arms and sleepers, formed in 2006, will stop in Orlando during their international tour promoting their recently released album Swim Team.
By Jacob Engels
In just under 10 years, Ben Lewis and Mirza Ramic have managed to put out over 18 albums and EPs under the arms and sleepers banner. Their work has appeared in countless television shows and films, with the duo being regularly contracted to write songs for commercial and creative interests.
In early November, Will’s Pub announced that they would play the venue with Cincinnati based Automagik and local favorites Burning Gold. East Orlando Post and local filmmaker/photographer Jason Jack Underwood will be sponsoring the event. Drink specials and several art dealers will be announced by the end of the week.
Since the beginning of Arms and Sleepers, what has been the goal for you guys. What is it about creating music that drives you?
Our goal has always been to push ourselves creatively and release music that truthfully represents who we are in that moment. Truth in artistic expression is something we’ve thought about a lot and is unfortunately not something we’ve always managed to do effectively. But from the outset, we’ve wanted to create music of highest quality and in a most truthful, honest manner.
You have had some great success over the years… how do you keep building and improving?
Success is a strange term for us because it can refer to so many things. Success in achieving what we set out to do artistically is one thing, success in achieving financial stability through our work–music–is another. We’ve certainly been very fortunate to be able to share what we love to do with so many people and to travel to so many different places through our music.
It’s been a privilege and a life-changing 9 years. It’s also come with many negative side-effects, but those definitely take a back-seat to all the wonderful memories we’ve made with our music. In terms of building and improving, it’s a constant struggle and I think that’s how it should be – I don’t think much good can come out without some kind of a struggle.
We are always trying to be better artists and musicians and create music that requires us to push what we’re familiar with and what we’re capable of. Writing and producing music is a frustrating process, but I don’t think we’d be happy with our output if that wasn’t the case. So we try to remain as self-critical as we’ve been since day 1, always questioning what we are doing to the point of complete exhaustion. It’s the only way we can keep going.
What drives the style of your music… and performance?
Constant exploration of other art and new music. We are always impressed with how much interesting and clever art is out there, and it gives us the inspiration to try and do something like that ourselves. It’s not so much a competitive thing as it is being students of music who are so impressed with what they discover that they want to create something as good themselves.
We are always amazed with the extreme potential of human creativity and more than anything else, it’s that which drives our music.
Tell us a little bit about your recent crowdfunding effort on Kickstarter… what did you learn worked and didn’t?
We are extremely lucky to have some wonderful and generous fans who recently helped us raise over $12,000 on Kickstarter. We turned to Kickstarter for the 2nd time in our careers because we had a lot of music waiting to be released but not enough resources to make it happen, especially after so much energy and so many funds were spent on our most recent full-length album ‘Swim Team’.
It made sense to communicate this with our closest listeners and give them a chance to help us by pledging in exchange for some pretty neat, out of print items and other goodies. It worked out for everyone, and we are super grateful for that. In terms of what worked and what didn’t, I think being very personal and open with the people that are most loyal to your music is key.
We’ve known some of our closest fans for a long time, many of them we’ve met in person, and communicating 1-on-1 was very important to us. This took a lot of time and effort, of course, but it’s the best way to get the people most interested in what you do involved with the campaign. I think also having a light-hearted video explaining the campaign is the way to go – I really dislike the overly serious and self-important videos that many artists make on Kickstarter because it can seem (and is) pretentious and arrogant.
And who really wants to help fund that?
We decided to go the funny/silly route because that’s who we are in real life and there was no reason to treat our music and Kickstarter campaign as some sort of a “what we do is a gift to the world” thing. So being yourself and not taking yourself too seriously can go a long way on a platform like Kickstarter (and in life in general). What didn’t work was being inactive once the campaign got rolling.
The life of a Kickstarter campaign is a full-time job, and you have to remain proactive and focused every day. So those are some of the biggest lessons I got out of doing one of these campaigns.
You have a concert in Orlando at Will’s Pub on December 16th… how long since you have been in Orlando and what are you looking forward to outside of the show?
We’ve only played in Orlando once before, also at Will’s Pub, back in 2010 (with our friends in Caspian). This time it’ll be just me performing because Arms and Sleepers live these days is just me. I very much look forward to returning as I remember that show being full of really enthusiastic and supportive people. I also enjoy being in Florida so I look forward to some sunshine – being from Boston means struggling with winter every year, so this will be a welcome change.
Buy your tickets in advance here.
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at email@example.com