I recently got the pleasure to talking to Jocelyn & Chris Arndt about their most recent album Edges.
Nicole Scott: Your newest album Edges recently came out – a delightfully soulful, blues-rock album. Do you all have a particular muse for your overall sound?
Jocelyn and Chris: Honestly, not really. We definitely have a lot of artistic inspirations, particularly in classic rock and blues, but when it comes to actually making our sound, we just try to create the best sound we can. The music we gravitate towards indirectly affects the final product, but we never have a goal in mind; we’ve never approached a song saying ‘alright, this one needs to sound bluesy with a great guitar riff’ or anything like that. We try to let the songs guide their own development, which lets us really get the best out of each one. Then, when we bring it in to the studio, we put it together with the band and hammond organ and all that stuff and it all comes together into this awesome sort of blues-rock thing, which is what you heard on Edges. The process feels pretty magical, no matter how many times we go through it. There’s nothing like the feeling of finishing a new song and seeing how it fits in with everything else we’ve written!
NS: It’s always fun to hear how artists see their albums in retrospect. I imagine it’s hard to pick your own personal favorite songs you’ve done, but out of curiosity – which track from Edges do you gravitate towards to most and why?
J&C: This is a tough one—this is how I imagine someone feels when asked which child is their favorite. I really love all of the songs on the album, but if I had to pick a favorite, I guess I’d say that it fluctuates with my mood. When I’m driving around and Mystery comes on, I don’t think there’s a volume setting loud enough for that one. Then, later, at home, I’m usually in the mood for something a little more suave, like Jagged. And if I’m feeling out of it, nothing is better than Dry Cereal or Because of You to cheer me back up. I think there’s probably a situation like that for each one.
NS: Are there any of the tracks that have an unexpected story behind it you’d like to share? Any weird inspirations you didn’t expect that actually made a great song?
J&C: This album is actually pretty interesting, because it’s a comprehensive map of our entire songwriting career so far. It contains songs like Dry Cereal and More Than I Say I Do, which are among the very first we ever wrote, as well as songs like Shame and Jagged from our most recent work. Because of the wide range of time it covers, there are definitely a lot of weird stories like that. More Than I Say I Do, for instance, was the product of my sister saying “We need a song with more feelings” and locking herself in her room for a few hours in tenth grade, at which point I added the guitar and it became what it is today. Hot also has an interesting story behind it. One night, our dad was having trouble sleeping, so he wrote down a bunch of lyrics about being too warm to sleep and showed them to me in the morning. I came up with the baseline and chord progressions and we showed it to Jocelyn. She made some changes to the lyrics and reconfigured the melody, and the song was pretty much finished. Each song comes from a different place, so each one has a slightly different story behind it.
NS: You all are studying at Harvard on top of being musicians! What all do you study? What’s it like to be in that environment as well as creating music?
J&C: Jocelyn is an English major (which makes a lot of sense, considering her way with lyrics), and I’m a double major in Music and Computer Science. I do, however, tend to get pretty focused on the music half of that. It’s honestly such a cool environment to be a part of! It’s definitely a lot of work, but music is as good an outlet for stress as anyone could ask for, so I think they balance each other out pretty well. Being at Harvard has given us a lot of really important skills for our career in music, or anything else for that matter. Both sides of our life have helped us grow a lot, and we feel incredibly lucky to be able to pursue each one! I think the most important thing is that whether we’re doing homework or recording an album, we really love it, and we’re surrounded by the most amazing people. We’re really just insanely lucky.
NS: Give us some insight on what it is like being fairly young and upcoming musicians in the New England music scene.
J&C: It’s honestly really awesome. The music scene here is vibrant and supportive and just incredible. We’re pretty close to both NYC and Boston, and there are a ton of great music festivals, like Mountain Jam and Grand Point North and CMJ Music Marathon and Boston Calling and so many others. Touring nationally is awesome, and we do it a lot, but it’s really nice to know that even when we’re at home we’re surrounded by an environment that is as steeped in art and music as it could possibly be. And, on top of that, you’d be surprised by how tight-knit the music scene is here. There are a lot of bands and artists and people involved, but even after just a few years, you start to see a lot of the same people over and over again, and those people are always so supportive and nice. A lot of people bag on the music industry for being pretty cutthroat and dangerous, and there are parts of it that are, but over here in our little blues-rock-indie-alternative New England corner, it seems like the overwhelming majority of people are genuinely interested in helping each other out and listening to each other’s work.
NS: What is it like to perform with your sibling? Do you think you all have something maybe other musicians don’t have because of that dynamic? More fights maybe, more harmony?
J&C: I think we definitely have a dynamic that a lot of other musicians lack. Not only are we siblings, but we’ve also been each other’s best friend for our entire lives so far. We’ve spent so much time together, sometimes it seems like we can have entire conversations without saying a single word. Which can probably be a little creepy to outsiders sometimes. We understand each other on a pretty fundamental level, and because of that, we are never afraid to show a new idea during songwriting, or to open up about something that could inspire a song, or anything like that. And on the other side of the coin, we’re also totally comfortable keeping each other solidly grounded in reality. We both have to knock each other own a few pegs every once in a while. There are certainly those classic sibling moments, but for the most part, I think our closeness is a true asset to our music and our ability to work together in a really productive way.
NS: Do you all have any cool shows coming up? Any dream venues you’d like to pursue or bands you’d like to sing alongside?
J&C: We have a bunch of cool shows coming up! We’re playing a few gigs with Delta Rae in June, which is going to be AMAZING because they’re one of our favorite bands. Then, in July, we’ll be at Milwaukee’s Summerfest, as well as a lot of other shows closer to New England. Then, in August, we’re going on a national tour for about a month. We’re also going to be at the CMJ music festival in October and Sundance in January. And we plan on recording another album somewhere in there, as well as doing a lot of radio promotion, so we plan on keeping ourselves pretty busy! As far as dream venues or bands we’d like to play alongside, I think the simplest answer to that would be anyone, anywhere. Music is our favorite thing to do, and I don’t think there’s ever a show we wouldn’t really want to take. That said, if we had to pick, I think I’d probably freak out if we played with Government Mule or the Rolling Stones or Grace Potter or any of those crazy awesome bands in the blues/rock genres.
NS: What would you say your proudest moment as musicians has been so far? How would you like to top it?
J&C: I think my proudest moment as a musician comes every Saturday when we get the radio report. We’ve been pushing Edges to radio (specifically, to the AAA, AMA, and Jamband formats), and we get weekly updates. So far, those weekly updates have only contained really incredible news. We debuted on the national Jamband chart at #17, and we’re currently at #137 on AAA for our single, Shame, and at #163 on AMA! There’s nothing quite like knowing that we’re pushing our very first full-length album to radio and people are really into it. I don’t really know how to top this—I guess we just keep hoping that the numbers will continue to go up. And so far, they have, almost every single week!
Listen to their track “Shame” here: