Brooklyn based duo, Early Riser, is comprised of permanent members Kiri Oliver and Heidi Vanderlee. Kiri is the groups guitarist, while Heidi plays the cello, while other musicians lend a hand on additional instruments. Both share vocal duties, and craft beautiful tunes -- we have a review for their debut LP, Currents, up here.
We recently had the chance to ask both Kiri and Heidi some questions regarding their recent experience at FEST in Gainesville, FL, new musicians that they've checked out, forming a band, and more! Check out their answers below, and head on over to their Spotify / Bandcamp to listen to their fun pop/folk jams.
Q: What was your overall FEST experience like, both on and off of the stage?
A: Kiri: It was great! We were very lucky to play our first-ever Fest show at Loosey’s on Friday night with an amazing lineup. The vibe there was so good and helped us play our best. Overall, as an introvert I honestly found the weekend pretty overwhelming, but saw some great sets and a lot of friends. And ate most of my meals at Pop-a-Top—shout out to the $5 vegan pad Thai.
Q: Which new artists did you check out at FEST?
A: Kiri: We’re embarrassed that it was our first time seeing Ellen & the Degenerates since they’re also from Brooklyn, but they were incredible and it was fun seeing a big crowd get really into them. We also saw Nightmarathons, a Pittsburgh punk band from our label (A-F Records) for the first time, and really enjoyed their set as well. Mostly we supported our friends' bands and went to Chris Gethard's shows, since we work on his TV show booking the musical guests.
Q: What are your thoughts on festival culture in general, and how do you think that FEST fits into that?
A: Kiri: I’m not sure what counts as festival culture since there are so many different types, but Fest is definitely different than any other one I’ve been to. It’s a true community based around music and shared interests, rather than a big moneymaker for a promoter or a place for bands to try to get “buzz.” It’s fun being out of town with a large group of friends and acquaintances and future friends, and feeling comfortable having coffee and conversations and seeing bands with whoever’s around at the time.
Q: There were multiple queer / POC / non-male artists included on the line up this year. What else, besides of course including those types of artists in a line up, would be beneficial to creating an over all more inclusive experience?
A: Heidi: Having different kinds of people playing music and being represented at Fest benefits everyone because hanging out with folks who are exactly the same as you all the time can get pretty boring. Punk takes many different forms. You just have to look for it and keep your ears open.
Q: What advice do you have for people (specifically non-males) who are interested in forming a band but aren't sure where to start?
A: Heidi: Just do it. Don’t worry about the future, just get some people together who want to play music and do it. Play as many shows as you can and work out your sound both in practice and on stage. Find your allies and support other female/non-binary bands. Also, learn about your instruments and gear inside and out so when you inevitably deal with a shitty mansplaining sound guy at a show, you know how to advocate for yourself. This last part is monumentally stupid and unfair but it’s something I wish I knew when I started playing shows.
Q: So many people have come forward recently to talk about inappropriate behavior from both actors and musicians. How do you feel is the best way to hold people in a local scene accountable for their actions?
A: Heidi: Remember that while it’s important to call out abusers, it’s also up to the victim to dictate when and if they want their story told. Don’t make it about you or contribute to the victim’s trauma, no matter how well-intentioned you are. If you’re cleared to share the information and If you see a friend booking or playing with a known abuser, let them know what’s up.