Interview with Secret Someones

Secret Someones is the new project from NYC singer/songwriters Bess Rogers, Lelia Broussard, Hannah Winklerand drummer/multi-instrumentalist, Zach Jones. Earlier this year the band released their debut self titled album Secret Someones and recently they also recorded a few acoustic music videos ahead of their national tour next year with Marianas Trench. 

Congratulations on the release of your debut album! How are you feeling, now that you’ve unlocked this new level in your career?

We are feeling fantastic! We’ve been playing these songs on tour for 2 years now, and the record itself was actually finished about a year before it came out. So as you can imagine, we had been itching to release it to the world and to have people at our shows be able to go home and listen to all the songs they heard live. It’s so exciting to hear the feedback from fans (which has been very positive!) and to hear which songs are people’s favorites. It’s also exhilarating to see people at shows knowing the record and singing along. We’re very proud of it and we’re thrilled to have it out in the world! 

Originally the four of you were solo singers/songwriters/musicians and then after having performed and toured together you decided to form a band. Your very first show as a band was on 31 July 2013 at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC. Can you recall any particular memories from that show or the few that followed?

That show was an extremely memorable one. We had spent the 5 days prior immersed in what we called “Secret Someones Bootcamp”. We basically holed up in Hannah’s apartment to arrange and rehearse the 6 or 7 songs we had just written. That may sound like there was ample time, but it was actually quite an intense time crunch and the songs themselves were completely new to us. Between all the new parts, new instruments (Lelia picked up the bass for the first time just for this band) and tons of harmonies, it was an incredible amount of work. The show was a few days later at Rockwood, and every friend and musician we knew was there. We were all so nervous to debut an entire new set of music we had just learned, and thankfully it went really well! 

How has your approach to recording and performing developed since you first joined forces?

Most of the recording we did was at the beginning of our time as a band, before we had really toured much. We’re really happy with how those songs came out, but there’s a comfort and ease we have with the songs now that you just don’t get without playing them every night on tour. We like the idea of road testing new material in the future and really getting comfortable with it before going back into the studio to record. Our live show is a huge part of who we are as a band, and so we’re excited to be able to utilize that more in the studio next time around.

What’s it like working with your producer, Chris Kuffner?

Chris is basically a 5th member of the band who doesn’t tour with us. He has an incredible ear and on-point musical instincts. We all arrange the songs together in a room, and Chris has a very big hand in the arrangement choices, as well as the sounds we use. He also co-wrote on a few of the tunes. He and Bess are married and we’ve all been friends for many years, so the whole thing really feels like a big family operation. 

You guys really embrace the world of social media by sharing moments of humour, countdowns for special events and more recently on YouTube you’ve released a series of acoustic music videos, the latest being forChase Your Shadow. Where were the acoustic music videos shot and did you need to do multiple takes for each video to make them perfect? 

The videos were shot at Bess’ house in Brooklyn. We did a few takes of each song and then picked out the best one.

Speaking of YouTube videos, who came up with the idea of creating the mockumentary series ‘In Studio with Matthew Davids’?

We were friends and big fans of Casey Jost (Matthew Davids) work. We had seen his Matthew Davis character in a series he did with Kevin Devine and we just thought it was so hysterical, so we approached him about making something with us and he kindly obliged. Casey is one of the funniest people we’ve ever met and such a joy to work with. 

Was it difficult for you all to keep a straight face while filming the series?

You have no idea. I’m not even sure how they managed to edit it together we were laughing so much.

There’s always a lovely welcoming feel to your acoustic videos that makes the audience feel as though they’re in the room with you. Have you ever casually performed at a friend’s home for a gathering or birthday celebration?

Our band actually started out playing house concerts! We did a whole tour of playing in people’s living rooms across the country. Playing in a small room with no amplification is such an intimate experience for both the listener and for us. It really brings the focus to the song, which we love. 

You’re taking a little break in December from touring, but will continue travelling with Marianas Trench from mid-January through to Valentine’s Day next year. How do you kill time when travelling between venues?  

We listen to a lot of podcasts and music, chat, take naps, and make up really strange jingles. You can find them on our Instagram account. 

What’s the most difficult element of touring?

Getting little sleep and feeling tired a lot of the time. Coffee is a lifesaver. 

I know you’ve toured parts of Australia before. Are you planning on making a return visit sometime in the New Year?

We don’t have any Australia tour plans in place, but we definitely hope to make it back there someday! 

Fast five questions for five fast responses:

What was your first job? 

Bess: Camp counselor

Lelia: I looked after dogs at a doggie daycare.

Zach: Playing drums in the orchestra pit for “Hello, Dolly!”  

Hannah: Babysitter 

When was the last time you saw the sun rise? 

Bess: The last time I actually watched the sun rise was a few years ago on my friend’s roof in Brooklyn. But I’ve definitely gone to bed as the sun was coming up countless times since then!

Lelia: A very early morning yoga class a little over a month ago.

Zach: I have a feeling that I’m about to see it on this flight from NYC to LA. 

Hannah: The other day when I stayed up really late/early finishing the last season of Lost. 

How old were you when you first began to sing? 

Bess: 9 years old

Lelia: As soon as I could talk!

Zach: I can’t recall a time when I didn’t sing. 

Hannah: Probably around 3 years old

Have you ever lost your house or car keys? 

Bess: oh god yes

Lelia: Ugh. Yes.

Zach: Yes   

Hannah: Just the other day, in fact. I’ve been mourning the loss of that key because it had palm trees on it. 

What is the title of your all time favourite film? 

Bess: The Big Lebowski

Lelia: Contact

Zach: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off  

Hannah: Fried Green Tomatoes

This interview was first published on 15 December 2015 for Amnplify.

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