Before summer last year, the pop rock creation STATES came into fruition. It brought together two cherished acts – Lydia and Copeland – and caused a wave of excitement and skepticism as to what the talent behind the name would create. An EP and debut record later, the group have solidified a distinct style, some of which have called “energetic” and “authentic”. While spending time away from the road, frontwoman Mindy White discussed the band’s entrance into music, the various challenges a vocalist faces and what the group have planned for the future.
How is your first day of December going so far?
It’s been great! Right now the band is home for the holidays so everything’s slow-paced after it got a bit stir crazy. We did some touring, recorded and released an album and now we’re spending time promoting it anyway we can.
Thanks to social networking, fans have more of a personal connection to an artist like yourself. How important has that relationship become to you?
It’s so important. As an artist, you have a choice to have that connection and to use things like Twitter. Some stay away from that. It’s an interaction we enjoy and meeting people in general is fun. It’s not a priority but you get the chance to meet a few great people.
Has making that connection affected the music you write and record?
No. States is a baby – our baby – and it sort of was our responsibility to run with it and make music. We spent time trying to come up with a sound, taking everything from a mix of 90s’ music to pop, to country, to rock, to punk. There’s always been a fear of what fans want us to sound like making you write what they want, but as an artist you just have to write and be hopeful that they take it, understand it and love it.
Aside from the different genres, what was the primary influence in writing the EP and Room To Run with Bryan and Stephen who spent years developing a very distinct sound with Copeland?
Experimenting played a big part. Before States even started, Stephen and I got together and decided to write music and he brought a lot of ideas and half-finished songs with him which I helped with melodies. I had worked on my own stuff prior, like acoustic songs, but we just meshed our writing styles and ideas as those didn’t really fit. We have a very similar sound and style and similar experiences and interests in love and music so us working together turned out really great. With more members, you can see the slight difference between the EP and the album.
The discs in terms of songs and sounds are different because we were experimenting more on the EP and wanted to get songs out there before we released an album. It was still States, but it was just a bit different.
“I was a bit anti-social starting out. I didn’t really talk to anyone but I started to make friends and interact more. It’s important to tour with other bands you don’t know so you challenge yourself and make new friends and discover new people.”
How did the chemistry between the group of you grow over time?
Aaron Sprinkle (producer) was there when we were recording and it was awesome. He’s worked with Copeland on other albums in the past and become kind of a friend as we all shared an apartment and worked on recording everyday. I wasn’t really able to write in the past with Lydia because they had their own songwriters and with this, everyone was able to share ideas and give 100 per cent while providing their own spin on things.
I’m a huge Copeland fan so as you can imagine, working with Bryan and Stephen.. this is mind-blowing. I was able to become comfortable with them because they were sort of in a similar situation with their band and they were so eager to contribute as they really wanted to write.
Your relationships with other artists have been well documented as you’re sort of a renown figure in the punk/alternative scene with your work with Lydia and even demos of your own..
Oh my God, those acoustic songs are so bad (laughs). Like really, they are. It’s funny though because there are a lot of people out there that do covers of “I’m Afraid I’ll Never Fly” which is great to see, it’s just, yeah (laughs).
Those weren’t that bad. They were actually really good and a lot of artists commented on those, which speaking of – as you know the band personally, how was your recent tour with Circa Survive?
Amazing. If I was 16 and you told me I would be supporting Circa Survive on tour, I wouldn’t believe you. I’d say “no”. I can remember going to see them played Warped Tour in Atlanta and driving home with a Equal Vision CD that had one of their very first singles on it. I played it so many times from then on (laughs). It was great touring with them because we got to see them perform every single night and it made us comfortable being on tour with them. At first, it was uncomfortable about being a pop band that’s supporting a band like that with people that have never heard of us but it started to change; kids bought our CDs and in the end the experience was awesome.
Do you think bonding with other bands has become more important than ever now? Almost every tour is full of groups that know each other and aren’t more or less stuck with strangers for a few weeks.
Yeah, definitely When you first go on tour, you have to set boundaries and start to make relationships with people. Going out of your element is important. Before the tour with Circa Survive, I was really close with Anthony and Brendan – and I knew the other guys in the band as well – and we hung out all the time. On a few of the Lydia tours, I was a bit anti-social starting out. I didn’t really talk to anyone but I started to make friends and interact more. It’s important to tour with other bands you don’t know so you challenge yourself and make new friends.
Growing as an artist, has it been difficult to regain confidence as a musician and perform new material?
Yeah, it has. Going from singing two lines to performing at the front of the stage wasn’t easy. There’s a lot of conditioning – both body and voice-wise – that’s involved. Getting ready to tour is a learning experience. Like I’ve actually started singing while running on the treadmill to build my voice and endurance. Even when you’re sick and you can’t talk, you have to monitor your voice to make sure it’s not strained further and can handle a show if needed because if you perform without taking care of it, there are people who will think you can’t sing. No matter what they will think that so you have to train your voice.
Has there been a lot of encouragement lately from other artists you know?
There’s been so much. Most of my friends who are musicians have been really supportive and there’s a few I relate to when it comes to music. In the past, others told me to do things differently and that I should focus more on being a singer but even when I started, everyone helped and showed encouragement. One of my closest friends – Hayley Williams of Paramore – has always been there for me and as I became involved with States, I’d talk to her daily about voice conditioning, touring and managing a band and the lifestyle with it. She’s been really supportive and so has my boyfriend; he’s been there for me and shown a lot of support for what I do and knows what to say.
Having been in music for quite some time now and established a start for the band and the others involved, what are you looking forward to in the near future?
Our main goal is to work our butt off! And not be home at all this coming year (laughs). This time next year, we want to be on the road (laughs). Promoting the album, touring almost everywhere and writing are our main goals. We are always writing new songs and we’re actually getting into writing a new record because of that, which is funny as we just released our first one. Working hard is important though because it’s what gets you to where you want to be.
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