With northern grit and southern charm, Arbor North is the result of a divine appointment, decades in the making. Michael Boris and AC Jones’s story is one of being in the right place at exactly the right time, when following your heart and instinct can lead to something spectacular. The pair initially met at a music industry event in Nashville and while their meeting was brief, the connection between them was undeniable. Within a few months they were committed to a long-distance relationship and more than a year's worth of text messages, phone calls and FaceTime calls paved the path to them saying “I do” on a beautiful Sunday in October 2021.
The duo originally from upstate New York and Ohio respectively begin their collective musical journey with their debut single “All the Right Mistakes” which the duo self-produced after co-writing the song with Bill DiLuigi and recording it at The Blue Grotto in Nashville. The single was released on Friday March 18th (listen HERE) and we recently spoke with Michael and AC over Zoom to talk about their new project and upcoming plans to visit the UK. I first met Michael back in 2019 whilst he was over here on his previous project as part of a band called Lockeland where they appeared at Millport Country Music Festival and the Long Road. The initial spark to get the band over was through Gavin and Christine Chittock who run the Scottish festival and had been friends of his for around seven years from back when he was playing drums for Adley and they had met backstage at a show. After reaching out and sharing music on the project his “UK parents” as he put it took the opportunity to bring them over. Whilst the UK links are strong, we began by looking into why Arbor North as a duo were so keen to make working on the UK market such a focus from day one as Millport is already a destination on the horizon for this summer. “I was over very briefly back in 2017 and did one small show there which was my first experience of a show in the UK where firstly I found everyone so welcoming and incredibly receptive. There is such an appreciation for independent music and really beautiful to be over there. There just feels like there is such a community aspect around independent artists and we just appreciate that so much.” - AC “It’s just amazing, I remember when Lockeland performed over there, and all of the shows were absolutely wonderful but one that sticks out in particular was the Maverick acoustic stage at Millport and I’ll never forget it. We were playing that show, looking into the crowd and they were just staring us down! You’re thinking I hope they like it? I think they do. But, at the end of each song everyone would applaud, and I was like wow! The fans in the UK really appreciate the artform just as much as we do, and they just soak it all in. Obviously, we love playing in the States too where you have wonderful fans over here too and there is no difference or comparison, but we notice that fans over there really zero in. People have become fans and friends so it’s the best of both worlds and for both of us, we can’t wait to get back so when the opportunity presented itself there was no thought needed.” - Michael As a journalist you almost grind on yourself to ask the sort of question that you know every other person that they will be speaking to will ask. However, Arbor North is such an interesting and unique name which I couldn’t help but explore the origins of: “We love been asked about it and telling the story. When we went out to try and find a name for this duo, we spent a lot of time thinking about it and had this huge Google Doc of name after name. Some were pretty decent, but others were absolutely horrible! We really loved the concept of distance and time so tried to find that balance but also something that had a bit of a vintage feel to it too.” - AC
“An Arbor is the spindle which the hands of time revolve around on a clock or a pocket watch, so they sit on the arbor and spins around. Then North is a nod to the fact that AC and I are both from the north. I’m originally from upstate New York and AC is from Ohio so we obviously love where we are from and where we grew up and also the word north has a positive directionality to it.” - Michael “It just stuck for us and once we landed on the name, it was really hard to see us as anything else and we would toy with it fitting it in, like when you get married and test out the last name so the same thing with the duo name.” - AC
The project as a duo happened organically despite the fact that they were a couple. They were both doing their own things musically and as they collectively said it was never a thought and were prepared to be having separate careers for the rest of their lives. After Michael had gone back to looking at playing drums for other artists, the pair of them were on Zoom whilst they were in their long-distance relationship and then the seed of writing got sown to see if being in love with someone could actually work musically. The tested the water and the results materialised through a smooth and easy process where new songs were flowing then Bill Luigi came in whilst AC was in Nashville and their debut single “All the Right Mistakes” was written where it felt like the right thing and was natural to make this a duo. “When we did write the songs, we were looking at it from the two perspectives and it was really cool that we were able to tell stories with the songs. It’s a really cool thing to be able to play with seeing that from two different perspectives and naturally we were inclined to writing more duo centred things and it just kind of came out that way. When we wrote with Bill and came out with the title, it just all fell in line so perfectly.” - AC “All the right Mistakes” was not the first song that they wrote for this project, but it was just the perfect fit for their debut single due to the autobiographical nature which incorporated the name idea of distance and time where past decisions led them together, which felt like a good way to say hello as the storybook introduction of how they were once separate and then came together.
As for the story of how they came together as a couple, well that involved the most Nashville ideology ever of how they “knew of each other for years” before speaking to each other in February 2020 during CRS when they were introduced properly by a mutual friend. Later that evening they found themselves at the same dinner and ended up on the same table where Michael ended up sitting next to AC’s father, but the pair had naturally started talking which AC said was mainly about production at the time. Industry events are all about networking, you go to talk to people and whilst they felt the conversation was great, they say it was not the right time until as AC passed over to Michael to describe as them having divine blinders on at the time. As the pandemic hit and he posted a photo on his personal page of him posing in front of a Landcruiser with a caption along the line of just chilling on a Friday night about to get in his pj’s to which AC commented on when she was actually doing that. This led into an in-depth discussion of something that I may or may not have been guilty of myself in the past: sliding into direct messages! “I had to reach out to her, just touch base and see how she is doing. Colleague to colleague. I was super professional but she’s cute and as the kids say I slid into the dm’s and it worked.”
The rest as you may say is history as they have never stopped talking and they said that they knew within a couple of days that this was something but for all of the rest of us it is great to see that sliding into dm’s actually can come to fruition with a positive outcome and “before you know it, you are in a department as a duo about to have dinner in a few minutes.”
Looking into, their own backstories, AC has a degree in biochemistry which is obviously the same route that everyone making music takes isn’t it? In all seriousness, how did the transition between a heavily scientific based degree into music go? “It went really smoothly, and a lot of people are surprised by that. When I graduated high school and went to college, I either wanted to be a physician assistant or go to med school. As you go through your years at college you go through shifts and changes, so I got really into the research aspect and about midway through my goal was to go on for my PHD. The sciences will always be something that I absolutely love but whilst I was in college, I would do my lab work for five days in a week and on the weekends be out playing music. I was writing and recording my own music in-between classes so when it came to graduation and I was planning on graduate schools that I wanted to go to, I found I was starting applications and not finishing them. Why am I hesitating, what is going on here? During those four years I realised I had never had the opportunity to one hundred percent invest in my music career and take a chance on that. School is wonderful and I loved getting that degree, loved being in college where I learned so much that helped me in my musical career with learning who I was and how to approach certain situations but I really felt that I needed to take that chance and so I did.”
In addition to their appearance at Millport, fans outside of Scotland will be pleased to hear that there are further UK dates planned which they are currently working on for this summer when they come to visit but musically what can we expect in terms of more new music prior to this visit? “We are looking at more of a singles route for right now, but we will be pressing some physical EPs to sell at live shows, but today’s market is very singles driven so we can have time to promote the song and talk about it. We are super excited to share the rest of the music coming out and really fortunate to have a really wonderful team of people around us.” - Michael “The hope is not only will you see more music in the next year or so but also we have some plans for things like videos and visual representations that we are also working on as well, we love to dream up things to do.” - AC “All the Right Mistakes is such a story driven song with meaning around it, it really allows us the time to talk about it, to explain and really tell people about that song specifically then we can do the same thing with the next single rather than like you said throwing out a bunch of music without getting to dive into the details of the why.” - Michael
The debut single “All the Right Mistakes” from Arbor North is out now and available HERE.
You can find out more about Michael and AC on their WEBSITE and keep up to date with them socially on TWITTERFACEBOOKINSTAGRAM to get all the latest news on new music and full UK touring plans.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks