On the inside with Darlingside
Erin McAuliffe | Thursday, November 13, 2014
No, this isn’t a Jack Johnson-Nick Jonas collaboration to be listened to while lying down and eating cheese, these are the latest Google searches of the four-members of Darlingside — Don Mitchell, David Senft, Auyon Mukharji and Harris Paseltiner.
The members of Darlingside, a folk band with a unique collaborative approach to vocals, will be taking the stage — and one microphone — at The Pool this Friday at 8 p.m.
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to talk to Paseltiner — vocalist, cellist, guitarist and occasional bassist for the band — while they were on their way to show in Iowa.
So you guys all attended Williams College together in Massachusetts, did you form your band there or is that something that came along later?
“We were all good friends in college. We were all singers together; we sang in an a cappella group there and we all participated in a singer-songwriter class there, as well. And so when I, the youngest member, graduated from school, we moved into a house together in North Hampton, Massachusetts and that’s where we started writing music together.”
As the show on Friday will draw many students, do you have any advice for aspiring singers or bands in college?
“I think one of the most important things, when I think about going into music, is doing it with a group of friends. Having a committed group of people who are excited to make music together, regardless of what type of music that is going to be.
We went into it without a set plan of the exact music we wanted to create, instead we just knew that we wanted to hang out together, play and write. So having that group dynamic, that’s always been what it’s about for us. Having that foundation of trust in each other allows us to have an open-door policy, as far as just allowing anything to happen.”
On those same lines of that collaborative, group dynamic, you guys have a very unique, organic shared vocal style. Has that been something you’ve always implemented or has it been a more recent shift in style?
“We’ve always been sharing vocals, but within the past year we’ve decided to gather around one microphone to sing together as an equal group. We really wanted to dispel that front man tradition that’s found across the board in popular music. It’s fun because we get to blend our vocals before they hit the microphone. We get to sing in the room the way you would hear a classical or barbershop ensemble — more like a chorus — and then it hits the microphone and goes out to the crowd, instead of everyone on separate channels in their own separate worlds.”
Freeform, collaborative and democratic tendencies seem to be inherent to your style. Do these characteristics define your songwriting process as well?
“We all write the songs together. Each song grows in a different way, but we’re all on board working on all of the elements. It is very much a shared voice.”
You guys have referenced a few genres — folk, retro-pop, bluegrass, barbershop and chamber music — that you pull from to inspire your music. Do you have any specific bands that you cite as specific influences to your sound?
“We have a diverse set of interests when it comes to specific bands. We’ve always appreciated bands that use vocal textures in creative ways as groups. Whether it’s The Beach Boys, The Zombies, The Beatles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkel — just a lot of different ways of approaching vocal textures. And at the same time, the instrumentals — the backdrop of those vocals — have experimental and eclectic characteristics. All of us play multiple instruments, there’s a lot of passing off. From one song to the next everyone might make an instrument change.”
Head over to The Pool Friday to hear and see Darlingside’s unique vocal styling and diverse instrumentals (including a pandeiro — a tambourine-drum hybrid that I’m envying after it made my own green duct-taped tambourine sound insipid) live. Frances Luke Accord is opening for Darlingside at 7 p.m.