Emmy Bachmann

Interview: Emmy Bachmann

We recently had a chance to get to know Emmy Bachmann, an Ohio native who moved to Nashville to pursue a career in music. Her debut EP Stranger has been charting well and making some noise on many of the charts, including ReverbNation.

Sean Elliot: How did you get started with music? Who or what initially put those instruments in your hands?

Emmy Bachmann: My life has revolved around music ever since I could remember. As a kid, I was that girl who put together neighborhood show choirs and wrote songs on the back of all my homework assignments. I remember asking my entire 7th grade class to sign a petition to stop the school from canceling the annual talent show. The night before the show my guitar player backed out so I grabbed my dads old Martin and stayed up all night teaching myself how to play. I haven’t been able to put it down since.Singing on that stage, guitar in hand was a significant moment for me because it was the moment I realized that music wasn’t just a childhood hobby for me. It was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Sean Elliot: Have you always been a singer, or did you find that you developed into a singer after learning to play the piano and guitar?

Emmy Bachmann: It all started with singing. I went to a performing arts school and learned music theory and all the basic vocal techniques. Then I took a few piano lessons and taught myself guitar mainly to accompany my voice and I also picked up the violin and ukulele. One day, I got tired of singing and playing the same sheet music so I started switching up the notes and writing my own songs.

Sean Elliot: What’s your hometown like? And how was it transitioning from Stow to Nashville?

Emmy Bachmann: It was definitely a big change for me. In my hometown, dreaming of being a musician is unheard of. When I moved to Nashville it seemed like everyone I met had some connection to the industry. Stow, Ohio is one of those towns that everyone can’t wait to get out of but the life I built there inspired my music and I go back and visit every chance I get.

Sean Elliot: Why Nashville?

Emmy Bachmann: I recorded and released “Stranger” here and I’m constantly surrounded by music. I needed a fresh start and I was ready to take my music to the next level so what better place than Nashville, Tennessee?

Sean Elliot: In your video for “Stranger”, there is a lot of imagery based around fire and gambling — were these ideas from you or your director, and how do they tie into “Stranger”?

Emmy Bachmann: My director (Fairlight Hubbard) and I talked and bounced ideas back and forth about “Stranger” months before we actually filmed the video. I wanted it to be symbolic. The flames represent burning the past and finding strength and power in letting go of someone who wasn’t good for me. I’ve realized that many of the songs I write are inspired by the element of fire. The gambling and king of hearts imagery was included in the video to show that cheating and lying is a risky game that rarely ends well for anyone involved.

Sean Elliot: You list a lot of artists that you feel your music is similar to (Lana del Rey, Adele, Alanis) but who are the artists that inspire you? Who did you listen to growing up?

Emmy Bachmann: I don’t want all of my songs to sound the same so I draw inspiration from several artists of different genres. Listening to country music has inspired me to add more specific detail into my lyrics and Christina Perry and Kelly Clarkson’s haunting melodies inspired the depth and darkness you’ll hear in my songs. I was only exposed to christian music as a kid and I find myself still pulling inspiration from Michael W. Smith and Toby Mac’s music even though listening to top 40 radio stations has made my music fit into the “pop” genre.

Sean Elliot: What has been your impression of the music industry so far? Is making music professionally how you imagined it would be?

Emmy Bachmann: It’s a roller coaster but I love the ups and downs. The music industry is always changing. There isn’t an exact science or a right path that leads to stable success or “making it.” It’s nothing like I imagined but totally worth it because after all the rejection and competition, I’m still making music everyday and I don’t love it any less just because it’s become more challenging.

Sean Elliot: With the success of your Stranger EP, what are your next steps? Are you planning on staying in the Nashville scene?

Emmy Bachmann: I’m kind of just going with the flow right now and following the music and opportunities as they come up. I’m performing a bit and writing a lot! I’m recording more songs and another music video soon and I’m hoping to travel and tour more in 2015 but Nashville is home for now.

Sean Eliot: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us!

Emmy Bachman: Thank you, too!

Emmy’s debut EP Stranger is available on iTunes and Amazon, and we are definitely looking forward to hearing what this talented young lady has in store for the future.

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Interview with Sydney Leigh

Earlier this week, we had the chance to chat with Sydney Leigh, an emerging pop artist who made her way onto our radar. Though Leigh is only fifteen, she is already making a name for herself with an amazing combination of vocal and writing talents.

Originally from the small town of Lake Orion, MI, Leigh balances her musical aspirations with the life of a normal teen — honors classes, learning a second language, and of course making time for friends and family.  Over the course of the interview, we learned a lot about Leigh and the path that brought her to where she is today.

Sean Elliot: Would you say that becoming a musician is your dream or aspiration in life?

Sydney Leigh: Yes, absolutely. I have never had a moment where music hasn’t been at the center of my life. I started taking vocal lessons when I was 5 and have loved it ever since.

Sean Elliot: Has it always been that way for you?

Sydney Leigh: I started writing my own music when I was 10 and that is when I knew being a musician was all I wanted to do. I have never thought about something in my life I would want to be doing other than writing and making music.

Sean Elliot: Do you see yourself more as a performer or a writer, or both?

Sydney Leigh: Definitely both, writing is where I can put my emotions into a song, and write something I am proud of sharing. Performing on the other hand is way more fun, I get to share something I am proud of and have fun doing it.

Sean Elliot: How did you go from taking lessons and writing some of your own music to getting connected with people in the industry and recording your EP in Los Angeles?

Sydney Leigh: I posted videos on YouTube and was scouted by a well connected person in the music industry. From there he helped me by setting up a meeting with a music industry mogul who was able to help me meet the producers I worked with (Nolan Lambroza/Steve Daly) and with co-writers, photographers, and video directors.

Sean Elliot: What was your reaction when they contacted you?

Sydney Leigh: It’s funny because at first I almost deleted the direct message that was sent to my YouTube account. When you have a YouTube account you will receive a lot of spam and people saying that they want to work with you, or can help you “make it”. When I saw this email me and my mom were very timid and apprehensive because we didn’t know who it was or what their real motives were. After several months of talking and finding out what great people they are we were very excited to work with them!

Sean Elliot: Let’s talk music. In Crazy Beautiful, there are a lot of references to light/dark — is there a reason behind this and what was your inspiration for the song?

Sydney Leigh: For “Crazy Beautiful” I wanted to write a song that related to my age group and was fun to listen to but had more to it than just the track. When writing the lyrics me and my co-writer thought about real life experiences in my everyday life and wanted to focus on inspiring people to be confident in who they are. The reference to “light/dark” was a way to use imagery to allow the listener to think of something that would normally be viewed as an opposite like “good times/bad times” and showed how the two can relate to each other and good can come out of bad situations.

Sean Elliot: What was it like shooting the video?

Sydney Leigh: Shooting the music video was so much fun! It was my first real experience of shooting a video. When I was on set it was very surreal because there were tons and tons of people on a set at 2 in the morning just for me and my music. The video was shot for 20 hours straight, it was a lot of work but definitely worth it, especially when it started raining :)

Sean Elliot: That’s crazy! Pretty legit!

Sydney Leigh: Yes! It was very fun!

Sean Elliot: Wrong Way Home is completely different than the other three songs — how did this happen? What was your inspiration?

Sydney Leigh: Wrong Way Home is my favorite song off of the EP, mostly because I am such a sucker for ballads. The EP was very pop, which I love, but a more stripped down powerful song is always my favorite. It’s ironic because I have never actually been in a relationship before so when I was writing this song and recording it I was definitely playing more of a “role”.

Sean Elliot: I definitely agree — it’s a much more powerful song, both because of the piano and the lyrics.

Sean Elliot: Who are some artists that have inspired you?

Sydney Leigh: Christina Aguilera is the reason I started singing, she is my favorite artist of all time. I always mention her but I truly love all of her music! I even know all the lyrics to her Spanish music

saturdaze

Saturdaze by Starcadian

I felt it necessary to take a listen to Starcadian’s latest, given that I still listen to Sunset Blood on the regular. Something about that album just makes it a great listen, whether it’s been a week or a month since I last heard it. Start to finish, it rocks. And now, Starcadian is back with a new 6 track accompaniment to Sunset Blood.

Saturdaze opens with “Ultralove”, a disco-inspired electronic cruise track. Much of what made Sunset Blood is still alive and well within the confines of this follow-up — this is a good thing. Plenty of guitar work, riffs, and throaty, digital vocals. At five minutes, one would expect the intro to drag on, but it never does. Screaming leads and nice breaks are interspersed throughout, ensuring that this one never lets up.

“Dance or Die” follows, owing its inspiration (theoretically) to the band from which it takes its name. The quirky mix of classical instruments, dance beats, and gothic-styled vocals that made Dance or Die who they were are here in spirit. Though Starcadian has certainly taken some artistic liberties, the 80s heart never ceases to transcend through everything he does.

“Money” is a nod to the marvelously gritty “Pompey Pirate”, with a healthy dose of minimalism (relative to other Starcdian tracks). This tune has some of my favorite synth choices, and really elicits a retro-nostalgia for me. YMMV, depending on when you were born (’82). The beat also managed to remind me of a hard disk error, repeatedly attempting to locate information that just simply does not exist. Obviously, there is a lot of room for interpretation within the album.

“Alien Victory” is what would happen if Top Gun and Life Force had a baby. Rousing and energetic, this is a story of triumph in the face of doom and despair. Plus, it’s got a riff that just won’t quit.

“Entoptica” vies for tops (along with “Ultralove”) for best original track of Starcadian’s latest offering. The pacing is phenomenal and builds a beautiful narrative arc in just a few minutes’ time. The arpeggios made me miss the longer, more cinematic Sunset Blood, but on its own, this album is still not to be missed.

Similarly, the Saturdaze remix of “Heart” made me nostalgic for the original, which is some kind of odd meta in that Sunset Blood is an album built on nostalgia. Weird. At any rate, Starcadian fans will certainly be happy with this latest set of tunes, albeit a bit sad that there simply isn’t more.

That being said, it’s better not to rush things, and I’d rather appreciate a slow trickle of fantastic music from artists like Starcadian in lieu of swaths of rehashed, unimaginative rubbish. You can grab Saturdaze over at Bandcamp for a buck a track.

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Hot Coals Cold Souls by Smoke Season

Though Smoke Season (Gabrielle Wortman and Jason Rosen) formed officially just over a year and a half ago, they have a poise and scope that reflects the maturity of a seasoned group. Perhaps it is for this reason that the pair have garnered acclaim from fans and critics alike following the release of their debut EP Signals last year.

To say that Smoke Season is a mash-up of sorts is a bit of an understatement. Pop, rock, electronic, Americana, and folk elements collide in an inspired way. Things kick off with “Badlands”, which reminded me at times of Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Civil Wars, and a handful of other artists.

Still, despite the influences that are at work in the music of Smoke Season, there is a flavor that is distinctly theirs. “Badlands” is a track with a lot of weight, and Wortman and Rosen push a lot of elements into this five minute journey. At the heart of things, though, is the American Southwest.

The pair switches gears with “Simmer Down”, which feels more inspired by the forward movement than a reflection of the Americana past. Kind of Celtic, with a dose of the 80s, and a hint of Bjork maybe? Smoke Season is certainly advocating for the power of the melting pot with tunes like this.

“Opaque” follows in a similar vein. 80s sounds coupled with modern day production and elements make this one another chronologically diverse piece. Wortman and Rosen impart a bit more focus into this one, however, making it a more emotionally-driven track than the meandering “Simmer Down”. Not without its surprises and twists, though.

Things close with the hidden track “Fools Gold”, easily the most experimental and cinematic of these selections. A warm fuzz echoes throughout, but there is a cool breeze blowing. Though the Southwest is alive and well in much of Smoke Season’s music, this one feels like the desert. Simultaneously hot and cold. A nice trek into the atmospheric.

In all, the winner here for me is “Badlands”. Hands down. Of the three genre cocktails offered up by Wortman and Rosen, this is the most balanced and rewarding. Not to say that there aren’t some really rewarding points in “Simmer Down” and “Opaque”, but “Badlands” is on another level. Powerful and true to the spirit of what makes folk music what it is, I’d love to hear more from these two like this.

EPs are for experimenting, for testing the waters, and for prefacing what’s to come, and with Hot Coals Cold Souls, Smoke Season has done just that, leaving us with four tracks that give us a glimpse into the forward-thinking minds of Wortman and Rosen.

 

 

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Ugly Heroes EP by Ugly Heroes

Another nice drop from the talented artists over at Mello Music Group. Ugly Heroes are Red Pill and Verbal Kent on the vocals and Apollo Brown on the production. Brown, a Michigan native, has built a sizable discography for himself over at Mello. Brown’s Thirty Eight that dropped earlier this year was just one more example of the seemingly limitless production skills this guy has.

Detroit native Red Pill makes up one half of the UH verbal assault, drawing heavily on the struggles and resilience that have made Detroit what it is today. On the other side of the coin, we’ve got Verbal Kent, who has been lyricizing about the many ups and downs of life for the better part of two decades. Kent’s out of Chicago, so this is a true Midwest package.

The first thing that Apollo fans will notice is that there is a pounding pulse to many of these tracks that is absent in other works. The soul-sampled vibe is here, but with a bit more punch. Definitely reminded me of Bink more than once or twice.

Kicking things off, “Legit Worthless” is a gritty look at the issues facing today’s youth. And when I say youth, I’m not talking about today’s teeny-boppers, but the youth of America that isn’t conforming to the standards and premises that have dictated what is to be expected of a “successful” American. The one word that stands out in the entire track — pressure — is exactly what this song is about. The pressure being exerted on an individual, the pressure that builds up inside of that individual, and the resulting release of that pressure.

“Good Things Die” trades the intimacy of “Legit” for something a bit more abstract. The themes are the same, but where “Legit” is experience-based and concrete, “Good Things Die” is all about analogy and the big picture. Though they lay down a lot of life lessons, these guys never sound preachy, which adds to their appeal.

Fellow Mello artist Oddisee contributes production work on “Low Seratonin”, a unique track that definitely switches the flow of this EP up about two thirds in. It’s kind of like eating candy, then eating something sour, then switching back to the sweets. Almost makes you appreciate both tastes just a little bit more than before.

“Me” is a favorite from this EP, with its minimal drum work and focus on lyrics. Really, this is a good analogy for this album as this track features a chorus that is poignant and easy to relate to and understand, and verses that are obviously relevant on a personal level to these guys. Plus, the chord progressions and instrument adsr is solid.

Overall, a quality addition to the Ugly Heroes discography. Between Apollo Brown’s pounding soul beats and the vivid pictures painted by Red Pill and Verbal Kent, almost every one of these tracks is a win. Oddisee’s feature doesn’t fit this puzzle, but manages to heighten the senses nonetheless. A very decent collab from a few of Mello’s hitlisters.

 

hibernation

hibernation by Sleep Cycles

[quote]my artist name is sleep cycles and it is me and a guitar and a microphone held between my legs because i lost my stand and some electronics[/quote]

This is how I was introduced to this album. When you get as many e-mail submissions as we do, it takes a special something to make an e-mail stick out. Something like this.

At times, it’s easy to believe that this album is really just a guy sitting on a bed with a guitar and a microphone held between his legs. There’s a lot of lo-fi and simplicity — the kind of simplicity that comes from just siting there and strumming along in your bedroom.

At other times, though, it’s not so easy to believe. Underneath the layer of lackadaisical whimsy that is at the forefront of hibernation, there is a lot of production. Reminds me of Beck in a lot of ways, just not as gritty and beat driven.

“cafe waltz”, the opening track is reminiscent of some more recent Thom Yorke stuff, though a bit more direct and cognizant. The melodies oscillate between melancholy stretches and percolating pops. This track is ultimately more inviting than much of the rest of this EP, so its placement is appropriate.

While the beats aren’t what make these tracks, they are often the icing on the cake. “chump” is fueled by the cyclical acoustic picking, but the dirty drums and triangle are a perfect accomplice. “just a couple” is in a similar vein — the rat-a-tatting of the percussion is a subtle but driving force in this tune.

Earning honors as my personal favorite, “pollen pickers” has the most substance of these eight tracks. Rather than becoming an extension of a concept like many of the other songs on hibernation, “pollen pickers” is a journey. Things work together well, the reverb is subtle, the silences not deafening, the beat submissive. “cafe waltz” lures you in, but this is the one to listen for.

In all, a nice album from Sleep Cycles. hibernation’s intensity isn’t immediately apparent, but is there if you have the ear and patience to find it. This is the kind of intensity that comes from limitations and the nature of expression that they ultimately produce from an artist. Name your price over at Bandcamp.