We recently had the opportunity to speak with L.A based indie band, Ships Have Sailed. Read on to hear more from the guys that dared to record a mashup of Lorde v Pink Floyd because, why not? Enjoy!
Indie Minded: Hello and thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little bit about your band, Ships Have Sailed, and how it came to be.
Ships Have Sailed: Ships Have Sailed kind of started out of thin air. I had a few songs that I had written that weren’t in the same genre as my band 7Lions, the only project I was working on at the time, and I started recording them. I played them for some family and friends and they were like “What are you going to call it?” So it kind of started very naturally. I began focusing a bit more energy on the project writing more, focusing on production, and before I knew it I had an EP!
IM: Is Will still playing with 7Lions? How does the Ships Have Sailed experience differ from 7Lions?
SHS: Yes, Dan and I are actually both in 7Lions! Ships Have Sailed and 7Lions are quite different, but both are projects that I truly believe in so I’m happy you asked this question! 7Lions is a highenergy experience with two frontmen: Forrest who sings, and Prophet who is our emcee. So there are six people on stage. It’s a bigger experience and the music tends to be uptempo. Ships Have Sailed, by contrast, is currently a threepiece on stage, and our material is a bit moodier by nature. We do have several upbeat songs, but we’re not afraid to provide an experience that takes the listener through several “moods” along the way. Both experiences have translated well to the stage, and both myself and Dan love what we do with both projects!
IM: How would you describe the Ships Have Sailed sound and who are your main influences?
SHS: I suppose if I have to classify the sound of Ships Have Sailed, I would say it’s an “Indie Alternative Pop” band. That said, I like to provide a variety of styles within our style if that makes sense. For example, the “Someday” EP starts with “Midnight” which is a pulsing, vibey pop ballad, but then shifts into “Clouds” which is raw acousticliterally just one guitar and one vocal. Over the course of a sixsong EP, the range in stylistic expression is pretty wide and that kind of speaks to my vision for Ships. I like to keep my options open when writing for this project and not limit our creative range.
IM: You recently put together a mashup song that combines Lorde and Pink Floyd. Explain.
SHS: We were getting our live set polished up for our tour and Dan suggested adding a cover. I didn’t really just want to play a cover without putting a spin on it so I opted to think about it for a bit and about a week later, I literally dreamt the Lorde/Floyd combo. It jolted me awake and I ran to grab my acoustic to make sure it worked. It did, so I brought the idea into practice and we worked out the arrangement! It’s an odd combination, but we’ve gotten some incredible reactions from it, both live and also as a result of the video.
IM: What is your creative process like?
SHS: It varies honestly. Some songs I’ve sat down and written or cowritten deliberately, but others just pop into my head and write themselves. Notably, “Clouds” and “Someday” wrote themselves. The funny thing is that an idea doesn’t generally wait for an opportune time to present itself. “Clouds” decided to pop into my head while I was on a plane headed out of the country for two weeks with no guitar and no technology except my phone. It popped into my head with lyrics, a guitar part and a full melody, and I kinda freaked out for a second and thought to myself “I have nothing to sketch this out with. I’m gonna lose this idea.” So I ended up using the voice notes on my phone and just singing all the parts in separately so I would remember them. Yes, I did that on the plane, and yes I got some really funny looks from the folks sitting next to me.
IM: What are your two favorite tracks from your debut EP, “Someday?”
SHS: Oh wow, that is honestly one of the toughest questions ever! If I absolutely HAVE to pick, I would say “Midnight” and “Someday,” but to be perfectly honest I love every track on the EP. They each represent a different part of me or a feeling I was having at a specific moment in time and it’s hard not to love an expression like that.
IM: What are some of the challenges facing indie bands in today’s music industry?
SHS: Haha, how long of an answer do you want? I could probably write a book on the subject! ;) I think the biggest overall challenge for an indie artist is visibility. It’s easy to get your stuff out there, thankfully, but cutting through the huge amount of music that is out there and building a devoted fan base is tricky. We have been extremely fortunate in that area and truly appreciate everyone who takes the time to listen to our music and interact with us both online and off. I also believe that the fact that there is SO much music out there is a very good thing, but at the same time it presents a challenge when you’re starting out as an independent artist.
IM: How important is it for an indie band in today’s world to maintain a social media presence and interact with fans?
SHS: Oh it’s incredibly important! I try very hard to engage at a personal level with our friends online through the many social platforms, and I love doing it! It’s extremely valuable to start a dialogue with the folks that take the time to show interest in whatever it is you’re doing. There’s an opportunity to connect of course, but it also provides a really good opportunity to create a feedback loop and figure out what people like about what you’re doing and also what may not be working. That said, it’s equally important to appear live and connect with people face to face. We’ve been focusing heavily on that this past year, even venturing out on our first tour, and it’s been extremely gratifying!
IM: Another modern tool available to indie artists is crowdfunding such as Kickstarter. Have you ever utilized crowdfunding as a financing option and if so, what was that experience like?
SHS: We haven’t yet used that avenue, although we have considered it at times. I think it’s a really amazing concept for emerging artists, and I really like the model. It offers a different type of engagement from fans, family and friends, and I think having a diverse set of options when funding a project is always a good thing.
IM: If you could collaborate with any one musician, living or dead, who would it be and why that specific person?
SHS: Well that is another tough one. I’m answering these questions on the anniversary of John Lennon’s death so I’m going to have to say John Lennon. That being said, I do love collaborating musically with people in general. It’s amazing what small tweaks from someone else’s taste can do to a song and I love having more than one set of ears in the room while writing and producing!
IM: Looking ahead, what can we expect from Ships Have Sailed in 2015?
SHS: I’m so happy you asked. This is a really exciting answer for us! We are just finishing up our second album, and we’re preparing to release it in early 2015. I don’t want to give too much away, but it will be a fulllength record, and I’m excited beyond words at how it’s turning out. I cannot wait to share it with the world and see how everyone reacts! In addition to that, you can expect to see us out and about in a live capacity as well. We will definitely be touring in the United States, and we’re hoping to make our first voyage across the Atlantic as well!
IM: Before we let you go, we always like to ask, if we were to look at your phone or iPod, what would we find as your “guilty pleasure” aka someone you’d be embarrassed for others to know you listen to?
SHS: Haha, great question! I have everything from hair metal and melodic death metal to ethnic folk music and literally everything in between in my music collection and to be honest, I’m not embarrassed by any of it! If it speaks to you, listen to it! But I will say that Dan had a bit of fun this past year in the tour van with “Everything is Awesome” by Tegan & Sara + The Lonely Island. Anytime anyone looked a little droopy he would just silently turn it on full blast and it was a fun little bit of comic relief! :)
IM: Thanks for joining us and best wishes!
SHS: Thank you so much for the opportunity!