The following interview was done at Klatch Coffee in Ontario, CA with Tim and Stephanie Skipper on 3/2/15. They were kind enough to meet up with me in person between their two shows in California. There are two portions of this interview including Copperlily and House of Heroes. Below, you can listen/read the first part of the interview. Be sure to pick up their first full-length album on March 24th, 2015!
IZ: First of all, is there one question that you hate the most in interviews? If there is, what is it?
TS: That’s a brilliant one to lead on with.
IZ: Make it the first one that way I don’t ask it.
TS: Uh, I don’t know…
IZ: Unless that the question that you hate….
TS: The “name question” is the always question. We’ll go ahead and do that one right off the bat.
TS: Copperlily, masculine-feminine. Metal-flower.
SS: We both want to be strong, yet seasonal, and beautiful.
TS: Yeah, that’s what I strive for
SS: We needed a name and it kinda had a ring to it.
IZ: Ok, that’s fair enough. What’s the musical goal of the project? Is it just for fun?
TS: I don’t think so. I think we both slowly waded into the Copperlily pool as it were. Thinking ‘Ok this can be for fun or it can be something serious, we just aren’t sure yet.’ At this point, for both of us I think it’s something very serious. In a way we sorta view this as our main project, and anything else as a side project or equal. At least for the next year we said that we have a full-length album, we have some tour dates and things going on……we’re going to go for it. We are going to make this as our main project.
SS: For me, I have to write. I have so much coming out of me right now. I had laid the Stephanie Smith thing to rest. I sorta had an in-house help with the music side of it. I had all of these worries coming out of me. It was just something I had to do. Was it going to be commercial? I don’t know. Was it going to be something we did for money or took seriously? I don’t know. I just had to do it. Even though it was hard at first, it was really hard to write together, we thought it was going to be a lot easier than it was. I felt like there was this little whisper in my gut that was like ‘You will see the other side of this and it will be worth it if you keep pressing on. Pushing through some of the hardship and the beginning of the creative side.’ Now I think we are in that side. Seeing some of the benefits of it now.
IZ: In what ways was it hard to make the music together?
TS: The biggest thing and the easiest way to answer this is, I have written with the same 3 guys since 1998.
SS: And I have written with the whole city of Nashville. We came from very different creating theologies I think. There was a clash. I was accustomed to a lot of communication in the process like ‘I like that idea, it makes me think of this’ and we go back and forth, back and forth. I feel like House of Heroes can just telepathically communicate and something happens. There’s not a whole lot of back and forth, there’s a lot of quiet, mulling it over and taking it in.
TS: And the other thing that made it really difficult, we are both the final say for our respective projects. If she is writing with somebody and she goes ‘well, I think the melody should go like this…’ Then they would be like “you are going to have to sing it a hundred times, so do what you want’.
SS: It defaults to me.
TS: Since I am singing in House of Heroes, they say “Hey, you do whatever you want with the melody. This is just my suggestion’. You put those two things together and it’s just like ‘The melody needs to go (sings lower notes), ‘No the melody needs to go (sings higher notes)’.
SS: We just war over it.
IZ: There was one of your new songs on your EP that you put out in….when was it, October?
IZ: It was a song about complementing each other….
SS: “Fast and Slow”?
IZ: Yeah, “Fast and Slow”. You have got that side of it and you have that side of it, and together it equals out. It makes it for the best.
SS: It’s a fun thing to talk about now that we have it figured out a little bit, but at first it was like ‘WHY IS THIS SO HARD!?!’
TS: Yeah, it was bad man. I always joke about this but it’s not a joke. I quit the band like 2 or 3 times.
IZ: Copperlily or House of Heroes?
TS: I was all like, this is not going to come in the way of our marriage. When it ends with you in the bedroom, doors slammed shut and crying, and me having to go for a walk because I’m so angry….
IZ: It’s not worth it.
TS: It’s not worth it. Yeah, it’s not worth it. You do your thing and I’ll do mine but…
SS: That’s when the little whisper in my gut would be there. I’d just try to approach him again and be like ‘Can we try to finish this song?’ I had this feeling, I was like ‘you have to keep trying’.
TS: I’m glad we did.
IZ: Same here.
IZ: All of the releases so far for Copperlily have been fan-funded, is that right? Like Indiegogo….
TS: We did Indiegogo for the first EP and we were able to make enough money off of that EP [for the full-length] and we pulled some favors. This new record that we have coming out, I guess you could say it was fan-funded in the sense that they funded the first one, and we made enough money off of that one to fund the other one.
IZ: No, no, that makes sense. Are you looking to stay that independent route, or are you looking to be signed since it’s a full-time thing?
TS: You know, I think for now we are looking to stay independent. The idea is on the business side of it, which is so yucky to talk about….
IZ: Yeah I get what you mean.
TS: If we are trying to make a living doing this, you have to. On the business side, what we would like to do is take it as far as we possibly can independently. When we do bring somebody on board, it’s very much something worth our while, there’s already something for them to invest into.
SS: It has to be the right thing. We are not opposed to a label and the help they could offer. It would have to be something we can’t do ourselves.
IZ: Did you produce the record yourselves or did you hire somebody to do it?
TS: We did uh….
SS: Most of it.
TS: Yeah we did a lot of co-producing. We did the first 5 songs with Matt Hoopes from Relient K…
IZ: Oh nice!
TS: Stephen Keech from Haste the Day. They have a little home studio we did there. We did one song with a guy named Jay Hall. The rest we pretty much produced ourselves. We fell into a pretty fortunate situation with a really nice studio in Nashville that was doing a class on recording. They needed a band to be a guinea pig for the studios. We are like ‘Yeah, sure we’ll come in and record on your SSL boards with all of your fancy mics and pre-amps.’
SS: We set out originally to just release a 5-song EP in October. That’s what we were working on with Matt Hoopes and Stephen Keech. We had that opportunity the week after we recorded with Hoopes, to record at that school. We had about 5 more songs to record. Tim was like ‘Hey, we should make this a full-length!’ We released the teaser EP in October. All that to say, I guess it wasn’t really the plan to release a full-length but it worked out.
TS: Yeah, me too
IZ: Out of all of the Copperlily songs so far, which one is your favorite? It doesn’t have to be the same one.
TS: I think that’s always evolving but I think probably, my current favorite, I’d say “The Beautiful Unseen”. I felt like that was, maybe not a turning point in our writing, but like a confirmation almost. It went really easily, there was a really good ‘Here’s what I bring to the table, here’s what you bring to the table, and this is how they mesh beautifully and we don’t fight about it. We come up with a song that we both love.’ The song is special to me for that reason.
SS:I think I really am excited for a song called “Lazy With Love” off of the new record. It’s one that we produced ourselves. Some of the melodies are really interesting. I am really excited about it. There’s just a sense of pride like ‘we did that!’
IZ: Very cool. I really like “A Lot to Learn”…
SS: This “Lazy With Love” feels a lot like that one
IZ: Like “A Lot to Learn”? I put it on a mix CD for my wife. She doesn’t really know House of Heroes that well or anything but she’s like “Oh, I really like this. It sounds a lot like Idina Menzel”
SS: (Gasps) That’s the second time today I got that!
SS: Yesterday, within 24 hours.
IZ: She was referring to you Stephanie, not Tim.
SS: Thanks for clarifying that
TS: Clarifying that
SS: Somebody said that at the show last night. That’s a great compliment, I love Idina.
IZ: So you played at a church last night, right?
IZ: And you are going to be playing Hotel Café tonight?
IZ: Have you been to the Hotel Café before?
TS: Never been before.
IZ: It’s great. Really great venue. I saw Matthew Mayfield there last year. Have you heard of him?
TS: Yeah when we were recording the last House of Heroes record with Paul Moak, he was in the mixing process with a record with Paul. We went and hung out with him a little bit.
IZ: It’s a smallish venue but it’s great for acoustic sets.
TS: That’s perfect, cool.
IZ: Are you looking to tour the same small venues and church venues? Anything?
TS: Right now we are open to anything and everything. The main reason we love clubs and bars and that sorta thing is because they are used to having shows. It’s all dialed in because it’s a music venue whose goal is to put on music shows. At churches sometimes, it’s like ‘we’ve never done a show here before! How do we do this??’ oh gosh….
SS: But sometimes you can have the best relationships in those places. We always find they are super hospitable, take great care of us, leave with an armful of food….
TS: I think we are still trying to find our market
SS: It’s funny because there were a lot of younger kids at the show last night and it was great. We felt like it really hit and connected and it was a good show. We will play at a college, and it will be great. We’ll go play a young married couples’ thing… who is this for? Everybody maybe?
IZ: Speaking of young married couples, there’s a lot of husband-wife duos out there right now. You’ve got Jenny & Tyler, Vocal Few, Gungor… would you ever consider a huge tour together? I don’t know, just get all of the young Christian couples out there….
TS: I would love that, it would be awesome. Have like a roundtable discussion type-of-thing…
SS: It would be fun, make a whole event out of it. Have like a question-answer time.
IZ: Have like a conference or something?
SS: That would be fun.
IZ: My wife and I listen to a lot of podcasts and watch a lot of movies together and then talk about them and bond after. Is there anything specific like that works for you guys? We are Beatles fanatics. Is there anything you connect over like that?
TS: I think so. I’m way into podcasts as well. Steph is into them too but I think on a lesser level than I am.
SS: I disagree, I’m way into them. I think there is one particular kind anything science
TS: That’s not true. I listen to a lot of comedy podcasts.
IZ: Oh yeah, same here. Comedy Bang! Bang! is my favorite.
TS: Yeah, Comedy Bang! Bang!
SS: And sports
SS: I think it’s a great way that we do it together. He’s more of an enthusiast where he does it on his own time. I love doing it together asking “what do you think of this?” when we have some time in the car. I tend to be more of a reader than him. I keep asking him to read books with me. Maybe we need to get them on audio.
TS: Yeah, well, I think we like different books too. Like what she said, I like science-kind of….
IZ: Deep-thought, philosophical?
TS: Yeah, exactly. I think she is such a relational person
SS: I like a lot of psychology type-things, Interpersonal-communication, and personality tests.
TS: We bond over TV shows. We just finished Parenthood.
IZ: I haven’t seen it yet.
SS: Ahhh you gotta watch it! It’s so good!
TS: It’s good. House of Cards. We haven’t started watching Season Three yet.
IZ: I think it just came out, right?
TS: Yeah, that’s right.
IZ: You have been married only a few years now, is that right?
TS: Just over two years.
IZ: Just over two years? Congratulations!
SS: We’ve got it all figured out!
IZ: Do you? Well, that’s my next question.
IZ: Do you have any advice from what you have experienced so far for any couples out there?
TS: Oh man. You know, it’s interesting because that’s subjective thing. We hang out with our closest friends in the world, see how they do their marriage, and I’m just like ‘oh, we couldn’t do that. I would suffocate.’ It’s all very subjective. I think the biggest thing is, make sure that you are ready for a lifetime of commitment more than anything. Inevitably, it’s going to hit the fan someday. You are going to have to push through that. There is nothing stronger than commitment I think. As far as like, I am committed to loving you, forever.
SS: We are going through the process of buying our first house right now. It’s funny because our realtor is a good friend of mine is a single girl. She helps people all of the time, but she is watching us, a married couple, and she sees the compromise we have to make. She hears my side of it, and she hears Tim’s side of it. We like different things, we are looking for different things. We are trying to find one house that the two of us can agree on. I do feel like it’s symbolic, you have to remember you are a team. Somehow you have to find the common ground, even if you are two really really different people. Within there lies the compromise and serving each other. I think that’s super important. Even though every relationship is different, no matter who you are or what personality type you are, there will be sacrifice and a team mentality. There are houses I would have bought if Tim wasn’t in the picture. It wasn’t right for him. I had to say, ‘I am not going to do this alone, I can’t do this without you. So I’ll will wait. ’ It’s a hard thing to say ‘I want this, but you don’t.’
TS: Even with the house that we ended up putting the offer on, or are in the process of “acquiring”, even with that one we went through a really tense 48 hours of Stephanie talking me into it. We had to make an offer immediately. It was rough. I talked to every mentor, older, wiser person in my life, they all had to say “Sometimes your wife is right.”
IZ: Hahah that’s true….
TS: “You need to trust her moving forward. This sounds like a great opportunity and we think you should do this.”
SS: So we’re doing it!
IZ: Congratulations. In Nashville then?
IZ: Very cool. And cold, and very cold.
SS: Right now.
IZ: Is there anything you guys do to keep your faith in God in the center of your relationship?
TS: Can always pray more. That’s a very important thing.
SS: Pray together.
TS: Pray together. We are very fortunate enough to have a church community that we really love. We lead a small group back in Nashville. I think those things are of utmost importance. Certainly we wouldn’t look down on anyone that doesn’t share that same value system. For us, it’s good to have community. Our small group is 4 younger married couples and we are going through the same stuff together. 2 years of doing this group together, and having everybody married around that same time, there has been some serious things come up. I just think isolation is such a bad thing. Whether you are single, married, or anything, we truly need each other.
Keep an eye out for the House of Heroes portion of the interview later this week!