San Fermin is the work of Brooklyn composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone. After finishing his musical studies at Yale, Ludwig-Leone wrote the album in six weeks while holed up in a studio on the mountainous border between Alberta and British Columbia. He focused on lifeʼs top-shelf issues – youth, nostalgia, anxiety, unrequited love – and tied these vast themes to different characters through vocal contributions from longtime friend Allen Tate, as well as Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius.
San Fermin is not an album of singles but rather a sweeping, full-bodied listen with multiple distinct peaks and ambitious thematic connections. Ludwig-Leone composed all of the album’s arrangements and lyrics in full prior to collaborating and recording, noting that “writing for a large group of unknown musicians infused the writing process with a kind of operatic scope.”
The first track released from the album, “Sonsick,” tackles many of these larger themes head-on. “It’s like a panic attack disguised as a birthday party,” Ludwig-Leone says. “I realized that the most intense moments are the ones in which conflicting emotional worlds exist inside you, equally, at once.”
The eight-member live outfit is comprised of Allen Tate and Rae Cassidy, lead vocals; Rebekah Durham, vocals/violin; Stephen Chen, saxophone; John Brandon, trumpet; Mike Hanf, drums; Tyler McDiarmid, guitar; and Ellis Ludwig-Leone, keyboard.
San Fermin is available on CD, vinyl and digital outlets via Downtown Records. The name is pronounced [SAN fur-MEEN]