Localized: Early Successional
Gather ’round the campfire this March and enjoy the warmth of the soft, spirited sounds emanating from SLUG’s Localized showcase featuring the folk-blues-funk soundscape of duos Early Successional and Darling & Debonair with openers Columbia Jones and Blackout. Come to Kilby Court Thursday, March 16 (doors at 7 p.m., music at 8 p.m.) for a folkin’ good time. SLUG would like to thank Riso-Geist for sponsoring the event and Old Cuss Cafe for generously hosting the photoshoot.
Self-described “musical soulmates” T Greene and Sabra Schlyter were both on the lookout to expand their individual musical acts before stumbling upon one another after a reference from a mutual friend and local musician, Brian Bingham of The Backyard Revival. From the moment they first collaborated in 2017 in Schlyter’s garage in Taylorsville, the singer/songwriter duo knew their partnership would entail a life of playing music together and ultimately lead to the creation of their project, Early Successional.
At 18, Greene picked up the guitar after a music-consumed childhood of pretending to be a rockstar. “I had a knack for writing songs,” she says. “It just took me a while to build up the guts to play them for people.” With an undergrad degree in creative writing, Greene transitioned from poetry to lyrics, and her solo musical career began in her 20s as the shy, solo artist playing in coffee shops. Schlyter was raised with a more classically trained background, her mother—who was a conductor for the Salt Lake Symphony—having started her on piano at age three. Schlyter continued her classical education through Southern Utah University then later at the Berklee College of Music.
Greene says, “What’s cool about our backgrounds is that Sabra is classically trained and I’m mostly self-taught. It balances us out.” Immediately after meeting one another and feeling a sudden musical connection, the two had a gig they spent hours preparing for. “That’s what really cemented our partnership,” says Schlyter of their time spent practicing. They felt even more certain of their pairing after the show went incredibly well—an unexpected downpour and enlivened audience turned the evening into a memorable and empowering moment for the duo.
“I had a knack for writing songs. It just took me a while to build up the guts to play them for people.”
Though Early Successional could be categorized under a folk label, the two digress and consider their sound to be under a large umbrella of musical influences, such as Alanis Morissette, Brandi Carlile, Dolly Parton and Dwight Yoakam. Greene says, “I like to think of it as a folk foundation with country, blues, bluegrass and pop on top. We have fun, dancey [songs] and more sultry and acoustic-driven [songs].” Greene and Schlyter are the main members of Early Successional with Greene on guitar and vocals and Schlyter moving between vocals, piano, harmonica and mandolin respectively. They frequently perform with other artists; more recently, Schlyter’s brother played the drums for their last three shows. Their recording sessions also generally sound bigger than their live sound with the duo often including talented, local artists playing instruments such as the drums, fiddle, bass and banjo.
Although Greene and Schlyter work exceptionally well as a duo, they tend to not write music together. “Generally, one of us will come with a skeleton of a song,” says Schlyter of their creation process. Greene adds, “I’ll hear my song a certain way, then Sabra will come in and do something totally different. It develops when you bring other minds in.” In terms of songwriting, Schlyter tends to write about the beauty of life as well as “zen hymns” that communicate the “old spirit of gospel put through a different lens,” she says, while Greene—a therapist by trade—writes often about love and reflecting on life.
“I wrote these songs, and I get to share them with the world. That feels really cool and overwhelming—in a good way.”
When considering their challenges and successes as a band, the two mention occasional bouts of imposter syndrome but ultimately feel content and excited for their current position as artists. Schlyter says, “You have to be happy with where you’re going instead of getting too down on where you are. Enjoy the journey.” Greene adds, “I wrote these songs, and I get to share them with the world. That feels really cool and overwhelming—in a good way.”
Catch Early Successional at SLUG Localized 3/17 and at their other upcoming shows: April 7 at Funk ‘N Dive Bar in Ogden, June 30 at Ice Haüs in Murray, July 14 at Woodenshoe Park and July 28 at Miner’s Park as part of Park City’s Mountain Town Music coverage. Follow their Instagram @early_successional for more info.
Read more featuring Early Successional:
Soundwaves Episode #377 – Early Successional
Local Music Singles Roundup: July 2022
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