Mipso, a Chapel Hill quartet, released its newest album last October following an odd process of production.
Bearing the same name as the band, "Mipso" is the sixth album by the indie Americana group.
It soon gained notoriety and was featured on podcasts such as NPR’s "All Songs Considered" and "Artist Profile," a podcast by UNC graduate David Jurman.
Jurman decided to revive the podcast he recorded in his days in Chapel Hill for UNC’s WXYC radio station. He interviewed artists like Billy Joel and Ozzy Osbourne, but said he wanted to use the podcast to continue shining a light on talent. He featured Mipso on the first episode of the revived podcast last fall.
“I'm not interested in heritage artists from 30 or 40 years ago, but artists that I think deserve exposure and deserve to be brought to a larger audience,” Jurman said. “Those are the people I'm focusing on, and I thought, what better group to do it than Mipso?”
Jurman said the maturity in the songwriting allowed for the album to excel.
“This is their best album,” Jurman said. “It is absolutely fantastic. It is one of the best albums that came out last year. It is clearly their best album of their career.”
Band members Jacob Sharp and Libby Rodenbough said that one factor of the "Mipso" album’s greatness had to do with the length of time the band spent creating it. Sharp said it was the longest amount of time the band had given itself to write and record an album.
After intentionally spending over a year working on the album, the band was set for a 2020 release tour and for "Mipso" to come out in the spring.
Rodenbough, the band's fiddle player and a vocalist, said the release experience was different in many ways, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It still kind of feels like we haven't released the album, because you always form such a relationship with the songs playing them live,” Rodenbough said.
The band held three virtual concerts this past week as a part of their “Living Room Tour.”
Sharp, the band's mandolin player and a vocalist, said it was fun to play live, especially considering that people from around the world tuned in.
“To realize how many different locations we were playing to people in, like Sweden and just down the block, and everyone tuning in on different time zones — it was cool little community moment,” Sharp said.
Although faced with challenges, Sharp said there have been some silver linings to creating music remotely due to the pandemic. He sees the pandemic as a time of potential growth in the way American society views art and culture as they embrace the new normal.
“We don't want to go back to a place where our music’s success is tied to how well we do social media, or what type of industry team we have,” Sharp said. “We're kind of similarly trying to take a step back and say, ‘What would be the new normal that would maybe be more satisfying and emotionally, both for us as the creators and then also as we share with this community around the world?’”
With COVID-19 restrictions halting the continuation of live performances, members of the band took time to educate themselves on political movements that swept the nation over the summer.
Despite the oddity the pandemic has created, Rodenbough said they have felt fortunate that as musicians in the pandemic, they have not faced large financial difficulties and have been able to continue working on music.
“We don't see ourselves as the victim,” Sharp said. “And how lucky are we that we still got to make this music.”
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