Australian trio Middle Kids are back with the single “Questions.” It is the first single off their sophomore album Today We’re The Greatest due out March 19 on Domino. Middle Kids are Hannah Joy, Tim Fitz and Harry Day.
As Joy explains, “Questions” is about the fallacies of intimate relationships; “I used to drink a lot and most of my previous relationships revolved around this. I don’t think I ever really knew them or they me as a result. “Questions” is about people being around each other but not being close. People who are in intimate relationships can stop asking questions of each other because they are uncomfortable and confusing.”
Today We’re the Greatest was produced and recorded in Los Angeles with Lars Stalfors. About the new record, she said: “I want to make music that loves its listener. Music that makes people feel seen, seen in the tiny little places that hide away in their hearts. I want people to hear our music, and feel a sense of love. And when I say love, it can be challenging, intense and tough. But it’s in the guts.”
Miami native and Los Angeles based artist Anie Delgado takes a page from mythology in her video “Daydream.” The video, directed by Brandon Buczek, brings in Venus on a Clamshell visually.
“On ‘Daydream,’ I was thinking about my own daydreams and manifestations. Desire feels so intoxicating, I think it’s important to let yourself live with that and respect the power of how it feels to want something badly — that’s what inspired the song sonically. Coming out of that dizzying state confident, on steady ground is what I find even more interesting – that was the inspiration lyrically. Feel your desires, but don’t get lost in your daydreams.”
Laetitia Tamko and Courtney Barnett team up for a cover of Karen Dalton’s “Reason to Believe.”
“I recently discovered the Karen Dalton version of ‘Reason To Believe’ for the first time. I became obsessed and so a few days after discovering it, I was encouraged to record a cover of it in my garage,” said Vagabon’s Lætitia Tamko. “The decision to have Courtney sing it with me came after we performed it together live at the Palace Theatre in Los Angeles on Valentine’s Day 2020, a month before lockdown. It was fresh in our brains then so not long after the show, CB came over and we recorded her parts. Oliver Hill plays slide guitar on it.”
Courtney Barnett added “I’m a huge fan of Vagabon and Karen Dalton so this was a dream. They both have a voice that absolutely knocks the wind out of me. I really admire Laetitia and am constantly inspired by her songwriting, production, and our sporadic FaceTime chats.”
Tamko has been releasing alternate versions of songs from her self-titled album, and her song “Home Soon” was featured in the film Antebellum.
Alaska Reid is releasing her Big Bunny EP this Friday December 11 on Terrible Records. Reid is best known for her band Alyeska. This new project is a personal collection recalling her time growing up in Montana, and her partial move to LA. Reid worked with Max Hershenow & A.G. Cook on this single “Warm.”
Alaska explains: “‘Warm’ is a retrospective about playing shows and hanging around LA in my late teens / early twenties and feeling pretty lonely within it all. The song spans Montana and Los Angeles – A. G. Cook and I recreated that in the video, going between the two, shooting at the beach and then in my hometown between the Yellowstone River & the train tracks.”
Reid’s lyrics have a vulnerable emotional to them. She is a combination of Weyes Blood meets Fiona Apple.
Today Pale Waves announces their second album Who Am I? due out February 7, 2021. Pale Waves blew up with the release of My Mind Makes Noises in 2018. The album was recorded in Los Angeles by Rich Costey. Front woman Heather Baron-Gracie says on the making of the album, “for me, music and art is for people not to feel so alone and isolated. I want to be that person my fans look up to and find comfort in.”
“Why Do I Miss You When You Hate Me?” is one of many questions asked on Kat Hamilton’s Recovery Songs. Hamilton comes from a punk background in the band Manic Pixi. Hamilton is a singer-songwriter based in LA. She has a long history on the East Coast.
Recovery Songs is an unconventional album. It’s 9 songs are a challenge to artist and listener alike. The lyrics ask questions, personal and universal. The songs are danceable including “Ohio”
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Recovery Songs?
KH: This is my first full length solo album and it was a tough adjustment to be “the boss”. I spent five years in a band that functioned as a democracy. We had to agree on every choice. But this time, I had the final say in every aspect of the process. That isn’t my comfort zone at all. My team was looking to me to make choices and give them direction. It was baffling to have these artists that I respect, want me to tell them what to do. Sometimes I had to pinch myself, it was so surreal.
FEMMUSIC: What were your goals for Recovery Songs?
KH: To write the truth. For all musical arrangements or explorations in genre, to be an extension of the truth I had written. I wanted this album to feel like the truth and a guitar, even when we added all of the other elements.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Allee Futterer. She is producer both on Recovery Songs & The Grey Area, How did you meet? What does she bring to a project?
KH: Allee is my bestie! We met as roommates in a work abroad program in London. We played in a cover- band when we were abroad and then reformed that band in Boston when we got back. While I was living in New York and she was in LA, we stayed in touch and grew our friendship. Everything with us has always been about mutual admiration. When I showed her the songs for The Grey Area, she expressed that she had some production ideas and we went for it. When I felt like Recovery Songs was starting to take shape, I sent her some demos and asked her if she would want to produce it. I love how detail oriented she is. She creates little moments in the production that you wouldn’t expect.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about “Empty Room.” How did that song develop?
I wrote it while Manic Pixi was still together as a potential song for that group. It didn’t really fit in the album plans but I always felt a special attachment to the song. Empty Room was a sigh of sad relief during a time in which I felt like there was pressure on me to be positive all of the time. There was this dark, vacuous part of myself that I was hiding away. I just kept getting more depressed and more anxious behind the curtain. “Empty Room” was born out of that experience
FEMMUSIC: Recovery Songs is filled with a number of questions – “Where do you run to?”, “Did your heart stop working”, etc… How did the questions and answers develop and change while writing and producing the album?
KH: I’m glad you noticed that! Ultimately as a writer, I like to constantly question my own opinions and judgements. A song where I’m telling someone who broke my heart that they’re an asswhole, isn’t as interesting to me as a song where I question my own role as a reliable narrator. Were they as horrible as I am depicting them or am I just feeling not enough…etc.. In Recovery Songs and my questions don’t get answered. My goal in making the record was to tell the truth as I saw it, and in life, we don’t always get the answers we seek. As far as how it influenced the music, none of the songs have a lot of resolution. There are abrupt endings or endings where the music doesn’t return to the 1 chord of the key. I want the listener to feel heard and seen, but I don’t know if I want them to feel fulfilled.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
KH: Recovery Songs was an approach I hadn’t done before. I kept a mic and basic demoing setup next to my bed and every morning I woke up and just started recording ideas. These songs needed to come out of me and all I did was give them the space to do so. Normally in my songwriting approach, I will have a melody, or a lyric, and I will let it bloom and take shape over a series of weeks while I’m off living life. I’ll record a chorus idea into my voice memos and then add a verse and a bridge a month later. But with this album, I was writing every day. Since the making of this album, my process has shifted to an “off the cuff” approach. I’ll make a whole song in five minutes, get a snack and then figure out what worked.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
KH: Death Cab for Cutie “Transatlanticism”. Everytime I listen to it, I notice something new. That’s what I want my music to do. Ben Gibberd does such a great job of telling the story using all elements of the song, not just the lyric. I keep finding myself returning to that song for guidance and inspiration.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?
KH: When I was in the DIY punk/rock scene, I just couldn’t be taken seriously. The gatekeepers were men who wanted to sleep with me, but didn’t want to sign me to their label, or invest in my bands music. It felt a lot like shopping for a used car. No matter how learned I was, the man selling me the car only saw one thing. In the years since, my experience as a woman in my field is much more nuanced. I don’t work with many cis men, but I also have that option because I’m no longer in the east-coast DIY scene. I have a more diverse pool of collaborators and industry professionals now. I wouldn’t say I was able to overcome it, as much as I was able to find my own scene in Los Angeles where I get to surround myself with inclusivity and respect.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
KH: I want to write a song with Carly Rae Jepson. I think we would have a lovely time. I have always looked up to Against Me! and it would be a dream come true to tour with them, someday when tours are a thing again. I would also love to sing with Miguel. His voice transcends logic, TBH
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
KH: I have a long list! Since I touched upon inclusivity already, I would really like the value of an artist’s work to not be determined by their Spotify streams or instagram followers. I don’t just mean monetarily. I mean their cultural relevance. I have friends who write incredible albums but they aren’t given the same opportunities because they aren’t verified. I’d really like to see this aspect of the industry change.
Subhi is an artist who mixes Hindi folk and American pop into something wonderful. She is getting to release an EP. Today she releases the single “In My Way.”
“I wrote and recorded this song in one single session with my producer in LA. It was magical. When I finished the song, I did not fully understand why this song came to me so fast. It took me a couple of months to fully acknowledge what my subconscious knew all along – sometimes, you need to get out of your own way to see the path ahead of you.”
On her life and music Subhi says
“I moved to the States when I was 16 years old. It took me many years to accept my new home. Being an Indian American, I often wondered where I belong.
When I graduated from college, typical of the Indian community, I pursued a financially secure career. I worked on Wall Street with a top-tier investment bank, but I was not happy somewhere deep inside. It wasn’t until a music internship with the Oscar-nominated filmmaker Mira Nair that I realized I wanted to create music full-time. It took me three careers to accept that I wanted to be a singer/songwriter. Once I discovered my true passion, there was no going back.
For a long time, I struggled with my multi-cultural identity. Being an Indian American artist, I have lived my life in two worlds. It’s like I have two identities: the Bollywood loving Indian and the Chicago based pop-loving American. I felt I needed to pick one language for my music. It took me years to accept that I don’t have to choose, and I don’t have to ask anyone. I needed to be vulnerable to be comfortable. Finally, I have found the balance and my sound.”
You may have heard Nadia Vaeh’s “Anxiety” and now you get to see it.
“Anxiety is a fabric of my life, as it is for so many others. This world breeds anxiety as if it were positive for us. Sometimes I am able to channel my anxieties in a positive way; other times, it can disable my ability to function. It just depends on the day… sometimes the hour,” explains Vaeh. “I am just glad society is arriving at a place where we can keep the topic of mental health a bit more open. The more we embrace the light and dark sides of the human experience, the easier it is to recognize and enjoy the goodness.”
Vaeh is donating a portion of the proceeds to MusiCares, a non-profit organization incorporated into the GRAMMY (NARAS) organization which has provided over $60 million in health, financial and rehabilitation resources to music people in times of need. Vaeh says, “I want to help my music family. My peers need help more than ever with the state of the world. The entertainment industry is so high pressure, and this organization helps artists navigate the mental health issues that can arise or become exacerbated from these pressures.”
Vaeh is a Los Angeles based pop artist who has been releasing a number of singles including “Naked”, “Rise”, “Boomerang” and others. She has been an activist and donated proceeds from other projects to: Girls Up, Human Rights Campaign, Alliance of Hope and Peace Over Violence.
“The inspiration behind this song was no matter how you sin, you can still be close to God,” says Bia. “Durk was the perfect fit for this song because he’s authentic and he brought the energy to match mine.”
Rituals of Mine is releasing Hype Nostalgia on Friday September 25. Rituals of Mine is the project of Terra Lopez. She has just released the single “Trauma.”
“While writing HYPE NOSTALGIA I was really working through the concept of intergenerational trauma and realized that I’ve been carrying my parents’ individual traumas my entire life,” says Lopez. “To realize that you’ve been living with someone else’s pain for so long was a very emotional headspace to be in and I was determined to start the process of shedding that mental weight so that I could break the cycle of abuse, violence, and suffering that I was born into. The line ‘trauma could never figure me out’ is an ode to myself and to the fact that despite the circumstances around me, I didn’t succumb to it. I persevered, I continue to persevere. This song is for anyone that might resonate with fighting every single day to break the cycle. If you know, you know.”
Lopez further explains the video, “To be able to take heavy subject matter and create something with your friends was very healing and cathartic. Vanessa Rees took the amazing photos that you see throughout the video to help give it some texture and I just love the contrast and the urgency that the photographs bring. It reminds me of a forensic investigation, which is sometimes how exploring your own trauma can feel like.”