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

September 27, 2012

Monsters Calling Home

If You Like: The Head and the Heart, Of Monsters and Men, Andrew Bird

A friend of mine recently informed me about Monsters Calling Home. At first, I must admit, I thought the video would show Of Monsters and Men covering The Head and the Heart's "Home." While that would be awesome, these guys were better. While the instruments had a similar jammy feel to The Head and the Heart, the vocals were grittier, more raw, and spectacular. The addition of delicately plucked violins just makes the whole arrangement come together. Look out for the new monsters in town.

September 26, 2012

Tunesday: When In Rome - "The Promise"

If You Like: a-ha, Icehouse, Erasure, Naked Eyes

I first heard this song, the perfect bromance tune, at camp. The stadium drums, epic synths, and operatic vocals make this a great driving in the car with your buddies sing-a-long. It gained modern popularity when it was featured in quirky comedy Napoleon Dynamite, but this is a song to jam to for ages. Enjoy this blast from the past. 

When In Rome-"The Promise"

September 20, 2012

Luke Sital-Singh - "Dark"

If You Like: Damien Rice, Strand Of Oaks, Angus Stone

Everyone has those nights where sad, slow, sleepy music is the best possible thing to listen to. Next time one of those evenings comes along, Luke Sital-Singh is the man for you. His rich, full voice can be filed right between Angus Stone and Bahamas and could sooth even the most aggressive of listeners. His track "Dark" is a piano ballad with deep chords that hit you right in the gut. It makes you stare out the window and think, and gives you a new found sense of perspective. Enjoy and savor this. Also get a free track over at his Facebook page!

Luke Sital Singh-"Dark"

September 18, 2012

Tunesday: Victor Wooten - "Victa"

If You Like: Jaco Pastorius, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

Victor Wooten, one of the most influential bassists to walk the Earth, has a bit of an ego. On his track "Victa," he makes the keen observation that his name also means 'winner.' While the lyrics are hilariously cocky, man, this song is funky. His bass skills are undeniable, even if you think he's a bit of a jerk. All in all, this song is definitely a fun listen. Choice quote: "I'm so finger funkin' good". Yeah. He said that in a song. 

Victor Wooten-"Victa"

September 14, 2012

Broken Twin

If You Like: Feist, Anthony and the Johnsons

Broken Twin, a female duo from Denmark, has been making waves in the blog-ocean with their classic Scandinavian cold, sparse piano tunes. Their first track, "Out Of Air," features a lonely piano line wandering about, soon joined by tender vocals. On the track "Beaches," it is clear that these women know a lot about restraint. At one point in the song, there is a pause, a long one that tests the listener's patience while making the resolve all the more satisfying. You can also catch them on tour with Jens Lekman. You can stream their whole Hold On To Nothing EP here via Under The Radar.

Out Of Air by Broken Twin
Beaches by Broken Twin

September 13, 2012


If You Like: Daughter, Town Hall, Julia Easterlin, Braids

Justine Bowe, a Tufts University graduate (Go Jumbos!) has adopted the name photocomfort, and the choice couldn't have been more fitting. Her music, a blend of folk-y singer-songwriter fare with pounding drums and fantastic writing is both visual and comforting. Her debut self-titled EP is available for free on her bandcamp and below. The five tracks all maintain a level of poppy energy while never letting your attention wander from her robust voice. She packs quite a punch and her songs will wiggle their way into your head for days. Enjoy!