From Atlanta, Georgia, folk/acoustic band, Sleepy Turtles, first got together to create a soundtrack to a book written by guitarist / vocalist Dylan Higgins. Then they decided to keep making music. They credit their great friendship to having a positive effect on their music and say that they believe in the power of music to be more than “just a bunch of frequencies vibrating about with some random words that sound interesting”. Rather, they believe that music has the power to share hope, love, freedom and joy. When stressed out, Sleepy Turtles rest. And when they are depressed, they turn to their faith in God. This interview is refreshing and lighthearted. Read on to learn more about Sleepy Turtles.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
I would say that the music most likely fits into the category of indie/folk. There are common elements of: banjo, guitars, multiple vocals and harmonies, as well as lyrics that come from our hearts.
How did you come up with the name Sleepy Turtles?
The name, and the reason for the band is really Dylan’s (band-member) doing. Dylan wrote a book called, “Awakening: Book One Of The Emblem And The Lantern”. He decided that he wanted there to be a soundtrack to go along with the book; and so he contacted his friends and created a folk band. One of the chapters in the first book is called “Sleepy Turtles”, and we decided that that name would be fun to use for the band. The band now writes music for the books, as well as separate albums.
How do you work together to create such a cohesive melodic sound?
Well, first, thank you for saying so. I believe that the reason for this happening is that we are great friends. These guys are my best friends, so I believe our connection as friends has a positive effect on the music. We also are able to be frank and honest with one another with our opinions. We choose to speak plainly but lovingly, and we forgive each other when we get offended. We all happen to be into the same sort of music as well, which is another factor.
I noticed a strong theme with nature… would you say that is where your inspiration originates the most?
Nature is definitely a major theme but it’s not necessarily our largest inspiration. We love nature, we love to camp, rock-climb, and so on. Yet, to be honest, (and not trying to push any agenda, just being real) our greatest inspiration is our Creator. He is Love, and He is our greatest inspiration.
Do you have any ulterior motives to making music? Such as to bring awareness to any environmental issues?
Well, we do have motives, yes. Our motives are to love people, and to sing/play songs that instil hope. We want to sing/play songs the bring freedom. We want to sing/play songs that tell people about love and truth. We believe in the power of music. That it’s not just a bunch of frequencies vibrating about with some random words that sound interesting. We believe that music is powerful, and we want to bring people joy through song. We most definitely do our best to take care of animals, and the environment as a whole. We want to leave a small environmental footprint, and enjoy the beautiful Creation around us. Yet our greatest inspiration and motive is to love, and to tell of love.
What bands/musicians have inspired you towards the journey of creating music?
Some of favourites are: The Beach Boys, Crosby Stills Nash and Young… and all of Neil Young’s music, The Beatles and all of Paul McCartney’s music (Wings, etc…), Simon and Garfunkel, Seals and Crofts, Steve Miller, America. We all have our own individual inspirations too though. Some are maybe not expected, but it’s true: Etta James, The Beegees, Robert Johnson, Chicago (as well as Chicago Transit Authority..), Michael Jackson… The list goes on and on.
Your lyrics are very poetic… is there one person who writes the songs, or do you write them together as a band?
It’s mostly a big team effort. Someone will come to practice with a melody, or a chord progression, or a basic lyrical map. Then each person will add an extra element till we all unanimously feel that the song is complete. It’s so much fun.
Which of your songs speaks to you the most and why?
When Tim wrote “Being Small” it was amazing that it spoke to us all individually so much, even though it’s about his specific life experience. I love playing that song. So, I think certain songs move us and speak to us at certain times.
You refer to Sleepy Turtles as 'a band threaded in the old tradition of folk: humans sharing in the human condition’. What does this mean to you?
Being real. Meeting people where they are at and doing our best to encourage them and love them. Being brothers and sisters that do life together, and trying to spread hope and love in the meantime.
The release of your album Summer Hither is approaching on May 29 2012… what are you looking forward to the most for when the album comes out?
I look forward to hear what people think about it. Good and bad. I want to know what people like, and what people don’t like. I want to know what parts inspired people, what parts encouraged people. I want to know what parts people thought were not good. We put our heart into this craft, ya know? So I’m anxious to see if people like it. It’s ok if they don’t, I just hope they do, ya know? Our heart is in those songs. So, I’m excited to hear people's thoughts.
How do you deal with stressful situations and events?
It may sound cliché in this moment, but honestly I play music. It helps me process. It helps me relieve tension. I also sometimes go on walks. I get away from loud busyness and rest. Again, I’m not trying to push an agenda, but just being honest to the question… I sit in the presence of God, and ask Him to come sit with me, comfort me, help me, and guide me. I rest in His presence. Then sometimes I just find friends that I know understand me, and I go rest with them. It just depends on the day, and what may have been causing the stress.
Do you ever experience days when you feel low or depressed? And what do you do to conquer these feelings?
Yes definitely. Well, first I recognize that I am in one of those moods and I try to figure out why. If I find an answer I work through it. If it was a person, I will figure out what bothered me, then calmly fairly lovingly address it with them. Usually that takes care of it, if not I let it go. If I can’t figure out what the cause is, I will play music until I feel better, or I will ask God what’s going on. Sometimes I come to the place of realizing my thoughts or feelings, and I choose to trust and believe in the positive ones. I choose to believe the good about me. I choose to believe the good about others. I believe there are forces in the world: Good and Evil. Good is God and He wants to encourage, and love, and give hope, and He tells the Truth. Evil is NOT God, and Evil wants to tell lies, and discourage, and tear down. At the end of the day, I choose to believe God. I choose to believe hope, love, joy, truth. I believe there is power in the mindset that we choose… I hope that all makes sense.
What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Again, sorry if this isn’t the answer you were looking for. If it’s not, sorry... I was encouraged to KNOW God. Not to know ABOUT God…. We all know ABOUT Justin Bieber…. But I don’t KNOW Justin Bieber. I was encouraged to get to KNOW God. KNOW His voice, KNOW His love, KNOW His presence, KNOW His smile over me, KNOW His pride in me, KNOW His joy in me, KNOW who He is and what He is like. Then when I met HIM, it changed everything. It’s a long story, but it changed everything. I was not happy, I was confused… then I met Jesus and it all changed.
And last but not least… How do turtles sleep? :)
We were recently sent the one ring to rule them all. Frodo Baggins sent it priority mail when he heard that we were sleepy. Apparently he never really destroyed it. We then forged the ring into five smaller rings. When we need to sleep, we put on the rings and disappear. Ring-wraiths are scared of Turtles.