Six Years Playing ‘Folkestra’

How Hey Marseilles members became like family and how they identify with their music

by Peter Duell

Six years ago, Matt Bishop, Nick Ward and Philip Kobernik met at a house party. Today, after countless hours of music rehearsal, laughter, fighting, traveling and everything in between, the three — along with three others — have established themselves as a Seattle six-piece band.

The three others are Samuel Anderson on cello, Jacob Anderson on viola and Colin Richey who holds it all together on drums.

Direct Current wrote of their sound, “The sweeping, orchestral pop of Seattle’s Hey Marseilles finds an even larger, more colorful canvas with “Lines We Trace” [the band’s latest album], a grand, often theatrical melding of folk, chamber pop and artful modern cabaret leanings.”

Matt Bishop, lead vocalist and guitarist, has coined a term for his band’s style of music.

“At its core, our music is just pop with unique orchestral elements,” Bishop said. “We call it folkestra. With our first record, we were inspired by traditional folk instrumentation and arrangements, but we’re trying to make solid pop songs.”

The group is scheduled to play in cities across the country and in Toronto during their six-week tour this summer. From city to city, the band finds that its audience size varies. They sold out the venue when they played in New York City and serenaded the 13 who showed up in Birmingham, Ala.

“Seattle is our favorite place to play,” Bishop said. “Other cities like Boston and New York City are enjoyable for us, too. They’re similar to Seattle in that people appreciate culture in those cities.”

With all the traveling, it seems the group has meshed well through the years.

“We’re all like family to each other,” Bishop said. “We know when to push buttons and when to give space. But six years together must be a testament to the fact that we’re doing something right.”

The Hey Marseilles band members are intentional and genuine about their music, even though their six years of experience in the music industry has not always been a smooth sailing endeavor. The amount of hours rehearsing and dollars spent on travel, instruments, and other general expenses is large, but worth it to make music.

“Music is us,” Bishop said. “We do it for the same reason anyone pursues creative passions. We love music like anyone else, so having the ability to write and play it is something we don’t want to pass up.”

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