Having just released their brand new album Strange Times this morning, Los Angeles-based psych pop trio Hollow FortyFives – comprised of Lucas Renberg, Brett Incardone, and Travis Corsaut – is revving up to play their album release party tonight at The Troubadour. Which means they have absolutely no time to bask in the glow of their work and treasure the audience response, as they’re focused on what’s to come with the entirety of the week still to unfold.
Luckily, we got a hot minute to catch up with them to find out the inspiration behind their work as a whole, the album you’re probably about to listen to on repeat, as well as to poke and prod them with silly little questions that give us peace of mind. Check out our words below!
What was your first musical memory? Did it have any bearing on how you respond to or create music now?
Lucas: Listening to a Beatles cassette that my Uncle had made for me. Then seeing some footage of The Who play live, after that i knew i had to play music.
Brett: Driving in my dad’s car and asking him who the band was on the radio. Also, asking my brother which instrument was playing and him teaching me the different sounds.
Travis: Being taught to play the guitar by my uncle. I quickly gave up and when I got a drum set 5 years later was forced into lessons. I really grew to love it.
Where do you believe you pull the most inspiration from for your work?
Lucas: A big chuck of it comes from the music I listen to and care about, My two favorite songwriters are John Lennon and Bob Dylan. The rest i would have to say come from the way I see the world. Anything can spark a song.
Brett: My biggest inspiration for lyrics would be the people I’m surrounded by whether it be friends, family, or even strangers. For music, simply, it can be bands I like, a riff I hear, or something that just grabs my attention.
Travis: I’d have to say that Lucas and Brett are my biggest inspirations in writing.
What inspired the track “Return Ticket” specifically?
Lucas: “Return Ticket” came about from the feeling of wanting to leave and get away. I live in this paradise that is California, but it’s a huge world out there. Always nice to take a look around, and no need to fear when you have a return ticket back home.
Your album is finally coming out, and we are so excited about it. What was the process for creating this album like for you guys?
Lucas: It was great writing the album and giving these songs the treatment they deserve. As a band it was our first time not recording ourselves, which was a whole new experience itself. We didn’t have to worry about mic placement or levels, we could focus on just playing the songs. And that really helped us grow as a band.
Brett: The process was very fun and smooth. The creative process was an absolute blast to be a part of and recording the album was a lot how I had hoped it would be: lots of late nights, laughs with my band mates, and excitement for being in a professional setting.
Travis: It was eye opening creating this album. The most important part for me was seeing how the songs had grown into something we’re all really proud to show you.
How do you imagine people listening to this release in its entirety?
Lucas: In a smokey room, either laying on a carpet floor or dancing away as the music flows out the speakers.
Brett: Driving in a car on a nice, sunny day, windows down with a cigarette in your hand.
Travis: When you listen to this song, I want you driving to Joshua tree in the rain with one hand out the window. If your friends are awake belt it with them and if they’re asleep wake them up by belting it. Noise is for the boys.
If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?
Lucas: As a kid i was obsessed with Robin. So it would have to be Robin! He’s got the bat bike and is the only one I know who can question Batman.
Brett: Spiderman because he’s been my favorite since I was a kid, I’ve always loved Spiderman stories, and no matter how tough his life gets he always finds a way to overcome his struggles. Besides, who wouldn’t want to swing from skyscrapers?
Travis: Captain Planet, let’s strive to always improve this world guys.
If you could collaborate with any artist on any medium, who would you choose and what would you make?
Lucas: I’d love to be able to do a split single with my favorite current musician Tim Presley of White Fence.
Brett: Co-writing an album with Jeff Tweedy at the Wilco loft. It would be the craziest thing ever.
Travis: I want to do covers of the Barenaked Ladies with the ghost of Buddy Holly.
Cats or dogs? Substantiate your claim.
Lucas: Dogs who act like cats and cats who act like dogs. Best of both worlds.
Brett: Dogs. I had a cat once when I was a child, but she was a demon. Now I’m not saying all cats are evil, but I have a dog now and he is an absolute angel.
Travis: Cats AND dogs, lil cuties are a damn blessing.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Lucas: Keep living life between the headphones.
Brett: Tip your bartender.
Strange Times is out today and will be available here. Be sure to catch them at their album release show TONIGHT and keep up with the band here.
We’ve been inundated with a little too much fluff lately. And, while we’re all about being happy and upbeat and feeling free, sometimes you need to slow it down and enjoy a good song for what it is: emotional, dark, intense, and equally as freeing. This is the feeling you get from the first chords of Nathaniel Bellows‘ new track “To Wait”, which finds its exclusive streaming premiere right here, right now. As the song progresses, a dark and beautiful love affair brims within its lines for those who happen upon it.
If nothing else, this track reminds you that patience – even when you’re waiting for dissonance in instrumentals and the next line of a brand new song – is a damn virtue.
We caught up with Nathaniel himself briefly before the release of this new track to talk shop. Check out our words below!
How is your new LP, Swan and Wolf, different from your previous album?
With Swan and Wolf, I left the city and went up to Maine to record all the vocals and guitar tracks by myself. Being in that secluded environment, I was able to spend more time organizing, layering, and experimenting with how the background vocals interacted with the main vocal, which ultimately—hopefully—gives the songs greater emotional texture and depth. Another main difference is that, with Swan and Wolf, I worked closely with a mixer, Brian Losch, who really understood the mood and tone I was looking for, and which resulted in a more cohesive, consistent overall sound.
While The Old Illusions featured two of my drawings as part of the CD booklet, Swan and Wolf incorporates more of my visual art: I created ten illustrations that correspond to each of the ten songs on the record, which are available to view on the album’s website, and in a limited edition hardcover book that I produced as a companion to the music.
How would you describe the sound of Swan and Wolf?
As with The Old Illusions, I was looking for a very direct, spare, open-room sound, but this time, with a more polished, professional sheen. There aren’t that many elements in these songs, but I was eager to have each component sit within the mix in an organic, but ordered way. Overall, I wanted the sound to be clean and immediate, with a slight tinge of rawness, and the distinct presence of human imperfection.
Where do you find the inspiration to write?
I grew up in rural environments, so I’ve always been very inspired by the natural world. I live in New York City now and have written most of my music here, so maybe there’s something to the urban landscape that particularly inspires this work—perhaps the pervasive, invisible rhythms of the city? I’m not sure, but it’s definitely given me a lot to write/sing about (much to the dismay of my neighbors, I think!).
You are a poet, a novelist, a visual artist, and a musician. What got you into doing music?
Playing and studying music has always run alongside the other disciplines that I work in. I took piano lessons for 11 years when I was young, and I picked up the guitar when I went to college. I started writing songs around the time I finished college and went to graduate school as a way to explore a different approach to poetry, which I was mainly writing at the time. Ever since then, songwriting has slotted in among my other artistic pursuits in a pretty seamless and satisfying way.
How do you differentiate yourself from your music and your writing?
There is a definite overlap in my music and my writing. But with the songs, I tend to include more vernacular language than I would in a poem—the rhyming is more forceful and structured, and there’s a more deliberate symmetry in a song’s verses and choruses, which are choices I don’t employ so overtly in my poetry. Sometimes I use quotations in the songs in a way I might when writing fiction, but the songs tend to be blurry, abstract meditations on emotion, memories, events or images, so I don’t feel any need to crystalize these spoken scraps into something more narratively realized, the way I do when writing a short story or a novel. In all my work, I aim for clarity, specificity, and vividness, but with songwriting, I like to explore the tension between exactitude and ambiguity.
What was the inspiration behind your first single, “Keep in Mind”?
It takes me a long time to write songs, because they evolve as a slow accrual of ideas, generated in fits and starts, over months and sometimes years. I’m also unable to write lyrics in the absence of the guitar—the lyrics and music tend to evolve in tandem. I practice a lot and record drafts of the songs on my phone, and walk around listening to them to try to figure out what the music is attempting to evoke and express. It can take a while. Given all of this, it’s a little hard to pinpoint what the inspiration is for any one song, except that they usually begin with a central image or phrase, around which the song slowly congeals. In the case of “Keep in Mind,” I think it was the image of the seabirds mentioned in the second verse—the idea that they have an innate sense of where they are headed, how they are meant to live, all in their own mysterious and unknowable ways.
What is next for your career?
I am looking forward to playing these songs live in the upcoming months, after the release. I have also been working on a new novel—a contemporary ghost story set on a small island off the coast of Maine—and I’m in the process of finishing my second collection of poetry.
I frequently collaborate with the composer Sarah Kirkland Snider—our first record, Unremembered, a song cycle for 7 voices, chamber orchestra, and electronics, based on 13 of my poems and illustrations—came out in 2015. We are now working on a Mass for Trinity Wall Street, about endangered animals and the environment, which premieres this spring, and we’ve also begun work on an opera.
Los Angeles-based alternative indie band BADTALKERS is at it again, their new track “No Pity” slaking any thirst for high energy summer beats by seducing its audience with easy-going, feel good vibes. Simultaneously, the lyrics themselves are incredibly serious and topical.
“‘No Pity’ touches on the gun violence and drug epidemic in the United States,” drummer Christian Edusada explains. “We wanted to reflect on our daily experiences living in urban communities, as well as current events involving police brutality, protests, and acts of terrorism within the country.”
We caught up with the guys, and here’s what they had to say:
How did you all meet?
We met through mutual bands and mutual friends, a few years back and decided to partner up to do something different.
At what point did you know that this is what you wanted to make a career out of?
We realized at a young age that music is what we’d love to make a living doing. We understand how far of a reach it can be in this oversaturated market, but we’ll see how far we can go.
Who influences you musically and non musically?
Musically, we have a wide range of influences from NWA to The Smiths. Non musically, Anthony Bourdain.
“No Pity” touches on personal experiences…was it difficult for you to share that in a public sense such as a song?
It wasn’t very difficult to share, as it’s something we’ve become used to. We understand how difficult it can be for certain listeners that have been affected personally, and can heavily relate.
As a young person in America do you feel it’s harder to be taken seriously on stances such as current events and national issues?
It’s always going to be tough, because everyone is different. Some people are open to having a conversation, while others will believe what they want to believe. Whether people take BADTALKERS seriously or not, we’re just utilizing the opportunity and platform we have to voice what we experience daily.
Your music has a political point; Do you believe it’s easier to create a dialogue through art such as your music?
It’s much easier for us, since music and writing is what we we’re best at.
What impact do you want to make for your listeners as an artist?
We want to prove, as minorities, that we can grow and be successful in a market that’s overpowered by artists fabricated with attraction and conventional music. We hope this inspires others to work hard towards their goals, and not let others decide for them, whether they can make it or not.
Los Angeles-based rock collective Swerve – comprised of Gregory Mahdesian, Brandon Duncan, Ryan Berti, and Mark Gardner – has blossomed into an incredibly impressive act since the days that the moniker was attached to Mahdesian’s solo career. While the band admits their chemistry is off the charts at this point, we can hear it in the music they release. In fact, with their latest single “Lose Control”, we pick up on hints of influence amidst a bed of music that sounds like they’re having a really great time.
Luckily enough, we got to chat briefly with the guys about the track itself, as well as some really important topics like supergroups and Batman. Check it out below!
What was your first musical moment (be it a song you remember, a memory with a family member, etc.)? How do you think that impacted the way you make music today?
I actually have two that I can think of. The first song I can remember is from the Traveling Wilburys- that super group with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison. They had this track called “Not Alone Anymore,” and Roy Orbison sang the lead vocal on it, and it just floored me. I think my family had just moved across the country and I was a depressed little 5 year old, and that song, and especially that vocal, really spoke to me.
The other moment was around the same time. I had this walkman that could record the radio, and the oldies station played this song by the Box Tops called “The Letter,” which is just an awesome single. I would just listen to the station until it would play again so I could record it, and it’s the first song that was ever “mine.”
These both definitely impacted how I make music. I guess even at an early age I had a tendency to look back to the past for inspiration, and these songs really solidified my appreciation for classic song structures and catchy as hell choruses.
“Lose Control” is so fun with that twinge of 90s nostalgia that seems to pop out at points. What was creating that song like?
Thanks! Creating this song with the band was really fun. I started writing it on my acoustic guitar, and I must have been listening to a lot of jangle rock at the time because the song is filled with those little moments. When I brought it to the guys it turned into this fun, upbeat electric rock song. We added some acoustic to the recording to kind of pay homage to how it began. I remember that it came together very quickly- we finished off writing it in one session and anytime we would go back to try and tweak it, it was just kind of superfluous. There are definitely 90s touches in it. We really like to reference our influences without sounding too much like them, so you can notice them if you pay attention, but might not if you’re just casually listening.
If you could collaborate with anyone besides your amazing bandmates, who would it be and why?
So many people! Paul McCartney, just because he is the all time legend and I think I would kill to have him sing or play on a song. He’s still got it too! A few years ago he released this album called New that was awesome. I think I’d really like to get the producer Stephen Street to work with us, if he would do it and we could afford him. He produced the Smiths and all the best Blur albums, and I think he would be able to make our band really push ourselves and do something great. Noel Gallagher is my favorite, so to write with him would be amazing. And to have Michael Stipe sing something for me would make my year.
This month, you headlined the What Angie Says showcase at The Mint. What was that performance like? How has your performance style developed over time?
That performance was a lot of fun. We actually booked that right at the last minute- we had all been traveling so the band hadn’t been together for a little while, and the only time we found to rehearse was right before the show. It turned out to be one of our most energetic sets. In general, we’ve just gotten a lot more comfortable over time. We play around with harmonies more, and we don’t get nervous, so we can engage with each other and with the audience rather than just looking at our instruments and trying to play the songs correctly. The more we play the better we get as performers, but I don’t ever see us busting out dance moves or anything like that!
What has been your favorite song to write thus far? What makes it so special?
We haven’t put it out yet, but there’s a song called “Kennedy.” We usually close our set with it because it’s a live favorite for our audience. I’m really happy with the lyrics of it- the main line started out as a placeholder lyric and as the song developed I realized that it was actually the linchpin of the whole song. It’s funny how things like that happen. As far as the music goes, it went through so many iterations that we considered giving up on it, but we finally landed on the right arrangement and it felt so natural that I’m glad we kept at it.
If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?
Batman, because he gets all the best toys and chose to be a hero rather than being born with a superpower. Although his backstory is very sad, at least he has Alfred.
What’s up next?
Besides world domination? We’re going to keep putting out singles leading up to our EP. We have some music videos in the works, and shows coming up in LA- the next one is March 26th at the HiHat in Highland Park. We want to start playing outside of the city soon, and to get back into the studio to record all the new material we’ve been working on.
Amsterdam based singer-songwriter VanWyck (irl Christine Oele) dropped her album, An Average Woman, in January of 2018. The LP features not only the insane talent of VanWyck, but the accompanying vocals of Marjolein van der Klauw and bass player/arranger Reyer Zwart. Having a widespread musical background ranging from classical piano to jazz-dance to rap and hip hop, VanWyck released An Average Woman as an answer to her own longings to share an authentic and creative thoughts on women today through a musical canvas. Her songs bring on chills as the listener delves into the all-encompassing soundscape of the album.
We were lucky enough to catch up with VanWyck to discuss her latest album, thoughts, and message.
The title of your album, An Average Woman, instantly caught my attention. How’d you come up with the name?
I wrote the song – that is the title track – a while back. It was during my one song a week project, where I tried to write and record one song every week for a year. I instantly knew it was a strong song, but also a difficult one to record properly, so I kept it for myself until the recording of the album. In a way it is a response to the way our media celebrates success in terms of uniqueness and individualism. I was so tired from the bombardment of perfect superwoman everyday, all the time. Sometimes it feels like only perfect women are allowed to be visible and to have a voice. There is so much pressure on women to be a certain kind of way and it so hard to rid yourself of that pressure, to find your own voice and your own values. It’s almost impossible. But in a way that was my assignment for this album.
What do you want to be the biggest takeaway from your music for your female listeners?
Maybe I hope for two things – one is that they feel supported in allowing themselves to be who they are – to free themselves from the pressures of having to be every woman, or to live up to certain ideals. That they find the strength to seek out their own ideals.
Next to that I hope they enjoy the magic and enchantment that I felt when I wrote these songs. After a lot of struggle and hard work I’ve come to the conclusion that there is this pool of infinite joy and creativity inside all of us – that we can always tap into that, but that we are often sidetracked by all the humdrum of modern life and obligations. I really think that inside each of us there is this river of knowledge and strength – we just need to find ways to tap into it.
Listening to tracks like “Red River Girl” gives me chills – how do you pack so much emotion into a few minutes of song?
Well “Red River Girl” was a very special writing process for me too. It really felt like someone else was writing the song. That I just had to let it wander through me. I think the subconscious really plays a big role in songwriting and the better you become at surrendering yourself to it – the stronger the songs will be that you find there. I think for this song I surrendered myself completely and maybe that is what you feel as well.
What’s your favorite view or landscape?
Anything wild and free will do. But I live in The Netherlands and we have hardly any wild and free left. It’s mostly cities and cultured grounds here – so sometimes I really have to free myself from that. Luckily we do have an amazing sea here with beautiful beaches and dunes and I try to travel to mountainous areas whenever I can.
The music video for “An Average Woman” is so beautiful! Where did the inspiration for it come from?
Thank you! I was very lucky to have met the artist and photographer Koen Hauser who directed the video. He was so moved by a song on my first EP that we got in touch. I was also very moved by his work and I guess there was this instinctive feeling between us that our work is connected in some ways. Like it deals with the same sort of themes. He also had strong opinions about how social media makes so many people feel like they are not good enough. So we decided to make a video with as many normal everyday woman we could find and to just let them be.
Where’s the best place to create music?
I can do it almost anywhere! As long as I have a guitar – but getting away from other people and noises is always good. I sometimes need some sort of silence and calm to be able to better hear all the voices in my head. But then again sometimes it’s the excitement of new experiences and new people that bring on new ideas.
If you could describe your music in a single word to someone who’s never listened to you, what would that word be?
Toronto-bred pop/rock duo Darcys – comprised of Jason Couse & Wes Marskell – has certainly been making its mark on the world with its own unique style of energetic tracks. While the guys were busy prepping to release the new music video for their track “Virtual Reality” – which will take you back in time with fun effects that trigger your nostalgic heartstrings – we got a few minutes to chat with them about their process. (Hint: Coffee is key, but you’ll be witness to their infectious energy that may or may not actually require a shot of caffeine.)
What is the first song you remember hearing? What song prompted your love for music?
Steely Dan’s “Aja“, Prince’s “1999“, Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous“, there’s just so many. Music feels good to listen to and even better to play. That kinda love doesn’t need much prompting.
You’ve created a variety of music from road trip anthems to happy holiday tunes. What is your favorite song that you’ve recorded so far? Why?
Black Diamonds. Every time I hear that song I congratulate myself for bringing it into this world. I don’t know what it is, but I really really love it.
What does a typical day look like for The Darcys?
Smoothie, coffee, Abelton, sandwich, coffee, Abelton. It’s pretty simple. Every day we’re in the studio trying to get inspired and create something that’s going to last. Something better the the record before, something we think will challenge our audience and something that will bring our band to a new place.
What is the creative process like for you when creating a new song/album?
It’s different every time. It’s about getting inspired and wanting to do something you love and care about. Our current workflow is much quicker than it’s been in the past and the new sounds reflects that. Still not sure where it’s going, but I’m digging it so far.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I do 40 push-ups, drink a double vodka soda and kiss Jason on the mouth.
What do you hope listeners take away from your music? Any certain feeling?
I try not to think too much about how the listener is going to interpret what we do because that makes creating more difficult. Centerfold, to me, was the ultimate escapism record. If you can listen to some of the songs and forget about some your bad for just a few minutes, I’m happy.
How would you describe your music using a GIF or video?
What are you currently working on? What do you think fans will be excited about in the future?
We’ve been deep in production and song-writing for a number of different artists. Lots of cuts are coming out this year and I think our core fans will be able to hear a few Darcys easter eggs.