At the Factory, we play music to help set an inspiring tone for our work environment, and sometimes to just get us through the day. At any given time, you will hear a range of genres including folk, classical, rock, country, and independent artists. We don’t usually pick favorites, but The Civil Wars’ sounds are often heard floating through the shelves of organic fabric in the studio.
Joy Williams and John Paul White’s soothing and harmonic melodies have provided the soundtrack to many FULL workdays. The songs are sometimes bluesy, sometimes haunting, and always powerful. Their voices simply sound natural and right together. Perhaps we’re partial to them—not only because of their poetic music—but also because they are rooted in the Shoals; The Civil Wars are a vital part of our artistic community. But, we also feel connected to the band because of their approach to making, or “crafting” music.
Upon accepting their Grammy for Best Country/Group Duo, Joy said, “We really are a little D.I.Y. band.” This “DIYness” stems from an enthusiasm toward making + sharing music—similar to how we make + share our patterns and instructions through open sourcing. They have obtained success independent of a major label and with Joy’s husband acting as manager. Using this approach, The Civil Wars have fostered personal connections within the musical community and the listening public. They have sold hundreds of thousands of records solely by word of mouth. More proof: Joy and John Paul grace the cover of Billboard with the caption, “The DIY Story of the Year…”
In his SFA talk, Richard McCarthy noted that music is a cultural asset that must be kept authentic. More than just a song or album, these pieces of work represent a craft. I believe that many musicians—like The Civil Wars—are also part of a movement that has origins in the 1970s punk rock era, one that retracts from popular consumerist culture by ‘doing-it-themselves’. Allowing for independent creation + work to evolve outside of corporate branding is crucial for sustainable growth. To us, it seems that designers, artists, gardeners, and city planners are beginning to follow suit.
…It’s not Alabama clay
That gives my trembling hands away
Please forgive me father…
(The Civil Wars — Barton Hollow)