ANCHR Magazine

Holding you down with the best new music

A Chat With: Strange Foliage

The brainchild of Joey Cantacessi, Strange Foliage, released its debut track "Take Care" in April 2017. In the year following the initial single release, Cantacessi and his bandmates have been on a roll; playing shows around the city and recording a debut album. Called Settle, the record releases via Dark Matter's record label in just a few short days. To celebrate the record release, Strange Foliage headlines the Subterranean on Thursday night, accompanied by fellow up and comers in the Chicago scene: Easy Habits, Town Criers, and Rookie. Ahead of the show, I met up with Cantacessi and his bandmate Stuart MacFadyen at Treehouse Records to chat all about the band's beginning and the album process.  

 Joey Cantacessi at Treehouse Records

Joey Cantacessi at Treehouse Records

What was your first musical memory growing up?

Joey Cantacessi: Honestly, it was probably something lame like Blink 182. Watching music videos growing up, I was always like it’d be so cool to be in a rock band. I feel like I used to tell people I played guitar, even though I didn’t play guitar when I was growing up. Then I was like, I gotta do it to live up to what I’ve been saying.

Stuart MacFadyen: Our high school variety show always had a band at the end. I would see that and wanna do that. It was just our high school local band, but then I did it. I made it!

Do you have anybody specifically that you feel influenced your sound?

JC:  We’ve been in multiple different bands, so we had a phase of like jam bandy stuff. Our last band Marmaletta was more jammy, so I was kind of listening to a lot of Tame Impala, Temples kind of stuff. With Strange Foliage, I feel like we were influenced a lot by Fidlar, Queens of the Stone Age, The Misfits...kind of bands like that. I feel like I got into heavier rock in the past year or so. Just more of a punk sound. Also, it kind of blew up in Chicago. So it was easy to find people to play that kind of stuff with.

Strange Foliage has only been around about a year right?

JC: Yeah, we were just saying we recorded our first song in October of 2016, but we didn’t do anything until June of this past year, 2017. I basically just started Strange Foliage as my music. Once our past band broke up, I was like I’m just gonna do this solo thing and have people play with me. I was kind of trying to have all these different musicians on all the tracks. Then we got asked to open for Meat Bodies at the Empty Bottle, and I was like I should probably get a band going. Stu has always been with me, I went to high school with Justin so I kind of just cherry picked him. And I worked at Music Garage with Goose [Andrew "Goose" Giese], he’s our drummer. I just picked a little all star line up, and they enjoyed it, so they’ve kind of just stuck around.

So as far as the songwriting, it’s pretty much just you, and the band comes in to collaborate on the live show?

JC: I write all the songs for sure, then usually go to Stuart and we almost rewrite it. Then we go to practice and we show them the songs and [Justin and Goose] make their own parts.

As far as the songwriting on the record, is there a common theme? 

JC: Yeah, I guess it’s like discontent. It’s kind of heavier, more aggressive sounds. I think the original idea with every band I’ve been in the past, we’re always fighting or stressing and I just wanted to have this outlet that I kind of had control of and can kind of do whatever I wanted with and have all these songs already written. So it was kind of just an outlet for my own music.  To not have to be arguing with band members, it was more of a personal kind of journey that shaped into its own band. It wasn’t really planned.

Then you recorded it all here at Treehouse?

JC: Yeah. Everything was recorded here. This is the last day we’re gonna be at Treehouse.

Any interesting recording stories? Like Blue Dream told me they threw a toilet off a balcony....

JC: Nothing too wild, helped getting closer to Barrett [The engineer]. I feel like it was a more friendly process than the past recording I’ve done.

SM: Yeah, it was smooth.

JC: It was really smooth. It took a long time. We were here a lot, and it’s only like 6, 7 songs. But nothing crazy or wild stories, just a lot of beers, joints… I don’t want to name any names or anything, but we did have one weird experience. We had a friend come in that really wanted to play on the record, and it was at the time when I didn’t have these guys. It was just us bringing in people to record. He wouldn’t play anything we told him to, and it was just a waste of hours of our time and money.

Any song or two that particularly stand out as favorites?

JC:I’m really excited for the song called “Well Kept," that is my favorite song on the record. It’s literally only two lyrics, but I think it bangs. I like it...that would be the one I’m most excited about.

How did the relationship with Dark Matter come into play?

JC: That’s been pretty cool. I was just happy that someone was interested. [Stu] works there so that was the first point of contact, but that wasn’t why it happened. That’s just kind of how they heard of us--

SM: They came to me actually. It wasn’t like us asking them to put it out. They were like get an album and we’ll put it out. They’re super excited too. 

JC: They were just like we’re trying to integrate more of a music aspect into what they do. They started this label called Press Pot Recordings. The whole process has been cool cause they’re not like telling us what to do. They’re promoting us, they’re gonna put out the record, and they’ve helped us a lot along the way. 

SM: They’ve had some other releases... they’ve been around for like a year or so.

JC: They’ve done a couple cool ones. You know that show Metalocalypse on Adult Swim? It’s this weird animated show about stereotypes in metal. The producer of that just did a record for Dark Matter. So we’re just excited. They also do a coffee release with every comes out on 4/20 so it’s their yearly April blend.

As far as the release show, do you have anything special you’re planning? Any special guests?


JC: We have some things planned for sure, I don’t know about any special guests yet. If there are, I don’t wanna say, but we’re just really excited for that. We picked the lineup by hand, we picked the venue….We haven’t--as Strange Foliage--we haven’t headlined any shows yet. We really like all the bands that are opening. I’m excited to have Easy Habits. They’re a good band, they’re in their own kind of scene. I feel like there’s such over saturation in Chicago with similar line ups.

Who are some of your favorite other bands in the Chicago music scene that you want to shout out?

SM: We don’t know them, but Meat Wave.

JC: They’re one of our favorite bands, so good. All the bands that are playing with us at the release show [Town Criers, Easy Habits, Rookie]... Post Animal...they’re pretty tight. They’re putting out a record the next day. Pretty sweet! Who else? Blue Dream! Justin plays in that band. Goose Corp. Our drummer plays in another band called Goose Corp., they’re really tight. There’s so many bands in Chicago right now, it’s hard to choose.

You mentioned the over-saturation of similar lineups, what are some of the pros and cons to having a buzzing scene like ours?

JC: I think Chicago is just booming right now. It’s fun to be a part of it, and all of our friends are--while there is that over saturation, it’s also kind of fun to be able to go to a show and see everyone you know kind of thing. I’m a really big fan of the DIY scene in Chicago. In terms of venues, I love the Empty Bottle. It’s my favorite venue. I used to work there. SubT is cool. I’m not a huge venue goer. I like DIY spots. I was just at Observatory the other day, I like that place a lot.

One other thing I wanted to touch on, do you ever notice yourself pulling from non musical movies or visual artists?

JC: I don’t know about directly, but I’m really into Twin Peaks the show. A lot. I feel like I love the dark aspect of it. That’s kind of a tough question. I think just living in Chicago...the general vibe of like the scene is an influence. 

Do you have any other hobbies as a band?

SM: Skateboarding!

JC: I feel like that’s had a big influence on [my sound]. Just the skateboarding scene.

SM: Going back to one of the last questions...speaking of skateboarding, there’s this place in Pilsen called The Fallout. It’s a DIY venue/space/skate park. 

Any plans for summer tour?

JC: I'd like to! It’s one of those things that we’ll probably do like multiple 3 or 4-day tours, locally. For the time being, just cause we’ve done longer tours in the past and it’s a ton of work if you’re not at the point where you can bring people out in like, Nashville. I don’t know if anyone knows us across the border. We’re probably gonna be opening for some touring bands, like some local bands from Chicago that are touring. 

Any closing remarks?

JC: Just listen to the record, you’re gonna hate it

SM: Drink water.

JC: Support local music, drink water. Shop local. 

Grab your advance tickets to the Strange Foliage release show on April 19th here. 

A Chicago City Guide by Ganser

From our very own city of Chicago, post-punk outfit Ganser is set to release their debut album Odd Talk in just a few short days on April 20th. To celebrate the release, Ganser will hit the Empty Bottle stage tonight, April 16th to perform songs from the new album in one of the city's most legendary music venues. Ahead of the show, the band took some time to put together a guide of some of the other best spots in town. The best bars, resturaunts, venues, record shops...even the best car repair shops; you name it, Ganser didn't miss it on their guide. Get the scoop on Ganser's free show tonight here, and tune into their Chicago guide below to get to know the band a bit better!

 Photo by Samantha Lare

Photo by Samantha Lare


If there’s one thing we know how to do in Chicago, it’s drink. From high end cocktails to neighborhood dives, we’ve got you covered.

Charlie Landsman: One of the best places to drink in the city is probably Longman and Eagle. You can drop $50 bucks on scotch or $1 on PBR, also they play sweet tunes.

Brian Cundiff: Rainbo Club is one of our favorites for sure. They have some of the cheapest drinks around, play top tunes and they have a vintage photo booth to commemorate your debauchery. They also regularly feature the work of local artists on their walls. 

Nadia Garofalo: I’m not a big drinker, so I’m a fan of Logan Arcade. Barcades have popped up around the city in the last few years and Logan Arcade is by far my favorite. They have three rooms of vintage (and some newer) games, along with a full bar serving fair priced drinks. Bonus, they also have an awesome record store down the block called Logan Hardware. 

Alicia Gaines: We also wanted to mention Late Bar, a great late night spot with a darker ethos. You can dance to your favorite goth/post punk/ new wave etc. tunes until 4am! 


Food is a big part of culture in Chicago, here are a few of our favorite places. 

Charlie Landsman: My favorite place to eat is a tiny 10 seater in Rogers Park called Noon Hour Grill. It's super far north, so I don't get there very often anymore but I've probably been there (and this is no exaggeration) upwards of 200 times. I grew up pretty close to it and have been going since high school. I've had probably everything on the menu and now just usually get bulgogi, bee bim bop, or kimchee bulgogi fried rice. Miss you Susie.

Nadia Garofalo: For my vegan folk, you can’t beat Chicago Diner, offering comfort classics as well as contemporary dishes at both their Boystown and Logan Square locations. They carry gluten-free options too, which I’m pretty excited about. If you go, be sure to save room for one of the best vegan milkshakes around. 

Record stores

Brian Cundiff: Slightly outside the city proper, Hip Cat Records in Wilmette is a favorite of mine. They’ve had the same owner since the 80's, he's right on in his grading of used vinyl and the prices are the best around.

Alicia Gaines: I’m a fan of Bric-A-Brac Records, it’s a really cool little shop that has a good selection of local and hard to find music as well as the basics. They also have a ton of vintage/nostalgic toys and memorabilia to peruse. 

Live Music

Charlie Landsman: The Empty Bottle is probably my favorite place. I've seen some of my favorite shows there for cheap and it always sounds at the very least decent no matter where you stand. They keep their intimate rock venue atmosphere with a low stage and no barrier which is great, and they let people go pretty nuts within reason).

Alicia Gaines: I always look forward to seeing shows at Thalia Hall. It's equally great seeing shows from the floor or sitting in the balcony. It's a great stage to play, too. Charlie and I saw Xiu Xiu perform their Twin Peaks cover album there recently, my favorite show of the year so far.


Brian Cundiff: Favorite Car Repair- Warren's Shell, Evanston. Warren is a straight shooter who does fantastic work and will do whatever he can to save you money.

Nadia Garofalo: Favorite coffee shop-Star Lounge, serving delicious local coffee from Dark Matter. Local art on the walls, good vibes, good music and a patio in the summer. Chicago is home to a lot of local gems, my favorite is Space Oddities, a book store/ oddities/ local handmade shop and more. Just an all-around cool place to browse. It's also near some good vintage stores.

Alicia Gaines: The Music Box theater deserves a shout-out for consistently wonderful programming in one of the most beautiful places in the city. We've always been a group that's really interested in film, so it's a frequent haunt. 

There you have it! Check out Ganser's upcoming tour dates and follow them on social media below!

4/16 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle (Record Release Show) 

4/25 - Detroit, MI - Outer Limits Lounge %

4/26 - Pittsburgh, PA - Howlers %

4/27 - Brooklyn, NY - Alphaville %

4/28 - Philadelphia, PA - Mothership %

4/29 - Providence, RI - Alchemy %

5/01 - Brooklyn, NY - St. Vitus

5/02 - Baltimore, MD - Sidebar

5/03 - Richmond, VA - Flora

5/04 - Raleigh, NC - Slim's

5/05 - Atlanta, GA - 529

5/06 - Memphis, TN - Bar DKDC

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Allman Brown

 Allman Brown at SXSW 2018

Allman Brown at SXSW 2018

While at SXSW last month, we caught up London-based singer songwriter Allman Brown before one of his showcases.

Following the success of his debut album 1000 Years, Brown released his new EP Bury My Heart during the Austin festival. Tune into our chat with Allman Brown below for the backstory of the EP, his SXSW survival tips, a teaser of his upcoming North American tour and more!

What do you remember as your first musical memory, whether it was playing it or listening to it?

I grew up in Hong Kong. My mother listened to Lionel Richie a lot, so one of my first musical memories is “Dancing on the Ceiling." It inspired me to listen to a lot of pop music. I listened to a lot of Michael Jackson. So I watched "Bad" a lot...a lot. A particular music video that was really cool. I used to dance like Michael Jackson. My mother once made me dance for her tea party, in the style of Michael Jackson.

How are you feeling about releasing your Bury My Heart EP [out March 16th]?

I’m very excited, just because the album came out last year. This is just the first release where I’ve been doing full time music. These songs have been ready for quite a while and I’m pretty psyched for them to get some life and to be released. I’m thrilled. Then, I’m thinking about the next one. Just trying to get that next one lined up, get the momentum going.

Can you talk a little bit about the process behind the EP?

I went in with my friend Liz Lawrence who I did “Sons and Daughters” with way back when, and she also produced “Palms” which is on the album. I just love working with her, she’s a really good friend of mine. So we went in, and I wanted to...I wanted to do a little more electronic stuff this time. Push the dial a little bit further into the realm of electric guitar, and quite synth-heavy, reverb-heavy drums. Just to get that atmosphere. It’s not all totally like that, there’s a track on there called “Wild,” which is a bit more folky and guitar driven. But I was interested in getting that vibe done. So kind of early morning, nighttime vibes.

Taking that into the live sense, is there anyone you look up to as far as stage presence?

I just saw Bon Iver for the 6th time, and I’m not anywhere close to the amount of technology that he uses-- I saw him support Iron and Wine, and then I’ve seen him play every single album on every single tour, and it’s just kind of incredible the sheer amount of gear he has onstage now. And how he has managed to accumulate the really kind of organic, beautiful melodies that everyone loves about him with this like crazy,  I don’t know what’s going on, electric circus. I’m inspired by that. I’m kind of nervous to do live setup, I try to peel the layers away. I tend to think the less that can go wrong technologically speaking, the better. Which is why--it’s not crazy simple--but I’m comfortable with it. I haven’t been playing with a full band for that long, but now I’m really enjoying that.

What has been the biggest culture shock, either onstage or offstage when coming to America?

I’ve been to America a bunch of times and I think the biggest culture shock in terms of crowds is American crowds are so enthusiastic and lovely, and they wear their hearts on their sleeves. Crowds are great everywhere, not saying that American crowds are better, but my music is quite sentimental. I think that American audiences are quite sentimental as well. They’re happy to come up to me afterwards and talk about lyrics, and they’re really engaged, which is lovely.

Anything from just traveling around, that's a culture shock to you? 

I’m European, so I like to walk. But in America, if you walk you’re either crazy or an outcast, cause it’s a country built for cars. So Austin’s quite nice cause there’s a place you can amble about. And the food. The food is just crazy. I recently burst--it sounds very dramatic, but I burst a blood vessel in my chest, so I was coughing up blood. It happened three weeks ago and it was pretty horrible. If you’d seen me in a film, you’d be like that guy’s dead. So I can’t have rich food. So being in Texas...that’s a bit upsetting I can’t have spicy food.

Oh no! What’s your favorite food that you’ve had over here though?

I’m recently getting into the Mexican food. My wife has always loved Mexican food, and she worked in Mexico for a whole year, so I’m getting into tacos in a big way. But I now have to like check myself, cause I can’t have any hot sauce. I love hot sauce. 

 What else are you looking forward to while you’re at SXSW?

We’ve seen a couple shows--

 I saw you were at Shame earlier right? I was there too!

I did see Shame earlier, they were nuts! It’s just nice the sheer quantity of acts. I’m looking forward to seeing Jade Bird, she’s playing all over. She’s been quite pushed by the industry. I shared a bill with her once in Amsterdam, but I never met her. I’m keen to check her out. There’s so much to choose from. My manager just takes me from place to place and I just follow.

Any SXSW survival tips that you’ve picked up from your short time here?

Go to South Congress. Go across the bridge, get out of the central bit, and go to South Congress Avenue. It’s just lovely restaurants, lovely shops and it’s really beautiful. It’s quite chilled out and relaxed. And comfy shoes. That’s about it.

What else are you looking forward to the rest of tour? Any cities you’re looking forward to?

I’m playing Chicago on the 6th of May at The Beat Kitchen! The May tour-- I’m just doing SXSW and then coming back in May, and I’m just really excited to get to do a proper tour. We’ve been trying to do it for about 3 years. We have such a nice audience here, but it’s just trying to arrange the visas and the funding. Now for the first time, we’re in a position where we can do it, so I’m just excited to finally get it done and be to cities that I’ve never been to as well. To see Chicago and San Francisco as well, and hopefully soak up a bit of atmosphere between shows.

Yeah sometimes tour is so busy you can’t do anything besides go from show to show, so hopefully you get to explore a bit. 

We try to make a point to go and see something cultural, one thing at least.

Cool, and recently you released a live music video for “Moonlight.” How did that come together?

I love that way that a track can sound one way on a record and totally different live, so my friend Mary plays the cello in the live version, and it’s just amazing. So I wanted to have that counterpoint. We might release that on Spotify at some point this year as well.

Any other music video plans?

None yet, I find them really tough. I find music videos really hard. Just to get something good, cause there’s so many of them now. Unless you have a ton of money, it’s quite hard to get an ambitious idea across. I’ll do another live session for sure, but an actual music video, I haven’t done one for ages.

Do you find that you ever draw any inspiration from visual artists or anything visual (i.e films) that inspires your sound?

I don’t watch music videos any more, but a lot from films, just from cinema. That’s my big thing. For me, songwriting is you try to take a feeling, and then try to smash it and shape it and encapsulate it into a song, so whether you’ve seen a sculpture or a painting or a great film, you come out thinking oh wow I want to write a song about that. A lot of cinema does that for me.

Wrapping up, anything else besides the tour over here that you’re looking forward to this year?

I am looking forward to playing with my band again. I had a lot of fun with that, so I’m hoping to sort out more dates before the end of the year. 

Chicago, don't miss Allman Brown at Beat Kitchen on Sunday, May 6th. Grab tickets here, and check out the rest of his North American tour dates here. Get ready for the show by listening to the Bury My Heart EP in full below!

A Chat With: Chappell Roan

Hailing from Willard, Missouri, 19 year old singer-songwriter Chappell Roan possesses a raw, soulful voice and sings with a powerful sense of conviction that instantly hooks listeners. This past month, Roan hit the road with Declan McKenna, sharing her sweeping and personal narratives to audiences across the country. While out on the road, Roan took some time to chat about some of her newest music, touring with Declan, and what else is in the works for this year. Tune into our chat with Chappell Roan below! 

 Photo By Catie Laffoon

Photo By Catie Laffoon

What do you remember as your first musical memory?

I remember my mom getting me my first CD which was Pink Missundaztood, and I listened to it all the time. 

Who and what are some of your musical and non-musical (i.e film, literature) influences on your writing and vocal style?

Stevie Nicks and Caren Carpenter are my main vocal influences. When I was younger I would try to mimic their voices. Frida Kahlo is my favorite artist. I love the darkness and vulnerability of her paintings. 

 I’m loving your new song “School Nights” that you put out last week! What’s the story behind this track as far the writing and recording process?

"School Nights" is about the feeling of being young and staying up late on a school night when you know you should be asleep and the feeling of being in love for the first time. I wrote this when I was 17 and it was a time that I felt like I was growing up, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to stay 17. 

You’ve been steadily releasing songs recently, with “School Nights” coming a month after  “Bitter.” Can your fans expect a lot more music this year?

Yes! Right now I’m working on finishing up the album. I’m not sure exactly when, but sometime later this year. 

What has it been like sharing the stage with Declan McKenna on the current tour? Any favorite cities on the tour so far, or anywhere you’re looking forward to playing for the remainder of the tour?

This tour has been amazing. Declan and his band are so funny and nice and welcoming. They make this tour so much easier. I loved playing Lawrence, Kansas and Seattle because I had lost of friends and family at those shows. I’m very excited to play the Santa Ana show too, because I’ll get to see more friends there. 

Is there anyone whose stage presence you really admire that inspires you with your own stage presence and performance style?

Lady Gaga and Beyoncé really inspire me with their stage presence. They are both so confident and really own the stage and connect with the crowd so well. I hope to be like them one day. 

What’s your favorite way to stay entertained on the road between shows?

I like to do yoga, watch movies, read, and listen to podcasts in the hotel or van to pass the time on long drives. 

 What are some of your favorite new bands or favorite songs at the moment?

Beach House, Alt-J, London Grammar, and Sigrid are some artists I’m listening to now. 

What else is on the agenda for you in 2018?

As of right now, there isn’t much planned. I am very excited to go home and relax after this two month tour. We have done 41 shows and we only have 4 more to go. It’s bitter sweet, but I’m happy to go home! 

For all the latest news on Chappell Roan, make sure you're following her on Social Media:

Twitter // Facebook // Instagram



Get To Know: The Aces

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with some of Utah's finest talent, The Aces, in one of the lavish greenrooms at Chicago's historic House of Blues venue. Instantly, sisters Cristal and Alisa Ramirez, Katie Henderson, and McKenna Petty proved to be as welcoming and genuine offstage as they seem onstage, greeting me with hugs and offers of the Lou Malnati's pizza resting on their dressing room table. For anyone in the band's already large (and steadily increasing) fanbase, or anyone who follows The Aces on a social media platform, their warm personalities wouldn't come as a surprise at all. During their shows, lead singer Cristal Ramirez preaches positivity and keeps the entire crowd involved by charismatically working her way up and down the entire stage, while the rest of the band boast contagious smiles the whole show. One glance at their Twitter feed, there's no shortage of fan interaction happening there. One listen to "Lovin' Is Bible" from the group's upcoming album When My Heart Felt Volcanic, and it's clear the band have a mission of keeping love alive even in some of the most tumultuous times.

The Aces have already had a whirlwind of a year, embarking on their first ever tour only months ago, having since joined COIN on a nationwide tour and received endless positive feedback on recent singles. The band's steady success proves that you get back what you put out into the world, and their 2018 is set up to only get bigger and better with the approaching release date of their debut album. Before the album comes out April 6th via Red Bull Records, get to know The Aces a bit better with these five must-know facts. 

 Photo By Alexander Bortz

Photo By Alexander Bortz

They've Been Making Music For Over 10 Years

In addition to the infectious positivity that radiates from The Aces while they're onstage, there's an incredible sense of chemistry between all of the band members when they perform. Their natural chemistry comes from their years of knowing each other, growing up together, and making music together from a young age. The band traces back, or tries to trace back to their original moment of interest in music, with Alisa kicking off the conversation, saying, "Cristal and I always talk about this, we genuinely can’t pin down the exact moment that we started a band, just because we were so young--" Alisa's sister Cristal interjects to say that the two of them, as well as Katie, had musical families growing up. "Our older brother was always in metal and punk bands growing up. And that was really inspiring for me. I wanted to be him. Katie has older brothers, and Kenna has family in bands."

McKenna recalls when the band actually got serious, attributing the motivation to another musician. "We did have a time as a band, when we had already been doing the band for a while, and we decided this was the time to actually pursue it. I was probably 15, they were 17. It was the night that Lorde won all her Grammys," she said.  "I drove over to Cristal’s house and we all ended up there. We just knew we had to do it," Katie adds.

Prior to the switch flip where the band decided to focus on music, Cristal says the girls all had other interests as well. "We were all kind of teetering. I always knew I wanted to do music. They all kind of had a couple different interests. Katie’s an amazing athlete. [Mc]Kenna is super good with graphic design and Alisa was super studious at the time.  But basically, we just decided we have something too special to not have an actual go at a career. We didn’t want to let that go. We had been a band at the point for almost like 10 years. As we put our hearts into it and worked super hard, it kind of all turned out," she says.

Their Influences Range from Queen to The 1975

The Aces only embarked on their first ever tour towards the end of 2017 with Joywave, but despite their limited time playing to audiences across the country, the band all possess a completely captivating stage presence. They all give nods to other performers that inspire their live performances; Katie saying, "I have a lot of different inspirations. Some that aren’t even my role in the band. Someone who I think is so inspiring onstage is Freddie Mercury from Queen. I have a live DVD of them at Wembley Stadium that my dad used to watch all the time. I used to just sit there, and still today, I’ll watch it but [Freddie] just has such a power and control over the audience and he’s so fearless. You can tell that that’s where he’s most comfortable, and that’s so inspiring."

Alisa chimes in next, adding "I feel like honestly, for me, I don’t feel like there’s anyone that I mimic on stage. I feel like I just really genuinely try to dance as much as possible and have fun. Cause I just love doing it. But I think if there is a drummer that I really love, we went to a Twenty One Pilots' show a year ago. I honestly wasn’t very into Twenty One Pilots at the time, but when we went, it totally converted me. Josh was so dope. I love the way he performs. He’s amazing."

"I have a few, I try to really watch front-men and front-women," Cristal begins, before pausing to add "screw that term" about "front-women." "It’s just frontman," she continues, adding "Hailey Williams from Paramore is a huge one for me. I’ve always looked up to her for probably 10 years, since I was 13. Her... and then I really love feminine men onstage. Like Morrisey, Jonny Pierce from the Drums--" Katie interjects to suggest Matty Healy of The 1975 as another feminine frontman. "Matty Healy! I feel like I look at like Freddie Mercury, and Mick Jagger, and they’re really kind of feminine and cheeky, and I just love that," Cristal continues. 

McKenna rounds out the conversation, saying, "I think I’m kind of similar to Al, I don’t have one specific person that I look up to or try to mimic. But I think bassists get a rep for not really moving a lot, and not dancing. That’s something I’ve had, like people say 'oh, you dance so much!' That’s something that I want to do is dance and have fun, even if I am a bassist. I don’t know if that’s a stereotype or not. I love it when people are very free and dancing on stage so that’s what I try to do." If you've ever been to one of The Aces' shows, you know that bassists can indeed have fun too...thanks to McKenna. 

They Deliver Music The Same Way They Consume It

One trademark of The Aces that you might have noticed if you've been following them is the pattern in which they release music. Leading up to the album, the band has been drip-feeding a new song to their eager fans just about every two weeks. The band credits their team behind them with helping their true vision come to light, and that includes letting them release music the same way in which they consume it. "I feel like our first experience signing to a label and making a full length debut and touring for the first time, we’re just learning. The most beautiful thing about being with Red Bull is it’s a small team, so we’re very hands on. We have full creative control of everything, so we’re just learning every element of every single part of it. From making the record to marketing it, to every little detail. We’re literally just learning how to run our business. It’s been amazing honestly," Alisa says. 

"It’s very much about choosing the right people to be on your team. Who you let in to be close. Also who you want to work with. We’ve been building our team, like our manager and people at our label, and that’s been really awesome. We’ve always felt really good about Red Bull," McKenna says, and Alisa chimes back in to mention that the band didn't sign the first deal they were offered. They instead stuck it out until they found to right fit and the right team to carry out the band's plans and their visions. 

"I think that we are very just conscious of how people digest music now. And how we digest music. We still are holding back more than half the album. It will come out when the whole album comes out. We just really didn’t want to put out like one single and then drop the entire album. It’s better to feed fans in a way that they can digest. So they get one song and have it for a couple weeks. Then they get one more and have it for a couple weeks, and then they almost have half the album. Then six more songs doesn’t feel like that much more to really get into. I feel like sometimes when people throw albums out, just a 14 song album, people are like it’s overwhelming. It’s just in our day and age we don’t digest music like that. Just get them into it and ease them into it. I mean we’re a new--we’re not new cause we’ve been around a while in our hometown and stuff, but we’re a relatively new band. This is our first record. It was a very conscious decision on our part, and sitting with our label, being like how do we digest music? We’re 22 and 20," Cristal muses, touching on the way that they have decided to release new music. 

"We’re the age of our demographic," Katie adds. Being the age of their own demographic allows for The Aces to be that much more relatable.  "It’s just so fun to put a song out, get everyone really excited, then within two weeks later, they get something else. They’re kind of starting to catch on that it’s like this quick thing and we kind of took that example from other artists that did really quick, steady roll outs like that. And just how exciting it was from a fan perspective to get that. So we wanted to do that for our fans as well," Alisa says.

They're All About Leading By Action

Just like a lot of their demographic, the ladies of The Aces are very conscious of using their platform to promote safe spaces and a powerful message. They've already touched on the subject of being an all-female band and often getting pegged a "girl band" a few times," even retweeting a tweet sarcastically calling out the fact that all male groups are not usually seen as rare, but The Aces continue to encourage their female fans with leading by a great example. "We always say that it’s leading by action. You know, so we just do it every day. We just get up on stage and we do it every single night. And we have a lot of people come up to us and be like holy shit, you guys are a great band! And it’s not always--I think when we were younger it was a lot like 'Oh my gosh, you guys are such a great girl band! I’ve never seen all girls!' We really take a lot of pride in that. We love that we’re all women. That’s a strength of ours and we don’t see it as a weakness, but at the same time, we do want to push that we are just a band. Even though we are women and we are very proud of that. [We] just normalize it. Cause we want more women in the industry. We want more all girl bands. We love girl bands. We just wanna see more women," Cristal says. In addition to getting up onstage each night, the fact that Cristal paused after saying the term "frontwomen" to correct it to just "frontman" when talking about her stage presence inspiration, shows that she continuously works to push for gender equality in the entertainment world. 

The Aces also work to keep that same inspiring presence in their fans' lives offstage, by being interactive with fans online. "We kind of just want to set a good example. We always try to engage with our fans in a really positive way. If ever fans have come to use with a bullying situation or anything negative, we’re always there for them. We just try to spread positivity through our platform," Alisa says. 

Katie also adds that their single "Lovin' is Bible" touches on that positivity. "It’s okay to love each other through the differences. It’s not hard to agree to disagree. Love is the most important thing. Always." 

"No matter what you believe. And I think us four all have---we have different views on a lot of things. But we’re best friends and it doesn’t matter. It’s okay that we disagree on certain things. Everyone’s different and that’s a good thing. It’s not a bad thing. You should learn to respect other people and love them for who they are," Cristal adds. 

Some Of Their Random Slang Inspires Their Songs

Speaking of their track "Lovin Is Bible," the tune actually came together after the girls noticed some potential in one of their own slang terms. "We always just use the describe something as Bible," Alisa says. "Like, that shit's Bible," Cristal interjects.  "We were just being funny one night with our friends and we said that. And we were like that should be a song lyric, sarcastically almost. Then I remember I wrote it down in my notes, and then when Cristal and I went into a writing session, we were just like we really like that," Alisa continues. And the rest is history; Alisa and Cristal showed it to their producer and they decided to run with it from there. 

Although that single came together really naturally in an unexpected way, the band says their process varies drastically depending on the day. They do keep it natural and continuously bounce ideas around with each other, though. "I think we just write about a lot of things. The whole record is about tons of stuff. Just personal experiences. Like what it is to be a young adult and to be in your early 20s, and we’re going through a lot of stuff that a lot of people don’t go through. Like we’re traveling and touring all over. But also just exploring what it is to be young, and all those concepts are universal," Cristal says. 

"Every day is different. A lot of the songs we walked in day of, nothing in mind, just jammed out and let the day tell us what we were gonna write. Then there were other times when we came in and it’s like oh one of us might have had a voice memo fleshed out in our demos for melody, or we might have had a concept or poem written out. We’ve had a couple of songs where one of us has come in with a poem and gone off that. It’s just different every time," Alisa adds. 

The band also says they've learned a ton from the entire process behind their first album.  "We just learned so much about next time around. How we can make things more concise. Work a little smoother. I feel like the first time is always the learning process, and we’ve been working on this album for so long, and finally finishing up working on making it a concise, cohesive package has been such a process and journey. But it’s also been so amazing to discover our aesthetic and get to be creative that way," Katie says. 

You can hear for yourself all of The Aces' combined efforts in putting their debut record out by pre-ordering the upcoming album When My Heart Felt Volcanic from the band's website.

The Aces at HOB Chicago with COIN

There you have it! It's already been a busy year of live shows for The Aces, but there's plenty more chances to see them. Check out their upcoming tour dates here.

While you wait for The Aces to come to a city near you, keep up with them on social media:

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Pale Houses

Nashville's Pale Houses is gearing up to release their next EP, called Songs of the Isolation, on March 30th. The band has been teasing the six-song EP by slowly drip-feeding some of the tracks. Last month, Pale Houses announced their return with the lead single "The Ocean Bed," a building narrative with hazy guitars that was followed by "Hideaway" a couple of weeks later. This week, they've graced us with the third single "Who Will I Be For You?" to hold us over until the EP comes out next week. While you wait patiently for the second half of the EP, get to know Pale Houses a little bit better by checking out our Q&A. We chat everything from the band's beginnings, their hobbies, their favorite record shops and venues in Nashville, and the process behind the EP. Tune in now!

Starting off, how did the band all meet and come to be Pale Houses?

Aaron: Ryan and I were in a band in the early-mid 00’s called Imaginary Baseball League. We had a good run (and a few heated disagreements) and we eventually split. He and I stayed friends but did our own things in other musical projects. After I got really disillusioned with trying to be a solo artist in Nashville – seriously… don’t do it - we started communicating musically again mostly through email. It didn’t really take long for us to find a way to make music together again despite the fact that we were living several hours apart. I ran into our guitarist, Josh, who mentioned he’d be into playing with us. I was thrilled because his old band The Charter Oak was always one of my local favorites. Aaron Yung, our bassist, is a great multi-instrumentalist from the same music scene we all came up in, and he just so happens to be Ryan’s brother-in-law. It all came together really easily and it’s been a blast. It’s the best balance I’ve ever felt in a band in terms of how we communicate and what we all bring to the table.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about yourselves and as a band since you first started playing music together?

Ryan: Tough question. Since Aaron and I have been playing together since I was 19, lots has changed. We’ve gotten married and had kids. I think that's made the approach for this band a little different than the other bands I've been in. Before it was always about how to build momentum, tour more, and turn music into my whole identity, my whole life. This one isn't like that. I'd love this band to be successful because I'd love people to hear these songs, but I mostly am doing this simply because I love being a part of the music.

Aaron: I would add that given mine and Ryan’s history, I think it’s been important for us both to learn to pick our battles. Neither of us are control freaks in the traditional sense, but we do tend to try and steer the ships we are on, and I think that over many years we’ve found a way to co-pilot. We’ve always wanted and chased something really similar musically in terms of the sound and the end goals. Our egos are pretty tame at this point. Like Ryan said, we just want to play in this band and get our songs heard.

Who and what do you consider to be some of your strongest influences on your writing and on your stage presence?

Aaron: I’ve always been obsessed with the San Francisco bay area troubadours that emerged in the 80’s and 90’s, most notably Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon) and Mark Eitzel (American Music Club). They’ve written the best lyrics of the last 30 years or so, along with David Bazan. Melodically, my approach has always been a bit more pop, which explains my obsession with 80’s hits by people Bruce Hornsby, Suzanne Vega, and Cyndi Lauper. As for the stage, I grew up having this dream of being a songwriting front man who wasn’t saddled with an instrument and who could walk all over the place and get in folks’ faces like an evangelist or something. I never had that luxury, and over time I’ve become more interested in becoming more than just a functional guitarist. So I don’t really have a great handle on what my stage presence is these days. I love the guitar-playing front man though. Adam Granduciel is great. I love John Davis from Superdrag and I’ve recently gotten really into the late great Tommy Keene. Ryan, however, has always been like a really minimalist Animal from The Muppets. He used to have his foot hovering off the floor for like 40% of our set back in the old days. Age may have lowered that percentage a bit, but he’s still a spectacle. Josh and Aaron are just great musicians with a real quiet confidence.

What can you tell us about your new EP Songs Of Isolation? What was the writing and the recording process like?

Ryan: Since I live in Atlanta and the rest of the guys are in Nashville, practices are at a premium. That impacts the writing process. For most of our songs, Robinson will send out some kind of demo. Occasionally it's pretty full featured and close to a complete song with a lot of the lyrics figured out, but more often it's just an idea or a guitar line and a melody. We'll all listen to them and comment back with suggestions until the next time we get together to practice. When we do practice, we'll run the songs or work on the idea for a while, and then towards the end of practice we'll record it. Then between practices we have something to play along with and try out different ideas. For Songs Of The Isolation we had all the songs pretty well figured out before we went into the studio, with the exception of "Who Will I Be For You". Aaron had the song down, but most of the additional instrumentation we figured out in the studio. We recorded the base tracks in early 2017 and then did overdubs and mixed throughout the spring and early summer. For my part, I had the chance to do a cross country trip to a lot of the national parks this spring, and so was listening to mixes on the road and next to a campfire many nights. It was likely frustrating for the rest of the band because it would take me days to get back with any feedback since I wouldn't have cell service to download the mixes.

What’s your favorite song on the EP, and what’s the story behind it?

Aaron: Since our first EP was released, three of us have become parents for the first time. I’ve learned that can be simultaneously the most beautiful and most destabilizing experience. I think all my fears related to making sure this new person turns out better than I did were all dumped into “Who Will I Be For You?” I love that song because I’m just trying to honestly process all the self-doubt that comes with the innate desire to protect the innocence of your kid.

Ryan: When I was younger I would always ask my mom which kid was her favorite and I always got the same answer; "I love you both the same". Such a cop out. Nevertheless, I'm glad all these songs are on the record for different reasons:

1. The Ocean Bed: Aaron wrote a great song here, and I think we as a band each added parts that come together really nicely. I've listened to the earlier demo of this song and it's a great example of how a good song can become even better with the right treatment. It's also a lot of
fun to play.

2. Tenderfoot: This song came together in one legendary practice. We wrote three other songs in that same practice, but this one we figured out from start to finish, which is a rarity for us.

3. Who Will I Be For You: I've always loved this song, but I was a little worried about recording it since we didn't have much more than Aaron's guitar when we went into the studio. We'd tried a number of treatments to the song over the years and none of them were right. Building this song up in the went from one I was worried about to one of my favorite recordings we've done.

4. Ring Around The Moon: This is the oldest song on the record. So many things I like about it: the build of intensity, the shimmering guitars, the lack of snare drum. It's one where Aaron had a full demo before we started working on it, and I think we were true to the original vision, but also evolved it a little as we went.

5. Hideaway: I probably see the influences of what I've been listening to the last few years in this song more than any of the others. The drums are really fun to play. Plus, Aaron holds that last note out forever. It's superhuman! 

6. Olivia and Courage: Such a sad and beautiful song. Every time I start playing the ending I never want to stop, I want it to go on forever.

Who are some of your favorite fellow Nashville bands coming up at the moment?

Ryan: Yon Ort. I've known Eric Wilson for a long time and each time he reinvents himself he gets even better. Yon Ort is the best reincarnation yet.

Aaron: There are a lot of great established artists here that I still feel are up and coming on a national level. I love the really singular artistic visions of Tristen, Kyle Andrews, Dave Paulson, and Patrick Damphier (who recorded our first EP). Some really new artists that I think you could hear more about in time are Krista Glover’s project Fluorescent Half Dome and, like Ryan said, Yon Ort. Eric is stupid talented.

What about some of your other favorite parts of the music scene there, like favorite venues
or record shops?

Aaron: I just went to Grimey’s record shop today. For a long time, it’s been sort of the epicenter of the part of Nashville’s music culture that I love. The whole thing started as a DIY venture with the owner Mike Grimes opening up a little store and stocking it with his own record collection. Now, it’s one of the great record shops in the world and has helped to birth two great music venues, The Basement and The Basement East. I also really love The 5 Spot in East Nashville. It has the best local music-friendly bar vibe in town by a mile and the first place I take out-of-town visitors for a non-touristy true Nashville experience.

What are some of your other hobbies outside of playing music?

Aaron: Hah, nothing! Being a dad, maybe? I’m not paid for it, so I guess that makes it a hobby? I’m a volunteer semi-professional dad and I love it. Between music and jobs and dad-life, there is no time for hobbies. However, our bassist Aaron Yung is a great photographer and graphic designer and he helped with the artwork for the vinyl version of our EP and a couple of our single covers.

 Lastly, what else is on the agenda for Pale Houses this year?

Ryan: In addition to the EP and the Vinyl, we are working on a video or two for the songs off therecord. We also have a few shows planned in Nashville, and I'm sure we will be playing more throughout the year

You can pre-order a copy of Songs of the Isolation here, and keep up with Pale Houses on social media here.

A Chat With: Pretty City

Melbourne's Pretty City combines the sounds of your favorite Aussie psych rock bands with bits of Britpop and shoegaze influence. Next week, Pretty City will be bringing their unique sound all the way to SXSW to play songs off their upcoming album Cancel The Future. As they gear up to take on Austin, the band took some time to chat with us about their latest single "Flying," their festival and touring survival tips, what's next for them and more. Tune into our chat with Pretty City below!

 Photo courtesy of Pretty City

Photo courtesy of Pretty City

What can you tell us about the writing and recording process behind your new album Cancel The Future?

It's a really interesting journey behind the album. After a great SXSW in 2016 we came home and jumped straight in the studio. What we created we weren't 100 percent happy with. It was a very balls to the wall album and we kind of over-cooked the playing and lost something. We shelved the record for a while and began writing again. After some serious personal upheaval including relationship breakdowns, unemployment, illness, and some serious distress, our lead singer Hugh went into overdrive and basically wrote an entire new album. What we ended up with on this record is some older songs, and some brand new ones living cohesively together. I guess we decided to split the albums into themes rather than chronology. Hopefully people enjoy that aspect of it.

Where do you notice yourselves drawing influence from, both on your sound and on your stage presence?

Our influences are really diverse. Hugh draws a lot of influence from non-musical sources. He's really into architecture and listens to a lot of architecture podcasts. You can hear how well he structures songs, and I think that's a huge part of it. He kind of designs songs around feelings and has a great ear for melody. Johnny loves up-tempo anything. He's our energy machine and is really influenced by Australian bands like You Am I. Ken, our bass player grew up on punk and rock and roll, but is also heavily influenced by the Beatles, so he has a great mix of melody and energy. Myself, (Drew - drums), I'm a Pink Floyd tragic from way back, but also am really into classical music, funk and hard rock. So it's a pretty interesting mix where we kind of meet in the 90s sounds of the Smashing Pumpkins, Brian Jonestown Massacre and explore our influences from there. In terms of stage presence, we just get right into what we're doing and go with that. We don't consciously try and emulate anyone but we all love performers like Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Marc Bolan and David Bowie.

Speaking of stage presence, you’ll soon be over in America playing SXSW. How would you describe your show for anyone who hasn’t seen you?

Yeah, we're really excited to be heading back to Austin for SXSW, can't wait! I guess our shows can be summed up as fun, exciting, energetic, melodic psychedelic rock. Sometimes it gets heavy but there's light and shade. There's heaps of hair and usually cool jackets too.

What are you most looking forward to during your time in the US? Any other bands you’re hoping to see at SXSW?

I just can't wait to get back to Austin. It's such a great city and SXSW is really just like musician heaven. Music and ice cold beers! What's not to love about it?! In terms of bands, I'm really excited to see Girl Skin and Blonde Maze, both of whom are playing the Glamglare showcase with us. I've seen some clips of them and I can't wait check them out.

What are some of your music festival survival tips, or any essentials that you need for touring in general?

I think drinking plenty of water and sunscreen are my tips for surviving any festival. Having said that, it can be pretty hard to get enough sleep at SXSW, so I think there's a bit of an ethos of go hard then go home and collapse - haha.

In addition to SXSW, you also have an upcoming European tour...which cities are you most looking forward to playing in and visiting?

Yeah, we're off to Europe in mid April for our biggest tour yet. We're really excited to be playing all the cities we're headed to, but I think Hamburg, Vienna and Graz are the ones we're most looking forward to. They're wonderful cities and so full of culture and history. Can't wait. 

What are some other bands from Melbourne that we should be all be listening to now?

My favourite Melbourne band is called Destrends. They are incredible musicians and put on amazing shows, definitely check them out. A band called Plotz are also another favourite. They're heavily influenced by Radiohead, but make music in a more overtly psychy way. They have some amazing songs. Also a band called Moody Beaches. They're really fun, engaging and hooky psych/surf/punk rock. It's a winning combination.  

What else can we expect from Pretty City in 2018?

We're actually recording our 3rd album in Portland in March, so you can probably expect a single or two from that later in the year.

Keep up with Pretty City on Social Media below:

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Spiritual Cramp

Spiritual Cramp from The Bay Area recently took some time to chat with us while out on the road. The band has been garnering all sorts of buzz back home, and just recently  hit the stage at The Bottom Lounge with American Nightmare & No Warning, in honor of their Mass Hysteria EP. Their sound combines influence from some of our favorite genres of the past, while also exuding a refreshing sense of originality. Tune into our chat with the band below to get to know more about the band's beginnings, the process behind their EP, and what's next for them in 2018!

  Photo: Tom O'Connell

Photo: Tom O'Connell

First things first, what’s your backstory of how you all got into making music, and how did the band come together?

Mike Fenton (Bass) and I have been playing music together for close to ten years now. He's definitely someone I trust when making art so it was natural that we did this. I met our guitar player, Stewart, on the street in San Francisco, a little while back (October of '16) and we thought it would be cool to start a band. Max joined the band randomly when we asked him to play tambourine at a one off gig after we'd already started. Blaine and I have known each other for a long time playing in seperate bands but came together on this one. Jacob plays in a band called World Smasher and reached out after a gig together to say hello.. As far as how I got into making music, Its just something Im inclined to do.

Can you talk a little bit about the story behind your EP Mass Hysteria? Where did you record it, and what was the band’s writing process for those songs?

Yeah. We recorded on 19th in between Mission and Valencia in SF at Different Fur Studios. It’s a pretty legendary spot. Our friend Grace Coleman engineered and produced the session. She does a bunch of sick records from homies in the bay. Mike Fenton wrote all the tracks and I wrote the lyrics. Pretty straight forward.

Your sound is definitely reminiscent of the past, but who are some of your biggest musical influences from both the past and present?

There’s tons of people. Obviously people have been comparing us to the Clash and The Talking Heads and I think that’s pretty easy to see. When we play live I try to bring some hardcore vibes. Light shit up with heavy vibes for sure. Jonathan Richman is pretty funny to watch and I hate when people take themselves too seriously. I can't think of any contemporary bands I jock. Maybe the Templars or Rival Mob. I like that band Battle Ruins a lot too. Dude can sing. Pearse slays too.

As I understand it you’re getting a lot of buzz back home in the Bay Area. What are some insider secrets to the music scene there? Any other Bay Area bands or venues that we should all know about?

I think insider secrets that it seems like a lot of people don't know(shocking I know) : Don't be a weirdo creep. Don't burn/talk shit about your friends to people. Write hot tracks. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Be nice to people even when you can't gain anything from them. Don't do hard drugs around people you don't know it makes you act stupid.

What are you most looking forward to about your upcoming tour? Any cities that you’re most excited about playing?

Chillin with Wes at the Wythe Hotel in New York. Eating secret Chinese food with Adam Whites and Whammy Bar Willy.

Any teasers you can give about your set on this tour?

No teasers. 17 minutes of heaters to quench thirst and fill the void.

How do you guys usually stay entertained on the road?

I'm a graphic designer so I try to work from the road when I'm not feeling super burnt out (which is never). Our van on this tour has a Xbox 360 so playing some nba2k. Listening to music. Reading...etc etc

What else can we expect from Spiritual Cramp in 2018?

Doing a new 7" in May coming out on XXXXXged records. Going to south by southwest. Playing some fests. Trying to keep busy. Doing whatever comes our way.

Listen to Mass Hysteria in full, and keep up with Spiritual Cramp on Bandcamp here.

A Chat With: Mauno

Hailing from Novia Scotia, Mauno combines relaxed tones and soothing, harmonious vocals with melodies that'll keep you on your toes on their latest album Tuning. The sophomore record, which follows up 2016's Rough Master, threads 14 tracks together in one succinct package; each track existing in its own pocket, but working best when listened through in order. Following Tuning's October release date, Mauno are gearing up to hit the road next week, stopping by Chicago to play Schubas en route to SXSW. In advance of next Tuesday's show, we chatted with Nick Everett of the band to talk tour, SXSW, the process behind their record and more. Tune in below to our chat with Mauno!

 Photo By Levi Manchak

Photo By Levi Manchak

Starting off, how did you all meet and decide to form Mauno?

Eliza and I met in the spring of 2014 and quickly started play music together, she on cello and me on guitar. We both nerded out about our love of The Books, but then the music we started playing asked to be taken in anther direction entirely, no matter what we wanted it to be. We expanded the sound when we brought in a drummer, Eliza moved to bass, and then we did a much needed lineup change to be where we're at now with Adam and Scott on guitar and drums. They're good guys who've been playing together for almost decades with an s.

Can you talk a little bit about the process behind your album Tuning? What was the writing and recording process like for the band?

We just try to make the noises. We try not to think about what it sounds like, so much as what the sounds are and what they need to be, to be more themselves. We don't come at it from a musicological perspective, so the usual references don't jive. The balance is a lot more pop-oriented than Rough Master, much more carefully crafted (we recorded the whole thing twice), and a lot more cohesive. Rough Master was about conflict and the clash of opposing ideas, and this one is much more about talking through the problems that arise in any creative project and then working together to make a whole. I think it sounds a lot more mature, but then I've listened to it about 10 thousand fucking times so I don't know anything about it anymore.  

Who and what are some musical and non-musical influences that inspire your writing? What about influences on your stage presence?

Definitely the work of R. Murray Schafer changed my life (Nick) and relationship to sound over the past couple of years. I read Soundscapes and moving through the world has never quite been the same since. The title is a reference to the subtitle of that book (The Tuning of the World). The background of the record is full of soundscapes, pieces from around Halifax, from around the house we recorded in there, and a couple Eliza recorded in Heidelberg and Berlin while she was living there last summer. They are little pieces of the places we lived in that have had an enormous effect on our sonic understanding and our sonic relationship to our environments. The collage of soundscapes on the record encapsulates this theme, as well as displacement-- ideas of associating home with aural landscapes and the cyclical return to them. There's a whole second soundscape record buried in there somewhere.

Other than that, the world of Christopher Small, especially Musicking has been really influential in the way we've talked about playing together and our relationship with the other people in the room while we're playing. To not think of music as a thing in itself, as not actually existing, but rather a series of dance steps-- an action performed in a room-has been really liberating.

As for stage presence, we just try to listen and look like a group of people listening.

What do you hope that an audience takes away from your live show?

Our album?

Which cities on your upcoming tour are you looking forward to playing in and visiting the most?

I have no idea! We've never traveled or played in the states, so we have no expectations. Excited to be in Chicago! We've driven by it a few times on our way to western Canada. American cities hold a huge place in our imaginations for sure.

What are three things you have to have with you on tour?

Instant coffee, free wifi, extra strings.  

You guys will also be down at SXSW next month...what are some of your best music festival survival tips?

Oh my god, skip whatever you think you need to go to and go to bed instead. Take care of yourself -- you've only got one.  

Are there any other bands you’re hoping to catch a show from while you’re down at SXSW?

Yes definitely! Look Vibrant and Girl Ray and Fenster are good pals who rule.

What else is on the horizon for Mauno in 2018?

Making a new record and more horizons.

Mauno will be at Schubas on March 6th and the show is FREE. Check out details here and get ready for the show by listening to Tuning in full below!

A Chat With: Billy Raffoul

Singer-songwriter Billy Raffoul has been turning heads and garnering attention with his music that combines soulful and passionate vocals with a raw sense of storytelling. Inspired by his musical family, as well classic rock and timeless songwriters like Jeff Buckley and Neil Young, Raffoul puts a new twist on deep-rooted influences. This month, Raffoul has been out on the road with ZZ Ward, and he took some time to catch up with us in the midst of the six week run. For more on how his creative background and nomadic lifestyle influences his sound, what we can expect from his debut full length album, his take on the Nashville music scene and more, check out our chat with Billy Raffoul!


You’ve been out on the road with ZZ Ward for a few weeks now! How has the tour been going so far, and which cities are you looking forward to for the rest of the tour?

I'm really looking forward to the West Coast portion of this tour. It's been a while since I've performed in Seattle and Portland. Can't wait to get back out there.

What do you usually do to entertain yourself on the road? Any podcasts, shows, or books that are your go-to's?

The band and I are pretty balanced…whoever is driving controls the radio. Could be a Beatles record, an Eminem album, or a podcast. We're all over the place. 

While on the subject of traveling and tour, as I understand it, you now split time between Nashville and LA, but you grew up in Canada. Do you find yourself pulling influence from each of those cities when you're writing?

I feel like I am very influenced by where I come from, my family in southern Ontario and the people I grew up with. Los Angeles and Nashville however are very exciting cities and I am definitely inspired to create there as well. 

What are some of your favorite parts of the Nashville music scene at the moment, from the venues to other artists?

There is so many great local artists in Nashville that it is actually hard to keep track. Then you have legendary venues like the Ryman Auditorium, The smaller but characterful Basement, etc. I have been lucky enough to play these stages a couple times.

Circling back to your start in music, I know you grew up with your dad playing music for a living. What's the biggest lesson your dad has taught you about a career in music?

My dad has really taught me by example what it takes to have a career in music and support a family. He taught me to work hard at it everyday and continues to do so. 

I hear you're also working on a debut album at the moment. Any teasers you can give about some of the songs that will be on it?

I can tell you that some of these songs have been with me for years.. and maybe some I wrote yesterday. It's overused but sometimes you can honestly say your first album you have been working on your whole life.. It feels that way for me. 

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would you like to work with on a future project?

Dan Auerbach is somebody who's music I grew up listening to. I think he also calls Nashville home now. A bit of a pipe dream but I would love to work on something with him.

 In general, who are some of your favorite new artists at the moment, or albums you've had on repeat lately?

I've been listening to Jessie Reyez. Her Album Kiddo.

  What else can we expect from you in 2018?

Definitely new music and hopefully a lot of touring! 

There you have it! Keep up with Billy Raffoul on social media below, and check out the rest of his upcoming tour dates here!

Billy Raffoul: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Derrival

Vancouver's Derrival have steadily gained traction recently with their incredibly catchy singles like "Ice Cream" and "Ghosts of our Past." Last week, the buzzed about band released their self-titled debut full length, laden with dreamy and upbeat pop melodies and addictive hooks. In celebration of the album release, we chatted with the band to get to know more about them; from their influences to the stories behind their music videos and what we can expect from Derrival in 2018, tune in below!

 Derrival is Adam Mah, Glen Jackson, Dan Kozlowski, Deven Azevedo, and Shane Stephenson

Derrival is Adam Mah, Glen Jackson, Dan Kozlowski, Deven Azevedo, and Shane Stephenson

Congrats on your album coming out last week! How does it feel to finally have it out into the world? 

Thank you! It feels like this huge weight has been lifted off of us in a way. We’ve had it done and under wraps for so long that it’s exciting to finally share it with everyone and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, which is great. Every band only has so many albums and this is our debut so it’s a milestone for us. 

How was the process of writing and recording your debut? Any songs particularly that were your favorite to write or record? 

The process was different than our past recordings in a good way. In the past, most of our songs were jammed out in a traditional garage band sort of way. With this record we were very conscious of the sound we wanted to achieve, which was more polished and clean and pop forward. So I spent a lot of time working on skeletons of songs with Shane (keyboardist) in Ableton and then we would bring the ideas to the rest of the guys to create parts separately. One of my favourite songs on the record is Hollywood, Shane stuck this quote from Audrey Hepburn in the middle of the song that just fit perfectly so we had an actress friend of ours named Carmen who spoke the part overtop for us and she nailed it. 

I love that the album starts with a David Bowie quote. Besides Bowie and that quote, where else did you find yourself drawing influence from when writing the record, both musically and non-musically? 

I found myself drawing influence from other art I was consuming at the time, mostly films and books, many of which took place in the 1950’s/60’s and centered around old Hollywood. That’s why the record is so heavily immersed in it. I think a lot of people romanticize that time, myself included. 

I also love the duet with Sarah Jeffery on “Ghosts of our Past.” How did that opportunity come up to work with her, and how was it working with her?

A couple of us went to high school with Sarah for a bit and sung in choir with her. We needed some female vocals for some harmonies on a handful of songs from the album so I was looking through my Facebook friends list and she came up. We had her come in and she nailed all the harmonies. I was blown away and wished we had a song that featured her on the record but we were nearing the end of recording. Me and Shane wrote the basis for Ghosts of Our Past over the next couple days, sent it her way and then recorded it. Sarah has been amazing to work with, she’s so talented. 

The video for that track is also really great and cinematic. How involved are you in the concepts for your videos, and what’s the story behind this one?

I got inspired after writing the track and started thinking about music video concepts. I came up with a rough concept for the video and then we approached Nelson and Graham Talbot, who we’d also gone to high school with and they took the concept and fleshed it out. I was really excited and we weren’t sure if it was going to happen because Sarah was in the middle of shooting the X-Files but we did it over the course of a couple days. I think it’s my favorite video we’ve done so far. 

If you could collaborate with anyone else, who would you pick?

It’d be really cool to collaborate with Kimbra, she’s got such a unique sound and is an amazing writer. 

What are some of your favorite parts of the music scene in Vancouver? Any insider secrets you can give about the best venues and maybe the best local bands?

I feel like it’s a very tight-nit community in Vancouver, it’s like every band knows each other. One of our favourite local bands is We Are the City, we’ve been long-time fans and they’re always doing crazy/unique things. Check out the film Violent that they made if you haven’t yet. 

What are some albums you’ve had on repeat lately? 

I started digging into the new Son Lux record “Brighter Wounds”. It’s pretty great, also the Black Panther Soundtrack. 

 Do you have any plans to tour soon in support of the album?

We are in the midst of working on it as we speak! Our album release show in Vancouver is March 17th at the Biltmore Cabaret. 

What else do you have planned for 2018?

We’ll be playing JUNOFest in Vancouver, releasing more music videos and lots more. Stay tuned.

There you have it! Keep up with Derrival on social media, and listen to their self-titled debut LP below!

Derrival: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: The Safes

The Safes is the Chicago-based project of brothers Frankie, Patrick, and Michael O'Malley; who craft feel-good, irresistibly catchy rock'n'roll music with their band. Throughout their years as a band, The Safes have garnered attention not only around the city, but across the nation, recently touring extensively in support of 2017's album Tasty Waves. Their reach has now gone as far as Japan, where The Safes will be heading this week for the first time to partake in a 5-day tour. Before the band takes off on the long haul to Japan, get to know them a bit better as they talk the process behind Tasty Waves, tour highlights, and what's next for them! 

 Photo Courtesy of The Safes

Photo Courtesy of The Safes

ANCHR Magazine: What was your first musical memory growing up, and when did you know you wanted to play music?

Frankie O’Malley: My first musical memory?  Hmmm.... that is a tough one!  I do remember being mesmerized a number of times at an unbelievably young age by hearing live music at Irish ceili's, my Dad playing the the accordian in our house and my Mom listening to music all the time!    As for playing music that's a funny story, I grew up in a house full of musical instruments, guitars, drums, bass, piano etc.... but it wasn't until a grade-school friend got a guitar for his birthday that I started to play and then we started a band.

AM: Can you talk a little bit about the process behind your latest album Tasty Waves? Where did you record it, and what was like writing process like?

Frankie O’Malley: Well, we recording the basic tracks and vocals at IV Labs in Chicago with our good friend and highly respected record producer Brian Deck.  Knocked out the whole thing in two days with the help of our bassist Curt Schmelz and drummer Dexter Fontaine.  Then Patrick and I took it home to StudiO’Malley for all the electric guitars, keyboards, precussions, backing vocals and mixing! Then to Brian Deck’s home studio for a day of final mix tweaks.

The writing process, well when it comes to songwriting I’m always writing and had 9 complete songs that Patrick really wanted to put together for this release.  He made a playlist of my demos and played it for me and told me to finish another song I had only lyrics for but I couldn’t come up with anything.  So Patrick took my lyrics and wrote all the music for “Streets and Sanitation”.  It’s the best song on the record; thanks Patrick!

AM: Where do you see some of the biggest differences and development in your sound on this album, compared to 2014’s Record Heat?

Frankie O’Malley: Tasty Waves is The Safes first album that all the rhythm guitars are acoustic and this was just an organic coincidence as we were going for the sound of my personal recordings; when I record,  I don’t fuss over things like tuning, timing, quality of takes it’s just getting the ideas out of my head.  So I will play an acoustic guitar and sing, then do the drums, then the bass etc.   On previous records, we’d learn the songs as a band and play them out live a bunch; however, that was not the case with this album.  Patrick set out to capture something he heard in those recordings when he was producing Tasty Waves and he not only captured that but he improved upon it!

AM: You went out on the road for about 3 months in support of Tasty Waves...what were some highlights of the tour, including favorite new cities or the best shows?

Frankie O’Malley: Every night of tour is my favorite!  Each night: a new city, new friends and fans, new adventures! And memories beyond dreams, no way I could pick just one!  All 3 months!

AM: Speaking of touring, you mentioned you’ll be heading to Japan this month for a 5-show run. What are you most looking forward to during your time out there?

Frankie O’Malley: Well I’ve never been to Japan, so I’m looking forward to this new adventure! Seeing all the beauty and wonder that Japan and its people have to offer! Patrick and Curt have been there before.  But this will be the first time any of us are there to play rock n roll shows every night! So I think it’s just going to blow my mind!

AM: Besides Japan, what cities and countries are on your bucket list to perform in as a band?

Frankie O’Malley: Well, The Safes are immortal vampires, so we have no bucket list!  But we do look forward to playing all the cities and countries on all the planets of this solar system and if we’re lucky beyond!

AM: Circling back to the local scene, what are some of your favorite aspects of Chicago's music scene? Who are some of your favorite bands and venues in the city?

Frankie O’Malley: Chicago is #1.  There is a seemingly unending list of amazing bands here in Chicago it’s unfair to mention any in the event of leaving one out!    Same goes for venues, record stores, media outlets that still cover local music, radio stations that still play local music! And most importantly the people of Chicago who support live music!

AM: What else are your goals as a band for 2018?

Frankie O’Malley: We have some cool recording projects on the horizon!  Other than that, continue as always, writing, recording, playing live, making videos, just keep having fun being The Safes!

 The Safes Japanese Tour Poster

The Safes Japanese Tour Poster

Keep up with The Safes on social media below, and listen to Tasty Waves in full below!

The Safes: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Girl Ray

The North London based trio Girl Ray, featuring Poppy Hankin, Iris McConnell, and Sophie Moss, has caught the attention of many since forming in 2015. Just last year, the band released their debut album Earl Grey, which boasts bright guitar melodies, soothing harmonies, and thoughtful lyrics that are quick to win anyone over. This week, the group will be embarking on a nearly two month venture to North America to perform their record to a new audience. In addition to making their SXSW debut, Girl Ray will support Porches on tour across the country, including a stop at Thalia Hall on February 21st. Before the tour rolls through Chicago, we had a quick Q&A with the band's bassist, Sophie Moss. Get to know the band a little bit better before they take over in 2018 by checking out our chat with Girl Ray now!

  Photo by Neil Thomson

 Photo by Neil Thomson

ANCHR Magazine: What do you remember as your first musical memory growing up, and what brought you all together to make music?

Girl Ray: Watching Lilo and Stitch when Lilo's sister comes in through the catflap and "Heartbreak Hotel" is playing. I wanted to be Lilo and she looked really zen and sassy. Combination of cartoon jealousy and Elvis' tones got me going and had to keep rewinding. I for one know that's why I'm in a band.

AM: Since your debut album Earl Grey came out in August last year, what have been some career highlights or favorite gigs you've play?

GR: We played a London venue called Scala which was really surreal. It's really big and people showing up and being enthusiastic felt like a massive prank.

AM: Speaking of gigs, you’ll be over in The States later this month touring with Porches. What cities are you most looking forward to visiting and playing in?

GR:  !!!!!!! For the shows: Chicago, Atlanta and NYC!  Really want to see the bat colony under Congress Avenue Bridge when we go to South By. Quite like bats but think it might be the wrong time of year. Big Sur! Joshua Tree! Griffith Observatory. Abe Lincoln's stony white head.

AM: What can we expect from your set on this tour, and are there any songs from your album that are your favorite to play live?

GR: Some smiles. My personal fave is "A Few Months." We like to change it up at the end and it's fun to play something a bit new every night. 

AM: Lastly, since your album is called Earl Grey, how would you describe your sound as a cup of tea metaphor?

GR: Smooth and good milk ratio for the most part. Not a tea you would tell your pen pal about, but maybe a tea you'd have again. Then a bit freaky at times - like finding a soft mouse inside, but it comes out the mug, touches your heart for a few seconds, and gets on with its day. Towards the end you're not seeing dregs. A nice surprise.

There you have it! Grab your tickets to see Girl Ray and Porches at Thalia Hall here, and get ready for the show by listening to Earl Grey in full below.

For Fans Of: The Big Moon, Tennis, Mitski

Get To Know: Jordanna

Chicago based singer-songwriter Hayley Jordanna, better known simply by her last name Jordanna, is on the brink of releasing her debut sultry and soulful solo EP, Sweet Tooth (say that five times fast...) After moving to Chicago to study Music Business at Columbia College, Jordanna first dipped her toes into the local music scene by fronting the politically-driven rock band Glamour Hotline. Now, she has branched out and dived into completely new sonic territory, focusing on more personal topics in her songwriting. Before Jordanna unleashes this brave and refreshing new material next week and before her massive EP release show (appropriately deemed Candyland), I caught up with her to talk all about her past and present. From her first memories of music to her goals for the year, here are six things you need to know to get acqauinted with Jordanna. 

 Photos By Juliet Cangelosi 

Photos By Juliet Cangelosi 

Ballet Got Her into Music at a Young Age

Jordanna says she remembers being invested in music from a very early age, but it wasn't actually playing music that got her started.  "I would say my first music memory is actually not me singing, but I grew up as a dancer. I was in a pre-professional ballet company as a child. So my first memory is very movement based. I feel like I was born with the rhythm, and I have all these classic music memories lined up from a very early age," Jordanna recalls. "The reason I started playing music was because I’m like 5 foot 0 and a very curvy woman, which was not acceptable in the ballet world, so it was a very natural transition from moving to music to making the music that other people can move to," she continued. 

As far as her first song she wrote, Jordanna says, "My first song I wrote after my great grandmother passed. It’s not even real chords, it’s just like me figuring out how to play guitar with two fingers probably. I was 13 when I wrote that song, and it’s like the most depressing song to touch the earth." 

Much Like The Chicago Music Scene, Her Project is Collaborative 

It's been a few months since she released her debut single "Lucky For You," but lucky for us (get it??), we won't have to wait long until her debut EP drops. Detailing the recording process behind her EP, Jordanna says it was a very collaborative project. "We recorded at Audiotree, with a producer named Brok Mende.  He’s one of their main engineers. I met him because I was on a song with Mykele Deville. I was featured on one of Mykele’s tracks and I recorded with Brok, and I definitely fell in love with his technique for recording. He is very...he will give his opinion. He will tell you if it is not sounding too hot, or if I’m in my head. It’s important for me to work with someone so honest and good at what he does. He’s also just the kindest person. In the music industry it’s hard to find that. In the studio especially."

After finding her engineer soulmate at Audiotree by collaborating with Mykele Deville, Jordanna also found the perfect balance with a backing band. "I work with a backup band on this album, these guys in their own band called 8:33. They play backup for me and they also play for me live" she says. The collaborations don't end there though! "I brought in a girl named Grace Kinter to do some backup vocals. It was very collaborative. Just the most beautiful process. I’m so proud of this music and all the people who worked on it are incredibly talented at what they do, and I feel blessed. And we got this guy Joe Meland on keys. It was crazy...he had never played with us before, he was just a friend of Brok’s. He was like, you should just ask him to come in. He came in and just played perfectly on every single track. We were all just like who is this guy?! He only needed to be in the studio for like 20 minutes. He did the entire album in 20 minutes and walked out," Jordanna added. 

She's All About Repping Non-Binary and Female Artists

While on the subject of collaboration, Jordanna reflected more on the community here in Chicago, saying, "It’s the most collaborative city. I don’t even know why...maybe because we’re not New York and LA and we have to help each other. It’s super collaborative and a good place for innovation. I’ve seen a lot of people do things I haven’t seen anywhere else. The collectives and DIY venues...the network is insane." She also shouts out some of her favorite spaces to play, who go out of their way to be an inclusive community. "In addition to how collaborative it is, what impresses me in the DIY scene specifically is the opportunity to create safe and diverse spaces. The Dojo in Pilsen is like the most inclusive space, as well as a place called AMFM Gallery. They’re both in Pilsen. They’re amazing and all run by young artists in Chicago who want to make spaces more collaborative and inclusive as far as race, gender, religion and all of that. I’m blessed to be a part of a scene that is inclusive and creates space for some many different kinds of people because--I think this was a problem in the punk scene, and that it was very white washed," she says. 

For Jordanna's release show and party on February 17th, she's done an incredible job on not only booking artists of all artistic mediums, but representing artists of all different backgrounds. You can check out the full line up here, but Jordanna has also prepared a spotlight of everyone involved. Catch a glimpse of those on the official event Instagram, or head to this part of the site. "There’s a lot of fusion happening [in the Chicago scene]. I will definitely be taking part in all of that, like with the show I’m organizing in February. It’s become way larger because I can’t contain my enthusiasm. It is certainly very diverse. We’re pulling musicians, installation artists...I’m trying to get poetry and all sorts of things," Jordanna said about the show, before the lineup had been officially announced. Needless to say, the lineup has held up to her teasers. 

  Poster Designed By  Alex Lukawski

 Poster Designed By Alex Lukawski

Her New Material is Some of Her Most Vulnerable

Jordanna touched more on her transition into a solo artist path, following the success of Glamour Hotline. "Glamour Hotline is no longer. We’re still all best friends so it’s fine. It was a natural transition. That was a very radical, feminist movement part of my life. It was not built to be sustainable for longer than two years. It was a lot of emotional stress to make that kind of music, and performing that music a lot. Now I’ve transitioned into this solo, R&B world that allows me to be vulnerable and still have power but not so aggressive," she explains.

She talks more about the energy and power shift behind the new project, adding, "Glamour Hotline was very easy to hide in like being angry. I was able to be like 'don’t touch me'...'I don’t need anybody'...'I’m strong by myself'... 'don’t talk to me!' All these things...and I mean that’s just not a sustainable way to live. The way I am with my art, it consumes me. It’s everything I am. So it was so unhealthy. I was cutting myself off from people. I was like this is who I am, that’s it. When it ended I was like, Oh shit. Who am I?? It was this period of just being lost and being forced to find myself. It was just facing reality. I was dealing with some weird relationship things. And mental things. I was like well I guess this is what I’m gonna write about now. And it was about heart break and being lonely. Before I would write about being lonely like GOOD. And I needed to finally admit, I can be sad and still be powerful. There can still be strength and power in sadness. And owning it. Just being honest with yourself and other people." 

Eventually, Jordanna started playing solo shows when she came to terms with her new realization that she could be vulnerable and powerful. "The first couple months [the shows were] very much performance art. I would use a looper pedal and involve the audience. Asking them to answer questions. That was how Jordanna started. It was performance art and a form of therapy. Very emotional. Then as I started to do that, I started getting stronger and owning that vulnerability and being proud of it. That’s when I started bringing in a full band to back me up. I was like, this is powerful. It moves people," she says. 

In being more vulnerable, Jordanna also started writing more sexy songs, she says. "There’s a song called 'Sugar,'  which is the opening track on the EP and it’s very like ok, let’s go...what’s good?! It’s just very seductive and I remember the first time I played that live, watching people look into my soul. Like oh my god, they’re seeing everything. But it’s so liberating to be like we all love having sex and going on dates and being cute...So in a way I feel like my evolution of music in Chicago has maintained a political aspect in it. Even though the music I play now is maybe more 'commercial' or more accessible to a larger audience. It’s still putting people in a place where it’s like this queer woman is talking about sex openly and invitingly and I can feel hot too. And abandoning, for the moment while you’re listening to my EP, you can abandon your anger. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be angry. Because especially right now there’s so many reasons to be angry. Like I’m furious, but the moments where I play my music, that’s an opportunity for us to feel empowered. Then take that empowerment and use it for political change afterwards," Jordanna mused.

As far as other powerful artists who influenced this sexy, soulful sound of hers? "Amy Winehouse was a big influence when I was growing up first writing music. A lot of my music is based on her work. Her...classics like Etta James were really important to me. Contemporary R&B artists like D’Angelo are really important. Even like The Internet, SZA, Kali Uchis...all of these people," she says. 

She Believes in Investing in Her Work

One thing I immediately noticed when I was first introduced to Jordanna was how together she seemed, despite having only one single out under her solo project. She has this incredible brand already worked out, and that's something that many artists tend to overlook, especially in the early stages. Jordanna credits her education at Columbia College for inspiring her investment in her art. "To be honest, I am one of Columbia’s biggest advocates. I know people hate on it. Cause it’s art school. I majored in music business, and I genuinely feel like I use my degree. I swear I use my degree every single day. It was super important to me as far as registering my music online and all that," she says.

However, one teacher in particular, left a lasting impression...Chances are if you majored in music business at Columbia, you (like Jordanna) had at least one class with Bob DiFazio. "The first class I had with [Bob]---I did a bunch of business courses with him and one that was more technology based. The one thing he said that I literally can picture him saying and writing it down in my laptop--he said 'If you wanna be successful, you have to invest in your art.' Cause that was so against everything I believed at the time. I was like 'DIY! You don’t need it!' But if you really care about your work at the end of the day, you have to invest," Jordanna recalled. "Those words have really driven me. I still think about it when I’m poor as hell and panicking about rent. It’s like oh, maybe cause I’m spending a lot of time working on my music. But it’s worth it. It’s gotten me where I am, and it’s gonna get me where I want to go. So to anyone who reads this who is struggling, it’s all worth it," she continued. 

Jordanna has applied this principle to her album release, going all out with Candyland. "Sweet Tooth is the name of the EP, so [the event is] called Candyland. I think part of what has kept my Chicago music career going so far is that you need to act like you have it more together than you really do. Part of that is having an official website. Having a brand. Fake it till you make it!"



I needed to finally admit, I can be sad and still be powerful. There can still be strength and power in sadness.
— Jordanna on the vulnerability of her recent songwriting

Her Idols Also Inspire Her Marketing

In addition to investing in her work, Jordanna said she's also studied her idols in order to strategically market herself. "As far as my visual brand, studying your idols helps," she says. Continuing on, Jordanna adds, "It’s all about the Gram[Instagram]! I actually more so studied--this is dumb--but brands like Supreme, and Vans, and looking at brands that people just follow to look at. At the end of the day, people are just following you to look at you. So following streetwear brands, all of their social media is on point."

Jordanna also gives a nod to some of her favorite local influencers. "Stitch Gawd [who will be a part of Candyland] is this girl who does cross stitch fashion for a lot of hip hop artists. Her Instagram is really good. There’s this guy JoeFreshGoods. He’s a local fashion designer. He’s really good," she says, also adding Jovan Landry, Oliv Blu, and Drea The Vibe Dealer as some of her favorite local musicians and artists. "They’re all amazing people as well. I could list some amazing artists that I love right now. But then you meet them and it’s a bummer. Like just making other people feel inferior... I don’t like that. We’re all trying," Jordanna concludes. 

Much like the artists she shouted out, Jordanna is also an amazing person. So come out and support a great artist and human at her incredible show on Saturday, February 17th...get your tickets to Candyland here.  Follow Jordanna on all her social media platforms below for updates, and get pumped for her EP by revisiting "Lucky For You."

Jordanna: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram


A Chat With: BANNERS

Liverpool bred singer-songwriter and musician Michael Joseph Nelson, AKA BANNERS, boasts an impressively dynamic catalog. From sweeping, cinematic choruses, addictive melodies, and goosebump-inducing falsettos, his music carries it all. Music has been a huge part of Nelson's life for a long time, from his musically-inclined family to his participation in the Liverpool Cathedral Choir, his work as BANNERS has been a long time coming. We recently caught up with the life-long musician to chat about his latest EP Empires On Fire, his writing process, his upcoming appearances at some major festivals, and what else we can expect from him this year. Keep reading and get to know BANNERS now!

 Photo courtesy of BANNERS

Photo courtesy of BANNERS

ANCHR Magazine: As I understand it, you come from a musical family and your dad has even worked with Coldplay! What was your first memory of wanting to play music yourself when you were younger?

BANNERS: I don’t ever remember it being a decision really. Just something I was always going to do. That sounds like a cliche but I think that’s how it works. There’s so many ups and downs to a career in music that I think you need that certainty, the lows would be unbearable otherwise. I grew up with music everywhere, my mum plays loads of instruments, my Dad is a record producer and I sang in choirs from a really young age. Music just gets in you until it’s just the thing you do. I remember going to see my Dad in the studio and him showing me how the desk worked, how you could isolate a vocal or bring a guitar up in a mix and it totally blowing my mind. I’ve always been fascinated by recording studios. The idea of spending a day recording and by the end of the day a thing that didn’t exist before now does. I always thought that was magical. Still do!

AM: Can you talk a little bit about the writing and recording process for your Empires on Fire EP? Do you have any specific musical or non-musical influences that you saw pull through in your writing for this project, or that you felt inspired the songs?

BANNERS: Well the different parts came together over quite a long period of time. The title track “Empires on Fire” has been done for about a year and a half. Which has been good because in that time I’ve been able to play it live and test it out on audiences. You really start to get a good understanding of the song that way I think. Then when it comes to mixing it you’ve got a much clearer vision of how it should sound. I really like that song so i’m really happy that people can finally hear it! I wrote “Someone to You” with a friend of mine called Sam Hollander. I’d been in LA doing a month of writing sessions with people. The session with Sam was the very last session before I flew back to Toronto and we wrote the best song of the whole lot. It’s always a massive relief when you get something good. Writing can be so hit and miss and when you’ve got a record label waiting to hear new songs there’s a lot of pressure.

AM: You’re from Liverpool, but currently live in Toronto, right? What are some of your favorite aspects of each city, and do you think both locations have influenced your songwriting and sound in a way?

BANNERS: Yeah I live in Toronto but Liverpool will always be home. Liverpool is a city with a real sense of itself, of it’s own identity. It’s confident and defiant. It has that mix of people and cultures that only port cities can really have. I wouldn’t want to be from anywhere else in the world. And of course that informs you’re writing. Loads of my songs are about the sea! Really, your influences are a culmination of every experience you’ve ever had and nearly all of my life so far was spent in Liverpool. Toronto is great too and I’m so fortunate to have ended up here. It’s been so supportive of me and my music. Canadians are naturally quite self deprecating so they’d never admit it but Toronto has a claim to be one of the great music cities in North America, there’s so much great music being made here by so many talented people that it can’t help but rub off on you.

AM: In general do you have any sort of rituals or habits that you use to get into a songwriting flow?

BANNERS: I think it’s just a case of doing it regularly. It’s like a muscle, the more you work it the stronger it becomes. If you take a break from it, like if you go on tour or something, when you get back you feel really rusty. I like writing with other people that I trust and being totally open to their input. It’s easy to get stuck in your own little rut with songwriting so writing with other people keeps things fresh.

AM: I hear you’re big into football/soccer! Any other hobbies or interests of yours that your fans might be surprised about?

BANNERS: Liverpool Football Club are my darlings. I spend too much time agonising over those lads. Honestly their ability to shape how I feel for an entire week after a match is horrifying. I read a lot (god, so pretentious). Music is one of those professions where it can be really hard to give your brain a break. I suppose all creative endeavours are like that. You’re always thinking of melodies or lyrics, or stressing over a release or whatever, so I find reading a really good way to relax. I just finished “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac for the millionth time so I’m not sure what to start next. 1984 might be a good fit for the Orwellian nightmare we all seem to be inhabiting.

AM: Who are some of your favorite up and coming bands at the moment, or albums that you’ve had on repeat lately?

BANNERS: I’m heading out on tour soon and I’ve invested some money in some stage production stuff. I’ve spent the last few months programming lights so i’ve been watching a lot of live sets for inspiration. These are in no way up and coming but I’ve been watching a lot of Bon Iver live, there’s one gig on Youtube (I think it’s in Cork in Ireland if anyone wants to check it out) that I’ve honestly watched every day for the last month). I’ve been listening to The National a lot recently I’m a bit late to the party but I’ve really gotten into War on Drugs. The band, not the disastrous foreign policy.

AM: This year you’ll be performing at Firefly Festival and Hangout Fest, and the lineups are insane! Are you already planning any special surprises for your sets at the festivals?

BANNERS: Haha! Surprises? Like what? No, I’m just going to try to play my songs to the best of my ability. Maybe that’s a surprise. It doesn’t bode well for my general reputation if it is!

AM: Who else on the Firefly and Hangout lineups are you hoping you get the chance to watch?

BANNERS: I’m looking forward to seeing Arctic Monkeys, I believe they haven’t played live since 2014 so it’d be good to see what those lads have been up to. Man, I love festivals. They’re so much fun to play and then you get to hang out with loads of people that really like music. They’re a great opportunity to watch how other singers do it, how they act on stage and how other bands put their shows together. And then steal all the best ideas and pretend you came up with them!

AM: Besides the festivals, what are your tour plans this year?

BANNERS: I’ll be touring North America in the spring and then I’ll be announcing more stuff throughout the year.

AM: Any other goals for 2018?

BANNERS: Oh man, I just want to get to the end of it without the world imploding. Honestly I just want to get better and singing and playing and writing. Hopefully release a bunch more music and play live to a load more people!

Keep up with BANNERS on social media and listen to Empires on Fire in full below!

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Track by Track with Tenderfoot

Yesterday, the bi-coastal four piece, Tenderfoot, who hail from Seattle and Brooklyn, put out their debut full length record. In celebration of their dream-folk album Break Apart, lead vocalist Adam Kendall Woods put together a track by track, detailing the story and process behind each song on the record. Hit play on each track and read what Woods has to say about them all below!

 Photo By Noah Fecks

Photo By Noah Fecks

Break Apart

Break Apart starts with a heart-beating pulse of keys. Originally a quiet, slow song I penned quickly in a moment of emotional upheaval, Break Apart was fleshed out over a few months and eventually speeds up in the outro. This song is the cornerstone of the album. I think a song is “good” when it teaches you something about yourself while creating it. What started out as a break-up song became a slow realization that to ‘break apart’ is what we all do. It’s what will happen to every single bond, thought, job, relationship, joy, and part of your body. Life becomes one long hello blurring into one long goodbye. And that’s how the song ends, with the repetition of the word “goodbye”. We thought it was important to start the album with a song that succinctly said, “Hello, I am here, I am feeling pain after so much pleasure, and so are you, now it is time to say goodbye”. The rest of the album fleshes out this experience in more detail.

32 Years

I wrote this song a week before my 32nd birthday. The song is about the slow road to getting to know yourself, and looking back at the touchstones that changed you while acknowledging that “the sculpture of your face has changed”. As a queer man, I was very buttoned-up and conservative in love and pleasure in my twenties. After I turned 30, my feelings towards sex and love and abundance started to open up for the better. I was more experimental with my relationships, but still nostalgic for my past. I think that’s part of life: hovering over all of your past selves and feeling everything over and over. Being haunted by those feelings. Having the desire to reach down and move the selves of your past around for the better, while also trying to be “perfect” in your current life. I am slowly learning to let go and allow myself to be a vessel for what the universe has to offer, and know wholeheartedly that’s it’s a lot more than you think you deserve. The song ends in that realization of abundance, a release from the militaristic drum beat pervasive since the song’s beginning.

Give It A Rest

When I lived on the road for a year with my partner, we were traveling in a VW Rabbit pickup truck. Though adorable, and great on gas, it was over 30 years old and prone to break-downs and overheating. We would know there was about to be a problem because the air would get hot in the cab, and the gas pedal would push back against your foot. We were towing a vintage camper trailer behind us, and our truck really wasn’t keen on that. So, we would pull over on the side of the road and give it a rest. As my partner and I’s relationship started to deteriorate towards the end of our trip, it became clear to me the truck was a metaphor for us. In San Francisco, we decided to part ways and he headed back to our old home of Ann Arbor, MI. I kept the truck in the city for a while, but as most folks know, that city literally eats vehicles for breakfast, and I had to let it go. A few years later, I got to further explore the extended metaphor of the truck through this song. Give It A Rest rolls along in a repetitive and entwined way, with the drums building the mountain roads we travelled over. The keys are restrained here and offer little solace. Darcey Zoller’s cello really cuts in this song, becomes an emotional knife, and a second voice for me to tangle with. We worked on how our parts would interact for many sessions, looking to some of the obsessive tangles Philip Glass composed for strings in The Hours for inspiration.

Getting There

Getting There started as a stoned collaboration between myself and Gabriel Molinaro, our keyboard player. I asked him if he had ever listened to Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” and he had not. We listened to it together in our practice space and then started composing a melody inspired by the electronic flute pieces that flutter in and out in a repetitive and clinical way. From there we jammed and created all sorts of interlocking melodies that we gave to Darcey for inspiration for her cello pieces. It all came alive when Jude brought in her thunderous drums. Her intuition for rhythm is impeccable, and once we had that backbone to stick things to, everything fell into place. But what the fuck was it? We had never written a song like this before. We expanded it, we tailored it, we ran it over and over again. The song is a soaring landscape, an experimental and jazzy piece, with rivers of cello that flow in and out. After the piece was composed, I wrote a short abstract poem based on the work of multimedia artist Erin Frost and laid it over the song. This is my favorite piece to play live, because we all have to watch each other intensely for our dynamic cues. I usually end up with my back fully to the stage, since I don’t have much to sing, and it feels like we’re in our practice space, just with people watching.

Semiprecious Life

A few years ago I lived in an apartment above Eric Anderson, better known as Cataldo. He had a big house party one night and invited me down to have a few drinks. After a couple beers and some intense conversations, I started to have an existential moment that I needed to document immediately. I pulled out my journal and wrote more than half of the lyrics to Semiprecious Life right there in his house. “The salt in your wound, it feels so good” pretty much summed up my life back then. I live with depression and anxiety, and back then I didn’t address it. I take medication now and have an awesome therapist, but back then I would dwell on the saddest moments of life in a very intense way. I wouldn’t leave my room for days at a time. Those days can sometimes be great for songwriting, but when they stack up to you not being able to live your life, it’s time to get some help. I did, and I’m here. This song is about dealing with those moments of extreme depression. The atmospheric textures in this song were pulled from the bleed of construction noises during our recording session. Our engineer and producer Aaron Schroeder weaved them in instead of trying to mask them, or re-record. We wanted to document Seattle’s changing landscape, one marked mostly by new condo and apartment developments demolishing and pushing out older homes and businesses. Aaron’s studio is now a posh bar that caters to Seattle’s newest residents.


PALMS started out as a fun band jam to bliss out to between practicing more narrative material. We'd been listening to a lot of Lower Dens and loved how Jana's band would take a jam to an almost meditative place. Jude, our drummer, comes from a punk and garage rock background, and really led the charge on this one. After we felt we had some solid garage-y repetition happening, I started writing a lyrical poem about being young in the city. "Darling take it easy/ cause my garden doesn't feed me/ Like I want it, like I taught, like I ever could depend upon it...Something in the city/ takes advantage of your beauty/ All the moments, all your minutes, all the overwhelming golden ivy..." I'd been thinking a lot about my twenties and all the hooks and snares a person gets trapped in because they are young and yearn to be a part of something. Entire industrial empires run on that type of naïveté, and I think it takes some distance from that time period to really see it. Gabe started calling the tune PALMS because he thought it felt beachy. I dug the name because of the double-entendre of open hands asking for something, so it stuck.

Something Else

When I wrote this song, I was in the middle of a co-dependent relationship. I was beginning to really understand what this meant, and how similar it can feel to substance abuse. “I cannot be myself without a little something else” was the line that galvanized everything. Drugs, alcohol, fights, sex; it was all the “something else” I needed to exist, that made me feel like I was alive. I knew when I brought the song to the band that it was going to be a hard one to share and to flesh out. We decided to leave it mostly raw, adding in the rest of the instrumentation late in the song for a drastic sonic contrast and bombastic outro. The song feels unbalanced the way a life can, when you start to feel out-of-control. At Laundry Room studios, Aaron had us play all of our parts over and over again for the ending, so he could weave and stitch everything together. Darcey’s cello part dives into a harmonic minor scale that taps into the darkness of the lyrical content.

Other Side of Love

“Take me to the other side of love, and what you’re afraid of. The softening of bones until we’re gone, and all we are made of.” As I get older, I think more about the potential of the other side of a romantic relationship. When youth wanes, as the emotional and physical needs of you and your partner’s bodies become more and more pressing, how does this affect your happiness? Over the course of writing and recording the album, I had been teaching myself to play piano. This was the first full song I composed on keys. I decided it needed to be a solo piece, just myself and the grand piano in Hall of Justice, a recording studio in Seattle. Aaron and I worked on the production to make sure it evoked an equal amount of warmth and loneliness. The song was the last piece written for the album, and takes me into my late 30’s. We thought it was the  perfect piece to end on, as it closes a chapter of life and opens a new type of wondering.

Keep up with Tenderfoot on Social Media below:

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Modern Me

We recently caught up with San Diego's Modern Me to chat all about their brand new single "Dead To Me," which was released last week. The single, which was produced by The Colourist's Adam Castilla, is the first dose of the group's new material. The tune shows Modern Me diving into more emotional territory, putting their own spin on influence they pulled from some of our indie rock favorites like The Killers, Young The Giant, and Joywave. Tune into our chat with Modern Me now to find about more about their process, who they'd love to work with, and what they hope to get up to in 2018!

 Photo Courtesy of Modern Me

Photo Courtesy of Modern Me

ANCHR Magazine: When did you guys all meet and decide to form Modern Me?

Modern Me: Some of us have known each other since Jr. High and some since high school. We have definitely done some life together.  We decided to form Modern Me because we love alternative rock and we want to play it together the rest of our lives.

AM: Who do you consider to be some of your biggest influences, both on your writing style and on your stage presence?

MM: We’re heavily influenced by band such as The Killers, Muse, Death Cab for Cutie and Young the Giant. We love the way Coldplay throws a show, so much energy and quality fall out of their shows.

AM: For your new material, I heard that you all tried to dive into more personal and vulnerable territory. Was it challenging to open up in that way? On the flip side, what have you found rewarding about getting more personal with your writing?

MM: A lot of people have challenges and diving into each others and trying to get a song out everyone is definitely not easy. We know each other really well considering we have been friends for so many years but writing sessions that go into depth about the dark places some of us go to and trying to capture on a page can get rough. The more personal these songs become, the more attached we become to them. It’s like melody incarnate.

AM: How would you sum up the sound of your new material in 3 words, for people who haven’t heard it?

MM: Dark, Rough and strong.

AM: How was it working with Adam Castilla, and what other producers would you love to work with in the future?

MM: Adam Castilla has become an amazing friend to us. Working with a producer is essentially hiring another band member to work on those songs and we’re proud to have worked with him. Throw us in a room with Rich Costey, Jack Antonoff or Rostam Batmanglij and we know some gold would rise out of that room.

AM: I also love the video for “Dead To Me.” How did you come up with the video concept, and how was the experience of making it? Any interesting stories from behind the scenes of the shoot?

MM: I’ve imagined disrupting the date of an ex-girlfriend and I thought let’s try to capture that and see what happens. Initially for this video we wanted to shoot gorilla style. Setting up all of our instruments in the front yards of band members past relationships, without any forewarning and playing "Dead To Me" until they walked out and said something so we could capture genuine responses. We thought we’d just play it safe and sit in beamers and rot in motel rooms together instead.

AM: Who are some of your favorite new bands at the moment?

MM: Hippo Campus, The War On Drugs, The Wombats, Bear Hands, Saint Motel, James Vincent McMorrow.

AM: Do you have any plans to hit the road this year, and which cities would you love to play in?

MM: We don’t have plans as of right now. We definitely want to hang out with some fans on Phoenix AZ.

AM: What are your goals for the rest of 2018? 

MM: To quit our day jobs.

There you have it. Keep up with Modern Me on social media below!

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Cut Worms

The brainchild of Max Clarke, Cut Worms combines a lo-fi process with timeless, harmonious vocals reminiscent of 1960's singer songwriters, the storytelling element of folk music, and a touch of psych rock. Following the October release of his debut EP Alien Sunset via Jagjaguwar Records, Clarke and his bandmates will be coming to Chicago next week to perform as part of the annual TNK Fest. The show acts as a homecoming of sorts, as Clarke attended Columbia College here in the city, but now resides in Brooklyn. For more on what you can expect from his set at Tomorrow Never Knows, what's in the books for 2018, the biggest lesson he learned at Columbia, and more, tune into our chat with Cut Worms now!

 Photo Credit: Caroline Gohlke

Photo Credit: Caroline Gohlke

ANCHR Magazine: So starting off, what was your first musical memory from when you first got into music?

Cut Worms: My first musical memory would probably be just singing along to stuff on the radio as a kid. Or listening to my dad’s CDs that I found, like his Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits.

AM: Did that then inspire you to want to make music yourself?

Cut Worms: Yeah, in a sort of subliminal way that I didn’t really recognize yet. But I didn’t really start thinking about that I wanted to try to make music until I was 12 probably. Two of my uncles played guitar, and at family gatherings I would see them play, and just wanted to be able to do that.

AM: Nice, so then you started making music as Cut Worms when you were at Columbia College right?

Cut Worms: Right, I’ve been writing my own stuff, or trying to, since I was in middle school or high school. I didn’t ever actually get my own band or anything together until the end of college.

AM: Nice, I went to Columbia too!

Cut Worms: What did  you go for?

AM: Music Business, what was your major?

Cut Worms: Mine was illustration.

AM: What do you think was the most valuable lesson you learned from going to Columbia? Did you take anything away about the music business, even though that wasn’t your major?

Cut Worms: Not really as far as music, but it did give me a sense of developing a process for my work, whether that was illustration or music. Imposing deadlines on yourself, and I had some good professors there in the illustration department who were illustrators or cartoonists....Especially in Chicago, they tend to be kind of dark people. They just like sit inside all the time and draw, but they have really good work ethic. So I always admired that and took that away from them.

AM: For sure. I was reading a little bit about your writing process and that you’d try to release two songs a month online, so it seems that you definitely took that process away. So what were some of your favorite responses after you released your debut EP, Alien Sunset?

Cut Worms: It was just nice to get responses from people all over the place. Especially since signing with Jagjaguwar and them putting it out, they have a much wider reach obviously. So getting like a message from somebody in Norway saying that they were into it, that’s pretty wild to me.

AM: So where did you pull influences from for the songs on that EP? Did you look to other art forms like visual arts or films and what not?

Cut Worms: Yeah, my girlfriend and I always watch a lot of movies and TV shows, so I’m sure a lot of that is in there. I don’t really know where anything comes from. It’s kind of like listening to the news and getting angry, and trying to deal with it.

AM: Do you have a particular story about any of the songs on the EP and the process behind how it came together?

Cut Worms: I kind of just did it as I went along. I didn’t think about it too much before hand. “Curious Man,” that song on there, was the only one that I kind of had an idea and kind of wanted it to be like a sci-fi ghost story thing. That’s kind of one of the only times I’ve tried to write a certain type of song.

AM: So you’re originally from Ohio, and now you’re based in Brooklyn after living in Chicago. Do you find yourself pulling influence from the location you’re based in, and does it affect your writing habits?

Cut Worms: Oh yeah. Living in different places...I guess, since living in New York, I’ve started traveling a lot more than I ever did before. Even just to go home for holidays and stuff, just driving a lot. You kind of get more of a sense of the differences between different places and the atmosphere and the vibe. Just the pace of life. That was always kind of just like a meaningless cliche to me, but it really is kind of true.

AM: What are some of your favorite parts of the Brooklyn music scene, compared to Chicago?

Cut Worms: I don’t know. I’ve never really felt like I was part of a scene per se. In Chicago I guess I kind of was. There’s a garage rock scene there, at least there was...I think there still is. I was in a garage/punk band there and that kind of got me...that was the first band I was ever in. I’d never really experienced what it was to be in a scene before that. Since moving to New York, I don’t go out that much. I’ll go see my friends’ bands.

AM: Do you have any favorite NYC venues?

Cut Worms: To play at, yeah. Any of the bigger ones. It’s always good to play places with good sound, like Music Hall of Williamsburg. We got to open for The Growlers one time at Webster Hall. After spending years of just playing in shitty bars, not really being able to hear yourself, or when you could hear it, you know that it sounds’s just kind of depressing. So finally getting to play places where they know what they’re doing with sound, and they make you sound better. It’s more exciting to play, and I think it feeds off each other. Some of the places I like to go see shows are like Union Pool. Small rooms like that are cool.

AM: Nice, what about some of your favorite bands? You mentioned you like to go see your friends’ bands, so anyone you want to shout out?

Cut Worms: Yeah, EZTV. John Andrews and the Yawns. He actually plays in my band now. People from Woods. This band called Pavo Pavo. The guy Oliver is a good friend of mine who I met by playing shows with him. He moved out to LA, but when I met him he was a Brooklyn band.

AM: So speaking so playing live, you’ll be coming out to Chicago to play Tomorrow Never Knows Fest. What’s your live set up usually?

Cut Worms: So I play guitar, and then John Andrews plays keyboards and also sings harmonies. It’s really exciting for me to finally get someone to sing with, who’s good and gets it. Then Jarvis from Woods is gonna be playing bass with me, and my friend Noah Bond, he plays with a bunch of different people, he plays drums. It’ll be just a four piece, and that’s been the set up lately. Occasionally if I can pin him down, I’ll have my friend John, he plays in a ton of other bands, so he’s not always available. But it’s always good to have him when I can.

AM: For sure. Do you get to stick around and see any of the other bands playing TNK Fest?

Cut Worms: I’ll stick around for that night, but we’re flying back to New York the next day. The day after that we have a show at Brooklyn Steel with Allah Lahs. We need to get a rehearsal in since that’s a pretty big venue.

AM: Anyone on the line up that you’re into, if you got a chance to check it out?

Cut Worms: I’m getting to play with my friend, the band opening for us, Cafe Racer. One of the guys in the band used to play bass for me when I lived in Chicago. I know Sonny and the Sunsets are cool, so I’m pretty psyched on the show that I’m playing. I can’t remember, I know I was looking at the line up.

AM: Yeah your show is pretty stacked though, you have a good lineup! Do you have any other artists that you look up to in terms of stage presence, or anyone else you’d love to share the stage with?

Cut Worms: There’s a lot of people who I admire for their stage presence. I feel like I’ve never been that big of a...I don’t have that big of a presence. Or I don’t do a whole lot of moving around. I mean, The Lemon Twigs, who we’ve played with before, they have a pretty amazing stage presence. I admire that. I’ll probably never get there.

AM: What other goals do you have for 2018?

Cut Worms: I’m going to Europe for the first time in February so I’m excited about that. Then my record will be coming out in May. That will be like the first real release, and I’m excited to see what happens with that. I’m mainly trying to write new stuff.

AM: What can you tell us about the album?

Cut Worms: I just want it to speak for itself and for people to take what they want from it.

Grab your tickets here to Cut Worms show at TNK Fest to make sure you don't miss out...5 day passes are now sold out! Listen to Alien Sunset in full below to get ready for the show!

A Chat With: Soft Glas

If you're like me, you might have first seen Joao Gonzalez on stage this year with Overcoats. Gonzalez has spent the better part of 2017 on the road, playing drums for the electro-folk Brooklyn based duo, all while also mixing his own sophomore album. Under the moniker Soft Glas, Gonzalez crafted Orange Earth; a dreamy, nostalgic haze of an album that contains both groovy and tranquil melodies which he wrote, recorded, and produced himself. It's a record full of candid narratives and hometown memories, and one that vividly paints colors with its emotions and tones. 

Last week, I met up with Gonzalez before the final Soft Glas show of the year, following a nearly month long stint with Sports, during which he learned to perform his songs as a one-man band. During his set, Gonzalez explained some of his inspiration and the nostalgic nods behind certain songs, saying "The past is rose colored and romanticized." This presence of hues in his stories weaves throughout Orange Earth as a common theme, as does Gonzalez's willingness to be vulnerable and transparent with his lyrics. To find about more about the journey behind Orange Earth, the story of Soft Glas collaborators, what's next in 2018 for the project, and even how Gonzalez prefers to spend his New Years Eves, tune into our chat with Soft Glas now!

 Soft Glas at Schubas Tavern 12.18

Soft Glas at Schubas Tavern 12.18

ANCHR Magazine: Do you remember what your first musical memory was, and what made you fall in love with music?

Soft Glas: My family is extremely musical. My dad plays piano, his dad played piano...I remember being three and my dad getting me this baby drum set, and just being extremely drawn to the drums. I remember playing a beat or something and just knowing this is what I want to do.

AM: Wow, from age three! So you had your sophomore album out this year. What was the process behind it, how long did it take to write, and where did you record?

Soft Glas: So I actually started conceptualizing it almost exactly a year from now. I was home for the holidays in south Florida where I grew up, and I remember just being overcome by all this nostalgia. Being in my hometown...A year ago I started working on it. I did most of it in my bedroom, my home studio. Then the last couple sessions were with my audio engineer named Adam Straus , and we housed ourselves in this old church in Boston, and made this impromptu studio. We recorded a lot of the live instrumentation, so the strings, and the drums, and all the orchestral stuff and the piano. It was like an 8 month long process cause after that... I had to mix it and master it.

AM: Oh wow, so you did all that yourself?

Soft Glas: Yeah, I was actually on tour with Overcoats at the time. So we would mix in hotel rooms after the show. We’d come back to the hotel and mix.

AM: So how do you balance being your own artist, working on your own material, and then touring with Overcoats so much? Besides mixing in hotel rooms…

Soft Glas: It actually almost helps, as weird as that sounds. It’s like having a lot to do makes you appreciate what you’re doing in the moment. So I never got bored of working on the album, or frustrated because whenever I did come back to it...whether it was mixing or recording or writing, it was always really exciting. Cause it was like I have x amount of time to work on it. Having a lot to do helped me focus a lot more.

AM: Cool, and then you also have a a few collaborations on the album, like "Glass House" with Sunni Colon.  How did those collaborators come around...was it just friendships, or how did you decide who to work with?

Soft Glas: I think every collaboration I’ve ever done is with a friend of some sort. So I always love to have an actual relationship with people before sending ideas and stuff. With Sunni specifically it was funny, cause I had just put out my first project. This album called Late Bloom, and he had randomly reached out and was like “Hey man, I really liked this album, I’m Sunni!” It was like through Twitter or something. Then literally the day after he messaged me, a mutual friend of ours asked if I wanted to help him shoot Sunni. So the following day we were like what’s up, guess we’re friends now! Then that was just how it usually goes. I have a friendship with people and it just becomes a given that we’re eventually going to work together on something.

AM: Is there anyone on the top of your list to collaborate with next? Whether it be more realistic, or a fantasy Beyonce collaboration?

Soft Glas: It’s funny that you say Beyonce because top of my list is Solange. I’d say Solange and Frank Ocean. 

AM: I was gonna say, I pick up some Blonde vibes in Orange Earth. 

Soft Glas: Oh my gosh, Blonde is my favorite album! It’s incredible! Also, Radiohead [is on my list] to work with. 

AM: Yeah, it’s cool that you pull from different genres, and I can definitely pick up on a little bit of overlap. So, now talking about playing live, you’ve been on this tour with Sports for a few weeks. How did you translate something that you recorded and mixed and produced yourself into a live show? Was it a challenge?

Soft Glas: Yeah, it was so daunting. Just because while I was working on the album, I was simultaneously learning how to play guitar. I taught myself so that I could record guitar.

AM: Oh wow, so rather than get someone else you decided to do it yourself?

Soft Glas: Exactly, which is most of process. I don’t want to wait on people, so I just learn myself. When I’m recording though, I have unlimited takes. The biggest thing for me, especially with guitar and my voice, was I have one shot to get it on stage. That’s been kind of a crazy adjustment. Having that focus...and I’ve had to practice a lot.

AM: Has it been okay so far on the tour?

Soft Glas: I think so! I’m having fun, but I’m my biggest critic by far. So I come off the stage every night just like ahh, I missed that one note on that one song, or I messed up the timing on this.

AM: Everyone’s in the moment though so they probably don’t even notice! If you’re having a good time that’s always better than a perfect, rigid musician. So what about tour highlights with Overcoats? Any favorite moments?

Soft Glas: Touring with Overcoats has been the most absurd experience of my life. The touring itself was so intense. Literally we would do a 4 week run and have a total of 3 off days. It was so intense, and as a result we’re all stuck in this van together for the entire day.

AM: Yeah, I see their Instagram stories. They’re pretty entertaining...

Soft Glas: Yeah, you kind of lose touch with reality and how to interact with people. I’d say the whole thing was a crazy experience. It’s one big haze.

AM: So we’re coming up on New Years Eve. Do you have any best and worst NYE experiences you want to share?

Soft Glas: It’s actually--So best New Years moments, my family is very family-centric. We value family a lot. So New Years in my household has always been a very intimate event, where we want to bring in the new year together. So I don’t have too many crazy stories, since I’m usually with my parents, chilling at home and counting down together. There have been a couple times, like New Years in New York 4 years ago, where it was kind of crazy. I remember just seeing this DJ... It was the most ridiculous night because everyone was like let’s see how absurd we can make tonight. People were wearing the craziest stuff, we were in Bushwick in Brooklyn. I barely remember it.

AM: So that would be the craziest one?

Soft Glas: Yeah, I’m boring by the way! I’m so boring.

AM: That’s cool though, just hanging out. Do you have any advice about how to have a safe NYE?

Soft Glas: I would never tell anyone to be boring like me, but I would say ring it in with people you love. Do whatever you want to do, but just make sure you’re surrounded by people you love.

AM: What are your goals for next year then?

Soft Glas: I think I want to tour this album a lot more. I’m just now kind of scratching the surface of what the show could be. I could get my band together and have a bigger ensemble on stage, rather than just be me myself.

AM: Oh wow, so it’s currently a one man band? So hopefully you can get some touring members together.

Soft Glas: For sure. Also, I’m working on new stuff, so I’m sure I’ll record an album at some point next year.

AM: Last question, I always like to hear what my favorite new artists are listening to as their new favorites, so what are some of your recommendations on what to listen to?

Soft Glas: I’ve been listening to a lot of Nick Hakim. Nick Hakim was probably one of my favorite albums of the year. Moses Sumney is incredible.  I’ve been listening to a lot of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. They’re inspiring. A lot of my friends, like Zack Villere, you should check out. Alex Szotak. Cheryl. J'Von. Mulherin. Check all these people out! Honestly, they make my favorite music right now.

AM: Cool, any last closing remarks?

Soft Glas: I’m very happy to be in Chicago! It’s one of my favorite cities!

There you have it! Check out photos from Soft Glas's show at Schubas, featuring Dream Version and Sports as well. 

Keep up with Soft Glas on social media and listen to Orange Earth in full below.

Soft Glas: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Get To Know: Blue Dream

Chicago's Blue Dream is coming in hot this month with their official debut single "Freedom Eyes," which Treehouse Records will put out as their first label release. "Freedom Eyes" cranks up the volume, demanding attention from listeners, but it's only a teaser of what is to come for the four piece. Blue Dream also have their full length debut primed and ready to go, and they'll be performing most of those songs at Treehouse Records' showcase at Schubas Tavern this Thursday night. Before the show, get to know more about the band from our chat with lead singer Justin Sanetra and guitarist Anthony Cook. We talk everything ranging from their beginnings as musicians, their work with Treehouse Records, David Lynch, and McDonald's chicken nuggets. For all of the important details and the random musings of Blue Dream, keep reading to find out these 7 must-know facts about the band!

 Blue Dream is  Justin Sanetra, Anthony Cook, Jimmy Russell, and Danny Awisha (not pictured)

Blue Dream is  Justin Sanetra, Anthony Cook, Jimmy Russell, and Danny Awisha (not pictured)

Jimi Hendrix and an ABC Family TV Show Inspired Them To Play Music

Justin Sanetra says he started getting into making his own music as soon as he started learning to play it. "It was kind of immediate for me. I started playing my first year of high school, and then within the span of starting, I wanted to be in bands and write songs. It’s my outlet for that," he recalled. As far as what inspired him to start playing? "Seeing Jimi Hendrix play the guitar," Sanetra says. 

Anthony Cook, or just Cook, as people call him, says his original motive behind wanting to play music is a little more shallow than that. "Honestly when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, my first experience with trying to play music was I was watching some show on ABC Family or something like that. There was this character on the show that was this high school douchebag guy, but he had a guitar and all the chicks were around him, and I was like 'damn, I wanna get a guitar.' So I tried to learn guitar when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, but I didn’t have the discipline to do it." Cook continues on to say he bought a guitar in 8th grade and finally took it seriously.  "I took it from there, practicing a lot. Especially playing with these guys and playing with other musicians is what really made me realize this is what I want to do with my life," he adds. 

Cook and Sanetra also mention that they'd played music with other people in high school, but they joined forces as they graduated and haven't looked back since. It's now been 6 or 7 years that the members of Blue Dream have played together. 

They All Dabble With Other Bands and Side Projects

Although Blue Dream is the main priority of Sanetra, Cook, and their bandmates, Cook says they also have side projects that they work on. "My other group that I play in is called St. Marlboro. We’re gonna be recording [at Treehouse] next week, so I don’t know when that’s gonna come out. The road is long ahead of us, but we’re gonna record here and we’ve had all the songs for a while," he says. 

Sanetra also plays in the live lineup for Strange Foliage, who open up the Treehouse show this Thursday. "It’s a newer project. It’s more of a solo project from a guy Joey Cantacessi and he found some friends to play live with him," Sanetra adds.

Both Cook and Sanetra also say how much they love being a part of the collaborative Chicago scene. "Just how into it everyone is. The energy of it. There’s so many bands, so many different types of bands," Sanetra adds to his list of pros to the Chicago scene. Cook echoes that sentiment, adding, "There’s a lot of diversity in it, but I think my favorite thing about it is the fact that it’s so big that there has to be bands that are taking it seriously. In a small town there might be like one band that’s really taking it seriously. There’s so much competition here it’s driving everyone to be better." Lastly, they name Zoofunkyou, Post Animal, and Groovy Louie & the Time Capsules as some of their favorite local bands. 

They Became Treehouse's First Label Release In a "Right Place Right Time" Moment

As Cook mentioned, his other band St. Marlboro will record at Treehouse, as does Strange Foliage and of course Blue Dream. The list of Chicago bands recording at Treehouse goes on and on, and Blue Dream have the honor of being the first release on Treehouse's Record's label.

Talking about the chance to work with Treehouse, Sanetra says, "It happened kind of spontaneously. We always had friends that recorded here and we kind of took forever to get our shit together and get stuff recorded. We finally booked time here and we ended up talking to Matt [Gieser] about how they wanted to start a label. It just worked out with the timing, with us releasing our first single besides a demo we did a few years ago. Also there’s an album too that’s been about 4 or 5 years in the making."

Cook can't say enough positive things about the studio, adding, "The main reason I wanted to record here...first of all, it’s been recommended to me by friends and other local musicians. One thing I noticed is that all their records, every band I knew that made a record here, it sounded like how they sound live. They capture their sound the way it’s supposed to be. They didn’t totally-- it’s never over produced, it’s all analog. It’s all tape. I thought that was really cool." 

As far as the actual 7" that will be released this Thursday, Cook says, "The song that’s the A side of the single ["Freedom Eyes"] came together pretty much right before we recorded. Some of the songs that are gonna be on the full length are older ones from a couple years ago, but the single was fresh."

"There’s a good mix of songs that we’ve been working on for a while. Then there’s songs that we’ve never played live and wrote in the studio," Sanetra says about the upcoming album. 

They All Play Equal Part in the Process

As with most bands, Blue Dream says their writing process varies per song. However, Cook says, "It’s largely hinged upon Justin’s songwriting. He usually brings in the idea and then the rest of us fill in the spaces and lay out the song." "I go out and hunt the food," Sanetra continues, with Cook interjecting to say, "And we cook it. I put on the seasoning. Danny hammers out the meat. Jimmy fries it..."

Sanetra discusses the particular process for "Freedom Eyes," saying, "It was kind of scattered lyrics over just so many things going on in our world right now. So many people have different opinions. We get caught up on there’s a right and wrong." Cook picks it up here, adding, "It’s all arbitrary. There’s no such thing as right and wrong. We invented that. That makes me think of the fact how connected the world is right now. Everyone is always looking at their phones and always connected to everybody else. It’s definitely got some pros...there’s a lot of conveniences that come out of that, but at the same time, I feel like it’s pushing people further and further away from each other. It’s dividing people. I think it especially has an impact on the music industry. It’s very different these days. It used to be if you didn’t get on a major label, you had no chance of anyone hearing your shit. But now, anybody with a computer in their bedroom can make an album. That makes a lot more competition, a lot more good music, and a lot more bad music. It’s all relative. There’s no good or bad expect what’s relative to each person. The average of society is what’s considered right and wrong." After this reflection, Cook lightens to the mood, joking, "We’re getting a little too metaphysical right now. Let’s talk sports!"

Their Album Features the Sound of a Toilet Smashing and a Chicago Traffic Jam

There's still no official word on when we'll get the full length debut from Blue Dream, but they were even considering dropping it digitally the day of their release show, or on New Years Eve for the last album of the year. While the timing still isn't decided, one thing the band knows is that one of their favorite tracks is called "Battle of Cicero." 

"That’s a tough one. I’m most excited for...we have a 15 minute song. It's an adventure of a song," Sanetra says about the tune when he was trying to pick out his favorite song on the album. 

Cook agrees, adding, "It’s interesting, it features a drum solo from our drummer Danny. All done live...almost everything we did on that song was done live. Other than the fact that we threw a toilet off a balcony and mic'd that up. We smashed an acoustic guitar. We were trying to create an ambience of destruction and violence." Sanetra chimes in" [It's] pretty much what Chicago sounds like."

Although throwing a toilet off a balcony sounds like the most extreme thing you could do for abstract recordings, Blue Dream didn't stop at that. "I caused a traffic jam. I parked at the green light at Cicero and Wrightwood. I just parked at the green light for two green lights so people would honk at me and scream at me. Like 'Fucking Move!!' and all that, and just had a mic hanging out the window," Cook continues. 

The band definitely thought outside the box to create a diverse and cinematic album. "I think we were trying to keep a bit of a variety but with a cohesive sound. A lot of it’s heavier stuff, but there’s some moments where it’s more melodic. There’s dynamics in it. We were trying to---I don’t want to say showcase our different sounds, but the songs we have tend to be pretty different from one another. You can tell they’re all Blue Dream songs, but they’re all pretty unique. We’re trying to make a record where the songs are far enough apart that it stays fresh the whole time. You don’t get locked in one sound. It’s like, you get the general aesthetic of the band," Cook says. Just like a movie, he adds, "Each scene might have different lighting or a different kind of ambience to it, but they’re all parts of the same movie." 

(Oh, and the toilet was found in an alley and in clean condition they say, if you were wondering...)

They're Chicken Nugget and Mozzarella Stick Connoisseurs  

While they're on the subject of the band's identity, Cook says, "Blue Dream can be boiled down to marijuana, electric guitars...LSD, McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets. And Signature Sauce!" He adds, "I’d like to plug Signature Sauce. It’s the best sauce you can get at McDonald's for your chicken nuggets. Don’t get the strips. The nuggets are the way to go. They have the new Buttermilk sounded so good, I tried it. The only time I tried it, I was on my way to record here. They were alright, but I wish I would have gotten nuggets."

Sanetra mentions he misses the mozzarella sticks from McDonald's, and it turns out Cook also has the local mozz stick wisdom and expertise. "If we’re talking mozz sticks, you’ve got the breaded kind with the bread crumbs, and you’ve got the Italian bread crumbs on it. The ones where it’s like deep fried and flakier, those are the ones that I like," Cook says before plugging Snappy Dog as having the absolute best cheese sticks, which they call Snappy Stix. "It’s like an eggroll. It’s like the casing of it is what an eggroll looks like. But instead of vegetables and rice, it’s cheese," he says. 

There you have it...Make sure you pick up some Snappy Stix when you're listening to Blue Dream's album for the first time to get an authentic Blue Dream listening experience.

I think we were trying to keep a bit of a variety but with a cohesive sound. A lot of it’s heavier stuff, but there’s some moments where it’s more melodic. There’s dynamics in it.
— Cook on the theme of the upcoming Blue Dream album

They Like Twin Peaks the Band, But Like The TV Show Even More

As a supporter of the local music scene and just good art in general, Cook brings up Twin Peaks....both the TV show and the Chicago band.  "I like Twin Peaks the band, but Twin Peaks the TV show changed my life," he says. 

Cook has watched the entire series, including the recent reboot, or third season as it's been considered by many. If you watched the show yourself, make sure you talk to him on Thursday night about his take on the series ending. If you didn't watch it, we'll avoid any spoilers, but seriously, just go watch it. 

Cook also says that David Lynch and Twin Peaks have influenced the music and direction of Blue Dream. "That program definitely influenced our music video I would say. David Lynch is probably my favorite director of all time," he says. 

As far as his favorite character on the new season, Cook says, "I really liked Jim Belushi in the new season. I didn’t know much about his acting career prior to that, other than According to Jim, and I thought that was fucking stupid. He was amazing in Twin Peaks. Blown away by Jim Belushi’s acting...."

There you have it! Don't forget, Blue Dream play their release show at Schubas THIS Thursday, December 7th. Grab your tickets here. If the idea of them playing their entire album isn't enticing enough, Cook says, "We’re having a hologram of John Lennon performing "Imagine" in the middle of our set!" Whether or not that's true, it looks like you'll have to go to the show to find out.  

As for next year, Blue Dream will be touring across the Southeast, so make sure you follow their social media to stay informed on all things tour.

Blue Dream:

Facebook // Instagram // Twitter

You can also pre-order the 7" single here.