Jack and White

4 Mar

“Being free from labels and contracts allows us to write/record/release whenever we want.

Duo, Brooke White and Jack Matranga, are not only excellent at writing together, they have amazing chemistry and when they are in the studio creating, what comes out is pure magic. So far, they’ve released two EP’s, Gemini and Winter, and have been climbing the ladder of success. You may recognize Brooke from a past season of American Idol, but since then, she has moved onto what I believe is bigger and better things. The duo creates music that is bold and unique and the melodies are all around fantastic. Brooke and Jack took some time out to answer some questions put together by Sounds That Matter favorite and fellow artist, Mike Vial.

Q. When reading your biography on Facebook, your pairing at first might seem unexpected; but then hearing your new EP Gemini, your final product sounds like a comfortable meshing of your styles. What is something that arises from working together that wouldn’t happen if you were only working as solo artists or in other groups?

A. Brooke: Jack and I have incredible writing chemistry. For us, it’s been really easy to sit down and write a song and that’s not always the case. I was doing the solo thing for a while and would write with a ton of different people, mostly people who wrote songs for a living. But for whatever reason, when Jack and I get in a room together our creative juices get flowing like I’ve never had before. It’s been a really enjoyable experience.

Jack: The many different types of harmonies used on the Gemini EP are quite grabbing!

Q. What influences bring out this approach to blending different harmony styles, like octave blends, thirds, and counter melodies?

A. Jack: Brooke is the harmony master here. She’s got the magic ear for melody and harmony and can instantly come up with cool stuff. Both of us have the same taste in harmonies and chord progressions so when it comes to picking the right accompaniments, it’s rather easy for us. Of course the Beatles have some of the coolest harmonies of all time…but we’re also very influenced by Motown and early rock and roll groups like the Temptations and The Everly Brothers. I think these days there are a bunch of new bands that also appreciate good harmonies…Band of Horses comes to mind immediately as one of the best modern groups that use harmonies all over the place.

Q. Your group has embraced the new tools of the music trade, ala Bandcamp, Twitter accounts, Facebook. Brooke, I also noticed a post on Twitter where you reference how things were old school during your season on American Idol and Twitter wasn’t allowed. How do you two embrace the new tools as artists? Is it hard to balance time between songwriting, performing and social networking for you two?

A. Brooke: It is really tough. I think all artists would love to just focus on their craft, but social networking is so important especially as an indie artist. You have to really put time into being active on all of the many sites, it’s almost a full time job in itself. I love being on twitter and interacting with fans and friends, but sometimes its hard to keep up with all of the sites!

Q. Brooke, Bob Leftsez often writes in his Lefsetz Letter blog about how TV appearances can’t jump start a career or help in the long term, however your musical journey appears to refute his premise. Do you agree or disagree with the opinionated blogger?

A. Brooke: I read Bob Lefsetz all the time! I love how he says it like it is and sometimes I agree and sometimes I don’t. I think TV is a really powerful tool in the marketing of an artist. I always compare American Idol to climbing Mount Everest. The show takes you to the top of the mountain in a helicopter, you get to hang out and look around for a while and then after the show you come back down to base camp and start your climb back up to the top. Granted, you’re still at base camp, which is higher than most artists starting out, but after the show you have a ton of work to do to get back to the top. Being on a television show obviously isn’t a surefire way to the top, but it can definitely help get you started.

Q. Jack, I enjoy how the electric guitar dances between both, left and right sides of the headphones for “Inside Outside”!  Sorry for the nerdy guitar gear question, but are you willing to share how you are achieving that lush electric guitar tone on “Inside Outside”?

A. Jack: In a recording, I love messing with the left and right sides…having different instruments appear in your left speaker, then dancing over to the right side. The guitar sounds from the Gemini EP are mostly from my semi-hollow telecaster through my orange ad30. I’ve used this combo for the past 4-5 years and it never lets me down!

Q. Brooke, I noticed from Wikipedia that you are a Gemini. What characteristics does the Gemini EP (and the song sharing the same name) illuminate most about you?

A. Brooke: It’s funny because neither Jack nor I are really THAT into astrology, but the first time he came over to my house to write, which was basically the first time we met, I just had a feeling he was a Gemini like me. Gemini is often associated with duality, opposites, ying and yang, etc… and I think that really sums up Jack and I. We come from very different backgrounds and in many ways are very different. Yet when together we’re like the same person, we work really well together and are very like minded. Aside from actually being Gemini’s, the project itself reflected characteristics of Gemini as well.

Q. Jack, I noticed the phrase, “a labor of love” is used to describe your process songwriting with both Self Against City – http://blogcritics.org/music/article/interview-band-of-the-week-self/ and Jack and White. How do you keep your fiery passion for music burning? Is it difficult at times to stay passionate about music when there is “music business” involved too?

A. Jack: Its definitely tricky, but these days it’s rather simple to separate the music from the business. Having a good manager helps in that, but what also helps is just realizing that the music business in general has done a pretty rancid job in the past 5-7 years at finding and marketing good music. Knowing that major record labels and concert promoters are now multiple steps behind what is current and happening makes it much easier to disassociate with that part of being a musician. What is most incredible about keeping the passion and inspiration is knowing that we can write a song one day and spread it out into the world the next day. Being free from labels and contracts allows us to write/record/release whenever we want.

Q. What’s next for you two? Will you embrace recording a full album release, or do you feel that releasing smaller works like EPs and singles is the way to go in the new digital age?

A. Brooke: We’re releasing a brand new EP on January 24th! It’s called Winter and we’re really excited for everyone to hear it. We like the idea of writing music and releasing it. We literally finished mixing and mastering the new EP on January 13th and we’re able to release it on January 24th. We’re fortunate enough to have the capabilities of writing and recording the music ourselves so we might as well get it out to everyone as quickly as possible! I think we both really want to make an entire full length record though, so that’s definitely on the to-do list.

Q. Okay, a little fun with one of your lyrics: If you were in “trouble,” what would be the best way to “move on the double” to escape?

A. Brooke: Hop in a vintage Fiat of course! http://youtu.be/gk8P1oIBfWU

Q. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring one of your songs to listen to, which would it be and why?

A. Jack: Depends on the situation…if I were content on being stranded on this island, I’d probably choose this new song we’ve just recorded called ‘Voices,’ because it’s very relaxing to me and I could just enjoy being stranded. If I was trying to escape this island, I would probably choose ‘Double Trouble’ as to remind me that it was time to get in gear and get on the move.

Here is “Night After Night” from their newest EP, Winter.

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