Hello magical friends, especially Geoffrey, WZRD Radio’s newest patron, whose support lets me do these interview episodes.
I’m your hostwitch Bess and today I’m talking with Avery Marshall of How Airplanes Fly! Talk about an exciting first interview of the year.
Of course, I wouldn’t dream of starting an interview without first playing some music, so let’s queue up the tunes! First up is “Know-It-All In Love” by How Airplanes Fly.
“Know-It-All In Love” was a special request from WZRD Radio patron Bygonya.
It’s time to welcome Avery from How Airplanes Fly to the show. Thank you so much for being here!
Avery: I’m so happy to be here. And I love the Mollywobbles, they are fantastic.
They are a new one to me and I’m enjoying it immensely.
Avery: Awesome, awesome. But, uh, thank you for having me today.
Yeah, absolutely. So let us dive right in with how “How Airplanes Fly” came into existence.
Avery: Yeah. So, it’s kinda funny, it kind of follows just my ‘young Harry Potter online community’ self. I got into the online Harry Potter community through role-playing on Xanga—you know, I’m aging myself a little bit—but we did just role-play and I’d usually be, like, a James Potter or something like that. And, uh, I remember I was on someone’s Xanga just role-playing as I do and the music playing, they were actually singing about Harry Potter! And it sounded good and I was like “What is this? What am I listening to?” And it turned out to be a Harry and the Potters song. I wish I could remember which one. I think it had to do with Umbridge. I really was like “I have to figure out what this is.” From then I fell into other wizard rock bands like Draco and the Malfoys and the Whomping Willows, but what really made me think “Oh, I could make wizard rock too” was when I found Godric’s Hollow. It was just, like, acoustic guitar and what I like to call ‘sad boy music,’ y’know? And I was like “This is the music I make. This is the music I love.” From then on I got more confidence to play and I made a few songs. And I was trying to figure out what to name myself. I was just thumbing through a book and I came across when they were having to have security questions that they asked each other because, you know, they weren’t sure if they could trust each other. And I remember Mr. Weasley’s, who is one of my favorite characters, he was saying, y’know, his security question was “what’s his greatest ambition” and the answer was “to find out how airplanes stay up.” And I thought “That—that’s cool.” And so I kinda went from there with How Airplanes Fly. I sometimes am so relieved at how perfect it is because it doesn’t really tie me to a certain character or anything and I get to write whatever I want to write.
No wonder you like the Mollywobbles, because they are–
Avery: Yes. I wanted to be a Weasley so badly. I think everybody wanted to be a Weasley.
Yeah, I think that’s a common experience.
Avery: Mhm. For sure, for sure.
So, my patrons send me questions to ask you and most of the ones that came in this month were about your lyrics, which they described as “beautiful,” “poetic,” “emotional,” “empathetic.” Is writing lyrics that touch people so deeply like that something that has come naturally or something you’ve had to work at?
Avery: You know, it’s interesting because I’m trying to write new music now and I listen to my older stuff and I think “How was I so in tune with, just, emotion and—and pain, then?” You know what I mean? Just trying to tap back into it. I think it’s something that comes naturally when I absorb media or absorb something that kinda has that emotion. Also, when I wrote those lyrics I was seventeen years old.
Avery: Yeah, seventeen. I was super angsty. I was reading so much fan fiction, so much fan fiction, and I feel like a lot of it came from that. And just being a teenager feeling a lot of things.
Yeah, that makes you sound like a complement to Grace of Snidget, who just had “Sad Songs for Sad Girls in Hogsmeade.”
Avery: Yes! Mm. Grace? They are one of the people who have kept me connected to the wizard rock community because of those compilations that they did, and also just being a wonderful and nice person who keeps in touch, you know? It’s helped me stay connected to everything else.
They are wonderful like that, for sure. But you cannot dodge the subject; we are talking about you and how wonderful you are.
Avery: Yeah. [laughs] Right, right. I know, I know, get a little dust of my shoulder.
You clearly touch a lot of people with your music, especially your subject choices. You have encompassed a lot of relationships that aren’t explored very deeply in canon, like Arthur and Molly or Dumbledore and Grindelwald, and you write about them in such a loving, insightful way. Why those subjects?
Avery: I think one of my favorite things about Harry Potter are the complicated relationships inside of it. And when I think of the things that really interest me and make me, like, think “What’s actually going on there, what did they do next?” are those kind of relationships that don’t get explored, and like I’ve said a million times already, I read a lot of fan fiction—and still do read a lot of fan fiction, and the best fan fics tended to involve these characters that weren’t, ah, explored enough in the books, you know? Because there was so much—there were so many directions you could go. I can write a song about Molly and Arthur and sort of rely on how I see them, you know? How I see them as this beautiful, loving couple that could make this beautiful family that welcomes so many people, you know? I kinda just put how I feel about these, uh, characters into those as well. And with Dumbledore and Grindelwald, you know, when I found out about that relationship, I was fascinated by it. Because it’s, again, one of—maybe one of the most complicated relationships in the book and I read so much fan fiction about that as well. I feel like that inspired it.
So it’s the space that they give you to flesh them out yourself, rather than strictly following canon.
Avery: Yes, exactly. And it allows, it allows me to put some of my emotions in there too, sort of what I’m feeling, what I’m going through as well.
So you do a lot of processing through songwriting?
Avery: Oh most definitely. I think it’s one of the only ways I know how to process my emotions. I just put out an EP of my muggle music called “The Self-Care EP” because music, it sort of is my therapy, you know? It is sort of my meditation, my way of diving into myself.
I think it’s very wonderful of you to share that opportunity with other people.
Avery: I’m just always so happy other people want to listen to it, you know?
Mhm. So, fan fiction is a huge inspiration for you, do you write it yourself?
Avery: Heh, no. I am so bad at writing fan fiction. Like, terrible. I used to show it to my friends and their feedback helped me understand that I should better stick to songwriting.
Avery: It was just so—it’s so corny, you know? Because those sort of sappy things that I sing about, they sound great in a song, but when I just write them out in a sentence? It’s all bad.
That can’t possibly be true. I will read, you know, coffee shop AUs all day.
Avery: Okay, okay. Well, it’s something I will never do so…
It’s time for a music break. First up is “The Adventure Lives On” by Kingsley and the Shacklebolts.
“Luna, I Believe in You” was a special request from Moritz, another of my beloved patrons.
Welcome back magical friends. On with the interview!
One of my WZRD Radio patrons has some questions about your song “The Story of John and Amy,” which they noted is “a thing of pure beauty” and moved them to tears when they first heard it.
Avery: Thank you!
But, is it fan fic? A commentary? What inspired it?
Avery: Yeah, so, one of the things I really like to do is—I like to write more about the wizarding world moreso than just the things that happen in the Harry Potter books. I was trying to think of just a story of just, like, two random Hogwarts folks. And, going along with my theme of ‘complicated relationships,’ I always like to think about those interhouse conflicts and relationships, you know what I mean? Cuz I feel like those are just really interesting, you know, the things and the hoops that they have to go through. And kind of thinking back to it, you know, growing up as a queer kid in Oklahoma it was kind of something that I could relate to. You know, having to fight for your relationship, having to hide it, having to be secret and wondering what other people were going to think. But the two characters in the song, they’re just two characters I made up and just named them John and Amy. I don’t know why those names, like the most basic names ever, but it was just what came to me. The music in that song is one of my favorites, because there are so many elements and so much, just, acoustic guitar in it. I’m just really happy about what it says and how it turned out. Thanks for asking.
I like when people write Romeo and Juliet style stories about Hogwarts students, you know in music or in fic, it’s never, like, a Hufflepuff and a Ravenclaw.
The divide is always Gryffindor versus Slytherin.
Avery: Right. That would actually…I think that needs to be a song…maybe it’ll be the next one, who knows. I guess we don’t think they’re t—different, you know? I feel like uh, a relationship between a Hufflepuff and a Ravenclaw might actually be the relationship that takes over the world.
That would certainly be worth watching, I think.
You just got married, right?
Avery: I did just get married, yes.
Avery: Thank you.
Are you and your wife rendered by houses?
Avery: So, this is going to sound really awful, but Colleen…she is not a huge Harry Potter fan. She’s seen all the movies, but she has not read all of the books. So when we talk about houses she believes she’s a Gryffindor but then it kind of switches. But I don’t mind that it switches, because like Dumbledore said, I think we sort too early and I think that we sort too few times—or, just the one time isn’t enough. I feel like maybe we should sort ourselves frequently. But I am a Gryffindor. I, ah, for a while thought I was a Slytherin but I don’t think I’m a Slytherin. I think I just thought it was cool. But I’m definitely just a Gryffindor and so is Colleen.
So we’ve talked a lot about your early writing, when you were in high school and, and your first albums.
What would ‘early wrock’ you think of you and your music now?
Avery: Oh wow. I think I would…I think I would be pretty blown away. I am more confident in my music now, and I think it kinda shows. And I think I’ve kinda found what I like for it to sound like. Yeah, I think I’d be really proud of myself, which is nice to say.
Has a lot changed or is—are some things still the same?
Avery: Yeah a lot has changed. It’s been, gosh, over ten years since that first album came out. And transitioning has really changed my music a lot. You know, my voice is definitely not what it was, it’s not the same. But I think it’s still good in its own new and unique way, you know, a little bit more gruff. It helps me kind of have to make a decision about what I want to do instead of just “la–,” you know, all the time. But yeah, I think my song writing has gotten, I think, less about—well, I would say less about love, but maybe just less naïve about love, if that makes sense? I think that, I don’t know, I’ve just found a nice rhythm.
I’m sure your, ah, wife would be thrilled to hear that, that you are ‘less naïve about love’ these days.
Avery: Right. I’m an old married pro of two days of marriage.
You’ve mentioned that the friendships you made early on in wizard rock were deeply influential.
Does that still hold true? Is it the same people or…
Avery: Yeah, so, I’m from Tulsa, Oklahoma and my first wizard rock so was, uh, was at Hardesty Library in, uh, what was called Connor’s Cove. It was actually a really cool venue for a wizard rock show because it’s, like, a small concert hall, like a small theater, right? It had this really cool stage, like it was wood so it had really cool acoustics as well. And I went there and I actually met in person for the first time my friend Matt, gosh, E-Claire was there I think, even A.C. was there, Sara Paulson was there… Just, like, all these people from, like, online talking about wizard rock, we all met each other for the first time. From there because we’re in Oklahoma into this really kind of niche thing—and we’re all kind of a little queer too—and so we all just kind of grasped around each other and became really good friends. And my friend Elisa, who I met through wizard rock who I was telling you about I can go to L.A now—and I remember I went to go stay with her and Matt was there and I got to meet his husband…and I still follow everyone and how they’re doing in life because we’ve known each other for over ten years now, you know? Like AC, they’re in Oklahoma City and they’ve, like, been doing amazing work and we run in the same work circles a little bit as well which is kind of fun saying, like, “Yeah, I met this person through Harry Potter.” And my Harry Potter folks always have a couch I can stay on…I don’t know, they’re just really great friends I know that I always have and I’m just so incredibly grateful.
What about your first performance, do you remember what that was like?
Avery: Mm. I remember, ah, it was me, Kaitlin, and E-Claire. We drove down to Texas to go play at this show. It was at a bar. Someone had put it together and I remember, ah, god, Godric’s Hollow was there, I was super excited about that. Kwikspell was playing, gosh, and a wizard rock band from Chicago and I wish I could remember who they were…that’s gonna bother me… But that was my first show and I brought all this equipment like my acoustic guitar, I brought three of my amps because I didn’t know what I needed, I brought, like, a mic and a mic stand cuz I didn’t know what was going on and, uh, yeah. I played and people were really into it. I played stuff from the second album, I think. I just felt like “wow, I’m really playing music, for real.” I’d actually thrown up on the way up there and, uh, and I had to switch my pants and all I had were these red sweats and so you’ll see these pictures of just, like, a Hogwarts sweater and, like, my red basketball sweats on.
Oh no! Was it nerves?
Avery: I got car sick, I think is all it was. And, you know, talking about Harry Potter friends again, Kaitlin is someone I keep in touch with all the time cuz she’s here in Tulsa and she works at the library. She’s the coolest librarian. Sorry, just on a tangent now.
No, no worries. It’s, ah, good you’re shouting your friends out cuz now they have to come listen to my show.
Avery: Exactly, exactly. No, I’m forever grateful for the people I’ve met through Harry Potter.
What about your most recent show? Is the community still the same, is the energy changed?
Avery: Oh gosh. People actually know who I am and are, like, excited to hear me which is really cool. It’s made me, like, definitely “Oh, I need to make more wizard rock, you know? What am I doing?” and, uh, the last show I did was the Yule Ball put on by the Harry Potter Alliance and that was mind-blowing because I was playing on the same show as, like, Harry and the Potters who are just, like, OGs right there and they are the first wizard rock I ever heard. And so that was amazing. The energy, I would say, is actually really exciting. It’s really energizing to me, you know, because it felt more like I was just “Oh, I’m just a fan who also makes music sometimes, but nobody listens to it or knows who I am.” And now people, like, I’m a wizard rocker! It’s cool.
So you said you’re feeling the pressure to create more wizard rock, are you working on some? Is there anything we should be getting excited for?
Avery: [laughs] Yeah. So, I have been working on a couple of different projects. There’s one where I just want to record a lot of my older music with my current voice. Yeah, I think people would really like that and I kinda want to do it myself so when I show people my wizard rock, you know, it sounds like me as I do now. I think that would be really nice.
And, ah, so I have this wizard rock alter—not alter ego, but just I sometimes think of myself as–St. Mungo is what I like to call it. When I write a St. Mungo song, it doesn’t use guitar, or something. It’s kind of, like, all electronic, or it’s just like a beat or something, it’s just a different kind of vibe. And so I’ve been trying to make a lot of St. Mungo’s songs recently, just because I think it’s fun. Like, uh, on the Harry Potter Alliance compilation I did a song “Everybody’s Feeling Different” and that’s kind of how I would think of, like, a St. Mungo’s song. I probably shouldn’t be throwing out all my—all my things here because it might not ever happen.
Yeah, no, please do put all the stuff out there so that we can all put some pressure on you.
Cuz we all want new How Airplanes Fly as much as you want to give it to us.
Avery: Yeah, yeah. Definitely, definitely. And I just need to—to get it done. I’ve been definitely doing a lot more recording recently, but it’s just putting it all together.
Well that’s exciting.
Avery: Yeah, thank you, thank you. I’m really excited about it.
And that is a good point for our final music break. First up is Bella and the Deatheaters with “Azkaban Lullaby.”
That was “Azkaban Lullaby” by Bella and the Deatheaters, “Such Was He Made” by Edgar and the Family Bones, “Full Moon Rising” by The Vanishing Cabinet, and “Hit the Ground Running” by The Remedial Potions.
Avery, I am so glad you could join me today. Thank you for giving us a peek behind the “How Airplanes Fly” curtain.
Avery: Yeah, no, thanks for being some sunshine to peek out into.
Where can WZRD Radio listeners find you online?
Avery: Yeah, so you can find me on Facebook at Avery Marshall Music. You can also find my muggle music there. I just put out that EP I was telling you about. It’s on Spotify, iTunes, all the other things. You can also find me on Instagram, Avery Marshall Music. And there’s also a Twitter. If you look up “How Airplanes Fly” or “AveryMarsMusic” you’ll find me there as well. Oh! You can find, uh, my old albums on BandCamp.
But not your newest one?
Avery: No, it’s—well, I guess maybe you can find it on BandCamp. I don’t know, I haven’t looked. I’ll have to do that.
All right, it’ll be an adventure for everyone.
Congratulations to Moritz and Mike, who were the first ones to guess episode 18’s theme of ‘meta wrock.’ Fun fact: that theme was suggested by Endever of homo qui vixit, my invaluable themes brain trust.
As always, links to the songs you heard today are included in the transcript at WZRDRadioPod.WordPress.com. If you heard your new favorite song during this episode, consider buying it and telling all your friends how awesome it is. We’ve got to support our wizard rockers because without them, we wouldn’t be here.
If you’ve got a spare two muggle dollars a month, consider joining the WZRD Radio Patreon at Patreon.com/WZRDRadioPod. Not only do you ensure I can do interview episodes like this one, you support Yes All Witches in their mission to raise up queer and BIPoC voices in wizard rock.
And if you want to keep in touch with me between episodes, you can find me on Twitter at WZRDRadioPod. If you’re not on social media, you can leave comments on the transcript or email me at WZRDRadioPod@gmail.com.
And now, it’s How Airplanes Fly!
Avery: Hey, this song is called, ah, “Leave You Behind.” It’s a song about Snape and Lily, another complicated relationship. I hope you enjoy it.
“Leave You Behind” plays.