INTERVIEW WITH … CRAIG STICKLAND

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
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INTERVIEW WITH … WANK

I got a chance to interview Southern California Punk Band WANK recently. I talked with frontman Bobby Amodeo on music, Foo Fighters, and the future of WANK

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: I always start out with an easy and quick question. An icebreaker … So CD or Vinyl?

WANK: VINYL

THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: And for my readers who don’t know who is WANK and how did you guys come to be?

WANK: We’re the unsigned rock band that KROQ in LA added to rotation. We are the band that Mike Ness of Social Distortion and Chris Shiflett of Foo Fighter produced. Check us out.

TRB: Can you tell us about the first song you guys wrote together as band?

WANK: Fearless from Get a Grip – Generation X meets The Boss.

TRB: What musicians have you guys admired or learned from over the years?

WANK: I’d have to say Mike Ness, Joe Strummer, The Beatles and Elvis Costello. Yes they’re all legendary but they all brought the tunes and lasting stage presence.

TRB: Can you tell me more about your bands’ typical creative, recording and writing process and what goes on behind that?

WANK: Danny presents an idea, we refine it and arrange it as a band, we take it to the studio and track it with a producer.

TRB: Speaking of that … Let’s talk about your new single “Salvation” which was produced by Foo FightersChris Shiflett. What was it like working with him?

WANK: Awesome!

TRB: How do you think he added to the track?

WANK: Chris was a blast to work with. He came in very focused – his vision elevated our tune on all levels.

TRB: Here’s a fun one … What’s your favorite Foo Fighters track?

WANK: That’s a hard one! So many great songs but if I had to pick one I’d say LEARN TO FLY.

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

WANK: Been really digging THE INTERRUPTERS as of late. Great style and cool tunes.

TRB: And what’s next for WANK?

WANK: We have a full length coming out this December which we’re stoked about! Really our plans involve lots of gigging and getting our new music heard.

TRB: Anything else you would like to add?

WANK: Thank you.

Until then,
Brittney W. 🙂

INTERVIEW WITH … POP SINGER-SONGWRITER LENAY!

I recently introduced you to a new Pop artist named Lenay and her song LA LA LAND. Today at The Reclusive Blogger we feature an interview with her which you can view below!

1. Quick question … Are you an Early bird? Or Night Owl?

Lenay: Definitely night, but that can count as early morning too, just whenever it’s dark!! I used to stay up until 5am and edit or work on music. Now I’m trying to reverse it and wake up at 5:30 and get the darkness before morning and I’m equally loving it, it’s just harder to do sometimes and actually get out of bed haha. But once I do, I love it, as well as the feeling that the whole world is sleeping and I have it to myself.

2. Can you tell me a bit about the songwriting and recording process for “LA LA LAND” for you?

Lenay: Sometimes I just follow my cat around all day until he starts rapping and then I steal the words for myself and that’s how “La La Land” happened. I just had coffee. And that didn’t make sense on so many levels – not just the cat one. But for real I was jamming to the instrumental track in my car (that Disco Fries made – shout out to Disco Fries!!!) and I chose it and loved so much. I started singing the “la la la la la la la la land” part (in the middle of the verses) and loved the idea and feel of the “las” extending into its own melody so much, and then just went from there!! I wrote the verses while driving as well and would have to pull over to record them on my phone to not forget haha.

3. Who has been the biggest influence on you as a musician and singer?

Lenay: A lot of different styles and artists for my music style, but definitely Lights and Selena Gomez for my vocal style. I love the way Lights enunciates her words and then dives into high parts suddenly with so much feeling. I do that a lot in songs, especially if I write them myself. And I love how Selena’s vocals are so saturated and surround you, as well as the fact that her songs have dark, moody vibes, which I love!!

4. What are your fondest musical memories?

Lenay: My first concert was for a band called Go Fish, which is a Christian-Acapella band. I used to love them so much and went to their concert I think when I was 12 and it was the best thing ever lol. Also my very first show was in Argentina last year at Club Vorterex and 800 people went!! It was SO crazy seeing my names on signs and hearing people sing songs I had written. Something I’d seen only on Taylor Swift concert DVD’s haha, I was like, “OMG OMG I have a sign”.

5. Do you have any fun rituals you do before a performance?

Lenay: Nope, haha not yet! I should though and I’m sure I will eventually. I’ve only had 4 shows so far, and right now I just adapt the rituals of whoever is around me and do what they are doing before I go up. One time, my band was stretching so I was like, “ok, I’ll stretch now”.

6. Who are your dream collaborations? They can be dead or alive.

Lenay: Taylor Swift + Ed Sheeran!! I would love to write or collab with them SO much.

7. Can you remember the first time you wrote a song? Can you describe it for me?

Lenay: I grew up playing classical piano, and reading other people’s music. But when I was little, I kind of didn’t register that someone had once created these songs … They just kind of existed for me. Then one time I sat down and was messing around and accidentally wrote a melody I liked on the piano and kept playing it once in a while. I never thought of it as me writing a song, and I stopped playing it and forgot eventually. But I wish I could remember what it was, because that was technically the first song I wrote.

8. What was the transition like of being a MTV VJ to being a Singer? Did you always want to be a Singer-Songwriter?

Lenay: I didn’t even realize I was writing songs at first or that it was even a talent! My dad would show me his songs he wrote on his guitar while he was growing up but never released anywhere or showed anyone. And my ex was in a band and was always writing songs and I started chiming in with melody ideas and eventually started writing entire songs for his project. I didn’t even realize what a big part I was playing in all of that and never asked for credit or anything, I just got excited about the ideas and melodies. Now looking back I’m like, “oh yea – I wrote that and it’s pretty darn good” haha!

9. Who was favorite guest when you were a MTV VJ?

Lenay: Macklemore, Ariana Grande, Ken Jeong, Ashley Benson + Selena Gomez. Haha, too many to count and I want to keep adding more but everyone was so nice! Ariana kept singing really cool random melodies. I could listen to her sing all day!! And I expected Macklemore to be like AAAAHH but they were super chill (which is cool to see both sides of people) and when they walked in I started rapping their song to them like, “walk into the club like what up”, and then we just kind of looked at each other for a bit and they were trying to figure me out and eventually we all started laughing. It was funny.

10. How has your life growing up and living in so many different places inspired or influenced your songwriting?

Lenay: Yea for sure! Some songs I have coming out have some Reggaeton beat influences mixed with dark pop I can’t wait for you to hear!!

11. How did the collab with Zara Bash on the song “LA LA LAND” come about?

Lenay: I actually had a bridge written at first but after a few weeks realized I didn’t like and then we were like, “hmmm … How about a rap collab? That would be so cool!!” So my manager Justin (Bieber) (jk) (hi Justin) asked a few potential people and Zara sent an idea back so quickly and it was such a PERFECT fit for the song!!

12. What artists or bands have been ‘On Repeat’ for you currently? Who have you been listening to lately?

Lenay: Well funny you ask, I just made a Spotify playlist with all of my favs!!

Lenay: Hope you enjoy!!

Stream “LA LA LAND” here: https://spoti.fi/2MzDsY0

Lenay’s Socials below:

IG: https://www.instagram.com/lenaychantelle/

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/user/Lenayiskindofcool

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: https://www.lenaychantelle.com/

Until then,
Brittney W.
– Written by Brittney Williams with additional writing from Contributor Jessica Clemente

INTERVIEW WITH … OCNS BAND

ABOUT OCNS:

OCNS took time. Time allowed growth and change, but most importantly the opportunity to arrive at the right place in the right moment. Six years have passed, and in that time OCNS have grown from three members to six; finally becoming complete. With six unique perspectives, OCNS meld haunting tones of ambience, melodic tones of alt-rock, and top it off with indie-style and pop sensibility. OCNS released their debut single, “If I’m A Ghost” in January 2018 and are currently looking towards the near future. The follow-up single “You,” is a leap towards an ever-growing, ambient, enveloping sonic palette that will become synonymous with OCNS. OCNS is Grandy (Drums), Esdras (Bass), Isaac (Keys), Drew (Guitar), David (Guitar), and Andrew (Vocals).

    –  Behind The Curtains Media

 

OCNS // Band
OCNS // Band

I got a chance to chat with the band about their latest single and much more you can read it all below!

1. Let’s talk about a bit about the new single “You” and the inspiration behind it? Also that epic saxophone part!

OCNS: The saxophone part! We figured incorporating sax really helped with dynamics in the track. So grateful to have had some amazing feedback on it. We wrote “You” with the intended purpose of having a track that really had a running groove. The songs all about movement, and it really feels that way!  From a lyrical aspect, the track digs into how deep infatuation with someone or something can unintentionally become unhealthy for you. In some cases, serving strong feelings and desires for someone doesn’t always end up how you’d expect.

2. I love the lyric video… Can you talk a bit about that? Also can we expect an official video anytime soon?

OCNS: The lyric video was not originally planned, but we’re glad to have put it out! The video really helps in portraying our personality as a band and, I’d say, even complements the music as well. We’re definitely not world class dancers hahahah, but we do hope it got other people moving. As for an official video, it all depends on where we are in the near future with this single. Hope we can!

3. There is a noticeable difference in the soundscapes of your first song “If I’m A Ghost” and your latest “You” yet there’s still that OCNS sound. Was that something you set out to achieve or something that just happened organically?

OCNS: Absolutely! It’s certainly our goal to stamp our own sound to our music. The fact that people are catching on to that concept early on is amazing! Most of our tracks, if not all, are completely different, but we always tend to organically blend them together. We’re just thrilled to sonically have our own mark while exploring multiple genres of music.

4. Since your band has a lot of old school vibes especially with the added use of the saxophone. I wanted to ask what’s your favorite ’90s jam?

OCNS: “Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve was a BOP” -Isaac
“The whole Verve discography is great, especially the A Storm in Heaven album. Gotta say I used to love the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but the 90’s was pure RnB.” -Drew
“90’s was true RnB.” -Isaac
“Yeah, gotta go with some Destiny’s Child or Sade on that front.” – Drew
*No Ordinary Love by Sade plays in the background*

5. What was your favorite band or artist in high school?

OCNS: That all depends on who your talking to in the band! We all had wildly different tastes. Isaac loved, and has always loved Coldplay. Drew was into more hardcore stuff like Counterparts. David was super into Ben Howard. Grandy was all about some Paramore and Explosions In The Sky.  Esdras has always loved Juicy J. Andrew used to be very much obsessed with Mutemath.

 

6. What is everyone’s must have tour item?

OCNS: Most of us technically have never been on tour, despite all our years of playing music together. Andrew (vocals) has some serious touring experience from his previous band, and would probably say to always bring basic toiletries like a toothbrush, deodorant, etc. but the real key is MOIST TOWELETTES. Being able to wipe yourself down after a show or first thing after you wake up and get out of the car after hours of being crammed in there is unbelievably important.

7. Let’s talk about the album cover art for “You”. How did you decide on the cover art for this latest single and how do you think it’s set the tone in terms of the song?

OCNS: We actually had a lot of trouble finding exactly what we wanted for this album cover. Everyone agreed that it should be set at night and have some sort of neon lights in it to capture just the way the song felt to us. Dancey and nocturnal. We came across a few street shots that were absolutely beautiful, but weren’t unanimously agreed upon so we continued the search. At some point, Andrew stumbled upon this photo of the palm tree in front of what looks like someone’s house and it clicked immediately with everyone. Isaac and Andrew did some photo editing and tweaking to create what everyone has seen with the song.

8. What’s next for you guys as a band? Tour? Album?

OCNS: Right now, we are focusing on playing shows as much as the six of us possibly can, play where we never have before, as well as writing new material. We hope to put together a more solid release in the coming months, though nothing is currently set in stone. We are working diligently on a multitude of demos, but the finished piece has yet to even be conceptualized.

9. Anything else you would like to add?

OCNS: Thank you for talking to us, listening to us, and hope to talk again in the future! Y’all ask very fun-to-answer questions.

YOUCOVER.jpg

Listen to OCNS You’ here: https://open.spotify.com/track/0Yz0VKsjXg4xoRds9t9VTZ

Like OCNS on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ocnsband/

Until then,
Brittney W. 🙂 xx