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Something sweet for Valentine’s Day: “All This Time” by Van Bellman

Something just sweet enough, not overly decadent, the perfect Valentine’s Day treat comes to us in the form of a new single from Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, Van Bellman (Zac Taylor). “All This Time” is broad, expansive and sparkling and features a truly adorable video of a cat fascinated by a record player surrounded by jars of those famous Necco candy hearts that are tragically missing from the shelves of our favorite grocery stores this year. Although, TBH, “All This Time” is tastier than those funny candy hearts.

 

Zac Taylor on the instrumentals we hear on “All This Time”:

“I’m mainly a guitarist but I love writing on piano because I can come across some happy accidents. That’s where the piano riff came from: a toy piano gathering dust in the corner of Mission Sound studio with one broken key, which you can hear in the track if you listen closely. I composed the string section digitally and had my friends Marie Kim (currently playing keys for Mitski) and Andy Baldwin (acclaimed mixing engineer for Björk, Cat Power, St Lucia, yours truly) replace it with actual cello and violin, which is truly a sonic treat in today’s digital age.”

 

Stay tuned for more from Van Bellman and Happy Valentine’s Day ❤

Playlist: Winter Vol. II

Below, find 2.5 hours of tunes to keep you cozy during this chilly, albeit beautiful, time ❤

Interview: Jesper Braae Madsen of Echo Me

Jesper Braae Madsen is the man behind Danish band, Echo Me. He is also a husband and a father of two children under the age of four. His third full length, Sleep is Key, came out four years after his previous release, Towards the Sunset. In the interim, Madsen had two children, many sleepless nights and a new perspective of his musical process. Below, Madsen and I discuss this process, how it has changed, what music and his family mean to him and much more. Enjoy one of my favorites from the new record while you read:

 

 

MFL: Touch on what happened sound-wise between Towards the Sunset in 2014 and Sleep is Key in 2018.

Jesper Braae Madsen (JBM): My second album Towards the Sunset was recorded in a studio that was run by the singer from Kellermensch, and he had all the right mics, compressors, pre-amps and stuff like that. It was the old-school way, and I felt that was the right thing to do at that moment.

With Sleep is Key, I just sat down with my laptop, 1 mic and an interface, and started recording. The big difference was the whole setting. I just focused on getting the right ideas and takes recorded rather than worrying too much about how the mic was placed. I got some help from Søren Buhl Lassen, who also mixed the album. He helped steer me in a different direction than originally planned. Instead of building everything around the acoustic guitar, I’ve been focusing more on synths and electric guitars.

 

MFL: Along those lines, what was life like between those two releases and how did it impact the content and journey of creating Sleep is Key?

JBM: I wrote the songs for Towards the Sunset In Berlin, where I lived for about a year. I lived there alone and I could basically do whatever I wanted. Now I live in a small town in Denmark with only 30,000 inhabitants. I’m married and have two kids, and that’s a completely different scenario.

 After we got our first kid in 2016, I couldn’t really tour a lot, so I only played a few Echo Me shows here and there. A couple of months before we got our second child in 2017 I was contacted by the guys from the Hamburg based label Backseat. Long story short we agreed to release a new Echo Me album one year later in fall 2018.

 First thing I did was to go through a lot of old, semi-old and new demos, and we choose “What They Say” as the first single. From there I just started recording on a super tight schedule, and meanwhile I had a newborn child at home. Without comparison the most stressful time of my life so far, but I just felt an extreme urge to make this happen, and I knew that it couldn’t wait.

 

MFL: Sleep is Key was released end of October of 2018 and I know you had a run of concerts in the fall of 2018 post-release. Discuss some of your favorite locations of the tour and some unexpected highlights if you can remember!

JBM: I did 13 concerts after the release in Denmark and Germany. Germany has always been my favorite place to tour. The best show was definitely at Prinz Willy in Kiel. The owner has managed to build a really nice thing there. I have played there a bunch of times, and it was completely packed. There were also many new spots on the list, and especially Q in Marburg was a nice surprise. Fairly new place, but again the owner has really put his heart in it, so there was a great atmosphere.

 

 

MFL: As a husband and father of two, how does your family add to your musical life and how do you hope your children view music given it is probably a large part of their life because of you?

JSB: I have always written songs about the things that I’m facing at the given time. Having kids is a very extreme lifechanging event, so there is a lot of good inspiration to get out of all that hustle.

…Also it can be very inspiring to watch how kids play. They are so curious and they investigate all possibilities with whatever it is they are playing with, and as soon as they have it figured out, they just lose interest. I think adults often do the opposite. I guess we are more afraid to fail, and therefore try to figure out the “right” way instead. Kind of limits the creativity.

 I hope my kids will have music as a big part of their lives, but it doesn’t mean a lot to me if they will ever play an instrument. There are several guitars, keyboards and percussion among their toys, but I don’t want to push it. For me it has become such an obsession, and I sure hope my kids will have a “healthier” relationship to it than I have.

 

MFL: I love understanding how a record was written from start to finish. Which song was written first and which song was written last? Feel free to share some details of the in between.

JSB: Sleep is Key is really a collection of songs written over a timespan of 10 years or so. I gathered a lot of demos in a folder and shared it with the label, and we picked the best songs. One of the favorites was “When It’s Time”, and I wrote that way back in 2008. It just didn’t fit onto my earlier releases, but this time it made perfect sense. The three newest songs are “You Know Me Well”, “LaLaLa” and “Zombies”, but actually I came up with the main riff for “Zombies” when I was in high school around 2002. That’s crazy and it is so much fun to work with that kind of material. Some of the in between songs are “All of the Time” and “I Know What You Mean”. They kind of sum up the difficulties I had when I was deciding what, if any, form and shape Echo Me should take in the future.

 

MFL: Where were you born and raised and how did it bring music into your life?

JFB: I grew up in the countryside in Jylland, Denmark, and there were only few other kids nearby, so I remember spending a lot of time on my own. My mother was a hobby guitarist, and also made me attend guitar lessons from I was 8 years old. Since I didn’t have much else to do with my time, I was practicing every day, and it became a big part of my identity as most of the other kids played either football or computer games. 

 

MFL: Did you learn anything new while creating Sleep is Key that you had not had the chance to learn during the process of your previous releases?

JSB: I very much relied on my respective producers on my earlier releases, and this time I had to do everything myself. I would just look it up whenever I ran into problems. There are no technical issues you can’t learn to fix very quickly these days, so the trickiest part is to know when a song is done, and to learn to trust your ears. If you have that confidence, you can go nuts and experiment, and at some point it will feel right.

 

MFL: When can we expect to hear new material from Echo Me?

JSB: Right now I’m on a two months paternity leave, and when my daughter takes her daily nap, I’m coming up with new ideas for songs. In March I will start recording again and the plan is to release 3 new singles in 2019. So pretty soon…

 

Follow Echo Me on Spotify and Facebook. Big thanks to Jesper for the interview ❤

 

New single from Blaenavon: “Catatonic Skingbag”

English independent rock three-piece, Blaenavon, is back with their first single off of their sophomore record. The single titled, “Catatonic Skinbag”, is off of Everything That Makes You Happy which is due out later this year and produced by Catherine Marks. Based out of Hampshire, UK, Blaenavon is composed of Ben Gregory (vocals), Frank Wright(bass) and Harris McMillan (drums). The quintessential indie rock single is weighted with the honesty that is not unfamiliar to those who listen to Blaenavon but this time, their sound and content is fleshed out even more. Gregory describes it as a song that is about what we all can be at times (….a catatonic skinbag…maybe you’ve never thought of yourself quite like this but it is true!) especially when it is so damn easy to just wrap yourself up in your own self doubt and succumb to your own routine when you know it is not the best place for you.  The single came out not too long after Gregory released an open letter to his fan base updating us all on the happenings of the band and his mental health. We are all glad he is doing better ❤

Gregory says:

“The song is about isolation. Cutting oneself off from the world to engage in fruitless sensual pleasures and pretending everything is ok. Watching fucking Netflix and drinking a bottle of wine when you should probably instead be in therapy. But there’s a way out. Art, friendship, love. You don’t have to be a catatonic skinbag. Lol.”

 

 

Keep your ears peeled for more from Blaenavon in the coming months and in the meantime, follow them on Spotify, Facebook and their official website.

 

MFL’s Best Tracks of 2018

Every year I reach out to two of my absolute favorite music buffs, who happen to be dear friends as well. Brian Haviland works at a pharmacy in Alaska and is a new father to a gorgeous little girl. Our paths crossed wayyyyyyyyyyy back when I was a high school student at Hellgate High in Missoula. Mark Levy made his way to Bozeman from NYC several years ago and walked into my life because of his incredible wife who is also a dancer here in Bozeman. Mark is also part of the local soundscape band, Ranges.

These are folks I’ve had musical relationships for many years now and we could back and forth about music until the cows come home. The best part of it is, we share common threads in terms of the music we enjoy but we also have drastically different taste. The result is a mutual love for music in which we educate each other on what is out there and push each other to open an ear to something new. I wish I could say the three of us have been in the same room to discuss music but sadly Brian and Mark have never met. Maybe some day.

Enough b.s. Here is the playlist. The first 5 are Mark’s picks, the next 5 are Brian’s and the last 5 are mine. May 2019 bring love, happiness, and more music to ya’ll!

 

Interview: Toronto/Chicago musician, Deanna Devore

Toronto/Chicago electronic R&B songstress, Deanna Devore, began writing music at a young age and is making waves with her sound. Her latest EP, half and half, released September of this year is a smooth mixture of down-tempo electronic and R&B. Below we discuss her musical beginnings, concert highlights and much more.

 

 

MFL: I see you are based out of Chicago and Toronto. What pulls you to each location and how do the music scenes in each place differ?

Deanna Devore (DD): They’re both such great cities – and also quite similar. I love Toronto’s diversity and Chicago’s architecture. The music scenes definitely feel different – I think Toronto may have more of the “Drake” sound happening and Chicago has a lot of folk/americana. With that said, both cities definitely have other genres going on too.

 

MFL: You have been releasing music since 2007/2008. How has your music evolved and changed since your first releases?

DD: I would say that all 3 of my albums have a similar mix of electronic and acoustic elements, but my most recent album, “half and half” has a little more of a RnB/jazz influence. 

 

MFL: On a similar note, how do you think access to music (streaming etc) has changed your experience as an artist over the last 10 years?

DD: The music business has definitely changed over the years! You just have to adjust accordingly. Social media has been a great way to connect, and that didn’t exist in the same way 10 years ago. 

 

MFL: Tell me about your musical beginnings. How and when did music become part of your life and when did you know that you wanted it to be a career?

DD: Music has been a huge part of my life since I was a little kid. I have a musical family. I started playing instruments and writing at a young age and always felt like I needed to do it professionally. 

 

MFL: What are you doing when you’re not writing, recording or performing your own music?

DD: I’m also a teacher at a music school, so I teach a lot of classes including guitar and songwriting. But when I’m not doing anything music related, I like to cook and check out new bars and restaurants in the city. 

 

MFL: What is the order of events for your songwriting process and is there a particular time of day or night that inspiration seems to strike most naturally?

DD: Time of the day doesn’t matter. It happens when I sit down with an instrument, likely guitar. I start with the music. So a song will start when I am playing around with the guitar and find something I like, a chord progression that inspires me to continue. From there, I write a vocal melody. And then do the same thing for all the sections of the song – verse, chorus, bridge etc. The lyrics usually come last. 

 

MFL: Who inspires you musically and how do you use that inspiration in your music or your intentions to write/release music?

DD: I’ve been listening to a lot of downtempo electronic Rnb/neo soul, so I would say that inspires my production and sound overall. 

 

MFL: It looks like you’ve gotten to share the stage with some big names at some fabulous festivals! Touch on some highlights of these experiences.  

DD: Yeah I’ve had some great shows! One that stands out in particular was opening for Jamie Cullum. This wasn’t at a festival, but at a venue, playing in front of 900 attentive listeners, solo. It was a surreal experience having that many people quiet and listening. 

 

MFL: Where do you see your music taking you in 2019 and what do we have to look forward to?

DD: I just got back from tour and have switched gears by going into the studio. I started recording a new single that I’m really excited about. So I’ll be releasing that in 2019! 

Playlist: Winter 2018 Vol. I