You all know by now what a fan I am of art & music…and I’m pretty sure you all know that I can’t get enough OF it either – so here’s some more!
I’d like to introduce you to our new friends south of our border – Lena And The Stone.
And we’re here at an interesting time for these two; they just played their first show this past week in July, have an EP due for release “SOON” and are ready to give this whole music thing in general a legitimate push forward.
Talking with Lena post show – I had yet to hear her THAT pumped up – and she always seems to be be pretty excited…but it sounds as if the show went more than well, giving this duo a real idea of what it’s like to be out there together onstage on their own. At the core of it all – that’s the way this act has started; no matter who may join the band in the future or lend a musical hand to a song – that incredible bond between the two will still be there at the end.
Confessions Of A Sailor’s Muse – the anticipated new EP from Lena And The Stone is coming out later this year. I started thinking about that word “muse” and how I’ve always related that to a romantic thing. In reading this interview – you’ll find out that for one reason or another, to call either of these two out as the other’s “muse” might be inaccurate. So I’ve come up with this instead: Lena And The Stone are the catalyst for each other’s creativity.
Sometimes it’s like that. It was for me. Until I had met Rob @ SBS I hadn’t had that extra push or motivation to see HOW FAR our music could be taken, or how many songs we could write together. You meet people in life that can really become the pen to your paper – and you’ll see that in this interview. These two have found a purpose in this music they make; they’d have to be crazy to give it up now! Read on!
Lena And The Stone Interview
SBS: Well now! This is something you don’t see and hear every day! The two of you have put together something really unique in texture and sound – and from what I can find out about you through information it seems as if you are working on the accompanying visual elements to go with your music through videos and live shows. There’s a little bit of info on you out there in internet-land, and I can also see that the two of you have newly formed for this present year…we’re gonna need to know a LOT more about you Lena And The Stone! Tell us how the two of you met and how you came to the conclusion that this was YOUR time to go after your musical career.
Stone: We met through a mutual friend and started casually talking about music. ………………….
Lena: It always feels like it’s my time to go after my musical aspirations. After working on a couple songs together it just ignited the desire to keep going…so we did.
SBS: Through your correspondence with us you mentioned the two of you having pretty diverse backgrounds overall. Go into that for us a bit – did you mean musically? Or were you alluding to a more worldly kind of diversity – like some sort of crazy life-paths you were on that led to this moment?
Stone: I guess you could say both. Culturally we come from very different backgrounds. I’m European, I spent most of my life in London but also moved around a lot. Paris, New York – then I ended up in Denver at some point and 3 years ago I moved to LA. Lena…………….. Musically, I think we both are at a turning point in our life; it’s now or never for us. I guess that makes us so focused and determined.
Lena: I believe in the concept of life leading to this with a special purpose. I’ve known for a long time I was searching for this sort of compatibility in music. Our backgrounds complement our sound. I’m a Puerto Rican-Texan and I have a love for travel; Frank really brings a worldly European sound to the music that I’ve loved since I am so affectionate about other cultures.
SBS: Truthfully – how in-depth did the conversation of “how” to go about your music become before you decided to become a band? Or did you become a band first and discuss the details later? It seems like, at least to me, we’re at the beginning of a real launch for you two over every medium at your disposal, which is awesome. But yeah – I guess the real question is how much of this attention is coming at you versus how much are you yourselves going after?
Stone: We never really talked much about becoming a band. We started recording some tracks without any expectations really. After finishing a few songs, I think we both realized that we created something different and unique and then it turned into a whole new dynamic. Right now we have to go after it, if you sit and wait for attention, you’ll wait forever.
Lena: We are a two piece writing partnership and the band will come later. I like the two of us being the sole writers. We never discussed so much how to go about, we just did. After constructing such a dynamic sound we became excited to replicate the sound live. So we started seeking players..
SBS: Now – I suppose we should clear the air as best we can. I couldn’t find any published interviews with you yet – so I’m thinking we’re at least at the front of the pack in discovering you, if not maybe even the first to interview you… Every duo in musical history has had to answer the question regarding a romance between them. Had I seen an answer to this, I assure you I would have stayed far, far, far away from it as you will be no doubt asked this question by nearly every interviewer in your years to come. BUT – that being said – it seems like we might be the first to ask – so tell us the truth! Lena And The Stone – Business? Pleasure? Both?
Stone: Ha Ha Ha, I can honestly say that musically we really hit it off. Lena gets what I do and vice versa without even talking about it. We are on the same wave length when it comes to music and this is something that is very hard to come by. I don’t think neither of us is willing to jeopardize that.
Lena: It’s just a musical bond and an accompanying friendship!
SBS: To me, for all intents and purposes along with the information on you two – it looks as if you’re taking what you do with a seriousness, dedication and determination of ten indie bands! But of course it can’t ALWAYS be serious – especially on the ride UP! How much fun have you been having doing what you do in Lena And The Stone?
Stone: I think the more we get to know each other, the more fun we will have. But for me, there is nothing on this planet that is more fun than making music.
Lena: It’s the most joy anything can really bring me. When I’ve spent a day working on music with Frank I feel like I’ve accomplished something meaningful. Even when it’s just spent inside 4 walls at his studio. We definitely goof off through the whole process because some parts of it like the technical stuff can be redundant and tedious. But the creation process is really fun and special.
SBS: You’re a new, LA-based band – that is NO joke! One of the entertainment capitals of the planet; people flock to Los Angeles from all over the world in pursuit of their entertainment dreams. I would think it almost a little bit daunting to START a band there! So level with me Lena! Level with me Stone! How do you two plan on becoming identifiable in the never-ending sea of entertainment contained in LA?
Stone: La is a big graveyard of broken dreams but it’s also the place where dreams come true. I think the trick is not to think about that too much. Personally, it never really crosses my mind. I do the best I can; the rest is up to fate and luck.
Lena: I’ve tried living other places and pursuing something serious in music and people don’t share the same mentality of being as business and professionally driven with their art as I have found here in LA. We are in reach of so many resources and so much talent. I feel like I am constantly inspired by people here who are doing great things. That inspiration is infectious. I came back to LA after moving around different places over a span of 2 years and I find that I am far more driven and productive in LA and forced to keep up with the pace. This is very important. It’s unforgiving. It forces you to work hard. Sink or swim. It’s also a big city with endless opportunity. I never feel like opportunity is limited. Plus we really want to reach people out in other places, and other countries. So I don’t think it really matters where you are stationed, as long as you can keep producing.
SBS: You’re playing a show in West Hollywood on July 16th – demonstrating just how much effort you’ve been putting into that live performance – what can the crowd expect to see and hear from you at the upcoming show?
Stone: This is our first show, we wanted to get out and play as soon as possible even without a band. Most of the music comes from tape, it’s a different dynamic as if a band would support us, but I’m confident that people will understand that.
Lena: We want to be able to perform as a two piece or with a full band so we are working on both. I used to play out but I always held a guitar in hand. I’ve always wanted to have a project where I just got to focus on singing. The crowd can expect the unexpected.
SBS: Overall – when you mentioned that you’ve been working on the live set – what exactly did you mean by that? What sort of things needed ironing out? As a two-person band it can certainly be a challenge to engage a crowd – what’s the battle plan?
Stone: Hopefully the music will speak for itself.
Lena: Yeah, I really would like to work on the performance aspect of our live show. Almost as if this is a play and I am acting out all the dynamics of the lyrics in the song. Like a musical. Also important to convey aspects of the era we feel so drawn to. Our modern take on the old days.
SBS: Let’s talk about some music! Ok – as far as the songwriting process is concerned – in a typical band of four there can often be too many cooks in the musical kitchen. As a band of two though – one might wonder if there are ENOUGH cooks in yours! Tell me how the songs come to life in the first place, and good lord – how do disputes in a two-person gig get settled? Mutual third parties or mutual consensus?
Stone: As i mentioned before, musically we really get each other. I sent Lena a couple of tracks and asked her to put some vocals on it without any directions whatsoever. The tracks came back to me and blew me away. She nailed my vision without even knowing what my vision was in the first place.
Lena: Originally I sent Frank a couple random new songs that I wrote acoustically and recorded on garage band. I was petrified to send songs in such a raw and vulnerable state but as fate would have it Frank totally understood my musical vision. He produced the tracks and sent me a musical version with all the instruments and I was in love with this new sound. I immediately wanted more. So I asked him if he had anything to send me and if I could take a shot at writing to them. It just all happened so naturally. Next thing you knew is we were writing new songs left and right. We started recording immediately and knew we wanted to take this where ever it may lead.
SBS: Confessions Of A Sailor’s Muse – your EP coming out soon…that WORD…SOON. It’s like an automatic trigger that sends me back to my journalistic roots…the instant and obvious question comes springing forth…HOW SOON??? Why are you keeping us waiting?
Stone: I think we wanna play a few more gigs and get people excited about us before we release anything. But all the songs are on our website in full length.
Lena: Exactly what Frank said and also we want to carefully choose our next steps.
SBS: Now – we all know that the blood, sweat and tears of a musician end up in the grooves of the vinyl – but give us an example of how you’ve put some of your personal experiences into your music.
Stone: I guess one could say that I’m a bit of an odd creature. I like to think outside of the norm, I disagree with society on so many levels. I hate putting a label on things which seems to be people’s favorite thing to do. Everything has to have a label; everything has to fit into a certain category. If not, then people get confused. There are so many wonderful, beautiful cultural influences on this planet and I love mixing them together in my music. That’s me in a nutshell, I’m a gypsy; I wanna be one with the entire planet and not only with a tiny part of it.
Lena: These songs for me are very personal. They are a collection of real experiences mixed with my imagination and alter ego. This is the first time I’ve unleashed my alter ego to the public and it’s been a really freeing experience. When writing the lyrics sometimes I felt I was making it too personal and decided to scratch the song and rewrite it with a different perspective. Other songs like “Ghost” I had heard in my mind for a while and finally channeled the emotions, with the story, and wrote it out. That’s a very personal one for me. I’m always writing about things that have deeply impacted me – whether it’s tragic or adventurous.
SBS: Confessions Of A Sailor’s Muse also seems to sound like an overall concept to me…something existing between the two of you that makes these songs cohesive and sound like they belong together on this upcoming EP – is that the case? How did this title come to represent your music for this recording?
Stone: The title is perfect for this album as it leaves so much room to dream and fantasize – the heartbreak of a sailor’s girl, the longing for the far of a sailor, the different influences from all around the world etc. We both had this vision of a sound one could hear coming out of a smokey bar in pre-war New York, Berlin or Paris filled with sailors, burlesque girls and shifty creatures of the night.
Lena: Yes, and I appreciate that you “get” it. To me, it’s representative of a time and era that I’ve always felt connected to like it’s a memorable past life and I am channeling it into the present moment. So a lot of the vocal style and content is coming from the perspective of a woman breaking free from repression & relating that with the liberation of modern day expression and the freedom to be who you want and act as you wish. It’s a whole lot of things. We were thinking one afternoon how we could sum up all the songs and put a title to best describe this story we tell. Confessions of a Sailor’s Muse summed up so many things if you really sit and ponder it.
SBS: All art is born from a need to express or communicate – is there a conscious theme at work in your writing? Why did you two feel the need to create this music and put yourselves out there?
Stone: I started writing songs when I was 12 years old. I wake up with melodies in my head and I go to bed with some more. I don’t have the intention to express myself or to communicate. I have a primal urge to create a song with what’s in my head and I do that every single day. If I don’t, I’m miserable.
Lena: There is certainly a theme, although it varies and changes. I was born a musician. Both my parents are musical. I just felt very early on that I had a natural ability to create music and grew to use it as a tool for feeling a sense of completeness. I’ve always said it’s the best remedy. No matter how down or sad I am, somehow while I’m making music I don’t feel those emotions. I feel content and ok. So I just keep doing it. As for putting it out there, well it’s just so rewarding to create something and share it with people. If I had a choice of making a lot of money from my music but no one ever hearing it, or the whole world hearing my music but making no money off of it I would humbly choose that.
SBS: Of course, by putting anything out in today’s world we become susceptible to the judgment of others. You already know that you’ve gone “against the grain” in the sound you’ve chosen by creating something that uses the elements of old styles in something that sounds new. People can also be critical of what they don’t understand! Regardless of what they say, good or bad, there’s always something to learn and gain from it – and the comments WILL be coming your way! Are you ready to hear from the people giving you feedback from all over the world? How will it help shape the music of Lena And The Stone in the future? Or will it?
Stone: Of course it feels great to get positive feedback and yes, it hurts to get negative ones. That’s the way it is when you do something that is so close to your heart and soul. At the end of the day, I have to live with myself and I could not do that if I would bend over in order to please other people. If you stay true to your heart, good things will come out of it.
Lena: At the beginning stages of where we are at, we’ve dealt with some levels of critique. Not everyone really understood the music and sound upon first impression. So I told Frank, that to me it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I loved the crap out of it, and because of that no one can change my mind or my opinion of it. So I pushed to not change anything or mold and follow my hunch that this will be a great thing. I still stand by this, and thankfully we’ve had so much positive feedback that it’s flattering and overwhelmingly awesome.
SBS: What is the most important thing you can do for your musical career during these next five years? How do the two of you define success and how will this important act play a part in getting you there?
Stone: Just keep writing, keep recording, getting everything out there and try our best.
Lena: I believe it’s really extremely important for us to continue to hone our sound and keep putting music out along with playing live and making connections to the audience. Business is a big factor in the success of a band but perseverance is imperative. We have to stick together even when we feel defeated. I believe in what we are doing and as long as we continue to believe in ourselves I think we will have a solid road ahead.
SBS: Presumably in a band of two, you bring some balance to each other. How do your personalities play off and complement each other?
Stone: Lena forces me to relax and chill out occasionally, which is great as I’m on the edge of being obsessed with what i do and that can result in missing out on some fun.
Lena: I can be spacey and flighty naturally, so Frank keeps me in check. He sets a bar but not too high so I can’t reach it but enough to keep me in the game. As a team we can’t let the other down so I know for me it pushes me to push myself! Yeah, I think our personalities play off each other a bit, but also putting our minds together has been really cool in the whole invention of what we are doing.
SBS: We’re both living on the west coast and really not TOO far away from each other. Have you had any previous experience playing in Canada or any plans to come up here?
Stone: We are already dreaming about touring this entire planet.
Lena: Never been to Canada but I’ve learned a lot about it on South Park! Ha ha. I would love to play all over Canada.
SBS: Let’s say, fictionally speaking, that a person is only allowed to choose ONE brand new band to listen to or add to their roster per year. Why choose Lena And The Stone as that one choice? How will the music stand up over time and repeated listens?
Stone: I strongly believe that the music we make is timeless. It’s not dependent on any trends or what’s hip right now. They are just beautiful melodies with lyrics people could have related to 100 years ago and still will in 100.
Lena: I couldn’t have said it better. Also It’s doesn’t really fall into one category so It’s really easy listening no matter what you like. It’s deep too; way more than just writing a good song structurally, it’s music you can really connect to on a personal level.
SBS: Right! I should mention that we’re gonna talk about this interview and your band in an upcoming episode of SBS Live This Week – which is AWESOME – looking forward to introducing you to the world this way as well! But before I forget – website-wise…where do you want people to come looking for you? What will they find there?
Stone: Our website has all the latest news about shows and music. You can also listen to every finished song we have in full length. Videos and blog will be coming soon as well. please check us out.
Lena: Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/lenaandthestone
SBS: We’ll close this interview out with one final question for you Lena And The Stone. I’m a hopeful personality. I believe in the positive and good outcome in any situation for all people. If you had one wish for MUSIC – anything at all about it – what would it be? It doesn’t necessarily have to be YOUR music, it can be a generic hope, or as specific as you like; but what would you like to see happen in music in this next decade?
Stone: Music to me is the most powerful tool we have on this planet to bring people together. I would wish that the big shots would have more awareness of that and use their power for a little more than just “Hey bitches, shake your booty on the dance floor”.
Lena: I would really like to see true songwriters being able to release music without their sound and abilities being snatched up by the big executives who change everything and make it all cookie-cutter. It’s like the music industry is being monopolized and taken over by a select few big dogs who take unique art and manufacture it into just a byproduct of formulated songs for the purposes of selling it and making them money. I miss artists like Bob Dylan who you can listen to and connect with his songs and his story telling. Nowadays you have the singer/performer but not necessarily the writer. We’re seeing somewhat of a change in this, but I would like it to make its way back around. In a way it robotizes the newer generation’s way of hearing and understanding music. You’re expected to sound radio polished and have pop hooks. People expect you to sound like an American idol and I always say, I love Bob Dylan’s charm, and how Johnny Cash used to say he wrote songs according to the best of what his abilities were. That’s what made them so special. The industry has to be very careful not to make real music go extinct.
SBS: Lastly my friends, Lena, and of course you Stone…I’d like to thank you personally for your time and efforts put into this interview. It’s always rad to be there at the beginning of something unique and special. Whether it’s a song of yours like “Ghost,” beautiful and melodic – or the atmospheric “Downtown” – I enjoyed listening to many of the aspects of the music and certainly had a great time sitting here writing this imagining what your future would look like. Seems bright to me!
This is our traditional “open floor” which allows you to say anything you like. Anything you wanted to bring up, mention, add to or shout out. Thank you again Lena And The Stone – the floor is yours.
Lena And The Stone: Thanks for letting us open up here and share our thought process with you!
We’ve got questions, you’ve got answers – be our next interview guest at sleepingbagstudios by clicking here!