Interview Part 5
6. IN LISTENING TO YOUR MUSIC I NOTICED THAT YOU HAVE SEVERAL DIFFERENT INFLUENCES/GENRES SUCH AS WORLD INFLUENCES AND DIFFERENT FOLK MUSIC OF DIFFERENT COUNTRIES. DO YOU TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY AND STUDY OTHER MUSIC? IF SO WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? WHAT WERE SOME MEMORABLE EXPERIENCES THAT YOU REALLY TOOK AWAY FROM YOUR TIME IN THOSE PLACES? We have taken the music to Montreal, India, Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Scotland, and many more to come.
Musically we will continue to learn music at its roots source, traveling to communities where we can dit on the front porches of the song catchers and study. We have worked with teachers from around the world, and the greatest experiences that we have taken home with us have been the stories that people bring us about songs that came from their grandmothers, or from the resistance to religious turmoil, or from an old lullaby.
When we were recently invited to Bulgaria we sat in a small old town in the Pirin Mountains and took part in a song exchange. All the women in the town sat in a circle and would sing us a ballad, and then we would sing one of ours back. All the villages came out and watched. It was unbelievable. We didn’t share a single word in common language. The banjo is also a Senegalese instrument taken from the “akonting”. There is a Senegalese banjo museum that we hope to visit then too. It is all part of the work of roots music, the links are endless.
7. IN YOUR MOST RECENT ALBUM, "THE SAILS OF SELF" YOU HAVE A VARIETY OF MUSICAL STYLES AND TOPICS. WHAT DOES THE ALBUM TITLE MEAN TO YOU? WAS THIS A COMPILATION OF THE FINDINGS ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL? C:The Sails of Self was a vocal journey. We put aside the larger “band” sound in order to explore a more intimate and paced layer of our sound as global singers and songwriters. It’s a merging of soul songs and southern roots, Spanish resistance and west African dance rhythms, heart break and harmonic healing. The title stems from a poem I wrote in the song” You and I Are Falling- You and I are Free” which hits on the very real inspiration that stems from our lowest points in life. The heart breaks, the deaths, the loss of forward vision. What brings us back every time is a tight grasp on our own ability to pull up out brighter than ever, leaning into the wind with our uniquely sturdy sails of self… 8. WHAT ARE THE PLANS FOR THE FUTURE FOR RISING APPALACHIA? ANY MAJOR THINGS THAT WE SHOULD BE LOOKING OUT FROM YOU? C:Rising Appalachia is always growing and shape shifting. There are no guarantees except for that we are artists in the truest sense of the word, which means that we will always be creating and emoting. We might disappear and retreat to life on a Carribean island full of fire dancers and coconut farmers. We might dive further into the woods of Appalachia to sprout a center for holistic living and radical self-expression. We might tour until we are 90 and record 17 more albums. We’ll see which way the muse blows…..
Interview Rising Appalachia PART 4
5. I NOTICED THAT ON YOUR WEBSITE IT DOESN'T SAY THAT YOU ARE REPRESENTED BY A PARTICULAR LABEL OR MANAGEMENT TEAM. ARE YOU INDEPENDENT ARTISTS? IF SO DOES THAT WORK WELL FOR YOU IN TERMS OF COPYRIGHTING YOUR MATERIAL, BOOKING YOUR OWN SHOWS, AND RECORDING YOUR OWN MUSIC? HOW DOES BEING AN INDIE ARTIST AND ENTREPRENEURS GIVE YOU FREEDOM IN YOUR CAREERS? HOW DOES IT HINDER YOU OR CHALLENGE YOU? C: Rising Appalachia is about as independent as it gets. We are a self managed, self marketed, and self produced creative project. We have been since the beginning. We chose to navigate our growth on our own dime and time, getting to know the depths of this career in a very intimate and grassroots way. There is a certain freedom that is extremely vibrant in artists who carve out their own image and stamp it across the globe themselves. Its radical and communal and humble all at once… There are, of course, pluses and minuses. We work all the time and have to-do lists that could potentially wrap around the state of Louisiana. Things fall through the cracks due to the very tangible fact that have more on our plates that is possible, and we are manning the entire ship and at times have to check-out of the in order to re-fuel our own creativity and spark. Balance is a constant goal. At the same time, we are looking to expand our vision to a larger team of management and booking. We are finally at a place where we can reach out the larger musical network and ask for help, knowing that we have 7 years of experience under our belts. If and when the right people come along, we are ready to discuss a partnership that could push us into unexplored realms of this work.
L: I would add to that, that when you have grown a project out of your own blood sweat and tears your ability to hand it over to someone else is not easy. There is a dream team of like minded folks that we want to open the project the to so that it can become a well oiled organic mechanism and everyone has there nitch. But it is also a powerful thing to run your own world. We are self made, women fronted, formed and run, a business of family roots, and in the music industry this keeps us about as grounded as you can get. We carve out our own reality and we believe in its slow but steady pace. To Be continued...
Interview PART 3
4. YOU HAVE SUCH BEAUTIFUL MELODIES AND SONGS, BUT THEY ARE ALSO WOVEN TOGETHER WITH DEEP AND INTERESTING LYRICS WHICH IS DEEPLY ROOTED IN THE FOLK TRADITION. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY YOUR MISSION OR MAIN MESSAGE IS THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO GET ACROSS IN YOUR MUSIC? WHAT IS THE MOVEMENT THAT YOU HAVE IGNITED? L:Well, if I have graced that subject above a bit lets look further. I think that although the mission has grown with us, it has been clear since early on that we want to use sound to create bridges and communication. Our music is hard to define or categorize and although that has sometimes been a hindrance to our commercial acceptance, it has been a huge part of our mission. To create a platform for music to reach across boundaries and labels, both in who it appeals to and to who will understand it. We have strived to create a space where young people can find roots music and folk music that weaves in rhythm, and hip hop, and salsa, and ballads-which are ALL ROOTS MUSIC, and that each person can hear a little piece of home in there. So many people believe that folk music is only this one kindof voice, but folk usic and roots music is the music of the people. All music that has come out of the need to express, the need to unite, the need to hold memories, or the need to fight oppression, is folk music. Political hip hop is a huge example of that. Music that has come from the streets. Music has been used in the past to as a way to identify who is who, like race records in the 60s, and it was used to continue to segregate. We want our music to have the opposite effect, in the effect that there is a language here that predates any category, it just simply moves you. Despite language, genre, content, rhythm, there is a piece of something in our sound that you can relate with. Also, perhaps in a much simpler way, we want to make music to create community, just in the sense that it draws people together, in a common place, to share space. We often reach out to local artists, poets, painters, non-profits -to come out and bring their work to the stage, and simple open the space to bring folks together. So much is disconnected here in this culture, and in a bare-bones way we just want to make our performance something that can be physically enjoyed and shared. Perhaps that movement is the igniter, to bring folks together…no other pretenses…not too much preaching, not a big agenda…just get everyone in one space at one time, and see what happens.I’d like to think we can just be the catalysts.
To Be Continued
2. WHEN DID YOU BOTH DECIDE THAT YOU WANTED TO DO MUSIC FOR A CAREER PATH? WAS IT A MUTUAL DECISION BETWEEN YOU TWO? L: I remember singing behind my momma in Christmas church services whn I was a kid and listening for harmony to all the songs. I never liked sitting still so anything I could do to create a challenge for the day. Then finding song busting out of all me teenage life in the uban Atlanta hip hop and soul communities… it was easy to sing along at every club and open mic spot I would hag out in. But after spending some time in Appalachia as an adult I realized that I had been gifted a life steeped in southern music. My mother played jazz piano, and duke Ellington records all through the house and my father sang old radical folk songs on the guitar all day long…Until they discovered –(or rediscovered ) the music of their Southern Georgia home. From about the time I was 7 on, we were dragged to folk music camps and front porch sessions or hosted music jams at our house just about every weekend. So then , in this adult revelation , it occurred to me that I had been surrounded by sound for my while life. Through the lense of my parents influence in jazz, classical , and Appalachian, and then through my own love for the urban music that came to my hip hop generation. When I moved back to Atlanta after four years of international travel, Chloe and I decided to record an album as a gift to that musical legacy that lived in our home. The intention was simply to record something that offered a voice for all those could-be opposing influences…to try and blend them authentically. But it was loose. We had one night in a friends basement studio. It was fun. It was never suppsed to be much more than a side line project to so much other work that everyone was already doing. I was producing a play on women’s rights, planning for another venture into Latin America, I never planned on starting a touring band. But it started none the less. And now its 7 years strong. The response was so visceral. People to our interpretation of these southern sounds, and were were met with overwhelming inspiration and support. We started to really consider what voice were were giving to our birth culture-the great melting pot of the spirit of the south. In a way it startedt o feel like this was a needed offering. So we began from there to really look at our mounds, our natural interpretation of music and our new voice –which brought in Appalachian, folk, soul, hip hop, classical, southern gospel, and all the delicate places inbetween. Our voice began to feel like a bridge, and especially a platform for young music aficionados of so many genres. C:We never decided on a specific date, a specific way, or a coherent plan that would propel us into a full-blown musical career. I believe the journey chose us, in the way that all life’s greatest adventures do. We recorded our first album when I was 21 and first beginning to play the fiddle and sing comfortably in front of an audience. It was recorded with the idea that we would give it away as presents to friends and family and then go about our business. Months later, we received so much support and recognition for the album that we decided to officially start a band and move forward into the exploration of performance.
To Be Continued...
RISING APPALACHIA INTERVIEW by Rachel Alexander answered by L-Leah Song and C-Chloe Smith
1. WHERE DID THE JOURNEY START FOR YOU BOTH? L: Chloe and I were born and raised in the Urban South, schooled in Atlanta, GA, and nurtured all throughout Appalachia. We ,being sisters, had the same core family which ket us steeped in art and culture in every way they could. I began to travel out of high school. I graduated from Grady Highschool with an already intact reputation for the arts in whatever form I could find it. I worked mostly in the visual arts, studying painting, photography and sculpture throughout all my early schooldays. My father is a visual madman (said in the highest esteem), so the tactile arts were an easy place for me to exercise my expressive mind. At nineteen, opting for an alternative education, I moved to Mexico to study and work along side the Zapatista movement and to begin to learn from global travel. That journey has led me from Appalachia to Hawaii to India to Colombia, Cuba, Bulgaria an Italy along the way. I long ago claimed global citizenship, and although I feel kindred to the American South, I am often most comfortable exploring the world at large. To BE CONTINUED...