I spent three or four years as a student in school and University, playing in rock bands and organizing music events. These years were the best of my life, filled with music, love, learning, friendship, and joy. It was also a tumultuous time, with stress, illness, and injury plaguing my life. In the band “Mint,” we played loads of gigs around my University town of Durham and recorded an album, “Leaving It Late,” which marked the culmination of our collective collaboration with a flourish.
After going “off the rails” slightly for this short period, I had to force discipline back into my life. I quit the rock and roll lifestyle completely and returned to being the hard-working, sports-playing, family-oriented guy I was before. I played rugby four times a week. I completed my degree eventually and got married to my girl.
On our sophomore full-length album, “No Easy Way Out,” we examine tragedy underneath a bed of pulsating drone-rock following the murder of our bass player Aron Christensen in 2022, inspired by artists like Spacemen 3, The Velvet Underground, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
We do a lot of things: heavy blues, psychedelic, and atmospheric rock. It’s not as psychedelic/jammy as our first record. It’s more dark and brooding. It has some jams in it, but it’s far more focused.
Tragically, the biggest story isn’t our sound but the death of Aron Christensen, who was murdered while hiking with his four-month-old puppy, Buzzo. Inept police work, a lazy district attorney, and many questions that will probably never be answered have led many news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, to write about Aron’s mysterious murder. However, before his passing, we were finishing what would become No Easy Way Out, an eight-track collection of songs that explore, examine, and contemplate life, death, and how nobody makes it out alive.
I guess if I had to describe my “story,” the story that at least gets told through my music, it would be a story of adolescence, at least for now. I have lived in Fresno for all of my (admittedly short) life, and I think it can show through my music at times. But I’m always looking for a way to escape. Whether it be the mountains or the beach, make no mistake that I’d rather be anywhere than Fresno from at least July up to September. Our summers are scalding and long.
If I can’t do that, though, I still have the long-standing escapist cliche of music.
Penelope Arvanitakis and I go way back to 2005. I would spot her at open mics in mysterious and leafy Belgrave, the creative centre of the Melbourne hills, and simply marvel at her talent. The cadence of her voice was like no other, her piano playing was so highly advanced for one so young, and her songs were quirky, honest and deep. She was a cut above the rest.
In 2007 we recorded three songs together at her parents’ house, one of mine and two of hers, and then … we promptly fell out of touch for 16 years!
My name is Corynne Ostermann; I’m a multidisciplinary artist and musician playing bass & providing vocals for the Baltimore-based group Natural Velvet.
Natural Velvet started in 2012, and I’ve been involved since the beginning, as well as with my bandmates Spike Arreaga (guitar), Kim Te (guitar), and Greg Hatem (drums, production). I genuinely feel so lucky to have had my bandmates’ attention for as long as I have had, and as a result, I’m very protective of them and the long-term sustainability of our project.
An indie folk band might be considered an unlikely outfit for a classically trained pianist (me), and an Oceanography graduate (Simon Thomas), to end up in. However, these things can happen in unusual ways, like with Sandtimer.
Earlier this year, on Valentine’s Day, I wrote the first song for the new EP “Fall” together with my producer Abe Hovey. It’s been a rainy day, but since we were in Abe’s shed, we didn’t notice it too much.