Get To Know The Upper Valley Indie Groove Rock Band 'Of Conscious Mind'May 12, 2023 11:06AM ● By Rose Terami
We asked the band to give us a little backstory about how they came together, who they are, and what they’re all about.
Q: How did Of Conscious Mind begin and when? Any origin story?
A: We formed from the pieces of many different projects we all had been working on. Mathe and Beth began a band called When Signals Fail with another drummer and bassist back in 2019. We only had one single release with WSF. We lost our drummer and bassist to other projects but our former bassist, Sean Dollar, agreed to stay on long enough to finish recording our first release, a three-song demo, back in October 2021. Sean introduced us to Kenny, who he met at an open mic. Kenny (aka “Silent K”) actually came down to meet us at the Underground recording studio in Randolph, Vermont, when we were finishing up recording the demo. He lives walking distance from the studio, so it was a convenient connection to make, and his eclectic bass lines and commitment to the project had us sold from the start. Kenny currently also plays drums with the band Wool. As his nickname denotes, Kenny is the silent type, so we love to make him sing on occasion.
We didn’t have a drummer for the 2021 demo release, but Vincent Freeman, owner and sound engineer at the Underground, recommended a studio musician he had worked with extensively, Titien Tolbert. Titien was and is still in many other projects, including Coquette and the Nailers. He rehearsed with us three times—he actually got a flat tire on his way to our first practice but persevered nonetheless! The demo was released in December 2021 and we began gigging throughout the Upper Valley. Titien joined us for a handful of gigs in 2022, though we did play with a few other drummers including Paul Picard (My Last Mile and the Robyn V Group), Alex Abraham (HAMCrafted), and Vincent Freeman (the Party Crashers and as mentioned, owner of the Underground recording studio). We kept calling Titien for gigs and he kept coming out and not getting too sick of us (ha!). He agreed to stay on for our upcoming single (title TBA) and five-song EP release titled Spellwords, scheduled to release this summer. He recorded drums and percussion for Spellwords and we can officially say he has become an essential element of the OCM groove.
We met Scottie at an open mic in South Royalton initially. He was and is still a wind player for the band Wool playing harmonica, alto and tenor sax, and flute. Scottie would come up and jam with us at various open mics including Whaleback Mountain in Enfield (which we hosted), Crossroads in South Royalton, as well as the Forge and One Main (now Kuya’s at One Main) in Randolph, Vermont. Scottie just seemed to fit from the beginning and his sound took OCM to another level of grooviness that we just couldn’t deny. Also, Scottie is an incredibly kind human. His indefatigable joyful spirit keeps us going when life gets heavy.
Q: Where did the name Of Conscious Mind come from?
A: Mathe and Beth came up with the name. When we parted ways with When Signals Fail, we decided we needed to get a more positive outlook on life and invest more in our community. Beth was studying various forms of meditation at the time and reading the Bhagavad Gita. We were inspired to begin considering life and our community on a grander scale. We began asking questions about ourselves and our past decisions, ultimately leading us to ponder what our place in the universe really could be. How could we use our love of music to contribute to society in a positive way?
Matt grew up in Rutland, Vermont, in generational poverty. He’ll be the first to confess that he didn’t always make the best decisions in his youth and made the move out of Rutland to start fresh in the Upper Valley. When he and Beth met, he was taking classes at the community college where she was working. He was a single dad supporting his nine-year-old son, whom he had full-time custody of while he was going to school. He was trying to get out of the fast-food industry that he had spent over 10 years in, and was just recently out of homelessness, having stayed several months at the Haven. At the time, he had also just been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. When they met, he was living at Spencer Square in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Beth was a single mom working at River Valley Community College, a year out of separating from her daughter’s father. Beth would always bring a guitar to work and play on the Lebanon green during her lunch breaks for tips when the weather was nice enough. Matt asked her about the guitar one day and they ended up discovering a mutual love for music. It blossomed from there, and a year later, they had written their first song together, “Rise Above,” which was released in 2021 on OCM’s self-titled demo.
They have grown so much over the six years they have been together building the music and finding their place. The name implies that we are all of one consciousness—every one of us. And we should seek to be as present and authentic as possible in our relationships and interactions with others. The name Of Conscious Mind implies a journey toward self-awareness that spans the cosmos, coupled with a knowingness that we are all part of the same cosmic consciousness.
Q: What kind of music do you make and why? What instruments do you use?
A: We like to call it indie groove rock. The “groove” element was actually a term coined by Jamie Gage, who interviewed us in January 2022 during our Live from the Underground performance following our 2021 demo release. Jamie used the term “groove-tinged rhythms” in the press release, and it stuck.
Q: How can people listen to your music?
A: We are across all platforms: Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, etc. But we really love for folks to check us out and follow us on Bandcamp. That’s where we make most of our announcements first, and the Bandcamp platform allows us to connect with fans in a more direct way (email). Soon, Bandcamp will list all of our upcoming shows. Right now, we have download links to our music, a merch store, and an option to be added to our mailing list.
The best place to stay in the loop with our live performances is Facebook and/or Instagram. We will be playing the Fourth of July event on the Hanover Green this year (we did it last year and they have invited us back—so much fun!). We also will be at the Strawberry Festival at Wellwood Orchards again this year. We are also playing at the first annual Rumney Rocks Music Festival this coming August. The Mathe and Beth duo plays regularly at Silo Distillery in Windsor, and we also have the occasional show at Tavern on the Square in Claremont, New Hampshire. We will be playing two decade-themed performances for the Vermont Lake Monsters in Burlington this year, as well as a few appearances at the Nashua Country Club and Campton Mountain.
We will also be playing at several farmers’ markets including Lebanon, Norwich, Woodstock, and Randolph. Beth has a monthly solo residency at Kuya’s at One Main in Randolph. We will also soon be unveiling a new website as part of the promotion leading up to our EP release.
Q: When is your next release?
A: We have not settled on a date for the EP release, but we are currently planning a single release (that will be a song off of the EP) on June 21. We just wrapped up in the studio!
Q: What inspires you to create music, and where do your ideas come from?
A: Generally, Matt will follow Beth around the house playing a new guitar riff he’s come up with for weeks until she eventually hears a vocal melody. From there she’ll eventually get to writing lyrics. Sometimes the lyrics are brand new, inspired by processing personal growth, events and happenings in our lives, or reflection on the cosmic, connected nature of humanity. Sometimes they are leftover lyrics from lyric books she started writing in college that just happen to work with the time signature and flow of the music that Matt writes. The lyrics are almost always cathartic in some way. Writing music has helped us process a lot of underlying emotions, shed layers of ourselves that are no longer serving us, and grow closer as partners and as a band.
Once we have the main shell of a song figured out, we will bring it to the rest of the band to flesh out. Everyone writes their own parts, and it is always so amazing to hear a song come together. We are so fortunate to work with some really excellent musicians!
Matt probably has a backlog of about 50-plus songs in various stages of completion that still need lyrics or have partial lyrics. So, we won’t be out of work anytime soon!
Q: What Spotify playlist are you working on?
A: Grow Local Music (GLM) is a Spotify playlist featuring artists based in the twin states of Vermont and New Hampshire. The playlist came about recently when we realized how much we enjoyed working with the Underground recording studio and getting the opportunity to meet so many inspiring musicians who were playing the same self-promotion game we were playing (which isn’t an easy one!). Beth realized that while we were familiar with the artists themselves, it was tough to remember and find the time to actually listen to their music regularly! So we thought, why not put them all in one place? The Upper Valley has long been a premier venue for supporting local arts and the playlist has really taken off. We now have over 13 hours of local music on the playlist and several monthly listeners. New music is added every week and we stay up to date on new releases from artists currently on the list and try to help promote them on social media. The only requirement to get tracks on the list is that the artist is Vermont or New Hampshire based and they have at least one track on Spotify (each artist can have up to three tracks on the main GLM playlist). If an artist needs help distributing their music to get it on Spotify, we also offer advice on the platforms we have used or refer them to some of the professional connections we have made. Of course, there are three OCM tracks on the main list as well, which will be replaced with tracks off of the new EP once it is released.
There are a few genre-based Spotify playlists that fall under the GLM title as well, all Vermont and New Hampshire artists, featuring specific genres such as country/folk (GLM ~ Northern Roots), rock/alternative (GLM~ Heavy Snowfall), and female artists (GLM ~ Lady Slippers) to name a few. There is also one with no explicit content called GLM ~ Twin State Workday, which is great for listening to at work. To see all the active GLM playlists, folks can follow @bethsvahnmon on Spotify.
Q: What's coming up next for Of Conscious Mind?
A: We plan on producing a music video following our single release next month! It will be pricey though, so if we get enough supporters on Bandcamp to subscribe to us, we may be able to pull it off. Please consider supporting us, www.ofconsciousmind.com!
Q: What do you love most about being in a band? What are you looking forward to?
A: The comradery and the relationships made, for sure. The music is therapy but the amazing people we have met because of music is why we do it. We are looking forward to gaining more traction in the Upper Valley and possibly expanding our reach to other areas in the Northeast.
Q: Is there anything else you want people to know?
A: Matt and Beth also run a production company making merch for underground artists, and we partner with other production and booking agencies in the area to assist with social media marketing and design. We are also all working “real” jobs in addition to making music in order to pay the bills. We are so thankful to have many family and friends who support us and encourage us to continue making music that we can share with the world.