Singer-songwriters Brooke White and Jack Matranga were strangers just a year ago, and now they’re a successful duo with a new EP in stores. This recent release, “Winter” speaks to its name, as nature played a large part in its creation. Read on to learn about the inventive ways they are engaging fans and how a “musical blind date” created Jack and White.
Without using the words “singer/songwriter,” “pop,“ “folk,” or “alternative,” describe your sound.
Sounds like California… Like windows down and salty air and freedom… conflicted, like sunshine and June gloom all at once. If it had a taste, it’d be crisp and modern around the edges with some warm gooey vintage in the middle… new and yet familiar… and yes, “a lil’ bit country and a lil’ bit rock n roll”… I think
I read on your facebook page that you were strangers just a year ago before joining forces and creating “Jack and White.” How did this duo form?
Tis true, we hardly knew a thing about each other, other than our names when we paired up that first day in Van Nuys. Basically we were set up on a musical blind date to co-write for my next solo record by our manager, who happened to be a buddy of Jack’s since back in their little league baseball days together in Sacramento. Took us months to finally make it happen, and when it did, it really happened. I think the “no expectations” thing worked in our favor. We made a few peanut butter and honey sandwiches, listened to some old Fleetwood Mac blues cuts, Ozark Mountain Devils Jackie Blue and some Coldplay and then wrote a song in a couple of hours. It was a perfect match, I cancelled all my other writing sessions that month and we turned into Jack and White…
Your song “Double Trouble” was featured as an iTunes single of the week in August 2011. Did that have an impact on growing your fan base?
Certainly was a lucky break for us to get that Single of the Week and definitely helped us to “get out there.” iTunes surprised us really, they couldn’t have been better to us—we’re grateful. It’s nice to have those guys in your corner! With the end-of-summer timing of the release, “Double Trouble” seemed to resonate with our fans, they’ve really responded well to that tune since the first time we played it liveby the second chorus they were all singin’ along! pretty cool…
What was the inspiration behind your new EP Winter?
Well, winter actually. Not that we really experience much of a winter here in Southern California (and that’s the way I like it) but there is more of an introspective vibe, there is just a lil’ less sunshine and a little more cloud cover. I suppose it takes a bit of a mellow turn from Gemini, “Voices” plays against an easy-does-it tempo, definitely our slowest tune. The lead guitar is the real star that shimmers and shines… Jack really outdid himself on that one in my opinion. XYZ takes on the theme of the aches and pains of growing up, realities of life… definitely something that was on my mind in the writing process. We wrote most of these tunes in the park. The great outdoors brought an element of nature to this group of songs, like in “Bright Side of the Bad News.” “Night after Night” turned out to be somewhat of a modern interpretation of the Everly Brothers—unintentional but happily so.
What’s your songwriting process like? Are you both usually on the same page?
Yes, we are very much on the same page, that was what was so obvious in the beginning. It is split right down the middle. Our thoughts really collide when it comes to songwriting. That’s not to say that we don’t have our occasional disagreements, but it usually ends with our working it out for the betterment of the tune. Jack brings his signature guitar voicings to the table—I kinda like him to take the lead there, but then I fully submerge into those first few chords. The inspiration then delivers a melody and that first line, and then one just follows the other. We usually simultaneously create the harmonies. Sometimes it takes a few sessions to finish a tune, but usually one day does the trick.
What kind of marketing/promotion did you do/are you still doing for your new EP?
Grassroots; Jack and White is a DIY operation from the ground up. We write it ourselves, record it ourselves, graphic design ourselves and promotion and marketing are no exception. However, we can’t talk about Jack and White without mentioning our manager Brad. Though he may not contribute musically, he really has our backs when it comes to getting the word out there. The three of us work together daily to come up with creative and cost effective ways to be heard! Generally that includes a lot of social networking—utilizing our online platforms to connect with fans and create interest, whether that involves contests, giveaways, free exclusive tracks, partnering with bloggers, or Ustream events where we play a few tunes acoustically and interact with fans. Additionally, we utilized YouTube to promote Gemini with “Jack and White Wednesdays” where we released a new video every Wednesday. Everything from live performances in my living room to writing sessions in the park to tour adventures. We capture it all on the flip cam, and then Jack edits the footage together. We documented the whole process of recording Winter and Jack created a quirky indie style music video for “Night after night” from that footage. It has been very effective and most definitely budget friendly! We maximize what we have. We can’t overlook the press outlets that have been supportive of us since the beginning. We continue to be loyal in return by giving them exclusive content to premiere. We value our relationships with those people, and our fans who help us tremendously.
I saw that you held an Instagram photo contest where fans could enter to win a prize by submitting photos inspired by Winter. Great idea! Have you done similar things to boost fan engagement?
Indeed, again we really try to engage the fans through social media by allowing them to be on our team and participate in a way that is creative and helps us spread the word. We reward them with something unique or special to the band. This contest went really well and we’ve seen success with past contests so we definitely plan to do others utilizing all the different platforms available.
Is Jack and White your full-time project now? Or are you both maintaining solo careers as well?
At the moment, musically it’s all about Jack and White. In the beginning we had few expectations, and I wasn’t sure what this “side project” meant for my solo career, but I’ll tell ya this is where the inspiration is right now, and it feels refreshing to be living in the moment and not chasing after something elusive when we have something tangible and working so well right in front of us. I can only speak for myself, but I am feeling tremendous musical fulfillment in this collaboration and being that we only met less than a year ago, I feel like we have a lot of songs to write and explore and am excited for the possibilities. Who knows what the future holds for us as individuals, but as far as I can see, it looks like we will be traveling down the same path for a while…
Any idea what’s next for Jack and White?
We’ve always taken the approach of setting short term achievable goals, and creating these EPs has been our way of doing that—allowing ourselves to develop while consistently releasing new music to our fan base and not over thinking our songs. We definitely have started talking about “plans” for the longer term, which includes one more EP release this summer and then finally getting serious about our full length record. We are excited to tackle that and know it will take some time to craft it, and yet we are glad that we’ve taken the first year to establish ourselves first with the EP approach. It’s created a story and nice foundation for us to build upon. Up next, good things…