Bernadette: We’ve been playing music together for about ten years, but making music as Bern & the Brights about eight years.
How did Bern & the Brights form?
Bernadette: Bern & the Brights really started in 2008 as a moniker that I planned to use for my musical output---whether that was solo or in a group; I expected the musicians to come in and out, but that I’d be the hub of the wheel, keeping an anchor. We played for a while with a fairly consistent group of musicians, but things changed over time. And so did our music direction, moving away from purely guitar-focused rock to something more atmospheric and electronic. Over the years, Catherine and I really worked closely as a team on every aspect of the band; her original songs came into the fold. Over time, the project organically shaped into the duo/partnership that we are today.
What are some of your musical influences?
Bernadette: Tegan & Sara, New Order, Jesus & Mary Chain, The Smiths, Phantogram, Small Black, Washed Out, Tune-Yards, Jeff Buckley, Wild Beasts, to name a few.
What is your writing/music making process like?
Bernadette: There are a few processes. There are songs that emerge when each of us writes alone. There are songs that come spontaneously from jams at rehearsals. And then there are songs that are really built while recording something, built through production—starting with a groove or loop---and we will work together to build out various aspects until it’s done---lyrics, arrangement, structure, editing, etc.
Do you have one car or shower jam that you love to belt out? (Even if it's embarrassing)
Bernadette: There is one song that I seem to play often very loud in my car and sing to, and that song is Cat Power’s “Ruin.” “Bitchin’, complainin’, when some people ain’t got shit to eat…” I don’t know. I really like that song. I wish I could say it’s Beyonce or something, but I’m dreadfully serious and no fun.
Can you choose one or two songs you’ve written that are your favorites, and tell me about them?
Bernadette: Hmm. Probably “Heart Wide Open.” There is a directness that I touched in that song but also a softness. It’s hard to explain, but there’s a mode one slips into (I think a lot of songwriters will say this) in which you go somewhere else for a bit, or you open so wide that music comes through or you can hear music in your soul and retrieve it. It takes quiet and clarity to access that, and I find that songs that come from that deep place usually have some emotional quality that trumps other songs. It’s completely intangible. Another song I have like that is called “Love Ablaze,” but I’ve yet to produce a recording I am happy with for that song. We’ll see.
Catherine isn’t here as I’m answering these Qs, but I’ll take the opportunity to rave about a couple of her songs that I think are amazing---“Lost in the Sea,” which we released in 2011. The melody and build are beautiful. “I Believe Anything You Say to Me.” I always ask her to sing this one in our current live set, and the room goes quiet and I forget my guitar parts, because I’m busy listening to her vocal and allowing it to slay me.
If you could collaborate with any artist dead or alive, who would you work with?
Bernadette: Brian Eno. I have always dreamed of working with Brian Eno on a record.
When we were spitballing names, that one had the best ring to it. I wish I had a better story haha. A friend actually came up with it, and we liked how it sounded. The problem is 90% of people can't spell it...
Names of band members and instruments they play?
-Phil Saraceno - Guitar and Vocals
-Mark Kuczynski - Drums
-Bill Gross - Bass
-Donny Saraceno - Guitar
What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?
I think at the core, we're a hard rock band. There's a lot of 90's alt-rock influence among us - Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains...Donny and I have always been big Deftones fans. Bands like AFI, Circa Survive and Thrice were big for us too, which I think you can hear a little bit of in our sound. So in that sense, it's got a little punk element to it. Then a few of us are into bands like Lucero and The Gaslight Anthem which have that folk-meets-rock-meets-punk feel.
Tell us a brief history of your band? How long have you known each other? How did you all come together musically?
The timeline of our band is a mess haha. But one of the interesting things about it is that it really started as more of a studio project. I had some songs I wanted to record. In 2012, I went in to record our first EP "Objects in Motion." Mark and I were playing in another band based in DC at the time, and he offered to lay down the drums. We released that record and started playing around town a bit acoustically. Bill came out to watch us a few times cause he's a good friend like that. He just so happened to play bass, so he came on board shortly after that. Somewhere in the middle of all that, Donny and I went to record up at John Collura from The Ataris' studio up in NY. Donny had worked with him in the past. So we went up for a week and recorded what would become our new album "No Worse for the Wear." Donny joined the live lineup on guitar early 2015. Then we released "No Worse for the Wear" in August.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
-One of the OTHER interesting things about this band is that where spread out along the mid-Atlantic - DC, NJ, Philly. So we kind of just get together to play when we can. Or we just feel it out on stage.
Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows
-We've played mostly in DC so far. But we will be heading to Philly for the first time on October 10th to play at Kung Fu Necktie. We'll be at Acre 121 in DC the week before that - October 3rd. Then we'll be at another spot in DC, The Wonderland Ballroom on November 11th. Last time we played Wonderland was one of the better shows we've played so far.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome the challenge? If so, how?
-The distance has made coordinating as a band pretty tough, as you can imagine. Luckily we've still got enough of a drive to make music to make it work. And having the ability to record at home and send songs to each other online has been a help.
What is the best way for fans to gain access to your music?
-We're on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc. We are selling physical copies at silhouettecities.bandcamp.com and at our shows (in case you're old school and still listen to CDs).
Anything you would like to share, from new merch to upcoming shows/tours or songs albums, anything I didn’t touch on feel free to add whatever.
We sat down withLelica (pronounced Laleesa) a singer/songwriter from New Jersey. Her latest album is titled "Without a Warning" can be purchased on iTunes
Jersey Audible: How did you get into music?
Lelica: My mom says I started singing on the changing table when I was little, or humming “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. I have always wanted to sing and always been really theatrical and into music.
Jersey Audible: What are some of your musical influences?
Lelica: I really enjoy such a variety, there is not one type or genre, I listen to everything. There is really not one particular person that comes to mind. Growing up I listened to Mariah Carey all the time, so she was probably my biggest influence when I was younger. I really listen to everything from country to rock, to pop, and everything in between.
Jersey Audible: Do you have one car or shower jam that you love to belt out?
Lelica: I’m always belting something out, whatever is on the radio. I can’t think of an embarrassing one, they’re probably all embarrassing if someone caught me belting it out.
Jersey Audible: Can you choose one or two songs you’ve written that are your favorites, and tell me about them?
Lelica: I like that question, I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that before. “Goodbye” is a song I wrote about being bullied. I was bullied in high school and was home schooled my senior year. It just wasn’t a good time and years later I decided to write goodbye, basically saying goodbye to my past and all those people. I hope the song will help someone else that might be going through something similar to know that it’s just a bubble and you are not in it forever. High school doesn’t follow you and the rest of the world won’t treat you like that.
Jersey Audible: I like your song “Dead to Me” can you talk more about that one?
Lelica: I’ll tell you, I’ve never really told anybody the full meaning behind it, my brother in law was killed eight years ago and I also had a very abusive ex-boyfriend, so it’s kind of a combination of everything that happened in both of those situations, it was my way to get it out there.
Jersey Audible: If you could collaborate with any artist dead or alive, who would you work with?
Lelica: I would really love to sing with The Fray. I love listening to their album and harmonizing with them, I just love them live. I would love to perform with Isaac Slade from "The Fray." (I let her know that The Fray play July 26th at the Borgata)
Jersey Audible: Your album “ Without Warning” came out in 2011, are you working on new material that you are excited about?
Lelica: We’ve been writing, I don’t really feel like I have all the tunes to make up an album yet, definitely in the next year or two. I like to take my time and get everything together that means something to me so hopefully it will mean something to someone else too.
Enter to win a copy of Lelica's latest album "Without a Warning." HERE
A: Nelo didn't start playing shows consistently until 2006, but Reid and I played off and on in college before then. I was writing songs and booking shows here and there. When we graduated college we formed the band immediately and started playing in Athens, GA.
Q: How would you describe your music to new listeners?
A: Hopefully Nelo is it's own brand of rock. This is always a difficult question to answer. I just call us a rock band. As for the songs, I hope they sound as meaningful as they are intended to sound. I try to dig deep when I write. Whether or not they're any good is for someone else to judge. It's up to me to be sure that the songs are true and honest. I always know when I've written something true. I pretty much write until I get there...and theN the song is done. We're an honest band. I kind of feel like saying "I'll give you something honest, you can decide whether or not you like it."
Q:What are some of your music influences?
A: We all listen to different music. Some of us are into rock, others are into jazz. I personally love and listen to all genres of music. I listen to movie scores probably more than anything, My favorite bands/musicians include: Sigur Ros, Elbow, Keane, Damien Rice, Ryan Adams and more.
Q:Do you have a favorite place to perform?
A: Granada Theatre in Dallas is pretty much awesome in all ways. It's a huge room with a lot of character and vibe. We love that place.
Q: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
A: Our drummer came up with his own work out routine the other day that pretty much just involves flopping and throwing your limbs around randomly. It's kind of a ridiculous, maniacal, Arnold Schwarzenegger-inspired bit. I think I want to implement that into our pre-show routine.
Q: What are your plans after this Spring tour ends?
A: When this tour ends I want to get back in the studio! I have a bunch of new songs that I want to start recording. We're thinking about an E.P. We learned a lot making out new album and I'm excited to continue what we've started with the new release. I like to stay as busy as possible. Right now we're all about our new record though. We want people to hear it! Our new album is by far the most personal album to date. It was absolute labor of love.
If you haven't heard the new album, check it out . I have listened to it on repeat at least 4 times since I first heard it.