California girl Tori Lund and Georgia boy Blake English make up the Americana duo Few Miles South. The two met singing and playing at a church in LA and bonded over their love of country music. They began writing music with the intention to shop songs to other artists, but found themselves wanting to keep more and more songs for themselves — which led them to starting a band of their own.
I got the chance to chat with both of them about how they first met, their new album californ I aint, what inspired their current single “Purple Skies” and so much more! Keep reading to see what they had to say!
How did you guys first meet?
Tori: [We met] about 5 years ago, in a church back in Los Angeles. I was singing and Blake was playing guitar and running around.
What inspired your duo name, Few Miles South?
Blake: We’re both from the southern parts of our states — Tori is from Southern CA and I’m from South GA. It’s also something I grew up saying; someone asks directions and you say it’s just a “few miles south” of wherever. We’d been over thinking a band name and Tori heard me say it one day and that was it. No real deep meaning!
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. You guys would be typically classified as a country duo, but if you had to describe your sound without using genre names, how would you describe it?
Tori: We always say “twangy” when someone asks, so I guess twangy honky tonk. We also strive to be honest and tell the truth as much as possible so maybe “honest twangy honky tonk” [laughs].
Let’s talk about your new album, californ I aint, which I know is the name of one of the tracks on the album. Why did you want to name the album this?
Tori: We both met in California and immediately bonded over our desire to move. I was born and raised there and Blake had been working out there for about 18 years. We wanted a change of pace, to be surrounded by trees and nature and just simplify. So we moved back to Blake’s hometown in the woods of south Georgia. We’re not really Cali people, never felt like we fit in, and now have no plans of ever moving back.
What was the recording process like for this album? How long did it take for this to come together from start to finish?
Blake: It was maybe a slow process because we have the convenience of recording at home and nitpicking every little thing!
Tori: Blake is a producer and engineer and has always had studio. So when we moved, we set [it] up in an extra bedroom. We’ve had some of those songs for a couple years, so it was just deciding which ones we thought made sense as a group and then refining our sound. I’d say all and all it probably took 2 years.
The current single from the album is “Purple Skies.” What’s the story behind this song?
Tori: We chose this song as the single because it has perhaps the most unique story behind it. One of the first full band gigs we ever got was out in the desert in Arizona and we jumped at the chance. Upon arrival, we realized things were a bit strange — the staff all had very unusual names, there was a certain type of literature laid out and the vibe was just odd. One of our friends and bandmates caught on and began asking questions; right before we took the stage we found out we were playing for a doomsday cult! So the song is about beliefs, perceptions of truth and the urge to belong.
I always love hearing about the songwriting process so I was wondering if you could give me a glimpse into what it was like specifically for “Purple Skies.”
Blake: It got put on pause for at least a year, though we kept coming back to the concept and reminiscing about what happened.
Tori: I keep a journal and Blake and I both use voice memos to track our ideas so I think we had pieces and then one night we sat on the porch swing and brought it all together.
Blake: The song came pretty quickly once we sat down, but I guess it had to marinate for a while.
Do you guys tend to write by yourselves or do you like collaborating with other writers and artists in co-writes?
Tori: So far we’ve written everything together. We’re definitely open to collaborating with others, but I think it’s been good and necessary for us to write alone together in order to hone in our style. I had never written a song until I met Blake and he’d been doing it since he was a kid, so he taught me a lot. Now I have more confidence and don’t feel as timid, so writing has become more natural. I think we’ve developed trust in sharing intimate thoughts that I don’t know if I could share with someone random right off the bat, but that’s part of the joy in collaborating.
Blake: We think very differently so if one of us has an incomplete idea the other usually has the missing piece.
Was there any major changes to “Purple Skies” that happened once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
Blake: Maybe in the instrumentation. I heard slide guitar after the first rough version, which I don’t usually play, so that was a fun challenge to figure out. I think it gives it a darker quality that was missing before.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Tori: Depends on the day you ask me, but right now Linda Ronstadt, Anne Wilson, Alison Krauss, Loretta Lynn. I also just rewatched Coal Miners Daughter the other night so Loretta is in my ear.
Blake: Lately, I’ve been listening to Western Centuries. [I] grew up on whatever my Dad played, [so] lots of Hank Williams, The Band, Allman Brothers. My Mom listened to a lot of Motown.
What do you guys hope people take away from this album and your music in general?
Tori: We hope they relate to the stories, enjoy the tunes and feel something. We just want to make music we love and cross our fingers that others love it too. But if they don’t, we’ll keep making it anyway.
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
Tori: Currently and always our dogs, Tater and Tot. Some might call us obsessed. If we weren’t doing music, and had the money, we’d open a sanctuary for dogs.
Blake: For sure!