Right now folk music is hot. One need only to turn on the radio or the television to hear modern folk rockers like The Lumineers or Britain's chart conquering Mumford & Sons for proof. But between all the bombastic sing along choruses and impossibly catchy hooks of the modern folk rock movement young bands like the acoustic folk rock band Seryn from Denton, Texas have found new and creative to ways to string together vocal harmonies with interesting music instrument arrangements.
I was hipped to Seryn awhile back from a friend with the Telluride Bluegrass & Rockygrass Festival(s) who caught the young band's set at the 2012 SXSW Festival in Austin, TX. He excitedly emailed me a few days later telling me I just had to check this band out. So I did. Honestly, I can say that I was hooked from the first 30 seconds of the opening track of the band's debut album This Is What We Are.
Since these young folk rockers from Texas are currently crisscrossing the USA on a club tour that came through my hometown of Denver, I was lucky enough to get connected with Seryn's Chris Semmelbeck, who graciously agreed to answer a couple of questions about the past, present, and future of this compelling young folk rock band:
Dutch Seyfarth: Between the time of the first album's release and last year's SXSW appearance, have there been any changes with the band?
Chris Semmelbeck: Not during that time really. We still had all five original members and we were still promoting our album This Is Where We Are. Since then however, we have gone through some member changes. Last September our violinist/percussionist/vocalist Chelsea Borher left the band to spend more time focused on her family. Her first child was born May of last year.
With her departure we called upon the up and coming virtuoso Leoncarlo Canlas to fill her shoes on the violin and the multi-talented Jenny Moscoso to provide female vocals. We originally just hired them to play Chelsea's parts, but as we started writing more and more new material we discovered that they are both valuable assists to our songwriting process, and just overall badasses.
DS: Your band's sound seems to rely heavily on acoustic instrumentation and background vocals used in creative new ways. How important is inventing new ways to sing and play traditional instruments?
CS: From the start we really enjoyed experimenting and trying to find interesting ways to play an instrument. I remember there were a few days while we were working on the album where we would just bow everything we could get our hands on; banjo, vibraphone, resonator guitar, bells, etc.. Some of it worked and some of it didn't, but it constantly expanded our sonic palette. How important is that process? I wouldn't say that finding new sounds in itself is important, but rather the importance should be placed on making sure that you keep the creative process fun and interesting for everyone. Finding new sounds just happens to get us really stoked about writing music.
DS: Can you describe how the band's sound has evolved from it's earlier days?
CS: Well you'll really need to wait for the next album for that! Most of the songs that we've toured are songs that mostly sprang from our early days. I can say that since we started writing for a new album we've not wanted to limit ourselves creatively. This Is Where We Are was a very folk influenced album, which makes sense because we were all in love with folk music at the time but, we wrote that album three years ago. We've all grown, our tastes have evolved, and our influences have changed.
You know, when we wrote We Will All Be Changed we weren't kidding, and I think we're all realizing that. I think the music we release next won't be exactly what people expect, but that's exciting to us. I don't want people to have it in their heads that the "Seryn sound" is just this big, folky, epic vocal sweeping sound, but the "Seryn sound" is what comes from this group of people getting together and trying to create something we're all proud of. My hope is that people can listen to our new music with an open mind and open heart, and understand that we're just trying to be honest with ourselves.
Live band photo courtesy of Seryn taken by Hal Samples
for more info on this great young band, visit their website: www.serynsound.com