A Beautiful Song From Indie Artist Peta Mai, and One To Watch


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every now and again there’s an artist who’s music and voice

Indie Music Artists

grabs and demands attention. Peta Mai is a classical example of what made me want to begin Music Talks. 

Peta hails from Sydney, Australia and has performed with the likes of Keith Urban with country flavoured music.

Now Peta is about to release her beautiful song with a her great voice to match this Friday 4th October and available for pre-order now. 

 

This is one indie artist who’s music speaks for itself. 


Read the interview with Peta Mai.

 

Tracey: Hey Peta, so nice to cyber meet you, although we are in the same city! Do Perform gigs around Sydney?

Peta: Yes I do! In fact, I’ll be doing a single launch for Hell or High Water at Lazybones Lounge in Marrickville on Monday, 7th of October. You should come!

 

MT: Peta, your voice and singing style blows me away, who are you and where the hell have you been? How long have you been singing for?

Peta: Thank you so much! I’ve been floating around in a few different genre worlds – I used to be in a Pop-Country trio which informed my songwriting for a long time. ‘Hell or High Water’ is the first track I’m releasing that moves more into the realms of Pop/Soul.

 

MT: Did you study voice?

Peta: I’ve been getting vocal coaching since I was 7 – I still see a teacher now. I try to treat it like any other muscle in my body – it needs to be stretched and worked regularly!

 

MT: Do you play any other instruments?

Peta: I play guitar and dabble in a bit of piano.

 

MT:  Do you write all you own material? And do you collaborate with others?

Peta: I’m a firm believer that teamwork makes the dream work, but as of late, I’ve stripped the production line way back. I currently write most of my songs alone, (including HOHW) to give myself the best chance of honing in on what I want to say as a solo artist.

 

MT: Do you have a musical family?

Peta: Not at all! My mother is in the medical field, my dad in finance, and my brother is a chef!

 

Australian Singer

MT: Which artist/singer did you listen to while growing up?

Peta: I had several different CD’s growing up – I remember listening to The Corrs, Carole King, Dixie Chicks, Little River Band. As an adolescent I listened to John Mayer & Paramore.

 

MT: I’ve noticed you have shared the stage with one of Australia’s sons, Keith Urban, what is your connection with Country Music?

Peta: I wouldn’t consider myself a born & bred country gal, but the story-teller nature of Country music has always really moved me. I’ve considered myself to be a bit genre-ambiguous in the past, so I found myself in country music almost accidentally.

 

MT: Your new single, ‘Hell or High Water’ is just incredible. What inspired you to write this beautiful song?

Peta: I was going through a hard time when I wrote Hell or High Water – kind of strange seeing it comes across as an uplifting tune. I knew how to love someone else, but I’d forgotten how to show myself the same love. The take home message of Hell or High Water is that we are all flawed, but we are all worthy of being loved. I’m thankful I was able to tap into that sentiment with this tune.

 

MT: How did you go about writing ‘Hell or High Water’….Was it something that poured out?

Peta: It was one of those rare moments where lyrics and melodies seemed to roll off the tongue. I think it was buried inside me for a while waiting to come out. I started with piano, and then the lyrics and melody.

 

MT: Who produced ‘Hell or High Water’? Where was it recorded?

Peta: I took the song to a trusted friend and producer, Ryan Miller, who I’ve worked with before. I’m a big champion of Ryan. It’s like he doesn’t know how great he is!? He was so integral in taking the song to the next level and bringing the vision to life. It was all recorded in house with Ryan at Hercules Studios.

 

MT: When the song was nearing the completion stage, did you feel it had a certain quality or should I say, spark about it? And do you feel this song is different to others you have written?

Peta: Ryan & I are both very critical, so when we stopped having words to say about the song, we knew it was ready! I think it comes from a more mature space than my previous releases. Even though I realise it’s a life-long process, this song has made me feel closer to finding myself and my voice than anything else I’ve done.

 

MT: This could be the wedding song of the year! What are the plans from here, EP or Album perhaps?

Peta: At the moment I am taking it song by song – so I’ll likely release singles for a while. BUT, I am a big fan of an album as a body of work. I hope I’ll be working towards releasing an album soon!

 

MT: Will there be a music video for ‘Hell or High Water’?

Peta: Not at this stage, but there will be a lyric video, and a live performance!

 

MT: Will you be touring at all in Australia or any upcoming gigs we can catch you at?

Peta: Lazybones Marrickville on the 7th of October. Be there!

 

MT: Anything else you would like to mention?

Peta: Just a huge thanks for your kind words about Hell or High Water – I can’t wait for everybody to hear it!

Thank you so much Peta, and really looking forward to an album!

PRE-ORDER ‘Hell or High Water’

https://www.petamaimusic.com/

A Beautiful Song From Indie Artist Peta Mai, and One To Watch

Read last weeks review on Simon SaysHERE

 

 

 

Links To PETA MAI

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/51jhfyjq1B3X7mSGaSj5aO 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/petamaimusic 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/petamai/ 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqxkI_0pGKaduxIY2P788tQ

Aly Cook Gets ‘Caught In The Middle’ with Some Of Australia’s Finest Musicians

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Aly Cook Gets ‘Caught In The Middle’ with Some Of Australia’s Finest Musicians


Aly Cook is a New Zealand based Multi award-winning recording artist with a deep passion for all things musical. She is a consummate songwriter and performer, who has taken her music to the world, delighting audiences wherever she roams and carving a career as a respected live performer. She has used her vast entrepreneurial experience to crowd fund all of her recordings to date and also dedicated much of her life to furthering the careers of other independent artists. She has twice been a finalist for NEXT New Zealand Woman of the Year in 2011 & 2016 for her contribution to the Arts.

 

Country Singer

Although based in New Zealand Aly has had one foot either side of the Tasman for many years, touring the length and breadth of Australia as she has in her homeland.
While touring the East Kimberley region, her passion for ancient lands led her to write ‘Kimberley’ which was used in a TV promotion for the region and many songs of the country and its people have fallen from her pen. ‘Kimberley’ was a single from her sophomore album ‘Horseshoe Rodeo Hotel’ and was produced in New Zealand by Alan Jansson. The album entered the Top 40 Official New Zealand album charts and also enjoyed 6 number one hits on Australian independent airplay based charts.


The interview about the journey of Aly Cook’s album, ‘Caught In The Middle’.

 

Tracey: Hey Aly, great to have you back on Music Talks. Wow, the new album is almost here! Can you tell us what the first single off the album is about, ‘Red Dirt Road Trip’

 Aly: Over the Years I have travelled up and down and around Australia, across the Nullarbor in the 80’s, up to the Kimberley, out to Alice, and up to the far north of QLD.  I love the Red Dirt! We don’t really get it in NZ, those long Aussie road trips singing to songs on the radio. On my way to Mildura Country Music Festival and back I heard the song idea in my head, and then took the idea to Asquith, did that Bidstrup Cook Bidstrup writing thing and we had the song completely written in a couple of hours.  We have filmed a cool music video for this song out in Alice Springs.

 

MT: You do very well in your crowdfunding campaigns to help your funding for your music. Your upcoming album, ‘Caught in The Middle’; when is the due date for its release?

 Aly: The Album comes out in 3 stages with the pre-sale starting Friday 6th of September. ‘Steal Your Love’ becomes available on digital stores and then the iTunes pre-sale of the album begins. If you pre order the album you get ‘Steal Your Love’ as your instant gratification track. The Song ‘Steal Your Love’ is one of 3 covers on the album, which also has 9 originals. The song is by Lucinda Williams from her ‘Essence’ album.  Friday Sept 20th comes the first single ‘Red Dirt Road Trip’, and it’s video, then a week later ‘Caught in the Middle’s official release date is Friday 27th of September. My Birthday! It’s also the first day of Mildura Country Music Festival where I am performing for 10 days straight.

 

MT: If you couldn’t raise funds through crowdfunding to record, how else would you do so, and how important is it for an artist to have the support from their current fans? 

 Aly: Well I don’t know really.   I’ve only been able to record because of crowdfunding and pre-sales, and my crowdies, as I like to call them, mean heaps to me. They are more than people who buy my album. To me, they are true friends, as they support my being able to do my art, and we are a team. That is how I look at my crowdies x

 

MT: Do you feel extra pressure to do something extra special when so many people have contributed to the costs of making an album through crowdfunding?

Aly:  It’s a symbiotic relationship. I provide them with music and they enable me to make it… I hope everyone that listens to the tracks on ‘Caught in the Middle’ love them, and especially my crowdies, as they are part of this journey.  I now hope that more people come on board, buy the album and love what I do .

 

Album cover

MT: I’ve noticed there’s been a lot of attention around this particular album with some very well-known and respected musicians and producers involved. Can you tell us who has been involved in the making of ‘Caught in the Middle’?

Aly: Well it all starts with the song and the Bidstrup Cook Bidstrup writing team started 4 years ago, when I got the opportunity to go out to Mutitjulu near Uluru with Uncle Jimmy Thumbs up team. We were doing music with the Aboriginal Kids out there with Buzz Bidstrup. Most will know Buzz as a founding member of The Angels, he co-wrote one of their greatest hits with Doc Neeson, ‘No Secrets. Out in Uluru we wrote a song called Kulini and this started our writing together. Each trip to Australia I would stop in to Buzz and Kay Bidstrup’s house. (they are both founding members of Australian band GANGgajang ) and so began the journey of writing the album. There is also a co-write with friend Gold Guitar winner Allan Caswell on the album.  Buzz produced the album and recorded and mixed it with the very talented David Nicholas. David is amazing and his list of credits on many hit albums is huge including ‘Winner ARIA Producer & Engineer Of The Year’. He’s produced and or mixed some of the greatest Australian albums like INXS & Midnight Oil, also international tracks like Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, Sting #1 US Hit ‘All for One’ which he co-produced, engineered and mixed. Both Buzz and Dave have really given the love to my album and it’s been a complete honour to work with them. The musicians are just outstanding people and it has been a real privilege to have them play on this album. These include ..Members of the Tracking Crew,  Rick Melick on Keyboards, James Gillard on Bass Guitar, The Late Glen Hannah on Guitar, who tragically passed away during the making of the album, and Buzz Bidstrup who, apart from co-writing, played Drums, Percussion and Guitarlele also Clive Harrison on Bass, John Kaldor on Pedal Steel, George Washing machine on violin and Dean Ray on Acoustic Guitar. Also some vocals from Buzz and Kay, along with Jon Abo and a special guest appearance on two tracks from Sharon O’Neill.

 

MT: What keeps you going in music and who have been your biggest influences?

Aly: I love music, & musicians. I love people and nothing beats delivering the songs live,  knowing you are moving people and have them with you. That comes through honest delivery, something I strive for. I guess one of my biggest early influences was Neil Young. I had every Neil Young album, Fleetwood Mac, then Bonnie Raitt, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lucinda Williams etc.

 

MT: You travel and perform a lot between New Zealand and Australia, where has your favourite place to perform been to date that you remember well?

Aly: I think my fav gig would have to have been opening for Melissa Etheridge, REO Speedwagon and Huey Lewis & The News in Taupo NZ, performing in front of thousands of people is amazing, and the other would be with Buzz performing to raise funds for Uncle Jimmy thumbs up in 2015 at the Sydney Opera House.  My favourite venue is a little place in Golden Bay NZ called ‘The Mussel Inn’ where you can hear a pin drop when you play and its deemed to be cool to do your own material. Musicians get to stay in the owner’s log house at the back and Jane and Andrew’s craft beers and food is amazing.

 

MT: If there was one place you would love to visit and perform, where would that be?

Aly: That is a hard one … Dream Big …The Royal Albert Hall … with a whopping great Orchestra.  Apart from that I am grateful for every show I get to do anywhere. Especially festivals.

 

Single CoverMT: Getting back to your upcoming album; Do you have a favourite song, and why is this your favourite?

Aly: They change all the time. But I love ‘Hold Up Half the Sky’ because it’s a woman empowerment song. Another is  ‘Cold Wind’ that closes the album, written by Kay, as her inspiration after the death of Glen Hannah. It was very cathartic. Personally, delivering that song gave me closure over Glen’s death and allowed me to look at finishing the album. Celebrating his beautiful magical guitar work, that he left on these recordings, enabled me to focus in a positive way. Music is such a healing thing.

 

MT: What does this album mean to you?

Aly:  A deeply emotional journey. A lot has happened for me, on a personal level, during the writing and recording of this album. It’s all a reminder. While I was in Mildura about to take the stage, I was told that my son had been involved in a serious car accident back home in NZ. He’s left today with a paralysed lower leg from it. When I left Mildura, and drove to Buzz and Kay’s house, my son was in surgery and was for that entire 1000 Km drive. ‘Red Dirt Road Trip’ was partially written on that trip back.

Then Glen Hannah tragically dying, just a couple of weeks after the initial recording sessions for the album, really took the wind out of all of our sails. We were all so devastated it made it painful to listen to the work and complete the project. As a mother and a wife, I felt so much for his family. His death rocked many people in the Australian music industry.

 

MT: You mentioned the collaborations associated with the making of this album, one being the great Buzz Bidstrup who is one of Australia’s great musicians, songwriters and producers and has been a member of some very big Australian bands, namely, The Angels, The Party Boys and GANGgajang, as well as managing the likes of Jimmy Little and Nathan Cavaleri.

How do you know Buzz and what was it like working with him?

Aly: I kind of answered that one above but I am so honoured to be working with Buzz and this great team and to be on the SBD Label.

 

MT: How long did it take to record ‘Caught in The Middle’?

Aly: We wrote over a 3 year period and the recording was done in a week of sessions and then I returned for another week of minimal overdubs and recorded ‘Cold Wind.’

 

MT: How does it make you feel when you are hearing your songs nearing completion in the studio?

Aly: I am very proud of this body of work and feel pretty elated by the calibre of people I have had the privilege to work with and how they have laid their own beautiful magic on the tracks.

 

MT: How does this album differ to others you’ve recorded and released?

 Aly:  Well, quite different. I’ve been much more involved in the process on this one and the big difference is the recording with a live band. With my previous albums I laid down the vocal and guitar guide track and the tracks were built up while I was not there.  With ‘Caught in the Middle’ I recorded with excellent musicians live in isolated rooms, so we were laying down at the same time, no click track involved just to set the rhythm at the beginning of the song, and this really allows the music to breathe and be dynamic. We then chose which take had the best vibe and built on that track. What I wanted more than anything on this project, was for people to listen to my album, then see me perform live and feel that the recording was every bit the same as seeing me live. So it’s like I’m really in your lounge when you listen.  I think we achieved that and there is some lovely instrumental work. With that level of talent in the room you really want those people to shine and share their gift on your music.

 

MT: The indie music scene is so large, as an independent artist, what kind of team surrounds you and how important is it to have a small team?

Aly: This time, for the very first time, I am no longer on my own or just working with Therese.  The album is released on SBD Music which is a partnership between Buzz Bidstrup, Dave Nicholas, and Sebastian Chase, who is the owner of MGM Distribution, plus the team at MGM. I also have Therese McKee at Key 2 Artist promotions and Amy at Light Tree Media. For the first time I have someone really working on the branding, graphics and imagery. and my crowdies of course who help to get the word out about the album. I love my team x

 

MT: Will you be releasing any video clips from some of the tracks off the album?

Aly: Yes I think there are a good 3 to 4 singles at least off this album. ‘Red Dirt Road Trip’ being the first to launch on the 20th of September.

 

Single Cover

MT: Aside from the first single off the album, ‘Red Dirt 

Road Trip’, I believe you will be having a pre-release of an album track on the 6th September. What is this track and what is it all about?

Aly: Yes that is the 6th this Friday we release the pre-release track. This is an album track called ‘Steal Your Love’ which is one of the 3 covers on the album, this one being written by Lucinda Williams. It’s what you call an instant gratification track.

So this Friday 6th of September is the beginning of the ITunes pre sale for the album ‘Caught in the Middle’ and whoever pre-orders gets ‘Steal Your Love’ as their instant gratification track or the track off the album that they get straight way .

 

 

MT:  Is there anything else we should know about?

Aly: People can still order from my from my pre-sale crowd funder and get a signed CD from me here http://www.alycook.com.au/the-new-cd and hope you will love what you hear and add to spotify playlist and apple music etc.

‘Steal Your Love’ Available On These Platforms

Spotify | Apple Music | iTunes | Deezer | Amazon | Tidal | YouTube

 

 

 

Links To Aly Cook

Website: http://www.alycook.com.au/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alycookmusic

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alycooknz/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kiwialy

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/166AJiXkYyMbBFzv4SMg1E

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCd0d13gJfF_04EjqrvY5XBA

Aly Cook Gets ‘Caught In The Middle’ with Some Of Australia’s Finest Musicians

FROM THE FARM TO Nashville; The City That Changed It All For Violet Lavelle


Indie Singer

“I guess, the way it reflects my music goals is that when you’re in the music industry, you don’t have time to second guess yourself. The industry is always changing and if you don’t adapt and change with it, you’ll be left to fall into obscurity. “


Danielle/MT: You recently released your song “I Gotta Know”. Can you explain the title and how this title reflects your music goals? Can you describe your sound?

Violet: To be honest, I wrote the song about this guy that I thought was the ABSOLUTE coolest and sexiest guy in the room. One night, I chugged a whiskey, sucked it up, walked straight up to him, and just shamelessly flirted with him all night. I always wanted to know what he was about, what his vibe was, and if his personality matched his looks. I had to know and I don’t think that would’ve happened if I hadn’t been so bold and just took the situation into my own hands. 

I guess, the way it reflects my music goals is that when you’re in the music industry, you don’t have time to second guess yourself. The industry is always changing and if you don’t adapt and change with it, you’ll be left to fall into obscurity. 

It took me a long time to realize that Pop Music was the direction I needed to go. I spent college trying to discover my sound and I think what held me back for a while was the fear of sounding too generic. I honestly just had to get over myself, because my voice was trained and made for Pop and there’s so much phenomenal music made in that genre. So I spent a few years in a few different bands, and tip toed between genres for a while. And even though I thought the music we were writing was badass, none of it was truly me. I always found myself trying to throw pop-isms into the other genres, and my bandmates were like, “No, that’s too bubblegum, that’s too Top 40, it doesn’t work.” It was inevitable that I would fall into it eventually, I just needed a little convincing. I’m pretty stubborn. 

So with all that being said, I would say that I’m more along the Pop/R&B side of the umbrella. Like, the female version of Bruno Mars or a mix of Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande. There’s catchy melodies, and pop production, but I’ve still got a lot of soul in my voice from previous training, and all of my original inspirations when I first started singing. 

Danielle: You record in Nashville, but are from a small town. Can you share where you are originally from and how your hometown influences your music. Has moving to Nashville changed your music? Do you think the move has opened more doors for you?

SingerViolet: I’m from Kansas City originally. Well, a small town outside of Kansas City, but nobody ever really knows what the fuck I’m talking about so I always say KC. My hometown is on the Missouri side and consists of about 2,000 people. We have a “mom & pop” grocery store, a few buildings for the kids to go to school, a couple neighborhoods, one stoplight going into town, and another going out.

My hometown has that classic Blue Collar culture, and while that’s not a bad thing, I always felt a little out of place, because at heart I feel I’ve always been a city girl. There wasn’t a ton to do in town, so my friends and I took every chance we could to go to the city and I LOVED IT. The hustle and bustle, all the lights, and THE MUSIC. Kansas City has a flourishing jazz, blues, and rock circuit so whenever there was a show, my friends and I would try to go. It was that combined with influence from my parents being Blues musicians themselves that really lead me to falling in love with music in the first place. 

Being from a farm town in Middle-America, my hometown is obviously more about Country music than I was. Don’t get me wrong, I love Country music, and obviously sin

ce I moved to Nashville, I’d be lying if I said I hated it. HAHA! But I really thought about it and writing about back roads and tractors, just isn’t who I am. Even though I lived in a farm town my whole life, I wasn’t a farm kid, and if I was singing about that kind of lifestyle, well, it wouldn’t feel authentic. I wouldn’t necessarily say that my hometown influences my music a ton. Conceptually and sonically, it’s completely different than what you would think. 

However, I am a person that takes from real life experiences to write my music so I have written songs about the people I’ve met and some of the experiences I’ve had with them… so in THAT WAY, yes, my circle back home influences my lyrics. 

Before Nashville? HA! Before I moved to Nashville, I wasn’t an artist. I wanted to be one, but I wasn’t. I didn’t write songs, I wasn’t recording anything, I just sang covers mostly. Whether it was in my high school rock band, or school choir, or at my job during the summer at the local amusement park, I was always singing other people’s songs. Moving to Nashville was the catalyst to starting my career as a real musician. I went to college for music, I was trained professionally to be a singer/entertainer, I met other aspiring musicians, and I began learning to write a well-written song. I was given all the tools I needed, so in way, Nashville literally changed everything for me. This city has given me so many more opportunities than I ever would’ve h

ad back home.

 

Danielle: Who are your musical influences?  If you could pick any one artist to share a stage with, who would that be?

Violet: My influences have changed so many times over the years. The common ground I find though is that I’m drawn to strong, soulful women. From about the age 8-13, I was into all the soulful greats, and everything MoTown had to offer; Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Diana Ross, etc. When I started getting into my early teenage years, I was all about the pop divas; Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Beyonce, etc. Then in college I took a turn to 80s queens like Anne and Nancy Wilson, Madonna, Blondie, and Pat Benetar.

It’s honestly SO HARD to pick someone to share a stage with. There’s so many that would blow my mind. Top 3 as of this moment would have to be Jessie J, Bruno Mars, or Lizzo. They all put on such a great show, and you never know what could happen on and off stage. They are WILD. 

 

Danielle: When did you know music was your calling and when did you figure out why you needed to pursue music as your career? 

Violet: I was about 12 when I figured out music was my calling. My mother convinced me to sign up for a singing competition in Nebraska… of all places. haha. We drove 3 hours to get there, and I was SO NERVOUS. At this point I had never sang in front of an audience, ever. I could feel my body just shaking… but when we arrived and they called my name to come up to the stage, I stood at the ready, struck a pose, and sang like my life depended on it. I ended up winning that day and ever since then I wanted that feeling of being on stage. I wanted the rush, the cheers from the audience, the emotion you can feel from everybody watching and knowing that you made those people feel all of those emotions… 

I started doing everything that had music apart of it; choir, musicals, marching band, color guard, talent shows, and even got a job at the local amusement park during the summer doing variety shows. Sophomore year of high school is when I knew I wanted to be a performer as a career… and I haven’t stopped since. 

 

Indie Singer 

Danielle: What has been your biggest challenge in your music career so far? How did you overcome that obstacle?

Violet: I think the biggest challenge a musician can face is, rejection. And honestly, it never ends. It’s a habitual obstacle that we have to face every day of our lives. And the thing that sucks is that it’s all a matter of someone else’s opinion of you, no matter how educated it may or may not be. Whether it be; you didn’t make callbacks because you weren’t ‘skinny enough’, or you didn’t get that playlist add because you’re ‘too generic’, or the label dropped you because you didn’t ‘sell enough’, or you didn’t get the gig because, ‘you’re not pretty enough’, rejection is everywhere. What I’ve learned about overcoming it is all about your mindset. It’s about working your ass off, having confidence in your craft, and the perseverance to keep going in spite of what others might say. You will get a billion people saying ‘no’ to you in your life, but all it takes is one person to say, ‘yes’ to change everything and that’s what I work for; that one yes. 

 

Danielle: Besides singing, do you play any musical instruments? How long have you been playing them?

Violet: I’ve been playing guitar since I was a teenager and I’ve been “proficient” in piano since college. haha! I even used to play flute in high school, but it’s been a while.

Danielle: What’s a typical day for you? Do you work on your music every day? What other activities besides music do you like to do that your fans may like to know about?

Violet: Being a working musician at the beginning is almost like having two jobs. I have my day job that I go to four to five days a week and then all the time in between that I’m working on my music career; traveling to gigs, recording, filming, co-writing, filling out blog interviews.. It’s all about the grind. 

Then when I have actual time off my hobbies consist of cooking, traveling, and wine tasting…

 

Danielle: What’s next? Do you have any up-coming performances you would like fans to know about? Is there anything else you would like to announce for your fans or anything you would like them to know?

Violet: September is a BIG month for me and the team! September 6th the whole EP drops, and then I’m having an EP release show on September 25th at Mercy Lounge! It’s going to be a fun night of supporting all women in the music industry and I can’t wait to show everyone what we’ve been working on for almost a year. 

 

 

 

Aussie Rockers Grinspoon Are Back With Epic Tour: INTERVIEW


Australian Rock Band

 

Legendary Aussie rockers Grinspoon have today announced their epic Chemical Hearts national tour, set to make its way around the country in October and November, supported by The Hard Aches, Gooch Palms and Bugs.  In celebration of the tour, the band will be releasing a Chemical Hearts vinyl record on the day the tour kicks off (October 11) with a tracklist that will offer fans a nostalgic taste of what’s to come at the shows.

 

In 1997, the youthful Grinspoon uploaded the track Sickfest to triple j Unearthed, not knowing the life-changing success that was to come.  With Sickfest, Grinspoon won Unearthed’s national band comp in its first year – and for the next two months the track was the stations’ most request song.  What followed was an illustrious career, with seven albums, Top Ten ARIA chart spots, ARIA Awards, 13 ARIA nominations, more than 1,000 gigs, tens of thousands of frequent flyer miles, 7 appearances at the Big Day Out as well as slots at Homebake, Falls Festival, Splendour In The Grass, an NRL Grand Final and a Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony in Melbourne.  Despite these massive achievements, Grinspoon don’t have plans to wrap things up any time soon.

The Chemical Hearts tour will be packed with hits and audience faves from the band’s festival performances over the years, but will also pay homage to their discography after the record that thrust them into the spotlight, Guide To Better Living.  It will kick off in Fremantle on October 11 at Metropolis, then move through Perth, Melbourne, Canberra, Hobart, Adelaide, Wollongong, Newcastle, Sydney, Gold Coast, and wrap up in Brisbane on November 8 at The Fortitude Music Hall. 

The accompanying vinyl record, Chemical Hearts, will contain some of the band’s favourite singles and a taste of the setlist from the tour.

It is with great delight that we announce a cute little sojourn around the country with Grinspoon visiting (hopefully) all of you!  We are going to be doing a little thing called Chemical Hearts.  The tour comes with the crazy new vinyl record which features (arguably) some of our favourites on wax,” says lead vocalist Phil Jamieson. “Joining us are absolute legends of the game The Hard Aches, Gooch Palms and Bugs.  These concerts will have a very exciting atmos  due to the individual scintillating performances by these amazing acts.  We’re super excited to be doing this tour.  We don’t get out much anymore and our last one focused primarily on our first record and this one will take a more broad approach to the little nuggets of songs that came between 1995 and 2013.  Sooooooo…. long story short.  TOUR – CHEMICAL HEARTS – OCTOBER / NOVEMBER ~ ripper time.  Ripper bands.  Great times.  Classic hits.”

 

INTERVIEW –

 

MT/Tracey: Hey hey hey guys, nice to cyber meet you! A band from a time I remember well; How long has it been since you’ve been on the road? 

GrinSpoon: Nice to meet you too!

We were last on the road doing the ‘Grooving the Moo’ tour in 2018.

 

MT/Tracey: For those who don’t know, you have been an iconic Aussie super band way back from the 90’s, with many successful albums, 25 top selling singles and numerous awards. How does it feel from being a band who saw major success from the day’s before streaming and social media to a whole new world of music in relation to how artists and bands now promote and market themselves through and on the internet? 

GrinSpoon: We were caught in the transition period from selling music on CD to streaming… not too much has changed in the way we deliver our music, however the income streams for bands went from record sales to mainly live performance and merchandising these days. A good song is still a good song and nothing will ever change that!

 

MT/Tracey: Most people would think that when they hear of a band coming from a small country town such as Lismore, that they would assume you all met at school, but this wasn’t the case. Can you tell us where you met and do you remember what the conversion was at that time after a few schooners, (I’m guessing)? 

GrinSpoon: The story went a little like this from memory…

Phil & I we’re playing in a band in Port Macquarie NSW called ‘CrabApple’. We decided to move the band up to Lismore (Lismore had a good music university & thriving music scene at the time). My dad was the Drum lecture at the Uni and also played in a band called ‘Goodfoot’ with Pat & Joe. The short version is we broke up the 2 bands to form Grinspoon.

 

MT/Tracey: Did you ever dream that Grinspoon would become as big as it is? 

GrinSpoon: It would be a lie to say we didn’t have big dreams for the band as all young bands should, but I think I can speak for all of us to say that there’s no way we thought that we’d be still doing GrinSpooN 20 plus years down the track.

 

MT/Tracey: As a band, is there one person who is the leader, (so to speak) or do you work and write together tossing ideas around? How do you stay focused as a band and to avoid common band disagreements in all facets, including writing, recording and making the decisions?  

GrinSpoon: Yeh there is.. Joe is the main leader but we all contribute to the writing and recording processes. We usually take a mediator/life guru (Yogi Donnan) on the road with us and have weekly counseling sessions to avoid any conflict and resolve any contentious decisions.

 

MT/Tracey: After you announced you were going in hiatus in 2013, what did you all get up to in your individual lives during this period?  

GrinSpoon: Phil continued touring solo. Joe went into the production side of music festivals. Pat opened a shop and a recording studio & I had a few mostly legal side hustles.

 

MT/Tracey: Do you collectively have a favourite album? If so, can you tell us why it’s your favourite?

GrinSpoon: For me it’s ‘Thrills, Kills & Sunday Pills’…  it was great recording that one and was a really fun period for the band. We recorded it in LA and had some very memorable times 

 

MT/Tracey: I love where the name ‘Grinspoon’ came from. Can you tell our fans where you found the name?  

We got the name from Dr GrinSpooN from UCLA (he’s now Professor GrinSpooN). He wrote ‘Marijuana Reconsidered’ amongst a lot other things… We sent him a few of our albums and had some funny correspondence with him… his niece attended one of our shows in LA a while back.

 

MT/Tracey: For upcoming bands, can you tell us what the secret is of keeping a band together for so long? 

GrinSpoon: The secret to keeping a band together for this long is to treat it like a polygamist marriage… you need to spread the love equally and respect your multiple partners😎

 

MT/Tracey: There have been recent talk of rock and metal music dying, what are your thoughts on this?

GrinSpoon: Rock music is one of the best legal outlets there is…. Rock will always survive!

MT/Tracey: What else do you get up to when you’re not writing, singing and performing or hanging out at pubs? (pubs are half a joke btw)

GrinSpoon: We all have families these days so that keeps us all pretty busy outside of the band.

 

MT/Tracey: You have worked with other well-known musicians such as Chris Cheney from The Living End, Tim Rodgers and Josh Pyke. How does this work in terms of  including others in a well-recognized and formed band; what was the decision behind including special guests to record on an album with Grinspoon? 

GrinSpoon: It’s pretty cool to have people drop by when we’re recording and if there’s a song that suits it’s great to have a guest on it.

 

MT/Tracey: Any plans on new music? When can we expect a new album or EP?

GrinSpoon: We’re currently demoing some songs so fingers crossed we’ll put something out in the near future 

MT/Tracey: Since you announced your upcoming ‘Chemical Hearts’ tour, we’ve noticed it’s been sold out and more shows announced. When you initially put together a tour, is there an any kind of expectation of how they will go in terms of how the tour will sell? 

GrinSpoon: It’s always a great feeling to play to a packed room and we always hope to sell out shows.. massive thanks to our loyal fans for the continued love and support for the band… 

 

MT/Tracey: You are about to embark on your next big Australian ‘Chemical Hearts’ tour, what can fans expect? 

GrinSpoon: We’ll be playing all the songs we put together for the Chemical Hearts vinyl we’re releasing for the tour. We have some fun live tricks for the show and are taking some cool new bands – Bugs, The Gooch Palms & The Hard Aches – with us.

 

Pre-Order Vinyl: https://www.officialstores.com.au/au_en/chemical-hearts-vinyl.html

The Chemical Hearts vinyl record will be available October 11.

Grinspoon is Phil Jamieson on vocals, Pat Davern on guitar, Joe Hansen on bass and Kristian Hopes on drums.

 

Pre-order Chemical Hearts                     Buy tickets              Buy ticket + vinyl bundlesTour Poster

GRINSPOON ‘CHEMICAL HEARTS’ NATIONAL TOUR

 

FRI 11 OCT | METROPOLIS, FREMANTLE WA | 18+

Tickets available from http://www.grinspoon.com.au/

SAT 12 OCT | METRO CITY, PERTH WA | 18+

Tickets available from http://www.grinspoon.com.au/

WED 16 OCT | THE FORUM, MELBOURNE VIC  | 18+

Tickets available from http://www.grinspoon.com.au/

FRI 18 OCT | UC REFECTORY, CANBERRA ACT | 18+

Tickets available from http://www.grinspoon.com.au/

WED 23 OCT | ODEON THEATRE, HOBART TAS | 18+

Tickets available from http://www.grinspoon.com.au/

SAT 26 OCT | ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE THEATRE, ADELAIDE SA | AA

Tickets available from  http://www.grinspoon.com.au/

THURS 31 OCT | WAVES, WOLLONGONG NSW | 18+

Tickets available from http://www.grinspoon.com.au/

FRI 1 NOV | ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE, NEWCASTLE NSW | AA

Tickets available from http://www.grinspoon.com.au/

SAT 2 NOV | HORDERN PAVILION, SYDNEY NSW | AA

Tickets available from http://www.grinspoon.com.au/

THURS 7 NOV | THE STAR BROADBEACH, GOLD COAST QLD | 18+

Tickets available from http://www.grinspoon.com.au/

FRI 8 NOV | THE FORTITUDE MUSIC HALL, BRISBANE QLD | 18+

Tickets available from http://www.grinspoon.com.au/

 

 

I know these kids are battling their own battles and if I can give them a few hours of happiness, I feel like I’ve done my job; Jennifer Mlott


There is alway’s a clear reason as to why indie artists such as Jennifer Mlott has a very engaging and active following; she is obviously kind hearted, honest and a very giving young woman. 

Jennifer Mlott has been entertaining most of her life in various aspects of performance including music and dance. 

I had a chat to Jennifer to find out more about her, the music, her passions and her charities. 

Country Singer


MT/Tracey: Hello Jennifer, lovely to meet you. Can you tell us where you’re from? 

Jennifer: Hello Tracey, I’m so glad to meet you too! I am from Indianapolis , Indiana. 

 

MT/Tracey: When did you begin music/singing and can you tell us what kind of music you like to sing? 

Jennifer: I started singing at a young age performing at events and singing in numerous competitions . I started my professional music career 3 years ago and it’s been a fantastic journey from the start . I love singing different genres of music , but my favorite is Modern Country . 

 

MT/Tracey: You have a strong association with a few charities, can you tell us what your connection is with helping those with Down Syndrome, the children’s hospital and children with cancer? 

Jennifer: I thoroughly enjoy working with charities and organizations that give kids hope and joy every day. They have the purest hearts. I love working and performing for the Down Syndrome Foundation of Indiana. The kids are awesome & so full of love & joy. I perform for the Walk-a-thon every year to help raise money for the organization. I also volunteer at Riley’s Children Hospital as part of the “Team Joey” foundation. We collect Legos for the kids and distribute them by room around Christmas time & back to school time. It is always wonderful to see their smiling faces when they receive their gift. I love having the privilege to perform for these kids as well. They have gone through so much in their young lives. It humbles me and makes me happy. I know these kids are battling their own battles and if I can give them a few hours of happiness, I feel like I’ve done my job . I also work with the “Sertoma” Club twice a year on their “Clothe A Child” Drive. My family and I are assigned a deserving family and we work with them to get clothes for the school year as well as clothes around the Holidays. After they receive their clothes depending on the time of year, they are either surprised with a backpack full of supplies for the school year or they are surprised by a guest appearance from Santa! They also receive a few gifts from him too! It’s always a fun and special & really humbling to see these kids so thrilled to receive new underwear, socks. shoes, coats & clothes. It really puts things we take for granted in perspective.

 

MT/Tracey: I see you have quite a few shows and events booked until the end of the year. How many shows/gigs would you do on average each month? 

Jennifer: I love to perform in Nashville, Tennessee and around Indiana. I have some big performances coming up such as performing in Atlanta for the International Singer Songwriters Awards. I can’t wait to perform there and meet all of the incredible Indie Artists who are finalists for the awards. Regarding performances, I typically schedule 3-4 shows a month , some public and some private.

 

MT/Tracey: Do you write your own music? If so, do you also collaborate with other writers? 

Jennifer: Yes, I do both. I have worked with several different co-writers on collaborations and I’ve also been writing on my own. I am fairly new to writing so it’s definitely a learning process. I’ve been blessed to co-write with some very amazing people including Sheri Lynn , Dave Lucid and James Davis. I love covering songs too. I have been covering songs that have made an impact on me in some way and have become my favorites . I’m sure I will continue to do so.

 

MT/Tracey: When it comes time for a single, EP or Album release, do you set up a specific time frames and plan a certain amount of releases within certain time frames, or do you release music when it feels good and ready? 

Jennifer: I set up time frames for all of my releases . I typically have a game plan for my next song & when it will come out. Over the past two years, I’ve tried to release a cover or an original monthly.

My plan is to come out with an album late summer with a lot of the favorites that I have done as well as originals on the album. I’d also like to incorporate more of my tapping into my music as the percussion like I did on my single, Different Drummer.Country Singer

MT/Tracey: Can you tell us who produces your music? 

Jennifer: I am very blessed to work with an amazing producer, Mike Champlin outside of Indianapolis. He has a beautiful state of the art studio which is called “Neon Cornfields”. He has made an amazing impact on me and I truly enjoy working with him. He has taught me so much.

 

MT/Tracey: Have you had formal singing training? 

Jennifer: Yes ! I am very lucky that my mother is a sought after Vocal Teacher in Indianapolis. I have trained with her for the past three years. Before that I was heavily into dance and being a dance teacher and choreographer. All of my spare time went towards my dancing . So singing has only recently become my primary passion.

 

MT/Tracey: Who’s involved with the decision making when it comes time to release a single or tracks placed on an album or EP? 

Jennifer: It’s a joint decision between my team and I . Myself, vocal coach, promoter and producer, parents, all listen to my music before we release anything. Everyone offers their feedback and we make changes accordingly. 

 

MT/Tracey: The music business can be known as a shark frenzy with a few people (even corporations) not giving artists/musicians and singers their fair share, making it difficult to trust others in the industry. How do you go about the business aspect and who helps and supports you to make the right decisions? 

Jennifer: Again, I would say my team . I keep my circle very small. I totally trust them because I know they have my best interests at heart . My family is also a huge part of every decision I make.

 

MT/Tracey: What is your ultimate long-term goal for your singing career? 

Jennifer: It has always been my dream to put music into the world that changes lives. I would love to have the opportunity to create music and perform around the world . I would love to tour the United States, and eventually the world . Making a living doing what I love would be the ultimate gift . 

 

MT/Tracey: What else do you get up to when you’re not writing, singing and performing? 

Jennifer: Other than singing and performing I am a dance instructor and choreographer. I have danced since I was 8 years old, and since then I have been a student , a teacher , choreographer and recently I have become a judge for the competitive dance circuit. Dance has always been a huge part of my life and it always will be! When it comes to hobbies, I am an avid reader, love to sew and I love animals.

 

MT/Tracey: You also co-host on the ‘Kickin’ Country Radio Show’ with Rob Charles. Had you done anything in radio prior to the ‘Kickin’ Country Radio Show’? 

Jennifer: Yes, I was a co-host with Kevin n Williams on KDUB Hit-Country Radio.

 

MT/Tracey: Do you have any pets? 

Jennifer: Yes I have pets . I have two dogs , a cat and a new kitten!  I also have some birds. 

 

MT/Tracey: What’s next for Jennifer Mlott? Anything you would like to tell us? 

Jennifer: Yes! I will be heading to Atlanta next week for the International Singer Songwriters Awards. I am a finalist for “Rising Star of the Year “ and “Single of the Year”. I will also be performing at the after party at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. My goal for the summer is to release a new album . I plan on continuing to write and working on my guitar skills.

 

 

 

THE LIFE IN A CULT, the music and inspiration with  KATEY BROOKS  


Katey Brooks is a clear-eyed rebel in an industry that demands consistency. A devastating songwriting talent that has drawn comparisons with Jeff Buckley (Supajam), Brooks has no shortage of famous admirers and yet she has resisted formula.

Over a career spanning four continents, she’s journeyed from intimate living rooms to opulent concert halls, from dive bars to decorated studios with some of music’s biggest names. The wandering troubadour defies easy classification, with a back-catalogue incorporating soul, folk, blues and country.

It was really nice to interview Katey on lots of different things. 

Singer Katey Brooks


MT/Tracey: Hello Katey so nice to cyber meet you! We’ve had your music on Music Talks a few times and we are a huge fan of you. Your music has been compared with the great Jeff Buckley; who are your inspirations; who did you and do you still listen to?  

Katey: HI!  Lovely to meet you too!  Ooh so many. Growing up I listened to John Lennon, Elvis, Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell, Annie Lennox and many more.  These days I still listen to them, with the addition of artists like The War on Drugs, The National, The Staves, Matt Corby, Foy Vance, Hozier, Florence and The Machine.  God the list would be endless!

MT: Ultimately who makes the decisions on which of your music is recorded and released? 

Katey: Me

MT: Do you consciously sit down to write a song or do you always have your guitar nearby for when the moment or feeling comes over you to just sit down and sing/write out of the blue? 

Katey: A bit of both really.  And if there’s no guitar I just record a vocal on my phone for a later date.

MT: Do you have a particular formula for how you write? 

Katey: No, but I have habits.  I tend to just pick up my guitar and see what comes out.  Other times I will hear a whole song clearly and write in all of 15 minutes. And if I’m with my pianist he’ll start playing something on the keys, and I’ll just start singing a melody and some lyrics, and when the first raw spurt of inspiration is done, I go off and put it together.  It’s different every time.

MT: Your personal life journey is certainly not one to be wished upon anyone. How did you find that it was the music which was your connection to finding your words and feelings? 

Katey: It just connected.  It’s hard to describe.  It just feels good/healing/moving when I listen to or write music, so I keep doing it.  I think my mind depends on it!

MT: Many artists who try their hand at writing music, often ask common questions such as, ‘how do you write your songs’. How much of an impact has your personal journey had on your music and writing? 

Katey:  Massively.  I can’t imagine writing what I do without it.  I think above all it’s added a lot of emotion to my voice and my words, or at least that’s what gets remarked upon the most.

MT: What would your advice be to young upcoming or less experienced artists or musicians  in regards to either writing or performing? 

Katey: Whatever you’re doing, do it with total authenticity.  Don’t try to be anyone else – it doesn’t work.  And work on your craft.  Always put that first. I didn’t do that for years and instead I coasted on my natural abilities.  It’s not the way to be, you can always be better. 

MT: There is an incredible sense of soul and hope when listening to you sing, when you are singing your songs live, how much do you lose yourself within the songs you are singing and comparing that to how much do you feel you are performing them to the audience?

 

Woman
Photo – John Morgan

Katey:  That’s a really great question – one I’ve not been asked before!  It all depends on the show, the audience, the sound, the song, and how I’m feeling that day.  I don’t think I ever ‘perform’ fully, it’s always me being me. When I’ve tried to do that in the past it’s always felt a little awkward and unreal, but I definitely make sure I’m holding my sh*t down.  To the same degree, I wouldn’t say I completely lose myself very often, because I’m always concerned about giving a good show. My mind can be full of questions and analysis as I’m playing – although that’s my mind off stage as well!  The time I most switch off is when I’m writing and recording to be honest, because I can be fearlessly creative without worrying about what anybody else is thinking. There are of course those magical moments on stage when you feel completely at one with the song, yourself, and everyone in the room.  That’s very special, and what keeps people like me coming back for more!

MT: Personally, I’m loving, ‘All Of Me’, like really loving it. What a song! Can you tell the readers a bit more about this song? 

Katey:  Thank you!! It was a process that spanned across a few years.  I started it when I was dating someone totally unpredictable.  One minute she’d be travelling across the country to see me play for half an hour, and telling me she’d fallen for me, and the next she’d disappear.  We had had one of those instant connections when we met, which had taken me aback so much that, in hindsight, I held on for longer than was self-respectful.  That feeling doesn’t come around around everyday, and I think I hoped it would just eventually come together. Then fast forward two years and I’m in the studio recording my new album Revolute, and I’m in a situation with a similar level of ambivalence. Different behaviour and situation though –  this was an ex who had always been completely doting and dedicated when we were together, but after a split, and then an attempt to rekindle (which came from her) her behaviour became unpredictable and incongruent. At that time I remembered the song I had started to write, and knew it was time to finish it. I felt I finally had the inspiration to do it justice. I love the way songs do that to you. They decide when and where they want to be written, whether it takes 15 minutes or 15 years. They are their own world.

MT: I saw the official video clip for ‘All Of Me’, and read a comment from you in regards to how much fun it was to make it. Are the storyboard or ideas of your music video’s your ideas? 

Katey: I always come with a vision and an idea of what I want, yes.  I can’t imagine how anyone wouldn’t! Because it’s so personal, and I’m also a bit of a control freak where my work is concerned *hides face*.  With All of Me I knew I needed to be dancing with someone, and it felt like it needed to be a waltz because the song is in ¾ time, so it has a swing to it.  And I felt it needed to be pretty raw and intimate between myself and the person playing my love interest, but done in a tasteful and beautiful way. I also felt it needed to be super natural and authentic, so instead of asking an actress I asked a friend who fit the physical description in my mind, but also happened to be someone I knew I could relax and have fun with.  However none of these feelings and ideas would go anywhere without Michael Sides (Director and Editor) He was and is amazing (he also made In Your Arms, and Never Gonna Let Her Go) He has this wonderful way of listening to your ideas, coming back with a stack of his own, and then quickly going off and putting something awesome together, as if it’s all just very easy!  I love that. He makes the whole process extremely chilled, and then he produces a beautiful finished product.  

MT: Can you tell us what went on behind the scenes of shooting ‘All Of Me’?

Katey:  Well, I can tell you there was quite a lot of wine consumed… The estate we filmed on (King’s Weston House in Bristol) was really beautiful, and the sun was shining, so we’d sit outside and drink prosecco during breaks.  The dance scenes were pretty intense…so much so that we’d all have to take a breather between takes (!)  My love interest Fleur did a phenomenal job – she made it so easy to relax and be real. As neither of us are actresses, there was always a small concern in the back of my mind that we could get there and it would be awkward or ‘wooden’, but that didn’t happen, we just had fun and didn’t take ourselves too seriously.  

MT: Apart from writing from life experiences, have you tried writing about something completely the opposite to writing a song for the sake of having to try and write a song?  

Katey: I’ve written for many different reasons and in different ways yes.  My favourite is definitely the life experience one though. Probably because it’s most natural and there’s a wealth of inspiration!

MT: I understand that you grew up in a cult. I’m very curious to know, what kind of cult and what was that like? 

Katey: I don’t feel to go into too many specifics at this stage, but I can talk a little about what it was like.  It was chaotic, dramatic, and terrifying in moments, on a frequent basis.  But I thought that was completely normal because it was all I knew. There was a broad spectrum of people – from those who should be in prison, to those in need of treatment for severe mental ill health, and those like my mum – sweet, kind, a little naive, and just searching for a sense of belonging.  The kids were an add-on – an inconvenience to be silenced, or used in some way – never a precious and vulnerable little being. If you stepped out of line you tended to be punished with everybody’s favourite tool – shame. It wasn’t a fun experience that’s for sure.  However, it also brought some very special people into my life, back then, and as a result in present day, so if I had the option to change it, I don’t think I would. 

MT: Did you feel a part of the cult, or did you feel differently to others there? 

Katey: I don’t think I felt ‘a part’ of it, but I think I wanted to believe in it, so I very much ‘talked the talked’ for a while.  But like I said I was very young, so it was all I knew.  

MT: How did you get into the cult in the first place? 

Katey: My mum.  She had not long since split from my dad and she was looking for a sense of belonging and meaning. She just happened to find it in the wrong place.

MT: How easy was it to leave the cult and how did you manage to do this?  

Katey: I don’t really remember to be honest because my mum dealt with it.  One day we just moved to Bristol, and that was it. So I guess it was easy – for me anyway!

MT: A part from your music, what hobbies or past times do you enjoy? 

Katey: Well, I always find myself saying this in interviews (so I should probably do something about it hah!) but over the past few years finding time for hobbies has been challenging.  Or rather, making time for hobbies, as it is my choice.  But when I do make time I love film, surfing, snooker (yep haha), squash, dancing, climbing (or at least I’m desperate to get back into it) and most importantly, hanging out with good friends.

MT: What’s your typical day like? 

Katey: Work, work, work and more work haha.  That can be on my laptop answering a lovely interview like this, sending emails, social media, creating/editing promo videos, playing my guitar, writing, meetings…It’s hard to say specifically because the is just pretty endless! And I’m also a manager at a venue in London, so that takes up a large portion of time.  But I’m definitely not complaining, I absolutely love my work, I like interesting projects and I thrive on being busy I guess.   

MT: What’s next for you? Any touring coming up? 

Katey:  Yes.  There are sporadic dates and festivals throughout the UK this year, an Italian tour in November, a US trip in September, a Canadian tour in the works for later this year, and more structured tours being prepped for next year!

MT: Any chance of coming to Australia? 

Katey: Hell yeah.  Very very soon.  It’ll be my fourth tour and I can’t wait – I LOVE Aus.  Watch this space!

MT: Is there anything else you would like to mention? 

Katey: Just thank you for the questions and for supporting the music, and thank you to you the reader for reading.  I hope you all enjoy the new record!

Thank you so much for your time Katey, I really appreciate it, and all the very best with Revolute! 

 

 

Emme Lentino; You are loved. just as you are


Emme Lentino has been singing and performing from a very young age. American born singer, songwriter, actress and model, now calls New Zealand her new home, while her musical endeavours continue to see her travelling between the two countries. 

From performing on Broadway and collaborations with well known music producers and songwriters, Emme Lentino has gained a wealth of experience which has led her songs placements on ‘Victoria Secrets’ commercials and well know TV’s shows on the ABC to name just a few. 

Emme has many singles to date with more on the way.

Danielle Haskell interviewed Emme to find out a bit more about this upcoming talented and inspiring independent artist. 

 

Emme Lentino Sitting on Stairs


Danielle/MT: Your last two songs, “Oxygen” and “Shine” are so universally relatable.  “Shine”, like many of your songs, has such an important message. What influenced the lyrics and can you share the full meaning behind the song? Can you also share the inspiration behind your song “Oxygen”? 

Emme: Shine is a song close to my heart because I felt so strongly about the challenges that young folk face in school and growing up. I felt they needed to know they would be okay, and to not give up, or let anyone tell them they couldn’t dream or achieve. The lyrics just came so fast to me. I was teaching a dance class and honestly, I had to quickly jot them down in between a hip hop dance session! My friend and fellow songwriter/producer Bryan Bell came up with the amazing music behind the song. It was a wonderful co-writing experience. I’m actually releasing a brand new version of “Shine” in a few weeks! 

“Oxygen” was mainly written while I was living in my car, and a friend who believed in me lent me a Casio keyboard. I had never played keyboard before really, but felt inspired to come up with a melody line on the keys I could sing to. I wrote three songs that week. And I wrote them quickly, because well…. I also had to ask a friend to let me use their apartment as a writing and rehearsal space. I was under pressure for time! Oxygen is all about the light at the end of the tunnel. I believe we all face challenges in life, it’s how we choose to react to those that build our character. A few years went by, and with some awesome co-writers and producers from L.A., the original song evolved into what it is now. It’s really special that both songs have had new life breathed into them, and I hope they will bring encouragement to the hearts in this world that need it. 

MT: Reading your journey is such an inspiration in itself. When your fans listen to your music or read about your accomplishments, what is the one most important  message you hope to leave with them?

Emme: I love this question! My message is this: you are loved. Just as you are. Be assured that the moments of your life when you feel like giving up, I’ve also felt that before. So I can relate to anyone who is struggling. But I want to tell my listeners that there is always hope. Things turn around when you least expect it. Which is why it’s so important to face each new day with belief in your heart that you can get through anything! 

MT: Since I loved and participated in the Missoula Children’s Theater for 8 yrs in my home area, I have to ask how traveling around the US with the Missoula Children’s Theater has impacted your life and influenced your music. Do you feel like that experience has taken you full circle to what you are doing now with Theater at your farm in New Zealand?

Emme: Oh I loved touring the US with MCT! How cool you worked with them too!! The experience of being on the road, performing, directing and teaching young people was like nothing I had ever done before. Brand new faces and new towns every week. We mainly stayed in homestays so we really got to know the locals. I loved the kids and watching them blossom and build confidence in their acting. I definitely think it prepared me for what I later did on the farm in New Zealand when I ran my own theatre, music and dance classes for our local town. I love working with kids! 

MT: You’ve once said that Music pursued you. Can you explain that along with how your journey has been influenced by the early start of your music career in Oregon, to your performances in New York City and your current life in New Zealand? This has you traveling between New Zealand and the US frequently, do you find that difficult and where do you now consider home?

Singer with Guitar Emme Lentino

Emme: I have been singing since I was a little toddler. When I was two, I wore cowboy boots and used a hairbrush for a microphone. Singing as loudly as I could for anyone who would listen! I just loved music and remember dancing around the kitchen to every song my parents had playing. It has been a great source of joy for me.
I began writing my own music a few years later when I was ten, and went through a tragic loss. I always loved singing and acting, and was really active in my local theatre groups, and this continued through university and in NYC. I was portraying Lucille Ball a few years ago, and within a few months of that I fell in love and moved to New Zealand. I do travel a lot to America, my parents live there and I miss them so much. But I am very blessed to also sing and record there, so I get the opportunity to stay connected with my American family. New Zealand has been a wonderful country to live in, and I actually became a New Zealand citizen two years ago. So it looks like I am pretty happy here

MT:  With all of the experiences you have had, is there a favorite or life changing moment you would like to share with your fans?

Emme: Moving to New Zealand and learning a different culture was life changing, along with writing and singing about my experiences once I arrived. The next would be losing someone I loved and the grief that came with that – as difficult as it was, that loss provided me with a chance to help others.

MT:  What do you like to do in your spare time that is not musically related that you would like to share with fans? 

Emme: I love being in nature.  I stay active hiking and running. And I love pilates, yoga and dance.  Acting in shows and auditioning for films is something I have just started doing again. It’s super fun!  I love laughing, skipping and dancing to great tunes with good friends. Travelling and meeting new people, enjoying great movies and delicious food!

MT: Do you currently have management? 

Emme: I do, Michael has been with me on this musical journey for the last few years.  He is a great visionary.

MT: You have amazing photos on social media ect…, has this always come naturally for you? Who is the photographer behind the camera?

Emme: I used to model and be in local commercials as a kid.  In the last couple of years I have worked with a few different photographers, and my latest photoshoot was done by Suzanne Teresa.  She is brilliant and made me feel super comfortable, and I had a blast!

MT: Your songs have been featured in several daytime shows including ABC’s One Life to Live and All My Children. How did it feel to have your songs featured and hear them played on these shows?

Emme: It made me feel so thankful and very happy!  

MT:  You also had the incredible experience of having a song be a part of the Victoria Secret national BIOFIT campaign? What was it like working with the DJ/producer Vasili Gavre for that song? 

Emme: It was a very cool experience and I was super nervous while we waiting to hear if our song would be selected. Vasili is very talented and it was awesome collaborating with him.

MT:  Do you have any current projects or more music coming out soon that you would like fans to know about? 

Emme: I am super excited I have brand new music coming at the end of July, that I am thrilled to share with my listeners! I am currently co-hosting Heart of Indie Radio, an international radio show with Eddie, and I am learning so much and having a great time.  It’s a radio station close to my heart because they are helping kids make their dreams come true! I’ll be joining my friends over at Unsigned Chat and a few other podcasts over the next few weeks too. I’m also excited to continue my charity work as a princess for parties and events. Plus teaching kids theatre, music and dance is a regular gig for me – totally love it!

 

 

 

The Rise and Success Of Australia’s X-Factor Runner Up Jason Owen

It’s been an exciting run for Jason Owen since his successful performances on Australia’s X-Factor which lead him to runner up position in 2012.

Jason has since released four albums proving he is an artist here to stay. With chart-topping success with a #1 on the ARIA Country Albums Chart and #5 on the Australian National Chart with his debut album, ‘Life Is A Highway’, followed by his original hits, from ‘Friday Night’ and ‘Proud’ Album which also celebrates his First Nations background, and features Australia’s most iconic female Indigenous entertainer, Christine Anu with the title track, Proud.

 

Australian Country Singer Jason Owen

His most recent album, ‘Jason Owen Sings John Denver: The 20th Anniversary’, is a labour of love which pays tribute to his Pop and the legendary American singer-songwriter, John Denver.

Jason has continued to grow into a genuine country artist following his success on X Factor.

He has entertained audiences around the country for album tours and at popular events, including the Tamworth Country Music Festival, CMC Rocks the Hunter, the ACE Awards and the Sony Foundation’s Wharf4Ward event, which raises funds for youth cancer care. 

He also has a Golden Guitar and three Country Music Channel (CMC) Award nominations to his name in categories including New Oz Artist of the Year and Male Artist of the Year.

More recently, Jason popped the question to long-time girlfriend and now fiancee, Becy Harvey, and is now back in the studio and working on new material.   

I had a chat with Jason to find out more about what he’s been up to since X-Factor and what’s a head for this talented young man. 


MT/Tracey: Hey Jason, great to meet you. Firstly, at what age did you begin your music career?

Jason: I’ve been singing pretty much all my life. I started singing professionally when I was lucky enough to get my break on X Factor. I had just turned 18 when I was on X Factor. 

MT: Since your TV appearance on Australia’s X-Factor, how much impact did the show have on working in the music industry?

Jason: It had a huge impact! It was a great experience to get mentally ready for an industry that throws a lot of challenges. As they say on the show – the whole experience was to teach us what it would be like working as a true music artist. It wasn’t so much about teaching us about the music industry, but it did mentally prepare me for performing live to an audience, how to manage nerves, and how to be quick off the mark and be ready for absolutely anything.

MT: Did your family listen to much music? Who did you listen to while growing up?

Jason: I grew up in a small town that is 140 kms west of Dubbo. It’s called Albert, and it comprises of 12 people. My family own the pub out there and as a result I grew up around a lot of jukebox music. John Denver was a huge inspiration for me as a kid because my Pop absolutely loves John Denver’s music. My latest album, Jason Owen Sings John Denver: The 20th Anniversary, actually pays homage to the legendary John Denver and my Pop. 

Australian Country Singer Jason Owen

I listen to a lot of different music – music from artists like Willie Nelson and John Denver, through to Celine Dion. I grew up around a huge variety of music – music far different to what people my age [when I was a teenager] were listening to at the time. Great music and music that is well and truly alive today. I’m blessed to be able to perform theses songs – the songs that people love.

MT: Coming from a small town and before performing on the X-Factor, did you perform for your home town audience at all? 

Jason: Yes, I did. My family are very musically oriented. I grew up surrounded by music in my family and many of them gigged at the local pub. My uncle actually played guitar for Brian Cadd many, many years ago. And my aunty Michelle, she is doing a lot pub gigs in Albert and surrounding areas. When I was 13-years-old, I would go and do shows with her. That’s how I really got my start in music and from those performances, it made me really think about pursuing a career in music.  

MT: Are you from a farming family? 

 

Jason: No, I’m not from a farming family. I am from a small town. My dad owns the local service station and the pub. I did however, grow up doing some work on the land and spending a lot of time with my friends on their properties. 

It’s heartbreaking at the moment to see how much they are struggling with the drought. To see your best friends and their families struggling through difficult times, it just breaks your heart completely.  Last year, I released a song in aid of the farmers and it was used to raise money for the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners. It’s called These Are The Times. I worked it out with the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners, that $1000 would get a truck of hay on the road. It’s just a matter of finding the feed.  I’m doing my best to raise between $10,000 – $15,000 so essential feed can be donated to those farmers who need it the most during this terrible drought. If your readers want to donate, the  Burrumbuttock Hay Runners have their own website. I’ve donated show profits and money raised from the single to them over the years. 

MT: I’ve noticed that you now have a HUGE following. How did you find interacting with a town from 12 people to then over 215K between Twitter, Facebook & Instagram? That’s a very big difference! 

Jason: It’s huge. I still haven’t comprehended it yet. I love what I do and I’m so honoured by all the support. Social media is definitely a different kettle of fish to growing up in a town of 12 people. There is so many people watching what I do. It’s very different, but I’m incredibly humbled by all the well wishes and support that I receive from my followers.  However, I do have days where I struggle and get a bit anxious about what I’ve posted because almost a quarter of million people are watching what I post. But on the other hand, I have the opportunity to share my experiences with others – something that would not normally happen if social media wasn’t around. 

Jason Owen AlbumMT: Since recording Your debut album, ‘Life Is A Highway’ which had huge success with it debuting at #1 on the ARIA Country Albums Chart as well as # 5 on the Australian National Chart, how easy or difficult was it to follow through with your subsequent albums keeping the same standard or Improve on that? And was that at all in your mind? 

Jason: It’s never an easy thing to follow up on something like that! I came out from the show [X Factor] and recorded a strong album, with songs people loved. We wanted to keep the next album to that standard. But it’s never an easy task to maintain that success and we did our best to record an album that included people’s favourites once again. Lucky for me, it was an album people liked and it did place within the top 10 of the album charts. It was phenomenal and to do it two times in a row. It literally blew my mind!

MT: I’ve seen a recent video of your rendition of the great power ballad, ‘The Power Of Love’, (awesome btw) this is obviously not a country track, but you’ve made it into your own, as well as your most recent album paying tribute to the late great John Denver. Do have a personal preference to the style of music or genre? 

Jason: Every artist has a genre, but for me, the thing is that I’ve sort of gone in and out of genres throughout my career, including POP to country to country POP. It’s sort of been borderline the last few years. I don’t specifically sit in one genre. I think my music is always blended between a couple of genres each and every time. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. If it’s music that people enjoy, that’s all I care about. I don’t care to be pigeonholed to one genre, as long as I am singing songs that people like.  

MT: Do you write your own music? Or co-write with other people? If so, have you also written a song for your fiancé yet? (Congratulations btw….   thank you Tracey)

Jason: I wrote a song for the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners called These Are The Times and I also co-wrote the song Proud. I sang a duet with the beautiful Christine Anu on that song. 

I do write and I do co-write. I’m not the strongest writer. I don’t have enough experience in the field just yet, but I’m working on improving my songwriting abilities. And, I am also working on a song for my fiancée, but I’m not quite ready to release it to the world. I love to co-write. If I have someone to bounce off, then I can have a song written in just a few hours. When I’m on my own, I sometimes doubt my own song writing abilities and then things can just go pear-shaped from there.

MT: What’s it like touring this incredible country of ours and being able to connect with so many people while on the road?  

Jason: Great question! Everywhere I play, I have the opportunity to meet new people. It’s really an honour to be able to travel around this big beautiful country of ours and thank the people who have supported me in my career, as well as make new friends along the way. Some days I feel like I’m in a dream. I honestly can’t believe that this is my life! I’m literally living my dreams. 

Single by Jason Owen MT: Where do you currently spend most of your time when you’re not on the road?  

Jason: At the moment I’m spending a lot of time at home and working on new music. 

I’ve got a brand new team of people working around me and I’m excited to be working with them on new ideas and projects. Recently, I got engaged. So, wedding plans have also started to begin.  

MT: What do you like doing in any spare time you may have apart from touring and recording music? 

Jason: I love my golf and play a bit of golf – well I try to! I also shoot clay targets. I’ve been a clay target shooter since I was 12-years-old. And I enjoy going down to the beach when I can. But with my work, it’s a bit hard to do my hobbies because there is a lot of travelling involved. 

MT: Where do you call home now? 

Jason: I’m currently living on the Central Coast, but ‘home’ will always be the bush for me. Seven years now, I’ve been travelling backwards and forwards – travelling through cities and travelling overseas. I’ve been everywhere, but there is nothing better than going back to the country and getting some fresh air.   

MT: What’s the best piece of advice that’s been given to you? 

Jason: Great question! 

The one piece of advice that has remained with me is – ‘to be yourself and never change’. I think people respect you more as a person when you remain true to yourself. Another two pieces of advice that I follow is – ‘don’t back down’ and ‘be powerful and strong’. If you want to be your very best self, you have to put in the hard work to make it happen. 

MT: Do you do anything weird, crazy or otherwise before you go on stage; like a ritual?  

Jason: Actually, I don’t have a ritual. I’m usually cool as a cucumber right before I go out on stage, then I’m a mess. I’m not really a mess! I’m just super excited to get out there and perform. The boys and I might have some drinks before we head out on stage to calm the nerves, but I don’t have any weird rituals. Might need to get one! 

MT: Where’s the next big event or concert can people see you perform? 

Jason: Bluewater Country Music Festival is my next performance. I will be playing at Broughtons at the Bay on June 8. I’m really looking forward to being apart of the Festival, hearing new music and meeting people. But most of all, I’m looking forward to having a great time and I hope the people coming to my show enjoy themselves. 

Other than that, we are working on future shows, future music and getting ready to just rock’n’roll.

MT: Awesome Jason, you know, I might even get there, I need to get away and have some good chill time listening to good music. Is there anything else you would like to mention? 

Jason: All good! Thank you for your time. 

Thank you so much for your time Jason, I really appreciate it.

Take a break and grab yourself some tickets to see Jason Owen perform next Saturday June 8.

DETAILS: 

 

 

Agnesse Will Have You Captivated With Her Vocal Artistry & Flair

Space and Time went through a difficult journey to creation, taking almost one year in total. A stolen computer led to lost vocal samples that had to be re-recorded and re-mastered into the track that is brought to us today.

Time is precious and this track speaks out about the universal desire to press rewind when life feels as if it is travelling too fast. Agnesse brings us into her personal story where she expresses her wish to spend more time with loved ones.

 

Interviews with indie artists

Agnesse hails from Riga, Latvia where she grew up surrounded not only by native talent but also international superstars such as Ariana Grande, Anne-Marie and Dua Lipa. She now bases herself in England as she juggles music and her studies. 

Having performed live throughout her childhood, Agnesse has perfected her stage sound, promising a captivating show with impressive vocal range. 

Agnesse is no stranger to success, reaching advanced stages in a number of regional talent competitions, with X Factor Latvia (Chair Challenge), Baltic Talent 2016 (1st place), Pop Fest Jurmala 2017 (Grand Prix), EuroPop Contest in Germany (Finalist) to name a few. 

In 2018 she participated in National Eurovision contest (Supernova) up until the semi-finals with her original song “You Are My World”, which hit 150,000 streams on Spotify, 40,000 views on YouTube and was played on one of the biggest radio stations in Latvia.

I interviewed Agnesse on her musical journey thus far and what’s ahead for this lovely talented young woman. 


MT/Tracey: Hi Agnesse, Awesome to meet you. I think you are the first artist we’ve had on Music Talks that’s from Latvia. Who did you listen to when you were growing up?

Agnesse: Hi! Glad to hear that! As I remember, my first musical influence were, of course, what my parents were listening to, for example, Queen, Phil Collins and many other bands and artists, but as I started to explore music by myself, first artist what I was listening a lot was Sarah Brightman and after her followed Madonna, Rihanna, Beyonce, Britney Spears, basically all the female artists who were popular in that time of period.

MT: I believe you are from a musical family, how much support and influence does your family have on your music?

Agnesse: Yes, my dad is composer, pianist, producer, and my mom is a singer. I really love that, because I can always get honest opinion and constructive critique, which always let me grow as an artist. They both are professionals in music, so it is such a great opportunity for me to always get feedback from music professionals. They are the biggest support for me!

MT: I have to admit, I’m not too familiar with the music in Latvia. Your latest music is very commercial pop sounding, did you write your latest single, ‘Space or Time’.?

Agnesse: I am not really into Latvian music, so I don’t know what is in the charts here. My dad Helvijs Stengrevics created and produced music, but lyrics were written by 2 times Grammy award nominated artist Kristal Oliver. So this time I played the role as a singer in this project.

MT: What did you learn from performing in the talent competitions like X Factor, Baltic Talent and even the Eurovision Contest?

Agnesse: I learnt that before coming on the stage, you have to be mentally prepared, otherwise, if stress takes all over your body, you will perform worse than you actually can. Second thing I learnt is – if you think you have worked enough, work even harder and perform more before the actual performance. Because, when you get on that stage, personally for me the situations were that I was so stressed on stage, that it might have helped to reduce the stress levels if I had worked even harder before (although I already did) for the subconsciousness – I might have felt more ready and not that scared of messing something up. But of course, enjoy while you are on that big stage. That is what I have to learn, because I overthink everything and forget that sometimes I just need to relax and stop thinking about all the nuances while performing.

Singer Agnesse

MT: Even though we are all familiar with the bigger named artists, can you tell me one of your traditional favourite songs or artists from Lativa?

Agnesse: hmm, I could say that for now my favourite artists are Dons, Aminata and Triana Park – I do not have any specific favourite songs though, but I like these artists and bands charismas while performing and their sound. 

MT: I believe you’ve recently moved from Latvia to England, how does the music industry differ, what are the changes between Latvia and England?

Agnesse: yes, that’s right. Music industry in Latvia is way smaller than here in England. It is way harder to get contacts, gigs etc. + here is way bigger competition than in Latvia. But because of that, I could say that the level of how you should sound, perform aka quality level is higher in England, what I like more, because it gives you bigger motivation to become the best. Sometimes in Latvia I can hear that some artists do not really put that much of an effort on working with their music or quality of their performance, because they will get gigs anyways. But don’t get me wrong, we have really professional musicians in Latvia as well, I just believe that there might be even more, if standard of the quality level would be higher and places would not give gigs to artists who don’t put enough effort in their work. But overall, biggest changes were the population of people, cultural difference with what I had to get used to and the fact that I am living on my own in England, which brings bigger responsibility and many other things to learn and be responsible of.

MT: Are you doing any live work in England?

Agnesse: Mainly I study, but on my free time I do perform in concerts and open mics! Latest concert was Bucks Band Wagon which happened in 4th of April.

MT: Can you tell us what ‘Space or Time’ is about? 

Agnesse: The story of the song is when you are together with the ‘real’ person, does not matter your best friend or lover, time flies unbelievably fast. There is no explanation for this phenomenon, the only thing you want to do is to press the rewind button and live it all over again. The lyrics are very dear to me, because I am in a long distance relationship and whenever we finally meet for a week, it seems that the time we have spent together was short as day and now we have to say goodbye again, which is so hard and everything I want to do is just live it all over again, have a little more time. My goal was to be able to explain these feelings in a song which, I think, we did very well.

MT: I read that you had your computer was stolen which had all the samples and tracks that were to be recorded/mixed but had to re-do everything again. What a nightmare. What did you tell yourself when it came time to having to re-record every single thing again?  

Agnesse: Yes, that was horrible. Well, we really liked this song, so we just had to bite our teeth and do the hard work again no matter what, so I just said: “Lets do this!” (laughing) Thank God, my dad had the base of the song saved, so we did not have to do everything from complete scratch. But vocals and majority of production were gone, so I flew specially for two days to Latvia to re-record and re-create them again.

MT: What else are you doing in England a part from your writing and recording?  

Agnesse: I am studying in music university, program “Music Performance Management” and working as Student Ambassador. And of course, practising my vocals. 

MT: What other hobbies do you have that’s outside of music?

Agnesse: Living in England is something new for me so I do not have many activities except music. I often go to gym and while in Latvia, train kids in figure skating, because I was a figure skater myself for 12 years. I don’t skate anymore, because I have few traumas which forbids for me to do figure skating professionally. But at least I can teach others what I know and can do, which I really love!

MT: The music business is such a tough industry, I’m wondering what your thoughts are and what your plans are from here and how you are going to take it on? (sorry, kind of three questions in one)

AgnesseI already mentioned above that yes, music industry is really tough and in England it is a big competition to get somewhere. But for now, I am really focusing on making and creating my sound and character, which will differ me from any other artist, what is the most important thing in the music industry – be unique and create sound never heard before and music what people will buy!

MT: What do the songs you write and the music mean to you personally?  

Agnesse: The songs what I have, which are not that many yet, talks about my personal life and what I go through. They mean a lot to me. Every song, when I release it, comes with a piece of my soul and I hope that people can feel it!

MT: Is there anything else you would like to mention?

AgnesseI really hope that everyone who listens to my music likes this song and thank you for taking your time to listen to it! I really appreciate that! Also – new music coming very soon, so keep tuned and follow me on social media!J

Congratulations on ‘Space and Time’, it’s a great song. Thank you so much for your time Agnesse I really appreciate it.

Agnesse: Thank you for the interview!

Agnesse has recently released Space and Time to each of her digital platforms available to listen NOW. 

iTunes | Google Play | Deezer | Spotify

 

The Music Seems To Come at Once and The Lyrics Just Pour Out; Raspin Stuwart

When Raspin Stuwart sings, it’s like you’re sitting beside him having a warm hot chocolate with the velvety touch of marshmallow. His deep warm tone makes his music very easy to listen to; almost calming, caressing – and very soothing.

 

 

Singer Raspin Stuwart

I guess this comes with experience from both music and life which makes it all to easy to become a fan. 

Raspin has been kicking around the live scene for many years and recently released his latest album NY2LA (New York 2 LA) which he has received raving reviews, (including here on Music Talks) and I asked Raspin a a few questions about his music life and his latest album. 


MT/Tracey: When did you begin playing and writing music?

Raspin:  Around 13, my sister taught me a few chords and my first song. I learned “Blowing In The Wind” by  Bob Dylan. After that I started putting chords together and wrote my first song. My first song was called, “I’ve Always Loved You”-and the rest is history.

MT: Your Album NY2LA has received critical acclaim, congratulations. How long did the whole process from writing to recording this album take?

Raspin: Thank You! The songs are a collection of mostly new and a few older songs like “Lovin’ You” & “You” which I wrote in my early 20s. The process of recording took 5 years from start to finish from recording all the music, background vocals and all the instruments that were added and then the mixing and mastering. 

MT: When you write songs, are they written from personal experience or/and do you write with particular messages or stories in mind?

Raspin: The songs just find me and when I write a song, the music seems to come at once and the lyrics pour out. They are not necessarily about personal experiences but might be an emotional state I am going through in life, but there are a couple of songs that have specific messages in mind. “Smoke the Hookah” relates to all the oppression in the world, and “New York 2 L.A.” is about finding yourself and saying yes to opportunities that come your way.

MT: I believe you’ve been playing around the live circuit for quite a while now in the states, what age bracket primarily is your audience?

Raspin: My main market is adult contemporary so I would say 40s on up, but recently I have picked up a younger audience with my online radio station air play. With this album, I noticed more people listening to the lyrics and melody which seems to capture the hearts of a broader audience. 

MT: I’ve noticed a track called ‘Smoke The Hookah’ which is reggae track and quite different to your blues tracks. This makes an appearance on both your ‘NY2LA’ and ‘We Do What We Do’ albums. Can you tell me more about this track and what your connection is?

Raspin: The version that is on the album “We Do What We Do,” was recorded live one late night in Hollywood with my band and in one evening was mixed. The reggae version on “New York 2 L.A.” happened when Steve Reid, who’s an L.A. producer/engineer and percussionist, and Bo Astrup, who is also a producer and engineer got together. Steve heard it and said he had a backing track in mind for it which was mostly electronic which makes it different from my other tunes. Bo Astrup put down a great bass line and some friends came in to do the background vocals and then I added my vocals to it. The song is very universal as it’s a song about the repression of all the people in the world-but when we unite, nothing can hold us down – The “peace pipe” of life-“Smoke the Hookah”. The song seems to have legs and resonates with many people.

MT: Do you remember the flower power days of the 60’s? If so, what do you prefer in the way of life and music? Today’s ‘So Called’ Freedom, or the 60’s?

Raspin: In regards to music, I like the music of the 60’s-there were so many of my favorites like Donovan, Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary and Joan Baez-real socially conscious singer songwriters. They spoke out against social oppression, war and freedom which paved the way to many of our freedoms of today. 

MT: Do you have big kids? If so, do they follow in your footsteps of a career in music?Singer Raspin Stuwart

RaspinNo Children

MT: When growing up, what artists did you listen to mostly?

Raspin: Harry Chapin, Joni Mitchell,  Neil Young, Cat Stevens, The Doors, Patti Labelle, Bette Midler and Joe Cocker.

MT: Can I ask what’s under the hat? It’s a lovely hat btw. 😉

Raspin: A surprise

MT: Who’s in your trio/band? What are their names and how long have they been a part of Raspin Stuwart?

Raspin: I have been playing with Chris Volak for 6 years-he plays acoustic and classical guitar. I work with several other musicians; one of my new favorite people to play with is Tim Fleming on bass and Cynthia Brando on percussion.

MT: What is your personal favourite song you have recorded to date?

Raspin: This is a hard question since I love all my children equally, but from the “We Do What we Do” cd; “The Bitter End” has a special tender part in my heart because it has a lot of deep hidden meanings related to my life. From the “New York 2 L.A.”album; I just adore the title track and  “Lovin’ You.”

MT: I can’t help but think of a particular favourite track of mine which I would love to hear you sing…’New York State Of Mind’…can you record that on one of your next releases? If you like it of course.

Raspin: You have a great sense of musical style and that would be a perfect song for me to sing and I WILL consider it…

MT: What are your plans now that NY2LA is out?  

Raspin: I would like to get my music into as many hands as possible for people to enjoy and listen. I would also like to tour from New York to Los Angeles-nothing is better than sharing the gift of music.

MT: Is there anything else you would like to mention and share with your fans?

RaspinI would like to thank everyone who has participated in my music and has supported it; and for going to my sitewww.raspin.com and downloading the new cd.Hear the ‘Best Of Me’ her

 

Emerging Australian Alt-Pop Star, Blake Rose is The One To Watch

Hailing from Perth, Australia, Blake Rose is now ready to establish himself in the musical mecca of Los Angeles. Fusing elements of alt-pop, indie-rock, and soul, Blake Rose defies genre boundaries as he carves out a musical lane of his own.

 

 

Australian Pop Singer Blake Rose

At only 21-years-old, Rose brings a depth to his music that is wise beyond his years. Marked by profound and picturesque lyricism, his songs are vibrant, powerful, and deeply authentic. His debut single “Hotel Room” was released on November 2nd and was welcomed with rave reviews, being heralded by Ones To Watch as “not just a debut single, but a promise from the aspiring Rose to be a force of nature.”His second single “Lost” was an even bigger sensation – it was premiered byZane Lowe on his Beats1 show, added to 30+ Spotify playlists, and has amassed over 3M+ Spotify streams to date. Thanks to the success of his first two singles, Rose has inked a deal with Billie Eilish’s management team at Hard 8 Working Group, signed with Kobalt publishing, and is now repped by Matt Galle at Paradigm (Halsey, Shawn Mendes).

Blake Rose has had a keen musical curiosity for as long as he can remember. One of the first instruments Rose ever picked up was the didgeridoo, a wind instrument created by indigenous Australians. However, the didgeridoo has its limitations and by the age of 12, Rose had started to teach himself to play guitar. However it wasn’t until a 3-month long camping trip around Australia with his family that really developed Rose into the songwriter he is today. As they drove from campsite to campsite, teenage Rose started to write his own songs in the back of his family car. On the return home, Rose started to experiment with GarageBand and Pro Tools, falling in love with the idea of creating a song from start to finish.

After the trip, Rose was accepted into was accepted into a school program called World Challenge which would take him to Sri Lanka for 2 weeks. The only issue was the expensive price tag attached. Only a teenager, Rose was limited in job options and decided to give busking a shot. Taking to the streets of Perth, Rose quickly raised the money necessary but more importantly, he discovered his love for live performance. Continuing to busk for the last few years, the budding artist has invested the money he earned into learning to produce and release his own music.

Blake Rose’s music is electrifying. It’s the kind of music that hits you right in the feels. He is a rare voice hell bent on defining his own sound and his own path. Blake Rose may only be two releases deep, but he is a name you’re going to want to keep an eye on.

To find out a few more things about this talented 21 year old, I asked Blake a few questions. 


MT/Tracey: Hi Blake, it’s a pleasure to cyber meet you 😉 I see you’re a Perth boy, where are you residing now a day’s? 

Blake: Currently residing in Perth due to some visa issues but I will be heading back over the USA as soon as that’s sorted.

MT: With so many instruments to choose from to begin learning as a young child, why the didgeridoo? 

Blake: I didn’t deliberately start on the didgeridoo, I kind of just began experimenting with it because there was one in our house. I never intentionally practiced/nor got that good but I can get some somewhat distinguishable noises out of it. The first instrument I actually started learning was the Cello in grade 4 at primary school.

MT: What music and who did you listen to when growing up? 

Blake: As far as my early musical introductions, my household wasn’t really one to have those old classic artists on repeat all the time apart from maybe Elvis Presley but my parents used to listen to throwback radio a lot so I’ll often hear a song from their era and know the words but not know who the artist is or what the song is called. Regardless some of those classic vibes have definitely had somewhat of an impact on me. As I was growing through school I used to listen to this iPod shuffle all the time. I never understood how half the music that was on there came to be but there was a lot of random tunes. I remember one of the first songs I learnt the lyrics for was Eminem’s “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” as well as a bunch of his other tracks from the mid-late 2000s. I remember there being a lot of those commercial Punk Rock artists like Good Charlotte, Green Day, Simple Plan who I used to blast all the time. There was also of that top 40 Pop/R&B that was happening during that period from artists like Chris Brown and Usher as well as other artists like ColdPlay, Michael Jackson, etc.

MT: When your family took up a 3-month long camping trip and you discovered the joy of playing guitar, did you play for people in the camping grounds? 

Blake: I did but it was usually indirect. I always remember the first song I learnt on guitar that our whole camp knew how to sing as well was Leonard Cohen – “Hallelujah” so I just kept playing that over and over until someone eventually came out of their tent guns blazing and told me to shut up.

MT: I get the feeling you’re a very motivated person, it’s not all that often that young teens would raise their own money to attend the World Challenge in Sri Lanka. Can you tell us what the World Challenge is, and what your learnt from the two weeks there?

Blake: World Challenge is an organisation that takes high school kids over to a 3rd world country for 2-3 weeks to experience that side of the world. I definitely learnt a lot about how unpredictable life is and how lucky/unlucky people can really get with the cards they’re dealt. In saying that though, it really put happiness in perspective for me when meeting everyone we met out there as a lot of those people, the children especially, are truly happy even though they have so little in comparison to what the western world is used to. 

MT: I’m blown away by your producing skills, (maybe I’ll get you produce something for me. Lol ) but seriously, just blown away by your talent. How do you listen to your tracks/music and know when they are good to release as an end product? 

Blake: This is honestly the part of the creative process where I go clinically insane. I will literally sit there for 2 hours and end up tweaking an eq frequency on a snare drum or something stupid. It’s a lot of listening for a while, changing a few things, stepping away for a while, then repeat. When I make a change and keep listening to it over and over again I start to get used to it which is counterproductive. I find that for me, it’s about trying to simulate listening to the song for the first time. For example, step away from the song for a while then come back to it and imagine as if I’ve never heard it before and listen to it more mindfully rather than analytically. Then when it gets to a point where nothing sticks out to me, its done. On top of this though, I’m always making music based off a feeling so if it get’s to that stage of production but I still have a knot in my stomach, usually something isn’t right.

MT: Do you have any favourite tricks or gear you like to use consistently on producing your music?  

Blake: OTT makes everything sound better.

MT: Your first songs, ‘Hotel Room’ and ‘Lost’ have exploded since November last year (2018) with millions of streams, and has garnered the attention of major management and representation personnel who also represent Halsey and Shawn Medes. How fast is this all happening for you….how do you feel about the pace of it all? 

Blake: The response to this project has been very rapid which is super reassuring for me knowing that people are actually liking the music that I’m working so hard on to create. 

MT: There are artists all around the world who strive for this kind of success and to be noticed. What do you think makes your music stand out?  

Blake: I think what makes my music stand out aside from my voice is that it stems from such a diverse range of styles and genres. All those pop, punk rock, indie rock, alt-pop, folk, R&B, hip hop, type influences that I listened to growing up through to now have all moulded the music I make today, which I think sits in an interesting space between capturing elements from those different styles yet still keeping it authentic and fresh with lyrics that really make you feel something. 

MT: Apart from your song writing and producing skills, you really know who to sing….do you produce your own vocals too? 

Blake: Yes, I usually produce my own vocals but for “Best of Me” Justin Gammella produced them.

MT: When you write your songs, do you hear how it sounds for the production and vocals in your head first, or do work on the skeleton of the song on Pro Tools or Logic and build it? 

Blake: The writing and production process is often blended for me. I’ll usually write some melodies and lyrics then start working on a scratch production idea which might inspire some other melodies and so on. 

MT: Do you co-write with anyone or write and produce everything yourself? 

Blake: I’m usually writing and producing everything myself however I often write with my roommate in LA, Joel Adams.

MT: Do you play and test your songs with anyone before you decide to record and/or release them? If so, who? 

Blake: Yes, I have a group of about 8-12 friends I’ll send my music to when I finish a song to get opinions.

MT: Your new single is just incredible….(I can’t believe you’re only 21) Can you tell me what ‘Best Of Me’ is about?  

Blake: Thank you! “Best of Me” is about someone very close to me who has battled with drug addiction for a long time and this song is a very personal depiction of what it feels like to watch that take hold of someone’s life.

MT: I saw a picture of you with a dog…(we like dogs here) who’s the dog? 

Blake: I believe the dog you’re talking about is @Daniel ’s dog who is an incredible photographer and shot the artwork for “Lost” and “Best of Me”

MT: How do your family feel about your success so far in the music industry?

Blake: They are super supportive of what I’m doing and can’t wait to see everything unfold as time progresses.

MT: What’s the best piece of advice that’s been given to you? 

Blake: Try to enjoy the journey and not to get too wrapped up in the destination.

Thank you so much for your time Blake, make sure you come back for another interview when you are a massive household name! And you will be a household name, I’m sure of it. ☺ 

Blake Rose is releasing his brand new single, ‘Best Of Me’ this Friday, 19th April on all good streaming and digital platforms.

Hear Blakes new single, ‘Best Of Me’ on ‘Tracey Talks Indie’ this Friday on

YouTube | SpreakeriTunes | iHeart Radio

Hear the ‘Best Of Me’ here

 

Raz Tilley; WTF-Alt-Indie-Folk-Pop-Rock-Country-Blues With a Touch of Soul, Taste of Swing, Tang of Latin and a Trace of Funk

Raz Tilley sparked my attention some 3 years ago when seeing and hearing her sing on several of her video’s. The thoughts and reasons as to why someone begins a music blog; Simply to try their hardest to share music to others they would otherwise perhaps never have encountered amongst the haystack.

Australian Pop Singer Raz Tilley

Raz Tilley is one of those artists who has her feet firmly on the ground with the knowledge and experience of both life and music; meaning Ms. Tilley has, and continues to develop a variety of mixed genre’s and fusion without pinning herself down into that little square box. This I believe, is true art in the form of writing and performing based on experience and emotion enabling the artist to truely create what they are meant to and what they feel at that particular time. 

Tilley is a multi-instrumentalist of saxophone, guitar, piano and blues harp whenever the opportunity arises, including having played with some of Brisbane’s finest musicians. 

Among her many capabilities as a multi-instrumentalist, Tilley also writes and self-produces her work, (which many artists take on now-a-day), but the difference with Raz Tilley, is she does it well….very well.

I guess this would also derive from her background as having not just a degree in Music, Drama and Education, but topping her class in her final years, leaves me thinking, not only is she talented, but a very smart cookie that resembles very close to the perfect and complete package as artist. 

I interviewed Raz recently to find out more about this young woman and her music, and as you will see, and most probably agree, her vast appreciation of music from many genre’s and era’s are refreshing with a slight twist of lemon. (which I like)

 


Music Talks/Tracey: As a singer and multi-instrumentalist, who was it that inspired you to become actively involved in music.?

Raz: I was always pretty fascinated by music and instruments and seeing my dad noodle away on his guitar (when he wasn’t crazy busy working). It made me curious as a young kid. I can distinctly remember the catalyst that made me want to learn the saxophone. I was playing around on a Sunday afternoon and I heard Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street solo and knew I had to try that. With piano it was more of a case of my parents thinking it was a great idea to do something outside of school that promoted a love for music. Also, as a child growing up with intelligent parents, I was allowed and encouraged to watch The Simpsons and, of course, I wanted to be Lisa Simpson.

MT: You began at quite a young age, can you tell us how important it is for any artist, regardless if they are independent or not, to have a great support unit around you.

Raz: I think support is imperative to success and integrity. I know it’s cliché to say, but I truly have been blessed with a wonderfully encouraging family who have given me every opportunity and some good friends and fellow musicians who have provided me with a platform to perform and never doubted my passion for music.

MT: Usually many artists who write their own songs are either inspired by an event, a thought or an experience. Are you inspired often and can you tell the story and what inspired you to write ‘Silent Ones’?

Raz: I suppose that random things have inspired me along the way. I still don’t pretend to understand the creative process, which is quite exciting in a weird sort of way. When you sit down to write and create it can either come naturally and simply, or, at other times, it can be a longer slog and very mechanical, drawing on the technical aspects of playing an instrument and compositional tricks and norms.

Regarding Silent Ones, I thought about one of my very close friends whom I met in high school. She was and still is an incredible person with insight beyond her years. Even as teenagers. I consider myself very lucky to have been accepted into her small circle and became a great friend. Silent Ones is about these people who impact our lives significantly, yet to others might go unnoticed because of their quiet and sometimes introverted demeanour. They might be the real “listeners” amongst society who take things in deeply and contemplate, rather than just give their 2 cents. In a world full of social commentary and virtue-signalling, they are the ones actually doing something real.Australian Pop Singer Raz Tilley

MT: I read that your mother strapped headphones around her stomach while pregnant with you, playing Mozart, Beethoven and Bach. Do you believe in playing classical music to babies to enhance their learning abilities?

Raz: I believe in playing music in general to babies and children. I love seeing a kid just dance along to a song without inhibition. Studies have shown that classical music has a plethora of educational and developmental benefits for children and adults alike. I find those who listen and appreciate classical music have better insight into emotional intelligence. Ultimately though, I think music should be around us all the time as a pleasurable and fundamental part of the human condition. Without music, the world is deafeningly loud.

MT: The relevance to Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven in ‘My Therapy’ is very clever as we hear the common thread throughout the song with the inclusion of guitars and solid drums turning this into a rock ballad production at its finest. How do you come up with these idea’s as both a singer and producer?

Raz: Thank you kindly- that’s very nice of you to say! I can never really escape my classical training and start in music- nor do I want to. All music, like fashion, is cyclic – I mean, there’s only 12 notes to be used, someone’s got to do some re-hashing. I also think music from the great composers is as close to perfection as anyone will get notation-wise and the chordal structure of these pieces is so closely linked to our modern-day pop song, that it just makes sense.  There are some hilarious examples and practical comedy about this as shown by Australian trio Axis of Awesome’s Four Chord Song and standup/musician Rob Paravonian’s rant about Pachebel’s Canon in D. For me, I was playing and reading Classical music from a young age, along with notating and composing my own little melodies and developing an ear for the works of my favourite composers. Beethoven stands out as quite the Romantic and obviously hugely important for any pianist to study. His music is highly emotive and uses beautiful, often sad motifs. The Moonlight Sonata, or Adagio Sostenuto (first movement ), is iconic and recognized by musicians’ and non-musicians’ alike. Structurally, the opening triplet musical device just lends itself to writing a ballad around it and I’ll admit the lyrics formed around the melody easily. I throw my hands up and admit I often “borrow” from the greats. I have more recently, written another ballad that manipulates Saint-Saent’s Le Cygne (The Swan) from The Carnival of the Animals suite.

MT: You have performed with the some of the greatest artists of all time including the likes of the late Wilson Pickett as well as Ray Charles at the very tender age of 14. How did you land such a great gig?

Raz: I have been very lucky to have parents with great musical taste and appreciation. I was always brought along to shows they would go to see at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. One such performance was an opening by Wilson Pickett, followed by the late, great Ray Charles. Sadly, it would be some of the last performances for both of them- so I’m even more grateful I was able to attend. It was a complete fluke that I was asked on stage by Wilson Pickett. He called out to the audience to have someone help him sing the call and response to Land of a 1000 Dances. I don’t know why he chose me, other than maybe because I was about 30-50 years younger than the majority of the audience members.

MT: What do you remember about your performances with Wilson Pickett and Ray Charles?

Raz: All I remember was being so excited to get up on stage with 2 legends of music and this was a school night, so I felt like such a rebel! It was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I’ll always hold it dear to me.

MT: I believe you were one of the very unfortunate to have lost your home in the great flood in Queensland caused by the Wivenhoe damn in 2011 where people lost their lives. This must have been tragic for you. Did you manage to salvage anything and how did you get through that time and re-create your life’s work of music?  

Australian Pop Singer Raz Tilley

 

Raz: The floods were devastating indeed, and so many people in and around Brisbane were adversely affected by the floods. It’s a horrible sight to see your possessions end up on the scrap heap and defiled by mud and water damage. I think, apart from the house, which had to be completely gutted and rebuilt, and the grief my parents went through, the hardest thing was seeing my piano reduced to nothingness and unsalvageable. I think everyone directly affected did their best to move on and get their lives back on track as much as possible, and with the music it was hard to want to write anything that didn’t seem too depressing or morose. To that end, one of the great things about song-writing is the ability to create something beautiful out of tragedy and loss that hopefully listeners can relate to whatever their circumstance.

MT: Indie music seems to be making greater headway into people’s homes slowly, while the larger corporations, labels and services continue to try to dominate and monopolize the industry. As an independent artist, do you feel that there is a chance for indie’s reaching people who usually would have only listened to the commercial artists signed to major labels?

Raz: That’s a great question, to which I don’t know the answer. Independent music really has a much better fighting chance of being heard nowadays, compared to, say, 20 years ago. Social media and other streaming services allow for the globalisation and sharing of artists who previously wouldn’t stand a chance without the support and reigns of a major label. It’s still true today, but I think audiences are discerning enough to seek out new artists too.

MT: As a teacher of music, is there anything you teach about the difficulties and rollercoaster ride the music industry entails? If so, what do you say to your students to encourage them? Raz: That’s a great question, to which I don’t know the answer. Independent music really has a much better fighting chance of being heard nowadays, compared to, say, 20 years ago. Social media and other streaming services allow for the globalisation and sharing of artists who previously wouldn’t stand a chance without the support and reigns of a major label. It’s still true today, but I think audiences are discerning enough to seek out new artists too.

Raz: Being a music teacher is such a joy and privilege because I get to inspire students of all ages and demographics of my passion and engage with them creatively. I don’t tend to talk about the music industry as everyone’s experience will be different from my own. I do, however, say, do what you love and the benefits of your investment of time will be obvious and highly self-gratifying. I don’t really want to discourage or dissuade anyone who dreams of making a name for themselves in the industry. I am there purely to teach and inspire and share my love of the amazing world of music.

MT: What are your plans for 2019?

Raz: This interview of course! Haha! I’m looking to do some more videos for my songs that haven’t been released yet and edit them for various media platforms. Also, I always like to play as much music as I possibly can, whether that be originals, covers or even accompanyist jobs. I also do a bit of stand-up comedy. I’m off to Melbourne in April to see some of my favourite comedians in the annual Melbourne International Comedy Festival and hopefully experience some wonderful art while I’m there.

 

Natalie Pearson and Brook Chivell Team Up With Awesome Feel Good Duet


After touring nationally in 2017, Country Music performers Natalie Pearson and Toyota Star Maker Finalist Brook Chivell have teamed up to release a catchy feel-good duet ‘I Wonder What You Kiss Like’.

Penned by country music favourites Kaylee Bell and The Wolfe Brothers and produced by Adrian Hannan, the song tells the story of a young couple who want to make their first kiss perfect but keep getting interrupted.  Will they, won’t they? 

The song debuted at #2 on the iTunes Country Charts and #31 on the All Genres Chart on its day of release.  The track is currently at #2 on the Country Tracks National AirPlay Chart so it’s off to a great start!

Brook and Natalie enjoyed a very successful 2018, both enjoying chart success with singles and performing at major Country Music Festivals across the country such as Tamworth Country Music Festival, Groundwater Country Music Festival, Deni Ute Muster and Gympie Music Muster. They have also supported country acts such as The Wolfe Brothers, Matt Cornell, Viper Creek Band and Adam Brand.


MT/Tracey: Hi Natalie and Brook. Can you tell me first of all, where in Australia you are both from?

Natalie: I grew up in Perth, Western Australia, but recently moved to the Gold Coast

Brook: I grew up in the north west of Melbourne but I moved to the Gold Coast 4 years ago

MT: Do you think there is a preferred city for Country music, where perhaps most country music artists like to reside?

Natalie: There are Australian Country Artists scattered all over Australia, but I have noticed there’s a little scene building in Gold Coast in Brisbane, and Queensland in general has a real country music love.

BrookCountry music is generally growing all over Australia but there is definitely a vibe in south east Queensland but there’s also a really good scene in Newcastle as well.

MT: You have both had an amazing 2018 both independently, how did you meet?

Natalie: We met briefly at the Tamworth Festival a few years ago, and then had more of a chat and catch up at the CMC Awards 2017.

Brook: The CMC awards in 2017 was where Nat and I met properly and we got along really well.

MT: Who’s idea was it to record a duet with the latest song, ‘I Wonder What You Kiss Like’

Natalie: The song was pitched to me by Nick Wolfe from the Wolfe Brothers, and I loved it straight away. I played it to Brook and we thought it would make a great duet, so we asked the guys and had a play with the arrangement and took it into the studio.

Brook: Nat and I had both made appearances in each others film clips for ‘Mr Wrong, and ‘Hot Country Girl’ so we were looking for a song that might work as a part 3 of that story. We thought ‘I Wonder What You Kiss Like’  would make a fantastic duet when we first heard it and also a great continuation of the story.

MT: The song was written by some of our most loved country artists/writers; Kaylee Bell and The Wolf Brothers, did they write it specifically for you both to record as a duet?

Natalie: They wrote it together as part of a writing session and I think Kaylee had been performing it live in her sets for a little while, but I guess it didn’t suit her vibe at the time so she didn’t record it and instead they held on for someone they thought could bring it to life. So happy it was us!

Brook: What she said haha

MT: The country music community is a close knit one at that, which see’s many artists collaborate and perform with each other. Are there any stories or particular shows or memories that stick with you when working and touring with people like Adam Brand, The Wolf Brothers, Casey Barnes or Ben Ransom?

Natalie: It’s probably more the hang that is the great part about collaborating and working with other artists – everyone is so friendly and down to earth, and a lot of fun to gig with.

Brook: When you’re at one of those shows you just never know when you’re going to end up on stage singing, throwing inflatable toys into the crowd or generally having fun lol

MT: Do you write your own songs?

Natalie: Yeah, we write our own songs! I do a lot of co-writes, I find the ideas flow better when you have someone to bounce off.

Brook: Funnily enough this is the first time I ever recorded a song that i wasn’t part of writing (aside from a cover of Cold Chisel’s ‘Flame Trees’ for my first album).

MT: Who was your biggest inspirations while growing up in the music world?

Natalie: I was inspired by Michael Jackson growing up – his voice and performance was second to none! I also really enjoyed watching Taylor Swift grow from talented teen to world domination.

Brook: My year 7-10 music teacher Ms Tanawaska, I had a whole bunch of friends that learned music at the same time when I was 16 or 17 and we all influenced each other by teaching each other things that we had worked out or learned.

As far as ‘famous’ musicians go, people like Mark Lizotte (Diesel), Cold Chisel, Keith Urban, Buddy Holly, Eric Church (and the list goes on)

MT: When you toured nationally in 2017, how long did the tour go for and what is the one thing you recall from touring that you will never forget? (If there is one)       

Natalie: We had an intensive 2-3 week part where we were driving interstate and performing everyday – sometimes twice! And then we had a few months either side where we flew over to WA, and up to the mine sites, and down to Rural Victoria for some full band shows. Probably the most unforgettable moment was breaking down in Brook’s F100. Thank you RACQ for sorting us out though!

Brook: Haha the funniest part for me was Nat driving Esme (my F100). She needed a pillow behind her back to reach the pedals. So in the end I drove a lot of the time.

 

MT: For those who don’t quite know how a tour is planned and set up, how do you begin the process of setting up a huge national tour? How do you decide what songs to play and…… is there a big bus? (I can’t help think of the Partridge Family. lol)

Natalie: We had some gigs booked through an agent first and basically connected the dots with towns and stops along the way. I researched venues and emailed and called, and also contacted Caravan and Tourist Parks. We travelled in Brooks F100 – so almost like driving a boat down the road – not quote a bus haha!

Brook: It really was a matter of choosing where we wanted to go and contact places in the areas to book shows. It was such a fun time. Hopefully a bus is on the horizon 🙂 that’s what i think of when I think of touring as well

MT: What do you do away from the stage while on tour? Do you test out the local restaurants or play games or exercise?

Natalie: The last tour we did was pretty much just transit between towns, so not much down time! Though on the mine sites they had a pool which was amazing!

Brook: As Nat said it really was get into the venue, set up, sound check, play the show, pack down, load out, find the accomodation and sleep, wake up and head to the next town. We ate at far to many service stations along the way lol

MT: Do you think country music has changed from what it used to be like in Australia?

Natalie: I think like any music style, it evolves and new trends are formed. I definitely think country is the most diverse style at the moment – so many different sounds, it’s great! Something for everyone! (Even if you *think* you don’t like country music!)

BrookI think its evolving which is great. Music that doesn’t evolve dies. Is a very exciting time for country music. Radio stations that would ordinarily balk at playing anything with the label ‘country’ associated are starting to play Keith Urban, Kasey Musgrave, Morgan Evans and many more.

MT: Congratulations BTW on the incredible achievement of ‘I Wonder What You Kiss Like’ debuting at #2 on the iTunes Country Chart, as well as #31 on the all genre’s chart and more…what a great start to 2019. Do you have plans to tour again?

Natalie: Thank you so much! We have a few gigs already booked in for the next few months – Gold Coast, Ballina, Sydney and Kilkivan, and then later in the year we have a couple of festivals including Gympie Muster in August.

Brook: We are definitely planning to get out on the road a lot this year. We have quite a few shows booked for the next few months and I’m playing at VDM fest on October 12 in Biloela and a few other things that we can’t quite let out of the bag yet

MT: All the best with the new single. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Natalie: Thanks so much for all your support! We love hearing back from everyone who digs our music – feel free to hit us up on our social media pages! @natpearsonmusic

Brook: Thank you so much for having us. We really appreciate it.

To all the readers please get out and support live country (or any) music in your area no matter who it is. We all appreciate your support

If people would like to find me on Social Media its @brookchivellofficial

Thank you so much for your time Natalie and Brook, I really appreciate it.

 

Buy ‘I Wonder What You Kiss Like’

iTunes

The Golden Voice of Mike Silver and 50 Years In Song


Mike Silver is certainly no newcomer to the music business, quite the contrary. He is a man who finds the greatest joy in performing to his audience and interacting no matter how big or small. In fact Mike Silver has a passion which has seen him perform for 50 years, and there’s no stopping him.

Hailing from Cornwall UK, his talents have finally been noticed abroad with his pure heartfelt songs blended with the impeccable warmth tones of his voice, he certainly knows how to deliver from the soul. 

Mike Silver has released eight albums to date with his 9th album appropriately titled, ’50 Years Of Song’ due for release on 26th March. 

It was such a pleasure to interview a man of great experience and knowledge and learn more about his passion and how it all began. 

Musician Mike Silver

 

MT/Tracey: Hi Mike, lovely to cyber meet you. Firstly, where are you?

Mike: Camelford, Cornwall, South West UK

MT: Ok, now, I have to admit, when I heard you, it was a wow experience. Can we tell people you age? How old are you?

Mike: It is what it is mate, I’m 73

MT: You’ve been in the music business for 50 years, what have you been doing and why haven’t we heard of you before now?

Mike: How long have you got? Without trying to give you a life story in one paragraph I think its fair to say that promo isn’t my forté. If I can get on a stage in front of people, I feel confident that they will enjoy listening to my songs, the intros to them and they will go home at the end of the night feeling as if they have been on an entertaining, eventful and interesting journey with me. But if you ask me to pick up a phone and convince a stranger that I’m (insert superlatives and flowery adjectives here) they lose the will to live in short order! As to what I have been doing I think that kind of belongs more in the answer to the next question if that’s okay?

MT: Can you remember what it was that first inspired you to pursue a career in music?

Mike: Unfortunately I cannot answer this without taking into account the many different but equally important factors that signposted that journey. When I was about 9 my 3 older brothers (one of them had already begun to infect* me with the ’78’ and ’45’ records that he was spending his weekly wages on, so I had been listening to the likes of; Lonnie Donegan, Chris Barber’s Jazz Band featuring Monty Sunshine on Clarinet, Slim Whitman, The Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group, Guy Mitchell, Phil Harris; the voice of Disney’s Jungle Book Baloo, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, The Everly Brothers to name just a few for quite a while at this time and; singing along to them when I thought nobody else could hear as well!) had a party at home one Saturday night. Next morning I found a guitar which one of their friends had left behind. I ‘borrowed’ it from where it was leaning against the wall by the front door and snuck into the living room with it. I managed about 5 minutes with it before my mum took it away from me but she was already too late! I made deal with myself right there and then that I was going to play guitar. I mean  I wasn’t thinking about where that decision would take me but I became very focused on the idea of having one! My folks formed and sustained their own ‘Berlin Wall’ and for a while it looked like it was never going to happen. I was eventually given a ukulele for my 14th Christmas present with a ‘play in a day’ book. My Dad said if I could become ‘proficient’ on it in 6 months he would ‘help’ me  to buy a guitar. On that Christmas Day in the afternoon I played my parents Livin’ Doll by Cliff Richard. Nobody was more surprised by that than me! Within about 12 months, I bought a guitar for £3/10s shillings. This purchase was pre-empted by somebody ‘accidentally’ sitting on the uke. About another year later I started playing youth club dances with a guy who could play lead guitar (a la Hank Marvin) while I provided rhythm and sang. It didn’t take me long to discover that I was never going to be a lead guitarist so I started singing to give myself something to play to. I progressed to 60’s beat groups from there and had a short spell in a Rhythm and Blues band. Once you have played The Blues it never leaves you! In 1966 I was pretty much dragged into a folk club in Canterbury, Kent to hear a blues singer and fantastic exponent of Big Bill Broonzy called Gerry Loughran. Gerry, who became a friend until his death in the 80’s, played acoustic guitar but sounded like a band all on his own! This ‘door’ swung open and revealed a strange and extraordinarily beautiful world. Although I had never seen it, I knew I had come home. Though the Blues is still reflected in my music, I quickly became addicted to early Dylan and through him became aware of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Tom Rush, Paul Simon and many more. I was introduced to the outstanding songwriting and musicianship of Randy Newman in the early 70’s and was inspired and moved in equal measure by many of the songs written by these artists along with too many others to include here.Musician Mike Silver

*Infect is a strange choice of word but I cannot think of a better one to describe what happened to me!

MT: It has been mentioned that you are the UK’s best Kept secrets, something in which I tend to agree, (although I’m in Australia). When you have released records (CD’s) and now that the world has changed somewhat, do you feel that you are being noticed and heard?

Mike: Only occasionally really but as I said that is down to me. Basically I have just sold my CDs when on the road, mentioning them during gigs and saying that I had them for sale etc. I don’t know how to inhabit the world of getting in people’s faces and making my presence felt enough so that people will listen to me just to get rid of me! I know one or two guys who do the same kind of thing that I do that are possessed of the ability to wear a number of different hats. How they flip seamlessly between agent/manager/record company CEO/artist mode beggars belief. I’m not sure if I wish I could do that or not…

MT: It goes without saying that if someone has continued for 50 years in music, that it has to be the love of your life. How do you keep going with new song ideas and playing gigs. Have you ever had times when you’ve felt like throwing it all in?

Mike: Without doubt but I chose this for myself and though the bad times (I refer to being broke with an unfilled date sheet) haven’t been great, the good times have been wonderful. I believe very firmly that success is relative. Playing a good gig for an audience is what I want to do. In terms of the success I have or only very occasionally don’t have, the size of the audience is irrelevant. It is about making contact with them and of course when a large audience (my biggest ever was 8000 in Denmark) really ‘get’ what you do and respond accordingly its brilliant. I once played an unforgettable gig in Scarborough for 12 people, they gave me back everything I gave them double and this benign snowball rolled back and forth between us all the way through. It will be with me always. My smallest ever audience was 7 people. I bought them all a drink in the interval.

MT: I admit, when I was told your age and heard you sing, my jaw dropped. You sound like you’re in your 30’s! You have such a beautiful timber to your voice. Have you done or do you do anything special to keep it sounding so good?

Mike: After smoking from the age of 15 to the age of 52 I gave up. I was so totally addicted to nicotine and can still hardly believe 21 years later that I actually did it!

MT: Love your page on your website called ‘The Music Room’, showing your precious collection of guitars. Do you have a favourite?

Mike: I love and I am in love with them all!

MT: It looks like you play a lot of gigs including some outside of the UK. Would you like to travel further to play for people if you had the opportunity?

Mike: Yes.

MT: I’ve been listening to your latest songs, ‘Not for You’ and ‘Wrong Side of Midnight’. Just beautiful songs with beautiful melodies that took me on a really amazing journey. Can you tell us what ‘Not for You’ is about?

Mike: ‘Not for You’ is me giving myself some (I think) sound advice about accepting that my youngest daughter was perfectly capable of making her own decisions with regard to the relationships she chose to enter into. It is saying, very politely, “wind your neck in pal!”

MT: You sing so effortlessly. How has your voice changed over the years and your approach to singing? (if any)

Mike: Thank you for this lovely compliment and the one in the previous question. You may not be aware of it but; I believe you would be hard put to find people who do what I do who actually don’t like it when others say nice things about them! I think that my voice is perhaps not as clear or as strong as it was 10 – 15 years ago, especially at the top of my range. There is no doubt that never smoking would have been best but I’m lucky that I stopped when I did. There might be a totally different story to tell today if I had not.EP Cover

MT: What other passions or hobbies do you like?

Mike: I enjoy working with my hands, a little carpentry, my lovely wife Julie cleverly finds me jobs to build something that she needs for the garden. I do a little amateur joinery; I do most of my own equipment/cable repairs soldering etc. and I like making things from leather and sewing them by hand.

MT: Have you ever worked in a day job?

Mike: I left school at 15 and was apprenticed to the then nationalised South Eastern Gas Board as a gas fitter. I passed my City & Guilds B exam in gas fitting. Having completed that part of the training I left aged 22 to become a professional musician.

MT: With your experience, what would you say to upcoming artists who are keen to venture into the music business?

Mike: Keep your own council. Enjoy a compliment when it comes along but don’t live by anything anyone writes about you good or bad. If anyone offers you a contract find a lawyer or lawyers you can trust (is there such a thing?) and also spend a great deal of time reading it yourself, over and over again before you sign it. If anyone tells you that certain parts of it are not important they are lying. There is a great deal more I could say but I’ll refrain from doing that. Just take care as you go along, you’ll probably make mistakes, just try to learn from them.

MT:  Today (9th March) you have just released your AA Side single, ‘Wrong Side Of Midnight’ and ‘Not For You’. (which are just incredible, I’m now a fan). When can we expect your next album?

Mike: Again my thanks. To mark my 50th year of recording, Folkstock Records are launching my album “Alchemy, 50 years in Song” on 26th March. This comprises 16 songs chosen from my back catalogue and I am immensely proud of it. 

MT: Is there anything else you would like to mention to us?

Mike: I feel very privileged to be releasing with Folkstock Records. Helen Meissner who runs it has been a joy and an inspiration to work with and although I am 50 years down the line so to speak, I feel as excited about this as if I was just starting out and that is mainly due to her fantastic work ethic and enthusiasm. I have always craved the opportunity to play in Australia and that is most definitely a hint.

MT: Thank you so much Mike for your time. And we would love to see you perform in Australia! Wishing you all the very best and here’s to the world discovery of Mike Silver

 

 

RnB Singer Evelyn Feroza will ‘BLOW – YOUR – MIND’; A Voice To Die For


EVELYN FEROZA (Malaysia) An established singer on the Malaysian live circuit, known for her powerhouse vocal delivery and onstage persona. She has also been featured on numerous recordings, most  recently with her live version of Michael Pignéguy’s release Just Out Of Reach and her own single Close Your Eyes in conjunction with renowned U.S. trombone player – Q Sound / Marques Young. Evelyn has also featured on the Kuala Lumpur Jazz Festival and is well known to Singaporean audiences performing at key venues such as Cool Cats. Evelyn has recorded new releases with Michael that will be released mid-2019.

 

Here’s a fun interview to read with Evelyn Feroza.

Rnb Singer Evelyn Feroza

 

MT/Tracey: Hello Evelyn, lovely to meet you. How were you introduced to music?

Evelyn: I was introduced to music at a very early age, from listening to Frank Sinatra’s tunes when i was toddler courtesy of my Grandfather, Rex Charles Fernandez, to humming and singing Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Céline Dion numbers, courtesy of Family Karaoke Party lol.

MT: Was there anyone in particular who inspired you?

Evelyn: Whitney, Mariah, Celine and Local Malaysian Artist such as Misha Omar , Dato Siti Nurhaliza were the main ones

MT: You are super talented and have seemed to have done so much at such a young age. Did you have formal vocal training?

Evelyn: Thank you very much! I was in a school choir group for a bit, way back during my Primary School days. But that about it hehe.

MT: What styles of music do you sing?

Evelyn: Jazz, Ballad, Pop, RnB, Funk, Rock, .. etc i try not to limit myself haha

MT: I saw a video of you performing live recently and wow, I’m blown away. You look like you are having so much fun and you’re so damn good! How do you feel when you’re up there with the band performing?Singer Evelyn Feroza

Evelyn: Awww Thank you. There were times when no words could describe how I actually felt. Although Happiness is always on Top of the Feels 😉 I enjoy performing.

MT: Where are you based mainly?

Evelyn: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

MT: You voice is absolutely incredible, I’m still in awe of your sound, tone, vibe and performances. If there was one person who you would love to support or be sharing a world-wide tour with, who would it be?

Evelyn: Honestly it would be with my Bands from Malaysia. I have quite a few and i love all of them! Touring with them would be Epic! Then again maybe…. I wouldn’t mind Justin Timberlake too HAHAHAHA (he’s first pick actually) I would Faint if that actually happened

MT: Do you have any specific vocal warm ups or rituals you do before you go out on stage?

Evelyn: Not really.. it kinda depends on how i feel. No rituals Yet too.. Sometimes Tabby (My Manager) massages my feet before i get on stage.. I’M TOTALLY KIDDING.. if anything it’s the other way around.. I’m kidding about that too..

MT: Have you toured internationally?

Evelyn: I haven’t but I WOULD LOVE TO! I have sang for Events overseas tho- I have events in Cambodia, Switzerland, Thailand, Korea but touring would be so amazing

MT: Do you have any of your own music out for sale? (an EP or Album available)

Evelyn: I have a single out called Close Your Eyes – Evelyn Feroza feat Q Sound. You can find it in Spotify, itunes, Youtube etc. No Album or EP yet. But stay tuned.. it shall come! I’m actually in the process of releasing a few more singles this year in collaboration with talented good friends of mine

MT: What do you like doing in your spare time? (if you have any)

Jazz Singer Evelyn FerozaEvelyn: Just Chilling at home and hanging out with friends and Family.. Waiting for Marvel movies .. Becoming Ironman’s sidekick.. You know, the usual stuff

MT: How much hard work and practice goes into preparing for your shows?

Evelyn: I believe the in the saying “ The more the Better” so I can’t really put a number on it but a lot.

MT: I’ve noticed you are coming to Australia. Woo Hoo, this is so awesome! Why are you coming to Australia and where will you be performing?

Evelyn: YES I AM! And I can’t wait 😍 Always been in my bucket list. I’m coming to Perform with Michael Pignéguy and his Amazing musician lineups at the Vanguard in Sydney on June 7th. Ohh the EXCITEMENT! Thank Michael for giving me this opportunity 🙏🏽

MT: How did you meet Michael Pigneguy?

Evelyn: We met in Johor, Malaysia for the first time in 2017 for the IPJazz Festival. I had so much fun. Was an honour to share the stage with such prestigious musicians. We’ve done 2 more shows after that in No Black Tie Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It’s safe to say we’re buddies hehe

MT: Thank you so much for your time Evelyn, I really appreciate it.

Evelyn: Thank you for having me!

 

You can also read our interview with Michael Pigneguy HERE

     Evelyn Feroza and Michael Pigneguy are giving away two free tickets to our readers to the show at

               👉🏼                The Vanguard in Newtown (Sydney) for Friday 7th June.                       

To be in the running all you need to do is share the interview and take a screenshot of where it was shared to.

Email us the screenshot with your full name and phone number to musictalkscompetitions@gmail.com     

Too Easy!  💜e

 

 

Alemay Fernandez Holds Her Own as One Of The Best Jazz Singers In The World


Hailed by TimeOut magazine as one of Singapore’s “best-loved entertainers”, Alemay Fernandez is a veteran performer in the Asian jazz scene. In her illustrious 19 year career, she has performed with the likes of The Count Basie Orchestra, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, David Foster, Gregory Porter, Ernie Watts, Randy Brecker, Antonio Hart, Mitch Frohman, Jay Anderson, Lewis Nash, Ed Cherry, Incognito, Ray Parker Jr, The Platters’ Bobby Soul, William Close & The Earth Harp Collective and opened for Laura Fygi & Benny Golson. She has sung for A-listers like Kevin Spacey, Ethan Hawke, Joss Stone, Kurt Elling, Lea Salonga, Paloma Picasso, Serena Williams as well as Presidents & Prime Ministers. In the Summer of 2017 she headlined the legendary Birdland Jazz Club in NY.

Jazz Singer Alemay

 

MT/Tracey: Hello Alemay, it’s such an honour to interview you. You’ve done so much in your career; how did you begin as a singer and who or what inspired you?

Alemay: Hi Tracey it’s a pleasure to get to do this interview. thank you for including me. My Dad loved great vocalists and always had jazz music playing in the house as far back as I can remember. It really informed my love for music getting to hear Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Brooke Benton & gospel singer Mahalia Jackson wafting through the house on a daily basis. I was also blessed to grow up in a family that loved to sing and pretty much everyone in my family has a great voice. We’d all gather every Sunday at my Grandmother’s house and after lunch we’d sit around the piano and sing as a family. Automatically splitting into harmonies spontaneously. Then at age 10, my mother (realising I was a drama queen) took me for my first audition and I was cast in the musical theatre production “The Sound Of Music” as Louisa von Trapp. I continued to do theatre throughout my teenage years as well as sing in my church choir till I was almost 19 and was then able to sing in pubs.

MT: How many years have you been singing for?

Alemay: My first pub gig was pretty much the beginning of my adult singing career and I am now going into my 20th year as a professional singer.

MT: Do you recall your first ever performances?

Alemay: Oh yes with such lucidity. With the exception of my first tv appearance at age 4 on the kids show Romper Room, I can remember them all. I recited poetry on a kids talent show at age 7 because all the singing slots were taken. Was acting in educational videos and doing voiceovers at 9 and of course performing for my family at Sunday lunches.

MT: You have been dubbed by Time Out Magazine as Singapore’s best loved entertainer. Is singing your full-time career and how many shows would you do on average within any given time? (say, 6 months)

Alemay: Yes singing is my main career and I average 2 – 3 performances a week. I am also a part-time vocal lecturer at the local arts college here in Singapore. I also do voiceovers for commercials. I am the voice behind commercials for Singapore Airlines and Friso Baby Milk Powder.

MT: Did you do formal vocal training or is it your natural ability to sound so astounding?

Alemay: I definitely have great genes as both sides of my family can sing and are musically inclined. So I am blessed with natural gift BUT it takes a lot of effort to maintain and I have also taken informal lessons over the years at different stages in my career from a variety of vocal professionals which has helped me cultivate great vocal technique and maintain good vocal health. And that’s really what makes the difference.

MT: Do you listen to or notice upcoming singers and performers? If so, do you get blown away by any?

Alemay: Yes all the time! I absolutely LOVE Cecile McLorin-Salvant and there’s an incredible vocalist from South Africa who lives in New York and his name is Vuyo Sotashe who blew me away when I saw him perform at Dizzy’s club while I was in New York last Summer.

MT: You have performed with some of the world’s best, namely The Count Basie Orchestra, David Foster, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, Gregory Porter, Ernie Watts, just to name a few. How would you describe the experience as a seasoned singer working with other great musicians?

Alemay: Well it’s funny how you think you’re a seasoned singer until you get to perform with people at their level and then all of a sudden you feel like you’re a kid getting to learn from the greats. They are all so incredibly decorated and insanely talented and yet so humble and down-to-earth. All very sobering and highly fulfilling collaborations that I feel so fortunate to have been able to experience. The highlights of my career for sure.

MT: Do you continue to learn different ways or pick up new idea’s through new collaborations and experiences?

Alemay: Every single day. And I’m pretty sure that will continue to happen throughout my career. i firmly believe if you keep an open mind and always look for opportunities to collaborate, you’ll never stop growing and improving and that’s how you stay creative and grounded.

MT: I’ve noticed you have also performed for some huge A-listers like Kevin Spacey, Ethan Hawke, Joss Stone, Serena Williams and even Presidents and Prime Ministers. Can you share with the fans what it’s like to sing for these people? How does it make you feel and do you get to interact with them off stage?

Alemay: I got to interact with Kevin Spacey, Ethan Hawke and Joss Stone but sadly not Serena Williams or any Presidents/Prime Ministers except for the Singapore Presidents. The repertoire is often decided for you for political events. I sang jazz standards for Kevin & Ethan. Joss Stone asked for “Cry Me A River” & Paloma Picasso asked for “Moon RIver”

MT: I see you’re based in Singapore. How often do you tour or travel outside of Singapore for shows?

Alemay: At the moment with the out-of-town shows, I’m averaging once a month for abt a week at a time. Which I think it’s perfect and am enjoying very much getting to perform with great musicians all over the world and perform for different music loving audiences. Life is pretty amazing!Singer Alemay Fernandez

MT: Your album, ‘Hard To Imagine’ took 5 years to make and includes 21 musicians who are cream of the crop. This is such a superb album which includes Erik Hargrove (toured with James Brown and Bootsy Collins) Why did it take 5 years to make this album?

Alemay: Well it took that long because I decided to be adventurous and make every song quite different in terms of arrangement and instrumentation. I was doing a lot of things for the first , writing, producing, arranging. So there was a lot to learn. But largely because I was self-funding and had to take breaks to earn money to pay for everything song by song. Luckily my wonderful sister, Sabina, organised a fund raiser and that really helped alot!

MT: I noticed that 9 of the tracks from the album were written and co-written by you. Was this the first time of trying your hand at song writing?

Alemay: I co-wrote 6 of the songs and the remaining 3 originals were written by music colleagues and one set of lyrics came from my sister. So it’s a good mix of material. And yes I was writing for the first time so it was intimidating to say the least. But thankfully I had great guidance from my co-producer an co-writer Shawn Letts who is also like a brother to me.

MT: I’ve also noticed that you are a vocal lecturer in the Vocal Faculty at the Lasalle College of The Arts Singapore. Are you still lecturing?  

Alemay: Yes and I have been since 2012. There’s so.mich budding talent. I’m happy I can be a part of their journey. They teach me and inspire me too.

MT: Could you give some budding singers any great advice and tips on how to sing?  

Alemay: The key is to take time to relax all your muscles before you start singing and then be sure to be sincere with your expression. Never forget you are a storyteller. And how well you tell your story decides how well you’ll hold an audience.

MT: No doubt you are preparing for your next international show in Australia with the great Michael Pigneguy called ‘The Vanguard’, Where worlds Collide. Have you performed in Australia before?

Alemay: To date I have only performed in Perth so I very much look forward to my Sydney debut!

MT: It looks like a huge show with so many great artists and musicians. Who’s involved in ‘The Vanguard’ show with Michael Pigneguy?

Alemay: Well there’s of course the man himself on drums. Other guest performers Marques Young aka Q Sound from the U.S. on trombone and Evelyn Feroza from Malaysia also on vocals along with an Australian rhythm section of course.

MT: What will you be singing in the show?

Alemay: There’ll be a mix of standards, new originals that the band members have written together and a little bit of soul. Someting for everyone.

MT: This show will be super exciting and notice that it’s on June 7th. Where will the show be held?

Alemay: It will at The Vanguardin Newton. And I cannot wait to see everyone!

MT: If you can answer this question, it would be great. But what if the show is sold out? Would you be adding more dates?

Alemay: Sadly I don’t think we can do that. But hopefully next time!

MT: Alemay, thank you so much for your time, I really hope to be able to get to the show. 

Alemay: Really hope to get to meet you at the show Tracey. Thanks again for having me!

You can also read our interview with Michael Pigneguy HERE

 

 Alemay Fernandez and Michael Pigneguy are giving away two free tickets to our readers to the show at

               👉🏼                The Vanguard in Newtown (Sydney) for Friday 7th June.                       

To be in the running all you need to do is share the interview and take a screenshot of where it was shared to. Email us the screenshot with your full name and phone number to

      musictalkscompetitions@gmail.com      

Too Easy!  💜

 

 

 

‘Born on Stage’ Indie Rock 4-Piece and Stand Out Live Act, The Trusted


UK-based Indie Rock four-piece The Trusted have been building a hard-earned reputation as a stand out live act and one of the rising stars of the UK’s Independent Music Scene.  With their debut EP out this Friday (March 8th), we talk to lead singer Tom Cunningham about the EP, the live shows, the British music scene and the past, present, and future of The Trusted.  

Indie Band The Trusted

 Viciou

Tobi: You just dropped your first release of 2019.  Tell us a bit about it.

The Trusted: We actually finished recording the track a just over a year ago so we’ve been sitting on it for a little while now. We are very proud of this song; I think it represents a different side to our sound and highlights where we are going. It’s definitely one of our more playful songs.

Tobi: With the decline of Record Stores, new releases simply ‘go live’ on our phones, tablets, and desktops.  Does ‘the release’ carry the same significance that it once did?

The Trusted: I think new releases still carry some element of significance. We live in a fast food society where we like to consume quickly and then move on, so the quicker we can get the music to the fans the better. As long as the music is still puncturing holes in culture, I think new releases will hold significance in one way or another.

Tobi: You celebrated the release of ‘Vicious’ at the Camden Assembly.  How was the show?

The Trusted: It was really great.  Definitely a special night

Tobi: Is the release party as much about sharing the moment with your fans as it is about promoting the new single?  

The Trusted: Yeah, we always think release parties put exclamation marks next to our new singles. We like to make these moments important for both our fans and us.

Playing Live and a Mini Tour in Italy

Tobi: You played over 120 gigs in 2018.  How much does playing live and in particular the crowd’s reaction, influence/inform your songwriting/sound?T

The Trusted: Every gig we play pushes us forward in terms of both songwriting and identity. Playing live is so important to us, we feel like The Trusted was born on stage.   

Tobi: Even with social media, do you feel playing live is still the best way to connect to fans?

The Trusted: Oh yes…. When everything comes together at the gig, it feels like we go somewhere that is only possible on stage.

Tobi: Does playing live give a band/artist more legitimacy or does it depend on the type of music they’re making?

The Trusted: It all depends on the artist. Music is flexible; it can be what you want it to be.  

 

Tobi: You did a short tour of Italy in November 2018 with Brexhip.  Who or what is Brexhip and how did that come about?

The Trusted: Brexhip are an intelligent group of brilliant people who want to bridge the gap between the Italian and British music scenes. They’ve been very supportive of our work since the beginning of last year and we love what they do. The idea behind the tour kinda just happened organically  

Tobi: Was the experience of playing in front of crowds in Italy different from back home?

The Trusted: It was great. Every night was fantastic, the crowds were on fire! The beautiful thing with music is that it transcends language and cultural boundaries. There was so much love and energy every night. So I guess it wasn’t really that different, we were just so glad we could take our music to a different place!

Your Sound and Your First EP

Tobi: The sound of The Trusted has evolved rapidly in the last year so.  Why do you think that is?

The Trusted: Well, we are writing all the time, whenever we can. I think every time you write something new, you push your own sound that little bit further. In the last year, we feel we’ve hit this new sweet spot.

Tobi: Your previous release, ‘Cigarettes and Chandeliers’ and new release, ‘Vicious’ were both mixed/mastered by a seasoned pro, Pete Gleadall.  What made you go ‘outside’ to find a mix/masterer? And what drew you to his work?

The Trusted: We’ve been good friends with Pete for a while now. He caught us at a show right at the beginning and has been following us ever since. He’s a fantastic producer and such a great guy to work with. He knows our sound very well so it just made sense

Tobi: You’ve been working hard on your first EP.  When are we going to get to hear it and what can you tell us about it?

The Trusted: You’ll be able to hear it on the 8th of March. It going to tie together all the stuff we’ve released over the last year. We can’t wait!

Tobi; The early LPs were simply collections of singles.  The ‘concept’ album came later. With the advent of streaming media, you could say, we’ve gone full circle back to where we started.

The Trusted: Yeah, streaming has given more power to the listener. People don’t have to listen to albums from start to finish; they can just pick and choose tracks in any order.

Tobi: Has streaming media killed the ‘concept album’ dead?

The Trusted: I still know a lot of people though who love listening to albums in full. You don’t see many concept albums anymore but I don’t think anything is ever truly dead, albums are still important. I think a concept album could still work if done right!

Tobi; And how did you approach your EP, as a collection of stand-alone songs or unified by one concept, theme or emotion?  And if so, can you tell us a little bit about that?

The Trusted: All the songs on the EP focus on raw emotion so we thought they would work well strung together. Hopefully, when you listen to it, you’ll see that all the songs fit together both sonically and lyrically.  

Britain Vs America

Tobi: Britain enjoys a rich heritage in popular music.  Many of the world’s most iconic and influential bands/artists began life in her streets and suburbs.  But their bright light can cast a long shadow over the subsequent generations’ music-makers.

What are they to you?  A source of inspiration?  A weight of expectation around your necks?  A target to hit and then better? All of the above?    

The Trusted: A Source of inspiration definitely! Whenever we find ourselves stuck, we go back and listen to all the stuff that made want to make the music in first place. You tend to find a lot of the time, the people who inspire you to hold the answers.

—-

Tobi: Blur released ‘Parklife’ a month before my 17th birthday.  I was very much part of the Britpop generation. And as much as it served to celebrate the music of Britain and the bands of the time, it also alienated them from the audiences of other countries; most notably the in the US, where few had any real success.

Are you aware of having to strike a balance between the music being of your nation and culture, but accessible and appealing to all?

The Trusted; We try to not to think about it. I’ve been inspired by a lot of American artists and I know Dale is really into American Hip-Hop (bands like Brockhampton) so unconsciously, the Trusted’s sound has some sort of American influence. Whether that plays a role in how our music translates to people across the pond, I don’t know.  

The Future

Tobi: Spotify’s decision to ‘open up’ its playlists to Independents has made the life of an Independent band much more viable.  On the other hand, the vast majority of distribution, and exhibition is locked up by the major labels.

Do The Trusted need to sign for a major label to reach their full potential as a band?  Or is the reverse true, and you, in fact, need to stay Independent to be able to control your own sound and artistic direction?

The Trusted: We are open to everything. We are just seeing where things take us.  I see the case for both sides but again I think it all depends on the artist.

Tobi: Where do The Trusted want to be 12 months from now?  

The Trusted: Somewhere Special xx  

 

 

Danielle Todd Is Set To Soar With A Fresh New Sound to Country Music


Crazy, the debut radio single by Ontario born Canadian Country Singer/Songwriter Danielle Todd, is one of those songs that will stop you in your tracks. Highlighted by passionate and compelling vocals, a universal message about the disarming nature of love, and a vibrant production that will please music lovers across many genres, Todd has seemingly solved the magical formula of how to meld the best elements of modern musical styles with a singer/songwriter’s touch for lyrical depth and literacy. Crazy is a masterstroke of composition that marks the emergence of a fresh, confident artist onto a much larger musical stage.

Singer Danielle Todd

 

 

Danielle Todd released her exciting debut single ‘Crazy’ to Australian Country Radio recently. Danielle, who is now Nashville based, delivers a fresh new sound to country music.  Having toured Australia previously, this is her first major release, and we had a chat with Danielle about her music, touring and future plans.

MT/Tracey: Hi Danielle. How long have you been singing for?

Danielle: I have been singing since I was a little girl, even before I can remember. Music runs in my family, so I grew up singing. I really started to take music seriously when I was in high school. When I was 15 I started booking and promoting my own shows in my hometown. I also joined a couple of bands and worked at a music store.

MT: Why did you choose the path of country music?

Danielle: Country music was always around when I was growing up and I was very influenced by a lot of female country music stars. Then about five years ago I started making trips to Nashville to explore the music scene here. It was such a cool experience being around such talented musicians in the country scene. It made me fall even deeper in love with country music.

MT: Who is your biggest inspiration?

Danielle: There are SO many! It would start with my musical family. My cousin, Mike Todd was a great inspiration and I really learned a lot from him about live performance. After that I listened to a lot of female country artists growing up, and still do today. Some of my favourites are Ashley McBryde, Caitlyn Smith, Miranda Lambert, Pistol Annies and so many more. My favourite performers right now are Brothers Osborne and Keith Urban.

MT: You are originally from Canada and now reside in Nashville, yet I’ve noticed you have toured Australia. Can you tell me why you have chosen Australia?

Danielle:  I had the opportunity to live in Sydney a few years ago and tour around the country. I fell in love with Australia. The weather, the scenery, the people, everything about it is so beautiful. I am SO looking forward to another Australian visit.

MT: Do you write your own songs?

Danielle: I sure do!

MT: I see that you are very busy with what seems like an endless list of shows; has your shows/gigs help with your debut release of ‘Crazy’?

Danielle: The shows that I play in Nashville at Tootsie’s have taught me a lot about how to perform, be on stage with a band, be under pressure, keep up to date with new music and how to deal with crazy people in the crowd! Ha! As for my release of “Crazy”, I am setting up more original shows after my radio tour to get back into the swing of my original music.

MT: Can you tell us a bit about the song ‘Crazy’?

Danielle: This song was written with Caitie Thompson and Bobbi Holliday. It came together so quickly with the three of us meeting that day. By the end of three hours we had the whole song written with three-part harmony. It was written all about how when you fall in love, even when you’re emotionally stable, you can feel like you’re losing your mind. In the best way possible!

MT: Is there an album to follow?

Danielle: I have been writing a lot over the last year, and taking multiple writers trips. In the next year there will be more music. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

MT: As an independent artist who is trying to break outside of Canada and USA, how do you fund your music and touring?

Danielle: Oh boy! What a question! Well, for the first single “Crazy” I saved up enough money to pay for the initial boost on my own. I also got a small grant from the Canadian government. This helped with radio and publicity. Now, I am doing a GoFundMe campaign online to help with additional costs. The radio tour in Canada will be quite a bit of money. So far my fans have rallied together and I’ve managed to raise just over $2000. That will be a big help for the tour!

MT: I’ve seen some of your Instagram posts and have to ask, are you a health nut? (I know weird question, but I saw the organic eggs, nitrate free stuff and uncured bacon)

Danielle: I really try my hardest to use organic produce (when I can afford it) and use mostly natural skin care products. I absolutely love cooking, so I try to keep up to date with healthy options to fuel my body for my weird working hours and high-energy job. That’s not to say that I don’t ever eat unhealthy! When I’m hungry and fries are my only option, I will eat fries. That being said, I also try to pack a lunch for most of my gigs. I’ll bring carrots, cocoa dusted almonds, grapes, meatballs, etc. I really try to take care of myself. When it comes to skin care I use jojoba oil to wash my face and shea butter as a moisturizer and that’s it. I try and keep my skin products as natural and easy as possible.

MT: Do you like reading?

Danielle: I love reading!

MT: What’s the last book you’ve read? (Yes, I saw the book too on Instagram) What’s the latest read?

Danielle: I’m loving these questions! The last book I read was “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things” by Bryn Greenwood. I couldn’t put it down. I also just recently read “Not A Sound” by Heather Gudenkauf.

MT: How are you coming up with your song ideas? Are you collaborating?

Danielle: I do collaborate and I am a huge fan of it. I used to write all the time by myself, and I still do, but I find that ideas come together much easier when there are a couple other people in the room to bounce some ideas off of. It also opens doors to other writers and expands your circle with networking.

MT: Do you have your own band?

Danielle: I do have my own band and am doing a couple shows in Canada in a couple weeks with them. I can’t wait! I also work every weekend with the same band on Broadway. They’re my best friends.

MT: Do you have plans to return to Australia?

Danielle: Yes! I am hoping for early 2020.

MT: I’ve noticed you have a dog too…(omg, I’m not stalking you, just did my research. Lol) But we are big dog lovers here. Just wondering who takes care of your dog and how much do you miss her when you go away? And, does she go nuts when you come home?

Danielle: Oh, my love, Nellie. She is my absolute best friend and it broke my heart to leave her back home in Canada when I moved to Nashville. Before I moved to Nashville I actually lived in my aunts basement apartment and she technically bought Nellie, but all three of us took care of her. So when I left it was heartbreaking. My aunt would send me pictures of her sitting at the top of the stairs waiting for me to come up in the mornings. She goes completely bonkers when I come home to see her! It’s the best feeling in the world.

MT: Is there anything else you would like to mention?

Danielle: I’m so happy that Australia has accepted my music with open arms and I can’t wait to come back to meet all my Aussie fans. Please follow my music on Spotify and check out my video for “Crazy” on YouTube. Thank you for doing your research, Tracey! I had a wonderful time answering these questions for you. Cheers!

Thanks for the interview Danielle, very much appreciated.

 

 

New Indie Music from Gravity Castle Sounds Like a Commercial Smash


From what began as two musicians taking years into finding their way through their own individual musical journey’s, the end result spells success with the latest music coming from the duo, Gravity Castle.

From nearly 5,000 miles away, the Gravity Castle duo eventually found each other. After front man Oliver, made the journey across the pond from London to the US, he settled in Utah where he began to plant his musical roots.

Oliver and Gabriel teamed up as the new duo under the moniker, Gravity Castle in September of 2018 and shortly after, released their first 5 track EP ‘Waves’ generating nearly 100,000 steams collectively in the final months of 2018.

Indie Pop Duo Gravity Castle

 

 

In early 2019 they released their first music video, ‘I’m Sorry’ along with the start of their YouTube vlog series ‘Gravity Files’.

With the release of ‘I’ll just be me’ out today, the duo believes they have found their ticket to the ears of listeners around the world.

Just Like Gravity, their music pulls listeners in from all around the world and their new song ‘I’ll Just Be Me’ is no exception; incorporating crisp clear sounds with unique smooth catchy vocals which engages the listeners and wanting more.

I talked with the Oli and Gab about their music, how they met and what’s in store for Gravity Castle.

MT/Tracey: Who are the members which make up ‘Gravity Castle’ and what do you each do in the band?

 

MT: Where did the name ‘Gravity Castle’ come from?

GC: Gravity Castle has a hidden meaning to it that is important to the both of us. We believe that there is a not of negativity in the world and that music can be a vehicle of good. So the ‘gravity’ represents the ever nagging pull of negativity from the world, while ‘castle’ represents a safe place or fortress from it. We hope to create this atmosphere with our music and especially at our shows.

MT: Where are you from?

GC: Oliver is originally from London, England and Gabriel from Park City, Utah. They both reside in Orem, Utah now.

 

MT: How did you both meet?

GC: We originally met in Provo, Utah. Gabriel was performing at a small cafe as a duo at the time. After that night, we didn’t connect together musically for a number of years as we each were doing our own thing. When we finally came together, we wondered why we had waited so long and now always wonder hypothetically where we would be now if we started this journey together four years earlier.

MT: What inspired you to begin a career in music?

 

GC: I believe that it was a lot of small things over the years that eventually culminated at once in a sandwich shop one day. We had both studied music our whole lives and loved it, put in the time to develop song writing abilities as well as invested time and money into the necessary gear and knowledge to produce with it. And suddenly one day, even though we had both felt it before, vocally decided that “hey, we can do this. Let’s go for it!” And Gravity Castle in its ideation was born and fuelled with a dream.

MT: The move from the UK to USA for Oli is a massive undertaking for anyone, let alone an entire family. For anyone making such a decision would indicate how important their career path is to them. How easy was this decision to make?

GC: Olivers initial decision for his university studies was a big undertaking. Fortunately, his wife who is also from London was US bound for the same reasons. Regardless, immigrating to a new country was a huge decision and life change but has been for the good.

MT: What did you friends and family say about your move to USA?

GC: Initially they were all really excited for the big adventure so to speak. But the challenge has been staying connected with them over the years. Flights home currently break the bank.

MT: Does Gravity Castle have management or do you try and do things on your own like so many indie artists?

GC: Do our wives count? Gravity Castle works under the label Salt Valley Records LLC which is owned by us as well. So no management for us. We have all the responsibility on our plates at the moment and we believe we are on the right track. If a big label is reading this, feel free to call us and change our minds with a contract. 🙂

MT: Have you both studied music?

GC: Yes we both have from a young age. Oliver began playing the guitar at 14 and singing at 16 and gradually combined the two into a stage performance as the singer/songwriter that he is today. I, on the other hand spend the majority of my youth playing classical music on the violin in orchestras for 13 years. Eventually i would find a guitar and my world was altered ever since.

MT: Do you both work day jobs as well?

GC: We both do… for the moment. While we both love what we do, we ultimately want to live out the dream of becoming full time musicians. We realize that there is a lot behind those words but believe that it is on the horizon for us.

MT: Can you tell me your song writing process? Do you have a formula?

GC: It changes at times. Its unpredictable but there are sudden moments of inspiration that strike and if recorded can translate quickly to things of beauties. I have hundreds of vocal recordings of melodies or bass lines recorded that just seem to come to me at odd times. Having those little snippets recorded allows me to go back and explore them when time permits and really dig into their full value. So to break it down, it usually all begins with “the hook” and is built upon from there.

 

MT: Personally, what kind of music do you both like to listen to?

GC: We both appreciate a wide variety of music both mostly we hone in on singer/songwriters and alt/pop producers. They tend to give us the vibes we seek.

MT: What kind of artists or bands inspire you and get you excited to write and record?

GC: There are so many that fit this category but there are a few that stick out. Lyrically, Andrew McMahon is a personal favorite and inspiration of mine. He is one of the few artists that i truly believe are an open book and listening to their music lets you understand them at a human level. I know his music, therefore i know Andrew. As a writer it’s hard to top Ryan Tedder, front man of OneRepublic. He is the heart of what feels like a third of all top pop songs that come out. If you haven’t already, google the list of artists he has written for. He is so great because of two aspects. First, we writes hooks that are short and memorable. You just get stuck with them in your head. And second, he writes about topics that everyone relates to in a way that no one has said it before. FYI, that’s much easier said than done… teach us your ways Ryan!

MT: Will you be performing live anywhere?

GC: With the release of our newest single, “I’ll Just Be Me” now puts us in a place, content wise, that we can begin booking shows. Summer 2019 should be a riot!

MT: Do you plan your music releases for the year ahead?

GC: No, although maybe we should. We get to excited about our music that we want to release it much sooner. Most releases have a 90 day plan.

MT: What’s the big picture for ‘Gravity Castle’ and where would you like to see yourselves 5 years from now?

GC: Big picture- to connect with people and provide for our families. In 5 years we see Gravity Castle as a full time job that consumes our time between songwriting, recording, producing and traveling. We’re on our way, we can feel it.

MT: You have had music releases before, how many singles/EP’s have ‘Gravity Castle’ had to date?

GC: We released two Singles, ‘You’ and ‘I’m Sorry’, both of which are found on our debut EP ‘Beginnings’ which was released in November of 2018. Since then, ‘I’ll Just Be Me’ is our latest single release, which goes live (today!) on February 20th, 2019.

MT: Today marks the official release for your latest single ‘I’ll Just Be Me’. Can you tell us a bit about this song? What’s it all about?

GC: This song is a really upbeat and fun song with some deep meaning behind it. The song title, ‘I’ll Just Be Me’ really is just a blanket overview. Growing up i realized that i had quirks and was odd. Coming to terms with that and learning to love every aspect of myself was life changing and brought to light new happiness. The verse lyrics pick out different aspects about our lives and lives of those dear to us that are “different” from the norm, and the chorus ties it all together saying “I’ll Just Be Me. You Just Be You” expressing that we all just need to be who we are. And the upbeat/happy vibe of the songs portrays what i believe ae accurate feelings that come with accepting and being who we truly are.

MT: Will there be a video for ‘I’ll Just Be Me’?

GC: You bet there will be. When… TBT

MT: Is there anything else you would like to mention to us?

GC: We want to thank Tracey and Music Talks for sharing our music, taking the time to interview us and believe in us. It’s great to feel support from someone literally all the way across the world. We hope our paths continue to cross and hope to be with you in Australia soon. Cheers!

Awwwe, gee thanks for the interview Gabe and Oli, and all the very best with the new single ‘I’ll Just Be Me’

Seriously Insane Music From Michael Pignéguy


Where many artists are wary of straying too far from home, both literally and figuratively, Michael Pignéguy (pronounced Pin-ay-gee) has had the pluck to investigate all sorts of music beyond his beloved jazz roots and to base himself in somewhere as improbable and exotic as Doha, Qatar. It was in this region he based himself for over a decade (2006-2018), before recently returning to Australia.

 

After taking up the piano by the age of four and the drums at nine, he knew music would be the focus of his life from early on. By the age of 11, Michael Pignéguy attended a jazz camp; and lets say the bug had bitten as there was no turning back. 

 

Musician Michael Pigneguy

 

 

Having studied a classical-based degree in Auckland followed by the move to Western Australia’s Academy of Performing Arts, which led him to bigger things. Michael soon established his quartet which grew to a sextet, followed by large scale works consisting of full orchestra’s, experimenting with cross-genres of jazz, classical and Arabic music, he has worked with some of the worlds finest musicians while travelling the world from New Zealand to Perth to Abu Dhabi and beyond, there seems to be no stopping this incredible musician, producer, composer and arranger. 

Michael was attracted by the softness of Arabic music, a quality reflected in his ongoing cross-cultural project, “The Awakenings Ensemble”, the gestation of which also lies in a desire for broad compositional colour options, especially from the percussion. Earlier in the new millennium he co-formed another project, “Salamander”, with renowned bass player Pete Jeavons, that had electronic beats and percussion as well as live drums. The Awakenings Ensemble, formed in 2011, picked up on that while also including horns, vocals and exotic textures. The first album, Speak, was recorded in Doha, Dubai, Perth and Melbourne, and includes musicians from across the world. Michael has always been interested in marrying idioms, as proved by anything from Jazz Meets Mozart to the pop projects, and the Awakenings Ensemble is just the latest step on that long road. An important collaborator in this area has been Perth producer and photographer, Trilby Temperley, who was the first person to challenge Michael’s more traditional notions of composition in the mid ’90s. Their completely different approaches to creating music have acted as catalysts to their respective areas of endeavour ever since.

Michael’s diversity, as well as his training and experience in jazz, made him an obvious focus for collaboration when Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) opened its second performance venue, this time in Doha. Since its opening just over three years ago Michael has featured numerous times in both straight-ahead jazz formats such as his quartet, as well as in large ensemble configurations and with The Awakenings Ensemble which included Arab artists in the performances. Highlights of these live outings have included trumpeter Dominick Farinacci, pianists Takeshi Ohbayashi and Richard Johnson, and acoustic bassists Matthew Rybicki and Jonathan Michel.
He has also recorded at JALC with a number of visiting artists including Matthew Jodrell (trumpet), Philip Kuehn (acoustic bass), Chris Pattishall (piano) and Dominick Farinacci.

To see so much more about Michael Pignéguy please visit his website with links provided below. 

I was lucky to interview Michael today to learn more about his amazing life of music.

MT/Tracey: Michael, lovely to cyber meet you. Firstly, where are you from in Australia?

Michael: I was born in Crow’s Nest in Sydney. When I was still quite young my family moved to New Zealand and I later came back to Australia to study music. My family still live in NZ

MT: You’re a man of many talents, who are some of your influences of drummers?

Michael: There are so many incredible drummers across different genres and times from around the world, but I guess a very short list would be Buddy Rich, Peter Erskine, John Bonham to more recent performers like Taylor Hawkins, Anika Nilles + a cross section of Latin and Middle Eastern Percussionists

MT: Where did you study and what did you begin to study in music?

Michael: I did music through high-school as well as playing in various bands and orchestras and then ultimately went to the Conservatorium of Music in Western Australia at WAAPA (WA Academy of Performing Arts) to study jazz.

MT: What lead you to pursue Jazz?

Michael: My dad was probably the first person to introduce me to Jazz. He listened to artists like Dave Brubeck plus Ray Charles and Nina Simone. I had some exposure to playing jazz when I was around 11 or 12 years old and it was a very exciting experience that I remember very clearly. I’ve always listened to and appreciated a lot of different style and genres of music but the improvisatory nature of jazz is something which I love and affects my approach to all the music I perform and compose.

MT: You have spent a great deal of time overseas, living in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha, why the move to these particular locations?

Michael: My wife and I had the opportunity to live and work there in 2006. We had considered living in places like the UK or the US but we felt that the experience in ‘The Gulf’, which is a rapidly changing part of the world with a very different culture, might be quite exciting, which it certainly was. I guess one of the reasons we stayed for quite a while is that there is a very interesting mix of cultures and nationalities from across the globe and I met and performed with so many different artists which I then wrote and recorded with.

MT: Along with your incredible drumming, you are an incredible composer, arranger and producer and have been commissions to open highly profiled Festivals, the 250th anniversary celebration of the birth of Mozart, centre openings such as the Lincoln Centre, commissions for writing huge orchestrations for the likes of ‘When Worlds Collide’ among them and worked with some of the most renowned musicians in the world; when did you release your first album and how many to date? 

Michael: I actually released my first album in 1998, it was entitled MPS Live (Michael Pignéguy Sextet – Live) which was recorded at a classic club in Perth called Greenwich. We followed up with a double album called PURE in 2000 which featured iconic Australian saxophonist Dale Barlow, who also co-produced the album. In 2001 I formed a group called Salamander, with Peter Jeavons and Nathan ‘floods’ Winterflood which mixed jazz, funk, soul and electronica. Salamander released its first album in 2003 which was called ADAPT. Around that time I was being commissioned by other artists and groups to write new works. One of those led to the Jazz Meets Mozart project and another, for the Fremantle International Jazz Festival led to the composition of the C.Y.O’Connor Jazz Suite. The Jazz Suite was a four movement work and was written for 27 performers. It opened the Jazz Festival and was recorded live. Although recorded in 2006, this wasn’t made available until much later. In addition to these projects I was doing work for other artists. There was however a bit of a gap of my releasing my own albums between 2006 and 2011. During that time I was doing quite a lot arranging for artists such as Ben Folds, Tex’n’Tim, The Panics & others, particularly for their performances with orchestras.

MT: Can you tell us your most memorable experiences of who you have worked with?

Michael: Jamming with Wynton Marsalis was definitely a highlight. Recording and performing with US trumpeter Dominick Farinacci. Dominick was featured during my performances in New York last year at Jazz at Lincoln Centre which was very exciting for me, this was in part because I was sharing so much of my original music in that setting. Working with Egyptian cellist Hassan Moataz &  Performing with Ziad Rahbani from Lebanon in Abu Dhabi. Playing drums with Kate Ceberano and WASO was a lot of fun. Bassist, Peter Jeavons and I performed with French composer and pianist, Michel LeGrand. This was a number of years ago and was quite a challenging and stressful experience, particularly during rehearsal but the performances were amazing.

MT: Having worked with some of the greatest artists and musicians in the world, what would be your advice for new and upcoming musicians regarding collaborating with others be?

Michael: Continue to develop your craft as a musician, realising that there’s always more to learn. Always strive work with artists that inspire you.

MT: You also wrote a book called ‘21st Century Drumming’, what inspired you to write this book?

Michael: I have written two texts for drummers, 21st Century Drumming in 2004 (book and CD) plus Groove Masters in 2017 (Multimedia iBook). Both of these are designed for drummers and percussionists in their two years, rather than advanced students. I wrote both as I feel there are lots of great resources for advanced students but I wanted to expand what was available for students who are right at the beginning of their musical journey.

MT: You are very active in performing and notice there are incredible artists associated with your shows. What kind of input do the artists and musicians who perform with you have?

Michael: The artists I collaborate with have a huge amount of input. Principally from the performance side i.e., their artistic personality

MT: How do you put these shows together when everyone is spread across the globe?

Michael: I have developed a network of artists and contacts in many parts of the world which has been built up over a long period of time. I guess this network aspect is very important but also, my training in jazz, composition and arranging is an integral part too. I think it opens you up to skills that enable you to communicate with musicians from lots of different backgrounds, not only musically, but technically too. Lastly, seeking to understand cultural differences and varied ways of working together is important as well.

MT: Your latest piece of work has only just been released, can you tell us a bit more about this single, who is featured and where it was recorded?

Michael: We’ve just released ‘Just Out of Reach’ Live feat. Evelyn Feroza. Evelyn is a really incredible Malaysian vocalist and it was so fantastic to capture her performance of Just Out of Reach which was written by myself, Australian vocalist Aysha Amani and Perth producer Trilby Temperley. Secondly we have also just released a crazy recording called “Mega Jam” which is my arrangement of the Gershwin classic Summertime. It features mind-blowing Russian bassist, Anton Davidyants and the incredible Ukrainian keyboardist Oleg Polyanskiy. It was recorded in Kuala Lumpur, Kharkiv and Moscow. I’m really excited to share both of these tracks.

MT: You tour all around the world, so what’s in store for 2019 and where can people see you?

Michael: I’ve just been to Asia (December) and the Middle East (January) but I’m very excited about some Australian shows that are coming up in the middle of the year as I will be bringing artists from Asia and the US to work with Australian musicians. We will be showcasing new songs

MT: Is there anything else you would like to mention? 

Michael; Just a big thank you for talking with me!

Thank you so much for your time Michael, I really appreciate it.

 

Links to Michael Pignéguy

Website: https://www.michaelpigneguy.com/ 

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5CPFe1RtKKoOeaeq0yCNaM?si=fyHSHqeFTpGhP0WxccNLdw 

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/artist/the-awakenings-ensemble/573333377?app=music&ign-mpt=uo%3D4 

iTunes:https://itunes.apple.com/au/artist/michael-pigneguy/254021889 

BandCamp: https://michaelpigneguy.bandcamp.com/ 

 

Michael Pigneguy Band

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheAwakeningsEnsemble/ 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheSoundSculptor 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PigneguyMichael

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michaelpigneguy/ 

Michael Pignéguy (dr.) Anton Davidyants (bs.) Oleg Polyanskiy (keys.) Recorded in Kuala Lumpur, Moscow & Kharkov