Artist Spotlight Interview - azure wolf
In a string of releases throughout 2020, Azure Wolf has been gracing us with their particular brand of dream alt-rock.
Starting with the ambient and cinematic stylings of "Love, Mother" we get a feel for the emotionally driven standpoint of Azure Wolf. Soaking in beautiful soundscapes and powerful vocals reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks is a wonderous experience.
Following that up with "Dancing Bears"; a radio single that rocks a bit harder without losing their ambient and distant tone. A very catchy and feel good track, the band is clearly showing different sides to their songwriting.
The latest in the set is called "19" and it pulls you in straight away with it's almost surf guitars and mature pop tendencies. Touching on a vintage pop sound using 80's synths and combining them with their staple sound works incredibly well.
We wanted to have a chat with Azure Wolf to find out more about everything. So we did.
RAG: So let's start with "19". This track has a great melodic pop rock vibe to it with a bit of edge and pretty descriptive lyrics. Where did this track come from?
Victoria Backle (Singer/Songwriter, Guitar): “19” is actually written about COVID. We
had a whole summer lined up with live shows and of course everything got cancelled,
so we took to writing as a means to stay busy. “19” was the first song to come out of
that creative momentum. The nice thing about this song is that it kind of has a double
meaning. We’ve received a lot of feedback that people think nineteen is about age and
leaving home for the first time. I really appreciate that interpretation; it’s not what I had
in my mind while writing it, but I can really relate to that side of it too.
Isaac Foltz (Singer/Songwriter, Lead Guitar): We had a really awesome trajectory
planned for shows, releasing music and the whole year. The song was born out of
frustration of loss, but harnessed the spirit of fun and party-like energy that we have as
individuals. “19” was a lot fun to play guitar on. I tried to approach it with as much of a
care free sound as possible. Hopefully it ages well as a fun sounding relic of the
Tommy Moore (Drums): From a drumming perspective, this is a very “Dave Grohl”
influenced beat. I’ve always wanted to do a sock-hop/50s style rhythm in a song and so
I tried it on this track. Grohl does it on Nirvana’s “Serve the Servants” and I always
thought it was cool that he used it in a rock style. The chorus was kind of boring, at
least from a drum standpoint, so I switched it up with a couple different time signatures
to accent the lyrical cadence that Victoria laid down.
RAG: "19" looks like it's part of a string of singles you've released throughout this year. Is there an album coming or more singles before the end of the year?
Victoria: We’ve been working incredibly hard on our debut album which is set to release
in 2021. We just wrapped up recording last month and we’re now in the mixing and
mastering process. There will be nine songs on the debut which will include a
revamped version of our single, “Love, Mother”, as well as eight other songs you
haven’t heard before. We’ve actually been writing so much that we have songs already
completed for a second album. We’ve been really riding this wave and don’t plan on
stopping any time soon.
Sean Spencer (Bass/Synth): We’ve had writing fever for some time now, honestly, and
the album we have coming out next year is the product of a lot of that ambition. As
Victoria mentioned, we’ve been writing songs for the second album already, and it still
feels like we are uncovering hidden pieces of who we are as a band in every new
composition, which feels exciting!
RAG: I also really loved "Dancing Bears" quite a lot. Some of these songs have a touch
of 80's alt-pop in the songwriting. What are your real musical influences? What
bands really changed you?
Victoria: We get that a lot with these songs and what’s funny is that the 80s are the least
inspiring decade for me. “Dancing Bears” was a Sean creation. The other three of us
were sitting outside smoking and we heard him play that synth intro part upstairs. We
quickly ran up and grabbed our instruments and within thirty minutes we had this song.
It was the first song we all wrote together, actually.
I have a huge infatuation with the 50s, 60s and 90s; especially Elvis Presley, Frank
Sinatra, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Nirvana, The Doors, etc. I pretty much dig
anything where one of the main instruments is the human voice. I think you’ll hear a lot
of those influences on our debut album.
Isaac: “Dancing Bears” was a song that let me channel some of my favorite modern
indie-pop bands like Walk the Moon and The Bleachers. I also enjoy indie and post-rock
sounds like Interpol, The National, Arcade Fire, etc. Some of those records, especially
“Turn on the Bright Lights,” by Interpol have deeply impacted my sound on guitar. Deep
diving through old Kings of Leon albums like “Youth and Young Manhood” or Dawes’
“Nothing is Wrong” is what influenced me to want to write songs and be part of a band.
Sean: “Dancing Bears” is one of my favorites to play due to the dance-y, weaving nature
of the synth and beat. I think that it comes from a place in my musical history that I’ve
never really gotten to express on stage before. Dance/pop has always been a feel-good
genre for me and greatly inspired my parts in that song.
I’d say my approach to music really changed when I got into progressive rock: Dream
Theater, Rush, King Crimson, that sort of thing. Any band that felt like it was breaking or
bending compositional rules. Then I got into modern funk and jam bands like Lettuce,
Umphrey’s McGee, Sunsquabi and JRAD; that sort of connected the rule-breaking of
music with contemporary rock-band structure. You may not hear many of these
influences in Azure Wolf, but I think that they really structure how I approach
Tommy: I think we brought a couple of different influences into this track; some were
conscious and others were accidental. I think you can hear a lot of U2’s Joshua Tree in
this track, especially from Isaac’s guitar parts. Vocally, I think there’s a lot of influence
from Alanis Morsette and the beginning has a “Baba O’Reilly” feel going on. A lot of
different things at play, but overall it’s just an upbeat pop song.
RAG: How did all of this actually start for you?
Victoria: Azure Wolf was originally my solo folk project. It was just me, my songs and
an acoustic guitar. Isaac came on board as my lead guitarist and added that
fundamental Azure Wolf sound; we wouldn’t be the band we are without his tone.
Tommy eventually found me at an open mic and a professional connection quickly
turned into a friendship and the rest is history. Sean was the last to join us, but we
knew immediately after his audition that he was the missing piece. We have a power
line-up now I wouldn’t trade for the world. Just over one year later and Azure Wolf is a
completely evolved project.
Sean: I had been playing with a handful of other projects in the area, almost all of them
were jam or jazz focused, but I was just trying to envelope myself in as much music as
possible. I saw that Victoria had posted on social media about needing a fill-in bassist
and I liked what I’d heard from Azure Wolf, so I figured I’d be happy to help them along
until they found the right person. After the first time we played together I knew this band
was honestly in love with their craft. They were openly creative and collaborative and
they had a rocking sound that brought me back to what I had wanted to do with my
music when I first picked up a guitar 15 years ago. So when they asked me to join full
time I answered pretty quickly… “Yes!”
Isaac: I answered an ad, which sounds like how bands in the 80s got together. I was
sitting in a Taco Bell after having an audition earlier that evening for a band I was not a
good fit for. I saw on Facebook in a local music page that Victoria was looking for
another musician to add to her group, so I listened through her catalog of songs on
SoundCloud. I could immediately tell that she was incredibly talented, and I wanted to
be a part of anything she was doing creatively. She invited me to jam a few days later
and we clicked instantly.
RAG: Did you play live shows before and are you planning on performing live when the
Victoria: Yes, we stay very active with live performances. We just headlined an outdoor
show at State Theatre in DC last weekend and it felt so good to play for a live audience
again. We’ve also done two livestreams, with a third one coming up, since COVID. You
can actually buy tickets for our upcoming livestream from DC9 on November 30th here:
RAG: You are doing very well and it looks like you're gaining fans. Is there any advice
you'd give to other aspiring bands or artists just trying to get heard out there?
Victoria: Stick to it. I think one of the biggest pieces of misinformation that a musician
can receive is that it’s all just supposed to “happen”. It doesn’t. It’s a ton of hard work,
shameless self-promotion and grinding your fingers to the bone – all just for the hope it
will be worth it in the end. Believe in your project, take it as far as you can and enjoy
the ride. That’s all we can do!
Tommy: Just try to go out and be in the mix as much as you can. If you have a few
songs then go hit every open mic or livestream it yourself if going out isn’t an option for
you. The biggest thing is to always create momentum for yourself so you can move
forward to the next thing. Be visible on every platform, network with people, pay it
forward and go out to other people’s shows. Show up for people and they will show up
for you. I found Azure Wolf by going out and checking out open mics. I wasn’t even
looking for a band, but you never know who you’ll meet!
Isaac: A year ago, my go-to advice and personal mantra was “play shows, don’t suck.”
With shows being limited and phased out for the year, it seems like dated advice. Now
is a perfect time to focus on the intention of your art and creativity. Most of what we’ve
written has been during this year, having no shows, and only time to ourselves. Self-
reflection is an excellent pathway to honest creation.
RAG: Do you have anything you'd like to express to your fans before we go?
Victoria: We feel incredibly grateful for everyone who believes in what we’re doing.
Azure Wolf is indebted to the friends, family and fans that have loyally supported us
since the beginning. We will always do our best to make you all proud and to continue
making music that is honest and authentic.
Sean: Thank you, thank you, thank you for every effort made to help us pursue this wild
dream. Every moment of success for us is shared with all of you at heart. I wish all of
you safety, well-being and happiness.
Check out Azure Wolf
Artist Spotlight Interview - Louie blair
Louie Blair just dropped a fresh track called "Vibin"; a massively relatable smooth R&B banger that isn't afraid to express exactly what it means.
Blair is very straight forward lyrically and passionate vocally and the song boasts some incredibly radio viable style.
"Vibin" grows and shines further as it does and Blair has also now released it's acoustic counter part. "Vibin (Acoustic)" is also just as smooth but with a different atmosphere and lets you almost feel like you are seeing him perform live in the room.
Released as part of a series of singles dropped throughout the year, there is plenty to soak in and we wanted to have a chat with Louie to talk about it all.
RAG: So Louie, "Vibin'" Acoustic was a super smooth R&B song with soulful vocals and it feels passionate. Where did this song come from?
Louie: The song is about this girl that was just giving me crazy mixed signals, showing me how we’re great together and having a great time one second, and then she would go hang with these bozos and get her heartbroken and complain to me about it. I wrote this song out of frustration one night after we were hanging out and she left early to go hang with one of the before mentioned bozos. I plugged my guitar into my loop pedal and played those 2 main chords and wrote that song in like 2 hours. I’m pretty sure it’s the fastest I’ve ever written a song.
RAG: "Vibin" Acoustic seems like a solid follow up to your "Simple" single released earlier this year. Your songs have a very radio friendly style. Do you set out to create singles for radio when you write your songs?
Louie: I don’t really think about radio when I write a song. I try to make sure that if someone puts my song in a playlist that it doesn’t stand out in a bad way, but that’s definitely not my main focus. If you’ve heard my song I Stayed Up All Night, that song has a spoken word poem in the middle of it and that definitely isn’t something you’d hear on the radio. I think putting the spoken word poem in the song might have hurt its chances of getting radio play but I think it was overall the best choice for the song.
RAG: How did you start doing all of this?
Louie: I have been singing for awhile in choir and stuff but it really all started with song-writing. I went through some grief and some heartbreak that really weighed on me and I was able to use song-writing to let go of those things that were weighing me down. I also noticed that when you write music in this way, it captures the purest essence of whatever you’re feeling. I also learned how to use this method to not just write about sad stuff. Since then I’ve just been addicted to it. Nothing compares.
RAG: "Vibin" was originally a song on your 2018 Love And Lust EP. The EP has gained you some strong following. Did you expect to build a fanbase when you started this?
Louie: I am definitely working to create a fanbase. I think that’s one of the most rewarding parts of song-writing. I can release super vulnerable music and people going through similar stuff will reach out and tell me how much my song helped them get through what they were going through. Not only that, but it also let’s me know I’m not crazy or alone. That’s overall what I want to do for other people too, validate people’s feelings.
I will say, before I released the Love and Lust EP I had no real understanding of the music industry which created unrealistic expectations. I thought I could ask friends and family to share my songs on their social media and that I would go viral from just that. Now I realize the grind it really takes, you have to build your brand and get discipline. I’ve been really trying to master those two things.
RAG: There are some great styles on these songs. Can you tell us what artists really influenced you? Who changed you and made you want to do this?
Louie: I had a high school choir teacher, Mr. Roemer, and he was super influential in getting me to believe in myself and taught me a ton about music. I also have a mentor right now, Jeremy Ray, who has been teaching me a ton about Sound Engineering and Recording which has allowed me to make music entirely by myself. I am forever great full for everything these two have done to help me.
Musically, number 1 is Frank Ocean. He’s just a tier above the rest to my ears. He is also the first legendary singer-songwriter that I heard with a similar vocal range as me. Before I found Frank Ocean, I tried to sing a lot of Bruno Mars who is also a huge inspiration of mine. Bruno’s voice is just too high though, that man’s range is insane. Frank showed me I could be great even though I didn’t have a godly range. I listen to a ton of different music that all inspires me for different reasons. Some of my other musical influences include: Daniel Caesar, Ed Sheehan, Damien Rice, Jason Mraz, Bryson Tiller, Pink $weats, Miguel, Drake, Alabama Shakes, The Beatles, Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty, Kanye, Childish Gambino, Travis Scott (I saw him at Astroworld and it was the best live show I’ve ever been to).
Besides music, I take a lot of inspiration from pop culture. I quote Robin Williams and Naruto more than the Bible.
What ultimately got me to commit to pursuing a music career was I genuinely started to believe in myself. I’ve always wanted to be a musician, but for the longest time I thought it was unrealistic. I made music a low pressure hobby for awhile, but it just hit a point where I was like… “these songs are actually good!” Then I thought about, "what more could I really ask for as a starting point to pursue a music career?” I’m a white middle-class choir kid from America, the center of the world’s entertainment industry. I really do believe my music has potential to help a lot of people, and that’s my ideal life, so I have to go for it. This could be the only life we get, and I don’t want to hate myself when I’m old because I was too scared or lazy to explore my potential.
RAG: Do you have anything else in the works for this year? Are you releasing any other singles we can look out for?
Louie: I JUST released a song called “Everything” out now on all streaming platforms. This song is a tier above anything I’ve released so far, please go check it out. Vibin (Acoustic) was really a warm-up for the new lineup of singles I have coming out. I’m trying to drop a new song every 2 months or so for awhile. Please tune in and follow me on this journey.
I also post covers every other week on my YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. I post the full cover videos on my YouTube and then post shorter clips on Instagram and TikTok. I try to use these to showcase my influences.
Follow me on ALL social media: @louieblairmusic
RAG: Is there any advice you would give to young artists out there trying to get heard?
Louie: I think the most important thing at the start is to slay your excuses. It’s ok to recognize that something is holding you back, but it’s not ok to accept those things as a road block. The goal is not to find valid excuses as to why you didn’t live your best life, the goal is to live your best life.
So if you think you need a nicer microphone, monitors, subwoofer, interface, plug-ins, etc. Get them and see if they fix the problem. I know that’s easier said than done, it took me years to get everything I need for my home studio. You’ve got to keep fixing the leaks until there are no more leaks. Sometimes, you fix one thing and it exposes another thing that needs to be fixed. That is ok, trust your gut, chase down your excuses and slay them. Don’t listen to those people that try to convince you that you can make a hit with a trash setup because you’ll just get frustrated and burnt out.
RAG: Before we go, is there something you'd like to express to your fans?
Follow me on ALL social media: @louieblairmusic
Go save my songs to your music library. I’m on Spotify, Apple Music, etc.
I might be dropping some Merch soon so be on the lookout for that.
Thank you everyone listening for following me and supporting what I’m doing!
Check out Louie Blair
Artist Spotlight Interview - Kittn
KiTTN a brand new single dubbed "I Know You So Well" and it's got an incredibly smooth radio feel crossing hip hop and R&B with a fresh beat and ambient reverbed tones.
The song is quickly addicting but the chorus is a major hook. You find yourself singing it to yourself hours later. That's something hard to accomplish but KiTTN pulls it off with ease.
With a flawless flow and some great production combined with layered vocal tracks, this track has it all and with a relatable topic to boot.
KiTTN is paving the way into the hip hop world.
We had to sit down with KiTTN and talk about this song and more.
RAG: So let's start off with "I Know You So Well", this is a really catchy track with some different styles of R&B and hip hop rolled up into one solid song. Where did this song come from? What's it about?
KiTTN: Thanks so much! I was up late perusing beats on Beatstars back in February and stumbled upon this one, which was produced by Hossy Beats and Zatan Prod. The deep bass and bright chords in the intro immediately piqued my interest. I wrote the hook "well, well, well, well, well" first, then the chorus came to me. This beat feels mysterious and mellow but still makes your head bop, so I wanted my lyrics to fit that mode. I'm an emotional person and am always analyzing my feelings. My partner and I were having a discussion about being in past relationships with people who think they're playing you on the side and in secret, when in actuality you already know about it. But, rather than sulking in sorrow, this song talks about confidently (and slightly sarcastically) walking away from those relationships with your head held high.
RAG: "I Know You So Well" is part of a string of single releases you've been pumping out throughout this year. What's your songwriting process? Do you start with lyrics, or beats? How does it work for you?
KiTTN: At the start of the year, I made a goal for myself to release a minimum of one song per month, which felt manageable with my work schedule. I set aside time on the weekends, typically outside in the mornings. That is not to say that songs don't randomly come to me at other times, but I do like to have additional time on my calendar where I can zone out and write without distractions, especially if I'm working on multiple songs at once and they need to be finished. Most times I will write lyrics first, more specifically the verses. While I'm writing, I usually have a melody and tempo in mind so I'll start drumming on my knee and humming aloud. I Know You So Well originated during one of those rare moments where the beat inspired my lyrics.
RAG: It definitely seems like making music is something you've been doing for a long time. How did this all start for you?
KiTTN: I have been musically inclined all my life. My cousin has this funny story where he says when I was a new born, he was playing music on a boombox for me, placed it in my crib, accidentally left it there for hours and upon his return to retrieve it I had been smiling! I guess it all started there. I could always play instruments by ear and took piano lessons off and on as a child. My real spark occurred in high school (shout out to Mather High School in Chicago!). I joined the Beginners Orchestra and signed up to learn how to play the Upright Bass. My first week I hated it. I thought it was oddly shaped, heavy and didn't sit at the forefront of songs enough. My teacher Ms. Mostardini (Ms. M.) urged me to stick with it for at least two more weeks. I took her up on that offer and started to take my learning it more seriously; I wanted to give it a fair shot before having it in my mind that I'd switch to violin soon. I stayed late after school, locked myself in a practice room, and played Canon in D from start to finish everyday. After the second week, I was obsessed with this beautifully strong and powerful instrument that I had so wrongfully misjudged. Halfway through the year, Ms. M. placed me in the Advanced Orchestra class and I was lead bass through the end of my senior year. Some classmates and I also formed a jazz band, and we played in the talent show every year. I also sang back-up for G Mar (another rising star musician) in one of those shows! As far as writing, I have always written short stories and poems. Over the years, my stories started to transform, and I've been writing songs ever since.
RAG: You've been hitting songwriting pretty hard. Will you be performing live when the time comes?
KiTTN: I definitely want to perform asap! In fact, before the pandemic I had just started to research rehearsal spaces in my area. In the meantime, I am planning to host a small concert via IG Live Stream, so stay tuned for that.
RAG: Gaining some fans and followers this year, it seems like it's all working out for you. There are a lot of artists trying to get heard. What would you tell them? Any advice?
KiTTN: I would absolutely advise any artist trying to increase their followers and gain more fans to take a more personalized interest in their engagement. One of my favorite ways to engage with people is through sending voice memo DMs on IG. It's a great way to connect and get to know who your fans are, where they come from, and why they like your music. If someone takes time out of their day to tell me that my music resonates with them, it's important to thank them and let them know I care. As an artist, I'm not only creating music that I want to listen to, I'm also creating content to move people and build connections. I have also found success in building a website and sending out monthly newsletters to my fans. It's a great way to share any updates which might not make it to the 'gram, and once again an additional outlet for fans to stay connected to you. I don't want to only share how I'm doing, I want to know who my fans are, what they're doing and what kinds of songs they want to hear from me in the future. Lastly, hosting Q&A's is another great way to be accessible. People want to know the context behind your songs and get to know the person behind the lyrics; what better way to convey that message than through a live stream?
RAG: Give us your top 5 artists that really made it happen for you. We'd love to know your real influences in music.
KiTTN: Only 5?! I am inspired by so many artists. I'd say my top influences would be Kaytranada, J Dilla, Chaka Khan, MC Lyte and Rapsody. For me, Rapsody has been especially inspiring because she is taking rap and hip hop back to its roots and celebrating lyricism. And that's my goal as well.
RAG: Are you working on new songs still right now?
KiTTN: I'm always writing several songs at once. I have several unfinished songs in the works. I also just recorded two songs which I plan to release before the year is over. My next release is self titled KiTTN and the video will be featuring afro pop sisters JammersGH. It is a celebration of me feeling comfortable in this space (as a rapper), owning my craft and staying true to who I am.
RAG: Before we go, what would you say to your fans?
KiTTN: Thank you for rocking with me and showing love! I appreciate each and every one of you and value your opinions so keep that feedback coming. You all inspire me to keep going.
Check out KiTTN
Artist Spotlight Interview - Human Tribes cOllective
Human Tribes Collective just released a massive album titled Codes Of Creation and it's a virtual swaray of blended instrumentation and a carefully curated set of tribal rooted tracks that have the ability to take you to what feels like a different world.
A gorgeous fusion of endless world percussion and ethereal sounds with a variety of stringed instruments swirling through the air on each and every track.
There is a clarity and spirituality you can actually feel when listening to this record in full.
There's a hugeness behind the Codes Of Creation album and we wanted to sit down with Human Tribes Collective. Here is how it went down.
RAG: Hey guys! So first off, the Codes Of Creation album is full of great sounds and a slightly foreign theme as well. Is this a concept album? Where did this come from?
HTC: Thanks for hearing the global fusion. It's interesting how Western-centric musical perspectives are. That this is American-made album is a bit of a head trip. But, it's less concept and more of a co-created album with the ancestors, angels and spirits that were channeled. Creating it was a mystical experience. It just came through as if it was already fully formed and the songs were just playing themselves through sound and vibration. There are definitely universal themes in the lyrics... Earth destruction and eco-justice, human rights, peace and unity. But the topics weren't preconceived. It all really just happened in the moment.
RAG: So are you guys an actual collective? How did all of this start?
HTC: Not currently but that's the intention for future releases. I'm just one guy working with sound and energy drawing on the feeling of my global travels to Africa and Asia along with a couple of decades of contemplative practices. Honestly, I don't know how Human Tribes came to be. It was willed through me despite how strange that may sound. The creative process was like conscious breath.
RAG: This album is absolutely massive! Did it take you a while to get it all together?
HTC: Thank you! I'm grateful to know that you're feeling it. I've been toying around with loose ideas for a few years, but never spent any real focused time writing. I'd throw some sounds together and forget about it for a year or two. Then in February, just before Covid-19 hit the states, with just very minimal instrumentation and no real song form, the full sound of each song came through me over three days. What you're hearing is mostly first or second take. I just surrendered to the flow and then the album appeared after what felt like a conscious trance for those few days.
RAG: I'd actually love to know some of your biggest influences. What bands or artists really changed you?
HTC: Coltrane changed me. A Love Supreme from his classic quartet physically stopped me the first time I heard it. It's such a pure album, egoless album. His late period is all spirit. And oddly, the Allman Brothers Band did that to me as well. That founding band from '69-'71 hit the highest frequency. Those two groups opened me up to all of the seekers in musical history, mostly from the free jazz and improvisational disciplines... Pharoah Sanders, Eric Dolphy, Sun Ra, William Parker, Hamid Drake, Daniel Carter and countless others. Dub reggae is a huge influence on my production... Scientist, King Tubby, Lee Scratch Perry, Augsutus Pablo, Mad Professor. I own a bunch of "Folk Music of..." albums from countries like Albania and Turkey to various countries in Africa and Asia that was relevant to this album. I'm a big fan of the classic songwriting legends. I love classic rock, funk and soul, roots reggae, dancehall, 90s conscious hip hop, freak folk, experimental music from Japan, Krautrock and current alternative. But there's something about the golden ages of a lot of these now-classic genres. It's the energy of discovery in every note. It was uncharted territory when it was first created. That feeling... that's what inspires me most. Maybe that's what's going on with Human Tribes.
RAG: If the time comes soon, will you be putting anything together to play live?
HTC: I'd love to find a way to do it live with a group of musicians instead of triggering samples. We'll have to see. At this moment in history, I'm not seeing any light to those pre-covid live experiences we all love. The cooperative leadership around the globe is questionable at best. So we'll have to find new methods.
RAG: Some crazy instrumentation is going on with this record, lots of percussion and is that sitar? What instruments are on this?
HTC: Yeah, there's percussion from India, Morocco and Egypt. There are stringed instruments from Thailand and Tanzaniza. It's not a sitar you're hearing though. Possibly a Santoor, that harp-like instrument on "Camel Head." That prominent stringed instrument on "Chetan" is, I think, called a Gunibri from Morocco. It's handmade, four strings with camel skin for the body and a round fretless wood neck. I also used apps, synths and used MIDI patches, tweaking sounds, EQs and adding various effects. But one thing was clear... no guitars, bass or drums. I do that in my other projects, Light Warriors and Ecstatica. There was no impulse for rock instruments.
RAG: Will this be it for you or will you be working on new material again soon? What's next for you?
HTC: This feels like a beginning of an emerging sound, a true vibe and a grounded spirit. I'd love to collaborate with people from around the world who feel the same. I believe that will happen in a natural flow as Codes gets heard. But more immediately, I'm finishing up music for my main project, Light Warriors (Insta @lightwarriors). That's a 7-piece band that blends rock, funk, improv, reggae. I have a few other projects in progress as well for my label, Highest Frequency Records (https://highestfrequencyrecords.bandcamp.com) which is coming up on five years in January 2021.
RAG: Before we go, is there anything you'd like to express to fans of your music?
HTC: Yeah. It's easy to slip into a dark vortex in these times. But I'm hopeful that once we get through this darkness, music will re-emerge as the deep spiritual force of communication and healing that it was at its origins. A lot of important music is going to come out of this period because for the first time in history every person in the entire world is affected by one thing. That's a unifying force. The sleepers are awakening. And art and music will increasingly feed that transformation instead of solely being a product of commerce and competition for popularity. Going back to what we were before Covid doesn't work for humanity or heal the Earth. Music is essential in humanity's transformation. We have no choice but to evolve. So I'm ultimately optimistic. I hope people check the album out and enjoy exploring the codes within. And I'd love to connect with fans and learn what this music reveals for them. Our Insta is @humantribescollective. Thanks for great questions. May peace prevail within you and on Earth.
Check out Human Tribe Collective
Artist Spotlight Interview - Cowboy Grizzly
In a series of single releases, Cowboy Grizzly has unleashed an array of psychedelic indie rock with some outstanding guitar work and a southern undertone.
The latest of the batch is called "ARRIV3" and it certainly takes you on a bit of a musical journey. 70's keys bop along while slide guitars rock giving the song a rocked out Beach Boys vibe.
The vocals also seem influenced by Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) with smoothly woven harmonies taking you off into a floaty dream state. Guitars that follow the melodies embed the hooks in your brain and you have no problem with that.
Scattered synths and organs full the air and the song becomes it's own atmospheric planet. And yes, there is a space rock aspect concept wise as well.
With so much going on, we wanted to sit down with Cowboy Grizzly to find out more. So we did just that.
RAG: So "Resolve" is a beautifully layered instrumental that has a feel of real deal classic rock like it was recorded in the 70's. This is a great sound you've mailed down. Where did this track come from?
Cowboy Grizzly: Thank you! I really enjoy sonically rich music that keeps you coming back for more, I feel like the music that I enjoy the most is music that keeps revealing new things to me the more that I listen. This song came from a desire to give myself a sense of peace concerning my present situation in life, I wanted to create a sonic landscape that was free from the chaos of 2020, something that felt soothing and tranquil. I am a lover of folk music and the psychedelic music of the 60's and beyond. Nick Drake was a big inspiration for this song, the way that he is able to evoke unique feelings and sounds with his guitar playing was something that I was aiming towards. I had the main guitar line for a while and it was kind of just sitting in my computer and I didn't know what to do with it, but I opened up the garage band file one day and started playing this counter guitar line and it just all sort of clicked. I didn't feel that I wanted to distract from the interplay between the two guitar parts, so I just added some slight textural percussion and a synth layer to kind of give it some more atmosphere and that ended up being the song.
RAG: Do you do a lot of those kind of tracks?
Cowboy Grizzly: I have tried to do instrumental tracks like this before, but they have never quite landed in the same way that I feel 'Resolve' has. I feel like writing instrumental music that I find compelling is a tricky task for me, being able to convey an emotion or feeling without adding language to give context is something that I think is magical about music. I could feel a certain way about this instrumental, but it might evoke an entirely different feeling in another listener, I think its all about the context in which the music is being heard.
RAG: I'd really like to know more about Arriv3. This song also keeps that cross between indie rock and classic rock with loads of great vocal harmonies and melodies. The guitars are so great too. Did you write the lyrics first? or does the music come first?
Cowboy Grizzly: Thank you so much! Arriv3 is an interesting tune for me, it came about in a way that I'm always chasing in my songwriting. My good friend and longtime musical partner and collaborator, Simeon Williams of Wild Daydream, and I were in the middle of a recording session for my upcoming album, Growing Pains, and we decided to take a break to jam and blow off a little bit of steam as we often do during our sessions. I started playing a pretty simple chord progression, and in classic Simeon fashion, he started playing a lap steel guitar riff that just completely elevated the progression. We knew that we had something good, so we put the recording of my album on pause and we recorded the rhythm guitar and lap steel tracks together and then just started adding pieces and parts until we felt we had a solid instrumental track. Simeon began writing the lyrics and we bounced ideas back and forth and wrote the lyrics for the song in the same day and then recorded the vocal melodies and harmonies in just a couple of takes. When all was said and done, we had written the music and lyrics and recorded the tune in the same day that it was conceived. It was one of the most fun experiences I have had making a song, and it just goes to show the musical chemistry that Simeon and I share.
RAG: With all the rock styles in your songs I'd love to know who your main influences are. What bands really changed you?
Cowboy Grizzly: I grew up listening to all different sorts of rock n roll, I remember one of the first bands that I really fell in love with was Van Halen. I had a trampoline in my backyard and I would bring my portable CD player and headphones out there and jump on the trampoline while listening to the song "Jump" on repeat. I would do this pretty regularly and those are some of my fondest memories of my childhood. I don't know that Van Halen has seeped into much of the music that I write today, but I can't shake how in love with their music I was and still am, RIP Eddie! Fleet Foxes was a group that really changed how I saw music and gave me an idea of how I wanted to approach making music, their songs are so melodically driven, while also being musically complex and interesting. There is also a natural element to the music of Fleet Foxes, it almost feels as if they pulled their songs out of the wind rushing through an ancient forest, the connection to nature in their music is unmistakeable. After I discovered Fleet Foxes, I came to think of my music and my creative expression as a sort of spiritual pursuit in a way, trying to almost perfectly articulate the emotion that I feel into music and have it be a reflection of myself and my spiritual growth. Some other bands that I have been in love with throughout my life are Dawes, My Morning Jacket, Local Natives, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, etc. A lot of harmony vocal driven music and I think that definitely comes through in my own music, there is just something special about multiple human voices joining together to create a harmony, it just hit my ear in a way that I love so much.
RAG: How did all of this start for you?
Cowboy Grizzly: I began playing drums around the age of 8 and then started playing guitar when I was 16, and I've been singing basically my whole life, whether at church when I was younger and then in my high school choir and beyond from there. Simeon and I had a band together for a few years in the late 2010's with our good friends Graham Laird, now of Back Acre, and Ryan Parker, now of Urban Cabbage. We have all kind of gone down our own separate musical paths, but we are all still friends and are all making music in some capacity. I'm so grateful for the years that we had together playing shows and jamming around town and in our garages, I look back on those days very fondly. After the band split up, I wrote and then recorded my debut album, Mockingbird, in 2018 with Simeon Williams at my house and his apartment. That was the beginning of Cowboy Grizzly, and since then I've released a pair of EP's and a handful of singles as well.
RAG: Do you think you'll be playing any live shows in the future? Did you used to play life at all?
Cowboy Grizzly: I sure hope that I will be! I have only played one solo show as Cowboy Grizzly, it was for the release of my debut album Mockingbird in 2018 in Fort Worth. Shortly after that I moved down to Austin and have been trying to get a band behind me to be able to play full shows. Lately I have been going to some open mics around town, there are a handful that are opening up since COVID hit in March, and it feels so great to be playing music live, especially in such open, welcome and receptive environments. It feels like people are more grateful just for the opportunity to see somebody play a song live, even if unaccompanied, because it was taken away for what seemed like such a long time.
RAG: You guys have really been doing well, any advice for aspiring bands out there trying to get heard?
Cowboy Grizzly: My advice is to just be consistent, no matter if you feel like you're not getting anywhere or that nobody is paying attention, make sure that you are making music and playing because it is what you love doing. If you are going at it with that mindset, any attention that you receive will just be the cherry on top.
RAG: What do you think will be next for you?
Cowboy Grizzly: I have been working on my follow up record to Mockingbird since early 2019. I finished writing and demoing the songs near the end of 2019 and in to early 2020 and then Simeon and I began recording the tracks in February of 2020. We had to pause for a while to figure out how we were going to go about recording when the pandemic hit, but since then we have finished recording all of the tracks and now Simeon is in the process of mixing and mastering the record. I hope to have the record, titled Growing Pains, out in early December. We have released two singles from the album so far, Like a Child, and I'm Not Sure Quite Yet. The next and final single from the album is titled "This Old Road" and it will be released on November 13, 2020. I am very excited to get this record out into the universe and to let go of it and begin working on new music. This one is definitely a bit more rock n roll than Mockingbird and I feel like it is a bit more chaotic and reflective of the times that we have all been collectively going through.
RAG: Before we go, is there anything you'd want to say to fans out there?
Cowboy Grizzly: I would just like to say thank you to anybody who has taken time out of their life to listen to my music or to support my music in any way. As a small, independent artist, any gesture of support, whether it be the purchase of an album, or just a few words about the music means so much. I survive off of those little nuggets of support and they keep me going when I am feeling unmotivated. I will not stop, I will always make music and I thank anybody who has supported or encouraged me along my musical journey, stay tuned for what's coming next, I think that you are going to like it. God Bless ya
Check out Cowboy Grizzly
Artist Spotlight Interview - Tasch
Tash has recently released a single dubbed "I Miss You", and it's delightfully vintage 80's synth-pop. The song displays everything you'd expect to hear in a sad love scene from a movie in the mid 80's.
Perfectly written and outrageously powerful, "I Miss You" showcases not only the songwriters knack for being able to build an amazing pop track, but her passionate vocals as well.
There is a ton of youthful energy and emotion in her voice and she really holds nothing back on this track. There are so many things that make this song stick with you. So many things that make you want to hit play again once its ended.
We had to sit down with her and talk about her songwriting style, her single, and her inspirations.
Here is what happened.
RAG: So Tasch, "I Miss You" has a very vintage 80's pop sound. We love this of course. Where did this song come from?
TASCH: Thank you, I love the 80's pop sound, too!
I wrote this song back in 2016, which at the time was only an acoustic song. It wasn't until 2019, where I had the epiphany of turning it into an 80's dance track because, there was a point in my life where I didn't want to drown in my pain anymore but to instead... start dancing my pain away.
RAG: We are also in love with the lyric video as it also has that vaporwave feel to it. Did you create that? Amazing work!
TASCH: Thanks so much! I only created the texts over the video and the animated loop video was designed and illustrated by Lisa-Marie Scheunemann. One of her ads just randomly popped up on my Instagram feed and I was blown away by her work. I'm a sucker for animation so, I just send her a message asking if she would animate one of my ideas and she said yes!
RAG: Upon listening to this song we really do hear some amazing vocal power, control, and passion. Can you name us some singers or artists that changed the game for you?
TASCH: I sure can! Whitney Houston, PRINCE, Sam Cooke, Tina Turner, Celine Dion, P!nk and Michael Jackson are at the top for me since I grew up listening to them. I have to stop myself or else I could go on and on about my music influences.
RAG: For a song like I Miss You" I'm wondering how it gets written. Do you start with lyrics? What's your process?
TASCH: Well, the chords formed first and then the lyrics right after. My heart just spilled her entire soul out on paper and bam, "I Miss You" was born. I'm a proud mama, that's for sure; this song is my baby.
RAG: Love the synth sounds on the song as well. Do you have a home set up that you use? Or a certain set of synths?
TASCH: Thank you, I am obsessed with a good synth, and I honestly don't know why it draws me in so much!
I just have my E-Pianos and plugins from Ableton where I managed to create a demo track for the song. But it wasn't good enough so I had to swallow my pride and ego to admit to myself that I needed help, which was very hard for me to do because I'm extremely over protective over my songs. The minute I felt ready, I contacted Joe Wadsworth, the founder of the Online Recording Studio and he set me up with Rahul Prasad, an electronic producer, to help me bring my song to life.
RAG: "I Miss You" is a very powerful and personal song. Can we expect more of this from you in the near future? What's next for you as an artist?
TASCH: Yes, most definitely because "I Miss You" is my first ever single release which means... I'm just getting started! I'm currently working on my second single with another producer, Noiak Bedirian, so I'm excited for that release.
RAG: How did all of this start for you?
TASCH: Singing along to Disney songs when I was really young whilst showering is where I found my love for music. But it wasn't until this year, 2020, where I finally found my freedom to be able to start pursuing a career in music.
RAG: Is there any advice you'd give to other aspiring artists out there?
TASCH: Your signature is powerful, so you need to protect yourself from all types contracts. Therefore, you need to educated yourself about the business sides of music. NEVER sign anything without fully grasping what you're going to sign and NEVER sign anything without a good lawyer that you trust. Because someone presented you with an opportunity, doesn't mean it's a good one.
RAG: What you would you like to express to your fans before we go?
TASCH: Thanks for sticking it out with me on this bumpy, challenging, and hard music journey of mine. Even though you've watched me fail here and there, you still decided to stay and continue to believe and support me; and I just can't thank you enough for that.
Check out TASCH
Artist Spotlight Interview - kaatII
It's with great excitement that we introduce you to Kaatii. A songwriter of phenomenal talent at an age most of us were just getting into comic books, or playing our first chords on a guitar, or for me anyway, walking to the local mall arcade to play Street Fighter II.
At 14 years old Kaatii just dropped her brand new single "Afraid of The Dark". The song is an endlessly catchy pop-rock song that showcases the young songwriters knack for getting you addicted to her vocal hooks and edgy style.
The song shines with a radio friendliness and a Kaatii gives a the performance of a perfectionist seemingly effortlessly.
Best part is, the song gets stuck in your head. You'll be humming the chorus in as you try to fall asleep later that night. Yes, it's one of those.
The single follows her previous single release "Swept Up" which she dropped earlier this year.
Between the two songs it seems like Kaatii is paving her way in the pop arena and we absolutely had to sit down and have a chat with her.
Here's what happened.
RAG: So Kaatii, "Afraid of The Dark" is an incredibly catchy rock song with pop tendencies and a little alternative edge to it. Can you tell us what this track is really about? Where did this song come from? with plenty of pop undertones. What's this song about really? Where did it come from?
Kaatii: This song is honestly a fun way to write about something that actually is not fun at all. I wrote this song with Kara Connolly right after a horrible night of sleep on a writing trip we took to Colorado - I was basically in and out of nightmares and sleep paralysis all night. If you dive into the lyrics, you can tell a bit more that I directly sourced my inspiration for this track from that bad experience, but I got a really cool song out of it so I think it was worth it.
RAG: We heard your previous single "Swept Up" which is also very radio friendly. The song at times gives us a Metric kind of feel. Can you tell us your influences musically? What bands or artists really changed you?
Kaatii: I’m influenced by just about everything I listen to, which is a lot! One influence is Declan McKenna because I’m super into all his music, especially the newer, more experimental stuff. Another influence is Chloe Moriondo because I sometimes love softer, more fun indie stuff with that hint of edginess. Overall, my biggest influence is Beabadoobee. I love her edgier, rock feel, but she still keeps a really nice and dreamy tone to her vocals. I drew a lot of inspiration from her more recent tracks in the writing and production of both songs.
RAG: You're only 14 and what you've done musically so far is insanely impressive. How did this start for you?
Kaatii: Thank you! That means a lot. I started playing guitar when I was 7 after seeing one and falling in love, and I started taking formal voice lessons at age 9. I started gigging at age 10 and wrote my first song when I was 11.
RAG: "Butterfly" has seen some great following with over 5k plays on Spotify alone. Did you expect to see this traction when you started this whole thing?
Jake: “Honestly, when we recorded Butterfly we had no idea what it might become for us. We recorded it in Joel’s living room and got a really good mix back, then uploaded it to Soundcloud. At the time, it didn’t really have a buzz around it. But when we put it to Spotify it just took off. We were reluctant at first to post it on there but we’re so glad we did. We still are in complete awe from all the love and feedback we received.
RAG: So, I think a big thing people would want to know is how you write the songs. Does a melody come to you first? Do you start with lyrics? Acoustic guitar? How does it work for you?
Kaatii: Honestly it’s pretty all over the place, but I usually get an idea, journal/brain dump about it, and find a cool chord progression that fits. I then use some of the stuff I jotted down as inspo for lyrics and let the melody come naturally. Also, I record and gig (almost always) on my electric, but I’ve only ever written on my Martin acoustic guitar.
RAG: It seems like you're really making your own path with these songs. Would you have any advice for other young songwriters out there?
Kaatii: For any other young songwriters out there, don’t rush writing a song. When I write alone, it usually takes me a really long time to find something I like- just be patient with yourself.
RAG: When things calm down a bit, do you think you'll be performing live?
Kaatii: I absolutely love live performances, so you can totally expect me to be getting back out there when it‘s less crazy!
RAG: Is there anything you can tell us about what's coming next for you as an artist?
Kaatii: Right now I’m working on a few more tracks and have hopes to release an EP next year, which is super cool!
RAG: Before we go, is there anything you'd like to share with fans? Anything you want to say?
Kaatii: For all my fans out there, if you think this music stuff looks cool you should give it a try! It’s a ton of fun and writing is a really good way to get emotions out or just have a good time.
Check out Kaatii
Artist Spotlight Interview - All Night Dining
With their spanking new single "Their Must've Been A Reason", All Night Dining churns out a bright and instinctively enticing pop rock track.
Dipped in reverb and peppered with spacey guitars floating about its atmosphere, the song holds true to the bands staple ambient indie rock sound.
Upon spinning the track you get the sense you may have heard it before somewhere due to it's cinematic approach and catchy hooks. It does have a familiar feeling and lyrically it gives a sense of a youthful hopefulness.
A near perfect follow up "Butterfly", the previous single released earlier this year, "There Must've Been A Reason" also bops with a delightfully edgy tone and a fearless set of lyrics.
We had to sit down with All Night Dining to have a talk about all of it.
RAG: So guys, "There Must've Been A Reason" has a great indie rock feel with plenty of pop undertones. What's this song about really? Where did it come from?
Caleb: Thank you. The song is about the difficulty of moving on from a relationship post break-up and looking back wondering what went wrong. Having that person on your mind and being left with questions that you can’t ask them. Wishing you could tell them how you feel but you just can’t.
RAG: This single seems like a perfect follow up to your previous "Butterfly" single release. Do you plan on steadily releasing singles throughout the rest of the year or is there more coming?
Joel: Well we’re already back in the studio working on our next single. We’re really excited for everyone to hear it. We also have big plans for next year.
RAG: So how did you guys become a band? How did it all start for you?
Jamie: Joel and I were together in a band in college and Caleb was in a different one. Caleb then went off to university for a few years and when he got back he messaged me and Joel asking about forming a band. We all continued as a three-piece for a couple of months. Then Caleb bumped into Jake. Jake and Caleb were in a band together in high school so it felt like fate. Me and Joel really didn’t want an extra person because we loved what we had already and didn’t want to jeopardize that. But after the first rehearsal together it just felt right. We haven’t looked back since.
RAG: "Butterfly" has seen some great following with over 5k plays on Spotify alone. Did you expect to see this traction when you started this whole thing?
Jake: “Honestly, when we recorded Butterfly we had no idea what it might become for us. We recorded it in Joel’s living room and got a really good mix back, then uploaded it to Soundcloud. At the time, it didn’t really have a buzz around it. But when we put it to Spotify it just took off. We were reluctant at first to post it on there but we’re so glad we did. We still are in complete awe from all the love and feedback we received.
RAG: Listening to "There Must've Been A Reason" gives me the sense that you'd be a great live band. Did you guys used to perform live a lot? When things calm down, will you get back to that?
Jake: “We were just getting into the swing of things as lockdown started to be honest. We had two shows booked and had several under our belts. We absolutely love playing live. The atmosphere and the energy at one of our shows is indescribable. We can’t wait to get back out there. But until then, we’re writing new songs and in the studio as much as we possibly can.
RAG: Okay give me your absolute top 5 music influences. Yes you have to stick to 5 only, I know it's hard. But what bands really changed or inspired you guys?
Caleb: We all have a wide range in terms of music. Joel is a massive Blink 182 fan. Jamie listens to a lot of Oasis and The Stone Roses, Jake takes influence from Thin Lizzy. I listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin growing up.
RAG: What's your weirdest experience you've had as a band so far?
Jake: “At one of our gigs, we were headlining the final night of a small festival in our hometown (Manchester). We started off our set and a minute into the first song Caleb’s amp blew up. It took him a while to realize that no sound was coming out. He awkwardly tried to fix it while still singing. It took the sound crew till the end of the song to realise he needed a new amp. Not exactly weird - but definitely awkward.
RAG: Is there anything you want to say or express to your fans before we go?
Jake: We just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s supported us on our journey. We can’t wait to get out gigging again when the world is a safer place.
Check out All Night Dining
Artist Spotlight Interview - monroe moon
Monroe Moon released a new EP called "Joy" and it's a beautifully put together set of 3 songs that give off styles reminiscent of bands like Massive Attack, Imogen Heap, and a flurry of 90's alt-pop acts.
Twisted up into ambient guitar grooves, a touch of gloom, ethereal tones, and even piano ballads, the Joy EP hits pretty hard when you're least expecting it.
Tracks like "Hark", a song for Yoko inspired by peace brings a little Metric vibes as it plays through with it's truthful message "The only things that matter are peace, love and freedom".
The introductory track "New American Housewife" makes you feel a little better about being a little crazy. The point still being we should unite and understand each other. We're all the same.
The Joy EP has a very positive and important set of messages in good spirit and it comes through just the way it should.
We had a chat with Monroe Moon about the Joy EP and more.
RAG: So the Joy EP is a warm culmination of ambient guitars and indie-pop beas and the whole project beacons some 90's alternative pop styles. How did this EP come about?
MM: All three songs on the EP were written shortly before the COVID pandemic hit and the world froze. Their meaning and significance to me and the band became clear during lock-down and I felt a real need to put them out as soon as I could, as my expression of how I felt and was reacting to everything that was happening in the world.
RAG: "New American Housewife" is an intriguing song and it feels like it's relatable. What's the song about? Why did you write this one?
MM: "New American Housewife" was unfinished for sometime. It was just a beat and the line "Every body's Crazy, I'm a little crazy" when I went into a deep cannabis transcendental Buddhist meditation wrote "Hark (For Yoko). When I had finished writing "Hark", which was inspired by a day I had spent at Yoko Ono's "Double Fantasy" exhibition in Liverpool, I immediately started writing the rest of "New American Housewife". It just naturally came out of me. Both songs are about peace and unity.
RAG: I can hear a variety of styles on the EP. What are your top artists or bands that really influenced you as an artist? Who changed the game for you?
MM: That's a long list between all of us in Monroe Moon! I am personally influenced by Portishead, Massive Attack, Stone Roses, Poliça, & Cocteau Twins as far as modern music goes, but I listen mostly to classical music and vocal jazz. I haven't gone a single week without listening to Chopin, Erik Satie, Sarah Vaughan, or Billie Holiday since I was a teenager.
RAG: "Prism" ends the EP and is a beautiful piano ballad. Is that how you write your songs? Do they start with just you and a piano and grow from there?
MM: Thank you, yes. Most of the songs I write begin with a seat at my Fender Rhodes. I try to come to the keys with no agenda and I guess you could say I "bang around" until something strikes a chord in me. Once I have an initial chord or two I get very quiet and try to hear what my mind and heart want to hear next, chord progression wise, and I just figure out how to match what my mind is singing with the keys. Sometimes new parts or the bridge will come right away and sometimes it's comes later while I'm taking a bath, scrubbing a floor, or doing Yoga. Sometimes the song will wake me up in the middle of the night with the next progression or with some lyrics.
RAG: How did all this begin for you?
MM: Love began it all, like all good things. Theo, the guitarist of Monroe Moon, and my husband purchased a complete band setup one Christmas for our 5 children. He wanted them to be able to explore all the instruments and find what fit them best. I am an incurable insomniac and I would sneak up at the witching hour and play around myself. Pretty soon I was writing songs, unaware I had any audience at all, when Theo came to me one night to tell me what I was doing was worth while. And so here we are.
RAG: This record has some personal lyrics, do you feel like you use your music to let out how you feel or to really express your emotion sometimes?
MM: I find that truth and reality are a multifaceted thing, like a dodecahedron, and when I am writing music I am like a gem cutter looking at one side, one face of it. When I am gifted with that vision, it's my duty to polish that version of truth to the best of my ability and heart. I could keep going with these geometric solids and lapidary analogies but I'll spare you the stellations. In short, yes, everything I do is an expression of some truth, on some level. It is what makes creating music and art so satisfying and exciting to me.
RAG: What's next for you as a band?
MM: We have a lot of exciting project and prospects that we are working on right now, but everything begins with the music, and that's what is always next for us, more music.
RAG: Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans before we go?
MM: Gratus Aeternum
Check out Monroe Moon
Artist Spotlight Interview - Kristian montgomery and the winterkill band
With the release of the new single "American Fire", Kristian Montgomery and The Winterkill Band digs into some hot topics happening in the world today.
The single goes straight for the throat even with it's opening line "Well the president, he's a fucking liar" and pretty much sets the stage for what you're about to hear next.
What some may say to each other, these guys put into song and it's a brave and powerful punch to the gut complete with banjos and steel strings.
The Americana, politically fueled "American Fire" holds nothing back and even with its sure fire bluntness, does so with a tasteful and catchy tune.
We had to have a chat with Kristian about this song and about the band. Here's what we learned.
RAG: Okay Kristian, "American Fire" is a very upfront and political track. Where exactly did this song come from?
Kristian: American fire came from a frustration in out politics, labor force and way of life in the states. We work til we die and the family dynamic has turned us all into competitors instead of neighbors. We work for a small group of wealthy people who wouldn't know a hard days work if it were shoved up their asses.
RAG: We're hearing plenty of heavy Americana and Country sounds in this song. It's very strong and passionate in regards to lyrics of course. Can you tell us who may have influenced you guys musically? What bands that really changed or inspired you?
Kristian: The album was influenced by Johnny cash, willie Nelson, Chris Whitley and a few others. We are hoping it continues to gain attention as the election and political theater gets more intense . I'm hoping Amy McGrath uses it for her election in Kentucky.
RAG: We think "American Fire" stands out and talks about issues bluntly and that's not something you hear too often in this style of music. Are you shopping to reach people with this track? Getting a point across like this sometimes causes some heat. Do you expect that?
Kristian: Country music has become more right wing propaganda in the states. Beach blankets beer and guns. It used to be about blue collar work, honesty, family , love. But its been abused as the hippies became yuppies and the punks became yuppies and yeah even the cowboys became yuppies music has become a very upper class monopoly. Theirs not a lot of musicians who come from the streets anymore. You have to be wealthy to get out there....unless you're like me and just have to do it and give up other things to do it.
RAG: How did this all start for you?
Kristian: I began playing in Rock bands after my stint in the church choir. I always meshed country and rock together and its become a sub genre that folks have a hard time defining. We are different....like me.
RAG: This isn't your first rodeo. Your album The Gravel Church has certainly gained you a fan base and followers. Did you expect things to pick up so much when you first started this project?
Kristian: I knew these songs were special. The album has been received really well by critics and fans. Its been great, we have that blue collar just trying to get by vibe that connects with people. We work hard to do this and make music and we know that people need a break because they're worked to death in the states.
I can say full heartedly, yes. I am truly proud that when I hit "send files" to my distributer, I absolutely did the best I could do, at that moment in time.
RAG: "American Fire" is a very current song and a great follow up to your previous full length album. Are you planning on releasing more singles throughout the rest of this year?
Kristian: We have a new album "Prince of poverty " coming out soon and American fire was just a tastes of what's to come.
RAG: Is there anything you'd like to express to your fans before we go?
Kristian: I appreciate you asking questions and every bit helps. Hopefully everything will change soon and music will once again be the means by which we can all become close again....instead of distant.
Check out Kristian Montgomery and The Winterkill Band
Artist Spotlight Interview - Skender Beck
The new release from Skender Beck entitled Stars Aligned is an emotional pop-rock ride with haunting vocals and plenty of deep cuts.
Songs build and breathe with grace and tasteful guitar work swirls around you while each song gives it's own raw unique energy.
Packed full of guitar hooks and choruses that take you to another world, Stars Aligned feels like a concept album of sorts as it plays through songs of personal perspective and passionate points of view.
The entire album does seem very personal indeed. You can easily hear a lot of love and soul went into creating this one.
Gorgeous progressions and a kaleidoscope of sounds and stories take you to Skenders world.
We had to talk with the artist about this record amongst other things.
RAG: So Skender, Stars Aligned has a real crossover style between classic and alternative rock, and it's all topped off with a very unique vocal style. The record feels very personal. Can you tell us how this album came about?
Skender: I grew up listening to Pink Floyd, U2 and Classical music. I always appreciated harmonies in the music. As far as my vocals, I got inspired by amazing Toskë Albanian polyphony music. Music was and still is my passion. I sing my heart out every time. Even when I do music videos were you can just move your lips and you’re done. I don’t. Even then I sing as I feel that your voice has to come from your soul and not by some miraculous technique you learn. Honestly I didn’t think I will make an album. I made a song and then had another idea for another song. But then I couldn’t decide which one I should do. All of the sudden I was at my tenth song. At that point I decided to work on my album as the single was not enough for me to express all my creativity.
RAG: There are certainly some epic sounding tracks on the album. At times it sounds pop-rock and one of my favorite things is that sound with your vocal style. It reminds of Roy Orbison a bit. I'd love to know what your actual influences are musically. What band or artists changed your life?
Skender: David Byrne (Talking Heads) and Bryan Ferry (Roxy Music), for sure. I listened a lot of Pink Floyd, Muse, Hothouse Flowers, Talk Talk. Also, guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. His rock guitar style, bringing classical music into rock was mind boggling experience for me when I first heard of him.
RAG: Upon going through Stars Aligned, it seems like it's somewhat of a concept album. Is that right?
Skender: When I created the album I went through stages of being my worst critic and breaking down every instrument and every tone to make sure that I add as many things in my music as it is absolutely necessary. Nothing less and nothing more. I try not to follow traditional rules in my music but my inner instincts. At the end of the day I want to be happy with my music. “Stars Aligned” is envisioned as one full piece broken down into ten songs that have the same feel but each track I wanted to sound unique and with as many layers as possible.
RAG: The record sounds very perfected. Seems like you've been writing songs for a long time. How did all of this start for you?
Skender: Thank you! Yes. I care so much about how every of my song in the album sounds. I didn’t leave any stone unturned. Actually I’ve never recorded any single before and went straight for the album. Absolutely horrifying idea to everyone who understands the music drill. I truly followed my passion and set a really low bar for my album sale. All I wanted to do was go on iTunes, Oct 14th and buy my own album. THAT helped me a lot. I wasn’t bound to any record label or any deadline. I learned how to use Logic X and from that point on I was hooked when I saw the opportunities to create music.
RAG: Stars Aligned releases on October 14th everywhere. Are you particularly proud of this record?
Skender: I can say full heartedly, yes. I am truly proud that when I hit "send files" to my distributer, I absolutely did the best I could do, at that moment in time.
RAG: I think people want to know about your process. Do you have any particular process for writing your songs? Does a melody just come to you? Lyrics first?
Skender: I’d record on my iPhone some song ideas I had in mind and after awhile i sat down and actually listened to those audio notes. Three of my audio notes I thought were actually good and those songs made it to the album. However at least a 100 other audio notes, didn’t. I’d start with a very simple idea. Nothing complicated. I’ll start with bass, then add the guitar, piano, drums and so on. Since English is my third language, I’d create the song that fits perfectly fine with lyrics and harmony, just to have my awesome friends who actually know grammar…tell me that doesn’t sound right. Then, that’s when I start working tirelessly on my lyrics and bug so many of my friends to finish my lyrics. It was really challenging to not let my original idea take a different path.
RAG: In our times, playing live doesn’t happen too much. Do you think this affected you as an artist whether good or bad?
Skender: Absolutely. I started this album with a concert in mind. But then pandemic hit and everything closed down. I felt we are all trapped. I wanted to do the live music video and of course I couldn't get people to come to see my live performance during the lockdown ...but then I thought...how about I create a stage, no crowd where everyone plays a pretend concert. Nothing to worry about how to play any instruments...I actually dropped the idea of having musicians on stage. Just bunch of performers having fun. Not even hooked the microphones or the guitar to make it look "believably" live… Stage where performers are socially distanced, but still able to express themselves. I even drew chalk circles around each artist on stage so they had that feeling that they're physically trapped but wanted them to feel free to express themselves. They loved the idea and everyone was far from each other but together at the same time. Performing their hearts out and having fun. Nothing can stop your spirits to be high. The power is within us to not let our spirits trapped during this awful pandemic. You can watch that video here:
RAG: What's next for you as an artist?
Skender: I will never stop recording audio notes. So definitely more music.
RAG: Anything you'd like to say or express to your fans before we go?
Skender: Actually, I would like to say something about my fellow musicians that they always wanted to make music… If you think about making some music, to go do it! Don’t let anyone discourage you. I know we are currently stuck in this horrible pandemic. But this shall pass. I chose not to let anything stop me from doing what I wanted to do. And to any of my fans out there… Support musicians. I’m not talking about my album… I am talking about any of your local musician that is going through these tough times, they need your support! Buy their music.
Check out Skender Beck
Artist Spotlight Interview - Gabrielle Metz
Gabrielle Metz just released her latest single "Thin ice" and right from the get go, you're surrounded by a world or ambient guitars and tones swirling around you as she begins to take you through her story.
A relatable and familiar story of struggle and risking it all for love. The song is a contemporary rock song with pop tendencies and a little touch of southern country styles within its walls.
A powerful chorus and a building arrangement, "Thin Ice" is a follow up to her previous single "Hear My Heart" from earlier this year.
A portrayal of honesty and an artist that knows how be a true storyteller.
We decided to have a chat with Gabrielle to find out more.
RAG: So Gabrielle, "Thin Ice" feels like a personal song. Can you tell us what it's about to you? How did this song come about?
Gabrielle: I wrote Thin Ice with my good friend, Christie Huff. This was actually our first co-write together. A lot of times first writes can be awkward, because you're getting to know each other and it's hard to lay everything out in the open. This one was different though. We hit it off instantly. Christie had the title Thin Ice in her phone, and we both drew on personal experience while writing it!
RAG: You have a great fan base and followers. Did you think you'd see this kind of success when you started this?
Gabrielle: I always had this feeling of home when I visited Nashville, so when I moved and started doing music full time it felt right. I always knew music would play a big role in my life. I always dreamed of growing a fan base that enjoyed following my career and listening to my music, but it is surreal to see it coming to fruition.
RAG: How did this all start? Were you always in love with music?
Gabrielle: I've been singing my entire life. I've always loved every form of music! When I was 14 I started writing and playing guitar. From there I knew that I wanted to pursue music, so at 17 I moved to Nashville!
Do your songs sort of come to you? Or do you sit down with a guitar and start from a different place? What's your songwriting process like?
Gabrielle: The fantastic thing about art is that it happens differently every time, and that stands true with songwriting! Inspiration comes from everywhere, so sometimes a lyric pops into my head and a song starts from there. Other times I'll play a cool guitar lick or chord progression and write lyrics to it. There's no set way that I write, but pieces of myself always seep into the song one way or another!
RAG: The song has a lot going on in terms of styles. Can you tell us what your absolute top 5 or 6 musical influences are? Who made you really fall in love with music?
Gabrielle: My parents were amazing at exposing me to all kinds of music growing up, so I have a lot of influences and it is hard to narrow down a list! In the country music genre specifically, I look up to artists like Keith Urban and Hunter Hayes for their musicality and artistry, Shane MacAnally and Nicolle Galyon as songwriters, & artists like Carrie Underwood for her vocals and stage presence.
When I was growing up there weren't a lot of females to look up to in country music. Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, and Kelsea Ballerini are the ones who really made me believe a career in music was possible!
RAG: You have a solid library of releases so far. Is there anything upcoming for you? What's next for you as an artist?
Gabrielle: Right now I am trying to regularly release music! I have a Christmas song "Christmas With You" that I'm planning to release in November. Once we are out of this season and it is safe to perform again, I am looking forward to getting on the road and playing a lot more!
RAG: Do you feel like the times we live in make it harder for an artist to succeed? Also, is there any advice you'd like to give to other artists?
Gabrielle: I think one of the best and worst things about the music industry is that there is not one way to succeed. The landscape of music has definitely changed over the last several decades, and there are always going to be challenges that come with that.
As for advice, I would like to think that hard work pays off. As long as you're getting better everyday, and working towards your goals then you're moving in the right direction!
RAG: Before we go, is there anything you'd like to express to your fans?
Gabrielle: Thank you! I love seeing people connect to my music and lyrics. I can't say thank you enough for the support and love that has been shown to me!
Check out gabrielle Metz
Artist Spotlight Interview - Cherrypopsx
In a string of releases through the greater part of 2020, Cherrypopsx has been touching on subjects that not everyone can talk about. ANd it's all done with a certain brand of R&B-pop crossover.
These songs are all very real and very aware. Looking into themselves, Cherrypopsx and musical partner Lil Bows delve into personal struggle and come through with something that can really reach people.
The latest singles "Suicidal Thoughts In The Rain" and Leave Me Here" both come off as more of a cry to help and not so much a cry for help. This is something you don;t see often especially in the musical world.
Their staple style intertwines smooth R&B in a synth/dream pop world and what comes of it is something special.
With such upfront honesty, we had to sit down with them to talk about these songs.
RAG: So, "Leave Me Here" feels like a very upfront and honest song lyrically. There is a darkness to it. We'd love to know about this track. What's it about? What made you write this one?
CPX: I made the song about my deep depression i went through a few years ago. It's about getting over heartbreak and my addiction to drugs and depression.
RAG: Is this part of an overall theme for you guys? Other songs like "Suicidal Thoughts In The Rain" also talk of deep feelings. Would you say you use your music to express how you feel or even as an outlet for you?
CPX: My music is used as an outlet of past self to help anybody going through any similar problems they might be going through.
RAG: Does making music help you get through emotional struggles?
CPX: Yes it does my music has made me the person i am today! It helped me find all my friends i have today, it helped me find out what i want to do as a career and helped me become happier in a whole.
RAG: I feel like it's brave to be so honest with your music but I also feel like it's something that can help others going through something too. Is that part of why you do this? To let others know they aren't alone when they may feel like it?
CPX: Exactly! I started music originally to help myself figure out who i am. Then after a year of making music i started to see growth on my songs and people reaching out to me thanking me because my music helped them through whatever they have been dealing with in their day to day life.
RAG: Musically these songs combine R&B and dream pop together which is amazing. Are there artists that really influenced you musically?
CPX: Spaceman Zack, Elijah heaps, Radiohead and Elliot Smith were huge influences in me getting started with music.
RAG: You've got a solid following on Spotify. Did you expect to gain this many fans when you started this whole thing?
CPX: Honestly I didn't expect anyone to ever hear my music expect for myself and my close friends. It seriously changed my life around when I discovered that it has been helping people that I have never met with their depression.
RAG: How did this all start for you? It certainly sounds like you've been writing songs for a log time.
RAG: I fell in love with Elliot Smiths song Between the bars it really spoke to me and made me want to pursue music and make something unique that could help at least me get through whatever I was dealing with at the time. I started making music about halfway into 2018.
RAG: Any last comments you'd like to say to your fans?
CPX: I am so grateful to be able to help anyone with any problem they might be facing no matter how big or small. It truly means the world to me and I couldn't ask for anything more!
Check out Cherrypopsx and Lil Bow
Artist Spotlight Interview - Kisho Kush
It's not too often you hear an EP quite like the new one from Kisho Kush. The Will I Die? Can I Live? EP is a quaint blend of late 90's emo, hip-hop, and alternative-pop all baked together for a personal in depth look at certain thoughts you can have going through life.
Guitars over beats and a distant affective array of vocal melodies and sounds. Brutally honest lyrically and you can really hear some aggression and frustrations coming through.
This is part of what makes the release so real.
We sat down with Kisho Kush to discuss just what makes him tick and where this record came from.
RAG: So Kisho, the Will I Die? Can I Live? EP brings together an alternative pop feel and hip hop along with some ambient tones and styles. The record feels like a very in depth set of songs. Can you tell us how this came about and why you wrote it?
Kisho Kush: This record was my attempt at making something within the rock genre. For years, my main focus in music has only been Hip-Hop, which is why it bleeds into these songs. For "a miserable addiction," it started off with wanting to make something simple and on the spot. I didn't have anything in mind, all I did was start mouthing melodies and the words came about. As soon as I filled in the words, the song wrote itself a theme of despair and confusion of the current moment. The current moment being in the perspective of the song's protagonist. This song is not entirely me, it is something that was created for interpretation. The title is a play on words, where being miserable can be an addiction, but, also the addiction being a fill-in meaning that he listener chooses, depending on what they've been through. For "dream," it's a song transitioning out of the methodical situation that the protagonist was in. It is less confusion and more of a direct intention to pursue life and accomplishing desires. This specific song would be the desire of seducing a woman. It explains thoroughly how I feel. The song "spotlight" is almost the same as "dream." All I did was make it more Hip-Hop. Considering that's where I'm more musically comfortable, it was simple to get my sound the way that I wanted it. The break and tone change in the middle of the song is a 4th wall switch into the protagonists journey. You can hear him/her walking through the street, continuing towards a destination in which only him/her has in mind. All we get is the ambiance surrounding the scene. In "a miserable addiction," the same thing can be heard towards the end of the song. The scene is the protagonist leaving a hefty exploration throughout the wild. You can hear the transition from pure rain into sunshine and clear skies to signify the switch in location and mood.
RAG: So, each of these songs is a bit different from each other. Do you just write what comes to you? How do you record your material?
Kisho Kush: Yes, most of the time, I just write what comes to me. I feel more comfortable building a theme within the moment of creation, because, it's like, you're suprising yourself. Not even knowing what's about to be created. I record my music in my bedroom, where I live with my big family. Always when I'm home alone, so that I have freedom to scream as loud as I want. This is all done with an outdated version of FL Studio on my laptop, which I've been using since I was 15.
RAG: Did most of these songs end up the way you expected?
Kisho Kush: As a project, not at all. I made these songs in different time periods without consideration for their placement and release. It's as if each song comes from a different album, but, I decided to pull them into this demo to shine early. As individual writings it was 50/50 of intention and suprise factor. Some songs write themselves entirely and that's what "a miserable addiction" was. For "dream" and "spotlight," it was more controlled by me. I was able to clearly express my desires with revision. The only thing in this project that was recycled was the rap verse in "spotlight." That verse was meant for a different instrumental, that I had written earlier, but, it flowed better here.
RAG: With the various genres blended together we wanted to know what your absolute top 5 musical influences are. Which artists made you fall in love with music?
Kisho Kush: I want to share more than 5. Tupac, Guns 'N' Roses, Tame Imapala, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Logic, Led Zeppelin, Oasis, The Beatles, The Doors, The Animals, Frank Ocean. These are just some artists that specifically made me want to better my craft. Pure inspiration emerged from listening to them.
RAG: It feels like this EP is about life experiences. Would you say you use your music as an outlet?
Kisho Kush: Of course, even before I started making music, all I had was some earphones plugged in, wanting to explore more music, rather than focusing on what's at eye view. Music helped me focus in school and sports as well. The silence would throw me off, so, I needed at least some music playing.
RAG: This is a new EP Will I Die? Can I Live? is very new but are you working on anything right now? What's next for you as an artist?
Kisho Kush: Yes, I'm waiting on the release of an all-rapping project titled "Patient's Test." That will be this Halloween. This project is more lyrically inclined to showcase my rapping ability, along with Hip-Hop production. Every single song is written, produced, mixed & mastered by me.
RAG: Do you think the times we are in now make it a little more difficult to get your music to new people or would you say the opposite? For example, you can't quite play live at the moment. Has that had a negative effect on you as a songwriter or artist?
Kisho Kush: I honestly do not know what's going on with the world. A lot of issues that were meant to be suppressed are shedding a new light. There's always hope that the unification of the people will speed up the reparations. As for my music, it really isn't an issue to create or promote. I would say my mood is only affected, when I'm not creating.
RAG: Is there anything you'd like to express to your fans before we go?
I love everyone.
Check Out Kisho Kush:
Artist Spotlight Interview - Alex Drake
Deep in the heart of Los Angeles, indie rock one man band Alex Drake has been writing new material and on October 9th, the brand new single called "Peace Of Mind".
With an incredibly radio friendly feel, the song rocks with a message. A track delving into things we can mostly all relate to whether we like to or not, "Peace of Mind" jumps into it head on and shows us something we may have forgotten about.
The song has a pop-rock style with plenty of alternative edge and feels familiar in the best ways.
We decided to have a chat with Alex about the new single and what he's ben up to.
RAG: So Alex, "Peace of Mind" feels like a cinematic and building rock song with a little alternative rock and a powerful message, especially in the chorus. What's this song about to you, and what made you write it?
Alex: This song really embarks on the turmoil we deal with everyday with everyday occurrences. Dealing with your boss, dealing with current societal stressors, dealing with any kind of aversion to what you love and what you want to do but still having "Peace of Mind" to do you and follow your dreams, passions, and internal monologue regardless of what is being spewed at you.
There is some kind of political background within it as well - meaning the hardships and terrible things we are seeing happening today are absolute atrocities to humanism and at the end of the day we as individuals need to be able to combat what must be combatted while still loving ourselves and self-persevere when/where we can.
This song was first written and recorded while I was at my studio, my computer screen was in front of a window and I was writing this song and I looked outside and there were hundreds of protestors walking down my alleyway in Los Angeles Protesting. Yes, I got up and joined for the time that I could. It was almost like a perfect recipe because it put me in the state of mind to perfectly exemplify the aforementioned details through song.
RAG: So this seems like a song for our times right now. Very current and relevant. Do you normally write songs like this?
Alex: My songs that I write are basically always surrounding things that are significant in my life. My first single "Circles" had to do with the passing of my mother whom I was extremely close with. She was the backbone to my creative ability and when she passed - I felt the drive to put the meaning into a song. "Peace of Mind", as mentioned earlier, is written about society's impact on our psyches as individuals and how we have the power to install positive change in our minds - away from depression - which in the long run would only benefit the overall state of human beings. We all need to think more from a humanistic perspective but that starts with being comfortable with ourselves. My upcoming three releases are a mix of the same writing mechanisms. My future release - "Let It Go" ft. Nick Casasanto of Knuckle Puck - is really written in focus of my closest loved ones who have not gotten out of their comfort zones to experience diversity and other walks of life that can really help them grow as individuals. I've seen so many friends fall into depression because they are living in their same hometown they always have and never got out to experience anything new and build character and develop as a human being. Sometimes, if you feel stagnant, it is important to let it go - and put yourself into vulnerable situations to grow and develop further no matter how old you are. HAHA, to answer your question, I do typically write songs that are meaningful/impactful to me with hopes it can help atleast one person along the way.
RAG: This track has a ton of great guitar work on it, are you a guitarist first?
Alex: Actually guitar was not my first love! The first instrument I was ever introduced to had to be an assortment of percussive instruments which I naturally gravitated towards. I'd say, when I was about 5 years old my father brought me home a mini acoustic guitar that I was definitely interested in but my hands were too small so my interest quickly faded. Luckily, due to my obsession with percussion (setting up cans and using pencils to play drums) - my parents bought me one of those janky starter kits for toddlers. I quickly lost interest as I remember the kick pedal was god awful, haha. I ended up taking a break from playing musical instruments until around 12 years old when I got my first Fender electric, hands were still too small, but I was able to start jamming with some local friends doing covers of, you know, Weezer, Fall Out Boy, Taking Back Sunday - all staying in the alt/emo realm. Low and behold - I quit the guitar a few years later and decided to start drumming again. I saved up my money to get my first Pearl drum kit and was in love. The tale is a foggy one but I always say I am a drummer first.
RAG: How'd you start writing music and really what made you begin taking your musical journey?
Alex: Ever since I can remember I've always incorporated music into everything. I used to write little songs/rhymes when I was just a child. It's always been a small habit of mine. I remember as a kid for vocabulary tests in school, my mom would have me write rhymes for the words and their definitions and I would remember everything perfectly. My whole family is filled with musicians and music lovers. My two brothers all play multiple instruments, my mother was a guitarist/singer, and my father was the king of R&B/Soul in my eyes. As I mentioned earlier, I started jamming with bandmates at the young age of 12 years old. We didn't really get serious until around 15-16 years old where we started a real band and started writing original Rock songs. This band was called Lift The Decade based out of New Jersey. We continued on touring the east coast, shipping to labels, getting press to the point where we got a shot at playing Van's Warped Tour when we were around 18 years old. We kept going strong until I left for college. The band is still around with my lovely singer as Night on The Sun, based in Brooklyn NY - but college introduced me to such an array of music and talent, I was so happy to experience. New Brunswick NJ, Rutgers University - the home of Emo/Alt/Pop Punk as we know it (biased opinion) - At Rutger's University I was able to jam with, manage some, and be exposed to some amazing talented musicians really allowing me to expand my horizons from a creative song-writing perspective. This is where I really began to experiment with a more alternative sound than your general alt Rock/ Indie Rock. I also had my own radio show at Rutgers only dedicated to local Rock music so this really allowed me to get wrapped in the city's underground music culture. As you can see my love and passion for music is multi-dimensional. With the passing of my mother, I finally had the drive because I know she wanted me to so badly, to get back into music and start my solo career off which brings us here today.
RAG: I hear some classic rock, emo, alternative rock and more in "Peace of Mind". We'd love to hear your top 5 or 6 bands that actually influenced you or changed your life.
Alex: Ahh, this is so impossible for me. I studied contemporary music history for a while and can list off so many names - I'll begin with ones that have had an impact on my songwriting.
Steely Dan, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, The Starting Line (anything Kenny Vasoli has ever done musically in his life), The 1975, Anything Anthony Green has ever done musically (Saosin, Circa Survive, etc), and of course - The Dangerous Summer (shoutout their singer AJ who is featured on "Peace of Mind".
RAG: We love that you have a message in your single. Is there something you want to say to fans?
Alex: My main goal in life is to install happiness and confidence in those around me. The only message I want to push is one of happiness and positivity. Know if you are going through something, you have a friend and confidant in me, always.
RAG: Before we go, can you tell us anything that may be upcoming? What's next for you?
Alex: Yes! So after the focus on "Peace of Mind" - I have 3 more singles being released over the next few months. "California", "Break Me Down", and "Let It Go" ft. Nick of Knuckle Puck. Once these are all released I will combine to form my first EP with maybe the release of another song or two. I will have some videos rolling out and hopefully a ton of press surrounding the upcoming release. Most importantly, once we are able to safely, I would love to embark on a great show schedule - I am itching to get out there and play with the full band!
Check Out Alex Drake:
Artist Spotlight Interview - Dyena
Dyena just dropped a fresh dance track called "Take Me Home Tonight" and it's damn catchy.
This track is a club style hit and infuses disco and pop along for a endlessly fun ride.
The song embeds itself in your head and you find yourself singing that chorus lime even hours after was played. A sexy, "just want a night of fun" romper that you won't be able to sti still for.
We spoke with Dyena to get to know her a bit better, and talk about the the single.
RAG: So Dyena, Take Me Home Tonight has a real Daft Punk disco pop feel to it. It feels like a great party anthem. How did this song come about?
Dyena: Thank You!! I was actually in the middle of working on another song when this song came to be. I was looking through loops for inspiration on possible instrumentation for my other song when I stumbled across this really catchy loop. I immediately grabbed my microphone to sing over it and the first verse and the chorus are the exact lines that just flowed out of me. The song was written in 30 minutes. I was also super intentional with all the production intricacies in the song because I wanted it to be a combination of different genres while still being a bop. When writing the song, I wrote it to be the perfect song to sing along too in a live concert, car rides, clubs etc. so I was super intentional with lyrics, vocals and production.
RAG: You have a solid following and growing with over 5k on Spotify alone. Did you expect to gain such a fan base when you began this whole thing?
Dyena: I have a lot of confidence in my songs and my music. I think 5K is just the beginning for me, I expect a lot more growth over time as I develop myself further as an artist.
RAG: Sounds like you've been singing for a very long time. When did you realize this is what you wanted to do?
Dyena: I sang and wrote songs in secret since I was a kid, but I never had the privilege of taking singing lessons until this year at the University of Virginia. I’m just learning proper breath control and the importance of posture. I knew I wanted to be a singer since I was 8, but I let societal expectations dictate my actions for a really long time. It wasn’t until the lockdown that I was able to slow down, reflect and realize that this is my life, and absolutely no one has a right to tell me how to live it. Imagine your future based on the actions you’re taking today and ask yourself “Am I living out my dream or am I conforming?” I didn’t like where I was headed so ever since then I started doing things that align with my goals and haven’t looked back.
RAG: Can you give us some of your absolute top influences musically? Who made you really fall in love with music?
Dyena: Hands down, Billie Eilish and Finneas. They’re my number one, but obviously I didn’t grow up listening to them. My influences growing up were a melting pot of genres and cultures. Sleeping with Sirens was a big one. Lana del Rey, Daddy Yankee, Shakira, Mana, Camila, Childish Gambino, Frank Sinatra, Black Keys, Billy Idol, Tears for Fears and I also listen to a lot of Caribbean music. Ugh, there’s so many more artists. But ultimately there was no artist that made me fall in love with music, it was what music did that made me fall in love with it. Each one of these artists has the power to hype me up, bring a community together or completely rip hearts open through their music and that’s why I love it.
RAG: Is this just the beginning for you? Anything upcoming for you?
Dyena: Hell yes! I only released one song so far! I have so many more. I do have this one song that I’m waiting to drop. It’s the golden card up my sleeve. Like this song has Old Town Road potential. But obviously I’m waiting to grow my fan base and develop myself further as an artist before I drop it.
RAG: Before we go, is there anything you'd like to express to your fans?
Dyena: Thank y’all for supporting me and my music! I love you guys! I promise you guys are in for a real treat. I know a lot of artists say that, but seriously. I mean it. I work hard to give y’all the perfect combination of a new fresh sound while also keeping it familiar. So stay tuned!
Check out Dyena:
Artist Spotlight Interview - cold engines
Progressive dream rock outfit Cold Engines just released a few new singles as part of their upcoming full length a concept album The Last Resort .
"Kuato Lives" is a psychedelic future rock journey from start to finish. A celebration of guitar harmonies and mathy classic rock jam outs. Epic and even inspirational, the song is completely instrumental and doesn't let up for a second.
"Your Not In Love" is like a smooth contemporary rock track that's got that powerful 80's chorus that really puts you in the end credits of your favorite flicks growing up.
But see, that's part of their point in creating this record. The album, in case you didn't pick it up from the song title "Kuato Lives" is a love letter to Total Recall. The real 1990 version of course.
So, obviously we had to sit down with Cold Engines and break this down.
RAG: So guys, "Your Not In Love" and "Kuato Lives" both have some powerful and epic feeling rock elements to them. These are two singles from your upcoming album The Last Resort scheduled for release at the top of 2021. The album is a concept record based on the 80's Sci-Fi hit Total Recall. This is an amazing concept. First off, can we expect more of what we are hearing from your singles on the album? and second, just please tell us more about this idea and how it came about.
Cold Engines: YES!! You can expect more where these came from! We worked really hard to capture the conceptual framework of the story/film AND the era in terms of sound texture and production of the 1980’s. The idea came to me almost 10 years ago when I drafted the first version of "Kuato Lives" with another band I was in. It’s just a story I love about regular people rising up to gain freedom from corporate overlords. It feels as fresh today as 30 years ago when the film was released.
RAG: This isn't your first run with recording albums. You guys have been doing this since 2015. Do you feel like your sound has evolved over the years?
Cold Engines: I’ve actually been making albums for a long time and had made many records with previous bands before these last 6 albums with Cold Engines. In between I’ve written and played on a lot of other records. Recording music and the creative process is my true passion. The sound is always evolving and we are constantly trying to raise the bar on previous work.
RAG: There are a lot of blended genre sounds coming through just with these singles alone. We'd love to hear some of your absolute top influences musically as a band.
Cold Engines: This record is really aimed at the great sounds and bands of the 1980’s. That has always been one of my favorite eras in music. Bands like The Smiths, Tears For Fears, Tom Petty, Bruce Hornsby, Prince, The Police and so many more made that decade so eclectic and expansive. Doing a full on rock opera based on a film made during that era let us lean into those soundscapes and vibes for sure. As a band the influences are vast from classical composers like Vivaldi and Dvorak to Ray Charles, Otis Reading, The Allman Brothers band and The Grateful Dead. If its great, some one in the band loves it!
RAG: Since The Last Resort is written about Total Recall, we'd love to hear some of your other top films.
Cold Engines: True Romance, Easy Rider, Robocop, Citizen Kane, Princess Mononoke, Run Lola Run, Dawn Of The Dead, all of Kubrick’s work, all of Chaplin’s work, especially “Modern Times,” Blade Runner, They Live, Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings etc. etc.
RAG: You guys have opened for some big name bands. How do you think not performing live (like most other bands now) has affected you guys as a band? Positive or negative.
Cold Engines: We’ve been fortunate to be able to play a bit throughout this pandemic when safe outdoor shows have presented themselves. At first during the lockdown it definitely provided some extra time to finish this massive undertaking of a record which involves many players outside of the direct core band. That was a small silver lining. Even though we have been able to play some shows its still a scary and most definitely a time of uncertainty which we all feel with great depth.
RAG: This album is a huge thing to take on. Is it finished? Are you guys proud of this one more than others?
Cold Engines: Yes it’s finished and in hand. We are rolling it out through a series of 5 singles, one at the end of each month leading up to the release of the full 15 song story. We recruited professors from the Berklee college of music, string sections from Nashville, many friends old and new to fully flesh out this cinematic undertaking. I am definitely more proud of this than any of my previous work simply because it was a lifelong dream to tell this story through original music.
RAG: Total Recall director Paul Verhoeven, also known quite well for Basic Instinct and Robocop among others may dig this album. Maybe you should send him a copy?
Cold Engines: I’d love to. DM me the address haha.
RAG: Anything that you'd really like to express to your fans before we go?
Cold Engines: This project was purely made of creativity and passion mixed with a love for music, art and storytelling. Financial or critical success played absolutely zero part in it’s creation and it is truly a work of singular vision done for what we consider to be the right reasons. I really hope some people get some enjoyment out of it that matches or exceeds the joy we had making it.
Check out Cold Engines:
Artist Spotlight Interview - True Believer
Melbourne based rockers True Believer recently released their new "From Lucifer With Love" single along with it's badass video and it's a powerful kick in the face with some edge and taste.
The song is something you can head bang to in the car on full volume. Melodically driven, just the right amount of doom and gloom, and enough leads to satisfy your air guitar needs.
"From Lucifer With Love" is a belt out loud metal track that leaves you fully satiated.
We took some time with True Believer to find out what this song is all about, and what the band is up to.
RAG: Ok guys, let's start with the "From Lucifer With Love". The song has a real hard hitting melodic metal feel. It's not hard to tell you guys have been around the block a few times. Are you guys especially proud one? And What's it about really?
TB: The song is a bit of a turning point musically which I think, for us is the most exciting part. We’ve been trying to strike the right balance of catchy and weighty over our previous releases and, with FLFW it feels like it’s the beginning of that sound we’ve been chasing.
Our debut release “My Satan”, was a three track love letter to the one in cloven hoof. The plan was always to tie up the concept with a reply - enter FROM LUCIFER WITH LOVE a literal call and response between ourselves and the dark lord. I thought it would be cool to do like a pen pal thing with the devil and then kinda ran with it from there. There’s no hidden meaning, it’s more of an ode
RAG: I have to say I love the artwork, is the art part of the concept of the band?
Oh thanks, it most definitely is part of the concept. Its important to us to be consistent across music, image and art, it really helps drive the band ideology
So, how did True Believer come to be?
TB: Like all of us in the band, and like you picked up on in your first question I have spent many years in Melbourne’s underground thrash scene. I begun writing material that leaned more towards classic rock, stuff that allowed more space for song craft and mega melodic hard rock choruses, all while still keeping the metal purist satisfied. My brother caught wind of those demos and we stared piecing it together from there. Lach soon followed on drums and after a couple of false starts we rounded it out with Duane on bass 8 months later
RAG: There seems to be a number of influences in hard rock and metal coming through in "From Lucifer With Love". Let's hear some bands that truly influenced you guys as a band.
TB: We all cut our teeth on late 90’s and early 00’s Swedish thrash & melodeath bands like At The Gates & In Flames. They provide us a blueprint for those aggressive catchy riffs and FLFW in particular, has some nods to those dudes. Turbo era Judas Priest, divisive as it is plays a role, while vocally I draw inspiration from AOR masters Foreigner and David Coverdale
RAG: The video for "From Lucifer With Love" is really cool. The cartoon effects and style of it is great. Was that your idea? Were you guys happy with it once it was done?
TB: Thanks, it’s been received really well and we think it turned out great!. Originally the plan was to film a live clip with a similar story line but as we were to begin shooting, the pandemic was kicking off here in Australia. Our hometown of Melbourne went into a strict lockdown which made a move to animation the obvious choice. It actually ended up being a blessing in disguise as it allowed us to embellish that original storyline and have a bit of fun with it.
RAG: Listening to you guys really makes me want to see you live. Has not being able to play life affected you as a band? Do you guys still get together to rehearse and rock out?
TB: Yeah I think like most working bands the whole no shows thing has been a real bummer. On top of that, due to the lockdown in Melbourne we haven’t even been able to meet in person or jam. However the modern world does afford us all sorts of solutions and we did manage to sneak into the studio and record a track between lockdowns
What's next for True Believer? Anything new in the works?
We’ve got a synth wave remix of From Lucifer With Love from genre master Miles Brown on the way, which will emerge in the coming weeks. Beyond that we’ll drop another single + video in November and with any luck, restrictions permitting we might even be able to round out the year with a few dates over summer.
Before we go, is there anything you wanted to say to your fans?
TB: Hope everyone is staying safe out there and looking after each other. We’re continuing to work behind the scenes in as much capacity as allowed, which will hopefully make for a good 2021. Be sure to follow us on all our social channels to keep up date with everything. We appreciate the support!
Check out True Believer:
Artist Spotlight Interview - gloom balloon
Gloom Balloon just dropped a very large album called So Bergman Uses Bach To Get His Point Across, I Feel Like I Have Chosen Rock But At What Cost, and it's as in depth musically as you might expect.
Or perhaps you might not expect it honestly. The album is a piano dreamy indie pop record complete with all the classic rock influence you could want and a masterful use of lyrics to get a descriptive point across.
A massive array of instrumentation, a maturity in songwriting, and a youthful gusto rolled into soul, rock, R&B, and oh so much more.
Not afraid to show a bit of southern soul, Gloom Balloon let it all out and did it without boundaries.
It's been a long time since we've heard something so very freeing and it's so outrageous that it makes perfect sense.
We took some time with Gloom Balloon to find out what this record is all about.
RAG: So, let's start with, and I have to do this, the album title. So Bergman Uses Bach To Get His Point Across, I Feel Like I Have Chosen Rock But At What Cost. That's a hell of a title. Can you tell us a bit about that?
GB: Well it kinda explains the whole album and my world. Ingmar Bergman was a Swedish screenwriter and film director who used a lot of Bach in his films... Sometimes to get his point across and when you're watching a Foreign film you have to feel the words and the music sometimes to understand what the hell is going on. Anyway my world is full of Rock n Roll references and trivia on the spot, it's kinda my language what I'm saying with this title and lyric... is if you want to play along, here comes some history of rock.. Now mind you, I don't recommend you making your world full of Rock n Roll references cause it could have a cost to it.
RAG: Upon digging into this album, it really felt like a concept album as there are songs that flow seamlessly into each other. Is this a concept album and if so, can you tell us about the concept?
GB: Yes it's a concept album or story.. All my records kinda tell a story.. It's pretty autobiographical... "Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent." You can make of it what you want.. But every song for sure has a reference or musical homage to some other song in the history of rock n roll.
RAG: This is one massive record with tons of instrumentation. Did this take you a long time to put together?
GB: It took a little over a year from start to finish. I like to have a huge cast and crew on my records and it's like putting a puzzle together and you get to keep adding pieces as you go. It could go on forever! We started and or recorded over 30 songs for this record, but some of the songs couldn't swim with the rest of them.
RAG: There are a bunch of influences pushing through on these songs. I hear Modest Mouse and even Daniel Johnston. What are your own personal top 5 artists ever?
GB: I love this question by the way. I always ask people their favorite movie or artist and it just bums me out when they can't name one.. The album cover if full of a bunch of my musical heroes.. but here are my top 5.
1. The Olivia Tremor Control
2. The Beatles
4. Bob Dylan
5. Carole King
RAG: Do you do most of the writing and recording on your own? Did some of these come from quarantine?
GB: I finished this record right before quarantine.. But I write all the songs and I play on everything but like I said before, I have others who come in and contribute the real meat and potatoes of the record.. the real killer stuff like.. the strings that's all Patrick Riley and the main female voice on the record is the great Tina Haas Findlay.. and so many others.
RAG: Are the horns live? Or really I should ask, is this a combo of live and sampled instrumentation?
Yes great question, there are real horns all over the record.. Trumpet, Sax, Trombone, but also mixed in a lot of times are digital horns played by me on synths, or mellotron, or midi.. I like the combinations of real horns with fake ones.. It can make it sound really huge when you want it to...
RAG: Is there anything you'd want to share with fans? A message you want to send?
GB: Wear a mask, Kiss like you mean it, and don't forget to call your mom and your dad!
Thanks so much for having me!
Check Out Gloom Balloon:
Artist Spotlight Interview - Jeremy parsons
The new single "Lillian" release from Jeremy Parsons shines with a soothing and bright pop rock feel.
Beckoning an early 2000's alt-radio rock style, the song hits all the right heart strings with it's chorus and a very Wallflowers sound.
You can hear other strong classic rock influence like Tom Petty for example bleeding through during this track.
Complete with slide guitars, a slight southern rock undertone ,and a powerful arrangement, "Lillian" dips into that sweet spot in radio rock.
We sat down with Jeremy to ask a few questions so we could really get a good understanding of where "Lillian" came from.
RAG: So Jeremy, how long has it been that you've been writing songs and have you felt any evolution from when you started up to "Lillian"?
Jeremy: I’ve been writing songs now for close to 15 years. The evolution has been one of my favorite parts of the journey. I have become more self-aware and more open-minded throughout the process, which has allowed me to venture down new avenues of creativity and expression. It’s nice when you get to a point with your works that you can step back when you’ve finished and know that you’ve said what you needed and wanted to. From the first song to “Lillian” has been very fruitful.
RAG: What's the story or at least inspiration behind "Lillian"?
Jeremy: Some song ideas pop in your head, and you feel like you have to get somewhere and write them before they disappear forever. Writing “Lillian” wasn’t like this at all. It started with a street I used to pass every day on my way to work while living in East Nashville. I saw so many street signs on that trip, but “Lillian” was the only one that consistently stood out to me. I kept it in the notes section of my phone for years. One afternoon I sat down and found this really cool strum patterned rhythmic guitar part I was having fun playing. The words came next, “She said she never wears underwear, I said I never wear shorts.” Maybe the most “me” line I have ever written. Lines with personality are great, but when you can correctly project yourself into your art, I feel it says something about your growth and comfortability as far as who you’ve become as an artist. The rest of the song came flooding out and spoke to me and where I was in my life. I was very lost before making this music, and if not for someone seeing through that mess and giving me a pure form of love, who knows where I would have ended up. It’s a factually fictional story about the high times of low points in life. We live so we can create, and I’m so glad to have manifested this song through my experience. I hope y’all enjoy it as much as I enjoy playing it.
RAG: It sounds like you've been playing guitar for a long time. Were you always a singer too or did that come later?
Jeremy: When I was 17, I picked up the guitar and a year later began singing and trying to find my voice. It’s been fun growing at both combined crafts. The guitar playing gets tighter, and the singing just gets more comfortable.
RAG: "Lillian" has a really great almost classic rock feel to it. Are you influenced by any of the classic rockers?
Jeremy: I’m such a massive fan of Tom Petty and everything he was involved in, from the Heartbreakers to the Traveling Wilburys. He was and is one of those artists who never did nor could do wrong in my eyes.
RAG: What can we expect from you in the near future? Anything new in the works?
Jeremy: You can expect my newest and most favorite record I’ve made to date entitled “Things To Come.” “Lillian” is one of the singles off of it, and it’s set for release in January of 2021 with a pre-order coming sometime around November of this year. Keep an eye out.
RAG: Is there anything you'd like to share with fans of the music out there?
Jeremy: Thank you all always for supporting me and my music. None of this would be possible without y’all. To me, you’re friends, and I look forward to getting back out on the road and playing until I can’t anymore and seeing all of your wonderful faces again.
Check Out Jeremy Parsons:
Artist Spotlight Interview - Christopher Griffiths
Songwriter and pop extraordinaire Christopher Griffiths is a terrific example of what a solo recording artist can accomplish on his or her own these days.
A sure fire pop-culture enthusiast, Griffiths love for 80's alt-pop music can certainly be heard in his new EP Midlife Pop Crisis.
Deep synths, floating keys, and lucid drum beats fill the air and swarm around this late night neo-vintage work of pop art.
We sat down with Christopher so we could get a glimpse of the mind behind the project.
RAG: So, Christopher, it sounds like you've been writing and recording songs for quite some time. How did this all start for you?
Christopher: I have. I have always been musical, my brother is musical, my parents played the radio, it was an incredibly noisy childhood. My parents weren’t shy about encouraging our strengths. I bought a four-track cassette recorder and started making records when I was thirteen. I was in a bunch of punk, blues, and rock bands and it just spiraled out of control into a career. Our basement was to the walls with pianos, keyboards, guitars, and drums. Anything that would tell my mom we were within ear shot, was pretty much at our disposal. Personally, I blame my parents pretty harshly because in a single year they took me to see Tony Bennett, Alice Cooper, and showed me Amadeus the movie. So, if they wanted a doctor, that’s the wrong way to go about it. (love you if you’re reading this.)
RAG: The Midlife Pop Crisis EP sounds like a great cross between classic alt pop and a new indie pop style. Can you tell us some of your absolute top influences?
Christopher: Does a bottle of tequila and too much time on your hands count as an influence? I have always loved the Talking Heads and David Byrne. Two years ago, I had this five-string bass and the hands of a person meant to play mandolin, so things were not going to work out between us. So, I traded that bass to a friend who was getting rid of a Moog synthesizer which you can hear on my record, Tears for Fears, Prince records, or just every third song from the 70’s and 80’s. Basically when I started this record I went back through my Madonna, Beck, and Talking Heads albums, and all those wonderful little pieces of pop culture and decided I really wanted to learn how to use this hunk of cables and knobs. A lot of what you hear on this EP is me finding my bearing as a synthesizer. I made four songs while trying to recreate the sound of “Lucky Star” by Madonna. So, this EP is a failure in that sense, but has its own grace in my opinion.
RAG: "Incredible Lie" is an insanely catchy track. What was the inspiration behind this song? Or really what was this song about?
Christopher: Your guess is as good as mine. Facebook? It’s about Facebook, probably. Again, the Talking Heads have these songs where David paints the character of a man just pouring his own existence through the American filter. That’s kind of where I’m coming from. Not everything can be ‘Thunder Road” I guess. I had the sound before I had the words, so I took it to the gym and ran on the treadmill while watching four screens of news channels and just started repeating things I saw in that goofy voice and wrote down what I liked. Loudly, apparently, because no one took the treadmills on either side of me.
RAG: You're using some fun synths and effects on this record, what do you use to record your stuff? Do you have a go-to process?
Christopher: Is this you asking why there are dogs barking in all my vocals? Cause the answer is squirrels ran by the window. I have a home studio, and with no touring this year or work to speak of, I had a lot of free time to learn how to use it. I’m working in Logic with a variety of basses, a fender Stratocaster, a garage sales worth of pedals, a Moog and an Alesis controller. The Pedals I used the most were the Earthquake Warden, and this hot-rodded Timmy pedal I traded three beers for at a bar in Nashville. Seriously though, most of my key sounds come from that Arturia synth pack. I have a warm 47 tube mic that rocks and I run it through a UA 610 preamp, which I basically use like a distortion pedal because all recording gear to me is big versions of stomp boxes. At first, I was trying to be very serious about blotting out the sounds of my house, but I found it really gave things character. Why lie about where I am? So, there are dogs barking, at least one guitar solo is cut short from a cat running across the keyboard, and you might hear a vacuum cause I didn’t hang the sign on the door. I really grew making this. My friend Thom Donovan’s very good at home recording and he helped me a lot when I would knot myself up with plug-ins and how to get a good signal, how to EQ as I go. Izotope also makes fantastic plug-ins for that if you don’t happen to have Vance Powell sitting in your pocket.
Cody Chestnutt did this awesome record back in the 90’s and I guess maybe that record encouraged me to play fast and loose with this one. I start every recording with a shaker loop at the speed I want because I hate click, then I add a kick, then I lay a demo track and kind of mix it so I can stand it 40 or 50 times. Then I build it out from there anything I want. I play drums on my desk, coffee can full of rice, whatever I can think of. I’m pretty sure there’s video game sounds in there somewhere. Then I go back and lay the original part again over top of the noise garden I planted. Then usually I whip it off to mixing because if I wait I’ll get insecure and change everything. The mixing notes I get back are hilarious! “You wrote piano, but track seven is audibly seal noises through a step sequencer” and “do you want me to edit out this toilet sound on the drum track?” I guess I am still writing my process.
RAG: Are you working on anything new as of right now?
Christopher: Matter of fact I am. It’s a bit more earthy, I bought a 1961 Gibson LG-0 a while back and I’ve really been into it lately. Where this EP is pretty loose lyrically, I spent a lot more time delving into my personal experiences and history to write this next EP. I’m going to put out the first song from that on October 29th, and if you guys are nice to me, I’ll totally sneak you a track or two. That’s going to be a complete style change from this synth pop ep, but I don’t have a label so I can do whatever I want.
RAG: Anything you'd want to share with your fans?
Christopher: Could you please tell all your friends about me? Just thank you for all the support. Seriously my fans and fans of the bands I’m in, are just really gracious and come together as a solid gold community to support the arts. I haven’t always had that, so I really am humbled and forever grateful. I can’t even tell you how many sent me a couple bucks when live music got shut down in March just to make sure I’d keep making music. There are not a lot of walks of life that draw angels like that. You guys are awesome. When I get this mask off everyone gets kisses or a signed CD, whatever makes you the most comfortable.
Check Out Christopher Griffiths
Artist Spotlight Interview - dali van gogh
Dali Van Gogh just dropped a single called "Boneyard" and it's one the most infectious, gritty, and surprising tracks you've heard in quite a while. we promise.
"Boneyard" bursts into high octane juiced up powerhouse energy straight off the bat. The coolest thing about this song is that literally every player in the band matches each other energy wise. It's something to be heard.
The chorus sneaks up on you and is outlandishly fun and then BOOM, a big rush of guitar leads and explosions of sound hit you before it's all over.
We grabbed the guys for some questions so we can all get a better idea of what just happened!
RAG: So guys, how did Dali Van Gogh come to be a band? Any stories behind that?
Isaac Kent (Guitar): Well first off let me say thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. To answer the question, the band originally formed over 10 years ago out of another project that Rachelle Moreau, our keyboardist and I were in called Eight Days to Saturday. Eight Days was formed right out of highschool. Typical first band. We wrote a few songs, did a couple coffee house type shows, even won a contest to track one at a studio here in Halifax. Nothing much came of it though, we were kids, and so we eventually broke up the band. We had different opinions on what we wanted to do and play. Eight Days was sort of a pop/indie rock band, and the bassist and I in the band wanted to move in a heavier direction as we matured as musicians. I was already writing early DVG material like Sober and Heavy Living. Rachelle and I had a falling out over it actually, hahaha. We didn't talk much at all until she joined Dali in late 2018. She went off to music school and I went to work putting together a new band.
Megan MacKenzie (the Eight Days bassist and DVG's first bassist) and I went through a few different sets of musicians before settling on what would be the first Dali lineup. But over the years things change, people move on, get jobs and lives. Not everyone is cut out of this industry right. It's relentless, can even be oppressive at times, so even then once the band was settled, had a demo out and was gigging, we still slowly went through different members. Biggest change happened in 2014 when the band went on hiatus over a number of issues with our then singer. We couldn't find the right fit to replace him so we decided to just take a break. I opened my recording studio and started HouseFire Records. But unfortunately in 2015 we had a fire on my property. I lost my house and studio, all my gear, pretty well everything. Major kick in the teeth but it was also a wakeup call. I was sort of floating along, content in producing and working with other artists. Had that fire not happened Dali may have never come back. But it did happen, and really stirred me to get things going again. I didn't know how else to process what had happened to me other than to write, and Dali had always been my project one way or another so I thought "Ok, so how do I make this happen again?" There was a lot of doubt there. Our momentum was obviously dead, the previous remaining musicians had moved on. So in many ways I had to start from scratch. Showed a few people I knew in the industry some of the material I was working on and pulled together the "comeback" lineup so to speak. We were lucky though, our first show back was a resounding success. People obviously hadn't forgotten about the band and the songs, and even with new people involved our old fans, plus new ones, turned out in swarms. It was a great night, I think about it a lot, especially since the pandemic hit and we've had to cut back on tour plans and the like. We've got an amazing fan base, not just at home but all over the world.
Anyways even since then there's been only a few changes in the lineup over the past 4+ years. LIke I said, life happens, but the momentum of the band doesn't stop, so we've had to regularly find people who could stay 100% on board as things became more and more serious, bigger contracts, longer term commitments. That said, I'm unbelievably proud of the guys and gal we have now. John Scotto on Vocals, Lance Hicks on Bass, Rachelle Moreau on Keys, and Johnny Moore on Drums. Plus me on guitar. That's Dali Van Gogh.
RAG: "Boneyard" has a certain raw grit behind it. Has this always been a part of your sound or have you guys evolved into the sound we hear now?
Isaac: Yeah that's probably the one thing that has stayed consistent right from the beginning. The band has changed a lot over even the last 4 years, let alone all the way back to 2009 or whatever it was. Everyone brings their own musical influences and takes on songs, even stuff that's already released. That's part of the fun in working with new people. It gives new life to your material. But no matter what we've always had the sort of raw, in your face rock energy you're talking about. That's been a big linking factor with our music. We're a pretty diverse band. We have everything from kind of country/western ballads, to big rock opera type stuff, to straight up hard rock and heavy metal. But all of it "has teeth" as we like to say. That might come down to me and my style as a guitarist if I'm being honest. That was the whole reason I got the band going in the first place. I wanted to play raw, heavy, meaningful music, and that's what we've been doing.
RAG: "Boneyard also has some huge crew vocals happening during the chorus. Do you incorporate that sort of thing into live performances?
Rachelle Moreau (Keys): Yes very much so. It's super important in filling out the songs live. As I'm sure you've heard we have some pretty dense arrangements on our recordings, but live it's just the five of us. So we have to work overtime on everything. Some songs have big gang vocal parts, on others it's more impactful to have harmonies. It helps that we all have such different vocal ranges. Except Johnny, we don't let him have a mic hahaha. You don't need to hear him screeching along to the songs on stage. I know, I sit right beside him. I get the FULL ear-full hahaha.
RAG: We can all hear some classic metal influence and we wanted to know if you could give us some of your absolute top influences as a band.
Johnny Moore (Drums): Influences for the band as a whole, we're all over the map. I'm a die hard classic rock guy. Rachelle is a musical theatre kid who trained as a classical pianist. Isaac likes the 90s. John's a massive queen fan. It's very broad. For this song we certainly pull from a lot of heavy bands, Alice In Chains, Metallica.
Lance Hicks (Bass): Yeah as the resident metalhead in the band I'd say the absolute top of the list is Metallica. They were the band that really introduced me personally to metal and heavier music. Another one for sure is Rage Against the Machine or to be honest any band that Tom Morello is in. Tom Morello is the reason I started seriously playing music, and RATM's music really inspires all of us to make music with purpose. Whether that purpose is to inspire change like Rage did with so many of their songs or if the purpose is just to give people something to be able to enjoy and be able to forget about the stress of life for a little while.
The single sounds like it's about your actions as a person and how you might change them when faced with the thought of mortality. Of course that's our take, can you tell us what inspired this song lyrically?
John Scotto (Lead Vocal): The song does touch on our actions as a person and how the larger world around it is affected by it in a few ways. Also the parts of our nature that we are blind to, and the nightmare that can come from our indifference to the very real problems that come from that. And I feel that applies both on an individual level, but also on a collective one as well. We're all accountable for what the world looks like.
I've always enjoyed music that brings up uncomfortable and often dismissed truths of human nature, and rock and roll has always been a reflection of the times, like many of the songs written during the vietnam war for example. The stuff we're writing now is reflective of the world right now. Not just the pandemic but everything going on. Social unrest, political turmoil. Its rough out there, so our music is rough. When things were better our music had a lighter tone, comparatively speaking.
So what can we expect from Dali Van Gogh in the upcoming future, anything we can look forward to soon?
Isaac: Well more music for sure. This is just the first single from a slew of them we have planned. We're tying them all together with a kind of digital novel I'm writing. It's up on our website's home page if you want to take a look. I'm writing it slowly, it's evolving and is being dropped in pieces over time. Few pages every week. The songs go along with the novel which is sort of a journal. Take a look, you'll see what I mean.
We've also been putting things together for a big live stream concert that will be coming up October 30th. You'll be able to tune in on our social media, so watch out for that. And we're lucky enough to be playing one of the only Music Festival's that's still happening in our neck of the woods. It's being put on by Salty Dog Brewing Company, the same guys who usually do Rock The Hub which is one of the biggest rock events in Eastern Canada, though of course that was cancelled this year as it would have been right in the middle of the first wave. I can't talk about more details than that right now, but there will be an official announcement coming soon.
RAG: Is there anything you guys would like to share with fans before we go?
Johnny: Yeah, go follow Dali Van Gogh on ALL our socials. We're on EVERYTHING! Look us up, give us a like, share with your friends. We're trying to keep going here through one of the worst periods in history for the music industry. We need every rock fan's help to survive this. Only YOU can prevent forest fires, um, I mean the collapse of the music industry hahahaha.
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