Winters End BTD Artist Interview
Written by Matt Zin on September 30, 2020
First I would like to say, I love the name of your band. Your interview comes at a perfect time as we move into the winter season. I am excited to talk to you about how your band name came about and dig into your music. Could you tell our listeners where you are from?
Winters End: We’re from Sydney, Australia!
I cannot believe there are only two of you making this frickin awesome music! It’s amazing! Have the two of you been playing music all your life? Note to our listeners, these two fabulous artists are brother and sister. Please do tell us how you two decided to hook up and work together. How did you come up with your band name?
Christopher: Well we have both been playing music from a very early age. Marissa started at the ripe age of two and I started at the age of 8. It wasn’t until just under four years ago that we actually decided to work together with our music. Marissa had been in a band and I was very envious when watching them play live. A short time later the band broke up which hit Marissa pretty hard. It was at this moment that I offered to start a new band with her. That was how Winters End formed. Early on we had our mate Anthony Lazarou join the band on bass guitar but he unfortunately left the band to move to Melbourne to study. The name actually came about as Marissa is born in Winter and I am born in spring so we found the middle ground.
Do you write your own songs? Who does most of the writing?
Marissa: Christopher writes all percussion parts, and I write the music and lyrics. We write all of our own material.
It sounds like you have had a very successful 2014. Please do tell our listeners all about your exciting year. What do you see for 2015?
We had a very exciting 2014. Our current single Walls was released in July and received abundant positive reviews from worldwide blogs. We were humbled by such a positive response and it was through these positive reviews that we were invited to play at two international music festivals. We were fortunate enough to play in Toronto at the Indie Week Canada Music Festival in October and again at the Youbloom LA music festival in Los Angeles in November. It’s been an amazing year for us. Playing to international crowds has been a surreal and amazing experience. We look forward to 2015 and getting back to North America to play once more. We are also heading into the studio in April to record our next single. We’re very excited to be working with Lachlan Mitchell who produced fellow Australian band The Jezabels albums Prisoner and their EPs Easy To Love and Dark Storm.
I totally dig your song, “Walls.” Could you tell our listeners what this song is all about?
Walls relays the kind of love that is from the outset unfortunately unrequited. It speaks of the numerous obstacles that obstruct the way when you fall in love with someone that for whatever reason you will never have. It shows that where there is an iron will there is not always a way. Walls is upbeat enough to keep you moving but pensive enough to provide you with the emotional cribbing sometimes required when you’re feeling alone and in love.
What instruments do you play? How do you come up with a song? Does the melody start first?
Marissa: I play the synth, guitar and Taurus bass pedal. With a song I always write the music first. The lyrics are what stump me. I want to write lyrics that people resonate with, but my first priority is always the music. The piano has to be perfect, or the synth or the guitar. Until I am happy with that, I cannot write lyrics as these are superfluous if the music isn’t exactly as it should be. Once I am happy with the music I take great time and focus to write lyrics that I feel will be relatable, but also convey a meaning and feeling that are true for us at the time of composition.
Christopher: Marissa will often come to me with an idea and I will listen to it and instantly start going through different grooves tapping on my legs or using pens to tap away. It is then when we meet up in the rehearsal studio that the song comes to life. Marissa will often start with the melody and I will start beating away until I find the beat that best fits. Marissa will often start humming the vocal melody until she writes the lyrics for the song.
Can you tell us, what was your most memorable moment while you were performing on stage?
Marissa: The most memorable moment for me while performing was playing in Toronto and having the crowd up and dancing around the room while we performed. It was amazing to reach such a large group of people and to have them enjoying our set so immensely. It was also a thrill to speak with the people following the set and having people download our 2012 EP Staircase on the spot on itunes. Amazing to connect with people from the other side of the world after playing only one show for them. Toronto was amazing. We cannot wait to get back to Canada.
Christopher: The most memorable moment would be walking out on stage for a sold-out show at The Vanguard. We did our EP launch in 2012 and the venue was sold out prior to doors opening. It was an amazing experience playing in such a renowned and prestigious Sydney venue to so many people.
What’s it like being a duo brother and sister band? Do you two get along well? Who is the craziest, silliest and takes on most dares? Do you believe the because you are brother and sister that you are more in tune with each other or in sync?
Marissa: It comes with its pros and cons. Christopher and I tend to challenge each other, which is a great asset when you’re trying to excel as a band and define your sound. We push each other to be better. We both take such pride in our work and we really work well together in perfecting a sound that we’re both happy with. As with most sibling relationships we do have our battles, however I feel that such an intense relationship, where you’re fighting one second and consoling each other the next, is conducive to really intense and emotive song composition. We are both lucky that we have the common goal of reaching people through our music. It really is everything to us. There is no greater thrill than having the audience jump up and start dancing when we’re performing live. We put everything into our live shows and we’re so stoked to have so many people so willingly support us in our endeavours as Winters End. There is no greater feeling (aside from performing live) than composing music. Composing is the one activity that takes up my entire being. 5 hours will fly by and I won’t be aware of it. It will feel like 10 minutes, but it is soul-fulfilling and I cannot imagine a life in which I am not composing music.
Gig day… take us through how your day starts out and how it ends? What do you like and dislike about gig day?
Marissa: Gig day for us is ALWAYS PRESSURISED! We used to have a rule: We wouldn’t see each other or talk to each other on the day of a show, as we tended to both be individually nervous, wanting the show to go as well as possible, and as a result we would be more than ready to rag on each other. This became somewhat difficult in our overseas endeavors as we were staying in the same hotel and sharing the same car to shows etc. This, whilst fraught with arguments here and there, allowed us to grow and I think this was important to us as a band, as the more shows you perform, especially in an international festival circuit, the more you are going to be living in each other’s pockets, especially with rehearsals and sound checks on the day. I always feel really sick with butterflies before I get on stage. I think this is important as it gives you an edge. You’re hoping everything goes so well as you care so much, and so you put absolutely EVERYTHING THAT YOU HAVE into the show and I think this comes across through Winters End’s live performance. I like gig day in that it is such an exciting time. All day all I can think about is the show and once we’re on the stage, I never want the set to end. There is no other feeling in the world quite as wonderful as performing live.
I see you started a tour diary. What sparked that? Does it help you write it out and see what you have accomplished?
Marissa: We were approached by the AU Review to write a tour diary while we were in LA. This was great for us as it allowed Australia insight into our tour and what we achieved while in LA. LA is such an amazing place with so many amazing people. We had an absolute ball and we cannot wait to return. Sharing this with our fans and friends and family back home through such a prestigious medium as The AU Review really allowed us to take everyone on our journey with us overseas. It was definitely, and still is, humbling to read back over it, as we are still pinching ourselves regarding having traveled overseas twice in 2014 as an indie band to perform at two international music festivals. We feel so blessed.
Recording a song day… take us through how this process starts? What would we see and hear that day?
Marissa: The first part of recording day is the setting up of the many microphones required to mic the drum kit. This takes anywhere from 30 mins to 2 hours and is quite involved. Following this is laying down the drum track with a click track, followed by the synth and then the vocals. We love recording. It’s so much fun to get into the studio with what you have live, and develop it to sound exactly as you want for the rest of the world to hear. With Walls we were fortunate enough to record in Jim Moginie’s (Midnight Oil) studio and I was stoked to use one of his bass guitars to record the bass line. Such an amazing place. Fellow Aussies Silverchair recorded their album Neon Ballroom in the same studio. It was really humbling and awe-inspiring for us to record in such a wonderful studio. Our sound engineer and producer Ryan Miller was also amazing with careful guidance and close attention to detail, which resulted in the wonderful single Walls as it is now. We usually spend a whole day in the studio per track as this allows us to really hone in on the sound we’re going for, and also allows us time to experiment with any extra layers or vocal harmonies we might not have previously thought of. The final chorus lead in harmonies for Walls were composed on the spot in the studio and these really do add to the final part of the single.
Christopher: It is always an exciting day that’s full of nerves. But it is so much fun being in the studio. We both really enjoy it.
Another interesting song of yours is “Joke.” Those lyrics are powerful! Tell us all about this song? How long did it take to write? Did the lyrics come first or the melody? BTDR listeners want to know.
Marissa: Joke was written in 2011 prior to Winters End being formed. It tells the tale of your ‘first love’ and how their impact and effect on your life never really leaves you completely. It narrates the frustration often experienced when you think you’re completely over the person, and then all of a sudden they pop up in a dream, or you hear a song that reminds you of the time you spent together, and all of a sudden your subconscious mind throws you back to that period in your life. Unfortunately the ‘first love’ experience is often punctuated by intense highs and lows as you emotionally become an adult and this often results in sentimental feelings towards an ever unattainable experience from your past. Joke is testament to this, and reaches out to anyone who ever loved their first love long after they had stopped loving them.
We are going to ask you a few typical interview questions such as, who were your childhood influences and do you see a little bit of those influences in yourself while performing on stage?
Marissa: Childhood influences…Good question! For me Enya was a huge inspiration with songs such as ‘No Holly for Miss Quinn’ having a huge impact on me as a ten year old. As children, Christopher and I were lucky enough to grow up in the home of two music-enthusiasts. Whether it be popular music such as Phil Collins in Genesis, or Stevie Nicks, or Fleetwood Mac, or The Divinyls, through to the classics of Tchiakovsky or Bach, we were always immersed in a really diverse range of music. I think this allowed us to really approach Winters End from a common standpoint. Having been raised in the 80s we both really love the genre, and our stylistic influences are evident in the songs we create, whilst also being impacted upon by classical composers. Our song ‘The Story Ends Here’ is actually dedicated to the late Chrissy Amphlett, lead singer of The Divinyls, who are a huge influence for us.
Christopher: For me Phil Collins was my inspiration to want to learn the drums. Our family used to have a thing whenever Phil Collins came on the radio they would say “you did magic Chris”. My influences really range from 80s new wave classics to heavy trance and dance music. I think this is something that often influences the way that I play the drums. As a lot of my grooves are very heavily dance influenced.
Which song of yours is your favorite? Why? Which song of someone else’s if your favorite and why?
Marissa: Our debut single released in 2011 ‘To Be or Not?’ is my favourite song. It tells the tale again of unrequited love, but of a love that is more willing than not. The protagonist tells of loving someone and knowing that their love is returned, however noting that due to different obstacles, that their love is not meant to be. It is a song that is close to my heart and was written very easily and quickly.
Christopher: My favorite would have to be a song called “Story ends here”, which is a song that we always open our live sets with. It is a song full of 80’s vibes with a beat that you can’t help but have a bit of a dance to.
What music jams do you have in your car right now? Do you listen to yourself in the car?
Marissa: I am thoroughly enjoying Panama ‘Always’, Fractures ‘Embers’, Real Estate (all of their albums), The Morning Benders, Tame Impala (All of their songs), Apparat, Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Misun, Broadcast and Lotus Plaza. Christopher: I often listen to bands such as The Jezabels, St Lucia, The Griswolds, Unknown mortal orchestra and Rufus du sol. I have listened to our songs in the car but I haven’t for a while.
What do you like to do on your chillax days?
Marissa: My chillax days consist of surfing. I surf every weekend when we’re at home and it’s a great stress-relief. It is such a great feeling to ride a wave. I also love spending time with my partner and walking our dog together.
Christopher: For me going for a body board is my favourite thing to do. As well as spending quality time with my girlfriend and with my family.
We would love for you to tell our listeners where they can find your music? If you have any special shout-outs, please feel free to do them now.
Marissa: Walls and our 2012 EP Staircase are on both Spotify and iTunes. Facebook is also a great place to keep up to date with what we are doing and what we are working on. Our special shout out as always is to our fans, friends and family. As we say time and time again, it is only with THEIR SUPPORT that we’ve been able to travel overseas with our music. To all the people who believed in us from the moment we started out we love you. Our family is amazing and supports us constantly as do both of our partners. Thank you all so much and thanks guys for the interview. We’re stoked to be talking to Beyond The Dawn Radio in LA!