Sedona Soars with Latest Single “From A Mile Away”

Photo by Dan Niazi

Driving through the Catskills this past Spring, I had Sedona single “Missing in Paradise” on repeat. Sedona’s causal, hauntingly smooth vocal delivery feels instantly familiar and comforting, easily as infectious as Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere.” It’s an anthem to follow your gut in the relentless and unruly game of love, asking “What makes up a lover?” answering through layers of glistening synths. The bridge exists as an inner monologue of an independent woman, tired of games, on the brink of giving up, she drives back to New York City, leaving the burden of love behind while longing to feel that familiar awakening of emotional instincts. Fresh nuance exists with every stream of the song’s infectious, uplifting hooks, sweeping chord progressions, lush harmonies, and thumping bass lines. Narrative arcs and concise musical arrangement creates sonic space for healing, retrospection, and forgiveness of our own past patterns of the heart.

Sedona’s latest single “From A Mile Away” tells a tale as old as time: the breaking of trust. The pain of betrayal exists as universal truth, and healing and forgiveness must come from sitting in the emotion, and seeing it through to the other side. The song offers comfort, and a reclaiming of power, when one faces “the cold hard truth.” The intro transports the listener back in time with ’80s synth leads, and a pulsating Laurie Anderson inspired vocal pads that reoccurs throughout the track.

Both singles follow Sedona’s 2020 LP Rearview Angel; together, these releases create powerful nostalgia that feels like time traveling back to the dreamiest soundscapes of the late ’70s and early ’80s, but Sedona arrives with authenticity and a firm grip on the hybrid of modern and retro influences.

The project began as cover band of Sedona’s mother’s original music. Reclaiming an underrated and amazing catalog, Sedona began performing the songs and bringing them to life in downtown venues of New York City. It wasn’t long  before she caught the attention of Terrible Records, and inked a deal to distribute original music. Now fully releasing original music, the project has evolved into an eclectic Brooklyn-based five-piece, with Merilyn Chang on keys, Claire Gilb on guitar, Margaux Bouchegnies on bass, and Tia Cestaro on drums. Sedona plays the Weird Sister Records Launch Party at Our Wicked Lady on July 14th, with Melanie Faye and Sug Daniels.

Sedona plans to one day record an album of her mother’s body of work that kicked it all off, but for now she’s breaking out by making her mark on the LA/NY indie music scene. I caught up with Sedona over the phone, during a recent vacation to Mexico, to discuss her origin story and creative process. 

AF: Can you discuss a bit about your childhood and the moniker Sedona? 

I’m from a town in the valley called Chatsworth in Los Angeles. It’s a mountain town, with a lot of horses and hiking. It’s very quaint, and has western energy. Growing up, I remember my dad would always go to this local bar called The Cowboy Palace. It’s like a saloon – a weird, hidden gem of LA. I actually wouldn’t say gem; more like a weird, hidden, forgotten underbelly of the valley.

My parents divorced when I was three or four. I was actually at their wedding. My mom and I wore matching pink dresses. Yes, I am a bastard, and although the wedding was fun from what I remember, the meaning of Sedona actually comes from their break. The first memory I have as a child is in Sedona – it was really the only memory I have of my parents being together. I remember watching a horse slip on rocks in a creek. It was the first time I ever felt a strong emotion: fear. Music helps me address emotions I’ve been holding onto. I use the writing process as a form of healing.

As for my childhood, my dad captured my entire life on his VHS camera. He’s a photographer. I was always performing and trying to bring joy to my parent’s stressful lives. I became a bit of a jester, an only child trying to make them smile. I was performing very young, writing songs, and acting out crazy stories. They’re really fun to watch, and it all makes sense to me now, why I feel so at home with singing. I grew up singing in choirs, then marching band in high school, and concert band. I used to compete in a cappella groups and travel, which was exciting. 

AF: Where do you feel most creatively free to write music?

That’s an awesome question. I feel like for me, it’s not so much a place, but rather like a feeling of openness and comfort that I can really feel anywhere. I’ve written songs driving in the passenger seat of my boyfriend’s car. I’ve written songs in the passenger seat of someone else’s car. Now that I think about it, I definitely like to write in the company of close friends. I have built this little group of producers, writers, and friends, who I feel really comfortable writing with. I feel like I’ve finally found my circle. I love writing with my band. I love writing with my friends, Ben, Matt and Tony. Ben and Tony and I wrote “Missing in Paradise.”

AF: Who are your musical icons and influences?

Stevie Nicks, obviously. Gwen Stefani, Patrice Rushen. I’ve been listening to Missing Persons non-stop. Mazzy Star, Britney Spears. I love Stevie Wonder, The Mamas and the Papas, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, the list goes on and on. It’s really all over the place. 

AF: How did you meet the amazing women that make up Sedona?

I have always wanted to collaborate with women and have a female band. I kind of set out on that journey early on. We met through mutual friends, and mostly on the internet. We actually just spent the last two weeks together, living in a house in LA recording eight hours a day for two weeks! It’s all new material that hasn’t been released for our album. 

Photo by Dan Niazi

AF: I’ve had “Missing in Paradise” on repeat since it came out. I can’t get enough! What is the production process like when creating a song? 

It’s different every time, and really depends on how the song started. If it’s a song with, Ben and Tony or my friend, Matt, who also produces me, we tend to write every part. They prefer it that way when they’re producing someone. I’ve tried to blend the two worlds, by sending the band the song and asking if they want to add anything. I’ll send my producers the band’s song and see what they think. It’s a lot of collaboration on all fronts. I’m kind of like the singular voice, and I co-produce everything I put out. I definitely have my hand in the arrangement and sounds. And when things come in, when they don’t, overall how things should feel. So I love that part of writing. 

AF: Your most recent track “From A Mile Away” was produced by David Carrier and yourself. Can you talk about that process of creating the track?

We wrote it together over the pandemic from afar because we connected on Instagram and he was like, “I love your music” and I was like, “I love yours too!” So he sent me that track and I just popped into my home studio. I quickly sang some lyrics and top-line, and it stuck and he really dug it. So it’s literally just his track and my lyrics and top-line, and it just fits perfectly together. 

AF: What was your experience releasing Rearview Angel during the pandemic?

Releasing music during the pandemic didn’t feel any different than releasing music during any other time. The only difference I felt was the sadness of not being able to perform the songs live, and give them life.

AF: What advice do you have for women in music? 

All women and femme persons in music should be celebrated and their music shared with pride and joy. Women are underrepresented in the music industry, and finally women that rock are making their way to the top!

Self doubt is a bitch, but it’s not useful in the world of music making. As a woman in music, trust your gut and keep pushing forward.

Follow Sedona on Facebook for ongoing updates.

John Errol is on Fire with Genre-Melting Debut LP Inferno

Photo By Lili Pepper, Art Direction by Nic Viollet

Creating dense, nostalgic soundscapes somewhere between Elliott Smith, Nine Inch Nails, and Britney Spears’ 2007 magnum opus record Blackout, John Errol lands squarely in his own unique, postmodern iteration of pop with debut LP Inferno. Dreamlike production weaves together self-reflective narratives depicting a world of haunting silhouettes, mischievous cowboys, and goth phantoms up to no good. Errol offers us a selective journey into his intimate, pulsating, and immediate songwriting. Each track on Inferno exists as its own mini episode built around nuanced, detail-oriented musical arrangement. The completely self-produced LP swells and expands deeper upon each listen.

With contemporary cutting wit and a dark LA-darling demeanor, Errol has the soul of a seasoned creative veteran, and comes off as a man who’s lived many lives by the tender yet dangerous age of twenty-seven. He’s an internal adventurer ready to guide you into the emotional fires of his musical revolution. In a collection of ten songs, John Errol unleashes a suitcase of inner demons into a nebulous healing chamber, accessible to the rest of us through headphones.

Inferno starts off with “Run Wild,” a poetic intro to Errol’s origin story backed by a Laurie Anderson-esque arpeggiator. “I stared into the sun/Saw a vision that was never mine/I thought, what have I done?/Started out so simple with a piano my granddad gave/He always wanted me to play a song when I was little/But now he says my tune has changed.” The lyrics reflect the musical dichotomy that has sustained and driven Errol since childhood.

Born in London and raised in LA by Turkish and Greek immigrant parents (his maternal grandmother owned the nightclub where his parents met in the ’80s, while his father was on a business trip), Errol has a way of compartmentalizing his backstory with comedic timing and handful of blunt one-liners. “My mom is a failed classical pianist. She’s incredible, don’t get me wrong, way more technically proficient than me,” he says. “But my immigrant grandmother pushed her really hard into a more traditionally Western occupation.” Not allowed to pursue music professionally, Errol’s mother made sure music was a large part of her children’s lives, and an outlet for expression from a very young age.

As a young child, Errol recalls being essentially mute. “An ideal weekend for me was playing the piano, and going to Color Me Mine Pottery studios to paint mermaid statues. I was literally on my own planet,” he recalls. He attended prestigious prep school Harvard Westlake, “which was nothing short of a nightmare,” he says. “I was an overachiever, and I worked my ass off to get there, but… I was in culture shock, and it was a huge wake up call.”

As a teenager he became obsessed with alternative music, taken under the wing of his older cousin. His first large-scale live music experience at the formative age of eleven was Curiosa at The Home Depot Center in Los Angeles. “Growing up, I was very misanthropic, a bit cliché,” he says. “I was cripplingly shy, and the editor of my school’s literary magazine. That demeanor works against me, even to this day; people think I’m an asshole at first glance. As for my music taste, I was listening to a lot of Robert Smith, and got a little Satanic at one point. I was obsessed with Jack Off Jill and Babes in Toyland. I went through a whole punk phase. In terms of the music I played, I kept it safe with just classical piano and jazz guitar.” 

Errol took regimented piano lessons from five to fourteen, then segued into the guitar through jazz combos in high school. The early classical training led him to focus on ear training, partially out of dread of sight reading, which enhanced his sonic abilities and allowed him to become a self-sufficient artist and producer, as well as a mixing and mastering machine. The creative control he exerted over Inferno takes a page from the playbook of The Weeknd’s Abel Tesfaye; interestingly enough, Errol recently starred as the masked new wave keyboardist in “Save Your Tears.”

While he doesn’t have to share any of the engineering or creative duties involved with making a record, this visionary quality also drove him into the ground. Inferno was five years in the making, mostly because Errol endlessly rerecorded the tracks, experimenting with various sound palettes. He’d find himself up until the sunrise dragging amps into the shower, just for the reverb plate of the bathroom’s tile walls. It took a global pandemic for the record to be marked complete.

Making a record over the course of five years becomes an interesting journey because throughout the creative process the industry had dramatically shifted. “Spotify runs the world, essentially. And it’s created a genre of music unto itself, a hazy innocuous bedroom pop which I personally fucking hate,” Errol scoffs. “A quote I saw on Twitter summed it up so well: Songs are the new albums, playlists are the new artists. It was one of the most disturbing yet accurate summaries of what has happened to the musical landscape.”

Inferno stands in contrast to that model, demanding to be consumed as a comprehensive work of pop art. Its centerpiece is the eight-minute-plus “Blue Flame,” a multi-dimensional coming of age story. “Muted dreams won’t give you many signs to read/Better do what you’re told/And swallow your pride/A path has been laid in a prison built along the line,” Errol sings, his voice drenched in deeply resonating vocoder, merging classical piano with industrial synthetic drums, infectious guitar leads, and soothingly smooth melancholic yet melodic top lines. After many iterations of the track, he nailed it.

Though he could easily be a phantom figure from the future, traveling back in time, swaying under pink stage lights in a hazy Lynchian fog to an ’80s beat in a discotheque, the actual path that led Errol to present day is almost more interesting. The contrarian found his way to the East Coast, attending Bard College. “I had this idea of LA being this vapid center of bimbo culture. Now there’s a very established art scene, but as a kid I was never really around people who were interested in the same things,” he says. “At Bard, I entered this universe where there were people like me. I met my closest friends and collaborators. I think it was my second day, I met Adinah [Dancyger] who directed [my music videos].”

During his formative years Errol took a weekend job in New York City, crashing at a friend’s NYU dorm, and began keeping an ear to the ground for modern music in the New York scene. He snatched up his first professional music industry gig while working retail at Opening Ceremony, when he stumbled into buzz band Starred; after professing his admiration, they scooped him up to play keyboards on their tour with Courtney Love. “I was just stunned every night getting to watch her, because as a kid I was actually a major Courtney Love fan,” Errol says. “For my sixth grade talent show at my Catholic school in KoreaTown, I sat on the stage and played and sang a rendition of ‘Doll Parts’ – just chubby little me in a Catholic uniform. It was dramatic, and I was just so clearly a homosexual.” 

When Starred disbanded, Errol re-emerged with with the knowledge that he wanted to pursue music professionally; he was no longer the kid at Kulak’s Woodshed Monday Open Mic on Laurel Canyon drowning himself in Elliott Smith-inspired laments (what the bubbly yet self-deprecating Erroll calls “the worst music of all time – how could I have gone out to sing those songs?”). He finished up at Bard with a thesis on Faulkner, but as his idiosyncratic blend of everything from industrial to country began to take shape, he found there were few who understood his vision.

“Past managers I tried to work with would say, what is all this insane, crazy industrial stuff you’re making? It’s incohesive, don’t do that. Don’t waste your time with it,” Erroll says. “I want to try a million different outfits, and find a common thread between all of them. I’m not as interested in focusing on songs that will ‘do well,’ because I don’t think pop music is guaranteed to do well or have a certain outcome.”

After parting ways from various managers and agents, Errol sought solitude and sobriety to regain his sense of purpose and center from the highs and lows of too much industry attention too soon. “Being in the process of assembling a professional team, while struggling with addiction, made me incapable of finishing music,” Errol says. “I just had this wall and blockage. I was a living cliché of the saying, ‘You’re your own worst enemy.’ That really was my main problem, and why it took me five years to finish the record.” Separating himself from his self-destructive tendencies, he instead found solace in 5am studio sessions. Now self-managed under the guidance of his distro company Terrible Records, Errol feels secure in following his own artistic and musical instincts.

On “Unbelievable” he describes these trials and tribulations, as well as the discomfort of self-marketing. His magnetic, twisted persona shines and his wit reigns free in the video’s satanic rituals, campy red gels, blood, gore, chaos and, surprisingly, choreography. Errol croons, “I lied my age/I stole my name/My head keeps spinning/And I can’t seem to stop/A million lies/I can’t rewind/A life that isn’t there/I am unbelievable.”

That self awareness only adds to John Errol’s mystique and charm as a brilliant and truly actualized artist. Through making Inferno, he has come to terms with personal demons, from his battle with addiction to his struggle with mental health, and the resulting album resonates themes of personal growth, happiness, and self acceptance. After a year of sobriety (during a global pandemic no less), John Errol has emerged as one of music’s most exciting up-and-coming queer indie pop stars.

Follow John Errol on Instagram and Facebook for ongoing updates.

INTERVIEW: Alaska Reid Goes Solo on Big Bunny EP

Photo Credit: Audrey Hall

Alaska Reid is already an industry pro. By 14, she was performing her songs in clubs on the Sunset Strip, and by 20, she’d released Crush with her band Alyeska and veteran producer John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth). Three years later, she’s stepping back into performing solo. Big Bunny, the singer-songwriter’s first solo EP, drops today, December 11, from Los Angeles imprint Terrible Records.

Infused with a free-spirited sense of whimsy and wisdom beyond Reid’s years, Big Bunny transcends genre labeling. Reid brings elements of her childhood listening—narrative-driven country—into her songwriting, and combines it with tender folk-pop melodies and raw, electronic-influenced indie rock production.

In anticipation of the EP she calls a diary of her life so far, Reid had a chat with Audiofemme about growing up splitting her time between small-town Montana and bustling L.A., her feelings about leaving the band to perform solo again, and how it’s all shaped her ever-evolving musical vision.

AF: I read that you grew up in Park County, Montana, with an approximate population of 15,000, and that you went to a one-room schoolhouse and took lessons from one of the only music teachers in town. What was it like growing up this way?

AR: Yeah, it was interesting. I actually think the most interesting thing about it is that I feel often like I grew up in between two places. [I felt] like an outsider in cities and here, too, because I grew up here and spent so long here and yet I was also away from here during high school and I didn’t go to the high school in town. I think that provided [me] a [different] perspective. If you just grew up in one place and you didn’t leave, you don’t really question it all that much. 

AF: So you were able to get perspective by moving away? Tell me more about that.

AR: Yeah, because I started going back and forth to L.A., sometime in the end of middle school through high school. So, I really got that shift. I have these really distinct memories of leaving the school I went to and going to school in L.A. and feeling sick because I couldn’t even fathom the fact that the schools [in L.A.] I went to kind of looked like a prison and it [had] a lot of students. I mean, it was a nice school but it’s just the way big cities look. If you look at the schoolhouse I went to in comparison it looks like a little red and white church and it has a steeple with a bell on top. 

AF: What pre-empted your going back and forth to L.A.?

AR: I’m from a really big family and my dad, he just needed to start working another job so he went to L.A. and then my mom had twins. My parents were still together, but it was winter, and this is one of the moments when my mom was like, “We need to go to L.A. and be with your dad.” Then she fell outside on the ice, it was really bleak out and she fractured her arm, and she was like, “I can’t handle it, it’s too much.” So we started going to see my dad. There’s a lot of us kids – I’m one of five. 

AF: Do you still live in Montana? 

AR: You know, because of COVID everything is pretty scrambled. I’m living here now but before I was living and working in L.A. and going to Montana to see family and friends and stuff and for breaks. Now I’m just here, which is pretty funny. 

AF: Can you remember some of the contrasts you noticed after being in L.A. and coming back to Montana? 

AR: First of all, I think L.A., no matter where you come from, grows on you. I don’t think you’re immediately hit with love for it, at least in my experience. Montana has such pristine nature and hiking is totally different here. I think when I went to L.A. I was really shocked by the grittiness of it—the city grittiness—and the strip malls. I was living way far out on the outskirts of L.A. so I wasn’t in like the Hollywood parts, but so many things were different.

Another thing: I missed a lot of cultural references – not because people in Montana aren’t informed, but because of the proximity L.A. has to the movie business and movie stars. That was really different. Everything is just bigger. I really love L.A. now though, it grew on me. I think just the broadness of L.A. makes it so different to me. 

AF: Do you remember when you first realized you liked to sing and write music? 

AR: I’ve been singing since I was really young so I never really thought about it. There was one voice teacher in town and she was like an angel to me. She taught me from when I was I think 5 or 6 until I was 20 maybe. I started singing with her and I sang classical music and opera-y stuff and I wanted to be an opera singer when I was really young. I performed here in town, did a lot of community things. It was so natural, the singing thing. I really didn’t second-guess it.

Plus, my dad listened to a bunch of music so that was always in my life. I remember the first time hearing The Breeders going to school and Dinosaur Jr., and being infatuated. And then the guitar – I honestly think my parents were just like, “Why don’t you play guitar because you constantly are listening and remarking on the guitar in songs?” I was forced to practice and then fell in love with it and I started writing. I didn’t know that people covered songs really. I thought if you were going to play you were going to write your own songs, so that’s why I started doing it.

AF: You knew from that young that you wanted to do music full time? 

AR: Oh yeah, I was gigging on the Sunset Strip when I was 14. My parents got me my first guitars and drove me to gigs and waited outside with me when I couldn’t go in because I was too young. 

AF: What are some of the clubs you played on the Sunset Strip when you were really young? Where did you cut your teeth?

AR: Oh my god, I played all over L.A. I played the Pig & Whistle, I played the House of Blues, and the small rooms, like during bar nights.

AF: I read that you were kind of frustrated in L.A. because of the way you were perceived as a woman songwriter or a young girl songwriter. Can you elaborate on that? 

AR: Oh yeah. I don’t know. I can’t speak for everyone, but being a woman is really important in my music and I love writing about young women and women in general. I grew up in a kind of matriarchy as a household. I don’t like people labeling people first by their gender and then secondly as their art. That really irritated me – I was like, I just want to be taken seriously. It’s gotten so much better but it was really hard to be taken seriously and when I was playing all those clubs as a 14-year-old girl. I got a lot of support, but I also did get a lot of people that were assholes to me because I was a girl, like sound guys and stuff like that. Or creepy people. That’s kind of why I started the band, because it was like, I don’t feel like I can be alone out there because people don’t take me seriously. That’s changed a lot. 

AF: Tell me about how that’s changed for you. 

AR: Well, A) I’ve gotten older, B) the world has realized a lot of things and C) I think you’re just seeing a lot of women now playing music and kicking ass. Not that they weren’t before. 

AF: Was your music back then like the music you write now? How has your music changed? 

AR: To be honest, I really think all the pieces were there and it’s just me actually sanding them down and putting them together in the right way, where I am right now. At that point in time I wasn’t playing electric. I was really into country music because I grew up on Americana, and I’d wear Patsy Cline dresses, stuff like that. I love Merle Haggard, I love George Jones, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Guy Clark. A modern country person I love [is] Miranda Lambert. I think she’s so cool. I love Lyle Lovett too. He’s a mentor of mine, he’s the greatest. 

AF: You know him personally? 

AR: Yeah, I do actually. He’s been a sort of angel in my life. He’s an amazing songwriter. I met him through my dad’s work.

AF: Does country influence your new EP? I can definitely hear the influence; is that intentional? Or just something that pours out of you because you were around it when you were young? 

AR: The thing I absolutely adore about country music is that it’s narrative-based songwriting, and that’s really important to me. I think that’s the biggest thing I take from country. Also I love the guitars, and I love the musicianship. To me that’s really rock ‘n’ roll, just how dexterous everyone is both in narrative songwriting and in the musicianship. 

AF: How did connect with producer/engineer John Agnello for that first Alyeska release? 

AR: I always loved Dinosaur Jr., one of my favorite bands—I cry at the shows. I started getting really interested in electric guitar and whatnot. That kind of started my band and, you know, the early iterations of it. Then I had this manager, I said I wanted to connect with Agnello to him, and he was like, “You’re not going to be able to contact John Agnello.” Yeah. So I was kind of like, “Fuck you,” and actually went on Facebook and found John and messaged him and was like, “Hi John, I love all of your work, let’s meet up, I want to play you songs, I’m going to be in New York at this time.” And he wrote me back, like “Come hang out at the mixing studio, I’m mixing this record.” I went there with my mom, and he thought I was a guy, which is really funny. Like he didn’t look at my Facebook profile, I don’t think.

AF: What then prompted you to go solo for this EP? Have you parted ways from your band, or is that still existing in the background and you just decided to do a solo project? 

AR: I parted ways with my band. I was the band, but I had people play with me and it was too messy. I was so grateful because again, I’m going on about John, but John is also another angel in my life, he’s amazing, and doing that record with him, I wouldn’t have changed anything. I just felt so proud and so happy and so supported by him and he taught me so much with songwriting and everything, so I was really grateful for that experience. 

AF: Zooming in more on your EP, what does the name Big Bunny come from?

AR: I just love bunnies. I used to chase rabbits when I was younger, when I lived out in what we call “The Valley” in Montana. We had a little bit more property and a field, and the title track of the EP is about me and my sister and our childhood. You know, when you don’t have anything to do and you run around… I always wanted to find this big bunny and stuff like that so it kind of comes from that. I think it’s just been a theme in my life. 

AF: It’s kind of whimsical too! Another song I loved on the album was “Warm” – the production is slightly different and it seems to be more of a pop song so I’m wondering what the story is – how did it come to life? 

AR: That song is really funny because I had never written with anyone else before a year or two ago, maybe, and that was one of the songs I wrote with my friend Max Hershenow, and he also did some of the production on it. He’s been an amazing part of my life too because he has really taught me about pop song writing, and not being afraid of that. I was afraid of stuff. I had so many rules.

AF: Where did the rules come from? 

AR: I had rules that I hated pop. At one point—now I own so many fucking guitar pedals—but at one point I was like, “If you have a guitar pedal, you’re an asshole.” I just made rules. I think too, it comes from the fact that I’ve had to be really tough in indie rock so [with Max] I relaxed a little bit. Max is really sweet; we wrote that song together, so the pop sensibility comes from him. 

AF: Is your songwriting autobiographical, usually? A lot of your songs are from the perspective of a young woman, or young women – do you usually draw on your own perspective or do you think about characters? How do you write? 

AR: I definitely write about myself but it’s really hard to write honestly about yourself and be okay with singing that every night to strangers. So, I think I also kind of combine bits of myself with fictionalized characters or people around me. It makes it more of a blend, it’s less close to home in that way.  

AF: What are some silver linings that have come out of quarantine for you? Where is your music career right now?

AR: I think it’s been really productive. I’ve learned Logic and it’s blown my mind, because I thought I couldn’t do that. So now, because I produced two of the songs—”City Sadness” and “Big Bunny.” That’s a really big thing.

AF: Were a lot of these songs written during COVID, or prior to the pandemic?

AR: A couple of the songs are from my band days. “Oblivion” actually has the chords to the first song I ever wrote and then I re-wrote it. So this EP is really a comprehensive picture of my music in general. I either had pieces of the songs or ideas of the songs since I was younger and then ones I did with people, excluding “Oblivion,” I wrote as I was recording and the others have been songs I’ve written on my own. Big Bunny is really the diary of my life up until this moment.

Follow Alaska Reid on Instagram and Facebook for ongoing updates.

Dana Foote Leans in to Her Sir Chloe Persona on Debut EP Party Favors

In her senior year at Bennington College in Vermont, Dana Foote, a music composition major, was required to present a concert of original music. Foote gathered together some of her school peers, the songs she wrote, and she called the group Sir Chloe, a nod to the name her mother almost gave her as well as her androgynous style.

Three years later, 25 year-old Foote has graduated from music school and thrust herself into the “real” music world—and she’s been well-received. Her breakout single “Animal” has over 12 million views across social media platforms, another of single, “Michelle” is rising on cosplay TikTok.

Out today via Los Angeles-based imprint Terrible Records, Sir Chloe’s debut EP, Party Favors is an impressive first sampling of Foote’s evocative, interrogative songwriting and grunge-mumble voice, which results in music that could be the lovechild of singer-songwriter Mitski and post-punky garage rock band The Strokes.

Foote sat down with Audiofemme to chat about her journey to this debut EP, the bandmates that helped make Party Favors possible, and the tumultuous relationships that inspired her love-aloof lyrics.

AF: At just 25, your skill as a musician and a songwriter is impressive. You must’ve started young. Was there a lot of music in your home growing up? 

DF: Yeah – my dad and uncle are both musicians. My dad is a guitarist and my uncle is a composer; he plays a lot of instruments. We played a lot of music growing up and my brother took up drums from a young age. We were all kind of playing music all the time. I also grew up in church and went to Jesus camp for five years and there was a lot of singing there, which probably had something to do with it as well.

AF: Did you grow up in LA? 

DF: I grew up in Connecticut. Old Greenwich. 

AF: Did you start writing music in college, or did you write songs before that time? 

DF: I started writing songs my junior year of high school. Before that I was in bands and we did a lot of covers. It was kind of like working up from covers to writing my own stuff and then I started writing in my junior year of high school and stuck with it. 

AF: Do you tend to write on guitar, or other instruments? 

DF: Yeah, I write on guitar and piano. 

AF: Who else is makes Sir Chloe tick? You work with some peers from school, right? 

DF: I write the melody and the words and I’ll usually write a couple of loose chords and then I’ll send that to [guitarist and producer] Teddy O’Mara who produces the music with me, and he’ll sometimes make chord progressions a little bit more intriguing and he’ll start the arrangements in Logic and then we’ll kind of send a song back and forth until it’s almost complete or generally you have a clear sense of what the feel is going to be. Then, we bring it to the band which is currently Austin Holmes on bass—who is a good childhood friend of Teddy’s—and my brother, Palmer Foote, on drums. 

AF: How did you meet Teddy? 

DF: We had a few classes together starting his freshman year, my sophomore year. We were both fans of each others’ work and he produced a couple of songs for me back when I was just a solo act and I really liked working with him so when I put the band together, he was the first person I asked. He’s also a fantastic guitarist so I really wanted him around.

AF: It’s so cool to have shared background that way. I love the story of how you named the band, why did you decide to put Sir in front of the name? And tell me about your relationship to the name Chloe? 

DF: I’ve always loved the name for a lot of reasons – it’s a cute name and it’s the name I tell people when I don’t want to tell them my real name, like someone at a bar. And also the song “Chloe in the Afternoon” by St. Vincent – I’ve always loved that song so it’s a little bit of a nod to that. Chloe has always been a weird second name for me in a lot of ways and I’ve felt very connected to that name. And then I put Sir in front of it because I wanted something androgynous. I feel like my gender performance is a little bit more middle of the spectrum. I wanted something that could be perceived either way and was a little tongue in cheek perhaps. 

AF: Tell me a little about how classical music and the classical training you’ve received has informed your approach to rock music? 

DF: Gosh, well, I think there’s a lot of ways it probably informs it that I’m not necessarily aware of. But primarily I would say that it made me want to use more – I don’t want to say the word “smarter” chord progressions, but I think it really opened, it made me understand themes in music and the importance of repetition and the voicings of chords and learning how different voicings of chords can really mean different things and sound totally different. Debussy is a great example because all of his chords are so baroque and whimsical and wild and it creates a world when you listen to it. I felt that way about a lot of composers that I studied, where you listen to it and get transported to a different universe and then you get to learn exactly what they did and exactly why it makes you feel that way. I think it helped me understand where, like if I’m thinking about an idea, classical music helps me turn the idea into a tangible melody with a chord progression and also [be] more experimental.

AF: You said you grew up in church and did a lot of church singing – are you still religious? And also are you fascinated by the occult or other ways of worshipping, given the dark, mysterious undertones in some of your writing

DF: I love religion, I’ve always been very interested in it. Growing up on the East coast, specifically in the Northeast, there’s a lot of intense religious imagery that I was fed a pretty consistent diet of growing up. In high school we had chapel every Monday morning [for] announcements and sometimes people would sing, but it was in a church, which I believe is one of the more dramatic buildings you can be in. I love churches. I love how small they make you feel, I love the way they sound on the inside, and the general architecture and how everything, every seating area is super uncomfortable. I love it all. It’s so dramatic. When I was looking at high schools, we would visit schools that would have big crosses with extremely lifelike Jesuses hanging in the cafeteria and stuff like that. It was always around growing up. My mom grew up pretty Catholic and her parents were Catholic, and I had a lot of experience with church and I just got fascinated with the community of it. That kind of led to being interested in other religions, and community and lifestyle around other religions, because I do think that religion in America is a very fascinating thing to me. The intensity of it all. To be honest this is the most I’ve talked about church probably in years. I don’t think about it that much but I know it’s probably in my unconscious brain somewhere swimming around. 

AF: Let’s talk about “Animal,” your breakout track. I love that the lyrics seem to express this resistance to being someone’s romantic obsession and I sense this in a lot of your songs. Without getting too personal where does that come from for you? Why is that something you write about? 

DF: I’ve thought about this too because I didn’t really realize this until we put the EP together and then I listened to through it and I was like—wow, I have a really common theme here. I would say, like the beginning of college or after my freshman year of college, I was starting to learn about what boundaries were and the importance of setting them. Part of it is that, and kind of saying like, “I’m seeing this doesn’t work for me so I’m going to do what’s best for me right now. And I’m going to trust myself to make that decision.” I think when you’re first starting to set boundaries it’s a scary leap to say that and do that. So I think a lot of those older songs were processing the feelings behind setting boundaries. “Animal” was about breaking up with somebody that didn’t want to be broken up with and it ended up being a very long drawn-out process where I didn’t feel like I was being listened to and it was very frustrating. Additionally it’s about looking back in hindsight and being like, this is where I should have set the boundary and I didn’t so I am going to retell this story and make myself sound more empowered than I feel right now. 

AF: I really like how you characterize the person in “Michelleas a monster from Hell and I wanted to know – is that somebody you actually know? 

DF: It’s somebody I actually know. 

AF: What inspired that song? 

DF: Well, I was dating somebody and it ended really badly. It was very crazy and kind of a whirlwind situation where every time I interacted with her I was like, “Oh my God, I can never speak to this person again.” But I kept getting sucked back in. She would just have this way about her that was really hard to say no to. I kept crawling back. And I was really mad at myself. At the time I was really trying to stay out of trouble and here I was just putting myself in the most compromising position all the time. 

AF: What are your goals for music? 

DF: We have a few. The big thing is that we want to play shows. That’s the whole reason why any of us got into this. Playing shows is our favorite thing to do [as a band]. That’s the priority and I’d like to be able to have a career in music and be able to hopefully compose in the future and work with musicians that I admire. The big thing is creating a community around music and connecting with people. Being able to play music for as long as we can would really be the ultimate goal. 

AF: What are you most proud of on this EP? 

DF: I’m really proud of how it feels like we’re finding our sonic identity with this. The way the songs have changed—like listening to the demos from when I first wrote these songs versus listening to them now—it really feels like I’m watching my children grow up. 

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