[TMN Exclusive] Carousel Interview

Softly sung vocals, a keyboard, a guitar and two band members are all it took to hook us. A few month ago we came across the electro pop duo, Carousel. After listening to their overwhelmingly lovable single “Stay Awake” on repeat for weeks on end, we realized that this newly formed outfit has tremendous potential. If not for their thoughtfully crafted lyrics, harmoniously paired synths and guitars, or calming vocals, for their ability to write a pop song.

We recently caught wind that the two were going to be heading through Denver on their way to Florida. Withing a matter of minutes we jumped on the opportunity to interview these two and see what their story was. Prior to the show, we sat down over beers and talked for a few hours. From staying up too late with girls we’re crazy about, to the hectic lifestyle of living in Brooklyn, we captured a perfect snapshot of what these two are like.

The show in and of itself was really impressive. In front of a small crowd, on a terrible sound system, these two put on a truly entertaining performance. Afterwards they came down and spoke with their fans, and eventually wound up out at the bars with them (and us). After a few dill pickle shots, we spoke more. Unfortunately the recorder was off, so those conversations will stay between us and them. However, you can still press play below, and read about what they had to say before the show.

Stay Awake
Lets Go Home
Where Have You Gone
Get Up

TMN: Welcome to Denver! Is this your first time playing here?

Kevin: Appreciate the welcome. This is our first time playing here. It’s the first of 20 dates that I can think of, and we’re just kind of going straight across the country. We’re really stoked to be here and be with The Music Ninja!

TMN: You’re just starting a tour, which show are you looking most forward to?

Kevin: I’m actually looking forward most to Boston because that’s where we went to school, and we started the band there a year and a half ago. We’re going to go back and see all of our old friends. We haven’t played for them, so it will be really cool.

TMN: It’s like a little homecoming.

Kevin: Exactly! Just like that.

TMN: You guys met at the Berklee School of Music, right?

Kevin: We actually met at the summer program when we were nerdy high schoolers. We were both jazz nerds, and we went to this thing called the Berklee Five Week. It’s like band camp, and we were randomly roommates. And then we kind of kept in touch, and when it was time to go to college we were both like, “Oh, I’m going to Berklee too,” so we were just roommates.

The funny thing is we were roommates our whole time at Berklee, and we never played music together until our senior year.

TMN: You guys moved from Boston where you went to Berklee School of Music to Brooklyn. After having some experience playing in both cities, what can you say about the differences in the two?

Kevin: People out west seem to have a warmer vibe. We get more fans coming out in LA and Northern California. You know, when you play out east, the venues are awesome and the people are great, but specifically in the city and in Brooklyn there’s so many acts. It’s so saturated, that it’s hard to stick out and have people genuinely enjoy a show. Out west, people are just trying to have a good time. For me personally, I enjoy it better. It’s more laid back.

You guys pull in a collection of influences from many other genres: electronica, pop, rock among many others. What the dynamics are between the two of you when you go to make a track? Does one of you push the electronica elements more, or is everything a collective effort?

Jackson: That’s a good question. I studied more of the production stuff in school, so at first I think I was pushing a little more of the electronic, only because I was the one studying producing at the time. As we started writing music together, Kevin was just as in to the electronic music.

We kind of like the same music. It’s hard to say. What would you say?

Kevin: Jackson has a pretty deep rooted love for punk music, so I would say that a lot of the rythmic, gritty driving stuff is probably more from his end. I kind of like a lot of it and try to bring my piece when I can to mold it with him.

Jackon: I’ve been in a phase in the past year where I’ve been listening to a lot of pop music, a lot of electronic stuff like Deadmau5, T.E.E.D and all that. Recently I’ve only been listening to the Drums. Do you know that band? For some reason, that’s all I like right now. Just the Drums. It’s hard though because we’re trying to write, and all of their songs are faster. They’re not 127 dance beats, they’re all a faster tracks. So, I’ve been having trouble bringing it back to four to the floor because I’ve been listening to too much of them.

Your vocals always come across so effortless Walk us through coming up with lyrics for each song.

Kevin: Well, I won’t go fully into it because I don’t want to diverge too far from your question, but normally we’ll have our song idea or melody before the lyrics. Jackson and myself will sit down and try to come up with the concept. We’ll start shooting random ideas about that concept, different words that sort of bring it to life. We start jotting things down, and eventually we’ll come up with a song.

We’ve gone through different phases in the way we write. We definitely like a sense of symmetry or formation. Being a little bit formulaic helps us keep a little more organized and makes it easier to put good melodies with the words.

Sometimes we’ll even compromise a meaning if a word sounds better. You catch my drift with that?

Jackson: I think the laid-backness of it comes from us not really ever singing before. The first time we tried singing was when we recorded the song, “Get Up.” That was the first time we had ever really tried singing. We still don’t really know how to sing. We just kind of do it soft. We’re trying to put more energy into it, but it definitely started off really…almost whispering into the mic to make sure we hit the notes. So that’s how that started.

TMN: So, do you actively take vocal lessons?

Jackson: No. I’ve watched some YouTube videos though. I’ve been telling myself to take vocal lessons for a while, but it hasn’t happened yet. I’ll get around to it.

If you had to describe your music in 3 words, what would they be?

Kevin: Wow. This is going to be way to general, but…I would say. Driving. Happy. Dance?

Jackson: Is it all happy? Dammit. Driving. Laid-back. Dance.

TMN: You guys have a new EP coming out soon. Talk to us about that.

Jackson: We started recording it in October. We’ve released one song so far, “Stay Awake,” which is one of those more uptempo songs. We’ve recorded a good amount of songs, but then this tour kinda came up and we’re trying to figure out if we want to go back and record more music for the EP after the tour. We’re not sure if we’re quite done with the EP, but you can expect another single soon. We’ve got a bunch of stuff ready.

Kevin: Most likely the EP will drop mid to late February.

TMN: Ok, this one is a little off the wall, but it’s one we ask everyone. If your music were an animal, what would it be?

Kevin: That’s great. Love it. Um…

Jackson: Can we both do one?

TMN: You can both do one, or you can collectively decide on a single animal. We’re good either way.

Kevin: A dolphin, and I’ll tell ya why. A dolphin displays some unique characteristics. Our music, in our opinion is very well thought out and we definitely dedicate a lot of time to making it. We give it the right characteristics to make it stand out on it’s own. Dolphins are in touch with their feelings, and we’re in touch with out music. They’re also kind of like free thinking, wild in the sea, and do whatever they want. We just kind of take influences from everything and just make what we like.

Most of all, Dolphins are really happy, and they’re the only other mammal that has sex for pleasure. Not saying…well…anyways, a lot of our music is pretty upbeat and happy.

Jackson: That’s good enough, right?

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