What is your name and role within Elephant Revival?
My name is Bonnie Paine. In Elephant Revival, I write, sing, play washboard, musical saw, djembe, stomp box, and cello.
How did you start?
My mom sang all around the house. Even when we’d go into town she’d sing in the grocery store, then she’d sing lullabies to my siblings and I at bedtime. I loved to hear her sing and it inspired me to sing also. Christy Garde, who would become my step sister, introduced me to drumming.
Where are you based?
Boulder County, Colorado and Cherokee County, Oklahoma.
Please give an example of your music writing process?
Finding time and space for a song to come through is most important to me. Usually, I find a place with good acoustics or go out in the woods or near water to listen for melodies, just listening for a while. When they come, I try to find the words that fit into them, if the words didn’t come with the melody. Then, if it’s not going to be an a cappella, I find the chords that fit with that. Sometimes everything rolls out, but often it will be years before the whole song fills out. Lots of patience is involved.
What are you working on right now?
My mom and I have been working on a story made up of songs for many years. My mom is working on writing out the story part, and I’m nearly finished with the music. I’ve got 25 of the songs completed and three more in process that I hope to finish when I spend some time alone in Ireland in a couple of weeks to make space for them. My hope is for the performance of the pieces to begin with stop motion video projection and some day have live acro dancing to help portray the story.
What is your gear setup?
A stomp box on the floor for down beats, a djembe and cymbal in front of that, an electric washboard, a saw, a cello, and a vocal mic.
What do you like to do outside of music and does it affect your music? (I think she read this as: “Do you like to play outside & how does it affect your music? :P)
I love playing music outside. It allows for spontaneity, like wind and birds, to interact with the music and usually means all ages are welcome, which I enjoy.
How would you describe your music genre?
Eclectic folk rock with worldly rhythmic influences?
Do you know any music theory?
What are your plans for the future?
As I’ve mentioned, I look forward to sharing the song story I’ve been writing with my mom when it is ready. Also since the band started, we’ve been talking about putting on a festival called Art of All Forms, where many art forms to delight each of the senses are represented: live painting and aerial dancing during the music performances, the art of holistic healing, the art of breathing, the art of identifying and nurturing medicinal and edible plants, the art of film, the art of childbearing and child rearing, the art of communication, the art of community, the art of harmony with technology, the art of sustainable building and living in general, etc. This dream is very close to fruition, and we will be thrilled to be a part of its reality soon! Someday I’d also like to be a midwife. I have been seeking out birthing songs to sing if the parents would like song during child birth or to welcome the new born. I’d like to make a compilation album of birthing songs too.
How did you get into music?
When I was five or six, my sister Christy moved into a broken-down Greyhound bus that was in our yard with Danny Hoffsteader. Christy was the drummer and Danny was the bass player for Randy Crouch, an amazing songwriter, fiddler, pedal steel and electric guitar player, that had been friends with my dad since they were 13. Christy introduced me and two of my other sisters to some rhythms on the drums, and my dad would have these parties where we’d all three or four play on two drum sets. Later, Danny and Randy gave me lessons on guitar, my sister Annie lessons on bass, and my sister Sarah ended up sticking with the drum set for our sister band, the Rat Nurses, which later became the rhythm section for Randy Crouch, and still is occasionally.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I’ve been listening to Abigail Washburn with Béla Fleck, Buena Vista Social Club, The California Honeydrops, Ry Cooder, Shook Twins, Gregory Alan Isakov, Yo-Yo Ma with Edgar Meyer and Mark O’Connor, Miraja, Ayla Nereo, Iyeoka, Anaïs Mitchel, Paul Simon, Jason Isbel, Taarka, The Deer, Punch Brothers, Mandolin Orange, and many others. We listen to a lot of music around here.
Who are your top 5 influences and icons?
My mom and dad, I can honestly say, are my top influences. My dad still introduces me to a new record or song almost every time I visit him. This last time, he showed me a Sugarcane Harris song he was excited about. My mom is always humming her melodies and teaching me all the songs she has, introducing singing as something natural and enjoyable. They named me after Bonnie Raitt, who has been a great influence, given my mom sang her songs often. I listened to a lot of Little Feat, Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, and Mozart growing up, which I appreciate. I’d say listening to Nina Simone, Tracy Chapman, and Portishead helped me open to letting the feelings come through the voice.
When are you playing next?
A lot of festivals, coming up including Northwest String Summit, Oregon Eclipse, and Rocky Mountain Folks Festival. We also have the opportunity to play with Elvis Costello in September. Our tour dates can be found here: http://www.elephantrevival.com/tour/
Featured Photo Credit : Athena Delene Photography