Love, DEAN — Interview
As a married couple who creates together, Rachael and Luke Price—the funky duo known as Love, DEAN—share a bond that goes deeper than their love for each other. They are also connected through their mutual admiration of music, which is on full display in their debut self-titled album, released in October.
I recently sat down with Rachael (with Luke backing her up) to discuss vintage tones, inviting listeners into their lives, and the praise of pancake making.
Americana Highways: Your music has a real funky groove to it, but that isn’t the only layer. How long did it take you two to discover what the Love, DEAN sound would be, and do you feel like it is fully represented on your new self-titled debut?
Rachael Price: Yes, it certainly took time to discover what our sound is, and I think we will always be chasing new possibilities. I think it’s 90% of the way fully represented on the album. Drums and bass are hugely important to us, and we had difficulty fully realizing those parts because the recording process was so fragmented. Overall though, we had a lot of help from wonderful players to bring the sound into focus. It’s always a give and take between the two of us—what stays and what goes. We enjoy using a lot of real instruments in new ways, and vintage tones in new music.
AH: Releasing a record into the world always comes with its share of difficulties, but it seems like it can be more magnified with a debut. Did you feel any extra pressure with this album knowing that, in many ways, it would be the first impression people had of Love, DEAN?
RP: Honestly, most of the pressure for this debut was from ourselves; we wanted it to sound like what we heard in our heads. We decided early on we weren’t going to settle for something that was “almost there” in terms of vibe or sound. We were determined to be personally proud of it, and that’s one of the things that motivated us over the years of making the album.
AH: You have said that the album is a love letter to anyone who would listen. Can you talk a little bit more about that? Were you trying to pass along a feeling—a vibe—because it feels like, now more than ever, people just need an escape from the day-to-day and music is so good at accomplishing that, and this album certainly helps.
RP: We realized as we were listening through the tracks in the mixing phase how personal these songs really were. It felt a bit unexpected because we used to write with more distance between ourselves and the listener. We realized these songs were a love letter to listeners, telling them to love themselves and others, to be brave and to embrace the ups and downs in their lives. These songs are an invitation for listeners to come and be a part of our lives.
AH: What would someone learn about the two of you in sitting down and listening to the album front to back?
RP: I think they would learn so much about our relationship; about what it takes to stay connected to each other. The music gives so many windows into our lives. I think it would be impossible to listen to it and not hear how much we love and care about music—so much thought went into each part no matter how small. We can’t help ourselves!
AH: What are you most proud of with the album and why?
RP: We are deeply proud that we stuck it out until the end. It was a refining experience because we came up against some really difficult situations trying to complete it, but we finished it anyways and I couldn’t be prouder of us for pushing it over the finish line. Secondly, the music: we went full out with every single detail until we loved it.
AH: You two met in college on the first day and now you’re married and making literal music together. Did you click creatively as well as personally or did the artistic side of the partnership take time?
RP: We clicked personally first, and became friends before we were dating in college. I want to say we started playing music together a few months into knowing each other, but not writing together until a year or so after that. The artistic side of the partnership took so much time! I started playing my songs for Luke because he wouldn’t let me off the hook about it. We fought on our first date in the North End of Boston at this fancy Italian restaurant about that very thing! Luke came from roots/Americana and I came from a pop/gospel background so we had no idea how, or what, to play together in the beginning, but we kept at it, dialing it in year after year.
AH: People always say that being in a band is like being in a marriage, but in this case, you really are. Beyond the bond it can create, what are some of the advantages of creating art with your partner as opposed to someone you are not involved with outside of the studio?
RP: We feel so very fortunate to play music together as a married couple. Some days it feels very surreal to be able to create and make music, the thing we both love to do, with the person we love so deeply.
One advantage is the rich life and level of knowing each other that it creates. We get to weave in all of these other amazing components of our lives together like teaching music camps, having a common community, attending live shows, and hosting other musicians and bands in our house. All of these things would be harder or maybe even create space between us if we didn’t both do the same thing—instead they bring us closer to each other.
AH: You got your start in Boston. I grew up in Massachusetts and watched MANY concerts in and around Bean Town for many years. What did that scene do to help shape who you are as musicians?
RP: When you get that many young, hungry, amazing musicians together, in any city, there’s this magic cross-pollination. It’s actually one of our favorite things, and what makes American music most American! Boston had its own little melting pot of styles coming together. Luke spent a lot of time jamming with fiddle, bluegrass, and Americana music as well, which is all based around just playing together. Listening to so many friend’s and artist’s sounds, pushed us and developed our own vocabulary. Collaboration and inclusion—encouraging the musicians we believe in, became big values of ours.
AH: Silly question but I’m asking it anyway. What do you want people to love most about Love, DEAN?
RP: I’d say our intention. Of course you want people to praise you for your chops, or ability, or writing, or even your pancake-making skills, but at the end of the day, I’d like to be heard for how we do something, not necessarily the thing itself. Whether it’s simple or complex, we hope it feels full of purpose and beauty.
AH: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
RP: Oh, that’s tough. I want to play it cool and say that I wouldn’t take a peek, and that I prefer to stay in the present… but honestly, right now I’d like the journey! Things feel so uncertain as far as touring, streaming, and how to make a living in this upside-down industry right now. I want to see what could be, and the possibilities ahead! But it might be terrifying or inspiring!
For more information on Love, DEAN, visit www.lovedean.us.
For other interesting interviews, browse through our website, for example here: Key to the Highway: Elizabeth Cook