Heat Speak singer/songwriter Dario Ré used his time cooped up at home to meticulously craft his new solo album, Holy Moon

click to enlarge Dreads but no dread. - IRA GARDNER PHOTO
Ira Gardner photo
Dreads but no dread.

As I walk up to Dario Ré's house, he greets me from the backyard. After opening the gate, the frontman for the local indie-folk group Heat Speak shows me around the green space. The yard is sprawling since there's no fence between his home and his neighbor's house (because it's his mom's house). There's plenty of planter spots, a greenhouse, and an area for a dozen or so free-range chickens. The bohemian charm doesn't dissipate as we enter the abode. It's a very lived-in artist's space without the mess of a 20-something artist crashpad. An array of rugs line the floor, leaves from houseplants cascade along the walls, myriad instruments seem to be strewn deliberately within arm's reach at any moment: guitars, ukes, drums, mandolins, a piano.

It's often said a city can be a character unto itself in certain films. If we grant that, then this abode is certainly a character on Ré's new solo album, Holy Moon. Coinciding with pandemic shut-in times, this is the songwriter's first deep dive into home recording. As someone who pulls inspiration from his literal surroundings — whittling down songs in the same comfy places where he teaches guitar, piano and songwriting lessons — the space offered an intriguing, if stark, contrast to the organized methodology of recording past Heat Speak and solo records in studios. It was far more a process of tinkering and exploring the space, figuring out things like how a certain bookshelf was good for diffusing vocal reverb. Even the quirks of the home's temperature factored into the album's sound.

"A lot of this sound [the click-y crackling of the wood stove] is in this recording," says Ré as we sit in the room on a mildly chilly morning. "Because I hate the furnace. Like, the hum to me is like one of the worst things to have in a sound recording. I always try to get the coals down before recording, but I'd always have to have heat off, and most of this was [recorded] in the winter, so I'd have to kind of like time it all: turn the heat off, make sure the coals are settled, and work for like an hour before I gotta feed the fire or turn on the heat."

Having instruments in every nook and cranny of the home recording space also helped with Ré's incredibly direct and tactile creative process.

"Musically, instruments themselves inspire me a lot," Ré says. "If I grab a different instrument, even an instrument I don't play, I think it's super inspiring. So I find something that I can play on it, oftentimes it's a melody that I would never think to play on an instrument that I'm more proficient at. And so that will spark something, and maybe I'll bring that melody over to an instrument I do know how to play and build upon it."

Holy Moon presents Ré's earthy, rooty folk-poetry songwriting in a more stripped-down setting compared to the full chamber-pop arrangements of Heat Speak. Most songs center on restrained guitar or piano parts, and many feel like soft romantic odes drifting on the wind of starlight summer nights. But there are also spots for rap-esque gibberish ("Chippy Green Grass"), Balkan folk-esque sounds ("Forever an Echo") and even an audio cameo by his backyard chickens.

In addition to music, Ré plies his trade in visual arts realms, too. He's had many gallery shows displaying his pinpoint-defying mixes of painting, sculpture and mixed-media works. (He's also the type who stresses how much the photographs by Ira Gardner in the CD booklet for Holy Moon mean to the full, tangible creative package.) In his brain, there's very little delineation between the mindsets needed to create music and physical art.

"They're very intertwined for me. I'd say the overlap is this, this space of curiosity and exploration," Ré says. "I put myself in the same kind of realm of just trying to stay out of my own way and be really open to what can happen."

As part of the artistic journey, Ré started a patron program on his website — DarioRe.com — about a year and a half ago. For $5 to $25 per month, supporters can get access to his quarterly Mystic Homestead Seasonal Live Stream Concert Series, a personal newsletter, unreleased music, exclusive videos, entries into drawings for artwork and more. So far, it's been an uplifting experience for Ré.

"I love the kind of unconditional support feeling, especially because I have so many different creative outlets," Ré says. "It's like, 'Hey Dario, I believe in your system, I believe in your vision.' That sensation really fuels me. The patron model allows this, like, holistic view. Like, I'm in the garden, supporting myself mentally and even physically with the food I'm growing. And that is directly fueling my creativity, which is then directly helping people through all the way that art does."

Ré's goal is pure creative autonomy, and he feels like the patron model offers a roadmap to get there.

"I am really strongly trying to push to a sustainable realm where [patronage] can be it, and then I can just produce records and give them out," Ré says. "That would be the dream: If I never sold another thing and just shared everything I made."

To celebrate the arrival of Holy Moon, Ré will play an intimate album release show on Saturday, May 7, at the Magic Lantern Theatre. In addition to unique stripped-down arrangements of the solo songs augmented by his Heat Speak bandmates, the event will also feature an opening set by Systir (an acoustic folk quartet from Sandpoint comprised of two pairs of sisters) and the premieres of two music videos on the big screen.

After that, Ré will hit the road, but oddly not in support of this new album. As timing would have it, Heat Speak will be embarking on their biggest tour to date — and eight-show jaunt across Washington and Oregon — the following week.

It's an exciting time in Ré's life, but at this precise moment he's justifiably content with the warm creative trappings of home. ♦

Dario Ré: Holy Moon Album Release Show • Sat, May 7 at 6 pm • sold out • All ages • Magic Lantern Theatre • 25 W. Main St. • magiclanternonmain.com • 509-209-2383

Spokane Symphony Pops 3: Havana Nights @ Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox

Sat., May 21, 8 p.m.
  • or

About The Author

Seth Sommerfeld

Seth Sommerfeld is the Music Editor for The Inlander, and an alumnus of Gonzaga University and Syracuse University. He has written for The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Fox Sports, SPIN, Collider, and many other outlets. He also hosts the podcast, Everyone is Wrong...