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Opening Act

Dana Cooper

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Artist/Band: Dana Cooper

Website: www.danacoopermusic.com

Hometown: I grew up in two hometowns, Kansas City and Independence, Missouri

Latest Album/Release: “Incendiary Kid” (Travianna Records)

Influences: Cole Porter, Hank Williams, Ray Charles, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Cooper: Eclectic, humanist, folk and roll

TrunkSpace: You signed with Travianna Records for the release of your latest album, “Incendiary Kid.” Did partnering with the label change up the process for you at all?
Cooper: Being part of a team of people who believe in what I do is a luxury all artists dream of. The folks at Travianna Records handle radio promotion and publicity as well as manufacturing and distribution. Their efforts help enormously in building awareness of my music and building a larger audience.

TrunkSpace: If we were to sit down with your very first recorded material and “Incendiary Kid” side by side, where would we hear the biggest differences in your songwriting and musical point of view? Where have you changed most as an artist between then and now?
Cooper: My first songs were recorded on a small reel to reel. They were adolescent love songs with an occasional protest song about the Vietnam War or the Civil Rights Movement. Now I tend to write fewer love songs and more about the human condition. Since those early days, I’ve continued to challenge myself on guitar and a variety of musical instruments, which offers me more choices in what I write and how I perform.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to songwriting, what is your lyrical approach? Are you writing from experience or are you writing more as a storyteller?
Cooper: My approach to lyric writing is all over the place. I record snippets of ideas on a digital recorder or jot lines down in an ever-present notebook. I travel a lot and write about things I see and experience along the way. Mostly I take more time with the entire process now, accumulating stories and taking whatever time necessary to see it through.

TrunkSpace: Is a song ever truly finished or are you constantly tweaking and retweaking? If a song does receive its curtain call, how do you know when it’s time to move on to the next one?
Cooper: There is a certain amount of tweaking, rewriting, and rearranging with most of my songs. Many endure, some fall off the set list. I still perform a few songs I wrote as a teenager. It is a challenge to keep up with the hundreds of songs I’ve written. Once in a while I revisit neglected ones to relearn and add them back into my shows. At this point it all seems a bit insurmountable. So, the most recent songs tend to dominate the list. Those that lose their resonance with the audience fall into oblivion.

TrunkSpace: We read that you “dedicated yourself to a life of music over 40 years ago.” What has that dedication looked like? Have you chosen to walk away from other passions or interests to commit yourself to music?
Cooper: I wrestled with self doubt, the drive for financial success on and off for a long time. There was an exact moment of realization many years ago when I knew without a doubt that I would pursue a life of music regardless of success or failure. I swore to myself that I would pursue a life of music even if it meant I wound up sleeping under a bridge. So far I still have a roof over my head. This commitment meant walking away from two stints in college, one in art, another in horticulture. I still dabble in both but music remains my passion.

TrunkSpace: You began writing songs at age 13. Teenagers often see life from a different set of lenses than adults do. Sometimes the small things seem so big and the big things seem so small. What did beginning your songwriting journey at such a young age teach you about the craft and process? Is there anything that you learned during those early days that you still apply to your career today?
Cooper: My father George was a lover of songs and the people who sang them. He encouraged me to sing along with the radio from the time I was two years old. He loved all kinds of music, from big band to pop to country to rock. And there was always an LP or a 45 spinning on the little record player. Dad took me to my first concert when I was three. We went to see Ernest Tubb and I believe I knew that night what I wanted to do the rest of my life. By the time I wrote my first song I had already paid deep attention to songwriters and how songs were written. Like most artists, I strive to return to that childlike place where the music began. Honesty, simplicity, and vulnerability are key to writing songs that resonate with the listener.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist/songwriter?
Cooper: I’ve wrestled with self doubt from the beginning. I take a critical look at my performances, pacing of the sets, how I communicate with the audience, which songs make people laugh or cry, what stories work and which ones fall flat. I push to keep growing as a writer, a guitarist, a singer, and a performer. And I’m never completely satisfied.

TrunkSpace: You have dozens of albums under your musical belt. Is there a particular collection of songs that is the most memorable, and not for the songs themselves, but for the experience of writing and recording them? And if so, why?
Cooper: Every recording project has been memorable for one reason or another. Undoubtedly my first album on Elektra Records in 1973 was the most profound and exciting. At 21 I was granted artistic control of the production and I got to work with my choice of musicians. I chose people whose work I admired, Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar, Joe Osborne, Jim Gordon, Jim Horn, Michael O’Martian, Al Perkins, Milt Holland, Gary Coleman, Lee Holdridge. Through the years, I’ve been fortunate to always work with exceptional musicians, engineers, and producers. But this was my first experience and the memory is indelible.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Dana Cooper headed into 2018?
Cooper: This new year I have plans to expand my tour base in the U.S. and in Canada and Ireland. I’m currently in the planning stages of some music videos. For the past few years I’ve been writing more poetry and prose, which I hope to publish in book form. And, of course, I continue to write songs in preparation for the next recording project.

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Opening Act

Francesca Milazzo

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Photo By: Jessie English

Artist/Band: Francesca Milazzo

Website: www.FrancescaMilazzo.com

Hometown: Edison, NJ (Currently NYC)

Latest Album/Release: “Be Alright” Live Version

Influences: Nina Simone, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Francesca: Soulful, honest, evolving.

TrunkSpace: You have a diverse list of influences who have left a mark on your creative POV. When you listen to your music, who do you hear coming through the most?
Francesca: I think it depends on the record. Certain songs you can hear my heavy soul influence (Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone). On the other hand sometimes I write up-tempo pop songs and it becomes obvious I was a kid who grew up listening to Britney Spears and Hilary Duff.

TrunkSpace: As someone who has admired other artists and has been inspired by them, how do you feel about your own art inspiring future generations? Is that something that you ever think about, creating something that will live on forever through other musicians/songwriters?
Francesca: When I write songs I don’t think about whether it will be a hit or if people will be singing it 10 years from now. I focus on the emotion or experience I’m writing about and try to convey it in the most honest way I can. I always ask myself, “Could this song stand up with just a piano and vocal?” I think that’s what makes a great song and great songs live on for a while! As far as getting into the studio and consciously thinking about it – that doesn’t really happen. But of course, I hope to make music that resonates with people for years to come.

TrunkSpace: When someone unfamiliar to your music hears it for the first time, what do you hope they take from the experience? Beyond the music itself, what do you want them to hear and connect to?
Francesca: I hope that the listener walks away feeling something. It’s a huge compliment when people say, “I love your voice,” but it’s an even bigger compliment when people say, “I love your song.” The emotions that I am able to elicit are important. I want the listener to connect to the lyric/melody.

TrunkSpace: How has your art changed the most since you first started pursuing music professionally to where you are today?
Francesca: The music I’m making today genuinely comes from me. I have the final say in everything we write, how the songs are produced, mixed, etc. When I first started making music, there were always third party people telling me how I should sound or what type of music to make. At the time I didn’t really know who I was as an artist so I just let it happen. Luckily, I don’t have that anymore and I’ve really figured out what I want, so overall the music just feels more genuine to who I am as a person.

TrunkSpace: What does your songwriting process look like? How do most of your songs go from inception to completion?
Francesca: I start a lot of my songs on the piano or guitar. Then I usually like to bring the ideas or songs to other co-writers/producers. I’ve also been writing to tracks, which is super fun.

TrunkSpace: You’re not afraid to tackle heavy subject matter in your lyrics. In your opinion, how important is it to be truthful, both with yourself and with your audience, by way of your music?
Francesca: For me, songwriting is a form of therapy. If I’m not writing from a genuine and honest place the music does not feel real to me. There’s nothing worse than going up on stage and singing a song you don’t even like. For the audience, I genuinely believe that people gravitate towards honesty. A listener has to relate and if you’re writing from a dishonest place, they’ll never get on your level.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take you to discover your songwriter’s voice? Is it a piece of the process that you have always felt comfortable with?
Francesca: It took me years. I experimented with a lot of different sounds, and worked with different producers. It wasn’t until I decided that I wanted to manage myself and my music that I found my sound. I put together a team of songwriters and producers who I really believed in. Together we’ve been making music I really love. I think it’s because we’re creating from a genuine place.

Photo By: Gaurav Simha

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Francesca: I’m really tough on myself as a vocalist. I’ll re-sing a line 20 times if I have to, just to get it right. If I have a pitchy moment I beat myself up over it for a while. I just have to remind myself that I’m human and that imperfect moments make art more personal.

TrunkSpace: What is your favorite aspect of creating music? Is it writing? Recording? Performing? Something else entirely?
Francesca: The overall creative process is my favorite part. Starting with an idea, turning it into a full song, recording, and producing – this is when I feel best.

TrunkSpace: When all is said and done, how would you like to be remembered as an artist? What do you hope to accomplish through your music both personally and professionally?
Francesca: I hope I’m lucky enough to make music that resonates with a lot of people. I want people to feel some type of way when they hear my music. Of course I have big goals, but I like to take it step by step. Since right now I’m still recording and developing my main focus is to put together the best project I can. If I’m able to do that, everything else will fall into place.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Francesca Milazzo in 2018?
Francesca: Music, lots of music.

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Opening Act

Kimié Miner

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Photo By: Brooke Dombroski

Artist/Band: Kimié Miner

Website: www.KimieMiner.com

Hometown: Kona, Hawai’i

Latest Album/Release: “Proud as the Sun”

Influences: I grew listening to Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Miner: Acoustic soul & pop with a twist of island reggae.

TrunkSpace: Where did your musical journey begin? Did it start with a love for listening to music and then turn into a love for writing/performing?
Miner: I’ve always loved music! I didn’t realize how much I loved writing and performing my own music until college, although I started writing music on my ‘ukulele in middle school.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take you to find your voice as a singer/songwriter? Was it a long journey to discover what your musical POV was?
Miner: Singing always felt very natural for me growing up. I loved journaling, so they went together perfectly. But I’m still on a journey of discovery. Hopefully I can continue to grow until I leave this earth. My albums are like little souvenirs of a time in my life. Each one represents a different point of view for me and a different element I related to at the time. My first EP, “To the Sea,” was themed around water and my stories as a traveler. My second self-titled album was themed around land and my return home to my roots. “Proud as the Sun” is themed around air, seeing things from a new perspective, a bird’s eye view and becoming a mother.

TrunkSpace: How important was your upbringing and your surroundings during those formative years in becoming the songwriter you are today?
Miner: Oh man, it’s so important! I’m an emotional person and I feed off of my environment – it’s like I can feel every vibration coming at me. So I think growing up in paradise, as opposed to a big city, raised me to be a grateful, mellow, pretty down-to-earth person. My music reflects that sultry exotic happy island environment I felt around me.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to songwriting, what is your lyrical approach? Are you writing from experience or are you writing more as a storyteller?
Miner: I like to approach each new song as it comes. I’ve written songs while tears still dripped from my cheeks and stained the paper. But I’ve also written songs inspired by other people’s stories. I have a friend who told me her crazy life’s story of addiction, homelessness, and prostitution. I went home and wrote my song “New Day” about recovery and what that means to a broken girl. I think as long as I can relate to the song, it is therapeutic for me, whether it’s my story or not.

TrunkSpace: Your music as a whole has an uncanny ability to make us feel! You just can’t help but participate in the individual journeys when you’re within earshot of it. Do you set out to elicit an emotional response when you’re writing new material?
Miner: I really try to create my songs for myself first. The fact that others can relate is such a bonus for me! I didn’t even realize how important music could be until I saw the impact it can have on people, myself included. We all just want to be able to relate to each other.

TrunkSpace: Your new album “Proud as the Sun” was released in October. Looking at the various songs on that album, how far back do they go in terms of when they were written to when they were ultimately recorded? Did any of the tracks have a particularly long journey to get where they are in their current form?
Miner: I would say they spanned over the last three years of being written. It was amazing to see which songs fit on this album and how quickly it all came together once I realized I was hapai, pregnant. This was the quickest album I’ve put together in terms of song choice and artwork, visuals, etc., because I knew exactly what I wanted to say on it.

TrunkSpace: What do you think the album says about you in terms of who you are today? Does the collection of songs give any insight into the Kimié Miner of 2017?
Miner: I’ve grown into my own as a woman, especially on this new journey of motherhood. I feel empowered, beautiful, and full of a greater purpose. I want to share the joy I feel with others and bring their own light that they possess out of them!

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist/songwriter?
Miner: I can be a real perfectionist when it comes to my music. I can sit in the studio and record the same verse 100 times if you let me. I want the whole performance to be just right. But I realized with this last album that perfectionism is really just a fancy form of fear. Discovering the news of my pregnancy just made me realize that our time is precious and I can’t keep putting off projects because I want it to be “perfect.” I want to encourage my daughter to be her authentic self always and not let perfectionism hold her back. Being flawed is beautiful.

TrunkSpace: In your opinion, what is the best way to break through all of the noise of the times and connect with new listeners? How do you share your music with people and build fans?
Miner: You know, I’m still figuring this all out. But I notice that when I open up to my fans and let them in on some of the things I normally wouldn’t share, that’s when they really connect and engage with me, whether it be at a show or on social media. I’m still learning to open up more and just be my true, authentic self no matter what. We are all beautiful unique beings created for a purpose. We just need to get out of our own ways and let our light shine.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Kimié Miner heading into 2018?
Miner: I’ve already started working on a few projects in different genres than my last album. I’ve been feeling so creative during this time and just allowing myself to experiment. I’m continuing to build my company Haku Hawai’i (Hakuhawaii.com) and even working on a Christmas album. But if you follow me on social media you’ll most likely see my new journey as a mama bird in 2018. I’m looking forward to it.

“Proud as the Sun” is available now.

Featured image by: Brooke Dombroski

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Opening Act

Radio Macbeth

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Artist/Band: Radio Macbeth

Members: Darien Campo, Declan Hertel

Website: www.radiomacbeth.com

Hometown: Monmouth, OR

Latest Album/Release: Bubblegum Wasteland (2017)

Influences: Neutral Milk Hotel, Radiohead, Ween

TrunkSpace: How do you describe your music?
Campo: We ask ourselves that question all the time. I think “eclectic” is a good word for it. We draw from a large pool of influences, so our music tends to reflect that. We market ourselves as “Lo-Fi Indie Pop-Rock,” which feels like the most condensed description of our sound.
Hertel: We kind of decided on indie pop-rock just to have something to say when this question comes up. But while the foundation is guitar/bass/drums/vocals for the most part, we also do a lot of synths and glitchy stuff, string and horn sections, not to mention the occasional bit of musique concrete. We do a lot of “kitchen-sink maximalism” type stuff, just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.

TrunkSpace: You have this great tagline that reads, “Your friends have never heard of us.” You’re right, but let’s change that. In your opinion, what should we tell them about WHY they should check you out? What are the Radio Macbeth bullet points?
Hertel: We’re too experimental to be indie and too indie to be experimental. We’re like every band you’ve ever heard, but also like no band you’ve ever heard. I hope that’s what we are, anyway. We’ve been told that there are a couple of vicious earworms on “Bubblegum Wasteland,” so we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice.
Campo: Yeah, it’s nice.

TrunkSpace: You just dropped some Radio Macbeth positivity on us, but on the opposite side of that coin, where are you guys hardest on yourself as a band?
Campo: This brings a light on an interesting conundrum of mine. Projects like Radio Macbeth are a constant learning process for me. I’m always watching tutorials, reading books and forums, and talking with other musicians. I want to make sure that every day I’m a little bit better than I was the day before. The problem is anything we make very quickly gets swept back as “not as good as I can do now.” As soon as I finish a project, “Bubblegum Wasteland” for example, I can immediately look at it and see what I can do better. On one hand, I think it shows that I am still growing as a musician. But on the other hand, it makes it really hard to be content with something I’ve made. It’s like I’m constantly trying to outdo my past self, it’s a never-ending competition.
Hertel: One of the biggest issues for me is that we currently live about fifty miles apart, and without a serious sense of immediacy in place it can be hard for me to stay motivated to write and learn. It’s so easy to let real life get in the way of what really matters, you know?

TrunkSpace: Your debut album “Bubblegum Wasteland” was released in September. In your opinion, does it represent a different side of the band that didn’t exist prior to it? Did the recording process change the band itself?
Campo: To be honest, prior to “Bubblegum Wasteland” Radio Macbeth didn’t really exist either. I think we’re still figuring out who we are as a duo and as individuals, so I’m not sure yet which side of Radio Macbeth made an appearance on this record – that’s probably something we’ll have to figure out in retrospect.
Hertel: The album literally brought us into being! Until that point we were just two dudes who had done some shitty demos together and occasionally jammed through Neutral Milk Hotel songs. Then at some point in the summer, we kind of looked at each other and said, “If not now, when?”

TrunkSpace: You recorded it in an apartment living room. What kind of acoustics did the room have? Did you do anything to the space to get it record-ready?
Hertel: I’ll let Darien handle this one, as he was wholly responsible for the construction of Mustard Music Mk II, Spider-Man blankets and all.
Campo: Acoustics? Terrible. I had blankets pinned up on the walls and ceiling, and even a couple hanging down from the ceiling to form a makeshift “booth” to record in. It was the jankiest shit you’ve ever seen. A lot of the production process was massaging some of the quirks of the recording space out of the tracks. It wasn’t the easiest space to record in, but we figure it’s better to record whatever we can whenever we can instead of waiting until we have the perfect space and equipment. I feel it’s important for us to just keep making music, no matter what equipment or space we have to use. We’ll be able to record in a better space someday, for now we’ll just focus on the music.

TrunkSpace: What is your favorite track off of the album and why?
Campo: Declan’s track “Ophelia” is such a beautiful song. It’s one of the more raw, honest tracks on the album. I love the build on it, and the subtlety – especially in an album of songs that are so dense and intricate – it’s cool to have something more sparse.
Hertel: That’s such a hard call to make. “Godless, Faithless, Weightless” I think is the best example of our creative bond, which is to say, I gave Darien vague, figurative direction on the production of the song (“gross”), and he somehow ended up reading my mind exactly. On the other hand, “Vapor Trails,” one of Darien’s, is never not stuck in my head. I think “Vapor Trails” is our “what we’re about” song, just perfectly encapsulating our love of broken pop.

TrunkSpace: What does the Radio Macbeth writing process look like? How does a song go from inception to completion?
Campo: On “Bubblegum Wasteland” we each wrote songs separately and then came together to mash them into a record. Declan and I are constantly writing in our free time and we’re always sending little demos back and forth online. BW was the first time we tried to find some common thread in our songs and put an album together. It’s a lot of fun incubating these tracks in private, and then bringing them together and saying, “Okay, now how do we make this into a Radio Macbeth song?”
Hertel: “Ophelia” was written as just me singing over acoustic power chords. I sent the demo to Darien, he said, “Gimme a minute,” and something like an hour later, he sent me back, essentially, the song you hear on the record. The process of Bubbadub was pretty much like that: one of us would write a song, bring it to the other, and together we’d turn it into a Radio Macbeth song.

TrunkSpace: Are the songs written from a first person perspective or are they approached more as a storyteller looking at the world and those who inhabit it? What is the creative point of view?
Campo: My songs are usually first-person. I sing about pretty personal stuff, so I typically use heavy metaphor and try to abstract my song’s meaning to the point that only I know what it’s about anymore. I find it easier to sing about difficult subjects if I can turn it into a story. I come up with characters and a world to use to express myself more eloquently. It’s really hard for me to be honest in my music, but I know that honesty is what makes good art, so turning my experiences and emotions into basically short stories makes it a little easier.
Hertel: Speaking for myself, 100 percent first person. They have fantastical contexts, but all my songs on the record are from my perspective. I’m trying to write more from the perspective of characters as time goes on, but my songwriting background/inspiration came from folk punk and emo, which are both intensely personal, first person genres.

TrunkSpace: Again, going back to your “Your friends have never heard of us” line, what if the opposite were true. If everyone knew who Radio Macbeth was and you were one of the most popular acts writing and recording music, would you be comfortable with that? Is the possibility of fame welcome or feared?
Campo: Oh geez, that’s a big hypothetical for me. Honestly, I have no idea. We’re just so focused on working on ourselves and our music that the idea of becoming “one of the most popular acts” is such an alien idea to me. We’re still developing our musical voice, so we’re just happy that anybody is listening to us. Maybe later down the line we’ll get to a place where we want to start gathering more outside acclaim. But for right now, Radio Macbeth still feels like such a bedroom project of ours.
Hertel: Welcome as fuck. To a point. Like, I don’t think international superstardom is for us, but if we had a dedicated and large-enough fan base for us to do this until it kills us, that would be ideal. Or like how K.Flay has been making dope shit for years and years, and now that she’s used to and into the grind, she’s kinda blowing up? Lovin’ it. Though I’d love to be a cult band. But like Darien said, that’s such a far-off, foreign idea at the moment that’s it’s difficult to answer with any perspective other than the abstract idea of success.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight for the band thus far? What has been the most memorable experience or most unforgettable aspect of being a part of Radio Macbeth?
Campo: We’re so small-time at the moment, that every time we get a new download, or someone sends us a message saying they liked the record it feels like an accomplishment. I love when folks reach out to us, I make sure to reply to every message we get. Just knowing that people are actually listening to this shit is so great.
Hertel: Exactly. Our first positive review, our first blog acceptance, whenever anyone says, “Hey, I really love your stuff,” it’s all been great. Even the rejections have been kinda fun. Someone even made up a word to diss us! I think it was “sucroseness.” Good times.

TrunkSpace: With that said, what do you hope to accomplish moving forward? What does the band want to check off of its collective bucket list?
Campo: We’re still thinking small at the moment. We want to start playing shows around our area and getting our name out in the open. We’re also working real hard on getting more and more music online for folks to hear. But we’re very careful about our product, and we want to make sure we’re only putting out the best work we can do. We’ve been putting a lot of time into getting our live act together.
Hertel: I want to tour at some point. Even if it was just playing Oregon. That sounds like the scariest, best thing we could end up doing. Then we can think about taking over the world.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Radio Macbeth as we creep closer to 2018? What does the new year hold?
Campo: More music. Always more music. Everyday we’re writing and recording, and I cannot wait for people to hear our newer material. I think it’s going to blow “Bubblegum Wasteland” out of the water.
Hertel: We’ve done a huge amount of writing for the next record, and we’re working on the live act, getting it ready for the stage. I think we’re already head and shoulders past “Bubblegum Wasteland,” and it’s gonna be great when people can hear what we’ve got.

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Opening Act

Melville

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Artist/Band: Melville

Members: Ryan T Jacobs (Vocals, Guitars, Songwriter), Ryan Aughenbaugh (bass, backing vocals), Dan Bacon (lead guitar, backing vocals), Juan Felipe (drums)

Website: www.melvilletheband.com

Hometown: Portland, OR

Latest Album/Release: The New Zero (August 2017)

Influences: Tom Petty, Radiohead, Spoon, Ryan Adams, The War On Drugs, Broken Social Scene, Father John Misty, Counting Crows, Bon Iver, Arcade Fire

TrunkSpace: How do you describe your music?
Jacobs: Usually we’d describe it as a Tom Petty meets Kings of Leon/Snow Patrol/REM kind of vibe. It’s visceral, melody-driven, guitar-heavy, radio-friendly indie alt-pop with some synths and a focus on clear, concise songwriting. A bit of the “don’t bore us get to the chorus” mentality, with the knowledge that you’re writing for a 21st century attention span, but also simultaneously aiming for something special and transcendent within that shorter time span.

TrunkSpace: Your debut album “The New Zero” was released in August. How much time in the life of the band is represented in the songs on the album? How far back do they go?
Jacobs: A couple of the songs go back to my time living in Berlin and were on our initial EP “Maquette.” Songs definitely mature and age differently over time and the recording process is always kind of like trying to catch lightning in a bottle so I felt they needed a second pass to be more accurately represented. The rest of songs were written the year it was recorded in. The basic tracking of drums and bass was done with the last constellation of members over the span of about a month or so. Then I finished the record myself over the span of a year, adding guitars, synths, organ and other programming stuff.

TrunkSpace: We read that the message associated with “The New Zero” was one that suggests a chance to shape what’s next. With that said, has Melville already moved on creatively to the band’s “what’s next” and if so, what does that look/sound like?
Jacobs: We’re already about six to seven songs deep into the writing of the next record and are continuing to demo the songs to further mold them into shape. We’re playing many of them live already so if you want to check out the new sounds, the best way is to come out to a show! I’d say that so far the songs have a bit more synth and a bit more edge and swagger. We’ll probably record them in Aughenbaugh’s studio and then find someone to mix them. We’re aiming for a little less sheen than “The New Zero” potentially, a bit more lo-fi while still walking that line of being mass consumable and radio friendly to the ears.

TrunkSpace: The band has gone through some sonic changes throughout the course of its time together. Is that a product of internal tastes changing, member maturity, or something else entirely?
Jacobs: I’d say it’s not been a concentrated choice, just an evolution of my songwriting and personal tastes evolving. When I started writing songs initially, there was definitely more of an alt-country or singer/songwriter vibe to the songs because I was often playing the songs solo and acoustic. Then I started playing music with other people more often and started getting more interested in writing rock songs for a band. I’d also say the players that I’ve been fortunate enough to have around me influence the feel of the songs too. The guys in the band now are all amazing musicians and bring a lot of their own distinct feel, energy, and ideas to the songs I bring in.

TrunkSpace: No one knows the band better than the band. When you listen back to Melville’s beginnings, where do you hear the biggest changes? What do you hear that maybe we, the listeners, don’t?
Jacobs: I’d say the most obvious change would certainly be that there’s less of that alt-country vibe to the music. I also think an evident change would be that my songwriting has matured as I’ve continued practicing the craft of songwriting; I’m always looking for the hook and trying to break songs down to their essence and find out what is going to make it interesting to the listener. The music is a bit more shoot-for-the-stars rock n roll now; looking to move people both internally and externally. Before, I feel the music was a bit more one-dimensional in the sense that it was introspective but was less focused on making people want to jump around and move to the songs. Now, I aim more conscientiously to find that duality of introspective lyrics with a melody or riff that makes you want to sing at the top of your lungs and jump up and down.

TrunkSpace: In your opinion, what is more taxing for a band in 2017, recording a full-length album or marketing that album? What challenges have you faced?
Jacobs: I’d say the answer is both to be honest. It’s tough to make a decent sounding record for less than five-figures and then you have to spend another few thousand to market it. I think a lot of music consumers have no idea what all goes into the process of making a record. If they did, and in addition, if they treated bands like small businesses hustling to be solvent, they might be a bit more willing to pay for the music they listen to. A band is legitimately a small business and every record you make, you sink large amounts of money into it and it’s a huge risk; particularly in a climate of consumption that expects everything free or close to it. The hours that go into the songwriting, the hours of rehearsal, the shaping of the songs in the studio, arranging the songs and so on and so forth – you put all that work in and it’s essentially a huge roll of the dice every time you put an album out there as to how it will be received.

TrunkSpace: There are so many voices on social media – so much noise. How does Melville rise above that and reach ears and eyeballs in a meaningful way?
Jacobs: It’s tough for sure to cut through so we try to be diligent about posting and keeping people updated without overwhelming them with TMI, so to speak. We hope that by being a part of cool events and playing great rooms that people will pay attention to what we’re up to. I’ll also from time to time do stripped down covers of well-known songs to hopefully attract some social media attention. It’s certainly always a bit of a crapshoot knowing what’s going to draw attention and there’s a strange risk that if an event or post grabs a significant amount of attention, it can produce a sentiment of “they’re doing really well, they don’t need my attention too” from a fan or potential fan, which is of course, counter-productive at times.

TrunkSpace: What does the Melville writing process look like? How does a song go from inception to completion?
Jacobs: So far it’s essentially been me working out songs on piano or acoustic guitar at home and then bringing that structure to the band. They write their parts within that existing song structure I’ve brought and the we work on the arrangement together, each contributing various ideas to get the songs to its best possible outcome. Then we see if the song sticks and finds a place in the set.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight for the band thus far? What has been the most memorable experience or most unforgettable aspect of being a part of Melville?
Jacobs: I’d say that we’ve been fortunate enough to have had several thus far. We’ve gotten to play for thousands of people on numerous occasions opening for bands like Collective Soul, 3 Doors Down, Murder by Death, and Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, among others. We also got to tour a bit with The Autumn Defense (a side-project of John and Pat from Wilco, a band I very much love.)

TrunkSpace: With that said, what do you hope to accomplish moving forward? What does the band want to check off of its collective bucket list?
Jacobs: I’d say the main goal is to just continue to get better cohesively as a band, continue to evolve on a songwriting level, and continue to play bigger and bigger shows. We’d love to tour as an opening act for a national touring act in the near future. In terms of specific venues, the Crystal Ballroom in Portland is kind of our Holy Grail at the moment I’d say and one of the only venues in town we’ve yet to play.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Melville as we creep closer to 2018? What does the new year hold?
Jacobs: The idea is to have the tracks for the new record recorded by April and a whole lot of shows including hopefully another west coast tour. I put together a Valentine’s Day show every year at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland where we get five local bands and we all do four to five kitsch love songs apiece, which is a lot of fun (think REO Speedwagon, Boyz II Men, ELO etc). We’ve also got a week-long residency at Al’s Den in March, which will be a stripped down affair with some reworking of familiar songs, some covers, and some special guests.

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Opening Act

Sheers

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Photo By: Jesse Dictor

Artist/Band: Sheers

Members: Lily Breshears, Daniel Rossi, Aaron Stern

Website: www.sheers.bandcamp.com

Hometown: Portland, OR

Latest Album/Release: “All Will Be New”

Influences: Portishead, Maurice R avel, Einojuhani Rautavaara, FKA Twigs, Usher, James Blake, Mario

TrunkSpace: How do you describe your music?
Breshears: Brooding art pop.

TrunkSpace: You had a new music video for the track “All Will Be New” debut on November 7. Do you enjoy marrying visuals with your music, and if so, why?
Breshears: Definitely! So far I’ve mostly used visuals to enforce a mood that already exists in the music or to put a slight twist on it. It’s always a bit scarier of a task for me, though, as I often don’t have the sort of vocabulary needed to get my ideas across. And press photos are particularly scary… camera shyness is a real thing I haven’t gotten over yet.

TrunkSpace: What does this particular video do to build upon the song or emphasize a particular message? What is it saying that you couldn’t say with the track alone?
Breshears: Well, the lyrics I wrote for “All Will Be New” are admittedly floaty, but they feel right to me, like the mood I was trying to portray, so I was married to them immediately and still am. The video gave me the chance to make the lyrical ideas more concrete. I wanted to make a dissociation from reality happen, but retain a hunger for beauty. The connection between emotional and physical intimacy was something on my mind when writing the song, and the semi-anonymous metaphorical orgy seemed like the right image to portray an uncomfortable limbo within that intimacy.

TrunkSpace: You do some amazing things vocally throughout the course of “All Will Be New” where it feels like it almost becomes a wind instrument that blends beautifully within the music itself. Were those vocal fluctuations something you set out to do, particularly in the chorus, or was it an organic process that came out in the writing?
Breshears: Definitely an organic process. I remember writing the song in one afternoon, just a couple hours, so I made a lot of snap decisions. Like I said before, the song is dealing with dissociation and wanting more beauty and honesty, so there was this moment where I thought like, “Nah, I don’t get to sing this comfortably.” So I wrote it too high for my normal voice, and that takes me to different places every time we play it. The way my voice sounds because of that decision might turn people off, but I think it’d be much worse to give up on the original impulse. It should sound difficult and shaky.

TrunkSpace: What does your writing process look like? How does a song go from inception to completion?
Breshears: Usually it looks like me sitting at the piano or the harp playing notes at random then seeing where those notes want to go. Eventually I find something that absorbs me, and then I sit there more finding melodies with gibberish lyrics. The gibberish usually ends up telling me what the song is about. And then I make a map on a big piece of paper. And then sit on my porch finding realer words to replace gibberish. And then back at the piano with the map to see if those words need more music. And then drink beer on my porch, listen to it a thousand times, and go to bed, let my dream brain work on it if the song isn’t done yet.

Once in a while, though, a song starts with some lyrics and a melody. “All Will Be New” was one of those. Then it’s just a matter of figuring out what backing music is in your head behind the melody. I feel like those songs are usually the favorites and the easiest to write, but I also can’t will them into existence.

TrunkSpace: What is your favorite part of the songwriting process? What gives you the biggest thrill?
Breshears: You know when you’re having a particular kind of day or week and you find the song that has to be your soundtrack to it? So you listen to that song more than you’d care to share? When I finish a new song I’m really excited about, that song is the soundtrack to my day or week that I was missing, and then I get to listen to it too many times. And it’s so satisfying to have finished that song.

TrunkSpace: Many songwriters have said that the process is a bit like therapy for them. Do you find that to be the case with your own songwriting?
Breshears: Yeah, I’d say it is a bit like therapy, but by way of escapism for me. Maybe I get to be a different person for four minutes, or be more of the person I want to be than I normally am, or be one version of myself to the utmost extent. I’m generally such a logical and grounded person that going to those mindsets allows me to process things I wouldn’t otherwise.

TrunkSpace: Creative people are infamous for being extremely hard on themselves in the creative process. Does that apply to you, and if so, where are you hardest on yourself?
Breshears: I’m hardest on myself when it comes to playing live, which I do consider part of the creative process. For me, every show is like asking the audience if they feel the way I feel, so if the audience isn’t super responsive, I tend to turn inward and get discouraged. And even if the audience is receptive, I’ll find something to pick apart about my own performance.

Cover Art By: Hasan Mahmood

TrunkSpace: What is your overall musical background? When did the bug first bite you, what instrument did you first pick up and learn from, and is Sheers your first project where you’ve presented your creative thoughts in a public atmosphere?
Breshears: I started playing piano and writing songs when I was four years old, so that bug bit me fast I suppose. I took piano lessons on and off as a kid, but ended up studying harp, singing, and music history in college. Sheers is my first time being songwriter/front person! After being a backing person in a couple Portland bands, I eventually needed my own outlet to hear exactly what I wanted.

TrunkSpace: What do you want people to take from your music? What messages do you hope they uncover and decipher in a way that they can apply to their own lives?
Breshears: The biggest thing is that I think people often expect “good music” to be easy to listen to, especially coming from female fronted bands. And that just doesn’t make any sense to me. I’ve had two different ex-boyfriends ask why I can’t just write prettier songs, and I’ve had many males say I should sing quieter or with more reverb. I write the way I do because I want to create “pop” music that demands active listening, that can coax listeners into appreciating tension, restraint and ugliness.

The other thing is that many of my songs, such as “All Will Be New” and the other recent single “Quantized,” are about feeling isolated and detached. But in performing them and recording them – like I said above – I’m asking the audience if they feel the way I feel. It means the world to me when someone feels connected to a Sheers song because, in that moment, I’m not isolated. And hopefully the listener feels the same. I think music is best for bringing people together in a way that’s not dependent on talking. I’m really just trying to do that with songwriting.

TrunkSpace: In your opinion, what is the biggest hurdle artists face these days? In a time where anybody can find anything online, is it no longer about delivering your message, but delivering it in a way that makes people take notice?
Breshears: Yeah, that’s a huge hurdle. There are so many songwriters and bands, good ones too, that it sometimes seems impossible to gain audiences without a schtick or an attention-grabby quirk. Or without making benignly trendy music that everyone can agree on for a bit. There’s also the issue of quantity, like small bands need to roll out new material constantly to get anywhere. But it’s really difficult to produce all that new material when you also need to hold down a day job or three because Spotify plays and show guarantees don’t pay the bills. I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure this stuff out. Email me if you have any advice.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Sheers as we creep closer to 2018? What does the new year hold?
Breshears: We have a new EP called “An Occasion” that will be released early 2018! Also we’ll be putting out live videos over the next two months, so stay tuned for that. If anyone has early 2000’s R&B cover requests for harp, email me.

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Opening Act

Kingsbury

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Artist/Band: Kingsbury

Members: Caroline Kingsbury

Website: www.kingsburyxx.com

Hometown: Indialantic, FL

Latest Album/Release: “Alone Again” (Single)

Influences: Bombay Bicycle Club, Lorde, Washed Out, MUNA, Bleachers

TrunkSpace: How do you describe your music?
Kingsbury: My deep-seated issues and insecurities on top of dreamy pop blending acoustic and electronic elements.

TrunkSpace: You started your career as a backing vocalist. What did you learn about the business during those days that you have applied to your own career moving forward?
Kingsbury: I actually didn’t start my career as a backing vocalist. I was writing folk rock music before I started Kingsbury. I played tons of shows in Nashville and was really pursuing that. While I was on a house show tour for that project, I got offered to sing backup for a band I loved. I learned so much while I was on that tour and realized very quickly that I wasn’t making the music I really wanted to make.

I’ve wanted to be an artist since I was 13, and when I moved to Nashville right out of high school I became extremely driven and focused to make that a reality. I was so excited and naive that I just started reaching out to all these artists and music business people I admired and met with everyone just so I could learn what I needed to do. I also took every show I was offered, got a band together of my friends, and played tons of shows…even if no one was there. I learned that to move forward in my career I would need to put myself out there, learn from the people who were already doing it, and just make music. Even if no one is in the crowd, even if barely anyone hears the music, I learned that I had to just keep going it if I ever wanted this to happen.

TrunkSpace: We read that your own creative point of view was shaped by watching live performances of other artists. Do you try and bring that vibe into your recorded material as well, and if so, how have you set out to achieve that?
Kingsbury: When I’m writing I try to focus on a very specific feeling I get when I perform. It’s like an emotional knot in my chest that I can come back to when I need to feel something when I’m numb or uninspired.

TrunkSpace: Your songs have been streamed and listened to a ton. How does an artist translate those streams and a general buzz into a living? What is the best way for an artist to turn their passion for music into a career in 2017?
Kingsbury: That’s a really great question. I think every artist right now is trying to figure that out. I like to think most of it is luck and hard work…probably super cliche… but really I think that the atmosphere of how people consume music has changed, but the way to pursue music hasn’t changed. You can’t force anything. I’m not even close to being there yet.

TrunkSpace: Do you think that theres a system for an artist to make a living by creating and performing music that hasnt been figured out yet? Is there a formula that has yet to be cracked?
Kingsbury: There is absolutely no formula. With the internet anything is honestly possible.

TrunkSpace: What does your singleAlone Againsay about you? What can we learn by really diving in and dissecting both the lyrics and the music itself?
Kingsbury: I wrote it the day after I played SXSW… I had just moved to LA from Nashville and flew into Austin for two days to play the festival and meet up with a producer who was there. I felt such clarity for the first time about what I wanted… we wrote it in two hours! I was having a really hard time differentiating between what people wanted for me and what I actually wanted. I am extremely self-critical but with this song I somehow wasn’t. So I think that “Alone Again” was the product of me moving forward in my life and moving past things that held me back.

TrunkSpace: What does your writing process look like? How does a song go from inception to completion?
Kingsbury: I recently started a daily writing routine. I collect melodies and lyrics and random thoughts on my phone and then sit down at my little home demo set up and work… it’s definitely not as structured as that sounds. (Laughter) Depending on the song, I usually write and rewrite until I get stuck and then bring it to a producer friend and we finish up all the production. Within the last year I started producing and co producing my stuff. I’ve written exclusively on Garageband since I was 13, but recently upgraded to Logic… AKA me failing at life but still trying to learn how to be a better producer. A lot of the songs I have that aren’t released yet I’ve produced/co-produced. It’s been and extremely liberating and frustrating learning experience.

TrunkSpace: Creative people are infamous for being extremely hard on themselves in the creative process. Does that apply to you, and if so, where are you hardest on yourself?
Kingsbury: I am definitely extremely hard on myself, but a lot of the time I just have to tune it out or else I implode. I think I am bad about comparing myself to other artists. I just make myself feel so small… I convince myself that I am never going to be where they are or as good as they are or blah blah blah.

TrunkSpace: We read this great quote by you where you said that “I’m kind of fucked up and I want that to be enough.We think thats a very powerful message because so often, especially in the social media age, people are trying to put their best selves forward. As humans, were all a little fucked up, and isnt it better to embrace that than deny it exists?
Kingsbury: The moment I accepted that was when I learned that self-forgiveness can heal. I actually learned that while I was on acid one time. I sat outside leaned up against my car and listened to all of my old middle school and high school songs… I was for some reason so angry at young Caroline. It was so fucked up of me to be so angry at myself and in that moment I just forgave myself.

TrunkSpace: What do you want people to take from your music? What messages do you hope they uncover and decipher in a way that they can apply to their own lives?
Kingsbury: I like to shy away from trying to apply meaning to my songs. I think music is beautiful because it means something different to everyone.

But if there’s one thing I want people to take away, it’s that it’s okay to be fucked up and scared and lonely and sad and happy and in love and loud and quiet and crazy and weird. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s who I am.

TrunkSpace: As you look forward in your career and life, what do you hope to accomplish moving forward? What do you want to check off of your creative bucket list?
Kingsbury: I would love to get back on the road soon and play some festivals. I honestly can’t let myself hope for the big stuff yet. I’ve got so much more work to do before any of that is a possibility.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Kingsbury as we creep closer to 2018? What does the new year hold?
Kingsbury: More music and shows!

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Opening Act

Novel Nature

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Artist/Band: Novel Nature

Members: Shane Lance, Emerson Shotwell

Website:
http://twitter.com/novelnature
http://soundcloud.com/novelnature

Hometown: Seattle, WA

 


Latest Album/Release
: Gunfight – Single

Influences: The Strokes, U2, Phoenix, Radiohead, Tame Impala

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Shotwell: Rhythmic and ethereal. Dark and sexy. Fat and pretty. Lyrics that make you feel.

TrunkSpace: Your new track “Gunfight” recently dropped. What does the song say musically about where Novel Nature is today? Did it feel like a departure in any way from what you were used to creating, even down to the process itself?
Lance: Creatively, “Gunfight” feels in line with the natural progression of Novel Nature’s “sound”. Dark and moody with a little fun mixed in. It sounds like a rock band playing a funky pop song.

TrunkSpace: Many artists are releasing more singles than full albums these days, which in a lot of ways, harkens back to the dawn of commercial music. What are the benefits of releasing singles as opposed to EPs/LPs?
Shotwell: Although we definitely long to be an album band, singles definitely help new listeners find new music. Instead of sifting through albums, here’s one song that gives you an idea of what the band is like. It’s better suited for the attention span of new listeners.

TrunkSpace: You guys have a wide range of influences, which you can hear by way of your own creative diversity that is present in your songs. Has it always been important to you that, while Novel Nature has a distinct sound all its own, that it also cannot be pigeonholed into any one sub-genre?
Lance: We never give our “sound” much thought as we’re writing. We embrace a mood and press into it until a song feels done. That said, we do love that, even though it’s not intentional, each of our songs share a vibe and sonic feel.

TrunkSpace: Do you think being a duo makes the songwriting process easier than it would if the band had two or three more members? Does it help streamline the process?
Shotwell: We’ve been in bands before of four or more people and we wrote songs just fine. But in every band, there’s always the primary songwriters and Shane and I were always that. So when it came time to start a new project, we wanted to simplify and have it be just us two. We loved the new headspace it put us in as writers, forcing us to experiment with new instruments, sounds and levels of production.

TrunkSpace: Many songwriters say that the process doubles as a form of personal therapy. Is it that for you? Does songwriting help you guys get stuff out that you’d otherwise keep inside?
Lance: I think so… writing is always two sided. First, we write to put what we’re feeling into a song, and we hope that feeling resonates in our listeners. Second, we write because we like rock music, and it’s fun to rock. It is both very deep and very shallow. If it’s too much of either, it gets weird.

TrunkSpace: On the opposite side of things, often times songs will help others – the listeners – get over their own emotional hurdles and cope with difficult life experiences. Have you heard firsthand stories about how Novel Nature songs have helped people and what is that experience like when you hear about something you created impacting someone so profoundly?
Shotwell: Our songwriting is all about making people feel all ranges of emotions, both simple and deep. We’ve had instances where fans have told us that certain songs of ours will remind them of loved ones, previous life experiences, etc., and that is just awesome. We want our fans to form a personal connection to our music in any way. It doesn’t always have to be on a deep level, either. If a fan tells me that one of our songs is sexy, I’ll take that just as much.

TrunkSpace: Novel Nature has received a lot of critical praise over the years. Do you guys put any stock into that kind of attention and does it have a quantifiable impact on growing a fan base?
Lance: We’ve learned to take attention from critics very carefully: we revel in high praise, and ignore everything else! That’s the only way to stay sane, and true to your craft. Luckily most of that attention has been positive. For that reason I’d say yes, we do feel that attention has helped our fan base grow.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to building a fan base, what has worked best for you guys? How do you break through all of the noise and get people to pay attention in 2017?
Shotwell: Our first way of promoting our music was very simple, we connected with as many people on Twitter as possible and shared our Soundcloud links. We’re lucky that we built a fan base pretty quickly that way. Lately we’ve been working with Black Panda PR out of New York and have really enjoyed seeing all the PR we’ve been getting. As long as your music speaks for itself and you aren’t lazy with self-promoting, people will eventually take notice.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as a band?
Lance: Timeline. Creativity is a tough thing to keep “on schedule”. The process is completely arbitrary. Writing is fairly simple. Knowing when something is DONE is the hard part.

TrunkSpace: You guys are from Seattle, which obviously has had its day in the music scene sun, most notably during the 90s. What is it like getting your start there and how has the scene changed since you guys first formed Novel Nature?
Shotwell: I think the rainy weather here in Seattle really influences creativity. The city is really full of big-thinking creatives. It’s been great being constantly surrounded by all types of art. The music scene is definitely constantly changing, and I will note that I think it’s at its weakest right now than it has been in awhile. Another reason why we’re trying to stand up tall in the midst.

TrunkSpace: In your opinion, does a city/scene have a direct influence on a band/artist? If so, how have your roots found their way into Novel Nature?
Lance: Absolutely. Seattle, Tacoma, and really all of the Northwest are known as moody, rainy, vibey places. It’s not ironic that our sound could be described with those exact words. And the rock history here is deeply woven into culture, and our DNA as artists. Classics like Soundgarden, Nirvana, and even Sir Mix-A-Lot have had a direct influence on us. This is a special place. We’re honored to be from here, and we believe this corner of the country is purposed to release SOUND for the world to hear.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Novel Nature for the rest of 2017 and beyond?
Shotwell: We’re always writing and backlogging songs/ideas. We can’t wait to release all of our music we’ve been writing the past couple years and visit all of you and perform. Expect touring, and as much as possible.

The Blue EP is due for release soon.

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Opening Act

Wand

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Artist/Band: Wand

Members: Sofia Arreguin, Evan Burrows, Robbie Cody, Cory Hanson, Lee Landey

Website: http://wandband.info

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Latest Album/Release: Plum (Drag City Records)

Influences: Brian Eno, This Heat, Television, Grateful Dead, David Bowie, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Crazy Horse, Sonic Youth, Guided by Voices, Alice Coltrane, The Beatles, etc.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Burrows: Two guitars, two voices, keys, bass, drums. It’s a rock band. The music is simple, but the process is obsessive. It’s beginning to feel cold, but the sun is plainspoken and bright. You look down on the churning city from the hill.

TrunkSpace: Your new album “Plum” arrived on September 22. Do you place expectations, deliberately or otherwise, on how the album will be received?
Burrows: Of course, it’s hard not to anticipate some response, and it’s hard not to feel what you feel when you get it all kinds of ways. We are a sensitive bunch, and the project is pretty modest. We want the album to have a life by way of an audience that feels genuinely excited by it. All the additional anxiety we can spend is definitely wasted. We try as much as possible to follow the music itself and not think too far in advance.

TrunkSpace: It is your fourth album together, though you added two new members to the band since your previous recording. How has that inner-band dynamic affected the music itself the most? Where is it most recognizable on the new album?
Burrows: When Robbie and Sofia joined the band, we had already talked a lot about how we might more radically change our process. The personalities of each record have, among other differences, reflected shifts in process. We try not to work the same way twice, and we aren’t interested in the same outcome twice. Expanding to a five piece has opened up a lot of new possibilities, and it enabled us to compose most of this newest record by way of improvisation. Most of the major musical ideas on the record emerged from jams. We practiced like crazy, and earned a lot more hours playing together this time around. I think you can hear it in how detailed and sculptural all of the parts are, how intentionally they are performed, how much respect each performance maintains for everything it is simultaneous with even when they may not be in agreement. It feels to me like these songs are in excess of any one of us, or even all five of us.

TrunkSpace: A lot of critical praise followed the release of your previous album “1000 Days” and positioned the band as “one to watch” by a number of music press influencers. As a band do you put any stock into that kind of attention and does it have a quantifiable impact on growing a fanbase?
Burrows: I think we are easy to flatter, but we don’t put much stock in “music press influencers.” I know a lot of music fans who have a genuine interest in music, but I don’t know many music fans who take a genuine interest in the discourse – it seems pretty lackluster at this point, with some rare exceptions. I don’t think it has a lasting effect in growing a sustainable fanbase for your music, though I do think it can put your music in front of people who might otherwise never find it. That is helpful, but at the end of all the taxonomic mania is a band that mostly earns something like an extremely meager living playing live in small clubs. We try to stay focused on that aspect of things, and so far we play for some more people each time we go out on the road.

TrunkSpace: In terms of songwriting, what is the lyrical approach taken with Wand songs? Are they written from specific life experiences or do you take more of a storyteller’s approach?
Burrows: As far as I know, I think the lyrics have always been drawn from life experiences, though on the early records especially I think they tended more toward allegory and the images were more fantastic. I think Cory is a really strong lyricist – lucid, playful, vulnerable.

I believe his process usually starts with a vocal melody – then words are allowed to take shape in the singing, which leads to a more developed concept or story or feeling, which by way of sculpting and editing leads to a song.

Photo By: Kyle Thomas

TrunkSpace: In your opinion, how important are lyrics to songs?
Burrows: I think lyrics are fabulously important to pop songs. To me, they usually feel indivisible from the tunes with which they belong.

TrunkSpace: What do you hope listeners take from the new album? In many ways it feels like it takes you on a track-by-track journey and we are curious if that was by design?
Burrows: Yeah, that was by design. We usually write with the question of an album form in play the whole way. We talk a lot about what effects we hope the record will produce. We take sequencing pretty seriously, and we will agonize and labor over it. I think the sequence of “Plum” went through more than a dozen iterations before it clicked into its final shape. Robbie was that sequence’s ultimate advocate, and he had the arc of Neil Young’s “On the Beach” in mind.

I hope listeners take solace in the new album. I hope it gives people energy. I hope it feels confusing and merciful and leads back to life.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as a band?
Burrows: We are perfectionists when it comes to performance, and we are very hard on ourselves. It’s a shame, because we are definitely at our best when we’re at our most exuberant. We’re working on easing up, though. Trying to lead with our goodwill and love what happens.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Wand for the rest of 2017 and beyond?
Burrows: We’ve already started work on what will likely be the next LP. More music should be forthcoming. Meanwhile, let’s expect to see each other at the gig!

Featured image by: Abby Banks

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Opening Act

Fay Gauthier

FayGauthier_OpeningAct

Artist/Band: Fay Gauthier

Website: www.faygauthier.com

Hometown: Millville, Massachusetts (LA since 2003)

Latest Album/Release: Firehead (Released 9/5/17)

Influences: Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone

TrunkSpace: How do you describe your music?
Gauthier: I recently started calling it “Genre-fluid.” In the most general terms it’s pop, but depending on the song it can swing towards jazz, blues, country, or other genres.

TrunkSpace: We also read that you’re continuously influenced by what you’re currently listening to, but we wonder, where else do you find inspiration? Do you look beyond music itself to feel drawn to create in a particular way or style?
Gauthier: Absolutely. I’ll find inspiration in a news story. I’ll find inspiration in random conversation with a friend, or even a stranger. I’m an equal opportunity inspiration junkie. I think being an actor helps with this as well, since we’re trained observers.

TrunkSpace: Many singer/songwriters use writing and creating as a form of therapy. Does creating serve that purpose for you? Do your songs say things about you that you yourself are unable to say?
Gauthier: Yes. Sometimes, even if I don’t realize it at the moment inspiration strikes, I’ll look back at something I’ve written and realize it mirrored some aspect of my life, or shed light on a previously unexplored emotion or experience.

TrunkSpace: What does your songwriting process look like? Do your songs tend to come into this world via the same method?
Gauthier: Usually melody comes first, or the melody and lyrics come at the same time. Very rarely I will start with a lyric and write a melody around it.

TrunkSpace: What is it that you hope draws people to what you create? What do you want them to discover within the songs?
Gauthier: Connection, and enjoyment too. I love it when someone tells me they were moved by a lyrical line or a particular song. And I’m honored when something I’ve created resonates at an emotional level.

TrunkSpace: Your new album “Firehead” was recently released. Now that it is complete and able to reach the ears of listeners, how do you view it? Has your opinion on it and the experience changed since you first wrapped in the studio?
Gauthier: I am as excited now about this album as I was when we wrapped in the studio. It’s a blessing to have worked and to continue to work with the amazing team of producers and musicians whose talent went into making “Firehead.” And the feedback has been wonderful. What’s been especially fun for me is the wide variety of opinions I’m getting from listeners on which song is their “favorite”. It makes me feel like our decision to include a range of genres gives the album a broader appeal.

TrunkSpace: What were you hoping to accomplish with the album and did you achieve it?
Gauthier: Most importantly we wanted to put out music that we and other people would enjoy. At the same time, we wanted it to show my versatility. And I do feel this album achieved that.

TrunkSpace: What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself during the writing and recording of “Firehead” and was that discovery a surprise?
Gauthier: The biggest discovery was realizing just how much joy I missed out on when I took a break from music. It wasn’t a surprise so much as a potent reminder of how important it is to do what you love.

TrunkSpace: Outside of your career in music, you’re also an actress and writer. Have you always had a creative focus? What is the longest time you’ve ever spent NOT creating?
Gauthier: I can’t ever remember not creating. I haven’t always given myself the time I’d like to nurture it, but the creating is always there.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself creatively?
Gauthier: Definitely my writing. Whether it’s a character’s dialogue or the lyrics to my songs.

Photo By: Mikel Healey

TrunkSpace: If you were starting your career over, what difficult lesson learned do you wish you could have avoided?
Gauthier: Being too intent on pleasing others. Everyone has an opinion on how an artist should approach their craft, or how she should niche herself. I’ve learned to be open to opinions, but also to accept that I can’t possibly please everyone, so ultimately I need to trust my own instincts.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of Fay Gauthier look forward to for the rest of 2017 and into the new year?
Gauthier: I’ve written a couple new songs and I’m looking forward to sharing them soon. I’ve got a great band together for live performances in and around LA. And I’m looking at putting out a couple more music videos for songs from the album.

Featured image by: Mikel Healey

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