Premiere: The Accidentals Debut Video For “Wildfire” | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, April 17th, 2021  

Premiere: The Accidentals Debut Video For “Wildfire”

TIME OUT EP Coming In May

Mar 08, 2021 Photography by Aryn Madigan
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For a band like indie folk trio The Accidentals, losing live music in 2020 was a particularly harsh blow. Since meeting in high school orchestra, the core pair of Sav Buist, Katie Larson (later joined by percussionist Michael Dause) have toured almost nonstop across the country, at times playing more than 200 shows a year. Yet the band was able to take the restrictions of lockdown and use them as an outlet for their restless creativity. Pulling inspiration from folk, Americana, and alt rock, the trio collaborated virtually with a prolific set of guest songwriters for their upcoming EP TIME OUT, deciding to table their upcoming full-length record Vessel. The band has also returned with a video for the first single from the EP, “Wildfire,” premiering with Under the Radar.

“Wildfire” is, first and foremost, a song of comfort. After a full year of lockdowns, environmental disaster, and political turmoil, the band hoped to put a voice to universal feelings of frustration, exhaustion, and uncertainty. The song was co-written with one of the band’s musical heroes, Kim Richey, amidst the newfound slower pace of quarantine which so swiftly interrupted the unrelenting rush of the trio’s lives.

Backed by gorgeous swirling strings, Sav and Katie’s interlocking harmonies reflect on the simpler days—“Who knew we were/Drunk on borrowed time/Waiting on a wildfire.” However, rather than simply falling into nostalgia, the band looks to the future, hoping for the promise of new life and offering a simple hand of comfort. The video is similarly affecting, incorporating footage of the band’s years of touring and all of the small beautiful moments that are so sorely missed now. It’s both a reminder of treasured memories and a vision of hope for the days ahead. Check out the video below and watch out for the TIME OUT EP coming this May.

We also caught up with the band to talk about the trio’s history together, their classical influences, and go deep into the TIME OUT EP and “Wildfire.” Read our Q&A with the band below.

Under the Radar: How did you all meet and begin playing together? What drew you all to the creative partnership?

Sav Buist: Katie and I met in our public high school orchestra class. Our orchestra teacher purchased electric orchestra instruments with Booster Club money (very cutting edge). Katie and I stayed after school and played rock songs on the electric cello and violin, as part of the first “Alternative Styles Club.” Naturally, we raised our hands to volunteer to play a couple of tunes for the Booster Club as a “thank you.” Katie came to my house to rehearse, picked up my dad’s guitar, and we ended up geeking out about the White Stripes instead. We were pretty much a band that night, nine years ago. Michael joined us for a set at Blissfest in 2013, after our Bittersweet album came out - we moved him and his drums out of his dorm room and into the tour van.

What was the progression going from classical music to alt rock and Americana like? Do you see those influences overlapping in your music or are they in separate worlds?

Sav: I think it’s a melding of both worlds and influences. Rob Moose is an excellent example, and we often reference his work. He’s classically trained and uses that knowledge to bring something edgy to pop, folk, Americana music. You can hear his influence in our TIME OUT album.

TIME OUT is a co-write project album with folk/Americana songwriters who inspired us to be writers. The songs/stories are so powerful and we didn’t want the strings to overpower the lyrics. We wanted to keep the arrangements simple but emotional and let the strings cradle the story. We were going for nostalgia on “Wildfire,” so traditional string arrangements would have been too heavy. The goal was to capture the emotion of that moment in time.

Having classical training and understanding music theory helps us be better composers and arrangers, and gives us a leg up in the studio for sure - but our early influences were really diverse. Both of our fathers are professional piano players, and our mothers are both professional singers. My dad played piano for Whispering Bill at the Grand Ole Opry and Katie’s dad is a Collaborative Pianist at Interlochen Arts Academy. I grew up playing violin in my family band, and we covered all the artists Katie and I are writing with right now.

Katie Larson: I grew up listening to soundtracks, alt pop, and classical music. Both of my parents worked at Interlochen so I had the opportunity to sit in on masterclasses and watch lots of concerts. One of the first songs Sav and I arranged together as “The Treehuggers” on electric violin and electric cello was a rock song called Reptilia - by The Strokes. We played it at our high school talent show. We didn’t win the talent show but we were the coolest kids in the orchestra for a day. Sometimes, just seeing what is possible is life-changing.

Outside of the co-write TIME OUT project, the progression to alt rock or “indie punk folk” as The Accidentals have been dubbed, is really just a mashup of our collective influences - pop melodies, Americana lyrics, and orchestral builds. I think we were always alternative kids playing classical music.

You’ve been very busy in quarantine, both in music and outside of it. What has kept you all so creative and productive?

Sav: Necessity can be a powerful driver. For a band that tours 80% of the year, not working on something seems so foreign; it’s like giving up. Even writing that seems weird. The pandemic changed everything, for everyone. Everyone is going to have a story to tell. We were in the middle of a 37-date tour that included a huge preview of the new album shows, photos, sessions, laying strings on Sawyer Fredericks new album in NYC, workshops at 9 middle schools and 2 colleges across the Midwest, shows with two orchestras, The Nashville Riverboat cruise in Austin, TX, and three official showcases at SXSW including Austin City Limits, culminating in a flight to Portland OR to finish the Vessel album with one of our bucket list producers, Tucker Martine.

COVID hit just as we were finishing a round of workshops in Arkansas with Al Bell Presents, headed to SXSW. One by one, the shows canceled, starting with SXSW. We didn’t have a lot of time to think about it. We decided to head back to Michigan by way of Nashville so we could pick up my cat.

Katie: We were lucky to be a little ahead of the live-streaming game because we had been doing monthly livestreams as part of our Patreon before the pandemic. In the process of figuring out how to monetize the platforms we could livestream from, we made a lot of mistakes, and Sav wrote them down as we went. Eventually, that turned into a manual on how to livestream using OBS and Streamyard (and what not to do) for our musician friends.

Jay Gilbert at Label Logic sent it to our friends at Hypebot/Bandsintown and they released it on their blog and it became the go-to manual for a lot of the industry. Sav was sitting on panels for the Recording Academy/Grammys, Folk Alliance…etc. Then most of our workshops went virtual too. Since we weren’t going to get back to Portland anytime soon, we decided to turn the attic into a studio and finish the Vessel album on our own. That was huge. We spent the first five months of quarantine finishing that album, streaming “Daily Breathers” on Facebook every day, building up our Patreon famclub, and co-writing. When the co-writing turned into an EP we tabled Vessel and started recording TIME OUT. Now that that is done, we’re starting to figure out next steps for getting back on the road. It took a pandemic and eleven months for us to relax. Haha.

Can you go into some of these other projects you’ve started during lockdown, such as Play It Forward Again and Again? What inspired you all, what’s your mission with them, and how you got them off the ground?

Katie: We started working on Play It Forward Again and Again a couple years ago. We were teaching an alternative strings workshop at a middle school and one of the students stayed after to talk to Sav. She was admiring Sav’s Liquid Violin, so Sav offered to let her play it. The girl told Sav that she used to play violin but it was left behind when she was taken into foster care. She said someday she was going to save enough to buy another one. That sat on our conscience all the way home and that night we put a post on our local musician Facebook page and our musician friends pitched in enough to purchase a violin and hire a local instructor to give her lessons for a year.

That is where the idea of a musician-funded, musician-led, play-it-forward non-profit came from. Music helped me ​survive those awkward middle school years when I wasn’t sure ​where to identify myself. ​​It’s​ helped us figure out who we are, given us confidence, allowed us to travel the world, and opened up our minds. We want to make sure that opportunity exists for anyone who wants to learn.

How did quarantine affect the themes of the Time Out EP. Are all the songs reflecting on the lockdown?

Sav: The songs on the TIME OUT EP probably wouldn’t have been written if not for this time. I don’t think we knew at the time that writing these songs was helping us process what was happening outside the walls of our makeshift studio. In the past, when we’re in recording mode, we go off the grid for a month getting it done. I think we decided to finish the album, in part, because that gave us a sense of normalcy.

The co-writes happened so randomly that we didn’t decide to create an EP until the fourth or fifth co-write. As we listened back to them, we started to see a pattern - a lot like the five stages of grief.

“Wildfire” started with just a verse, a visual of a beautiful but neglected house covered in ivy, with a sparrow nesting above the front door. We were feeling that loss of motion, isolation from humanity. We kept looking back and wondering if we would have done anything different, had we known what was about to happen.

Katie: “Anyway” was a song we wrote with Tom Paxton after the Capital riots - probably at our lowest point of 2020. The loss of life, political division, violence, isolation, and the decision to schlepp through the album on our own took its toll. We love each other, but we had never built a studio, engineered, produced, created, played all the instruments, and recorded everything ourselves before. It was grueling and scary and every day was a test of our commitment to the music and to each other.

Sav: Throughout it all, the noise on the TV was deafening; the world was on fire, and we were torn between what we were doing and what we thought we should be doing, and what needed to be done. Conflicted on all sides.

Then, friends of ours lost their son to suicide. He was our age. That hit home. We actually swapped this song out for another song at the last minute because we felt like it needed to be on the EP. It’s one of the only songs we’ve written that doesn’t leave the listener with a hopeful message. It just is. It’s a reflection of the honesty of that moment in time.

Katie: “Might As Well Be Gold” is the only song we didn’t write in quarantine. We wrote it with Maia [Sharp] in Nashville after we had both moved there. It’s about finding gratitude when things aren’t ideal. We have some incredible sponsors and core supporters that have carried us through several crazy tours, kept us fed, and put gas in the tank. The lengths people will go to help us survive never ceases to amaze us. Deciding to build a studio in the attic and finish the album on our own was in no little part due to that support.

Katie: Dar Williams is an incredible storyteller, and we could listen to her all night. We started writing “Night Train” with her after a zoom call where she wove a tale about a trip she took by train. As she told the story, I could see the imagery in my mind of the towns she passed through, the people she met, the landscape, the possibilities. It was so healing to listen to another musician talk about traveling and the power of community. We could totally relate to how that experience changes you - how you see humanity differently when you stay with strangers and they become family.

Sav: “Night Train” was the reminder and there is more goodness in the world than we might believe. It’s for all the small towns, communities, our country, for the work we have to do, for the hope and light that exists. It’s about healing and investing in our future.

“All Shall Be Well” was just a collective release of energy at the end of a long 11 months. It was the last co-write we recorded, and the easiest to write. It just flowed. It’s been a year, we can finally talk about the future and tentatively make plans to be together. That’s what hope looks like.

How did you meet Kim Richey and how did her co-write on “Wildfire” happen?

Katie: Sav was recruited by Club Passim to help Kim Richey set up her livestream. Kim is a songwriter we have always admired - we actually covered one of her songs before we met her. Sav asked her to join us for one of our virtual TIME OUT shows that we hosted every couple of weeks with writers we admired. After swapping songs on the TIME OUT show and joking about how we should all tour together (Maia Sharp was on that show too), we asked her if she would write with us. Suddenly, here we were, writing with songwriters that inspired us to be writers.

The video for “Wildfire” is beautiful and it made me miss live music so badly. What touring memories does it bring up for you all?

Katie: Sorting through the music video footage made me realize I missed the experiences. For 6 years our friends Charlie Steen and Jake Burgess would hop in the van with us for weeks at a time capturing everything on video- our dorky jokes, late-night Waffle House stops, hugging laughing, and crying with strangers at the merch table, and hours of shifting landscapes outside the window that I missed while sending an email or paying bills. Between our trailer getting stolen, van getting hit by a car, and dozens of insane breakdown stories, those candid moments and everyday connections got lost in the cracks. I really miss the magic of those short windows of time before soundcheck to explore a random book store, eat tamales in New Mexico, visit a psychic in Sedona, or walk through a cemetery in Wales. Juxtaposed with 10 hrs in a van, 10 minutes walking around in a new city felt like total freedom.

Sav: I miss the collaboration, our host families, and their animals. We always look forward to festival season because all of our favorite artists are in one place together, and we have time to watch music. We’ve had the opportunity to share stages with some of our heroes like Brandi Carlile and The Decemberists and tour with incredible musicians like Martin Sexton and Keller Williams. We learned so much from each of them - I miss that camaraderie and feeling of community.


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