The roots of Doralice begin in the Mission District of San Francisco. Inspired by acoustic heroes, Bela Fleck and Chris Thile, members Yates Brown and Rima Ash definitely have a hand in modern Americana music. What makes the duo so special is how they weave together sounds from around the world. Spanish, tango, gypsy jazz, and other Balkan music make up the cornerstone of what Doralice is all about. In 2013 they scored the #1 acoustic album on Bandcamp. Their new record, Doralice ii explores a more live recording sound where the two took to the studio with a range of instruments and let the magic happen.
In this interview spotlight, we chat with Doralice about influences, challenges, the digital era of music and more.
Full Q&A along with links and a stream of their latest project, Doralice II, below.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
We’re originally from Georgia & Florida, met in South Carolina, & formed Doralice after relocating to San Francisco in 2008. We create an evocative sort of “new acoustic” instrumental music with elements of film & chamber music, Americana, gypsy, Spanish & tango. We touch upon folk, world, jazz, & classical, while managing not to be any of those things really.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to stay the course?
I couldn’t stop creating music if I wanted to… everything I encounter in life seems to feed into creative impulses, and music has been my most essential outlet since I can remember. The drive to explore new ideas and produce the best work we can never gets old, and it’s further fueled by the overflow of support we receive from folks that get into our music & find that it speaks to them. Rima & I are also married, and our art is a fundamental thread in the relationship, making this really a lifelong project.
How is your new release different than previous ones? Did you set out to accomplish anything specific?
In the beginning Doralice tried several different styles & line-ups, and our first releases reflected an experimentation with multiple ideas & sounds. With our current release “Doralice II,” we set out to better capture the intimacy of our live duet performances of violin & guitar (& occasional banjo), and the result is far more intimate, focused, agile, sparse, and reflective. The pieces were distilled from 4 years of regular writing & performing and feel like a greatest hits.
Do you face challenges as an indie musician in a digital age? How has technology helped you (assuming it helps)?
There are pros & cons—If I & anyone else can independently produce and release an album to a worldwide audience with just a laptop, how can I hope to stand out amongst the resulting mass of new music? How much time & energy do I want to spend being my own online networker, designer, booker, & promoter, when it might mean less time for creating? It can be tough to find the right balance.
Despite the mixed blessing, we’ve certainly benefited from current technology. There are endless ways to compose & share musical ideas in the writing stage, and once released we’ve had enough success with online album sales (from Bandcamp in particular) to at least cover production costs. We’re shipping out a vinyl record today to a guy in Greece who found us randomly on a Bandcamp Discover list… in those moments the technology shows its power.
Where can we connect with you online and discover more music?
doralice.bandcamp.com is best place to check out our music, both digitally and in special physical media packages that we put a lot of design work into.
Anything else before we sign off?
Just a plug for Bandcamp—its streamlined & artist-friendly platform has breathed a smidge of life into indie music retail in the streaming age, & we’ve been able to fund entire recording & performing projects from sales there (vs. an occasional burrito from Spotify/iTunes/Amazon/etc). So we’d enocurage any music lover to check out their Discover lists for great new non-commercial music, and just know how much it means to indie artists who may be sitting on terrific ideas but wondering if it’s worth it to stay the course.