River of Diamonds’ Touch of life

Michelle Elrick and Michael Belyea marry poetry and pop with their new project

“There’s nothing more mystical and wondrous than your everyday life,” say Elrick and Belyea. - MICHELLE ELRICK
“There’s nothing more mystical and wondrous than your everyday life,” say Elrick and Belyea.

River of Diamonds w/Stewart Legere
Saturday, April 20, 7:30pm
The Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen Street, $15

In the middle of an otherwise steady conversation about their music, Michael Belyea and Michelle Elrick find themselves at a loss for words. Discussing their shares appreciation for the natural world, Belyea remembers last week's ubiquitous unveiling of the first-ever photograph of a black hole. Elrick grins and looks up towards the ceiling; Belyea's eyes dart around the room before he finds a way to continue: "There's nothing more mystical and wondrous than just your everyday life."

The change in subject is surprising but not entirely tangential: River of Diamonds, the couple's new pop-poetry project, operates with a similar sense of awe and a parallel skywards gaze. Photon Touch, their debut album, sets nine of Elrick's poems to verdant production by Belyea. With subjects ranging from celestial bodies to the wonder of the smallest scientific phenomena, Photon Touch illuminates the magic to be found in opening yourself to the world.

While the pair—who are married—had been considering a collaboration for awhile, Elrick says that the idea was cemented last summer when she heard a record by Brian Eno and poet Rick Holland. "These were songs," she remembers thinking. For Belyea, it was a "no-brainer": He'd amassed dozens of musical ideas, and finding ways to accompany his wife's poems was the perfect opportunity to flesh them out. "At that point, it became true songwriting," says Elrick. "The lyrics and the music were really influencing one another."

River of Diamonds celebrates the release of Photon Touch and an accompanying chapbook at the Bus Stop this Saturday. Elrick and Belyea want the show to be fun—but they also hope it inspires moments of pause and attention for listeners. "We all have access to the experience of being alive," says Elrick. "What do these poems have to say about being awake, aware, present in the world and alive to our own experience?"

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