North Texas Daily

Meet the Music (and listen to it)

Meet the Music (and listen to it)

June 14
08:28 2013

Michael Felder/Staff Writer

From acoustic to indie rock to rap, some of Denton and Dallas’ most talked about artists told us what keeps them together and what inspires them. Meet them here in our Q&A, then listen to some of the best in local jams.


Photo by Nicole Arnold/ Senior Staff Photographer

“If you dug up [the band] and moved it, it might not have the same power. It might just be stacked bricks without any Texas water.” – Conor Wallace

Corbin Childs – Guitars

Tiffany Graber – Backup vocals

Josh Kitchens – Bass

Courtney Marie – Backup vocals

Trey Price – Keyboards/Saxophone

Stephen Reynolds – Drums

Conor Wallace – Vocals/Guitar

What’re your influences?

Trey: We all have different influences all over the map. Anything from jazz, country and hip-hop, to prog and indie rock.  I’d say we’re closest to what most would call “indie rock,” but we like changing things around a bit and putting something in that is a bit different from a standard rock/pop song.  My influences specifically include everything from Queen to Ben Folds, with heaps of Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Yes! But there’s others in the band who are also into Tom Waits, Portugal the Man, hip-hop, and everything in between.

What does music give you the opportunity to do that you couldn’t do otherwise?

Trey: I, like most of us, have a boring 8 to 5 desk job, and it’s great to be able to have a creative outlet for the music that I’ve loved for years and years. Fortunately, we’ve also found each other and we really like working with each other and hanging out together.

Tiffany: Ella Minnow is a creative outlet for me. I get to indulge my passion for singing and help showcase the amazing music that me and my bandmates create. What keeps me coming back is the camaraderie with friends, both on and off stage.

Do you plan to stay in Denton, or move and travel the globe?

Conor: I would love to play music for the world, but Minnow is like a magic well… If you dug it up and moved it might not have the same power…it might just be stacked bricks without any Texas water.


“I didn’t anticipate a six-piece with three guitars when I started on our songs, but it really is the best group of people that could have come together for this.” –Chance Maggard

Chance Maggard – Vocals, Guitar

JD Perry – Guitar

Ethan McClure – Guitar

Michael Slusarski – Bass

Katie Slusarski – Piano, Vocals

Kollin Weaver – Drums

What is your music, to you?

Chance: This is a tough one, really. I think we have all been able to agree that it’s loud and pretty, but not just for the sake of being loud or just for the sake of being pretty. It’s a combination of smaller parts, each as important as the next, that create something that I think we would all like to believe is not just musically, but emotionally, substantial or meaningful.

What would you say drives you as a band to create music in this manner?

Chance: In the beginning, we had all of these things going on and it was just natural to play loud. And that was a lot of fun, so it stuck. Over the time we’ve been playing, though, we’ve learned a lot about dynamics, harnessing that “loud,” and playing to all of our strengths so that we can actually get across some of the ideas that we can agree feel meaningful. I think if we had a driving force, I guess it would be each other? I mean, there are six of us. We are all best friends. That is a lot of ideas and personalities to work with. I think for each of us it is a little different.

What are your overall goals as a group?

Chance: We don’t really know. A lot of us are still in school, and only some of us will be out within the next year. I guess we would just like to travel and play for people whenever we have the opportunity. We love Denton, and we grew up here. There are a lot of great people here who support us and enjoy what we’re doing, so I think, if anything, we’d just like to find those people and play a show or two for them.


“It’s called ‘folk music,’ not ‘curator music.’ It must stay vital and grow.” –George Neal

Tony Ferraro: Bass, Vocals

Petra Kelly: Violin, Vocals

Justin Collins: Drums, Vocals

Ryan Becker: Electric Guitar, Vocals

George Neal: Acoustic Guitar, Vocals

Cory Coleman: Mandolin, Vocals

How did Hares on the Mountain come together?

George: We became a band almost purely by accident.  We began initially as an experimental recording project with Ryan Becker and me making 4-track recordings in my home during the summer of 2010. After that, Ryan and I played a series of Sundays at Dan’s Silverleaf.  Each time we played, we would keep adding musicians.  JC and Tony were first, and then we added Petra, then Cory. After about a month of shows, we realized we had become a band and most of the core members currently playing with Hares were in the band.

What kind of music would you say you create?

George: We call what we do “Danger Folk.”  It is both a completely meaningless moniker and a statement of purpose simultaneously.  For me, folk music is a double edged sword.  On one side is this entire rich tradition of songs that dates back hundreds of years.  It’s rich because it encompasses all aspects of life. On the other side, I feel that unfortunately many people who perform folk want to make it a museum piece.  It is treated like a precious object and stuck behind a glass case with no room for growth and innovation.  That’s wrong. Folk music is life. It’s messy and stupid and wonderful and tragic and should be able to reflect whatever the musician is feeling. You can’t be married to a tradition.  Ultimately folk music comes out of you.

There are a lot of different hobbies and professions to choose from. What does music do for you?

George: I keep making music because I don’t know what else to do.  My love of music is linked to who I am and what I do as a person.  I made the decision many years ago to make music and I never looked back.  I think most of the other Hares would agree.  We do it because that is what we do.


Photo courtesy of Stanton J. Stephens

“We’ve been a band for eleven years and people still invite us to play shows. It surprises me every time.” –Michael Seman

Jennifer Seman: Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Drum, Piano, Trombone

Michael Seman: Vocals, Guitar, Clarinet, Electronics

Michael Forbes: Saxophone, Clarinet, Piano

How long have you been a band, and how did you guys all link up together?

Michael Seman: We have played as Shiny for just over 11 years. Jen and I have been married for quite some time and at one point, she wanted to learn to play guitar. I taught her some chords and within a few weeks, she wrote some songs and we played an open mic night. I had played in mostly hardcore bands before, and she is from a musical background, so she didn’t take long to get up to speed. Fast forward several years and here we are.

If you could characterize your music, what kind of music would you say that you play? Are there any specific influences that you have?

Jennifer: Some classify Shiny as “avant garde” or “art rock,” and I suppose there are elements of both in what we do, but I tend to think of Shiny as a rock band writing songs combining very heavy sounds with very light sounds – one reviewer described us as “the Swans meet Billie Holliday” – and I love that description.

What about making and performing music keeps you coming back to it? What is your reason for continuing to do this?

Michael Seman: Some of the best times I’ve had have been with Jen and our friends in situations many would perceive as spectacular disasters, and yet, there we are, tearing through a set of songs we’ve written with our friends, all of us sharing an experience devoid of any outside intrusion for 40 or so minutes. Playing music has allowed me to make many friends across the country – plus, I get to do all of this with my wife.

Jennifer: We ask ourselves that question a lot. It is just a part of who we are I guess. I have always thought, “Okay, I am an adult now, this will all stop soon,” but music just kind of keeps happening. It makes me happy.


Photo courtesy of Jessica Hume


I want to be the change in somebody’s life, you know? I want my music to move and inspire, the same ways those before me inspired me.” –Character

Character (Gerardo Reyes) – Vocalist, Production

Where does your love affair with hip-hop begin?

When I was younger, I didn’t really know a lot about hip-hop, but I always had a few artists that I really liked. Atmosphere changed my life. Their music showed me there was a whole other side that was independent, underground and pretty dope, as opposed to Lil’ Jon, 50 Cent and any other artists that were on the radio back then. As time went on, I started digging a little deeper into the ‘90s and I indulged myself in classic hip-hop, and realized there was something so special about it, I had to be part of it.

Compile your list of dream collaborators.

Oh, boy. The GZA, Slug from Atmosphere, Nas (although he’d probably completely outshine me), Mos Def, Guru, Lauryn Hill, Andre 3000, KRS-One, Del the Funky Homosapien, Zack De La Rocha from Rage Against the Machine…the list goes on. My mouth is watering just thinking about what those tracks would sound like.

What’s the best part about being a rapper?

The performing of the music is a way for my heart to get my words out of me. I give it my all every time I’m on a stage. I get such a high from the pure adrenaline, I black out. I let Character take over. There is no greater feeling in the world. I’m hooked on it. I’m a stage junkie, I can’t quit.


Here’s a taste of the music going on around you, maybe even in your own backyard. Take the plunge and make the most of those ears!

1. The Baptist Generals – Broken Glass

A jingly, exciting and emotional track from Denton band (and Sub Pop signees) The Baptist Generals.

2.  Biographies – First Born

This track represents everything that Biographies is: loud, poetic, heartfelt and carefully orchestrated. Listen to this one on full blast.

3. Ella Minnow – Golden Your Eyes

Chimes, sweet vocals and a surf vibe gives this Ella Minnow track a nice summertime vibe. Put this on when you finally fix your ceiling fan.

4. Raven Lore – Kendrick Lamar Medley

Former UNT songstress Raven Trahan weaves a mysterious, intricate and melodic quilt featuring various songs by rapper Kendrick Lamar.

5. Jenny Robinson – Sucker Emcees

From her long-awaited project, “Pigeons,” this Dallas femcee takes it back (see: way back) with this lyrical joyride. Take her advice and “just vibe” to this smooth track.

6. Hares on the Mountain – Whistle

This track from Hares’ Army EP of the same name might influence you to do a two-step in some combat boots. Fashion rules aside, it sounds like a good idea to us.

7. A.Dd+ – Suitcases

The Dallas rap duo (of Paris Pershun and Slim Gravy) creates a travel anthem that’ll be sure to get your bags packed. In fact, we’re already on our way out of town. P.S. We in the hooooouse.

8. Shiny Around the Edges – Quicklime

This track from Shiny Around the Edges has everything: screaming, a rumbling bass line, and even a saxophone! It sounds great, too.

9. Character – Melted

From his debut mixtape of the same name, Denton lyricist Character spits somethin’ SERIOUS on the tape’s outro. Have your dictionaries ready.

10. JT – What A Night ft. A.Dd+

Brain Gang representative JT tells his story of a particularly elevated evening. Don’t try this at home, kids.

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