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ATP! Interview: The Narrative

Listening to New York singer/songwriter duo The Narrative is a bit like stepping into an enchanted forest. Suzie Zeldin and Jesse Gabriel’s vocals flow together harmoniously, two songbirds falling easily in tune with each other, accentuating the emotional undercurrent to The Narrative’s guitar and piano-driven pieces. There is something both magical and gentle about the music that the indie-rock duo creates. Their work collection boasts songs that feel like an afternoon stroll on a gentle summer’s day, full of soft sounds that build to a release, as well as tracks like the recently-released “Chasing A Feeling,” that touch upon something murkier beneath the surface.

“I think sometimes we end up writing music that is a little bit darker lyrically than it sounds melodically,” frontwoman Suzie Zeldin explains, “"Chasing A Feeling" is a pretty good song to get that from. The lyrics are playing with the idea of losing something, even though the music feels a lot brighter.” That idea of multiple layers is one that The Narrative likes to experiment with, particularly in the new music Zeldin and Gabriel have been working on recently.

“The latest stuff has developed,” Zeldin says, “and now we’re adding orchestral and synth. It’s the same core of what we’ve been doing, the same dual vocal and melodic pieces, the guitar and piano, but now there’s this textural foundation that will be really unique from our different work.” Fans will be happy to learn that The Narrative plans on releasing collections of songs throughout the course of this year featuring these new elements.

“We’re planning the releases over the summer and trying to be strategic about releasing new material,” Zeldin says. “We like to always have something in our back pocket.” Zeldin stressed how much energy the two put into their releases, and why it’s important for them to take their time and fully create their vision. Developing that creation is a delicate craft Zeldin knows well, being involved in music for nearly her whole life.

“Both of my grandmas were always singing. I took piano as a child and really got into playing music out in public by being a songwriter. It was a tool I didn’t realize I had [and] didn’t know I could use in that way,” Zeldin says. When she got older, Zeldin realized she wanted to seriously pursue music. During that time is when she met her bandmate, Jesse, who was also looking for the right creative partner.

“We ended up randomly meeting via Craigslist,” Zeldin recounts, “and discovering that we were from the same town and that our houses were right next to each other, and that we had all these mutual friends. I definitely felt like it was meant to be at that point.” Her feeling is hard to deny. There is something so natural about The Narrative’s music, the way emotions and lyrics fall into place with Zeldin and Gabriel’s vocals.

“Sometimes we’re just singing together in a room and I’ll chime in on a couple lines,” Zeldin says, “and we’ll both be like, ‘yeah, you should definitely do that!’ It’s a very collaborate process.” The Narrative is constantly growing and changing through their music, even switching up songs for live performances.

“We love to arrange our songs in different ways,” Zeldin says. “There might be a song that’s played on the piano, and we’ll take it and make it more heavily based on the guitar.” The two also try out different vocals parts – even if it’s not always entirely on purpose.

“There was probably a time or two where we saved each other [playing live],” Zeldin laughs, “when you have that moment of ‘aw, shit, what was I supposed to do?’” The Narrative loves playing live shows for what their “really great fanbase,” she says. Both Zeldin and Gabriel are currently trying to finish up work on their new releases in order to head out on tour, a prospect both are excited about. Zeldin mused on her idea of a perfect show.

“Playing a beautiful theatre in my hometown, Manhattan,” she says, “somewhere prestigious, alongside a great singer/songwriter.” It is not hard to imagine two individuals as talented as The Narrative playing somewhere like Radio City Hall one day, enchanting the concert-goers with the sweetness of their balanced vocals and soft melodies from a guitar and piano. There is a certain humility and honesty that flows from Zeldin into the duo’s songs, highlighted by some of her closing statements.

“I can’t tell you how much it means when anyone cares about our music,” Zeldin says, her smile tangible even over the phone. It becomes clear in just a few minutes how much of a singer/songwriter, how much of an artist, that Suzie Zeldin and her bandmate Jesse Gabriel are. Each emotionally driven song is a little piece of their life, a tiny portrait of who they are, and The Narrative is brave enough to share that with the world.

- Words by Tori Mier

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