Letter to Memphis | From the Hip

gypsy letter-to-memphis_smAny movie made about me will undoubtedly be cast with D-listers.




I caught up with local folk band Letter to Memphis at Off Broadway, where they talked about The Pixies, Halloween frostbite, and more.

gypsy letter-to-memphis

What is your lineup?

The band usually consists of Gene Starks on guitar, Devon Cahill on vocals/ukulele, Paul Niehaus IV on bass, and Sarah Velasquez on violin/vocals, with Mike Murano occasionally laying down the beat on drums and Adam Andrews wailing on harmonica.

How did you pick Letter to Memphis as a band name?

DC: It’s actually a Pixies song title referring to Memphis Egypt off their album Trompe le Monde. I thought it had a nice ring to it. We sound nothing like the Pixies, FYI; it just sounds cool. And it seems to always keep ’em guessing.

Describe your show, both visually and musically.

PN: Our show is from the hip; each performance is a real time interpretation of a song. The show has a lot of motion in it, visually and musically, perhaps even emotionally.

Who writes the songs and what are your themes?

GS: Devon and I have written all the songs so far. They’ve been about a wide variety of subjects: calming an anxious mind, childhood awkwardness, love in distress, addiction…you know, the cheery stuff. But there’s always a hopeful undertone.

What is your songwriting process?

DC: It’s always different. There are times when it starts with Gene or myself messing around on guitar or uke. Once a general progression and feeling have been established, we start talking about the theme of the song, and we work on lyrics either together or separately. But many times it begins with a theme or a phrase, and ideas for a song can come at any time. I try to keep a pen on me at all times and have been known to scribble the beginnings of song lyrics on my hands.

gypsy letter-to-memphis_300Strangest venue or gig you’ve ever played?

PN: Strangest show, besides the obvious Strange Folk Festival, would probably be playing a Halloween party on someone’s back porch in the windy cold. What a trip! But our comradery pulled us through.

DC: Agreed. We were literally huddled together while we were playing, and did a lot of dancing to keep warm.

Tell me about your upcoming shows or projects?

GS: Now that Phases is completed, we can get to work on the next collection of songs. There’s a bunch that are almost done, and I can’t wait to hear what direction we take the arrangements. You can expect an EP early next year most likely, and we hope to hit the road for some longer tours in spring and summer of 2015.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see play the lead role?

DC: I’m sure a lot of girls would say this, but I would love for Zooey Deschanel to portray me onscreen. I’m actually a bigger fan of her music than her acting. You know she writes all the She and Him songs? People might think she’s annoying, but she can do it all, and she’s genuine and unafraid to be herself.

GS: Since any movie made about me will undoubtedly be cast with D-listers, I’m gonna go with Dustin Diamond. He’s such a dork, and his look is much like my unfortunate look circa 2009. | DL Hegel

If you get a chance to check them out, I recommend Letter to Memphis. You can find them at their official website and on social media sites Facebook and Bandcamp.

Photos by DL Hegel

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