I recently spoke with Genevieve Schatz, lead singer of the alternative indie band Company of Thieves. Originally from Chicago, the band is notable for its bluesy, jazzy sound, with songs ranging from smoky love songs to powerful calls-to-arms. After a brief hiatus, the band has reunited and is currently on tour. With two albums behind them and a new EP set to release on 2/23/18, Genevieve and I chatted the past, the future, and everything in between.
Nicholas Olson: How are you doing? How’s the tour so far?
Genevieve Schatz: It’s been amazing. We are about a week and a half into a six week tour, and every night there are just tons of people who are showing up early to see the whole show, and their hearts are open, and we’re all just singing and dancing together, and I think it’s been the best gift I could’ve ever asked for.
NO: So it’s been a decade since Ordinary Riches came out, and here you guys are, together again after a brief hiatus, and you’re ready to officially release a new EP. How does it feel to be back on stage and back recording again?
GS: Being back on stage, it’s a very high vibration to exist in, because it’s a lot of being seen and being vulnerable to share feelings and thoughts, and it’s been really cool to be so supported every night, expressing ourselves. It’s been an adventure to embark on again.
NO: I was actually lucky enough to see you guys perform in Chicago last September, and I was pretty struck by how fresh some of the arrangements were. It was kind of like I was hearing some of these songs for the first time. I wanted to see if you could tell me a little bit about how these songs have evolved for you guys over the years.
GS: Yeah, I think it’s been really natural, just because all of us have grown up and have changed and expanded and evolved, and so it’s sort of like whenever we visit material from our past, we’re only able to meet it where we’re at now in present time. I don’t know what the analogy is, but it’s very organic for us. Whatever setting we’re all operating at, that’s what the energy gets shaped by.
NO: What do you think fans can look forward to with Better Together? What kind of sounds and themes have you guys been playing around with for this one?
GS: There is a lot of really cinematic arrangements going on, we have more synths, and we have ukulele. Mostly just a very honest, emotional collection of songs.
NO: That sounds great. I’ve heard “Treasure” of course, and I just recently heard “Window” off of the new EP, and to me it felt kind of reminiscent of “Syrup,” but it was still exploring some new territory. How much of an impact does nostalgia have on your songwriting process?
GS: Well I guess it would depend on how we value warm memories. I don’t know what to say about that. Nostalgia, it can get sticky, I guess. I think our songs are more truthful or more timeless or something.
NO: It’s almost like that story of being turned into a salt pillar when you look back at the past, you need to know it’s there but not get too stuck in it?
GS: Yeah, totally. It’s not so much nostalgia as much as just accessing a place within ourselves that has a great capacity to feel. Being able to access that super vulnerable, emotional realm is very important to us.
NO: So you guys have recorded performances at the Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, the Bronson Caves in LA, you’ve done several studio sessions, you’ve even played with Daryl Hall at his house. Do you have a favorite place to play, or do you kind of like to keep yourself on your toes?
GS: I like to keep it interesting. I kind of like the challenge of playing in a different place all the time, because then I can really see where I’m at in my life that day instead of having like a regular place to perform in. So yeah, I think that’s why we’ve been so open to playing venues or just playing outside in a canyon or in somebody’s house. We’ve even recorded songs in bathrooms before. It’s sort of like wherever the inspiration comes.
NO: Very cool. I’ve got a couple of fun ones now. You’re offered a ticket to see any musician or musical act perform, living or dead. Who do you pick?
GS: Oh wow. I would probably love to see David Bowie, the Ziggy Stardust Tour. Yeah.
NO: So I know this is kind of like asking a parent who their favorite child is, but do you have a favorite Company of Thieves song?
GS: No. [laughs] I don’t. It’s hard for me to decide, because there’s just so many different Company of Thieves songs now, so depending on what I’m going through that day, I’ll take a liking to ones that are helping me through something, you know? But “Won’t Go Quietly” has a special place in my heart.
NO: Yeah, that’s a great song.
GS: Hey, thanks!
NO: So my last question is what advice would you have for any budding creatives out there?
GS: I would say creating is an act of surrendering, and a lot of times it can be easy to mistake inspiration for something that you can control, but it’s really more about surrendering and letting the light flow through you. It’s sort of like just remain open and don’t do anything out of fear.
Company of Thieves’ new EP, Better Together, hits shelves on 2/23/18. For all the latest news on the band, you can follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Genevieve can be found on Instagram at @ladythief.