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editor-in-chief sam keeler assistant editor jaycee rockhold photographers pamela ayala anna maria lopez nicole busch cooper fox marissa marino sam keeler marina labarthe jennifer machuca cover shot cooper fox writers jaycee rockhold jocelyn rockhold sam keeler design sam keeler
letter from the editor Local music has been something that I have always wanted to have a focus on with Half&Half. I think that some of the most talented individuals are found in local scenes, sliding under the radar. Having lived in Portland for the past few years, I really was uninformed on local music happenings and learning more about the scene opened the door to countless amazing bands living right in my city. Getting this together was a bit more challenging than I expected it would be, but canâ€™t wait to share the stories of some bands you may not have heard of before. This zine is something that I have been wanting to make happen for a while now and I am so glad that we can finally get this released. This wouldnâ€™t have been possible without the help of everyone involved, the bands, photographers, writers, and especially my assistant editor, Jaycee. We have so many more ideas for our next local issue after creating this and canâ€™t wait to dive into 2018 with fresh ideas. Now go ahead, and take a read...maybe you will find a new favorite band or the next big thing.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS PORTLAND 6-19 LOS ANGELES DENVER 52-65 66-75
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PHIladelphia 20-31 CHICAGO 32-51
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HUSTLE AND DRONE photos by sam keeler
Cathartic and synthy, Hustle and Drone’s music is a twist in synth pop that is sure to be the soundtrack to your rainy day drives through the city. We haven’t heard much from them in a while, but with a new album on its way, we sat down to chat with Portland based electronic trio, Hustle and Drone. We met at one of their favorite spots, Lay Low Tavern to discuss their history, halfnhalf.co | 8
what they’ve been up to this year, and what we can expect next. Alright so if you guys want to just talk about how you guys got started and met each other. Ryan N: Alright well we got started almost five and a half years ago out of the ashes of some other bands. We actually all grew up together in Salem, Oregon
one just kinda gets older and stops going to shows and stuff. But people keep trecking a long here in Portland. So in terms of the Portland music scene...do you guys like it? Are you really involved? Ryan N: I’d say we’re really involved when we’re playing lots of shows. But not if we’re recording or taking a break from a lot of shows. Usually I don’t go to a lot of shows I kind of like to take a break from the nightlife myself. I mean I still drink a lot but sometimes just giving my ears a break and just chilling is nice for me every couple months or so. Ryan M: I’m a homebody, I’ve turned into a homebody now that I’m older now. I like sitting in front of the fireplace at home instead of on a back patio. Andy: Yea it’s about the same for me. I mean I like seeing bands play and seeing friends bands play and supporting them but most of the time if I have a night off it’s pretty nice to just chill out.
we’ve known each other since we were wee little lads. And Andy joined a few years ago but it’s felt like he’s been a solid part of the unit the whole time. But yeah, started in Portland, grew up in Salem and yeah that’s kind of how it all went down. Cool, so coming from Salem to Portland, is the music scene a lot different?
Ryan M: There’s a scene. So the music scene doesn’t exist in Salem? Ryan N: It does but it is small. Portland is bigger. Yeah. There’s a scene but it’s just real close knit. Real small. A lot of the same people in the same 10 bands. Well not entirely but yeah it’s a lot smaller there and then everyhalfnhalf.co | 9
Ryan N: I guess I’m not really looking for shows to see but going to good ones when the support is necessary. Oh cool. Do you guys have some favorite local bands? Ryan N: Most certainly do! Yea And, And, And’s is a favorite of mine, Ice Queens as well. And Aan. Ryan M: Sama Dams. Andy: There’s a local artist called
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Beaver Gates, they’re like a jazz uh bass clarinet some kind of brass instrument and just like moving in experimental jazzy sound. It’s kind of weird but it’s really cool Ryan N: Can’t forget our top dogs the domestics and bonne Howard as well Ryan M: Yea top dogs! So you guys have an album coming out soon or sometime? Ryan N: Eh it will be finished. It’s being mixed right now so probably not till early summer. We will have to deal with all the PR stuff and trying to put it in the right hands but it’s almost done. You went to Alaska to record it? Ryan N: To finish it yeah. It’s been about a two year process of recording demos and refining demos uh but yeah we went to Alaska. Our friend Boon, we stayed at his parents house, and kind of built a studio in a garage loft on his parents property. And it was really really helpful just to escape and take it all in and not have to think about our jobs or anything back home. Ryan M: The next closest town was 15 miles away so we couldn’t even walk to a bar if we wanted to. Ryan N: We could walk to a porch that his dad built over a cliff and drink beers there. Does this new album sound similar to what you’ve released in the past?
Ryan N: There’s a lot of new things happening. I mean it sounds similar, it still sounds like our band. Nobody will be like “What the fuck is this?” But it’s a lot darker the tones are more thought out a little more precious I would say. It’s definitely a head phones album if you want to catch everything that’s going on. It doesn’t have the club bangers like the last one did. You can’t really say there was club bangers but...this one our parents won’t like as much probably. On the last one they were like “ooo this is nice son.” It’s a little more strange. Andy: Yeah we worked really hard to make more subtleties and make more of a listening experience opposed to a party record. Not like the last one was a party record. You guys are playing Sunday... you guys have played December to Remember for a few years now? Ryan N: This is our 4th year in a row yeah. Are you guys excited? Have you played with Portugal the Man. before? Ryan N: Yes many times. I actually played in Portugal the Man for 5 years so I have familiar uh let’s just say we’re friends we’re not fans. Not that I don’t like their music but... Andy: It’ll be fun. It’s gonna be like a homie show.
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What’s been your favorite December to Remember show to play? Andy: Glass Animals probably. Rya N: That was good but there was a snow storm so attendance was pretty low. Andy: Yeah besides that, that was poor timing. Ryan M: They’ve all been pretty cool. This one will probably take the cake though. Can’t speak too soon but we’re playing a bunch of new songs. And playing with one of the biggest bands in the world right now. Hard to top that. Shout out to my boys. Favorite venues here? Andy and Ryan M: Doug Fir Ryan N: Personally Bunk Bar is the most fun that I have. I know basically everyone that works there, sandwiches are good. Bunk Bar is a fun place to wait around before we play. But yeah Mississippi and Doug Fir. Crystal Ballroom is good too but it’s not often that we play there...December….sure makes it a month to remember. Okay for the last thing, describe your band in one word. Ryan N: Ketchup. A little sweet a little tangy goes well with a lot of things.
turtlenecked photos by sam keeler
With honest lyrics calling out the patriarchy, a healthy dose of memes on social media, and shows with bands like Omni under the belt, Turtlenecked is a Portland based band thatâ€™s raising a few eyebrows. The project of Harrison Smith, Turtlenecked is charming, sharp tongued, and a whole lot of fun.
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Have you always lived in Portland? No, I’m from Woodinville, Washington which is kind of in the middle of nowhere but I moved here four years ago for college. I go to Lewis and Clark right now. How did you start Turtlenecked? I’ve played violin since I was four basically and when I was 12 I quit and I picked up the guitar and then just kind of skewered around and played in random bands until college. Then I started writing songs the summer after my freshman year. Just did it for fun and then just kept doing it basically. You talk a lot about social media in you album. Are you super into social media? What are your thoughts?
equally. I don’t have any favorites. Whenever I’m in the process of working on a song I always get super excited and then I text my group chat and I’m like this is the best song I’ve heard in my life or best song I’ve ever made. And then once I release it or am close to finishing it, I just never want to hear it again and then it is out and I don’t want to listen to it. This zine is focused on local music, so I am looking for different perspectives on different music scenes. What is your perspective on Portland’s music scene? Some of my favorite bands are Lithics, I play in this other band called Boreen but it’s not really my project, Little Star is really great, Strange Ranger. I feel like I’m a
I really like instagram. I don’t like twitter as much because I never know what to say and I don’t want to just crack jokes all the time. Also I feel like occasionally I’ve almost tweeted things and I’m like I should just save that for a song like a lyric. I like facebook because it is a wasteland of memes. I don’t know it’s fine, I’m excited to see where it goes. I think it’s interesting how memes are the new advertising for music in many ways. Like official press and what not, sharing of memes and music related memes is so crucial to the spreading of culture. Off of your album do you have any favorites? Or do you love all of them equally? It’s more like I hate all of them halfnhalf.co | 14
weird person to ask because I feel like I’m not that involved in it. I’m not a scene type of person. I definitely go to the events and hang out with a lot of people from different bands that I like but I’m not like a DIY champion. For me, it’s more about my own projects. You have been playing shows with Omni and LVL UP. I have a booking agent named Greg. He books for a lot bigger bands than me and he found me last winter and was like hey do you want me to sign you. So he helps me get on those shows. Then I play a lot of local shows, like at The Know and local stuff.
Where is your favorite place to play? I do like The Know. I never got to play at the old location but I do like the new one a lot. It varies because I also like Black Water Bar, that one is cool. halfnhalf.co | 15
Do you have any 2018 plans? I graduate in the spring. Right now I am working on a new album, actually last night I just bounced everything to wav files so I have the whole mastering thing and the hopefully out in the summer. There’s no obscure lyrics, very narrative driven and to the point. It is a lot less punk and much more pop...but not pop punk. It’s a lot more electronic. I was influenced by not like soundcloud rap necessarily but you know Lil Peep? He passed away recently which fucking sucks but his music was such a big inspiration to me, it is such a wild aesthetic choice. All of these musicians are underground soundcloud rappers that don’t usually have a label or a huge team behind them usually so I feel like a lot of the stuff is off the cuff and super inconsistent but also the aesthetics are extremely mainstream pop driven in terms of the production and the quality and everything. I’m attracted to making music that doesn’t fit within the DIY or bedroom music realm within those constraints because I think it is more interesting than making a mopey lofi folk album or something. This album is very bombastic and self produced.
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Soulful and pop based but with a sharp punk edge, Sunbathe is self described as “real music, from a real person, feeling real feelings”. Listening to lyrics from the band, this is certainly applicable. One song blatantly states “there you go again, you want to be my friend. But anyone can see I don’t need anymore of them”. The band, made up of Maggie Morris, Pieter Hilton, Jenny Logan, and Shannon Rose Steele, Sunbathe evokes the same feelings one would get from bands like Girlpool or Bully.
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How did you first get into music? I first got into music because my cousin had a guitar at his house and I decided I wanted to save up and buy one. My parents ended up buying me one for Christmas and I’ve just been playing ever since. The first three years I played only in my closet, I was very, very, very shy and I met someone in high school that also played so she got me to play with her and we started a band slowly. You moved to Portland in 2010, Is that when you started really getting into music or were you involved in the Sacramento scene? I played a lot in Sacramento. After my high school band broke up I was like 19 and I just started playing by myself and would get a back up drummer, usually just a two piece if anything. I stayed in contact with my friend from high school that drummed in the band and he had moved to San Francisco and we had kind of had been following each other for a long time so I would play with him and eventually he moved here. So do you guys still play together? Yeah! He is actually now in all 3 of the bands I play in. So you play in three bands, what are those? Sunbathe, Genders, and I play bass in Death List which is the bass player for Sunbathe so we have a little exchange.
We are kind of all just in each other’s bands. You just released a solo album with Sunbathe, how did that come together? It stemmed from a lot of bedroom records that I had always been working on that didn’t necessarily fit with what Genders was doing. We came back from a tour and everyone wanted to take a break and I did not want to take a break so I got together with my friend and just put it together. I didn’t even have a name for the project, I just wanted to have something I was working on. Something that I could have that was mine no matter what, something that I can always tour with if no one wants to go. Do you prefer playing and writing for your solo stuff or working in a band with other people? I think I prefer doing the solo projects more just because it’s what I’ve always done. I’ve just written songs in my bedroom and arranged them. Genders is cool because it is forcing me to be a better guitar player and that is a different side of being a musician for me. It’s a little more challenging and out of my comfort zone. What are your thoughts on the Portland music scene? I love it. I love playing here. I’ve met so many musicians that are really supportive and going to everybody’s shows all the time. It’s a really nice community. It’s
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a good place to call home. But it’s also hard to get out sometimes. It’s funny I just played this show in Seattle and ended up meeting all of these industry people there and I was like ‘wow, this is why people move to Seattle’. You can actually meet people from a record label that would put out your record and take care of you and there’s not really the industry here. So it’s more just about the community, which is really great, but you kind of have to work harder if you want to do anything more than play around town. Aside from that, there’s so many fun venues and a lot of places that really take care of you. What are some of your favorite venues here? I have fallen in love again with the new Know. It’s probably my favorite place to play and they take care of you. It was kind of scary when they closed the old one, like that was an important place for me. But they actually found a better spot. Ah and The Fixin’ To in St. John’s. The owners are so nice and they just really appreciate musicians there. There’s some places where you show up and the bands are an afterthought and they aren’t concerned with paying you or feeding you and you are just kinda there, but there are very good vibes at The Fixin’ To On that note, what are some of your favorite Portland bands? I really like my bandmate Jenny’s other band,Miss Rayon Post punk kind of really awesome I can’t really describe it, probably one of my new favorites because there’s not a whole lot that sound like them in town. Turtlenecked, he is so talented. So fun to watch. halfnhalf.co | 19
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COLD FRONTS photos by pamela ayala
Philly based, catchy as hell, and the next indie rock band that’s going to make your end of the year playlist, Cold Fronts is a band that most certainly earned a slot in our local zine. Consisting of Craig Almquist, Joe Killian, Max Steen, and Alex Luquet, the band has played anywhere from a street corner in Austin, Texas to venues in their hometown. Start off with a brief explanation of your history with music, like when you started playing and how you got to this point. I’ve been playing music since I was kid. I’ve alway collected records and wrote band names all over my books in high school. I feel like I literally always knew I wanted to be in a band. I started drumming around 6 or 7, and then learned to write songs around high school on guitar and piano, and through college have been teaching myself how to record things. Earlier you guys released a single, Never Been to Paris. Can you tell us about this song? Well we had been writing and recording a lot so we decided to record with this guy Ayad in New York who just opened up a really cool studio. We did like five songs there. My favorite place to be is in the studio because we always halfnhalf.co | 22
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just have fun hanging out. To me recording is not supposed to be stressful at all so our process is a lot of making each other laugh and just having fun. I wanted these new batch of songs to sound closer to how we sound live so a lot of it was just getting good live takes. I wrote the song in my bedroom and it’s kind of about wanting to get out of my bedroom and travel. What is the local music scene like here in Philly? Philly’s cool because there are places to practice and tons of cool spots for shows. It’s also small so you sort of get to know
everyone. On top of that, there’s a lot of people moving here so you get people from all over. Since I’ve moved here, there are a number of new venues and recording studios. It’s a fairly affordable place to be an artist which is also cool. There are a lot of DIY venues here, which is sick. When we first started the band we rented a practice space that wasn’t connected to any residential buildings so we started throwing shows and built a stage to pay the rent. That’s the type of stuff I feel like you can still do in Philly. Do you find it beneficial to be so close to New York City, do you guys go there often?
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Yeah, I go up there all the time! We recorded our last record there for three weeks and lived in manhattan. It was cool to walk to the studio and be in a different environment than Philly, less distractions. I like to walk around and listen to music on my headphones and New York is really great for that.
Dominic Angelella, Lithuania, The Tough Shits, Spank Rock, The Districts and Laser Background. What’s next for you? What can we expect to see from you as we finish up 2017?
Well we’re gonna put out a couple more songs and then we’re gonna announce a What are some of your favorite bands new record. I’m really excited about all the that got their start in Philly (if you have stuff we’re about to put out. The records any) and what are some of your favorite gonna be called Fantasy Du Jour and it’s local bands here currently? a much more personal album, has a more nostalgic sound. I’m really proud of the There are: Hall and Oates, Todd Rundgren, way it turned out. Dr. Dog, Vexxed, Sheer Mag, Hop Along,
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bruno photos by pamela ayala
former belle spirit haus cruisr
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Bruno Catrambone is a jack of all trades, dabbling in multiple genres of music while performing with a smatter of different projects. Taking an interest in guitar when he was a teenager, Catrambone soon found himself playing in bands like Former Belle, opening up the door to allow him to play in others like CRUISR and Spirit Haus. Catrambone was able to find time in his busy schedule to answer a few questions Half&Half had. Can you just start off with a brief explanation of your history with music, like when you started playing and how you got to this point and what not. I started messing around with music stuff as a teenager. I wish there was some lovely little story to go with it, but it was really just my fascination with the guitars my Dad had laying around the house. I grew up around music with my family and remember them all playing Rocky Raccoon together in my uncle’s attic; little things like that made me super curious about the guitar. I didn’t get my first guitar until I was about 13 and didn’t start learning much until I was 14. I moved to a different state when I was in middle school, which means I didn’t have any friends. Everyone already had their friend groups and I was just sort’ve the ‘weird new kid’. I remember nerding out over this live John Mayer session I taped onto VHS and used to sit in my Mom’s room in our little townhouse and play guitar in front the mirror from the time I got home from school until basically bed time. I used to pretend I was playing these huge shows, it was my favorite thing to do seeing as I didn’t have any friends. I did that all throughout high school and eventually went to college and studied some jazz and started getting into songwriting. After that, I moved back to the Pennsylvania burbs and into Philly and started Former Belle which then led to joining CRUISR and forming the little side projects that came after that. You have a lot of projects that you work on (Former Belle, CRUISR, Spirit Haus). Can you tell us about each of these and your role within each one? Former Belle is my little baby. I started writing some of that stuff in college with one of my best friends, Pat. That project was basically what got me obsessed with writing and demoing at home. I know that’s pretty standard but it was my little home and it’s something that’ll I’ll probably always do. I feel like it’s more ‘intimate’, introspective writing for me with some folky, singer-songwriter roots. It’s like buying your first guitar, you try and hang onto it as long as possible even if it’s just laying around in the basement somewhere. halfnhalf.co | 27
CRUISR kind of fell into my lap from playing shows around the city. Former Belle played a couple of shows with CRUISR and I met them just from the philly scene and crossing paths at different shows and eventually they asked if I wanted to play guitar. It’s one of those things that I feel lucky to do because it’s a style of music that is completely different than what I was previously doing but it’s stuff in the same vein of stuff that I have a soft spot for. I’ve always tried to be involved in anything that I enjoy and this has always been that fun, happy, poppy stuff that i’ve always loved listening to; so for me, it was a given that I wanted to team up with and join in on what they were doing. It’s been nothing but fun and lets me write and play in a different style that I’m super interested in but didn’t know too much about yet. Spirit Haus fell somewhere in there as a weird, trippy recording project I just did at home in my little music room. I was listening to a lot of different things and started messing with running my acoustic through some pedals into my amp and experimenting with some lofi recording stuff I fell in love with. It really just turned into a fun computer recording project I did when I had free time. It let me write on my laptop on the road and when I was just hanging around at home. I just sort’ve post stuff online whenever I feel like it with that project. I have some finished stuff and then I seem to stumble on it, mix it again and then post it whenever.
CRUISR. The paths definitely cross which is so fun about doing a couple things at once. Most of what I do is just in my house on my computer with a couple of mics, so anything I can mess with and incorporate new sounds and techniques usually makes my head spin and keeps me busy for a while. You seem to be pretty involved with Sofar Sounds, can you tell us about that? I love Sofar. That concept and idea and how it was brought to life is so amazing. Anyone who gets in front of a room of people with just their instrument and their songs can appreciate when everyone there is there to listen and take in the show and the music and it’s overwhelming how supportive that entire thing is. It’s dreamy, really. People sign up and want to be there and want to listen. It’s quite the change from a chatty bar when you’re almost in tears trying to get through a song that broke your heart to write. My friend Carolyn Lederach got me pretty involved and booked Former Belle at handful of the Sofar shows. I did a small acoustic tour last fall and played a few of them in different cities in the South East and it was so cool to see that no matter which city you play a Sofar in, they are all supportive scenes everywhere you go. I’ve been super lucky and grateful to be a part of these. Top 3 songs you are listening to right now?
These all have fairly different sounds, do you ever find elements from one project sneaking into another or do you find yourself keeping everything very separate?
K. - Cigarettes After Sex Bobby - (Sandy) Alex G Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s - Broadripple is Burning
I have definitely found certain things making their way into each project from the others. I’ve learned a lot about different pop elements and pop sounds from the CRUISR stuff that started sneaking into the Former Belle and Spirit Haus writing. Some of the different writing styles, progressions and synth/ guitar sounds were super fun to mess with in my other projects once I started playing with
This entire zine is focused around local music...can you give us some insight as to what the local music scene is like here in Philly? The Philly music scene is so great and it seems to continue growing all of the time. It’s super inspiring to see all of the great things coming out of Philly and also makes you work that much harder to be involved and stay involved.
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I try and get out of the house as much as I can to support my friends - it seems like there's always a show going on somewhere which I feel like that shows that people want to come through Philly and play here which is another thing to be proud of. I love seeing so many different venues and outlets here for people to play and it seems like there's always someone willing to help and put on a show or host a band or book a bill. There are so many different scenes in different parts of the city that I probably don't even know about but it kinda goes to show that the music scene is strong and versatile and offers a place for people to create and I love that. What are some of your favorite venues in Philly? I think I speak for many others when I say Johnny Brenda's is one of my all-time favorites. The sound, the atmosphere, the venue, everything is just so spot on; it feels right every single time we get to be there. I've always had a great time at Ortlieb's as well, I love what they've done over there and I always end up having an awesome night at that spot. The Fillmore as well as Union Transfer are some of the bigger spots I love to see some of my favorite bands play. I love the shows they have come through and again, they just do it right and the atmosphere in both is always comfortable and enjoyable every time I've seen a show there. Who are some of your favorite bands that got their start in Philly (if you have any) and who are some of your favorite local bands here currently? I'd say, Kurt Vile is definitely a philly staple for me. I've been listening to him for a few years but it's hard not to think about Philly and the music here when you mention Kurt Vile. Also, I know I was a little late on this, as I am with a lot of the music I find, but (Sandy) Alex G is one of my favorites right now. Really can't get enough of his writing and the way the songs are put together and recorded, I love it. Been listening a lot to the new Districts album as well, so freaking good. My friend Wes's band, Suburban Living just put out a new album a little bit ago which is totally awesome and theyâ€™re some close friends of mine, love them. The Lawsuits are another Philly band I adore; such great people making great music - one of my favorites to play with.
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Uma Bloo photos by marina labarthe When I meet Molly Madden, Uma Bloo as her moniker, it’s a cold, cloudy day. When Madden sits down beside me, hot tea in hand, her sunny demeanor instantly lightens the coffee shop. Besides performing burlesque and singing as Uma Bloo, participating in the Bittersweets Art Collective, and studying at Columbia College Chicago, Madden has been going through her own personal transformation, breaking out her shy shell to encompass what she truly cares about; music.
Have you mostly played basements and DIY shows?
Who is recording and performing with you?
It’s me and then Stef Roti is drumming. It’s a three piece so Mike Altergott (bass) is playing. He’s done work for the band Fran and some others.
Would you say there is a music scene in Cleveland?
Did you met Stef through Yoko and the Oh No’s shows? If not, how did you meet everyone in the band? It’s so funny. I wrote for Queen Bitch [magazine] and Yoko played the magazine launch party. We didn’t really talk until she saw a video of mine and approached me and asked if we wanted to play together. I have yet to see you play. In August I went crazy. I played like 12 shows and basically did a tour of the city, just playing in random places because I was still so nervous. I wanted to make it normal.
It’s been a mix of places. I played my first official show last December when I was still acoustic. That was at Subterranean. I’ve played Schubas, I’ve played a cabaret, I’ve played a show that was between plays. Then yeah, I have played a couple of basements. Kind of all over the place? Remind me where you are from again.
I’m not really sure. When I was in 8th grade, everyone I knew was in scream bands. Pop punk was a big thing. I never really got into it. It was much more aggressive. Would you say you go to more shows now that you’re in Chicago? Oh yes. Was there not really an opportunity for you to get involved with music while you were at boarding school? Oh no, they keep you busy. Every day you have something to do so they can keep kids accounted for. They have art in the afternoon you could do for a season. They had music, but it wasn’t something that people took seriously.
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Everybody wanted to play lacrosse and listen to Avicii. It was very isolated. I didn’t know Pitchfork was a thing, or any music sites. I listened to the same Cure album all the time. I had a teacher who went to Berkeley and I loved him. It was kind of straining because it was very by the book. He gave me one of the biggest compliments even still. I was kind of writing songs, but he compared me to Joni Mitchell. At the time I didn’t really realize the magnitude of how nice that was to say, so I just thought I was stupid. When I first met you, you weren’t playing and creating music. Well, you were at least not playing shows. It was my big secret. Even when my roommates were home I wouldn’t play. I was so afraid. I was going to shows all the time. It’s like when you love something so much it just terrifies you. I respect music so much as a craft that it seemed like me pursuing it almost seemed disrespectful if I wasn’t going to be amazing at it. I’d go and see all these people play and get so jealous. I would get so angry that I wasn’t doing it. It’s watching somebody you really love kissing somebody else that’s potentially hotter and cooler than you are. When you have a need and you’re not following it, at a certain point it just has to happen. I was reading about the “imposter effect” which is when you feel like you don’t know enough or aren’t good enough, but you do have all these accomplishments. Yes, since the years went on, it seemed even more like other people have been doing this for so long, I don’t know. The immensity of what you’re taking on is overwhelming. How long have you been playing guitar? I started playing when I was 8. I started playing then and then there was a hiatus that happened for a while because my parents wanted me to play basketball for some reason. When I was 14 or 15 I started doing lessons again and trying to figure things out at home. Lessons only lasted
a little bit before I did my own thing. It gave me such anxiety that I had to go in and perform for a person. I’ve really been playing intensely for the past five years. The instrument itself was introduced to me at a really young age. Did you also start singing at a young age as well? I was always singing. My parents loved the movie Bridges of Madison County. My parents loved soundtracks. My parents weren’t big music listeners so I had the Shrek soundtrack, the Lizzie Macguire soundtrack…Totally slaps [laughs]. I would walk around the house singing a track [Blue Gardenia by Dinah Washington]. Oh my god, I was so weird. I was still really shy about. You know when you’re a kid and you just do it. But when I got into elementary school I was still really into singing and we had this really big backyard and I literally would pretend the trees were my audience. It was literally the fucking Sound of Music. She would spin around singing and that’s what I would do. I remember my neighbor saw me and I literally gasped and ran in the house and never did it again [laughs]. Do your parents know how many shows you play and about your music? I don’t know if they know how involved I am. I went to boarding school the last two years of high school so I’ve been out of the house since I was 16. I went home for a summer and was working all the time and I came here and started to do burlesque. Do you still do burlesque? I still do it, mostly now for self-care. Burlesque was really the catalyst to get me to do music. You have to confront yourself. It’s funny because I would get so nervous playing music but I could strip for strangers and that was fine. But singing? No. Terrifying. But yeah, my parents are really supportive. I just don’t know if they can keep up. They’ve always known that music is something that I really care about.
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When I first walk into Connor Brodner’s home, The Nightmare Before Christmas is playing on TV and Jack Dolan and a few friends lounge on the couch that sits in the middle of a large, sunlit living room. Posters plaster the long hallway and a multitude of instruments can be glimpsed throughout various bedrooms. Nestled right outside Chicago’s own Humboldt Park, Twin Peaks, consisting of Cadien Lake James, Jack Dolan, Clay Frankel, Colin Croom, and Connor Brodner, meets with Half & Half for a quick interview. Twin Peaks has been a staple in the Chicago DIY music scene for the past few years. Between playing sweaty (and sometimes painfully hot) basement shows, to New Year’s Eve parties in an old church (the former Young Camelot), and drinking a few too many beers at venues like the Empty Bottle, the band has released a few records, toured with the likes of Cage the Elephant, and have been written about in publications like Pitchfork and the Rolling Stone. Sitting on Brodner’s back deck on a sunny, winter afternoon, the band seemingly still has the vivacious spirit they started the band with. After recalling a hazy night at the Empty Bottle the night before that relied on shrooms, booze, and local music, the Twin Peaks boys shuffle in at random to talk the DIY scene, recording at Treehouse records, and how far they’ve come.
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Are you all from the city of Chicago? Cadien Lake James: Colin is from Dayton, Ohio. He’s a transplant, but this is his home. What neighborhoods did you all grow up in? James: Me and Jack [Dolan] grew up in Rogers Park. Connor Brodner: I grew up in Ravenswood Manor. Jack Dolan: Clay grew up in Lakeview. Almost Wrigleyville, basically. And then some of you left Chicago and went to college for a little bit, right? Brodner: Three of us went to college together. James: That’s where I found out
about mushrooms (laughs). Getting an eighth of mushrooms is as cheap as getting an eighth of weed. Dolan: It was unbelievable. That school was in Washington? Dolan: Yes, Olympia, Washington. Did Clay and Colin also go to school? Dolan: Clay went to USC. But we were all there [in college] for like three months. What were you all studying? James: It’s hard to say. Dolan: Evergreen is kind of like a hippy school, like no grades, no real set degree, kind of make your own major. Clay got into some film program at USC. .
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So what made you guys decide to be drop out and go grab Clay and come back here? James: Essentially, we just got a record deal (from Autumn Tone Records), that was the catalyst. Brodner: We were driving out there and we were in that blue van out there (points to the parking lot). Us three and our three dads. We got the call when we were driving out. What a trip that was (laughs). Speaking of family, did you all find yourselves exposed to music when you were younger? Were any family members musicians? James: I think all of our families, especially our dads, listened to a lot of music. I know Jack and Clay and Colin too…I mean, my mom as well, but my dad was really into music. He has like a thousand vinyl at home. I grew up on a lot of my mom showing me 60s rock and my dad showing me the blues and soul. Would you guys say that influenced the type of music you play today or was that more of a natural process? James: Probably more of the latter but just having the music around is probably why I got into playing. I have siblings who all played as well. My brother gave me a 8 track digital recorder that me and Jack made our first song on. We made Sunken using it. Dolan: That thing was great. James: Yeah dude, it’s busted. It
works but I have to get the down button fixed [band starts laughing]. I can’t get to that first song we ever made. “Just Tonight” is on there, hidden deep Brodner: “Just Tonight”? That was the first one? [starts singing the beginning of the song]. Oh my god, how old were you, like thirteen? Dolan: We were twelve or thirteen, yeah. I probably sound like a little girl. James: You definitely did [band laughs]. I don’t think I ever want to hear that again. Dolan: I would probably be the most embarrassed by that. It’s my song, my lyrics, my voice. James: You can listen to it in a private room and then break the down button again. Where was the band’s first show? Brodner: It was at No Exit. It was his dad’s eater spot right by his dad’s old restaurant. We played a couple of shows there. I think we did two a night once, too. James: Did we really? Brodner: A back to back. James: Tight. We practiced a week straight before our first show, smoking Newports…getting so high. Dolan: Yah and smoking swishers, just without weed in it. Now you have Treehouse Records and other spaces, but halfnhalf.co | 42
where did you first find yourselves practicing and recording? Brodner: All at Cadien’s house, in his attic. Dolan: (to Brodner) And your garage. Brodner: We moved to my garage later on. But attic, then basement. James: In my parent’s house there is still a piece of paper taped to the attic door that says “Twin Peaks Bat Lair”. Dolan: What about the fish bowl? James: Oh yeah, there was this fish bowl. Dolan: We had been smoking out of it for so long and we’re like ‘this is crazy’, we should try to clean this out. The whole time there was this rusty nail stuck into the bowl and we had no idea. Brodner: I have never seen a pipe like that [whole band laughs]. We were just smoking a nail for years. Dolan: That was just the beginning. How would you say it’s differed recording now that you have access to more equipment? Has the process you guys use changed at all? Brodner: I don’t think the process of recording has changed. We’re still tracking the same.
Dolan: I would say we just get better at it.
James: Matt and Bear really came in clutch.
James: The principles are all the same . Do you guys mostly record at Treehouse now or where do you find yourselves? Brodner: Yes, we have our own space over there now. We’re there primarily. Dolan: When our studio got…Well, we basically got evicted from our studio. Treehouse really helped us out. We had to all of the singles, otherwise we wouldn’t have had anywhere to go. James: It was very fucked. We were on tour this May and we had this practice space in a warehouse and we were doing the singles stuff. People had already paid for the whole package and then we get evicted. The building was sold. Dolan: They sold the building and then we got robbed. [whole band laughs]. It was crazy. But Treehouse really helped us out.
Colin Croom walks up to the porch and Jack takes this chance to try to bum a cig. I know some of you have side projects. Like Cadien is working with Finn Wolfhard. James: Oh yeah, I recorded his band. We did that at our studio. Treehouse always has the coolest shit going on. Dolan: They’re dope as fuck. They’ve put all this money and time into it. Matt [Geiser] is pretty young too, isn’t he? James: Yeah, he’s our age! He’s 23. It’s fun because our studio was the last expansion he had room for. It was kind of a celebratory thing for him. Once he did it he was like ‘I can’t build anything else now’. We came and visited before they built
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their main Studio A and they were working out of this smaller space. They told us to come check it out and we were like ‘this is cool’ and then a year later they have this huge, beautiful space they built themselves. And since then, now there are all these practice spaces and our spot. It’s been really cool watching them. They just get it and have a put a lot of good out into the world and it’s coming back their way. They’re really kind dudes. Dolan: We did a live thing over there [with Consequence of Sound]. And now you guys have been releasing the Sweet ‘17 Singles, or have just recently finished releasing them. James: They’re all out now. It was once a month basically, a lit-
tle more often than that. There’s a 12’ compilation coming out in February for it and we’ll have had our shows and all that before then. How do you think releasing the singles across a few months benefitted the band in comparison to releasing an LP all at once? James: I think there’s two main things, to me. One, it just takes the pressure off, like ‘oh, here’s our fourth record’. There aren’t reviews or anything. It’s a little more for the fans and I think it was really fun for fans to get it once a month and have songs to look forward to. All the songs didn’t have to fit together, it was just all these little ideas. It was a fun way to put out music without too much pressure. I’m sure it works well with your halfnhalf.co | 44
schedule too, especially since Twin Peaks is touring constantly. Dolan: That was also a thing. It wasn’t part of the reason why we did it, but it ended up really working in our favor. We did everything in between tours. It kind of reminds me of how Jay Reatard put out singles. James: That’s also why we did it. I was fucking psyched every time he put out a new single. I just remember that excitement as a fan of him. Colin Croom: I don’t know many other people who have done that. People would do that in the 60s and shit. And you would have subscription services to record labels and they would send out singles.
James: A lot of times that was by the label and not the band. Croom: Yes, for bands to singularly do that, I think Jay [Reatard] was one of the first to do it which was rad. It’s a cool way to release music and to keep people happy. Dolan: Sometimes if I’m on twitter and I see things that I follow post shit about Twin Peaks, like Consequence of Sound, it’s like ‘listen to the last of the Twin Peaks singles series’ and I’m like ‘that looks really cool’ on a Twitter. Sometimes you see some shit and you’re like ‘that’s kinda lame’ [laughs]. Do you guys follow news about you closely online? Dolan: Stuff will pop up. James: I’m a slave to the fucking
game [laughs]. Croom: I feel like we have a schedule of releases so generally that day I’ll go look and go on Twitter.
James: It all kind of flowed coherently. Croom: It doesn’t really make sense to me, but it somehow all works together.
Dolan: I feel like it depends on which account you’re on. The three of us at least [James, Dolan, and Croom] have our separate Twitters or whatever. If you’re on our [Twin Peaks] Twitter, then of course it’s constantly updating with notifications and shit. It’s more fun when you see it on your own.
James: We were trying to make our best shit. It wasn’t like we were trying to make a crazy fucking record.
Croom: It’s funny. People will be like ‘the world is going to shit but there’s one more Twin Peaks record coming out’ [all laugh].
James: If we take a break I’m gonna go broke [all laugh].
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Are you planning on putting our even more music next year or are you taking a break after the release of the Sweet ’17 Singles compilation?
Croom: We’re working on music, hopefully it’ll come out next year. Dolan: That shit is so crazy because it’s like…
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Brodner: Finding time, ya know? Like when we get back from touring. It’s remembering how to be at home and then diving into it. It’s hard to set that up. We make it work. We jam pack most of the time we have. Dolan: The cool thing about the single is that it takes so damn long to put a record out. It’s like 8 months. Brodner: By the time it comes out, you’re like ‘damn, I’m ready to move on’. I saw that you guys just announced a tour with The Districts and you’re going on tour with Portugal. the Man. You’ve also been on tour with Cage the Elephant. Three or four years ago, would you guys have even thought that you would be touring with all of these big name acts? James: Hell yeah. I knew we were gonna get it. I didn’t know who it would be, but I knew. Brodner: I didn’t talk about it, but I always wanted to do it. Dolan: I didn’t think we would be playing in arenas and shit. That part took me by surprise for sure. Croom: Arenas, buses… Dolan: We’ve never had a bus, only been on the bus…Or around the bus [all laugh]. Brodner: Something about getting fucked up in the back of those arenas are pretty cool. Dolan: I didn’t own a skateboard but I was skateboarding all the
time. Brodner: We’re used to being a fucked up tiny green room. Dolan: With like, Fritos [laughs]. We got to play on Louisville’s basketball court. We got to run around the Seahawks stadium. I don’t think we ever thought that big, but we’ve always aimed pretty big. We’ve wanted to do this for a while. James: We worked hard for a really long time. I get surprised by the forms it takes but I always knew we’d get somewhere with it. Dolan: The trajectory has been slow, but it’s been good. Speaking of touring, I feel like it’s cool to get to visit all these places, but you never really get to settle into the city you’re touring.
ple listen to us, but it’s not something I feel obligated to do. James: I think the only reason why I feel like it’s a duty is because it’s personal for me. Our friend Quinn has this really cool service she’s starting called “State Matters”. Look it up, it’s great. I always respect motherfuckers who go out there and talk about it. You influence these people. I used to think that bands who sang about politics were lame, or bands that were involved with politics were lame. I realized that’s bullshit. What are some Chicago bands that you have been listening to recently? Dolan: Dude, we went to the Glyders Deeper and Dehd show last night. That was stacked as fuck. James: They were all phenomenal. Knox [Fortune] is awesome.
Brodner: That’s very true. Revisiting them so many times though, like Austin. We’ve been there like twenty times.
He is playing with you around New Years, right?
Dolan: You get to know places over time.
James: I heard about this band called Grapetooth [Frankel’s side project], the suck.
Going back to the comment Colin made earlier about the world ending, do you think since you have the platform as a band, do you think you have the duty to talk about topics like what’s going on politically, or is it just more personal interest being reflected? Twin Peaks is pretty politically active online. Dolan: We’d probably be doing that regardless. It helps that we have the platform and that peohalfnhalf.co | 47
Frankel: Hey, fuck you! [laughs]. They do suck though. It’s cool that you have different openers for every night for your New Year’s Eve Thalia Hall run. James: It’s all about putting our homies out because all of our homies are really talented. It’s more fun to tour and play with your friends. It’s all about being with your buddies all the time.
Among one of the first bands I ever interviewed, Modern Vices is one of the most promising, if not the most, bands to come out of the city of Chicago. Comprising of Miles Kalchik, Thomas Peters, Peter Scoville, Alex Rebek and Patrick Hennessey, the band initially formed with the intent to simply make an album. However, the band now has a cult following and turnout at every show, stirring up mosh pits and a boisterous energy in the crowd. Where did you all meet? We all met in high school (excluding Pat and Thomas who are cousins) through mutual friends and being involved with bands from a young age. How would you describe the Chicago music scene now in comparison to when you first started the band? The Chicago music scene is still as “involved” as it was when we started in that I feel like every band is aware and supportive of what everyone else is up to. There is definitely a spot light on Chicago right now and it’s
amazing to see bands like Whitney, NE-HI, and Post Animal having made such huge strides in the last couple years - in addition to Twin Peaks obviously repping Chicago in everything they do. There is so much camaraderie between bands here and getting to hang out with everyone regularly at shows and house parties is something I definitely try not to take for granted. The only comparison is that there is even more of a healthy drive for bands to write and record their strongest material because there’s just so much talent in the scene. What are some of your favorite DIY spaces/ venues in the city to play at? We all really like the old observatory and the loft space below it because of that rooftop. Our favorite venues to play are Schubas and the Empty Bottle. Cole’s Bar is somewhere in between DIY space and venue but has definitely become a pivotal part to Chicago’s scene. Since starting the band, you guys have hit a few milestones, like being signed to Autumn Tone Records and touring across the country with Twin halfnhalf.co | 48
photos by mele hamasaki & jennifer mac
Peaks. What’s it like looking to back when you first started playing together? Everything started happening really fast when we first started, between recording quickly, signing quickly, and bonding with Twin Peaks and hopping on a couple tours with them. It’s all been very surreal and since then we’ve had a lot of time to be thankful for the opportunities we’ve been given and take our time in making our next moves important ones. You guys obviously have plenty of influences, bands like The Strokes and other rock and garage rock acts. How are you changing up your sound from your debut album to the unreleased album? Our debut was recorded in a very kinda lo-fi way in our apartment. While this gave it a lot of character, our sound has developed more depth with us having more time to write better songs and having better recording means at our disposal. Our sound has grown to blend a lot more influences outside of the raw and sometimes “doo woppy” sound of the first album. There halfnhalf.co | 49
will be more at play from the late 70s/80s post punk and new wave sound this time around. Additionally, the first album was largely songs that Thomas and Peter had previously written and that we all pumped out together in a few weekends. The new stuff has been more collaborative in structuring and fleshing out the ideas. As we mature our sound has also. Fans who like the first album will find something to love in our new songs because it’s still us at heart, we’re just bringing a lot more to the table. Has the writing and recording process become easier this time around since you guys have had a few years of experience now? What have you done differently recording a second album? Now that we’ve had all this time to write and try different recording methods, we initially struggled a bit to find what we deemed our sound. We were recording songs that ranged all over the place and it took some time before we fell into a groove. Since then we’ve traveled to a studio in Kentucky to record with Brad from Cage the
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Elephant and this experience was extremely impactful for our song writing process. Brad’s excitement in the studio translated to helping us see a clear path of where we should take new song ideas and made us no longer afraid to embrace using all of a studio’s tools to really dive into full stylizing a song. More details to come on our next album, but we’ve hit a new found confidence in fully fleshing out and developing our recordings. Did you ever think that the band would be touring with notable bands and opening up for some of your favorite acts like Broncho? Considering we started just wanting to make an album together and did so before ever playing a show, no. We’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to play shows at home and on the road with some of our favorite bands and now call them friends. The Broncho show at Subterranean was specifically a surreal moment, we’ve all loved their music for a while and have crossed paths with them a few times over the years but being part of a sold out bill with them was especially incredible. It puts it in perspective that we have already come a long way and are preparing to continue down the path. What are some Chicago bands that Modern Vices recommends? There’s too many to count but The Knees, Brisco Darling, and Sports Boyfriend.
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Fringe photos by anna maria lopez
Relying on soft, dreamy rock and a strong aesthetic drive, the boys in Fringe first started to collaborate when Derec Patrick first posted a few of his songs on Bandcamp. After a house show, a chance meeting at a concert, and learning some Green Day songs on the drums, the members of Fringe fell into place. Even though each has his own tastes, a strong interest in indie band staples like Beach Fossils and Bright Eyes led to the music Fringe now releases.
Do you all have backgrounds with music? Preston and I have only been playing music a few years. Other than that, we grew up skateboarding and got a lot of musical influences from skate videos. Zach’s been playing drums for about 11 years. How did you first get involved with music?
When I first moved to LA a couple years ago, I met my friends Justice, Zach and Austin. I’m not a bass player but I played bass in Where are you all their band, Nancy, for a from? bit and that’s when I realized how accessible I grew up in a small it was to play and write town just outside of music. I started writing Long Beach but now my own songs shortly live in LA in Glassell after that and those Park. Preston grew up first songs are what in Michigan and now became our self titled lives in West HollyEP. Preston was invited wood and Zach is born to a house show in and raised in Van Nuys. freshman year of high school and it changed
the way he saw music and made him want to learn guitar and start a band so he could start playing shows with friends. Zach started when he went to a friend’s house and he taught him how to play 7 Nation Army on drums, then he started learning a bunch of Green Day songs and it snowballed from there. How would you say the LA scene has affected your music, if at all? The LA scene definitely brought us all together. Our friend, Yiwei Meng, books a lot of DIY shows in LA and posted about some demos I made. Preston saw those and we met at a show and started playing together along with our (previous) bassist, Enzo. We needed a drummer and Charlie (current bassist), introduced us
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to Zach. I wouldn’t say that the LA scene has a direct influence on our sound, it’s much more about what we listen to and personal experiences rather than the scene itself. What have you guys been listening to recently? Does your band’s music reflect personal music taste? Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Big Thief, Angel Olsen and Mistki. I think the band, for the most part, reflects personal music taste. I used to listen to a lot of Beach Fossils and Cass Mccombs (still do) and that’s what ultimately inspired Fringe. As we grow and start to get into different music, our sound is also growing and I think you’ll be able to hear that on the upcoming LP that we just finished recording. I know Preston is a little more into emo and punk bands like Tiny Moving Parts, Pup, Sorority Noise, etc… and Zach listens to a lot of Radiohead and Pale Saints but we all love a lot of the same bands like Alex G, The Drums, Pinegrove, Oasis, Alvvays, Porches and Bright Eyes. Do you prefer to play DIY vs. venue shows, or is a show a show? We tend to play a lot of DIY shows so it is nice when we have a stage/nice sound but there’s something intimate and special about DIY shows that we all really enjoy.
On that note, what are some of your favorite places to play in LA? The Smell and The Factory (Minty Warehouse) are always fun DIY spaces to play. I think my favorite place to play is The Hi Hat, they have good sound/cheap enough bar/some pool tables/ burger stand all under the same roof. You guys obviously have a strong aesthetic appeal. What other artistic outlets do you find yourselves in? I used to spend a lot of time skateboarding and taking photos but music is mostly the outlet these days. I work as a photo assistant on various fashion shoots and that’s definitely had a huge impact on the band regarding imagery - cohesiveness is really important to me. Preston and Zach are full time students and play in other bands so I think most of their time is mostly split between school and music. Who are your current favorite bands that are based in LA? Field Medic, Rose Dorn and Momma to name a few. One word that describes Fringe. Pab.
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The MarĂas photos by nicole busch
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The Marias, a duo comprised of María and Josh Conway, have been making music together ever since they first started dating. After Conway invited María to his studio to record a few songs after hearing her sing at a show, the two had an instant connection, allowing them to create smokey and soulful, genre bending music. You guys (María and Josh) are the founding members of the band. How did you two meet? Josh: A friend of mine asked me to run sound at a place called The Kibitz Room in LA. There was a show going on called the Laurel Canyon Music Revival and one of the acts was Maria. She was performing solo at the time and as soon as I heard her voice I knew I needed to work with her. I asked her if she’d want to record a song or two at the studio I was working at at the time. She did and after the first session it was apparent to the both of us that we had fallen for each other. Being in a relationship, do you think this allows you to be more open with each other when writing and recording? Maria: For sure. Josh understands me when I say, ‘Add a little bit of ear candy there, something like Twix, not Starburst.’ Josh: Definitely. Nothing is more freeing than recording in the nude. Especially with someone else. Do you think you guys just have a natural draw to the 60s and 70s, or is there anything
that inspired that look and sound?
Maria: I consider our music as sexy, so I’d agree with that.
Josh: Sound wise, as I said before, 60’s and 70’s music are what began my love for music in general. So they definitely play a big part for me when writing.
Josh: Pouring cream into coffee is probably my favorite description of anything. I forgot who said that one but kudos to you. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Do you think being based in California also has an effect on your look and sound? Josh: No probably not. We wear what we like. Maria: Agree. But I guess we do draw inspiration from California, naturally since we live here. Inspiration can come from what your surroundings look like, in terms of architecture and nature. There’s also a lot of Spanish influence here, and we definitely draw inspiration from that. When your music videos are created, who do you usually work with, if there is a specific person? Josh: We usually work with a childhood friend of mine. Ian Lipton. He’s got an amazing eye for cinematography and is always a pleasure to work with. Maria: We’ve also worked with a local female director, Mimi Raver. It was great working with her as well, as she brings a really unique perspective to the table. A lot of people have described your music as sounding like having sex in the 70s or pouring cream into coffee, do you think this accurately describes it? If not, how would you describe it yourself? halfnhalf.co | 60
Do you guys typically play at venues, or have you played DIY shows as well? Josh: We usually play at venues but have played a couple DIY shows too. There’s a huge difference in atmosphere for DIY shows. Friends and family shows make me more nervous than big shows. Maria: I actually think playing for friends and family is more comfortable. At any show, I always ask my closest friends to try standing in the front. And whenever I get nervous, I just look at them as a source of comfort, and all of my nerves diminish. At the end of the day, your friends will love you not matter what, whether you mess up or not. Are there any other bands in the LA area that you would recommend? Josh: Yeah definitely. Wildling, Kid Bloom, LOVEYOU, Royaljag, Dylan Meek, HUNNY. All great artists who write amazing music. Maria: The director I mentioned before, Mimi Raver, also makes really beautiful music. Susy Sun, Tillie, Smith Allen, are also really good friends who makes great music. I also love Cuco. He’s definitely a favorite right now.
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BOYO, moniker for LA-based Robert Tilden, has been a part of the LA DIY scene for the past few years, releasing ethereal indie rock on his Bandcamp page. Drawing influence from the likes of Surf Curse, (Sandy) Alex G, and slacker rock projects, BOYO has found its own niche among a small group of friends, creating music in his hometown while traveling to explore in other cities like Austin for SXSW. BOYO answered a few question us, talking about the childlike origins of the project’s name and how they want to play your Bat Mitzvah. You’ve had a few different musical projects, how did BOYO come about? My name is boring and my full name (“Robert Thurston Lewis Tilden”) makes me sound like a self-important author. “BOYO” is a nonsense word that made sense with the songs I started making. It sounded innocent and childlike…like “goo-goo, gaga,” stream-of-consciousness phrases you would say as a kid. In my head, I didn’t want it to be a gendered name at all, especially because that name coincidentally popped up when I started really hating the b.s. male-crooner sound of my voice and started figuring out ways to pitch it up to emulate the vocals of my favorite modern musicians like Victoria Legrand or Angel Olsen. My friend’s mom is a spiritual reader/healer and did a reading on me during a time where I wasn’t treating myself very well. She kept repeating to me that I was “still a sweet, innocent child” while hugging me, and after the reading was finished, I slunk out to get air and took a long walk. What she said strangely validated the name and justified it to me, and it wasn’t nonsense really anymore. What are some of your main inspirations? I love movies and I used to write really awful scripts in high school. For a while, when I started college, I was out of the loop and out-oftouch with cool new movies and directors and screenwriters. But in the last month, movies like “Meantime” and “Heaven Knows What” have been inspiring me more than any album I’ve been listening to. If you could play a show with any band (dead or alive) who would it be? Dead: “Rock ’n’ Roll Animal” era Lou Reed. Alive: A tossup between Omni and Chastity Belt. Do you prefer to play DIY vs. venue shows, or is a show a show? halfnhalf.co | 64
We will play anywhere: your Bat Mitzvah, your wedding, your divorce proceedings. If we play and people are happy, that selfishly makes it a better day for me, too. What is LA’s DIY scene like? I’m not entirely sure. I go to some shows but not really outside my small community of friends who make things. I feel like I need to explore way more. I’m a homebody. Who are some LA bands we should be listening to right now? “Momma” is a relatively new band with really beautiful music out and all-around great songwriting. “Lala Lala”’s rad LP ‘Sleepyhead’ is really addictive and makes me smile and feel like everything is gonna be okay (even though they’re not from LA, they play here a lot and I think some members have lived here). My pal Jacob makes music under the moniker “Gap Girls” and writes really beautiful, ambient, painfully-honest and gorgeous songs. There’s also the elusive, mystical “Brutus VIII” who, in my opinion, puts on the coolest shows I’ve seen in my lifetime. There’s a new band called “Lunch Lady” that consists of some people that I’ve looked up to for a while. I just saw them play and it made me excited to play guitar again. Your new album ‘Me, Again’ is out in January, what can we expect from this album? Is it similar to what you have out or are there some surprises in there? This one was done before my first record was out, and by the time I could release it, I had another LP ready-to-go, but it felt like playing those “Frogger” games and jumping too many steps or something. This one felt like the right one to come after “Control.” It’s a little bit heavier at times and a lot lighter at times. The NEXT one has a lot less distortion and is a gentler, but I wasn’t quite ready to get rid of all of the muck just yet. What was the highlight of your 2017? Being able to go to South-By-Southwest and play shows and explore with my best friends.
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Kyle Emerson Kyle Emerson is a singer-songwriter based out of Denver, Colorado. We first spoke with Emerson a little over 2 years ago for a local music piece with Denver based, psych-rock band Plum. Since we last spoke, Emerson has had his fair share of traveling, leaving Denver for a brief residency in LA before returning to see what he could bring back to the local music community. Even though it’s only been a fairly short time since Emerson has returned, he’s already released a full length LP “Dorothy Alice”. Blending folk pop with indie rock roots, Emerson has settled into a fresh sound, one that seems more personal and his own. However, he isn’t going to remain too comfortable. Read below to find out more about how his music has changed, what he’s listening to, and what his next steps are going to be. photos by sam keeler halfnhalf.co | 69
How did you get into music and the point where you are now? I grew up in kind of a musical family. My parents were pretty devout Christians, so I grew up playing in the church like youth group and that kind of stuff. That just progressed to high school and cover bands. When I graduated high school I started writing more music and joined some different bands and eventually just ended up going solo. You just put out your first EP earlier this year and then your debut album this September. What was the process of getting that all put together? What has the reaction been to the album? Most of the songs were written in Los Angeles and then recorded at my friend Jeff Cormackâ€™s studio here in Denver. All the songs from the EP and the album were recorded at the same time. The reaction has been positive thus far, and weâ€™ll be going on the road to promote it starting early next year. Awesome, so you just added a live band. How did that
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happen? Where did you find them? My friend Dan Valmer plays bass and he played on the record. He and I grew up together in Ohio. We just marked a decade of us playing music together which is pretty beautiful. I had known Brad from this band called Sun Boy. I ran into him the first night I got back into Denver at a bar and he was just like ‘send me the demos and I will play drums’. I was like ‘ah, man ok I didn’t think this would happen this quickly’. He was the one who played drums on the record and he still plays live. Dan used to be in a band Shady Elders. They actually played their last show last weekend and their lead guitarist Miles Ikner plays lead guitar for me now. It’s a solid lineup but I still write most of the stuff on my own and bring it to them. Sometimes I write their parts, but for the most part I just try to write the core arrangements like the lyrics and everything so when I bring it to them the song itself already exists. Who are some of your main musical inspirations? I really like a lot of the old British fingerpicking folk guys like Nick Drake, Bert Jansch, John Martyn, and Davey Graham. Guys like Steve Gunn and Ryley Walker
are doing that stuff now. There’s this band Big Thief from New York and I really like their songs, I think she has a really beautiful style. What is your perception of the Denver music scene? Denver’s music scene is very tight knit and it feels very small. I don’t have a lot of other cities to go off of for comparison. It is very inclusive and bands help each other out rather than compete which is really cool. There’s a lot of good venues to play like Hi-Dive, Syntax, Globe Hall, Larimer. I wish there was more DIY stuff. That would be my only complaint. But I think that a lack of DIY spots is kind of sweeping the country. It’s a great scene to get started in. So you played UMS this year and have played it before, do you think that after a while things get repetitive or are new bands constantly popping up? I do think that there is sort of a plateau for bands in Denver. Your first year can be really exciting and everyone is just finding out about you. But then that second year you are playing the same venues you were already playing and probably having trouble reaching any new people. I think that the reason is just
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a lack of industry in Denver- record labels, blogs, anyone who can help you get your music to people outside of Colorado. But there is a lot of that stuff starting to pop up. Like my friend Jeff Cormack and his wife Kelly are starting a record label called Guilty Pleasure Records and that is going to be really cool and good for Denver. What’s your favorite venues to play? What’s been your best show so far? Hi-Dive or Bluebird. Our best show was actually a day show at UMS. It was for Guilty Pleasure records, they had a show case. We played a really early show at 2pm but it was the most fun I’ve had playing these songs. Awesome, who are some of your favorite local bands? Well Shady Elders, but they are done. I really like Sawmill Joe, I saw him for the first time a couple of weeks ago. The Still Tide is really great. Anthony Ruptak is one of my favorite songwriters, I discovered him recently. I am blanking on so many but yeah that’s a good four. Describe your music in one word. Slick.
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os by marissa marino & words by Jocelyn Rockhold
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Down Time, a Denver-based band made up of Alyssa Maunders (guitar/vocals,) Davey Weaver (bass,) Justin Camilli (guitar,) and David Barnes (drums), features desert-inspired indie rock colored by charming harmonies and dream-inducing guitar. The blend of New Mexico natives and Boulder locals has bloomed into the scene through a various crisscross of projects and mutual friends—Down Time seemed destined to be. Luckily, the band was able to sit down and chat with Half&Half over dinner in a cozily lit living room about the band’s most recent EP, recording DIY, and goals for 2018. Let’s just start it off by discussing how each of you met and started playing in Down Time together. Justin: Alyssa and I met through mutual friends, and we were both in bands with our friend Keenan, who I kind of grew up with and who she met in Albuquerque. Alyssa: We knew Davey, we had mutual friends and I moved to Denver. We jammed briefly, and then it was just us three for about a year. Then, we needed a drummer and this little nugget fell down on our doorstep. David: I was playing a show at the Underground Music Showcase on the same bill as [Davey’s] band Panther Martin. Davey said, ‘we’re looking for a drummer,’ and I said, ‘I’d like to try out,’ and I did. So, we had a band. Alyssa: We had a really nice Sunday when we just auditioned a couple of people. Davey: It was really weird, we wanted a drummer for a long time, then very suddenly, there were about 3 people who were available for that. We had an old-fashioned audition day. David: We all 3 [auditioners] wrestled in a mud pit. Alyssa: With drumsticks in hand. halfnhalf.co | 74
.You all recently released your debut EP, “Good Luck!” What was the recording process like when creating the EP? Alyssa: It was mostly dinnertime and downstairs in the basement with a fairly awesome recording space. We just recorded everything down there with the help of Davey’s Tascam. Davey: I kind of engineered the whole thing. The recording space is called “Bone Scissors.” So we put a lot of time in at Bone Scissors. I’ve got a very cool 8 track recording machine that goes straight to cassette tape. We worked with that while recording the whole EP. We built the songs out as we had been playing them live. I actually played drums for the whole album. We did multi-track and harmonies for Alyssa, and slowly watched the songs become themselves and blossom out. Justin: On digital interfaces, we could only record 8 tracks, so we had to be selective. Alyssa: We would’ve added so much glitz if we could have. Justin: Since we were so limited, we were forced to choose the things that really mattered, but I think that really helped us in the end. Davey: The machine forces you to make decisions, so it doesn’t take forever laying down all these tapes and picking the best ones. It forces the tone upfront, so whatever is laid down on the tape is what’s on the song. Once you have it, you have it.
Why did you use a DIY approach to recording the EP? Justin: It was mostly money-based and just ease. Davey: When you’re in the studio, there’s always pressure that you have to be using your time wisely. We were able to make mistakes. Justin: Well, and we recorded drums after. We didn’t really have those figured out yet. It really worked that we had extra time. We could play something those first couples times, and talk about it. How does the songwriting process normally go for Down Time? Alyssa: I usually come up with a skeleton for the lyrics, or most of the lyrics, and then bring it in. Everyone here is such a strong creative force, it’s difficult not to bring something that’s more fleshed out. I’ve found that I bring a skeleton and that everyone fills it out in a natural way. I do most of the songwriting by myself in our living room. A few of you are in different bands as well, including locals Super Bummer and Panther Martin. How has Down Time been different from these other projects? Davey: I play bass in this band, which is the first time I’ve ever done that in my life. I’ve always been very adamant about playing bass in the band, because I wanted to do something different. It’s been really awesome, halfnhalf.co | 75
and I feel like I’ve improved a lot. Justin: In regards to Super Bummer, I’ve been playing music with them since I was a teenager, so I know how they write songs. With Alyssa, it was a little more exciting and different. I had to be more tasteful about what I put in, more selective. Justin and Alyssa are from New Mexico. How did this move influence you as musicians? Alyssa: The move influenced the music just in that I decided to write songs. I was like, ‘I’m moving to a place where I’m physically and mentally focusing on writing songs.’ The Denver community is really musically driven and supportive. I had a bigger vision, where I really wanted to invest here. In New Mexico, I wasn’t writing that much. When I moved here, I made the decision that I was going to start a band and write more. And it totally happened. As 2017 comes to an end, what is Down Time going to focus on now? Writing, recording, performing? Davey: All of the above. We’re definitely going to play more and we’re doing a lot of writing. Now that Barnes is in the band, the writing process is amped up to a new level. The new tunes have been smoother writing as a 4-piece band. Alyssa: Hopefully in the New Year, within the next 6 months, I’d like to focus on recording a full length.
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Published on Dec 21, 2017
Published on Dec 21, 2017
This issue is entirely centered around local music. We dove into 5 different cities and spoke with several bands. You can find extended inte...