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If the pairing of guitarist/front man Daniel Morones, 32, and cellist Lizzi Murtough, 17, seems a little unusual, all you have to do is realize that yes, this Tustin duo's name is a reference to the 1981 Disney film The Fox and the Hound, which tells the story of two unlikely friends who struggle to keep their friendship despite their natural instincts. Their strummy, pathos-laden music is an optimistically romantic brand of folk-rock, skewing more Elliott Smith than Peter, Paul and Mary.
OC Weekly: How did you and Lizzi meet?
Daniel Morones: I had asked a cellist to perform in LA, and the first cellist I hired flaked on me two days before the show. I wanted to do something orchestral, so I was scrambling to find someone. My friend, [manager] Bill Bennet [who used to work with Dahga Bloom], said, "Hey, here's this person." It was last-minute, so I said, "Why don't we meet at my parents' house? She lives in Tustin." When she showed up, her mom was with her, and I thought it was Girl Scouts selling cookies or something. She's got a cello in her hand, and I was like, "You're Lizzi?" A couple of months ago, I hit her up for another thing I was doing. We had a connection, so I said, "Do you want to work on some music together?" It went from there.
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You guys are a duo—a conscious decision or necessity?
I wanted to go that minimalistic route. I wanted to get into a Jack White-esque sort of thing. He's a big inspiration to me. He said, "It's harder to get more out of less items than it is to add to things." That's what I wanted to go for.
Talk about your influences.
Elliott Smith—he's one of the guys in the pantheon for me—Harry Nilsson, Jeff Buckley. Those are the guys I really admire. Nilsson and Smith wrote big compositions, but they could still write really beautiful minimalistic types of songs.
Tell me about the reference to the Disney movie The Fox and the Hound and your decision to cover the film's title song.
I guess it's the aw-shucks-cheeky-how-cute thing. Her sister brought it up and said, "You guys kind of remind me of the fox and the hound because they're good friends and kind of not supposed to be friends." I looked it up and said, "That's actually a pretty fuckin' good song."
When you guys play that one live, does Lizzi actually sing while playing cello?
Yeah. We've been rehearsing. She lives a few minutes from me, and we rehearse a lot, like two to three nights per week for an hour. We got it down where she can play cello and sing at the same time. We had to do baby steps, but she does everything—she does harmonies now.
So is Lizzi heading for college now?
She just got a full ride to Chapman University a couple of days ago for cello. . . . I know she has a very specific goal of being first chair for the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra.
This column appeared in print as "Foxxhound Are Calling."