Like its genre, the beginning of Auburn indie band Solar Fleur is hard to place.
It could’ve begun when a few ninth-grade friends played a weird mixture of garage rock and bassoon in their parents’ houses in Madison, Alabama, or maybe when Keegan Haanschoten submitted a song he wrote to The Auburn Circle during his junior year at Auburn and decided to bring his friends together to play for a house party on West Chewacla Avenue.
Their beginning could’ve been over the course of a couple of years as the loose group of musicians in college changed lead vocalists and ran through short-lived band names like Tsarina and Hickey Trauma before finally settling on Solar Fleur.
Or maybe trying to trace a band’s beginning is just like trying to fit its sound into a neat little category: it’s difficult, uncertain and, in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Maybe the only things that matter are if people like listening to the music and if the musicians like playing it, and if Solar Fleur’s recent popularity and show bookings are any indications, then they’re a local success.
Jon Elgan, the saxophone and bassoon player, said that he, rhythm guitarist Haanschoten and lead guitarist David Horn all started playing music at the same time when they were friends growing up in northern Alabama.
“We were doing garage band for a few years in high school, and I had always played bassoon, clarinet, saxophone — woodwind instrument stuff like that — and it was hard because that didn’t translate into a rock band or anything that we would want to do,” Elgan said. “So during college, we did a bunch of really weird sounding stuff like acoustic, Cajon instead of drums. We had bowed guitar, singing saw, we kind of did some crazy, eclectic stuff, but this year, we figured out how to mash everything together.”
Most of the band agreed that Haanschoten is the main creative force behind the band, who named Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes as a major influence in his
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Haanschoten said that Solar Fleur’s sound differs from song to song, as Haanschoten writes most of the lyrics and the basic structure of the songs before showing them to the rest of the band to flesh out in practice.
“Our sound is really a patchwork kind of thing with me writing singer-songwriter stuff and then giving it to them,” Haanschoten said. “Sometimes it turns out jazzy, sometimes it turns out kind of
Lead vocalist Anna Porter joined Solar Fleur last fall after meeting Haanschoten at a Leroy Gold show at Avondale after the band’s former singer had to drop out due to time constraints.
Despite having no formal musical training, Porter said she’s always wanted to be in a band, and, at first, she just tried to loosely imitate Lana Del Ray before finding her own voice.
“Being in a band has definitely made me make a lot of friends. ... and I’ve always wanted to be in a band and sing so it’s just kind of been a very good outlet for me,” Porter said.
The Solar Fleur that exists today formed last November after Porter was recruited, and the band decided on its current name. After that, they recorded their first full-length album at a recording studio in Athens, Alabama, and released it onto Band Camp.
Solar Fleur has been a mainstay of the Auburn indie scene ever since, playing at house parties around town alongside bands like Leroy Gold, Dogwood Lung
However, the future of the band looks uncertain, as drummer Emily Ong, bassist Matt Kucera, Elgan, Horn
“I’m thinking about just doing my own
Solar Fleur still plans to play for the remainder of the semester, including playing at shows at their favorite house parties on weekends, having a show at The Nick in Birmingham on March 21, releasing a third album later this year and playing at the Arboretum Azalea Festival on March 31.
“We’re going to see if there’s some way we can continue on in some fashion, but as of now it looks like we have until May to book all of our shows,” Haanschoten said.
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