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A Chat With: Dream Wife

At first listen, Dream Wife will catch your ear with their high energy, anthemic rock music; Whether it be the explosive introduction to “Let’s Make Out,” the singalong chorus to “Hey Heartbreaker,” or the head-bobbing melody in “Somebody,” it’s the kind of music that instantly demands the listener’s attention. After diving past the surface level though, it becomes obvious that this band has a message, and they’re not afraid to get in your face to deliver it. Their lyrics tell their story— In “Somebody” they make it clear they won’t stand for objectification of women, saying “I am not my body, I’m somebody.” And in the gritty anthem “F.U.U.” they let it be known that they’re really not messing around.

The women behind these songs, Rakel Mjöll, Alice Go, and Bella Podpadec, have had a whirlwind of a year after releasing their debut, self-titled album in January, delivering their message across the globe. They’ve played countless festivals around the world, from Summersonic in Japan to Lollapalooza right here in Chicago, they’ve toured the US supporting Sunflower Bean, they’ve toured Europe with Garbage, and now they’re in the midst of their first US headline run. On this tour, the trio enlisted local female and non-binary artists to open up each show, and tonight they’re playing with Chicago’s own Girl K at Schubas. Before the tour kicked off though, I spoke with bassist Bella Podpadec to find out what Dream Wife has in store for us at these shows. To find out what you can expect tonight and to also hear more about the band’s accomplishments this year, their creative process, and what they’re doing to make the industry a safer space for women and non-binary people, check out my conversation with Podpadec below.

Photo by Joanna Kiely

Photo by Joanna Kiely

Kicking things off, what was one of your first musical memories?

My first musical memory… Really honestly I think my first musical memory was grabbing my tambourine and dancing around as a really young child. When I was really small, like 3 maybe. My first memory of being in a band-- I met Alice, our guitarist, at Mid Somerset Battle of the Bands. So we lived in these little places in the countryside in England and there was this competition. Alice’s band played one year and my band played the next year, and we started playing shows together in Somerset. So that’s how we got to know each other.

Very cool, and then now since you’ve started Dream Wife together, this year has been huge for you. You released your debut album, you toured the States- I saw you with Sunflower Bean when you were in Chicago--

Oh cool!

Yeah, it was a great show! And then you came back for Lolla and you’ve played tons of festivals… you’re even touring with Garbage in Europe. With all of that going on, what have been some of your personal favorite moments or highlights from this year?

From this year? I think for all of us a number one lifelong sort of dream was going to Japan. We went and played Summersonic Festival in August and we managed to take a little holiday around it and explore. No one had been so that was really special. We’re so grateful just to play live shows cause that’s really what it’s all about for us. It’s been amazing to play so many shows to so many people.

Totally! So just from seeing you live or seeing your social media, it seems like you and Alice and Rakel are very close, and very good friends. What’s something you’d say that you’ve learned about each other from being on the road and touring so much?

I mean we’re all very different people and we all need very different things. It’s kind of allowing each other the different kinds of space that they need, as well as like the closeness. It’s understanding where you aren’t the same and learning best how to support each other on this whirlwind of a thing that we do together. It’s been a lot of understanding each other throughout the years.

One thing I really love about this tour you have coming up, you had female and non-binary artists submit their music and you picked a local artist to open the show in each city. What was that process like and how did you go through everybody, and were there any particular favorites that you remember listening to and loving their music?

It was super overwhelming! We got over 400 responses, it was so exciting to receive that kind of feedback from it. I’m really bad, I can’t remember the ones we picked from the US run. But we split up the bands between us, and yeah we kind of listened through a lot of them and gave them ratings. Then we went through the top rated ones together. It was a lot of figuring out where people were from and trying to fit them to where they need to be. A band called Bitchcraft was really cool. They were in LA.

So going off of that, what are some things you think venues, promoters, and other bands should be doing to use their platform to help artists who are maybe more marginalized in the industry and music scenes?

I think stuff like the venues making it known that sexual harassment will be spoken about with the people that work there. That there’s a line of communication and people are helping each other out. I think the main thing is everyone looking out for one another and questioning the standard. And elevating the voices of people who wouldn’t be heard otherwise.

Did you hear about what happened in Chicago with The Orwells recently? They had allegations made public about them and then ended up disbanding, so it’s been a big topic of conversation here.

Oh really? The Orwells? I don’t think I know that band at all. I’ll have to look into that.

Yeah, I actually just wrote about it…They had a Google Document that went public with sexual assault allegations, so it’s been a topic that’s very much being talked about here in Chicago at the moment. I appreciate you making sure that female and non-binary artists are a part of your show here and this tour. It’s very important to changing the culture. I also saw you had recently partnered with Girls Rock for a t-shirt, right?


Are there any other organizations that you’d like to work with?

We’ve been working with Girls Rock. We’ve been giving them some money from a t-shirt and also they’ve been helping work with the tour submission project as well. For our UK shows, we’re gonna do some kind of panels and conversations facilitated by Girls Rock. Having conversations with people there about what’s going on in the places they live in. It’d be really great to bring that out to America. There’s a group in the UK called Girls Against—

Oh I’ve heard of them

Yeah we’ve worked with them quite  a bit. They raise awareness of sexual harassment at gigs. They put posters out and send representatives out at gigs.

Yeah, we have a similar group here, they’re based in Chicago, but they travel around the US, called Our Music, My Body.

Oh let me write that down!

They’re actually partnered with the venue you’re playing in Chicago so they’ll have signs and information up there.

Oh yeah it’d be really good to get in touch with them. Thank you!

Of course! So backpedaling a little bit to another subject, you actually met Alice and Rakel when you were studying visual arts at university right?


So when you’re writing, and not even necessarily just songwriting, but when you’re working on stuff as a band, how do you utilize your visual arts skills? Do you find yourself ever envisioning the songs you write as visual artwork?

I think maybe from the artistic side it’s like seeing the whole project or the idea of a band being this very three dimensional, multi-faceted platform where there’s many different things within that and you can find ways to kind of elevate that. I think all of us are visual in different ways and it kind of feeds in. We talk about videos quite a lot and it’s like the music definitely comes first and the rest of it’s built around that. We’re a band first, but it’s understanding the myriad of things that a band is or could be. That’s way over the top.

Yeah, I get that! Then you kind of just touched on this a little bit, but this is your first US headline run in the States. So is there anything you’re planning as headliners that you might not have done when you were playing as the support band?

Oh for our show? It’s gonna be SO much better! I mean it was amazing playing with Sunflower Bean, and we got to play some shows with The Kills. But we’ve actually done some pre-production for the first time ever. We’ve been rehearsing new, much longer sets with loads more things that the US hasn’t seen yet. I think it’s gonna be really good. I’m really excited.

Are there any other bands or artists that you can pinpoint that you look up to from a stage presence aspect?

I think Sleigh Bells. Kind of seeing their work ethic...we played a couple of shows with them before. And they just treat it like such athletes. I think after seeing them play, we started looking after our bodies and the dedication to be able to provide a good show physically. Like their show is so high energy. It was really inspiring.

Yeah you already have such a high energy so I can’t wait to see the headline show. So then you’ve been to Chicago a few times now, playing with Sunflower Bean and coming back for Lolla.

Chicago is one of my favorite places!

Did you get to see much of the city when you were here?

Yeah! I was actually there for my birthday. We went to the Art Institute and spent almost all the time in the Medieval section.  

Is there anything on your list that you’re trying to do this time around?

Oh I don’t know! Do you have any must sees?

Did you go to The Bean and all that last time? If you did all the touristy things you should go to Chicago Music Exchange. A lot of bands go there when they play Schubas because it’s close by. Deep dish pizza is always a must if you’re in Chicago. It’s almost more of a cheese pie than pizza.

Yeah it’s completely like pie! But is it just a New York thing to say “pizza pie”? We find that very confusing when people say they’re gonna get a pie. But in Chicago it is like a pie!

It is! But there’s good food here, and if the weather is still nice, you can just walk around downtown and see all the architecture.

I wanna go up a really tall building!

Oh you should do the Skydeck and take a band photo up there! So wrapping things up on kind of a fun note, I saw in your KEXP performance, Rakel mentioned you all like collecting neon colored tape, which I thought was an interesting fact. Is there another random fact about the band or anything that fans could win you over instantly by bringing it to your shows, besides the tape.

I mean, neon colored anything to be honest!

Your shows will look like a rave now.

That’s the dream! We just want to bring it back! New Rave specifically. Did you have new rave in America? This was like when Indie and Rave met and flirted for a bit in 2006. In the UK specifically. We joke about that sometimes.

I think I missed out on that. I wish I had experienced it. But we’ll bring it back to be the newer wave. Anything else you want to share before we sign off? I know that’s a big open ended question to end on.

It is such a big open thing…So many things! I mean, I think live music is such an exciting thing because it brings people together in a real physical space. It’s just really great and the shows are really fun, and everyone should come!  

Get your tickets to see Dream Wife, Russo, and Girl K tonight here, and listen to Dream Wife in full below!

A Chat With: Taylor Janzen

In a time where "fake news" is a thing, there's something particularly refreshing about music that's honest, raw, and vulnerable; especially when those authentic narratives are told with the uncomplicated delivery of an acoustic guitar and a sole vocalist. Enter Taylor Janzen, the 19 year old singer songwriter from Winnipeg who sings about topics as serious as mental health or emotional abuse, but fills her social media with more lighthearted musings (like her love of Dennis Quaid). 

Janzen just released her debut single "Stations" at the end of June, but in just a few short days, she's gracing us with her debut EP--called "Interpersonal." If you're looking for a new artist whose tweets are just as relatable as her lyrics, look no further and dive into our conversation with Janzen below. We discuss her songwriting approach, having Hayley Williams as a fan, her favorite Dennis Quaid movie and so much more. 

Get to know your new favorite singer-songwriter, Taylor Janzen. For fans of: Julia Jacklin, Phoebe Bridgers, and Soccer Mommy

Get to know your new favorite singer-songwriter, Taylor Janzen. For fans of: Julia Jacklin, Phoebe Bridgers, and Soccer Mommy

What do you consider to be your first music memory...Either what really got you into music or what got you interested in playing it?

My first musical memory was when I was 5 or 6, my mom had bought me the first two Avril Lavigne records...I think the second album had just come out. She bought me the first two, and I was in love with her. I thought she was the coolest person. I wanted to be her. I just remember thinking she was the coolest ever.

I went through that Avril phase too so I can relate! So your debut EP is coming out this month, and you co-produced it. What can you tell me about the whole process behind it and working as a co-producer?

When I wrote it--I didn’t really sit down and write it. I pulled from different songs and tried to make it as thematic as possible, and cohesive. I wrote them over a year. It was a very interesting process to work with someone else. I’ve never done that before, but I worked with my friend Shane. He is brilliant and we did it out of his house, but he actually knew what he was doing as opposed to me making weird stuff in my basement. He was so cool to work with. He’s a great friend and great musician, and he helped make them sound a lot better than I think they originally did. It was interesting to work with someone else cause I’d never done that, but it was a really cool experience to have someone else’s perspective and someone else’s ears on it.

As far as your two singles that you’ve released...You have “The Waiting Room” which tackles the subject of mental health, and a lot of people find it taboo to talk about and it really shouldn’t be. Then with “Stations," you talk about emotional abuse. Did you find it challenging to open up about subjects like that, which are so personal, or is it more rewarding for you to be able to let that out?

I think the first moment that these are shared is always the scary moment. Actually the scariest moment is when I played them live for the first time. One of the songs on the EP called “Colourblind"--that one was probably the scariest song I’ve written. I would put it on my set list and then take it off right before I was supposed to play it. I would just switch it out with a cover, and be like I’m not playing this song! People are gonna think that it’s too much. Now it’s one of the songs that gets the most reaction out of people. That one and “The Waiting Room.” It’s the one that I’m most proud of, and it’s really interesting how the ones that you’re usually most scared of are the ones that people like the most or connect to the most. Cause they’re honest. And they’re transparent. So it’s scary at first, but I think once you can get into it, it is less scary.

Yeah, there's that reward that comes with the risk. Then I know Hayley Williams has voiced her love for your music, and I know you’ve done Paramore covers in the past. So how does that feel to have her support?

That is so crazy. She’s so cool. She’s one of the first artists, or Paramore is one of the first bands that I ever fell in love with in a real or personal way. I remember basically watching Hayley Williams be able to stand up there and be a woman and not be afraid of her loudness. I think sometimes as women, we’re told to tone ourselves down so much and just to watch someone embrace those parts of herself and not be scared of herself, that was the most empowering thing and that’s always been something that inspired me. The fact that she would listen to anything that I would ever write, is crazy to me. She’s one of the reasons why I feel comfortable being myself.

Are there any other women in music that you find to be great role models or inspire you?

Oh man yeah! I’m just always so inspired by women who are not afraid of themselves. Like Torres I always say is one of my favorite artists. As a songwriter she’s so open and honest and smart about the delivery. Then I’m always super inspired by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Like Karen is just so cool and so herself. She doesn’t focus on like...I love the way her voice is. She doesn’t try to make it sound pretty, it’s more emotive and expressive and I love that. Or you know, I could go on, but Brandi Carlile. I love the dynamic of her music.

Yeah, I love how those women are examples of completely different types of music, but they’re all so inspiring. So kind of switching gears a little bit, I saw your tweet the other day from when you were in LA. You took a picture in front of Dennis Quaid’s star on the walk of fame and you referenced his bit that he does with Ellen yelling “Dennis Quaid is here!” So what is your favorite bit he does with her, cause he’s done a few.

He has! I think the original one was so iconic. I think would be my favorite, but I love the one where he goes to like that massage therapist and she makes him eat the tomato. He suffers for his art. Truly! I love Dennis Quaid. I just want to talk to him. I feel like he’s just so calming. I have a song named after him.

I saw that when I researched! You really do love him.

Yeah, when I was in LA I wasn’t there for a long time, so I only had time to do one cool thing that wasn’t related to the industry. So I wanted to see Dennis Quaid’s star.

Priorities! What would say is your favorite Dennis Quaid movie?

Oh, Parent Trap! 100 %. Why is he so cool? He just seems like the cool dad.

So I was going to ask, and you just kind of mentioned it, but was this your first time in LA when you had that show there?

Yeah! I’d never been to LA yet.

What else is on your bucket list in LA, or anywhere else in the states?

I would love to see all these cities in America. I was recently in Nashville and that was really cool. I want to go to New York. I’m easily impressed by things since I’m from Winnipeg. I love Winnipeg...but when I was flying into LA I was so impressed by like how not-flat it is. I’m very intimidated by big cities, but I’m also really fascinated by them. I really want to go to New York one day and also go back to LA.

Did you have any culture shock moments in LA?

Everyone really likes avocados. Also my manager got his burger lettuce wrapped when we went out for dinner.

It’s such a health freak city!

I’m just kind of blown away by the people and how busy and huge and spread out [the city] was.

Besides LA, you also played the Winnipeg Folk Fest and The Real Love fest recently. So how did those go? Any highlights?

Yeah so my show in LA was the first real show I played out of Manitoba. I’m excited to do more of that! Winnipeg Folk Fest went so well, then Real Love Fest was out in Teulon, Manitoba and I had to drive a lot for it. It was really fun. I was really tired from LA, but the atmosphere was so chill that it did not bother me at all.

Any other plans to tour once the EP is out?

Yeah, I’m for sure working on getting something. It takes a lot of planning!

Any other local bands that you’re really into that I should check out?

Yes! I love the local scene so much, I have like an embarrassing amount of pride for it. I think my favorites right now are Boniface... it’s actually named after the neighborhood they grew up in and which I grew up in, called Saint Boniface, so it’s like extra local for me. There’s also Olivia Lunny, she’s an incredible singer songwriter. She’s really feel good, I love listening to her when I drive everywhere. Then my friend Cassidy Mann also just released a single. It’s incredible. There’s a lot of really really good music here. I think because it’s so secluded people don’t really hear about it?

Awesome, I will check them out! Any last closing comments? 

I never know what to say at this part. My EP comes out on August 10th and I’m really excited and hope people like it.

And support Dennis Quaid?

Yeah! Show him some love!

Make sure you listen to "Interpersonal" this Friday, August 10th, and keep up with Taylor on Twitter + Instagram

A Chat With: Matt Maeson

Considering he grew up playing music in prisons and at biker rallies with his parents, you could say singer songwriter Matt Maeson has quite the interesting backstory...But ultimately, it's his dynamic vocals, piercing lyrics, and knack for storytelling that hooks listeners and fosters the growing buzz surrounding his music. With millions of streams racking up on Spotify and appearances booked at major festivals around the country, the momentum surrounding Maeson just keeps building, and he hasn't even released a debut full length yet. 

The music Maeson has released so far remains sonically multifaceted, with each song on his two EPs having a distinct sound of their own. Most of his songs tend to cover serious subject matters, but to juxtapose the heaviness that comes with some of his music, Maeson keeps the mood lighthearted on his social media, often cracking jokes on his Twitter. (Go follow him if you're not already, trust me.) That same personality transfers over to his live show, so if you're heading to Lolla this year, make sure you catch Matt Maeson on Friday, 8/3 at noon...but first get to know him a bit better. I recently caught up with him after his set at Bonnaroo last month, talking his favorite festival moments, his love of Chicago food, Johnny Cash selfies and more. 

Photo Credit: Matthew Reamer

Photo Credit: Matthew Reamer

So I know you grew up with a musical family, but when do you remember wanting to start making music on your own?

I was, like you said, raised in a very musical family, so from the time I was able to consciously receive music, I loved it. I started on drums when I was really young. I was like 3 or 4 and my uncle passed away and he left me a drum set. I just drummed away until I was 13 or 14 and then I picked up a guitar around 15, and that’s when I started writing songs. My dad would teach me chords. So 15, around that age was when I started writing, and I started performing live when I was 17. The rest is history.

When you started performing live, is there anyone you looked up to, or whose stage presence you admired?

That’s tough cause there’s different aspects. Vocals, Britney Howard from Alabama Shakes is insanely talented. Jeff Buckley is one of my all time favorite artists. Then Manchester Orchestra is a huge one for me.

Oh were you around yesterday when they played?

No I wasn’t I missed it! I missed them at Bottle Rock when they played the day after.

Oh no! One day you'll get to see them! Anyone else who inspires you?

I love Johnny Cash. I love the way he performs... and I played in a lot of prisons growing up.

I caught your set earlier and before you played “Cringe” you said “This is the one everyone has been waiting for.” How does that feel since releasing that song to have such a viral response to it? What has been a highlight?

It’s sick! “Cringe” is my most streamed song so I know every show that’s what everyone wants to hear. I’d say that the really dope thing was I played this show at The Hawthorne in Portland, Oregon. That was the first show that I ever heard people singing the lyrics with me, and that was to “Cringe.”

Then you just mentioned you played Bottle Rock, you’re playing 'Roo now, then playing Forecastle and Lolla too. What is your favorite festival moment and your worst festival experience that you’ve ever had?

I’d say my favorite festival moment would probably be the time I played this festival in Houston called In Bloom. It’s a smaller one, but it was my first festival. My girlfriend was there, I just played solo acoustic. And people were singing along. It was just the first big crowd at a festival I saw and played in front of. The least favorite was I went to this festival called Beach Goth in Orange County. It’s cool and the line up was had three of my favorite artists; King Krule, James Blake, and Bon Iver were all headlining. The stages were so close together and it was so packed that if you were trying to see King Krule you were hearing like TLC play. And then if you were trying to see Bon Iver you heard this, and there was just so many people that I was like I don’t want to see any of my favorite artists like this. I’d rather wait to catch them in smaller shows. 

What made you come up with the idea to release stripped versions of songs like "The Hearse" and "Cringe"?

[It was] mainly cause this is my first tour doing a full band thing. So everything before that was just acoustic. So that’s what people who have seen me live have grown to love. That’s when I think the songwriting really shines, when there’s not all this big production behind it, but it’s just this simple thing where people can really focus on the melody and lyrics. We put a couple out and people loved it.

My mom loves the stripped version of “Cringe!”

Yeah that song is streaming extremely well! It’s streaming better than the regular one.

What about new music? Are you working on that on the road at all or just focusing on touring these songs?

I mean, both. I don’t really try and force myself to write too often because I think that’s when the writing feels like it’s a job or something. It gets a little less sincere when you’re trying to force something out. Typically what happens is I’ll go on tour, I’ll get so drained and so exhausted, and then I’ll get home and write an amazing song. We’re definitely writing for the album right now.

So you’re coming to play Lolla, and I’m based in Chicago--

Yeah I love Chicago!

So what are you looking forward to about Lolla and coming to Chicago in general? Are you sticking around at all?

I will be because I’m doing a Lolla set and then I’m doing an after show, and then I’m doing another show...I think it’s just acoustic. So I’m doing the acoustic show and then I’m opening up for Gang of Youths, they’re awesome and I’ve done a couple shows with them! Then I do the actual Lolla set, so I think I’ll be there for three or four days.

Did you check out the rest of the line up at all?

The line up is insane. So good. I’m pumped. There’s definitely people I want to see, but I’ll know in about a month and a half from now.

Anything else you're looking forward to doing in the city while you’re there?

I love Chicago. I would 100 percent live there if it didn’t get so cold. It's brutal. I’ve been there in the winter and it’s so brutal. But Nando’s, I love Nando’s and it’s one of the only states that has them. Au Cheval, the burger spot. It’s insane. I love food. I still haven’t been yet, but my buddy works at the restaurant called Alinea. It’s insanely expensive. I just love Chicago, I love the people there.

Also your Twitter can be really hilarious, and I saw the other day you posted about people DM-ing you selfies. So if anyone in the world were to DM you a selfie, who would you want to slide into those DMs? We can even do dead or alive.

I would say Johnny Cash. Cause not only would that be amazing to receive a selfie, it would also be hilarious just to see a selfie of Johnny Cash.

Yeah, those don’t exist. Then last thing, do you have any unknown facts or something that you’ve always wanted to talk about that no one has brought up yet in an interview?

That’s a hard one! I skate...nobody ever asks me about that! If you look at my Instagram or something everyone I follow is pro skaters. I never get starstruck and the only people I get starstruck by are pro skaters. Which is funny cause they’re usually the chillest dudes.

When did you get into skating?

When I was super young, around 7. I’m not like great. I was better when I was 16, but I still love it. Love the culture.

Anything else you’re looking forward to or any last closing comments?

Looking forward to getting this album done. We don’t know when it’s gonna come out. It’ll either be late this year or early next year. Then we’re gonna do a fall tour that I’m pumped about. We’re still figuring it out if it will be a headlining or support tour.

Chicago, if you're not going to Lolla this year, you can still catch Maeson at his aftershow--snag those tickets here, and listen to The Hearse EP in full below. 

A Chat With: Night Riots

Over the past few years, Night Riots has toured relentlessly; from supporting the likes of The Maine and Andrew McMahon to their own headline runs, it seems like the five piece is constantly up on stage, engaging crowds in cities across the country. Night Riots' discography showcases a wide range of different musical styles, but their contagiously catchy melodies remain consistent, as does lead singer Travis Hawley's signature vocals, which have drawn frequent comparisons to The Cure's Robert Smith. Hawley's timeless vocals translate even more powerfully when he's up on the stage, charismatically commanding the room's attention with his magnetic stage presence and bond with the entire band. While their recorded music has this quality that makes it instantly like-able, Night Riots' live show only amplifies that quality, making their concerts a must see. 

If you still haven't found your way to one of their gigs, make sure you change that this month as they tour nationwide with Silent Rival and courtship. The tour swings through Chicago on Friday, June 22nd, but before they hit the Subterranean stage, get to know them as they discuss their ideal companion in an elevator outage, their favorite Ewoks, how they stay entertained on the road and more. 

Night Riots is Travis Hawley, Nick Fotinakes, Mikel Van Kranenburg, Matt DePauw and Rico Rodriguez

Night Riots is Travis Hawley, Nick Fotinakes, Mikel Van Kranenburg, Matt DePauw and Rico Rodriguez

You’ve been on tour with courtship. and Silent Rival since the start of the month. What’s your favorite part of touring with each of these bands?

It’s been awesome to be with bands that are good people.  It’s not always the case that you get along with everyone you tour with but both bands are awesome and really talented.  

Speaking of tour, you’ll be in Chicago again on June 22nd, and you’ve played in Chicago several times in the past. What are some of your favorite things to do here?

We try to make a point to stop by the Chicago Music Exchange.  That place is amazing...has so many guitars and synths and just rad music gear.  Also always gotta hit up a Pequod’s Pizza for that deep dish.

How would you describe your live show on this tour in 3 words?

Energetic, theatrical and transportive.

Your song “Breaking Free” was recently featured in the show 13 Reasons Why...If you could pick any other TV show to have your music on, what show would you pick and why?

I’d want to go back in time and get a song on Star Trek TNG.  Maybe even have us be like a holodeck band or something.

You’ve had a couple new singles out this year, which are both great! What other plans for new releases do you have this year?

We’ve kinda been releasing unconventionally.  We aren’t necessarily releasing songs as legit singles.  We just want to get new music out there...maybe we will compile it into an album this year.  

What are some of your favorite songs or albums from this year so far?

J. Cole’s new album KOD is rad.  Vacationer is putting out an album we are stoked for.  The new Kid Cudi/Kanye West album that just dropped is pretty tight too.

I saw your tweet the other day about the Gunslinger Series by Stephen King. What are some other books you’ve been into recently?

The Dark Tower series has been one of the best series I’ve read in a long time.  The scope and storytelling in it is remarkable. I think almost the whole band has read it at this point.  I just read The Stranger by Camus. I felt weird for a week.

Even though it seems like you’re constantly on tour and consistently working on new material, you guys are still really great with engaging fans on social media. What are some tips you have for managing your time with crazy tour schedules and how do you make sure to prioritize fan interaction?

At the end of the day the only reason we can continue what we do is because of the fans.  So I think it’s important to remember that. You need to be true to yourself and make art that is real but you also need to remember why you do it.  It’s fun and another way to be creative and think of new interesting ways to engage, entertain and help transport people out of their everyday lives... at least for a minute. Sticking to a schedule and consistency is key.

If you were stuck in an elevator with someone for a few hours, who would you want to be stuck with and why? (It could be anyone in the world.)

Probably Shaq because 1) He’d probably cradle you like a baby and calm you down 2) He could just rip the doors off and save you and 3) If it all goes to shit and you’re stuck, you could live off eating his body for like 6 months.

What’s one thing you’ve never been asked in an interview, but you’ve always wanted to talk about?

Who my five favorite Ewoks are.  Not in particular order they are: Chief Chirpa, Paploo, Teebo, Wicket, and Logray.

There you have it! Grab your tickets to see Night Riots at The SubT this Friday, June 22nd here, and follow them on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram. 

Can't get enough Night Riots? Check out our past coverage of them here

A Chat With: Mike Mains

Singer songwriter Mike Mains will play Chicago's Elbo Room this Friday night, May 4th. Before the show, Mains discussed his upcoming album, his creative lifestyle, and some of his biggest influences with us. Check out our full chat below!

Photo by  Haley Scott

Photo by Haley Scott

What is your first musical memory of when you first became interested in creating music?

I'd have to say watching Michael Jackson music videos on the TV as a child. I'd try to replicate his dance moves. Early on I knew I wanted to entertain people.

Who do you consider to be some of your biggest influences and inspiration, both from a songwriting standpoint and as a live performer?

The Holy Grail for me is Tom Petty. Ben Gibbard, Brandon Flowers... Lately I've really enjoyed Big Thief's most recent LP, as well as Day Wave.

For this upcoming tour, you’ve mentioned you’ll be playing some new songs during these shows. What can you tell us about the new songs and do you have a particular favorite new one that you’re most excited to share?

I'm really excited to play the song "Live Forever" on this tour.

With the new songs, what was the writing process like and is there a common theme among the new material?

The new songs all share a theme of damaged love. My wife and I went through a brutal season during the writing and recording of this album, and there where times I wasn't sure if we were going to make it. The songs document the wounds I carried into our marriage and my best attempt at pulling myself together through therapy. It's a window into our lives to a degree I'm nervous about sharing with people. But I'm proud of it.

The writing process was a combination of my usual method of writing on an acoustic guitar with a notebook and demoing on some studio gear I invested in. As I started the deep dive of this album I knew I needed to change things up and wanted to explore engineering and producing. So I bought some microphones and recording gear and carried a lot of those demos to pre-production. The last big batch of songs were written with my producer in the studio during the winter at one of my lowest points. I'm extremely grateful to him for helping me figure out how to put everything I was feeling inside into a song.

I also saw that you recently posted about starting a Sunday blog...what has the response been like so far and what are some other topics you’re hoping to touch on soon?

I did! I've been a little lazy at maintaining that! I'd like to dive more into mental illness, spirituality, phycology and travel.

Another really cool thing I saw you’ve been doing is offering creative lessons ranging from life coaching to songwriting. Where did that idea for these lessons stem from, and how has the experience been so far?

It's been wonderful. I've got a small roster of folks I truly enjoy working with. It's been one of the greatest personal growth engines for me. When you're responsible for helping others grow in any area, you will loose steam fast if you don't keep yourself filled up. As I help others grow in songwriting and the art of creative living, I learn a lot and feel sharper. It's satisfying to see someone who's afraid to sing a song they wrote to be out on tour playing shows. Inspiring others to get out there and do it is the reward for me.

Which cities are you most excited to visit and play in on the upcoming tour?

Ludington, Michigan as we have some wonderful family there. I'm looking forward to playing Syracuse, New York as well.

Anything else coming up that you’re excited to share with fans?

A new album fall 2018 :)

Grab your tickets to see Mike Mains at the Elbo Room on Friday here, and keep up with Mike on social media below!

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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: 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: 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 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: 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. 

A Chat With: Gang of Youths

Australian rock group Gang of Youths are back in The States this month, touring in support of their upcoming album. After releasing their successful debut album The Positions in 2015 and following up with an EP in 2016, the band are set to release their second full length album Go Farther In Lightness on August 18th. As a teaser, the band released the new single "Let Me Down Easy" on May 26th, a rhythmic narrative that's perfect for a summertime drive. Before their North American tour hits Schubas Tavern in Chicago, the band took some time for quick Q&A about the new music, their tour, and their favorite new music. Check it out and go see Gang Of Youths in a city near you!

Photo Courtesy of Gang Of Youths

Photo Courtesy of Gang Of Youths

ANCHR Magazine: What first inspired you to start making music, and how did you eventually all meet and form a band?

Gang of Youths: We met in a large evangelical church as children, and played music together throughout adolescence. Our first record The Positions came about as a result of a pretty traumatic relationship I was in with a woman who had terminal cancer.

AM: You’ve cited U2 and Sonic Youth as some of your influences, but what are some of your other musical and nonmusical (i.e film or other art forms) influences?

GoY: Possibly too many to name, to be honest. I’ve always felt that Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Hegel and Heidegger had a profound influence on my work in a philosophical sense -- I like Lacan, Deleuze too. I’ve tried to contort and mangle our music in a way that it could sort of appeal to the ear the same way a Chagall or a Degas looks to the eye. Possibly a nonsensical idea, I know.

AM: What have been some highlights for you guys as a band since you released your debut album just a little over two years ago?

GoY: We managed to stay together, and grew together. That’s the most extraordinary one for me personally.

AM: The new animated video for your single “What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out?” is great! What was the inspiration behind going the animated route for this video, instead of sticking with live action?

GoY: We have this friend of ours named Thomas Rawle who’s a pretty gifted animator. We wanted to create a sense of kinetic chaos combined with a surreal kind of storytelling that wouldn’t have been possible with a live action clip.

AM: Speaking of your new music, what can fans expect from the new album?

GoY:  It’s 78 minutes spread over 16 tracks.

AM: What teasers can you give about the set this tour, and are you planning on testing out any new material on the road?

GoY: The only teaser I can give you is that we are certainly road testing new material.

AM: Are there any cities on the U.S tour that you’re looking forward to playing the most?

GoY: Chicago! It’s our guitarist/keyboardist Jung’s home town. He hasn’t been back for 11 years!

AM: What’s one of the biggest differences that you guys notice between playing shows back home in Australia and playing in Europe and America?

GoY: The size of the shows is significantly different. Which is a good thing. I prefer small rooms.

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

GoY: Whitney, Camp Cope, Luca Brasi and Trophy Eyes.

Chicago, do not miss Jung's hometown return! You can grab tickets to Gang of Youths show tonight here, starting at $10. We'll also be covering their show in Minneapolis tomorrow night- stay tuned for a full photo gallery, and get pumped for the shows by listening to Gang of Youths' first album.

Family Values and The Nashville Music Scene: A Chat With The New Respects at Hangout Fest

Hangout Festival's lineup seemed to be loving the family bands this year...Mumford and Sons, Joseph, and of course the Nashville quartet The New Respects. Composed of twin sisters Zandy and Lexi, their brother Darius, and cousin Jasmine, The New Respects have crafted a unique, fun sound that melds together their pool of influences. Their debut EP Here Comes Trouble has a little something for everyone, whether you're a fan of rock, soul, R&B, or pop music, and their live show is sure to get the crowd grooving. After their early, yet energetic performance on Sunday at Hangout fest, the four piece chatted with us about their musical upbringing and their whirlwind of a year. Get to know The New Respects now!

Photos Courtesy of The New Respects / Thumbnail Image Courtesy of Hangout Music Festival

Photos Courtesy of The New Respects / Thumbnail Image Courtesy of Hangout Music Festival

ANCHR Magazine: Since you’re all there a musical gene that's been passed down in your family?

Jasmine Mullen: My Parents are both musicians. I never wanted to do music, so it’s kind of crazy.

AM: Do they sing?

JM: Yeah, my mom is a Christian singer and my dad's a songwriter mostly.

Lexi Fitzgerald: My mom can’t sing at all. She’s actually very bad. My dad was in a rap group.

AM: So it kind of skipped your parents?

LF: Exactly!

AM: Where else did you pick up influences?

Zandy Fitzgerald: Being born and raised in Nashville, it’s all around you. Maybe by osmosis or something. I think we just-- I always wanted to play guitar. One day I just kind of did it. I hear a lot that people have parents that are musicians and that wasn’t even like a thing for me. It’s always weird when they’re like you just randomly started? I’m like yeah, I thought everybody did.

AM: So since releasing your first EP, what have been some highlights?

LF: We just played in New York for the first time, that was really cool. Having the recognition in Rolling Stone was insane.

Darius Fitzgerald: The craziest thing for me was we played a show near DC, and seeing someone sing along. These songs, of course we know them, but to see someone I’ve never seen before know the lyrics, it’s wild.

AM: Yeah, I've heard that's always surreal, or hearing your song on the radio.

DF: We're still waiting on that.

JM: That might be a tearful moment.

AM: I saw you with Robert Randolph at Lincoln Hall, what were some highlights of that tour?

LF : That was a great show, Chicago was actually my favorite!

ZF: That was a great tour. We learned so much. Robert is like...their whole show is about playing in the moment, being passionate, and having fun. I remember in Kansas City, Robert called us up, and we got to play with him. I told him, put me in the back, you play guitar way better than I do! He said okay that’s fine, and I get onstage. He walks over to my amp and cranks it and goes “play for the people.” In that moment I just had to take what I learned from him - passion, have fun, and go for it. That proved to me that those things actually work. If you already have the practice behind you, just go for it in the moment. That’s gonna make a great show.

AM: So how do you stay entertained on the road?

LF: We sing a lot.

ZF: I think everyone’s favorite pastime is annoying to the other three in the band, and so those moments are endless.

AM: How do you cope with being a family and being around each other all of the time?

JM: I think part of it is because of growing up together, we know how to push each other’s buttons. Which is a blessing and a curse. You can use that to your advantage, but I think we’ve done a really good job recently. Because we know each other’s buttons, we know how to love each other.

ZF: Just beauty in the balance. There’s times where we joke with each other, but there also has to be times where we encourage each other. Otherwise it could get ugly.

AM: What’s one thing that you each do that annoys the others?

ZF: I don’t like being touched unnecessarily. Lexi and Jasmine like to jump on me in bed.

LF: I don’t like being told what to do. Darius doesn’t like being up early.

DF: Not a morning person. At all.

ZF: Jasmine, what’s yours?

LF: She doesn’t like being told what to do either.

AM:  So now that you’re playing festivals, do you have some festival dos and don'ts? 

ZF: I think the biggest thing is it’s very different than your own show where you have all your own gear. This is so much easier, traveling wise. You have a lot of stuff backlined. So you just have to prepare yourself, this is not my own amp, it’s not gonna sound the exact same, but I’m gonna play a good show.

LF: Be flexible, the schedule is all over the place.

DF: I feel like too, enjoy as much as the rest of the festival as you can. This is like, very special because we’re on the freaking beach with all these great acts.

LF: Chance the Rapper is playing today, so that’s perfect. 

AM: I’m from Chicago so I've got that Chicago pride for Chance! He's played Lincoln Hall, actually, the same venue you played with Robert Randolph. 

DF: Was this a while ago?

AM: Yeah it was at least 5 years ago.

ZF: One day you’ll be saying "They played Lincoln Hall!"

AM: Anyone else you’re excited to see?

All: Mumford and sons!

DF: When we started the band, we were convinced we were going to be a black version of Mumford and Sons. In hindsight that’s not really gonna work. I’m happy we found our own beat.

AM: Any other bands or albums you’re really into at the moment?

LF: Harry Styles' album. It’s actually really good. John Mayer’s newest album. John Legend's album is great.

DF: I’ve been listening to Sign, Sealed, & Delivered by Stevie Wonder. That record...I knew like the singles or whatever. But the whole record is amazing.

ZF: The new Kendrick. We’re always listening to music. Jasmine has a playlist on her Spotify that’s like 6 hours long. We’re always like add this to the playlist. It’s like Brandon Flowers, Harry Styles, John Legend, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder...all the bands that inspire us.

AM: What else are you looking forward to this year. Any new music?

JF: We’re writing right now for a new record that will be out sometime next year. We’re coming around to songs we’re really proud of.

AM: Are you going to record it all in Nashville?

DF: We’re open to wherever. Wherever they’re making good music.

AM: Cool! Any inside trade secrets as far as being in the Nashville scene that you can let us in on?

ZF: Stay creative. Get with people in Nashville who like don’t want to sound like Nashville. Stay open, stay creative. Listen to a ton of music. Make great music.

LF: The further we get away from Nashville the more we realize how much of a bubble it is. The thing for me, explore other things. I love Nashville and I love living there. It’s filled with so many creative people, but create there and also other places as much as you can too.

Keep up with all the latest news from The New Respects here, and listen to their debut EP below!

Juice Recipes and Life Philosophy: A Chat With Foreign Air at Hangout Fest

Jesse Clasen and Jacob Michael of the buzzy duo Foreign Air have steadily been picking up traction with their layered, feel-good tunes like "In The Shadows" and "Call Off The Dogs." After releasing their debut EP, the pair have developed their live sound by touring with artists like The Strumbellas, Lewis Del Mar, Aurora, and Kevin Garrett. Their intricate songs encapsulate these irresistible melodies that will be sure to boost your mood and have you moving along, which is the perfect festival music. After hitting the stage at Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Jesse and Jacob chatted with us about their developing sound, staying replenished on tour, their core principles, and more. 

Photo Courtesy of Foreign Air

Photo Courtesy of Foreign Air

ANCHR Magazine: How did you first get inspired to start making music? Do you have a first musical memory from when you were kids?

Jesse Clasen: I grew up with a piano in the house. I started taking piano lessons when I was 9 years old. I think I was always attracted to sound. I quit after about two years because I didn’t like learning other songs. I was so young I didn’t realize there’s probably different styles of teaching, and learning. So instead of thinking about that aspect and saying maybe this isn’t the teacher for me, I just quit. I kept playing cause I loved making sound. You know, creating more than playing music that was already written. So I started with the piano, and my parents got me a drum set cause I was really into drums. So I started playing drums around age 12 every day. My mom took me out of school, I was home schooled for a long time. That basically meant I played music and skateboarded all day. Then started learning guitar. While doing all that, singing and mimicking singers that I really liked to sort of learn different aspects of singing.

AM: Is there a certain singer or band that stood out as a particular influence?

JC: I mean, there were so many when I was young. There was Nirvana of course. As I got older, my mom turned me into Sade and Nina Simone. I really loved her voice. And then I fell in love with Jeff Buckley’s voice. Billie Holliday. I feel like that’s how I learned a lot about vibrato. Then I got into Nick Cave. Tom Waits. More theatrical, lower registers. In terms of music in general, I never really asked myself if it was something I wanted to do. It was just something I was drawn to and loved, and did it whenever I could, how I could. And here I am.

Jacob Michael: [I'm] kind of the same way. A friend taught me the basic chords on guitar, and I just started writing my own songs with those chords I had, then got a bunch of friends together. We kind of just started playing and met likeminded people through music and stuck with it. Music for me was a way to connect with likeminded people outside of my high school. I started taking the metro down to DC and fell into music there.

AM: So what’s next for you guys in terms of new music this year?

JC: We have a bunch of unreleased stuff to put together at the same time we’re working on a full length. We just wanna get it right. I think we’re still chasing that sound and not really rushing it. The full length is probably the next big release that we’re looking at.

AM: Have you noticed a theme in the full length? 

JC: I think we’re very drawn to big drums, and a lot of sampling. Sampling of my voice. A lot of playing instruments we grew up on…piano and bass and guitar. Writing and just resampling it to see how we can kind of flip it on its head. Emotion is very important. We feel that authenticity and trying to capture that. When we’re working on new songs, that’s very much what we’re chasing....the raw emotion and being in the moment.

AM: I saw you guys tweeted the other day, “What’s a principle that you live by?” so what would be your principle?

JM: I love the responses that we got. I’ve been asking a lot of people that.

JC: I’ve always been about honesty. Being upfront with people. Whether you’re in a relationship, in the music world.... You’ve gotta speak up. You don’t wanna be the person going home after a day in the studio feeling like man, I wish we would have done this, but I bit my tongue cause there’s other people around. You’ve gotta be you and be open to experiences.

JM: I was thinking that. Jesse’s one of those people. He keeps it real, probably more than anybody else I know.

AM: On the same subject of your Twitter, I saw your tweet about how your juicer is a tour essential. So if you were to make a Hangout Hangover juice, what would you put in it? And what would you name the recipe?

JC: I like the Hangout Hangover.

JM: You nailed it. It’d probably be like apples, celery-

JC:  Cucumber’s gotta be in there!

JM: Red pepper. And ginger.

JC: Maybe a touch of pineapple. I have a sweet tooth. And some coconut water for the hangover. And crushed up Ibuprofen!

AM: Do you have any other festival do’s and don’ts?

JC: This is our second festival with this project. We did Shaky Knees last week, our first festival. So far, it’s put on sunscreen and stay hydrated.

JM: And don’t stay out too late if you have a show that weekend. Go out, but just remember you have something to do the next day.

JC: So many friends and so much going on, it’s like easy to get lost in it.

AM: Do you have a crazy festival story?

JC: Last weekend, I ended up last minute hoping on the ferris wheel that was right next to the festival with some other friends. We got a bunch of champagne and finished up the night. [Champagne] flutes and everything on the ferris wheel. May or may not have been some other things going on. Not drug related. Some festival loving and dancing.

JM: I like people watching. People are wearing some crazy things at this festival.

AM: What else are you looking forward to this year?

JC: Looking forward to just progressing the sound, and exploring the sound that is Foreign Air. I don’t think we’ve found it yet and I’m excited to see how far we can take it. I want to make a record that comes from a real place. And just sonically new. I wanna challenge ourselves more.

JM: For me I’d say performing live with the new material.

AM: What are some of your new favorite bands?

JC: Bishop Briggs. Lewis Del Mar. 

JM: I like Little Dragon a lot, and GoldLink. I’m really into Jenny Hval from Norway.

Foreign Air are set to play Firefly Music Festival in June, but keep your eye out for more tour dates hereand listen to their debut EP below.

Kam Franklin of The Suffers Talks Treating Yourself on Tour and Respect at Music Festivals

The Houston-based eight-piece The Suffers have honed in on a refreshing, funky retro sound that sets them apart from the rest of the crowd. Since releasing their debut album in 2016, The Suffers have crossed off bucket list items such as appearing on Jimmy Kimmel and playing a NPR Tiny Desk Concert. This summer, the band are set to bring their bold and soulful sound to several festivals around the country, including their recent appearance at Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Alabama. During their time in Alabama last weekend, The Suffers frontwoman Kam Franklin chatted with us about everything from their new music to their festival do's and don'ts. Get to know all that and more in our chat with Kam Franklin!

Photo Courtesy of Hangout Music Festival

Photo Courtesy of Hangout Music Festival

ANCHR Magazine: You’ve cited a bunch of different musical styles as your influences, like rock, country, and soul. What was your first musical memory, like a band you heard or a family member that played music, that got you into creating your own music?

Kam Franklin: It was definitely gospel. I grew up in the church, and gospel was always played in my house. Aside from gospel, R&B...So Luther Vandross, Prince, Aretha Franklin, both her gospel stuff and her R&B stuff. That was the main thing that was always in my ear growing up.

AM: Cool, so when did you first start writing your own music?

KF: Probably around age 12 or 13 is when I started writing lyrics or poems and not realizing that’s what they were becoming. First song that I knew was a song, was probably age 16. It ended up on our last record. It’s called “Stay.”

AM: When did you meet the rest of the band then?

KF: We all knew each other before the band ever even was a thing. We were all in different punk, ska, and reggae bands in Houston. We would see each other and it was always a case of oh yeah, if we could ever play with this person we should. It just never happened. The whole thing was when Adam and Pat were starting the band, it was like let’s get this person and this person. We thought it would just be a fun thing, and it evolved.

AM: Cool, so I saw you guys tweeted that you’re going back in the studio at the end of this month. What secrets can you let me in on about the new stuff?

KF: We’re going to release some new singles before the end of the summer. We should be going back to record the full length before the fall. Right now we’re just trying to decide what collaborations we want to do. What kind of sound we want. Where we want to do it. Really we’re just trying to grow as much as possible, and we’re testing the songs out live to see what works, what doesn’t. It’s been kind of funny.

AM: What have been some of your favorites to play live?

KF: We have this one...the song is about getting to know somebody. And all the things that get you excited about getting to know them. Maybe a favorite TV show, or a favorite band, or rapper.  So the chorus for that one is “So what’s your favorite color? Oh you say you like Nas too. You were raised by your mother and her village, oh that's cool. You quote Martin and Friends, I hope this conversation never ends.” It’s just like this...I don’t know, it’s really silly, but it’s playful. There’s a few pop culture references in it, but more than anything it’s just about those times where you used to stay on the phone with somebody all night. A guy that I don’t talk to anymore, but when we first started dating, we had one of the longest conversations I’ve ever had on the phone. I looked at my phone and it said 7 hours. I’m like, I just put in a work shift talking to this dude all night. It didn’t feel like it at all. It felt like maybe an hour or two. I was trying to think when is that last time I talked to somebody for this long, and I realized a lot of men, at least my age, have gotten really lazy as far as the pursuit. Also a lot of women have kind of changed their standards. I don’t mean that in a way that demeans either side, but I feel like once you take the expectations away, the delivery is so much different, and it kind of sucks. I don’t want to chase any people, like come chase me. I’m old school.

AM: So looking at your tour dates, you’re playing so many festivals, from jazz festivals to XpoNential Festival, which is really cool. What are some of the festivals or cities you're most looking forward to playing?

KF: Maybe it’s the same for media, but for bands, when the festival circuit is really heavy, it kind of becomes like a summer camp kind of thing. Where you’re seeing a lot of people at the same time, and it becomes really a fun thing. I just get excited to see some of my friends that are on the festivals. I’ve never been to Lockn’, but I’m excited because my friend Jim James is on Lockn'. Then I’m excited for Whale’s the old Beaverton Festival in California. Our friends The Motet and Turquaz will be there. There’s different festival circuits that have the same kind of theme, like Lockn’ will have your Jam Bands and Indie Rock. Then Newport and XpoNential have people that will play more folky festivals, so like your Ryan Adams and Luscious. When you see people you say what’s up, it’s kind of like a fun thing of the circle of friends/colleagues where you rarely see each other because you’re on the road, but they get it.

AM: So how do you stay sane and entertained on the road when you travel so much?

KF: I try to take alone time whenever I can get it. Exercise. Even though I don’t like exercise, I try to exercise as much as I can. I go to the nail shops a lot. I love the nail shops. Self care is so important. When I make friends in other cities, I am very vigilant about following up with them and trying to hang out, because I’m not going to be home for a while. So if I have friends in DC and Atlanta, I’m going to hit them up. It can get very lonely, even though I’m touring with 8 or 9 guys. They’re my friends and my family, but sometimes you want to go see something else. Being with them all the time can be very limited and frustrating. And vice versa, I know sometimes they need time away from me.

AM: Do you have any festival dos and don’ts?

KF: Be respectful of yourself and others. Wear sunscreen. Stay hydrated. Be nice. I say be nice, as if being respectful isn’t the same, but it’s so different. You don’t have to be nice to someone to respect them. The only reason I say that is because it might come back to you. Say you lose your phone, but you were a dick to that person that saw your phone later on. If you’re not a dick, they might bring you your phone back. More than anything, just try to enjoy the music. I’m not anti-phones at concerts, but I am anti- yawning and not paying attention, or judging other people in the crowd. Let people have a good time.

AM: Anything else that you’re looking forward to this year?

KF: I’m mainly just looking forward to releasing new music. We haven’t released new music since our album came out. So I am just itching to get them out!

AM: Any new band recommendations or new albums you’re listening to?

KF: I am obsessed with Emily King’s last record, particularly the song “Distance.”  I love Local Natives and everything that they do. Also just homies. Portugal. The Man just released a new single. My friend Fat Tony. We’re just so happy to be doing what we do and being able to support our friends. Oh, my dear friend Matthew Logan Vasquez of Delta Spirit, who just released a solo album. I helped him with a song on that, and it’s great and I love him so much.

Check out all of The Suffers' upcoming tour dates here, and listen to their self-titled debut album below. 

A Chat With: Happyness

The London-rockers of Happyness are currently in the middle of their U.S. tour in support of their sophomore album Write In. This album builds off of the momentum of their debut Weird Little Birthday and adds complexity while staying true to the softer rock that this band is known for. Jon-EE Allan, Benji Compston and Ash Cooper collaborate to the highest degree while recording. This combined creativity and drive makes for compelling lyrics and eccentric melodies. They’ll be at the 7th St Entry this Saturday with openers Fury Things and Wetter, read our interview with Jon-EE and Benj below.

Photo Courtesy of Happyness

Photo Courtesy of Happyness

ANCHR Magazine: In what ways does your new album Write In differ from your debut Weird Little Birthday?

JON-EE ALLAN: We wanted to make a more open album this time, and open-ended. I think it answers less of its own questions, if that makes sense. The setting for recording this album was actually pretty similar to Weird Little Birthday, we self produced it in our studio, but we were in a very different place mentally. Benji got very ill about halfway through making it so our flow got disrupted pretty heavily. I guess that's why there's a little less segue-ing and interlude type stuff. I think it's more hopeful though - it's kind of a collection of snapshots of hope through the crap.

And there are 3 less tracks...

AM: Do you guys play off of each other creatively when writing songs/recording? What was the main approach to the new album?

JON-EE ALLAN: Yeah definitely - we've worked in every possible combination of the three of us. Usually depending on who has the most concentration or drive at any given time, or who's had the most for lunch.

This is the first time we've had to make an album under time pressure and knowing that people were waiting for it. Working like that takes a bit of getting used to. We just wanted to make sure we weren't forcing it. We blocked out pretty much a year of our lives to make this record. It's a weird feeling cutting yourself off like that. It's hard to keep track of time or have enough perspective on things, so we'd leave songs for months before coming back to them - they get pretty scary to face when you've left them for that long. I don't think we'll make a record like this again, it's not a sustainable way to live... But I like what it produced!

AM: How has growing up/living in London influenced your music?

BENJI COMPSTON: London's such an enormous, sprawling place that we've actually found it really hard to identify a kind of 'scene' as such. At least for what we want to do. The city's definitely influenced us as far as it's the place we live in - but I don't think we can really claim a kind of Clash-esque London thing. It's something I really like about touring is getting to see other cities music scenes and the way they work/the people that make them work. It's inspiring.

AM: I absolutely loved your NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert. What was it like doing that/gaining more recognition in general?

BENJI COMPSTON: It's was kind of surreal...and nerve wracking. Bob Boilen gave us an enormous bag of protein bars to keep us alive on the road. It was cool to check out the NPR offices. They have nice water fountains.

AM: Your music has been described as slacker-rock, what do you guys think of that classification?

JON-EE ALLAN: I don't mind too much either way. People need a way of categorizing things. It always frustrates me when people take that label to assume a lack of effort or thought though - that's my one misgiving.

AM: I can’t wait to see you guys live in Minnesota. What’s it like touring in the U.S. and was this always a goal for you?

JON-EE ALLAN: Long. Drives. I love touring the US. There's something a little more wild and almost primeval about certain parts of the US. Like anything could happen. There's no end to the amount of weird situations you can end up in as 3 effete British guys and 1 French one, left at the mercy of the United States of America. Our taxi driver was a neo-nazi once. That was uncomfortable. We met a guy in Missoula who made a living by purposely getting himself hit by cars. He showed us all his scars - he lived off the payouts. He'd been hit 4 times.

AM: How does your live set differ from your studio work? Do you think it’s important for people to experience your music in a live setting?

JON-EE ALLAN: It took a bit of getting used to how much less controlled it is for us. But we enjoy that side of it a lot now. If we had more money for equipment and rehearsals maybe it would be more similar to the record... We have a bunch of ideas for expensive stage props, but no financial way of realizing them yet. I don't know how many people would get behind a Kickstarter campaign for an indoor beach.

AM: I love how much of a presence simple and beautiful guitar melodies have in many of your songs, especially where lyrics don’t come in until later in the song. Where does that come from? Do you think that allows for more attention to lyrics (specifically in a song like “Weird Little Birthday Girl”)?

JON-EE ALLAN: We just had no appreciation of any of the rules when we wrote those songs. Like getting a song accepted for radio, or what constituted a viable single. It's probably kind of a sociopathic musical streak - we find it impossible to tell what people's' reaction will be to anything we do - so we try to just doing what we want and hope it aligns with other people on some level.

AM: What’s next for Happyness?

JON-EE ALLAN:  Niagara Falls this afternoon and then a show in Cleveland tonight. We've got a few festivals this summer - and we want to record some more music - it's the nicest thing recording music when you've just released an album - the "next-release" pressure is so far in the future, there's something very clear and blissful and uplifting about recording music right in the rain-shadow of an album.

You can see all of Happyness's US tour dates here, and listen to Write In below.

A Chat With: Meg Mac

Australian singer-songwriter Meg Mac combines her soulful vocals with pop melodies to craft irresistible tunes, like the viral "Roll Up Your Sleeves," which has racked up over 9 million Spotify streams. Prior to the July 14th release of her debut album, Meg will tour North America playing some of the new songs, returning for the first time since she supported D'Angelo on a 2015 tour. In advance of the tour next month, we had a chat with Meg to get the scoop on the upcoming album, her influences, her advice on dealing with jet lag, and more! 

Photo Credit: Metaxia Coustas 

Photo Credit: Metaxia Coustas 

ANCHR Magazine: Congratulations on your debut album coming out later this year! Can you tell us a little bit about the songwriting and recording process of the album?

Meg Mac: Thank you! I really wanted to make my first album simple.  I write all my songs at the piano and I played on most of the album. I wanted it to feel and sound like you were in the studio with me when you listen to the album. Just me and my songs without anything getting in the way.

AM: You’ve cited Edith Piaf and Carole King as influences for the album. Did you pull inspiration from any other art mediums or nonmusical influences when writing the songs?

MM: Edith Piaf said she wanted to make people cry even when they don’t understand her words. I love the idea of that. When I am writing I’m always inspired by something personal, something I am experiencing. I have to feel strongly enough about something to sing about it. 

AM: Which of the new songs are you most looking forward to playing live, and what can we expect from the live show?

MM: There’s a song on my album called "Ride It." Recording this song is what inspired me to get my first electric guitar from New York and learn how to play. Obviously it features guitar, but it also has an energy on it that I haven’t had before, and I can play around with that on stage.

AM: Which cities are you most looking forward to on the upcoming tour?

MM: I’m excited to come back to a lot of the places I’ve been before. My last tour in the states was with D’Angelo and I fell in love with a few places. But I’m pretty happy about playing my first show in San Francisco.

AM: Since you’re coming to tour The States all the way from Australia, what are your best tips for staying entertained on long flights and dealing with jetlag?

MM: Don’t take daytime naps.

AM: I saw you tweeted about Firefly Festival and being in disbelief you’re on the same poster as Bob Dylan. Who else on the Firefly lineup are you hoping to see while you’re there?

MM: I’d love to see Banks - she’s playing the same day as me.

AM: I also saw on your social media that your sister is in your band and plays on some songs on your album. Is your whole family pretty much musical, and when did you first get into making your own music? 

MM: Yeah my little sister sings in my band and every now and then she comes in to the studio. Singing is just what we did in our house growing up - it was normal.

AM: What other bands are you listening to at the moment? 

MM: I have been getting into Father John Misty and also going back and loving Tracey Chapman.

You can pre-order Low Blows here, and grab your tickets to see Meg Mac at Schubas Tavern on 6/20 here. Get ready for the show and the album by listening to Meg's debut EP below. 

A Chat With: Julia Jacklin

Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin has had a year as incredible as the songs she writes...releasing her debut album, touring nonstop, and being announced on massive festival lineups all over the world, like Glastonbury and Spendour In The Grass. Her music blends her rich and haunting vocals with retro-tinged folk music, and a pinch of twang. In the midst of her current North American tour, Julia took some time to chat with us about her first album and what's in store for her this year. Get to know Julia Jacklin now before she takes summer 2017 by a storm.

Thumbnail Photo Credit: Scarlett Mckee

Photo Credit: Nick McKinley

Photo Credit: Nick McKinley

ANCHR Magazine: Congrats on releasing your debut album last year... it’s a big accomplishment! What have been some highlights for you since you’ve released it?

Julia Jacklin:  I’ve kind of been on tour since I released it. So I’ve done a lot of things. Playing music festivals has been cool. We’s a pretty big bill back home, it’s a festival called Laneway Festival. We got to do that, which was like a teenage dream come true. We did Tiny Desk two days ago, which was also on the list of dreams.

AM: Cool! Talking more about your music, you wrote, starred in, and directed the video for “Leadlight." Was that your first experience directing?

JJ: The first one I did was “Pool Party” actually. I released that quite a long time before I released the record. That was my first experience, just kind of coming from having to make it work. I needed a music video and had to make it happen.

AM: Do you have any interest or background with films, or was it really that you just needed someone to direct it and stepped into that role yourself?

JJ: I definitely have an interest...I definitely have a lot to learn in that regards. I’m a person who has grown up watching many things. It’s something that I ended up really enjoying, but honestly it wasn’t like an “Oh, I really want to do this all on my own.” It was like I just had to do it.

AM: Do you have any all-time favorite music videos that you were inspired by when you were planning what you were going to do for your own music videos?

JJ: Probably my favorite is a Grimes clip, called “Oblivion.” Have you seen that one, where she’s in like a football field? It’s really cool. I wish it was my music video.

AM: Cool! So then as far as the live show, what have been some of your favorite songs from the album to play live since you’ve played a bunch of shows since the release? Are there any that have sort of changed and transformed in the live sense?

JJ: Yeah, they’ve all kind of changed over time. They’re quite a lot bigger than on the record now. I’ve kind of had a few---just cause I’m touring a lot in many different places, I’ve had a few line up changes in the band. That’s always changing the songs in a way. I definitely hated a couple of songs a few months ago and now I’m enjoying them. It kind of changes all the time. I’ve been really enjoying playing “Leadlight” lately. Which I was always really scared of for some reason. It was always the one song in the set that I was thinking I was gonna screw up.

AM: So you’ve had a few different line up changes with touring different countries. What’s the current set up on this tour?

JJ: I’ve got Eddie from back home. He’s played with me the whole time. Then I have Ian and Ben from Toronto, who joined a couple of weeks ago. They are fantastic. We’ve been really getting to know each other.

AM: Nice! Any random outings or fun stories from this tour so far?

JJ: It's been a very chill tour so far. The whole first part was driving up the west coast of America, and getting to see the Red Woods. Like staying in really secluded Air BnBs, and just feeling like a real tourist for once. Instead of like a really tired musician just coming in and out of cities and never really seeing anything. I felt like I really got to see some of America this time.

AM: Any cities coming up that you’re excited to go to on this tour?

JJ: We’re going to a few places on this tour we’ve never been to, like Raleigh and Atlanta. So I’m just keen to see what the deal is, what’s going on. I’m pretty excited about playing in New Orleans. I’ve been there a few times as a backpacker, just wandering around, soaking it all in. It’s a nice turn of life events that I’m gonna play there.

AM: That should be great. I hear a lot of musicians say they like playing there because the crowd is really receptive.

JJ: Totally, yeah.

AM: Have there been any culture shocks for you playing in America? It sounds like you’ve been here before even as a backpacker, but anything being a musician that is completely different here than back home?

JJ: It's very different to back home, as there’s so many more cities and venues to play. In Australia it’s like you tour for a week and you’ve pretty much covered it. Really long distances between places as well, and you have to fly. That’s super different- being in a new place every four hours that seems to have a pretty different culture, like food-wise and the music scene seems to change a lot between each state. It’s a completely different experience than back home. It kind of feels like you’re in different countries every couple of days.

AM: What’s been the most surprising show, like where the crowd or city was different to what you thought it would be like?

JJ: We just played in Montreal actually, and that was quite different to what I was expecting. Just a very a vocally appreciative crowd. They were yelling a lot at me, but nice things. Kind of throughout the whole set. They were really into it.

AM: So kind of circling back, do you have anyone who inspired you to start making music? Both musical and nonmusical, what first inspired you to start writing and playing an instrument?

JJ: I guess my friend to be honest. My friend Liz, who I got to know when I was 18. She was a massive fan of like Annie DiFranco and she had a classical guitar. She used to do really cool finger picking, and I was like I really want to be just like you. So I bought a classical guitar and started doing exactly what she was doing. We still play music together. She’s been the biggest thing for me in the beginning. The first band I was in was with her, and she’s just someone I really looked up to.

AM: Very cool. So are there any new albums or bands that you’re listening to a lot?

JJ: I’ve been listening to Mitski’s new record a lot. That’s been a big favorite. I’ve just discovered Cass McCombs. I’m very late to the bandwagon on that, but I’ve been enjoying listening.

AM: So then last thing, you’re on the Splendour in the Grass line up. It’s a big Australian festival and your first time playing it right?

JJ: Yeah the first time, it feels really good.

AM: Awesome, so anyone else on the line up you’re hoping to check out?

JJ: Well we have to fly straight to LA to play FYF Fest. So it’s one of those things where it’s like oh cool there’s all these great people playing, but we have to play and leave straight away to get to the airport. Which is usually the case it seems with music festivals once you start playing them. So I’m choosing not to look at the lineup and when people play so I don’t get disappointed.

AM: Anything else you’re looking forward to this year?

JJ: We’re moving to Spain in a month, doing the European Festival circuit, doing like Green Man, Glastonbury, and Primavera. So I’m really looking forward to that. Summer time festival life.

AM: Very cool. Are you writing new material on tour?

JJ: Yeah I have been. We had quite a lot of down time at the beginning of this tour, so hopefully I’ll have something new soon.

Follow along with all things tour and other updates from Julia here.  Chicago, you can see Julia Jacklin with Andy Shauf this Saturday, May 13th. Grab tickets to their show at Lincoln Hall here, and get ready for the show by listening to Julia's debut album below!

A Chat With: Little Cub

Electro-indie pop trio Little Cub are less than a month away from the release of their debut album, Still Life. Band members Dominic Gore, Duncan Tootill, and Ady Acolatse now reside in South London, but they went through a period of time working as a long distance group, when Duncan relocated to New York. Through the years together, they were able to overcome those challenges and produce an 11-track diverse and dynamic album. Before the April 28th release date of said album, we chatted about everything from their influences, their struggles as a long distance band, and what's next for them this year. Get to know the up and coming group Little Cub now! 

Little Cub is Dominic Gore, Duncan Tootill, and Ady Acolatse  Photo Credit: Megan Eagles 

Little Cub is Dominic Gore, Duncan Tootill, and Ady Acolatse

Photo Credit: Megan Eagles 

ANCHR Magazine: What first got each of you inspired to pick up an instrument and start making music?

Dominic Gore: I grew up in a musical family, both my parents were classical musicians and, even after they broke up, so much of my youth was spent listening to them. It was always the part of their lives where they best expressed themselves and even though their struggles should have been enough to put me off I was too young to appreciate how difficult their lives must have been until I'd been hooked myself. We always had good records around and even before I could really play, my friends and I used to collect and listen to CDs so it was kind of inevitable. 

Combined with good teachers and lots of opportunities to play, I was pretty lucky... Though I didn't really feel any desire to write songs until my Mum passed away, and then it became the sort of central focus of my life after that. 

Duncan Tootill: When I was little, I apparently used to appropriate my toys to use as musical instruments, no matter what it was; so after that (age 6) my Grandad brought a trumpet ‘round and I was instantly obsessed.

Ady Acolatse: I started on cello in primary school. There was this government scheme where everyone in my year at school could play an instrument if they wanted to and get a free instrument loan and lessons. Cello was the only instrument on the list I didn’t know and I remember asking my friend who was sat next to me in class what it was. He told it was a big wooden thing with a spike in it so I was instantly sold. I then moved on to double bass and piano. Bass guitar actually came a lot later for me.

AM: How are you feeling now that you’ve finished a debut album that will be heard by the world soon? 

DG:  Just excited really. These songs are very much snapshots of moments from the last few years of our lives and because a lot of the subject matter deals with our experiences of issues that are going on right now, it'll be interesting to see how people connect with them. We've been lucky so far that people who've heard the album seem to have a lot to say on it.

AM: In your bio, it’s stated: “Too Much Love", and much of the album is loosely thematically based on the Oscar Wilde quote "I represent all the sins you will never have the courage to commit.” What was it about that quote that inspired you, and where else did you pull inspiration from for the album’s theme?

DG: Yes definitely. I like the Dorian thing (and Will Self's retelling of a few years ago) because I think that feeling of seeing your emotional response corrupted as Dorian's is very much correlates to our experience of going through your twenties...particularly living in London. Be it through relationships, bereavement, partying, politics, pop culture or religion. A lot of pop music is by its nature self aggrandizing, but we're not really like that as people. I like the idea that Dorian is constantly trying to be outrageous and devoid of emotion, but at the same time he is sad and kind of ridiculous, so that seemed sort of fitting. That film The Comedy pretty much sums up the idea of seeing the absurd and grotesque elements of the whole thing, but still not being able to totally separate yourself from it. As the themes on the record all link to us dealing with real life situations, there are obviously references to people who helped us deal with those situations. We've commented a bit on poets and writers (Auden, Larkin, Ballard, Greene, Fisher) that influenced us, but one of the things I loved about being into bands when I was younger was all the influences [like] books, films, and artists, that you could discover just by being fans of a band. So a lot of our influences come from other musicians in that sense. 

AM: When you were working as a long-distance band with Duncan being in New York, what were some of the biggest challenges?

DG: Not being able to play live and having to wait on the time difference. We learned a lot about Ableton, production, and recording over the course of the process, and as we're all quite thoughtful and like to really put something through the mill before we sign off on it. Perhaps it's better that sometimes things took a bit longer. That being said, now that we're discovering how great playing live is, I can't believe we weren't doing this sooner.

AM: What are some of your favorite songs on the album, or the songs that you’re most excited to share with your fans?

DG: "October" and "Snow." "Snow" is the most personal thing we've written and we're hugely proud of that one. ‘October’ reminds me of a lot of the pop music that I loved as a kid and it's a very thinly veiled jab at the previous leader of the UK Conservative party so it works on both levels for me.

AA: I think for me, at the moment it might be "Mulberry". I think maybe because of how it's been connecting people when we play the song live has given it a whole new meaning to me and changed how I hear it. We wrote the song to start almost as a ballad that draws you in and then let the song build towards a way more upbeat, emotional and hopefully satisfying chorus at the end. All the shows we've being doing recently we've managed to get the whole room dancing by the end which when you're playing to people who have never heard our music before is a great feeling.

A lot of pop music is by its nature self aggrandizing, but we’re not really like that as people. I like the idea that Dorian is constantly trying to be outrageous and devoid of emotion, but at the same time he is sad and kind of ridiculous, so that seemed sort of fitting.
— Dominic Gore on the theme of "Still Life"

AM: I saw you recently released a remix for Wild Beasts, how did that opportunity come up? Are there any other bands or artists you’d really like to either work with or remix?

DG: Well, they're on the same label and we know their managers a bit. We've actually met them a few times, but I'm a big fan so I've probably embarrassed myself to the point of erasing it from my memory. As we make a lot of more club friendly music too, we really enjoy and believe in the remix as an art form so any opportunity to remix an artist always appeals. We really like Dan Snaith’s remixes even though they often end up sounding more like new caribou songs than remixes. Working on John Grant,Pet Shop Boys, New Order, Jon Hopkins, Pepe Braddock or Leon Vynehall would be pretty special.

AM: You’ve got an album release show in the books, but are there any plans to tour more when the record comes out? Anywhere in the world particularly that you’d really like to play?

DT: Absolutely, we're hoping to sort out a tour with Rhythm Method soon as we love those guys. The album's out on April 28th so we'll definitely be out on the road round then. Right now, I think playing Berlin is on the top of our list.

AM: If you could curate a music festival, who are 3-5 acts (dead or alive) that you would you pick to headline?

Little Cub: Kraftwerk, Nick Cave, Peter Gabriel's Genesis....Would probably be a pretty fitting selection

AM: What other bands are you listening to at the moment?

LC: Hudson Scott, Leon Vynehall, [and] Boxed In. Sam and Oli are both good friends and artists we've worked with a lot so they definitely make the list. Leon Vynehall is a hero so....

AM: What are some of your favorite venues in London?

LC: Electrowerkz & the Lexington are favorites. Then Rye Wax, The Nines and all that Peckham's got to offer!

Little Cub have their newest single “Hypnotise” out today. Check out the video and get hyped for Still Life, which you can preorder here