INTERVIEW: Famous October

Pic by Jesco Tscholitsch

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Good! Glad to be stateside!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Falling Over”? Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

I wrote Falling Over when my twin sister was struggling with some big life changes. The distance between us didn’t seem so vast as the miles between California and Switzerland. I felt like I could reach out to her and help, no matter what. We’re twins, and now we’re more different than ever. I’m a mom and she, decidedly, is not. The story is that we anticipated a divide as a result, but got past it. I hope the song can help a lot of siblings or friends going through similar kinds of challenges. Lifestyle doesn’t define who we are, after all.

How was the filming experience?

WE worked with a great team of guys, Martin and Ueli from Sooli Film in Stans. These guys have been good to us since we arrived, and they do great work. We hashed out a few ideas of how to portray the story on film and had a great time honing it into what was possible to do within the means we had. Stans is just so beautiful that all was filmed just within blocks of our house. Their studio is just across the street. We ended up having one of those idyllic Swiss sunny days that makes everything look even more fairytale like than it actually is – if that’s even possible. Debbie is a good friend of ours and a fantastic dancer. She’s so intense! It made the story really come to life.

The single comes off your new album One Day Baby – what’s the story behind the title?

It’s pretty literal in more ways than one. It’s something I would say often to Rene or he would say to me because we’re both dreamers, and find ourselves talking about the future and how we’re going to build it. In this particular case, we were writing songs about the dream of becoming a family. That happened! And we wrote the songs for this album when it was a dream, and mostly during the time it was a reality- that we were going to be parents.

How was the recording and writing process?

Writing was a challenge that we both thrived from and made us both better songwriters as a result. We’re both SO strong in our opinions, and we have different ways of sensing music. So put that together, battle after battle, and you end up with songs neither one of us had expected or could have done on our own in quite the same way. Recording was just simply amazing. Do you know Todd Sickafoose’s work? He’s such a joy to work with. So easy going and his ideas are solid. I never worried about wether his input would interfere with my vision or with Rene’s. The musicians were all top notch too, so we get there, say our hellos – and then start recording basically all in the same room in Rhinebeck New York.(except the drummers and the violin were behind glass) and came out of the session with tons of first takes. That’s why the album has this incredible energy. We all just clicked, and even though we recorded two or three takes, we often all agreed on the first. Sometimes we just did the one. I love it when things come together like that- no overthinking, just music making. 

One from the US and the other from Switzerland – do you try to blend both of your cultures? The blending happens more in the stories in the songs than anything else. It’s amazing to hear his comment on my culture and vice versa through the lyrics in the songs. We are both effected by the other’s culture in ways that could only be expressed in songs.  Otherwise it’s too subtle. Rene was always really influenced by American Roots music. I can’t say I was drawn into the yodel choirs or cow bell choirs of our current region before I arrived, but there is certainly something about living in this very Swiss town that has its grip on me.

How did pregnancy influence the music and lyrics on this record? We had a miscarriage a few years back so this pregnancy was long awaited and we both had to deal with anticipation and disappointment on a regular basis until Cecilia became a reality. This certainly impacted what the songs were going to be about. We were so over the moon, and yet no amount of anticipation prepares you for the actuality of this kind of change. These songs were written during that time when everything is a mystery and you feel your familiar life becoming old, and slipping away. You have to make your peace with that too, in order to embrace the amazement of parenthood.

What aspects of this new venture did you get to explore on this material? I think that When Things Are Different deals with a new sobriety that overcomes you when you look around and everything has new meaning. It also deals with promise and trust, knowing that together we are about to embark on the adventure of birth itself – the unavoidable gateway to the greatest gift – that can’t just be ignored! I didn’t know the sex of the baby when I wrote it, so the original lyrics have she/he in places. That soon changed to my delight! One Day Baby deals with our decision to try in a playful way, and helped us to overcome the sadness of having lost before. Writing that song together made the subject entirely comfortable again. Beyond the Sea deals with heading into the unknown and learning how to reassure ones self. Falling Over, again, deals with how external relationships change once the focus shifts to a new child. 

So how have you been preparing for your upcoming tour? It’s been a full time job outside of our jobs as music teachers and venue owners to get the logistics, funding, and especially the songs in the shape we wanted them for the tour. We wanted to push the limits of a duo sound, and incorporate our favorite elements from the album. So that means taking 5 musicians input and recreating that in arrangement for two. Not possible! But we came pretty darn close. We loved the challenge of putting these songs together again new. You probably get the sense by now that we welcome challenges in general. 

What are you looking forward the most?

We love traveling, and we’ve missed a lot of sunny days for rehearsals – so seeing the landscape is part of the payoff. But we really are excited to be on stage! We both really can’t wait to play this music in all the great venues we’re visiting. We’re going to see a lot of old friends and family (mostly mine) on this trip too and we’re going back to places we’ve both called home in former times. We can’t wait to show our daughter all of the places that hold a piece of our hearts and discover new places and meet new faces. 

Do you tend to change your set between cities?

Yes we certainly will. We have enough material to play for two hours or more a night, and that’s not really going to happen at say, Hotel Cafe or SoHo or places where others are on the bill so yes, it’ll change. Best thing for fans to do is come to all of the shows. Kidding.

What else is happening next in Famous October’s world?

Well, the tour continues into Germany, Switzerland, Holland, the UK and I’m probably forgetting something… and Pillow Song is our venue at home. It’s not a typical place. We host shows in our living room style loft. We cover the songs of our upcoming artists and post them online to welcome them to our listeners. Another challenge! 

For more info: 

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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