MOS Interview: Telehope

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photo by Cory Woodruff

Telehope is a five-piece indie pop group from Cincinnati, Ohio. Formed from the old band of three of their members, Undivided, Telehope began in 2016 and have already made a big impression in their hometown. Their debut album, Chasing Dreams, was just released on January 1st and the album release show at Madison Live in Covington, Kentucky was sold out. The band took some time to tell us about it and answer a few questions about the album. You can check out our interview with Telehope below!

Thanks so much for taking the time to do an interview with us! First of all, I wanna say congratulations on selling out Madison Live in Covington earlier this month! That’s a great accomplishment. Did you guys expect to sell the show out or was it a surprise?

Ben: Thank you so much for featuring Telehope! We appreciate you taking the time to write up these thoughtful interview questions. We were blown away with the outcome of the Madison Live show. From the very beginning of Telehope our first goal was to sell out our opening album release show. It involved an incredible amount of work, promotion, and practice to put this show on. It was a huge confidence booster to see our goal actually be accomplished in such a short amount of time.

Adolph: Thank you very much! We are happy to talk with you. It definitely was an accomplishment.  We’ve had incredible support from our friends, family and fans here in Cincinnati.  It was overwhelming to say the least.  It’s hard to anticipate what draw you will have to any given show but we have worked very hard and are quite humbled by the support we have received.

Mark: Thank you so much, it was an incredible experience! Our goal all along was to sell the show out. As the show got closer we thought it was going to be close, but we would be just shy of the mark. To our surprise though we sold that show out, and had a blast with all the people there.


I understand the Madison Live show was your album release show for your first full-length, Chasing Dreams. How has the response been so far? 

Adolph: The response to that album has been incredible. People have been very receptive to it and seem to really enjoy it.  The songs are very personal to us and were written about our direct experiences and I think people can relate to a lot of them.

Ben: It can be intimidating to release an album to the world. However, we put our whole hearts and souls into the creation of Chasing Dreams and people have seemed to love it, which is always a relief!


Your bio mentions that your album was self-produced. Did you do all the mixing, recording, etc. yourselves?

Ben: Creating and producing music is one of my greatest passions. I’ve been writing, recording, and producing music on different levels for the past 7 years. The recording, engineering, producing, mixing, and mastering was all done by me. I used to intern for my good friend Rick Brantley of All These Sounds Studios, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Through him I learned the technical side of recording. He graciously let us use his studio for free during that time and we recorded most of the drums and most of the piano that you hear on the album in his studio. We took a break from the record during the summer of 2016 while I worked at another internship in Nashville, Tennessee. I learned a lot about production down there and brought that knowledge back home to finish the last half of the album with the guys. We finished the vocals, guitars, and the mixing and mastering of the rest of the record back at my home studio, Knight Owl Studios, in Hamilton, Ohio.

Adolph: Ben Malson is a wizard.


In your experience, what are the benefits of self-producing an album as opposed to hiring someone to help you produce?

Ben: For now the benefits are that it costs us no additional money to self-produce our music which is a huge load off of us financially. We’re definitely open to working with other producers and mixing engineers down the road but for now our setup works great for where we’re at.

Adolph: Self-producing an album allows us to have complete creative freedom over the project.  We can spend the time to get it exactly the way we want and be very purposeful with each individual aspect of the songs.

How long did the whole process take?

Ben: The process of Chasing Dreams took over a year and a half. We wanted to take as much time on it as we needed. The break in the recording process when I moved to Nashville cost us about three months, but we gained a whole lot more through that time.


What is your writing process like? Do you have certain methods that you follow?

Adolph: Our writing process is vastly different for each song on the album.  We really don’t have any certain method to writing. It’s always different.


Your name really caught my attention and I had to read your bio to try to find out what it means to you. It says, “Telehope’s mission is to bring hope through its music. Telehope means: looking to the hope that is in the distance and drawing it near.
” Do you guys have this positive vision from the beginning? Do you keep this in mind when you’re writing songs?

Adolph: “Tele” is a greek word meaning “to or at a distance”.  The name “Telehope” essentially means to keep your eyes set on hope no matter how far away it may seem.  Life can feel dark some days but you just have to be patient and focus on hope.  There is a light at the end of every tunnel.  We are all very optimistic people and have always wanted to be very purposeful in spreading hope.  Hope plays a huge role in our every day lives so it’s nearly impossible to write a song without at least a glimmer of it.

Ben: To us, our music is about giving people hope. When Adolph first came to me with the idea of changing our band name I agreed as long as we included the word hope. My goal is to inspire and give hope to our listeners like my favorite artists have given to me.


How do you feel Telehope stands out from a lot of other indie pop bands today?

Ben: Telehope stands out because of our mission through our music. It’s not enough to simply create music anymore. The message we hope to give to people draws people. Where there is positivity there is a certain kind of attraction that makes people want to know more about it.

As I listened to the album, Ben’s keyboard playing really stood out to me and made your music sound unique. Your instrumentals mesh really well and each song sounds different than the last. Did it take a lot of practice to achieve that or did it just come naturally?

Ben: I appreciate you saying that! Piano is my go-to instrument, so naturally it appears on quite a few of our songs. One of our goals for Chasing Dreams was to have each song have it’s own sound and feel throughout it. We wanted the record to be very dynamic so we didn’t want to include two songs that sounded alike. That process was surprisingly natural for us. Through that we wanted to get a feel for what sound and vibe we wanted to pursue further and listen to fan feedback to hear what songs they liked the most.

 

Was the transition from being a three-piece band (under Undivided) to a five-piece challenging?

Mark: With just the three of us it was very difficult to see any moving forward outside of playing acoustic shows. So we sat down and discussed how we could change things up, and we found both Brett, and Nate which has been a very easy transition. Both of them are so talented, and we are so glad they’re chasing their dreams with us.

Ben: The transition from a 3 to 5 piece was surprisingly flawless and quick. It seemed like a stressful goal but by networking in the local scene for the past few years we knew of some solid musicians. I remember praying that the transition would be smooth and that we’d have great musicians want to join Telehope. Within a matter of a week we found and auditioned our new bass and drum players Brett and Nate, and the rest is history.

Adolph: From the beginning everything kind of just fell into place.  There are times where it is challenging but as for members changing and all the transitions I’d say it’s been pretty smooth.

 

I like that you have such a focus on positivity, but you still give yourself the freedom to write a few sad songs, like Insomnia. And Ghost is cool as well because the lyrics are sad but the music is happy so you can still dance through your sadness. Haha. Is splitting up the more down tempo tracks a conscious decision to keep things light-hearted on the album?

Adolph: I wrote Ghost a few years ago when I was going through a very rough time.  I wanted to write a deceptive song where (as you mentioned) the lyrics are heartbreaking and the music is happy.  The music disguises the pain of the lyrics.  At the time I wore a fake smile and nobody knew the pain that was going on inside.  I wanted the song to mirror that reality.  I tend to process emotions through music and Ghost is one of those songs.  It took a couple years until I was okay showing it to anybody because it is a very vulnerable song.  Actually, when I showed Ben the song for the first time, I absolutely hated it.  He convinced me to play it for him.  I was like, “Alright, here’s the song, but it’s not very good”.  After listening, Ben said, “This song is going on the album.”  He took me to the piano and began playing the little piano solo and we developed the song into what it is today.  Now it’s one of my favorites.

Ben: My goal with writing songs is to never leave a listener feel more sad when they’re done listening to the song. Insomnia specifically is a deceptive song because the lyrics are actually very redeeming. The song is about my bout with insomnia during high school for 6 months straight. I viewed it as a terrible curse due to not being able to sleep and feeling terrible all the time because of it. Instead of just lying in my bed all night I decided to go into my basement and create music every night. I know now that if I hadn’t had insomnia I would not be making music today. The chorus lyrics are “you saved me, you heard my cry, you spoke to my soul, I’ll tell the curse goodbye.” I’m telling the curse goodbye. My life is completely better because of it and I no longer view insomnia as a curse but a blessing.

On Shadow, Mark’s voice/vocal techniques kind of remind me Brendon Urie, and Battle Lines’ intro made me think of Marianas Trench. Who are some of your influences when it comes to music? 

Mark: I have taken a lot of inspiration from Casey Crecenzo and Chad Gardner. They both have a smooth, but grittiness to their voice that I personally love. I think as a band we’re influenced by Walk the Moon, The 1975, and Coldplay, but we love branching out and doing unexpected things.

Adolph: I’m very influenced on guitar by Mateus Asato, Matthew Hoopes and Adam Hann.

What are 5-10 songs or artists you’re really into right now?

Adolph: Right now I’m really into The 1975, Jon Bellion, CRUISR, Walk The Moon, Circa Waves and Foster The People.

Do you plan on touring at all any time soon?

Ben: We’re having talks of scheduling a small tour this summer but we want to be smart about it. None of us have any experience touring so it is an entirely new world that we’re excited to dive into.

Adolph: We would love to tour!  As of right now we’re focused on building our Cincinnati fan base but we are eager to expand that and tour.

What can we expect from Telehope for the rest of 2017?

Mark: This is just the beginning of the year and we’re pumped for our upcoming shows in the local area including our show on February 24th at the Underground. New music is in the works and we’re excited to share that with you.  We love getting to know people through our music and spreading hope to those who need it.

Adolph: We just started writing a 5 song EP which we plan to release early this summer.  We are playing a lot of shows around the Cincinnati area and will continue chasing this dream of Telehope.

You can catch Telehope at the Underground on February 24th, and pick up their album on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, or bandcamp!

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