For Americana & soul duo The Watters, nothing beats honing your craft like granting yourself the greatest gift life has to offer: experience. Whether that be the places you’re going or the people you’re seeing, husband and wife Daniel and Jenna Watters have found it’s more about the journey and less about the end-game, eagerly absorbing unexplored environments in a childlike wonder.
From the familiar sights of Sedona to the foreign streets of Los Angeles, Nashville, Denver, and now Austin, the couple have cultivated a most eclectic sound, blending the likes of Americana, soul, rock and jazz. The vivacious snap of a horn section gives The Watters their signature spirit, along with hearty melodies and memorable hooks. Even though we no longer have the band’s acclaimed electric live performances to feed off of, the energy pumping through your speakers remains undeniable, creating an atmosphere full of joyous colour and passionate resilience.
After collaborating on seven albums together under various monikers, The Watters debuted their first official record, Great Unknown, back in 2016 followed by their self-titled album in 2018. Now, they are finally back with their newest creation, Intuition, set to release later this month. Fusing the buoyancy and warmth of swanky horns, resonating organs, and embellished harmonies with the intensity and depth of deep-seated lyrics, Intuition is all about trusting your gut through-and-through.
Their newest single, “Let Me Know,” gives us a sneak peek at what’s in store for this new project, drawing on everything The Watters excel at. It illustrates a nagging suspicion that your partner’s behavior has changed abnormally, even when they assure you nothing is wrong. In an effort to fix whatever has taken a toll on the relationship, Jenna begs for some clarity. The track gradually intensifies to erupt in a roaring blowout, a wicked electric guitar and organ taking the forefront and enveloping you in a breathtaking high.
We had the privilege of asking the duo a few questions regarding their upcoming album as well as getting to know a little bit more about who they are.
First off, Happy New Year! Care to share any affirmations you have for 2021?
Happy New Year! Well, we took the whole month of December off and went to our hometown of Sedona, AZ, to be with family and recharge. We were really busy with music in 2020, and it’s our goal to keep just as busy and make more music. Our new album is out January 23rd, but we already have a new one in the works. 🙂
Who would you say are your greatest musical influences?
We listen to all kinds of music. We dig on a lot of the old 70s vibes like Little Feat, The Meters, The Band, Bobby Charles, Robert Palmer, Stuff. We love jazz and listen to a lot of funk as well (our top spotify genre this year.) Anything from New Orleans. In regards to songs and songwriting, The Beatles and any era of Paul Simon reign supreme.
How would you characterize your sound in three words?
Americana soul rock.
Can you describe your dynamic as a duo? In other words, are their specific roles you have in the creation of your music?
We have been performing together for over 15 years now. When we began, it was kind of me (Daniel) showing Jenna the ropes of performing and being the “boss.” Mind you this was before we were in a relationship. I would MC the shows and guide the direction of the music. Now Jenna is my boss and I barely say a word during shows anymore because she has gotten so good at guiding performances. She has always been my musical taste maker, even in high school when we were listening to emo and ska and she still turns me on to new music to this day. With that said, she is usually in charge of picking covers for the band and consequently, we often end up writing songs that are reminiscent of the covers that we play. It’s almost like osmosis…
In regards to songwriting, I usually write a majority of the songs, but Jenna plays a big part in the conceptualization and refinement of tunes. Ultimately, she is the final quality filter to what comes out.
How do you balance your music endeavors with family time, COVID, and everything else this past year put on us?
Honestly, COVID hasn’t stopped us in the slightest. One thing we are grateful for is the quality time we’ve been able to spend with our almost two-year-old son. He usually comes to the gigs with us and rocks out in the crowd. 🙂 But we were fortunate enough to find a weekly residency here in Austin in 2020, along with a slew of other musical opportunities like virtual happy hours, front lawn shows, etc.
For your album that will be released later this month, was there a specific artistic goal you wanted to achieve?
This last album was recorded live, and our goal was to give our listeners that same magic that we experienced in the studio. We mainly just want to share our music and hope people enjoy it!
What are you most excited for people to uncover about your upcoming album?
“Intuition” is a call to action: to trust your gut when it’s trying to tell you something, to honor your own wisdom, to be your own doctor, to take your life in your own hands and trust in the path that you are walking down. The album is definitely more of a “front to back” traditional album than compilation of singles, so we hope people can appreciate the album in its entirety.
What was the inspiration behind your single “Let Me Know?”
Two of the dearest people we know in Sedona wrote a book called Triggered: Transmuting Upsets into Love, which touches on the importance of honest communication in relationships. Usually when we get triggered by our partner, we seem to think it has something to do with them, but usually the truth is that when we are triggered, something deep within us (whether it be childhood trauma or something that happened a few years ago) is asking to come to the surface to be healed. We are here for our partner to aid in that healing process. But we have to be clear and let each other know when something is wrong. Also, not assuming our partner can read our mind is a great lesson. (ahem, ladies!)
Any other songs in particular that you’re most excited for people to hear?
The last song on the album “Go Home” was written while we were at My Morning Jacket’s festival, One Big Holiday, in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic a few years back. It brings us back to a time when we could gather with each other and forget about all our worries and unite through the healing of live music. It’s also very different from all the other songs on the album; very soft and mellow, and a gentle ending to a somewhat upbeat and high-energy album.
Aside from the album, what more might we expect from The Watters this year?
We plan to continue playing shows throughout 2021, especially here in Texas, and we’d love to make it back out to Nashville (which is our old stomping grounds! We lived there 2013-2015). There is an EP already in the works, and we are leaning towards a more acoustic feeling album with jazzy vibes.