Today’s Spotlight shines on Late Watch, a Alt Pop / Dance group comprised of Jonathan and Rachel Fobbs. Rachel describes the band as fun, exciting, yet introspective.
The duo came up with the name Late Watch because they wanted “to spread joy and awareness,” said Rachel.
Jonathan went on to explain this about the background of selecting the name Late Watch:
Life moves fast. Years rush by and before you know it, it’s later than you first realize. In all that time there is a lot of noise from all directions. If we aren’t careful, we can become lethargic as consumers and take only what is given to us instead of hunting and gathering what’s best for us. We just want to ignite in the listener a desire to find what matters and pay attention to that. For the vast majority of people, it is probably not too late to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. There are so many marvels that can be found in each moment of life and there are many people in the world who just need someone to let them know that they are seen. Yes, we want to spread joy and awareness. Late Watch is a responsibility, a duty, a shift. Like, we are on the Late Watch.
We were inspired to start Late watch because we know that time is short. We love quality music with words that mean something to us and hopefully mean something to other people” said Rachel. Jonathan explains the inspiration to form Watch by saying “Well, Watch is a band, but mostly we are a husband and wife. We can make music as it comes to us on our own time, but we are also collaborating with other artists and that also fits under the umbrella of Late Watch. It’s a project that allows us to fluidly create what we feel at the moment or for a season.
In the beginning, when Jonathan began writing and playing live music, he didn’t feel the need to form a band. He would bring his piano and amps to venues and would “rock out alone”.
When Rachel and I married, I mean, we are a band. So it was more organic. It’s a very naturally occurring project because if I do a few songs solo or with other artists or if Rachel does a solo song, or if Rachel and I do a few together, it’s all the same little sandbox. I like it this way. I don’t want like to be too quick to grab a bunch of musicians and throw them in a room and demand loyalty to a project.
Rachel provides the vocals for band. She took piano for a year and was in the church choir for a year. She enjoys singing all the time and loves singing Karaoke. Rachel explains her connection to music by saying “Yes, I love listening to music! I usually choose what fits my mood. Music helps me get through the day. Finding something that I can just sing to and go all out. Especially after a day of being proper.”
Jonathan is the instrumentalist. His mother was classically trained as a vocalist and his father was a jazz trumpeter.
By the time I was a kid, he had stopped, but I still remember some of my mom’s gigs and my sisters and I had access to a very rich music collection from birth. Swing era, showtunes, bebop, classical standards and tin-pan-alley songwriters. That was a normal diet. Everyone played music and some of my siblings even pursued that in college. My mom’s piano school was in the front room of the house, so we were more like the quiet ghosts sneaking around and trying to keep out of sight. That’s a crumb of the story. The answer is, yes, so much. From start until now, so much music.
Jonathan is also a percussionist. Drums was his first instrument. He plays piano and loves everything about the instrument. “I’m a percussionist too. That was my first. To be honest, with what we are currently doing, I spend most of my time staring into a computer screen playing a midi controller.”
Jonathan and Rachel are inspired to create music for several reasons. ” I just love it. It’s in my bones. When I am away from my piano too long, it hurts. I miss it. We love it together ” explained Jonathan.
Rachel states that they are inspired by what is heard or the lack of it. ” What we aren’t hearing that we want to hear. I think inspiration can come from the absence of something. I think we inspire each other. When we met, inspiration struck. It’s not the same process all the time, but we both can be inspired by just being around each other. Like iron sharpening iron.”
In addition to being creatively inspired by music and each other, they are inspired by God and Keith Green. “I find the piano to be inspiring in itself. Sitting at it, I just know something new is going to come out” said Jonathan.
Music is Power
Jonathan and Rachel both believe that music is powerful to the youth and the world. Rachel had this to say about the connection:
I definitely find that music shapes your emotions and how you think even about your self. It shapes how you relate to others. That’s why it’s so crucial that people have positive things to listen to. ‘Cause I feel like music can either build you up or break you down. I’m sure there’s a time for everything, but you know, hearing that right song when you need it.
Jonathan had this to say about youth and the power of music:
The way I see it, music is really a distilling of experiences. Like if you were to pour really pulpy orange juice through a filter, when the liquid is gone only the pulp would remain. I feel like in life there are so many experiences and responses pouring into and over us on a day-to-day basis. Many times those things get into us and manifest in down the road and we aren’t even aware of our own development in some ways. A lot of times we just notice the liquid part that rolls over us and is gone. We can live and not always be conscious of the pulpy part of a pop culture experience that really stays with us.
Because it comes from a place of collective hindsight a lot of times, music can be just the collected pulp: The most pure dose of what an experience really was and really means, without all the noise. At least, at the writing stage it is for me. . . then I add a bit of juice at the production stage to make it a complete drink.
In the way that math can show us observable facts, so can music. A song can say, ‘Look, this is what happened to a person just like you.’ It’s a record of history that includes all the tone and emotion of the moment. It’s not like anything truly new happens from generation to generation. Love, hate, fear, success, failure. . . It’s exciting that those experiences can be preserved in music and shared with someone who we may never meet, but who may be experiencing something very similar. A good song can put words or order to a situation that once seemed unclear.
When it comes to music, some of Rachel’s favorite musicians are No Doubt, Metric, Pat Benatar. “Something about their stage presence. What I like is an artist who has a journey and at the end they are still going strong. Not that they are finished yet, but even where they are now. They’ve been able to evolve and stay relevant to people who really enjoy them. They are newer, but we both like Sylvan Esso.” Rachel also loves Blossom Dearie. Something about how she tells a story. She likes the song “Papa, take me to town,” by Bobbie Gentry.
Among Jonathan’s favorite musicians are George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Paul McCartney, Andrae Crouch, A Tribe Called Quest, Vince Guaraldi, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Astor Piazzolla. m-flo, Jack White, and Black Star. “That album [Black Star] was my first truly transformative hip hop experience. I love Utada Hikaru’s Distance record. I love it. I cannot get enough of Mozart’s Requiem. It has no equal. Everything Shiina Ringo touches. So, Tokyo Jihen, Phase one and two. Elis Regina’s voice is probably singular in its perfection. Dizzy, Monk, Bob Dorough and Yuzo Koshiro also. His music changed my life.”
Late Watch has released its first single, PSALM 23 is available for streaming and free download: https://soundcloud.com/latewatch/psalm-23
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