Having started out as journalists, Deer Park Avenue, AKA Stephanie and Sarah Snyder have decided its time to spread their artistic wings and branch out into the vibrant world of music. Both gifted instrumentalists and stunning vocalists, the pair look set to wow the world with their own blend of rock, and PopWrapped are delighted to premiere the lyric video for their new single “I Know” which you can check out below.
Currently performing around Europe, the girls very kindly took time out of their hectic schedules to chat influences, inspirations, dream shows and social media.
PW: Please introduce yourselves.
Deer Park Avenue: We’re a rock band. We’re sisters and our mum is from India and our dad is a pastor from Southern California. Sarah plays guitar and sings lead vocals in the band. Stephanie plays drums and percussion and sings harmonies. We both collaborate on our song-writing and write all of our songs together.
PW: How would you sum yourselves up in five words?
DPA: Loud, fun, high-energy wanderlust indulgers.
PW: You used to be journalists so how did that background influence your career change if at all, and what did your journalism careers teach you about the industry you’re now a part of?
Stephanie: Journalism turned out to have a huge influence on our music careers. From a business angle, we started a web and media business – Flying Ace Media, we started out designing our own website and we did our own PR. We did some work for family and friends of friends in the music business, and by word of mouth it turned into a business, and we’ve been able to work with some great people and companies in the music industry.
Sarah: I think an incredibly important thing our journalism background taught us is the importance of communication and of stories. At its best, journalism is telling someone’s story—usually in the most concise and relevant way possible—and that has helped us as songwriters and in the relationships we’ve developed with other people in the music world. Communication is key. There are a few amazing gigs we’ve gotten just by responding to an email, or being the first band to message back the club or answer our phones.
PW: When did you truly realise that you wanted out of journalism and that music was your true calling?
Sarah: I was in Switzerland, doing a court report for an assignment based on some farming dispute – all in German – and all I could think was…there’s no way I can do this for the rest of my life! I think having a band was something we always had in the backs of our minds so we figured we’d just go for it and have fun with it and see what happened.
Stephanie: We had a cover band at the time and it was just a blast. So much fun. Then we moved back to the U.S. and our cousin Gregg Bissonette asked us if we had any original songs, and we said, “Well, we have this one song, we don’t know if it’s any good.” So he got us into the studio to record with his brother Matt and we did “Over Again.” That was our first single. People started coming to shows and buying records and supporting us. We’ve never looked back.
PW: Was there one particular album you bought or concert you attended that, looking back, perhaps impacted the decision?
Sarah: When I was 7 I saw the “Basket Case” video for the first time and it changed my life. I didn’t know music could sound like that. Green Day were a huge influence on us. Alanis Morissette was vocally a huge influence on me. Her style was so different. I remember hearing her sing for the fist time at age 8 or so and thinking, “I didn’t know you were allowed to sing like that!”
Stephanie: From a personal standpoint, two of our biggest influences and musical mentors are Gregg and Matt Bissonette. Gregg plays drums with Ringo and other artists and Matt is currently touring with Elton John. They really helped us make the transition. Gregg was the first one who taught us how to play together as a band when we were kids and Matt has been our guide through the craziness of recording in the studio, and they have both helped us navigate this business. They are huge role models personally as well as musically.
PW: Which bands or artists most influenced you growing up and have those influences changed much as you’ve gotten older?
Sarah: Besides Green Day, we loved the Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana…we also grew up listening to the Beatles, the Doors, the Who, the Kinks, Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. We had a really international home and got to listen to German and Italian pop, Francophone music – there are some breathtaking French poets and lyricists – Bollywood music, classical music and old church hymns. Pretty huge variety.
Stephanie: Some big influences on me as a drummer have always been Ringo Starr and Gregg. I just remember announcing to my family one day that I wanted to play drums like Ringo Starr, and it went from there. Gregg gave me my first snare drum! Growing up, we also played in church where our dad was the pastor, so I listened to a lot of contemporary worship songs and groups like Hillsong who often make albums of live recordings, and I remember being struck by the way the drummer played live—it just felt so free and fluid. I still listen to all kinds of music, and still love the songs I grew up with as much as I love discovering new ones!
PW: Is there a band or artist you might say you sound similar to?
DPA: We’ve had a lot of comparisons to Paramore and the Foo Fighters, as well as Best Coast, the Dollyrots, Wolf Alice, the Veronicas, Weezer, New Politics, Jimmy Eat World. One friend told us we sound like the Beach Boys covering Paramore!
PW: Who or what most inspires you when it comes to your song-writing?
Sarah: Almost anything can be an inspiration in one way or another. I get inspired by travelling, grey skies, old buildings, meeting new people, laughs with friends at the pub, breakups and fights, good days, bad days. The only thing that is almost impossible to predict is when you’ll get inspired. You can go weeks without being able to put your feelings into words and then one day they just pour out of you and you can’t stop.
Stephanie: Inspiration is this tricky, whimsical, eccentric thing. It comes to you sometimes when you least expect or least want it—usually after a long and exhausting day when all you want to do is sleep, you get this catchy melody or lyric and you know you have to write it down or record it or it will disappear! Inspiration and opportunity happen at the least convenient times. You just have to go for it when it happens.
PW: Is creating a song something that comes easy to you or can it depend on the subject matter?
Sarah: Yes and yes. I can nearly always write a song, but whether or not it’s a good song is the question! It can also be very easy to create a song but very difficult to share it. To write a really honest song is the most important thing to me, and you really have to stop judging yourself to get there. In a way I feel like songs really come to us like people do. They tell us their story and what we have to do is share it.
Stephanie: I think it depends on what’s on your mind or in your heart at the moment. It’s harder when there’s a topic you “have to” write about, it may take a while to get into that moment. But my favourite way to write is just what’s in my mind because chances are if it’s in my head it’s in other people’s too, and hopefully they can connect. I think the two things we all connect with are love and pain. It’s actually in the roughest patches of my life that I write the most songs.
PW: In your opinion, which is the greatest song ever written and why?
Sarah: I think it depends on the day! The greatest song ever written is whatever speaks to you in a certain space in your life. And that can change in a moment.
Stephanie: There are some songs I can go to right now that will instantly cheer up my day or make me dance. The songs that bring me the most joy get my vote for best songs ever!
PW: Your debut album is due out shortly. What can you tell me about it and do you have any favourite tracks on the collection?
Sarah: We’re really excited about this one! This is the most honest collection of songs we’ve ever put out. Some of the songs were really personal and we ended up live tracking most of it, so it’s also the most imperfect record we’ve ever made which his exactly what we were going for. We wanted to keep it on the raw side—no auto-tune, no digitally altering tracks, no tricks. Just rock and roll.
Stephanie: We put it together in less than a week in the studio which was pretty fast. We had such a great time—those long studio days where time just disappears! Time and pizza. Amazing. We love playing “California” and “I Know”—we tested those on our fans first and they got some really great feedback. Those are probably our favourite songs to play live.
PW: If you could perform with four bands or artists who can be living or dead, who would you pick and why, and which venue would you play?
Sarah: Again a tremendously difficult question! One possible lineup: John Lennon, Dave Grohl, Leonard Cohen, and Ella Fitzgerald. I have no idea if everyone would get along but I’d be beside myself.
Stephanie: Yes to everything Sarah said! I’d also have to add MuteMath, another of our influences growing up, and Twenty One Pilots. And the venue…Wembley!
PW: What are your thoughts on social media and how important would you say it is for bands and artists such as yourselves to be socially interactive?
Sarah: Social media changed everything in the music industry – and really all industries everywhere – because it fundamentally changed how we experience life. It made things possible that would never have been possible just a decade earlier. It made artists more accessible. It can forge an immediate relationship between the people creating art and those connecting with it. We feel like it’s an extremely important part of what we do and a huge privilege to connect with fans online and talk with them and get to know them. They share their lives with us and we get to do the same.
Stephanie: We talk with friends and family members who were in bands in the 80s or 90s and they are so blown away by how much is possible with social media. We loved doing our pre-order PledgeMusic campaign for our new album. We got to show our fans some videos and photos from the studio, from the road, and to be able to share that with a group of people from all over the world who support you so much was an incredible and humbling experience for us.
PW: Would you agree that social media can be very much a double edged sword, and do you think you’d have earned the support you have without it?
Sarah: It’s definitely a double-edged sword. It’s normal now for many people to be more connected with each other online than in real life, and that means you can lose a lot of the messiness of living life together. You just end up seeing perfected versions of people’s lives in a way that may not be reality. And of course no one wants to post ugly photos of themselves! But there has to be a balance of the fun and the glam and all that stuff and know it’s also ok to say, man, it’s been a horrible day. I’m burnt. What about you guys? There is an amazing and good and wonderful and extremely powerful side to social media. Look at all the good we can do! And as a band, as artists, the support we’ve had through it has been incredible and really exciting.
Stephanie: It was a struggle at the beginning as a band to keep sharing the things that were personal or important to us. We’d get people saying, “You should talk about this issue a lot” or “You should dress like so-and-so and you’ll get more followers” or “You should cover this song so you can get more hits” or something like that, and we really had to say, wait, we aren’t informed enough on that topic or we totally don’t love the way that artist dresses, it’s not us, or that song is not our thing, so we knew we needed to be honest and who we are and just trust that people are going to realise that.
PW: You’re both music bloggers and voting members of the Recording Academy – the academy behind the Grammys – so how do you juggle everything and still find time to relax and unwind with family and friends etc.?
Sarah: It can get tricky. I’d love to say our lives are finely balanced masterpieces! The trick is finding the balance or tension between being creative, working, travelling, connecting with other people, and just having time to come back to yourself. Community is so important. Creative people tend to get lost inside of their own heads so it’s important to surround yourself with people who love you and are there for you, people you can trust, people who help you keep your priorities straight. No one exists inside of a vacuum.
Stephanie: We have amazingly supportive friends and family who help us with a lot of the band management and tour scheduling and all of that, and that has been amazing. It would literally be impossible to do without their help. Our parents have been amazing supporters since day one. They still come to every show they can even though they’ve seen our set a hundred times. When we’re in the studio our mum is the one who drives down and makes sure we’re all eating proper meals! So it’s cool when we get to have music and family and friends all in one place.
PW: What are your upcoming performance plans? Can European fans expect to see you any-time soon?
DPA: We are going to be playing in Europe this summer, then heading back to the States later this year. We are currently based in Munich and will be playing a “home show” here very soon! We’ll have all of our dates on our website and Facebook. You can also find us on Twitter and Instagram.
PW: Finally then, what else lies ahead for you and what musical ambitions would you like to fulfil?
DPA: We want to make more music, release more songs, do more behind-the-scenes stuff with fans, which is so fun. Travel more, keep meeting new people and sharing stories. We’d love to do a film score someday. We’d love to meet more of our musical heroes and maybe collaborate with some of them. As long as we keep doing what we love and loving what we do, we’ll feel like the most successful people in the world.
Check out the video for Deer Park Avenue’s new single “I Know” below and you can purchase their music on itunes.