This first single from the new Twin Ponies’ album has me super stoked for their forthcoming release, Friendly Pet Mass Graves. “Merciless and Masculine” offers listeners a dynamic track full of uniquely timed musicality and unstoppable rocknroll energy. I am hooked and counting down the days until the July 17th release of Friendly Pet Mass Graves so I can hear the rest of the album. If “Merciless and Masculine” is any indication of what’s to come, Twin Ponies has gone above and beyond previous recordings (which we also loved) to give fans something totally fresh. You can pre-order Friendly Pet Mass Graves right here or pick up your copy at the release show on July 17th at the Rebel Lounge where Twin Ponies will be performing with Celebration Guns, Daisy Face, and more!
The Phoenix emo-revival band known as Merit is ready to release the next installment of “Arizona bummer jams” on The Comfort and the Confusion EP. Fans can score an early sampling of what’s to come with “Take Care”, the first single from the band of their forthcoming EP. “Take Care” offers angsty energy and a melodic delivery. You can get your hands on the complete EP at the release show on July 12th at the Rebel Lounge with No Tide, Sundressed, Way Under, and more! More info on the release show here and you can check out “Take Care” from The Comfort and the Confusion EP here.
The two-track single marks the first release from Sonoran Chorus, a new band that counts two-thirds of the recently lost Leonardo DiCapricorn amongst its ranks. The first track, “Hack”, definitely sounds like Sonoran Chorus is exploring new directions, but “Pike” holds to some of that DiCapricorn feist that we first fell in love with. Give these two tracks a listen here. The single was recorded at Audioconfusion and, word has it, fans should expect the full EP from Sonoran Chorus sometime later this month through Rubber Brother Records. We’ll keep you posted!
While you might be familiar with Steff Koeppen from the band Steff & the Articles, this new solo project represents a divergence in sound for the artist. “Celebrate” still presents the sultry songbird front and center but the instrumental support goes beyond piano-driven indie toward something geared more toward contemporary radio listeners with its electronica-infusions. The result is mellow and danceable at the same time. Give “Celebrate” a listen here.
Snailmate is a melting pot of musical styles that emerges from the muddle with a humorous hiphop-electronica-funk fusion. Combining the efforts of Kalen Lander (TKLB?) and Ariel Monet (Sister Lip), Snailmate veers for the weirder side of the musical spectrum in their first single “Sociomedia”. The track is the first offering from the band’s forthcoming debut titled Escargot. You can give “Sociomedia” a listen here and don’t forget to mark your calendar for the July 25th release at C.A.S.A. in Tempe where Snailmate will be performing along with Bear Ghost, The Pubes, Ana Long, and more!
Never reckless, always deliberate, lead vox/guitarist Jedidiah Foster of The Bittersweet Way chatted a bit with Song River, staff writer at YabYum, about their new album, Songs We Want to Sing, due out later this week!
Song River: Let’s talk about the songwriting on thisnew album, Songs We Want to Sing. I believe you were quoted as saying, “Sometimes the best songs are the ones that happen without effort.”
Jedidiah Foster: For me, I’ve found that the songs of mine I end up liking the most are the songs that almost write themselves. They are the ones that always end up resonating the most, personally. They aren’t as filtered, so thoughts come out that I wouldn’t normally think to express. Lots of common, recurring themes happen… each time with slightly different perspectives. I wish I could work that way all the time.
SR: Where were you when the first song effortlessly came to light?
JF: The first song for the EP is “Goodbye In C”. It was written immediately before running out the door on my way out to California to play an acoustic show. I played it that night. The effortless song phenomenon goes back almost as long as I’ve been actively writing songs. The very first album I made – Rain Dancing – had a completely different track listing when we first started recording it. I kept writing new songs during the recording process that I liked better than the ones we had planned!
SR: I overheard another artist recently said toilet paper was one of their favorite items to use to ‘jot’ down ideas… how do you personally, on the norm, partake in songwriting?
JF: It depends. I almost never write anything down. I will occasionally record myself playing things on my phone, but not very often. In general, my rule is that if I can’t remember it the next day, then it clearly wasn’t good enough.
SR: Does songwriting sometimes feel forced?
JF: There are absolutely times when it feels forced. Inspiration is an elusive thing. Art versus craft and all of that. I have personal tricks to find it… the most common one is writing about writing. A LOT of my songs are about writing songs. The songs that feel forced don’t last. They aren’t usually fun to play, and people don’t connect with them as a result. Usually they won’t ever even make it to the performance stage.
SR: Why on this album did you feel the need to arrange, record, and mix as quickly as possible? Is this production looking to be in real-time? Is it a step into the organic?
JF: I think it was really just a matter of trying to keep the sense of immediacy that we were going for in the songwriting. I always arrange on the fly, so that part wasn’t really new, but I also have a habit of obsessing over the mixing stage for WAY too long. I wanted to break away from that, and see what we could carry out with a very tight timeline. In order to force ourselves to work quickly, we had our release date and a mastering date set before we ever started recording. We didn’t even have the last song written at that point. That final song ended up being the single – “Not Sad Tonight”. We ended up getting done way ahead of the imposed schedule we had set. Just a couple of weeks from start to finish. And I was working with a broken rib and a crazy work schedule at the same time!
SR: Buzzwords such as “Indie” and “Organic” are being used commonly now its seems to describe toothpaste, beauty care products, food, beverages, clothing and even art. What do these two buzzwords mean to you and are they holding the same meaning as they once used to?
JF: As buzzwords, they definitely don’t hold the same meaning they once did. I feel like those are words being used to lend a sense of authenticity to a process that is not very authentic at all. Unless you’re recording live in a room together, there’s very little that is organic about the recording process. I think there are approaches that can make the end result FEEL more organic and human… but many of those approaches involve extra trickery to meet that result. As far as indie goes, I think we fit that bill about as well as anyone. We do EVERYTHING ourselves. Writing / recording / artwork / videos / releasing / booking / press. Everything. The only thing we don’t do ourselves is the mastering of the records… and we used to do that ourselves, too. Well worth the cost to have a professional do that, though. It makes all the difference in the world.
SR: Let some light in on the album cover idea?
JF: As with many things in Bittersweet Way land, it started as a joke. I had a couple of ideas, and joked that we would just do two different covers. Then, I thought that since there was 5 songs on the EP, that every song should have its own cover. And then I started telling people about it, so I had to actually DO it! There is an “official” cover, but I like the idea of having different things out there. For the release show, they’re all going to be wrapped up, so you won’t know what cover you’re getting.
Speaking of jokes, all the artwork is made up of pictures from Manchester… because of Morrissey.
SR: Why did you decide to join forces with Onus Records? How as it working with Serene Dominic?
JF: That man is one of the few bona fide geniuses in Phoenix. I also play in his backing band, The Gemseekers, so it was a natural move for us to start working with him. I don’t want to spoil any of the fun around Onus Records, so I’ll just leave it at that.
SR: How often does The Bittersweet Way like to put out new music? How important do you find keeping it ‘fresh’ to be? Is it important to you to do new material or do you get that extra spark of charge when its an old favorite and the audience is singing along with you?
JF: This will be the 5th release in as many years. I think that putting out something once a year is about the right frequency. A couple of years back, we mostly threw out our entire back catalog and started over. I think it’s important to have those ties back to the past the people can connect to, though. So, we certainly make a point to play some old favorites. For our release show, we’re going to be bringing a notorious old song out of the archives.
SR: Is the world always in need of that special Morrissey style and touch?
JF: Always. It’s always been humorous to me that my voice gets compared to Morrissey so often. He was never really an influence on me at all. I think I just naturally gravitated toward pretty melodies, and I’ve always been more of a crooner. So that’s how things come out. As always, I take the things that make me laugh and turn them into songs… so we really leaned on that with this release. The single is specifically about how I sing like Morrissey, and one of the other songs references listening to his song, “My Love Life”. The video for that song features him driving a Rolls Royce around Phoenix circa 1991.
SR: Shoe-gazing is a term well-known in the UK… do you feel this new album partakes still in that same motion to some degree, or how do you view it?
JF: The second song – “Nonfilter Fantasy” – is definitely a shoe gaze-y song. That style of music had a huge impact on me when I was younger, and it always comes out in almost everything I’ve ever done. The chiming tones and washes of tremolo and delay are touchstones for a lot of my recorded output. This record actually probably has the least amount of those tropes than anything I’ve done in recent years.
SR: Your release is set foor July the Fourth at The Rogue Bar in Scottsdale. Any special message behind that particular date and chosen and the elements behind this new album Songs We Want to Sing?
JF: We’re releasing a record that reflects British influence in lyrics, sound, and artwork on July 4. That’s hilarious to me. It was serendipity, in the sense that it wasn’t really planned. I was working with Manny at The Rogue to try to line up a date, and he’s the one who suggested it. It’s kind of perfect. Celebration is already the order of the day… so come continue the celebration with us!
Songs We Want To Sing will be released to digital storefronts and Bandcamp on June 30. A limited edition CD will be released on July 4th at The Rogue. The CD will be released in 5 editions of 20 – each with a different piece of cover art. The 100 total CDs will be wrapped up so the cover can’t be seen, so no one knows which cover they are getting at the time of purchase.
Genre, Manifest Sound, Field Tripp, and Some Magical Animal** will also be performing at the release show. The digital release can be pre-ordered now, right here. The pre-order includes an immediate download of the lead single “Not Sad Tonight”.
** Correction: The bands listed here were altered due to an error in our initial published content.
My name is Noé Badillo, and I was born in a small surfing town called Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico in 1978. I am a professional artist, a PhD student in art history at Arizona State University, a husband to my beautiful wife Elizabeth and a father of two amazing boys, Elliot and Griffin.
How did you get your start?
I have been a practicing artist since I was fifteen, when I started studying photography in high school. That was in 1994, over twenty years ago. In college I began studying drawing and painting, but where I really learned art is as an apprentice of an incredible artist named Osvaldo Romberg. In his studio, I learned classical painting by master copying, drafting, and lots of brilliant things about theoretical and conceptual art.
What inspires you?
Since I got married, the subject of my paintings has been primarily my wife, as well as my two sons. I would say that they are my deepest source of inspiration. I also learn a great deal by being an artist who is also a scholar of art history. The way that art historians learn to read images and interpret them, and study the conscious development of art throughout the ages influences how I approach my own work.
What do you like about AZ?
I love when it rains here, which of course it doesn’t do enough. I was raised in Seattle, and I miss the damp, gloomy weather. It’s weird, because my mood goes up when it’s rainy. But I also love other things about Arizona, like hiking in the desert, the wildflowers in springtime, the light in the canyons, things like that. And I particularly love the large monsoon clouds and thunderheads. For my birthday this year, I’m going to ask for a Plein Air Easel, and go out and paint outside.
Where can we see you(r) work?
You can see a good deal of my work on my website: noebadillo.com. Anyone is also welcome to do a studio visit, which I recommend, because people have told me that they really couldn’t get a sense of my work from images online. Feel free to contact me through my site. I also have a piece in the permanent collection of the Latino Museum in Los Angeles.
What would you like to accomplish before you die?
I would like to become a full professor at a university, and to have works in major museum collections someday. I would also like to write books that make advancements in my field. But even more so, I think the most important accomplishment for me will be to be there for my wife and kids, and to figure out a way to really help other people somehow. I’ve thought that if I ever have the extra money, I would like to start a program for starving artists, to supply them with a monthly stipend for food and supplies. I’ve been a very poor artist myself, and I think it is important to recognize that artists need support.
What is your mantra?
To focus on beauty uplifts my soul. To fixate my attention on my wife’s beautiful face, and to struggle to express it in the multifaceted ways that it appears at different angles or in different light, allows me to feel whole. I paint and I work to gain a grasp of something solid, something real and tangible, that allows me to know that life has true meaning.
For more on Noé Badillo, follow his Facebook page here.
Mesa punk rockers known as Consumer joined us down at Radio Phoenix for Rise! and they brought along some feisty tunes. The complete playlist can be found below!! Catch Consumer live on July 3rd at the Rogue!
If you’re reading this you’re probably a musician, someone who likes music, someone who knows a musician, someone who wants to be a musician, or someone who was looking at a blog regarding the top 10 reasons why someone would want to do anything and are completely disappointed right about now.
This is for the first four.
There are millions of bands and/or solo artists (not a real number, I just made it up to go for the dramatic) out there in the world, recording, posting, and playing their music. Music that largely gets ignored by the rest of mankind, mainly because the proliferation of said music is so prevalent that to find it would be akin to finding that proverbial record needle in a haystack. And, those who are doing said recording, posting and playing are within only a million to one of making it, mostly because the music industry is as brutal as watching an Adam Sandler movie…on cable…and you only have one channel.
But there are those, who despite all the odds against them, ridiculously Hulkulean odds, continue to record, post and play music.
Which begs the question: Why do they do it? I mean, why does any artist create anything? It’s a fool’s errand, to be quite honest. And considering that streaming services are dishing out 0.0000000000000001 per spin, it certainly can’t be for the money (that’s reserved for Taylor Swift and her lot). History is strewn with artists and musicians like Van Gogh, Cobain, et al, who have been driven bonkers because of an inner drive that they could not resist nor control, so why o why go through all that? Additionally, ask any psychologist and they’ll tell you artists, writers, and musicians are basically bordering on severe mental breakdowns, but yet, they still do it. Not to get too deep, but even the philosopher, Heir Kiekegaar, argues that, “For him (the artist), anxiety becomes a serving spirit that against his will leads him where he wishes to go.” And that’s usually straight to the “funny farm” to be fit with a straight jacket.
But, despite all of those odds, all those high hurdles stacked against them, there those who subscribe to a “damn the torpedoes” philosophy. They are the type of person who doesn’t take “no” for an answer and the word “can’t” is not in their vocabulary. In fact, they don’t know what it means, and frankly, probably have never used it in their lives.
And luckily for us, there are many in our midst.
So I spoke to (I really mean emailed) some of these people in no particular order, but ladies first: Chelsey Louise (lead singer, Fairy Bones), Melody Michelle (lead singer, Ana Log), Chuck Morris III (bassist, Jared & the Mill), Jason Kay (guitarist, PreHab), and Zach Vogt (keyboardist, Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra/Yojimbobillions). I asked them questions and they answered them for me. I found the answers, to be quite honest, genuine and sans curse words. Dammit.
Frank (FI): Go back with me for a second, that moment you knew you wanted to be a musician was:
Melody Michelle (MM): I was 8 years old and I had just sang “My Heart Will Go On” for my school’s talent show when the music teacher took my parents out into the hall and told them that I had a gift and I needed to pursue it.
Jason Kay (JK): Listening to my mom’s “Meet the Beatles” LP as a kid planted the music bug in my ear. Then in 6th grade somehow my best friend’s older brother convinced the school it would be a great idea for his metal band to play our tiny gymnasium during a school assembly. Once I saw how much fun they were having and how distressed and offended the teachers were I was hooked.
Chelsey Louise (CL): …when I realized singing – in the car, in a musical, in a band, whatever – was my only true escape from all the nonsense I can’t control in my head.
Zach Vogt (ZV): There was no specific moment when I decided to be a musician, though I did specifically quit an office job in order to spend more time making music.
Chuck Morriss III (CMIII): I can’t remember the exact moment but as a toddler, I used to dress as a Pirate Cowboy Rockstar. Once I got older, I realized that I couldn’t ride a horse very well, all the pirates left are on the Internet, and being a rock star was the path of least resistance.
FI: Did you ever say, “Um, yeah, no this is so not for me, get me to an office job…”
MM: Haha, not for one second.
CL: Never, not once. My personal hell is the definition of an office job.
ZV: See above.
CMIII: The life of a touring musician can be physically and emotionally exhausting at times and inevitably that leads to the “what am I doing with my life” moment. Usually in those times of crisis I remind myself just how lucky I am to be able to travel and sustain myself by hanging out and playing music with my friends. That being said, I am still relatively young, so I could always get an office job later in life if I become a curmudgeon and don’t want to tour anymore.
FI: Is there a difference between “needing” to play instead of “wanting” to play music?
MM: I think there is. Music saved my life, in a way. I was an easy target for bullies while I was growing up and eventually grew into quite a depressed state. When I discovered my voice, it was like I found my life’s meaning. When I sang in front of my bullies, I was finally heard and it shut them up.
JK: Yes. After playing rehearsing four days a week and playing 400 plus shows in three years during the Tempe’s zenith I was ready for a normal life.
CL: I think so. I think the difference is in what would happen if it was taken away from you. If music was taken away from me, I would fall pretty hard into trying to fill the void.
ZV: I need to feel my life has meaning so I want as many of my ideas to live on in the minds of others. I need to play music because I want to express those ideas as eloquently and beautifully as possible.
CMIII: Things that “need” to be done are generally chores, or things like breathing, while things that you “want” to do are things that bring you joy and a sense of accomplishment. If you “need” to play music, that implies to me – either it’s your sole source of income and rent is due, you have a medical condition that requires it, or you are being a tad dramatic. You should play music because it’s what you want to do, because you’d rather noodle on an instrument than watch Netflix. Although, to be fair, they did just add Bill Nye, so maybe balance the two.
FI: How many projects have you been associated with?
MM: Four projects. 1. I helped write lyrics and music for an emo/screamo band in Arlington, TX, I shall not name the band. 2. Vie La C’est was a short-lived project in Tempe. 3. Love, Palms… 4. Ana Log.
JK: I have played in bands that range from alt-country to punk to industrial.
CL: I’ve been associated with two: Born Loser and the Hangers on and Fairy Bones.
CMIII: Jared & the Mill.
FI: What was your most memorable moment with those projects?
MM: There are a lot of great memories but touring for SXSW takes the cake. It was the hardest, riskiest, most fulfilling thing I’ve done thus far.
JK: The most memorable moment from my early years was sound checking for a show at Celebrity Theater and hearing how massive the band sounded. After years of playing dives, back yard BBQ’s, backs of trucks, etc. to hear the songs through a massive PA sounded amazing.
CL: My fondest memory of BLATHO was just the beautiful, creative energy we had with one another. BLATHO was an excellent learning experience. With Fairy Bones, there are so many. Our first tour, becoming friends with amazing bands, buying a van, creating music videos – but I know my fondest memories are still to come.
ZV: Both before and since I’ve been involved in music projects — each with memorable moments — but the moments themselves are largely the same thing: flow. It can occur whether locking into a groove with other musicians, cutting together two samples on the computer, or while improvising.
CMIII: One of my favorite memories was a private gig we played at this very elite ski resort up in Montana. After the show, we ended up getting drunk with the remaining members and performing an absolutely filthy joke song we’d been putting together during our tour. Hilarity ensued, and at the end of the night I crashed in a king sized bed with a Smartwater laid out on the nightstand. Fancy.
FI: We all know that the music industry is a tough one, what is the one thing that you experienced and made you think twice about pursuing a career in music?
MM: When I was playing in Love, Palms, I ended up getting Bronchitis and tried to continue and push through all of our gigs instead of focusing on my health. I ended up losing my voice during a set and it really scared me.
JK: Maintaining relationships as a working artist is very hard. If you are going to truly give 100% to music there really is little room for anything else. As long as you know this going in and you are ready to sacrifice you will be fine.
CL: I envision the music industry a lot like a video game. I can pick up items, beat levels, fall in the lava. I’m terrible at water levels. I’ve been discouraged by a lot of obstacles I’ve faced – not getting the slot to open for that bigger band, venues falling through, a terrible show, but I’ve always liked the game. I like learning. So I can’t say I’ve ever truly considered giving up.
ZV: There is something of the same satisfaction when you play music while making your career elsewhere. You may produce a delightful series of sugary confections, but with such limited resources of time you’re unlikely to concoct a healthy manner in which to nourish a career.
CMIII: The scariest thing you encounter on the road is when you are in some dive bar in heaven knows where and start chatting with the gnarled old guy behind the mixing board. The moment of terror comes when he tells you he used to be just like you; you ask him what band he used to tour with, and it’s somebody you’ve listened to. Yikes.
FI: Music: Career or life path?
MM: Career for the rest of my life’s path.
JK: Life path. I’d like to go out like B.B. King.
ZV: The common thing now is to find a career in some other field and try to work on music as a hobby, so that it can be not so much a life path as a salve.
CMIII: Depends on the person. There are plenty career musicians who are incredible, and plenty of people playing their bedroom right now that are even better. Music is what you make it.
FI: What would you be doing if you weren’t playing music?
MM: Traveling and writing.
JK: Traveling as much as possible.
CL: Cooking or film making.
ZV: If I weren’t playing music I would be writing science fiction novels, absurdest philosophy or suicide notes.
CMIII: Selling a hell of a lot more real estate, that’s for sure.
FI: It’s all fun and games when you’re a musician until:
MM: …you’re reading contracts and thinking about “ROI’s”.
JK: …you have to pay rent.
CL: …you’re sliding on black ice in the abyss of night, in the middle of nowhere, and you’re so tired that you don’t even have the energy to panic.
ZV: …once the Information Age truly begins the Industrial Age will end and the music industry, like all others, will be a relic of the past.
CMIII: …the first time you sleep outside, the 15th consecutive night that you share a bed with a band mate, or when the person you were coming home to isn’t waiting for you any longer. Pick one, but stick around long enough and you’ll get them each a few times.
FI: The one piece of advice you’d give to someone who wants to get into your business?
MM: Learn to use both sides of your brain. It’s okay to be business savvy and artistic. Because remember, no one is going to rescue you on a white horse and make all your dreams come true, and if they say that they are, there’s something in it for them. Learn the business side so you can make your dream come true AND protect yourself.
JK: The current musical landscape is both exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. You can get you music across the word with a mouse click. Getting someone to care is another story. I think the most important piece of advice is to follow your voice and create the music you hear in your head. Trends come and go. If you play from your heart you can never go wrong.
CL: Put the music first, the business second, and always do your own thing.
ZV: My advice is to take as many choruses as you can. The power could go at any moment.
CMIII: You know when in hip-hop someone talks about “the come up” and/or “the hustle”? Those are real things and the second you lose them it’s all over for you. Never stop improving and leave no stone unturned. Keep your band mates on their toes and make sure they do the same to you. Most importantly, buy a fresh pack of socks before you leave for a tour. That way you won’t be bummed out if you decide to toss a pair.
So there you go. That’s why these wonderful performers do it. Why do you? Thanks again to all that participated and hey, go out and see them do what they do at a venue near you.
Futuristic might arguably be the most prominent Arizona HipHop artist on the scene at the moment. Once you listen to The Rise you might have an idea as to why. The album opens with an homage to another famed AZ resident: “The Greatest” or Muhammed Ali. As the album progresses, Futuristic delves into the introspective journey of the artist on precipice of burgeoning success. At thirteen tracks, The Rise won’t be short-changing Futuristic fans. You can preview and purchase The Rise through iTunes here.
Tucson HipHop artist Joey Jewish released his full-length album on May 23rd at local hotspot 191 Toole. At ten tracks, American Dream gives the artist enough space to express his lyrical prowess against the chill musicality contained therein. Strangely enough, Joey Jewish previously performed under the moniker Dorian Gray (aka, The Christian Rapper). Looks like he changed names and preferred Testaments for this new project. Listen to American Dream by Joey Jewish here.
Izzy Mintz offers up chillwave with a smoothly styled HipHop in his latest release. Phoenix: AfterHours features new material from Izzy Mintz since he made the move from Las Cruces, NM to Phoenix. The album also boasts a number of appearances from other AZ artists like Stefani Monet and Tiffany Nicole as well as some names from beyond our borders like Vee Tha Rula. Listen to Phoenix: AfterHours by Izzy Mintz here.
Doom-Hop? Hell-Hop? We’re sort of at a loss to describe the dark and sinister HipHop stylings of Phoenix’s Plague Monks, but we’re certainly having fun trying. Released earlier this year through Cane Corso Records, The Sickness and Plague proves far more listenable than those labels initially had me thinking. I found myself lost in the chill lull of songs like “No Destination to Welcome Me” and “Wicked Witch of the Well”. Give Plague Monks’ The Sickness and Plague a listen here.
Red River Rebellion comes to us from our friendly northern neighbor and I don’t mean Canada, no matter what the name suggests. I know you’re probably thinking, Flagstaff has HipHop? Yes. Yes, they do. It’s decidedly apropos that they take their name from an event in Manitoban history because they’re MC-style reminds me of some Canadian HipHop acts like Pip Skid or others on the Peanuts & Corn label. The Horror is a story-telling endeavor for the Red River Rebellion and one I enjoyed, for the most part. The exception being the singing interspersed amid the rapping on “Part Four: O Lord”. Listen to The Horror for yourself here.
Seneca and the River came together in the Summer of 2013 to enter a competition in Los Angeles. After the student band took first place, most everyone decided to stick around outside the original project.
Over time, the original twelve became today’s four band members. On occasion, unofficial bandmates and friends contribute and make guest appearances as the developing indie-folk sound of Seneca and the River begins to solidify.
Song River: When you pulled together the group for the competition, what were some of the backgrounds in music you were looking for?
Seneca and the River: We weren’t really looking for people that had any kind of folk or country background. Just looking for good musicians who could catch on fast. We all went to college together at Musicians Institute, so we all already had some sort of background in music.
SR: Why did the group decide to continue afterward? What was the spark that ignited Seneca and the River?
Seneca: I wanted to keep the band going and everyone seemed to be on board. We all like the music and we all liked each other.
SR: The group is now four. What do these solidified members bring musically, and personality, to who Seneca and the River is?
Seneca: Everyone brings their own style and personality. We all grew up in different parts of the world, so that just adds a variety of different elements.
SR: What do you feel is the unique sound to Seneca and the River? Was it sound developed with intention, or was it a natural progressive flow?
Seneca: It was more of a natural flow. I think having unique instruments. We have trumpet, mandolin, cello, pedal steel on our recordings.
SR: I was reading how the band has gone on some ups and downs during its development. What were some of the up moments, and how did you all deal with those down times?
Seneca: We have played many different places including the Saban Theater. We all get along very well and have formed a community of friends. We deal with the downs by just dealing with them. Letting go of people with negative attitudes and working together to make compromises.
SR: Since 2013 and the events that have taken place, have you found more and more influences upon your music, songwriting, out look?
Seneca: Yes, absolutely. I write from experiences. And I have definitely experienced a lot since 2013. Finding new music and getting creative influence also changes my writing.
SR: As a band are you all more comfortable with live performances? Festivals? Clubs? Intimate Gatherings? or Hiding behind a studio wall?
Seneca: I personally love intimate gatherings. Everyone is respectful, [and] there for the music. And I’m able to really showcase my lyrics. We play shows often and we always have a good time, no matter what the venue.
SR: Your EP is out under Pop Cautious Records: First, talk about the relationship with Pop Cautious. Why this label? How is the EP looking to be distributed?
Seneca: Pop Cautious (Tyler Porterfield) is my mandolin player. We have known each other for almost three years now.
I trust him with my music. We have a great friendship. I wouldn’t want to work with anyone else and we are developing together.
SR: Many bands have ‘side’ projects and other realms of art they enjoy. What are some of those other characteristics each of the band members pursue outside of the band?
Seneca: Most everyone in the band is in another band, too. They’re all doing some profession in music. Some of us dabble in art, photography and poetry. The majority of our creative output as individuals is centered around music though.
SR: Overall, consensus on your first EP and its presentation?
Seneca: I am very pleased with the way this EP came out. It’s my first EP I have released with any band I’ve been with and we were lucky enough to work with some great people on it. We are happy to finally be able to share our music with our friends, fans and family. Spent a long time designing the album art work as a group. Merely made sketches of it and then went out and bought the materials and constructed a western style display inside the apartment. Tyler (Pop Cautious) designed the inside and back cover of the CD version. We’ve all done our best to spread the word and Pop Cautious Records has shared our music with industry and media nationwide.
SR: As an indie folk style band, where would your concentration of marketing go to?
Seneca: We are pushing for a placement in TV/Film. Our music seems perfect for it. Being in Los Angeles helps with that. Other than that we’ve been trying to reach out to venues and communities of musicians and music lovers that support our style and grow the awareness of our new EP.
SR: Tell us a bit about your first video that was released, “Lately,” and then about your first single, “Hold Me Up.”
Seneca: “Lately” [see below] was a song we recorded exclusively for the Pop Cautious Records’ sampler. It gave everyone a little taste of the band before our first official EP release as a band. The video helped set the tone and just give everyone a look into our style and music. We recorded the track mostly on our own in home studios and mixed it ourselves. “Hold Me Up” was the first true single as a group. It was released before all of our other songs on the EP and is used in most of our advertisements for the EP. We feel it is one of our more emotionally powerful and moving songs that has a strong and defined chorus that would be most accessible to a listener.
SR: Tour plans? More videos?
Seneca: We are kind of in the middle of a “local tour” right now. Been playing in and all around LA for over a month for at least once a week since we put the EP out. We have plans to tour sometime later this summer to Texas and back. Planning on shooting a video for “Hold Me Up” very soon as well as a video for a new unreleased song. We have some good stuff in store and are excited about it all. Details TBA!
For more on Seneca and the River check out their website here and their Facebook page here.
The Hourglass Cats have their own distinctive bluesy-garage-rock, desert-reggae sound guaranteed to get barroom patrons dancing before the first chorus of their set. The same might be said of their latest track, “Be That Way”. Recorded in 432Hz at Loud Audio Recording in Glendale, “Be That Way” has all the feist and fire you want from a summer rock anthem. Give it a listen right here.
Any song that begins with the phrase “Wal-Mart hottie” is likely going to score at least two complete listenings from me no matter what follows. Treasure Mammal once again goes beyond music-making to social commentary that doesn’t smash you in the face with boring rhetoric. Instead, it comes in a candy colored observations that are dripping with irony and painfully human with all the humor and tragedy that implies. Describing much more than a missed romantic connection, Treasure Mammal encapsulates the present-tense in “Missed Connections”. Listen to the new T.Mammal song hererecorded at 513 Recording!
Harrison Fjord counts quite a few players amid its ranks, seven to be exact, but they manage to achieve a crisp and cohesive sound on “Approximately 906 Miles”. R&B meets 60s psychedelia for a mellow musicality that will leave you wanting more. The single came out just about a year ago, but, word has it, Harrison Fjord is in the studio laying down some new tracks. So, if you haven’t jumped on the Fjord train, now’s a good time to do so. Listen to “Approximately 906 Miles” right here.
Tucson’s Desert Mambas released a two-track demo in April featuring “It’s Been a While” and, my new favorite song to sing in the shower, “Notes from Chicago”. Bluesy with a 1950s revivial rock core and a dusty desert glaze, Desert Mambas achieve something cool and slightly aloof in just two tracks. I suggest you give their demos a listen just so you can say you were a fan while they were still way under the radar. Check out the Desert Mambas here.
Japanese Large is an electronica-infused indie act out of Phoenix with some uniquely listenable music. For example, take “Rubberband”, the band’s latest single which came out in May. There is something decidedly upbeat about the song despite being downtempo. It’s chill from beginning to end, but Japanese Large can inspire some serious head nodding in the course of one track. Listen to “Rubberband” here. If you dig that track, I suggest looking back a little further to the three-track release Japanese Large put out in April.
My name is Zach Lewis and I am a lover of culture, living in Phoenix, AZ. I work a full-time job as a researcher for Rio Salado College in Tempe, but I moonlight as a trombone player and freelance photographer here in the Valley of the Sun.
How did you get your start?
As far back as I can remember, I have always been intrigued by photography and visual artistry. I wasn’t all that in to sports as a kid, so I took lots of art and music lessons while growing up in Columbus, OH. My grandmother always encouraged me to practice my abilities, and I think my foundation in photography began with using her old Polaroid instant camera during holidays and family get-togethers. As I got a bit older, I was able to start traveling, picked up a simple point-and-shoot, and really got into urban and street photography. After college, I moved out to AZ, was able to get my hands on a decent DLSR rig, and everything has basically grown from there.
What inspires you?
As cheesy as it sounds, I consider myself a bit of a romantic in that I am truly inspired by the raw artistry and aesthetic charm of the world around us. I’ve always had this sort of underpinning affinity for the American poets and novelists of the 19th and early 20th centuries; those who abandoned all sense of normality, found escape in the natural world, and realized beauty in even the harshest of circumstances. It’s not necessarily a conscious decision, but I try to incorporate that insight and perspective into almost everything I do from shooting natural landscapes to live music portraiture.
What do you like about AZ?
After growing up in the Midwest, Arizona is a complete departure from everything I knew as a child. I love the desert heat, the punishing terrain, the harsh vegetation. I am constantly amazed by the sheer grandeur of our state, and the abundance of variation and natural diversity. I’m also devastatingly enchanted with the historic colonial Spanish influence, ‘Old West’ mining character, and the quirky mid-century Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architectural features that dot our cityscapes.
Where can we see you(r) work?
Much of my photography work from recent years can be seen at Red Rock Photos as well as my Flickr page (here) and of course right here at YabYum (see here)! You can also catch me playing trombone around town with Dry River Yacht Club and Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra.
What would you like to accomplish before you die?
Wow, that’s a loaded question. The safe answer is to enjoy my time with my beautiful wife, (probably) raise a kid or two, and travel the world whenever possible. But really, I want to make a lasting impact on our world and ensure that I am leaving this place better off than when I found it.
What is your mantra?
Enjoy life and everything that comes with it – the good, the bad, and the ugly. We only get a small amount of time on this rock, make the most of it!