An Interview with Halie Loren

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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.

 

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LISTEN UP: Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges in concert

When I first heard “Coming Home” by Leon Bridges, I assumed he was a 50’s singer. His smooth, Sam Cooke-esque vocals mixed with some killer guitar riffs, doo-wopping backup singers and sprinkled-in saxophone solos make his debut album sound like something straight out of a 1950’s diner jukebox. (Photo on the left by: digboston)

26-year-old soul singer Leon Bridges burst onto the music scene after signing with Columbia Records in December of last year. Before that point, he worked as a dishwasher in Fort Worth, Texas, while occasionally performing at small, open-mic gigs around his city. Things have only gotten crazier for Leon since being discovered last year. After signing with Columbia, Leon played gigs all over Texas, supported singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten in NYC, received the award for Top 10 Most Viral Track on Spotify for his debut single, “Coming Home” (which is amazing, by the way), and he is planning to continue playing numerous shows around the world over the next few months.

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Photo by Julio Enriquez

It’s so refreshing to see artists like Leon succeeding in the music industry today. With a truly retro voice and style, Leon sings straight from the heart. I love that he’s reviving a nostalgic genre of music in a way that’s captivated a young audience–teenagers (as well as adults) all around the world are swooning over Leon’s silky-smooth harmonies, vintage-inspired Instagram posts, and dance-worthy choruses.

Leon’s beautiful song “Lisa Sawyer,” which he wrote about his mother and her life story, was key in jumpstarting his music career. After its release on SoundCloud last year, the song hit 800,000 views and sparked the interest of more than 40 record labels.

With influences like Arthur Alexander, Sam Cooke, & Otis Redding inspiring him everyday, Leon’s songwriting centers around personal experience. I love this quote from  from his recent chat with interviewmagazine.com: “In the beginning, I was so inspired by the music. I had the option to make something modern with classic undertones, but I wanted to make something that was exactly like that old sound. Of course, it’s going to come out in my own way because I have R&B influences, but it’s cool how my songwriting works out; a lot of the time, I’m not writing just classic-sounding songs, but songs that come from experience. Look at “Brown Skin Girl,” a song I wrote about my ex-girlfriend, or “Twistin’ & Groovin,'” which is about my grandparents. I love the pioneers like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, but when I write music, it comes out in my own way. ”

(Make sure to check out the full interview here!leon-album-cover)

My favorite tracks on Coming Home are “River” (the guitar intro & chorus are so lovely), “Coming Home” (Leon nails the perfect retro music video with this one) & “Better Man.”

Find Leon Bridges below, and make sure to get yourself a copy of his debut album, “Coming Home.”

 

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YouTube

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An Interview with Demi Louise

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Demi Louise

Demi Louise is a 20-year-old, unsigned, singer-songwriter from Australia who is making her mark on the music world. From touring with Kodaline, to winning the Australian Songwriters Association Pop Song Of The Year award, Demi’s voice is being heard around the globe. I caught up with Demi in a recent email interview, and we chatted about her inspirations, career on YouTube, what she ate for breakfast, and more!

A Perfect Playlist: How would you describe your sound?

Demi Louise: I describe my sound as folk/pop. My music is acoustic-based and something you can listen to on a Sunday walk.

APP: I love your debut single, “Ruins.” Tell me a little bit about it. What’s the story behind the song?

10934003_905493582804409_1990180738067107794_nDemi: Thank you so much! “Ruins” is written about my grandparents’ relationships. Both my grandfathers were diagnosed with Dementia at the end of 2013, and it was a really hard time for my family. The concept of “Ruins” came about because it felt like a symbol of what was happening to their minds and the relationships being affected by it.

You love someone your whole life and watching their minds crumble as they become less of themselves is a hard thing, but beautiful at the same time (like ruins are) where you can elicit a whole new love in a relationship because of it.

So that’s what “Ruins” is about. The lyrics ‘we were in love once you know’ is about my grandfathers’ memories of knowing they were in love once and even though they may not always recognize that now, they always remember that the love they shared with my grandmothers was greater than any other–even amongst all the confusion.

APP: Tell me what it was like opening for Gabrielle Aplin & Kodaline last July! Kodaline is one of my favorite bands. So cool you got to hang out with them.

Demi: Ah it was amazing, as you can imagine! I got to perform with Gabrielle Aplin through an online competition she was running, which was amazing. She’s so lovely and the show was the biggest I have ever done–over 2,000 people was crazy! And such a prestigious venue as well…Nottingham Rock City.

Kodaline I got to meet through one of my YouTube covers–and it was SO amazing. The show was sold out at Whelan’s in Dublin and the venue was so Irish. It was so fun!  Kodaline are incredible live. It was so great meeting them and just hanging out after the show, too.

APP: What’s it like being a young, up-and-coming musical artist in Australia? Was it difficult to get started? Tell me a bit about how your career in music took off.

201592_205481526138955_1399331_oDemi: It’s so fun! I just love every second of life, and I’m so lucky to have the experiences I have had. Australia is a long way away from the rest of the world, but I love that there is a turning focus on our industry at the moment. It makes it a special place to be a part of.

I started my music career really organically, to be honest. I began writing songs as soon as I started learning guitar. I never played covers… it was always about writing. I had always written poetry, so it was a natural progression when I started learning guitar. Then my parents encouraged me to go and start playing open mics– from there I started to get bookings, and then I started doing the whole YouTube thing!

I was really lucky when my manager came on board at the end of 2013–he has truly changed my life and it’s hard to believe we have only been working together for a year. Before that I really had no idea what to do in order to move forward in the industry, but now I feel more confident and I’m constantly learning!

APP: Who were your influences when you were younger, and who are they now?

Demi: When I was younger, my mum and dad always had music on, but neither of them are musicians. Mum was really into country, so maybe that’s where I got songwriting from. I think Colbie Caillat was who I listened to a lot when I was 16 and when I started playing guitar. So she shaped my sound a bit to start with!

My influences now are so broad. I listen to so much music. I love the singer-songwriter scene, and listen to a lot of Ed Sheeran, James Bay, Hozier, etc. But  I love pop, too. I just try and explore all those avenues.

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APP: What has been your greatest achievement so far?

Demi: I would say my greatest achievement would be the song that I co-wrote on the APRA-AMCOS Songhub with Joe Killington and Neil Athale. It’s called “Rivers Run To Red.” It was my first ever cover, and it was released by Charley-Ann who won the German Voice. It also won me my first award at the Australian Songwriters Association. It got Pop Song of the Year which was INSANE!

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APP: Are there any women in the music industry that really inspire you?

Demi: Yes! To be completely honest, Taylor Swift has to be one of THE most inspiring women in the industry. She has an open nature in all aspects of herself as I do (she writes songs about real-life situations) and she has a team around her who completely understand what she is trying to accomplish. I believe it’s because she knows how to communicate with people to take control of what she is doing. She hasn’t been taken in a direction that isn’t convincing, and that is very powerful for a woman in this industry. I think she’s great.

APP: I love your acoustic EP, “Songs From My Bedroom.” What’s your favorite song off that album?

IMG_6151Demi: I would say probably “Mood For Love,” purely because of the reaction I get when I play it–people seem to really like it. And even though I feel like I have grown up 10000000% since I wrote that song, there is something about it that is so simple. I can remember writing it so vividly. (Right: Demi with singer & YouTube star Troye Sivan.)

And finally…

APP: What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Demi: Smoothie with banana, cacao, almond milk, dates and spirulina!

APP: Who was your first celebrity crush?

Demi: HANSON!

APP: Favorite candy/dessert from when you were a kid?

Demi: It was, and always will be…chocolate.

11230223_968808159806284_3793851648435827058_nThanks, Demi!

Find Demi:

YouTube

Twitter

Website