Sunday Iris duo uses relationship to foster creativity

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Sunday Iris consists of the couple Lisa Langley and Dave Elke. Photo credit: Tara Killoran

Grant Schmieding

Plucking a guitar grounds him in the present moment, washing him with a feeling of calm, serene creativity. Singing brings her to a happy place – giving her a sense of purpose and passion.

Lisa Langley and Dave Elke, who make up the local two-part band “Sunday Iris,” use these profound feelings to create and perform modern indie/acoustic folk music.

Some musicians perform solo, and some perform in bands with multiple pieces. As a couple, Langley and Elke perform as two balanced minds, using their personal connection and the life they share to comfortably produce and workshop art in a creative space that’s unattainable for most bands.

Since childhood, Langley has always been drawn to singing. She says that it brings her to a happy place, like it’s something she’s “born to do,” as she put it.

Elke feels similar about guitar, saying it allows him to rest in the present, “while everything fades away.”

He said that it’s hard for him to get that feeling from anything else.

Even though they’ve both practiced other forms of art—Elke as an Arts professor at Butte College and Langley as a visual designer for the website Build.com—their passions for music trumps all other forms of artistic expression.

Langley draws influence from singers and songwriters like Brandi Carlile and Bob Dylan. Elke’s face lights up as he mentions artists like Bryan Adams and The Paper Kites.

With a peculiar mix of influences, Sunday Iris’s sound is soothing, soulful and eccentric. They’re perfect for intimate crowds which Langley and Elke love as they relish each individual’s energy.

However, having played some of their newer, more-upbeat music in festival atmospheres, they also hope to further expand their performances to large crowds in the future.

Elke says the energy in any crowd can inspire them, making a huge difference in how well they play. But, simply creating and playing music together brings them the most joy.

“I don’t really look to get anything else out of it but that,” Elke said.

Both Elke and Langley have played solo and in other bands, but, since they started playing music together, they have been very productive as a duo.

“It just feels really good—just feels right,” Elke said.

“In a bigger band, I don’t really have the same technical ability to talk music,” Langley said.

Neither of them has ever felt a creative connection quite like this one. Using their relationship as support, they feel comfortable creating together and trust each other to be honest.

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Lisa Langley and Dave Elke both agree that their relationship helps their creative songwriting process. Photo credit: Tara Killoran

Having shared so many experiences together—laughing, eating, traveling, arguing, etc.—it’s a totally different chemistry from a band.

After bringing songs to each other, they feel that their ideas often come out even better than they imagined in their heads.

“There’s an interesting thing that happens when two people write songs together, that share a life together,” Elke said.

Elke and Langley always prefer to play their own songs. They find it meaningful if people get something out of their music.

Since they were kids, feeding their passions for music, they’ve always been captivated by creating and expressing something through their work.

The creative chemistry the couple have found in each other helps them do that, and they want to protect the rare artistic space their relationship fosters.

Keep an eye out for Sunday Iris in our local scene, and stay tuned for continued coverage on various local artists.

Grant Schmieding can be reached at [email protected] or @G_Schmieding on Twitter.