Interview & Photos: SUREFIRE

Interview & Photos by Rachel Lim

So you’re brother and sister in-law?

Jason: Yeah 


When did you start doing music together? Or how did you start doing music together?

Jason: So...Yeah, I’m married to her sister. I played in a band in high school and started getting back into songwriting like, right when her sister and I started dating. And then, 

Natalie was like, ‘Hey, I wrote this song” and it was one of the songs we had played the other night. It was lyrics and a melody, right?

Natalie: Uh-huh.

Jason: And I was like, “Alright,” so I put some guitar to it and worked through it and thought “Alright, this is pretty good.”  So, we kept at it. We played that song, recorded it as a demo and showed it to friends and family and whatever it was fine. And then a friend of mine opened a recording studio soon after that. He was like, “Hey, do you want to come down, throw some stuff down? Trying to work on some new stuff and see how it goes?” So we threw 5 songs together quick and did an EP and we were still living in different states so we just kinda threw that EP on the fly… And then it just sat there for a while because we weren’t living in the same state. Once Natalie moved back to Pittsburgh a year and a half ago, we started to get back into it and it kinda went from there.


Okay! Anything you want to add to that?

Natalie: It kinda began as that but I knew pretty soon after he started dating my sister I was like He and I are going to need to find something to talk about because other than music we don’t share a lot in common interests. We are pretty different as people and I knew he was important to her so I was like “Oh music, let’s start talking about that.” And kinda like he said, it just kinda snowballed from there. Like this is what we talk about all the time. When I was living away, cause I used to live in DC for a while and traveling around for work a lot, I would come home for like two days, three days at a time and we would go down to the studio a:nd just start jamming and working on stuff...I think one time I took a bus at like 5 am in the morning, got into Pittsburgh at one then be at the studio till like 7 that night.

Jason: Really jam...Just did it on the fly and, I don’t know, to me it was like we gotta pursue this a little bit. It might not be full steam ahead but….

Natalie: We’ve been doing it at our own pace.


When did you each start singing?

Jason: I don’t know if what I do is technically singing…

Natalie: It’s ‘serenading’.

Jason: No, I got into songwriting and tried to sing starting in 8th grade, started playing guitar, just gave it a shot, not a traditionally trained singer.

Natalie: I mean, neither am I so…

Jason: Yeah.

Natalie: I didn’t sing in public until I was 13, but I have always like sang in my house and I did musicals and stuff in high school and then when I went to college, I did a fine arts degree but I wasn’t in performance at all and I did that on purpose cause people I knew were getting voice lessons and they all started to sound very similar to each other and I didn’t want that. So, I would just pick up on things to help keep my voice healthy but not so that it would sound trained. I don’t know if that makes sense….


Literally I was playing your music in the office and someone was like “Is that Florence?” and I was like “It’s not.” but they were impressed .

Natalie: She actually got me into songwriting because I heard the formative albums, the young years, and that was the first person that I discovered on my own and I was like i have never heard anything like her, and she had a little bit of a lower pitch like me.


How would you classify your sound or do you have a way of classifying it?

Natalie: I just think, really, we make music that we want to hear. Whether one song is a little more pop, one song is more rock, sometimes we’ll make something inbetween or whatever. But really, just making stuff that we like, not necessarily what we think everyone wants to hear, or we hope people will like it, but we like it and we’re happy with it.

Jason: I think, yeah, i agree with that. I think in the last 6 months, when we finished these last 3 singles that we just put out and started playing with a band I think the sound, at its best, is pop with rock undertone to it. We have a piano ballad on the 3 song EP we just put out but I don’t think we would be caged in or framed into that sound but like a pop/rock base with some opportunity for expansion. I think, especially live, that’s where you get the best of Natalie’s voice, you get the performance element and you get the power and everything like that so...

Natalie: Yeah, we’ve done a bunch of acoustic (gigs), where its just Jason and I, but the last full band show that we did, (she talks so quiet and fast here I can’t understand her) “Oh, that’s what it’s supposed to sound like with everything else.” so, yeah that’s made a difference.

Do you enjoy that?

J:ason The show?

Yeah.

Jason: Oh, it was so much fun. We put a lot of effort into it, and Revival Choir was amazing. They really plugged that show.

They’re great at advertising

Natalie: Yeah, they were so good at it

Jason: They played a great set. I know you know those guys and I was talking with Sean and we had a great conversation, just all round, it was great having those guys around

They’re a ton of fun.

Jason: They are a ton of fun. We played, well we were practicing like once a week for a couple of months and the drummer and the bassist were new, new additions, so we haven’t played with them before, kinda fingers crossed and the turn out was good. The crowd vibes were awesome, we couldn’t be happier.

Natalie: Yeah, it was really really fun. We were both like, the hour before we went on we were both nervous. Everyone else was like at a different bar like having some drinks, having some snacks, and we’re there for literally five minutes and we were like “No, we have to go back and we have to talk about this and we have to do that.” But like two seconds into playing, it was like clicked, this is what we have been practicing for.

Jason: Yeah and you know that because I forgot to put your name on the guest list and you couldn’t get in. We were running all around and….

Natalie: You forgot to do that?

Jason: Yeah.

Natalie: I knew we forgot something on our list.

Jason: But it really turned out great and we want to do it again soon hopefully.


Yup, how many shows have you done altogether?

Jason: Hmm….I would say….

Natalie: A dozen?

Jason : Yeah, I was going to say 15 maybe but its mostly been acoustic stuff. We’ve done a wedding rehearsal, a cocktail hour for a wedding. We’ve played a couple of shows at the zoo for different events.

Very random, very different…

Jason: Yeah, just trying to play wherever we can.

Natalie: And unfortunately, ‘cause we don’t do this full time, there’s stuff we’ve had to say no to. Like we usually get every other month or once a month we get like “Hey do you want to do this?” and normally can’t do it because we both have full time jobs and he has a family.

Yeah, have you played any of the local music festivals?

Jason: Not yet.

Natalie: We learned the hard way this past summer when to start applying….


Yeah, you have to do it like early spring…

Natalie: Yeah, we didn’t know that.

Jason: Cause they’re so much fun and I feel like, well to me, I don’t know if we have made our way into the Pittsburgh music scene yet, but learning about... there are a ton of great artists in Pittsburgh. And it’s really cool to see and to be a part of those festivals, that’s definitely a priority for next year.


So, how do you see yourself continuing or do you have a plan or you kinda just making it up as you go?

Jason: My plan is that we put a lot of effort into these 3 songs, It’s called “Who We Are”. Our EP or whatever you want to call it… So, we put a lot of effort into the songs we just put out and my plan, I don’t know if we’ve talked about it yet, because we put everything in that show and we’re gonna take some time to decompress but, to promote this as well as we can, try to get as many people to hear it as possible, and get into the show season next year, play the festivals and play out as much as possible, with the hopes of already starting to write a full length, whether that’s next year or the year to come, I think that would be the long term plan even just to say we did it. Like Natalie said, It’s gonna be a slow burn for us cause this isn’t full time. I’m old, I have another baby on the way and a 2-year-old daughter, but I don’t want to stop and we’re just gonna do it at our own pace and whatever comes of it, (????)

Natalie: Yeah, I don’t think we’re doing it...we have our own personal “what we want to do” “what we want to create”  “what we want to write about” but like a set… like this is the ultimate thing, I kinda think that sets you up, like what if you achieve that, and then it’s like ‘oh where do you go from here?’ so like any quote unquote success that we may or may not get, that would just be like sprinkles on top of everything else we have done. We’re doing it because we like to do it.

Jason: Not to beat a dead horse, but like to have over 100 people at that show we put on, like that’s success and now it’s like okay what’s next? vs. a long term goal…

Natalie: I made a quip, and it was 10% humor and 90% honesty, I thought like 5 people were going to come but 100 people came, and I was like this is cool. We should do this more often. And hopefully next month or so,  we’ll do another show, whether it’s with the boys or it’s just the two of us.

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