Typically in March while my husband and sons start to watch March Madness Basketball, I compile a playlist that I call “Mama’s March Madness Mix” and then listen to it all year ’round. I am well aware that I need a good pick-me-up to keep upbeat and happy until the snow melts and open windows allow fresh air in the house again. I highly recommend the Hope and Justin Band for anyone that is looking for inspiring new music to fill their playlist. This husband-and-wife duo will keep you rocking as you embrace your vocation. I have been blessed to know this couple for over twenty years and I promise their folk-inspired music will not let you down! The band recently released their fourth album, Echo. Below is an interview with the main vocalist, and awe-inspiring woman, Hope Schneir.
Tell me a little about yourself.
I’m 37, a mother of 8 children, and my husband Justin and I make our home in sunny SoCal. I grew up in Vermont and met Justin at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio at the ripe age of 18. We sometimes forget to feed our chickens but usually remember to feed our kids.
What is like to produce music with your husband?
It’s so so fun, most of the time! Writing and recording is our favorite thing to do together, but like any worthwhile endeavor, it’s a labor of love. We work closely with our sound engineer Jeff Evans and other members of our band/guest musicians to craft a sound that I’m pretty proud of. Justin has such a great ear for chord structures and mixing. He’s not afraid to go a little outside the box, which I love, and he hears things I don’t, like a Tom Petty drum beat here or a sweet baseline there. I’ve heard that the best final product is accomplished through collaboration, and I find that to be 100% true with our music.
How have your children impacted your musical career?
Mostly, they’ve kept me humble and not terribly ambitious. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to continue to explore music as an adult, but my days are spent much like any other mother’s: trying to meet the varied needs of each family member, keep the house rolling, appear in public without food in my hair, and begging every day for the grace to find Jesus in the ordinary, which is where he always is. Many great musicians died this past year, and it’s made me reflect on our music and our own inevitable passing. While Justin and I put a lot of passion into our albums, our children are where we will have the greatest impact, and leave the greatest “echo.” Where it’s at, or “the big time,” is really “the small time;” the little ways we love our family is how we will change the world. The title track of our new album, Echo, is about this idea, and the cover art reflects this as well.
How has your Catholic Faith impacted your music?
Insofar that it has impacted every single cell of my body, it has impacted our music tremendously! We don’t usually write overtly Christian songs; I’m more interested in the poetry of life, the universal human struggles, joys, sorrows, and how music can be an expression of these things. I love that music is something that unifies people from different political and religious affiliations and reminds us of our commonality. More and more I believe in the importance of beauty in this world, whether it is a beautiful meal or flowers on a table, or a smile when you are tired.
Beauty gives us a glimmer of God, the Ultimate Beauty, and sets our hearts on fire with longing for Him. It’s our greatest hope that our music can be a drop in the ocean of beauty on this earth that points to God and be a salve to some weary heart, sojourning through this life, whether in hardship or in joy. Whatever you do that is beautiful, friends, continue to do it! Even if it is just for your own soul. Paint pictures even if no one else sees them, put on makeup even when you stay at home. By participating in creativity and beauty, we touch the finger of God.
Where do you get your inspiration for your music?
May I be so bold as to say the Holy Spirit? Or at least that’s what I hope!! I think all good inspiration is really from Him, and all good art is a reflection of the Eternal Beauty. Once I heard someone call music “the language of longing,” and that’s always stuck with me. Now I hear it in every song, regardless of the artist. An attempt, a cry for God, the struggle of humanity which longs for what is beyond them … this longing transcends lyrics, and it’s there if you listen for it.
The few times I’ve “tried” to write a song, it’s usually horrible. I have to let go and see songwriting as a gift that I am not in control of. The best songs come to me when I’m not looking for them; a friend will say something that sticks with me, or a homily will touch me, or an experience will move me to find a melody that suits it.
Can you tell us about your new album?
We are pretty stoked on our new album Echo; it just released this month! Remember the band “Better than Ezra”? Their drummer, Michael Jerome, joined us in the studio, as well as Larissa Fedoryka from Scythian. For the first time we worked with renowned folk genius Ryan Freeland, and I think he was able to make this album really shine. You’ll hear some upbeat mandolin-driven folk-pop, some sweet acoustic ballads, and even some good old-fashioned bluegrass.
Can you share one of your favorite musical performances you have done?
We don’t tour, and we gig less often than your typical band full of single people. We were honored to be invited to play on EWTN, at the Appaloosa Festival in VA, and various Catholic Undergrounds and Catholic festivals and folk festivals. We occasionally travel if it works for us, but most of the time we stay close to home and play locally when the season allows. Twice we have hosted a folk festival called “Barnyard Folk Fest,” on our property. The first was in 2013, and it was such a memorable night, mostly because of so many friends and fellow musicians came and played throughout the day, and the community, outdoors, and music felt like a slice of heaven. Our second Barnyard Folk Fest happened this past summer, and we raised enough money through the festival to pay off our fiddler’s student loans so he could enter the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal debt-free! Amazing volunteers flew in, drove in, and crawled out, (kidding), and it was such a community effort that we were blown away by all the love. BFF is like the Olympics; next one is in 2021!
What is the best way to learn about Hope and Justin?
Check out our website, HopeAndJustin.com, and get on our mailing list! You can listen to our music here and buy hard copies of our albums directly from us. We are also on Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify. And of course, we can connect on Facebook!
Sending much love to all of your readers, and thanks again, Emily, for the opportunity to interview with you! Totus Tuus!
Copyright 2018 Emily Jaminet