the arms of morpheus
There’s something magical about those transition times between waking and sleep, darkness and light. We’re drawn to impressionistic soundscapes, so we set out to create a collection of soothing, evocative piano pieces that we could use to sweet-talk sleep and to charm ourselves awake.
— isaac horn
We’re all about using sound to create space for rest and reflection. In our compositions we’re pretty much fixated on that elemental space between dusk and dawn.
— ella horn

st. dawn in slumber

The first really deep conversation Ella (McKelvey) and Isaac Horn had was in the key of E-flat. Hardly knowing each other, they found themselves seated at neighboring pianos in a Nashville practice room. When one of them started playing a spontaneous melody, the other hesitated and then, taking a presumptive chance, began to play off of it, expanding the melody and folding it into another of their own making. The two can’t really remember how long that first instrumental spilling of secrets and emotion lasted, but it was personal and magical enough that both felt awkward and vulnerable and enchanted by the end of it.

Married a few months later, the two began writing and recording as the instrumental entity st. dawn in slumber. Now signed to the Vohnic Music label and produced by Vian Izak, the duo made an early decision to play to their strengths by composing separately, then bringing their pieces together for blending and collaboration.

“Isaac imagines fully-realized, mind-blowing pieces of music,” Ella explains, “and then proceeds to build on piano what he’s already heard in his head. I come to the piano with nothing, a beggar searching for ideas. I’m chasing emotion and melody through an interactive dialogue with the keys and strings and pedals, waiting for something to reveal itself. I find ideas in the physicality of the instrument. We end up in similar places, but we take completely different paths to get there.”

Mining the same piano-based, musical veins as artist-composers like Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds, st. dawn in slumber are currently recording a 3-EP set of dreamy, contemplative compositions loosely inspired by the Greek mythological stories of Astraeus, Eos, and the Anemoi.

Photography by Fraser Stewart

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