And I don't care if you don't live in Phoenix, keep an eye on this band!
UC: How has 2013 been for you so far, a few weeks in?
Ree: 2013 has been great so far. The band has been playing more shows and festivals, which is always fun, and we're preparing to record. I've got a great feeling about what's ahead for Dearspeak this year. Also, both guys in the band are engaged and getting married in 2013, so love is in the air for sure. I'm really excited for them!
UC: Similarly: how was 2012 for you guys?
Ree: 2012 was a good year too, we had some transition with members that was kind of hard, but we feel like we're on a really good track with our current line up.
UC: How did Dearspeak form?
Ree: Dearspeak started in 2009 as a concept in my head, that I wasn't sure was going to become more than a solo project moniker. But then I started jamming with our former guitarist/bassist and we later asked Justan Jesse to play drums with us. I worked with Justan in "corporate land" at the time and we'd always have fun talking music or creative things, since that environment is typically devoid of anything along those lines. He's been the longest member of Dearspeak, other than me, and is one of my best friends... and now he's marrying one of my best friends too. :) Over the years we've had a few different members come and go, but we now have Matt Nunez on bass/vocals and miscellaneous other things. We were actually friends with Matt for years, so it was an easy fit. Dearspeak has been a 3 piece, 4 piece and 5 piece band at different times, and we're back to a 3 piece right now, which seems to be working really well with our current guys. We probably laugh a little too much, but somehow we manage to get some music in there! ;)
UC: What's the Phoenix music scene been like for you guys? I don't have much of a reading on it myself, but I'm curious what your experiences have been like.
Ree: I think the Phoenix music scene is a lot better than most would expect from our city, since we don't have a reputation as an artsy town. But there is actually a lot of talent here and we've had a pretty good experience overall. I do think our city is still coming along in some ways as far as artistic culture, if you compare us to say, Portland or San Diego. When we've toured through those two cities in particular, we really felt that the crowd connected with our style of music. Either that or they are just bigger music lovers in general. There are definitely more people in those cities who frequently go out to see live music. In a city like Phoenix, that is really spread out, a lot of people will only go out if it's really close to them. But even still, we've gotten good reception in Phoenix and I feel pretty positive about where our city is heading, culturally. The arts scene has really grown in the last 10 years.
UC: How would you characterize your music? It seems very positive.
Ree: Yeah I guess you could say that. I would describe it as melancholy, angry, positive music, haha. Just kidding, sort of. We have a lot of variety from song to song. I write all the lyrics and a lot of the main structure of music, which Justan has referred to as sad lyrics with happy music. But that's an oversimplification.. and kind of a joke, but there's some truth in it. I write a lot from pieces of my life story, which was a pretty crazy one.
The name Dearspeak actually means that we speak about what's dear to us. It's also the term for communication between deer, which sounded very mystical, much like the way that music communicates. I've been through a lot of shit in my life, and most of us have in some way. I can only write what I know, and hope that it can make people feel that they aren't alone on this planet, and that someone else has been through a lot and still found hope and meaning in the middle of it. It's an incredible feeling when someone connects to a song that was about my loss or anger, and finds it helpful for them. That's redemption right there and it makes it worth it. Like it's not a waste.
UC: What was it like to play with one of your biggest influences (Jars of Clay) recently?
Ree: Well, we shared the bill with them for Grand Canyon University's music festival, but technically didn't play with them. But still, it was pretty cool. Jars was an early influence of mine, maybe about 10 years ago or so. I honestly wasn't that into rock music yet (I grew up on r&b and pop), until I started listening to Jars of Clay. Haha, don't laugh... I know they are pretty soft rock, maybe even folk, but whatever. The point is, their lyrics really stood out to me. My writing style was still developing at the time and I just loved their use of metaphors that packed a lot of imagery and meaning in them. It really influenced a shift in my own writings.
I can't lie, I loved "Flood."
So thanks to Ree and definitely check out Dearspeak soon. I wouldn't be surprised to see them make it big shortly.