Fairground Saints Find Their Musical ‘Magic’ on New EP
Ironically enough, it took moving to Nashville for Fairground Saints to fully settle into their West Coast sound: the kind of breezy country-pop they grew up listening to in California, informed by the male-female vocal harmonies often associated with groups such as Fleetwood Mac.
"I know, right? To come to Nashville and then have a song called "California" ..." bandmate Elijah Edwards tells The Boot with a laugh.
When you think about it, though, it actually makes a lot of sense: The trio has always been influenced by a California sound, but it took removing themselves from it, and focusing on what they love about it, to make that kind of music on purpose. Then, at the same time, they were surrounded by the robust and diverse songwriting community of Nashville.
"The things we grew up on are a part of who we are, and growing up on a California country sound, you love it, so you wanna make it," explains singer and guitarist Mason Van Valin. "To me, actually, it's very conscious. Because we're writing from our hearts, so that's a very conscious place to be writing from."
Adds Edwards, "[Being surrounded by other artists in Nashville] definitely forces you to look at yourself and what you like, and recognize that there's a plethora of really talented people here. It's been interesting for me, in the context of the band, because I've really been able to hear specifically what I like in music. It's been an adventure to hear the variety -- like, 'Oh, I love that,' or, 'Oh, that doesn't draw me in as much.' It's been a cool listening experience."
It was through this process of honing their sound that Fairground Saints finally nailed down the kind of music that felt true to them. In fact, that's how their newest EP, Magic, got its name.
"It's just that, at this point in our band career, I think we've found our magic," singer and instrumentalist Megan McAllister relates. "It took a long time, touring together and having released a previous album. It's all brought us to this spot where we feel like we're settling into who we are and where we wanna go. It just felt like the perfect name for it."
The group's move to Nashville had everything to do with getting to that stage in the process: "[The title track] was the first song we wrote when we came here," Van Valin recalls. "It was really cool to be in that writing process, because I think we all sort of settled into the information that came out in writing that song. For all of us, we all found our places. And it became really clear that we were in the right place."
As with any touring band, playing live is a massive part of Fairground Saints' career, and the trio knew their sound wouldn't be complete until the audience shared in its magic. They've been playing the EP's songs at shows for a long time now, though, and have seen firsthand how each one resonates with the audience.
"It's been very validating. I mean, it's the best information you can get," Van Valin continues. "You may think that some song is really fantastic, and you get out there and play it, and it's like a stick of dynamite that didn't go off."
Fortunately for this EP, however, the dynamite did what it was supposed to do, so to speak. "All of our instincts as songwriters, artists and entertainers were spot on," Van Valin says. "The things that we thought people were gonna enjoy because we rehearsed them and enjoyed them ourselves -- they did too. And so we put those songs on the record."
Adds McAllister, "Yeah, because it wouldn't be magic to us if it didn't carry all the way through to the people. Because the people are the ones that decide whether or not something's a hit. So for it to resonate with them is the completion of magic, in my opinion."
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