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Studio Session: Boomerang Sky finds inspiration in natural spaces

Jo Plicata of Boomerang Sky in WYSO's broadcast studio.
Juliet Fromholt
Jo Plicata of Boomerang Sky in WYSO's broadcast studio.

On June 5, Boomerang Sky joined WYSO Music Director Juliet Fromholt for a live interview and studio session following the release of his latest project, Acoustic Demos Vol.2: Wave 4, on April 4. Boomerang Sky is the brainchild of singer-songwriter Jo Plicata, who spoke with Juliet about moving to Portland, turning Boomerang Sky into a music collective, and composing songs in natural spaces.

The two years since Jo Plicata’s last performance on WYSO have been full of change. He and his partner Jordan–who joined Plicata on cajon during Boomerang Sky’s 2022 Kaleidoscope studio session–got married and embarked on a tour of the US, stopping in Asheville, New Orleans, Houston, and Denver before finally settling in Portland, Oregon, which has become the couple’s new home. Plicata said the move has “completely changed” his life. “The energy there is infectious. [Portland] is going through a tough time, as a lot of places are these days, but the heart and soul is still there, and those who are willing to tap into it are the people I’m collaborating with.”

In Portland, Plicata’s musical endeavors have taken new shape. Boomerang Sky, formally a solo or small-group project, has become a flexible collective, expanding or contracting to match the demands of each gig. “Sometimes I'll book acoustic gigs that are just me, or it'll be an acoustic gig with me and another guitarist, or me and a cajon player,” he said. “Or, I'll book band gigs and then reach out to the network that I'm creating for myself to see who's available to play said gig.”

Turning Boomerang Sky into a collective is more than a practical decision. Plicata said that learning to rely on other members of his newfound music community was an important exercise in trust.

“[Trusting others] is definitely something that I've struggled with throughout my life, and I feel like this has been a great way to tackle that head on. I find myself naturally drifting towards experiences that cause me to face my demons head on and be like, ‘Hey, this is how it is. And you're going to have to get over this in order to continue to evolve and become a better human, a better partner, a better friend.”

Plicata also says his songwriting has matured since his last visit to WYSO, partly as a result of his and Jordan’s trip across the country. “One of the greatest gifts that traveling gave to me was bringing my guitar with me on hikes and allowing the natural setting of all these different places that we were exploring to use me as a channel to create what needs to be created,” he said. “I’ve always been a pretty eclectic listener, but I feel like that’s definitely doubled down since actually soaking up the sound energy of these different places that we got to visit.”

Writing songs in natural spaces even challenged his conception about why he was creating music in the first place.

“Before, I discovered that I had a talent with music and I wanted to do the classic capitalist thing of taking my talent and turning it into money. I feel like what bringing the guitar with me into nature showed me is that creation is beautiful as it is, and it doesn’t need to have any kind of expectation attached to it. And when those expectations are let go of, it allows the quality of the creation to naturally flow through me better, because I’m not trying to put the creation into a box.”

Boomerang Sky’s Acoustic Demos Vol.2 Wave 4 is available on Bandcamp. Links to his social media and streaming profiles are available on Linktree.

Text by Peter Day, based on a live studio session hosted by Juliet Fromholt on June 5, 2024.

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Juliet Fromholt is proud to be music director at 91.3FM WYSO. Juliet began volunteering at WYSO while working at WWSU, the student station at her alma mater, Wright State University. After joining WYSO's staff in 2009, Juliet developed WYSO’s digital and social media strategy until moving into the music director role in 2021. An avid music fan and former record store employee, Juliet continues to host her two music shows, Alpha Rhythms and Kaleidoscope, which features studio performances from local musicians every week. She also co-hosts Attack of the Final Girls, a horror film review podcast.
Peter Day writes and produces stories for WYSO’s music department. His works include a feature about Dayton's premiere Silent Disco and a profile of British rapper Little Simz. He also assists with station operations and serves as fill-in host for Behind the Groove. Peter began interning at WYSO in 2019 and, in his spare time while earning his anthropology degree, he served as program director for Yale University’s student radio station, WYBC.