Artist Interview: Greyson Charnock (Someday River/ FayRoy)
If you have stuck around Orlando’s music scene long enough, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the name Someday River headlining several shows in the city. It’s no surprise that they’ve been able to contribute to the growing indie music scene. The band’s tone transforms spaces into mellow soundscapes that allow for the effortless lyrics of Greyson Charnock to reverberate within the minds of people like you and I.
Though he does play as front man for Someday River, Greyson spends a great deal of time jamming and producing music with other bands that he’s come to know as friends. Among them are FayRoy, a grim surf rock band from St. Pete, Sonic Graffiti, a true-to-the-roots rock band also from St. Pete, as well as Orlando bands, Day Joy (Michael Serrin), and Case Work (Chandler Strang).
Curious about the artist behind the music, Jose Henao and I went to visit Greyson at his home studio. The second we arrived, we could hear the amplified sounds of guitars seeping through the walls. The windows were pretty much vibrating with life. As we later found out, Greyson and his buddy Drew (Sonic Graffiti) were taking a few days to produce the bare bones of an upcoming album for Sonic Graffiti. One musician helping out another – a pretty essential comradery given the hardships of this music industry.
After chatting and being introduced to the studio, we went out to the back patio where I got to sit down with Greyson and pick his brain for a bit. He was really open about his venture into music, his band’s process of crafting their unique sound, and what to expect from both Someday River and FayRoy this year.
Alberto Santos: In 10 seconds, can you tell me who Greyson is?
Greyson Charnock: Oh man, that’s a big one. Well, I’m Greyson. I like to work on music and art, I guess. That’s the main thing that I like to do. I work at a couple of different art galleries and record with a few different bands and play live as much as I can.
AS: You work at art galleries. What do you do there?
GC: I work at Cornell Fine Arts Museum and the UCF Art Gallery. I’m an art handler, basically a preparator. We essentially hang pictures, but in a much grander way than just hanging pictures. Sometimes it’s expensive stuff, sometimes it’s a sculptural piece.
AS: Did you go to school for art?
GC: I got my degree in drawing and print-making. So that was my, I guess, stepping stone. Then I got my gig at the UCF Gallery, which was cool. It’s part-time. So I kind of picked up more and more work at a couple different museums through the process of just working at one, and then meeting people.
AS: Was this your stepping stone into the creative world of both art and music?
GC: Kind of both. I’ve always liked to draw and paint, but I never wanted to go to school for it, because I was like “Oh, I already do that why should I go to school for it?” But that was almost exactly why you should go to school for it, I guess. Just to further that. Instead of the other mindset like “do something new, do something fresh…” as opposed to doing something that isn’t a part of your life with the goal of a career or something like that.
AS: So what’s your take on getting into music and getting into art?
GC: You have to go fully into it, which is what I’m trying to do now. That’s exactly what I’m dealing with now. It’s not like there’s a figuring out point – I have none of it figured out at all. It’s one foot in front of the other type of thing. You try not to miss opportunities. You kind of have to be all in. There’s a lot of failure involved. I mean, paying the bills is something that you have to do. That’s why I feel lucky to work with other artists, because making money on music is near impossible.
AS: How did you get into music?
GC: I started playing guitar when I was in 5th grade. I think I was like 9 or 10. And it was always kind of this background thing, because I lived near the beach. I surfed, skimmed, skateboarded all the time, and that was like my whole deal. I wanted to hang out at the beach, and that’s what we did. So music wasn’t pressing. It wasn’t something that needed to happen right then – until I moved to Orlando, which was like 10 years ago in 2007. I wasn’t so able to be at the beach all the time, you know, in a very direct way. So I started picking up my guitar in a more serious way.
AS: Being away from that coastal atmosphere and moving inland to Orlando, would you say that’s what it took to make you a musician?
GC: Maybe, yeah. It was just this pivotal sort of timing where I moved out on my own, started going to school and meeting new people, and not having access to my day-to-day thing. Which was literally, I mean, everyday – I was at the beach. Which was cool. My friend Zack – his grandma has a place on the beach where we would spend a lot of time at his place, you know. You could walk up and down from the sand and come and go as you please. And that’s such like a content thing to do is chill at the beach. You don’t need more than that when you’re doing that, right? It’s like a vacation or whatever. So yeah, it’s easy to get sucked into that and stay there forever. So literally – I don’t know if it’s Orlando or it could’ve been anywhere – but just getting away from that sort of homeostasis, static beach-world bubble helped.
AS: I want to transition over to your sound in Someday River. You describe it as “experimental folk rock,” while others classify it as indie, funk rock, fuzz rock, even psychedelia. Where do you stand on that?
GC: It’s a rabbit hole, but I think that’s the truth for a lot of bands and a lot of new stuff that comes out. And that’s kind of this thing that’s starting to happen just because of how much influence there is constantly and how accessible different things are. I feel like there was a moment where people had like a favorite song or favorite band and that was their thing. They stuck with that, because those were the records they had and those were the CD’s they bought, or that’s the radio station they listened to. Now’s it’s this constant barrage of there’s so much coming at you. It’s easy to hear it, digest it or not, or move past it. Lots of bands that are coming out have a mixed genre thing going on. I suppose it can be confusing, but it’s also really interesting for the industry or the standard of what music is in general.
There’s still something to be said about consistency, and that is something that I have a lot of trouble with actually. I end up writing different types of genres and from different standpoints; if you jam with the band you make music that’s like this and when you write a song when you’re alone, then it sounds like this. And then, how do you bring that song that you made into the band setting when it was written on the acoustic guitar or something like that. So that’s something that’s always a push and pull for me, is the songs that we write as a group and the songs that I write as a solo artist, and then combining the two and trying not to have this distinct separation.
AS: I can imagine that it’s hard when everyone is bringing different inspirations along with them to the band.
GC: Exactly. It’s really cool. I mean, Sean and Kyle are awesome. They’re so reliable. And they always come through. If we don’t have time to practice or something like that, we just wing it and they’re always on it. So I have to say I like that. And a lot of the songs that we play that are the band-oriented songs, I can’t perform them alone. The rhythm isn’t there. The songs don’t exist without the band.
If I’m kind of like bundled up in the house recording for a record, it doesn’t come to life until I get Sean in on the drums and then Kyle to reiterate some bass lines and there’s something like that. So the songs are much more stagnant until it goes into that setting, if I’m turning it into a full song with drum and bass.
AS: So would you say your songs start ambiguously and take shape over time with the band?
GC: Mhmm. A lot of times in the demoing process and building the structure of a song, I’ll just throw a bunch of different parts to the song that don’t necessarily have their place in order of the song yet. So I’ll just record them and then I can just move them around and find out what kind of structure I want to deal with.
Having all that time to toy around with how the song “should be” or “shouldn’t be”… it’s a good and a bad thing, because you get hung up on things that aren’t important. You’re trying to solve problems that aren’t actually problems. You’ve just heard it so many times, that you’re like “is that the way it should be?” Sometimes those are questions you should be asking, but sometimes you know, it’s all about developing, growing.
AS: Maybe a fresh ear needs to come in?
GC: Exactly, exactly. That’s one thing about working with other people. Having your friends to be in the studio, having the extra set of ears. It changes the way you listen to what you’re working on, absolutely. Not getting hung up on the one song or the one album. You want it to be worthwhile and significant in it’s own right, but the main part of it, for me, is trying to be as prolific as you can be.
AS: Do you worry about your own interpretation of songs or is there room for audience interpretation?
GC: Both. You don’t want to record and think, “what are people going to think of this song?” You want it to be as pure as you can, of a creative process. At the same time, in the process of recording a song, you can’t help but think “what ARE people going to think when they play a song?” Again, it’s gotta be a balance of both. You don’t wanna get bogged up on one thing or another. That’s a question you can’t answer. That’s the whole game.
AS: I read your interpretation of Someday River’s song “Cave,” where you play with literal and abstract concepts, and you’re able to make the song digestible to an audience while maintaining your artistry.
GC: I’ve never had the chance to write about a song (before that), and the meaning of a song. So that’s one of those things, like “Do you even go there and talk about what the song is about?” It’s a cool opportunity, because I actually found out more about the song writing about it than I knew before at all. I didn’t even realize all the things about the song until I had to write about it on paper.
AS: When you’re playing with words like that, how do you pair it with the gear that you use? How do you navigate both of those factors when making music?
GC: That’s kind of what we’re working on in there, the tone of the song. Once you record a song and hear it in a certain way, then people agree that’s the song. But really, there’s a million ways it could have been. When you play it live, there’s a million factors [that effect the song] in space – the sound guy, the room, like literally what’s the floor made of, the ceiling, the walls. I think of the gear as an extension of me. It’s whatever I can get my hands on, or whatever I’ve collected over a long period of time. What resources am I bound to in a way, or what can I afford? That’s a factor. But also, the sound that I’ve come about through all of that. It’s everything that I’ve liked and combined up until this point. For me, it’s all fun. The pedals, the reverbs, the tones. That’s all for fun to jazz up the process and make it interesting for me as the one playing it. The pedals are just an extension. That’s why I would call it experimental. What happens when you combine these two things together and letting there be this “out of control” thing that happens.
AS: The space itself lends a helping hand? Can you talk more about that?
GC: Yeah, so that’s the fun thing about playing other places or out of town. Every venue is so distinctly different. If there’s a venue out of town, bands will go “Oh I know that venue, it’s so fun to play there because of this” or “That place sucks because of this.” I mean, it’s never super cut-and-dry like that, but there’s definitely memorable venues or spaces that are set up properly.
AS: What are some of your most memorable venues?
GC: There’s this place called The Loft in Columbus, Georgia, that is incredible. It’s this tiered wide, low stage. It’s upstairs in this old building. Kind of like a listening room. There’s a place called the Hideaway Café in St. Petersburg. I personally think the sound at Will’s Pub is fantastic in Orlando. The Social is too, but it’s very dependent on where you’re standing. Sometimes you stand in front of the stage it sounds perfect, but if you around the side of the stage and you’re not in front of the monitors then the whole mix is different. So that’s one thing. Will’s Pub is set up so nice, so shout out to Will’s Pub. Their setup is dope.
AS: I’d like to talk about a side project you’ve helped with, FayRoy, which has more of a cryptic surf rock feel. Can you tell us more about that?
GC: The main guys who are the contributing songwriters are Zack Hoag and my buddy Kyle Fournier. Kyle is actually the bassist for Someday River. Him and Zack have been playing together for a long time. They’re based out of St. Pete. They moved to San Francisco for four years and did their thing, and now they’re back here. Basically we have a cool group of dudes; all of us are really close friends. That’s the best part about it and that’s why we’re having so much fun with it. I love the songs they’re writing so I’m happy to be involved. We’re playing at the Henao Contemporary Center on the 10th for their album release show.
AS: What else can we look forward to from you and the bands you’re in?
GC: So FayRoy is releasing an album. They’re gonna do several shows in Florida. We’re gonna do Panama City Beach, New Orleans, Austin, Pensacola, St. Augustine, and then back to St. Pete. Maybe a Gainesville in there, I’m not sure. So FayRoy is touring out to SXSW, and basically there’s already two of three members of Someday River in that group so we’re flying Sean (drummer of Someday River) out to Austin and we’re playing SXSW as well. It’s really exciting. I’ve never done anything like that and I’m totally so excited for it and that’s just a couple of weeks away. And with Drew (Sonic Graffiti), we’re tracking a record this weekend. We’re going to slam like ten songs in the next three days. Which I’ve never done anything like that before. It’s totally off-the-cuff rock and roll music so I’m interested to see how it goes. March is a busy month. Someday River is playing Ringling Underground, we’re doing this thing called Don’t Stop St. Pete as well, and we have a couple of shows in Orlando and Tampa as well.
For more updates, check out Someday River here: http://www.somedayriver.com/
and FayRoy here:
©HENAO Contemporary Center LLC & Alberto Santos