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Ed Marshall is a music critic who wrote for The Big Take Over for some years when he was roommates with the magazine's publisher, Jack Rabid. Since the early '90s, Marshall has been in and out of the underground music scene in Denver, a veteran of bands like Man Ray's Bird, Stargazer, Into the Ether and the dance/audio-visual project Fragments of Divine, and has hosted open-mike nights at the Mercury Cafe.
For the past two years, Marshall and his wife, Katie, along with guitarists Dave Bernhart and Tom Freeman and percussionist Scott Seeber, have performed together as Forests of Azure, an act whose psychedelic rock and immersive projections recall a harder-edged Sky Cries Mary. We sat down with the couple and Seeber at their practice space for a chat about the band's foundational imagery and the importance of Eastern philosophy to the songwriting and the band's cohesion.
Westword: Obviously, the name of your band is a reference to the Doors song "The Wasp (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)," but what is its significance for you beyond that?
Katie Marshall: I was thinking music takes you to another place when you listen to it. I like the idea of community that music creates. It's a method of escaping from reality. So Forests of Azure, to me, is a reference to the sky in your mind.
Ed Marshall: I liked it not just because it's from the Doors; I like that you can have a forest of azure. It feels like you're speaking of the sky. I like what Katie said about a "sky in your mind." I don't literalize it too much in my head. I think it's a beautiful metaphor for going into your mind and going into thoughts and dreams.
Why are mantras and yoga principles important to the music you make?
KM: Studying mantras is a form of studying sound and music. So often, mantras enter into the songwriting process because I study mantras with yoga.
EM: One of the things I think about yoga that makes sense with this music is that there's clearly a meditation component. With repetitive grooves, there's a hypnotic, meditative quality to it. For me, it always just associatively overlapped and made sense. That's the psychedelic component more than dropping acid or something.
We're all past that kind of thing. Back in the '60s, when psychedelia was coming into vogue, Eastern practices and meditation were a big piece of that. For me, yoga goes hand in hand with psychedelia and with the hypnotic thrum of a lot of our music. That's why I enjoy playing this sort of music.
Scott Seeber: Whether we consciously practice it or not, we're all trying to be enlightened here and treat our fellow people with respect and honor. It's not exclusive to yoga practice, but it's sort of embodied in that whole idea of "The god that is within me respects the god that is within you."