My goal is to introduce you to music that doesn’t fit in your “I only like pop/country/rock etc genre”. There are so many songs & artists to explore that are waiting for you to discover them. I am here to help. Let me be “Your Music Stylist”
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Stay tuned for artist interviews… and catch me on my Instagram @music_stylist for more updates on new music.
There are so many talented singers out there & I have discovered that if I look right in my very own backyard here in Rhode Island, there are plenty of them waiting to be discovered….and I’ve been lucky enough to see her perform… this is Lainey Dionne.
Q: I’m not going to brag too much here but I could tell right away how talented you were when I saw you perform as the opening artist for a NewportFILM event about 2 yrs ago at The Eisenhower House….you have that “it” sound that makes you stand out among other artists. When did you realize you could actually sing? Did your family encourage you to pursue music?
A: Wow. Thank you so much, what a nice compliment! I was always singing from as far as I could remember. I remember singing Charlotte Church and Disney in the bathtub when I was really little because I liked the way it echoed. My parents had me take piano lessons at 6 years old and always encouraged me to pursue music. My dad taught me my first 90’s song on guitar when I was 10. They supported my first year at Berklee and I will be forever grateful for everything they’ve done for me. I wouldn’t be where I am, pursuing what I love without them.
Q: It’s been hard for musicians especially local artists here in RI because of all the COVID restrictions…have you been able to maintain any means of profiting from music maybe it’s live stream donations or an online music platform like Bandcamp?
A: After a couple of months with no gigs, I was finally able to play outdoors in the summer while social distancing. I am extremely immune compromised so I had to bring a barrier fence with me wherever I played – what strange times! It was such a relief to be able to play again, but then the colder months came and it would be too much of a risk to play indoors with my condition, so I had to jump into the livestream world. So many people are struggling financially right now, so I perform live for free and am grateful for any donations or gratuities.
Q: Who do you consider a great songwriter & who do you compare yourself with in terms of your songwriting style?
A: Oh such a hard question! I would say Lorde, Taylor Swift and Coldplay are amazing writers because their lyrics are unlike anything you hear on a regular basis. Who mentions “Nike’s”, “homemade dynamite” or “science” in a song and make it work so effortlessly. They have unexpected clever lyrics. I would compare myself to Gabrielle Aplin – she is a huge inspiration of mine. I feel like our voices are really similar and our writing is more straight forward with the occasional spontaneous phrase.
Q: Choose 3 musicians: Who would you sing a duet with, go on tour with and go to the after party with?
A: I would sing a duet with EDEN, go on tour with Lorde and go to the after party with Sigrid. EDEN has a voice that makes you feel his pain with instrumentals that make you feel like you’re floating in the stars. I’d LOVE to be on tour with Lorde because she is a huge inspiration and her concerts look incredible and creative. And I’d go to the after party with Sigrid because she is quirky, hilarious and super chill.
Q: Besides all the chaos in 2020, you were able to release 2 singles… Hey London and Skin…tell me about what both of these songs mean to you & the story behind each one.
A: Hey London is an empowering bop written about dumping dudes that aren’t giving you the attention you deserve. I personify London throughout the song. The city is filled with people and beautiful to the eye, but there isn’t enough room for me there – just like how the relationship may look good to other people on the surface but deep down you know he’s not making the time for you. You deserve better so you’re “over it”! This song is a great feel good song after a breakup.
Skin was inspired by a low time in my life. It touches on depression and denial while being in a toxic relationship. You get so used to the abuse cycle that you become numb to it and are a stranger to yourself pretending that everything’s okay. It’s tough to get out of that cycle or to even realize you’re in that cycle. This song is a wake up call that you are becoming a similar version of yourself due to the actions of someone else and that’s not what love is.
Q: What does a typical day for Lainey look like?
A: Well now, it’s Zoom calls in pajama pants hahaha. Mostly it’s coming up for new songs for my set list, teaching piano, guitar & voice to my students, walking my dogs, doing some work on the business end of the music industry, maybe doing a co-write, playing some video games or watching the next trending show on Netflix and then doing some yoga before bed. It’s not as exciting as pre pandemic Lainey. I used to travel A LOT for tour and out of the country on adventures.
Q: What do you consider some of your biggest accomplishments in 2020 both in your personal and professional music career?
A: I love my new sound and it was incredible to be able to release that to the world this last year and to have people welcome it with open arms. I was ready to add the pop element to my folk roots and I’m excited to show everyone more of that! In 2020, I won the AC Award in the Unsigned Only Competition, which was amazing, along with placing in a few other competitions including the semi-finals of the International Songwriting Competition. Personally, this year was more difficult than I could imagine and I’m proud that I’m still pushing through.
Q: Where can fans find your music?
A: You can find my music on every single music service out there! My favorites are Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, Youtube, Amazon and Pandora. All links can be found at http://laineydionne.com and I would love it if you subscribe and check it out!
Thank you Lainey… and good luck in the ISC competition. And make sure to follow her on Instagram at laineysmusic.
Stay tuned for more interviews coming soon… and if you, your band would like an interview or have a new release coming or even have a suggestion on who you’d like to see me interview, send me a DM on IG at music_stylist.
I happen to have been scrolling through Instagram looking for artists to reach out to and was lucky enough to find Dillon.. Amazingly talented singer and songwriter… yay me!
Q: You live in Nashville….it has such a rich culture in music history….was that a place you have always aspired to immerse yourself in?
A: There was a long stretch of time when I couldn’t imagine much more than immersing myself in whatever green room I was in, but when things slowed down, Nashville was on my mind. It’s kind of like a goldfish at the County Fair. They keep them in those little bags, and some kid popped 5 balloons or made it through the ring of death without puking will bring it home and keep it in a cup on the mantle or something. The goldfish spends two weeks staying cup sized and then it dies. What people don’t know about responsible goldfish care is that if you put it in a proper good sized tank, it’ll grow bigger and more gold. I think Nashville lets you grow as big as you want. At the very least, I had to give it a shot. I didn’t want to be found floating cup sized and belly up.
Q: Do you consider yourself a songwriter first & then a singer or does that go hand in hand? Because you really are a great storyteller with your lyrics.
A: I think they’re hand in hand. Anytime I start thinking I’m more of a writer that just means I’m taking it too seriously. I wrote the songs to sing them. In the end, it’s entertainment and I want to be entertaining. Usually how I know if I like something or not is if it makes me laugh. That doesn’t always mean it’s supposed to be funny. But if I’m laughing, I’m doing my job right, whatever the hell my job is.
Q: You have a new song out, Now That It’s All Over, on Bandcamp that will be on an upcoming album releasing on March 26….and Margo Price , who is phenomenal, sings with you on vocals. Did you write the 2nd vocal track with her in mind? Tell me more about the story behind this song.
A: I didn’t necessarily write it with her in mind, but her whole band backs me up on the record and her and I kept talking about having her in and singing on a song. I was wondering what song would be best and I think Drew Carroll (the engineer of all my stuff and most trusted musical confidant) suggested she sing on the song. A lightbulb went off in my head and it was just the perfect choice. Margo has lived a thousand lives and she knew exactly what to do with that song. Now I don’t even like playing it without her singing on it.
Q: You also play guitar in Courtney Marie Andrews’ band. I saw her a couple of years ago at The Newport Folk Festival & Deer Tick & Friends After Show…so I’m thinking I probably saw you as well? Are there any festivals, once this pandemic settles down, that you’d love to play as a solo artist?
A: I was there one of those years, but I had just tagged along. If you saw me, I was probably double fisting tequila while security checked my badge for the thousandth time wondering how the hell I got in. I think at this point I’m just excited to play anywhere, you don’t realize how much you miss something until it’s gone.
Q: And speaking of Deer Tick, I believe I told you, your voice really reminds me of John McCauley a lot…. Who are some singer/songwriters that you look up to & would love to perform with?
A: There are certainly more singers and writers who have influenced me than I could count but I know Margo and Courtney are there right at the top. Jeremy Ivey is up there as well. If I had to make a Mt Rushmore, it would probably have Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Tom Waits, Randy Newman and Warren Zevon. How many faces are on Mt Rushmore? I’d probably have to find a bigger mountain. If I could perform with anybody, I’d probably want to play piano for Paul Robeson as he sang any song he wanted to sing.
Q: What is your favorite go to, kick back and relax beverage after a night of playing a great show?
A: Tequila, the great betrayer.
Q: Who were your Top 5 Artists on Spotify for 2020? Songs?
A: My Spotify is all out of wack. Probably, “Wat Da Hook Gon Be” by Murphy Lee & “Low Rider” by War. All the names I mentioned above. I’ll listen to the same song 30 times in a row. People around me can’t stand it when I’m in charge of the music.
Q: Where can fans find your music and buy your merch?
A: Right now just at my Bandcamp. I’ve been laying the tracks as the train runs. I didn’t expect people to respond to it so now I’m scrambling. I couldn’t think of a better problem.
You can also find Dillon on Instagram at dillonwarnek. And don’t forget March 26th, his new album drops on Bandcamp.
Stay tuned for more interviews coming your way.. If you would like to promote new music or would like an interview, please contact me at my IG at music_stylist or email email@example.com.
The thing I love about Instagram is that there are so many great bands out there just waiting for me to discover & I’m glad I found these guys. Let me introduce you to The Break Plans..
Q: So tell me how the band got together….something about a Craigslist ad?
A: Lol! Yea that’s exactly right! Colton was looking for a band after years of trying to be a solo artist and Mikey was looking for a singer. So one day I (Mikey) decided to check out Craigslist to see if anyone was out there looking to collaborate, especially a singer and I stumbled upon Colton’s full page advertisement. Usually Craigslist is a dead end for musicians in our genre but surprisingly he was into a lot of bands that I liked including Coldplay, The Killers, The Beatles. We ended up meeting at a neutral location like it was a first date and the rest is history. Also just to add, not too long after that both Colton and I met Dan, our incredibly talented drummer on Instagram. So we’d like to thank the internet for being invented. LOL.
Q: Your musical style is kind of pop with an alternative edge to it…who inspires you as musicians?
A: We’re sort of all over the place with our inspirations honest. I think the one thing we can definitely agree on is that we love pop music and catchy hooks. It’s actually funny because growing up I was heavily influenced by my father’s love for music and The Beach Boys. Oddly enough, Colton was influenced by his parents love for The Beatles, which were both rock bands but with their own take on making pop music. As I got older, I really got into pop punk music and not going to lie but even enjoyed the guilty pleasures like boy band music. I think I really found my inspiration though when The Killers put out Hot Fuss, which is an incredible album. The balance of indie-new wave and anthemic rock that The Killers put into that album was everything I could ever want in music. Also, I can’t forget to mention Coldplay and Avicii were also huge inspirations for us too, especially Colton. I think Colton wishes he could come back in another life as a famous Swedish DJ.
Q: Hailing from NJ, what are some of of the local venues that you’ve played in that are some of your favorite?
A: We actually have played in different bands before we were The Break Plans, and fortunately enough to have had the chance to play in tons of venues in Jersey. Pre The Break Plans, The Stone Pony was always a favorite venue of mine because the sound in that place really made you feel like you were larger than life! Unfortunately when our band was just getting started with playing live shows, the pandemic shut everything down so we actually only played a few select shows in Jersey. We played our first show last January at The Saint in Asbury Park and it was unreal how amazing that show was. So many people came out to see a brand new band play its first show that we will always treasure it! Moving forward we have always said that The House of Independents is our main focus and goal. We think that venue is within reach for us soon and hope we can make it happen!
Q: What has the band been doing during shutdowns & quarantines to keep fans up to date & hearing your latest music? Live streams?
A: We started the pandemic era with doing lots of Instagram Lives and quarantine videos and released some new music in-between there. We also ran some contests to name our song “city lights” as well as merch contests. We also did a bunch of podcast interviews, which was super awesome to keep our fans in the loop. Overall, though we have been working on new music and trying to get up and ready for Spring and Summer.
Q: The band released 3 singles in 2020.,. Let Go, City Lights and Crossroads… all of these songs sound like they belong in a tv show or film trailer…they must have that familiarity that makes me want to keep listening to them over and over. How long did it take to record? Are you working on a full length album?
A: Well, thank you so much for saying that! We hear that often that our songs have a “coming of age” sound or could be heard in a movie! At first, I didn’t know if that was a good thing but after really hearing further feedback about it, I was blown away by how much people like the music. Ultimately, the songs do not take long to be recorded. We basically hit the studio and track our instruments. Dan takes about 20 minutes to drum out his parts (literally – it’s crazy how good he is) we work on some sound design and then Colton, who’s flawless in the studio, lays down his vocals. The songwriting and prep does take some time and can be exhausting and tedious. I’m a perfectionist and can’t put my stamp of approval on anything until a I feel it’s ready. It drives Colton crazy sometime but I think he has also learned that we need to raise the bar every time we write new music.
Q: What did you guys do over the holidays? Best gift you received, best gift given?
A: I smoked smoked a lot of meat! If you saw my Instagram stories, I gave a play by play of my smoking process! I actually got a new car finally! So that was a nice present. I had been driving around in my wife’s old SUV and finally after the exhaust went and I started sounding like an old motorcycle, it was time to move on! Colton bought himself a new computer, which was much deserved! I also bought Colton a pair of white skinny jeans so maybe he’ll wear them someday! I didn’t ask Dan what he got for Christmas. It he’s always a good guy so he probably got everything he wanted from Santa!
Q: You are going on a national tour & you have to choose an opening act. Who it be and why?
A: Well I would say The Killers or Coldplay but then again I don’t think anyone would stick around to watch us after as the headliner! Honestly, we haven’t toured before as The Break Plans so just touring and being an opener would be an honor in its own! But we would love to tour with bands like Lovelytheband or Smallpools maybe even The Bleachers…ohhhh Neon Trees would be an amazing band to tour with. I know we’re shooting for the stars with wishing to play with these bands but heh, who knows, maybe someday.
Q: Where can fans find your merch & music?
A: So our biggest home base is Instagram. So if you’re looking to interact with us or find the latest news head directly over there at thebreakplans. But the one place where you can find merch and music is by clicking on our link tree site which takes you to every streaming platform we are on and our merch store. https://linktr.ee/thebreakplans
Thanks guys for the great interview! If you’re band has new music that you want to put out or get on my IG story, send me a DM through IG on music_stylist or if you would like an interview as well.
When I am looking for indie artists to interview I thoroughly scour over every article I can find on new music releases, emerging artists, upcoming livestreams, etc. So when I discovered the band Hennessey, I thought, Holy Shit!! This is some of the best music I’ve heard in a very long time, how can I get in touch with them? And Ta da!!, here it is!!
Q: When looking up some research for your band, one of the most common things written was that you are a “hipster band from NY”..Is that how you see yourself? How would you define the “hipster sound”? The band consists of Leah Hennessey on vocals & EJ O’Hara on keyboards..whose idea was it to get the band together?
A: When we were in high school, there was simply no greater pleasure than railing against “these fucking hipsters” or “those fucking hipsters”, constantly pointing the finger, while knowing full well that three fingers were always pointing back at us. Now I think in this post-hipster era, there’s something perversely satisfying about admitting that our band is a fucking hipster band. There is a clear lineage of snarky, poetic, arty freaks making clever music to dance to – from Le Tigre and LCD Soundsystem back to The B-52’s or anything on Factory Records or Ze Records — and I think we’re part of the lineage, and what else do you call but hipster music? I had been in bands before but never writing my own songs. EJ was always my favorite producer and maker of music on the computer and it was a dream for many years to get him to have a real band with me, ding my songs. The band is also really our two guitar players, Noah Chevan and Malachy O’Neil, who we play with live (rarely simultaneously though) and on recordings, but in this new quarantined situation the core of the band has really been me and EJ.
Q: I watched some of your videos on Facebook & I’m really excited for you guys in terms of where your band is going. You really have that uniqueness with the electronic, rock, 80’s new wave style & the way you command the stage…it’s just refreshing..What does the band miss the most about performing live in front of an audience?
A: I live to perform live and after a few months of not performing, I start to wonder if I exist. There is a certain self in me that cannot speak or move without the performance mode, and that self is currently in some kind of teenage angst with the door slammed shut, and I have to just give it space to sulk and wait till it’s safe for it to come out again.
Q: New single coming out today, Jan 29th.. what is the story behind the song? Where do you get a lot of your inspiration for your lyrics?
A: The new song is called, “8 Men” and it’s about how the eight richest men in the world have more money than everyone else in the world combined. That number and ranking continues to fluctuate (now I think Elon Musk has more money than all of them) but the situation is the same. The wealth inequality on the planet is unfathomable – it’s too vast and drastic and brutal for me to even wrap my mind around. This handful of guys has enough money to feed and house and educate and provide healthcare for every single one of us – it’s not a shortage of resources that condemns so many of us to poverty and starvation. I was looking at some oversimplified info graphic about the eight richest men and I thought about reposting it and I was just hit with such a wave of nausea at the futility and hypocrisy of posting something so obvious and reductive (and on Mark Zuckerberg’s own platform – ultimately generating more revenue for Facebook/Instagram)….so I said fuck it and wrote a song instead, which I think expresses some of the absurdity I feel about even talking about this stuff. And I’m still going to post the song on Instagram.
Q: What have you guys been doing during this crazy stay at home/quarantining type of atmosphere?
A: My friends and I started a songwriting workshop and every Thursday we have to bring in a new song and play it for the group. The critique is very insightful and inspiring but the best thing is the discipline we’ve all developed just by forcing a song a week. That’s how I wrote this song and I never would have recorded it if my friends hadn’t been so receptive and amused.
Q: Scenario: The band is going on a national tour… you have to pick 1 artist/band to open for you, 1 band/artist to come on stage and sing with you and 1 band/artist to hang/party with you after the show. You also get to choose the venue to start the tour….
A: I can’t imagine a world where she would be opening for us and not the other way around but it would be my dream to have Macy Rodman open for us. I’m also thinking practically, because she doesn’t usually play with a band, she just has tracks and her own superstar self, but I feel like she could tour the world with a Bluetooth speaker and cardboard guitar in a Swarovski catsuit & get any crowd screaming in heat.
Right now my new obsession is this Scottish bagpipe/small pipe player is Brighde Chaimbeul. Her album, The Reeling, has been on repeat for me while I bike up the freezing bike path along the Hudson. I have a fantasy about her playing on a Hennessey song, and maybe when we start putting the album together, I’ll work up the nerve to ask her.
Maybe this is just the 2020 homebody blues talking but my dream for after a show would be to be whispered to sleep by Jarvis Cocker. I’m not big on podcasts but when I can’t sleep, I listen to Jarvis’ Wireless Nights – it’s the exact mix of banal comfort and subtle eroticism I need to cross the threshold into the land of nod. He’s one of my all time favorite heroes and if we could hang out after a shoe, whether that entailed “partying”, chatting or just passing out, I would die a happy fan girl.
Q: I want people to be clear, you are Hennessey (the band) but if you Google the Band Hennessey, you’ll get an entirely different band and sound….since you are a relatively new band, has there been any confusion with this other band with the similar name?
A: I know it’s crazy to call the band Hennessey — I always have to specify that there’s an e at the end so it’s not like the cognac – and there are so many other Hennessey artists, but it’s what feels right to me.
Q: We Will Not Be Lovers is a cover by The Waterboys. I love what you did with their song. Any more plans on covering other artists & adding it to your next album?
A: We have been talking about a prog-disco cover of a certain folk song but I don’t want to jinx it.
Q: Where can fans listen to your music and buy your merch?
A: Here’s a link to our music on all platforms… https://sl.onerom.com/8men. We usually do small batches of T- shirts which I post on Instagram @hennessey_the_band.
Go check out their new single, 8 Men, out today wherever you stream music.
Make sure to check out my blog, where I have quite a few interviews lined up. Reach out through Instagram if interested in an interview.
Until next time, I’m Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias.
There are some bands that have interesting names & there’s usually some long story or unique incident how it came to fruition.. but by far one of the best names for a band that I’ve come across is, June Cleaver & The Steak Knives.. for those of you who are too young to remember the TV show, Leave it To Beaver, trust me it’s clever. So here’s my interview…
Q: So the band consists of brothers Chris and Pat Bradley..and you literally play every single instrument, do all the arrangements, editing, mixing, engineering, album artwork & shoot your music videos. Is there anything you can’t do?
A: Plenty. Balancing a checkbook, marketing, self-promotion, taxes. We’ve always produced our own music, partly out of the love for the experimentation involved in multi-tracking and also of wanting to be involved in every step of the process, but probably mostly out of necessity. We’ve been recording ourselves since we got our hands on a 4 track tape machine back in 1996. We’ve never been a traditional band that would rehearse and then pay for studio time. Maybe we’re control freaks, but we’ve never wanted to hand over the production reigns to anyone else. We’ve tried it before, but could never really find anyone who could do it quite right. However, we usually do have a trusted party master our records for us.
Q: The style of music you create really cannot be put into one or two genres..it really has so many layers & facets to it… it’s like experimental indie punk dreamlike fusion…how would you best describe the sound you are creating?
A: Actually, your description sounds pretty accurate. We’ve always had a very difficult time trying to categorize our sound. We’ve tried a few different boxes on for size, including “demented pop”, “schizophrenic ambient” and “dystopian art rock” but nothing really seems to encapsulate our overall sound completely. A very astute group of progressive rock fans (from a forum called Prog Archives http://www.progarchives.com/ had a lengthy, theoretical discussion about is on the matter about a decade ago. They finally settled on “eclectic prog” and I think that suits us. Our early music was a lot more experimental, creating mostly instrumentals. It evolved into more traditional structures over the years while retaining the same overall flavor we’ve had since the beginning.
Q: Whose idea was it for the band name?
A: Chris came up with it in a moment of deep clarity and vision. He had suggested the name for one of his bands when he was living in Florida, but they rejected it. It is at least a memorable name, and it seems that people either love it or hate it. It has conceptually been a deep well of inspiration for our visual ideas and branding.
Q: Deep Cuts & True Confessions.. good idea or bad idea? Are you running out of stories?
A: Never! But we’re always running out of time. Our focus has been on our newest project that will be both a full length album that comes with a beautifully illustrated book that seems to harken back to a time when people actually listened to records while studying the album artwork. There will be a huge amount of stories and characters to sift through. The Deep Cuts videos are fun, but we’ve got bigger fish to fry (or knives or sharpen) right now.
Q: I hear so many band similarities in your sound.. The Modern Lovers, The B-52’s, The Dead Milkmen, Talking Heads, Blitzen Trapper, The Cure.. I really could on and on but if you had to choose a few bands that you emulate sound from, who would it be?
A: It depends on the day, really. But I guess if we were to name a couple of bands that were huge influencers on us, first and foremost, we would have to acknowledge The Beatles. When we were little kids, we even started a band called The Crickets (not knowing much about Buddy Holly), where we tried to play along to Beatles’ albums and put on a few concerts for family members. Their music has been imprinted onto our DNA for years. We were also heavily influenced by The Doors, Radiohead to a degree, Frank Zappa. And then I think the most important bands that made us want to what we do would be The Residents & They Might Be Giants. And as far as what we actually sound like when all is said and done, we have heard from several varying sources that liken us to Echo and The Bunnymen, Talking Heads and King Crimson and a surprisingly long list of others.
A: How long did it take you to complete your last album, A Place Where Nobody Goes, from start to finish including album cover?
Q: Some of the songs go as far back as 2011, so about 8 years! Raising kids really got in the way. Also, our mother became sick with cancer and died in the midst of working on it – the album is dedicated to her. Since releasing that album, we’ve had a much more steady stream of musical output.
Q: For both of you, name a concert, other than your own, that you are looking forward to seeing in a post-COVID world.
Chris: a toss up between Primus covering Rush’s Farewell to the Kings album and Mr Bungle.
Pat: Lennon/Claypool Delirium or March Forth Marching Band or D D Dumbo.
Q: Where can fans buy your merch & stream your music?
A: http://cleavermusic.com We love to send people free music. We have a newsletter that comes out once or twice a month, chock full of artwork and links to songs and videos.
Well, I’m definitely signing up for that newsletter!! Thanks again to Chris and Pat for speaking with me. Make sure to check out their IG at: juneccleaverandthesteakknives.
I have several interviews coming up including Maddie Olds, Carrigan Nelson, Lainey Dionne, The Break Plans and many more in the works..
If interested in an interview or have new music you’d like me to hear, send me a message on my IG music_stylist.
Until next time, I’m Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias.
I really wanted to explore the local music scene from a younger person’s point of view so why not start with the teens in Rhode Island, where I live, more specifically on Aquidneck Island. AI is made up of 3 towns, Portsmouth, Middletown and Newport. So I want to introduce you to a very talented young man, at 14 years old, he started a hardcore punk band called Bullet Proof Backpack & his own record label, Youth Distribute.. this is Alex Simmons….
Q: Why do you think you relate so much to hardcore punk music? What is it about the music that you find so relatable?
A: I don’t know what draws me to punk, probably the community of people alike or the sense of no direction and chaos that it holds. The aggression and passion that is put into the music is another thing that I really like about punk.
Q: The Aquidneck Island local punk scene has some pretty good well known bands such as We Own Land & Never Coming Home but not so much hardcore punk like Bulletproof Backpack, the band you founded this year…..Who are the members of your band, what instruments do you play & who are some of the bands that you enjoy and find inspiration from?
A: We’re actually in the middle of transitioning members at the moment but it is me on vocals and guitar, Aidan, my sister on bass then our two friends Marie and Rob. Marie is on guitar and Rob is on drums. The music we play definitely takes a lot of inspiration from Black Flag, Poison Idea, SOA, Rampage, Boston Strangler, Infest and bands of that more harsh and fast style.
Q: I was a pretty big listener of punk music growing up in the 80’s and often would go back to listening to Repo Man Soundtrack and the band 7 Seconds and The Sex Pistols…if you had a chance to perform with any band of your choice, who would it be?
A: There’s a good range of bands BPB could fit in with, I think the dream show would be Minor Threat, Necros, Negative Approach and Black Flag, then on the other hand, Infest, Boston Strangler, Rival Mob and Siege.
Q: Talk about your 2 EP’s; Total Lockdown released in May ‘20 & the just recently released Never Obey.. I think TL is obvious what that refers to but talk about your writing process….are you constantly finding inspiration in everyday situations or using personal experiences for motivation for your lyrics?
A: The writing process is all over the place, I’d write some riffs, put them together, add drums and vocals then record. There’s not much to it haha. For lyrics, I just write down whatever comes to me at the time, most of the time, it is an emotion or experience I had or am going through.
Q: What kind of things besides music are you into?
A: I do a lot of art, play video games and watch tv, regular things I guess..
Q: Did Youth Distribute come soon after Bullet Proof Backpack? What type of projects is the label working on?
A: Youth Distribute did in fact come after BPB, I’m working on a compilation of a bunch of newer and younger bands and I needed somewhere to put it out, so I started Youth Distribute, but I also release music of my friends and my own,
Q: I always thought Aquidneck Island could use a good punk music festival…I think when COVID is under control, Youth Distribute might be able to sponsor something of a local event…Are those type of events something the label is looking to see more of on Aquidneck Island and particularly in Rhode Island?
A: I would love to see more shows on Aquidneck Island, bigger fests like Sound and Fury I’m really not into. I, personally, love small basement shows, that’s where more of the shows I go to are. But a bigger fest on Aquidneck Island, depending on location and bands, I’d be interested in, most likely I wouldn’t want to be a part of something like that.
Q: Where do you see hardcore punk music going in the next 5 years?
A: I could see punk in the same spot it is now, punk won’t die out as long as there are people who are interested, but I definitely plan to be doing the same things in five years. I’ll only be 19 at that point & I don’t think my love for punk can change in that little of time.
Q: Where can your fans find your merch & music to stream?
I first heard Van’s music when I was listening to multiple playlists on Spotify & was impressed by a cover of The Stooges, which I’ll ask him about later but for now let me introduce you to Van Hunt…
Q: You seem to have quite the musical ear..You started playing drums at age 7 and soon after learned to play the sax, bass and keyboards. How many instruments can you actually play? And are there any out there that you’d love to learn?
A: Haha! My biography makes my musicianship seem much more impressive than it is: i can get around on multiple instruments, but only out of necessity — in order to record my songs. I’m not by any means a virtuoso on any instrument. I am, however, confident I can play my songs differently than anyone else, and I can play other people’s songs in ways they never imagine. Lol.
Q: The Grammy nominations were just announced & you’re pretty familiar with getting the call. In ‘04, your single Dust was nominated for Best Urban/Alternative Performance; favorite song on the album btw and you won in ‘07 for Best Performance by a Duo or Group for the remake collab on Sly & The Family Stone’s ‘Family Affair’. What are the first words that pop into your brain when you hear your name announced as the winner? Any predictions on which artist will be the big artist of the night?
A: My first thought upon hearing my name announced was, “Oh, shit! You mean I gotta get up and talk in front of these people now?” I’m glad you like Dust.. it was the first song I wrote that I predicted would be popular with listeners. It seemed catchy but most of my songs become popular despite my predictions. Lol.. As for this year’s Grammys winner predictions, I didn’t even know the nominations had been announced…but since you asked I tasked myself with skimming over the list; I predict the night’s big winner will be Megan Thee Stallion.
Q: hopeless was just released in November but you actually wrote this song for Dionne Farris in ‘97. Why did you decide to record the song with your vocals & release?
A: ‘hopeless’ was my first song on the radio. It was such a special moment to write a song that’s being played, seemingly, everywhere. It was like a happy avalanche; where you’re buried under this acknowledgment from peers and listening public. There just aren’t many songs like that that a lot of songwriters have in their catalogue and the reason I recorded the song myself was simply because I felt I had something to contribute to its story. The version I released, “hopeless (penny witta a hole in it)’, is actually closer to the arrangement I had originally in my head before it was recorded back in ‘97.
Q: Who are some of your favorite songwriters? And which ones have had the greatest influence in your career so far?
A: Some of my favorite songwriters are Don Raye, Chuck Berry, Bobby Debarge, Molly Sarle, Kurt Vile…. the biggest influences have probably been Bach, Sly Stone and Billy Strayhorn..
Q: Lots of time in isolation in 2020, what type of hobbies, non-related, do you do to keep yourself busy?
Q: You appeared on Music Diaries in February of this year & spoke about rediscovering your passion for music. Talk a little bit about finding that passion again & why music draws you in emotionally while performing. Vocally & instrumentally, your music is so raw & moving.
A: Well, thank you. I separate songwriting into two parts: the art of storytelling – which is the work of the living, gathering material from the pieces of life, trauma, anxiety, etc. and then there’s the craftsmanship of songwriting – music production, arrangement, performance, engineering. I never lose passion for picking up instruments and making sound and rhythms, but it is the drool of music production and engineering that kills me. It’s a medium that’s subject to workflow issues and it can just kill a vibe…and then if I haven’t been bottled up – if I haven’t been absorbing information and processing without emotional release – then I don’t have this loaded creative force and when I am low on that then I am passionless. When I don’t bullshit myself- when I listen to the creativity working thru me and I pick up that instrument because I really have something to say, then the results can be “raw and moving”.
Q: You released a cover of The Stooges’ No Sense of Crime… your version reminds me of the musical style of Lenny Kravitz’s first album, Let Love Rule …. do you feel like you emulate other artists vocally?
A: I’m a HUGE fan of The Stooges, thru following Iggy Pop’s output, I found the collaboration with James Williamson on Kill City, the album ‘No Sense of Crime’ is on. I’m sure my rhythm and blues and gospel quartet influences show up like Sly Stone, Prince and The Williams Brothers.. I’m afraid I’m not well-versed on Lenny Kravitz’s catalogue but I know he is an iconic figure – so it is an honor to be mentioned alongside him.
I really have gotten into this band from Spotify making me daily playlists & the one they keep choosing for me is Mipso so I had to find out more about them..
Q: In 2011, the band formed at UNC & started as a trio, when did you decide to bring a Libby in & solidify the group as a quartet?
Jacob: Libby was deep in Mipso world from the very beginning. Even our first EP, technically a trio record, featured her on fiddle. We were all in school and the band was very much a weekend passion – a place to learn and escapeand express ourselves. None of us knew it was what we were going to be doing after we wrapped up our degrees. Joseph, Wood and I graduated a year ahead of Libby and decided we wanted to see what was possible when we devoted all of ourselves to the music. We started touring nationally (and in Japan), recorded an album, and liked what our lives were becoming. Libby was on that album, played shows whenever she could and thought she might like this life too. So to us it doesn’t really feel like she ever wasn’t solidly a part of the group. But I guess 2024 was when she started being in the van as much as the rest of us.
Q: There are a few stories floating around out there how Mipso got its name…Set the record straight & tell me the true story behind the band’s name.
Libby: Yes, this has been a matter of confusion for far too long now, not just in thepublic consciousness but also in my own. Seeing I wasn’t there when the secret meeting occurred, I can’t shed any light on the subject matter whatsoever. After all these years, it’s the one thing those three boys have remained tight lipped about.
Jacob: That’s right.
Q: Mipso’s style is a mesh of bluegrass, indie and alt-country w/superb blended harmonies (reminding me of Ghost of Paul Revere & Birdtalker)….do you feel like your sound is evolving with each album?
Libby: I think it’s very natural as you go on living, whatever it is that make evolves in roughly parallel way, responding to the way your experiences have shaped your perspective. I imagine it would actually take more effort to keep churning outthe same kind of music as you yourself inevitably change. We started doing this when we were 19 or 20, and for most of us it was the first real band we’d been in, so we were figuring out how to play music, and we leaned into one genre or another as a part of that learning process. In the early days, we were getting into old string band music and trying out those roles, which seemed natural given our instrumentation. I’m really nostalgic about that phase, that tentativeness and curiosity, those littleforays out from your little home base of musical knowledge. But it’s also been very fulfilling both to expand the scope of thst home base and to feel more comfortable venturing afield. Now when we arrange a song by our arranging vocabulary is much bigger than it used to be. We lean into sounds or concepts that are feeling good to us at a given time, and I think we’re less concerned than we used to be about whether or not they’ll feel that way to us forever.
Q: With COVID quarantine, I’m assuming you had more time to work on your self-titled album released this October…Some of my fave tracks are Your Body, Hourglass and Just Want To Be Loved…Did you intend for the album to be released this year? How did the extra time spent together keep the creative process flowing.
Jacob: Actually we had less abilityto create together this year than any other year. We toured in January and then went to our respective homes around the country for a two-month breather before kicking into high gear with a record release planned. With COVID hit we holed up at home, pushed the release date back a few months, and collaborated from afar on a deeper dive into the final production stages of the record. We were much more involved with the mixing and mastering of this record, albeit from afar, than previous records. And I think that finishing the production of the album in quarantine was a good preparation for releasing it in this strange new pandemic world. As we put the final touches on it we were aware it would be released devoid of the context we had known on previous albums, but that the emotional ground we covered in the music needed to come out this year no matter how strange the surrounding circumstances.
Q: You guys are really into skateboarding. How fun was it to make that video? Was that shot all in one day? How long did it take?
Libby: Ha! No, we are not really into skateboarding. Joseph and Wood can remember their middle school moves decently well, but Jacob and I are truly hopeless. The concept of the video was for us to be bad at skateboarding but have fun anyway. It was relatively fun to make, mostly just because we enlisted some actual good skateboarders and got to watch them. We shot it over a couple of very warm summer afternoons.
Jacob: Yeah, I don’t like to skateboard at all! But I admire those who do – and to me the most fun aspect of this video was learning about the diverse and super cool skate scene in Durham.
Q: On 10/29, you live streamed a concert, The Mipso Show Vol 1 & on 11/28 Vol 2.. What can fans expect to see? Any surprises? Where can fans watch the show?
Jacob: A highlight of this wild ride of a year was getting the band back together safely to be able to create. We tested, quarantined and bubbled up for two different 2 weeks chunks. It was like band camp.. The Mipso Show was the result of the second, along with a cover of the song “Arthur McBride” that was just released. They aired already, but we’ll be making the performances available again in the new year so keep an eye out.
Q: Where is the best place fans can stream, watch and buy merch from Mipso?
Jacob: All of our music is streamable on all of the places music streams – and you can find merch and some fun updates from the band at our website or Instagram/Facebook. http://www.mipsomusic.com or @mipsomusic
Thanks to Jacob and Libby for answering my questions… up next for interviews are Van Hunt, Jenna Rae, Alex Simmons and many more…
Until next time, I’m Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias.
Q: So I first saw you on Tik Tok in my search for music artists to interview.. What is your take on social media apps on being the 21st century avenues for new artists like yourself trying to get discovered? Do you have any preference? Tik Tok, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch etc?
A: I love social media & I think it’s a great way to help grow as an artist and show people more about yourself. Before, social media was about you, you couldn’t just swipe through someone’s page and find out what their interests are or stay updated with what what they’re up to day to day. Me personally, I’ve always loved Instagram but I think that Tik Tok is the new thing! Tik Tok is like no other platform. It allows you to go right from the bottom all the way to the top. That’s why I love about it.
Q: Tell me a little bit about Callum Lacey. When did you realize that music was going to be your thing? Any musical influences? Who would you love to perform with one day?
A: I always loved music and I have been writing and singing for as long as I can remember! When I was young, I always used to put on my headphones and listen to Ed Sheeran’s ‘plus’ album on repeat. I remember going to one of his gigs at the 02 Shepherd’s Bush and feeling the bass shake through my body whilst everyone sang back his lyrics! It was the most amazing feeling. In 2018, when I was 16, I wrote my first ever song called ‘Life Story’. I took a lot of inspiration from Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes when I was writing this record. I remember trying to save up enough money so I could get in the studio, record it and release it, Eventually, I had enough, got into the studio and released the song on Spotify and Apple Music September 5th, 2018. Since then, I have been working on a lot of new material and have worked with some really cool people. I just can’t wait to show you guys what I’ve got in store for you next!
Q: What is a hidden talent that your fans don’t know about?
A: I do a lot of ice skating! At the moment, it’s hard because none of the ice rinks are open so I really do miss it. But when they open back up again, I’m sure that I’ll be back on the ice! I’m also really good at eating Nando’s. If anyone wants to challenge me and my Nando’s eating talent then get at my socials!
Q: You have a new song out, Never Let You Go…give us a little background on the track..is there a whole stash of songs somewhere that are just waiting to be released? And what made you choose to decide to release this song first?
A: I wrote, Never Let You Go, this year so it’s still feeling really fresh and it’s exciting to watch the song grow. All the people who I showed it to before the release gave me positive feedback and couldn’t stop singing the chorus, so I felt like that was the right track to release first. I’ve got a lot of songs written and recorded too but I’m at a stage in my career where I have to be even more of a perfectionist when choosing my new release. I only want to release songs that are real and that think not only myself but the fans will connect with, it always ends up being my best work. I’m constantly learning and developing my writing and performing skills and everything I release I want the fans to know I’ve put my heart into it.
Q: What is an average day for Callum Lacey?
A: I usually wake up about 8:30am and have a shower and get ready for my day! Then I’ll typically sit down at my desk and crack on with making music. I like to go out in the evenings, whether it’s just for food or to see some friends…not too sure how that’s going to work with the lockdown!
Q: So the world has kind of been on a roller coaster in 2020….how has this year been for you? What have you done to stay positive?
A: It’s been really hard. I’ve got to be honest! But I’ve been going on lots of walks, going to the gym and doing as much exercise as I possibly can because a healthy body is a healthy mind. I’ve been doing a lot of writing which helps to make the days feel shorter and is also a way to put into words how I’m feeling – it’s so important to check in with yourself regularly, let alone during a national lockdown. I also try to speak to my friends as much as I can even if it’s just on FaceTime. I think it’s really important to speak to people about how you’re feeling.
Q: So Will your fans see an EP out anytime soon? Where can fans find your music?
A: At the moment, I only have 2 songs out on all major platforms, “Never Let You Go” and “Life Story” but I promise you guys, I’ll be releasing bigger and better stuff soon. I can’t wait!
We can’t wait Callum… stay tuned for more interviews including Mipso, Jenna Rae, Ranky Tanky, Van Hunt, Peezy and Lala plus much more..
Until next time, I’m Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias
I was lucky enough to catch up with Fulton Lee and ask him a few questions, here’s what he had to say…..
Q: So congratulations on being the champ of Music City Mayhem…it’s a huge radio station contest in Nashville. Tell us about the contest and what was it like when they announced you were as the winner.
A: The Mayhem contest was a HUGE deal for us. Everyone in the band spent several full days reaching out to every family member and friend asking them to vote. Many of us went name by name through our list of contacts in our shamelessly asking people we haven’t spoken to in years to vote for us. It was thrilling and exhausting an anxiety inducing. When we were announced as the winner it was surreal. I sincerely never realistically imagined that we would win. I’ve been a fan of Nashville in 2016, so it felt like a movie, like it wasn’t real. Still kind of feels like that…
Q: At 23, you’re living in Nashville, a city rich in music history, has to be sometimes difficult for a musician with so many people moving here hoping for a big break….how has it been for you and your success so far?
A: Nashville is definitely over saturated with musicians but that hasn’t been too much of an obstacle for us. I think we have a pretty unique genre for Nashville. We make funk/pop/R&B music, which isn’t super common here, that’s allowed us to exist in a smaller niche community within the ocean of musicians in the city. The more “non-commercial”, non-country indie R&B scene in Nashville is very awesome and I believe is thriving! It’s helped the big city feel like a small town to me.
Q: You started your career trying to pay tribute to the sounds of James Brown and Little Richard but then evolved into your own unique sound. What do you want people to feel when they hear your music for the first time?
A: Wow, what a question. I think for me, I’d like people to feel like they’re hearing a sound with distinct personality. One of the things I love most as a listener is feeling like a style of songwriting and production or performance is a unique natural outgrowth of the artist. Like some artists just have they’re own kind of musical language or personality that comes forth in their tracks, like you can recognize a Beatles song just by hearing the melody because it has that “Beatles” signature style in it, I don’t know what that is, but it makes me feel like I’m seeing a more profound picture of the person behind the art thank could see just though conversation or spoken word. It’s like when an artist taps into their own signature sound, they’re showing some distilled part of themselves that can only be revealed through art. That makes me feel connected to them and inspired. So that’s what I want people to feel, I’d say…inspired and connected with.
Q: Your music definitely has smooth soulful harmonically type of vibes..really love your EP Baby Blue released in 2018…so many great tracks including…The Wire, Baby Blue, Water…Kirkwood Sessions EP is a live album of those songs and my fave that’s on repeat is Call You Mine released in 2019… Lie Down & Sunshine released this yr…almost sound a bit like Mika on Sunshine…..talk about each album and the process of what went into each..
A: I’m so glad you’re digging the music! Baby Blue was an EP I wrote with my collaborator and drummer, August Pappas. I had been writing music like mad since moving to Nashville in 2016 and eventually landed on making music in a doo wop 50’s style. That style mixed in with my modern ear turned into the songs on that record. August and I produced the EP ourselves and worked with an engineer named Max Rubel. He’s awesome. We made demos of all the tracks at my house on my laptop for almost a year before we actually went into the studio. We had no idea what we were doing. I had no idea how to use the Logic software on my laptop as we were making demos, we had no idea how to arrange and produce songs. We were just learning completely on instincts and feel. We really locked in together on the vision for the tracks as a bright, soulful, vintage pop vibe and just tried to make the tracks into a distinct color/flavor that touched on our vision. Since then, we’ve worked with a producer on our song Feed Me, his name is Quinn Redmon and he helped us a ton making that song as funky as possible. That was a similar process, we demo’d that song for a long time at home and then brought it to Quinn and he gave us a lot of insight and changed a lot of parts/sounds for us to make the track everything it needed to be. It was a learning experience working with a producer, we again had to rely on our instincts more than anything. Our lack of experience has forced us to do that on many occasions, it’s probably a blessing in disguise. For our single, Call You Mine a year later, we worked with an engineer named Maccabee. That song again was fully self produced by me and August. We spent almost a full year with a demo of that song. It went through many changes. It was originally written for a drum kit and piano and foo wooo backup vocals and a samba drum beat, but it wasn’t just wasn’t quite clicking, so over the year we experimented with so many things that we landed on that bright acoustic guitar and a kind of Paul Simon jungle vibe for the second half of the song. It’s probably my favorite track we’ve made to this day. Now August and our guitar player, Jake Schweinsberg, have created their own instrumental funk band as a side project called The Sugalumps. Sunshine, our latest single, was an instrumental track they created that I wrote melody and lyrics over. Looking forward, we’re working on our first full length record. A concept album called Sonny Boy. It’s a wacky rock opera – storytelling concept album about a character called Sonny Boy. It makes me feel ultra-inspired and also completely insane and out of touch. That’s probably a good 0lace to be I think. It’s a pretty far ways off, but we’ll have several other singles and small EP projects come out in the meantime.
Q: How has COVID challenged you in performing? Have you been able to do any live performances through social media or locally but socially distanced?
A: I haven’t done much live performing at all since the pandemic. I did one livestream charity event with This Wonderful World Magazine, it was very fun. I’m looking to get into more writers rounds now that things are opening up a little.
Q: What do you do for fun when not writing music?
A: I love NFL Football! I’m pretty into Fantasy Football, which my band mates August and Jake are in as well. I also love chillin’ with my wife and my 3 month old daughter, She’s started babbling lately, it’s very cute.
Q: Where can fans find your music?
A: Our music is everywhere music streamed! Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Amazon, Tidal and anywhere e,see you can think of! Follow me on Instagram @fultonleemusic for updates on shows, releases, videos, interviews and everything else! I am also running a Patreon account, Fulton Lee, where I upload songs while I’m demoing them and talk about how I’m crafting the track so people get to see the full journey a song takes from conception in real time!
Thanks Fulton! Stayed tuned for upcoming interviews with Callum Lacey, Jenna Rae, Ranky Tanky, Mipso, Peezy & Lala to name a few..