Category: Interviews

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

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

April 5th, 2019

Photo by Pooneh Ghana

Lennon Stella is best known for playing Maddie Conrad on Nashville. This young artist comes from a musical family. Her parents are Brad and MaryLynne Stella who are known as the duo, The Stellas.

With the ending of Nashville, Lennon Stella signed a recording contract and released her EP Love, me. The EP includes songs “La Di Da”, “Breakaway” “Bad” and more. Her latest song is “Bitch”

Stella is on her headlining tour now and will be touring with The Chainsmokers and 5 Seconds to Summer this Fall. Stella is a new voice to a younger generation of country fans. For info visit https://www.lennonstella.com/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Love, me EP?

LS: I’m such a perfectionist, and I put a bunch of pressure on myself to make the perfect first impression and project.

FEMMUSIC: What did you learn while making Love, me that you would do differently the next time around?

LS: Looking back now after seeing how the world reacted to Love, me, I would have a little more trust in myself and my instincts.

FEMMUSIC: What made you sign with Records LLC/Columbia Records? What benefits has it brought? How are they to work with?

LS: To me, equally as important if not more important than the business side of things, is that I surround myself with a solid group of humans. I instantly felt like that was the case with RECORDS/Columbia Records. Signing with them has allowed me to share my music with more people than I would have had the ability to reach on my own.

FEMMUSIC: What advice have your parents given you about being a solo artist and touring?

LS: To always stay true to myself and trust in my instincts.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? Can you tell me about your song writing retreat in Nicaragua? What did it bring out that might not have happened elsewhere?

LS: My songwriting technique depends on how I’m feeling that day, typically I write with one producer and one co-writer. The writing retreat in Nicaragua were some of my favorite days of my life, it was the most inspiring trip. Being surrounded by the most talented and amazing people was so special. That writing trip felt like there was less pressure than other writing sessions. It was more like friends hanging out and creating music for the fun of it, which led to me writing two of the five songs on my EP (“La Di Da” and “Breakaway”).

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

LS: “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. This song, no matter how many times I listen to it, re-inspires me every time.

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

LS: I personally haven’t struggled, but I know a lot of people who have and I think it’s important we support one another.

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

LS: Stevie Nicks, because she’s always been a massive inspiration to me as a strong woman and as an artist.

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

LS: If I could change anything about the music industry right now, it would be to have more trust in artists and their vision. And no more liners. : )

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

March 7th, 2019

rosie_carney

Struggle. Perseverance. Challenge. These are just a few words to describe what Rosie Carney has been through to make music. She was discovered at 16 by Universal Music’s Polydor. She faced an industry machine that wanted her co-write, change her name and be remade. At 18 she left the label and walked away. What followed was years of depression, anxiety and trauma.

In January she released Bare on Akira Records. The album is minimalist and soaked in emotion. Instead of walking away Carney has emerged a better songwriter, musician and is on a track to success. The album includes tracks “Orchid”, “Zoey” and “Thousand.”

This Irish artist fills the craving for Joni Mitchell and Laura Marling fans. For info visit https://rosiecarney.com/

FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making Bare?

RC: Some of the experiences that inspired the songs were very challenging, to say the least, but I’m so happy I could take each one and turn it into this body of work.

rosie_carney album cover

FEMMUSIC: What made you want to return to music and what role does music play in your life?

RC: Music has always been a constant in my life—it plays an essential role. I feel it makes me who I am. Not just the creative aspect, but even listening to it. Music is in my life every day. Whether I’m listening to it or creating it. It shapes most of my day.

FEMMUSIC: The last 8 years sound like an incredible arc in your life. How do you view that time and how have you overcome it?

RC: Obviously at the time, it was all very hard, and sometimes very amazing. I think it’s all played such a crucial part in who I am now. I am grateful for every experience I’ve had to endure, mostly the negative ones. They’ve given me strength and taught me so many valuable lessons I’ve been lucky enough to learn at such a young age. Not to say that I’m lucky to have gone through very hard times, I just feel that it was important and I’m lucky to have gained the perspective I have now.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

RC: Lighting is a very important part of my songwriting. I usually try to create an ambience of sorts in whatever environment I’m in. It’s usually dark with a very faint, soft light, then I’ll come up with a melody, usually on the guitar, to which I will sing and record some gibberish over. Usually then when I listen back, I can make sense of it. It’s like I allow thoughts to just flow freely straight from my subconscious.

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

RC: Although it might sound rather pretentious, “Clair De Lune” by Claude Debussy is definitely one of them. I just remember hearing it for the first time, I felt so taken aback by the fact that I could connect so strongly with a piece of music. It taught me how important a melody is and that how sometimes instrumentals have the power to say so much without using a single word.

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

RC: Being consistently undermined in terms of ability and contribution to a conversation, whether it be writing, singing or recording music. When confidence and belief in your work is construed as bossy or hysterical. Feeling patronized in terms of originality of ideas that are taken into the studio. Specifically as a young women, being treated as an object i.e. being persuaded to use our physical image as a means to success.

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

RC: Justin Vernon, because he is just amazing.

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

RC: Sexism.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

March 1st, 2019

Jesse Palter

Jesse Palter has had a long evolution for someone so young. Originally from Detroit, Palter is now an LA artist. She comes from jazz roots and is expanding to new frontiers quickly. She has worked with her Jesse Palter and the Palter Ego, and also had a previous release. She recently released The Paper Trail EP, which will be released as a full album at a later time. One stunning track from the album is “Heavy Is the Crown”

FEMMUSIC spoke to her about the release, LA and things to come. For info visit http://www.jessepalter.com/

FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making The Paper Trail EP?

JP: The biggest challenge was actually getting the record deal, which made the entire project possible. Although the label had been following my career for a long time, we only began serious conversations about becoming an artist on their roster in early 2015. At that time, I had just completed a record of my original compositions with my jazz quartet and I intended to release that record. But then the label approached me with the idea of writing a solo singer/songwriter record, and it was something I always hoped I’d do so I saw it as a huge opportunity. I had the label’s ear, but they didn’t want to sign anything until they heard the music. I made a promise to myself that I was going to write music every day and I wasn’t going to stop until they offered me a deal, but I don’t have a recording rig, so I had to find a way to get this music recorded on a shoestring budget. At first, I was paying friends to record demos, but I hit a prolific stride and the label kept wanting to hear more. So in an effort to keep funneling them music, I began to do more co-writes with friends who had studios so I could record the demos. I wrote so many songs and recorded so many demos over the course of that year, that they finally they offered the deal in 2016. Once signatures were on the paper, they were very supportive of my vision, it just took a lot of proving to get to that place. We recorded a full album (12 songs) but the label decided to start off by releasing an EP (so there’s more where that came from!).

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Doug Petty. How did you meet? What made you decide to have him produce the EP? How was he to work with?

JP: An A&R at the label had mentioned Doug’s name as a producer he thought I might collaborate well. I took it upon myself to do my research and reached out to see if he would take a meeting with me. I actually found out he was playing a gig at a venue close by and I showed up to introduce myself. After a nice chat, he offered to listen to my music and give some feedback and I went to his studio the next day. I think halfway into the first song he said “I’m in!”. So he was a part of the picture before the deal was even on the table, and I think having a producer in place helped the label actualize the vision. Doug is very much a scientist with his approach to production. He brought a lot of sonic ideas to the table and he helped elevate my ideas. My concepts are definitely steeped in my love of songwriting – the story of the song, the intention behind the song, what it’s supposed to feel like in my bones and soul when I sing it and when I listen to it. It took us a second to find our collaborative groove, but we got there and it was great. I learned a lot from watching him in the studio, he’s very cool, calm and collected. I now try to carry some of that energy with me when I’m in sessions. When we were making the record, it helped with morale and putting everybody involved in the project at ease.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Artisty Music and Mack Avenue Records. What made you decide to sign with them? How are they to work with?

JP: I have strong jazz roots and a good chunk of my professional career as a performer has been in a straight-ahead jazz setting, and they are a jazz label in the process of expanding their roster to other genres. It made sense to me to sign with a label that understands all facets of me as a musician and a writer, and they do. They place a strong emphasis on being artist friendly and that was very appealing to me too.

FEMMUSIC: How do you think you’ve evolved as an artist from your prior works with Palter Ego, and from Beginning to See the Light? Is there anything you wish you’d learned earlier?

JP: I’m always working on learning and getting better at all aspects of this craft. I’ve done a lot of growing since the days of Palter Ego, though that band is also a huge part of my story and I wouldn’t be the musician or person I am today if Sam Barsh and I hadn’t worked so closely together on both that music and the business side of the hustle as well. He continues to be a big source of inspiration for me and we still write and perform music together, which I’m grateful for. Beginning To See The Light was actually sort of a glorified demo. We went into the studio to record some music to send to venues to book gigs, and we ended up keeping the tape rolling and ultimately played enough songs to make an album. I didn’t know at the time of recording we were going to release it (and that it was going to live on the internet for eternity). I would’ve done things differently if I would’ve known that, but I’m thankful that people relate to that record and that I got to document a moment with those musicians who are also my dear friends. It opened up a lot of doors for me. As far as what I wish I learned earlier, there’s no real rulebook to being successful in this industry. I think the people that learn that early on, and aren’t afraid to think outside the box, ask for help and guidance and put themselves out there are the ones who are killing it. Nobody wants it more than you, you are your best advocate. Find your lane and go go go.

FEMMUSIC: You’ve been in LA for coming on a decade. How has the scene changed you and your music?

JP: Whoa, that’s crazy! I didn’t realize until now it has been almost a decade! I remember moving out here like it was yesterday. I was super young, I had never lived so far from home and I came out here on a mission. I remember right when I got here I went to see The Belle Brigade (Ethan and Barbara Gruska’s band at the time) at Satellite. There was a line wrapped around the venue to get in and I thought “holy crap! People are REALLY doing it out here!” People are making art at a very high level, and anything goes. The music I was hearing in my head expanded when I got out here, genre lines blurred, scenes melded together – there’s no ceiling. No gigs are throwaways. Even playing background music in dark lit corners, you don’t know who’s listening because it’s Los Angeles! If you make one good connection a night, you’re moving the needle.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

JP: I can’t say I have one technique, though maybe it’d make my job easier if I did. Whatever it takes to get the song out really. I have tricks if I feel stuck in a rut. I’ll go for a run or go hiking to be in nature. I like to sit at coffee shops in LA and do a bit of people watching (errrrr, eavesdropping). It’s different if I’m writing by myself or in a collaborative setting. If I’m cowriting, I try to be open-minded and check my ego at the door for the sake of making the best song possible. I’ve learned not to be afraid to share my ideas out loud, even when I feel like they might be bad (I’ve also learned there’s really no such thing as a bad idea, just a better one). That can be a very vulnerable aspect of cowriting. When I’m writing by myself, anything goes. The piano is my tool to help me get it out, but sometimes I need to step away from the piano so my fingers don’t go to a place of comfort. The only common denominator every time I write, which is both daunting and thrilling, is that it starts with a blank page. That’s really all I’m certain of after all this time of doing it! And that’s partly what keeps me coming back, is this element of magic, a mysterious blend of hard work and muse and quite frankly I’m addicted to the feeling when it’s finished. The feeling of: “I just did that! This thing that started out as an idea, or a thought, or a feeling turned into a melody and a chord structure, and it all works in tandem to make me feel things at a far more heightened sense than if melody, harmony and lyric weren’t all firing off at the same time to tell this story. And how did that even happen?” I think the lyric is just as important as the melody, and the melody is just as important as the groove, and so on and so forth and it doesn’t come to me in any particular order. It feels most natural to me when I’m not overthinking it, so I actually guess the technique is getting out of my own way and allowing the music to do the talking.

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

JP: I don’t think I could pick one. I can tell you I felt destroyed the first time I heard “Blue” by Joni Mitchell. I had a boyfriend at the time who was sick with cancer and I was having a difficult time processing all of my feelings. I must’ve been 15 and it felt like too much real life stuff for a teenager. And then his mom actually played me “Blue” and I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. I felt like I wasn’t alone for the first time in a while and I remember thinking “okay, how can I do THAT?”. I wore that CD out that summer. I also felt that same feeling when I was in middle school and heard “Kind Of Blue” by Miles Davis for the first time. My band instructor let me borrow his trumpet and I spent the summer learning to play so I could be in the jazz band. Similar thing when I heard “Songs In The Key Of Life” and “Abbey Road”. Different songs make me think of different markers in my life and at this point it is clearly impossible for me to pick one.

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

JP: I have had my share of powerful male types flexing their egos, making inappropriate comments and gestures, mansplaining, etc. When I was coming up in the scene, I would often reach out to other musicians to network and sometimes that drive would be misconstrued. It wasn’t always easy and I still come across it. Just the other day, I reached out to someone I thought I was establishing a professional relationship with, and the conversation went south because I wasn’t willing to get to know him outside of music. But screw that, we can’t let that get in our way and we all know now more than ever the future is female!

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

JP: I think about this all of the time and again, it’s hard to pick just one. Jon Brion, Greg Kurstin, Blake Mills, Linda Perry – I love all of their writing and production. I think my music would work really well opening for an artist like John Mayer, and I just think he’s a phenomenal writer and rad guitarist. Like if John Mayer co-wrote and played some rhythm guitar on a song with me! Wew! That’d be fire.

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

JP: I’d like to see more people being kind to each other, lifting each other up, being honest with one another about the challenges we face as creative professionals, and being genuinely happy for one another for our accomplishments. We’re all in this together and our greatest power is in community!

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

March 1st, 2019
alex lilly

Photo by David Black

Alex Lilly released 2% Milk in January. It has the striking quality of being released under her own name. You may not have heard Lilly’s name but guaranteed you’ve seen her on tour with artists including Beck, Lorde, the bird and the bee. She has also been playing with a number of bands including Obi Best, Touché, Zero DeZire, and The Living Sisters.

2% Milk includes the singles “Distracting Me” and “Pornographic Mind”

The songs have pop hooks mixed with sharp lyrics that entice and excite. The album was produced by Andy Bauer and Jacob Bercovici. It is released on Inara George’s Release Me Records. Lilly is currently touring opening for The Kolars. For info visit https://www.alexlillyland.com/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making 2% Milk?

AL: Mixing the record was tricky because there were a lot of parts, both soft synths and real instruments. We started with my demos and added to them. I like doing this because then you maintain the original vibe of the song. The downside is maybe some of those tracks you recorded earlier are not high fidelity (I.E. recording in a cabin in Canada on your laptop) and so it makes the mixing of the record more challenging.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Inara George. I see you’ve toured with her in The Bird and the Bee. You’re obviously signed to her label Release Me Records. She also directed the video for “Pornographic Mind.” How has your relationship grown with her? What made you decide to join Release Me Records?

AL: Inara and I have had so many experiences together – it’s pretty goddamn special. I joined the bird and the bee’s touring band as a youngster and then we wrote and sang together in The Living Sisters, started a lewd theatrical band called Zero DeZire, and so much more. Not to mention all the personal stuff (like going on trips and getting to know her kids and her family) Inara is a brilliant songwriter and singer but she has multiple sides. She has an entrepreneurial streak for sure. She’s a curious and creative person and I think she started this label to sign her friends but also to see how the experiment would play out. I teamed up with her because she’s a wizard.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about your producers Andy Bauer & Jacob Bercovici. How did you meet them? What made you decide to work with them on the album?

AL: I knew Andy from the band Twin Shadow. We worked together on my song “Firefly” when I was staying in New York for a few months. I trust his aesthetic sense and he’s a really sweet, interesting dude. Jacob Bercovici I’ve known for many years and I’ve always liked his music. He’s not a shy producer which I value. In the past I’ve worked with pretty hands-off kinds of musicians. Jake gets his hands dirty and is creative and there’s not too much pressure to be perfect. I can get easily stressed in the studio so I appreciated his mentality.

FEMMUSIC: How important is it to you to release an album under your own name? Did you approach this project differently because it was?

AL: Well I wanted to go under an alias and I had it all picked out but Inara said, “No! Go under your name”. She’s a ballbuster, that one. I’m glad I did because I don’t think there’s a need for a line of separation between this particular music and other musical ventures. To me it feels like so much exposure but to everyone else, it’s just a name.

alex lilly 2 percent milk

FEMMUSIC: You’ve toured with a number of big name acts. What did that touring teach you as a musician?

AL: Performances are not end products. They happen and then they’re done. Even if they’re on video, everything is captured nowadays so things being captured means less. You can always change it up for the next show. The most important thing you should do is be completely present. You can make mistakes- it’s amazing what a little charm can do.

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

AL: Oh nooooo, you are cruel to ask this of me. Can I say the main theme from the opera “Carmen”? My mom heard me outside on my swing set singing this as a 5-year-old. So I think my love of music started here. That exotic descending chromatic line and then the really triumphant B section. I think the sensation of those opposite sounding sections had a big impact.

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

AL: When you’re a woman, you’re often not given the benefit of the doubt. You start at a deficit and have to work your way up to the status of an intelligent, competent human being. Of course, there is a large sector of the population that are not idiots and don’t require this and those are the people I’m around most of the time but you can’t always avoid this shit. I’ll give you a perfect and very common example: I was touring with the bird and the bee maybe four years back (it was an all female band at the time) and we were sound checking. There was feedback and the lead singer, Inara, was politely trying to work it out with the sound guy who was convinced it wasn’t his problem. He was incredibly rude and condescending, implying it was our first rodeo (yeah right!) I got a strong feeling he wouldn’t have been dismissive like this to a group of male musicians. Finally, the guitarist, Wendy Wang, shouted out the exact frequency, like 2 K or something, that had to come down. He did it on his board and the problem was solved. Of course, he never acknowledged it. It just gets exhausting to be presumed wrong from the very start. And while I do feel a high level of respect should be earned, it shouldn’t be such an uphill battle.

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

AL: Oh man, I’d love to open up for Feist or U.S. Girls or Puddles the Clown. They do what they do and very well. I like beautiful things, interesting music, and complicated people.

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

AL: More money, baby!

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

December 6th, 2018
PRINCESS DEWCLAW LIVE
 
GLASSS Records
 
Amanda Gostomski
 
Princess Dewclaw is a band to be experienced not watched. A clash of art rock, glam rock and alternative with the fronting performance of Amanda Gostomski. Princess Dewclaw has one album out called Walk of Shame, and is working on its sequel.
 
In addition to Princess Dewclaw Gostomski is co-founder of Glasss Records, an independent label with a growing roster of artists in all genres including RAREBYRD$, Pearls & Perils, and Gold Trash .TheGlasss Records label is a collective where cross pollenization is having from studio to stage.  Glasss Records has been doing Glasss Records Presents shows all year which showcase their artists to a wider audience. For info visit http://www.princessdewclaw.com & https://glasssrecords.com/
 
FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making Walk of Shame?
 
AG: Having the ability to play an instrument. Half of Dewclaw came into the band with never having picked up an instrument to play. So having the patience to learn how to play, write a song, and listen to each other, while having a fully formed vision that had to go on the back-burner. Like we could hear the songs and we could describe what we wanted but we didn’t have the ability to produce the vision.
 
Honestly, our new album that we are working on will be much closer to what we collectively heard in our heads.
 
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Princess Dewclaw. How did the band form? Do you get into a persona to go on stage?
 
AG: Amanda Baker (synth player and vocals, Brandon Reyes (guitar player), and myself wanted to start band after seeing so many lackluster performances. Also, a bunch of guys kept telling me that I couldn’t. A lot of my personal motivation comes from proving men wrong.
 
Then Will Schaaf was asked to join cause of his musical talent and bright-eyed enthusiasm. We have had the “drummer problem”. Each one of three has brought their flavor to the band. Vahco Before Horses has now filled the role. His intensity (passion and machine-like rhythm) has been pushing us to grow.
 
When I am on stage, my persona is just myself exaggerated. I try to always perform with a raw and true emotion. An authenticity of feeling is important to me as a front person.
PRINCESSDEWCLAW ALBUM COVER

artwork painted by Veronica Gene Nichols

 
FEMMUSIC: I understand you met Vahco Before Horses in 2016. What made you decide to work with him on both your own album and forming Glasss Records?
 
AG: Vahco is a builder. He is also obsessive and a workaholic. A perfect partner in any venture. When I feel too exhausted to put out any more creative pursuits, he’s conjuring up the next show, the websites, the tours, the zine, etc.
I’m a burst of energy and I burn out real fast.
 
I felt like Princess Dewclaw was over, and he got us into an abandoned school house and we recorded an album with him.
 
I have a lot of ideas that could of just died, but Vahco made them into Glasss Records.
 
GLASSS RECORDS LOGO
 
FEMMUSIC: Glasss Records has so many areas of collaboration and overlap. What was your vision for the label?
 
AG: Musicians cannot just be musicians in 2018. You need to be a visual artist, a website designer, a filmmaker, etc. in order to stand out and to sell your music. I wanted to bring together a group of musicians/artists so that they could commiserate over the pressure, and eventually collaborate through any obstacles.
 
FEMMUSIC: I’ve been noticing a lot of Glasss Records’ Presents shows at various venues. Tell me why you wanted to do them? What do you get out of them?
 
AG: A lot of venues will not ask an artist they are not familiar with to open for a national  touring act. You have to get through that door to even open. By using Glasss’ name we are able to bring visibility to artists who may of only been able to play the underground scene or are just newer, working on their craft.
 
FEMMUSIC: It is one thing to be an artist and bandleader, in running the label, you’re also signing other bands. What do you look for in signing a band? What are your criteria?
 
AG: Pro-active artists. You need to know what you need to do and what you may lack. And be actively pursuing ways to better your art, and to put it out there to the best of your personal ability. That to me is more important than talent.
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
 
AG: I write lyrics that fit thematically into a larger narrative. Walk of Shame‘s song loosely base around a teenage girl who gets attacked and changed into a werewolf; think Gingersnaps, the Canadian horror film. We used the theme to even choose textures and scales to write the songs in.
 
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
 
AG: “Not in Lov” by The Crystal Castles Feat. Robert Smith. Just the simplicity of the concrete lyrics makes me super melancholic. Alice Glass is good at writing deceivingly simple lyrics.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
AG: There are external pressures that I have internalized from our culture that have held me back. I was really worried about being a shitty band cause then I would let all of fem-kind down. But I was able let that go real fast, and be okay with sucking for a while. More fems need to be okay to be in a beginning band and not worry about have that pressure to be the best, the prettiest, the most political. Shitty guy bands saturate the scene, and we give them the time to develop. When you’re in a band with fems, more eyes will be on you and people will want you to fail. Just keep sucking in spite of everyone.
 
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
 
AG: HMLTD. They are the future of rock music.
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
 
AG: More fems working in venues; talent buyers, sound people, door staff, bartenders, etc. It would make the environment more comfortable. A lot of times it’s all men with one fem on staff when we are touring. The numbers need to change.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: , ,