So here we are on a somber Wednesday as evil has struck again in Belgium. I feel like this is happening more often and that is scary. The only thing I know to do is jump head first into music. I am so excited to have a New England band, Taking Back Eden here today but before that lets do some news. Parks Associates announced new consumer research showing smartphone owners spend more time per day listening to music on their device compared to other major entertainment activities. The research, 360 View Update: m-Commerce and Entertainment Apps: Usage Trends, notes 68% of smartphone owners listen to streaming music daily, while 71% watch short video clips, but video viewers spend only 24 minutes on average watching short clips, while streaming music consumers spend 45 minutes per day on this activity. In other news, The number of physical stores selling music, video and games has reached an all-time high of more than 14,800, according to latest figures published (7 March 2016) in the annual Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) Yearbook. In music and video the official stores total has more than doubled since 2009. So now lets get to this band from Amherst, MA, Taking Back Eden. I am so excited to have such a talented band of female musicians here as they celebrate their new EP, ‘Beautiful Disaster.’ Join us as we talk about the new EP, how they came together, marijuana legalization in Massachusetts, and so much more!
Stoli: Where are we talking from today and how do you feel about this warm winter we just had?
We are talking from Amherst, Massachusetts aka “the five-college town” and we feel fine about the warm weather! Driving to gigs and hauling instruments in the snow is not fun so we welcome the sun.
Stoli: So far how has 2016 been in regards to your goals for the year in music?
2016 is off to a great start for Taking Back Eden.
We released our EP “Beautiful Disaster” this month. We recorded it with renowned studio engineer Mark Thayer at Signature Sounds and now we are touring and promoting the EP. It’s nice to have the recording part behind us, to be back out playing live, and to have a finished EP that people can buy at our shows so that when they hear a song that they like, they can take it home.
Stoli: Offer us a brief history how you came to be Taking Back Eden and how did you come up with that name?
Christine (our durmmer) and I (Sylvie) were working in a music store together and we had this idea of putting a band together. Initially, we had a really hard time finding the right singer. I actually put ads in Craigslist and that was a nightmare. One night, Chris went to hear a live show where Carolyn Walker was singing – the story goes that Christine jumped over a table and blurted, “Wanna be in our band?” Jen who plays bass, guitar, and sings, and is a sound engineer, was the last member to join Eden and we feel really lucky to have her.
A lot of people ask about the meaning of our band name, Taking Back Eden. Honestly, I think we saw it on an organic food label. The name is about rewriting and reclaiming our story, from the beginning, and about creating a new vision of paradise for women, where humanity and nature are in harmony. Carolyn wrote the song, “I Was Always Myself” which speaks to these ideas.
Stoli: How long did it take for your whole group come together and find that musical synergy and chemistry that would become your sound?
Our group today is four women: Carolyn Walker, Sylvie Abate, Christine Abate, and Jen Spingla. The four of us have great chemistry. Each one of us is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist so we can swap instruments depending on what song we are playing. Carolyn might hand off her guitar to Jen and switch to violin, while Jen passes her bass to me so she can play Carolyn’s guitar and sing, and Christine can play a full drum kit and switch to hand-drums…we have so much versatility. I would say the band continues to grow and evolve. We get better with every performance and this has been our strongest year with more to come. The more a band plays live, the better they get and this has been true for us.
Stoli: I just Liked you on Facebook. How effective is social media for you in spreading the word and what if your favorite social media site?
Thanks for the “like.” Facebook has been the most useful in terms of social media, but it has its issues. Independent bands like us are charged money to get our posts out to fans. It wasn’t always like that. Most indie bands don’t have the kind of budgets that businesses have. Facebook calls it a “boost,” but it you don’t pay for the boost, your fans won’t get your messages so it’s not really a boost, it’s a pay-to-post system. The more fans you want to reach, the more Facebook charges you. I think most musicians and bands wish there was an alternative, but we haven’t found one yet.
Stoli: As four talented female musicians do you feel pressure to succumb to the industry desire to sell sex over music?
We are confident in our music. Music is our voice and we don’t need to sell it with our sexuality, but I support a woman’s choice to express her sexuality. Some say female artists in the music industry are pressured to use sex to sell music and others argue that women are empowered by it. I think when sexuality and body image are used to sell a product, then it is less about sexual expression and more about profit. The issue today, for us, is more about why we are even defined or labeled as “female musicians” or “a female band” or “a female bass player.” Men are not called “male musicians” or a “male band.” We are all musicians. The other issue is under-representation in major festivals and the media.
Stoli: Your new EP ‘Beautiful Disaster’ is out now. How long were you writing/recording and where can music fans buy/stream it?
Song: Beautiful Disaster (Title Track off ‘Beautiful Disaster’ EP by Taking Back Eden)
We took our time recording “Beautiful Disaster” as we wanted to get every detail right, but at some point we had to decide we were satisfied and that’s hard to do. You can spend forever in the studio and always have some small edit you want. It took us almost a year to record this EP because we had a lot going on.
The main places you can buy it are iTunes, Amazon, and our website.
Stoli: I love the song “Osiris.” What does that song mean and what inspired the lyrics and message?
Carolyn Walker wrote Osiris. It was inspired by her father, a professor, who studied ancient Egyptian mythology. Osiris is the God of the underworld and the brother and husband of Isis. When Osiris was murdered, Isis restored him by collecting all his body parts, wrapping her wings around him, and breathing life back into him. In the song, the lyrics say “I will bring you home” and “I’ll put you back together again.” The song has a universal message, “We all get a little scattered sometimes, a little lost, in need of a friend…“ This is so true.
Stoli: Offer us insight into how you all come together and create music and what is the best setting to be creative?
Each of us has a different songwriting process. We write our songs individually, not as a group, but once the group joins in – the song grows and that’s the best part. It is less about the setting and more about how four individuals add their own flavor to a song. In the end, it is the collaboration that makes a really good song even better. The best setting would probably be in a studio with an amazing sound system and lots of toys to record with, but I’ll settle for a small, crowded practice room as long as I’m with musicians like the women in Eden.
Stoli: It looks like Massachusetts will legalize marijuana like Colorado soon. Do you feel that once legalized weed will make music even better to enjoy and enhance the scene?
I think for people who prefer weed over alcohol, it could enhance their experience. I don’t think weed actually makes the music better…I wish it did –but it might make you feel good while you are listening to it! I personally like a beer when I play.
Stoli: My favorite question is to ask do still buy physical/digital music or do you stream?
I mainly stream. But with Indie artists, I will buy a physical CD to support the artist. We sell at lot EP’s at our live shows and it really helps because most venues offer you a free meal and a tip jar so selling CD’s at a show is very important to indie artists.
Stoli: What is coming up for Taking Back Eden and where you @ online? We are working on a college radio campaign.
Our EP should hit college radio throughout North America around April 1. We are mostly excited about just playing out. We have some fun festivals lined up this summer like the International Food Festival at the Eastern States Exposition on Veteran’s Day and gigs lined up through 2017. And no doubt, we will write and record a new EP in the near future.
We are also recording an official video for the song “Beautiful Disaster” on April 17th with Alex Kamb. We are excited to have an official video on the way….