Kassie and Ben of new duo My One and Only, gave us the story behind their musical journey and releasing their album “The Past Year.” Their project gives an honest look at life in their musical storytelling. The two performers have blended their own unique styles to make an outstanding collection of music. You can find their music here.
Read on for our interview…
How did you two become a duo, after working as solo artists?
We were both solo artists for quite a while. Kassie was singing “country-soul” music and I (Ben) was doing “alternative folk-rock” music. We always thought that our two genres were too hard to mash together into one idea. Even the whole industry around these two genres seemed so far apart. But throughout the years, there were people in our lives encouraging us to form a duo…just little comments here and there and advice. But we finally made the jump after meeting with a music business friend of ours who basically told us that we were working against ourselves by not forming a duo. So we made the jump to becoming a duo. At first it was really a struggle to find our rhythm in songwriting and to find our place. But we kept at it, and certain styles kept coming out that we both liked, and we held on to those. What you hear on “The Past Year” is the culmination of all that.
Give us the story behind the song “To My Rescue”
This song was one of our last songs to be written for the record. It talks about real-life situations that happened within our marriage….situations that tested our makeup, that tested our bond immensely. We are not proud of everything we’ve done in the 9 years that we’ve been married, and I know that is true of so many couples. But it’s about how you come out of that circumstance. It’s about how that situation shapes you as a person and you both as a couple. We stuck it out together through the hard times. And it’s only strengthened us. This song is meant to tell others that, just like them, we’re not picture-perfect, and we hope that encourages them to stick it out together and get past those trials, even when it means resisting those seemingly natural urges to run.
How did you come up with your unique style of music?
When we came together as a duo, we didn’t really know who we were as a group. It was almost like starting from scratch. We would ask ourselves what styles we liked, and what kind of songwriting affected us, and what kind of sounds spoke to us. And we would go from there. Trust me, there were many songs that, after writing them, went straight to the trash can. It was a real time of discovering ourselves, and judging ourselves. But we held on to certain things that we liked that came out, and then we kind of added that to our “style”. And then the process would happen again….and we would add something new to our style. And what came out is this kind of rough, acoustic, harmony-driven, passionate, purposeful thing that we call “My One And Only”. And it is all so personal to us. Not just the lyrics, but even the harmonies and the music is all so home-grown. It feels like it really just represents us as people.
What do you enjoy about Americana music?
Americana music is great for many reasons. First of all, it is like a place for all kinds of artists to gather. There are less restrictions and lines to stay inside. You can be Americana, and you can edge on country, or you can edge on rock, or you can edge on acoustic singer-songwriter. Secondly, Americana music seems to exist for the simple love of music. You don’t see a lot of Americana artists that are just in it for the money and fame (although i’m sure they are there). But it seems to be more genuine than that. They want to play music because they love what they do. Thirdly, Americana music, lyrically speaking, is a breath of fresh air. A lot of it lyrically likens back to old country. And I love how old country songwriting was not complicated (at least for the listener). You could listen to the song and follow along exactly as you were listening, and the lyrics still made you feel something deep inside. Sometimes it feels like a bit much when you have to pull out the lyrics to a song and mull it over and over before you can even begin to grab ahold of where the listener was coming from. We’re glad to be in this diverse group of Americana artists.
Did you have a musical highlight (watching a show or meeting an artist) from this previous Americana week in Nashville?
We always love getting out to see Mary Bragg, and we able to see her this last week at 12th and Porter. She and her stripped down band (upright bass, acoustic guitar and electric guitar) sounded so great! Also, at that same show we were introduced to the songs of Kristin Andreassen. She is also an amazing songwriter that edges on bluegrass and folk (and she also clogged for us!) Events like Americana fest are so great to connect people and introduce you to new artists. Love it.
Talk about working with Andrija Tokic, with the music- how did you guys meet him?
I was familiar with Andrija Tokic from the Alabama Shakes record that he produced. I always loved that sound. That analog, reckless sound that felt so good. So when we were playing around with the idea of recording as a duo, we were thinking of producers and I emailed Andrija. He responded with interest in working with us and he loved our sound (he is a sucker for harmonies). It was a real experience to work with him in the studio. He is so full of energy and excitement, and it comes through in the project. Anything that comes out of his studio (Bomb Shelter Studio in Nashville, TN) has to feel good. You have to sway to it. The music almost has to move you physically every time. Andrija brought life to our record. One thing that I was concerned with about our songs is that I didn’t want them to feel ho-hum. All we’d ever heard was acoustic versions of our songs! But Andrija made them come to life. He injected his excitement for real recorded music into the album. There was no Pro Tools during the recording. What you play is what is recorded onto the analog machine. And that’s what gives it that true-to-life feel, which really sets the listener up for the true-to-life lyrics on the record. Andrija was amazing, and he really helped shape our sound in a profound way.
What songs from the new project have been connecting with your fans?
The last song on the record is “O Lord, I Need Some Mercy” and it is about the struggle of addiction. The song is from the viewpoint of an addict…the rock bottom, the helplessness, and the reaching out. We’ve experienced addiction in family members to a very serious degree, and this song sheds light on the mercy and hope that God is waiting to extend to us, if we only allowed it. God has changed the hearts of many of our family members, and it’s amazing to witness. Even in situations that seemed hopeless for years and decades, God was still working during the waiting. He is faithful for sure. We’ve had a family member who was a serious addict for decades, and went through a Christian drug rehab organization called Adult and Teen Challenge, which are all over the world. He went through the program and now works as the head of operations there. What a change God has worked in him! He is now helping others who are in the situation he was in. We hope the song on this record reaches out to anyone who hasn’t yet found what they’re looking for.
Give us the story behind the song Mom & Dad
When I turned about 30 years old, I started to feel more sentimental about my parents. Started to think of them more often and wonder how they really were. Started to remember seeing them at the age that I am now. What a weird feeling! And there are just so many memories that Kassie and I hold inside of us concerning our parents that we almost wish we could go back and take better advantage of the situation! It was all of this that started the song “Mom and Dad”. For people our age, it is a song of reminiscing and a song of sentiment. In the song, there are some memories from Kassie and her late father, Marshall, who “played guitar by the fire” and her mother and also memories from me and my parents. Whenever we sing the song, it is always so special to us. It feels like home to us and reminds us to be in the present moment.
What’s next for you this Fall?
We will be touring and promoting “The Past Year” all sorts of places. In the next few months, we hit up Chicago, St. Louis, Iowa, North Carolina, Atlanta and some other places. Lots of these places will be listening rooms where we can share all sorts of stories and meanings behind the songs. Some of them are house concerts, which are always such cool intimate experiences. Whenever we perform live, we want the listener to feel like they are a part of our lives and our stories. We want them to be a part of the experience. It feels like more than just music for us. It feels more like sharing life with people. You can always check out new tour dates on www.myoneandonlymusic.com. We will be adding all sorts of dates for this fall and upcoming 2019.