When I first heard Lewis Del Mar’s single “Loud(y)” on Spotify, it stuck out among the influx of indie pop releases that had been filling up my playlists. The duo’s jarring combination of acoustic-driven indie with tribal influences and glitchy samples left me addicted, yet confused. I didn’t fully understand it, all I knew was that it was refreshingly innovative, and they were showing crazy growth on Spotify. (In fact, we hailed them as one of the top 10 emerging artists to watch at SXSW 2016.)
At the time, Danny Miller and Max Harwood were best friends, trying to translate the influences of their childhood into a musical project that they could hang their hat on. This is reflected perfectly in the name they chose for the project, Lewis Del Mar, which is “a play off the fact that their father’s share the name Lewis, and family roots in Spanish-speaking countries (‘del mar’ means ‘from the sea’),” according to the blog Respect Your Youngers. Columbia Records realized their vision, signing them to a record deal, and the rest has been history.
Lewis Del Mar
After releasing their debut album ‘Lewis Del Mar’ in 2016, they have been touring aggressively and gaining fans across the world. We caught up with them at the Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama to talk about their growth:
You have seen such huge growth in only two years. You were featured at SXSW in March 2016 and were starting to emerge, and since then y’all have really blew up. Looking back on when you were writing those songs, did you ever think that you would hit this much success this fast?
Danny: I don’t think so, no. I don’t think you ever prepare or envision something like that happening. We always had a lot of confidence in what we were doing. We certainly believe in each other and our abilities to create the music that we want to create, and that feels right to us. But that was sorta like where we drew the line, we didn’t really think about it much outside of the little world that we created for ourselves.
And I think that that’s sort of what this year has been about for us, learning how to transfer the intimate nature of our relationship and our creative process to a larger scale, where people understand who we are and what we do and care about. Because it’s a very personal thing, and before this experience it was something that we were living off in our own corner of the universe, and it’s really just that the corner’s grown, you know?
Max: Trying to figure out how to share our corner with the world.
Danny: In a way that feels genuine and right to us.
You put a lot of thought and creativity into your staging. On this tour, you have a huge screen behind you with videos projected onto it during your set. I met your lighting director last night and he was talking about how involved you were in the creative process. How important is it for your vision to translate in a live setting?
Max: At this point we are about building a world, so the live thing is just an extension of our music and of ourselves. We put a lot of effort into making sure it visually represents what we’re trying to say with our music.
We very meticulously chose a lot of videos for the projector that’s behind us that we think blend the various influences, whether that’s the Latin American influence, or the industrial city influence, it’s just all representing that visually.
Danny: Yeah, we found some really amazing clips from foreign films, like this film Black Orpheus, and we have an old Comme des Garçons commercial in there.
Via @victoriatags on Twitter: Is there any particular album or song that you haven’t been able to stop listening to recently?
Max: You know what I had [stuck in my head]? That Y La Bamba track.
Danny: “Ojos Del Sol”
Max: They’re from Portland, Oregon, and they’ve got this beautiful song. It’s just the most gorgeous song, I just got goosebumps thinking about it. And it’s recorded so beautifully, it’s a beautiful feeling.
Danny: I’ve been listing to a good amount of Bryson Tiller lately. Also this new record by Rex Orange County, he’s from the UK, I love that record, it’s called Apricot Princess I believe [Listen on Spotify].
Anyone else that y’all are working with or writing with?
Danny: We’re sort of expanding into that recently.
Max: We’re touring with Anna Wise, and she is just a beautiful person and a beautiful artist. Having her on the road has been so inspiring and a pleasure. I would just encourage everybody to check out her music and what she’s doing.
Danny: She’s a collaborator of Kendrick Lamar, and a really close friend of ours, and everything that Max said.
What have been the highlights of this tour?
Danny: I think on the most basic level, the shows have just gotten a lot bigger. We just played our biggest headline show in Chicago, there were like 900 people there. That felt to us like entering into a different level and layer of what we are doing, where the message and the things that are important to us and the things we are creating are beginning to translate into other people’s worlds.
That’s certainly a very humbling feeling, but it’s also just a very interesting dynamic, you know? We really feel like what we do is such a reflection of who we are as individuals… We have some fans, I would say the people who are making up 75% of the audience, that are really really really dedicated to what we do, and that’s been an amazing thing to witness. To witness people that have really connected in a personal way to your music.
I mean it’s funny, because in a sense that’s the goal, right? I shouldn’t be so surprised by it. But we are and it’s empowering. When you get off the road and you’re at home or in the studio, you can spend so much time imagining and projecting these ideas of what you want your career to be and how you want to be perceived, but at the end of the day, when you’re on stage in front of people, all that stuff is just residual nonsense. It’s like that is the basis of the essence of the connection that you can have with another person. So we try to each night just take a minute and completely clear our consciences and respect that space as being very sacred. That interaction with other people.
Catch Lewis Del Mar on Tour:
May 24 – Trees – Dallas, TX
May 28 – BottleRock Festival – Napa, CA
May 30 – Chop Suey – Seattle, WA
May 31 – Star Theater – Portland, OR
Jun 02 – El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles, CA
Jun 03 – Belly Up – Solana Beach, CA
Jun 06 – Valley Bar – Phoenix, AZ
Jun 08 – In The Venue – Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 09 – Bluebird Theatre – Denver, CO
Jun 11 – Del Mar Hall – Saint Louis, MO
Jun 15 – Firefly Festival – Dover, DE
Orange County natives ARMORS are a force to be reckoned with in the next year. They have become local favorites on KROQ in the Los Angeles area due to their innovative, alternative sound and high-quality production. Fresh off the release of two new singles (“Overdose” and “Genesis”), they’re about to hit the tour circuit with Safetysuit in January 2017. We had the chance to speak with them about their new music, what’s next for them, and what they really want fans to know. Check it out below!
Describe your latest single “Overdose”.
“Overdose” came together in a very spontaneous manner; the song was completely written and recorded in demo quality all within a few hours. Overall the catalyst for the track was a reflection of the countless extra hours we were putting in, trying to succeed in life anyway possible. The greater meaning of what poured out of our subconscious that day would only come to light in the final stages of production, when we had a chance to actually review the song. Honestly we all face challenges in life, we are all subjected to trials and hardships as we pace forward. Whether it be your dead end job, or the bad relationship that you can’t forget, or even the overarching feeling of existing yet, still not truly feeling alive. A vast majority of us find coping mechanisms to push through and strive for something real, something greater, sometimes to the point of excess. In short, we have found that the very crutch in which we escape from the real world can very often consume our entire lives as we try to avoid it.
Do you feel as though“Overdose” and “Genesis” are signifying a shift in your music? If so, why?
Absolutely. Since the beginning of 2016 we have written somewhere around 50 songs or so. Our writing has been refined and our identity has been carved out via the outpouring of our personal lives into finished compositions. We find ourselves growing older and older, and our life experiences are becoming more saturated day in and day out. You can most assuredly hear how we have matured since previous releases, into what we feel is more along the lines of our personal vision for the group.
You mentioned how the writing of “Overdose” was the first time you’d ever had to write a clean/explicit version of one of your songs. What was that like?
To be honest, we try and avoid using explicit lyrics for the most part, it usually just tends to bring a track down overall. Relying on expletives to fill out lyrics is typically the easy way out. In the case of “Overdose” though we couldn’t see a way around saying it how we felt it. That line rings more true nowadays than ever and I believe being brutally honest in the context of that line is something a lot of people can agree with.
What drove you to create multiple acoustic versions of “Genesis”?
When we released the acoustic video, the response was far more positive than we ever anticipated. The arrangement was changed up in the stripped down version and we fell in love with it just as much as our listeners. Because we couldn’t see just stripping audio from the video shoot and posting online, we decided to take it into the studio and fully record the arrangement.
How do the visuals (album covers, preview videos, etc.) for your new singles tie into the music? Did you come up with them yourselves or did you collaborate with someone?
Most of them are done in house by our bassist Kody Buxton. Oftentimes, they are just visuals that we feel represent the tracks in various ways. We like to leave it up to the listener to interpret them however they see fit.
Are there any more treatments for these songs coming out?
We are currently trying to throw around music video concepts and hope to begin filming in the next few months. As with anything else, it can often be a challenge to portray the imagery we want to accompany with the music. You can expect to see something come through very soon.
You have received some spins on radio, most notably on LA’s KROQ, which is known for breaking new bands. How does hearing your songs on the radio feel, and do you think it’s affected you as band?
It has most assuredly affected us as a band. We never get tired of hearing our music on the radio, it never feels like it’s really happening. Growing up in Southern California our whole lives, listening to Kat Corbett on KROQ playing awesome bands has been such a great influence. To finally hear her talk about us and how much she likes the music is absolutely surreal. We’re honored to consider her a friend!
What kind of plans do you have for 2017?
We are announcing our first national tour [with Safetysuit]! It has been such a grind trying to get touring opportunities across the US. It feels incredible to have something big lined up at the top of 2017. There is literally no better way to start the year for us!
Will you be premiering any more new music on your upcoming tour with Safetysuit in 2017?
Yep! We always try to give listeners sneak peeks here and there of the new tracks!
Is there anything else you want your fans to know?
We’d like to emphasize to all of our fans around the world that we truly appreciate all of the love and support you have given us over the years. Without your encouragement at times, we may have not made it through some of the low points that we’ve gone through. Without a doubt we can assure you all that we are trying tirelessly to make it out to every city that wants us, as well as every city that will have us. There will be more music on the way, and more shows!
You can catch ARMORS on tour in support of Safetysuit in 2017. Make sure to follow their social media to keep up to date on what they’re doing.
It’s the summer, and that means festivals, where nailing that perfect outfit is essential. Great Good Fine Ok are known for their great, outlandish thrift-find get-ups, so we enlisted their good-natured help to help you create a fine festival wardrobe ahead of their performance at the Bulladora Music Experience happening next weekend in Dallas, ok!
The band was happy to share their top fashion tips and answer a few questions from community member and GGFOK superfan Heather Obermiller (@theheatherobie).
Great Good Fine Ok’s top 3 festival fashion tips:
1. Fashion over comfort.
If you look good, you feel good!
2. Embrace the thrift life.
Fellas, don’t be afraid of the ladies section. Ladies, don’t be afraid of the fella’s section.
3. Be yourself!
If you wanna wear full army fatigues while you lean and dab – SIR YES SIR! Do you!
Where do you get all your amazing clothes?
Most of my wardrobe is from thrift shops. I’ve become somewhat of a “thrift whisperer”.
Do you have a couple favorite pieces?
I have a gold sequin kimono that I had custom made. It was the first time I picked out material, and designed a piece from scratch – definitely the start of what will end up being a very expensive, but amazing habit. Another unique piece is this long green choir/matrix looking robe. It goes all the way to the floor and weighs about 20 pounds. I bought it at a thrift shop in Portland, wore it that night, and will probably never wear it again.
What inspires your fashion on stage and in life?
When we perform I like to wear clothing that feels like the visual representation of the music. It’s important to me that I feel inspired and passionate about what I wear, and every night I try to wear something different. While creating a song is all about the music, I like when a performance is an experience that incorporates all senses. Fashion has always been a way I’ve expressed myself. Even as a kid, I would wear slightly “weirder” things than other kids. In “non-stage” life I don’t wear kimonos and capes, because my intention is not to stand out, but I do try to wear unique items that make me feel good.
You’re performing in Dallas at the Bulladora Music Experience on Saturday, alongside Paperwhite, Powers, Shamir, Cheat Codes, and AlunaGeorge. How pumped are you?
VERY PUMPED!!! Festivals and Texas are pretty much our favorite things.
You just put out an amazing brand new single called “Always”. How did that come together?
We actually started writing “Always” about 2 years ago. We felt fondly of it, but never felt satisfied enough to release it. The music kept changing and we kept chipping away at it until it finally felt right. Lyrically, it’s one of the most meaningful to me. As you get older, the concept of “always” becomes more and more real.
Great Good Fine OK
Are there plans for a new EP/LP release coming soon, or more singles?
We will definitely continue to release music! If we’re inspired to put together an EP or LP, we will, but in the meantime, it’s been fun to release singles. They each get their own life!
Will we be hearing any new material at the festival?
You can count on it!
Do you ever get tired of “Great Good Fine Ok” jokes, like people asking “how are you feeling”… ?
Naw, we welcome it! Lately we’ve been enjoying things like “Great Good Fine Okale” for our favorite kale breakfast, or “Great Good Fine Ahoy” for our upcoming NYC show on a boat. We often throw around the idea of opening a seafood restaurant called “Skate Squid Brine Filet”…a little bit of a stretch.
You can catch Great Good Fine Ok at the Bulladora Music Experience, which takes place on Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5 at Reverchon Park in Dallas. Single day passes run $49, and weekend passes are $99; grab yours here.
We all struggle to find our identity and our voice, and Brian Fuente knows this firsthand. After years of trying to find his place in an up-and-coming band within Nashville’s saturated music scene, he was frustrated. “I found myself asking ‘what is my plan B?,'” he stated. That’s when he made a decision that would change the path of his career, auditioning for NBC’s vocalist contest The Voice. After laying down a rousing performance of the Grace Potter hit “Paris (Oh La La)”, Blake Shelton turned his chair around. And thus began what looked to be a new life for Fuente.
“Being on The Voice changed my life dramatically,” he said. “It took me to a completely different level and the opportunities have been bigger than I ever imagined. I went from being unknown with 120 followers on Twitter, to 5,000 followers in less than 24 hours.” But the airtime was short-lived. He was knocked out in the first round after being assigned an almost impossible song choice in Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic”, to which Shelton, who assigned the song, voiced his displeasure. It was after that moment that Fuente realized he was yet again going down a path that was less fulfilling than it seemed.
“I learned really quickly that I’m not built for overnight success,” he told The 405. “I need time and space to build my sound organically. Freedom in creativity is everything, and being on The Voice only verified that for me. As soon as my time was done there, I knew I had to finally do this for myself… Music should be written for the heart and soul, not for the business.”
Out of this frustration emerges Fuente, a brand new alt-pop project which finds its roots in 70’s R&B and 80’s synthpop, and strives to be both heartfelt and authentic. “All new beginnings” are the first words you hear when you hit play on Fuente’s new EP, ‘The Water’, and none could be more fitting, as the project is an opportunity for the singer-songwriter to start anew and find his true self.
The Water EP
When creating the record, Brian put his head together with band members Ben Azzi, Daniel Johnson, and Mike McDonald with the hopes of creating something fresh, remarking “when writing and making this EP, I think it was more of a meeting of the minds situation. We all came from different backgrounds and, in turn, that created a unique sound for the record. From R&B grooves to heavy 80’s synth, we hinted at different childhood influences.”
The result, produced by Brian himself and engineered by Joshua V. Smith (Jack White, The Dead Weather, Beck), is a sonic landscape of alternative goodness. Undeniably catchy pop hooks and slick synth production are paired with raw, dynamic vocals and real deal instrumentation that create a unique blend of old-school homage and modern sound. But behind the polish, one finds the words of a songwriter who is not shy about sharing his struggles and path to self-discovery.
“I never knew who I really was,” he croons midway through the love-tinged “Mystery” (listen here), yet in ‘The Water’ and in his bandmates, he seems to have found his true self. “I’ve learned to stay true to myself more than anything,” he tells us, “and for the first time, I can say that this project is just that… one-hundred-percent me… Now that’s something to be proud of.”
We are proud to premiere this first effort ahead of it’s full release tomorrow (Friday, April 29), which you can stream on SoundCloud or find in the player above. The four tracks are the first half of a forthcoming release, of which the second half will be released in the future.
Regarding what’s next for the act, Fuente tells us, “we are focused on finishing the 2nd EP as well as continuing to write right now. No current plans to tour, but we’re looking into building a schedule for the Fall.” We look forward to watching these guys grow.
Austin’s Emily Wolfe is a hurricane of rock ‘n’ roll, a true force to be reckoned with. Sometimes you need some loud, in-your-face electric guitar to slap you out of the indie pop trance that you live in, and for that she is highly recommended.
After exploring her sound through a variety of genres in past releases, from singer-songwriter and folk in 2012’s ‘Directors Notes’ and 2013’s ‘Night & Day’, to gritty, crooning rock ‘n’ roll in 2014’s “Swoon” and ‘Roulette’, to a more indie rock sounding single in last year’s “Cigarette Burns”, she has finally found where she feels most comfortable, in guitar-driven, bluesy rock ‘n’ roll. “I’ve been playing [guitar] for 20 years, so I figured I should tap into that part of myself,” Wolfe jests. She has certainly done so in her brand new single “Atta Blues”, the first single to be released off a forthcoming record, which dropped this past Friday.
She traveled through Dallas on January 8, playing with one of my favorite discoveries of last year, Black Pistol Fire. Before her show, we talked about deep thoughts, the music industry, and most importantly, rock ‘n’ roll:
Harley Barnes: Especially just coming off of the New Year, is there anything that you have been thinking really deeply about?
Emily Wolfe: Oh yeah, all the time. It’s kind of weird, because I normally think in big picture, like my goals and where I want to go. So a lot of what has been on my mind lately are the steps to get to where I want to go, and it seems like this huge feat that I have to accomplish.
You’re talking about the steps that you want to take as an artist?
Yeah, because there’s no clear path, you know?
There’s not?I thought that there was. (Sarcasm)
No, not anymore. Labels are dead. Anyone has their own path and it’s just trial and error. It’s a little overwhelming.
Yes, it’s so crazy, you might have a young kid who will upload a song on YouTube, and then a month later it has over a million views and labels are knocking down their door to sign them.
And then you have, I guess, the opposite, which is working your way up slowly and organically.
Slummin’ it, yeah.
It’s pretty crazy, I have to agree. I heard that you used to do stand-up comedy.
Yeah, it’s true. I did.
Have you experienced anything worthy of a bit lately?
(Laughs) Well we drove up here in a minivan, which is kinda funny cause it’s like we’re all rock ‘n’ roll and then we step out of a Dodge Grand Caravan. (Laughs) I still need to work that one out.
(Laughs) It’s all good, you’re not doing comedy tonight.
I was talking to the door guy about this earlier. Do you think that there are any true rockstars anymore, like from this generation?
Like the long hair, tight jeans, sock in the pants kind?
I think it’s more about the “don’t give a fuck,” larger than life attitude, just super punk…
I do! They’re rare though. Black Pistol Fire is one. I do think that Courtney Barnett is one of those people, from what I’ve seen. I don’t know her personally, but based on her interviews and her style of music, she just doesn’t seem to give a fuck. She’s just like, “I don’t care, I’ll wear this stripey Where’s Waldo shirt and I don’t have to show my tits or anything,” so she just doesn’t care.
Courtney Barnett is pretty fucking cool. What are some of the most influential live performances that you’ve seen?
Dang, well I saw Jack White at Austin Music Hall. That was pretty inspiring. He really doesn’t give a fuck, he just plays for himself, and it’s amazing to watch him. I think he’s a real rockstar, too.
Lord Huron puts on a great live show that’s really inspiring. Hmm, who else… Sharon Von Etten, I can’t stop watching her.
Speaking of Jack White, I saw in an interview that after you had your surgery [brain surgery], a long time ago, you listened to a lot of his music.
Sure. I did.
Did you see him after that, or before?
Before. I always had kind-of an obsession with him. Like, not in a weird way, he’s like an idol for me, a big guitar hero for me I guess. Yeah, I saw him after that and I think that you have to listen to him over and over to grasp what he’s trying to put out there. Initially, his music can be confusing, but then you really get down deep into the lyrics and his guitar playing, and you just feel a lot of emotion coming out of him. And it’s really interesting emotion, too. It’s not really anything that I’ve seen another person have emit from themselves. It’s cool.
He’s definitely a rockstar.
Do you feel like there are any artists that everyone is trying to copy right now?
I mean, the whole girl in a jumpsuit with a computer thing is really in. Like electronic music—I’m not hating on it—it just seems like it’s such a trend right now.
I just saw a Sketcher’s ad with Ringo Starr on it, and I was just thinking, “Is everyone selling out now?”. The Beatles are on Spotify now; it’s just a weird time.
It is a weird time in music, the industry has changed so much. I mean, that came from a licensing thing, I’m assuming. It’s weird for The Beatles, but for an upcoming artist, that’s where they get their money, and I don’t see a problem with it. But for The Beatles to be on a Sketchers ad, it’s like, “C’mon man, you don’t need that money. Keep your brand where you want it.”
So let’s talk more about your music. In “Cigarette Burns”, the last track you released before “Atta Blues”, you say “you never fall in love unless it’s broken from the start.” What did that come from?
That song is actually about a friend of mine who is super great, but she tends to get into relationships that are kind-of fucked from the beginning, and she like subconsciously seeks them out. I think a lot of people are like that, you try relationship after relationship and you figure that out eventually. So that’s about her, but she doesn’t know that. (Laughs). I don’t want to tell her that.
You’ve got a new single coming out on January 14 called “Atta Blues”, what can you tell us about it?
It’s the first song that’s super guitar-driven for me. I’ve been playing for 20 years, so I figured I should tap into that part of myself. And I’ve since condensed my band to a three-piece. I used to play with four other people, and my guitar and my vocals didn’t stand out as much as I wanted them to. So that’s where that song really originated from, I really wanted to rock, you know?
Yeah! So it’s the first song from a forthcoming record or EP?
Yes, once I get some of the logistics figured out for this next album, it will be the first single on that.
What do you feel like is going to be or has been the inspiration for the songs on the new album?
A lot has happened to me in the past two years, so I think those songs are inspired by the emotion that I’ve gone through in that time. I mean, I had brain surgery, I got sober, like a lot of things happened. So I’m still experiencing those emotions and that’s where a lot of those songs are coming from. Even though they’re not about those situations yet, they’re about previous relationships and previous hardships that I haven’t really dealt with yet, so that’s my way of dealing with it, writing about it. But I think the lag time between my emotional grasp of what’s happened to me in the last two years will come to me in like the next five months in other songs that I write.
Be on the lookout for more from Emily Wolfe in the future, and if she comes to your town, I highly recommend seeing her live. She will rock you to the core.
Her new single “Atta Blues” is available now on iTunes.
If you haven’t heard of Australia’s The Griswolds by now, you’re surely missing out. Their debut album ‘Be Impressive’, which dropped August 25 on Wind-up Records is one of the quintessential records of the year (buy it on iTunes), and they are growing like wildfire with no end in sight. They are currently on tour with Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness and New Politics, which continues through November. Their live show is not to miss, they put on one hell of a performance.
If You Wanna Stay
Lead singer Chris Whitehall was kind enough to answer a few questions while on the road:
You’re currently on a huge US tour, supporting Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness and New Politics. You started the tour just a couple weeks ago, how has it been so far?
Its great, we love touring, its always a heap of fun. The guys in the other bands are awesome, we all went bowling last night actually in St Louis, amazing dudes.
You’ll be continuing this tour through the end of November. Is there anything specifically that you are looking forward to?
We love interacting with fans everywhere we go, I think sometimes food is something we look forward to. We have done enough tours now that we have favourite eating spots like Chicago Deep Dish, A god NY slice, Mexican in LA, Voodoo donuts in Portland, anything in New Orleans, etc.
So let’s take it back to the beginning of the band. I heard y’all met at a party? How did it happen, exactly?
Well Dan and I met at a party through mutual friends, then we all started to play shows together and we’d go and heckle each others bands and then we decided to put a band together ourselves because there was great chemistry between us. Then we recruited Tim and Lachy, who have been best friends since they were kids.
Meeting at a party seems so appropriate, since you pretty much make party tunes. Do y’all have any good party stories you could divulge?
Dan and I used to get banned from parties together because we’d fuck up peoples stuff, one time we set up our friends drum kit entirely on his bed then hung ALL his clothes over the drum kit. Never gotta another invite to his place.
Oh my gosh. That’s epic.
Last year, you released your album ‘Be Impressive’. It’s completely exploded on the charts, breaking into the Billboard 200, blasting up the Heatseekers chart, and getting lots of love on Spotify and the Hype Machine. “Beware The Dog” became a huge hit single, getting lots of airplay. How do you feel about the amazing reception that you have earned?
It really blew us away, it was our first single that we had ever written and tried out at radio here, needless to say, we were stoked!
Beware The Dog
In your album commentary, you have said that the “16 Years”, the first track on the album, is about wanting a dream for a long time and the journey that y’all have taken as a band thus far. Could you talk a bit more about that dream you had?
I just really wanted to be in a band my whole life and write music that I love and other people love too. “16 Years” is about that dream coming true and planning out new goals and also a little about how achieving dreams isn’t always what you imagine, but having a huge appreciation for it.
Beware The Dog
Back when the band was starting out, would you have ever imagined that you would come this far and be where you are now?
Absolutely not, I think we would’ve just been stoked to tour Australia forever, so this is pretty nuts.
You’re extremely engaged with your fans on social media, especially Twitter (@WeTheGriswolds), and as a result, have created a very loyal fan base. How cool is it to have such a direct connection to your fans through social media? What do you enjoy the most from that connection?
I love it, our fans are funny and loving, Twitter actually keeps us very entertained :). And its great to be able to tell your fans directly that you appreciate them and vice versa.
How important do you think it is to have that connection when you are an emerging band which is trying to grow?
I think its a good tool and as a band, you’d be crazy not to utilize it.
We reached out to Twitter for some questions and received an overwhelming response. I selected a few for you to consider answering:
Caleb (@CVLEBMUSIC) asks, “Do you have a nickname for your fans?”
I like Gris-babes, gonna stick with that!
Griswolds Street Team @GriswoldsST asks, “What is one thing you never go on tour without?”
@Peeters_Cera asks, “What band would you like to tour with that you haven’t already?”
Hmmm good question, we would love to tour with Magic Man, they’re great friends of ours, I reckon we’d have a lot of fun!
Chama (@jaigantix) asks, “Are they thinking of growing their horizons aka new destinations for concerts?” Are you planning on touring in more places than just Australia, the US, Canada, and where you have played so far in Europe?
Yes definitely, once our new album gets released we’d love to do a big European tour, and South Africa and Japan, just to name a few.
On a lighter note, @LyricallyJathia asks, “Where did they hide the body?”
I’ll never tell.
Getting deep, Isabella (@highkeyisabella) asks, “What is the meaning of life?”
@Slagath0rSquad asks, “You recorded your last album [‘Be Impressive’] in America [with Tony Hoffer]. If you could choose any producer and any country for your next album, who would it be and where would you record it?”
I’d love to record on a tiny island somewhere, maybe like France, somewhere we could go swimming every day. As for producers, were currently thinking about that now, but we love the shit outta Tony, he’s like family.
That’s a good transition into my next question: What can you divulge about your next release? Are you already writing new songs for it? Do you have demos or full songs done already?
We have about 18 new demos, and a bunch of them feel really good.
What can we expect from the new material?
The new album will be a bit sexier, like Prince, but if like Prince made an album with Dr Dre and Kanye.
You’ve been on tour almost all of 2015; according to SongKick, you’ve played 110 gigs this year alone. That’s certainly an amazing accomplishment, but it must also be grueling! What are some things that you do to blow off steam, especially while on the road?
Yeah, we watch heaps of TV. We love Game of Thrones, Orange Is The New Black, Ray Donovan, South Park, It’s Always Sunny, etc. We also love music documentaries and wildlife documentaries. We try and write songs in the van too, but it doesn’t always work.
You’ve shared the stage with so many incredible bands and musicians, including Walk The Moon and one of my favorite bands, The Kooks; have you been able to meet any of your musical idols/heroes?
Well actually, the night I met Kevin and Nick from Walk The Moon for the first time, the 3 of us went to a Broods concert and met Taylor Swift and Ellie Goulding, that was pretty cool.
Tour Dates with Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness, New Politics, and LOLO:
11/03 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues
11/04 – New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues
11/07 – Orlando, FL @ House of Blues
11/08 – Raleigh, NC @ The Ritz
11/09 – Charlotte, NC @ Fillmore
11/11 – Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
11/12 – Nashville, TN @ Cannery
11/13 – Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s
11/14 – Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues
11/15 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
11/17 – Washington, DC @ Echo Stage
11/18 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
11/20 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues
11/21 – Albany, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall
11/22 – Portland, ME @ State Theatre
11/24 – Sayreville, NJ @ Starland
11/25 – Huntington, NY @ The Paramount
11/27 – Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom
11/28 – Philadelphia, PA @ Fillmore
About a year ago, he put out a track called “10,000 Emerald Pools”, which immediately gained lots of attention, and from there the momentum has just grown like crazy. He’s released several singles, which then turned into his debut EP, and then released more singles, probably the most familiar one being “Electric Love”, which truly exploded. You can hear it literally everywhere, from inside Chipotle to commercials for Southwest Airlines, and even on the radio in many places. Now he’s got his debut full-length record, ‘Dopamine’, coming out this Friday. [Pre-order on iTunes here].
In between Week 1 and Week 2 of the Austin City Limits music festival, he made his first ever stop in Dallas for a show which sold-out twice. When they first put the tickets on sale, the 400-capacity venue sold out in 2 days. Then, two days before the show, the organizers decided to move the show to the outdoor patio stage, which could squeeze an extra 75 to 100 people in, and release as many tickets. Those sold out within hours. That’s some insanely high demand for a band that has only been around for a year. But one minute into the performance, it was obvious that the hype was every bit well-deserved. Garrett Borns is the real deal, and one hell of a singer.
Before the show, we sat down and talked about everything from growing up in the Midwest as a 90’s baby and his influences, to ghosts, the supernatural, and aliens. I dug up an amazing clip of him performing from his senior year of high school, and we laugh about that. We get into the brand new album, ‘Dopamine’ (which comes out on Friday, Oct 16), including the writing and recording process, and the meanings behind “Electric Love”, “Past Lives”, and “Fool”. We field some questions from Twitter, and talk about his first New York Fashion Week experience this year. We covered a lot of ground, we got deep, and we laughed, a lot.
Listen to the interview and podcast using the player below (it starts around the 25 minute mark), or read the transcription below.
Harley: I’m here with Garrett Borns, you probably know him as BØRNS. He is here in Dallas tonight headlining Club Dada, in between playing week 1 and 2 of the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Thank you so much for sitting down with me.
BØRNS: You bet.
So we just heard the song “Past Lives”, a freshly released single off of your new debut record ‘Dopamine’, which comes out on Friday, October 16. What’s the story behind that track?
It was a song that I put on this EP that was released last November, and it was actually one of the first songs I wrote with my friend Tommy English, who produced the EP, and we did the LP together as well. Yeah, that was kind of like the early days of Tommy and I. We’re really good friends, we are both from the Midwest, and we come from a very similar place melodically I feel like. And just the way we go about making music is very similar. I could talk forever about that.
I guess the song “Past Lives” itself came from this phrase I had written down, “All my past lives, they’ve got nothin’ on me”, and it’s like just an interesting kind-of one-liner thing. It’s like thinking about all these other forms of you in the past. This is when I went to an astrologer, and she was telling me these past lives that I’ve lived in. I was just kinda thinking of all the formations of you as a person, or your soul, or whatever else you want to call it. And then thinking about, almost like if there was your lover, your perfect counterpart, and all of their amalgamations, and how you’re both metamorphing over the course of centuries, and then finally you’re in the two perfect places at the same time, and you’re right for each other, and it’s like the stars align and you guys are like soulmates. You know what I mean?
But that’s kinda where the song came from.
That’s beautiful. I love the way that it starts out so stripped down and bare so bare, with only your voice, and has a little bit of harmonization on it, and then it builds into the sound that has come to more define you, which is a little bit more synthpoppy meets rock and roll meets pop. And the record definitely jumps around a little bit stylistically. Do you feel like you had consistent influences throughout your whole songwriting and recording process, or have they jumped around a little bit?
I think that it’s definitely been a handful of influences. There’s definitely the glam rock influences that influenced “Electric Love” right off the bat. And yeah, I don’t know, they’re very random influences, but I think they all kind-of — I kindof threw them all in the pot and we’re just stirrin’ it around to see what would come out. Yeah, it’s hard to say, influences not only musically, but there were a lot of these old magazines laying around the studio…
The Playboy magazines?
Yeah! All these like 60’s and 70’s Playboys, I feel like that influenced the mood of the record and some of the words and lines that I wrote for the record were influenced by those.
Kind of like an older, 60’s way of talking about things?
Yeah, it’s kind of like this very poetic, sensual… just the way they explained like a fragrance, like an advertisement for this fragrance, and they’re just explaining it so sexy and poetically. I wanted to sprinkle that into some of the songs, I guess.
So you and I are actually the same age — 23 — we were born in ‘92. I want to take you back to your senior year, where you were performing in a regional high school talent competition, and I found this video of you playing ukelele…
So I wanted to play a little bit of that for you.
I like the courdouroy jacket and the mullet, that’s good.
*laughs* Oh yeah!
The fashion mullet.
Oh man, what a mullet though.
It’s definitely some sort of a 60’s like British mullet happening right now. Yeah, so that happened.
So you ended up winning that competition. At that time, what were your dreams musically?
I was still discovering my musicality and just me as a writer. And that song, I remember I wrote it a couple days before that competition, and I didn’t think I was going to win it. Where I grew up, showcase is the big talent show thing. There were like a lot of very flashy performances, like interpretative dance performance, and like a drumline thing where everybody was playing on pots and pans and that kind of stuff. I was definitely like that’s the crowd-pleaser, you know, and so I sang a little diddy, uke-style, and won it.
You’re still very early in your career as BØRNS, but have already seen a huge amount of success. You’re growing crazy fast right now. Looking back on entertaining your family at a young age, to in High School when you were at that talent show, to more recently playing on the massive stage at Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits in front of tens of thousands of people, how crazy is that for you, and how does that make you feel?
I think I wasn’t expecting the kind of reception that the EP got, but it’s been very flattering. I just feel like it is so early with BØRNS, like this project, that I feel like there’s just so much to come, you know. I’m just excited to work on the next record.
And I think everyone else is excited to see what’s next too.
Yeah, yeah! But I mean like the record after this one.
But, yeah, I’m just gonna keep writing and keep performing and just honing in what is BØRNS, because I’m still kinda figuring it out as we go. But I want everything to grow organically and feel very natural, and so far everything has. We haven’t done crazy PR pushes, we haven’t like fucking shoved this down people’s throats, which can happen with like newer pop acts that sign to a major label. And so, I guess I feel like I’m just in a good position with the label, and with my management, and everyone is on the same page. Like yeah, we’re just making fun music and enjoying it, and not trying to turn it into some crazy campaign. Which is great, I would never want to shove music down peoples throats, I just want people to enjoy it for what it is and discover it on their own, you know?
And I guess in the day and age of the weird playground we call the internet…
…it is a weird place…
… people just do what they will with the music, so it’s kinda crazy to see what it’s done on the internet. That’s cool.
I was just looking at “Electric Love”, I think it’s at 23 million streams on Spotify now, a couple million on YouTube, and that’s pretty crazy for an unknown guy out of Michigan who just released a few singles this year.
But, I mean, it’s definitely well-deserved.
Thanks. Appreciate it.
So speaking of those singles, you’ve been releasing singles, which a few of those turned into an EP, and then more singles, leading up to this album ‘Dopamine’, which comes out on Friday. Where did you record it, because I’ve seen a lot of stories about you living or recording in a treehouse? Did any of that happen?
The LP itself, and the EP actually, was recorded in a studio that is owned by Tommy English, which is a really lovely one-room sort-of guest house. We recorded it all there. I didn’t record anything from the EP or the LP in the treehouse, but I was living up in the hills in this treetop abode, as it’s infamously named. I don’t live there anymore, but it definitely inspired feelings and helped emote the record.
What is your writing process? More specifically, are you laying down in your bed writing, or are you on tour and have a notebook, or what?
I feel like a lot of the songs come from just little bits of ideas, like sound bytes that I get throughout the day that I record on my extremely distracting glowing rectangle that we all have.
AKA an iPhone! *laughs*
So I put a lot of song ideas on that, definitely. A lot of bits and pieces. And then I think when it comes to going into the studio, then it’s sort-of puzzling them together. And I’m definitely a titles guy, I write a lot of titles down, or just certain words that I find interesting just on like billboards or those terrible magazines that are found in the back of an airplane seat pocket, you know? There’s always some gems in there.
I would never think of that as writing inspiration.
yeah, it’s pretty much everywhere. That’s how like Bowie and Brian Eno wrote a lot of songs, they just chopped up words and threw them out, kind of like those magnets that people have on their fridges. And just kind of kept rearranging words until they said something that struck them somehow. And that really makes sense if you listen to a lot of Bowie tracks. I don’t know if that’s how he wrote all the songs, but you see them and you’re like, “How the fuck did you think about saying, ‘I’m an alligator’, or like, ‘I’m a momma poppa comin for you’?” I mean, that is his genius too, so maybe he just said that, but there’s some things that you almost have to let write themselves.
You write a lot about love, almost all your songs are written about it. It’s a pretty powerful subject. We asked a bunch of our Twitter followers over the past couple days to submit questions, and @RainyLemons asks “What does it take to fall into that sorta deep Electric Love with someone? And has it actually happened with you?”
Well RainyLemons… is that what it is, “Rainy Lemons”?
RainyLemons, see that’s great. That’s awesome. That’s a good…
That’s my new band name.
*Laughs* Yeah, seriously, that’s a total band name.
Well, RainyLemons, I guess it’s kinda different for everyone, just like every lightning storm is different in the distant night sky [said sarcastically]. *laughs* Yeah, it’s something that you can definitely never really plan, and I feel like the most romantic, electric relationships, or even human interactions that I’ve had are always not planned. Spontaneity inspires electricity. Have I ever had that? Sure, yeah, absolutely.
The song was written in a time that I didn’t have that, and I was looking too hard for it. The song is just about the fantasy in your head, it’s not about actually, really having someone, it’s about wishing you had them.
I think we can all relate to that.
So @shadowpico asks, “What’s the strangest noise you can make?”
Strangest noise I can make? Oh that’s a good question! Can I do this right now? *flicks under chin while opening mouth to make water drip sound* That’s one, that’s not really crazy but… *flicks again* … you know? I like how they don’t know where these sounds are coming from…
That’s like where you flick your neck…
You flick your under-chin, and give it a little *flicks*
It’s like a water drop.
Yeah, it’s just like a water droplet.
Whenever I’m walking through the aisles of a supermarket, I’m always going like *beatboxes a beat* you know, just to pass the time. I think my weirdest noises come out when I’m not conscious of them, so sorry pico… de gallo… what is it?
ShadowPico, you’re gonna have to catch me when I least expect it. Anyway, next question!
In “Past Lives” you talk about reincarnation and the supernatural a bit. It’s Halloween time, so @bastlile on Twitter asks, “Do you believe in ghosts?”
Oh, that’s where this question is going! I guess I’ve never had like a full-on apparition experience. I’ve never really seen what people think of as ghosts, or something move without someone touching it. But I’ve had some pretty weird dreams, kind of like lucid dreams, but I guess that’s not really ghost-y.
Oh, do I believe in ghosts? I have yet to be proven that there is a sort-of supernatural activity, but I am ready and open for it!
Do you believe that there is life outside of Earth?
Life outside of Earth? Yeah man. Whoa, we’re going there. Yeah, I think there’s life outside of Earth. Absolutely. There’s Martians dude, there’s life on Mars.
I think statistically it’s impossible to think that there’s not at least a chance.
I mean, it just really, if we’re gonna go to what happens if you just keep going and going and going, besides the fact that we’re just living in a snowglobe right now. Can we all agree that we’re just in a snowglobe? Somebody’s looking at from the outside being like, “I’m just gonna shake it up a little bit.”
Oh god, I don’t know man. I hope that in my time of living that I’m gonna be able to see something that’s… It’s just crazy that we really have no control.
There’s just no control. Like we don’t know, we don’t fuckin’ know. We can’t control earthquakes and what the hell is going on inside Earth. Or if there’s another Earth inside Earth, inside Earth, inside Earth. It’s just like, at the end of the day, we’re all just those Russian dolls, just stackin’ up on into each other.
I mean yeah, we’re just like a speck in the universe.
It’s just funny, you know how the aliens are interpreted in movies, it’s like the scary or creepy slimy green thing inside of like a capsule, like a flying space ship. And it’s like, well, have you ever looked at the interstate, we’re pretty much just those weird naked aliens inside of these space capsules. *laughs* We are the aliens!
Are you really into sci-fi? I was going to ask you… we’re both 90’s kids, so growing up, are there any of those TV shows that you still dig?
I was a big Rocket Power kid.
Rocket Power! Fuck yeah! Did that have anything to do with Recess?
Oh man, I forgot about that!
Right, Recess was great!
Did you ever see the movie Recess, in theatres?
Oh yeah, they had a whole movie.
A feature film of Recess! What!? Uhh, no. One Saturday Morning man, *sings “One Saturday Morning”*. Did you ever watch that?
No, I don’t know what you’re talking about!
You watch that on Saturday morning, and it was like all of those shows. It was like Pepper Ann, Doug, Rocket–well, no–Rocket Power was Nickelodeon, wasn’t it?
Yes, and so was Rugrats.
I didn’t have that. I had pretty basic cable growing up, so yeah.
You have also done some work in Fashion, Including recently doing a campaign for H&M with one of my favorite people on earth, Petite Meller.
Petite Meller, yeah!
Sunday Morning (Velvet Underground cover)
BØRNS & Petite Meller for H&M
How was that experience? We interviewed her before she blew up, I guess, and she was so nice and interesting, and so much more than you would think for some French pop singer.
She is kind of a genius. Super intelligent girl. Very interesting human being. I really like her, I really like how her mind works. And just being in a conversation with her is really interesting. Because she just sees the world very interestingly and has a lot of cool insight. Like just her videos, all her treatments that she wrote herself, kinda being inspired by– like her music and her videos are inspired by what she grew up listening to and watching. Like old French cinema and jazz that her parents played. And I believe she’s like a philosophy major.
Yeah, a philosophy major.
And all of her videos are very Freudian. I feel like there’s a lot of subliminal art direction in that. Yeah, she’s really cool and really talented.
It was cool doing that duet with her. We didn’t record it in the same room, she was in Stockholm when she did it, and I was in LA, but it was a cool, new-age way of recording a duet, not being in the same room. But she’s rad, yeah.
I’m just kind of getting into the fashion world, I guess. I just did Fashion Week in New York. It was really interesting, I’ve never like been to a fashion show, you know?
It’s a totally different world.
It’s, yeah, it’s a different world. We played for Rebecca Minkoff, her new line, which was kind-of 60’s inspired, and so I think the glamminess of my music spoke to her, and she was like, “Yeah, we definitely want BORNS for our show!” So we played for 7 minutes while all the, umm…
…Beautiful people, yeah, beautiful humans were walking around in these clothes. I’m actually wearing Yuri Minkoff’s shoes right now. He came out with a shoe line, that’s her brother, because all of Rebecca’s is female. But cool stuff, yeah. Fashion world, it’s crazy; just breaking into it, but it’s very interesting.
Maybe we’ll see a clothing line or something?
*laughing* Yeah, no, I’m not talking about making clothes!
Yes, I know, I’m joking!
But, yeah, I mean, who knows.
I think artistic people are drawn to all the arts. Musicians like fashion people, like designers, like all that.
Right, and I think that’s why I’m drawn so much to the glam rock era, because there was so much fashion then that still inspires fashion now. You look at some of the lines today, and it’s like, “Oh yeah, David Bowie, Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust”. The haircuts, the bleached eyebrows, the crazy fucking high-waisted bell-bottom pants or whatever. It’s coming back now, and it’s just crazy that Bowie inspired so much of that shit.
Yeah, what an icon.
I know, seriously!
So let’s kinda wrap this up. We’ll close this out with another song from the new record, ‘Dopamine’, which comes out on Friday, called “Fool”. It’s the latest single that you released, the last one before this album comes out. What’s the story behind it?
“Fool” is a song that I wrote acoustically with Tommy English, who produced the record, and this guy Amar. We were standing in Tommy’s front yard, which is full of this green grass, and we were kind of just grounding ourselves into the earth, which is something good to do, because you’re wearing shoes all day. And when your feet are actually in the Earth, and all of the hemoglobin in your blood is being connected directly with the iron of the Earth, it’s just a great feeling. You feel like you’re magnetized to the Earth again.
So we wrote this song, “Fool”, which is about the influence that someone else has on you, emotionally and physically. And we just wrote it acoustically, we were standing out there with a guitar and we just wrote it. Then, like a month later, I went up to this studio in the Bay Area, it was like a house, but like there was a studio built into it. I went up there with my band and Tommy, and we recorded it live with all the band members. So that’s actually the only song on the record that everyone’s playing on. Everything else, Tommy and I pretty much played all the instruments. So this one has a bit more of a live feel, kinda like an old Motown feel, and all the backgrounds were sung around the mic with me, and my bass player, and this girl Lauren who used to play keys for me. And so we recorded it kinda old-school-ish, and I feel like it has that feeling of an older record.
I feel like it reminds me of this song by Springtime Carnivore [“Name On A Matchbook”].
Name On A Matchbook
Did you tweet that out today?
Yeah, I tweeted it out.
I checked that out! That’s a rad comparison. That’s a dope song.
I felt like it just really reminded me of that song.
When we wrote it, I was trying to think in the headspace of Colin Blunstone, of the Zombies, like, “What would he say here?”. I really wanted to write like a Zombies song. Especially like the — *sings* “ba-na-na-nuh oh but I don’t mind it / ba-na-na-nuh I can’t escape the air.” I really wanted to channel them in that. But yeah, it’s a fun song. It’s a lot of fun to play live.
I’m looking forward to hearing it live tonight. Thank you so much for your time and for sitting down with me!
Hearing a great record for the first time is much like seeing a great movie for the first time; once it’s over, you want to rewind it and experience it all over again. Los Angeles band WILD‘s stunning self-titled debut might just be that good, and speaking of movies, their refreshing acoustic-heavy indie pop sounds almost tailor-made for an indie film soundtrack. They have delivered a perfect execution of the genre, with perky guitar riffs, excellent melodies, and rousing vocals from lead singer Kristina Antuna.
‘Wild’ (released September 1) ranges dynamically, from tracks like “Ghosts”, “Long Road”, and “Roots”, which have a stripped-down, softer feel with a subtle boldness built around longing lyrics, to ones such as “For You” and “Coming Home”, which bring the energy and make you want to get on your feet, jump around, and sing or scream along. The band really hits its stride with the fuller-sounding “Bonnie And Clyde”, “Vagabond”, and “Back To You”. Though they have certainly demonstrated that they can make extremely moving, emotional music, the highlights of the record come in the times when they let loose and shout at the top of their lungs in emphatic unison. You can feel the passion and sweat come through from the air condition-less bedroom studio where they recorded the album.
To call WILD‘s music infectious would be an understatement. It’s catchy as hell, right up to the point where you would almost find it annoying, but it’s just so damn good you keep coming back. Just like that great film you want to see again and again, it never gets old.
We had the amazing opportunity to interview them about their origins, the new album, and the future. Listen:
In this episode you’ll hear their songs “Bonnie And Clyde”, “Vagabond”, “Back To You”, and “For You”.