An Interview with Little Comets

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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?

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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…

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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.

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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:

 

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8 Songs That Will Trigger the Deepest Depths of Your Memory

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Lately, there’s been a genre of posts going viral on Instagram/Twitter that feature pictures of old games, toys, movies, and TV shows from the childhoods of late millennials like me. People typically comment on them, saying: “woah, this just triggered the deepest depths of my memory.” These kind of posts inspired today’s blog post! I compiled a list of 8 songs that were a big hit on the radio a decade or so ago. You’ve probably forgotten about most of them, but you’ll remember as soon as you press play.

1. “Barely Breathing” by Duncan Sheik

This song was released in 1996, but I remember hearing it on the radio in the early 2000’s on the way to school. It was the first single off the debut, self-titled record by American singer-songwriter and composer, Duncan Sheik. Originally, it was a last-minute track added to the album to finish the record, but the song ended up becoming Sheik’s breakout hit, entering the top 20 of the U.S. Billboard charts, peaking at #16, and remaining on the chart for 55 weeks. It even landed him a Broadcast Music Incorporated Award for Most Played Song of the Year. Since then, Duncan has focused more on composing. In 2016, he wrote the music and lyrics to the Broadway musical version of American Psycho. I heard this song in Trader Joe’s last week, and was instantly transported to 2006.

2. “Boston” by Augustana

This song was released in 2005 on Augustana’s debut record, All the Stars and Boulevards. It’s been used in quite a few TV shows, like Scrubs, One Tree Hill and The Big Bang Theory. Since then, the band split and reformed again in 2012. In August of 2016, Augustana’s social media sites changed their names to “Dan Layus,” which is the name of the founding member and lead singer/songwriter of the band. Their most recent record was released in 2016.

3. “Porcelain” by Moby

Moby, an American electronica musician, released this song as the sixth single from his fifth studio album Play in 2000. According to his website, “Its melancholic lyrics describe the break-up of a relationship based on Moby’s own reflections on past romantic affections. The song incorporates reversed string samples and piano rhythms into its instrumentation.” Moby’s real name is Richard Melville Hall. His middle name and his nickname/stage name, “Moby,” were given to him by his parents because of a distant ancestral relationship to famous author Herman Melville, who wrote Moby Dick. He was Hall’s great-great-great-grand uncle!

Fun fact: the song samples the song “Fight For Survival” from the 1960 film Exodus.

4. “Right Here Right Now” by Jesus Jones

This song, by British alternative dance band Jesus Jones, was released in 1990 on their album Doubt. It was semi-successful in the UK, but ended up being more successful in the U.S.–it reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July of 1990. It was even named the most played song on college radio in 1991! Jesus Jones is set to release a new record this coming April.

5. “Take a Picture” by Filter

This song, by American rock band Filter, was released in November of 1999 on their sophomore album Title of Record. In the beginning of 2000, it peaked at number 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Lead singer of Filter, Richard Patrick, has said that the song is about him getting drunk on an airplane and taking off all of his clothes. The band split in 2003, then reformed in 2007. They are currently working on a new record, but haven’t set a release date yet. I remember playing this song with my friends in middle school on the old video game “Band Hero.” 🙂

6. “Satellite” by Guster

This song landed Guster their first gold record just last year. It’s the second single from their 2006 album, Ganging Up on the Sun, which received a lot of radio play, but didn’t quite make it up on the charts. (I love the album artwork for this record.) I remember my local radio stations playing it a lot as a kid. Guster just released their a new record, Look Alive, in January of this year.

7. “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega, DNA

“Da da da duh, doo da-doo doo…” …That one lyric that gets stuck in your head every time you hear it.

This song was released in 1981, originally written by American singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega. The track was then remixed by British group DNA, which shot it up onto the charts. The song’s title and story is based off of Tom’s Diner in New York City, located on the corner of Broadway and 112th Street. (You may recognize it from Seinfeld.) “Tom’s Diner” been sampled in a ton of tracks since, like Fall Out Boy’s “Centuries,” and The Black Eyed Peas’ “Wings.”

8. “Hey Sandy” by Polaris

Were you a fan of Nickelodeon’s The Adventures of Pete & Pete? (It first aired in 1989.) If so, you might recognize this one–it was used as the opening theme song for the show. Polaris, which was a band specifically commissioned and formed to create music for the show, released just one album during their time together in 2002, simply titled Music From the Adventures of Pete & Pete. (I highly recommend this album, by the way…there are some killer tracks on it that make me wish they were still a band!)

Fun fact: The intro to the song features a sound bite by actor Sorrell Booke. In the clip, he  discusses U.S. missiles designed during the Cold War. This sound bite is from “To The Moon: A Time-Life Records Presentation,” an 1969 audio recording about the first moon landing.

 

What songs did you remember? Tweet me!

College & Local Radio is RAD!

KWVA_905As many of you may already know, I have a passion for radio. When I was a junior in high school, I visited my (now) college campus for the first time, and I was immediately drawn to the student-run radio station, KWVA. I loved the idea of a community of like-minded, music-obsessed students talking about/ playing what they love on the air.

The station, at the time, a small hole-in-the-wall studio that was once a women’s bathroom, was covered in stickers and band posters. Promo CDs were scattered among stacks of cassette tapes and vinyl, and hipster-looking students rushed in and out of the studio, welcoming me with giant smiles. I knew I had to get involved.

giphyI’ve been a part of my college radio station for 2 years now, and I will be heading into my last year in the fall. (That’s me in the studio on the right!) Since my first visit, the studio has expanded and moved to a shiny new space in the student activities center, located at the heart of campus. While on my summer break from school, I haven’t strayed far from the radio biz. I’m interning with the Portland Radio Project, a local radio station in Portland. I’ve met so many cool DJs, learned about some crazy talented local artists, and made some great connections.

According to Pitchfork, “college radio can reflect what local broadcasting should strive for: freeform programming that’s community organized and unentangled in market-based obligation. It is also a continually replenishing talent pool for the industry at large, and every part of the musical ecosystem can count former college radio DJs among their staff” (2017).

Both student-run and local, community radio provides music-lovers and radio enthusiasts the opportunity to think outside of the box. It’s an outlet for up-and-coming artists to receive recognition, listeners to be exposed to new genres, and a place for community members to share their music knowledge on the air without corporate involvement. This is how it should be when it comes to sharing the music we love!

According to FRG, “community and local radio stations focus on local areas they are an opportunity to give the community a voice. Community Radio Station’ staff are usually volunteers, and they are nearly always not-for-profit organizations. Funding is mostly given through donations or would incorporate fundraising in the form of events, pub quizzes and advertising.”

Kirsten at KATUKirsten Nicolaisen, a Portland-based journalist working in the social media and digital world of TV news, is a KWVA alumn and DJ at the Portland Radio Project! (We have a lot in common.) 🙂 Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Kirsten made her way north for school where she spent four years working at KWVA Eugene. From production assistant, to DJ, to eventual News Director, Kirsten wore a number of hats at KWVA. A stint at Oregon Public Broadcasting brought her to Portland, which she now calls home. Now, Kirsten  works at KATU News. (Photo to the right.)

kirsten at KWVA“My favorite memories from KWVA are late nights and early mornings spent in the studio” Kirsten says. “KWVA was my library, my office space, my living room, and my little world tucked away down a long hallway at the student activities center. I loved diving into the music library in the wee hours of the morning when I first started DJ-ing during the Tuesday 4-6 AM shift, and sticking around afterward to catch up on school work… constantly distracted by all the messages and jokes scribbled on the walls. It was in those quiet hours that my love of music, radio and media truly blossomed.” (Left: Kirsten in the KWVA studio as a student.)

Kirsten believes that local radio stations like PRP provides music fans with the most unique music and best radio-listening experience.

“Without stations like PRP, I believe many talented local musicians would not have the platform to properly showcase their work. I feel lucky to be a part of a growing force in the local music community!” she says.

College and local radio is pretty rad. Let’s help keep it alive!

2014/365/351 On The Air At CFBX

Summer Spins

Summer is here again! I’m super excited to be interning with The Portland Radio Project during the next few months, a non-profit radio station in Portland committed to showcasing local artists and supporting small businesses. I’ll be doing graphic design and social media work for PRP, which I’m stoked about!

Meanwhile, I’ve been listening to a lot of new music. Listen along below.

Albums

51xW1wRspzL._SS500Twin Shadow: Caer

I discovered this album by chance on Spotify, and I’m so glad I did! With a sound similar to artists like Flume and ODESZA, lead singer George Lewis Jr. has an intriguing voice. It is often complimented by quirky instruments like synthesizers.

You may recognize a few other voices on this record, such as band HAIM and singer-songwriter Rainsford. By far, my favorite track on the record is “Too Many Colors,” mostly because of the super cool intro. When you first listen to the song, it’s easy to mistake it for a children’s song or something straight out of Disney–a xylophone dominates the beginning of the track, which then leads into the first verse.

bridge_leon_goodthing_101bLeon Bridges: Good Thing

This record came out just last month, but I already know every lyric. 🙂 Before the release of this sophomore album, Leon teased us with a little taste of what was to come. He released his two singles, “Bad Bad News” and “The Bet Aint Worth The Hand” back in March. Surprisingly enough, I’d say that the rest of the record is pretty different from these two tracks, though! Through a healthy mix of blues, jazz and soul, Good Thing is a compilation of Leon’s stories: forgiving someone who broke his heart, his mother and her childhood (a continuation of the last record), and the moment he realized he may have found the girl of his dreams. Overall, I think this record is so beautiful–my favorite tracks are “Forgive You,” “Beyond,” and “Mrs.”

Leon will be on tour this summer! See if he’s coming to your city here.

the-search-for-everything-b-iext48856379John Mayer: The Search For Everything

John released his newest single, “New Light,” just last month, and paired it with a HILARIOUS music video. He hired a low-budget Bar Mitzvah video company to produce it. As a result, the video features John singing in front of a variety of incredibly cheesy backdrops matched with wacky transitions. Through out the video, John dances awkwardly in  a pair of dad-esque, purple striped pants and a torn sweatshirt. If you’re in need of a good laugh, watch the video here.

The Search For Everything was released not long before this single. The record follows John’s traditional style of ballads and bops, my favorites being “Still Feel Like Your Man,” “Emoji Of a Wave,” and “In The Blood.” This is one of those albums that anyone who’s ever been in a relationship (and experienced its end) can relate to–you can cry to this record, belt to it, or dance, depending on the song. That’s one of John Mayer’s many talents–he produces a a versatile style of tunes that can fit any mood.

Singles

the-1975-give-yourself-a-try-1527789760-640x640The 1975: “Give Yourself A Try”

On Friday June 1, The 1975’s much-anticipated new single,”Give Yourself A Try” was released. During my 10 am lecture that morning, I snuck out my earbuds and tuned into the premiere on Capital FM, London’s most popular radio station. Obviously, I loved the track immediately. It strays pretty far from the band’s usual style–with repetitive, biting electric guitar laying down the foundation of the song.

“Give Yourself a Try” describes Matty Healy’s (lead singer) experience of “getting spiritually enlightened at 29,” dealing with a drug addiction over the past few years: “And you’ll make a lot of money, and it’s funny, ’cause you’ll move somewhere sunny and get addicted to drugs,” and subtle views on politics: “I found a grey hair in one of my zoots…like context in a modern debate, I just took it out.”

De0tQzKU8AAmJQdDespite what many fans thought, The 1975’s new record didn’t drop on June 1. 😦 Instead, the band released this new single and announced the beginning of a new “era” of music for the band, known as the “Music For Cars” era. The new album, set to release in October 2018, will be titled “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships.”

Naturally, being the super-fan I am, I threw a The 1975-themed party with my friends to ring in the new era! I covered my apartment with pink, black and white themed decorations, as well as provided The 1975-themed games and snacks (pink Starbursts, pink glowing balloons, pink Goldfish crackers, black and white napkins and silverware, The 1975 album-themed cupcakes, and a game of Pin-The-Tat-On-The-Matty.)

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Betty Who: “All Things” (From Queer Eye)

This is my go-to feel-good song for the summer. This single is a cover of the opening theme for my favorite show on Netflix right now, Queer Eye, a reboot of the Bravo series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It features the new Fab Five: Antoni Porowski, food and wine expert; Tan France, fashion expert (my favorite!); Karamo Brown, culture expert; Bobby Berk, design expert and Jonathan Van Ness, grooming expert. In each episode, The Fab Five give straight guys across the country much-needed life, fashion, and home advice/makeovers. Queer Eye is incredibly touching, hilarious, and the Fab Five are beyond lovable. This song, covered by pop singer Betty Who, features Betty’s killer vocals, and the music video for it is EPIC, featuring all five guys!

a3462444518_10Florist: “Vacation”

I’m not entirely sure what it is I love so much about this song, but I’ve had it on repeat the past few days. “Vacation” is a combination of warm, childhood memories and the everyday thoughts of a girl going through life the best way she can. Through out the track, lead singer Emily Sprague sings about reminding herself of the good things in her life in the midst of finding herself. My favorite lyric is: “I don’t know how to be what I wanted to be when I was 5.” Everyone can relate to this line, and I think I speak for a lot of people when I say there are times when it feels like we’re simply coasting through life, unsure of what to do next. It’s easy to start wondering what the five-year-old version of yourself would think of who you are now, and whether or not they’d be happy with the things you’ve accomplished. Songs like “Vacation” are really important, because it reminds us that we aren’t alone in thinking these things. It urges us to examine the moments that have shaped us, and remember that every day we continue to grow and change. Another lyric I love is: “And at least I know that my mom is breathing when we talk on the phone. And at least I know that my house won’t burn down, down to the ground. Or maybe it will.”

Accept things that come your way, and never stop listening to music that means something to you.

Spring Tunes

Helloo! It’s been a while.

I’ve been incredibly busy these past few months, so I haven’t had much time to sit down to write a post. However, no matter how hectic things get throughout the school year as I drown in homework and activities, there’s always time for music.

Now that it’s spring, my favorite artists seems to have decided now is the time to release new music and mix up their sound–and I’m loving it. Check out what I’ve been listening to below!

Singles

leon-bridges-good-thing-620x620Leon Bridges: “Bad Bad News” & “Bet Aint Worth The Hand”

The release of these two new singles teases Leon’s fans with a tiny taste of what’s to expect from his upcoming album. Unsurprisingly, I love both of these tracks–especially “Bad Bad News.” It’s an innovative, jazz-alternative track featuring some killer bass guitar, sizzling drums and of course, Leon’s beautiful lyrics. Although the two singles he released are very different from the style of his debut album, Coming Home, released in 2016, the new tunes are still true to his sound and immensely unique.

album-packshotGeorge Ezra: “Pretty Shining People,” “Hold My Girl,” and “Saviour” (ft. First Aid Kit)

I’ve written a lot about George Ezra, an English singer-songwriter, podcaster and musician. He’s got a lot going for him right now–George started a podcast called “George Ezra and Friends,” last month, in which he’s interviewed some big-name artists like Ed Sheeran and Hannah Reid (London Grammar). They’ve chatted about their creative process, what they love about music, and more. Check it out here! “Pretty Shining People,” “Hold My Girl” and “Saviour” will all be featured on George’s upcoming album, Staying At Tamara’s, which is set to release on the 23rd of this month. I am particularly loving “Saviour,” right now. This haunting single features the band First Aid Kit, and the heartbreaking, repeated lyric that I love: “all of me is all for you, and what I have to give is not enough.”

James Bay: “Pink Lemonade”

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This single, which came out on March 7th, is incredibly different from anything James has ever released–especially considering the fact that his debut EP “The Dark Of the Morning” (2013) is all acoustic. Although he’s released Chaos And The Calm since then, a pop-alternative album featuring his most popular song, “Let It Go,” this single strays far from James’ usual style with its harsh electric guitar and a more gruff vocal style from James. Check out his SNL performance of “Pink Lemonade”  here!

Albums

a4082023118_10 Little Chief: Lion’s Den

One word to describe this record: cathartic. Little Chief is a folk band from the Ozark Mountains who are often compared to artists such as The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons and the Head and the Heart. The song “Lion’s Den” on the record is about mustering the strength to put your faith in things that are unseen, and let go of what may happen in the future. Every song on this album tells a story of perseverance, resilience, and finding peace in the most difficult moments.

HONNE: Warm On A Cold Nighta93acfc2563cf68c465f554ef956a292.970x970x1

I’m OBSESSED with the vocals on this album. Lead singer Andy Clutterbuck’s voice is low, hypnotizing and perfectly complimented by the backing guitar and piano on this record. My absolute favorite song right now is “It Aint Wrong Loving You.” A catchy, sweet pick-me-up tune.

Now Playing: Winter 2017

I’ve been listening to a lot of chilling (pun intended–it’s cold as heck outside) tunes lately, and I wanted to share a few of them with you. Enjoy, and please tweet me any suggestions you have!

Wolf_Alice_-_Visions_of_a_LifeWolf Alice: Visions Of a Life

I initially discovered this record when I saw Wolf Alice live for the first time in Portland a few months ago. I was immediately intrigued by lead singer Ellie Rowsell’s chilling voice–Courtney Barnett meets Dolores O’Riordan. My favorite tracks from the record are “Don’t Delete The Kisses” and “Planet Hunter.” I’ve been annoying my roommates by playing these two earworms over and over. Both tracks are drastically different from each other. One is a longing, soft ballad and the other is a loud, poem-esque sing-along that is guaranteed to get suck in your head. This album is fairly new–it was just released in September.

 

Kodaline: I Wouldn’t Be EP

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I’ve been obsessed with this EP, lately. Although it came out in October, I didn’t hear about it’s release until one of the tracks popped up on my Spotify recommended. And thank goodness it did, because I’ve had the track, “I Wouldn’t Be” on repeat, since. This little ditty is sung in the style of an Irish ballad–complete with bagpipes and bone-chilling harmonies. (Seriously, you’ve gotta listen to it.) The rest of the EP is fabulous as well. My other favorite is “The Riddle.” Truly some of Kodaline’s best work.

 

James McAlister, Bryce Dessner, Sufjan Stevens & Nico Muhly: Planetarium

Planetarium-web-1497014950Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching too much Stranger Things, complete with it’s excellent 80’s soundtrack. Or maybe because of my friends’ recent re-interest in The Police and Corey Heart…but for some reason, I am SO into synthesizers right now…and 80’s/ambient music in general. Which is why Planetarium has become a favorite of mine. The electric guitar solos, spacey riffs, unique tones, and  feedback included on each track makes the whole album quite an experience to listen to. My favorite tune by far on the record is “Mercury.” Check it out–each song is named after a planet.

 

Swimming Tapes: Soft Sea Blue EP

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The perfect study soundtrack. Chill, honeyed vocals paired with lush guitar tones. My favorite track off this EP, which was released in September, is “Allison.” Swimming Tapes, an up-and-coming U.K. band has only released two EPs and a few singles so far, and I’m super excited to hear what they do next!

 

 

 

Happy Holidays, music-lovers around the world. 🙂

An Interview With Haley Johnsen

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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. 

 

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