FROM READERS: A Tinder match made in music

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
Lucas James and Morgan Marie are two members of A Simple Exchange, a new local band that performs around mid-Missouri.

Lucas James and Morgan Marie are two members of A Simple Exchange, a new local band that performs around mid-Missouri. Lucas graduated from MU in December, and Morgan is currently a junior.

"We should start a band." This is one of the most common phrases uttered by college-aged kids, right up there with, "We should buy a bar." Though "I should get Tinder" isn't spoken nearly as frequently, it is a thought that is apparently followed through at a much higher rate.

For those who don't know, Tinder is a smart phone application that reduces meeting potential dates to the shallowest and laziest level since speed dating. You are shown multiple pictures and possibly a short bio about someone loving to smile, go to the beach, and explaining that their cat is just the greatest (if the person decides to get really deep). If you like what you see, you swipe right, and if the other person does the same to you, you get matched. If not, swipe left and both parties avoid the painful sting of rejection that comes from actual human interaction. With this fad sweeping college nation, it only figures that the story of A Simple Exchange starts right here.

At some point last fall, both vocalist Morgan Marie and I, Lucas James, got bored enough to download Tinder and started swiping right. Morgan was discerning, reading bios and looking for pictures that might show someone with a musical interest. She's always had a thing for musicians, and she hoped to find some like-minded friends. I, having deemed even looking at the screen too taxing, began swiping right for everyone. It seemed better to me to cast a big net and increase my chances of matching with someone worth talking to. (Does that make me a bad person? I think that makes me a bad person.) In what has to be one of the biggest Tinder success stories of all time, we ended up with so much more than we bargained for … a band.

An epiphany is defined as a sudden realization of a great truth, according to "The Simpsons Movie." It also aptly describes what happened the first time that the two of us sang together. Very few things in life will ever fit together better than our voices. Morgan and I met up in the Target parking lot of the mall and, after we were both fairly certain that the other wasn’t a crazy axe murderer, we went back to my place to play some music. The song "Poison and Wine" by The Civil Wars has some magnificent harmonies, and we hit every one of them effortlessly. Immediately, we knew that we had dynamic potential. Original songs that we had written separately seemed to have been simply waiting for the other person to finish them. Within a week and half, the two of us had a repertoire of music to debut for our first duo performance at Günter Hans in downtown Columbia. This included originals that we had written together, as well as a few covers for good measure.

After a successful show, we decided that we needed to stick together; though if we're being honest, that decision had probably been made the moment our voices united. As the writing continued and the events emerged, Morgan and I began collaborating with guitarist Andrew Weiss and drummer Ethan Sellers, friends and previous band members of my own. Several jam sessions later, we realized that our dream had the potential to become a reality, and we decided to officially become the band A Simple Exchange.

At the end of March, we had our first professional recording experience at Sawhorse Studios in St. Louis. Just days before our session, we added violist Catherine Sandstedt into the mix, writing in her music and rehearsing like mad. After several practices and a long two days in the studio, our One Swipe Right EP became a finished product. A few days later, we joined ArtistSignal, sharing our music online in a worldwide music competition for up-and-coming artists. Each month, a Top Artist with the most votes is given $10,000 by the staff to jump-start their career. Within just a few days on the site, A Simple Exchange received recognition as a “Staff Pick” and we were overjoyed.

The past couple of months have been quite the journey for us, and this is barely the beginning. Not only do we have masses people to thank for their consistent support and encouragement, but we also have to express some gratitude toward Tinder. It’s pretty interesting what social media can accomplish these days. So keep swiping right, kids. Even if you don’t find love on Tinder, maybe you’ll start a band.

Our music is available online for streaming here.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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