Author: deannsn

I love music.

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!

New single from Terence Jack: “Heart in Head Out”

In the midst of what has turned out to be a wild year, singer/songwriter Terence Jack has been busy not only writing music but creating a home studio. With this freshly built studio, TJ is ready to rock through the rest of 2020, including the upcoming release of his new record, Bloom, this fall. The latest single, “Heart in Head Out”, from the record is out TODAY and TJ took the time to answer some questions about this crazy year and his music.

From TJ’s upcoming album, Bloom

MFL: You have your own studio! When did you decide to take this on, what was the process like and how do you feel now that you are on the other side?

TJ: YES! It’s a crazy dream come true for me. For a guy like me who the only “gear” I had until 25-years old was 2 guitar tuner pedals to now having a slough of gear, it’s surprising to even me. I suppose that my progression happened over a longer arch of time than most.

Basically, while my wife and I were looking for our first house, I saw the garage and I planted the seed right away. We were fortunate enough to put in a bid and got the house and 1-year later during Covid we found the time to actually frame in the studio and make it happen. There’s still a few little last things to finish but I’m here all day every day writing, practicing and producing. The goal was to have the process from idea to song with as little resistance as possible.

MFL: Congrats on your new single! This track is so full of hope, which we cannot get enough of right now. How did the idea for “Heart in Head Out” come to you?

TJ: ‘Heart In’ was born of music and chord progression first, and then gauged how the music made me feel. I think it has a triumphant feeling contrasted by the sort of chill downer verses. I think we live in a very heady world and I think we need to get back to our roots of being hearty. As an example, making a decision because I want to help someone opposed to this is going to make me money.

MFL: When can we expect your upcoming record, Bloom, and how will your new studio space affect this release?

TJ: Bloom will be out Oct 2020 and I feel it’s well overdue on releasing it. We have had it ready for a year and forces just stood in the way. I’m very excited to play live with the new menu of songs to choose from. Also, I have a lot of new ideas for new songs so once this is out it’s onto the next as fast as the team will allow.

MFL: What does Bloom represent to you and has that concept changed at all through this past year?

TJ: I think the important thing is what does Bloom represent to YOU. I mean I guess it’s multilayered but I’d like the listener to have it mean something to them that differs from my initial intention. Metaphors everywhere. Ha

MFL: Finally, we are halfway through the year at this point. Do you have any goals or visions moving forward for 2020? If so, what are they?

TJ: Whoa. Personally, educating myself to be the best human I can. For music my goal is to start to record the next album and prepare for a solo tour for whenever the world opens up again.

You can follow Terence Jack on Facebook, Spotify and his website.

Featured image PC: Olivia Sorely

Interview: Little Kid

Little Kid is set to release their newest album Friday, July 3rd. In anticipation of the release, the band let me fire some questions at them regarding the evolution of the musical project and much more. The band consists of members Kenny Boothby (lead), Megan Lunn (banjo, keys, vocals), Paul Vroom (bass &vocals), Liam Cole (drums) and Brodie Germain (drums, guitar, percussion).

Latest single from upcoming album, Transfiguration Highway

MFL: I understand your musical project has been around since 2011. How did Little Kid begin and how did it become what it is today if you can articulate?

Little Kid (LK): The first Little Kid album came out in April 2011, but I had been working on some of those songs since 2009, so in a sense the project has been around even longer… It started out as a way for me to experiment with writing and recording music by myself for the first time (prior to LK, I was basically just in a bunch of joke bands with my friends, and I’d never tried to write a song I sincerely liked). I was really interested in recording on tape and integrating found sounds into my songs, and Logic Songs turned out to be a mix of pretty simple folk-influenced songs and more ambient soundscape stuff. When I started playing shows, I found myself wanting to perform with other people, and Brodie became a pretty consistent collaborator and we wound up recording the second Little Kid album together. From there, the band has seemingly grown a little bit with each release, and each one has been more collaborative than the last. Paul joining around 2015 had a big impact on the recording fidelity as well, because he went to school for that sort of thing and has recorded us in his home studio since then. Nowadays, the songs typically start with a musical idea I bring to the table, and the band helps me develop it musically. The lyrics have mostly been by mine exclusively, with the exception of one song Brodie wrote and sang lead for on our previous album, Might As Well With My Soul.

MFL: Along those lines, since this project has been around for almost a decade, has its intention changed at all while you have grown as a person?

LK: Definitely the intention has shifted over time. Lyrically, I’ve tried to be less prescriptive – I feel like a lot of my older stuff seemed to have a clear message or moral, but I don’t feel comfortable imparting anything resembling wisdom these days. I’ve definitely embraced storytelling more in recent albums, and I think the songs folks have connected with the most have been the ones that tell a compelling story. Also, as I mentioned earlier we have moved towards a more collaborative approach over time. I think things have shifted musically as well: in some ways, the songs are more direct (distinct verses and choruses, less meandering passages), but they have become more experimental in other ways (working in unexpected chords and finding ways to make the songs sound strange without resorting to guitar pedals and computer plugins). 

MLF: It seems you have bounced around Ontario for many years! Have you lived outside of Ontario? If so, where? 

LK: Sadly, no. I’ve lived in a few different cities in Ontario. For a long time my goal was to wind up in Toronto, and despite a lot of gripes I have with it, it’s probably still my favourite city I’ve been to. I hope I can stay indefinitely, but the high cost of living definitely feels unsustainable.

MFL: How was music part of your upbringing and when did you know it would be part of you forever?

LK: My upbringing was pretty intertwined with church, and that’s where a lot of my most formative musical education happened. I went to a Catholic school, and attended masses occasionally there, but my family went to a Pentecostal church from my childhood right up until I moved out at 17 to go to university. I learned piano and a bit of guitar when I was really young from a more traditional, classically-trained musician, but it didn’t stick. When I was around 11, I got an electric guitar and started taking lessons from a high school student from my church and learned some of the basics there. But music really started to click for me when I started playing in the worship band. I started to notice patterns – a lot of those songs are built around the same chord progressions – and I got some really valuable pushes in that direction from a couple musicians at the church who kinda blew my mind with things like the circle of fifths. I grew up with a piano in the house as well, and I think when I started to play that again around 13 or 14, and noticed the ways it relates to the guitar, it all started to click and I fell in love.

MFL: Little Kid has shared the stage with some incredible musicians! Can you touch on some of your favorite experiences?

LK: We’ve definitely been blessed with some incredible opportunities. A show we often reminisce about was playing with Friendship in September 2017 – they are just an incredible band. One that was kind of surreal was getting a last minute offer to open for Keaton Henson at a sold-out show at the Great Hall in Toronto. That’s the biggest venue LK has ever played… We were told it needed to be a solo set and I was given about a day’s notice to get prepared. I was super nervous and I definitely made some mistakes, but overall it felt great and I think we reached a lot of new folks with that set.

MFL: What do the next few weeks look like for you all in anticipation of the release of Transfiguration Highway on July 3rd?

LK: Not super eventful from the looks of it… Most of us are laid off from work so we are just trying to stay indoors and keep healthy. I’m lucky to live with a couple friends right now so I have company – it would be really hard to be alone through all of this. I’ve also been trying to keep up with what is happening in the US and Canada right now with the Black Lives Matter movement, and trying to find ways to help.

MFL: When and how was the idea for Transfiguration Highway born? 

LK: The songs sort of came together separately without a particular concept in mind. The album takes its name from the song “Transfiguration Highway,” and that song is about returning to your hometown and examining the ways both you and the place have changed over time. It was mostly inspired by a visit to Petrolia (my hometown) in early 2019. The title felt fitting for the album, though, because a lot of the songs in the album include some mention of roads or highways and I picture a lot of the characters in the songs as existing somewhere along the highway from Petrolia to Toronto. 

MFL: Feel free to answer individually or as a group! Who are you listening to when you are you not working on your own music? I love hearing about what kind of music artists are digging into!

LK: I think some more-or-less band-wide favourites would be Radiohead, Big Thief, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Wilco, and Modest Mouse. Lately, I have been enjoying the Tenci album that came out last week and the Empty Country album that came out a few months ago, and I keep finding myself going back to DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar recently. Brodie from LK recommended a recent album called Floatr by Happyness and that has been a pretty frequent listen too.

Transfiguration Highway is out tomorrow, July 3rd, on Solitaire Records. Big thanks to Dan Rutman for facilitating.

Interview: Kyler Tapscott

Kyler Tapscott’s emotive music and potent ability to layer lyrics and melody in a way that is so pleasing the to the ear, was immediately clear to me on his track, “Home.”

A more recently released track, “Cloud9”, offers a completely different side of Kyler’s musical abilities.

Kyler took the time to answer some questions I had about his musical process and inspirations in addition to what is in store for the remainder of the year.

MFL: You picked up a guitar at a young age. How and why did this instrument call to you?
Kyler Tapscott (KT): I first started playing when I was maybe 7 or 8 and it just didn’t stick. After about 5 years of laying dormant I picked up a guitar (mostly because my older brother was starting to learn) with a vengeance
and immediately fell in love with the instrument.


MFL: Your music has a very real quality to it. I hear a lot of, what I would imagine, would be REAL instruments. Who are these other musicians on your recordings and how did they come to record with you?
KT: Darcy Yates, my producer on the EP, knew some great musicians to lay it down in the studio and I also have some friends who are absolute ringers as well. They were all super pros and incredibly great to work with. On drums, the beat keeper I had Mr. Rich Knox, a Toronto based drummer who mainly works with Danko Jones. Darcy Yates from the Juno winning Canadian band Bahamas was holding down the low tones on bass and producing the project. Canadian music scene veteran Steve o’Connor was ticking the ivory on the record. A marvelous keyboard/piano player. Andrew Moljin, who plays keys and horns for Samantha Martin and the Delta Sugar kept it funky as the one man horn section. Ben Whitley lent me his skills with an upright bass for my song Home. Jimmy Bowskill from the Sheepdogs and Blue Rodeo played the strings on my song Home. I was the sole guitarist on the EP.

MFL: “Home” is such a warm track. Tell me about “Home.” When did they idea for the track come to you and did you hear the melody first or write the lyrics first?
KT: That’s a song that came to me in pieces. I think I was just strumming a Dadd11 (nerd alert) chord and that melody was just floating around my head. I gratefully stole a line about Amsterdam or Rome from “Carey” by Joni Mitchell and the song developed from there. The idea of just being able to go anywhere with someone was romantic to me. Some elbow grease and later some tasteful strings and voila, “Home” was a song.

MFL: When did you decide to pursue a career in music and do you recall the moment when you decided?
KT: I think I was lucky in that sense, I jumped in head first and was just so caught up in learning and enjoying music that it was really the only thing I wanted to do and work that hard at. My dad was also a freelance musician so he was always really supportive of me pursuing music, although was very real and warned me of the battles. Didn’t stop me.

MFL: What is typically the source of inspiration for your lyrics and melodies?
KT: It really all depends on what I feel like I need to express or communicate. Sometimes it’s because I thought a certain word sounded cool over that chord, or this melody sounded really good with this word. It’s a very protean experience. I try to listen to artists whom I really admire and strive to acquire some of their sound and mix it into my own.


MFL: While listening to music by others, what are some of the major components of a track or album that make it “good”?
KT: I listen to so many different types of music and artists that it’s hard to pinpoint. I feel like good honest songwriting is the most important thing, and people really relate to honesty. I particularly like a groove in the pocket, a nice mix and good production. When the words, the music and the production really capture a vibe it’s undeniable.


MFL: Along those lines, who are some of your favorite musicians, past and present?
KT: Wow, that is a loaded question. Stevie Wonder is always high on the list. Django Reinhardt always blows me away, Tony Rice, Donny Hathaway. Vulfpeck, Joey Landreth and Ariel Posen and The Tedeschi Trucks Band are contemporary artists that I really enjoy their sound. There could be an entire interview on just this question but those are a small portion of the greats I admire.


MFL: If you’re not writing or recording, what are you up to?
KT: I really love listening to records, cooking, taking my dog for a stroll, being with my partner. Life’s simple pleasures.


MFL: Finally, what are your major musical goals for the rest of 2020?
KT: When we can finally play live again I can’t wait to play some shows with these new songs, I really feel like i’ll be able to shine a really new and exciting light to them in a live setting. In the meantime I’m releasing the last 3 songs of my EP and I have more in the bag that I can’t wait to record and do the whole process over again.

Follow Kyler on Spotify and Facebook. Big thanks to Kyler for answering my questions and Matt Carson for facilitating.

Interview: Chicago-based musician, Ty Maxon

Ty Maxon’s heartfelt melodies, enhanced with his unique voice, and genuine lyrics grabbed me instantly. His music takes you somewhere private. Guarded at first, he has decided to let us in with his newest album, Rooms within Rooms, out now. I got to ask Ty some questions about his musical life and process. Check it out:

MFL: Congratulations on the release of your latest LP, Rooms within Rooms! It sounds like the process of writing and recording was unique in many ways. You touch on the fact that while recording you were simultaneously “figuring out how your brain worked.” Flesh this out for me with some specific examples if you can.

Ty Maxon (TM): Thank you! It feels good to finally have it out. The writing and recording process was definitely a unique endeavor. I think the process helped me to overcome and understand some of the subject matter that the record deals with.

In the past, I’d always write and play the tunes out until they felt tried and true. I’d then record the songs in hopes catching the “ideal” version.

I sort of did things backwards for this record. For whatever reason, these songs felt different than previous songs I’d written. I think I felt pretty close to them and felt somewhat guarded about the subject matter. Also, none of the songs were really played live before they were recorded. Sometimes, it’s helpful to gauge the effectiveness of a song by sensing an audience’s reaction. To not have that experience before recording these songs added a bit of uncertainty to them.

Ultimately, songs I thought were finished turned out to be scraps of songs and scraps of songs turned out to be as finished as they’d ever be. Hard to say why that is. There’s something mysterious about being alone with your songs in the middle of the night at the recording studio. It can make clear that what you thought you had is something else entirely. So, the recording process and writing process intersected at times. This made things interesting, unexpected and sometimes a little maddening. Glad it happened that way, though.

MFL: Additionally, you mention RwR being unique because a majority of the tracks feature a full band. How did this come to fruition and why did you choose to have a few tracks without the full band?

TM: I try to approach each song based on its own merits.  For this record, each one seemed to need its own thing to feel right. This took some time to figure out but basically if something felt like it was missing in the way of additional instrumentation, I’d have some friends in to lay down some parts. If we added too many ingredients to the stew, we’d take them out until it was right and sometimes that just left me and the guitar.

MFL: What did the years look like musically for you between release of Calling of the Crows and your latest LP?

TM: Well, I sure didn’t mean to let so many years go by. I like to work on things until they feel right and that can take some time.  Additionally, being an independent artist tends to tack on a lot of time when you’re self-financing a project .

During the time between records, I worked, played live and toured when possible. I also worked on developing my visual art of drawing and collage. To be honest, a big factor in my life since the last record was dealing with anxiety and depression.  I mentioned feeling guarded about the songs on the new record – I think a lot of the songs come from a place of working through those things.

MFL: What was the impetus for writing RwR and what are you feeling now that it is out in the open?

TM: There was a time in my when I felt pretty isolated.  I started thinking a lot about the reality of inner existence – that solitary place in our minds that we experience the world from and how this inner existence contributes to our sense of loneliness and isolation. “Rooms within Rooms” is a line from a poem that I wrote some years ago about a person being lost or trapped within that place.

MFL: Where did you grow up and how do you feel that shaped you as a musician?

TM: I grew up in Southwest Michigan, not too far from where I live now, in Chicago. Looking back, I feel pretty lucky about how the cards fell for a place to grow up. There was a big field by our house that I hung out in a lot. There was also a huge forest and an old cemetery that hadn’t been used since the early part of the last century. There were train tracks that connected all three spots so I used to walk on it to get back and forth. I began making up stories and songs in those places, I think. They were places to escape and to explore and pretend and I think they contributed to my interest in music and art in that way. My dad was always playing George Jones and Hank Williams, too so those songs were always floating around.

MFL: Do you feel that writing lyrics or melodies comes to you more easily? If so, please elaborate!

TM: I tend to work on melody at first. Once that’s going in the right direction, pictures start to appear. Eventually, words appear to bring the picture more into focus. I just try to stay out of the way and let things come at their own pace, mostly. I’ve written a few songs starting with just the words but usually it’s the melody that brings out the ideas for me.

MFL: Fast forward 5 years and imagine that you are listening to RwR. What do you think will be the most striking memories that will come back to you while you listen?

TM: My friend Jeff Breakey engineered and mixed both this album and my last. I think I’ll look back fondly on all the late nights of him and I experimenting with sounds, trying to get things right and just going through the ups and downs of creating something. I think I’ll also be proud of making something a bit beyond my comfort zone.

Ty and Jeff in Ty’s studio

Many thanks to Ty for taking the time to work with me on this! Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Spotify.