There’s a ghost-like quality to Marissa Nadler’s 2016 release Bury Your Name that’s perfect for fall and winter in Eugene. Throughout the record, the strings of her acoustic guitar are like brittle icicles while the sound of violins envelops the music like breath on a cold morning. And Nadler’s murmuring voice, trapped in an echo box, quivers and quakes.
There are obvious reference points on the album to mainstream ’60s-era folk as well as the much- mythologized sub-genre from that time, now known as freak folk. There’s also plenty of ’80s goth-rock atmosphere and the bedroom-music quality of Elliott Smith. The track “I Don’t Want to Know” is punctuated by what could be the click of a tape player, as if Nadler is recording direct to analog, all by herself, late at night.
But Nadler says she doesn’t consider genre much when writing music.
“Sure, influences seep in to everyone and what comes out is some kind of an amalgamation,” she tells EW via email. “I aim to write songs from a pure place, with meaning and soul, and aim for genre not to be part of my writing process.”
She adds: “I got heavily steeped in the songwriting of the great ’60s and ’70s writers, but also was into many other eras when I grew up.”
And Nadler admits that bedroom quality is somewhat intentional. “I write the melody first,” she explains. “If it’s compelling enough it becomes words. Most of my songs start with me on guitar. I do a lot of home recording that helps me to create walls and stacks of harmonies pre-studio.”
Performing with Nadler in Eugene is popular Swedish glam-goth band Ghost BC, known for its sinister Skeletor-meets-the-Pope aesthetic. Band members remain anonymous, referred to only as “nameless ghouls.”
Ghost BC is touring in support of 2015’s Meliora, full of metal-style riffs, prog rock, noodling and epic Norse atmosphere. The net effect is a little more Scooby Doo than an actual horror flick, but theatrical darkness will be a fun diversion in mid-October Eugene.
Catch Ghost BC’s Popestar tour with Marissa Nadler 7 pm Saturday, Oct. 15, at McDonald Theatre; $28.75 adv., $32.25 door. All-ages. — William Kennedy