Avant-pop duo LEYA headline Orlando's In-Between Series for an early show on Tuesday

click to enlarge Leya - Photo courtesy the artist
Photo courtesy the artist
Experimental and wondrously ethereal harp/violin duo LEYA are on tour right now, and as you're reading reading this, the NYC-based duo of Adam Markiewicz (violin) and Marilu Donovan (harp) are in Florida for a handful of gigs. Miami and Gainesville ticked off the list, on Tuesday it's Orlando's turn to host the group. LEYA will be playing an early show at CityArts as part of the always well-curated In-Between Series, and it's an early one, so you have no excuse to miss it (even if you've going to another show later).

The duo thrive on confounding expectations — playing lush, near-ambient music at noise shows, soundtracking a film by rapper Brooke Candy for Pornhub, turning musical tools more associated with classical music towards heavenly pop on newest album Flood Dream. It's a thrilling journey to watch and hear.

LEYA's travels next bring them to the In-Between Series at CityArts in downtown Orlando on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 (SHARP!). Cover is a mere $5. Do not sleep, or even nap, on this show.

Orlando Weekly caught up with Donovan and Markiewicz the day after their first show in Washington D.C. late last week …

Is getting back out on the road like … is it just muscle memory or does it seem a little different now?

AM: Well, you know, we we had the benefit of playing a number of shows in New York. We played our first show back in August. So we've been able to have the beautiful experience of playing live and we're blessed to have some really, really nice New York shows this year.

The thing about touring is it's like this interesting. You can get to sort of see how, how the music is reaching people … Each city around the country, especially in the U.S., is so interesting for touring because it really is all these different little pockets of things that are actually quite different. … Each place, each gig is really a reflection of the art scene that's there, and who's doing interesting things. The gig we're playing in Orlando is through Timucua and that's a great resource available specifically to Orlando. But then some cities we go to, we're basically playing raves, shows that look almost like hardcore shows, and last night was an outdoor show.

It really is very special, just kind of going around to these cities and seeing how the music is reaching people, and seeing where it fits within the context of each kind of local culture.

I am loving the diverse mix of opening acts I'm seeing on the show flyers on your Instagram. It seems to speak to a sort of openness and curiosity in the wider underground right now.

MD: That's definitely what Adam and I are into. I can't really imagine doing a full tour of just one genre of shows. … I love playing shows like that. I think the diversity is so key and finding a connection between audience members that may not think that they would like our music.

AM: We're sort of like misfits in any world. You know? We have this background as classical musicians, though we took  very different paths to that. But … we found that [our music] works best at like a party or kind of, situation where people are really just there to enjoy themselves. I think the concern for us is over-relegating it to this sort of institutional, experimental world that actually like exists as a barrier to a lot of people when they just go to just enjoy music. We want to collaborate and work with all sorts of different people and we really want to play shows that are connected all over as much as possible.

Can you talk about some of the challenges of touring with the instruments you use?

MD: I mean, I think we're used to it. At first I was like, "Oh, shit, we have this harp that we're lugging around." But to be honest, you just throw it in the car, like whatever. It's just one instrument that's kind of cumbersome and annoying to carry around. And I think we've fine-tuned it to where it's not too bad. Adam's the one carrying it around though, so …

AM: Honestly if you compare this band to bands carrying around half-stacks and heavy amps and a bunch of stuff, we take up a lot less space and we set up very quickly. It's always funny to talk to like rock promoters about backline stuff like that, because we just, we just have our instruments recording into a DI and that's it, you know? So it's, in some ways we have it really easy. There's just two of us.

MD: It's not as as terrible as the full-sized concert harp …

AM: Concert harps would be much harder.

MD: And much more delicate.

AM: This harp can be carried by one person. It's been into all sorts of weird situations.

Would you mind talking a little bit about your collaborative process in terms of composition?

AM: The music that we make when it's just Marilu and I tends to start with the harp, because we do have this tuning system that is rather specific. And then we'll sort of work our way out from there, but it's a very … we really work together on everything. It's not a group where there's a lot of remote work happening and it happens in a room with two people working together. Sometimes things happen very quickly, and then it can also be very tedious. We can go over very little, small things over and over and over. But there's different functions as far as how it works collaboratively, which tend to be kind of in service of what what's going to be best for that work.

Was there sort of an "aha!" moment for you all early on when you were starting to write write music or you've just played together?

MD: I think the first time we played together it was very apparent that it was easy for us to work together. And I think … I don't even think it was a particular moment. I think we wouldn't have continue doing it if it didn't feel that way.

AM: Really LEYA was very easy. We wrote a couple of songs and it felt very natural and we played a couple shows and they were very good. And then very early on, we worked with Pornhub and Brooke Candy and it quickly became a … a much bigger time investment as well.

Have you played much in Florida much before and do you have any expectations particularly?

MD: We love Florida! I'm from Texas, so Texas is my favorite place, but Florida is my second-favorite place. I know Adam loves Florida, but I really love Florida. We have played in Florida many times, and we are most looking forward to the beach — it's already cold in New York! Everyone is just like chill and and it's warm and the vibes are good.

AM: We usually play a lot of shows in Florida on most tours. There's just enough going on for it to happen. Miami is cool, Gainesville has always been very good. We have friends in Orlando that we typically go see and actually  Tonstartssbandht, who I lived with for years, Florida natives, we have a connection to them. And we've toured Florida with them before actually. Florida is one of those places that speaks to both of us. Florida's weird in a really good way for us.

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