Answering the phone with a quick hello, the bubbly duo of Ashley Blasko and Missy Long quickly ease their way into a 20-minute conversation about their indie rock act the Willow Tree.
The group formed a handful of years ago with Long and another person. About a year into the band's formation, Long met Blasko through church, and the pair hasn't looked back since.
After their fateful meeting in the church, the two didn't actually start playing music together until a little while later. According to Blasko, the first time the two sang together was in the church bathroom's shower pods while on a mission trip.
"I was humming to myself in the most makeshift little shower thing you've ever seen, and I hear in the one next to me a harmonizing hum. I'm like 'wow,' and then we started singing," Blasko said. "[After that,] she [Long] was like 'oh, that was you singing in there,' and I was like 'yeah, that was you singing in there too,' and then we actually played a song from the talent show on that mission trip and the rest just went from there."
After that initial performance, where Long noticed that Blasko was not only musically talented but that the two meshed really well, the pair soon began working on the Willow Tree as a newly put together duo.
Now a group for roughly six years, the two have been sure to keep the band something that blends their own style. Between the music they take inspiration from to the actual name of the band itself, both Blasko and Long have made sure that the band is an accurate representation of each of them.
The name, that Long came up with right from the start, was inspired by a science fiction, sort of "Beauty And The Beast"-inspired short story by Ursula Wills-Jones called "The Wicker Husband."
The book follows a magical sorcerer who makes a husband for a woman that isn't well-liked in her village. Creating the husband out of the bark of a willow tree, the town's people start to notice that the husband has caused the woman to become more beautiful and confident.
Wondering why he treats her so kind, the sorcerer explains that the reason for the husband's kindness is because he made him out of the bark of a willow tree, which is "the kindest and pliable tree," known to man. Finding the idea of this whimsical tale interesting, Long decided to name the band after the story.
"I thought it was an interesting concept and I feel like it was well rooted with us as far as a band," Long said. "As people, we just want to be kind to others, and through being friends with Ashley for so long, I know we've always tried to get along with each other and the people we meet. But I also feel like we're very strong individuals, like the willow tree being strong and pliable, and that's kind of who we are as people and I thought the message [from the story] was cool [and fit our band.]"
Story originally appeared on The Odyssey. You can see it here.