Planes on Paper, a Yakima-based duo comprised of Navid Eliot and Jen Borst, just finished recording their first LP, Edge Markings and recently signed to Rainwater Records. Most label offers looked similar, but as a nonprofit that operates to help schools and community music programs, Rainwater stood out. “Although releasing your first LP on a brand new label is perhaps less glamorous than releasing it with someone more established, the thought that we could play some small part in continuing the tradition really made us feel great,” they say. On the Rainwater website, the Rain Barrel fund is further described: “The Rain Barrel was created to provide much needed funding to elementary and middle school music and choir programs. A portion of commissions paid by our artist family will go to the rain barrel. We will then make contributions to schools in the communities where our artists live as well as where they tour.”
Though people may imagine the song writing process to be, “a flurry of inspiration with a song popping out in the end,” the Planes on Paper approach is not that. The pair consciously puts in effort to, “develop everything we write for as long as we need to feel satisfied.” They’re both, “good at being honest and critical of our own (and each other’s) work.” It’s not as easy as the former approach, but Eliot and Borst explain that it is the process which affords them music they are proud of.
Influenced most heavily by, “the stuff we grew up listening to and the songwriting greats,” the duo puts forth a concentrated effort to not imitate artists they are fond of: “We try really hard not to be too influenced, musically-speaking, and to really cultivate our own writing voices.” Instead of measuring their talent against musicians they admire, their friends provide the biggest influence, “Because we feel some pressure to be as good as them.”
In June, Planes on Paper will begin their fourth east coast tour. A handful of radio stations between Massachusetts and Pennsylvania had a song of theirs in rotation which influenced them to venture out on their first eastern tour years ago: “We thought, ‘this will probably never happen again, we better go over there while we have an excuse.’” Upon arrival, they were pleasantly surprised to learn that they had quite a substantial following and have since been back at least once a year. “The shows keep getting better, and there are more radio stations playing us now than ever, so we’ve still got that excuse,” Eliot and Borst say with a laugh.
Prior to their departure to New York on June 20, you can catch Planes on Paper at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard on May 31. The pair explains they love Ballard because, “as much as Ballard is changing, it still feels like the Seattle I grew up in… That can’t be said about every neighborhood these days.”
Aside from tour, Navid Eliot and Jen Borst are already working on their next album. In addition to being a musician, Borst also paints and, “always has a project or two going on.” Her art can be found at @mountain.jen on Instagram. To buy Planes on Paper’s LPs and CDs visit www.planesonpaper.bandcamp.com. Alternatively, listen to Planes on Paper on online platforms (Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, etc.).