PREMIERE: Lauren Rocket “Rattlesnake”

Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Lauren Rocket is the embodiment of the word “badass,” and that’s no clearer than in her latest single, “Rattlesnake.” In the video for the fierce, beat-driven rebel anthem, we see Rocket dancing around the house, ravenously eating sweets, and posing in an “Anarchy” shirt while singing lyrics like, “I like the pain because it keeps me awake / can’t sleep, don’t put on the brakes.”

Rocket signed her first record deal at age 18, toured with artists including The Child and The Pink Spiders as part of her pop-punk band Rocket, and has most recently toured alongside Rilo Kiley’s Blake Sennett and The Honorary Title’s Jarrod Gorbel in Night Terrors of 1927. As a solo artist, her music has included catchy, danceable, elecropop hits (like “Sharks” and her cover of Echo and the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon“) that project a sassy, self-assured persona.

We asked her about the evolution of her music, what it was like to be in an all-female punk band, and what “Rattlesnake” means to her.

AF: What is the concept behind the song and video for “Rattlesnake”? What inspired you to come up with it?

LR: With “Rattlesnake,” I wanted to write a song about living life dangerously, doing what you want daily, and enjoying your limited time here while imposing a strong belief in trying everything at least once.  When I got in the studio with my co-writers Jason Bell and Jordan Miller (aka HEAVY), they totally got the vibe and concept, and we kind of effortlessly weaved our way through the song. I wanted “Rattlesnake” to not only convey that lyrically, but I wanted it to feel alive (“rattlesnakey”) in a sense.

Visually, my co-creater Zoey Taylor and I envisioned a video that really was pure, moving picture “mood,” capturing the essence of momentary youthful freedom and a strong amount of weirdness. We are both giant fans of Harmony Korine and love how his movie, Gummo, is a series of unforgettable vignettes that all work together to create a solid, visceral movie that you can feel in your bones and heart. He was our main inspiration, and our goal was to make it feel like the viewer is experiencing another life in little glimpses — maybe escaping into that world for a couple minutes, maybe questioning it, but maybe not.

AF: What does the rattlesnake symbolize to you?

LR: Snakes in general represent the obvious: temptation, danger, seduction, toxicity, etc. They can kill in one moment, which makes them super powerful beings. Rattlesnakes, to me, are symbolic visual representations of what I imply in the song with the line, “I wanna live like I’m dying today.”

AF: I know you’ve collaborated and toured with a number of accomplished artists and songwriters. Have they influenced your music? Who would you say your biggest influences are?

LR: I have learned so much from so many people on this journey, and I am grateful for every writing and touring experience I’ve ever had, as they’ve just made me a better version of myself as well as a better writer. I strongly believe that it’s pretty hard to grow without collaboration, because there is so much to learn from others. It’s kind of essential to creation.  I have a ton of influences, so it’s hard to only name a few and not bore everyone, so I would say Dolly Parton for her grace, innate talent, and authenticity; Freddy Mercury, no question; and Deborah Harry because there’s just no one cooler. And how could I not mention David Bowie?

AF: Would you say there’s an overall theme to your music? I know you once said you write about everything butlove — why is that?

LR: I guess I could write love songs all day long. It’s a go-to for me, and I could cry and write them for hours, so the challenge for me is to write about other subjects, like aliens and snakes and wizards. I only laugh and never really cry unless I’m laughing too much, so it’s a win-win situation.

AF: Pop-punk seems to be very male-dominated — what was it like having a female band in this genre? Were there particular challenges or stereotypes you faced?

LR: Just being marginalized as a “girl band” was limiting in itself. There’s a different psychology behind how people view all female bands, and it’s a whole thing. There was this weird underlying feeling of having to prove ourselves as a musicians and performers. It was yucky, but there was another side that was beautiful and amazing. We just did our thing and had so much fun playing shows all over the country. I feel so lucky to have had those experiences in life. We simply loved playing music and touring around in a beat-up van, eating chips. I love playing with women. There’s something magical that happens when we work together.

AF: In what ways would you say your music has changed since Rocket?

LR: I’ve grown a lot, experienced a lot, and learned a lot since Rocket. That band had a bevy of puppeteers expressing their opinions on what we should sound like and act like. We were super young and green. I’ve learned a lot about myself and dug real deep in these past few years while practicing a lot of internal and spiritual work, which my soul really craved. In turn, this project is definitely the most authentic representation of who I am creatively at this moment in my life and expresses my inner thoughts, sometimes obviously and sometimes abstractly.  These are the songs that I hear in my head when I’m just walking around, living my life every day.  I know exactly how I want them to sound. It’s been a really inspiring and exciting journey so far, and I’m excited for it to keep unfolding.

Follow Lauren Rocket on Facebook for ongoing updates.

LIVE REVIEW: HARD Day of the Dead Festival Mixes EDM and Spirituality

On Saturday, October 26, I attended a San Pedro ceremony. With a group of fellow journeyers, I drank the extract of a psychedelic cactus sourced from Peru, danced around a circle to live music, shook rattles, played drums, lay down to focus on my own insights and visions, and had drug-induced heart-to-hearts with other participants.

The following Saturday, November 2, I went to the HARD Day of the Dead festival in downtown LA. I microdosed some iboga and met others on their own substances of choice, whether that was weed, alcohol, MDMA, or something else. We danced together, sang along to the music, went on our own inner journeys as we swayed to the electronic beats, and talked to one another by the food stands. It struck me how similar this experience was to the one I’d had a week prior.

EDM festivals are modern-day shamanic ceremonies: People use music, dance, and often substances to connect with one another and achieve a higher state of consciousness. With the occasion of the Day of the Dead, which is already full of spiritual rituals meant to connect with ancestors, this association was extra prominent at the HARD Day of the Dead festival.

The afternoon and evening included many diverse manifestations of the EDM genre. Early in the day, Vietnamese-American DJ Softest Hard bound the festival-goers together by inspiring them to sing along to remixes of well-known tunes from Travis Scott’s “SICKO MODE” featuring Drake to t.A.T.u.’s “All the Things She Said.” Then, new-beat producer 1788-L delivered a delightful combination of trappy rhythms and unexpected interludes of classical piano and other instrumentals.

Later on, electropop artist Elohim took the stage for the trippiest set of the evening, with technicolor images of pills and the definition of “hallucination” on the screen behind her. It was during her act that the connection between EDM and psychonautic exploration was made clearest. In “Braindead,” she sings about drugs and spirituality: “All I know is I know what I don’t know / And what I don’t know could fill up a whole bible.” She also played an unexpected and musically fascinating cover of Harvey Danger’s “Flagpole Sitta,” her breathy voice gently drawing out lyrics punchingly shouted in the original.

Another highlight of the evening was Blacklizt, Zhu’s deep house/techno alter ego, who blasted haunting sounds alongside a creepy collection of mannequins in front of a screen showcasing eerie images like scissors. His set reached its climax when he played “Faded (Baby I’m Wasted),” prompting the audience to belt out the lyrics, “Baby I’m wasted / All I wanna do is drive home to you / Baby I’m faded / All I wanna do is take you downtown.”

The headliner was Dog Blood, a collaboration between Skrillex and Boys Noize, ending the night on a high note with fast-paced electro-house beats and R&B influenced songs like “Midnight Hour.”

Despite the performances’ mystical undertones, it would be a stretch to say the festival honored the holiday’s spiritual traditions. Its representation of the Day of the Dead was fairly surface-level and came off a bit culturally appropriative given the poor representation of Latinx artists in the lineup. The event’s nods to the holiday and Mexican culture were essentially the symbols white America is most familiar with: a giant skull, a mariachi band, a stage flanked by skeletons.

What it did represent well was the spiritual culture of EDM: one full of trance-inducing songs, drug-facilitated connections, and crowds that move like one giant being. Whether or not it accurately celebrated the Day of the Dead, it was — like all music festivals — a celebration of life.

PREMIERE: BABERS “Something I Can Give”

Every city has its own unique brand of loneliness. In New York, loneliness is embodied by long subway rides surrounded by strangers listening to sad music, avoiding eye contact. In Los Angeles, you don’t have to brush shoulders with strangers; you’re able to move from one part of town to the next in a car built for one. Los Angeles-based duo BABERS explore the cold nature of the city and the bravery of being yourself from day one on latest single “Something I Can Give.”

“It’s a lost cause / Maybe you’ll just write me off / when you find / that I’m not what you wanted,” Dana Cargiol and Lisa Haagen harmonize on the chorus, their voices combining to create a pulsating echo, sound bouncing off the back wall of a crowded room. It’s a wallflower’s lament, a song someone sings when they’re coming out of the shadows, ready to take the world by storm. BABERS walk the delicate tightrope that is harmony; two voices supporting each other, lifting each other up to crescendo. What begins as a quiet, plaintive plea ends as a full-bodied demand: see me for who I really am.

Listen to AudioFemme’s exclusive stream of “Something I Can Give” and read our interview with Dana and Lisa below.

AF: How was BABERS founded? Where did you initially cross paths?

DC: We initially crossed paths at our bassist’s birthday party where she asked everyone to come wearing a Canadian Tuxedo. Yvonne had asked both of us to play an acoustic set for our friends.

LH: We both got there early to help set up and so about five minutes after meeting we were asked to test the photo-booth. As brand new friends, we were posing back to back in our matching outfits with backwards hats, serving serious “it takes two” vibes. That comfortability was instant and our style really hasn’t evolved.

DC: BABERS was founded after we’d been friends for a couple of years. We had been doing separate music things and then Lisa asked if I could sing in her band.

LH: Dana started out jumping in for backing vocals in my project, but our voices had a sister-blend that surprised us both. I had never been able to convince my sisters to be in a band with me so that blend was really cool to find in a friend. Once we were singing together it was very clear to me that she could never leave the band.

At the beginning, we talked about changing the name but we didn’t have any other ideas that felt right. A while later we started saying ‘babers’ when talking about the band, but we thought we were past the point of being able to change it. After using it internally for about a year we were like, wait – I think this IS the band name. We ran it past our bassist Yvonne and a few people that had the right to veto it, but it felt like the right move for the band.

AF: Your vocals are incredibly tight. How do you decide when each member takes the lead, when you’ll harmonize, etc? Does it just come down to a lot of experimentation?

DC: Thank you! We’ve worked really hard at tightening our vocals and singing together. We often joke about how we decide the lead, and our general rule of thumb is: Lisa sings the saddest songs and Dana sings the happier (sounding) songs. When it comes to vocal parts and harmonizing, it’s definitely a lot of experimentation and trying different things. For “Something I Can Give” in particular, we can both remember sitting in Lisa’s apartment, playing acoustic guitar, and attempting new bends and blends through the main chorus lines. We have voice memos from that first test run that helped us check off the final product that we’re proud of and love.

AF: At what age did you start making music? Who were your early music influences?

DC: I’ve been a singer for most of my life and I’m a reformed theatre kid. When I got into high school, I’d been singing arias and opera and most of the music I’d been listening was Broadway cast recordings. I started to make music my senior year of high school, and it started with a ukulele. I was inspired by singer-songwriters like Ingrid Michaelson, Kate Nash, and Julia Nunes. I was attracted to their pleasant sadness that they all carried in their melodies and lyrics. Later in college, I started to get more into musicians like Joe Purdy, Eisley, and Florence & The Machine. When I started music it was a mix of goofy, joke songs and sad, unrequited love songs that felt more dramatic than they actually are. Since then, I’ve expanded my music taste a lot and love a large mix of things, but usually I’m looking to see and feel what emotions are evoked while listening. I’ve loved making music with Lisa and seeing how our styles and influences blend together.

LH: My parents introduced me to music really young – I started playing drums at age four and that was my main instrument while I was playing in the band in school. We also had a family band that played oldies for local talent shows. When I went to college, I decided to bring a guitar and actually figure out how to play it. It was when I started writing that I got hooked and I started singing, out of necessity. It took another few years before I acknowledged I was a singer at all. Being able to play a range of instruments has also had a big effect on how we write because we are considering everything from the beginning. Dana and I always demo out the full arrangement before going into the studio process… so even though we continue to workshop and test things we already know the vibe for how we want the parts to fit together.

AF: What artists have shaped BABERS as a band?

LH: I’ve always thought the range of what we listen to has been the bigger influence. Dana listens to a lot of hip-hop which I think you can hear in how she delivers phrases. Listening to Ben Howard encouraged me to try alternate tunings which is still very much a part of how I write on the guitar. Our sound now uses a lot of guitar pedals for creating moody soundscapes and that’s where we will draw some tonal comparisons to Daughter. More than anything I think we both attach to lyrics and artists that write in a stream of conscious way.

AF: Tell us about “Something I Can Give.” How did the song come about?

LH: This song was one of the hardest to write because I was trying to articulate this really big thing about believing that I am valuable regardless of receiving affirmation about it. When I moved to LA, it was the first time I ever had to really talk about myself because before that, there had always been context around me. I’m from a small/tight community so I am used to people knowing me. When I moved, suddenly I had no context around me so if I didn’t talk about myself, people would invent this version of me that I then had to work to undo. I was constantly being asked the same questions over and over… things I wasn’t used to having to explain about myself because I had always been familiar. I was having to defend my value across everything: as a band without trying to be cool, as a friend without feeling like I had to date any and everyone I connect with. I feel really sure why I do what I do, but not everyone will be on board with my reasoning. At the end of the day, of course I want to be liked but I don’t want that to be the reason I’m making decisions. This song is about trying to distance myself from the people pleaser in me.

AF: You’re based in Los Angeles. What are your favorite music venues in the city?

DC: The venues in LA are one of the huge benefits to being a Los Angeles-based band. We love the mid-sized venues like The Echo, The Fonda, and The Troubadour. There are so many amazing places to play and watch music.

LH: Hotel Cafe is still the best place to stumble into on any night. Whether it’s shows or showcases I think it’s a sure bet that you’ll walk out with a new songwriter that you’re in love with.

AF: Where do you see BABERS five years, ten years down the line?

DC: In five years, we’d love to have a couple albums out and to be actively touring. We’d be over the moon if we could be with the same bandmates we are now but they have their own big dreams so we’re just lucky as long as we can have them. It’ll definitely be Lisa and I still making music together.

LH: We love the community that music creates so when we talk about the far out future I think we want to have our own studio and be able to record and maybe even manage bands that we believe in.

Check out BABERS live in Los Angeles Thursday, August 22nd at The Satellite.

PREMIERE: Jamie Drake “Redwood Tree”

Photo by Kathryna Hancock

In classic films, the setting is often established with a chorus in the background, a camera moving through the scene with care before landing on the ingénue. Singer-songwriter Jamie Drake utilizes many of the old Hollywood musical tropes on her latest single “Redwood Tree” -cascading vocal harmonies, a gentle whistle, and a harp. It’a the latest single from her forthcoming debut, Everything’s Fine, out September 20 on AntiFragile Records. Drake explains that the album’s title is tinged with irony: “So much of day-to-day life is optimistically proceeding as if things are going to work out, contrary to the evidence that things are really falling apart. Yet still we continue to tell ourselves that everything’s fine. It’s really just my way of lying to myself.”

Based in Los Angeles, Drake has spent the last few years establishing herself as the vocalist-to-call for dreamy, folksy stylings; she has collaborated with the likes of Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Mikael Jorgensen (Wilco), and Moby. But with Everything’s Fine, Drake finally presents a portrait of herself as singer-songwriter driven by both pop sensibilities and sweeping cinematic tendencies, both of which make “Redwood Tree” a “tentpole” on the album’s tracklist. The feeling of floating through reality displays itself beautifully on the track, its delicate arrangement meandering through a forest so lush, so thick and untouched by human hands, you never want to leave.

Listen to Audiofemme’s exclusive stream of “Redwood Tree” and read our full interview with Jamie Drake below.

AF: You told the San Diego Troubadour: “I always have melodies in my brain. For some songwriters the lyrics comes first; for others, it’s the melody. I’m more of a melodic hook person. The melodies come to me first most of the time.” Was this true for “Redwood Tree”?

JD: It’s funny you should ask because they did in a way – just not the way I normally capture sound. My collaborator and producer of 8 years, A.J. Minette, was over at my place that day to rehearse some songs and I was walking out of the kitchen I heard him playing something on his classical guitar that was pentatonic in nature and playful. He kind of laughed as he played the notes in a way that made his guitar sound like an erhu, which is a Chinese two-stringed fiddle, but what I heard was a really catchy melody that I felt needed to be paid attention to so I said, “Stop! Play it again. That’s a song!” I came up with the remainder of the chorus and verse and added lyrics and “Redwood Tree” was birthed in under an hour. It’s a testament to never knowing where your song can be born. Writers who take themselves too seriously can miss a lot of opportunities. I like to keep the channel open as much as possible – kind of like a child I guess.

AF: Do you visualize a story or a scene as the melody comes to you?

JD: When a melody drops into my mind it’s always more of a feeling I get – similar to how memory can take you back to places you’ve been and it feels cinematic because they are scenes from your life. I feel like I am being transported into a story or a scene that encapsulates whatever that feeling is I am having but I don’t physically picture that place; I hear it. This sensitivity is something I’ve had my whole life. I think it developed when I was really little as a part of who I am, but also as a gift to help me survive my environment. As I’ve gotten older, my physical sense of hearing has become even more sensitive. I suffer at times now from hyperacusis, which is a hearing disorder that makes normal everyday sounds unbearably loud. It’s like I’ll be sitting at brunch with someone and all the sudden I can hear the clanking of dishes being stacked back in the kitchen and it sounds like they’re being stacked directly next to my face. As I’ve developed this and struggled through it I’ve had to tell myself that this is in part the trade-off to being sensitive enough to tune into a frequency where hearing beautiful melodies is possible; that also sometimes I have to hear the brash sounds in life too. Thank God for ear molds.

AF: What gets you up in the morning? Do you have any artists or writers you regularly turn to for inspiration?

JD: The knowledge that I am living a story that is worth being told gets me up in the morning. That there have been many turns I have taken – some “wrong” – and even still I end up where I am supposed to be. I feel I have a source guiding and directing my steps that is very real. In terms of my actual process of waking, I love waking up slowly and going about my day at a turtle’s pace. The funny thing about that is that I used to be more like the rabbit, and pretty recently have been learning how to take care of myself differently.

A lot of my early musical inspirations came from Disney classics which have these lush orchestrations. The Little Mermaid was a particular inspiration when I was in the 4th grade; we watched it at school one day and I became obsessed with learning all the songs and acting out all the parts. I guess it makes sense then, to stumble across Randy Newman and discover his discography. Brian Wilson has always been a major inspiration. I listened to The Beach Boys in high school when everyone was into Alanis. I didn’t have a CD player until I was a senior in high school so the radio was all I had, and I preferred listening to an oldies station called WMSH in Michigan. I’d make mix tapes with just The Beach Boys and The Beatles on them and would send them off to my cousin Rachel, who was a lot better at finding newer artists to share. I got into Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell later in the game. When I was younger their vibrato was unbearable to me and now it’s my favorite. A friend told me I reminded them of Harry Nilsson once, who I’d never heard of and then became obsessed with as well. I love the fact that he was a songwriter first and then became a recording artist and everyone from John Lennon to Randy Newman was into him. Nilsson actually helped jump-start Newman’s career and didn’t really play a lot of live shows; what an interesting story he led. A more recent artist that struck me was Blake Mills. I saw him open for another artist in 2009 and bought the Break Mirrors album. I got into that at a specific time in life and love returning to this music whenever I want to remember the feeling of starting over.

AF: What music are you currently spinning at home?

JD: There’s an Ella Fitzgerald album I like to play that gets me going in the morning (The Rodgers and Hart Songbook). Part of the reason I always spin it, though, is because I’m too lazy to dig through my other records (ha!). A newer record I like to put on is Reminisce Bar and Grill by Walter Martin. He’s a new favorite writer of mine. His lyrics are witty and he’s got this vocal tone that’s almost like he’s talking half the time. I love the production too – how it feels less produced in this great way that sort of tells you he doesn’t take life too seriously. Beyond that, I’ve really gotten into making Spotify playlists to share – which has both reminded me of all the incredible artists who have influenced me as well as introduced me to artists I didn’t know about like Jessica Pratt, Mountain Man, Laura Mvula, Connie Converse and J.S. Ondara, who I have the pleasure of opening for later this month on the East coast. I love adding curve balls into my “Current Vibe” playlist as well like Dimitri Martin, who is one of my favorite comedians.

AF: If you could imagine your perfect show, where would it be? How would the show play (sober, jovial, etc)? And how would you like the audience to feel afterward?

JD: My perfect show would be at the Hollywood Bowl with a full string orchestra, dancers, background projections, costumes and lights – everything would add in to the show as it progressed forward. It would be a reflection of the life I’ve lived – which has been full of sadness and joy. I would want to take the audience on the journey of this life together: the pain and the glory of being human. Music for me is something I am propelled to share with others so that they can tap into their own experiences, to feel them deeply and find healing and hope.

Jamie Drake’s debut album Everything’s Fine will be released on September 20, 2019 via AntiFragile Music on vinyl and all digital platforms.

7/24 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe
7/26 – Northampton, MA @ J.S. Ondara with Jamie Drake
7/30 – Baltimore, MA @ J.S. Ondara with Jamie Drake
7/31 – Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues Cleveland
11/07 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
11/08 – Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater
11/09 – San Francisco, CA @ Neck Of the Woods
11/14 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
11/15 – Bellingham, WA @ Shakedown
11/16 – Seattle, WA @ Ballard Homestead

PREMIERE: Troi Irons “Lost Angels”

Troi Irons
Troi Irons
Photo by: Jessica Lehman

Though she’s not quite 25, Troi Irons has lived a lifetime of experience in the music industry already, having arrived in Los Angeles as a preteen and quickly getting caught in its clutches. Once signed to a major label, Irons is now fiercely independent, having released two EPs (Turbulence in 2016, and ANTIHERO last year).

Her next project, Lost Angels, takes a hardened look at sycophants and starfuckers, her jaded lyrics intensified by her hard-rocking sonic influences. Its self-produced title track, premiering exclusively on Audiofemme, offers a first glimpse at the album as a whole; the song bursts with emotion and depth and follows her last single, “Strangers,” released earlier this year.

Here, she opens up about her long-awaited debut album, directing the upcoming “Lost Angles” music video, and expressing her self-discovery journey through her art. Stream her new single and check out her interview below.

AF: Congrats on your new single! Tell me about “Lost Angels.”

TI: Thanks. “Lost Angels” is the title track off my upcoming debut album. It’s a signal flare for every alienated person in the middle of it all, who sees the bullshit and is not at home in this weird world.

AF: What can you tell me about your upcoming album?

TI: It’s a concept album – a modern take on the parable of the prodigal son. It begins at the end, summarizing what’s transpired. The second song starts at an LA party and the album journeys through alienation, arrogance, love, self-harm, religious anxiety… the clicking point is when the main character cuts out all the noise and distraction during a rock concert and realizes what really matters. Then there is a shedding of old ways and rebirth. The last song is called “Home.”

AF: Will fans see a video for “Lost Angels” any time soon?

TI: Yes! The “Lost Angels” video will be my directorial debut and it’s been rad putting it together. It’s crazy because I was producing, styling, mood boarding, writing treatments, doing everything for my previous videos but I would give the director title away to some “experienced” guy. Only I know the story so it makes sense that I should tell it how I see it. I drew inspiration from Rene Magritte and the Galerie d’Apollon as well as Judy Blame.

AF: What most inspired this track? Living in LA?

TI: It’s really about growing up in the industry and in LA. I moved to LA to attend college at 12 so that’s what LA meant to me at first – it was school. Once I turned 15, it really hit me that I was forming the rest of my life and paying thousands of dollars for it and I wasn’t sure I liked the path I was laying. It gave me anxiety. I felt incredibly suicidal. No one knew but I was constantly stoned during my last two years. I would smoke on the rooftop and stare down at all the little ants scurrying from class to class. I thought about jumping. Who do you run to? How do you say, ‘I love learning and I have this incredible opportunity but I’m terrified of debt and I don’t know about my major and it’s moving too fast.’ That sounds so spoiled.

Then there was the industry. I got into the industry because I picked up the guitar while I was waiting for school to start. And the industry is weird because it’s nothing like college or a linear job where you work hard and you move up. It’s like you work hard and you try to make the right choice but people are snakes. Everyone wants to be a star – especially the suits. Everyone wants to be rich, and no one says what they mean. For shits and giggles, while school and the industry are happening, you throw in coming of age and you’re lost. You know who you are but not where you are. Nothing is home. No one is trustworthy.

AF: Anything else you’d like to add?

TI: Learning is good, never stop.

PREMIERE: Aaron Rice “Neverfade/For Dusk”

Aaron Rice by Ashley Camper
Aaron Rice by Ashley Camper
Photo by Ashley Camper

Statues half hidden by rising tides, buildings sunk beneath desert sands, a post-apocalyptic fever dream… Aaron Rice‘s latest LP Neverfade/For Dusk has a ’90s R&B familiarity, mixed with an otherworldly darkness all his own.

The opening notes of “In Time” immediately call to mind scenes from Blade Runner; Harrison Ford running down his list of Voight-Kampff questions, staring into Sean Young’s endless brown eyes. “Ghosttown” is a clear standout, with its computerized backbeat and soaring, catchy vocals. Overall, Rice showcases a tight vision for the record, with a mix of chill tracks and dance beats like “One Week” keeping things interesting. It’s easily a record to get lost inside, each landscape vanishing into the next. Everything is at once familiar and remixed.

Listen to Audiofemme’s exclusive stream of Neverfade/For Dusk and read our interview with Aaron below.

AF: You’re based in Minneapolis. Can you give us an inside look at the music scene there? 

AR: The music scene in Minneapolis is very much alive. It’s very much a scene. It’s a big community. It’s a small community. I would also mention I’ve been a little removed from the scene here these past few years so I’m probably not the best person to speak on its behalf. There’s a new wave of young kids doing some really cool stuff.

AF: You recorded this album in Los Angeles. Why the change of scenery?

AR: A couple years ago I moved to LA. One of my best friends and creative partners lives there and I wanted to be closer to him. I also wanted adventure and warmer winters. And though the move was short-lived, that’s where the first big bulk of work on the record started.

AF: Minneapolis is an indoor city much of the year, with underground tunnels and covered walkways connecting buildings. Los Angeles is freeways and ocean and ripe fruit. Did the change in scenery effect your music in tone or subject matter?

AR: Yes, for sure. I took long walks in LA almost every day… even in December and January. I think even that alone had huge effects on my well being and in turn my music as well. Life changes when you don’t have to fight the elements of winter and cold for months on end.

AF: What artists would you cite as influences for Neverfade/For Dusk?

AR: The Knife, Caribou, Sade. TLC. Whoever made the soundtrack for N64’s Wave Race. Asap Rocky/Clams Casino. I’m sure there are more, but those come to mind.

AF: How do you approach writing music? Do you start with a beat, a lyric, subject matter?

AR: All of the above. More often than not it’s the beat or at least some chords, then vocal melodies, then lyrics or subject matter. The feel of the non-lyrical aspects of a song usually help shape the subject matter and lyrics.

AF: Which song from the record is the most personal for you? 

AR: That’s tough. They’re all very personal. Probably the first track, “In Time.”

AF: Can you tell us about that song? What was its genesis?

AR: I think the music started when my friend Alex and I were messing around with beats at his apartment. He made the strangest one or two bar, two chord loop, with an even stranger drum pattern. I loved it. We messed around with the chords and built them out to what they are now, and I think it set the tone for the whole project for me. It wasn’t the first track made for the album, but it’s the first one I would always think about when thinking of the album. The lyrics took a long time to write. I had a strong sense of what I wanted them to convey, but nailing down the way to convey them was tricky. I was in a fairly long relationship where I think I always knew I loved the person, but it was after we split that discovered that I was in love with them. The song is about that. It’s a declaration – and that sort of thing has always been hard for me.

AF: What feeling or vibe do you hope to convey at a live show? How do you want people to feel as they leave?

AR: I often think of this music as introspective dance music. It’s not really the kind of music you’d really want to dance to with someone- I guess the hope is that it might bring someone to a place where they can move and sort of dive into themselves. The best or favorite performances I’ve been to are the ones that make me feel, so I keep that in mind when preparing for shows.

Aaron Rice’s debut LP, Neverfade/For Dusk is slated for release on May 10th – follow him on Facebook for the latest updates.

PREMIERE: Rachel Goodrich “Gucci”

Rachel Goodrich Interview AudioFemme
Rachel Goodrich Interview AudioFemme
Photo Credit: Michelle Shiers

Summer is already on the horizon for those of us living on the west coast. Cold, cloudy weekdays easily morph into downright warm weekends. Rachel Goodrich’s new single “Gucci” is the right kind of chill for a poolside afternoon.

Goodrich has delivered eclectic, playful tunes since her debut Tinker Toys in 2008; her single “Light Bulb,” with delicate ukulele and cheerful vocals, made it onto an episode of Weeds (can’t you just picture Nancy sipping her iced coffee with a smirk on her face?). You might notice a vibe shift on “Gucci” – the impish, winking lilt has undergone a maturity overhaul. Goodrich is laid back, confident, and sarcastic as all hell. She had this to say about the track:

The inspiration for “Gucci” came from a place of insecurity. Feeling as if I’m not good enough or attractive enough. The verses are filled with the struggle of expressing those emotions honestly and instead I resort to a pessimistic, sarcastic, in-your-face kind of tone. The tune carries a dark vibe, but by the end of the song I realize I’ve been swayed by all the illusions and distractions in the world that have steered me away from making an authentic connection with myself. I accept my insecurities and can turn them into confidence. Beauty lies within. We are all Gucci.

Listen to “Gucci” below:

AF: It’s been five years since your last album, Baby, Now We’re Even. What have you been up to?

Rachel Goodrich: Man, time flies! I actually met a boy in between that time and wrapped my world around his heart… which has been totally rad. But I lost sight and I’m actually sitting on a couple of albums I never released. I’ve been adventuring, writing and shelving music but finally feel really excited about these new tunes and I’m putting them out while they feel fresh!

AF: You’re an LA transplant, having moved cross country from Miami. Do you still live in Venice? How does the city inform your music writing? 

RG: Yes, I am still in the Venice area. Well,  the beach in general has always been a main source of circulation and freedom… creating a non-judgmental space for me to just breathe and be myself. Venice is wild… it’s the beach that keeps me sane.

AF: I was psyched to see you opened for Ezra Furman a few years back. What LA show has been your favorite so far? 

RG: You were there? Cool! My favorite LA show was probably a recent show I played over at The Moroccan Lounge. It was my first time playing these new songs with the new band. It felt so raw and so fresh. I love playing with my new band. Some of the raddest individuals I’ve ever met.

AF: What music do you currently have on rotation? 

RG: Currently spinning Parliament-FunkadelicErykah BaduThe Meters and The Grateful Dead.

AF: “Gucci” is a sexy song. It feels light years away from the sweet ukulele sound of “Light Bulb.” What inspired this new direction?

RG: I’m not sure! I’ve always kind of messed around with making beats and talking shit… it’s fun for me. But I guess it’s also pretty sexy.

AF: What producer did you work with on this single? Any collaborations?

RG: I recorded this track with Matt Linesch (the boy…reference question 1) at his studio, Infinitespin Records, in Van Nuys.

AF: You’re known for employing a wide array of instruments (guitar, ukulele, kazoo) in your music. Has this eclectic feel continued on the new album?

RG: I think so! Definitely incorporating some fun sounds and using some of the same instruments I featured on my first album, Tinker Toys.

AF: What can someone expect from a Rachel Goodrich performance? Other than some “shake-a-billy” dance moves?

RG: Some funky fresh tunes maaan. Good vibes and vibrant colors.

Watch out for Rachel’s new album, set to drop in summer 2019. 

PREMIERE: Doe Paoro Releases Intimate New Video for “Walk Through The Fire”

LA-by-way-of Syracuse’s dreamy siren, Doe Paoro, and her new album, Soft Power, are the kind of dynamic sonic duo rarely found in the music industry today. Passionate and empowered, Soft Power combines the alluring mystique of The Shirelles, The Ronnettes, and other original girl groups of the ’60s, with the kind of blazing soul found in the children of the liberated and rebellious.

Audiofemme caught up with Paoro before she took to the road for her upcoming tour to talk music, healing, unrelenting honesty in the midst of pain, and the intimate video for her single, “Walk Through The Fire.”

AF: You transformed incredible frustration and pain into a gorgeous record, full of passion, soul, and rebellion. How did you work through the negativity and transform anguish into art? 

DP: I think by just being really present with it and acknowledging it, and acknowledging that these things were coming up for me. Not trying to control the feelings but instead writing about it and sitting down with my guitar and really just allowing them to pass through.

AF: Why do you think music and art are so important when it comes to healing and growing through difficult times? 

DP: Oh, gosh, that’s such a big question. I think they offer abstract ways for us to process things, and I think there’s something, both in making art but also in being a fan of music and art, of getting the sense that somebody else has walked the same path as you at some point and has made it through. I was reading something recently about how isolation is really the source of all anxiety, and sometimes [when] we hear, “Well, when I was a teenager, and I heard a song about something I was going through, and it was like, okay, somebody else has thought that way,” that sense of isolation is lessened a little bit. Music also just heals on a completely vibrational level. There’s a lot of healing that comes from art. 

AF: Your music is evocative and recalls girl groups from the 60s, like The Shirelles. What does it mean to you to be compared to the women who first pioneered the music industry in a time where feminism was still considered a dirty word?

DP: I mean, I’m so honored and flattered to be compared to some of the artists who have inspired me over the years, and through this record, and always a bit overwhelmed by it. Women musicians are part of a lineage of artists who are working to both expand our craft and expand the sense of empowerment and placement that woman have in the art world. 

AF: How do you carry the flame with your own career to help clear the path for those who come after you?

DP: It’s funny, I was looking at some old pictures today of bands I was in when I was like…16, and it was me and this group of guys. It’s such a normalized experience, playing with men, and for a long time, I just accepted it, but these songs, they’re inclusive of a lot of the experience of what it’s been like for me to be a woman in the music industry. I was playing them originally with a band of guys, and I was like, “This just doesn’t feel authentic.” I didn’t feel like they could relate, [despite] their best intentions… they didn’t understand exactly what these songs mean to me, and I just needed to feel a little bit safer in that way. 

So I really changed my band up, for one. I play with a lot of women now in my band; that’s one thing. But also just talking about these issues and not falling victim to silence because of shame or guilt or blame, or all the other tactics that are used to keep women quiet about misogyny that they’ve encountered. I really do see that as part of my responsibility as a creative person to step up to and make it so that it’s not the norm, so that people in twenty years see mostly men headlining festivals, or that having an all-girl band is an anomaly. I want these things to be normalized because there are so many amazing musicians who are women, and are just as good. 

You know, unless it’s like NSYNC, we don’t say it’s a boy band. But when it’s an all girl band, we’re like, “Oh, that’s an all-girl band! I’d love to be in an all-lady band!” It’s very cute, but that says something about how our culture thinks about gender and music. 

AF: What would you consider the greatest inspiration for Soft Power?

DP: My music is super personal, and every record’s kind of a diary of the time period I’m writing it in, but I think there’s a lot in the title and a lot of things that I tackle in this record that I hadn’t really talked about in the past, just power dynamics. I have had a lot of trauma in the last few years, just working in the music industry and being a woman. This record was really about me examining and reclaiming some of that power that I’ve lost, and acknowledging it, and the title was my mission statement for myself on how I wanna be in the world. Just because I’ve been a victim of abuse of power doesn’t mean I’m going to carry on that way. For me, it’s like the pendulum is in this sort of toxic masculinity, in the way that countries are being led and business is being done, and we have the opportunity for the pendulum to swing the other way, which is a much less violent, kind power, one that’s a little more compassionate, you know? 

AF: What was the most challenging part of writing Soft Power? What was your proudest moment? 

DP: I think the song “Guilty” was the last one I wrote, and that was like — it’s interesting. You know, now we talk about #MeToo and the #TimesUp Movement, and I wrote that song in 2016, which was way before all of this happened. At that time, people weren’t talking about it the way they are now. So that was really challenging. I was contemplating not writing about it, but a friend of mine was talking about it and was like, “I really think you need to write about this experience,” and I was like, “I don’t even know how you’d put that into song.” So kind of challenging myself to be honest, and to write about topics that I haven’t written about before, and feeling that responsibility to expand out of my own comfort zone. 

I would maybe say the most special moment was in writing “The Vine,” just because lyrically, it’s probably the one I’m most proud of. The craziest thing is that I wrote it in like ten minutes, so it just felt like something that was supposed to exist in the universe. There are some songs that I’d been writing for, you know, four years, so it’s just kinda a mystical moment for me. I think it’s such a wild experience when you just surprise yourself. 

AF: There’s an overall feeling of rebellion throughout Soft Power; did you set out to write a record to the theme, or did it just occur naturally? 

DP: Yeah, I definitely didn’t write it with that pretense, but it just came out. I think that’s true.

AF: What’s your creative process like? 

DP: I do a lot of journaling, I do a lot of writing, and looking to other people. What usually happens is that a few words in a conversation will just spark a song. I’ll get really inspired by a phrase and craft the whole story around that, and come with my lyrics. Then I’ll bring it to somebody else, and we’ll kind of work out the music together, because I love coming up with melodies, but I’m not the best instrumentalist.

AF: How have you grown and changed as an artist and performer since your previous release, After?

DP: You know, before my last record, I hadn’t toured extensively. I did tour a lot on my last record, so that experience really changed the way I perform, in terms of having confidence or feeling like I know what I’m doing, because…I don’t know, I didn’t go to school to be a musician. I’m completely self-trained and, technically, I’m missing a lot of information, so it’s all been really trial and error, and almost imposter syndrome in the first years of being an artist, when you don’t have that training. And maybe if you do, too, I can’t speak to that. But for me it’s about really owning that this is my path and feeling confident in that. 

AF: How did the move from Syracuse to LA impact you as an artist?

DP: LA could not be more different than Syracuse; it’s really like working class, there’s not a very big art scene — at least there wasn’t when I was growing up — so it’s really inspiring. I came with a lot of naivety, because I didn’t grow up with anybody who was in arts and the business, and I didn’t know how that world navigated, so it’s been a lot of learning over the years. I’ve really had to step up to embracing a path that I hadn’t seen modeled for me as a child. 

AF: How has your platform given you the freedom to express yourself through music? How do you use your music to give your fans the freedom to do the same? 

DP: Well, I just try to be really honest. I try to be honest with myself, and I feel like that’s the responsibility of any artist to continue to do that. I feel like there are a lot of artists who gave me that freedom, and made me feel like it was okay, you know? Like Fiona Apple or certain artists that sang about things that I thought were almost unspeakable in some ways, in the place that I grew up in, so I just hope that that carries through and that people hear that and feel that they have space to do that as well.

AF: You mention walking a path that no one modeled for you. That takes a lot of inner courage, but it’s so easy to forget the power that we have within us. How do you remind yourself of that power in the moments that you feel weak?

DP: I just think “This too shall pass.” I think about different expressions like, “It’s darkest before the dawn,” and I think about what I’ve been through. I try to reflect on all that I’ve come through and, you know, the “More will be revealed.” You’ve just gotta keep going and do the next right thing for yourself, because you can’t identify with defeat. It’s such a passing thing, and the second you start over-identifying with that, it’s easy to lose the plot. 

AF: Soft Power was recorded to tape with a live band, which forces you into a situation of spontaneity. What was that like?

DP: With my last record, After, we worked on it for like a year, and it was just so heavy. There was so much thought and it was beautiful, but I just wanted something different, because I always want to keep trying new stuff. I was like, I want something that’s the opposite of that, because what I hear happening in music over the last few years, trend-wise, is people doing a lot of things on the computer where there’s just no end to the amount of editing you can do. Sometimes I think that my best ideas are my first ones, and once I start overthinking them, I just lose it. So I was excited about the process of making a record that was essentially capturing people’s first instincts about what to play, and that’s how we did it. I would basically play the band the song, and they would listen to it maybe four times, and then we just captured what they felt was the right thing for them to play, because it was on tape. It was limited on how much time we could spend on that. 

AF: Do you think you’ve translated that inability to overthink or doubt yourself to your daily life since then? 

DP: I’m trying to, I really am. I think that becoming an artist and being in it long enough is all about learning how to really, deeply trust your instincts. I’m sure other artists would say the same. But it’s like the second you start giving away your power, whether it’s to a manager or a record label, you really can lose yourself, and you’ve just got to trust what’s coming into your heart. 

AF: Your video for “Walk Through The Fire” is so intimate, and full of energy; how did you capture that feeling? 

DP: I think it’s just a truthful little capturing of the energy between all of us. We really love playing together and respect each other so much, both as musicians and as friends, and every time we play together, we have that dynamic. 

AF: What inspired “Walk Through The Fire”? What do you hope your fans take away from it? 

DP: I think “Walk Through The Fire” is inspired by the idea that the hardest moments in our lives are the ones where we have to walk alone. I feel like there are moments in all of our lives where we cannot turn to other people for the answers or look to someone else to get us out of the mess we’ve made. Nobody else can walk us through the process of transformation; maybe that’s a better way to say it. My life has been a lot of transformation, so I keep learning that. I don’t know, fire — it’s like humans have been gathering around fire and watching it since we were cavemen. It never gets old, that experience of sitting around a campfire and just watching it spark up. I think we’re very hypnotized by its ability to burn and start over, and it’s certainly relevant to what we’re going through. 

Listen to Doe Paoro’s remix of “Over” and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


11.27 – Portland, OR @ Lola’s Room
11.28 – Seattle, WA @ Columbia City Theatre
11.30 – Los Angeles, CA @ Lodge Room
12.1 – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
12.3 – Austin. TX @ North Door
12.4 – Dallas, TX @ Dada
12.6 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement
12.7 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
12.8 – Durham, NC @ Pinhook
12.9 – Vienna, VA @ Jammin’ Java
12.11 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade NYC
12.12 – Boston, MA @ Cafe 939
12.13 – Philadelphia, PA @ Voltage Lounge
12.14 – Findlay, OH @ Marathon Center for the Performing Arts
12.15 – Evanston, IL @ SPACE
12.16 – Detroit, MI @ El Club
12.18 – Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
12.20 – Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge

PREMIERE: Moon Honey “Life Has No Meaning”

The plight of the monarch butterfly may not seem like a fitting subject for a song, yet LA’s Moon Honey tackles butterflies, climate change, and death itself in their new single “Life Has No Meaning.”

Don’t let it get you down though. Frontwoman Jess Joy uses the flutter of her voice and a kilowatt smile to convey the wink inside the music: “In face of adversity, we wanted to make a piece that applauded pleasure, encouraged ourselves and others to live with levity, and held love and friendship as the highest of life aspirations,” she says. “I wanted the video to be a sacred ritual of sorts, in that it recorded and honored real emotions, real friends, and real transformation. The actors are our friends, who came over to my sister Krimsey Ramsey’s house to film in exchange for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, curry, and laughs. The person who played the grim reaper, Dylan Tirapelli-Jamail, was so committed that he volunteered to be permanently tattooed with ‘Life Has No Meaning,’ as I was also being physically transformed through my monarch tattoo.”

The interplay between morbidity and laughter makes “Life Has No Meaning” the kind of tune you hum after getting up in the morning. Who doesn’t want to face the endless void with a smile on their lips?

We chatted with Jess Joy about growing up in the South, how she overcame stage fright, and the art of turning a poem into a song. Listen to “Life Has No Meaning” below.

AF: You and Andrew are both from Louisiana. What was the music scene like where you grew up?

Jess Joy: Yes! In Baton Rouge, it was a small and very supportive music scene. In my opinion, it was an artistically inclusive scene, in that musicians and artists lumped together as creatives. Baton Rouge is a college town, with LSU football being the center of entertainment. All the music and art freaks congregated at The Spanish Moon for shows, a small brick building which once served as a morgue for a short time during a flood. When Andrew and I started playing music, we were in a bizarre prog band named Twin Killers—we were radically accepted by the community.

AF: Were you in high school together? How did you meet?

JJ: No, though we both went to small Christian high schools. We met through our previous drummer Jermaine Butler. Andrew and Jermaine were so desperate for a singer for the prog project, that they were asking everyone. They were shopping in a clothing store I was working in while I was in college for fine art, and Jermaine asked me if I could sing, if I would join their band. I said no, I couldn’t sing, plus I’m terrified of an audience. A few months later Andrew contacted me to paint his guitar cabinet in exchange for two bottles of wine. I ended up auditioning for the band. I was really bad! But they needed me.

AF: Have you always leaned toward the vocal styling you use for Moon Honey? It’s a wide range you showcase, even within the same song.

JJ: Gosh, I don’t even know! It’s not exactly on purpose. I write a song the same way I pick out an outfit in the morning. Today I feel great -how about orange! How about a giant necklace and ten rings! Today I feel sad – how about no clothes and I’ll just stay inside. I just feel my feelings and try to make something very expressive.

About a year into singing I did work with an opera coach named Rachel Cobb for a few months, and also a soul singer, Margaret Fowler. Later in LA, I worked with a coach named Stephanie WIlliams. They were all amazing—I think they influenced my style, but I could never afford to keep up training longer than three months.

AF: You grew up on Christian music (ditto). Does that genre influence any of the music you make today?

JJ: Is it bad if the first thought I had was “I hope not”? Because I hope not. I still find myself lyrically falling back on Bible metaphors all the time, though. I can’t help it. The Bible was my first storybook, my mythology, and it hovers above my creative life.

You did too? Did you like Jars of Clay? I’m trying to remember this really hip Christian (Australian?) rock band that I really loved right now. In addition to POD, which was fringe.

AF: I was into The O.C. Supertones in the late ’90s. They were a Christian Ska band… I felt very fringe at the time.

JJ: Haha oh yeah!! I loved ska.

AF: In an interview, you described your songwriting process “…we both start in solitude: Andrew composes a piece, records a demo and sends it to me. I write lyrics and melody for the piece, sometimes fresh, sometimes drawing from my bank of poems I keep handy. We get together and light candles to practice performing it to work out kinks.”  Did “Life Has No Meaning” start as a poem?

JJ: Yes, “Life Has No Meaning” did start as a poem. It was my birthday, and Andrew surprised me by taking me on a drive to the Goleta butterfly grove (now closed due to dead and dying trees), where every year thousands of monarchs would stop in their migration on the same tree (even though every year was a new generation who had never visited the tree). The monarch is my spirit animal. At a certain point in the day when it became warm enough, the clustered monarchs would all burst into flight. It was so beautiful and touching, and I cried the whole way home and wrote the first draft. Eventually it made it onto the song.

AF: It’s the happiest version of existential dread I’ve ever heard.

JJ: Haha. Wow thank you! Can I use that as a press quote for my life?

AF: Can you tell us a bit about the themes on your upcoming album Mixed Media on Woman?

JJ: It is about the role self of a southern woman, and the desire to break free as an individual, struggling with existential dread, depression, delusions, fantasies, love, acceptance.

AF: You’ve said in past interviews that you struggle with stage fright, yet in performance you seem very controlled and in charge. Do you use a persona to fight the anxiety?

JJ: I’m happy to hear I come off that way! I do think a persona is in progress, thanks to the time I’ve spent performing music and lately training in mime. It’s been a very vulnerable and painful process, though, for someone as shy as me. The best I could do in the past was to pretend no one was there, and that I had a little Alice and Wonderland bubble, my own world that I was safe in. I was detached and in sort of a daydream state on stage. That, or on the verge of drunk. Now I think I am connecting more with the energy around me and letting real feelings come through. It’s liberating.

AF: The video for “Life Has No Meaning” was directed by you and  Rayana Chumthöng. It’s very lush in terms of art direction and playful overall. How did the concept for it come about?

JJ: The concept is one I was holding in my back pocket for a long time. I wanted to show my friends and I going through each season of life together. I wanted to show myself happy when death comes to take me away. It’s my therapy and vision for my life: that no matter what, I will try to enjoy it. Rayana helped wrangle in all the ideas into a storyline, and was such a creative, powerful woman to work with. I asked her to do it because of her wonderful energy and sensitivity to color and content.

AF: Other than music, what’s something you’re passionate about? What makes you tick?

JJ: I am just obsessed with art, all of it! I love painting, films, comedy, cooking, books, poetry, mime, theater, you name it. Any chance I get to be inspired (and there’s so much to get inspired from in LA) I take it; any medium I can use to express myself, I try it.

Other than that, I am passionate about human and animal rights. I’m vegan, and I’m becoming more involved in social justice and environmental protection movements.

AF: Moon Honey has a tour coming up I hear! Where will ya’ll be heading?

JJ: Yes! We’re headed south. Here are a few dates:

09.28 – Los Angeles, CA – The Echo (Record Release Show)

11.02 – Baton Rouge, LA – The Spanish Moon

11.03 – New Orleans, LA – Siberia

11.04 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl

11.07 – Hot Springs, AR – Low Key Arts

11.09 – Austin, TX – Barracuda

11.10 – San Antonio, TX – Limelight

12.01 – Costa Mesa, CA – The Wayfarer

AF: To close, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given as an artist?

JJ: I’d say the hardest part of being an artist is self-care, mainly money, and your work not being recognized as work. Someone along the way encouraged me to collaborate and grow friendships within the artistic community as a whole. Community has been my main resource to keep going. So much has been made possible for me through collaboration I could have never achieved on my own.

On the topic of making art, though, one quote that has stuck with me from Robert Frost: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” It’s a reminder to be alive in the process of making art—be vulnerable and push yourself further than your comfort zone.

Preorder Moon Honey’s new album Mixed Media On Woman HERE. Are you a Los Angeles native? Come to Moon Honey’s record release show September 28th at The Echo

PREMIERE: Taleen Kali Explores Healing Sound on Debut EP Soul Songs

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Photo by Kristin Cofer

Solo efforts can often result in tense, unfocused attempts to create something altogether new. But when it all works out, fans get an exciting glimpse into what makes individual members of their favorite bands tick. Taleen Kali’s debut EP Soul Songs has the garage rock vibe of her previous band TÜLIPS, but don’t fool yourself: this one’s all Kali. 

Where TÜLIPS’ songs were more straightforward DIY affairs, Kali adds layers of drone and vocal effects you often hear in a more produced sound. Songs like “Half Lie” feature slick guitar riffs and soaring vocals; “Evil Eye II” creeps into the psychedelic with Kali’s voice reverberating against the walls. Sunset strip is only a short drive away when you’re listening to Soul Songs; it conjures up empty alleyways and crowded music venues where the cool kids hang out til the traffic dies down. 

We sat down with Taleen to talk about going solo, life as an LA native, and how her many passions interact with one another.

AF: You’re an LA Native. What was the music scene like growing up? Were you one of those cool city kids who got to sneak out to shows in middle school?

TK: I am indeed! I don’t know how cool I was in middle school in the era of KROQ SoCal bands… Our moms would take us to see Green Day, Bush, and No Doubt. In high school, The Smell was always getting shut down so we’d sneak out all the time to The Roxy and Whiskey to see local valley bands. So I guess somewhat cooler? Haha.

AF: I grew up in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, so that sounds very cool indeed. When did you first start to take an interest in creating music yourself?

TK: I remember writing songs on the piano when I was really young, like 7 or 8, but I didn’t realize it was “a thing” until I was 15 and I got a guitar. And then it took a few more years after that, during art school, for them to become fully fleshed out songs.

AF: You co-fronted Echo Park band TÜLIPS before striking out on your own. What was the catalyst for going solo?

TK: After TÜLIPS I spent a whole summer sitting in silence and just listening. I began to hear more parts within the songs I’d been writing, and different, newer parts for instrumentation were coming to me. I was beginning to think in more diverse musical arrangements that gave me the confidence to go solo and conduct my own solo musical project.

AF: Synths are a new edition to your music. How did you get into them?

TK: I was getting deeper into yoga and sound healing instruments, and I think my brain space and capacity for sound was growing in a whole new way and synths felt like an extension of that… to add to the drone, but also to manipulate it digitally. Plus my background is in piano and it was easy to pick up and start learning.

AF: My husband has actually gotten into building them. The underground movement is really interesting. Have they changed the process in which you construct a song?

TK: Oh that’s an awesome question! Not so far. I’d imagine they might down the line though, since the process is pretty amorphous/intuitive.

AF: You’ve also started performing soundscapes in addition to your more traditional punk rock shows. When did you first start exploring this concept?

TK: I first experienced sound healing in 2012 when I took a Yoga & Sound class at my home studio Yoga Blend in Burbank. I became enamored by certain frequencies and tones an started including them in punk rock playlists I’d post on my blog. I bought a few little instruments of my own shortly after that, and then I learned how to play a wider range at a sound practitioner training last year. Then finally I came into some large crystal singing bowls of my own this year. They’re pure tones so I can sample them in recordings too. Right now I have a D, F, and A bowl, a perfect chord triad.

AF: You are Editor-in-Chief of DUM DUM Zine and you also teach Punk Rock Yoga. You’re an inspiration for those who feel bogged down with too many interests. How do you balance such a wide array of projects?

TK: I try to remind myself that it’s all coming from the same source, that spark of creativity and inspiration. I try to find balance by giving love to each project according to what it needs or what events are going on around that time. I do writing rituals, yoga, and breathwork in order to stay in tune with my inner desire and outer focus.

AF: Your record release show is June 26th and we’re very intrigued by the lineup! Can you give us the inside scoop on what a concert-goer can expect?

TK: Of course! We’re going to have flowers, rituals, and punk rock…you’ll have to come to see what it’s all about! My BFFs Wasi are DJing the night, and we’re having a specialty flower vendor. As far as bands, I tapped my favorite female-identifying punk bands in L.A. to come be part of this night. Object As Subject is playing their punk ritual set with the amazing Paris Hurley, Emilia Ponysweat, Gina Genius, and Patty Schemel on drums. Blood Candy is bringing their angel goth shoegaze vibes.

I’ll be playing the Soul Songs EP in full joined by the Taleen Kali boys. We have some fun surprises planned during the set.

Preorder Taleen Kali’s new EP Soul Songs HERE. Check out her tour schedule below to see where you can see her LIVE this summer! 

Taleen Kali Tour Dates
06.26 – Los Angeles, CA @ Resident (Record Release show)
07.01 – New York, NY @ Pianos
07.13 – Los Angeles, CA @ Lot 1 Cafe (punk covers)
08.24 – San Francisco, CA @ Brick and Mortar[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

TRACK PREMIERE: Cassandra Violet “Invisible Man”

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Photo by Polly Barrowman

Cassandra Violet, much like Batman, lives a double life. When she’s not teaching high schoolers, she’s creating music that spans the genres of rock, folk, and pop. In the past, Violet’s music slanted toward melancholy modern folk, with songs like “Beyond The Fray” and “Lady” painting portraits of desert sands and long lost love.

Her new track “Invisible Man” is a refreshing drink on a hot day. There’s an aggressiveness, an edge to Violet’s voice that takes center stage, balancing the sweet piano and subtle horn section. In a year full of negative headlines and desperate news stories, “Invisible Man” is a sunny diversion from the darkness.

We spoke with Cassandra Violet about breaking out of her folk roots and how a horn section really does make all the difference.

AF: You’re a rare bird: a native Angelino! You grew up in Venice, which I’m sure has changed a lot since your childhood. What was it like growing up by the beach?  

CV: Venice was really different when I was growing up there! It was less expensive, for one thing, so artists who weren’t wealthy could actually live there affordably. I remember there being some gun violence and gang activity. It definitely was not the Google mecca it is now. My parents still live there (both of them are artists) and every time I go over there, it’s so strange. Like everyone is under 30 and brewing their own kombucha and going to spinning classes. Not to hate on Venice!

AF: Yes, it’s all Andrew Keegan and hot yoga nowadays.

CV: It’s just this insane example of what happens when a place gentrifies the most it could possibly gentrify.

AF: In terms of the art community, do you still see it coming up out of the concrete? Or has the scene mostly moved?

CV: I know artists who still live there, but a lot of them are from my parents’ generation, I think. I know there are exceptions, but I think a lot of creative people have moved further east.

AF: At what age did you first take interest in music?

CV: I was really young when I realized I loved to sing, and that I could imitate a sound when I heard it. Also, my dad taught me how to whistle when I was little, probably around five years old. I got really, really good at whistling, better than him.

I started to play the clarinet in fourth grade, and in middle school and high school I sang and played clarinet in band and orchestra. I really loved music but I always felt really constrained playing classical music. I wanted to experiment more, and I really loved writing, but it took me a long time to sit down and write a song.

So, I guess you could say I come from more of a classical background. The only music that my parents played around the house was classical music and jazz. My dad loves Wayne Shorter. And that was a great musical education, but I had to figure out my own way of creating and accessing pop music. The point of making music for me is that it’s a pure form of expression, and it is completely free for me to do whatever I want, and become whatever person I want to become.

AF: What were some of your early pop music finds?

CV: Gosh. Ever since I can remember I have gravitated towards women singing autobiographically. When I was younger I was obsessed with No Doubt and Fiona Apple and Lauryn Hill. I also always loved pop singers from the ’60s like Dusty Springfield, and obviously jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn, who have this insane control of their instrument. But I’ve always been most inspired by music that makes me want to move, so I changed things around.

AF: When you’re not weaving tunes, you work as a teacher for the LA Unified School district. You’ve said in interviews that you like to keep those two worlds separate, as your music is of an intimate nature. Do you find that your students influence your creative side in spite of that separation?

CV: I think the separation is pretty essential for me to be able to feel like I have complete freedom to create whatever I want to create. I will also say that the world has gotten pretty dark, and I think making art is one thing that everyone can do to make their voice heard. I constantly tell my students that art is the most powerful thing they can have access to, and encourage them to make art, because they have amazing stories and because art brings people together in these trying times. I always tell them to be vulnerable when they are performing, so I guess it is a little bit of pot calling kettle black. But I don’t want to think about work when I am making music! I want to be completely free.

AF: You said your last EP Body & Mind was created “alone in my apartment with a guitar, a loop pedal, and a tambourine.” What was the process like for your new record?

CV: I write songs by making a loop on my trusty Boss RC50 loop pedal, and then adding words, and then adding more chords. My loop pedal is covered in dust and has probably 100 loops on it right now. For this EP, I really collaborated with Derek Howa, who produced it and also cowrote and arranged the record. We wanted it to sound contemporary but with a retro feel. Brijesh Pandya (drums) and Brad Babinski (bass) were really important to the sound too. In the middle of arranging the record I went to New Orleans for New Years Eve and became obsessed with brass instruments, and I immediately wanted a horn section on the EP. Ryan Kern wrote the horn arrangements and Jonah Levine and Conor McElwain played horns. But all of the songs started with me in my living room on a loop pedal.

AF: “Invisible Man” has such a bright, cheery, upbeat sound. Can you give us a little background on this track?

CV: Yes! I had written some really dark songs with a folky vibe, and I was starting to feel kind of trapped by this folky persona. I wanted to write something honest and true, but I wanted it to sound as poppy and catchy and shimmery as possible. Derek also really helped create that sound with the chord arrangements and the synth lines. So, the song itself is about this sort of universal loneliness and longing for connection, and also about missing someone you love, but you want to dance to it and sing along.

AF: Question lightning round! Album you can’t stop listening to right now.

CV: SZA’s Ctrl.

AF: Favorite Los Angeles music venue to perform in.

CV: Oh gosh! Well I’ve performed a lot at Resident, which is always a great space. I performed at the Regent this past summer opening for Joan Osborne, which was wonderful. LA always has new great spaces to try out, too.

AF: Favorite secret LA hole-in-the-wall.

CV: I mean it’s not super secret. I find myself constantly going to Tacos Ariza next to Lassens, even though they usually have a C rating and I got mugged there once, years ago, at night. Burritos are comforting I guess

AF: Other than upbeat tunes and a horn section (which I find thrilling beyond words), what can fans expect from your new album?

CV: Fully realized songs you can dance to, about super personal and vulnerable topics, including body image, loneliness, self-doubt, and female empowerment, sung in three-part harmony! I think the topics are pretty relatable, and I really wanted it to be music you can move to. I also want to mention my amazing backup singers, Heather Ogilvy and Pamela Kilroy, who do three-part harmony with me and dance moves when we perform these songs live. It’s good vibes about personal heartaches all around.

Are you a Los Angeles native? See Cassandra Violet LIVE October 22nd at Lovesong Bar and again on December 2nd at the Moroccan Lounge. And be sure to keep an ear out for her new EP, out this December.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

LIVE REVIEW: Tycho @ The Greek Theatre

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Tycho at The Greek Theatre (photo via Tycho’s Facebook page)

The drive to The Greek Theatre from the Westside gives you just enough time to gauge how late you might be, staring out into the fast lines of traffic. When I finally got to the parking lot, I was greeted by a few Hare Krishna devotees gathering money to help feed the homeless in Venice. I felt a little bad taking their peace sticker for cash, but they were insistent. The Greek Theatre is a classic Los Angeles venue that up until last weekend I’d somehow missed entirely. Along with the traffic and our Hare Krishna friends, its location up in the hills feels like a scene right out of Mad Men.

Todd Terje and The Olsens were already on stage when I arrived. The crowd floated into the venue, $8 glasses of wine in hand, bodies moving fluidly to their seats. There may not be a bad seat in the house, with all angles catching a good portion of the stage. The last time I saw Todd Terje, he was raging on stage at Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas, and I don’t mean raging in the good way (festival techs had left his laptop to fry in the sun, causing his 45 minute set to shrink to 18 minutes). I had been looking forward to seeing him again, under better circumstances. Strips of thin vertical lights were set up around the band, flashing rainbows at the audience. The crowd was dressed for dancing, and the energy was high.

We were not disappointed this time around. The band was tight, the music winding up and setting loose some modern disco. An older man up front sporting a beard and a Wilco shirt perfectly encapsulated the feeling of being there: dancing with wild abandon, arms akimbo, smile flashing toward the setting sun. It was an energetic set, the kind of warmup needed before our more ambient main act.

Tycho has always made the kind of jams you play when you need to really focus at work. The kind of music a serial killer listens to when he’s meditating. Music played during the dark third act of a Sam Mendes film. The band seems to have a pretty good idea of what imagery their music conjures for the average person, creating a backdrop for the show that was a kind of 80s fantasy: b-roll footage of cars driving up winding roads; slow moving, abstract shapes. Scott Hansen, the brains (and designer) behind Tycho’s sound and image, described his vision to Outside Online, saying, “In the beginning, I was truly trying to take what I felt when I was in a field or in an outdoor space and directly translate it into the music. That was the only way I found I could do it: I was a visual artist before, but I don’t feel like my skills ever caught up with the vision.

The show is slow ache, a measured, ever-building march toward a crescendo. If the crowd had been of one mind in the previous set, we truly came together during Tycho. There’s a feeling of unity, a kind of quasi-spiritual nature to the music. Our group had a great spot to the left of the stage, but chose to climb higher mid-set in order to fully appreciate the visuals. At the top of the seating area, we observed the band, the crowd, and the rising moon. The venue was modeled after a Greek temple, a modern place of worship among the rolling hills.

Driving home, there was a feeling of relaxation. Los Angeles moves slowly at that time of night, cars all headed in opposite directions. The show offered a great feeling of release, a glass of wine at the end of a long week. When you live in a city, sometimes you’re overcome with the angry drivers, the metal structures surrounding you at every turn. Tycho makes music that reminds you to look toward the hills, to climb up, and gaze out at the nature poking up past the concrete.

Tycho is touring NOW. See tour dates and buy tickets HERE[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

EP REVIEW: Lee Triffon “Different Sun”


Welp, 2016 has been hellish, and we officially all need 200 percent more chill in our lives. And Tel Aviv-born, LA-based Lee Triffon is here to bring us those much-needed laid-back vibes in the form of her new EP Different Sun.

The album begins with Triffon’s wispy vocals projecting an ominous and slightly mysterious energy in her titular opening track. The music ebbs and flows with her airy voice, carrying you on a cushy cloud of low-key electronica. It transitions into her popular single “Mirrors in the Sand” from there. In this track, the songstress stretches her range a bit more, telling a heartfelt tale using raspy vocals alongside a slow synthy backing. The midpoint of the EP sees “Silver Bullet Gun,” which is a more unique style from the previous two tracks, deviating into a more pronounced and ambitious song than her other two–it reaches out and grabs you, holding you captive to its enchanting sound. Although slow, it’s repetitive tracking makes it so the song reverberates around your head. The next song, “Caves,” is a bit faster than the others at times, and has an urgent yet unsettled feel to it. It further complements Triffon’s mysteriousness, a quality which is palpable in all the songs on Different Sun. “Caves” is the last glimpse of sunlight on a particularly brisk winter evening, making it seasonally appropriate, but also a great way to end out an album. The last track is an orchestral version of “Mirrors in the Sand,” which is a more magical and theatrical spin on the original single.

Take a listen to Different Sun below, and maybe it’ll help you feel a bit more reinvigorated for the coming year.


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Photo by Jen Maler.
Photo by Jen Maler.

Early in the evening, I found myself at a soundcheck at a hole-in-the-wall called Friends and Lovers in Prospect Heights.  Even if they were just messing around to adjust levels, I was jarred by their large presence filling up the small space.  Bi-coastal, genre-bending newcomers Faulkner are quickly rising through the ranks with their tastefully aggressive sound.  Comprised of Lucas Asher (singer, guitarist), Dimitri Farougias (bassist), Eric Scullin (multi-instrumentalist), and Christian Hogan (drums), they are feeding on the positive acclaim for their EP Revanchist, and inching closer to the release of their first full-length album, Street Axioms.

Intimidatingly tall and sarcastic, yet sweet, Asher, Scullin, and Farougias opened up on topics like the recording process, working with the RZA, and nudism just before their show as a part of Mondo NYC.

Ysabella Monton for AudioFemme: First thing’s first, what creatively do you think each other brings to the project?

Lucas Asher: Eric brings the production and arrangement, and musicianship.  Dimitri, mostly rhythm, holding the rhythm down and performance, like incredible energy.  And then I’m a songwriter.

One thing I drew from is that you tend to cross genres — there’s no real boundary there.  Where do those influences come from?

Dimitri Farougias:  A lot of  ’70s, you know, some ’70s punk there, some ’80s pop, and ’90s hip-hop all kinda blended together.  No specific references, but those genres definitely come into our songs.

Does the songwriting and production cross over as well?  Is there a real cut process to it, or does it just happen?

DF: Lucas will bring the basic structure and the melody and the works, and the rest of the band will — or the entire band, actually — will just come into the room and start putting all the pieces together. All the instrumentation, everyone will write their parts.  It’s fairly, fairly smooth.  Everyone knows exactly what they’re supposed to do in the band, and it’s a very painless process.

So the album is coming together?

LA: Yeah, we released our EP called Revanchist, so that’s out right now, and then the album, you can look for it a little bit later in the fall.

And Revanchist, it’s very much a conceptual album.  Without explaining exactly where you went with it, where does that come from?

LA:  It has very strong themes of retribution, um those are found in the songs “Waters Are Rising” —

DF and Eric Scullin:  “Keep Your Enemies Closer”.

LA: Right.  There’s also a strong visual component that’s parallel to the music that’s reflected by the cover art, as well as the music video for “Revolutionary” which people can check out on YouTube.

And the album, is that meant to be conceptual as well?

LA:  Yeah.

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faulkner 3
Photo by Jen Maler.

So Lucas, your decision to move to New York?

LA:  I ran away from my orphanage in Oklahoma.

And since songwriting influences come a lot from life experiences, I know specifically you started writing a lot when you first came here. 

LA:  I think my biggest songwriting influence is 50 Cent, so…

DF:  Poetry.

LA:  Yeah, so just a lot of it, honestly, is from the streets, because I lived on the streets for a minute.  So coming up off the streets.

It’s a really cool way that you guys play with hip-hop, especially having worked with RZA from Wu-Tang, that’s amazing.

DF:  Yeah, that was wonderful.  That was really amazing.  It was really cool to write with him and record with him.  He originally signed on to produce a demo we sent him, and once we got into the studio with him at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La, he really got into it.  He just got in the booth and started writing, spit the illest verse, so that was really magical.  That was definitely a highlight.

There have been some other big names there too, though.

DF:  Yeah!  JP Bowersock, who worked with The Strokes —

ES:  He’s also an expert of chardonnay.  He will school you in chardonnay.

DF:  He can school you in a lot of things.

ES:  He’s a connoisseur of a lot of things.  He’s a sommelier as well.

DF:  Yeah, a connoisseur.  And then Mark Needham, who worked with The Killers and Imagine Dragons, and a whole lot of other acts.  He’s a very predominant mixer, engineer, producer in rock music.

ES:  He’s a mix pirate.  He’s got a toucan on his shoulder.  Like a parrot.  He just talks like a pirate, always making these funny sounds.

So, the trajectory of things that have been happening in the last couple of years, since you guys formed in 2013…

DF:  It’s happened very organically, you know.  I don’t know, we’re very hard workers, but we also need a lot of different elements for all of this to happen.  We have a great team that supports us, and we’re all very hard workers and dedicated to what we do.  Only good things can come from those elements.

So the festival that’s going on right now, Mondo, how did you guys get into that?

LA:  We heard it was a nudist festival, and then they told us no.

DF:  Yeah when we got here, we were pretty bummed out to be honest.

LA:  But we had already committed by that point, so…

DF:  We were ready to take it all off, and they were like, “No no no no, stop!”

It’s a very new thing for New York City, Mondo Fest. How did you sign onto it?

LA:  Our team brought it to us, and we have like, this punk rock attitude about playing shows.  We’ll play anywhere, at any time.  Not to sound desperate –

DF:  No, we love to play.  We love to play, we love to make new fans all the time, we love to meet people.

LA:  And we love New York.  We’ve been in New York for almost every week we’ve been in LA.

How did you all originally meet?  

DF:  The LA music scene.  We were all in different projects, different bands, and then Lucas kinda brought us all together.

LA:  And that’s the PR version.  I was on looking for matches.

ES:  And then I came up, and I was like, fuck it, we’ll give it a shot.

That’s on the record.  That’s the real story now.

DF:  We met on a nudist beach on Ibiza.

ES and LA:  Yeah.

Just playing music.

ALL:  Yeah.

But really, the LA music scene.  What are the differences between the scenes here and there?

ES: I don’t know, I mean, LA seems to kinda be more central lately.  I’ve noticed people moving from NY to LA.  It’s more of a hub for music.  And I have my studio there, it would be a lot to

LA:  Studio plug!

ES:  [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][laughs] Yeah.

LA:  What’s your studio called?  Radio Quality Sounds?

ES: Yeah, it’s really, really nice.  I’m kidding.  My point is, to have the space like that here is not the same.  LA’s got a lot more space, and people move there increasingly.  I’m seeing more and more people headed there.  And I grew up there, so I love it.

LA:  I prefer New York, but it seems like LA is…there’s more of a live element right now.

ES:  Different vibes.  You gotta do both.  I prefer to live in New York and visit LA often.  They’re very different.  [pause] Wait, I meant live in LA, visit New York often.

LA:  The inverse of what you said.

ES:  Basically, anything I say I mean the opposite.

So you’re not nudists.

ALL:  Yeah.

Photo by Jen Maler.
Photo by Jen Maler.

Have you done any recording in New York?

ES:  Yeah we did at Avatar, which used to be the Record Plant,

DF:  Amazing studio.

ES:  Awesome.  Neve console, great room. Recording here is a different vibe.  Space too, you know.  Everything is on the third floor of some weird building.  LA is a different vibe.

LA:  You have to grab the piano.

ES:  Yeah, I have to carry my Steinway alone upstairs.  It’s terrible.

 No help from these guys?

ES:  Not at all.

I’ve heard about that kind of stuff from other people, saying they’ve gotten snowed into studios here in the winter or something.

ES:  Yeah, I can see that.  That’s not happening in Malibu.

I just wonder what it is about LA that draws people in.

LA:  I think it’s part of our generation as well.  Not to wax on here, but “I feel like everyone in the millennial generation is down to go anywhere.  People aren’t as chained to where they were born for example.

One hundred percent.

LA:  I blame Instagram for that.

DF:  Everyone’s a travel blogger.

Yeah, the glorification of that lifestyle.  Well, thank you guys so much for taking this time with me today, I appreciate it.

ES:  We appreciate it too.  All the knowledge off the top of your head, it’s amazing.

I do a little research!

LA:  You didn’t find any criminal records?

Not yet, I guess I didn’t look deep enough.

LA:  Look deeper.

It’s just stuff about nudity, right?

ES: Our interview is basically, “Faulkner: The Nudist Band You Need to Get to Know Now!”

I guess we took the wrong pictures for this article.




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Photo by Ty Watkins

Following the release of last year’s energetic single “Silver Streets”,  Thomas Killian McPhillips VII, Derek Tramont, and Ryan Colt Levy of BRAEVES zealously uprooted themselves from the familiarity of New York to explore how the band could flourish with a little change in scenery.

“When the prospect of moving to LA came up,” said Tramont, “It was a lightning bolt that hit us so hard, we just picked up and drove across the country together, practically no questions asked.”

And “Bitter Sea” makes it clear: California sun sure suits them well.

Equal parts love letter and break-up song, the track illustrates a bittersweet goodbye to a personified New York City.

“We were kind of at odds with the New York music scene, partly because we have been living and playing in New York all our lives,” recounts Tramont. “It could have been Chicago, London, or Portland.  I’m sure you would grow tired of your hometown; that’s just natural.  But we felt a bit of a disconnect. Whether it was some of the bands we played with, the venues, or the real lack of a music ‘scene,’ something just felt like it was holding us back from truly expressing ourselves.”

It’s a new kind of relationship they’re developing with LA, as the band “really needed something that would make us feel like we were growing and not just stagnating…something drastic needed to change to get us to the place we want to be.” But while BRAEVES may be based on the West Coast now, lyrics such as, “And the more my body tells me I’m entranced/The deeper in your quicksand I’ll descend” show that even if you leave New York, it never quite leaves you.

Recorded at Red Rockets Glare with Raymond Richards (known for his work with Local Natives, whom the band often cite as a key influence), “Bitter Sea” illustrates a fresh vivacity and prowess that were never lacking in older songs, but rather, have been elegantly refined. It has BRAEVES sounding refreshed without straying from the soulful and shimmering echoes that define their ethereal sound, and it has us eager for their forthcoming sophomore EP.

Stream the track below, and if you’re on the West Coast, catch them live, where you certainly won’t be disappointed.  Plus, you might just be lucky enough to hear even more new songs:

July 16 – Chinatown Summer Nights – LA
July 21 – Molly Malone’s – LA[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]



Is there a better way to start your weekend than with an incredibly danceable track? We’d like to present you with LA VIEW’s “Flashlight” for your eager consideration.

“Flashlight” is a collaboration between Finland-born, London-based songstress Venior and the two Berlin-based brothers that make up LA VIEW. The duo has been working since February to release a new track each month, with “Flashlight” ringing in as their third single, a great place to become introduced to their music. The track features upbeat, entrancing vocals layered over some expert producing. It’s full of quirky synths and the lulling vocals from Venior pulling you in, making you crave more.

LA VIEW is a worth keeping a tab on, and hopefully the rest of the year will yield more creative pieces from them. In the meantime, get down this weekend to “Flashlight” below.

LIVE REVIEW: Cardiknox @ Baby’s All Right


Thursday, January 14 saw Cardiknox opening for The Knocks at Baby’s All Right, making for a poptastic, dance-worthy night. They took the stage with an energy that didn’t leave until the last song was done, and I have a feeling it probably followed them to the merch table, too.

The show had a mixture of the old with an emphasis on the new as their upcoming album, Portrait, just became available for pre-order. This show was the first of Cardiknox’s tour with The Knocks, and it looks like it’s going to be a pretty successful tour if Thursday was any indication.

Frontwoman Lonnie Angle bounced around the stage as Thomas Dutton jammed out next to her. She hit some impressive falsetto notes, and Dutton made sure to follow up with equally impressive riffs. When they played their latest single, “Into the Night,” the crowd lost their minds, jumping to rival Angle’s enthusiasm. They certainly gave everyone there plenty of reason to dance, so it only made sense to react appropriately. There’s not enough concerts that make getting down and boogying into a priority, and Cardiknox are proof enough that we need more of it.


Until you can catch them on tour, listen to “Doors” below.

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All photos by Nicole Ortiz for AudioFemme.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]


BRAEVES Chat-1Having a chat with Derek Tramont (left) and Ryan Levy (right) of BRAEVES. Photo by Tim Toda.

Late Friday night at The West, my good friend Tim and I sat waiting  for Ryan Levy and Derek Tramont of BRAEVES to show up for our interview. When they walked in, I realized I’d missed the leather jacket memo this time around, reminding me of the first interview I ever did with them where we all happened to be wearing them.  This time, though, it was maybe less of an interview, and more like old friends catching up over drinks in the patio — enjoying the fresh air and not minding so much that our butts were getting wet from the freshly rained-on benches.

 The band’s third member, drummer Tom, was supposed to be there too.  “Tommy has a good reason,” said Derek. “Maybe we’ll tell you guys later.” For the record, they didn’t.

I first met the guys almost a year ago to this day at Baby’s All Right, which Derek said was only their fourth show as a band.  Tim filmed our interview before the show, and since meeting them a year ago — “It was October 12th,” Ryan reminded us.  “I was gonna bring a bottle of champagne!” — it’s been so much fun keeping in touch and seeing them play show after show, moving forward and growing as a band.

By the time this article goes up, they’ll be on their cross-country road trip to Los Angeles, where they’ll be moving out this month to establish themselves in the music scene there and get working on their first full-length record, their follow up to Drifting by Design.

Derek Tramont:  Essentially, we have a bunch of places we’re looking at.  It’s very hard when you’re in New York, looking at property in LA.  My girlfriend lives in North Hollywood, and she kinda knows the areas where we can move into that are more set up for arts and music, like Silver Lake or Echo Park, stuff like that. So we found a place that’s in Sherman Oaks, like right next door, two miles from where she is. We basically spoke to the person, we’re ready to lock it in, but I’m just like, covering the bases.

Ryan Levy:  I think we just need to assimilate as soon as possible, you know, like we just need to get there and get comfortable in a space. It doesn’t have to be the greatest space in the world, but, this place is actually really nice.

DT:  It’s a friend who lives there now, and he’s leaving, so we have an in there.

RL:  And we have other friends who live there, so if we have to crash for a few days, we can then physically find a place.

Ysabella Monton for AudioFemme:  Ah, that’s really good then.

DT:  Yeah, it’s funny, his friend Adam lives over there who’s into film, who’s a writer, who plays in a band also with Christopher Mintz-Plasse, it’s like his best friend.  Plays bass in his band, which is great.  My best friend from school, John, who’s a cinematographer, lives right in North Hollywood, my girlfriend lives in North Hollywood.  We got a couple of things already that we can kinda go to and people we can talk to and network with and see where we’re at, a little quicker than being like, “What do we do, who do we talk to?”

YM:  So you’re not blindly diving in.  But you kind of already have a feel for what the scene is like there?

DT:  Yeah, I’ve been visiting her periodically.  It’s fucking awesome.  I mean, I love it.  We went to Satellite, I’ve heard about like, Hotel Cafe and The Viper Room, places like that.  Silver Lake Lounge.

RL:  All of our friends also seem to tell us that they think it’s just a good place for us to be for what we’re doing.  They say it’s where we should be right now, not as a suggestion, but more as a response to us letting them know it’s where we’re going.  They’re like, “Oh, okay, that actually makes a lot of sense.”  Positive reinforcement, instead of being like “Oh, shit, that’s what you wanna do?”

DT:  Yeah, I mean, if we were moving to North Dakota, like outside of Fargo, what’s the point?

RL:  Long Johns!  It’s fashionable to be freezing.

LA does seem to make a lot of sense for the band.  As influences, Derek throws out Silver Lakes’s own Local Natives, or bands like Incan Abraham, who are also from California.  In LA, the sort of atmospheric indie rock sound seems to flourish a bit more than it does here.  Derek mentions that Austin Mendenhall of Snowmine, who the band will continue to play with, said “When Snowmine went to LA, San Diego, shows were sold out, pre-sale.  More energetic, more enthusiastic, he’s like, ‘[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Snowmine] did better there.  No question.'”

“It seems like that’s a place that people will take to us maybe quicker than Brooklyn, in the sea of ten thousand bands and four million venues.  Hopefully it’s not as tough a transition as it was in New York.”

RL:  I’m really excited because we always end up recording anything in the winter.  No matter how much we plan or talk about doing stuff, we’re always in the freezing, kind of angry, claustrophobic environment, just frustrated with everything. It’s gonna be really interesting to go to a place where we don’t really feel that tension, and during those months, get to really have mental ease, and I think it’s gonna make a huge difference in how we approach the record. It will make the whole experience so much more spiritual.  It makes it less like a process and more like an experience.

DT:  It did feel a little like it was a procedure.  Okay, we gotta go to the studio, we gotta stay, it’s snowing, it’s fucking ten degrees outside, it’s like, we bring our slippers, we stay the night.  It’s tough. It’s good to be in the studio and work on stuff with each other and all that, but it’s gonna be like a breath of fresh air to be out there and take a second, realize what we’re working on conceptually.  I think it’ll come out a lot better in every way.  A little freeing for us to be in a different place, a different studio, with different people.

YM: Are you jumping right into the studio when you get there?

R: Basically, we’re gonna jump in and do our round of demos and everything as we go.  We’ve been writing stuff a lot, the trip itself is gonna give us a lot of material, so by the time we get there, we’ll probably just have a process of just throwing up every idea that we’ve got and trying to sort it all out for a few weeks.  While we do that, we’re gonna be talking to all our friends out there, whether they’re in the studio or not.  We wanna make the record different this time too.  We keep talking about different ways of actually recording it than just doing the whole thing in the same place.  We wanna see how we can actually give ourselves more freedom, headspace, maybe do different parts in different environments and see what that gives us…

D: To give us more time to work on it together.  You know, if we record drums at the studio it’ll give us the opportunity to take as many vocal takes as we want, take as many bass takes as we want.  In the studio, you’re thrown into a situation where it’s like, “Put your bass down, we’re by the hour, by the day.  Okay, well that’s what we’re gonna go with.”  I look at it now and I’m like, specifically with “While Your Body Sleeps,” on the first EP, I’m not in love with all my parts, and I would’ve loved to have gone back there and play the parts that I’m playing now, because they’re all different.  But I didn’t have the headspace or enough time, and it could give us more time and space to work it out for ourselves.

And a lot of burritos, a lot of palm trees…

RL:  When we were in bands when we were like 13, 14 and stuff, we were doing the bulk of our recordings on our own.  We would buy random different recording gear, we kept doing things on our own.  It was that process of getting to spend however many hours on a song, completely getting lost in it, it’s like playing with play-doh again or playing with action figures like a little kid instead of it being surgical.  It brings back that magical feeling of being a kid again. I really want to incorporate that in how we make the record instead of it just feeling like a job.  It’s gotta be fun, it’s gotta be free, and it’s gotta sound really good.  We’re not gonna compromise for it to sound like shit.  And I think we like bands that have dimension in their sound.  I mean, Wilco is one of our favorite bands ever, whether it’s record to record they sound different, they sound, or literally how they approach making it, there’s never one way to do something. You just find out more options or more ways to make weird sounds and records are supposed to be their own idea.  You figure out the live version later.  The recorded version is the one that’s gonna be that way forever, so make it the way that you really want it to be represented.

DT:  If that means 20, 30,000 didgeridoos, if that means ukelele, if that means a choir, that’s what we’ll do.

RL:  We’ll fly in 30,000 didgeridoos.

DT:  We’ll spend all the money we have on a backing track that we won’t end up using.

RL:  We’re just gonna buy a loin cloth and just stand with the speakers playing.  It’ll turn into an elaborate Cirque du Soleil act without actually playing instruments.

YM: No music.

RL:  For the next record, we’re just trapeze artists.

DT:  That transitions us into concept and theme…

RL:  It’s called Ballet and the album cover is gonna be all of us sharing one codpiece.

And while Derek mentioned that he’s playing different bass parts in some tracks now, the band has no plans to use anything off the EP on the album.

Says Ryan, “It was something that we made for all those reasons, whether it was the time, the budget, whatever.  And it was part of the experience…To compare it to something not to really be compared to, it’s like Star Wars…

“Always goes back to Star Wars,” Derek interjects.

“The idea of anybody just going back and changing something, those changes were unnecessary.  They didn’t make it better or worse.  Well, they definitely made it worse.  They definitely didn’t contribute to anything.”

You might see a dance remix of the EP, though.  “While Your Body Sleeps” becomes, according to Ryan, “While Your Bodies Drop” — “Let the bodies hit the floor,” says Derek.

If that’s where LA takes them, so be it.  The biggest challenge to overcome in the transition though, is the quality of pizza on the west coast.

“If you look at pizza in LA, it’s a joke,” says Derek.  “I don’t know what they’re doing.”

So I’m now obligated to ship frozen dough over to them in their “time of darkness,” in Ryan’s words.

DT: We played at awesome venues, we’ve had a great string of shows at Rough Trade or Le Poisson Rouge or Baby’s All Right, Glasslands, you know, a lot of good stuff.

RL:  I thought you were gonna rattle off all of them casually.

DT:  You want me to?  Rockwood Stage 2, The Knitting Factory…I’m not gonna go into dates, because I’d do that.

RL:  But we never really assimilated here to Brooklyn or the city.  It’s been such a weird thing to have basically done everything we’ve done off of coming here and playing a show and Derek being the best e-mail person in the world, basically…

DT:  That’s on the record.

Being from Long Island is horrible. We travel like an hour plus to get to a show, then we gotta truck back, you know what I mean.  We’re not part of it here, we’ve never been.  In a way, it feels like we’re leaving Long Island.

RL: It’s funny because I’m really really happy with everything we’ve accomplished, but I’m also amazed because we’re like writing long distance love letters to Brooklyn and the city and we’re here.  It’s gonna be interesting when we’re actually living in the thick of it.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]


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Cover art by Danielle Guelbart

This summer, New York’s own BRAEVES released a new single called “Silver Streets” as a follow up to 2014’s Drifting by Design EP.

The band bid their farewell to New York last weekend at The Studio at Webster Hall, rounding out a busy year of stellar shows at other venues in the city, including Baby’s All Right, where I first got to meet the guys, Glasslands, and (Le) Poisson Rouge.  All of their hard work has led to a major next step, as they’ll be moving to Los Angeles later this month to work on their first full-length record.

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braeves recording session
Derek Tramont, Thomas Mcphillips, Austin Mendenhall, and Ryan Levy at a recording session. Photo by Tim Toda.

At Webster, Snowmine’s Austin Mendenhall stepped in for former member Nick LaFalce, who performs lead guitar on the track.

The song shines, quite literally, with metallic imagery such as, “Silver streets, golden bodies” and “copper in our bones.”  Coupled with sleek, otherworldy guitar and bass work, that blend seamlessly, “Silver Streets” is a perfectly warm track for speeding down a country road this fall.  With lyrics like, “Take me back to days when I was fearless in your arms/I’ll follow your way home, I’ll follow your way home,” Levy’s dulcet vocals will make you nostalgic for a time that you weren’t even there for.

See the full lyrics on their Bandcamp page, and be on the lookout for a video coming soon. Listen to the track below:

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BETs album

Sleep in late. Roll out of bed disheveled. Creep up the volume on our track of the week BETS “Don’t Give A Fuck.” Over an entrancing retro beat, “I don’t don’t don’t give a fuck, don’t don’t don’t give a fuck” teases the sultry bicoastal singer/songwriter before warning, “Everybody knows…I never fall in love.”  An image is evoked of a lazy morning and the electro-pop artist in a floral silk robe with hair tousled pouring black coffee, perhaps a morning toke, while ignoring her lover still sleeping from last night’s antics. BETS is too busy writing a song in head swept from the day’s early glow and the late night memories. The electro-pop tune provides recurrent reminders via pulse and vocals lifting you into a mellow trance. Start your day with this one, I’ve always said not giving a fuck is an important part of the path to enlightenment.


The track is off of her upcoming 2015 debut LP Days, Hours, Nights.

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VIDEO OF THE WEEK: The Bulls “Come Unwound”

The Bulls - photo by Josh Giroux

Happy day after Thanksgiving. Let’s fade away from sweaters and forced family relations and return to head-in-the-blogosphere normalcy with a viewing of Los Angeles duo The Bulls “Come Unwound.” Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll is a cliché for a reason, the trio go together like turkey, stuffing, with a dollop of gravy. Stick with weed and red wine for this one, as far as this video is concerned sex and rock ‘n’ roll are a delicacy to be savored rather than substance to be abused. Yet speaking of abuse, the bondage-themed video uses shibari (the ancient Japanese form of rope bondage) to illustrate the ethereal sounds of Anna’s voice paired with Marc’s strumming. An anonymous woman dressed in a ghostly white body suit and dominatrix black heels sways to the lovely music as beautifully intrinsic knots tie across her body with bold red rope. Laced through the bondage scenery is Anna, singer and multi-instrumentalist and Marc the guitarist in leather jackets in an empty warehouse that just as easily could have been used for a shoot. Like that time I wrote about group sex while wearing a gingham sundress and my hair up in a bun, the video uses (my favorite) artistic technique of meshing the traditionally beautiful with the perversely taboo. In The Bull’s case, it’s a blonde playing the violin with arms tied in scarlet bondage ropes. The soft shoegaze yings as BDSM imagery yangs. Take a break from Black Friday online shopping and watch the video below (then talk dirty in French).

LIVE REVIEW: The Muffs @ Del Monte Speakeasy, Venice CA

The Muffs reunion


These days, it seems no one is impervious to nineties nostalgia, least of all Burger Records, who release Whoop Dee Doo on July 29th, the first album of new material from grunge-pop aficionados The Muffs in ten years. The three-piece, consisting of lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Kim Shattuck, bassist Ronnie Barnett, and drummer Criss Crass, is scheduled for several West Coast Burger-sponsored bashes, including this past weekend’s Burger Beach Party USA at the Del Monte Speakeasy located in the heart of Venice.

Arriving a bit late for sets from labelmates Audacity, The Tyde, The Aquadolls, and Collen Green, my peers and I descended into the dimly lit bar decorated with twenties style lamps and red leather couches. The crowd consisted of people of all different ages, sporting every style from summertime surf grunge to bohemian fifty-year old mom swag. Once The Muffs took the stage it became clear that they’re touring veterans; you could tell immediately that they have been performing together for years. Perhaps best known for having had their cover of “Kids In America” (originally by Kim Wilde) featured in one of my most favorite movies, Clueless, the band has gone through numerous lineups and released five records via Warner Bros. and Reprise Records, but have always retained a bouncy, feel-good vibe.

Kim had a huge smile on her face the whole show, aggressively singing upbeat surfer rock songs to a crowd of moshing admirers. Their new material, much in the vein of their early catalogue, is comprised of perfect riffs made with power chords we all know and love, hard hitting bass lines, and drum beats that make for some truly inspired head-banging. Though The Muffs’ set was about 45 minutes long, it felt like only fifteen minutes in which both the band and their audience had a blast. Kim’s banter in between songs consisted of making fart jokes and recalling times on past tours where she “made out with a lot of girls.” Their onstage presence perfectly accompanied their clever, humorous, and emotion- driven songs, which made for an incredibly enjoyable and satisfying show. There’s no word yet on whether a national tour will happen, but The Muffs are playing a few more Burger shindigs, listed below. In the meantime, check out lead single from Whoop Dee Doo, “Up And Down Around.”


Sunday, July 6 – Oakland, CA @ Burger Boogaloo (Mosswood Park)

Saturday, July 26 – San Diego, CA @ The Casbah

Saturday, Aug. 2 – Santa Ana, CA @ Burger a-Go-Go (The Observatory)