Lost and Found – An interview with indie hitmakers Lost In Los Angeles (LiLA), a Californian trio with bite and melody

Lost In Los Angeles – LiLA are an alt dream pop band from, you guessed it, Los Angeles, with influences as diverse as David Bowie’s spangly catsuit collection but a sound as succinct and insightful as a pocket collection of Oscar Wilde-isms, or Louise Brooks’ iconic bob (I couldn’t decide which simile was worse, so I opted to include both for any particularly fussy readers out there.)

Lost in Los Angeles

At once surreal and esoteric, and positively chart worthy, Lost In Los Angeles are likely to appeal to anyone with a pair of functioning ears. We (or rather, I – I am only one person) chatted to them about the benefits of staying independent, the success of their most recent video, their plans for the future, and the sentient being that is songwriting. Oh, and there are some damn fine tips for marketing your music so, if you’re not a marketing genius (unlikely), I’d strongly recommend you take five minutes to learn a little from three guys who know wtf they’re talking about.

Bands, Interviews ,

Melanie Edwards Finding a New Normal in Barcelona

Awarded an International Residency, Musical Scientist Melanie Edwards Travels to Spain to Put Finishing Touches on Her Children’s Book

melanie edwardsLast time we caught up with musical scientist Melanie Edwards, she had just come back home to New York from Costa Rica, where she had taken her traveling lab to make her sixth album, “Las Rosas”. Melanie has the habit of trying out new locations with more or less every project, so it wasn’t necessarily a surprise to hear that Melanie had spent the last few weeks in Barcelona working on something new. Edwards, who’s fluent in Spanish and even lived in Spain twelve years ago, was trying out something completely different this time around—she was there to create a children’s book with music to accompany it. Offered an international residency at Can Serrat in El Bruc, Barcelona, Edwards decided to open up her artistic vault and finish something she had started in grad school.

“I wrote and illustrated a children’s book called “The Seed That Made It Big/La Semilla Que Hizo Grande” nearly ten years ago,” says Edwards. “I never published it, just developed the story. I’m always searching for new ways to express myself via writing and music, plus a lot of my fans now have children of their own. So, I felt it would be a step in a new direction which would be both stimulating and challenging towards my usual approach and process.”

Artists, Singer Songwriter

Musical Integrity: Should Performers Only Be Creators?

Abstract: The music industry has always looked down on musical ‘faces’ who have nothing to do with music production or creation. Is this snobbery justified or are they different skills that should be treated with different forms of appreciation? Or should this distinction warrant a new kind of appreciation for creators – one that’s separate from admiration of the performer?

Here’s a (probably) familiar situation for any independent music fan (you are Y):

rihanna performing liveX: I love Rihanna; she’s so great

Y: Yeah, her music’s pretty fun, but she doesn’t write any of it so…

X: Who cares? She’s way better than [insert cool unsigned artist Y likes here]

Y: Well, at least they write their own music though – like, I have way more respect for people who actually write their own stuff.

X: But Rihanna’s such a great performer – she’s a part of the music without being a part of the music, if you get me.

Y’s defence is one I have used more times than I can count in my lifetime, and I doubt it’s one I’m likely to stop using, but, to be totally honest, it’s not one I’ve actually examined in much detail at all.

News, Resources , ,

Objectivity and taste: Should unpopular music mean worse?

I often read interviews in which musicians say things along the lines of ‘I only care about my fans – I don’t make music for critics; it’s all for the fans, man.’

While I am obviously a crazed music lover, I don’t often pay much attention to the ins and outs of what musicians say, unless I believe it will endow me with some insight and understanding of their music that I couldn’t get at from listening alone. This opinion, however, is far from uncommon in the music world and it got me thinking about the way we think about the quality of music and our judgement thereof.

As an independent music fan, it can be tempting to think of chart music as inferior, somehow in virtue of its wide appeal. Now, as unpleasant and snobby as this view undeniably is, what’s the alternative? To think of the charts and musical popularity as some kind of quality indicator? HA! No way.

xand yBut hang on! Why not?! Well, let me examine that. Here’s a few things we’ll need to have in place before I get going:

1. X is a major label artist who writes their own songs

Resources , ,

Pixies and their influence on the independent music scene

A week or so ago I received an email from Pixies’ mailing list. This was monumental enough in and of itself because I have been on Pixies’ mailing list for approximately a million years, and they send somewhere in the region of 2.2 emails a year, if that. The email was about their first new material in nine years, ‘Bagboy’, which in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, I’ll post here, because it has honestly been traveling through cyberspace faster than TRON (apologies to any sci-fi purists who don’t think this is an adequate or correct use of a TRON metaphor).

Artists, Resources ,

Alt-Rock Bluegrass Band Tornado Rose releases Dust in my Shadow EP

Dust in my Shadow EP embodies a full Parthenon of musical influences capturing aspects of Bluegrass, Rock, Folk, Blues, Red Dirt, Funk and Soul for a reverberant mix of substance and surprise. From melodic electric guitar riffs to the sweet sensibilities of an old time string band, Tornado Rose offers a fresh look at the evolutionary nature of music and transforms a wide spectrum of inspiration into pure musical fusion.

Dust in my shadow cd cover - Tornado Rose

Dust in my Shadow EP is streaming at http://www.tornadorose.com/Tunes.html – where an MP3 of the hit song ’80 Acres’ is available for free download.

“Dust in my Shadow EP represents a year of soul-searching, songwriting, and really coming into our sound as a band,” said vocalist Brooke Bell. “I feel like the luckiest girl alive to get to play in a band with some of the kindest, coolest and most talented guys I know. The hardest part of making Dust in my Shadow EP was picking the genre of music we fit into because the songs on the EP are so diverse. I would consider us alternative bluegrass, alternative folk, alternative rock, alternative alternative. It is so hard to classify our style that we don’t really care to.”

Album Release, Bands ,

The close relationship between the hipster and independent music

Defining the hipster:

Hipsters: nobody knows what they are; nobody will ever self-identify as one, but still, everybody knows that they hate them.

Well, I don’t, and if you’re a big fan of independent music, then neither should you.

Like any much-ostracized subculture, hipsters have found themselves the victims of an online target hate loop unique in its vitriol, unparalleled in its universality, and unprecedented in its weirdness. What’s to attack when you don’t know what you’re attacking? (Fig. 1)

hipster hate loop

Note how the class of hipsters and the class of non-hipsters both hate hipsters. This is just a way of saying that everyone in the world hates hipsters, or at least claims to do so.

It is an absurd wild goose chase of epic proportions because a) no-one knows what they’re attacking and b) the attacked attack and the attacked of the attacked attack and the attacked of the attacked of the attacked attack and so on, meaning this hate process probably looks more like an infinite regress spiral thing. (Fig. 2)

hipster hate spiralWhere this ends, as they say, no one knows. (Or where it begins, or where the middle is, or whatever else.)

News ,

Getting Lost in Costa Rica with the Roses and the Waves – Melanie Edwards Returns with Her Sixth Studio Album

Nine months after the release of Back to Basics, NYC-based musical scientist Melanie Edwards returns with her sixth album, entitled Las Rosas. Recorded over February and March of this year in San Ramon, Costa Rica, Las Rosas uses ambient sounds of the Costa Rican jungle as a backdrop. Edwards has the habit of choosing new production locations with every album she makes (the previous one, Back to Basics, had her recording in the woods in Finland), but Las Rosas seems to take the immersion further—the animals, ocean waves, and thunder actually play on this record. Shortly after her return to New York City,  I spoke to Melanie about Costa Rica, her new album, and perfectionism in the studio.

Singer Songwriter Melanie Edwards

You recorded your newest album, Las Rosas, in Costa Rica and used a lot of nature’s ambient sounds. How did the location fit in with what you wanted to create and express here? How did the ambient sounds fit in?

Interviews, Singer Songwriter , ,