Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with March to May

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with March to May

Over the years I have done a lot of work with MTS Management Group and have had the opportunity to interview some of the best up and coming musicians out there. A few weeks ago they introduced me to March to May, an acoustic, singer/songwriter duo from Seattle, Washington. I was blown away not by the music, but by the lyrics and the sheer emotion that I was hearing from song to song. Every song was like a story and in this interview I am going to ask them to tell me a story… Only fitting! I also love the name. What happens from March to May? Well, we are about to find out. I am excited about this interview and it is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to March to May.

Where did the name come from? I love that!!!
Our name comes from a number of different places. First of all, we loved the alliteration and the sense of movement. March to May was also our formative period – we wrote our first song in March 2013, and committed to moving forward as a band in May 2013. Finally, Darren was born in March and Beth was born in May.

How did you guys meet?
Very randomly – we met via Craigslist. And not as musicians – as housemates. True story.

Your music is incredible. Every song sounds like a story. So… Tell me a story.
Thank you! We really appreciate hearing that. We’ll tell you the story of how we started playing music together. When Beth moved in, neither of us realized that the other one was a musician, or that we had really similar musical tastes. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later, when we’d gone to the coast with our other housemates and a couple of friends, that the spark hit – Darren was playing his guitar and singing one moonlit night by the shore, and Beth started harmonizing. It was a pretty startling and magical moment – both of us knew something special had happened. We decided not to let the momentum die, and started writing songs pretty quickly afterwards.

Tell me more about The Water’s Edge.
The Water’s Edge is our debut EP, and we’re really proud of it. We were trying to capture a sense of setting forth into the unknown, and being able to balance both the familiarity of the shore with the wildness and beauty of an unknown horizon – all of the songs on the EP get at that sense, in one way or another.

Beth, what made you want to learn how to play the Celtic harp?
I’ve always loved the sound of it, frankly, but didn’t start playing until I was a teenager. Up until that point, I’d been a competitive gymnast, but as started getting taller, I kept getting injured (gymnastics is NOT a sport that favors height). Eventually I had to give it up for good. I’d always been very musical and had been singing pretty seriously since I was a child, so it was a natural evolution.

Have you ever made a mistake on stage?
Of course! We can’t think of a single performer we know who HASN’T. It’s just a matter of learning how to roll with it.

What is your process when you sitting down to write a new song?
We co-write all of our music, so we’re both very involved in the process. Usually we start with an instrumental riff that catches our attention, and then build melodies and harmonies on top. Lyrics usually come last. That said, we have complimentary strengths – Darren tends to be a little faster with coming up with good instrumental foundations, while Beth tends to be a little faster with lyrics. But again, we each contribute to all aspects of the writing process pretty equally.

What is the biggest crowd you’ve ever played in front of?
We played in front of a few hundred people at the Northwest Folklife Festival, which was a lot of fun. We also had over a hundred people at our album release show this past April (we sold out the venue, which was pretty exciting!)

I would call your style emotional… Yeah, singer/songwriters, but the sound has feeling. How would you explain your music?
There’s definitely a strong storytelling component, as you mentioned. Ultimately, though, we strive to write songs that our audience can connect with – it’s not as much about writing our own stories as it is about creating a mirror which people can look into and see some part of their own experience, their own story, gazing back. And to do that, you have to get to the heart of things.

Tell me more about your relationship with MTS Management Group.
We’ve been working with Michael Stover to help get the word out about The Water’s Edge. It’s been a really interesting process, and has definitely brought our music to audiences who wouldn’t otherwise discover it!

What is your favorite venue?
We absolutely love playing on the Virginia V, a historic steamship here in Seattle. It hosts a regular series of concerts, and the view can’t be beat! It has so much history for us, too – we wrote one of our songs on board, sailing between Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula, and are in the process of filming a music video on the ship as well. As for venues we’d LIKE to play, it would be a dream to play at the Gorge Amphitheatre here in Washington, or at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Darren, tell me about your trip to South America.
I was coming out of some major transitions in my life, and ended up buying an open ended, one-way ticket to South America. I spent seven months crisscrossing the Andes, seeing what I could see, and letting the landscape and the people (and the stories they told) sink into me before coming home. It was a transformative experience – I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It was also where I started really learning the guitar.

You guys have a lot of shows coming up. Do you change your setlist from show to show, or is pretty much the same?
We like to shake things up. It really depends on the length of the show, too. We have enough material to play around with different sets, which is fun, and we try to be sensitive to the energy level of the venue – we can play a more upbeat set, or keep things soft and mellow.

What’s next for March to May?
Lots of exciting things! We’re in the process of recording two new singles, working on two new music videos, and planning two tours before the end of the year (New England in October, and Eastern Washington in November). We’re also working on a really exciting dance collaboration with a choreographer here in Seattle – she’s creating original dance pieces to our music, and we’ll be performing live with the dancers at a few upcoming shows. So lots on the radar right now!

In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.
Keep in touch with us (or any artist) if you like what you hear! It really does mean a lot to us – we notice, and we make an effort to respond to anyone who reaches out to us. We love hearing from you – it inspires us to keep writing and playing! So whether you prefer email, Facebook, or any other medium – let us know you’re listening!

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