The Accidentals are proof that your high school orchestra friends can lead you to an incredible music career. They’re about to drop their next album Odyssey, a name that alludes the journey they’ve had together as a band and as friends.
Katie and Savannah met in their high school orchestra and started playing music together. Both started music at an early age. They picked out their instruments in school. Katie chose the cello and Savannah the violin. They bonded over their mutual respect for each other.
Katie explains, “We were the only two people who raised our hands to volunteer for an orchestra project. I always thought Savannah was cool because she actually played gigs with her family.” Savannah adds, “I was impressed with Katie because I didn’t write songs and she was playing multiple instruments. She was playing jazz guitar and we gave our skills to each other which is how this band came about.”
Having that opportunity to be introduced to music at such a young age meant the world to them. With funding for arts programs being cut in schools it’s hard to imagine the long term effect it will have on students. The band is very passionate about the fact that their education gave them this opportunity and would hate for it to be taken away from other students.
Katie says, “Music is a really important tool for all introverts. We’re all shy sometimes. Through music on our own and with the band it’s helped boost our confidence. Getting in front of people and performing a song in spite of the fear of being vulnerable. We have to work with large group of people and create something together and make something meaningful.”
And it comes full circle for them. They use orchestral arrangements in their songs, even using their old high school orchestra. Savannah adds, “It’s nice to call upon a classical background and learn that technique and bring that into the modern pop world.”
It wasn’t until a little later that they would add their drummer Michael to the mix. Who rounded the group out with his musical upbringing and drum skills. He says, “I was 4 years old he got me my first drum set for christmas and my parents were very brave to allow that. I was really into it and I started playing then and haven’t stopped since.”
After high school they had a huge decision to make. Katie was offered a presidential scholarship to Berklee and at the same time they were offered a production deal in New York that could mean turning their band into a full time career. This was a huge turning point in their career.
They went with the latter, but assure me that it was the right choice. They’ve learned more from experience than a lot of people learn in college. They’ve learned about the ins and outs of the music business through hard work and commitment.
Katie says, “We’ve been running our own business with help from an awesome team. We’ve learned a lot about finance and graphic design and video editing. As well as just becoming a person from the ages between 17-21 it’s been a cool opportunity for personal growth.”
Savannah adds, “We definitely have learned a lot just by putting ourselves out there because this a really vulnerable thing. We’ve learned a lot especially from our manager. We have a whole business team to thank for being really patient with us. We have a lawyer and a management team and a new label we signed with, Sony Masterworks, and they’ve been really incredible because when we first decided to go with them we talked over the music a lot and they gave us free reign to produce our album. It helps having dream team behind you that’s invested in your music.”
Their new album Odyssey is a testament to their growth as musicians and as a band. It’s about the journey and finding strength in vulnerability.
Katie says, “We’ve been working on it for a while now and it captures some old songs and some new songs for us. It’s message of moving forward. Our label is really cool with us branching out and trying out something different. We brought back our orch dork roots. Savannah composed a completely instrumental part of the album.”
The collaborations on the album are incredible. Everyone from Jack White’s bassist Dominic Davis, Keller Williams, and Jenny Conlee from The Decemberists. They traded skills and using different talents added more depth to their album.
They told me about a time when they were recording in the famous recording booth at Third Man Records. A staff member went and got Jack White and when the band came out he was standing there. The band assures me they freaked out extensively and didn’t even ask for a photo because they were so shocked. He had heard their music before.
When I ask them for their best piece of advice Michael immediately says, “Do the thing….do the thing that you want to do.” A quick and succinct answer that seems to fit every situation.
Savannah says you need to just put yourself out there, no matter how daunting that is. She says, “I think it does tie in a little bit with how we look at the past 6 years of this band’s growth and journey. It’s scary to put yourself out there and do music full time especially when you’re shy but every single day we move forward even if it’s a baby step. You do what you say you’re going to do and you do it on time and you don’t worry about the chatter of the rest of the world. Even if you feel scared or uncertain or not confident just keep moving forward and put yourself out there.”
Katie adds that you need to be okay with asking for help. She says, “Ask for what you need because we’re pretty self sufficient and focused people but we have to remind ourselves that it’s okay to ask for help. The best way to do things is by reaching out.”