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Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Gentlemanly Conversation with Kemp and Eden

When I first contacted these guys I had no idea what I was getting into.  I got to an advanced copy of their debuted album to review, and before I knew it I had a phone interview planed.  Unfortunately, between these guy’s busy schedule, and the fact I kept missing the appointed times, I had to settle for an email interview.  (You can check out my album review here)
Even though I didn’t get to talk to Kemp and Eden first had me and John thought of some pretty good questions about their childhood collaborations, song writing influences, and of course the new LP.

How did you meet?
Eden Rice: Trying to catch baby ducklings by a lakeside.
Charlotte Kemp Muhl: Kidnapping ducklings!

What made you decide to start doing music together?
CKM: We wrote a song on my moms piano for some boy Eden had a crush on, in a plot to win him over. I still remember the melody- it was pretty strange. 
ER: I wanted to write a love song for this guy I had a crush on in middle school and Kemp had started playing guitar and keyboards so we lit candles, stowed ourselves away in her room and came up with a melody. Quite silly, but that was the beginning. 

Do you think going from being childhood friends to bandmates has really changed anything?
CKM: Not really. We've always had a creatively charged dynamic. We're like sisters, so we're not afraid to speak our minds. Sometimes we bicker, but ultimately it's very rewarding and symbiotic. 
ER: Nah, we're like siblings, we'll always be close. Of course we bicker over the music sometimes but creative challenges are great for any relationship.

As kids did you ever think you would actually be recording the music your wrote?
CKM: Well, that was the fantasy, but we kind of lost sight of it as we grew up.
ER: Well it was our fantasy at the time, we loved writing songs and singing together, but after a while we both went separate ways, she started modeling and I became a painter. It's been a delight to return to our childhood dream. 

Your website says you wrote songs when you were younger. What were you listening to when your were writing these songs?
ER: Alison Krauss, Simon & Garfunkel, Peter Paul & Mary, Reba McEntire, Loreena McKennitt and Jewel
CKM: Simon And Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, Lead Belly, Erik Satie and a lot of classical music.  

Are some of the tracks on the album some of the songs your wrote as kids?
CKM: Most of them, actually! Some dating back to when we were 14 years old. But I've revamped them a little.
ER: Several of them date back to our early teens.

Has your work in GOASTT influenced this project?
CKM: Certainly, I've learned a lot making music with my boyfriend, who is a complete museo nerd. But the new GOASTT electric record will sound very different. It's more psychedelic rock, while Kemp and Eden is more folk.

Where do you draw influence for your lyrics from?
ER: Life observations, dreams and science magazines
CKM: Science magazines, Nabokov, Paul Simon, my journals, etc....

Why did you guys decide to cover “Sparrow” on the album?
CKM: Because we've always had a close connection to birds.... That's how we met, was catching ducklings. Plus I raised birds in shoeboxes my whole childhood. To this day we decorate everything with feathers and collect taxidermed birds as well. 
ER: We wanted to cover "Sparrow" in a way that was haunting and memorable. It's one of my favorite Paul Simon songs, it reads like a children's fairy tale with characters like the Oak Tree, the Swan, the Golden Wheat, yet conveys a story of human apathy, vanity and greed. When I first heard it I was reminded of my mother reading "The Giving Tree" to me as a child, a story that never leaves you.

Do you think your album has an overlaying theme?
CKM: Cynical words with romantic melodies. Young girls coming of age.
ER: Coming of age musings, storytelling, and hope on the edge of cynicism. 

Who are some people you admire playing music right now?
CKM: tUnE-yArDs, Devendra Bernhart, Cibo Matto, Nels Cline....
ER: Some of my current favorites: Gillian Welch, Adele, Rosi Golan, The Cumberland Collective (a group of singer/songwriters from across the U.S., they give some of the most entertaining live shows I've ever seen) and all my wonderful roommates of course!  

What’s your ideal live venue?
CKM: The forest. Or by a lake.
ER: In a canyon under the stars!

One of the coolest thing (and something you probably noticed) is they are pretty similar.  Even though they each emailed their answers separately they seem to have very similar answers right down to the same words.  These guys must certainly have a close relationship to think so alike, and I think it really shows in their music.  Speaking of which I got a to finish this post with some music.  How about an acoustic version of "Sugarcane Sword." Also check out their tumbler, facebook, and website for updates, videos and some pretty cool pictures.  

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