By Jules Lavallee
Los Angeles, California (The Hollywood Times) 08/19/2020 – They are the successful duo taking to the virtual stage and fans are loving it! Liza Carbe & JP Durand have written music for TV and film, which can be heard in everything from Bridesmaids to Law and Order. They just finished their book, “Thrive and Survive in the Music Business.”
What do you enjoy most about performing?
Liza: Being home and not performing in front of an audience has really highlighted what we do love about performing. It’s really about the exchange of energy. Having people get excited and respond in real-time to what we are doing. We have been doing these live streams since the lockdown but it is not the same, although it’s still a great connection under the circumstances. We try to make up for it by joking around with the people that we know are watching. It’s fun to answer the comments after we’re done. You know, it’s nice to talk and commune with people and our fans. However, the live experience and the interaction with our fans is what we love. You get those moments where everyone is firing on all cylinders and the audience is with you. There is nothing like that.
JP: I love that you can contour a show to the audience. If they are reacting a certain way if they are younger if they are older if they are responding to ballads, or mostly to the uptempo material. Then you can sculpt a unique experience that’s only in that moment and won’t be repeated. It’s a very special experience to share. Then you can come offstage saying things like “I really connected with the audience AND the song on that ballad”, or “Man I got those fast scales together and SLAYED and that was fun”. Even though like 80% of the time I feel, “boy I could have played that better!”. Oh well. Most of the rest of it is pretty fun, anyway!
Has the pandemic changed your rhythm?
Liza: Oh yeah! Like I said, doing these live streams has been a total reinvention of ourselves. Staying home all the time and not touring, not traveling, not meeting with our fans. The whole experience is different. That being said, we don’t see it as a bad thing. It’s just different. Being forced into change and having to rethink your normal rhythm is kind of liberating.
It’s like practicing new music or playing with a different technique. It makes you find new avenues. So as nerve-wracking as live streams can be (so many details!), we have been doing them since this all started. We’ve been concentrating on recording more music and adding it to our streaming channels. We finished our book, “Thrive and Survive in the Music Business”. We just keep looking ahead at ways to reinvent ourselves. It’s given us a lot of time to reflect, that is for sure.
JP: I think immediately before the pandemic, I had a sentiment that was roughly “where do we go from here”? How do you tweak the formula?
Where do you go artistically? And I was really concerned about doing that at a dead run – it takes a LOT of effort to record the CD’s, keep the band on the road, and then on top of that, be creative and explore new directions that your fans might join you on. Streaming rates are not great. It’s always been and continues to be expensive to tour. All these can be kind of worrisome, frankly. So the pandemic changed our rhythm by STOPPING IT COMPLETELY. It kind of replaced one smaller crisis of livelihood and replaced it with an enormous and shared crisis of survival, which made the day-to-day career concerns seem trivial. Now that that initial shock has passed and we’ve somewhat learned to navigate ourselves through the crisis, we know that the future will not be the same for us or anyone else.
It’s hard to plan, so we just keep plowing forward in the expectation that a new path will emerge for us as a band and as individuals. At the end of the day, this new rhythm is about faith that each of us will find a new path and that we have the skills and patience to follow that new path in a responsible and cheerful way. After all, as artists, we’ve got to convince our fans to come along with us! Can’t be moping around.
Tell us about “A Bridge Between.” What inspired you to write this song? Where can we find it?
Liza: We have been playing with Incendio for twenty years and that is mostly with the full band. JP and I started playing guitar duos as well and people were really enjoying that. My first instrument is the classical guitar and I’ve always enjoyed playing the guitar. It’s very personal and calming for me. Although we were writing and playing originals, we were also playing other people material and arranging the songs for two guitars.
People would light up when they’d hear a song that they loved performed instrumentally. They’d sing along and ask where they could get a copy. So we decided to record the album “A Bridge Between”. We also had the three originals that we had been wanting to record and made them part of the album as well.
JP: for that specific song, I think we had been playing a lot of fast and intense guitars for so many years, we thought, let’s slow this down and just write something simpler, perhaps more pastoral and mellow in nature. So “A Bridge Between” tumbled out. It’s not a hard song to play, but it’s important to play it with a lot of heart and intention – hopefully, we were able to do that. In the title, there’s the implication of connection, of creating that “bridge”. Hopefully, the listener will feel that.
You write music for TV and film, which can be heard in everything from Bridesmaids to Law and Order. What makes your blend of music perfect for TV and film?
Liza: when we write for TV and Film, we dig into a whole different skill set. There are some shows that we have scored to picture like The History of Mexico, Lawnmower Man (DVD animation sequence), The Flameworthy Country Music Awards, some reality shows like Extreme Makeover and others. We write what’s needed for the show. If it calls for rock or blues or more of a film score that’s what we do. We also write for different music libraries like Sonoton. We will write an album in a certain style. We have a chill album; we have a lot of different Latin styles from Banda to Salsa. It was a couple of those pieces that were used in Bridesmaids. We have an album called the New Laurel Canyon Project with vocals. We’ve done some hard rock and metal. It’s not what makes our music work for these shows as much as we write pieces in a certain style and make sure that they sound great in every way.
JP: The blend of music comes from having a long-term and natural interest in a lot of different styles. We have many wonderful friends and colleagues here in LA that are fantastic singers and fantastic instrumentalists. They rehearse constantly and are so GREAT and inspiring at what they do. But if you put them behind a board to engineer and ask them to put up a mic and set up a preamp, they are lost. If you ask them to create a click track, maybe lay down kick and percussion for a rough, they won’t know how to do it. And if you ask them, “do it more like Merle Haggard” or “do it more like that record with Judy Garland and Liza Minelli”, you hopefully have at least have minimal knowledge of what they are asking for. We are great lovers of guitar, but also great lovers of pop. I don’t have chops like Yngwie Malmsteen but if someone wants a vibe on their song like the Carpenters, the Commodores, or the Cars, I think we know pretty fast how to start (or “blend”, as you put it) just enough from the outset to be able to do a good job in those respective vibes. That’s one aspect of what makes a good producer – the ability to draw convincingly on a variety of styles.
5-Share your recent projects.
Liza: We recently finished a book called Thrive and Survive in the Music Business. It’s a step-by-step guide on how to book your band, book a tour and understand what you need to do to get your royalties. Over the years we have mentored many other musicians on all these topics. We’ve been booking ourselves for years, we’ve had record deals, and we make sure that we are on top of getting our royalties and understanding where they come from. There are many musicians that don’t understand any of this so we wrote it all down. We also have our own studio and produce and record all the music for Incendio, Carbe and Durand and all our other projects.
We’re excited about the book and are starting to take on coaching clients as well. We are both very passionate about empowering and encouraging other musicians to take control of their career. We are also in the process of recording more guitar duos, which will be covers and originals. We’re excited to be collaborating once again with Ballet Fantastique in Eugene OR. They are doing Robin Hood and we are writing the music for the production. We will also be performing the music live with them at some point when we can all get back to live performances. JP does all of our video editing and we just got the new Final Cut Pro X. So he is making more wonderful videos for Carbe and Durand, Incendio and Thrive and Survive. We are releasing a few Incendio concerts via our video imprint “World Guitar TV” and hope to move beyond that in the coming year. It’s the way to keep the brand out there and eventually (hopefully) turn fans on to other artists in this genre whom we admire.
Your recent FB Live event on 8-15 was successful. What did you take away from the experience?
Liza: Every time we do a live stream we take something new away from the performance. People love live music whether it’s streamed or actually at a big concert. We are social creatures and we like to interact with others. I also want to acknowledge our fans who are so supportive and loyal. They have been tuning in and interacting with us since all this began. We really feel and appreciate the love. It has also reminded us that our music and what we do does make a difference in peoples’ lives which is encouraging and rewarding.This was also the first time that we streamed in stereo. The piece of gear we ordered to do this 4 months ago just arrived – it was late due to the pandemic stopping production of the interface. We are always trying to improve our sound and going stereo was a nice addition.
JP: We do make it a point to always add something new to the mix to make each show a little unique and different since it’s essentially shot at our same small home studio every time. We often add new songs. We added bass, electric guitar, and sequenced tracks a few months ago, which greatly expanded our setlist and our ability to go from a whisper to a scream. This weekend we used a brand new interface, the IK Multimedia iRig Stream, and went stereo for the first time which I was particularly excited about. So my takeaway is that the audience is so supportive so you want to bring them new songs, new technologies, and new levels of sound, so I was really happy with the way it went. Until the next show, of course!! We’re always trying to push forward.