Q&A with Emily Herndon of May Stands Still
May Stands Still is an acoustic folk/pop group based out of Los Angeles, and comprised of Emily Herndon (vocals/guitar) Asha Sukumar (violin/mando/vocals), Wesley C Switzer (bass/production) and Scott Bauer (guitars, vocals). Their new CD, When You Come Home, is available via Bandcamp.com and iTunes. Comparisons in their sound can be easily made to the work of Patty Griffin, Sarah MacLachlan, and Joanna Brooke/The Story. Emily recently took time to talk with me about the band’s foundations, their recent (and successful) Indiegogo campaign, and shares some stories behind the songs on their new album.
JW: Congrats, you’ve had a successfully funded Indiegogo project! As we’re listening to now to the new album, tell me what was the experience of crowd funding like for you?
EH: It was pretty exhilarating! Fundraising takes a surprising amount of hard work and promotion, but I was blown away by the kindness and generosity behind the donations–especially from those who have never met my bandmates or me. It felt like an affirmation that I am in the right place and choosing to do the right thing in my life. It was a very positive experience with Indiegogo as well–the platform was super easy and straight-forward and I would definitely use it again.
JW: What part has social media played in helping to spread the word about your music? On which service do you connect with the majority of your fans?
EH: Facebook has been my main source of contact with my friends and fans of May Stands Still. We also have a mailing list, but Facebook has actually been the best social networking site that we’ve used.
JW: How did you and the rest of the band members connect? Separate bands? School?
EH: I met the original band members of May Stands Still through a drummer/good friend who heard me play for the first time at a beach bonfire. He introduced me to my bandmates a short time later, who were classmates at Berklee School of Music. We had great chemistry as a group and moved together from San Diego to Los Angeles two years ago. The band has evolved a bit since then and I am excited to see what the future holds.
JW: While you’ve been compared to artists such as Joni Mitchell, Sarah McLachlan, and I hear a bit of Joanna Brooke/The Story in your style, who would you say are direct influences on your writing and your vocal style?
EH: I grew up listening to Sarah McLachlan, Joni Mitchell, and Carol King, who have been direct influences on my vocal style and writing. More recently I have been inspired by Ingrid Michaelson, Feist, and A Fine Frenzy, and I feel this is evident on our most recent record, “When You Come Home.”
JW: I’ve also read that as upbeat as some of the singles are, you are dealing with loss on this record. Would you mind sharing a bit about that and the songs that address it?
EH: I wrote the majority of this album after suffering a great deal of loss in a short period of time, including the sudden loss of a friend and the end of a long-term relationship. This album is very close to my heart, and follows me through the process of coping and healing. The songs are reflective and raw; specifically “Blue June” and “Wherever You Are.” But there is also a thread of hope that weaves its way through each song, especially as I survived the winter months and made it to spring (“New Groove and “Gotta See”). I am inspired by a person’s ability to endure traumatic and sometimes devastating experiences, and I hope some of the songs on this album may offer a moment of solace to anyone going through a difficult time.
JW: Any chance of upcoming shows or events outside of the LA area?
EH: How far outside the LA area? I’ll be playing a show in Temecula in the next month, and I’m crossing my fingers with high hopes to go to SXSW in Austin. Name the town, and I’ll do my best to get out there!!