The Accidentals are revisiting the well, but this time it’s filled with a different body of refreshing water. With their Time Out Sessions #2 EP, the trio has concocted a beautiful collection of co-writes with some of the industry’s most accomplished and admired songwriters, including Beth Nielsen Chapman, Tom Paxton, Gretchen Peters, Peter Mulvey, Maia Sharp, and Gary Burr.
Needless to say, it’s no Accidentals’ accident that each track is as memorable as the collaborator who took part.
I recently sat down with Sav Buist and Katie Larson to discuss namaste narratives, building the life puzzle, and foodie finds.
AH: Time Out Sessions #2 is now out in the world. What are your hopes/expectations for the EP? If you had your way, who would it reach and how would it impact them?
KL: The Time Out EP’s are a project of co-writes with writers who have inspired us to be songwriters so they are really different from our typical Accidentals sound. Our lyrics have always been Americana in nature but the music is usually pop and the energy is punk. Time Out is literal. It’s just the lyrics and whatever music it takes to cradle them. These songs are singer-songwriter songs, more stripped down and focused on lyrics and stories. They’re more emotional, more vulnerable. They’ll likely end up on your coffee house playlist. (Laughter)
We hope the EP just gives people a minute to breathe and be still. It’s like ear yoga. We hope people can relate to these songs and know they are not alone. We’re not alone. It’s like a group hug.
AH: There is so much atmosphere on the EP that it almost feels like you can breathe the songs in. Beyond setting out to write quality songs, do the three of you also seek to create a feeling or vibe with your music?
SB: Thank you, we’re gonna steal that for a website quote!
The goal of the whole project is connection and collaboration, getting past our differences and finding common ground. I think we all got a dose of what isolation feels like and we didn’t like it. This EP series was born out of necessity, and it grew into something beautiful that we didn’t know we needed. The vibe is definitely a byproduct of needing time to reflect and rest. Everything is muted compared to our Vessel album that also came out in 2021. Vessel’s branding was the brightest color we could envision, and Time Out is subtle, simple, less produced—like the songs. The vibe is chill.
AH: You have referred to the Time Out sessions as a multigenerational bridge between songwriters/creators. Beyond the music itself, what have you taken away from working with these amazing artists who have paved the way for your generation of musicians and generations to come? How have they impacted you beyond The Accidentals?
SB: Holy cow yeah, more than we could have imagined. We’re in our 20s trying to figure out all these complex life hacks and what our place is in the big picture. These humans have been where we are and survived it. (Laughter) No lie, we’ve done a lot in our short time here, but we’re writing with people who have so much life and music experience beyond our 10 years of being in this business, it’s been life-changing for us. Hall of Fame songwriter, Beth Nielsen Chapman, was our first co-write. She has survived breast cancer, a brain tumor, between watching Elton John sing her song in front of millions of people and Faith Hill blowing up the charts with a song you co-wrote. What a roller coaster ride. She is walking inspiration that we’re gonna be okay. She knows first-hand about overcoming and persistence and failure and success and she is on fire with a new album coming out this year. She is our hero. Maia Sharp gave me permission I didn’t know I needed to accept myself, flaws and all. She just gets to the heart of it. Kim Richey is one of the greatest writers and the most underrated artists in the history of all things. She’s so real and honest and she didn’t hesitate to bring us into her world and give us a first-hand view of the kind of relationships we strive to create. She is one of the best. We write with Tom Paxton every week and he taught us that one word can be as impactful as a whole paragraph and if you’re not early, you’re late. He is always early. Dar Williams paints pictures with words when she talks. Gretchen Peters is brilliant and more sensitive to the world. Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman are wicked funny. We could go on and on. Every one of these co-writes has left us with another piece of the life puzzle.
AH: How do you go into these creative powwows without self-doubt or nerves given how much each has accomplished in their careers?
KL: We don’t. We’re usually awake most of the night worrying about it. Eventually, we decided we should send a verse and a chorus of something ahead of time in case we get stuck. Sometimes we’re up all night just trying to come up with that. Especially when we have back-to-back co-writes and we want to send an idea starter to each. Usually, when we get together with another writer, we just talk about life until we find something we have in common. Suddenly we’re okay and the story starts to unfold. It’s a little like talk therapy in that you don’t go in thinking your gonna bare your soul, but you usually do in some form or another. We’ve had to be open and more trusting—that’s a lot of what “Wide Open” is about, our co-write with Gretchen Peters. It was prompted by an Emily Dickinson poem called “Hope Is a Thing with Feathers.” It’s about daring to step out of your comfort zone.
AH: Is there a contributor out there that you are still hoping to land for a future co-writing session?
SB: Top 10 Bucket list, in any order: Indigo Girls, Brandi Carlile, Stevie Nicks, Brittany Howard, Niko Case, Lianne La Havas, Sarah Jarosz, Anna Tivel, Ani Difranco, Amy Mann…we could go on and on.
AH: What would someone learn about The Accidentals in sitting down to listen to the EP front to back?
KL: If they’re listening to the production, they’ll hear that we’re referencing Indigo Girls, Stevie Nicks, James Taylor, Brandi Carlile, and John Mayer while we are recording.
If they are listening to the lyrics, they’ll probably hear that we’re processing life in general, like most people. They will hear the loss and laughter, beauty and grief. Mostly, they will hear hope and empowerment. We’re stepping out of our comfort zone even when it’s hard, we’re coming into our own voice and learning to love ourselves. We’re silencing the self-doubt and we’re stepping up. We’re learning acceptance, forgiveness, and grace.
AH: You have been together for nearly a decade. How has growing up together helped to forge your creative bond? Are you closer today than when you first started writing as teenagers?
KL: Yeah, we really are. We’re family. We accept each other unconditionally and we’re there for each other. It’s been a blessing to have best friends to travel with. Sometimes it feels more like a road trip than a job. Don’t get me wrong, we fight, and we totally know each other’s triggers, but we have mad respect for each other and want the best for each other—there are no egos and no jealousy.
SB: Only I am allowed to pick on Katie. We’re more likely to fight over who must take the bed vs. the couch.
AH: How has your songwriting evolved in that timeframe? As you have matured as people, how has your creative output matured?
SB: We’ve grown so much it’s hard to frame in words. We’re writing for ourselves but we’re writing for other people as well. The writing is more personal but also more accessible. We’ve gotten out of our own heads a bit but also dug a lot deeper into the emotional side of who we are. It’s been a big couple of years where we’re constantly growing as people, as artists, as songwriters. Maybe to sum it up, we’re less guarded and more open to letting other people witness and influence our process.
AH: You are currently on the road in the midwest supporting the EP. What is your favorite thing about being out on the highways and byways for an extended period of time?
KL: The food. For sure the food. We’re foodies. Even though Sav can’t smell or taste (born that way), we’re still always looking for the best eats on the road. We have host homes in just about every city so it’s incredible to visit that extended family when we travel and see the people that keep us rolling. They do so many incredible things for us, every stop is a treat. Whether it’s hanging with their animals, having a homemade meal, or getting introduced to something local that our hosts think we’ll enjoy. That’s the best. Playing to a full house is a total endorphins rush. The energy that gets exchanged is hard to beat.
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?
SB: Absolutely. It’s been a wild ride. No doubt. There have been sacrifices and trauma. There have been incredible highs and incredible lows. One rarely comes without the other though. Without the worst of it, we wouldn’t appreciate the best of it. It’s all the journey. There is no “finish line or success” there are just peaks and valleys and where you are right now is all that is guaranteed. We try to be super present and soak in everything. Sav journals every trip because it goes so fast we sometimes can’t remember what happened. We remind each other to be thankful, grateful, in the moment. We’re in it. We’re traveling with people we love, creating, making friends, we have this unique experience of getting a birds-eye view of so many people’s lives. We just try to live it fully. Always take the journey.
For more information on The Accidentals, visit www.theaccidentalsmusic.com.