Seattle based duo March To May has just released their first EP The Water’s Edge, a continental-sounding folk project that blends the sounds of Celtic harp, Spanish guitar, soft percussion, and haunting strings with the lilting harmonies of the voices of Darren Guyaz and Beth Wesche. The result is an understated but passionate journey through the halls of musical awakening, essence, and love. There is fresh storytelling to be found in the opening track “The Monk and the Lover,” a romantic, moody piece ripe with world music sounds. “Count the Days” is a cheerful duet where lovers think of each other in the course of a day. “Embers” is an aching ballad of lost love set to the drone of a moody cello and the soft, dripping tears characterized by Wesche’s harp.
The combination of Guyaz and Wesche collaborating not only musically, but as partners in life, can certainly be likened to kismet. Guyaz has lived in places such as the Appalachian mountains, Montana, the Andes Mountains, and Pacific Northwest, all places that surely influenced his musical styles. Meanwhile, Wesche, the daughter of a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, also had her fair share of travel and influence from other places, also including the Andes mountains. She studied the Celtic harp, which is prominent in their album. Their meeting and resulting musical collaboration has blossomed into a joint creative effort that elevates their blended talents to something new and fresh. So what makes this duo tick? It was my privilege to interview them recently for Folk Renaissance.
Q: What is the significance behind your duo’s name March to May?
A: Our name is significant to us for a lot of reasons. In addition, to loving the alliteration and the sense of forward motion, the months of March to May were also our formative period – we wrote our first song in March 2013, and committed to moving forward as a band in May 2013. They’re also our birthday months (Darren was born in March and Beth was born in May).
Q: Where/how did you meet, and what led to your decision to form a duo?
A: That’s a funny story, actually. We met here in Seattle, but not, at first, as musicians. We actually started out as Craigslist housemates! But after a chance moment on a trip with friends – Darren was playing his guitar and singing, and Beth started harmonizing – we realized we had something special. We started playing around with writing music shortly after, and decided to move forward as a duo not long after we wrote our first few songs. It was clear to both of us that we wanted to move in the same direction, and that we had something worth building upon.
Q: Do you co-write your songs, or do you write individually and then bring them together to rehearse? Do you rely more on one instrument over the other for the purpose of songwriting, or does the process vary?
A: We write all of our music together – it’s a very collaborative process. Occasionally one of us will bring a more fleshed-out song to the table for the other to refine, but usually it’s the two of us working through the entire process together. We tend to rely a little more heavily on the guitar when we’re writing together, but that’s not a strict rule. And then, often, it’s the harp that helps tie everything together.
Q: It seems like the underlying theme in most of your songs is love, whether romantic love, yearning for a lost love or separated by distance, or love for the world (Crazy Universe). What inspires this theme in your songs?
A: You got it right. Love is definitely an underlying theme in our songs. We have this idea that for anything real – anything worth holding onto – if you strip a feeling or an experience down to its bare bones, what you’re left with is love. That can have so many different characters and flavors, but ultimately, it’s the driving force that keeps us going. We can all relate to it, and it’s what we remember when our lives come to a close.
Q: It’s sometimes hard to classify music within genres. Based on the sound of your music and vocal style, I would choose Folk as the best description, though lyric-wise, the songs do not fall into the category of traditional folk lyrics. Have you considered covering traditional folk tunes or writing music of a more traditional nature? Do you intend to continue in the folk genre or are you planning to branch out into other genres in future recording projects?
A: We’re pretty open-minded. We’ve definitely thought about covering some traditional songs. Beth’s definitely got a strong grounding in them, both vocally and on the harp, but we don’t expect very traditional music to become the core of our sound. We’re also excited about branching out and trying new things with our sound, whether that’s through collaborations with other artists, adding in different instrumentation, or simply exploring new styles. Both of us have actually expressed interest in bringing in some elements of down-tempo electronica at some point down the line. But we’re in no rush. The music will come when it comes, and we’re not inclined to force certain styles over others.
You can check out the video “Embers” by March To May. More info, including show dates, and be found at their website www.marchtomay.com.