Today, we sit down with Morgan Geer to chat about his musical project Drunken Prayer, the buildup to his album release in April, and UFOs. We actually got neck deep in UFO stories, and there’s a lot of laughter and awe in this interview that makes it the perfect end to season 1 of the podcast! Check it out below!
Today, we have the pleasure of sitting down with Cole Guerra. The brainchild of musical project I Am Casting, his latest release “Carnival Barkers” gained widespread praise. We get to chat a bit about the album and its inspiration, as well as some offbeat topics like what aliens might think of America today. Keep listening for more.
Richard X. Heyman is no newbie to the music scene. His first single “Vacation” was released in 1980 and, since then, his journey has found him producing genre-bending ear worms that simply work. His years of service to the industry at large, his musical talents, and his ability to captivate a person with witty banter have all made it so he is an undeniable leader. We touched on his new album Pop Circles, and are happy to have found time to sit down with him and discuss some of the finer things in life. Like working with your significant other. And cats.
There is a trend among musicians to invite guest musicians to record with them on their albums, why is it appealing to you to invite Julia and Chris to help you with some tracks on Pop Circles?
I really wanted to have real strings on the songs that had orchestration. Julia Kent is a neighbor of ours and she is a sensational cellist. She agreed to come over to our home studio (i.e., our bedroom) and lay down the cello parts. We overdubbed her several times to create a cello section. Chris Jenkins is one of the associate deans at Oberlin College, Nancy’s alma mater. We worked with him in the past and he happened to be in New York City, so he stopped by with his viola. In the end, the two of them were overdubbed as much as 17 times. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in your bedroom these days.
You are very much a one man band artist, this of course shows your immense versatility as an artist. What are the advantages and disadvantages of approach when making music/an album?
The advantage is obviously the autonomy. You can work more in the mode of a painter or a novelist. I like having that freedom to rely on my instincts and to keep moving forward through the process. On the downside, I know other musicians will have different insights and ideas that might take the music in a direction I would not have thought of. I do have Nancy there. She is a fine musician and has great ears. So between the two of us, there is a collaborative work ethic.
Tell us more about your collection of vintage instruments, which is your favourite and why you like to use them when recording?
I have two vintage drum sets – a Ludwig and a Rogers, both from the early 60’s. Fortunately, the studio where I recorded the drums (Eastside Sound) had a vintage Rogers kit, so I used that for “Pop Circles.” I have a late 70’s Fender Telecaster and a 1967 Rickenbacker 360 12-string. There are two more Ricks – a ’65 375 and ’66 335, a ’62 Hot Rod Strat reissue, a contemporary PRS Starla, a Martin Shenandoah acoustic, a Dan Electro baritone and a few other assorted instruments. We use a Dan Electro longhorn reissue bass and a Hofner single cutaway hollow body vintage bass.
You are a part of the Doughboys and the song “Why Can’t She See Me?” got voted one of the coolest songs of all time, how did that feel?
Pretty darn good.
by nancy leigh
You included five of your own versions of Doughboys tracks on Pop Circles, why did you personally choose to revisit these tracks and how do the Doughboys feel about this?
I just wanted to see how those songs would sound from the songwriter’s perspective. I don’t really know how the other Doughboys feel about them.
Herman’s Hermit’s were are an amazing band, though I may not have personally been about when they came to prominence I have heard them and adore them. How did Heyman, Hoosier and Herman happen and what did the vocals Peter Noone bring to that EP that no other artist could bring?
Peter Noone and I were on Cypress/A&M Records in the late 80’s and we got to know each other. He was interested in recording some of my songs. Unfortunately, the song he wanted to do was slated to be my next single, but eventually we got together here in New York and did that EP. Peter has an ethereal tone in his voice and an incredible range, from low baritone to high tenor. His high notes have an angelic quality and his low end has a fullness that is very appealing.
You’ve worked with a lot of your musical heroes, whom did you feel most humbled working with and what was the experience like working with them?
Each experience is different. Link Wray had the greatest guitar tone. The only way to explain it was it sounded dirty and clean at the same time. And Brian Wilson – what can you say? It’s so overwhelming, all the beautiful music that he created. Playing with Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las was a total gas. She is rock’n’roll personified and a truly nice person, very cool singer and performer.
On Pop Circles your wife Nancy plays bass for you, what other musical talents does Nancy have?
Along with being a fabulous bass player, Nancy plays guitar and keyboards. She also sings harmony as well as engineering the recordings.
And did the cats help in any way with the music of Pop Circles as a whole? 😊
Their presence is felt in every note. They loved the viola and cello, though I didn’t have the heart to tell them what the strings were made from.
I love the Heymanuscripts, do you plan to write more?
Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed the book. Haven’t thought about another one, but who knows?
Thank you so much for giving Imperfect Fifth this interview, is there anything you would like to add?
I would love for people to hear the new album. It’s available on www.richardxheyman.com, and I welcome their comments about “Pop Circles.” Thanks very much!
Today, indie pop songstress Marielle Kraft premieres the new music video for her enigmatic track “Better Without You”. As the viewer follows Kraft around, we see her singing next to tall windows, taking to the subway, and enjoying the sunshine. Her gorgeous vocals lead us along, as the emotion from the lyrics is palpable on her face. With each passing second, we allow ourselves to fall more deeply into this incredible soundscape.
Check out the new video below, followed by some words with Marielle, who gave us a behind the scenes look at the production process.
What songs/artists/feelings did you specifically draw from for “Better Without You”?
This song came from a place of finally wanting to move on, even when I didn’t feel ready. I had just moved back to Delaware, and was faced with so many difficult memories again from both a fully joyful and painful chapter of my life there. Instead of writing a sad or angry song about these wounds reopening, I chose to write about moving forward despite my past, and becoming a better version of myself. Instead of this being a typical breakup song, it became a self-empowering anthem for growth and independence.
In the production of the song, I drew from artists Lauv and Betty Who, both of whom write honestly but arrange their songs with hopeful pop beats. I wanted this song to be fun, even if it wasn’t fully “happy.”
You gave a TEDX talk on songwriting at Firefly Festival. Do you find that you tend to follow a pattern or specific process in your songwriting, or does it differ song to song?
Most of my songs are hashed out and finished on my bed or bedroom floor, but they all begin in different ways. Sometimes a lyric idea will hit me when I’m out with friends and I overhear an intriguing conversation, or when I’m on the road, or in the grocery store, or cooking a meal. I’ll jot it down in my phone notepad, or record a snippet of a melody as a voice note. Tons of lines and ideas are scattered throughout my phone, but only a handful end up taking shape as complete songs.
“Better Without You” was born from the simple iPhone note, “working on having more empathy” – which later became the opening line to the song once I sat down on my bed to revisit the idea a few days later.
Where did the idea for the video come from, and what was the production process like?
I worked with Mitchell Straub on this video, who is another young and driven dream-chaser in the arts industry. We wanted this video to reflect my difficult thought process of leaving behind heart-break to finding empowered independence. It would feature only me, reflecting on my past and future in different aesthetic environments: some more vacant (the empty warehouse, symbolizing the emptiness I felt leaving behind my past relationship, yet still letting hopeful light in through the windows), and some more vibrant (the green field representing growth, the city light representing new opportunities). Throughout the video, there are b-roll clips of me traveling around the city, via Subway and walking, meant to represent moving forward to something better despite the hurt. Filming lasted 2 days, and we shot in 8 different locations in and around Pittsburgh.
Any fun anecdotes from filming?
One shot we were determined to capture was the subway arriving, rushing past me as I waited to board. We waited on the platform for 15 minutes, only to miss the subway because it arrived on the opposite track. Then we waited again and other people obstructed the shot. Finally on our third attempt, we were set to nail it when the train rolled in at snail pace – the most anticlimactic arrival we could have ever imagined. It was hilariously lame. My hair didn’t whirl like we had envisioned, the sound didn’t roar, and we cracked up having tried so hard for one shot that simply wasn’t meant to be that way.
What environment can you imagine people listening to this track in?
This track is a road trip windows-down, traveling to a better place song to belt on back roads or the highway. It’s a “I need to pick myself back up from my bedroom floor” track, too, and one to share alongside friends who encourage you to be the best version of yourself. I hope that wherever people listen, it makes them feel free.
On May 8th, The Unlikely Candidates made a pit stop at recordBar in Kansas City, MO to entertain a full house. Before the show, Michael Porter – one of our favorite contributors – sat down and spoke with the band. Check out his video interview below!
Today, we sit down with Nate Sirotta. He is the founder of – and digital publicist at – Impulse Artists, a boutique digital marketing and publicity agency based in Portland and Los Angeles. Since he lives in the Pacific Northwest, I tried to talk Sasquatch. But it was more fun catching up and delving into his work, to be honest.