BioGreat Northern: The name evokes a feeling of a place and time in which . . . to dream, perhaps, to get away from it all, or away from oneself. It's late afternoon, strolling into night. There's a slight breeze but you're warm in your coat, or bundled in cotton as you gaze out the window...
An appropriately evocative soundtrack for all this - widescreen grand nudging fuzzy intimate - is something akin to what Solon Bixler and Rachel Stolte sought when they formed Great Northern. The two longtime friends had often talked about making music together and Bixler eventually approached Stolte with material he'd been developing quietly.
"Rachel and I had known each other for about seven years," says Bixler, "and I was touring and playing a lot with this four-track on the road with me, just writing songs."
"We had similar tastes in music," says Stolte. "I was taking a break from being in a band, and one night he gave me all these tapes he'd been working on and said, `Do you want to play piano and sing on these?' And I was like,`Yeah!' We went back and forth from my four-track to his for six/seven months and then finally got in the studio together and started recording."
After juggling various lineups, Bixler and Stolte settled on a satisfying equation when they nabbed drummer Davey Latter and bassist Ashley Dzerigian. "We all traveled in the same circle of friends so we've known Davey for a long time," explains Bixler. "It's like having a member of your family join your band."
Stolte recalls, "It was fate that brought Ashley to us. We met her at a party we didn't even want to go to, and found out she played bass. When we woke the next day, we thought, "Hey, what about Ashley? By then, she'd already learned all our songs."
The thriving L.A music scene proved an invaluable experience in developing Bixler's expertise as a guitarist, composer and arranger, skills that had been nurtured by the influence of his father, a composer and conductor. When it came time to do his own music, he was ready to present a fresh point of view. But he was also prepared to venture beyond the familiar comfort zone and allow for an outsider's perspective.