Please enjoy the sounds and visuals of some fantastic music that has been hiding in my email awaiting your eager ears!
Please enjoy the sounds and visuals of some fantastic music that has been hiding in my email awaiting your eager ears!
Scott Revell (vocals / guitar), James Patman (guitar), Kushal Gupta (bass), and Tim Reyland (drums) are Secret Company. They released their debut record, The World Lit Up and Filled with Color, March 10th. The record begins with a roar. “Final Wish” is a heavy hitting pop anthem with a catchy chorus, pounding percussion and ripping guitar riffs. Excellent way to introduce their listeners to what they (Secret Company) are capable of.
Throughout the record, they play with interesting synth sounds and unique rhythms all the while not losing an ounce of power. It’s clear these fellows enjoy being truly creative and have mastered the art of meshing lyrics and melodies that are insanely infectious. Their single, “Alive”, highlights their talent and reminds me lovingly of a favorite band of mine, Geographer. Lead vocalist of Secret Company, Scott Revell, has a rich, velvety voice that reminds me of Geographer lead vocalist, Mike Deni. Check out the colorful music video:
Heavier tracks on the album like “Out of the Blue” and “Lightning Parade” showcase the more rock and roll side of the band. The guitars really take off, becoming the main focus but simultaneously share the spotlight, in stunning contrast, with Revell’s gorgeous vocals.
Not once does the record lose momentum. Each track is as high energy as the last without overwhelming the listener. Even “Mercury” and “Holding On”, back to back tracks that are more reserved, maintain the big swirling sound they introduce at the top of the album and build within themselves.
The record closes timidly with “Blue Rose.” All the while I was noticing how explosive this record was, I thought I’d figured it out. Then “Blue Rose” began. It began quietly and continued quietly. Subtle but truly beautiful way to close the album.
Jenny and Eli are brother and sister. They grew up writing music together in London but are now separated by 3000 miles of land and water: One in London and one in NYC. They have released a decent amount of music under the title, Good Girl and the Bad Times. Now they are set to release a new record soon that, according to them, was created in a mad rush and on a low budget. I have to say this came as a shock to me because I fell immediately for their first single, “Love’s Lost”, and could never have guessed it was rushed or low budget. The duo calls their new found style, “underwater disco.” Check out “Love’s Lost” and read more about Good Girl and the Bad Times below:
MFL: How long had a brother/sister act been in the works before it came to fruition and when did it officially begin?
Good Girl and the Bad Times (GG): We’ve been playing and writing together our entire lives. It’s always been fun for us and often we’d get swept up in some utterly ridiculous project like writing a series of fake Christmas #1 records from the 90’s, or scoring the music for an imaginary children’s tv show.
However, since around 2004 there were always actual, full time musical projects constantly underpinning that silliness. I recorded 2 albums in New York and Austin and would bring Eli in whenever possible. Over time it just became obvious that nothing was more fun than making music as a duo. It just took a while before we were brave enough to concentrate on taking that seriously. I’d say that we’ve been ‘officially’ a duo going on 5 years now.
MFL: How far apart in age are you two and how did you end up so geographically distanced?
GG: We’re 6 years apart. I came out to the states to study music at Berklee when I was 19 and then moved to New York. Of course now we wish we could be closer as we’ve stumbled on a sound we really love and desperately want to gig it. We’ll get there!
MFL: Do you ever get together to record or does every aspect of Good Girl and the Bad Times happen separately?
GG: Previous recordings had a much healthier budget, so Eli would fly out to NY to participate and we were able to employ some amazing musicians and co producers to help us realize our ideas.
However, the record we are hoping to put out next was done on the scrawniest of budgets and as a result is our most honest effort. Essentially I saved enough to quit my job, fly out to London and crash in Eli’s house for the summer. He’d managed to borrow lots of synths and gear from friends and built a little bedroom studio, which we hardly left. Over the next 5 weeks we wrote and recorded 8 songs (we could have done more, but time ran out). Then when I flew back to NY I recorded all the vocals.
Occasionally, circumstances dictate we work transatlantically, but to be honest both of our confidences crumble a bit when we do it alone. I feel like you can hear it’s not as fun.
MFL: What is the concept of your new album and when can we expect it?
GG: The sound unites it more than a concept per se, although my lyrics tend to lean towards melancholic loves gone wrong. It’s quite dark in places and very layered but also has a kind of tender, nostalgic element to it. It’s the first record we’ve made that we feel really fits together as a piece – probably because of the way we wrote and recorded in a bit of a mad rush.
MFL: Tell me more about ‘underwater disco’, the words you use to describe your musical quality.
GG: At first we were describing the vibe as ‘Twin Peaks if the role of Agent Cooper was played by Prince’, but it didn’t really roll off the tongue as a genre. ‘Underwater disco’ matched the undulating murky groove we settled into better. Of course, prior to being mixed by the incredible Danny Reisch (Octopus Project/Other Lives) and mastered by Jeff Lipton (Arcade Fire/LCD Soundsystem) the sound more closely resembled a lumpy bowl of oatmeal and tears.
MFL: “Love’s Lost” seems to have a lot more of an electronic sound than your previous songs (based on my quick listen to the previous releases). What is different about “Love’s Lost” to you, if anything?
GG: A combination of being broke and finally having the guts to make a record that matched what we love to listen to resulted in an electronic effort. Eli has been making gorgeous dance music separately for years now. At the risk of being crude we wanted to write music that our friends could fuck, dance and cry to. The stuff we made before was well written and arranged, but always felt slightly disingenuous. A bit of a pastiche. It took a constrained set of circumstances for us to feel confident enough to completely self produce. It’s less about us trying electronic music on for size, and more like this is the music we should have always been making.
MFL: Who are your musical influences or inspirations?
GG: I mean we both listen to everything but with regard to this record there’s a lot of old disco influence, early Eurythmics, Prince, Kate Bush, Jai Paul, Yazoo, James Blake… we had a lot of fun listening parties throughout the process. There’s also a lot of stuff you would probably never pick out when you hear it like John Maus, Radiohead and Fleetwood Mac but they’re in there.
MFL: Where did you two grow up and what was the music scene like?
GG: We grew up in London. We’ve both been pretty obsessive listeners our entire lives so we would gravitate to all sorts. As teenagers Eli was more into indie and folk whereas I would usually find myself at Garage raves at 8 in the morning. As we got a bit older we both started to get quite heavily into electronic music, techno and pop. Really it was only a matter of time before our own music reflected that.
MFL: Do you release music under your own label? If so, touch on some pros and cons of having your own label.
GG: Currently we release under our own label Good Bad Records. The beautiful thing is we can stand by a project 100%. We love this record, and no nasty suit has had his fingers in our creative pie. That being said, now the music is completed, we are open to signing with a better indie label as we’d love these tunes to get in the ears of more people and finance a proper tour.
MFL: What have your experiences been like performing live and what type of venues do you prefer?
GG: Our recording experience is actually decades ahead of our live. We do love playing. We want more of it. It’s a bit of a slog getting there what with the 3000 miles that currently separate us. We had a couple of years together in London playing our older material as a duo (the stripped down set sounded like 60’s gloom pop). Looking back it was slightly mad though- we didn’t want to give up on these incredibly dense arrangements so we’d end up trying to play 4 instruments each at once! The new show should free Jenny up to dance around a bit. We’re in the process of trying to figure out how this record is going to work on stage which is really exciting.
Greg Smith of Ontario creats stunningly simple acoustic gems. He’s a supporter of music in its most minimal form but his storytelling and songwriting ability set him apart. Below we chat about how music and songwriting became important parts of his life, his album art and even his organic vegetable garden!
BEFORE I GO ON! You can catch Greg Smith live at Kimberly Hall in Kimberly on the 18th of March and hosting the Barn Open Mic in Meaford on the 19th of March!
MFL: Your knack for storytelling is clear. Were you a writer or a musician first or did they occur simultaneously?
GS: It really was a simultaneous thing. Growing up I always enjoyed telling stories. I think that’s because as a kid, if you tell a story well you can garner the attention of adults in a way that puts you on their level. Music very quickly became my main creative outlet once I entered my teen years. The first songs I wrote were metaphor laden and really just a means of expressing myself. The problem with this was I could only write when I myself was experiencing something emotionally. This eventually led me to create characters, I could use them as facades for my own feelings or create situations for them and empathize with how they would feel. This meant that I could write whenever I wanted to, regardless of how I may have been feeling. I began to get the same escapism in writing stories that some people feel in reading them. I’m still not sure I would call myself a writer, I have a long way to go in that regard.
MFL: You make very minimalist music. It’s stunning but very different compared to a lot of over produced music out there. Is that something you feel makes you unique or is it a result of resources?
GS: I saw Justin Townes Earle live when I was 14 and he said that he told his band to “play as little as possible!” That idea of minimalism was very appealing to me, space in music was important.
I grew up on a farm. I spent the majority of my time outside of school alone because I lived so far away from everyone I knew. I became accustom to playing music alone too. This of course, impacted my writing. I wrote songs to feel fleshed-out with just a voice and guitar, that was about all I could do. When it came time to recording it only ever made sense to have the recordings reflect the live performance. So it was a lack of resources that created this mentality for minimalism but the unique result that has kept me going forward with it.
MFL: What is different conceptually and musically between your current release, Morning Coffee, and your previous release, Iris?
GS: There isn’t a lot of difference in concept, they’re both short stories featuring female characters and their relationships. The main difference would be that Iris was the first story-based piece I’d written. In the beginning I had no idea what it would eventually become. I was writing the story as a I wrote the songs. With Morning Coffee I knew what I was trying to create as soon as I came up with the first lyric “She slams her mug down on the veneer”. It should be known that Morning Coffee is actually my third piece in this style. I have written but not recorded a sequel to Iris called Michael. Michael is more aggressive, this came as a result of the story it tells but also from my experiences playing live in Hungary, I wanted something raw. Something that would appeal to the emotions of those who might not understand the lyrics due to the language barriers. I sometimes joke that in Budapest if you weren’t loud, you weren’t anything. As a result of this change, I felt the need to return to my roots and write something similar to Iris, and so we have Morning Coffee.
MFL: I really enjoy asking people about their album artwork. Sometimes it has no meaning, it’s completely random. But, sometimes it carries the meaning of the entire EP or record. What is the meaning of the album art for Morning Coffee and who created it?
GS: The artwork was created by Daniel Micsoda of Lone Waltz Records, or as he is better known Zanzinger. Daniel says my songs work on him like a detective novel. He says they have a literary vibe without having a classic literary beauty. He wanted to create something unexpected and a bit mysterious. At first I was a little apprehensive to the design but the more I looked at it the more it intrigued me as well. It does not look like anything else I’ve seen. It feels chaotic, which I think is fitting.
MFL: What is the music scene like where you live and how does it add or take away from your music?
GS: Right now I’m living in the Georgian Bay area of Ontario Canada. The scene here is incredibly developed given the small populations of the towns that it’s based on. There are a lot of arts spaces and groups dedicated to music. From the perspective of developing your artistry it’s great, a very supportive and involved community. However it can be tough to get enough gigs here to sustain yourself, I’ve been very lucky though. You definitely have to go elsewhere to expand your audience and grow, but it works great as a home base. The larger Ontario/Canadian scene has been a bit of a challenge for me to adjust to after coming up through Budapest. Things in Canada are more established, this has a lot of benefits but there is definitely a learning curve.
MFL: How did your upbringing contribute to your abilities as an artist?
GS: I grew up without much pressure to be creative or practice an instrument. That came naturally and was then encouraged, I started playing guitar around 7 and had quit by the time I was 8. Later around 12 I picked it up again. I think that kind of freedom from structure has allowed me to be more open to my creativity. It wasn’t hard to find my own sound in music because that’s all I’d really ever done. The lack of pressure mixed with support and encouragement also helped me perform without much fear, I was only really doing it for myself. The first show I ever played was opening for Wilderness of Manitoba at the Gayety Theater in Collingwood Ontario, I was 15. It didn’t feel like a very big deal at the time, I was just doing something I enjoyed but looking back it was pretty monumental for me.
MFL: Who do you have to thank musician-wise for inspiration and motivation to write, create and put yourself out there as a musician and why?
GS: If I follow the development of my taste in music back to its root there is one band that really changed things for me, although I haven’t listened to them for some time and they were always a bit generic, Mumford and Sons had a dramatic effect on my taste in music. I was 13 when I first heard them, before that I had mainly been listening to classic rock:The Beatles, The Who, CCR, stuff like that. They were my first connection to anything resembling folk music. While learning their songs I discovered alternate guitar tunings which have become an integral part of my sound. Through them I found the artists that would later inspire me to become a musician. The most important of these being The Tallest Man on Earth. His music expanded my guitar technique, enriched my love of lyrics and made me seek out the captivation of whole audiences with only a guitar and a microphone.
MFL: Do you have plans to write a full length or do you prefer to release singles and short EPs?
GS: As I said before I still have to record and release Michael, I would like to do something full length eventually. If my sound does change into something bigger, I would like to rerecord Iris and Michael into a full length instead of two Eps. I may also step away from the concept work at some point and release some of the other stuff I do. I often write songs that don’t end up being performed or recorded. For me one good song writes another, this is how the stories come about. When they don’t lead to another I often let them fall to the wayside, however there are a few songs that I’m too fond of to forget.
MFL: How have shows been going since the release of Morning Coffee? Give me some highlights!
GS:Shows have been pretty good, on the night of the release, Marshall Veroni, Pat Maloney and I did an after hours show at a cafe in Owen Sound Ontario and it was sold out. It’s always very gratifying to play for an audience who specifically came for the music. The bar and restaurant gigs can get you by, but shows like that keep me in it.
MFL: Finally, what is your life outside of music?
GS: These days I am working on an organic vegetable farm, this works well with my music as the schedule is pretty open for me to book shows and working outside is wonderful. I’m also moving into and renovating an old farmhouse which will hopefully serve as my base of operation while I’m touring over the next few years.
Thanks to Greg Smith for doing the interview and Lone Waltz Recors for connecting us! You can find Greg Smith’s music, including Morning Coffee, on his Bandcamp page and follow him Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.
“Human” is a gorgeous conglomeration of the joy and pride in what it means to be a human, mixed flawlessly with an incredible sampling of genres and profound clips from Maya Angelou’s poem, “I Am Human.” ECKOES’ newest track, “Human”, is sure to satisfy a spectrum of music listeners with a variety in taste.
Catch ECKOES playing this May :
12th May – Gigslutz: Get In Her Ears Night, The Finsbury, Manor House
20th May – Vegfest, Bristol
Aiming for an April release of his newest, Dead Dog EP, Howlie has given us another single to satiate us until we get the EP in its entirety. The title track is just as much a melancholic beauty as his other releases. Check it out:
Th gals, Eline Brun, Gøril Nilsen, and Lill Scheie, call their newfound genre, ‘float pop.’ You’ll understand it when you hear it. Genre appropriately named, their newes single, “DA RAM”, is loaded with fantastic harmonies and glittering instrumentals that most certainly give their music a ‘floating’ sound. The video is a piece of eye candy, similary equipped with glitter, bounce, and an overwhelming sense of peace at it’s end. Check it out: