There’s a confidence that rings out across the eleven songs that make up Waiting for the Sky to Speak, Joanna Schubert’s debut album as Oropendola, a word that means “golden pendulum.” Set to release March 17th, 2023, these tracks shimmer with bursts of energy and emotion, swinging from playfulness to earnestness with deft, technicolor brushstrokes. The album is a celebration of choosing life even in the face of its ephemerality, and of finding motion even in the midst of stillness. Today, Oropendola has released the first single, “Knocking Down Flowers,“ along with a beautifully hazy & shimmering video to accompany it. Joanna says of the track and its inspiration:
“In January 2020, I started recording myself improvising every morning – “morning pages” inspired by The Artist’s Way, a creative self-help book. I recorded morning pages #1 soon after a pivotal, complicated, on-and-off relationship “reached its end. Round and round we went, addicted to one another, unable to break free of a sticky cycle that prevented us from fully blooming together. That song seed turned into “Knocking Down Flowers” within a few days.
There was a construction site near my old apartment in South Slope, Brooklyn that the two of us would often pass by. We developed a bit – bittersweet in retrospect – that it was our home. We would peer through the diamond-shaped opening at the stunted barren landscape beyond and imagine the possibilities. Dirt, trash, patches of weeds, colorful graffiti on the green walls, the droning hum of the Prospect Expressway: our weird little insular paradise. One evening, the site’s door was slightly ajar. We made it inside of our home, for the first and only time, photographing one another, running around and dancing with abandon, beers in hands reaching towards the sky.
There is a certain type of pleasure, and comfort, gleaned from inhabiting liminal space. Suspended in midair, everything takes on a bit of a hazy, yet tantalizing, glow. You are just of this moment, no obligation to the past or future. Not quite here, not quite there, you don’t have to choose. If you don’t have to choose, you don’t have to make the wrong choice. If you knock down the flowers before they bloom, you don’t have to watch them wilt.”
The songs on Waiting for the Sky to Speak were born from a time of immobility both existential and literal. As the world went into a state of lockdown during the pandemic, Schubert was reckoning with a feeling that, for years, her life had been at a standstill. She was ready to move forward, to embrace joy and sing through the static. The album title, which comes from the album’s opening track “Rorschach Sky,” is a fitting one then: the phrase points to the missed opportunity of spending your life waiting for something when life is happening all around you.
The production is bolstered by co-producer Zubin Hensler, who also served as mixer. Despite having never met before working together, the two podded up during the height of the pandemic at Hensler’s studio in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The liminal space created by a world on pause led the two to develop an album that sounds limitless.