An Interview with Little Comets

banner

I’m thrilled to give you all this post! Little Comets, an English indie-rock band that formed in 2008, have been one of my favorite bands since high school. I’m ecstatic to have interviewed lead singer, Rob Coles, for my blog.

Little Comets, made up of brothers Rob and Michael Coles, plus friends Matthew Hall, Matt Saxon, and Nathan Greene, released their debut album, In Search of Elusive Little Comets in 2011. The next year, the band released their second album, Life is Elsewhere, (my favorite!) under Dirty Hit records. If you’re unfamiliar with Dirty Hit, they’re an award-winning, British, independent label (and happen to be my favorite record label), whose artists include The 1975, Pale Waves, Wolf Alice, The Japanese House, and more. Little Comets were signed with Dirty Hit until 2017. They independently released their third album, Worhead, that same year.

Matty Healy of The 1975 mentioned his friendship with the guys in an 2013 interview.  Little Comets even helped produce some of The 1975’s early tracks.

“Little Comets took us out on the road when we were in our very embryonic stages of our old band and just let us open up for them. We started getting fans off the back of that…Then they helped us produce ‘Sex’ the song, and ‘You,'” -Matty Healy

I discovered Little Comets in 2013 when they performed a show at a small, intimate venue in Portland. I got tickets to the show out of curiosity, and after just a few minutes, I fell in love with the band’s unique sound. Echoey, driving drums, beachy guitar riffs and vivid lyrics that can be interpreted in a variety of ways…that’s Little Comets.

Little Comets started out by playing small college gigs, cafes, and other unusual venues in the UK. Since then, the guys have come a long way. Just this last year, the band teamed up with Catfish and the Bottlemen (another fave band of mine) for a sold-out arena tour. After that, the band spent the winter writing and working on new music in none other than singer Frank Sinatra’s former summer home in California! These days, album number five is in the works, and the guys are planning out their next tour–it will be the first time they’ve hit the road in two years.

A Perfect Playlist: Tell me a little bit about how Little Comets got started. Have you all been involved in music-related projects since you were young?

59811954_10157109661442207_261298010628030464_o

Little Comets (Rob Coles): Mickey are I brothers, so we’ve been writing songs in the house since we were very little. Once we’d finished Uni, we decided to see if we could make a living out of being creative, musically, so we set about finding other musicians to form a band. That was the start of Little Comets with Mark (our original drummer), and Matt, our bassist.

APP: One of my favorite songs of yours is “Bridge Burn.” It’s a super special song for me and a few friends. Can you tell me a little bit about the story behind it?

RC: Ah thanks, that’s nice to hear! That’s a song I wrote in my bedroom while Mickey was mixing songs for our second album. I kind of wrote/recorded it roughly and had lots of lyrics almost immediately for it. The coast is pretty great for providing lyrical metaphors. Theme-wise, it’s just about two people who realize that their time is up. When Mickey heard the song, he really molded the landscape. Initially, it was just a B-side, but in hindsight, we probably should have put a little more faith in it, as it seems to be a pretty popular song.

APP: Your sound/genre has been described as “kitchen sink indie.” Do you agree with that?

RC: Haha, I don’t really mind–as long as people are polite and constructive, they can describe our sound how they like. I suppose that it could mean, in terms of subject matter, that we write about kitchen sink-related things, which was certainly true of album one. In a sonic sense, though, we do use a lot of percussive instruments which are also kitchenalia, so if the cap fits…

53117722_10156978974087207_7460400824997380096_o

APP: If you could invite one artist/band to be in the crowd at one of your shows, who would it be and why?

RC: We got really excited once at a gig in Oxford because somebody asked that Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead) be put on the guest list. It spoilt the gig, though, because we spent the whole evening looking for Jonny Greenwood despite him not actually being there, and probably never having any intention of being there. So I would choose Jonny Greenwood because I haven’t said “Jonny Greenwood” enough in this answer.

APP: Your latest music video, “American Tuna,” is super creative and visually complex in how it was filmed. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience filming? How did you come up with the idea as it relates to the song?

RC: It was fun, but stressful. We had received an email telling us, despite our very polite request, that we explicitly couldn’t use the building. So the whole process was based around being very secretive. This definitely hampered the final product, as we couldn’t redo shots or control timing or lighting. Mickey was in a Paternoster lift in an 18-floor building with the camera. As the lift travels up, each floor is a different scene which tells the story of a relationship. Mickey was in that lift for about 6 solid hours while we chased him ’round the building, doing scenes in non-chronological order to avoid security cameras. We were happy with the final video, but I just wish that people could see the levels of effort and time that just three people were involved in executing. It looks pretty pro, and the DIYness doesn’t come through. I think that given the constraints, it’s amazing. But I’m biased.

APP: That’s mind-blowing. Writing music is super different from filming a visual interpretation of a song through a music video. Has that ever been a challenge for you as a band?

RC:  I think we’ve learned to separate the processes quite naturally. We also like learning new skills, so the challenge of making a video or a piece of artwork is an opportunity to do that. The only problem is time. We are three people, yet we have to record, write, and release the music on our own label, then promote it whilst making the videos and artwork. Because we are novices in many of these areas, it takes us longer to produce these assets. That often puts us behind, as artists at a commensurate level have teams of people and pools of financial resources that we don’t. It does make the task psychologically difficult at times as well, compounded by the fact that we are in a industry that gives credence to having a machine in tow. We often get overlooked and dismissed because we don’t have a manager, record label, publisher, art director, plugging team etc. I think this is where the real challenge lies for us.

rob

APP: You haven’t toured for two years, but you’re making plans to head back onto the road soon! Do you have a favorite/funny memory from being on tour in the past?

RC: Probably when Matt broke his foot in Texas. We spent the next five days telling him he was fine, but then talking privately about how he was really hamming it up. By the time we got to Missouri, he got an X-ray and found out he had a hairline fracture. We felt TERRIBLE! He completed the rest of the tour perched on a bar stool during the gigs, and he became my hero.

APP: Are there any songs you feel you’ve outgrown that now seem to stray from your current sound?

RC: Ah no, they are all our babies. They popped out for a reason and we can’t really turn them away even when they become slightly haggard/annoying. That would be bad song parenting!

 

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Rob!

Listen to Little Comets here:

 

Advertisements

The Power of Music In Film: An Interview with student filmmaker Anna Maestas

 

“Whenever I make videos, I rely heavily on the music I incorporate. I think the reason why people get so emotional over films is the combination of a visual and music component–without both, it just wouldn’t be the same.” -Anna Maestas

 

FullSizeRender-4By day, Anna Maestas is a sophomore at the University of Oregon studying journalism. By night, Anna directs and produces a series of moody, heartbreakingly beautiful short films. The first episode of her video series, “Would You Like to Leave a Message?,” premiered just last month.

The film, inspired by and centered around a real voicemail submitted by a friend of Anna’s, is as tragic as it is visually stunning. The accompanying track, Perfume Genius’ “Otherside” builds the film to an incredible climax, leaving the viewer with a sense of mutual longing and sympathy for the actors on screen. “Otherside” fits perfectly in terms of content and rhythm, complimenting the depth and complexity of the film itself. I chatted with Anna about her film, where she finds inspiration, and the ways in which music has largely contributed to her creative process. (Photo on right by Marissa Willke.)

A Perfect Playlist: What is your video series “Would You Like to Leave a Message?”, about, and how did you come up with the concept for it?

Anna Maestas: When it comes to art, I usually start with an idea that I think about for a few months. I put it into words, and then I don’t actually complete the project until like a month or so later. For this film, I got the idea in February of last year. I was going through life, things were pretty normal, but I was feeling some strong feelings of longing for different people, as well as longing for home. I decided to channel those feelings into an art piece by using voicemails.

When you call someone, your initial hope, of course, is that the person on the other line will pick up. When they don’t, there’s that “limbo” state you enter where your emotions end up spilled out into a voicemail. Voicemails are an expression of a very tangible, genuine longing. I knew that I wanted to use real voicemails in the film because it falls under the category of my favorite kind of art, which is called “relational aesthetic.” This type of art occurs when the artist curates real-life relationships and experiences through pieces. This can be expressed through performance, video, photography etc. The artist brings people together through an artistic depiction of a relationship or particular situation.

FullSizeRender-3

IMG_5129

Whenever I do art, I like to use themes from real life. So for this film, I wanted to take something that is very real–which is why I asked people to send me voicemails they’ve received. The voicemail I used for this particular film was between a girl and her boyfriend at the time. It’s so real and powerful…and in a way, if you listen to it, he didn’t really say anything in particular. It was just him rambling and hoping she would pick up. That stuck with me, because that’s how I was feeling about some of the people in my life at the time. So I crafted my visual interpretation of the situation and filmed it with some friends.

APP: How many voicemails did you receive?

Anna: So many. One of the most amazing parts of this project was the fact that so many people were willing to share such intimate parts of their life with me. It was so special that I got to hear the voices of their moms, grandmas, friends etc.

APP: Who were the actors in the film?

Anna: I had originally planned to film it in Eugene, but I ended up filming in my hometown of Denver, CO. Over the summer, I got my friends Ben and Kylie together, and we ended up filming it over the course of just two days.

APP: You chose the song “Otherside” by Perfume Genius to be the background track for this film. It fits incredibly well. Did you choose the song beforehand, or decide to use it as you edited?

FullSizeRender-2

Anna: Whenever I make videos, I rely heavily on the music I incorporate. I think the reason why people get so emotional over films is the combination of a visual and music component–without both, it just wouldn’t be the same. That’s why people react so strongly to films with an incredible soundtrack. Whenever I look for songs to include in my videos, I look for a build in the song, where things are happening and they suddenly lead up to a certain moment that makes you go “holy shit.” So I heard this song by Perfume Genius, and I loved the build and the way it made me feel when I listened to it. I had it in the back of my mind when I was filming the video, and I knew it had to be that song.

APP: Is there a movie that’s had an impact on you in part because it’s soundtrack?

Anna: Call Me By Your Name. That movie is such a true and honest representation of love. I associate Sufjan Stevens’ music (which is in the film) with Eugene, since I watched it for the first time there with a lot of people I love. The music in that film partnered with the incredible story line all falls together so well for me.

 

IMG_5128

 

Thanks, Anna!

An Interview with Halie Loren

p

Halie Loren

Halie Loren, originally from Southeast Alaska, has been writing and performing music since the age of 13. Now an international, award-winning jazz/pop singer, Halie is a force to be reckoned with. She has released a total of ten albums over her years as a singer-songwriter, topped charts across the world, toured worldwide, and continues to wow her fans with her enchanting voice and multi-lingual lyrics–she speaks eight languages, including English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese and Korean!

After moving to the Northwest as a teen, Halie quickly fell in love with the Northwest and its music scene–and it loved her back. Within months of making the move, she was invited to be a main performer in a sold-out concert series that received much exposure around the Northwest (at just 13 years old!) A few years later, Halie graduated from high school (early) at the age of at 17. She then moved to Nashville to further pursue her dream as a songwriter. She spent the next 1-1/2 years in “Music City” writing, recording, and performing. When she returned to the good old Northwest to attend school at the University of Oregon, (scooo DUCKS!) her musical style reformed and took on a whole new sound. She had found her voice. She began touring as both a solo songwriter and jazz vocalist accompanied by a full band.

Halie didn’t stop there. During her sophomore year at UO, Halie formed her own independent record label and production company, White Moon Productions, and  released a collaborative benefit CD, “For the Love.” Things have only gone up for Halie since then. Her debut jazz CD, “They Oughta Write a Song,” won the International
Independent Music award for best vocal jazz album of the year, her 2012 release, “Heart First,” was honored by Japan’s Jazz Critique Magazine as the best vocal jazz album of year, and reached No. 1 on the iTunes Canada jazz albums chart…the list goes on.

I had the pleasure of chatting with the talented Halie Loren for today’s blog post. Enjoy! 🙂

0A Perfect Playlist: What role does language play in your creative process/songwriting?

Halie Loren: I have recorded or performed songs in 8 different languages. I’d say that I am definitely a linguaphile! I love learning songs in many different languages and the creative avenues that this practice opens up. When I’m singing a song in a language I’m either unfamiliar with or far less comfortable with than my native tongue, my inner instrumentalist comes out to play—words feel more like sounds, which is a playful way to vocalize. I get out of my narrator-mind a bit. Of all the languages I sing in, I actually speak Spanish conversationally. I also speak a tiny bit of Italian and French, and know some phrases in all of the other languages I’ve performed. I wish I could say that I’m legitimately multi-lingual in a conversational or fluency sense… I guess I enjoy being able to live out at least a bit of that dream in my music!

APP: Your music is very popular in Japan, even reaching on the Billboard Japan Top 20 Jazz Albums chart! That’s amazing, congrats. Did this surprise you? You mentioned on social media that you did a week-long tour of Japan. What did you think?

0-1HL: It has indeed been a thrilling part of my musical life! Several of my albums have even had the honor of achieving #1 on the Billboard Jazz chart in Japan, and most of the albums I’ve released there (most distributed through Japan’s JVC Kenwood / Victor label) have remained in the Amazon Japan Top 10 in several chart categories. My Japanese fans have been really good to me. I’ve toured there ten times, including my most recent tour this past July, which was part of a lengthier summer tour (in support of my new album “From the Wild Sky”) that also included Korea, Canada, the US, France, and the UK. Japan is a really wonderful place to play music — the audiences there tend toward being extremely astute, appreciative music fans, and the venues are some of the most high-quality in terms of staff professionalism and sound equipment I’ve worked with  anywhere in the world.

APP: Who are some of your inspirations as an artist? Who have you been listening to lately?

HL: One of my biggest inspirations is Joni Mitchell — her songs and their quirky genius, her stylistic risk-taking, the way she seemed to follow her muse above all else, and her realness when talking about her career. She seems like a genuine person, and one that I’d really love to know, at that.

As for who I’ve been listening to lately, I’ve found myself on a nostalgia kick, and have been listening to a lot of 60’s and 70’s  songwriters that were the soundtrack to my life in my formative years… artists such as Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Nina Simone, John Denver, Simon and Garfunkel, and a lot of others.

APP: What do you hope people gain from your music?

p-1HL: I hope that people experience a moment of emotional connection in which they feel a little bit more in touch with their human-ness. I know that’s what music does for me. Sometimes we all need to hear something that allows us to fully feel whatever it is that we’re going through— music can sort of give us permission, if you will, to swim around in our internal experience and relish it, whether it’s a joyful or melancholic moment we’re having. I love that about art in general, and it’s what I hope mine carries to the listener as well.

APP: What has been the most difficult obstacle for you to overcome as an artist?

HL: Internal obstacles, for sure. I’m naturally a shy person — quite introverted by default — so putting myself in the spotlight to begin with was a very difficult challenge to overcome, and even now, after almost 20 years of being a professional performer, I find myself facing those moments where I feel intense internal resistance toward putting myself out there the way that artists are often required to do. Social media has definitely changed all of our expectations as to what being an artist is, and how accessible and public one needs to be to continue to do what they do. This ever-changing reality has been a catalyst for me to hone my skills and push through the discomfort, which is probably really good for me.

The flip-side of this part of my nature is that I feel like it really benefits the songwriter part of me, in that a lot of my life is lived internally, and I often spend my time observing the world around me and listening more than talking.

APP: Favorite song you’ve sung, written or both?

p-3HL: Talk about a tough question! I honestly can’t pinpoint one song that I could definitively declare is my “favorite”, as that shifts from performance to performance, from moment to moment… sometimes a song is just perfect for a particular time and place, and in that moment that song is my favorite. I will say that I am always in the mood to revel in the song “Feeling Good” — it puts me in a great head-space every time, and maybe that’s because it always makes me think of the nature places I love so much and grew up around in Alaska and Oregon… it fills me with a sense of magic and wonder. One of my self-penned songs that I am most in love with right now is “Noah” from my new album “From the Wild Sky”, mostly because that song has really helped me come to terms with letting go and allowing for change. There’s a lot going on in the world that is creating struggle for people — natural disasters, climate change, conflicts, geopolitics, and so much more — and, for me, this song speaks to that pain but hopefully acts as a salve as well.

APP: Dream artist to collab with?

Can I name a few? Picking just one seems impossible! My list would include Jamie Cullum, Sufjan Stevens, Paula Cole, Frank Ocean, and Natalia Lafourcade, among others. There are so many inspiring and amazing artists out there with whom I’d be honored to create!

Thanks, Halie!

 

Find Halie:

Website

Spotify

Twitter

 

Photos and some bio information courtesy of Halie Loren/White Moon Productions.

 

An Interview With Haley Johnsen

HaleyJ-108_web

Haley Johnsen

28-year-old singer-songwriter Haley Johnsen is a risk-taker. From landing herself a spot in the top 24 of American Idol Season 11, releasing her debut EP Through the Blue in 2015, and playing The Troubadour stage in Los Angeles, Haley refuses to let fear inhibit her success. Haley “is a one-of-a-kind voice with gusto and soul, and mesmerizing presence. One of the Pacific Northwest’s most individual up-and-coming acts,” according to her website. She has toured with Texas-based band The Wind and the Wave, Seattle-based band Gabriel Wolfchild and the Northern Light, Season 8 Winner of The Voice, Sawyer Fredericks, and is good friends with famed American Idol winner, Phillip Phillips.

Despite all of her amazing success over the years, Haley hasn’t always felt as confident in herself as she is today. Haley’s struggle with inner doubt and self-reflection helped her develop into the strong, kick-ass Indie-folk singer we know and love today.

A Perfect Playlist: Tell me a little bit about how you got started. How long have you been singing?

Haley Johnsen: I would say the first official age I began singing was around 3 years old when I first watched The Little Mermaid. Throughout my youth, you might have found me singing in a closet so no one in my house could hear me. I was painfully shy and didn’t want anyone to know I could sing. As I got older and warmed up to the idea, I began singing in my college A Capella group and Chamber Choir, and from that point on, I continued to develop my voice as a professional singer-songwriter.

ppAPP: You were a contestant on American Idol and ended up making it to the top 24! That’s amazing. Tell me a little bit about that experience and how it shaped you as an artist.

HJ: Being on American Idol was a game changer for me. I was so terrified each time I made it through an audition, but the adrenaline was enough to make me realize that I was in it to win it. I had to overcome a lot of inner doubt and I worked as hard as I possibly could to prepare for each performance. Being on the show was one of the most fun, terrifying, and life-changing times in my life. It made me realize how much singing and music means to me, and I began to realize I have a responsibility to myself and the rest of the world to do something with the voice I was given. (Right: Haley and American Idol winner Phillip Phillips.)

Click here to watch a bit of Haley’s American Idol journey!

APP: Who are your influences?

HJ: Brandi Carlile, Bonnie Raitt, Florence and the Machine, Eva Cassidy, Grace Potter, Aretha Franklin…I could name so many more! These are the women who inspired me to sing with power and grace. 

APP: What’s the story behind one of your most popular tunes, “Feel The Water?” 

HJ: “Feel the Water” first came to me during a guitar lesson with my bandmate. I created the chord progression and structure of the song, but it took me almost 3 months to put words to the tune. When I finally did, it’s almost as if it wrote itself. It was as if a voice in my head was telling me to believe in myself, so that’s what I wrote about. I expressed how it feels to be afraid to do something, and how much I had been struggling with being confident in myself. I had been feeling numb, and this song helped pull me out of that. I think now this song could be for others to reflect on what might be going on inside themselves, and what areas they are longing to be more courageous in.

APP: Where do you find inspiration to write music? Do you have a particular place you like to go, or any type of method that helps you think creatively?

HJ: I used to rent this little Airbnb Cabin in Hood River for a weekend at a time. I would go there by myself and just write for hour and hours and demo out my songs. I definitely need to be alone when I first begin to brainstorm ideas for a song.

APP: Do you have a pre-show ritual?

HJ: I always warm up my voice for at least 20 minutes. Sometimes if I really need to pump myself up, I’ll do a few pushups to get the blood flowin’. I always take a moment to breathe, close my eyes, and check in with myself. I give myself a little pep talk and say “Hey, you’re awesome. You got this.” I think centering myself before going on stage always helps me stay grounded during the performance.

    

APP: What has been your favorite venue to perform in?

HJ: My favorite venue I’ve played so far was The Troubadour in Los Angeles. Artists like Elton John and Joni Mitchel got their start in the music industry by playing there, and it was just such an honor to stand where so many other legends had performed.

APP: What do you hope fans will derive from your music?

HJ: I hope that my music speaks to those who need to hear it. A lot of my music is just me working through something, telling myself I just need to take the risk and believe. So many people don’t pursue their passions because they don’t think they can do it or it feels too unfamiliar and scary. I believe that tapping into your creative self, no mater how “successful” you are in it, is the most important thing we can do for ourselves. I want to inspire that.

APP: If you could perform a duet with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

HJ: I would perform a song with Florence and the Machine. She just seems like such a fun and sweet person to be around, but she is also such a force of nature on stage. She’s not afraid to wail. Singing a powerful ballad or something with her would be a dream.

APP: “When You Lit The Sky” is your latest record, as it just came out this August. (Love it, by the way.) Is there a particular track on that album that is close to your heart?

My last track “Carry On.” This song came to me 3 days after the Pulse Night Club Shooting. I was feeling very distraught and just wanted to write something that was comforting to me. I strived to convey the idea and possibility that we are all stronger together when we show empathy. I want everyone to know that they are not alone, and that we need to show our love and compassion for one another now more than ever. 

 

Follow Haley:

Spotify

Website

Instagram

All photos are courtesy of Haley’s website/social media.

An Interview with Higuera

group

Higuera

Higuera is a five-piece alternative band from California who formed in 2013. They’ve played numerous shows along the West Coast in venues ranging from The Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle to a California house show in the middle of nowhere. Vocalist and main songwriter Valley Taylor says Higuera is committed to creating genuine, quality records: “no hype, no bullshit and writing and playing music for the sake of music,” he says. Taylor, who has always been passionate about music, went from working as a pastor in North Carolina to becoming the lead songwriter and creator of Higuera. I chatted with him about this experience, inspiration behind his songs, and more.

A Perfect Playlist: Tell me a little bit about how the band got started.

Higuera: Well, the band actually formed back in 2013 after I got divorced. I moved from San Luis Obispo, CA to Los Angeles and started a band called “thrdvsn” with some people I had met on twitter. After a few years of altering the line-up, style, and manager of the band, we finally settled on our current sound and name “Higeura.”

trippy

APP: How would you describe your sound?

We’re currently working on our first full length album, and our producer Sam Pura (he’s worked with bands such as The Story So Far, Basement, and State Champs) said that a majority of the songs have a “Cowboy Bebop” vibe to them. Since I write all the songs and then present them to the band, they all start in a very folk singer-songwriter-like style and then evolve a bit as the rest of the band contributes.

APP: Who in the music industry inspires you?

H: I’ve spent most of my time deeply embedded in religion in the past, so I didn’t listen to anything but contemporary Christian music and instrumental bands until I left home for  Bible College, ironically enough. Because of my musical upbringing, I don’t really have a lot of friendly sentiment towards most of the music industry and generally don’t feel inspired by any artists in particular. That being said, I really enjoyed the new Bon Iver album and Frank Ocean’s new music. I admire the work itself in making an album more than anything.

16472890_563336280526398_6381675691072392291_nAPP: Where do you see the band in 5 years time?

Hopefully similar to where we are now, but with more of a platform. I hope to be touring with bands I enjoy and have my tracks featured in more TV shows and movies.

APP: Thoughts on this year’s Grammys? Best performance this year, in your opinion?

I totally didn’t even watch the Grammy’s this year or last year. I think 2013 was the only year I’ve ever watched them. I did, however, watch Lady Gaga KILL the halftime show at the super bowl if that counts.

APP: I love your song “Thermopylae.” Tell me a little bit about it–what was the inspiration?

twoH: I wrote that song while I was working as a pastor out in North Carolina. It was a really good time for me. I had just gotten off a 6 month long road trip, and I was loving the idea that freedom is nothing more than a ball and chain that costs so much. The song is about how you really just have to let go of everything in order to truly be free.

APP: What do you hope fans will get out of your music?

H: I’m hoping fans will be inspired by my music to go out and accomplish all the crazy dreams they can think of. I’d also like for people to reevaluate the situations that life throws at us as they listen. Often times, I write from unique perspectives that I’ve spent years observing various lifestyles to gain insight into.

APP: You mentioned you’re working on a new record. Do you have a release date set for that?

H: We’ve been living and working at The Panda Studios in Fremont, Ca working on our first full length since Halloween of 2016. We’re hoping to have the album finished by April, but we are really taking our time on this.

panda

~

All photos are from the band’s Instagram.

Check out Higuera here:

Soundcloud

Instagram

Facebook

An Interview With Samantha Preis

Samantha Preis

13268214_10154868481002785_1360161700995285125_o-1

Samantha Preis, a London-based singer-songwriter, has been described as possessing a “soulful,” “introspective,” and simply “captivating” voice. Her songwriting depicts stories of the complex vision surrounding the human condition, and simply every day life–from heartbreak, the art of letting go, and discovering yourself as an individual, Samantha’s music has begun its journey across the globe–from her home base in London, to the U.S., Middle East and beyond. Her latest single, “Lost For Me,” is available on all music streaming sites, as well as her debut album Good News, which was released in 2013.

A Perfect Playlist: How would you describe your sound?

Samantha Preis: Others have described me as sounding Pop/Jazz/Folk, or compared me with artists such as Norah Jones, Laura Nyro, Kate Bush, Tori Amos, etc.

APP: Yeah, your voice reminds me of Norah Jones mixed with a bit of Florence and the Machine. Who are a few of your influences when it comes to your unique style?

SP: The Beatles, Michael Hedges, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Steely Dan, Jethro Tull, Debussy, Jobim, Burt Bacharach, Django Reinhardt, Frank Sinatra, Gershwin, Bill Evans…. all jazz really… a lot of music from the 60’s and 70’s… I could go on and on!

APP: Tell me a little bit about your latest single, “Lost For Me.” What’s the story behind that song?

14103046_10155138998692785_8518785252139624427_o

SP: The song is about an individual venturing into the unknown, armed with very little except memories of people and experiences that have shaped her. These things help guide her through her journey. I feel that people and experiences in our lives stay with us far after they are physically gone and give us direction and meaning.

APP: Favorite gig you’ve ever done?

SP: Cafe Universel – a jazz bar in Paris’ Latin Quarter – it’s a small, intimate venue where true art-lovers come to feel something.

APP: That sounds wonderful. What advice can you give to young artists who are looking to begin songwriting?

SP: Play what you feel. Write for yourself, not for anyone else.

14425485_10155266801802785_6275809722654663357_oAPP: There is a theory that songs are just waiting to be written–we are constantly surrounded by them in a sense, and songwriters pin them down, capturing their story in the form of a song. If one artist doesn’t claim the song, someone else will. Do you agree with that theory? What is your songwriting process?

SP: I don’t believe songwriting is a competition. A lot of songwriters seem to feel like they need to write a song a day, or that the more songs they write, the more likely one of them will become a “hit.” I am not that way. I write when I am inspired to. I may go months without writing a song, or a very long time without feeling the desire to play at all. I have found that my best material comes in spurts and is often unplanned– it’s almost as if I am channeling something in the room that comes through me… like TV air waves!

APP: What records have you been listening to/loving lately?

SP: Loving everything by Kings of Convenience – totally brilliant. Also Chad Vangaalen is fascinating.

APP: What has been your biggest accomplishment so far in terms of your musical career?

14115625_10155172245002785_3697200637170627119_oSP: I love putting out the most honest work I possibly can. I was very proud to release my first album Good News in 2013.

APP: If you could bring back one artist from the dead to perform with, who would it be and why?

SP: David Bowie or Prince, possibly. I feel they both supported the idea that there are no rules in art. They created music/art they truly believed in, even when it may have been seen as unusual. People loved them for it because it was honest and real and their enthusiasm for what they did was contagious.

APP: Anything else you’d like to say to the readers of A Perfect Playlist?

SP: Love yourself. Love what you do. Keep on rocking in the free world 😉

good-news

Find Samantha here:

Website

Twitter

Spotify

An Interview with ROMES

header

ROMES

Jacob Bitove (lead vocals), Nick Bitove (drums), Andrew Keyes (bass), and James Tebbits (guitar) make up this four-piece soul-pop band, who all met while attending school in Wicklow, Ireland. After moving to Toronto last year, ROMES was born. They’ve worked with some incredible names in the industry, including Grammy-nominated music producer Tony Hoffer, who has produced albums for legends such as The Kooks and Beck. Additionally, The Guardian has compared ROMES to iconic bands such as The 1975, Years & Years and Duran Duran. The guys find their inspiration through a variety artists like Stevie Wonder and Drake, and are even pals with Irish singer-songwriter Hozier. (Who is one of my absolute favorite artists!) After seeing Hozier’s recent tweet about Romes, I reached out to them for a little interview. Read on to hear what the guys have to say about their debut EP, their dream venue to perform in, and more!

A Perfect Playlist: Tell me a little bit about yourselves, and how the band got started.

Romes: We had been playing music together in various arrangements for over 10 years. Then, last year, we realized there was a special chemistry between just the four of us…so we started ROMES and got cracking on writing our EP. We’ve been friends for so long now, it’s almost like a family.

APP: How would you describe your sound?

R: We’re 2 cups of raw energy with 1 cup Pop; a pinch of electronics, infused with 2oz of soul; garnished with some RnB.

Hozier tweetAPP: What’s your relationship with singer-songwriter Hozier? I saw that he posted about you on social media praising your debut EP. (See left!) How did that feel?!

R: We’ve been friends since we were wee lads. It was very good of him to tweet about the EP. He’s as sound as he is gorgeous!

APP: What’s your favorite song off Believe, your debut EP?

R (Jacob): The song “Believe.” It has a strong place in my heart. It was written from past experiences I’ve had when people doubted my life choices, my dreams, my goals, and my passion. I got fed up, and wanted to finally stand up for myself. The only way to do that for me was to write….and “Believe” was the result. Have patience and positivity and you’ll always shine through.

APP: I really love the track “When The Night Comes” on your EP. Is there a story behind that song?

EPR: We were fascinated with the idea of having very minimal and sparse verses with mainly drums and three-part harmonies, and contrasting that with a huge explosive chorus. “When The Night Comes” was the result of that. Sexy and tasteful was the mission for this one.

APP: Who are a few artists in the industry today that inspire you?

R: Most of them have passed away, sadly. But those still alive – Drake, Andre 3000, Lauryn hill, Stevie Wonder…. There are too many to list them all.

APP: Are you planning to tour anytime soon? Dream venue?

We’ll be touring later this year, but nothing that’s been announced at this time. Stay tuned. We would love to get back to Ireland and play the Olympia in Dublin.

APP: If you could bring back one artist from the dead, who would it be, and why?

R: The late Prince and David Bowie. Two terrible losses to the the world of pop music this year. Oddly enough, their deaths brought us closer to their music and made us want to see them each play one last gig. May they Rest in Peace.

APP: What was the last text you sent?

R: What happens on Whatsapp stays on Whatsapp… 

APP: Anything else you want to say to readers of A Perfect Playlist?

R: Shout out to A Perfect Playlist for reaching out to us and showing an interest in our music. It’s been a pleasure answering your questions!

Thanks, guys!

singing

Find ROMES below!

Website

YouTube

Twitter

Spotify