What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
Ben and I (Laurel) –the songwriters in the band — were both in high school when we started writing music. I was inspired by the idea that I could create my own melodies on the violin — I always have played the pieces I write much more proficiently than I do music for other composers… writing music has always been my creative channel and way to deal with the general uncomfortableness of being a human being.
Ben and I have always played music together, since we met several years ago. As time went on we wanted to expand our sound beyond “singer songwriter” type music to become a full band, although we are prepared to shrink down to a duo at any moment if need be. We also started using Ableton Live to create ethereal soundscapes. Our friend John Bersuch has been playing drums with us since we became OF TREE in 2016 and we recently acquired a permanent bass player.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
Our latest release came out officially on October 12th of this year. We recorded at Shadow Scape records in Kansas City with our producer Corey Martin and our sound engineer Sea Lea. The songs on that album are inspired by loss, family, cults and spirituality.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
I’ve always been a huge fan of violinist Carla Kihlstedt of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Tin Hat Trio — in my early 20’s I would see her play amazing electric violin riffs with technical perfection juxtaposed with the hard heaviness of the band SGM. I have also been inspired by Andrew Bird and his violin loops. Ben’s main influences are Radiohead and Bill Callahan.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
The form of our music is unexpected and not standard. We always strive to make our music interesting in a melodic way. And our lyrics are wide open for personal interpretation. After our shows many people tell us they have never heard anything like Of Tree.
If our band was a zodiac sign it would be a Pisces : watery, mysterious, intuitive, and swimming the underbelly layer of the subconscious.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
Radiohead OK Computer, The Shining, A New Earth by Eckert Tolle
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
Live — we love the energy exchange between us and the audience.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
What’s funny about our band is that while our music taps into the darker of the emotions (sadness, loss, depression) our practices are pure comedy hour. Our bass player Scott Freeman (who was once in a band with another dude and 2 giant projected kitty cats playing the drums and bass respectively) and drummer John Bersuch (who has a side project called Bacon shoe in which he raps about things like bacon, rainbow bright, snouts and nipples) are hilariously uncouth which relieves the tension between the 2 married people in the band. We just make jokes the whole time in between playing the saddest music.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
I’d say Fight it off — Its very instrumental, strange in form, and conveys the emotions through melody more than through lyrics. To me, its the most visual, painting a picture of the sea surrounded my mist in the nighttime.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
We plan to tour this Spring! We want to extend our reach beyond the loving audience of our hometown Kansas City. We plan to make more music videos, play more live shows and have already begun writing songs for our second album which we plan to release as singles until it is complete. You will be hearing frequently from Of Tree!
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
What is something that most people don’t know about each of the members in the band:
—Laurel is a full time professional violinist, classically trained and now completely crossed over from playing in orchestras/chamber music into the worlds of only playing music she composes or improvises.
—Benjamin Parks is a painter — he paints giant, realistic faces that are absolutely amazing (says his wife) see:
— John Bersuch (drummer) lives with a 250 lb pig that sleeps in his bedroom closet. The pig’s name is Mr. Piggles
— Scott Freeman (bass player) is actually a drummer who was once signed to Capitol Records. He recently moved to Kansas City from the middle-of-nowhere Tennessee and learned the bass literally a week so that he could be in our band since we already had a drummer.
Photo credits: Todd Zimmer (1st one), Corey Martin (2nd one)
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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