I am very pleased to say that I had the opportunity to interview Stefanie Parnell and Chris See Hoye, members of Bound and Tethered. Not only did I learn a lot about this lovely duo, but some of their answers are hilarious and had be almost falling off of my chair from laughter. Trust me when I say, you do NOT want to miss this interview. Stef, Chris, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedules to answer my questions!
What inspired you to form Bound and Tethered?
Chris: Stef and I had mutual musician friends over the years. Back in fall of 2013, Stef had asked me to back her up on guitar for a wedding gig. One of the songs she wanted to play at the wedding was “From This Valley” by the Civil Wars. Once we rehearsed it, we had a special chemistry that we both knew we wanted to pursue. Not too long after, we started writing together. Around the same time, Stef was working on the release of her solo EP “Mountains Beyond Mountains” – which I was a part of when it came to the live shows. We continued writing when we had some spare time, but releasing an album wasn’t necessarily on our minds at that time since Stef had her solo project in the works. Only until recently have we had the focus and energy to give this band the push it deserves.
How did you come up with the name?
Chris: It was actually a long, arduous process coming up with a good name that we were both happy with. After months of brainstorming names that either one of us didn’t like or that were already somewhat taken, Stef suggested “Bound and Tethered,” which is the name of one of the first songs we wrote. The song itself is about how you know you’re meant to be with someone well before the other person even knows it. It’s kind of reflective of our musical partnership.
What music/which artists inspire you?
Chris: Aside from the obvious similarities and prior reference to The Civil Wars… within the country genre, I draw a lot from Allison Krauss, Dixie Chicks and Patty Griffin for their honest music and sonic aesthetic. I also love a lot of artists from blues, rock and metal, whose ideals of playing and writing are purely for self-expression, which is what I try to apply to whatever music I am making.
Stefanie: There is quite a handful of artists that inspire me. I think in terms of female artists that inspire me vocally is Joy Williams from The Civil Wars and Hayley Williams from Paramore. Both bands have also been super influential throughout my musical career as well as artists like Kacey Musgraves, City and Colour, LIGHTS, Justin Timberlake, John Mayer, Patrick Watson, Bryan Adams just to name a few…
Did you come from musical families?
Chris: I don’t have a particularly musical family. My parents aren’t musicians and I don’t have any virtuosic aunts or uncles or anything. My sister played piano on occasion. My brother started playing guitar when I was around 6 years old and I was drawn to it. He taught me the basics of reading the chords and technique.
Stefanie: I’d like to think that my grandfather, Steve was the one who planted the music seed in my brain at a very young age. Growing up, some of my favorite moments would be when I would go sleep over at my grandparents place and my grandfather would play piano as I would fall asleep. My sister also played piano at a very young age for a few years and sang in a couple of talent shows in high school. My second cousin sang and played guitar really well, my uncle was apparently a rocker back in the day and still plays guitar to this day and his daughter sings and his son plays the drums – these young kids and their talent! I also think it’s cool that my dad sung on TV when he was 5 years old. Not sure how you landed that gig dad, but you’re 10 times cooler because of it!
What instruments are used and by whom?
Chris: We both sing and play guitar. Our songs usually have one acoustic, which I’ll play. If a song requires a second guitar, Stef will play rhythm on acoustic and I’ll play electric. Stef takes on egg-shaker duties occasionally.
Stefanie: I think I’ve improved my role as an egg-shaker.
How long have each of you been playing music?
Chris: I started learning guitar when I was 6 or 7 years old. The fun thing about guitar is that you can play full pop songs and have them sound complete with guitar and voice alone, as opposed to instruments like bass or drums. So I started singing at about the same age as well.
Stefanie: I participated in a couple of plays in elementary school where I mostly sang in groups, but at the age of 12, when I started high school, that’s when I really started singing and haven’t taken a break since. In terms of pursuing music as a solo artist and basically managing myself, that happened when I graduated high school at the age of 17 and around the same time, I picked up a guitar and taught myself how to play.
Are you both part of other musical ventures at the moment? Bands, solo careers etc..
Chris: At the moment, Bound and Tethered is my main focus. Everything gets pushed aside for that. That being said, I’m always doing a few things musically at a time. I jam with someone here, songwrite with someone there. I go into the jam space by myself every so often and have a solo 1 – 2 hour drone session. I record all of the drone sessions and have been toying with the idea of releasing them at some point but haven’t yet found the time or energy to package and present it.
Stefanie: Same thing for me, there are times where I will collaborate with different artists here and there, but right now, Bound and Tethered is my main focus. I’ve sang lead and backup vocals for local artists, whether it was on record or at a live show. I was singing backup vocals in a Hip-Hop/Soul/Rock band for a few years as well. Of course, there’s my solo career that has kept me busy and happy since the age of 17, which I’ve already released two projects for. I’m sure there are a few of you who are reading this that are curious – I will never let go of my solo career, it just so happens that right now, my heart is in this project and it will be for as long as it’ll continue. I am always thinking of other ways to reinvent myself as a solo artist. That will come when the time is right.
How do you balance your music careers as part of Bound and Tethered with other responsibilities?
Chris: Limit sleeping, limit eating.
Stefanie: Fun fact about Chris… he doesn’t even like eating, so I guess it’s a plus for him!
To be honest, it really isn’t easy! I have so many responsibilities right now in my life and I am still learning on a daily basis how to balance it all and really, the tough part is, the older I get, more responsibilities will keep plowing in. I guess at the end of the day, if you’re happy doing what you love, then why not sacrifice the extra sleep, or the extra cash, or the extra time… If I don’t try now – while I’m still young (although I do already feel quite old), then I may miss out on the opportunities that come my way. The last thing I want is to look back and regret never trying.
Who writes the lyrics?
Chris: The two of us collaborate on lyrics, music, melodies, harmonies etc. Personally, the best songs I’ve ever written were songs that I’ve collaborated with someone on. And with only two of us, it makes the decision-making and song writing easier.
How long does it usually take for you to fully complete a song?
Stefanie: It varies from song to song. Each song is a little project that comes with its own challenges. We’ve written songs in a day, and we’ve let songs stew in our heads for months. For “Long Road Home,” we had the verses done for the longest time but couldn’t find the right chorus. One day when we revisited it – which happened to be the day before going into the studio to record these songs live off the floor – a pang of inspiration hit us and the rest of the song was done that day.
What is the hardest part of creating music?
Chris: With our busy adult lives, finding the time to create is the hardest part. Then once we finally do find the time, the next challenge is to set aside the stresses of life and finding the energy to create after a long day/week of work. Aside from that, coming up with a guitar part, melody and lyrics that resonates deeply with the two of us, can sometimes be a challenge, although it is rare. Once we have that song concept down pat, its smooth sailing from then on. Usually…
What do you enjoy most about being musical artists?
Chris: The joy that we get out of playing music, specifically us playing together, is indescribable. For me, it’s not something you can explain, really.
Stefanie: To create and being able to put a message out there – which in my case is normally from experience – and knowing that people can relate to the music is such a special feeling. Although, my favorite thing is getting up on stage and singing my heart out; whether it’s for 15 people or 300 people… There’s always something healing about performing.
What message do you want your music to portray?
Chris: “Kill children.” Just kidding. I ripped that off of Demetri Martin. In all seriousness, we have no agenda, no overarching message. We just try to write honest music and hope it translates to other people.
Stefanie: Definitely not what Chris just said.
I want the music to portray something real, raw and honest, which I think it already has.
What are your music goals with Bound and Tethered?
Chris: We just love playing music and writing songs that are meaningful to us. All we can ask for is to be able to write and release albums that people are interested in or psyched to listen to. There’s the whole idea of music being our only source of financial support for a decent standard of living, but our main motivation is the art and the expression.
Stefanie: What Chris said and just being able to continue to create and getting recognition for our efforts and passion. I hope that someone comes along one day and truly believes in our music and vision and decides to help us out. Meanwhile, expect more songs, more shows and hopefully being able to make some noise outside of Montreal as well!
Are you performing in any events coming up?
We have our EP launch on Friday June 19th at the Montreal Folk Festival!
How did you get involved with playing at The Montreal Folk Fest?
Stefanie: I’ve played at the Folk Festival for the past three years. I am happy to share this fourth year and new journey with my best bud, Chris!
What time are you performing and where will you be located?
Our set starts at 7:30pm sharp! The festival is located at the Esplanade de Centenaire, along the Lachine Canal (corner of St-Patrick and Pitt). We are performing on the Lhasa De Sela Stage.
Is there a cost for tickets or is it a free event?
The event is completely free and for all ages!
What is the best way to contact you?
The best was to reach us is by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re of course all over social media…
Soon to be on iTunes!
You can find all of this stuff and more on our website at http://www.boundandtethered.com.
What would you like your fans to know?
If our music can bring at least a shred of positivity and happiness to anyone’s lives, we are eternally grateful. Come to shows and keep in touch! We encourage you to send us any comments, questions, or anything else – we would love to hear from you.
What is your favorite part of living in Montreal?
Chris: Montreal is home. My family and friends are all here. Sentimentality aside, the cool bands that play around here.
Stefanie: The music, events, culture, home.
There you have it everyone! Make sure to come out on Friday the 19th! I am SO excited and I hope to see you all there. In the meantime, be sure to check out their media pages and watch their video for “Bound and Tethered” here!