Defying Genres

Defying Genres

Delta Rae brings magic and Southern gothic mysticism to the MIM

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

For Southern storytellers Delta Rae, the Musical Instrument Museum represents everything that’s great about the artform.

“Oh, we are so excited,” says singer Brittany Hölljes.

“We are so grateful that the MIM exists. It’s awesome. It’s given us such a great chance to build our audience in Phoenix. The last time we were there, I had to tear myself away from the museum to actually play the show.”

Hölljes and the band will return to the MIM to play a 7 p.m. Wednesday, October 23, show.

The six-piece band was founded in 2009 in Durham, North Carolina, with siblings Ian, Eric and Brittany Hölljes; childhood friend Liz Hopkins, and North Carolina natives Mike McKee and Grant Emerson.

Since the beginning, they have been headlining their own tours and telling stories in four-part harmony. Their Southern Gothic gospel songs like “Bottom of the River” living seamlessly alongside pop-country ballads like “No Peace in Quiet.”

Now based in Nashville, Delta Rae recently announced it left Big Machine Label Group and have gone indie. Fans can expect the crowd-funded albums “The Light” on March 20 and its sister album, “The Dark” in 2021.

“Today—the day that you and I are speaking—is the very last day of recording for ‘The Light,’” Hölljes says. “We’re putting background vocals on our final song. We have a string quartet to add and I couldn’t be more excited about this album.

“It went from something beautiful and cool to being invested in the witchy stuff. That’s my vibe. I’m giving myself chills. It’s some magic that’s happening.”

Besides the companion albums, fans can expect live, acoustic and holiday collections.

“It’s going to be a really fun time in the studio,” she says. “We needed more studio time and more time to create. I’m really thrilled to be making up for this lost time. The songs have been waiting in the wings. It’s really satisfying to put it all out in the world and let it flourish.”

Big Machine Label Group was Delta Rae’s second label deal. Hölljes says Delta Rae gave the company three years to prove itself, but during that time, the act learned it operates better as an indie band.

“We have a sound that defies genre,” Hölljes says. “No one’s going to be able to craft your direction or guide your vision the way you can. That’s the conclusion we drew.

“It’s not easy to get out of those types of deals. It’s really worth it to us to have creative control and a more direct relationship with our fans, which proves to be somewhere we’ve invested in the past.”

The MIM show will feature new songs in the same ethos of the huge percussion and four-part harmony, Hölljes says. Add a little renewed energy and an “incredible” year, and Delta Rae is happy.

“Fans will hear a lot of that new music for the first time,” Hölljes says. “The whole thrust of what we’re doing now is the light and the dark. For people who like magic and Southern gothic mysticism, we’ll be bringing plenty of that. We have a very explicit, soulful, joyful, transcendent sound that pulls on our gospel roots. We love the Southern sultry summer feeling.” ν

Delta Rae w/Frances Cone

7 p.m. Wednesday, October 23

Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix

$35.50 to $45.50