I first heard Eavesdrop live in early 2017. My band was competing the The Valley Music Showcase at New City Brewery and one of the things that made the night so exciting was how STACKED and diverse the competing line up was. I had met members of the trio prior (I even used to make one of them their coffee quite often at my previous job), but this would be the first live performance of theirs that I would experience. I was immediately enamored by their intricate harmonies and addicting blend. The power behind their vocals, presence, and lyrics ignited the room, and we all stood in awe. Their devotion to a sisterhood was clear as well, and I am immediately attracted to community and how that feeds art.
We live in a beautiful place, with amazing artists. Like anywhere, the local women who are part of the art scene are plentiful and passionate- I am honored to be among so many devoted and bad ass musicians. Eavesdrop is made up of Kara Wolf, Laura Picchi, and Kerrie Bowden. Each of them bring unique textures and experience to the trio. Over the past few years, Eavesdrop has become one of the most celebrated local groups of The Valley, and once you hear their music there is no questioning why. Next month, on September 7th, they bring their sounds to Gateway City Arts for their 'Back Home' show. Their friend, Boston musician, Ali McGuirk opens the night. Recently, Kara took some time to answer some questions and give us some insight on their process and what we can expect.
Hi Kara! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for GCA's blog! We are incredibly excited for your show here on September 7th with Ali McGuirk. You've titled the show "Back Home". What will you be up to before you spend that evening in Holyoke with us?
We're going to be on the road right before this show, so Pioneer Valley folks won't have a chance to see us live now until we come to GCA. Plus, we don't play with the full band often, so it will be a night not to miss! "Back Home" is one of the songs off our new record, so it just seemed right for a homecoming show title. :)
You three are somewhat local heroes, your music is celebrated across the valley and beyond- how did you first connect as a trio?
Wow, heroes?! That's quite a lot to live up to! So nice of you to say. Laura and I met in the local Valley music scene singing with funk/R&B/dance bands, which is a lot of fun, but we thought it would be intriguing and challenging to try something different for us. I found out that Laura played the guitar and we thought it would be fun to try some more mellow, vocally-driven, acoustic songs together. Laura suggested her high school friend and bandmate, Kerrie, join us. I met Kerrie the night of (what turned out to be) our first rehearsal. We tried some open mics and realized we clicked really well and had something special. I always feel like the momentum of this band is bigger than us -- we never expected this to become such an incredibly significant and full-time thing.
Were you all artists before Eavesdrop? Had you worked together before this?
Yes, we all have performed over the years with different Pioneer Valley groups and with each other in different projects. Laura and Kerrie had a duo in high school, too! (Silver Lining fans, throw your hands up!)
What is your writing process like?
I think one of the things that makes each song, experience, and decision so meaningful for us is that everything is a collaborative effort. We always involve each other in everything we do. For our songs, we take turns bringing outlines or concepts of tunes to the table, and then the others will add to it from there. So no song is written by one person only. We each put a piece of ourselves in it, creating a connection to every song we write. The way we came up with the first songs we wrote on our EP, The Afterglow, was by going up to a family friend's house on a dirt road in Becket, MA. For three days we did nothing but write songs and make delicious food and drink. We never left the house or turned on the TV...we just fired up the wood stove and wrote a bunch of songs. Now, it's a tradition!
Do you find you are attracted to certain lyrical or musical themes as a group?
I think it varies for the three of us, which is what creates our own unique sound. I tend to be drawn to soul/blues, Kerrie gravitates toward pop/country, and Laura is highly influenced by classic country/folk music. I think you can hear that on our records, too.
In the past year you have really begun to focus on your full band as well as the continued nurturing of your unique trio sound, how has the full band changed things for you?
Adding the full band was a game changer, for sure. We had been a trio for so long that it was hard to make the transition and be comfortable handing our originals over to others. But, we put together a band of musicians and close friends that we know, love and trust so much that once we got together it was not only simple, but also super inspiring for all of us. They each bring so much talent to the table, along with lots of great ideas, so the songs really escalated once they joined us. It was pretty wild for us to hear our originals in that format! We have made sure that even though we've added extra instruments and sounds, we've kept our focus on our vocals and harmonies. The guys in the band are really supportive of that, too. Recording with them was an awesome experience, and getting the chance to play out with them live has been a blast!
How was recording with Alan Evans and working with him on your album Tides?
Alan Evans is such an incredible force to work with. When we were finishing up our EP, we were having an issue with the mastering. Alan saved us and mastered it for us in a way that we were very happy with -- after he was done with it, we knew we had to do our full length record with him. His years of expertise and his calm demeanor were exactly what we needed when recording our first full length record ever. He was so patient with us, and really appreciated our concept for "Tides". It's comforting to work with someone who you can trust and know he'll make you sound just like you imagined, without even describing it out loud half the time. We have dubbed him "The Wizard," as he is truly magical.
Do you think that our valley has something unique or special in terms of its music and arts community? Has that influenced your work at all?
Absolutely! The Pioneer Valley is truly a special place when it comes to the arts. Art is everywhere in the Valley! It's easy to connect and make lasting relationships with other artists in this area, too. I am an alumni of the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter High School, so I can personally attest to all the wonderful and collaborative artists, musicians, performers, and supporters that make this a great place to live and make art. We emulate that collaborative nature in our songwriting process. As I mentioned before, when Eavesdrop began we never expected it to become such a serious musical endeavor. Everything we have done so far as a band was because of the people of this beautiful Pioneer Valley that have supported us and empowered us. The sense of community support and inspiration you get from fellow musicians in this area is real, too. You can travel around, but I think you'll find that this area is unique in that way, for sure.
As women working in music and entertainment, do you find that you have to deal with a different set of standards or obstacles than others? Can you tell us a bit about this?
It's impossible for women in any industry to not be faced with gender biased obstacles. Even in the Happy Valley we experience it at times, sure. It certainly was another motivator for Laura and I when we started talking about creating Eavesdrop. The music scene around here is predominately male, as it is elsewhere, but when I saw Laura sing for the first time (aside from being blown away) I felt like it was a breath of fresh air! I knew I had to collaborate with her somehow. Having her on stage with me, fronting a band together, felt so great that I knew starting our own thing with Kerrie would be even better. It's been a fulfilling experience to be able to collaborate with each other and lift each other up. It's quite moving to see women empowering other women and challenging the stereotypes -- especially in the music scene! We've definitely had our eyes on all the other incredible women musicians of the Pioneer Valley out there doing their thing, too! If you follow us on social media, you'll notice we often use the hashtag #girlbandsrule. They do!
What has been some of your stand out memories performing together over the years?
A few years ago when we first started out, we had the opportunity to open for Della Mae back when The Hinge was still open. That was the night we performed our original songs live for the first time. Back then we only has a few songs written, so it was a short set! But it was a pretty magical experience to get up on the stage in front of all the people in that room and share the songs that we held so close to our hearts. It was a vulnerable, yet invigorating experience. Some other great memories we made were during the last time we were on a tour, two years ago. We went to Nashville and back (a similar route to what we'll be doing late August this year), and got to play in some really awesome places, make lots of new connections, and really hone in on our songs. As any musician will tell you, touring certainly brings you closer, for better or for worse! Lucky for us, it was for the better -- it not only helped us become closer friends as a unit, but also more creatively in sync. Plus, it was so much fun! We're looking forward to getting back out there.
Can you tell us a little about Ali McGuirk, the musician opening up your 'Back Home' show here at GCA?
If you haven't heard Ali McGuirk yet, then you better get to GCA nice and early on 9/7 because she is truly captivating. She just released her debut album "Slow Burn" around the same time we released ours, so it just felt right to have her join us! She will be joined by her bandmate Cilla Bonnie (female bassist! <3 ), who is equally incredible and has a solo project as well. We are elated to be able to feature two more female musicians from Massachusetts. Ali hails from Boston, where I can imagine it is even more difficult to push through some of the gender barriers. But when you hear her sing, you'll see why she's done it. We can't wait to share the stage with them!
What's next for Eavesdrop?
After our tour we want to focus on writing some more new songs, we have a lot in the works! We're also planning a video or two, booking more shows with the full band, and coordinating some short runs in areas of the country we haven't played yet. We want to share our new album far and wide!
Join us on September 7th for Eavesdrop's 'Back Home' show, featuring Ali McGuirk.
To learn more about Eavesdrop, visit their website.
To purchase tickets to the show, click here.