Photo by Aubrey Swander
Does geography have an effect on artistry? Night Beds’ Winston Yellen recently told KUTX’s Matt Reilly that he thinks he would have developed his indie-rock-meets-country sound even if he weren’t based in Nashville. But no artist creates in a vacuum, and Yellen might know that more than most.
Growing up in a very unmusical community in Colorado, the singer started writing songs in his bedroom, but inspiration didn’t truly strike until his post-adolescent years. Untethered to jobs and relationships, Yellen traveled around the country, living in his hatchback and on couches. A concerned friend eventually lured him to Nashville, and it was there that he started to put all his experiences to paper. He rented a guest house that once belonged to Johnny Cash and wrote what he felt. Given those hallowed walls, it’s hard to doubt his environment didn’t find some way into his music.
Taking the somewhat tongue-in-cheek name of Night Beds–Yellen often composed the songs at night on his bed–he put together a band, and this past spring saw the release of their debut album, Country Sleep. It’s already being hailed as one of the year’s best, drawing comparisons to everyone from Ryan Adams to the Smiths. Those aren’t empty-handed compliments, either: Night Beds are as comfortable with spacey pop-rock as they are with countrified twang. The group demonstrated their inventive sound when they recently stopped by KUTX’s Studio 1A and reworked a few selections from Country Sleep. On the record, “Lost Springs” is an ornate, orchestral ballad, but in the live setting, Night Beds turn it into a folk-rock ramble. It’s proof-positive that different surroundings have a deep impact.