5 Questions With:: Valise [CMJ Edition]


We caught up with Dallas indie-rockers, Valise, about their experience at CMJ, their upcoming tour with Macy Gray and what fans can expect to see next from the band! Check out our interview below!

Since CMJ is filled with tons of incredible acts, were you excited to catch any artists in particular? Did you stumble across any new artists that you are now a fan of?

I think we were absolutely charmed by the Diet Cig punk duo and blown away by our buddies in The Kickback. Great bands, for sure.

You guys are about to hit the road with Macy Gray – that’s huge, congrats! How excited are you about that experience?

So excited! It definitely seems like an interesting match-up – but we all love it.  A lot of times you go to shows and watch the same 3 bands perform, and by the time the band you came to see starts, you’re pretty desensitized to the whole experience. This will be anything but that. We’re incredibly lucky to share the stage with a talented Grammy-winning artist like Macy.

Speaking of hitting the road, it seems like all you guys do is tour, which is definitely not a bad thing! But we have to ask, what keeps you guys so driven to constantly be on the road?

When you’re on tour, all the typical daily worries just go out the window. I get massively discontent when I do too much  repetitive stuff, and even though touring can be really repetitive, each day has a million experiences just waiting to be had. I often reach stimulation overload, haha. Don’t get me wrong, I need my time at home with my family and Netflix, but I think we do a good job of striking a balance between the two.

This past summer, fans heard your songs “Charlie Gray” and “Dialogue” in episodes of Chasing Life on ABC Family. If you could place one of your songs in any movie, which movie, scene, and song would it be?

I think if instead of the famous Star Wars theme song you heard a Valise song when the opening space-text crawl begins, that would be most ideal. it would do well with millennials, I think.

You guys released your latest album, Young Bloomer, earlier this year. What can fans expect to see next from you guys?

We plan to release a deluxe version of Young Bloomer in the new year on vinyl, which we’ve never done before. I’m thrilled!

5 Questions With:: Slow Down Molasses [CMJ Edition]


We recently spoke with Saskatoon five-piece, Slow Down Molasses, to discuss the development of their sound, artists they’re currently listening to, and which artists stood out to them the most at CMJ! You can find our interview with the band below!

Also be sure to check out the photos our photographer, Gina Garcia, took during their set at Livestream Public in Brooklyn at the end of CMJ weekend here!

You classify your sound as shoegazey dream pop, which aren’t common genre classifications in our book. Where did the term ‘shoegazey’ come from and how did you develop your sound? Was it something that came naturally?

Ha! Sometimes I forget that I/we tend to live in a bit of a bubble, with all of us listening to fairly similar music. The term shoegaze was initially coined by the U.K. music press as a derogatory way to reference bands like Slowdive, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, and other similar band that played loud, effects-laden, guitar music that tended to rely pretty heavily on guitar effects pedals, so the joke was that the musicians spent the entire set staring at their shoes as they turned on and off all their pedals. Since then it’s been embraced as a (positive) term to describe that scene. When I was getting really interested and excited about music as a teenager, a few of the key bands I got excited about were part of that scene or heavily influenced by it, Canadian bands like SIANspheric and Eric’s Trip, whom I loved, would talk about the bands they like and a lot of it could fit within that shoegaze or dream pop world. I discovered a lot of great music via those two bands. With Slow Down Molasses, I initially started the band as more of acoustic based thing. At the time I was wanting to write songs that I could easily sing and play by myself, eventually, my natural tendencies to also want to add layer after layer of hazy, delay-pedal driven guitar lines crept into the sound. Burnt Black Cars is the first album that we really just played what came naturally, which meant that everything tended to start with big hazy, feedback filled guitar lines. Then we’d slowly tone it down to make sure their was still an actual song hiding in the feedback.

Since CMJ is filled with tons of incredible acts, were you excited to catch any artists in particular? Did you stumble across any new artists that you are now a fan of?

Yeah, obviously CMJ is worth playing in it’s own right, but it’s a lot of effort and money to get into the U.S. to play shows. The cost and stress of getting a VISA is absurd, so I think if there wasn’t secondary reasons, like seeing bands we love, it would be hard to put in the work to make it happen. For me, getting to see Mercury Rev was a huge highlight. I’ve loved that band for years and it’s been nearly a decade since I last saw them play live. They were absolutely fantastic, as expected. It amazing how vital that band still seems, especially as a live band. One band that was a great surprise find for me was Ezra Furman. He opened the Mercury Rev show, but I only caught the last few songs, so I ended up going and see a full set the next day and it was fantastic. Really great songs and some bizarre/entertaining stage banter. A few of us also caught Protomartyr, who were really great to see. I’m somewhat confounded by their songs, but I keep going back and listening to them over and over again, so I think that’s a good sign.

FREEwilliamsburg called Slow Down Molasses one of their 15 bands to watch at CMJ, which is incredible! What are some under-the-radar artists you are currently listening to that you would include on your own ‘artist to watch’ list?

The defining characteristic of everyone in this band is that we are huge music fans, so this is always my favorite question to answer. Saskatoon has a really fantastic music scene that, in my opinion, rivals nearly any scene anywhere. There are some really great guitar-based bands ranging from Spiritualized-esque drone-folk from Dumb Angel, to instrumental doom-metal from Shooting Guns, post-punk weirdos Susan, and amazing murder-balled folk song from Ryan Boldt (of the Deep Dark Woods). I listen to each of those bands as much as I listen to any other bands. If you are at all into the music we make, I am certain you will dig their stuff. It’s as good as anything happening anywhere right now.

For non-local stuff, I’ve been really loving the Buzz Records scene out of Toronto. We just played with Dilly Dally, who are wonderful and seem to be getting a ton of much deserved hype. HSY also just passed through Saskatoon and they are fantastic. It seems like everything that label is putting out is wonderful. Definitely worth checking out.

Something we’ve noticed is that you truly use social media to your benefit by using it as a way to not only interact with fans, but to share things that are of importance to you from women empowerment to politics and everything in between. This is almost uncommon to see from artists nowadays because they’re always afraid of saying the wrong thing, but your band uses it as a platform to bring awareness to these issues. Why do you think it is so important for artists to use social media in this way versus refraining from speaking about these issues?

Thank you for this. For a while it seemed like all I was posting was stuff about our band and I felt that that was so very boring and cynically self-involved. If you knew us as people, you’d know that we all are quite passionate people, both about the music we love, but also the communities we come from and about the issues we see around us. Because of this, I’ve always battled a little with whether to post strong opinions via the band’s social media channels. It can be polarizing, but this last while I’ve noticed that I get excited when I see artists that I admire speaking about something that is real, whether it be raving about a record they like, or taking a stand and publicly commenting on an issue. I think that is really important. Social media is amazing because it does allow for more dialogue about what’s going on around us. There is lots of wonderful stuff that is happening these days, but equally there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed and inevitably we all talk about those issues in our day to day lives, so it makes sense to talk about them on the bands social media channels. I still err a bit on the side of caution and post about stuff that I am certain that myself and others in the band can and will comfortably defend, but I’ve been really happy seeing the reaction to some of our non-music posts. I really do think that more artists should be talking about issues that they care about. There is a lot we as a society can do better.

What can fans expect next from Slow Down Molasses? Maybe a new music video or tour?

Since we’ve been back from CMJ, we’ve dived head first into writing our new album. This summer and fall has been a really productive time for me writing and everyone in the band seems to be excited about the new songs, so we’re really excited to take some time to work on the songs and get back into the studio. We started recording a few songs in August and we hope to be back in the studio before the end of the year. We took four years between Walk Into The Sea and Burnt Black Cars, and I really don’t want to wait that long before releasing new music again, so don’t be surprised to see some new music from us in 2016.

5 Questions With: To Write Love On Her Arms [Warped Edition]


We caught up with the lovely folks at To Write Love On Her Arms to discuss the release of the To Write Love On Her Arms movie, National Suicide Prevention Week and the 10th birthday of the foundation! Check out our interview below!

Between the release of the movie, If You Feel Too Much and your continued college and music event participation, this has been a giant year for TWLOHA, what were some of the highlights for you personally?
In the Events world, this was an incredibly busy year; we returned to Australia to do a festival series, we had Heavy and Light in Los Angeles and Orlando, and we hosted our Run for It 5k in Melbourne, FL, and we also finished a very busy festival/Warped Tour circuit this summer. Any opportunity to connect with new people and reconnect with supporters is always a highlight and something that we are very thankful for.

You guys have been on Warped Tour for several years, what brings you back to this community in particular?
We love Warped because it offers a great opportunity to connect, engage and activate over half a million attendees each summer as well as some of the best up and coming musicians. The crowd is passionate about social issues and they want to make a difference. Kevin Lyman and the entire VWT team has become family and we love that the festival features a “Take Action” Not for profit section with 10-15 non-profits that are all working for incredible causes. It is a chance to raise support for TWLOHA, but most importantly, it is a chance for us to show those that are struggling that they are not alone. We provide resource guides for each city to help get people plugged into help when they need it. Warped definitely feels like home for TWLOHA.

National Suicide Prevention Week saw the rise of the wonderful No One Else Can Play Your Part campaign, what do you advise people to do to raise awareness on a smaller scale?
Educating themselves on the mental health so that we can all work to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health would be the best thing that people can do. It will help them understand the issues and better address it when someone is struggling in their local community.

A lot of people know of TWLOHA and the amazing stories that have been shared, but are unsure of next steps. What do you recommend looking into for people who are uncertain about receiving help?
I would encourage them to be brave and reach out. We strongly believe in the power of community and the power that it can have and help with healing. I would encourage them to visit the find help section of our website. https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/

You all have accomplished so much recently, what is next for TWLOHA?
This year marks the 10th birthday of TWLOHA, so keep an eye on our website for what is to come!  https://twloha.com/events/

5 Questions With: Jocelyn & Chris Arndt [CMJ Edition]


Soulful singer-songwriter duo, Jocelyn and Chris Arndt, just recently played the CMJ Music Marathon for the second time as official CMJ artists! We sat down with the sibling duo to chat about their experience at this year’s CMJ, festival preparation, and their upcoming full length! Check out our interview below!

You can also check out our recent session with them, where the duo performed their track “Shame” here!

Since CMJ is filled with tons of incredible acts, were you excited to catch any artists in particular? Did you stumble across any new artists that you are now a fan of?

The whole experience was amazing.  We got into town on Thursday and we had a pretty full day of meetings and prep work for our showcases, plus we did a couple of acoustic performances for different media outlets, so we didn’t get out to see any artists that night.  But Friday we met and got to hear some incredible bands at our showcase at The Delancey.  First off the club is amazing, three floors including an exceptionally sweet rooftop lounge.  Ruby Red Fox out of Boston were killer as were all the other bands that night.  Saturday we played at our publicist Big Picture Media’s showcase at Arlene’s Grocery.  Arlene’s seriously has one of the best sounding rooms in the city.  Malia Grace from Texas was tremendous, just Malia and her piano, that was all it took to get the whole rooms attention.  The Gills out of Nashville Tennessee were straight up high power rock.  They’re exactly the type of band we’d do shows with for sure.  Too many great artists to mention… it was AMAZING!

You’re no stranger to playing festivals, having previously performed at the Sundance Film Festival and Mountain Jam Music Festival. Do you guys prepare differently for festivals versus any other show you would normally play?

Well for large stage festivals like Mountain Jam, we have a crew that helps out getting gear situated and ready.  But for multi-band showcase type events like CMJ it is all about performing as much music as possible in our allotted time slot, making it easy for the house sound person, and promoting promoting, promoting!!  We actually rehearse the specific show we are going to do right down to the talking points.  When we are doing those rehearsals we don’t stop even if there is a mistake or technical problem.  That gives us the best shot at presenting a powerful showcase regardless of anything going wrong.  We’ve also spent a lot of time on the road so we are used to just about anything!

Everyone has a different way of defining how and when they make it, whether it’s a radio single or playing sold-out shows. How do you measure your success?

To begin with, success is being proud of our work. Not compromising, no “B” sides, always making every song everything it can be. Now that we have a recording and development deal, we are able to take our time a bit and really find the best path for each song, plus we get to work with some pretty amazing people!! For us, regardless of income, there is no true success without having pride in what we do.

As far as “traditional success”, the big music industry has taken a very big hit over the past decade.  Decision making is much more conservative, there is less money, and there is not much wiggle room or time for an artist to develop under a traditional label.  Fortunately at the same time, there has never been a time in history where an artist can more directly affect their own success.  We both feel this is a great time to be in the music business and we are committed to and excited by the road ahead of us.  Love and believe in what you do, inspire and be inspired, and success will follow.

Being that you guys are under 21 and there are tons of venues that do have age restrictions, have you ever had any issues with getting into one of your own shows?

shhhhh:)   Ok it’s true… but not for long!  We have absolutely run into venues with super strong age restrictions even for performers.  We are fortunate to have a great Management Team and they have successfully negotiated us onto performances at most of these venues, though it often means a giant letter X written on our hands in permanent marker.

Seriously though, these clubs are someone’s business and the success of that business depends on the club being very careful to protect their beer and liquor license. We have enormous respect for that and would never jeopardize it.  We are there to play music!!

It’s been a while since we’ve seen an album from you. Is there any new music in the works, possibly a new album? If so, what information can you share with us about it?

Yes!!  Our full length Edges is well into production. It will feature 14 original tracks and we are thrilled with it. We’ve recorded extensively at White Lake Music, but this time around we did vocals for one song at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The rest of the vocals were recorded at our producers home in The Adirondacks.

The vibe of being in the middle of nowhere, sleeping in, drinking tea, and not having to watch the clock made for some really inspired takes.  We both love the studio, but getting out of the studio for the vocals was an incredible experience.  We are headed back there in a couple weeks to finish some guitar.. and just maybe a campfire and some marshmallows:)

At the same time we are doing acoustic versions of almost every song on the album as well as alternative versions and a series of club remixes. There is a LOT coming!! Word is we will release Edges officially in mid February followed by extensive touring to support it. Fingers crossed!! We are also shooting several videos for release in conjunction with the album. It’s going to be great!!