Laurie Raveis: Wow — that’s a hard one since we’re still in the process of “growing up” and in no big hurry to reach the finish line! There is a reason why music creators and performers commonly refer to “playing music.” It connotes a childlike sense of openness and wonder, along with a freedom to explore and experiment. Dennis and I both grew up under circumstances where we were expected to rely on our own resources for entertainment and stimulation. A cardboard box, some tape and a magic marker could turn into a spaceship, a castle, or a drum kit. Or, a trip outside could lead to fort building, jump courses and made up worlds and games. Our imaginations were limitless!
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Dennis Kole: Our career as a musical duo began in Bigfork, Montana. Laurie had traveled there from Boston, and I had driven there from Bellingham, Washington (90 miles north of Seattle). We met in a performance/improvisation class and quickly discovered an undeniable chemistry. Our collaboration started with a shared interest in the guitar, performance, singing and songwriting; but truly ignited as we uncovered a shared sense of playfulness, spontaneity, and values. One plus one doesn’t add up to two — sometimes it adds up to a whole lot more! As part of our improvisation class we worked on a number of performance songs ranging from Frank Zappa’s “Montana” to Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.” When we sang harmony vocals together for “Lean on Me,” there was a special feeling of resonance between us that transcended the moment and portended our future together as Raveis Kole!
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Dennis Kole: In 2019 we went to England to tour. We went through Bristol and Bath before finishing our tour in London. We were staying in a wonderfully renovated barn in the Cotswold hills above North Stoke. The cottage was set off by itself on a sprawling estate property, and was surrounded by meadows, hedgerows, and sheep. One morning as we were out walking along the footpaths towards a small village located at the top of an adjacent hill, we heard a uniquely awful noise that sounded like a sheep trying to cough up a hairball. As we approached the village, the distressing sound grew steadily louder. We became convinced that it was so ridiculous that it was probably just a local teenager having a good laugh at our expense. As we entered the village the sound abated as we made our way to a small, ancient church. We soon stopped alongside a small graveyard adjacent to the church to admire the view from the hillside when we were startled by the sound of a large sheep hacking/gagging in the field just behind us on the other side of the fence. For the rest of the week, we’d hear all the sweet baahhs across the valley, and then the one hoarse, low pitched bahh and we’d laugh and still do every time we think about it!
It has been said that sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Laurie Raveis: We were getting ready for a show and while I was warming up, I snapped a guitar string and needed to change it. Since I was in a hurry, I didn’t clip the end of the new string nor did I twist and tame it. As I was finishing up, my silk pants got caught in the back on the unclipped end of the string. I felt an ouchy poke and noticed a small hole. Well, the show must go on, and as I was performing, I bent down to adjust my volume on my guitar pedal and the back side of my pants let go with a loud rip. It was rather awkward to finish the set, and the lesson was twofold: “there’s always enough time to clip your guitar string and the show must go on!”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Laurie Raveis: When I was beginning to learn how to perform, I had a wonderful teacher/mentor in Boston named Sam Davis. Sam is brilliant, eclectic, and funny. He has an avant garde sense of humor, and installation art that deserves display in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. As an example, Sam has a life-sized fiberglass Holstein cow named Darla in his home studio. At the press of a switch, Darla, lit by a halo of colored lights, will exit her closet paddock and lift off towards the sky powered by hydraulic “wings.” Darla is beautifully rendered and lifelike, and the whole display has a wonderful campiness reminiscent of the movie, Flash Gordon. Sam remains an inspiration to always remember that music involves exploration and play, and that we can all find our own unique way of expressing ourselves through what we create and for me, the freedom and courage to find one’s own voice.
Dennis Kole: We have learned a lot from the people that we have worked with. One of our most important influences has been Matt Smith, who told us, “you guys have a beautiful thing together and you should always strive to be the best version of yourselves, not a second-best version of someone else.” Our songs are stories told from the heart about our experience in the world and how we feel about it. While “success” can mean many different things, for us it means that we are effectively communicating our authentic thoughts and feelings in a way that resonates with our audience and which allows them to add their own meaning and interpretation to what they are hearing.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote?” Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Dennis Kole: A favorite maxim of mine is, “if it sounds nice, play it twice.” It’s easy to be in a state of constant motion, always thinking about and moving towards the next thing. Whether it’s a guitar solo or how you want to spend time with friends or family, novelty does not always mean that something is better or more satisfying. Whether you call it a “hook”, a “theme”, or a “motif,” blending repetition and variation together to find the right blend of order and novelty is a key element in creating a dynamic and satisfying balance in our emotional lives.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Laurie Raveis: We are currently releasing singles from our forthcoming album,
In the Moment, which will be released on April 28, 2023. In the Moment is a collection of eight original songs that range from wholesome and fun to introspective and contemplative — all characterized by metaphorical or direct, time-crafted lyrics set within differing musical contexts that together create a diversified listening landscape to appeal to both your head and your heart.
We are also gearing up for the upcoming performance season which, for us, will kick off with the Tucson Folk Festival on March 31 through April 2, 2023; along with some performance dates in La Paz, Mexico which are being scheduled around our Folk Festival performance.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in music, film, and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Dennis Kole: We wrote a fun song called “Street Penguins” that indirectly brings up the topic of diversity. Penguins are generally considered to be fun, adorable, and cute, but what if you woke up tomorrow morning and found them coming into your neighborhood or workplace? Things that are different from what we are used to will generally cause us to feel uncomfortable. If something is strange, we almost instinctively respond by identifying it as potentially dangerous unless and until proven otherwise: “Don’t eat the strange berry or try to pet the strange dog!” The more aware we are of this innate tendency, the better able we will be to remain open to new experiences and new circumstances.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
“Time is your most valuable asset.”
“Talent can take you places, but hard work is the key that starts the engine.”
“Skate your own lane.”
“Comparison is a shortcut to discouragement.”
“Reaching the destination is less important than the journey.”
“Break it down and practice in small phrases, and slowly.”
“Art is worth pursuing for art’s sake.”
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Dennis Kole: When you create and/or perform, you’re choosing to share something of yourself with the world. The world doesn’t owe you an audience. The best way to avoid “burnout” is by having reasonable expectations. As music creators and performing artists we know that we are always in competition with a million other things that also seek to engage attention. Remain grateful when people choose to give you their time, and always seek to reward them with your best performance. Quality trumps quantity!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Laurie Raveis: We would like to be the people that provide the inspiration for the development of a tasty, wholesome, and fat free chocolate ice cream, which also provides the nutritional value of broccoli! We all can do a couple of unsolicited kind and esteemable acts every week, and here’s the kicker, don’t tell anyone.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
Dennis Kole: It depends on the day and what is happening in the news cycle, but today’s answer would be Elon Musk. I’m not sure what we would choose to talk about, but there are so many interesting possibilities!
How can our readers follow you online?
Sign-up for our newsletter:
Or find us by searching Raveis Kole for socials and streaming links!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!