We gave you a little taste of Cotton Wine in this post, which was a lead-in to our amazing Holiday Caroling bash. If you weren’t there to see this Nashville based Folk/Americana pop duo in the flesh don’t worry because tonight (01/16/14) they’re playing an intimate song-writers showcase at Douglas Corner Cafe. They take the stage at 6:30, and this All Ages show is absolutely FREE!. It is the perfect venue if you’re into up close and personal performances and there’s is almost always a chance to meet the bands afterwards.
Their self-titled and self-released debut album is gaining acclaim around town and the track “Corn in a Cotton Field” was recently featured on Lightning 100’s local music showcase, The 615. The sky seems to be the limit for these two and we recently sat down with Brandon James and Femke (pronounced Fem-ka) of Cotton Wine to talk music, life and bourbon. Read on after the jump for the full interview and to check out the video of the lead track off the new album “Murder Song”.
No Country: So it’s just Femke? No last name?
Femke: I just go by Femke because there’s not too many of those, as far as I know. My last name is too complicated for people to pronounce so just Femke.
Brandon: Like Bono, or Beyoncé.
NC: You both have interesting backgrounds, Brandon you’re originally from Toronto, Canada and Femke you’re originally from Holland. So how long have you been living in the states and what brought you both to Nashville?
B: I came (to the U.S.) in 2006.
F: I’ve been here (U.S.) since 2005. I went to Nashville a couple of times when I was living in LA, just to see what it was like, and Brandon, who was also in LA, did the same thing.
B: But we weren’t working together at the time. We were friends, but Cotton Wine didn’t exist yet.
F: We always tried to co-write but it never worked. Everyone in LA has like seven hundred different jobs, and it’s impossible to have time. In early 2011, it so happened, that I got this offer from Ten Ten Music (to write songs) and part of the deal was to move to Nashville. At the same time Brandon and his wife got pregnant and wanted to go somewhere where he can do music but is also good to raise a child, which was Nashville.
B: And it was closer to home. My parents now live in Atlanta, so it was kind of like getting closer but not too close … LA is a tough place to live. I’m glad I went there at the age I did, but it burned me out.
F: I had the best time in LA. I lived there for five years, but all I remember was it was such a struggle surviving. You’re never really living. Just surviving constantly. It was nice to come here to Nashville, and realize I can have a life and do music.
B: So Cotton Wine happened by accident. When we ended up moving to Nashville, Femke and I drove from LA together. I was bringing my car so we got everything packed in and grabbed a little guitar and thought ‘well we’re going to be stuck in this car together for 2,000 miles’ so we started writing songs. Whenever we got a little verse and a chorus we’d film a video with our phone, and when we stopped for a bit we’d upload it. Those videos turned into our “Song a Week” video series. They got a good response so after awhile we thought maybe we should do something with this. So, we combined forces.
NC: There’s the obvious comparisons to another oft-Nashville-associated guy/girl duo, The Civil Wars, but what sets you apart from them?
B: Well, for one, we’re still together.
F: Also, I think it’s mostly our sound. We’re much more edgy in our lyrics. We’re pretty outside the box. The record is very dark and edgy. [The Civil Wars] had a couple of edgy songs, but overall they were a little sleepier.
B: We have a little more up-beat thing to it, not necessarily positive all the time, but a little more driving of a sound.
F: We also focus on the live act so hard. For us it’s really important to put something on stage that keeps changing and moving and is a little more theatrical.
F/B: (laughing) Not yet!
B: But you never know what’s going to happen at one of our shows. We each play so many instruments, there’s always something new happening even if it’s just the two of us on stage. We really work hard on the entertainment factor.
NC: Are there any plans to incorporate more musicians into the live shows?
F: Hopefully in the future we’d like to have some more people but it’s definitely going to be different. Not just a regular band, always something different.
B: In terms of filling out the sound, so the live show sounds like the recordings, of course we’d love to do that when we’re making lots of money (laughs)… and can afford to hire people. But, until then we’ve gotta shine the stone we have, which is just us.
F: We fantasize about it in our recording, in the production itself. We ask ourselves ‘what if we could have anything we’ve ever wanted?’ and we’ll record that way. There’s no limit to our production because we play everything ourselves. We don’t have to worry about hiring musicians.
NC: Besides music, what else are you guys into?
B: I don’t get to do it very often but I love going out on long treks, like long canoe trips … I haven’t really explored the area yet, but I’m really excited about it. Oh, and shooting guns.
F: Music is pretty much it for me.
NC: You’re not into anything bsesides music?!
F: (Laughs) I love nature, running and just adventure. Going and seeing things … oh, and bourbon. That’s our preshow ritual.
B: When we first got here we wanted to go up to Kentucky and go on the bourbon trail.
*at this point I launched into a story about my time as a student at the University of Kentucky and my multiple escapades on the bourbon trail.
B: Oh, wow! There’s gotta be a song we can write about that.
F: We have to go … Cotton Bourbon!
NC: Maybe the sequel to your first album, Cotton Wine?
NC: Speaking of which, where does the band name come from?
F: We were drinking one night, bourbon actually, and we were going on these random band name generators online and it was all these crazy things like Virgin Pirates.
B: It was like the best punk band names ever, so if we were a punk band we would have had a name much sooner.
F: But none of them were really working for our Americana kind of thing but we liked the idea of having two words representing two different things. We want to be classy, like wine, but we want to be for the people like cotton.
B: And we’re in Nashville and it’s the south, so what’s the feel for the style of music we’re writing, who we are, the vibration … It just kind of came together and we always get the question ‘who’s cotton and who’s wine’? (Laughs)
NC: We think it fits your sound though.
B: I don’t know if we wrote into it or what, but it works.
NC: Is there anything else you want our readers to know?
B: We have a whole new set of songs we’re working on. I don’t know if it will be a new EP that we release this year or a full record, I’m not sure, but we’ve got some stuff in store.
NC: We’ll be sure to keep an eye and or ear out and thanks for your time, and see you at the show at Douglas Corner!
Check out Cotton Wine at Douglas Corner Cafe at 6:30 on 01/16/14. It is an all ages show and is FREE!.