My Q&A With: Austin Kolbe


Austin Kolbe from his Facebook page

Nineteen year old Austin Kolbe has been playing music since a very young age. Starting with traditional instruments, such as trumpet, and later moving on to more contemporary instruments like bass and drums, the singer/songwriter utilizes his wide-ranging understanding of music to create exactly what he imagines. Using his personal experiences as inspiration, Austin is providing the world with truthful, exquisite music. Austin recently released his first single, “Lips” for London Tone’s 52×52 launch campaign. Based on its reception, the best is yet to come.

You just released your debut single, “Lips.” How has the reception been?

 I couldnt be happier with the reviews its been getting. The reception has been really great and were seeing more and more new faces at the shows.

What can we expect from your debut album?

I think its going to unveil as something even I wont be able to expect; Showing both my risqué side along with my deeper side, and its all done with live musicians, like I believe it should be. If you cant play it on an instrument, it wont be on the record.

You’ve listed Prince as your biggest influence. In what ways does he influence you?

 Not only has he opened up my mind musically, but he is the definition of what I believe every artist should strive for in terms of musicianship, taking risks, and being true.

Who are some of your other influences?

Anyone who shares the love for fire and groove. I can be under the influence of more than just someone in music as long as they put themselves on the line and drive me to do the same.

What was it like working with music producer and engineer, Eric Lilavois?

I couldnt have asked to have been gifted with a better producer. He’s the only person i’ve met that I think has a understanding of who I really am. We come from a similar mind-set and thats why I think we work so well together.

If you could play any show in the world, which would it be?

Coachella. I see my band and myself on one of those stages soon. The people there are like no one else. I’d be able to give them a really great time, something memorable.

You’ve played many instruments throughout your life. Which instrument is your favorite to play? Which was the most challenging to learn?

This is hard one. Its like asking whose my favorite relative. But, I feel the most free when I play my strat, and I feel its the most challenging, because theres so many different sounds you can get out of a guitar and you’re constantly growing and learning new tricks. Although thats the same with all instruments. 

Your lyrics are very truthful. What are some things that inspire you to write?

I only write from experience.

What do you want to accomplish over the next five years?

The simplest answer, Is to go on tour, and perform for as many people as I can. What means the most to me is to spread the love I have with as many people as possible. 

Don’t Wanna Dance- MØ

Quite possibly the best lack-of-explanation for a song ever created.

Also, if you ever noticed MØ’s tattoo that looks like the ghost from Pac-Man, it’s actually an ode to Pussy Riot. I don’t want anyone to spend too long questioning why she would have such a strong love for Pac-Man.

My Q&A With: Narrow Plains


Narrow Plains from the band’s Facebook page

London, known for fostering copious musical acts, has once again served as breeding ground for an up-and-coming musical force. Narrow Plains, comprised of guitarist and vocalist Charlie Ferriday, bassist and vocalist Roger Connick, and drummer and vocalist Stuart Connick, released two new songs this past August. Along with their EP Somewhere in Between, Narrow Plains have hit the ground running. With seven released songs, big dreams, and undoubted talent, the band is making folk-rock waves.

How did Narrow Plains come to be?

Charlie was playing solo as a singer/songwriter while he was at University and had written some songs for acoustic guitar only. He and Stu (my brother) had started playing some gigs together and so they had rearranged the songs to include percussion. They really wanted to record them but decided they needed a more complete overall sound, so they invited me to join them to play bass for the recording session. We went down to my Gran’s place in Dorset with our instruments and some recording software. We spent a week playing the songs, rearranging them for a band format and then recording them. By the end of it, we had recorded five songs that we really liked and we decided to release them as an EP, “Somewhere In Between”.

We were all really enthused by the EP and decided to start playing it live. We did a lot of open mic’ sessions and accepted any and every gig that we could so that we could get tighter as a band. We all enjoyed the experience so much that we have stuck together ever since.

What was the process like writing music together while in entirely different locations? How were you able to manage that?

As I mentioned, the original songs came about in a slightly piecemeal fashion but nowadays we write the new songs together. All the songs have a different origin but, often, Charlie will come up with a riff or a chorus and bring it into the practice room. We then all chip in with ideas or lyrics until we have a basic arrangement for a song. We have got to know each other even better over the last couple of years, which is important because we are our own worst critics. It sometimes gets a bit heated but, somehow, we manage to get the songs written and still talk to each other afterwards!

The band did a really neat cover of “Cannonball” by Damien Rice. Who would you say your musical influences are?

Thanks, he’s a great artist and we all love that song! The new acoustic/folk movement has really shaped who we are, and bands like Mumford & Sons, Ben Howard, Noah and the Whale and Bon Iver continue to inspire us all. Charlie’s guitar playing has definitely been influenced by Newton Faulkner, particularly the slap technique you can hear prominently on our song “Dreams”. As we were growing up it was modern American rock music that sparked all our passions for music. We were (and still are) into bands like Jimmy Eat World, Blink-182 and Foo Fighters.

This past summer Narrow Plains played multiple well-known festivals. How was this experience?

 Brilliant! We really enjoyed playing at so many festivals. It was an amazing experience to play in front of a lot of different audiences and on different stages. It has filled us full of enthusiasm to record our debut album and (hopefully) tour it next year.

Can you talk a little about the band’s newest release “So Rewind/ Keep You Away?”

“So Rewind” has been a favourite at our gigs for some time. We are very pleased with the final result. Although it is slightly different to our earlier material, it is a natural development and shows a bit of versatility with its pop overtones, samba-like rhythm and vocal harmonies. “Keep You Anyway” is another crowd pleaser. We think it shows a more indie sound and is a bit more raw than most of our songs. Charlie plays the harmonica on it and Stu and I get the chance to lay down a slightly heavier rhythm.

They are both songs that we have been playing live for the last year or so. We decided to release them as a “double A-side” single because we wanted to give our followers and friends a taster of how our sound is progressing and an indication of the type of songs that we’ll be recording on our debut album. We recorded the basis for both songs again outside of the studio. However, we did have some great help from Chris Daniels in the final mixing and mastering at his studio in Brighton.

Where did the idea for the Narrow Plain’s logo come from? 

After we had recorded the EP, we all got together for a weekend at Charlie’s parents’ house in the south-west, bouncing ideas around and setting up the artwork with our great friend, Kraggy, who is a brilliant graphic designer. He was setting up our website and all the artwork for the EP. However, we were struggling to find a logo. Charlie’s Dad mentioned that he had heard there had been a really weird crop circle that had appeared overnight at a place, called Cley Hill, near his house. Cley Hill is famous for UFO spotters as there have been a lot of sightings, although some people put that down to the strong cider that is produced locally! We immediately googled it and found that a perfect geometrical shape had indeed been cut into the surrounding countryside. We all really liked the crop circle and so Kraggy used it as the inspiration for our logo.

My Q&A With: Loper


Sometimes the world feels like a very small place. After coincidentally being in the same place at the same time on multiple occasions, budding singer-songwriter Loper and I finally stumbled into one another. Who is Loper? He is a teenager from the Philadelphia area with vocals that sound strikingly similar to many prominent artists currently reigning at the top of the electronic/synth/pop realm. Completely on his own, Loper is managing to make a name for himself, playing shows in the suburbs of Philadelphia and continuing to blaze forward with a fervor for music. Loper and I had the chance to talk about his music and what he hopes to learn and achieve in the future.

What initially sparked your interest in music?

I started out at age 4 in a professional theater company doing musicals so I guess I’ve just always been interested but I only started writing songs at 14.

Who would you say your biggest influences are, both in music and general?

I’ve always listened to a lot of jazz so like Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald are definitely major influences but some more modern influences would be MØ, Alt-j, Lorde and Jessie J.

How is it working on your first official EP?

It’s crazy watching the songs I plucked out on my piano in my room become real. The process is slow but rewarding. I wish I could be in the studio making music 24/7 but sadly that’s just not realistic but overall it’s been a blast.

What has the reaction to “Poppin Pills” been like?

People seem to really dig it. I barely did any promo for it and it got a great response in my opinion. When I sang it at my most recent show everyone knew the words which was a little nuts. You never really think that the words you’re singing at the keyboard next to your bed will ever be sung by other people, or at least I never did.

I can hear similarities to a lot of musicians such as James Blake, Sam Smith, and Troye Sivan in your music. Do you begin working on a song with a particular sound in mind or does it evolve as the process progresses?

I normally start with lyrics after which I kind of wrap the piano around it and then the full produced version just kind of falls into place in my head. I never really know where I’m going with stuff until it gets there and then all I have to do is flush it out. Also those comparisons make me happy because those are artists I love and respect a whole bunch.

What do you hope to accomplish within the next few years?

I honestly would just like to promote this upcoming EP as long as its relevant to me, maybe tour it if it gets to that point and then hopefully I’ll be in a place in my career where I’m able to record a full LP and maybe by then I’ll have a bigger following. Those are my hopes n’ dreams anyway.

If you could tour with any three musicians, who would they be and where would be you most want to play?

Lorde, Tove Lo and probably Thomston. All three are in my lane and all three seem like hella cool people. I would love to go play AU & NZ. They seem like they have a great appreciation for live performance down there.

My Q&A With: Salt Petal


Salt Petal from the band’s Facebook page.

Beneath the Los Angeles sun, eight-piece band Salt Petal incorporates Latin influences to create a fresh, tropical surf sound. Layering various instruments such as guitar, bass, percussion, synthesizers, brass, you name it, with smooth vocals and steady rhythms, the band creates the perfect mixture of upbeat dance music and laid back surfrock. Recognizing this sort of musical combination is uncommon. Salt Petal are producing music in a way that captures audiences in an ever-growing market.

Here’s what Autumn from the band had to say:

It is refreshing to hear ‘pop’ music produce unique tropical rock music. What are the band’s influences that have led to this sound?

Thanks! Rodrigo and I both grew up with a mix of styles around.  We are the primary songwriters so when we get into songwriting our early influences come out automatically.  Growing up, I loved jazz, Haitian music, west African highlife, as well as the Cure, CCR, all sorts of 50s bepop, New Order, Talking Heads, Paul Simon, The Go-Gos.  Ro grew up in Argentina where artists like the Rolling Stones and Creedence are idols, and he also loved Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Argentine bands like Los Autenticos Decadentes, Los Redonditos de Ricotta, and Los Pericos.  As a teen and in my early twenties I got really into cumbia, samba, forró and 60s Brazilian Pop singers like Gal Costa and Caetano Veloso.  So, I guess we blend all of these things together when we think about songs.

The band is said to have Latin American roots and performs some songs in Spanish. Can you elaborate on the roots of the band?

The whole band is pretty mixed as far as tastes, but a core of us like a similar mix of early rock and roll, early punk, early tropicalia with a strong dose of latin dance sounds like cumbia and samba.  Rodrigo’s from Buenos Aires and knows what it’s like to grow up with people dancing all the time, as a normal thing to do on the weekends and at birthday parties.  Fabio is from Sao Paolo and has similar experiences.  Hiroo is from Sapporo, Japan, and I’m from San Francisco and I think we both wished everyone we knew loved dancing, so we started playing music that included that idea in it.

Do you feel the music created has been influenced significantly by being located in Los Angeles?

We are definitely influenced by our surroundings, but not intentionally.  We haven’t really lived in other states, but in CA Spanish and latin rhythms are definitely all over the place, but somewhat underrated.  It’s always seemed weird to me because knowing multiple languages seemed so cool as I was growing up, but it hasn’t caught on in pop music, it’s still pretty separate.   We’re so lucky to have so many influences at our fingertips.  When I was little I read a story about a girl who traveled back in time to visit the huge library in Alexandria, Egypt before it burned.  It was considered a crossroads of trade and knowledge and I always thought it sounded so amazing.   I realized a few years ago that LA is one of those modern day places.  It’s just hard see when you’re living in it.  Crossroads can be as dirty and messy as they are innovative and exciting.

Brass instruments such as trombone and trumpet are incorporated into the band’s songs. Where did the idea to include such instruments come from?

We started mixing latin dance sounds in to a kind of rock sound we had early on and it seemed natural to add wind and reed instruments.  We started with flute and them moved into trumpet and trombone. Now we always have horns on stage.  They add a great energy to the songs- kind of like an announcement or an exclamation point that makes you dance.  They can also be melancholy and mournful, which we utilized for songs like Darkest Hours.  They have a lot of emotional range, like a voice, which is similar to how the accordion can work as well.

What is in store for the next few months?

We’ve been playing some summer festivals and now in the fall we have some big shows coming up.  On October 11th we’ll be at a large event in Pasadena with Los Amigos Invisibles, Demian Jurado, and a bunch of other great acts.  We’re working out the details of a tour in early November up the Pacific Coast.  This has been the time for lots of videos which has been exciting, we have a few live videos coming out soon and some artistic ones being planned with some really great directors.  We’ve also been working on new songs, which we’ll start playing in upcoming shows.

My Q&A With: Sweet Bump It


Less than a month ago Los Angeles based band Sweet Bump It released a music video for their new song “Dauphine”. A cameo from Mean Girls star Daniel Franzese in and of itself marks the video as noteworthy; the comical plot and mélange of grunge, funk, rock, and soul are a bonus. Paco, the lead singer of Sweet Bump It filled me in about the band, an ideal music festival lineup (featuring Prince, of course) and the band’s exciting plans for the future.

How would you describe Sweet Bump It?

Sweet Bump It is comprised of 7 band members- I play guitar and sing, Jenna Eyrich plays bass, Andrew Parker plays guitar, Jay Doo on drums, and Marlaine Reiner, Lisa Deines and Francesca Salac are our background vocalists- but beyond that, Sweet Bump It has built an amazing and solid community of people around us. It’s a giant group of friends that are literally trying to create good vibrations and simply have fun because life is fucking short.

How did the band come about?

Jenna and I (Paco) have known each other since the first day of high school – way back in ’99. We’ve been playing music together for the better half of 11 years now. So a big part of Sweet Bump It is the evolution of that friendship/musical relationship. In January of 2013, after Jenna and I had not been playing music together for a few years, she convinced me to get a group going again, so we rallied some troops and had a four-piece by February. Then by April 2013, we had recruited the divas as background singers and we were a septet. So in retrospect, it kind of seems like all of us were looking for something fresh and creative to pursuit in our lives and above all I think we all wanted to surround ourselves with a community of people who felt passionate about something and inspired, especially in LA, where it’s super hip to be apathetic about almost everything.

Where did the name come from?

We honestly don’t remember who came up with the name. Someone in the band mentioned it one day after rehearsal and we all felt equally entertained and perplexed by it so we decided it was perfect. But one thing we’ve noticed is that different people interpret our name in different ways. Watching people react to it helps us understand people right of the bat; it has definitely become somewhat of a litmus test.

How would you describe your sound?

Our sound is a lot of things you’ve already heard, but maybe not at the same time. Kind of like eating a donut with bacon on top for the first time. You’ve had a donut and you’ve had bacon, but maybe not at the same time. I think that’s what our sound is like. But it’s pretty straightforward, it’s rock & roll blended with funk & soul. The instruments and my vocals are very rock and blues driven and the background singers bring the funk and soul that helps smooth out the rough edges. It’s a party.

What would be your ideal lineup if you were scheduling a music festival?

I’d say Chopin would definitely headline the first night. And George Harrison’s hologram would show up for a cameo. Prince would play for hours on end and Gustvao Dudamel and John Williams would have a battle for sure.

What are the band’s plans for the future?

The future plans in order of priority are: to enjoy the moment as much as possible, keep working hard and creating stuff while we are young and able-bodied, and to continue to build our community. But more specifically, we are planning to release a collection of songs, sometimes referred to as a record, quite soon, so we’ll definitely keep everyone posted on that. And we are very, very lucky to have a lot of fun stuff in the works right now that we will announce soon as we can. 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to read about us. For more crap and non-sense related to Sweet Bump It, dial in it at Operators are standing by to track your every move on the internet.

My Q&A With: Haunted Summer


After only a few seconds on Haunted Summer’s Facebook page, many things begin to jump out. The bands interest’s- ‘Spreading darkness through light: To accept the light, you must acknowledge the darkness. Only then will you reach clarity.’ The band’s location- ‘The Woods.’ The band’s influences- ‘The Mystic Forest, Light & Darkness, FOG, Death, Life, Love.’

At first, the sayings and phrases that are uncharacteristic for a music page seem out of place. However, in listening to the music that inspired these sayings, everything seems to fall into place.  Bridgette and John, the founding members and married couple behind Haunted Summer have put their creatively brilliant minds together to produce a collection of fantastical and mysteriously eerie pop music. Their music has taken them all over the world as a supporting band to acts like Meiko and Laura Stevenson. Now veterans of iconic venues including The El Rey Theater, Amoeba Hollywood, The Troubadour, and The Casbah, Haunted Summer is setting out on a national headlining tour, continuing to ‘haunt’ and enchant the world with their music.

It is unique to hear a band describe their music as ‘eerie and spooky.’ How did this sound come about?

John: We take a different approach in our band.. we accept all inspiration of this world and beyond. We take a lot of visual aspects of the band from our dreams and nightmares that led us to each other throughout many life spans. We feel the listener receives this eerie, spooky aspect and realizes the beauty in the darkness as well.

What is it like create music together as a married couple?

Bridgette: We’re very lucky to be in this situation. Often times, touring can make or break a band and we never have to leave each other’s side for any of that. We support and inspire each other by working on something so wholeheartedly together. With the music it is very special, the sound we create together becomes one and lyrics can be like a secret language for us. Broad enough for others to relate, but personal references and secret messages of hope, humor, and understanding for each other is sprinkled throughout our music.  

The band has toured with several big name acts including Taken By Trees and Islands. What has been the most memorable moment thus far?

John: Taken by Trees was a amazing show at The Levitt Pavilion, and the Islands tour was more extensive and a lot of fun..but our favorite so far has been the dates we did with The Polyphonic Spree. We sound like broken records but Tim Delaughter and the whole band are seriously the nicest, most grounded musicians. It was like traveling with a big family who had nothing but love to share. Their live show is also very inspiring, I would put it next to how epic Flaming Lips, or Arcade Fire shows have been at times.

You’re heading out on a national headlining tour in a few days. What are you most looking forward to?

Bridgette: We’re all really looking forward to visiting places we’ve never been like Philly, Denver and NYC. I think we’re all still reeling on the fact that we will be recording a live album to be pressed to clear vinyl by the amazingly ambitious folks at Mace Mead Works in Walla Walla, WA. Haunted Summer comes alive!

Both Bridgette and John were in different bands prior to forming Haunted Summer. How did Haunted Summer originate?

John: In a nutshell, we got tired of playing meaningless music with former projects and found each other in the process. Bridgette and I were friends for 10 years prior to Haunted Summer. I got offered a slot for a covers show at The Echo and we did an all Animal Collective cover set on Halloween 2012 with a full band of friends, at the end Bridgette and I took the stage alone for 1 song and that is when the band was born. Hearing and seeing the crowds reaction to us was amazing, we immediately started recording, quit our old projects, and have been touring and making the music we have always wanted to make ever since. We know what mistakes not to make in this band, and I gotta say having a clear path has been very helpful. 

The band recently made their television debut on AXS Live. That must have been very exciting.  Describe that experience.

Bridgette: That really was a lot of fun, the whole crew was so sweet. We really loved challenging the cameramen to make us look a little weirder than the usual appearance. TV wants clean cut, but these guys were on their knees shooting us through lava lamps and plasma globes and loving it! We’ve been featured on TWC Socal Beat since then, and will be performing on Good Morning Northwest to promote our live album but something tells me there will be a sad shortage of plasma globes.