"The duo's sincere yet polished, cool yet warm, celestial yet humane approach towards sounds is integrated into a single intimate world of music with everything impeccably balanced. Thorn's and Jacob's ethereal voices convey subtle emotions, gently unfolding the narrative of their personal world into a unique space where the acoustic beauty of classical music and the accessibility of pop music humbly entwine around each other."
- Yuko Zama, Elsewhere Music
The Giving Shapes is a collaborative project between harpist/vocalist Elisa Thorn and pianist/vocalist Robyn Jacob that formed in fall 2017 at the Banff Centre for the Arts. The project triangulates aspects of new music, creative music, and song-writing, combining their classical training and their involvement with the Canadian creative and indie music scenes. Though they originally met while both pursuing degrees in classical music at UBC in 2007, they share an interest in many musical styles. Their sound reflects broad influences from artists including Nico Muhly, Bjork, Jonny Greenwood, David Lang, and Caroline Shaw.
Their debut album, Earth Leaps Up, was released on elsewhere music on Feb 24, 2020. It has enjoyed radio play on stations such as CBC, BBC, and KEXP.
Thorn and Jacob are interested in merging the familiar with the new, and draw from their wide range of influences to create music that is honest. Their approach involves equal parts of intellect and feeling, pursuing both accessibility and experimentation equally. The process of songwriting varies from song to song, but usually one of them brings in a kernel, and the two develop parts together, parts on their own, then back to different possibilities together.
“The piano and the harp are a really interesting match because they are so related in timbre and function, but individual enough to offer each unique sound palate. The possibilities of blend, texture, and harmonic depth are really exciting. Robyn is an endless inspiration to me in all the things that she does. We have quite different approaches to writing (Robyn is more rhythm and pattern-based, whereas I am driven mostly by melody and harmony) so the collaborative writing process is really interesting and stimulating.” (Elisa Thorn)
"I like Elisa's integrity and devotion to her artwork, and her attitude in general as a musician and an artist. Also, it is a privilege to be able to make art with one of your best friends." (Robyn Jacob)
The Giving Shapes is a synthesis of their shared musical aesthetic and curiosity with their long-standing relationship as co-curators and presenters. Music from the duo’s projects has been featured in jazz festivals such as the Montreal and Toronto Jazz Festivals, new music festivals like Music on Main, and indie pop festivals including the Campbell Bay Music Festival.