We were entering our fourth month in music city USA. Somewhere between being strung out from the road and dealing with growing angst in anticipation for our return to the studio, we snapped.
It was as though we finally realized we didn't have to fall into the bottomless pit of pseudo psychotic, self loathing musicians that call Nashville home. Rather, we sat down on December 17th, wrote End Of The World and came terms with our situation. We let go of the worries and stresses that accompany the life of an artists and accepted the fact that, however big the battle, it was a battle we chose to live. A bitter sweet love affair involving the ever growing sense of hopelessness, the passion for your art and love for life on the road. I walked in to our bass player's room and asked him if he wanted to go out for some drinks…
Since college, I have maintained a shoe box filled with scraps of paper, clippings, polaroids, found objects, cartoons, but mostly hastily scrawled lyrics all assembled during phases of living in St. Cloud, MN; Merida, Mexico; Hamburg, Germany; and Switzerland.
After having settled in California, I began to mine the box for songs to complete and discovered that the easy part is the hook, the gotcha line – and the hard part is crafting a song that sticks together and keeps the audience interested and if possible off guard.
I like to kick off my sets with a few humorous songs, so the audience is expecting another chuckler when I hit them over the head with darkness. It’s like a day in a life, right? That beer truck is barreling around the corner and you’re not looking both ways. I guess it’s an easy jump from emoting on stage to emoting in front of a camera and crew and I find that acting sharpens my sensitivity to the power of the single well placed word or phrase, or phrasing, intonation, emphasis.
Access Royale were headlining a festival in Warrenton, VA and the crew hadn't supplied a proper mat for the drums to stay in place. Mid way through a song, the bass drums started to slide away from Robzie (drummer). So the bass player thought to place his foot on one side of the drum head to prevent it from sliding any farther but it started to slide sideways instead. Robzie's foot was fully stretched at this point, still trying to maintain a bass drum rhythm.
Unknown to Vee and Charles (vocals), both the bass player and drummer had left the stage to try to remedy the situation. As Charles and Vee turn to que up for the next song, they noticed Robzie off stage speaking to the sound engineer and crew about her dilemma. Without breaking a stride, Vee and Charles decide to do a cover by Oasis called Wonderwall, which neither one had never played before. The crowd ended up loving it, and it gave the crew just enough time to remedy the drums situation so that the band could get back to the normal set. No one suspected a problem was occuring. In fact, the crowd thought it was all part of the show. And now Wonderwall has become the only official cover for the band. However, the band has yet to play the cover ever since.
When we started writing "23", we had been talking a lot about fugue states--psychological phenomenon wherein people inexplicably wander off from their lives and find themselves somewhere else later, with no recollection of the time in-between. (I think it started, actually, from talking about the use of fugue in music, where various melody lines work together to create a single, complex melody).
Fans of MOTU recognize that many of MOTU’s songs have a political or social message. An example of this is “A Better Day” from the “MOTU – Time Runs Faster” CD. Seeing the hardships that have come out of the housing collapse, and subsequent job losses that resulted from this recession, reminded me that we live now in a much harder time then the world I remember in my youth. The erosion of the middle class in America is a sad truth. However, America has seen tough times before and I do believe that better times are ahead. So this hope for tomorrow was the inspiration for this song:
The most amazing place I've ever been...... I'm from a small town, things are slow here and if you don't pay attention, this place will take time away from you. It's all so the same that weeks can go by without ever noticing it and no one really notices you, which I guess can be a good thing at times. All of these people who have accidentally acquired responsibilities and worries and addictions in the form of bills, kids, spouses (whether you like them or not), the bar, drugs, gossip etc. All of them with limited knowledge of the outside world and all so opinionated and uninterested in learning cause.......they all already know.
So for me it's become a bit of an addiction, the most amazing place. A place where every second is valued by everyone there. Everyone in your presence, taking in the spectacle that is your art. It can be 5 seconds away but things are so different once you get there. It's your place.
Black Dimes by James Gilmore
There are many things I'd like to see before I die. As a generation, we've been a part of incredible change, a two steps forward one step back progression that frustrates and inspires all at once. I was born in the opening credits of the 1990's, January 4th. By the time I could crawl, Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait which led to the Persian Gulf War. I was barely forming sentences when it and the Cold War had ended, and Los Angeles was ablaze with riots. When I was a toddler Bill Clinton was sworn in as the President of the United States.
I was sitting in my first classroom when the bombing in Oklahoma City killed 168 people, and I was nine during the shooting at Columbine High School. The first election I was ever allowed to stay up and watch was the close race of Al Gore and George W. Bush, and the first tragedy that I was old enough to be devastated by was the attack on 9/11. At 13, the US and Britain went to war with Iraq. During my high school years, I watched terrible storms sweep homes into the ocean in Florida, tens of thousands of troops sent to train soldiers in Iraq and fight terrorists, and the deadly shooting at Virginia Tech. I voted in my first election my first year of college. My guy won. The economy did not. Bin Laden did not. Marriage equality efforts reversed Don't Ask Don't Tell and DOMA. BP sprung a leak that landed them on nature's most wanted list. Health care continues to be a topic of disappointment for all sides involved, except insurance companies, but Health itself has slowly become trendy somehow. Excusing gaps in my memory, that about brings us up to present time. I'm now 23 years old, and I wrote a song last year called Black Dimes that describes what I've seen and what I've still yet to see before my time is up. It's about rising up and fighting for what you believe. It's about using the tools of older generations to chisel at the obstacles between us and tomorrow, so that when death is upon me I can say "I lived to see the days."
I wrote the song Thin Air one summer while my boyfriend was away on an extended trip.
We were spending a lot of time together and so I missed him quite a bit when he was away on his trip. It was still the beginning of the relationship at this point, so some of the inevitable anxieties began to surface when he was gone and I was stuck in New York feeling all Bananarama "Cruel Summer." (I literally had that song in my head for weeks.) There is a lot of vulnerability at the start of (almost) any new relationship - whether it's a romantic relationship, starting a new job, buying a home, moving, etc.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 4, 2011, a group of us were gathered to celebrate and play music in a friend's backyard here in Marfa, Texas. One of my friends played a song called No Soy De Aqui, by Facundo Cabral, and it moved me so much I asked her to play it again. When I got home I looked up his song and music on the internet and found he was a beloved folk singer from Argentina and an icon in all of Latin America, much like Bob Dylan. He was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace in 1996, the same award given to Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama.
I was immediately inspired and I began hearing the music to a song and picked out the melody and chords within two days, but the words would not form within me. That following Thursday Facundo Cabral was mistakenly and brutally murdered in a drive by shooting in Guatemala on his way to the airport. I felt like I had lost a newly found friend.
That night I struggled with the words and music. I sat outside beneath a black, star-filled sky at about 3:00 a.m. The words began to form within me. I said aloud to the night, "this song will be called For Facundo Cabral, and the first words are the dance goes on, the song goes on". Immediately after I spoke the words a shooting star sailed across the sky above me, from north to south almost to the horizon, leaving a green trail of light. The next instant, another shooting star split the night from over my right shoulder, traveling east to west leaving a golden trail and almost seemed to skip out of the atmosphere. I laughed aloud. I felt like Facundo Cabral was telling me, thanks, see ya.
The words formed easily after that and the song was finished the next day. It is a tribute to him and his vision of a beautiful world that sings to us, if we only take the time to hear it.
Ever book a show at a place you never heard of just because you're excited you finally got a gig? And then once you get there, you see a teenager unloading an instrument out of a car with a dad in the driver's seat saying, "good luck at your first show, son!" Well, that didn't quite happen to me, but it came pretty close.
To begin with, let's be honest. What am I?
I am an avant-garde, weird, silly song girl
I don't write songs you're going to hear on the radio
I don't write songs that make sense to sing at a bar (unless it's an oxygen bar)
I write songs about fruit and pasta and enjoy covering Syd Barrett songs
Essentially, I write the kind of music that makes you want to laugh.
One of the most memorable trips in my life was backpacking in Mexico, taking a semester off from college. And though there's a myriad of experiences that rank high, including playing music on the street during carnival in Mazatlan, learning the subway system of Mexico Citygetting around one of the biggest cities in the world for pennies, and standing atop the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan; the spring equinox at Chichen Itza was probably the most amazing.
Marfa Texas. The most amazing place we’ve ever toured. We found it by accident on our first-ever road trip from NYC to LA.
While crossing the deserts and open plains of west Texas into New Mexico, with a day in between our shows in Austin and Phoenix, we set out for the state border. We stopped at an old gas station and met up with another band randomly. They recommended that we swing an hour out of our way to Marfa, Texas, the city where No Country For Old Men was filmed, and home of a mysterious unexplained phenomena called “Marfa lights”. The little town of 1,000 people sounded just strange enough to try going to check it out.
The Room is a song which deals with the inevitable loss we all have to face at some point in our lives.
Growing up, we're taught how to deal with loss, how to move on, how to cope. There comes a point for everyone where no matter how hard we try, no matter how hard we need to, the loss is too much to overcome, too hard to bear, too inconceivable to look past.
Mountains Go is the title track from a seven song EP just released. The song was written while I was spending the summer in a small town in the wilds of Alaska. The town is very remote (even by Alaska standards). No paved roads, no electricity, no running water and tons of bears! It is a magical place with many eccentric towns folk.
This is song is based around a conversation I had with local about the simplicities of life and the eternal quest to see what lies beyond. It is about how our past doesn’t have to define us. The real truths are seen in our present. I hope that this song resonates with people’s innate need for wilderness and desire to see where the mountains go!
`RoundMagazine.net is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com