IMOGEN UNLOCKED, an album of original songs inspired by the book, will be Wedding Day Rain’s full-length debut. The duo released an EP of Christmas standards, Rapt in Bows, in December 2013, which you can check out on iTunes and Spotify. They also plan to release an EP of original songs in the Spring of 2014.
I interviewed Kelsey about her book several months ago, and now it’s time to talk to Daron about the musical side of this exciting, multimedia project!
Hi Daron! Tell me a little about your history as a musician. Have you always been into songwriting? What instruments do you play? How long have you been doing this?
Thank you so much for interview Megan! Hello to the All The Write Notes readership…I’m excited to talk to you all.
I started playing guitar in my late teens and was playing lead guitar in my first rock band three years later. This is where my skills as a player really started to blossom—jamming with other musicians. Sure, you can learn plenty at home and practice until your face turns blue, but until you step into a stinky garage or a grimy rehearsal studio and start banging out songs with other people, your craft is missing something. There is a synergy that happens in a band situation that is really unmatched. When the group is working on a song and you all change to the same chord at the same time or you intuitively know when a rhythm will change, it’s amazing. It’s creation.
I like to think I can play anything that has strings, but my focus is on guitar. I play acoustic and electric guitar, bass, some keys, and I sing. Some of these things I do better than others, but those are the tools I use to express myself musically.
As for songwriting, it ran hand in hand with my guitar playing. I started writing original music as I was learning to play guitar. I was never really one to play other people’s music, despite playing my share of cover tunes. For me, I preferred playing my own melodies over other people’s music. I would use that improvisation to help me develop new musical ideas and transfer those ideas into my own songwriting.
Writing music comes fairly easy to me, so a lot of my early songwriting was instrumental. I’ve written plenty of songs with words, vocals, melodies, harmonies, etc., but I’ve found that my best songs have been written with other people. Of course my ego despises the fact that I just wrote that, but it is the truth. Know thyself.
Top three favorite songs of all time. Go.
Just three!? Wow…ok. Bristol Shore by Eric Johnson, Pride And Hunger by Lowen and Navarro, and With Or Without You by U2.
And now, what’s your most favorite song to belt out in your car?
Oh boy. I’ve got a few, but the first one that comes to mind is I Dare You by Shinedown. Brent Smith has some pipes and I like his vocal melodies (I really need to be warmed up to sing this well!). I will also offer a confession. Barry Manilow. Yes, I am a Fanilow! His greatest hits are always in rotation.
(Note from Megan: FANILOW!!!! Ahahahaaaaa Barry Manilow fans are so funny.)
How did you and Kelsey become Wedding Day Rain? And where did that band name come from?
Our approach to a band name was pretty simplistic. It rained on our wedding day. To paint the picture, we were barefoot on a mountain top in the desert southwest, it started raining, and then there were two rainbows overhead. It was an amazing display, and the pictures are fantastic!
What’s your songwriting process like? Do you and Kelsey write the songs and music together, or does one of you take lyrics and the other take melodies?
I mentioned earlier that writing music comes pretty easy for me. With that in mind, I will write something on acoustic guitar and play it for Kels. She will start to sing a melody and if the song gains ‘traction’ then we will write the lyrics together. This isn’t set in stone however, as either of us can contribute whatever we like to the process.
You and Kelsey usually do Studio Saturdays where you work on your music. What’s that like? Give me a quick rundown of a day in the studio working on Imogen Unlocked.
If we had a camera to record this, people would freak out! Being married to your bandmate is both very cool and very difficult at times. Artists have egos pure and simple and when your spouse accidentally steps on that ego, things can get messy. Over time we have developed a method that works for us. We figuratively (and sometimes literally) wear different hats while working on music. Our marriage is temporarily put on hold as we work through the recording process. We are able to offer criticism, respectfully of course, with the understanding that we are musicians trying to make the best songs we can. It’s hard work, but good work. When we are done, we take our hats off and say hello to each other as a couple.
As for the technical side of things, I will record the music and have it ready to be sung over. Since Kels is the primary singer, she will sing first and I will engineer the recording. Once her lines are done, we trade places and I sing while she runs the session.
Who are some of your personal musical influences/role models?
Since guitar is my main instrument, my main influences are guitar players: George Lynch – such aggression when he plays, Eric Johnson – melody and artistry, and Nuno Bettencourt – flashy and technical.
An interesting thing you might have noticed is that these guitar players play fast, heavier music and yet I don’t incorporate that into my songwriting. Imogen Unlocked is all acoustic guitar based and will be performed in the same way. Oddly enough I don’t have an explanation for this…something for me to ponder…
Do you have a favorite song on Imogen Unlocked?
That’s a hard question because I have several favorites, but I suppose if I had to narrow it down to one it would be My Strength. This one stands out for the way the song was written. I had a couple of pieces of music that I had been playing for months and nothing ever really manifested. Once we started writing songs for Imogen Unlocked, we smashed those two pieces together and My Strength was born. I also like the message that this song conveys. Sometimes people are judged by appearances, financial status, education, etc. My Strength is about the surprise felt by those who wrongly judge others when they find out just how talented and amazing these people can be.
Daron and Kelsey Macke have been making music together for over a decade.
Individually, they have experience performing for crowds of thousands and on national tv broadcasts, but together, they’re at the beginning of their journey. The pair married in 2005, and resisted the call of a musical union for a while, each continuing to work on their own projects. Creative collaboration requires conflict-fighting for the perfect line, exact melody, or specific mood-and inviting that tension into a relationship can be dangerous business.
In 2011, the music was tired of waiting, and songs began to form, whether they liked it or not. After several discussions about the separate identities of spouse vs. bandmate, Wedding Day Rain was official.
Their musical style is a mix of soaring harmonies, catchy choruses, and lyrics that linger. Guitar based instrumentation in a classic singer-songwriter style and modern vocals accentuate their singable, folky pop songs.