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?
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
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.
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.
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?
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 🙂
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?
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!
Together, Emi Night, Eli Saragoussi, Tomas Campos, David Runge, Davy Timm make up Strawberry Runners a “shimmery, gritty, tender-hearted pop” band based in Denver, Colorado. Check them out!
Where did the name Strawberry Runners originate?
Emi: So, the origin of our name is a bit of a mystery. No one can remember who thought of it or when it originally came up, but it’s a name that had been bouncing around in my head for a while, maybe even years. I was talking with a friend about it recently and I immediately thought of one of the first associations I have with strawberries – my mom grew them in the little strip of garden in our back yard. Our garden was pretty pathetic. We tried to grow all sorts of things, but most everything died except for the strawberries, which seemed to come back stronger and bigger every year. I also used to run away a lot as a kid too, from home, from school, from babysitters, from friends…etc. Probably as an adult too, just in new ways, you know. So there are associations all around.
You recently played at South by Southwest music festival. How was that experience?
Emi: South by Southwest was pretty chaotic! We got to see lots of good music though! My favorite show was the Don Giovanni showcase on Friday night. And some of us got to see this unbelievable show with an amazing queen named Christeene the same night. We were hosted by our incredibly hospitable friend Santi from the Austin band, Growl. We all got tattoos and/or piercings that week too…haha! We danced a ton and ate delicious food, made new friends, wore lots of earplugs, saw tons of beautiful people everywhere. Overall it was a bit of a mess, but I’m glad we went!
David: The difference in the shows was pretty surreal. One day would be an empty field, the next would be a packed bar. Other than that, I felt like we got really tight from playing so many shows back to back.
As a band based in Denver, Colorado, do you find the popular music scene there heavily influences you?
Emi: I draw influence from so many musicians and artists here, even though a lot of the music that comes out of Denver is super different from what we make. I’m influenced most by our friends who also make up the bands in our community: Mega Gem, Chase Ambler, Disaster Canyon, Doo Crowder, Cop Circles, Bonnie Gregory of The Horse Latitudes, Stelth Ulvang, Anna Smith, Meeca, Spirits of the Red City, Laura Goldhamer and a couple former Denver bands: Papa Bear and Dovekins
What do you find are your biggest influences?
Emi: Well, usually it starts with a feeling about something. That will make me want to sit down and write for awhile. So feelings… tied to memory, family, friendships, love, stories, and personal myth-making. I’m most influenced by these things. Being able to see my life and what I’m experiencing right now as part of a bigger story can be super empowering. Stories. I love songs that tell stories, especially stories that are a little off-beat with some familiar elements, so some of my biggest musical/story-telling influences are Belle and Sebastian, The Mountain Goats, Joanna Newsom, The Weakerthans, Neutral Milk Hotel and Saintseneca. And one of the biggest influences in making music, and just living + creating in general is my family. My mom and my brothers. We’ve been through a lot together, and right now we live far apart because that’s what works for us, but writing songs helps me to stay close to them. And they always give me something to write about. haha
NPR listed your song “Hatcher Creek” on their mix for SXSW. Did you expect this song to be received so positively? How did the song come about?
Emi: Haha! Well, no actually, not really! We’re a totally unknown band otherwise, almost monastic, even! We sort of just put this out there like, hey NPR, so here’s this… but, well, you know, I actually also gave them a good amount of background information about my writing and this song. I was pretty open and honest about my process and the experiences that led to the writing of this song in particular. Sharing this information with some total strangers sort of made me feel differently about my work. Exposing these vulnerable and sometimes painful roots of my creative process was a choice, and when I made it, I had this sense for some reason that I couldn’t go back. And maybe they saw that too. Or maybe they just heard a catchy pop song! I can’t say! I mean, when you put your heart and soul and sweat into something for a long time, and give it all the love and care you have, I just have to believe that something will come of it. Like, I know this isn’t a stone I’m planting. It’s a seed, and when I care for it, it’ll thrive. Who knows what that looks like? I guess that’s kind of how I think of my work. I just give it my best and hope it survives out there!
If you could play a show for one night with two other bands/musicians, what bands/musicians would you choose and why?
David: Spirits of the Red City and Tune Yards probably. It’d be a weird show, but I love both of those bands like air.
Emi: Ooohhhh, I’d probably want to play with Belle and Sebastian, because they’re my favorite band of all time, and the Music Tapes. Julian Koster creates the most magical show experience I’ve ever, ever had. I have no idea how this show would actually look, honestly. I’m sure it would be totally weird, because I feel like both of those bands stand best alone, with such incredible, engaging performances, that it’s pretty absurd to try to pack in other music experiences around that. So maybe my ideal show would actually be one in which all three of our bands collaborate for one totally freaky, bizarre, and magical performance.
The lyrics of your songs are often very personal. Do you have a particular writing process or ritual?
Emi: Hm. My lyrics are often very personal. My early life was dark and silent. Now, sometimes I write about the abuse and trauma I experienced growing up. As for ritual, I’ve made rituals an integral part of my daily life, but in songwriting, specifically writing about these dark experiences, this is the closest I get to it: I’ve forgotten most of my childhood. It’s a normal reaction to trauma, to forget. But in many ways, my body still remembers. This can be maddening. So when the confusion between these two disparate experiences of my body and my mind becomes overwhelming, I spend time intentionally retrieving memories. If one returns to me it can be powerful – painful. Playing a song – just humming with my guitar can be very soothing in these moments. And as I work through some of the pain of the memory, I try to give voice to the experiences I recall from my childhood through writing. I try to tell the story from a place of empowerment now, rather from the perspective of a victim. Often the only way I can access my memory, without re-traumatization, is through song. Does that make sense? I have to write, because somehow the child I was, her life, little more than a whisper, has a new chance to speak in these moments. It is less a ritual than it is a compulsion which I make space for in my somewhat ritualistic life.
Aside from being members in Strawberry Runners, you all play in other bands as well. How do you manage this? Have you had any interesting experiences with this?
David:It can be tough, but is usually more of a positive influence than a burden. It’s nice to step outside of the Strawberry Runners sound as an exercise.
Emi: Well, nothing too interesting, honestly! Strawberry Runners and Mega Gem have for a long time been very entangled. Davy and Tomas are two main members of both bands, I’ve been an auxiliary member for years, singing harmonies and playing a variety of instruments, Eli has filled in on bass a number of times, and just to keep David in the loop, Mega Gem threw him on glockenspiel for one of their shows at SXSW. I played bass for Mega Gem during their Midwest/east coast tour last summer. I also toured with them, playing Strawberry Runners songs as Moth Mender – the name of my solo project, which has recently been mostly absorbed by Strawberry Runners. For a couple of our shows Mega Gem backed up my set, and that’s actually what influenced me to ask Tomas and Davy to join Strawberry Runners later in the summer.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Not at the moment! Thanks so much for interviewing us, and for patiently awaiting our super late responses!
Hinds, formerly known as Deers, originally started as a duo of members Carlotta and Ana. Based in Madrid, the two started recording music that immediately received positive attention from magazines such as The Guardian and NME. Later expanding to a four-piece band with fellow members Ade and Amber, Hinds has continued to make appealing, lo-fi music accompanied by their fun, free-spirited attitudes, and growing recognition in today’s music scene. Despite it only being April, Hinds have been extraordinarily busy touring this year, having already covered festivals like South by Southwest, and now heading to Spain, Ireland, the UK, and France, among others. With an album being released this year, Hinds can only go up from here.
How would you describe your sound?
weird, sincere and smily
The band was formerly known as Deers, but had to change the name for legal reasons. How did you decide on a new name?
just because it was the only one that we liked and didn’t mean a bad word or that was already taken hahaha
The band recently played at South by Southwest in Texas, and is set to play several more shows in the United States and Europe. What has been your favorite place to perform thus far and why?
we have loved BURGERAMA. a festival full of kids freaking out ’cause maybe it is their first festival ever… everything is so familiar… beers and burger forever free… oh god!
How do you feel Spain has influenced you as a band?
Spain is such a deep influence that it’s just inside our blood. everything we do is in some way influenced by our spanish brain.
What are the band’s plans for 2015?
The band originally started as a duo, and then became of four-piece group. What is your process like in writing and creating music together as a band?
ana and carlotta (here speaking) we still take the main part of the composition, but still when we have the main body of a song we go to our rehearsal place and we search for a bass and drums that we think that fits with the energy of the song and so.
Incorporating upbeat, catchy lyrics, ornate percussive beats, and pop vocals, Los Angeles based band HOLYCHILD is on a rapid road to top the charts. With what is referred to as ‘brat pop,’ their songs define the term earworm. The sound of HOLYCHILD reflects a sort of off-the-beaten-path pop that is gaining the attention of many listeners around the globe, not to mention powerhouses like Apple. What is so appealing about the band is their approach. Yes, they create danceable pop music, yet their persona as a group and the meaning behind their music is both intriguing and enlightening. Each track on their EP, Mindspeak, is notable and unique, the same which can be said about HOLYCHILD as a band. Their album, The Shape of Brat Pop To Come, is set to be released on June 2, 2015.
You went to school on the East Coast but are now based in Los Angeles. Do you feel the different cultures of these two places influence your music?
Liz: Yeah, definitely. In general we’re very inspired by places we’ve lived and human nature in the different places. Besides the east and west coast vibe, I also lived in New Hampshire, Italy, Portugal and Nepal and cultural affects are really fascinating to me. I guess we’re always trying to figure out which human actions are innate and which are influenced by culture, media and society.
The two of you met while attending George Washington University. Did you quickly realize there was potential for success when you started playing together or did you have to work on connecting musically?
Louie: The musical connection was pretty immediate. Whether it was the first few songs we wrote (a couple of them actually made the final cut on our album!), or the playlists we’d share with each other, that connection was probably quickest one I have ever had with anybody in my life. On the other hand, there was no original plan, but to just have fun expressing ourselves through music. We started to take our work a bit more seriously when we recorded the first few songs in DC, listened back to them and realized it was something we had to pursue. I think we both knew at that moment it would have been a shame to abandon a project that had that much promise at the start. Definitely happy we stuck at it!
Last year you went on tour with MØ. How was that experience?
Louie: That was probably the best tour we’ve done yet. MØ and her crew were great and the shows were a blast; what more could you ask for?!
I actually attended one of the shows and I thought you complimented each other very well. It was neat to listen to two very different sounds, even though both your music and MØ’s are considered ‘pop’ in one way or another. What audiences do you hope to reach with your music?
Louie: Yeah, thanks! So far our audience has been an interesting mix. I think I can narrow it down to folks roughly 16 – 30 years old and either male or female representing the majority of them. Ultimately to me though I feel like we have the pop + fashion sensibilities of No Doubt/Gwen Stefani mixed with the big beats + social commentary of MIA so I am kind of expecting our demographic to play out as such; but who really ever knows how anything will play out! It’s been a dream to connect with as many people as we have already. For our debut album, I feel like we’re swinging for the fences in the sound, message, scope, etc; and honestly hoping to connect with the world through it. Time will tell how that all goes!
In January you played several shows at The Echo, a renowned venue and nightclub in LA. Have there been any ‘aha’ moments, whether it be while playing a certain show, at a particular venue, or something else?
Louie: Great question! And yes, I had several of them at the Echo residency last month! Not only because we were playing about a dozen new songs from our album live for the first time, but also because we added a handful of new elements to the live show, such as backup singers, dancers, visuals, and more. Moreover we videotaped each show! So every week after our show we would watch back the video tape, listen to the recording, take note on what worked and what didn’t, make adjustments, return the following week, play our set, learn from that, and so on and so forth. Therefore I haven’t felt better about where I live show is at now! I am actually really excited to take it on the road soon so we can share all the new songs, the new show and more with the rest of the world!
You played South by Southwest this year! How was it?
Liz: It was so high and so low. That’s how everything is for me these days! SXSW was no exception. The shows themselves were so powerful and exciting. Somethings in between were a little stressful. SXSW has changed so much over the years, and this was my third time going and I guess I was just expecting it to be similar to other years. It was such a strong learning experience to live without expectations or presumptions. That best part was being on stage with so many amazing people in front of me.
“Happy With Me” a song from the EP Mindspeak has seen a significant amount of success and positive reception. In writing for the EP, did you think this song would become a hit, or did you think other songs would be better received?
Louie: Like most everything we do, we try to suspend all expectations and just take everything one step at a time, enjoy it as much as possible, learn from our mistakes, etc. That includes “Happy With Me,” and how we didn’t really know it was going to take off the way it has. On the other hand, “Happy With Me” was maybe the quickest song we wrote for the MINDSPEAK EP and felt great when writing + producing it. But you still never know how anything will be received until its out. It’s been a blessing to connect with as many people as we have through HOLYCHILD and that song in particular. Can’t wait for people to hear the new stuff on the debut album!
The cover art for your EP (a sprinkle covered donut) is so perfect in a light, whimsical, and simplistic, yet appealing sort of way. Where did you come up for the idea with this?
Liz: Thanks. The EP is all discussing the role of the female in our culture. At the time I actually was so depressed that I wasn’t eating, partly out of being too sad and partly out of pressures I felt to look a certain way. I was really interested in using food as imagery because like the female body, it’s something that is seen as coveted in our culture. I like the donut because I don’t really consider it to be sustainable food, like there’s nothing behind it beyond the hedonistic pleasure of eating it. I feel like a lot of women are portrayed that way, like their only purpose is to be eaten up and then discarded. I felt like the donut represented all that in one image, and I was really into using food in photoshoots for that reason as well. It’s so funny, because I sprinkled that donut and made it look so perfect and Louie and our photographer and our friends were like, are you sure you want to do this? The donut is a little weird. And now it’s such a trend it seems. I hope that people think about it in the way I intended, at least subconsciously because I think it’s an interesting discussion to be had.
“Running Behind” your latest single is featured on the first Apple Watch commercial. How has it been having your song recognized on such a wide scale?
Liz: It’s all kind of surreal. At the end of the day, Apple always features really amazing music in their ads so it’s definitely an honor. It’s nice when you work so hard on something to have your hard work recognized in some way. I think everyone can relate to that. So it’s really been a nice bit of momentum this year, especially because our album will be out soon!
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming album?
Liz: The album is called The Shape of Brat Pop to Come and we really wanted to create this world of Brat Pop. It’s a genre of music that’s based on pop music, but at the same time it’s thick with social commentary. We like talking about gender roles, power dynamics, our culture’s obsession with beauty, self, fame, money. The album is a journey into this vulnerable world in a pretty accessible way.
This summer the band is set to play several large scale festivals including Firefly Festival in Delaware and Lollapalooza. What are you most looking forward to about all of the upcoming events?
Louie: We are actually not playing Firefly this year (we played it last year!), but we are doing Lollapalooza, Governor’s Ball and a few others. It might sound cliche, but I’m honestly looking forward most to the actual playing. The live show has never felt better and I am really excited to bring it on the road all over the world this year in support of the debut album. Oh, and festivals in particular are always special, since they’re kind of like a reunion with a ton of our music making friends so I’m seeing friends from all over soon!
Are there any comments or thoughts you would like to add?
Liz: Not really! This is so nice to chat with you. Thanks for the questions. We’re really excited for the album to come out in June and it’s just inspiring to touch base on all these thoughts. Hope we can see you on the road!
When Scott Goldbaum, formally of Wise Cub, called on his old friends Nick Chamian and Mike Musselman to start a new music project, the decision was organic. Later, the team paired with Molly Rogers to complete the band now known as Forebear. It was not long after forming that Forebear caught the attention of Scott Gordon, a producer and engineer who had previously worked with artists such as Alanis Morissette and Ringo Star. Forebear’s self-titled debut EP was released last November. Scott and Molly of the band took the time to fill me in on some of their future plans!
How did Forebear come about?
Scott Goldbaum – In 2011, I began touring as a solo artist under the moniker Wise Cub. In the efforts to produce a full band for a larger scale live performance, I reached out to friends and colleagues in the industry who would be up for supporting his songs on stage. It took a while before we all come together, but as a result and with the mutual history of playing in a band with Nick Chamian (bass) and Mike Musselman (drums) when we were all growing up in the San Fernando valley, it just made sense for all of us to come together, not to mention the immediate connection we had with Molly Rogers (viola/keys/vocals) as a person and as a musician. We all realized pretty quickly that we were on to something special and that had evolved into a much different sound that the previously written work called for. So we decided to embrace the collective and along with our brand new sound came a brand new name, Forebear.
The music you create has been described as “taking listeners on a surreal experience.” Can you talk a little bit about your sound and how you hope it influences your listeners?
Molly Rogers –If anything other than simply enjoying it, we think our songs have plenty of emotion to them.
Scott Goldbaum – Often I’ve noticed people denying themselves the time to struggle with their feelings or to even be in the moment that frees themselves from the constant mental distractions. Lyrically, I hope that people would find a relationship between the singer and his or her own personal grappling of the range of emotions supported by music that only furthers those stories. The surreal aspect of it all probably stems from a lot of very “real” feelings that we are all encouraging the listener to get lost in. I think our music tends to offer the same effect as if the lyrics would be if simply read on paper. Whether it is being fired upon returning to work, expressing violent urges, struggling between the weight of an interpersonal loss and a foreseen global crisis, there’s something for anyone who feels the disparity between what is and what ought to be within their own mind.
It is interesting to see an indie rock band incorporate a classical instrument like the viola. Was this a natural integration? How do you feel the viola adds to the music you produce?
Scott Goldbaum – It was incredibly natural in the sense that Molly was playing the violin within Wise Cub prior to us announcing the name change to Forebear. I still have a video on my phone from the first time Molly and I ever sat down in her apartment and began integrating the viola over the violin on an old Wise Cub song called “Comet.” The band has always been huge fans the way that strings were used in bands like Cursive and within Damien Rice’s ensemble, and Molly brought in her own classical upbringing and score influences (John Williams, James Newton-Howard, Dmitri Shostakovich, etc.) and translates it into something that somehow worked for the music we were all creating. Originally, Molly was playing the violin, which then evolved to her choice of playing viola because of the deeper, richer sound of the instrument which helped pull things together more so than the sound of the violin. As soon as we first heard the change, we thought the viola was the perfect addition of the instrumental vehicle to solicit emotion from the listener, especially driven behind Molly’s innate virtuosic instincts and musical tastes.
Aside from you being a very talented band, you are all very skilled as individuals, having worked with musicians such as Feist and Bastille. Do you feel you each bring musical elements to the group or do you find you think as a unified whole?
Molly Rogers – A new song could originate in a number of ways between the four of us. Due to how different albeit strangely complimentary all of our musical upbringings have been, our sound is the product of four individuals who aren’t afraid to offer and blend differing musical ideas. Individually, we’re grateful to be working together where we all innately understand how different we each are as musician in both tastes and experience, and yet we trust each other enough to let it meld together to create the music that we do.
Do you have a favorite song you have written? What about a favorite song in general?
Molly Rogers – As it stands now, our favorite recorded song on this EP would be “Cusp,” which also happens to be one of the songs we look forward to the most when it comes to playing a live set. When we play it live and when the chorus hits, it’s like an out-of-body experience. As a band, our favorite songs are constantly changing, but at this moment, we are huge fans of “Powa” by Tune-Yards and have been really into My Brightest Diamond, especially the songs “Dragonfly” or “Be Brave.”
What are your plans for 2015?
Scott Goldbaum –Starting February, we are going on a Californian tour with our good friends and phenomenal performs, Figs Vision. You can keep up to date with where we’ll be playing either on our website (www.forebear.la) or on Facebook or Twitter. In the next couple of weeks, we are releasing a new track that we are really excited about and plans for releasing our forth-coming EP early summer.
About four years ago, Kenny Vasoli of The Starting Line headed a new creative project, Vacationer. Based out of Philadelphia, the Nu-Hulu music project has rapidly gained followers around the world. Over the past few years Vacationer has toured with well-known bands such as Bombay Bicycle Club, Tennis and The Naked and Famous. The group recently performed in Philadelphia with Bleachers, the alternative music project of mastermind Jack Antonoff of FUN. Vacationer’s second album, Release, serves as a celebrated follow-up to their successful debut album, Gone. Now having spent sufficient time collaborating creatively, the band is moving forward in bringing positive, relaxing, and euphonious music to the masses. Kenny took the time to answer a few questions for me, here is what he had to say:
Kenny, you have been associated with a multitude of bands with very different sounds. What has it been like creating music with different musical approaches and artistic visions?
It’s completely natural for me. I always follow my instincts and honor my influences, both old and new. I have more trouble trying to stick to one sound. I compare it to getting all of my food groups, I’d feel malnourished by only playing one specific type of music my whole life.
Relief, the band’s second album was released this past June, right at the start of festival season. Is it exciting to release an album and immediately get to tour it? How do festival performances differ from venue shows in this sense?
It’s nice getting to play festivals, we’ve had some amazing moments being a part of those this summer. It’s a thrill to be billed along side some of my favorite bands, even heroes at times. I’m always excited to play new songs, it’s like a freshly prepared meal that we are proud to serve. What I like so much about club and theater shows is the understanding between us and the audience. Most of the time when people see us in a venue they have an idea of what they are getting in for, so the ice is already broken.
Sonically, Relief differs from the debut album, Gone, in that Relief almost sounds more relaxed and simplistic, in a positive way. Yet, the growth between the two albums appears very organic. Can you discuss the creative approaches to each of these albums?
We took a very similar approach to this record from the last one. I think our biggest motivation was writing songs that we’d enjoy playing live. We’d played so many shows off of Gone, we could see where our set lacked energy. We added a bit to the writing dynamic with contributions from the live band, those guys are amazing players and have great sensibility so it’s nice to trust them with their parts. We also had a lot of ensemble recording sessions; I believe we had strings, winds and brass come in to track.. even an opera singer on Parallels. We wanted to make a record that went deeper both sonically and in subject matter. I’m very pleased with how it turned out.
You’ve described your sound as ‘relaxed,’ which certainly comes across (in the best way possible)! What do you hope listeners take away from the music you create?
Relaxation and relief are the big objectives with this music. I want people to be happy and put their worries away when they listen to our music. I find stress to be a burden, and it falls upon me too easily. So I’m the poster boy for why this music exists, I need a pronounced reminder to chill out and enjoy life.
Gone is an incredibly unique album. The songs are very detailed, and because of this, actually expand over many genres. There is texture, tropical accents, soulful vocals, dream pop keyboard; the list goes on and on. How do you hone in on and finalize an end goal for a song when there are so many possible routes to take?
Between me and my collaborators, we have so many influences. Often times we’ll expose each other to our influences for the first time during a writing session. We really just follow our instincts and trust each other when we a re completing a song. If one of us is dry of an idea there is almost always someone who can offer one. It kind of becomes a relay race when one of us loses steam at the writing board. Often times when we are excited about new song, the synapses fire between all of us and it is complete in what seems to be no time.
You have toured so much over the past few years with many different people in different places. How are you going to spend your time off?
I lead a very simple life with simple pleasures when I am home. I love to spend time with my dog, hiking and skateboarding along side him as he trots. This past summer, I picked up surfing and am slowly becoming obsessed with it. I cook for myself almost every night when I am home. I enjoy hunting for records, meeting friends to hang out or even play more music. I also frequent the occasional dance night if there is a good party going down.
I admire your ability to incorporate traditional instrumentation alongside electronic additives. What inspired this?
That was an objective from the get-go with this project. My favorite bands were (and still are) ones who could utilize analog and passive instruments along side modern electronic production. E.i. Radiohead and LCD Soundsystem. I was also attracted to the stand alone artist who could create electronic music from natural sounding instruments, namely Four Tet. That was really what led me to find Matt and Grant from Body Language. They produce Vacationer with a background rooted in jazz and classic electronic music. I came to them with my own garage/rock band experience, but I had a vision of a chilled out result. The dynamic between all of us is responsible for the Vacationer sound.
There is a line in your song “Onward & Upward” that goes, “in a movement I found relief.” The way it is presented vocally, musically, and lyrically seems to almost capture the entire essence of the album. Are there any songs or moments that you feel have really captured all that is Vacationer?
I like to site that song as a solid representation of the new album’s message. Relief is readily available if you know where to look. I’ve found a sense of relief both in the band and in myself. Now I just want to spend the rest of my life experiencing it. That’s the song that encapsulated it most recently. Near the start, I’d say that the song Trip filled that role. That was the song that really lit the bulb, I could see clearly what this project was growing into. Not long after we Trip, we named the band Vacationer.
You’ve stated the music you create falls under the genre “Nu-Hula.” Would you mind elaborating on that?
That came from jokingly spouting off genre names at a recording session. I remember we were recording No Rules and Grant was dancing with hula hands. He then exclaimed, “it’s Nu-Hula!” We took to it right away.
What can we expect next from Vacationer?
We’ve got some more touring to do off of Relief. At the start of next year we’ll be making our way to the warm weather states down south for some shows. Come spring/summer we’ll be aiming for as many festivals as we can. In the meantime, we’ll be laying down sketches of new songs. Releasing this last record seemed to make me more inspired to write, which is a-typical. Usually I have a long lasting hangover and need to replenish inspiration. This time around I’m chomping at the bit to write new and exciting music.