Ree Boado of Dearspeak on Sharing Stories, Mending the Soul, and Local Musical Friends

Dearspeak is celebrating the release of their new EP, Oh For Freedom by inviting you to join them for a biographical night of music and art. We talked to lead vocalist Ree Boado earlier this year about her solo work, but right now she's concentrating on making music with Dearspeak and she's having a blast.

Ree spoke with Up on the Sun about storytelling, jamming with friends, and the group's collaborative work with Mending the Soul.

Dearspeak is scheduled to perform Saturday, October 8 at New City.

Up On The Sun: How did you guys come up with the biographical storytelling theme?

Ree Boado: I was thinking about it and I was just like, "I want to do something different. What is the way to do something different?" I kind of thought of it because of something I've been getting involved with. It's this organization called Mending the Soul that basically wrote a curriculum to help girls that have been trafficked for sex trafficking. It's helping them recover and heal [because the organization] understands what they went through. I donated some songs from my solo album, and Dearspeak donated one song from our album too. 

We've been doing these concerts with them [that involve] stories and art and music. It's been really crazy powerful. I guess sharing our story of why we wrote the song, and what pain and abuse that we've gone through, made me think, "How can I bring this to a regular concert in some sort of way?" It's just really cool for people to hear more behind the songs. People have really connected with that like, "I appreciated when you said that," or, "That happened to me." That made me think about how we can bring that dynamic to another regular concert.

I think it's nice that you get to share your stories in between songs. It really can help people relate, you're right.

I just kind of think that our world is really disconnected right now in a lot of ways. It's so technological. But so often we don't really know what people are feeling or going through.

It's very impersonal now.

Yeah, seriously. So that's why I was trying to bring that element [into the show]. I feel like everyone needs this element. Everyone wants to connect with people more. They want to be known and they want people to know them more, but it's hard for that to happen sometimes. That's kind of what I hope will happen a little bit at the show.

Tell me how Dearspeak has grown and progressed since your last release.

We've grown and progressed quite a bit. We've done more touring in the last year than we did before. We've changed; our sound has a more narrow [scope]. I write most of the music. Sometimes they write, and they write their parts too. Most of the time I bring in a whole song and then they write their parts to that, but there are some songs like "Holy Rolling Stone" that we started jamming on and then we all wrote it together.

We have different members now. It's still the drummer and I. We were a three-piece and now we're a four-piece. We'll have a friend of ours, actually five people, at the show just kind of filling out the sound. We added Teresa, who plays keys a little bit and glockenspiel and miscellaneous things, and she sings background. She's really good. And my husband David is actually playing in the band now! He plays bass, and he plays guitar on one or two songs. [We'll also have] Matt Bopp, who I was in a pop-punk band with six or seven years ago. He's going to play guitar at the show. I thought to ask him at the last minute, just to fill out the sound more. It sounds really awesome, so we're pretty excited.

How did you decide on the openers for the show? It seems as though a lot of your musical friends will be joining you guys!

I was trying to get a bunch of our friends! They're people that we know, but we don't know the background of their songs. But there's some thick content, and I want to know what they're about. I love Tobie Milford's music, and he's a really cool guy. I've always wanted to know more about what his songs are about. It's the same with Obadiah Parker. He has some heavy stuff going on sometimes, and I think, "What's this?" It's interesting. But yes, most of them are friends or people we've played with before.

I met Obadiah Parker at a show a few years back. Tobie actually played the violin on our song "Disappear" on our EP. He's going to play it with us at the show too, and that will be awesome.

What's the most special aspect to you of working with the other members of Dearspeak as opposed to just working as a solo artist?

Sometimes I just get sick of working as a solo artist. I like the idea of a band. It's more like a family. You're doing it together with [other] people. Anytime somebody gets on a stage they're putting themselves out there. You can either do that by yourself, but that gets kind of lonely sometimes, or you can do it with other people, which to me is just more fun. And if you have a really lame show, like no one comes, at least you can look around and have fun with the band members. But when it's just yourself and no one's there, it's just lonely.

What's one thing that people will get at this show that they can't get at any other show?

We're having SentRock, an artist, in the back with a bunch of easels and paintings set up. In between the bands setting up and taking down, we're going to have him on a microphone headset, and he'll be telling the background [of his work]. I asked some of the bands or artists to tell people how they got into art or what it was that got them into music, or the passion behind that that pushed them towards it. Maybe it'll be a story of who they are. I think that's the thing that's going to be different because you just don't see that a lot.

I think that's the thing that keeps musicians going, to some extent: to feel like they can share a piece of themselves. It's not always that comfortable, but I'm not going to make anybody share anything they don't want to share. I think that's missing from a lot of concerts. I think music is so much about connecting your soul with people, and the emotions in your song or what you were going through or feeling at the time, whether it's good or bad. I just love when artists share what inspired them, just that whole creative process of, "What came into their mind?" or, "What happened?" or what somebody said, and then they wrote this song. I've always liked VH1 Storytellers and stuff like that, so it's kind of [the same] idea but with a variety of people.

It's going to be really cool because it's going to be really diverse. We added a couple of people to the lineup. David, my husband, works at Arcadia High School, and he went to the music program and asked if there were any students who wanted to audition! There's for sure going to be one solo artist. She plays ukulele and stuff. She's really good, and she's going to play a short set. Everyone's going to be doing kind of short sets so that it's not a gigantic long night, yet you're getting this taste of what's going on in Phoenix.

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Lenni Rosenblum