Showing posts with label interviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label interviews. Show all posts

November 29, 2012

Interview with Infantree

Infantree, an indie rock group from Southern California, just released their second studio album, Hero's Dose, to great reception and praise. Not only are these four guys the nicest crew around, their sound together is just so entrancing, with poetic lyrics, beautiful harmonies, and excellent musicianship by all members. The band has since then toured with Neil Young & Crazy Horse, and will continue promote their new album at shows in Los Angeles the rest of this year.

(From left) Donald, Matt, Jordan, and Alex of Infantree at Outside Lands
We were lucky enough to kick back with the band after their awesome set at Outside Lands, where we chatted about their new album, embarassing moments, how they got their name, and more! Read below to see what these four killer musicians had to say, and while you're at it, listen to the soothing sounds and lovely harmonies in one of my favorite Infantree tunes, "Forgive Me First." Also, click "read more"  to see Infantree on Conan performing "Fibber"!

Infantree - "Forgive Me First"
Your second album was just put out a couple months ago, how do you feel the reception has been so far?

Alex: Pretty awesome, definitely better than the first one!

Donald: That’s all you can hope for.

Alex: We’ve been getting a kick out of it, for sure.

Matt: Yeah, we’ve been getting a lot more college radio play.

Do you approach festival playing any differently than small, intimate settings?

Alex: Oh heck yeah, definitely. We secretly hate the sound at festivals [laughs]. It’s never as full as a small room, because the sound just goes, there’s no walls. A lot of times, especially because festivals are fewer and far between, we’re not used to that sound once we get there, so we kind of have to acclimate as we go. We don’t have a sound guy, so we just kind of do it. But it’s been fun. The main thing is that if people are there or not. And luckily, at festivals, people show up, or at least that’s been happening now.

Donald: Yeah, and it’s tougher when you have the first slot. So the fact that as many people showed up today was great.

Jordan: I feel like I try to keep the beat simpler at festivals, cause the little things kind of get lost. It’s just a different sound.

September 30, 2012

Interview with Michael Kiwanuka

The wonderfully soulful and talented young British artist Michael Kiwanuka released his first solo album, Home Again, this past March. With the incredible emotion and musicality this man possesses, it's no wonder that his album was recently nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize.

Michael took some time with me after his set at the Outside Lands Music Festival to chat! Read below to see what this awesome singer-songwriter had to say about his life on tour, his excitement about his new album, and more, and listen to the soothing sounds of his celebrated single, "Home Again."

Michael Kiwanuka - "Home Again"

Your album dropped here in the States only a few months ago, how do you feel the reception has been so far from Americans?

Michael: Good! I feel the reception has been really warm. People have been so supportive and encouraging to me, they always say really nice things. We bump into people that were in the audience when I’m walking around. And at the shows, people have always been really nice and very warm. It feels really good, I’m really enjoying it!

You’ve done quite a few festivals recently! Do you approach festival playing differently than smaller venues?

Michael: Yeah, we like to play a little more upbeat, it’s still intimate though. I just play as upbeat as I can get. It’s more slower songs and solos when we’re playing in a club. But it’s nice to have that change, it doesn’t get boring that way.

Is touring everything you thought it would be?

Michael: No, I mean I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s...definitely a big change. But I love it. Sometimes people are not excited about touring, and I can see why, everybody goes through quite a bit of stress. But it’s exciting being in different places all the time and playing shows in places I never thought I would go to, like San Francisco, and having fun on the bus. I like going out in different cities, meeting people. It’s really cool.

You and your band seem really tight, have you all played music together for a long time?

Michael: Yeah, I’ve known Miles, the guitar player, since I was about 14. So we grew up around the same area. It’s so good to hang out, they’re the nicest guys. And some of the best musicians ever, I’m very lucky. We have fun, it’s all our first time doing most of it, so it’s good to share it with someone else. It’s so cool having friends and people to share it with.

What’s been your most embarrassing onstage moment?

Michael: Once we were playing in Florence, at a festival, and the PA went down, so no one could hear anything except the drums. But I thought they could all hear us, and I was like, “Wow, this is great!” and I was really into it! [laughs] But then I looked to the side of the stage, and my tour manager was like, miming, “They can’t hear you!” and I was just going for it, it was pretty funny.

Who are you most excited to see at Outside Lands this year?

Michael: I’d say Stevie Wonder, Jack White, and some other really great bands that are here, I’m excited.

Michael Kiwanuka performing at Outside Lands

August 29, 2012

Interview with Jukebox the Ghost

I think this is just one of those bands that has stuck-in-your-head-all-day kind of songs. The Brooklyn-based trio Jukebox the Ghost released their third studio album, Safe Travels, this June, and have been setting off on an extensive nationwide tour, including the Outside Lands Music Festival. Their lively set on Saturday was dancey and fun, and the band's stage presence certainly makes them a fun band to see live.

Guitarist Tommy Siegel chatted with me on Saturday of the fest! Read below to see what he had to say about his most embarrassing moment onstage, his wish-list for bands to see at the fest, and more, and listen to the poppy track "Oh, Emily" from their most recent album.

Jukebox the Ghost - "Oh, Emily"
On reception of their new album

It’s been going great! It’s been a really pleasant surprise to see that when we play shows, it doesn’t feel like we’re playing new songs; the crowd just seems like totally with it. It’s just been really exciting, it’s going great.

On festival playing

Tommy: We played yesterday and part of playing a festival is knowing that you’re not playing to your hardcore fans. You’re playing to get some new fans. So for us, we wanted to promote the new record. There were probably some new fans that came and were pissed that we didn’t play more songs of our first two records. But it’s the chance for us to actually branch out and show people what we’re doing right now.

On his most embarrassing moment

Tommy: [laughs] That’s a great question. Okay, this is a bad one. So, on our first record, we have a lot of songs about the apocalypse. I was giving a little introduction at one of our shows to talk about what the song was about, and instead of apocalypse...I said “Holocaust.” It got really bad. As a Jew myself I was able to clean it up a bit, but it was not good.

On bands at Outside Lands

Tommy: You know, I was kind of most excited to see Neil Young last night, because I’ve never seen him, that was awesome. He lived up to all my expectations. And I’m excited to see Tame Impala today. I was excited to see Yellow Ostrich but I think I missed them. Dr. Dog tonight will be great, Stevie Wonder tomorrow will be great.

August 26, 2012

Interview with Fitz & The Tantrums

Fitz & The Tantrums, a six-piece band based in Los Angeles, California, have come a long way since the release of their debut album Pickin' Up the Pieces about two years ago. This soul-influenced funk/indie band has garnered national media attention with their throwback tunes and have been traveling around the country playing shows and major music festivals, such as Outside Lands! The group played an energetic, hour-long set that had everyone at the main stage on their feet and dancing. No matter the venue, these guys really understand how to get the crowd moving, and every show they perform is truly a blast.

Two members of the band, drummer John Wicks (left), and sax/flute player James King (right), were kind enough to take some time and chat with me after their set! Read below to see what these two skilled musicians had to say, and listen to the band's soulful cover of "Sweet Dreams."

Fitz & The Tantrums - "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)"


John: A lot of us, James in particular, have done touring prior to being in Fitz & The Tantrums. So I think really, to be honest with you, the only guy that was kind of new to it was Fitz himself, he had never been in a band that had toured. To his credit, he kind of hit the ground running and was really a road dog from the start, even when we were just in a van or in a car, and it was a little bit rough but he handled it really well. We’re kind of road dogs as it is. The thing that’s been really surprising has been the quick rate of growth that we’ve had, playing for these size crowds, just insane.

James: We definitely all have toured in different situations. For myself, I’ve been in that level of kind of the van to tour bus, but like John said, to come and play for 20-30,000 people at big festivals on main stages, we’ve done a lot of those in the last year and it’s always humbling. Coming here today is just no different. That never gets old.


James: You perceive it a little differently [than playing smaller venues], but I think that the intent is always the same. It is to get everyone, from the front to the back of the crowd, into it. You have the same challenges with a small club to a big festival. Sometimes, you just have to put yourself in the right mindset. And it’s one of those things that if you really, really give all of yourself to the show, then people will respond.

John: From a drumming standpoint, it’s a different thing. Like James said, you still want to put the same energy, whether it’s 10 people or 10,000. But, when you’re playing in an outdoor venue like this, you actually have to taper down the amount of subtle things you do because they don’t really translate, ‘cause people can’t really hear that stuff. It’s kind of more of a meat-and-potatoes style of playing that translates to the back of the crowd. The other thing is, you get so freakin' amped up when you see that many people that you have to be careful that you don’t wear yourself out after the first song. Because if you go out there with guns blaring, sometimes, by the end of the first song, I’m just like, “Oh my god, I still have an hour to go.”


John: [laughs] It might’ve been today! Bless his heart, we had a guy that we totally fed to the lions today. Unfortunately, our keyboard player had some family issues that he had to attend to so we had a last minute sub. And this guy came in and he did such a great job, but at one point, he started the wrong song, and it was just like, “Woah,” and I was looking at him and it’s that moment where you’re trying to figure out, are we going to go with him and start this new song?

James: That’s when those years of touring come in handy.

John: That’s right!

James: ‘Cause we look at each other and we know what we’re going to do. When something like that happens you just have to run with it, and the less experienced musician might have responded, “Ah, I’m just going to start it myself and maybe everyone will follow me,” but you really have to be a psychic and all come in together.

John: Right. But as far as the most embarrassing thing that’s happened, Fitz saying the wrong city we were in. That’s happened once or twice.

James: Yeah, that “Hello Cleveland” thing is never good.

John: [laughs] Yeah, we were in Spokane or Seattle and he said something like that. So we got booed there for a minute and then you try to win ‘em back over, cause you don’t want it to seem impersonal. But I think that was a month into our tour, and you’re just delirious. It’d be like going to San Francisco and saying, “Hello L.A.”, it’s like the worst possible thing you can do.


James: I’d say [the new album] is a lot different. We touched a nerve with people when we first came out because we harken back to this classic sound. We came in around the time when a lot of other people were looking to that era of music, which is good, the timing was perfect. Of course, that’s a sound we’re all into. For the next record, those production techniques haven’t gone away, we’re still trying to get classic sounds, but it’s more kind of looking back to stuff that we came up listening to. So that would be classic 80s. It’s a different kind of retro thing, I guess. We have a lot of the same elements as the first record, but there’s this whole other palette of sounds that we have to work with in our heads, and we’re excited that we get to use those on the next record.

John: The common thread between the last record and this next record is the songwriting. Fitz, before we even started writing for this record, set the bar and said, “Look, no matter what, every song has to be able to stand up on its own and not lean on a single, and it’s got to be all killer, no filler.” And when you’ll be able to listen to this record soon, you’ll see, that it’s the same as the last one, it’s all great songs. And I don’t think there’s any ones that are there for filler.

James: That’s really a litmus test for all of us, we’re musicians that have worked in a lot of different genres. And, like right now [Beck is performing in the background], Beck is playing “Lost Cause” and it’s the test for a musician like that. Can you play one of his songs on the guitar by itself and will it sound good? Will it sound like a song? And of course, for him, the answer is yes. For us, I mean the challenge in that is not having any guitar players, but would these songs make sense, say, if a pianist was sitting at a keyboard and singing by himself? I think so. And you know if the song is there, if the picture’s there, then all we have to do is show up and play the best we can. That’s really a challenge and a blessing at the same time.


James: John and I are both style hoppers, we listen to anything and everything. We’ve studied all different types of music. And they do seep in. Of course, you can’t go crazy and go and play thrash metal to our music. But yeah, you definitely can take pieces of yourself, that’s why we work as a band. It’s not just like, Keyboard Player A, Drummer B, we actually work together as musicians with like-minded taste.

John: James and I both came up playing jazz music mostly. It’s kind of a funny thing that happens with jazz musicians, there’s two camps; you hit a crossroads and it’s the point where you go, either that you enjoy the athleticism that’s involved with that style of music and the sheer technical facility that you’ve acquired from that music, that’s very very difficult. But some guys, I can’t speak for James but I know him well enough that he sort of shares this with me, that sort of lost its sparkle for me. I got tired of music feeling like an athletic event. I started to take more of an attraction, I don’t want to say simple music, but music that was less notes and more heartfelt. Sort of go that route. All of my favorite drummers are guys that didn’t play that many notes, and technically were not that great, but they were so heartfelt so we went that camp. I have the utmost respect for the other camp, which is to try and take it to the next level technically and play just amazing stuff, and I’m always blown away. A lot of those guys end up being true innovators. But, I couldn’t do that anymore.

James: I think where that line exists for me is, at a certain point, when you’re studying jazz and going further into it, there comes a point where you’re playing to an audience of musicians, or are you playing to an audience of your peers and people who you can actually change their perspective a little bit? If you’re playing to an audience where, like John was saying, you’re trying to take it to the next technical level, athletic level and intellectual level, that’s awesome. I have the utmost respect for that, like he said. But you’re playing to a room of saxophone players, drummers, bass players. There’s a time and place for that. But you couldn’t do that at a place like Outside Lands, you have to connect. That’s been the goal with this band from the beginning and with the next record, I think it’s really going to happen.

Noelle Scaggs of Fitz & The Tantrums performing at Outside Lands

Photos by Rachel and Olivia Fidler 
Click here to see all of Write To The Beat's photos from Outside Lands!

June 25, 2012

Greylag Interview

As we have shown you in previous posts, our Sasquatch experience was made far greater by the opportunity to talk to some great artists while we were there. The final episode of our Sasquatch chats is an interview we did with Greylag, an up and coming group from the Northwest. Their debut EP, The Only Way To Kill You, was awesome, and their live show was too! We chatted with them about their name, geese, how they started playing together, and their favorite inspirations. Check it out!

See our interview with Said The Whale here!

See our interview with Hey Marseilles here!

June 21, 2012

Hey Marseilles Interview

While we were at Sasquatch this past month, we had the honor of chatting with a few of our favorite bands playing the fest! After their main stage set, we caught up with the gents from Hey Marseilles. The awesome folkestral group was a great way to kick off the day and was super friendly! We talked about their work on a new album, their European influences, and their Seattle pride. Enjoy!

See our interview with Said The Whale here

June 19, 2012

Said The Whale Interview

As I have written multiple times, I had a fantastic time at this year's Sasquatch Music Festival. I saw groups that blew me away, surprised me, and made me a new fan. I also had the pleasure of catching up with a few of my favorite groups and asking them some questions. The first band I talked to was Said The Whale, a super-friendly indie-rock group from Vancouver that rocked the Yeti stage to a crowd of raucous fans. We talked about their latest album, Little Mountain, nature, technology, their hometown, and their fellow Canadians. Check it out!

May 02, 2012

Macklemore Talks New Album, XXL, and Being Independent

Last week we posted about a great interview of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis done by Hard Knock Tv. Now, the second half of the video has surfaced. In this segment, the MC and producer duo discuss their choice to stay independent, their upcoming album, as well as the XXL Freshman cover and Kendrick Lamar. Enjoy!

April 25, 2012

Macklemore Talks Otherside, Lil' Wayne, and Seattle Hip-Hop

Hard Knock TV recently interviewed Macklemore & Ryan Lewis while at Paid Dues Festival in California. Macklemore discusses substance abuse, Lil' Wayne, the importance of balance in hip-hop, the process of writing "Otherside," and the benefits of the "Gateways" program. Check out this great interview. Enjoy!

May 15, 2011

Reviewed - Milo Greene

The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA
Photo by Rachel Fidler

There is a certain feeling you get when you see a band perform, and you just know they are going to be big. I had that very distinct feeling last night for the half an hour I had the pleasure to see Milo Greene perform. The L.A. based quintet owned the crowd last night with their flawless performance. Belting perfect four-part harmonies, the group sounded even better than the recording. I wasn't aware that was possible! They performed with the refreshing excitement of a young band, still new to the live music scene and looked like they were having as much fun as the audience. One aspect of the performance that caught my attention was the lack of a specific frontman. Instead, all four of the singers had enough talent and charisma to lead the band, making the collection of them all the more powerful. The four of them constantly rotated instruments, all of them singing, and playing guitar and bass extremely fluently. They put on one of the most genuine, exciting, refreshing and purely beautiful performances I have had the pleasure of seeing. If you have the chance to see them live, jump at the opportunity. You won't regret it.

Milo Greene-"1957"

Milo Greene-"Don't You Give Up On Me"

After the show, we were able to chat with singer/guitarist/bassist Robbie Arnett and ask him a few questions about the group and where they are headed:

Write To The Beat: How did Milo Greene form?

Robbie: Andrew and I were in college together and we were playing with different bands so we collectively came up with someone to help us book shows and send out emails on behalf of our individual bands to sound a little bit more professional and that name was Milo Greene. Then I came up to LA and played with another band and Andrew went up to Sacramento and played and we stayed in touch and kept demos going and then when we started to really get going we went up there, recorded a bunch of music with Marlana, and Andrew, and they moved down here, got Graham and Curtis and that's where it all started.

WttB: Do you all share songwriting duties?

Robbie: Yeah definitely, the four of us singing up front are all songwriters, so we all just bring in ideas and flesh them out and work on the at home, sit by the computer and nerd out.

WttB: Who are your musical inspirations?

Robbie: I'm all over the place. It's hard to pin down. I like a lot of soul, old Nina Simone, and jazz singers, stuff like that. I like a lot of female vocalists. But I listen to some cheesy pop music and some cool rap and stuff like that.

WttB: What's next for you guys?

Robbie: We are going to be doing a couple shows in LA and releasing a 7" and then getting on the road.

May 01, 2011

Reviewed - Atmosphere

House Of Blues, Boston, MA

We at Write To The Beat are huge fans of Atmosphere, the premier independent rap group comprised of Slug (MC) and Ant (Producer). Last week we were not only able to catch their show at the House of Blues, but also privileged to sit down with Slug beforehand and ask him a few questions regarding the current tour, his views on music, his creative process, and the drive behind the group's newest album (The Family Sign, available on iTunes and Amazon). 

As for the show, it simply could not have been better. The night started with a range of openers, but the only one of real note was Grieves. The baby-faced white boy captivated the crowd and put on an impressively lively performance. Backed by producer Budo who accompanied him on trumpet, keyboards, and guitar at various times during the set, Grieves played new (material off his upcoming album Together/Apart), and old (tracks off his 2009 album Irreversible). To all in attendance, Grieves seemed to play the part of the prince, in line to inherit Slug's throne.

So when the King himself began his long-anticipated set, the crowd absolutely erupted. Slug's ability to master the audience while carefully balancing material both fun-loving and deathly serious was incredible. Backed by Ant on the turntables and both a keyboardist and guitarist, Slug ran through a broad selection of material from all the group's albums. Ranging from Lucy Ford: The Atmosphere EP's ("Guns and Cigarettes") through God Loves Ugly ("GodLovesUgly", "Modern Man's Hustle" and "Shrapnel"), Seven's Travels ("Trying To Find A Balance"), and all the way up to their newest material, the group brought their A-game. Commanding the sold out crowd with experience and quite visible passion, Slug demonstrated all the reasons he's undoubtedly one of the best rappers in the game and an absolute must-see live performer.

Slug Interview

Atmosphere-"Modern Man's Hustle"

Atmosphere-"Guns and Cigarettes"


April 20, 2011

Reviewed - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA

Last week we had the pleasure of seeing Macklemore and Ryan Lewis perform at the Brighton Music Hall in Allston, MA and they were INCREDIBLE. They put on one of the most lively, passionate, entertaining shows I have seen in my entire concert-going life. Macklemore raps with such passion and controls the audience with amazing stage presence. I was also able to sit down with them before the show and ask them a few questions. If you have the chance to see them live I would jump at the opportunity! You won't regret it!

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Interview

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis-"Irish Celebration"

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis-"The Town (Sabzi Remix)"