The Bears of Blue River are pop, do wop, bluegrass, and folk. At least at first glance, but different influences and different era's begin to shine through from track to track. Some soft and innocent, others sharp and anxious. Gavin Wilkinson and Maggie Gard swap fronting duties, sometimes as often as verse to verse in an often playful, argumentatively flirtatious manner. The song writing seems to balance or sometimes discern amusing insights on relationships, growing pains, and other things entirely relatable even in their most nonspecific sense. Most of the lyrics seem to hit home and I’m terribly excited to see them at Bunbury Music Festival!
What were you writing about when you started? How has that evolved? Where do you see yourself evolving?
I was writing about my life and I still am. I think since then though I have learned about how to share others stories through a song as well. I first started writing songs under this name at the age of 19. At the time I was convinced I would die some rock star death before 21 so I suppose I was writing about things with that perspective in mind. Play music for a few years and you will quickly understand why there are so many songs bands don't want to play live anymore. Hah.
As for evolving, I just feel like I am maturing along with the music I create. I don't feel the same way about love that I used to so writing about it becomes less of this over the top thing. You learn to document the minor details. The things that make a day alright or the things that just seem funny about life. I have lost the desire to make music that even sounds remotely sad. If the topic is more of a Debbie Downer topic, you can bet your top dollar that I am going to make it sound like it's happy as Saturday morning cartoons. Life offers us enough chance for gloom and doom. I float through it and keep my chin up. I hope that comes across in the music I make.
What can people expect at a Live The Bears of Blue River show?
This has been something that has constantly changed over the years. This performance will actually be the last show for an indefinite amount of time due to this issue. I have been struggling with people's expectations for the band to always be this guy girl duo. It's my own fault for getting behind it a year or so into the band. I lost sight the band started as my musical vehicle and being branded as a band has messed with my head about it. I have built the band to many different sizes over the years including the six piece format we will be performing as for Bunbury. I can say though that I enjoy the band in its current format more than I ever have but a lot of the cats are session artists. I can't always take them out because I honestly can't afford it! You hit a point where you don't want your friends to play for free anymore even if you are because it just doesn't feel right. Maybe I am just a weirdo though.
If you could work with any artist, who would that be and why?
I love this question.
I am at an interesting turning point where I decide whether to continue performing under this moniker or under my own name. Getting to this point has left me with a thirst to work one on one with a producer. I currently super admire Richard Swift especially after his work with Foxygen.
In a dream existence though I would work with any Beatle who would have me. George Martin. The 5th Beatle would be lovely.
What is next for The Bears of Blue River?
I will tell you when I figure it out.
In all honesty though, I have toured relentlessly the last few years with this group and it's tough to say what lies ahead. I know the last six to eight months I have slowed down a little. I needed a little time to rest, not be so broke, and process my life. As a songwriter it is the best possible thing I could have done. I have finally had time to digest all the wild experiences I have had. Prior to this time coming I kept submitting myself to the oddest things sometimes just to be able to write about it including a brief stint being s guinea pig for drug testings.
Now I am ready to make the best possible record I can and share it with people.
I want to make music that helps people.
I don't know if that sounds pretentious to even think I could but I just want to make people feel better.
What's been you biggest moment so far? The time when you felt like this is why I do this?
About a year and a half ago I received an email from teenage girl. In that letter she wrote me that she for a long time had been battling depression. She had attempted to commit suicide and had been submitted to treatment. During this time she was allowed to listen to music. I don't recall how our music received in her hands but I am glad it did. She wrote me to explain that she had listened to our music endlessly throughout her entire treatment. She said it made her happy again. She started trying again. She wanted to live again. The more I learned about her unfortunate childhood the more this warmed my heart. She went on to explain that listening to my words had prevented her from trying to end her life again.
I can't tell you how that changed me. I knew there was a point to this.
I knew I could stop right there if I wanted.
What advice do you have for a new artist just starting out?
To be honest, I think it will always feel like you're starting out. The bands out of our generation will always have a new level to reach to if so desired. No one gets to be The Beatles again.
If there is anyone out there who sincerely wants advice from me, write me. I would love to discuss it on a more personal basis. I take Bill Nye's advice that everyone you meet knows something you don't know. I'm sure a new artist would have just as much advice for me as I would for them.