We got together with Elysian Feel in their entirety, a New Orleans band, Loyola University mainstays, combining funk, jazz, R&B, and blues in their sound. We have Spence Bailey handling guitar and lead vocal duties, Abner Deitle playing trumpet and singing, bassist Kendrick Magallanes, lead guitarist Dylan Kidd and drummer Dylan Seals.
What other styles would you say encompass your sound?
Dylan Kidd: It’s always different, it changes every show.
Abner: I like to ask other people what they think we sound like.
Dylan Kidd: Recently we’ve been experimenting with odd time signatures and instrumentals, I’d almost call it fusion or progressive jazz.
Kendrick: We don’t go into writing a song with a genre in mind. It forms when the song is developing.
What have you guys been working on in the past few weeks?
Dylan Seals: Mixing the album!
Spence Bailey: We’re mixing a record right now that we recorded earlier this summer.
What is the name of the release?
Abner: Lampshade Sessions
Dylan Seals: I feel like we should maybe give it a name other than Lampshade Sessions
Abner: But I like Lampshade Sessions!
Kendrick: (laughs) It’s untitled so far. We recorded it in Memphis at a close family friend’s shed studio.
Spence: We’re wrapping up the mixing but we haven’t officially announced it.
Where does it stand from your last release The Tree and the Tower (2015)?
Spence: Recording it was a lot different that The Tree and the Tower because we’re using all live takes, not a single overdub. Musically, I’ve been writing songs that are much different than the last album.
Do you prefer recording this way?
Abner: Love it, love it, love it.
Dylan Seals: Live takes are tricky, with five musicians in the studio it’s difficult to get a take that everybody is happy with. But seeing everyone playing is so much better to settle into a groove.
Do these songs feel built from the ground-up and more organic to record with that process?
Kendrick: Whereas the last album influenced how we played those songs for a while, this time around is a much more honest representation of how we play music now. It’s far more seamless.
How many shows were in this last tour?
Spence: We played seven cities: Tuscaloosa, Athens, Atlanta, Daytona, Deniden, Jupiter and Jacksonville.
What was your favorite show out of that run?
Kendrick: Jacksonville was really great for us, it was my first time visiting Florida and I thought it would be a weird beach scene we wouldn’t really fit into but we met so many nice people into the same music as us.
Spence: Jacksonville was my favorite as well.
What is the most difficult part of touring?
Abner: For me the most challenging part is keeping on top of self-care. I had to understand I’m not going to be completely ecstatic every day, and I need to take time for myself and learned how to do that.
Dylan Kidd: Same with that just headspace, I’m not a great sleeper, and it escalates on tour when you’re in close quarters and not getting any sleep whatsoever.
Dylan Seals: Self-care for sure, I knew I wasn’t going to have the best meal every night, and money was always stressful. Blisters get really bad for me drumming for hours night after night, by the last two shows I couldn’t even take down the cymbal stand.
Does touring get easier at this point in your career?
Spence: I would say yes, but this is also the first time we had taken on a tour of this size.
Dylan Kidd: It’s going to get harder definitely. This last tour was only a week and a half, and we want to be able to tour for a couple months on end so it’ll be much more taxing.
If you could do one forever, would you choose touring or performing? Or can you not have one without another?
Spence: I could see getting older in this band wanting to tour less and record from a home studio, particularly if I had a family.
Dylan Kidd: I don’t want to stop performing. There’s a place for both, but performing is hard to beat when you’re in front of your friends and supporters.
Spence: I think for our band, live performances are far more representative to who we are as musicians.
Dylan Seals: We still haven’t quite nailed down the studio game yet.
Abner: I think it’s going to take a couple more albums before we’re really in our recording groove.
I see a lot of chemistry with you guys onstage, has that been there since forming as freshmen, or did it take time to develop and is it still developing onstage?
Spence: I think it’s definitely a progression, especially on our tour this summer, playing that many dates in a row together really helped our communication.
Dylan Kidd: Being around each other 24/7 also helped. (laughs)
Abner: I think the energy has always been there, it’s just the way that we shape it has changed so drastically.
Dylan Seals: Also just jamming, we had a lot of gigs in a row this summer and some of them would be three hours long, and we would jam extensively which is something we had never tried before. We extended sections and made completely new stuff onstage.
Going off that question, I had a conversation with Spence a few weeks ago where he mentioned song ideas forming to something similar to jam-band improvisation. Could you all talk to that a little bit? I’d love to hear different versions of Elysian Feel songs with improvised transitions.
Spence: That’s definitely something we’re working on more and trying to transition smoothly between songs so that we can make on seamless thread of music in our shows, for sure.
Abner: We definitely want to try a little bit of everything in the coming years.
How do you feel like you’ve evolved as musicians, both individually and cohesively, and both creatively and technically.
Spence: We’ve all gotten a lot better. For me, that just makes me think of songwriting. The first songs I was writing for this group were just not “great” songs at all, but that’s something I’m improving on a lot is just writing song after song. Seeing the rest of these guys react to the songs I write helps a lot.
What is the band’s approach to songwriting?
Spence: I usually come in with a song or half a song, something fleshed out, and then everyone collaborates and adds their parts. I’m not writing out a bass part or writing out a trumpet part, I just have a vague idea of how I want the impact of those parts to be and these guys are able to add their flavor the songwriting process.
Abner, you took on songwriting duties for Middle Ground and the Tree and the Tower on T&T how do those come about? They remind me a lot of Snarky Puppy or heavy brass soundtracks.
Abner: “Tree and the Tower” started as an assignment my trumpet instructor gave me where he told me to write a groovy bassline and make a song out of it (laughs). I spent a lot of time working and reworking the instruments on it until the composition of the piece came together.
“Tree and the Tower” refers to two items I kept on my keychain for a long time. There was an Eiffel Tower keychain I got on a trip to Paris with my parents when I was little, and a Lego pine tree was the other.
“Middle Ground” is inspired by being in an unstable and unclear relationship and being conflicted, feeling that things are going very well on one hand, and then the absolute depression of not knowing what’s going on. The song jumps from major to minor keys, representing that frustration and confusion.
What do you think will be the plan for Elysian Feel post-graduation?
Dylan Kidd: [pauses] …tour!
Spence: Once we’ve all graduated, we plan to hit the road and tour as much as possible. We’ll stay here as long as we can, we’ve built our fanbase here.
Dylan Kidd: These are the years where we have to put in the hours, and we’ll have to
Kendrick: I could see us as a band eventually moving out of the city, it’s a cheaper way to live, a healthier way to live. We just need to move to a spot where we won’t age ten times faster.
What shows are you all excited for the rest of the year?
Spence: We have a couple surprises coming up, we’re playing Mid-City Masquerade on October 22nd with some great bands
Dylan Kidd: We will all be dressed as Rick and Morty characters for that one.
Spence: Then we’re putting together our own show, which is a secret, but you’ll all hear about it very soon.
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