The Blam Blams put a spotlight on behind the scenes magic in their latest single and title track of their upcoming album, “Opening Night”. For their debut album, they have created a concept album exploring the life of Sydney Fabel, a bisexual actor/artist in 1970’s London, stepping onto the stage for the first time both literally and figuratively. The curtain is drawing and there is an inside look into the mind of Fabel with this track. The narrator is nervous, but excited for the show to begin as the opportunity to be heard and seen is finally here.
“Opening Night” can resonate with anyone who struggles to express themselves and longs to be seen, despite the fears that may come from it. Starting with the muffled voices of the audience and introducing the inner thoughts of Fabel gives a theatrical sound. The song continues to build and grow stronger, not only with the music but with the character and his journey. The Blam Blams, made up of Bradley Owens (lead vocals, piano), Christian Northover (drums), David Estes (guitar, producer) and Rob Stewart (bass), are exploring themes of sexuality, gender, love, and living without a mask with their album Opening Night. This track is only the beginning of an enticing story, an undercurrent of the entirety of the album.
Singer-songwriter Elizabeth Young may only be 16 years old, but her wisdom and natural accessibility goes far beyond her years and translate beautifully into her music. Young has a remarkable ability to transform the life of a teenage girl into a universal experience. This sophisticated vocalist has spent years developing her musicality and playing local live shows outside of Washington D.C. where she grew up, but at last she’s ready to show the world her talent with her debut EP in September of 2020.
We had the honor of speaking to Elizabeth briefly leading up to this release.
Your new single, “I Won’t Fall,” is about anxiety. Could you give us some more insight into what inspired the song, and what you hope that people listening to it take away from it?
I Won’t Fall talks about how I can stand up to the difficulties of anxiety. Sometimes my anxiety can try to get the best of me and it can be hard to fight it, but I have learned that I can overcome, persevere, and not fall into the trap of my anxiety. My producer Chris Keup and I thought of factors in my life that help support me such as my family. My friends and family can help serve as a shield during inner battles with worries or anxiety. I Won’t Fall portrays an important message that means so much to me and I hope has an impact on others to help them feel stronger when fighting against inner worries or anxiety. With this song, I want to encourage others to stand tall and not to fear of being knocked down by their anxiety or have it stop them.
What is the Washington, DC music scene like? Do you have a favorite venue in that area that you loved to play or see shows at and why?
In Washington DC, I’ve been to the Kennedy Center several times where I have seen Lea Michele sing and other productions. I have played at multiple venues around my town one of which is the open mic night at The Old Brogue. I love playing at the Old Brogue because my family and I have been going there since I was little so it is a very comforting place. Since COVID-19, I haven’t been able to play at local restaurants which is sad!
You have a lovely voice, with a strong command over both soft and belted vocals. Did you have vocal lessons growing up? How did you cultivate your voice into what it is today?
I first found a love for singing when I auditioned for the musicals at my elementary and middle schools. I discovered how much I loved singing and I began taking voice lessons to grow and learn more about singing. I brought my guitar that my parents gave me to my voice teacher on a spree, and from there I learned how to sing songs with my guitar. I would practice all the time on my own, helping me to improve my guitar skills. I started performing at small live events and quickly discovered how much I loved performing and I wanted to get better at my music. I began to turn my interest away from musicals and found what I loved the most- singing songs with my guitar and creating music. From there I began jotting down some lyrics to some chords on my guitar. I began taking vocal lessons with Katie Talbot from Nashville over Skype where she helped me safely improve my voice. I also love to sing all around the house which can sometimes bug my family! I linked up with the amazing Chris Keup where we wrote songs together and created the EP.
Your upcoming EP deals with topics ranging from narcissism to toxic relationships. How does it feel to be sharing such intimate parts of yourself with the world? Do you feel nervous about revealing yourself or is it freeing?
It is difficult to open up and share yourself to the world. It’s important to me for my songs to be authentic and real therefore making me a little nervous to feel vulnerable. However, it is freeing to express myself and exciting for others to hear my thoughts through music and I hope people like them and can relate to them.
Was this your first time recording in a studio? How was that experience for you? Was it time-consuming and a lot of hard work? Did everything go smoothly? Give those of us on the outside a look into the studio life.
It was the first time I ever professionally recorded in a studio so everything was very new and exciting for me. I was so eager to learn how a song was created from an artist’s point of view. I discovered so many new things and working in the studio opened up a new world for me and I want to keep learning and improving. Chris is a talented producer and was very easy to work with especially for a developing artist like me. Working in the studio was hard work but very fun! I went down to Chris’s studio in Louisa VA on school days, after soccer tournaments, and on weekends to create the EP. The vibes in Chris’s studio made me feel creative and like a real professional! We spent hours each day recording, correcting, and adding to perfect the EP. Before my experience in the studio, I thought it would be quick and easy to record the vocals, but it took lots of time and hardwork to put them together. Creating the songs did go smoothly and I can’t wait to keep working in the studio in the future.
“I Won’t Fall” is a deeply moving song with personal lyrics that make the listener feel like they know you. What is your go-to method of writing songs? Do you have any advice for any budding songwriters out there?
Songwriting is all about authenticity and how the lyrics flow to the beat of the music. I love bringing out thoughts or worries on my mind into the songs to make them more relatable and personal. I really want to discover how to become my own artist and find my unique style to put into my music. I want to keep learning and growing! My go-to method is to take a regular idea on my mind or a topic that may be bothering me and string lyrics together. I use my guitar to find chords that fit my lyrics and the feel of the song.
What is your favorite song or album to listen to when you’ve had a hard week and you want to unwind and why?
The way I escape through music is to visit playlists I make on my phone. My playlist is made up of country and pop music. I really enjoy almost any music and I have a lot of variety in my playlists. Olivia O’Brien is an artist I love to listen to because I love the way she writes the lyrics in her songs. Taylor Swift is a classic artist but I love listening to her songs because I know most of the lyrics so it helps me to unwind by singing along.
Pulling from the blues, R&B, and powerhouse female artists she grew up surrounded by outside Washington, D.C., as well as female artists and songwriters like Bonnie Raitt, Alicia Keys, and Taylor Swift, this EP deals with wide-reaching topics in a cathartic and carefree way. Young’s forthcoming single off the EP, “I Won’t Fall”, is a tender anthem about anxiety. It’s filled with rich guitar chords that embrace silence with warmth. Young’s skilled vocals earnestly sing on top of a strong, slow beat that feeds into the anthemic sound. Her sailing melody line on the words “I won’t fall” sweep you off your feet and lift you up, instilling a sense of hope within you. Young’s resolve and softness recall the feminine power that her female influences channel, and hint at what you can look for in the rest of her soon-to-come EP.
In the meantime, check out her latest single, “Ricochet” here.
New Jersey-based singer-songwriter Eric Harrison teamed up with Nashville veteran Rachel Potter for “Down Down Down”. The track is a true Americana duet, with flares of country and guitar rock. Harrison and Potter’s voices compliment each other over the sweet sound of the guitar. The country version features a traditional Telecaster, lap steel, and the mandolin, while the electric version has a Neil Young-style melodic guitar grime and a robust B3. Two versions of the song will be released, one being country and the other is an electric version. Equally filled with hope and worry, “Down Down Down” is a lyrical journey through and through. Harrison shares:
I tried to capture the rawness of loss and the desire to protect the people you love, but as hard as it is to watch the people you love get hurt, sometimes you need to hang back and let them figure it out. I view the song as kind of a reminder to check my savior complex and remember that hurt can turn to wisdom.
The Americana singer is also set to release his fourth album, Gratitude, later in the year. The album is filled with 10 life-affirming tracks that will shine bright in his discography. Gratitude was recorded at Salem’s studio in Woodstock, New York with the help of guitarist and producer Kevin Salem. He continues to push further, making music that is meant to be enjoyed outside on a summer night. “Down Down Down” (feat. Rachel Potter) is a part of the new era in Harrison’s artistic journey. Check it out now.
DOCTOR IMPOSTER is back with another single off her forthcoming record. “Two Times” (feat. Joie and GI Major) leans towards her hip-hop production style and is about women confidently flexing. Brooke C. Vettese came up with the idea for DOCTOR IMPOSTER when she was fed up with being treated differently in the industry. Over the past seven years she has been working to produce and make her own music non-stop. Teaming up with Joie and GI Major is a success for the Brooklyn-based producer, as she mentions on her Instagram.
“Two Times” is fun and something to jam along with friends in the car. The three artists sound like they were meant to collaborate, especially on a victory lap themed song. With lyrics like, “I’m on top of this, my cockiness is massively appealing / This joint’s lit, feeling high as hell / kick my feet up on the ceiling”, it is easy to want to recreate the feeling and sing along. The track fits in with the themes in the album and is right before she wins the game, so it feels triumphant. DOCTOR IMPOSTOR’s album will be preceded by this single, so be sure to keep an eye out for more.
Avant-pop temptress Alex Lilly’s single “Terrible Person” is a pulsating, mysterious gem that plays with subtlety both in the music and lyrics. The track is as elusive as Lilly herself, having been a part of several groups throughout her career, including the Buddhist punk band Zero Dezire, the harmonic quartet the Living Sisters, and touring with names like Lorde, Beck, and the bird and the bee. She characterizes her music as “sexy psychological thrillers,” drawing the description from her honeyed, suspicious tunes. “Terrible Person” starts out as one might expect, with Lilly singing “that would make you a really really terrible person. and make me the dumb one for having loved you,” implying a sense of clarity and empowerment. But the intricacies of the situation are revealed in a later verse when she sings “or wait am i just a really really terrible person just like you so i deserve you, come back,” showing that it’s never as simple as the earlier line may suggest. Behind her words is a muted beat that seems like it’s accelerating, and a perpetually rising melody which works together to create an understated feeling of urgency. Her voice rings out like a siren, compelling her listeners with off-kilter melody lines and interesting vocal inflections. Her last words are overtaken with distortion and the music embodies a bit of harshness to drive the message home.
Explains Lilly of the track:
If you’re like me, then you dwell on your breakup and wonder who was actually the guilty party in the relationship which is what ‘Terrible Person’ is about. You break up and then you look back and toss the blame around until you get exhausted. I came home one night drunk and angry, thinking about how my ex had screwed me over. But then I realized that I sucked too and I couldn’t decide who sucked more so I wrote these lyrics to help me decide. This was the last song we recorded. In fact I had to do it from my home studio and Barbara (Gruska) produced it from hers. The quarantine had just started. Barb was in constant contact with a family member who could not afford to get sick. I sent her my vocals and that arpeggiated track. And she did her magic.
The Angry Lisas shine a light on life’s heartbreaking realities and how crucial it is to learn to let them go in their impassioned and deeply genuine new video for their single “Wingwalkers.” Sean Taylor, the principal songwriter for the Portland-based indie-rock outfit, found that writing songs for the band’s upcoming album Slate Violet was the only way he could process and heal from the regret, nostalgia, gratitude, and sorrow that he collected over the last decade, or “cheap man’s therapy,” as he calls it. The album not only reflects on pain but the elation that comes from the release of pain, a release that manifests itself in catchy rock anthems that are zealous and sincere. It humbly reflects on some of the most challenging moments in Taylor’s twenties. As a part of this, “Wingwalkers” comes on the heels of Taylor’s big move away from home. Where he expected catharsis and a fresh beginning, he instead found a reflective familiarity. The idea that you can’t escape your problems, and that the only way to move on is to let go provides the foundation for the narrative of “Wingwalkers.”
The visuals and narrative of the video amplify the humility of the music by adding a layer of authenticity that can only come from watching someone else’s story. It follows two people, sometimes flashing back to their life and relationship as children, sometimes confronting the harsh reality of their life in the present. While the shots are ambiguous at first, details are slowly revealed about the situation, until the narrative reaches a burning climax. You feel your heart both warmed and broken as you watch, until the end practices what Taylor preaches about letting go. Enveloping this story are varied, down to earth guitar riffs that feel like a wordless echo of the preceding lyrics. The vocals are classic; soft, yet earnest. But “Wingwalkers” is only a taste of the emotional atlas that is Slate Violet, and the rolling drums at the end of the track remind us that this isn’t over, there are more challenges and revelations ahead.