• UO Music: Tennis at Sea Day 90

    “We no longer feel defeated by the sea,” Alaina Moore begins, “just that it’s possessed.” The rough seafaring songwriting journey she and husband Patrick Riley—who comprise the group Tennis—took to write their next record proved to be a less than idyllic experience, encountering rough waters and very little downtime. However, 90 days into the voyage, the tides have quite literally turned.
    Since pulling into San Juanico, Mexico, Patrick and Alaina have gotten into a routine that’s less dependent on pure survival and more reliant on creativity and freedom.
    “It’s like the best childhood game you’ve ever played,” Alaina says of this leg of their trip. “We usually scream like children 100 times a day.”
    Their days include cozying up on the boat to write and only leaving to take a reprieve to swim off the side of the vessel—whichi is a welcome change from the marathon sailing sessions of the previous portion of the expedition.
    We caught up with the pair for our Tennis at Sea UO Blog Series to find out all about the album’s progress, dock life, and how they're holding up on their charming little sailboat.
    Photos by Luca Venter

    Hi, Alaina! Can you tell us where you are and where you’ve just sailed from?
    We have spent the last weeks working our way further north into the sea. The landscape changes as we ascend in latitude, more lovely, more prehistoric. It took a while to find a cove with adequate shelter—somewhere we could hole up until our provisions run out. At last, we found San Juanico: a gem, a geologist’s dream. Towering pinnacle rocks, stands of cacti growing out of striated cliffs topped with osprey nests. Schools of fish move in the shadow of our keel and we name them and swim with them and they nibble on our toes and anchor chain. The charts for the sea are inaccurate, off by up to a mile, so we’ve adopted the old explorers technique of anchoring in deep water and then sounding the cove with our rowboat. We make our own little map of depths and dangers, then re-anchor accordingly. It is so fulfilling.

    Has the sea given you a break yet? The last time we chatted, it was pretty choppy and difficult.
    The weather in the sea is difficult to forecast and information is sparse. We’ve started just sailing out and if we get our asses kicked in the first hour we turn around and run back. The abundance of anchorages helps. There are places to hide.

    You mentioned you wanted to spend more time on this trip writing from here on out. Has that been possible?
    We stopped voyaging and started writing. As soon as we gave ourselves permission to write it’s come in a torrent. Our routines are simple and the album is starting to take on a definite sound and shape. The inherent limitations of working on the boat have given us a streamlined sense of focus that we don’t have on land. It’s easier to see right to the heart of a song, to know what you have and if you’re doing what’s best.

    What have you learned from the voyage thus far?
    That we aren’t ready to cross an ocean but one day we might. That we write better in isolation because we are completely free and uncritical—everything has potential and we see it through without judgment.
    Is there anything you would have done differently?
    The only thing we would change is to give ourselves more time, [because] there is never enough of that!

    Follow along on Tennis' journey through the UO Blog, Instagram, and by signing up for the group's newsletter.