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I called Steph Darland to talk about his music. The first thing he said to me was, “Let me put you on speaker so I can talk with my hands.” Steph, guitarist, and Amber Pearson, cellist, form the duo Fur Foxen, a group that started out playing small gigs at coffeehouses like Alchemy and is now a favorite in Salt Lake clubs.

The first thing I asked Steph about was the band’s name: Fur Foxen. Why? I couldn’t see what his hands were saying, but his unexpected answer was, “I love alliteration.” “Our previous band was a trio called Harold Henry. And I’m obsessed with foxes—my house is filled with images of foxes. Foxen is the old English plural for fox.”

Finally, we talked about the music.

Steph started playing the guitar when he was 23, but even more than gaining facility with the instrument, he’s interested in writing songs. “I write about six to ten songs a month,” he says. “They’re not all good, but they are a kind of therapy.”

Raised in Amarillo, Texas, he moved to Dallas but had a tough time breaking into the music scene there. His day job at Whole Foods is what brought him to Utah, where he found a more open and yet tightly knit musical community. He and Amber host the Foxhole Sessions, a podcast of local bands for small, intimate audiences that foster community as well as sharing music. 

“I don’t come from a musical family,” says Steph. “I don’t listen to a lot of music and what I do listen to is all over the board. Of course, I like singer-songwriters.” And he says, “The more raw the capture the better. Authenticity is something you can’t hide in music. It’s not about proficiency. You love it because it’s real.” — Mary Brown Malouf

See more Small Lake City Concerts here. Salt Lake Magazine’s Small Lake City Concerts were produced by Natalie Simpson of Beehive Photography and Video.