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Exactly one year ago this month, I had the amazing opportunity to write about an album that surpasses many others out there. It was that album that snagged me [as a writer] my first fan mail. So naturally I hold a soft place in my heart for the band that not only made me realize some of my talent, but produces truly inspirational music. The band that I speak of calls themselves Civil Twilight and it was "roughly" a year or so ago that they officially made their appearance here in America. It wasn't until recently, however, that their music has started to make it on the airwaves and so, naturally, they hit the road in hopes of capitalizing on that fact. Their road led them to my neck of the woods and I had the great honor of spending the evening with three exceptional musicians. So between beers and sushi (literally the location of my voice recorder), I had the opportunity to figure out just where this great music comes from:

Hybrid Magazine: Originally you're from Cape Town, but when did you finally come to the States?

Andrew (guitar): We all came here in 2004, but we spent about 2 years trying to get Rich a visa, so we didn't really have time to play and be a band.

HM: So when did you finally end up on Wind-Up [Records]?

Andrew: May 2008, so about 2 years ago. Wow that doesn't seem possible.

HM: How has America's welcome been so far?

Steven (vocals/keys/bass): It's been good.

Richard (drums): People have responded really well to the music. I mean it's a huge country, so it's hard to say in general for the whole country. But in general for us, the responses have been good and we've only just started to get our music out now. It's only just getting on the radio now, which makes a big difference. But from the TV shows and our lives shows, overall it's been a good response.

HM: Do you see high hopes with sharing and developing your music here?

Steven: I think we're kind of set here, I think we'll probably end up doing stuff in Europe as well. But this will be our home for awhile.

HM: You were in L.A. but now Nashville. Why Nashville from L.A. with all the music already there?

Andrew: L.A. is like a media hub more than a music hub. We had a lot of fun there, but we actually ended up recording the record in South Carolina and then decided to just move up to Nashville. We knew a few people there and it sounded like an exciting town.

Richard: Nashville has a really good indie music scene. And not a lot of people know about it. So you can go to a really great show, because the standard of music is really high.

HM: Do you think you might have an advantage coming from South Africa, in writing your music, kind of coming from a place separate from all the distractions of the American music scene?

Andrew: Because of the way we grew up, music is a very honest thing for us. We're not trying to be anything else than just expressing ourselves. We're not trying to be rock stars. Even the bands that we listened to, we never tried to be them. We just did our own thing and eventually it became our style.

HM: You were raised on jazz music. Does that ever come out in your music?

Richard: Yeah, Steve and I pretty much studied jazz. But Andrew hates it.

Andrew: Yeah, I don't like it. Like Easy listening is considered "jazz" and elevator music.

HM: No, no. For me, jazz is more John Coltrane and Miles Davis. When I reference jazz, I would pull the elements from those musicians.

Andrew: Ok, that's better. Yes, I like the elements of jazz.

HM: OK, so the elements of jazz, do those come out in your music?

Steven: I think maybe in dynamics it does. I think we learned a lot from playing jazz about dynamics and also being in the background. We've played so many jazz gigs at restaurants where people would just be eating and we'll randomly *bum*bump*bum.* They'll just be eating and we'll keep playing as their entertainment and background music. It's come out a lot like that in the past.

Richard: For me jazz, in terms of how to play and learning to play, was incredibly helpful. Like most of what I learned, that I consider valuable and how to play my instrument, a lot of that was from playing jazz.

HM: Is it the kind of music you play when trying to get inspired?

Richard: No, not really.

HM: Are there certain places that you draw your inspiration?

Richard: There are certain records that I like and certain artists that I like. I tend to go towards the simpler stuff though. Those old school [jazz] guys that could really swing and really drum, that's who I like.

HM: What is your process for writing your music? How is it created?

Andrew: There's 2 ways. It's normally that Steve would write a song and he would play it out on the piano or the bass or the guitar and we would listen to it and then jam around it. Or we record our jam sessions for hours and then listen back to sections that we like and kind of formulate them in a creative way into songs.

HM: How was "Human" written?

Steven: That was written when we were visiting home, actually. I had a piano in my room in my old house that I never played at all, never touched it. I only dumped stuff there and hid things in it. So when I went back, I had just started played piano and so I started playing around and that's what came out. Then it was just name at the end with the lyrics. Like all my favorite songs, the lyrics come out at the end.

HM: In "Human" the guitar is doing something different, can you describe/explain what's going on?

Andrew: I really enjoy listening to the emotion of music. And there are a couple artists that I really enjoy and obviously classical music where it's really emotional and kind of a story. With that song, Steve actually showed it to us in the studio and we're like "that's a great song," so Steve and I went into the tracking room and recorded it live. So when I'm playing the guitar, it's basically what I feel at the moment. I don't know the chords, really.

HM: More of "making noises"?

Andrew: Pretty much. Feeling the emotions of the song and feeling the dynamics and using the guitar as something else rather than just a guitar. Guitars are interesting to me, because they can sound so different depending on whom you listen to. It's just an amazing instrument.

By now the sushi was gone and it was pre-show power-nap time for the guys, so we headed back to the venue.

It's so rare to get to actually meet a band that has inspired you, but even rarer is having the opportunity to sit down and connect with them. It was refreshing, entertaining and humbling to pick their brains for an evening. The friendships I [hopefully] made, just make me want to talk about their music more and introduce it to more people, so that it can touch their lives.

Their music is one-of-a-kind and so their set was just as unique, it was a waterfall of emotions gently taking over the audience. Their first official album is now available and it'll teach you to "feel" your music.

-Rachel Fredrickson

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