Guest post by Lowndes Commander
The first time I heard Davis, I got lost. Lost in my thoughts, in the formative days of my youth and beyond. A good album tends to have that sort of effect.
Davis is comprised of Sara Regan and Bradley Vaught, from Austin, TX. They just released their first LP, Stills, and it’s filled with deep emotion and hauntingly beautiful vocals. I got the chance to speak with Sara about some of the defining moments during the making of the album, as well as her vision of what’s to come.
Lowndes Commander: Sara, you and Bradley just released your first LP, Stills, as Davis. Congrats! How did you two first start collaborating?
Sara Regan: Thank you! Bradley and I have known each other for a long time—since middle school. We talked about being in a band in high school and would jokingly come up with funny band names, but we really started playing together when we both ended up going to college in Austin, TX. From then, Davis started to grow from my solo music into a duo, and maybe one day it could be a full band. Calling ourselves “Davis” gives the project room to expand beyond just the two of us in the future.
Lowndes: I love the purpose behind that! Have you always been playing music?
Sara: I started playing guitar in third grade, I think. Maybe younger. My brother played guitar and so I just started picking around on his and never really stopped after that.
Lowndes: I’ve really been loving Stills; to me, it has this kind of nostalgic feel. What or who were the driving influences behind the album and its tone?
Sara: Oh man, so many things. First of all, I’d prepared to put my music on hold for a few months as I got ready to get married and move to a new city. But one day I got a call from my good friend Yellen (part of Nightbeds), and he told me he really believed in what I was doing, and wanted to try to record and produce something with Bradley and me before I left Austin. I was blown away and completely not expecting that opportunity, but we went to the studio and ended up recording ‘Stills, September 19th’ that first day, which kick-started the rest of the album.
The album became an outlet to process and feel those emotions that came along with huge transition.
Then for Bradley and me, there were so many huge life changes in the span of a few months. I got engaged and graduated from college, and friends moved away. There were some difficult family deaths for both of us too. And so the album became an outlet to process and feel those emotions that came along with huge transition. I knew I really wanted to move forward, but also was consciously aware I was losing a lot too.
Lowndes: Along with nostalgia, the album title, Stills, feels like pertinent snapshots of a moving frame. And many of your song titles include dates—are those significant?
Sara: Yeah, absolutely. So many of those songs tie right in with huge moments in my life. And the dates essentially mark the day when the song idea happened—like ‘Stills, September 19th,’ which is the day when making this record was put into motion. And I wrote the first few lines of ‘Katy, September 26th,’ in Rocky Mountain National Park on that day.
Lowndes: Is there one song on the album that means the most to you?
Sara: Oh man, that’s hard. ‘Stills’ is definitely up there, because it allowed all of this to happen. But I have to say ‘High Caliber Man’ is a really special song. It’s about my grandfather who passed away a few months ago, and it was the last song we ended up doing. I wanted the acoustics to sound a little like Bon Iver’s 29 #Strafford APTS, and I love the way it came together. The chorus is like a prayer, about the difficulties of being sad and seeing the strength it takes to stay put in the midst of the hard things instead of bailing and running away.
The day Bradley and I were writing the ending of the song, an incredible woman, Carli, came in to take photos for the album. She ended up telling us about some hard thing she was going through, and actually helped write the line, “give me all you have to grieve.” That song was like the punctuation mark of the album for all of us—Carli, Abe, Bradley, and me—and it just happened really organically.
The day Bradley and I were writing the ending of the song, an incredible woman, Carly, came in to take photos for the album. She ended up telling us about some hard thing she was going through, and actually helped write the line, “give me all you have to grieve.”
Lowndes: Since you’ve released Stills, what’s next for Davis?
Sara: That’s a good question! Bradley and I are currently living in different cities, and he actually just released some solo music as well, which is amazing! I’m figuring out being married, and he’s finishing school, so we don’t have anything immediate planned, but we’re just trying to hold it loosely and praying the right people hear it. We would love to tour, though! We really want to do the album justice and be able to play all of it live, but with everything going on, we’re trying to be patient with the timing.
Lowndes: This is my last question, something I hope to ask everyone I interview: what is one word to describe what you hope this next year or so will look like? It can be musically or personally!
Sara: For me it all rolls into one: I would really love to see vision. I see so much life ahead of me, and I would love to have more vision for what might be next for Davis, and I also want to see growth in my music, and also in myself as I live in a new city for an indefinite period of time. So vision and growth go hand in hand, as I keep moving forward.
Featured image courtesy of Jake Dapper & Courtney Leinfelder; second image courtesy of Carli Rene.
About the author
Lowndes Commander recently graduated from Clemson University; it was a big trial of finding what she loves and going after it. What she loves is writing, music, and the way they deliver truths and project honest thoughts. She hopes to spend her life advocating for them!