Trails and Ways

Oakland’s Trails and Ways started 2013 with a bang: they sold out Cafe Du Nord and released Detornar-Se, a remix album that features reworks from Wallpaper and Yalls, among others. The band gained notoriety early in their existence with some outstanding covers of popular songs, most notably M83‘s “Midnight City”. However, I think their dreamy, gloabally influenced pop originals (such as “Nunca”) are where their true strength lies.

I caught up with Trails and Ways vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Keith Brower Brown via email to discuss their history, their future, and life as a band in the Bay. Below the interview, you can listen to Oakland’s budding pop superstar Wallpaper’s remix of “Mtn Tune” from Detornar-Se, which can be downloaded on iTunes. Trails and Ways play The New Parish in Oakland on Friday night, a gig that will be their last in the Bay Area for several months. Details are below.

The Bay Bridged: For those that aren’t familiar, could you give us a little background on how the band got together?

Keith Brower Brown: We all knew each other living in the co-op houses at Berkeley. When we graduated, Emma

[Oppen, T&W’s bassist] went to live in Spain, I went to live in Brazil, and we both spent our time with open ears, tinkering on songs. Quirk [Ian Quirk, T&W’s drummer] and I started experimenting in his bedroom studio when I got back. By early 2012 we were all back together here and played our first show as the full incarnation of T&W.

TBB: You gained a great deal of notoriety for your covers (well deserved, I might add) – could you talk about how their popularity made an impact on the band? Do you feel any pressure to continue to release covers of well-known songs?

KBB: I guess a cover always makes for a good introduction; if you know the original you can really hear the personality of the covering band. We like how central they figure in jazz, how interpretation is so much of the art. We wanted to do some unfaithful covers that took disparate songs we liked, and make them in a way that convey our own edge, where we’re coming from. Don’t feel much pressure to keep doing them, though–we have plenty of originals in the works–but definitely won’t rule it out, we’ve tossed around some ideas.

TBB: What made you decide to release a remix EP, and how did it come to fruition?

KBB: We had some producers approach us out of the blue with remix ideas, and we thought, why not ask a few other friends to do a song and wrap it into one release? Electronic music informs us a lot in how we make music, including lots of it from the Oakland scene, so we knew it’d be rad to hear these folks take apart and remake our songs.

TBB: What are some pros and cons of forming and having a band in Oakland?

KBB: There’s a crazy amount to learn from the art and politics here, and a scene of musicians pushing boundaries, and the low density means we can practice with amps and drums in a bedroom without any neighbors on floors above or below to call cops on us. If there’s any challenges it’s that I think artists here—particularly ones with privileges like ours—have to make a serious effort if they don’t want to become the shock troops of gentrification, something I don’t ever want to be or to soundtrack.

TBB: I know you’re all big fans of Bells Atlas – who are some other Bay Area bands that you are feeling right now?

KBB: Bells Atlas, Astronauts Etc., The Seshen, Idea the Artist, Waterstrider, Chucha Santamaria y Usted, The Bilinda Butchers; I’ve really been feeling the hints of new material I’ve heard.

TBB: Aside from heading to SXSW in March, what is on the horizon for the band in 2013?

KBB: Recording, a single we’re releasing as an interactive web piece, a debut, touring to the east coast for festivals in the summer, and who knows what beyond.

Trails and Ways, Incan Abraham, Bells Atlas, Cuckoo Chaos
The New Parish
February 8, 2013
9pm, $7-10