By Bethany Stobbe
If you want to know what’s shaped my musical life and life in general, this story is for you! From fears to freedom, this is how I got here.
Surprisingly enough, I wasn’t born in America or Canada. Nope, I was born in a town called Naples in Italy. Whaaaat? Oooooh yeah! My dad was on active duty in the Navy, so both my brother and I were born overseas. Pretty cool right? I know you’re dying to know, but no, I don’t speak Italian nor do I have any citizenship there, sadly. When I was still a baby, my family moved back to The States so I spent the first 21 years of my life in Oregon.
As a kid, I watched a lot of musicals, Oklahoma! (feel free to judge) was my favorite. I had every song memorized and often performed the entirety of the set to my family, whether they wanted to hear it or not. Ah, to have a complete lack of shame like a child. When I entered grade school, I joined the concert choir as an elective and stayed with it every year of school. I loved singing, but I also loved that I was basically anonymous and just part of the crowd in the choir. Me auditioning for solos never happened, god forbid I tank and get made fun of from my peers. I was happy just singing quietly and blending in, or at least I told myself I was.
While in choir
Every year we had an end-of-the-year show called MayFest which was more of a talent show that everyone had to audition for. In my junior year, I shockingly decided I wanted to audition for it with a friend of mine, Jessica. We debated doing “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey (I know, it’s so overdone). Ultimately though, we decided to do “Anyone Else But You” by The Moldy Peaches. The movie “Juno” had come out recently, so everyone was on the indie-rock hype train so it made sense to ride that wave. Our teacher loved it (shockingly, because she was not my biggest fan) and put us as the very last solo act of the night, before the final performance of “Somebody To Love” by Queen with the whole choir.
I was so nervous as I walked from the back of the stage at the left, all the way to the very edge of stage right where our mics were set up. I could feel my heart pounding in my throat and my blood pressure dropped about 20 points. We started singing and honestly, the rest is a total blur. If it wasn’t for my family recording the whole thing, I would have thought I dreamt it up. It still doesn’t seem real that I did it. To my shock and surprise, when we finished we received a standing ovation from everyone in the crowd. It felt unlike anything I’d ever felt before to have a thousand people clapping and cheering over something myself and a friend did. Although it was an amazing experience, I left high school after that year and never gave myself another opportunity to sing publically.
The comment that always stuck around
I say my music teacher wasn’t my biggest fan but I wasn’t the best student. I did the bare minimum and often refused to participate in anything that required me to sing alone or in front of my peers. In my senior year of high school, I decided to leave before the end of the year to attend a local college. On my last day of school, I had to have each one of my teachers sign off on a paper excusing me from further classes. The final teacher I spoke to was, you guessed it, my music teacher. I will never forget what she said to me when I asked her to sign my paper. She looked at me, grabbed my paper and said “well, good luck with THAT” as she signed off.
To this day, I have never forgotten the tone in her voice. The tone that said to me “you’ll never make it”. It was like a dagger in my heart. Looking back, I don’t fault her for what she said. It could have been worse and it actually gave me fuel to do the best I could in college. I graduated with straight A’s, which I definitely didn’t do in grade school. Still, I never believed my singing would amount to anything after hearing that. After that last day of high school, I never participated in anything to do with singing again.
What about the rest of the band?
I met Trevor the month before I graduated from college in 2013. We hit it off over our mutual love of music, cold weather, and rock star fashion. Needless to say, many of our conversations involved music and talk of our favorite bands. But unfortunately, all we could do was talk, as we lived over 300 miles apart. I lived in Portland, OR and him in Vancouver, BC. After a few months of chatting back and forth, we knew we had to meet in person, it just felt right. So I bought a plane ticket up north, stayed for 10 days and fell in love with everything around me. Canada, the people, the beautiful landscape, and best of all, Trevor.
I met Wade, Trevor’s long time best friend, the first week I was visiting Canada. I had heard many glorious stories about him from Trevor. Essentially I knew going in that it was a 2 for 1 deal with them. To this day, I still lovingly refer to him as Trevor’s second wife. The first conversation I ever had with Wade went like this:
*Wade walks in the room*
Bethany: “Hold on Wade, I’m going to kick your @$$ in a minute”
Wade: “Get off my man, you Harpie!”
And that was that. We spent the rest of the night hanging out in a tree fort (because we were super mature adults) and quickly became the trio we are now.
Our jam sessions
I remember the first time I sang in front of Trevor and Wade. I made them turn down my mic so low that even when I would belt it, they couldn’t hear me through the speakers or over the music. When Trevor tried to turn my mic up even when it was on a song I knew really well (“Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard), I freaked out. I’ve shared about my struggles with singing in other posts, but it wasn’t just a fear of singing for strangers. I didn’t even want my own family or best friends to hear me. I seriously went on like this for about 2 years.
Recently, I finally started to give myself permission to sing and turn my mic up. Trevor and Wade have both been so encouraging and patient with me. It still took several months for me to really come out of my shell. I’d say it’s only been in about the last 2-3 months that I’ve really let it all out.
Why didn’t I start sooner?
I ask myself all the time why didn’t I start sooner? Why didn’t I push myself to get lessons or practice more so I could feel confident? I honestly don’t know, but I can’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t the right time before. I don’t know if I would have taken it so seriously or if it would have meant as much. Either way, I’m glad I am where I am now and I’m looking forward to continuing work on my vocals and our sound.
I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else. Both Trevor and Wade are my best friends, and there’s never a dull moment when we’re all together. It’s now been a few years since we’ve been playing together, and we made our band official late last year with our first release, “My Affliction”, followed by “Never Getting In” in January. I know in my heart that us making music together is meant to be.