turkuaz talks happiness, influences, and new music

turkuaz talks happiness, influences, and new music

Brooklyn-based power-punk collective Turkuaz – comprised of Dave Brandwein, Taylor Shell, Craig Brodhead, Michelangelo Carubba, Greg Sanderson, Joshua Schwartz, Chris Brouwers, Sammi Garett, and Shira Elias – doesn’t have much time on their hands nowadays, especially with the upcoming release of their 9-track stunner Life In The City. From the first energetic chords of the title track in first position, through the funky underbelly of “The One And Lonely”, all the way through the end of groovy mid tempo dance track “Fight The Fire” in slot 9, Turkuaz dazzles with their impressive musicianship and flare for inventive and fun lyrical content. Don’t just trust us, get your listen to the new album when it drops on Friday! But until then, check out our exclusive interview with the act below.

Based on your new album that talks about the highs and lows of life, what did each of you do to achieve happiness in your own life?

Wow! What a first question! I don’t know if I can definitely say that any or all of us have “achieved” happiness, though we do we quite enjoy a life of making and playing music for people. I think the best you can do is try to do what makes you happy, and put a lot of care and love into it. If you do that, I believe it tends to come back to you in more ways than one. But as discussed on the album, finding happiness in a fast-paced life, surrounded by an often scary world with seemingly diminishing hope sometimes can be very difficult.

That struggle is a lot of what the album is about, but we’ve set it to an energetic and upbeat musical soundtrack to keep it fun and in line with Turkuaz music, which we always want to be uplifting in nature. The lyrics vs. music juxtaposition on the album could perhaps describe an approach to staying happy in life. Even when things seem to be going wrong, an underlying love and appreciation for life can lessen the blow and keep you moving forward. When bad things happen, which they will, a negative attitude will tend to worsen them, but if the underlying soundtrack in your life is that of love and positivity it will make the bad times not so bad, and the good times even better. This more easily said than done of course, but I think can be a helpful guide.

How did the band as a whole, come up with the unique rock/R&B sound?

With 9 band members all with their own musical backgrounds and influences, we’re naturally drawing from an eclectic pool. I think many of us first grew up in bands playing rock music of the 60’s and 70’s, and as we got older we melded that with a style leaning more into funk and R&B. But with an awareness of everything from punk to jazz, we try to remain open minded as far as not limiting where we can go with our writing and playing. Rather than being something we came up with, it’s really something that’s evolved over a long period of time.

While creating new music, who are some of your biggest influences (whether it be actors, musicians, or just important people in your life)?

In the exact moment of creating or writing it, it’s hard to single out an influence that inspires you specifically. Similar to the last question, I do feel like it’s an evolution over time and it’s the culmination of creativity pulling from a wide swath of influences. In addition to some of our collective favorites (Sly and the Family Stone, Talking Heads, Zapp and Roger, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Prince, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, James Brown – I could go on forever) we also influence one another through our musical process, and we derive a lot of inspiration from family, friends and musical peers in our lives, as you alluded to in the question.

When writing new music, what sort of songwriting process do you go through? Is it an easy process, or is it difficult to get the whole band on track?

It generally will start with a demo from either myself or a couple other band members. The demo will usually just involve a groove with some changes of some sort. From that point I’ll usually write over it, and more recently that process has opened up to some more collaboration with other members too. For our recent song “If I Ever Fall Asleep,” I made an instrumental demo and Josh wrote most of the song over it. For “Lady Lovely,” Craig sampled a rehearsal recording we had of some of us (Josh, Taylor, Michelangelo) jamming, and then made a groove and song form out of it, which I then wrote lyrics over, and completed with Sammi and Shira. So it really can come together in any number of ways.

After a demo has vocals put on it, we’ll all start to just play the song as a group, which involves a lot of people making each instrument or vocal part their own and putting their own spin on it. That’s where the most collaboration comes in, in the arrangement process. There are occasional disagreements or divergences of opinions, but all in all for a large group like this of strong personalities, we tend to have a really good time doing it and it’s an enjoyable process from beginning to end.

What are you goals, or what do you want to see happen by the end of this year?

I think it can sometimes be counterproductive to get too fixated on one really specific goal, because it can side track you from looking at the big picture and being ready for other opportunities that may present themselves. Some things come up in a way that differs from the narrative you pictured unfolding, and it’s important to be able to adapt and react throughout that process. All that said, of course we set goals week to week, month to month, etc. — but on an annual or big picture basis, I think the goal is to keep making music that we love and tour the world playing it. Speaking of which, more international touring would be really cool. Let’s go with that!

How does it feel knowing that you have a growing fan base and people who relate to your music all around the world?

It feels really amazing, and it makes any and all discouraging moments and frustration we face not only tolerable, but well worth it, knowing that what we do brings people joy and increases the quality of their life in some way. If making music is a purely selfish act for someone, I don’t believe they’ll have staying power as a musician, because that path leads to a bad place, and the second something throws you off, you’ll be done and no sacrifice will be worth it. Doing it for the sake of spreading joy to others makes it a more honorable endeavor and creates a longer lasting motivation in my experience. It’s the greatest honor we have in what we do.

In the future, what is your dream venue to perform at?

We’ve had the privilege of crossing a few of these off the list already (Red Rocks, The Fillmore, to name just a couple). We’ve even gotten to play at MSG, though it was during a Knicks game… As New Yorkers we certainly hope to do a Turkuaz show there one day. That would be a very big deal. We’d also really love to play at The Gorge Amphitheater!

Who in your musical career helped you to get the place you are at now?

That’s a difficult answer to pin down. Of course we owe so much to the managers, booking agents and promoters who believed in us before (and after) we were better known, and have helped to get us to where we are. We also have an important group of people on the road with us who do a lot off the stage. There are too many people to mention without leaving someone out and we owe so much of what we have to people behind the scenes. But I think ultimately the fans who support us are the ones who decide our fate at the end of the day, and they are the ones who sustain what we do. Not to mention that this band has 9 really dedicated musicians who have sacrificed endless amounts of time and energy into this project, long before anyone knew who we were. There is a still a lot of work to be done, so I don’t feel that we’ve “arrived” so to speak in any way. But it’s important to find people that you like working with throughout the process, because the process at the end of the day is the experience that you live. Results can be gratifying, but ultimately you’re gonna always want more, and day to day, you want to do what you love with people that you love. That dynamic is what I believe will create a sustainable and enjoyable career in music that’s poised for growth.

How did you all meet each other?

Most of us were friends up at Berklee in Boston during college. We moved down to New York after school and over the next several years, we played shows in clubs around the Northeast and our lineup solidified into the 9 people we are today. We’re all really good friends and act a lot more like a family, which I think is a key ingredient in our ability to spend nearly all of our time making music together.

What do you do in your free time that helps contribute to the songwriting process?

I’m sad to say I don’t personally have a ton of free time these days. If I’m not on the road, I’m in the studio working on Turkuaz, or producing other bands. That can actually become a real difficulty for writing songs, because you have to let some inspiration come in in order to have something to put out. For the first time in the last few years I’ve had to specifically dedicate days for writing material, but of course inspiration doesn’t always like to come on schedule. Luckily, I think my mind is always looking for patterns, catch phrases or fun ideas, and often I’ll wake up in the morning with a musical idea buzzing around. So much of it comes from that intangible place, and I look back after an album is done and I can’t specifically remember where any of it came from. I really like that mystery being part of it, and continually feeling like there’s some creative energy pouring through that isn’t coming from me, but I’m more of a vehicle for it to deliver itself. Some days or even years I feel more of that happening than others, but I think that’s when the best work comes through.

Keep up with Turkuaz here.

andrew w.k. talks empathy, excitement to bring “you are not alone” tour to kansas city

andrew w.k. talks empathy, excitement to bring “you are not alone” tour to kansas city

It’s not very often that you end an interview feeling elated, energy coursing through your veins like you are an unstoppable force. It can be difficult to find that depth, honestly, more often than not. That wasn’t the case on a warm summer’s day in August, when I stepped off the deck and into the air conditioning after getting off the phone with Andrew W.K. After all, this is a man who has been working tirelessly for decades to bring his brand of party to the world – a man whose music has brought fans of all ages and demographics to his shows, just to let loose and let go of their every day lives for a couple of hours.

But perhaps what’s so unique about Andrew is his level of empathy. It’s something that is palpable in his music, as he urges people to feel good constantly, both with the energy and tempo of the instrumentals, the very specific party-inducing lyrics, and his own brand of infectious stage presence. His show at recordBar in Kansas City, MO last year brought a handful of excitable fans up on stage to dance, sing, and stage dive into a room packed tight with sweat and happiness.

There is something about Andrew W.K.’s level of empathy, however, that makes the man stick out like a single glitter crayon mixed in with normal colors. Speaking to us about his first record purchase, he admits that USA for Africa’s “We Are The World” – released in 1985 – was the first song he ever expressed an interest in owning as a child. Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie with arrangements by John Barnes and conducted by Quincy Jones, the track features over 40 well-known singers (i.e. Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Kenny Loggins, Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross, etc.) and an additional several phenomenal instrumentalists.

Andrew’s reasoning for being so attracted to this song in particular? “So many great musicians had gathered into one space to work on something that benefitted other people. That type of thing hadn’t been done before, and hasn’t really been done at that capacity since. It was eye opening, and the song was really good.”

Even without “We Are The World” as an all-inclusive, empathic track, Andrew W.K. tells us that his sense of empathy is something he believes he has always had.

I think we’re all born with some level of empathy. But it can take a lot to keep it close to your heart. A lot of bad things can happen, and it can really close you off to the world. But music is such a big thing and I want to use what I create to help people keep that part of themselves open and partying.

Part of the party includes Andrew’s all white performance attire, which he has become known for over the years. When asked about the specific detergent he uses to keep his completely white stage ensemble white during tour, he admits:

I don’t really pay attention to that. I just wash them, but when they start collecting stains and different markings I just kind of let it happen. It’s like a scrapbook of tour. There are sweat stains, markings, sometimes holes. Sometimes my outfits start to smell really bad too, and I feel bad for the people who have to be around me a lot but you get used to it. I always have a backup white t-shirt and pants just in case the ones I’m wearing see their last day.

At the time of our interview, in fact, he had been going strong in the same pair of Levi’s and same shirt on tour for over a year. “I normally go through my outfits faster. I don’t know why, but this specific pair of Levi’s is stitched together really well in sensitive areas, so I haven’t split my pants or gotten a rip or a hole anywhere where it matters yet.”

We respect his approach to fashion while on the road, as we’re all about keeping things around that remind us of adventures we’ve been on. Why be any different with your clothing, especially when your white on white is so well known after 22 years of performing your optimistic messages around the world?

When we asked him about how he keeps his mind focused on the positive when the world around us is filled with so many mixed messages, especially now, he admits that there isn’t just one thing he does.

I don’t really have a pre-show ritual or anything to get my head in the game. I tried to do that for a while but each show and each day on tour is so different. Sometimes I get pumped up by doing warmups with the band, but sometimes we don’t even see each other that much before a performance. Sometimes I listen to music. Sometimes I meditate. I can’t rely on any one thing because it’s always changing. So I guess the music itself and being on stage is really the way I get excited about the show.

This news isn’t exactly surprising, since Andrew’s music has that therapeutic facet to it that we touched on earlier. 2018’s You’re Not Alone boasts 17 tracks, including gems like “The Power of Partying”, “Music Is Worth Living For”, “The Feeling of Being Alive” (spoken word), “Keep on Going”, “In Your Darkest Moments” (spoken word), and “You’re Not Alone”, among others. The lyrical content blends seamlessly with his overall message, and is the way he reaches out to heal the world. The vulnerability in the lyrics – and in his self-help and spoken word work – is some of the most cathartic we’ve witnessed, something of clear note especially during Suicide Prevention Month.

Lucky for us, Andrew W.K. is out on the road all month. As someone who spent the majority of his formative years in the midwest – Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier was born in Stanford, but raised in Michigan, where he developed his songwriting and performing talents with several bands before heading to New York to pursue his career under the Andrew W.K. moniker – Andrew admits that he looks forward to coming back when his schedule allows, whether it’s on tour or not. In fact, over the years, Kansas City has begun to hold a soft spot in his heart specifically.

Getting off the bus at the venue last year, the food we’ve had in Kansas City in the past, the barbecue, memories of trees that I’ve seen and streets that I’ve been on. Kansas City does that for me. There are so many good memories there, and it’s the friendly people and the great shows we’ve had that keep us coming back!

Andrew and the rest of his band of talent will get their next shot at creating those memories when they bring their “You’re Not Alone” tour to Kansas City next Wednesday, September 19th, at recordBar. The show starts at 8pm, with a special performance by Drop a Grand before Andrew W.K. takes the stage. Tickets start at $18 and are available here. We can’t guarantee he won’t sell out, so make sure to nab them quickly!

Keep up with Andrew W.K. and his shenanigans – and message of peace, really, – here!

achy talks friendly animals, gets serious about superheroes

achy talks friendly animals, gets serious about superheroes

Johnson City, Tennessee-based self-proclaimed “giggle-pop” trio Achy – comprised of Achy (Samuel B.) (songwriter, composer) and his cohorts Mahto Bowder (bass), and Sam Love (drums) – just unleashed their seven track stunner Friendly Animals unto the world. Laced with a psychedelic, garage rock feel, the trio somehow pulls off a brit-pop soundscape above it all. Each track is refreshing, and honestly something we would enjoy at an outdoor barbecue. (You know… IF the heat ever dies down anywhere close by!)

Feel free to check out Friendly Animals below, and then check out our quick interview with the trio, where we get deep into their production process and – of course – superheroes.

What was your first musical memory, or the first album or song you heard? Do you think that has any bearing on who you are as an artist now?

Samuel: My absolute first musical memory is sitting in the living room of my folks old apartment, and my dad had this little record player set up and was playing Money by Pink Floyd on it. And that memory has always stuck with me super strong. My dad and my mom showing me their music growing up definitely impacted the way I make music though.

Sam Love: My first musical memory that really really made me love music was Pink Floyd. Particularly the Syd Barrett era, which was a more spastic and creative-sounding time for Pink Floyd in my opinion. However Lonesome Crowded West by Modest Mouse was the most influential album on my drum playing.

Mahto: There was always stuff like the Grateful Dead, Augustus Pablo, Bad Brains, Neil Young playing at the house. My folks had a fairly wide taste. My first cd was Help by the Beatles. I feel like the set me up pretty well. I do remember going to see a stage production of beauty and the beast and suddenly being much more interested in the piano at the the house. All that said I’m sure it must be why I act in the way I do now.

What is this self-proclaimed “giggle-pop” genre you’ve come up with on Facebook? Where did that term come from? Don’t necessarily disagree — just SUPER curious.

Samuel: It’s to describe that lil giggle you let out when a pop hook sounds real good. And we found it just online I can’t remember where or who but some beautiful stranger described us with the perfect genre! We also crack a lot of jokes at the live gigs.

Sam Love: Our term “giggle pop” comes from how much fun we having playing and learning music together; I think Samuel and Mahto have great senses of humor and we always make each other laugh in between songs! Although we take the music we make seriously I think it’s important to also have fun with it and they are great fellas to have around for that!

Mahto: I think someone else called us that in a Facebook event. It’s pretty accurate though. We get pretty giggly pretty often.

Friendly Animals is so refreshing and upbeat. We hear it all happened in 2 days. (AMAZING!) Any fun anecdotes?

Samuel: Thank you! It was the most exhausting two days I’ve ever had, we as a group literally rehearsed the songs one day before recording them and a lot of the parts were actually written as we recorded. By the end of recording I couldn’t even redo guitar takes cause my fingers hurt so bad!

Sam Love: The recording process for our EP Friendly Animals was a blast! It’s was a lot of work, but working with Henry of Taped Records in Knoxville was absolutely amazing. He has done a great job setting up an environment where work and productivity explode like a volcano, but in a way that doesn’t stifle the creative process. I feel like it was refreshing for all of us.

Mahto: It was very hot. And very hard on the hands. I thought the improv jam was the most fun though. After spending all day trying to get the songs right, after learning them the day before, it was really nice to be able to turn the brain off and slip into the rhythm off this new thing.

Do any of you have a favorite track from the album, or perhaps a song you prefer to perform live? Why? What makes it something to look forward to for you?

Samuel: Mine would have to be “Breakfast w/ You”, seeing people smile and get excited that we’re playing it just makes me so happy. That or “Telephone P’lease”!

Sam Love: My personal favorite song from Friendly Animals is “Summer Sweater” because I really like how the grooves kind of take on a funkier sound. I always look forward to playing it live!

Mahto: I rather like playing “Telephone P’lease”. It makes me feel like a rockstar.

How do you want fans to feel after listening to the album in its entirety?

Samuel: That they feel like they know us! By the end of the record I’d love it if people felt a little closer to what we’re doing and like they could come up after a show and talk like old friends.

Sam Love: Ideally, after listening to Friendly Animals for the first time, I would like the listeners to feel like they just heard something different in an interesting “fresh” way.

Mahto: I want listeners to feel like Samuel for a minute.

On a broader spectrum, what drives your passion to create music?

Samuel: The people and connections I make everyday doing it, the strongest and funnest connections you can make are when you become besties with another band or artist, that’s true love right there.

Sam Love: I always find myself in and around musical environments, and being able to play music with good friends and musicians like Samuel Bowman and Mahto Browder really helps drive my passion to create music. I also love how music can bring so many different people together, and even serve as a sort-of medicine.

Mahto: It just something I have to do. I think there is something primal that makes people want music.

If you could be any superhero – “existing” or made up – who would you be and why?

Samuel: Definitely Hellboy, coolest hero ever! Also the best graphic novel hands down.

Sam Love: If I could be any superhero, pre-existing or otherwise, I firmly believe I would be Father Captain Doctor Love. The man who, of course, had humble roots in a church eventually becoming a Priest. After seeing the ugly underbelly of religion and understanding religion’s sinister and corrupt nature in his town he quit the church to join the army. He quickly became a Captain, but after seeing the unjust conflicts and unspeakable horrors of war he left to further his academic career and reflect on his experiences. He decided to become a heart surgeon, and graduated at the top of his class successfully becoming a doctor. It was then he learned he could just also read minds and become temporarily invisible for 10-15 minute intervals on Thursdays.

Mahto: Batman. He just does what he wants. No powers or anything.


Keep up with Achy here.

carry illinois talks new ep work in progress and wonder woman ahead of kansas city appearance

carry illinois talks new ep work in progress and wonder woman ahead of kansas city appearance

On July 12th, Austin-based indie pop act Carry Illinois – comprised of Lizzy Lehman (Lead Singer/ Rhythm Guitar), Andrew Pressman (Bass), Rudy Villarreal (Drums), Darwin Smith (Guitar), and Benjamin Rowe Violet (Keys) – will make a much anticipated appearance The Rino in Kansas City, MO. But before we head out to celebrate the summertime with this impressive quintet, we wanted to ask brainchild and front woman Lizzy Lehman some questions. Below, she delves into her inspiration and the development of the band.

What was your first musical memory? Do you think that memory has any bearing on how you create music now?
My first musical memories are of watching The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” and Maurice Sendak’s cartoon musical “Really Rosie” (with music sung by Carole King).  Hearing the music from both artists absolutely inspired my love of singing and a deep desire to create truthful, emotional, and relatable music that reflects the journey of navigating the challenges and triumphs of life.
What unique flare do you think performing and creating in Austin, TX has given to your music?

Austin is a very accepting and supportive city where it is ok, and even encouraged, to be different and loud and proud about being yourself. Performing and creating here has made it possible for my music to fully represent my awkward, wonderful, painful, scary, and hopeful personal experience without fear of being judged.

Music lovers in Austin want to see artists expressing themselves in the most authentic way possible. My music has been embraced by people from all walks of life, even by those I would never expect to connect to it, and that is truly rewarding and validating.

What’s the story of how the musical project started and expanded? Was it a meet cute?
After the break up of a previous band, I knew I did not want to go back to playing solo. I had grown to love the power that comes with having a full band behind me. I set to work recruiting some of my favorite musicians- some old friends, and some new friends of friends. Darwin and Rudy have been with me from the beginning, through all the experiments, and the ups and downs. I am so grateful for their love and support. Following the painful loss of our bass player and dear friend John, we brought on Andrew, who has been a good friend and part of my chosen family for a long time. We lost our former keys player to the domestic life, but it made us think more about the sounds we want to hear, and we were very lucky to find Benjamin. He has added depth and sparkle to our sound in all the right places, with his array of synths and keys. We’ve made some changes to our sound over the years, with me “going electric” and accepting my love of pop and rock music. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive and creative group of guys. It wasn’t exactly a meet cute but the love is strong!
Your new EP Work in Progress is so vulnerable and honestly provides such a kaleidoscope soundscape. What was it like, making that EP? 
Making the new EP was a highly creative, visceral, and fully collaborative experience. It was amazing to have several days to build up the instrumentation, allow my band members to flex their creative muscles by experimenting with different sounds, and then record my vocals with a fully realized and rich musical context already in place. I was able to engage my emotions in a much deeper and connected manner while recording this EP because I was singing my most revealing and brutally honest lyrics to date.
How do you feel your music has progressed since you started? 
My music has become much more personal, honest, and revealing. It has also gone from having a very rootsy/folk feel to fully embracing my unabashed love for pop music. While the subject matter of the songs has become more earnest, the music itself has gained a more driving, catchy, and relatable feel. I have gone from making up songs about things I have never experienced, to confronting my most painful insecurities and challenging life experiences. I have become a truth-teller who is no longer afraid to tell my story.
What is your favorite part about live performance?
I love getting to belt my heart out, and in doing so I am able to share my true voice with the audience. Singing is my first instrument and my greatest musical passion. When I sing live I feel alive, and it is extremely fulfilling to see people engage in both the intimate and dramatic moments throughout our set.
What do you hope people take away from your music, and from seeing you live?
I want people to know that we are all connected by a need for love, support, and understanding. I want them to know that it is ok to feel their feelings and process their own pain. I hope that they feel comfortable enough to come up to me and let me know that they share a common experience, and that my music helps them to not feel alone in the struggle for self-acceptance.
If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?
I would be Wonder Woman because she is strong, powerful, confident, and can face any challenge that comes her way! I would love to be able to stand tall even when I am having a difficult time maintaining stamina to get through my toughest moments.
Anything else?
I’m looking forward to meeting you in Kansas City! Please come say hello!
Keep up with Carry Illinois here.
mike llerena & the nerve release old haunts & new horizons, talk musical influence and constant writing

mike llerena & the nerve release old haunts & new horizons, talk musical influence and constant writing

Punk folk outfit Mike Llerena & The Nerve recently released an album titled Old Haunts & New Horizons, and we haven’t been this thrilled in a hot second. First of all, the unique blend of genres is incredibly striking. Second of all, the journey they take you on over the length of ten tracks is indescribable, and absolutely perfect for a summertime release. Take a listen to it below, then read on for our short, fun interview with Mr. Llerena himself!

What was your first musical memory, or the first album or song you heard? Do you think that has any bearing on who you are as an artist now?

I think my first musical memory would be hearing The Beatles in my house as a little kid. My first concert was actually seeing Paul McCartney solo when I was about 10 (setting the bar high!), but before then I had been hearing those songs for as long as I can remember. Like a lot of musicians, The Beatles have remained a fixture in my music library and their influence permeates my approach to songwriting and arrangement, even if I don’t always realize it.

I know you’re from Gainesville… do you think being from Florida has helped shape your sound, or do you think you’d be playing the same type of music had you originated elsewhere?

While I certainly have a lot of influences that aren’t specific to Florida, growing up here certainly played a role in me discovering and embracing certain bands. If I hadn’t moved to Gainesville and played music for years here, I would probably still like Against Me!, Hot Water Music and Tom Petty, but living here definitely makes you feel more of a kinship with those bands and artists.

Your upbeat single “Crossfire” was a great intro to the new album. What inspired it, specifically?

“Crossfire” had actually started off as a slower, acoustic song (with harmonica parts on it nonetheless) before I adapted it to the faster, louder full band version that we play now. The lyrics of the song deal with the anxiety of feeling caught between two opposing sides in an argument, going through various stages of identifying with one side’s argument over another and trying to find your own place in that conversation. Whether you’re dealing with this on a more personal level or observing it in the current state of political discourse in the U.S., the lyrics of the song can apply to different situations.

What was the production process like on Old Haunts & New Horizons? Any fun anecdotes?

We spent about a year recording the album. During that time, we formed the band, played shows in and out of Gainesville, kept recording in the studio, and lived our day to day lives outside of the band. Our engineer Jared Pennock (Z-Chord Studios) co-produced the album with me. He also co-produced and engineered my last two solo EPs as well. Working with him a third time was great because we have a sort of established shorthand with each other after recording together for so long. A lot of cool things can come out of working with someone you’re comfortable with in the studio: the spoken word intro on “Last Words”, the tape machine intro on “The Catharsis”, ideas like that are facilitated in that type of environment and it makes for great moments on the record.

How do you want fans to feel after listening to the album in its entirety?

Above all else, I just hope people like the album. Being on the other side of the process, I feel like each listener can and probably will feel different things after listening to it. The album may mean one thing to me, but it may mean something else entirely to a listener. I wrote the album and sequenced it in a way so that the songs tell somewhat of a story from start to finish. It’s a loose narrative, but at its core, I think it’s about a young adult reflecting on where they’ve been been, where they are now, where they’re going, and how all three of those things are connected. The bittersweet nature of nostalgia is a prevalent theme on the album as well.

On a broader spectrum, what drives your passion to create music?

I’m always writing songs. In some ways, writing songs on a regular basis has helped me document the last few years of my life. A lot of musicians say this, but songs and albums are like snapshots in a way, windows into significant moments in your life that you can reflect on long after they’ve passed. For me, writing songs is like a necessity that needs to be fulfilled, like having enough oxygen. Whether I become successful playing music or not, I’ll always write songs in some capacity. It’s something that I love doing.

If you could be any superhero – “existing” or made up – who would you be and why?

While Batman is my favorite superhero, I would have to pick Spider-Man just so that I could experience swinging from building to building several stories above the ground. Exercise is important and web-swinging sounds a lot more fun than running on a treadmill.


Keep up with Mike Llerena & The Nerve here.

broken baby talks starting a band, premieres “pass the acetone”

broken baby talks starting a band, premieres “pass the acetone”

Relatively new duo Broken Baby – comprised of Amber Bollinger and Alex Dezen – is hitting the Los Angeles music scene hard with their unique and energy-inducing brand of post punk-rock. They’ve already brought social commentary to the forefront in first single “Year of The Fat Man”, in an endearing way that gets you moving, even if you aren’t necessarily a dancer. But their new single “Pass The Acetone” is set for release this week, and we’ve got your exclusive premiere of the upbeat, sassed-up track right now.

Of course, we had to throw a few questions at them as well. So while you enjoy the new tune, check out our quick interview below!

What was your first musical memory, or the first album or song you heard? Do you think that has any bearing on who you are as an artist now?

Alex: I don’t know if I can remember that. I think it was probably hearing Saturday Night Fever coming through the walls of my parents room. The next thing I remember is a vinyl copy of Let It Be by The Replacements that I broke. It was my sister’s. She was pissed.

What is the conception story of Broken Baby? Was it a meet-cute? Give us all the details!

Amber: We were on tour for Alex Dezen’s second solo record and we were bored in a van driving across the country. Alex suggested we started a band together. I thought it was a joke, but when we got back to Los Angeles we followed through. Yep. The EP was done two weeks later.

A recent post on Facebook gave us a glimpse into the raw beauty of being empowered, woman or man. What spurred on this beautiful and open post about double standards?

Amber: Alex and I have so many talks about music and life, and we agree that this is a very interesting time.

Alex: Someone had asked us about it, so we answered.

We have until September to wait for your next official release. While we wait, how do you think your sound has evolved since the beginning of Broken Baby? Has your process changed at all?

Amber: Actually, you only have to wait about a week until our next song is released. PASS THE ACETONE will be out June 29th!

I think our sound is constantly evolving and moving forward. In ways that I don’t care to analyze yet. It’s been spontaneous so far, and that’s been a good thing.

Do you believe in aliens? Why or why not?

Alex: No.

Amber: Hell YEAH, I do! You’d be a dummy to think we’re the only ones to exist in this ever expanding universe. Come on!

Keep up with Broken Baby and their new music (HELLO “Pass the Acetone”!) here!