By Sonia Schnee | Posted Sunday, April 15, 2018
Earlier this year, urban folk fiddle/guitar duo Brian Moyer and Lex Headley, known as Neville's Quarter, released a new single entitled "This Little Old Home." While currently based in North Carolina, both artists have NJ roots. Check out our interview with Brian and Lex below to learn about their travels, musical style, and the inspiration behind some of their songs.
What's your name, where are you from, where are you based now?
Brian Moyer: I grew up in Medford, NJ in the pine barrens and went to college at Montclair State University where I first started playing guitar at the age of 20. In 2014, I moved to Chapel Hill, NC. I was drawn to NC for many reasons, specifically for the lower cost of living, the beautiful weather, and for the music-friendly culture there. The music scene in Chapel Hill was exactly what I needed to revitalize my own music. I still am deeply tied to New Jersey. I visit friends and family there as often as I can and try to play there as often as possible.
Lex Headley: My tag for the ‘where are you from’ question is usually “Hi, I’m Lex from Lexington, MA.” I moved to New Jersey in 2005, however, and then back to Massachusetts, and from there bounced around New York during my college years. So I haven’t lived in Lexington, MA for over a decade now. My Master's degree in Nutrition from Columbia University took me to the University of North Carolina where I live now. I moved to Chapel Hill to start a path to obtain a Ph.D. in Nutrition, but then I met Brian and started being more involved in music. It took me into a reawakening of how important music performance and composing is to me.
Tell us about your music. How would you describe your sound? Where do you record? Who are your influences, musically?
We most often hear from people that Brian sounds like Cat Stevens. Lex has a classically-trained voice but has geared herself into more of a folk style of singing. We try hard to make each song sound a little different, but when asked, we like to say that we are Urban Folk music. Right now we are working on fine tuning our weekly live show, and we currently do all our recordings at home. We are releasing one single at a time, on a monthly basis. As far as influences go, we obsess over Punch Brothers music, but our writing has been deeply influenced Bob Dylan, Sara Bareilles, and Old Time & Bluegrass Tunes. As far as inspiration goes, Brian leads a songwriter's circle in Carrboro, NC which is sponsored by the NC Songwriters Co-op. We have found that many of our current goals and music ideals have been shaped and influenced by the people and music of that songwriter's circle.
What's the meaning or inspiration behind some of your songs? How do you want people to feel when they listen to your music?
To give a very specific example, Brian has written a song called "It's A New Day" after attending a convocation speech for his work as a Teacher Assistant at a local elementary school. The song is meant to reflect what the convocation was about; putting courage in others and believing in one another. The song came very easily because it is a song that a lot of our music, as Neville’s Quarter, also represents. A good portion of our songs is about finding courage, chasing your dreams, and getting people inspired. You’ll even find inspiration for gardening and housekeeping!
We have one song that is very important to us called “This Little Old Home,” written about the house that Lex’s parents in New Jersey have recently inherited. It is situated on many acres of farmland in the middle of suburbia New Jersey. Originally, the land had a beautiful orchard of apple trees, grapes, raspberries, and a huge lush flower garden. The farm was full of life with buzzing beehives and crowing chickens at one point. This family home and the garden still stands today, but it is all beginning to fall apart due to relentless aging and an inability to maintain the grounds. The song is about bringing it back to its glory days, back to how it was when the grounds were maintained and so full of life. The main farm is still operational and we love to take walks around the grounds when we visit. So, you’ll find a lot of songs like these from us. We enjoy the thought that we may be giving light and hope to those who might need it most through our music.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started with music? What's been your personal journey? Are there any artists, bands, or producers who you'd love to collaborate with one day?
Lex: I have been studying music since my mother (and mother’s students) permitted me to stay-in on lessons, cradled in a bassinet by the piano. I was playing Bach Minuets on the piano by Kindergarten, started violin lessons by 4th Grade, and joined an opera company in high school. Theatre and music have been an important recreational activity throughout my life, and it brought me to audition as a vocal performance student at Syracuse University in 2007. I will cherish those years I had as a music student there, at the Setnor School of Music, forever and ever. The knowledge I gained there, of stage performance, music theory, and ear training have proved to be incredibly helpful as a songwriter today. I am a bit ashamed to admit that I dropped out of my music program in 2009 to pursue a career in health sciences. Of course, I didn’t have it in me to stop the private voice lessons or piano lessons while still in college, but it did take me in an entirely different direction. It has been quite a journey for me to return to music as a career choice, but I am so relieved to return to it. Feeling now more prepared and matured to face its challenges, I am giving it everything I’ve got. Ironically, I am finding ways to combine both my Nutrition degree and music. Through my podcast Keeping the Triangle In Tune, for example, I am aiming to ultimately start an educational program for kids incorporating music full of nutrition lessons.
Brian: I have always had a love for music and lyrics; though perhaps more for lyrics than the music, at first. I was critically obsessed with rap and hip hop music growing up and then in my late teens and early twenties, I started opening up and listening to other genres of music. When I started listening to other music, I was kind of surprised by how much I already knew because of the amount of sampling that Hip Hop and Rap uses. In college, I learned how to play the guitar so I could start putting lyrics to music. That also was when I started down the Bob Dylan rabbit hole that has essentially guided me to the wide spectrum of music genres that I listen to today.
Both: We would both ecstatically jump the stratosphere if Billy Strings ever appeared to lay down some guitar licks to some Neville’s Quarter tunes. We are a huge fan of his music and have been following him on YouTube. Also, as mentioned above, we are obsessed with the Punch Brothers band, which also has brought us to never miss a Live From Here show. So, naturally, it goes without saying that we dream of one day collaborating with Chris Thile and the Live From Here band. We already are enjoying collaboration with all our musical friends here in Chapel Hill though; we envision building our own scene here that people talk about, ultimately to bring more people together for collaboration.
What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone who wants to follow a similar passion, or is maybe facing obstacles similar to what you've faced?
Making a music career is a hustle for sure… one can’t ever be afraid to step up to the plate and just make it a priority to actually do what it takes. A person needs to send 20 e-mails to get one or two responses; welcome the rejections, at least the attempt was made! Just contact them again a month or two later and keep hustling. Find open-mic and music circles. Jam with people everywhere you can, make music with other people at least once a week. Find others to play music with, in whatever way you can. Musicians need these types of interactions; it will widen the perspective of your music-world and improve your performance ability.
What's next on the horizon for you? Do you have any shows coming up? Plans for your next album?
We have a busy summer ahead of us. We are mainly performing around North Carolina at a bunch of the local venues, cafes, festivals, etc... We will be spending some time in New Jersey and Cape Cod, MA this summer and hope to line up a gig or two while we are there. Our plan for recording plan is to continue to do our home studio recordings. We’re saving all our money from live performance to put out an official album in the next year. So if you know anywhere we should be booking in NJ and NC let us know! Send us an email here: NevillesQuarter@gmail.com
Finally, how can people find you online?
The first place you should go is our website www.NevillesQuarter.com and sign up for e-mail alerts. The other option is to follow us on Facebook. We do a Facebook Live show every Wednesday at 6pm where we perform a few of our tunes and invite a guest to join us. Those are the places we are most active, but you can also find us by searching @NevillesQuarter on Twitter, Neville’s Quarter on YouTube, or nevillesquarter on Instagram.