All Posts By Angela Mastrogiacomo

BANDS INTERVIEWING BANDS: Audrey DuBois Harris & Lyia Meta


Singer-Songwriter and visual artist Lyia Meta, and vocalist Audrey DuBois Harris get together to discuss their influences, creative processes and overcoming obstacles. 

LM:  What a beautiful voice you have.  I’m absolutely blown away by your range!!! Your passion appears to be grounded in songs of faith and inclusion, especially your recent release LIFT EVERY VOICE.  

ADH: Thank you so very much Lyia! I am intentional about creating positive, uplifting, loving and spirit-filled music that speaks to all people. LIFT EVERY VOICE is a project that was created with that intention in mind. I wanted to offer a collection of songs of unity and hope for the future.

ADH:  What a rich and soulful voice you have! It has been a while since I’ve heard such a deep, beautiful, and smooth voice.  

LM:  I am humbled by your comments as I’ve always strived at improving my craft.

LM:  What would you say is the most difficult part of being a vocalist?  How do you keep your vocals well-tuned?  

ADH: As a vocalist, my main priority is to maintain the health and vitality of my voice. That means staying on top of my physical health, getting proper rest, staying well hydrated, limited use of my speaking voice when I’m not singing, and dedicating time for vocal warmups. 

ADH:  Growing up in Malaysia, who were your biggest musical influences?

LM:  My biggest musical influence was my father! He was a civil servant and the lead singer in a band.  It sounds crazy now but back in those days, most government departments used to have an in-house band and my dad would perform.  I was used to having musicians coming and going since I was knee-high!  As I grew older, we listened to what was popular on the radio, but my favourite was rock and blues.

LM:  We both have performed internationally and are always trying to increase that footprint.  How does it feel to have to re-introduce yourself to a new audience?  What has been your most rewarding, and most challenging, performance so far?

ADH: As a LIVE performer, I introduce myself all the time to new audiences. I also enjoy meeting new people and appreciate hearing how my music has moved and/or inspired them. One vivid memory is singing for President Obama in NYC. There was a hush in the room while I was singing, then the standing room only crowd erupted in cheers and applause. I don’t give much focus to challenges beyond trying to find a way to overcome them. 

ADH:  Your music stretches across several different genres.  How do you define your personal sound and style?

LM:  Like every singer, I’m in the moment and my favorite genre or style is whatever song I’m feeling.  I find that doing only one single genre can be very limiting, I’m grateful that a variety of songwriters and producers have approached me to collaborate.  I find that different genres help convey different emotions and nuances, but I always have to make each song my own.  

LM:  How did you manage during COVID?  With schedule changes, cancellations and constant uncertainty, how did you keep your body, mind and voice in shape?  

ADH: To me, the pandemic reaffirmed that we are all connected. What happens to one person on the other side of the world affects each one of us just the same. I, like so many others, had great career plans mapped out for 2020. Although it was a time of great uncertainty and grief for us all, I made a conscious effort to remain positive, creative, and productive. My full project LIFT EVERY VOICE and the first single from that project We Shall Overcome was both recorded and released during that time.

ADH:  What is your writing process like?  Where do you find your greatest inspiration for new song material?

LM:  My greatest inspiration comes from the world around me and how it affects me physically and emotionally—body and spirit.  Spontaneity and inspiration work hand-in-hand for all of my pieces.  The creativity road leads me to wonderfully strange outcomes and there’s a feeling of self-accomplishment once I’ve exorcised my demons!  When a personal calm sets in, the song (or piece of art) just feels complete.  

LM:  I saw that you grew up dreaming of becoming the new Mariah Carey but your mother and voice teacher rightfully exposed and steered you to classical music and opera. Do you have any desire to try other genres, either live or recording?

ADH: Actually, that is a misunderstanding. The short version of the story is that when I was a little girl, my mother overheard me singing. She was very surprised by my voice and said that she would find me a voice teacher. To my 8 or 9 year old understanding, I was going to instantly become an overnight Pop star!!  My mother encouraged and inspired me the most to move in the direction of opera. It became the foundation of my technique and preparation. My music now is definitely a fusion of differing genres.  I’ve always believed that what I bring to the table is uniquely special.

ADH:  During the pandemic and global shutdown, what were some of your favorite things to do to remain positive, productive and creative?  Do you look forward to returning back to the stage for LIVE performances?

LM:  I turned to my visual art to keep me sane.  During the pandemic I drew almost a hundred commissioned portraits, two children’s album covers; designed the cover of my Metal single, painted art-glass surfaces; and wrote a few more songs that are now being demoed.  I also participated in several online digital fundraisers,created my own home “studio” that I never needed before!  I opened my own kitchen and cooked and delivered lunch boxes, pastries and cakes.  In the course of this stopgap measure I was named a Eurasian Food Culture Heritage Food Ambassador by Eurasians International.  Staying occupied in every way possible helped keep my creative side well-oiled.  I am a live performer first.  The stage and engaging with an audience will always be my first love.

LM:  We’ve both strayed from our music comfort zones to try something new.  What will you draw on for inspiration next and how will that affect your song choices?  Where would you like to experiment in terms of musical “stretch” goals? 

ADH: I draw my inspiration from different sources: culture, art, film, fashion, conversation and life experiences. As an artist, I need to constantly stretch and evolve. In terms of “stretch goals”, I think the next step for me is creating a lot more visual content/music videos for my music. 

ADH:  In addition to being a singer/songwriter, you’re also a visual artist.  Do you consider your paintings and music as one continued form of expression?  Or do you view them as separate aspects and forms of your artistry?  Is your artwork available to the public for purchase?

LM:   I don’t think I will ever be able to not express myself through art.  It has become such an integral part of me.  What I cannot express through lyrics, I express with my brushes.  I dream in colour and I am always humming to new melodies and disjointed lyrics.  In addition to my own art, I am a full-time commissioned portraitist.

Audrey DuBois Harris

Website / Facebook / Instagram / Spotify

Lyia Meta

Website / Facebook / Instagram / Spotify / Twitter

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Photo credit: Audrey DuBois Harris (top) Will L. Lewis lV Photography. Lyia Meta (bottom) Khahin Meta

BANDS INTERVIEWING BANDS: Love District & Ricky Mendoza


Alex from the rock group Love District and singer-songwriter Ricky Mendoza got together to chat about musical influences, how the pandemic affected their music, and what is coming up next for them.  

Ricky: I really love your music! I love the way the bass protrudes and how the synths vibe out a feeling of the music that I used to listen to when I first fell in love with music. And y’all do all this with a sound that feels new, yet retaining a retro spirit. 

Love District: Thank you so much for the kind words!  We’ve been working hard through the years and we’re glad that our vision is coming across as intended.  We wanted our sound to have a nostalgic feel, but also refreshing and unique at the same time. 


Love District: Tell us about your new single, “I Just Died.”  I really enjoy the rawness of your vocals and the instruments.  

Ricky: Thank you so much for the kind words. It is part of the new album called “The New Hurt” and it’s about a new love in my life. Here I was, inspired by love but the twist is that whenever there is a new love, there’s also a new source of pain.  If anything happens to them it’s gonna hurt like hell. 

Ricky: I’m really curious about the process of an artist/band and how the music actually gets made, so what comes first, the lyrics or the music? And how do the songs come together?

LD: It really depends on each song.  We’ve written songs inspired by a melody, chord progression, a riff, or a phrase/idea. We usually start with a chord progression or a guitar/bass riff that the rest of the instruments would follow and build along to.

LD: Are there any current artists or bands that have recently influenced your music for this new phase of your career?

Ricky: Neutral Milk Hotel and Against Me! have been my north star for a while now. I love how NMH makes their folk songs sound other-worldly and magical, while Laura Jane Grace and Against Me bring brutally honest lyrics and an in-your-face punk rock; it’s inspiring. 

Ricky: Can you walk me through the creation of “Feels Like Home”? Specifically, how it came together. 

LD: Chris came up with the progression and the melody and brought it to the band.  We jammed together for a while and worked out the format and different parts of the song before going into the studio to record.  In the studio during the pandemic we were really able to take our time and dive deep into the song and really get the sound we wanted.

LD: As this will be your third album release, how do you continue to evolve your sound and progress from your old releases?  Is there a concept to your album or do you view it as a collection of songs?

Ricky: All three albums are about phases in my life. The first one was about hitting my rock bottom and what it felt to be there. The second one is all about getting my shit together and trying to really discover myself and that is aptly named “No One Has Their Shit Together – especially Ricky Mendoza”. And shortly after the album came out, I fell in love and I felt like I was in complete control of my life. I spent five years living and making what is now, “The New Hurt”. 

Ricky:Is there a principal songwriter? Do several handle songwriting duties? And do y’all modify the lyrics to fit the music after the lyrics are written?

LD:  Chris and myself are the main songwriters in the band.  Either he or I will bring an idea or demo to the table and then we would work out the ideas together.  We would get the rough draft of the song and then bring it to the band.  In the studio, the songs naturally evolve.  The rule that I follow is the “best idea wins” and “is it making the song better?” 

LD: How has this past year during the pandemic and quarantine affected your ideas on music and being a musician?  

Ricky: In terms of being a musician it was great to have time to actually sit and record at my home studio. I’ve recorded all my albums by myself but this one was particularly challenging because I wanted to go deeper as a musician and add different instruments that I had never played (accordions, theremins, trumpets, etc). 

Ricky: As with any relationship, it gets tough to decide on certain artistic elements, career choices, lunch, etc. How do y’all make it happen as a band of four? 

LD: That is something that we all are continually trying to get better at hahaha.   We have been a band for a while now, and have developed a musical trust with each other that can only develop from experiences and failures.  We are at a point where we can have honest and open communication as a team. 

LD: With live shows being taken away, how were you able to adapt and still move forward as a musician?

Ricky:Live shows are a small part of my musicianship, so not having them wasn’t that huge of a blow. However, I really needed to take the time to record the new album.

Ricky: What habits do y’all attribute to your progress/success as artists?

LD: Keeping an open mind when it comes to creating a product as a band.  We all are seasoned vets when it comes to playing music and have opinions or ideas that may differ from one another.  It is important to listen and try new things or ideas and evolve.   

LD: Talk to us about your band.  Have you been playing with the same musicians for a while or do you like to switch things up?  

Ricky: For the recording of my album, I did not have a band. Since this was a very personal project, I decided to record all the instruments myself. However, for live shows, we do have a band together and we’re all based in Austin.

Ricky: I see that y’all teach young children about music and its importance and I’m very curious to hear about your perspective on why music is important to our world?

LD: Music has played such an important role in all our lives and we have learned so many life lessons throughout our musical careers.  We feel it is important to pay it forward when it comes to the next generation of musicians.  We want to show our students that we are playing in bands and making music for the right reasons.  There is no better feeling when we see our students start their own bands and create their own music.  

LD: Are there any activities or hobbies not music-related that inspires you?  Any other sources of creativity that could influence your music?

Ricky: Absolutely! I’m a total nerd when it comes to the science of storytelling, of how we all are connected by stories and the best possible ways to tell stories. Most of my songs are story driven, I want people to see themselves in the songs and relate at a deep level to them. After all, it’s about our human journey and how we fit in this weird, beautiful thing we call life. 


Love District

Website / Instagram / Facebook / Spotify / YouTube / SoundCloud / Twitter

Ricky Mendoza

Website / Instagram / Facebook / Spotify / YouTube

Photo credit: Ricky Mendoza (top) credit Laura Zamorano. Love District (bottom) Mad Harmony Photography; Ricky: Laura Zamorano

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Bands Interviewing Bands: Luke Justin Roberts & Sandra Bullet


This week we’re bringing together pop-rock artist LJR and alt-rock singer-songwriter Sandra Bullet. The two chat about their best tips for creating an irresistible music video, how to find new fans, and how to balance being a musician with juggling all the things.

LJR: Seems like we have a lot in common! I love that you switched from engineering to music (I did the same, also with an MS in mechanical!). How do you feel like your technical background has helped you in your music career? 

Sandra Bullet: That is such a great question! Usually, people think that they are totally unrelated areas, which is definitely not true. It has helped me a lot in terms of organizing all the different tasks I need to do. I have a methodical approach to everything I do, and that doesn’t go unnoticed. Other artists have told me I’m the most reliable person they’ve ever worked within the music industry; and that goes a long way for me.

Sandra Bullet: It really is super cool that we have the same Engineering background! I see that you got into music when you were very young and had other people in the family who were into music too. So why did you decide to study Engineering?

LJR: I was really good at math and science, and despite a deep love for the arts, my family saw music as a dead-end career path for a long time. It also took me a long time to discover who I was and what I truly loved. On the way there, it seemed like a smart decision to play it safe and get a stable “backup plan.” I’m glad I finally got out of that mindset, but that only happened because of a lot of encouragement from my older brother Daniel challenging that narrative about the arts.

LJR: I see you’ve got your new album out! Can you tell me about the experiences behind it?

Sandra Bullet: It’s just a dream come true! These songs are my first compositions. Some of them were made 15 years ago. I was in a band that played just for fun, and so we never recorded anything properly. I always believed in these songs though, so I always had this idea of releasing an album with all our compositions. In the process I decided to reach out and include my former band members, and that brought us close to each other again, which was such a wonderful feeling! And sharing it with my fans, there are just no words to describe it.


Sandra Bullet: I love all your video productions! How did you get into video production?

LJR: Thank you!! I learned video because I thought I needed kick ass music videos to get attention online. Of course it helps, but it wasn’t enough to build a following without more consistent content. I loved Boyce Avenue, so I tried to figure out where they put their lights and what gear they used, and built a custom rotating camera rig to get moving angles without a camera man. I also learned a lot from some friends of mine who knew film and photography and just tried creating things I liked. I also learned a TON from YouTube tutorials.

LJR: I’m a huge videography nerd and shoot all my own videos too; what got you into doing your own video work and how did you learn it?

Sandra Bullet: It started out of necessity to be honest, just like many things I do today. I’m a curious person, and I’m a fast learner. My creative side has the vision, and then my methodical side steps into action and makes it real. And I have a lot of fun with it! I learned it all by myself, watching tutorials and experimenting. You can learn pretty much anything online today. I started with small edits, then with my Bulletized covers I took my editing skills to a whole new level. 

Sandra Bullet: How do you feel now that you’re about to share your first album with the world?

LJR: I’m so excited!! With all the covers I did, I feel there’s a level to which I never showed the world all of who I am. I’m excited to share more of my journey with the world, and I’m hopeful that it helps people know they’re not alone.

LJR: Doing all the things you do in your own music business is really hard, and I rarely meet anyone who is able to manage everything on their own and produce quality material. How do you balance and prioritize everything so you get it all done?

Sandra Bullet: It is hard, and I’m still learning how to do it. I’m always taking notes and I follow my calendar strictly, but the most important thing I’ve learned lately is the importance of saying “no.” I am invited to be part of many cool musical projects and it’s hard for me to say no; as a result I ended up doing a lot of studio work for other artists in the past, and I never had time for my own music or my fans. Now I choose my work carefully. My music and my fans are my priority, and that’s the way it should be.

LJR: How do you find new fans and run the business side of things? Do you run ads, post a ton on social media and YouTube, or TikTok?

Sandra Bullet: I started growing a following 2 years ago, when I was invited to start live streaming on a new app. I started connecting with my audience and that’s what motivated me to start working more on my own music. I was never a social media person and that held me back for quite some time. All the fans I have right now found me through live streaming, other artists I worked with or through my Bulletized covers on YouTube. But lately, I’m investing a lot of time in understanding social media and finding new fans this way. I know my target audience and that is already a huge advantage.   

Sandra Bullet: What’s next for you? What would you like to see happening next in your musical career?

LJR: After this album finishes releasing one song at a time per month and I (hopefully) get some traction online, I really want to put together a band and tour in 2022. I also have a bunch of individual singles (some old and some new) that I’d like to start releasing as well that didn’t really fit onto the album. 

LJR: What is coming for you in the next 3 months?

Sandra Bullet: I wish I could say live shows, but with the pandemic, I don’t think that will be possible; so I’ll be focusing on growing my following and reaching more people with my music. 

Something I’m also really trying to do is showing musicians here in Portugal that you don’t have to be famous or know the right people in order to make a living as a musician. 

I will also be producing and recording an album for another artist. We are in the planning phase now and I’m really looking forward to that project.

About LJR: 

Hailing from Maryland, LJR is a tenacious and passionate pop-rock artist who strives to empower and inspire his audience to live their lives to the fullest.

LJR has opened for platinum-selling singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson and acclaimed duo A Great Big World, and his distinctive, resonant style has won him fans around the globe. 

LJR is currently preparing to release his 12-track debut album “When the Sky Began to Fall,” which he will share with fans one song at a time beginning on April 30. Recorded over the course of three years, the album promises to showcase LJR’s brilliant songwriting skills and will serve as a testimony to the last decade of his life, detailing his personal evolution through discussions about his insecurities, relationships, and journey through faith. “I hope it brings a deep joy and hope to people’s lives,” he shares about the album. “I’m also really excited to create sacred moments with people at shows. I think those times are opportunities to share the deepest parts of ourselves while freeing others to do the same.”

For Fans Of: Walk the Moon, The Fray

Follow LJR: 

Facebook I Instagram I Youtube

About Sandra Bullet:

Sandra Bullet is a Portuguese alternative rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with an indie twist and an old school sound.

Besides her solo career, Sandra also collaborates with other artists in other genres, and as a streamer, she performs weekly online concerts on YouTube and Twitch. She sets the bar for all independent artists out there, showing them that it’s possible to be a musician without musical education and without labels, and that nowadays any artist can produce, mix, master and release their own music. Although she loves working with other artists, streaming, and crafting her extravagant “bulletized” covers, her main goal is to work more on her original music and share her sound with everyone!

For Fans Of: Avril Lavigne, P!nk, Alanis Morissette


Instagram I Twitter I Facebook I YouTube I Website

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(Left) LJR photo credit Eric Brown (Right) Sandra Bullet photo credit: self-portrait (Right)

Bands Interviewing Bands: Brandyn Killz & Bryce Bowyn


This week’s feature presents dance-pop icons Brandyn Killz and Bryce Bowyn discussing their latest singles, songwriting and production processes, and how they’ve been handling the pandemic. 

Brandyn Killz: Your newest single “Ruthless” is such a bop! What’s the story behind the song?

Bryce Bowyn: Thanks Brandyn! “Ruthless” is about a guy I was rebounding with after a nasty breakup. He didn’t really understand boundaries at all and was very manipulative. I like to consider myself a nice person, but I was sick of being heartbroken and disrespected so I decided to be the heartless Casanova for once. 


Bryce Bowyn: I remember listening to your song “Bones” last year and being blown away. It feels like such an amazing throwback to late 2000s electropop, like Kesha or Femme Fatale-era Britney. What draws you to that particular sound? 

Brandyn Killz: Thanks so much. Yasss, that’s exactly the vibe I was going for with “Bones.” To me, that sound is such a mood. I get so happy and energized when that sound hits and it’s hard to stay still. I can’t not dance, and nobody’s unhappy when they’re dancing 😝

Brandyn Killz: Your songs seem to always have a personal touch and go really deep. What song of yours is your most personal & why?

Bryce Bowyn: I would say with each release, my songs have become more and more personal. My song “Nostalgic” was the first time I really addressed my own relationships rather than writing from the lens of a character. That song is about romanticizing dark times in your life and realizing you’re happier in the present.

Bryce Bowyn: The production on your tracks is immaculate. Tell me about that. Do you work with producers, do you produce yourself, or is a combo situation? 

Brandyn Killz: Aww, thank you so much. I am very hands-on when it comes to everything I put out. I generally always work with producers in getting a foundation for a track, and then I’ll add all kinds of synths and random sounds. I record and produce all the vocals, and complete most of the post-production as well. It’s been a crazy learning process, but I’m gettin’ better with each release.

Brandyn Killz: How has the pandemic and the last year affected your music, life, and career?

Bryce Bowyn: I would say the pandemic made me go back to square one and re-invent everything I was doing. It’s the one silver lining of this mess. With all the isolation and downtime, I’ve written some of my best work. All of the songs on my upcoming EP were written in the first few months of quarantine. Being able to access that creativity also helped with my social anxiety surprisingly. All in all, I think I’ve come out of 2020 more confident and sure of myself. 

Bryce Bowyn: What was your most challenging song to create and why? 

Brandyn Killz: “Outta Control” was the most challenging. It’s probably my favorite song I’ve ever written, but getting it to sound like I wanted it to sound was a hurricane. It was one of the first times I had to pull rank with a producer and basically say “This is how it’s going to be.” It definitely taught me a lot, but the finished product is exactly what I dreamed of. 

Brandyn Killz: Take me through your songwriting process. For me, it takes a village. How do you make it all sound so perfect and so easy?

Bryce Bowyn: I would say I start with a concept. I take tons of notes on my phone. Whenever I think of a good lyric or concept, I write it down. Then I’ll go for a walk or something that doesn’t require too much focus and the melodies start to pour out. From there, I’ll sit down at the keyboard and find the chords. 

Bryce Bowyn: “Losin’ It” is such a banger. I can’t wait to see a crowd lose their mind to it once we are all safely able to party together again. What inspired that track? 

Brandyn Killz: OMG, I can’t wait to perform that song. It’s going to be wild. The song was inspired by a friend that was struggling with addiction. It was just my anthem to let him know that I’m always here fighting for you and I’m not gonna give up on you. A way to give him and anyone fighting the good fight a reminder that I’m your #1 fan and we can win this thing together.

Brandyn Killz: What’s the most challenging part of being an artist in 2021?

Bryce Bowyn: Being an independent artist in 2021 often feels like a Herculean task. You’re in charge of everything. You’re the talent, the producer, the writer, the manager, the promoter, etc. It can be very overwhelming. It’s important to remember to be kind to yourself.

Bryce Bowyn: What’s one non-music positive thing that you took away from the hell that was 2020?

Brandyn Killz: It’s been incredibly fun getting so much extra time with my husband while the world was falling apart. All the laughs, binge-watching, good food and quality time has made life consistently feel almost normal.

Brandyn Killz: I’m on pins and needles waiting for more of that ‘Bryce Bowyn’ sound. What do you have coming up that you’re most excited about?

Bryce Bowyn: Well, an EP is for sure on the way and I couldn’t be more excited. We just filmed the video for “Ruthless” and I think it’s going to be wild and unlike anything I’ve released yet. And I have some conversations brewing about live performances. Hopefully, with the right safety measures and whatnot, we can do some shows by the end of year. 

Bryce Bowyn: What made you want to create pop music? Is there a particular cultural moment that made you say “I want to do that”? 

Brandyn Killz: I’ve had such a huge love for music in general since I was young. But pop music and the fandom that comes along with it has always fascinated me. Michael Jackson. Beyonce. Lady Gaga. Britney. One Direction. The way their fans absolutely adore them. I just want to be loved. 🤣 But in all seriousness, seeing the power that music has to inspire, heal, hype, and change people is why I create.

Bryce Bowyn: And last but not least, it’s time to spill. What’s next for Brandyn Killz in 2021? 

Brandyn Killz: I am working on the title track for my next EP as we speak. It’s another banger and I’m really happy with the “dancier” sound that I’m playing around with these days. That should be out in late May. And I’m really hoping to be able to shoot a fun music video for it as well. 

About Brandyn Killz:

If you were to combine the soulful stylings of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, then mash them with contemporary electronic acts like Galantis, you’d end up with BRANDYN KILLZ.

Brandyn is a San Diego-based producer of what he dubs electronic soulpop, a fierce blend of pop and modern electro with tendencies echoed from the classics of the ‘70s and ‘80s. While electronic at heart, Brandyn’s music is built on a bedrock foundation of analog-meets-digital and incorporates a plethora of live instrumentation rooted in rich drums, along with detailed synthwork and edits. The result: ridiculously catchy tunes that are “all electronic & dangerously pop,” as his fans call them.

Intent on inducing feelings of empowerment and independence, Brandyn’s infectious songs are often anthemic in nature. For him, music serves as a form of release and escape; a place where he can be whoever he wants to be, and where he can invite his listeners to do the same, even if only for a moment. Above all, however, Brandyn desires to create something new, timeless and different in the LGBTQ+ community, which he is a proud member of. With every song he releases, he aims to bring his fans “Closer to Closure,” helping them navigate a positive headspace while dealing with heartbreak, loss, anxiety, and other complex emotions, and bring them back to the dance floor.

Brandyn is also a professional ghostwriter with tracks that have been featured on radio and top 40 albums. With 10 years of music production experience under his belt, his artistic persona serves as a brand new outlet through which he can showcase his unique approach to electro soulpop. He is currently preparing for the release of his next single “Losin’ It,” which is set for release on March 5.

Follow Brandyn Killz:

Facebook I Instagram I Spotify

About Bryce Bowyn:

Dance-pop singer-songwriter Bryce Bowyn has established himself as an unstoppable force in the industry thanks to his utterly hypnotic brand of uncensored, unfiltered dynamism.

Based in Washington, D.C., Bowyn’s anthemic electropop tracks have captivated audiences throughout the nation’s capital and beyond. Delivering story-focused songs like “Nostalgic,” a club-ready ode to romanticizing young heartbreak, and “Just Love Me,” a smash inspired by the beauty of queer nightlife entertainers, he effortlessly pulls listeners into his ethereal world and invites them along on an incredible journey of endless entertainment.

An innovative audiovisual artist and self-proclaimed horror buff, Bowyn ignites his tracks with esoteric and evocative music videos that provide a dark edge to his irresistibly sweet, addictive melodies. The demonic, skin-crawling bloodbath of “Nostalgic” and the sultry, mermaid-themed saga of “Cabana Boy” turn up the heat, showcasing the complex and expansive spectrum of the talented visionary’s extraordinary creativity.

Drawing inspiration from iconic pop legends like Lady Gaga and Britney Spears, Bowyn’s live presentations combine his infectious synth-driven tunes with high-octane spectacle. From his explosive performance at Pittsburgh’s 2019 PrideFest to the critically praised show BRYCE: Hydrogen Blonde (Capital Fringe 2016), he never fails to bring the house down with tight choreography and dazzling theatrics.

Bryce Bowyn is an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and has garnered high praise from outlets such as The Art of Being Queer, the Q Review, and Culture Fix. In 2021, he will continue his reign as one of the most brilliant figures in pop music today with the release of scintillating new singles and a bewitching EP, which promise to enthrall and mesmerize his fans all over again.

Follow Bryce Bowyn:

Follow Bryce Bowyn:

Facebook I Instagram I Spotify

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(Left) Brandyn Killz photo credit Karina Broden (Right) Bryce Bowyn photo credit Clarissa Villondo 



This week’s feature sees post hardcore performers Tzarina and NY band RODERIK quiz each other on their influences, how they have found working during a pandemic and the all-important topic of new music. 

Tzarina: Congrats on the release of “Save Me.” Can you tell me a bit more about the song? The writing process, production, etc.?

RODERIK: Thanks guys! Yeah, it was definitely an interesting process. The initial riffs and melodies for the song were actually started mid-late last year. We entered the studio around January to start recording this song, but due to the pandemic, we didn’t finish the song until about mid summer. It was by far the longest time I’ve ever taken to record a song, so there was a lot of tweaking and stuff throughout that long wait time. 

RODERIK: What does “Tzarina” mean and what was the main influence behind the band name?

Tzarina: Tzarina is basically just a Russian queen. So like in the old Russian empire, the royal family had a Tzar (also commonly spelled Czar), to which his bride was often referred to as Tzarina. I went down a really intense history rabbit hole on pre-WWI Russia and watched a couple documentaries where the term was thrown around. It sounded musical so I basically told the guys one day we were changing the band name.

Tzarina: How are you all getting by as a band with the current state of the world and the pandemic?

RODERIK: It’s definitely weird. RODERIK is basically a band made up of some of my best friends, so we all really get along well, but it’s really a strange situation that we can’t all get together and jam, write together, or even just hang out. Other than that, I REALLY miss playing shows. I’ve been impatiently waiting for shows to start up again, but I’m happy to stay on the cautious side until they can safely do so. 

RODERIK: I know we’re all pulling for shows to come back, but when they do what’s the first venue you have in mind for your first performance back? 

Tzarina: Somewhere in Bowery. A bunch of the local clubs on the LES. Outside of that, my hometown of New Haven in CT has some pretty legendary venues like Toad’s Place and The Acoustic.

Tzarina:  What are some of the musical influences that inspired you to piece together this band?

RODERIK: Oh man, way too many to list. We went into writing songs for this band with an open mind. I feel like a lot of artists try to focus on one primary genre, but for us, there’s no limit on what influences go into our songs. Some of the biggest ones are probably My Chemical Romance, Too Close to Touch, Point North, Lauv, Ruel, Dance Gavin Dance, and even Mac Miller.

RODERIK: I know for us, the pandemic has really changed how we function as a band. We’re so used to getting together and hashing out new songs, or just jamming for the fun of it. How has the pandemic impacted your band in general? 

Tzarina: To be honest, outside of affecting how we were going to record the album not much else has changed. We have been having regular rehearsals to make sure that our live show is on point and ready to go as soon as it’s okay to do so. We’ve also just been trying to hammer out the content to round people up and keep them interested in what we’ve got going. I’ve been toying with the idea of our first show being a live stream but I’d want to do it right. Lights, good audio and video, etc.  

Tzarina: Can we expect any more new material in the near future?

RODERIK: Yes, absolutely you can. We’re constantly writing and working on new material. You might even see a new release as early as November. 😉 

RODERIK: Now that ‘Deadsong’ is out, what do you guys have planned for next?

Tzarina: Hopefully playing a show sooner rather than later, but just like everyone else, we’re playing it safe and waiting. It’s kind of ridiculous, I’ve been seeing bands on DIY touring forums actually asking for other bands to come on and support shows that are happening in states where the COVID numbers are through the roof. For early 2021, we’ll be releasing the second single with a video and then hopefully we’ll have a better idea on timing of the things opening across different states (in a safe way). We’d like to finalize the album dropping around that time.  

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(Right) Tzarina. Photo credit: Kelli J Bartlett.(Left) Roderik. Photo credit: Photolitsina

BANDS INTERVIEWING BANDS: Shayna Adler & Brittany Bexton


Our latest edition sees a meeting of minds between Folk/Rock singer Shayna Adler and Nashville singer/songwriter Brittany Bexton. Their in depth conversation touches on topics such as faith and the challenges faced in the industry by female performers.

Shayna Adler: As a woman, what’s it been like to navigate the music industry and build a career for yourself? Do you feel like you’ve encountered any obstacles or difficulties? 

Brittany Bexton: It’s definitely been difficult as a woman, especially when I was marketing my music primarily country. The industry still has a pretty big good ol’ boy mentality that is not very inclusive of women. I’ve definitely had booking agents and managers turn down working with me over time either “Because I was a woman, and they couldn’t make any money off a woman.” Even after multiple people personally recommended me to them. And I’ve had managers tell me they loved everything about me but my age. I was in my mid twenties when the comment was made. There is a huge double standard with that for men. but I also think it’s character building. The way I see it is there is a market for my music, and I will get to the people that want it, regardless of obstacles. That’s part of why I just started touring. I wanted to do something to get out there that didn’t require the gate-keepers so to speak. I booked my own shows with a fill in gig here and there that a booking agent friend would throw my way. I played 50-100 shows every year booking myself, so that was pretty crazy. But the experience was great. The way I see it, as long as you make music that means something and matters there will be a market, and regardless of still running into challenges, I know I’m where I need to be and my music will somehow get to the people that need it. 

Brittany Bexton: What was the first song you wrote? How would you say you’ve grown most as a songwriter over the years? How has your style morphed? 

Shayna Adler: I wrote this song called “Turn the Page” in 2008(?) that’s literally just one chord throughout LOL. Not many pages to turn there…But hey! You have to start somewhere. I think my songwriting has become more intentional, and has evolved into full stories with characters. If I know exactly what I’m trying to say, what the message is, etc., the songs come really easily. I spend more time determining that over a notebook or “notes” on my iPhone before I even pick up a guitar. The music, sound, and chords follows the moods, settings, and meanings of the stories. It definitely wasn’t that way when I started. 

Shayna Adler: Tell me more about your connection of music and faith. How did you begin to bring the two together? How has that influenced your songwriting?

Brittany Bexton: I grew up singing worship and hymns in church, but I have always written songs more about my own personal experiences, struggles and growth. I have written some worship tunes over the years too, but have always felt like my job as an artist is to talk about the human condition and point people back to God. The new album’s theme being Christian wasn’t really planned ahead. But, the couple of years that I wrote most of the songs on the new project, I was going through a lot of personal growth and healing. A huge part of that healing was rebuilding my faith after trauma. When I started to listen back to the songs I had been writing, they all had an inspirational tone, of empowerment, and faith. It’s still a bit of a journey for me figuring out next steps, and what that means as far as my touring goes for the next couple years. Lately I’ve been writing a lot more worship, mainly for comfort through the times. I’m not exactly sure what the next project will hold. But I think this one came out when it was needed most in the world. 

Brittany Bexton: What is your favorite song to sing off of your new “Wander” Album? What song on the album is the most personal for you? 

Shayna Adler: I can answer both questions in one song—it’s definitely “Dear Capricorn.” It’s immensely personal. It’s quite fun to sing, too! That song sums up a plethora of experiences meeting new potential “love interests,” but especially the ones that didn’t go anywhere…and all you remember is the intense feeling of hope, and butterflies in your stomach. It’s a subject I always wanted to write about, but the catalyst was experiencing that unrequited rush of blood to the head again with someone. It’s so bittersweet. That song was written after a lifetime of experiences and one 5-minute conversation.

Shayna Adler: What band or artist is your biggest musical hero?

Brittany Bexton That’s so hard! I’m not good at picking one! The truth is I don’t have a musical hero so much as a number of artists and writers I really respect who have shaped my music over time. Singers like Aretha Franklin, Carol King, Patsy Cline, and Bonnie Raitt. And writers like Jewel and John Prine. I can tell you that two of my all time favorite songs as a writer are, “Angel From Montgomery” by John Prine, and “To Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan. Both of those songs are so rich; I feel like I get something more out of them every time I hear them, and soak up the lyrics.

Brittany Bexton: What has been the hardest part for you about being an artist? What’s the part of it that brings you the most joy? 

Shayna Adler: The part that brings me the most joy is connecting with people, and feeling some pride in that my music is offering them something fun to escape with. I really miss that about live shows: looking out into the audience and making eye contact or even talking to them from stage, and meeting everyone afterwards. It definitely soothes the soul to sit here and write or play songs by myself, but I think getting to share it all with other people is what makes it special.

Over the course of this year, I’m increasingly finding less time to enjoy the creative side of being an artist, because of the general management of everything. It’s really challenging to keep that balance. I find myself spending 8+ hours a day on my laptop between social media, managing my website, editing videos, emails, marketing, etc. I really miss just sitting and playing my guitar and being able to just focus on that alone, rather than squeeze it in when I’m either not awake in the morning or dead tired at night.

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(Right) Shayna Adler. Photo credit: Anna Azarov (Left) Brittany Bexton. Photo credit: Photo credit: Brandon Oursler

BANDS INTERVIEWING BANDS: Wesley David + Tom McGeoch (From, Tom)


Things take a different approach for this edition of Bands Interviewing Bands. First we have singer/songwriter Wesley David, who recently released his debut album Never Late Than Better. The musician has had a love of Rock and Roll since a young age and counts Oasis, Rush and Nirvana as some of his early influences.

Wes is joined by friend & drummer/singer/songwriter Tom McGeoh (stage name: From, Tom). Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, his music comes from direct experiences and he aims to create ‘emotional connections’ in his art.

In this interview the pair reminisce on their friendship and discuss topical subjects such as social media and the stigma around the mental health of men. 

Tom: This is crazy to learn about how you grew up in a religious cult. How did that experience specifically affect your music and lyrics? 

Wes: I did, my life’s journey since then has been one of recovery from trauma and rediscovering who I am. I think it’s forced me to focus on writing as a way to redefine my identity and what I believe about the world. This was the first record where I made a conscious attempt to capture the story of what I went through.


Wes: So tell me about your single ‘Good Enough’ – the lyrics hint at going through self-doubt I think when we try to live up to someone else’s expectations. What was the impetus behind that ? 

Tom: ‘Good Enough’ was inspired by a pretty heavy therapy session that I had. I went through a long period of time where I constantly doubted myself, and this song is all about challenging those thoughts. I was so concerned about what other people thought of me. I hit rock bottom mentally and it got to a point where I had to change.


Tom: I get such a 90s vibe when I listen to your music!  Do you listen to a lot of that stuff?

Wes: Is the Pope catholic!  Yeah, I definitely came of age with music via the 90s, a lot of post-grunge and alternative rock was my musical foundation as a kid. I still just think it was the most iconic decade for music in a lot of ways.  And culturally, I mean, you had Madonna dating Dennis Rodman while Radiohead would be played after OMC or Hanson on Top 40 radio.  You’d top it off with TRL with Carson Daly and then go watch Jerry Springer!  Just staggering zaniness and variety.

Wes: It’s 2020 and even with everything we know, there is still a stigma around mental health, and admitting anxiety/depression, I think for men especially. What’s important about that for you?

Tom: It’s important to me because I know our culture is capable of positive change. I think the tide is changing a little bit when it comes to mental health awareness but there’s still a lot of work to do. We need to get rid of the shame around going to therapy, taking medication, practicing meditation, whatever it is that helps us. We’re all human and we need to take care of ourselves and each other. Mental health resources also need to be easily accessible for everyone. 

Wes: We met almost 7 years ago after we’d both moved to LA – and I’m sparing readers our Arizona tour story where you nearly died on me (!) – What’s changed about the music scene here to you in that time ?

Tom: I still can’t believe that you told the crowd that I had Ebola. I don’t know if the music scene in LA changed a ton but I definitely evolved as a musician. I was caught up in the “Jam” scene on Sunset Boulevard for the first couple years I lived out here and I just wasn’t happy. I started going to School Night (a live music showcase) in Hollywood and it was energizing. I also love what Grant Owens is doing with WFNM (We Found New Music). As musicians and artists, we’re all in this together and it’s awesome to see people lift each other up. 

Tom: Social media has practically taken over the role that reviewers once had What do you consider challenging about that?

Wes: I would argue passionately that reviewers, blogs, and ‘zines matter as much as ever, but unfortunately, I think our attention spans have shortened to the point where social media is a faster entry point for most casual music fans.

The difficulty in this is when you want to do something innovative you end up working with influencers and others who are largely beholden to whatever their audience wants to hear – or thinks they want to hear.

I see social media as both good and bad, I think it’s almost comparable to old school record labels.

Wes: You’ve got some more singles coming out soon; the lyrics tell me this is not just business-as-usual playlist pop, there’s thoughtful wordplay. Is there a message you’re hoping to share and what else can you tell fans about your music?

Tom: I’m just trying to be real with people. I want people to connect with that authenticity and know that it’s okay to be yourself. I spent a big part of my life trying to be what I thought other people wanted me to be and I’m done with that. I’m a really deep feeling, emotional person and I think that definitely comes through in these new songs.


Tom: Your album is called Never Late Than Better.  What’s the meaning behind the title ?

Wes: The meaning is live now.  It’s a play on words and reversal of the title track (Better Late Than Never); you have to live your best life now, because why not? I think if there’s a critique of how I was raised in the religion, it’s that extreme groups are just focused on an idea of the afterlife – they are obsessed with a belief about the future. I don’t have that belief anymore. I think ‘now’ is where there’s joy and excitement.  I wish I would’ve discovered all this and done the record years ago, but – I’m thrilled to do it now – even during a freaking Pandemic. If you’re breathing, then it’s not too late to be who you want to be and make your life worth living in the now, because in reality that’s all we really have.

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(Right) Wesley David. Photo credit: Cherish Rider Photography (Left) From, Tom. Photo credit: Zury Rose


Wesley David

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From, Tom

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Today, atmospheric rock band TREASVRE and reggae powerhouse Roots of Creation (#1 on the Billboard Reggae charts) come together for a fun edition of Bands Interviewing Bands.

More info on these guys below but for now, let’s dive straight into this interview!

Roots of Creation: Where did you come up with the description on your IG page “Atmospheric Rock from San Francisco?” It immediately hooks me in and makes me want to listen. 

TREASVRE: It took us such a long time to land on this description! We honestly can’t remember when it finally clicked. We like to use the term “atmospheric” to embody the cinematic feel we create with all the synth tones we use, without people thinking we are a shoegaze or post rock band. While we borrow elements from many different genres, we never felt like we fit nicely in any of them as a category. One day we just thought to ourselves, “we’re just like a rock band, but with more atmosphere!” and the genre Atmospheric Rock stuck.

TREASVRE: How long did it take to come up with the arrangements for the Grateful Dub covers? Did a lot of the arrangements come quick after jamming them out, or was it a long labor of love trying to balance the styles of reggae with The Dead?

Roots of Creation: For our Grateful dub album, most of the songs had been worked out live, but once we got into the studio we spent a lot of time figuring out what we could add to those arrangements to make them more lush and full. we’ve started playing around with arrangements for Volume 2 – Tal (Keyboards)


Roots of Creation: What kind of influence does the city of SF have on your music and lifestyle? There is so much (counter)cultural and musical history to delve into.

TREASVRE: We all grew up in the bay area, so it has so many inspirations for each of us individually. Walking down Haight Street or passing by Hippie Hill, it’s hard not to think about Jefferson Airplane, Sly, Janice Joplin, Santana and all the amazing rock artists that used to call San Francisco home. But honestly, a huge influence on us has always been the DIY Hardcore and Metal scene throughout Redwood City and Berkeley. These were the first local shows that were all ages when we were growing up, and so we’ve always held these musical influences and DIY sensibilities close to our heart.


TREASVRE: If RoC could collaborate with any artist, who would you like to do a collaboration with?

Roots of Creation: So many! Buju! Damian Marley! Stick Figure! Rebelution! – Tal (Keyboards) 

Roots of Creation: Tell us more about Evan. He seems like your secret weapon with the ability to engineer, drum and synthesize! Do you do a lot of self producing, bring people into the fold or a hybrid? We have done a little of each and are super excited to be exploring self-production with various members of the band currently

TREASVRE: As time goes on, Evan’s talents are becoming less and less of a secret! He truly is a man of many talents, and really helps us craft the overall sound. Having someone in the group with such versatility really allows us the freedom to think outside the box with how we write and record. We used to do more self-producing, but it requires a lot of Evan’s time. With all our upcoming releases, we decided to go into a studio to have them produced. There is something nice about having everything set up for you, while all the band has to do is focus on playing. A lesser known secret is Evan’s graphic design abilities. He did the artwork for our latest release Devils / Echoes, and is currently working on art for future releases!

TREASVRE: RoC seems to put on an awesome, high energy, live show! Have you been doing a lot of live streams since the pandemic? If so, how have you been trying to translate the energy of your shows, into an online format? 

Roots of Creation: I was doing a “Friday Night LIVE” live stream every week for four months. It kept me sane and kept the band alive haha. It’s a completely different beast. I feel like it’s part game show, part comedy, part marketing, part performance, part therapy.  – Brett (Guitar/Vocals) 


Roots of Creation: With heavy (and important) themes of “Struggle” “Self-Doubt” and “Loneliness” Does music help you overcome these feelings? Is songwriting and performing therapeutic for you?  

TREASVRE: Yes, it’s definitely part of how we process our emotions and make sense of the world. Sam & Sabrina are our primary lyricists, and they often pull from their personal experiences when crafting the words to a song. While they’re thinking about lyrics, we also work as a band to hone in on the feelings and story we want to convey with the music. It really does force us to reflect, analyze, and come to terms with so many challenging aspects of being human. Performing is where it comes full circle. When the audience feels the music and we’re on stage feeling it resonates with them, it’s a cathartic experience. The energy in the room during a live show is something we sorely miss, and we can’t wait to get back to performing whenever that’s a possibility. 


TREASVRE is a band of five San Francisco Bay Area natives that blends elements of post-rock and shoegaze with rich synth textures, heavy guitar riffs, and electronic rhythms. Vocalists Samantha Peña and Sabrina Simonton create wistful harmonies that underscore the themes of nostalgia, melancholy, and hopefulness found in their lyrics. The drama and depth conveyed by the music creates a distinctly cinematic quality — one that captures the complex range of human emotion in beautiful and inspiring ways and begs to be experienced live.

The first of four new releases coming this year, Devils / Echoes EP wrestles with heavy themes that are especially pertinent during these times of social isolation. Through poignant and haunting imagery, these two songs examine how loneliness and self-doubt can take control, as well as the struggle to break free without losing oneself.

TREASVRE’s thoughtful take on these complex emotions are backed up by driving guitars, saturated synths, and groovy rhythms, creating a mood and energy that is hard to overlook.

For fans of:
M83, Mew, Autolux



From the #1 charting Billboard Reggae album, Grateful Dub: A Reggae-Infused Tribute To The Grateful Dead, singer/guitarist/producer Brett Wilson, and his band Roots of Creation, celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original Grateful Dead release of “Casey Jones” by premiering an official music video of the song that was originally penned by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia, and released by the Grateful Dead 50 years ago this month in June 1970 from the album Workingman’s Dead.

For their version of the song, Roots of Creation is joined by guest vocalist Dan Kelly of the Southern California Reggae band Fortunate Youth, while the track is complemented by the tight production of original Bob Marley engineering legend Errol “Tuff Sound” Brown. The recording has a spirited upbeat funky vibe, with explosive guitars and a unique Reggae tinge that would probably make both Bob and Jerry “smile smile smile….”


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Bands Interviewing Bands: TREASVRE (top) photo credit: Jeff Straw. Roots of Creation (bottom) photo credit



This week, we hosted a conversation between two inspiring women – both acting as genre tastemakers in their own right! Lia Menaker, a soulful vocalist with a modern twist of pop, electronic, and alternative R&B sounds, and Richitta, an up-and-coming artist in the R&B and hip-hop genres, with colorful vocals and pop rhythms steeped in her influential Chicago roots.

Richitta: One word to describe yourself as an artist? Why?

Lia Menaker: Soulful.

My music tends to come from a very honest, deep, raw place…a place of deep, passionate emotion and expression.

LM: I see you’re from the suburbs of Chicago. How has the city shaped you and your music? 

Richitta: Chicago has a history of great music, and that makes me want to continually challenge myself to create at my highest level.

Richitta: What is your favorite song from your EP ‘I Am Kyrøs’? Why?

LM: I think it keeps changing. At the moment, I think the opening track “All My Life” is my favorite. I like the tribal nature of it, and I think the chorus is the catchiest of the songs.

LM: Tell me about your latest release, “Quit Playin” – what inspired the song, and how did you go about creating it? 

Richitta: The song was inspired by frustration. I was tired of the dishonesty, cheating and selfishness. My producer Darius Holland sent the beat to me, I used my voice memo to write the song, and then went in the studio to record the song.

Richitta: Describe your songwriting process?

LM: So far, it has changed with every album (or singles, in the case of 2017) I’ve released. But right now, I usually start with a general topic (or maybe even just a feel I want), and I start playing around with a beat first. I loop it, and keep adding to the loop with ideas. I may add vocal effects for some texture and color, so I have more inspiration to create a melody to. Then I start using gibberish words (that occasionally stick!) to improv a melody too… all playing around, until something hits me in the right place. Then, I’ll add some keys and synth and such. Then I’ll put it to rest for a bit, and go back a few weeks or months later and start forming a true structure from the loop. And I’ll tweak things, add effects or change parts, write the lyrics and replace the scratch vocals with a real melody/vocal take.

LM: I love that 60’s pop feel to the groove in “Hurt” from your ‘Dreams Come True’ album. How did you come up with that instrumentation? 

Richitta: I told my producer that I wanted an old-school beat, and he came up with the instrumentation for “Hurt.”

Richitta: I love your theme streams. Can you explain what they are and how you came up with this idea?

LM: Thank you! I honestly can’t remember how I came up with it, but I’ve been live streaming music weekly on Twitch since November and after a while was struggling to find new content to play, outside of my own writing and improv looping. So I thought it would be a fun way to keep switching things up and engaging people while also challenging me.

LM: Before your latest release, you released an album in 2014. How do you feel you and your music has changed between then and now?

Richitta: I am more fearless with my music. I no longer hold myself back for fear of what others will say.

Richitta: Can you share a lesson you have learned that would be helpful to another artist?

LM: To keep moving forward. Don’t let any one song, or review, or setback, or form of rejection deter you from creating, growing, thriving, and doing what you do. Just stay focused on the music, how to keep getting better at it, and how to keep reaching people with it.

LM: Tell us – what’s your favorite guilty pleasure song? 

Richitta: Tiffany Evans – “TMI”.

Richitta: What is next for you?

LM: Lots of new music I’ll be releasing. All collaborations, which is super exciting! A rapper from Texas, JClay, is releasing a song soon that I’ll be featured singing on, plus I’m working with a jazz funk band based in Paris on a new tune. And more music as well, though these are the two closest to being done and released.

LM: What projects are you either currently working on, or gearing up to work on next? 

Richitta: I am planning to drop another single soon. Stay tuned.

Bands Interviewing Bands: Lia Meneker (bottom) photo credit: Liora Arianna. Richitta Taylor (top) photo credit: Gary Ward



We are so so excited to bring you another edition of Bands Interviewing Bands, where we bring two artists together for a dynamic interview covering everything from their creative process to their take on the music industry. 

This time we’re pairing up Wolf Rd, who tackles everything from heartbreak and toxic friendships to mortality and regret, and are heavily defined by their roots in their strong brotherhood in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with Austin based Sleeve Cannon, a rock band that blends their music with garage, psychedelic, blues, pop, & punk into a genre that can only be defined as their own.

Check out this week’s conversation as they delve into unexpected musical influences, a mutual love for live performances, and insider music industry advice.

Wolf Road: Congratulations on releasing your debut LP ‘KAPTV’! Normally, the release of a record is accompanied by lots of shows or touring, but obviously we’re living in unprecedented times. How are you guys staying busy? Have you come up with any interesting ways to promote the new record?

Sleeve Cannon: Thanks man! It was definitely weird to have our release coincide with this pandemic. We’ve really had to be more vigorous than we’ve ever been about promoting ourselves online and trying to reach new ears that way. We’re also using our online presence to talk about racial justice and inequality when we can, just because it’s something important to all of us. I’m a very silver-lining focused person though, I think this gap time will ultimately be a positive thing for our writing process.


SC: Obviously, this cursed year has ripped live music away from the world. So just to be even more sad and nostalgic, what’s the most memorable experience y’all have had while playing live?

WR: R.I.P. concerts in 2020. We’ve only done a couple shows so far, but they’ve all been really great. I think one thing that always gets us pumped up is playing “Oakton” live. Whenever we get to the end of the song people get up in our faces or get onstage to sing the refrain, the whole “I crossed my heart you broke it” part. There’s something really powerful about having people scream your own songs back at you. It’s goosebumps every time.

WR: What is the most rewarding part about being in a band for you? Some people are totally focused on playing live, others fall in love with the creative process or recording music. Maybe it’s even the influence you have on listeners or the ability to spread a message like the themes on ‘KAPTV.’

SC: Personally, the songwriting process is my favorite aspect. Taking a single lyrical phrase or melody or riff and crafting a song around that is such a cathartic experience. Even when the trial and error process of smoothing it out gets frustrating, it’s always coming from a place of love and excitement. It’s firing on all cylinders when it’s going right and it’s an incomparable feeling. 

SC: I can definitely hear and appreciate the influence of bands like Chicago’s Fall Out Boy on some of your vocal melodies on this EP! Coming from Des Plaines, how else has the music scene of Chicago shaped your sound? 

WR: Totally! We’re all huge Fall Out Boy fans. I think it’s impossible not to be influenced by the Chicago scene when you’re a band in the area. Certain bands like Rise Against, Fall Out Boy, Alkaline Trio – and now even Knuckle Puck and Real Friends – are just so pervasive in our scene that it’s impossible not to take notice. You’re either influenced by it, or you intentionally push back against those sounds. In our case, I’d say we’ve borrowed bits and pieces from all those bands I mentioned.

WR: There’s a lot of classic rock flair in Tre’s guitar solos on ‘KAPTV.’ Who are some of your guys’ influences when it comes to smoking hot solos? I feel like I’m picking up on some Jimi Hendrix in ‘Chameleon’ with the aggressive bluesy playing and grungy wah pedal shred.

SC: I was raised on a lot of classic rock, Slash, David Gilmour, and of course Hendrix was always a favorite. I studied some classical guitar in high school while also getting more into the funk/jazz world, and I try to blend a lot of those phrasings and voices while still staying true to my hard blues-rock roots.

SC: In my experience bands often have at least one huge musical influence that doesn’t really directly translate to their own band’s sound. Who’s one artist people might be surprised to learn that you admire and are inspired by?

WR: That’s a great question! I’ve never thought about that before. I think Rush is a big one for us. I think their lyrical depth has pushed us to write about things like mortality, politics, and existential topics, so that we’re not just singing about girls all of the time (but we definitely do that too).

WR: We’re gonna spin that right back at you. You guys are really upfront about wanting to incorporate a variety of influences into your sound. Who is one artist people might be surprised to learn you’re inspired by?

SC: I don’t think people would know it from my work in Sleeve Cannon, but Nile Rodgers and Chic, those disco type grooves are a heavy influence. And even more out of left field, I often think of the Tuvan group Huun Huur Tu with how I sometimes layer certain guitar parts and drone type things, and of course, I learned how to throat-sing from them.

SC: Chris & Nick, I saw you have the same last name. Are y’all related? If so, how does that affect your band dynamic, if at all?

WR: The Hoffmann boys are definitely related! We’re brothers, and I think it affects our band dynamic in a couple ways. Every band probably believes they’re a super tight group – but in our case, we have two actual brothers, two college fraternity brothers (Geoff and Devin at Indiana Tech), and three of us are also neighbors. Sometimes we can get a little heated, but I’d say the level of transparency we have always leads to better Wolf Rd songs at the end of the day.

WR: You guys formed back in 2017. Now that you’ve been playing together for a couple years, is there anything that’s surprised you about the music industry or creative process? Is there any piece of advice you’d give to yourself if you could go back in time?

SC: Practice to a metronome, invest in earplugs, self-imposed deadlines are usually more stressful than productive so let things flow and happen organically in their own time.

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Bands Interviewing Bands: Wolf Rd (top) photo credit: Alex Zarek. Sleeve Cannon (bottom) photo credit: Bethony Harnden


BANDS INTERVIEWING BANDS: Andrew Levin + Greg Owens & the Whisky Weather


Today we’re highlighting Andrew Levin and Greg Owens & the Whisky Weather in our latest edition of Bands Interviewing Bands. I love this series because it gives us the chance to highlight a little more of the behind the scenes that happens when musicians talk to other musicians—you know, talking method, lyrics, production, and all the little things in between.

To introduce our two artists today:

Andrew Levin has delighted audiences across the globe with his unique and soulful approach to music. His instantly recognizable sound is eclectic, experimental, and accessible, meticulously forged from years of working with different musicians from many walks of life and genres. Commitment to the craft shines through as Andrew is equally adept at writing a powerful song, creating evolving soundscapes, performing on a variety of instruments, and weaving this together in a way that makes sense.

Greg Owens grew up in a small rural town in West Tennessee just 80 miles North of Memphis. The youngest of four siblings, Greg often spent hours making mix tapes of their CD collections. Inspired by the songs of the nineties featuring The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, and Alice In Chains, Greg started playing guitar and writing songs at the age of 10. By 16, he was packing out local dive bars and felt he had found his purpose. 

Alright, alright, I won’t keep you waiting anymore. On with the interview!

Greg Owens: I know you play guitar and piano. Do you play any other instruments?

Andrew Levin: Yep! I play drums and bass as well as do a lot of sound design type of stuff. Of course I also sing vocals, which I would consider an instrument in its own way. I naturally suck at singing, so I had to work extra hard on that aspect of my musicianship.


AL: Do you usually start with the lyrics or the music? Or a little bit of both? 

GO: Usually I’m sitting with my guitar and I start playing a chord progression that inspires a melody, which then inspires lyrics.

GO: Which instrument do you find yourself writing on the most and how does that influence your songwriting? For instance, is a song you write on piano going to sound wildly different from a song written on guitar, or is it pretty much the same?

AL: That’s a good question! While I do write on piano, I tend to mainly write on acoustic guitar. Reason being, I thoroughly believe that a well-written song will fit with any genre of music, arrangement type, etc, and I find that the simplicity of acoustic guitar can help me get there.

AL: Do you find that the best songs you write come to you in a short period of time, say an hour or two, or do you find yourself writing songs over a few weeks? When I mean writing songs, I am referring to the chords/melody, not necessarily the arrangement. 

GO: Most of my more popular songs seem to get written relatively quickly. The first draft anyways. I always go back and edit. I did recently finish a song that I started writing a decade ago and I really like it.

GO: What inspires you to write? Are you generally writing about more personal things that are specifically happening to you or do you normally get inspiration from an outside muse like books, other music, or perhaps other people?

AL: It completely changes day to day. I generally like to tell stories, paint a picture, etc. My favorite musicians have inspired me to be a better person, to be more empathetic, and to think of things differently. That is really my main goal with writing my own music.

AL: What instruments are you playing on “Shouldn’t Be This Hard”? What is your production process usually like, and how much rehearsing do you do with your band before going into the studio? 

GO: On my new single, “Shouldn’t Be This Hard”, I play acoustic and electric guitar. So, being a singer/songwriter in Music City, I don’t really have a band. I just have, kind of a revolving door of musicians I call on, and they work with me if they’re not busy with another project. Most every musician here is a hired gun. For this track, I cut the demo with my friend and producer/engineer, Taylor Lonardo at his home studio. We then sent that to our friend who plays drums, Matt Heller, and all three of us recorded the rhythm tracks at Matt’s home studio.

GO: In your new single, “If I Died Today”, you sing “I wanna know what you’ll say when I’m gone”. I know as I get older this question comes up more often for me. Is this something you think about a lot and ideally, what might someone say when you’re gone? 

AL: To be perfectly honest if isn’t something I think about a ton. It was more inspired by hearing what people have said about others after they pass away and whether or not what they were saying was genuine. Ideally, I’d hope people would just remember me as a kind person with a good sense of humor and a passion for music/community! 

AL: I know that you talk about there being too many choices in “Shouldn’t Be This Hard”. Do you believe love is a gamble or an investment? Or both? 

GO: I think it’s both. I’d say at first, it’s a gamble. There’s no real way to know if it’s going to work out forever with someone before you start a relationship. Then, as you become more confident in the relationship you invest your time and energy so, in that way it’s an investment.

GO: I got the chance to dig through your song catalog some and one thing that stuck out to me was how impressive the production was. Are you involved in the production side of the music or do you hire someone? Are you working out of a home studio setup or is it more of a commercial studio? 

AL: Thanks! Yes I produce the majority of my own stuff. Production is a big part of what I do. That said, I do like to work with others as well. For this past song I collaborated with my friend Will Mandell at his studio, Broken Horn Studios in San Mateo, CA. He did the final mix down, recording, played bass and we worked together to get some real cool guitar tones.

AL: I’m interested to hear about your experience in Nashville. Being a California based artist (I’ve lived in LA for several years as well as SF), Nashville always seems like this cool, parallel universe of a music scene.

GO: I can’t imagine living anywhere but Nashville. The music community is super tight-knit and very diverse. That being said, it’s really tough. There’s a ton of talent here. I’d say that’s how living here has influenced me the most. It’s really made me step up my game. Some of my favorite local bands are The Weeks (rock) and Skylar Gregg (Americana).

GO: Let’s end with a fun one. If you could assemble the perfect band with musicians alive or dead, who would be in that band?

AL: Oh man… I’m gonna get weird with it. Not sure if this would work but if it would, it’d be beautiful: Stevie Wonder, George Duke, Atticus Ross, Jaun Alderete, Jeff Beck and Tony Royster Jr.

Andrew Levin:

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Greg Owens & the Whisky Weather:

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Bands Interviewing Bands: Andrew Levin (top) photo credit: Stefan Aronsen. Greg Owens & the Whisky Weather (bottom) photo credit: Alex Crawford

BANDS INTERVIEWING BANDS: Joss Jaffe + Waiting For London


For this Bands Interviewing Bands we paired up Joss Jaffe, who combines reggae and pop to create a blend of organic and electric sounds, and Waiting For London, an alt-rock band who describes themselves as “hookier than a bass tournament”. Jaffe has appeared in numerous festivals including Beloved, Lighting in a Bottle, Lucidity, Wanderlust, and more, and his album Meditation Music even reached the top 10 Billboard New Age Chart i 2019.

Waiting For London are gearing up for their June 6th EP release, ‘Worth The Wait’, the band promises an explosion of pop, rock, and even jazz and classical influences for a fusion of influences and personalities. 

In this interview, the two collide words to discuss method, share intimate stories, and discuss life during COVID-19.

Joss: The songs are awesome and guitar-driven, but I couldn’t help noticing the bass propelling the songs as well (loved the bass breakdown in Make You Mine). Let’s give a shout out to the Rhythm Section. I’m curious what the dynamic is like when you guys compose the ‘nuts and bolts’ of your songs?

WFL:  Great question!  It’s been a mixture of strategies so far.  Some songs (like “What Are You Waiting For”) had the music written by the producers at Loud Lion Productions in CT.   Ryan and Chris started working with them in February 2019 to write some songs for the new band before finishing the lineup. Considering the producers had the music mostly created, Ryan wrote lyrics for the songs.  Other songs, such as “Make You Mine” and the rest on our upcoming EP Worth The Wait, have been from Ryan’s previous solo career.  When he brought them to the table, we worked individually to develop our parts before bringing it to practice to see if it fit.  As for new material, we like to write guitars first usually, so we tend to start with a new riff from Ryan or Casey. Then we bring it to practice for Chris and Kevin to add the low end.


Waiting For London: What made you get into music?

Joss Jaffe: My Mom forced me to play guitar when I was 9. Literally. She said, my Dad and I have decided you must play a musical instrument. You can choose but you have to do it. Of course I chose the electric guitar. I remember being incredibly frustrated. My fingers just wouldn’t do it. They’d be bruised and have grooves in them from the strings. I actually hated it. After 1 year I demanded the lessons stopped. I was completely through. OK she said. A few years later when I went to a different school that had a big outdoors program, all the cool kids at the school played guitar including the girls (rawr). So I dusted out that old guitar from the closet and never went back. (Happy Mother’s Day!)


Joss: The melodies are super sweet, even in the hard rock inspired The Calling you have a lovely, laid back pop-style vocal melody on top. I’m curious if this dynamic of light and heavy was intentional and if you like juxtaposing different elements and if so, how you came to that style?

WFL:  Yes, it’s actually intentional and we’re glad you noticed that!  We’re all influenced by numerous genres of music.  Even though our music is categorized as pop/rock alternative, you can find elements of all sorts of genres in our songs.  For instance, in our Worth The Wait EP, we have songs that infuse a jazz drum beat (due to Kevin being a jazz drummer) with swinging pop/punk rock guitar melodies from Casey.  We also have songs that have a hint of classical piano from Ryan’s love of classical music partnered with Chris’s heavy style of playing bass.  We came into this band wanting to play music we love, so we decided to combine our influences to create a unique sound.


WFL: How do you find time to balance music with life?

JJ: There is a great book called Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. It describes how different artists over the epochs have divvied up their day. It’s true there are only so many hours in a day so we have to make them count! The thing I thought was interesting about the book is that there really was no formula, everyone had a wildly different schedule. The only similarity I could ascertain was that everyone just kept at it. They did something every day, even in the dry spells. So that is my main goal. Do a little bit every day to move the ball forward and over time we accomplish our goals, complete the albums, compose the songs. 


Joss: How are you staying sane in the era of Covid-19?

WFL:  A couple of us are essential employees, so we’ve been working.  Others are simply trying to stay busy and productive to stay sane!  It helps to keep in mind that there will be an end in sight for the quarantine in the North East and we’ll be able to play shows again soon.

WFL: What have you found is the best way to communicate with your fans?

JJ: Prior to Covid19 I think the best way has always been touring and performing live. That face-to-face contact is really the best way in my opinion and I really love a good live show. This unprecedented time has highlighted something that has already been here. The enormous power of social media and online tools to reach fans. I (like probably most other artists) have now done my first Zoom concert, Facebook Lives, Instagram Lives, Youtube Premiers, and various other ways to interact with fans online. Ultimately at the end of the day what you are looking for is making a connection, whether it’s face-to-face or millions of miles away through the online portal, you have to make that personal connection count and feel real. 

Joss: Where is Waiting For London going Next?

WFL:  Chris says, “To the top!”  Haha, actually we have plans of performing more once the quarantine lifts and working on more original songs to add to our set.  In the near future, we’ll be promoting our EP, doing some Livestreams, and launching all sorts of contests for our fans.  Regarding long term, we’d like to tour eventually and continue doing what we love.


Waiting for London

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Joss Jaffe

Bands Interviewing Bands: Joss Jaffe (top) Photo Credit: Kim Jae Yoon. Waiting For London (bottom) photo credit: Photo Credit: Maeve Imagery