Tag: Fleetwood Mac

Los Angeles– based duo Complicated Animals— singer/songwriter Monica da Silva and multi-instrumentalist Chad Alger — specializes in what the duo have coined Indie Nova, a mesh of Indie Pop and Bossa nova. Complicated Animals can trace their origins back to 2008: the then-Chicago-based da Silva, who had been wanting to steer her music back to her Brazilian roots had stumbled across Alger’s Craiglist ad seeking someone to start a Brazilian music project with. The duo met during the winter and they survived the cold Chicagoland winter by drinking red wine and black coffee — and at some point, during that haze, Alger picked up a guitar and da Silva made up some lyrics. And the songs they began crafting transported them to the beaches of Brazil.

The duo collaborated on da Silva’s solo album 2010’s Bruce Driscoll-produced Brasilissima, which featured songs written and sung in English and Portuguese. Brasilissima‘s first single “Aí Então”, caught the attention of the blogosphere and Cumbacha Records‘ Jacob Edgar, who featured the track on Putunayo World Music‘s Brazilian Beat compilation. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the duo’s psychedelic “That’s Not The Way” pump dup crowds during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Written and recorded in a cabin in the Michigan woods, the duo’s Complicated Animals 2015 debut, the six song In This Game EP was released to critical praise by PopMatters, who called the effort “a 6 song masterpiece” and the “beginning of a new sound.” Since then da Silva released the haunting and cinematic “Soldado de Amor,” which was featured on the BBC TV dramatic series The Replacement . Last year, In This Game single “Phoenix” was featured in the Netflix’s Last Summer.

Complicated Animals’ latest single find the duo tackling one of my favorite Foo Fighter songs, and arguably one of their biggest hits “Times Like These.” Famously, Foo Fighters released an acoustic version of “Times Like These,” in which Dave Grohl accompanied himself on guitar and piano — and while leaning much closer to the acoustic version, the Complicated Animals cover is a breezier, folkier, Fleetwood Mac-like take on the song. In my book, “Times Like These” is the rare Foo Fighter song that works as an arena rock anthem and as an intimate singer/songwriter ballad, which is a testament to how well written the song is.

As da Silva and Alger explain, they gravitated toward the track, because the lyrics are in line with the events of this past year. “This year sure has been crazy. We’ve all had to slow down, and focus on familial relationships, and close friendships. We believe that these challenging times, are the times that shape us,” the Los Angeles based duo explain. “The most important thing we can do right now, is just be there for each other. We hope to inspire people with some positivity. The world needs more of that. We’re collaborating with a talented Brazilian artist named Karla Caprali. She has created the song art, and is working on a powerful visual (animated video) to go with the track. We’re staying hopeful for the future. As Oscar Wilde said, ‘Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.’”

New Video: Rising Pop Artist Elizabeth Releases an Atmospheric Cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way”

Beginning her musical career as the frontperson and primary songwriter of acclaimed Melbourne, Australia-based pop act Totally Mild, an act that recorded two critically applauded album before splitting up, Elizabeth Mitchell has stepped out into the limelight as rising solo artist, writing and performing under the mononym Elizabeth.

By going solo, the rising Aussie pop singer/songwriter has been able to reimagine and reinvent herself — and with the release of her full-length debut, last year’s the wonderful world of nature, Elizabeth transformed herself into a sort of patron saint of anguish, heartbreak and woe, all of which have allowed her to develop a completely unique sound apart from her previously known work. imbued with desire, lust, shame, guilt, uncertainty and a glamorous debauchery.

The Melbourne-based pop artist will be releasing a deluxe edition of the wonderful world of nature on October 23, 2020 through AntiFragile Records — and the deluxe edition will feature a handful of new material, including her latest single, a slow-burning and atmospheric cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.” Centered around twinkling piano and the rising Aussie pop artist’s tender vocals, Elizabeth’s version strips everything away to the bone, revealing the bitter heartache at the core of the song.

Directed by Elizabeth and Xanthe Dobbie, the recently released video is a hazy and intimate visual that follows a brooding Elizabeth, on the verge of tears.

New Video: Acclaimed Indie Act HAERTS Release a Dazzling Visual for Soaring “For the Sky”

Tracing their origins back to a budding high school romance in Munich, the acclaimed indie pop act HAERTS has evolved as its founding duo — Nini Fabi (vocals) and Benny Gebert (keys, guitar) — have evolved: the duo met their bandmates in Boston, while studying at Berklee College of Music with the the band relocating to Brooklyn, where they quickly built up a profile and released their major label, self-titled debut. And after a number of lineup changes in which the band’s founding duo has remained, Fabi and Gebert relocated to the woods of Upstate New York, where they worked on and released their sophomore album, 2018’s New Compassion.

Since the release of New Compassion, Fabi and Gebert have embraced their early international roots by splitting their time between Berlin and New York — and during that same period, they have been fueled by a renewed spirit of collaboration with musicians and visual artists they’ve long admired including Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste and Julian Klincewicz, who they worked with on POWER/LAND.

“For the Sky,” the duo’s first bit of new material. this year, is centered around Fabi’s ethereal vocals, shimmering guitars, persistent drumming and a soaring hook. And while featuring a guest spot from Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste, “For the Sky” continues an incredible run of carefully crafted pop tunes that reference Fleetwood Mac paired with earnest, lived-in songwriting. “‘For the Sky’ came from a dream I had when I first found out that I was pregnant, which was the catalyst and beginning of writing the new music,” HAERTS explain in press notes. “When we finished the demo for the song I kept hearing Ed’s voice and just thought he would sound amazing on it. We didn’t know him at the time, but were such fans. When we reached out we honestly thought we’d never hear from him. But we did and we went into the studio in LA, and ended up recording it just singing together in a room. Now that feels like such a nostalgic notion. But even then it was special. It was that feeling you get when you sing with somebody and something just clicks. And it’s especially crazy when you sing with a vocal force as Ed. I wish everybody could sing together more and feel that.”

Directed by their longtime visual collaborator Julian Klincewicz, the recently released video for “For the Sky” features a very pregnant and stunningly beautiful Nini Fabi dancing and singing along to the song. Indirectly, the visual points to the delicate balance between life and death; the resilience, strength, love and joy of motherhood; and the blessed miracle of healthy new life — especially in light of a global pandemic. “A few months later, we decided that we wanted to do a music video a week before i ended up giving birth,'” HAERTS says. “So it all came full circle when Julian came to NY and filmed me dancing at 9 months pregnant.”

“I think my process on this video was kind of about pushing through to the next chapter in our collaborative visual language,” Julian Klincewicz says of the video’s creative process. “I think If you look back at POWER/LAND, there’s a sort of directness or rawness in the humanity of it. And then if we look at YOUR LOVE – that rawness sort of transitions into a spiritual softness. I think right now is such a confrontational time – that to deal with some of those same themes it needs to have a bit more of a confrontational visual language… with the harsher more vibrant colors… its shifting from a kind of spiritual language, almost more into just a more energetic language. I think for me that’s the best word to describe it – the video is very much about an energy, a visual translation of the energy of the song. I was also thinking a lot about this idea of a coloring book – creating images that almost felt drawn, or like tracings of drawings. I think we started touching on that with the last album, but i wanted to push that a little further along. The raw footage we started off with was so clean and beautiful untouched, but i also had this urge to see how that footage could be pushed until it becomes something else entirely – until it could almost become its opposite kind of beauty – indirect, abstract, less literal. taking the spirit of it, but translating it into just the energy version of it.“

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.”

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Ten Fe Release a Spectral Cover of Mark Ronson’s and Miley Cyrus’ “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart”

Over the past few years, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the  London-based JOVM mainstays Ten Fe. Founded by primary songwriters Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan, the band expanded into a full-fledged band with the permanent additions of longtime friends and touring members Rob Shipley (bass) and Johnny Drain (keys), who Duncan knows from their days in Walsall, and Alex Hammond (drums), who sat in with the band for the recording of their sophomore album Future Perfect, Present Tense. 

Thematically,  Future Perfect, Present Tense was a mediation on everything that has brought the members of the band to the writing and recording of their sophomore album — and everything that they’ve willingly (and in some cases perhaps, unwillingly) left behind to get there. Sonically, the album is a decided sonic departure from its predecessor with the material seemingly drawing from Fleetwood Mac and others, while retaining an uncanny ability to craft slick and rousingly anthemic hooks.

Recently, the JOVM mainstays have released a couple of covers — including their latest single, a cover of Mark Ronson’s and Miley Cyrus’ “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” that finds the band turning the country-tinged dance floor anthem into a spectral and pastoral, folk meditation that brings Nick Drake and Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra to mind. By stripping away the electronics, the British JOVM mainstays pull out the vulnerability, heartache and intimacy of the original out into the forefront while simultaneously revealing that the song is startlingly well-written.   

“I’ve always thought the song was really beautiful, and heard the intimacy and vulnerability in it,” the band’s Leo Duncan says in press notes,  “so we wanted to try and bring that out in our version, through the ghostly vocal arrangements and sparse instrumentation; we were trying to make it sound as if we recorded it in the middle of the desert. It’s such a good song, rearranging felt really natural.”

Directed, edited and produced by Niall Trask, the cinematically shot accompanying video for “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” is set in a set in an extremely English pastoral scene that manages to also hint at the American Wild West. “We wanted it it be evocative of the Wild West, as the music paints that picture; but also make it very English and pastoral – particularly, Cromwellian, when England seemed wild and lawless,” Leo Duncan explains in press notes. ‘. I did a rough storyboard, and Niall Trask was the perfect person to direct it as he’s really into that period of history, and we’ve often talked together about films set then such as Witchfinder General, A Field In England, etc. I really like the idea of delivering your heart to someone; I think everyone does this, symbolically, all the time – so it was wicked to try and show that literally in the video. I’m really happy how it came out!”

New Video: DG Solaris’ Much-Needed Blast of Playful Optimism

Danny Green is a London-based singer/songwriter, best known for his time fronting British folk pop act Laish. With Laish, Green released four critically applauded albums through French indie label Tailres, which he and his bandmates supported with extensive touring across the UK, the European Union and the States. 

Last March Green’s life changed — he met his soon-to-be wife Leanna “LG” Green. And by December, the pair married. For their honeymoon, the Greens decided to spend six months traveling across South America with a simple recording set up that they carried with them in a backpack. And that’s how their newest project together DG Solaris began.  “In between swimming with sea-lions, exploring sacred plant medicines and climbing mountains, we had been searching for beautiful spaces to set up our backpack studio,” DG Solaris’ core duo explain in press notes. “All of our recordings feature the sounds of birds, cicadas and crickets.”

Returning to London after their honeymoon, the duo recruited Tom Chadd, Matt Canty and Matt Hardy to help flesh out the material they wrote and demoed during their trip across South America. And the end result is the act’s forthcoming full-length debut, Spirit Glow which is slated for a June 19, 2020. Reportedly, the album is a focused development to Green’s songwriting with the material drawing from and meshing elements of 70s psych pop, synth pop, krautrock and prog in a unique fashion. Ultimately, the album’s material was written as a textural journey through different emotional realms. “We wanted to explore the idea of two voices, two spirits, two creative minds and see where this dynamic could take us,” DG Solaris’ Leana Green says in press notes. Danny Green adds, “It has been an incredibly inspiring trip. We came back with over forty songs and it has been a challenge to chose our favourites for this first album.”

Back in March, I wrote about the woozy album single “Brother, I’ll Ask Her.” Centered enormous and an expansive song structure  featuring a pastoral and slow-burning introduction, a lurching Fleetwood Mac and Nick Drake-like middle section and a krautrock-like coda with fluttering flute and synth arpeggios,  the track is a hallucinogenic fever dream that’s inspired by deeply personal experience: a painful shamanic experience they had in the Peruvian jungle. Interestingly, “Don’t Need to Tell You” is a decidedly upbeat song centered around a lushly textured arrangement of LG’s gorgeous and expressive vocals, shimmering acoustic guitar, atmospheric synths and flute, an infectious hook led by boy-girl harmonies, a supple bass line and propulsive drumming. And while clearly indebted to 70s psych folk and 60s bubble gum pop, the breezy pop confection accurately captures and evokes the giddy joy of new love. “We wanted to release something unflinchingly positive and happy during this difficult time. The song is an expression of unquestioning love for someone,” the Greens say. 

The recently released video for “Don’t Need to Tell You” is split between live footage of the band performing in little clubs, and footage of the adorably in love couple in South London’s Ruskin Park on a glorious day goofing off and enjoying each other. While playful, the video should be a reminder that when things are at their most difficult and their most bleak that we should lean on those we love. 

A Q&A with Jennifer Silva

Jennifer Silva is a Boston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter. Influenced by Stevie NicksAretha FranklinTori AmosThe Rolling StonesFlorence + 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.

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Photo Credit: Paxton Connors

Jennifer Silva_IWMH

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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.

I love Blues and Jazz greats like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Etta James, Ray Charles, Lead Belly. Their emotional rawness and vocal prowess has always been a guide.

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.

Vocalists like Amy Winehouse, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, Stevie Nicks and of course, Aretha Franklin will always be the pinnacle of greatness for me. These artists INSPIRE me.

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!

 

Danny Green is a London-based singer/songwriter, best known for his time fronting British folk pop act Laish — and with Laish, Green released four critically applauded albums through French indie label Tailres and toured extensively across the UK, the European Union and the States to support each of those albums.

Green’s life changed when he met his soon-to-be wife Leanna “LG” Green last March. By December, Green and LG were married. For their honeymoon, they decided to spend six months traveling across South America with a simple recording set up that they carried in a backpack. And that’s how their newest project DG Solaris began.  “In between swimming with sea-lions, exploring sacred plant medicines and climbing mountains, we have been searching for beautiful spaces to set up our backpack studio,” DG Solaris’ core duo explain in press notes. “All of our recordings feature the sounds of birds, cicadas and crickets.”

Returning to London after their honeymoon, the duo recruited Tom Chadd, Matt Canty and Matt Hardy to help flesh out the material they wrote and demoed during their trip across South America. The end result is the act’s forthcoming full-length debut Spirit Glow, which is slated for release in May. The album reportedly sees a more focused development to Green’s songwriting with the material mixing elements of 70s psych pop, synth pop, krautrock and prog in a unique fashion: the material is essentially a textural journey through different emotional realms. “We wanted to explore the idea of two voices, two spirits, two creative minds and see where this dynamic could take us,” DG Solaris’ Leana Green says in press notes. Danny Green adds, “It has been an incredibly inspiring trip. We came back with over forty songs and it has been a challenge to chose our favourites for this first album.”

Spirit Glow‘s latest single is the woozy and lurching “Brother I’ll Ask Her.” Centered around an expansive and mind-bending song structure — a pastoral and slow-burning introduction, a middle section that sounds like a synthesis of Fleetwood Mac and Nick Drake before ending with a krautrock-like coda with a motorik groove with flittering flute and arpeggios synths, the track is a hallucinogenic fever dream that draws from deeply personal experience: a painful shamanic experience in the Peruvian jungle. But what holds the whole thing together is the Greens’ unerring ability to craft an enormous and infectious hook.

 

 

 

Smokey Brights in a Seattle-based indie rock band fronted by husband and wife duo Kim West (keys, vocals) and Ryan Devlin (guitar, vocals) and featuring Luke Logan (bass) and Nick Krivchenia (drums). Interestingly, West a barred attorney and Devlin, who has a background in booking, publishing and the punk rock scene met working at a pizzeria during the summers while they were both in college. Much of their material draws from the duo’s transition from friends to life partners, touring in a van across the Pacific Northwest and being in love in an uncertain and uneasy world.

Developing a reputation for explosive live shows centered round warm, harmony rich, arena rock-inspired anthems, the Seattle-based indie act have earned themselves a devoted fanbase across the US, the UK and the European Union. And building upon a growing profile, the band has played sets at SXSW, Bumbershoot Festival, Sasquatch! Festival, Off Beat Festival and Treefort Music Festival.

Their forthcoming Andy Park-produced third album I Love You But Damn is slated for a May 15, 2020 release through Freakout Records. The album’s material was tirelessly demoed int their basement studio then road-tested — before the band went into the studio to record it. Reportedly, the new album reportedly finds the Seattle-based band carefully walking a tightrope between gritty Pacific Northwest rock, 70s AM rock and hook-driven arena pop.  “72,” I Love You But Damn‘s first single is an infectious, swooning and hook-driven pop track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, a bluesy guitar line and West’s expressive vocals along with clangs and thumps meant to replicate a bus crowded with commuters. And while sounding like a seamless synthesis of Fleetwood Mac and Purple Rain and 1999-era Prince, the song as the band explains is a love song that takes place on a now-defunct bass line — the 72 — which used to run through North Seattle around the time West and Devlin started to date.

Interestingly, the song finds the duo re-imagining their romantic reunion taking place on the city bus, as they’re both returning home from their respective dismal and mundane day jobs. The song features West’s narrator working up the courage to ask her former lover to come over. As a result, the song manages to evoke an uneasy sense of nostalgia and hope of potential second chances towards love — or anything else for that matter.

Earlier this year, I wrote about Her Songs. And as you may recall, the act is a multi-national collective featuring:

  • 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. Building upon a growing profile, the collective’s forthcoming sophomore EP Toronto, Vol 1. is slated for release later this year — and the EP’s first single, the Emmavie and Marie Dahlstrom co-written “If We Try” is a sultry 90s neo-soul-like track centered around the quintet’s lush harmonies, shimmering keys, a sinuous bass line and a soaring hook. And in some way, the track will bring Teddy Riley-like New Jack Swing, Erykah Badu, SWV, Timbaland and others to mind.

”I Wonder,” Toronto, Vol. 1‘s second and latest single is an atmospheric and contemplative song centered around shimmering and strummed guitar, twinkling keys, soulful vocals, lush harmonies, and a soaring and infectious hook. While being the most straightforward R&B song the collective has released off the forthcoming EP, it’s a sobering contemplation of the act’s five women, thinking of their future grandchildren looking back at our current moment and wondering how the five women were like when they were young — and how their world was. “‘I Wonder,” the group says, “came about after a dinner table conversation on climate change, sharing our worries about what the future looks like for generations to come. It’s difficult to write political lyrics without preaching, so instead we focused on the perspective of youth and curiosity in 50 years’ time, looking back and wondering what it was like to fly in an aeroplane and see the ocean from the sky.”