DJ Simon Jefferson sat down for a over-the-phone interview with Michigan's own, The Accidentals.
Growing up, what was your experience with music? When did you first drift towards the arts?
Katie and I had pretty different experiences growing up with music. My parents met in Nashville. My mom was an r&b singer and my dad was a session piano player for the Grande Ole Opry.
They got married and had me. I kind of grew up in a folk, bluegrass and kind of improvisational jazz.
I learned violin at 11 I was in our public school program, then eventually I met Katie and my whole view on music changed entirely. A total 180.
I grew up in a musical family as well. My dad is a professional classical piano player, he works at an arts school called Interlochen Academy.
Oh yeah, I know of Interlochen.
Yeah! So he does like, composition, and jazz and classical. My mom grew up singing musicals and studying jazz voice and classical voice in college.
When I was in the public school system, I decided to pick up cello. I pursued that, so I took private lessons, played some cello solos and played in orchestra and quartets.
When I was a freshman in high school, I decided I wanted to join our school's jazz band, so on the side I picked up guitar.
I was very shy, and I was writing songs in my room, was not comfortable improvising at all, I was very comfortable reading music off of a page in jazz band and orchestra, and then I met Savannah when I was a sophomore, and we both volunteered for a school assignment to play alternative music for an after school program.
When we tried playing together, she was like, knew how to pick up subtle tunes by ear, and we opened up for her family's band, at this show, called the Tree Huggers, before we were the accidentals. It was kind of like a whole new, sort of, experience.
Yeah, and I remember you talking about that story at the concert. You were doing a quick intro, talking about that time, and especially Interlochen. Growing up I went to a Michigan school as well, and there were always the Interlochen people coming around, trying to get kids to apply and go. It was never a place that I got a chance to go to, Interlochen or the alternative, Blue Lake, and I always wanted to. It was one of those experiences that I wish I would've been able to broaden my horizons in the musicians that I interacted with. I was kind of just kept to my small town.
We're also really lucky, our public program at Traverse City West, our orchestra conductor was really encouraging, in terms of alternative styles, and our school like had electric violin, cello, viola and our music scene in Traverse City is also really encouraging for young musicians. Sav and I would jam with all the local bands playing like, folk music or singer-songwriter music and that was really helpful to get our feet wet.
I still stand by the statement, my favorite thing I've seen you perform was "Taxman" by the Beatles. I was just sitting there listening to the tunes, like cool, cool. And I think a lot of people would talk about your guy's "Tom Sawyer" cover, 'cause that too is very a high feat to be like "We're gonna cover a Rush song!" And both times you bring your own flavor to the song but also nail the cover really well.
It was started as a dare. We were dared to cover it by Keller Williams...
Yeah we were touring with them and, he's actually on our new album, Odyssey. We're good friends with him and we just got off the road playing shows as part of his back up band. But before any of that happened we were touring with his band, KWahtro and he had the drummer Rodney Holmes with him at the time, who was on Santana's record, really renowned drummer. And at the time Michael and I were kind of playing a take on"Tom Sawyer" but we didn't really know the whole song we were just kind of messing around with it. And Rodney heard us, and he came running out and he was like "Keep going!" and he jumped on his trumpet and starting playing with us, but we didn't know the whole song, So he got really upset when he found out we didn't know it. and he was like "You guys better have that worked out next time I see you." So later we went back and worked it out and now we've been playing it ever since thanks to Rodney Holmes.
Me and my band like to clean up "Free Bird" every once in a while just in case, just to keep it in the back pocket. So, if that one guy goes "free bird!" he goes you don't even know what you just asked for man.
So, it's always a good thing to keep those in the back pocket, you know if you look at Odyssey or some of your earlier work, and you look at " Taxman " and "Tom Sawyer," They're polar opposite of each other, but that's the cool thing about music. you guys are able to bridge that gap. And you guys are just like nope that's the Accidentals playing " Tom Sawyer, just the Accidentals playing "Taxman" it's awesome , its awesome.
Talking about new music, you know, Odyssey...First let's talk about the realization that this album is going to be a little bit different than the stuff we were doing previously. Like, "we have a little bit of support on the back end of the music industry, what are we gonna do now?"
Yeah, Odyssey is kind of about like, moving forward. We were in a production deal for a time we actually were stuck the decision between taking a production deal or going to college and it was like a 24 hr decision. Katie had gotten a Presidential scholarship for the Berklee College of Music at the same time we were offered the production deal and we couldn't defer it. So, we only had 24 hours to figure out if we were going to learn to be professional musicians or just be professional musicians.
Oh man that's so great.
yeah it was crazy
yeah and there was lot's of pressure, because we're generally anxious people but we ended up taking the production deal we learned a lot, wrote a lot of songs, but nothing ever really ever came of the recording. The contract became renegotiable and we ended up moving forward and putting out our own music and that's what garnered attraction and interest from Sony Masterworks that's who we signed with in December. We ended up putting out this album about moving forward and being a band and all the craziness that comes, but also the lessons that come from the light slip ups down the road. um and really, I think part of that is being present and um being part of the process. so that's where a-lot of the songs from " Odyessy", and there will be a lot off that at the show.
Wonderful, wonderful yeah.
I like how you talk about being present that is such a big thing, not just in travelling on the road with your band, but with everything in li