JOVM’s William Ruben Helms celebrates Black History Month — and pays homage to Erykah Badu.
Deriving their name from Erykah Badu‘s acclaimed and beloved album Mama’s Gun, the London-based soul outfit Mama’s Gun — currently, Andy Platts, Cameron Dawson, David Oliver, Terry Lewis and Chris Boot — formed back in 2008. And since their formation, they’ve released four full-length albums: 2009’s Routes to Riches, which broke big in Japan and eventually lead to the British band being the most played international artist on Japanese radio that year; 2011’s Life and Soul; 2014’s Cheap Hotel; and 2018’s Golden Days.
Adding to a growing profile, the London-based soul outfit have opened for Level 42, Beverley Knight, Ben l’Oncle Soul and Raphael Saadiq while developing a fanbase across Southeast Asia — in particular South Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore.
Mama’s Gun begins the new year with the “Party For One”/”Looking for Moses” double A-side single. Released this past Friday through the band’s Candelion Records with Secretly Group and Colemine Records serve as a bit of a teaser for the band’s forthcoming fifth album. “Party For One” is a slow-burning and strutting bit of 70s psych soul and neo-soul centered around the sort of low-slung and wobbling bass line that would make Bootsy Collins proud, a lush horn line, fluttering psychedelic effects and Andy Platts’ dreamy falsetto. “Party For One” points out a bitter irony that even loners and homebodies felt during pandemic-related lockdowns — sometimes, you just want to see and talk to another human adult.
“Lyrically ‘Party For One’ comes from me being a bit of a loner – I like my own company and space to create, think and reflect,” the band’s Andy Platts explains. “I was in my ideal world during the early stages of the pandemic, on my own and with no one around, but I was mourning the company of strangers. There is something in anonymous togetherness that is the stuff of life.”
“Looking For Moses” manages to continue a run of crafted and expansive, 70s inspired soul centered around Andy Platts’ easygoing Bill Withers-like delivery paired with a warm and lush arrangement of wah wah pedaled guitar, glistening and arpeggiated Rhodes, shimmering strings and soulful harmonizing. Much like its companion, “Looking For Moses” comes from a deeply personal, lived-in space –while actually paying homage to the legendary Withers.
“‘Looking For Moses’ was the track that kicked off the writing for our new album [to be announced shortly],” Platts says. “Everything was panic stations at the time, it was my daughter that inspired the first set up with the lyrics ‘her mama says she can’t go out, baby girl maybe one day you’ll understand, when all of this is in the past.’ I wanted to imbue it with a bit of hope too – it’s about leaning on your beliefs but more so it’s about standing united and staying the course, and the reality of simply getting by and getting through life.”
Marie Dahlstrom is an acclaimed Rosklide-born, London-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay whose work has been largely influenced by the R&B and soul she heard in her home as a child — in particular Edwyn Collins, Womack & Womack and Gloria Gaynor and the like were on regular rotation. As a teenager, Dahlstrom discovered Dwele, Dire Straits, Erykah Badu, Kirk Franklin and Fleetwood Mac.
The Roskilde-born, London-based JOVM mainstay first gained attention as a solo artist in her native Denmark, quickly becoming a three-time Scandinavian Soul Award winner. Since relocating to London, the Danish-born JOVM mainstay has become an international sensation, crafting a warm and ethereal sound with elements of jazz, classic soul and contemporary R&B.
Dahlstrom has been extremely busy: After successful collaborations with Tom Misch and Alfa Mist, the Roskilde-born, London-based JOVM mainstay released her highly-anticipated, critically applauded full-length debut Like Sand. Recorded in Los Angeles, Copenhagen, and London, the album features collaborations with James Vickery, Jeremy Passion, Elijah Fox, Beau Diako and a list of others. Dahlstrom also continued her ongoing work with the multi-national, all-female artist collective Her Songs — with the act releasing the Toronto Vol. 1 EP.
Capping off a prolific year, Dahlstom teamed up with London-based producer Dan Diggas and Canadian emcee Aligo on a collaborative EP together 4inaRow. Slated for a a Friday release through Dahlstrom’s JFH Records, 4inaRowwas conceived around a central idea — writing and recording four-track EP in just four nights. Essentially, the EP was essentially an experiment in writing, recording and producing purely on impulse.
Each of the EP’s four songs was recorded between 8:00pm and midnight during four nights in January 2020 — and each individual song has its own story to tell. Generally speaking the process was centered around Diggas providing beats and production while the Roskilde-born, London-based JOVM mainstay and Algo shared vocal duties. “Marie and I lived in the JFH flat for a little over a year and after a few months we figured out a way for us to really tap in and make music together.” Aligo says about the creative process behind the forthcoming EP. “We told ourselves every night for 4 straight days we are going to tackle a pack of beats that Dan made while he was on tour with Mahalia. Theme-wise there wasn’t a plan at first but we knew we wanted to explore different emotions and feelings with each night that passed. By the end we noticed the songs came together in a cohesive way that demonstrated a four stage cycle of love/relationships.”
Late last year, I wrote about 4inaRow‘s first single “Fall Down,” a slickly produced yet delicate mix of soulful, contemporary pop, Quiet Storm soul and hip-hop centered around twinkling keys, skittering beats and dueling verses between Dahlstrom and Aligo. The song manages to capture a relationship in a transitional period in which the couple’s resolve and desire to remain together is being tested — and from the perspective of both people involved. “”Fall Down’ is an ode to arguments that can be common at times, but left untreated could ruin a relationship,” Dahlstrom explained in press notes. “Like autumn, this song is a transition period to a colder and more challenging part of the year and symbolic of the changes that can occur when this happens in relationships: ‘consequences get the best of you.'”
The soon-to-be released EP’s second and latest single “Rising” is slow-burning and shimmering hybrid of Quiet Storm R&B, contemporary pop and hip-hop. Centered round wobbling synths, finger snaps, skittering trap-like beats, “Rising” evokes the swooning, butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling of a new love/new situationship. And at its core, the song is a powerful reminder that love — and the desire to be loved, are all too human.
“‘Rising’ to me feels like the song you hear at the end of a good movie. It tells the second chapter of a love story after the initial spark: Honeymoons and bright flames,” Aligo says in press notes. “An ode to people in love, the lyrics definitely put you in that feel good space and remind the people that might not be in love at the moment, that there is something for everyone out there. It’s about when the moment comes and the temperature rises.”
“Dan’s beat reminded me a bit of butterflies in the stomach when I’m love, and that’s what went on to inspire my lyrics for the track,” Dahlstrom added.
Marie Dahlstrom is an acclaimed Rosklide, Denmark-born, London-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay whose work has been largely influenced by the R&B and soul she heard in her home as a child — in particular Edwyn Collins, Womack & Womack and Gloria Gaynor were on regular rotation. As a teenager, Dahlstrom discovered Dwele, Dire Straits, Erykah Badu, Kirk Franklin and Fleetwood Mac.
The Roskilde-born, London-based JOVM mainstay first gained attention as a solo artist inn her native Denmark, quickly becoming a three-time Scandinavian Soul Award winner. Dahlstrom relocated to London, where she has become an international sensation while crafting a warm and ethereal sound that features elements of jazz, classic soul and contemporary R&B.
After successful collaborations with Tom Misch and Alfa Mist, Dahlstrom released her critically applauded full-length debut Like Sand, an effort that was recorded in Los Angeles, Copenhagen, and London and features collaborations with James Vickery, Jeremy Passion, Elijah Fox, Beau Diako and a list of others. Dahlstrom also released the Toronto Vol. 1 EPwith the multi-national, all-female artist collective Her Songs. Capping off a prolific year, Dahlstom teamed up with London-based producer Dan Diggas and Canadian emcee Aligo on a collaborative EP together 4inaRow.
Slated for a a January 15, 2021 release through Dahlstrom’s JFH Records, 4inaRow was conceived around a central idea — writing and recording four-track EP in just four nights, And as a result, the EP was essentially an experiment in writing, recording and producing purely on impulse. Each of the EP was recorded between 8:00pm and midnight during four nights in January 2020 — and each individual song has its own story to tell. Generally speaking the process was centered around Diggas providing beats and production while the Roskilde-born, London-based JOVM mainstay and Algo shared vocal duties.
“Marie and I lived in the JFH flat for a little over a year and after a few months we figured out a way for us to really tap in and make music together.” Align says about the creative process behind the forthcoming EP. “We told ourselves every night for 4 straight days we are going to tackle a pack of beats that Dan made while he was on tour with Mahalia. Theme-wise there wasn’t a plan at first but we knew we wanted to explore different emotions and feelings with each night that passed. By the end we noticed the songs came together in a cohesive way that demonstrated a four stage cycle of love/relationships.”
“Fall Down,” 4inaRow EP‘s first single is features a slickly produced yet delicate mix of soulful contemporary pop, Quiet Storm soul, and hip hop centered around twinkling keys, skittering beats and dueling verses between Dahlsrom and Aligo, who rhymes a verse and sings a dueling perspective verse with the JOVM mainstay. The song captures a relationship in an odd transitional period in which the couple’s resolve and desire to remain together is being tested.
“”Fall Down’ is an ode to arguments that can be common at times, but left untreated could ruin a relationship,” Dahlstrom explains. “Like autumn, this song is a transition period to a colder and more challenging part of the year and symbolic of the changes that can occur when this happens in relationships: ‘consequences get the best of you'”.
Since initially making a name for herself as the frontwoman of the equally acclaimed dance music/nu-disco outfit Escort, the New York-based singer/songwriter, bassist and producer and JOVM mainstay Adeline has developed a reputation as a solo artist of note, releasing her self-titled, full-length debut to critical praise from the likes of Vogue, NPR, Refinery 29, Rolling Stone, The Fader and many others.
The JOVM mainstay has opened for Anderson .Paak, Lee Fields, Chromeo, Big Freedia and Natalie Prass among a lengthening list of artists, which which has helped to further cement her reputation for dazzling audiences with her beauty, her captivating live show and energetic presence. Adding to a growing profile as a solo artist, the Parisian-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and bassist, has made appearances across the national festival circuit, including Afropunk, Funk on the Rocks and Winter Jazz Fest. She’s also a member of CeeLo Green’s touring band, making her — arguably — one of the hardest working women in New York’s music scene.
Officially dropping today, Intérimes EP, the highly-anticipated follow-up to her full-length debut features seven tracks that are a future-facing nod to old school soul, funk, R&B and neon that will include “Middle,” which she performed on CBS This Morning, the sultry Quiet Storm-like “Twilight,” the disco-tinged Jonathan Singletary co-written “After Midnight,” the and the EP’s latest single, is a slow-burning, neo-soul strut “Just Another Day.” Centered around a sinuous bass line, the JOVM’s sultry vocals, her unerring knack for an infectious hook and some twinkling Rhodes, the track recalls Erykah Badu — but as the JOVM mainstay explains in press notes “‘Just Another Day’ is about questioning your place in the world, not feeling accepted, pretending to be in someone else’s shoes, so I wanted to show characters that exude confidence and self-acceptance as a message of hope for the LGBTQ people out there who feel rejected and misunderstood.”
The recently released accompanying video features the JOVM in a couple of stylish outfits and a bikini on the beach, playing her bass and three of her dearest friends — Yussuf, Gitoo and Bambi. Each of the video’s subjects reveals a bit of their personality and humanity in a way that’s endearing: one of the men has kind eyes and a mischievous smile, another is fierce as fuck, the other serves up moves — hard. “The video features 3 beautiful friends of mine, Yussuf, Gitoo and Bambi. They are some of the people in my life who I look up to the most when it comes to confidence and style,” the JOVM mainstay explains.
With her recently released debut EP La fille aux cheveux coleur soleil, the emerging Lille, France-based singer/songwriter Julia quickly establishes her sound and approach — a slick synthesis of jazzy neo-soul, hop-hop inspired beats paired with the French singer/songwriter’s powerhouse vocals singing and rhyming lyrics in her native French and English. “I’m just trying to make you feel my feelings. The rest is all yours,” the Lille-based singer/songwriter says in press notes.
EP title track and opener “La fille aux cheveux coleur soleil” is a swaggering and slow-burning, neo-soul track with twinkling Rhodes, thumping beats, atmospheric electronics and Julia’s effortlessly soulful and sultry vocals. The EP’s second single “Hangover” is a hip-hop soul-like track featuring some more twinkling Rhodes, boom-bap beats, a sinuous bass line and Julia singing in a jazzy and seductive French. Seemingly inspired by Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and others, with a Quiet Storm vibey-ness, these two tracks — to my ears, at least — reveal a young superstar in the making. The EP’s two singles possess a remarkable self-assuredness and confidence with the material being ambitious, accessible — and centered around earnest, lived-in experience.
Her Songs · Lost a Little (feat. Dani Murcia, Emily C. Browning, Emmavie, Marie Dahlstrom & The Naked Eye)
During the course of this year, I’ve written a bit about Her Songs, a multi-national collective of women artists that features:
- Dani Murcia (vocals, piano, guitar, production), a Colombian-American, Miami-born, New York-based R&B/pop/soul singer/songwriter, whose lush harmonies and haunting melodies has been influenced by the likes of JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim, Kimbra and Matt Corby. Her latest EP Breaking Light consists of stories focusing on grieving her father’s suicide and searching for beauty in pain.
- Emily C. Browning (vocals, guitar), a Christchurch, New Zealand-based indie soul artist influenced by the likes of Emily King, Lianne La Havas and Nai Palm. Her work features conversational-style lyrics, that offer a deep perspective and insight into the human experience.
- Francesca Hole, a French-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, known as The Naked Eye (vocals, guitar). Influenced by Nai Palm, Lianne La Havas, Maya Angelou, Joni Mitchell, D’Angelo, Bruno Major and others, Hole’s work as she describes it, are autobiographical songs about life experiences, relationships and overcoming hardships that meshes elements of jazz, soul, folk and R&B. Her latest EP Love’s Grave was released last April.
- JOVM mainstay, Marie Dahlstrom (vocals, piano, percussion and production), a Rosklide, Denmark-born, London-based singer/songwriter, who has been largely influenced by the R&B and soul she heard in her home as a child — in particular Edwyn Collins, Womack & Womack and Gloria Gaynor were on regular rotation. Dahlstrom discovered Dwele, Dire Straits, Erykah Badu, Kirk Franklin and Fleetwood Mac in her teenage years.Dahlstrom first gained attention as a solo artist in her native Denmark, eventually becoming a three-time Scandinavian Soul Award winner. Since relocating to London, the Danish-born singer/songwriter she has become an internationally recognized sensation, best known for crafting a warm and ethereal synthesis of jazz, classic soul and R&B. Interestingly, after successful collaborations with Tom Misch and Alfa Mist, the Roskilde-born, London-based singer/songwriter has been busy writing the material, which would eventually comprised her long-awaited full-length debut. Slated for release latest this year, the album was recorded in Los Angeles, Copenhagen, and London and features collaborations with James Vickery, Jeremy Passion, Elijah Fox, Beau Diako and a list of others.
- Emmavie (vocals production), a London-based singer/songwriter and producer, whose work is an amalgamation of 90s R&B and her love for digital audio experimentation. She has built up a reputation for being a highly sought-after collaborator, working with IAMNOBODI, Buddy, ROMderful, Jarreau Vandal, Alfa Mist, Nick Grant and Jay Prince. Emmavie has had her work featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network-produced series Queen Sugar. And adding to a growing profile, the London-based singer/songwriter and producer was scouted by DJ Jazzy Jeff, who flew her out to his house in Delaware to write and record music with Mac Ayres, Robert Glasper and Redman as part of the Playlist Retreat.
The collective can trace their origins to a conversation the five women shared on social media. Their debut 2018’s Los Angeles EP found the quintet crafting material that meshed elements of 90s R&B with contemporary electronic production. The collective’s highly-anticipated sophomore EP Toronto, Vol 1. is slated for an August 14, 2020 release. And if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout this year, you may recall that I’ve written about Toronto Vol. 1‘s first two singles: the Emmavie and Marie Dahlstrom co-written “If We Try,” a sultry 90s neo-soul-like track that manages to sound like a synthesis of Teddy Riley-like New Jack Swing, SWV, and Erykah Badu-like neo soul — and “I Wonder,” an atmospheric and contemplative song in which the collective’s five women envision worrying about what the world would look for their future grandchildren.
“Lost A Little” the EP’s third and latest track is a soulful and uplifting R&B influenced bit of pop that is simultaneously nostalgic and hopeful for the future, as the song’s narrators reflect on their individual pasts while excitedly traveling around the world to reunite with their dear friends — in this case, the collective’s overall excitement to head to Toronto to write and record music together. The end result is an ode to wanderlust and the excitement of what you’ll learn about yourself in a new place, and of being able to experience that new place with your best pals. “After finally reuniting together in Toronto, we felt so reflective on the entire year since the previous Her Songs retreat in LA and ‘Lost A Little’ turned into a summery, feel-good wanderlust tune about traveling the world just to meet up again,” the collective’s Emily C. Browning says in press notes. The Naked Eye adds, “‘Lost A Little’ was the 1st song written on day 1 of the Toronto week. Exploring themes of creativity and travel, the lyrics describe how we meet once a year, in a new city to create with new eyes and fresh perspectives.”
Global Network is a rising Paris-based electronic act — comprised of Loris Sasso and Nils Peschanski — can trace their origins back to the Parisian suburb (la banileue in French) where they grew up. Away from the pressure cooker of Central Paris, bored kids can dream, experimental and develop their own forms of expression, and as a result some of Paris’ most vital and important art got its start there — in particular rap, and techno.
Initially knowing of each other through mutual school friends, the individual members of the duo began moving closer into each other’s orbits as they began to make their way in Paris’ music scene with different creative projects. But it wasn’t until their previous groups broke up that they began collaborating together. Turning back to the spontaneity and freedom that marked their formative years, the duo of Sasso and Peschanski got together in nighttime sessions in a bid to clear their heads and refocus their energy. In 2018, the duo started Global Network, a project that draws from their mutual love of Erykah Badu, Frank Ocean, Justin Timberlake, Jamie xx, and Radiohead — with an emphasis on sincerity, simplicity, love and moments of shared pleasure. “Global Network is the sum of all the experience we’ve accrued, of our failures and our successes,” the duo say in press notes.
The Parisian duo’s latest single is the slow-burning “Your Love.” Centered around atmospheric electronics, shimmering and squiggling synth arpeggios and Loris’ achingly vulnerable vocals, the track is Quiet Storm-like R&B with an enormous hook — and paired with a slick, hyper modern production, the track sonically brings JOVM mainstays Beacon and the Insecure soundtrack.
Directed by Anh Phim the recently released video features a mix of sensually shot live footage and 3D animation that’s visually trippy and mind-bending, as the video tells a tale of aliens, who fall in love in a completely different reality and dimension. “Anh Phi, the director, is a close friend of us. He decided to leave France and return to his motherland, in order to retrace and understand his Vietnamese origins,” the members of Global Network say in press notes. “Among the group of creatives Anh Phi had met was Wiiki a budding digital artist whose mesmerizing visuals we believed were a perfect fit with our sound. Thus the wheels were set in motion for this music video. One year down the line, after relentless hard work from Wiiki and Anh Phi, we are delighted to present the official music video for ‘Your Love.'”
“The visual for ‘Your Love’ is meant to tell the story of an alien love that emerges to consume one’s life,” Wiiki explains. “The story is about the extraterritorial girl finding her way to her destination (Loris). As she walks on, the world surrounds (Loris) start to subdue and gives way to her’ ways. It is a metaphor for how a person or an idea of a person and her “ways” of love can change everything that had come before. It’s about being consumed, diffused by love and to give up.”
A Q&A with Jennifer Silva
Jennifer Silva is a Boston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter. Influenced by Stevie Nicks, Aretha Franklin, Tori Amos, The Rolling Stones, Florence + The Machine and Alabama Shakes, the Boston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter has received attention for bringing a sensual and soulful energy to her live shows — and for lyrics that explore universal and very human paradoxes — particularly, the saint and sinner within all of us.
Silva’s debut EP was an EDM collaboration with DJ Sizigi-13 under the mononym Silva — but since the release of that effort, her material has leaned heavily towards singer/songwriter soul, rock and pop with 70s AM rock references, as you’ll hear on her most recent album, the Reed Black-produced Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth.
Silva’s latest single “I Wash My Hands” is a shimmering and gorgeous country soul/70s AM rock-like song centered around a fairly simple arrangement of guitar, bass, vocals and drums that’s sonically indebted to Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. Interestingly, the song was originally written as a weary lament over a major relationship that has come to an end – but the song manages takes on a heightened meaning, reflecting on a heightened sense of uncertainty and fear, suggesting that maybe Mother Earth is attempting to wash her hands of us.
The recently released video for “I Wash My Hands” was created during the mandatory social distancing and quarantines of the COVID-19 pandemic – and it features Silva, her friends, family, bandmembers and voice students, separated by quarantine but connecting through the song.
I recently exchanged emails with Jennifer Silva for this edition of JOVM’s ongoing Q&A series – and naturally, we chat about her new single and video, her influences –including her love of Stevie Nicks, and her songwriting process. Of course, with governments across the world closing bars, restaurants, nightclubs and music venues to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the impact on the music industry – particularly on small and mid-sized venues, and the touring, emerging and indie artists who grace their stages, has been devastating. Over the course of the pandemic, I’ll be talking to artists about how the pandemic has impacted them and their careers. And in this interview, Silva reveals that the much-anticipated follow-up to Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth has been rescheduled, with her and her backing band figuring out how to finish it with the use of technology. Then add lost gigs and the uncertainty of when you’ll be able to play or promote your new work, and it’s a particularly urgent and uneasy time. But the dedicated will find a way to keep on going on for as long as they can.
Check out the video and the Q&A below.
WRH: Much of the world has been in quarantine and adhering to social distancing guidelines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. How are you holding up? How are you spending your time? Are you binge watching anything?
Jennifer Silva: The world is upside down right now and it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for me. Shock, depression, anger, acceptance — feels like the stages of grief sometimes! I really miss my friends and my social life. Playing shows, my band. The good news though, is that my family and I are safe, healthy and well stocked. We left Brooklyn right before it got really bad and headed upstate. So, I’ve been in the woods, pretty secluded, with limited cable news (thankfully) and some great outdoorsy vibes all around me. I’m very lucky and I really can’t complain. I’ve been spending the time connecting with my family, homeschooling my daughters, cooking, knitting, reading and writing songs! We’ve been living a simple life these days and that’s actually a great thing sometimes. I just started watching Ozark on Netflix, finally, which is perfect for this quarantine! I’m always down for an epic drug/murder/survival story. Oh, and wine.
WRH: Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, festivals have been postponed or cancelled outright, artists of all stripes have postponed, rescheduled or cancelled tour dates. Most of the world has been on an indefinite pause. How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?
JS: This has got to be the hardest part of it all for me. I’ve also had to cancel shows, but, most significantly, literally one week before the pandemic really hit NYC, I was in the studio with my band and producer (Reed Black of Vinegar Hill Sound) tracking my next record. We spent two full days laying down all the music and scratch vocals for 10 tracks, and I was so hyped and excited for the next two months of recording all the overdubs, lead vocals, background vocals and getting that final mix completed. Now, we must wait. Luckily though, we have the rough mixes to listen to and some of my band members are working on and planning overdubs at home. It’s frustrating but I’m still so grateful to have had those days in the studio. What we have already, sounds amazing!
WRH: How did you get into music?
JS: I’ve been singing all my life. My father played guitar around the house throughout my childhood, and so at a young age I was singing classic rock and soul music to my family. “The House of the Rising Sun” (The Animals), “Bring it on Home to Me” (Sam Cooke) and “To Love Somebody” (Bee Gees) were my first covers!
I also went to Catholic school as a girl where the nuns always made me sing the solos at the Christmas and Easter performances. And of course, I was singing in Church every week. That really helped shaped me as a singer because I was taught to belt without shame because it was a “gift”, so I have always been a loud singer, haha. I’m not religious anymore (thankfully), but man, I love me some Church hymns! And there is nothing like the acoustics in a Cathedral.
WRH: Who are your influences?
JS: I have so many influences from so many different genres of music. The Animals, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Lionel Richie, David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke and all of Motown were early loves of mine.
Then I had a whole Neo Soul moment, falling in love with singers like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Jill Scott. They definitely influenced me with their powerful female energy and style and the vocal choices they made. I also love 80’s and 90’s female badasses, like Tori Amos, Bjork, PJ Harvey, Hole, Garbage, Madonna and Annie Lennox. Artists with true points of view and the guts to say it.
Singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Tracy Chapman, T. Bone Burnett, Dolly Parton, Rufus Wainwright and Joni Mitchell have helped shape my lyric writing and storytelling. I love Lana Del Rey as well.
WRH: Who are you listening to right now?
JS: There is so much amazing music out right now. The talent level in this industry can be intimidating actually! Right now, we’ve been listening to a lot of indie rock and singer-songwriters like Marlon Williams and Aldous Harding, Töth, The Dø, Future Islands, Julia Jacklin, Sun Kil Moon, and Heartless Bastards. And we are always playing The National and Arcade Fire. The Grateful Dead and Tom Waits are spun pretty regularly too around here. And of course, we’ve been listening to lots of John Prine since his recent passing from Covid-19. What a loss.
WRH: I’ve probably referenced Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” more times than any other journalist in town. I think of a certain synth sound – and that song comes to mind. Plus, I love that song.
I know that Stevie Nicks is a big influence on you. What’s your favorite all-time Stevie Nicks song?
JS: One thing I really love about Stevie, which I read in her biography a few years ago (by Zoe Howe), and that I can totally relate to, was that she didn’t have any formal musical education. She just had her gorgeous melodies and emotional lyrics and really, just a simple catalog of basic chords. Lindsey [Buckingham] would get frustrated with her because he’d have to finesse her songs so much to make them work. “Dreams,” for instance, only has 2 chords! But her songs were always their biggest hits. She tapped into an emotion and style and energy that people love and her voice is just absolutely unique and powerful. In a way, the reason she was so successful with her songwriting was because she wasn’t trapped in a musical box. She would write whatever she felt, and her uniqueness and melodies were memorable and beautiful. She inspires me so much! It’s nearly impossible to choose one favorite Stevie Nicks song, but I’ll go with “Edge of Seventeen.” A close second is probably “Landslide.”
WRH: Your first release was an EDM-like collaboration with DJ Sizigi-13. Since then your sound has gone through a dramatic change. How did that come about? How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with you and your sound?
JS: After my old band broke up in 2014, I was searching for new musical collaborations on Craigslist. I connected with Sizigi over email and we decided to make a song together. One song led to four, over the course of a few months. I knew going in, EDM wasn’t going to be my personal sound forever, but I was down for the challenge of writing to existing beats and learning to record all my vocals at home with GarageBand. I bought a microphone and set up a vocal booth in my closet with towels on the doors to pad the sound. I learned to edit. I love my lyrics and vocals on those songs, and I am very proud of the work I did. So, ultimately, I chose to have the record mastered and to release the 4 song EP independently. It was a stepping-stone for me.
The music I make now is all me though. I pen all of the lyrics and write the melodies on guitar, or sometimes I use my Omnichord (a vintage electronic harp/synthesizer from the 80s, which is AMAZING) and then my band brings it all to life! My sound can be described as indie rock soul. I love the Alabama Shakes so that’s a decent comparison, I hope. The lyrics are evocative and dramatic, and the music is organic rock, but I always sing with soul. I also love to explore the saint and the sinner in all of us and tap into themes from my Catholic upbringing — like with “The Convent” from my last record Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth and “Purgatory Road” which will be on my next record. I am inspired by elements of the occult (tarot cards, following your intuition, voodoo) and I use nature and other metaphors to write about complicated relationships.
WRH: Rockwood Music Hall celebrated their 15th anniversary earlier this year. Sadly, during this century, existing 15 years as a venue in New York time is like 149 years. Rockwood Music Hall invited an All-Star list of artists, who have cut their teeth playing the venue’s three stages to celebrate. The bill that month included JOVM mainstay Anna Rose, acts that I’ve covered like Eleanor Dubinsky, Christopher Paul Stelling, The Rad Trads, Mike Dillon, Melany Watson, as well as Jon Baptiste. How does it feel to be included with those acts?
JS: It feels amazing! I am so lucky to have played a small part in Rockwood’s incredible history. It was an absolute honor to play the stage that night, and to join that list of talented artists. Rockwood Music Hall was the first place I ever played in NYC. I remember getting an early Saturday afternoon acoustic slot with my old guitarist and playing to a mostly empty room. It was still so damn exciting to me, the opportunity to play that famous stage. Fast forward a few years later to my packed record release show on Stage 1 and then my graduation to Stage 2, last year. Rockwood has supported me since Day 1 and to help celebrate their anniversary, on the very stage where it all began for me, made me so proud!
WRH: Your Rockwood Music Hall set included a cover of one of my favorite Lead Belly songs ever “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” It’s one of those songs that for whatever reason doesn’t seem to be covered a whole lot. So, what drew you to the song? And how much does the blues influence you?
JS: I have been listening to Lead Belly for a very long time. I only knew his version of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” and never actually heard Nirvana’s version until many years later, which is what I think most people think of when they hear that song these days. I used to love singing that song in the car with my boyfriend. We each took a verse. It always seemed so chilling and powerful and it really tells a story that leaves you wanting more. You are right though, it’s not covered a whole lot and when we first tried in rehearsal, we knew it would kill. Everyone really responds to that one.
I generally gravitate toward big singers. Full voices filled with heartache and soul and you get that in spades with the Blues. The Blues are rooted in emotion and that kind of expression comes naturally for me. Lead Belly and Big Mama Thornton are definitely my favorite blues artists, but I also really dig Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Son House, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Bessie Smith. I love how Bonnie Raitt, Larkin Poe and Gary Clark, Jr. are keeping that tradition alive and having success with Modern Blues too.
WRH: How do you know when you have a finished song?
JS: I know a song is finished when I love the melody and lyrics enough to play it over and over again, day after day and when I can get lost developing the vocal runs. A good sign is when my family really responds to it as well. I also think nailing the bridge usually seals the deal for me. That’s when I write over my penciled lyrics and chords, in my black, Papermate flair pen and make it final!
I’m not a person who usually tinkers on a song for years though. I write most songs in a few hours, or a couple of days or maybe, up to a week. I like to capture the emotion of a sentiment and get most of it right and then move on to the next song. In all honesty, the best songs write themselves in 10 minutes! I actually wrote my new single “I Wash My Hands” quickly like that.
WRH: Your latest single “I Wash My Hands” and its accompanying video officially drops today. It’s a gorgeous country soul/70s AM rock song, a weary lament of someone who’s desperate to move on from a relationship or some other major life tie. You wouldn’t have known this at the time, but the song has an eerie double meaning that reflects our current moment of uncertainty and fear. Curiously, how does it feel to have written something that initially was supposed to be about something specific that suddenly transforms into something altogether different?
JS: Thanks. I think the lyrics are very relatable for anyone in a long-term relationship who understands that compromise and respect are needed for a couple to survive and more importantly, thrive. But in this unprecedented moment in our lives, that can also be said about humans and our planet. Fear of Covid-19 leaves us all washing our hands like never before, so now, this track also invokes Mother Nature’s demand for more respect. She is also washing her hands of our abuse, forcing us all to pause while she shows us just how powerful she is. It’s humbling.
WRH: The video for the song is pretty intimate almost home video-like visual, as it features a collection of loved ones, including family and friends lip synching along to the song – while they’re in quarantine. How did you come about the concept? And how did it feel to have your loved ones participate in the video?
JS: Last week, my brother Chris and I were talking on FaceTime, about the need for interconnectedness even while social distancing. We thought about how lonely people are, even though we are Zooming and chatting on the phone, more than ever.
We thought it would be really special if I could get some of my friends and family to lip-synch parts of this song and create a montage. Video production resources are limited here in quarantine, but everybody has a phone with a camera and time on their hands!
The video is like being on a Zoom call but this one makes me feel so happy every time I watch it! It’s all my favorite people singing my song. People in Brooklyn, California, Detroit, New Jersey, New England, and even as far as Kenya! Everyone just really came through and had fun with this project, including my voice students, family members and close friends. People I haven’t seen in two months or more! I don’t know when I’ll see them again frankly, but the video makes me feel connected to them and I think it makes them all feel connected to each other. I love it so much.
WRH: What’s next for you?
JS: While I’m quarantined, I’m going to keep making art. Keep writing music. Keep singing.
I’m also going to continue to work on my next album. Right now, the plan is to release it in the Fall, so I’ve got shows to book and all the pieces in between to plan. Follow me on Instagram (@sheissilva) for all updates, single and video releases and of course, details about the album release party and tour dates.
Please stay safe and healthy, everyone. I’m sending vibes to you all. We will get through this. And I think we will be stronger for it. And don’t forget to keep washing your hands!
Over the course of this site’s nearly ten year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, New York-based singer/songwriter, bassist, producer Adeline. Since leaving her post as frontwoman of the equally acclaimed electronic dance music/neo-disco JOVM mainstay outfit Escort, the New York-based singer/songwriter, bassist and producer released her self-titled, full-length debut to critical praise from the likes of Vogue, NPR, Refinery 29, Rolling Stone, The Fader and many others.
Building upon a rapidly growing profile as a solo artist, Adeline has opened for the likes of Anderson .Paak, Lee Fields, Chromeo, Big Freedia and Natalie Prass among others, further cementing her long-held reputation for dazzling audiences with her captivating live show and energetic presence. She’s also made appearances at a number of stops across the national festival circuit, including Afropunk, Funk on the Rocks and Winter Jazz Fest. Further proving to the world in general that she may arguably be one of the hardest working women in contemporary music, Adeline is also a member of CeeLo Green’s touring band.
Now, it’s been a while since I’ve personally written about the JOVM mainstay — but interestingly, she’ll be releasing the highly-anticipated follow up to her critically applauded debut, Intérimes EP. Slated for a June 12 release, the EP will feature the EP’s first single ‘Middle,” which she performed on CBS This Morning earlier this month, a funky psych soul cover of Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” and the EP’s latest single, the sultry, “Twilight.” Centered around shimmering synths, twinkling keys, a sinuous bass line and Adeline’s gorgeous pop superstar-like vocals, stuttering beats “Twilight” the track is indebted to Erykah Badu neo-soul and Quiet Storm soul. “Twilight is about a relationship that’s ending,” says Adeline. “It’s that particularly painful moment when you realize that it’s over. You have nothing left to give and there’s nothing left to say. The twilight is the period from dawn to sunrise or sunset to dusk. It’s the moment of realization that there is a transition coming. It’s saying goodbye to something while saying hello to the next.”
Directed by Adeline herself, and shot in a hazy, Super 8mm-like graininess, during the golden hour of twilight, the video features the JOVM in a number of different locations in New York, while capturing her with a brooding and seductive, movie star-like elegance.