For six years, Stereo RV has been a fixture on the Portland music scene, but lead singer Myra Gleason and vocal percussionist and husband Gabe Gleason have been performing for even longer together, ever since their paths crossed on the stage at “Portland Teen Idol.”
The duo, which hails from Keizer and Portland, respectively, recently released their debut EP, “Human,” and will be performing live at our TEDx Salem event. We recently caught up with Myra who spoke to us about the group, their inspirations and their hopes for their TEDxSalem appearance.
TEDxSalem: Talk a little bit about the name – You both chose to live in an RV for some years. What was that experience like?
Myra Gleason: Well, up until last December, we were living in an RV. The experience… [laughs]
We bought the RV three years ago, so that we could downsize our life, that we would have more money available for opportunity should it come with music, because we were living in Portland at the time and Portland it was just so expensive. So the RV was really the best way that we could go to save funds and pursue music.
So that’s evidently where our name came from… Stereo is dual, you have your left and your right, and we’re married, so we thought that fit in as a duo, and then the RV, because that’s where we lived for three years, and that’s where all the songs on our “Human” EP were created. But right now we are not living in the RV. I get to live in a fine townhouse with my mother. So…
TxS: Where’s the best place to camp out?
Myra: Uh, gosh, somebody’s driveway? [laughs] We never got to take her camping, to be honest with you, because we lived in her, and so she was just always stuck on a pad in one of the Portland parks, so… We met a lot of interesting people, though.
TxS: Now you say “her…” Does this RV have a name?
Myra: Yeah, her name’s Beatrice. She’s a beast, that’s why her name is Beatrice.
TxS: Talk a little about how your partnership with Gabe formed. On your web site it says you met at a singing competition.
Myra: I was a special guest performer that sang during the judges’ deliberation, and Gabe was also a special performer that did some beatboxing with another artist. I saw the beatboxing and the other person playing, so it was quite cool cause I’d never seen anything like that, and I wanted to bring Gabe in for beatboxing on one of my songs, which we were solo artists at the time, so I had Gabe come in, and we put some beatboxing down on some of the songs I was doing at the time, and that led to him giving me guitar lessons, and us starting to write together, and then we did Salem’s Got Talent back in 2011, and we got fourth place on that, and so that was the first take that we did as a duo, to see if we had the chemistry that it needed to be on stage.
Could we make this as a duo, could we do this as a working relationship? And from there we just liked each other and here we are, married. [Laughs]
TxS: So it sounds like he won you over with his beatboxing.
Myra: Yeah, that was the start of it, and he was really, really funny with it, so humor and beatboxing got me.
TxS: …must be some beatboxing.
Myra: [Laughs] Yeah.
TxS: For your song, “Human,” you say that a lot of your inspiration comes from your time spent working with foster children. Tell us about that experience and how it informs the song.
Myra: For me, we build this relationship, and at first, there’s nothing there. It’s like, “Okay, here’s another adult that’s forced to come and work with me, because my case worker says so, or because I’m in this program,” and the foundation for any type of change is trust, and relationship building. Once I start working with these individuals, you start to find commonalities with them within our relationship, and start to learn about trust. And in that trust they told me their story.
They’ve cried in my car, they’ve explained to me what really affects them and a lot of it, is… One girl just broke down crying, because she wanted to be loved, and she doesn’t care who it’s by, as long as somebody loves her. I had another gal who self-harmed, and so she has all of these scars on her arms, and to get her to not wear a long-sleeved shirt in 90-degree weather was a big vulnerability for her to be exposed, to have those realistic scars exposed, and the emotional ones. So, the first line of “Human” is “I’ve got scars / That show me just where my past has been.” It’s from a constant three years of telling her those scars don’t define you, and you don’t have to be afraid of them anymore. Because she had changed so much from who she was. So a lot of it what makes us human?
TxS: Have any of them heard your music? What have they said?
Myra: They have, actually, and the first comment that I got was, “Myra, did you write this for me?” Every single youth that I have come in contact with, they’ve either asked to hear it, want to hear it, they actually talk about the songs that I wrote, and it inspired a lot of them to actually start writing, and develop that creative, musical side of them. And a lot of them start with rap songs, but it’s been a real great pleasure to watch how music is working within foster care. It’s really cool, it’s really cool to be able to experience that with them, and say, “Yes I did write that for you guys, so you guys could have a voice.” And that encourages them to say, “What else is in my voice?”
TxS: Heading into our new TEDxSalem event, how do you think Stereo RV fits with the theme, “Through the Looking Glass?”
Myra: Our music is based off stories, of course, looking through the microscope of each person as an individual human, and what makes them their own individual person, and we tend to judge people by stereotypes or by assumptions, or by their circumstances, and being able to find the commonalities within us all. It’s something our music is able to achieve in the sense of through the looking glass, through the eyes of somebody else.
TxS: What about your songs do you think will make them resonate with our audience?
Myra: I think in some way, we’ve all been at that point, where we’ve said, “well, gosh, I’m human. Stop beating me up for mistakes that I’ve made…” I think our songs will resonate with the TED audience because they’re honest, and transparent, and they’re melodically made in a way that can bring inspiration or just anything positive to them as people who are in our community coming to these events to be inspired, to learn something.
TxS: Anything else the TEDx Salem audience should know?
Myra: Well, I think we’re going to… [REDACTED: Hmmm, curious? Join us at TEDxSalem “Through the Looking Glass” on Jan. 6 and find out.]
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TEDxSalem V is an all-day event featuring talks, performances, refreshments, lunch and a swag bag that takes place Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, at the Salem Convention Center. Purchase tickets here. Follow us on Facebook for the most up-to-date news from our community, and check our website regularly for new information. You can also reach us at email@example.com.