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RAD

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RAD

Initial Release Date: August 20, 2019

Developer: Double Fine

Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment

Genre: Action-Adventure, Arcade

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows

Why We’re Playing It: It’s no secret that the TrunkSpace team are fans of the ‘80s, and this game exudes totally tubular nostalgia. Even the actual gameplay harkens back to the old-school, arcade-style games that were top down action/adventure romps. So put on your jean jacket, hairspray that hair and wear your sunglasses at night while we dive into this session of Trunk Gaming!

What It’s All About?: You choose your teenage adventurer protagonist, grab your baseball bat and head into a post-apocalyptic world that has become a barren wasteland full of gnarly creatures that are hungry for flesh. The fate of humanity depends on you to traverse the radioactive landscape and spread life and heal the environment through the use of machines. This comes at a cost though, and your body mutates as you play, giving you either unexpected power or hindering side effects.

That’s Worth A Power-Up!: We’re a sucker for visually-striking and stylistic games, and “RAD” delivers on this front. From the retro electronic riffs to the gorgeous wasteland of a landscape, this game is a treat for your ears and eyeballs. Oh, and the random voiceover guy that proclaims your achievements with ‘80s buzz words will have you laughing as you smash those radioactive mutants to bits.

Bonus Level: At first play through it seems sort of like one dimensional gaming, and you’re not sure if there is much replay value. Once you clear the first few levels, you realize you’re just scratching the surface, and when you start teleporting from caves to different levels, things get wild. The game also has a random level generator, so you are literally never playing the same level twice. All we can say is clear your schedule, because once you download “RAD” you are going to be hooked!

And that’s why this game is a certified quarter muncher!

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Opening Act

Marinho

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Photo By: Marta Olive

Artist: Marinho

Latest Album: ~ (Stream/Purchase Here!)

Hometown: Lisbon, Portugal

TrunkSpace: Your debut album drops on October 18. What kind of emotions are you juggling with as you gear up to release new material into the world? Is it difficult letting something go that you’ve spent so much time and energy on?
Marinho: Not difficult at all, in fact, it’s a relief to finally share it with the world! It’s another completed chapter and that feels great. I’m very proud of what I have to present.

TrunkSpace: Your music is very personal and you reveal a lot about yourself and your journey through your lyrics. As an artist, do you ever worry about giving too much of yourself to your music and in the process, revealing too much to the world?
Marinho: That’s funny, ’cause here I was thinking I was actually being cryptic on my lyrics. I guess not! And that’s a good thing because I believe candour is an essential ingredient in music.

Not necessarily having very explicit lyrics but the message should be genuine – from the heart. My favorite artists are the ones that aren’t afraid to show their true colors and don’t make music to please anyone but themselves — because there will always be someone somewhere who has felt the same way they have and will connect to the music because of that.

So no, I try not to worry about giving too much of myself.

TrunkSpace: What could someone learn about you as both an artist and a person in sitting down to listen to the album front to back?
Marinho: They’d learn that I like to question everything, even myself, in order to make sense of life and always evolve into something better.

TrunkSpace: When you dreamed of one day putting out an album, is this the album you envisioned? Are you the same artist today as you always intended to be or did it take you some time to find your creative POV?
Marinho: The decision to go to the studio came without expectations. I took a few songs, some unfinished riffs, and a loose idea of what each could sound like. But I remember saying, “If I come out of this with one good single, I’ll be happy.” And before I knew it, I was making an album. It wasn’t the goal and I didn’t envision it per se, but I’m proud of how it happened.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, many of the songs that make up “~” have been with you for a while now. As you went into the studio to record the album, did some of those songs take on different creative directions than you originally intended, and if so, can you share an instance with us?
Marinho: For sure, and that’s the beauty of going into the studio. Tracks like “I Give Up and It’s Ok” were creatively carved in the studio. I had an idea of what I wanted to do but while recording it took a life of its own, like the bpm increasing and such.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Marinho: I’m proud of having made something that people resonate with, knowing it was born out of a new found confidence in myself. It feels like I’m on the right track.

TrunkSpace: We’re big fans of great, memorable lyrical snippets here, so we have to ask, what is your favorite piece of writing off of the album and why?
Marinho: I can’t pick a favorite per se… I guess the lyrics on “Freckles” are the most vulnerable on the record – and I love it for that.

TrunkSpace: Born in Portugal, we read that you were raised on American cartoons and films, which impacted your views on a great many things, but did that exposure to States-based pop culture directly impact your future art?
Marinho: Most definitely. In many ways, American TV and music are responsible for how my brain processes emotions since a very young age. And I’m sure that is felt in all my creative output.

TrunkSpace: If you sat down with your 10-year-old self and gave her a glimpse of her future, would she be surprised by where her musical journey has taken her thus far?
Marinho: I love this question. I think 10-year-old Marinho would’ve appreciated a bit more Spice Girls-like tunes, but would’ve still shared the excitement for having walked down the creative path instead of just sitting behind a desk for the rest of her life. She would’ve enjoyed meeting her interesting older self, as much as she enjoyed meeting and talking to other older interesting artists back then.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Marinho: I’m sure whatever glimpse I’d get now would eventually change because life is full of unforeseen events. So I don’t see the point of predicting the future. I’d rather imagine one and work towards it.

~” is available today.

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Wingman Wednesday

Anand Desai-Barochia

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For Anand Desai-Barochia, the journey to landing a role of substance – in this case, Janzo in “The Outpost” – was a long and winding road, but like so many things in life, the good always comes to those who wait.

Being an impatient creative, you always hope it happened faster – quicker,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “I wont lie, I’m glad it didn’t happen straight away. Now I genuinely appreciate the work I have because it wasn’t handed on a silver plate.”

We recently sat down with Desai-Barochia to discuss post-production llamas, growing with a character, and the joy of eating affordable truffle gnocchi.

TrunkSpace: We previously spoke with your “The Outpost” costars Jessica Green and Jake Stormeon during the series’ Season 1 run. Now that you’ve wrapped up Season 2, what can you tell us about how this show has impacted your life and career the most? Has it brought substantial change to your door?
Desai-Barochia: Firstly (is firstly a word?) I’d like to apologize for your interaction with my cast mates. I know how tedious they can be. Now to the question at hand. “The Outpost” has allowed me the fortunate privilege to now only spend my time on material and projects that truly interest me. Like most actors, before landing something of substance, I had to audition for anything and everything, even if the casting breakdown said “60-year-old Chinese man with a pet llama.” Because, you never know. I’m brown – they could always FX in a llama.

TrunkSpace: Playing Janzo is the longest time you have ever spent with one character on screen. What is that extended journey inhabiting one character like? Has who you understood Janzo to be changed from that moment you first signed on to play him to where he is today throughout the course of Season 2?
Desai-Barochia: Before “The Outpost,” I always thought that I preferred film over TV – purely for the fact I could see a character through from beginning to end. Now in our second season, my thoughts on this are definitely changing. I’m incredibly protective of Janzo – he is a character that has grown as I have. He started off as a shy, intimidating wee soul… just like me.

I could be wrong, but I do believe our shows’ creators have adapted our roles to the actors that play them. That being said, the more you know your character, the bolder you can be in your choices. The beauty we have as a show is that it is completely original material. The show isn’t based on any film or book series. All of the characters have changed and grown since Season 1.

TrunkSpace: You have said that the writers of “The Outpost” have given you the freedom to help sculpt Janzo and make him your own. What is an element of him that you knew you wanted to bring to life, and that perhaps was not initially intended for the character?
Desai-Barochia: It might have to do with having a British sense of humor – and maybe something our writers at first didn’t intend on, however, the second I read Janzo’s lines in the pilot, I immediately read them as him being extremely dry and blunt. I’ve always seen him like that – now it might not have been how the writers initially saw him but I’m glad they’ve allowed me to run with it.

TrunkSpace: We would imagine it can be both exciting and (possibly) nerve-racking to receive new scripts, not knowing ultimately where your character will go on both his personal journey and the narrative journey within the series. Does a moment come to mind where you were reading a new script and got so excited by what you read that you couldn’t wait to get to set and shoot it?
Desai-Barochia: The scene where I killed Garrett was particularly exciting to shoot.

TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on “The Outpost” that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Desai-Barochia: It sounds corny but its true; my relationships I’ve built with cast and crew. It happens with every job I’m on – whether it’s being a receptionist behind a desk, or having a show shooting in Serbia, the people are what I value the most. To this date, some of my closest friends are from work.

TrunkSpace: You had previously worked on “Day of our Lives” for a few episodes. Soap operas are known for their breakneck shooting schedules, so we’re curious if getting to spend some time on an established one like Days served as a bit of a boot camp of what was to come for you later in your career?
Desai-Barochia: Days is a beast I’ve never been part of before. Marnie Saitta watched/read an interview of mine that I tagged her friend in on social media so more eyes would see the piece. She requested I come in to meet her, so I guess it kinda worked. I wouldn’t have the balls to do such a thing now. I guess when you’re eager for work, unemployed, you’ll try anything. I ended up playing a one liner for a few episodes after.

I remember walking onto the NBC lot just grinning from ear to ear. My first gig in the States. Walked onto set – director showed me my movements, rehearsed it. “OK! Thanks for your work today!” That’s how quick it was. I thought the take was the rehearsal. After pumping myself up for the last two days for this “big break” it was over in five seconds. I didn’t even have a TV at the time it aired. I went to the gym and watched my one line on the treadmill, grinning like an old lady with no teeth.

TrunkSpace: You fell in love with acting when you were 10 years old. What would 10-year-old Anand think of his journey as a professional actor thus far?
Desai-Barochia: He’d be pretty chuffed. However, it’s actually the opposite for me – I look back on some of the things I did before getting steady work and wish I was more like that guy. He was fearless. I’m still pretty spontaneous in life; I’ll always have my passport in my back pocket just in case an adventure pops up.

Professionally, it took a lot longer than I thought/hoped it would. Folks always say it takes 10 years after you have graduated theater school to start getting the real work. I graduated in ‘07. I booked my first series regular in ‘17… so they weren’t wrong. Being an impatient creative, you always hope it happened faster – quicker. I wont lie, I’m glad it didn’t happen straight away. Now I genuinely appreciate the work I have because it wasn’t handed on a silver plate.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Desai-Barochia: Eating truffle gnocchi twice a week for $7.00 in Serbia.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Desai-Barochia: I wouldn’t. Nerves/apprehension/flutter in your stomach/not knowing if it’s going to work out. That’s what keeps me on my toes. I think it’s always good to not be so sure of yourself.

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Deep Focus

Lauren LeFranc

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In our ongoing column Deep Focus, TrunkSpace is going behind the camera to talk with the directors, writers and producers who infuse our world with that perennial pop culture goodness that we can’t get enough of.

This time out we’re chatting with Lauren LeFranc, showrunner of the science fiction series “Impulse,” about job descriptions, creating television in a short attention span society, and finding inspiration in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

TrunkSpace: Formal definitions aside, what does the job of a showrunner entail for those who are not familiar with the term?
LeFranc: Well, I guess, you’re first a writer and then second to that, you’re the CEO of your television show, essentially. You’re in charge of running the writers’ room. You are technically in charge of everything to do with set and production and post production. You touch everything. There are certain department heads who are specialized in those particulars, but you have your hands in everything.

TrunkSpace: And does that change series to series or platform to platform?
LeFranc: No, it’s pretty much that. That’s the general job description. Everybody does it a little differently, but that’s the job.

TrunkSpace: Would 12-year-old Lauren be surprised that she would one day be serving in that role?
LeFranc: I think she’d be pretty stoked. I grew up on TV. I was, really, partially raised by books and movies. And so 12-year-old me would probably freak out a little bit if she knew that she could go to set and write stories – like a heightened level of playing make believe. And honestly, part of why I write and what I think about a lot is my younger self and just trying to think about what impact TV had on me and really wanting to put that forward for other people.

TrunkSpace: You grew up on television, but “Impulse” is on YouTube Premium, so you’re paying it forward, but in an entirely new way, which is pretty wild.
LeFranc: Yeah. I mean, my God, TV has changed so much. Our industry has changed within the last couple of years – even the last couple of months – so dramatically. I never would have anticipated watching the Internet or walking around with an iPad and watching all these different streaming platforms. And that’s how people often view content now. So, yeah, it’s really crazy.

TrunkSpace: So as a showrunner, do you think about that – the way people are watching – and does it ever impact the creative?
LeFranc: Our goal is always to visually make it look as beautiful and amazing as possible, assuming and hoping that people are watching it on a bigger screen, truthfully. Because, I think, we try to be a very cinematic show. That doesn’t mean that I’m not aware that some people are going to watch it on their iPads or their phones, but the goal is not to cater to that particularly, but to maybe inspire people to want to see it on a bigger screen and to try to get more out of it. Especially, because we have a lot of visual effects, and our directors are so excellent. You really want to offer that on a bigger screen if you can. I’m aware of the different options people have – the lack of attention span sometimes people have. I don’t creatively think on that level in terms of how we break story and the stories that we come up with, but I’m very aware of it.

TrunkSpace: That lack of attention span that you speak of can also be seen as a blessing for your series because, if people are watching and are invested in this day and age, you know you’re doing something right.
LeFranc: Absolutely. Everyone has a lot of options. I think the thing that I really love about being on YouTube Premium is that we can be any length. So, we don’t have to hit a certain length for every episode. I try to keep it in a certain window that I think is reasonable, perhaps because of the lack of attention span that I personally have. So, if it’s something 60 minutes, to me, it better be really fantastic and worth those 60 minutes. It’s a matter of minutes and it matters a lot, but we also can create whatever kind of content we want. We don’t have similar restrictions to broadcast networks or even some pay cable. So in that regard, it’s really freeing creatively.

TrunkSpace: With that said, could “Impulse” exist on another network in its current form or is it unique to YouTube Premium?
LeFranc: No, I definitely think it could. Because streaming platforms… if they’re willing to take risks and play in different genres, absolutely. The comparable networks to YouTube, I think, like Netflix and Amazon quickly come to mind. YouTube has given us such creative freedom. That’s been really a lovely experience, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t play elsewhere. I mean, we do curse a lot. (Laughter) We probably would need to censor ourselves a little bit.

I think a lot of TV and streaming cable services right now want to offer creativity to showrunners and to writers. And that’s really amazing to be a part of right now.

Missi Pyle and Sarah Desjardins in Season 2 of “Impulse”

TrunkSpace: On the opposite side of that coin, is there a feeling inside the TV community that it won’t always be this good and that perhaps this level of content creation won’t be able to sustain itself?
LeFranc: Yeah. I mean, I don’t know if people could have predicted where we’d be exactly right now. And again, it’s ever-changing. I think there’s a huge potential that this is a bubble that’s going to burst at some point, but from my perspective, it’s like, let’s play in that bubble for as long as they let us. Because I think the thing that I love about it is that now, you can tell unique stories. We’re dealing with trauma, but there’s genre elements. We’re focusing on a complicated young woman and we’re not trying to cater to a particular broad audience in such a way to make that character super likable instead of just about making her more real and honest. And I don’t know if I could have told a story like this even five years ago, honestly. And that’s just a product of having so many different opportunities.

TrunkSpace: Five years ago, “Impulse” would have been a story about teleportation first, and the character stuff would have all played in the background.
LeFranc: Exactly. And that has been the greatest gift is that I get to tell a story that is not leading with some sort of snazzy element like teleportation. It’s leading with character and it’s leading with trying to create a grounded character drama and focus on a young woman, but focus on the people around her and equally focused on the people in this town who are struggling financially. No one is super pretty. No one is glamorized. No one is overly sexualized. That has been YA badly up until this point for whatever reason in TV, I think, with a couple exceptions. But really, it’s been, for me as a young woman growing up, a little disheartening and confusing because I’m like, “I’ve never experienced high school like this.” “My So Called Life” I think was a show for a time that really revolutionized how you think about young people. And that’s something that I hold onto a lot. And I was a big fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I really wanted to write TV largely because of Buffy, because she was this complicated woman with burden, and she was strong, and powerful. And I hadn’t really seen a lot of those depictions before. So, I’m trying to lead in my generation with “Impulse” in that regard.

Season 2 of “Impulse” is available today on YouTube Premium.

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Wingman Wednesday

Natalie Malaika

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Photo By: Rashelle Campbell

In an industry where so much is out of your control, you can easily be let down when things don’t go according to plan. Thankfully for actress Natalie Malaika, who can be seen appearing in the new Netflix thriller “Fractured,” planning has never been a part of her plan, which keeps her future flexible.

I find extreme bliss in doing what I love as a career because it doesn’t feel like work,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “And as time goes by, if that continues to be true, I would absolutely continue on this journey.”

We recently sat down with Malaika to discuss working on a Netflix project, learning on set, and what kind of on-screen badass she wants to play.

TrunkSpace: Your journey in the arts began as a dancer and musician. What made you transition from those first loves into acting, and ultimately, was it a leap that you were hesitant to make because of how difficult it can be to break in?
Malaika: When my interest in the performing arts as a whole first began, my mom enrolled me in all sorts of classes, including acting. She wanted me to find what I loved most, and somewhere along the way dance and music became the forefront of my focus and acting got placed on the back burner. I think that happened for a few different reasons. The precarity of the industry definitely created some hesitation, but more than that, my lack of knowledge on what to look for when navigating through the sea of contacts and representatives. It wasn’t until I attended an arts high school, as a dance major, that I started to dabble in acting again — we were encouraged to explore art forms outside of our major. I now had access to the guidance I needed earlier on to navigate the acting industry. So with that, I found an amazing talent agent by my senior year and began to take acting seriously.

TrunkSpace: When you decided to pursue acting professionally, did you put a plan in place – short or long term? What kind of path were you hoping to pave for yourself and do you feel like you’re on it now?
Malaika: Not right at the onset. I more so started to plan while I was in my final year of university. To be honest, I’m not much of a planner, though I do understand the importance of setting some semblance of a layout in order to establish direction. My path is still a work in progress – I’m still a work in progress – but when I took a leap of faith and moved to Vancouver from Toronto that was the first part of the plan. Now I’m slowly seeing the pieces fall into place.

TrunkSpace: Netflix is the pinnacle of original programming these days. What is it like being a part of a project for a platform that seems to literally be in every home and on every device? Is it exciting beyond the work itself given the size and scope of where “Fractured” will live?
Malaika: It’s so crazy. There are other productions I’ve been in that are also on Netflix and I’ll randomly have people who I haven’t spoken to in years messaging me on Instagram with a screenshot of me! It’s so weird but awesome all at once. I can’t tell you one person I know who doesn’t have Netflix, so the exposure is great for sure.

TrunkSpace: Did you view your time on “Fractured” as just as much of an education as you did a job, because there are some heavy hitters involved in the project both on screen and behind the camera that we would imagine you could absorb a great amount of knowledge from?
Malaika: Totally! Any set that I step on I consider it an educational experience. I’m always striving to be better at my craft everyday; whether I’m reading scripts, attending classes, watching films and television shows with a critical eye, it’s important to me. I learned so much from observing Sam Worthington and his work ethic and his engagement on set. Brad Anderson, the director, was also such a joy to work with, and was a great source of knowledge. His vision and the way he invites you into his vision is wonderful.

TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on “Fractured” that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Malaika: How important it is that everyone has the same vision in order to successfully execute the mission, which is to create great content. Brad and the producers did exactly that.

TrunkSpace: We started our chat talking about your earliest entertainment industry roots. Is dance and music still a part of your life, and if so, how much creative energy do you put into them these days?
Malaika: I consider myself an actor who also dances and plays piano. A few years ago I would’ve said the opposite. Although dance and music are still very big passions of mine, my focus is primarily on acting right now and working on that craft. So, for now, I’ve placed dance and music on the back burner this time.

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you tomorrow and said, “Natalie, here is a blank check, go greenlight whatever you want for yourself to star in.” What kind of project would you put into development?
Malaika: If you know the movie “Colombiana” with Zoe Saldana, it would be that! That was a great movie! I want to play a badass assassin role. Use my dance background and perform my own stunts.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Malaika: That feeling of being a working actor. Does that count? I think every actor can relate to going through a lull in their career, especially in the beginning stages. Since graduating from university, I’ve been able to zero my focus in on acting and developing my craft. As a result I notice a positive response to that. You really do get out what you put in.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Malaika: That’s a tough question! As I mentioned before I’m not really much of a long term planner. What I know right now is that I love acting and the performing arts. I find extreme bliss in doing what I love as a career because it doesn’t feel like work. And as time goes by, if that continues to be true, I would absolutely continue on this journey.

Fractured” is available now on Netflix.

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Opening Act

Billie Gale

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Artist: Billie Gale

Latest Album: Imprint

Hometown: Oakland, CA

Members: Beth Garber, Adam Wayne, Eric Shawn, Justin Wayne

TrunkSpace: You released your debut album, “Imprint,” on September 20. What was it like to see that work – your art – spread its wings and fly off into the universe, where ultimately, you no longer had any control over it?
Garber: Putting the music out was a huge relief. The release of “Imprint” has been a long time coming and we went through many iterations of each song. By the time we finished mixing, we’d spent so much time editing and revamping, we were ready to start in on the next round.

It was harder for me to let go of the visual aspects. I collaborated with my friend Laura Elayne Miller on the artwork, and it took me a long time to feel done, with the art, with the title or with any part of the release that would influence people’s first impressions. The album is sad and serious, and pretty, and I had some insecurity about listeners dismissing the record before they had a chance to sit with it long enough to love it like I do. I like things and people that you have to spend some time with to love, and I wasn’t sure what I would need to do to make sure people would give this record that kind of time. That’s where I fear losing control. I feel inundated with the idea that all people want in this age is to be entertained, and it can seem as though the artists with the most success are those that push out content at an inhuman pace that does just that. So, I guess sending this super personal and sincere, raw collection out in to that world did feel like an exercise in faith. I think my greatest fear wasn’t rejection, but just indifference, getting lost in the noise. But the beauty of making something so authentic and personal is that you take so much joy in the work itself, you can lose sight of those kinds of fears. I’m working on that, getting sustenance from the work and not from the response. And people really do surprise you, and I’m really happy so far that so many people really love the record.

TrunkSpace: The album is so personal to you on so many different levels. At any point in the process did you feel like you were putting too much of yourself – and in the process, too much of yourself out into the world – in giving “Imprint” life?
Garber: Yeah, all my writing is deeply personal. I envy great songwriters who can take on another character, or create characters in their writing. For this album, I played with the idea of never even telling people a lot of the backstory; that so much of it is about the loss of my mom. I didn’t want sympathy to be the motivation for listening to the record. And people don’t often talk about how loss and grief can be so embarrassing. It’s inherently alienating. Everyone who knows you before and after a loss witnesses the readjustment, and it’s easier just not to address it most of the time. So, the nature of the writing being so personal was familiar for me, but talking about the writing was more of a challenge.

TrunkSpace: What could someone learn about you in sitting down to listen to “Imprint” front to back? What does it say about who you are, both as an artist and as a person, in 2019?
Garber: As a person, people might get a sense that I take everything a little too seriously. I do! I feel everything so keenly. It’s why I write. I have to dislodge all of that emotion, or else it kind of rots; gets heavy. It’s not comfortable for me to let feelings go uncharted. So there’s a therapeutic element to the way we write as a band. We’ve gravitated to each other because we all feel deeply, and I think that’s evident on the record.

TrunkSpace: “Imprint” pays tribute to your mother, who the band is also named after. Has this project and the songwriting associated with it helped you throughout the grieving process in ways that you may have not been able to tackle had you not had this creative outlet to fall back on?
Garber: Absolutely. Grief has a way of robbing you of your memory. Memory is shared, and someone like a parent holds memories on your behalf, remembers things about you that you’ll never be able to remember for yourself. Death is a division from that person, and the part of yourself they carry. The day after we had finished recording, it was like I’d woken up from a coma. I felt a surge of reconnection that was really in line with the concept of “Imprint,” the way connection continues in spite of that great death divide. I didn’t really set out to write a record about my grief, it just happened to be what I was thinking about most during the time that we were writing.

TrunkSpace: As the band now goes out into the clubs and supports the album, does it feel like you’re able to pass on your mother’s memory and legacy through these songs, and personally, does that give you comfort or can it be difficult to revisit them in a live setting?
Garber: Yes! The amount of work I have to do in order to book shows and to get people out, get all the gear loaded and make sure everyone is in good spirits, get the sound right, just all the details that go into getting this record in front of people can be so soul crushingly stressful, that once we get up to play I have to draw from something deep to make the performance real, worth all the work. Live music is so powerful because it’s never the same twice, you’re recalling something that you can’t really hold onto, and getting to know it in new ways all the time. So there’s new depth to these songs every time we play them, and I do feel really close to my mom’s memory because of that.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Garber: I love the extremes in this album, the interplay between the sort of beautiful, nurturing melodic elements and the errant, gritty, overpowering qualities. There are a couple songs like “Where Are You Now” that start with a whisper and get so big and gritty and scary, and raw. I feel really lucky that we were able to produce it in exactly the way we wanted, because in the moments of self-doubt, where I questioned a part being too long, or too sad, or too much, I could just look to the band and be like “it feels right, right?” We had nothing to lose in making this record, so we could really trust our gut, and I’m so glad about it.

TrunkSpace: Are you someone who is always creating, or can you turn off that part of your brain and step away from your songwriting self?
Garber: I have a harder time turning off the mathematical, logical part of my brain, so I usually write in two phases. First is a stream of consciousness, reckless, nonsensical time to get everything out. I don’t think in terms of chords, or rules, I search my guitar for what feels right. I have to give myself permission to let everything be sort of a mess. Then I sift through the voice memos and journal pages and edit. I love the refining as much as the expression. And it’s seasonal, I’ll have weeks or even months when I’m just writing, and then months when I’m just sorting through and putting the pieces together.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Garber: Self-promotion is really difficult for me, and so much of being an artist is about commercializing what you do enough to get people in the door. I never wanted to sell anything, it’s not natural for me to sell what I make, but I recognize that it’s part of the deal. That being said, I’m waiting for the day when I can post up in the woods, write some more great records, and forget social media exists.

TrunkSpace: Can you pinpoint the moment where you sort of found your songwriter’s voice and understood what kind of artist you wanted to be?
Garber: Writing this record was that experience for me. I had been primarily a solo artist before starting this band, and over the course of writing the songs for this record and solidifying the band, I had the opportunity to write with a lot of great players and thinkers. I think collaboration, in whatever capacity is the only way to really find your voice. You have to get feedback, and you have people who will tell you to kill your most precious ideas. You don’t do that kind of self-sacrifice on your own. You get stuck in patterns of creating that aren’t even necessarily you, even if you’re used to them. I’ve found myself as a writer through conversation. I think it’s pretty cool that the content of the album is really about this too, the way we imprint on one another in some deep mystical ways.

TrunkSpace: Which would you prefer… writing one album that the world adores, or writer a career’s
worth that a select group of people connect with?
Garber: A long career, no question, there’s no way of knowing what you’re capable of creating otherwise, and over time, hopefully, that select group diversifies as you evolve. Besides, I think the only real safeguard against the delusion of self-grandeur is to continue producing work and putting it out. Success to me is access to the critical eye of artists I admire. I just want to know if what we’re making is good, and, if not, how to make it better. But then, there’s a part of me that knows I’ll keep writing and putting out music whether it’s good or not. I can’t help it.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Garber: Absolutely. I’m so curious what we’ll sound like in 10 years!

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Wingman Wednesday

Geno Segers

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Photo By: The Riker Brothers

Geno Segers is the kind of actor who, when faced with an opportunity, realizes he has a choice to make.

There are three things you can do with it,” he says in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “Walk past, pick it up and drop it, or pick it up and run with it.”

With his new series “Perfect Harmony,” airing Thursdays on NBC, Segers is heeding his own advice and embracing his latest career achievement while learning from talented castmates like Bradley Whitford and Anna Camp.

We recently sat down with Segers to discuss “finding zero,” on-set chemistry, and why training as an actor is different than training as an athlete.

TrunkSpace: We’re just a few weeks removed from the premiere of your new series “Perfect Harmony” on NBC. In an industry where so much is out of your control once you’re away from set, how do you emotionally handle premieres, because if a series hits, it could change everything over night, correct?
Segers: Absolutely, but that being said, change can be good. As long as it’s taken with a grain of salt. I have a southern mother who wouldn’t have a problem walking to LA and putting her sour feet up my backside if she heard my head had gotten too big for my shoulders. As for handling the emotional ups and downs, it’s just part of being in an industry that is ever changing. I call it, “finding zero” – when good things happen, and you’re on a high, find zero. When bad things happen that bring you down, find zero. For me it’s all about balance.

TrunkSpace: With that in mind, what is it about “Perfect Harmony” that you think gives it a chance to not only find an audience, but to retain it week-after-week in a world now dominated by streaming? What is the secret sauce that the show has?
Segers: I feel like “Perfect Harmony” is all about the characters and the fact that you wouldn’t see this group of people together outside of a Church choir. The show is a comedy with a lot of heart. You will laugh really hard, but you will be challenged at times to hold back your tears.

TrunkSpace: Comedy is sometimes difficult to pull off because setting a tone and feel for the series is everything. How soon into the process of shooting “Perfect Harmony” did it feel like that tone came into focus for you so that you fully understood what kind of show it was going to be?
Segers: I agree. But as soon as I saw the chemistry between all the cast members on day one, I felt like the tone would jump off the screen. The fact that these characters really do care for each other will be evident to viewers after the first episode.

TrunkSpace: In the series you play Dwayne. What was it about Dwayne that you first latched onto when you read for him, and as time went on, did you come to love different things about him that perhaps weren’t present in the early days of development?
Segers: I loved the idea of playing a role that doesn’t have to die a brutal death. (Laughter) But really, Dwayne and I have a lot in common and I do enjoy that aspect. What’s more fun is playing against my natural self. He’s a really shy and unsure big guy that has no idea how powerful he really is.

TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on “Perfect Harmony” thus far that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Segers: I’ve learned so much about comedy from all the other cast members and I’ll take that with me for sure.

TrunkSpace: You have rich history in sports, including wrestling, football and rugby. Are there correlations between pursuing sports and pursuing acting, particularly when it comes to training and improving your skill sets?
Segers: No. Not even close. Sports is more about the more effort, the better the results. Acting is about working hard to be natural. It means doing less to achieve the best result.

© 2019 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

TrunkSpace: You decided to pursue the entertainment industry after a friend suggested you audition for some voice over work. Do you think you would be in a much different place in your life today had you not taken your friend’s advice and walked into that audition all those years ago?
Segers: Indeed I do. Life would be very different for me. I’d very likely still be living in New Zealand.

TrunkSpace: What has been the biggest lesson you have learned in your career thus far that you find yourself applying to your day to day now?
Segers: Around every corner is an opportunity. There are three things you can do with it. Walk past, pick it up and drop it, or pick it up and run with it.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Segers: Being in my first network series on NBC.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Segers: No, because I really like surprises.

Perfect Harmony” airs Thursdays on NBC.

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Opening Act

Driftwood Soldier

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Artist: Driftwood Soldier

Latest Album: Stay Ahead of the Wolf

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Members: Owen Lyman-Schmidt, Bobby Szafranski

TrunkSpace: Your album Stay Ahead of the Wolf is due to drop on October 18. What kind of emotions do you guys juggle with as you gear up to release new material into the world? Is it difficult letting something go that you’ve spent so much time and energy on?
Lyman-Schmidt: Sure, there’s always a little anxiety, but at this point it would be a lot harder to NOT release it. It’s like we’ve been pulling an enormous rubber band back further and further. Letting it go is going to be such a relief!

TrunkSpace: As you prepare to share the entirety of the album with the world, you’ve recently released your latest single, “Marietta.” How do you guys approach what songs you’ll put out prior to an album’s release in order to best represent the album as a whole?
Lyman-Schmidt: We call this music gutterfolk. It lurks around the edges of a whole bunch of more reputable genres and gives the purists headaches. For the singles leading up to the release we tried to pull out a few songs that helped articulate that peculiar space we occupy between country, blues, punk, folk and good old rock ‘n’ roll.

TrunkSpace: What could someone learn about you guys in sitting down to listen to Stay Ahead of the Wolf front to back? What does it say about Driftwood Soldier today in 2019?
Lyman-Schmidt: Look around. Most everyone you see is just trying to get by, or if they’re lucky, crawl ahead a little in a game that’s stacked against them. A game rigged so that the color of your skin, the people you love, or your family’s assets determine which rules you get to play by. This predatory economy is all around us. We’re fighting it, and each other. We’re complicit in our own exploitation, while making huge sacrifices to help others out. This album is about the life that happens in that chaos. It’s about trying to be some kind of human while staying ahead of the wolf.

TrunkSpace: There’s some great storytelling on Stay Ahead of the Wolf. What is your approach to songwriting? Do you write from experience or as an observer of the world?
Lyman-Schmidt: Thank you! Storytelling is definitely the business we’re in. I write a song, lyrics, tune, chords, etc., then Bobby adds bass and we work on the arrangement together. I like to say that my job is to tell the stories and Bobby makes people give a damn.

As far as what stories get told, the only limitation I set is that it has to be true. By that I don’t mean that I personally crashed a Ford in Wyoming and fell in love with a woman named Marietta. What I mean is that I’ve experienced the intense ambivalence of a relationship that didn’t conform to the prefabricated version of love we’re all sold from a young age. I’ve known the dull pain of being unable to adjust my expectations, and losing something beautiful. “Marietta” is a song that uses a different set of circumstances to tell that underlying story, which I know to be true.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Lyman-Schmidt: I’m proud that it exists. We dragged a whole lot of disparate pieces together to make this happen in the very particular way it did. All the different people who were part of the creative process, the producer, guest musicians, recording engineers, mixing engineers, mastering engineer, etc., come from very different musical backgrounds and none of them had ever worked together, or even met each other. We spent nine months demoing the music before we even went into the studio, raised the money, put the whole team of people together, and ended up with the best music we’ve ever recorded, which feels like a well-earned reward.

TrunkSpace: Obviously Driftwood Soldier is a duo. Do you think the democratic approach to songwriting is easier in a unit of two as opposed to a band of five or six, or is it less about the numbers and more about the connections formed, both creative and personal?
Lyman-Schmidt: Well, as described above, our songwriting isn’t democratic exactly. Maybe more like syndicalist. But being a duo is still very much an intentional choice for us. We have our core sound that everything is built around, and a corresponding shared understanding of what music means to us, and beyond that, how we should be living in the world. In my experience, it’s hard to find all those things in one other person, and the odds continue to drop the more people you try to add. So we learned how to play drums with our feet, and we still tour in a cheap hatchback that gets 37 mpg.

That being said, one of the real pleasures of recording Stay Ahead of the Wolf was getting to hear other musicians we admire adding their creative touch to a few of these songs. The talented Katy Otto joined us for a few tracks on a real honest-to-God drum kit. Eric Sherman magically multiplied himself into a whole horn section on a couple of songs. Matt Heckler joined us remotely from whatever tour he was on with a little fiddle and banjo. Jacob Brunner brought his intense musicality to one track on piano. And Caitlin Quigley sang some gorgeous harmonies. Studio time always tempts us to buy a bigger touring vehicle.

TrunkSpace: We discussed your songwriting already, but we wanted to break it down further. We’re big fans of great, memorable lyrical snippets here, so we have to ask, what is your favorite piece of writing off of Stay Ahead of the Wolf and why?
Lyman-Schmidt: There are a lot of words on this album! It’s the first time we’ve included a lyric booklet with the CD. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve ever written my lyrics down at all, and I’m excited for people to be able to follow along more closely if they want to pick favorites for themselves.

That being said, I think Katy Otto agreed to play drums on the record because of a line from “Put Me Down”:

I’ve always been an easy mark,
for razor-tongued women with good tattoos.
They pick me up after dark,
they put me down whenever they choose.

So I’m grateful for that line bringing us Katy, and for Erin McKeown, who did pre-production on the album, convincing us to add “Put Me Down” in the first place. She rescued it from the cutting room floor and I think it turned out being one of the best tracks on the album.

TrunkSpace: Beyond the songs themselves, what is something about creating music that you enjoy? Is it choosing the album art? Planning a tour? Something else entirely?
Lyman-Schmidt: It is very certainly NOT planning a tour.

We’ve always been a DIY band, which means we do most aspects of this ourselves, down to spray-painting thrift store T-shirts with the stencils I draw to sell at the merch table. So many of the jobs I’ve had to learn and do for this project have nothing to do with why I play music. In fact, many of them are jobs I wouldn’t take a good salary to do professionally if it were offered to me. It’s performing for people that makes it worth it in the end. It’s seeing the music have an impact on another human in ways that I can’t anticipate, that has me out here sleeping on couches, sending logistical emails at 3 AM, and reading up on intellectual property law.

TrunkSpace: Which would you prefer… writing one album that the world adores, or writing a career’s worth that a select group of people connect with?
Lyman-Schmidt: I’d take the career. I’m impressed when I see an artist play live a few times and they manage to stick closely to their ‘greatest hits’ set list. That takes discipline I don’t have, and honestly don’t particularly aspire to. For that reason alone I imagine if I wrote one incredible album I would constantly be disappointing people by playing all sorts of new material I was more excited about. I’d rather have an audience trust me to keep making new art, whatever form that may take.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Lyman-Schmidt: No thank you. We’re all going to be underwater in just a few years. I won’t risk jumping ahead until I’ve grown out my gills.

Stay Ahead of the Wolf is available October 18.

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Musical Mondaze

Samantha Fish

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Photo By: Kaelan Barowsky

Artist: Samantha Fish

Latest Album: Kill Or Be Kind

Label: Rounder Records

TrunkSpace: “Kill Or Be Kind” dropped on September 20. As you gear up to release new music into the world – and ultimately relinquish control over it – how do you prepare? Is it easy to let the universe have the art you have created or can it be difficult to say goodbye to it?
Fish: Once I finish an album and it’s out, it’s not really mine anymore. I honestly welcome it. It’s something you work so hard on, it’s nice to let the world receive it. Once it’s out, I can start being creative, and the process begins again. The live show is a good way to adjust things and expand upon the music. If you ever feel restless about how a song turned out, the stage is the place to work it out.

TrunkSpace: This is your sixth solo album. As you look back, is each one a bit like a chapter of your life, and if so, what does “Kill Or Be Kind” say about your current chapter?
Fish: This album signifies change in my life. Saying goodbye but also new beginnings. I feel that even on some of the more melancholy songs, there is this sense of empowerment and change.

TrunkSpace: No one knows your music better than you do. With that said, where do you hear the biggest differences between the songs present on your debut and where you are today as a songwriter with “Kill Or Be Kind?”
Fish: I feel like I’m more confident today. I’m a little braver. I’m not scared to write about difficult topics, where I think early on, I played it somewhat safe. When you allow yourself to lose the filter, you can become a better artist.

TrunkSpace: If someone unfamiliar with your music sat down and listened to “Kill Or Be Kind” front to back, what would they learn about you as an artist and person?
Fish: What a loaded question! I’m not sure. Maybe that I have a terrible love life. (Laughter) That’s the cool thing about being a songwriter, you live in it, but you also get to be a story teller. I do sing from my heart, so all I care about is that they feel it. Back to the first question, once it’s out in the world, it ceases to be about me. It’s about the listener and what it means to them.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Fish: That I am the sole guitarist on the album! Believe it or not, that’s never happened. By design, I wanted the opportunity to showcase that. I’m proud of the production, I feel like there is a lot of nuance and subtle instrumentation that makes these songs stick in your head.

TrunkSpace: What would 12-year-old Samantha think of your musical journey thus far? Would she be surprised by the path you have taken?
Fish: Twelve-year-old Samantha was going to be a vet, movie star and an astronaut all before 30. Honestly, I’d probably be surprised. I was a really shy kid. The idea of performing in front of crowds would have scared the hell out of me. I found my sense of self in music. I found my personality and confidence.

TrunkSpace: We love great lyrics… the kind that stick with us well after the song comes to end. What’s a favorite lyric of yours that you have written and why?
Fish: I really like the lyrics in “Dream Girl” right now. I wrote this song with Jim McCormick. The hook is:

If I could give up, a happy ever after, I’d be gone. If you could live up, to the dreams that I’ve been having, I’d hold on.

It’s melancholy, but weirdly hopeful. I love juxtaposition in art, it’s so prevalent in all life and matters of the heart. We’re all constantly at some type of crossroads, and that lyric touches on that.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist, and, have you gotten less self-critical over your work as you have gotten deeper into your career?
Fish: I think the first time you hear your voice on tape, it’s jarring. I’ve worked really hard on my singing over the years. If you don’t like something, you can change it. I’ve become less frustrated because I can do more now, but I’m still pretty critical of my performances. I strive for the best, so if I feel like I could or should have done better, I work at it.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take you to discover your voice as a songwriter, and do you think that creative point of view is constantly evolving?
Fish: Absolutely. It’s always evolving and changing. Life changes you naturally, so your perspective will change and become more mature. I started writing at 19, and thank God I don’t still think the same way I did back then.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Fish: I’d love to say, hell yes, who wouldn’t? I really like knowing where I’m going. But what if you weren’t there in the future? That would really freak me out.

Kill Or Be Kind” is available now on Rounder Records.

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Musical Mondaze

John Calvin Abney

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Photo By: Rambo

Curious Box Of Wayward Songs” would make a great title for a future John Calvin Abney record even if it doesn’t accurately describe the way the singer/songwriter makes art. Meticulous in not only the way he creates music but also in how he delivers it and packages the individual songs together, the multi-instrumentalist has crafted a delicious 10-course meal for the soul with his latest album, “Safe Passage.”

Perfectly positioned so that each song takes you on a continuously looping journey, the new album is a front-to-back artistic assemblage that is a callback to classic albums that Abney himself has worn out on the turntable such as Bob Dylan’s “Blood On The Tracks.” And while there were some 20 other songs that ultimately didn’t make the record and instead ended up in his curious box of wayward songs, the Norman, Oklahoma native is never sorry to see them go.

Sometimes, I’ll write a song and no one will ever, ever hear it, no damn person in the world, but then maybe six months later, a year later, two years later, I’ll hear that song and it’ll push me in the direction of writing a new song, he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Abney to discuss evolving with his music, the short-attention span culture, and our lost connection to physical media.

TrunkSpace: “Safe Passage” is the kind of album that you can put on and just let roll. It takes you out of your day and delivers you to a completely different place.
Abney: Oh, that is just the best news, man. That’s what I try to aim for.

TrunkSpace: How do you deal with taking something that you’ve spent so much time, energy, and have so much personal stake in, and then release it into the world where you have to relinquish control?
Abney: That is the funniest question because I remember hearing it the first time I ever made a record. I released a bunch of EPs when I was younger that, I hope will never ever see the light of day again, but one of the very first things I heard about studio work is that you never really finish a record. You abandon it, and you just honestly have to give up – give up what the album was to you and what it is to you – in order to evolve with it. In order to move on with it. In order to allow people to graph to it – to you. They graph their own experiences onto what your creation is or however you channeled the songs or album.

TrunkSpace: And then as listeners, you graph your own memories to those songs as well. They become a part of your life.
Abney: Exactly, and the more you try to force, push and pull, and try to keep the album under your own thumb – trying to keep the album under your roof – the less that people can find themselves in whatever you’re putting forth.

TrunkSpace: Your last album “Coyote” was released in 2018. That’s not a lot of time between albums, but for you, what was the creative time in-between the two like?
Abney: “Coyote” came to me in a different way than “Safe Passage” did. I wrote “Coyote” nearly, I’d say, 75 percent of that record was written in hotel rooms, or in a van. A lot of “Safe Passage” was written on long walks and on visits to family. I probably wrote 30 songs for “Safe Passage,” but “Coyote” just feels like a totally different beast to me. “Coyote” came to me pretty damn fast. It took me longer to get “Safe Passage” together. We went into the studio for one session, and recorded about 13 songs, and when I was done, all I could think to myself was, “You know what? This isn’t done.” I felt an incompleteness to what I wanted to convey, or encapsulate, within the piece of work which hadn’t been achieved yet. I went back into the studio about a month later and, during the month period leading up to that, I wrote “Kind Days,” “Soft Rain After All,” “Typeface In Bold” and four other songs, and that’s when it felt done. I finished that session, and I knew we had the songs.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned writing about 30 songs for “Safe Passage.” Will those songs that didn’t make the record live on or as an artist, can you walk away from a song and leave it behind?
Abney: I have walked away from many songs. It’s like anything. It’s a place or a person, or a routine in your life that sometimes something happens, or there’s a place or a person that maybe you don’t understand at the time that you can’t fully grasp. It helps you move in a direction towards maybe a new song, or a new place or a new direction, or a new person or a new event in your life that’s going to keep you moving forward. Sometimes, I’ll write a song and no one will ever, ever hear it, no damn person in the world, but then maybe six months later, a year later, two years later, I’ll hear that song and it’ll push me in the direction of writing a new song.

Or it will stay hidden in the trunk of oddities. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: But there’s got to be something kind of cool about that. In a world where so many people are sampling and tasting content in smaller doses…
Abney: It’s driving me crazy, man.

TrunkSpace: No one sits down and enjoys an album in how it was supposed to be made, so that process of picking what’s right and leaving behind what’s not is a lost art form.
Abney: Without a doubt. Without a doubt, and it’s already driving me crazy. It’s something that I vehemently despise, the fact that no one can sit down and listen to a record all the way through anymore.

TrunkSpace: Which is why it’s great to see vinyl continuing its renaissance because, those who are listing to a record in that format are listing to THE RECORD, and that’s what we felt “Safe Passage” was made for – a front-to-back experience.
Abney: See, that’s it. That’s it, and that is the art form that I want to preserve. “Coyote” was the exact same way. I felt “Coyote” was the same way for me, in that you could sit down and listen to “Coyote” and finish it, and it would start over again, and you wouldn’t even know it started over again.

TrunkSpace: That has happened for us with “Safe Passage,” and it’s a seamless transition. It’s almost as if it was made to come back around again, the way the first and last songs bookend the collection as a whole.
Abney: There’s a true art to that, man. There’s an art to the sequence. There’s an art to the arrangement. When you listen to “Maybe Happy,” and it starts over again, there’s little things that most people don’t know like, “Maybe Happy” and “I Just Want to Feel Good” are in the same key. All of a sudden it resolves at the end of “Maybe Happy” and if you’ve got repeat on, or your vinyl kicks, you know you have to flip your record. “I Just Want to Feel Good” just sounds like a continuation and vice versa. You listen to the center and to “Backwards Spring,” it ends on a big E major chord, and then all of a sudden you flip your record, and “Honest Liar” kicks in with the drum machine, and all of a sudden the song has an E chord too. It’s musical, but it’s also emotional. There’s feelings in it that link.

It’s a journey, man. If you could get all your friends to just sit down and listen to an album all the way through, it’s a success. If you can get a group of people to sit down, and have a beverage or without talking, or you’re just being able to comment on any record. “Blood On The Tracks” is one of my favorite records of all time, and I can listen to that record front to back every single day on my life, because it really is front to back. It encapsulates that part of Dylan’s life. All the classics. “Harvest” by Neil Young. I mean, that is front to back! You’re like, “Fuck, man!” Those are all records that you really can just get through. I really especially like that new The War on Drugs record, “Deeper Understanding.” That record… Oh my God! It’s like you get all the good feelings of Dylan and all of the while, beautiful sounds and crazy explorative stuff, but at the core of it all, it’s this emotion that carries through that entire record, and you can listen to it front to back, and by the end of it, it’s one single unit. It could be 30 songs, but it’s one single thing.

TrunkSpace: And a lot of that has sort of been lost. We’re in a singles culture right now, and while those singles might work individually, you could put them all on a Greatest Hits album and they just wouldn’t feel like they belong together.
Abney: Exactly, and that’s another thing. The whole Spotify… the paradigm shift into just streaming. I don’t think physical media is going to die, but I feel like we’re going to lose interest in what physical media once stood for, and that was a book that you can’t tear one chapter out of, and immediately get the full flavor of the book. I can’t open my copy of “A Moveable Feast,” and then rip out the final chapter and say, “I get this book.” Oh gosh, my brain is just mush.

TrunkSpace: And with music, yes, you don’t need a physical product to hear it, but sometimes you need to hold the album to feel it… to cement yourself in that moment of listening to it.
Abney: Oh, without a doubt, and that’s the kind of stuff that sticks with you. If you have a playlist, or a song on Spotify, amazing, but that one song is among a bunch of other, real great songs, but everything seems so disparate. It seems scattered. It seems like you can’t fully understand the emotion of a whole body of work by taking one song. Spotify is a great discovery tool, but to have an album, to look at the photos and watch the cover get beat up and then slide in the warping vinyl… or a CD, or a tape… it’s the little things that make that one piece of art. It just grows with you, man.

TrunkSpace: Is this why you chose to self-produce “Safe Passage,” to put this kind of care into the exploration of the songs beyond the songs themselves?
Abney: Yes. With my past three full lengths, I’ve produced all three. John Moreland has been a friend of mine for a long time, and when I was doing my first LP, which is going to stay out of print, but we did it in 2014 or 2013 at Tiny Telephone in San Francisco. We were all just younger then, so we could make 24 hour drives in one day, and John Moreland and I, and my buddy Kyle, we all just drove to San Francisco. We all just packed up our trucks, and just drove to San Francisco and made a record, and John helped me produce it because I didn’t have a lot of experience doing anything outside of my bedroom tape machine. At that point in my life, I had worked on probably 20 records, but I didn’t have enough experience producing a record. Now I’ve been in a situation where I’ve worked with so many producers, and so many artists on so many records, that I’ve developed my own way of going about working on the arrangements of songs, and the placement of songs, and the way a song should or shouldn’t breathe, where it should be.

TrunkSpace: Does songwriter John ever butt heads with producer John in terms of what you want creatively and what you want technically?
Abney: Oh hell yeah. I’ve been in the studio before, and I’ve been arranging the tune – I like to do full band live recording – and I’ll be sitting there and I’ll look at the lyrics sheet and I will just cross out an entire verse that I love right off the page and say, “All right, you guys after the second verse, we’re going to do a chorus, and then instead of a third verse, we’re just going to do half a solo, and then we’re going to go right into a double chorus.” And that verse will disappear into my books, and maybe I’ll use it for something else, if there’s an emotion or a feeling that I want to convey in another song or in a piece of prose or something, and I’ll save that for later in my curious box of wayward songs.

Safe Passage” is available now on Black Mesa Records.

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