TJ West: Fairbanks and the Lonesome Light


By Kim Grant

Erik Flores and Amelia Rose Logan are the core of Fairbanks and the Lonesome Light, an indie Americana band (and sometimes duo) who base their music foundation on contemplative storytelling and stunningly sweet harmonies.  Layering guitars, mandolin, drums, bass and pedal steel, the band is able to create an emotional connection with their audience while giving the music something original and exciting for the ears to grab on to.

Fairbanks_CD_Baby_1400x1400Their 2015, self-titled debut was produced by Flores and mixed and engineered by Mark Rains at Station House Studios in Echo Park, CA where the band was residing until recently when they moved back to their hometown of Austin, TX.   Longtime collaborators in many different settings, Flores and Logan spoke with TJ West about life in Los Angeles and in Austin and how things will shape up for the band.

Fairbanks & The Lonesome Light evolved from a duo to a six-piece group, which you and Amelia Rose Logan are at the heart of.  Now that you’ve both made the move back to Austin, TX are you going back to a duo scenario or are you keeping the band going long-distance?  

EF – It did get up to a 6 piece didn’t it?  I think we’re gonna shoot for doing a bit of both. We’d like to stay busy. Duo shows are a lot of fun for us too.

AL – We’ve always played shows both ways, as a band and as a duo. I love the duo shows because they’re so intimate.

EF – It kind of gives us a chance to put a different spin on the music. Connect a little more with the audience and with the songs.

AL – And with each other too. But there’s nothing like hearing the band kick in at just the right moment when you’re on stage. It’s a whole other level of energy.

EF – I guess we won’t be doing the long distance thing exactly. We’re already putting together an Austin band, but we definitely plan on doing L.A. shows with some of the same guys that are on the record. Then we’ll kinda play it by ear when we go on the road.  The plan is to split our time as much as possible between the two cities.

AL – We do love our Los Angeles family.

You guys sing incredible harmonies together.  Were you a musical duo before or after you were a couple?

FairbanksEF – Thank you. No, we were not a musical duo before we were a couple. Maybe a terrible duo?

AL – [laughs] We’ve know each other a long time. I guess we were a few things before we were even a couple. Co-workers first, at a Mexican restaurant in Austin. We were pretty young.

EF – We became work buddies, then later we became musician friends making trouble around Austin, then closer friends who I think tried to go on a date once?

AL – Yes, and failed miserably.

EF –   Yeah. And finally, only a few years ago, a couple who figured out we liked to sing together. So I guess the couple thing and the singing thing happened simultaneously.  Maybe all that history found its way into our harmonies. Or we just got lucky.  It’s been a real good time either way.

AL – I think part of the reason we ended up in love was because of the music. We would sit up all night singing until the sun came up. It was the most fun we’d had in all the years we’d been friends.

You moved from Austin to Los Angeles and back to Austin.  How long were in you Los Angeles, and what did you think of the Americana music scene in L.A?  How does that compare to the music scene in Austin?

EF – I moved to L.A. about 10 years ago before coming back to Austin. Probably spent the last four years in the Americana scene. I really loved what I got to know about it, which may be less than some people but enough for me to say that it’s one of the most tight knit, community based, supportive and cool bunch of people that we’ve ever had the pleasure of running around with.

AL – When I moved to L.A. I had taken a break from playing music in Austin for a few years. I was in LA for almost 4 years. Erik and I started Fairbanks about a month after I moved, so my entire time in LA was getting to know the Americana scene. It’s such a supportive group of talented musicians. I was honored to be a part of it.

EF – The difference I think I noticed in the music scenes wasn’t so much about the people; there are tons of awesome people in Austin too, but about the business maybe. Or the approach. But I guess I’m talking about the Austin scene 10 or more years ago. In my experience, L.A. is a showcase kind of town, especially if you play original music. I had to get used to playing 30 min sets. Maybe 40. It’s a situation where you pull out your best tunes and you play them well. You have to learn how to cut to the chase.  And you know, that’s really cool. It’s a discipline. We learned a lot from that and loved it. Austin was different, when I was around anyway. Bands played at least an hour, sometimes 3 hours of original music. So you had to learn to be prolific to have some songs under your belt, and the longer sets were cool because you’d have a little freedom to stretch out and create a dynamic live show. A relaxed set with some ups and downs. There’s a lot to love about both scenes. Two sides of the same great coin.

AL – We just moved back and are working our way into the new scene. I’m excited to see how it is these days and excited to keep heading back to L.A. to see how things keep going.

You just released a self-titled record.  Was this your first record as Fairbanks and The Lonesome Light?  

AL – Yeah. Our very first one.

EF – Of many we hope. Our first is pretty special though. I imagine it’s kinda like having kids. You love them all… but you always have a soft spot for your first one. Right?  Or so my mom says. Maybe she’s pulling my leg. I’m her first one.

Did you and Amelia write all of the songs together?  If so, do you find writing songs with someone easier or harder than writing solo?  What’s your writing process?

EF – We write separately. I don’t know, I haven’t had much practice co writing. I tend to have a fully realized vision soon after a seed gets planted and it comes together pretty quickly, so we haven’t really had the chance to sit down and share new or unfinished ideas.

AL – I think co writing could be fun. It just seems that if you’re writing really reflective and personal kind of stuff it’s hard for someone to chime in and say “Hey, why don’t you do a verse about the desert?”  Maybe it’s more like writing a book, or a short story.

EF – Yeah, you already know where you’re trying to go, you just need to find your way there… and finding your way there can be hard enough on your own, getting in your own way.  Along those short story lines though, I do like someone to edit my songs once they are complete. Amelia is amazing at that for me and I try to do the same for her.

AL – Maybe change a phrase or suggest a verse re-write.  So I guess we don’t co-write exactly, but each of us are important in the other’s process.

EF – We should probably work on co-writing. I know a lot of people do it. Supposed to be a good career move right?  Maybe see if Keith Richards’ got a free Sunday coming up.

Did you create the artwork?

AL – Erik came up with the concept.

EF – My sister Diana did the graphic design. She’s pretty great.  Then we all three worked out the details.

You and Amelia have recently had a baby.  How does having a little one affect your creative process?

EF – We did!

AL – That one was a 50/50 co-write.

EF – No edits. Perfect on the first draft.  Her name is Iliana. She affects the creative process about the same way she affects everything else. Completely and from the inside out. She’s just “in” stuff now, you know?  In my thoughts, my decisions, my words, my actions and of course my songs, whether it’s conscious or not.

AL – If you’re writing the kind of music that expresses what’s really going on in and around you, which is what we try really hard to do, then there’s no way to keep something like that out of your writing.

EF – It just tilts the mirror a bit so that your self reflection is from a slightly new angle that you hadn’t seen before… a little less you maybe, a little more of the world around you.

AL – Her presence makes the songs we’ve already been singing take on new meaning too. She influences everything now, past and present.

There is a music video of Fairbanks singing “Fearless” by Pink Floyd and “If I Needed You” by Townes Van Zandt, the second of a series of live cover song videos you are putting out.  What’s the next cover song you’ll be doing?

AL – Yeah, we’re excited to start that up again after we settle in Austin. The songs we do are by request from friends and fans. It’s interesting to see what people send our way.

EF – I’m not sure what’s coming up next but last time I checked we had some new requests for a couple of Guy Clark tunes, a Lyle Lovett song I think and one by Rod Stewart. We’ll see what shakes out.

What’s up next for Fairbanks and the Lonesome Light?

EF – Well, we’re about to release the vinyl version of our debut record, pretty excited to get that out to everyone—

AL – We’re getting our Austin band together for some local shows and then we’re headed back to L.A. for some California shows—

EF – We’re also currently working on a new record that we plan to have out to everyone sometime late summer.

AL – It oughta be a fun year.  |  fb  |  buy

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