We met at a bookstore in high school. I found out he gave guitar lessons and I had just gotten a guitar. So Nathaniel started coming over to my house every week to teach me to play, which then turned into songwriting, which turned into an epically rad life together.
2. What made you want to start a career in music?
I don’t think it was any one thing that lead Nathaniel or me into a career of music, but rather tons of small things.
Both of us have always loved music, it has been the gateway to us living the grandest version of our greatest selves. At a young age I knew I was cut out to be a musician because I was always writing and always singing. Then, at the age of fifteen, I met Nathaniel (who was seventeen at the time). He was this incredible artist and musician in high school, so when we got together we really hit it off and so did our music.
In the depths of our souls we were unconventional and we knew it. During the final months of our college years we knew there was no reason to fight that desire to pursue our dreams. So we listened, wrote, planned, and plotted along. The biggest thing was both had this gut feeling about music being forever in our lives. Looking back, thank God we followed our gut together.
That gut feeling has lead us out here for the past six years touring the world. Currently, we are on The Unity Collective 50 State Tour spreading a message of Unity by performing and inviting our fans to sign our car (aka The Unity Car) with their uplifting message of unity and peace.
At the end of this eight-month tour we will auction The Unity Car off and donate the proceeds to help build Memorial Children’s Hospital in our hometown of South Bend, Indiana.
Our dream is to raise enough money from the auction of The Unity Car to support a full time music therapist for the kids at Memorial Children’s Hospital.
3. How would you describe your songwriting process?
It can be as simple as one of us writing a song alone, to one of us writing the melody and the other writing the music, or one of us writing the melody and music and both of us writing the words together. We keep it very open and organic.
Also, now that we are so busy touring, we made it a point to set out time to write together and alone. The songs are the holy grail of what we do. We see them as being the steering wheel to our ship. The songs are everything.
4. What influences led to your current sound?
In no particular order, Wilco, Feist, Pink Floyd, Grizzly Bear, Sufjan Stevens, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, Ryan Adams, and Simon & Garfunkel.
5. How would you describe your new album “Tones”?
TONES is the album we have been dreaming up for years. It is an alternative rock album with heavy pop and folk influences. It is soulful, rich, and thought provoking – while subtly empowering and inspiring our listeners to be more fully present in the now-ness of life.
We spent over three years creating TONES and when you listen to the album you can hear the shift in direction as this record really showcases our vocals in a big way. From Nathaniel’s deep, soothing, ethereal vocals to my soulful, robust vocals; we blended our voices together like never before.
Plus, with TONES we wanted to go for a refined yet playful sound. We did this by placing swelling harmonies and catchy earworm melodies throughout the tracks. Not to mention, the insane musicality that landed on this album still blows my mind. Nathaniel wrote so many vibrant guitar riffs and secondary melodies on an assortment of instruments.
One of my favorites is the vintage Mellotron going off in the background of Forget About Tomorrow. It’s soft and really added the vibe we were going for. We were able to gather together an all all-star cast of musicians from Jack White’s harpist, Timbre Cierpke, to Jewels violinist, Mark Evitts, and so many more talented players and producers.
6. How do you feel the progression between the 2012 “Static Flowers” record and 2016 “Tones” has benefited your sound?
In the scheme of life a lot of growing up occurred for us between 2012’s “Static Flowers” and the February 2016 release of TONES. During those four years we did our first European tour, got married, moved to New York City, successfully ran our first Kickstarter to fund TONES, re-imagined The Bergamot, and toured America a couple times over. It’s wild what life can throw at you in a four-year period, however if you really listen to the songs on TONES you can hear our entire story up to this point.
7. How do you think streaming services affect the artist and their art?
Oh, gosh. Streaming services…don’t even get me started.
When someone listens to our album on Spotify or any of the digital streaming realms we get paid in micro-pennies, which is brutal because our payment amount to just a couple dollars in revenue from thousands of plays.
As I mentioned, streaming is especially difficult for the indie artist because streaming cut out almost the entire revenue stream from selling records.
Currently, we utilize a direct-to-fan business model. This allows us to sell tickets, and t-shirts to our most ardent followers via crowdfunding and social media barrages that help us prosper independently.
We started Both Records in 2011 as a means to create a business that would allow us to separate our creative selves and our business selves. So, in essence we started it for very practical reasons, and it has grown from just the two of us to having employees who work for us from New York City to our design team in LA and Portland.Plus, we didn’t want anyone telling us how to write and produce our music.
Find your authentic voice, love what you do, and work your ass off. Nothing comes to you for free; this is an industry where one must possess massive grit and resilience.
If you can handle someone slamming a door in your face over and over again, then you will be a good fit for the music industry.
Be creative and hustle. It is worth it when you perform live for your fans. The music and your fans are all that matter. Lastly, go forth and spread joy.
10. If you could record with any producer who would it be?
1. Justin Bieber or One Direction? Justin Bieber
2. Coffee or tea? Coffee for Nathaniel and Tea for me
3. More peanut butter or more jelly? All the way peanut-butter
4. Lakes or Oceans? Both
5. Beach or Mountains? Beach
A Word from the band: Shine ON and Infinite Gratitude