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The Songs & Stories Collective - Q & A with the Collective and a new single - Stars and Stripes

Interview with the Songs & Stories Collective

Hey thanks for spending some time answering a few questions, but I thought it might be nice to introduce yourselves to a wider audience now that the first record “Stars &

Stripes” is coming out on May 20th.

Q1, So the collective is made up of Geoff and Victoria from Country duo “Tennessee Twin” and solo artists, Sarah Yeo and Donna Marie. How did you guys all meet, as I can't imagine that you're all living in the same town for a moment?

We (Tennessee Twin) had the pleasure of meeting Donna Marie back in 2019 when she came to see us play at ‘Unplugged & Unleashed’. We had admired her voice and her music for some time, so it was great to meet her in person and we met up again a few months later at an awards ceremony in London. None of us had actually met Sarah, but we had been following her career for a while and been chatting a bit on social media and realised she was as lovely as her voice!

Q2. I guess the next question is, when did this “the collective” all happen and can you tell us a little more about that?

This collaboration was born out of the first lockdown in 2020. Livestreams became a mainstay of all musicians at that time and we had decided to join forces with Donna to do a one-off Sunday afternoon livestream for an hour, just for fun! We decided it would be nice to include another artist to make it into a writers-round and it occurred to us to invite Sarah and finally get to know her! DC Brown jumped on board to do the tech for us and it went really well! We all got on so well and our music complimented each other. It was so much fun that we decided to do the same again the following week – and this continued for 18 weeks in total! We ended up inviting a guest to join us each week (we had some fabulous artists, such as Sandy McLelland, Gareth Nugent, Cheley Tackett, Gasoline & Matches, etc) and challenged ourselves to write a new song for each episode, usually to a set theme!

Q3. So how does the song-writing happen, does everyone bring a song and you audition them, then pick a winner or do you decide on a theme and a chord progression and all pitch ideas in.

Our co-writing had to happen over Zoom, as we live in 3 different parts of the country! We’d generally start with a chat (and a cuppa!) and talk about what we had been up to, what music was currently inspiring us, etc. This would then lead naturally onto lyric/theme ideas, and we’d take notes on everything we chatted about to email round later. The following week we’d Zoom again to play through any ideas that had sprung out of the previous week’s chat. The songs just evolve from there, with a variety of lyric and musical ideas flowing in from everyone. ‘Stars & Stripes’ is a complete blend of everyone’s ideas.

Q4. Once the song was decided upon, how did you divide up the parts to be sung or played, as I imagine that might be tough or was it easy?

It was actually really easy in the end. Everyone is a multi-instrumentalist as well as a singer, but we all tend to gravitate towards our ‘happy place’ instrument! Vocally it gets a bit trickier, but, on this occasion, Donna was kind enough to write out the lyrics as a script, highlighting everyone’s parts! Harmonies are fairly easy as we naturally have 4 different ranges between us – Geoff, obviously, has the lowest voice, followed by Sarah, then Donna, and then Victoria tends to take the highest harmonies. We all fell into our parts really easily.

Q5. So, Stars & Stripes, the first single, tell us a little bit about the narrative behind the song. You are all story tellers, how did this particular song take shape?

It turned out that the subject matter for Stars & Stripes was a story we all, individually, had wanted to tell for a while, so the ideas flowed really quickly once we started discussing it. We are all seasoned performers who have been working in the music industry for a long time and we know just how much hard work it takes to be in this business! It looks very glossy and glamorous, but the truth is, it takes a lot of hard graft, long hours and knock-backs along the way. We regularly come across young, up-and-coming performers, who are a bit starry-eyed and think they can fall into the business and become an overnight sensation and this song was our way of saying to them “you can absolutely do this, you have the talent and the skills, but don’t be fooled into thinking this will happen without a lot of hard work and years of experience. Play the long-game, learn your craft, become knowledgeable about every side of this business and don’t be distracted by social-media hype!”. I guess we wanted to save younger artistes making the same mistakes we may have made years ago, this song is intended to be the musical version of someone holding their hand and helping them sidestep a lot of pitfalls.

Q6. So, can we assume that this is the first in a series of releases, all singles or is there an EP or album in the near future?

We definitely want to release more music, we have really enjoyed working together on this release. An EP is certainly something we have discussed, hopefully for later on this year.

Q7. Now that your collaboration has produced fruit, I imagine there must have been some talk of a tour or a series of shows, to give this collective a voice. Is there anything in the pipeline that you can tell us about?

Absolutely! When we did the livestreams we built up a wonderful, loyal following and they all asked us to please take the show on the road once we were allowed to. We did our first live performance last year in Manchester, to a sell-out audience and we now have a string of dates throughout 2022. The first one is on Friday 20 May at Cambridge Folk Club, followed by dates in London, Doncaster, York and Exeter.

Q8. That's excellent news, so where and when can we purchase tickets?

All the details can be found on our website: or on the events part of our Facebook page.

Tickets for the Cambridge date can be purchased via the Cambridge Folk Club website:

Thank you so much guys for taking part in our little Q & A, it really helps build a picture of the collective and give people that haven't seen any of the live streams to get on board. We hope to catch you all live very soon and we were lucky enough to have early access to the Collectives 1st musical release and this is what we thought.

Review of Stars & Stripes

by Rick Paris

So you wanna be in showbiz kid? Do you want it bad or are you one of these X factor wannbe stars, zero to hero in a blink of an eye, all lights, fast cars, parties and costumes? Well take a seat and let us tell you a story about the real music business.

As you can tell by my slightly tongue in cheek start to the review, the Collectives first song is about earning you stripes in the music business, a walk before you can run tale if you like.

And its a good tale to start off the Collectives new musical adventure, as with a lifetimes worth of stories to tell about the ups and downs of life as a budding, hopeful and the actual real life as working musician.

The song opens up with an electric guitar lick quickly followed by more guitars and drums to set the scene as Geoff kicks off the vocals in the opening verse. Female vocals (sounds like Victoria) then runs through the less than glamourous lifestyle of the biz, smoky bars, long drives and late nights.

The song develops as more female vocals join the song as it builds to the chorus, where we get the songs title and hook. "Can't reach the summit till you make the climb" followed by "You can't get the stars till you earn the stripes". There are some gorgeous layers of harmonies and bvs in the song but they reach a peak during the 2nd and 3rd choruses. It looks like the girls were riffing vocal harmonies just for fun.

There is a lovely little guitar lick that pops up throughout the song too at key times and the whole production is a really solid job from the producer Donna. Its not easy to do this when people are recording in all parts of the country and sending you their content. Its a real skill and the track sounds like its all been recorded at the same studio, which we know from the Q & A above, it wasn't, so great job by everyone.

The four members (Geoff, Victoria, Sarah and Donna) of the collective clearly have a very good understanding of their craft and of each other judging by the result of this new track and the continuing collaboration, its a true collective. We cant wait for the new chapter and if you wanna be a star, according to the Stories and Songs Collective, it looks like you have to be in it for the long haul!

The track is out on May 20th

Pre save and pre-order below

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