Band Synergy Leads to Success
June 23, 2015
Synergy: the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements’ contributions. For indie folk singer Devon Cahill, the synergy that exists between her band, Letter to Memphis, is what has led to their success across the St. Louis area and beyond. The band consists of Cahill as the lead vocalist, Gene Starks on acoustic guitar, Paul Niehaus IV on upright bass and Sarah Velasquez on violin and high harmonies. From the production of their first studio album Phases to their Riverfront Times 2014 Nomination for the best folk band in the area, Letter to Memphis is only growing in popularity since 2011.
“It was something we sort of just fell into. Both Gene and I had lost our way and were overcoming some addiction problems, but when we met, we became really inspired by each other and music became our artistic outlet,” Cahill said. “When we create music that speaks to us and speaks to other people, it’s like a natural high that only creativity can give you.”
Not only are Cahill and Starks business partners, but they also tackle life’s joys and struggles as an engaged couple.
“Gene has two kids, so we are co-parenting and co-workers and although it can be a challenge its a wonderful thing,” Cahill said.
Cahill and Starks have been performing covers since 2011 and writing a few original songs, but it was not until 2012 when Niehaus joined Letter to Memphis and encouraged a greater emphasis on original music.
“Paul is my biggest inspiration. He’s a multi instrumentalist and his musicianship and musicality is really strong. I love working with him because he’s my greatest inspiration and my best friend,” Cahill said.
After Velasquez joined in 2013, the foursome has learned that each member of the band plays a specific role in making Letter to Memphis a success and, Cahill suggested, that the group functions best as a synergetic unit.
“We all bring different strengths to the table, Paul and Sarah are both classically trained musicians and know a lot about music theory. Then there is Gene who is such a creative songwriter and can really make the music come together while I really love the performing aspect of the band,” Cahill said.