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INTERVIEW WITH… ALTERNATIVE POP DUO MISERY KIDS

INTERVIEW WITH… ALTERNATIVE POP DUO MISERY KIDS


New Emo Alt-Pop duo Misery Kids are a band on the rise, taking key elements from synth-pop, arena rock, and alternative bands from the mid-2000s. As they prepare for an opening tour slot in 2022 with Paradise Now, I chat with Misery Kids about that tour, their new single “Turn Of The Lights”, its music video, and more below.


THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: So, Hi guys! How did you each get your start in music? How did Misery Kids come to fruition? 

MISERY KIDS: Hi! We both started getting heavily into music in our early teens. The alternative lifestyle and community was really taking off then and it’s where we found our sense of belonging. We went on to form local bands and play at nearby function rooms, pubs, house shows and anywhere that would have us. After years cutting our teeth in the local scene, we both took a step forward in touring bands, Alex with ‘Rumours’ / ‘Show It Off’ and I played in ‘The Afterparty’.

We met back in 2011 when our previous bands were booked to play the same stage at Hevy Festival. Since then, we crossed paths a bunch of times on the road and at parties. We would talk about our influences, writing styles and bonded over the bands Artist Vs Poet and Marianas Trench. Inevitably we would make music together one day and in the year 2017 MK was born.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Talk us through a typical songwriting process? Was writing for ‘Turn Off The Lights’ any different? I that the track has a fresh summery sound.

MISERY KIDS: We tend to approach songwriting with a stripped back mentality. We believe that if you have an idea that sounds like a hit in acoustic form, the chances are you’re on to a winner – especially when you start adding the supporting layers. TOTL was slightly different, we had the verse ideas for a while but the chorus didn’t 100% click until we took it into the practice room and started experimenting. I remember the feeling when we finally cracked it, it was definitely one of those eureka moments!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Let’s talk about “Turn Off The Lights” music video, the inspiration behind it, and it came together?

MISERY KIDS: Our friend in Italy created the video for us. The brief was to capture mixed emotions of an unstable relationship in order to tell the story of TOTL. The video incorporates some of the good memories interspersed with the cracks that ultimately appear. The signs are there, the couple are in love turmoil, the balance tips as they reach breaking point.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: In 2022 you will share the stage with Paradise Now. What are most looking forward to? What are top three tour must-haves?

MISERY KIDS: We’re really looking forward to the Paradise Now dates in February! We are playing Norwich on the 4th and Cardiff on the 5th. Last time we played Cardiff was in 2019 and it’s still one of our favourite shows to date. The crowd really brought the energy that night, so hopefully it’ll go off again! This will be our first time performing in Norwich, I heard it was the home mustard… I don’t really like mustard though. But seriously, we’re always excited to visit new places and meet new people.

Touring is easily our favourite part of being in a band. For us, nothing beats the adrenaline of playing live.

Our top three tour must haves:-

1. The ultimate playlist. This is a necessity for us to get ourselves pumped for the shows when warming up backstage. We also like to give the front of house a specific playlist just before we go on – this is usually filled with 80’s bangers. It always gets the crowd going.

2. A good sound engineer is an absolute must. They can make or break a show so it’s worth having them on your side (if they’ll let you).

3. A bed for after the show. Sounds obvious, right? In reality, a lot of upcoming bands are crashing on friends’ floors, in their vans or wherever it is free or cheap, because there’s often a limited budget. We’ve slept on plenty of floors over the years but in truth it really takes its toll and it becomes harder to keep up performance levels. Sometimes you have to roll with it but these days we try to get our beauty sleep.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What does music and the craft of songwriting mean to you?  

MISERY KIDS: Everything. It’s our passion and we would be completely lost without it.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is your earliest music-related memory?    

MISERY KIDS: Music for me started at playgroup. I can still remember there was a box of instruments and I think I might have been the annoying kit that always wanted to bang the drum.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Recommend a playlist or a podcast that you can’t get enough of lately?  

MISERY KIDS: We love the Sappenin’ Podcast with Sean Smith. Honestly, it’s really entertaining and there’s no holds barred. Always great guests too.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What was the last text that made you laugh?

MISERY KIDS: My Dad text me this on the weekend which cracked me up. Knowing him, I can fully picture this:-

“Hi Nic, just had a senior moment at the footie. Went to get a pasty but the queue way too long. Had to rush back for second half but went up the wrong set of steps and couldn’t find my seat. Then heard my name being chanted by a few of the lads but still couldn’t work out where they were. Then the whole bloody row joined in waving their arms about calling out Gary, Gary lol. Quite embarrassing. Especially when I got an extra big cheer when I sat down.”

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is your pick for album of the year for 2021? 

MISERY KIDS: The Band Camino (Self Titled)

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: To end, what is next on the horizon for Misery Kids?

MISERY KIDS: We plan to release some more music next year. We are currently in the studio mixing our next single. We are planning to pick up more live dates throughout the year, culminating in our headline tour towards the end of 2022.


You can stream the new Misery Kids single “Turn Off The Lightshere.


PHOEBE BRIDGERS CAPTIVATES CLOSING OUT HER TWO NIGHT GREEK THEATER STINT ON A HIGH


Singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, who sold out both nights at The Greek Theater, even brought along a few special guests. Which included her label signing, Charlie Hickey and guitarist Blake Mills among others.


Indie Folk phenom Phoebe Bridgers closed out the final night of her two sold-out headlining shows last Friday to much acclaim. Bridgers, riding high from Grammy nominations and critical acclaim from her second album “Punisher”. The singer-songwriter brought the “Reunion” tour to L.A. to the delight of fans. Playing through a well fleshed out set of Folk-Pop soundscapes in seventeen songs. She also had a surprise opener in store. None other than The 1975 frontman Matty Healy. He came out to do a intimate acoustic set in support of Phoebe. The best part was their duet. Their voices on that song blended quite exquisitely.

As much as the crowd and I were surprised to see Matty Healy as the opener that night. I might’ve been the only one caught off guard by Phoebe and her band walking out to “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. I later discovered she was referencing a memory from High School. When she made and gave a mixtape to a high school crush. Somehow this song choice just made sense, it was very “Phoebe”. They somehow easily segued into “Motion Sickness”. A track that lyrically is full of anger and sadness among so much else. “Motion Sickness” was also one of the few tracks she performed from her debut record “Stranger in the Alps”. Most of the setlist included songs from her Emo meets Folk-Pop second act, “Punisher”. Songs like the beautifully quirky “Moon Song” or the pensive “Garden Song” rang out like soft lullabies. While the menacing “Punisher” cut through the silence. Bridgers ended on with the amusing sarcasm of her Bo Burnham encore cover of “That Funny Feeling”. Simply letting the music speak for itself that night with exception of a few well placed quips throughout her set. Phoebe led her orchestral leaning band of skulls (still sporting those infamous glow in dark skull onesies I mentioned earlier) in quite the autumnal rallying cry in the canyons. A true storyteller at heart her songs are not party jams (no, “Kyoto” doesn’t count but it’s still a bop”). Yet, the crowd stayed on their feet the entire time enjoying the overall atmosphere. An audience that that was truly happy to sing along to Phoebe that night and to have the hometown bestie back. You can check out my full photo gallery from the show below. To stream “Punisher” go here.



ENGLISH TRIO IN EARNEST DIVE DEEP ON NEW EP “REASONS TO STAY ALIVE”

ENGLISH TRIO IN EARNEST DIVE DEEP ON NEW EP “REASONS TO STAY ALIVE”


In Earnest is an Indie Rock trio hailing from Southend-on-Sea in the United Kingdom. The trio comprised of couple Sarah and Tom, and close friend Toby. If their name sounds fairly familiar on TRB. Then you’re right. I initially highlighted them and their cozy genuine songwriting back in 2020.

In Earnest return with a new EP out now titled, ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’. Truly a rollercoaster of emotions they blend genres like pop, folk, and singer-songwriter. In Earnest delves into topics on personal narratives about mental health & the surrounding dialogue. A dialogue that when asking about their musical influences heavier bands like Linkin Park popped up quite a bit in the discussion. It was also particularly clear how much Linkin Park and their contemporaries’ impact is wide-ranging. As their influence was something to note in the lyrical content on the ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’ EP. Another unique quality of the EP is that each track seamlessly blends into another. They created a piece of music meant to be heard as one. It was something they intentionally set out to create, a pretty bold move and statement in 2021 when music sales are driven by singles. Before the release as I spoke with Sarah and Tom. I learned this EP was a deep dive into the unknown for them in many ways. Originally, planning for a release during a pause in lockdown. The band had scheduled recording time in a studio, and was even looking forward to playing a few gigs. All during what seemed like a hopeful time during the Pandemic. Those plans quickly went askew and they instead hunkered down. Allowing their writing and creative process to simmer down. Through this process born the melancholic short film along with the EP. When asked about the short film, both Sarah and Tom found it a daunting experience. One that they would only take on again with fewer restrictions. Although they did enjoy working with their friend who wound up experimenting with different types of filming setups. One of which including drone usage.

Reasons To Stay Alive’

From the start of this interview, I had planned to end on a note of In Earnest’s . The last time they felt nostalgic, had a dance party, and so on. Yet, the way Sarah perfectly described the EP. How the EP meant for playing on a loop, stuck with me. She described it as coming out of the darkness into light. Quite the journey for someone struggling with their mental health or the current times and pandemic. All the crazy changes upon us and yes the stillness. ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’ leaves us with a fitting hopefulness that things can always be better, even in the darkest of times. That every day is but a 24-hour cycle where you can always start anew.


Stream In Earnest’s ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’ below.


CONCERT REVIEW + PHOTOS: GLASS ANIMALS AT HOLLYWOOD FOREVER


The new(ish) Indie Pop/Rock band are one the industry’s most exciting live music acts


Indie Rock quartet Glass Animals brought their groovy brand of heat to Hollywood Forever on Sunday with the ‘Dreamland’ tour. It’s a funky blend of nostalgic meets vaporwave that permeates the album but the shows as well. The tour featured the Electro Pop newcomer Binki as the opener. He played a short and engaging set closing out with “Heybb!”. A song you’ve most likely heard from its prominence of being in an Apple iPad commercial. While his energy was great, it was clear the crowd was there for Glass Animals (many didn’t arrive until they were on). The Indie Pop foursome comprised of childhood friends Joe Seaward, Ed Irwin-Singer and Drew Macfarlane is anchored by the feverishly bold lead singer, Dave Bayley. All walked out to a stunningly loud crowd full of cheers and energy that was ready to dance. Bayley who held a captive audience all night was also ready to party with us. He hovered somewhere between bewildered and emboldened, in awe of the crowd. Opening up the set with the futuristic lullaby “Dreamland”. Which segued into the tribal drum-heavy dance bop “Life Itself” & the island tinged “Tangerine” to kick off the party. Glass Animals tore through a 17 song setlist with such aplomb. Some of the major set highlights were the tour debut of “Poplar St.”. Where Dave Bayley forgot the lyrics (it had been a while) but powered through like a pro. “Space Ghost Coast to Coast”, which Dave remarked was a bit eerie playing in a cemetery. Their new track “I Don’t Wanna Talk (I Just Wanna Dance)” is truly the ultimate dance party. They closed out their fun albeit spooky two-day residency at Hollywood Forever with a two-song encore. Of which included the bands’ breakout hit “Heatwaves” and the glitch-inspired “Tokyo Drifting”. Overall, Glass Animals displayed exciting musicianship. Their knack for writing super catchy lyrics with dynamic pop hooks, all transferred brilliantly into a live setting. You can check out my photo gallery of the show below.



INTRODUCING… NASHVILLE MUSICIAN EMPTY ISLES

INTRODUCING… NASHVILLE MUSICIAN EMPTY ISLES


The artist dropped a new single “Hard To Cope” out now!


Empty Isles is the musical nom de plume of Nashville-based artist and producer Zach Lardy. His inspirations though are a conflation of many. They include producer BJ Burton who has worked major artists Lizzo and Taylor Swift. To eclectic singer-songwriters like Bon Iver and The Japanese House who idiosyncratic take on songwriting has become their hallmark. It is these artists whose sounds you can hear ever so distinctly on Zach’s new song “Hard To Cope”. The single is out now tackles the often fraught subject of mental health and just how fragile it can be. Zach talks about a time when he was having a hard time coping with the everyday dramas of life. Lardy holds the listener in with simple yet sweet vocal melodies. Such emotion is soft but visible throughout the melancholic synth-pop track. The melancholy most scene on the line with Lardy mentioning himself wearing the same sweater every day as a security blanket. Quirky? Yes! Utterly Specific? No doubt! It’s also a great opener for Lardy’s upcoming fall EP.


Stream Empty IslesHard To Cope” out now here.



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NEW MUSIC FRIDAY: THE BEST MUSIC OF THE WEEK

NEW MUSIC FRIDAY: THE BEST MUSIC OF THE WEEK


It’s New Music Friday! Check out the best in music for this week ending in August 27th…


Here’s to another week of incredible talent and amazing new tunes! Leading off the week is new Mom and Pop chameleon Halsey. Halsey dropped their highly anticipated new album “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power”. An industrial-leaning album that also has features from heavyweights like Dave Grohl. Most notable are the album’s producers, Oscar-winning duo, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. A pair who never produce for other artists, let alone pop stars take a surprising creative turn.. This collaboration despite how incredulous it looks on paper turned into one of the most evocative albums this year. Stream the album here.


Country darling Kacey Musgraves returns with a luscious Country-Pop hybrid titled, “justified”. The track is beautiful slow burn infused with a sweet bass line and gorgeous folk pop melodies. It is one of the first of two offerings from her upcoming September album release. Brit Pop newcomer Griff drops another gem of a track titled, “One Night”. An electric and super catchy dance-pop number. J Balvin brings the heat on “Perra” with Tokischa. The track also brings the announcement of Balvin’s fifth studio album Jose out on September 10th. Norwegian pop singer Sigrid releases her second song of 2021, “Burning Bridges”. A fun power ballad-influenced dance club song sure to get your feel moving. Indie Pop Singer/Producer Mikey Ferrari puts his songwriting skills on display with his latest single “Truth Is”. An intimate confessional about the hardships we can face, and wanting to achieve something. All the rich homey guitars and laidback cool vocals truly make the track. Dirty Hit’s BLACKSTARKIDS drop “FIGHT CLUB” an eclectic and catchy jam that’s full of swagger. It’s another take off the trio’s upcoming debut, “Puppies Forever”.


Now for some dope Indie tracks. We have singles from some groovy pop from Tommy Newport on his song “Bubblegum”. Singer Aleem tells us his “Bad Habits”. While London duo Palmaria dive deep on their song “Ocean”. London Songwriter/Producer T. Evann goes atmospheric on “Falling By The Wayside”. You can check out the songs mentioned in this article on this Apple Music playlist below.


https://music.apple.com/us/playlist/new-music-friday-august-27th/pl.u-jV89oDLtdjyGX02


INTERVIEW WITH… EVERYTHING BUT THE EVERYTHING

INTERVIEW WITH… EVERYTHING BUT THE EVERYTHING


I chatted with Bay area based producer/songwriter Izzy the Gent and musician Tobias Hawkins about Izzy’s new music project Everything But The Everything. Hawkins has a guest feature on one of the tracks titled “Denials”. We dive into the single, the project’s inspiration, the music industry, and more. Check it all out below.


THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Hi, First off… It’s nice to meet you? Thanks for taking the time out. How are you doing?

TOBIAS HAWKINS: I’m good. I’m a little…I wouldn’t say edgy – the feeling is a combination of gratitude and overwhelm. I suppose it’s the result of having so many super rad “irons in the fire”. I have to keep myself humble everyday by deep breathing and morning spiritual inventories, coffee and not taking myself too seriously.

IZZY THE GENT: I’m doing well, thank you for asking. I’m just working away trying to get reacclimated to our ever changing world as life reopens.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can you talk a bit about you got your start in music? Just touch some on your musical background?

IZZY THE GENT: I’ve been a bass player since I was 14 years old and played mostly punk rock. As I got to my early 20’s, I got into house music and traded my bass guitar for a pair of Technic 1200’s. Eventually I made it back to bass guitar and played with several bands (The Sporting Life, The Frail, Fake Your Own Death) in the local San Francisco music scene. During my time as a promoter and musician, I met great people and built some pretty amazing relationships which have become incredibly helpful as I took on the songwriter/producer approach.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is the background story on this new single “Denials”? How was your creative and recording process?

IZZY: Andrew Gomez of NRVS LVRS, whom I’ve known for some time and played music with set the tone for the track with his synth work. I got lucky that the guitar parts I was toying with matched perfectly with Andrew’s contribution. Something dark was clearly brewing and I knew just who to reach out to. I immediately sent the demo to Tobias and he was on board. After Tobias knocked out his vocals, we called the drummer Landon Cisneros for a session and an hour later we were on to the mix.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is a typical recording and creative process like for you?

IZZY: It always starts on bass guitar. If the bassline grooves, then we have some potential. Then it’s on to guitars and synths. Lately, I’ve been reaching out to other musicians by sending out the bassline demo building block, like I did with Andrew to get new ideas injected into the fold. I’ll keep tinkering with the songs, trying out melodies/ideas and simultaneously start thinking of vocalists to reach out to. We handle the recording and mixing with producer Rex Shelverton at his space in San Francisco’s Secret Studios.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: How would you both describe the overall sound you wanted to create going into the EP and the single? Were you able to achieve that sound?

TOBIAS: We both have a beautiful sense of darkness and a strong desire to connect through art and collaboration. More than anything we love to have that soaring melody that haunts and heals with a hypnotic swirling fog machine dance groove. Our influences are very similar and so there wasn’t really a need to discuss, or over analyze the sound. We just clicked immediately – so many smiles and joy is often had between us.

IZZY: The theme is always dark. At some point I imagine we’ll start to brighten things up but dark notes always feel so right. The main difference with the EP vs the single is the range of energy I wanted the EP to showcase. I do have the goal of making every song be able to stand on it’s own, so in essence, every song is a single. As far as sound, I realized recently that I have a tendency to lean to big anthem rock and that seems to get sprinkled over all the music.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What does music and the craft of songwriting mean to you?

IZZY: I enjoy the challenge of hearing a melody, then the quest of searching for the notes. It’s a chase, and when the idea starts to blossom, the notes begin to fall into place. That experience is a high, it’s very addictive. The satisfaction of meeting the objective.

EVERYTHING BUT THE EVERYTHING:

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What does music and the craft of songwriting mean to you?

IZZY: I enjoy the challenge of hearing a melody, then the quest of searching for the notes. It’s a chase, and when the idea starts to blossom, the notes begin to fall into place. That experience is a high, it’s very addictive. The satisfaction of meeting the objective.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: You have been in the music game Tobias for a while now even working as a member of the Counting Crows in their embryonic stages. being How have you seen the music industry changed? How have you adapted over the years to maintain a career and what advice would you give to new musicians today?

TOBIAS: Like all things in life, change brings both good and bad. We all know it’s harder for artists to make money in the industry, but the flip side is that every artist has a platform to directly connect with the audience (minus the need for an executive of a label to give you that platform). So pick your poison.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Who are some of the smallest or mundane things that inspire to you to create and put out music?

IZZY: I just like sitting in my home studio, turning off my mind and playing whatever comes out. It’s therapeutic I guess.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What lyric do you wish you had written?

TOBIAS: When I have that crystalline experience of hearing a lyric that captures my attention and focus my first thought is never, “damn I wish I’d wrote that”. It’s something far more layered and sweet. Kind of like a first kiss that you want to both reflect on and be in again simultaneously. I just know a great lyric when it’s up against the melody doing that sacred dance and pulling out the feeling of a single moment to lift a light on a wholly human experience. We’re all telling our stories and hoping they land. Me too. In other words, “Blitzkrieg Bop“.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is your pick for song of the summer 2021?

IZZY: Oh that’s easy. Amor AmorPieces of Summer” has been on repeat in my Spotify for a minute.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Last moment of gratitude?

IZZY: When I got called back to work after being laid off for eight months.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Last time you felt nostalgic?

IZZY: Every time I ride my bike.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Last time you danced?

IZZY: In my room the other day, probably listening to “Pieces of Summer.” I’m sure my dog thinks I’m nuts.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: To end… is there anything else you would like to add?

IZZY: Thank you for your time and the opportunity.


Stream “Denials” by Everything But The Everything out now.


INTERVIEW WITH… D.C. ALTERNATIVE QUINTET MERCI

INTERVIEW WITH… D.C. ALTERNATIVE QUINTET MERCI


Merci are the D.C based quintet formed in 2018 featuring members Seth Coggeshall [vocals, guitar], Nick Jones [guitar], Colby Witko [vocals, keys], Justin Mason [bass], and Jack Dunigan [drums]. Their sound fuses pop hooks, alternative grooves, and even a bit of psychedelia to create dreamy tunes. The latest ‘City Haircut’ is features a trippy music video and is off their new EP. As they prep for their debut album, I did a quick interview with the band which you can read below.


THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Hey, guys, Thanks for taking the time out! How are you doing? How have you guys gotten on for this past year or so?

MERCI: Thanks for talking with us! We’ve been well, finished up the record and been working hard on music videos!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can you talk about your background as a quintet? How did you guys come together to form Merci and ultimately find such a unique sound?

MERCI: The initial collaboration that lead to Merci started back in 2012 when Nick invited me over to play in a band he was starting. Parallel to that I had been in bands with Jack and Colby throughout high school. Eventually it all coalesced into one band around 2013 with the addition of Justin in 2016.

MERCISubtle Fiction I

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Let’s chat some about your new music. You just dropped your debut EP, “Subtle Fiction I”. How did the writing, creative and recording go for it?

MERCI: It was good and bad all for the same reasons. The pandemic completely halted our recording schedule and extended the recording process from a 6-month timeline into almost 12. It was a blessing in disguise though, it allowed us to really evaluate each song and help elevate them to the point they’reat now.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Having released two singles before “City Haircut”. Which include tracks “Foolish Me” & “Haunt Me”. Can you talk about the bands’ thought process when choosing singles? Also when creating concepts for any music videos? I particularly love the kaleidoscopic artsy visuals for “City Haircut”?

MERCI: We let the record label decide the order in which they wanted to put out the material. We were proud of all the songs and trusted their expertise. I’d say we’re a very visual band, even in the song writing itself we sort of imagine visuals that might accompany a song. A lot of the concepts were very instinctual and usually stem from some movie we really love, or the visual style of a particular director or cultural moment in history. The elevator pitch for City Haircut was “60’s Psychedelic meets Beatnik meets Wes Anderson”.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What was the recording and writing process like for EP? How have you grown or changed in your artistry from when you first started?

MERCI: The recording was slow but it was worth it in my opinion. Our sound has become more and more experimental as the years have passed. That’s mostly due to our growing experience in the studio.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Who are some of your favorite D.C artists? How does the D.C music scene influence your sound and artistry as a band?

MERCI: We owe a lot to Fairweather. Their guitar player Ben Green was one of the main producers on our record and had recorded/produced a lot of our prior indie records.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: I want to ask what does music and the craft of songwriting mean to each of you?

MERCI: Its an opportunity to let hidden parts of yourself speak.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Throwing in some fun ones here… What’s your go-to karaoke track?

MERCI: Zombie – The Cranberries

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What’s the single piece of pop culture that‘s gotten each of you through this entire quarantine?

MERCI: Probably Tiger King, I feel like everyone has some relationship to that show.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What artists have been “On Repeat” for you lately? What music are you playlisting?

MERCI: The new Don Broco singles have been amazing.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is your earliest musical memory?

MERCI: Seeing The Doobie Brothers with my parents.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: To end… What’s next for Merci? Is there anything that I forgot that you would like to add?

MERCI: Keep an eye out for more music!


Subtle Fiction I is out now.



MERCI // SOCIALS:

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INTERVIEW WITH… GLASGOW EXPERIMENTAL ROCK COLLECTIVE UNION OF KNIVES

INTERVIEW WITH… GLASGOW EXPERIMENTAL ROCK COLLECTIVE UNION OF KNIVES


In 2020, the Scottish trio Union Of Knives returned to music after a 14-year hiatus releasing three singles. The band comprising of Chris Gordon, Pete Kelly, & Anthony Thomaz, had not planned to stay away for that long. Although the band had not meant for the hiatus to go that long. Unfortunately, life and all that entails it took the band further away from their music. Ahead of their upcoming album, I chatted with Chris Gordon from Union Of Knives. We talked about the lead single, “There’s A River”, musical influences, and more below.


THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: – Hi, Chris! How are you doing? What’s the past year or so been like for you guys?

UNION OF KNIVES: In some ways, it has not been too unusual for me, I worked away in my studio out the back of my home and although for some months it was not possible to have Anthony or Pete, or anyone else for that matter, round in person I beavered away on many different projects. So many other people in the business of entertainment (or many other businesses) were left in a gaping limbo and I don’t hold my good fortune lightly, the unintended consequences of our response to this thing have troubled me a lot over the past year. Anyway, for Union of Knives, we finished an album and I have been able to make the promo videos, which is something I always wanted to try but never had the time before and we are learning how to manoeuvre in a modern music world which is very different to the one I grew up in.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can you talk about your background and how each got your start in music? How did you guys come together and form the band?

UNION OF KNIVES: I grew up in bands and had the good fortune to sign a record deal in my early twenties with the same friends that I had played my first gigs with in Ayrshire. We toured a lot and released a few records then I started collecting record deals and publishing deals like they were going out of fashion for the next 20 years, hopping from one label to the next with different projects. Union of Knives appeared from some music that Dave Mclean and I worked on in about 2004, it was different tack to the guitar music which I had been working on up to that point and as I grew ever more interested in production and the endless possibilities that were now available, it was a logical step. I met Pete playing in a band called Galchen in about 2005 and was blown away by his drumming and unusual technique, so when we decided to use a live drummer he was the first person I asked. It was heartening to then watch him go on and play with the likes of The Kills and Ladytron. For this latest incarnation of Union of Knives he was way more involved in the creative side than the 2006 and 2008 (unreleased) albums. On a number of the songs his fractured rhythms were the start point of the creative flow. Anthony and I had met working on some of his own music, his easy going attitude belies a lightning speed creativity and as I was starting to think about putting out another album under the Union of Knives banner it was a no brainer to get him involved and see what came. From the first few tracks “There’s a River” and “High on account of 0” I loved what he brought. What really interests me when working with other singers and musicians is when they bring something to the process that I would never have conceived of. Anthony’s delivery drew me right into the songs and our ping pong approach to lyric writing brought some things that surprised us both.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What’s a typical creative process like for you? How has your creative process grown or change over the years being a band?

UNION OF KNIVES: I think it is easier for me to think of Union of Knives as a collective than a rigid band, this way the fluidity of getting other people involved (like Helen Marnie for example) makes sense. Some of the songs would come together like this. I would have a seed of an idea, or more likely about four different seeds, maybe a bar or two of each, not even a harmonic structure. Pete would come in and I would minimally mic the kit up, sit in the room with him with headphones on, let him get his bearings then maybe say the odd word of instruction once he gets going. Then I put it away for a few days and hear it with fresh ears and try and find the bits that make me go huh! I work on something and maybe add in a few sections, Anthony comes round and I as make him 14 coffees I let him listen and make some notes. He records some ideas and we maybe bounce some lyrics around and say yay to this bit nay to that bit, maybe I suggest a melody I thought I heard him half sing. We record, he leaves, and then as with Pete I leave it a few days and then come back and roll my sleeves up. If it is inspiring it will end up as a song we release but sometimes it just gets put in a rainy day file and who knows if that rainy day will ever come.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can you talk about the inspiration behind the single ‘There’s A River’? It’s got such a cool vibe to it. I love it.

UNION OF KNIVES: Thank you kindly. The process here was the most roundabout of any track on the record. The (for me) super interesting improvised female vocals belong to Nikki Kent. We had started working on a track together in about 2013 and I guess this one went to the rainy day pile. On spare days I sometimes flick through such tracks and as I began to work with Anthony I suggested he try something on it. I think this was the first one we worked on and it was a bit like BOOM hehehehe. I sat in front of my speakers during his first take slowly nodding and smiling. Anyway we played around with the lyrics a bit and I think we both had the same kind of dream like imagery in our heads for the refrain, in some ways this is what I was trying to capture with the video

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Which artists had the biggest influence on your musical journey?

UNION OF KNIVES: For this music I am sure you can here the influences of Massive Attack and NIN maybe some pinches of the more fractured Radiohead and Portishead stuff. More broadly and perhaps less obviously Chemical Brothers, Underworld, Daft Punk. As I write them I realise how long ago such acts rose to prominence and yet unlike so much more recent modern music none of them sounds dated. I heard Born Slippythrough a big PA not long ago and it sounds like RIGHT NOW, that is some achievement and I don’t even think you can really shoot for it, it just happens.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: How do you transfer your sound from studio to stage when touring? How is that entire process like?

UNION OF KNIVES: There are two main things to balance, what are the most important parts to faithfully re-create and perhaps even let breathe more in a live context, and what sounds are so tormented by their process that the computers are better to take care of them. We try to keep it simple but I suppose as human beings we always seek further complexity so it is rarely simple.

Chris Gordon of Union Of Knives

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Which artists had the biggest influence on your musical journey?

UNION OF KNIVES: For this music I am sure you can here the influences of Massive Attack and NIN maybe some pinches of the more fractured Radiohead and Portishead stuff. More broadly and perhaps less obviously Chemical Brothers, Underworld, Daft Punk. As I write them I realise how long ago such acts rose to prominence and yet unlike so much more recent modern music none of them sounds dated. I heard Born Slippythrough a big PA not long ago and it sounds like RIGHT NOW, that is some achievement and I don’t even think you can really shoot for it, it just happens.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Switching gears somewhat… I would like to ask a few fun questions. What’s a movie you can watch over and over without ever getting tired of?

UNION OF KNIVES: Back to the Future delivered as a teenager and it’s still holds up now. We even gave my son the middle name Fox after Michael J who seems to be a lovely fellow.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: If you could write a song about any fictional world what world would you choose and why?

UNION OF KNIVES: My son, the aforementioned middle name Fox, is constantly creating his own themed worlds which he discusses at great length with me as we walk the dog. I think it would only be fair, given the amount of headspace he has given to such matters to let him choose his favourite. Though in truth he might not want to have it plagiarised for his Dad’s own devices.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: If you could collaborate with any artist past or present who would you collab with and why?

UNION OF KNIVES: There are countless people with whom it would be tremendous to collaborate, roll on a virtual reality where such things are possible. The first one that comes up today is Nina Simone, WOW.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What’s your early prediction for the song of summer 2021?

UNION OF KNIVES: My only hope is that it is not a revival of “Football’s Coming Home”. Only kidding good luck dear neighbours 😉

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: And to close out, what’s next on the horizon for Union Of Knives?

UNION OF KNIVES: Another track in late July then the album in early September and if things are looking peachy I might even be bold and optimistic enough to book some shows (if not shows in 2022. OMG how did it come to this). Thanks


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Stream “There’s A River” below.


INTERVIEW WITH… FUTURE FOLK BAND GONE GONE BEYOND

INTERVIEW WITH… FUTURE FOLK BAND GONE GONE BEYOND

The Futuristic Folk band Gone Gone Beyond fuses elements and sounds in Folk, New Age, and Electronic to help create their potent and emotive sound. The foursome comprised of David Block, Danny Musengo, Kat Factor, and Mel Semé unveiled their latest body of work yesterday. A glittering body of work featuring broad sonic landscapes meant to capture the listener from the start. I chatted with the band via email on their music, era, influences, and much more. You can read the interview below.


THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can you dive into a bit of your backstory as a band? How did you guys come together and form Gone Gone Beyond?

GONE GONE BEYOND: Originally, everyone was doing music separately with David as The Human Experience. Mel, Danny and Kat were fans of each other, but had never met. That changed one fateful weekend when we all ended up in San Francisco for a show and got to finally play together. It was pretty clear from the moment we started singing that this was the band.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: I love the blending of new-age electronic sounds with the foundations of traditional folk. What’s a normal creative process like for you guys and how has the evolved with each release to your current, 2030?

GONE GONE BEYOND: Most of the songs start on traditional instruments and then electronic production is decided. But that’s not always the case. “Canyons” and “A Better Way To Love” are actually the same song done two separate ways. And we did them at the same time alongside each other.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can you talk more about your latest single, “Canyons” and the inspiration behind it?

GONE GONE BEYOND: It was the first song we wrote when David and Danny moved to Topanga Canyon in California. Covid had just happened and it was just this magically uncertain time. You could really feel the hand of fate on the music. “Canyons” was born out of that vibration.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: You recently held an intimate dinner and garden party titled ‘The Lost Art of Listening’ – Garden Party. How did the event go?

GONE GONE BEYOND: We did them for our last record and they really seemed to make an impact on people. So naturally we wanted to do them for 2030. The garden parties are at the actual cabin in Topanga where we recorded a lot of the record. David still lives there. It really puts the album in perspective when you see the little fairy world we were existing in at the time. A lot of amazing musicians from the area have come by and sat in with us. Every party has been a unique and achingly beautiful experience. We look forward to doing more in July.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is the one piece of practical advice you were given that would give to someone else?

GONE GONE BEYOND: Define your gifts and then refine your gifts. Become obsessed. Lose yourself in it.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Who is your dream musical collaboration and why?

GONE GONE BEYOND: Our music is highly collaborative in nature so the wish list is long. But if we have to put one name out into the universe, let’s say Rick Rubin.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What’s the last piece of pop culture that you indulged in that’s stayed with you?

GONE GONE BEYOND: We really don’t indulge that much pop culture. On the tour bus, it’s mostly mixed martial arts and conspiracy theory videos. Which we probably indulge too much in.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What music has been “On Repeat” for you? What’s on your playlists?

GONE GONE BEYOND: Lots of stuff. We’re loving newer artists like Eloise and Adrienne Lenker. Rye’s new record is great. The Cinematic Orchestra is a staple. Billie Holiday, Bill Withers, Beach Boys and John Denver. The list is endless.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Three words to describe to your upcoming album, 2030:

GONE GONE BEYOND: Beautiful. Expansive. Honest.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Last question! Is there anything I might have missed? Thanks so much for taking the time out! 🙂

GONE GONE BEYOND: Just wanna make sure everyone knows our new record 2030 is out on Friday, June 25th. Give us a follow on Spotify and listen to the record. So thankful for all the support and we can’t wait to see you all in person soon!


Stream the new Gone Gone Beyond album “2030” out now everywhere.


Gone Gone Beyond // Socials:

Website // Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // Spotify // YouTube


INTERVIEW… WITH COUNTRY POP ARTIST QUEEVA

INTERVIEW… WITH COUNTRY POP ARTIST QUEEVA


Chicago born rising Country Pop singer Queeva is quickly becoming quite the name on the Nashville music scene. Taking inspiration from her Irish roots, artistic favourites like Kacey Musgraves and childhood memories to create her unique blend of Gen Z Country Pop. All of it told through a keen sense of storytelling that’s often far beyond her years and highlighting her smoky timbre. Queeva’s latest tunes “Do Better” & “Show You” show her continued growth as an artist. I sat down to chat with her about it in my interview below.


THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Hi, Queeva! Thanks for taking the time! How has this year been so far?

QUEEVA: Hi! This year has been pretty good, I just really miss being on stage. Can’t wait for things to get back to normal 🙂

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can you talk about your background and how you got started in music? Was there an artist that particularly inspired you? Or some catalyst in music?

QUEEVA: Growing up, I always loved country music because my dad was a big fan, so that was what I was surrounded by. I listened to a lot of Dolly Parton when I was younger, and I just fell in love with country music. As I got older, I saw how Taylor Swift was able to inspire so many people, especially young girls. I was interested in learning how to play guitar so that I could write music and share my own messages through songwriting.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Your new single “Do Better” was just released on May 21st with “Show Off” as your current. Both tracks showcase a signature blend of country and pop music. Can you talk about the inspiration behind each track? What was the entire creative process?

QUEEVA: “Do Better” is my current single, and it describes what a perfect relationship would feel like. It is a happy love song that I think people will be able to relate to. I like to write music that I think others will be able to connect to. I remember when we wrote “Do Better” it took some time to finish because I feel like super happy love songs can be difficult to write sometimes. Once we finished writing the song, a few weeks later we recorded it in the studio. “Show Off” is one of my favorite songs that I have written, and it talks about not having to impress someone in order for them to like you. I think especially with teens growing up in today’s world, we can feel pressured to change ourselves in order to fit in. I wanted to capture that in a song, and I wrote it with Trent Tomlinson and Brandon Darcy. That one also took a couple of sessions to finish writing, but as I say, good things take time.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Who are some of your biggest influences as an artist and songwriter?

QUEEVA: I am inspired by so many artists, but some of my biggest influences are Thomas Rhett, Shawn Mendes, and Kacey Musgraves. I really do love the current country/pop artists, so there are many more, but I also do listen to a lot of pop music as well.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What was the last movie, TV show or book that made you cry or tear up?

QUEEVA: When I finished the show Vampire Diaries on Netflix, I cried because the end was not what I wanted it to be. It’s a great show though that I highly recommend!! Wish I could rewatch it again for the first time.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What was it like growing up between two different countries?

QUEEVA: I was born in Chicago and I’ve lived here my whole life, but during the summer, I spent a lot of my time in Ireland. The pandemic cancelled my plans to visit for last year sadly, but I am hopeful to go back there this summer. I loved being able to live in a busy city like Chicago that is super fast paced, but then when I go to Ireland it’s so nice to be in a simple environment where the days feel like they move more slowly. It’s like a little escape from reality that I’m grateful to experience.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What music has been “On Repeat” for you? What’s on your playlists?

QUEEVA: I listen to a lot of Luke Combs, Sam Hunt, Kane Brown, and Maren Morris. To be specific though, Jordan Davis’s song “Lose You” is definitely one that has been on repeat for me.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is coming up next for you, Queeva?

QUEEVA: I’ve been very busy creating and writing new music, which I’m super excited about, and I can’t wait for people to hear what else I’ve been working on. Another single will be coming out soon, so stay tuned for that!!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Is there anything you would like to tell your supporters out there?

QUEEVA: I would like to tell everyone who is a fan and supporter of my work thank you so so much for all the support. I genuinely wouldn’t be able to do what I do if it wasn’t for the fans and encouragement I receive from them, and they will never understand how much they mean to me. I love them. Thanks again <3


To keep up with Queeva, visit here:
Website // Facebook // Instagram //Twitter // YouTube // Spotify // Apple Music


Stream Queeva’sDo Betterhere and “Show Youhere.


HEAR THIS NOW: THE MUSIC SOUNDCHECK EDITION 8

HEAR THIS NOW: THE MUSIC SOUNDCHECK EDITION 8

Welcome to edition 8 the first one of this year.

Here’s some of my favorite tracks from the past few weeks or so that I think everyone should give a listen to. As per usual I hit on a wide variety of genres and I hope you wind up adding at least one or two tracks to your listening rotation. So it’s been a while let’s dive in…


Oscar Lang // ‘Are You Happy?’

The London based artist Oscar Lang is definitely making a name for himself. Lang has his debut album coming out in July off Dirty Hit and his brand of lo-fi Alt-pop tunes have not only gathered him praise, but numerous fans. ‘Are You Happy?’ is the second release from his Dirty Hit debut, ‘Chew The Scenery’ out July 16. A song that’s as full of punk rock flourishes, as it is filled with eclectic dynamics, and indie rock guitar licks. The songs’ attached visuals are utter head trip filled bright psychedelic imagery. To see for yourself view visualizer for ‘Are You Happy?’ below. You can pre-order his debut here.

AFI // ‘Dulceria’

Since their 1991 formation, AFI have undergone many eras over the subsequent years. Now in 2021, AFI has rebirth themselves once more as they prep for the release of their June record “Bodies”. AFI have been dropping various tracks since January. Starting with the dark torrent of emotion from ‘Twisted Tongues’ & the melodic mysterious dream in ‘Escape From L.A.’. In April we got ‘Looking Tragic’ and my uber fave ‘Dulceria’ both revel in hints to our dark times during quarantine and escapism. ‘Dulceria’ though, with its dark and brooding bass line is intoxicating in only a way AFI can yield. All at once feeling very much like AFI and nothing like I’ve heard from them. You can stream my favorite, ‘Dulceria’ here and check out the music video below. As a long time fan, it’s always great to see one of my faves evolve and tackle new themes. You can pre-order ‘Bodieshere.

Grace Aimi // ‘Rainbow’

Gen Z pop newcomer Grace Aimi started out by posting covers on the YouTube with her Brother. Flash forward with a few singles under her belt and her debut EP, ‘PICNIC’ out Friday. Her latest song off the EP, ‘Rainbow’ delivers on a vulnerability far beyond her twenty years. Grace details the struggles and pain of trying to understand and help a loved one who’s emotionally unavailable. She captures the emotion perfectly and the song musically is so infectious.


Olivia Rodrigo // ‘good 4 u’

Where does one super talented eighteen year old go after getting her ‘Drivers License’ and experiencing ‘Deja Vu’? Write the Summer break up anthem we never knew we needed. That’s it. Rodrigo offers up her new latest single, ‘good 4 u’. The third in a trilogy in what seems to about an ex. It’s three parts a clever pop-punk takedown of said ex and one part Olivia’s guide to getting over said ex. The music video inspired by female horror films like Jennifer’s Body. Each track from her forthcoming debut album ‘Sour’ has given us also the third cut with her giving us a drastically sound and vibe with each track release. You can pre-order ‘Sourhere.

Aibai // ‘Aura’

Aibai is a twenty-three-year-old Queer producer based in Minneapolis. Her latest release is a pair of lush electronic singles, ‘Aura’ and ‘All Night’. Each single details love in the LGTBQ space with ‘Aura’ representing a crush, and ‘All Night’ a breakup. ‘Aura’ is the standout, featuring vocals from Colby Hansen. It is sonically gorgeous and dreamy ambient pop number delivering major meet cute vibes lyrically.

MARINA // ‘Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land’

Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land’ is the third bewitching taste from Marina’s new era and upcoming June album of the same name. An immediate bop the single gives us more mystical witchy goodness dressed up in pop goddess glam. Lyrically though, as with any Marina track, you must look beyond the surface. She stays dropping heavy af truth bombs as we all dance along.

Harry Hudson (featuring Jaden Smith) // ‘Just Slide’

The ever evolving artist Harry Hudson has a new single out and just in time for Summer. ‘Just Slide’ finds the singer teaming up with friend Jaden Smith on this easy breezy melodic R&B tinged Pop bop. Lyrically, ‘Just Slide’ talks of a tug of war within a relationship. The music video is super chill, and features both Harry and Jaden in hills over looking Los Angeles, which you can view below.

You can also learn more about Harry Hudson’s work as an activist in an interview with Justin Bieber here.

Kate Nash // Misery

The British Indie Pop queen of ‘Misery’ drops her first release in over a year. ‘Misery’ is offbeat, eclectic, and delightfully creative and catchy. It is also peak Nash as she reflects on her difficult time and depression she had during quarantine in the past year or so. To learn more about Kate’s “Safely out of the Bedroom” tour go here or her Patreon click here.

NO1KNOWS + KVNE // ‘Time Of Death’

In a time where unique collaborations are thriving. This fast paced melodic EDM jam bring together the best of two different worlds for new song ‘Time Of Death’. Super catchy from the start. Both come from different music worlds,with NO1KNOWS background being in dance/DJ, while KVNE’s is in Pop/R&B. Together they created festival ready track.


Here is the new playlist for this series on Spotify and now Apple Music.

Thanks for checking out edition 8 be on the lookout 👀 for edition 9!

Until then,

Brittney x

GET TO KNOW: ABENA ADU FOUNDER OF WITHOUT FURTHER ADU AND INDUSTRY CREATIVE

GET TO KNOW: ABENA ADU FOUNDER OF WITHOUT FURTHER ADU AND INDUSTRY CREATIVE


Abena Adu is a modern-day jill of all trade making a name for herself within this often tough to succeed industry. Adu turned her love affair with music into a successful and multi-faceted career. Which includes artist management, her blog, “Without Further Adu”, working at Spotify, and stints in streaming and A&R. Learn more about Abena below.


Hi, Abena! Thanks again for connecting. First off, Can you introduce yourself and talk about your background a bit? You have an interesting story in the music industry as a jill-of-all-trades.

ABENA ADU: Hi Brittney! Thank you for having me. Ok so, my name is Abena and I am currently an Artist Manager and Blogger based in London. I also have a background in Streaming and A&R. My journey in the music began when I was really young; I loved buying CDs, reading the liner notes and generally learning about things behind the scenes in music.

(cont.) Then when I got into my teens, I started blogging about music on various different sites like Tumblr and WordPress. But in 2015, once I finished my first degree, I decided I wanted a fresh start so bought a Squarespace domain and launched WithoutFurtherAdu (WFA for short) in April 2016. The goal behind the site has always been to tell long-form artist stories as I felt artists at true grassroots levels weren’t getting to tell in-depth stories about themselves.

(cont.) In terms of my career, that began in 2019 when I decided to go back to University to do my Masters in Music Business Management. I also applied for several internships and have worked at Spotify, WARP Publishing and Q&A / Human Re Sources (who have split now but when I worked with them, were one company). I’ve had a great experience at all these places and they’ve really helped shape my view of the industry from both the artist side and the streaming side.

I have been asking this question often in this series, Why do you love music?

ABENA ADU: Ooooh, that is a good question. I love music because it’s one thing in life which brings me pure joy — when I listen to music or discover a new artist or see someone live, it’s a feeling which is unmatched. Music is also a massive part of all of our lives so to get to work in an area I really enjoy, is truly a blessing.

I love your blog “Without Further Adu”. First off, How did your blog come to fruition and how did come with that title? 

ABENA ADU: As I mentioned before, WFA was born out of me wanting to tell artist stories. I always had one rule in that I only do interviews (I don’t do music reviews) and I only feature artists I really like. I was inspired in the early 2010s by content I read on The Fader and Pigeons and Planes as I felt at that time, they really were focused on sharing music from great artists on the come up.

(cont.) And haha, the name comes from my last name which is “Adu”. And is a play on words of the saying “Without Further Ado”.

What has this past year been like for you? How have navigated the COVID-19 crisis and lockdowns as a creative? 

ABENA ADU: To be honest, I’m very grateful that no one I know personally was seriously impacted by Covid in terms of getting sick.

(cont.) But when the first lockdown hit in the UK, I was still at University doing my MA so switching to online learning was weird. Also, trying to focus on assignments and my thesis while the world was literally falling apart was difficult but I just pushed through and made it out the other side.

What advice would you give to young creatives who want to work in this industry particularly creatives of color? 

ABENA ADU: I would definitely say if you say you’re passionate about music, then you have to show that. My way of doing that was starting a blog where I discovered and spoke about new artists I came across. I would definitely also say to build your network and more importantly keep in touch with people in that network.

(cont.) For example, I initially wanted to get into the industry to do A&R, so if I came across someone who did that job, I would send them new music every now and then so that I was front of mind for any opportunities; things may not happen the way you want, straight away but if you keep at it, the opportunities will come.

I’m also very lucky that I have a couple of Black Women I look up to in the industry who have become my friends and we really support each other. So I would definitely recommend reaching out to people who you can build a genuine friendship with.

What does the future of music look like to you post COVID-19? 

Tough Question! I definitely think that more artists will become self-reliant in terms of having their own set-up at home to make music. Covid and lockdown has probably forced people to learn skills they never had before i.e. production so that they could still make music.

I also see a lot of remote sessions continuing, so instead of travelling halfway across the world to work with someone, (especially for smaller artists), they could do so via video. Although this does obviously take away the more personal touch of being in a studio with other artists.

In terms of live music, I haven’t got a clue!

What has been one of the most rewarding experiences of your career so far?

I would say when I worked at Spotify (I was an Intern and then went on to work part-time while I was at Uni). We were working on a live event at the end of 2019 called Who We Be Live (based on a playlist of the same name),  and although it was a lot of stress, it was great to see so many people come to the show and enjoy all the artists on stage. We had Doja Cat before ‘Say So’ became a massive hit and Pop Smoke performed as well before he tragically passed; so it was really amazing to be a part of something like that. 

What has been the single piece of pop culture that has kept you sane during quarantine?

Honestly for me, and I think a lot of people would agree, Chloe x Halle owned every Quarantine performance they did last year. Those two are an absolute force to be reckoned with and even though they couldn’t do live shows, they brought their album to life with so many creative live moments and honestly they were part of my highlight of 2020 in terms of music.

And… the last question, Is there anything that I might have missed?

ABENA ADU: I think you’ve done a great job at asking me some really thought provoking questions so thank you for this! I will just say that, to anyone looking to get into the music industry, it can be very disheartening at first to not get roles you apply for, so if anyone would like some advice, I’d be happy to give it!


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INTERVIEW WITH… JANUARY JANE

INTERVIEW WITH… JANUARY JANE


NYC based Alt-pop trio January Jane are signed to legendary musicologist and KLOS DJ Matt Pinfield’s Whiskey Vinyl label and BMG. The trio have been preparing for their forthcoming Summer EP release and have just unveiled the music video for their Quantum Physics themed single “Versions Of You”. I chatted with two members of January Jane about their upcoming EP, musical background, and of course, Matt Pinfield signing them. You can read the interview with Pat and Mitch below.


THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Hi, guys! To begin, My first question is how has quarantine life been for you as guys? How have you had to adjust creatively?

PAT OF JANUARY JANE: It’s our pleasure to be speaking with you and thanks for checking in! We know how crazy this whole pandemic has been and we hope that everyone else is doing well. Our hearts go out to anyone that’s had a tough time. So far we’re doing well and the creative juices are flowing.

MITCH OF JANUARY JANE: Amen! We’ve been creating non-stop! As soon as SXSW was cancelled last year (glad we bought refundable tickets haha), we decided it was the right time to double down and work even harder…and a few months later we signed with BMG.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: So you originally started as just two of you, Mitchell and Pat. How did Peter come on board to where you guys became January Jane?

PAT OF JANUARY JANE: Well Mitch and I met at a gallery opening in SOHO and later, we were introduced to Peter in the Meatpacking District. So there’s no question New York City brought us all together. I would say it was fate.

MITCH OF JANUARY JANE: We met up after the art gallery a couple of days later and wrote our first song in 10 minutes. Later on that evening, we performed that song for some new found friends while out late night in Greenwich Village, and one of them decided it was imperative we drop everything (except the guitar) and brought us to a private loft party where we were introduced to Peter. The rest is history!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Tell me more about how connected with the legendary musicologist Matt Pinfield? And how you ended up signed to his label?

PAT: He came to see us play at a converted adult theater in Times Square (emphasize “converted” haha). After the show we started chatting about music and before we knew it we were back at Mitch’s apartment going through demos, talking about our influences. Matt is a music encyclopedia so the stories he has are epic and we all got along so well talking shop.

MITCH: Matt is our brother! We’ve always had the modus operandi to saying “yes” to every show opportunity which included converted adult theaters. Thank God we did because we instantly hit it off with Matt… and having him on this ride with us has been an amazing thing!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Let’s talk about your new single “Versions Of You”? There’s an interesting story behind it I hear?

PAT: Lyrically the song started when I saw a model on the train looking at her portfolio and seeing how unhappy she was. It sparked a lot of questions about the different versions we see of ourselves and how we see each other. It also reflects how we are affected in our relationships. The music has spanned a few years with the recording starting in Manhattan where I laid down bass/drums and some chords, then Mitch laid down the guitar and Peter with the keys. Then we opened the song back up in 2021 after Matt and BMG wanted to make it a single and we finished it in Brooklyn. So even the recording was a story in itself.

MITCH: Ironically, while it took years to complete, “Versions of You” flowed very naturally from the beginning. There are a lot of one-takes on the final recording of that song that we kept from the original demo we did in 2017, like the guitar solo, lyrics, and a bunch of the core elements. When it feels right it usually is right. We had the unique luxury of coming back to this song with fresh ears in 2021 and buttoning everything up before the release.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: I also read that Matt was instrumental in picking ‘Version Of You’ as your first single. Could you talk about this more? Did you have any other songs in mind?

MITCH: Imagine being at a table with all your favorite foods. What do you eat first? Luckily, for us, the myth, the legend, the voice, Matt Pinfield, selected “Versions Of You” for our first tasting. Matt has been with us from the very beginning, and we’ve been blessed to have spent enough time with him to know that he knows what’s up… and “Version Of You” is scrumptious and delicious… Bon Appetit!

PAT: We felt like the imagery of a searching for a different moment of time with each other and ourselves reflected today, and Matt was on the same page. Can’t argue with a legend!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: You also have a new EP titled, ‘Your Drug’ due out this Summer. How was the recording and writing process like? What can listeners and fans expect to hear?

PAT: Well as we said, the recording process spanned different times and time zones, so it was quite the experience. Listeners can expect to hear a late night party in New York City – Champagne, Grey’s Papaya and all!

MITCH: All the fun of a late night in New York City with none of the hangover!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What do you hope is the overall takeaway listeners experience from your music? Besides Quantum physics?

PAT: In the midst of all the tough times we’ve been through, the party is coming back, let’s all be there.

MITCH: Ultimately, we’re doing our small part to spread a little excitement and joy around the world… if we can also help promote Quantum Physics, then even better! Lol We really put a lot of love into this EP, so if you like love, you’ll probably enjoy this, as well.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Switching gears… What is everyone’s go-to karaoke song?

MITCH: George Michael’s “Father Figure”

PAT: Rihanna – “Stay” – I like to throw a more rock version of it together to surprise people.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Seeing as you guys did a cool cover of an iconic 80s Hall & Oates classic? What 90s classic jam would you give the January Jane treatment to?

MITCH: Oh wow, where to begin! So many choices, so little time! Funny enough we actually just completed 3 INXS covers.

PAT: BMG asked us to look through their catalog of artists and INXS is one of our favorites bands. So we jumped on the opportunity – hopefully you’ll hear one of those covers on your favorite new show or movie soon! We’ve always wanted to Jesus Jones – Right Here Right Now (and Van Halen’s while we’re at it 🙂

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: To end… Is there anything else you guys would like to add? Thanks for taking the time out!

PAT & MITCH: Have a great day, but have an even better day with a little JJ in your life!


Pre-order January Jane‘s – Your Drug EP here.

FOLLOW JANUARY JANE:

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So, we have more on January Jane later this week, as I chat with Matt Pinfield himself about the band in part two. So stay tuned!


WATCH NOW: VEVO X EASY LIFE LIVE PERFORMANCE VIDEOS

WATCH NOW: VEVO X EASY LIFE LIVE PERFORMANCE VIDEOS


English Alternative R&B band Easy Life have premiered two new live performance videos of “Skeletons” and “Daydreams” for VEVO music. The live performance sessions are the first time Easy Life teaming up with VEVO since selected as an Artist To Watch in 2019. Easy Life’s unique musicality and almost effortless approach to their music are spotlit in both performances. You can hear more of the band very soon including tracks “Skeletons” and “Daydreams” as the band’s upcoming debut album, “Life’s A Beach” is out soon. The album for a June 4th release on Island Records. Check out both videos below and learn more about the band Easy Life as well.


WATCH – “Skeletons


WATCHDaydreams


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THOUGHTS FROM A FIRST TIME OSCARS® PRESS POOL MEMBER

THOUGHTS FROM A FIRST TIME OSCARS® PRESS POOL MEMBER


For the first time, my publication The Reclusive Blogger had been credentialed to cover the awards ceremony. Although the press pool was at home covering virtually, due to the unprecedented year because of the pandemic. All of us that were in The Academy’s virtual media center arrived in style and were very eager to cover the ceremony, hoping to get a chance to chat with the winners immediately after they’ve won. And like aways I had prepped and researched (maybe to a fault) on every single person nominated.


Although, unfortunately, I’d set out to write a different article as you can tell from the pre-written paragraph. I am now writing about my thoughts and feelings from my first experience. So I hope you the reader will enjoy this instead! I’ve a screenshot of my prepped notes and questions for pretty much any winning eventuality. I was prepped and prepared but I didn’t get to ask anything. So, alas, that is the life of a press pool reporter! Anyway, Let’s dive in…


The ‘always over-prepared rather than’ Reclusive Blogger

All in all, the immersive event The Academy put together stayed within the same vein as the normal interview room. Each journalist vying for that pivotal chance to ask a question of every OSCARS® winner that makes it backstage. In-person each journalist is assigned a number there’s a freshness, a buzz, and it’s alive. There’s something that unfortunately being in this digital Zoom version lacked. While as exciting as it was, particularly as a newbie journalist to even be credentialed, let alone to be in a room with so many major journalists from all over the world. That shine quickly faded once I realized that I wasn’t getting a chance to ask a question. Yes, I made it through the entire telecast happy to those who did and extremely happy for those who won an OSCARS® because that’s what it was truly about. Yet, I couldn’t help leaving the Virtual Media Center feeling like the kid that was never going to get called on no matter how many times I used the raised hand feature. I’m pretty sure others felt like that as well. Still, as I am with any fantastic opportunity I am extremely grateful and hope to return next year where I can fully experience the OSCARS® as media, be it on the red carpet or in the interview room. Thanks again to The Academy and below are some of my favorite anecdotes from last night’s show.


So as I said prior it was great seeing how it all went down and want to put some of my favorite moments below. The first moment being from one of my favorite musicians ever. Trent Reznor aka Nine Inch Nails stepped into the virtual “backstage” along with frequent collaborator, Atticus Ross & co-winner Jon Batiste. The team won for Original Score for the Pixar movie “Soul”. They then took a few questions from the press pool. You can catch a short clip below where there’s even a bit of Batiste singing.


“Clip Courtesy A.M.P.A.S.© 2021”

Another great moment from last night was when the heavily pregnant and most likely super tired Emerald Fennell stopped by. It was fantastic to see her nab the win for Original Screenplay and see her so super buoyant about her win. So to share in that small moment of joy with her was definitely a highlight. You can check out the small clip below.


“Clip Courtesy A.M.P.A.S.© 2021”

Although I was truly gunning to get in a question with him. I knew it was dang near impossible, so once again I was happy to see and share in the moment of Daniel’s win. Judas And The Black Messiah was my favorite movie this awards season (I got a screener of it earlier this year). You can see a clip from Daniel Kaluuya’s backstage interview with reporters below minus the controversy, but if unfamiliar you can read about it here.


“Clip Courtesy A.M.P.A.S.© 2021”

And, my last favorite moment was this specific quote from backstage from Best Supporting Actress winner, Yuh-Jung Youn was asked by a reporter about Brad Pitt and how he smells she answered quite matter of factly with “I didn’t smell him. I’m not a dog. I didn’t smell him. No.” Although hilarious, I truly hope this implores us journalists to ask better questions.


Also, please stay tuned for my recap of my favorite fashions from OSCARS® night which I’ll post tomorrow! 🙏🏾💕


INTERVIEW WITH… BRIT FOLK POP UPSTART ALICE PISANO

INTERVIEW WITH… BRIT FOLK POP UPSTART ALICE PISANO


Alice Pisano is an Italian-born and British-bred Folk-Pop artist. The rising singer crafts emotive and intimate tunes that have ostensibly connected her to a wider audience gaining fans amongst the major Spotify streams, and support from BBC Introducing. Her new single ‘Seventeen’ channels that same emotional intimacy but has an enchanting quality as well. I chatted with Alice about the new single and her musical journey.


THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Hi, Alice, First off… It’s nice to meet you and thanks for taking the time out. How are you doing? How has your new year been so far?

ALICE PISANO: Hey nice to meet you too 🙂 the last few months in lockdown have been up and down for me. As a musician I feel privileged to be able to continue doing what I love, writing songs, and that’s what I’ve been focusing on. But there are also days when I feel low, and not productive at all… when that happens, I try to be kind to myself. Taking some time off and going for walks in the nature always helps me.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: So you have a new single that’s coming out in a few days titled ‘Seventeen’. Can you talk about the inspiration behind the track? I did read that single was inspired by feelings that had while staying at your childhood home during lockdown. Could you elaborate some on that? It’s a beautiful track btw.

ALICE PISANO: Thank you 🙂 I wrote the music first, while I was at my flat in London. The lyrics kept eluding me until a couple of months later, when I was staying at my parents’ house for a while during lockdown. Being in my old room brought back to life so many memories and buried feelings… re-reading all my high school diaries and going through old photos, I found myself reliving the power of my first love. The butterflies in your stomach, the force of that first feeling.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: ‘Seventeen’ was produced by Troy Miller who produced for artists for artists like Emeli Sandi & Jamie Cullum. What was it like working with Troy? How do you think he helped you craft the sound you wanted on ‘Seventeen’?

ALICE PISANO: I had already worked with Troy on my previous single ‘Tears Will Set You Free’ and he is amazing. He captured the mood and emotion of this song perfectly… I initially thought it should be a piano song but he felt quite strongly that I should play it on guitar, and as soon as he started adding production to it I knew it was perfect.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can you talk some on your background and how you started in music? Was there an artist that particularly inspired you to go down this path?

ALICE PISANO: I think music has always been in my blood and I’ve been drawn to it ever since I was very little. My parents have always listened to a lot of music around the house, and I grew up listening to Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Fleetwood Mac. My first approach to studying music was classical piano when I was seven, and singing lessons a few years later. In my teens, I picked up the guitar and started singing in various bands. But it wasn’t until I was 18 that I started writing songs. Artists like Gabrielle Aplin, Passenger and Mumford Sons were my first songwriting inspirations… but I have always listened to a lot of different music, from indie to rock, electro pop and folk.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What lyric have you’ve written do you feel most emotionally connected to in your life currently?

ALICE PISANO: “You’re not longing for the burning sun, till you’re standing in the pouring rain” from Seventeen. Sometimes you really don’t realise how precious something was until you have lost it.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is the one piece of pop culture that has kept you sane during quarantine?

ALICE PISANO: I’m currently addicted to ‘Pontiac’ by Mat Kearney… I’m obsessed, I’ve probably listened to it a hundred times at least!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: To end… is there anything else you would like to add, Alice?

ALICE PISANO: Thank you for having me and thanks to anyone who is reading this now. I hope Seventeen makes you feel something 🙂


You can stream Alice Pisano’s “Seventeenhere.



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GET TO KNOW: MICHELLE SHIERS, A FREELANCE MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHER & THE GREEK THEATER’S HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER.

GET TO KNOW: MICHELLE SHIERS, A FREELANCE MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHER & THE GREEK THEATER’S HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER.

The third creative we are spotlighting is one I have had the chance to share the photo pit with. Her name is Michelle Shiers and she has photographed some of the biggest names in music. If you have ever been to a show at The Greek Theatre in L.A. or follow their Instagram. Then you’ve already seen her in action or hit like on her work.


THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: First question is why do you love music?

MICHELLE SHIERS: Music has always had a special way of making me feel singular and also part of a group at the same time. It’s probably the closest I get to feeling some type of religion. It gives me something to look forward to and something new to discover and songs to enjoy as much as I want. It allows for such an individual experience of listening to a song over and over and feeling like it was directed right at you. AND, it also allows for you to join in a big crowd of people who all share your fandom like your part of something bigger. I’ve always loved how music has sound-tracked my life and worked as a time machine, bringing me back to flashbulb memories and bygone feelings.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can you tell us your backstory and how you got your start with photography?

MICHELLE SHIERS: I got started doing music photography as a hobby. I always enjoyed taking photos of my friends and when I started going to concerts as a teen, I would cut a hole in the lining of my purse and drop a small camera in there to sneak in past security. I always wanted my shots of gigs, but I never considered photography in any professional or artistic sense or even thought I had any talent to go for it. Once I moved up to LA, my now-husband would sometimes have me take photos of his band, live or in-studio. This was so entertaining for me that I commandeered his camera and started taking photos of anything (mostly my dog). It soon blossomed into a full-fledged passion that settled as though it was there all along. I suppose it was! Eventually, a friend of mine strongly encouraged me to start a blog, after which I realized shooting musicians was what I sought most, so I focused on that. I never expected anything to come of it, but the more I photographed, the more opportunities I drew in to shoot shows, which eventually turned into bigger opportunities. I got to shoot for Buzzbands LA for quite a while which exposed me to so many great artists and helped me get noticed by venues and bands who needed a photographer. Now I can’t look back.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: How did you end up working as house photographer at The Greek Theater and at Spaceland LA events? What has been the most rewarding aspects of both jobs?

MICHELLE SHIERS: Both of these just feel like dumb luck. I think Kevin Bronson of Buzzbands recommended me for Spaceland after I helped them out with some picture usage when they were down a photographer. I was surprised to hear he did that but I never thought they’d need me. At the time, they already had a house shooter but I think they ended up needing a second person on occasion. With his recommendation, I was so grateful that they thought of me when they went to hire someone else. That was incredible and I’ve done a lot of photography for them at The Echo, The Echoplex, the Regent Theatre and a few others. So many cool shows happen in that indie scene around LA as it’s such a rich atmosphere. The Greek was also just luck. I shot there a few times and when I noticed the Greek Instagram liked a couple of my posts, I just let them know that I loved their venue and if they ever needed a house photographer, I would be there with bells on. Eventually, as a new season approached, they did need to hire a house photographer and I am so thankful they invited me!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is a typical day like for you as the house photographer at The Greek?

MICHELLE SHIERS: The Greek is a fantastic venue to work for and I look forward to going there every time I’m scheduled. Typically, I can arrive an hour or so before the show begins. I go in the office and organize my gear and then I walk around the grounds to see if there are any fun photos of excited patrons I can take or any set ups with vendors or radio stations. I then meet in a spot with all the other photographers to be ushered into the barricade, or if we are shooting from the soundboard, I just pick a spot up there a few minutes before it begins. Then, I do my shooting for the first three songs and retreat back into the office to edit some of the best ones for the Greek to post on social media that night. I do the same thing for the headliner and then I pop out again to get wider shots of the whole venue from a few different corners and elevations. This is pretty good cardio, too. Then, I enjoy the rest of the show if I want to! It’s a very rewarding job and I am so grateful to have been asked back for 3 seasons. Hopefully a 4th once live music is safe again!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What advice would you give to young creatives wanting to work in concert photography?

MICHELLE SHIERS: I would tell them to practice a lot! Practice on their friends’ bands, practice in small venues that allow cameras and practice in very dimly lit situations. Once they feel comfortable, I recommend just reaching out to some smaller local publications. It’s easier for established publications to get press-passes to shows, and some of them may be looking for an eager photographer. There’s a lot of unpaid portfolio-building in the beginning, but it’s still very rewarding as you meet people, build relationships, and learn so much on the way. It’s a challenging industry especially in this age when everyone has a camera in their pocket, or where publications are struggling to compensate writers and photographers. But, if you keep your head down and do your best while supporting your peers (of which you’ll have many after shooting elbow to elbow in the photo trenches) you’ll gain more opportunities than you expected!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: You also photograph musicians during sessions and portraits. What’s biggest difference between this and concert work? What advice do you have for photographers wanting to branch off into this?

MICHELLE SHIERS: The biggest differences here are control and intimacy, I think. In concert photography, you have no control over what the artist will do, what the lighting will be like, or how long you have to photograph. You’re also sometimes one of many shooters in there scrambling for a spot. Some photographers thrive on the suspense, unpredictability, and rush. It’s exciting nearly every time! Some people prefer much more control over their subject, the lighting, and their vantage point. So those are photographers that thrive more in portraiture, I believe. I love studio photography because that’s a much more delicate dance of sitting back (or sometimes hiding in a corner) and capturing the artist concentrated at work as unobtrusively as possible. If you’re in a studio with your friends and you can be more present and vocal, it’s really fun. You truly feel a part of their recording process. If you’re with musicians who don’t know you or feel vulnerable in front of a camera, it’s best to be as quiet as a fly on the wall. That intimacy will come through in the photos.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Let’s talk gear! What gear do you use?

MICHELLE SHIERS: I use a Canon 5D Mark IV, a 24-70 2.8, a 70-200 2.8, my favorite 50mm 1.2 (for those poorly-lit venues and vibey studios) and I more recently got a Sigma 35mm 1.4 as well. Oh! And I have a 15mm fisheye 2.8 which comes out sometimes. At the Greek, I’ve used a couple of Canon extenders for my 70-200 when I have to shoot from front of house. They aren’t ideal (not as ideal as 400mm prime!) but they get the job done. I’ve used this gear for a long time and it seems to have worked well! I’m rarely asking others what they use so I’m not sure how my gear measures up to other concert photographers, but I think I’ve got a system and variety that works for me! I also proudly use the THINK TANK lens belt/pouch system most of the time which has made a huge difference. I love it because not only does it save me from incessant shoulder pain, but it’s the ultimate embodiment of my affinity for fanny packs.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: How are you staying inspired as creative during quarantine? Or are you just not worrying about that as much?

MICHELLE SHIERS: Oh man. Not only am I not really staying creative, but I AM worried about that fact a lot. I wish I could say that I found the impetus to stay creative or that I created projects to keep myself inspired. Sadly, for the most part covid has left me with some awful demotivation and depression. I know it has affected a lot of artists in the same way. I try not to put pressure on myself to stay creative in a state of loneliness, but then I scold myself for not pushing harder to get out of the rut.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What are the top five shows you’ve shot that you’ve felt the most proud of?

MICHELLE SHIERS: Ahhh! This will be tough to narrow down. I am incredibly proud of shooting Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the Fillmore. They have been a favorite band of mine since I was 16 and getting to hop on the bus and join them for a few dates was a bucket-lister for sure. I was proud of the shots I took of Thom Yorke at the Greek and the one and only time I got to shoot Radiohead at the Shrine. They are my all-time favorites so I was really proud to have gotten to that point. I’m proud of shooting Arctic Monkeys at the Hollywood Bowl because that’s not a venue I get to be at too often. I’m also very proud of photos I’ve taken of Elbow (for Elbow!) at the Wiltern. Their music has brought a lot of profound “feels” to my life so I was thrilled to be able to give something back. I think most of my “pride” comes from the opportunity to photograph artists I’ve revered for so long.

(cont.) I’m also really proud of some crowd shots I’ve taken of Royal Blood and some energetic shots of the Hives. I’m proud of making it through shooting two CalJam festivals because that is exhausting work that I’m not quite designed for!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Who were some of the people that championed you in your early days?

MICHELLE SHIERS: My friend Lisa Best was the first champion who made me start the blog! She is an incredible writer/comic in LA and remains one of my greatest supporters. Veteran music video director Paul Boyd along with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics we’re also incredibly encouraging and were it not for them, I wouldn’t have quit my day job to pursue photography. Kevin Bronson of Buzzbands LA was of course very supportive and recommended me for countless opportunities. Leah Shapiro, the drummer for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, has been a wonderful friend and advocate for my work especially and especially as a woman in a male-centric industry. My husband has been very supportive as my career gives him plenty of nights alone to rewatch The Wire. I could keep going because I’ve been truly fortunate to have had a myriad of encouraging friends, peers, and enthusiasts of my photos. It’s hard to believe it most of the time.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: I also wanted to touch on a personal project you did during quarantine “Portraits of L.A. Musicians in Quarantine”. How did that come to fruition?

MICHELLE SHIERS: That was just an idea I had after weeks of feeling terribly idle. Looking back, if I had known the pandemic was going to last this long, I’d have worked on that project more slowly. But at the time, I wanted to create a snapshot of what people were going through at the height of our what-the-hell-is-going-on-ness. I had planned on photographing more artists over a couple of weeks, but after I did the first set, the pandemic got worse and it seemed like staying at home entirely was most responsible. I did have a wonderful collection of portraits of friends who allowed me to capture their quarantine selves, so I reached out to see if Ladygunn was interested in sharing the series. I’m glad they did and that others got to see the photos and read the blurbs each artist took time to write.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: How do you see our industry coming back from COVID-19 and the pandemic?

MICHELLE SHIERS: I’m really unsure about this but I think the industry will slowly inch it’s way back to where it was before, as soon as it safely can, and may even come back with a bang as people have been so starved for live music. I know the touring industry really had the rug pulled out from under it – especially as it seems that music will be one of the last events to resume. However, I’m quietly hopeful that when it does people will have a hugely recharged appreciation for live music. The last time this happened the world created Jazz… maybe a new roaring 20s is around the corner.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What music has kept you sane during quarantine?

MICHELLE SHIERS: No music has managed to keep me sane! haha. But, I’ve been listening to a lot of my friend Lauren Ruth Ward’s second album as we were supposed to tour that record and couldn’t. That disc lives in my car. I listen to a lot of blues when I’m home alone- Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Albert King… really love that sound. I actually asked people for recommendations of their favorite albums of all time on Instagram so I could listen to new stuff while going for walks and the scope was pretty great. From Creedence to Kanye, Nirvana to Nas, Dylan to Deftones, Sinatra to Selena, I had quite a soundtrack.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Is there anything else you would like to add?

MICHELLE SHIERS: Yes… My ACTUAL secret “album that keeps me sane” is Harvey Danger’s “King James Version”.


You can check out more of Michelle’s photography here. You can also follow her on Instagram here. You can also view her concert photography on The Greek’s Instagram here.


Next week we meet Nashville based music and lifestyle photographer Devyn Vaughn.


If you would like to be apart of this series you can contact me here and learn more here.


GET TO KNOW: PRESSED PR FOUNDER DAWN JONES

GET TO KNOW: PRESSED PR FOUNDER DAWN JONES

Welcome to the first interview of the new series. The series will focus on the many voices in the music industry. Today’s conversation is with Dawn Jones. Dawn founded Pressed PR in 2017 as a passion project it has since grown into much more. A musician herself we dig into the state of the industry, and any advice she would give to aspiring PR professionals. Read on below.


THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Hi, Dawn! Thanks so much for connecting. To start, how have you been doing? How has the new year been treating you so far?

DAWN JONES: So far so good this year, thanks for asking! Since the onset of the pandemic I’ve really been taking time to slow down and be more intentional about my time and that has been a much-needed “reset” for me as we’ve come into the new year.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: You founded Pressed PR a boutique agency that specializes in storytelling for independent creatives throughout the entertainment industry. How did you make the transition from what Pressed PR began as a music PR agency to what it is now? What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start a PR agency? Or even work at one?

DAWN JONES: Wow, it’s been such a long journey already but a really rewarding one too. I started with only a few clients – who were actually mostly friends in the music industry. My business has grown primarily due to word of mouth… as I’ve worked with more and more people, they’ve told their peers, and so on. Now we are working with independent artists, labels, several major artists who have a huge presence in the entertainment industry, as well as filmmakers, actors, and creative businesses that merge music and tech industries. It’s crazy how much growth we’ve seen in the past 4 years.

(cont): My advice would be to just start. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Start working and hustle hard and don’t give up until you get on the path you want to be on. You will hear a lot of “no’s” (trust me) but if you keep working at it and keep chasing after the path you want to be on eventually you will get there…. you just can’t be afraid to take the leap into the unknown.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What has been one of your most rewarding experiences being an entrepreneur? What has been the hardest?

DAWN JONES: It’s always super rewarding when our clients succeed in their respective industries and we know that we were a piece of their story to help them get there. Anytime we get our clients in major placements or see our clients doing big things out in the world and people take notice, it’s a huge sign that we are doing our jobs correctly – so that’s definitely the most rewarding part of this job. The hardest part is that entertainment can be a harsh industry. People can be really negative and mean. I’ve definitely had to deal with my fair share of people who are disrespectful and don’t value the work we do. Those days can be really tough to get through when you are pouring your heart and soul into the work.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: I read that you’re also an independent musician yourself. How has being a musician/artist yourself shaped and colored your experience in PR?

DAWN JONES: Yes, I am! I play the fiddle and have been fortunate enough to have some amazing experiences in the performance side of the industry as well. I would say that my background as a musician is what really sets us apart from other PR firms. Everything we do goes through the lens of “is this what I would want as the artist?”. Because I’ve been in the shoes of many of our clients, I can relate to the experiences and needs they have, so I know what they are wanting in a team. I’ve taken that insight and crafted Pressed PR to be the answer to those needs and desires. Yes, we may do things a little differently than a major PR firm, but it’s serving our clients in a very specific way, and I think they value that aspect of it just as much as they value the work we do.

Pressed PR’s Dawn Jones

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What advice would you give to new artists out that have to do the PR themselves?

DAWN JONES: Take the time to learn and understand this aspect of the industry. PR is a really important component of building a brand but it’s often overlooked – so take the time to understand how PR works and why you need it for your music. Also remember that PR is a marathon, not a sprint. A good PR strategy lasts the entirety of your career and takes time to execute properly…. so don’t be in a rush for instant results. Slow and steady wins the race.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What do you think the future of the entertainment PR industry looks like post COVID?

DAWN JONES: The cool thing about PR is that we are always pivoting and changing based on what’s happening in the world. COVID took away some of our in-person opportunities and events, but it didn’t take away our ability to connect and tell a story. We’ve definitely had to be more cautious and sensitive when sharing the stories of our artists – but I think that’s needed in the world anyways. So the biggest pivot of this season in life is learning to tell a story with sensitivity to what’s happening in the world around you. Sometimes it’s better to wait and tell your story when there isn’t so much noise in the world.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: And… Last question, what is one piece of pop culture that has kept you sane during quarantine?

DAWN JONES: Hmmm where do I even start?! I personally have loved the new experience of live-stream concerts. I’ve been able to see several artists perform in a concert setting that I may have not been able to ever see in person. I’ve also discovered a lot of new artists around the world and been able to see them perform in their home countries which is really cool to me. We are regular virtual concert attendees in my house haha.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Thanks for taking the time out, Dawn!

DAWN JONES: My pleasure, thanks for having me!


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Each interview in this series will be published every Friday. If you would like to be apart of it you can contact me here and learn more here.

INTERVIEW WITH… POP SINGER & SONGWRITER JULIANA

INTERVIEW WITH… POP SINGER & SONGWRITER JULIANA

L.A. Pop Singer-Songwriter Juliana is truly making the most out of this time in quarantine. As the artist has been releasing a new single each month. The latest being ‘Mixed Signals’. My initial chat with Juliana was on a Zoom call. The bright cheery colors that permeate her branding, and pop in and out her newest video, also mirror her demeanor. It was also on that same Zoom call where I had a minor technical glitch. We ended up having to redo the interview by email. I chatted with Juliana about her creative process, dream music collaboration, and so much more. Check it out below.


THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Hey, Juliana, Starting off… How are you? How have you been doing particularly in quarantine?

JULIANA: Hey, I’m really excited to be here! Thanks for having me on The Reclusive Blogger! Quarantine has been pretty tough. I definitely have some difficult moments, but for the most part, I’m overall blessed and grateful for my health and my family and friends’ health.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: How have you had to adjust creatively?

JULIANA: Honestly, quarantine has actually helped my creativity immensely. I’ve found that being stuck alone with my thoughts actually frees my mind from outside factors and allows me to tap into the creative side of my brain more fluidly. I also have less life distractions in quarantine and that has truly benefited my songwriting skills because I have more time to focus on my mental health, which directly correlates with writing music.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can you talk about your new single ‘Mixed Signals’? And why you decided to release a new single each month?

JULIANA: Mixed Signals” is my newest release that came out on Feb. 17th and it happens to be one of my all-time favorite songs so far. I wrote it about a guy who was clearly giving me mixed signals and it’s meant to be an empowering pump-up song for anyone who’s experiencing something similar. It lives as a reminder that you’re better than someone giving you mixed signals.

(cont.) In regards to releasing a new single every month, I wanted to make sure each individual song was getting their own time in the spotlight! Since I write all my tracks from my heart, based off personal experiences I’ve gone through, I want to make sure anyone listening can appreciate the lyrics behind each song. For that reason, I decided to release singles monthly rather than an album where all the songs come out at once and they might not get the same focus as if they were released separately. Plus, it’s fun and exciting to release something new all the time!

Mixed Signals

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is a typical creative and writing process like for you?

JULIANA: I typically write my songs in my apartment with my guitar when I’m feeling some type of way about an experience I recently went through, which happens quite a lot… I seem to write my best tracks when I’m dealing with a heavy emotion, whether that’s sadness, excitement, infatuation, anger, or really any intense feeling. After that’s written, I connect with one of my producers, depending on who I think will make the individual track sound the best, and then we all collaborate on production ideas to build out the track together.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: I read that you went through an extremely tough period in life where you couldn’t sing. How were you able to get through it? What advice would you give to others particularly artists to get through obstacles?

JULIANA: Yes, in college I had some physical health issues going on that prevented me from singing and it was brutal to say the least. It definitely took a massive toll on my mental health and put me in a downward spiral for the time being. Writing music and singing is therapeutic for me, so when I don’t have those outlets to express myself, life becomes heavy. Thankfully, I was able to come out of it even stronger than before and once my physical health healed, so did my mental health. I made sure that during that depression, I surrounded myself with other positive outlets that would put a smile on my face. I cooked more, I went to museums, I wrote poetry, I hung out with my friends, and I called my family daily. It was also in that moment where I realized music is a necessity for me and if I don’t have it, I feel like a piece of me is missing.

(cont.) For anyone going through something similar, my biggest piece of advice is to take care of yourself. Always make sure you’re putting your mental health first because if you don’t have your health, you don’t have much. Try and find things that make you happy and excite you and just know, it’s only temporary. You will get out of this and you will become even stronger than you ever thought you could be. I also want to send my love to anyone going through this. If you are reading this, please know, I am here with you and you are loved.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: You just did an online live stream performance for Bandsintown. How was the experience?

JULIANA: It was amazing!! I absolutely love singing and performing so I was grateful that Bandsintown gave me that platform to showcase my singles. I’m hoping one day soon I get to perform in person, but for now, I’m loving being able to sing for people virtually!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Speaking of performances… What do you miss most about live music and performing?

JULIANA: I miss the energy of the crowd. There’s no greater feeling than going on stage and hearing and feeling the energy the crowd brings. It’s something I can’t describe. It’s a massive adrenaline rush that you don’t want to end. I can’t wait to get back on stage and start singing for people in person!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Who is your dream musical collab?

JULIANA: I would absolutely love to write a song with Julia Michaels. In my opinion, she’s the most talented songwriter in the industry right now and I would do just about ANYTHING to have the opportunity to write a song with her. I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is one album that you can listen to over and over?

JULIANA: Songs About Jane” by Maroon 5. For some reason, that album just always sticks with me. I’ve always been a Maroon 5 fan and no matter how many times I listen to that album, it will never get old.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Recommend a piece of pop culture that has kept you sane during quarantine?

JULIANA: This is the weirdest answer I’ve probably ever given in an interview and if you asked me this 2 months ago, my answer would have been different, but I’ve recently been hooked on “Survivor”… I never imagined I would like the show, but my sister and her girlfriend got me into it and since then I can’t seem to stop. The good thing about the show is that it’s kind of mindless for me and it’s not too heavy, so after a long day of working, it’s a perfect distraction for me and I highly recommend it!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What are your three tour must haves?

JULIANA: Before performing, my necessities are first and foremost, WATER!! I love drinking water, plus it’s extremely important before a performance to hydrate or else my voice won’t be where it needs to be. I also always have tea with me, specifically Throat Coat. I also have these gummies called Grether’s Pastilles, which are great for healing a dry voice before a performance. The most important takeaway here is that AFTER the shows, I have a cocktail, because I’m *celebrating*. That is a must-have.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: And… Last question, what is next for you Juliana?

JULIANA: I will be releasing a new single on March 24th, which I’m excited about and I will have new songs coming out each month after that. I’m not stopping anytime soon, so definitely follow along on my social channels and website to get updates!


Stream Juliana “Mixed Signalshere.

JULIANA // Socials Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Spotify | Apple Music | Soundcloud | TikTok

INTERVIEW WITH… DARK POP SINGER-SONGWRITER MADLEO

INTERVIEW WITH… DARK POP SINGER-SONGWRITER MADLEO

I chatted with emerging dark pop artist Madleo about her first foray into collaboration with Grammy-nominated producer Boom Dice. The cynically playful new single is titled “Extroverts” and is out now. The moody electric pop sets the tone for the Florida-born and Serbia-based actress/singer’s forthcoming Read more