Who says long-distance relationships never work? For Rachel Staggs and Jessica Bailiff, the opposite seems to be true. In addition to being three albums into her solo career, Bailiff creates otherworldly sounds with Dave Pearce (Flying Saucer Attack) via their transcontinental collaborative project <
>. For Staggs, a member of Experimental Aircraft who's already a presence in the Clairecords fold via her guest appearance on Monster Movie's recent Transistor EP, Eau Claire was seemingly destined to happen."I was a fan of Jessica Bailiff's work back in the late '90s and when I started a 'zine in 2000, she was the first person I wanted to interview, explains Staggs. "When we spoke on the phone, a connection was made-- we realized how much alike we are as people and how parallel our lives were." Bailiff remarks, "Connecting with Rachel was a welcome relief; it's the first time I was able to create musically with a female; it's a different vibe than what I'm used to." The duo's first outing, The Eau Claire EP, was an endeavor born of a wayfaring spirit, shuttling between Staggs‚ and Bailiff's respective provenances in Austin and Toledo. The distance between them could have posed a problem, but "we were really lucky to have time to explore how our sounds combined," Staggs says. "We didn't have a set mood or feeling we wanted to create-- we just wanted to be ourselves." While Bailiff has previously worked with producer Alan Sparhawk (Low, The Black-Eyed Snakes), acclimating to his way of working was a new experience for Staggs. "He's funny, patient and encouraging-- I have a lot of respect for him," she says. "He took the time to get to know me and what makes me tick musically." Bailiff adds, "Alan is the perfect guide in the studio; he challenged us a bit while helping us to solidify our ideas in the finished recording." Though Staggs, a lifelong Texan, has yet to warm up to her compatriot's Ohio winter weather, she insists that "meeting a female who makes music you connect with and then actually becoming friends was enough for me," the deep personal and artistic planes on which the two connected indicates that The Eau Claire EP is merely the beginning of what's sure to be a long and fruitful musical bond. As for the 1300 miles that separate them - well, absence does make the heart grow fonder. As Staggs summarizes, "I feel like I have a friend for life and an amazing musical partner I can trust."
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