The Hot Seat | Major

Secret Someones Secret Someones
By Maura Harwood-- Staff Writer

Secret Someones is a New York-based alt-rock band composed of singer/songwriters Bess Rogers, Hannah Winkler, Lelia Broussard and multi-instrumentalist Zach Jones. I had the pleasure of sitting down with them to ask them a few questions before their recent show at New York City’s Stage 48!

MT: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today! Starting off simply, how did the band form?
SS: We’re all part of this community of writers and musicians that exists in New York and started playing together. We ended up doing a tour together because Hannah, Bess and Lelia were solo artists and we went out and did a bunch of house concerts and Zach played percussion for everybody. We all acted as each other’s band. People started asking us if we had made a record as group and we thought “well why don’t we do that?” That’s how we started!

MT: Where did the name come from?
SS: The name comes from a Laura Veirs song. Bess’ husband Chris Kuffner ,who is also our producer, thought of it and we had been going back and forth on so many different things. That was the first name we were all crazy about. We kept coming up with names we would like only to find it was taken by some band in Western Pennsylvania on Myspace. This one was wide open. Chris said it and it just sounded cool. It doesn’t really box you into any category. We looked it up and it was free and we bought the website that night!

MT: Do your New York roots or New York base influence you at all?
SS: Absolutely. We’re all part of this community that hangs out particularly at Rockwood Music Hall [in New York] and we go out and support each other all the time. We were all creating similar music. The scene is very supportive and there are some seriously amazing musicians in NY. It pushes you to do the best work you can because you can’t be a slouch here. New York has the most interesting players in the world. It makes you get better because everyone is so good.

MT: Who are some of your biggest influences?

SS: We all have many different influences from super folky music to dance music. But when we were starting to form our band, we were listening to 90’s rock, like Weezer and Nirvana and Radiohead. It gave us the direction that we wanted the band to go in. That’s sort of the foundation. All the other stuff kind of gets sprinkled on top. It creeps in.

MT: Describe your “I Won’t Follow” EP in terms of the songwriting and production process.
SS: It’s definitely harmony-driven. We really dig that. We will immediately start laying down harmonies when we write music. We are song-driven as well. Writing is a big deal. We take it pretty seriously. We tried to go pretty rock with this EP. It’s our first push into the music world and it’s what we wanted to get across. Two of the songs are our songs and it’s got a Nirvana cover that we recorded in Nashville as well as an acoustic version of “I Won’t Follow,” our single.  

MT: Do you all have a favorite song that you’ve written or put out?

SS: We love so many of them. Some of our favorites include “Heartbreaker” and “Chase Your Shadow.” Every song is really fun to play.

MT: What’s the group dynamic? How do you all work together and play off of each other’s strengths?

SS: We have fun. We’re all good friends, luckily. We spend a lot of time together. We goof around and we all respect each other. We push each other. We all wanted this to be the best thing it could be from the get go. We support each other and help each other. We have so much fun together onstage and people can see it immediately. We’re always aiming higher. You have to go outside of your comfort zone to get better and the limits of what you even think that you can do. We help each other do that.

MT: What’s a dream collaboration?
SS: We really love Kimbra or Robyn. Or someone like Blake Mills. He’s an incredible songwriter and guitarist that we all love. We’ve been on a Ryan Adams kick lately. We would love to collaborate with Paramore. We’d love to hear Hayley Williams sing some of our songs!

MT: What’s your favorite way to interact with fans/social media?

SS: We try to post something at least once a day on tour and interact with people that way. We like meeting people at shows and interacting with people from onstage. We always go out to merch and sign and take pictures. We used to do house shows and you know, you stay with the people who host them. You meet so many people that way. That all comes the most naturally as opposed to posting a tweet or something.

MT: What have been your favorite or most surreal fan experiences?

SS: A couple girls came up to us and said “you guys are so inspiring to us as women.” They said that all the women in the front row felt confident because of how confident we seemed. They said we changed their life which is really amazing.

MT: What’s next for you guys, in terms of touring, albums, etc?
SS: Our full length album will be out at the beginning of 2015. We will be out on the road a lot touring! We’re also going to have our first video out soon!

MT:Advice for aspiring artists?
SS: Practice. Practice. Practice. Listen to everything! Just work hard everyday and be nice. If you really want to do it, you just have to not give up. Things get discouraging and you get turned down and you can’t be beat down by those things. It’s important to find your collaborators and your people. It can be isolating when you’re a solo musician. It’s inspiring to play with other people and hearing other people’s ideas.

MT: Thanks for sitting down with us today!

SS: Thank you!
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