Playing it Raw with The Tall Tall Trees


For those who thought organic option was only available in the food menus and grocery stores, open your mouths for a fresh injection of natural banjo harmonies and strictly natural beats. New York’s band Tall Tall Trees have set themselves for an  unprocessed music foundation, which developed through the release of their debut album. The band’s members Mike Savino and Mathias Kunzli join Modern Mystery after their show at the Bowery Electric and share the recipe used for cooking up their tunes.

What is the story behind the band’s name?

Mike: Tall Tall Trees is a song written by Roger Miller, who is one of my song-writing heroes. We kind of wanted something that is really organic and natural, so when we came across Tall Tall Trees it kind of clicked.

How did the band start making music?

Mike: The band was originally a trio. Looking back at the datebook we started writing in 2005, but that wasn’t really the band.Then Mathias and the guitarist Kyle joined and we started playing acoustic.

Who are your influences and what is the main inspiration behind your music? It doesn’t have to  be limited to just the music spectrum.

Mike: The thing that four of us have in common is that we’re all freelance musicians. The main thing for me is just getting the music out. Just exposing our chemistry as a band and our friendship is a big part of our music and inspiration. I just love hanging out with these guys, we have so much fun playing together.

How did you pick up your instrument?

Mike: I was originally a bass player and went to school for it. There was a trip when I went to Brazil and I was playing electric bass. We would be in the country side of Brazil and the rest of the band had all acoustic instruments and were able to play with street musicians and hang out and just play all night. Having an electric bass I didn’t have a chance to share that. I picked up on some percussion but I really love to play string instruments. After the trip I looked into my closet and up on the top was this banjo that I toyed with as a teenager but I pulled it down and that same day I wrote two songs, and it kind of took off from there.  Our sound is really organic, I don’t ever see us using a computer while playing onstage.

Mathias: I initially wanted to play drums very early, but they didn’t offer it in school In Switzerland. It wasn’t until I was 13 that it went through and I actually followed the sound and went to school for it, and I still haven’t stopped.

How long did it take you to record your debut album and would you say you’re pleased with it?

Mathias: It took us a long time merely because we didn’t have any cash to go anywhere in a proper situation where we can go and record in a studio all together. Also, Savino just kind of started messing around with sounds and the banjo. We just did it all in our homes, passing around the music files.

Mike: So in the end it took about a year. It also took so long because we’re all so busy involved with creating music outside of the band. We had a lot of fun recording, it has  New York in it. It was recorded in Harlem, also in Brooklyn, there’s also the New York marathon in there, we were just trying to capture our environment in the music. We’re very proud of it and and wouldn’t change a thing. We’re working on our next one, where we hope to be recording together in the same room.

Do you have any favorite songs to perform during shows?

Mike: It all depends on the day and the sound. Also the audience is a big deciding factor. If the people are more rowdy we like to hit it harder, but if it is more of a listening crowd, which we don’t really have that much then of course we’ll jam with more mellow sounds. A balance of both sounds is great, through which we tried to make the album more eclectic.

If you guys could time travel which band or artist would you want to play with?

Mathias: Oh man! The first stop would have to be the 70’s, probably check out Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, The Beach Boys. Mike: But we’re also recovering jazz addicts.

Have you guys discovered any good tunes lately?

Mike: I love Akron Family, Dr. Dog, Fleet Foxes. I’ve also been getting into Dirty Projectors, I mean there is lot of good music out there.

Mathias: I checked out a lot of the stuff Michael mentioned. I explore sporadically, I rarely have time to check out music. When I get home I never have music plating, I mean I do sometimes. I’ve been packing up my house and moving and I realized that for 2 days I’ve listened to nothing.

What are your interests outside of the music scene?

Mathias: I’ve been getting into photography, just checking out a ton of art, I’m into some visual arts, really into animals. All I really would love to do is just take photos of animals and work for the National Geographic. I would sell my drum set in a minute.

Mike: For me, I love to read. I have a limited scope, but I love art. I think a parallel life path for me could have been art. I guess I have a basic artistic inclination.

 When did you decide to take a full-time role as musicians and leave your day jobs?

Mike: The weird thing about us is that we’re all music school graduates.From the start of moving here to New York is when I kind of decided that that was the goal. I had a switch go off, I saw a really great show and I realized that I could encompass that too.

 What do you guys like about being part of New York City scene?

 Mike: It’s so alive, just look outside.The thing about playing music here, that’s different from Los Angeles, there’s such a massive amount of things you can get into here, I mean I’ve played with so many different types of music, that varies from belly dancing bands, afro-beat, jazz, rock anything that you can think of. There are so many musicians here that you can collaborate with, learn from, it’s extremely wild. It’s all about diversity here.

Is it your first time at the CMJ?

Mike: As Tall Tall Trees, yes.

Do you like it so far?

We haven’t seen much of it, since we’ve been so busy. Although, we’re planning to go out and check out some shows.

If you weren’t a part of this band what would you be doing?

 Mathias: Be a part of another band probably, or do something else involved with music.

Do you guys have any upcoming tour dates or shows?

Mike: We have a couple of shows coming up, one in November with this great band called Phonograph. Also going to be playing at the Columbia University and the Brooklyn Chapel, have a  great acoustic vibe.

What’s next for the band?

Mike: Well, we’re writing, we’re playing, we’re hoping to earn some money to produce our next record. Hopefully, things will keep moving forward. Mathias:We want to thank anybody who is willing to check out our record and come see the show.We’re just here to make people smile, make good music and sing our hearts out

-Viktorsha Uliyanova

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