Based over two continents, this transatlantic group is made up of Mat Charley, Joe Berger and Mark Race. Relocating from North Dakota to Los Angeles, Charley and Berger used social media in pursuit of finding the missing piece of this trio, eventually meeting British musician, Race through Instagram. Their ‘expensive folk’ style is an amalgamation of genres, capturing the essence of folk with an infusion of contemporary pop. The assertive percussion, acoustic guitars and harmonic group vocals, integrated with the mandolin and violins and atmospheric synths establish their exclusive sound.
With a mosaic of worldly influences, the new single “Come My Way” blissfully narrates the feeling of love and longing. The gradual progression of drums in the verse, leading to the contagious pop melody and quotable lyrics of the chorus, give a festival-like feel to this track. I got to chat with the band to find out a little more about their musical influences, managing their geographical distance and the vision behind their new single.
R: Come My Way is one of the first songs we worked on together, just a few days after Mark landed in LA for the first time. It’s a pretty simple song, at least in terms of subject matter, and in many senses a naive song. There’s something of an “us against the world” quality to it, as well––again, naive and young and probably foolish, but motivated by nothing but love. Sonically, we feel like it definitely captures the thrill and excitement we all felt in the early days of the band, as well. We knew that acoustic layering and big drums and big harmonies were going to be the foundation of our sound, so it felt very much like a “flagship” song to us even back then.
R: It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve definitely developed a rhythm to it over the years. Some things, like writing, have actually been relatively easy––it’s not too difficult these days to send voice memos and tracks and sessions back and forth around the world, and many of our demos have been built in that way. The hard thing has always been just not always being together. A huge part of the appeal of even being in a band, to us, is being able to perform music live, and being on different ends of an ocean complicates that. That being said, it’s definitely gotten much easier to manage, and we’re lucky enough now to be able to spend most of our time together, whether that’s in the US or the UK.
R: The three of us together have a wide array of influences, from bluegrass and classical music to hip hop and classic rock. We’re inspired by most of it, to be honest, but the artists that we love that we actually try to emulate a little are ones like Coldplay, the Beach Boys, Paul Simon, and Mumford and Sons. There are dozens more of course, but there are aspects of those kinds of artists that we do try to blend into what we’re creating––for example, the harmonies of the Beach Boys, or the story-telling of Paul Simon. We’ve never set out to intentionally write any song that sounds like any particular artist, but we feel like it’s easy enough to tell whose music we love just by listening to our music.
R: We have a number of ways we write music. Because we’re literally always working on new songs, it really depends on where we are all in the world at the time. Often, if we’re not all together, Mat will come up with anything from a track to a complete song and send it around for everyone to edit and record their parts. We also are constantly sending voice memos back and forth with melody or chord progression ideas. When we’re together, we always have our instruments lying around, and most days we’ll just pick them up and start something new or finish something from the day before. The main part of the process is just its consistency––not that we always do it in the same way, but that there’s never a moment where we’re not working on something.
R: We all started playing our instruments around roughly the ages of seven to ten, and have sort of evolved from there to the point where we’re able to teach ourselves more. Part of the incredible fun of making the kind of music that we make is that the sonic palette we’re working with is massive. We don’t have to shy away from putting any instruments we want into any song we want––in addition to the folk instruments we tend to start with, we have demos with organs and banjos and trumpets and all kinds of other elements. So we’re always learning new things to expand that palette. Joe started learning piano; Mark sort of knows his way around a mandolin; Mat bought a bouzouki and an accordion before he had any idea how to play them. Even just having a rudimentary understanding of a number of different instruments has been really important for the development of our sound.