Locals Only: Bird and Flower

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Eve Searls sat down at home in Clintonville to talk about an album she made two apartments ago.

"I'm a compulsive mover," explained Searls, the voice behind electro-folk upstart Bird and Flower.

Searls has been shifting her space since childhood, when her dad was in the Coast Guard. He eventually settled in isolated Juneau, Alaska, where Searls spent her formative years singing in church choirs and the like. Come college, she bolted for tiny Seattle University and eventually ended up in Columbus for law school around 2002.

All the while, she was writing songs for her own amusement but never playing them for anyone. The closest she came to a public airing was the MySpace page that the Black Swans' Jerry DeCicca discovered in 2007.

"If it wasn't for Jerry, I probably wouldn't be playing any shows," Searls said.

DeCicca booked the first Bird and Flower show, opening for the Black Swans at Surly Girl Saloon, in August 2007. Searls was terrified, but she went along with it.

Two years later, she has become one of the most pleasantly unusual voices in Columbus music. She joined prolific twee supergroup Super Desserts and collaborated with indie-rock OGs Moviola.

"Now I'm a seasoned veteran," she joked.

Searls is a major player in an artsy, crafty subset of the local folk-pop scene that orbits Clintonville's Wholly Craft. She'll throw a release party there Saturday for the first Bird and Flower album, Here We Cease Our Motion.

The album, to be released on vinyl and digitally through local Sunken Treasure Records, sets Searls' old-fashioned croon amidst mournful harmonium, playful ukulele and lots of homemade electronic beats. Around the time DeCicca discovered her music, Searls began to play around with GarageBand on her new computer and injected her "girly" folk music with a little mechanized spunk.

She assembled the core of the record alone at home on the computer. Later, Super Desserts bandmate Justin Riley, who often accompanies Searls live on harmonium, added various instruments, and DeCicca helped with mixing and sequencing. The result is at once homemade and polished, at turns mournful and joyful. On "Jump Out of the Way," it's all those things at once.

The contrast between doom-and-gloom opener "Dark Thoughts" and goofy second track "Hot Boots" could have been jarring, but whether she's singing about existential crisis, heartbreak or wearing boots with a swimsuit, Searls' songs are glued together by her offbeat sensibilities. Or, as she puts it, "It all has my weird voice on it."

Here We Cease Our Motion reveals Searls finally settling down in both a physical and spiritual sense. Despite the apartment hopping, her seven years in Columbus outlasts any stint besides Juneau. Simultaneously, she has found a new sense of self through playing in bands.

"It's about mentally trying to be secure and be comfortable in your own identity," she explained. "It's weird hiding a part of yourself."

E-mail your local music news to Chris DeVille at

Bird and Flower

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, July 25

Where: Wholly Craft, Clintonville