Posts tagged #austin

Blue Healer Creates "Pop Music with Teeth" on the Austin Scene

by Jake Navarro, Oct 1, 2015

Local trio, Blue Healer, who describes their repertoire of music as "pop music with teeth" took the stage with UK group, The Maccabees, for their Official 2015 ACL Fest Late Night Show at The Parish on October 1, 2015. 

MyCityATX sat down with Blue Healer at one of their shows at Cheer Up Charlie's to get some more insight on the band's unique sound, current work and how they are able to put a "Blue Healer" stamp on any music they produce.

Click picture to listen to single 30,000 FT. Photo by Alexis Davis

Click picture to listen to single 30,000 FT. Photo by Alexis Davis

The music Blue Healer produces mirrors how the trio is on and off the stage. It's fun, smooth and gets you grooving. With their March release of "30,000 FT" posted on Bandcamp, you're able to give your price for the single. 

"TOGETHER--WE ARE BLUE HEALER," the band says dramatically in unison.

The guys quickly display their fun nature as soon as we sit down.

We get to talking about their name. Ironically, it was only suppose to be a song title. Frontman and upright-bass player, David Beck, tells MyCityATX that it was a song title without lyrics and decided that would be a name that made sense. 

"Although it's spelled differently, I think it's fun to explain the night of the first show involving a Blue Heeler," keys and vocalist, Bryan Mammel starts. 

"We were sitting outiside Sam's Burger Joint in San Antonio before our show, there was this lady that had this huge Blue Heeler. We complimented the dog, but the owner didn't say a word back to us. We're convinced she wasn't real--or if she was real, she was a ghost," Beck finishes. 

Blue Healer performs 30,000 ft. live in Firestation Studios, San Marcos, TX.

As we continue to their single, Mammel chimes in, "Even though we've been around the country together--I can't count how many times--it's fun that [30,000 FT] feels so new." 

"We have some elements that are sonically pretty dance-driven and more semi-electronic, but sometimes I feel songwriting becomes secondary to artists. They may have a dance track, then put some words over it. We start from the ground up, starting with one instrument then build around it," Beck explains when the topic of being different on the Austin scene arises. 

If you only get one thing from Blue Healer, it's definitely going to be the element of their "butt-grabbing-music" as Mammel notes. Strong melodies and well played instruments tend to have that effect on the crowds the band performs for.

Drummer and vocalist, Dees Stribling, gives us some insight when we ask about using different instruments at once to create a certain sound. 

"It's a half necessity and half because it's new and fun. It's exciting," he says.

Stribling triggers a number of samples on a Sampling Percussion Pad while he drums during the set, and, so far, it's paying off. The new sound additions mesh well with what the band is able to produce organically. Beck weighs in. 

We had this idea for [using samples and tracks] before we actually tried it out. I’m really happy that it works. We’ve never played with tracks behind us and ran samples with what we play. When we put it into action, we can pull it off and not just be occupied by trying to do a bunch of stuff, too. That’s no good, either. You still have to put on a show.
— David Beck

The band enjoys hearing the self-proclaimed "pop-music-with-teeth" sound is accessible and different at the same time.  Blue Healer lends that exact familiar sound while letting the audience "walk through a new landscape," which enables the guys to properly stamp their uniqueness on each track they write and produce. 

"Sound changes over time, but if it remains familiar, then that's a perfect place to be," Mammel stresses.  

Beck concludes, "We're not trying to freak anyone out or blow people's minds with sounds. I like to deliver something that's palatable." 

Blue Healer's live act is definitely something to check out for the Austin scene. Their different sound creates a need to scout out when they're playing next after you leave their show. 

Besides being crazy-cool and nice, this trio gets you moving. If you're living in the good ol' 512 or are passing through, Blue Healer is one keep an eye on. Make sure to keep up with these guys!

You can follow Blue Healer at www.bluehealerusa.com and on Twitter at @BlueHealerUSA

Alesia Lani on Creative Process for Album that had "No Direction"

by Jake Navarro

Hip Hop is definitely on the rise on the Austin music scene, but that's no what, singer-songwriter, Alesia Lani is too worried about. Her passion is focused around R&B and female representation in the genre. Alesia strives to make a difference not only amongst the ATX market, but as a whole. 

"R&B IS NOT DEAD," Alesia shouts into the voice recorder as we start talking about her music and writing styles.

The R&B songstress invited MyCityATX into the sacred recording grounds where she's crafted her first album, First Impression. With the microphone, computer and mixing tools just a few feet away, we got to chatting about starting out in music, her latest effort, First Impression, and everything else in between. 

As I begin to get comfortable, I look around and see a wall full of the posters she's collected over time from the shows she's performed at. I have to ask where she "began." 

"It's funny. You see that poster over there," she asks as she points to the one entitled, Tipping Point, "That was one of my first shows. I actually met Gift there. It was a competition. It ended up being a tie between Gift and another artist. I was the only female solo act! I felt like I didn't have a chance! [laughs]"

“I got soul, baby! I’m not doing this to be pretty. I’m not doing this to be the center of attention. I’m doing this, because I love it.”
— Alesia Lani

After thinking for a second, Alesia recalls her childhood involving music and remembers always loving writing as a child--the older she got, the more music she wrote.

"I was always the girl that was ran and talked over. I could be in the middle of a sentence and get interrupted so easily. The moment I opened my mouth to sing, though, people shut up. People actually gave me a chance to be human. That's what really got me into singing. I was so shy, but I had to get over that because people started listening." 

Alesia is the type of person that is willing to not only try anything, but has to be good at it, too. She showcases that quality perfectly in her songwriting. She weighs in on the process. 

"It definitely helps to have a musical background, but [writing] is a craft. You not only have to have skill, but be able to put the work and hours into it, as well. I used to listen to my favorite singers and breakdown everything they did from their format of writing music to ways they released music and their videos." 

The "Sunshine" singer goes on the explain how creating a good portion of the project on her own affected her way of crafting her first LP. 

"This was the first time I ever created an album. I had no clue where to start. I was thinking, "I'm just going to put some stuff together and sing these songs." I was constantly writing, recording and creating material that I knew was album potential. I knew what felt good and couldn't let go. I had no direction on this album, and that's why it I titled it First Impression."

As producers started sending Lani beats and tracks, she found that her writing process started to change. Instead of being able to pull lyrics out of a notebook and create beats based off of the melodies she created, she started working backwards because she loved the tracks that were being sent her way. She elaborates on a track that was produced in a less traditional R&B format.

""Lost Endeavor" was a lot harder to write. The beat is so theatrical. I knew as soon as I heard it that I needed to have it included on the album. I had to make a great song to it," she explains.

Hard work is something that Alesia expects to face, especially with being a female in this male-dominated industry. 

"It doesn't mean anything if everything is handed to you. You're easily going to lose it, because you didn't work for it. My manager loves me because I have nothing attached to me. I have earned everything on my own."

Lani beams with pride as she goes on the tell me she was the only solo R&B artist to perform at the Austin Chronicle Cook Out this past June. Alesia Lani is proof that hard work pays off. 

This talented songstress takes the genre to a whole other level, especially in Austin. She has the voice, stage presence and perseverance that a true artist needs to succeed--definitely a force to be reckoned with. 

As the conversation comes to a close, Alesia thanks MyCityATX for taking the time to sit down for the interview. 

"[Bloggers and journalists] keep us going! When I can't promote or show some love, y'all take time out of your day to do what you do. You guys are the ones that promote and listen to us. I'm very grateful for y'all." 

Don't miss Alesia Lani at Ras Day on August 29, 2015! You can follow Aleisa on twitter: @AlesiaLani, soundcloud and at alesialanimusic.com!

 

 

Emily Wolfe Strives for Super-Legend Status

by Jake Navarro July 31, 2015

Musicians on the Austin scene want to make it. Emily Wolfe, however, wants to become a super-legend. When you talk to, listen and experience the Wolfe live, you end up thinking it's not a far-fetched idea. 

The badass rocker-chick agreed to sit down with MyCityATX this past week. With a quirky and funny persona on stage, Emily ended up giving the most honest and vulnerable artist interview to date. 

Jack White being her dream collaboration, The "Swoon" songwriter starts by sharing some of her musical influences that one wouldn't readily expect. 

"It's not that prevelant in what I play. I think it's the passion in Motown music that I really want to emulate. It's the simple words with so much feeling. Groups like The Temptations, they can sing one word, and it's like, "Oh, my God. There's so much emotion in that."" 

With almost no time to even consider other artists, she continues. 

"I would also say Linda Ronstadt. My mom had all of her vinyls, and she gave them to me. There are bands these days I really like too, like On and On. They just put out a record that's really great." 

Emily laughs because she uses "these days" and jokes that she feels like an old woman.

While she is light-hearted and funny, she possesses the ability to leave you feeling like you have something big going for yourself

Photo by Stevan Alcala

Photo by Stevan Alcala

"This is exactly where I wanted to be, you know? Talking to people like you, playing gigs, making music. This is what I wanted to be doing with my days," the rocker admits. 

Although she's able to rock out and inspire others with her insightful thoughts, things weren't always that way.

Emily thinks back to working her day job as a receptionist at a construction company when I ask her about particular set of lyrics in her 2013 song, "White Collar Whiskey."  

"I don't think anyone would notice [those changes in the lyrics]. That's so great," she starts, "In 2013, I had this 8-to-5 day job. It was hell, because it wasn't music. I dreaded it so much. I answered their phones which rang once a day. I'm the kind of person that needs to be busy. I have to work with my hands. During college, I worked in the main office which was this super white-collar office. They had whiskey in the meeting rooms. When the company started changing, they put me out in the field with the construction workers--like "let's fucking build this--"

Emily stops herself and apologizes for dropping the f-bomb. I reassure her it's fine and encourage her to continue. 

"I saw the white and blue collar part of the industry. I felt really caught in the middle of it, because I didn't want to do any of it, but I had to make money somehow. I was sitting in the back, answering their phone calls and getting them coffee. All I wanted to be doing was making music." 

We take a quick journey back to her childhood to find out what inspired her to pick up the guitar and start creating.     

"I took a couple lessons when I was six. I was pretty bad at it," she begins. 

The local musician chuckles when I let her know I struggled to learn how to play the guitar when I was in middle school trying to learn Oasis' "Wonderwall."

"I'm a by-ear learner. I was really bad at reading sheet music. We moved to Corpus Christi, and I didn't have any friends. I just messed around with my instruments in my room all the time and I taught myself. Ever since then, it's just been fun, you know? I've never really taken lessons, because, for me, it takes the passion out of it. Lessons are great if you want to learn more about [guitar], but, for me, they way I learn is by doing." 

"My relationship with the guitar: I can't even explain it. It feels like it's just an extension of myself. A lot of times, it's hard for me to grasp my own emotions. When I sit down with a guitar, it all comes out in the strings. It's hard to explain.

Although Emily shreds the electric and can put on a fantastic full-band show, she enlightens me as to why she thinks keeping an acoustic sound also is so important. 

"I feel like doing both is where I'm suppose to be. When I'm really sad, it can be so deep that I need to get it out in a more of an acoustic song. When I'm super excited, it's like, "I want to fucking shred right now!""

The creative process definitely had some drawbacks for the hungry artist. She fills me in on some issues with previous management. 

"I've had people tell me I had to choose, because they needed to pin-point my sound. They told me they needed to know what my genre was so they can write about it on blogs. My thoughts are: "If they want to write about it, they can write about it. It doesn't need a genre." I'm not going to pigeon-hole myself into one thing," she reaffirms. 

Wolfe goes on to say that it's just easier for managers and promoters to label an artist to be able to book shows, but explains that she'd much rather play to the audience depending on the venue and mood. 

With the ability to play so differently, Emily tells MyCityATX that she recently experienced some writer's block. 

"I wrote a full song a couple of weeks ago that I'm really proud of. Reed Turner told me that I can get out of writer's block if I can get one song out that I'm proud of. Hopefully, my writer's block is done, but it seems like it's harder to write now because I'm sober. I've struggled with addiction for a couple of years. When I was drinking heavily, things would just spill out of me," Wolfe says as she takes a sip of her Red Bull. 

She recalls the times when the words and melodies came so freely. 

"It's liquid courage. I thought whatever I said was art, but now it's a little harder to craft the sentence that I want. It's harder for me to not care as much as I do compared to when I was drinking," Emily finishes. 

I ask if the lyrics, "I don't feel alive unless I have someone to chase" were words she put together during this stage of her life. 

She collects her thoughts and opens up, 

"Yeah, totally. I wrote that song about how I was falling into my addiction. I was almost chasing anything good out of my life, because I wanted something to pull me out of where I was. That was a really powerful line, as well. I definitely don't feel that way anymore, though, because of the treatment and self-help I've been through. I feel a lot better. Life is way better than it was." 

With thoughts of playing festivals like Lollapalooza and headlining her own tour, Wolfe has moments when she gets discouraged, but not after I share what her music has done for me personally.

"That's really nice to hear. A lot of days, I don't really know if all of the work is paying off, then I hear that, and I think: "OK! I can do this." 

"How are you different that everyone else on the Austin music scene?" I finally ask. 

"I don't know if a lot of other artists have the drive to be a super-legend the way I have it deep in my soul. I want to be--not rich and famous--but this unique thing in the industry. I have super intense ambition. Not that other people don't have it, but I feel like I'm going to explode if I don't have any shows coming up." 

Emily Wolfe is a powerhouse that has the motivation, will and talent to truly shine in the music industry. Now, it's just a waiting game as she shreds the electric on stages around Austin and plays her favorite originals to audiences excited to experience the live show.  

You can follow Emily at www.emilywolfemusic.com, Soundcloud and Twitter: @EmilyWolfeMusic

Q&A: The Cover Letter sheds light on their continuously changing style

by Jake Navarro

Folk-inspired music in Austin is something I’ve learned is not in danger of going away anytime soon. With that in mind and the urge to find great talent, I went to Mohawk to see what The Cover Letter was all about. Knowing that Chelsea Barbo was on guitar, keys and vocals, I had a feeling The Cover Letter was a band that was able to produce something special live.  

I attended their show with an open mind and heart. I didn’t know what to expect when Chelsea told me their five-member band was essentially a seven or eight piece group. Weaving through chords and juking around stage to change out instruments between songs, The Cover Letter puts on a show that isn’t only pleasing to the ears and soul, but fun to watch as well.

With a true "we-met-at-a-house-party" welcoming spirit, Jacob, Jarrod, Chelsea, Johnni and Trevor took me backstage before the show to tell me a little more about who they are and what they plan to accomplish while on the Austin scene.

 

"You're name is pretty interesting. How did it come to be?"

Chelsea:  "At the time of us getting together, we were all transitioning jobs. We talked about resumes and all that kind of stuff. Jarrod came up with The Resumes. We were all thinking it just wasn't flowing well enough, so we brainstormed a bit more and that eventually turned into The Cover Letter."

"Playing multiple instruments is something that you guys do live. How hectic does it get on stage trying to switch them out? What inspired that?"

Jarrod: "It's fun. It wasn't overly intended. We play multiple instruments and would want to play that instrument live because we wrote that song on it. The logistics of it is a nightmare!"

Chelsea: "Writing the setlist is probably the bane of our existence at this point because we have to know how much change is happening between songs and keep time short."

"I bet it can be pretty hectic! I was reading that some of your influences range from Fleetwood Mac to Arcade Fire. Where would you say you hear that in the music?"

Jarrod: "You'll get five different answers!"

Chelsea: "That's the thing about us, all five of us come from completely different musical backgrounds. I was raised on Sarah McLachlan, Jewel and Aerosmith, so that's why I think I go towards the more lighter stuff."

Trevor: "I was in band in highschool. I get some of my influences from my classical and jazz pieces, more than anything else. One of my biggest band influences is City and Colour. He's a great songwriter."

Jacob: "I've been all over the place! When I started getting into songwriting, I was into Modest Mouse. I really liked how they arranged the music. I don't think we can say as individuals that we would be supreme solo musicians. It's all about how we make the song and arrange things. I think that's what a lot of people like about us. We're always wanting to change things and push it a little bit."

Johnni: "It's nice to see people of all ages like our music--young and old. It's nice because it lets us communicate to such a bigger spectrum of people.

"With all of these sounds and influences, how does it all come together to create a unique The Cover Letter sound?"

 Chelsea: "I think that's where the switching of all the instruments comes in, for me, at least. Our writing process is really fun. It depends on who brings the song to the table. We each bring our own influences in." 

Jarrod: "We handle things very democratically."

Jacob: "Short answer--be open to change and comfortable getting outside of your comfort zone." 

Where do you think The Cover Letter sound won't go? 

Trevor: "Death Metal!"

Jarrod: "Chopped and screwed!"

Chelsea: "I don't think we'll ever go anymore country than we are at the moment. We're heading to more of the alternative, rock-pop scene. It'll still have a homey, folk-feel behind it all, but we're stepping it up and pushing our boundaries."

Since there is a bit more of a folk feel to your music, how is The Cover Letter different than any other band on the Austin scene?

Chelsea: "I've heard we give off a very family-vibe on stage. We're very inviting and welcoming. We want to be a part of our fans' lives as much as they want to be a part of ours. It's a mutual relationship. I think that's very special with us." 

Jacob: "It's doesn't matter what happens in front of the stage for us. What matters is that we're having a good time because we're loving what we're doing." 

 

It definitely pays off. The connection the group has with the audience is fun, energetic and makes you want to get involved. Being able to have their music reach as many fans as possible is the goal. Whether is on the "side of the river" or at Mohawk, these guys plan on making a mark on the Austin music scene through their forever changing style. 

In between laughs and some quirky inside jokes, the band continues on to explain how they played five shows in four days during South by Southwest and hopeful plans to be an official artist for festival next year. Their plan is to hopefully be on the festival circuit and play as many shows as they can next year to connect with as many new fans as possible. When asked about music streaming services that will affect their business, they simply replied, "TAKE IT! If you want the music, take it!" 

You can keep up with The Cover Letter on their website, Soundcloud account and twitter handle: @CoverletterATX. 

Be sure to catch the next show here in Austin at the Colorado River Ramble on June 28th!