Aurora Aksnes explains her album in one sentence, “My album, it’s mainly about how bad experiences can be good memories.” And despite the dark pop delving into the melancholic spectra of songwriting, there is still a feeling of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, in the debut album of the 19-year-old Norwegian.
It starts off with the tranquil first single of the album, ‘Runaway’ where she sings “And I was running far away / would I run off the world someday? / Nobody knows.” But it steps up the strength in ‘Conqueror’ with big drums and an even bigger lyrical surroundings. And you would be deaf not to notice a pinch of Florence + The Machine reminiscing in between the beats.
AURORA plays around with the elements of the earth and the corresponding elements of light – or the lack thereof. In particular, with the song ‘Running With The Wolves’ she dances gracefully on the right side of the lines. It never engages too much with the heavy melancholy that can drain the life of a song, it keeps a subtle grip on lightness and anticipation which gently knocks on the door for the duration of the album.
‘Through The Eyes Of A Child’ shows a very honest young woman, but with great perception of the world around her, and inside of her. “World is covered by our trails / scars we cover up with paint / watch them preach in sour lies / I would rather see this world through the eyes of a child.” If this were the 90s, AURORA would be the kind of artist you would pull out the booklet of the CD for, and read every lyric on the album. There’s substance to her, and the term an old soul trapped in a young body seem very fitting.
She manages to bring the listener aboard her ship, and it’s a boat you don’t want to get off of. We get to see the world through a pair of spectacles, a reality painted with the words of a fairytale; anecdotes that tell the unsweetened and sometimes unkind truths while remaining hopeful. On both ‘Murder Song 5, 4, 3, 2, 1” and ‘Warrior’ there’s a sincereness in which Aurora spills her realities. She has been playing the piano since childhood, and it shows, because it is by far the piano-driven songs that are her forte.
She might be singing she’s running away, but AURORA is running towards something quite special with her debut album. If this is what she delivers at just 19, even our universe will not limit her.
Mike Nelson, better known to the masses as BANNERS, is a singer-songwriter with a unique sound who is making his mark in the world of indie music. MusicDash caught up with BANNERS as he finished off his first Canadian tour to chat about music and his time in Canada.
MusicDash: What did it feel like when you got signed to Island Records?
BANNERS: It’s an absolute on and a privilege to be signed to Island. It’s funny with major labels. I think in signing to a record label you are always aware of it’s legacy, of the amazing artists and music that are or have been involved with that label. It becomes your responsibility to extend that legacy and that is what I try to always keep in mind.
I think there’s a generally perceived wisdom that the record industry is run by suits and businessmen who are interested exclusively in making money, and the greatest pleasure for me was discovering that that is simply not true, that, actually, these labels are full of people that are intensely passionate about music, and about creating it. It’s been amazing to be so supported and Im working hard to repay that faith.
MusicDash: What made you decide to contact Sephen Kozmeniuk to work on your sound?
BANNERS: Like so much in music, like in life, an opportunity arrises and you have to grasp that opportunity and see where it goes. I was in Canada to do some songwriting with a couple of writers and he was interested in meeting up. I liked him so we tried a couple of sessions and it went from there. There was the opportunity to work with a few other producers but I realised pretty quickly that he was my guy! We have so many similar musical influences and we both want to make music that means something to people!
MusicDash: What have been some of your favourite memories from your time living in Toronto? (It’s pretty far from Liverpool to say the least!)
BANNERS: I really like Toronto. I’ve met so many great people there. My band are all from Toronto too. Truthfully though my life in Toronto has revolved around music so it’s just a pleasure to be in a place where I can just immerse myself into that creative headspace. St Lawrence Market is amazing too.
MusicDash: What has been your favourite show from the Canadian tour?
BANNERS: It’d be unfair to pick one! They’ve all had their moments. Playing these songs live is such a new thing for me that every live experience, good or bad, is important because it gives you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and figure out how to make the next show better.
MusicDash: “Shine a Light” has really taken the world by storm. Why do you think people like the song so much? How does it feel to have people respond to your sound?
BANNERS: I’ve always believed that if you want a song to mean something to people you have to make sure it means something to you first. And Shine a light means a lot to me, so maybe that’s what helps it resonate. It’s hard to say why people like it, but after spending so much time writing and recording it its amazing to hear that people do like it. That’s one of the pleasures of playing live really. Having the opportunity to meet people and let them tell you their experiences with the songs you’ve created. After the gig last night a guy told me it was the first song he sent to his new girlfriend on a mixtape so it means a lot to him. It’s things like that that make it worthwhile.
MusicDash: What was the recording and songwriting process like for your EP?
BANNERS: The stressful part is writing really, it’s ultimately very rewarding but there are certainly days where you worry you’re never going to be able to write ever again. In terms of the EP i already had “Ghosts” written from a long time ago, but all the other songs Stephen and I, along with a guy called Todd Clark, devoted a chunk of time to writing and the EP is the result. Once the songs were written we built the tracks up into a demo form so we could sit with them for a while. It’s important to give yourself time away from a song because it can be hard to analyze it properly otherwise. And then once we were happy with them we built the tracks up with session musicians.
MusicDash: As you’ve spent so much time in Canada this year, are you exited to step up to play large festival crowds like at WayHome and Osheaga?
BANNERS: I can’t wait. Both festivals sound brilliant and the line-ups are amazing. I love LCD Soundsystem, the Killers, Arcade Fire and Radiohead so I think it’s gonna be a pretty fun summer!
MusicDash: How did it feel to perform on Jimmy Kimmel?
BANNERS: It was great, obviously. Again, it was an absolute honour to be asked to play and from that point on I was just determined to give a good performance. Which is easy because they’re all so professional there that they give you the tools to do as well as you possibly can. I had great faith in myself and my band to do a good job so we all really enjoyed it!
MusicDash: Who are some of your favourite up and coming artists right now?
BANNERS: There’s a few bands back in Liverpool that I really love. Married to the Sea, Silent Sleep and a really cool band called Ex Easter Island head. I’m really proud of my home town and the music that comes out of there and I can’t wait to play there in may.
MusicDash: You recorded the song “Half Light” for the TV show The Royals. What made you decide to do that?
BANNERS: Well, The Royals had been really kind to me, they’d played two of my songs, “Start a Riot” and “Firefly”, on there already and needed some music for their end of season episode. They had a demo that Dan from Bastille has made and asked me to record. Which I was really happy to do because I think it’s a great song!
MusicDash: What are some fun facts about yourself?
BANNERS: When I’m not thinking about music I’m thinking about football, and specifically Liverpool Football Club. I was home for christmas when they played my song over the tannoy in the stadium which was probably my musical high point so far! I can’t imagine what would have to happen to top it!
MusicDash: What is your favourite part about performing?
BANNERS: Like I say these songs mean a lot to me, so to get to play them to people is just brilliant. The guys in my band are brilliant and are my best mates so to get to do that with your best friends is an indescribable feeling. As shine a light has been on the radio a lot seeing people sing it back to me is so much fun!
MusicDash: As you’re heading out on your first American tour at the end of the month, what can your fans expect from those shows?
BANNERS: Well I’ll be in America with all that American food so they can probably expect a slightly larger version of me as the tour goes on. But really they can expect an English boy with songs that mean loads to him playing with people that mean loads to him desperately trying to be anywhere near as cool as Jeff Buckley. The other bands I’m playing with “The Moth and the Flame” and “Pop Etc” are great so everyone should check them out!
”It was a big, big world but we thought we were bigger” Lukas Graham sings on the hit single ’7 years’ which climbed lists across Europe and landed him a number one spot on the UK chart. But he also reached the top somewhere further away imaginable, Australia. The last time Denmark made a mark down under was with Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’ and we have fortunately come a long way since. The Ghetto pop of Lukas Graham is on a roll.
The four piece band joins a dozen of Danish artists like Oh land, MØ and Alex Vargas, making waves and getting noticed by the world outside of Scandinavia. Like with everything else, nothing comes without hard work and effort. But for the Danes, taking a step away from the terminology of ‘Jantelov’ (‘Law of Jante’) which put into few words mean, you’re not to think you are anything special. It has been a social norm imprinted in the society of Scandinavia for generations, and in some ways work as an opposite to the American Dream; wanting to achieve something and speaking up about it is frowned upon. Having people liking your product despite going against the grain of a society is an accomplishment in itself.
In the song ‘Happy Home’ Lukas sings, “Mama called about the paper turns out they wrote about me / now my broken heart’s the only thing that’s broke about me / so many people should have seen what we got going on / I only wanna put my heart and life in songs.” The guy is a solid storyteller, spilling the beans as if in a conversation with his audience, and it’s what sets him apart.
There’s a hazardous honesty to it, and that can lead to two outcomes: A sense of too much cliché which ultimately makes you careless to the message, or, here’s a kid saying exactly what’s on his mind, with no pompousness to it, and it draws people in. I think they are heading towards latter. Media has been having a hard time finding a sound or band and compare them to, which perhaps is the greatest applause you can give them.
Before the break into the outlandish charts, the soulful pop band released their debut album in 2012, and with tireless touring later, so many record labels were out to get their hands on them, they could cherry-pick their own record deal. They ended up signing with American Warner Bros Records at the end of 2013. In between there was the heavy tour across Europe, and selling out stadium gigs in heir home country alone is a bit unheard of. The quartet is steadily climbing charts around the world, and with the new album released on March 25, it is followed up by a tour across the US.
A few years back the discussions were whether or not Lukas Graham would translate to a broader audience. Now the talk is all about how many countries he can beat Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Adele in like he did in Australia and the UK.
Fitting with the long list of English groups before them that The 1975 seem to be forging their way into, the Manchester quartet have created a second album that sounds and looks like a more mature version of their first.
This does not mean that the (the arrogant and annoyling titled) ‘I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’ is a direct, boring and lacklustre copy of their debut (and better titled) ‘The 1975’. Rather, it means that what went right on their first try, such as the witty lyrics and experimental mix of electronic beats and rock synth guitar pop, is capitalised on and expanded, and what went wrong is done away with. It means that they’ve taken whatever they learnt after being thrown into fame from their debut after years in a career without any, after touring, dealing with fangirls, pop stars that “want to shag” lead singer Matty Healy, and apparent struggles with cocaine, and turned it into a sprawling, ambitious, and heavenly workable second album that both responds to the questions laid out on their first, and leaves room for The 1975 to grow into the iconoclasts that they seem to be itching to be.
Lyrically, ‘Ugh!’ is the new 1975’s response to the song that first catapulted them into success, ‘Chocolate’, making the first catchy anthem about driving around with soft drugs sound comparably tame to the singer’s electro pop tryst with cocaine. ‘A Change of Heart’ is another answer to their debut – Healy sings ‘never found love in the city’ after telling us on their debut that ‘If you wanna find love then you know where the city is’, perhaps literally making note of this response by telling us that he’s ‘just had a change of heart’. ‘She’s American’ and ‘Paris’ sounds like more tales of the women sung about in ‘She Way Out’ and ‘Settle Down’ from their debut, and ‘The Sound’ is the second album’s festival anthem answer to ‘Girls’ on the first. The link is literally evident by starting the album with a rework of the same track that did the first, ‘The 1975’, showing us from the get go that this album is similar to the first, but the jump into the powerful opener on ‘Love Me’ shows that it’s gone above and beyond what the debut made us expect.
Swapping black and white aesthetics and guitar driven pop for a rose tinted theme and Bowie-inspired riffs hasn’t answered all of Healy’s troubled questions, however. Just as he struggles with belief in God in ‘Antichrist’ on the ‘The 1975’, he continues to plead ‘I’m asking you Jesus, show yourself’ on ‘If I believe you’, contrasting these more serious tones with ‘you shouldn’t have made me atheist’, continuing the link of witty lyricism that is consistent throughout the album, making the scrawling mix of pop, jazz and 80s rock come to life in a way that is new to The 1975’s talents. Some of the record’s best tracks, ‘The Ballad of Me and My Brain’ and ‘Somebody Else’ show us deeper into Healy’s struggling psyche, while always keeping that hint of lightness to the lyrics, ‘I think I’ve gone mad, isn’t that so sad?’. Similarly, ‘Ugh!’’s upbeat tempo and sporadic mix of sound may make it seem like one of the more light-hearted songs on the album, but a closer look reveals that ‘I’m not giving it up again’ may not be as simple as he’s trying to convince us it is.
So much of the album seems unworkable – its 17 track length, variation of genre and style, and almost-too-much instrumentals, but what The 1975 have learnt from their first release has obviously paid off. It’s hard to think of what track they could have cut or where they could have simplified musically – the album’s beauty is contained within its euphoric music, coupled with layered vocals found on ‘Somebody Else’, ‘If I believe you’, and physically manifested on the album’s simplistic artwork. What is most appealing, however, is The 1975’s ability to capture the cultural climate in a way that is lyrically subtle, but visually obvious. In ‘A Change of Heart’ Healy amusingly sings ‘you took a picture of your salad and put it on the internet’, harking back to their video for single ‘Love Me’ where he mocks card board cut out celebrities. ‘Love Me’ is perhaps the album’s marking song – the most literal nod towards the Bowie influence, the characteristic mix of genres, the dazzling bass line (something they’ve thankfully carried over from songs such as ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Girls’ on their debut), and lyrics directly criticising the generation that they’re making music for. The more adept listener will question their own relationship with culture and the celebrities they worship in this internet age.
Healy struggles to find a sense of identity in a world where religion is absent, his friends are overtaken by fame, and his lovers are ‘looking through your phone and then leaving with somebody else’. It’s wholly empty, beautifully depressing and disgustingly perfect – fitting for a band that seem grappled between dichotomies of criticising the modern age and using it for their success. Each listen leaves me so fucking confused, but in the way that only great bands can.
After releasing two well-supported singles in 2015, Manchester indie dream band AFFAIRS is back and ready for the new year. The band brings something special to the table with lead singer Jim Robinson’s unique vocals and the groovy instrumentals of their newest release Play. Like Brothers before it, Play was touched by all of the right people, including producer Ed Buller.
The track draws you in from the first beat of the drums, and keeps you going throughout with its catchy and nostalgic lyrics. The song’s chorus says “if you want it all, then you’ve got it” and AFFAIRS definitely has it. We’re excited to hear what else the band has up their sleeve this year.
Alex Vargas has got something on his mind. With his debut EP, he delivers six heartfelt stories that justify all the buzz and the ones-to-watch articles that have been culminating for the past few years. He was part of our 2016 artist predictions. The EP opens up with the title track ‘Giving Up The Ghost’ which is a funky and rousing sound, clarifying the direction of the EP.
The Dane turned to the England in his late teenage years and has been honing and polishing his sound playing gigs. ‘Solid Ground’ has been a fan favourite for some time, exposing him to a broader audience. This is also where his earnest and heartfelt lyrics comes to show in the chorus “In the arms of another / you’re on solid ground / I’m a fool / I’m a coward / and I’m breaking down”.
With an electronic-based sound, there is always the risk of a disordered sound universe lacking empathy and warmth, but Alex has avoided it, in fact, he reaches a wholesome atmosphere with no worry or confusion. He has a broad approach to the electronic space he has created for himself, and I dare say the live shows have been a help to pinpoint what works and what doesn’t. ‘Wear Your Demons Out’ is a testament to that specifically. My only dislike is the song fades out instead of finishing strong.
His vocal and his falsetto, in particular, is to die for, and on ‘Shackled up’ you’re in for a catchy chorus and a falsetto you can’t help but sing along to. His incredible live performance of the song at The Distillery can be found here. Alex Vargas first debut is solid, and for his debut album, (I’m only contemplating), I would be expecting a wide-range of experimenting directions.
Hoodie Allen is proof that hard work makes a career. While I could leave you with that bold statement, his journey so far is too interesting to pass up on. From successful mixtapes (worth mentioning are Pep Rally and Leap Year), Hoodie started making waves, quite literally. The good old word of mouth rumored this dude to be three things in particularly: 1) Able to put on a tight show. 2) Actually knows his craft. And last but not least, 3) he is immensely polite and grateful to his fans in person and online. Kindness gets you somewhere, and Steven aka Hoodie Allen has shown it works if you mean it.
The buzz kept getting bigger in 2012 when his first EP All American (listen to ‘No Faith In Brooklyn’) debuted at number 10 on the Billboard 200. This was when people started asking the question, when is he going to sign with a big label? We are writing 2016 and that is still an unanswered question, and I do not think it will happen anytime soon. It was followed up by another mixtape Crew Cuts, and in 2014, he released his debut album People Keep Talking which featured Ed Sheeran on ‘All About It’ topping charts like iTunes. Oh, and he then proceeded to be part of Fall Out Boy’s tour Boys of Zummer.
Still an independent hip hop artist, he released his second album Happy Camper in January, which despite being available free, also topped many iTunes charts as well as hitting number one on the Billboard independent album list. He has toured harder than most. The UK, Europe and North America and Australia. The new album will to no one’s surprise be combined with a new major tour in the US.
The repetitive fact here is, that Hoodie Allen is all about the “show it don’t tell it”. The once Google-employed Steven is honing his craft, creating a buzz and repeating it, and if you do it enough times it gets you somewhere. Most artists would at this stage of their career have signed with a major label and given some of their responsibilities away, but there is not a creative angle where Mr. Allen has not been involved. And that shows.
Let Hoodie show you what he is capable of at a gig, and I promise you, will remember it as one of the best concerts of your life.
Andrew Tufano was probably voted “most likely to succeed” in high school. And if not, he probably should have been. He has fire in his eyes and passion in his heart, and that alone could get you far in the music industry. But it’s the talent that’ll shoot him straight to the top. Last summer he came off of a self-booked country-wide tour and released some new music, and this spring, Andrew’s going to get to touring again. But not before doubling the amount of songs he’s written so far in his career. I sat down with Andrew at a Nashville coffee shop called Eighth and Roast last month. Here’s what he had to say:
MusicDash: What are your favorite things about Nashville?
Andrew Tufano: Coffee’s up there. Eighth and Roast is up there. The things that keep me here are the people. That’s really what it is. Everybody’s here: there’s so many musicians and so much talent here. It’s very hospitable. There’s a lot of friendly people. Pretty much everybody I’ve ever asked to get coffee with and pick their brain, no matter how busy they are, they make time. You can’t do that in New York. People would just be like “no, talk to my assistant.” So I really love that aspect. It really makes up for the amount of gigs that don’t pay you. Cause if that weren’t here, I’d be out of here in a heartbeat but that keeps me here. Everybody’s here and I love it.
MusicDash: How did you get your start in music?
Andrew Tufano: My parents kind of forced me to play piano for a couple of years. That was where it started. I think I was in second grade when I got a little Casio keyboard for Christmas. They had me take a lessons for two years and I was like “okay, whatever.” They bought a full sized keyboard because the teacher was like “alright, he’s got to the point where this isn’t going to work.” Shortly after that I really wanted to quit but they were like “no, we just bought this full-sized keyboard. You’re going to keep taking lessons for at least another year.” And sometime during that I started playing a lot of Billy Joel and a lot of other stuff I really liked. Because when you’re first starting out you can’t play those types of songs. I got to a certain level where I started enjoying it and I just got hooked. I did instrumental songwriting a lot. I did a lot of electronic composition. I had Scorewriter and I entered this competition and they flew me out to Dallas to give me Sibelius. I was in that whole sphere and then I completely switched over in eighth grade to guitarist singer/songwriter. I’ve been doing that seriously since high school.
MusicDash: What’s your writing process like?
Andrew Tufano: The writing process is just ridiculous. I’m doing this project this winter where I’m writing 100 songs in 100 days. I’ve been writing a lot because of that. I’ve been writing the songs two weeks in advance so that I can sit with them for a little while before we record them. They’re going to be written within a hundred days but released within a hundred days two weeks later. There’s lyrics all over my room and it’s insanity. The biggest struggle for me is just organization. Mostly my writing process is a logistical nightmare. I’m trying to streamline that. It’s just me spewing out ideas, ferreting at first (either musically or lyrically). Usually I have a melody and chords in my head and I get those down. And then just taking that and editing it. It’s not even creative at that point. It just feels like I’m putting together a puzzle. So in a nutshell, its insanity.
MusicDash: Who would you say that some of your influences are?
Andrew Tufano: I’ll kind of take an artist and listen to them nonstop for a couple of weeks and then I’ll completely drop them. Right now, I’m on Ray LaMontagne. This morning I listened to that 2004 album he had four times in a row all the way through. And then I’ll kind of borrow some of his ideas. That’s kind of what I’ve done, so as far as inspiration goes, there’s this weird collection of artists that I’ll get really into and take some of their ideas or stylistic things and then move on. If I had to name one, it would be Billy Joel. In my childhood that was all I would listen to. I played like his entire discography. Since then it’s just such a collection that it’s hard for me to name a handful of artists.
MusicDash: I know this is tough, but what has been one of your favorite performances in Nashville?
Andrew Tufano: Honestly, one of my favorite performances that I’ve had here happened a few days ago in Puckett’s downtown. Usually when I play there in the winter, there’s not a lot of people there. It just happened to be packed, line out the door and I just lucked out. The people were just having such a good time and it was a good response after every song. I was making jokes with people and there was a lot of communication from the stage as opposed to just a one way “this is my stuff, you listen,” people were interacting and calling out songs. It was a really good time. There have been a lot of different types of shows here. I’ve played some house shows here and a lot of writer’s rounds, and some charities and hospitals. A big variety, so it’s hard to compare.
MusicDash: You went on a pretty long tour of the US last summer. Tell us a little about that. Where were some of your favorite places to play? How did you go about booking it?
Andrew Tufano: Let’s see. I played the Bluebird twice on the tour. Once with a trio, once solo. It was a really long tour! I just love playing there. They have an MC that goes up and says “guys, be quiet. No cell phones, listen.” It’s not a big room but everybody’s staring at you and listening to every word. Even at listening room shows, everybody’s not going to hear every word. There’s going to be people talking. There’s a little bit of pressure and you start second-guess like “I’ve never really thought about this lyric before. Everybody’s listening to it!” Usually I just sing and people forget once I get to the chorus.
My favorite city was probably Seattle. There’s no mosquitos there, everybody’s really chill. I’ve never really spent too much time on the west coast until this summer. There really is a west coast/east coast thing. There’s a different culture. The west coast has this sort of chill/hippy, a lot of tech people there. There’s a lot of art. I really like that aspect of that, so I really liked Seattle a lot. The west coast though, I didn’t have a lot booked. I had a house show in Seattle, but it wasn’t that big. The east coast was more of a tour – we had a show almost every day. The west coast was more of a vacation. We had like seven shows on the whole coast and we were there for about three weeks. It was a show every three days or so. The other days we were just kind of hanging out in the city and exploring and spending all of the money that we made on the east coast. It was such a good experience.
On the tour we played about 35ish and I booked them all myself. The reason that the east coast was so busy was because I was doing independent booking. I honestly just bit off a little more than I could chew. I booked it chronologically, so the further we got into the tour, the less we had booked. The first two weeks it was like every night we had a show. It was great! Then we just kind of slowed down and by the time we got to LA, it was like “alright.” I think there was a five day period with no shows so we were just driving around in Arizona.
MusicDash: So you had your EP that was released in September. Tell us a little bit about it. What was the process like for you?
Andrew Tufano: This was the first professional thing that I put out that wasn’t recorded in a studio. I have two other EPs that were recorded in a studio in Virginia. This one, I did in two different house studios with the Rhett Walker Band. They essentially made the album. They all played on it: the guitarist, the bassist, and the drummer. The drummer was the producer and most of the songs were recorded and mixed in the drummer’s house. Some of the parts were recorded in the guitarist’s house.
That’s something that honestly ten years ago I think wouldn’t have even been practical. Just the way that technology has improved. You can get such good sound out of somebody’s house. So I’m really excited about how it turned out. So I’m really satisfied with how it turned out. That helped save money too. I didn’t have to book studio time and the guys were so cool. Kenny Davis was the producer. He’s just an awesome guy. A really talented guy. He’s the first producer that I’ve worked with that isn’t in the same vein of instrumentalists as I am. I play the guitar and piano, so I’ve always worked with guitarists and pianists. We’d have similar ideas, which I hadn’t even realized until working with him. He’s a drummer and he’s be like “oh, we should do a half-time groove in the chorus.” He thought about things a little differently so it was great working with him.
That was all recorded February through April. I printed the CDs in May and I had them exclusively on the tour. So the songs have been done since May, but the digital release wasn’t until September 1st. There was a release show in D.C and the last leg of the tour was the release, but I actually had it the whole time on tour. It was kind of a little fun thing to give people.
MusicDash: Tell us a little bit about the Amplify Entertainment 100 songs in 100 days project!
Andrew Tufano: How do I put this? It’s going to be the death of me! It’s going to drive me to insanity and back. So I had this idea for a project near the end of my tour. I was trying to figure out what to do next and I have a tour booked February 20th to March 20th. I have another tour in the works from April until May but I had this whole block of time in the winter. I wanted to do something cool and something interesting and I wanted to challenge myself and push myself. I kind of played around with the idea of 100 songs in 100 days. I had done weeks called ‘7 in 7’ — 7 songs in 7 days and that was kind of challenging. So I don’t know why I thought that this would be okay. Like I’m going to go home after this and write a song.
So far it’s been good! I’m just surprised that Amplify Entertainment was on board with this. They’re really talented guys. So we have Forrest producing it, Joey and Mitchell are the Audio and Visual guys. I’m surprised that they’re on board. They all are for whatever reason. I think that the release is December 8th. We have 7 videos recorded already, We’re doing 5 or 6 videos on Sunday. We’re going to try to stay 10 videos ahead because there will be times that one of us goes out of town. So we need to be 10 videos ahead or the project will fail. There’s no other way.
So yeah, that’s the project. I really want to test the relationship between creativity and productivity. I think that’s what it is. I’ve had a lot of people tell me “oh, you’re right brained. You’re really creative, so you’re probably not good at organization or the business side” and I don’t think that being good at one thing inhibits you from being good at another. I don’t think that’s related. I don’t think that that’s very scientific either. You can have two halves of one brain. Like I was talking about with writing is that you have to sit down and write it all and then you have to make it all work. It feels different. I do think that a lot of people will limit themselves. That’s kind of a limiting belief to say “I’m a creative person, so I can’t do this. I need to find a manager. I need to find someone else to do it.” That’s just kind of selling yourself short. So, I kind of want to challenge that.
All of the videos will be finished by February 20th but the last video won’t come out until March 7th or 14th. And I’m giving a Ted X talk about how everything went. I don’t know what I’m going to talk about yet, but it’s the culmination of the whole project just to kind of be like “this is what I learned, this is what I had problems with, this is how it went.” I’ll play a few of the songs. And then we’re hopefully going to do a documentary about the whole experience.
MusicDash: What else is coming up for you in 2016?
Andrew Tufano: I just sat down with a booking agent about my schedule for next year. She’s like “give me all the dates you have booked, where you want to book, where you want to tour.” I have the tour in February and March going down to Florida cause it’s warmer down there. I have a tour in April and May with a band in the southeast. And then after that, I didn’t have much planned. I’m probably just going to move out of my apartment and tour around. I’m never there and I feel like “why am I paying for rent?”
I literally wrote an email saying “I don’t know what I’m doing after May.” I literally told her that I’m down for whatever. I want to go to the west coast again. A friend and I are trying to tour the Rockies. I have a fiddle player and we’re going to tour from Nashville to Boston on these dates, but I don’t care where we go in between. We can hit the east coast, we can go up the midwest. Things are just so up in the air. After I write 100 songs, things will look different. My entire show will be different because I’ll have new songs. I think my style will be different.
Hopefully this will gather a little bit of a following. I don’t have a big YouTube following right now, so hopefully this will get me a little more in the YouTube scene. I think it’s just a matter of adjusting on the fly and seeing where things go. I’ve always been comfortable with that. That’s why I freelance and why I don’t have a job right now. I would prefer to just take things as they go. If I have too much planned, I feel trapped.
Every time I’m interviewed and I’m asked this question, I say the same thing and that frightens me. It’s like “well I have the next few months planned, but after that, we’ll see.” I’ll let you know.
Last weekend, I went to RJ Bracchitta’s album release show at The Basement in Nashville, TN. I arrived just in time for RJ to take the stage. I stood towards the back was in the perfect position to see how the audience interacted with RJ. From what I saw, the audience was pretty content with RJ’s performance and stage presence. I overheard a young woman say “he has a great personality.” Heck, I’m pretty sure that I even saw a couple slow dancing at one point.
The musicians on stage were assisting RJ in making music that stood out. RJ said to the crowd between songs “These guys are some of the greatest musicians I’ve ever met.” RJ is a pretty talented guy himself, playing the piano, the acoustic, and the electric guitar.
The last song of RJ’s set was the title track of his album “Free.” He introduced the song with a little speech in which he said “every single person in this room is completely different and that’s incredible. We should embrace that.” The band then broke into this “super cool synchronized clap thing” (I’m copying directly from my notes here). The clapping was a great complement to RJ’s guitar playing. Musically, this song was definitely my favorite. Crowd participation is a very big deal to me, and RJ nailed it with having us all sing “I wanna be free.” We even had some drunken harmonies from the audience, which actually made a nice addition to the performance. As a Nashville newcomer would say, “only in Nashville.”
In closing, RJ’s songs may only live on our Snapchat stories just for the night, but they’ll live in our minds for much longer.
You can check out RJ’s album “Free” on his website here.
The sound of the resurgence of garage and indie rock has a new face. A few new faces, in fact. The Spanish rockers Hinds have been growing momentum for the past few months through the release of low-fi tracks ‘Garden’ and ‘Chili Town’, and their debut album ‘Leave Me Alone’ is a near-perfect attempt at a bundle of messy nostalgia, a beautiful further nod towards the garage rock scene.
Hinds aren’t the only ones currently nodding in this direction, of course, but ‘Leave Me Alone’ signifies that Hinds are a little more special than the charming qualities of being all female, from Spain, and their obvious The Velvet Underground influence give them. ‘Bamboo’, originally created when Hinds were known as ‘Deers’ and only consisted of singers Carlotta Cosials and Ana García Perrote, is a hazy, acoustically inspired happy-go lucky anthem, while ‘Garden’ and ‘Castigadas en el Granero’ serve as the melodic centrepieces, rivalling with the simplistic funk of ‘Fat Calmed Kiddos’ for the quartet’s best track.
The simplicity of the songs is a highlight rather than a drawback – it continues throughout the album, creating a consistent hark back to their garage inspirations, with the added twist of Mac DeMarco style and much needed girl power. The riff of ‘Chili Town’ perfectly captures Hinds’ musical drawings, with their video encompassing their fun, laid back attitude, which is incidentally what saves the album from becoming too samey.
While the album does admittedly get a bit repetitive, the girls seem to know how to successfully combine their disjointed garage with endearing lyrics. Drinking out of cartons, smoking cigarettes like old Hollywood stars and dancing to an album called ‘Leave Me Alone’ may give Hinds a bit of a tough-girl character, but lyrics such as ‘I am flirting with this guy just to pretend I’m fine’ constitute as the girls’ lyrical equivalent to their similarly fractured, confused and emotionally charged melodies. There’s a mix of apathetic lovesick lyricism, ‘All I’m asking for is you to make a move’, and apathetic teenage musings, ‘you’re getting blinder taking drugs’, sung by voices that tend to crash into each other, rumbling over changing tempos and crackling percussion. All this is highlighted by an underlying sunny disposition, causing you to shift between all consuming thoughts of heartbreak to feeling carefree of such matters, lying on a beach somewhere in Spain. It’s messy, sure, but all good debuts are. Hinds are doing it right.