Philadelphia

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.

 

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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.

 

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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: Eliza Hardy Jones

Eliza Hardy Jones is a Philadelphia-based musician who began as a classically trained pianist. Putting her skills as a pianist to use but in a completely different style, Eliza has worked with more electronic-oriented bands like Buried Beds and Nightlands. In addition, she’s spent some of 2015 touring with Strand of Oaks and playing keys for Grace Potter. But, Eliza reached a point where the curiosity of what her potential as a solo artist won over and the urge to create as Eliza Hardy Jones began. In between touring with Buried Beds, Strand of Oaks and Grace Potter, she managed to create a stunning debut record titled, Because Become which is due out January 15th. Eliza answered a handful of my questions discussing how she found the time to write a full record between tour dates, the incredible team of musicians and producers who supported her through the recording process and the subject matter of her lyrics.

 

MFL: What made “Criminal” the stand out song that you decided to release as a single? What are the ingredients that make up the song you choose to represent your entire record before its release? There are some many wonderful songs on Because Become.

Eliza Hardy Jones (EHJ): It’s hard to choose a lead single. At the end of a recording process it can be tough to have any real perspective on the songs outside the context of what they mean in your head. I was looking for a song that would be a good introduction. Something that was satisfying as a stand alone piece, but also had elements of the breadth of the record. “Criminal” felt like a good representation of all the different sonic elements. 

 

 

MFL: I hear a fun mixture of Nightlands and Buried Beds plus some elements that are completely unique in your solo music. What moved you to charge forward on your own and what have you pulled into your solo music from your past musical experiences?

 EHJ: After so many years playing as a side-woman, or musical co-conspirator, I decided that I needed to make something of my own. I wrote songs for Buried Beds, but there was a clear boundary around what the “sound” of that band was. It was a beautiful discovery to figure out what my own voice sounds like, what my honest and personal songwriting would sound like. When I started this record, I wasn’t sure what that would be. 

 

MFL: The mixture of indie pop/folk and electronic is exceptional. I think one of my favorite examples of this is “Trouble.” The 80s drum line reminiscent of that classic drum part in “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins, the snyths, your voice and the other instruments blend flawlessly! Who else is in your band and what do they play? What instruments are you responsible for?

EHJ: Recording “Trouble” was very fun. Eric Slick from Dr. Dog plays drums on that one. When we talked about the song I asked him to go “full kate bush”. He set up his kit with no cymbals, and with bongos in place of the high hat. It made for a really unique drum part and drum sound. It was a small team for the recordings. Dave Hartley (Nightlands/The War on Drugs) played bass. Eric Slick and Pat Berkery played drums. Nick Krill (The Spinto Band/Teen Men), Brian McTear, Dave, and I all played guitar. And I sang and did all of the keys. I also had Hallie Sianni (who was in Buried Beds with me) play viola, and Daniel Hart (St. Vincent/Other Lives/Dark Rooms) play violin on a few songs. Those two both recorded their parts remotely.  

 

MFL: Who are some of your favorite musicians of today and why? Has your taste in music changed throughout your career as a musician?

EHJ: I don’t think my taste in music has changed, but it’s less narrow then it once was. One of the nice things about working as a musician is being exposed to music that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. What I enjoy live is often different from what I choose to listen to alone. 

 

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MFL: What’s it like to be a musician in a day and age where fewer people are buying physical copies of albums (though there has been a resurgence in the popularity of vinyl!) and the main source of listening is through streaming?

EHJ: I was never a musician in a different time, so I’m not sure what to compare it to. I’m lucky to be a full time musician. It’s a hustle, but it’s the best.  

MFL: Was there a life event or a series of life events that served as the subject matter for Because Become? I ask this because of songs like “Pack Your Bags”, “I Watch You Fall” and “Couldn’t Leave You” sound like they could be about someone specific.

EHJ: All three of those songs are about specific people, and specific moments in time, but it’s three different people and three different moments in time. I didn’t set out with a theme in mind when I was writing the record. I wanted to write without boundaries. But when I sit down with this collection of songs, I find a lot of the songs explore the idea of being unstitched from place and time. about the crisis of fate and freewill. these songs are about real people and events, but it’s a dream reality- where faces and happenings melt into each other. Some songs were inspired by other artists; filmmakers, writers, photographers. Characters from those works find their way into my own life experiences and they become one story. It’s not auto-biographical as much as it is a map of the part of myself I can’t figure out. 

 

MFL: What has the experience of writing and recording your first record been like? I know you’ve somehow been squeezing the work in in between touring with Strand of Oaks and Grace Potter!

EHJ: It was an awesome experience. I recorded in small batches when I had time at home in between tours with Buried Beds, Strand of Oaks, and Grace Potter. I just chipped away. It’s a dual feeling of having the luxury of spending lots of time with the songs, but very little time recording them. Half of the songs were recorded with Brian McTear at his studio Miner Street, and the other half were recorded with Nick Krill at Mt. Slippery (Dr. Dog’s studio). Dave Hartley bounced around between both studios with me to help with bass and production duties. Then Brian mixed the whole thing and gave it that unified feel. I knew I didn’t want to make this record on my own. I wanted a super group of minds to make something bigger and better than I could make on my own. Because each of the sessions had so much time in between (while I was on the road), I was super excited to be in the studio. It was fun and effortless and wild and full of good friends and good vibes. 

 

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MFL: Finally, what’s in store for you in 2016 after the release of your album?

EHJ: I’ll be opening for Grace Potter (as well as playing in her band) from Jan 13-Feb.13th. I’m really looking forward to getting back on the road with the GP crew. It’s such a fantastic group of people. 

 

Big thanks to Eliza for reaching out to Music For Lunch and letting me pick her brain a bit! You can pre-order Because Become on iTunes now and it will be available January 15th on Admiral Byrd Records. Don’t forget to catch her live touring with Grace Potter this January 13th – February 15th and keep your eyes peeled for more tour dates!

Edelweiss’ “Philadelphia EP” is out NOW!

Originally from Stroudsburg, PA alternative post punk group, Edelweiss, released their latest EP last Friday, November 13th via Mad Dragon Records. Edelweiss is Niko Porlier (singer/guitarist), Tony Young (Bass), and Lexi Campion (drums).

The Philadelphia EP is comprised of four solid, high speed tracks. Each is significantly different from the other but all have common features including interesting time and tempo changes, attention-commanding guitars and vocals and overall sound that packs a punch.

The opening cut, “Winston”, introduces itself subtly but breaks out into a full out punk rock thrasher.

“Species” is a fast paced quick n’ dirty track that doesn’t waste any time. The song is immediately in your face and maintains a high level of energy for all two glorious minutes. “Cookies & Brownies” flip flops between high energy and more restrained moments but averages out to be equally as uptempo as every other track on the EP. Philadelphia closes with “Goblin” a fantastically complex track with a guitar lick (or possibly a keyboard? the notes are cycling around so quick it’s hard to tell) that serves as the base of the track, with everything else weaving in and around it.

You can buy the Philadelphia EP on iTunes now.

A new artist, a new song. “Every Time” by Jesse Hale Moore

R&B with the most delightful hint of 80’s. What more could one want from an up and coming artist? Based out of Philadelphia, Jesse Hale Moore has spent a majority of his musical career collaborating and sharing his talents with local, Philadelphia bands. However, he’s taken a step forward and is now pursuing a solo career. The single below was produced by David Hartley who is the bassist of The War on Drugs and also part of a Philadelphia-original band, Nightlands. Enjoy:

Music from Nicky-P

Nicky-P is Nicholas Picarri, a singer/songwriter based out of Philadelphia, PA. I came across his music in my favorite way, he found me. Nothing brings me more joy than opening my email first thing in the morning and having an email from a new musician in my inbox. So, thank you Nicky-P for reaching out to Music For Lunch!

Nicky-P calls his style easy listening/Americana and he shares his music quite frequently at venues in Philadelphia like Milkboy, North Star Bar & Legendary Dobbs. Additionally, he’s opened for Dispatch. I can hear why. Nicky-P’s music has the same positive sound that forces you to take a deep breath and just sway. Listen to one of my favorites, “Good People” off of his Good Thoughts EP that came out December of 2014:

Looking forward to more from Nicky-P! If you need more RIGHT NOW, check out his website, Facebook page and SoundCloud page.