Interview | FFS 5 with The High Divers’ Mary Alice Mitchell

Photo by Joelle Grace / Courtesy of Baby Robot Media

Since The High Divers first began making music in 2014, the Charleston has garnered considerable acclaim throughout South Carolina and have been working their way up the national rock scene along the way. Two LPs and four EPs later, they’re still intent on producing rhythmic indie rock that comes in layers and lingers the more that you let them unfurl. Their impressum?—”possibly the best band for 2 miles”—is about as true as it frames the band’s humble humor and camaraderie.

The High Divers have fun, as For Folk’s Sake did with the band’s Mary Alice Mitchell taking on our ongoing ‘FFS 5’ Q&A series.

Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get started in music? Any defining moments along the path to present day?

All of the band members grew up on Hilton Head Island, SC, and then moved to Charleston, SC when the band first formed in 2014. I would say that was our defining moment as a band. We all came from backgrounds of playing cover gigs around our home town, so Charleston was our so called “escape plan” into pursuing our original music. We were all ready for a change, and we were immediately embraced by the thriving music scene in Charleston. Our frontman Luke already had a few solo albums out, but had never had a full time band that could go on tour. This was the perfect moment where we were all ready to jump right in and pursue our music full force, and that’s when The High Divers were born. Luke and I brought songs to the table, and we all collaborated together to make them come to life. We were really set on having the band be a collective thing, and its been a beautiful process so far! 

As an artist, how do you define success?

As an artist, I define success as being able to survive by doing what you love! Yea, being rich and famous some day would obviously be nice, but thats not what its about for us. The music industry has changed so much over recent years, so that pipe dream probably isn’t what most artists are going for. As a band, we just want to be able to support ourselves with our music and not have to be distracted by anything else. Theres always going to be a population of people that enjoy the art you are creating, so our dream is to find as many of those people as we can! 

What do you find to be your greatest struggle when it comes to the music business?

The greatest struggle in the music business right now is figuring out how to make money doing it! Recorded music is gradually being devalued, to the point where people just expect to get it for free. There are so many costs involved in recording and releasing a record, so its definitely a labor of love. We are really thankful that there is a good population of people that love to come out to shows to support us, so we focus on that a lot and try to look at the positive side to keep it going. The days of selling millions of albums is probably over now for most, but seeing a band live is something you can’t experience unless you just go do it! 

What do you think is the most realistic goal you can achieve as a band? What do you personally hope to achieve?

Our most realistic goal as a band is just to be able to keep making good music! Personally, I would like to see The High Divers remain a self sustaining business so that we can all keep doing what we love. We’ve worked really hard to build up to what we are now, and we’ll just keep going, because we’re passionate about what we do. 

Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?

Luke and I love to go somewhere secluded when we write songs. It really helps to be out in nature, away from all the hustle and bustle of things. We do like to write while we are on tour, whenever inspiration hits, but the most fruitful times have been when we make a point to get away and seclude ourselves from the outside world for a bit. Hiking and exploring new places really opens up your mind and lets you think clearly without distractions. We usually do it together, but we also occasionally split up to write by ourselves, and then reconvene to collaborate again. All in all, a healthy amount of outdoor time and alone time is the recipe for creativity. 

Words by: Jonathan Frahm