An Interview With Louise - Of Between Two Pines, a travelling musical duo.
"Music is all about community, and so is travel" - Louise, Between Two Pines
Travelling becomes even more enjoyable when you combine it with other passions, whether thats photography, recreation, a love of history & arts. Its has the capacity to take you to so many unique experiences, meet new people and share your passions with others. I was lucky enough to catch Louise from the travelling couple from "Between Two Pines" for a quick chat about their passions - music and travel.
How would you describe your travel style?
At the heart of it, our travel style is spontaneous, immersive, and geared towards experiences and sight-seeing.
Our trips are planned on a large scale (at least our Great American Road Trip was), but our day-to-day activities are spontaneous. We do a lot of walking; it’s one of our favorite ways of getting to know a new area. You’ll never discover that hole-in-the-wall restaurant with the Actual Best Crepes in the World, or meet a local that offers to put you up for the night when you’re on a bus tour.
For our Great American Road Trip, we had a few hotels and campground booked on specific dates, so we were tied down and felt a little limited in our spontaneity. If it weren’t for those, we would have travelled much slower and spent more time in each location.
How did you decide on the name "Between Two Pines"?
Our name was inspired by John Muir’s quote: “Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” I have never felt more at home than in a forest of pines, and being in nature unlocks a side of our spirits that a busy city tends to stifle.
You both graduated college with music degrees and clearly have a love of travelling, do you feel that each of these passions compliments the other, and how?
Absolutely! The idea of the “travelling musician” has been around for centuries, whether it’s the troubadours of medieval France, or the touring rock bands of today. Music and travel have always gone hand in hand, especially now that social media is so huge. It’s relatively easy to gain a following nowadays, and location has become less important to success.
We’ve geared this act to be able to take it on the road. Luckily, Will has a background in recording, and I have a background in photography and videography, which allows us to play, record, and shoot videos entirely by ourselves. Without the need to depend on others, we have the freedom to go wherever we want.
Some things just make sense – and this seems to me like the next logical step. With our loves for travel, the outdoors, music, and the other creative and visual arts, I don’t think there’s a way for us to better serve all of our passions at the same time.
It’ll be tough – I’m sure that at least at first, there will be many nights spent playing for tips just to fill our gas tank. We knew when we got into music that it would not pay much, but it would be a profession that would fulfill us every day of our lives. Knowing that we’ll be able to share our story with others on the road is what drives us forward on this grand new adventure. After all, that is what the Van Life movement is all about: taking a dream that seems unattainable and making it a reality.
Do you find you plan your travel around music or music around travel?
We are constantly seeking places or things that inspire us, and our main inspiration is the outdoors. I believe inspiration must come first in art, else it seems forced. We follow our inspiration wherever it takes us, and we’ll figure out what that means for our music.
How has travelling inspired your songwriting and music?
So many greats in music and art history come to mind – Beethoven and his Pastorale Symphony, Strauss and his Alpensinfonie, Aaron Copland and his Appalachian Spring, Jack Kerouac, Jack London – all these great artists were inspired by the same ideas and places that inspire us. To be isolated from the population density and noise pollution of a big city, alone in the wilderness, standing small amongst the ancient Sequoias or looking out into a canyon several thousand feet deep… one cannot help but feel part of something much larger than oneself. That is something we want to share with others. And how better to do it than through the one true universal language, music!
A road trip across the USA is a common to many "bucket lists". What advice would you give people looking to plan a road trip?
First off, for those of you thinking about planning a road trip – do it! I promise, it will be one of the most enriching things you’ll ever do.
What are some of your biggest travel tips:
Give yourself wiggle room - You will want some downtime from driving. Try not to see too much in too short of a time, and give yourself nonspecific “zero days” with no activities planned. Sometimes on the road, we just took an afternoon or a whole day sitting around our campsite watching movies and enjoying a six pack or a box of wine. We made sure to rest any time we were starting to get fatigued, even if that meant we’d spend a little less time doing some of the things we planned. If you plan a few days of wiggle room into your trip, you’ll have the freedom to rest when you need to.
Pack efficiently - Don’t bring five different sundresses, or both of your swimsuits. Stick to the basics.
Don’t try to see it all - While it’s difficult to call any part of our trip a mistake, one of my biggest “regrets” is how much we tried to see in such a short amount of time. Seven weeks may seem like a lot, but we covered nearly 12,000 miles, 25 states, and 33 NPS sites in that time.
Write out your expenditures - I found that physically writing out (with pen on paper) every transaction we made kept me keenly aware of and accountable for our spending. And it gave me a very clear picture of our spending habits, so when we go on trips in the future, I know exactly how much I ought to budget.
And here’s one more fun tip: Bring an empty moleskine journal as your travel journal or scrapbook. I had so much fun filling my book with photos, stickers, drawings, rubbings, signatures from friends we made, and whatever else I could find. My trip book really took on a life of its own, and is definitely the coolest souvenir I’ve ever had!
View and flip through the travel journal here.
Our blog, (read here), is where I will be posting my travel tips and stories – including how to save money on the road and travel on the cheap, road trip equipment essentials, mistakes we made, our favorite places, and much much more. Also, please feel free to use our contact form on our page to shoot us a message if you’re looking for advice on planning your own Great American Road Trip! We’d love to answer your questions.
What has been your most quintessential/iconic "American road trip" moment/memory?
It’s so difficult to pick one singular iconic moment in a 50 day cross-country road trip, because there were thousands of these small moments that added up to make our experience what it was: driving through Utah in 110+ degree heat with a broken AC, or sharing a picnic table with a group of fellow road trippers in the Badlands, or driving a manual up and down Lombard Street in San Francisco.
Did you find yourself meeting and playing with other musicians on your travels?
Our idea for Between Two Pines was born on the road, and was very much inspired by this trip. Will packed his guitar, and we figured we would try to write some music about our travels. But I’ll be honest, most nights, we arrived at the campground after the sun had set, and I would cook our dinner while Will pitched the tent, and that would be our night. I wish we had more time to soak in each place, sit around a campfire singing folk songs, and meet more people in general. I have no regrets about our trip and the incredible number of sites that we saw, but I think we have a clearer vision of what we seek in our future.
For our first full-length album, we’d love to collaborate with musicians all over the country, wherever we are. Music is all about community, and so is travel.
Describe your trips in 5 words.......
Eye-opening - Spontaneous - Exhilarating - Awe-inspiring - Carefree
What can followers expect to see from Between Two Pines in the next 6-12 months?
We have so many exciting things coming!
We are excited to share that we have just bought our very own 1986 VW Westfalia Vanagon! It’s quite a step up from our VW Passat in terms of camp-ability. We’re in the process of making repairs and upgrades, and are planning to take her on the road soon. We’re getting married this October, after which we’re planning a honeymoon road trip. At some point, maybe right after the wedding, maybe a little later down the road, we’ll be transitioning to full-time #vanlife.
We’re also in the process of recording our first EP, to be released this summer. It’s called “Foundations”, and is inspired by the places we call home, like the mountains of Appalachia, Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay, the Shenandoah River. The final song on the EP is called “A Life Anew”, and it is about the start of our journey on the road – and perhaps a shift in what we consider “home” to be.
Here’s a sneak peek of one of Between Two Pines' new songs, “(You Love) I Love You.”