Felicia Douglass – “Might” & Tiny Hazard – “Thirsty Sponge” (Stereogum Premiere)

Given the same information, an artist’s interpretation will vary wildly according to their own experiences and proclivities. That’s why there can be a million and one songs about wanting to get out of your hometown, and most of them (at least the good ones) will find a unique spin on it. Genius Loci, a new compilation project started by Wilder Maker’s Gabriel Birnbaum, aims to put that idea to the test by setting limits and constructs on some of his favorite songwriters to inspire creativity from unexpected places, a practice as old as art itself.

For the first volume of the series, twelve musicians or bands were given a package containing part of Frank Stanford’s poem “The Battlefield Where The Moon Says I Love You,” and the title of the compilation, Dreams Like Bark Peeled Off By Lightning, is derived from the work. They had to draw inspiration from that poem, with the only other rule being that the lyrics had to be fully written before any of the music. The list of participants includes members of Krill, Ava Luna, Baroness, and Leapling, and each songwriter provided diverse takes on the same jumping off point, though each of the songs still overlap in interesting ways due to their similar origins.

The first two songs from the Genius Loci project to surface are from Ava Luna member Felicia Douglass — who also has a side project called Gemma that’s putting out a debut later this year — and Brooklyn-based band Tiny Hazard. Both of their contributions are characterized by their enveloping, tender warmth, and they both take cues from the epicly personal nature of Stanford’s poem, translating it through empowerment and desire respectively. Listen below.

The first Genius Loci compilation, Summer 2015 – Dreams Like Bark Peeled Off By Lightning, is out 9/18. You can preorder it here.