Deer Scout Woodpecker
- North American publicity by Hive Mind PR
- College/Non-Commercial radio by Terrorbird
- Sync licensing by Terrorbird
- Music videos for “Cowboy” and “Synesthesia” available soon
- Facebook boosted posts and targeted Instagram dark posts throughout campaign
- East coast dates surrounding album release. More dates in the works.
- Vinyl includes digital download care
- Kat and Nina
- Peace with the Damage
- Breaking the Rock
Deer Scout’s debut full length Woodpecker is a record about memory and the subconscious. And like an unforgettable dream that keeps you puzzling over its riddles for days, it’s as packed with direct symbols as it is with ruminative haze. “I approach songwriting as a process of boxing things up, or putting away a time capsule,” explains front person Dena Miller, who wrote the album over a period of six years. It’s a culminating collection of the project’s many sounds and influences to date, from Philly’s punk cooperatives to Oberlin’s conservatory experimentalism to New York’s DIY history. At the center is Miller’s assured guitar fingerpicking and boldly clear voice, firmly grounded even as it gently probes uncertain emotional and musical terrain.
Raised by two folk musicians in Yonkers, Miller began recording songs as Deer Scout her freshman year of college in Philadelphia. There, she wrote Woodpecker’s earliest song “Synesthesia” about a train ride home from a basement show: “Night in the city / Big house on the corner / Her voice has the timbre of summers ago,” recalls Miller resonantly. After Miller’s transfer to Oberlin College, Deer Scout began touring DIY venues around the country and sharing stages with favorite artists including Waxahatchee and Told Slant. The twinned intimacy and intricacy of those two influences is reflected in the carefully adventurous arrangements on Woodpecker, which features, among other contributors, bass from close collaborator Ko Takasugi-Czernowin, cello from Zuzia Weyman, drums from Madel Rafter, and guitar from Miller’s father Mark—who also wrote the song “Peace with the Damage” and originally released it with his band Spuyten Duyvil in 2011.
Many of the songs on Woodpecker were written during periods of grief or change. “I used to sing myself to sleep as a baby and I think music still plays the same role in my life—it’s a way of self-soothing or seeking comfort,” explains Miller. “But there’s also part of it that comes from wanting to connect with people.” Recorded and mixed primarily by Heather Jones at So Big Auditory in Philly with overdubs by Miller at home, Woodpecker is an exercise in portraying the incommunicable. “Cup”—about a relational psychology test called “a walk in the woods” that turns encounters with symbols into meaning—uses watery arpeggios, wintry strings, and roving bass to create a liminal sonic space, optimistic but tense. “Cowboy,” with airy layers of acoustic guitar riffs and Miller’s charmingly double tracked voice, takes its little fish, big pond inspiration from the character Joe Buck in Midnight Cowboy. And “Afterthought,” with its unexpectedly bright resolutions, is about God, love, and the complexity of empathy; “Heaven isn’t watching us,” sings Miller candidly over pedal steel.
Though Woodpecker is a record about uncertainty and the unknown, it’s also about compassion and connection—as Miller was able to find over the course of writing and recording this next chapter for Deer Scout and first release for Carpark, which she’s excited to at last share with the world.
Though Dena Miller grew up in a family of New York folk musicians, and recorded their earliest childhood songs on a toy cassette player, they spent their teen years in the crowd at DIY shows rather than onstage. But a relocation to Philadelphia for college found them woodshedding in their dorm room, and Deer Scout’s earliest songs were born. Centering Miller’s singular voice and intimate lyricism, Deer Scout was quickly welcomed into Philly’s legendary DIY scene, especially at fabled punk fraternity Pilam and erstwhile house venue All Nite Diner. Early cassette release Customs formally introduced Miller’s studied sparseness and pointed songcraft. 2017’s “sad boy,” satirized liberal arts’ special brand of toxic masculinity over plotted drum machines and gossamer synths (produced by Miller’s father, Mark, who they describe as a favorite songwriter and major influence). Along the way, Miller grew the project by touring storied alternative showspaces like Silent Barn, Flywheel and PhilaMOCA, and sharing stages with artists including Waxahatchee, Yowler and Told Slant.
Six years after the project’s start, Miller has moved back to their hometown of New York and is ready to release their debut full length, Woodpecker, with Carpark Records. Though its earliest songs were written during that prolific freshman year—like “Synesthesia,” penned almost instantly on a train ride home from a basement show—Miller’s taken time to fastidiously rearrange, working alongside trusted friends and collaborators: Ko Takasugi-Czernowin on bass, Zuzia Weyman on cello, Henry Munson on pedal steel, and Madel Rafter on drums. With primary engineering and mixing from Heather Jones at Philly’s So Big Auditory, Woodpecker was eventually completed at home by Miller, whose piecemeal approach to finishing the record results in its lush intentionality. The family folk influence shines through in Miller’s distinctive playing and voice, but tension-building string arrangements, droning pull-off riffs, and rattling drum play complicate the mix, channeling Americana and lo-fi forebears like Cat Power. Though the stillness in Miller’s arrangements may give an initial sense of smallness, Deer Scout’s songs are like dollhouse miniatures, laden with complexity. Through Miller’s open-hearted yearning, Deer Scout’s music feels at once safe and limitless.