The Meaning Behind “Ravens and the Wrens”

Lyrics and music written by Molly McGinn
Backing vocals performed by Kate Tobey, Brooke Stokes
Electric guitar by Molly McGinn
Violin and violin arrangement by Kate Tobey
Synthesizers and electronic score by Quilla (Anna Luisa Daigneault)
Musical arrangement by Quilla, Kate Tobey, Alex Bingham
Produced and recorded by Quilla, Mike Garrigan, Kate Tobey
Recording studio: Two Egrets (Greensboro, NC)
Released by Ritual Fire Records, August 2021

Art by Church Goin’ Mule
Animation by Stefan Kei DiMuzio
Subtitles by Quilla

“Ravens and the Wrens” – a new song by Molly McGinn, Quilla, Kate Tobey, featuring Brooke Stokes – is now out everywhere! You can stream or buy the track here.

Notes from Quilla:
“When I first heard a home recording of Ravens and the Wrens, I literally fell off my chair. I was taken aback by its power and beauty, and I sat on the floor in stunned silence for a while after listening to it. Kate Tobey had recorded a video performance of the song with Molly and Brooke, and had shared it online. I thought they were playing a cover of a classic Dolly Parton or Fleetwood Mac song that I had never heard before. I read the credits and realized that my dear friend and musical collaborator Molly had written the song, but I had never heard her sing it before. I immediately picked up the phone and called Kate and had a mild freak-out. I don’t know what I said, but I conveyed my enthusiasm for us to work together to produce a studio version of this track. Then we phoned Molly and asked her if she wanted to do that, and she agreed. She was surprised that I thought the song was so great. I said “OMG this song is literally the sound of angels”! And we got to work making the studio version you hear now.” – Quilla (August 2021)

Description of the Project
The song embodies a sound created for the new South: modern, inclusive and spiritual. Both a prayer and an anthem, “Ravens and the Wrens” lures the listener into the magic of the moment, bridging the human and natural worlds. McGinn’s vocal style conjures a blend of jazz, folk and soul, and Tobey’s violin brings a traditional, rustic quality to the piece. Powerful backing vocals provided by Tobey and vocalist Brooke Stokes resonate throughout the piece. Through carefully woven synth layers that form a lush, ambient bed of sound, Quilla’s electronic score adds a contemporary dimension to the song, elevating the folk genre by fusing the analog and the digital.  

The lyrics were inspired by Molly McGinn’s friend: trans activist and author Sam Peterson. In his book, “Trunky: Transgender Junky,” Peterson writes about his first experience as a transgender man in the men’s ward at a drug and alochol treatment center in Butner, North Carolina. The lyrics attempt to capture his confusion as he struggles to see the difference between what’s healing and self-defeating as he makes his way through recovery. The chord progression is inspired by the Appalachian Old Time tune “Red Rocking Chair.” 

“Ravens and the Wrens” is a folk song for the LGBTQIA community in the new south; it’s a call for healing from the trauma that held us back, and a plea for grace as we stumble our way forward. All genres of art are looking to be more inclusive. And folk music should be leading that conversation. This song attempts to represent that shift as we embrace non-binary narratives, and electronic instruments, and provides a place of inclusivity for all us. 

“Behind the Scenes” – VIDEO CREDITS
Directed, produced and edited by Kate Tobey
Video footage by Kate Tobey, Quilla, Molly McGinn

Social links

Molly McGinn 
IG: @busterdilly  

IG: @quillamusic

Kate M. Tobey
IG: @katemtobey