Standout Track: “Love at First Sight,” a brittle, lightly orchestrated slow-burner in which violinist Emily Chimiak—singing in a pretty, delicate rasp—warns against rushing into romance. The song features four members of the 40-member collective, including Chimiak’s Mittenfields bandmate Dave Mann, who wrote the ballad, and multi-instrumentalist Nate Plutzik, who arranged it.
Musical Motivation: Mann wrote the song around 2005 and demoed a couple of versions. One was centered on a simple piano line, and he later used it as an auditioning tool for Mittenfields. “When I was looking for vocalists, I would send it out” so prospective singers could “record their vocals over it,” he says. “So I have all these versions with different female vocalists.” For Spelling for Bees, Chimiak replaced Mann’s lyrics with her own, then rewrote them again: Her original words, she says, “were an optimistic view of love at first sight,” but she later turned the song into a cautionary tale: “Both versions ring true to me. I am an idealist with reservations that I choose to ignore.”
Sweet Symphony: Spelling for Bee’s activities include in-studio partnerships and a residency at Velvet Lounge, where monthly shows resemble open mics centered on a theme (next month’s is “guilty pleasures”). But Mann and Plutzik have bigger ambitions, like filming a documentary on the collective and perhaps starting a record label to showcase its work. They also have plans for more involved collaborations. “We want to have something where everybody is playing on the same stage, and do something epic,” Plutzik says. “An indie symphony is a good way to describe it.”
Spelling for Bees performs at Velvet Lounge on Tuesday, Dec. 1.