Christine and Chad are two musicians who happened to find themselves in the same coffee establishment one day. She was performing, he was looking to play guitar. More on how they went from mere strangers to walking down the aisle to making music together as Bees in a Bottle in a moment. Because they’re here to give us the rundown on their beginnings, their future, and their present that includes their 2023 release, ‘The Sun Left and Took the Moon With It,’ which drops on April 14th.
Kendra: My guy and I met online and initially bonded over Italian food and ‘It’s Always Sunny.’ What about you? Was music the foundation of this relationship was originally built on?
Christine: It was! We met at a coffee shop where I was playing a solo gig. Chad saw my set and asked if I wanted to add another guitar player. I said yeah, and we started meeting up to work on songs at the music studio he was working at. We also bonded over a shared love of certain bands, and discovering music together, including Low, which to this day is pretty much Chad’s favorite band. (Side note: We also love ‘It’s Always Sunny’)
Kendra: Now let’s talk about the music you create together as Bees in a Bottle and the new album, ‘The Sun Left and Took the Moon With It.’ This record seems to have come from a dark place; the loss of loved ones as well as the loss of other musicians over the years. Was there ever a moment in writing or recording where you had to force one another to take a break because things were taking too much of an emotional toll?
Chad: Christine did the majority of the songwriting so it never took too much of an emotional toll on me. It was quite exciting and inspiring. Christine kept learning about these women who were dealing with the aftermath of their rockstar husbands or boyfriends or son’s deaths and the coincidences just became more interesting. All the stories and twists and turns. I wouldn’t have heard Jeff Buckley’s Smiths cover without it…while it’s a dark subject, I found it all very fascinating.
Christine: I don’t think we had to take very many breaks, even with the heavy content. This album is a direct extension of the last album, which dealt with personal losses. If I hadn’t grieved those losses and processed that stuff first, I don’t think I would’ve felt drawn to the voices in this album. I don’t claim to know their grief, but I think without my own sense of traumatic loss, I couldn’t have the mindset to imagine their complicated loss.
Instead of needing a break, I actually had the opposite happen. I did a lot of research. I was pretty consumed with following my curiosity, my gut, and empathy. I felt like we’d had enough time and distance from our own losses to not get lost in darkness or trauma. Once we got to the recording studio, I definitely needed a few breaks and a lot of humor. I felt the emotional weight there. I wanted to do the best job I could of arranging the songs in a reverent way but also needed to keep it loose enough to allow for some happy accidents and synchronicities to show up too. I needed to remember that it just feels good to go make music with people.
Kendra: All of the loss also sparked an interest in a perspective that not many care to view the world from, and that’s the women and partners of male musicians who’ve lost their lives to suicide or addiction. You’ve noted the misogyny some women face, which made me instantly think of Courtney Love who on top of becoming a widow and single mother, received a lot of hate when Kurt Cobain passed. That was almost 30 years ago, do you think society has gotten better since then, or are widows of musicians still dealing with that in some instances today?
Chad: Most of the album was focused on a certain era of music, so we didn’t really focus on recent history so much. But I think people are being less cruel and putting more of the responsibility on the responsible person. By the way, Courtney Love is definitely a part of the record.
Christine: I think we’ve gotten a lot better, but we’re not where I’d like to see us. I think the Yoko Effect is still alive. I don’t know much about it, but wasn’t Ariana Grande fielding hate not too long ago for Mac Miller’s death? There’s a recent fashion trend called “rockstar girlfriend” that’s all about dressing like a female accessory to a rockstar. I still see womens’ artistic accomplishments ignored or credit implied to their male partners.
I think this old way of thinking about women in relation to men in music is dying, but it’s a slow death. Maybe it’s because women are still so underrepresented in the music industry, especially the decision-making structures, labels, management, producers, etc. It’s harmful to men and women. I listened to an interview with Lady Gaga where she pointed out to the interviewer that he wouldn’t be questioning her use of sexuality in her music if she was a man, instead, he’d celebrate it and call her what she really was – a rockstar.
Kendra: So I wanna talk about “Jealous Mistress” and in this, it’s the music business. How often do you think musicians think of the negatives that come with fame and “making it?”
Chad: I don’t think they consider it at all. I think they just do what they think they have to do. But they should know with such ambition comes a price.
Christine: I think musicians mostly start out just loving making music. The consequences of fame and the music business catches people off guard, grinds them up, and spits them out if they aren’t able to insulate themselves and their loved ones from the negative aspects. There’s a recent book addressing this exact thing. I haven’t read it yet, but I plan to. It’s called ‘Bodies: Life And Death In Music’ by Ian Winwood. It raises the question of whether we can make a healthier framework so fewer musicians become victims of things like drug overdose and suicide.
Kendra: This song also reminded me of fandoms, and how too often fans can and do think their favorite famous faces owe them all of their time. Do you think that’s gotten significantly worse due to social media and fans having that level of connection?
Chad: I don’t know if it’s gotten worse, maybe just different. I think that with the oversaturation of social media, there’s less mystery. We know everything about everyone, or at least what they want us to know. Fans are getting more of their favorite artists’ time because of social media. But maybe that’s lessened the demand to pry or stalk because it’s all out there for everyone to see.
Kendra: Time for a side note – So Easter is my favorite holiday. Don’t ask me what the holiday is actually about because it’s only my favorite. After all, I love Spring and the candy is top-notch. With that, if you were to receive an Easter basket, what sweet treat and album on vinyl would you hope was in said basket?
Chad: Twizzlers Nibs and ‘Flood’ by Boris.
Christine: A ‘share-size’ Milky Way bar (not regular-sized, I swear it’s got less caramel to chocolate ratio) and ‘Boys For Pele’ by Tori Amos.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘The Sun Left and Took the Moon With It’ out on April 14th, what else can people expect as we continue into Spring and soon into Summer?
Christine: We’re gonna start with an in-store performance/signing at Music Millennium here in Portland on release day. We’ve got a bunch of shows coming up this summer around the PNW, we’re also making and releasing videos for a handful of the songs throughout the summer.
We hope people will get the record and listen to it in one sitting, set aside 37 minutes to have an intimate music experience. I’m leaning hard into the experience of physical CDs lately. I miss that part of my youth; grabbing the lyric book, wondering about the hidden track, knowing the song order, accidentally cracking the jewel case. So I hope other people want to grab the CD and listen that way. No jewel case though.