Arts & CultureMusic

Local indie-folk band The Royal Blue revolves around collaboration



Crafting guitar and piano-led music backed by drums and stand-up bass, The Royal Blue is a local indie-folk band with a long-time passion for music and a dedication to collaboration.

Made up of Matt Buetow on guitar and vocals, Nathan Alef on piano, Derick Thomas on drums and Milo Fultz on stand-up bass, The Royal Blue formed a year ago and has since self-released an extended-play album and played nearly all of the music venues in Eugene, all while balancing busy school and work schedules.

“I don’t remember if we actually started with the intention of forming a band,” said Alef of the band’s establishment last March. “I think it was more like, ‘Let’s get together and play some music,’ and it just kind of happened.”

Buetow and Alef started collaborating after the two met in an audio engineering class two years ago. For one of their projects, Buetow — who had been involved in the music scene in his hometown in Wisconsin and who writes the songs for The Royal Blue — offered one of his songs for the two to work on.

“I’d bring a couple of my songs and then we’d talk about ways that they could change a little bit in instrumentation or kind of get another ear,” Buetow said.

From there, Alef and Buetow began playing with Thomas, Fultz and former member and vocalist Jesselyn Parks, working together on songwriting, instrumentation and the vocal harmonies they have based their music on.

Graduating from the University in 2010 with a minor in music, Buetow has also spent time playing and recording as a solo artist. Alef, Thomas and Fultz are currently second-year students in the music school, playing and recording in multiple other side projects.

Learning to play music at a young age — Alef began learning classical piano at the age of three — the group has found their combined knowledge very helpful to their recording and performances.

“We’re all so well versed in each other’s instruments and harmonic language that we don’t just write our own stuff. It’s a very community-focused effort,” he said of the band’s songwriting process.

Not only do the members utilize each other’s talent and expertise in their respective instruments, but the group has also partnered with other students in the music school to add to their music.  On their self-released EP, “The Legionnaire,” Alef asked a string quartet to contribute a background part for their song “You’re Not Alone.”

“We were given the opportunity just because of our experience at the music school, knowing all of these really amazing musicians who are there to just play as much as they can,” he said. “I think that’s sort of a rare opportunity.”

Another rare opportunity came in the form of self-producing and releasing their first album. Borrowing equipment from friends as well as using some of their own, the band’s six-song album was recorded by Alef and features songs written by Buetow over the years. This method of recording had its pros and cons, according to the band.

“It got drawn out for a while. But it also gave us time to think on things and work with it,” Buetow said.

In the future, The Royal Blue hopes to start work on a full-length album and move to Portland to become a part of a more expansive music scene. Having played with many local bands around Eugene, the group emphasizes the importance of collaboration between bands and hopes to play with local bands in Portland.

“We share shows with other bands and build relationships with other bands and musicians and learn from each other, and … that’s really fun,” Buetow said.

Next up, The Royal Blue is set to play The Granary on April 21 and early in May at Sam Bond’s Garage.


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