Those familiar with the Friends of the Bedford Public Library concert series have come to expect an inviting mix of genres like folk, Americana and Celtic music.
The Sea The Sea — the latest act to perform at Bedford Central Library as part of the series — is different.
The husband and wife duo, who will play there on Saturday, is better described as pop-folk with an indie bent.
“They’re a little out[side] of what we typically book, but ... sometimes it’s good to shake things up and try something new,” Programming Chair Karen Nuzzo said. “They’re wonderful musicians; they’re beautiful singers. Their harmonies are stellar.”
Chuck and Mira Costa originally met at a music festival in West Virginia.
“Chuck was a finalist in a songwriting contest, and I was the stage manager for the stage he was performing on,” Mira wrote last week in an email to The News & Advance. “I was holding a sign with his name on it to let him know he was next up onstage — so we like to say that it was a sign that brought us together.”
The musicians found a kindred spirit in each other and reunited to play together in 2012. They eventually formed The Sea The Sea in 2014.
“The first time we sang together just felt different than any other time either of us had ever sung with anyone else,” Mira, who married Chuck in 2016, wrote.
“There was a way that our voices blended that felt like it created its own voice, and we’ve been following where it’s taken us ever since.”
The Sea The Sea released its debut album, “Love We Are We Love,” in 2014, garnering national attention for one of its music videos, which uses more than 3,000 oil paintings as animation.
“If Joni Mitchell and Elvis Costello had ever decided back in the day to write, sing and make a duets record together, it might’ve sounded something like this,” Michael Bialas wrote about the band in 2017 for The Huffington Post.
The Sea The Sea has continued to grow its fan base. Its music has been featured in NPR Music’s “Heavy Rotation” feature, and the duo has made appearances on the radio program “Mountain Stage” — where Mira’s father Ron Sowell has been the bandleader for more than 30 years.
Last year, the Costas ventured into a bit of rock territory, adding Cara May Gorman (vocals, synthesizer) and Stephen Struss (drums) on their second full-length, “From the Light.”
While The Sea The Sea toured as a group of four following the release and continues to do so on occasion, the performance in Bedford will feature just the couple.
“We’ll always be a duo at our core, but part of keeping things exciting for ourselves and the people who enjoy our music, is to keep exploring,” Mira Costa wrote. “So, whether that’s as a duo, a 4-piece, or touring with a full symphony. We like all of the possibilities.”
Before the show, Mira chatted about The Sea The Sea’s newest record and the musical connection she and Chuck share.
I love learning the story behind a band’s name, and yours feels like it’s been pulled from somewhere very specific.
“‘The Sea, The Sea’ is a cry of joy. It comes from an ancient Greek story about a group of soldiers who lived along the coast and were called to fight a battle inland. Many were lost along the way, but those who survived began to fight their way back home even though they were lost. One day, they crested over a mountain and saw the water and knew they would find their way home, so someone cried, ‘the sea! the sea!’”
The ocean is a pretty classic image that we see throughout literature, art and music. Were you thinking about that at all when you came up with this name, like tapping into that history?
“I think we’re both definitely drawn to the water. And maybe there is a fascination with it in sort of an archetypal way too: something about the ocean as a boundary, as something ultimately unexplored, or as this massive presence in nature with its own built-in moods and expressive qualities — tumultuous, vibrant, calm.”
What drew you and Chuck to each other musically?
“The best way that I can explain it is that it’s similar to the sensation of meeting someone you can have conversation with effortlessly. There’s just a compatibility, even in the ways you are different.
“And I think that sort of immediate trust has always empowered us creatively.”
Do you think being a couple adds to your onstage chemistry, and if so, in what way?
“Yes, though I wouldn’t say that we set out to build our shows around it in any way — but we live and breathe making music together every day — so there’s a closeness, a rhythm that we both share.”
”From the Light” sounds different from your first record with its incorporation of harder grooves, textures and atmospheric production. Why venture into this new area when it comes to your sound?
“Our music has always been song based, but we’re always excited to explore the musical worlds in which those songs live. So, we follow wherever that takes us.
“‘From the Light’ is more of a band record, and features other collaborators — and since the release of that album and touring it all over the country for 150 or so shows last year — that’s all seeped into our creative bloodstream and pulled us into our writing and recording now.”
Even with the new additions to your sound, there are still several songs where you strip it back. What do you think is the power behind two voices and minimal instrumentation?
“I think that will always be part of what we do. And we try to create albums and shows that give those songs their space and time in meaningful ways. There’s something in simplicity. But it’s always just about whatever helps you hear the song’s truth.”
Emma Schkloven covers arts and entertainment for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5489, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @byEmmaSchkloven.