The Gear that Jacksonville Band Folk Is People Employs to Achieve their Ever-Evolving American-Roots-Inspired Sound

photo by Tarah Wellington, graphix by Bonnie Zerr

A staple of the Jacksonville music scene for over a decade, Folk is People breathes new life into old country and bluegrass traditions. Singer and guitarist Stacey Bennett started writing songs for the band in 2011, releasing the first Folk is People EP the following year. “When we started,” Bennett says, “it was all acoustic instruments. I was playing mandolin, banjo, and guitar, and I was singing.” When the band released their first full-length record in 2016, the music swirled around pop-punk tendencies, eventually sticking its landing in a twangier country category.

Bennett seems especially proud of the band’s latest recordings, lighting up when she talks about the songs’ more experimental qualities. “There are some weird sounds,” she says, like lighter flicks and surprising yet fitting synth parts, “and there’s one song intro where I chopped part of the middle of the song, and then we just put it in reverse.” Currently, the band is putting the finishing touches on new singles to release this summer. 

Bennett talked to us about the gear we’ll hear on the group’s new recordings, as well as some of her own all-time favorite music-making accouterments, including a guitar that she equates to a body part.

Photo by Tarah Wellington

Folk is People’s In-Studio Essentials

60’s reissue Fender Mustang. Mustangs are pretty interesting because they were solely made for students. This guitar with the Vox amp is an essential pairing for us in the studio.

Unusual microphones. At Friends of Friends studio when they were still here in Jacksonville, we used this one microphone on all of my vocals. It made my vocals sound really crisp. Here’s what our producer, Brok Mende, said about it:

“It’s made by AEG out of Moscow and is a frankenstein’d microphone of sorts. It’s got the internals of a LOMO 19a18 (same 6S6BV tube and mechanics) and the capsule is a modified U67 capsule. LOMO (Leningradskoye Optiko-Mekhanicheskoye Obyedinenie) was a USSR company back in the cold war era and made high quality audio and camera gear along with like medical stuff. But I got into LOMO mics while I worked with Steve Albini because he has an incredible collection and I needed some for myself. And the U67 is like a super highly sought out classic microphone. I find it gives a very modern body forward response while still being clear and capturing the depth and length of a vocal.”

Courtesy of the artist

Eight-string SX lap steel. It’s funny how cheap this thing is, because it sounds so good, especially because our other guitarist, Arvid, has worked on it and dialed it in.

Gibson Explorer. Arvid put E- and B-benders on this guitar so he can individually bend the E and B strings without messing up the rest.

Gretsch 12-string. If I think about our new songs as cubes, Arvid really filled the cube with this guitar. Songs aren’t like 2D objects at all. There are things behind them, things above them, under to the sides. And with one of our new songs in particular, when Arvid played this guitar on it, the cube felt full. It didn’t need any sort of ambiance, any other instrumentation. As soon as it showed up, the spotlight was on it. It takes my breath away when I hear it.

Peavey T-40 bass. This is one of those instruments you could play on every song if you wanted to, because it’s got a diverse portfolio. Every time we go to the studio, our bassist, Guy, plays this bass.

Stacey Bennett’s All-Time Favorite Gear

Martin M000-15 acoustic guitar. This is basically part of my body at this point. It’s smaller-bodied and full mahogany, including the top. I like it because I wear my guitar over my shoulder, clipped into the headstock instead of clipped into the body. Because it’s smaller, it allows me to move around a lot more, and it doesn’t have such a bassy sort of tone to it. It’s warm and it’s bright and it’s chipper, but it’s not too trebly or tinny. It puts you in a warm hug.

Photo by Tim Davis

Phosphor bronze strings. I’m a stickler about the strings I put on my guitar. These compliment my specific guitar very well. I think sometimes smaller-body guitars have a tendency to be a little more trebly, and these strings just sort of balance out the small body without getting bassy.

LR Baggs Venue DI Preamp. What I don’t like about this pedal is that the tuner is trash. I wouldn’t buy it for the tuner. But I love it because it has a boost on it. I love the sound of an acoustic lead. I love an acoustic guitar that cuts through and does the solo. One of the most famous songs that does that is “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt, when that classical guitar just sort of rips through the middle, right before the last chorus comes in. You don’t expect it. I don’t think it works for everything, but when it happens and it works, I’m just like, “Brilliant.” 

I can also use this pedal to mute my guitar really easily. If I do tune it with a tuner that works, or if I’m switching guitars, I don’t have to rely on the sound person to mute my channel. I can just mute my guitar from where I stand. It also just really lets you dial in your sound. You can get a lot of different tones out of it. I could play from a dive bar or an amphitheater, and it allows me to just really dial in and not depend on the whim of a sound person who’s not on my crew.

Vox AC15 amplifier. I love this amp, especially with my Fender Mustang, because I can I plug in through the top boost, which gives me a little bit of dirt. Not a lot. It can get really dirty, but I just use the slightest amount. It also has a gorgeous reverb on it, plus a tone cut.

Photo by Tim Davis

Benson Preamp pedal. I put this guitar pedal on my electric, and it lets me kind of choose between the dirt I want. When I’m live on stage, I don’t want to bend down and change things because I’m a singer too.

Walrus Audio ARP-87 pedal. It’s so cool. It gives you really good delay. I’ve just never worked with a delay that’s just been this versatile. I love it because it has the tap on it, so you can tap in real time. So if my drummer decides he’s going to play the song in half time, it allows me to catch up, and then my guitar delay isn’t all over the place.

New singles from Folk is People are expected this summer. In the meantime, the group’s latest release Live From the End of the World is available on Bandcamp here. And tune into The Independent 89.9 HD4 in Jacksonville (and streaming everywhere right here) to hear their music. 

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