Oryx and Crake

Music Features Oryx and Crake
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The first time Ryan Peoples and Rebekah Goode-Peoples met, they were working together as teachers in the same classroom. Through that experience, they developed a relationship that’s become collaborative across disciplines ranging from parenting to their music partnership as Oryx and Crake’s frontcouple. Between their marriage, two kids and current careers, they’re constantly spinning life’s plates—working side-by-side to make it all work. But as they approach their fifth year together, it’s clear music remains the tie that creatively binds them together.

As the two currently are working on their second full-length record, both took some time to discuss their relationship, their music and how the two intersect within their lives.

Paste: Tell us the story of how you met?
Rebekah Goode-Peoples: Like all great romances, it was annoyance at first sight.

I was an anal first-year high school English teacher, and he was a slack special education teacher. For two years, we taught classes together. Our oil-and-water personalities contributed to a rocky first year, but then we started dating and became a powerhouse team. We ganged up on a class of at-risk kids and really turned them around. We were like Stand and Deliver and Dangerous Minds rolled into one.

Later on, we channeled that ability to work together into our relationship and into making music.

Paste: Describe your first date?
Goode-Peoples: We got beers at the Brick Store the first time we hung out. I remember Ryan scanning the beer menu for the beer with the lowest price and the highest alcohol content. I was not impressed.

But then I kept covertly checking him out. Opposites really do attract.

Peoples: It took us a couple of years to go on our first ‘proper date.’ Our courtship generally consisted of hanging out and drinking beer. Our first smooch was quite nice though. After a Spoon show, we kissed in the parking lot of a bar while the rain came down hard. It was nice.

Paste: What was it like when you started making music together?
Peoples: It happened gradually. I had been writing music for a while, but Rebekah never had. She would observe me pulling my hair out trying to write and eventually felt sorry for me and started helping. She is much more natural with words than I am. It liberated me, and I think she got a kick out of it too.

Goode-Peoples: I enjoyed the challenge of a new kind of writing. I’d written creative non-fiction and poetry for a long time, but writing lyrics was a whole new game. But more than that, I loved listening to Ryan sing. I’m pretty sure I fell in love with him the first time he sang Jeff Buckley’s “Lilac Wine” to me. It seemed meant to be. Also, I’m pretty good at seeing talent in people and helping them get to the good stuff—and Ryan has a lot of good stuff.

Paste: Talk about a song that means something special to you as a couple?
Goode-Peoples: Our whole next album. I said when we started making it that it would be the album that determined whether we’d be together forever or get divorced.

Paste: What is the biggest challenge of being married to someone in your band?
Peoples: There’s always that potential that the baggage you’ve picked up through the day is going to affect how the work goes. This is especially true with writing the lyrics. It’s important to be able to let go when you write lyrics and music. That letting go becomes harder when you’re writing with the person you spend all your time with. Rebekah already knows what I’ve been through that day. She knows the kids were a pain in the ass at dinner. If I go play with some friends, it’s easy to let that all go. With Rebekah, it seems untrue to pretend that all that stuff didn’t happen throughout my day… making it harder to get to that creative space.

Goode-Peoples: When the creative process isn’t going well, we can take it out on each other or internalize the self-doubt. Neither is very healthy. Either way, you take it to bed with you in a way that doesn’t happen when you work alone.

Paste: What’s the greatest thing about being married to an artist?
Peoples: The proximity is nice, of course. Access is always there. But beyond that, the stakes feel higher. Not of making it… whatever that means… but of creating something, hopefully something great, together, makes it a whole different thing altogether. With friends, with earlier bands it sometimes felt like we were playing together just for the activity… something to do while we were hanging out anyway. With my partner, it feels like something more important.

Goode-Peoples: Having a friend to swim with.

Paste: How long have you been together?
Goode-Peoples and Peoples: We’re about to celebrate our fifth anniversary.