Meet The Midget Banshees
The Crickhollow Music Community loves hearing, and hearing about new bands! Every band has a story to tell as well as their music to share, and we're very interested in helping them tell those stories. This week Crickhollow Music has had the pleasure of sitting down with Fersinda, leader of The Midget Banshees.
CW: Let's start off by aiming at the easiest target first, The Midget Banshees, what a fun name! Hobbit, Mini...screaming, hehe, it all fits so well. For the record, though, tell us how the name came about...
Well I realized that minstrels do a lot of yelling, and female hobbits have a really shrill voice. I love battling with Fersinda because of her screams. Banshees have a terrible and dangerous scream, as does Fersinda.
CW: What can you recall about the first time you heard music being played? What would you be doing if you hadn't ever heard music being played?
Years ago I wandered into an event on Riddermark server. I believe it was similar to the Bread and Jam event we do on Crickhollow. The amount of available instruments was way fewer, but I was amazed how much rich sound people were getting. It was neat to hear tunes I was familiar with played in game. I was hooked at that point and downloaded Songbook that night and a handful of .abc's of some of my favorite songs. I think I stayed up way to late playing solos in game.
As for what I would be doing if I never heard the music? Honestly, I don't know. I kind of doubt I would be nearly as active in the social aspect of the game beyond just my immediate kin.
CW: Did you decide you wanted to play music immediately, or did it take a bit to sink in? Were you thinking at first of just playing solo, or was a full band in your destiny right from the start?
As I said above, I was hooked as soon as I saw it was possible. I played solo for a while when I was still on Riddermark I think I composed less than 20 songs total at that time. I took a few years off from the game and when I came back, I dabbled a liittle.
It wasn't until Almiyan invited me to play with the Legendary Tunes that I really got creative. I kept pushing the limit on what I thought I could do, including number of players I control myself. I am up to 11 now, and considering the reference to Spinal Tap, I might stay there. We will see.
CW: So, give us an idea of your band schedule. Are there any particular times or places that you regularly play music? Have you thought about having a scheduled concert, or series, or playing any of the big events on Crickhollow?
I would like to do more regular events, but I don't really have a set schedule. Until a week or two ago, I was set up most nights at the South Gate of Bree and have sort of become a part of a collective called "The South Gators" I have been taking a break for a couple weeks but expect to do that at least once a week.
CW: On to the music itself. Are you known for playing a particular genre of music, or do your influences extend into multiple genres? Are you searching to expand your songbook into a wide variety, focus on a certain genre, or create a balance?
I play a lot of genres. My Favorite band is Rush, so it is hard for me to go too long without playing something from them. I was in Jr High and High School through the eighties, and in college during the Seattle/Grunge/Alternative explosion, so I play a lot from bands in that perio. In addition there was a lot of music from the 60's and early 70s that my parents liked, so I learned to really like those a lot. When I was younger all I would listen to was orchestral/classical music, so I still call back to that frequently. The college I went to was very cosmopolitan with a large international student population, so while at college I really picked up a lot of different musical tastes.
CW: Some bands love Pibgorn, some bands hate it. What do you like or not like about the instruments in Lotro? Are there certain instruments in particular you tend to gravitate towards while playing?
I am sure most musicians would say they would like to see more instruments. I do find that I have learned to be more creative by mixing sounds and layering with what choices I have. I think my big workhorse is the bardic fiddle. I do a lot of rock and blues things, and to me the bardic comes closeset to the distorted guitar sound. I introduced this instrument to Baylei, another Crickhollow musician, and she uses it to replace big horn sections. When I heard this I had to try it myself. I am amazed that it works pretty well for the Big Band sound. I think I might try it next with horns in Ska.
As for the Pibgorn, I use it some: I used it for the synthesizer sounds in the song, "Any Colour You Like" by Pink Floyd, I have also mixed it in for "vocal" sounds of singers that are known for screechy voices. I also think it can add a spooky atmosphere to songs and stand in for a Theramin.
CW: Are there any instruments you'd like to see one day in Lotro?
I would love to see more melodic percussion, like a glockenspiel, small marching marimba or Xylophone. or maybe all of the above. A concertina might be nice as well.
CW: Most bands have an identity that they've worked on, something to separate them from all the other bands, whether through choices in music, instruments, costumes, lyrics, or theatrics. Is there something that you'd eventually like The Midget Banshees to be known as/for?
My current colors for the band are emerald green, I have worked on some lyrics that pull on the band being hobbits, including Bilhadrion that is an elf that is convinced he is a hobbit also. My fans say that he is "vertically challenged"
As for musical style, I really strive to get the sound of the songs as close to the original (out of game) as I can through mixing and the like. Some songs I have are spot on, some just aren't there yet. I think I have developed enough that people notice how close the songs do sound.
CW: We've noted that many of the bands out there use Maestro and the Songbook plugin, and there's Anvil Studios and GarageBand and others. What's in your toolbox that you like most?
Maestro is the big one. As for other production tools, I use several: Somethings are easier to do on different audio production software. About 2 months ago I started using Band Lab Cakewalk. This allowed me to compose some drum tracks for midis that were missing those. I am learning more of the technical side and slowly going through music theory to give myself more mental tools to work with.
In the end the tool that I always use is the Mark 1 Human Ear. No technology completely replaces good listening, with musical experience that develops an intuition in the producer for what is going to work or not.
As an aside: I have visual-auditory synesthesia. When I close my eyes I dont just imagine colors or images, my visual an auditory part of my brain are sort of cross-wired. I literally see colors and patterns from the sounds i listen to. I sort of have my own light show as I listen to music. I have found that when I have trouble getting things right in a piece, I can close my eyes, listen to the original, and let what I see help me get a better piece.
CW: And lastly, what do you see is in the future for Midget Banshees? Any short-term or long-term goals?
I am hoping that what I am learning about music will help me produce more, especially the problem all LOTRO musicians know: The Karaoke midi. I have a folder that is labeled "Needs Vocal." I hope to be able to crack into that folder. If I can do that, who knows, I might even think about producing my own midis from scratch. There are a lot of songs I would like to be able to hear in game, and no midi exists, or if they do it is in a pay site.
CW: Thanks, Fersinda, for letting us know a little more about The Midget Banshees!