My Q&A With: Holly Miranda

Before recording your second album, you spent some time at Joshua Tree in California. How was your time there?

I went out there to get away and to write. I’d been having a hard time writing and had a dream I went to JT and rented a house for a month. The next morning, I rented the first house I found and drove out with as much gear and I could fit in my Prius. I wrote my first song that night, Desert Call.  

Aside from a solo career, you have also been a member of several bands. These include The Jealous Girlfriends, a band you were in a few years ago, as well as a more recent band alongside fellow members Scarlett Johansson, Julia Haltigan, Kendra Morris, and Este Haim for the first single. How do you navigate keeping each sound for individual projects as separate entities?11156323_10153367188468619_2128179437534155604_n

I don’t think its a conscious decision, you have to let the songs become what they want to be. It’s hard to explain, but I’m influenced by so many different artist.. From Tool to Marvin Gaye to Joni Mitchell. So of course I want to make many different types of music. I love having different projects, they all express some other side of me I need to get out there. 

Holly Miranda, your self-titled album was released a little over a month ago. How has the reception been? Can you tell us a little bit about the album?

I think the reception has been great so far, but my view point might be a little skewed. :) I think this is by far the most personal record I’ve made to date. I co-produced it with Florent Barbier, and used my band in the studio. I wanted to really make something that sounds like we do live. 

You have spent a large part of your career and life touring as a musician. Whether it has been as a supporting musician, most recently as a guitarist for Karen O, or touring a solo project, you have traveled to some incredible places. Do you have a favorite city or experience thus far?

I would have to say my favorite place to play so far was the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia. I was invited there by Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson who were curating the Vivid festival a few years ago. It was truly an honor to perform alongside Lou, Laurie and a multitude of other incredible talented musicians, not to mention performing on that iconic stage. 

There was a five-year span of time in between the release of your debut album, The Magician’s Private Library and your self-titled album released in May. How do you feel the hiatus influenced your new album?

I needed to take a break and have a life. I was really burnt out, I’ve been doing this for 17 years, more than half my life. I think it influenced my writing to be more personal to reach deeper, which is in part also to just growing up.  

I just watched your music video for “All I Want Is To Be Your Girl.” Not only is the song wonderfully catchy, but also the music video is really intriguing and pairs well with the lyrics and message! What was the idea behind the video?

The idea was to play with the idea of gender and wanting to “be someone’s girl”, I was talking to my friend who teaches gender studies at Oakland University, Lacey Story, and she and I were riffing about that idea, then I wrote a treatment taking it the ideas into this circus theme. I really never thought it would get made, my original treatment had me riding off on a female centaur.  

What is one thing you wish to accomplish over the next year?

I would like to take my band on tour and I would love to get back to Europe for a tour. I would also very much love to play in Mexico or South America, I’ve never been there.  

Is there anything you would like to add?

Not really, just that I hope you enjoy the album and thanks for taking the time to listen. xxx 

* photo from the artist’s Facebook page

My Q&A With: Cleopatra Degher

At a very young age you moved to Sweden and spent much of your youth there before moving back to California. How do you feel the culture of both these locations influences your music? 

Being bicultural has really shaped who I am, both musically and otherwise. I find myself being drawn to the more melancholy vibes of (some) Nordic music, but at the same time I listen to a lot of American roots music, and I think I take a little from both when I write my songs.

 Your sound has been likened to Joni Mitchell. Who would you say your music is comparable to? Or how would describe the audiences you’re trying to reach? 

Hmm that’s always hard for me to say. I might say my music is comparable to a band like First Aid Kit. I like their music a lot.

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This summer you’re touring the East Coast. How, if at all, do you anticipate this tour will be different than the time you’ve spent on the West Coast? 

I have friends and family in several cities along the West Coast who I’ve been able to stay with and hang out with along the way. On the East Coast I don’t have nearly as many and I’ve also never been there before. So it’ll be a completely different experience! I’m really looking forward to seeing the East Coast.

 

After releasing your debut album Pacific last fall, you were featured on NPR’s World Café Next. What is your reaction to such moments of increasing recognition?

 It’s a great feeling. I get motivated to work harder when things like that happen. The World Cafe feature was completely out of the blue too, which made it even more special.

At South by Southwest this past year, you played three consecutive nights. Did you get to catch any other performances while you were there? 

Yeah I got to see Laura Marling play tunes from her new album in a pretty intimate setting, which was so great! She’s one of my favorites now. And I got to see several local Austin bands who were all super good. I’m impressed with Austin in so many ways.

My Q&A With: Soul Low

Where did the name Soul Low originate?

The name Soul Low originated from a a pizza hang out between Jake and Charlie. They were trying to brainstorm band names and Jake kept insisting that the word “soul” be used. Apparently they came upon Soul Low and thought the pun was so fantastic that it stuck. Now we’re forever cursed with having to spell out our name every time we talk to a stranger. 

How do you feel Milwaukee, the city the band is based in, has influenced Soul Low?

I think Milwaukee has had a HUGE influence on our music – the Milwaukee scene is so diverse and varied that it’s hard not to pick up influences all the time. Two in particular that stick out to me are Violent Femmes & John the Savage (RIP). What’s great is that everyone in town is so connected. I know dudes who hang in the jazz scene who do gigs with people in the folk scene who also play in the hip hop scene; it’s way cool to see how we all impact each other. I used to know a guy from high school who put us on at a gospel church. That was one of our first gigs. You can’t help but be exposed to every kind of music and culture.

If you could headline any music festival, which one would it be?image1

I mean any festival would be a dream to headline. But if I have to be specific, I’d personally love to headline Eaux Claires Festival. It’s right here in the state and is already packed with so many awesome Wisconsin bands. To hang with Sylvan Esso or PHOX would be so rad.

Delaware House Records, the label under which you released your debut album, “Uneasy,” is actually run by Sam. How do you go about creating and maintaining an independent label? 

The creation of Delaware House Records was kind of a gut reaction. Jake’s band at the time, Pale Girls, was looking to release their debut EP. I wasn’t in any bands so I told him I’d help out with the promotion and distribution. From there I came up with the name, had a friend create the logo, and started a website. In the last few years as Soul Low has gotten busier the label has slowed down. Things are picking back up though. A good friend of mine from Minneapolis, Cody Nelson of Straya, and I have a few things cookin.

How long have you been playing together as a band?

Jake and I have been in bands since we were both 11; we’ve played everything from blues to jazz to rock to jam band to surf etc. However Soul Low has existed since 2009. We played out for two years, took a two year break, and have been back together since 2013.

Spin Magazine listed Soul Low as one of “Five Artists to Watch in May 2015.” How does it feel to know your music is being supported on a broadening level?

It feels very rewarding to know that big people are paying attention to what’s going on. We’ve been receiving a lot of emails we don’t normally receive, most of them being attributed to that particular post. I don’t know. What’s tite for us is bodies at shows. Hopefully those kinds of bigger posts continue and help pack more bodies at shows across the US. We’re just tryna dance with some people.

“Sweet Pea,” the band’s latest EP was released on May 26th of this year. Can you talk a little about it?

“Sweet Pea” is the result of a handful of demos Jake made about a year ago. When Jake sent them out to the band, we initially rejected them for other material we’d been working on. A few months ago when we were on tour, Jake put the collection on in the car and we found ourselves getting really into the songs. From there things moved very quickly: the week we came back we started practicing the new songs, shortly thereafter booking studio time with our good friend Harrison Colby, co-founder of Gloss Records. We spent a day with him and knocked out the songs. That urgency really lent itself to the EP. Because Harrison worked so closely with the songs, he asked to release it on our behalf. We agreed and now we have a 9-song EP on tape that comes with a download card and a limited edition Soul Low temporary tattoo. Whew.

What are your plans for the rest of the summer and the rest of the year?

Our plans for the rest of year include a handful of Milwaukee festival shows, some regional touring and some East Coast touring. We try our best to stay busy; we’re not the kind of band to sit still for too long.

Thanks! Any final comments?

Thank you for agreeing to chat with us about our nonsense :)

My Q&A With: Cobi Mike

Prior to your solo career, you were a member of Boston-based band Gentlemen Club. How do you feel your experiences in a successful band have influenced you as an independent musician?

Lol the band name was “Gentlemen Hall” not Gentlemen Club. Anyway, my experience in that band was vital to bring me to where I am now. I guess you could say we went through the wringer that is the music industry. But more importantly, I acquired a lot of skills that made it possible for me to do this on my own. I feel blessed to have had all of the opportunities and experiences that we had.  

Being from Minnesota, how did you end up in the music scene in Boston?

I attended school in Boston for two years and that is how I met the guys that became “Gentlemen Hall”. We started out playing basement parties and clubs and eventually that led to national tours and a few lucky breaks.

During your career you have had the opportunity to play alongside many reputable musicians including One Republic, Young The Giant, and Beyoncé. Do you have a moment or moments that were particularly memorable?LY6A4115_DJ3

All the moments you listed are very memorable but opening for Young The Giant in 2011 definitely was a stand out. It was shortly after their first record came out and cough syrup had just gotten on the radio. Their live show was intimate and powerful and the songs were stellar. After seeing them play live, I became a fan. They are really talented, humble guys and I’m happy to see them getting bigger and better. 

 In recording your EP, you were able to work with many incredible people. This included engineer, Tom Weir, who has worked with artists such as Blondie and Willie Nelson. How do you feel working with such people impacted your recording process?

When you work with the right people things usually go a lot smoother. Tom Weir had the most impact on me simply because he taught me so much about engineering and has a great ear for mixing. This EP was very hands on for me and was the first time I produced and mixed my own material. So it was great to have Tom there to help out whenever I’d hit a wall. 

The music video for “Walk Through the Fire” is very artistic and bold! Where did the idea behind the video stem from?

The idea behind the video for “Walking Through the Fire” stemmed from the lyrics. I knew I wanted my friend Jacob Stein to produce the video. He has done some amazing work and he knew two great directors, Adam Villasenor and Reza Ghassemi, that wanted to get involved. Together we talked about what the lyrics meant to us and started throwing ideas around. Within a few minutes we had the concept of a man walking through the desert having hallucinations. Each hallucination would represent a different metaphor–sexual, physical, spiritual, and mental challenges that lead to finding one’s true self. This idea jarred a memory of a dream Adam once had of a ballerina, a boxer, a burning bush, and a chess player, so naturally we incorporated all those things in the video. 

The EP was recorded in interesting locations such as Alma Studios in Ireland, Studio City Sound in California, and your bedroom! Why did you end up recording in each of these locations? How do you feel each of the locations added to the EP as a whole?

I went to Ireland in 2014 to work with my friend Mia Fitz. When she heard “Walking Through the Fire” she had a lot of great ideas for the arrangement. She has a great ear for hooks and contributed greatly to the song. Alma Studios is her home studio. That was my first trip to Ireland and working with her there is a fond memory. 

Studio City Sound is Tom Weir’s studio. It’s not far from where I live. A friend of mine introduced me to Tom around September of 2014. After meeting him and seeing his studio I asked if he’d be interested in taking a stab at a mix for me. One thing lead to another and I ended up recording there for the next few months because I loved working with Tom so much. 

My home studio is where I do most of my songwriting and recording of my demos. I often use a lot of my home production and go to a place like Studio City Sound to record final vocals and live drums.

Who are your favorite artists at the moment and what are you listening to?

Kendrick Lamar is probably my favorite artist at the moment. Its because of his lyrics and delivery that I have such an appreciation for him. I’ve also been getting into Major Lazer’s latest record. There are some burners on that album. 

Little Dragon, Awolnation, Miike Snow, Jai Pual, Aphex Twin, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Flying Lotus, Here We Go Magic, Jeff Buckley, Kelela, Sinkane, Sufjan Stevens, Borns, Kanye, James Blake, Gary Clark Jr. The Dandy Warhols, Dam Funk, D’Angelo, Snarky Puppy, Nirvana, Young The Giant, Future Islands, Prince, Toro Y Moi, Nick Drake, St. Vincent, Jim James, Thundercat. 

Thank you for answering some questions! Do you have anything you would like to add? 

Huge thank you to the supporters of artists all around the world! 

https://soundcloud.com/cobimike/walking-through-the-fire