High school sweethearts Jillian and Nathaniel make up The Bergamot, an indie rock band based in Brooklyn. The two met in their home state of Indiana and moved to New York together to start their music career adventure, which lead to tours, performing at SXSW and releasing five albums.
Today, they release their music video for their latest single, “Periscope.” Produced by London-based engineer Matt Wiggins, “Periscope” was written by Nathaniel as a love song to Jillian as the couple took a long road trip and traversed across 50 states in 2016. The Bergamot is currently co-producing a full-length documentary also inspired by footage of this trip and the “Periscope” music video includes footage from six of the states over the course of three years. The duo is also set to release a full-length album and go on tour this summer. Here, they talk about their music video, their upcoming album Mayflies and what it takes to be successful partners in music and in life.
AF: Tell me a little bit about your band—are you husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend?
Nathaniel: Jillian and I are high school sweethearts from the heartland. We fell in love in Indiana, got married by my great Uncle and partied in a barn until the wee hours of the morning in South Bend, IN (2013). In the winter of that year we moved to NYC and never looked back. Our single “P.D.R.” began a journey for us that culminated with us traveling to London to make our new record with renowned Producer/Engineer Matt Wiggins. Our newest single “Periscope” is the first release from that journey and we could not be more excited to drop it on Valentines Day.
AF: Where was this music video filmed?
Jillian: It includes six States (HI, CA, MI, IL, TX, OR). The music video was filmed over a three-year period. Some of this footage is from our 50 State – 50,000 mile journey in 2016 filming a documentary called “State of the Unity” set to drop this year. The live footage is from a headlining show in Chicago (at Schubas) and from when we opened up for the X-Ambassadors in Austin, TX.
AF: What made you decide to compile three years worth of footage for the video?
Jillian: The last three years of our lives have been spent living out of suitcases all over the world. We have had amazing experiences and some devastating ones as well. With this new release, we really wanted to capture and share some of those real moments with our fans. In a way we wanted to take them on the road with us to see what it was like out there.
AF: What’s different about your relationship now that you work and play music together?
Nathaniel: We know our jobs, we know our roles, we help each other out and stay out of each other’s way when needed. I grew up working on a farm and Jillian grew up mowing lawns and saving money. Now we own a record label together. We work really hard and are not afraid to ask for help.
AF: What advice do you have for couples who work or create together?
Both: In the beginning, do everything. No matter what the task, just jump in and learn how to solve problems. There will be plenty of them. After a while, you begin to learn your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to admit when you are wrong and if you fucked something up. Ask for forgiveness and help when you need it and sometimes when you don’t. Finally, learn to be strong for each other in times of weakness and never stop loving each other.
AF: Tell me a little bit about the message behind “Periscope.”
Nathaniel: Falling in love is easy, staying in love is hard. I have always been fascinated by the ocean. During our journey in 2016, I was reading the great maritime novel Moby Dick during our journey from sea to shining sea. Most of the book is spent swimming through life at sea. The great sighting only occurs in the last few pages of the book. The real story is the journey – and the journey the story. Road life has a way of stripping life down to the very basics. “Periscope” attempts to paint love as it occurs living out on the road. As if I was submerged under the ocean waters, viewing the vastness of life and love through the narrow lens of a periscope.
AF: Did you write it together?
Nathaniel: I wrote this song for Jillian halfway through our 50 State journey in 2016. It was a vulnerable period for myself and for our relationship. I was a struggling husband trying to let my worried wife know that we will be alright. Even though to this day I have probably never been more scared for our lives and overall well being then during those months. Those days still keep me up at night, the things we saw out on the road that year, but that’s for another time.
AF: You’re gearing up to release an album this summer – what can fans expect?
Both: Our new album Mayflies takes you on a journey. Just as the environmentally sensitive little creature the mayfly journeys fearlessly through its short and vulnerable life, so do we on our human journey. From a release standpoint, we have been pretty quiet over the last few years. Not for a lack of effort, that’s for sure. We had so much to learn and so much to write. When you are out there touring profound stories and wisdom that had been overlooked come to you and change your perspective.
Out here on the road, we experienced awe-inspiring stories and insights from everyday Americans. We had to go to all 50 states to find them, live with them, breathe with them. This was real. We are sick of a lot of the music on the radio and TV – so much posing. We are really proud of this collection of songs on Mayflies – the lyrics, arrangements, and productions. Matt Wiggins and his team are simply genius. We are deeply satisfied with the record we returned with from London.
AF: You’re also going to be touring this year and performing at Wanderlust Music Festival. When will you be releasing your tour stops and dates?
Jillian: Our summer dates are starting to fill up fast. We will be making a big summer/fall tour announcement in the next few months so stay tuned.
AF: Last but not least, how are the two of you celebrating Valentine’s Day?
Jillian: Most likely we will be eating PB&J’s in our van listening to Steinbeck somewhere on I-17 between Los Angeles, CA and Phoenix, AZ. That night we have a performance in AZ for a “Cloth & Flame” event in the desert which will be super fun. With a brand new album and a documentary on the horizon, times are tight but I can feel that our best times lie ahead of us and that is something to celebrate.