by Alex Kushner
A new full-length record of the late singer-songwriter’s previously unreleased material. With Magik*Magik Orchestra. On 180g Vinyl.
About this project
The Story of Volary
Volary is the musical project of Australian-born San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Samantha Lien. In 2009 Samantha began recording her first studio album, Out of Shadows. It was a diverse mix of musical genres built on Samantha’s complex melodies and emotional lyrics. Just as the album neared completion, Samantha’s life took a tragic turn as she was diagnosed with breast cancer. But even cancer wasn’t enough to keep Sam from her goal.
She completed the album while undergoing multiple surgeries and aggressive treatment. While in remission, she performed her material as a rock trio with Sam Mollica on bass and Josh Jones on drums, winning the regional battle of the bands competition as well as getting glowing reviews in the indie music circles. Her songwriting took on playful, hopeful themes as she started collecting new work for a second album.
But in 2012 Samantha’s cancer returned and metastasized. Still she kept writing, now wrestling with the life-changing experience of undergoing repeated cancer treatment as a young adult and the uncertainty of her future. Samantha lost her battle with cancer on November 1, 2013, leaving behind a very heartbroken life partner (me) and an unfinished album.
The Story of “The Light”
In early 2014, I met with Laura Dean, the producer/engineer who worked with Samantha on her first album at Tiny Telephone, determined to finish the album Sam had conceived. Together we enlisted the incredibly talented Minna Choi who, with the help of her Magik*Magik Orchestra, transformed Samantha’s bare vocal tracks, home demos, and sketches into complete and beautifully detailed pieces.
The final album is a powerful emotional journey through a complex musical landscape that bridges rock, classical, and environmental music – a truly unique work that reflects the complexity of life, death, suffering, and hope. It mirrors the complexity that resides within the soul of an artist struggling creatively and physically with the largest of questions.
This is the record that you will help complete when you make a pledge to this Kickstarter campaign and we are making a limited run 180 gram high fidelity vinyl pressing because a project this special deserves a special physical treatment.
“The Light” is a musical journey comprised of 13 tracks, each crafted and put in place with purpose to complete the the listener’s trip along the arc of the album.
While all the songs you’ll hear on this album were conceived and performed by Samantha, it could never have been realized without the heartfelt contributions of a large number of incredibly talented individuals. Producer and engineer Laura Dean (Kronos Quartet, Dead Kennedys, Amanda Palmer), music director, conductor and pianist Minna Choi (Magik*Magik Orchestra, Death Cab for Cutie, Pop-Up Magazine), drummer and percussionist Jason Slota (Thao and The Get Down Stay Down), bassist Jamie Riotto (Geographer, Charlie Hunter), guitarist extraordinaire Matthew Heulitt (MCH Trio, MoeTar), B3 tamer Wil Blades, Tiny Telephone Studio master and vinyl wizard John Vanderslice, violinists Liana Berube, Stephanie Bibbo, Alisa Rose, and Philip Brezina, violists Jory Fankuchenn and Elyse Ader, cellists Michelle Kwon and Erin Wang, trumpet player John Freeman, horn player Alex Camphouse, trombone & tuba player Ryan Black, oboist Jesse Barrett, clarinetist Natalie Parker, and flautist Jennifer. Piper Payne and Michael Romanowski of Coast Mastering who made sure the vinyl sounds the way it should. You were all amazing!
Why make a vinyl?
This is a question I got asked by several people. Why not just put it up on iTunes? I think even if you don’t own a turntable, having a tangible object representing this project, this journey – something you can hold in your hands, look at, and physically interact with makes vinyl the perfect medium. The vinyl comes with a download card, so you can get the highest resolution MP3 files to play on your smartphone or computer. If you DO own a turntable, you should MOST DEFINITELY get the vinyl! This album was purposely created to be played from beginning to end. And vinyl really lends itself to making that experience shine. The first track on side two echoes the first track on side one, as if a reminder where you began the journey when you flip the record over. Some tracks transition into others with no breaks. So, playing this record on a turntable would be an experience, much like seeing a movie in a theater as opposed to watching it on Netflix.
We believe strongly in this album and in its ability to impact the listener. Thank you for supporting this effort today with your contribution. We can’t wait for you to hear it for yourself!
Risks and challenges
The record is mixed and mastered. It sounds amazing. We have created a beautiful jacket design that will dazzle you. As with any physical manufacturing project, there is a small risk that something might go wrong and the product is not completed within the expected timeframe. I will keep everyone updated throughout this process and will promptly answer any questions. This project was created out of love and I want the love it bears to carry all the way through!