Indie pop trio Ebb & Flow join us at Hollywood celebrity hotspot, The Oaks Gourmet Market, to discus new musical endeavors and how they handle the constant ebb and flow of life.
Ebb & Flow is comprised of:
Gabby Gordon – vocals, keyboards
Morten Kjær – vocals, keyboards, melodica
Ronen Gordon – drums, electronics, sound design and production
So to start us off, we are at The Oaks Gourmet Market here in Hollywood, and you guys are regulars! Care to let us know how much you love the cafe and what you would suggest ordering for anybody who’s reading?
Morten Kjær: Well, this is right across the street where Gabby and Ronen live, they are married and they enjoy getting their couples’ lattes over here. Also, I like to get the blueberry earl grey fauxnut before my morning hikes at Runyon Canyon.
Ronen Gordon: I’d like to correct Morten, it’s an espresso macchiato. No lattes. Too much milk! *laughs*
Morten: Oh, sorry. *laughs*
Gabby Gordon: I like to do this thing where I show up and get nothing, but hang out to look at the people.
Morten: “Can I get some water please?”
Ronen: A cucumber water! *all laugh*
Perfect! And to start us off for the interview, you guys have celebrated the one year anniversary of your album Edge of the World. For those who have yet to discover its awesomeness, or added any of the songs to their playlists, would you care to share a little bit about the songs that you chose lyrically, thematically, and instrumentally?
Morten: So Edge of the World is the second album from our band Ebb & Flow. And we wrote the songs over a relatively short period of time. Its title was inspired by a spot in England where Gabby‘s dad lives nowadays. It’s close to the Dover Cliffs, a series of chalk cliffs on the edge of Britain. It’s this really steep, dramatic hillside, and we felt that it went with the overall ideas of the ups and downs of life, to be standing there on the edge of the world.
Morten: It’s also the most popular suicide place in Britain. So that’s cheerful.
That’s something good to bring up and make note of.
Ronen: Well, some of the lyrics on Edge Of The World talks about that feeling of when you’re standing at the edge of a building, or stand at a place and say, ‘What if?’ It’s a great metaphor for taking risks, doing something risky, having destructive thoughts, or wanting all of these things that we find a little bit more interesting. So that was a very strong statement and is why it became the title song and the title of the album.
Gabby: We also have a couple of cheery songs on the album. *laughs*
Morten: Yeah. It sounds like a somber album, but it really is not. It’s many things. It spans from light pop to more intense songs.
Hear that everyone? The album is not full of sad songs. Even though we all love sad songs. *laughs*
Ronen: The album comes with a razor blade. *laughs*
Oh perfect! *laughs*
Morten: We’re kidding of course. But anyways, there are songs of being on the edge of a relationship, there are songs that are being on the edge of a new chapter of your life, there are songs about literally feeling depressed and wondering what’s the way out of that, so it spans from pretty light to pretty dark.
Ronen: Hence the ebb and flow theme of up and down.
Gabby: And I think it’s always a reflection of the concepts and ideas that intrigued us in that moment in time. I mean, that’s what art is to me anyways. You sort of capture what’s real to you in the moment.
What was your favorite song to write and record? You guys could all agree on songs or you could all have different songs.
Gabby: We’re independent people, we don’t all agree. *all laugh* I think my favorite song was “Edge Of The World,” because when I was singing it in the studio, the sonic space of the track that Ronen created was really stimulating and inspiring for me to sing along to. I love the repetitive phrasing that we had in the song and the themes that evolved throughout it. The tension that builds is quite poetic, so I guess I connect to the drama and existential crisis of it all. It was fun to sing, not fun, but…
Gabby: Yeah! Inspiring!
Ronen: From a production point, I would agree that “Edge Of The World” is a track on the album that’s a little bit more stretched out a little bit. I gave myself permission to be a little bit more experimental, so I really enjoyed that process. And another one was “One Track Mind,” which kind of brought me back to more of the earlier electronic sounds of video games. The production point and the beat of the song was really fun to work with, so I really enjoyed that one personally.
Morten: For the first album, Neon Hearts, we worked with different producers, but we produced all of the music ourselves for this one and it was fun for me to dig into the producer role. And Gabby had a song idea for the song “Fury,” where she used to get so angry as a kid that she would give herself a hernia. *Gabby laughs* I thought it would be fun to try and capture that aggression in a production, so I sat there with synths and hard beats, a style that I don’t usually work much with. It was a fun challenge for me to try to create a musical hernia on the album.
I think living in L.A. gives us hernias. *all laugh*
Ronen: So you can relate?
Morten: Then also, I love harmonizing and singing with Gabby on the song, “Touchstone.” It’s sort of a classic power ballad, and I just enjoyed building it. I remember being inspired by “Hello” by Adele, and I was trying to make a simple production that was grand, and that we could make beautiful story and vocal harmony to.
Now you started going into this a little bit, but for the recording process for this album, what were some similarities and differences that you guys ran into in comparison to your first album?
Ronen: I think the first album the first time we were actually like, ‘Ok, let’s try and make an album.’ That was the first time that we were really looking for the sound of the band while trying to produce our own tracks, but we were still working separately. The second half was the songs we already had in our idea pool, so they were already more established and we brought them together because we felt that they fit with the ones we had already produced ourselves. But with this album, there was more of a beginning to end collaborative effort. We all had in mind how we wanted to build the songs and how we wanted to structure them. From designing the cover and the artwork, to the feel and layout of every song, even the order of the songs, we basically had our hands in every part of the production. This one feels like our first full album from start to finish. *turns to Gabby* If you want to add anything…
Gabby: I don’t think I can. I think you said it all.
See, you guys do agree! *all laugh*
Gabby: *turns to Ronen* That was so compassionate of you!
*roughly five minutes of interaction with fan visiting the coffeeshop*
So Gabby was letting our guest in on a little secret that you guys are working on some new music.
Band: *sounds of excitement*
They’re excited! *laughs* Would you care to give us any sneak peaks on what we should be looking forward to?
Gabby: Well, it’s very fresh. I mean, Morten had just come into town so that we can start putting together these new ideas. *laughs* We’re in the process of discussing them, but we know it’s going to involve very vocal driven, sort of neo-soul elements that’s a little more minimalistic and an acoustic kind of feel to it.
Morten: We’re planning to put out two EPs with five songs each this year. We have decided to really try to flatter our primary instruments, which are drums and vocals basically, in order to free up some sonic space. It will also, give a different live performance, as we’re trying to strip it down a little bit as opposed to trying to recreate the sound from the recordings, which gives us a chance to be more focused on the audience and the story on stage. There’s a lot of technical stuff to do in our current live show.
Ronen: I think we’re feeling a little more confident and stronger about what we want to say. Obviously we think about each song, but we also think about the body of work as a whole and not just as singles. So we’re trying to have stronger concepts within our music, and since we’re more familiar with what we can do and what we feel comfortable with, rather than having one song and then another song and trying to see if they work together. We feel more united, and it’s fun to have that broader view of a project.
Morten: Our band actually came together kind of by accident. We were just friends that wrote music for individual projects, but then we started combining our ideas and writing together that we got tighter and more accurate with what we are good at and what we wanted to do. So it feels like an arrowhead in a way.
And kind of touching base on what Ronen was saying about wanting to have a more cohesive unit for the songs instead of just having ‘this song,’ and ‘that song.’ Do you feel that singles-based releases are kind of more of the norm now? Do you think that’s what music consumers are more attuned to, as opposed to full-length albums?
Ronen: If I had known what people would want or think, I would probably be in a different place.*laughs* I would say this, we know we have our audience that is eager to listen to what we have, and I think by sharing what we do, people are willing to have the patience to listen to an album by us. I don’t think our audiences like that single kind of format. I guess the advantage of being an independent artist is that the people that do know about you would give you their time and attention. We feel more comfortable that people that do know what we do would appreciate the body of work, and if there’s people that find one song or another appealing and that opens up the door for them, that’s great! I think this is the way we grew up with buying an album. Yes, obviously we’d listen to that one or two songs that you heard on the radio or got exposed to, but then again, the biggest influences that I had as a musician growing up was those songs that were, like, song number seven that I didn’t really get for the first couple of years that I had the album. But you’re still thankful that you were exposed to that. So yeah, I’m always thinking about that person who’s actually going to spend time listening to the rich journey throughout the album. We want to give people an experience because we hope that they fully listen to the album.
Gabby: I think it’s a very singles driven world, but only as a result of it being really hard to sell bodies of work. I don’t know if it’s because people only want singles because there’s a shrinking attention span, but I think that the industry is trying to adjust to a hard situation. I still think that it’s very valuable for artists to create bodies of work and not just one-off songs, but of course, they have to thrive in a world where it’s all about getting on someone’s playlist. Sometimes you don’t necessarily have all the resources to create giant albums that you can’t sell. We are very fortunate to be in a situation where we go out on the road and sell physical CDs, so for us it’s valuable to have something cohesive. That’s my take on that.
Morten: On a practical level too, we no longer all live in L.A. I live in Copenhagen, and that means that we do a couple of tours a year, so it’s nice to bring with us a new little selection of songs for each tour. We’re gonna do a spring tour for a spring EP, and then a fall tour for a fall EP, so that kind of ties into together. We think a lot about the live performances as well when we write music.
And would you say that you compose your music first or write your lyrics first? Or do they go more hand in hand?
Gabby: Morten and I typically sit down at a piano, come up with melodies, and riff off each other. Or we have ideas like song titles and little voice memos that we share, and then after that process we’ll create some sketches. Sometimes we’ll work off tracks, which is where we’ll start off some little sketch ideas…
Morten: Like little drum beats or chord progressions that we recorded some other time.
Gabby: And then after that we hand it over to our beat master, where he’ll typically put in his two cents.
Ronen: Yeah, we all have an itch for a song and have a bit of an idea or a direction that we want to take it to. We have a little inspiration corner, like, a list of what kind of artists that we admire or songs that we like, certain elements that we are eager to try and experiment with, just anything that we are interested in incorporating. We would kind of divide the work like that.
Morten: I feel like we have a little workshop where we sit down and go at it from different angles during time span that we decided on. And it definitely can vary from day to day. Some days it will be like, ‘Let’s do a mid-tempo R&B song,’ or ‘Let’s do something vocal driven here,’ or ‘Let’s have Ronen create a strange beat that he could scat over.’ *laughs* We’re very comfortable with each other and enjoy doing all of those things. I think it also creates a kind of variety that we feel works with our live shows because I find that too many of the same kinds of songs don’t really excite an audience.
Ronen: I think what I like about our process right now is that we can do anything that we could possibly imagine. It’s hard to figure out where to start because you can do anything, so sometimes what we do is establish a certain set of rules. We have a couple of boxes that we want to play with and then we try to be creative within that space. So that’s fun to limit yourself to try to do the best work because I think some of the best music that we’ve made had those limitations. We had to work over or around or try to come up with something new using older tools and methods. This way of creating borders and barriers and then filling them in is like a coloring book, first we create the outline, and then we fill it in slowly. Hopefully with not too many eraser marks. *laughs*
Sometimes we need the eraser marks!
Ronen: *laughs* Or the undo button.
If only we had an undo button that worked on real life. *all laugh* So, Gabby and Morten, you release your own solo work as well. How is working on your own separate projects similar or different than that of the Ebb & Flow works in regards to the songwriting and the recording aspects?
Morten: I just finished mixing a solo record that I have been working on for a couple of years. It’s been very different from working with Ebb & Flow because I haven’t really involved anyone in the process. I wrote the lyrics and the music, produced it myself, and it was until the mixing process when anybody heard any of the songs. I’ve been very secretive about it because it was a challenge for me to try and believe in my own ideas and not compromising in any way. I was curious about what I would do if nobody else had an opinion, and that’s been fun for me. I also ran the risk of it being horrible because I didn’t have anyone giving me feedback, *laughs* so I could have written horribly embarrassing lyrics or missed some golden opportunities because nobody presented them. Working with Gabby is like a dialogue. We constantly question and sharpen each other’s ideas, so there’s definitely an advantage to working together so that you get to see the subject from different angles. And then, of course, there’s also compromise, and sometimes compromise is not as artistic as you would like it to be. With co-writing, you run the risk of finding the boring middle ground, but there are definitely pros and cons to working alone and working together.
Gabby: I would mirror everything you just said. I hadn’t released any solo material in a while, but I think I have been a little challenged by sitting down by myself to create songs because I’m very used to the Ebb & Flow dynamic. I’m very happy with that format, but there’s a new standard that’s been set when I’m by myself. Sometimes I’m a little bit more critical, and even bored at times because it’s just more fun when you have someone else in the room. You get to have someone to ping pong your ideas with. It’s easier to let an idea die when you’re by yourself, at least it is for me. Aw that sounds so sad! *laughs*
That’s why they say that it’s dangerous to leave us alone with our thoughts.
Band: *Sounds of agreement*
Gabby: I guess that’s the art of being able to, right? It’s also waking up and deciding that your thoughts matter beyond anyone else’s reach or validation.
Ronen: Or in this situation, finding someone that has the right balance of validating your points, but also constructively criticize or help you shape your ideas. That’s those two jell so well as writing partners because there’s a chemistry that works. When you work with other people, sometimes you just go, ‘Woah, ok, this is different. You can’t put your finger on it, but it’s difficult to pinpoint why it’s working or not working.
Morten: I’ve co-written songs with many people over the years, and Gabby has been very easy and pleasant to work with. And I always have a good flow with her.
Ronen: Get it? *all laugh*
We love bad jokes on the blog!
Morten: Bad jokes are common for us. *laughs* I also found it hard to finish my own project without her. What I did though was I hired a guy to mix my record so I would have to finish everything before that date. I recorded vocals for like six songs the day before because I wasn’t ready until I had to finish it. *laughs* With Ebb & Flow, it’s easier because we all hold each other accountable, and ask each other for completion so we can move things along. So that’s the benefit of working in a group.
Ronen: And you can share the load. One of us can be like, ‘Oh, could you take a look at this?’ It’s that ability to be able to ask, ‘What do you think about this part?’ and to test out new things. It’s great to have that.
And it’s always good to hear about how band members have such a strong chemistry. There’s so little bands that even have the original members from beginning to end. I think you can probably count them on one hand. *laughs*
Morten: Yeah, we are thinking about finding another drummer, but we haven’t discussed it with Ronen yet.
Ronen: Bad jokes again! *all laugh* It is amazing though, because we spend at least a couple of months in a car together on the road. While sometimes we do want to murder one another, *Morten laughs* there is still that challenge of wanting to stay together to make more music. I honestly think this is the most pleasant experience I could imagine with spending so much time with people, so at this point, it almost has as much to do with the people and it is for the music. You’re lucky enough to come across their life experience and maturity, and all those elements are just so hard to find in people nowadays.
Morten: I think we also have an interesting dynamic. Gabby and Ronen are married, Gabby and I write songs together, and then Ronen and I produce music together. We have sort of our one-on-one connections all the way around, which makes us a strong pyramid of action.
Ronen: We’re a good menáge.
The dynamic trio!
Band: *sounds of agreement*
So Gabby, do you think that women in the music industry need to portray themselves in certain ways in order to be successful? And of course, the other members are welcomed to join in on the conversation.
Ronen: Well as a woman… *all laugh*
Yes. We’ll start with Ronen. *laughs*
Ronen: Definitely should not be the first to answer this. *laughs*
Gabby: Women should be humble and always let a man speak first in order to be successful. *all laugh* I feel like this question is difficult because it stems from a lifetime of conditioning that comes with the female experience. I do think that there are things that women are more hung up on than maybe the opposite gender thinks about, and I think it falls in line with the visual aspect. I think women have a tendency to let that weigh into how they validate themselves. I think how sexual we portray ourselves also plays big part, but I do think that expectation from both women and men to include that element in music making needs to be toned down. I think it takes away from the art itself sometimes, so my take is that you don’t need to portray ourselves in a more visually attractive, more sexual manner than we need to. I think we’re mainly in an industry that worships youth and things that are young, fresh, and first. The older I’ve gotten in the industry, I’ve found there’s a pressure to be allowed to represent and feel proud of where I’m at in my age. I’ve had direct comments expressed to me that I’m ‘over-the-hill’ at twenty-five, and I have found myself in a number of different situations, specifically with men, commenting on how I should either lose some weight or dress a certain way. I’ve even heard, ‘You can’t be this kind of artist now because you’re no longer that age. You’re not a young artist anymore, so it’s over for you make a mark in some kind of way.’ I wrote a song called “Power,” and it’s a lot about not giving your power to other people or letting the conversation be dominated by a man’s perspective on my career.
Morten: I definitely think that there’s a big difference between men and women in the music industry. When Alicia Keys chose not to wear makeup, it was a worthy of a press release, which to me is super weird. It was like, ‘Oh my gosh! She’s not wearing makeup!’ Nobody has those kinds of expectations of men. Also, with being a gay artist, I don’t think I respond to the same things that straight men respond to. I often find very sexualized female performers to be frustrating. I feel like I’m like, ‘Put on some clothes so I can hear what you’re saying.’ It’s very distracting. I notice it more than heterosexual people do because it’s a part of the dynamic that you’re used to also off stage. I’m over here like, ‘Why is she wearing no clothes? I don’t get it, she’s just singing a song,’ but it’s just become so normal in every other aspect.
Ronen: I feel like the sexuality element of the industry is the easiest thing to sell. It’s kind of like making candy sweet, rather than trying to give people fruit rather than sugar. It has to be sexualized because it has to be sold to young people as they’re the easiest target. But with being a more mature or older artist coming up in this world, you kind of get over it. As we’re trying to be a pop band, when people hear the word ‘pop,’ they think that we have to be a certain demographic of people. But for us, the word ‘pop’ means something else. We’re thinking about adults who are listening to this that want something that’s not super avant garde or super weird, but something that has a good beat to it or has a nice melody they can follow along with a topic that is serious or deep, or not approaching something from the simplest point of view. We think of more mature adult pop when approaching the topic, so I think if we will present the characters as more mature then I think that empowers everybody. It shouldn’t be about if it’s a man or woman or if they’re young or old, if the topic is good and it’s important then you should explore it. I mean, Joni Mitchell was singing about things that people feel are ‘mature topics’ at nineteen, so it shouldn’t matter what age you are to do the kind of music that you want to do.
Absolutely! So moving along to Ronen and Morten, both of you have been heavily involved with music education, do you think that music education programs are really important if you want to fully understand and make a career in the music industry?
Morten: I am a fan of education!
I hope you are! We kind of need it! *laughs*
Morten: I have a masters in vocal performance and I have lessons in song playing, piano playing, lyric writing, and performing, and I think all of those things have obviously shaped me into the musician that I am today. I also think that there’s a lot of self-taught people that have great, beautiful careers, so I think there are many ways of doing it. Also, I don’t think that all musicians are cut out for academia per say, but I think it’s helpful to know as much about music as possible when creating it. I also think it will make working other people easier if you can explain what chords you’re playing, or what the form of a song is from sharing your music in a written format. But there are so many ways of making music, and tons of famous musicians that didn’t receive a proper music education that are still great artists. I also feel like there are a lot of things that I could have spent time learning about the music business that would be relevant to me now that weren’t included in my education back in the day, like marketing or promotion or sales or finances. Those are a big part of my actual reality now, so even though those are not directly music, I think the perfect music education program in the world should include both music and business.
Ronen: Yeah. I would definitely back all of that up as a teacher myself. I work with drum students, but I also work with people who want to learn about production and music making. I see a lot of different students, but like Morten said, I also believe that not everybody is suited for academia. However, the advantage of being educated is that you can get all the mistakes out faster. Some people just get through it on their own, and that’s totally fine, but the advantage of a music education it allows you to debug the program a little bit faster. You can also be exposed to such a wide variety of styles and characters that you might find that niche that you didn’t even know existed, so that’s a big advantage of schools and universities. That’s why it’s such an important stage in people’s lives you have no choice to be exposed to different opinions and styles. Of course, there can be some of disadvantages. When you start off, you’re consciously incompetent, but you don’t really care, you’re just happy that you’re there and nothing really matters. And then, as you become more educated, you become aware of all of your flaws and all of a sudden you have everybody bombarding you with their opinions, which could be true or not true. After a while, you become consciously competent, and you’re like, ‘Ok, I know what I know. I can confidently stand by what I do know.’ I think the ultimate goal is to be unconsciously competent, where you are not thinking about what other people think about what is right or wrong. In the education world, there is always someone saying, ‘This is right,’ or ‘This is wrong,’ but when you go out into the real world, you realize that no one really knows what’s right or wrong. You’ve got to be out in the world and let people decide, but at least in the education environment, you can simulate that role play of the real world. And after a while, your instincts become what they are, and you don’t care about what other people think. You’re just confident about what you want to say and want to try.
And kind of touching base on what Morten was saying in regards to how he wished that he could have taken some classes in regards to the business side, which includes promotion. Social media is pretty much the prominent way for you to promote yourself now, especially as an artist. Do you feel like that causes any pressure on artists to constantly have something out, or have something to talk about? Or even just to portray themselves in a certain way in order to appeal to a mass audience?
Gabby: Absolutely. I think that for us, we thrive on having Facebook and Instagram because that’s where a lot of our communication happens. That’s where we’re primarily reaching out to a network of private contacts, people who book us for concerts, fans, things like that. It’s all possible because of social media. The content is valuable, but I also think that it’s exhausting to just see artists post video after video of their talents, and almost waters down the expectations of an audience. Maybe I’m too cynical about it, but I feel like the value of it becomes harder and harder to quantify, which is also why so many people consume music in a relatively free fashion don’t have a problem with it. It goes hand in hand with this need to sort of promote ourselves at all times, but also, it seems like everybody needs to be noisy on their social media spheres to get that job done. To me, that’s a little bit of the ugly side of it, but I do have to say that it has been positive for us to help promote our concerts and things in the ‘Do-It-Yourself era. It’s a double-edged sword for me.
Morten: I feel like the way everybody uses social media is pretty relaxed. It’s a good way for us to reach a large number of people in Europe, the U.S., and other places. When the music industry changed and record labels stopped signing so many artists, the money went a little bit away from music sales and social media became a welcome and necessary tool to tell everybody what you were doing. I used to be signed with a label with a group I was in before the whole social media craze, and there were people there who would send out press releases for us to radio tours and newspaper clips. That went away, but it was then replaced by my own ability to tell my story, which has been incredibly helpful. I’m still positively surprised about how many people know about what we’re doing, at all times. This guy who just met up with us a few minutes ago, I don’t think I’ve ever met him personally, but he knew my name and he would only know that from online.
Ronen: I would also add that with the double-edged sword that is social media, you have to spend more or an equivalent amount of time on the creative aspect all of a sudden. So while it gives you control of the conversation, you also have to spend more time trying to cater that platform and crafting that message, even though it should really be the music doing that. I feel that the biggest drawback with social media is that because people have access to everything, everything ends up being free. This is the age of information, and the most important thing that we have to share is what we know from the experiences and the knowledge that we have. But if the information is also free, then what’s the value of people? People are trying to put value for what they do, but it’s very difficult to make it into a business when everything is easily available. I think this is an interesting time where artists have to figure out the amount of funds or income that they can generate, so being more adventurous or taking more chances is shrinking. Free is not really free in a way.
Right? I totally agree. Nothing’s free, not even the air.
Ronen: No! Not in L.A. that’s for sure! *all laugh*
Definitely not. You have to park your car in order to go outside, and then pay for the parking. *all laugh* So as a group that tours nationally and internationally, what would you say are some of differences in regards to all of the places that you’ve toured in comparison to Los Angeles?
Morten: I think that the difference between L.A., and the US and Europe, it has to do with how saturated the market is with the arts. I think in Los Angeles, if we really contact everyone we know and do a lot of marketing, we can get maybe eighty to a hundred people into a room. But then again, we can play for the first time in a small German village and have several hundred people come. I do think that in places where there’s less going on, people are very willing to go out and experiment and listen to music. But L.A. has thousands and thousands of concerts and events all the time, so it makes it difficult to compete. There’s so much beautiful music happening every day, but nobody has the time to go see all of it. And with L.A. being just so full of artists, it makes it so that artists are not the market for artists. I mean, people who don’t do arts are more interested in going to concerts, so I do think that L.A. is particularly hard to perform in because there’s so many people who do music here.
Ronen: And it maybe ties into the other part of the social media aspect because it’s so saturated with artists that we end up competing with one another. Artists end up playing for free, or even paying to play, because they just want to be seen. And because the pool is shrinking, people have become a little bit more desperate to try to get noticed. These artists end up hurting each other because we’re competing on and the same battleground so to speak. And competition is good sometimes, but not to the point where we both end up losing some of the benefits. It’s a problem within saturated markets that we end up cannibalizing on our own resources.
Well that’s a fun term to use!
Cannibalizing of musicians. Sounds like a horror movie.
Ronen: It’s my new death metal band!
Gabby: Release that album on Halloween!
Morten: That’s why we’re so skinny! So many people cannibalized!
Ronen: Yeah, it’s all the rage! The new musician diet!
It’s like, “New year! New me!” The cannibalization of musicians diet! * all laugh* So a fun question for you guys, if you could go on a world tour with three artists, who would you choose and what would you name your tour?
Gabby: Well, I think Morten and I are in agreement about two artists in particular that we love at the moment. My favorite would definitely be Emily King. I think she’s awesome! She opened for Sara Bareilles not so long ago. New York based artist. Very soulful and very much her own person. I absolutely love what she does and I would just love to be on the road with her. *turns to Morten* Who was the other one again?
Morten: I love the British singer Lianne La Havas. I was standing next to her in the immigration line at the airport one day and I really wanted to be like, ‘Lianne do you wanna go on tour?!’ *laughs* She was wearing sunglasses so I don’t think she wanted to talk to anyone. But if she hadn’t worn sunglasses, I definitely would have suggested a tour. *laughs*
Ronen: She wore the sunglasses because you were staring at her for too long. *laughs* I’m thinking about bands that I think we would fit well with for my tour. Depeche Mode would be great if they were touring regularly. I saw them live in Turkey, and it was such an amazing experience. The visuals, the sound, the energy, all of it was fantastic. Maybe it’s my old childhood dream, but I think we would fit well on stage with them. Sara Bareilles is a good like Gabby mentioned. More adult, more mature, but still poppy and very creative and musical.
Morten: What would we name the tour?
Gabby: The ‘Tag Along Tour!’ *laughs*
Ronen: You mean the tour that all the bands would have to agree on a name for? *laughs*
The ‘Cannibalistic Musicians Tour!’ *all laugh*
Gabby: You said it. The best title!
Morten: Actually, Lianne La Havas did an album called Blood, and Emily King did one called The Switch. I feel like those little concise names have a rich imagery, so maybe we should try to find a juicy name that kind of signals change and growth.
Ronen: Metamorphosis! *laughs*
And then do a whole stage production from the caterpillar to a butterfly.
Morten: With some cannibalistic elements, like self eating or eating each other. *laughs*
Ronen: It eats itself out! It’s perfect! It’s a perfect metaphor! *laughs* We’re clearly brainstorming.
If the inspiration is there, who am I to stop you? *laughs* So speaking of names, how did you guys decide on Ebb & Flow to be your group name?
Gabby: *turns to Morten*I think we had been working on some tracks for your solo album, Pendulum, and there was a line in one of the songs that said, “pendulum, by ebb and flow, we come and go.”
Morten: The “Pendulum” song was inspired by the big pendulum swinging in the foyer of the Griffith Observatory. No matter what we do, the earth rotates and we swing back and forth, there’s nothing we can do to stop that motion. I think, it’s the same with the tide, the ebb and flow of water, it’s the coming and going. I think we felt that was very descriptive of a lot of the topics that we were interested in, like change and the pulls of life. We felt like it was a good name for us. It also had the three components to the name while still focusing on two main things, so we felt it kind of appropriate for a trio with two singers. It’s a little bit old-fashioned and a sort of Shakespearean, gives a little bit of melancholy and drama, which also fits our aesthetic and the storytelling in our material I think.
Ronen: Of course, some people think it’s ‘E.B.B. & Flow.’ *laughs*
Morten: It’s not a word that people use all the time, ‘ebb.’ It’s a weird word. *laughs*
It’s like, ‘Spell it with us! E…” *all laugh*
Ronen: B! B!
*turns to Gabby* You’re the ‘Ebb’ *turns to Morten* and you’re the ‘Flow.’
Gabby: *turns to Ronen* Aw, well I feel like because there’s two singers then you’re the ‘and’ Ronen. *laughs*
Morten: Now we have to define it by who’s the ‘ebb’ and who’s the ‘flow.’ *laughs*
Gabby: I think that rotates depending on our seasonal moods. *laughs*
Ronen: I’m happy that I’m the ‘and.’ I’m steady, you guys are the bipolar ones. *laughs* I’m always good. I’m solid. Never bothered.
Gabby: Pillar of strength you are. *laughs*
Ronen: Just holding the ends together. End! Get it?
Lots of jokes here today. *laughs*
Ronen: Oh my god, if you were only here to see this. *laughs*
And how do you guys balance your personal lives with your professional lives?
Gabby: We don’t. *laughs*
Morten: Well, it’s interesting to say that for Gabby and Ronen. They are married, and they spend 24/7 together when on tour. You are really intensely together during those times, and I’m amazed by how you make it work.
Gabby: So are we. *all laugh*
Morten: We’re kind of at work all the time on tour, so there is no personal life, but I have a little bit of space for myself. When we’re not on tour, we have other projects going on. Gabby and Ronen perform a lot in L.A., Ronen tours with a Mid-Western artist, Gabby performs around town on her own, and I’ve been working on a record of my own. I think those intense periods of togetherness, and then those intense periods of not seeing each other, it’s the best balance that we get. It’s the ebb and flow of our band! *bad joke riff*
Gabby: *laughs* I love it!
Ronen: Nailed it!
Gabby: And when I think we’re pretty good to tuning into each other’s needs most of the time, when we’re on tour. So that diminishes that kind of stuff. Especially on tour Ronen and I don’t have a lot of privacy, but we also enjoy doing things together, and experiencing a lot of things together, so that outweighs the daily annoyances. At least, we found a way to stay pro.
Ronen: And also, because we’re a little more mature in our age, we’re able to handle being on tour on buses for months on the road a little bit easier I think. We’ve all been in different bands, so we understand some of the etiquette. Sometimes when you’re on the road you’re on a different mode where you’re a little bit more careful and you try to be a little more sensitive. There’s a bigger picture, you have to make it to the show at the end of the day. We’re almost on preservation mode until we get to the show, so we make sure that we don’t party too hard and all of those things, because you don’t want to be an asshole on the road and you can’t just leave. You’re thinking about others and nothing about yourself.
Gabby: I’ve also found that there’s real security in being with people that I’m so close with. In a time when things are changing on a daily basis, it comes to be a great advantage. We’re driving to new places, playing to new people, petting new dogs, *Heather laughs* and shaking hand with new people, so it’s actually a really nice form of stability to have that kind of core. It’s like a safe zone, you know?
Absolutely. And if you can give your younger selves some advice as to where you are in your career and what you’ve learned as artists, what would advice would you give them?
Gabby: Become a banker.
Ronen: Buy Apple stocks.
Morten: I think I would tell him to be confident and consistent.
Gabby: I would say to not listen to anyone except yourself.
Morten: Anyone, really? *laughs*
Gabby: Well, I guess I would say that there are very few times where you need to allow other people’s opinions to weigh a lot. I’m not saying to be immune to good advice, but there are very few people that deserve space in your head. I think we as artists, it’s our prerogative and necessity to keep our individuality as much as possible because that’s what people come to see. It’s your impression on reality, and that can’t exist if everyone gets to weigh in on it too.
Ronen: Maybe like, ‘Pay attention to everyone, but be very selective of who you listen to. Trust your instincts.’ It sounds like a Disney line.
The Disney movies do prepare us for life. *laughs*
Ronen: *starts singing “Let It Go” from Frozen*
Wonderful! *laughs* What do you hope your audience will take away from your music?
Gabby: That their hearts will feel open and full. I’d like to feel like we suspend their reality to come into ours for a little bit, and tap into something that’s good for them. Being in the space together, making music is a wonderful way to exist I think, and we want them to be fulfilled by that.
Ronen: I’m happy when there’s a different expectation when people listen to your music on a playlist without knowing anything about the song. We hope that when they listen to it that they can connect with whatever the message is, or that whatever the message is resonates with them and they feel like they can appreciate a different perspective. Or, it resonates with something that they feel. But also, we hope that they will see us perform live, because we feel like our live show is where we can really open the door a little bit more. Our shows are very much involved with the storytelling of the song, where it comes from, and the inspiration, so we hope that they understand why we’re saying what we’re saying. If they can have that in mind when they’re listening to the song after they see us, I feel like that’s a great part of what I want people to take away from in the music.
Morten: When I listen to a great live concert, I feel like somebody gets me and understands me. I feel like I understand them, and it gives me a feeling of belonging in the world. I think that’s what live music can do, and that’s what I try to do with our music, to give people a feeling that this is a story that we want to share. If you’ve ever felt off, then hearing someone sing a song about how they feel off, it makes you feel great.
That’s why music is the universal connector. *sounds in agreement*
Ronen: That’s why it could work. Sometimes we play in countries where they don’t speak English. They might not understand it very well, or, on such a deep lyrical level, but they get the emotion, and they get the attitude behind it and what we’re trying to convey. It’s very interesting how you can convey happiness or sadness with a few chords and a melody. It’s very powerful to see people tear up or have this big smile on their face. We see the audience from a different perspective, and we get a chance to see that and especially so with intimate concerts. First couple of times we were doing that, it was like, ‘Woah!’ It’s quite hard to stare people in the eye for such a long time.
Morten: Especially when Ronen plays, most people are very constipated. *all laugh*
Ronen: Yes! So yeah, it’s interesting when you do small concerts and you have that eye-to-eye connection with the person sitting right in front of you. You can see that they’re into it, but they’re almost not aware of the expression they’re putting on. It’s like when you watch TV, you’re not aware of the face that you make when someone reacts on a screen. But we have that going on with the audience right in front of us, so it’s really interesting to see. I can see the advantage of when you’re on stage and the audience is just this big, black, dark void that you’re staring into because it’s much more anonymous. You can just stare into a blank space and perform to the imaginary audience that you’d like to have. But sometimes you don’t have a choice because you’re staring at them right there. *laughs*
Morten: I think Ronen‘s bringing up to the fact that we’ve been to a lot of intimate shows where you get the audience really close and you can see their face.
You can make friends with everyone! You just serenade each person in the room.
Ronen: That’s the goal! *all laugh* Sometimes you see that some people are frowning, and it kind of makes you think, ‘Is he unhappy?’ But they’re actually just really concentrated and that’s how they show that they’re really into it. *laughs*
Now I’m going to be self conscious about my audience face. *laughs* So apart from the two EPs that we are going to be getting this year, what other big and exciting things should we be looking forward to from you guys?
Ronen: Touring, touring.
Morten: We’re going to Europe twice this year, once in the spring and once in the fall. And I have a dream that one day we will get to make music for television. That’s a goal of mine that some of our songs can be used in some European series of some kind.
Well, we wish you guys all the best in the world!
About The Oaks Gourmet Market:
Located on the traffic heavy corner of Franklin Avenue and North Bronson Avenue in Hollywood lies The Oaks Gourmet Market. Since its inception in 2009, this neighborhood favorite is a great spot to pick up a high quality yet fairly priced bite to eat, or a boozy and/or cheese-y gift for that party you completely forgot about. Also, with being walking distance from the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, the Bourgeois Pig, and the Hollywood Sign, there is always a fun mix of locals and visitors coming into the shop, including some familiar faces that may have graced your eyes and ears at some point in time. Perch yourself at one of their various types of indoor or outdoor seating options and you might be able to catch a glimpse of the likes of Amanda Seyfried, Emma Roberts, Kristin Stewart, or Lana Del Ray as you’re enjoying your freshly brewed cup of coffee or scrumptious meal. While I didn’t score any celebrity sightings when I was there, I was still very much happy with my giant, fluffy chocolate croissant and my extra-large Morning Cure house brew as I watched the many different kinds of dogs walk by with their owners. The overall experience was very home-y feeling considering I was in one of the most frequented parts of town, it’s no wonder the shop has been keeping customers satisfied for over a decade.