Leah Siegel Talks About Breaking Through with Firehorse

It’s been said that having a breakdown leads to a breakthrough. It seems Leah Siegel would agree. A musician living in Brooklyn (down the street from where her grandfather grew up), Ms. Siegel has spent the last couple of years breaking out her most recent musical project, Firehorse, and last year released her first album as such (And So They Ran Faster) to much acclaim.

Firehorse at SXSW 2012

“I can’t remember which happened first,” Siegel says over the phone, on a break from a recording session in Seattle, “I knew that something needed to change otherwise I was just going to completely fall apart. And I think then I completely fell apart — through the process of breaking everything down, of breaking free… I just started doing different things in life and it really informed the kind of music I was making.” […]

Following the album release and several stellar shows at SXSW this Spring, Firehorse has been creating quite a buzz. “I’m really, really proud,” she says, “I mean, the record isn’t even a year old and I’m really excited it’s gotten the attention it has gotten,” but, she adds, “None of it has changed my life… my goals have always remained the same and my expectations are high.” […]

<< full interview: read it here >>

In Conversation with Matthew Hines of The Eastern Sea

Matthew Philip Hines describes Austin, Texas as “a kind of velvet coffin”. A local musician who is no stranger to philosophy, classic literature and analysis of multi-modal communication (that’s right), his music is reflective of the complexities in his mind.

“Part of living in Austin and being a musician is trying to overcome this kind of automatic apathy,” he shares, “There’s just so much music in Austin, the market is so saturated and there’s just not a real big urgency to go see something because you could see it anywhere, all the time.”  […]

Together [his band, The Eastern Sea] has just released their second album titled Plague, a collection of lyrical songs that are thoughtfully composed and pleasantly intriguing. […]

Hines likens the band’s musical collaboration to the cultivation of a plant: “There’s two parts,” he begins, “there’s the seed […] and then you take care of the seed, you plant it, you water it and you let it grow. So in a lot of ways, I create the seed and then I bring it to my collaborative musician partners and we grow it together.” […]

<< check out the full interview here>>

And catch The Eastern Sea playing live in New York tomorrow night, Saturday June 30th, at Piano’s and at Glasslands in Brooklyn on Sunday July 1st!

Lexie Roth’s Dance Between Joy and Melancholy

Don’t be fooled by the breezy melodies and zippy rhythms on Lexie Roth’s new self-titled album.  These are introspective songs about nostalgia, death and longing and each has its own story to tell.

“These were all songs that came out of a three-year period of my life [where I]  was especially struggling,” Roth explains, “I learned a lot in those three years and as a result the material I’ve been producing deals with some heavy stuff.”

On this collection of ballads, Roth’s honeyed voice croons effortlessly over consistent guitar lines and pattering percussion.  In “Forget All About Me” she broods over love’s abuse: “So I rolled up in a ball, stayed where I was, he kicked me in the side, but all I felt was love”.  The coy “I Have To Leave You”, with its syncopated rhythms and fragmented instrumentation, mirrors the confusion of breaking up, offering a stark contrast to the playful melody with its bleak lyrics: “I have to leave you, you say you wanna leave me too, but I don’t believe you, so I have to leave you”.   The album closes with “Country Diddy”, a bouncy song reduced to simple guitar strumming, vocal harmonies and ominous choral voices whirring in the background.  Half sung, half spoken, it is a convoluted story about death that is anything but depressing.

Like any good folk or country song, these songs have soothing, uncomplicated melodies.  “When I write […] it always starts with a nice riff on the guitar then it grows from there,” Roth says, “The music gives me a certain feeling and I run with it.  Then as I start to sing along, words start meshing with the guitar and I get inspired to write new parts and it all kinda comes together, just like cooking a meal.”

And like any good rock or pop song, Roth’s tempos are stirring.  For that she credits her love for disco and house music as well as Motown hits.  “I grew up with two Jukeboxes that were constantly playing and my sister and I would dance all through the house every day and night to the classics,” she recalls.

For a change of pace from these mellow songs, she has recently started producing and performing an electronic side project named A Bordo.

“I couldn’t live without music,” Roth says, “It makes me feel, and lets me express the deepest things I need to express.  It couldn’t feel more natural to me.”

Roth will be playing at The Bitter End in New York City on June 21st.  “I do love intimate clubs,” she attests, “because you get to connect with the audience in such a special way […] but on the same level- of uplifting and special and powerful- is playing to an enormous crowd that you can’t see because you feel the energy.”

Her genuine love for music and performing is as palpable as her genuine love for life, for all its ups and downs.  On “Little One”, sprinkled with dainty xylophone notes, she sings “Just close your eyes and remember what it’s like to be alive.”

These songs might seem melancholy but perhaps their tone is as bright as their melodies after all.

Kishi Bashi: Full Interview

Another excerpt from my recent interview with Kishi Bashi:

[…]  Years ago, while his pop-rock band Jupiter One was opening for Regina Spektor, Ishibashi fell into solo performances out of necessity. “Jupiter One was a very heavy beast to tour around the country, so I wanted something mobile and independent,” he explains.

When Spektor’s tour went to Australia, he had to leave his band behind. “I was playing solo, basically like a stripped down version of Jupiter One, and I got this huge response — it was ridiculous. I had to bootleg my CDs because I was selling over 100 a night.” His drummer, Dave Heilman, joined at the end of the tour and suggested that Ishibashi do a solo album. “The more I thought about it, the more it made sense,” he recalls, “I had a lot of songs, and this whole other side to me that wouldn’t really work with Jupiter One.”

Soon afterwards, Ishibashi jumped on board with Of Montreal and was immediately inspired by lead singer Kevin Barnes. “There was a whole new style, a level of complexity that I’d never thought of before. I never understood just how dense his compositions were.” And, like Barnes, Ishibashi was “into the idea of self-producing, instead of being a slave to a producer or being pressured for studio time.” […]

<< don’t miss the full interview here! >>

and check out this striking music video of hit song “Manchester”: