WILMINGTON — Head over to the Castle Street Arts and Antique District this Sunday for free music and your chance to catch the release of a local Wilmington band’s limited-edition cassette tape.
Slow Dance, a musical duo formed by Sarah Royal and Justin Lacy, is celebrating their debut self-titled EP and will be releasing 50 of the limited-edition tapes during their release at Gravity Records, 612 Castle St., this Sunday, Feb. 5.
The release event comes just after the duo released their self-titled EP online on New Year’s Eve. The time is significant for the band because on that day in 2015 both Royal and Lacy met and began collaborating, writing and improvising songs together.
Lacy said that shortly after meeting Royal, he listened to her music project “D’est Roy” and loved her voice. At the time, he was writing new music and hoped she would sing along with it. In realizing one song in particular, Lacy said he was having some trouble with it, but he played it for Royal and had her improvise over the song; that song became the first song of Slow Dance, called “Not Hard to Find.”
“I write music in order to create an experience that can be shared with performers and listeners alike. It’s so exhilarating to collaborate with others on something original, and then bring it into fruition in front of an audience,” Lacy said. “We both love spending time in nature and we try to channel something bigger than us in our songwriting. It’s so cathartic.”
The two play music together as often as they can. When they first started writing together, they would improvise together at least three times per week. The two describe their yearlong collaboration together for this Slow Dance EP as “organic” and “magical.” The album is dedicated to “collaboration, duality and a lightness of being.”
“We write all our music now by sitting down in front of a microphone with no preconceived notions, and just forming our music organically,” Lacey said. “We just kind of do it on a whim now. We’ll sometimes go to a local brewery, break out a chess board, and then wind up back at my house and just start singing and playing.”
“I beat him at chess a lot and most times, he has to release some emotions through songwriting afterwards,” Royal added jokingly.
While Royal, originally from Hampstead, hasn’t spent much time playing in bands, she continues to work on her solo project D’est Roy, pulling inspiration from mostly female vocalists, such as Billie Holiday and Jessica Pratt. But of her work with Lacy in Slow Dance, Royal said, “it all made sense how we were able to create music in such a sensitive and natural way.”
Lacy, originally from Cape Carteret, moved to the Wilmington area in 2007 to study English and music at UNC-Wilmington, and has played in several bands in area. He started his own group Justin Lacy and the Swimming Machine, and still performs under the name Justin Lacy in a five-piece band, which also includes Royal as a back-up singer.
Although the 6-song EP Slow Dance concludes a moment in time for the duo’s song writing, Royal said she looks forward to more collaboration with Lacy on the musical project.
“We’re just ready to create some new songs and hopefully play in more cities,” she said.
The free event at Gravity Records will run from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, with a special line-up of a mostly female singers. Slow Dance will be joined by musicians Emma Nelson and Sara Beck. Along with mixed drinks and Bloody Mary’s, some light fare will be provided by Rx Restaurant and Bar.