Columbus musicians Justin Ranly and Matt Lefeld are currently working on their debut release as Bright Night Alaska here at VMS. We talked to Justin about their music and this exciting new project!<!--break-->
How would you describe your music?
I would describe our music as challenging. It ties together some very unlikely characteristics whether vocal combinations or instrumentation and really has its own feel in my mind. I'm traditionally just a rhythm guitar player and acoustic. All of the songs and their final versions are way different than I had even imagined at certain points. So it’s rather interesting to see how they turn out. Its like anything else, a recipe, a story idea, even having a child. With all of those creations there is a beginning point and you definitely start off with a rough path and in the end they go where they go. The cookies might taste like the recipe. The story may become a great novel and your child could be an upstanding citizen or maniacal crazy person. Who knows.
What is your songwriting process?
The song writing process started with a collection of riffs and chord progressions that I and Matt both had and eventually we began composing more and more to each song, sort of a fun project so to speak which eventually morphed into what it is today. We may come in with an idea and work off of that or just a guitar lick that gets pulled into and stretched like taffy into something new.
The lyrical process usually takes form by just looping verses and choruses and coming up with melody lines and then working on actual lyrics. Sometimes they come out on the fly and in the moment and we keep them and other times we revise. I talk a lot and have a very active imagination along with an ample dose of ADD which I have dealt with for my entire life and just didn't know it. There are times that I truly and honestly cannot even recall how a song came to me or started to happen. They just did.
When Did You Start Playing Music Together?
Matt and I played in a band together in college and eventually parted ways when that band decided to try and make a go of music. We started collaborating again just about 2.5 years ago. We hadn't played music together or ever written anything together either and just sort of made it happen after like an 8 year hiatus in between.
My favorite part of the writing process is literally just conceiving the song and pulling it together. Whether that starts with a chord progression that just won't get out of my or Matt's mind or whatever.
I enjoy making the song. And what I mean by that is that at its simplest form whether it's piano and vocals, or guitar and vocals there is always that original underlying song that you can pull out a guitar and play and sing it and it still holds its weight. If it is only good in one form it really kind of kills it. Perfect example to me is listening to any band play live and then do acoustic covers of their music. I want to hear the voices and the intricacies of what's being done on the instruments. I want to see all of the song. Kind of like a mechanic looking under the hood of a car. If its just flashy on the outside with a good paint job and slick wheels but it has no guts in the engine compartment nobody wants that.
Where do you typically perform live? Any shows coming up?
We actually have never played a live set other than gallery hop at a friends store acoustically. We have focused more on writing and recording to prepare for live shows. When we come out and can play an entire 9-10 song original set will be a good feeling. I have played enough live cover shows to know how to play live, so this route is more shoring up the overall musical integrity prior to performing.
When do you hope to release the project? Where will your fans be able to get it?
We want to get the first EP out asap. As far as a date for the first EP I would hope by...July or August at the latest. Its difficult because of the fact that we both work full time jobs and literally get to work on this once a week for 4 hours. If I were doing music full time, we would be putting out an album every half a year. When one idea is out and recorded, another one almost immediately takes its place. Again maybe that's the ADD and when its out of my head I'm more apt to start with the next project. Prior to recording I would have a very difficult time writing something new all of the time simply because I wouldn't have enough internal memory to remember the songs. I'm sure there are songs I have written that I have forgotten and will never get back. We should have the music available on most readily available formats: iTunes, download cards, bandcamp, things of that nature.
Update: Bright Night Alaska's debut EP 'The Fall' is available now! Listen to/Download it on bandcamp below: