Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax

They met on the fourth of July.

And yes, there were fireworks.

(This all works in the end, I promise. Nobody is blinded.)

They didn’t know it then but, they talk about it now: that fourth of July, that Independence Day – was a moment when some things died, some things came alive and where so much changed for Katie Gold and Becky Christian. And it was all because of music. For after learning that each of them played music, they sat down with their instruments and it came: the calling that had been a force in both of their lives – leapt, screaming forward.

Play music is what every sign said.

Becky Christian grew-up playing cello. She was taught through the Suzuki method’s ideals of a nurturing education born in immersion, encouragement and a person’s willingness to imitate examples. Read: for nearly the entirety of her life, Christian has almost always been able to play music “by ear”. She traveled to Europe, playing competitively in places like the musical landmark, Vienna. To this end, music and life has been synonymous for Becky Christian – even in separation.

Katie Gold found music just about as early as her bandmate. Self-taught, music has always held a profound center in her core. As a child, she learned how to play several instruments – but primarily she focused on piano and guitar. By high school she found an ardent interest in looping sounds and textures. But while music was at the core, it wasn’t made explicit until, as an adolescent, Gold lost the ability to play competitive soccer due to an injury. It was then that it came rushing to her: music was life. More than that: music was to be her life.

For a couple of years prior to their fateful meeting, both Gold and Christian had been dabbling with their instruments. A little here and a little there. Then they met, on the fourth of July, in the year of two thousand and eight. Immediately the two were drawn to each other and then, by December – three songs were written.

In many ways, Gold and Christian are opposites. They are from different worlds. If it weren’t for music – the two may have never even remembered each other’s name on that fourth of July. But where this could serve as a hindrance, it has provided a basis for creation – and something magical:

In writing songs, Gold starts with the melody. Christian begins with the words. Gold plays the piano and the guitar and does most of the singing. Christian plays the cello and is reticent about the vocal microphone. Much of where their sound comes from in on account of this interplay: of their personal histories, the personal quirks, the different instruments, voicings, lexicon. Much of Lady Parts is predicated on the diverse story that has been told as a result of the mulching of all their different pieces.

The profundity of the differences and the struggle inherent in not only their musical collaboration but most other bands is that where they are learning how to communicate as friends – on top of that – they are also learning how to communicate as musicians. I’m not certain that much could become more trying, trickier. And maybe this plays a role in the curious fact that neither Gold nor Christian write down the music for their pieces. They don’t talk about the key a song is in. They just play.

On stage, Lady Parts is intimate if anything. The two of them, with their strange instruments, voicings and physicality – beckon the audience’s attention. For certain: it is a curious sight to witness. It is like pulling back the drapes on your neighbor’s bathroom windows and being welcomed inside – except, there is nothing vulgar in that place, for while it is a personal room – it is filled with sacred things like cathedral light.

I have heard it said that the cello is like a lady’s shoulders. It’s sexy. It’s sexual. It should wear clothes. The cello is a queer instrument in that, unlike so many other instruments – it has a presence. It demands attention. It is a fact: People are transfixed on the cello. They listen a little more than they would normally talk. Maybe this is the first note in the recognition – of the audience and the magnetism of Lady Parts.

They don’t talk about the key. They just play. And sometimes, they fall on their face. Sometimes they forget the words between them; between their instruments. Sometimes they forget their secret phrases and what the meaning is. Sometimes it feels catastrophic. Other times, the aim is for forgiveness and the encouragement that it won’t happen again. The idea that: you are all right here. Here, you are safe. Here, you are home. And, I am sitting next to you – in this same key, singing this same song.

For six months, the girls went their own ways. Lady Parts wasn’t going to work. They went their own ways, but they didn’t go far. A little tequila and the realization that they really wanted this was sealed and done. Now, two years and two recording engineers later and they have their debut album and that same conviction that this is something they both want. For whatever differences Gold and Christian may have on the surface and a little bit below – theirs is a bond predicated on that kind of unspoken, ineffable sensation that only two musicians can have. Theirs is a kind of bond that rivals something called family or love.

Sometimes one or the other will begin a piece in the wrong key, then quickly shift back. Sometimes they shift keys in a song – sometimes on purpose, other times, not. One time, needing more material to cover their allotted time slot – Gold began creating words to a song that they hadn’t finished. Family is a little bit like this. Love is a little bit like this: it’s about knowing where the unspoken center is. Family and love is like this: it’s about knowing when you have strayed from our shared center, and when it’s time to come back on home.

For Lady Parts, playing live is about the death of fear. Playing live is about everything and most things particular between Gold and Christian – but it wouldn’t be anything if it weren’t about finding a place where the voices stop. On stage the gift is in the location of a sacred place where they can stop thinking and feeling and talking and wondering. On stage the gift is in just playing. Just playing music – like they were born to do.

Lady Parts welcomes their mistakes. For this is music: this is about the bravery of the heart. This is about risk and chance and trying something new. This is about claiming your destiny, working hard and risking the head and the heart and the ability. Lady Parts is one part heart, one part a fresh start. Lady Parts is two parts serendipity, one part speech and absolutely: one part fireworks.

Whatever it is: whatever the proper amalgamation is – that kind which delivers transcendence and mystery – whatever that amalgamation is – this is the kind of union which has been blessed upon that third entity that Gold and Christian have created: Lady Parts.

Their sound is predicated on space. An organic space that you can feel in the recordings – the kind of space that holds a place, a presence as robust and broad as the wind that is pushed from the cathedral’s doors when shut. This is somehow not rock ‘n roll and it is somehow about everything that rock ‘n roll ever strove to be: orchestral in nature. Symphonic. Grandiose. Venerated. Sacred.

Lady Parts is one part family and one part love. It is the bond of two girls as they graze the sensual ceiling of everything above our most colossal of cathedrals.