Mandy Fer and Dave McGraw decided to change their duo name to Sway Wild and produced their debut release under that name in 2019. It was a star-studded release with the likes of Allison Russel and J T Nero adding vocals, whilst Anna Tivel and Anna Fritz added strings. They were set to continue with their habitual touring of around eighty plus gigs a year until the lockdown arrived. This has seen them spend a full year at home on San Juan Island in Washington State. Dave McGraw said that it was “a bittersweet reprieve of sorts. We became better gardeners and spent time learning how to use recording software in our living room, but most significantly we had the opportunity to actually witness each day of each passing season from one place. Before becoming a full-time musician I had worked as a naturalist and wildlife biologist for many years, so it felt so grounding to be able to regain connection to the natural cycles right outside our door. For once I was able to observe when our neighbouring birds arrived from their migrations and even find where some of them were nesting and watched them raise their young. We were home long enough to watch the wildflowers bloom and the trees flower and then drop their leaves in the fall. While many of our days and weeks ran together in a sort of monotony so contrasting to tour life, the natural world outside our window was constantly changing every single day. It felt like a rare gift to have the time to be absorbed into this greater depth of awareness. I think learning more about our non-human neighbors can help us to better understand ourselves.”
Much of that experience has made its way into ‘To the Loons’, as has the lockdown ennui and that hazy feeling o losing track of time.