New music video from The Woods: “Armchair Expert”

“Armchair Expert” comes to us from Scottish-born Johnny McFadzean who makes music under the name, The Woods. Johnny spent his childhood as a classically trained member of a world class choir and is now making hypnotically stunning electronic music. “Armchair Expert” is an excellent example of this. The accompanying music video tips you sideways. You’re not quite sure whether the armchair is laying on the floor or propped up against a wall with a carpet behind it. Neither really makes sense until objects start to appear, unfolding, crawling and making bizarre shapes. The track builds in complexity throughout with McFadzean’s mesmerizing voice hovering above.

This is what McFadzean had to say about the track:

“The song is a wee response to all the ‘armchair experts’ who tell you what you can and can’t do, that it’s a terrible idea to step out and take a chance for fear of failing. I don’t mind falling out of trees because it turns out I love climbing them.” 

Now check it out for yourself:

 

Follow The Woods on Facebook and Spotify.

Interview: Currin

Olivia Currin Duell is an electronic musician originally from Ithaca but now based out of central Pennsylvania. Her music is both rich and layered but simultaneously uncomplicated and tangible and she does it all herself. Check out her track, “Sunshine”:

 

 

I sent Olivia some questions regarding her musical influences, musical process and much more.

MFL: What kind of music did you grow up listening to and how did it influence the music you write today?

 Olivia Currin Duell (OD): I joke that the first CD my parents gave me was VH1 Divas Live album, featuring Celine, Mariah, Gloria, Shania, and Aretha, and that the album solidified my love of pop music queens. I unabashedly and non-ironically love pop music and actually wrote about it in college and grad school. There’s always something underground that’s being pushed into the mainstream, and pop music is where a lot of those culture clashes occur. It makes for some interesting messaging and symbolism.

 I had a phase in the mid 2000s where I actually stopped listening to women entirely. I’d only listen to alt-rock bands comprised only of male musicians. Think Dashboard Confessional, Good Charlotte, Simple Plan, Green Day, and other pop punk bands. In high school, I would hang out in a free local music studio making covers, and it was then when it hit me that I’m a female musician who was swallowing some serious internalized misogyny. Around the same time, I began listening to Cat Power and Joanna Newsom. I revisited Destiny’s Child. I learned about riot grrrl culture. I reignited my love for Britney. I stopped pretending I hated top 40. I let myself enjoy listening to music.

 Now I think I have a rather broad and deep knowledge of various styles of music. However, I now listen to primarily female music artists as a conscious choice.

 

MFL: How did you find yourself writing electronic music?

 OD: I have piano training, and it’s pretty easy to make a quick demo on Garage Band if you know how to work a keyboard. In college, I would make electronic covers in my bedroom while home on breaks. I was in a grungey folk-rock band later in college, and liked the music we were making, but always found it frustrating to explain to a bandmate how I wanted a guitar lick to sound. I know a lot of music theory, and the musicians I’ve worked with sometimes know not as much. With electronic music, I can quickly lay down a melody. If I don’t like the rhythm or if I want to change the key, I can adjust each note in the electronic score. Logic Pro and Garage Band make it really easy for musicians to navigate.  As a result, I find that electronic music gives me total control. Since what I want out of my music projects gets really specific, electronic music offers me a lot of range to do what I want.

 

MFL: I have only heard “Sunshine” and “Don’t Do It Again.” I hear so much of Crystal Castles and Poliça in these songs. Are you inspired by these musicians or perhaps others that I don’t know?

 OD: I’m definitely a huge fan of Alice Glass. I’ve followed her court case and am no longer a fan of Ethan Kath, but Crystal Castles music did mean a lot to me. I’m closely following her new solo project with a hopeful excitement.

 I haven’t listened to Poliça too much, but I just checked out their newer tracks and do hear the comparison between vocals.

 Currently, music I’ve been most excited about has been coming out of PC Music, a collective out of the UK. AG Cook is one of the main producers within the collective, and he’s been putting out really interesting, experimental pop music for awhile now.  Sophie is another producer and artist associated with the collective. They have both collaborated with Charli XCX on her past two mixtapes, Number 1 Angel and Pop 2.

 Charli XCX is someone who really inspires me, too. She has a clear social media presence and I remember her tweeting something about (I’m heavily paraphrasing here) how she doesn’t even know if albums are the future for an artist like her. That actually really motivated me to just start writing and recording. Like, I don’t need a label. I can create a project I’m proud of on my own, and collaborate with who I’d like when I’d like, and release something whenever I feel like it’s ready. Whether it makes money is another story. But seeing artists collaborate on experimental projects in ways that undercut the regular channels of the music industry is really cool and exciting.

 

MFL: What is the source of material for your lyrics? Along those lines, do you write lyrics first, melody first or do they happen simultaneously?

 OD: I usually have a certain image or conversation in mind when writing. Sometimes the words and melody happen first. Lately I find myself starting with a drum track, manipulating that until it has the sound I’d like, and then start layering bass parts, arpeggiators, synth melodies, vocal harmonies, and so on, whatever sounds right. I have a really strong musical ear and can feel when the sound works.

 My lyrics usually mean something pretty specific to me, but I think a lot of people can relate to the feelings and images the lyrics and sounds convey.

 

currinredgreen

 

MFL: Tell me about the name of your project, Currin. Where did that come from and what does it represent?

 OD: Currin is my middle name. It was my great grandmother’s middle name and her mother’s maiden name.

 

MFL: Where did you grow up and where are you based out of now? If you moved, tell me how you ended up where you are now.

 OD: I grew up in Ithaca, NY, and stayed there for college. I went to Milwaukee for grad school, and now I’m in central Pennsylvania, around 3 hours south of my hometown. My partner is a software engineer and we’re currently here for his job.

 

MFL: Are there others involved in your project or do you write, record, mix all of your music yourself?

OD: I’m doing everything by myself so far. I am really passionate about pursuing a solo project because I think it’s really easy for me to lose my own voice and vision when someone else adds their work into the mix. I’m teaching myself how to be a better sound engineer, and might need someone more professional down the line, but for right now, all sounds, edits, graphics, etc, are done by me.

 

MFL: What is your plan for the coming year and can we expect some more releases from you?

 OD: I’m working on an EP right now. I have a few tracks that feel close to being finished, and several other tracks where the instrumentals are set, and I just need vocals and lyrics. A big goal is a music video. This is something I’m also planning to do myself so it might take awhile. But I’d love to have a video release by the fall. Currently, my music is only hosted on Soundcloud, but will soon be hosted on other streaming platforms, as well.

 

MFL: Finally, why did you choose Patreon as your platform? I had only just heard of Patreon when I was looking you up!

OD: Patreon is something I noticed other creatives tapping into. For me, it feels like a way to build a community of artists and creators and people who are excited about that. It’s connected me to acquaintances I didn’t expect to follow me, which is really cool. It provides a little extra cash, but more so I’m just hoping to find any opportunities to connect with likeminded people.

 

pinkcurrin

 

You can follow Currin on Patreon and Facebook. If you’re curious about how Patreon works, check them out here! Thank you, Olivia for giving us all a peek into your musical life and thank you to Adam Hachey for connecting us ❤

 

Interview: Up and coming electronic artist, Make & Model

Album artwork: Tim Meskers

When I hear some music, I need more than just the music. I need background, answers and explanations. I need to give the music another dimension. That’s how I felt when I listened to Make & Model’s first single, “Change of Heart.”

 

 

I’m lucky enough to get to the bottom of the music I love and get all those unanswered questions answered, on a regular basis. Brian Hall is the man behind the electronic project, Make & Model and a handful of other creative projects he will tell you more about below! His secret to successfully committing to and completing all of these projects? Also below!

 

MFL: Tell me about your musical beginnings. Where did you grow up, how and when did music become part of your life and who influenced you musically?

Brian Hall (BH): I’ve lived in Philadelphia all my adult life, grew up not far from here in a town called Wyomissing. And I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember. My parents had me taking piano lessons ever since I was a little kid, long before I ever really made that choice consciously for myself. And then I picked up the guitar when I was in middle school. I think the musicians who have influenced me the most would have to be my bandmates. Donnie Felton is the other songwriter in Grubby Little Hands (GLH) and the primary vocalist. We’ve been collaborating for more years than I might admit in this interview because I’m still pretending to be young. Donnie and I met at Wake Forest where we both studied Theory & Composition and he’s had a huge influence on me because we’re just constantly sharing ideas with one another. Also, Joe Primavera, who’s the lead guitarist in GLH and a very skilled engineer – he actually mixed and mastered this Make & Model EP –  we’ve been in bands together for a very long time as well. Nothing I do ever makes it to the rest of the world without being shaped in some way, shape, or form by those two.

 

MM Stickers

 

MFL: I’ve been listening to Grubby Little Hands this morning. How and why did you move from that project to Make & Model? They seem polar opposite!

BH: Yea, Make & Model is pretty different from Grubby Little Hands. I also put out a 7” back in the day of this weird lo-fi, kinda dark stuff under the name Desert Car. And I’ve got a batch of material cooking right now that’s off on yet another tangent, so that will probably need a whole new artist identity whenever it comes to fruition. So definitely a bit all over the place, but I don’t think that’s unusual necessarily. I imagine most artists will find themselves exploring a few different directions. I feel like each individual artistic project should have a clear identity, but I don’t think any one particular project is ever going to be fully representative of the person or people who create it.

 

MFL: Are you still part of Grubby Little Hands and how will you balance both projects?

BH: Ah, balance. Great question! And not just multiple musical projects, either. I have to balance my family, my job, I have a podcast I love making, and I help run a small label/collective… it’s definitely tricky. But everyone has a lot going on. Balance is just part of life. I don’t know, you just gotta find it. Fortunately Make & Model isn’t too time consuming. Honestly this EP came together in about a month. But yea we’re full steam ahead with Grubby Little Hands and putting the finishing touches on a new album. I’d be lying if I said GLH doesn’t occupy a huge portion of our time, resources, and energy. We’re being more meticulous with this album than ever, it’s been over a year in the making, but it’s sounding great…  we’ll still probably blow it up and start over though, because we’re crazy.

 

MFL: I feel like there are similarities between what I’ve heard of Make & Model and Daft Punk. Do you agree and has Daft Punk inspired your sound?

BH: Totally. I get the Daft Punk comparison a lot, also Air.  Which are definitely flattering comparisons because those bands are both amazing. I think it’s the vocoder… that’s obviously a very distinct attribute. So, yea, I definitely agree in that sense. But obviously Daft Punk (and Air) are like gods and Make & Model is just a mere mortal.

 

MM Headphones

 

MFL: What is “Change of Heart” about and how will it fall in line with the other tracks on your upcoming EP, Channel Surfing?

BH: “Change of Heart” is about two people falling out of love. Which sounds sad, but isn’t necessarily meant to be. It’s just something that happens sometimes. All of the songs on the EP touch on some aspect of human relationships, connections, or behaviors, and I think the robotic vocals create this weird juxtaposition of real human emotion being processed through this artificially intelligent filter. The music always struck me as sounding like a piece of technology – like a radio, or TV, or computer, or phone – came to life, and its entire understanding of the human experience was based on the vast amounts of mass media that funneled through it. That’s why I set all the songs to found footage from various decades and sources, and named the EP Channel Surfing.

 

MFL: How are you preparing for the release of your debut EP as Make & Model?

BH: Hmm… I’ll be drafting a text message to my friends and guilting them into listening to it. Just kidding. Well, that’s probably true actually. But the better answer is I’ll be playing an EP release show at a DIY venue in Philly called Crouch House on Friday, May 11 with some amazing artists, Berndsen, Raindeer, & Blood Sound. Berndsen is a really popular 80s-inspired electro-pop artist in Iceland and this is their first U.S. tour.  Raindeer is a band from Baltimore that I’m friends with and fans of – they’re honestly one of my favorite bands on the indie circuit right now. Blood Sound is also from Philly and I’ve actually never met them, but we have some mutual friends, and I love what I’ve heard of their music, so I look forward to meeting them at the show. Should be a fun night!  

 

MFL: If you could perform with any musician(s) out there, who would it be?

BH: For some reason when I entertain hypotheticals like this my mind always goes to artists who have passed, like Prince or Freddie Mercury or David Bowie. I guess just because those scenarios require an extra layer of magic and fantasy. But truthfully, ‘performing’ with them would just be me sitting down on the stage and watching them in awe.

 

MFL: There is so much music out there. It blows my mind sometimes. With all of that music out there, how do you define success for yourself as a musician?

BH: Success is just keeping my sanity.  If I can continue doing what I’m doing and not lose my mind (or push away any loved ones) then I’ll be happy. And when I’m old and I look back at all the music I made, hopefully I’ll like some of it. And that will be success.

 

Major thank you to Brian Hall for taking the time to dish out the most thoughtful answers! And to Jeremy Theall for connecting us. Don’t miss the release of Make & Model’s debut EP, Channel Surfing, May 11th via Good Behavior Records! You can keep track via Facebook and his website through Post-Echo.

Interview: Tommy Down

You know when you hear the first 15 seconds of a song and you know it’s gonna be good? You don’t need the first verse or the chorus, you’re instantly hooked. That is how I felt when I first listened to Tommy Down’s debut single, “Superficial.” It plays with the idea that social media can and has made some of us obsessed with ourselves and how we look on social media. The idea behind the track seems silly but it also poses some serious reflection on our use and the power of social media. All of this is going on with the most insanely catchy dance-able melody in the background.

 

 

Tommy Down is the lead vocalist from the group, Harker Moon. In addition to his group project, he is now putting out solo work. Tommy took the time to answer some of my questions about himself and his music. Check it out!

MFL: Tell me about your musical beginnings. Did you ever think you would be writing insanely catchy pop music?

Tommy Down (TD): Thanks for the kind words and I didn’t really consider what genre of music I would be writing. I just knew I wanted to write music in general and music that I liked; regardless of genre.

 

MFL: You are the lead vocalist for another project, Harker Moon. What inspired you to take on a solo project and how do you plan to set your solo work apart from Harker Moon?

TD: I love being in Harker Moon but there’s a finite amount of time I can spend working together on music with them in each week. I always have desire to write and record music, whether I’m with the band or not and creating a solo career means I can do this till my heart’s content.

In terms of separating solo and band material apart, I think it comes down to whether I know a particular song will sound better in a band context. I feel the band can create a larger sound and are good at building energy throughout a song that reaches a final climax. My solo stuff would naturally be slightly sparser then the bands songs; so it really depends on the song.

 

MFL: What is your take on how music is accessed by listeners these days? Do you think free/nearly free streaming is helping or hurting musicians?

TD: It’s probably quite hard to make a career purely from streaming due to this but I guess it brings the emphasis back towards live music; as it’s the only way to really make a living through music these days. Personally, I love performing live. If you enjoy playing live and are lucky enough to get enough exposure to get a decent amount of people to your gigs then this is ideal for you I suppose. On the other hand, if you are a musician who prefers spending all their time in the studio and the idea of performing live scares you stiff; then this new generation of music consumption probably isn’t ideal for you; unless you’re very popular that is. I guess it depends on which sort of musician you are.

 

MFL: I have only heard your single, “Superficial” (which has been stuck in my head for a solid 24 hours!). Are you planning to release an EP or full length this coming year?

TD: Haha, I am planning on releasing an EP or at least another Single in the near furfure. I’m also definitely releasing another single with Harker Moon in the near future, which I’m looking forward to record. I especially am because of the  two new band members and how much more they have brought.

 

 MFL: How did “Superficial” come to life and what was it like working with Decca Records on this track?

TD: Well I wrote the track with Rhys Lewis in his bedroom and he produced the song himself. We both seem to like similar artists and got on musically very easily; both being singer songwriters at heart. I showed Rhys a few chords which he wrote a bass line two and we both started thinking of lyrics while the bass riff played on a loop through the room. He’s a great musician and would happily work with him again.

 

MFL: Are there any musicians out there that you feel like you share a similar sound with? If so, who?

TD: I feel “Superficial” doesn’t sound dissimilar to some of the songs that HONNE has made. I love the laid back nature of their music.

 

MFL: What kind of music did you grow up on and has that influenced your sound today?

TD: I listened to a lot of soul musicians; like Bill Withers, Al Green, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. I’ve always really liked the Arctic Monkeys too. I feel the Arctic Monkeys made me feel it’s okay to put as many lyrics as you want in a song, as long as the amount of syllables in each bar are consistent and  flow well. The Soul Musicians probably made me appreciate how important melody is; especially when it comes to singing.

 

MFL: Do you have an overall goal for what you want your music to do for your listeners? I know “Superficial” got myself and my roomie dancing immediately.

TD: That’s great and is definitely a good enough goal already! At the end of the day if people enjoy it and it can lift their mood in any way then that would be great. If there are certain songs that touch them and can make them feel something, then that would also be cool. I don’t think I’ve released anything like that though, yet.

 

MFL: Finally, give me two or three current songs that you can’t stop listening to.

TD: I was listing to this song by the Australian band Sticky Fingers recently; called “these girls”, which seemed to stick in my head.

“Japanese Denim” by Daniel Caesar was one I also had on repeat  and “Teenage Fantasy Recorded at Metropolis Studios, London” by Jorja Smith is a cracker.

 

Thank you to Tommy for taking the time to do this and to Monika Tryburska for coordinating. You can follow Tommy on Facebook and Spotify.

New project from Thieves in the Palace’s, David Thompson: JULES DRIVE

Almost three years ago, I interviewed David Thompson about his current (at that time) musical project, Thieves in the Palace. A couple months ago, he emailed again with a new project called, Jules Drive. I listened to a couple cuts and immediately thought, “Huh, this must be a different David Thompson because this could not sound any more different than Thieves in the Palace.” Upon my second guessing, David reassured me that yes, Jules Drive is nothing like Thieves in the Palace and his new project has taken a sharp turn in the opposite direction. Jules Drive is serious retro synth wave, soundtrack style. In fact, David admits to being deeply inspired by the original Blade Runner.

 

“I think the beginning of what would become Jules Drive can be traced back to the night I re-watched Blade Runner before the sequel arrived and actually found myself paying much more attention to the soundtrack. I’d seen the film once or twice previously but for whatever reason it had registered as sort of white noise. My background with music has always been fixated on organic instruments which over the years became a real source of frustration – I wasn’t always able to physically create what I was hearing in my head. In the process of searching the soundtrack I found the “Retrowave” and “Synthwave” genres and it was really a breath of fresh air.”

 

David’s excitement about this new project is palpable in our email conversations. Following the ignition of this new inspiration, David immediately reached out to his partner in crime, Matt Hatfield. He pitched the idea of trying something out of their comfort zone, something completely new for them.

 

“Coincidentally he had already been working on a track that would eventually become our first song “Intro” which he had recorded with an old Korg synthesizer he acquired over ten years ago when we were living in Oregon and recently brought back to life in working order with a factory reset and some diligence. We painstakingly mapped out the kind of sound we were going for by taking bits of ingredients from the different sub genres; for example, we wanted a distinctly 80’s drum tone paired with a mixture of vintage synth tones and modern tones. As we continued writing songs Matt delved more deeply into the world of synth plugins and before long had accumulated a vast array of textures and tones.”

 

Their efforts have paid off and what Matt and David have created is the EP, Dusk, five tracks of dreamy, droned out goodness. I hear bits of M83, Snow in Mexico, and of course, remnants of every 80’s soundtrack ever made (and let’s admit, Drive is totally in there even though it was releasd in 2011). The record also features another friend of David’s, Gabe Vasquez, on the track, “H.U.W.L.”, who collaborates with Jules Drive from a distance. Gabe wrote that delicious piano lick that sits in the background of the track.

The project is named after the street that David grew up on in New York City and he’s been hanging on to the name, waiting for a project that best suited it. The EP is built on nostalgia. It all sounds so familiar, from another time we’ve already lived through but David is bringing it back for us, loud and clear. My favorite track on the EP that captures this the most in my opinion is the closing track, “When the Party is Gone So Are They.”

 

 

One last note from David about his new project:

 

“Nostalgia captures us all at different times in different ways. In my case seeing a grainy VHS tape with synthesizer music is an instant pull on the heart strings. I think the majority of us yearn for the feeling of being young when life was new and unknown. I hope we can bring some of those sentiments to the people who discover Jules Drive.”

 

You can follow Jules Drive on Facebook and Spotify and purchase the EP on Amazon and iTunes.

 

 

 

Playlist: Spring Vol I

I hope it’s spring where you are! Enjoy two hours of tasty tunes on me:

 

New single and music video from Montreal brothers, Maybelleen: “Hey Ruby”

MFL and Maybelleen have had a longstanding musical relationship. The brother duo (Pierre-Louise Camiré and Charles-Emile Camiré) was one of MFL’s first interviews back in 2015. Since then, they’ve consistently been producing the classic Maybelleen poprock. The brothers have nailed a genre that both represents something fresh and current but also has a classic retro rock sound to it. Upon interviewing them a few years ago, I was instantly  caught by how motivated the young brothers were. Now they’re at it again with the release of their newest single, “Hey Ruby”, which is off of their upcoming EP, Neon Lights & Magic Moments, due out May 18th.

This is what Maybelleen had to say about their new single/music video that they produced themselves:

 “It introduces you to short clips of life events, ranging from astronauts trainings to romance scenes from the 20th century. We obviously got inspired by our UK tour and all the people we’ve met through our journey. We wanted show different state of minds/emotions that we all experience when laughing, saying goodbye, being focused or having one’s head in the cloud. We played this gig in Glasgow, one of our best night, the crowd was really into it and we decided to go at the after party… There was this girl that no one really knew, standing alone, she looked mysterious. We decided to chill with her and we soon got to know each other’s names. Hers was Ruby. Everyone was just jamming with guitars and this song popped out. We pretty much jammed until the light of day.”

 

 

Stay tuned for more from Maybelleen and keep your ears peeled for Neon Lights & Magic Moments (May 18th).