Month: August 2020

Interview: Bradford Trojan on life, music and the debut record

I truly NEVER know what to expect when I open someone’s music for the first time, regardless of how they describe it in their submission email. Bradford Trojan did not offer much of a description so I just went for it and pressed play. What hit my ears was some of the most refreshingly uplifting tune-age I had had the pleasure if hearing in some time! I knew instantly I had to ask Bradford some questions.

MFL: Where are you from originally and if it is not Tucson, AZ, how did you end up there?

 Bradford Trojan (BT): I am originally from Haddonfield NJ. lived in Philadephia for years and then moved to Tucson 17 years ago when visiting my close friend from high school during summer and I met a girl (still together) and then eventually moved out there soon after that. I really liked the big open skies and the vast landscapes of the Southwest desert. 

MFL: How and when did music become an integral part of your life?

BT: My first memories of how important music was for me was in elementary school carrying around my Fisher Price cassette player/recorder and listening to oldies songs on it. In early high school back in the mid 90’s my friends and I began playing music. Taking guitar lessons opened me up to learning songs and it was really exciting. Eventually, discovering punk rock felt so freeing and playing that kind of music felt like a great energetic release. I began writing my own songs and playing in a plethora of groups over the past couple decades. 

MFL: Given the pandemic situation, where has that left you with the release of Meanwhile? How are you adapting?

BT: Well, it’s funny because Scott and myself had all these plans to do a record release show in Tucson and possibly elsewhere. We had the album pretty much finished before Dr. Dog left for tour in February. When they got back the pandemic hit and didn’t know how long it would last. We started taking the steps toward post production and by the time it was completely done we were like “let’s just release it!”  Hopefully one day we’ll do a release show. I feel like some people are giving their attention more to music and the arts during the pandemic so i was happy to get it out to the world to hear. For myself, it is just a new way of interacting in the world: wearing masks everywhere and not getting too close to friends. Been trying to spend as much time outside as possible.

MFL: Along those lines, what are a few things you are extremely grateful for during this time?

BT: I am very grateful to have a caring partner and wonderful little 2 year old. Also, being able to take this much time off and have the resources to do so I am very fortunate. I feel much closer to my friends and family. 

MFL: I love how whimsical and upbeat the press release description and description on the Bradford Trojan Bandcamp are for Meanwhile. The record itself is a gulp of something truly refreshing! Why is that and what was your intention with the record?

BT: Thanks! I got to give credit to Scott and his wife Leann for the description. They wrote it for the cassette release on their  label “Press On Records” and I love it!  I think that getting together with an old friend to create this album was at the heart of the magic. There wasn’t any pressure to do it or deadlines to meet. And it was something that was purely fun to do. I was fairly detached from the end result and that also informed it not being too overthought at any point.  With that in mind, we were also very intentional about the themes on the album as well as the sonic sounds that are present. 

MFL: What is your history with Scott McMicken and how did it morph into the writing, recording and release of Meanwhile?

BT: We have known each other since I met him in college back in 98′ at West Chester University in PA. I loved the punk band he was playing in at the time, “Unleash the Bastards” and befriended the whole crew and eventually they invited me to join the group. During those formative years from 1998 to 2003 we were all playing in various groups together and sharing members and ideas and songs. Scott and I recorded songs together over those years and i would perform some that he wrote that fit my group at the time “Bradford Trojan and Traffic Jam.” When he moved to Tucson a few years back it was great to reconnect musically. I have a very straightforward pop sentiment and he brings some edgier sounds to the table which i feel like makes for some great blends of the tunes. We naturally fell into making this album and it always felt really fun to create it together.  He is truly a prolific songwriter and producer.

MFL: What was the first track that came to you from Meanwhile? Did it send you on a trajectory for Meanwhile?

 BT: “Heavens Only Know” was the first track we did together. The album was 3 years in the making and i think in the beginning it was kind of like, “let’s just write and record music again together since it had been so long since we both lived in the same place.”  After a couple songs in we were on a loose path to doing an album.  That path meandered only because of Scott touring and recording with Dr. Dog and me having a kid and my newer found acting career, but being in the same city allowed us to meet up and jump back in when we had stretches of time open.  When we wrote the title track “Meanwhile” that’s when it became more clear on what we were creating. 

MFL: Finally, albums or tracks on repeat for you in 2020 so far….GO!

BT: One of my continually favorite artists of recent years is Michael Nau. His last studio album from 2019 Less Ready to Go is just great. Coincidentally Scott produced it. I love all of Michael’s solo efforts. One of my buds released this smooth nugget this year: Sloppy Joe and the Cruise “Keep On Cruisin'” it is a whole world of fun. and the story of what it is is just as pleasing!my summer track has been F.R. David “Words” ; not sure how i never heard this before.

Major thank you to Bradford for reaching out to me in the first place and for taking the time to ponder my musical questions! You can find the debut record, Meanwhile, on Bandcamp only!

Debut single from Astrid Cordes: “Portrait”

Sometimes when I hear a song, something just makes sense about it immediately, with no backstory, no understanding of the musician or concept for the song. That is precisely what happened when I listened to “Portrait” by Astrid Cordes (formerly of Shy shy shy). Then I took a moment to read about the creation of the song and I fell further for “Portrait.” At this moment, I decided I needed to know more about Astrid, her latest journey as a musician and her debut solo single which is out TODAY!

Lyric video by Lise Grønvald Nielsen:

MFL: I understand you pursued your solo career at least partly because you were ready to “be a bit more risky.” Tell me more about this statement and how you feel about it in anticipation of the release of “Portrait.”

Astrid Cordes (AC): Me and Simon Kjeldgaard formed Shy shy shy back in 2014 and for a long time that has been my main musical output. When you have a band, especially one where you sing in unison almost all of the time, it will put up some natural boundaries. That goes for lyrics, vocal range and expression, style and everything. I love working with boundaries and I find that when doing creative work it liberates me more than it holds me back, but after five years I sometimes felt like I had no more land to explore inside those boundaries. I began feeling too safe so I figured I needed to change them. Also during that period of time I found a lot of new things were happening in my life. Some good things like buying an apartment and trying to settle down with my boyfriend, getting pregnant, growing more successful and getting the opportunity to work with some amazing people like movie director Anna Emma Haudal for her TV-show Doggystyle. Some shitty things like losing a loved one and the growing notion that Shy shy shy wouldn’t last forever. Despite all of these changes or maybe because of them, I felt stronger in my core and I think that’s an age thing. I love growing older. Every year I like myself more and feel able to let go of the feeling of having to live up to someone else’s expectations. It gives me a calmness and made me curious to try and find out, how it would sound if I started making music on my own again. I chose ‘Portrait’ as the first single, because it revolves around that exact topic. Who am I, who do I wanna be and how do I get there?

MFL: Where does your choice to record and write solo leave you with Shy shy shy? Can listeners expect to hear you in the band still?

AC: Never say never, but at least for now no, they can’t. I loved making music with Simon, touring with the band and all the experiences that came with it, but it just felt like we had driven the project as far as we could. Our last release “Gloss” was very well received and a lot of people came out to see us on the following tour, so we agreed it would be a great note to end on. Many bands fall apart slowly over time and drag out the inevitable and end up resenting each other for it. The center of Shy shy shy was always our friendship and I’m glad to say it’s still intact.

MFL: I love the backstory for “Portrait” for many reasons. For one, it is so relatable, a very human feeling. In case others do not get the chance to read the backstory, can you touch on it?

AC: The idea for the song was born out of a visit to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam which has a huge collection of his self portraits. He couldn’t afford models, so instead he painted himself over and over again for practice and although the motif is the same, every painting is different. Walking by myself in silence looking at the efforts of a person trying to perfect a version of himself really moved me. Even though I don’t use a brush and I live a completely different life, I realized that I do the same thing. Over and over I try portraying myself in a true and honest way to try and understanding myself better and also for others to see me as I am. Be it on social media, in the clothes I wear or the music I make. But I just can’t quite get there. I leave details out, obscure reality or more or less intentionally beautify the story – it’s never the full picture. The fact that one of the worlds most renowned artists had felt the same, gave me comfort and really fascinated me. 

MFL: The lyric video is stunning. How did you get to work with Lise Grønvald Nielsen and what about this imagery works so well with the track?

AC: I met Lise through a network for women working in creative industries that I’m part of. We meet once every quarter for workshops, sparing sessions and inspirational talks and at the first meeting, we were paired in a group together for a workshop. The goal was to see who could make the tallest unsupported structure out of spaghettis, tape and string and although we only came in third we just clicked…

I think the reason why the video has turned out so great for the song, is that Lise, besides her amazing graphic abilities, possesses the most important skill you can have when it comes to cooperating on a project. She’s just really good at listening. She really made an effort trying to understand my vision for the song and what had moved me to write it and could instantly relate. We talked a lot about stereotypes that we had been labeled with over the years, and about how women are often either seen as a good girl or a tomboy, a sex kitten or a vicious feminist. We talked about that contrast that sometimes occurs between who you feel you are and how you are perceived. I wanted the video to have a gleaming darkness and a wondrous setting to reflect my fascination and the magical comfort I felt in the Van Gogh Museum. Lise made the video into a journey through the mind by stripping my face and introducing contrasting elements that represent the different versions of ourself that we all consist of. She’s done an amazing job playing with light and darkness and smoothly incorporated both everyday objects as well as the vastness of space to illustrate the contradiction it is to imaging that you can make one true portrait of yourself.

MFL: Finally, what more can we expect from you musically and how does “Portrait” fit into that?

AC: You can expect a lot more from my side during these coming months. I’ve been in the studio  working hard with the brilliant producer Morten Søgaard Andersen all through this spring and I’m happy to say, that it has resulted in an EP set for a March 2021 release. Portrait is the first single and a good indicator on what’s to come although you’ll find me straying further away from the music I’ve made in the past on the coming releases. I’ve tried to take more risks as you mentioned and that have led to a collection of songs that not only have a wider musical span but also arise from a more personal and uncompromising place.

Thank you to Nicki Bladt for connecting Astrid with me and thanks to Astrid for her thoughtful answers to my questions.

You can follow Astrid Cordes on Spotify, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Featured image photo credit: Julie Montauk

Interview: R Boyd on his debut record, ‘High Country Skyway’

Ryan Boyd of Boulder Junction, WI released his debut solo album as R Boyd titled, High Country Skyway. The record dropped July 31st of this year and features the band Dusk. Boyd took the time to answer some questions about his debut record and his musical past and present!

MFL: I have to admit, I have never heard of Boulder Junction, Wisconsin! Give me some fun facts about Boulder Junction.

R Boyd (RB): Fun facts: Boulder Junction is the muskie capital of the world so they say, and I’ve caught a few so it must be true… There are almost 200 lakes within a 10 mile radius of downtown and lots of albino deer.  They look weird!  

MFL: Did you grow up in Boulder Junction? If so, how did this influence your path to choose music? If not, where did you grow up and how did you end up in Boulder Junction?

RB: I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin and found a great group of musicians and like minded odd balls to create and make friends with luckily.  That changed my course for the better.  After a lot of time recording and touring I ended up taking a job in northern Wisconsin looking at plants and environmental data collection.  More recently, I’ve been able to free up more of my time to keep writing and creating and growing our homestead, which is exactly what I love to work on–although I do miss seeing friends and family in the city more often than I get to.  

MFL: You have a very decorated musical past! Of all the groups you have been part of, did any in particular launch you strongly onto the path of having a project of your own?

RB: No group in particular launched me into making a record of my own but I’m sure all of them inspired me in different ways.  I was obsessed with writing songs when I first got a guitar.  I remember sitting in my room for hours and coming out with a song that had the same basic melody as Puff the Magic Dragon, haha.  I loved the challenge of writing but needed solitude which I rarely got, always having roommates.  That finally changed when I moved up north.

MFL: How did you choose to have Dusk back you on this record?

RB: On asking Dusk to back me up…I heard Dusk’s demo’s and loved the music immediately.  That and Tenement’s album Predatory Headlights blew me away.  So I had to reach out and see if Crutch of Memory was interested in doing recording projects with other artists and to my surprise they were!  So it happened.

MFL: Who are your personal musical influences and how do the work their way into your process if at all?

RB: My friends are my biggest influences for sure.  They taught me about music, made me a better writer, and always have some interesting tidbit to share.  They’re really wonderful musicians and writers.  But a few favorite artists besides them… Michael Nesmith, Roger Miller, and Gene Clark.

MFL: What is the story behind High Country Skyway and how do the tracks tell that story?

RB: Story behind HCS.  It represents leaving the city, friends and family.  And reflecting more on my surroundings and the state of the world and having the space to do so.  It was me trying to grow as a song writer and really get thoughts down more cohesively, and having no reservations about putting the music out.  

MFL: Now that the record is out, how does the rest of 2020 look for you?

RB: The rest of 2020…Just working on staying sane!  Creating.  Pretty much have another batch of songs ready so that’s fun to think about.  Ready to build on what we started.  

You can follow Dusk (Facebook, Bandcamp, Instagram) on all socials and find R Boyd’s debut album, High Country Skyway , on Bandcamp!