There are rips in both knees of Drew Daniels’ black jeans. The loose threads flop as he stomps a continual beat into the sidewalk to accompany his wife’s voice. There is a beauty in the way the two interact, the pair of them beating along beside each other, emotions exposed, yet escorting one another through each note of their music. When apart, threads of shame and insecurity are accented in their voices, yet when they join together as a duo, they knit together to create something entirely new. Two imperfect people weave together guitar chords and harmonies and smooth, earnest lyrics to make a glorious fabric.
We as people are drawn to those rips because we understand them. We know how it feels to be ripped and ragged, coming undone at the seams under the pressures of life. But this duo reminds us that we are not alone. The beauty of a man and a woman who share together in their flaws have the power to remind an audience to cling to one another with a hope that, despite our limitations, we are invited to create beautiful things in this world – things that matter and hold significance, even as simple as a pair of jeans.
After recording a few of their original songs, Street Corner Sessions had the opportunity to learn more about Drew and Paige, and their work as artists, thinkers, and musicians:
Street Corner Sessions: What is your history with music—both individually and now as a couple?
Drew Daniels: Paige and I have both loved music since we were little kids. We have been in different bands over the years, and started writing songs together as friends, even prior to dating. Now we find that it is a major place of connection for us. We love to reflect on life and write songs in response.
SCS: What difficulties and benefits have arisen out of playing music with your spouse?
DD: It is really comforting to know you are in it with somebody and your spouse totally understands how music works and the challenges that come with it. We are both wired as very sensitive people, so the difficulties of writing together have a lot to do with our personal wiring. Feedback can be difficult, we are still growing to learn how to share the honest truth and push our songs without hurt feelings.
SCS: Why choose music to share ideas with the world?
DD: Words are very powerful, but there is something profoundly unique when powerful words unite with melody. We all can be transported by certain songs, and we love remembering the experiences of which songs remind us. Music reaches a deep place.
SCS: So if you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?
DD: The funny thing is, we have tried other things and all roads have led back to music. Paige was a teacher and photographer and I was an athlete and music always drew us back in.
SCS: What do you want to tell listeners through your music?
DD: This is how we process life and it is powerful to share our experiences with others. We have both learned so much from listening to the music of others and this is our way of paying it forward.
SCS: What audience are you eager to reach with your music?
DD: We have never quite defined an audience, but we aspire to write universally and have the widest reach possible.
SCS: Can you walk us through how the songwriting process works between the two of you?
DD: We primarily start the writing process separately and then revise and edit together. Paige starts with lyrics and I start with gibberish and melodic ideas.
SCS: Are you currently working on any projects?
DD: We are in the thick of an original record with a team for our church. We are also planning to record some of our personal music this fall and hopefully an EP next summer.
SCS: And looking ahead, what long-term goals do you have for your music?
DD: This is actually a difficult question for us to answer, not because we don’t have long-term goals, it’s just that we have always written music for different projects and this is our first experience just writing for writing’s sake. We are on the journey and love our home and friends in Richmond, so our aspirations are to write the best songs we can and play music as much as possible and see where the path leads.
SCS: Who or what has influenced your music over the years?
DD: Other art and artists, as well as authors have influenced us. Here is our short list: Sara Groves, Johnnyswim, Third Eye Blind, C.S. Lewis, Ted Loder, Shauna Niequist, Dallas Willard, John Green, Billy Collins, Anne Lamott, Mako Fujimura… I could go on, but I promised a short list.
SCS: You lead worship at your church here in Richmond, so on that note, how has your faith influenced your music?
DD: I think it permeates everything. It is our lens for life, so we cannot help but write through that perspective.
SCS: What have you learned from one another’s style?
DD: I have learned so much about the power of a lyric from Paige.
She writes in a way that you understand the truth of her words and feel the images as soon as they are uttered. Then, you go back and really listen and can swim in the depth of what is being said.
Paige Daniels: Before I wrote with Drew, I wrote in a way that was less accessible and Drew helped me learn how to trim the fat, so to speak. He also helped me write with more upbeat energy.
SCS: What challenges have you had to overcome to get to where you are today with your music and what has encouraged you to keep going?
DD: I have always been enamored with great musicians in a way that has made it very difficult to feel like I have anything to bring to the table. Honestly, I keep going because when I make music with Paige it is no longer about me, but about the experience of the music and I like that a lot more. Paige felt comfortable as a singer and writer, but being on stage and playing an instrument has been quite a feat to overcome. She kept going because she hasn’t found a way to avoid it.
SCS: What advice would you offer to young artists interested in music?
DD: Read when you can. Take note of little things in life and ask yourself how you would explain them in a way that people could experience exactly what you are experiencing. Never stop trying to get better, be a student of everything. Try to find opportunities to play in front of and with other people. Make other artists famous.
By enjoying your friends’ art you will find that you enjoy yours more as well… it’s weird how it works.
SCS: What makes you different from other musicians?
DD: Not much honestly. A lot of people make similar music and even do it at a higher level, but nobody can be us but us, so we put our spin on it.
SCS: What’s it like to be in a duo?
DD: Two is a great number…it’s even, so it’s easy to split things. You feel supported and known. Ideas are plenty, but they are not overwhelming because they are also limited to two minds.