Lissie, California’s resident folk rock mystic by way of Illinois recently conversed with me by way of electronic communication over the ever so important world wide web. She is currently on tour supporting her sophmore album, Back to Forever. She will be playing the Fonda this Monday night, December 9th, and I highly suggest you attend. Here is that conversation, in all it’s fantastical glory.
Q. At what age did you begin playing music and what inspired you to do so?
A. i started singing instinctively from a really young age and then as i started getting into relationships and the struggles of adolescence i started writing songs and teaching myself guitar.. as an outlet for my feelings. singing has always been cathartic and soothing!
Q. In light of Nelson Mandela passing to day, who are some of your personal hero’s, be they politicians, musicians, activists, etc.?
A. he was an incredible man and hero for all! i admire dolly parton, dave grohl, bruce springsteen, bobbie gentry and mark twain.
Q. What element of your career is most stressful and why?
A. the nonsense! its never as simple as just letting happy accidents create magic,, theres too much scrutiny!
Q. Are there any current social issues you feel passionate about?
A. yes. womens reproductive rights and access to birth control is a no brainer. a lot of the worlds problems could be solved and/or avoided by giving women the right to control there own destiny. furthermore i see that the most troubled areas of the world are the ones that repress women and the most thriving are the parts of the world where women make up an equal share of governance. i also have concerns for the environment where short sighted practices like mountain top removal and franking are concerned. AND i think that education needs to focus on giving kids an opportunity to find out what they are good at and possibly learning skills as opposed to the vagueness of “getting a college degree” just to go into debt and still not know what the heck you want to do with your life!
Q. Is there a stopping point on the horizon where you could see yourself putting down music and pursuing something else, or is music a life long vocation?
A. music will always be a real defining thing for me. i do hope to get married and have kids but don’t think i’d ever “put music down” just that i’d do it in a different way than the nonstop touring. id also love to take classes and learn more about the world around me. i think i’ll have a long and successful authentic career so i try not to be in a rush … anything i would choose to do would inform my songwriting and passion for music.
Q. Do you ever find yourself seeking validation for your music, for example chart success? Or have you been able to overcome social norms of validation and find inner peace through just being able to create music you love?
A. i work on the inner peace. 2 small steps are better than a giant leap in my book. its a struggle not to get frustrated, jealous or bitter sometimes. but thats just my ego ya know? im on my own path and have been very fortunate.. i never got into music out of competitiveness or in a desire for fame so i focus on expressing myself and making music people can sink their teeth into.
Q. Favorite Color?
A. brown ?
Q. Favorite Childhood cartoon?
A. inspector gadget
Q. What is one of your favorite lesser known Fantasy Novels?
A. not sure whats “lesser known” i read 1Q84 trilogy by murakami last year and loved it! its quite well known but more geared to adults.
Q. What is an interesting, bazaar, or strange story from your touring journey?
A. this past summer i was playing a few festivals in norway and all my flights to get there were delayed or cancelled,, i took like 5 flights to try and get to my stage on time! my last flight i was able to get on in hopes of getting to the site on time was cancelled so in a last ditch effort the promotors sent a helicopter to pick me up and i flew for an hour over gorgeous norwegian fjords and mountains just to land and run directly to my stage and only have enough time to play 5 songs! also my luggage never came and my laptop had gotten swapped with someone elses at security. we tracked mine down though.. the guy was in lebanon! we were able to swamp back! it was nuts! everything that could have gone wrong did but now its a good story!
Q. What is your song writing process like, is there any set routine or is it purely organic with no set parameters?
A. i sing melodies and come up with lyrics as they come to me. if i co-write then i’ll sit down and talk with a fellow musician/ writer .. for example they’ll play a chord progression and i’ll come up with lots of melody bits.. then pick my favorites and write lyrics to fit the phrasing / rhythm of the improvised melody. so it depends on if im writing alone where its more like “up to my muses” or who i collaborate with and what our dynamic is like.
Q. In the three years between records, how has time effected the way you approach music, and is their any wisdom you acquired in that time between records that positively informed the creation of this new album?
A. i think i’ve learned that moving forward i don’t want to plan or over think what i do creatively too much. the best stuff happens through being busy and prolific and happy accidents. magic cant be made,, it just happens.
Q. Are there any musicians you plan or wish to collaborate with?
A. i’d love to work with phish or bruce springsteen. i’d love to work with kid cudi , gorillaz and damon albarn.
Q. Who are some of your favorite musicians your fans would not expect you to listen to?
A. i have no idea what people would expect! haha. i love the grateful dead and phish. i also really love kendrick lamar.
Q. Since you caught a tiger, and are now currently back to Forever, what is next?
A. whatever i want!
Q. If you could be any animal, what would you be and why? Mystical Creatures also count.
A. well i think my spirit animal is a roadrunner. they eat snakes you know!
Artist Interview: Dresses
Indie pop duo Dresses have been hard at work this year promoting their debut album Sun Shy and playing with some of indie music’s biggest acts. UCLARadio caught up with members Timothy Heller and Jared Maldonado before their recent show at the legendary Troubadour to discuss growing up in the Pacific Northwest, signing to a punk label, the importance of music videos, and more.
Can you give us some background on how the band started?
Timothy: Yeah! I was in a band in high school with some guys and they all went to school with Jared so he had seen us play before. We had a lot of mutual friends so I heard Jared’s solo stuff online. When all the guys in my band moved away to college, I didn’t have anyone to play music with so I was like, “We should write music,” and then we did.
So you guys never considered college or anything like that for yourselves?
Jared: She went to hair school.
Timothy: Well, first I went to Portland State for a term and then I went to community college for a while and then I didn’t do anything and then I went to hair school and I graduated that.
Jared: And I was touring with another band for a while, and then I was supposed to go to Portland State as well, and then I just didn’t.
I feel like the Pacific Northwest indie scene has almost become a genre entirely on its own. What was it like growing up there, surrounded by all that music? (more…)
Album Review: Stepbrother – Stepbrother EP
I’m not quite sure who these guys are. I picked up their CD from our weekly meetings at UCLA Radio Headquarters while browsing through that weeks selection of music. Usually the music is met with the typical cynicism and derision, but I picked this one out when it seemed that no one else wanted to give these guys a fighting chance. So I thought, hell, why not. I like the electric pop sound that they have going on and just from the first track it sounded miles ahead of the usual submissions we get.
But who are Stepbrother? They came in a blank jewel CD case with nothing in it except for what looked like a home printed CD with Stepbrother EP written on it. Two silhouettes of dudes looking nonchalant, one wearing an LA cap. (I don’t even know the names of the songs!)
Listening to the music though, is it even two guys? The first track does much to remind me of Passion Pit or other new synthpop type bands. Vocals that seem to go at times to an uncomfortable vibrato laid over booming computer beats and the pianos that come in and out on “Track 1.” They seem even more like Chvrches on the second track when a female vocalist comes in. And the most impressive of this mystery is that it’s comparable to the kinds of music that these other, more well known artists. (more…)
Album Review: A$AP Ferg – Trap Lord
Last year’s disappointing Lords Never Worry from the A$AP Mob revealed the two highlights of the crew – A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg. Rocky has already established himself with his debut mixtape that blew up from the underground and then straight to the pop stratosphere with his first studio album. And while whether or not Lords Never Worry was just a misstep on the crew’s part is still to be seen, Trap Lord represents promising results from the most promising member of the collective.
Trap Lord was originally intended to be a mixtape but was turned into a full blown album and there are those rough spots to be seen. The pacing of the album is questionable, productions could have used some more care, and overall there is a rugged quality to the whole work. Ferg himself is a versatile rapper, but often the energy of the mixtape is dark and unrelenting and Ferg doesn’t stray too far from worn out rap topics and hood anthems. It’s hard to sit through the entire album and be consistently bobbing your head to it.
Lissie Live at the Fonda Theater
This coming Monday, December 9th, 2013, Lissie will be riding on through the Fonda Theater in Hollywood, and it’s a show you don’t want to miss. Hailing from Ojai, California, Lissie brings electrified folk powerfully and pure, and with a captivating stage presence and talent to match, Lissie is worth the price of admission. Why waste your Monday night on procrastinating for finals when you could swing by the Fonda and add a lighter brightness to these cold December nights?
Advanced Screening: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 12/9
UCLAradio wants to send you to an advanced screening of The Hobbit- The Desolation of Smaug on Monday, December 9 at 7pm at AMC Burbank! We have front of the line passes to give away so you and a friend see the film before anyone else, and in RealD 3D too! To enter to win, all you have to do is head to our Facebook page now and enter our contest! You don’t want to miss out on the second film in this epic adventure.
From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The three films tell a continuous story set in Middle-earth 60 years before “The Lord of the Rings,” which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar®-winning “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, on an epic quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.
Having survived the beginning of their unexpected journey, the Company continues East, encountering along the way the skin-changer Beorn and a swarm of giant Spiders in the treacherous forest of Mirkwood. After escaping capture by the dangerous Wood-elves, the Dwarves journey to Lake-town, and finally to the Lonely Mountain itself, where they must face the greatest danger of all—a creature more terrifying than any other; one which will test not only the depth of their courage but the limits of their friendship and the wisdom of the journey itself—the Dragon Smaug.
Interview: Anthony Green
Anthony Green, best known as frontman of experimental rock band Circa Survive, recently released his first full-length solo LP Young Legs. He’s currently on tour in support of the album, and stopped in LA for a performance at the El Rey. We caught up with him to ask about his creative process, what touring is like as a family man, and how the rest of Circa Survive keep themselves busy while he goes solo.
How is it being back in LA?
It feels good! It’s always nice to come back to LA. I feel like I have a hometown relationship with LA, and pretty much anywhere in California. Living out here and being in a band out here for a while, I feel like I’ve developed a pretty strong relationship with this area. I always have good shows here.
How do you feel about the rest of the tour coming up?
I’m excited. The shows have been awesome. it’s been really fun having my family out with me. It’s been a dream come true. (more…)
Album Review: Various Artists – Rockin’ Legends Pay Tribute to Jack White
Not all great albums come from Third Man Records.
Rockin’ Legends Pay Tribute to Jack White features rockabilly and blues artists covering many of White’s songs. It features songs from his White Stripes albums, from his time with The Raconteurs, and from his solo career. Not that his songs need it, but this album injects a new feeling into his songs. His songs go from being messy blues to rockabilly, almost country songs. A more beautiful conversion could not be conceived. Although these songs aren’t covered by mainstream rock artists this album highlights the sounds and styles that influenced White himself to pick up a guitar in the first place and thank God for that!
You can tell right from the first track “In the Cold, Cold Night” that this isn’t just a cover album, it’s a tribute. This first track when featured on The White Stripes’ Elephant was sung by Meg White and it had a more quiet and tender feeling. Here it’s sung by rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson giving it a seductive almost deadly feel. (more…)
Album Review: Adam Rongo – Tell Your Story
Talent the likes of Adam Rongo should not go unnoticed. His debut album comes courtesy of the Kickstarter boom and he asked for only a mere $4,500 to put out this jazz album. Rongo is an alto saxophonist and even though he’s an up and comer his talent is something to be taken seriously. At the young age of 25 he’s already making a name for himself in the Jazz circuits as a teacher to other young musicians such as Diego Rivera and Rodney Whitaker.
Rongo isn’t just a technical wonder to listen to as on opening tracks “Turnin’ the Corner” and or on a jazz standard “Two Tees” by Jimmy Heath, but he shows his chops both as an emotionally charged performer and own compositional skill on a track like “Temporary Paralysis.” He shows his range from doing sweet licks on those previously mentioned tracks to doing slowed down bluesy tunes such as “You’re Mine, You.” But even on these tracks he blends perfectly with the people that he is paired up with never detracting from the ensemble’s cohesion. (more…)
Album Review: Fuzz – Life in San Francisco
Ty Segall’s newest stoner boner band, Fuzz, performed for Segall’s birthday at the SF Eagle. Despite the fact that this is a live record — sometimes a catalogue outcrop that doesn’t need to be paid too much attention — Live In San Francisco is essential for Fuzz fans jonesing for a live show. Segall, famous for his dual tasking (drumming and singing), is on top of his game.
Even having seen them live a couple of times, I can say that this album perfectly captures the experience sans the miasma of other people’s sweat/tears/blood/beer burps. A little fuzzy (sorry), if you enjoy the aesthetic of Fuzz, you should enjoy Live In San Francisco.” Ty Segall’s obvious energy and enthusiasm for making music (check out his catalogue) transfers well into this record, with songs off their 2013 release, “This Time I Got a Reason”, their other 2013 release, “Sleigh Ride”, and their 2013 self-titled album.
Fuzzy guitar, wailing, thick bass: Fuzz (and Ty Segall) are up and coming (if not already there) for a reason, and “Live In San Francisco” doesn’t deviate from their hard rocking stoner vibes. (more…)