By: Gillian Castro
From being college roommates to a national tour, Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke, of the duo Penny and Sparrow, have created quite a name for themselves. What started as singing cover songs with 11 guys in a house has turned into multiple albums and a major following.
“We started literally as catharsis, as therapy trying to write music for ourselves,” Baxter said.
Once things started to get more official for this combo, the time came to decide on a name for their band. After testing out names inspired by various sports teams and many shows of trial and error, they finally decided on the pseudonym already used by their roommate, Penny and Sparrow.
The soft alternative indie-folk mix music by Penny and Sparrow is a gentle and beautiful listening experience. One thing that both Baxter and Jahnke seem to agree on is how they want people to experience their art.
“I want our music to be exactly what people need it to be,” Jahnke said.
In response to this, Baxter echoed his sentiments.
“What a beautiful thing to be able to say about a song,” Baxter said. “We hope this record is whatever you need it to be in the time that you need it.”
This is exactly what their newest album Wendigo plans to accomplish. Wendigo was inspired by the band’s interest in horror novels, as well as a fascination of fear and deciding what is worth fearing.
“[This album] shines a flashlight into the dark corner of things that we are scared of and asks ourselves, is what you see worth being afraid of, and if not, live differently, and if yes, then live the way you ought to,” Baxter said.
The duo’s long-term goal is to eventually write a musical. There are hints to this within all of their albums, including one song on every album named after a Les Miserables character. Their interest in storytelling is shown throughout the entire album Wendigo, but mostly through the songs “Visiting Pt.1,” “Smitten Pt. 2,” and “Moniker Pt. 3”. These songs are written from the perspective of death.
“I love that this is scattered throughout the record in multiple different installations, but it’s just one thing, one facet of fear that we engage with throughout the record” Baxter said.
Penny and Sparrow is always looking to evolve their music, and this is one thing that will be happening throughout this tour.
“You get to learn the songs in a different way when you play in front of a crowd,” Jahnke said.
Every time their songs are played for an audience, it’s a chance for the songs to change and grow. The songs take on lives of their own. Each live experience by this band is different from the one before and will be different from the next, which is just one thing that makes this group so interesting.
Although they aren’t an internationally known band, Penny and Sparrow takes pride in being a “DIY, grassroots band that is entirely supported by its fan base.” In regard to this album and their fans, Baxter and Jahnke said “You’ve knitted yourselves into the root of this very DIY thing that we’re doing that we didn’t intend to do when we started music. It was just a hobby. So thank you for coming. Stick with us. We’re going to keep making music if you’ll let us.”
Photo by Prestley Bramlett