The International Treasures: Interview with Doyle Turner and Ted Hajnasiewicz
An Interview with Doyle Turner and Ted Hajnasiewicz of The International Treasures
Images by Tom Smouse and Molly Turner.
Interview contributed to by Krista Vilinskis of Elephants and Flowers Media
Doyle Turner and Ted Hajnasiewicz each are active performers and solo artists.
Ted Hajnasiewicz was named the Midwest Country Music Organization’s 2022 Maverick Award Winner, a year after his video “Just For Show” won the MCMO’s 2021 Video of the Year. Doyle Turner is a celebrated songwriter, recently having been selected as a finalist in the 2023 Red Lodge Songwriting Competition.
Individually, Doyle and Ted are both involved in various musical projects with solid recording catalogs. Together, as The International Treasures, they have been captivating audiences throughout the Midwest with their charismatic storytelling, sweet harmonies, and transcendent songs about the universal human condition.
Fittingly, their debut album together is titled Together, We’re the International Treasures.
This debut album was released into the world on Sept. 17, 2023. It is a wonderful slice of Americana, with easy melodies, intricate instrumentation, and rich harmonies, all layered upon beautiful songwriting.
We caught up with Doyle and Ted to discuss the debut album and the future of The International Treasures.
Interview: Doyle Turner and Ted Hajnasiewicz of The International Treasures
Interview contributed to by Krista Vilinskis of Elephants and Flowers Media
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you first got into music.
Ted: I was very little when I learned that music moves me. I was pretending to write songs long before I could play any sort of instrument. Forming verses with really bad lyrics, writing albums in my head (I had a better memory back then).
Doyle: I’m a singer-songwriter from northern Minnesota. Music was always around our family growing up. Every morning we came out to the dining room table and ate breakfast to the AM radio out of Fargo, ND. My parents had LP albums and 8 tracks in our living room that we could access like a music library. I came from church music every Sunday and music and theater performances my mom would bring us to. We sang in the car when we traveled. My dad played guitar and sang for us growing up. I started playing guitar and singing at around five or six because I looked up to my dad and wanted to be just like him. Early on I found a love unlike anything else in singing, and that stays with me to this day.
Who inspired you to make music? Anyone you admire and why?
Ted: I was first inspired by Kiss – they were rock stars, they captivated me. Tom Petty was the first to show me how to love a song. There are so many others, but Petty was the first to teach me that I can actually write a song.
Doyle: My mom and dad really were my first teachers in music. I had a pretty spectacular guitar teacher in college, Michael Coates, who taught me music theory through guitar, and also taught me an intensity that impressed me and molded me. These days great songwriters are the musicians who inspire me, and one of the best, in my opinion, is Sarah Morris from Minneapolis. Sarah has this strength and beauty in her language choices, all the while inviting the listener in – always an open invitation. No matter how intricate or personal the topic, there is room for the listener. Also, her writing is a study in phrasing.
What is your creative process like? For example: what was your process/concept when writing your album Together, We Are The International Treasures?
Ted: Not sure there WAS much of a process initially? Doyle and I just fell into the joy of writing together. We wrote a ton of songs in about two years. When the talk of doing a duo album became more than just a talk, we started to pull together songs that might fit this project. That’s “probably” where the process came in? We got the opportunity to track live on the floor at Century Oaks studio – a Quonset Hut in St. Joseph, MN – with some AMAZING bluegrass musicians. Knowing this would be our process, I think informed the songs we might use for the album. We even added a couple of songs we each wrote alone, and a lovely song our dear friend Matthew French wrote (“Leave a Little Love”).
Doyle: Ted and I work well together. We complement each other. When one brings a groove or comes up with an idea, we have mastered the improv technique of “Yes, and . . .” The silly ideas lead to better ideas, so the answer is always, “Yes, and . . .” Ted is also a genius at seeing the long game for an album. When we first walked into Century Oaks studios in St. Joseph, MN, Ted recognized the vibe of the room where a bunch of crazy good musicians were playing. It was warm. It was rich. He immediately turned to me and said, “We need to record here!” We followed that vision to actually recording in that space with some of those very same bluegrass musicians we heard the first night we walked in. The album has that rich and warm vibe that Ted recognized that very first night at Century Oaks.
What did you learn about yourselves when writing and creating your new album?
Ted: I learned we can still track an album live! Feeling trumps perfection, every time. AND we were able to hold our own, and not beef all our parts. Amazingly, there weren’t many occasions where we had to take many takes on songs. It just WORKED!
Doyle: We leaned into the trust we have for one another. We just trusted that this way of recording would work, and it did. There’s a joy in the initial discovery, a certain, “Hey! This is going to work!” feeling we got when we started tracking with musicians we had only met that first morning of recording. There were big smiles and swells in our chests as we played. Our dear friend Troy Foss from Supple Studios in Bemidji, MN captured that joy and excitement, and it translates to the listeners when they hear this album.
What single is your favorite off your new album and why?
Ted: I don’t know if I can pick just one song? Honestly, that’s a tough thing to do. I think I’d pick the experience of it. Not only did we get to play with some amazing talent – we made deep, dear friends with everyone. This is our family. Together, we are the International Treasures.
Doyle: This answer changes as the album “ages.” Back when we first recorded, I thought that “Wild” was my favorite cut off of the album. There’s a mandolin solo from Brent Fuqua that is just a blaze of notes and is so much fun! He just nails that solo. In the seven months or so since we finished tracking, I think my favorite single is “Nothing Changes,” a song that Ted wrote. It builds so beautifully, and when the full band comes in, that makes me smile so much! Mikkell Johnson put this little bit of extra in the fiddle work. There’s this grit that she’s able to reach down and get at just the right points on that song that makes me cheer when I hear it!
What would you like fans to take away after seeing you perform live and or listening to your music?
Ted: We started to talk about this album feeling like a big warm hug. And I think it does, to me anyway. My hope is that others “feel” that as they take in the music. We’ve been so thrilled to hear THAT from our friends and fans. We are so blessed!
Doyle: I think there’s this sense of joy and connection that is undeniable when listening to this album or when watching us perform. Ted and I genuinely enjoy one another’s company, and we love to make music together. That is something that translates to the audience. They can relax and have a good time because we are relaxed and just basking in the musical moment.
Will The International Treasures go on tour anytime soon and or make a second album?
Ted: Oh yes! We’ll be hitting local and regional shows mostly this winter and spring, then hope to hit the festival circuit hard in the summer of 2024. And there are talks about the next album, yes! Doyle is currently working up what will be a new Doyle album. I’ve got a project going with my rock and roll band HebbaJebba, as well as songs for a new Ted thing. But we are talking about recording a single, with thoughts/hopes that’ll help lead us to potentially a next producer, maybe even backing band. If I could, I’d go make that first album all over again. If that’s what we’re supposed to do, we’ll certainly do that all over again.
Doyle: Ted says it best. We have big plans because it is just too much fun to even think about slowing down. New projects, new venues, and new musical experiences loom large in our minds after such a sublime process and result with “Together, We Are The International Treasures.” It’s incredibly exciting, and we’re treasuring every opportunity, every interaction with listeners.
Website and Socials:
Band Website: http://www.
Band Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/
Ted’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/
Doyle’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/
Band YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@
Ted YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/
Doyle YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@
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