ANCHR Magazine

Holding you down with the best new music

A Chat With: The Dig

You might best know New York's The Dig by their relaxed rock tune "I Already Forgot Everything You Said" off their 2012 album Midnight Flowers, but the quartet made up of two singers and three songwriters have a dynamic and expansive music catalog under their belt, including the 2017 album Bloodshot Tokyo. The latest album stays true to their laid back and grooving melodies, but also explores different moods and tones to deliver diversity across the 11 tracks. Band members David Baldwin, Emile Mosseri, Erick Eiser, and Mark Demiglio are currently out on the road in support of the newest album, and they'll be in Chicago this Friday. Before the tour stops at Lincoln Hall, we chatted with one of the band's singers and songwriters David Baldwin, all about the tour, new music and more! If you want to know about The Dig's collaborative writing process, which books they're reading, how they feel about pumpkin spiced drinks and pineapple on pizza, check out our chat with The Dig!

Photo Credit: Olivia McManus

Photo Credit: Olivia McManus

ANCHR Magazine: Congratulations on the newest album Bloodshot Tokyo, which you released earlier this year! How was this album different from past work, in terms of the writing and recording scope?

David Baldwin: Thanks, we appreciate that.  Probably the biggest difference between this album and our past work was our overall approach.  We went into this one with way more songs to choose from than we ever had before.  In the past we'd always had to balance writing the music with booking tours, self-managing, etc.  This time around we decided to put all of that on hold and do nothing but write songs for a couple of years.  I think we grew a lot as songwriters in that time and naturally a new kind of sound evolved.

AM: What challenges do you encounter with having multiple songwriters in the band? On the flip side, what do you find rewarding about being able to collaborate on the writing rather than having one person do it all? 

DB: The biggest challenge we face having multiple songwriters in the band is allowing space for a singular vision to find its way onto a record.  You always know that every idea, every lyric is going to have to make it through the committee, and we've talked about how we always have each other in our heads while we're writing.  One of us might be alone writing a song and think, oh so and so won't like this because it leans to heavily toward one style or another.  So keeping the edges of a singular vision from being shaved off can be a challenge.  

On the flip side, because we've been writing songs together for so long, we speak the same musical language.  I think this helps the most in finishing songs that one person may have started but couldn't quite see all the way through on their own.  If you feel like you're stuck with a song but you're excited about what's there, you know you can bring it in to the rest of the band and someone will come up with something cool that you never would have thought of.  We've also noticed that the songs of ours that people seem to respond to the most are usually the ones that were the most collaborative.

AM: Which songs from the new record are you most excited about playing when you’re on the road in the fall?

DB: We have a hoot playing all the songs, but some live favorites in no particular order are "Pool of Rotting Water", "Jet Black Hair", "Bleeding Heart", and "Self Made Man."

AM: How do you guys usually pass time when you’re on the road? What are your favorite podcasts, books, and other ways to stay entertained? 

DB: We usually just blab away at each other and make Instagram stories.  But a good Marc Maron will get you clear through Nebraska.  Some Norm Macdonald standup will do ya.  We all try to read on the road from keeping Tour Brain from setting in.  Notes From The Underground, Tortilla Flat, Ta-Nehisi Coates' new piece The First White President have made up some of the recent tour readings.

AM: In the past you’ve thrown black wigs out at your shows before you played “Jet Black Hair.” Do you have anything special like that up your sleeves for the upcoming tour?

DB: We do have a little something up our sleeves.  It's called our Total Request Hotline.  The number is 347-422-6434, and you can call it to request a song all throughout the tour.  Doesn't necessarily mean we'll play it, but you can still give it a shot.  In fact, a nice gentlemen named Harrison called it today to make a request for our Chicago show. 

AM: Since you’ve been a band for several years now, what would you say is the biggest lesson you’ve learned a musician?  

DB: To make what you want to hear and not worry about the stuff you can't control.  But that's easier said than done. 

AM: What have you learned about each other from knowing each other and working together for so long? 

DB: We learned that when one person makes a joke and it gets a laugh, everyone in the band has to go around and repeat it at least once.

AM: I heard that you and Emile used to play in a Rage Against The Machine Cover band back in the day. If you were to form a new cover band today, which band/artist would you cover exclusively and what would the band name be?  

DB: Would have to go with a surf-rock band that does instrumental versions of C.C.R. songs.  We would name it The Loose Screws.  

AM: Who are some of your favorite new artists at the moment, or new music from more established artists that you can’t stop listening to?

DB: Kendrick Lamar, Queens of The Stone Age,  Angel Olsen to name a few.  

AM: Besides the tour, what else are you looking forward to for the remainder of the year?

DB: We're looking forward to keeping the writing going when we get home, and also to some new things we have coming out in the near future.  

AM: Also, as a bonus question, I thought we could play  “Dig or Ditch,” a cheesy game I made up that’s a lightning round of a few polarizing topics/items. If you like it, say dig, or if you hate it, say ditch. 

  • Pineapple on pizza: dig or ditch? Dig
  • Cilantro: dig or ditch?  Dig
  • Watching the previews at the movies: dig or ditch?  When thinking about it, Ditch.  But when it's happening, Dig.
  • Coffee: dig or ditch? Dig but fantasize about ditching.
  • Scary movies: dig or ditch?  Dig
  • Pumpkin flavored food/beverages: dig or ditch?  Dig
  • Nutella: dig or ditch?  Ditch
  • Country music: dig or ditch?  Dig.
  • Spicy food: dig or ditch?   Dig
  • Snowy days: dig or ditch?  Dig

Now that you know more about the band, go see The Dig with Dan Croll at Lincoln Hall this Friday...grab your tickets here before they sell out. Make sure to also call their Total Request Hotline to request your favorite song!

If you're not in Chicago, you can also check out all of The Dig's upcoming tour dates here, and get ready for the show by listening to Bloodshot Tokyo in full below!

A Chat With: Widowspeak

Indie rock group Widowspeak just released their fourth studio album Expect The Best on August 25th. The Brooklyn-based duo of Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas have been making music together since 2010, but this latest album brings their fullest and most developed sound to date. In support of the new record, the pair and their live band will kick off an extensive North American tour this week, followed by a UK tour. Before the tour hits Chicago, we chatted with Molly Hamilton all about the new album and upcoming tour. Check our chat with Widowspeak now to find out the biggest lesson they've learned in their years of making music, what makes this new record different, their ideal night out in NYC, how they prep for tour and more! 

 Photo Credit: Shawn Brackbill

 Photo Credit: Shawn Brackbill

ANCHR Magazine: So your new album Expect The Best just came out last month! How did the writing and recording process for this album vary from your previous records?

Widowspeak: For this one, I still wrote the songs separate, from voice memos and notebooks and random ideas pieced together, knowing we would then expand on that and make them more intricate eventually. In the past, it has mostly been Rob figuring the latter part out, but this time we played with the regular touring band in the studio.  

AM: After releasing a few albums and being a band for several years, what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned as a musician?

Widowspeak: I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is just to be kind to people, which seems obvious, but… We are really laid-back as a band and always super appreciative of people we meet on tour, whether that’s the people running the shows or going to them. We’ve heard stories about other bands, whether ones we know personally or are fans of, being jerks or just generally difficult to work with, and that is a total bummer.  It's so important to be good to people.

AM: Where did you find yourself drawing inspiration from for the new songs, whether it be musical or non-musical influences?

Widowspeak: The new songs I wrote sort of in a big batch of them all at once, and I think they are all sort of about feeling stuck in various feelings or states of mind. It’s not uncommon at all to have those sorts of thoughts, but for me personally I wanted to write these songs more directly about that because it was getting increasingly hard to do anything, let alone music. Some of them are more concerned with the symptoms of those feelings, like being unproductive, or looking at social media, and others are about trying to figure out “why."

AM: I really love the cover art too, and the limited edition vinyl you put together with the purple lava lamp splatter. How involved are you with the visuals that the band puts out, and how does the cover tie in with the theme of the record?

Widowspeak: I’m usually really involved in the visuals, if not doing everything except the technical layout myself (sometimes, as with our last record, we use someone else’s art). This time, I took the cover photo and all the other photos in my apartment in Tacoma. The lava lamp is actually my stepmom’s that I borrowed (and that broke!) I had this weird feeling that the corner of my apartment, with a lava lamp, should be the record cover and had no idea why, ha. 

AM: Are there any songs from the new record that you’re particularly excited about performing live? Any spoilers you can give about the set for the upcoming tour?

Widowspeak: I’m excited to play all of them, honestly. I feel like because these songs were originally recorded with the band, they are already really full of that energy. Sometimes we have to try to figure out how to play a song live that was more sparse, or where the instruments aren’t represented by the four of us. This time everything feels more natural, also more high-energy. For tour surprises, I will say we are trying to figure out a new cover… hope we get it figured out in time!

AM: Are there any cities you’re especially looking forward to playing?

Widowspeak: We love playing our respective hometown cities (Seattle/Tacoma, Chicago, Des Moines, Detroit) as well as our new hometowns, NYC and Kingston, NY (upstate), because so many of our friends are there. But it’s also great to play shows anywhere and to be surprised by the people you meet there, or how cool a venue or their staff are. Tour is crazy and full of things you didn’t expect, so I’m just going into it excited to play the songs and hoping the van doesn’t break down.

AM: Speaking of touring, I saw you recently posted on Facebook about a taking a roadtrip (and tour is essentially one big roadtrip itself), so what are your go-to road trip activities, tunes, and essential snacks?

Widowspeak: Yeah, we got a new tour van which is also a great camper van, and we’re excited to bring it on the road! Generally we listen to a lot of podcasts, especially comedy or science ones, because they tend to be things people can all agree on (but also tune out if they want to). Music-wise, the van has a tape player so I’m excited to bust out the old cassette collection and go foraging in the bins at thrift stores. When we’re on tour we like to research ahead of time to see if there is a must-try local restaurant/food truck/etc. that is around, because no one wants to be figuring out how to eat breakfast from the things they have at a gas station. We try to plan ahead. So we definitely sometimes will go through a National Park or something, if it’s sort of on the way, or we’ll go swimming or thrifting or play pinball.

AM: Since the album is called Expect The Best and you’re based in Brooklyn, describe what you would consider your best night out in NYC?

Widowspeak: I would say the best night out in NYC definitely involves knowing where to go so you don’t spend too much money, because the city is crazy expensive and it takes finesse and skill to do it right and not be broke. First, getting some snacks somewhere where there is happy hour food. I really love dollar oysters, and there are a bunch of places in Brooklyn that have them. Or honestly just grabbing something from a deli and finding a good spot in the park or something to people-watch. Then I’d say maybe go to someone’s roof if you know someone with a cool roof, unless it’s raining. There’s nothing better than watching the sun set over the skyline and bridges. But that’s kind of where my idea of the perfect evening devolves, because the best NYC night out would be unpredictable and you’d end up a lot of places you didn’t expect, like random apartments and bars you’ve never been to, or other boroughs from where you live. I will say that later, when you’re crawling home, I would get tacos or halal from one of the trucks, depending on where you are. That’s the classic NYC night-ender.

AM: On a similar note, who are some of your favorite NYC bands at the moment that you would recommend to your listeners?

Widowspeak: Well, we just moved back into town, so I can’t totally speak to any of the newer bands that are just starting out (as we haven’t seen ‘em yet), and also a bunch of the NYC bands are now somewhere-else bands, but EZTV, and also there’s this band Poppies I like, Cut Worms, our friend Renata Zeiguer, who used to be in a band with Rob, is incredible. Other than that there are a bunch I’m not thinking of, I’m really glad to be back in the area though, lots of new bands to hear.

Chicago, you can check out Widowspeak at The Empty Bottle next week. Grab tickets here, and listen to the new album in full below. 

Get To Know: Capital Soirée

Indie pop-rock band Capital Soirée knows how to write a song with a sticky, stuck-in-your-head melody. Since forming in 2013, the group has released a handful of singles, including two EPs called Next Weekend and Take Me Anywhere. Founding members James Kourafas, Max "Rom" Romero, and Steven Rejdukowski have also been playing around the city for years, recently adding on a live drummer, Griffin Shaw. Last weekend, we chatted with the four-piece before they headlined the main room stage at Wicker Park's Subterranean to not only celebrate their upcoming EP, but the one year anniversary of Griffin joining the live band....and Max's birthday. In our interview, the group discusses their new music, the lessons they've learned over the summer, their evolution as a band, and more. Here are five things you need to know about Capital Soirée!

Capital Soirée is Max "Rom" Romero, James Kourafas, and Steven Rejdukowski

Capital Soirée is Max "Rom" Romero, James Kourafas, and Steven Rejdukowski

They've Changed Roles Since the Band Started

The three core members of Capital Soirée are all multi-instrumentalists and have all been able to take on multiple roles throughout the years. After initially starting to play drums at age 6, Max Romero eventually picked up the bass, which has since remained his role in the band today. Vocalist and guitarist James Kourafas describes his start in music, saying, "I was like 9 or 10. [Max and I] initially had met in third grade. We had this whole thing that we were gonna start a rock band." Steven Rejdukowski, who now plays guitars and keys in the current day lineup says, "I learned how to play drums so I could be in a band," after meeting Kourafas and Romero and finding out they needed a drummer to complete their band. He had initially picked up a guitar and learned to play at age 14. Griffin Shaw came in to play the live drums with a lot of experience already under his belt. "I've been playing [drums] 12 years now. My grandpa plays jazz drums. So he got me into the drum world pretty early," he recalled. The band's ability to be flexible and take on playing multiple instruments had led them to a seamless live show, even with the new material they debuted at the Subterranean. 

They've Recently Taken on Producing Their Own Music

The band have been working away on new music that not only features a more developed sound, but a more in-depth process behind the scenes. Talking more about their current recording process, Rejdukowski says, "We record at my house. I’ve been building a studio for the past 6 years or so. We recorded at a few places before when we were younger and we kind of hated it." Echoing that sentiment, Kourafas says, "It took us a while to come to the realization that so much of a record’s sound actually has to do with the way it was recorded and produced and mixed. At the time when you’re younger, you don’t necessarily have the words to express what you’re trying to get down so you’re kind of at the mercy of the producer who’s recording you. That’s kind of what drove us to want to do the DIY thing." As far as who takes the lead in their production work, the band says it's a democratic system, each on them getting an input. "Yeah we kinda all just sit around the computer, and one person drives, and we all make our own comments," Romero describes their process. 

The band also discuss some of their favorite producers that they admire and look to for influence. "I really like the band Hoops, their production style. It’s not so much an inspiration for our music, but I admire that sort of lo-fi production. But we also like hi-fi, like super high fidelity electronic stuff. There's all sorts of different styles that we’re trying to mesh together,Kourafas says. "If I had a big influence...Kevin Parker of Tame Impala. He was the whole reason I wanted to record and build a studio, besides that I’m tired of hearing other producers tell us what to do. He opened my eyes,Rejdukowski chimed in. 

They Spent the Summer Locked Up in the Studio...and Other Places

The band have spent a large chunk of the summer recording and producing their upcoming EP. Talking more about the direction of the songwriting style for this new material, Romero says, "It’s slowly been evolving. Back in the day, one of us would write a song on acoustic guitar, bring it to the group, and figure out parts from them. Nowadays it’s more like ok we have a song pretty much written. For the most recent recordings, we had demos that we made ourselves and we brought them all together and kind of decided which one was gonna be the best and from there we opened up the doors. So anyone could add on anything they want." The amount of collaboration varies track by track with the band's best interest in mind. "A big thing with the technique we’re using now is we’re trying to get past our own personal egos and make music that we feel is the best possible music we could make. Being in the studio... it really lends itself to coming up with different sounds," Kourafas adds. 

So while the band has been working hard, remaining locked up in Steven's studio to get this new music complete, they did also have a scheduling conflict pop up, when Romero got literally locked up for getting caught with a little bit of Colorado's finest export at Bonnaroo Festival and didn't show up to his hearing. Consequently, he got sentenced to two weeks in jail in Coffee County, Tennessee. Despite the setback, Romero gained some wisdom from the experience. "The biggest lesson I learned besides don’t take drugs across state lines, is don’t stress the shit that you can’t control. Cause you can, especially in jail, go crazy. Like, I can’t do anything about the fact that I’m gonna be in here for two weeks. You just have to sit back and let the world do it’s thing. Control what you can and don’t kill yourself over the shit you can’t control," he says. 

The Subterranean Holds a Lot of History for Them

The band has played all around the city over the years, but the SubT holds a special place in their heart. Their show last week acted as one of several times they've played that stage. So what are some of their favorite memories from the Wicker Park venue? "There was that one time you ripped my shirt off [to James]. That was one of the first times I had my shirt off at a show," Romero recalls. He also describes another time he stage dove at their last EP release show, saying, "I was over on the front by the monitors. My friend who is like 6’5, pretty large guy like grabs me and picks me up. This was during 'The Count.' I’d never stage dove before. It was kind of scary cause I was like I still have to play these parts... I didn’t want want to hit anybody with the bass!" Griffin Shaw also played his very first show with the group on the SubT stage.

This most recent performance will most likely go down on their list of Subterranean memories, seeing as Romero did take his shirt off again at the end of their set, and they played one of their unreleased tracks. The experience of playing this new song already proved to be landmark for the band, Romero pointed out. "It’s weird because before when we wrote songs, we would play them all together before we would even record them. This is the first time we’ve flipped it around. So we recorded first and now we’re playing it." Kourafas agrees, saying, "It’s kind of goofy cause we had to like learn our own songs. At the time when we recorded, we lay down what we lay down and don’t necessarily think about it too much."

Their List of Dream Collaborators is a Cross-Genre Super Group

If the band could collaborate with anybody in the world, Rejdukowski says he'd love to work with Tame Impala, since Kevin Parker has inspired him as a musician and producer. Romero throws out The Weeknd as a personal bucket list collaboration, while Kourafas says Phoenix and Shaw named Hans Zimmer. Basically, their dream collaborators sounds like an ideal super group that needs to happen at one point in the future. The group also shout out their bucket list venues and festivals,  Rejdukowski saying, "Absolute dream place--kind of cliché, but Red Rocks!" Romero mentions Shaky Knees festival, which takes place every Spring in Atlanta.

Although they'd love to one day work with more established acts and work their way up to playing bigger shows, the band also have a lot of hometown appreciation. Talking about the Chicago scene, Romero says, "Rare is it that we’ve found people who are shitty. Everyone is pretty supportive honestly. The Chicago local scene...I’ve never really been around other local scenes, but from what I’ve heard it’s pretty large." Rejdukowski agrees, adding, "Even like a lot of the bands we play with, they don’t necessarily sound like our music, but that’s the best part about it. The people who come to the shows are exposed to more genres and everyone is just vibing on it." As far as their favorite fellow Chicago musicians, the band shout out Floral Couches. "They’re great. Last time we played here we got to meet them. We all really fuck with The Walters. I like the Symposium. Post Animal’s great. [Twin] Peaks..." Romero says. 

The band says we can expect a new 7-track Capital Soirée EP and some music videos before the end of the year. While we await the new music, check out photos from the band's show at Subterranean, including some Behind the Scenes shots. 

Follow Capital Soirée on Social Media:

Facebook. Instagram. Twitter.

Listen to the latest EP "Take Me Anywhere" Below:

Catching Up With: White Mystery

If you're at all familiar with the Chicago music scene, you've undoubtedly seen White Mystery out and about over the years. The sibling duo of Alex and Francis White still manage to pack a serious punch with all of their live performances, despite only being a two-piece band. In addition to developing a full live show between the two of them, Alex and Francis have remained completely hands on with all aspects of the band, from management to booking tours to sending press releases...they do it all. In between all of that hustle, the pair still find time to put out an album every year on April 20th. Their latest, Fuck Your Mouth Shut, marks their eighth studio album, and their ninth is on the way in 2018. In the midst of working on new music, playing shows, and gearing up for tour, the duo developed their own TV show called (you guessed it)... White Mystery TV! The show has featured artists from all corners of the local Chicago scene and just wrapped its first season (but more on that later). Before White Mystery start their tour along the east coast and midwest this Friday, we chatted with Miss Alex White after their set at The Slippery Slope Anniversary party last weekend. Here are six things you need to know to get caught up with White Mystery!

Photo Credit: Diane Alexander White

Photo Credit: Diane Alexander White

Their Influences Provided "Permission By Example" 

While strolling down memory lane trying to pinpoint what first inspired her to pick up an instrument, Alex White describes two distinct childhood memories. "When I was pretty young, my mom would take me to the dollar store, called Amazing Savings. And they had discount tape cassettes of oldies music. Like all the great one hit wonders from the 60's, and I really really loved those songs," Alex recalls. She continues describing her journey to rock 'n'roll, saying, "As far as the moment that inspired me to start playing rock 'n' roll….And I’ve said this a couple times too because it was just that distinct of a moment that I remember... I was in fourth grade, and my parents were repurchasing their old record collections on CDs 'cause CDs were like a new invention, you know? I heard The Who for the first time, and the album was Who’s Next by The Who. It’s the classic song “Baba O'Riley,” which is like [singing] 'Teenage Wasteland...' And that song just really connected with me. Where I was like I need to play guitar, this is so cool!"

The inspiration continued through Alex's teen years, where she found influence in other bands. "If you flash forward a little bit...Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth. I heard Sonic Youth and I was like I can do this! This is so great, this is so powerful. It’s a female singer, she’s playing guitar, it’s experimental...I really believe in permission by example. You see something and you’re like oh yeah, I could do that! Maybe better, or differently. And Sonic Youth really did that for me when I was about 14 or 15," Alex says. She also reveals that some of her artistic and musical talent stems from somewhere down her family tree. "My mom played piano as a very young person, but her job is being a photographer. My grandfather, who passed away when I was like 5, really young, he played mandolin. So he never showed me how to play, and I don’t even have memories of him playing...But, I’m convinced that I’m genetically predisposed to having really fast fingers and that kind of thing. So while I didn’t know him very well and he never taught me, I feel that the heritage lended to it," she says. 

They're Always Up for the DIY Hustle

In addition to rocking the stage all by themselves, Alex and Francis White know how to work the DIY system as a band...and man do they work hard! Talking about the benefits and challenges that they face being an independent band, taking on multiple roles, Alex says, "Well like anything there’s pros and cons to being DIY. The biggest pro is that when you take on multiple roles, like when you become the management, the licensing agent, the booking agent, and the art director... and the the creative force, you can make a career out of it." She continues to give major props to her brother Francis, saying it's very much a partnership. For any struggling musicians or music industry professionals, just remember Alex's "permission by example" principle and look at how she has earned a living with White Mystery. 

"This has been my job full time for 7 years. It’s a very bohemian lifestyle. I work really fucking hard and all day long, but in the comfort of my own home or on tour with a laptop," Alex continues, vouching for the DIY lifestyle.  However, she does also recognize the potential downfalls. "The disadvantage is that it can be very challenging to penetrate these very established systems. Something like Lollpalooza...While we play big ass shows in Chicago, we played in Japan, we’ve been in Sundance Film Festival movies. We’ve played with Patti Smith and The Stooges many times. We played Riot Fest...for some reason it’s been damn near impossible to get into Lolla, while we’ve put 8 albums out," Alex continues. She still manages to see the positive side of the situation and brace herself for the challenges, adding, "So there’s certain things, but I try to convince myself that everything happens for a reason, and I just kind of stick to my vision, and good things always happen when you do that. You’re gonna have challenges. Be prepared for the challenges."

Video Games Inspired White Mystery TV

Well kind of...For the past month, White Mystery have invited different artists and musicians around Chicago over to talk, play music, and play video games. All while broadcasting live; hence the name White Mystery TV. Talking about the origin of this clever concept, Alex says, " I have to give my brother Francis credit for it. He plays a lot of video games, and there’s this network called Twitch. It seems like a lot of people in the rock scene aren’t very familiar with it...It’s the second largest streaming service on planet earth. World wide." Alex continues on to say that there's been times on tour where she and Francis wished they could share their view with friends and family back home. "Before Facebook Live and Instagram was more like us driving through the Swiss Alps thinking this is so crazy and so beautiful, I wish we could show people back home what this looks like," she says.

The inspiration to launch WTV also stemmed from their past work on a White Mystery film, called "That Was Awesome." Alex says their past work on that film coupled with their desire to share their experiences beyond their live concerts helped push the project forward. "We’re realizing wow, our worldwide audience is able to watch us. So while there might be 100 people at the show, there might be 1000 people watching," she continued. Talking more about the show itself, Alex says, "It took a long time to develop it because of the technology required to make the infrastructure. It’s not like 'Hey I have an iPhone..” let me hold it up to something. It’s a little more sophisticated. So when people are watching they’re getting a little more of the Wayne’s World basement thing, but what we’ve done is bring all of our favorite musicians on. So people are like wow, that’s so great you have so many cool local musicians. Like The Orwells...Mario [Cuomo] was one episode one. Twin Peaks are freakin’ huge!" The show has also had rappers like ShowYouSuck, Joseph Chilliams, Mykele Deville, as well as newer buzzy bands like Bunny and Post Animal. "We’ve been trying to represent the city of Chicago so that we can share what’s going on here with our audience in like Germany and Japan. It’s been a really cool thing and they’re all archived on YouTube so you can watch them again. They’re like each 3 hours long," Alex concluded. Make sure you tune into Season 2 when it starts!

They've Witnessed the Peaks and Valleys of the Chicago Scene

Speaking of representing the local Chicago scene on White Mystery TV, Alex and I also discussed some of her favorite parts of the scene at the moment, and how it has gone through cycles. "Chicago is a very special place. I’m born and raised here in the city. Having gone to New York and LA and San Francisco...Chicago is a very supportive, cooperative scene. There’s a lot of idea exchange and support," Alex says. 

"I guess what I love most is the mutual support people give each other, and that goes across the arts. That goes to comedians. DJs. Actors and Actresses. Everybody is like 'I’d love to help you with that.' It’s not this cut throat thing. There’s friendly competition where we push each other higher. But the community is full of support," she continued. 

This principle of helping each other out and lifting each other up can be seen just on White Mystery TV alone, when genres are mixed and collaborations extend to poets and performing artists, not just musicians. It's also demonstrated in Lollapalooza performances here, like when Joey Purp showed up for a song with Whitney. "It’s genre bending," Alex says before shouting out her favorite venues in the city. "I love the Empty Bottle. The DIY scene is very, very strong. There’s a new one every time. I’m kind of older than a lot of people in the scene. So how you were saying 'Wow, Chicago’s really popping right now…” I’ve seen several cycles take place. There was a point when I was younger when a place like The Empty Bottle would not book rock shows. They would only book very kind of indie stuff. I’ve seen it with highs and lows. And it’s always good, and there’s always stuff happening, but there’s definitely times where it’s thriving and that’s cool to watch," she says.

I try to convince myself that everything happens for a reason, and I just kind of stick to my vision, and good things always happen when you do that. You’re gonna have challenges. Be prepared for the challenges.
— Alex White on Being a DIY Musician

They Stay Entertained on the Road By Reading Wikipedia Pages

Since they're gearing up for tour (starting tonight), Alex and Francis discussed how they stay entertained on the road and what they're looking forward to on this particular run. Although Francis had been loading out for most of the interview with Alex, he jumped in for this question. 

"Reading Wikipedias is a very interesting way to observe a story of a person or place or event," Francis chimed in about their road trip habits. Off the back of that, Alex says, "I read books to him for hours at a time. I recently read the entire Mount Everest Into Thin Air book to him. I read the whole thing. We read Wikipedias...He drives, and I’ll read. Hours will go by. We’ll be like oh my gosh, you know that was 3 hours. Sometimes you read these biographies of like James Brown and you’re like crying at the end. You’ve started with the moment they were born and gone through their whole life, to the moment they died. It’s very emotional to go on that trek."

Although they educate themselves on the road by reading, the biggest lesson from touring and playing music is unrelated to Wikipedia and books. "I never really had to learn this lesson, it was just something we knew, but don’t leave your guitar or money in the car. Don’t leave your passports. Or the stuff you need. Ever," Francis says. Alex and Francis both emphasized the importance of knowing when to stick together and not splitting up while on the road. 

As far as where they're most excited to play on this run? "Meltasia," both of them said in unison when I asked. "I’m looking forward to Meltasia, but I’m mostly looking forward to the drive into Meltasia cause for my sister and I, it’s always a really special drive where we blast Led Zeppelin...we’re going deep into the woods, further and further and further away. Usually all we have is a case of beer and that’s it. No tents, no water, and we just know we’re gonna hang as long as we can, and shotgun as many beers as we can. The build up to it is one of my favorite feelings throughout the whole year," Francis elaborated. "It’s the anticipation of getting there. It’s the journey. A lot of people have told that to me in my life, and now I really, really believe that," Alex chimed in. 

Despite Her Vintage Style, Alex Admits She's Bad at Thrifting

Again, if you've seen White Mystery around, chances are you've noticed Miss Alex White's incredible retro inspired style, and no one pulls it off as well as she does! Fortunately for Alex, she's able to acquire most of her clothes, she says, admitting that she's not actually that great at thrifting. "A lot of my stuff just comes from my friends. I get a lot of custom made clothing now. When I went to The Grammys I had this amazing custom made jumpsuit. I was the Vice President of the Recording Academy for the Midwest. So I’d go to the Grammys and get to walk the red carpet with all these cool clothes," Alex reveals.

Alex also gave her mom props for being a great thrifter, even though that didn't pass down to Alex.  "What I love shopping for is shoes. These shoes, they’re just really practical and comfy, just wood platforms...I’ve had so many versions of this kind of shoe. We were in Beverly Hills and we played on late night television, The Carson Daly Show. After we were walking around Beverly Hills. I was like oh, a shoe store, cool! I go in there and find these, they’re made in Portugal, I was like oh, I like ‘em...once in awhile treat yourself. So I bought these shoes, I left the store, and I look at the storefront and see this is like an old lady shoe store. I just bought shoes from like an orthopedic shoe store," she recalled. 

Alex's once last piece of style advice? "I don’t buy vintage shoes...vintage clothes, but never vintage shoes. I was crossing the street once in a vintage pair of shoes, and my heel broke, and I wiped out on the street. I was like never again!"

Check out all of White Mystery's tour dates below and keep up with them on social media.

White Mystery: Facebook. Twitter. Instagram

09/01/17   Experimental Procedures Chelsea, MI Details
09/02/17   Happy Dog Euclid Tavern Cleveland, OH Details
09/03/17   Arsenal Lanes Pittsburgh, PA Details
09/04/17   The Pharmacy Philadelphia, PA Details
09/07/17   St. Vitus Brooklyn, NY Details
09/10/17   Meltasia Fest East Durham, NY Details
09/11/17   Bug Jar Rochester, NY Details
09/13/17   State Street Pub Indianapolis, IN Details
09/15/17   Trumpet Blossom Iowa City, IA Details 
09/16/17   Farnam Fest Omaha, NE Details
09/22/17   Ingenuity Fest Cleveland, OH Details

Also- Listen to White Mystery's 8th album Fuck Your Mouth Shut below!

A Chat With: Farebrother

If you're looking for your next favorite rock band, look no further than Farebrother. Hailing from Bath, England, the quartet combines driving guitar riffs, boisterous sing-a-long choruses, and dynamic drum beats to craft their own refreshing style. Composed of Tom Hunt, Michael Vowell, Matt Day, and Owen Stephens, the band have just released their new single "Rewind" earlier this month, which served as a follow up to 2016's Rapture EP. As the group are gearing up to release even more new tunes, we chatted with with Tom, Michael, and Owen about the direction they're headed, UK Festivals, their favorite new bands...and even their hidden talents. Get to know more about the band and what's next for them in our chat with Farebrother!

Photo Courtesy of Farebrother

Photo Courtesy of Farebrother

ANCHR Magazine: When did each of you first get into writing and playing music, and how did you all come together to form Farebrother?

Tom Hunt: Well, myself and Michael (Lead guitar) have been writing and playing together since we were about 13 or 14. Matt (Drums) and Owen (Bass) have also been playing from a very young age individually, but it was only until, through another band, that myself and Michael met Matt. From then, after that former band had dissolved, we created Farebrother. Then about a year or so down the line, we'd heard from Owen who then made Farebrother the four-piece that it is today.

AM: Who and what are some of your biggest influences, both musically and non-musically?

Michael Vowell: Musically, I've always been a massive fan of The Eagles. Aesthetically, I really Ken Loach's films.
Tom Hunt: I'm a big film enthusiast, so I get a lot of good inspiration from film dialogue and soundtracks in particular.
Owen Stephen: I love The Maccabees, also a fan of Twin Atlantic... I've always tried to emulate people I like listening to in whatever I do really.

AM: What’s a fun fact about each of you that not many people know? Could be a hidden talent, a hobby, etc...

OS: I've been on a West End stage in full body lycra suit hahaha!
TH: I used to be, and still technically am, a tennis coach haha! So if you need a few tips from anyone in the band, I'm your guy.
MV: I really wish I had something interesting about me... I'm struggling to think haha... I'm related to the drummer in Mott the Hoople? Is that good enough?

AM: You recently released new single “Rewind,” which I love! It’s the first release since your debut EP last year, so is this song just a preview of a lot more to come? What other teasers can you give about upcoming releases?

TH: It is definitely much more of a progressive step for us. And more music that is yet to be released is just a step forward from "Rewind", as "Rewind" was from the first EP. We're always striving to better ourselves, and we're very hard-working in that respect. The new music and tracks we've got lined up, hopefully to be released inside this year, are so much more developed than anything we've put out so far, in our eyes. We have a lot more up our sleeve and can't wait to show off our full potential.

AM: You recorded in Rockfield Studios, which has hosted some pretty legendary acts (Oasis, The Pixies, Royal Blood). How was it to work in that studio, and do you have any interesting stories from your time spent there?

TH: It was pretty incredible working there. All the history, all the stories... it was crazy. We had a great set of people there with us that really helped make the most of our time there, and you know, with all the mad things that you hear of coming from the studios there, in hindsight, we really contradicted that, haha! For the time that we spent there we really knuckled down and worked hard to get the most out of the track. I wish I could say that we had some crazy rock'n'roll stories to tell, but we were so taken by the place that we just wanted to get the most out of it we could really.

AM: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would you want to work with and why?

TH: That's a hard one... For us, it would have to be with someone who we'd want to be mates with afterwards, the collaboration would just be a means of getting to that point. Elton John maybe, he'd be a good guy to hang out with.

AM: Earlier in the month you shared a Spotify playlist of some of your favorite songs. Are there any other new bands or new albums out recently that you can’t stop listening to?

TH: A band called Neon Waltz have just released their debut album, I've watched them a couple times in the past, and yeah their record doesn't disappoint at all.
OS: Flyte's debut album is so great. Also the Queen's of the Stone Age's new album is amazing.
MV: Yeah I agree, Flyte's is a brilliant album for me.

AM: You’ve got a couple of gigs announced, but any plans for an upcoming tour?

TH: There's always opportunities and ideas in the pipeline for us, we like to be ahead of ourselves as much as we can. I can't really say whether or not we do, but I definitely wouldn't rule out another tour this year or early next year. It's just a matter of how things fall into place really, at the moment.

AM: Speaking of gigs, you’ve played a few festivals this summer, including Dot To Dot Festival. What were some highlights of the festivals you played?

TH: Yeah Dot to Dot was great this year, we had such a great crowd and it's definitely been one of out favorite gigs of the year so far, there was such a great energy on that day. Another good one for us was Tramlines in Sheffield. It was only our second gig in Sheffield and it's always ace to make our way up there. The venue we played was great and we were well received, more so than we could have imagined!

AM:If you could perform anywhere in the world, which venue or festival would be at the top of your list?

TH: For me, it has to be the Royal Albert Hall in London. It's such an extravagant and massive place. That would be incredible.
OS: Obviously it's Glastonbury for me, as it probably is for most. But also the Bristol Downs Festival, that would be great as it's such a huge one, and even more local than Glastonbury!
MV: Yeah definitely Pyramid Stage haha, might as well aim for the top!

Keep up with Farebrother on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

Listen to Farebrother's Looking To Friday playlist below!

A Chat With: Emily Warren

Although she just released her second solo single, called "Something to Hold on To," last month, singer-songwriter Emily Warren is well versed in the pop music scene. Your ears may recognize Warren as the vocalist behind the addictively catchy hook in Frenship's viral song "Capsize," or as the mysterious guest vocalist in The Chainsmokers' hit song "Paris," but most of her extensive resume stems from work done behind the scene. With songwriting credits for some of the biggest names in music, including Shawn Mendes, Charli XCX, and Melanie Martinez, there's no doubt that you've heard at least one of Warren's songs. She's toured the world with The Chainsmokers and even won a Grammy, but now Warren's focus has shifted to writing for her first solo album. While you await her debut album, check out our Q&A with Emily Warren for the scoop on her first ever song, her nomadic lifestyle, upcoming collaborations and more! 

Photo Credit: David O'Donohue

Photo Credit: David O'Donohue

ANCHR Magazine: How old were you when you wrote your very first song, and do you remember what it was about?

Emily Warren: Oh god, yes. I was 10 years old, I had just put it together in my head that people wrote songs and that was a possibility. I wrote it about the boy I had a crush on at the time, and it was called "Facing Confusion." It had a thunderstorm theme and I was simulating thunder, lightning and raindrops on the piano... no one ever needs to hear that song, haha!

AM: How does your writing process vary when you’re writing for somebody else and when you’re writing your own songs?

EW: At the end of the day, the processes are quite similar. Whether I'm writing for myself or with someone else, I'm really only interested in writing about the truth. My sessions typically begin with a long conversation - I want to make people comfortable to open up to me so that the song is meaningful to them. One, because there is something very rewarding in helping someone get their story out, but two, I believe that if you write about something honest and true, you will be touching on something that other people have felt, and that, to me, is the beauty of music.

AM: Between writing Grammy Award-winning music and touring with The Chainsmokers, you’ve already accomplished so much this year! What do you consider to be the biggest achievement to come out of your hard work in the industry?

EW: Aw thank you so much! The fact that I get to wake up and do what I love every day is my biggest achievement, the rest is bonus. 

AM: At the moment, which song of yours (that you’ve either written for someone else or yourself) is your favorite, and why does it stand out to you?

EW: I've got some things I'm really proud of that are not out yet, but of the things that are released, one of my favorites is a song I did with Astrid S. on her first EP called "I Don't Want to Know." At the time we wrote it, it was a story that was really resonating with the both of us and I remember getting the mix back and crying my eyes out in my bed. I'm really proud of the song, the lyrics, and the structure - I think none of us were concerned with any "rules" of songwriting which ended up making it quite quirky and strange but that's something I really love about it.

AM: With being born in New York and now working in Los Angeles and even spending some time in London, what have you learned about yourself as an artist by dabbling in those different music scenes? In relation to that, do you think that working in such culturally contrasting cities has influenced your songwriting?

EW: One hundred percent - I've always wanted to travel and see the world and the fact that I can do that with music, and meet like-minded people that I can create with in all these different cities is truly the most amazing thing. It is quite shocking how different the writing culture is from LA to London to Nashville to New York. I've picked up bits from each place and been inspired by the people and streets of the different cities so it has definitely influenced me as a person and therefore my writing.

AM: Where are you in the process of writing your own debut album, and can we expect an Emily Warren tour soon?

EW: All the songs are pretty much written for the album and we're now just finishing up recordings and productions. As for a tour, eventually yes - but nothing planned at the moment. I want to get some more music out first and then figure out what that would look like.  

AM: Do you have any other collaborations in the pipeline?

EW: I've got some stuff coming out with Melanie Martinez, and have been doing more work with Sean Paul, David Guetta, The Chainsmokers, and actually just went down to Nashville to work with a bunch of Country artists so I'm very excited to see what comes of that!

AM: If you could co-write a song with any artist, dead or alive, who would you work with?


AM: What’s your best piece of advice for someone trying their hand at songwriting?

EW: NEVER compromise what you believe in - if you have a gut feeling, you're probably right, and you should stick to it regardless of how much resistance or push back you have to face to make that happen.

AM: Lastly, who are some of your favorite new artists that you can’t stop listening to?

EW: Right now I can't get enough of the new albums from SZA, Harry Styles and Lorde. 

Keep up with Emily by following her on Twitter, Instagram, and Spotify.

A Chat With: Toothless

"Even toothless, she can still bite off a boy's head." This is the quote that inspired Ed Nash of Bombay Bicycle Club's newest project, Toothless. Following the project's inception, 2017 has already been a whirlwind for Nash. After releasing the collaboration-laced debut album from Toothless, The Pace of The Passing, back in January, Nash has already followed up with a six song EP, Palm's. The project has also been constantly expanding the live show, playing festivals like Secret Garden Party and the upcoming Reading and Leeds Festivals. Before Toothless hits the road to tour the UK and Europe, find out more about the inspiration and influences behind Toothless...including more on the quote that started it all. Nash also talks new music and his collaborations with the likes of Marika Hackman, The Staves, and Liz Lawrence. Get to know Toothless now!

Photo Courtesy of Toothless

Photo Courtesy of Toothless

ANCHR Magazine: When did you first decide to branch out to your own side project and start working on Toothless?

Ed Nash: I have always written and recorded my own music, and had intended to release it long before I got 'round to it. My commitment to Bombay Bicycle Club kept on growing over the years as the band got bigger, and as a result I didn’t have the time to put into my own project. It was only at the end of 2014 when we decided to take a break after touring the last Bombay record that I finally had enough time to do it! I had the name and a lot of the ideas beforehand just not the time.

AM: The story behind your moniker is quite interesting, with the inspiration stemming from a Raymond Pettibon drawing with the caption “Even toothless, she can still bite off a boy's head.” When you were writing for the debut Toothless album, The Pace of the Passing, did you find yourself drawing inspiration from different forms of art, and are there any particular influences that stand out?

EN: Absolutely! All of the album and single artwork was inspired by a Charles and Ray Eames show that I saw at the Barbican in London. There was a video called "The Power of Ten" that was my main focus. A lot of the songs on the record draw from Greek myths and The Odyssey. I like using preexisting stories in my own songs to help get my own points across.

AM: The album also featured a few different collaborations, like “Palm’s Backside” with Marika Hackman and “The Sirens” with The Staves. How did these working relationships with these artists come around and what was your favorite part about the collaborative songs?

EN: Most of the features on the album are people that I was lucky enough to have met through touring and playing shows over the past ten years, Liz Lawrence sang with my band throughout 2014, and we played multiple shows and shared studio time with Wild Beasts. That's not to say that I used these artists only because I knew them personally, they couldn’t be gratuitous or for the sake of getting cool people on the record. For example Tom from Wild Beasts has a beautiful baritone voice, the opposite to the way I sing, and the part he recorded really needed that style of singing.

AM: Who else would you love to work with in the future and why?

EN: I really want to work with my favorite producer Dave Fridmann. The timing’s never been right so far as he’s a busy man. I’m not going to stop trying.

AM: You just released the EP “Palm’s” earlier this Summer, following the debut LP released earlier this year, which is quite a quick turnaround! Have you already started writing for the next album or EP?

EN: People keep saying it's a quick turnaround but to me it feels quite slow… As this is the only thing I do I think I get very impatient. I’ve started writing and recording the next full Toothless album and hope to get that out at some point next year. I’ve also got an idea for another EP, I haven’t told anyone about that yet though!

AM: Taking the songs to the live sense then, what is the usual band setup for your shows and what are some of your favorite songs to play out live?

EN: It's taken the best part of a year to get the live show to a point where I’m fully happy with it. As I played almost everything on the record, it was very hard to adapt the songs to work with a live band. The live show now consists of a 5 piece band with two guitars, bass, keys, drums and a hell of a lot of singing. I absolutely love playing "Sisyphus" live, not only is it the most upbeat song in the set but we have added a Kraut Rock style outro that gets pretty wild!

AM: You’ve got some shows in the UK and Europe this fall, but any plans to tour stateside soon?

EN: We don’t have any plans to head to the US at the moment unfortunately, though I am incredibly keen to get back soon. We played two shows in New York and Los Angeles at the beginning of the summer which were some of the best shows we have done.

AM: On the same subject of tours, you’re playing a Sofar Sounds show on September 20th to support Amnesty International and Give a Home, which is such a great cause to be involved with! Are there any other charities or causes that you’re passionate about?

EN: Yeah, I’m really looking forward to the Amnesty show! Over the years I have done quite a lot of stuff for Amnesty International and I love the Sofar Sounds shows too. It’s going to be a great event. With Bombay we did quite a lot of shows for the Teenage Cancer Trust. They are a truly fantastic organization. I will always continue to support them.

AM: What new music are you listening to lately that you’d recommend to your listeners?

EN: This week I have been listening to the new Grizzly Bear record. I love it, though, I am probably biased… I fucking love Grizzly Bear.

AM: Anything else coming up in the next year that you’re looking forward to?

EN: I’ve decided I want to paint my next record cover which I’m super excited about. I painted the cover to the Bombay record Flaws but haven’t done anything proper since then. I have been painting small portraits over the past few months to get my technique up to scratch for the real thing.

Keep up with all the Toothless updates by liking the official Facebook Page, and listen to The Pace of The Passing in full below!

A Chat With: Canyon City

The multi-talented singer songwriter, producer, and musician Paul Johnson is gearing up to release his second album, Constellation, under the moniker Canyon CityBased in Nashville, Johnson stands out with his smooth, flowing vocals, which he weaves with indie-folk acoustic melodies. Out in October, Canyon City's new album will showcase a more layered and developed sound from Johnson. To celebrate the release of the newest single "Midnight Flight" and the onset of the sophomore album from Canyon City, we chatted with Johnson about his writing process, pushing his limits in recording, the story behind his viral cover, and what's next for him. Get to know Canyon City now!

Photo Credit: Jordan Merrigan

Photo Credit: Jordan Merrigan

ANCHR Magazine: When did you very first decide to start writing songs and make music as a full time profession?

Canyon City: I think the first time I decidedly went for it was probably about halfway through high school. Music has really been around most of my life...both my parents played in a folk trio when they were in their 20’s. I guess folk stuff was around growing up. I picked up the guitar when I was a really, really young kid, and did what I could to learn it. It probably was about halfway through high school that I started writing. I think that was the turning point, and I kind of started to find an early voice in that. Sort of a new level of expression and satisfaction of doing it. At that point I was sort of addicted. I kept that going, and then moved to Nashville when I was 18, kind of using the excuse of college to do it, but then dropped out of college after a year to play music. I’ve been here ever since.

AM: Nice, do you still remember the very first song you wrote?

CC: Sort of. I remember a handful of the first songs, neither of which do I have much desire to relisten to, but you gotta start somewhere!

AM: For sure. Now you’re gearing up to release the sophomore album. What have you noticed as some of the differences with the songwriting and recording process between this album and the debut?

CC: Well with this one, it expands a bit. I think part of the reason I went out into some new sonic territory and some new instrumentation experimentation is because the first record was right after I built up my studio, and I’d done a couple EPs. I was still kind of learning the ropes. The first album Midnight Waves was pretty folky, pretty acoustic...partially because I was just learning the ropes of my setup here, and also because I knew when it comes time to play that live, I wanted to be able to play solo sets in addition to full band sets. With this one, I felt a lot more confident in the studio and in the production. I felt like I had a workflow down. So things that might have taken me awhile to figure out with Midnight Waves, I already had down for this one. It sort of allowed me to find things that I didn’t know how to do again. In this case, there’s a lot of percussion in a way that I hadn’t before for Canyon City. I also opened up the opportunity to hash out some instrumentals so that I could bring a band on the road should there be the opportunity for it. I really...with feeling a little bit more confident in the work flow, I sought out challenges and things that would expand the sound further. Production wise, I think this album just experiments a bit more. It still has the same heart and soul; songs that can survive with just an instrument and a voice. I always want to make sure it’s not something where I couldn’t play it to a room of people with my guitar if I wanted to. There’s a little more room for it to blossom and grow outside of that.

AM: Very cool! Is there anybody musically or even non-musical influences that might have inspired you when you were writing?

CC: Yeah, I’m always pretty steep in folk and alt-folk guys. Jason Isbell is an incredible writer. David Ramirez... I really love his stuff. I also listen to a lot of stuff that’s totally out of my wheelhouse... I think people would be surprised. My recently played on Spotify is sort of all over the place. It was a lot of relationships that end up getting jumbled up in the writing process, a lot of what’s going on in life.

AM: Is there a common theme that threads through the album that you could pinpoint?

CC: For Constellation, the reason why it’s called Constellation is something that was a conscious and subconscious theme. Just sort of the contention of the life in your head and the life that you’re living in reality. As a musician, as a writer, you can feel that if you’re producing good work in your studio, that sort of counts as enough living, but you think 'I really need to get out of these four walls and engage with the world and write that story.' I think a lot of it is you take a look at yourself and the world, both being in your 20s and the world being in its current state, and you sort of see a lot of---I’m trying to find the right way to articulate it, but there’s a few points of light that you’re searching for. You sort of try to create a shape of what you’re hoping to make out of it, but most of the time, you spend in between those points of light. Those are the times, and sort of that unknown thing, which is where the constellation metaphor comes from. That’s the central metaphor, and every song goes into a mini story of that. There are songs like “Like I Did,” where that’s kind of like what a raw, real honest chunk of life looks like, and then there are other songs like “Satellite,” that talk all about the distance and being a little bit lost in the darkness between those points of light. If anything, that’s probably the most central theme across the record.

AM: Very cool, it’s sounds really relatable! So you mentioned a little bit when talking the recording process that you want to be able to strip the songs down or build them up for a full band, so do you have any plans for tour? I know you have two shows announced in October, in LA and NYC.

CC: Those are definitely the quickest coming up. I’m gonna do one in Nashville too with some friends, as sort of a release show. After that, the next route of touring will probably be early 2018, although I do want to tour this one out quite a bit. We’ll do those handful of shows...we just got back from an East Coast run that was kind of similar. It was a run of three shows up along the east coast, and also a stop to make a music video in Rhode Island. We’re trying out these first few runs, and once we have it down, we’ll hit it harder in 2018.

AM: What’s the current live setup with the band?

CC: There’s a couple configurations. One is it can just be me. When I’m out in LA in October at the Hotel Cafe, that will probably just be a solo show with me. Then when we’re doing full band stuff, it’s usually a three or four piece depending on who’s available. Usually drums and percussion and someone on keys. If we can, we’d like to get bass in there too, and me on guitar, switching back and forth between electric and acoustic. This fall will be sort of interesting, every show will be a version of one of those three shows. LA will be solo acoustic, New York will be a percussion and guitar thing, and Nashville will be full band.

AM: So being based in Nashville, what have been some of your favorite parts of the scene? What are the pros and cons of being a musician in a music city that can be saturated at times?

CC: Saturated is definitely a good word for it, but it’s something that I think a lot of musicians go through when they come here. It’s both exciting and seems weird to wherever people grew up or came from that doing music or pursuing music professionally is kind of commonplace here. I think pretty quickly people feel overwhelmed in just the sea of talent that is here. Inevitably, it’s a good thing cause it sort of forces everyone to get better. I definitely had to learn how to rise up and do this on a higher level. Nashville sort of forces you to do that. There’s also a lot of saturation, and music is everywhere. I think something I’ve come to peace with is that Nashville, although it’s my base and where all my friends are, I realize that musically, my audience is elsewhere. There’s definitely people in Nashville that follow Canyon City, but I find that the concentration of Canyon City’s audience tend to be other places. I live here, but I feel like an average Joe in the city. I think that’s the reason a lot of musicians like living here is because it doesn’t matter if you’re a musician or an’re treated the same way.

AM: Any Nashville based musicians that you would recommend to your listeners?

CC: There’s a group The Ten out of Tenn group. It’s been a minute since they put something out, but it’s a revolving group of Nashville artists. There’s some really good people, like Matthew Perryman Jones is a really solid dude that I’ve learned from in that group. Jason Isbell being out of Nashville too, I really love his stuff.

AM: Cool, any particular new music or new bands elsewhere that might not be a similar genre? Like you said, your recently listened to on Spotify might surprise some people…

CC: Weirdly, I go on--especially when I’m producing a Canyon City record...I’m not really trying to be folky, but it just sort of comes out. But because I spend so much time in it, I sometimes seek out stuff that’s totally different. Like I’ll drill out the new Jon Bellion record into the ground to get out of my sonic headspace and comfort zone. It’s kind a reset for me. I’ll go all over the place, regardless of genre.

AM: Yeah, totally! So the cover that you did of “Fix You” by Coldplay went pretty viral on Spotify. What was it about that song that drew you to create your own version of it? Any fun story behind it?

CC: It’s a great song, and it’s also a song that’s been around for a minute. When I thought of doing a cover, I didn’t want to do something that was just a flavor of the week thing. I thought that was an incredible tune. It wasn’t too premeditated...I was just writing one day and I think I was just taking a break. It initially was just for fun, and I decided to take a break and record someone else’s song. The funny thing about it was that I tried to take it down...not because I didn’t enjoy the song or the cover...I really enjoyed both, but I was afraid people were going to think of me as a cover artist because it was right before Midnight Waves came out. I always have and always will love that song, and I think I was overthinking it, but I was afraid people would peg me as a cover guy and I’m about to put out a new record. So I reached out to see if it was possible to at the very least temporarily take it down, and then two months later is when it started to go viral and pick up. It ended up being a huge boost to my original content, and that’s something I’m very grateful for. “Fix You” has been an entryway into Canyon City, and then people will actually explore the original content afterwards. I totally almost self-sabotaged, but I had a blast making the song.

AM: Anything else that you’re looking forward to this year besides potentially touring and the album coming out?

CC: Yeah, the album coming out, and there’s gonna be some videos that come with it too, which I’m really looking forward to. We don’t have a ton of video content, so I’m really excited that’s gonna be coming along with this record. Then next year, I’ll be putting together some plans for tour and even more new music and more writing. Because I have this home studio, I never stop, but I think I’m gonna be building a separate facility in the next six months or so, which I’m really looking forward to. But mainly just releasing music, playing some shows, and really getting face to face with the people that let me do this as my job, which is still kind of dumbfounding. I really enjoy that in-room interaction and being in the moment.

Keep up with Canyon City by liking the official Facebook page, and listen to the new single "Midnight Flight" below.

A Chat With: Marika Hackman

There's a point in almost every great artist's career where they reinvent their sound, branching out into unfamiliar territory and pushing past boundaries in the name of creativity. For Marika Hackman, that turning point came early on when she revamped and built up her songs for her sophomore album I'm Not Your Man, released June 2nd on Subpop Records. Teased by the lead single "Boyfriend," Hackman made it clear early on that this new record wouldn't be the same flowing folk tunes from her first record. With the backing of The Big Moon and its honest and direct lyrics, "Boyfriend" boosts a fuller and more candid attitude that set the tone for the whole album. Bolder and braver lyrics cut through on tracks like "My Lover Cindy" and "Violet," where Hackman maintains her direct focus, but the songs still drip with beautiful, metaphoric language. 

This past month, Marika Hackman has been on the road in America with The Big Moon, bringing the songs they recorded to life onstage each night. Before the supergroup took the stage at Schubas Tavern on Friday night, Hackman talked about the challenges she faced while creating this record, while also recognizing the joy she got from embracing that fear of the unknown. Also revealing the origin of her budding relationship with The Big Moon, Hackman discusses the tour, other influences, and even The Spice Girls. Get to know this evolving singer-songwriter now, in our chat with Marika Hackman. 

Photo Credit: Steve Gullick

Photo Credit: Steve Gullick

ANCHR Magazine:  So I first wanted to talk more about your album I’m Not Your Man. It’s quite a departure, and you’ve talked about that a bit before, saying you should be a bit afraid when creating art because otherwise you’re not growing and not challenging yourself. Can you elaborate on that process? 

Marika Hackman: Yeah, totally! Well, I knew I wanted to change the genre. It wasn’t that I was bored or fed up by writing kind of more sombre songs, I just felt like I was in a very different place mentally, and also the songs I really enjoyed playing live were the kind of like heavier stuff. So I was thinking a lot of the live show, and my recording process up until that point had always been sort of controlled. Sort of taking each layer and manipulating that each time and doing take after take after take. I thought recording something live and capturing the energy of something rather than trying to control it all the time would be a real challenge for me, personally. Cause I’ve never done that before. That’s kind of where the challenge lay. Being more honest and frank with my lyrics. That was kind of a scary thing to kind of process for me. There was moments of doubt, there was moments of fear during the process. Like you said, I embraced that. I think it’s a healthy thing. It ended up being so much fun. By the time we were actually in the studio recording it, it was so much more fun than being on my own.

AM: I love how it starts off with the laugh in “Boyfriend” and it goes right into that. You can just tell you’re having fun with the recording!

MH: Yeah, all of those 8 tracks with The Big Moon...they’re live tracks that we did. All of us playing at the same time, and adding little bits on that. The rest of it, I’d lost 4 musicians so I had to layer a bit, but stuff like “Round We Go,” me and Charlie still did the bass and the drums live together.

AM: I always like the live albums better. It’s more organic. I know you also said you avoid listening to new music when you’re writing. Do you find anything else that you can specifically pinpoint as inspiration for the album? Whether that be a movie, a friend, or anything else? 

MH: I don’t know what I was doing with my time- I think being stressed about recording, but I normally read a lot. I love reading books. I didn’t read any books for the whole of it, for that year. I find it really bad, but my concentration span was awful. There’s a direct influence from a friend on there, I have a friend called Gina, she’s one of my best friends. “Gina’s World” is about her and our friendship, how we’d kind of do anything for each other. So that was a direct influence. And entering into a new relationship, which I’ve now been in for like 2 and a half years, that was the beginning of that. Kind of falling in love, and like lust and exploring all that as well. It was kind of more like people around me and my life...I’ve been living in London now for like four years. I think that kind of fed into it. It was more of a media record, a lot less references to nature. 

AM: Cool, and then you obviously just mentioned recording with The Big Moon and they’re on tour with you now. How did that relationship first come around and what’s your favorite part of working with them?

MH: Oh it’s just so great! Me and my girlfriend went to one of their shows. It was November, maybe like a year and a half ago? Coming up on two years now. We watched them play and they had this amazing energy on stage. It was really exciting to watch. Me and my girlfriend were like, I wanna be their friend! We hung out with them that night after the show...went and got drunk and the pub, and kind of just became friends overnight. We saw each other like four times in the next was one of those friend crush little moments. So then cut maybe 6 months later...maybe less even...I was talking with my label and my management about how I had said that I wanted this live sound, but I didn’t have any way to facilitate that because I didn’t have a band. We were throwing some ideas around and they said how do you feel about approaching The Big Moon cause your friends with them? It was one of those things where I wanted that, but I was too scared to kind of say it. When you have a friendship relationship with someone, it’s hard to bring work into that, like maybe they might feel like they have to. Anyways, I was like yeah that’s perfect. So I asked them over a pint one night, and I was really bright red and terrified. I was like don’t answer now, go away, talk about it, and thank god they said yes! We started like a month after that. Rehearsing and recording. It’s just nice, and this tour as well has just been...I don’t know what it is...Just being on the road with your friends. And playing music that you all really enjoy playing. It’s just so nice. This tour could have been horrendous because we haven’t had a day off. Our days off are considered 15 hour drives. So we’ve been in the van, and we’ve been playing shows. We haven’t been able to explore like any cities. That could be so horrendous and draining and shit if you’re on the road with people that you just don’t feel that you connect with. But actually, and I’m speaking for myself, but it feels like we’re having a nice time. We’ve only got like a week left now.

AM: So are they backing your set too?

MH: Yeah they’re doing a double shift every night! They’re playing their set and then we all play together. The fact that they’re playing two shows every night blows my mind. They’ve got stamina.

AM: So what have been some highlights overall of the tour? Any favorite cities, even though you haven’t seen much of the outside world?

MH: Last night in Milwaukee we had a really funny show. We all lost our minds onstage. Jules had a giggling fit, and we were all just going completely mad. It was really strange, but hilarious. Even just the views from the van. Seeing the landscape change. We’ve driven across the whole of America. That’s been incredible, and I think something not a lot of people actually get to do. Which is really cool. I just love hanging out, playing xbox, watching The OC in the back of the van. It’s kind of just felt like a sleepover during the day and then just hanging out and playing shows.

AM: What have been some favorite songs to translate into the live sense? I know it was tracked live so that must have been easier to carry over. 

MH: We’ve got the 8 that they played on in the record. Then we’ve got “BlahBlahBlah” which is one where I did everything myself cause they’d all gone off by that point. That’s been really fun playing that with them and the big wigout rock section at the end is really fun. Then we’ve also got “Ophelia” and “Cinnamon,” the two much older tracks we’ve rejigged to fit the set, and they’re kind of a lot heavier.

AM: Speaking of “BlahBlahBlah,” that’s the song you’ve mentioned kind of has an ode to The Spice Girls, right? So which Spice Girl do you identify with the most?

MH: Oh, that’s interesting! When I was a kid, I had bright blonde hair and everyone used to say I’d be Baby Spice, but I think I was a bit of a Sporty. I always just wanted to wear the tracksuit!

AM: What are your thoughts on a Spice Girls reunion?

MH: I think it’s maybe better if they just left it. It’s such a fond the time in my life, it was so iconic. I think if they tried to do it again, it might ruin that. 

AM: Tracking back to The Big Moon and the album, I interviewed Alex Lahey a little while ago, and she recommended “Boyfriend” when I asked what new songs she was listening to. She brought up the Pitchfork article that said something like "Marika Hackman is Out to Steal Your Boyfriend." So what’s another crazy interpretation you’ve heard of one of your songs?

MH: Oh, I’m trying to think... That was one that really pissed me off. That’s quite fresh, so that’s right at the front of my mind. With such a big publication as well! It really feels like there should be stuff with this record. My stuff before was so open to interpretation that I just didn’t mind. I kind of let that happen... It’s always funny seeing what people think the lyrics are. Particularly for older stuff, it’s so wrong. My mum always sends me stuff.

AM: On this record then, were you aiming to have a more specific interpretation of each song?

MH: Yeah! I don’t know if I felt that beforehand, but certainly when I was writing I was aware that I was being a bit more frank and a bit more direct. Sort of speaking normal language a bit more rather than like pushing the more poetic side, and doing metaphors and all that. I didn’t sit down and say I’m gonna be like this, but I think it started happening, and I thought it suits this music a lot more. If you’ve got like guitar lines that are punching, and heavy drums, you need to have lyrics that are gonna cut through that and just hit. Rather than floating above.

AM: So last month you released a video for your song with Toothless, and you've collaborated with The Big Moon a lot. Anybody else you’d love to work with?

MH: Yeah, I’d love to work with Kevin Parker. I’d love to work with Stella [Mozgawa] from Warpaint. Or any of Warpaint, but particularly Stella because her drumming style...everyone I know thinks she’s like the best drummer ever. And I think it’d be really interesting what would happen with that.

AM: Yeah I’d love to see that! Any other songs or bands that you’re really into at the moment that you’d recommend to your listeners?

MH: Yeah, there’s MUNA from LA which I love. I’ve been smashing that album since it came out. Constantly on!

AM: You had said you’re an avid reader, so any books you would recommend?

MH: I’m a huge Donna Tartt fan, and The Secret History and The Goldfinch are like two of favorite books. For this tour, I just bought The Little Friend. I finished it two days ago, and it’s fucking awesome. I just think she’s such an incredible novelist, and the way she writes-- the way she describes things is really beautiful and inspiring and dark.

AM: Nice, I’ll check that out! Anything else you’re looking forward to this year?

MH: I’m looking forward to getting the first batch of songs done for the new record. And feeling like I’m making headway with it.

Keep up with all of the updates from Marika Hackman by liking her Facebook page, and listening to I'm Not Your Man in full below. 

Can't get enough Marika? Read our review of her show at Schuba's Tavern here. 

A Chat With: Public

Public just wants to get to know you. In fact, even on their Facebook page, under the category "band interests," the only thing listed is "You." If you attended one of the trio's recent tour dates on their Sweet Lemonade Tour or follow them on other social media, you'll be quick to find out that's a genuine statement from them. 

As an unsigned band, Public have still managed to put out top quality recordings of their indie pop tunes over the years, full of sticky, sing-a-long choruses and upbeat melodies. They just have to work a lot harder to get those radio-ready songs out to their fans, old and new, but don't underestimate them. John Vaughn, Ben Lapps, and Matt Alvarado have never been more ready to roll up their sleeves and build their foundation from the ground up. After already opening for fellow Ohioans Twenty One Pilots and racking up more than a million Spotify plays on their song "Pretty Face," the band have already reaped some reward from their hard work, but their momentum only continues to grow. 

If you're looking for great music made by authentic musicians and even more genuine people, look no further than Public. In our chat with them last month, Vaughn, Lapps, and Alvarado have some fun revealing interesting facts about each other, but they also clearly communicate the message behind their music. In this interview, you'll not only find out Public's pet peeves and their last Google search, but you'll get an insider's perspective of their vision and their mission as a band. Get to know your new favorite band, Public, now. 


Public at Schubas Tavern last month

Public at Schubas Tavern last month

ANCHR Magazine: Let's start things off with some tour talk then. Since being in the van with each other, what have you learned are each others’ biggest pet peeves?

Matt Alvarado: Ben hates dabbing.

Ben Lapps: I don’t dab.

MA: So I dab just to bug him.

BL: Now it’s more of like a game between us. Matt dabs cause he knows I’ll roll my eyes, and then I roll my eyes cause he dabbed!

MA: I know for me, I hate when people put away my stuff.

John Vaughn: No, we’re supposed to say something for you!

Matt: Oh, you say for me?

JV: Matt hates when people move his stuff. Matt hates when something that he organized gets arranged a different way.

MA: Usually I’m very odd about where I put things. I could put my phone inside a refrigerator and I’d know exactly where it is. Someone could be like oh, this is Matt’s phone. In the fridge. I should give this to him, and then I’ll go back and be like where’s my phone?

BL: John identifies every single smell that he comes into contact with.

MA: That’s not a pet peeve!

BL: This is a very interesting thing.

MA: What annoys John?

BL: Smells, I think! 

JV: I’m very very descriptive. I really, really dissect a smell. I shout it to the band...

AM: You guys just did a tour diary video, part one. John you had said in it that you want people to come to the show and find something of value in the live show that you don’t have on the record. How do you arrange the songs then, or format the set? Is there anything you consciously do to add that value?

JV: I think from my perspective, we have a lot of little moments either in the beginning of a song, or in the middle of a song, or after the song where there’s space to add something that we think will highlight that song. I think it’s cool when someone does like a weird intro and then it goes into that song that you know. I think this is one of the first times where we’re crafting and building a set where we’ve tried to do a lot of that. We’ve got some instrumental jamming that we do that we haven’t done since we started. We kind of brought that back. Personally I love when a band can sound like their record, but I also like to go to a show and be surprised by the things they do. That’s the way I would describe it.

AM: Is there an artist that you think can do that really well? Like a show you’ve been to recently where you could pinpoint that?

BL: In my experience lately, the guy who’s doing that best is Jon Bellion. His live show is SO different than what’s on the record, just in like the most fun way. Have you seen his live show?

AM: Yes!

BL: His band is like just this incredible group of musicians and they just play, and they kill it. That’s my vote!

MA: I was just gonna say about the live set...a lot of the people who initially started liking us and our music is because we had fun onstage. I think that’s something that we can like really, really do onstage. We’re musicians first and foremost. A lot of what’s on the record is kind of compressed into a more pop format, where everything sounds a certain way and has a certain space. When we’re doing it live, John is a great guitarist, Ben is a great drummer, I’m a very okay bass player--

BL: He’s very good!

MA: We just have so much fun playing our instruments the way we want to play them. People resonate with that. They see we’re having fun and they wanna have fun too!

JV: Not to get too in depth on this one question, but just to add on what [Matt's] saying….On this tour, we’re musicians first. That’s how we were trained. We get a lot of joy from jamming and feeding off each other. Now what we’re really adding to this set is just engaging with the crowd a lot more. Even just these first few shows, it’s been a blast. That’s something you maybe get from our album, but it’s a nice change. It feels like the whole event is just collaborative with everybody. It’s like if we’re gonna have fun, we gotta all have fun! We’re gonna force you to have fun.

AM: Ok so shifting gears a little bit...If you could be stuck in a elevator with anybody, they could be famous, dead or alive, who would you pick?

MA: How long are you stuck?

AM: A couple hours, maybe. 

BL: Are you stuck just to have a conversation and then we get out, or do we want someone that can help us get out?

JV: I would say the guy who invented the elevator cause he’d probably know how to get out.

MA: Maybe Tom Cruise cause he’s in a lot of action movies.

AM: It could be someone you’d just want to have a conversation with too!

J: I might have a different answer later, but probably J. R. R. Tolkien. I just watched all of the Lord of the Rings movies again. All of them, they’re amazing. I hadn’t watched them in a while, and being older I think I took a lot more from them this time. I read into them a lot more. So I would love to just talk to the person who wrote all of that, and pick his brain.

MA: I think I’d pick my brother.

BL: I was gonna say my mom!

MA: We’ve been calling back and forth every two, three weeks, but it’d be nice to sit down and just talk. He’s also small so he wouldn’t take up a lot of space.

AM: So you guys are working hard as an unsigned band. I know a lot of bands now are gearing more towards being independent so they can have more control over their artistry. What do you guys see the pros and cons of being an unsigned artists, and the struggles and rewards come with it?

MA: I think our mindset has changed drastically from when we were first starting as a band. We just started working with new management. We have a new team. A lot of the cons I saw being an unsigned band are kind of pros. Just the organic growth that we’re going through now seems so much more up our alley as ways we want to grow as a band, than if we just got signed to a label and got funneled money. This tour that we’re doing is a perfect example, we’re doing all these stops that we haven’t hit or we haven’t hit in three years. We’re just seeing who enjoys our music, who’s heard of us before from maybe radio or Spotify. Then just growing through them instead of just having a song on a radio promotion. It just feels so much more genuine. To see these people face to face.

JV: I agree. Early on, I think with every band, the Golden Carrot is to get signed. When you’re young, sure whatever. You don’t even know what that means... You’re like heck yeah! I think Matt’s right. The past 6 months we’ve had a rebirth of the band. Building a completely new team that we’re super happy with, and the new music as well... it’s really given us a respect and a hunger to get to know the people that like our music. It’s not many people right now. So grinding like we are on the Sweet Lemonade’s really fun cause like every person that comes out it’s like man, that person said yes tonight. They like that one song that they like however much to pay $10 to come see us in Chicago. That’s huge! It’s an opportunity now to let them know that. We make it a point to thank them. Also to what Matt said, if we had gotten signed early, and I’m not saying there’s only one way to do things once you get signed...but if we had been given an advance early, and they just shoved our songs on the radio, and we didn’t have to go through that trial by fire… it’d be like oh you have a song on radio, people are gonna hear you just because they’re in their cars. We didn’t get that. So we kind of had to find different and interesting ways to do that. It’s kind of like it builds character. It’s almost like when you’re a kid and your parents make you do a job or chores...there’s a reason you do that. I feel like that’s what it’s like.

AM: Yeah that’s exactly what I like about having my own blog! So on the same track of new music, Ben I saw on Twitter you had asked fans for new music recommendations. What are some of the favorite recommendations from your followers, or just songs you guys are already into at the moment?

BL: We listened to the new Sir Sly record. Especially like the first few tracks. That was really dope. Let me check what else…

MA: Someone brought up Skott!

JV: I’ve had a music crush on her for a while!

BL: Who’s the British guy everyone brought up?

JV: Simon Cowell?

BL: Young guy!

JV: Declan McKenna! It’s cool to see him doing well.

BL: Besides that...who else? I tried to listen to at least one song from everyone that recommended something.

AM: Yeah, that’s great you guys are open to that!

BL: Absolutely, I love swapping music recommendations. Everyone’s got a little bit of different taste, but odds are if you like our music, we’re gonna overlap at some point. You probably like the same things as us.

AM: While you have your phones out, what’s the last thing you Googled?

JV: I usually have weird stuff!

BL: “Video Juegos”-- Video Games in Spanish! Matt and I were talking about it, we couldn’t remember what the Spanish word for video games was!

JV: How did you do it so fast?

BL: I have the Google app!

JV: Oh- what the word “SKRT” means in Urban Dictionary...SKRT.

MA: Mine is Quincy Jones! It goes Rashida Jones...Rashida Jones' Dad...Quincy Jones.

BL: Really? They’re related? I didn’t know that!

AM: So if you guys formed a cover band, which band would you exclusively cover and what would you call it?

JV: I bet we could actually---and I don’t want to bring this up because I think it’s such an oversaturated thing with musicians to bring this up and laugh about it, but I think we could actually kill as a Nickelback cover band. I mean that seriously.

BL: He does a really funny-- it’s funny cause it’s so accurate-- Chad Kroeger impression.

JV: I think we would actually kill it

MA: What would our name be?

AM: Some pun on nickels or change?

JV: Pennyfront?

BL & MA (in unison): Pennyfront!

AM: Forget Nickelback, it’s all about Pennyfront! So if you weren’t making music, what would your dream job be?

BL: Baseball player.

JV: Acting!

BL: No wait, chef! Baseball chef. The chef for the Cincinnati Reds, and sometimes they’d let me play!

MA: I don’t know… I haven’t really thought about that. It used to be the other way around. I went to school for engineering and I wanted to be a musician. Now I’m a musician and I want to to go back to school for engineering. I’ve never thought about that! Probably some sort of athlete, but my body is broken so that dream died a long time ago.

AM: So what else are you guys looking forward to this year?

JV: I’m just excited to do more of exactly what we’re doing tonight. I just wanna keep touring. Because every show, there’s just something different--this is our first headlining tour, maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s just that simple, but it just really feels like we’re playing for keeps now. We’re really going for it and it’s really cool. I’m excited to literally keep going. I want to release new music and go tour off it again. I’m not looking for any shortcuts, or like a song to go viral. I just want to go meet the people that listen to us.

BL: And make like friend fans.

JV: Yeah, like make them feel like they want to really get behind what’s happening. We want to recognize that we can’t do it without them.

MA: I’m excited to see what comes out of the rest of these shows. Who comes to what many people. How many we’ve seen before, how many people are new. Stay off, recuperate for a month, then go right back on and see if the same people come out. See if anything grows, if anybody resonates with it. I think that’s gonna be our new route for a while now. Just headline a bunch of shows. I could not be more excited.

JV: It’s just like an adventure. It hasn’t necessarily felt like that in the past. There’s just something in the air.

Public still has one more date of their Sweet Lemonade Tour, but keep up with all future tour dates hereand listen to their EP Sweet Lemonade in full below!

Can't get enough of Public? Check out our review and photo gallery of their show at Schuba's last month here. 

A Chat With: Bunny

In what seems like such a short amount of time, Chicago’s own Bunny has already become a local legend of sorts. The project came around when frontwoman Jessica Viscius decided to pick up a guitar, start writing songs, and basically never stopped. After enlisting the help of her twin sister Alexa and friends Shane Prewitt and Tim Makowski, the full band formed and began playing shows around town. From shows they curated themselves, like the inaugural Scrapyard Fest, to shows at Coles and Hideout, Bunny have already checked off some of the best venues for discovering music in Chicago...and that’s just in their first year. This Friday, the band will join another set of siblings, Brian D’Addario and Michael D’Addario, who are better known as The Lemon Twigs, for their official Lollapalooza aftershow at Schubas Tavern. Before the show, we chatted with Viscius about everything from her first musical memories to breakup advice and more!

Photo by Alexa Viscius

Photo by Alexa Viscius

ANCHR Magazine: What was your first musical memory growing up? Either the first concert you went to, the first band you fell in love with, or something that sticks out as being monumental to your love for music.

Jessica Viscius: My parents are deadheads so I'm lucky to have grown up listening to pretty good music. It's corny but the first band I fell in love with was probably The Beatles. I have a vivid memory of being like 11 years listening to "Let It Be" on my bright pink walkman laying in bunk bed quietly crying because John was dead and I'd never be able to see The Beatles live.

AM: With Bunny being such a new project, you’ve already gained a lot of (much deserved) attention from listeners. Songwriting seems to come so naturally to you, so what’s your advice for anyone wanting to venture into writing and creating their own music?

JV: When I write songs I just focus on the vocal melody. Everything falls into place after that.

AM: What are some of your favorite parts of the Chicago music scene, from the overall community to favorite fellow bands and favorite venues

JV: I've met a lot of people in the last year who are not just great musicians but artists in general. There is a lot of collaboration in the scene, people offering to make flyers, take photos, make a music video, do liquid lights, or musicians jumping on other projects, filling in on shows, laying down a track for a recording, whatever! 

AM: Your band is very DIY with your visuals. Not only do you make your own graphics and posters, but Alexa even filmed the music video for “Promises.” How did you come up with the concept for that music video?

JV: I came up with the idea for the music video when I was walking around Logan Square one day on my lunch break feeling hung over and manic.  I was listening to “Promises” on my headphones and thinking of all these different unrelated brief scenes filled with tension that were all sort of manic in and of themselves. I went to work and scribbled a story board and we filmed it that weekend. My sister Alexa, who plays bass in the band shot it and I edited it. The whole thing took about 5 hours. It was really fast and kinda sloppy, just like the song.

AM: Along those lines, you recently posted on Instagram about changing your icon to reflect the band entering the “blue period.” Do you have a usual creative process for the visual work that you produce alongside your music?

JV: No not usually. I was just really sick of the pink color we were using at first. Every millennial brand is using it right now. The "Blue Period" is a little nod to Picasso for sure though.

AM: In your Stereogum premiere (congrats on that by the way) for “Not Even You,” you mentioned you wrote it when you and Alexa were both going through breakups. Besides writing a song about it, what’s your best breakup advice?

JV: I'm probably the last person you should ask about breakup advice but I'd say a good tip is never memorize a partner's phone number-- it makes breakups much easier.

AM: On the same subject of new music, your EP Sucker will be out later this summer. What can you tell us about the songs on the EP and the mind-frame you were in when you wrote the rest of it?

JV: I was pretty depressed when I wrote this EP. It's a breakup album for sure. I was just learning to play guitar when I wrote it. It was nice not having to feel self conscious about my lyrics or about writing a two chord song because the only ones listening back then were my dog and cat. I wrote it alone in my apartment before I could ever really imagine myself playing shows or releasing an album.

AM: Your Lolla aftershow with The Lemon Twigs is just around the corner! Are you planning anything special for the set since it’s a big show?

JV: We're bringing in our friend Paul Cherry to play keys and probably a sax player. I want to trick at least one of the members into wearing a bunny costume or something.

AM: Speaking of Lollapalooza, who are some of your favorite acts on the line up this year?

JV: The Lemon Twigs, that's probably it. Lollapalooza is scary.

AM: Circling back to being DIY and the Chicago music scene, you guys also put on Scrapyard Fest earlier this summer, which featured a killer line up (so bummed I miss that- I was out of town). Any plans to put on more shows like this in the near future?

JV: We might make it an annual thing. It was too much fun not to do again.

AM: Besides the EP, anything else this year you’re looking forward to?

JV: We're playing with our friends Deeper at The Whistler on August 23rd, The Hideout with Dent May on September 2nd and a show with Hoops at The Bishop in Bloomington on September 15th, really looking forward to those shows.

Keep up with Bunny on their Soundcloud and go see them at the shows coming up in August and September!

A Chat With: RÓSA

The indie pop group RÓSA have been turning heads left and right lately, including that of another ANCHR favorite, Bishop Briggs. Based in Orange County, the trio have just released their sophomore EP in June, following their debut EP Gypsy Queen. For fans of LANY, MUNA, and Nightly, the Wasteful EP is full of guitar riffs and synth melodies that will be sure to get you grooving. We got to know more about the band by chatting with frontman Will Winters, including their dream collaboration and what's to come for them in the next year. Tune in and get to know your new favorite band now!

Photo Courtesy of RÓSA

Photo Courtesy of RÓSA

ANCHR Magazine: When did you first get into writing and making music individually, and then how did the band form and start working together?

RÓSA:  I started writing in High School when I began learning the guitar. I was never interested in learning other people's songs, so instead I started writing my own. The band got together after meeting at a religious conference in college and we immediately connected and decided to work on stuff together. 

AM: I’m loving the new EP, Wasteful! I know it was recorded at HUM Studios in Santa Monica (which funnily enough, I’ve been there even though I live in Chicago!), but can you talk a little bit more about the songwriting and recording process?

RÓSA: Well, as it turns out, HUM doesn't exist anymore! Our producer has a studio in Malibu now. Working with Thrice Noble was very fun--we love him. I wrote our first EP on an acoustic guitar, but this time I wrote on tracks the guys sent me, as well as stuff I did independently. It was a very different process. Noble is also extremely meticulous, which only helped us learn more from working with him.

AM: Last year you guys also had a residency at the Wayfarer in Costa Mesa. How did that opportunity come around, and what were some highlights of the residency?

RÓSA: That came about after we showed Eric, the talent buyer, our music. We opened one show so he would be sure we didn't suck or something, and then we did it. The residency was a great way to introduce the band to our community. We had all our friends play with us on the bill show to show. That was the highlight, for sure. As we move forward with our music and business, looking back at the residency at The Wayfarer will always feel like our "start".

AM: What do you consider to be some of the pros and cons of being a band on the rise in such a saturated city like Los Angeles? Any advice for new musicians trying to stand out?

RÓSA: That's a hard question. The main pro is that there is always another band to be challenged by. But that's also a con, I suppose. I think LA is incredibly inspiring and we feel lucky to be here. My advice is to do and be exactly who you want to be. You will want to be like this band or that band and everyone will try to make money off you, telling you to sound like whatever is hitting at the time. Or they will ask you for songs that sound more like "singles". Bottom line: Just make whatever you want and act and dress however you want and hope a large enough number of people connect with it to make you rich. 

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

RÓSA: That's hard, too. I don't know anything new. But there's a band called Ruby Haunt that is amazing. A band called Midnight Faces put out an amazing record called Blue Haze recently. We have friends in a band called LA Qoolside and they are the future. Our pals in Roah Summit are absolutely amazing and their writing inspires and pushes us to be better. That's all I got. 

AM: What’s another hobby or hidden talent that each of you have?

RÓSA:  We have no hidden talents. I'm sorry to disappoint on this question. We all love basketball? I think it would surprise some people how much game we got. But I think people with game don't refer to it as "game" anymore, so you can't trust me. 

AM: Bishop Briggs just tweeted about you guys which is amazing! What was your reaction to seeing that tweet?

RÓSA:  She's incredible. It was very nice of her. She's gunna be the biggest pop star out there in a few years, so it was validating. 

AM: If you could collaborate with any artist, who would you like to work with?

RÓSA:  There are so many! Probably an older artist like Paul McCartney or Stevie Nicks or Neil Finn of Crowded House. But if forced to choose someone recent, we'd choose Devonté Hynes, Frank Ocean, or Bon Iver or something. Are we cliché enough? 

AM: What else is RÓSA looking forward to this year? Any plans for a tour?

RÓSA: We are going to release more music within the next few months so that's the most immediate thing! But yes, we will be touring in 2018 and are hoping to have a full length record for everyone by then! 

While you patiently wait for a RÓSA tour and more music from the trio, listen to their latest EP Wasteful below, and keep up with them on Facebook!

Get To Know: Sedgewick

The three members of Chicago's own Sedgewick have been through quite the journey since they first released their debut EP Gardens in 2015. First off, the group expanded when Jake Hawrylak joined founding members Sam Brownson and Oliver Horton. Secondly, the group has worked to broaden and reinvent their style of music. Cumulating influences from all different corners of R&B, Hip Hop, Rock, and Alternative genres and sub-genres, the trio have built a sound that's completely their own. With this distinct new sound comes a rebirth of sorts and a fresh slate for the group to take their music to different venues around their hometown and on tour. 

Last month before Brownson, Hawrylak, and Horton took the stage at SPACE in Evanston to support Family and Friends, I met up with them to talk not only about their new album, but the journey leading up to it. Find out which groundbreaking albums inspired them, what challenges they faced, what they love about the Chicago scene and more in our talk with Sedgewick. 

Sedgewick backstage at SPACE

Sedgewick backstage at SPACE

The New Album Hasn't Gone According To Plan...

But not in a bad way, the band say. While the album that the three members of Sedgwick set out to make may have been left behind long ago, the band are all extremely proud and happy with how their finished product has come out, even though it's far from what they first envisioned. Oliver Horton shared his take on the recording process saying, "It’s been really exhausting. It’s a lot of hard work. But it’s gratifying work. It feels really good to get these in some sort of place where we can send them off to people and be really proud about it. I’m super proud of it. I really think it’s gonna accomplish what we want it to. A lot of planning for this has just all sort of fallen by the wayside. What we planned to do with it." Horton continued on to reflect about the effect on the band that this change in route had, saying, "That alone has created a bond between the three of us that we’ve never had before. Sort of dealing with that, dealing with that totally unexpected has caused us to grow deeper together. I think that’s really starting to show up in the record. It’s been really interesting. Just rolling with the punches and seeing what we can come up with."

Jake Hawrylak echoed that sentiment on the recording process, adding, "It’s been very eye opening. It’s been very enlightening in a lot of ways. Hands down the biggest thing any of us have been a part of, not just in terms of budget, but in terms of scope. In terms of sounds… I think where we’re at on a personal level too." Sam Brownson weighed in on the biggest challenges of the process, saying for him the mixing proved to be the most difficult. "The hardest thing is to draw the line for yourself and as a group and saying this expresses what we want it to. And also being ok with saying if it doesn’t we can’t control how it’s gonna affect someone that listens to it. It’s a lot of trusting instincts. I’ve learned how to sit down over the course of recording and just do what feels good," Brownson said. 

Their Influences Range From Bon Iver to Frank Ocean 

In addition to the departure from Plan A, the band have also had a departure from the strictly folk sound of their EP. Their live set opening up for Family and Friends incorporated so many layers and took so many twists and turns. Before they performed, the band gave a little bit of insight as to where that influence stems from. 

Brownson shared his influences, saying, "When the Dirty Projectors record came out, I....that changed how I thought about mixing. I’ve also been listening to a lot of hip hop music lately... Like SZA and Kendrick Lamar’s new record. From a mixing perspective, the space that those records create are very influential."

Hawrylak also found some specific influence from Kendrick Lamar and other artists. He shared his insight on specific records that made his year, adding, "It’s been interesting to me to watch a lot of the bands we play with and a lot of Chicago industry people who keep talking about how the record’s dead. That everybody just needs to start releasing singles or songs. Then something like Damn. comes along. Or A Seat at the Table or Blond and they’re very much---[they] needed to be records. There’s a very specific narrative. Or on the non-hip hop side, the new Fleet Foxes that just came out is very much a record. The songs exist in their own framework, or one thing at a time. But there’s this specific arc that I think it captures. Which is so much of what was enjoyable when I really started to get into music. The records and getting lost in the world it creates. 22, A Million, the Bon Iver record, huge one for me last year." 

Brownson interjected to say that they listened to that Bon Iver record a lot while making their record. Hawrylak continues, "'Creeks' was one of the more frustrating songs I’ve ever heard. That was a sound that we wanted on the record. Then that came out and we were like that’s exactly what we were trying to do." Tying back into the change in path for the album, Brownson says, "It’s also a credit to how much space this record has spanned for us. Cause we were in the studio when 22 A Million came out. Since then, Dirty Projectors. Damn. I just remember seeing like all that stuff came out and saying wow, this has been a journey."

Hawrylak says the band are also able to measure their own personal growth through these records and how they've evolved for him as a listener. "Blond is a great example. That record meant something very different to me when it came out to like a year later. Particularly to that album, half of the songs I loved and half of them were like ah whatever. Then in that year, I’ve come around to see what was brilliant about those other songs," he said. Brownson echoed that, saying, "I think that over the course of the year...the advantage of making a record over the course of a long time is that you internalize what’s going on around you. You can’t help but be influenced by the trends, or the energy and culture going around. I feel like that was very--initially you think you want to get it out right away. Which, I think there’s merit to that, but I also think there’s something about sitting and letting it marinate and you as a creator, listen and try to understand its relevance. So that’s been very cool."

They Consider Chicago's Music Scene Eclectic and Collaborative

Although Hawrylak disagrees with some fellow Chicago musicians who think the record is dead, the band are all very appreciative of the collaborative scene that Chicago is known for. As far as his favorite musicians, he says, " Astro Samurai is like one of the coolest bands I’ve seen. They call themselves 'Third Eye R&B.' They’re working on something special." After Brownson interjected to show his appreciation for NoName, who they don't know personally but very much admire, Hawrylak eagerly agreed that the Chicago poet and rapper is one of his favorites as well. 

Hawrylak continued on to say, "Saba is another one. We did a Sofar Sounds with David Ashley. He was the MC. He was really cool. For me so much of what’s cool is it’s rooted in poetry in a very particular way. NoName came up in the local After School Matters program. There’s a very distinct cadence to her flow that comes from that. It’s casual and maybe that’s what I like about the Chicago scene. It’s casual and eclectic. Like NoName is casually rattling off this fucking rapid fire, weird twist of images, then she starts singing and then she goes back. Jamila Woods is another one! Good god!"

Brownson then called attention to the spirit behind so many of these up and coming artists in Chicago, saying, "I think for me, the collaborative spirit and friendship. From what I read about NoName, she’s got a lot of people and this music community where they all look out for each other and help each other out. That’s just not the way I was brought up to think about the music industry. Just a group of friends getting together making good music? It was always like, sell your soul so you can continue to do this. Instead of saying no I want to have deep relationships with people. That’s part of the reason why I connect so deeply with her music, and Chance and Saba and all those people because they invite you in. It’s just this spirit of friendship."

Horton concurred with his bandmates observations on the city's spirit, saying, "It’s a small city! Especially considering the music scene." Bouncing off that small city sentiment, Hawrylak said, "Look at like the people on Acid Rap. It’s all Chicago people. It’s the whole record. That was my first exposure to the scene. I was playing bass with a guy named Brendan Forrest, he goes by B. Forrest. He’s friends with a lot of the Sidewalk Chalk people, who connected me to Jude [Shuma]. When I met Brendan, he needed a bass player, and we got connected. He started showing me his tunes and first record he came out with, was every other track was with somebody. Now he’s working on a new one, and every track is about collaboration."

Brownson wrapped up his take on the Chicago scene saying, "If you just are a good person, it pays off. Even if you don’t make big bucks, you’re gonna be happy with your relationships. If you decide I just want to make good art for the right reasons... I want people to hear it, but I’m not gonna fight and shove it down people's throats to make a dollar."

Horton chimed in with an influence of his who holds similar values, saying, "Another musician for me, is Jamie Chamberlin. He’s been a huge mentor to me. He has exemplified exactly what an old guy on the scene needs to be doing. I’ve seen a lot of musicians treat each other really poorly. It’s amazing to see a dog as old as him and how frequent he’s been on the scene, how lovely he is to be around. You can tell he’s an amazing human being. He honestly cares about you when you show up to a gig. Seeing that has made me realize what’s so amazing about music. Treating people with respect. Giving them integrity when you speak to them. Making sure everybody is held accountable for what needs to be said. I feel like that has really taken a ramp up at least in our band, as far as accountability and integrity. Seeing that roll around all these really cool scenes in Chicago is really interesting to me."

They Describe Their Live Show as Intentional Disorientation

At the Friends and Family show, the band performed the entirety of the new album to the crowd. Talking more about the set, Hawrylak said, "We’re kind of doing the whole record backwards, which is funny. I think. I’m really liking the ones that sound bigger than they should. I like the ones that take people by surprise when we have a lot of other loops and stuff going on. We were just on tour back home where I’m from, in New Mexico. One of the cooler things that one of my friends said was that she didn’t know where anything was coming from after a while. It was hard to tell who was creating what sound. I think I like getting in that space of intentional disorientation." 

Although they managed to create this layered and intense live set now, Hawrylak admits it's quite challenging to get there at times. "The way we play the songs live is a little different.  For better or for worse. We’ve been running into a lot of problems with sound guys when we pull out this upright, these synthesizers, all this gear...they’re like what the hell? And they’re immediately mad. Then after check, they start to kind of get that it’s supposed to be a little different. With the record we’re kind of trying to balance how do we make it it’s own thing that’s still a faithful representation in the live set. Cause we have strings and a choir and all this other stuff on the record. Live, it’s just the three of us," he said.

Brownson mentions some highlights of their recent live shows. Talking about their recent tour, he said, "We got to see Jake’s hometown. The music was incredible. The shows were incredible. But I think we all kind of had time to just spend time together as people and talk more about what and why we do music. Why we love and respect ourselves. Why it’s important to do that. In the process getting to know Jake and also Oliver who was going through some stuff. We were all going through stuff together. That relationship is a huge part of why this record feels so good and it’s a huge part of why the show is how it is because of this energy."

Industry people keep talking about how the record’s dead. That everybody just needs to start releasing singles or songs. Then something like ‘Damn.’ comes along. Or ‘A Seat at the Table’ or ‘Blond’ and they’re very much—-needed to be records. There’s a very specific narrative.
— Jake Hawrylak on making a proper record

There's a Lot More to Come in 2017 for Sedgewick 

The band is obviously ready to get the record out to listeners, but they're also ready for what goes along with a proper album release. Hawrylak elaborates, saying, "I am excited about putting out the record. It’s been a long time coming and it’ll be good to have it out in whatever form. I’m most excited about the new perception we can give people of ourselves. A lot of the songs on the EP were just completely different from where we are going with the record. I wasn’t in this band for the EP, so I can’t say much more than I like the songs. But I’m really proud of what this record has become. I’m really proud of a lot of the journey that became of it. I want to share it! We did three different tours to wet our feelers in the name of this record. I’m kind of ready to start going out and bringing it to people."

Horton reveals what he's most excited for with the upcoming release, and even afterwards saying, "I’m really psyched for scheduling and doing the PR and making sure we’re really super ready to have a huge release show. We’re really looking forward to cultivating something that nobody has ever seen before. Maybe more importantly, I’m getting super stoked to get back in the creative process with these people. Whenever that is, I think the next whatever it is, it’s gonna be much more webbed together. It’s gonna feel really good to create something again. These songs at this point are like...we’ve recreated them so many times. One of the tunes is four or five years old. We’re ready to just wipe the slate and start over." 

The band continue on to say they're currently performing songs that have been around for over three years, but they still feel fresh thanks to arrangements they're worked out. They also admit they're at peace with the process taking as long as they need, saying, "We’re no longer at the point where we just want to put out the record when it’s done. We kind of want to raise some interest. And do it right. Put it in the right hands."

The trio don't have a definite release date, but they're just enjoying the process. "That’s really important. I’m looking forward to having a fresh ear for new things and I feel like this record has been--what’s great about it is, this whole thing is a process. [The record] reflects the process. The process has led us to some really cool things for the next project as well. That’s what this record is-- it encapsulates an evolution in itself. I’m excited to share that," Brownson concluded. 

Photo Gallery of Sedgewick at SPACE

Sedgewick will performing at The Beat Kitchen this Sunday, August 6th to celebrate the release of their single "To Fold" from the upcoming album. Tickets start at $10 and you can grab them here

A Chat With: Izzy Bizu

The London based singer-songwriter Izzy Bizu may have toured and collaborated with some of your favorite bands, but one listen to her songs like "White Tiger" or "Lost Paradise" and there's no doubt she's got the vocal chops and the writing talent to stand out completely on her own. Influenced by a broad range of artists, from James Brown to Amy Winehouse, Bizu fuses together soulful pop music with a touch of the blues and funk to craft fresh and irresistible tunes. Bizu has continuously picked up steam and gained a following after supporting artists such as Sam Smith and Rudimental, some hype from Zane Lowe and Annie Mac, and performances at festivals like Glastonbury. Bizu also sings on the duet "Someone That Loves You" with HONNE, which has racked up over six million Spotify streams.

Before she hits the road with Coldplay for their massive stadium tour next month, Bizu took some time to talk about her plans for the tour, from stage set ups to skateboarding, as well as new music, from her writing process to her collaborations. Find out all that and more in our chat with Izzy Bizu! 

Photo Courtesy of No Big Deal PR

Photo Courtesy of No Big Deal PR

ANCHR Magazine: I last saw you when you toured with Spring King and Sundara Karma in the States and played The Bottom Lounge. It was a really cool show, and I liked how it kind of mixed the different genres. So what were some highlights for you from that tour?

Izzy Bizu: I loved New York so much! Where did we end up? We ended up in Chicago! That was really fun. We had a really fun night. We actually got to know the bands really properly and really personally. We sort of went out together and had a bit of a dance, and that was really funny. That was really cool. It was so long ago!

AM: Yeah, it was ages ago now!

IB: It was a really cool experience, and I loved the music as well.

AM: Nice! So now you’re gearing up to tour with Coldplay on a massive stadium tour! What are you looking forward to on this tour coming up?

IB: I’m looking forward to meeting them all first of all! I’m looking forward to just getting to know everyone on tour. Just having the most amazing time onstage and losing ourselves. I’m really nervous as well. It’s such a big audience, but I think it’ll be okay.

AM: I’m sure you’ll do great!

IB: Yeah, hope so! I think it’ll be fine. It’s definitely going to be a new experience for me, but I think that everyone on the tour seems very loving and kind. I’ve got a few nice texts from people that are going and it’s really like chilled me out. I’m really looking forward to that!

AM: Are you planning any changes in your production then to fill such a big stage? Any new additions to the set? Or will it be just your same incredible show that you always put on?

IB: Thank you! That's so sweet! It’s actually gonna be a lot different. It’s gonna be smaller because the slot that we were given was an acoustic set. It’s gonna be quite electronic. It’s gonna be semi-acoustic and semi-electronic. I’ve got somebody doing beats and bass, and I’ve got my guitarist. I’m singing and sometimes I’ll be playing piano, and we swap around the instruments. It’s a little different, but it’s cool because I’ve been doing it the same for a couple years. It’s gonna be really exciting to do it in a different way. The songs have got a new spin on them now, which could be interesting.

AM: Oh that’ll be fun to see! It’s cool that you’ll be mixing electronic and acoustic settings. Are there any cities in particular that you’re looking forward to seeing? I’m sure there’s a lot more dates on this run than the tour last year in America [with Spring King and Sundara Karma].

IB: Yeah, absolutely! I can’t wait to go to obviously-- I can’t wait for New York! Canada! Oh my god, I can’t wait for that. I’ve never been to Canada in my life, ever. Miami should be funny. Where else? We’re going to Minneapolis as well. I haven’t really been to half these places so I don’t really know what to look forward to.

AM: New York you’re actually headlining your own show there. What’s the setup for that show then, and do you have anything special planned?

IB: That’s the same as well! There’s just three of us on stage. If you come, I guess you’ll see the setup, but it’ll be cool!

AM: Well I also heard that you love to skateboard in your free time whenever you have any. When did you get into that?

IB: I got into that when I was 17. Then I haven’t really stopped since. Me and my guitarist both skate, and we’re going to go in New York. The roads are so much better than our roads--our roads are so shit!

AM: Cool, so you’ll skate on tour. Anything else you do to stay entertained on the road?

IB: Probably read a book, play cards, make some music!

AM: So are you writing for the next record then already?

IB: Yeah, certainly finding some new sounds, that sort of thing.

AM: So for the new material do you have any plans to release anything soon?

IB: Not soon. Probably next year! Early next year. I’m gonna get back in September and sort of chill out and start writing before Christmas. That’s my plan.

AM: Nice! Well speaking of new music, I know you recently did that new collaboration with Milky Chance and I also love your collaboration with HONNE. Do you have any plans to collaborate with anybody else soon, or anyone else on your bucket list to work with?

IB: Yeah, I’d love to collaborate with Tyler, The Creator. I mean, it’d be nice to work with Drake one day but you’s a big world!

AM: Manifest it into reality, right? Just keep talking about it and maybe one day it’ll happen!

IB: Yeah, maybe!

AM: Then you actually performed the collaboration with Milky Chance live at a festival, so how was that experience?

IB: That was super fun! I had the weekend off and they were like do you want to come? I was like yep! As simple as that. Yeah, it was really sweet. They’re so fun to hang out with. I’ve known them for a few years now.  I met them four years ago. I supported them on one of their headlines randomly. Then we kept in contact and we started writing together...They’re really, really sweet.

AM: Very cool! So what new music have you been listening to lately that you can recommend to your fans?

IB: I just listened to Mahalia. She’s great. I’ve just listened to... oh I love Glass Animals! They’re so good! I saw them live, and I was like AHHH why haven’t I heard this before? I love them so much! I also love Tyler, The Creator. He dropped his new album, it’s brilliant!

AM: Anything else you’re looking forward to this year, besides the tour with Coldplay?

IB: I’m looking forward to writing new music. I’m moving soon and I can’t wait to be in a cocoon and write some new music. I’m traveling abroad for some other shows. We’re going to Thailand, which I’m so excited about! It’s gonna be a fun period of writing and doing some gigs abroad.

Izzy Bizu will be performing her headline show at Baby's All Right in NYC tomorrow night. Grab tickets here. For her tour with Coldplay, see all of the tour dates on her Facebook page, and grab tickets to the show at Soldier Field in Chicago here

To get ready for the shows, listen to Izzy Bizu's debut album A Moment of Madness in full below!

A Chat With: Middle Kids

With its relatable narrative-style lyrics and addictive, blaring dance-around-your-room guitar riffs, it's no wonder Middle Kids' song "Edge of Town" has racked up over 8 million Spotify plays. Fronted by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Hannah Joy, the Sydney based trio has been steadily picking up steam with their equally as catchy and relatable self-titled EP. Joy sings her stories with a sense of conviction and a hint of a twang, blurring the edges of the genres tagged to their music. In the middle of recording their debut full length album, which will undoubtedly expand on these existing themes, Joy and her bandmates Tim Fitz and Harry Day are taking a break to tour America, playing festivals and shows across the country. Before they hit Chicago next week, we talked to Joy about Elton John recommending their song, incorporating a banjo into their music, jet lag, and so much more! Tune in and get to know Middle Kids now. 

Credit: Maclay Heriot

Credit: Maclay Heriot

ANCHR Magazine: You’re in the middle of recording your debut album, and you’ve posted a bit on social media... that it will be all new material from the EP and you’re even putting banjo on some tracks! What else can you tell us about the new songs, and where did you find yourself drawing inspiration from?

Hannah Joy: Ha, yes the banjo does get a feature! It’s small but mighty. I’m really excited about the new songs, they are mostly quite intense. Sometimes I think I should chill out a bit, and I am trying, but I’m not sure how. There are some ballady, reflective moments though, so hopefully that will allow it to breathe some. A lot of the inspiration comes from my own experiences and stories I hear from friends. Musically though, many lines came actually from being on the tour and recording little sound bites on my phone.

AM: How has the recording process been so far? Any fun studio stories?

HJ: The process has been pretty intense, we’ve built this album in a really piecemeal kind of way. We recorded drums up at this country house so we could play away into the night. And so much was recorded in Tim's and my home, so for the last few months I have been living snaked in microphone chords and an endless stream of scraps of paper all through the house.

AM: You’ll be taking a break from recording to come tour the states this summer, including some major festivals like Lollapalooza and Osheaga Music Festival. Which cities are you most excited to visit and play in?

HJ: We are so very keen to hit the road. I’m excited to be in Chicago in the summer because it’s so beautiful, but we were there in the winter last time. Super keen for ACL because we consistently have extremely good times in Texas. AND Atlanta because we are playing at a venue called Purgatory and that intrigues me.

AM: Do you prefer playing festivals or smaller gigs, and why?

HJ: The smaller gigs are very special because it allows for a collective experience with us and the audience. But it is friggin fun to run around like a madman at a festival. But not really sure as to preference, they are both so good.

AM: Have you gotten a chance to check out the lineups for the festivals you’re playing? Are there any acts that are on the top of your list to try to watch during the festivals?

HJ: YES. Broken Social Scene and Liam Gallagher at Osheaga, Chance and The Lemon Twigs at Lolla, gosh so many, can’t breathe.  

AM: Since you’re coming all the way from Sydney for this summer tour, what are some of your tips for staying entertained on long haul flights and how do you deal with jetlag?

HJ: OK I have learned to equip myself with many activities for entertainment. Some are: Yahtzee, crochet, cards (we like to play 500, black maria and go fish), UNO. I also got a Kindle, which I was resisting for a long time, but now I have embraced it and it is rocking my world.

AM: Elton John added your music to his Beats 1 playlist, which I’m sure has got to be a career highlight, but what have been some other highlights since you released your debut single, “Edge of Town”?

HJ: I think touring has been the biggest highlight, I mean getting to travel to different parts of the world and connect with all different kinds of people is seriously amazing. Playing on Conan was very cool too because we don’t have television like that in Australia. We were wide eyed the whole time.

AM: You recently covered “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House and “Fill In The Blank” by Car Seat Headrest. What was it about these songs that made you want to create your own version of them?

HJ: I liked these songs for different reasons - I love the melody of "Don’t Dream It’s Over", it has sung to me for a very long time. "Fill in the Blank" is a special song in the way that it conveys existential angst, something I am very familiar with.

AM: Any ideas on what your next cover song will be?

HJ: We cover songs all the time because why only play our songs when there are thousands better out there to play. But not sure what we will release next.

AM: You’re one of our favorite new bands. Who are some of your favorite new acts?

HJ: Heh thank you. Some of my new favorites are a punk band from Ballarat called Good Boy, Andy Shauf is amazing...maybe not so new but still pretty fresh, The Lemon Twigs are tres cool.

Chicago, you have several chances to catch Middle Kids in August. In addition to a sold-out after show with Mac DeMarco at Concord Music Hall on August 5th, the trio will be performing in WKQX's Sound Lounge on August 1st. Finally, they'll also be playing twice at Lollapalooza-- once at the Pepsi Stage at 2:50 PM and again in the Toyota Music Den at 6PM on Thursday, August 3rd. 

See all of Middle Kid's upcoming tour dates hereand listen to their self-titled EP in full below!

A Chat With SHAED

Last week, we caught an incredible live performance from the DC trio SHAED at The Bottom Lounge. Prior to their lively and energetic performance that evening, we caught up with Chelsea Lee and her bandmates, twin brothers Max and Spencer Ernst. Together, the three craft catchy pop melodies that blend with Lee's soulful, powerful vocals and the clean production work of the Ernsts. After touring with acts like Bishop Briggs, Marian Hill, and playing festivals like Chicago's own Mamby on the Beach, Lee and the Ernst brothers are now back on the road with Sir Sly. Talking everything from Lee's go-to karaoke jam to new music and their favorite spots to eat on tour, get to know SHAED now!

SHAED for ANCHR Magazine 

SHAED for ANCHR Magazine 

ANCHR Magazine: So I wanted start off by talking a little bit about how you guys each individually got into writing music and eventually started producing it and making it together. 

Max Ernst: Two of us are twins, my brother and I. We got started playing music pretty young. Our mom got us taking piano lessons at a young age. From there we just fell in love with music and writing songs. We just kept doing it until now.

Chelsea Lee: For me, I kind of was always listening to music my parents love..alternative 80's. So I always jammed out to that. When I was in elementary school, I got a karaoke machine, so that became like my best friend. I would do that for hours and hours.

AM: What’s your go to karaoke song?

CL: The Carpenters were always a go to for me. I also loved doing the Christmas karaoke CD.

Spencer Ernst: Chelsea’s obsessed with Christmas to this day, so not surprised.

AM: So that started it all! So you guys have played a ton of live shows, even though you’re still working on the debut album. I saw you at Mamby on the Beach, you’ve toured with Marian Hill, Bishop Briggs....what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about each other being a band on the road so much?

ME: I’ve got one. When Chelsea’s asleep in the van, you don’t want to wake her up.

CL: Always make sure that I’m fed because I get hangry. We’ve learned that we don’t want to kill each other, which is amazing. It takes a special type of person to be stuck in a van for a really long time with each other.

ME: And we live together when we’re not on tour.

CL: It’s 100 percent.

AM: Nice! So what have been some of your favorite songs to play live then?

CL: We just released “Too Much” last week. That’s been really fun to play live. We actually started playing that live during the Bishop Briggs tour, which was a couple months ago. Everyone loved it so much and it got a really good response, and we decided that would be our next single. So that’s my favorite song to play out right now.

AM: I saw you did that cover of “Starboy,” too. What was it about that particular song that made you decide to cover it?

CL: Well we did Spotify sessions, and we needed a cover. We did one original and one cover. We were trying to think of a cool cover, and we immediately thought of “Starboy” cause that was such a jam.

AM: How is the debut album process going? Are you still working on writing it or is it mostly written and just needs to be recorded?

ME: I’d say that it’s going really well. We’ve got a lot of songs in the works right now. We’ve got a couple in the chamber that are closed to being released, but we’re still in the writing process right now. It’s definitely not totally done. We have a pretty good idea of where it’s going, and we have some singles ready to be released soon.

AM: How is it writing on the road then? Do you find that you get inspired?

CL: Yeah, these guys are constantly working on sessions in the car. I don’t know how they do it because I would barf if I looked at a computer screen for too long in a moving car. For them, they work on sessions in Ableton. We always want to be writing, honestly.

ME: There’s different ways that we write. When we’re in the van, it’s hard to like write as a collective group because of all the noise and people are doing different things. We work a lot on our own, just on beats and music on our laptops in the car. We also, when we have time...we’ll get a guitar out or piano and write stuff together too.

AM: So you guys are from DC, and the only thing I really know about the music scene there is 930 Club, which is a legendary venue. What are some of the best kept secrets from your hometown music scene?

ME: DC is definitely known for punk and rock, but there’s definitely a lot of really good R&B andd soul happening there. Marvin Gaye is from DC. There’s just a ton of really good soul music there too. The venues are really supportive, but there’s a really strong artist community. And really good house shows too. Some of the best shows are being put on by like a collective, that kind of thing.

AM: Do you have any particular DC bands you’re really into?

CL: Yeah we love...there’s a really cool band called April + Vista. There’s also a band called Dawkins. They’re also really cool, kind of experimental.

AM: What about in general, any bands you’re vibing with or you're influenced by?

CL: Right now we’re listening to Active Child a lot. Sigrid. We just got into this girl Chloe Howl, she just released a really awesome song. We always try to listen to new music, and each week, it’s kind of a different thing.

AM: Cool, how else do you guy stay entertained on tour besides making music and listening to it?

CL: We love to eat, so we’re always trying to find a good spot to get some grub. We also really like this game called Cribbage.

AM: Oh, what is that?

CL: It’s like an old sailor game, it’s a card game and it’s got a wood board. Love that game, so we play it a lot.

AM: Nice, keeping it old fashioned. So what’s been your favorite city to go to as far as the food goes then?

ME: Everything is kind of a blur.

CL: We have a special place in our heart when it comes to Wisconsin just because of the cheese.

SE: Actually, the last time we were in Chicago, we stayed in Chinatown, and we got some incredible dumplings there. We also had some Sake there.

CL: What was that place called?

SE: Imperial something-- After we had the food, we went to this little dive karaoke bar. It was actually a Korean karaoke bar right around the corner from Chinatown. We got our own private room and just like-

CL: Wailed for an hour!

SE: It was really fun!

AM: Then what else are you guys looking forward to this year? Besides touring a bunch...any particular shows you’re looking forward to?

CL: We’re doing the billboard hot 100 Festival in New York, which is gonna be fun. Plus we’re excited for new places on this tour. There’s a lot of places we haven’t been, like Colorado Springs. There’s a couple new spots we’re really excited to see!

Keep up with all of SHAED's updates, including any upcoming tour dates, by liking their Facebook page

Can't get enough SHAED? Also check out our review and photo gallery of their show last week. 

A Chat With: Upright Man

Blending elements of 1960's rock and roll and more modern alternative music, NYC rockers and college buddies Upright Man name everyone from Pink Floyd to Radiohead as influences. Listening to both the first and the newest singles "Upright Man" and "Animals," you can pinpoint snapshots of these influences threaded throughout their songs. Prior to the release of their self-titled debut album, the New York City trio chatted with us about the inspiration behind their creativity, their new music, and the best spots to catch music in NYC. The 10 track album is expected to arrive mid-August, and you can get ready by pre-ordering it and getting to know the upright men Aidan Dolan (guitar/vocals), Nick Katz (bass/vocals) and Max Yassky (percussion/background vocals) now!



ANCHR Magazine: You three actually met while studying classical composition at New York University. How do you feel that your background in classical music has shaped you as a songwriter and musician?

Max Yassky: It mostly helps us know what not to do. Not all classical music does this, but a lot of it focuses on expanding and developing ideas until they couldn’t possibly hold any more water. But in a songwriting context that kind of soundscape can sound cluttered. So we use what we learned to avoid landmines like over-development and brain-masturbation.

Aidan Dolan: I think the biggest influence that studying classical music has had on my and our writing styles is the use of mixed time signatures. I called up Nick and Max my senior year of college to play in my modern classical prog rock fusion trio, which was a result of the studies with my composition teacher at NYU, Ezequiel Vinao. The rhythmic difficulty of the pieces I was writing made us all feel like we could count anything and 7/8 became the new 4/4.

Nick Katz: I’ve been playing in rock bands since I was 11 - the classical thing was more of a formalization of what I’d been doing my whole life. I feel like people have this impression that we came to rock from classical music. That’s not really what happened, we all play rock and jazz and whatever else and have played that music, then we went to classical music as a bit of extra study and, yeah, it affected us as musicians, but it’s not our sole foundation.

ANCHR: Before meeting, what first got you into studying music in general? Was it a certain band or a family member/friend that inspired you?

MY: I wanted to go to Boca Raton to be a private investigator / high value transporter but my mother said she’d break my legs if I got shot in Florida so I went to music school instead.

AD: Music was always a hobby for my dad when I was a kid, so there were guitars lying around and a basic home studio to mess around in. My brother ended forming a band called TAUK with his three friends that is still around and doing well today. I always wanted to try playing, but when I finally heard The Beatles at age 11, I became obsessed. After taking an educational journey from The Beatles and classic rock to blues and jazz, I ended up at NYU for classical composition and sort of came full circle back to my roots with Upright Man.

NK: My father is a professional bassist with a list of credits longer and more prestigious than I could ever hope to come remotely close to. I’ve been studying music since I was four. It’s my life.

ANCHR: What can you tell us about Upright Man’s debut album due out August 18th? How did the writing and recording process for the record go?

MY: Well we didn’t have to threaten each other with Sarin gas so I’d say it went alright.

AD: We just kept on playing, writing and recording over 2 years until we felt like we had the right songs. Our most recent recording sessions leading up to the album release were a lot more focused and we felt a stronger sense of identity in our sound as a band.

NK: I don’t have much to add there, Aidan really hit the nail on the head with that one.

ANCHR: Which songs are you most looking forward to transcribing into the live setting?

MY: “Animals" is a lot of fun to play live; I’ve just got to work on my impression of a cockatoo.

AD: “Upright" Man”, the song, is probably the most fun song to play. We always play it at the end of our set and it can make you want to smash things.

NK: "Say What You Mean" is a real challenge. I like a good challenge.

ANCHR: Who are some artists that you’d love to share the stage with once you hit the road?

MY:  Robert Randolph and The Family Band and NRBQ were awesome stage-mates. It was a blast playing with them. In a perfect world I’d love to open for a late 90’s Beck at Sessions At West 54th.

AD: Though it could be a stretch to put us on the same bill, I’d love to share the stage with TAUK. My brother is the bassist and I’ve known those dudes a long time, so it’s somewhat of a guilty desire to share some road time with those dudes.

NK: I would do terrible things to get an opening slot with Dr. Dog.

ANCHR: Are there any up and coming NYC bands that we should all know about?

MY: I heard this dink band Upright Man is pretty alright. Not too Berny but not too savage either.

AD: Nick plays in another band called Dirty Bird that has some great songs and vocal harmonies.

NK: JIL, Uni, The World All Around - all great friends and great musicians. Well worth a listen.

ANCHR: Where are some of your favorite spots in NYC to see live music?

MY: You can’t go wrong with Rockwood. Goldsounds in Brooklyn is also rad.

AD: Irving Plaza was awesome last time I went. I’ve enjoyed a lot of shows at Rockwood Music Hall. There are so many great venues in the city.

NK: I really like Rough Trade in Brooklyn. Also Mercury Lounge is a really great room.

ANCHR: What else is Upright Man looking forward to in 2017?

AD: I’m really looking forward to releasing the music video for our unreleased song, “Ecstasy”. All I can say is we built a giant spaceship set in an old barn and Nick and Max were inhaling a whole lot of silver face paint and hairspray fumes.

NK: Yeah, I definitely lost some brain cells on that one. Art necessitates sacrifice.

See all of Upright Man's upcoming tour dates below, and keep up with them on Facebook here. 

7/22 Boston, MA @Cabot Theatre (w/ The Fabulous Thunderbirds)

7/23 Long Island, NY @Amityville Music (w/ Bad Rabbits)

8/17 Ocean City, MD @Fager’s Island

8/23 New York, NY @Bowery Electric

8/24 Sellersville, PA @Sellersville Theater (w/ The Fabulous Thunderbirds)

Get to Know: DEM YUUT

It's a Friday night in July, and Chicago's trademark humidity hangs in the air as Minneapolis band Now, Now are set to take the stage in Chicago for one of their first performances in over three years. Supporting the duo, fellow Minnesotans DEM YUUT will take the stage first to perform their experimental, alt-electronic tunes. Although the members of the quartet are each seasoned veterans in the music business, the DEM YUUT project only kicked off last year.  "We’ve all been in a lot of bands," says lead singer and songwriter Danny O'Brien. Elaborating on the band's formation, O'Brien continues, "We’ve all been friends for a long time. It was just kind of--I had this thing that I was gonna do as a solo project. I wrote a bunch of songs while my kids were napping, and showed them to everybody. They were like yeah you should make a band out of this thing, so that’s the gist of it." O'Brien also reveals that the origin of his musical inclination dates all the way back to young age of eleven years old, remembering that his song-writing father gave him a guitar and a chord book for his birthday. The rest is history. 

Bandmate Jef Sundquist interjects with his memories of the band's creation, saying, "My favorite thing is [Danny was] like 'I don’t wanna play guitar', and I was like 'I don’t wanna play bass', and that kind of changed the organization of the band. To where he was just singing, and I was playing samples and synth." Sundquist and O'Brien further demonstrated their adaptability as musicians when they later took the stage again to back Now, Now after their support slot. 

DEM YUUT is Danny O'Brien, Don House, Jeremy Hanson, and Jef Sundquist  Photo courtesy of Middle West Management

DEM YUUT is Danny O'Brien, Don House, Jeremy Hanson, and Jef Sundquist 

Photo courtesy of Middle West Management

Although the band have traded hats so to speak for the DEM YUUT project, their years of experience came into the play when the band recorded their debut album, tracking a lot of it live. With only one song "Dawn/Sea" officially released, the band express their itch to release more of it, but they don't have a definite timeline in place. "It's done, done. Recorded and mastered," O'Brien confirms. Talking more about the recording process and live tracking, O'Brien says, "We did some of it at my place. I have a studio in my house. We live tracked a bunch of the record, which is pretty sweet, for this genre of music cause it’s not all sequenced. We kind of went about it as if we were still a rock band, as far as tracking goes. We were all in the room together, making it happen. So the only overdubs were a couple acoustic guitar parts and my vocals. Everything else was cut together." By playing the songs out live, rather than focusing on overdubs and splitting up their parts, the group managed to save some time. "It was pretty much 9 songs in 10 days. A song a day to kind of get the vibe," Sundquist recalls. 

The recording process that the band settled on has made for an easy transition when it comes to performing their songs live, O'Brien says. Sundquist agrees, adding, "A couple of them were tricky, but it was always just like 'make it work'. It doesn’t have to be like the demo. The demo is just the idea....we get to make it work in a live setting." Speaking of playing live, DEM YUUT recently got the chance to perform at a concert that kicked off Eaux Claires Festival at The Oxbow Hotel, headlined by The Shouting Matches (You can revisit our recap of the show here). Guitarist Don House says the opportunity popped up because their manager is good friends with festival curator Justin Vernon. Remembering their time at the festival, House says Sylvan Esso's set sticks out as a highlight, while Sundquist favors the John Prine Tribute that featured countless artists from Vernon to Jenny Lewis, This Is The Kit, and Prine himself. 

It's no secret that Eaux Claires Festival evokes a strong sense of collaboration and improvisation every year, and DEM YUUT fit in perfectly with that common thread, having recently remixed The Staves. A staple of the Eaux Claires lineup, The Staves also fit right into DEM YUUT's circle. "I guitar tech for them. They kind of lived at my house last summer, and we became friends. Through that, they asked us to remix it," House explains. "That whole remix thing was just to kill time cause the record was done and we were not doing anything," O'Brien adds. As far as potential future collaborations, O'Brien says he's open to working with anyone, while Sundquist throws out Twigs, Kendrick, and Sza as suggestions. 

DEM YUUT and Now, Now's tour wraps up this weekend in San Francisco on July 16th, but O'Brien and Sundquist seemed set out to make the most of our while we chatted--both from an artistic standpoint and a personal level. Artistically, the band reveal they are able to stay creative and working on new material, even while they are still mastering their current live roster of songs. "I feel like I can write kind of anywhere," O'Brien says, while Sundquist adds in that they were both writing in the van that afternoon. The Chicago show was only the second show of the tour, followed up by a hometown performance for both bands on the bill. Despite the hiccups that any "first of the tour" show usually contains, Sundquist says, "There was a great sports movie comeback moment, where a song fell apart and we had to get it back together. It came back together and it was amazing." On a personal level, O'Brien says, "We’ve got a day off in New York City that’s gonna be pretty fun. Then like a half day off in LA. We should be able to do some fun stuff. I wanna go to a beach, I don’t care which coast. I love the ocean," also revealing that he won't get caught swimming in Lake Michigan, though.

The remainder of 2017 is still a bit up in the air for this rookie project composed of music veterans, but hopefully a new tour announcement and new music releases are just around the corner. Stay up to date with DEM YUUT by following their Facebook page, and get ready for the new music by listening to their single "Dawn/Sea" below!

Can't get enough DEM YUUT? Also check out of photo galleries of their show in Chicago on 7/7 here. 

A Chat With: NAWAS

It's pretty rare for a band without even an EP to their name to get placed onto major festival lineups like Hangout Fest and Firefly. But that's exactly what the Nashville based NAWAS have done this summer, in between working on their debut EP for Harvest Records. Composed of singer Jake Nawas, guitarist Ben McDaniel, and drummer Joey Gonzales, the trio have been turning heads with their addictive, unique tones and cross-genre sound that blends indie pop with R&B. We recently chatted with frontman and namesake of the band Jake Nawas to discuss their recent show at Firefly, their upcoming EP, and his unique vocal style, among other topics. Tune in now and get to know NAWAS!

Photo Courtesy of NAWAS

Photo Courtesy of NAWAS

ANCHR Magazine: Let's start off by hearing a little bit about what first inspired you to get into singing and making your own music. Was it a certain band that inspired you, or maybe someone in your family?

Jake Nawas: I was in college and I was having trouble finding direction, but I was always paying a lot more attention to music than anything else. Then myself and my guitarist Ben eventually got around to making music. We just got around to getting the laptop out and figuring out how to smash out something. When that started that was was like that click moment of this is what I want to do, and I hope I have the ability to do it.

AM: Oh wow, so you only started music in college?

JN: Yeah, we basically started making music in college. We played a little bit in high school, and we had fun with it, but we weren’t focused on it. We loved it, but we weren’t quite where we were when we turned this page and decided to do this for a living...or to make a go of it at least.

AM: You’re originally from Louisiana and now you’re based in Nashville. How do you think that move has influenced your writing and your music career in general then?

JN: What Nashville offered us as far as...the impact that it had on our sound, we’ve had a very individual experience here. We found our way, and this is not what I consider the right way or wrong way, but we’ve found a couple people who really got into what we were trying to do, and wanted to go there with us. Which was kind of a different sound and different things that aren’t just different from Nashville; our sound was developed to be different from anywhere. But the biggest thing Nashville gave us was this sense of community. This sense of people rooting for you and sometimes you need that. You don’t always need it. It’s unhealthy to focus on that, but sometimes you need that community and that tight-knit group. You know people are in here trying to get through the food chain too, but no one’s stepping on each other’s heads here for the most part. It’s a lot of fun to make music here.

AM: Cool, that’s a really good outlook to have with that community vibe. Speaking of standing out though, your voice is super unique. When did you kind of tap into that? Was it when you started writing or have you always known that you had that special quality to your voice?

JN: I think I trained it to be weird. I figured, you gotta pop! My pop is weird so I just embrace it and go in those weird nooks and crannies of my voice where it’s not so comfortable for the ears, but it’s fun and it’s interesting. So I don’t think that by any means it was like this-- I didn’t really have this moment where it was like oh my god. It just sort of slowly developed, you know? It wasn’t really just one moment. It also took time, and it’s taking time for me to get stronger. I want my voice to get stronger over the years because I’m late into this and I’m not classically trained. I do aspire to continue to find things with the voice that I don’t have right now in my arsenal or that I recognize that I want, but I haven’t quite gotten to that point.

AM: Very cool. So I know you’re working on the debut EP for Harvest Records. How’s that process going and what can you tell me about the songs that are going to be on there?

JN: It is quite a process. It’s a process of patience, which I’m not very good at. It’s always paying off, though. I’m learning at the end after I’ve bitched and moaned about it, things come together in a way that I envisioned without cutting corners. So it’s good. We’re taking time writing and we’re putting it together. I always want to try to have more ready than we need. So we are putting an EP together, but we’re putting more than that together. We have a lot of songs, and there will be ways to release that in this day and age. With streaming, you can put a little out here and a little out there. We’re writing a record and we’ll release it whichever way puts us in the best position. It’s been a lot of fun, and we’ve done some things in LA too. Which have been great. We’ve worked with Tim Anderson...John Hill...a couple different people who have really been great for seeing what we’re trying to do and saying add this, take away this, see how that works…

AM: How was the process of working with Tim Anderson in his studio?

JN: It’s a nice spot, it makes me feel spoiled when I’m in LA and I get to work there. One of the coolest things about recording with Tim as a writer and as a person who likes to be on the ground level of my songs, is he’s done a lot of stuff that would give him the right to kind of impede...not impede, but to run shit, basically. He allows you to do your thing, and he kind of accents that in ways. The last song we released was done by Tim, Tim and this wonderful woman MoZella who wrote on the song. Whatever instinct I had, they allowed me to get out. Then we sharpened it. I’m 23 and I’m a baby in this, basically because of my experience, and I’m trying to soak in as much as I can. When people do that, it shows you like oh, these people at the high level, they’re not what you may think they are. They are just as open and as artistically inclined as anyone.

AM: Very cool. So then you just talked a little bit about working with Tim Anderson and MoZella, so you’ve collaborated a bit on the songwriting level. Is there anyone else you’d love to do a collaboration with, either singing on a song with them, songwriting again, or having them do the production?

JN: First off, my life goal is to write a Britney Spears song. I did just see that Clams Casino just put out an instrumental mixtape. So I was like, I better record some stuff over that and put it out there to see if he can hear it, cause I like Clams Casino a lot. He’s a really cool producer. A producer I just met not too long ago, he’s a great guy...Mikky Ekko. Mikky had no reason to meet me, I’m just some kid, and he really sat down and chopped it up with me for a long time. So I’m appreciative of the conversation we had and what he shared with me. He’s an artist who’s been through different situations and prevailed.

AM: So talking about playing some of these songs live then, I know you just played at Firefly, which is pretty cool considering this is all new to you and you’re still working on the debut EP and album. How was that to be able to play at such a major festival?

JN: It was great! I mean we played--we’ve been really lucky to meet some really genuine people and surround ourselves, as far as our team goes, with a lot of great people who have put us in situations that maybe….I don’t want to say we didn’t deserve to be there, because you can’t get there without earning the right. But it definitely was early in the process. We played ACL, we played Firefly, we played a bunch of shows at South By and Hangout. Those are just so incredible...the people are can’t imagine. We’ve played every type of gig now. We haven’t gone on tour, but we’ve played a bunch of shows. We’ve played smaller gigs in weird rooms, and you just can’t imagine at these festivals, even though it’s a big production, and it’s worth millions of dollars….you can’t imagine how open those people are to us. We’re so strange sometimes. To hear after someone who’s not in our world, and people are so open to it, and I’m really appreciative of that. We need that! I love those festivals. I can’t wait to bear down and get back to those. The workers are great at those too.

The biggest thing Nashville gave us was this sense of community. This sense of people rooting for you and sometimes you need that. You don’t always need it. It’s unhealthy to focus on that, but sometimes you need that community and that tight-knit group.
— NAWAS on working in Nashville

AM: So what else are you looking forward to for 2017? I know you said you’re writing a bunch more than the EP, but will their potentially be a tour?

JN: Yeah, well we signed early and we did all this, and it was kind of overwhelming. Now I’m seeing like there’s tons of things to look forward to. But really what I’m looking forward to is getting on a tour and some club rooms, and getting to play these [songs] and see what people say. I’m really excited for tour, whether it’s a….it does not have to be glamorous. We don’t have very high standards right now. We’re ready to get out there and play. We’re hungry. We’re hungry to hear what the people have to say. This is a tight knit group, the’s me, Ben, Joey. We write a lot together and we work with producers we’re really close with. It means a lot to us to bring people a product that we think is up to par. I can’t wait to get out there and see if it is up to par. I don’t have any breaking announcements about a tour, but it will be coming. I’m really excited to get out there and get our shot basically.

AM: For sure, let us know when you eventually come to Chicago!

Keep up with all the NAWAS updates on their Facebook page, and listen to their latest single, "Who Are You," below. 

Allday's Guide To Being Vegan on Tour

Hailing from Adelaide, Australia, the rapper Allday is gearing to up to tour The States next month, including a stop at The Subterranean in Chicago. During this tour, Allday will be performing songs from his sophomore album, Speeding, which features Japanese Wallpaper and Mallrat as collaborators. While he gets ready for tour, Allday put together a vegan tour guide to show his fans how he manages to keep up with his meat-free and cruelty-free diet on the road. 

Allday. Photo courtesy of No Big Deal PR

Allday. Photo courtesy of No Big Deal PR

To be vegan on tour is slightly harder than to be vegan not on tour. Because sometimes you end up in places where the concept of not eating animal stuff completely foreign and even offensive (blame meat & dairy industry propaganda). Truck stops in the middle of nowhere and small towns can be vegan heartbreakers. But there's always SOMETHING to eat. And if there is something vegan, we will sniff it out. You may end up eating something not delicious, but you will never go hungry.

DISCLAIMER: I haven't toured that much in the U.S.A yet, but I've done it a lot in Australia so I'm hoping some of these things are universal.

First things first:

Before you get in your tour vehicle, go to a damn supermarket and buy some nuts. Nuts are perfect for long drives because they kinda suck so you need to be very hungry to enjoy them. Maybe also buy... some fruit? "But Allday I don't like fruit!" Yes you do. Eat some fucking fruit. Fruit and nuts can last you at least 8 or 10 hours, by that time you'll be in another city and you can eat some actual food. Don't complain, some people are really starving. Don't buy any Gatorade or any of that poison, you're not a 12 year old Xbox player. 

Now your first day of driving is over.

You're in a "buttfuck nowhere" town. There is nowhere vegan to eat (this rarely happens but it is possible). What type of kitchen do you have in your hotel room? Is there a stove or a microwave? If yes, go to option 1. If no go to option 2. 

1. We have a kitchen! How grand. Now we find a supermarket or a convenience store. If a supermarket is open you can go Gordon Ramsay on 'em and make something gour-met. But it's probably late and there's only a convenience store open. Go to the freezer at the back. There should be some spring rolls or wedges or something. I don't need to tell you to read the labels carefully because companies are addicted to putting "Milk Solids" and "Fish Sauce" in things. Your meal is going to suck. Sorry. Open a window in your room so it doesn't smell like soy sauce.

2. Your hotel room doesn't have a kitchen. What the fuck. You should trash this place. But you're too hungry. Use your last iota of strength to crawl down to the nearest strip of take out restaurants. Ignore McDonalds and all that poison. Your best bet is somewhere Asian or Indian. Yes I realize India is in Asia. Go in there and question them heavily about vegan options. "What is vegan?" "Vegan means no animal products at all, so no dairy, egg, no fish sauce or anything like that." "Our Eggplant Curry would be vegan." "Can you check with the chef?" "Sure." 

5 minutes passes, the man waiting for his Butter Chicken will is judging you but he's not woke like you, so it doesn't matter. The cashier returns with good news "It is vegan." 

"I'll have one of those please!!!"

You made it through day 1 on tour, you beautiful compassionate vegan angel. 

(P.S never feel bad about questioning people about vegan options, once someone does it, it makes it easier for the next person, you are a pioneer.)

Day 2:

Wow it's your lucky day, tonight we are arriving in a big city with lots of vegan restaurants (because I'm making this tour route up so why not). But before that, go to a supermarket again. Nuts, fruit, water. Avocado and tortilla chips? Hummus and carrots? "No that's too healthy." Ok fine.

Here's an idea, buy:

- Hotdog rolls

- Bananas

- Peanut Butter

- Jam (Americans you call it Jelly)

- You should have stolen a butter knife from your hotel, but if not, buy one

Method: Spread PB&J on the hotdog rolls, then peel your bananas and insert them into the rolls. PB&J + Banana Hot Dogs.

By the time you get hungry again after your hotdogs, you will arrive in a city with lots of vegetarian/vegan restaurants. A good app/website to find these places is Happy Cow. Go out to dinner with your touring party and eat some nourishing food, then blow the audience's socks off with your gig later. "Wow *insert your name here* really had a beautiful glow up on stage tonight!" 

Day 3:

Basically repeat all the things I've been saying so far until your music is no longer profitable and you have to go be a janitor. 

P.S For when you're stoned/self loathing/lazy, lots of truck stop junk food is accidentally vegan, things like:

- Oreos

- Some pop tarts

- Skittles

- Mostly all original chips and some funky flavours too

- Certain dark chocolates

- Skittles

If you're already vegan, this is probably the most inane thing you've ever read. But if you're just starting, maybe it will help.

Yours always in animal-leaving-alone,


Chicago, Allday will be in town on August 7th at the SubT. Grab your tickets here, and make a night out of it by supporting veganism and grabbing your pre-show meal at The Chicago Diner. You can get tickets to all of the upcoming shows here. Last step to prepping for the show? Listen to Speeding in full below!