Posts tagged freelance writer
Posts tagged freelance writer
This is Q&A I did with Joey Ryan of The Milk Carton Kids for Seattle Weekly’s music blog, “Reverb.” You can also read this post here.
The Milk Carton Kids’ Joey Ryan on Airport Gorillas and L.A. Traffic
By Azaria Podplesky
Though they only formed two years ago, Los Angeles-based folk duo The Milk Carton Kids have already made quite a name for themselves. They released their third album in March and are currently on tour, with more touring and festival appearances scheduled for the coming months. We chatted with Joey Ryan, one-half of TMCK, about traveling as a musician, performing on Conan and the bright side of criticism before the band plays the Tractor Tavern on Thursday, May 16.
I know you have a flight to catch so I’ll make this quick.
Oh, they’ll hold it. American Airlines is very accommodating. They’re so good about bringing guitars on board. One time I put my guitar in the cockpit.
Did they make you perform?
They threatened to, but they never cashed in.
Have you had any travel mishaps with instruments or equipment?
One time, we had a really tough road case with audio gear in it. It came down the carousel with the buckle ripped off … It looked like they had left it in a room with an angry gorilla. I don’t know how it’s humanly, physically possible to have done this kind of damage.
Where are you flying?
We’re playing Salt Lake City tonight. We had the weekend off. We try to take every third weekend off to remind ourselves that being at home is real life and tour is the anomaly. To get a couple of days, it makes a big difference.
Tell me about performing on Conan.
It was a real sense of accomplishment when that came through … I was so nervous that it was just a big blur [laughs] … Everyone was like, “Conan loved it. The audience loved it.” I was like, “Really?” I had no awareness of what was going on other than trying to get through the song.
I’ve always been intrigued by videos that show something that in real life takes [the length of the song]. This brainstorming session drifted to driving because driving around listening to music is such a big part of your life [in L.A.]. Kenneth said, “It should just be somebody driving, listening to the songs, doing whatever they would naturally do.” I thought it was brilliant because I had so many very powerful, emotional experiences … while listening to music, driving in the car.
People’s reactions to it are wildly different because it’s so devoid of any message that is very forthcoming. People have been putting their own meanings on it. To me, it functions like a blank canvas.
Another highlight is somebody said to us how disappointed they were in the videos. I was really thrilled to hear that. Obviously not that they were disappointed, but we had never had the experience before of being in a position to disappoint anybody, the idea that there were people out there that were awaiting our music videos with high hopes … It was a big responsibility, but also quite a flattering thing.
I’m glad you could flip that into something positive.
It means that they care so much as to be disappointed. I took it as a good sign. I wish their expectations would’ve been fulfilled, but it’s better than them just not caring.
This is the Q&A I did with Kate Nash for Seattle Weekly’s music blog, “Reverb.” You can also read this post here. Note: I added the italicized paragraph at the end myself.
Girl Talk with Kate Nash
By Azaria Podplesky
When we called British singer-songwriter Kate Nash, she was preparing for a flight to Argentina for a festival and club show. Before boarding, she talked about her latest album and keeping busy before she plays The Crocodile on Wednesday, May 15, as part of her Because I am a Girl tour.
What was the Girl Talk writing process like? It was quite like purging everything that I was going through. It was quite thoughtless, in a way, because it was very guttural and instinctual. I feel like I had so much experience playing live and thinking about music that I really know how to create the songs that I want to create now.
Do you usually write so thoughtlessly? It’s been totally different than how I’ve ever written, and I think it has to do with age and experience…I think when you go through a difficult time sometimes, you lose a lot of stuff and you have that nothing-to-lose attitude. Even though there’s all that pain and anger in it, I still think it’s a fun album.
You’re in a couple of upcoming movies ( Greetings From Tim Buckley , Powder Room ). How did those roles come about? I studied theater in college and always wanted to do it again. An acting manager in L.A. started representing me, and I auditioned and got the parts.
Was it difficult to step into each role? It was definitely scary, but that’s good because it keeps my creative brain fresh. I like having new things to dive into that I’m not sure about because I find it thrilling and inspiring.
A fan asked why it’s important for you to respond to fans on Twitter. I want to be approachable, and I love my fans so much because they really support and understand me. These people are the reason that I’m here and especially not having a record label to support me now…I want to make them feel as appreciated as I possibly can.
Is it intimidating to be an independent artist?I think intimidating is the wrong word; it can be difficult. A label is a cohesive machine, and I don’t have a cohesive machine. I have lots of little things going on, and I’m still trying to pull a string around everything. It’s liberating and empowering because I’m making it happen on my own terms. You have to go with the flow and see what happens. I think it’s going to be alright.
What does the rest of 2013 look like?I like to have a lot of different things to delve into, almost take on too much so I’m constantly busy. I don’t like relaxing; I’m not very good at it. I function better as a human when I’m busy, almost a bit stressed…
Any creative job is quite anxiety-inducing. You need to keep busy so you don’t worry about what you’re not doing. I find myself thinking forward quite a lot so having something to focus on each day is quite nice. It’s relaxing in some weird way. Even responding to fans, it’s like “I’ve achieved something today!”
Kate Nash created the Rock n Roll for Girls After-School Music Club, which encourages girls to express themselves through music and creative writing. She also works with Plan USA on their Protect a Girl campaign. To learn more about Protect a Girl, visit protectagirl.org.
I wrote these album reviews for Seattle Weekly last month. You can read these, and other, reviews on “Reverb” by clicking on the date before each group of reviews.
Antoine Martel, Coughdrops in Autumn (out now, self-released, antoinemartel.bandcamp.com): It’s hard to tell that singer/songwriter Martel had sinus issues before recording this album; throughout his voice maintains a strong, smooth tone that matches perfectly the breezy, acoustic backing band.
*Mikey and Matty, Harbor Island (out now, self-released, soundcloud.com/mikey-and-matty): The Gervais brothers (of piano-pop outfit Curtains for You) break out on their own with this collection of lush, homegrown indie-rock melodies, complete with improvised percussion from household objects. (Sat., May 4, Fremont Abbey)
*Dylan Jakobsen, Statelines EP (out now, self-released, dylanjakobsen.com): Even folks who listen to “anything but country” can get into Jakobsen’s brand of upbeat Americana on this four-track EP, especially the sing-along “na-na-na-na” chorus in “All Night Long.” (Tues., April 30, El Corazon)
Jeremy Serwer, Down With People (out now, self-released, jeremyserwer.bandcamp.com): Serwer touched up several previously released songs and added two new tunes, the title track and “Woodland Bark,” to round out a solid Americana/folk album. (Wed., May 8, Nectar Lounge)
Arrington de Dionyso’s Malaikat dan Singa, Open the Crown (out now, K Records, krecs.com): Hearing de Dionyso’s throat singing for the first time can be a bit jarring, but added to the yelps and chants over this trancy world music, the whole album starts to make sense.
Fox and the Law, Sleep With the Lights On (out now, self-released, foxandthelaw.bandcamp.com): Distorted vocals and big, bluesy riffs reign supreme on this three-song EP as garage-rockers FATL somehow make Sleep With the Lights On as energetic as their live show.
Magnetic Circus, “Evil” (out now, self-released, magneticcircus.bandcamp.com): If “Evil” is any indication of how Magnetic Circus’ soon-to-be-released EP will sound, then listeners can expect a ton of psychedelic guitar, thumping percussion, and plenty of melodic garage-rock vocals. (Sat., May 4, White Rabbit)
The Shivas, Whiteout (out now, K Records, krecs.com): The members of this Portland-based quartet are so spot-on with their pretty harmonies and undeniably catchy, psychedelic beats, you’d swear they still have their ticket stubs from Woodstock. In reality, these four can’t yet grab a beer after a show.
We just (as in two days ago) got a new music editor at Seattle Weekly, so this interview wasn’t posted on “Reverb” before Marina’s show last night. Marina was really sweet to answer my questions though so I didn’t want the interview to go to waste :)
Marina Diamandis On The End of Electra Heart and Her Pink Fluff Phase
By Azaria Podplesky
For the last year or so, Marina Diamandis has been sharing headspace with Electra Heart, the titular character from her sophomore album. Now that Electra Heart’s time, and the Lonely Hearts Club tour, is almost up, Diamandis is excited to take a break and get back to living life as Marina, 100 percent of the time. We interviewed the Welsh singer over email before Marina and the Diamonds takes the Showbox SoDo stage on Thursday.
SW: Electra Heart has been out for a year now. What’s been the most memorable moment of the last year?
Diamandis: Meeting Zac Efron. Ha! Actually probably my Lonely Hearts Club tour. It is so enjoyable. It’s the best time I’ve ever had on stage.
Did you write the album with the character of Electra Heart in mind?
I had the album title from the start. I think I’d written two to three songs when I’d been playing around with a pseudonym. It just felt perfect. The character itself developed a lot throughout the writing process though. I love villains, and the character went from being sad and lost at the start to vitriolic and villainous by the end of it.
Can you see yourself carrying Electra Heart into a future project?
No way. It is a one-era project. I will be extremely sad when it ends but also excited to move on and create another world to live my ideas out in.
Might you create a new character for a future project?
I doubt it. Not in the same way at least, in actually embodying that character in day-to-day life.
Who do you look to for fashion inspiration?
I look everywhere. Museums, magazines, film. Most is based on mood though. I went through a black and gold phase recently. Probably a knee-jerk reaction wearing pink fluff for 18 months.
How big of a role do your outfits play in your live show?
Oh, they set the scene. They are everything.
Would you ever consider working in the fashion industry in some capacity?
I feel like I already do. As in, it’s a part of my everyday life whether I like it or not! Because I need it! I design and commission all of my touring and promotional wardrobe already. Who knows if I ever will in a commercial capacity.
Is there a notable difference between American and European audiences?
Yes, but the demographic is very similar. Both audiences are uninhibited and brilliant.
What would you like an audience member to take away from a Marina and the Diamonds show?
Oh, I don’t know. I think making someone feel motivated and positive is a fantastic thing to do though, if one gets the opportunity.
This is the interview I did with Ryan Hahn of Local Natives for Seattle Weekly’s music blog, “Reverb.” You can also read this post here.
For Hummingbird, Local Natives Move Out of the Avocado Warehouse and Into the Garage
By Azaria Podplesky
When we called Local Natives’s Ryan Hahn, he was warning a bus mate about bumping their head because of their driver’s “crazy” mountain driving. Winding roads aside, Hahn told us all about Hummingbird before Local Natives plays two sold-out shows—tonight and Monday—at the Neptune.
SW: Hummingbird seems less urgent than Gorilla Manor. Was that intentional?
Hahn: Maybe not intentional, but it’s reflective of where we’re at musically. We’ve grown up a lot since writing that first record, and we wanted to push ourselves to do something different. We wanted to write songs that developed in different ways. They may take more time to settle in.
What different things did you try?
Taking different parts and changing instruments with them. There were guitar parts that were transformed into keyboard parts, a lot of different drum ideas…more electronics, more experimenting; trying out new instruments and new ways to arrange songs.
Can you see that “anything goes” style working again in the future?
Definitely. We always want to feel like we’re moving forward, doing new things and pushing ourselves as musicians.
Tell me about building your own rehearsal space.
We were looking for a place to rehearse, and in L.A., it’s difficult to find a big enough place where you won’t get in trouble for playing music. We serendipitously ran into this person that had a garage. We grabbed some power tools and cleaned the place. With our first record, we were in this old avocado warehouse and could play 24 hours a day. It was a very similar situation this time because we could make music at all times.
Did you often find yourselves writing at odd hours?
Definitely. You’d go in and work on something really late at night and then when the guys got there in the morning, we’d work on it some more. Having that ability to do that was really helpful.
How was living with producer (and Nationals primary/producer) Aaron Dessner?
We were excited to live together again. There’s something special about completely surrounding yourself with the recording process and being able to shout down the hallway when you have an idea. It was the perfect way to make a record.
No cabin fever?
At this point, we’re like family so we’ve gotten to the point where we can stand to be around each other [laughs].
What does the rest of 2013 hold for Local Natives?
We’re basically on tour until Christmas. Me and our bass player gave up our apartments. There’s no point in having a place because we’re gone so much.
What happens when you get back home?
I’ll hold off for as long as I can and become a couch surfer. My poor friends [laughs].
This is the Q&A I did with Casey Crescenzo of The Dear Hunter for Seattle Weekly’s music blog, “Reverb. We chatted about Migrant, working with Mike Watts and what makes him feel creative. You can also read this post here.
The Dear Hunter’s Casey Crescenzo: “Freedom Makes Me Creative”
By Azaria Podplesky
Casey Crescenzo, creative force behind indie rock band The Dear Hunter, says his latest album, Migrant, is about trying to break free from himself. It makes sense then that Migrant is Crescenzo’s first stand-alone full-length album, following the completion of The Color Spectrum, a nine-part series, and three parts of the Act series. Before The Dear Hunter playes El Corazon on Friday, we spoke to Crescenzo about Mike Watt, Migrant, and creative freedom.
SW: Tell me about the decision to release Migrant outside of the Act series.
Crescenzo: I’ve tried my best to use my passion as a natural compass. I felt a longing for something different, and it was obvious that Migrant was the record that needed to be made. Instead of forcing out another Act record, I followed what inspired me.
Were you apprehensive about releasing a stand-alone album?
I was always back and forth in my mind on what the reception might be, but internally there was never a question whether or not it was the right thing to do. As an individual, removing the product from the picture, this was important for me to do. It was what I needed mentally, physically, creatively.
Did the way you write and/or record change?
When I write an Act album, it’s structured from head to toe before the first note is recorded. There is very little wiggle room. It’s a score to a film in my head. With Migrant, I left the production for the production. I knew things needed to be natural and organic from the foundation so songs were written on piano and vocal in their entirety, then the instrumentation grew out of those songs like trees from seeds. That’s why there are so many minimal moments on the record. Allowing songs to evolve naturally meant that once they reached their sweet spot, there was no reason to force things to be any more grand or theatrical than they needed.
How was working with producer Mike Watts again?
Mike is one of the few people who I can see eye to eye with. Even when arguments over something seemingly insignificant…turn sour and aggressive, we know it’s about the song, not about us. To have such a loving understanding and respect for each other, that foundation is so important. The creative comfort I felt with us working side-by-side was paramount to the quality of the record.
Can you explain the album’s title?
Literally, it means a person who moves to find work. Our lives, our work, our chosen paths demand a specific lifestyle from us and keep us in a constant state of physical unrest. Because of this, I also find myself in a constant state of emotional and existential transience, and the word “Migrant” does a good job of conveying this attribute of my life.
I read a statement in which you said, “I haven’t been more happy or felt more creative in years.” What’s made you so happy and creative?
Freedom makes me creative, and creativity makes me happy. It’s all too vital. I’m too sensitive to create under the wrong circumstances. I freeze up. This time in my life I have felt a liberating sense of creativity, and that illuminates my entire being. I do my best to ride the wave from the moment the record is completed and hope that I find another swell by the time they give me a chance to create a new album.
This is the story I wrote for The Inlander about AWOLNATION to coincide with their upcoming performance in Spokane. You can also read this post here.
One Nation, Under AWOL
By Azaria Podplesky
Taking a break was not on singer Aaron Bruno’s mind when his band, Under the Influence of Giants, went on indefinite hiatus in 2008. Holing up in the spare bedroom in his mother’s house and, at their invitation, the Red Bull Records studio, Bruno set out to create a sound he could call his own.
“If people hated it, that’s great, and if people loved it, even better,” he says. “I had no expectations either way. I just wanted to see this vision through for once.”
That vision produced a five-song EP called Back From Earth, which Bruno released through Red Bull Records under the name AWOLNATION. Though the EP was well received, it wasn’t until he had a full body of work that Bruno thought about rounding up a few friends (including ex-Under the Influence of Giants guitarist Drew Stewart) and taking the show on the road.
The band’s debut album, 2011’s Megalithic Symphony, shows the lyrical and musical versatility of Bruno’s original vision.
“Some Sort of Creature” is a 27-second “journal entry” that Bruno recorded on his phone, a train-of-thought clip of him explaining a brief instance that, to this day, he has yet to fully understand.
Album closer “Knights of Shame,” on the other hand, is a 15-minute epic that blends a cappella, hip-hop, rock, and even ’80s pop. Bruno says he used this song to fulfill his dream of creating a long song that wasn’t boring or cluttered with guitar solos, and feels that “Knights of Shame” represents each element of the album, all on one track.
“I have yet to really meet someone that says they’re bored with the song,” he says. “If people listen to the song once all the way through ever, then I’ve done my job.”
Megalithic Symphony, especially the first single “Sail” (which Bruno calls a crazy accident), has opened a lot of doors for AWOLNATION. Their song “ThisKidsNotAlright” will be featured on the soundtrack for the Injustice: Gods Among Us videogame, and moviegoers will be able to hear the band’s “Some Kind of Joke” in Iron Man 3 next month.
Bruno, who calls Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s scoring of There Will Be Blood one of his favorite pieces of music from the past decade, says scoring a movie is a dream of his.
With all the opportunities they’re being presented, it’s hard to say exactly what the future holds for Bruno and AWOLNATION. But Bruno is sure that he’ll keep working on the band’s second album while they take on more projects that let them continue to grow.
“We’re just sort of riding the shit, if you will,” he says. “We’ll see where it takes us.”
AWOLNATION with Blondfire and Mother Mother • Mon, April 15, at 7:30 pm • Knitting Factory • 919 W. Sprague Ave. • $20 • All-ages • ticketweb.com • 244-3279
This is the Q&A I did with John Wicks of Fitz and The Tantrums for Seattle Weekly’s music blog, “Reverb.” I’ll post the online link to this Q&A soon.
Fitz and The Tantrums Shake Things Up On More Than Just A Dream
By Azaria Podplesky
Drummer John Wicks is a proud Seattleite. After recalling a time when bands from Los Angeles were not often well-received in Seattle, he is honored by the love his band, Fitz and The Tantrums, receives whenever they’re in town.
When we talked with Wicks, he had just finished a run around Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. We chatted with him about this hobby, the band’s second album and what dancing at The Re-Bar taught him about drumming before Fitz and The Tantrums plays the Columbia City Theater tonight.
When did you get into running?
I was into running when I lived in Seattle but then my wife and I moved to L.A. for eight-and-a-half years. In the hustle and bustle of trying to make a living as a studio musician, I didn’t concentrate on running. I have 4-year-old twin girls and when they came along, suddenly my priorities changed. I realized I need to improve my diet and get in better shape because I’m not getting any younger, and I want to be around for my girls as long as I can. When Fitz and The Tantrums started to take off, my wife and I decided to move to Montana…In Missoula, there’s such a big mountain running, trail running community. I just started to get addicted to it…Now, when I’m on the road, running gives me a little more intimacy with every city.
I was going to ask if it’s difficult to find time to run while on tour but you seem to manage just fine.
It is difficult. I’m the only runner in the band so I get up as soon as I feel the bus stop when we get to a town, sometimes it’s 4:30, 5 a.m., and try to get as much mileage in as I can before we have to do a radio promo or load into the club.
Do you listen to any music while you run?
I don’t just because I’m around it so much all the other hours of the day. I give my ears a rest when I’m out, listen to the sound of my footsteps.
You all are set to release More Than Just A Dream next month. How did the writing and recording process for this album differ from that of Pickin’ Up the Pieces?
It differed a lot. The first record was very much Fitz’s baby. A lot of the songs were written prior to us meeting Fitz and he had already set the compass, musically, the way it was going to go…but this record is much more collaborative. We originally thought this record was going to be out last October so we were really pressed for time…We all went to our respective home studios and wrote. We developed [each song] in the studio but it was first time that we’ve really worked collaboratively.
Based on the first two releases, “Out of My League” and “Spark,” there seems to be a conscious effort to not be pigeon-holed as a “retro soul” band. Would you agree?
Absolutely. That was at the forefront of our brains [laughs]. Our main goal was leave no options unavailable. This record is a completely different thing because all of us have different influences…but there were no pushbacks. If there were, that’s where our producer really helped and Tony Hoffer was an amazing producer to have. People will assume this record stills sounds like Motown in the ‘60s…The songwriting is still there; sonically, things have changed a little bit.
The one thing that was clear is that we wanted to make a danceable record. Growing up in Seattle, I spent most of my young adult life at The Re-Bar dancing and at all the gay dance clubs on Capitol Hill. That’s where I learned what’s required of me as a drummer and how to make people dance. I used to go see MC Queen Lucky on Wednesday nights just to listen to her spin records because I danced my ass off there…Fitz and I were both like “That’s the record we want to make.” We want to make it be a party record because we have the most fun playing live when people are just freaking out.
This is the longer version of the Q&A I did with Bryce Avary for Seattle Weekly’s music blog, “Reverb.” You can read the shorter post here.
The Rocket Summer’s Bryce Avary on Double Dare and How Getting Knocked Out Turned Him Toward Music
By Azaria Podplesky
Once this tour, his third headlining run behind Life Will Write The Words, ends, The Rocket Summer’s Bryce Avary is planning to dive into his next record, something he feels needs to be really special. En route to Denver, Avary chatted with us about Double Dare, a game show for kids which aired on Nickelodeon, growing up in Texas and his goal for this tour before The Rocket Summer plays El Corazon tomorrow.
I have to ask about a photo you posted on your website. Were you on Double Dare?
Yeah, I was. I was eight or nine, and I was in Orlando with my family. This lady was like “We’re taking auditions for Double Dare.” Me and my brother, that was our life. She said “Make up a song,” so I wrote a rap about how my family was as cool as ice, and I did the splits. They were like “Wow, we’re definitely putting this guy on the show,” [laughs].
We won, but we didn’t answer a single question right. It’s the most screwed up thing. We kept getting the physical challenges and we would win those. Unfortunately, I think it’s somewhere online. It gives our fans something else they can make fun of me for.
A fan suggested I ask you about the Bombardment Society.
Man, going way back! In Rushmore, there’s a moment where Max, Jason Schwartzman, talks about starting a dodge ball club called The Bombardment Society. Me and a couple friends in high school were like “Let’s start a team.” We had 300 people and it became a big deal. We ended up making T-shirts and we gave some to Phantom Planet because Jason Schwartzman was in Phantom Planet. When Jason Schwartzman was on David Letterman, he showed this picture he took of himself wearing the Bombardment Society shirt. We felt invincible. We were like, “We really are those nerdy kids, just like the movie. The cheerleaders want to date us now. What’s going on?”
Did you play any sports growing up?
Being a little boy in Texas, all I did was sports. My dad says that God has a sense of humor because I’m his kid because I ended up being this weird, hippie musician. I love my dad but we’re different. You’re supposed to play baseball, football, soccer; I sucked at all of it. I was really into martial arts actually. I ended up getting my black belt when I was 12. I got knocked out pretty bad at one fight, and I was over it at that moment [laughs]. I went home and picked up a guitar.
Do you find the label “uplifting power pop” limiting?
Yeah, I find any label limiting. It’s catching up with me, the more music I write and the older I get. I’m really blessed to have been touring and putting out records for 10 years but as an artist, you grow and your tastes change. I think it’s that a majority of my singles have been some of the poppy, happier songs. If you just know the band on a peripheral level, you might think that it’s this power pop thing but it’s definitely not…
This may sound super sappy, but I put every bit of me into it. I think our fans really understand it. It’s still, most of the time, hundreds of people singing every word, and it’s just mind-blowing. At the end of the day, I don’t want to take any credit for that. I think music is a really spiritual thing, and I think it’s one of God’s greatest creations. I believe that anything good that’s happened through my music is really just God being in it and working through it.
You wrote “Escape and discovery is the goal” for this tour on Facebook. Can you explain that?
We all have issues and life can get really tough. Music is powerful and each night on this tour, I want people to leave having the sense that they escaped for a minute but also discovery because one of my favorite quotes is “Discovery is not seeking new landscapes, it’s seeing with brand new eyes.” And the goal is to see with brand new eyes, to see yourself the way you’re supposed so see yourself…Building that up makes it sound like there’s some preachy moment, which there’s not. It’s just this overwhelming sense of life at the shows.
Here’s the Q&A I did with How To Dress Well for Seattle Weekly’s music blog, “Reverb.” You can also read this Q&A here.
How To Dress Well: “It’s All About The Emotional Impact Of The Songs”
By Azaria Podplesky
Tom Krell, the mastermind behind experimental/soulful pop project How To Dress Well, says he’s the kind of person who doesn’t do anything unless he has too much to do. Given his current tour with Sky Ferreira, his plans to record his third album later this year and a 300-page dissertation looming in the future, his plate is looking plenty full.
While at a sandwich shop in Minneapolis, Krell talked with us about playing in front of friends, his second album, Total Loss, and his thoughts on being labeled an R&B artist before How To Dress Well hits Barboza on Saturday.
What’s your first major musical memory?
When I was a little boy, my mom always used to sing “Ooh Baby Baby” by Smokey Robinson. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how that sounded.
Do you think that influenced the music you make today?
Definitely. She really loves soulful and sad music so that always influenced what I was listening to from birth onward.
Do you think people using “R&B” as an umbrella term to describe your music limits you or stops people from listening to your music?
Not really. It brings people to the project, if anything. People who otherwise wouldn’t listen to weird, ambient sounds can connect immediately with my voice … To me, it’s much more of a whole art project. If I start out saying “It’s a whole art project,” I’m not going to attract a lot of people. Usually genre things are meaningless but also helpful in bringing people into the work.
I think there’s something for everyone on Total Loss .
Uh huh. But at the end of the day, it’s all about the emotional impact of the songs. The different songs move people in different ways but when you’re moved by the record, that’s all that matters.
Where does the emotional intensity on Total Loss come from?
This is something I’ve thought about a lot. It comes from my constitution. I think I have a capacity for that, which is both a blessing and a curse, but I really like when I’m able to share that with people.
How is it a blessing and a curse?
Because of some circumstances growing up and the way my life has played out, I’ve got some things that are really hard to deal with and that I’ve had to really grow a lot. I think I was forced to mature emotionally at too young of an age and ended up becoming a pretty emotionally-focused person from the age of 4 on, which is weird. Some people are equipped to do things like social work, and I think of myself as having that spiritual equipment.
Would you say that, overall, Total Loss is autobiographical or more about general experiences we all might have?
It’s more about the human experience than autobiography.
Did you write the album with that idea in mind?
No, for me, the songs are autobiographical but when somebody else is impacted by it, it’s usually because of some facet of their own autobiography that they connect with it … It’s not personal like singer-songwriter music where I’m like [sings] “Today I went to the grocery store, and I thought about Sarah.” It’s autobiographical in a much more trans-personal, human condition kind of vibe.