Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bridget and the Squares Interview

Photo by Laura Means
Other photos from the interview can be found here :!/album.php?aid=2063196&id=57701330
Lately I have been hooked on the album "Still Life," recently released by Brooklyn based Bridget and the Squares. The bands debut release is filled with catchy hooks, soulful vocals and refreshingly honest lyrics that has already left me wanting more. Recently, the group hit the road for their first official tour of the East Coast and I had the chance to meet up with band leader Bridget (Laura Regan) to discuss the debut record, their growth as live performers and future plans...

How has the tour been? Have you ran into anything interesting yet?

Bridget: The tour has been great! We have met some great people, we’ve made some good contacts, we’ve seen some interesting things and we’ve learned some good hard lessons. I think our favorite thing so far, has been Adventure Landing in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was an arcade with all of these wonderful games, and it was pirate themed! That was awesome. This is only our third or fourth show, so we are still early on and haven’t killed each other yet, which is good(laughs).
I see that you got involved with this really cool website,, to help raise funds for this tour. How did you get hooked up with them?
Bridget: Well, several of my friends had used Kickstarter for various things and multiple people had told me to try it out. So I looked up the website and said that I might as well try it out, why not? I did it for a while (between 45 and 90 days), so that I could raise $1,000 for a tour and we needed at least that to rent the car and stuff. We started promoting it, my parents helped a good bit, getting their friends involved and other bands helped us out and reposted it for us. Overall, we were able to raise $1,200 for our tour, which has helped us out significantly.
Is it something that you would do again?
Bridget: Absolutely, we are looking at recording an Ep this summer and I am looking into just how much the studio space is going to cost us. We really want to make a dent with this Ep, and we are going in a very different direction from what “Still Life” was. “Still Life” is a decent culmination of what Bridget and the Squares had started from and what my writing had started from. The direction that we are going in now is definitely more of a heavy rock influenced direction. Obliviously the indie-pop is still there, because we are still very quirky and poppy, but it is aggressive and it attacks. I think that is the most important thing that is different about the new Bridget and the Squares, versus the old band. We actually got a review back today that must have come from someone that had seen us a long time ago, because they were saying that the band just kind of plays in the background and I am in the forefront. I don’t think that represents us at all anymore, and we are so much tighter as a band and the band seems to influence my personal performance so much.
With “Still Life,” how far did some of the songs date back?
Bridget: Most of the songs on the record were written in college, or post-college. I am 28 not, so that was a while ago (laughs). More than half of the songs were written during that time, but basically the songs were written over the course of six years. Some of them were pretty old, but they maintained their value to me and I put them on the record.
How are you seeing the writing for the new songs panning out? Is it more collaborative?
Bridget: No, it is still me writing the songs, but I have been putting more stock in the musicians I play with to assist me with the arrangements. I feel that I have become better as a band leader, and I have a better vision of what I want from the songs. Before, I feel like I was trying to hard to fit into this “indie-pop” thing and I wasn’t letting myself be as big as I could be. I feel like I have a very loud voice and powerful stage performance and it was becoming inhibited by me trying to fit into things. I think that a lot of it had to do with being in Boston, where there really wasn’t a very big Indie-pop scene. I feel like I was trying to fill a certain niche that was not being filled, and I wanted to stick to that and be consistent. I hadn’t really come into my own yet. It wasn’t till I moved to New York, that I really learned that people want to see what you are and not you pretending to be someone else, because you can see that anywhere. It is more original so see someone who is really being true to themselves. That is a performance that I want to see. I want to see people being honest onstage, and that is really what we do. We don’t have a lot of gadgets, pedals and re-verb. It’s just piano, voice, bass, and drums. That is our general set-up, but sometime we will just do drums, piano and singing. It is very bear boned, its very honest and very cut and dry.
Speaking of stage presence, there is a very interesting story behind how you developed your stage presence. Who are some people that you have looked up to in the past as far as stage presence goes?
Bridget: Really just all of the classic rock stars like Mick Jagger, dancing like a fool onstage. Singers that just stand up there and have such a presence and you are just in awe of their presence. I have always respected people that can command attention, not just with their talent, but just with their presence. Just being in a room with someone, and you just want to be next to that person. I have always emulated those people. People like Etta James, Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin. All of the classic, strong female personalities and singers. A few years ago, I started getting into some of the signers that had really hard stories and how it influenced their sound, their music and their performance. A lot of that stuff factors in when you are performing, and a great deal of my songs are raw emotionally. I think that it would be doing my songs a great disservice if I didn’t full-out perform them. I think that performance is %90 of music. You go to a show, to see a show and to be entertained. I get bored seeing great musicians just standing there, playing their instruments and not doing anything. I don’t want to see that, I will just buy the record. Music is very complex, there is a lot of knowledge and work that goes into it, but I think that it is a lot of fun (laughs). I think so many musicians get wrapped up in the technical details of everything, and they don’t have fun anymore. I want to have fun, and that’s so important to me now.
So you are definitely seeing growth in your stage performance?
Bridget: Yeah, I definitely think so. I am blown away by how we have been performing (laughs). Amanda Dellevigne is a good friend of mine, who has played in a number of bands over the years in Boston, and I needed a bass player for tour. We were able to work it out to where she could come out on tour with us, and she has been doing great, and it had been a long time since she had seen me perform onstage. When we were playing a show in Richmond, after one of the songs she started clapping (laughs). She was like “that was awesome!” I feel like we have really evolved so much, and I have really come into my own and a lot of it has to do with the fact that I found Kyle Thompson, my drummer. He is defiantly the first drummer that I have played with, that actually matches what I feel. He is playing what I feel, and how I want it to sound. It wasn’t really until we started playing together that I realized that I have the support I need to really scream and get this emotion out!
So how long has it been since you have had the “final three members?”
Bridget: Well, its not even the final three really. Amanda is only with us for tour, and we do have as bass player in New York that we do play with on a regular basis. I found Kyle last summer, when we met at a New York City talent show. He is a singer-songwriter as well and I actually started collaborating with him, doing background vocals and playing piano. Then I needed someone to play drums for me and he was like “I play drums!” I told him that I would believe when I hear it, and then we played together and it was like magic. It just happened organically, we wanted to collaborate, we did and it ended up being perfect. I do still play with him on his project, which we are working on as soon as we get back from tour. The project is called Kyle and the Animal, and I am really excited for it.
Is it completely different?
Bridget: Yeah(laughs). His stuff has a lot of raw emotional material. For the project he plays the guitar and sings, while I play the piano and background vocals. We are currently looking for a drummer, second guitar player and bass player. It is definitely going to take a while, but when we get it done it is going to sound so good. We are probably going to record an Ep for that too, very soon, with some friends. So far, the Ep will be the two of us and then we will add some strings and stuff, to get it to what we want it to sound like so that we can start getting actual musicians to play with us.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences, past and present?
Bridget: I love answering this question, because everyone lumps me into the category with Regina Spektor. I have been writing songs since I was eighteen, so my influences have changed many times since then. Your music evolves as you become a better musician. Once you are able to play the things that you actually admire, you start to evolve a little bit. My roots are definitely in blues, folk and soul. That is really how I learned how to sing and play music. As I evolved, I started listening to a lot more pop and I started listening to a lot more Fiona Apple. What’s funny is a lot of people compare me to Regina Spektor from the “Still Life” record, and I had never even listened to her until after all of the songs were written. The first time that I had heard Regina Spektor, a friend of mine called me up and said “Laura, somebody stole your songs!”(laughs). So I go and listen to Regina Spektor and I was like, “man, she totally beat me!” I think in my head, that she beat me to it but honestly it just makes you want to try harder to be different. When you are new, you are going to be compared to different artists because they have to have something to associate you with. We aren’t re-creating the wheel here, we are making pop music, so I don’t expect not to be compared to other people. I would say as of late my biggest influences have been Ida Maria and Florence and the Machine. Other bands that I enjoy listening to that haven’t influenced our stuff yet, but probably will once we start recording, like Frightened Rabbit and Jeremy Messersmith from Minneapolis. Their lyrics are amazing, and lyrics are really important to me , so I am always trying to get new angles on how to approach writing. I also really like Manchester Orchestra a lot and how they have this amazing ability to build into this huge wall of sound that comes at you. There have only been a few bands that I have seen that have the ability to do that live.
What are you up to after the tour?
Bridget: After the tour we are recording a music video for “Left for Dead,” and then after that we are going to start working on our new Ep. We actually want to re-record “Left for Dead” and “Treat Me Bad” because we play them very differently now. We want to kind of show what the direction of the band is, using something that people are familiar with. We are also going to do two news songs, “Leprosy” and “Goodbye,” which is a really powerful song. It will be like six songs total!

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