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Opening Act

The NTWRK

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Artist: The NTWRK

Socials: Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/Spotify

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Members: Ryan Moore, Brandon Monsta Brown, Chris Stanz, Danielle Kinoshita

TrunkSpace: With three producers in the group, each with their own creative POV, how do you strike a balance with your collective input? Did everything just click right away?
Moore: Before, Brandon (Monsta Brown) and I have been producing together for almost a decade and (Chris) Stanz and I have been producing together for the past four years. So over time we got to understand each others styles, which made our chemistry pretty solid. Even though our range of styles differ from time to time, we focus the intentions of making the best possible product that compliments the sound we’re trying to get across. Everything is built on trust.

TrunkSpace: What was the core idea and goal with The NTWRK when it was first conceived, and has that focus shifted or grown at all as time has gone by?
Moore: We started off as a music production team. Our goal was to write and produce songs for up and coming and major artists. After some disappointments in getting our songs pitched we decide to release the songs ourselves as artists. If the door won’t open you have to build one yourself! Although we’d still like to write and produce songs for other artists. That definitely hasn’t changed.

TrunkSpace: What has been the most surprising part of this journey so far for you, not only in the experience but within the music itself?
Moore: How much we’ve learned along the way in doing it ourselves. There’s so many factors involved in releasing music. The feedback we’ve gotten from our family and friends has been more than great.

TrunkSpace: The group has dropped a couple of singles to date, including “Today.” Is there a plan for a full album in place or do you anticipate focusing on singles?
Moore: We actually just dropped our fourth single, “Bad Place,” which was released on March 1st.
Stanz: Our current plan is focusing on singles. We love the rush of dropping a song every other month or so as opposed to binding ourselves for months on end to a single arching concept.

TrunkSpace: What are the benefits to releasing singles in this day and age as opposed to full albums? In a lot of ways it feels like the industry, at least on the artist side of things, is shifting back to the dawn of mainstream music where singles were the focus.
Moore: For us it makes releasing music more consistent, which is mandatory in this day and age. It gives the flexibility to collaborate with other artists as opposed to solely working on our project. Releasing singles back to back seems more beneficial for us at this moment as we’re building a core fan base.

TrunkSpace: What do you get out of being in a group setting that you can’t achieve as a solo artist? Does the creativity of the collective fuel the creativity of the individual?
Moore: Yes, absolutely! Four heads are always better than one! Whenever one of us is stuck on an idea we’re creating for the group, we have three other minds to add in their creativity. When we send an idea to someone in the group and they add in whatever instrumentation they contribute… it usual inspires the next person who can hear something new and then it becomes a creative collective cycle.

TrunkSpace: What is the biggest hurdle that artists face today with not only building a fan base, but maintaining it as well?
Moore: Getting their attention and staying ahead of the game creatively. There are so many great songs out there – not to mention other forms of entertainment – competing for three to four minutes of time out of someone’s day.

TrunkSpace: What are the perfect conditions for you to tap into your creative space? Where are you at your best with new ideas?
Moore: It varies between working in our individual spaces and meeting up at the studio. Usually we work at home when we’re creating ideas and send them back and forth. Sometimes we’ll meet up with each other to go over specific ideas. The studio is where we hash everything out.

TrunkSpace: What do you get out of creating music that you can’t achieve by being a listener alone?
Moore: The satisfaction that the music we create can influence the lives of people and hopefully make their day a little better.

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?
Moore: No, we wouldn’t. We’d like to enjoy the journey and each step of the way, no matter how long it takes.

 

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Opening Act

Ashrr

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Artist: Ashrr

Socials: Facebook/Twitter/Instagram

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Members: Josh Charles, Steven Davis, Ethan Allen

TrunkSpace: Ashrr formed in early 2018 and you will already be releasing your debut album, “Oscillator,” just over a year later on May 10. Creatively did everything just click right away when you first came together musically?
Charles: It was instant chemistry when we met and started working together. We just started writing songs and a real camaraderie developed which made it very apparent to us that this was very special.

TrunkSpace: Can you tell us a little bit about what the creative process was like leading up to “Oscillator,” especially with it all coming together so quickly. Were you continuing to bring new material to the table while laying the foundation for what the album would ultimately become?
Charles: Our process involved Ethan (Allen) and myself working together in the studio to create feels, sounds, grooves – and melodic ideas would emerge from our subconscious (nonsense lyrics) until we all got together and wrote the lyrics to the songs. It was a year in the making so I’m not so sure that’s quick…

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Charles: When you listen to “Oscillator,” there’s a cohesive sound and feel that works on both a musical and lyrical level. We’re just so proud of the material and all the work that went into making the album.

TrunkSpace: The band recently released the single “All Yours All Mine.” What does that track say to listeners who are hearing Ashrr for the first time? Why did you choose that particular song as the tease of what’s to come?
Charles: We call that song an electrified public service announcement because of not only the lyrics, but the music has a vibe that goes throughout and really becomes hypnotic and draws you in as a listener.

TrunkSpace: What do you get being in a band that you couldn’t achieve in a solo capacity? Does the creativity of everyone else fuel your own creativity?
Charles: You can’t rely just on your own gut instincts and there has to be a consensus among the band in everything we make. In other words, we have one rule, “Don’t make anything that we wouldn’t listen to and that isn’t good.”

TrunkSpace: You guys all have very different musical backgrounds. How did those different creative points of view influence the collective Ashrr sound?
Charles: We’re all adults and that helps when discussing things we like or dislike, allowing for creative energy to flourish without confrontation. Everyone has a very strong opinion about what we like and we’re in a safe space where we’re able to express how we feel and somehow always reach a compromise without sacrifice.

TrunkSpace: Is the Ashrr sound set in sonic stone or do you envision it branching out into something uniquely different as time goes on? Will the next album be a departure from “Oscillator” or more of a companion?
Charles: I think we’re always going to challenge ourselves to produce the best art we can possibly make and we have such a wide array of influences that it’s limitless to what we’re capable of making in the studio. The live band will be used more in the next recordings but each song on “Oscillator” sounds different, so I think our sound is really starting to emerge in a beautiful way.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Charles: I’ve had some great moments as a solo artist including recording and performing with my heroes, including John Oates, etc. I can say right now I’m so excited about our band and I can’t wait to get on the road and take this music to the people.

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?
Charles: I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else, so YES!

Oscillator” is available May 10.

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Opening Act

Bella Dose

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Artist: Bella Dose

Socials: Instagram/Twitter/Facebook

Hometown: Miami, FL

TrunkSpace: When Bella Dose first came together to create music, what was the initial goal and has that goal morphed and grown since those earliest days of the group?
Bella Dose: The initial goal was to first find our sound and figure out who we are in terms of music. Through trial and error, we were able to discover and craft a unique

global sound that caters to a universal audience.

TrunkSpace: What has been the biggest surprise on this musical journey thus far for each of you? What is something that has occurred as a result of your music that you could have never planned for?
Bella Dose: The biggest surprise on this musical journey thus far for each of us has been our strong sisterhood and bond that we’ve developed. We’ve become one with ourselves and our music. Also, the amount of love and support we’ve received in such a short amount of time as a result of our music is definitely something we could’ve never planned for.

TrunkSpace: Is there something artistically inspiring about working together as a group that you couldn’t achieve as a solo artist? Does creativity inspire creativity… and by that we mean, do you feed off of each other in the quest to create and entertain?
Bella Dose: There is definitely something artistically inspiring about working together as a group because we are able to share our own individual ideas that have the ability to come together and fit like puzzle pieces. We always feed off of each other’s energy, which we feel is a very important part of being in a group. We are always open to listening to each other and work as a team, which is what we hope to portray through our music.

TrunkSpace: Often times pop groups get labeled as “manufactured” artists and aren’t known for writing their own music, but you four do exactly that. Can you walk us through what your writing process looks like and how a track goes from inception to completion?
Bella Dose: Our writing process starts off by creating a concept that we’ve all been through so that others can relate. We inform the producer of our concept and the beat is created around what we’re feeling. We then brainstorm melodies and add on lyrics to finish off the song.

TrunkSpace: Beyond the music itself, what do you enjoy most about being a part of Bella Dose? Is it shooting the videos? Is it performing live? Something else entirely?
Bella Dose: What we enjoy most about being a part of Bella Dose is honestly every aspect of it. From shooting videos to live performances to meet and greets to traveling the world, everything we do plays a role in this journey and how far we’ve come!

TrunkSpace: Having a visual brand is such a big part of music these days. How would you describe the Bella Dose visual brand in just a few words?
Bella Dose: We would describe the Bella Dose visual brand as fun, trendy, cultural and chic!

Courtesy of International Hub Records

TrunkSpace: You’re all from Florida. Does a location impact a band or the music they produce, and if so, how have the towns and neighborhoods you grew up in directly impacted your creative POV?
Bella Dose: Being from South Florida, the towns and neighborhoods we grew up in have definitely impacted our creative point of view because we are surrounded by our Latin culture. We always want to incorporate our culture within our music and we have a lot of pride in our Hispanic roots and being where we’re from.

TrunkSpace: Can you envision a day when music is not a part of your life?
Bella Dose: Never! Music is always something we include in our day-to-day activities. Even if we weren’t artists we would make sure to be a part of the music industry somehow.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as artists?
Bella Dose: We are hardest on ourselves when it comes to vocal arrangements. When we sing live we want to make sure every harmony blends with one another and deliver the song to the best of our abilities. When it comes to videotaping a cappellas, we will not stop until we feel we’ve delivered perfectly. Which means we will do 30,000 takes if we have to in order to get the best one! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Finally, if we were to sit down with you again one year from now, what do you hope we’d be talking about? In other words, what would you like Bella Dose to accomplish in the next 365 days?
Bella Dose: A year from now, we hope to have at least one song appear on the Billboard Top 100 Chart! We hope to go on our own tour, and have performed at major events!

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Opening Act

I Am Casting

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Artist: I Am Casting

Socials: Facebook/Twitter

Hometown: Durham, North Carolina

TrunkSpace: We’re about a week away from the release of your debut album, “Carnival Barkers.” What emotions are you juggling with as you prepare to unleash it onto the world?
Guerra: Teaspoon of excitement, tablespoon of apprehension. I’m trying to stay connected to the really positive experience of writing and recording the album. Not easy to do, as the writing/recording memories fade and the release is imminent, but definitely healthier for me than getting too focused on others’ reactions (or lack thereof) to the release.

TrunkSpace: The album seems like a very personal journey for you, both creatively and in the production process itself. Is it difficult to let something so close to you go and relinquish that control once it has been released?
Guerra: The development of the particular process that ended up working for me, both in terms of songwriting and production, is something I anticipate taking forward with new material. I’m a bit surprised to find it’s actually not been difficult to put a bow on this particular collection and “send it out into the world,” so to speak. Perhaps having control of the process somehow made it easier, in fact, to let go – as in, “You (the listener) may not like the cake I made, but I’m pretty sure I made it the way I like it.”

TrunkSpace: You wore many hats in bringing “Carnival Barkers” to life. Are you putting more pressure on yourself in terms of the album succeeding and finding an audience because you’ve had your hands in so many facets of it coming together?
Guerra: It’s definitely the case that because I wore so many hats, very few other people have any skin in the game. I’m trying to find an audience, then, without many others invested in the same goal. More work necessary to get the word out, as a result, and longer odds of breaking through in some meaningful way. That said, I don’t know if I’m putting more pressure on myself than I would have if I’d worn fewer hats (e.g., if I’d written and/or performed the tunes, but not produced the album) – I tend to over-own responsibility, in general, so whatever pressure I feel is probably amped to a level similar to that I would have experienced absent a hat or two.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Guerra: I believe “Carnival Barkers” has a real “album” vibe to it – there’s connective tissue musically and lyrically/thematically, consistent with the goals I had as I began the project. I feel pretty good about that. I also feel good about being open enough to make some significant changes in how I write and create music (old dog, new tricks kind of thing).

TrunkSpace: Is “Carnival Barkers” an album you could have created a decade ago? And by that we mean, how much of the times (and how the times have sculpted your creative POV) went into shaping it?
Guerra: No, I couldn’t have made this album a decade ago. First, with regards to the music, my writing has become increasingly integrated with the tracking (recording) process, and percussion/rhythm parts are usually developed and tracked hand-in-hand with (or even ahead of) chord progressions and melodies. These changes definitely impact my choices about the progressions and melodies themselves – I don’t believe I could have written a song like “Flood” using my former approach. Second, the lyrical content and themes of “Carnival Barkers” would not have been salient to me a decade ago. The lyrics to these songs were all written between mid-2016 and late-2017. Early in that writing period, I decided to tie the songs together, conceptually, using themes I found to be especially relevant to the political moment. So songs like “Charmer,” “Wolf” and “Lullaby” might be thought of as variations on the Pied Piper story. “Flood” and “Window” are about the exploitation of prejudice and fear of the “other” for political gain. “Helpless,” “Muggers” and “Seams” try to capture, in different ways, the experience of powerlessness. Most of the songs are about malignant influencers and/or those impacted by them.

Photo By: Alex Boerner

TrunkSpace: Would the young Cole who first picked up an instrument be surprised by your musical journey thus far? Would “Carnival Barkers” be a departure from the music he thought he would one day make?
Guerra: Yes, really surprised by the path taken. Young me, from childhood through very early adulthood, would have thought that if future me was involved in the arts, it would be as an actor or director – I’d been doing theater-related stuff for years. I was fortunate enough to have been exposed to piano as a kid, but I don’t recall thinking that those lessons were setting me up for some career choice. Even after picking up guitar late in high school, it wouldn’t have struck me to “make an album,” though I loved music. It wasn’t until my mid-20s, coinciding with another major vocational pivot (to grad school for psychology), that I began to write songs with any frequency and view myself as someone who might do that over a longer span of time.

As for the type of music I write, I can make out a bit of a fuzzy line between the musical tastes of teenage me and the music on “Carnival Barkers,” but I’ll spare you the list of “influences.” Suffice it to say that young me might have heard “Carnival Barkers” and thought, “Sure, that makes sense.”

TrunkSpace: How long did it take you to discover your songwriter’s voice?
Guerra: Though I didn’t start writing in any meaningful way until my mid-20s, I’m sure that my songwriting voice has some roots in the music that most spoke to me in the preceding years – I’ve valued music over lyric for as long as I can recall, tend towards unusual and sometimes busy (for alt-pop, that is) harmonic structure and chord progressions, and largely avoid narrative exposition. On top of that base, stuff has changed pretty consistently, enough so that I think my “voice” continues to evolve, though I don’t know how visible that is to the outside world.

TrunkSpace: Which would you personally prefer… writing one album that the whole world adores, or writing a career’s worth that only a select group of people treasure?
Guerra: Artistically speaking, the career gig, every time. And practically speaking, I don’t write music that appeals to large swaths of people, so hard to even contemplate the adoration bit. I’ll take any option that gives me more time engaged in the songwriting and recording process. Of course, nowadays the “select group of people treasure you” path will likely require that the artist have some other means of surviving monetarily.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could just ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your musical journey looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Guerra: On first blush, main upside I see to the glimpse is that if it’s positive, perhaps there’s a boost of confidence as expectations soar. “Hey sure, of course I’ll reach out to Musician X and Producer Y, since I’ve seen a future where those two are collaborating with me.”

Too much downside, though – I can see being de-motivated whether I get glimpse of shit journey (obvious reasons) or cool outcomes (I mean, how much do I need to work to obtain a fated outcome). Main hiccup to the idea of glimpsing my 10-year music outcomes/status, though, is that I get most pleasure out of process – that moment where I figure out some cool way back from the bridge to the verse or the one where I hit on some arrangement idea that makes the tune or the one where I can tell that the musicians I’m sharing the stage with are feeling it – and I’m not sure the 10-year outcome instructs me much about how to navigate all that.

Carnival Barkers” is available February 22 from Cleave Recordings.

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Opening Act

The Campfire Flies

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Artist: The Campfire Flies

Members: Ed Seifert (Speed The Plough), John and Toni Baumgartner (Speed The Plough), Deena Shoshkes and Jon Fried (The Cucumbers), Matt Davis (The Thousand Pities)

Socials: Facebook

Hometown: New Jersey

TrunkSpace: As you gear up to release “Sparks Like Little Stars” to the masses (available March 22), what kind of emotions are you juggling with?
Seifert: Well, excitement, primarily, of course, and gratitude. I’m so glad to be involved in a project with such talented, supportive and creative people. I THINK those are all the adjectives John told me to use.

TrunkSpace: This is the band’s first album. Do you feel any sort of creative pressure, particularly with a debut, knowing that for a lot of people this will be their first taste of who The Campfire Flies are creatively as a group?
Seifert: Not really. The fact that everyone contributes to the creative process meant that nobody had to overextend themselves. There’s no filler on the album, as far as we’re concerned.

And in the case of Deena and Jon with The Cucumbers, John and Toni with Speed the Plough, and Matt with The Thousand Pities, they’ve all got a base of fans who already know their work. I’m sure they’ll all be pleased with the results.

TrunkSpace: The band consists of six songwriters. How does having so many creative brains in the cooking process – particularly those used to working in a solo capacity – impact the dynamics in the kitchen itself? Did the process require massaging or did it gel right out of the gates?
Seifert: With two married couples in the group, most of the dynamics had already been established. And we all know the value of a cordial suggestion as opposed to a harsh criticism. We really didn’t have growing pains, since we were all friends and admirers of each other’s work even before we got together.

TrunkSpace: What do you get working in a band atmosphere that you have been unable to achieve as a solo artist/songwriting? Is there something inspiring about the process that sort of collectively fuels everyone’s creative fires?
Seifert: Quite a bit, speaking personally. As the only unmarried member, I’m the only one who doesn’t have another pair of critical ears at home. So I’m always sending demos around to friends, and most are too nice to say anything negative. It’s good to have some more detailed feedback.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Seifert: At the risk of sounding trite, I love how this project bloomed into something that’s more than the sum of its parts. It’s a very special, unique sound.

TrunkSpace: You’re all multi-instrumentalists. How many instruments appear on the album itself, and is it easy to translate these songs to the stage?
Seifert: The songs all translate well to the stage. The basic tracks were recorded with four or five of us playing at once. And although we all played multiple instruments over the course of the album, none of the songs are overloaded. Generally if I’m playing mandolin on a track, I’m NOT playing guitar, and if Toni’s playing clarinet, she’s not playing flute, and so on. I think it’s at least nine different instruments, plus percussion.

TrunkSpace: Can you envision a day when music is not a part of your life?
Seifert: Not until the day I check out!

TrunkSpace: Mother Nature had a hand in the band coming together. A storm rolled through and trapped you all under one roof with instruments but no power. Had that night not occurred, do you think we’d be here today talking about The Campfire Flies?
Seifert: Yes, as I mentioned before, we were all big fans of each other’s work, and knew each other well.

TrunkSpace: Which would you personally prefer… writing one album that the whole world adores, or writing a career’s worth that only a select group of people treasure?
Seifert: I’ll take the latter. I’m more tortoise than hare, and although I always am trying to add hooks to my songs and think they’re accessible, I don’t think they sound like today’s top sellers, from what I’ve heard!

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your musical journey looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Seifert: Why not, indeed? I’m a curious sort. I don’t know that I’d PAY for the privilege, but if I could take a look, I would. I hope I wouldn’t disappoint myself – or my cohorts!

Space Like Little Stars” is available March 22 from OverPop Records.

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Opening Act

The Rayo Brothers

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Photo By: LeeAnn Stephan

Artist: The Rayo Brothers

Socials: Twitter/Instagram/Facebook

Hometown: Lafayette, LA

TrunkSpace: We’re about two months away from the release of “Victim & Villain.” As you gear up to share new music with the masses, what emotions do you juggle with?
Rayo Brothers: Gratitude and anticipation. We’re truly grateful for the support of our fans. And we’re grateful for the super talented people who were willing to work with us to make this album our best work so far. We can’t wait to get it out there for everyone to hear.

TrunkSpace: This is the band’s third album. No one is closer to the music than you. As you listen back to the earliest creative iterations of the band and compare it to what is on “Victim & Villain,” where do you hear the biggest differences? Were those changes by design or a natural progression?
Rayo Brothers: We started out much more on the folk side of things. Mostly acoustic instruments – guitar, banjo, bass, mandolin and drums. On our second album, we started to expand the sound and dynamics: including electric guitars and bass, and instruments that provide sustain and texture like violin and pedal steel. On this album we’ve moved even further in that direction with string arrangements and horn arrangements, which is a first for us. It has been a natural progression – as we get more comfortable presenting our songs to the audience, we get more confident in trying out new things.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with “Victim & Villain” as you prepare to share it with listeners?
Rayo Brothers: We’ve always put a lot of focus on the lyrics and songwriting, so we hope that people will appreciate that. But with this album we’re especially proud of the production value. Working with such expert professionals like our engineer Tony Daigle and producer Louis Michot, not to mention a handful of other truly great musicians, really took this album to the next level for us. When we were writing and rehearsing these songs before the studio sessions, we really couldn’t imagine how great the final result would sound.

TrunkSpace: The roots of the band stretch back to Lafayette, Louisiana. Do you believe that a geographic location can directly influence an artist, and if so, how did your hometown have an impact on the music that the Rayo Brothers create?
Rayo Brothers: Our region is steeped in a unique blend of cultures and their music – French, African, Cajun, blues, jazz, country, rock n roll. Music is an integral part of life here. Growing up, playing music was a part of everyday family life. With our parents, and also at any family gathering with the extended family. There’s a lot of bands and a few Grammy wins and nominations in our extended family (including our cousin Louis Michot of Lost Bayou Ramblers, who produced this album). We feel solidly rooted in music here, and this album is just the next branch extending out from that tree.

TrunkSpace: There is no false advertising in the name of the band. You guys (Jesse and Daniel Reaux) are actual brothers. How does that impact the writing process? Is there a creative kinship that exists between you two?
Rayo Brothers: Very much so. We both write songs for the band; sometimes we’ll write on our own but often it’s a collaborative process. Being brothers, we have a shared history and memories, a lot of the same influences. We easily know where the other is coming from with an idea, and we help each other build on those ideas. And we tend to agree on the lyrical and aesthetic direction of the songs.

TrunkSpace: On the opposite side of that songwriting coin, does sibling rivalry ever seep into the creative process? Do things ever go full Oasis/Gallagher brothers for the Rayo Brothers?
Rayo Brothers: We’re not really rivals when it comes to music. We each do our thing and it compliments the other. We have the typical sibling rivalry when it comes to other things though – working out, martial arts sparring, stuff like that.

TrunkSpace: Is there something creatively inspiring about working within a band atmosphere? Does creativity inspire creativity?
Rayo Brothers: We almost always do the lyric writing with just the two brothers. But when it comes to musical arrangements that’s a collaborative process with the whole band. Each of the guys has their own set of influences and ideas, so we have a broad range of possibility when we start working on each song. It’s a lot of fun working that way.

TrunkSpace: Many musicians say that writing is a form of personal therapy. Is it that way for you? Do you find yourselves saying and expressing things in song that you wouldn’t be able to do as easily in real life?
Rayo Brothers: Yeah, it’s easier to express and explore emotion in a song than in real life. Sometimes songwriting is a way to try to take a feeling and figure out why that feeling is there, try to understand it – so in a way it is like therapy.

TrunkSpace: When all is said and done and you hang up your instruments for good, what do you hope you’re remembered for? What do you want your musical legacy to be?
Rayo Brothers: Just that we made something beautiful and honest, even if only a few people ever hear it.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could just ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your musical journey looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Rayo Brothers: No – we’re enjoying the journey of creating without knowing where it’s going. And anyway, if we knew the future it would influence our decisions and the future would change, right? Isn’t that how time travel works?

Victim & Villain” is available March 29 from Nouveau Electric Records.

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Opening Act

Ph4de

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Artist: Ph4de

Socials: Twitter/Instagram/Facebook

Hometown: Jacksonville, TX

TrunkSpace: You began recording music when you were 13 years old. Would the 13-year-old Ph4de be surprised by how the rest of your musical journey has gone since you began it back in your bedroom?
PH4DE: Oh man. No question. In soooooooooo many ways too. I grew up super poor with very low expectations for life until I got a bit more matured. I would say my biggest aspirations at that age involved actually making my music sound good technically since I was my own engineer, producer, writer, etc.

TrunkSpace: You grew up in Jacksonville, TX. How did your surroundings help to shape you as an artist and sculpt your artistic point of view?
PH4DE: The city was a major deterrent from wanting to be like the average guy who lived there. Success doesn’t drive down the street and give you the motivation of what is actually possible to be achieved there. I have nothing but love and respect for the city of Jacksonville, but it doesn’t offer opportunity. I think THAT aspect of growing up in the city sculpted my artist influence to be darker and more of a harsh reality. I wasn’t born into dreams, I was born into nightmares.

TrunkSpace: It was recently announced that you were signing with InVogue Records. Do you feel like this is a new chapter in your musical journey and what do you hope comes out of the relationship with the label, not only for your music, but for you personally as well?
PH4DE: Definitely! InVogue offered a proposal that kept me in charge of all creative dynamics while investing in the brand and movement that the fans have helped me create! Network = Net Worth so I’m only hoping to strengthen my core team, and provide a better product for the fans.

TrunkSpace: You also have a new single out. While it’s called “Don’t Say Much,” we think it does say much (or a lot) about who you are as an artist. For those who are being introduced to you for the first time through that particular track, what do you think it tells them about your music, both now and in the future?
PH4DE: DSM is to let everyone know that we will earn our position at the top through the energy that we bring to the stage, studio and our content overall. As an introduction it’s perfectly true to what we represent – in terms of energy. I’m not a one-lane artist, and you will see plenty of other styles from me, BUT, the energy will always influence change.

TrunkSpace: Singles seem to be far more popular with artists than full albums these days. What are the benefits to releasing singles over a record, and do think this is a trend that will continue, particularly as technology continues to advance?
PH4DE: I definitely can see why artists have went towards singles. More than anyone, the up and coming artists. It’s hard to get one song heard, much less a collection of 12. Dropping an entire album over 12 weeks (as singles) is 1200 percent more beneficial to a struggling artist, as their fan base will get a fair listen to every song.

I still love albums. Can’t wait to start working on a debut.

TrunkSpace: Looking over the social media landscape, it seems like it takes more and more for an artist to stand out and be heard/noticed. What are the keys to finding success with your music, and does it change track to track with each single you release?
PH4DE: Social media isn’t producing near as many musical artists as it’s producing actors. It’s simply become the new casting call for industry plants. (Not in all cases, but it’s obvious when a viral personality magically starts doing music.) To me, it’s still about the music. Fuck the stunts, fuck the trolling.

TrunkSpace: What do you get writing and performing music that you can’t experience by being a listener alone? What keeps you writing and creating?
PH4DE: Challenge, competition, adversity. Hip-Hop, to me, is still about it’s core elements, and that is still what keeps me creating. When listening, music can give you the key to your destiny. When writing, you hold all keys.

TrunkSpace: Can you envision a day when music is not a part of your life?
PH4DE: Never.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
PH4DE: Lyrics. Period. You will always find metaphors, double entendres, similes, etc. in my music. I’m a lyricist and emcee first. The singing, melodies and beats are extra.

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Opening Act

Erin Harpe

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Photo By: Michael Kurgansky

Artist: Erin Harpe

Socials: Twitter/Instagram/Facebook

Hometown: Boston, MA

TrunkSpace: We’re just emerging from the holiday season cocoon, during which time, you were supporting your new holiday album, “The Christmas Swing.” We’d have to imagine you’re ready to put the Run Run Rudolphs behind you for awhile at this point?
Harpe: That’s one of the hazards of putting out a Christmas album! We played the songs live a bunch in November and December, and now we can’t play them for the rest of the year! I’m fine with that, and ready to move on to the next project.

TrunkSpace: That being said, is it a nice break to be able to step away and sort of refuel the creative tank while still getting the chance to perform? That seems like a situation of having your cake and eating it too.
Harpe: We’ll see. I’ll let you know if and when I’m able to step away! (Laughter) Running a record label with my husband/bass player Jim Countryman, we rarely take a break. I usually go from creating an album to promoting (creating the album art, making a music video which I did myself, to sending out the product) during the week, while gigging most weekends. It’s a lot of work, but I’m grateful to be able to be doing this! I find my creative tank most full when I’m in the middle of a project and I’ve given myself a real deadline.

TrunkSpace: As far as the year ahead is concerned, what does 2019 hold for you in terms of new music? What’s on your creative radar?
Harpe: The first part of the year I will be channeling Memphis Minnie, going back to my roots playing some acoustic blues: first at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis at the end of January, where I’ll be performing solo; second is my second UK tour with my acoustic duo in March, featuring Jim Countryman on ukelele bass and myself on acoustic guitar, kazoo and foot percussion; and third I’ll be teaching guitar at Augusta Blues & Swing Week in West Virginia in July! I may just come out with an acoustic album next… I’ll also be putting together demos for the next Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers album, and releasing a new EP for my “other band” Lovewhip!

TrunkSpace: You wear many hats in the creation of your music, from guitarist to singer, to band leader and songwriter. Do you identify with one role more than the others? If you could only do one, would you be content hanging out in just a singular creative space?
Harpe: If I could do one, that would probably be music production. I produced my last two albums, and I fell in love with the process of putting together recordings – arranging, writing, composing parts. I don’t know if you can really separate the different “jobs” because producing encompasses all of those – guitar, singing, being music director, songwriting and performance. I don’t think I’ll ever give up performing though.

TrunkSpace: You learned to play guitar from your dad. Do you think having that personal connection to the process helped to build a personal relationship with the instrument itself?
Harpe: Definitely. I grew up around guitar, the sounds and the cool-looking vintage instruments my dad played and collected. Funny enough, I started out playing classical flute, but once I switched to guitar, the connection was undeniable.

TrunkSpace: Would the young Erin who first picked up a guitar be surprised by how her career in music has played out thus far?
Harpe: Yes! I was very shy growing up so I never would have believed I could do over 1000 gigs, and remember lyrics in front of people, much less win awards and play music full-time!

TrunkSpace: What do you get writing and performing music that you can’t experience by being a listener alone? What keeps you writing and creating?
Harpe: I get to hear my creations. I get to reshape music to how I imagine it! That drives me. Let’s just say maybe, sometimes I feel like music is getting too generic, too formulaic, too overdone, too lacking in soul and grit, too whatever. I can change that! I can buck the trend, come out with something I like. I can prove that there are some people who know the difference. It may be a small number, but they are out there!

Photo By: Dave Geissler

TrunkSpace: As you mentioned, you’re about to embark on a trip to Memphis for the 2019 International Blues Challenge. How do you prepare for an event like that, both mentally and performance-wise?
Harpe: I have to write my set list and time my set, and practice it a lot! That’s the only way to not be nervous, but I’m sure I’ll still be nervous, but it’ll be fine. I’ll jump up and down a bit before my sets. It’s definitely more nerve-racking playing solo than with the band! I’m also going to be performing my Memphis set a few times in public. (Including January 17 at the Plough & Stars in Cambridge, MA.)

I also have to tell myself to go to bed at a reasonable hour in Memphis.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Harpe: Probably with that question of “success.” I find myself asking “why haven’t I succeeded yet,” when I actually have succeeded in so many aspects of my career. I’m working on giving myself more credit and not comparing my career to other “more famous” musicians.

TrunkSpace: We’re jumping headfirst into 2019. Any New Year’s resolutions that you’re hoping to hold onto as you travel through the months ahead?
Harpe: My resolution is to write more songs, and put out more music, and to reach out more and collaborate this year with other artists and musicians. It’s tough running a band, it can feel lonely at times, and it’s easier when you build community!

For show dates visit here.

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Opening Act

Edo Ferragamo

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Photo By: Lapo Quagli

Artist: Edo Ferragamo

Socials: Instagram/Facebook

Hometown: Florence, Italy

TrunkSpace: The new year is upon us, and for you, that means new music being released. What emotions do you juggle with as you prepare to release new material on the world?
Ferragamo: I couldn’t be more excited! I think every artist in general is always wishing to release his work, but it’s not always that easy. In my case, this is going to be my debut EP and I’ve been waiting for a long time to put it out. These last couple of years I’ve been focusing mainly on writing songs and I have so many. The hardest part was probably selecting my favorites!

TrunkSpace: Listening to your music, we can’t help but hear so many different influences that had a hand at creating your musical POV. How long did it take you to find your voice as an artist?
Ferragamo: A long time to be honest! I’m not completely sure if I found my “ultimate voice” as an artist quite yet. I think it’s a constant development and I’m getting closer and closer. I grew up playing and listening to classic rock, then I went to Berklee College of Music and got into funk and fusion. From there I approached the EDM world, and now I’m very much into pop/ urban/electronic. I think it’s very important to explore different genres to understand what you like most!

TrunkSpace: Would the Edo who first picked up a guitar and dreamed of becoming a musician be surprised by what your sound has shaped into, and if so, why?
Ferragamo: Definitely. I was very much, as a kid, into all the great classic rock bands. Not to say that I don’t like them anymore, but they are a bit outdated now.

TrunkSpace: What are you most excited about in terms of the music you have locked and loaded for release?
Ferragamo: The first single, “Common People,” that I co-wrote with my friend and great rapper/singer Cayenne Noluck (who’s also performing on the record) is definitely one of my favorites. Not only is it very catchy and uplifting, it talks about something very close to my heart, which is the importance of spreading love in today’s world!

TrunkSpace: What does the music we’ll hear from you in 2019 say about who you are as an artist today?
Ferragamo: The music is very uplifting, up-to-date pop sounds with urban influences and a lot of organic elements – guitar is my main instrument on most songs. I want fans to feel free and peaceful. I’d like to give them some uplifting and positive energy!

TrunkSpace: What do you get writing and performing music that you can’t find by being a listener to it alone? What keeps you writing and creating?
Ferragamo: My favorite part is definitely going inside a room with nothing and coming out with something tangible when making music. I think the process is really magical! Creating something that before didn’t exist, something you cannot touch or see, but something you can hear and FEEL! I also love the feeling of my brain really working hard to place and structure the emotions coming from my heart and putting it into a song.

TrunkSpace: You were born in Italy and went to school in Boston (our hometown!). How did Italy shape your musical path, and did Boston force it to veer in another direction? Did the city and people of Boston influence your music directly?
Ferragamo: Italy, and especially Florence, is a place full of art and history. There is no way that it cannot influence you as a person. It’s almost overwhelming sometimes! I feel so fortunate being born as an Italian. My roots are strong and I will never change them. However, I think that my main change in music specifically happened in Boston. Just the fact that I was able to surround myself with so many incredibly talented musicians was something super valuable. I discovered new ways of playing, new genres and new styles. It was not always easy, but hard work always pays off!

TrunkSpace: Can you envision a day when music is not a part of your life?
Ferragamo: Absolutely not!

TrunkSpace: Outside of another artist, was there someone in your life who inspired or supported your creative endeavors that you feel was important to you getting where you are today with your music?
Ferragamo: Yes, I’m very passionate about sports and working out, so my trainer Andrea, who always pushed me since I was 12-years-old to become a better person. (Stronger, faster and wiser.) Not to say that this inspired my creative juices, but it definitely defined my character as a person and helped my motivation in general!

TrunkSpace: Again, we just jumped into 2019. Any New Year’s resolutions that you took on?
Ferragamo: Not really any New Year’s resolutions! I want to thank my fans for supporting me throughout this journey that is only at the beginning. I have so much music to share, so please keep following me as I move forward.

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Opening Act

Grave Danger

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Artist/Band: Grave Danger

Members: Dave Schwantes (guitars, bass, keys, tenor sax, bari sax, backing vocals), Dane Erbach (drums), Alan Erbach (lead vocals), Margret Miller (trombone), Andy Miller (trumpet), Emily Erbach (synth), Chris Marcanti (backing vocals), Josh Marcanti (backing vocals), Elliot Schwantes (backing vocals), Eileen Hays-Schwantes (backing vocals)

Socials: Facebook/Twitter/Instagram

Hometown: Berkeley, California

Latest Album/Release: Let ‘er Rip

TrunkSpace: Though Grave Danger has a lighthearted, macabre persona of a “Skath” band, it’s clear that underneath that mask is a group of extremely talented musicians. How did this idea take hold and manifest from a daydream into a reality?
Schwantes: Dane and I have known each other since high school and one of our favorite pastimes was making up fake bands (when we weren’t playing together in real bands). Our shared love of wordplay led us to the idea of “skath” a few years ago, but it never amounted to anything. Then sometime last year Dane texted me, “Ok, dude. Let’s do it: Let’s write a couple of skath songs.” (Dane is very good with punctuation, even in his texts.) We started coming up with song names and I wrote most of the lyrics to “Grave Danger” that afternoon. It was a lot of fun so we brought in other people to flesh out the band and decided to see this thing through.

TrunkSpace: Which came first? The Ska or the Goth? And what other musical entities influenced your sound that you were looking to achieve?
Schwantes: I think it’s safe to say, the ska came first for us. Several of us were in a ska band called Captain Supreme back in college. Ska is such a light-hearted genre that it was a lot of fun to mix in an element of macabre.

One of the first artists we thought about when finding a sound and style was Oingo Boingo. Danny Elfman is obviously a brilliant composer and musician and Oingo Boingo’s stuff just has a great reckless weirdness to it. Reel Big Fish was certainly a big influence for the type of goofy ska we wanted to write and I was listening to a lot of Streetlight Manifesto when writing horn parts. They were a big reason why I was insistent on having a four-piece horn section.

TrunkSpace: What blew our minds like a zombie on the receiving end of a head shot was that Grave Danger is comprised of a group of family and friends. This isn’t your Branson family band, but how is it that you all are so musically inclined? Does the musical vein run deep in the family? Or did you simply make a deal with a cloven-hoofed figure on a dark road in the middle of the night?
Schwantes: It turns out that you can get a much better deal with the devil if you’re willing to go in on a group rate, plus Satan spent most of the ‘90s following Less Than Jake around on tour so he has a soft spot for ska.

TrunkSpace: When we were digging up info on how Grave Danger came to be, we couldn’t help but identify with the story of using gym class to come up with creative endeavors instead of taking a dodge ball to the face. Do you feel that those early creative endeavors laid the ground work for what would later become Grave Danger?
Schwantes: Sure. Grave Danger came into existence because some old friends wanted to keep making fun music together and the kind of music we made was really shaped by our shared appreciation for well-executed preposterousness. Back in high school, our fake death metal band, Throbbing Reaper, actually played a few shows. An impressive feat, considering we never practiced or wrote any songs.

It takes a lifelong commitment to ridiculousness to put in the time and energy needed to make a skath band a reality.

TrunkSpace: Another interesting morsel to us was that Grave Danger came together only after founding members David Schwantes and Dane Erbach moved apart from one another. What was it about being cleaved apart that made you guys come together to form Grave Danger? And what was that long-distance creative partnership like?
Schwantes: I think that living a few thousand miles away from each other made us really miss making music together in the way we were able to in the past.

The collaboration involved a lot of emails, phone calls, and texting. I’d record demos and send them to Dane for feedback. We’d have long email and text threads about potential band names and song ideas.

As we started doing the final recordings, we worked in a similarly distributed way, sending isolated tracks and mixes back and forth.

It was actually a pretty weird way to make a record. In the past we were always in the same room while playing or recording songs so working like this resulted in a much longer feedback loop. It was an interesting way to work but there were certainly times where it would have been nice to just sit down and work through an idea together.

TrunkSpace: Dave, you played guitars, bass, keys, tenor sax, bari sax and backing vocals for “Let ‘er Rip!”. We picture you looking like the guy in the Hormel Pepperoni commercials playing six instruments at once and singing, which is beyond impressive! How did you come to be so well-versed in so many instruments? And do you have a favorite that you enjoy the most?
Schwantes: I had a TON of fun playing lots of instruments on this record. I’ve always enjoyed learning new instruments and a ska band is a great place to use a lot of them. I probably had the most fun with the bass and saxophone parts.

Ska bass is always fun to play and with the style of this band I was able to build some cool little lines around simple minor scale ideas.

The saxophone work was great because I had been away from the instrument for a long time and I really enjoyed getting back into it. I spent a lot of time hanging out in my garage getting my saxophone chops back up to snuff and just getting reacquainted with the instrument. Doing the bari parts was particularly rad just because I really enjoy blatting out those loud low notes. I actually had a hard time tracking down a bari for this record and ended up having to drive about an hour out of Berkeley to rent one.

TrunkSpace: What has been most rewarding about putting together not only your EP but the creation of Grave Danger in and of itself?
Schwantes: It’s been fantastic to get to make music with old friends again. We went out of our way to involve lots of people. (My 1 1/2 year old son does some vocals in one of the songs!) Working together and hearing these songs come together has been really rewarding. We all have kids and jobs and lots of other things in life that require our attention and I love that we were able to take the time to try something crazy and weird and made it a reality.

TrunkSpace: Halloween is nearly upon us! What sort of frightful festivities will fans find Grave Danger doing on this night?
Schwantes: On Halloween night I’ll probably be eating all the Twix that I should be handing out to neighborhood kids and then I’ll be hosting a record release/late Halloween party this weekend.

TrunkSpace: What’s next for Grave Danger now that you’ve released your EP into the dark of the night? Are there more new songs or a tour in store for all the ghastly boils and ghouls out there that dig your groovy Ska and Goth brew?
Schwantes: I really want to just enjoy the release of this EP. We all put a lot of work into making it happen and it’s fun to get it out into the world. That said, I’ve started laying down the bones for some new songs. I’d love to do a full length record. I think now, more than ever, the world could use more skath.

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