Early Riser first caught our ears and stole our hearts with the encouraging "The Nevers" and today we're excited to premiere the latest single from their upcoming Anchorless & A-F Records release Currents out 6/16. "Find Me for the Waltz" is streaming below, and between the sweeping strings and sugary melodies, a personal pep talk for the band becomes a message of sunny strength for others. Grab a handful of rainbow confetti and dance along with a summer-approved single.
The Grey Estates: Tell us a little more about what Find Me For the Waltz is about, and also can we talk about those strings? They are killer!
Kiri Oliver (vocals, guitar, keys): The song takes place at a show and is about letting go of someone who you built up in your head to be something they’re not, and deciding to have a good time on your own. And yes, it features one of Heidi’s many awesome cello riffs! The cello was always conceived as the lead instrument in the band, which differs from how it’s used on most albums as more of a background accent.
Heidi Vanderlee (cello, vocals): Yeah, I really enjoy functioning as a lead instrument. I just wish I could move around on stage.
This track along with "The Nevers" are both very upbeat and positive. What influenced you in writing and what inspires you to create tracks that are so encouraging? Does the rest of the album follow a similar pattern or theme?
K: Songwriting is very therapeutic for me--each song is like a capsule of a particular time or relationship or experience or feeling, and writing it often allows me to sum it up and move on. A lot of the lyrics, like “it’s okay to go out with a whimper as long as you come back in with a bang” (on “The Nevers”) and “this night belongs to me” (on “Waltz”) are like pep talks to myself. It’s been great to find that other people find them encouraging as well! The rest of the album does follow a similar theme. Some of the tracks are darker, but even those come from a positive place of wanting to let go of the past and move on to better things.
How did Early Riser get started and what part do each of you play in your writing and recording? Do you work separately and then together?
H: Kiri was playing by herself as Early Riser for a while, and she was also in a great indie pop band called Delta Hotel. Eventually we started playing together in the band Leda, and when that situation ended, we knew we had to keep playing music together or else we would be sad. Plus we had just put down a deposit on a new practice space. Kiri usually writes a song and then brings it to me, and sometimes she has ideas about how my part should sound, but sometimes I write the part or change it around. Kiri definitely does the heavy lifting when it comes to songwriting. I just add to what she comes up with first. Right now we are the only two permanent members but we play with a rotating cast of beautiful people on bass and drums.
K: We also work together a lot on vocal harmonies, which is a big part of our sound.
This is your debut! So when did you first begin working on the album and what was the process like? Also what does it feel like to have an album coming out?
H: We started writing the album almost two years ago and then actually went into the studio a year ago. That was always the goal, to write a full-length and record it, especially since Kiri has been working on some of these songs for several years. I asked my friend Joel Tannenbaum to produce our record because I really loved working with him when I played on some records he made as The Rentiers, and I felt like he really got us. He was also an early champion of our music. Kiri had never met him before he agreed to produce our record, so I guess she trusts me - haha. It turned out great, though - he knew how to guide us along but also let us make a lot of decisions on our own. We made the record at Noisy Little Critter outside of Philly with Mike Bardzik, which is this big old barn with chickens running around outside. When I wasn’t recording cello or vocals I was literally napping in a bunk bed and watching old James Bond movies on VHS. Our bestie Zane Van Dusen played bass on the record and we asked him what kind of food he wanted for the weekend and when he gave us his shopping list we thought he was kidding. It was enough food for a family for a week. Totally thought it was a prank. It was not. He ate it all. He is like 9 feet tall and rail thin. Zane forever. Davie Olson played drums and basically set a really high bar for everyone who has played with us afterwards. What a peach!
Having an album finally coming out is something we still can’t really believe is happening, especially because it’s been so long since we actually made it. The fact that two labels (Anchorless and A-F Records) liked it enough to co-release it is even weirder and we can’t believe that’s happening either. We’re really excited for everyone to hear it, and we hope some people like it. We really like it, so I guess that’s the most important thing.
When did you know that you wanted to pursue some form of music in your life? Did you have any musical background growing up? I was an extra orphan in Annie.
K: My parents are big opera fans who named me after the singer Kiri Te Kanawa, and my mom plays piano and guitar. I started piano lessons in second grade and sang in school choirs, and making music has always been a part of my life since then. I picked up guitar in high school when I started writing songs, and started my first band in college.
H: My mom has literally been a music teacher and a church organist my entire life. My dad loves music but he’s tone deaf - my mom kicked him out of her church choir. Not a joke. It was kind of understood that I would play an instrument, so I started playing the cello when I was 9, went to all-state, had a private teacher, etc. etc. Very traditional and classical. My relationship with my instrument was adversarial as a teen but when I got older and started figuring out how to play in bands we kinda fell back in love. I used to have to play with sheet music, even in bands! Now I can memorize all my parts, thank god. It just wasn’t intuitive to me at first. I can also sing and play at the same time, which guitarists learn from the get go, but cellists definitely don’t. The only example of a singing cellist I had while growing up was this lady on The Lawrence Welk Show named Charlotte Harris. Not punk. Very talented though. I just spent 15 min. trying to find a good video of her on YouTube and it doesn’t exist.
And finally, using emojis, how would you describe the new album?
H: Also sideways mad cat face but apparently that emoji doesn’t exist anymore. Rude.