opening act

Dirty Mae

Photo By: Shaun Mader

Artist: Dirty Mae

Socials: Facebook/Twitter/Instagram

Hometown: New York, NY

Members: Ben Curtis, Cassie Fireman, Robbie Frost

TrunkSpace: The band is set to release its debut full-length “Holy Mama” on September 13. As you gear up to its release, what emotions are you juggling with?
Curtis: I’m dealing with lots of excitement to share this with the world, fear that people won’t listen to it or respond the way I’d hope, and both excitement and nervousness as we get to go on the road for five weeks to play it all over the Eastern United States. I’m excited for the tour. And it’s been a LOT of work. So there’s stress, too, but mostly excitement. We’ve worked on this for two years and people are going to finally get to hear it. I can’t wait to hear the response!
Fireman: Right now I’m juggling with my feelings of being so physically far away from my band and out in the wilderness for the next three weeks. Tomorrow I embark on the most challenging three week backpacking trip of my life At the moment trails are flooded with snow, rivers are high and we’ll be hiking 10 miles a day in silence with very little phone reception. A woman fell on a mossy rock the other day and broke her jaw so I’m just gonna do my best to come back in one piece so I go on our “Holy Mama” tour! I’ll go from hiking 10 miles on a mountain to driving 10 hours a day in a car with a bunch of boys. I don’t think I could be in a car with anyone other than my band for 10 hours. (Wow, I can’t believe I just said that.) I’m so proud of this album and of how hard we worked to create it and just wanna go out there and share it with everyone! I think being in nature will give me some time to reflect and look back at all we’ve done and how far we’ve come. I tend to just “go, go, go” and I really wanna breath it all in. Maybe nature will inspire some new tunes for our next album… as long as I’m not eaten alive by a bear. (But what a fun story that would be!)
Frost: Excitement, joy, nerves, but mainly, I’m just excited to share this album with people. I think it’s a really unique and dynamic album and part of who I am is in this album. I feel like it needed to come out of us, like it were secret stories we were waiting to tell and finally got a chance.

TrunkSpace: Harmonies are a big part of “Holy Mama” and the overall sound of the band. How does that collective singing impact the songwriting itself? Is the birth of a track just as collaborative as what we hear on the album?
Fireman: I’m gonna let Ben answer this one. He thinks every band is better with harmonies and I think he’s right. Plus when we nail our harmonies it feels like we float off into this magical land and it’s really cool how it connects us. When we don’t nail our harmonies… well, it’s a very different experience. (Laughter) Also, singing “Holy Mama” together on the chorus was a choice to create a feeling of kind of looking up to the gods or something bigger than yourself for guidance. The harmonies represent a sense of surrender and we wanted all of our voices to paint that image together.
Frost: Harmonies are a big part of Dirty Mae’s sound. So much so, that we take vocal lessons together every other week at the Krowne Vocal school. Collective singing is one of my favorite parts of our band but to be honest, there are only a few songs where it has really changed the songwriting itself. Sometimes one of us will start a song and describe the story to the others, then have the other two write verses over the same chord changes. This way we all get to participate in the story, it changes the melody a bit and gives the story different perspectives. We don’t have any one way we write songs. Sometimes we will just jam and a song comes out of that and other times one of us has a whole song written and brings it to the group to help arrange.
Curtis: I’m so glad you noticed and pointed that out. I’ve always wanted a band who can harmonize. Harmonies are in my blood. With Dirty Mae, that dream has come true. And we work for it. We go to voice lessons as a band twice a month. There’s always work to be done there with ear training and tuning. It definitely adds another challenge. However, for me, growing up listening to and loving bands who harmonize (Indigo Girls, Crosby Stills Nash, country music, Alice in Chains, The Rolling Stones) it has always come naturally to me. I’m just thrilled that my bandmates let me harmonize and are willing to work on harmonies with me. It is work! However, I think harmonies take our music to another level. That’s why I love to play with them and strip away the music, so that you can really hear and feel them.

As for the birth of a track, most of our songs are super collaborative. That’s why we say they’re by “Dirty Mae” versus saying, “lyrics by ___” and “arranged by…” Cassie writes most of the lyrics. Robbie and I work a lot on arrangements, but Cassie helps with those too. Every song, each of us brings to the table is a conversation, and one that almost always evolves. There are songs we all write lyrics together (like “Brown Water”) and songs that each of us sing and write individually. For example, Robbie wrote and arranged “Face in the Moon.” I wrote and arranged “Enchante” and “Overcome.” I love that about our band. It makes anything possible and it’s what makes us so unique. I love bands with different voices, like Fleetwood Mac, where there’s a lead singer, but everyone writes and sings.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, Ben and Cassie were writing together long before the birth of Dirty Mae. Do you believe in creative love at first sight, and if so, did that connection exist immediately upon the two of you bringing your two minds together?
Frost: This one I can’t answer.
Curtis: Absolutely I believe in creative love at first sight. The universe brought our band together. No doubt. Cassie and I met on the dance floor. I had been going through an intense transition in my life and had writer’s block for over a year. Then she shared one song with me and the flood gates opened. We must have written 10 songs back and forth to each other in the first month of us dating.
With Robbie, we were playing in another band (Danny Fingers and the Thumbs) and Robbie showed up as this awesome, super sweet, humble guy who was an incredible bass player. Then one day we got to jam. He pulled out a guitar and started singing and I was blown away. This guy has such innate talent and soul. We started making music right there on the spot and the rest was history.
Fireman: Yes, for sure! I never sang in my life before this band (except in the shower and in my car when I had a car in high school). Out of nowhere… I just started writing songs obsessively and recording them on GarageBand in my bedroom. When I met Ben, he told me all about his background in music and I started sending him my songs on voice memos via text – I was WAY too embarrassed to sing them in front of him. He would send me little songs back and it was just an explosion from there on. So yes, I definitely believe in creative love at first sight. It was like that when I met Robbie, too… it all just sorta worked and there was a sense of ease and love when we were together. I think we sometimes forget that falling in love can be easy when it’s right and all we gotta do is let ourselves fall. Three years in the infatuation stage may have faded but I’m definitely still head over heels.

Photo By: Shaun Mader

TrunkSpace: What could someone learn about the band in sitting down to listen to “Holy Mama” as a whole? What does it say about Dirty Mae right now in 2019?
Curtis: Wow. That’s a great question. I think that’s completely unique to the listener. I’d love to hear what you have to say!
But to answer the question, in my opinion, I think people will learn that we are incredibly diverse, full of soul and spirit. We’re old souls with lots of emotions and our hearts are connected to everything we do. And we like to have fun. What does it say about Dirty Mae right now? Well, I think it says all of the above. And if that’s what we’re doing now, who knows where we’ll be in the future. We’re growing so quickly that I almost can’t imagine.
Fireman: WOW! You guys ask just great and thoughtful questions. Hmmm… this is a good one. I would say that there’s a lot going on… meaning that we might not even sound like the same band on some songs and that this reflects the complexity of who we are as humans – multifaceted, ever-changing beings. It also reflects how we’re moving more toward mood and experience verses music genres and moving away from labels. I understand how classification can be important in helping us understand creations in a greater context but I think we just want the listeners to feel, experience whatever is there for them rather than tell them what they should be prepared to experience.
I don’t think there’s necessarily anything to learn from this album but my personal stories are in there along with all the pain, suffering and joy that inherently comes with being alive and I guess I just hope you can hear that in my voice and recognize some of yourself somehow… and that understanding of, “Hey, we’re all in this crazy world together” really gives me a sense of, “It’s all gonna be ok.” So, I guess that’s why I want when people listen to our album. Or if you just enjoy the sound that’s cool, too. (And extra points if you dance!)
Frost: One thing you’ll learn is that we like to change the groove a lot. You think it’s heading one direction and all of a sudden it goes to a Latin rhythm, or a slow ethereal harmony part. I think that it’s more accurate to real life. One moment you’re calm and the next moment you’re frantic or excited and vice versa. I think that you’d also learn that we all have very different backgrounds. I think we do a good job of showcasing all of those musical tastes. We change styles a lot but every song sounds like “us.” There’s a quality about Dirty Mae that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

TrunkSpace: We’ve heard a number of bands talk about the post-studio doldrums that set in after they finish up a record. Did you experience any of that when you called wrap and how do you channel that creative energy when the recording process is done?
Curtis: I didn’t experience that at all. There’s so much to listen to and work on after recording. Plus we made some amazing connections and friendships with the studio musicians we brought in: Joey Arcuri (bass), Archie Cowen (sax), TJ Schaper (trombone), Chris Ploss (engineer, co-producer, drummer), Rosie Newton (fiddle). I mean everyone we met were so talented and so special. It led to us getting to open for Driftwood, to being in their music video, to being part of the Grassroots Festival family. We feel so moved by what came out of it, and now we’re playing more than ever. I’m excited to record again because we already have so many new songs. Plus it made us all better musicians and brought us closer together.
Fireman: I think I felt even more inspired after finishing our album. I was like, “What’s next?!” So I created Big Red Fest, a festival celebrating women in music and art. That’s definitely kept me busy. We premiered our first music video “Big Red” at the festival. The song is a feminist retelling of the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood. Proceeds were donated to survivors of domestic violence and we gave a private concert to women at a local shelter. Since then, we’ve opened up for two of our favorite bands, Driftwood and The Blindspots. Ben and I actually were hired by Driftwood to act in their new music video called “Lay Like You Do” (I played the roll of a cheating wife and Ben played the devastated husband). It’s a beautiful song and a heartbreaking video. In July, we won the Grassroots band contest at The Grassroots Festival in Trumansburg! The winner plays in the festival so I hope you’ll all come see us next year. Grassroots has such a special community and the people we’ve met there (especially fellow musicians) have been so humble and supportive. It blows my mind how much everyone goes out of their way to help each other out. I think one of the best things about creating Dirty Mae has been all the amazing people we keep meeting along the way.
Other than that, we’ve been super busy with the business side of things… being in a band is really a business. We have business meetings every Tuesday, sometimes in our car so we can keep our parking space.
Frost: I never really do because I never really stop working or thinking about music. I just love it that much. Everyday I practice and get more ideas about new songs. I think all of us have more than enough material to make a couple more albums. I think we could have made another album shortly after we made the last one. After the tour, I’m sure we will be talking about making another one soon.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Curtis: I’m proud of how diverse the album is, of the journey that it takes you on, and the overall production value. I’m just so proud of the quality and that it came out so well. Secretly, I love listening to our album and it always makes me feel good, so that’s a good sign. I’m also proud of us for just doing it. It takes a lot of work and faith and patience. It was a huge accomplishment for us.
Fireman: I’m proud that we took our time to really listen to each song and make sure it got whatever it needed to be complete. I remember going back to the studio to record some vocals with Chris specifically because on one song it sounded like I was saying “Larve” instead of “Love” and it bugged Robbie. But what’s even funnier is that when I went back to the studio we got distracted and worked on another thing and totally forgot to fix “Larve,” which is now a little inside joke we have. I won’t tell you which song song it is, but if you can find it, I’ll send you a T-shirt.
Frost: I’m personally most proud of “Face in the Moon.” Just because it’s a song that I’ve had in my head since I was 16. I finally feel like I finished the story and I feel like the instrumentation just totally made it. It’s a song that has piano, vocal harmonies, bass, trombone, saxophone, violin, percussion. All of it just makes it feel complete to me, and it feels really good to let it out.

TrunkSpace: There’s a lot of genre diversity in Dirty Mae’s music, but regardless of the sound, what is always present is that the listener can FEEL it. Is building that connection to the listener something that the band thinks about, especially in the studio where forming a link with the audience is not as easy as it is in a live setting?
Curtis: I love that you spoke about the feel. Can I quote you on that? I think we trust that if we’re feeling the music, other people will too. We have all the instrumentation and arrangement in there because we really feel it, so we’re glad you do too! We are definitely performers and with Cassie and I having an acting background, we’re no strangers to putting feeling into everything we do. We were definitely conscious of making sure we captured the feeling in everything we did in the studio. Anyone can play music, but not everyone can convey emotion through music. You got to have your heart in it.
Fireman: Yes, building that connection with the listener is something I’m always thinking of and care deeply about. Sometimes, I find it easier to get even more intimate in the studio where I’m free of the logistics of performing a live show. I can really hear when we are connected to the heart of our music and when we aren’t. We’ll stop and call each other out if it’s missing. Sometimes it’s challenging to connect with the emotion that sparked the song after doing it so many times, but the place it originated from is always inside of us and we help each other activate that feeling by reminding each other why we wrote it, what it reminds us of… whatever will help stimulate our hearts strings.
Frost: I think that we find something that we connect to. We don’t really talk about what the listener might like. I think that if we’re really feeling it, then someone else might too and that’s what we’re going for.

TrunkSpace: Your music feels built for a smoky club atmosphere. How conscious were you about bringing that vibe into the album, and, how did you go about achieving it because it certainly has the feeling of a classic jazz or soul album in that regard?
Curtis: (Laughter) I love this. And you’re not the first person to tell us that. We used to call ourselves “a speakeasy band for the ages.” Honestly, we didn’t have to think about that much. When we get together, that’s just what happens. It’s who we are as a group. And that smoky vibe is something I can’t get enough of. That’s the blues and jazz in us. Robbie grew up listening to jazz and blues, I’m a blues cat, and Cassie definitely has a naturally jazzy vibe too so I think it’s just who we are.
Fireman: Not conscious at all. But now that you say this you’re right, it definitely has that classic jazz or soul album feel. I guess that’s the sound that wanted to come out of us.
Frost: We were pretty conscious of creating that atmosphere. We are very much a speakeasy band and that goes along with the atmosphere of the album. I always try to have a little element of jazz because it’s one of my favorite things in the world. I’ve always loved sexy soulful jazz and especially gypsy jazz and you can hear some of that on this album.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to what you do, outside of the creative aspect, what is the most important skill set a musician needs to have in order to go on this journey that you’re on?
Curtis: Great question. I think the most important skill a musician can have for this kind of journey is patience, love and a kick ass work ethic. I love making music, but to be in a band these days, there’s so little money, you have to love it and you have to be willing to work your ass off. It’s about 80 percent business and 20 percent actually making music. That’s just the nature of the beast today, and (I hate this saying but…) “It’s what separates the men from the boys.”
Fireman: Having patience, letting a song evolve into its own creature, the ability to work on music alone in addition to the band, showing up and picking your battles wisely. I often ask myself this question, “Cassie, do you want to be right or do you want to keep the band together.” Being in a band is awesome and it’s a complicated and vulnerable relationship that needs to be nourished and respected if expected to grow.
Frost: Networking, management skills. One thing that has helped us tremendously is meeting once a week for a business meeting. We wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we are now without them.

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?
Curtis: Hell yeah! I’d love to see where that journey goes. It would also be scary to me because it might take me out of the present moment and the fun and excitement of the unknown in our future, but especially if it’s a really good outcome, I want to see it!
Fireman: Yes, for sure! I think I’ll love making music forever and enjoying whatever journey that takes me on.
Frost: Yes, I feel like I have to.

Holy Mama” is available September 13.

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Artist: Pine

Socials: Facebook/Twitter/Instagram

Hometown: Ottawa, ON

Members: Holden Egan, Darlene Deschamps, Andrew Turenne

TrunkSpace: The band is set to release its debut full-length on September 13. As you gear up to its release, what emotions are you juggling with?
Deschamps: All kinds! (Laughter) Kinda feel crazy wondering what’s next. It’s been a weird couple years making this record – lots of relief coming for all of us, for sure.

TrunkSpace: The self-titled debut follows up your EP, “Pillow Talk,” which you released in 2017. What did the band take from that experience and seeing those songs come together in the studio that you applied to the full-length?
Deschamps: How important it is to build your song structure as well as you can. Vocal layers, and then even more vocal layers this time. The band being a team and supporting each other the best we can. The LP is definitely more of what we wanted to sound like.

TrunkSpace: We’ve heard a number of bands talk about the post-studio doldrums that set in after they finish up a record. Did you experience any of that when you called wrap and how do you channel that creative energy when the recording process is done?
Deschamps: Sometimes it happens for a number of circumstances – we were always working towards something and after the studio, finally having the album finished always feels great. You come out feeling stronger and like you learned something. Sometimes after the studio, you feel more inclined to be creative because you’re so open to it, at least for me.

TrunkSpace: What could someone learn about the band in sitting down the listen to the album as a whole? What does it say about Pine right now in 2019?
Deschamps: You could learn that we had a long year while writing the record. It’s part of its energy though and when you are writing you just express your feelings at that moment in time. You captured a time frame. Right now, we are so proud of the record, and are super happy that things played out the way they did despite any error along the way because if they didn’t happen it would be a different album.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Deschamps: For myself, I’m proud of all of it. I’m proud of my vocals. I feel strong and I feel like I’ve grown. The drums are so fun and our friend Alex Brownlee did an incredible job bringing it to life. Holden got to embrace his guitar and really shine. Due to having one guitar, Andy got to groove his life away and now I get to dance way more.

TrunkSpace: How does the Pine live experience differ from what we can currently hear on the self-titled debut? Where do the songs and the overall sound become something unique to the stage?
Deschamps: Things are a little spicier live. We sometimes bring in a second guitar (Certainty’s Brent McSwiggan) and have other parts added. Sometimes we just play songs a little different. We truly have fun and love playing live.

TrunkSpace: What do you get out of being in a band, and Pine in particular, that you can’t achieve as a solo artist. Does the creativity of the rest of the group inspire your own creativity?
Deschamps: I honestly do get inspired by the rest of the group. Hearing songs gets me excited to write on them. And I think the rest of the group definitely feeds off each other based off the 8-minute jam songs they write and jam together. (Laughter) Having other people to count on you and make you want to work harder for the group and inspire you is important.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to what you do, outside of the creative aspect, what is the most important skill set a musician needs to have in order to go on this journey that you’re on?
Deschamps: All the answers, which we don’t have them. But we move forward anyway – gotta live it out and love it the best we can. You just go on.

TrunkSpace: Growing up back in the 80s, pine-scented air fresheners were our favorite scents hanging in the cars of our parents. So, what would a Pine air freshener smell like?
Deschamps: Not a pine tree ‘cause it has nothing to do with that. It would smell like cilantro because I long for it.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Deschamps: Nah, cause I don’t wanna mess with fate.

Pine’s self-titled full-length album is due September 13 from No Sleep Records.

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Artist: Junro

Socials: Fakebook/Instagram

Hometown: Southern New England

Members: Justin Wotus (lead guitar), Dave Nelson (vocals/rhythm guitar), Matt Levesque (drums), Dan Roellke (bass)

TrunkSpace: Can a city or region impact a band and their sound, and if so, how have your New England roots influenced Junro?
Roellke: I think it can, for sure. I think that the northeast has some great musical influences. With Berklee College of Music being in Boston and with NYC being so close to CT where most of our band members live, we’re surrounded by talent. There are so many great New England-based bands out there that keep setting the bar higher for Junro with every new thing we try to do. It’s exciting and we’re all super happy to be part of it.

TrunkSpace: You recently released your sophomore album “From Hell.” For first-time listeners, what would they learn about the band in sitting down to listen to it in its entirety?
Roellke: For a first-time listener, I think what would immediately jump out is how unique yet familiar the overall sound is. We all grew up in the ‘90s which was arguably one the best times for rock music. That coupled with each band member’s range of musical influences and experience, “From Hell” showcases that. It’s accessible for the average music consumer, yet there’s also something to chew on for the technical music lovers.

TrunkSpace: We’ve heard a number of bands talk about the post-studio doldrums that set in after they finish up a record. Did you experience any of that when you called wrap on “From Hell” and how do you channel that creative energy when the recording process is done?
Roellke: In my opinion, the “post-studio doldrums” are iterative. After releasing the album, it had been received SUPER well and it was very exciting getting all the positive feedback. However, the doldrums really come when we play a show that doesn’t turn out as expected. We play some great shows and we feel that we’re on top of the world, and then we play some that are not-so-great and make us question our existence. (Laughter) So, it has been a fun cycle of feeling like kings, followed by self-loathing, rinse, repeat. But overall, we love it and all of it motivates us to make that next release or next show the best one yet.

TrunkSpace: The world seems to have ADD when it comes to focusing on any one thing these days. We have become a short attention span society. Is it daunting putting an album out into the – something you put so much of yourself into – and then having to cut through the noise to bring the eyes and ears to the table?
Roellke: It can be daunting, for sure. However, based on our last two releases, we have a decent idea on what markets to target for our sound. Obviously, our sound will cut through the noise for some folks more than others and we work hard to make sure we bring the people who would love it to the table through targeting.

TrunkSpace: What would your 13-year-old self think of “From Hell” and your musical journey as an adult thus far?
Roellke: I think “From Hell” is catchy enough to keep my 13-year-old self interested. I think there is also enough interesting musical parts on the record that would inspire me to be a better player. I started playing guitar for the first time right around that age, so I would be trying to figure out the songs and better my ability. We find that the majority of those who like our music are also musicians themselves which makes us all proud. At 13, I never thought I would be playing original music on stage, yet we all have that dream, right? I think we are far from living that “dream” per se but I think some of the things we’ve done would be impressive to a 13-year-old in the early 2000s. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Roellke: I am most proud of how well it was received. When we first put out our first record, “Throwing Stones,” people liked it, but we also got our share of typical social media trolls dolling out hate for the sound. This time around with “From Hell” we only got some hate from maybe two people? So it’s something we are proud of for sure. It’s a great feeling to put out something unique and your own and have people love it.

TrunkSpace: What do you get out of being in a band, and Junro in particular, that you can’t achieve as a solo artist. Does the creativity of the rest of the group inspire your own creativity?
Roellke: What I love about being in Junro is how it has forced me to step outside of my comfort zone musically. It’s forced me to be a better player. It’s really made me think outside the box. Junro’s sound is definitely a sum of its parts and I don’t think any of us would produce something as unique as solo artists. Being surrounded by these great players really inspire me to come up with musical ideas I would never have, and I think we all feed off of each other’s creativity.

TrunkSpace: Has there been a moment where you’ve considered walking away from music, and if so, what kept you on the current path you’re on?
Roellke: Totally. Alluding back to the “post-studio doldrums” comment, sometimes, at least for me, I question our existence. I feel like every artist has those feelings at least once in a while. We all have day jobs and lives outside of the band that need to take priority sometimes and when things aren’t going great, it’s definitely something that I have considered. What keeps me in the game is focusing on the good. Focusing on the new. The next step. Every one of us supports each other both in and outside of the band so the positive energy from all of us really keeps us moving forward.

TrunkSpace: What do you consider to be “success” in the music industry and do you feel like Junro has achieved it?
Roellke: Every few months we all ask each other what “success” means for Junro. (Laughter) It’s really tough to define what “success” is in today’s music industry. I think, for us, it’s a sum of all the little successes. Setting small, obtainable goals and reaching them. The next release, opening for a national act, selling out a local show, a new music video, things like that.

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?
Roellke: I would. We have too much fun creating music and playing it live to not take the journey. Even if in 10 years we remain exactly where we are now, I would still do it.

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Artist: Defoe

Socials: Facebook/Instagram/Twitter

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

TrunkSpace: You released your debut album, “Too Soon To Cry,” on July 1. What emotions do you juggle with as you prepare to release songs into the world?
Defoe: I’ve put so much love and care into each millisecond of every song I honestly feel relieved to finally put something out that is mine and while caring for my two year old. I’m super proud of it like an audio art sculpture. I say bring on the positive and negative criticism, it will not change how I feel about this whole wonderful process.

TrunkSpace: As an artist, are you someone who has a hard time letting go of the art that you create? Is it difficult to put so much of yourself into something and then once released, have so much how it finds and connects with an audience be out of your hands?
Defoe: It used to be. I’ve been making songs in private for the past 15 years. I guess I never had the confidence, and at the time I felt exposed and vulnerable. Now that I’m older and a mother, my views on creating and sharing with the world has drastically changed. My husband pushed me for years to go back to working on my own music and I strongly resisted with a lot of shame. Thanks to him pushing me so hard by building back my confidence and the friends and family in my life encouraging me, I dedicated a year to creating and finishing my first album.

TrunkSpace: For first-time listeners, what would they learn about you as a person and as an artist in sitting down to listen to “Too Soon To Cry” in its entirety?
Defoe: That I’m a dreamer. I love creating landscapes and visual moods in all my songs. I treat every song like a different movie set and let the actors (the notes) have the freedom to take over the listeners’ hearts. I’m not out to make cool music or fit into a genre – I’m into making every moment to feel right and vibey. So they will definitely know that by how different every track is on the record.

TrunkSpace: Music has been a part of your life since you were very young. What would 9-year-old Defoe – the girl who stepped into the studio for the first time – think about “Too Soon To Cry” and your journey as an artist to date?
Defoe: I think 9-year-old me would think I was a magical princess from a secret place far away. I don’t think she will focus on the struggle and the pain during my journey, but she will see amazing opportunities I’ve had and be super excited to grow up into a woman who makes such beautiful music.

TrunkSpace: Early in your journey you were being groomed for a career in country music. Was it inevitable that you stray from that genre path? When did you realize that it wasn’t the type of music you were meant to be writing and performing?
Defoe: When I was younger I was taken under the wing of a talented group of people that wanted to create a new young pop/country crossover artist. Though I love all kinds of music, I was not particularly favoring country music at that time, but I was able to sing it. I worked with legendary musicians and amazing people in the industry. At that time I didn’t write any of the songs or give any input creatively – I just didn’t have the confidence or self awareness yet. At the end of the day I felt like I had to fake a whole other identity to become an artist I wasn’t, so I made the painful decision to walk away before releasing. It taught me that I was not into the side of the manufactured music business and taught me the process in which records were made, and I also made life long valuable friendships. So, I think that’s why I insist on working on every track myself. It may be a bit extra work on my part, but at the end of the day I’m happy with all my end products.

TrunkSpace: You grew up with music all around you. 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?
Defoe: My parents gave me the most nurturing upbringing for a creative kid by giving me freedom. Freedom to choose my own weird outfits even if they were mismatched. Freedom to act like a weirdo around the house. I was a late talker – didn’t start speaking 3 1/2 to 4 years old. They watched what I gravitated to and saw I liked to sing so they bought me a microphone and a mini piano at 3 years old. My mom surrounded me with movies with amazing movie scores and my father played golden oldies radio. What a perfect storm for what was to come.

TrunkSpace: You have worked behind the scenes with other artists over the years. How has working with other creatives inspired your own creative path?
Defoe: I love giving the artist confidence in themselves by showing them cool things their voice CAN do as opposed to focusing on what their voice cannot. I love working on different genres and working in constraints of each genre. I learn so many skills and new things from each process. I usually can’t wait to try it on my own stuff. I also learn where my weaknesses are. By identifying some of my weak points (usually drums), I’ve learned to let go of my pride in that area and bring other talented people to help me. Why let a song suffer because I insist on doing everything myself?

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Defoe: Knowing when to stop. I tend to be an audio maximalist. (Laughter) Some times knowing when a song is finished can be tough. I want to keep nourishing it.

TrunkSpace: When all is said and done and you hang up your instruments, what do you hope to be remembered for? What do you want your legacy to be?
Defoe: That no matter your age and how low you feel on your luck, you always chance to start over and do what makes you happy. A busy mother can still achieve her dreams and create mind-blowing art. People with anxiety and depression can find a way out and use their experiences to create and inspire others through their story. Feeling so blessed with the gift to create – I intend creating art for as long as I’m alive.

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?
Defoe: Easy. No. Definitely not. Life is about the mysteries that are around each corner and facing each challenge. I would lose the awe of life and see my world as bleak. Losing the will to fight for possible achievements sounds like a recipe for disaster. I’ll bore in the journey instead of embracing it. The fight is so important for us as human beings. I know that’s dramatic, but that’s how I feel.

To Soon To Cry” is available now.

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Alias Patrick Kelly


Artist: Alias Patrick Kelly

Socials: Facebook/Twitter/Instagram

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

TrunkSpace: You recently released your new EP, An Unclaimed Inheritance.For you, as an artist, what is the journey like in bringing something like this to life and releasing it out into the world? Does it require a bit of personal unplugging from the music at some point in order to let the universe take control?
Kelly: I’d say that curiosity is the first thing at least as far as the writing goes. In that way it’s a completely selfish act. The first and only person that I’m looking to satisfy is myself. I REALLY enjoy writing songs. I want to know what’s rattling around in my head. I want to see how far a moment of inspiration can go. Can I see it through to becoming a “complete” idea? Will it have a sense of balance? Does it have enough restraint to allow the listener to draw their own conclusion? There’s a lot of “wonder” in the act itself. Ninety-five percent of what I write begins on an acoustic guitar but I’ve got a Logic Pro set up at the house which really helps bring the songs to life. I’ll usually demo the acoustic and the vocal to a click. Then the really exciting part begins. I’ll program drum parts in Ultrabeat and then start finding melodies and electric guitar sounds. It’s about 50/50 as far as knowing what I want and just playing around with sounds and ideas to find out “what the song wants.” I love the accidents and discoveries that happen along the way. If I find something unexpected that gives me goosebumps or just trips me out then that’s usually the part I keep. Again, it goes back to a sense of wonder, curiosity, and play. After demoing I’ll take the songs into an actual studio and cut everything “for real.” Demoing at home as thoroughly as I do saves so much time in the studio. Not just mine but everybody involved in the recording. On this EP I did most of the studio work with a band as opposed to my last album which was done with my drummer Mike Froedge and then me playing 90 percent of all the other stuff. The end result paid off in quality, feel, and time management. My guitarist, Matt Hanson, took my melody sketches and finessed them into something more lyrical especially on songs like “Invisible” and “West.” Bruce Butkovich (also my co-Producer) put his own swagger on the bass parts I had initially sketched. I enjoy both ways of working but it’s always better when you’re in good company.

To answer your second question – yeah, after writing, recording, mixing, and mastering I unplug from the musical aspects of the EP. Time to dream up a title and a cover. Do I just release it on Bandcamp or do I try to push it further out into the world career wise? Does it make sense for a guy at my level to make a music video? Should I make two videos? It’s the unsexy part of the process but it’s been enormously insightful learning about the best ways to get the release into people’s hands, whether it’s to get it reviewed or simply heard. However, while all of this is being planned and arranged I still make time to sit down with my acoustic and write more. It’s what I enjoy the most.

TrunkSpace: You infuse the songs on the EP with a lot of emotion. Does music act a bit like therapy for you throughout the creative process or are you on the outside looking in and taking more of a storytellers approach?
Kelly: There’s definitely both but it’s probably 80 percent therapy. It’s the main reason I pick up my guitar up at all. It doesn’t matter if I’m actively working on a song or simply playing for the enjoyment of it – I do it to feel better. To my wife, it’s probably most noticeable in the morning. If I can wake up before everybody and take my guitar outside and play for an hour or two, my attitude is much more manageable for everyone, including myself. If I wake up to an alarm and just hit the ground running and don’t stop until bedtime then I end up feeling like I wasted my entire day no matter how many chores/errands I got done or how much money I made at the day job. A day without any creative alone time to me is always a bit overcast.

As far as the storyteller approach, there’s always a bit of me and my experience rolling around in there. For example, “Lamb” is a fictional story about a young man who grew up without a father and ends up in jail as a result of no one having been there to help raise him into a man. Even though it’s fiction the song is a result of my own “anxiety” due to the fact that I had just become a step father to a little girl who doesn’t know her bio-dad. That song is probably my sub-conscious telling me, “Don’t screw her up. She needs you. Be there and be present for her.” Creating a fiction loaded with facts is always more interesting than just the plain facts. It has the potential to become something more mythical than simply historical. For entertainment purposes, mythical is always better.

TrunkSpace: You have mentioned that at times the idea for a song more or less drops into your lap and that it can feel a bit like youre not the one doing the writing. Are you someone who can shut off the creative brain or do you find that youre always playing around with ideas, even on a subconscious level?
Kelly: I’m always working on things sub-consciously. Tucking away little ideas comes in handy later when the actual “moment” arrives. It leaves them readily available to draw from. It’s like cache memory in a computer. I don’t know if it’s a skill or an instinct but it’s definitely there in me. Songs and ideas seem to have more purpose and depth when they’ve been sitting around in the back of my mind simmering for awhile. Often I don’t even realize that my brain is putting things together and then all of a sudden along comes a trigger – chord progression, melody, conversation, etc – then the next thing I know is I’m having that “eureka” moment of inception. That’s typically what I’m looking for. When I first started to attempt songwriting I didn’t really have moments like that. I didn’t know how to access it or how to nurture it but over time I figured it out and discovered what works for me. It took patience and work, I had to earn it. I respect those “eureka” moments. I don’t have to finish the song right then and there (although I always try to), but as long as I have the foundation of what the song needs to be I can come back and hammer out the details later if necessary. That part is work but I enjoy it as well.

TrunkSpace: For first-time listeners, what would they learn about you as a person and as an artist in sitting down to listen to An Unclaimed Inheritancein its entirety?
Kelly: Sincerity – first and foremost. I want the listener to know that I mean it and that I’m invested. I’m a writer not because I want to entertain, I’m a writer because I want to learn and understand my experiences as a human. It’s how I figure out how to proceed with my own life whether I’m doing it through a character or blatantly and out in the open.

TrunkSpace: Our influences always find their way into our work. Sometimes its subtle and unplanned, and other times its more obvious and purposeful. As you listen back to the songs that you have created on the EP, where do you hear your musical influences trickling through?
Kelly: For me they usually come out subtly. I’m a big fan of John Frusciante’s work as a solo artist as well as his work with the Chili Peppers. Every now and then I’ll find myself approaching a lead guitar melody the way that he might. It’s probably most evident on the songs “Lamb” and “West.” I played bass on a few songs on the EP and really tried to give them their own melodic space separate from the main melodies that are out in front. I’m pretty sure I picked that up from Eric Avery (Jane’s Addiction) and Simon Gallup (The Cure). “Old Boy” and “Tallest of Trees” would be the best examples. I like how Maynard from Tool will utilize humor to make some sort of cuttingly profound point in a song. There’s a bit of that in the second verse of “Gasoline.” Other than things like that I’d say my influences are more between the lines. I want my songs to be “me” more than obviously influenced by someone else. If the influences start to become too obvious I try my best to hide them. I want to stand on my own.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with An Unclaimed Inheritanceand how it all came together in the end?
Kelly: I’m proud of all of it but the thing I’m most proud of is when I let go of the wheel and trusted others to execute something that I would’ve normally done myself. As I mentioned earlier, I played almost everything on my previous album “Corruptibility Index” by myself except the drums and a couple of other instruments. My decision to record most of the EP in a band environment was because I wanted to do it quicker than the last album. Recording takes time away from my family and I wanted to minimize that by getting a lot of the basic tracks in one take. We had rehearsed pretty thoroughly beforehand whether it was one-on-one or as a group. My guys nailed it!

TrunkSpace: Can you envision a day when music is not a part of your everyday life? How important is it to who you are as a person, never mind as an artist?
Kelly: Nope. I love it. Totally have to have it in my life. It’s just always been there whether it was watching my parents singing duets at church or “The Partridge Family” coming on TV when I was a kid. My first memories are of me singing in the car with my father. I remember him trying to show me the difference between the different vocal harmonies going on. I still like to just sit around and listen to music alone. Not just songs but entire albums. I’m an album guy for sure. It’s always been soothing or simply fascinating to me.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Kelly: Time management. I have a family, a full time job, an erratic part time job, and I play bass guitar in another band. I don’t always carve out as much time as I should to write or practice. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. If too much time goes by without actually playing or writing music alone I usually end up feeling pretty low until I get that guitar back in my hands. It’s in those times that I can turn into a grouch and a bit of a prick.

TrunkSpace: The video for your single Invisibleis racking up the views. Is bringing a visual element to a piece of music something you enjoy? Are you able to appease a different part of your creative brain in expanding on the narrative like that?
Kelly: As long as there is a purpose to the visual then ‘yes.’ “Invisible” is a song that was just begging for a video. I felt that something visual to accompany that song would make the message clearer. I’d never made one before so I was definitely nervous. My friend Jim Johnson directed it. He’d done some work on commercials, short films but I think this was the first thing he ever really led. It was great though, you could tell he was ready to “level up.” He had that confidence and enthusiasm. He really believed in the song. Originally, he was going to charge me for the video which I had agreed to but after I sent him the song and the lyric sheet he called me back and said that he’d do it for nothing. There are people in his life dealing with post combat PTSD. I think that he really wanted to do it for them. He and the producer, Jaime Spaar, found the lead actor, Adam Bresler. I’m good enough in the video whenever I show up but Bresler is the one that really ‘sells’ it. It’s his show. He was an Army Medic for a long time who saw combat. He’s lived everything that “Invisible” is about. It’s very generous of him to go on camera and ‘re-open’ that place inside of him where he keeps all of those memories. He’s very proactive in his recovery and I think that making this video has been cathartic for him. Not just for his own sake but because he can share the video with others who are going thru it. In fact, he’s more responsible for the views it’s getting than I am. He’s really proud of it.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Kelly: Absolutely. Forward is the only way. I always want to know what comes next.

An Unclaimed Inheritance” is available now.

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Luke Hogan


Artist: Luke Hogan

Socials: Facebook/Instagram

Hometown: Portland, OR

TrunkSpace: You built the studio that you ultimately recorded your album in. Walk us through what that initial moment was like when you went from starting out in that space as a carpenter to returning to it as a singer-songwriter? Did it feel like you had traveled full circle?
Hogan: It was really cool to get to work in a space I had created, and with the person I had created it with. (Tomas Dolas, “Thank You Stranger” producer.) Anyone who’s ever been to a recording studio can appreciate how important it is to be comfortable with the space and the people you’re working with – I certainly had that luxury this time around. Also, it was fun to pop by when other bands were working in there – everyone seemed to really enjoy working in the studio we made.

TrunkSpace: As we mentioned, you’re a carpenter by trade. At this point, as you gear up to release your debut album, do you still see yourself as a carpenter first? Has there been an internal transition for you in terms of how you see yourself as your focus has changed?
Hogan: I am really trying my best to make the transition to seeing myself as a musician first as we speak – mostly it’s just been reflected in my paycheck – but I am spending way more time on music stuff, booking, gigging more, etc. The process of putting out this first record has forced me to focus on things like that. Right now it kinda feels like I have two part-time jobs.

TrunkSpace: How long had “Thank You Stranger” been itching to get out of you? Was this a long and winding journey for you to see the album become a reality?
Hogan: I certainly wouldn’t argue with that characterization. Some of these songs have been around for a really long time – “Nothing Special,” the closing track, is from 2004. But there are also newer songs on the record that didn’t exist when we started recording, so I’m glad we didn’t rush. Moving across the country to LA, then back home, then back to LA, then up to the Northwest, with plenty of detours along the way, all these events were part of the process of making and putting out this record. So yes, I suppose it has been a bit of an adventure. And it’s still actually not out yet…

TrunkSpace: For first-time listeners, what would they learn about you as a person and as an artist in sitting down to listen to “Thank You Stranger” in its entirety?
Hogan: Hopefully they don’t just think I’m some sad bastard. I think overall this record is really about trying to find your place, which is something most people can identify with, so ideally listeners would be able to find some common ground there. Hopefully they hear somebody who’s trying his best to make it all fit together in an honest and thoughtful way.

TrunkSpace: You have said that you connect with records on a very personal level. As someone who builds those connections with music, is there something kind of thrilling to putting an album out into the world knowing that you could be paying that same feeling forward – someone could be connecting to your music in the very same way?
Hogan: For sure, that’s really the point for me. I really enjoy writing, performing and recording but the end goal is to create something that people connect with. If there was some kid in high school who was just starting to write songs and he took influence from my record, that would be amazing.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with “Thank You Stranger” and how it all came together in the end?
Hogan: I’m really proud of all the people who helped make this record a reality, whether they played on it, made artwork for it, produced it, whatever – everyone did an amazing job and for very little compensation, if any at all. They know who they are. In terms of the record itself, it definitely feels to me like it tells a story, and certainly captures a very transformative period of my life. I’m really happy with the variety of instrumentation as well – some songs are full band, some more minimal. I think we really used the studio and all that it had to offer to its full potential. Right now, at least, it really feels like I made the record I wanted to make.

TrunkSpace: If you weren’t on your current path with “Thank You Stranger,” would creating music still be a part of your life, even if you weren’t sharing the results with people like you are now?
Hogan: Definitely, music was always more than just a hobby even when I was just writing songs at home and not really sharing them with anyone. It’s always been a big part of how I identify myself.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Hogan: It’s always been my goal to excel as a lyricist, so I suppose that’s where I am hardest on myself, but really the whole writing process is what I take the most seriously. But part of taking your writing seriously also involves trying not to take it too seriously, so there’s always that.

TrunkSpace: Music is a passion. Carpentry is a passion. Do the two ever intersect for you? Is there anything about the two – crafting something out of nothing – that excites the same part of your brain?
Hogan: Yes, obviously building Studio 22 and making this record there is a very literal example of the two intersecting, but on another level, for two things that are such a big part of one’s life it would be foolish not to expect them to intersect in many other ways, even ways you don’t necessarily see play out before your eyes. It would be interesting to find out which parts of the brain are excited by more physical, concrete creativity (like carpentry), as opposed to more abstract creativity, and if they overlap at all.

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?
Hogan: At this point, I think I’m all in, so yes. I’m hoping for the best.

Thank You Stranger” will be available this Fall. Hogan’s latest single, “Windowpane,” is available now.

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Cosmo Gold


Artist: Cosmo Gold

Socials: Facebook/Instagram/Twitter

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Members: Emily Gold, Peter Maffei, Stephen Burns, Mike Deluccia

TrunkSpace: Your debut EP was released on June 7. Did the band feel any pressure in delivering on the songs in a way that served as the best possible introduction of Cosmo Gold to the masses? Did that “This is our first impression…” focus ever trickle into the process?
Gold: Naturally, we wanted to make a good impression but when we initially began the writing process we didn’t even know we were going to be starting over as a “new” band. This project evolved from my previous band, Velvet, and the songs just seemed to organically become this other thing. So I’m not sure we would have done anything different if it had been, say, our second or third release. However, I think track listing and choosing the order of the singles was subject to that focus.

TrunkSpace: In sitting down to listen to your music for the first time, what do you think someone might learn about Cosmo Gold through the music itself?
Gold: I think the wide variety of our influences will come through.

TrunkSpace: What would your 10-year-old self think about the EP? Would she be surprised by the musical journey you’ve traveled thus far as an adult?
Gold: I would be proud of how far my musicianship has come but I’m not sure I’d be surprised. I loved super lush, dramatic kind of arrangements even as a kid and would make Garageband tracks in middle school using all the strings, drum loops, etc. It was basically a primordial version of how I like to make music now.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to Cosmo Gold songs, are they ever truly finished? Is what we hear on “Waiting On The City” the same version of the songs we’d hear in a live setting a year from now, or do you find yourselves always tinkering and tweaking?
Gold: Who knows! Always open to growth if a better musical choice bubbles up through performance or if we had different resources or sonic limitations. If we somehow played the Hollywood Bowl, for example, you bet your ass I’m getting a full orchestra and choir with like three extra guitar players.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Gold: The final arrangements. My band and I were pretty meticulous about every element – we ripped some of the songs apart and re-recorded/rewrote parts. “Carnivore pt. I (Beautiful Day)” and “Carnivore pt. II & III” is especially fun to listen through and remember all of the choices we made. We thought about that one a lot and I’m really proud with how it turned out.

TrunkSpace: You’ve all been involved in other projects over the years. What is it about this one and its members that fuels your creative fire?
Gold: I think our commitment to communication and collaboration. We all have a say in the creative and musical direction of the band, which is both exciting and challenging. Also, we are like family. We live together and hang out all the time so it doesn’t feel like the band is separated in any way from the rest of our lives.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Gold: Live performances. If we have a weird set I have a hard time not being bummed about it. But, I now also see it as an opportunity for growth.

TrunkSpace: Many musicians say that music is a form of therapy. Is it that way for you? How has creating music helped you navigate this wild ride we call life?
Gold: Absolutely. I don’t know how people get through life without expressing themselves creatively. Writing songs is cathartic for me. It takes a complex emotion and puts it into a neat three to five minute thing that exists outside of the brain. It’s very satisfying.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your musical career thus far?
Gold: Working on this record.

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?
Gold: Yikes! Seems like a freaky Butterfly Effect type of situation!

Waiting On The City” is available now.

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Artist: Tanbark

Socials: Facebook/Instagram/Twitter

Hometown: New York, NY

Members: Chloe Nelson and James Jannicelli

TrunkSpace: Your latest album drops today. What kind of emotions do you juggle with as you gear up to release new material into the world?
Nelson: Certainly a mix of nerves and excitement, but also a sense of relief. There’s a kind of unsettled feeling that goes along with living with this unreleased music for so long, but every day that the release gets closer, that feeling goes away a bit.

TrunkSpace: There’s so much music out there… most of which is accessible in a click or two. Can that be an overwhelming thought when you consider how crowded the landscape is?
Nelson: It can feel that way. But it’s amazing how, once you start to find where you fit into that landscape, you realize that it’s not so much one big crowded landscape, but lots of little mini-landscapes that don’t seem nearly as overwhelming. Being in New York has been so much fun because, of course, there’s everything here. Incredible jazz players, bluegrass players, rappers, DJs. It all enriches the music scene, but it’s so varied that things don’t crowd each other.

TrunkSpace: There’s so much to love about your new album, but what we enjoyed most was that it has a complete front-to-back feel to it… like an album produced in the 1960s. Was that something you set out to achieve when you first started to put the record together?
Nelson: We definitely wanted that sort of thing from the beginning. We love albums and that’s just kind of the world we come from. But I think the album kind of naturally took shape during the writing and recording process, rather than being planned out. The songs are written separately from each other over years, but then recorded all at once over days or weeks. So maybe there’s two songs that could be done with a similar feel, but you end up doing one of them softer or faster or with a different arrangement, because you’ve already recorded a few of the others and you can suddenly see a new way for this one to fit in.

TrunkSpace: Beyond writing and recording the music itself, what was the most enjoyable aspect of bringing the album to life? What is something that the average person may not consider, that in the end, you look back on fondly in terms of the process?
Nelson: The demo’ing process pushed us in a couple directions, and it felt serendipitous when things finally fell into place. For example, we picked up my grandfather’s classical guitar and created a delicate strumming pattern for “Ragdoll Blues” that we ended up keeping for the recording. Then, the actual recording process involves moments of downtime and introspection, and it was great hanging out with our fellow musicians and engineers. Having lunch together, talking about music, seeing what everybody else is into at the moment, what they’re excited about. All of that stuff really ends up feeding into the music, and it’s fun to look back and see how much the album is a product of that particular moment with those particular people.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Nelson: I am really proud of the vulnerability that you can hear in the album. We tried to reference a mellow Laurel Canyon-esque musical landscape, but ground it in personally meaningful songs.

TrunkSpace: We love great music, but within great music we are particularly drawn to great lyrical snippets – the kind that make us curse the universe for not coming up with ourselves. What is a favorite line of yours off of the album and why?
Nelson: Probably the first lines from “Châtelet.”

The way you hold your pen/ You make the men go crazy/ Tell you over again/ A philosopher is not a lady

The song is written from the perspective of Voltaire, and it is addressing his lover (and one-time protegée), the great thinker and physicist Emilie du Châtelet. I was reading a biography about their affair, and I was struck by how ahead of their time they were and also how Châtelet was limited by being a wonderful mind in a woman’s body. I love thinking about the repercussions of putting pen to paper and what that meant for them.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourselves as artists?
Nelson: We’re always working on being better musicians and writing the most honest songs possible. It is definitely hard to finish one song, let alone a whole album.

TrunkSpace: What has music brought into your life that you would have never expected? Has there been a benefit or side effect that you would have missed out on had you not pursued this path?
Nelson: The musicians we meet. We’ve had evenings where everything just sparks, whether that is in our rehearsal space, in the studio, or on stage. Those connections are magic.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your musical career thus far?
Nelson: It is hard to pinpoint one thing, but I love the tangibility of finishing and releasing a song that has been brewing for years. Every time it is exhilarating!

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?
Nelson: Yes – why not? I’m looking at my tea bag right now and it has a Lord Byron quote on it: “There is pleasure in the pathless woods.” You never know what magic is in store (or what perils!), but hopefully we can continue to share our music and meet more like-minded spirits.

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The Great Palumbo


Artist: The Great Palumbo

Socials: Twitter/Instagram/Facebook

Hometown: Nashville, TN

Members: Peter Campbell, Harrison Hall, Will Stevens

TrunkSpace: TrunkSpace premiered your latest single, “World is Wide,” a day before it officially dropped on April 26. What kind of emotions do you juggle with as you release new music to the masses?
Campbell: It always gives me anxiety. I’m a pretty anxious person anyway, so that is definitely heightened during the run up to a release. But, by the time the release actually happens, the song is what it is. I’m proud of and believe in every song we release (otherwise we wouldn’t release them), so I just try to focus on what I can control. And the validation of seeing something go out into the world that has just been sitting in my Google Drive for eons feels really good.

TrunkSpace: Is it difficult to avoid assigning expectations to singles and/or albums? How do you separate the creative from a desire to capture as big of an audience for the art as possible?
Campbell: It’s been difficult in the past, but it’s getting easier. In the end, all you can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and appreciate the small victories as they come to you.

There’s a saying I hear around the songwriting world. “Don’t write for anyone; write for

someone.” I think about this a lot.

Yeah, I want to capture as big an audience as possible, but in writing, I think it’s important to put the blinders on. Be yourself. Be real. Be specific. Be vulnerable. Not every song will resonate with every person, but trying to write what you think people around you want to hear is a great way to make sure your writing doesn’t resonate with anyone. All you can do is pour yourself into each song, and have faith that you’re not the only person who feels the way you do. Because you definitely are not.

So when it comes time to release the song, all you can do is put it out and hope for the best. If it was written from a real place, it will find an audience.

TrunkSpace: “World is Wide” is from your forthcoming EP, “Into the Dark,” which is set to be released on June 7. What did you hope to accomplish with the EP as a whole, and now that you’re in the final stretch of seeing it all come together, do you feel comfortable that you accomplished those goals?
Campbell: There’s a lot that I hoped for, but the only hard-set goal for this EP is to establish a “basecamp” for this project. This is our first set of releases, so prior to this, we were in sort of a pre-existence. Just being on the map with something that we can be proud of is huge. And even though it’s not June 7 yet, I already feel like this is something that is being accomplished.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the upcoming EP?
Campbell: The run up to this EP was LONG. I relocated to Nashville to officially start this project a little more than three years ago, and in that time I have had to work through a lot. Relocation carries with it inherent challenges already (money, community, etc.), but also, plugging into Nashville’s music scene doesn’t happen overnight when you’re starting from scratch. I have learned SO much since being here, and seeing this project come to fruition after all that time is extremely validating. Bringing it to life took a lot more time, money, and work than I ever imagined, but now that we’re here, I feel proud to have stuck with it and followed through on this vision. It’s been an empowering experience, and I feel poised to build this project into something really cool.

TrunkSpace: The seed of The Great Palumbo was first planted in Hanoi, Vietnam. Would the band exist today if not for that personal and creative journey? Would your artistic path have been dramatically different?
Campbell: Hm, good question. It would definitely exist… but it would be different, because I would be different.

This is not to say that I became a different person than I would have otherwise been, but I feel like I’m a lot further down that path today than I would have been if I had stayed at home. I’m a big advocate for people living in foreign cultures for extended periods of time because it massively accelerates personal growth. I have a lot to say about this but I’ll do my best to stay on topic…

So – to bring this back to music – my stylistic sensibilities have definitely gotten to be more eclectic through my travels, but that’s surface-level. To delve a bit deeper, I don’t think I started to seriously do business with who I am and how I related to the world around me until Hanoi.

This process is still ongoing for me, and it heavily informs my writing. There is definitely some unpacking of this stuff on the EP, especially around the themes of spirituality and belonging.

TrunkSpace: The band is currently based out of Nashville. For decades it has been a city associated with country music, but there is so much happening there right now that it has become a genre melting pop. What is it like creating in such a creatively rich city? Does that energy feed your own drive?
Campbell: Oh man, I could gush about this for hours. You’re right, Nashville has traditionally been “the mothership” for country music, but there’s SO much more going on here now than just that. The amount that is happening in this city on any given day of the week is staggering. This is a place that punches well above its weight class.

As a musician, moving here can be a bit overwhelming. The level of talent here is off the charts, so it can definitely be intimidating at times, but it also forces you to constantly be growing and improving. Now that I’ve got my feet under me, my day to day is really exciting when I’m fully engaged with what is happening here. It’s a really special community of people, and this talent pool has had a profound impact on this project already. The level of musicianship and professionalism that has been poured into this project already has been really humbling, and we’re excited to be pushing deeper as we move forward!

TrunkSpace: What do you get being in a band that you couldn’t achieve in a solo capacity?
Campbell: This is an interesting question. The further into this I get, the more I realize that it takes a village. Even artists that are “solo” on paper, often have teams of people working with them that can closely resemble what many might call a “band.” There really aren’t many artists that are truly solo, and being one of them was never something I really aspired to.

One big thing I personally get out of it is a sense community and camaraderie. It feels good to be a part of a team. But more to the point, this is not a project that is reflective of the talents of just one person. Even from the outset, it was clear that some form of collaboration was always going to be part of the deal, so it was important to me that the project be structured in a way that was reflective of that, and would accommodate some evolution through time.

TrunkSpace: We talked briefly at the start of the conversation about finding a balance between the creative and the commercial. What are your long-term hopes for the band? What is the best best case scenario for The Great Palumbo?
Campbell: Of course I want this project to be rewarding, profitable, etc., for everybody involved, but ultimately that was always going to be a secondary goal.

The best case scenario is that the music we are making connects with tons of people all over the world, and we get to travel to share that music with them and see the impact of what we are doing in real life. That connection is where it all needs to start and what it all need to come back to.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Campbell: Being an independent artist is funny because sometimes it feels like 95 percent of what you have to do to get your project off the ground doesn’t have much to do with your art. It’s mostly repetitive, administrative, financial, logistical, etc. Some people love the nuts and bolts of this world, but for me, it’s all worth it for the magic that happens the other five percent of the time. Late nights in the studio, creating something from nothing, breathing life into ideas and feeling how those ideas connect everybody in the room. This will always be the highlight for me.

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?
Campbell: Oh for sure. If the information is available, I want it in my brain.

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Cricket Blue

Photo By: Monika Rivard

Artist: Cricket Blue

Socials: Twitter/Instagram/Facebook

Hometown: Burlington, VT

TrunkSpace: Your latest album, “Serotinalia,” dropped May 10. As artists, is it difficult relinquishing control over your work and releasing it into the world? Does it ever feel overwhelming?
Heaberlin: Honestly, it feels nice. We started working on the album a year and eight months before the release (and started writing the songs years before that in some cases) and it feels great to be out of the stage where we would listen to the same song we’d heard a thousand times saying, “At two minutes in, did I say the word ‘garbage’ too strangely? Should we swap it out?” or “I know I thought the trumpet was too quiet last listen through but now I think it’s too loud.” It feels good to think of the album as a whole, finished thing, rather than under a microscope. It’s much better that way! And we’re so happy that people are interacting with the album now in their own ways.

TrunkSpace: The title of the album is so interesting, and we wonder, are these songs – the messages and meanings behind them – a response to the environment we’re currently living in? Would these songs – COULD these songs – exist if the album was conceived in a different time or place?
Heaberlin: That is such a great question! I mean, the title of the album and the fires in some of the songs invoke the idea of forest fires, and it just so happens that the country was devastated by forest fires as we were recording. If people want to connect those things we certainly welcome them to, though that was not our original intention. But I think our subject matter is more about individuals’ emotional landscapes than physical landscapes or even political landscapes. I won’t speak for Taylor, but a lot of the characters I put into my songs on this album are struggling with validation; they are women who are able to be validated only by things that make them feel unsafe or sad or angry or guilty. I certainly couldn’t have written about that subject outside of the cultural climate we’re in, but I think that’s a paradox women have lived with for a long time culturally, and it’s going to be very slow to correct. Like, I’m pretty sure it’s too late for my generation. But I hope, you know, 20 years down the line that young women will find that idea un-illuminating, and sort of heavy-handed. So in that way, I hope it is a product of its time.

TrunkSpace: The album is a literary journey in song form and was inspired by the likes of Alice Munro and Dylan Thomas. With that said, do you view each song as a chapter of the story, or is each song it’s own book?
Heaberlin: When we were writing the songs they were each their own individual “books” as you say. When we started placing them together and choosing our song order, there were certain resonances with some songs, and it started to be fun to view them as different perspectives on the same situation. For instance, if you think of “June” and “Psalm” being about the same breakup with different degrees of intimacy and self-denial happening in the narration, they layer together nicely – like the narrator is going through the various stages of grief. My favorite pairing of songs, though, is “Corn King” into “Little Grays.” “Corn King” is all about the inevitable demise of John Barleycorn when he is burned alive as a sacrifice to his lover, the deified earth. He dies to become the soil that holds and nourishes her new seeds, and there’s this implication that he’s erased again and again every year and he’s just as naive every cycle and the whole thing is quite tragic. “Little Grays” is a song I wrote about feeling elated and moved upon finding a favorite pair of scissors I thought I had lost when my house (actually) caught on fire. But if I pretend that the fire in “Little Grays” is the same fire that’s in “Corn King,” it’s an alternate ending to “Corn King” from an outside perspective that says: “Look, you’re okay! That was scary and I am so glad you’re alive! I love you!” It’s nice because the two songs contrast each other musically: “Corn King” is the most complicated song and arrangement on the album and it’s 12 minutes long. “Little Grays” I wrote basically in one sitting, it has no arrangement or even harmonies and it’s not even two minutes long.

TrunkSpace: The amazing thing about music and art in general is that the same piece of work can mean different things to different people. Does that also apply to both of you? Does this album and the work you both put into it mean something different for each of you? Does it represent different things?
Smith: Inevitably, I’m sure we each connect with songs the other person has written in a way that’s different from how the writer does. We do spend a fair amount of time trying to explain to each other where we’re coming from with something we’ve written, both in terms of what we were feeling or thinking about when we wrote the song, and what we’re hoping the song accomplishes for the listener. A lot of that happens while we’re revising, so often I’ll come to Laura and say something like, “Here’s what this line means, or what I want it to mean, but does it actually succeed at that?” And then she’ll think about it and give some suggestion that’s better! So sometimes she ends up putting in the meaning that I was trying to. Or sometimes, after talking about it, we’ll decide it’s better to go off in some totally different direction. So, in short: we do try to align our visions, and sometimes that’s because we’ve collaborated closely on some aspect of a song, but no doubt even in the final product Laura and I have different interpretations of and connections to the songs.

For listeners, I think the songs likely “mean” as many different things as people who listen. Actually, I often don’t think about what a song “means” as much as what a song “does,” since “meaning” kind of sounds like it should be unitary, but there’s nothing strange to me about thinking, “The song does this thing to Alice, and this other thing to Bob.” The magic isn’t in the music itself, right? The spark goes off at the intersection of the song and the listener.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Heaberlin: We are really happy with the album, and so pleased to have gotten to work with so many amazing people on it. (Beehive Productions for the recording, the additional musicians we brought in are all amazing, our album artwork artist, etc.) One thing I think we are both really proud of is that we really did so much of it ourselves. We wrote all of the arrangements for the other instruments ourselves, and Jeff from Beehive allowed us to do a lot of our own editing on the album. We had the luxury of time, which helps a lot, but I would say that our level of involvement in every stage of the process is pretty unusual. And we learned so much along the way!

TrunkSpace: We talk with musicians all of the time about how albums become chapters of their lives – yearbooks that look back on their lives and spotlight moments in time. With that being said, what do you think “Serotinalia” will mean for you 10, 20 or 30 years from now?
Heaberlin: Wow, well that is hard to predict. I think that the release of “Serotinalia” marks the end of our early career. We put out two EPs before this and we did a fair amount of touring, but I hope that this new album will mark the beginning of the meat of things for us.

TrunkSpace: You both met in an a cappella group. Was it creative love at first sight? Did you instantly click on an artistic level?
Heaberlin: Well, yes! We absolutely did! We were both doing our own songwriting thing at the time, and so that was an immediate bond between us. I think our friendship was truly sealed one evening a couple weeks after I had joined the group (Taylor was a semester ahead of me at school) when we were at some fun party our a cappella group was throwing and Taylor and I found ourselves in a different room from everyone else discussing what Jeff Mangum’s best lyrics were on “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.” We each music directed the group at various times, and when we were recording our a cappella album I was music director and Taylor was general manager, so you could say “Magic House” by the Middlebury Mamajamas was truly the first album we put out together.

Photo By: Monika Rivard

TrunkSpace: Has where you’re based – Vermont – directly influenced your music and writing? Does a setting infiltrate the process, even on an organic level?
Smith: There is something kind of stuck-out-of-time of parts of Vermont. There’s plenty of opportunities to wander and encounter long stretches of unbroken forest or farmland, old graveyards, tiny towns with one store, weird idiosyncratic local landmarks. I do think it’s fertile ground to get the imagination humming, especially for the sorts of characters and situations that pop up on this album. A few of our songs do (in our minds) take place at literal places near where we live, though we don’t name them outright.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your musical career thus far?
Smith: Honestly, I think it’s probably putting this record out! But we’ve already talked a bit about that. Perhaps more specifically: I think getting to write for, practice with, and perform with the incredible musicians who recorded with us on “Serotinalia,” especially our string trio, has been a very long-time dream come true. Laura and I enjoy playing as a duo very much, but while I’m writing a song I often sort of hear a ghost version of the True Arrangement in my head — little countermelodies in the background, how the bass end would enter or fall or go silent, the timbre of a trumpet on this riff or whatever. Having a little “orchestra” this time around, and so getting to learn how to translate the vague sonic impressions I had into something concrete that actually sounds good and is playable was really new and challenging but also incredibly rewarding, and we really lucked out to have found players who just totally nail it.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Smith: Oh, probably not! Feeling like our goals are either a) hopeless or b) a foregone conclusion both seem like they’d sap some of the adventure out of the thing. That space of not knowing what to do or what will happen next is where you’re able to have fun.

Serotinalia” is available now.

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