M897 Artist Spotlight: December 2014
The Accidentals' success is no coincidence
Story by LCC Radio Staff Reporter Sarah Spohn
college freshmen spend the summer after high school partying with their friends,
shopping for futons and mini-fridges for their dorm rooms.
Savannah Buist (19) Katie Larson (18) and Michael Dause (18) recently graduated high school, but their current lifestyles aren’t that of ordinary 18 and 19 year olds.
Two-thirds of the indie folk rock band met at Traverse City West Senior High. Both students in Philharmonic Orchestra, Savannah and Katie became friends, started the Tree Huggers Band, bonded over the White Stripes, and later became The Accidentals.
“Katie and I actually met in public (traditional) high school when Katie was a sophomore and I was a junior,” Savannah said. “She came over to my house to rehearse, picked up a random guitar, and started playing The White Stripes ‘We Are Gonna Be Friends.’ We were the Tree Huggers that night - later we became The Accidentals.”
After playing together for about a year, the duo transferred to Interlochen Center for the Arts. Here, they studied under the singer/songwriter program at the nontraditional school.
But the choice to leave their home and typical high school hallways wasn’t easy.
“Traverse City West Senior High had an amazing music program, so we were both unsure about switching schools, especially in my senior year,” Savannah said. “We are both glad we had the opportunity to experience Interlochen. We are really glad to have had both experiences in equal measure.”
The best of both worlds is exactly how the girls describe their collaborative music efforts.
“I tend to write mostly structured story songs, until Katie brings a new genre into it, then I get into it and write something like it,” Savannah said. “Katie’s songs are more abstract, always pushing the boundaries with our instruments. I think that is what makes us unique. One pushes, one pulls and the balance is never too much.”
Throw in a zany idea from band newcomer Michael, and the mixture is complete, says the band. “Michael has really added some texture to the songs. He throws out ideas jokingly, and then we keep them, much to his anguish,” the band joked.
Much like their name, some things just kind of worked out for the band, by accident. Gaining the third member was no exception. “We met Michael at Blissfest a year ago. He was singing an original song at Café Bliss open mic. We thought he was a really talented singer/songwriter,” the girls said.
Michael almost went with the usual post-high school plan-college, at Belmont University to study audio technology.
“We had some shows in Nashville and ended up hanging out with Michael while we were there, and really liked him. We all geeked out about the same things … and still do.”
After playing drums on a track, the girls invited him to play a few shows with The Accidentals. “He showed up with the coolest mini kick drum, (with Pacman painted on the front) a Cajon, some brushes, and a couple of cymbals. It was like he knew what would complete our sound. He never missed a beat the whole weekend. He knew all of the songs before we asked him to join the band. Sometimes things are just meant to be. The next week, he left college right before the semester to take a chance and tour with us.”
But the band’s success is far from an accident, they’re backed by an extremely motivating manager. The band reveals, “Truth is, we have a manager with a super high bar and she has taught us that we can overcome any obstacle if we are willing to work hard enough.”
And working hard the group is, recently scoring music for film festivals and selling their single “The Silence” to northern MI Shanty Creek Resorts for a commercial.
The mitten state will always be home to these musicians though, despite touring and recording all across the nation. “Michigan is home,” they said. “There are not many places like this place. The community of artists is tight in Michigan.”
“The Appleseed Collective was one of the first bands (downstate) to help us. They introduced us to the downstate venues and to their base. In return, we brought them up north for a couple shows and shared our base. That is how it works in Michigan. The Crane Wives have done the same for us, the Ragbirds have helped us out … the bands that succeed definitely collaborate.”
The list of accomplishments keeps on getting longer and longer, something the band is thankful for. That’s not to say it’s all work and no play, though.
“We have been given some amazing opportunities and we have worked really hard to ensure that the people behind those opportunities have no regrets about offering. All that to say, ‘we still like to play video games and watch YouTube videos.’”
While it may be hard for most to believe these already seasoned musicians are just teenagers, one thing people do believe in is them. And in turn, The Accidentals are aiming even higher for their next goals to achieve as a band. “It’s funny when people believe in you, how much more you believe in yourself.”
They joked in past interviews about landing a gig on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and performing on Ellen. But in reality, those dreams could very well become reality, given the unique sound, genuine drive and accidental, blissful nature of the group.
To stay in the loop of all things accidental, follow The Accidentals on social media. “The next couple of months look exciting. We have a bunch of things that are just starting to drop into place and we will start announcing those soon so hang on!”