By Brian Tucker
Indie folk duo Chasing Opal relocated to Wilmington from Utah in 2013 allowing them to live closer to family and satisfying a desire to be in a coastal area. The duo – Whitney Blayne and Steve Seguin, performed as Whitney Blayne for almost a year prior to changing the name. Though they are working on new music what’s available on Reverbnation are songs from Blayne’s solo album Turning Pages born out of playing solo gigs in 2010.
Seguin plays percussion briefly on the album but Blayne cites him as the person who pushed her to record. The songs are an interesting mix of folk, melody and sometimes less than shiny lyrics.
Will you incorporate Turning Pages into Chasing Opal? How different are new songs shaping up in comparison?
Steve: In the future we hope to re-record a few of the songs from the album and release them as singles. When we make an official Chasing Opal album we will still have the solo album available, keeping the original discography in Whitney’s name. We want people to see where we started and how far we’ve come.
Whitney: Now that Steve and I have been playing music for two years, it’s safe to say we know where the other person feels musically “safe.” Since we took on the Chasing Opal name we are starting to push ourselves outside of the “safe zones” and change our sound and style a bit. Steve is learning harmonica and guitar and I’m learning the ukulele and revisiting piano. It’s helping us branch out and be more creative with our melodies, and it’s giving our music more volume. When we release songs in the future as Chasing Opal, there will be notable differences.
What are your musical backgrounds? Are you self-taught?
Whitney: Steve started playing percussion in middle school and continued his musical education into college. He taught himself how to play the Cajon (a box shaped percussion instrument from Peru) and never played the instrument previous to CO. I took piano when I was seven but dropped out because I play better and faster by ear. I played the violin through middle school but gave it up. At seventeen I had a spinal surgery and taught myself the guitar.
Steve and I both are pretty good at picking up almost any instrument and teaching ourselves how to use it. With the internet we find there isn’t anything we can’t teach ourselves. We like spending time on YouTube teaching ourselves how to play new instruments.
What led to creating the duo?
Steve: Whitney played for a short time in her friend’s band as their pianist but quit to focus more towards her own music. After playing under Whitney’s name for about a year it became obvious to us that we were becoming a team. A duo was the next step for us. We wanted a name to represent us both.
How soon did you know it was gelling, playing together?
Steve: We both have very different backgrounds in music. Whitney grew up learning and playing country and folk sounding music. She says that I have an old soul because I grew up listening to blues and jazz. With our different backgrounds, it took about six months of clashing before we finally saw that there was potential. After about two years things started to jive and the two different styles have come together to create more unique sounding music which is where a lot of our newer music is heading.
Can you share the story behind “Picture Perfect”?
Whitney: I like to write music that tells a story, sometimes they come from my personal life or I make them up. This one is inspired by personal experience. I was going through a rough time in my life and instead of dealing with it I kept it inside, but to the world I was portraying a “picture perfect” life. The chorus says “These wings are ready when she is ready to fly.” I wrote this song because I wanted to say we have the things we need to succeed in life and they are waiting for us, but we have to allow ourselves access to them.
“Six Feet Under”?
Steve: Whitney loves to watch CSI and Criminal Minds. Often they play re-runs of these programs back to back. Awesome, right? Wrong. The problem is that they usually play them at night time before you go to sleep. Without fail Whitney wakes up screaming in the middle of the night every time she watches before bed. After a bad night’s sleep she woke up with the thought that inspired the song, that “If anyone were to ever bury me, I would come back and haunt them every single day of their life.
Has the new geography influenced your new music?
Whitney: Yes, we have about three really great songs inspired by living on the coast. And one song that mentions Wrightsville Beach titled “Fun” that we hope to release as a single before summer of 2014.
How did you decide on moving to the Wilmington area?
Steve: First, we wanted a change, and we were ready for something more coastal. Whitney has some family in Wilmington and they had great things to say about the city. We had never actually seen the place, but after a little online research we decided we would give it a try. We figure if you don’t like a place you can always leave.
Is this the first time living outside a landlocked state?
Whitney: We both have done a lot of traveling, But this is the first time Steve has lived outside of Utah. I went to college in Florida, and since then I have always wanted to move back to the east coast.
Was Steve involved with your solo album?
Whitney: I wanted the album to be very real, as if I were sitting in front of you singing with only my guitar. So Steve’s percussion is heard on only one track of the solo album, “Turning Pages”. But he was the person that pushed me to put my music onto an album, and he was in the studio often to show his support.
Blayne said that Turning Pages was made with an in-the-room quality, as if the duo were sitting close to you singing and paying guitar. It satisfies while also presenting a grounded pop and singer-songwriter combination. Blayne has a rough hewn quality to her vocals, a sassy ruggedness balancing sweetness found on songs like “Bad Seed” or “I’d Give My Heart.”