Tag Archives alternative music

BANDS INTERVIEWING BANDS: Audrey DuBois Harris & Lyia Meta

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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.

FOLLOW:
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

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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. 

FOLLOW:

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

Read more Music News on ClicheMag.com