What has been your biggest inspiration for music and writing – as individuals and as a couple/band?
My musical inspiration first began with my parents. I grew up in a very musical home. We were always listening to something. Frank Sinatra, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, and Cat Stevens were some of my favorites over the years (and Disney soundtracks). In high school I joined the marching band (trumpet) and the choir, which lead to musical theatre, madrigals, you name it.
Licia was more of a closet/bedroom singer up until we started dating. We decided to be friends after a few dates, after which my mom (being the matchmaker that she is) offered LIcia "free" guitar/voice lessons (at our house). By the time we started dating again, Licia was often playing the guitar, but it wasn't until about 6 months into our relationshp that I actually heard her sing. She was really really good.
Tell us about your fascination and inspiration through writings by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Where did this begin?
C.S. Lewis has been incredibly influential in my thinking and writing. It began with Narnia as a kid, but it wasn't until I went back to those stories in college that I really grasped the brilliance of what he had accomplished. Spending time in Narnia increased my joy and delight in God and His good gifts. It taught me about His sacrifice, about friendship, courage, and faithfulness. It also inspired me to try and write with as much creativity, imagination, and excellence as I possibly could.
I'm currently re-reading through The Lord of the Rings for the second time, and have been struck over and over at how masteful Tolkein was at world-building. You really feel as though you have been transported to Middle Earth. Everything about it seems believable and authentic, definitely not contrived or commercial. All qualities of good song-writing that we try and emulate as best we can.
Tell us about some of your music inspirations. Who is someone you can compare your music style to? Who are some artists you’d like to perform or collab with?
We've been describing our style recently as "narrative-pop-folk" because many of our songs are so story-oriented. Pop-folk is a bit vague. There are lots of influences that show themselves in our songs. Lyically, we take our cues from good story-tellers like Paul Simon. Instrumentally, we've been inspired by Coldplay, Mumford and Sons, and a ton of other bands. Vocally and melodically, there's a lot of jazz/big band background coming through.
Artists that would be fun to play with? Josh Garrels, Gungor, NEEDTOBREATHE, Jars of Clay, Colony House, and The Lone Bellow to name a few:)
What is your goal through your music? What do you hope to accomplish through The Gray Havens?
Good question. I think we're still working that out, but for now we're content with a broad mission, which is to stir up the minds, imaginations, and affections of believers and non-believers through song and story, so that, through them, they would experience a deeper joy in God.
Do you have any projects currently in the works?
I have about 350 voice memos on my iPhone I need to start going through in order to start writing more intentionally for the next project. Nothing is on the calendar yet, but I don't think serious discussions about when to begin production are far off.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
That's a good question. We want to do this as long as it's still feasible, fun, and life-giving to our family and to our listeners.
If you had to choose, what would be one word that could sum who and what The Gray Havens is?
What is some advice and encouragement you would give to any budding musicians? Or to ones who have continually run into roadblocks in their path to becoming recording artists?
Listen to a lot of music. Write a lot of music. Perfectionism kills creativity. Find life-giving people to help you and encourage you along the way.
Congratulations on the news of the baby Radford! When are you due? And can you share a bit about how the little human is going to fit into your goals with music and The Gray Havens?
Thank you! We are due sometime in mid-June. We will probably take copious notes from other husband-wife duo groups who have made it work (The Groves, the Hellers, Jenny and Tyler, etc...). Whatever happens, I'm sure it will include lots of trial and error (and maybe some new songs!).
Thank you for taking the time to let me interview you. Your answers were fun and information-filled. Blessings on your journey as talented musicians!