Music

Closer Look Summer Indie Artist Spotlight: Cicada Rhythm

Athens-based Cicada Rhythm joins for the latest installment of Closer Look’s Summer Indie Music Series.
Credit Emilia Brock / WABE
Audio version of this story here.

It’s a name that’s hard to forget: Cicada Rhythm. Together, the words bring to mind a pastoral Georgia scene, flush with green fields and the ominous sound of that infamous Southern insect. And it’s a name that perfectly describes the music of the Athens based duo, says vocalist and bassist Andrea DeMarcus.

“We really wanted a word that would remind people of the South, and of nature. And ‘cicada’ — it was perfect,” DeMarcus said.

>> Check out more from Closer Look’s Summer Indie Music Series here.

The musical imagery that Cicada Rhythm creates does justice to their roots. They describe their 2015 self-titled debut album as a “12-song collection that slides easily between folk, rock, blues and Americana.”

WABE listeners got a taste of that when Cicada Rhythm joined us in-studio for the latest installment of Closer Look’s Summer Indie Music Series.

DeMarcus got together with guitarist Dave Kirslis after graduating from the Juilliard School in New York. Closer Look host Rose Scott asked her what it was like to study at Juilliard.

“Challenging,” she laughs. “I loved being in the orchestra. That was my thing – playing with a hundred people at the same time was so special to me. The discipline was another story.”

DeMarcus says after Juilliard, she began writing songs.

“Because I needed that creativity outlet for myself and my being. I needed that,” DeMarcus said.

Meanwhile, Kirslis was riding trains all across the state of Georgia.

“I was really interested in folk music, and there’s lots of train songs, right?” Kirslis said. “I decided I should know what I was singing about, so I started hopping freight trains from Atlanta to Athens.”

One day he was heading back to Atlanta and needed a ride home from the station. He called his friend at the time, who brought DeMarcus along.

“We were friends for a long time and we never really considered playing music with each other,” says Kirslis. “Because I was really into roots music and she was off at Julliard.”

But once they got together to play music, the connection was undeniable. As proof of that early symbiosis, Cicada Rhythm treated us to the first song they ever wrote, called “Do Not Destroy.”

“It’s a super beautiful song about how you need to keep your places special — your green spaces protected,” DeMarcus tells Rose Scott.

The lyrics of the second verse read:

“Long before the roads and the busy highways
Before the lights and concrete that fill it up today
Before the plastic promises that sold us what was free
I remember a better side of this country”

Whether studying in New York or jumping trains across the countryside, Georgia is still home for Cicada Rhythm. And while they’re hoping to achieve more success and recognition, it’s really all about two simple things: life and music.

“You kind of know going into it that it’s not an easy road,” Kirslis said. “But for me, it’s just about getting around and meeting people and seeing the country – that’s what I really enjoy. As long as I can keep her happy, and keep the lights on and keep the van going, that’s all I really want.”

Fittingly, Cicada Rhythm just released their second full length record “Everywhere I Go.” And they embark this week on a 20 date tour across the U.S. – you can find tour dates and tickets here.