Shuffle: By Light We Loom Delivers Folk Storytelling in 'Indie-Pop Wrapping'

Oct 25, 2018

Husband-and-wife indie-pop duo By Light We Loom has made a name for itself with creative electronic beats, lively performances and a sound that serves as a stark contrast from the members’ previous music project.

Transitioning from indie-folk to indie-pop
Shanna Delaney and Eric Ling led the six-piece folk band Bethesda for seven years before it dissolved in 2014. Unsure of where to take their music career next, the couple reinvented themselves and developed a new style.

By Light We Loom debuted its first EP, “The Ignition,” in 2015, followed by “Caught in the Tide” in 2016. Tracks from the latter EP achieved national radio play, reached the Top 100 of College Radio Charts and were featured in episodes of the PBS program “Roadtrip Nation.”

'We are still storytellers. We just put it into indie-pop wrapping'

“That’s one of the things I’m most proud of for Shanna and I, is that we actually were able to establish ourselves as a brand-new band with a completely different sound and grow a fan base and release records again,” Delaney said. 

Based in Kent, Bethesda’s star was on the rise as audiences resonated with the band’s dramatic, intense roots sound. The group performed at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, SXSW and more.

Moving on from that phase in their lives to a music career that drifted into a more pop-focused direction came somewhat natural, as Delaney and Ling maintained the storytelling aspects of their songwriting that they had fine-tuned in their former band.  

Evolving into an electronic band
Opting to try something more experimental than pressing on as an acoustic, singer-songwriter duo, Ling locked himself in a room and began learning how to write electronic music for By Light We Loom.

Delaney, a trained vocalist, and Ling shared a love for different genres of music and spent time together simply listening before diving into the electronic, indie-pop sound themselves.

Delaney said the couple can spend a significant amount of time, often up to two months, writing a single song for their current project.

“It’s so hard to explain electronic music to people,” Delaney said. “I don’t think people realize how hard [it is]. We’ll sit in our living room for probably, like, a couple hours and just listen to hundreds of drum sounds.”

'We're taking this dive together'

Maintaining a focused songwriting process
The duo will release its third EP, “Canopy,” this month. Tracks like “The First Goodbye” and “Alive in The Cove” sound like entirely danceable numbers, but the lyrics contain deeper, more introspective aspects.

“We are still storytellers, so we haven’t abandoned the folk element of what we do,” Ling said. “We just put it into indie-pop wrapping. Our stories always come from profound experiences.”

Ling said the sudden passing of his father two years ago inspired three songs off of the new release.

“That brought a lot of healing to us,” Ling said. “But they still have that happy, indie-poppy vibe, for the most part.”

Performing together as a married couple
Ling said when he and Delaney first met, they shared a love of music and decided they wanted to pursue writing and performing together.

However, his lack of formal training meant the couple had to strike a balance between their personal lives and work together as musicians.

“It was like water and oil — it didn’t quite mix,” Ling said. “Now, over time, we’ve had to learn how to be honest with each other and create music that we both love.”

He added that communication and looking ahead in the same direction helps the couple balance their music lifestyles with their careers and committed relationship with one another.

“You have to communicate,” Ling said. “You have to be honest about this thing you really, really care about. I think that’s a part of being married too. Like we’re taking this dive together.”

Balancing careers and their craft
Ling and Delaney both work full time as teachers.

Delaney said when the duo performed with Bethesda, they spent a lot of time on the road chasing their dreams as successful musicians, and the work-life balance became difficult.

“We would teach all week, and then sometimes we would drive out of state, then drive all the way back, then we would be at the bar grading papers,” Delaney said.

She added that the pair learned from their experiences touring exhaustively with the indie-folk band and now focus more on the writing aspect in By Light We Loom.

“We’re mostly just focusing on the music and writing music that we love,” Delaney said.