Meet the Band: Joseph — Musicians, sisters, and Seattle Pacific alums
It’s not every day that Ellen DeGeneres hears your song on the radio and asks you to perform on her talk show. But that’s what happened to Seattle Pacific University alumna Natalie Closner Schepman ’09, and her sisters, twins Meegan ’11 and Allison ’11 Closner.
The sisters, whose band Joseph’s album I’m Alone, No You’re Not was featured on NPR’s First Listen, performed on Ellen in October 2016. Seattle Pacific caught up with the band — who recently performed in Mexico with Dave Matthews — in the green room at Seattle’s Fremont Studios before a local show.
SPU: When did you decide you wanted to do music together?
Natalie: I sent them a text, asking if they wanted to sing with me. They didn’t really know what I was asking at the time.
SPU: Why “Joseph” for your band name?
Natalie: We grew up outside of Portland, but we spent summers going to Joseph, Oregon.
Allison: It’s where our grandpa grew up, and his name was Joe. It was an important place to us growing up.
SPU: How do you describe your sound?
Allison: Kind of a folk-y pop.
Meegan: Soulful pop.
Natalie: Honest lyrics, and lots of harmonies.
SPU: The setting for your White Flag music video is gorgeous. Where did you film it?
Allison: It was Nashville, Tennessee. We just got to tromp around the forest with some really fun people and a really talented videographer. That day was great.
SPU: Your lyrics in White Flag talk about not giving up — resisting the call to surrender. What do you hope people take away from it?
Natalie: It was really a process for us of moving through some fear and anxiety that we had, collectively. For us, it was a really important decision to make: to move through things that scared us. You can choose whether or not to be paralyzed by your fear. Even if you’re afraid, you can keep going.
SPU: What’s the process of writing a song?
Natalie: Every song is different. Usually one person will come with an idea: whether it’s a word or a lyric or a melody, and we’ll flesh it out together. We’ve done a few really cool co-writing sessions, where you go into a room with someone you don’t know and you go, “OK, let’s create something.” It’s really cool to get their perspective and see how they approach it. You end up learning a lot every time.
SPU: This past spring, you played at Coachella — out in the middle of the desert.
Natalie: It’s very hot. It was really neat, though.
Allison: The stages all had really great sound, which was nice, because a lot of festivals don’t. I thought Coachella’s sound was really cool. Everybody was so impressive.
SPU: What’s it like being on tour?
Allison: When we first started touring, it was a lot smaller — we were doing house shows. Some artists are just thrown into touring. Ours started out kind of like a family road trip.
Meegan: It’s definitely a huge sacrifice to leave for so long, though. We’ve been on the road for three years.
Natalie: You get to be in new places. You meet amazing people. But it also can be really disorienting.
Allison: You eat out for every meal. If you have great people on the road with you, they’ll make everything feel great, even if it’s hard.
Natalie: It’s such a weird way to live your life. It’s so amazing, and so hard. It’s all the things.
SPU: Natalie, you studied vocal performance while you were here at SPU. What was that like?
Natalie: I met all my best friends here. It was so amazing to go to be in a music program where professors were really involved. They really cared. They got to know you, and really championed you as a musician. It was a really personal experience for me. It was really good.
Allison: SPU was so incredible for the two of us, just growing up.
Meegan: We met some of our best friends here, too.
Natalie: Such good community. After graduation, three of my good friends — we were all in music together — moved to L.A.
SPU: What are your goals for your music?
Natalie: We want to make music that is real, and that allows people to see something in themselves. We want people to pause from their life, and feel something … and to know that someone else feels the same way.