Introducing....Native Run

Rachel Beauregard and Bryan Dawley form country music duo Native Run. Released on May 6th, When I'm Taken is the title of the duo's new EP and features the title track alongside two others, Asking For A Friend and Bic Lighter.

Opening track Asking For A Friend is definitely my favourite of the three tracks we get to hear here. Rachel's gutsy vocal leads the rocky track which is smoothly complemented by Bryan's harmonising. Lyrically very clever, it is sure to intrigue any listener, particularly if this is the first track you've heard from Native Run. With the whole premise of the track focussing around lines like "I'm just asking for a friend, who's a little bit shy" which then becomes "we can play this game another round again, or we can stop pretending" you can immediately see that both Rachel and Bryan are talented storytellers as they draw you in to the track and the story as a whole. I've already had it on repeat again and again and I'm sure a lot of other people have done the same!

Asking For A Friend is smoothly followed by Bic Lighter. Another song with a strong (and really sweet!) story, Bic Lighter manages to link in with the rockier Asking For A Friend and When I'm Taken whilst introducing a 'rootsier' edge. Whilst the production seems to have a myriad of instruments interweaving it never feels overpowering and the various breakdowns are very effective. We also hear a more pronounced edge to Rachel's voice here, particularly at the beginning of the track, which adds another dynamic.

Clearly a popular song already, When I'm Taken closes an EP that, fittingly, leaves you immediately wanting to hear more music from the talented duo. The track has a catchy up-tempo, percussion led production that will inevitably leave listeners tapping their feet along and ultimately singing along as well, Rachel once again takes lead vocal on the track and delivers an attitude filled performance that really sells the song.

Track listing...
1) Asking For A Friend
2) Bic Lighter
3) When I'm Taken

This new EP is a very strong release from an incredibly promising duo, I'd definitely recommend purchasing it. Whilst it seems we are unlikely to hear a full album from Native Run (read on for why), I for one can't wait to hear even more music from them and I'm excited to hear how they develop! Both Rachel and Bryan are without a doubt both very talented singers and song-writers and they fit together slickly. Definitely a duo to keep an eye on, they're going to be huge.

Fresh from the recent release of their new EP I caught up with Native Run and asked them some questions...

What first drew you to country music?
Rachel - Well I would say the artists that I started listening to when I was younger. My step-dad only listened to country music, country and I guess kind of gospel music, so I grew up listening to a lot of Shania Twain, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, Reba, Trisha Yearwood, that whole kind of crew in the nineties, John Michael Montgomery, Montgomery Gentry...gosh the list goes on, like I'm thinking about my play-list when I was younger....but I would say that was kind of my first introduction into loving country music. I didn't actually think we were going to be country artists, for me personally, until we came to Nashville because we fell in love with the scene and the people. I don't think our music, to be honest, is necessarily innately country, I guess the question is what is that these days, there's such a huge spectrum of what is country music. So we realised that our music fit within this country spectrum we were ecstatic because we also at that point had kind of had this resurgence of artists that we were obsessed with, like Keith Urban and for me growing up with the Dixie Chicks as well, just kind of all these country artists that I could really relate to, that Bryan could relate to as two kids that grew up outside of DC. Country music is really popular there but it's not really a country town, it's very much a metropolis, it's a very multicultural place and the music is represented as well. So I think for us we just latched on to country because we really fell in love with the music and our writing style really fit in with that because now it's like you don't have to sing about farms, hollers and things like that, although everyone loves a good song about farm trucks and everything. I think that for us we write more songs about relationships and emotion but within the country format because song-writing in country is probably what makes it stand out the most so we're just really happy to be able to fit in that spectrum if you will.
Bryan - I went to college in West Virginia which has a huge country music and bluegrass background and so I think first the instruments really drew me into country music. Traditional bluegrass instruments like the banjo and the mandolin and flat-picked acoustic guitar. It was definitely an instrument thing for me and then eventually I started listening to the song-writing in a more adult, educated way and I just love country's sort of penchant for still trying to tell a good story as a genre. I definitely came to the lyric end of it later but I'm enamoured by that now.  
Rachel, how did you personally end up going from Germanic Opera to Country music?
Rachel - Oh right! [laughs] I didn't like the restrictions of doing classical music. I 
really love classical music and obviously I studied it, I went to this private governor's school for studying Germanic Opera and everything but I think I just realised that I love pop music and, while I appreciate the art and the culture of classical music, my personal preference is just with pop music. I love being able to write our own songs and melodies and with classical music you're generally performing other people's music. Granted it's like masterpiece work but it just wasn't me. It wasn't me, it wasn't my lifestyle so this is much better for me.
For you also Bryan, what prompted you to pull away from the classical music that you'd been immersed in during your major?
Bryan - I knew going in when I was studying music in college that I never wanted to be part of an orchestra, I just didn't want that life. I think I had been surrounded by professors and brilliant musicians and people that have dedicated their lives to classical music but it frankly just bored me a little bit, I guess the scholarlyness of it all. I was like you know what, I just want to make music with my friends. That may sound a little pedestrian, I just have always seen music as more of a shared experience than like look how great we are at playing Mozart. To be honest, it's all stuff that I've used in country music, like the knowledge of being able to write string parts or play upright bass with a bow, it all sort of means something. It was fun! It put tools in the toolbox, I just had to figure out what project I was going to work on.
I'm interested to know where the name Native Run came from?
Rachel - The short version is we used to be called Deep River, that was our first name when we formed about six or seven years ago. About two years later we received a cease and desist letter from another group in Asheville that was called Deep River and they had the copyright so they were like we're already called this, we have the copyright, you need to change your name or pay us like way too much money and we were just like forget that so we were on the road at the time and we had to change it immediately so we just reached out to our friends on social media and our fans and just said guys, for legal reasons we have to change our name, give us some suggestions, what would you want to call us. Somebody sent in the word native and they were like native because it means unique, from the source, you guys are proud Virginians and there's just this really unique connotation with the word native, we loved that. Bryan was just like let's throw an action verb on it, we need action and he was like Native Run and we were all like yeah that's great, we don't hate that! Nobody had the copyright so we bought it! [laughs] It takes a village to grow a band, as they say.
This new EP is the first one that's available internationally, what prompted the decision to release it like that?
Rachel - We hadn't released music in two years and we were signed to a label when we released the first time so to be honest a lot of those decisions were completely out of our control. Now that we are operating independently we have so much freedom to release music and to make it available and that's what we want to do. We never want to prevent our music from being anywhere. This is an exciting adventure of us just being able to say yeah, here, you can stream it, you can buy it on iTunes, it doesn't matter where you are, we want everybody that can have a computer and speakers to be playing Native Run. That wasn't even like a question, we just want everyone to have it. 
How has the response been to the EP so far?
Bryan - The response has been great! For us it's been quite a while since we've had new music in the marketplace and so it's been really fun to wrap a project that we really believe in. It's cool to have toured quite a bit over the past couple of years and to have learnt a lot about what we want our music to be and sort of what the best incarnation of our music is based on our live show and playing so much in front of people. We're really really excited and I think people have been too! We've had fans that are waiting for music for so long and so it feels like a really cool breath exhale for us to have some music finally out there, we love it.
Which of the tracks on the EP do you feel best portrays who you are as a duo?
Rachel - Oh what a great question! Humm my first reaction is 'When I'm Taken' just because we wrote that song four years ago, before we moved to Nashville, maybe over four years ago now. We wrote it when we were just on a trip visiting. We still play that song every set, we love that song so much and the fact that it's remained kind of timeless - at least in our career - and the fact that now we've been able to take it through these different permutations, we recorded it and mastered it before but we just loved the evolution that this song has gone through and that is very similar to us as well. We've gone through huge evolutions from being in Virginia to moving here and changing our sound, working with different producers, touring with different artists. Touring is probably the biggest way that we were able to see ourselves in the audience and really define ourselves musically and otherwise. So 'When I'm Taken' I think is definitely what encapsulates Native Run the most...and just because it's a sassy song and we're both really sassy! [laughs]
Bryan - I think to be honest 'When I'm Taken', every time we've played a show, or just a couple of songs for various things, that one has always been in our set. I think it's very cool musically and showcases a lot instrumentally. I think Rachel and I both have either been in that scenario or have friends or whomever, that feeling of finally this asshole that I broke up with knows how awesome I am and I'm with somebody else, it's just a very familiar thing. I think that is what we have striven to do in the song-writing process is just like tell people stories and to sort of get inside the emotions that people are feeling rather than go the country route of trucks and beer and that kind of stuff!  
You mentioned working with different producers, how did you find working with Luke Laird?
Rachel - Luke is absolutely incredible. Not only is he extremely talented but his work ethic is probably what separates him from the masses, his work ethic is nothing short of a miracle. He wakes up at like 6am every day and is doing his work and researching and listening to music and building tracks so he brings a lot of that into producing as well and he just has great relationships in town. He has great rapport and makes musicians feel really comfortable and makes them feel free to play whatever they want. It's pretty easy in Nashville, because a lot of Nashville uses the same players, to have everything kind of sound the same so I think you do have to have a producer that goes in there and can kind of say hey you know what, that sounds awesome but what if you...Luke was just really great because he has a great rapport and musicians respect him so that was awesome. Then we made this EP with Marshall Altman who is just the greatest. We love him as well and he's such a dear friend. He's one of these guys that is genius on the spot and he will hear something and immediately go boom, what about this and everything is very organic and creative. I think the great thing about what he did with this EP is that he made these songs, which we've played 100 times on the road, sound unique and special to us, that was just crucial. He's just a great guy too, we're really tight with his family and really comfortable with him and he's not afraid to call your bullshit. He'll basically be like Rachel your vocal sucks, you need to do better, you can do better. He's not afraid to say that to me which I appreciate because I'll go in and be like you're right, I was just half-assing that, I can do better. So he always gets the best takes.
Which track is the most fun for you to perform live?
Bryan - Oh I think 'Asking For A Friend' definitely. Well tell a little story every time we play that song, we're at festivals or whatever and we're like you've probably been looking at somebody in the audience, we have a tailor-made pick-up line for you! Even if you fail you've got an out, asking for a friend. 
Rachel - This might sound weird but I think 'Bic Lighter' is because it just has that really steady groove to it the whole time and that's something that is really a signature of Native Run I think, is just having a really steady groove. I feel like when we play that song I really get to get into it.
There are a few videos of tracks on YouTube that didn't ultimately make the EP, was it hard for you to pick just three tracks to release?
Bryan - Yes! But I think with these it's a very well rounded, emotional musical effort and I think I'm just proud of all those songs individually and I would stand behind all of them. While we would have loved to put 10 songs on the record I think allowing yourself to trim it down and really decide is this music us, is this what we want to put into the world as what we do musically? With these three I feel really strongly that this is a good statement for us for right now and we're just going to keep on writing and keep on making that statement in whatever chunks we can.
Rachel -  Oh my gosh yes! [laughs] We recorded another song that we do want to release called 'One' but we still have edits to make on the production so we just said we'll release it later, we'll come back to it later and we've got a bunch of new songs as well. Our plan is to try to release new music by the end of the summer, if all goes well we would love to. We've got these other songs that we're crazy about, we just need to make sure they're in their best outfit if you will, that we make them the best version of them. So that's kind of on our agenda for this summer.
Will that new music be a full album or an EP?
Rachel - Well, I will say this, it's really challenging these days, I'm being totally honest with you, to make a full album if you don't have thousands and thousands of dollars for a label backing. What I mean is, because we're independent artists, it's really challenging to make a full record just because financially it requires so much. I think that's why what our plan is is just to continuously release a couple of songs at a time. So we've released these three songs and then we'll release four songs at the end of the summer and then maybe we'll release another three songs by Christmas so essentially we're creating a full album but we're just releasing it a little bit at a time. [laughs] For better for worse! It's kind of just what we have to do right now and actually we kind of like it too because we can kind of create these mini projects that have their own vibe to them. 
Do you feel as though EPs are a better format for you to work with?
Bryan - Yeah I think so. With how music is going right now I think it's an interesting way to release music, to sort of give...let's call it quarterly instalments of music so that at the end of the year you're left with 10 or 12 tracks as opposed to just putting one record out all at the same time. I think it's nice as far as social media goes too to try and keep giving people things to look forward too and just in that sense I think it's a cool method of putting music out there. So I think that is probably what we'll do moving forward 
Which has been the hardest track you've ever written?
Rachel - Oh...we have a song called 'Something' that Brian and I wrote a couple of years ago, probably three years ago and it was one of the first songs that he and I just wrote as just the two of us after we moved to Nashville. We used to write a lot but after we moved here we were co-writing so we finally were like let's just write again, the two of us. We were arguing that day, it was just like a bad brother-sister wanting to kill each other day and we got to this point that we were like fine, let's write this song. We had this idea that is kind of the culmination of both of our first love catastrophes. That one was easy to write but it was difficult to record because there's a really story and history and how even the present was still living that out. I remember recording something and we were working with Barry Dean, I don't know if you're familiar with Barry Dean, he wrote 'Pontoon' and 'Diamond Rings And Old Barstools', he was our vocal producer when we were working with Luke two years ago. Poor guy, I'm in there doing something and I get to the chorus and I just start bawling. I was like sorry, I'm sorry, this person had just broken up with me and that song is just so emotional and Barry was just like Bryan, what do we do and Bryan was like beer and Oreos, beer and Oreos, that's what she needs, beer and Oreos. Barry came in and handed me some chocolate and a beer and some tissues and was like hey, take your time, this is great. That next take, it was one take and we kept it. People need to try beer and Oreos! [laughs] It can't be like a hoppy beer because that doesn't go well with the chocolate so it needs to either be on the light beer Pilsner side, or it needs to be a port or a stout. That combo with Oreos is going to change your life, like you're not going to eat dinner again, you're just going to have that [laughs] 
Are there any tracks you wish you'd written?
Bryan - Man, always! There is a song off the new Dierks Bentley record called 'I'll Be The Moon' and some friends of ours wrote it and it's so good. You know when you get mad a little bit because your friends or so great?
You've already opened for quite a selection of well known country artists, what would be your dream tour?
Bryan - I think Keith Urban would be a huge one for me, he's sort of the reason why I got interested in pop-country as it exists today. I just think it would be a great time obviously but also, educationally, watching him play every night and how he interacts with fans and plays his ass off at the same time would just be a cool thing to glean, just tips and stuff like that. 
Will future releases see you share the lead vocals?
Rachel - I don't be honest I feel like we used to share lead vocals a lot more and as we've been writing we've just really been finding more of our niche. Bryan is so much more of this melodic instrument writer and he really gets into the playing more and I'm a diva so it just works I'm kidding! [laughs] One thing that we do try to make sure is that we harmonise as much as possible. I think unless Bryan is like I really want to do lead vocals...we've written songs with him having lead vocals but he ends up not wanting to necessarily cut them or it's not a song that we feel should be out. There's no rule in our duo like Rachel has to sing the lead vocals but I just think that's what we've come to do, just as we've been writing together over the years it's been like well you play that and I'm going to sing this and then we'll sing together here! [laughs]
Do you ever find yourselves both wanting lead vocals on a particular track?
Bryan - Typically no, I love Rachel's voice so much and I personally enjoy singing harmony more than I do lead vocals and I like concentrating on playing my instrument too, in a way that would sort of be taken away from if I every wanted to full on lead a song. So it's kind of perfect how we're set up because I don't aspire to sing a lead vocal really and she doesn't play instruments so we're a match made in heaven! [laughs]  
Rachel, there's an interesting edge to your voice that we hear at it's strongest in Bic Lighter, will we see that built upon?
Rachel - Oh yeah, the more cigarettes I smoke! [laughs] What I love about that song is that we keyed it in a lower register so that I could almost like speak-sing it so I do think we're going to get more of that, particularly in a song called 'Raise Your Spirits' that we're going to try to release with this next batch. It's keyed lower in a similar way so I kind of get to get more playful in that edgier vocal range. So yeah, there definitely will be more of that. Sassy and smokey!
Any plans to tour the UK?
Bryan - I would love to come over to the UK again! I was actually there my junior year of college, our jazz band did a little tour of London and the surrounding areas. It was like nine days so not really enough to immerse yourself by any means but it was great, we had such a blast. 
Rachel - Oh! We want to so badly! There's no plan right now, we would love to. I have dear friends live over there, one of my good friends works for BBC and I'm like dude, let's do this! I do think there's a chance we'll do the C2C Festival next year. Again not confirmed but we've definitely talked about it with the promoter so that hopefully will happen, we'll keep you posted, but we would love it! I went to university in Reading in my junior year at college and I just fell in love with London and I just made dear friends over there, I still keep in touch with some of them. I love the UK, I've done work in Ireland as well, I'm obsessed! I want to go back, I'm ready. I just love English people, I love you guys, your way of life, your humour, everything is right down my alley.
Bryan - We have some friends that are involved in the C2C...movement let's call we hope to be a part of that next year. We've got to get down to the nitty-gritty and make it happen. Here's hoping! 

Thanks to Rachel and Bryan for their time! I hope we get to see them over here next year as part of C2C, I'll post any news as soon as I get it!