On an overcast afternoon in western North Carolina, hundreds of people gathered on the Hillside Stage at this year's MerleFest Festival. Some patrons of the festival knew exactly what was about to happen, but for others it would be an unexpected performance to say the least. Within moments of taking the stage, Scythian had every member of the audience dancing and jumping to the beat of their Celtic music. For the duration of the performance, it became apparent that Scythian thrives on getting engaged with their audience and maintaining that connection from start to finish. Including instruments like the fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and even an accordion, Scythian provides an experience for music listeners that you can't resist being a part of.
Prior to greeting old and new fans alike at the conclusion of their performance, Scythian announced they would be returning to North Carolina in order to play at Lincoln Theatre on May 23. Lead singer Danylo Fedoryka, spoke with The Triangle Beat recently about their Merlefest experience and their upcoming show in Raleigh.
The Triangle Beat: Scythian has a unique blend of musical influences in the sound they create. How or where did that originate?
Daniel: We all shared in a love for Irish music and our parents are from the Ukraine, though we all grew up in the Shenandoah Valley. Once we started making music, our goal was to start including all aspects of our upbringing. It seems perfect for our goal in playing music and hopefully our fans continue to enjoy it. For us it has always been about being who we want to be as musicians and part of that is never trying to play into a certain genre. We are not bluegrass, we are not rock, we include elements of a lot of genres but you can’t really label us one genre.
TTB: What brought Scythian together?
Dan: It all started with Joe and Alex living together out of college. We attended Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio and together we made up the founding members of the band. Ben-David’s dad taught at the same school as my parents, so we met him through our parents. Tim, our newest band member, also attended the same school that we did. My sister is in the process of finishing up her doctoral degree and will be joining us as a member of the band when that is complete. Since college though, we've all settled in Alexandria, VA just outside of D.C., which seems to be a great fit for all members of the band.
TTB: You’re in your 10th year as a band, what has changed the most for Scythian during those 10 years?
Dan: It really takes a while to find out what your sound is. For us, we started as street performers in college and certainly didn’t envision being a full time band and doing so without a record label. It is always a work in progress, but it is the spirit of our shows that has allowed us to continue to produce things we are proud of. It has been a natural evolution over time, that we intentionally took our time with. Now we are in a position that we can share what we want with our listeners.
TTB: Building off of those years together, where does the band envision going in the future?
Dan: Most directly we are taking fans on a 10 year reunion trip to Ireland. It is going to be really special for us to go out with our fans on a bus as we perform all over Ireland, but we also get to be tourists with our fans as well. We will spend most of our time on the West Coast, but we are so excited for the trip. 10 years has been a big deal for us.
TTB: You’ve now played at Merlefest several times, what has that experience been like over the years?
Dan: Having played Merlefest several times now, we have been able to witness the growth of the experience through our music and the other performers. This past year, the dance tent was off the chain. To summarize that experience there was body surfing bluegrass at the dance tent. There were also twice as many performers for the midnight show. Surprise appearances really made a difference and going into this year there was a lot bigger interest from musicians, wanting to be a part of the whole experience. Bluegrass Situation co-hosted and that certainly helped to get a lot of bands to join in the action. That experience was quite intense to have so many talented musicians on one stage. So it is nice to see the festival evolve and to be a part of that experience.
TTB:Can you tell me what producing Jump at the Sun was like and who does most of the writing for the band?
Dan: Jump at the Sun is our newest album and it encompasses what we feel is a true representation of what we want to sound like. It pre-released at Merlefest and was well received from the crowd there. As an album, it incorporates all elements of our unique sound and we wanted it to represent the energy you'd experience from one of our live shows. Typically I write some of our music, but my brother is the main writer for the band. Something unique about Jump at the Sun, Ben-David Warner, our banjo player, wrote 3 songs for this album and we are really excited to bring this all together on the album.
Dan: We've actually played a couple of times in Raleigh, we originally played at the Berkley Café and this past year we hosted the IMBA festival dance tent. For the people who catch our show, we are constantly switching instruments throughout our show and so it really is a testament to the musical talents of our band members. We want to engage our fans and get people to start dancing. Our main goal is to get fans to forget about their worries for a short amount of time and just enjoy good music. We are also excited to have the Moore Brothers opening for us. We met them at Merlefest when they were 11, 14, 16 years old and they completely blew us away. They are awesome young musicians featuring a mandolin, bass, and guitar player that you don’t want to miss.
More information about Scythian, upcoming tour dates, and the 10 year reunion trip to Ireland can be found by visiting the Scythian website. Scythian is made up of Danylo and Alexander Fedoryka, Josef Crosby, Ben-David Warner, and Tim Hepburn. Scythian and the Moore Brothers will be taking the stage this Friday night at Lincoln Theatre. Doors are set to open at 8pm and the show starts at 9pm. The show is open to all ages and tickets can be purchased by going on the Lincoln Theatre website.