YA: How old were you when you started singing?
Jeff: I’ve been singing since I was a wee-tot, but it wasn’t until I was 11 and started listening to Boyz II Men that I started to take it a bit more seriously. I’m a big melody/harmony fan.
Olivia: I’ve been singing my whole life (my parents have a video of me when I was four singing a song about my stuffed bunny rabbit),but I really started taking it seriously when I formed a band at the age of 12 and even more seriously in high school when I was in several choirs.
Jeff: Very much. I have an amazing family and I love them very much.
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Olivia: My family is ridiculously supportive of my career choice. I know that it’s a parent’s prerogative to hope that their childrens’ lives are as easy and painless as possible and I definitely picked one of the most difficult industries to find success in, but my parents wish above all else for me to be happy and nothing makes me happier than making music.
YA: Where does your inspiration for your music come from?
Jeff: Inspiration can strike from anywhere. While most of my singer/songwriter style songs are influenced by personal encounters, situations or relationships, my Country, Pop and Rock songs for other artists usually come about from a great deal of people watching (sunglasses help)… or feeding off my co-writer(s). Where does your inspiration for your music come from?
Olivia: I look for inspiration all around me. It’s a songwriter’s blessing and curse that you’re constantly analyzing every little thing that you see or hear for something that might spark a song. I’m mainly inspired by what’s going on in my life and the lives of the people I care about and by other songwriters, some who I know personally and others who I don’t, who challenge me with their writing and push me to be better.
YA: Tell us a about your lyrics?
Jeff & Olivia: “Better Off” is a song about closure. Getting it is not generally easy nor a pain free process. It’s about airing some your dirty laundry and making sure your perspective is heard (at least you tell yourself that). “Better Off” is about the journey and the re-introduction of emotion all the way through “being OK”. It doesn’t mean that you don’t still care for that person, but that you realize it just wasn’t meant to be.
YA: How long does it take for you to write a song?
Jeff: It varies… Sometimes the song will write itself very quickly in less than an hour and others take more. The average is about 3-4 hours.
Olivia: It totally depends on the song. Some songs fall out of the sky and into my head and it’s all I can do to keep up with writing the lyrics down as they’re coming to me. Other songs take much longer, sometimes it takes weeks or even months to keep tweaking them until I’m happy with the final result.
YA: What’s it like working together instead of individually?
Jeff: Some people stay away from co-writing because it’s less comfortable than being in a room by yourself. When writing with/for new people for the first time you can be a bit self-conscious about what you are just willing to blurt out. Olivia and I have written many songs together across various genres so there is a pre-existing level of trust and comfort. We work very well together.
Olivia: Working with another person who you trust and admire as much as I trust and admire Jeff is something that very few people are lucky enough to find, so I’m grateful. We challenge each other to try new things and to get better at what we already do. It’s also a lot more fun to sit in a room with another person who can laugh with you about the terrible lines you spit out on your way to better ones.
YA: How long before the show Jane By Design aired, did you find out it would be played?
Jeff & Olivia: The process started a few weeks before the show aired.
YA: How did they find you out, and was it a shock for you?
Jeff & Olivia: We are both part of the Durango Song Expo, which is a bi-annual songwriting conference to bring together writers, composers, music supervisors, publishers and other industry professionals. At each event, there is a lot of exposure to songwriters and their music. We connected with a music supervisor at this event who ended up placing the song. It was a very exciting moment for both us.
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YA: Which musician would you compare yourself to?
Jeff: As an artist, I mostly focus on acoustic and pop/rock genres that would fit in more of the TV/Film or singer/songwriter genre. I would say Edwin McCain, Howie Day, Joshua Radin, and a few others in that realm.
Olivia: I get compared a lot to Ingrid Michaelson, Colbie Caillat, and John Mayer. I think this is mainly because of the tone of my voice and the way that I use it.
YA: Who do you listen too?
Jeff: I’m all over the board from mid-90’s Matchbox Twenty, Gin Blossoms, 2Pac and more, all the way to modern day Pop, Top40 and Country. Every now and then putting on some throwbacks like Shai, Boyz II Men or Brian McKnight never hurts. Also it’s always a great treat if you’re able to experience the songwriter performing the song instead of the artist that cut it.
Olivia: My favorite artists are Miranda Lambert, Brandi Carlile, Sugarland, and John Mayer. Recently, I’ve been obsessively listening to Sara Bareilles’ new EP.
YA: We ask this to everyone: Do you have a favorite book and why, or what book are you currently reading?
Jeff: One of the last books that I read was “Do The Work” by Steven Pressfield… A very inspirational, quick and cheap read for those who dream big.
Olivia: On The Road by Jack Kerouac. I just absolutely love the language he uses and the way he pieces words together in such an unexpected way. I also love anything by Cormac McCarthy. He’s a master of detail and finding the beauty and humanity in simplicity. The last book I read that I really loved was The Help.
You can purchase the song here on iTunes.
And click here to watch the full length episode on ©abcfamily.