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For musicians and married couple Chris Carmack and Erin Slaver, Life on Eris is more than just a band name. A nod to both a combination of their first names and to the dwarf planet Eris (which is named, coincidentally, for the Greek goddess of strife and discord),
it's a clever evocation of their shared life and artistry, as well as their myriad individual
On their debut EP, Stonewall, the duo introduces themselves as a project greater than the sum of its parts, one that finds inspiration in harmony, sure, but also in the complications and complexities that make life and love colorful and exciting. The two found overlap in their musicality, but it's the contrast – or the discord, to borrow that term from Eris herself
– between their styles and sensibilities that makes the Life on Eris project so compelling.
"It's a meaningful project for us both," Carmack shares of the EP. "In some ways, having Erin as my artistic partner, my creative partner, is this sort of crucible that accelerates the process of a relationship and being married." Slaver agrees, "Our writing combines all of the elements that are important to us. It seems
natural to write about relationships too, when you're writing with your partner.”
Across Stonewall, Carmack and Slaver blend musical influences from Pop, Americana, Classical, and even Hip-Hop, to tell stories of romance, regret, and reconciliation. On the title track, the pair offer haunting harmonies – recalling the now-disbanded Civil Wars – over mournful violin from Slaver and trippy programming from Carmack. Opener "Damaged Good" is at once moody and infectious, musing cleverly on the baggage brought to a new relationship. "Skipping Church" is the EP's rootsiest song, built on bluesy
acoustic guitar and yearning vocals. "Script on a Bottle" and "Superhero" close the EP on ambitious notes, with each track's complex production shining as brightly as their raw lyrics.
Carmack and Slaver met on the set of ABC/CMT’s hit show Nashville, where Carmack, who now stars on ABC’s Grey's Anatomy as “Dr. Atticus Lincoln,” played “Will Lexington” for the series’ six seasons. Slaver was a back-up singer on the show, with Carmack quickly
realizing that her talents went far beyond her voice.
"Chris was working on his own project as a solo artist," Slaver explains. "I played a few
shows with him when I could in-between touring. That led to the idea of starting a band.” Carmack adds, "It did start out with us just collaborating casually in each other’s musical spheres. I would have a show at the Grand Ole Opry and I’d ask Erin to join me. I think
one of our first gigs was playing for my grandfather, performing his favorite song ‘San Antonio Rose' at the Opry. It was a very special moment that we got to share with family, which is how music started out for us."
Both Carmack and Slaver have deep musical roots. Carmack first began playing as a young boy, learning the saxophone as a kid and later picking up the guitar, joking that the latter is "a bigger hit with the ladies." He is also a lifelong songwriter, having played and written songs in a high school band and later performing his original material around Los
Angeles while also pursuing acting projects.
"I played all over town for years to no one," Carmack says. "Then suddenly I booked Nashville and got to play to a lot of people. But I was always just happy to write and sing, and to make music in any environment whatsoever."
Slaver is an accomplished violinist, having opened for high-profile acts including The Eagles, The Doobie Brothers, Chicago, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Don Henley, and Jewel, among others, and spending years touring in bands with major artists like Martina McBride, Trace Adkins, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Katie Armiger, and JD & The Straight Shot. She began her classical violin training at the age of three, eventually attending a
music conservatory to further hone her craft. She also co-wrote and performed on several studio albums with Americana band JD & The Straight Shot. “I was raised in the Catskill Mountains of New York, where my father had spent the ‘60s and ‘70s playing guitar and singing in Rock ‘n’ Roll bands – it was a deeply cultural area
where music was flourishing in his generation,” Slaver shares. “I grew up with those influences in my life, as well as the classical violin I was studying.” Slaver eventually landed in Nashville, performing alongside beloved local acts and joining JD & The Straight Shot. “I got to travel the world while doing what I loved.
Because the band was primarily comprised of pros, it was a true learning experience that really shaped me as a musician.”
Carmack has a deep passion and natural talent for recording, so he helmed much of what became the EP's final sound. A true autodidact, Carmack is self-taught behind the boards, and brings years of learning and practice to his work for Life on Eris. “If he wasn't a
successful actor and musician, I think he would be a phenomenal engineer,” adds Slaver.
Combining their talents for performance, arrangement, and engineering, the duo self-produced the EP together and played nearly every instrument heard. Their production brings vital texture and nuance to their songs, which, with their layers of sound and
unorthodox arrangements, reward repeated listens.
Both Carmack and Slaver agree that writing songs together has also deepened their connection to one another romantically, as the writing process has forced them to share new sides of themselves and be vulnerable in a way that everyday life doesn't always
necessitate. "Songwriting can be almost like a therapy session," Carmack shares. "And not in the way
that it necessarily makes things feel resolved, but it does peel back layers. We have to be open and honest with each other – and ourselves – to create a good song, even if it's not necessarily how you want to walk around your house in the morning." Slaver adds, "I've never had a writing partner like Chris before. I think we can be more honest with each other than most songwriters, or more cordial writing partners, could be. Sometimes that's tough, but ultimately you end up with a more genuine song."
The five tracks that comprise the Stonewall EP show Life on Eris to be an act unafraid to push genre conventions and to challenge the notion of what music from a married duo can or should sound like. So settle in, hit play, and get ready to be transported to another world. It's time to hear what Life on Eris is really like.