Alabama-based duo firekid finds new beginnings on their recently released four-song EP XY. Made up of Dillon Hodges and Heidi Feek, firekid blends bluegrass and old time music with elements of pop and hip hop. The album was recorded during a challenging time for both Hodges and Feek, who were both dealing with personal losses -- Heidi with the recent death of her mother, Joey Feek, and Dillon with the loss of his ex-wife, who was killed in a hit and run.
Feek, the daughter of country singer Rory Feek, said the songs were a way of dealing with tragedy.
"We didn't really know how to deal with some things that were happening in our lives and that's probably the only way that Dillon and I know how is just to write songs about them," Feek tells Wide Open Country.
The trippy and lush "XY" was written about the looming heartache over a previous relationship.
"We've found the writing process overall is really therapy for us," Hodges says. "'XY' is about my ex-wife passing away. It's something we definitely felt we needed to write about ... under the guise of it being kind of a happy-sounding production style."
The EP also features a collaboration with Rory Feek on "Boomerang," a reimagining of a song Hodges had recorded for an earlier project. The song marked Rory Feek's first time back in the studio since the death of his wife, Joey.
"After we had these things happen in our lives 'Boomerang' just took on a whole different meaning and so to re-record it we would definitely be coming from a different place. I loved the idea and Dillon loved the idea. So as we were gearing up to record it we just thought, well, what if we could ask dad to sing on it? That would be amazing," Heidi Feek says. "So we brought the idea to him, knowing that he hasn't recorded anything since my mom passed away."
Feek grew up performing with her father, who's been open about his life with daughters Heidi, Hopie and Indiana in his books This Life I Live and Once Upon a Farm.
"I've been singing with him since I was probably 5 or 6. He used to play a lot of the bars in Texas when I was a kid and he'd always get me up to sing "Daddy What If," which is a Bobby Bare and Bobby Bare Jr. song. The crowd always really loved that. That's when we'd make the 20 dollar bills," Feek says, laughing. "As an adult I started singing backup for him and Joey and they had been playing with a band. Once I joined them they decided let's just do it with the three of us. So I toured around with them for a three years doing backup. We always find a way to work together."
The duo merges old-time music with hip hop on "Where My Money Goes," which features Alabama rapper Chika, and "Baby You Done Me Wrong," which samples an old Uncle Dave Macon song and features a clip of Hodges competing in guitar contest when he was 16.
"We were inspired by the music of Uncle Dave Macon and we thought it could be juxtaposed with other music," says Hodges, who adds that firekid is inspired by '90s hip hop groups like Tribe Called Quest and soulful groups from their hometown of Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
"I feel like when you make your music a mosaic of influences and you are selective about what you use then you can get away with bringing many more different kinds of genres together," Hodges says.
For more information on firekid, visit the duo's official website.