Face to face with Zervas and Pepper

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Beautiful music created by the Welsh duo Zervas & Pepper carries tranquility and calmness into our crazy world. Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper have been a duo since 2007 and enjoy an impressive back catalogue of light, amiable tunes which are certain to put your heart at ease. The year 2015 saw Zervas & Pepper release their third full-length ‘Abstract Heart’ and in this interview Paul and Kathryn talk about their music, inspirations and quote their favourite musicians.

– Your new album ‘Abstract Heart’ has been out for a while now. You called it a more real record in comparison with your other efforts. How have your listeners been reacting to this different approach on the album? How has the feedback been?

KP: I guess when you start to write from a more  personal perspective you’re also kind of reflecting the lives of the audience as many of them will share similar life experiences and emotions to ourselves and will totally relate to this latest batch of songs, so hopefully ‘Abstract Heart’ is reaching in that little bit deeper and meaning a lot more to our audience than our previous albums. And yes, So far it seems our listeners are very much enjoying the insight into us as people and are intrigued by some of the subject matter in question.

– The album was partly written in India and California. How have these two places influenced you and the music on the record?

KPWe adore the music that poured out of California in the early 1970’s and it has always influenced our sound, so writing the songs in California is always fruitful for us, We also caught live shows from the likes of David Crosby, Jimmy Webb and Neil Young on our last trip out there so we felt deep in the groove of the sounds we love.

India is truly an assault on the senses so for a songwriter to spend time in such an exotic, beautiful and yet almost alien environment is fascinating, We witnessed first hand the deep spirituality in the music out there and seeing how close some people live to edge really churned up our emotions and set us on a path to making this record, When we returned home to Wales it was amazing how much inspiration we came back with from the trip.

PZ: There’s always a wealth of musical talent in LA and we certainly made the most of that by bringing in our friends Matt Malley (Counting Crows) and Marcus Eaton (David Crosby) for sessions for the album. India was an entirely different experience, it was a real culture shock and was thrilling as well as sobering, This was a life changing trip for us

–  If you could think of ideal atmosphere to listen to your music, what events do you picture it soundtracking?

KP: Our sound always works great outdoors, Summer festivals and the like and also small clubs/venues where we get to perform real close to the audience and create that intimate vibe.

– Your music sounds very beautiful and calm – as opposed to our hectic lifestyle. Places aside, what inspires you to write such gorgeous tunes?

KP: Thank you, the music has always been something to escape into for us, a break from the reality we live in. There is a such a raft of information available now and we are always surrounded by so many negative stories via the media that to tune that out and immerse yourself in something that makes you feel the world is beautiful is something we’d like to make happen in our albums. We try to leave out the modern cynicism’s of today and stay open to anything when we write.

– What is your main approach to your live shows? What’s the most important thing for you while playing live?

PZ: When we perform live with our six piece band we like to make the most of our fellow musicians and create a big sound as possible, but when we perform as a duo we like keep things really sparse and intimate, the harmonies get a little closer, the guitar lines delicate. The two are very different experiences but generally we try to keep an informal feel to our shows. We want people to feel welcome and in the company of friends, so they hang out with us and get into the music.

– What’s the most memorable live show of other band/performer that you’ve ever witnessed?

PZ: Shows that stay in our minds as great experiences are David Crosby and his band at The Troubadour, LA 2014. Fleet Foxes at Green Man festival, Wales 2011 and Pearl Jam at Milton Keynes in England also 2014, Eddie Vedder’s Anti War speech that night gave us chills, a great show.

KP: Father John Misty playing a solo show to around fifty people in a small London pub just before he’d released his great LP ‘Fear Fun’, back some years ago the late, great Richie Havens scissor kicking mid air with acoustic guitar in hand at small festival in our home town Cardiff Wales, blew everyone away.

– You’ve been in music for quite a long time. What is the most amazing thing that’s happened to you over all these years?

KP: Certainly getting to perform at some of the UK’s most iconic venues from London Royal Festival Hall to Glasgow’s Clyde Auditorium has been pretty amazing for us.

– What are your plans for the rest of 2015?

PZ: At the moment we’re enjoying working on getting our music out to new audiences overseas, it’s going really well, lots of great radio in the US and Germany so far, And if possible we’re also gonna try and set up some lives dates out there soon. We’re also now putting together another full  band UK tour for November this year, will be great to get out on the road again.

 – What’s your most favourite quote by another musician?

KP: It has to be our favourite Beatle, George Harrison, not just a legendary musician, he was also very aware of the bigger picture. His last recorded performance was unplanned and was during this last interview/performance he talks at lot about his life, He said 

“Fame is nice, it can give you heightened experiences. Money helps you get the things you want.. But once you have those things you realise that’s not the answer.. the answer is how to get peace of mind and how to be happy”

We live in a world that tells you to consume and desire but how many of us are truly satisfied with that.. It’s kind of the opposite to Kayne.. George was hugely talented, hugely compassionate.   

PZ: Donald Fagen –  “Popularity has everything to do with business and nothing to do with music“.

 

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