C15: You recorded Bright Bright Bright up in Duluth at the Sacred Heart Recording Studio a 100-year-old church with two grand pianos. What is it about recording in live or open spaces?

NMI: Well, it just sounded so beautiful in there and it felt, because of the natural reverb in there and the environment, it was such a special place to be. We recorded it all live, pretty much, and there’s something about all of us sitting in a circle and being able to look at eachother and playing in this beautiful place that just felt magical. Studios can recreate that sound with effects but it feels so much different sitting in a dead room, basically and playing with eachother and knowing it could sound like that later. The energy coming off of eachother is a lot different.

C15: Is it important to you that the live feel of playing together is captured on record?

NMI: It is for me because I am totally not a perfectionist. I can’t do a hundred takes of something and get it right or do it until I get it right or do it the same way every time. It’s more about the feeling. If I can’t do it in the first two times, I’m probably not going to be able to do it. Music is a spiritual thing for me so I feel that a lot can be compromised if you are just trying to play the right notes or if I’m just trying to sing the right notes. There is so much about the quality of the voice, what’s behind it that comes through.

2 Responses to “Nona Marie of Dark Dark Dark”

  1. jamie July 29, 2010 at 6:53 pm #


    You should definitely check out this awesome video MPLS.TV just shot of Dark Dark Dark this week for City of Music! Sooooo good!

    Watch @ OR

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