Tag: Stevie Nicks

Initially making a name for herself with her critically applauded recording project Völuspa, the Bay Area-raised, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kristen Knick is stepping out and away from her alter ego to release material under her known name. But there’s one thing that remains consistent: Knick employs a colorful sound palette to bring her lyrical themes of lucid dreams, forgotten nightmares, past mistakes and future possibilities to vivid life.

Some of Knick’s earliest influences include Kate Bush, Brian Eno, Neil Young and Stevie Nicks — but after discovering punk rock through her high school sweetheart, the Bay Area raised, Brooklyn-based artist found herself inflated with life; experiencing good music, love, drink and drugs. After several years, countless lovers, jobs and travels that resulted in a breakdown, Knick found herself in New York. Realizing that alcohol and drugs had been a detriment to her creativity, she got sober, and started writing and putting her experiences and emotions into very personal songs.

Knick’s latest album Close Your Eyes is slated for a release this fall through Swedish tastemaker label Icons Creating Evil Art, and the album’s latest single “Life’s a Placebo” is centered around a hazy, sepia-toned nostalgic production — tinny stuttering beats, woozy and shimmering ambient synths paired with Knick’s warmly inviting vocals. While evoking some long ago summer of carousel rides and unconcerned, childhood day dreaming, the song explores loos in its entirely, as the Brooklyn-based artist explains. “The song is sort of an epiphany, that life is a placebo,” Knick says. “Life is as we see it. I could choose to grieve over this loss and wallow in self-pity, or I could move on and make shit happen.” 

“The recording process was with Eric Hoegemeyer and his chihuahua, Hoover, in his Astoria Queens apartment,” the Bay Area raised, Brooklyn-based artist adds. “I wrote the song when I first got sober in 2014 and when I brought it to him last year, he added some sweet synth tones and effects that gave it more dynamic than the bratty punk version I had recorded on my phone.”

New Video: Xanthe Alexis Releases a Cinematic and Symbolic Visual for “Moon”

Born near Arizona’s Superstition Mountains, the rising singer/songwriter Xante Alexis spent much of her early youth in Michigan, where she grew up deeply steeped in mysticism. When Alexis turned 15 she relocated to Colorado Springs; at 19, she became pregnant with her first child; and when she turned 20, her sister died of a heart defect. Those tumultuous years helped cement her desire to create — while leading her towards a life centered around helping and healing others through language and music. 

After opening a healing centered with her mother, the Arizona-born, Colorado Springs-based singer/songwriter released her full-length debut, 2016’s Time of War to critical praise from the Colorado Springs Independent and a Best of 2017 award from Roots Music Report. Building upon a growing profile, Alexis played sets at Folk Alliance International, Americanafest and a three-week residency at the New York-based art collective, The Mothership. After more than a raced of touring the States and the European Union by car and van, Alexis eventually traded the road for the rails, supporting the album with a series of tours that crisscrossed the Western United States by train. 

The Colorado Springs-based singer/songwriter’s sophomore album The Offering is slated for a Friday release — and although written way before the pandemic, the album’s material is decidedly of our time: centered around soaring lush melodies and hypnotic soundscapes, the album thematically grapples with anxiety and strength, worry and comfort, heartbreak and hope. Influenced by Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten, Julien Baker, and Feist, the album’s material finds Alexis at her most compassionate, unflinchingly honest and most vulnerable, as her narrators — and in turn, the songwriter — seeking  much-needed acts of radical empathy and connection. Drawing from the Arizona-born, Colorado Springs-based singer/songwriter’s newfound sobriety and longtime passion for social activism, the album’s material finds her advocating for Native rights alongside the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, demanding racial justice in the streets with Black Lives Matter protestors and more. 

“Moon,” The Offering’s lush and mesmerizing single is centered around looping and twinkling, arpeggiated keys, a sinuous bass line, stuttering beats paired with Alexis’ ethereal yet achingly tender vocals and a soaring hook. And while sonically the song seems to nod at Stevie Nicks’ and Peter Gabriel, “Moon” is written from deeply lived-in, personal experience, which gives the song’s yearning an added emotional punch. 

Created and edited by TruLu Design’s Inaiah Lujan, the recently released and cinematically shot video for “Moon” follows a woman clad entirely in black — long black dress and black boots — as she walks purposefully through the forest with a wicker bag with white roses and other provisions for her journey. At a river clearing, we see the woman stop and make several small offerings to the river and to Mother Earth.  

New Video: Go on a Night Out Across Suburban Sydney with Rising Aussie Act Abroad

Featuring members split between Sydney, Australia and Melbourne, Australia, the rising Aussie indie electro pop duo Abroad — Will Cruger and Jack Dawson — have managed to explode into the national and international electro pop scenes in a relatively short period of time. 2018’s London and New York, helped to establish the duo’s sound — a synthesis of organic, indie rock instrumentation and slick dance floor friendly production which amassed over a million streams.  Building upon a growing profile, the Aussie electro pop duo released two singles last year, “All I Want” and “Slide,” which also amassed over a million streams. Those two singles continued a run of material that’s informed and inspired by the duo’s experiences traveling and living overseas.

The rising Aussie pop duo has released material that has been featured on a number of popular, internationally recognized playlists including Front Left, Just Chill, New Dance Beats, The Local List and Indie Arrivals. Building upon a growing profile, the duo released “Home,” earlier this year, and the track has continued a run of attention-grabbing singles. Additionally, the band has opened for Boo Seeka, which may have led to Abroad’s Will Cruger co-written Boo Seeka’s latest single ‘Take A Look.”

The duo’s second and latest single of this year, is the euphoric and swooning club banger “Alright, OK.” Centered around a slick production featuring shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, skittering beats, an enormous hook and achingly plaintive, multi-part harmony-led vocals, “Alright, OK” — to my ears at least — reminds me quite a bit of In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and White Lies, if they managed to cover Stevie Nicks‘”Stand Back.”  Arguably, one of the most anthemic tracks they’ve released to date, “Alright, OK” is a decidedly ambitious track delivered with swaggering self-assuredness and a heart-on-your-sleeve earnestness.

“I think this is our best work yet,” the band’s Jack Dawson says in press notes.. “We are huge believers in taking people somewhere, whether it is a memory of a loved one, being in love with someone, or just dancing by yourself we want to cover all dem feels!”

Directed by Waymark Studio’s Bob Stewart, the recently released video follows it star Brittney McCallum on a night out in Sydney, dancing and rocking out across nighttime Sydney streets, seemingly carefree and wrapped up in the joys of new love. And of course, through the prism of love, there can often be a sublime beauty within the mundane and every day — if you pay attention. Interestingly, the video shows McCallum actively seeking something — the band — and not finding them until the end. 

“All through the clip, Brittney is searching for us and even though we walk right by her she doesn’t actually find us until the end. Partly inspired by our experiences being quarantined, the video is about taking a moment to reassess what’s really important, and whether it’s been with you all along,” the band’s Will Cruger explains in press notes. 

 

Abroad · Alright OK

Featuring members split between Sydney, Australia and Melbourne, Australia, the rising Aussie indie electro pop duo Abroad — Will Cruger and Jack Dawson — have managed to explode into the national and international electro pop scenes in a relatively short period of time. 2018’s London and New York, helped to establish the duo’s sound — a synthesis of organic, indie rock instrumentation and slick dance floor friendly production while amassing over a million streams.  Building upon a growing profile, the Aussie electro pop duo released two singles last year, “All I Want” and “Slide,” which also amassed over a million streams. Interestingly, those two singles continued a run of material that’s informed and inspired by the duo’s experiences traveling and living overseas.

The band’s released material has been featured on a number of popular, internationally recognized playlists including Front Left, Just Chill, New Dance Beats, The Local List and Indie Arrivals. Building upon a growing profile, the duo released “Home,” earlier this year, and the track has continued a run of attention-grabbing singles. Additionally, the band has opened for Boo Seeka, which may have led to Abroad’s Will Cruger co-written Boo Seeka’s latest single ‘Take A Look.”

The duo’s second and latest single of this year, is the euphoric and swooning club banger “Alright, OK.” Centered around a slick production featuring shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, skittering beats, an enormous hook and achingly plaintive, multi-part harmony-led vocals, “Alright, OK” — to my ears at least — reminds me quite a bit of In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and White Lies, if they managed to cover Stevie Nicks‘”Stand Back.”  Arguably, one of the most anthemic tracks they’ve released to date, “Alright, OK” is a decidedly ambitious track delivered with swaggering self-assuredness and a heart-on-your-sleeve earnestness.

“I think this is our best work yet,” the band’s Jack Dawson says in press notes.. “We are huge believers in taking people somewhere, whether it is a memory of a loved one, being in love with someone, or just dancing by yourself we want to cover all dem feels!”

 

 

 

 

 

Starlight Girls · Teenage Crime

Brooklyn-based indie rock act Starlight Girls can trace their origins back to 2011, when Christina Bernard (vocals), an Ohio-born megachurch chorister turned rocker and Shaw Walters (guitar), a San Francisco-born, guitar savant and tech wizard met and decided to start a band. Bernard and Walters found their bandmates — Sara Mundy (keys) and Isabel Alvarez (backing vocals), two Long Island-born theater junkies, Tysen Arveson (bass), a Seattle-born, Hawaii-raised art freak and Josh Davis (drums), a University of Michigan educated jazz drummer through Craigslist.

The band initially emerged into the public eye through a wildly successful April Fool’s prank: they recorded an impression of acclaimed artist Joanna Newsom covering one of their songs and a handful of blogs took the bait, covering the song with rapturous praise. Unsurprisingly, as a result, Starlight Girls quickly became a buzz worthy band, eventually releasing an EP that they supported with a handful of national tours — including an opening slot for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Building upon a growing profile, the Brooklyn-based at played one of Europe’s biggest festivals, and they followed that up with their noisy and attention-grabbing Jamie Stewart-produced 7 x 3 EP.

2016 saw the release of their enigmatic and cinematic, full-length debut Fantasm, which they supported through tours with an eclectic array of artists including Kate Nash, St. Lucia, Tilly and the Wall, Nick Waterhouse, Total Slacker, Crystal Fighters and Lucius. Since then, the members of the band have ventured outside of music and outside of Brooklyn in a variety of different creative projects: Christina Bernard has delved into film and directing, directing a self-penned short film shot in California, which will be released later this year. Shaw Walters has become a rising star in the tech world, traveling around the world creating holographic augmented reality projects for performers and artists, including a mixed-reality collaboration with acclaimed artist Marina AbramovićThe Life, which has become a lightning rod for alt-right conspiracy theorists. The rest of the band has continued to solider on as musicians, during what may be the most difficult time for artists and creatives in recent memory.

Interestingly the band’s Christina Bernard-produced EP Entitled was recorded at Upstate New York-based Marcata Recording— and the material is a dark yet upbeat come-on to an unknowable future while evoking a sexy freak-out from the edge of oblivion. That sounds and feels familiar, doesn’t it? Last month, I wrote about Entitled‘s expansive first single “Get Right,” a kaleidoscopic and cinematic track that possesses elements of shoegaze, art rock, goth rock, psych rock and 70s AM rock — all while being one of the sexiest songs they’ve released to date.

“Teenage Crime,” Entitled‘s second and latest single is a slow-burning and atmospheric single centered around reverb and pedal effected guitars, twinkling keys and a soaring hook — and while reminding me a bit of Slow Air-era Still Corners and Stevie Nicks, the track’s lyrical themes, as the band’s Christina Bernard explains touches upon spiritual exploration, hope for the future and reconciling the past.

“As far as songwriting goes, most of the music came together spontaneously during rehearsals,” Bernard says of the EP’s creative process. “There was a lot of change happening for us around the time we wrote it—a lot of times when we played we didn’t know when our next time playing together might be. So the energy was insane every time we played.

“We’d gotten really in sync as a band through playing live so much, so someone would pull a riff out of the air in rehearsal and we’d just run with it full speed for four minutes and that would be the song. I’d always record rehearsals in case magic happened, and it did a lot. Then I would write lyrics (if I hadn’t already written them on the spot) and later we’d recreate what we’d played.

The only song that didn’t happen that way was Teenage Crime, which I wrote one night in my room. The guys in the band hated it at first because it’s like the slowest thing we do. But when we played it live all the ladies started swaying and I think that’s when everyone changed their minds.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our influences are hard to pin down. We all listen to really different music and I can’t remember what we were each into while recording. I personally was out dancing a lot to some pretty out there international drum circles. I was getting into the idea of music as a ceremonial thing—repetitive and rhythmic and visceral—so I was influenced by that, and how those ideas would translate to rock.

 

Grace Joyner is an emerging Charleston, SC-based singer/songwriter, who has spent the bulk of her career as a harmony and backing singer for several bands in and around the Low Country. Back in 2014, Joyner stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with the release of her debut EP, Young Fools, an effort that found her reflecting on a difficult yet important time in her own life — and that naturally inspired her own original songwriting, “I think there is something valuable in admitting your mistakes, as well as recognizing the power within you to leave them behind.  Somewhere in the middle of learning that getting hurt does not make you weak, I started the healing process — I started writing music,” Joyner said at the time.

Joyner’s full-length debt, 2016’s Wolfgang Zimmerman-produced Maybe Sometimes in C wound up being a way for the Charleston-based singer/songwriter to further define her musical perspective and showcase her maturation and growth as a songwriter, with the material thematically focusing on moving from heartbreak and into a place of independence and self-assurance. Joyner’s sophomore album Settle In continues her ongoing collaboration with Zimmerman but while reportedly finding her taking bigger creative risks: the material explores more personal topics, including her romantic failures, her family and her relationship to her career. “I took my time with Settle In. This record covers a lot of ground for me. I took bigger risks in my songwriting process and pushed personal boundaries by exploring content around my romantic struggles, my family, and my relationship with the pursuit of music itself,” Joyner explains in press notes. ” But, ultimately, you can’t choose what or who you love, and if you don’t give it a fair shot you might never know what could have been.”

Now, as you may recall, last month I wrote about the shimmering Stevie Nicks and Sylvan Esso-like “Fake Girlfriend,” which found Joyner and Zimmerman crafting ambitious yet accessible disco-influenced dream pop. “Hung The Moon,” Settle In‘s latest single is a slow-bending track centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios, Joyner’s plaintive and yearning vocals paired with an enormous track. And while being a remarkably cinematic track, the song focuses on an important and intimate moment in one’s life: the recognition that a major romantic relationship is at a cross roads and that you have to make an uncomfortable decision.  “Production wise, this was one of the first songs we recorded and it is an example of how exploratory I was in the approach to this record,” Joyner adds in press notes.

Syd Silvair · The Moth

Syd Silvair is a New York-based tarot-reader by day and emerging singer/songwriter by night, who started her career behind the scenes as songwriter with Kobalt Music, penning songs and lending her vocals for songs for a variety of different artists and projects, including, Syn Cole‘s “Cool With That,” which landed on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist last year.

Now, as you may recall, last year, Silvair stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with the release of her Dillon Pace-produced debut single “”Obsidian,” which quickly established her sound — a sound that seemed to draw from and mesh elements of Stevie Nicks‘ early 80s output with New Wave while prominently displaying Silvair’s gossamer vocals. Since the release of “Obsidian,” Silvair’s work has appeared in episodes of Grey’s AnatomyThe FostersBold TypeHonest Beauty and others.

Building upon a growing profile, the New York-based singer/songwriter and tarot reader’s debut EP The Reverie is slated for release this year. “My upcoming EP follows a narrative inspired by tarot cards, each song capturing the essence of a different card,” Silvair wrote to me in an email last year.  The EP’s material explores the ways in which the divine messages of the tarot card deck manifest themselves within the physical world with each track capturing the essence of a specific card, weaving the card’s meaning into the lyrics and overall mood of the song.

“The Moth,” Reverie EP‘s latest single continues a run of hook-driven slinky pop centered around disco-inspired bass lines, atmospheric synths  propulsive drumming, reverb drenched guitars paired with Silvair’s self-assured and sultry vocal delivery. The song is deeply influenced by The Magician card of the tarot deck. Thematically, the song reminds the listener that what’s perceived as a weakness can quickly be transformed into a strength while being a boldly feminist anthem.

“The nurturing aspects of femininity are often misunderstood; the ability to nurture should be treated as a strength, not an obligation,” Silvair says in press notes. “I find that my own feminine nature tends to attract people who are looking to take advantage of it. I’ve connected deeply with The Magician tarot card in an effort to take the power back, to nurture on my own terms. I wrote ‘The Moth’ as both a warning for anyone who believes a woman exists solely to mend their pain, and more importantly as an anthem of empowerment—a reminder that for every bit of our tenderness, there is an equally potent fierceness.”

 

 

A Q&A with Juno Francis

Juno Francis is a mysterious and emerging Berlin-based indie synth pop duo, featuring two Swedes, who serendipitously met through mutual friends and had an instant creative connection. With the release of “Dance With Me,” the Swedish-born, Berlin-based duo have received attention in Germany for a sound that they describe as a mix of 60s psychedelia and cheesy 80s sounds. But interestingly, “Dance With Me” sounds as though it were inspired by Giorgio Moroder and Daft Punk – in particular, Moroder’s From Here to Eternity . . . And Back and Daft Punk’s Homework comes to my mind.

Building upon a growing profile, the Berlin-based duo released their latest single “Queen’s Anthem” today – and the single continues a run of shimmering and sultry pop centered around rousingly anthemic hooks but unlike its predecessor, it’s decidedly ‘80s inspired, reminding me of Stevie Nicks and JOVM mainstays St. Lucia and Washed Out. Certainly, as a child of the ‘80s, the track manages to bring fond memories of much simpler – and perhaps, far safer – times.

I recently exchanged emails with the members of Juno Francis for this edition of JOVM’s ongoing Q&A series. In this interview, I chat with the emerging and mysterious band about their shimmering and infectious new single, their influences, Berlin – in particular, places to go, things to see and places to see music, and more. And 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 – especially on small and mid-sized venues, and the touring artists, who grace their stages has been devastating and life altering. Over the course of this pandemic, I’ll be talking to artists about how the pandemic has impacted them and their careers. Naturally, there are a lot of lost gigs and lost opportunities and artists across the world have been frantically figuring out what their next steps are – if any. In the case of Juno Francis, they tell me what they’ve been doing to remain creative, as well as continue the momentum of “Dance With Me.”

Check out the interview and the single below.

JUNO-FRANCIS-picture-1

COVER original

 

Solina Records · Juno Francis – Queen’s Anthem

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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? 

 Juno Francis: We are safe and healthy and spending most of our time hanging out with a webcam drinking wine or working on some new material. New favorite shows are Foodie Love, Killing Eve and a little bit of Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! when the quarantine loco vibe strikes.. 😉

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?

JF: All shows have been cancelled or postponed and of course that is affecting our career, but we’re working on new material and some live streams instead and it’s not that bad.

WRH: You’re currently based in Berlin. What brought you to Berlin?

 JF: Well we both moved here to float around in the music scene with the intention to float into a person to do great music with. It’s a city we both find fascinating and crazy, right up our alley

WRH: I’ve been to Frankfurt many years ago for the Frankfurt Book Fair. What can I say? It was a free trip. I desperately want to see Berlin though. So, say I get on a Lufthansa flight to Berlin. Where should I go to get a taste of local life? What’s a tourist spot that I’d have to see to get a true sense of Berlin?

JF: Berlin has many sides and in our side there’s not that many tourist spots or book fairs, but if we were your guide for a weekend we would probably show you ”Juno Juno Shop” a great vintage store and the location for our studio. We would take you to nice wine bars and show you some nice industrial areas where you can boogie woogie to some disco beats all night long. 🙂 

WRH: Where’s your favorite spot to see live music in Berlin?

Oh there’s many.. some are Schokoladen, Acud Macht Neu, Kantime Am Berghain, 8mm, loophole (we live on the same street..)

WRH: Are there any acts in Berlin that should be getting love from the outside world that haven’t yet? Who?

 Children (wearechildren.de)

Plaisir (facebook.com/plaisirtomeetyou)

Dance Depot (facebook.com/DANCEDEPOTBERLIN/)

WRH: How did you meet each other?

JF: We met randomly in Berlin through some common friends, it was a creative explosion at first sight. 

WRH: Who are your influences?

JF: Kate Bush, Saâda Bonair, Desire, Sylvester, Donny Benét

WRH: Who are you listening to right now?

JF: A lot of Italo Disco!

WRH: How would you describe your sound?

JF: We describe our sound as mix of psychedelic 60s and 80s pop. So far we only released songs that sound more 80s pop but later this summer we will release an EP that show the other side of the Juno Francis project..

WRH: Your latest single “Queen’s Anthem” officially drops today. I love the track It’s got that anthemic 80s synth sound paired with enormous hooks – and as a child of the 80s, it brings back a lot of memories. What’s the song about?

 JF: It’s a nostalgic memory of growing up in Sweden and the mixed emotions connected to moving back. It’s also about believing in yourself and the longing for something more.

 WRH: How do you know when you have a finished song?

JF: It’s all in the vibe, if it feels right and sounds right it’s done. Some songs take a week to finish others months and some haunted ones never seam to be done..

WRH: What’s next for you?

JF: We are working on an EP at the moment and aim for a release in the middle of this summer. It will be exploring other sides of the project and sound a bit more dreamy and mysterious…

 

 

 

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.

jennifer_silva5
Photo Credit: Paxton Connors

Jennifer Silva_IWMH

________________

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!

Grace Joyner is an emerging singer/songwriter, who has spent the bulk of her career as a harmony and backing singer for several  bands in the Charleston, SC area. In 2014, Joyner stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with the release of her debut EP, 2014’s Young Fools, an effort that reflected on a difficult yet important time in her life — and inspired her own songwriting. “I think there is something valuable in admitting your mistakes, as well as recognizing the power within you to leave them behind.  Somewhere in the middle of learning that getting hurt does not make you weak, I started the healing process — I started writing music,” Joyner said at the time.

Joyner’s full-length debt, 2016’s Wolfgang Zimmerman-produced Maybe Sometimes in C wound up being a way for the Charleston-based singer/songwriter to further define her musical perspective and showcase her maturation and growth as a songwriter, with the material thematically focusing on moving from heartbreak and into a place of independence and self-assurance. Her forthcoming sophomore album Settle In continues her ongoing collaboration with producer and engineer Wolfgang Zimmernan — and the album reportedly finds Joyner taking bigger risks with the material exploring much more personal topics including her romantic failures, her family and her relationship to her career. Building upon a growing profile, Joyner has made appearances across the national festival circuit with sets at SXSW and Savannah Stopover. She has also recorded sessions for Daytrotter and Breakthru Radio — and most importantly, “Dreams” appeared on The CW’s Riverdale

Her soon-to-be released sophomore album Settle In finds the Charleston-based singer/songwriter continuing her ongoing collaboration with Wolfgang Zimmeran while furthering her development as an artist and songwriter. “I took my time with Settle In. This record covers a lot of ground for me. I took bigger risks in my songwriting process and pushed personal boundaries by exploring content around my romantic struggles, my family, and my relationship with the pursuit of music itself,” Joyner explains in press notes. ” But, ultimately, you can’t choose what or who you love, and if you don’t give it a fair shot you might never know what could have been.”

“Fake Girlfriend,” Settle In‘s second single is a mesmerizing and swooning song featuring  a sinuous bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios, shuffling four-on-the-floor,  Joyner’s achingly plaintive vocals and an infectious hook, reminiscent of Stevie Nicks‘ “Stand Back” and Sylvan Esso. Centered around a slick, dance floor friendly production, the track finds Joyner and Zimmerman creating ambitious yet remarkably accessible disco-influenced dream pop.