Category: Interviews

August 15th, 2019

Phoebe Starr

Phebe Starr made the journey from Australia to LA. Now she is getting ready to release her latest EP Ice Tea Liberace. The EP features 4 tracks including “Ice Tea Liberace”, “Break the Law”, and the singles:

Starr has toured the US and played at SXSW. She has released 2 prior EP’s. Her lyrics strike a bold tone. FEMMUSIC was honored to talk to her about the new EP and the industry. Ice Tea Liberace is out on August 30. For info visit https://www.facebook.com/phebestarrmusic/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Ice Tea Liberace?

PS: This EP was actually a very easy process. I used to suffer with so much perfectionism and I was never 100% comfortable with music being my job. Because it’s so personal I found it really hard to take the creative process and give it away to strangers. I read a lot of Maya De Angelou and I think this really influenced me in the way I saw myself and others. A lot of my opinions have come out of understanding my place in the world and the privilege to be heard and in expressing my truth it will help other women feel safe the express theirs. I believe art should be owned by the outcasts, the discouraged and the marginalized. It’s important to make art no matter what value others place on it. It’s important to tell our stories. This new understanding has made me a lot more confident in my opinions and has made releasing a lot more enjoyable.

Phoebe Starr-Ice-Tea-Liberace

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Xavier Dunn. How did you meet? What made you decide you wanted him to produce the EP? What was he like to work with?

PS: I was so discouraged in finding a producer that could help me with my vision. I really, really love sound design and more of a classical approach to building production. My friend Lanks was having tea with me and I was really sad because I felt defeated. He asked me about my vision and I told him and he simply said “You have to meet Xavier”, you two will get along and he seems perfect’. I didn’t believe him until we met and after the first 30 minutes I knew I wanted to record a whole album with him.

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest difference making Ice Tea Liberace vs making Chronicles? Do you approach the studio differently after making 3 EPs?

PS: Ice Tea Liberace was so fun to make. I was finally able to sample and reference a lot of influences on my life. We would always start in the studio by watching Rick and Morty, E.T, Thelma and Louise and country and western films. The whole process was very experimental, relaxed and fun. I also sampled those movies…well copied phrases of my favourite moments. For example in “Break The Law” there is a sample of me yelling ‘get schwifty’.

FEMMUSIC: What is your favorite song on the EP? Tell me how the song developed?

PS: “Ice Tea Liberace” for sure. This song happened using that meditation process. I never felt really comfortable to do that with someone else in the room and Xavier really made me feel safe. We wrote this song together out of a John Wayne film sample and I just improvised the melody and lyrics. When we listened back I was like what do I mean… Ice Tea Liberace… but when it sat with me I knew exactly what I was trying to say and they were the only words that worked. It was pretty cool in the sense it’s made me more confident in how I write and my beliefs in the subconscious.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

PS: It’s like meditation. When I write for myself it’s very spiritual. I’ve done it since I can remember. I pick up and instrument and play it for hours and babble out nonsense. There is usually a moment or a lyric that specifically talks to me and I then for weeks do the same thing until the song is fully complete. It’s an addictive process and nothing feels as good!

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

PS: Dolly Parton “Coat of Many Colours”. I grew up in a country town in Australia. We lived on a farm. I’m the youngest of 4 kids and my mum was a single mum. We didn’t have much money and we had to get our clothes and school uniform from thrift stores and whenever I felt discouraged my mum would put on that song and encourage me by saying that “it’s not what you have that defines you but what you do with it”.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

PS: I’ve constantly been shocked and didn’t want to believe that the industry was still so backyards and sexist on all levels. I’m constantly put into a box of how I should behave, what my skills are and what’s expected of me. My response has always to take that energy and put it into something positive. I surround myself with empowered women and men who are comfortable with themselves and we work on making a positive empowering culture.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

PS: Today it’s Miley Cyrus. I think we could really write a cool country pop song together that would melt peoples’ minds.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

PS: I would like a few people to retire and free money and resources to communities that are being marginalized at the moment. The best music that brings people together, empowers, forgives and lights up this world always comes from those who have suffered and need to be heard.

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August 12th, 2019

Upsahl - Shervin Lainez

Upsahl is Taylor Upsahl. She is originally from Phoenix and now lives in LA. She comes from a musical family. Her father Mike is in and toured with a number of bands. She has released music independently before she was signed to Arista. This year she released Hindsight 20/20 which is a pop album filled with clever lyrics. The EP is produced by Mike Green and is filed with songs including “Stressed”, “All My Friends Are Rich”, “SMARTY”, “Fine” and “Drugs”

Upsahl recently released “Wish You’d Make Me Cry

She will be touring soon with Tessa Violet. For info visit https://www.upsahl.com/

FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making Hindsight 20/20?

U: I think the biggest challenge for putting together the EP was picking only five songs out of the 200 I had written last year. I spent my first year in LA writing a new song pretty much every day, so I wanted to make sure that each of the songs on Hindsight 20/20 were the most authentic representation of where my life is at right now.

FEMMUSIC: I was able to catch you live a couple of months ago. I was struck by how similar in theme “Drugs” and “All My Friends Are Rich” are. I was curious what personal experiences drove making those songs.

U: “Drugs” and “All My Friends Are Rich” are both commentaries on LA and how I was feeling when I first got there. “Drugs” is about meeting fake people at parties and wishing I could find genuine connections in such a saturated city. I definitely struggled to find people that made me feel like the best version of myself when I first moved to LA because I feel like the culture in that city is very self involved, with a “fake it till you make it” vibe, so making real friends was hard for me at first. I wrote “All My Friends Are Rich” about how I felt when I started working on music in LA. I started to meet all these incredible people, but a lot of them were older than me and had their shit together way more than I did, with way more money than I had. I basically just wanted the song to be a fun vibe with relatable lyrics, and what twenty year old can’t relate to being broke?

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Arista. How are they to work with? What made you decide to sign with them?

U: Arista is a dream come true. The way I ended up at Arista is actually kind of crazy. I had met David Massey and I immediately could tell that he understood me. He hit me up saying he was reopening Arista and wanted to sign me as the first artist on the label. Not only has signing a record deal been a major life goal for me, but to sign to such a legendary label like Arista is a true honor. I feel really thankful for my team there.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Mike Green. How did you meet? How did you decide to have him produce the EP?

U: I met Mike Green in a writing session when I first moved to LA, and I immediately fell in love with his production style. He has made such incredible songs with alternative artists in the past, so I was really stoked to be able to work with him on “SMARTY.”

FEMMUSIC: Unlike a lot of artists you had a better idea of what touring life and the music industry was before you began. What do you tell other artists about touring? What is your own survival skill doing it?

U: I am in love with touring and being on the road. Growing up, performing was always my favorite thing to do, so to be able to wake up in a different city every day and play for a new crowd of people each night is pretty rad. I normally am a very stressed person, but for some reason when I’m on the road, I’ve gotten really good at just rolling with the punches. I’m still so new to touring, but so far I’m obsessed with it. I would do it year round.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

U: I guess my biggest songwriting “technique” is to just treat writing as a venting session. When I first moved to LA, writing every day was like therapy to me, so however I was feeling that day, I would put that feeling into a song. I think the coolest thing about music is that it allows us to be vulnerable in such a creative way, so I really try to hang on to that honestly and vulnerability when I’m writing.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

U: Weezer’s “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” has always been one of my favorite songs. I grew up listening to them all the time, and the songwriting of that song is just crazy. I feel like Weezer really evolved pop/alternative music and writing, so I take a lot of inspiration from their first two albums.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

U: All women in any industry face a lot of challenges on the daily, unfortunately. I work in a part of the music industry that involves working with a lot of rad creative people who are very aware of the power of women in music. Sometimes though, I feel like people think that a young female artist who writes her own songs can’t actually write, and they think it’s always cowriters or producers doing the work, and the artist just putting her name on it. That’s not the case most of the time. Some of the best writers/producers/artists I have ever worked with are women. We’re definitely headed in the right direction with gender equality in music, but I think we still have a ways to go.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

U: I would absolutely love to collaborate with Kevin Parker. Tame Impala has always one of my favorite bands, and I really think he’s a fucking genius. It would be a dream to work with him.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

U: I wish social media wasn’t such an essential part of starting a career as an artist. It’s frustrating that sometimes we find ourselves looking up an artist’s Instagram before actually listening to their music. We’re not meant to be social media influencers. We’re musicians. I love social media and am so thankful for what it has done for artists like myself, but it

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August 12th, 2019

Oh Rose

There are many times where seeing a band live tells more of the story than just hearing a song. Oh, Rose must be seen live. This 4 piece band from Olympia, Washington defies definition. Going through the checklist they are: pop punk, psychedelic, alt-rock, and more. On stage, they writhe and come to the edge of the stage. They make you remember why music is always better live.

Olivia Rose heads Oh, Rose as they tour with their album While My Father Sleeps. The album includes the singles, “25, Alive”

Rose defies the norms as well. Her vocals are vibrant and staticy. FEMMUSIC was honored to speak to Rose about her life and the album. For info visit https://www.facebook.com/ohrosemusic/

 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making While My Father Sleeps?

OR: During the making of While My Father Sleeps I experienced two major losses. The first was my mother, who passed away in January of 2017 and who I pay homage to with the album title. The second was my grandmother, who died a year later. It felt like starting from square one after each loss. Maybe the biggest challenge was allowing myself the time to grieve, knowing that these songs and my bandmates would be there when I was ready.

FEMMUSIC: What lessons have you learned from making Seven & That Do Now See that you applied in this album?

OR: We recorded this album twice, the first time in Anacortes at the Unknown in June of 2017. It was our first time not recording ourselves and overall it was an incredible experience during a time that was very difficult for me, personally. I truly believe great art can come from great pain. However, this was not the case with those recordings. I was in a state of grief I didn’t want to admit to. It came through in the music and it freaked me out. It was hard to move forward. At some point, we knew we needed to re-record, and figured we should at least try it ourselves like we had done with both That Do Now See and Seven. We set up in our practice space and took our time. It worked.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Park the Van Records. What made you decide to release this album with them? What did they bring to the project?

OR: I was aware of Chris Watson through Friendship Fever, a smaller label that friends of ours were on and spoke highly of. It turns out he had been listening to our music for years before returning to Park The Van and reaching out to us. I think there is something to be said about someone who has admired your work from afar coming to you at the right time. Joining with them was about the combining of two foundations. We are very excited to build with them.

FEMMUSIC: I saw you live recently and I was struck by the song “Consent.” Could you tell me how that song came about?

OR: That song is called You’ve Got Fire and I usually premise it in a live performance by letting the audience know it is about consent. Because it is. It is about how sexy and cool it is to talk about sex with your partner. Feeling heavy hot for you, tell me all the things that you would do with someone. Really wanna get with you, tell me all the things that you would do as lovers. You’ve got fire, you’ve got heart and soul. That is fundamentally it.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

OR: Songs usually come from bits of conversation and interactions I have that inspired some form of inner dialogue or song bite. I think that is true for most artists. It’s a rush to write it down before it’s gone. A lot of voice memos of melodies and me talking to myself in bathrooms, or walking from one place to another. Finding space to translate to a fully realized song comes over time, usually alone in my bedroom. Then, when a song is in a place I feel good about, I bring it to the band and we build around it.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

OR: There is an old gospel song called “I’m Free” that inspired me to audition for a solo in my 6th grade choir class. It taught me to sing and is one I always go back to when I need a reminder.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

OR: Potentially the biggest challenge I’ve faced as a woman in the music industry is being a woman in the music industry. This often takes the form of male sound techs messing with your pedal settings during soundcheck, directing all questions to your male bandmates or second guessing what to wear during a performance for fear of not being taken seriously. On a larger scale it’s scenes and industry that protect sexual predators and silence victims. Listen to the people around you. Do some digging when it comes to who you are working with and if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

OR: Damien Jurado. I want to sing with him and become his pen pal. I would love to tour with Sharon Van Etten and talk to her about therapy, life in and outside of music and the color blue. I feel seeing her perform every night would inspire me.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

OR: I wish that these systems sometimes felt easier to navigate for independent artists. Signing to a label or management team or whatever does not equal instant success nor should you necessarily want it to. The whole industry side of music is pretty new to me, but so far no one has managed to change my voice or my story. I will let you know if that changes.

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July 22nd, 2019

Jackie Mendoza

Underground Music Showcase

Jackie Mendoza

Denver, CO

July 26-29, 2019

https://www.undergroundmusicshowcase.com/

https://www.facebook.com/jackiemendozaaa/

Jackie Mendoza is a newcomer with a world of experience. She has lived in California, New York and Mexico and her songs are both is Spanish and English. Her music is hard to classify in a good way. It is indie pop, Latin pop, EDM influenced, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Mendoza played with Mint Field and Gingerslys in the past. She is now out with her debut EP LuvHz which features songs like “De Legos”, “Seahorse” and “mucho Mas”

We look forward to seeing Medoza at the Underground Music Showcase.

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making LuvHz?

JM: The biggest challenge I faced when making LuvHz was receiving negative feedback from labels and being turned down. I was told to change my sound and to go in a different musical direction. There were times when I believed this is what I had to do in order to release my EP and it stunted my writing process and made me feel really insecure about my music. I decided to stay true to myself and to my music and I kept writing and producing. I was lucky to be connected with Rusty Santos and he helped me co-produce the EP. A lot of new ideas flowed in the studio and I didn’t have to compromise my sound; he helped make it better.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Rusty Santos. How did you meet? What did he bring to the project?

JM: I met Rusty through my manager, Walter. We were looking for people to help co-produce the EP and we reached out to Rusty and he liked what I was doing and knew we could make something cool together. At first we were working at a distance (he was in LA and I was in New York) and would send stems back and forth which made the progress a little slow. I decided to go to LA and we finished the EP and other songs in 4 days. He’s been working with a lot of Latinx artists, mostly reggaeton, and he brought a lot of that to the project. He brought a nice urban edge to the songs and he encouraged me to express and execute the weird ideas I had in my head.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Luminelle Records. What made you decide to sign with them? How have they been to work with?

JM: Luminelle is a great label to work with. Their enthusiasm for my music is what made me want to work with them. Most labels were expecting straight-forward pop or dance music and Luminelle embraced the experimentality and mash-up of genres in the EP. Their roster of artists was also a big sell for me. They’ve put out music that I love and still listen to every day. It’s exciting to work with a label that cares about an artist’s growth and expression.

Jackie Mendoza EP

FEMMUSIC: How did your work in Mint Field & Gingerlys prepare you to be a solo artist?

JM: I was in Gingerlys for about 4 years and it was extremely formative and it taught me a lot about writing music, working with other musicians, and performing live. We played so many shows I lost count! We released our debut album with Topshelf Records and Babe City Records and I learned about working with labels, release campaigns, and touring. Playing those few festivals with Mint Field was really exciting; I had never played music festivals before that. I loved going to Tijuana to practice and learn the songs and playing with my friends.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

JM: My songwriting technique varies and is always different. If I suddenly have a melody pop into my head, I’ll start from there and work from there. I’ll use my song “Seahorse” as an example. The vocal melody and lyrics for the first verse were the first thing I thought of. At the time, I was taking a few guitar lessons here and there so I decided to give my new skills a shot. I made the beat for the song, recorded guitar and bass, synths, and recorded vocals as soon as I finished writing lyrics. It would take a few days to think about the song and come back to it with new ideas and a fresh ear. Overall, it took about 2 weeks to complete the song.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

JM: I think if I have to choose ONE song, it would be “Space is Only Noise If You Can See” by Nicolas Jaar. When I first heard it I thought it was the greatest song. It was creepy, weird, but made me want to dance at the same time. It’s also dream-like and abstract; which I love.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

JM: I think sometimes women have to speak louder to be heard…both literally and metaphorically. If you’re a woman in music, you’re automatically known as “a woman in music” and people expect you to look and sound a certain way. I think if I released this EP as a man, I would have gotten more praise for the unpredictability instead of being criticized for the “lack of ear-worms” and pop structures. I overcome these challenges by supporting other women in music and staying true to the music I like to make regardless of my gender.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

JM: I would love to tour with Nicolas Jaar because I would get to see him perform several nights in a row and I know I wouldn’t get sick of it. If I could collaborate with anyone right now, it would be Juana Molina because she is so experimental and her music and her musical style is so unique and loopy.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

JM: I would make the industry more inclusive. Groups of people who are underrepresented need to be given equal opportunities 

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July 19th, 2019
CLAVVS
Underground Music Showcase Preview

Clavvs

Amber Renee

Underground Music Showcase Preview

Denver, CO

July 26-28, 2019

https://www.undergroundmusicshowcase.com/

Clavvs has been on our radar for sometime. This NY duo, formerly of Atlanta, has an evocative synth style and lyrics that are woven from gold. Clavvs is Amber Renee & Graham Marsh. Renee comes from a background of musical theater and Marsh has produced Grammy winning albums. They recently released the No Savoirs EP and the track “Devils I Know”
 

They have played SXSW, Canadian Music Week and other festivals that FEMMUSIC covers. We were honored to talk to one half of the band, Amber Renee. For more info visit https://www.clavvs.com/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making the No Saviors EP?

AR: Creating a thing is always inherently challenging. It takes work to pull something out of nothing. It’s kind of weird and wonderful that way. This time around Graham (the other half of CLAVVS) and I were much better about self-editing and abandoning ideas that we didn’t both love. Maybe our biggest challenge was being mindful enough to know when the songs were truly finished. It’s easy to second guess yourself and pick at things too much.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about “Devils I Know.” How did that song develop?

AR: “Devils I Know” was one of the last songs that we finished for this project. It came together all in one moment while we were tracking a different song entirely (one that we ultimately scrapped). I suddenly had the idea to try several new melodies I had been working on over the same track. We tried it out, and it ended up working really well.

FEMMUSIC: As I was prepping this I see your next show is back in Atlanta on July 17. Tell me about the decision to move to Brooklyn. How has it affected you and your music?

AR: Moving to Brooklyn was the best decision we ever made. We love Atlanta, but we hit a ceiling there and couldn’t see a way forward. We landed in Brooklyn after we fell in love with the city when we’d play shows here. It’s a special place with a really creative energy. I think the spaces you inhabit influence your creative decisions in a mysterious sort of way, so in that way, Brooklyn has definitely had an impact on my songwriting.

FEMMUSIC: I noticed you have a background in musical theater. I was curious if you take a persona for live shows and how you incorporate it in the band.

AR: Musical theater was the first way I was really able to perform on stage. It challenged me to get past a lot of my performance anxiety, but I don’t think it really influenced the way I perform now. I don’t put on a persona for live shows, but there is a certain energy I’m always trying to achieve. Our live shows are about dancing and being with friends, (and hopefully!) they’re a place where people can just be themselves and enjoy the music.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

AR: Writing songs is a cool sort of magic that I can’t fully explain. When I stumble onto a song, it’s usually when I’m in the middle of doing something else. A piece of a melody or lyric will just appear in my mind, and if I’m lucky, I’ll record it before it floats away. A lot of my songwriting has become about following the ideas I love and letting go of the ones I don’t. I’ll work on a song for weeks, fine tuning each lyric and melody, making sure I absolutely love it, and then I’ll show it to Graham. From there, we both do our best to get out of the way of the song. I’ve found that I can’t really force my will onto the music without ruining it.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

AR: Ooh that’s so hard! Probably “A Better Son/Daughter” from Rilo Kiley’s The Execution of All Things. It’s such a brutally honest and vulnerable song about getting through the hard moments. It’s so human. Listening to that song in high school was the first time I ever felt truly heard and understood by a songwriter.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

AR: I think it’s more of a constant thing you learn to navigate, because I haven’t overcome it. Our band is regularly overlooked because I have a woman’s voice and point-of-view. A label head once told us he couldn’t sign us because they had already signed three female-fronted acts that year, as if “female-fronted” is a genre that might go out of fashion. Ultimately, women have to fight harder to occupy the same spaces that are given to men and we have a smaller window of time to do it, because ageism is still a thing. It’s wildly frustrating, especially when you think of all of the incredible voices who’ve never been heard as a result. But it doesn’t stop me from making music or from encouraging other young women to pursue it. We need more women (and especially WOC) artists, producers, engineers, music supervisors, managers, etc. That’s the only way anything will change.

FEMMUSIC: Who would you most like to collaborate with or tour with? Why?

AR: Ooh this list is long! I think our top pick for collaboration right now would be Cautious Clay. His music is so incredible and I bet touring with him would be really fun, but the ultimate dream tour would probably be with Santigold.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

AR: I would legislate streaming platform payouts. The percentages need to be raised, and not just once, but regularly, so rates are adjusted for inflation and reflect the growth of each respective service. Call me a radical, but I believe artists deserve fair payment for their work.

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July 17th, 2019

Coolies

Kim Shattuck

Melanie Vammen

Palmyra Delran

The Coolies are the newest supergroup and they are releasing a special 10” EP to battle ALS. Kim Shattuck and Melanie Vanmen come from both The Muffs and the Pandoras. Palmyra Delran is from the Friggs. All 90’s bands that helped shatter stereotypes of women in music. Within The Coolies the three are also transformed to Kim is Kimba Coolie, Melanie becomes Melimba Coolie and Palmyra is Palimba Coolie

Now the three have come together to take on a bigger challenge, ALS. All of the proceeds from the 10” will go to the ALS Foundation. FEMMUSIC was happy to speak to these legends about the 10”, ALS and how the music industry has changed. For info visit   https://m.facebook.com/ItstheCoolies/     To pre-order the 10” visit https://geni.us/TheCoolies

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making The Coolies EP?

Kim: Not really a challenge because it was the easiest way to record ever.

Melanie: Just so amazing and easy recording with these badass chicks!

Palmyra: These days, you can work together from anywhere. It would have been super fun to be in the same room – although we would probably be laughing most of the time!

FEMMUSIC: Tell me how The Coolies came about. What made you want to start the group?

Melanie: We are all best friends. Kim said, “I wish we could be a band” and Palmyra said, “well…” and just like that we became The Coolies!

Kim: I posted an Instagram picture of Paula and her bare butt. Palmyra commented and called it her coolie. Ah the perfect name for our band!

Palmyra: We formed in 3 seconds!

FEMMUSIC: What made you decide to work with Wicked Cool Records on this project? Tell me about the choice of format for a 10″ with the 3D glasses.

Kim: The label is the top shelf, by all that they’ve been doing! I’m totally impressed by the way they are!

Melanie: Wicked Cool are the coolest! The idea of the Archie’s style cover in 3D is just too much fun!

Palmyra: My most recent record was released on Wicked Cool, so I was already thrilled being part of the family. They are the coolest group of people over there, and I knew that they would totally get The Coolies! They have a fantastic in-house illustrator, Louis Arzonico who did the cover and he thought it was essential to include the glasses!

Coolies Album Cover

FEMMUSIC: Why are you donating all proceeds from the album to the ALS Association? Who do you know who has been touched by ALS?

Kim: It runs on my dad’s side of the family and it’s the one that doesn’t have a cure where you’re rotting until kingdom come. It’s hard to believe that they have been struggling to find a cure!

Melanie: This is a horrific disease no one should ever have to endure. I think if you haven’t been close to it, lots of people don’t understand what someone goes through. It needs a cure now and we want to help!

Palmyra: We’re committed to bringing awareness to ALS and raising money to find a cure.

FEMMUSIC: You all came of age in the music business in the 1990’s. How do you think the business has improved for women since then?

Kim: I think it’s better for everyone!

Melanie: Honestly having been in an all-girl band the Pandoras and in the Muffs, I’ve never felt that we’ve been treated differently because we’re girls. We’ve always spoken our minds and done what we want. I’ve never felt intimidated by anyone!!

Palmyra: Unfortunately, there will always be people who think it’s a novelty. So silly!

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

Kim: “She Said” by The Valentines. Beautiful voice, cool chord changes, and it’s not long.

Melanie: “You and Your Sister” by Chris Bell. Just so beautiful.

Palmyra: It changes all the time, but today I’ll say “You Don’t Care” by Arthur Alexander. Badass guitar, gorgeous voice. If you ask tomorrow, it will be the Monkees – “Love To Love,” or something.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

Kim: I’m already doing it with The Coolies!

Melanie: Alex Chilton would have been a dream come true! I feel so honored to be able to make music with Kim and Palmyra.

Palmyra: I’ll have to agree with my gals – The Coolies! Or maybe Ray Davies, Steve Marriott. Debbie Harry any day!

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

Kim: I would like to see less shitty, generic hip-hop!

Melanie: Oh the usual poseurs!

Palmyra: I wish it was more about music

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

July 15th, 2019
Troi Irons

Troi Irons started young and has matured. She was signed to a major label early and faced the horrors of the industry. She is now getting ready to release her self-produced album Lost Angels. The album is a journey of self from the first single “Lost Angels” to the final track “Home.”

Irons is known for a spectacularly aggressive style. She is blunt and straightforward, as she is in our interview. She is also an artist to watch. For info visit https://www.facebook.com/troiirons/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making the album Lost Angels?

TI: The biggest challenge was finding the time. I was working several jobs and I had to make the decisions to cut them out and trust the process. I had to set my life up so that I could prioritize my music. And that was only by the grace of God. It took some real time and sacrifice as well but I stopped surviving. Now I’m learning to live.

FEMMUSIC: The album is a journey from “Lost Angels” to “Home.” What challenges did it present songwriting and songchoice in forming the final product? Were there songs you rejected that you wish you could have brought in?

TI: I produced and wrote the whole thing so the final product is exactly how I wanted it. That’s very important to me. The story flowed because the album came naturally over the course of years of my life. My real challenge was getting the songs to flow together sonically. So when I went into production mode, my biggest focus was sound choice and instrumentation.

FEMMUSIC: You started in this industry early. What benefits do you have by being an independent artist? Would you sign to a label again?

TI: I don’t think I would sign to a label again. I said that before, then I signed to Def Jam. This time I mean it. Labels don’t understand how to be small or how to grow. They develop top down. There’s no longevity unless you’re already famous or just really lucky. Being independent allows me to stop that emotional rollercoaster of the “bunch of money, big opportunity – STOP and waste away in your room while they pass an idea through 8 levels of command – bunch of money, everybody starfuck – STOP and don’t release music for a year.” As an independent artist, I get to slow burn. I’m like a soy candle that eventually burns the barn down rather than a single firework that only leaves a burnt smell.

FEMMUSIC: You’ve worked with other artists on their projects. When it is your own project, how do you approach it differently?

TI: With someone else’s art, my goal is always to elevate them and mold to what they’re doing. I shut up and listen. When it’s my project, I expect everyone to shut up because I’m not gonna listen, haha.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

TI: I wait for the train to hit me then I hop on.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

TI: Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C Sharp Minor, Op. 3, No. 2. It’s grand and dark and beautiful… Timeless. I don’t know if I’ll ever make something that great but I try every time.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

TI: Eh, I think there are pros and cons. Pros is everyone wants to talk to me and hear my music – guys never get the aux cord. Cons – I have to fight to be seen as a person sometimes. I shot this video with Interscope/Ultra for this EDM collaboration and the director told the male actor to grab my thigh and kiss me. I said no, I wasn’t comfortable and the director said “we’re gonna get my vision!” Then he pulled me aside and whined about my attitude when I wouldn’t look him in the eyes or talk to him. He basically wanted to watch me get fucked and have me look at him doe-eyed while it was happening. Then he told the label I was being difficult. I’ll never forget that director. The way I overcame was I created my own world. I no longer enter other people’s spaces. I produce my own music, direct my own videos, style my own shoots, run my own label. If anyone wants to come into my space now, they follow my rules.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

TI: I would love to tour with Halsey. I think she’s such a great performer and presence – watching that show every night would grow me in ways.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

TI: I’m not sure if I would change anything. Music is making more profit in this era than it ever has before. Artists have direct access to their fans and the ability to have full creative control. At this point, it’s survival of the fittest. Evolve and you can really be living the dream.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

July 15th, 2019

Anna Akana

When one looks at Anna Akana’s resume it is filled with the envy of every artist. She is a Emmy nominated actress, producer, filmmaker, writer and musician. She is an internet star with a YouTube channel with over 2 million subscribers. She been in Ant Man, Comedy Central’s Corporate, and star, executive producer and co-creator of Youth & Consequences.

She is releasing Casualty later this year. The album is about hope and overcoming life’s hardships. Akana is releasing a video for every track on the album. They include “Intervention”, “Alone Together” and “Pretty Girls Don’t Cry.”

For info visit  https://www.facebook.com/AnnaAkana/

 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Casualty?

AA: Making it was the easy part. It was pure joy and creativity and a cathartic experience. The anxiety that comes with releasing music and diving into a new art form has been pretty difficult. I’m very anxious to see how people respond to seeing me in a more vulnerable light.

FEMMUSIC: Let’s talk about “Intervention.” What was the biggest challenge making the song?

AA: I’d decided to get sober after realizing I was developing a physical dependency on alcohol. The song was a sort of promise to myself to get my shit together. Though I didn’t feel as empowered at the time when I wrote it, I knew that if I put it on paper I’d have to stick to it. So that leap was a bit terrifying.

FEMMUSIC: On the same line on “Intervention”; What was the biggest challenge making the video?

 

AA: I actually reshot the entire video. The first attempt was in August 2018, and I just wasn’t happy with the final result. I knew I could do better, so I ate the cost of the video and completely redid it.

FEMMUSIC: What made you decide to do a video for every song on the album?

AA: I come from a visual medium. Filmmaking has been a craft I’ve been honing for the last decade. For me, I always felt like my experience with the music video would make a break or song. I loved the idea that I could elevate everything sonically & visually by bringing what is already my dedicated art to my newfound passion.

FEMMUSIC: Casualty is an album of hope. What songs on the album most describe the journey to get there?

AA: The ballad of the same name, Casualty, is about having integrity and dignity when someone you love leaves you. It’s about knowing your value even when someone else can no longer see it. Though I didn’t feel it at the time, I knew that someday I was going to be okay. Maybe even be grateful that this person left my life. And now I can truthfully say that I 100% stand behind that song and feel the message it’s communicating.

FEMMUSIC: You’re involved in a number of other projects. Why was it important to make this album? What was most surprising to you in making it?

AA: Making art is how I process any darkness or difficulty in my life. At the time that the album was being written, I was going through a terrible period of depression and suicidal ideation. I’ve struggled on and off with chronic depression in my life, and it was a particularly hard one. It was important to me to be able to channel that pain into an album, and into art, so that I could get it the hell out of my body haha. The most surprising thing to me was how much I truly enjoyed it. It was so fun. Nothing felt tortuous about the process.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

AA: I’ll usually approach my producers/co-writers Shayon Daniels & Nicci Funicelli with a concept for a song, maybe a few lyrics, and reference songs for the vibes I want sonically. Shayon builds out the track and we all work together on a melody. I like to come to the table with a first pass at the lyrics and then hear what they think is working/not working.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

AA: “Blackbird” is one I often listen to when I’m sad. It’s such a beautiful song of hope. Every time I hear it, I’m immediately lifted into a better place. It makes me believe that I can fly, that humanity and life are beautiful, and that no matter how scared or lonely you might feel, you can change that at any time.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

AA: I’m fortunate that as of right now, I have yet to face any. I come from the male-dominated spaces of stand up comedy, self-run businesses & filmmaking. So maybe I’ve just gotten used to taking up my space in the platforms I’m in.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

AA: I’d love to do a song with Lizzo. Her messages of female empowerment and self-love truly resonate with me!

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

AA: I’d love to see more variety on the radio. I get there’s a whole hierarchy and political system going on there, but with platforms like Spotify and Pandora and apple music allowing users to find new music on a regular basis, you’d think radio would catch up.

 

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

July 15th, 2019

Tessa

Denver, CO

July 26-28, 2019

https://www.undergroundmusicshowcase.com/

https://tessa-violet.com/
Tessa Violet was born on the internet. In 2007 she started as Meekakitty and exploded. In 2014 she released her first album Maybe Trapped Mostly Troubled. These days she has been touring and releasing a bunch of singles including “Bad Ideas”, “Crush”, and “I like (the idea of you.)” She has a creative songwriting style mixed with a playful side. Look for Tessa Violet at this year’s Underground Music Showcase.

FEMMUSIC:  Can you describe your songwriting technique?

TV: I’ve always felt that songwriting to me was like digging up dinosaur bones, that is to say the song (or dinosaur) already exists. Your job isn’t to make something from nothing, it’s to tap in to this sometimes head/heart/gut sometimes spiritual experience and be the conduit that brings the song in to the world. It’s already there inside of me, i just need to find and assemble all of it. On a more technical level: I start on guitar or piano and I write lyrics and melody together. Then when they’re finished (or mostly finished), I bring them to Seth and we work together to produce them!

FEMMUSIC: So far you’ve been releasing singles. Are there plans for an EP or album?

TV: Yeah! I’m releasing a few EPs then eventually all of them on one album.

FEMMUSIC: What did you learn making Maybe Trapped Mostly Troubled that you apply when making music today?

TV: It’s a little hard for me to separate the experience of MTMT from just the experience of exploring music for the first time. I’ve been really lucky that the first producer I ever worked with, Seth Earnest, has been the one I’ve stuck with all along. We also started working together almost right when I started exploring writing so it’s a whole mesh of new and good experiences.

FEMMUSIC: It’s been over a decade since you emerged as Meekakitty. How have you changed? How has your music changed?

TV: I wrote my first song in 2013. I think since then I’ve just become a more honed songwriter, I have a better innate sense of what works and why. As for how I’ve changed personally in the last twelve years… I mean?

FEMMUSIC: What goals musically do you have?

TV: At my core I just want to make music that is genuine to my experience and my taste. Writing is still very personal for me and is often an experience of trying to give words and a soundtrack to an experience I want to better understand (when it’s heavy) or relive (when it’s light or beautiful). I guess i want that to continue to be true. Beyond that I want to uplift, encourage and value people, both the people I work with behind the scenes and my fans who come to shows. I’d love for my shows to be a break for people from the heavier parts of life, an opportunity to come together with other like minded people and celebrate live music, both in sadness and in glee.

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making”I Like The Idea Of You?”

TV: Dude the bridge evaded me forever on this song. I think I had like five different bridges for this song in all its iterations, but none of them ever felt right until I finally got to the one you hear on the record! Sometimes writing is a test of perseverance. We actually cut the song from the record in the summer, then added back on the following winter.

 

 

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

TV: Just one?????? Maybe…. “Some Nights” by Fun? I love Jack Antonoff, I’ve followed him from project to project.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

TV: I don’t think I’ve really had to face too much prejudice in my career. Men ask me if I write my songs a lot and I always wonder if male artists get asked that as much as me haha, but that’s pretty much the extent of it.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

TV: Jack Antonoff. He just seems like a very special artist to me, his music feels like he makes choices that please him and it’s refreshing to listen to something so genuine. also just like, flat out excellent haha

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

TV: Maybe a higher split for the songwriters on song sales?

Posted in Interviews, Special Features Tagged with: ,

June 14th, 2019
Summer Cannibals

Summer Cannibals at Cobalt Studios in Portland, OR, March 2019. Photo by Jason Quigley.

A personal note. I’ve seen Summer Cannibals 3 times this year opening for Cursive, Hop Along & Slothrust. I’ve seen the band many times over the years. These three times I saw a band energized. At the Cursive show the new album was being mastered. When we got to the Slothrust show the album had a title and a release date. The album is called Can’t Tell Me No and comes out June 28 on Tiny Engines.

Summer Cannibals is a 4 piece band from Portland who includes Jessica Bourdreaux, Cassi Blum, Devin Shirley & Ethan Butman. The band has always been a cross of pop and punk. They’ve released 3 previous albums: No Makeup, Show Us Your Mind and Full of It. Full Of It was released on Kill Rock Stars. Bourdreaux has also released solo material. The video for the title track of Can’t Tell Me No came out recently

Can’t Tell Me No has a dark history. The band has recorded another album and had to walk away from it. Instead of dwelling on it, they jumped into the studio and self produced the new album. They also came to a new label, Tiny Engines.

Adversity has made Summer Cannibals better. There live show is raucous fun with humor and a wildly acrobatic Cassi Blum spurring Bourdreaux on. They will be having their overdue headlining tour this summer, and we do not expect to see them as an opener (except in stadiums) after that. For info visit http://www.summercannibals.com/

FEMMUSIC: Normally I begin by asking what was the biggest challenge making the new album. This album is new across the board from new label, self production and walking away from a finished project. Can you tell me why you walked away from the other finished album and why it was important to make this one?

JB: I’ve been trying to spare people the gritty details of why exactly we had to trash the first record but to put it very simply…we didn’t have a choice. I was being threatened and it was a bad situation and the band couldn’t move forward putting out and promoting a record that was in any way attached to a person we all viewed as predatory & manipulative. It was important though for us not to waste any time because I didn’t want to let that person take anything else from me or the band. I wanted to write about the situation and be able to talk about it as openly as possible while the emotions and feelings were still fresh.

FEMMUSIC: The album has a theme of independence from the title track “Can’t Tell Me No” to “Behave.” How did the songs form for the album?

JB: Quickly. Hah. There wasn’t time for second guessing so that meant we had to really trust our instincts with this album and I think it is reflected in the record. Everything about this album is focused and direct and there’s not a lot of bullshit and that’s honestly how the entire process of making it was as well.

CTMN_SC_albumart

FEMMUSIC: I have to ask you about Cassi. She is an amazing addition to the band. How did you meet? How did she end up joining the band?

JB: We met online! Hah. I made a post on Facebook looking for other femme/non binary/queer engineers and someone tagged Cassi. We met up for coffee and hit it off really fast and easy. I checked out their punk band and was super impressed and so when it was time to bring in a new guitarist I immediately thought of Cassi. We started working in my studio together co-engineering albums around the same time.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Tiny Engines. You were previously on Kill Rock Stars. What made you decide to do this album with Tiny Engines? What did they bring to the project?

JB: We’ve always kind of been searching for our place in the industry and I’ve been longing for a greater sense of community. With the move to Tiny Engines we were introduced and welcomed into a really diverse, young and exciting group of bands who I really admire and am a fan of so that was huge for me when linking up with them. I think it was also important, especially considering the sensitive nature of this album and its subject matter, to move out of the Pacific Northwest sphere.

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge production-wise making Can’t Tell Me No (the album)?

JB: Time constraints mostly. Cass and I had to work a lot of 16 hour days and were pretty exhausted but all in all we didn’t meet too many challenges.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

JB: I generally like to write alone but on this album Cassi ended up helping flesh out a lot of the songs, lyrically especially. Usually I write a bass line first and then record drums. After that I’ll start working on vocal melodies and lyrics and then guitars come last. Then I’ll send that demo to the band and the song will evolve from there. But we’re definitely trying to move more into a different technique to start making the albums a more fully collaborative thing.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

JB: I truly have no idea there are way too many songs and not one I could sing out. Sorry!

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

JB: Patti Smith. We took the band name from one of her songs. She’s probably my biggest inspiration and definitely my hero cause of her ability to be so known and remain so herself throughout her entire career.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

JB: I’d love if we could actually make money from streaming sites. Or would be cool if people started buying music again. But that’s not happening and that’s ~cool~

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,

June 14th, 2019

nightjacket

Nightjacket is a Los Angeles 3 piece dreampop band featuring Holland Belle, Jordan Wiggins and Louie Schultz. The band released their debut album Beauty In The Dark on May 24. It is a different creature from their Eternal Phase EP. The album features tracks like “Waking Up with You”

FEMMUSIC had a recent e-mail interview with Holland Belle about the album. For info visit https://www.facebook.com/Nightjacket/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Beauty in the Dark?

HB: The hardest thing was keeping our heads in the game throughout the process. There were so many ups and downs, so many times it felt like we would never finish. But at the end of the day, no matter what you’re feeling, you’ve got to show up and do your job- that’s the only way to make it happen.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about working with Adam Lasus. How did you meet? How was he to work with?

HB: Adam had worked with our bandmate Louie Schultz (guitar/keys/co-writer) on some previous albums. We all instantly clicked with him. Adam has a healing presence, just being in the room with him made me feel focused and relaxed. He’s chill as hell, and absolutely the best at creating wicked guitar tones. He’s a pro at his profession, but also open to the ideas of everyone in the room. Love him!

FEMMUSIC: I’m very curious about producing the album in multiple studios. What made you decide to do that? How did you choose the studios?

HB: It’s pretty typical these days to record your drums in a big studio and do all the other elements somewhere else- it’s less expensive and allows you time to experiment. We were all over the place with this album, sometimes at Adams place in the valley, sometimes at Louie’s little spot in Eagle Rock, sometimes in Jordan’s bedroom in Los Feliz. We basically made it work wherever we could.

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest difference making Beauty in the Dark vs Eternal Phase EP?

HB: The scale of it. Eternal Phase was a collection of demos Jordan Wiggins (guitar/co-writer) created. He found me and I came in to add vocals and play around with the lyrics. We did the whole thing in his bedroom on a laptop. With Beauty we had Adam and Louie in the mix- who are both masters at creating tone and dimension.

nightjacket-beauty in the dark

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

HB: The songs on this album are collaborations, so it’s different from my solo process. Most of the songs came from Jordan first- he would come to me with the idea and I would add lyrics and develop the melody if the idea wasn’t concrete.

When I’m writing alone I start with a chord I like, then develop the entire song in flow- chords, melody, and lyrics at the same time.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

HB: The answer to that is always changing. Today the answer is Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”- why? The balance of unique chords changes and creative melody- while always sounding at ease. There’s so much artistry there. And the lyrics….full of wisdom. Every time I listen I hear the song a different way.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

HB: I don’t think my path as a woman is any more or less challenging than anyone else’s. My mindset is- if you anticipate that you’re going to be treated differently, then you’ve already shot yourself in the foot. You’ll create the thing you fear. I would say- be yourself, and trust your judgment. Don’t do things you don’t want to do.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

HB: That’s hard, there are so many. Beck will always be up there, St. Vincent, Josh Tillman. I like artists who get weird with it.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

HB: Nothing. Cuz I can’t. I can only change myself, so if there’s a problem in my life, I focus on that.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,

June 14th, 2019

SHAED Summer 2019 Smaller - Shervin Lainez

Shaed –  Chelsea Lee

Westword Music Showcase

Denver, CO

June 29, 2019

https://www.westwordshowcase.com/

 
If you haven’t heard of Shaed recently you haven’t been listening. Their song “Trampoline” has been rocketing up the charts after being featured in an Apple MacBook Air commercial. The band’s recent release is the Melt EP and includes songs like “Thunder”
 
https://shaed.lnk.to/SHAEDISOU
 

Shaed is coming to the 25th Anniversary Westword Music Showcase on June 29, 2019. This showcase is filled with local bands, as well as national and international headliners including CHVCHES.

FEMMUSIC had a recent e-mail interview with Chelsea Lee about the band’s amazing journey.

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Melt?

CL: I think one of the biggest challenges was choosing what songs made the most sense to release for this chapter of our careers. We had written so many songs for Melt and wanted to make sure we were creating a cohesive EP. We ended up choosing the songs that best reflected our musical journey at the time.

FEMMUSIC: How did you approach making Melt differently from Just Wanna See?

CL: Just Wanna See was a collection of some of the first songs we had written together – we weren’t living with each other at the time so the songwriting process was a bit all over the place. Max and Spencer would send me tracks, or bits and pieces of songs, and I would try to contribute in whatever way I could from afar. Now we all live in a house right outside of DC with a studio, so it makes writing so much more fun and convenient. Obviously, our songwriting has grown and evolved over the years as well.

ISOU_Thunder Cover Art

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about “Trampoline.” How did the song form in the band? How has the song’s breakout from Apple changed your lives?

Trampoline was the second song we wrote in our house. It started with us watching old home videos of Max and Spencer and there was one clip of them where they are about 3 or 4 jumping on a trampoline. This sparked the first lyric – “I’ve been having dreams, jumping on a trampoline” and from there we tried to create an ethereal song about embracing your fears.

Apple was a huge, huge blessing for us – the commercial was seen all over the world, so it definitely expanded our audience. The commercial has opened so many doors for us – “Trampoline” is doing really well at alternative and pop radio and we’re playing almost every single festival this year, including Summer Sonic in Japan, so it has been amazing.

FEMMUSIC: I’ve heard you’ve been working with various producers lately. Who would be your ideal choice of a producer to work with? Why?

CL: This is such a tough question because there are so many incredible musicians, producers, mixers, etc. in this industry that we would die to work with. A big one for us is Mark Ronson, because everything he touches is gold.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

CL: Our songwriting is super collaborative. We generally wake up in the morning, have breakfast, and then walk into our studio to write. We generally try to write songs organically with an acoustic guitar or piano and then build out a track from there.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

CL: Again we have been influenced by so many people – Frank Sinatra, HER, Radio Head to name the tiniest few.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

CL: To be honest, I don’t see many challenges. I feel like being a female in this industry is super empowering for me. Being on stage, singing songs that we’ve written together is such an amazing feeling and makes me feel like super woman. I just want to encourage young girls and women to follow their dreams… as corny as that sounds.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

CL: Right now – SZA. Her latest album was on repeat for weeks and was so incredibly inspiring.

FEMMUSIC: What’s one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

CL: Hmmm not sure 🙂

 

Posted in Interviews, Previews Tagged with: , ,

May 31st, 2019

Calliope Musicals

Austin band Calliope Musicals fits their name. They are a hurricane of music and motion. Their music has a kinetic quality all its own. They are releasing Color/Sweat on June 14. The album includes the singles “Fear This Body”, “That’s Why We Dance”, and “Cosmic Poison Arrow.”

The songs reflect on the touring life. FEMMUSIC was able to talk with Carrie Fussel about the new album. For info visit https://www.facebook.com/CalliopeMusicals/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Color/Sweat?

CF: For the first time ever, I would say there weren’t any challenges. We took a very “yes, and” approach to this record, and for us, this was a total adventure. I guess it was challenging at times to lean into our intuitions and trust the path but mostly just lots of fun.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about working with Frenchie Smith. Why did you choose him as producer? What did he bring to the project?

CF: Frenchie Smith is one of the most magical producers I’ve ever met. Working with him is such an adventure. During tracking, his involvement ranged from playing preamps like an instrument, to choosing the perfect Eddie Van Halen photo to inspire a moment, to laying down guitar, to making “Cosmic Poison Arrow” word clouds, to giving us the perfect visualization of how something needed to sound. He would always encourage the weird ideas–smug robots, abundant use of roto toms, jerry bombs–and give us the time to explore them, and he would always encourage and empower us on our instruments. In the mixing phase, he is obviously a master, and brought these songs, that risked being overcrowded, into a beautiful, perfectly arranged space. Beyond that, he has put time and effort into developing our career outside of recording. It’s so inspiring to work with someone who obviously cares so much about what they do and the people they work with.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Rhyme & Reason. What made you decide to work with them on this album?

CF: Emmy’s exciting energy and experience with left of center bands was a big draw for us, and she has lots of big ideas. It’s especially cool to me to be signed to a female owned label, and especially one with such a diverse roster.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about the songs on this album. I understand you wrote a lot while touring, as well as bringing demos to the band. How was that different from Time Owes You Nothing?

CF: My personal songwriting skills grew a lot from TOYN to now, so when we were writing for that album, I was a lot more reliant on the group to create a song, and I didn’t always have a vision for the final version. Now, I am more inclined to envision the final product in the earlier writing phases, and so the ultimate production goals definitely end up shaping how the song is written. New spaces and environments always inspire me, no matter where, and that is definitely one of the things that TOYN and Color/Sweat have in common.  There are songs from New York, Milwaukee, Chicago, Saint Louis, and Barton Springs here in Austin.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

CF: Lots of guess and check, lots of putting my fingers in strange places and following it, lots of crying, lots of poems. I have been doing a lot with my Boss RC 300 pedal. So often I’ll play a progression or little ditty on guitar, record it, and let it play while I close my eyes and sing over it. That way I’m getting the solid structure of the guitar part, but able to explore and take risks with my voice, like in “Up to Eleven.” It’s been a huge factor in my songwriting growth. I also come up with songs while I go for walks, like in “Golden Clouds.”

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

CF: Hmmm. I really have been loving Miya Follick lately. She has a really special way of letting her voice be so free, but it has this insane control. Like it goes totally insane, but within a certain set of boundaries. “Premonitions” was the first one that really grabbed me. The melodies are so unique, yet pop. I love it so much and I’ve probably listened to it over 100 times since the first time I heard it back in February.

Calliope

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

CF: For me, it has been being taken seriously. I work really hard, I lift heavy stuff, I sing through my tears and turn them into power, and yet some people will still look at me and see me as secondary to the dudes in my band. They’ll assume that I’m “traveling around with the band” or selling their merch, or that I don’t know how to operate my gear properly or  that I’m with one of the guys in the band and that’s how I got here. They’re always embarrassed and faced with the origins of own misguided assumptions when they realize that this is a project that I started for which I do most of the back end work. Right now, I overcome it by doing my best work and hoping that peoples’ treatment of me reflects that.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

CF: Ummmmm dream collab would be Jeff Lynne + Calliope Musicals making my long imagined rock opera Girl with Saturn for a Head. Second dream collab is Ecstatic Union from LA–I wanna collab with them on a giant bus where we tour and change the tone of the world using music as our super power.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

CF: I mean, anything I would change about the music industry, would be a change that happened in the world at large, and as a result trickled into the music industry. Women/non-binary folks and women/non-binary folks of color should have the same starting lines as cis-men, and they just don’t. We are expected to be twice as talented to receive the same amount of respect (compensation/praise/placements) as men, and for people of color, that expectation is even greater.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,

May 31st, 2019

 

WHENYOUNG-Press-Shot

London 3 piece Whenyoung is a pop-driven rock band that has been making a mark with their new album Reasons to Dream. The band is Aoife Power on bass and vocals, Niall Burns on guitar and Andrew Flood on drums. They first hit the scene with an EP called Given Up. Their new album was produced by Al O’Connell and features singles “Future”, “Never Let Go”, and “The Others.”

The band has toured in the US and have shared the bill with Shane McGowan and Nick Cave. FEMMUSIC was able to talk with Aoife Power about the new album. For info visit https://www.whenyoungband.com/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge in making Reasons To Dream?

AP: I think the biggest challenge was not the song writing or recording process but actually the mixing. You get so absorbed in the tiniest details and frequencies, we found it mind-numbingly stressful. But when you realise something is going to be final you really want to make sure it’s right. So, that took us a while!

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest difference in making Reasons to Dream vs Given Up EP?

AP: The idea of recording an album is far more daunting I guess. When we did Given Up, it was only 4 tracks which we recorded over a period of time. But Reasons To Dream we did in one sitting pretty much. So I guess the main difference was the amount of songs we had to record, we actually did 15 of them but put 11 on the album.

FEMMUSIC: What made you sign to Virgin EMI? What benefits do you see signing to a label? How are they to work with?

AP: They seemed the most genuine to us, like they really wanted it as much as we did. That was what made us sign. I can only speak from our experience but being with a label has been really helpful for us. You get support and representation in areas of the industry that you haven’t a clue about!!

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about the production on Reasons to Dream. Did you work with a producer? Why or why not?

AP: We did yes. We worked with Al O’Connell (ALALAL). We wanted to truly bring to life the ideas that we had in our heads for the songs and we felt a strong connection with Al, having tried out a track with him. We wanted our album to be the best it could be and for that reason, we went into the studio with him.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

AP: It’s hard to have a formulaic approach to songwriting, sometimes it comes and sometimes it doesn’t. Aoife is the main melody maker so we usually build around a core vocal melody in the studio all together. Some songs come easy but some require coaxing and attention until you get them in the right place.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

AP: Hard to say one definite song. But one that springs to mind is “Blank Generation” by Richard Hell. I remember when we all heard this song, we were together and we were all just like, “what is this!?”. It is perfectly imperfect. The guitar parts are barely in tune, the vocal is ramshackle and it’s all over the place but that’s the good thing about it! The delivery and the meaning of the song is something we love.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

AP: Occasionally I meet people in the industry who expect me to present myself in a certain way because I’m a woman. Archaic thinking and gender role expectations are challenges we have to fight daily in this industry and many other industries.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

AP: Blondie. Because, it’s Blondie!

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

AP: I’d like to see the artists paid more for streaming!

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,

May 7th, 2019

Skating Polly Dec 2018 Pic 3 by Michael Haight - hires color

Kelli Mayo & Peyton Bighorse

Skating Polly has worked with some of the biggest names in punk and alternative including Nina Gordon and Louise Post of Veruca Salt, and Exene Cervenka. Now these release their 5th studio album The Make It All Show produced by Brad Wood. This Oklahoma 3 piece is known for aggressive, imaginative live sets which include switching of instruments. They recently released their newest single “Play House”

The band is on a headlining tour now. This e-mail interview did not specify whether we were speaking to Kelli or Peyton, so all answers are for Skating Polly. For info visit https://www.skatingpolly.com/

FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making The Make It All Show?

SP: Teaching ourselves how to write more vulnerably. Sometimes hiding behind cryptic lyrics can be tempting. It’s easier to say something vague, but it feels better to say what you mean.

FEMMUSIC: You returned to having Brad Wood produce on The Make It All Show. What makes him good to work with? Did you consider other producers?

SP: We didn’t even think about going with another producer! After working with Brad on New Trick we knew we wanted to go back in with him for The Make It All Show. Brad is wonderful to work with. He knows our sound, which is always helpful when recording. He knows his shit, also helpful when recording! And he knows the perfect balance between work and fun. We can hammer out an entire album and still have time to listen to all of his cool stories. It’s almost an entirely stress free environment when we work with him. He is the best!

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about El Camino Records. What made you sign with them? How are they to work with?

SP: We met Matt at El Camino when we worked with Nina and Louise on New Trick. He put it out and it felt super natural to move forward with him when we started working on ‘The Make It All Show’. He’s very pro-artist and all about the music. It’s such a supportive label to be on 😀

FEMMUSIC: The Make It All Show is your 5th studio album. What lessons have you learned in making albums? How has your own approach changed in going to the studio?

SP: I’ve learned that it takes time to make a record. I used to think I was doing something wrong if I couldn’t get everything down in one take. But the more we write and record the more I realize how long it can take sometimes and not everything comes easily.

SP_The Make It All Show_Cover Art

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

SP: It really just depends on the song! The most basic breakdown though, someone writes a piece of a song or sometimes even the entire structure, then we all get to work on it together.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

SP: If I had to pin it down to one song I might say “Oh Bondage Up Yours” by X-Ray Spex. It’s the first song that I heard that made it click in my brain that I could start a band and write my own songs.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

SP: We’ve been lucky for the most part. The people we like to work with are all beyond supportive of us as women and musicians. It can get a little trickier on a smaller scale though. I think most of the time when men treat us poorly at a venue it’s because they are intimidated by young women doing something that they usually see other men doing. I used to think the best way to deal with it was just ignoring people when it happened. I’ve decided recently though that the appropriate response is to stick up for myself and I’ve felt a lot better since I have.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

SP: We played a show with Culture Abuse a couple weeks ago and fell in love with them! We’d love to do a tour with them sometime!!

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

SP: I’d like to see a shift toward a less image, more music focused industry. If artists are in control of their image, and doing fun creative things with it, that’s always cool. But artists being forced to brand themselves as one thing is always limiting.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

May 2nd, 2019

Hannah Grace - Press Shot copy

To hear Hannah Grace you need only listen to the music. It speaks to all. Hannah Grace is a British singer-songwriter signed to Never Fade Records. On May 10 she is releasing her 4th EP called The Bed You Made. The Ep includes the singles “Different Kind of Love”, “With You” and the title track.

Grace’s music includes piano arrangements and an often minimalist approach. Some of that can be traced to her jazz study. FEMMUSIC is honored to have some time to speak with Grace about the new EP.

For info visit http://www.iamhannahgrace.com/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making The Bed You Made EP?

HG: It was hard to have the courage to release these songs. They are the most honest songs I have ever written and it’s both hard but also liberating to know that they are out in the world!

FEMMUSIC: This is your 4th EP. How has your style changed in making them? Do you envision a full album? 

HG: My approach to this was very simple. The production is very stripped back and it’s more about the songs – I felt like I really wanted the lyrics to be the most important part of this project. I’m definitely working towards a full album – I really love working towards a body of work where all of the songs reflect a time in my life. 

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Gabrielle Aplin. You’re signed to her Never Fade Records and she is a frequent collaborator. How did you meet? What have you learned from each other? 

HG: Gabs is one of my closest pals. We met years ago through mutual friends and are both part of a wider community of musicians who work and collaborate with each other all the time. Gabrielle has been a huge inspiration to me both as a songwriter and an artist working hard in the music industry. She has taught me the power of positivity, and believing in yourself.

FEMMUSIC: You’ve worked with Luke Potashnick on previous EP’s. Is he involved in The Bed You Made EP? What does he bring to a project? 

HG: I haven’t worked with Luke on this EP. But I’m working with him on some tracks that will end up being on my album. He’s been a great mentor for a number of years and always brings out the best in my vocal performance!

FEMMUSIC: I noticed in another interview that you studied jazz at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. How has the study of jazz changed your live performance and your music in general? 

HG: Yes! I studied jazz vocal performance for 4 years and it totally changed my perception of singing and helped me to become a more well rounded musician. It’s given me the confidence to totally trust my vocal ability and push myself to keep getting better. One the most important parts of my experience there was meeting and collaborating with other young musicians – most of whom are all now in my live band. 

FEMMUSIC: You directed the “Oh River” video. What was the biggest challenge doing that? How do you approach directing? 

HG: I was lucky enough to work alongside Bee Happy Media on that music video and it was a very collaborative project. As a team we really believed in the idea behind the video and wanted to make something special to accompany one of my favourite songs I’ve ever written. It was quite hard to convince some people to be a part of the video as some people were reluctant to get filmed, however – overall it really exceeded my expectations and it’s a video that I’m really proud to have made. 

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? 

HG: Much like my favourite artists I try to write about real things happening in my life. I tend to prefer collaborating with other songwriters, most of whom are also my close friends. This way I can be totally open with them about my life and what I am going through without feeling self conscious,

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

HG: It would have to be “Bridge Over Troubled Water” I think. Absolutely unbelievable song in every way and I never tire of listening to it. Especially Aretha Franklin’s version. 

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

HG: I feel like I’ve been lucky in that any challenges I have faced in the industry have not been because I am female. The music industry can be very competitive and sometimes overwhelming, but I don’t feel that’s gender specific. 

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

HG: I would love to collaborate with Paulo Nutini. His live show is one of the best I’ve ever seen. I have a feeling we’d write a great song together.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

HG: I hate numbers! Social media followers and views and plays often get prioritized over the quality of the music. I think it’s a shame because so many amazing bands and artists get overlooked because of this, so that is something I would change if I could.

Hannah Grace - Press Shot 3

 

 

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

May 2nd, 2019

Amo Amo 6 - credit Robbie Jeffers

It has been our pleasure last year and this year to be able to talk to a group of musicians who have worked on each other’s projects. They include Cornelia Murr, Lola Kirke and lastly Amo Amo. These three Los Angeles bands have also worked with Jim James of My Morning Jacket. Amo Amo has the double pleasure of opening for MMJ on tour. They recently released their self-titled album which includes tracks “Antidote”, “Closer to You”, and “When I Look At You”

Amo Amo is a psychedelic smorgasbord of instrumentation mixed with dreamy vocals that are enticing and electric. For info visit https://amoamomusic.com/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making the Amo Amo album?

LF: The biggest challenge was getting the album to a length of 40 minutes or under. When we finished recording all of the songs we thought we could potentially work with, we ended up with about 80 minutes worth of music on our hands. We’re a very free flowing, intuitively driven band & can easily turn a 4 minute song into an 18 minute ode to cosmic soul exploration. Jim was essential to the process of helping form the identity of each song on this album.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Jim James. How did you meet? How did he become the producer for the album?

LF: Jim is a magical music man that I first met at a festival near Santa Barbara two years ago. I was singing in Lola Kirke’s band (before Amo Amo was born) & was quite captivated by his late night solo set under the purple-lit branches of a huge oak tree. Jim & Omar had been planning on collaborating for some time so shortly after that festival I was invited to their first studio session to begin the process of making Amo Amo’s first album.

Amo Amo Album art

FEMMUSIC: I’ve interviewed some of your friends: Cornelia Murr & Lola Kirke. I saw Lola live around the time of your Valentine’s Day show. All three of you have collaborated on each other’s projects, as well as worked with Jim James. How has being friends with Cornelia & Lola changed your music? Do you approach studio work differently after working with their projects?

LF: When a song or project is just a tiny spark, the process of sitting together with an acoustic guitar to learn one another’s harmonies & lyrics is such a beautiful ritual that I really cherish sharing with these two very gifted creators. There’s an exchange between souls there that helps me stay grounded & reminds me that music is a divine gift to be shared between friends.

FEMMUSIC: You’re opening for Jim James & My Morning Jacket this summer. What are you most looking forward to with the tour?

LF: I’m singing in both Jim James’ band as well as Amo Amo, so tapping into a part of my psyche, body & voice that can sustain that level of dedicated stage time night after night is a learning opportunity that I’m thankful for. I’m also thrilled to be playing Red Rocks with MMJ! Legendary venue. My legendary mom will also be there & that is honestly going to be the best part.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

LF: I’ve heard that in the womb the hands sprout from the heart so that’s often on my mind. I prefer to perform, write & sing only what resonates with my heart strings. I’ll usually press record on my phone, get centered in my heart space, pick up a guitar (or just acapella) then let the words & melody bloom freely. Lyrics often feel like a channel from an infinitely loving source that I can then rewind, listen to & then write down every word. I’ll take my favorite lyrics and melodies from this mysterious realm then write it all out into a song structure & sometimes supplement any gaps with past lyrics or poetry I’ve written, often using the same process.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

LF:  “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer. It’s a song that has dazzled me since I was 10. I’d listen to it on repeat & experience physical waves of euphoria. We perform it live now & it gives me the same feeling. How life changing, vast & ecstatic love is!

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

LF: Boundaries, sobriety & forgiveness were my greatest challenges when I was younger & now they’re my closest allies. I’m queer & prefer they/them or zi/zir pronouns, so any projections or limitations based off of “being a woman” are largely other people’s & ultimately ignored.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

LF:  1.An extra terrestrial/inter-dimensional/galactic life form on a tour of the cosmos & other unseen realms would be out of this world & is perhaps my ultimate destiny. 2.A humpback whale. 3.Björk.

FEMMUSIC: What is one thing you would like to change about the music industry?

LF: I want the music industry to be more accessible as a reliable, sustainable, life-long career to anybody who feels called to living this particular dream. Music, & every form of artistic expression, is so central to the evolution of culture. The creation & expression of music is essential to community, inspiring unity & even healing. People that are working hard to make music with a message rooted in love, tolerance & peace are incredibly valuable to society. Being an artist is a brilliant, valid profession. Musicians & artists, of all kinds at every level all over the world, should be able to live with dignity doing what they love.

Posted in Interviews, Uncategorized Tagged with: ,

May 2nd, 2019

Walk Off The Earth 2019 courtesy Andrea

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Morrison, CO

May 15, 2019

https://www.redrocksonline.com/

https://www.walkofftheearth.com/

How do you come back as a band after the passing of a band member? What do you change? What remains the same? Can you connect in the same way with your fans? This is a question no one wants to answer. Walk Off The Earth faced that question last year after the death of Mike Taylor. Walk Off The Earth has been around for over a decade and is known for songs “Somebody That I Used to Know”, “Red Hands”, “Fire In My Soul” and many others. They also have made a name for making covers of popular songs with the stars who made them including Lisa Loeb and Sarah Silverman:

The four piece band is working on new material and touring with a show to honor Taylor. They bring a range of instrumentation and a joyous heart to the stage. FEMMUSIC was honored to speak with Sarah Blackwood about the music and the life.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about the band and the tour after Mike Taylor’s passing. What has changed?

SB: A lot has changed. We have spent a lot of time preparing a new show that will honor him in the best way we can and make us feel like he’s still with us every single night.

FEMMUSIC: WOTE releases as many covers as originals. The most recent is “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Why do you do it? How do you pick the covers you’d like to do?

SB: We do it because we love to! There are so many good songs out there in the world that deserve to be reinvented. We love doing original songs so much but we also love reinventing other songs that we can’t get out of our heads.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about raising kids on the road. Why do you think it is important? Coming from a musical family what did you learn from being on the road?

SB: It’s not important to raise your kids on the road. It’s what I had to do in order to keep my career. I think the person that learned the most from that experience was me and the biggest thing I learned is how important it is for children to have a schedule because we never had one. I don’t think it matters where you’re raising your children as long as you are all happy and healthy! It is possible to raise a family even when your career involves traveling a lot, but would I recommend, no.

FEMMUSIC: You’ve been releasing some new original songs. Is a new EP or album in the works? Do you have a timetable?

SB: Yes! We will be releasing a new original in the upcoming weeks and we are expecting to release an album in the next few months. We’re really excited for our fans old and new to hear the new music that we have been working on!

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

SB: Well, it’s different every time. Sometimes we start with a rift on a guitar or on a piano and sometimes we start with a beat. Sometimes we are inspired by a theme, it all just depends on the day really. A lot of the time we’ll come up with the melody and while we’re doing that we just start to sing words that feel right. From there you can start to understand what the song is going to be about and songs always go through a lot of transformations. As artists, it’s almost impossible to know when a song is finished.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

SB: Wow. That’s a great question but I think it’s impossible to answer. Music is something that connects people on a totally different level than everything else because there is a song for every emotion, for every experience, for every holiday. That’s the wonderful thing about music, it continues to inspire and ignite fires in people. So, I think to choose one song is just impossible. It’s all relative.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

SB: I’ve always been the only female throughout my musical career in all the bands I’ve played in and along with that has come many challenges. It’s not always easy being female in male-dominated industry, but I think that’s changing. The biggest challenge I’ve had to face was when I got pregnant for the first time. I was asked by our all male staffed record label how much time I was going to need off and if they should replace me and I looked them in the eyes and said no one can fucking replace me, I don’t need any time off. I played shows until I was 8.5 months pregnant and was back on tour three weeks after my first son was born. What everyone thought was going to be the demise of my musical career skyrocketed our band to being bigger than it had ever been before. My pregnancies only helped slingshot us further into where we wanted to go!

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

SB: Beyoncé because she’s a fucking queen!

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

SB: I think what I would like to see changed in the music industry is already changing. Artists get to be more independent, females are taking over the charts, record labels aren’t completely in charge anymore. People are able to find more music instead of being told what to listen to. So, we are going in the right direction and everything takes time.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,

April 5th, 2019
Honeyblood-by-Marieke-Macklon

Honeyblood photo by Marieke Macklon

Stina Tweeddale is the Scottish rock act Honeyblood. Honeyblood started out as a duo with Stina Tweeddale and Cat Myers. Honeyblood is releasing their 3rd album In Plain Sight and having their first US dates before a European tour. Honeyblood is a band that has a hint of 90’s alt retro mixed with a bold punkish rock. In Plain Sight moves the band into a new territory with Tweeddale taking on the songwriting and arrangements. It signals a new chapter for this band whose presence is long overdue to be felt in the US. They will be playing the US in April at:

4/22/19 – Baby’s All Right – Brooklyn, NY

4/23/19 – The Echo – Los Angeles, CA

They album’s first single was “The Third Degree”

For info and pre-orders visit https://www.honeyblood.co.uk/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making In Plain Sight?

ST: I guess it’s just been a massive change. I changed record labels and decided to do the album on my own so the whole process was pretty challenging. Making the decisions and having the courage to do so has been the biggest challenge, but here I am!

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about John Congleton. How did you meet? How was he to work with? What did he contribute in the studio?

ST: I’ve been a big fan of his work for a while. I really loved how he could make guitars sound otherworldly. It was something I really wanted to pull into my own music and the reason I was so set on having him produce the album. Lucky for me he agreed! I love that he works so fast, he’s really great at impulsively laying down parts that complement the song without doubt. If it’s the first thing that pops into your head it’s probably the right part.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Marathon Artists. What made you decide to change labels? What made you sign with Marathon? What did they contribute to the project?

ST: I’ve had a great relationship with Marathon for years after meeting Courtney Barnett in 2014. I think it was definitely very natural for Marathon to become the new home for Honeyblood and I’m very excited to work together on this album. They’ve been super supportive and I’m feeling pretty excited about the future.

FEMMUSIC: Could you talk a about your latest single, “Glimmer.” I read it described about the “wonders of women.” I was wondering how it compares, both in style and creation, to “Babes Never Die” – the single.

ST: I think “Glimmer” draws some comparisons to “Babes Never Die” in a way. “Babes” is all about finding inner strength when someone screws you over, “Glimmer” is the song you sing to your best friend when she’s glowing and you’re like ‘that’s my girl, I’m so proud of you. You’re strong and beautiful but you don’t take no shit.”

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How has it changed over time?

ST: I find myself writing very differently now, I don’t have a certain way. I sometimes end up writing whole demos from one melody I’ve sang into my phone or sit for hours toiling over a guitar riff. I demo everything before I hit the studio which I never did until the second album. It lets me have a clearer vision on how the songs will turn out.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

ST: At the moment it’s Carly Simon – “You’re So Vain”. It’s just the ultimate burn song but with such sass and class.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

ST: I mean there’s so many things that I could talk about but mostly I’d like to concentrate on the fact that I believe things will and are changing. I’m a big supporter of the PRS Keychange Initiative and do feel that if we make a conscious effort to change things then it will eventually become the norm.

FEMMUSIC: I understand you grew up with riot grrrl music. How do you think women musicians are viewed today vs then?

ST: I’m not really sure as I guess I wasn’t around when riot grrrl was breaking I only found the music in hindsight so even my view of the movement isn’t a contemporary one! I do believe it was a big shake up to the industry that opened up a platform for lot of female artists and bands that came next.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

ST: PJ Harvey, she’s just incredible. A ever changing artists not scared to experiment and progress, she’s a true inspiration. And she kills the live show!

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

FEMMUSIC: I guess some more support for the mental health and wellbeing of artists. There isn’t much stability in the music industry which leads to many mental health problems as well as the dangers of touring. I think if there was a way to better support musicians in that area it would be very welcomed.

Honeyblood_In_Plain_Sight_3K-1

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,

April 5th, 2019

Petite Celine

Petite Celine may have one of the most original albums this year. It is filled with arrangements that challenge the senses, and a catalog of languages that enhance the music. The album is called Man Made Fire and it came out in March. Here is the title track:

Petite Celine is based in NY and is influenced by her French and American upbringing. She has a history of acting at a young age. She has been a homeless busking artist in the past. Now she is making fusion more alive than ever. For info visit http://www.petiteceline.com/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Man Made Fire (the album)?

PC: The toughest part about writing the kind of fusion music that I do was making sure that every track within Man Made Fire sounded like it was part of the same album – like how a good fusion restaurant makes sure all its different dishes still taste like they are from the same kitchen. Funny enough, the hardest part of the process was deciding in which order to put the tracks on the album.

I’d also add that, though it is as much fun as challenging, learning and incorporating so many different sounds into a pop frame was difficult at times. But these are what I call my “mad scientist” moments. It takes a while to get it right, but once I do, it oh-so-satisfyingly scratches a hard-to-reach itch and produces a unique sound. Combining different modes into one song, or instruments that don’t logically seem to pair together, such as trumpet and koto in “Jezebel,” or fusing polka and reggae in “The Great Unknown.”

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Christian Medice. How did you meet him? What made you decide to have him co-produce? How was he in studio?

PC: I met Christian Medice in 2012, when I was part of a band called Wooly and the Mammoth (no longer in existence). I was a back up singer and mandolinist for the band. We had gone to his studio in Brooklyn to record some songs at that time, since he and the lead singer already had a relationship. Christian and I got a long very well and his immense talent and intuitive ear was immediately evident.

A couple years later, after leaving Wooly and the Mammoth, I found myself broke and homeless and playing on the street of Manhattan. Busking near Bryant Park one day, I was discovered by Epic Records and brought up to their offices to have a meeting with one of their A&Rs. I performed a few songs for them, to which they responded well, but told me I needed to come back with a fully produced demo. I had no money at the time and was in no position to do so without their investment. So they lost interest. But feeling my compositions and performance had been validated in some way, I reached out to Christian as soon as I was able to gather the funds. Together, we recorded and produced my debut album, Young Soldier. It was an 8 track album that showed promise in the world music / fusion realm, but leaned predominantly towards the folk-rock genre.

After a couple years of performing that album and refining my sound, I came back to him in 2017 for this second project with a very clear vision in mind. This would be to put together Man Made Fire, my first Fusion-Pop album of what I anticipate being a long-lasting love affair with the genre. What I love about working with Christian is that he trusts my ear but also knows how to tame the sound when my crazy ideas get ahead of me.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Jake Deter? What was the songwriting process with him?

PC: Jake Deter was my boyfriend at the time. We were in a serious relationship and living together. We are still on very good terms and I consider him to be one of my best friends today. But it was fun working on this with him while we were still living our romance! Especially since he is a very skilled writer himself (mostly in screenwriting). What I’ve always loved about Jake is his sense of humor and wit. I wanted to write a song that was more fun and didn’t take itself so seriously. Especially since many of the songs on the album, whether evident or not, deal with pretty heavy subjects. So I invited him to write this song with me. I drew from our relationship for inspiration, as well as some of my past: he was a bartender, and I was a French wine enthusiast, enjoying going around to many French wine bars in New York City. So we decided to write this sassy, snarky song about a wine snob getting tipsy at a wine bar and hitting on the bartender. We worked well together. Between his cleverness and my knowledge, we were able to throw some great wine puns in there and even some other languages towards the end as the leading lady becomes more and more drunk.

FEMMUSIC: The arrangements on the album stick out. What was the most challenging arrangement for you? What one was the most fun? Why?

PC: So glad to hear that they do! I am definitely very interested in curating unique sounds within a palatable formula. I think that’s the hardest part really, is not the combination of sounds exactly, but finding the right balance. I didn’t want any one song to feel like it was one style written on top of another, or highlighting one culture over another; I really wanted to find the harmony between the influences: creating a space for a sort of dialogue between the cultures, demonstrating that beauty is everywhere and it is indeed interconnected. I want to accent cultures, not homogenize them.

I believe the best way to teach others about your culture is to share it. Of course I try to do this with as much respect as possible for the cultures that are not inherently mine. And if I felt it was not my place to incorporate a certain sound myself, I would bring in musicians that were studied in or native to that culture to fulfill the vision. The most difficult was probably “Jezebel” as I was working with both Japanese and Jazz scales, and the most fun was “The Great Unknown,” which is also a complicated mix but somehow meshed seamlessly in the process – was kind of a no-brainer.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

PC: I feel like it’s always different. But overall, I would describe it as a very organic creative process followed by intense editing. Most of the time I don’t feel like I am actively trying to write a song, at least at the beginning, but more-so drawing out sounds from a universal source. What I mean is, I’m usually first guided by a melody, or riff, or even a phrase, that seems to come to me, even slap me across the face, from out of nowhere. The next step is to capture that, fill in the blanks, and “edit.” The fusion combinations sometimes come as early as those first moments, and other times it doesn’t happen until I’m in the recording studio. I very seldom write lyrics first. Usually what happens is I’ll play a riff or progression over and over and add-lib over it to find my melodies. In doing so, there are usually words or phrases that my subconscious puts together in this improvisation that will stick out to me. So I’ll keep the ones I like, and it usually paints a picture for which I later connects the dots, by filling in the lyrics between them to complete the story. Almost without fail, I’ll look back on those lyrics a few months later and it’ll become apparent exactly what my subconscious was trying to communicate, but I almost never realize it in the moment. It’s a quirky process, but I think it’s one that keeps a lot of the integrity of my creative and expressive being.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

PC: That’s a tough question. Because of my interest in fusion, I’d say there are many influences! Camille was always a strong early influence for me though. I was entranced by her live looping performances (which I also do today) and evident cultural influences. I don’t know if I can identify a single song from her but can confidently say her album “Le Fil” was my biggest inspiration. It was spunky and different, cinematic but raw, and healing and very culturally inspired.

I was also influenced by artists such as Sting, Santana, No Doubt/Gwen Stefani, Gypsy Kings, Sia (before she got big), Brazilian Girls, Beirut, and Stromae.

Petite Celine-live

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

PC: Well, unfortunately, there is a lot of sexism in the industry. I’m sure men may have their own challenges and expectation but, unlike most men, I have found it’s been very difficult for me to present myself as an artist FIRST to an industry dominated and controlled by men who choose to see me as a female, and potential sex object/symbol, first. Not only that, but there is of course the daily pressure I feel to make it while I’m still young and pretty, since that seems to be what is valued most from me. I’ve turned down a lot of opportunities because I didn’t want to compromise myself in this way. I urge allies in the music industry to open their eyes to this and what is really going on. There are so many talented female musicians, singers and songwriters out there in the world who are so much more than how they have been repeatedly received. I don’t if I’ve totally overcome this yet, but it’s definitely something I’m trying to fight.

This is a particularly important time for nuanced art created by women. The entire album, apart from it’s mission to blend world sounds, is truly about my journey into adulthood, especially as a very independent woman: what that looks like in romance, in career, and even in women’s history. The song “Jezebel” began as an ode to the Biblical figure. I had never understood why, in pop culture, Jezebel always got such a bad rep. So I looked her up one day, and while she’s not a saint either, she really seems to be a misunderstood woman. She was not promiscuous or manipulative, though she is depicted that way; she was simply a powerful and opinionated woman, who grew up with different beliefs and didn’t want to compromise that. As a result she challenged the profit Elisha and perhaps stirred the pot a bit too much in a place that didn’t want to accept her to begin with when she married King Ahab of Israel. One of the biggest critics is that she got all dolled up before her execution. Many believe this was to seduce the king into sparing her. I believe it was no different than her daily routine, and that she wanted to keep some say over her body before she was cruelly thrown to the dogs. The interesting spice, is that I was writing this song during the 2016 election, so it sort of became about Hillary Clinton too, and other women who have sought power in a man’s world.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

PC: Oh man, haha, well how much can I dream in responding to this question?? I’d love to work with/collaborate/tour with Camille, Xenia Rubinos, tUnE-yArDs, Kimbra, and other live looping artists working with world sounds.

But there’s also Ibeyi, Mojo Juju, Banda Magda, Ginkgoa, and if I’m dreaming big: Stromae, Anitta, Angèle, Thom Yorke and Sigur Rós (somehow in a wet dream of a reality). The awesome part about writing the kind of music that I do, is that collaboration with just about anyone from any genre is fair game.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

PC: Sexism and royalty percentages. Both seem to be heavy topics these days and you know what? Good. It’s about time we started having these conversations. What’s messed up is Napster definitely changed the game for music and killed record sales, but today it’s one of the highest paying per streams, with Youtube and Spotify among the lowest. I want these platforms and the unions to put the value of music into perspective. The consumer will pay $60 for a video game that he or she will only get a certain number of plays out of before it becomes boring. I don’t know about you, but my favorite albums are still my favorite albums even decades later – they still soundtrack my life. I say this as a former gamer. I still love the games from my childhood but I never make the time to play them anymore for the fun of it, it’s usually for nostalgic purposes. That said, it’s mind boggling to me that unlimited access to all kinds of music would only be valued at about $10/mo on average. I don’t know a single person who does not listen to music. I know listeners who have niche tastes or who perhaps do not listen as often as others but unlike video games, I simply don’t know anybody who does not appreciate some form of music on a regular basis. All this to say, streaming platforms should be paying their artists more, either shaving off from their exploitive profits or raising the subscription pricing. And with the discussions happening today, I believe we might see this change soon.

As far as the sexism goes, unfortunately I think we still have a long way to go. I may not see the change I want in my lifetime, but I know that my female artist friends and I are actively trying to make that game a much better and fairer one for the next female players.

Petite Celine MMF cover

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