Interview: Rachael Cardiello of ZINNIA

The moment “Bullets” hit my ears, I knew I was going need more. More information, more music. An explanation. Zinnia‘s commanding vocals soar flawlessly above a stunning blend of folk and mellow pop/electronic. For some reason, this song struck a chord with me. I dug a little deeper and learned that the song was written a few years ago in my home state of Montana, adding another layer of depth. Lucky for me, I was able to ask Rachael Cardiello, the woman behind Zinnia, how, what, where and why. Check out the single, “Bullets”, off of her upcoming debut album, Sensations in Two Dot and read more about it all below:



MFL: Where are you from originally and how did your life land you in Toronto?

Rachael Cardiello (RC): I grew up in Helena, Montana and moved to Victoria, BC  to study classical music when I was seventeen. What I had thought would be a four year stint in Canada just kept extending – I fell in love and eventually my partner and I  took root in Toronto which has been a very inspiring homebase. I’ve been lucky to collaborate, tour and record with some truly sensational artists here and find the energy of this massive, multicultural centre very exciting.

My heart will always lie in the mountains though. I don’t think I could be a full time city kid without a solid dose of Montana every so often.


MFL: When did music become part of your life and has its role in your life changed over time?

RC: Oh jeeze, music just seems to have been part of everything forever. Feel like I could get rambly here.

Creativity was a constant in my childhood – our house was always strewn with instruments and art supplies. I was equally involved in dance, visual art and music but gradually music took precedence. In high school music began to split between a formal education and a very personal emotional-outlet. One had me me playing in the symphony, competing in concerto competitions, and earning scholarships to University – while the other had me pouring my heart into songwriting – spending hours alone with the piano –  as a way to understand some difficult things happening in my life. The following years came with such destabilizing chaos – I lost my father and wrestled with severe mental illness. I’m not sure how I would have gotten through that time period had I not been processing through music.

In more recent years, music has become the professional vehicle that allowed me to collaborate, record and tour with truly wonderful artists throughout North America and Europe both as a side-player and with my own music.


MFL: As “Bullets” builds, in its stunning crescendo, the lyrics get more desperate, I can hear the pain in your voice. Can you divulge a bit more into what “Bullets” is about and how/why it came to you when you were in Montana?

RC: There are statistics I heard when I was young – particularly involving domestic violence and sexual assault – that seemed extreme. Yet through the years these statistics very much become a reality for people (particularly women) in my life. Bullets was written one summer – staying with my mom in Montana – when I was feeling the collective weight of these experiences become overwhelming. It sometimes seemed impossible that each person would have the strength to carry on through their pain. I’ve been astounded at their resilience.


MFL: You mention that you carried “Bullets” with you for four years before you settled on a final arrangement. How did the arrangement change over time and when did you know it was finished?

RC: Leading up to ZINNIA, I toured with many of the same musicians under my own name – Rachael Cardiello. In those years our sound morphed from chamber folk to a retro sound with Motown-inspired arrangements. The material I was writing for this album – starting with Bullets – had such an intensity to it, that it was difficult to find a sound with depth enough to contain both the intimate and furious moments. It’s a precarious balance and I found the smallest differences in synth tones or bass lines could undermine the directness of the lyrics.I was especially precious about Bullets. I really needed to get this one right –  and a huge amount of thanks goes to my producer David Brandwein and my partner James Burrows for pushing me to find the sound that could hold it.


MFL: Where do you seek inspiration when writing your music and do the lyrics or melody come to you first?

RC: Lyrics and melody seem to come intertwined. Lately I need movement to write – usually biking around Toronto – and I’ll roll around a phrase and melody as I go. I can usually sense the chords and underlying rhythms. When I have time with a guitar or piano, I’ll search around til I find them. Sometimes the trick is pushing beyond what my head first heard as those are usually the safe, expected chords. In my side project TIDAL MOUTH (a collaboration with writer Daccia Bloomfield) I purposely reach beyond any sound or structure that is familiar. Though ZINNIA is more rooted in pop, it’s been hugely affected by the creative, experimental process of TIDAL MOUTH.


MFL: Can you get a handle on what it is about songs you listen to personally that really grab you and get you to listen to them over and over again? Do you strive to put these same elements into your music?

RC: I’m very drawn to the rougher edges of sounds and voices. That split-second crunch where the bow draws across the string, the breaks and warbles where the voice is less comfortable. Influences on that realm are Bill Callahan, Lucinda Williams and certain recordings of Shostakovich.

I’m mesmerized by movement and get especially hooked on music that is rooted in dance and the journey through a soundscape and idea. Everything is better when it moves.

The music that really catches me has something to say. For all the time and money one pours into creation, I think it’s a waste not to think through what you’re trying to say to the world. Either on a larger, political scale – artists like Hurray for the Riff Raff and Bruce Springsteen – or on a deeply personal level like Mount Eerie.

Those are the most essential elements in the music I’m drawn to and I think they definitely inform how I make music – sometimes subconsciously just in letting me embrace those aspects of my writing.


MFL: I’ve got to know, is your upcoming debut, Sensations in Two Dot, named after Two Dot, Montana? I can’t say I know very many people who know Two Dot. It is only a couple hours from where I live, in Bozeman!

RC: Ha yes! I grew up in Helena and always got a kick out of the name Two Dot on that Montana map. Also, sometimes Toronto is referred to as T-Dot and I like the juxtaposition between how incredibly different these two places are – population 67 verses 5.9 million.


MFL: What can we expect on Sensations in Two Dot? Does it tell a story or have a concept? Feel free to lump this answer with the above question.

RC: Sensations in Two Dot focuses on moments of doubt – creative, societal, and personal – exploring what it means to hold compassion through the grey areas of life. Whether in Two Dot or Toronto these nine songs probe the complex, sometimes unsettling similarities found in the human experience: the hauntings of unrelenting dreams, tensions and tender triumphs in relationships, systems of abuse threaded through communities, and the search for compassion and visibility in everyday interactions.


MFL: Finally, beyond releasing your debut album (no big deal…;o)), what sort of goals do you have for 2019?

RC: Oh jeeze we just want to be playing as much as possible. Our live shows have been wildly fun – explosive and giant – and we’ll be taking our crew on the road for a slew of shows across Canada with a few in the USA including Montana! Sensations in Two Dot will be out in the Fall and followed with European and North American tours.


Big thanks to the lovely Rachael for answering my questions and to Auteur Research for connecting us.

And before you go, PLEASE check out her latest single, “Black Bark, Yellow Leaves”, out today!



Summer time vibes from Copenhagen: “24/7” by Scarlet Pleasure

Within seconds, this song totally got snagged on my ear waves. The poolside vibes feel like summer sun blasting its way through those gray spring clouds that are hanging heavy right now. “24/7” is the newest single from Copenhagen trio, Scarlet Pleasure.

Check it out:


The trio is made up of Alexander Malone (bass), Emil Goll (vocals & guitar) and
Joachim Dencker (drums). Goll had this to say about the track:
“We’ve been portraying our very own generation on several songs. Searched for the truth, why we try to escape or at least bend reality with second life social media and endless partying combined with alcohol and drugs. On ‘24/7’ we confront the ultimate drug of them all – love! – and how easily it can effect and distort your life in so many ways.”


Featured Image PC: Märta Thisner

NEW Playlist: Spring Vol I

Now that we’ve had a decent stretch of decent weather and it’s probably going to snow, I will reveal the first installment of the spring playlists! I have to say this one may be the best yet. It is PACKED. Be sure to listen to it to the bitter end. Coming in at almost five hours, it may be the longest. Spring is a bountiful time for music so enjoy.


Interview: Jeppe Gade of Favor

Danish singer/songwriter/storyteller, Jeppe Gade, has been sharing his music with anyone who will listen since 2015. This desire to share music began on the streets of Rio, Sydney, London and New York and his musical project, Favor, is now catching ears across the globe. Below, Jeppe opens up about why his music sounds the way it does, the motivation behind his art and what it’s like to be vulnerable as an artist and musician.


MFL: You’ve only officially started releasing music over the last couple of years but I imagine songwriting began much before we started hearing you! Tell me how Favor started and what the impetus was for beginning your own project.

Jeppe Gade – Favor (JG): I still remember the chords for the first song I wrote and if I try really hard I think I can remember the first couple of lines as well. It’s kind of crazy, cause I think I was like 11 or 12 when I wrote my first song. Needless to say, it’s something I’ve been doing almost my entire life. That doesn’t mean that I’ve been doing it well all the way through though. I took a lot of detours along the way, moving through different genres and expressions before ending up with Favor. I think I took a long time to figure out how I wanted Favor to sound because I simply like a lot of genres. Sometimes I still waver when I need to describe what Favor sounds like. It’s hard when you’ve taken everything you like from your past and put it in the mix to sound what you sound like. What really made a difference was something that happened during a self-proclaimed world tour in 2014-2016. I always feel really inspired when I travel. Not really because of where I am going, but more what I am travelling away from. It has always felt easier to look at the life I am living in Copenhagen, when I’m not in Copenhagen. So this time I was playing in New York City at something called The Bitter End and I was playing on a Sunday, I remember. I’d long been wanting to write songs that was more for me than they were for everybody else. I’d found a 1985 Phil Collins album “No Jacket Required” a few months earlier and that kind of changed something in the way I wrote songs. I started going back to where it all started, which was the music I’d been brought up with. My mum loves the 1980s and all the really pompous popstars from that period and my dad is 1970s kind of folkrock guy. And that Phil Collins record just reminded me of that. So I’d started writing songs that had those two decades as inspiration and because I love well oiled pop-tunes, it became this special little thing. A kind of alternative throwback pop project. Back to New York. This was the first place where I started playing these songs and I just felt how it resonated so well with a live audience, which was interesting, cause really it was just something that I made for my own. I needed to explore this and that’s how Favor initially started.

MFL: Your music makes me want to move, ha! What is the drive behind creating music with such dance-able feel and do you foresee yourself exploring other less dance-able tracks?

JP: Before I started Favor I’d been travelling around playing tons of gigs where it was just me and an acoustic guitar. This is still something that I love to do. I was almost two years on the road – playing streets, bars, small venues, big venues, warm-up-and cool-down shows. Going through Copenhagen, Rome, Istanbul, New York, Rio, Hamburg and a lot of other places. Something that you learn when you are just you and an acoustic guitar is how to make a groove with very limited means. But I was always trying to really get people to dance, even though I only had this guitar and my voice. But I just really wanted, and still want, people to move to my music. So when we went into the studio to record the first Favor EP, I knew that this was something that I wanted to make even clearer with the Favor songs. So every time I start working on a new song, I instantly think; “okay, so how is going to translate in to a concert setting, what is going make people want to groove, move, scream and dance.” That being said, we are working on tracks that is less dancey than my previous stuff and if you go back and listen to my first EP a song like “Cold Summer Love” is also much more mellow than my other stuff. So it’s definitely something that I explore.

MFL: List three to five of the most influential albums or artists for you. They can be from the past or present.

Phil Collins / No Jacket Required:
​My mum played this records to death when I was growing up, so they are kind of a soundtrack to my childhood. I bloody love these albums.

Blood Orange / Cupid Deluxe.
​Dev Hynes is wizard and I think this album was the best case of taking retro-sounds from 80s and 90s and just making killer popsongs out of them. Saw him live last year and he’s extremely captivating on stage.

Wham! / Fantastic. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Neil Young / Harvest 
​I know the lyrics to this entire album

Kanye West / 808s & Heartbreak 
​He’s a mad dog but this is still one of the best concept albums of the past 20 years. I love a consistent expression in visuals and in concept for artists and it’s something that I really try to do with Favor. I think this is one of the purest examples of exactly that.

MFL: Who else is behind Favor in terms of instrumentals, recording, mixing/mastering and how did you find them/bring them on board?

JP: After my self-proclaimed world tour I came back to Copenhagen. I’d been home a couple of weeks, when I got a message from two musicians – Daniel Brandt and Mark Laursen (Kill J) – that had some tracks that they thought would be fun to try and have me sing on. I knew Daniel from a previous project. We starting working on a few different things but never really made something that I could see myself in. Then one day I was sitting at Daniel’s place having a coffee and just chatting away. We started talking about music that in some way – at least at that time – really wasn’t cool or at least not seen as something you should reference when making contemporary songs. I mentioned some of my 80s influences, I think actually underlining the Phil Collins album, and Daniel asked me to sing along to one of the tracks on that record and so I did. After that he went “we should really do something as sticky and completely over the top as this.” After that I pulled out some of the stuff I’d written and played in New York. After a while we had 3 or 4 songs and we went to another producer called Søren Christensen (M.I.L.K, Nabiha, Fallulah) and he completely understood what I was trying to do with the project. So since the start of 2017 these guys have been musical playmates and we all share the passion for uncool pop, ha ha.

MFL: Your music has a deliciously 80s-inspired sound. What is it about this kind of music that appeals to you?

JP: Musically I draw a lot on the 70s and the 80s. In regards to the 70s I go there for groove and instrumentation. That’s both disco vibes but also kind of folk-rocky things. I go to the 80s for my sense of melodies and that sort of pompous pop-feel. I just really like how things can be very much in your face in the 80s era. It was just very much over the top.

MFL: I hear such incredible music coming out of Copenhagen these days. Describe the music scene there from your perspective and tell me what it’s like cultivating your own music among such a rich environment of musicians.

JP: I definitely feel some sort of vibrant thing going on in Copenhagen these years. There’s so much great stuff happening and tons of extremely talented artist and bands. Something probably happened after acts like MØ and Lukas Graham made it on the international scene and thereby “taking Copenhagen” with them out there. That has definitely made a lot of artist go “hey man, the world is watching, so let’s make the best music we possibly can and let’s try and be ourselves in it.” That’s what both MØ and Lukas did and therefore we don’t just have good artists in Copenhagen, we have artists that are also doing it in their own way. I think that’s really something that cultivates an amazing indie scene. Now, this is just my own assumption and completely subjective. But if you compare CPH to Stockholm for instance. In Stockholm they are brilliant at making effective, catchy and out of this world pop songs. That’s their focus. But in CPH the focus is more on creating a unique sound as an artist and try to find your own place to stand.

MFL: I’ve read that “Call My Name” was sort of a ‘confession box’ for you and an exploration with different instrumentation. How did writing and releasing this song feel different than writing/releasing your previous tracks both from an emotional AND stylistic standpoint?



JP: It felt terrifying! But the response has been crazy good. After I released my first EP and started playing more and more shows and getting more attention I also started comparing myself to other acts. And you can always find someone who has bigger crowds, more plays, more followers and so on. And I always ended up comparing myself to unrealistic standards, acts like Paul McCartney or Michael Jackson, which is just plain dumb. So I wanted do something drastic to change this. I took all my vain thoughts: “I can do this and this if you want to just recognize me.” I hate that I have these thoughts. So I took all of them, put them on paper and really didn’t want anyone to ever read them. I was working on this song that had a kind of indie-disco vibe and couldn’t really find the lyrics for it. Then one guy in the studio said something like; “well, let’s just write down every line that we never would put into a song.” That made me think; “well, how about an entire story that I never wanted to tell anyone?” And that’s how it came about. The funny thing is, that this song is what made me get a record deal and I never really wanted anyone to hear it in the first place.

MFL: I’m sure you have other activities besides music in your life. What are your other passions and how do they influence your music (if at all)?

JP: I’ve been telling stories all my life. I use to speak up at family parties and just tell stories, having people look at me, laughing and paying attention. I realized pretty early that it was something that I bloody loved and something that I was really good at. So I started writing stories, poetry, small essays and also began making small videos to support this. And this sounds kind of strange, but that’s also how I see for example my Instagram profile and especially the Instagram stories. I wanna tell a clear story there too. I think it’s also something that was supported by the years I spent as this kind of travelling troubadour. When you play in the streets of Rio you need to stand out. Everyone is playing well, so I also started telling a lot of stories between songs. And it’s rare that you see a guy just telling stories in the streets, so that made me stand out. And now I’m taking a lot of those stores into my music as well.


Big thank you to Jeppe for taking the time to share his thoughts with us. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Spotify.

Interview: Temple Haze + Narou

Today, Temple Haze and Narou release their Reflections EP. But first, in case you missed this gem from the collaboration between Temple Haze and Narou, please check it out before we go on:



Temple Haze and Narou teamed up recently to create “If I Could Be Yours” and I got to ask both of them questions about how they came to work together, what music means to them and much more. Check it out!

MFL: How did you two come to work together and what do you bring to the table as individual musicians?

 Temple Haze (TH): We met through mutual friends in Berlin, I really dug Nico’s production style and we worked on ideas for most of 2018. As a composer and songwriter it’s really great to meet a producer like Narou to help put the songs together.


MFL: Where did each of you grow up and how/when did music become a permanent fixture in your lives?

TH:  I was born in Washington D.C. and spent the majority of my childhood listening to my mothers vinyl records – classics like the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Elton John, etc. My mother has always been a singer so I learned everything from her. I knew I wanted to make music from about the time I was 14, and spent ages in my basement learning and trying things out.

Narou (N): I grew up in Vienna Austria. Music played a big role in my life from an early age since my dad used to have his own music studio. I move to Amsterdam to study sound engineering right after Highschool so I would say it became a permanent fixture around that time.

MFL: Outside of music, what do your lives look like?

TH: Me and Nicos both believe in living healthy. I do yoga everyday, and work on improving my meditation practice. Otherwise I do a lot of work with Soneiro Collective – a Berlin based project holding space for sound meditations, combining yoga and music, curating festival stages.

N: I love sports and nutrition so whenever I am not making music I am outside moving my body or in the kitchen exploring.

MFL: “If I Could be Yours” is such a subdued track. How did you know you were done with it and was there ever a time where it was perhaps over-engineered?

N: It actually took us a very long time to finish it cause we really wanted the track to evolve in an unexpected way to give the listener a unique listening experience. I sometimes felt it was overengineerd for sure since it has been the biggest project I worked on to date. We recorded so many different musicians and instruments so it was hard to get everything organized the way we wanted.

MFL: Do you have a specific goal in mind when writing music (a message to be conveyed to listeners etc) or do you prefer to let listeners perceive/understand your music uniquely?

TH: Great Questions. I always have a deeper meaning behind my lyrics that adapt to my personal situation but, yes, I prefer to let the audience create their own view of it, how it affects their own lives. That is the beauty of music and lyric – it creates memories. I find listening a song will bring me back to the place I was when I first listened to it, and I can tap into that memory vividly, put myself back in that space. Otherwise it’s all about love – I try to purposefully evoke positivity and deeper metaphors through my lyrics, always coming back to love.

N: Personally, like many of us, I always try to deal with real life situations when writing songs. However I feel like the way I say and write things it might not always seem obvious what exactly it is I am saying. So I’d say I kind of like the idea that the listeners might interpret my lyrics differently.

MFL: What is coming down the pipeline from you two and how much longer will you be collaborating?

N: We have two more tracks coming end of March that will be the last tracks of our collaborative EP, Reflections.

MFL: What does it mean to you to have “If I Could be Yours” highlighted as one of Spotify’s fresh finds?

TH: Stoked! Especially because we never hired a PR agency or paid promo, so glad to see that music can still spread and make waves on its own, outside of industry money motivating it.

N: It was the first real release I had on Spotify. So having it put in an editorial playlist was huge for me.

MFL: Because we are at the beginning of a new year and I love reflecting on musical favorites of the past year, list one or two favorite releases (full records or tracks) that you could not have gotten through 2018 without.

TH: -All Night Sedans – Leif Vollebekk : Heard it maybe 1000 times in 2018, the whole album, Twin Solitude is genius.

-Forest Green – Big Red Machine

N: –Daniel Caesar – who hurt you

 –6lack – east Atlanta love letter (album)

 –Octavian – little

Big thank you to Temple Haze and Narou taking time out of writing music to share their thoughts with MFL! Look out for more from them as the year goes on!




Debut EP from Rockaway Beach’s, Patsy

Friday March 1st brought the EP release of an up and coming favorite of Rockaway Beach, Patsy. Not only did Patsy release a five-track EP of pure nostalgia-pop, in a collaboration with his wife and film maker, Laura Nesci, they released a visual for each track. The visuals were recently premiered at the Rockaway Beach Film Festival.

Through the fuzzy nostalgia that taints each track, Patsy’s voice shines through crystal clear. My favorite example of this is on “Why Am I Waiting on You?”:


The simplicity of the tracks is brilliantly approachable and easy to relate to, offering a place for listeners to settle in very easily. No overthinking or over interpreting. “Fucking Amazing” is the perfect example of this. Though the track has to be handed out to the public with the EXPLICIT stamp in all caps because of the repeated F bombs, the track captures the essence of those moments when all other words escape besides “fucking amazing!” On “Call That Love”, his recurring howl gives the title of the track a very literal, but perfectly playful, meaning. The EP is sweet, clever, concise and delicious.

Laura Nesci coincidentally created the accompanying visuals for the EP the very year that Patsy was writing the EP, accidentally capturing the unique process. Nesci had this to say about the visuals:

It’s a love letter to our hometown of Rockaway, the people we love here, the recurring memories and repetition of everyday life and work superimposed over the magic of people working together in creative process.

and Patsy had this to say about the visuals and his wife ❤ :

The visual companion my wife made just couldn’t fit nicer with the music and the message and I’m very lucky to have her.

The EP is available on Spotify now and please enjoy the visuals on Patsy’s YouTube Channel.