It’s rare to find performers willing to place their entire selves into creating music. But those connected in niche music communities in Tulsa know that both Annie Ellicott and Mark Kuykendall are a couple of rarities. Already an accomplished singer in the Tulsa jazz scene, Ellicott has been finishing her collaborative album, The Lonesome Goldmine, with fellow Oklahoma native Kuykendall, owner of the indie record label Unknown Tone Records.
“Working with Mark was the best thing that ever happened to me.” Ellicott pauses, smiling. “I surprised myself by saying that! But it really was - the best thing in my life.”
As we sat down in Kuykendall’s studio, a trove of analog synthesizers, antique film methods, and original paintings, he rolled out the floor plans of a new studio he and his wife are building, nestled away on native land.
“So you can see the downtown skyline, and it feels like it’s completely hidden,” Kuykendall says. “You see all those hills start on the northwest.”
In fact, one could cite the Oklahoma landscape as a collaborator on Lonesome Goldmine, as the two explained how the land inspired the album’s emotive soundscapes.
“It would be hard to underestimate how much of [our sound] has been shaped by Oklahoma,” Ellicott says. “We both take a lot of our more abstract sound ideas from what we’ve heard in Oklahoma. Organic sounds.”
“Oil derricks, trains, crazy storms,” Kuykendall adds.
“Cicadas. Lot’s of cicadas.”
And in tradition of the land-staking pioneer, the pair has claimed a creative voice of their own, combining Ellicott’s jazz and singer-songwriter influences with Kuykendall’s evocative sonic imagery. Each song is hauntingly imaginative with a touch of the metaphysical, masterfully mixed and produced.
“The nature of the album is cinematic,” Ellicott explains. “It’s like headphone music, like good speaker music… we want to present it to people the way we’ve slaved over it all these years.”
“So within grasp – the adjacent possible,” she continues, “is to make a really beautiful movie theater experience to it. We want to make a music video for every song on the album, and we want to create a mobile live theater experience that we could put in any independent movie theater in the world”
And that final vision is within reach, with the first three music videos available on YouTube (shown below) and Vimeo, and a fourth on its way, in collaboration with videographer Joe Cappa. Their videos, much like their sound, explore the surreal – avant-garde blended with film noir, as expansive and isolating as the Oklahoma prairie.
They plan to drop the album September 18th (or 9/18 “for Tulsa love”) with theatrical release parties in October. Until then, you can experience parts of The Lonesome Goldmine through either Ellicott’s or Kuykendall’s websites.
You can also look out for their next video release, Daddy Long Legs, which features collaborative work with renowned electroacoustic audio engineer Orla Wren.
All photos and videos property of Annie Ellicott & Mark Kuykendall 2016 ©