The black and white, freshly pressed uniforms of a butler and a maid belie the color and depth Ericka Corban and her husband Mattaniah bring to their new project.
The duo finally joined their professional lives as The Butler and the Maid after solo careers in music.
The name comes from their jobs as caretakers for the late Dan Bitar, whose family owned the La Vogue Department store in downtown Hoquiam. They became friends of the Bitar family and Dan Bitar came to be Uncle Dan to them and their children.
“It was the joke that we were his butler and maid,” Corban said. “Not everyone was too keen on the joke but we took it and ran with it for this new band.”
The black-and-white characters came to life in their newest music video, filmed by Nick Mealey, for their song “Only Every.” The video features Corban in a frilly maid dress and headpiece with Mattaniah dressed as a butler. It was filmed at the Polson Museum, where they have also played for several events.
Their new album, “Intertwined,” focuses on the ties binding people together, especially marriage. This album was a long time coming. It was written over their past seven years of marriage, with input from friends on their own relationships.
“I think what we’ve come to discover after being married this long is that you can’t be selfish,” Mattaniah said. “Today, so many people just serve themselves, but in marriage, you must serve one another.”
The two met at Grays Harbor College in a music class. Corban had yet to pick up her textbook and Mattaniah graciously offered to let her copy some pages from his own. He does admit it was mostly because it was a great opportunity to get to know her.
“Yeah, I knew what I was doing,” he said with a grin.
After the copying was complete they spent time doing homework together and speaking in British accents.
“I had a moment where I was afraid that he really thought I was an exchange student,” she said. “As time went on, I realized that he was just as weird as I am.”
Within a week, Corban said they knew they were going to get married, although it didn’t actually happen for more than a year. They now have three kids.
Their children are also playing music. The oldest, at six, is already into piano and likes to write her own songs on the fly. The middle child, at four, is into drums, as most little boys are, Mattaniah said. The 5-month-old will be encouraged in the same way as his older siblings.
Neither Ericka or Mattaniah embraced music until they were in their teens. After years of resisting piano lessons, Ericka was given a guitar at 14. Practicing chords and writing music became a near full-time hobby.
Mattaniah’s mother is a classically trained opera singer who majored in voice and harp. There was always music in the home and a gentle push to learn how to put songs together.
“My siblings and I resisted it, I think mostly because that’s what you do when you’re young,” he said.
He was also 14 when he found the guitar, though to this day doesn’t always practice.
Both agreed that they balance each other out in many ways. While Ericka is much better with vocals, Mattaniah is better at writing songs. Ericka is a bit more compulsive while Mattaniah likes to take a little more time to plan everything out. However, they both help one another improve, especially artistically. The biggest challenge came from working on harmonizing their voices.
“And when we finally did, it was my dream finally coming true,” she said. “I cried, it was so beautiful.”
Honesty has made both their marriage and music better over the last seven years.
“It’s been difficult, I’m not going to lie, to hear the honest truth when it comes to things like our music,” he said. “But it’s been important to give and get that feedback and has made us stronger.”
Family is a large part of their lives. At a recent show, they couldn’t find a babysitter in time. The children were selling records in the audience while the youngest was held by a couple who were happy to help.
Their upcoming projects are a hymn and then a Christmas album.
They are not quite at the point of making a living by music alone. Mattaniah now has his real estate license and several area churches, First Presbyterian Church, Kaleo Grays Harbor, and Light and Life Community Church, pay them small amounts to play certain days throughout the month.
They also regularly play at local restaurants and cafes, including the Tinderbox in Westport and Ocean Beach Roasters in Ocean Shores.
Their next big show is on March 1 with Peter Benjamin at the 7th St. Theatre, where they will open for the Montesano born-and-raised performer.
For more information on The Butler &the Maid visit facebook.com/ButlerandtheMaid. To purchase tickets to the March 1 show, visit peterbenjaminmusic.com.
Alexandra Kocik: 360-537-3928 or firstname.lastname@example.org and @DW_AKocik on Twitter