Beth's Instruments: Bass and Lead Vocals
Trevor's Instruments: Guitar and Lead Vocals
Grant's Instruments: Synthesizer, Piano, Guitar and Vocals
Roger's Instruments: Drums and Vocals
Genres: Alternative Pop Rock
I first heard the name Autumn Still when I attended a Music Works workshop through Manitoba Music. Beth and Roger were both attending and the band name stuck in the back of my mind. A few months later when I started the #WinnipegMusicProject and started contacting Winnipeg Bands, I still remembered the name Autumn Still. I was delighted when I got a response from Trevor and we set up a time to meet after a band's jam session. Trevor, Grant, Roger and Beth are such incredible people. Not only are they confident (and rightly so) in their sound and instruments, but they are genuinely the nicest people. They gave me so much wonderful advice that I can't wait to apply to my own musical career. I tried really hard to include the humour in this interview obvious and remain honest with portraying everyone's personalities. These people are so closely knit and a perfect match, I really wanted to express the relationship they all share together.
I'm excited to announce Autumn Still will be releasing their highly anticipated full-length album later this year in early November! They are going to be having their release part at The Good Will Social Club so follow them on social media accounts (links at the end of the interview) to stay tuned to when the exact date with be announced! Afterwards they will have plans for a Ontario and Quebec Tour! Check these guys out!
Ashley: How long have you been playing your instruments?
Trevor: For me, forever I guess. I have been playing guitar since I was 10 or 11, so a long time.
Beth: I had actually just picked up the bass 4 or 5 years ago. Maybe even less actually, when this project started to become an idea. Actually, probably more like 2 to 3 years ago; before that I played guitar. The bass really connected with me, it feels like comfort food. It’s nice to have this instrument close to your belly with these nice low vibrations [laughs]. It’s the first instrument that felt natural to me.
Grant: I’ve been always been fooling around. I’ve been playing piano since I was 6 but very badly, and I started to playing guitar at 14 but very badly. I played synthesizer for a couple years but only since I started [playing in] bands have I taken it seriously.
Roger: I’ve always been able to kind of played drums for a long time but I never actually played played drums until a year and a half ago. Beth and Trevor were trying to find a drummer and I just said “Hey, I can kind of play drums for the EP” so music can get pushed out there and I just stuck. My style of new drumming fits really well, I think. I haven’t been playing drums for very long but music I have been playing for a long time.
Ashley: How long have you guys been playing together?
Beth: Well Trevor and I had been tossing ideas back and forth 2 and a half years ago and then eventually we were like “we should start a band.” It was a slow progression and things slowly fell into place. We had been playing live shows since last august and that’s when we started putting ourselves out there.
Trevor: Yeah, I think it was a definite marking point. Our first show was a three piece, Beth, Roger and [myself], at the Fringe festival last year (2014). That was about a year ago now…
Beth: Aw it’s our one-year anniversary!
Ashley: So where does the band name come from?
Beth: That came from an intensive brainstorming session between Trevor and I. We were struggling and thought a band name would just magically come up. We did this stream of consciousness, throwing out different things and ideas that pertained to our music. Autumn and Still just came together that way, I guess. It has several different meaning but for both of us. Autumn is our favorite season; it’s when we feel most creatively alive and we can sit down and write.
Ashley: So how often are you practicing together and being a band?
Beth: Well we get together twice a week typically to jam but now a days we are getting into recording our album (now scheduled to release this November 2015! =D) so things are getting really intensive. I guess we have to see each other so much now [laughs].
Grant: [Rolls eyes] make a note that I rolled my eyes at that!
Trevor: We are essentially recording our first full-length album over the course of the summer. We’re going to be stepping it up.
Ashley: So what is a practice or jam session like? Like what is happening?
Beth: Well usually it depends on the practice. We try to be sort of strategic with selecting two or three things that we want to hone in on per practice and that’s what we do. [Before a show] we play through the set and clean things up a bit and things like that. It’s structured yet loose.
Trevor: It depends what stage a song is in. In our last practice we devoted a lot on our last song.
Beth: Yeah, and that’s all we will do for that night.
Ashley: Do you bring a finished song in? Or do you figure it out together on the spot?
Beth: Typically Trevor and I toss ideas back and forth first. We have done more things where we co-write. Trevor will have this guitar riff with a melody idea and I put some lyrics on it or something like [that]. I might have a song and Trevor creates some beautiful guitar overtop. It’s really different from song to song. Once we feel like an idea has come to then we bring it into the band and ask, “What do you want to do with this?” We try to let everyone put their own personal spin on things. It’s not like we are saying, “This is what we want exactly like this” we don’t prewrite the parts for people or something like that.
Ashley: So then are you saying your music is more lyrically or melodically driven?
Trevor: I can’t say that as a band we have discussed this a whole lot, but I feel my personal point of view is that the lyrics and the melody are just intertwined and you can’t really avoid that connection. I think that when it comes to songwriting we spend a lot of time on lyrics and we worry about lyrics a lot and try to make sure it sounds just right. I guess in that sense you could say you we have a strong lyrical focus but we spend a lot of time on melodies and vocal arrangement as well. As far as a concert answer, I don’t know.
Beth: Yeah I don’t know [either], I agree that lyrics often drive melody or melody drives lyrics. It’s hard to say which one comes before the other. When I write a song often, for me anyways, it is a set of lyrics. I write whatever dribbles out of my head and I’ll hear a melody in that or I’ll see something that can become a song. You could do a little tweaking to help it fit a melody.
Trevor: It’s cool that everyone involved, because of our own experiences, that we have a really good sense of melody and how the arrangement can support that. It’s definitely that the whole vocal thing is a primary consideration.
Grant: Beth and Trevor write the Autumn Still songs but all four of us are songwriters.
Ashley: Have you two ever brought something to work with?
Grant: We have not yet but sometimes a song from another project will make it’s way into the band. We were thinking about that for the album.
Beth: I don’t think we are thinking about that anymore though.
Grant: Well okay. It was thought of.
Roger: I think my writing would be very different then what you guys are doing, what we are doing with Autumn Still. Not by a lot but a little bit. To be honest, I really like that I’m playing drums and I don’t have to worry too much. I think that it’s the instrument that I’m focusing on and every time they bring a song I can go “Okay what can sound good with this song and with how can I play it” and it’s neat like that.
Beth: Yeah, and we never set it out to make it a dictator ship or something-
Roger: and it doesn’t feel like [that]
Beth: it has always been [Trevor and I’s] project and vision. Some people have had experiences where they are in this situation when there are too many cooks in the kitchen, the vision gets lost or gets crazy.
Grant: I think we are very fortunate to have a really good sense of what our roles are in the band and our hands are all full with what our roles are.
Ashley: So what is the most stressful part about being in a band?
Trevor: You’re asking a band that just got back from tour not too long ago!
Roger: Honestly, the most stressful part is the business side of things, the logistics parts of things. Right now we are setting up to record and we need to figure out the funding-
Beth: the bureaucratic process.
Roger: Yeah. Rehearsing, that’s amazing. Playing shows is awesome. Going on tour is awesome because a lot of that [business] stuff just fades away into the background. You just go and play and it’s awesome. I don’t even do that much of it, I know these guys do it a lot more. I do more on the recording side of things but I find it stressful. It’s the part when I was fifteen I didn’t know about. I just loved playing music.
Trevor: It’s kind of funny. From my point of view this band is the band I’ve dreamed of being in for a long time. I’ve been in other projects in the past and you know the most stressful aspect is sometimes just getting into the same room together. We don’t have that problem. I agree the most stressful aspect isn’t the creative end, or the interpersonal end, it’s just hoping that this music that we are so proud of gets out there enough and people are hearing it. There are things you have to do to make that happen and it’s a lot of work.
Grant: As an introvert, it’s always a struggle to put yourself out there. Being on stage is one thing, but any other interpersonal stuff is a big drain. Finding that balance between doing what I need to and doing what I need to restore my selfhood is my biggest struggle.
Beth: I’m with you on that. I find that performing is not something that comes naturally to me. Depending on the day, I’d rather just curl up in a hole and hide under the covers. I feel like I’m growing as a performing and proud of that. I enjoy finding the enjoyment in it! With all the fear that leads up to it, it’s nice to get that “okay this is why people do this” [feeling]. It’s not totally frightening.
Grant: Once the worse thing that can possibly happen to you happens when you are on stage, you feel liberated.
Beth: I don’t know, I still haven’t been pantsed.
Grant: Well, all you had to do was ask, Bethany.
Ashley: Who inspires your music? Who do you listen to that really listens your songwriting process?
Grant: Leonard Conan, right?
Beth: Well I’m a big Leonard fan but I think this is always a tough question because we have so many diverse influences that are sort of all over the map. It’s always tough to say. We don’t really have this muse that we filter or emulate or something like that. I’m sure influences sneak into it, I’m always curious to hear what other people hear in our music or what they would compare it to.
Ashley: So far with Autumn Still, what accomplishments are you most proud of?
Beth: For me, [I always have wanted to tour] with a musical project of mine, so getting the first tour done felt like a great accomplishment to me.
Grant: [Touring has] been a dream of mine since I was 18.
Trevor: For me, it’s been awhile since this point, but putting out or first EP because there was this big process behind that when we worked [on it] for so long. We worked for quite awhile on those three songs, we got to a point that you’re [almost] terrified to put it out there [because] it’s so important and special to you. At that point, we finished recording it that summer and then started performing. It was great when it came out too; we got a lot of positives responses. You only thought about making it as good as possible and people were responding to it and that was really great.
Beth: It all feels likes baby steps leading up to this album. It’s going to feel so good I just can’t even conceive it right because there is so much to do. Roger is a very talented recording technician so he works for us a lot of the time.
Trevor: He recorded our Ep.
Beth: Yeah and he’ll be a huge part in recording our album along with Jay Reilly who will be mixing it and stuff like that. That will feel really good to have that in our hands.
Ashley: About going on tour, who made that decision? Who planned it?
Roger: I think the decision was already made when we were doing the EP. Because honestly way earlier on there was talk of touring, it was really really early.
Trevor: We knew for sure that it was going to happen. I guess you could say I planned most of it and booked the shows. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t too difficult, because we had the amazing luck and got such a good response from the EP. Especially Ottawa and Toronto and Windsor. We had people actually playing the EP and giving us a lot of promo.
Ashley: And how did you start with that? Did you approach venues first? What was the process?
Trevor: I reached out to venues and to local bands in those cities [at the same time]. We had our general idea planned early on and it was just filling in the blanks. Essentially we are a band that was fairly new that put out our new EP fairly recently so we didn’t have that cache we can just walk into the city and get a great show. It was a bit of a mismatch; we got help from some bands and venues locally too. We actually got a lot of support from people on that tour.
Beth: Grant went on Reddit.com and found people in different cities to put up posters.
Ashley: What advice would you give to beginners who are starting to record an EP who want to get their music out there?
Trevor: I would say personally that anybody that is trying to start out should just focus on the music first and foremost. It’s the most important thing and then worry about the whole business side that we talked about being so stressful. Make sure you are actually making music you actually love.
Grant: Another part is the recording of it, which is a super important element that allowed us to propel ourselves without a lot of resources besides with that we had. If we couldn’t have recorded it ourselves we would pretty much have been dead in the water.
Roger: Well there are other ways, right? If people don’t have somebody that can record them, basically you start playing shows before you start recording.
Beth: Set little tiny goals for yourself. If you’re starting from scratch and you have your songs together, take the time to find the right people to work with. Once you have that together, which can take some juggling and thought, then actually lay out a little timeline. This is when we want to play our first show. Be kind to people and humble. Be willing to stretch yourself a little bit, and be curious and talk to different musicians in the city. You’ll find your way if you reach out to that community. I mean there are also assholes and you [just need to talk to someone else].
Ashley: What do you do to deal with nerves before a performance?
Beth: We have little band rituals that help like deep breathing sessions in the bathroom. We also do a little vocal warm up too which always feel good because it shakes out the weird tension and it sounds okay. It’s kind of like a band bonding experience.
Grant: It must look super hokey because we stand in a circle and our eyes are probably shut and, if anyone is like me, we are swaying gently back and forth. But it’s a good way to remind yourself that we all have something in common which is the ability to make beautiful music together. That’s what the vocal warm-up means to me.
Roger: I keep myself busy.
Grant: By hurting yourself?
Ashley: What does that mean?
Roger: I’ve have the worst luck this past month. On tour I almost broke my toe. I got back and I split thumb open, four stitches.
Beth: It was right before a big show.
Roger: I had to drum with this thumb and the worse flu I had had in years. [Also] on my birthday I sprained my ankle. It’s just ridiculous. But actually before a show I literally keep myself busy and I normally don’t get nervous. Or I’ll nap.
Ashley: What is your favorite song to perform live?
Beth: I feel like if there was any song that I wasn’t excited to play, it wouldn’t be in our set.
Roger: Yeah, I like playing all of them.
Grant: I joined the band after these guys had recorded the debut EP and there is a song on the EP called Bartholomew and if I’m totally honest that’s the main reason I joined the band. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard and there are these beautiful harmonies at the end of it and I feel really privileged to be able to sing those parts. We just recorded a video for it a couple months ago and it’s the single off the EP. (CHECK OUT BARTHOLOMEW HERE)
Ashley: What was the inspiration for Bartholomew?
Beth: I guess it’s about my own struggles with communication and social anxiety and all of those things. At the time I wrote it, I was also going through a creative rut. The lyrics are a little stream of consciousness and dealing with my frustrations always having to speak within these binaries and blah blah blah and I felt like I couldn’t communicate the way I wanted to and wanting to connect with people in a meaningful way and how it’s always combative. It’s about vulnerability, being exposed and feeling vulnerable.
Grant: You mean it’s not about Bart Simpson?!
Ashley: How are you balancing your music and the band with other obligation with working and paying bills?
Grant: Sleep less!
Beth: I really wanted to make music a center part of my life so I pursued a career that would help me do that. I’m a massage therapist and my schedule at work is pretty flexible. I tried to set up my life that it would be accommodating to making music and that I’m not working a soul killing 9-5 kind of deal. That was not working, I felt the least creative when I was doing stuff like that.
Roger: I’m kind of like Bethany in a way; I fix musical instruments so my hours are somewhat flexible as long as I put the hours in. You know, it’s a big struggle. You just do it. It comes down doing it and lots and lots of scheduling. Sticking to the schedule and actually having a plan ahead of time and making sacrifices.
Ashley: What is the best advice you have heard since you started working in the music business, something that has just stuck with you?
Trevor: For me, it’s the advice that I earlier regurgitated that you have to play what you love. I think its super important. That’s where it starts and ends.
Roger: I don’t remember who, but I just remember someone at some point was like “Don’t be a dick.” Go to shows and don’t be an ass. I think that with the four of us, it’s kind of nice being in a band that you walk in and you know that none of your band members are going to be an asshole to everyone around you. It sucks [when that happens] and that’s one of the biggest things. People won’t want to deal with you, it doesn’t matter if your music is great, but if you are an asshole they aren’t going to invite you back.
Grant: I heard it from James Mercy, if you are afraid of something that you have done or something you’re going to do; it’s something that you should follow or at least pay special attention to it. That fear means you’ve touched into something that is sensitive and that works in a couple ways. You’re either going to step outside your boundaries a bit which is going to lead you to a new wealth of experience or it’s something to share with others which is going to lead you to find some commonalities with the rest of the world. It’s liberating to smash through that boundary and to follow that sort of trepidation and turn it into a positive.
Beth: If you feel there isn’t a place for you then carve your own path, whatever way possible. Things don’t always have to look a certain way for you to have space in the world. By being your own awkward self, just keep being your own awkward self and deal with the crap that comes with it, you’ll have to anyway. If you want to be a performer, you just have to do it in a [louder] way. If you’re doing something you love to do, you’ll be doing it anyway so embrace the awkwardness.
Support Winnipeg Band Autumn Still!
If you want to hear the advice from Autumn Still on how to record your music or get funding, like this post! There was just so much to fit into this interview that I couldn't fit it all in; but if you want to hear some really great information about making the decision or record and apply for funding, show this post some love!
Click the like button down below!