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discover: Courtney Swain

By Anthony Garone

Bent Knee's singer/keyboardist is a force of nature.

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Courtney Swain is the singer from the up-and-coming experimental/prog rock band, Bent Knee . You might recall Bent Knee from our interview with their guitarist, Ben Levin.

Check out Courtney’s website! 

Interview video

Here’s a video of our interview with Courtney Swain of Bent Knee:

Interview Audio (Podcast)

(NOTE: hitting the “play” button requires a hefty download of the entire audio file!).

Or, download an mp3 .

Thank You

Special thanks to Casey Wiliams, Residents enthusiast based in Kansas City, for her help in transcribing this interview.

Interview Transcript

AG: Hi, this is Anthony with MakeWeirdMusic.com and I have Courtney Swain  with me, all the way from Rhode Island. Courtney, thank you for joining us today.

CS: Hey Anthony, hello!

AG: I’d like for our audience to get to know who you are and a bit about your musical background, so would you mind introducing yourself and then telling us about some of the projects with which you’ve been associated?

CS: Sure. My name’s Courtney Swain, I live in Rhode Island right now and my main lead project is I do lead vocals and keyboards for Bent Knee  which is a Boston-based sort of art rock/experimental rock band. I also perform in Ben Levin Group . Ben Levin was on Make Weird Music recently. He’s a wonderful guitarist and he also plays guitar in Bent Knee.

I also have a solo project that I have mainly been pursuing as a RPM Challenge  kind of capacity, where I go and record all my ideas in one month, sort of as a challenge to myself to just put it out there without judging and see what happens. So those are my main things.

AG: And you sing and play keyboards. Anything else?

CS: No. I wish I played a guitar or something, but I don’t.

AG: And how did you meet Ben?

CS: I was at Berklee College of Music  in Boston at the same time that Ben was. Berklee has really changed over the last five or six years, they have a bunch of new buildings and a nice new cafeteria full of sunlight now but before, it used to be in this basement 2 floors below ground level. No one got service and it was really dank and everyone would just go there and talk to each other and it was sort of like a forced “meet people” - well, it wasn’t forced. Anyways, that’s where we met. Ben was a year ahead of me and his roommate was Vince [Welch] who is the producer of our bands and he kind of had a huge community of people and our group of bands sort of grew out of that.

AG: That’s cool. I know Ben’s in like, 20 bands or something, and I know you’re in several of them. Which acts are you in besides Bent Knee and Ben Levin Group?

CS: Those are the only two right now, actually.

AG: Oh, really?!

CS: Yeah. I used to be in our drummer’s group, Mr Gavin’s Meat Farm , and I also, for a hot second, was in our bassist’s group, Justice Cow , but I’m very impatient and I can be sort of a bitch to work with and I sort of had to leave. This was four or five years ago and I don’t think there’s any bad blood.

AG: And you guys have been doing a lot of touring. You just toured Europe, you’ve done a bunch of U.S. shows. Can you tell us about your new album and what you’re promoting on the tour?

CS: Yep. We released our third full-length record from Cuneiform Records  in May, that was our first album that came out through them. The album’s called Say So  and we were touring from the first weekend of May until the last weekend of September. We ended up playing, like, fifty-three shows across six countries and it was a lot of fun. We played about fifty shows last summer too, but that really was an arduous experience because we didn’t take any breaks, we never went back. There were times where we stopped on the road and we didn’t have shows for three days and it was a vacation.

But, I think, when you spend that much time with people in such close quarters, you really just need time away from them so when we got back last year it was just like “ahh…” But this year we took breaks and we paced it much better so we did three separate tours instead of one huge tour. So it went much better. Bent Knee’s been doing really well. There’s been a lot of great things happening to the band and so it’s really exciting to go out and actually see people at our shows because it was not that long ago when we we were playing to like, three people - we still loved it but it’s even better when there’s like thirty people.

AG: Yeah. The new album is just amazing. I was listening to most of it yesterday while driving around and my wife has heard some of it and she’s the biggest critic of the music that I listen to but one the thing that has stood out is your vocal capabilities. She’s a singer, too and she’s like “The singer of Bent Knee is such a great singer.” Can you tell us about your background and formation as a singer and piano player?

CS: Sure! I was a piano player for way longer than I was a singer. I started playing piano when I was in kindergarten, when I was four or five, and I studied classical all the way up to middle high school. And I used to practice an hour a day, not because I liked to but because my parents were very patient and made me do it. I sort of started singing–I grew up in Japan and when you’re in high school in Japan the two big social things you do is you go bowling and then you go to karaoke. I don’t know if that’s the same here, but–

AG: No, it’s not.

CS: That was a thing to do and so I started going to karaoke a lot and I really loved singing, and I felt like it was something where people were very encouraging and they were like “Yeah, this is something you can do!” and my brother had gone to–he’s six years older than me, he’d gone to an ivy league school and the experience was a lot to for him to deal with, and I was just thinking about going to a liberal arts school, too, but I was sort of got worried that I was going to be crushed by the academics, and it was just sort of like “Well, I’m only going to get one chance to go to college so I want to go to music school,” randomly because my mom suggested it.

So I applied to Berklee after the audition cutoff for Tokyo. I emailed them and I was like “Hey, I know this is too late, like you’re coming to Tokyo in three weeks, will you let me audition?” and they were like “Yeah, whatever, sure.” So I went to Tokyo and I auditioned with singing to which all my relatives were like “What are you talking about? We went to all your stupid classical piano recitals for fifteen years and you’re not going to use any of those skills?” but I accompanied myself and I’m pretty sure I got into Berklee because I could play piano, I don’t think it was my singing that got me in.

And then, I got to Berklee and my first class, they were counting off, they were like “Alright, we’re gonna play this song.” and I didn’t know this was two and four. So I was like “Why do I keep coming in a beat before everyone else?” I’d be like [way off] and I was like “I don’t know anything!” and so it was like a real awakening for me because my parents didn’t listen to jazz or anything besides like Led Zeppelin , and Cream , and Creedence Clearwater Revival  or Mozart  and Bach  and Beethoven .

So, I was learning all this and I was trying to sing and learn to sing better and it was sort of a real downer. I just kinda got really depressed at my ability to sing because I just had had no formal instruction. The only thing I had going for myself was that I had good pitch so I could sing everything in tune but my tone was not very good. I was not doing it in a healthy way and also I think Berklee’s voice department tends to gravitate towards supporting people who have a big R&B, kind of pop diva kind of voice and I really don’t have that yet. I also wasn’t really interested in having that type of tone.

So I ended up just sort of feeling like an outcast but a large part of my development as a singer really came from working with Ben in a way because the reason Ben and I started collaborating was he wanted to do an improvised choir, sort of like what Bobby McFerrin  was doing, essentially, with his singers. But Ben wanted to do with his guitar and a group of singers so he would be like, “Let’s sing in the color of blue.” And I was there with a couple of my friends and I was like “This guy is cool!” Like, I get it, you know?

And I felt like no one else did so I told him “Dude, you know, we should pursue this connection.” And then we started writing and in that process when we started recording I started sitting down with myself in a practice room with a microphone and I would record and then listen back and be like “No, this is not right, this is not right.” So I would just keep doing it until I thought it sounded exactly the way that I wanted it to. And I think that’s the real way that I learned how to sing and to really develop my style was through this feedback loop of need and what I wanted to sound like.

AG: That’s great. And do you have other responsibilities in the band than just performing? Do you help write the songs?

CS: Yeah! We all write together. Even the lyrics. So, someone will bring in a seed of a song and then we’ll pull it apart and re-expand it into like, this thing. And things come in at different degrees of doneness, so sometimes it will be an entire song with all verses, sometimes it’ll just be an idea, sometimes it will be a song with one verse. But there’s three that mostly contribute the songs. That’s Ben, our bass player Jessica, and myself.

So, I try to write and bring in some stuff that will be good for the band. I also do a lot of e-mailing. The violin player Chris and I have been doing a lot of the admin side work which luckily, now that the band is gaining an audience is being offset a little bit with some outside help, which is great.

AG: Absolutely. Can you tell us about how much growth you’ve seen with this new album? I’m seeing it pop up all over Facebook and Twitter. I know I follow you guys, but it seems like you’re getting lots of rave reviews. Can you tell us where you were before this album and what do you think happened as a result of it and why?

CS: Yeah, that’s a great question. I would actually take a step back further to talk about why this album happened, in a way, if that’s okay?

AG: Go for it.

CS: I think, when we put out Shiny Eyed Babies  on November 11th in 2014, we were invited to do Converse Rubber Track  sessions at Q Division  in Somerville, Massachussetts and so we recorded a version of Leak Water. There’s a version on Say So, which is the newer one but this was the first song that we had already finished off the new album back in 2014. So we tracked that and then we had this big meeting.

Shiny Eyed Babies was the first time we got a real press hit. We were actually gonna release it in July but The Needle Drop , Anthony Fantano, featured it and then we got this explosion of attention and we were like “Oh, this is what it means to get a press hit.” And so we were like, “Okay, let’s push the release back 4 months to see if we can get a PR company and get more buzz.” And through the experience we sort of learned what it means to have a release timeline and to work with a publicist.

So when we sat down on November 11th, we were like “This is good, Shiny Eyed Babies, great album, okay. What are we gonna do next?” And we laid out this timeline of when we wanted to have the music and what we wanted to accompany the release like music videos and a PR agency or a label, all this stuff. So it was very much kind of a planned, deadlined focus production as opposed to Shiny Eyed Babies which took like, 2 or 3 years because we were learning to write with each other and there was no deadline. It was just like, it will be done when it will be done.

So we wrote really, really hard in the beginning of 2015. Vince and I were commuting up from Providence to Boston to rehearse and you know, we would be in Boston like 2 or 3 nights a week. Winter is exhausting in New England, too, just because there’s so little daylight and it just gets really dank and it was really hard to finish the album but we did and then we played 50 shows of that album, just trying it out in front of audiences to see if it works. And after we got really good at playing it, we went in and recorded it right after we got off of tour and we were so good at playing the songs that it took us one day to finish basics.

So we got in the studio and they set up until like 11 or noon or 1, we got all the sounds. And by nine or ten we were done tracking all 10 songs. It was pretty crazy. And right around that time, this guy called Anil Prasad  who has a great online music blog called Innerviews , you probably know about it. But he found out about us and posted about us and people started hearing about us and Anil was like, “Why isn’t more stuff happening for you?” And he connected the dots so that we were able to work with Cuneiform Records.

Cuneiform has been around for about 2 decades, maybe more. I forget. And they have a really close following of people who are really interested in what they do. They’re not a big label but they’re a really honest label that is really built on relationships. So when we got signed to Cuneiform, even before we were anywhere close to releasing the album, we started seeing more people at our shows. People were just interested just because Cuneiform was interested. And for that I am really eternally grateful to Cuneiform because they were the first real big tastemakers that said, “Check this out, this is a band that people should be listening to.”

So the baseline of how many people we see per show just went up wherever we went, even if we played a new place. And we’ve been playing our music really hard and we play a lot so one thing that we can always rely on is that we always play our music really well when we play live. And I think it’s served us well because those new people who came to see us because of Cuneiform were, I think, always really blown away by our performances. We have this running joke in the band that everyone’s always really nice to us after we play because we are a really weird bunch of people and sometimes people have a bad day or something, but after we play, they’re like, “Hey, we like you guys!”

With Cuneiform, the kind of baseline of people coming to our shows went up and we were also able to secure Girlie Action , which is a New York-based PR company that worked with us. They helped us put out our music videos and live videos to more people so that there was a bigger audience waiting for that stuff as it was being rolled out. I guess a big lesson we learned during Shiny Eyed Babies is that news and press really don’t care about an album once it’s out. They want to be the first people to know about it, so they want to do premieres, they want to premiere videos, but once your album is out, they just don’t want to touch it. They’re like, “It’s out. Anyone can listen to it. No big deal.”

But with Girlie Action, they have a lot of firepower and the biggest thing they got us was the Wall Street Journal feature . We had a writeup in the Wall Street Journal and this was huge. It’s actually still huge as we are working with more people and as we are working towards our next album. I guess Jim Fusilli, the writer who did the article, is this guy who’s really well respected as a writer and a lot of people try to get him to “write this, please!” and he doesn’t. So people sort of turned heads at the fact that he wrote this piece on us. Again that was one of those things that kind of bumped our baseline of how many people are showing up to shows.

The biggest thing that happened recently on the heels of Say So and after all the touring was that we got an opening slot for Dillinger Escape Plan ’s final tour. And that really bumped it to the next level. We’ve been seeing people from a different demographic, too, because this whole year we’ve sort of been receiving a lot of love from the prog community. They’re so wonderful and it’s funny because every time we play a show, there’s always this one older person in the back and they all joke like, “Yeah, I’m the old guy in the back.” They’re so easy to spot and they’re so kind to us, but we, being young, never thought of ourselves as “prog.”

It’s kind of a concern where we thought, “Are we going to get stuck in prog?” Then the Dillinger thing happened and it was perfect timing. So we’re seeing a lot of younger people. It’s interesting now going onto the Facebook page of Bent Knee. It’s a different experience because I have no idea who the people are that are talking about us. It’s not just our friends and our moms and dads and uncles and aunts. It’s actual people I don’t know.

AG: Fans.

CS: Yeah yeah! They sort of treat us as such, too. When we put something out, they’re like, “Oh shit! New Bent Knee!” It’s really exciting that that’s happening. Yeah, so that’s sort of how it feels on this end.

AG: So tell me a little about how growing up in Japan has influenced your songwriting and your musicianship and what that brought to your Berklee experience.

CS: Yeah, really interesting question. I think it’s hard to say what it really is because I don’t have the experience of not growing up in Japan. I don’t know what it would be like if I had not gone through that. I think it’s made things a lot more complicated, for better or for worse. When I listen to the first Bent Knee album–I’ve spoken English all my life. I was double schooled, so I went to Japanese public schools, but my dad was also home schooling me in English. So, it’s my second language and I speak it fluently, but it’s not quite native. When I first came to college, people were like, “What’s your accent?” And I never realized that I had an accent, so I was really wigged out by that question.

Now, when I go back and listen to the first album, I sort of understand what people were talking about. I don’t finish my words. I don’t know if that makes sense, but when you listen to it, the vowels sort of drag on, but the consonants don’t come at the end at the right time. I think that’s because in Japanese, consonants get placed in a different place. When I went to Japan in February–my hearing is fine, I’m a musician but I have fine hearing, but I kept missing my friend’s words. I kept saying, “What’d you say? What’d you say?” I wasn’t hearing them. I just wasn’t used to listening to where their consonants were that I wasn’t focused on hearing those things.

I had a real identity crisis growing up in Japan because there’s just no one who looks caucasian in my town. My dad, my brother, myself… And I knew maybe 5 or 6 other people who weren’t Japanese. But, I heavily identify as being Japanese inside. I’m really interested in Japanese history and I’m really interested in Japanese mannerisms and colloquialisms and sort of wit and humor. So, it was a real struggle feeling rejected from a culture that I felt like I’d really earned and I really identified with.

When I came to college, especially in collaborating so closely with other people, I really quickly learned that Japanese communication is not a very good communication style to have when you want to work within the arts and be really honest and forthcoming and brutal and also emotional with other people. There is an episode of This American Life  where they were talking in this phone booth in Northern Japan  where the tsunami hit and it’s not connected to anything. People just go there and talk to the deceased or the lost just to talk about it and in that piece, they did a really great job articulating how–I’ve never told my mom or my aunts that I love them. It’s just not something that you say.

I don’t think I ever hugged my grandma. It doesn’t mean I didn’t love her or have an understanding that we were both there together, but that sounds really absurd to an American. It’s like, “WHAT? You never hugged your grandma?!” It’s that kind of disconnect where something I thought was so normal that I didn’t even think about or realize is just so far removed from what the social norm is in terms of communicating with people in the US. So, I really had to re-learn how to express myself at all. For a long time, I felt like I never had an opinion and I just was going with whatever everyone else’s opinion was. It’s a very Japanese groupthink kind of thing. Whatever is the predominant opinion, we’ll go with that. Bow and smile.

I think that was the biggest thing for me in college and in music, just learning to communicate in a different culture. It’s the most difficult thing. It’s been difficult, but at the same time, it’s really helped the group establish ground rules and a deeper understanding for how we communicate with each other. And also the openness and honesty to be able to call each other out and to excel in being better friends and better people. Or at least that’s how I like to think about it.

AG: You said you didn’t have a whole lot of musical variety growing up, but Bent Knee is such a musically diverse band. I would imagine when you got to Berklee, you were exposed to all sorts of genres and bands and even instruments that you might not have had growing up the way you did. Has that been kind of a musical awakening or do you feel like you’re pretty firmly set in the roots you established in Japan and that’s what you bring to the songwriting and lyric writing experience?

CS: I think I’ve definitely moved on from my roots. I think they’re still very important albums to me on an emotional level, but I always am surprised in a way when people talk about Bent Knee being so “jazzy.” Then I go and listen to songs like Nakami from the new album. It’s like, “Okay, I get it,” but when I came to Berklee, I couldn’t improvise. I was a classical player so I couldn’t improvise on the piano. So I’ve had this infatuation for the last decade since I came to Berklee, like, “I want to play jazz.”

That was one of those things that really opened my eyes. I think a lot of my musical awakening is really fueled by Ben, our guitar player, and Chris, our violin player. I’m not a very good music listener. I am at music performing. That’s what I love doing. I love performing music. I love writing music after that and then at the end, I like listening to music. That sounds really sad, but I just realize that especially with Bent Knee growing, there are people who are listening to Bent Knee because they love listening to music.

I’ve never really had that experience where I’m just listening to music hungrily looking for something new. I get tired of my own playlists or my own albums all the time because the way I listen is I’ll find something new and I’ll listen to it until I just stop listening and then I won’t listen to music for a while. In times like that, and the way I find new music, is through Chris, who’s an avid music listener. He’s always, always listening to and reading NPR, he watches all the Tiny Desk Concerts . He listens to Song Exploder , a great podcast. Stuff like that. Through him, I have been exposed to Son Lux  whose We Are Rising , the RPM album he did, is really cool. That was a really big influence.

And then Ben also, whenever he gets into something, he really digs deep. His influences show very clearly on the music writing of Bent Knee. If Ben gets into something, it’s inevitable you’re going to know it really really well, whether you like it or not. You also get the whole commentary and discussion on what is really happening and what is the significance of a texture and what is the historical background of something. He ends up really breaking it down. So that’s where I get most of my musical awakening.

My biggest influences right now are Esperanza Spalding  and Fiona Apple . I guess one influence that I haven’t been able to–not “get rid of” like it’s bad–but it still sticks with me is a Japanese artist named Shena Ringo . Her second album is really deep and really wonderful. When I listen–I went back and listened to it recently and I thought that when I listen to it, I don’t feel like I’ve moved that much because the different creative sampling and the darkness and the depth of the lyrics and the emotional delivery of what she’s doing doesn’t really seem like it’s that far, but at the same time, I think I was always trying to get there. Now I can actually do that, but in the past I don’t think I was able to make that quality of material.

AG: Have you ever crossed paths with Esperanza Spalding? She’s incredible, Berklee grad.

CS: No, I have not. When I came to Berklee, everyone hated Esperanza Spalding. I shouldn’t generalize, but people were talking about her. I went to see her once and I was kind of like, “I don’t get it.” I think she was playing solo and I heard a lot of “doo-bee-dee-ba-doo-ba-doo-bah.” And I was like, “What?” I think maybe I was just in a bad place, but when she put out this new album, I was like, “Urrrggghhh.” I had sort of judged her without really listening to her music or really digging deep.

AG: The D+Evolution album ?

CS: Yeah, I heard her on Wait… Wait Don’t Tell Me! . She was hilarious  and–what’s his name? Peter Sagal –was like, “So you were the youngest professor at Berklee. What was that like?” She was just like, “Yeah, it was great. I just don’t think it was great for my students, though.” They were just like, “Do you want to teach?” and like any good musician, I was like, “Yes!”

You say yes to everything. When she said that, I was like, “That makes sense.” I have definitely, as a musician, walked into things that I’m way underqualified for just because someone offered it. I was like, “Yeah, I’m going to do this. I’m going to rock it.” I was so impressed that she just owned up to it and was so relaxed about it. Then I just went and listened to the album and was like, “WOW. This is crazy!” I haven’t gone through her back catalog, but I’m still really enjoying and savoring this D+Evolution album.

AG: Yeah, there are so many great songs on several of her previous albums. I do encourage you to invest in some of it. It’s extremely different from Emily’s D+Evolution, but really good stuff. If I remember correctly, you were a key part of some of the music videos you guys have made recently, right?

CS: Yeah. I was involved heavily in the Good Girl video.

AG: Do you have a photography or film background?

CS: No, not at all. As Bent Knee, we tried to do a music video for our first album. We actually tried to do two. There is one out there called Urban Circus  we did with a friend who was a film student. There’s another one that got canned because it just didn’t come out right. It was such an arduous and difficult process that we didn’t even really get to doing any music videos for Shiny Eyed Babies. I think it was just because we tried to apply the same concept of writing music to writing a music video.

With writing music, the difference is that we’re able to articulate and sort of make an example of our ideas really well so that it makes sense to each other what we’re trying to envision. A lot of times, if you say a musical idea, it sounds so stupid. So we have this rule in rehearsal where we always have to try everything. You just have to try it and you can’t just be like, “I hate it.” You have to try building up on it instead of slashing it down.

With music videos, I think the problem was when we discussed it together, no one could really articulate their ideas fully without relying on other videos or ideas or imagery. We just weren’t on the same page about what we wanted to do, but we would do the same thing we do with music where we just hodge-podge it together. “Okay, let’s start with Gavin’s idea here and then we’ll switch over to this idea here, which was Jessica’s. And then we’ll put Courtney’s idea here.” We were trying to create this Frankenstein and it just wasn’t working, you know?

When we were trying to do videos for Say So, this was in December and January of 2016–my mom is a dancer and she has a non-profit type of dance and arts kind of organization in Fukuoka, Japan. I was going back in Japan in February. We always sort of joked about collaborating. As long as I can remember when I started playing piano, my mom would be like, “Oh, one day we’ll collaborate.” It was just this running joke and then I was like, “No, this is something I really want to do.” I had brought it up to her when we were thinking of doing a video for In God We Trust from Shiny Eyed Babies.

I’d just sent her an email a couple years back and she called me back on FaceTime and she was crying because she was so overwhelmed by the emotion of someone seeing her as a dancer and respecting her art. She’s not a lifelong dancer, she started later in her 30s and 40s, more as a health thing. Then she really got into it. She’s older now and she does more admin and organizational stuff than actual physical dancing. So, seeing that, it was kind of like, “Wow, this is really something that means a lot to my mom.”

So when I was going back to Japan, I really wanted to do a video with her and I thought Good Girl  would be great because I wasn’t sure how many resources we’d have when we’re back in Japan. I was trying to think of something that could really just rely on her dancing and not a lot of props. I just wrote the storyboard myself and I sent it to everyone for feedback. My approach was just like, “I’m going to make this. I’m going to make it the best I can and I’m going to hope everyone likes it. I don’t want to do the process we’ve been doing where we hodge podge ideas because I think I have a really good vision for this and I want to try making it a thing.”

So, my mom being in the arts, she has some great connections. We were able to find a really good videographer who also did the editing, and also the lighting and stage tech guy who provided the lighting and the smoke machine, which makes everything better for the shoot. Yeah, we did it in Japan in this sort of empty gallery space that’s in the same building as my mom’s office and also sort of in the backyard of one of my mom’s best friends who has a house in the mountains. About that shoot, if you go look towards the end and you see my mom dancing in nature, she has this wig on backwards and she’s wearing barely nothing and it was February in the mountains with ice melt and she’s dancing in this.

Myself and the two videographers are wearing these heavy coats and just walking around weeping at how cold our feet are because we’re in this water. Of course the first thing that happens when my mom starts dancing is she falls and slips right into the water. We’re like, “Oh shit!” But she was just in a different plane where she didn’t even feel cold. She was like, “It doesn’t bother me.” It also made me realize I have that thing, too, when I start performing, I have this switch that goes on and I just go to a different place. I realized, “Oh, this is where I get it from.”

I could not get my mom to rehearse to save my life. She was just not there, but when we put her in the environment and we said, “Go, do your thing.” She was just there and it was such an amazing experience to see your parent really being a person and an artist as opposed to being a parent. To get to collaborate on that artist to artist level was a really extremely rewarding experience for me.

AG: That’s awesome. One final question: About that switch you just mentioned, the intensity switch, you’re such an intense live performer, when you’re singing, there’s nothing else in the world happening. Have you always been that way or is that something that Bent Knee has brought out of you in terms of singing and performing?

CS: Yeah, I think–I don’t know. I guess for me, I haven’t really found a different way to perform. I really am a performer. I think that’s the thing that I do the best and the thing that I really love doing. Bent Knee material is becoming less cathartic. It’s not as brutal. I don’t think anything else will ever be quite as brutal as Shiny Eyed Babies, save for some tragedy that I hope won’t happen.

Shiny Eyed Babies we wrote just as we were graduating college. It was a really tumultuous time. We weren’t sure what was going to happen with our lives. We were working really hard on the band, but nothing was really happening yet. So, a lot of emotional stuff and I felt like it just had to be delivered that way. It wasn’t a conscious decision that I made. It’s just something that I’ve always done.

AG: Cool. Well, thank you so much for giving me about an hour of your time. I really appreciate that. I really hope you have a great birthday today.

CS: Thank you so much. I really appreciate your really thoughtful questions. I’m sorry I’m such a rambler. I feel like you should have asked more questions.

AG: I told you: Everyone says that.

CS: I know! I know! You’re just such a great listener. That’s the problem.

AG: It’s the cross I have to bear I guess. All right, thanks so much Courtney.

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