Welcome to The Wise Guise interview with Nashville, TN duo, Elenowen! I’m thrilled that they were gracious enough to join us and can’t encourage you enough to purchase their new self-titled EP and if you’re in Nashville join them for their album release show at Third & Lindsley on Saturday night at 9pm! Part two of the interview will come in a couple weeks before their show at Minglewood Hall in Memphis, TN.
Q. With the success of country and roots groups like the Civil Wars, Sugarland, Lady Antebellum, etc., why do you think people are becoming more drawn to male/female combo leads versus a traditional lead singer and band format?
A: Multiple voices keep the listening experience interesting and allow the audience to be more widespread. For example, some people might prefer a male lead vocal over a female lead vocal or vice versa, but having both voices on a song pleases everybody. Also, 99% of the time a melody just sounds better with a harmony above or underneath it.
Q. What advantages does being married have compared to the aforementioned groups that have the male/female combo but no romantic connection?
A: It’s hard to say for all married couples, but for us, the biggest advantage is that we can be completely honest and vulnerable in the writing and performing processes. We can’t imagine singing passionate love songs to anyone other than each other because it all stems from our relationship.
Q. Do you find it harder to give constructive criticism to your partner because he/she is your spouse?
A: Sometimes, yes. We want to critique each other in order to be the best artists we can be, but at the same time we also need to support and encourage each other regardless of the circumstances. We have to always be conscience of balancing our business relationship with our personal relationship.
Q. As previous contestants on NBC’s The Voice, do you feel like the reality show singing competition market is becoming oversaturated or do you think that it is still a valuable option for singers to gain visibility?
A: The market is over saturated, but it’s definitely still one of the greatest ways to gain exposure. The challenge, however, is to not let how you’re portrayed on TV trump who you really are as artists.
Q. What was the biggest thing you learned from your experience on The Voice?
A: We learned a lot in a very short amount of time about how the TV world works – especially the motto of “hurry up and wait.” The biggest thing we gained is how to handle ourselves in high pressure situations – from performing in front of millions of people to answering loaded questions in a clear and concise way.
Q. Cliché question, but who do you two consider as your primary influences?
A: The reason we decided to become a duo was because of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ record Raising Sand. Our early influences include Dave Matthews, Fleetwood Mac, Patty Griffin. More recent influences: Ryan Adams, Neil Young, Coldplay.
Q. If there were one thing you would want your audiences to take away from your shows, what would you want it to be?
A: We strive to be honest and vulnerable in everything we do and hope people truly feel a connection to whatever emotion each song conveys.
Q. What is your dream venue to play? No limits here. Madison Square Garden to a packed house? The Ryman? Red Rocks?
A: Tennessee Theater, Ryman, and eventually Madison Square Garden.
Q. What was the first CD you ever bought? First live concert attended? First song you ever learned to play?
A: I remember listening to Amy Grant’s Heart In Motion all the time. Nicole was a huge Celine Dion fan as well.
Q. What would you say was the turning point that made you decide to go all-in toward pursuing music as a career? What did the conversation look like with your parents when you told them?
A: We had both pursued solo music careers prior to getting married. We knew it wouldn’t be the best decision to continue pursuing individual careers, so we took a shot in the dark and tried it out as a duo. Our parents were definitely hesitant at first, especially since it was an idea we pulled out of the air and had nothing to back it up with.
Q. How would you describe your music and your live show to people who have never heard of you guys?
A: Our music is harmony driven folk rock with pop sensibility – meaning we like to keep our sound simple and organic, but also catchy and moving. If you want to keep it really simple – it’s singer/songwriter. We’ve also been told before we are a more commercially accessible Civil Wars.
Sometimes our shows consist of an acoustic trio (with keys, or cello, or electric guitar), sometimes we play full band, but we always try to capture a wide variety of genres that most people can relate to.