Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Interview With He Is We

He Is We is Rachel Taylor and Trevor Kelly, a singer/songwriter duet that has surged in popularity over the past year, now playing main support to The Downtown Fiction on their latest tour. At the April 23rd date of the tour, Rachel and Trevor took time out of their day to answer a few questions regarding Purevolume, choosing a label, Aaron Gillespie, movie soundtracks, and their upcoming headlining tour, as well as more, all of which you can read below.

Can you say who you are and what you do in the band?

R: I’m Rachel Taylor and I’m the singer.
T: I’m Trevor and I play acoustic Guitar

You guys got signed straight to a major label. Why did you bypass the route of going to a smaller label first?

R: We didn’t really have a choice.
T: We didn’t even have an option for a small one. I guess if we did have the option.
R: I don’t know, I wouldn’t change anything that’s happened. It just kind of came about and it’s weird because Motown feels like a smaller label because of how personal they are with us and just how we have a relationship with everyone on our team. So we kind of got the best of both worlds.
T: Motown is notorious for having urban artists, so we’re kind of like the outcasts. We almost get a special treatment but it is very personal there. So I guess it’s kind of like the indie record label feel that you would have versus a major where you get pushed to the side.

I’m sure you can say that Purevolume was your road to stardom. Is there something about that outlet which you chose to focus on that rather than Myspace?

R: Well, we have a relationship with the guy from Purevolume, Josh. And we liked the fact that his focus was music and he only would promote bands that he felt were worth it. You know, he actually has a relationship with the artists that he works with.
T: As for MySpace it’s all paid ads, where like anybody can just give MySpace five thousand dollars and they’ll slap their thing at the top. But it’s funny, Josh put it up as a joke for our manager, and said “by the way I put your band on the top band list on Purevolume, because I like it” and then the next thing you know we were number one for many consecutive weeks and it just blew us away. We were nobodies on Myspace, and Purevolume just gave us a huge push with growing.

Do you plan on rerecording or remastering some of the older demos on Purevolume to put on a new release?

T: Absolutely. We’ve discussed it. As for the new record you can tell there’s some new versions of “Blame It On The Rain”, what else did we do.
R: “Happily Ever After”.
T: “Happily Ever After”, the biggest one, you know, we redid. We’ve contemplated in the future should we redo “Radio”. We wouldn’t mind to put it on our next full length so it’s constantly in the back of our minds. I would love to, but I also love having the old demos to show the maturity of how we’ve grown from what we’ve came from. I don’t want to take away from that aspect of it if we were to rerecord and master everything.

Do you feel that bands need to stay in contact with their fans via social networks such as Twitter or Facebook, or is that simply just a bonus to the fans if the band happens to do that?

T: Well I feel like there’s a fine line between someone’s personal life and what they need to share but it is good to keep in contact with their fans.
R: I think it has to do with the kind of band you are.
T: Absolutely.
R: I feel like our band got this far because of our fans.
T: It wasn’t like we had a radio single.
R: Let’s use Lady Gaga as an example. She just blew up out of nowhere. For us it’s kind of like we’re progressively getting bigger but not because of just our label, it’s because of our fans are telling their friends, so I think we owe it out to our fans to actually thank them personally instead of just assuming they know we’re thankful.

How did you get involved with Aaron Gillespie for “All About Us”?

T: Beforehand, before we were even in this band we both loved metal. So like, he’s been a big inspiration for us in our music and our producer Aaron Sprinkle has been an inspiration for us based on what he’s put out. So when the band was started and we started getting a bit of recognition and we were able to record with him, I remember Rachel wrote the song “All About Us” and she was like “I need it to be a duet” and I’m not going to sing it to myself because it’ll be super weird. We were just throwing around ideas with Aaron Sprinkle with no expectations and asked “who should we get” and he just said “I’ll call up Aaron and see if he will do it”. And of course, he was on board. So it was easy, Rachel’s talked to him before and gave guidance and stuff which is super scary. Isn’t it weird giving someone you look up to in a musical aspect advice on what to do, saying “sing it this way and not this way” and they’re so humble they’re like “Yeah, yeah it’s totally cool”

Are there any other artists that you have talked to regarding some sort of collaboration?

R: No, I don’t think so, not necessarily. We’ve talked about maybe co-writing with people or something like that but no one in specific. We’ve kind of just been focused on us and getting our career started.

So no more duets planned in the future?

R: Nothing yet.

Have you been in any contact about licensing any songs to movie soundtracks? Songs like “Happily Ever After” seem made just to fit in a romantic comedy.

T: Thank you! We have no word or control over that because it’s such a tight knit group.
R: The movie Prom was brought up in using our entire album actually but it didn’t end up happening due to publishing and rights to this and that. But absolutely.
T: That would be a dream. Radio only lasts so long, so if you tell your child “oh, I was on the radio back in 2011” they would be like “cool dad, sure, whatever”. But if you’re like “My song was on the movie Prom” or whatever that’s a physical “check me out my music was on a movie.” How cool is that?
R: You can prove it!

Many of your songs have had pretty simple arrangements, mostly just guitar and drums. Have there been any ideas on expanding arrangements, maybe adding in some orchestral feel to the tracks?

T: With the new record we wanted to do that. Rachel and I both dabble in the piano so songs like “And Run”, when we’re in the studio we don’t limit ourselves at all. When we want drums in the song, we’ll map out the drums and then have our drummer come in and do it, or if it’s a piano part we will sit there and learn it.
R: I was going to say on strings it’s weird, because we don’t play strings but we can tell you we need pizzicato or something like that. We can kind of work our way through it and make it happen.
T: So for this record we didn’t want to limit ourselves to what we could and could not do just because we’re strictly singer-songwriter acoustic guitar demo kind of guys.
R: “Prove Me Wrong” has all sorts of stuff on it. “Fall” has strings galore.
T: Definitely some of the songs start out as the basics like acoustic guitar, then Rachel’s like “I got this melody” and then we’re like “this is too much of an emotional song, let’s add drums or stuff to make it heavier and show more emotion throughout the song” so that’s what we kind of did.

How is the tour going with The Downtown Fiction, Cady Groves, and Amely?

T: Tiring, because we have ten shows in a row, but a blast. The kids have been reacting great so far, the shows have been super fun and energetic.
R: We get along with everybody, and that’s awesome. It’s usually hit or miss. Either you vibe with them or you just don’t.

So you’ve had those times in the past where you didn’t vibe with the other bands and it’s been a lot less fun than it should?

R: It’s not even that they’re bad people at all it’s just your personalities and humor just don’t line up.
T: We’ll just leave it at that.

Are you guys planning on headlining soon?

T: We’re planning it for mid June to the beginning of July. We have no details about it, when the dates or who we’re taking out but that’s going to be the next thing on the plate for us.

For the headlining set, do you plan on adding in some of the older demos or just sticking to the album?

R: Definitely we will throw some old ones in there.
T: Unfortunately right now our record just came out and we only get thirty minutes to play, so there’s really no time to build up that energy, then bring it back down, then back up. But if we had an hour set, that would give us some breathing room in the middle to take a break and play three old acoustic demos. We were fans in the crowd all the time shouting songs to play, and Rachel said “I’m sorry, we only have thirty minutes so we’re only playing new songs from the record” because we just have such limited time. But for the headliner, definitely going to throw some in.

What is your plan for the rest of the year?

T: Hopefully get on the radio in Seattle. We’re on the radio in so many places except Seattle. That’s where we’re from, come on, give us some slack. Kind of just take things as they come. We have our personal lives at home so we will take some time off, write, we’re constantly writing.
R: I was maybe going to say, start writing for the next record.
T: Probably some touring in the fall again, but yeah, don’t really know.

Any final words?

R: Just that we’re thankful. As cheesy as it sounds, we are so so grateful, it is so flattering to perform for people and they actually enjoy you. And that just means a lot. And there’s so many things we could be forced to doing right now to provide for ourselves but we get the awesome opportunity to do what we love. 

I'd like to thank He Is We again for answering our questions. The duet makes some of the catchiest corny pop songs that I've heard in a while, and they deserve to dominate the radio. You can catch them on their tour with The Downtown Fiction, Amely, and Cady Groves over the next few weeks, and you can check the band out on Facebook here.

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