Pariah folk

An interview with

BtR: There are plenty of musicians who will move cities and states to pursue a career in music, was this the case for you? If not, why did you choose to stay in your hometown?

PF: Growing up so close to Chicago made it an easy choice, the music scene here is something we both really enjoy and it was never really a thought to move away for the sake of music, it never seemed necessary. Of course though at some point we hope to be on the road touring, just waiting for the right time.  

BtR: You haven’t been a part of the live music scene yet. Is there something that has held the group back from doing so, and when can we expect to see some performances?

PF: We both grew up playing in bands focused on live performances and they never went anywhere, so this time around we tried to start in the studio, we went into it with the mindset of “Let’s just make an EP and see how we sound.” The plan was to recruit a few more people after that and start playing shows, however once we started exploring different sounds, we sort of created a monster. All of our tracks feature more instruments than a two piece could ever hope to perform live and as we started to come up with solutions for how to make it work, we just kept accruing more instruments and ways to make noise so we kept pushing the performances back. I think we’re finally at a point where the two of us can start playing without a backing band and still make a show that’s entertaining. We hope to start this as soon we release our debut album later this year.

BtR: As a two piece band, what are some of the struggles that you find yourselves having to overcome?

PF: It certainly doesn’t leave any room for egos. Luckily at this point in our lives we’ve both learned to just check ourselves every time we get into a room together. Sometimes we disagree but we both just want every project to be the best possible. As long as we agree on the big picture, the little things can’t slow us down. But the biggest struggle we face is in trying to get a live show going. The 2 person setup works well for us with writing and we have no interest in adding any more members, but it’s difficult to put on a compelling show with just 2 guys, it can feel a bit lonely up there, especially for introverts like us. But we’re starting to envision how to do it and it’s exciting. We hate the idea of just doing acoustic sets, so we’re looking at ways with loop pedals and such that we can get a live sound a little more closely resembling the recordings. Modern technology is great tool, but the trick is to keep that level of spontaneity that people expect from a live performance.

BtR: What are some of the people that the two of you admire and look up to? This of course includes musicians. But on a broader scale, this could be anyone that motivates you to do more in life.

PF: Frank Zappa, we’re both big fans of his, the way he just did whatever he wanted with his music and wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. His style is very different from ours of course, but his mindset is what we really try to imitate. In terms of the music itself, Elliott Smith and Van Morrison have been huge influences on us. Elliott Smith because he just rocked the 1 man band so well in his later albums, which obviously inspires us since we have similar hurdles in the studio as he had. And then Van Morrison, not much to say, he was just that good, the songs speak for themselves.

BtR: I appreciate the soothing sounds coming from this project. To me it most definitely has the indie folk style, although it may be hard to pinpoint what genre you fit into. What genre do you feel like you are part of the most?

PF: Indie-Rock. We used to call ourselves Psychedelic-Folk because of all the strange instruments we started getting into, but that seems to ignore the pop element, that we always try to keep a somewhat poppy vibe to keep the songs moving, and PsychedelicFolk just comes off as a bit too avant-garde. But recently we’ve been calling ourselves Indie-Worldbeat. Of course anything in the World genre can get pretty foreign sounding to American ears, but if you look at what Wikipedia says on Worldbeat, it seems to fit. Maybe more so with what we’re working on now than to our older releases which were very folky. But our new album definitely flirts with the World sounds, specifically World percussion, and we intend to go even further into that direction in the future. But like you mentioned the soothing tones, we’re also getting into a lot of synths and other electronic sounds, so who knows how all that will shake out. “Indie-Worldbeat with an atmospheric twist” – is that a thing?

BtR: And how exactly do you stand out from others in your genre?

PF; We really push ourselves to try new things with our music. Sometimes it gets a bit excessive and we have to scale it back before calling it done, but we definitely don’t want to be like anything you’ve heard before. Sometimes we have to laugh, we both have an obsession with new instruments, especially the obscure ones. This is definitely a bonus to having only 2 members who are both multi-instrumentalists, we always stick with guitar, bass, vocals, but that’s when the fun starts. With the new album, fans are going to see us go in a lot of new directions. As we mentioned, we’ve started to delve into a lot of world sounds, African and Latin percussion, some electronic beats and synths, we try to incorporate anything we can get our hands on. So we’re pretty excited for this. Should mention also that we’ve brought in some wonderful studio musicians to play a part here and there, it’s been great having that extra collaboration too.

BtR: What song of yours best depicts some of the triumphs and struggles in your life?

PF: Ben – “Full as a Tick” the last song off the Pariah Folk EP. It’s a breakup song, well much of that project is, but this one is much more personal to both of us. We had a blast making that EP but it was a dark time in our lives. In addition to being the last song, it’s also the last one we recorded, and there was something really special about when it all came together, the way the outro of the song comes in, we got so excited in the studio when it happened. Every time I listen to it, it still feels like the beginning of a fresh start, like we could do anything.

 Kenny – “Amber Wavs” which will be on the new album. Watching someone you love slowly slip into addiction and being truly helpless to stop it is one of the hardest things in the world, especially when they give up on everything they believe in and begin to just exist rather than live. That song hits me the most since it’s a struggle that’s still not over. Here’s to hoping it has a happy ending!

BtR: There are some creative minds who take time to understand that they have a gift for the arts. At what age did you pursue music?

PF: Both of us were very young, elementary school, when we started fiddling with guitar and piano. Then we met in the 7th grade and started a band that lasted a few years. We’ve had a few projects together over the years and we both took some music theory classes in high school, but Pariah Folk is where it all came together. Now we’re at a point where we decided to just play any instrument we can find. It’s very unpredictable and here’s a secret: sometimes we’re not too good when we pick up a new one, but that’s the exhilarating part. After playing an instrument for so many years, a lot of musicians can probably relate, it gets difficult to not just go on auto-pilot and forget all the emotion you’re supposed to be playing with. So with all these new instruments it brings back the feeling we had as kids when we didn’t know chords or scales or anything, and the best part is that diving into all of the different areas has made our primary instruments that much more appealing again when we go back to them. So although we’ve been playing for a long time, we’re both very much still growing at our craft.

BtR: The arts is something that means something to everybody. How do you stay motivated to continuously put out music and what makes making music so valuable?

PF: Music is the only outlet either of us has ever really had, so without it we’d probably lose our minds. Which we may have already, but at least making music gives us an excuse for the insanity! But really, it’s been there for us through all the good times and all the bad, not sure where we would be without it. Probably nowhere good. Music is the universal language, it’s something everyone needs and we love to share it with people. That’s what it’s all about after all.

BtR: Is there any way that people can hear some of your new material? How can they stay in the loop for when you’re ready to release it?

PF: Yes, we recommend going to our Facebook page and signing up for our email list, right at the top of the page. If you do, you’ll get 3 free songs from the album, as well as other goodies that are exclusive to people on our list, and we’ll also make sure you’re the first to know when we start accepting pre-orders for the album. Or to bypass Facebook, go here:

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