By Brent Thompson
Photo Credit: John Scott Young
If you’ve been anywhere near the Birmingham music scene since the 1980s, then you are familiar with Ben Trexel. A prolific guitarist, composer, engineer and producer, Trexel has performed with – and produced – a multitude of bands and artists while becoming a local legendary figure. His current project, Space Of A Day, finds Trexel fronting a guitar-driven Pop ensemble with vocalist Autumn Yatabe. Drummer Daniel Coyle, guitarist Keith Shannon and bassist Scott Young round out the quintet’s lineup. On Friday, March 16, Space Of A Day will perform at Daniel Day Gallery. Recently, we spoke with Trexel and Yatabe as the band prepared to release its latest single, “Small Doses.”
Birmingham Stages: Ben and Autumn, thanks for your time. When did Space Of A Day begin?
Ben Trexel: I would say about a year ago – we just started singing and playing around the house for the fun of it. I’d play a song and she’d start singing and I’d say, “You have a nice voice.”
Autumn Yatabe: My mother and two of my aunts were singers and my sisters are singers. My grandfather told me my voice was shrill.
BT: She was told by the family that she wasn’t the singer [laughs]. But she has such a pure voice and a good vocabulary and she loves to read. I asked her if she wanted to write some lyrics.
AY: We just started singing together and it just sort of worked out.
Birmingham Stages: When it comes to songwriting, are there defined duties for each of you?
AY: I write the lyrics and sometimes the melody.
BT: I usually take care of the music, but we’re exploring different approaches to writing. Being a composer, I write at least 50 to 75 pieces of music a year. We want to make modern Pop, but I’m trying to keep the guitar alive in music. I’m not turning away from the electronic side of music, but I want the listener to say that there’s a lot of interesting guitar stuff happening.
AY: He will send me two to three pieces of music a week sometimes that he thinks I might be able to work with. When I have some down time at work, I’ll take 15 minutes and listen to it. [Singles] “Small Doses” we wrote in a week and “Vivid” was fast too. “Shiny Things” took about a month – there was something about it I didn’t like and I finally worked out the kinks. It just depends.
BT: I can’t not work on music.
AY: I cull it. He’ll send it to me and if I think it fits our sound, I’ll write something to it.
BT: We just want to release singles for a while. We’re not going to think about making an album – it’s just so overwhelming. Let’s just make good songs – if it takes two or three months to make good songs, so be it. Maybe at the end of the year we’ll have enough songs for a proper record, but there’s no logistical reason to release a whole bunch of music at one time. In fact, it’s counterproductive in that it overwhelms listeners. Now, they’d rather be fed a little at a time. We want to do it in a process. We do social media on each song release and now we have followers as far away as Portugal.
Birmingham Stages: You mentioned social media and the way modern listeners consume music. How do you feel about the current climate of the industry?
BT: In the music business you traded off one bad situation for another bad situation. In the ’70s, the bad situation was only a select few could even make a record because of the technology and the costs involved. They had a huge market and not a lot of product. Now there’s 100 times as much product divided among the same amount of listeners. The playing field is level but you still have to work as hard – or harder – on your promotion as you do your music.
Birmingham Stages: With your engineering and producing skills, you have the ability to take a song from inception to release. That’s an advantage that many artists don’t have.
BT: It would cost $2,000 – $3,000 per song to do what we do for ourselves.
AY: We can do two to three songs per month and do a video ourselves. On our next video, we’re working with a filmmaker. We don’t want to just stay in the same thing.
Space Of A Day will perform at Daniel Day Gallery on Friday, March 16. Tickets to the 8:30 p.m. show are $10. Daniel Day Gallery is located at 3025 6th Avenue South. For more information, visit www.spaceofaday.com or contact the gallery at (205) 731-9420.