Late last Friday, I was trolling Bandcamp—as I am wont to do—for something to tide me over for the night, when I stumbled upon the sound of this Virginia-based psychedelic folk band called We Are Trees. Once I had heard the instrumentation and vocals on album-opener “Sunrise Sunset” I realized that I had really found something. When I was asked how to describe them, all I could say was “somewhere between Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes.” While this may be an exaggeration of sorts, the band truly does sound fantastic.

The string arrangements, the dreamily psychedelic vocals, and the fantastic percussion all form together to make one of the most relaxing and polished EPs I’ve heard from an indie band in a long time. In no track is this more apparent than in “Dear Chan Marshall”—a beautiful song that captures the entire mood of the EP in a short four minutes time.

We Are Trees – Sunrise Sunset

’Sunrise Sunset’

We Are Trees – Dear Chan Marshall

’Dear Chan Marshall’

When I finished listening to the EP for the second or third time, I realized that about an hour had passed. The next logical step was to share this great find with you, our readers. But I didn’t want to simply write about the EP, I wanted to write about the band, so I decided to interview the lead singer James Nee. What follows is the interview. Enjoy.

Q: Your first EP is titled “Boyfriend.” What made you decide on this title?
A: “Boyfriend” really came at me literally at the last second. I was uploading everything to the Bandcamp and all that was left was the album name. I didn’t really think the EP had a “theme” or anything. So in my mind it [had] to be something kind of unrelated, but I like to think that I make love songs. [laughter]

I have a giant crush on the girl who was on the cover with me, but I thought “Girlfriend” would be kind of awkward and too corny. Boyfriend sounded cooler. But now that I have “Boyfriend”, I’ll probably name the next EP “Girlfriend.” [laughter]

I’m sorry if you expected a more poetic answer. [more laughter]

Q: So are you currently on tour?
A: I don’t think I’ve ever been on an actual legit tour before. I played CMJ for the first time, and I guess that was my first taste of being outside of Virginia. [laughter]

Q: Do you plan on touring in the future?
A: I really want to go on tour in the future. Hopefully [I’ll] play SXSW next year as well. I just don’t have a booking agent.

Q: What influenced you as an artist?
A: That’s a toughie. I just really love the simple things in life. I guess that’s why I’m such a big fan of minimalism and low fidelity. It reflects how something doesn’t have to be “ideal” to be beautiful or good. I’d elaborate but it’s [a] pretty long answer. [laughter]

The short answer would probably be “girls and cigarettes.”

Q: What inspired you to start performing?
A: I’ve always been captivated by the romanticism behind a band. The idea of having everyone’s attention for a period of time is pretty cool. I have some stage fright, but hopefully no one’s noticed.

Q: What was it like to be picked up by a relatively small label like Collective Crowd?
A: It was a great feeling to be picked up by anyone [laughter]. Recording “Boyfriend,” I didn’t want to accomplish anything. I just wanted people other than my friends (or the shitty local art scene of Virginia Beach) to hear it. My main goal was to just get it on vinyl. I didn’t have the money to release it myself. So I was pretty content knowing that I’d be dependent on a label. I sent the EP to a bazillion labels and no one wanted it. So when Jacob from CCR [ed. note Collective Crowd Records] actually found me instead of me finding him, I felt very appreciated.

Q: So where do you go from here?
A: I’m trying to write some new material in hopes of recording something before the year ends, but I’m hitting the worst writers block EVER. [laughter] I’ve turned down a couple shows just so I can have more focus on making more music. I really want this to be my job. So touring for realzies [sic] would be a dream come true. Hopefully that’ll happen as well.

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