What inspired the name of the band? What are your influences and are they the same as when you started out?
I am Cree. Cree is me. I am the Walrus. Actually, what I am saying is I am Cree Rider. That’s my name. Pleasure to make your acquaintance!
My interest is taking the forms of rock, country and blues and bending them through my unique lens. I have been drawn towards the Americana side of music through great country and rock bands from the 1970’s mostly, but also slightly more recent bands. My influences that led me to this journey are bands/performers such as The Grateful Dead, Phish, Ween, Gram Parsons, The Byrds, The Beatles, Love, Calexico,Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, Wilco, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, pretty much any 60’s and 70’s country and rock music. I just love a good song with a cosmic twist!
How do you approach songwriting?
I view a song as an art piece that is decorating time and space. I like all kinds of art. Sometimes art is pretty straight forward and to the point. I write a lot of songs like that (much of the Cree Rider Family Band (https://open.spotify.com/artist/3XRXBKYzi8ShXOANoYJb1p) catalogue is written in that vein. I think there is a ton of value in being able to relate to a specific theme of a song, and being able to sum something up with just a clever turn of phrase. That is why old country music speaks to me so much. They take a simple theme anyone can relate to, and find so many ways to cleverly connect that with the listener. It’s just pure and great songwriting.
But some of the most interesting pieces of art are more abstract. I like artists that can take popular forms and bend them in a different way. I like when a piece of art is presented to the audience, and there is so much vaguary in whatever it is, that it is up to the audience to dig into the depths of it to find the meaning. This of course is very prevalent in modern art and all sorts of classic and modern poetry. But great musical artists do it too. “Visions of Johanna” by Bob Dylan immediately jumps to mind. “Crazy Fingers” by the Grateful Dead. Just poetry put to music, and it stirs something inside the listener that is not a simple connection, but a deeper reaction. We may ask ourselves, why do we like this song, what is this song about? And we may not always be sure. This is where I feel the newest release “All of the Love” (https://open.spotify.com/album/5OD8s7zd7unNYCANmkDbNm) sits. Not necessarily (at all) as brilliant as the tunes listed above perhaps. But my own spin of creating art for the listener to interpret and create a space for meaning within themselves.
so, I enjoy the traditional concepts of an simple love song, or a “let’s have a party” song, but I also to like challenge the audience with other songs that are a bit more shrouded in mystery, possibly darkness, danger…and rock n’ roll!
Why do you write the sort of music that you do?
Pardon the possible cliche of this answer, as perhaps this question is tough to answer without sounding that way. Being an artist is a calling. When I was a kid, I was told joining the clergy, that was a calling. Well, I have a calling too. It’s to be an artist and performer. It’s what I live and breathe for. I write the music I do because this is what comes out of me. I almost do it without choice. The tunes exist somewhere within me I suppose. The challenge is to call them out.
Beyond the personal, I write this music because music is a spiritual quest for all of humanity. We have always connected through music, whether it be tribal drums, folk music, gospel or psychedelic rock etc… It is a core essential element of the human experience. I seek to provide connection with my fellow humans. I want to share, laugh, dance, and heal. Together. I am most interested in what brings us together, not what separates and draws us apart. In this day and age, I find that to be a noble and important quest that I have been called on. For good or ill, it’s the path I have been called upon.
How do you decide what to perform live?
I perform in so many different configurations and settings, that is can vary from show to show. The main thing as a live performer is to remember to “play the room”. Depending of the type of venue and audience I get, it’s up to me as a professional to read the room and be able to deliver what is appropriate for that show. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by great musicians, so I am always confident that they can follow me down whatever path we choose. Having a multi-instrumentalist in the band (Scott Swartz plays pedal steel guitar and lead electric guitar) helps immensely. We honestly often will do a show “without a net” so to speak, no setlist and we will just read the room and call them out. Other times, we will carefully select a setlist for a performance we feel is calling for more of an “artistic” performance, choosing the sounds and themes we want to deliver to the audience that night.
What plans do you have for the future?
It’s pretty simple. Keep writing, keep recording, keep playing. It’s the only thing I can do. It’s the only thing I want to do. Music is its own reward. I have no need to worry about the grander scheme of navigating the music world, because as long as I do these things, I am a rich and successful man. Now, hopefully I can connect with others who can help in other avenues for success. And I have. My partnership with Lovecat Music has gotten me placed on TV shows on Netflix, HBO, Sci Fi Network etc… My partnership with Animal Farm Records is getting me exposed to a much broader audience. I am thankful for those relationships because I can’t do these things all by myself. I always try to surround myself with people who can help push the music out there further. But for me, I can keep it pretty simple. Where do I see myself in the future? Right here where I am now. Writing, recording, releasing and playing music to connect with others; to spread joy, love, happiness through music; to examine the human condition, to make myself and others feel less alone in this world, and to explore music as an artform, decorating space and time.
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