Atwood Magazine is excited to announce a partnership with LiveSyphon to showcase live music from across the country! The latest in our LiveSyphon series features Daytona Beach, Florida artist GREYE.
To draw influence from music of various eras and genres and create one cohesive sound is a feat in itself. To blend these influences and develop an entire sub-genre of music that sounds fresh both live and on record is what separates the true artists from the rest of the pack. GREYE develops their own unique sound that they have called “Progressive Americana,” and with good reason. This Daytona Beach, Florida crew creates a motley fusion of folk music with sounds influenced from 70s and 80s rock and roll that sounds as current as it does timeless.
The story of the group’s formation surely coincides with their unique sound. At a high school battle of the bands competition, teacher Ray Grimard organized a jam session with their drummer-less trio at his studio. With Hannah Summer and Jett Wolfe on both vocals and guitar, and Josh Reid on bass and vocals, Grimard had initially only intended to assume the role of producer and engineer. However, with Grimard on the drums, the band felt the magic that GREYE could become and asked him to join the band permanently.
Since the inception of the group, their sound has developed and is a true testament to the conglomeration of their various influences and experience levels. Furthermore, as the group’s touring schedule allows, keyboardist and vocalist Ken-e Williams also joins them and adds his own magic to their live performance experience.
From their humble roots as a Battle of the Bands runner-up, GREYE has become somewhat of a festival favorite. Aside from their generous handful of Florida festivals that the band has rocked, they also performed at the 2015 BMI Key West Songwriter’s Festival. With two released albums under their belts, GREYE has had a year full of touring and writing and recording in preparation for their new ventures. Summer has even been crowned Songwriter of the Year at the 2014-2015 Songwriter’s Showcase of America.
LiveSyphon provides fans with an up-close-and-personal experience with the band, singing their song, “Momma,” at The End in Nashville. It is a dedication to the woman who taught Summer to be fearless. Her bluesy vocals accompany a trance-like bass line that parallels the subject matter of the song — a mother’s calming words acting as a lullaby to a frightened daughter. The band knows exactly how to blossom a heartfelt personal story into a groove that can be understood by all.
Atwood Magazine: How did you all meet?
GREYE: We met as a total coincidence, at a high school battle of the bands performance, where Jett, Josh, and I were performing. Ray our drummer who is a studio owner happened to be in the audience, after hearing us play he invited us to play at his studio with a drummer (himself).
How did you come up with your band name? What does GREYE mean?
GREYE: “Greye” was the title of the first song we wrote together. It seemed like the only thing that would fit. Our music is so diverse, we needed something that encapsulated our different playing styles, influences, and our writing
Your music is a mix of genre - how did you all decide on the sound for GREYE?
GREYE: It wasn’t a conscious decision to create a certain sound. Everything has evolved organically, which is perhaps the best part about looking back on old material and old performances, and it continues to grow with us as musicians.
What is your vision as a musical group?
GREYE: Our vision is to simply create good music, something for the world to enjoy, something that will last long after we’ve all gone. Everything else that comes along with that is an extra part of the experience.
Which bands and artists make up your biggest influences?
Hannah: For me, my biggest influences would have to be John Butler Trio, Seal, Sia, and lots of Broadway Musicals.
Jett: There will always be an ever expanding list of these forever but at the moment: Jethro Tull, Kansas, Harry Chapin, John Butler Trio, Genesis, Yes and Ambrosia.
Joshua: Hard to say we all are influenced by different artist but none us I believe try to write like anyone else we just want to write something unique and something we enjoy as musicians.
Ray: There are so many… I would have to say Yes, Rush, Steely Dan, Traffic, Motown, and so many more.
How has Nashville influenced your sound?
GREYE: Nashville was certainly inspiring. In terms of influencing our sound, it’s definitely encouraged us to continue our hard work to have more opportunities to play there, which has made us tighter as a unit.
What message(s) are you trying to get across with your music?
GREYE: That it’s about the music. It’s about feeling and emotion. It about marking time, being within a community or creating and recalling memories. It’s about happiness, sadness, pain, pleasure, love and sorrow anything that sparks inspiration.
What is the writing process like? Is it a collaborative endeavor?
GREYE: The writing process is usually collaborative, where the band will play sections on repeat for Hannah to write lyrics to. Other times, one of us will bring in an entire song. Everything seems to happen organically.
How much time do you spend deliberating over lyrics?
GREYE: There are thousands of ways to approach how to write or construct lyrics and there is no wrong way to go about it. Some songs are built slowly overtime, taking on new meaning and phrasing, morphing into a brand new product with little in common of the original idea. Some just come all packaged up and ready to slap onto a tune immediately. There is a danger of over-thinking them into obscurity where no one can attach to them, relate to them or place themselves within the song. That’s the worst thing a lyricist can do: pull you out of an experience they intend to create for you.
Do you believe “Momma” to be representative of GREYE's sound?
GREYE: I think you could pick any of our songs to be representative. Every song has feet in different genres, so no matter which song you listen to, you’ll be listening to something unique.
What significance does “Momma” hold in the band's catalog?
GREYE: Momma is one of our first heavier songs, which allowed us to expand into writing heavier music as we grew and evolved.
Why have LiveSyphon capture this song, out of all performances?
GREYE: We wanted to be able to capture our musicianship as well as our ability to use dynamic changes, as we often do in our live and studio performances. It’s also a song that a lot of people can gravitate to because it’s simple and quite driven.
How has the band changed since this performance? Who are you now that you weren't then?
GREYE: We’d like to think we improve every time we play together in every way. We have become stronger performers, players, entertainers and musicians. We haven’t changed as people, but our sound continues to evolve and grow.
This song relies heavily on dynamic contrast, which isn't always easy to translate between live and recorded performance. What was your experience?
GREYE: “Momma” is a live song by definition. It demands arena sized crowds cheering after the chaos it unleashes. It demands focus and attention during the verses while the story plays out. It’s always been easy to pull off live because of the energy we can always inject into this song. We can do anything in the studio. It’s infinitely more controlled by us in that space.
What is the funniest thing that's happened while you were recording?
GREYE: There’s not a lot of down time during recording, but when we do have a spare minute, it’s usually spent laughing. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact memory.
How does your live show differ from your recorded music?
GREYE: The live shows are the real deal. You can’t hide your mistakes. They are what defines the musician and the entertainer. They are structured according to the length given to us from the venue. A great example would be a 45-50 minute set. These have to be airtight at every moment. There’s no time wasted… from covering guitar tuning changes with crowd interaction to forcing the next song at you before you realize that we just finish one; we leave no survivors and throw them everything we have.
What would be your dream venue to play someday?
GREYE: Any venue with people who groove and get down with what we’ve got is better than any dream venue. That is because it’s real and that is infinitely more valuable than a dream.
At what point can you look at the progress you’ve made and say, “We’ve made it?”
GREYE: We think in the music industry, it’s dangerous to ever believe that you’ve “made it,” because at that point, many people plateau as musicians, and stop growing musically. We think being well known is a safe place to say you’ve achieved success as an artist, but we don’t know that we’ll ever stop striving to “make it.”
How has your music evolved since you first began playing together?
GREYE: Absolutely! Our music has evolved from a niche, eclectic folk sound, to something that’s a lot more accessible to a wider audience, something that encompasses funk, rock, pop, while still nodding to our more acoustic roots. New influences come in and reshape our musical lives on a daily basis.
What was the band's goal for 2016, and how are you aspiring to meet that goal?
GREYE: The band’s goal for 2016 was met when we signed with Lakehouse Records (http://www.lakehouserecords.com/) earlier this summer.
What's happening with GREYE for the rest of the year? Any shows / new releases on the horizon?
GREYE: Having just released a record at the beginning of August AND having just returned home from our Northeastern Tour, GREYE will spend the rest of the year tracking our fourth record and getting it ready for release early next year, while continuing to play shows and expanding our audience.