Wednesday Q&A: Well-Known Strangers

Written by on July 29, 2015

Once in a while, I come across an independent artist or band, that leaves me speechless. And I’ve been told, that’s a very hard thing to do! But they managed to do just that with their debut single ‘Another Sun‘.

Coming off their 4-track EP ‘Found‘, I’ve discovered one major setback on their smashing debut. With their strong songwriting, the powerful set of pipes, playful guitars and soothing cello, it is an absolute shame there are just 4 tracks!

Four tracks or not, this is one of my hottest finds this summer and why only share their music video, if we can get to know them a bit better instead, in this weeks Wednesday Q&A with Joe Adamek and Betsy Ade of, Well-Known Strangers:

The Dutch Guy (TDG): Can I borrow 20 bucks?

Joe Adamek: Sure… will you take a check?

Betsy Ade: Only if it’s for drugs.

TDG: When you looked into the mirror this morning, what was your first thought?

Joe: Damn Joe…really?

Betsy: Shower.

TDG: What was the last furry thing you touched? 

Joe: My noggin.

Betsy: A cat.

TDG: Can you describe yourself in one sentence?

Joe: Determined, hard-working, friendly, and humbled.

Betsy: I am a loving, compassionate individual with a passion for music, family, and truth.

TDG: What are your (musical) roots?

Joe: Roots go back to my small record player and my collection of U2, Beatles, Generation X, Kiss, Psychedelic Furs, and Jim Croce. My large posters on my basement wall and listening to my records day in / day out, drove me learn music. While I took piano lessons from 6 – 8 years old, it wasn’t until I got my first drum set (mix of Slingerland and Ludwig) in 7th grade that I started to take music seriously. During my time with my first band (high school) ‘Class Act’, I started messing around with my friend’s Strat and I’ve been playing guitar and writing music ever since. My parent’s were always huge on big bands, Lawrence Welk, and classical music, all of which had some level of influence.

Betsy: Simon and Garfunkel, all traditional musicals, Judy Garland, Jewel, Ani DiFranco, Ingrid Michaelson, Brandi Carlile, Jukebox the Ghost…

TDG: How would you describe your sound?

Joe: I don’t write complicated chord progressions, as I believe Betsy’s voice and Sacia’s cello can take what I write to an entirely different level.

I typically describe our sound as cello-infused indie pop rock with an occasionally dip into alternative.

Betsy: Our sound is rock with an undertone of pop, folk, and alternative. 

TDG: What’s involved in your songwriting process? 

Joe: Stumble on a riff, create a verse/chorus progression, then find a patterns and rhythms. I’ll usually pull together some lyrics based on what I’m feeling and then bring that to Betsy who takes everything to an entirely different (and better) level. We keep trying various things until we find what we like. Bringing Sacia into the mix takes things to yet another level altogether. Everyone in the band is so creative and energetic around development of our music.

Betsy: Songwriting is a beautiful mess. We get ALL ideas together and weed out the bad ones until we have a product we are proud to call our own. Compromise, acceptance, confidence, and honesty are all important elements in the process.

TDG: Which aspect did you enjoy the most while working on your EP ‘Found‘?

Joe: For me, there’s truly nothing quite like working with Betsy. As I described in the previous question, the time where her and I get together and write is a deeply creative and exciting time for me. The studio work with Nick Radovanovic (our producer) was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before as his methods and abilities made us all better musicians.

Betsy: I have learned so much through the recording process with Nick Radovanovic.  His expertise made us all better musicians. Also, I thoroughly enjoy my time with Joe when it comes to ground level songwriting.

TDG: Who or what inspires you the most?

Joe: I am deeply inspired by creativity and the impact it has on others. The feeling I get from watching others sing a song I wrote, or commenting on artwork I’ve drawn, inspires me to do more. Perhaps it’s a strong desire for internal recognition, but I love when my efforts positively impact others.

Betsy: The most inspiring aspect of this career is when I inspire or touch individuals with my music. If it is a note that I hit, a song I sing at a live performance, which moves people enough to dance, or a song that I wrote that fans can relate to deeply. That’s where its at for me.

TDG: What is the biggest misconception people have about you?

Joe: Due to the fact that I’ve been in many cover bands, most people (other than those very close to me) have no clue that I write music.

Betsy: We CAN be funny even though we are musicians.

TDG: How important is connecting with fans for you? What kind of connection do you have or do you like to have with them?

Joe: The fans are everything to me. While writing music allows me creative expression, it’s not the individual achievement of doing so that makes it all worthwhile, it’s the impact on the fans.

Betsy: Its one of the most important aspects of my career.

TDG: And social media is a big help in your opinion?

Joe: So far, social media has been instrumental in our growth. There’s no doubt it’s a critical element in success, until perhaps you get big enough where that isn’t as pertinent. Starting out though, it’s so important to build fans and connect through social media channels as the radio stations, news outlets, etc., aren’t always the easiest ones to grab attention from since they received hundreds/thousands of submittals each month. Once they do though, they want to see what type of fan base you have and social media gives a great snapshot at their fingertips.

Betsy: I am finding out that social media is one of the most helpful outlets in making a band successful.

TDG: What do you do to stand out from all the rest on social media?

Joe: I don’t know if we ‘stand out’ by doing this, but we certainly want to make sure we’re in constant connections with our fans by being responsive.

So many bands and artists keep some level of distance from direct responses, but we like to be very active with that.

Betsy: Constant presence. Responding to social media attention, thanking fans for support, plugging and sharing news about the band.

TDG: Who is currently on repeat on your iPod or Spotify playlist?

Joe: U2, The Cure, Imagine Dragons, Rush, Pearl Jam, Jewel, Brandi Carlile and Well-Known Strangers.

Betsy: Well-Known Strangers, Brandi Carlile, Ani, Sara Barellis, Bruno Mars, songs from “Annie” Carol Burnett version (1982)

TDG: What’s the best piece of advice you ever got when you started out and you think it would help other aspiring artists/bands?

Joe: Be ok with criticism and use it to improve, not defend.

Betsy: Do it all. Seize every opportunity to exercise your craft, big or small. You will find out who you are and more importantly who you are not.

TDG: Besides dropping this beautiful EP, what else can we expect of you in 2015? 

Joe: Thanks for the amazing compliment! We’re working on a ton of new material to put us in a position to not only play live but prep us for another release (LP or EP).

Betsy: Live performances and the release new material!

TDG: Got any last words of wisdom you wanna lay down on us before we wrap this up?

Joe: Avoid complacency whatever you do. It crushes relationships, careers, businesses, etc.

Betsy: Marry for money, love will come later…

Check in with Well-Known Strangers on:
Twitter: @WKstrangers
Facebook: /WellKnownStrangersBand
iTunes: Well-Known Strangers’ EP ‘Found’

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