Heartstrings

INTERVIEW: Roanoke’s Self-Titled Debut

Mark your calendars. In just three days, Roanoke releases their self-titled album, and we’re positive that this is just the beginning of a very long road for these songsters. On May 14, our Nashville friends will have an opportunity to hear the record live at the 5 Spot in East Nashville to celebrate the release. We were excited to have the chance to get to know Roanoke just before they embark on the journey of a lifetime and release their music out into the world. We spoke with Joey Beesley and Taylor Dupuis (pictured above) about what makes Roanoke, Roanoke.

Andrew Kase: Can you describe how the members of Roanoke met? When did that happen?

Joey Beesley: Kyle and I both stuffed out cars full of what ever we could fit and drove to Nashville from West Palm Beach, Florida. It wasn’t more than three or four months into to living here that Taylor got a job as a hostess at the blues club where we worked. One night after a long shift we ended up at Taylor’s apartment and like most late nights in Nashville, we just started passing a guitar around. The blend of our voices together really inspired me in a way that I began writing my first duet (which would later be “This Love”) the very next day. “This Love” turned into “Without You” and before we knew it we had enough songs to record a demo. About a week after we started redoing with Kyle, he met a mandolin player at a bon fire who we later found out grew up in our hometown. We all got together for the first time on mothers day 2013 and the rest was history.

AK: How do you feel about the upcoming release of your debut album?

JB: Quite literally like the stars have taken their sweet time aligning. We have all put every last drop of blood, and sweat into this album hoping that the tears would come from anyone kind enough to listen. May 14th is not only the celebration of our album’s release but one of friends made and family extended since the moment each of us individually made the choice to move to this great city.  

AK: Why did you think it was important to release it self-titled?

JB: Honestly this album is a photograph of how we came together as a band. Though we’ve put so much of ourselves into each one of these songs, we have put a million times more into being not only a band but a family. We wouldn’t be Roanoke without this album so it just didn’t seem right to name it anything but.

AK: Can you describe your experience starting out in the Americana/folk music genre, in terms of writing and eventually recording?

JB: I think indirectly my writing has always sort of been “Folk/Americana.” I’ve always loved roots instrumentation, rock n’ roll, and the art of story telling which is so evident in country music. plus I love me a fiddle and some pedal steel…starting out as a songwriter id say one of my main insecurities (like most writers) was finding a place were my songs would be accepted and as far as I knew i was doing something that none of my friends had tried or were even interested in. It wasn’t until I found artist like: Ryan Adams, Trampled by Turtles, Jason Isbell, etc that I really had the confidence to go full steam ahead as a writer. Honestly had I have known that Folk/Americana was such a vast all encompassing genre I would have dove in head first from the moment i picked up a guitar, especially had I’ve known that it would eventually lead me to having a strong hand in recording Roanoke.

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AK: What was it like meeting Allison Krauss?

Taylor Dupuis: Meeting Alison Krauss was honestly really nerve racking, but mostly very inspiring. She is someone I really look up to as an artist. I heard she was in the building and decided I had to meet her. She was as sweet as ever and very easy to talk to. We were actually fortunate enough to run into her again some months down the road.

AK: How did she inspire you? Did she provide you with any advice?

TD: I was inspired by the way she presented herself both on and off the stage. I really look up to her as a female artist. She is someone who made a name for herself singing true, honest songs. More specifically her performance inspired “Jordan.” I saw her perform a beautiful, gospel infused, 3-part acappella section that just completely stopped the room, and thus became “Jordan.”

AK: Are there other artists in the Americana/folk genre, or any other, whom you look up to?

JB: That’s a tough one. I’m constantly falling in love with new albums and artists every day. That’s one of the things I’ve loved most about living in such and awesome community of musicians and music lovers. If I had the chance sit in a room for a day making music with any of my hero’s I’d choose Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant, Willie Nelson, Allison Krauss, and Jason Isbell. I’d write the first verse and chorus with Willie and Jason, which would be sung by Jason with his wife Amanda Shires, then I would want Alison and Rob to write the second verse (because they are incredible together) which would be sung by Willie and Alison. Then, I would write the third verse alone with Emmylou and she would sing it with Robert Plant. I would want Daniel Lanois, and Dave Cobb to produce it and our drummer Kyle to engineer it because he would probably start crying the moment he walked in and saw everyone. But, to answer your question. these days I’ve really been looking up to artists like Glen Hansard, Jason Isbell, Gregory Alan Isakov, Guy Clark, Bon Iver, John Prine, Ryan Adams, Trampled by Turtles. and Sturgill Simpson.

AK: Can you tell me more about the “#FundTheFolk” Indiegogo campaign? 

JB: We thought that creating #fundthefolk would be a great way to involve our fans in the journey.

AK: Why did you think it was important to start that?

JB: Without it we wouldn’t have be able to properly release our album, tour, or even shoot a music video. It was also incredibly inspiring to see how many people outside of our circle cared enough about the music we’ve put so much into to help it come to life.

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AK: Two of the themes on the album seem to be love, adventure and faith. Can you explain how those influenced your songwriting on the album?

JB: Well love has always been such an interesting subject to write about. The idea that two people can come together over a feeling that they almost have no choice other than to feel has not only been mind boggling but also fascinating to me since I can remember. Writing about love and other themes similar also make for a great duet. It’s really a luxury to be able to start a song from a male’s perspective and give it to Taylor who brings a true female perspective which in my opinion, you just can’t get without a woman there to write it. I’ve also become a pretty big fan of narrative songwriting since moving to Nashville. Taylor is a great narrative, she really brings a lot to the table when it comes to subjects of adventure and discovery. after writing with her for the first time it was no surprise that she was the main force behind “Jordan.”

AK: What are your plans following the release of the album?

JB: Well our plan is to bring it to as many people as possible for a very long time. We have high hopes of this album and can’t wait to see how our listeners respond.

AK: What was the thought process behind releasing “Jordan” and “Heavy Goodbyes” as your first singles?

JB: We just wanted to make a good first impression and we felt that “Jordan” and “Heavy Goodbyes” would be a great way to introduce listeners to the core of Roanoke.

AK: How has faith impacted each of your lives?

JB: What can you achieve without faith?

AK: What are your plans with the release of the album? Are you going to tour and when?

JB: We’re having an album release party at The 5 Spot in East Nashville with Leah Blevins, Guthrie Brown, an the Harmaleighs. As for our immediate plans following it’s release, we’ll be heading off on tour this summer starting with a midwestern leg in June, then a Rhode Island festival in July followed by a northeastern leg in august. after that we’ll be wrapping it up with Hog Jam in Ohio (which we all can’t wait to play again).

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