Although they became important figures in the Saddle Creek community of Omaha, NE, Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor made their initial mark in Athens, GA, where they formed Azure Ray in 2001. The two musicians – both Alabama natives as well as childhood friends – relocated to Athens after school and combined elements of folk, pop, and light electronica into their 2001 debut self-titled album released on Warm Records. The next winter, Azure Ray issued the November EP on Saddle Creek. The sophomore effort Burn & Shiver followed in 2002 and exuded a more serene soundscape, as well as slick production work from Crooked Fingers frontman Eric Bachmann. Fink and Taylor also began lending their help to other albums, from Moby's 18 to Bright Eyes' Lifted or the Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground. Meanwhile, they also served as members of Andy Lemaster's project, Now It's Overhead.
A year later, Azure Ray continued their prolific pace by issuing Hold on Love. The album proved to be the duo's last release for seven years, though, and both musicians pursued solo careers in the interim. Taylor and Fink returned their focus to Azure Ray in 2009, launching a brief tour that year before returning in 2010 with their fourth album, Drawing Down the Moon. In September of 2012, the band's fifth, more electronic-leaning offering As Above So Below arrived.
Azure Ray joins the Flower Moon Records family with the re-release of their self-titled debut featuring the hit songs "Sleep,” "Rise", and "Displaced," in addition to Burn and Shiver. Out October 26, 2018, Waves is Azure Ray’s 8th studio release, and first new recordings in 6 years.
A few months ago, we received a heavy, nondescript brown box covered in “magnetic media” stickers. Inside were the original reels from the first Azure Ray record (including some songs or versions that never made the final cut). Something about seeing the giant antiquated grey metal boxes made us nostalgic for those early recordings. There we were, barely 20, in our tiny, messy apartment in Athens, GA trying to cope with the tragic loss of Maria’s boyfriend, a fellow musician who was taken way before his time. Grief ended our first band, but we eventually turned to song-writing again; and the cathartic exercise thrust upon us by tragedy ultimately led to the birth of Azure Ray.
We actually had been talking about writing and playing shows again as Azure Ray for a while when that box of reels arrived. Around that same time, we booked our first reunion show since 2013. The sold-out crowd packed the beautiful, ornate building from wall-to-wall and the stage was decorated with hundreds of white lilies bathed blue light. Reuniting as Azure Ray again for the first time in a decade was a turning point for both of us after all that had changed in our lives over the last few years.
Less than a year since our most recent “reunion” show, we are excited to announce our new EP, Waves The same Azure Ray that wrote “Sleep,” “Rise,” “November” and more isn’t just back again – we’re here as we’ve always been. This EP was about revisiting what Azure Ray has meant to us – and felt like to the listener – over the last 18 years. So for the last few months we’ve been demoing songs back and forth over email and Facetime between Omaha and Los Angeles, until this August when we packed up a car and drove out to a house in Joshua Tree to record. These songs are both a yearning and nostalgia for the Azure Ray of the past, and new perspectives on how and why we make music – with 18 years of love, life, and loss in between. It’s a record we’ve been aching to write – without even knowing it – just like the first one almost 2 decades ago. So today, we’re excited to share with you our favorite Azure Ray songs in years.
– Maria & Orenda
MUSIC & VIDEO
NEWS & REVIEWS
KRCW EXCLUSIVE: AZURE RAY “LAST SUMMER IN OMAHA” PREMIERE
From KCRW: “It’s been a minute – well actually six years – since we’ve gotten new music from the lovely collaboration of Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink, known as Azure Ray. We’re beyond excited to offer you the first glimpse of that new EP as we premiere the video for the hauntingly beautiful “Last Summer In Omaha.” Read more here from KCRW and watch it here!
BILLBOARD: AZURE RAY’S DEBUTS HEARTFELT VERSION OF 2003 TRACK “HOLD ON LOVE”
From Billboard: “They've already shared the cheeky "Palindrome" video, and today you can check out their reimagination of 2003's “Hold On Love”… “For the 15th anniversary of our record Hold on Love we re-imagined the title track with the help of Louis Schefano and Maria’s father and brother, Macey Sr and Jr,” the duo tells Billboard. “It reflects the live version that we came to love playing through the years.” Listen here.
BILLBOARD EXCLUSIVE: AZURE RAY PREMIERES FIRST NEW MUSIC IN SIX YEARS WITH CLEVER ‘PALINDROME’ VIDEO
“Azure Ray is back. The dream pop duo comprised of Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink is set to release its first music since 2012 with its new Waves EP, due Oct. 26. Its lead track arrives below with a cheekily irreverent music video…” Watch at Billboard.
PITCHFORK: AZURE RAY ALBUM REVIEW
The meat of these songs-- if something as pretty as Fink and Taylor's singing can support such a metaphor-- is, of course, the duo's vocals. Their gentle trills manage a good balance between ethereal and corporeal, like an apparition you could touch. It's a great mix between a haunting, somnambulant femininity and understated strength.
TAYLOR SWIFT MADE THIS BREAK-UP PLAYLIST FOR A RECENTLY DUMPED FAN
Taylor Swift is known for dissecting past relationships in her music, but what does the queen of heartbreak listen to when she's heartbroken?... a themed playlist about moving on that includes Charli XCX and Azure Ray.