Explore Divining Rod’s nostalgic EP with Miyuki Furtado in this exclusive Happy Mag interview.
In this exclusive interview with Divining Rod’s talented vocalist, Miyuki Furtado, Happy Mag delves into the band’s latest EP, “Santa Monica & Other Golden Classics.” A diverse collection of country, blues, and rock and roll gems, the EP marks the Brooklyn band’s triumphant return to the music scene since their last release in 2019.
Miyuki, originally from Hawaii but now residing just north of NYC by the Hudson River, shares insights into his life and creative process. A disciplined musician, he incorporates writing and practice into his daily routine, keeping his creativity sharp like a well-exercised muscle.
The interview uncovers the band’s musical evolution, starting from their punk/garage days to the current psych country rock sound. Miyuki’s passion for music stems from childhood days spent reading encyclopedia sets and being inspired by traditional Hawaiian music, rock, jazz, and hip hop.
The EP’s title, “Santa Monica & Other Golden Classics,” was born out of Miyuki’s playful yet nostalgic imagination, reflecting the themes of memories and experiences that inspired the songs. Each track carries a sense of nostalgia, with “Santa Monica” serving as a poignant birthday present and the first song in a song cycle about a complex friendship.
The interview wraps up with Miyuki sharing the gear he can’t live without, including his trusty 2020 Gibson ES-335 guitar and custom-made drum kit. Ultimately, what makes Miyuki happy is family, friends, good music, art, food, and the joy of experiencing life to the fullest on this great big planet. With this new EP in their arsenal, Divining Rod continues to captivate listeners with their soul-stirring melodies and heartfelt storytelling.
Happy: What are you up to today?
Miyuki: Went for a 6 mile run this morning. Then ran some errands and cleaned up my place before I head out of town to play some shows.
Happy: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the music scene like in your neck of the woods?
Miyuki: I’m originally from Hawaii, but I’ve been in New York for the last 20 odd years. I live just north of NYC in a small village by the Hudson River.
The music scene up here is pretty small but there are some great bands popping up.
Living 30 min north of Manhattan puts you pretty close to those vast music and arts scenes.
Happy: Describe an average day?
Miyuki:: Same as most folks, I reckon. The exception being that I try to get in some writing and practice for at least 30/60 minutes every day. Creativity is like a muscle that needs exercise.
Happy:What about your ultimate day?
Miyuki: Spending the day exploring a new city, meeting new people, eating delicious meals and making lots of music. I guess that makes me a road dog through and through.
Happy: What did you read or watch growing up that fuelled your passion for music?
Miyuki: When I was a kid, my dad got me a whole set of encyclopedia and world books. I was asthmatic so I spent my days indoors reading them and dreaming of the vast world that awaited.
I must have read the whole dang set. Twice.
I grew up listening to some of my uncles, aunts and cousins play traditional Hawaiian music. My older brother got me into rock, jazz and hip hop.
We would listen to records and cassette tapes and play air guitar, jump around in our bedroom and pretend we were the biggest band on the planet.
View this post on Instagram
Happy: How has your music evolved over time, and what do you see as the key themes and ideas that run through your work?
Miyuki: I played in a whole mess of bands over the years. I was in a band called The Rogers Sisters when I moved to Brooklyn.
We had a good 10 year run playing our brand of punk/garage and touring all over the world and making records for Too Pure/Beggars Group.
We eventually got burnt out touring so much. I moved out of the city and started Divining Rod as a solo project, playing droney English Folk.
I was inspired by Bert Jansch, Pentangle and Fairport Convention. My friend, Patrick Harmon, joined the band and over time, we morphed into more Psych Country Rock.
I’m mainly writing full-on Country songs these days. Or at least my version of it. I love the turns of phrases and and straightforward narrative of Country.
Plus it gets my butt shaking.
Happy: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the title “Santa Monica & Other Golden Classics” for your new EP?
Miyuki: started an intense period of writing slightly before the pandemic and through the 2 years of lockdown that followed.
One of the first songs I wrote was “Santa Monica”. I suppose I was being a smart ass by adding “& Other Golden Classics”.
But it also sounded like it could be one of those cheesy infomercial compilations. I love those old cheesy infomercials.
Happy: The EP carries a sense of nostalgia throughout, particularly evident in “Santa Monica.” What themes or memories inspired the songs on this release?
View this post on Instagram
Miyuki: I wrote well over 40 songs the past few years. They are inspired by a mix of my own experiences and those of the many people I’ve met over time.
Some songs come from a hodgepodge of different points of view. One song in particular, GOAT, is about a specific toxic person.
It’s about someone who is the very best at being the very worst friend, hence the title.
Happy: What made you choose “Another Endless Night” as the EP opener, and how does it set the tone for the rest of the tracks?
Miyuki: I wrote “Another Endless Night” around the time that pandemic restrictions were lifted and we slowly made our way back into the world outside.
The song is about being happy to be out and interacting with the world at large, but also being anxious leaving the comforts of solitary home life.
I had trouble remembering why I wanted to leave the house in the first place.
Happy: The EP represents your first longer-form release since 2019. Can you share some insights into the creative process and challenges of crafting this collection of songs?
Miyuki: The band had just finished a months-long residency playing on the legendary Circle Line Cruise.
We played for hours on end and it gave us a chance to fine tune all the songs I had written during the pandemic.
It also made us an into a well oiled country-music-playing-machine. We headed into Virtue And Vice Studios with our friend Anthony TJ ‘Rocky’ Gallo (Cigarettes After Sex, John Legend) and recorded 12 songs over a couple of days.
They were recorded in one room mostly live with very few overdubs.
Happy: Santa Monica, seems to hold a special place in the EP. Could you delve into the city’s significance and the emotions you aimed to evoke through it?
Miyuki: The song was written as a birthday present. It was also the 1st song written in a large song cycle about a friendship that went from caring & intimate to negative & toxic.
The last song in the cycle being ‘GOAT’, the single off the record. I’m fond of ‘Santa Monica’ because of it chronicles the best aspects of that particular person.
Albeit with a touch of bittersweet melancholy.
Happy: Do you have any gear that you can’t live without?
Miyuki: Have guitar, will travel. That guitar being my trusty 2020 Gibson ES-335. I bought it used, and immediately started playing it straight out of the box.
I don’t use any effect pedals- just plugged directly into my tweed 65 Fender Princeton Reissue that I hot rodded with a 12” Celestion Gold Alnico Speaker.
I also can’t live without my custom made drum kit that I play while playing guitar and singing.
It’s a 67 Ludwig snare propped up by foot pedal stand (made by Side Kick Drums). I also play a stomp box a built from an old serving tray and condenser mics topped with a mini hi-hat DW stand.
Happy: Lastly, what makes you happy?
Miyuki: Family and friends. Good music, art, food, conversation and company. New travels, ideas and experiences.
Being alive and well on this great big planet, generally speaking. Living not merely existing.