Eisley, an indie rock band from Tyler, TX passed through Indy in March, performing a sold out show at the Hi-Fi. We got a chance to ask lead singer, Sherri DuPree-Bemis some probing questions about touring with small children, personal style and sleep anxiety.
Aubrey Smith: You’ve credited your musical creativity to your childhood upbringing. What’s your earliest memory of your family engaging in music?
Sherri DuPree-Bemis: When I was three or four, my parents would listen to Mr. Mister ‘Broken Wings’ (we had a cassette) and I remember them harmonizing to it. That was my first favorite song that I remember falling in love with! My parents always sang together around us, and they would teach us to find harmonies and hit the right pitch on notes if we couldn’t hear them. Simple things, and all done in fun. It really impacted me as a kid.
AS: Do you plan to model your parenthood in a similar fashion as your children grow older? Do you want them to become musicians or find their own path?
SDB: For sure! I totally want them to find their own path though. But if it does happen to be in music, I’d obviously be stoked. I understand how impactful writing music is and how deeply it can effect people in a positive way. They are pretty intensely obsessed with music and singing already, and they love touring at ages four and two. I really just want them to find what they love the most and to do that. My parents brought us up that way and it just so happened that music was our thing!
AS: As a fellow country girl (that refused to wear cowboy boots as well), living and traveling in big cities was initially intimidating. What adversities do you remember having to overcome in your band’s early stages? Is it easier now for a small town band to get exposure with the progression of today’s technology?
SDB: I think today’s technology definitely makes it easier, but also tougher because everyone is doing their thing and has access to social media! But I think it’s awesome. I’ve discovered so many artists and musicians that I love and have inspired me just because (for instance) I’m very into Instagram, and that it’s so visual. I think one of the biggest adversities I remember having to overcome when we started touring and doing interviews was my own shyness! Coming from a small town and being homeschooled was very intimidating. But when you push through that emotion and that fear and let yourself be vulnerable, it pays off. You discover people are beautiful and you make amazing connections.
AS: Are you happy to be living back in a more serene environment? What creative inspiration do you find in Tyler?
SDB: I love Tyler, TX! I really and truly do. It’s not a huge city but I love its simplicity. When you’re touring, it’s non-stop stimulation. It’s a whirlwind. It’s exhausting and incredible and challenging and fun (especially with two little kids). So when tour is over, I just love being home. Tyler is beautiful and the east Texas nature and the clear skies at night endlessly inspires me. You can see the stars and that is everything!
AS: In your earlier interviews (about a decade ago), staying true to your artistic and stylistic vision was a common theme. You would rather achieve your true sound instead of sell out. How has achieving that vision gone for the band over the years? Are you satisfied with the result?
SDB: Absolutely. Without a doubt, I know that we’ve always followed our hearts when it comes to what we do and there’s no comparison to being able to say that and know it’s the truth. I’ve been playing music since I was 13. It’s a great feeling to stand behind the content that you create. Art and music should always be pure and from the gut and the heart. If it’s not, I don’t believe there is any reason to put it out. You’re wasting your time and you’re wasting others time. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You just have to mean it.
AS: How did you prepare your mind and body for having children with both parents as touring musicians?
SDB: Ah! Good question. Haha. I’m extremely lucky in the fact that I have had two very easy pregnancies. I never had morning sickness or bad headaches or swollen ankles! So in the beginning of both of my pregnancies, I was still able to tour and play shows. I also highly recommend it too because there’s nothing as cool as knowing the kid in your belly is hearing you sing every night or hear the guitar you’re playing. My husband and I are both very ‘roll with it’ people, and you have to have that mindset if you want to do what we do I think. Life is short! Do what you love!
AS: The Huffington Post wrote a recent article about you battling of sleep anxiety (I have that too, so frustrating!). After writing a song over the subject, how has it changed your outlook on overcoming adversities? Do you recommend other creatives to use their medium to face their personal struggles? Sometimes facing a “fault” head-on can be quite scary!
SDB: I’ve written a couple songs about it now, and it is very therapeutic. I definitely recommend channeling your struggles into a positive thing, if you can. I feel lucky to be a songwriter because I truly believe writing songs (and getting to sing them every night on tour) is the cheapest therapy there is! Haha. It’s helped me navigate so many rocky waters in my life, and also helped me process my emotions and empower myself when I felt broken and weakened by troubles. It’s an awesome thing. If there’s anything I endlessly suggest to other artists, it is – be vulnerable. Be broken and don’t be afraid to be imperfect. That’s how you reach each other and that’s how you help each other and yourself.
AS: How did you celebrate your 20th year with Eisley? Congrats!
SDB: Damn. I didn’t really realize it had been that long. I am old.
AS: Which means you’ve been doing these interviews for over two decades! What’s something you’ve always wanted an interviewer to ask you?
SDB: ‘Do you want a candy bar?’ (Only if they had a candy bar to give me. And my answer is yes).
AS: PATTERN is primarily a fashion magazine, and we must say that we adore your style! How has you look changed over the years? What’s a favorite look you rocked on stage? Who are your fashion icons?
SDB: Thank you! The biggest way it’s changed is that (as a mom) I absolutely will not put up with wearing anything that is uncomfortable in any way! I can’t stand if something feels restrictive or tight. I’m basically chasing around my girls all day so I need freedom! My go-to is dresses, but it always has been! I love a great smock dress or babydoll (Lazy Oaf is great for that). The more cheerful and quirky the pattern, the better. I’m not into minimal or neutral colors, haha. You can tell by looking at me. I literally don’t own a dress without SOMETHING on it. That’s what I wear onstage too, except for live shows, I will wear more fitted and structured vintage dresses. I love the 50’s and 60’s and rock a lot of that stuff onstage…but always with Converse. I can’t say I have any fashion icons! I’m always inspired by people who don’t care and wear what they want…so if that’s you, then you’re one of my icons!
AS: What do you think will be with big Spring trend for 2017?
SDB: I really hope it’s quirky smock dresses because it would make shopping a lot easier.
Photography by Elese Bales.