Treva Blomquist is blessed with an extraordinary vocal range – forceful and edgy on its low end, precise yet vulnerable on the high side. Her own crafted, hook-laced self-penned tunes – heartfelt songs of life and relationships – exhibit a strong sense of careful observation and storytelling.
She was a finalist in the 2005 Kerrville (Texas) New Folk Competition, won Honorable mention in the USA Songwriting Competition’s “folk” category and the Grand Prize Winner at the RiverBluff Performing Songwriter Competition soon followed, as did her first, acoustic independent CD, ‘Plain Vanilla Me’ (2006), followed by ‘As It Shoud Be’ (2008), and her brand new release ‘These Fading Things’ (June 2011). Here is Treva Blomquist.
One of the greatest thing I get to do is to search the web for amazing new bands and wonderfully adroit and gifted singer/songwriters. A little like treasure hunting and when I find treasure like your music I am gladdened and assured that the singing/storytelling craft will always be a part of the good things about being human. Thank you!
Treva, I always ask this question because it counts in what makes an artist – can you give us a little of your life’s journey?
I was born and raised in a little town called Chehalis in Washington state. I moved to Nashville to attend college (MTSU) and majored in Music Industry with an emphasis in Vocal Performance. I worked, lived, married, wrote, sang, and just overall busted my butt in Nashville for the next 5 years or so. Then my husband was offered a job in Conway Arkansas which would allow me to focus on music full time (instead of balancing my music with a full time job I was working in Nashville) and we decided to take it. I’ve been in Conway for the past two years and am loving it. I have an 8 month old little boy and love balancing my music career with him (my new full time job, ha! ).
What had you decide to move to Nashville?
Nashville is music city. It’s a songwriters haven. I had visited a friend in Nashville and loved it. I was accepted at MTSU and thought I’d just attend school there and then return home. But I loved it so much I stayed.
How is the audience response different in Nashville from other cities in which you have played ?
Nashville is Music City – when you play in Nashville, 75% of the folks at your show are in one way or another a part of the Music Industry. It’s intimidating when you know there is a great songwriter in the room, or an amazing guitar player – and that they are there listening to your set. It sharpens you and quickly separates the ‘good’ from the ‘great’. To me, my time in Nashville showed me the immense talent that exists, and forced me to jump in the water and learn to swim as I go. In Nashville, you quickly become a small fish in a very large ocean.
Would you advise other serious songwriters to move there?
Definitely. Nashville is an incredible songwriting community. Folks there are nice and supportive and want to see you succeed. It really is an amazing city and an amazing community of songwriters.
Dave and I have friends from Nashville and it seems this is a town of writing collaboration. You have done that wonderfully – can you introduce us to your writing partner (s) and give us a little of the differences in writing methods between writing alone and writing with a collaborator?
On my new album I have several collaborations. A couple songs with my guitarist from The Suits (my band), Ben Gortmaker. When I write with him, often I bring him a song that I’ve gotten stuck on and he ‘unsticks’ it. He’s an incredible guitar player and creates some really beautiful melodies, too. ‘I Don’t Even Know You’ was one that he had started and I helped him finish. ‘You Don’t Believe’ was one that I started and he helped me finish.
I also have two songs with Jeff Pardo, who I met at church. He’s an incredible writer who comes up with really really great content. He writes for Simpleville Music and plays a mean piano. He also plays on a few of the tracks on my new record. And then there’s two songs with Carolyn Miller, who I met at a Songwriting Conference called Durango. We were room mates at the conference, and totally hit it off. She’s now a dear and close friend to me. Our songs have been born from conversations we’ve had a friends. Because we are friends, I think we write well together because there is an honesty and a love for one another that I think shows in the songs we’ve written together.
And then there’s ‘Promise Me’ – with John Hamlin. This song took us forever to write! But it was worth it, I’m really happy with this song and proud of it too. I think it took us almost a year to get this song finished – our schedules were both very busy and each time we got together, we’d only get a few lines that we both really liked. But, our pickiness and our ability to stick it out and finish the song definitely paid off.
Your band rocks – how about introducing ‘The Suits’.
The Suits have nothing but great qualities. Ben Gortmaker sings, plays guitar, writes songs, and is one of the tallest dudes in the world. He can also grow one of the most fierce beards you’ll ever see. Brad Odum plays drums and is a master gardener. Drew Wilson is a bass player who can groove with the best of them. They are the core of The Suits. I occasionally have Hitoshi Yamaguchi on cello, who is one of the most precise people you will ever meet, and Eric Quarim on keys, who gets teased about being an ‘old man’ just because he’s the oldest.
I have always wanted to sit down and write, pick, and sing a song with Willy Nelson and Emmy Lou Harris. What would be your soon-to-be-not secret Nashville wish?
I’d love to sit down with Patty Griffin or Buddy Miller or Julie Miller. I have the utmost respect for each of them and would just love to pick their brain, hear their thoughts, sing with them, cook them dinner, walk their dog (ha!)… anything. :) They’re amazing artists and musicians.
Your work is so solid and crisp. The lyrics are lovely and assessable – what is your process when you sit down to write?
I just try to be honest and conversational. And I try to make sure that the song makes sense and is easy to follow.
What motivates you to write?
Anything. Life, love, my sweet little boy fast asleep in my arms, my dogs, my husband, my need for something new to play, my family, my friends, movies, books… I could go on and on.
You seem to roll pretty easily between genres. In what genre do you most like to write and perform?
I think I enjoy writing the singer-songwriter type songs most — the ones that are less radio friendly and more acoustic and raw and honest. But I LOVE singing those bluesy and soulful songs. Mmmm. Love it,.
My vote is the bluesy R&B vibe.
It’s a rare thing for a singer/songwriter to write and perform with such honesty – where the performance is an authentic, and a life affecting, conversation between the performer and the audience. Do you strive for that or is that vulnerability a natural function of who you are?
Both. It’s my aim – so I’m glad to hear that’s what your assessment is! I’m also a terrible liar, so it’s also just a part of who I am.
You had blogged that you are a rule follower – is that true in your songwriting and performing?
Yes and no. I know many of the songwriting rules, and I’ve studied songwriting diligently. I follow the rules within reason. I don’t let the rules become a rigid frame that I have to fit an idea into — I try to morph the two together. I’ve been told that you have to know the rules before you are allowed to break them. I think that’s good advice for songwriting, too.
I love your videos – you seem to have natural ease when you perform – has that always been so?
I get so nervous – especially when I’m performing for people I know. Give me a huge room full of folks I don’t know and I’m happy as a lark. But put me at a concert where I’m playing for my friends and/or peers and I’m SO nervous. You’d think it would be the opposite way around, but not for me.
“If I had a penny for every kiss
Every time you made me feel like this
No need to save them all away,
I’m not expecting rain
Everyday could be a sunny day
I could get used to this”
From ‘I Could Get Used To This’
As A fan and songwriter myself , I loved this piece for it’s perfect simplicity – emotion expressed adroitly and economically. Would you give us a little songwriters workshop on this song?
I wrote it with Scott Sanford. We were just having a conversation and we turned it into the song. It was all real emotions and real life happening – so it was easy to write about. A good rule of thumb for songwriting is ‘Write What You Know’. If you’ve never been divorced, odds are, you’re not going to be able to write a hit song about it — so just stick with what you know. I have a lot of love songs, and I hope I’ll have a lot more still to come in this life.
You are a wonderful guitar player – how much is the music essential to the song for you as a writer?
It requires both in order to be a song – so that’s a really hard question. I have been blessed in that I’m friends with many amazing musicians and I try to learn as much as I can from them whenever I’m given the opportunity.
Lyric first or music?
It’s different every time.
‘It’s what you do when
the cards are yours
And what you do when the pain is yours
It’s what you do when the cards are yours
but you didn’t want to play the game’
From ‘When the Cards Are Yours’
Great song – what’s the story behind this song?
I had started the chorus for song and then was puzzled with what direction it needed to take. So I just left it unfinished. Then one night one of my friends opened up to me about some really heavy stuff she was dealing with. It was so hard to hear and so hard to know what to say that would offer comfort. I chewed on her words for a long time, and that next week when I sat to write it just came out as ‘When the Cards Are Yours.’
My favorite song, a jazzy R&B number, for great lyric and incredible vocals is ‘I Don’t even Know you’ What works for me is the taking of a interesting ‘relationship’ subject and writing about it in a fresh new way -the line’…your last name fits my last name’ was joyous for me. How did this song come into being?
This is one that Ben had started writing and I was at his house and able to help him finish it. It was a fun song – I loved the playful, groovy guitar part. I can’t remember how that specific line came into being.
The new CD ‘These Fading Things’ is out. Congratulations – how is the reaction from your fans?
So far so good! I haven’t had any complaints or bad reviews yet – so I think I’m on the right track
There is little of an endearing and emotional resignation in ‘Plain Vanilla Me’ was the writing a bit biographical?
Completely biographical. I was in college and searching for who I was and what I was going to do with my life.
What is the feeling in the new CD ‘These Fading Things’ as a whole work?
That is a hard question for me – I tried to put songs together that I thought flowed. The songs are about relationships – both good ones and bad ones – and about changes within people. I picked the title from ‘Chasing After You’ and was aiming for the overall feeling of the album to be one of searching for and finding things that matter in this life.
You have a new baby, wonderful thing that – I loved this from your blog ‘As I sit rocking him to sleep it seems all is perfect in the world.’ What are your plans for the future?
So far, my son has come with me to my shows. We pack everybody up and we make it work. I’m blessed to have a very supportive husband. Plans for the future are more shows and more kids.:)
Thank you Treva, we wish you the very best with your career.
|You can visit Treva at:
|Listen to a selection of songs
from Treva Blomquist’s EP
“These Fading Things” 1. You Don’t Believe You Don’t Believe
2. On Your Own
3. So Wrong for You
4. Slow it Down
5. Chasing After You
6. Poor Wayfaring Stranger
7. I Write the Book
8. Live A Little
9. I Don’t Even Know You I Don’t Even Know You
11. Promise Me Promise Me
12. Nobody’s Fault
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