Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Strange Familia, Amber Lynn

Part 2 of 2 from Velour's 2015 Summer BOTB

Posted By on June 30, 2015, 8:41 AM

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Did you miss out on part one of this set about Velour's Battle of the Bands competition? Click here to find out what we're talking about and why these bands are being interviewed in the first place, as well as interviews with Foreign Figures, Jessica Frech and The Love§trange. Enjoy part two.

Strange Familia (Stockton Berminghan, Brecken Jones, Mark Swink & Garret Williams)
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Strange Familia on Facebook

Gavin: Hey gang, first thing, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

We are all originally from different parts in Utah and have been playing music locally in different projects over the past few years. We started playing together at the beginning of this year after a mutual friend of ours put us in contact.

Gavin: When did you take an interest in music, and what were your favorite acts growing up?

All of us were interested in music from an early age, even if some of us didn't actually start playing until later on in life. Our influences a fairly diverse but right now I'm really into Tops, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Delta Spirit, Tame Impala—the list goes on, but those are my top faves right now.

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Gavin: What was it like for each of you breaking into the local music scene?

In the beginning it was easier than I had imagined it would be. Booking shows was fairly constant, but as time went on, it hit me that I wasn't playing "good" shows with bands that I wanted to play with. It was then that I realized I had been getting mostly venues' weekday "filler" shows. Our relationships with other bands and venues have grown a lot since the beginning, and as of now, we have loved all the shows we've been a part of as Strange Familia.

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Gavin: When did the idea come about to start up a band, and where did the name Strange Familia come from?

I was hanging out with a close friend one night and he asked me what I was planning on doing with music. I told him I was just trying to find the right people to play with and he told me to reach out to Brecken, Stockton and Mark as their previous project had just ended. I messaged Brecken on Facebook and we set up a time to get together. It took a few months from the first meeting before we finally decided to play together as a band, but here we are. Four peas in a pod. The name Strange Familia... I don't think I'm poetic enough to explain it in a questionnaire. However, Brecken is responsible for the Latin flair.

Brecken: Well I liked the name Strange Family (the band's previous name) but the name "Strange Familia" sort of lends itself more to the experimental direction the music is beginning to take. And it looks way rad on posters. Haha.

Gavin: What was the big influence behind the alt-indie sound you've created?

We wanted to create something beautiful. We've played in louder, faster bands and we may do that from time to time in Strange Familia, but right now we are trying to do something that is creative, beautiful and familiar.

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Gavin: You've been around roughly six months. How has it been building an audience and getting your name out?

Building an audience has been awesome. Locally speaking Salt Lake City and Provo both have amazing music scenes and the support we have already received has been amazing. Nationally speaking, we were just featured as a Daily Discovery on American Songwriter's website, and the response from that has been incredible.

Gavin: Do you have any plans for an album yet, or are you simply performing for now?

We are spending a lot of time working on demos, and will continue until the end of summer. At that point, we will reach out to some of our favorite producers and see if we can't find a good fit.

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Gavin: Any thoughts to possibly touring down the road?

We will certainly tour, but don't have any plans for the summer as we are focused on writing for the record.

Gavin: How has it been for you to be a part of this year's Summer Battle Of The Bands at Velour?

It's been great. Velour provides everyone an amazing opportunity to play with bands you've never met and play for people who may otherwise never hear your music.

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Gavin: What are your thoughts on your fellow finalists and the music they bring to the scene?

It's a great group of artists, and no one sounds like the other. It's certainly a display of genre diversity within the local music community.

Gavin: What's your take on the current state of the local music scene?

The local music scene is what you make it. If you are supporting the scene, it will support you. If you aren't into the community-based thing it probably isn't for you. We have had only positive experiences with the venues, bands and supporters here locally. We love it!

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Gavin: Aside yourselves, who are some of your favorite bands in Utah today?

I love this question because it can help draw attention to certain people, but I hate it because I always forget some of the very best ones. Here are a few that come to mind right now: John Hancock, Quiet Oaks, Golden Sun, Timmy the Teeth, Bat Manors, Fictionist, Kathleen Frewin, Baby Ghosts, Jenn Blosil, Officer Jenny, New Shack, The National Parks, Vanladylove, Ryan Tanner, House of Lewis, Desert Noises, Joshua James, Coral Bones and Haarlem.

Gavin: What can we expect from the band over the rest of the year?

We hope to release a few demos a month until we are heading into the studio to work on a record. We don't mind people having imperfect demos of the tracks we're working on. Hopefully, it helps build anticipation for future releases.

Amber Lynn
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Amber Lynn on Facebook

Gavin: Hey Amber, first thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well, I grew up in California, on the central coast. I've got a BA in psychology and I work full-time as a life coach for adults with autism spectrum disorders. I do music as much as I possibly can alongside a full-time job. But I'm balancing it fairly well, I think.

Gavin: When did you take an interest in music, and what were your favorite acts growing up?

I've always been around music. My dad has played in bands as long as I can remember. But I started taking music more seriously when I got to college. Growing up, I was a huge fan of John Mayer. I mostly listened to him in high school.

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Gavin: What was the major catalyst behind your attraction toward pop and soul music?

My first exposure to soul music was Marc Broussard. I don't remember how I came across him; I'm fairly sure it was MySpace. But he sang with more soul than I could comprehend, and I remember trying to mimic his tones and exaggerations. And I decided to play his song "Home" and it just felt so much different than anything I'd ever played or sang. And I didn't want to go back.

Gavin: You're originally from California. What brought you to Utah?

I went to school in Idaho and then migrated down here. There were a few people I had networked with in the Provo music scene that were really adamant about me coming down, so I went with it.

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Gavin: What made you decide to pursue a musical career, and how was it for you breaking into our music scene?

I've yet to be able to fully commit to a full-time music career, because being an adult is expensive. But it's becoming more and more of a possibility, so hopefully it's not too far away. Breaking into the scene was interesting. In Idaho, I had become very well established, but moving down here and having to work my way up the network ladder has been a process. But my favorite thing about breaking into any new music scene is the escalating levels and varieties of talent that you are exposed too. It never ends, and is incredibly inspiring.

Gavin: Being a solo performer, how is it for you writing music and coming up with material on your own?

It varies completely. Sometimes I can hear a full song in my head, with all the parts and production, and I know exactly what I want. And sometimes I have an idea that I can't quite articulate, and I will fish around my favorite song writers and collaborate. But I've found that my favorite original music has always been a collaborative effort. Ive been in a few other bands where music is always collaborative, and there can be some frustrating politics within that dynamic, so I will say that it has been so much nicer having a little more control of the reigns.

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Gavin: What was it like for you putting together a backing band, and who do you currently have playing with you?

Putting together a band was not hard at all. I've met so many talented people who I love dearly and love to work with. I'm so grateful that they love the music and have ideas of their own. It's been a blessing.

Gavin: Are you currently working on an album or an EP at the moment?

I spent most of last year working on an EP (Higher) that I released in November of last year. It's currently available on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora.

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Gavin: Do you have any plans in the works to tour or will you mainly stick to Utah for now?

I don't have plans in the works, but that's definitely a goal for the near future. I don't plan on focusing on just Utah.

Gavin: How has it been for you to be a part of this year's Battle Of The Bands?

It's been a complete roller coaster! When I first entered I felt really confident, I knew my band was solid and we would have a good time, then I went to a couple of the other nights when I wasn't playing to see the other bands and started to swear under my breath. Everyone was so good and I didn't think we had a chance in hell. Then Saturday night came and I forgot about the competition all together and just played a really great show with some other bands, and had a great time.

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Gavin: What are your thoughts on your fellow finalists and the music they bring to the scene?

Always a variety, every band has different unique strengths. They all have different qualities that are inspirational to me. I've had an amazing time getting to know them all.

Gavin: What's your take on the current state of the local music scene?

I think it's a very powerful scene. It's an amazing launching pad and a fantastic, respected, educated support system. I would just really encourage artists to remember that local music is not your end goal, your capable of so much more and getting caught up and focused on local fame is only going to shake your confidence. Let Provo be your support system, your network, your family, and explore the rest of the world.

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Gavin: Who are some of your favorite bands in Utah today?

I'm great friends with The Str!ke and I look up to them a lot. Some other favorites are Festive People, Ashley Hess, Mimi Knowles, Foreign Figures and James Gray Dawson VIII.

Gavin: What can we expect from the band over the rest of the year?

More shows, a couple singles, and just teaching this town a few things about good 'ol soul music!

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