Q&A with The Bergamot

Husband and wife duo, The Bergamot know how to start the new year with a bang. On top of the announcement of their new album Tones, dropping on February 11th, The Bergamot also just embarked on a 48 state Unity Tour. The tour, which was crowdfunded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, marks the duo’s last tour with their 2002 Volvo, and at each stop, they are inviting their fans to come sign their car as a symbol of unity.

The Unity Tour kicked off on January 2nd in NYC. Catch The Bergamot on tour now, stay updated on facebook, and keep an eye out for new music coming soon!

Interview by Shannon Shumaker

You guys recently announced the release of your new album, Tones, coming out in February. What can fans expect from this release?

Tones has been a dream album to create. For the past four years we have poured our everything into this album. Fans can expect to hear a songwriting tapestry filled with rich stories, lush harmonies, and the classic Bergamot sound they have grown to love.

Yet, in many ways, Tones pushes the musical boundaries of our past works by tapping into relevant issues of growing up, living in the present moment, and expounding upon common frustrations which come from this technologically driven world we all live in. We think you’ll find the songs on Tones edgier than prior albums.

On the musical end, we added depth of sound by incorporating new instrumental layers such as a harpsichord, synthesizers, keys, violins, and even added a reversed electric guitar into the mix.

Is there anything that you really want to be able to accomplish with Tones?

Our greatest desire is to have this collection of songs connect on a deep, intentional level with our fans. We have poured our hearts out on stage performing these songs from Portland to Paris, and have realized the power of this album lies in the transformational connection each song has with our fans. Our greatest hope for Tones is that it resonates with, and brings joy to our fans.

How do you feel that you’ve grown or changed while writing and recording Tones? What does this album mean to you?

We released our last album, Static Flowers on June 9th, 2012 and since then our lives have expanded so much. For starters, we moved from Indiana to New York City, have toured abroad twice, tied the knot, and spent over four years writing, recording, producing, and fundraising via Kickstarter to create Tones. A lot of life has occurred since we started producing Tones, and caused us to experience much professional and personal growth.

When our fans listen to Tones, they will be listening to our story over the past four years – the joys and heartaches of our lives. We have overcome many obstacles, and we believe you can really feel that on this album, compared to our prior works. The album is raw and relatable. With our move to New York City, we made many mistakes finding a place to live, figuring out how to pay rent, and worked overtime to keep our business and relationship going strong.

On many levels we have failed forward into this new phase of our lives. It is an exciting time to be alive, even with all of the chaos going on around us. This album is a beacon of hope for us, as each lyric holds a timeless message; inviting the listener to delve in a little deeper each time they experience the music. As with the messages on Tones, we seek to understand the great mystery of life in the ordinary movement of our day-to-day experiences – from our morning ritual of coffee time, to inking a new song, or taking a moment to pause as the sunset flickers through the window of our Brooklyn apartment. Life is happening right now, all around us, and we are growing and adapting at a rate that often seems impossible. Yet we move forward gliding as gracefully as we can through life, striving to be more, to be better with every step forward.

We are very proud of Tones. It is a snapshot into the journey of our lives over the past four years. It is the greatest collaborative work we have ever created – from writing the songs all over America, to successfully garnering over 438 backers on Kickstarter to fund the album, to partnering with the production team and musicians in New York City and Nashville. Tones is representative of the work and support of hundreds of people and thousands of miles. We could not have brought this album to life without such a talented team of beautiful people surrounding us.  We are ever grateful for the lessons Tones has taught us, and how deeply it has enriched our lives.

On top of the release of the new album, you guys are kicking off your Unity Tour with the new year. This tour is special, because it marks your last tour with your Volvo, and you’re inviting fans to come and sign it at each date. How did you come up with this fun idea?

On October 21st, 2015 Nathaniel came up with the idea for The Unity Collective USA 50 state tour and documentary.  This idea was inspired by many interactions with our fans and the state of the world today.  After one particular show this year, Nathaniel was talking with a fan joking at a concert saying, “it would be so fun to have everyone sign the car” – that was July 11th, 2015. By October 21st, 2015 the full idea came into focus, and on November 17th we launched The Unity Collective USA Kickstarter campaign to help raise awareness and funds to make the tour and documentary come to life.

By December 19th, we had far exceeded our goal of raising $15k, and were off to the races building the craziest tour of our lives. On the 28th of December, we met up and interviewed Leah Tribbett, an up-and-coming documentarian, and by January 2nd, 2016 she was on a plane to NYC to begin shooting the documentary at our launch party.  The Unity Collective launch party was successfully kicked off in New York City at Rockwood Music Hall with fans from all over the world join us for the event. People from NYC, Austin, Cleveland, Hong Kong, The Netherlands, and London came out signing their uplifting message of hope and unity on our Volvo with 271K miles on it.  Our fans wrote beautiful messages all over the Unity Car only fueling the excitement around The Unity Collective USA tour and documentary.

As you can tell from the timeline, this project has been in overdrive since the moment of inspiration. Throughout its conception, this whole adventure had a feeling of great urgency.  There are simply too many people talking about what they might do. We wanted to just go forth, and do it.

We were performing in Paris just weeks before the terrorist shootings broke out, and I know that incident had a huge role in us saying “enough is enough” and taking a stand for peace now, not later. The fear in the world has become very, very real.  With each new day, we have the choice to choose love over fear. That is what this The Unity Collective is all about – bringing about a conscious collective of love, and sharing in our similarities while embracing our differences.  With so much fear in the world today we felt called to cultivate peace by collaborating with our fans and bringing-forth unity together.

You had a very successful kickstarter campaign to fund the making of your Unity Tour documentary. What drew you to the crowdfunding route for this? 

In 2014, we went out on a limb and tried Kickstarter as a platform to raise funds for our album Tones. Our goal was $30k and we raised $34k in 40 days! We were completely blown away by our fans’ support.  Even though there was a huge learning curve in using Kickstarter, we realized that we had created a recipe.  Since we already successfully ran a campaign, it only made sense to take that calculated risk, and do it again.

Beyond the platform itself, we love co-creating with our fans. They are our life force, our tribe. We love them all, and would not be where we are today without their support and love. These beautiful souls are the glue that binds the very fibers of our works.  Thus, on November 17th we set forth on a 30 day campaign with a goal to raise $15k, and joyfully with a few days to go, exceeded our goal by over 3K, it was yet again another success that we could not have realized without our fans.

There were some pretty awesome rewards for people who backed the campaign, as well. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

We wanted to create rewards that we would want.  What is better than a personal song written just for you? How cool is a gift like that? There is nothing quite like a song that is painstakingly written and crafted just for you, and gauging from the massive response we received, our fans agree!  Many times we’ll go straight to our fans and say, “Hey, what would bring you joy, what would you want us to create for you?” They tell us, and we listen. It works.

What can fans expect from this upcoming string of tour dates? What do you want them to be able to take away from these shows?  

The whole point of this tour is to break down the barriers between our fans and us. We want to become one force of love.  On stage we always give everything we have to the moment, the song, the fans. Now, we want to be able to invite our fans into the process by having them come out to our shows engage in the music, and add a little piece of themselves to the process by signing the car.  We will even be doing a few underground shows where we perform in our fans homes, art studios, farm houses, churches, and even on top of the Volvo itself! At the end of the night we want our fans to walk away with good vibes, high energy, smiles, and joy.

With the new album dropping in February, can fans expect to hear some more new music soon?

Yes, we will be dropping singles from Tones very soon. Stay tuned! The release date for the album is February 11th, 2016.  You can expect lots of songs, videos, and new music shortly.

The best way to get in on the action is to sign up to our newsletter via www.thebergamot.com. If you are reading this article and wish to host a house concert / car signing party you can connect with our team also via www.thebergamot.com, and perhaps be the next person to sign our car!

What goals do you have for 2016?

Breathe more, appreciate the now, and love with reckless abandon.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

You all rock, we are so appreciative of this opportunity to share our story with you and your fans. Thank you + Shine ON + Ever Upward,

Jillian + Nathaniel
The Bergamot

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