Artist Spotlight: Fairground Saints
By Spike Brendle
Fairground Saints are an alternative country-rock band based in Los Angeles, California. Set to close out the local stage on the first night of KAABOO, I met them before the show to learn a little bit more about what they do and where they come from. The three singer-songwriters turned out to be some of the nicest artists I have yet to meet! Be sure to check out their new self-titled album, which was just released in August of this year, and watch out for them on tour soon!
SPIKE: You guys are fairly new; your first album was just released last month! Tell me about your musical backgrounds and how you all met and started playing music together.
ELIJAH: I think we all have separate journeys that kind of converged at this point. I’ve been playing classical piano since I was five years old, and when I was ten played in a kids jazz band until I was sixteen. That’s when I met Mason and we kind of started jamming together as a duo, we just naturally started writing together and that’s when we met Megan!
MEGAN: I have been writing music since I was about seven years old. I was teaching songwriting for a while all over the world for the music education nonprofit “The Young Americans, and once I was done with that I ended up in LA. These guys were a duo at the time, and they stumbled across me on YouTube and it all kind of went from there!
SPIKE: Can you elaborate on your writing process, as far as your album goes, as it varies in genre?
MASON: The cool thing about not sticking to one genre is that it allows the element of surprise on future albums. The last thing we want to do it box ourselves into a corner, where “we’re now a country band” or “we’re now a rock band”. We’re just writing songs that we like and throwing them on an album. Wherever the song feels like it’s going, cool. I think it’s smart, because everybody has a different opinion on what they like. It allows a diverse audience, which is pretty important.
MEGAN: I think another reason why it is so diverse is we all have a very different music backgrounds like, what we listened to as kids. I listened to R&B with my dad, so the soulful stuff on the album was probably brought in by me. The guys both have their own different inspirations too, so all of that fused together created that kind of “smoothie” of music that we now have.
MASON: We’re not really pushing each other in different directions; however we’re all putting our influences in the center and saying, “alright, whatever it is, then cool.
SPIKE: You played a few California shows so far and after this you're heading to the East Coast. Have you been to the East Coast to play any shows yet?
MASON: We were in New York for a little bit and then played in Nashville.
ELIJAH: Yeah! We did a “really preliminary” promo tour.
MEGAN: We played at Rockwood, in New York. We’re actually going back there; that was really fun. It’s so different, everything about it.
MASON: …which is great for songwriting because you have different life experiences that you get to draw from it. People are different from region to region just in how they present themselves emotionally, and I think that’s really fascinating. Like in California where, you know, everyone’s trying to impress each other; it’s not so much like that over there.
SPIKE: Any plans on a full US tour? How about SXSW? Have you played there before, or is that something you would be interested in?
ELIJAH: That’s the goal!
MASON: We would love to do that. What a fun thing to do!
SPIKE: What are some of your favorite places you’ve played so far?
MASON: Rockwood was cool! The Basement in Nashville was super fun.
ELIJAH: Yeah, Rockwood was pretty cool. It was intimate.
MEGAN: The Basement was really cool. It really feels like you’re in a basement, which was comforting for me because when I was little, I used to hang out in my basement all the time, I loved it. It’s just like, your own little space. It’s cozy!
MASON: We played in my hometown, at Standing Sun Winery. We sold out the show!
MEGAN: We broke a record! The people were awesome.
MASON: Yeah, we broke some kind of record there, so that was super cool! Also the crepe place was interesting.
MEGAN: They’re all interesting and they’re all different, but it’s a challenge! It challenges you as a performer and sometimes you just have to, make it work!
MASON: Like one time we were in Monterey, we played at this well-known winery, which was a little small tasting room. I walked in and was just upset! I didn’t mean to get so angry but it was just thinking about how to fit a five piece band into this little tiny corridor. I guess just making it work is part of the process of paying your dues, so we’re happy to do that.
SPIKE: Is this your first major festival performance? How do you like it so far?
GROUP: Yes it is! (laughs…)
MEGAN: We just got here but it looks fun!
ELIJAH: I like how big the stage is from a distance. Yeah, the big stage… it’s very large.
MEGAN: I really want to hit all of the food tents, the pizza one for sure. I’m like, a pizza connoisseur.
ELIJAH: She probably mentioned it like, at least six times on the way here. That’s not an exaggeration.
SPIKE: Who are you most excited to see while here? Are you here the whole weekend?
MASON: No, we’re just here for today because we have to go play some other shows.
ELIJAH: Allen Stone! Love that guy.
MASON: Yeah! Allen Stone.
MEGAN: He’s kind of playing at the same time as us. I want to catch Sheryl Crow, I loved her growing up. Foster the People would be cool, but see they’re playing at the same time as us too, so yeah.
ELIJAH: I wish I was just multiple people so I could be at all things!
MEGAN: We’ll go see No Doubt for sure.
MASON: Yeah we’ll stick around for that!
SPIKE: If you had a choice of anyone you could collaborate with as a band, who would it be?
MASON: Oooh…we haven’t ever talked about that!
ELIJAH: What about Father John Misty?
MASON: Yeah! That would be sweet! Or even like, I think it would be fun to collaborate with Blake Mills! Either one of those, I say “Yes.”
SPIKE: What have you guys been listening to lately?
MEGAN: I’ve been listening to Kasey Musgraves.
MASON: Her new album is amazing!
ELIJAH: I’ve been listening to that new Tame Impala album. It’s great. I dig it.
MASON: I listened to the new Mark Knoppler record. Oh and Max and the Moon, and the Blake Mills album; (even though) it came out last year but I’ve played that thing into oblivion. It’s pretty amazing.
SPIKE: I know you just released your first album, but is there anything you would do different on your next album?
MASON: I think we want to pull it back a little bit more and show off our personalities with our vocals, either individually or together; however it presents itself. But for sure, I think we want to slow down a bit, proverbially. Everything’s kind of “high octane” on this record, it’s designed to be kind of “ear catchy,” you know? That’s the way that I think you should come out of the gate but the second album I think it’s really important, too. What was that quote that John Mayer had?
ELIJAH: “The first album get their attention, the second album make them think, and the third album, blow them away.” That’s a great quote.
MASON: Yeah, we want to make them think on the second album, and also get to know us a little better, as people.