Before their concert, band Birds of Chicago, featuring husband and wife duo JT Nero and Allison Russell, was kind enough to sit down for an interview with Étude Studios Interns. Birds of Chicago has been together since 2012, and they provide an eclectic mix of folk and indie style music.
Nero, Russell, and the interns discussed how the band plays to their strengths and how they set themselves apart from others in the folk music scene. Nero explained that they tend to avoid approaching their music with the intention of setting themselves ‘apart.’
“In some ways we are all, if you are in music or any art, you are a product of all the music and art that has come before you,” Nero said. “We do always acknowledge the myriad of things that have influenced us, because we see ourselves as part of a tradition now.”
Nero and Russell agreed that the reason they create music and art is purely to fulfill their own needs of expression. Because of this, setting themselves apart is never really the main focus. Similar to the beliefs of the Etude Group of Schools, the band seeks only to make art that they love. They believe that everything after that — the following, the albums and everything else — is merely secondary. The duo emphasized that they felt the need to be authentic with their writing.
“An artist’s only responsibility is to be honest to what you’re feeling in that moment,” Nero said. The fact that their music is considered within the folk genre was never their intent. “We subscribe to kind of the widest definition of what folk music is. For me folk music is whatever mode of music is reaching the most people right now. It is whatever music is, lyrically, getting to the most people,” Nero said.
Even though they are fairly local, originating from Chicago, the band Birds of Chicago has managed to reach wide and far with their authentic writing styles and intentions behind their music. Sharing their music at Etude Sessions inspires even more people to be honest with their art.