Spirit House

Meet the multi-disciplinary artists of Portland-based collective, Spirit House.  

words & photos by alex free

This past August I went up to Portland, OR for the 4th annual Spirit House Music Festival. Spirit House is a collective of gifted, personable, and empathetic performers. The collective, which highlights its members as musicians, is truly a community of multi-disciplinary artists, care-takers, healers, teachers, environmental scientists and activists. 

During the days of the festival and those following, I was able to talk and work extensively with many artists of the collective. What I found in them was a deeply conscious and responsive character—they all, while strikingly different as performers and individuals, impressed me with their consistent ethos of kindness, care, and dedication to expressive works.

The two celebratory days of the festival marked Spirit House at a point of transition. The artists within the collective spoke with me about being in times of personal change, and the collective itself has the energy of something about to break open into something new. No one can say clearly what that will be, but we can expect only good from the individual trajectories and the aggregate motion of Spirit House, fueled by creatives so impassioned about making a positive impact on those around them.        

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Monica Metzler – Forest Veil

What do you love about Spirit House? 

I love being connected with a creative coven of free-spirited souls and having a platform where we can elevate and support each other's gifts. It's continually inspiring to see what everyone is doing and putting out in the world. 

What are you most excited about in the coming year? 

I'm excited to expand on my creative process and dive into new, exploratory genres of music and creativity. 

What’s inspiring you right now? 

Creative, political, and social resistance. Meaningful work. Reinvention. Sunshine. River bends. Dog grins. Lizzo. The Youth. A full love.

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Treneti Brown

What do you love about Spirit House? 

The Spirit House Music Fest was my last show as a member of the Spirit House Collective. While a part of the collective I really enjoyed having the opportunities to both bring my music to new audiences and to share my sound on a platform with other unique and powerful femme artists.

What are you most excited about in the coming year? 

I'll be releasing my debut album at the beginning of 2020. This is the absolute most exciting thing on the horizon right now. The album is called "Psalms of Saturn". If you want to be the first to hear it when it releases head over to www.treneti.com and join the mailing list.

What’s inspiring you right now? 

Lately I have been expanding my sound palette experimenting with new instruments, electronic music production, and creating my own samples. I am inspired by inter-dimensional tones and frequencies. I am enjoying the freedom that electronic music gives me to capture the essence of those realms in my music. 

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Eliot – A Stick & A Stone

What do you love about Spirit House?   

What I love the most about Spirit House is the culture of non-competitiveness it encompasses. In this capitalist construct that encourages artists (and everyone, for that matter) to compete against each other for scraps, 

the idea of supporting other artists instead is a radical notion. 

I also appreciate that it is a participatory label, in the sense that, although Johanna is the curator who selected the artists, we are all invited to co-create spirit house's endeavors to the extent of our interest and ability. 

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Rowan Rain

What do you love about Spirit House? 

In an internet fueled world where the record label still carries significant weight but isn't required in order to make and release music that can be heard, spirit house offers beautiful collaborative support and solidarity that is absolutely unique. it's a delight to be a part of a co-operative collective changing how music can be shared. we could all be doing this alone if we wanted to - but we choose to do it in community, and that in and of itself is powerful.

What are you most excited about in the coming year?

I'm actually really excited to take somewhat of a break from many of my artistic pursuits in the coming year because by the time this will be published I will have moved to Glasgow, Scotland! I'll be pursuing a year long postgraduate degree in sustainable water environments. I was raised within the Celtic-diasporic community of Seattle and my first language was Scottish Gaelic, so I'm especially excited to have the opportunity to re-immerse myself in the language and traditional skills that surrounded me throughout my youth.

What’s inspiring you right now? 

I've been really inspired lately by the rich singing traditions of my father's Sephardic and Ashkenazi ancestors, by the movement of trees and plants that bend and dance in the wind, spider webs adorned in sunlit dawn-drawn dewdrop jewelry, the waggle dance of bees, the sound of moving water, starlight.

I’m especially inspired by my parents who reverse-immigrated to Ireland, one of my mother's ancestral Gaelic homelands, at the beginning of the year.

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Indira Valey

What are you most excited about in the coming year? 

This year I'm most excited about continuing to develop my practice as a multidisciplinary artist, drawing inspiration from the larger family of performing artists pushing the boundaries of engagement. Music and performance can be such potent ways for folks to remember who they are, where they come from in their deepest roots and how to arise out of all the programming that never served us. 

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Anna Gordon

What do you love about Spirit House? 

I felt very empowered to be initiated in a musical community and have my album release backed by a coven, essentially. I like the lack of competitiveness, which is especially refreshing considering Spirit House is largely comprised of women and nonbinary folks, and for us, the music industry is generally much more competitive. But I'd like to think there's room for all of us and I love that Spirit House does too. Perhaps my favorite thing, though, is how artist-friendly the label is, in that I got to release the music that I found most true in my heart without anyone else wanting to edit it or censor it, which is more than I can say for most of my other experiences with creating recordings.

What are you most excited about in the coming year?

In the realm of music, I'm most excited to release my next album sometime in 2020, which I'm currently recording. However, I'm getting pretty clear messages from my body and brain to take a little break from doing music professionally, so I'm most excited about engaging myself in other forms of art that I've been missing, and doing some intense healing back in Joshua Tree, my new desert home. 

What’s inspiring you right now? 

Visual art! I'm feeling pulled to paint, draw, and create things that don't belong solely in the musical realm. My travels around the west coast offer lots of fodder for imagery to use. I've found a small blessing in my health struggles as well, in that the experience, and the urge to communicate that experience, has been at the forefront of my art for awhile now.