• UO Music: Following Tennis at Sea

    When 12-year-old Alaina Moore wrote down her bucket list—borrowing from books she'd read about sword fights and other romantic notions—she couldn't have assumed that she'd check one of those life goals off in the capacity that she did. "For some reason," she recalls, "I wrote down that I wanted to go on this sailboat and have all of these crazy adventures, even though I didn't know anyone who'd done it and I hadn't read a book about that one. I don't know why it struck me."
    Photos by Luca Venter

    Eventually, it struck much harder. When the singer met her now husband, Patrick Riley, back in college, she remembers eyeballing stacks of books on his coffee table, all about single-handedly sailing around the world and other seafaring ways. She thought it was kind of odd, considering the two lived in landlocked Denver. But, at the same time, "As philosophy majors," she says of the duo's college coursework, "we weren't living life, we were just reading about it. And we felt like we needed to experience the world." 

    So in 2010, that's exactly what they did. Shortly after Alaina and Patrick graduated from college, they bought two one-way tickets to Florida and sold everything they had that wouldn't fit in the two allotted suitcases they gave themselves. "We went straight to Fort Lauderdale, took a bus right to sailing school—where we went for a week—and then bought the cheapest boat we could find," and, she adds, "moved right onto it." 

    As if she kind of doesn't even believe it, she repeats that last part: "The day after sailing school ended, we moved on to a boat."

    Limited energy access made for a pretty quiet trip to start. Because what energy sources they did have on the boat were mostly reserved for turning the lights on and off and starting the engine, they played around with the idea of making their own music. "The lack of it made us realize what we liked, and how much we missed it," Alaina remembers. Then, while they were docked at a tiki bar in the Florida Keys, "Baby It's You" by The Shirelles came on the radio. "While it was playing," she says, "I thought at that moment how much I was in love with that type of songwriting and production. That was probably the first seed that planted Tennis."

    You can hear the heartfelt, syrupy doo-wop inspiration in Tennis' 2011 Cape Dory, the record that was born from this particular sailing trip. It's a lo-fi journey into the '60s production and baby-come-back lyricism that was signature of the popular girl groups of that era, but with a modern, fuzz twist.  

    That was five years and three albums ago. Just this week, Tennis embarked on their second sailing trip together—prepping for over four months at sea. The occasion? They're working on a new album, due out early next fall, and they need to give it its sea legs. 

    In our ongoing Tennis at Sea series, we'll be checking in with the band regularly along the way—documenting their voyage through photos, Alaina's diary entries (which, last time, served as lyrics for Cape Dory), and regular land check-ins with the small but super talented crew. 

    Follow Tennis' seafaring ways here on the UO Blog, via Instagram, and by signing up for the band's newsletter, and be on the lookout for a new record and photo book by the group's longtime friend and photographer, Luca Venter, who's capturing the entire experience this Fall. 

    Shop Music