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Musical Mondaze

Exclusive Premiere: Dirty Mae’s Brown Water

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TrunkSpace Exclusive Premiere
Dirty Mae’s “Brown Water”

“’Brown Water’ is a song written by the three of us in reaction to the contaminated water in Flint, Michigan. The chorus, ‘I told you not to drink that water’ is a play on Pandora’s box. The water is the box. Our curiosity and innovation of dangerous technologies is quenching and comfortable, but eventually makes us sick. 

“Water is our most essential resource. That’s why we chose it for our imagery. We wanted water to be a symbol for something that is most essential to humans. What’s also essential to humans is our desire to defy nature for our own comfort. This essence of humanity is captured through the imagery of brown contaminated water. Water is so essential to humanity but what’s also essential, is contaminating it. Water is a double edge sword. 

‘Brown Water’ has a hopeful funky hook at the beginning with a jazzy sax intro but shifts to a more melancholy place when the verses start. We did this because the content of lyrics are more serious. The lyrics are about what the earth would tell us if it could talk now. The instrumentation and melody at the beginning give you a nostalgic feeling as if the earth misses how things used to be. Then the chorus hits and has a stronger more powerful feeling, less melancholic and more angry. The song builds and builds until it hits a climax with Ben [Curtis’s] screaming vocals and distorted guitar. There’s a pause and then an arpeggiating piano that starts a whole new build through the chorus. Each time through the chorus we add a new vocal harmony until we hit another climax. One can imagine thunder and waves. Then to end it, we go back the funky more uplifting intro because we like happy endings and like to imagine there’s still a chance to take care of this planet.” – Robbie Frost of Dirty Mae

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Musical Mondaze

Dry Cleaning

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Press release embellishment or not, Dry Cleaning’s karaoke moment still played a hand in their inception as a band, though most of the credit belongs to the mutual excitement the group of “best friends” get from writing and creating together.

Certainly I’ve learned a lot from working with these people, the way they are so thoughtful and sensitive and definitely the way they make a positive atmosphere to work in – that’s really inspiring to me,” states founding member Tom Dowse in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Dowse to discuss the future of future recordings, their creative ruthlessness, and opening up a line of communication with the listener.

TrunkSpace: From what we’re told, Dry Cleaning owes much of its existence to karaoke. Can you walk us through how a chance get-together with microphones ultimately lead to where you are today, with a new EP out in the world?
Dowse: Well, that’s a bit of a press release embellishment. Nick (Buxton), Lewis (Maynard) and I were doing karaoke for mine and Nick’s girlfriends and we did Minerva. It was just a lol but we said we should do a band after. To be honest, we had already talked about making music together before for a while, in various iterations.

TrunkSpace: The band wrote and recorded the songs on “Sweet Princess” before ever playing a live show. Because of that, do you feel like these songs are better suited for the studio or did they transfer to the stage seamlessly?
Dowse: The main goal of the band was to be a good live band so they were written with playing them live at the front of all our minds so, yes, was seamless.

TrunkSpace: These songs have been with Dry Cleaning for a while now. Do you feel like, creatively, the band has already moved on from them? Is the songwriting different today than it was when these tracks were being given life?
Dowse: I suppose we do, yes, but still enjoy playing them live a lot. We’ve got a new recording already done and have started writing even more new stuff so mixing those songs with new ones gives them new life. I think the songwriting process is the same, fundamentally. The only differences are that we are looking to throw different things into the mix and see what comes out the other side.

TrunkSpace: There’s an interesting description in the band’s bio that we found fascinating. “Anything unnecessary was to be left behind.” As you ventured on your path creating what you describe as “simple music,” did it require reminding along the way to not get lost in the process and tinker too much? Is it possible for an artist to tweak a piece of work so much that the original energy that created it is wiped from the final result?
Dowse: Yes, I think there has always been an emphasis on minimalism and making sure nothing superfluous is added. It’s a process of refinement that comes about naturally from playing songs a lot at practice, record them, listen to them at work, play them again, etc. I’m sure it’s very easy to lose the original energy of a thing by tinkering, absolutely, it happens all the time. We’re quite ruthless and don’t worry about that when it happens, just move on and come back to it later.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular feeling you get – a vibe – when you finish a song and you know that it is as perfect as you could make it?
Dowse: I wouldn’t say we ever strive for perfection and are only really looking for that excitement from each other when we know we’re onto something. It’s a sort of group instinct and we trust it.

TrunkSpace: What could someone learn about the band in sitting down to listen to “Sweet Princess” as a whole? What does it say about Dry Cleaning right now in 2019?
Dowse: That’s a tricky question, I wouldn’t say we’re trying to teach anything. If anything I hope it says that this is music that is pleasurable to listen to that rewards repeated listens, something you feel you can invest in as a listener and you can be part of. The line of communication between us and the listener is as direct as we can make it.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Dowse: Creating something with my best friends and seeing them be as excited by it as I am.

Photo By: Hanna-Katrina Jedrosz

TrunkSpace: What do you get out of being in a band, and Dry Cleaning in particular, that you can’t achieve as a solo artist. Does the creativity of the rest of the group inspire your own creativity?
Dowse: Being in Dry Cleaning has become a really important part of our lives, there is something going on every day at the moment and so we are sharing this moment together, that’s so nice! When you’re solo, I would say that you get everything you’re own way, which is great if you have a strong vision of what you want but you are rarely as surprised as often as you are in a band. Someone will chuck something in or comment on something you’re doing and it’ll really push you further than you might have alone. Both are equally valid ways of working. Certainly I’ve learned a lot from working with these people, the way they are so thoughtful and sensitive and definitely the way they make a positive atmosphere to work in – that’s really inspiring to me!

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?
Dowse: There is that phrase, “If you can’t please the many, delight the few!” I don’t know if I could make the choice to be honest. You have to just make what’s in you to make, when you get that group vibe that it’s right and make the best creative decisions you can at that moment. How the world responds to it is out of your hands and I’d happily accept both those outcomes.

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
Dowse: No, I wouldn’t. I’ve seen and read too much science fiction to dabble with the dangers inherent in time travel.

Sweet Princess” is available now on It’s OK.

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Musical Mondaze

Jason Hawk Harris

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Photo By: Sean Rosenthal

It’s hard to imagine that completing an album – especially one as visceral and as mesmerizing as “Love & the Dark” – could be both a triumphant celebration and a realization of loss, but for singer-songwriter Jason Hawk Harris, there was a lot of pain in seeing his creative vision come to life. Surrounded by sorrow and haunted by personal demons, the founding member of The Show Ponies put all of himself into his country-influenced solo debut, and he knows there isn’t any looking back.

I’ve had a few moments in the last few months where I’ve thought, ‘Do I really want all these people to know this much about me,’” he says in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “I’ve come to the conclusion that this is just what I do, whether I like it or not.”

We recently sat down with Harris to discuss regulating artistic urges, not becoming a country caricature, and why his baggage will never crush him.

TrunkSpace: You went through a lot personally in seeing “Love & the Dark” become a reality. With everything that you’ve endured throughout the process, are there parts of you that wish this music didn’t have to exist in its current form? As an artist, are there days where you would have preferred there had been more “Love” to write about and less “Dark?”
Jason Hawk Harris: Hindsight is 20/20, so I think I look back on what’s happened now and see this beautiful mess that led to a record that couldn’t have existed without it. But when you’re in the shit, you certainly don’t want that stuff to be happening. So I guess the answer to your question is both yes and no.

TrunkSpace: How has expressing yourself through songwriting changed you as a person? Did the creative journey of “Love & the Dark” alter your way of thinking and how you looked at the world?
Jason Hawk Harris: Songs take on a life of their own after you’ve relinquished your grip on them and send them off into the world. That said, I don’t know if it’s the actual songwriting that changes me, or if my songwriting is just me documenting the changes that have happened as a result of the traumas and triumphs of my life.

TrunkSpace: The album will be released on August 23. With such a personal connection to the songs on “Love & the Dark,” what type of emotions are you juggling with as you gear up to release it into the world?
Jason Hawk Harris: There’s some really personal stuff on this record. I’ve had a few moments in the last few months where I’ve thought, “Do I really want all these people to know this much about me?” I’ve come to the conclusion that this is just what I do, whether I like it or not. I write as honestly as I can, because I’m trying to be honest with myself. My hope is that it helps people be honest with themselves too. That’s what my favorite lyricists do for me.

TrunkSpace: Is there ever a fear as a songwriter and artist that you are putting too much of yourself into a song? Does a part of you ever want to be more guarded in the process?
Jason Hawk Harris: Yes. In fact, I’ve had a number of moments where I go to my wife and say, “Hey, is this too personal?” And sometimes the answer is, in fact, YES. “Yes, Jason, it’s too fucking personal,” she’ll say, except she doesn’t like the F word. I shudder to know what I would’ve put out into the world if I didn’t have her to help regulate some of my more uninhibited artistic urges.

TrunkSpace: What would someone learn about you – both as a person and as an artist – in sitting down to listen to “Love & the Dark” in its entirety?
Jason Hawk Harris: That I’m sad in spite of the fact that I’m almost recklessly hopeful. I’ve got a lot of baggage, but I’m not worried about it crushing me.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Jason Hawk Harris: I don’t think I’ll ever write another song like “The Smoke and the Stars.” I don’t think it will be the song that connects with people the most, but I don’t think I’ve ever combined all my sensibilities into one song like I did with that one.

TrunkSpace: For years country music has had a very slick, pop-influenced spin that has turned it into much more of mainstream genre, but many artists like Sarah Shook, Joshua Hedley and yourself are bringing an old-school feel, which is making it fresh in a totally nostalgic way. Is your overall sound something that you set out to create or was it a natural transition when you ventured into a solo career?
Jason Hawk Harris: It was natural. Traditional country music lines my oldest memories. It’s the sound of my childhood. I’m influenced by a lot more than just country, so a lot more slips in, but I hope I’m respecting the traditions of the genre as best I can. I feel like a lot of mainstream country artists are making a caricature of country music that misses the mark. Even though I’m slipping in and out of country music on this record and in most of my music, I make it a priority not to do that.

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?
Jason Hawk Harris: The second verse of “Phantom Limb.”

It’s coming in waves, it’s numb in between
When I’m not crying I can’t feel a thing.
And the air gets so thin, I breathe what I can.
Then blow out the smoke, that laughs as it floats
And waves like a flag. I wish you’d come back.

I like it because I really don’t know what the smoke is doing at the end of the verse, but it manages to be perfectly evocative of the larger theme of the song. This is what I’m always trying to do, but it only comes along every now and then. I just hope I catch it when it does.

TrunkSpace: What would 12-year-old Jason think of your musical journey thus far? Would he be surprised by the path you have taken?
Jason Hawk Harris: Well… He’d be surprised I was playing country music or at least country-influenced music. Twelve-year-old Jason really loved Queen, so ultimately I think he’d be disappointed with the fact that there aren’t more contrapuntal harmonized guitar solos than anything.

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?
Jason Hawk Harris: No way. I’m doing this thing where I’m trying to live day-to-day, where I’m kind to myself and I don’t beat me up. Seeing 10 years of mistakes all at once might send me to an early grave. I like today. Today is good. I can handle today. I can’t handle 10 years, five years, one year, one month or even one day from now, but I know I can handle today.

Love & the Dark” is available August 23 from Bloodshot Records.

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Musical Mondaze

Nels Andrews

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Nels Andrews has always been chasing stories, but it wasn’t until his early 20s that he began to tell those tales through music. Now on the cusp of releasing his latest album, “Pigeon & the Crow,” he’s reflecting on his own journey with us in ways that he never expected.

Wow, this interview is a therapy session, this is great,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Andrews to discuss releasing a record independently in 2019, the Bruce Springsteen effect, and how his music became married to a comic book.

TrunkSpace: You’ve had an interesting journey as a songwriter, particularly in how you first started traversing your artistic path. Do you feel like music came into your life at the right time for the right reasons? Would you be a different person today if music wasn’t your focus?
Andrews: I’ve always been chasing stories but didn’t have anywhere to put them down. Music had been in my life since elementary school plunking through the Beatles songbook, but creating music started when I was something of an early-20s hermit out in Taos, NM. Moving down to Albuquerque with those songs brought me to interact more with others, pulling on the extrovert in me. As that early 20s guy would point out, I’m a Leo.

If I hadn’t started writing and playing out I probably would’ve gone back to Taos and been a woodworker, which is something else I’d started. Or gone off chasing more stories.

TrunkSpace: How has expressing yourself through songwriting changed you as a person? Did it alter your way of thinking and how you looked at the world?
Andrews: When I was a kid I was diagnosed with all sorts of learning disorders. The stories and words are all floods in me but can be tricky to pull out in clear lines. Songwriting allows me to take the time to do that at my own pace.

I’ve also recently taken up photography, which keeps all the words out of the picture entirely, as it were.

TrunkSpace: You’re set to release your new album “Pigeon & the Crow” on August 9. What type of emotions do you juggle with as you gear up to release new material into the world?
Andrews: Wow, this interview is a therapy session, this is great.

Excitement, curiosity to see how this longstanding project of mine lands with the people who listen to it, also some panic and overwhelm – the giant set of organized and interlocking tasks which is independently releasing a record in 2019 is way more complicated than writing a baker’s dozen songs. Maybe the Dutch or the German have a word for “fear of unsold units” or its cousin, “dusty boxes of merch in the shed.” Or maybe this millennium’s compound word would have something to do with the professional (rather than the social) fear of not getting enough likes to be competitive in your market. That whole part is pretty awful.

The creative songwriting part feels exhilarating, satisfying, toothy.

TrunkSpace: What would someone learn about you – both as a person and as an artist – in sitting down to listen to “Pigeon & the Crow” in its entirety?
Andrews: That I’m a middle-aged guy who has been watching and listening to the glances I’ve gotten of the world for a while, that maybe in another dimension I’m writing short stories. That I love Bruce Springsteen, that I’ve learned the importance of some sway, some rhythm.

TrunkSpace: From what we read, you’ve been working on the songs for this album over the course of the past few years. That’s a long time for someone in terms of personal growth and change. Is that time and how it impacted you reflective in the songwriting? Can you hear the differences between the Nels at the start of this journey and the Nels nearest to where we are today?
Andrews: Nels at the beginning was feeling a little done with the music business (never the music); we can see that in the ‘mid-careers themes’ in some of the songs. Nels nearest to now is somehow refreshed with wistful resolve.

But also the way I write the songs is very long and interwoven – many of the songs I started five years ago and returned to intermittently and finished one or two years ago, before recording them. So my then-self and my now-self all get to show up in the songs.

TrunkSpace: The album was recorded in a studio originally built for Sam Cooke. Can a space and the creative energy that lives within it impact an artist? Does the history of a studio trickle into what you’re doing in the present day?
Andrews: It certainly felt like it there; I felt like I was sleeping amongst the ghosts who had been there before. The bassist on the album, Sebastian Steinberg, knew a little about forensics and was able to determine that a suspicious stain on the wall was almost definitely not evidence of brutal murder. There were all sorts of groovy and mysterious vibes, hopefully some of which imbued into the rhythm section. And also just the folks who’ve recorded there since (Lord Huron, Soul Coughing)… it was just neat to be there where they’d done their thing.

TrunkSpace: There is a lot of wordplay in your songwriting… lines that stand out and stay with the listener. What is a line off of “Pigeon & the Crow” that you are particularly proud of and why?
Andrews: Well, there’s one that’s a double (triple?) reference, in “Memory Compass,” which is a song that takes place at the slow dawn ending of beach bonfire, there’s the line ‘in a baritone whisper, someone sang thunder road, caught your eye on the chorus, we’re all singing for the lonely alone’ – so that’s a reference to Bruce Springsteen who is referencing Roy Orbison. Not unlike a line earlier in that song, about mirrors in other mirrors.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Andrews: The collaborative elements – whether it be with words/song/images that I put together with Mike Bencze (see answer below), or the international words and images ‘libraries and bookshops’ tour I’m looking forward to doing with UK singer-songwriter Jess Morgan, or just all of the collaboration with so many artists from around the world from so many musical backgrounds who played on the album.

TrunkSpace: Can you tell us a little bit about the comic book that you created as a companion piece to the album and how the concept came together?
Andrews: This song is what’s called a supernatural ballad – which is a song that’s telling a specific story involving something magical, a transformation. In this case, of a young girl who fed a crow who brought back small treasures for the girl (this really happened – see the news stories from the early aughts). In the song, the girl shapeshifts, as does the crow; it’s a love story. I was telling the story to my friend Mike, who is an illustrator, and he wanted to draw it. And thus our ‘graphic novella’ became. Also, it was fantastic because the collaboration was supported by the arts council wanting to support local artists, so we were also able to join a new part of the Santa Cruz arts community.

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?
Andrews: First I think there’s a difference between looking at where my career will be, and where my music will be. Those could be two different questions.

I wouldn’t want to look ahead because I want to stay curious and be in the moment. I don’t want to write songs for that future place. I want to be finding my way there, artistically, in the next set of things that present themselves. When you only have the answers to the long division problem… you can’t see the work.

Pigeon & the Crow” is available August 9.

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Musical Mondaze

States & Capitals

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For Richie Arthur, who grew up on a steady musical diet of everything from John Mayer to Guns N’ Roses, maintaining a sound that was distinct to his own while paying homage to his influences was very important. For his new project States & Capitals, which is set to drop its debut album “The Feelings LP” on August 2, he labored over what that meant sonically until he had an artistic epiphany.

At first I thought it was something you had to work on, but I definitely found, over time, you’ve just got to make music,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “Just go out and do it and it’ll all come as you go.”

We recently sat down with Arthur to discuss wearing multiple hats in the studio, tinkering with songs, and why he hopes listeners will feel everything he felt when writing “The Feelings LP.”

TrunkSpace: Your debut album, “The Feelings LP,” is due out August 2. What kind of emotions are you juggling with as you lead up to its release, especially knowing that this might be the first impression that people have of the music and the band in general?
Arthur: A lot of different ones. Very exciting. It’s the first album that I’ve done that’s full length and as well as producing myself. So, it’s very exciting… very scary. It’s been a lot of different emotions. There’s very, very low moments and very high moments. We’re on tour right now and we’re playing the two new songs that are out (and one that’s not out yet) on that record, and the reaction has been great. So, it’s slowly but surely becoming more exciting than scary. And I’m thinking, as we get closer, it’ll be a lot more exciting.

TrunkSpace: Did musician Richie and producer Richie ever butt heads? Did you ever have moments where you wanted something creatively but maybe you knew you couldn’t pull it off production wise?
Arthur: For sure. There was because, like I said, I’m fairly new to production and there was a lot of… I heard a lot of a live feel too it, and I kind of had to reel it back in and just remember that it’s all about the song on the record. When you go live, you can do all of that stuff. You can show it off live. But on the record I had to channel the very simple and just simplify everything to get the song across and make sure the words are pinpoint. There was definitely moments like that, but I found myself, towards the end, enjoying the production side a lot more because, like I said, the live thing is so much fun, but I’d never actually sat there and did the studio thing all by myself.

So, I learned a lot by going through that process and trying to figure out how to keep that live feel and show it off as much as you can without taking anything away from the song.

TrunkSpace: Did you get bitten by the bug in terms of wanting to be on the production side more, perhaps even for other artists?
Arthur: Oh, yeah. Definitely. Definitely. That’s something I’ve always wanted to get into. I think that’s something that I will definitely get into down the road. I’ve talked to a few buddies about doing it. It’s nothing I ever actually set in stone. I’m very focused on my project and making this go, but it opened up a whole new world for me, and the ideas that it gave for the future, I’m very excited for. So, I’m thinking within the next year or two, once I kind of settle with the project, I could try to get in with some other guys and try to produce other music and write other music for other people. It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned trying to find the balance between the live sound and that crispness of making sure every word hits when you’re recording. Now that you’ve wrapped production and there’s some separation with it, do you feel like you’ve accomplished everything that you wanted to when you set out to make the album?
Arthur: Yeah, I do. With this one it was cool because I wrote a couple of the songs, like two years ago when I was living in LA… three years ago when I was there… and then, towards the end, some of the songs I wrote right before the album, so it was cool to kind of just take that and really get them to where they needed to be without making it so bandy. It was cool to just kind of take the time and really figure that out.

TrunkSpace: Is it difficult to sort of put a stamp on a song and call it a wrap? Does it get to the point where you can almost tinker too much with them?
Arthur: Yeah, definitely. I’ve done that too. I forget what song it was… I’d have to really go back because like I said, they’ve been going through the process… but there’s been tunes that were completely different because I went so far with them. And it was just to the point where it was so just not a song anymore. I literally stripped them down and redid them. So, you can definitely go too far. I think I finally found the balance of knowing when the song was done. You kind of listen back and nothing really stands out. You kind of just listen to it and jam, which I did with the other ones, but then I’m like, “Oh…” after a couple minutes, “…what if I do this?” You just watch yourself go up that mountain. You definitely need to try to find that balance of, yes, it could use something else but it doesn’t need it. But then there are times where it needs it. You’ve got to try things. And again, if you push it too far, you just go back and try again.

TrunkSpace: Well, and the songs have to live with you for a long time. You’re going to be performing them, so you have to be invested in them. You still have to feel that drive to want spend time with those songs.
Arthur: Exactly. You need that feeling. Every song, for me at least, with this album, is like you need to feel where I was coming from when writing them, rather than when I went in and actually recorded the song. I definitely made sure I kept that ground of, “All right, this is a song that I wrote, it needs to get across, have some cool sounds here, has some cool sounds there, show the melody off a little bit here, but don’t take away from that this is the song that I wrote and this is from me and within me, and this is something that’s always going to be a part of me.” You’ve got to keep that and show that and make it you. You don’t want to push something too hard and then a year from now just feel like you never even did it.

TrunkSpace: What can someone learn about you both as a musician and as a person in listening to the album in its entirety?
Arthur: Well, I think a big thing for me is I have such a love for all different music – stuff that my parents grew up on, and stuff that I grew up on. I try to keep every song influence that I’ve ever had in my life within my music. So, I think that you can kind of learn just the amount of music that I’ve tried throughout my career. I’m only 22 now, but I’ve been making music since I was like seven, seriously too… professionally. And so, I’ve gone through a lot of different trials and error. I’ve been in straight up rock bands. I’ve been in straight up pop punk bands. I’ve been in straight up cover bands. And I’ve done all the old covers, ’80s to today’s music, like Bieber. All that stuff. So, I think you can kind of learn all the music that I’ve kind of channeled throughout the years to get me to this project. And I’m really proud of where I brought this project now. I think it’s definitely the furthest that I’ve ever gone. And I just think it’s so cool that I hear where my John Mayer influence is, and I hear where my Guns N’ Roses influence is, and I hear where my Boys Like Girls influence is. I just try to keep it all in. I don’t try to just put everything to bed. I try to keep a little bit of everything throughout my life within my music.

TrunkSpace: And you’re right, you can’t hear those influences, but at the same time, your sound is unique to you. Was that overall vibe something you set out to create or did it just come natural?
Arthur: Well, at first it was something I thought you had to work on really hard and I kept failing. I took like two or three years there where I just didn’t put out anything because I was trying to, like I said, keep all my influences but make my own sound. And I kind of learned within time, it’s natural. Even this album, I wasn’t intending on it being an album, I was just making songs. And then I was like, “Well, it all fits. It’s all my own thing.” And every time I listen to it it’s like, I can tell it’s States & Capitals. It came naturally for sure. At first I thought it was something you had to work on, but I definitely found, over time, you’ve just got to make music. Just go out and do it and it’ll all come as you go.

The Feelings LP” is due August 2 via JIRNY. Tour dates are available here.

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Musical Mondaze

The Dollyrots

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Sadness. Regret. Contemplation. Happiness.

These were just a few of the ingredients that went into making The Dollyrots seventh studio album, “Daydream Explosion,” which is set for release on July 12 via Wicked Cool Records. For bassist and frontwoman Kelly Ogden (one half of the punk-pop duo that also features her husband Luis Cabezas), the record was a difficult one to make as she looked to find her creative footing amidst personal tragedy, but in the end, she believes that the songs speak for themselves.

I honestly, truly… and I know that people always say this… but I do think it’s our best work yet,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Ogden to discuss keeping it fresh, creating something outside of themselves, and finding time to write when life has other ideas.

TrunkSpace: “Daydream Explosion” will be the seventh full-length for The Dollyrots. Are there still firsts for you each time you head into the studio or hit the road?
Ogden: For sure. I mean, honestly, this record feels kind of new in a lot of different ways. We released our first album on our own and got picked up by Lookout! Records, so we did the label thing and then our next two were on Blackheart Records, and then we started the DIY route. So, we’ve been releasing our records through crowdsource campaigns for the past, I think, five albums. We started this one the same way. We did a pre-order through PledgeMusic and we were in a studio in Minnesota – which is also a first – Pachyderm Studios. It’s just this epic place outside of Minneapolis where some of our favorite 90s records were recorded. “In Utero,” for example. Some Babes in Toyland. Soul Asylum. Just some really, really awesome records. So, we were in the studio and we were ready to get started for the day and we get an email from Billboard, just being like, “Hey, you guys want to make a comment? Are you pulling your project from PledgeMusic or what?” And we were like, “What? What are you talking about? Our campaign is going great. No. What’s happening?” Because we had been in the studio for a week at that point, so we just were not really in the real world. So, at that point, we had to rethink how we were going to make this record and we had been doing it the same way for, like I said, the past five albums. We ended up having to pull the plug on our Pledge campaign, which, fortunately, happened before we had reached 100%, so our fans hadn’t been charged. We made out relatively unscathed, or, our fans made out unscathed. And then we just moved it over to a Shopify store where we were doing it and sent our roughs over to Wicked Cool Records, which is run by Little Steven of E Street Band. We were like, “Hey, you guys want to take a listen? What do you think? You think that we could get some airplay?” And they got back to us immediately and they were like, “Let’s just put it out on Wicked Cool.”

So, we’re in very new territory. We recorded in a snowstorm in Minnesota at Pachyderm Studio. Finally we’re putting it out with a record label, which we haven’t done in a really, really long time. It all feels kind of shiny and exciting. And musically, it’s definitely a bit of a different album, I think, for us.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned the history of Pachyderm. When you’re creating in a space like that, does it translate creatively to what you’re doing? Does it feel different being in a space where so many great people created?
Ogden: It does. I think it’s like when you go to your state capital building or you go into any sort of historic place. This is a rock and roll historic place. It still has a vibe and I think all the experiences that happen inside of a place, somehow there must be little bits and pieces still hanging out in some way. We couldn’t not acknowledge the fact that some of our favorite rock stars slept in the bedroom that we slept in, and swam in the pool drunk after their sessions at night, and made snacks in the same kitchen, and made epic records in that studio. So, it does bring something outside of ourselves when we go to different places. It was exciting for us. We’ve had the privilege of recording in a lot of really cool studios, but this one was one that we had wanted to go to since we were young kids learning how to play guitar, listening to all those bands’ records.

TrunkSpace: Do albums start to feel like chapters of your life, especially with seven under your belt? Does it feel like you’re looking back at yearbooks?
Ogden: It does, definitely. I go back and listen and I can remember the feeling of the songs, and what we were doing, and the shows that we were playing. I think, probably for fans, it’s the same way. When I listen to music from when I was 17 – which is all the time I will admit – it does make me remember the time back then. So, I think, as much as it is for me, I feel like it probably is for our fans too… just a way to kind of go back in time a little bit and remember how it used to feel.

The last few have been kind of wild for us because with “Barefoot and Pregnant” I was pregnant with our first kid. “Whiplash Splash,” I was pregnant with our second kid. This one, I am not pregnant. Woo-hoo. (Laughter)

But I do have a whole new life experience being a mother and we bring our little kids on tour. People say, “When you have kids you’re going to see life through their eyes.” It’s totally true. I was getting kind of sick of touring. It was just the same thing all the time. It was exhausting. We were drinking too much. I was just kind of feeling like it wasn’t positive in the ways that it used to be. I still loved getting to see all of our fans and I loved performing on stage, but it didn’t have the magic anymore that it had before we kind of burned ourselves into the ground for a while. So, now that we have kids, we tour in a different way and part of it is about sharing the experience with them and them getting to meet all of our friends across the States and England, even parts of Europe now. It definitely is a different experience.

And writing this record, for better or worse, was definitely a struggle in some ways and a gift in others. My dad passed away the week of Christmas. We had booked Pachyderm for the third week in January and Luis and I are very skilled procrastinators, so I think we had about seven songs under our belt and we wanted to have at least 18 demoed out and tracked before we got to the studio to finish working on them with our producer, John Fields. So, my dad died and he had been sick for a while, but we certainly weren’t expecting it right then. He had been doing really good. It was the holidays, and we went out to eat a couple days before and everything seemed okay. We had kind of planned on having that break, where we had extra help from the family and stuff to watch the kids to write this record, and that didn’t happen because I couldn’t really function. So we were definitely cramming. We have a studio in our backyard and we put the kids to bed, put the monitor on, and we would just come back here and pray for inspiration. We would just start playing. Luis would start playing something on the guitar, and I would just pray that a melody would pop into my head and then words, and somehow it did, over and over and over again. And I feel like the result is something that’s a little bit outside of ourselves. It’s outside of our normal lyrics and melody – just everything. I honestly, truly… and I know that people always say this… but I do think it’s our best work yet.

And I don’t think it’s our best work because it’s overcomplicated or we’re playing our best. I just think that the music is very inspired and it still has the same spirit that it should. It’s just really good.

TrunkSpace: Do you feel like part of that was because emotionally you were dealing with so much that the music kind of became an outlet, in a way?
Ogden: Yeah, I think it definitely did. Any time you have a life experience like that I think that you’re super tapped into your emotions. And it wasn’t that it was all sad emotions. It was a lot of happy emotions, some regretful emotions, and a lot of looking back and reliving great things too. It definitely did help.

I hope our next record will just be real boring, though. No birth. No death. Just a nice boring kids record or something. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You had “Whiplash Splash” drop in 2017. You put out an album with Jaret Reddick, “Sittin’ In A Tree,” earlier this year. And now you have “Daydream Explosion” coming out in less than a month. If you look at the last few years as a whole, has this been a particularly fertile year for songwriting for you?
Ogden: Yeah, I think so. Because Luis is my husband and my band mate, for us I feel like before we had kids we thought that we were busy. And now that we have kids, we realize how precious time is and how little time we have to sit and ponder a guitar melody or a word in a phrase of a song. I think now we move more quickly and with purpose. We don’t have time to overthink anymore. I did that record with Jaret and it was the same thing. We just wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and when we felt like there were enough songs, then we went for it and recorded them. But, there isn’t a whole lot of second guessing or pondering at this point in life, it’s just a lot of forward movement because it has to be.

TrunkSpace: Has the focus or inspiration of your writing changed since having kids? Do you find yourself going, “Okay, they’re really going to dig this song,” and move forward with something that you maybe wouldn’t have prior to being a mother?
Ogden: I think not so much in the writing yet because when Luis and I write… we’ve been together since we were 17, so a lot of our writing still stems from our youthful love. I don’t really know how else to say it. Maybe it could also be called immature and codependent. (Laughter) That’s what we have to write with. Yeah, we’re parents now and all that, but when we get to do music it’s when we really get to be ourselves together again without the kids.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned your youthful love. Do you believe in creative soulmates and is that how it is for you and Luis where there is a connection on an artistic level as well?
Ogden: I think Luis and I were both artistic as teenagers. We both were painting all the time and we both did a lot of writing. We were good students too. We ended up going to school for science, but we went to a liberal arts school that was very artistic based. And I think both of us love music and art and all those things. That said, we do create awesome art together, but it’s not easy. I would say it’s one of the more difficult parts of our relationship, I think, because it’s hard. It’s hard to do. We’ve written with outside writers here and there. When we were on Blackheart Records, after “Because I’m Awesome” came out, there’s that whole pressure because it was like, “’Because I’m Awesome’ is almost a hit – almost a Top 40 radio hit. Next record, you’re going to do it!” And so we wrote with all these people and that was a different experience because it was like a person in there with the two of us. But not until I started writing with Jaret Reddick on the duets album had I just written songs with somebody not Luis in the room. And that was really, really easy. Jaret and I have been friends for over a decade now. Luis and I lived on tour buses with Bowling for Soup for a lot of those touring years there. So, he’s kind of like a brother. He’s definitely one of my best friends in the world and I think because there is no personal baggage and all the history and all of the things like, “Well, I need to make lunch for tomorrow, I need to go clean up dinner, I need to switch the laundry over,” I’m not thinking about those things when I’m writing with Jaret. But when Luis and I write together it’s like our whole life is still in the room. It’s not really an outlet, so it is kind of difficult. I think some of our biggest fights have been around songwriting.

TrunkSpace: Because it’s tough to turn off life, right? You can’t flick that switch.
Ogden: Yeah. And some days I just really don’t feel like doing it either, but we have to push each other and try and get each other to that place. And Luis, he’s definitely the more aggressive component of The Dollyrots and so he likes to get a little bit more amped up in his writing and that is not the way I like to write. I like it to be easy, cool, natural, floating down from the ether. So, we do butt heads sometimes depending on the style of song that we’re writing. If we’re writing more aggressive songs, like “City of Angels,” he’s like, “You’re softening it. You’re softening it. I want it to be this.” So, that is a struggle.

TrunkSpace: When all is said and done and you hang up your bass guitar, what do you hope your legacy is? What do you want to be remembered for musically?
Ogden: Definitely a girl onstage with an instrument playing music that is not a terrible influence. I hope that I inspire people to do something artistic, whether they’re kids or grownups. I’ve had a lot of adults say, “I feel like without seeing you up there, I wouldn’t have tried to learn an instrument.” And I’m like, “You can do it. It’s not hard. Learn our songs. You can totally do this.” So, I just really want people to feel encouraged to try and find a way to have an outlet. And more than anything, our music is just there to make people feel better. We’re political people. We are deep people, emotionally, but we try to keep the music in a place where you can listen to it and it can make you feel better. If you really want to look deeply into our lyrics then it can make you feel terrible too, but at least on the surface we want to be a feelgood thing in people’s lives and so we try and keep it at that.

Daydream Explosion” drops July 12 on Wicked Cool Records. Their latest single, “I Know How to Party” is available now.

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Musical Mondaze

Edan Archer

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It’s not always easy for an artist to find their place in the universe. They create, but at the same time, can’t help but wonder for what purpose, and, if the artistic contributions they’re making will leave their mark. For singer-songwriter Edan Archer, this is an internal struggle that she can’t help return to as she gears up to release her latest album, “Journey Proud,” set to drop on August 2.

I think someone’s art is kind of like their face – some may find it pleasing, some may not, some prefer different features, but we can’t always change our face to match what people like,” she shares in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Archer to discuss journey-prouding, the impact of a space on a recording, and why the life of an independent artist can take its toll.

TrunkSpace: You’re set to release your new album, “Journey Proud,” on August 2. What emotions do you juggle with as you prepare to unleash new material onto the world?
Archer: I think the most common emotion is the feeling of worthiness, and wondering if what I’m contributing to the community is ‘good enough.’ Those feelings can be paralyzing for an artist, both while they’re creating art and while they’re releasing it to the world, and I think it’s important to work on compartmentalizing. I think someone’s art is kind of like their face – some may find it pleasing, some may not, some prefer different features, but we can’t always change our face to match what people like. We can just try to accept what we are and what we produce, and keep trying to improve.

TrunkSpace: Playing off the title of the album… what are you most proud of by way of your journey in bringing “Journey Proud” into existence?
Archer: I’m a bit hesitant about the album title because I know a lot of people will interpret the “proud” in the traditional sense, where I’m actually using a more archaic and idiosyncratic interpretation to mean is less self-congratulatory. The feeling of being journey-proud used to refer to being so nervous and excited about a venture or trip that it was hard to sleep or even to eat. It’s that feeling a kid might have the day before they go on vacation, or soon after arriving, where you just can’t go to sleep yet because you’re still going on adrenaline and still journey-proud from traveling. I’ve since discovered that it’s an obscure phrase that I’ll likely spend a lot of time explaining! (Laughter) But that’s okay. For me, it refers to the feeling of creating something and embarking on a trip that lasts a lifetime, that of being a musician. The ultimate destination is a place inside myself, where I approach the “journey” or “work” of life with a happy heart and am not dissuaded by the challenges I might encounter.

TrunkSpace: The album was recorded at two different studios, Atomic Sound in Brooklyn, NY and Magnetic Sound in Nashville, Tennessee. Does a space play into how you can feel and emote when laying down tracks? Do the surroundings impact the music itself?
Archer: The space definitely affects the feel and sound of the recordings. The New York sessions had a New York band, and we all went in together and laid down six songs in three days, which was a lot for us, considering we hadn’t played together before. There was some work done with tempos and vibes, and the fact that there was a big room where we could all see each other through our various isolation booths meant that we could really play ‘together.’ Some of the vocals are done live, and some were done quickly, while the rest of the band took a break. Atomic Sound is an amazing space that has a lot of rock cred, and it was an honor to record there.

The Nashville sessions came later when I realized I wanted to release a full album instead of an EP. So I found a sweet, chill spot and was really able to take my time and kind of add to the songs the way I wanted. The Nashville players were also fantastic and really nailed the honky-tonk vibe, and the studio felt like a second home where I brought my dog and just got into a relaxed space. I think the album sounds cohesive and that the songs go together, but I can also feel the different energies between the two sessions.

TrunkSpace: For first-time listeners, what would they learn about you as a person and as an artist in sitting down to listen to “Journey Proud” in its entirety?
Archer: Hmmm… I think a few things are quite clear from the album. It’s apparent that I feel things deeply, and more strongly than I would like to. That’s something I struggle with. It’s clear that I’ve had troubles with love, with alcohol, and with feelings of belonging in the world. I think a bit of my cheekiness comes across as well – I like to play and tease a bit – and I hope the listener would sense my honesty and find something similar to their life experiences, and maybe in the very least realize that other people experience those feelings too. I end the album with “Little Birds,” which is a more spiritual take on this life’s illusions and finding peace with the seemingly endless dissatisfaction of existence in the simplicity of nature. I think of it as a bit of a lullaby, after the journey of the album.

TrunkSpace: We love great lyrics here… the kind that linger in our heads for days after our first listen. What is a particular piece of writing from “Journey Proud” that you’re particularly happy with and why?
Archer: That’s a tricky one! So sometimes I might feel proud of a clever turn of phrase, that makes me seem smart or something. But the most meaningful and lasting are the lines that I feel describe simply and truthfully what I wanted to describe. A rhyme can make that more powerful, almost like a spell or an incantation, and our brain might hold onto it for longer. I’m not sure which lyric will resonate with listeners, it probably depends on what they’re going through and what they need to hear.

TrunkSpace: You grew up in a musical family. Do you think that your passion for music comes from the creative nurturing of your mother and father? Would you be writing, recording and performing today if it weren’t for your upbringing?
Archer: I think people with internal struggles, like my depression and anxiety, are often drawn to art as a way of processing the sensory input of life. It’s likely that I would have developed some form of creative expression – but I’m too clumsy to be a dancer and have the worst drawing skills ever, so I’m not sure! I do think that with so many distractions in life if a child isn’t raised around music, they are less likely to seek it out, and go through the frustrating aspects of actually learning to play. (Which isn’t fun at first!) I do think that growing up the way I did made it easy to seek out music when I needed it, and to apply my own creative impulses, and to continue in the musical tradition in which I was raised.

Photo By: Starr Sarriego/Hair & Makeup By: Luisa Franco

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Archer: The hardest thing for me is to justify spending my time and resources on what some may consider a trivial pursuit. The financial, emotional, and physical challenges of being an independent artist take a lot of courage to meet. I feel like people do have judgments about artists, and I internalize that and often judge myself harshly for the life I’ve chosen. I’ve chosen not to have children, and traveling takes me away from my family often at critical times, so those are all sacrifices I’ve made for abstraction and artistic fulfillment. If at the end of my life, someone asks me if it was worth it, I’d say I couldn’t even answer because what is “worth”? I’ve had to live according to my own little principles, and hope that I leave something meaningful behind.

TrunkSpace: What is the first song you ever wrote and do you, A.) still perform it, and B.) what did that song say about who you were at the time of its creation?
Archer: Good lord, no! (Laughter) The first song I wrote I was about four, and it was on the piano in the pentatonic scale… you know, the black keys. It had imagery I took from church and was about dying and being reincarnated. It was called “Pray My Life” and said, “Wave the palm over, for I once lived.” I do not play it but I still remember it because my family teases me about my seriousness and how I would sing that song but couldn’t pronounce my Rs.

TrunkSpace: Would 12-year-old Edan be surprised by the artist her future self has become?
Archer: I think the 12-year-old me would recognize myself completely. I still play guitar, write on the guitar and piano, I still have the same Appalachian, Irish and alt-rock motifs. I can still play a show all by myself, which just means that I keep my music pretty close to organic and to my original roots. I’m closer to where I started now than I was a few years ago, when I was still exploring jazz and Latin rhythms. In a way, I’ve come full circle. I think it was Picasso who said it took him a lifetime to paint like a child. I’m no Picasso, but I see a glimpse of what he means – to strip away all of our excess and pretense and come to the root of who we are. I’m trying for that now.

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?
Archer: I remind myself every day that I’m not doing what I’m doing because of any assumption of how I think my journey will end. I can only do what I feel overwhelmingly compelled to do, so that when I’m on my deathbed I know I tried to produce what I wanted to produce, and honored the bit of talent that the universe gave me. But hell, ask me again next week.

Journey Proud” drops August 2. Archer’s latest single, “Six Wing Angel,” is available now.

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Musical Mondaze

Jade Jackson

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Photo By: Matt Bizer

It’s comforting to think that we might have angels looking over us, fully prepared to step in and save us from the world and ourselves just as we’re about to teeter off of whatever ledge it is that we’re dangling from. Of course, that’s not reality, but for some, real-life angels do exist. Singer-songwriter Jade Jackson had one, and as it turned out, he looked a lot like punk rock legend and Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness.

In fact, it was Ness.

He showed up at just the right moment, swooping me away from the doubts depression was feeding my mind and helped me believe in my music again,” Jackson said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

Her latest album, “Wilderness,” was produced by Ness and is set to be released on June 28 from ANTI-.

We recently sat down with Jackson to discuss the power of vulnerability, overcoming her demons, and why being committed to your craft isn’t an easy task.

TrunkSpace: In sitting down to listen to your music for the first time, what do you think someone might learn about you?
Jackson: Songwriting is therapeutic for me. It’s where the energies stored inside get the chance to escape and change form. Being honest about my feelings is vulnerable and vulnerability gives people the opportunity to look into who I really am.

TrunkSpace: You first decided to pursue a career in music at just 13 years old! Would 13-year-old Jade be surprised by the artist you are today?
Jackson: No. 13-year-old me had a fire in her belly that propelled me in the direction leading to where I am now.

TrunkSpace: Part of that original spark to pursue music came about after seeing Social Distortion live. Years later, it would be frontman Mike Ness who helped kick-start the path that you’re currently on. For so many people, meeting their heroes ends in heartbreak, but for you, could there have been a more serendipitous journey from where you began to where you are now?
Jackson: It’s quite the serendipitous story, isn’t it? Mike and his music inspired me to pursue my passion tirelessly. Him reaching out to work with me helped keep my dreams alive during a very dark season in my life. He showed up at just the right moment, swooping me away from the doubts depression was feeding my mind and helped me believe in my music again.

TrunkSpace: Ness has put out some amazing solo albums with a hard-crashing country twang, including one or our favorites, “Cheating at Solitaire,” released in 1999. How much did he influence your own sound, which itself has that prairie punk vibe that we can’t get enough of?
Jackson: Mike and I have the same country heroes. We bond in our love for George Jones, Buck Owens and Johnny Cash. “Cheating at Solitaire” is a brilliant work of art that’s influenced me on both a subconscious and conscious level.

TrunkSpace: Artists come and go. Some fade. Some burn out. That being said, Mike Ness has not only been active for decades, but he has been relevant as well. Did you take any advice from him, specifically about career longevity, that you’ll carry with you?
Jackson: Be patient. Be true to your art. Work hard, sweat and never stop. His career is a great model of what I want for my own. I think people underestimate the work that goes into records and touring. Mike works his ass off and cares deeply about every detail. Being that committed to your craft isn’t an easy task. I’ve learned, am learning, and will continue to learn a lot from him in the years to come.

TrunkSpace: What are you hardest on yourself about as an artist?
Jackson: There have been several shows that’ve ended with me curled up in the green room in tears, wanting to disappear. Touring wears your body, soul and spirit ragged. And it’s that imbalance mixed with a show where I feel I’ve failed to connect that allows past demons to take control and steal my peace. Those are the hardest moments for me to overcome. Overcoming them though is what makes me stronger.

Photo By: Xina Hamari

TrunkSpace: You’ll be releasing your second album “Wilderness” in late June. What emotions are you juggling with as you prepare to release it into the world? Is it difficult relinquishing control over something you’re so close to and letting the universe have its say now?
Jackson: Laying the tracks down in the studio was the hardest part. Singing my songs in an isolated booth without human connection was difficult but I’ve discovered performing those same songs live and sharing them with the world empowers me. The more honest I am about my feelings, the less I care about what people think of me.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Jackson: I’m proud of the team around me and our ability to work together to create something that feels honest and true.

TrunkSpace: Where and when are you the most creatively inspired?
Jackson: It totally varies.

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?
Jackson: No. I try not to focus on the destination. It’s difficult, but practicing being in the moment and doing the best I can with what I have at the time is most important to me.

Wilderness” is available June 28 on ANTI-.

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Musical Mondaze

Damn Tall Buildings

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Photo By: SCOTT MCCORMICK

Meeting at Berklee College of Music and cutting their collective teeth busking on the streets of Boston, the foursome that eventually became Damn Tall Buildings feel the least alone when they’re together and playing music. After a brief hiatus of physical separation, the talented musicians moved to Brooklyn, New York together and altered their focus, which rekindled their creative ambitions and lead to their latest album, “Don’t Look Down,” released independently on June 7.

If that togetherness shines for you in the recordings then you’ve gotten a pretty good glimpse of who we are,” the band stated in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Damn Tall Buildings to discuss “all” the feelings, finding an artistic connection with each other, and why striking a balance between self-care and self-sacrifice is so important.

TrunkSpace: Your new album “Don’t Look Down” dropped last week. What kind of emotions do you juggle with as you gear up to release new material into the world?
Damn Tall Buildings: ALL THE FEELINGS. It’s a real mix of excitement and anxiety. We’re really proud of this record and that has been stoking the fire pretty intensely. A wonderful and new-to-us aspect of this project is that the recording and a large chunk of production/distribution was made possible by two-hundred-odd backers on Kickstarter. The generosity of these fine folks refueled a desire to reach beyond the stage and do our utmost to bring everyone who’s ever been there for us a piece of our spirit they can/will want to carry with them.

TrunkSpace: What were the creative goals when you first set out to tackle the album, and now that you have some separation from it, would you say that you were able to put a check in every one of those boxes?
Damn Tall Buildings: One example of the things we faced early on was the task of finding/building/recording sonic worlds for each song, and balancing them inside this eclectic universe of an LP. It felt like Dan (Cardinal) of Dimension Sound Studios became our fifth member during the process of creating this album, and the end result feels continually good to us, which we’re taking as a good sign.

TrunkSpace: For those who are not yet familiar with the band, if they were to listen to “Don’t Look Down” for the first time, what would it tell them about who Damn Tall Buildings is as a band? How does the music itself represent its members as human beings?
Damn Tall Buildings: Our live performance is chalk full of unbridled honesty around one mic, and Dan captured that spirit masterfully. The album is home to a lot of collective truths of ours and is an honest capturing of who we were when we recorded it. Very much like how every live performance of ours is an honest display of who we are then. In the end, we’re a family. Seems to be we tend to feel the least alone when we’re playing music together. If that togetherness shines for you in the recordings then you’ve gotten a pretty good glimpse of who we are.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Damn Tall Buildings: The fact that we made it! It exists! It had been a few years since our ‘15 EP and all that time and life built up pressure to the point of us saying, “We either make this record, or we reconsider the future of the band,”

TrunkSpace: The cover art for “Don’t Look Down” is very compelling. Can you talk to us a bit about how that all came together and ultimately carried over into the visual branding for the singles as well?
Damn Tall Buildings: We had the pleasure of working with Scott McCormick down in CO. He’s the creator of some of our favorite album art (Gregory Alan Isakov, The Infamous Stringdusters, Mandolin Orange), and the idea that transformed into our cover art was among the first he’d mentioned to us. The imagery pays homage to an age old Chinese myth of Wan Hu, the first “astronaut”. The tale tells of a sixteenth-century official who (as told by George Edward Pendray/quoted on Wikipedia): “Wan decided to take advantage of China’s advanced rocket and fireworks technology to launch himself into outer space. He supposedly had a chair built with forty-seven rockets attached. On the day of lift-off, Wan, splendidly attired, climbed into his rocket chair and forty seven servants lit the fuses and then hastily ran for cover. There was a huge explosion. When the smoke cleared, Wan and the chair were gone, and was said never to have been seen again.”

We’re tickled by this example of someone who took their loftiest goal and literally shot for the stars. It feels very akin to our decision to make this record and our keen desire to do it “right” (up to our standards). Scott’s deft creativity has given the album a visual anchor that we are as proud of as we are of the music.

TrunkSpace: The band is based in Brooklyn but you got your start busking on the streets of Boston. How did that city and its scene influence the band and shape you into the artists that you are today?
Damn Tall Buildings: We all came to Boston for college (all four of us attended Berklee College of Music), but busking together is mainly what helped us find our creative voices. Boston made for a great incubator, and everyone we met during our time there has played a huge role in shaping us as players, performers and people. We are lucky enough to still get to make music with/along side some of our oldest Boston friends & influences (Twisted Pine, The Western Den, Lula Wiles, Honeysuckle just to name a FEW). In addition to band family, places like Club Passim, The Burren, Cantab Lounge, Club Church (RIP) became homes to us while we’ve grown into our current sound. As a band, growing up in Boston taught us that true friendship and being true to yourself are two vital ingredients for success, no matter where we find ourselves.

Photo By: SCOTT MCCORMICK

TrunkSpace: Between Boston and Brooklyn, you all went your separate ways for a bit. Did that absence make the creative heart grow fonder? When you came back together, did it make even more sense than when you first started out in Boston?
Damn Tall Buildings: Our separate ways were physical/goal-based, which is to say we were still gigging on weekends, sometimes every other week for months at a time. Still, the creative heart did grow fond as we found it continuously hard to connect while only seeing one another for shows. New songs came floating to the surface during this stint and kinda demanded to be made into a record. Deciding to move to Brooklyn together and re-tuning our collective focus in ways we hadn’t since our early days certainly rekindled our creative fires, and made it possible to make the recordings we’d been dreaming of.

TrunkSpace: What is it about being in a band – and this band in particular – that you can’t achieve in a solo capacity? Are your artistic fires fueled by the creativity of those around you?
Damn Tall Buildings: Absolutely. There’s an undeniable something that happens when you connect with someone. It’s like coming to a profound understanding for the first time. Your blood pumps just a bit better for a moment, and your whole body feels like it’s buzzing on a new frequency. The four of us definitely feel that buzz when we play and the vibes are so multiplied together, it often becomes infectious.

We are RICH with people around us who share their gifts with us. We wouldn’t be who we are today without getting to explore our art with our musical family.

TrunkSpace: What is the most difficult thing about being a working musician in 2019?
Damn Tall Buildings: (Laughter) Probably staying healthy. Mentally and physically. Often spiritually. This profession takes a toll on all three and sometimes it’ll take folks out when they’re not lookin’. This is a big one because every performance is a gift to the audience. Whatever you’re feeling most inside you when performing will inevitably be directed outward. Healing can turn to poison if the doctor stops caring. So we’ll say the most difficult thing (and what we’re always navigating here at DTB HQ), is finding the balance of self-care and self-sacrifice that can sustain the level of experience that we and our fans have come to expect from our work as a band.

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?
Damn Tall Buildings: If we could take the journey and didn’t like what we see could we go back and change things? Even so, probably not. About four years ago a musician friend that we all respect told us that the best years of his career were living in a shitty van and playing rooms for however many people, so we have taken that as creed. We’re trying to embrace every bump of this ride as we go, and carry that creed forward to bigger and better things, no matter the journey.

Don’t Look Down” is available now.

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Musical Mondaze

Charlie Collins

CharlieCollinsInterviewFeatured

With a steady diet of Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Gram Parsons growing up, Charlie Collins learned early in her life that it was best to write and sing what she was feeling. That lesson by osmosis is apparent all over her full-length debut “Snowpine” (out today on Mirror Music Group), an album that pulls no punches when it comes to personal reflection and lays it all out on the table – ups, downs and all points in between.

I don’t hold anything back,” the Australian-born singer-songwriter admits in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Collins to discuss finding peace within herself, battling inner demons through song, and how her dad helped her to find the truth in music.

TrunkSpace: “Snowpine,” is due out today. What kind of emotions do you juggle with as you gear up to release new material to the masses, particularly in the case of your full-length debut, because for many listeners this will be their first introduction to who you are as an artist?
Collins: The emotions range from ecstatic to nervous. This record is the most honest I have ever been with my music. It talks about from when I started music from the age of 10 up until now and all the heartbreaks, struggles, highs and lows I’ve ventured upon. I do hope it gives the audience more of an understanding of who I am and knowing that I’m raw, broken, real but how I’ve overcome all the challenges that came my way.

TrunkSpace: In sitting down to listen to your music for the first time, what would someone learn about you through the music itself?
Collins: I don’t hold anything back. Like I literally can’t make up a story. Everything you hear is what’s happened/happening in my life. Growing up on country music such as artists like Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Gram Parsons taught me how to write what you feel, sing what you’re feeling, because that’s the only way people can truly connect with you.

TrunkSpace: We read that “Snowpine” happened very organically. You found your way back to the guitar after some time away from it and the songs started to work their way out. What do you think was the key to this being the right place/right time for you creatively?
Collins: I think as a person I was ready to tell my story and open up all the suppressed emotions I’ve buried for a long time. I was at a place of peace with myself and who I wanted to be. I had a shit load of stories to tell and a fractured heart to verbalize them through song.

TrunkSpace: There’s a lot of personal reminiscing on the album. Was the creative process a bit of a walk down memory lane for you, and if so, did you end up revisiting things you would have never imagined you’d be discussing publicly?
Collins: For sure. I never thought I would ever be at a place where I could talk about my depression I struggled with for years. I’ve always been quite closed off so to expose that side of me is quite daunting but also liberating. The first track on the record sums up a lot about the inner demons I battled with.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Collins: Seriously, everything. I’m proud of the songs, the way it sounds, the way it happened so naturally and the way it captures how I’ve wanted to sound and everything I’ve wanted to say for so long.

TrunkSpace: We enjoyed the storytelling aspect of “Snowpine” and your ability to establish a compelling narrative in the lyrics and their delivery. What do you think the key is to taking the listener on a journey that goes beyond the music itself?
Collins: I really think being honest is key for me. I remember my dad telling me when I was a kid, “The song you’re singing, what does it mean? Tell me what you’re singing about? Do you feel it?” And since then I’ve never shaken that and carry it with me wherever I’m at.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Collins: I guess never feeling good enough. “Please Let Me Go” is about that. I have a tendency to compare myself to others and feel inadequate among the sea of musical people. BUT I’m getting better at dealing with that. Hence why I didn’t throw my guitar in a fire pit.

Photo By: Christopher Collins

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to overthink a song? Can a songwriter tinker so much that the breath of the song – the thing that makes it special – be exhaled?
Collins: That’s one thing I don’t do when it’s me and my guitar in sync with one another. It all comes out at once. I never go back on lyrics because whatever comes out is what I needed to say. As far as recording goes, that’s why I wanted to record live so we were all feeling at the same time without too much thought. There was no right or wrong, just playing what you think the song itself needs to accompany it.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular feeling you get – a vibe – when a song is officially done?
Collins: FUCK YEAH.

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?
Collins: Honestly I don’t ever think about the future but if I did I hope I’m just still making honest music and staying true to who I am no matter where I am or what stage I’m on.

Snowpine” is available today from Mirror Music Group.

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