I spoke with Sacramento Indie Rock band Keys and Vices. We chatted about their latest and highly emotional release “Chronic Nostalgia”, songwriting and influences, and music traditions. Check it all out below …

Photo Credit: Jennifer Valdez

Photo Credit: Jennifer Valdez

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Pancakes or Waffles?
ALL: Waffles 100%!

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can you tell us how you guys got started as a band?
KEVIN: We were in a band prior to Keys and Vices so we were already family and synced up with
each other. After the split, Jenn created Keys and Vices as her solo project then slowly pieced it
together by first adding Kris, then reached out to me a while later. We knew we had something
after our first practice as a trio.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can you tell me more about the recording process for this EP “Chronic Nostalgia”?
JENN: I recorded 5 of the songs myself which is where you’ll hear some difference between all 8
of them. The songs I recorded on my own took a lot longer having to write all the parts myself, but the 3 songs recorded with Kris and Kevin were so much faster since we could bounce ideas off each other.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: How was the writing process for this EP? Having come from a place heartbreak did you feel this was a cathartic experience?
JENN: Absolutely! Writing music has always been therapeutic and helps me to move on. Sometimes I’ve come to discover things about myself during the writing process that I hadn’t thought of before, and it’s simply because i’m searching for a different way to explain the story.
KRIS: For me it was more on feel. The songs Jenn and I wrote together came from locking ourselves in a room for hours and just playing together till something felt right, and we just knew.

TRB: Being not only musicians but creatives where do you normally draw your inspirations and influences from?
KRIS: I draw inspiration from the talent my bandmates bring to the table. It’s hard not to see and
hear them play and not become inspired to be the best I can be.
JENN: My personal experiences, and collaborating with musicians like Kris and Kevin. Just like Kris said, it’s so much better writing songs with people who know where you’re going with the music before you even get there.

TRB: Do you guys have a lyric that you’ve written that has the most meaning to you or is a favorite?
JENN: Wow that’s a very hard question! I love all the lyrics I write because they all have a lot of
meaning to them. If I had to pick a favorite lyric, I would say one of the lines from the song “Ghost Love”. The lyric, “trying hard to hold back the water in my eyes, I don’t want to show you the wake you’ve left behind”. A way to explain how much you’re hurt that you feel the effect isn’t a small ripple in the water, it’s a wake. I think that’s very relatable for anyone who has been hurt.

TRB: If you had the chance to cover any song and give it the ‘Keys and Vices’ treatment what song would you pick? And why?
JENN: My favorite song to play as a cover is “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. I’ve always loved that song, and now I give it a different feel with the way I sing/play it.
KEVIN:Won’t back Down” by Tom Petty. I think the song speaks for itself!
KRIS: Any song by Hall and Oates. I loved that band as a kid and I still do.

TRB: Are there any current artists that have been “On Repeat” for you as a band lately? What music have you been digging?
JENN: I listen to a lot of different artists (old and new), but the artists I always have on repeat is Sam Cooke and Elton John’s album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. At my house we have “Sam Cooke Sunday” where we listen to my Sam Cooke vinyl albums every sunday, it’s become a fun
tradition along with cooking a big breakfast. A few months ago I found Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road vinyl album buried in a sea of old vinyls at a shop. I couldn’t believe it was only $3.99, and in amazing condition! It’s one of my favorite albums and every other Friday night
you’ll hear it blaring throughout my house!
KRIS: Lately I’ve been listening to Chris Stapleton’s Traveler album. It’s the perfect mix of blues, and country but it’s also surprisingly soulful too. The man has a great sound.

TRB: If you turn any book into a song what would you choose? And why? KRIS: The Count of Monte Cristo.
The idea of waiting so long to get revenge is crazy and would make for a great song.
TRB: And what’s next for Keys and Vices?
ALL: Although we just released “Chronic Nostalgia”, we have a lot of new music ready to get out there within the next year, and if listeners love our current album, we can’t wait for them to hear the next one!

TRB: Anything else you guys would like to add? 🙂
ALL: Thank you for taking the time to listen to the album! Please hit us up on social media and let us know what you think of the music!

You can follow Keys and Vices on their social media links below as well as listen to their current release “Chronic Nostalgia” (embedded above).

Facebook: @keysandvicesband
Twitter: @keysandvices
Instagram: @keysandvices
https://www.keysandvices.com/

Like always be sure to hit that follow button or subscribe to my emails to catch the latest and greatest in music, entertainment and pop culture from The Reclusive Blogger.

Until then,
Brittney x
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THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: CD or Vinyl?

CUBBI: Digital streaming

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can you tell us how you got started as singer and songwriter? Was that something you always wanted to do?

CUBBI: Yeah I guess it’s just been something I’ve always done. In high school I spent the majority of my time writing songs after school. I would even bunk math class and just hide out with my guitar writing songs.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can talk a bit about the backstory and songwriting process behind your two latest singles, “White Lies, Like Flies” and “Buzzkill”?

CUBBI: I wrote WLLF with my looping station. First came the chord progression which I had playing over and over again and about 20 minutes later I had the whole songwriting was done. I was inspired by James Blake’s vocal productions so I added some interesting vocal layers and the song was created. Buzzkill was a collaborative effort between myself and Robokid. I had the vague idea of the song I wanted us to work on in our session before hand as I had written a couple of lines and melody already and felt like it could turn into something cool in the right hands. I played him some of my other music and we chatted about the song and how I wanted it to be minimal and driven by the procussion. I really love how we did a tempo change going into the bridge section, it really drives the song.

TRB: Where do you normally draw inspiration from as artist, producer and musician?

CUBBI: I draw mainly inspiration from relationships, platonic and romantic. And also the relationship I have with myself.

TRB: How has your South African roots influenced your songwriting and your artistry?

CUBBI: Mainly in the production of my music. It might be hard to hear unless you are familiar with music from here. A bunch of my drum patterns are influenced by the gom scene here.

TRB: Do you have a dream music collaboration?

CUBBI: I would love to do anything musically with Tracy Chapman or Fiona Apple. Two of the greatest songwriters ever.

TRB: I’m going to throw in a fun one here … What was your favorite children’s book as a kid?

CUBBI: I’m going to have to pick the Chronicles of Narnia, but the tapes not the books. We used to go on long road trips as a family when we were on school holiday and my parents would play the tapes in the car.

TRB: What music have you been listening to lately? What has been “On Repeat” for you?

CUBBI: The 1975’s new record is bliss. Love It If We Made It, as a song, is a masterpiece.

TRB: And what’s next for you Cubbi?

CUBBI: That’s the question. Shows and shows and touring and shows and music videos and finishing up the next record. Exciting times ahead, I’m looking forward to it.

TRB: Anything else you would like to add? Thank you for your time! 🙂

CUBBI: Hey thank you guys! Check me out on spotify, and follow me on instagram @cubculture_ for updates on live shows and new releases.

Until then,
Brittney x

Fresh off her opening tour slot with Bastille, Best Laid Plans Records, Singer & artist Akine talks music, her band members and collaborators the Wavewalkrs, plus more at The Reclusive Blogger

The Reclusive Blogger: Hi, Akine. I always start with a fun ice breaker question so …

The Reclusive Blogger: Morning Bird or Night Owl?

Akine: Definitely Night Owl. I’m most productive from 10pm and 2am. That’s usually when i write too.

The Reclusive Blogger: Can you tell us how you got started as a singer and songwriter? Did you always want to be that?

Akine: Yes. As long as I remember I’ve always wanted to be a singer/ songwriter. It was either that or becoming a Pirate. There was no third option. I started writing lyrics and melodies when I was 11 or 12 and it gradually became an obsession, compulsion. By 16 I had enough material for a few albums. Some of it will never see the light of day but some of the songs are now released or will be later this year. My sister helped me record a few tracks and get them to a label. So here I am now.

The Reclusive Blogger: You released your debut EP, Don’t Foster Fear last year? What was the writing and recording process like for you? Especially being a young debut artist?

Akine: I had written a few songs that came together into a theme. I was going through a rough time at school, feeling like an outcast and just very anxious and fearful of everything. These feelings came to form the concept of the EP. Recording was pretty awesome. James Earp is a fantastic producer and now a great friend. He immediately got me and the music and the lyrics. It was so easy working with him. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by people who believe in me so i cant say that I’ve had to struggle in that sense.

The Reclusive Blogger: You are currently playing a few shows with Bastille? How has that experience been for you? Have any you gotten any touring tips from your fellow tourmates?

Akine: The experience of touring has been a real eye opener. Watching BASTILLE, their work ethic, the way they prep and perform its just all done on such a high level of professionalism. They have been so supportive of my music from the very start. It’s pretty surreal that I went from being a Bastille fan to performing on one stage with Dan Smith. It’s been incredible, the experience, the people who make it all look so easy when there’s actually a ton of preparation that goes into playing every single show. I cant wait to do more live, its such a high. Also, being able to perform with my friends and band mates the Wavewalkrs it just didn’t feel like work. Physically demanding but also emotionally rewarding, that’s how id summarize touring.

The Reclusive Blogger: Speaking of Bastille … what’s your favourite Bastille song?

Akine: I have a few but I guess I would have to say “Two Evils”.

The Reclusive Blogger: What musician would you love to collaborate with? And Why?

Akine: There’s so many! I would love to collaborate with Fiona Apple, Modeselector, Mitski, Brockhampton or Ben Howard.

The Reclusive Blogger: Is there a lyric that you’ve written that has the most meaning for you or is your favorite?

Akine: In “Cashmere” I wrote about a girl I used to be close with and as we grew apart as friends, our values also changed and it broke my heart a little bit. I guess at one point being cool and popular became a priority for her and in a way I felt like she chose that over our friendship.

“Everything you do, you do it for the camera, the likes and the views. Writing your name on the walls, i was here. Gotta remind them or they will forget”

Cashmere by Akine

The Reclusive Blogger: Throwing in a fun one here… If you could live in any fictional universe, which would you choose?
Akine: I would either live in Pirates of the Carribean themed universe or Harry Potter world. Definitely somewhere really spontaneous where anything could happen.
The Reclusive Blogger: Are there any artists that have been “On Repeat” for you lately? What music have you been digging?
Akine: Mitski, Mitski, Mitski. I’m a fan

The Reclusive Blogger: And what’s next for you Akine?

Akine: More music. Hopefully I’ll get an album together before the end of the year and release that. Like I said before, I want to travel and play live, I love meeting the people that listen to my music.

The Reclusive Blogger: Anything else you would like to add? 🙂

Akine: Have a great day))

To learn more about Akine go here: https://www.akinemusic.com

Follow Akine on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/akine.music/

Follow Akine on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/thisisakine

Stream/Buy “Don’t Foster Fear” here: https://songwhip.com/album/akine/dont-foster-fear

You can also learn more about Best Laid Plans Records and all of their amazing artists including Akine go here: https://bestlaidplansrecords.com

Until then,
Brittney x

I chatted with singer, songwriter and guitarist Craig Stickland about music, life on the road and his upcoming album “Starlit Afternoon” which features the current single “Burn It Down“. You can read the interview below and learn more about Craig and his music …

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Coffee or tea?

CRAIG STICKLAND: Coffee.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: So you just dropped your latest single “Burn It Down”. Can you tell me more about the creative and writing process behind it? A bit on the backstory?

CRAIG STICKLAND: In the final stretch of the album making process, Cat Lewis and I were writing and producing a ton of music in search of a few more up tempo songs to round out the mid tempo feel of the rest of the album. “Burn It Down” started as a song about rebellion against governments that try to oppress those who are trying to live a life of freedom. After about a month’s worth of re-writes, it ended up as a song about coming together with your fellow human being, living a life of your choosing, while maintaining a theme that no one should be able to tell you how to live the life you want to live.

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Your second album “Starlit Afternoon” is coming out this Summer. Can you talk a little bit about how the recording and writing process has been for it?

CRAIG STICKLAND: Starlit Afternoon is a collection of songs that I’d been writing for the last few years while traveling across North America in a sprinter van that I renovated to be my home away from home, as well as while traveling around the world playing guitar in her band, as well as opening up for Alessia Cara. They’re songs about my relationships and experiences during that time period. After trying to find the right production sound with a variety of different producers, and ultimately ending up liking my home demos more than the fully produced versions I was ending up with, I decided to co-produce the album with a few good friends of mine; Cat Lewis and Gray Hawken. Alessia’s keyboardist Eric Rusinski, Cat and I had just finished converting a guest house garage into a studio in LA, so I parked my van in front, AirBnb’d my apartment, and we got to work over the better part of a year. We were in the studio every day, sometimes making 6 or 7 versions of the same song until we got it right.

TRB: Have you always known you wanted to be a singer-songwriter and guitarist? Who are some guitar heroes of yours?

CS: I knew I wanted to be a singer songwriter when I first picked up the guitar at age 16. When I first saw John Mayer play live, that’s when I knew I wanted to be a singer-songwriter and guitarist, and that I needed to step my guitar playing game up.

TRB: Let’s talk a bit about your music video for “Burn It Down“? What was the inspiration behind it? What was the filming like for you on the music video?

CS: Emma Higgins who directed the video is incredible, and she was the true visionary behind the video. We knew we wanted a live performance element to capture the energy of the recording, and it was Emma’s idea to drive around California and capture total stranger’s initial reaction to hearing the song on 16mm film.

TRB: Is there a lyric that you’ve written that has the most meaning to you or is your favorite?

CS: One of my favorite songs on the album is the album closer “Good Love” which is a very personal song written about how hard it is to find pure love, especially with my career choice. The verses are very personal, and I really like the way they came together.

“Staring at the city and I feel like crying out. The words you used to whisper, I now hear so loud. If I’d known you’d be so precious, I would have been more kind. Tell me now why is good love always so hard to find. Lately I’ve been drinking to escape my state of mind. As I pull up to an empty bar, I read your script inside. It tells me not to be reckless, and that everything will be fine. Tell me now why is good love always so hard to find. Maybe it’s the way I live, different city every night. They say that you get what you give, when you left I felt the plight. Maybe things would be different if I wasn’t working all the time. Tell me now why is good love always so hard to find.”
Craig Stickland // ‘Good Love’

TRB: Are there any current artists that have been “On Repeat” for you as a band lately? What music have you been digging?

CS: Tom Misch has been one of my favorites for a while now. His first two albums, Beat Tape 2 and Geography are on heavy rotation. I’ve also been listening to Gary Clark Jr.’s new album, and Nathanial Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ album Tearing at the Seams. Emily King’s new album is incredible too.

TRB: And what’s next for you, Craig Stickland?

CS: I’m really eager to share this new music. I’ll be releasing new songs from Starlit Afternoon leading up to a mid summer Album release. My Next single “Rolling River” Comes out on March 22nd. I also shot a series called ‘The Van Sessions’, where we filmed and recorded live versions of most songs from the album, fully powered by the solar panels that I mounted on top of my sprinter van. We shot a different song in each of my favorite locations around California like Big Sur, Joshua Tree, Yosemite National park and Alabama Hills, to name a few. And of course, more touring to come!

TRB: Thank you for your time!

Listen To “Burn It DownHERE

New Album “STARLIT AFTERNOON” Due Out This Summer!

Until then,
Brittney x

So I did my first phone interview with Nashville based Singer-Songwriter Sam Hale. His new EP; Somewhere Between Love & War is out October 12th. We chatted music, Nashville, family and his Iranian heritage …

[The interview has edited for clarity and context]

The Reclusive Blogger: Hi, Sam, How are you today?

Sam Hale: I’m doing great. How about yourself?

TRB: I’m doing fine. So, Sam how did you get started in music?

Sam: The first memory I even have of being alive was like being around music was my parents house parties . They weren’t musicians, my Dad’s an Architect. He kind of has a little like of an artistic being in him. But like basically I grew up in Iran (I moved when I was seven years old). So my family would throw house parties all the time and there were a couple of guys that would always come over and play, one played guitar and one played piano. They would entertain everybody. Instead of like normal kids would do, I was more obsessed with the music being played. I was intrigued and enamored by it. Eventually as I got older at 12 I started taking lessons and at 16 I started writing my own songs. That was when it stuck with me when I could express myself with my own lyrics, melodies and chords. Stuff like that.

TRB: Speaking of Nashville … How has Nashville influenced you as musician and artist? Also how has your prior years in Los Angeles? In what ways can we hear both influences on the new song and EP?

Sam: I came here to just kind of change my mindset and reset myself to be focused in music and just try to see what it’s like to be in an uncomfortable setting where you have to like have to meet people all over again. And you know it was definitely a challenge. So in LA I kind of got more like the pop background you know, cool bars and clubs and music venues that they would always have like awesome synth groups. like you know. When I came to Nashville. It’s a little bit more stripped down out here. It’s like it’s back to the basics with drums, bass and guitars. So being out here I definitely got more influenced by the Americana stuff. A couple artists out here that are awesome are David Ramirez, he’s definitely influenced me. I ended up working with this producer Sam Kassirer. So that was awesome. Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, and Andrew Cohen.

TRB: Since we mentioned your new EP and song. Let’s talk about it. Your current single “Can’t Take It” is off the EP “Somewhere Between Love & War”. What was the recording and writing process like for that?

Sam: Well as far as the title goes on I just kind of felt like you know there’s a lot of emotions on the EP that all kind of just figures in a little area, “Supernatural” was more reminiscent for me as it touches on you know me back when I was in Iran. The first single called “Can’t Take It” is about toxic relationships. The EP basically about a lot of things that I went through in the last couple of years.

TRB: Who are your biggest inspirations and influences as musician and artist? They can go beyond music.

SAM: My Dad. He got us to America when we were younger. And you know, he brought us out here so we would be able to follow our dreams. have a free and easier life and he sacrificed his career he’s a great family, man, he’s been married to my mom for I think, like 45 years now. As far as music, I don’t really follow music so much these days. But I would also say, Chris Martin from Coldplay.

TRB: Who Is Your Dream Tour mate?

SAM: Thom Yorke or Trent Reznor.

TRB: What lyric have you written means the most to you?

SAM: “The Tourist” from my new EP.

“Years bend to minutes through the turns. A new generation’s driving. I’m in the backseat pressed to my seat“

Sam Hale // “The Tourist”

TRB: I usually start out with a quick icebreaker question but this time I’ll end with it… So Coffee or Tea?

Sam: I would say both! I used to be anti coffee because it gave me anxiety, but I drink Coffee in the morning for a boost and Tea (decaf) after dinner.

TRB: Anything else you would like to add?

Sam: Check me out social media and I’m most active Instagram. Check out my website Sam Hale.net and my music!

⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️

Follow ‘Sam Hale’ on Social below:

Stream Sam’s EP “Somewhere Between Love & War” Here.

Sam also has EP release show in Nashville on October 20th at The Bowery Vault!

Thank you for your time Sam!

Until then,

Brittney W.

Good grief!

The Bastille boys have done it again, my favorite band has a knack for surprising us fans with music out of the blue and in this case beautiful shot soundcheck videos! If you haven’t seen Bad News it’s linked.

So with only a day of warning my favorite South London based band released the amazingly cinematic live performance version of their latest single Quarter Past Midnight. It was filmed during soundcheck at the Royal Albert Hall in London on the bands’ ReORCHESTRATED tour.

The video not only beautifully shot but well edited is interspersed with clips from the actual live show. All which help to not only capture the high energy and freneticism of a Quarter Past Midnight but a Bastille live show as well. It also features a bigger glimpse into the choir and the orchestra that was a major part of the ReORCHESTRATED tour for those who could not be apart. But don’t only take my word for it. Go watch now below …

“QUARTER PAST MIDNIGHT” // (LIVE FROM ROYAL ALBERT HALL)”

Until then,

Brittney W.