I had the chance to speak with Laurel Wright and Wesley Lunford of The Young Fables at Rhythm N’ Blooms 2018. Their album “Old Songs” will drop on May 4th. You can check out their single “Half as Good” off the album on streaming sites now.
CH: If you had to briefly introduce your band to someone unfamiliar with you what’d you say?
Laurel: We’re The Young Fables. We are riginally from Maryville, TN, but we’ve lived in Nashville for about 4 years now. We sing, play, and write our own music. The genre we say we play is modern traditional Country music.
Wes: At first we thought we’re Country, but that’s such a wide term. Then we thought we have a lot of traditional roots, but with modern takes on them.
CH: I love that. That definitely fits what I feel after hearing you perform what your music really is.
CH: How long have you been playing together as a band?
Laurel: We’ve been playing together for 5 years.
Wes: Yeah we’ve been playing for that long, but only been the duo for 3.5 years.
CH: Between the two of you definitely together you have a lot of musical experience.
Laurel: Well we play all the time. All day everyday. In Nashville in order to do it full time you have to do it all the time, so we have a lot of practice.
Wes: Even before we started playing together, we both played a ton and did our own thing.
Laurel: Wes is older than me so he’s played for a lot longer. [Laughter]
Wes: I was a freelance musician, until I met Laurel pretty much, and I was doing these contract gigs over in Asia and I was over there and thought well I’m kind of tired of this so I’m going to go back home for a while and do something else. So I came back and was playing with this small record label, backing all their bands, and a friend of mine was in a band and he’d played with Laurel on the side. Then her guitarist didn’t show up one time, so they called me, and now I’m the last one to leave. [Laughter]
Laurel: Yeah you’re the only one left in the whole band Wes.
CH: Or perhaps the more optimistic take on your story is “...now it’s history”.
Laurel: That’s right. It really is.
CH: What was the transition from Maryville to Nashville like?
Laurel: Well I really am younger than Wes, so I played a lot in Maryville, and did as much as I could for the age that I was, but then when I got to Nashville, I moved there the day after I turned 19, it was really like the beginning for me. Wes helped guide me through all that as he’s got a lot of experience.
Wes: We were playing together at the time, and Laurel said I’m moving to Nashville, and we weren’t a couple but I said “well I still want to play with you cause I feel we have a cool thing going on”.
Laurel: Yeah it was probably a good opportunity for you too.
Wes: Yeah I thought I want to go to Nashville and play. So she said ok but we’re not going to make any money.
Laurel: And he was totally cool with that, so I thought wow this must be special.
Wes: So we did that for about a year or so.
Laurel: And we still didn’t make any money. [Laughter]
Wes: Then the magic happened.
CH: I feel for your youth Laurel that was a very frank perspective to realize how hard the music industry can be, cause you want to have the drive and idealism that you can succeed, but it’s good to know the music industry’s full of hurdles and not be surprised by the challenges.
Wes: And so many people see the music industry as one thing. They think I’ve got to get the record label, need to make a million dollars….
Laurel: Get as song on the radio.
Wes: Yeah. But as long as you’re making music it’s all good.
Laurel: I’ve started to realize in Nashville, cause I used to want to be on a record label, but now I just want to make an ok living making music with the people I want to do music with. Everyone I think has different goals in Nashville.
CH: How do you approach the music making process?
Wes: For us it’s taken a long time, but you can’t do everything yourself. You always try to do as much as you can yourself, but it takes a long time to find the right people to help you. That doesn’t mean people that have money.
Laurel: Yeah it can be hard to find the people that truly believe in you and actually want to help you for the right reasons without having ulterior motives.It has taken us a long time. We’ve been in Nashville for four years, and we’ve just now signed a management contract. Our manager, whose been our really close friend, helped brand and build us for the past 3 and a half years. There’s this team we’ve built, and friendships we’ve all made, and that’s important. People just think I’ll go sign with so and so, like one of the big companies, but really the people that will work hardest for you are the people that believe in you.
Wes: For us we play so much. Once or twice a day, and sometimes it’s to rooms with just 2 people, but we didn’t realize how many people liked our music till we did this new record. We did a Kickstarter for it to raise money…
Laurel: And we didn’t think we’d raise that much money.
Wes: Exactly. But it really makes you feel good when you’ve touched somebody with your music. It’s crazy to think that.
CH: How do you come up with the ideas for your songs? Do you try to think of a specific audience when writing your music?
Laurel: We don’t really try to cater to a specific audience. We try to write about things we’ve gone through and experienced, things that we’ve seen happen, and that others can relate to.
Wes: On the new record a lot of the songs on there are super personal. It’s about stuff that’s happened to us or our friends, and I feel people can relate to that cause everybody---like the last song on the new record is about my dad who I lost 3 years ago, and people can relate to that even though it is super personal.
CH: I imagine it has to feel cathartic working through that with a song.
Wes: Yeah. Sometimes it’s hard.
Laurel: Yeah I always say I really like to write about the things people don’t like to bring attention to or talk about, because you know that you’re not the only one feeling like that. It’s when you bring attention to it that you wouldn’t believe how many people feel the same way.
CH: Yeah I do feel artists like Kacey Musgraves, Corey Smith, and others might have country sounding songs, but they’re writing about stuff on the fringe of country. So it connects in a different way.
Laurel: Yeah I love that.
Wes: Seems like it’s easier to write that way too, because think of how many ‘I love you’ songs you’ve heard in your life. That’s going to be tough to write something new and special.
CH: Getting back to your new album you’ve Kickstarted, how are you rolling out its release?
Wes: We just had a release party for the physical album March 27th, and it goes on Spotify and other streaming services May 4th.
Laurel: Our single “Half as Good” is out there as well.
CH: How has having an online presence, and really needing to focus on that as well, changed how you approach your band? Clearly Kickstarter is one way.
Wes: Laurel does everything with our social media. It’s important---more so than I realized.
Laurel: I will say it’s like a whole other job. Anyone who has any independent [business or project] that’s so important because you’re reaching so many people that you can’t see on an everyday basis. You learn all these new tricks on social media platforms, and you wouldn’t believe how many people you sort of meet over social media. It’s crazy.
Wes: Yeah it’s crazy how some of our best friends were walking through the airport while we were playing and then connected on social media and it became a friendship.
CH: Since we’re at a music festival, Rhythm N’ Blooms, I wanted to ask how you specifically approach playing at a festival vs other venues?
Laurel: Hmmmm… I’d say with this festival every stage is different. We play one stage and the sound is amazing, it’s inside, and people are sitting down and listening, and you can hear a pin drop. The next stage wasn’t any less, but it was outside, cold, and they couldn’t use the original sound system because of the rain, so it was like a complete switch. Going from one venue like the first to another 30 minutes later, and people are there in the rain for you, and it keeps you humble and grounded.
Wes: Yeah there’s always something new and special.
Laurel: Still fun. Playing music is always fun.
Wes: And the festival crowd they have to love music. They wouldn’t be here for anything else. That’s what’s great. It surprised me how many people watched us in the rain. I don’t know if I’d sit in the rain and watch us.
CH: Is there any one thing you’d like to share now before I leave you to return to the festival?
Laurel: I think the one thing that me and Wes always completely agree on is that hard work trumps talent.
Wes: That’s what we like to leave people with. It doesn’t matter how good you are, but if you want to be a musician, a painter, work hard and you can do it. That’s what success is.