The Couch Series | Buzz Blog

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Couch Series

Provo web series gives a personal look at local music

Posted By on October 28, 2014, 10:00 AM

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Often times in our music scene, the simplest ideas turnout the best results. One of the more recent examples is The Couch Series, an informal web series based out of Provo with a focus on the music coming out of Utah County. Formed almost one year ago by Nicolle Okoren and Eden Wen, the show turns their apartment into an informal studio where musicians (and other random guests) come chat about themselves or perform live music on the show, all to promote what's happening in Provo and the culture around them. Today we chat with the founder about putting the show together and where they hope to take it. (All pictures courtesy of The Couch Series.)

Nicolle Okoren & Eden Wen
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Gavin: Hey, Nicolle and Eden! First thing, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Eden: I'm Eden Wen from Ridgefield, Connecticut. I graduated in public relations from BYU, now working as a copy editor. I laugh at my own jokes.

Nicolle: I'm Nicolle Okoren from the South Denver area. I graduated in sociology from BYU and I am now working on saving up for grad school by working everywhere. Eden and I are both narcissists.

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Gavin: How did the two of you first take an interest in music and started to become avid fans?

Eden: I grew up playing classical piano, so that is my first love. The fact that classical music can evoke so much emotion without words is incredible. I pretty much stuck to classical music for a while till Regina Spektor made me realize that modern music was pretty incredible as well.

Nicolle: Ever since I can remember, I was in a family bluegrass band which transitioned into focusing more on jazz as we were older. My dad is a musician and incredible songwriter. He made sure music was everywhere for me. He even got my sister and I a Playschool toy record player when I was 7 for our bedroom. It was just part of my life. I do remember, though, one time in the fifth grade I stole my older sister's Jackson 5's greatest hits CD and listened to it while laying on my bedroom floor - the music killed me. It hit me and I was gone. It was the best high. Motown is always great, but this was the first time I realized that music could fill a human need for me.

Gavin: What were some of your favorite acts growing up and how did your musical tastes change over time?

Eden: A lot of The Carpenters. Mandarin and Cantonese ballads (my parents are from Hong Kong). Then Queen. I think Freddie Mercury may be one of the world's greatest. The Beatles, Regina Spektor, music on the radio, rock, electronic and folk. One Direction (I'm not ashamed. Zayn is incredibly talented). EDM/Electronica - I listed mainly genres in order of when I listened to them.

Nicolle: Oh man, when I was in third grade it was Elvis Presley. Then it was The Jackson 5, then in middle school it was The Mamas & The Papas all the way. I was raised listening to The Dillards, Dinah Washington, Etta James and a lot of Motown. My dad's music was played on the Colorado jazz radio station so we listened to that station a lot. It was in high school that I realized I didn't know any of the same songs as my friends. I was obsessing over Gershwin and Herman's Hermits and they were talking about Bon Iver. That's when I started to listen to "the hip stuff." I went to over 200 concerts while I was a high schooler (which is why I am still poor), so I guess I listened to everything — anyone that came to Denver (OAR, Billy Joel, The Shins). I am trying to balance this love for the old with my love for the new. I am sort of obsessed with "indie r&b" know that playlist on Spotify? It is so good. Anything that makes me feel. My freshman year of college, I loved 2Pac though. He is the main reason studied sociology in college.

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  • Walking Shadows Cosplay

Gavin: When did you first get involved with local music and started checking out Utah bands?

Eden: There was a time in high school that I realized Joshua James was somehow affiliated with the Provo music scene. So that was something to look forward to when I got into BYU. But I would attribute my involvement to that first open mic night at Velour my freshman year. Scott Shepard and Emily Brown were two of the firsts that I heard here.

Nicolle: In high school, my cousins Bert and Ryan introduced me to Isaac Russell, NightNight and Drew Danburry's music. Isaac Russell's music was a really big deal for me emotionally. Those bands were some of the main reasons I chose to come to BYU over other schools. Freshman year, I went to too many concerts and then Fork Fest was like the coolest thing for me then.

Gavin: When did the two of you first meet and become friends?

Eden: We met our freshman year at BYU. We were random roommates and we fell in love.

Nicolle: It was incredibly random but now we are wildly content as the best of friends.

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  • Mimi Knowles

Gavin: How did the idea to start a web series based on local music come about?

Eden: We actually envisioned a talk show (inspired by The Graham Norton Show on BBC) with musical acts because we felt like Nicolle is witty enough to make interviews interesting. That flopped, though, after our first interview was a bit... boring. Our second interview was not as boring, but it was too long. So we decided to scrap the interview and just go with the music. So now, we have weekly music episodes and monthly interviews with non-musical creative people.

Nicolle: The evolution of the music episodes was heavily inspired by the Mahogany Sessions and other cool acoustic YouTube channels.

Gavin: What was it like coming up with what would become The Couch Series?

Eden: It was like... It was like...

Nicolle: Haha, it was our life. Eden and I are always daydreaming. Every time we go to a venue or something, we talk about what we would do with it. We are always talking about things that would be fun and we would like, it wasn't a big deal coming up with it. We said we wanted to make a web show and then next week Eden had a friend come over who studied film and we made a web show. It was very simple and very casual.

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  • Steel Born Buffalo

Gavin: Did you do any test episodes prior to launch and how was it getting everything together?

Eden: Not really, the first two episodes were kind of tests, as were the first few. People can probably tell from the quality of the videos that we didn't really know how to work the editing programs. It was hard getting everything together because we didn't have a steady editor for the longest time. I learned a lot of Adobe Premiere on my own and it was tough!

Nicolle: Honestly, I didn't think anyone was going to watch this stuff. This was an incredibly selfish project for me and it became a very sociological project in that I am sort of obsessed with documenting Provo's music culture for the little Provo-ites in 40 years so they can understand who we all are.

Gavin: How do you go about booking each episode and deciding what you'll have on the show?

Nicolle: We have a list of people we know have made a huge effect on Provo and who have made an impact on us (musically) so they are our priorities, but we mostly just Facebook people we think are great and then people Facebook us and we listen to demos and talk about it.

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  • Jodi Skidmore

Gavin: With the live music aspect, what kind of challenge does it present to give the viewers a full performance that both entertains and does the musician justice?

Eden: We wanted to aim for the feeling that viewers in the living room with us. So it was sometimes difficult for some musicians to have videos up with imperfections, but I think the imperfections make the performer and the song more human.

Nicolle: Honestly, I agree with Eden. And I don't really care if it entertains the audience. It is up to the musician to perform with sincerity and after that it's done. We aren't making any money off of this, we are just trying to promote and document and be inspired by the people in our living room.

Gavin: Who would you say have been your favorite guests to date?

Eden: Jenn Blosil. Her video's not up yet, but we filmed her just last week. She evokes emotion when she sings and it's beautiful. And, she's just a beautiful human being. Also, Pändo, Kyle Pyfer from Logan and My Fair Fiend.

Nicolle: I agree with Eden, and Quiet House (formerly Sun House), House of Lewis, Isaac Russell and Drew Danburry (obviously), Coral Bones... there are so many good ones!

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  • Q1

Gavin: Since launching, you've grown to have a production crew and bloggers. How was it for you to grow in such a short amount of time?

Eden: For me, it's been awesome, because we went without a video editor for so long and it was hard to pick things up on my own. Also, The Couch Series really brought me to people I wouldn't have otherwise known. I love reading what our bloggers have to say. I get to listen to new music that way.

Nicolle: It has been good and freakishly casual. We love what we are doing and we are so blessed to find people who are willing to do it with us.

Gavin: You're slowly coming up on the one-year anniversary. How is it for you to make it this far and do you have any special plans?

Eden: It's weird to think that it's almost been a year - it is pretty exciting though! In a way. It proves to myself that I can commit to a project for more than a couple of weeks. We aren't exactly doing anything special with The Couch Series, though I guess you can say we're treating ourselves with a trip to the Iceland Airwaves.

Nicolle: My biggest thing is that I learned commitment. I was very ready to move back home to Denver because I miss my home but this happened and it has been awesome. I think we are going to have some pretty personal performances for our anniversary that Eden doesn't know about. Shhh!

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  • Jonathan Ying

Gavin: What are your thoughts on our current music scene and the bands coming out of it?

Eden: Our current music scene is predominantly male. Where are the girls? Women! Come out! Play! Do awesome things!

Nicolle: Truth. I think it's great and we are transitioning into more diverse music genres which are great. Women are lacking and so is amazing EDM. We have really talented DJs in Provo like House of Melk, Phantom Funk and Voyagers, but we aren't showcasing them well enough.

Gavin: Who are some up-and-coming bands or musicians you believe people should be checking out?

Eden: Eden: Okkah. We were a part of the judging panel for Muse Music's Battle of the Bands and they were awesome.

Nicolle: I love Okkah, The Laddells and TouchFeel.

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  • My Fair Friend

Gavin: What do you hope to achieve with the series and where do you see it going over the next year?

Eden: Nicolle said it best in a previous interview: we're striving to document the many bands that often die as quickly as they bloom.

Nicolle: I think that's it, in addition to promoting the sincerity in music. We don't know where we will be in a year. Eden is hoping to move to NYC and I am hoping to be in London for grad school so honestly, we don't know.

Gavin: What can we expect from both of you and the show over the rest of the year and going into next?

Eden: I think we'll be experimenting with different filming styles, as seen in our Das Nix segment. We will also be curating shows here and there at Muse Music! Our first one will be in December. AND, we'll soon be a part of Provo City programming (Channel 17).

Nicolle: Woot Woot! Provo TV!!

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Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Eden: Curated shows at Muse Music and Provo 17

Nicolle: HUZZAH!

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