For the Bands Interviewing Bands series, we have Owen-Glass (RIYL: Tom Petty, Dave Matthews Band and Sufjan Stevens) and Saint Spicer (RIYL: Erykah Bau, India.Arie, Sade).
From the Piney Woods of East Texas, singer-songwriter Kelly Wayne Conley and his trusty sidekick, guitar prodigy Cole Humphrey, are having fun and making a splash with their indie folk rock project Owen-Glass. In a highly saturated indie rock market, Owen-Glass stands out not only with its smart lyrics and tight harmonies, but also with its textured soundscapes and crazy multi-instrumental solos. Wild rock violin, big alto saxophone, ’70s-style keys and electric mandolin are held together with a master rhythm section comprising Conley, David Beck and Dees Stribling. The debut album The Rope & The Rabbit defies the conventions of genre and maintains an alarming degree of stylistic cohesiveness and high levels of broad-audience listenability.
Also based in Texas and influenced by the artistry of innovative female industry icons like Nina Simone, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga, Saint Spicer combines funk and soul with silky vocals and fiercely honest lyrics to convey the realities of life—however brutal they may be—with elegance, dignity, and sincerity.
Both being from Texas, check out what they talk to each other about in the interview below.
Owen-Glass: So where does the artist name “Saint” Spicer come from? Is there a story behind that?
Saint Spicer: That’s a great question. Saint is just a name I chose. I chose it for many reasons; it’s a relatively gender neutral name and I like the religious connotations, but most of all it’s pulled from some of Kanye West’s work. Kanye West was one of my musical inspiration when I was getting started in performance.
Saint Spicer: I really enjoy the cover art you have for your upcoming album. Can you speak a bit about the stylistic inspiration as well as some of the symbolism behind that?
Owen-Glass: Thank you, we’re very happy with it. My friend Tyler Orsak did an incredible job on the illustration. We wanted something hand painted so the folky DIY aspect of our music would shine through. The Rope & The Rabbit allegorizes the theme of our album, and the painting really adds another layer of mystery and intrigue I think our fans will be drawn to.
Owen-Glass: Tell us about your songwriting process—do you write lyrics to your music, or the other way around? More free-flowing? Structured?
Saint Spicer: My songwriting process depends on the collaborator! In general though, I write lyrics to the first verse, and then I work with the producer to flex the music, add elements, swap things out, etc. The goal is to let people’s best talents shine through while still honoring the song. Sometimes that means I need to step back, other times, I take a larger role, but I write all my songs from start to finish.
Saint Spicer: I may be a bit biased, but “Saint” is my favorite song so far off your upcoming album, The Rope & The Rabbit. Lyrically and content-wise, how would you say this song fits into the album as a whole?
Owen-Glass: Yeah I guess you would be biased! Saint is a real turning point in the record where the character accepts his uniqueness and resolves to push ahead regardless of the consequences. We took that idea and applied it to the arrangement as well, giving every lead instrument a solo spot to bring out the style and character of each instrumentalist. I think its one of the most important, and best-sounding songs on the record.
Owen-Glass: In your mind, what does it mean to “make it” in the music industry of today?
Saint Spicer: For me, I have very specific goals. I know I want to be a full-time artist. I set expectations of what that looks like for me, how much I need to be making each week, and what my activities would look like. So I personally have a very specific idea of what my success in the industry looks like. But for artists at large, I would say “making it” means having a career goal set and then working to reach it. “Making it” is a journey and each person must choose their destination.
Saint Spicer: What does “making it” in the music industry mean to you?
Owen-Glass: That’s definitely a term that has evolved with the industry. I mean, ultimately, profitability defines your level of success in any marketplace. For me, I would be extremely happy just to have a self-sustaining independent music business. Just have a group of dedicated fans who will spend money with us and help us finance the next record time after time. That’s the goal, really.
Owen-Glass: You’ve talked about having a broad taste in music growing up. Is there a particular song that connects you with a specific moment in your life?
Saint Spencer: Asido by Purity Ring is my most played song on Apple Music. I’ve played it hundreds of times, mostly because I simply leave it on Repeat when I need to veg out and let my emotions wish over me.
Saint Spicer: Most artists have a “favorite part” about being a musician. What is your favorite part?
Owen-Glass: Mine is definitely the collaboration aspect. Both in pre-production and in the studio. I love piecing together the shell of a song and then hearing the guys feel it out and make it special. I work with some seriously talented people, and they make the art what it is. It’s all about having fun with friends, creating something you’re proud of.
Owen-Glass: If you could share the stage with any artist in the world, who would it be?
Saint Spicer: That’s a tough question, I’ve never thought about this before! I’d like to get back onstage with my friends, EagleBabel, MZZZA, and Eli Arbor. I miss performing together, and I can’t wait to collaborate more on upcoming projects.
Saint Spicer: If you could work with one artist alive today, who would it be?
Owen-Glass: Oh man, that’s tough! There are so many I’d love to work with… it’s a really tough choice between Thom Yorke, Glenn Kotche and Andrew Bird. Can you imagine those three together on the same record? You know what, I can’t choose. Gotta say all three.
Saint Spicer: What is one piece of advice you’d give anyone looking to start out in the music industry?
Owen-Glass: If you’re not passionate about your art, and you’re just looking to get famous, don’t bother. If you’re passionate, and you feel like you have no choice but to make a record, then do your homework, save your money
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