Eugene Yiga: Who are some of your greatest musical inspirations?
I grew up listening to an extremely eclectic selection of music. I was always really into the great vocalists: Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin. I also was (and still am) a big musical theatre dork and have always loved going to the theatre. My parents grew up in the 60s, and always had the great folk singers of that time playing on vinyls in our house. Dylan, Carole King, Emmylou Harris were singers I admired early on.
Your sound mixes many genres (folk, alternative rock, Americana, indie, and more). How would you describe it to someone who's never heard it before?
It's primarily an acoustic sound. We use guitar, cello, piano, bass and drums primarily with gang vocals and shouts that seems to make people want to clap their hands and stomp their feet.
And what do you think it is about your music that creates such a connection for your fans?
We live in a world that is so technology-driven, and I think people are looking for a break from that in many aspects. I think the music industry was really ready for this folky acoustic sound and young people are often very impressed that we do indeed write our own songs and play our own instruments. There isn't some big machine behind what we do, and I think that's refreshing to people.
Are there any common themes or threads in your music?
I think, at the end of the day, Wesley [Schultz, lead vocalist and guitarist] is a great story teller. All of our songs have that in common. They each paint this little story that entices the listener.
And are there any specific messages you're trying to leave your listeners with? I would say there are a lot of messages of hope in our music. That things do get better, and pushing through with that in mind can make a situation better.
Is it important for you to keep your music fresh? If so, how do you do this?
This is very important. Because even though we have played the same songs all over the world, it is most people's first time hearing us play them and we want it to be just as special for them as it was for our audiences six months ago or two weeks ago or two years ago.