Photos and video: The 1975 at The Fillmore; April 17.

If you missed it, catch my interview story and Q&A with singer Matty Healy right here.

The video was filmed in HD, and you can increase window size and quality.

Little Daylight singer Nikki Taylor’s near-death experience in Honduras

Brooklyn synth-pop trio Little Daylight have visited San Francisco at least twice in 2013, but you may not have seen them if you’re not a fan of Bastille, whom they opened for both times. I just happened to be at both and they grew on me. For this interview, I spoke to singer Nikki Taylor as she was rushing to find a quiet place after getting coffee. We touched on many topics, and they were so different that it was hard to squeeze them into a traditional story. 

Catch the show April 21 at the Independent.

The story ran yesterday in The Bay Bridged.

Little Daylight

You’ve gotten your hands on a lot of other artists’ songs. Where did this interest in remixing other peoples’ music come from?

When we started the band, we started with the idea to do remixes and our own music at the same time. We had original songs that we were working on … it just happened that the remixes came out first. It was a faster process to create them, and it was faster for us to put them out. It was fun for us to work on them, and over that entire time, we were working on our originals.

How does your full-length debut album, “Hello Memory,” (out this summer) compare to your “Tunnel Vision” EP?

It takes a lot of the ideas on the EP and expands from there. The only song that’s on the EP and the album is Overdose. We wrote nine new songs for it. There are some bigger, poppier, glossier a la “Glitter and Gold” and “Overdose.” Then we have some darker things in there and a little bit more of a journey into it.

Tell me something interesting about each of you.

Matt is a very talented guy in many different things. He’s a fantastic chef. He occasionally makes dinner for us and all of our team members, and everything he makes is amazing. He’s also an excellent photographer, so he took almost every single one of the photos that we used for our remix covers. And our EP cover, even though we didn’t design it ourselves, the little pieces of photos that are in there, they’re all Matt’s photos.

(Eric) is a very sporty guy. Actually, they both are. Zeiler is a big fan of basketball. He’s always out there on the court. He always brings a football with us, and he’s out there with Matt in the parking lot.

I love to travel. I’ve been to almost every country in Central America at least once, if not twice. It’s one of my favorite places on earth. I love hanging out in the jungle. 

What’s your favorite country in Central America?

When I went to Honduras (in 2006), it was really special. We were off the tourist path because there’s not so many tourists that go through there. We went to this huge lake that in any other country would have tons of hostels and motels, and there was only one hotel, and we were the only people in it. We had this huge lake to ourselves and the fishermen. We kind of almost died though. The roads in Honduras are shitty, and we were driving in a rainstorm down the side of a mountain. There were huge boulders – I guess the rocks just fell down onto the street, and we were driving this little Buick from the ’70s. (The driver) went to swerve around one of these huge rocks, and we’d just spin around, and this road is not very wide. I literally came to peace with myself, like, “This is it. This is how it goes. This is where I die. At least I’m traveling. It’s OK.”

On her favorite shows:

The best live shows for me are when there’s a real, palpable energy in the air and a relationship that happens between you and the audience, and you put something out there. You put yourself on the line and make it worth something to you, and the audience goes there with you. When that happens, it can be very magical.

Little Daylight remix their way to success

Check out my story about the band at The Bay Bridged.

Come back to the blog tomorrow for a bonus Q&A with singer Nikki Taylor!

Go see their show April 21 at the Independent.

Little Daylight

Conway’s image inspired by music, not expectations

Read my story about the Los Angeles singer-songwriter at The Bay Bridged.

Find out about Kassia’s fashion sense and musical inspirations right here on this blog

Go see their show April 19 at  Bill Graham Civic.

Conway

LA’s Conway on chasing musical dragons

Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Kassia Conway, whose goal is to make you want to dance to her songs, was last in the Bay Area while opening for St. Lucia. Those shows were at the Independent. When she returns this weekend, it will be a much larger venue — opening for Ellie Goulding at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. The show is sold out.

I spoke to Conway, whose debut album will be out later this year, about music, image and fashion. That story will run in the next day or two at The Bay Bridged. Until then, here’s a teaser.

Kassia Conway

On looking in unique places for musical inspiration:

Actually, the harmonies and some of the vocal work that happen in traditional music, to me, is fascinating. It gives me ideas, like, “Actually, I should try to sing high here. That really worked.” And I’ll listen to reggae and be like, “That bass line is so loud. I love that. Let’s mix the song with a loud bass line because that shit is bumpin.’”

Is there anyone you try to model your music after?

I don’t think anything before I write, other than what that beat sounds like and what my mood is. I’m often surprised at the result. I try not to be influenced by the things I hear or copy anything, ever. The minute that I feel like I’m doing something that I’ve heard, I’m like, “This sucks.” Part of why I love music is that it’s like chasing a dragon. You don’t know what’s about to happen, and you have to create new stuff in a world where there’s so much music. It’s the personal challenge of “What can I make that I haven’t heard before?” that gets me writing. But of course there are people that I admire. Or I’ll listen back, and then I’m like, “Oh shit, the first second sounds like the Talking Heads.” God I love David Byrne.

I’ve heard you handcraft your on-stage outfits?

I will decide the morning of, “Oh my God, I’m going to be a panther.” And I go to vintage stores or raid my closet, alter clothes, rip things up, go buy something new and just start making. It’s completely mood-based.

So what was your mood this morning?

No. 1, it’s raining, so I must be warm, but I don’t want to be dull. So I went with super sparkly red pants to be a little bit obnoxious because I also feel like when you’re an opener, being cool is out of the question. Nobody knows who you are, so it’s not a cool contest. It’s like, “Notice this, even if you want to make fun of it.” So went for sequined black, white zebra-striped shirt that I bought at a vintage store and sparkly red flaming tights, which would keep me warm but also be obnoxious. If I’m going to go down, I’m going to go down big.

Review, photos and video: Bastille at the Warfield - April 10, 2014

Check out the review at The Bay Bridged.

See my previous Bastille coverage, which includes interviews with Dan Smith, photos and four concert videos, right here on the blog.

The video was filmed in HD, so you can increase window size and quality.

Review, photos and videos - Haim at the Fillmore, April 9, 2014

Read my review and see some awesome photos by Paige K. Parsons at The Bay Bridged.

The videos were filmed in HD so you can increase the window size and quality. I particularly recommend “Mustang Sally.” The Haim sisters don’t get to jam with their parents in public very often these days. You can also check my YouTube archives for two other Haim tunes from a preview San Francisco show.

Daniel Lanois: Revisiting ‘Wrecking Ball’

Read my story about Lanois’ work with Emmylou Harris on the making of the “Wrecking Ball” album and tour in Paste Magazine.

Catch a bonus Q&A with Lanois about the making of “Wrecking Ball” and much more right HERE.

Check out photos and a video from the San Francisco show HERE.

Daniel Lanois

Life surpasses wildest dreams for The 1975

Read my story on the band at The Bay Bridged.

Catch a bonus Q&A with Matty Healy on the blog.

See them at The Fillmore April 17 and 18.

The 1975

The 1975’s Matty Healy on the truth of three chords and hair battles with Bastille

The mohawked frontman of Manchester’s The 1975 drops the phone just as our call is connected. "Oh, for f—-’s sake," Matty Healy cringes, and I can tell I’m not his first interview of the morning. But just as quickly the frustration dissipates. The 1975 play not one but two sold-out shows at the Fillmore next week. You can read about the quartet’s quick rise in a couple of days at The Bay Bridged. Until then, here’s a quick Q&A fans may appreciate.

You started as a punk cover band, but your influences, I read, were Peter Gabriel, Michael Jackson and other 80s artists. I only presume that punk, with three chords, was easier to play? Or did the other influences come later?

It definitely came later … but that’s also the music I grew up around. And in the ‘90s, I was a witness to the Brit pop thing as a child. I was surrounded by melodic pop music. But as you said, when you first start out, it’s easier to make noise and play three chords. 

What has your band been up to?

We haven’t had any time off in a long time. We’ve had the last four days off and we’ve actually been able to calm down and sit around. We’ve started working on a little bit of music.  We’d already started but we were focused a bit more on a piece of music we’d been working on on the road. I’ve been reading quite a bit. My stepdad just written a book and it’s amazing. But we’re perpetually on tour.

You’ve talked, previously, about how the lyrics of your debut album are your diary. Has this led to some negative attention from fans or critics? Would you want to get less personal in the future?

I’ve never been (called out) on my lyrics too much. . … It’s not so much a diary as it was a scrapbook of ideas and conversations pieced together. The music is the only thing that has coherence. There’s no particular narrative running through and out of it. It’s a portrait of modern life. It’s very conversational.

You’ve played shows with Bastille. Who has the better hair, you or Dan?

Who’s got bigger hair? I think I’ve got bigger hair. I can take Dan on in the hair game.

image

Photos & Video: Emmylou Harris and Daniel Lanois at the Warfield, 4/5.

As always, the video was filmed in HD so you can increase window size and quality.

Check out my most-recent Q&A with Daniel Lanois here, and stay tuned for a full story about the ‘Wrecking Ball’ tour and album re-release in Paste Magazine.

How BottleRock Napa Valley’s rebirth came to be

BottleRock Napa Valley is back, led by a different team of investors who are trying to right the ship. Read my story at The Bay Bridged.

Can’t remember what happened last year? Here’s my coverage, replete with interviews, photos, videos, and all-around tom-foolery.

BottleRock Napa Valley

Daniel Lanois on making and re-creating ‘Wrecking Ball’ with Emmylou Harris

I’ve interviewed producer/musician Daniel Lanois three times, now, and have been able to meet up with him a couple of times. In fact, you should check out one my previous stories, for the Bay Area News Group. He’s very thoughtful in conversation, and a great guy to know a bit. My newest story about him, and his tour with Emmylou Harris, will run in about a week in Paste Magazine. (Oh yeah, I will be contributing to Paste every once in a while… surprise!) Until then, here are some bits that didn’t make it in to the story.

Also, check out the tour when it rolls through town. In the Bay Area, that is April 5 at the Warfield.

Daniel Lanois and Emmylou Harris

You produced a defining album for Emmylou Harris by impacting each song with your fingerprints but allowing her to remain true to her roots and her own style. Are you at all surprised the album has held up as well as it did?

I’m very happy that it’s stood the test of time. As I hear it now, including the outtakes, it’s just got so much love and passion poured into it. I think that’s probably what keeps it rising to the surface. 

Do you have a favorite song on the album?

I was very much looking forward to covering a Jimi Hendrix song with Emmy because I always felt that Jimi Hendrix had some country in his guitar playing. On things like “Little Wing,” and obviously what I’m calling “Waterfall” (“May This Be Love”). I put two and two together when I started working with Emmy. I said, “Let’s give it a surprise.” It may have been one of the good ideas that I had. There’s so many good songs on there. “Orphan Girl” is a real little beauty and lends itself well to harmony.

Did you have a “Wrecking Ball” song was most challenging or most rewarding for you to record and produce?

The most slippery one was “Deeper Well.” There’s quite a laughable version that shows up on this reissue that the tempo is so fast that I can’t believe Emmy got the words out of her mouth. Anyone who’s a fan of “Wrecking Ball” will get a kick out of that one.

What will your role be on this tour? Opener? Sideman?

I’m Emmy’s partner on this tour; her music director… just like on the record, the guy who waves his arms and tries to pull it all together. I’m (also) planning on doing a little bit of an opening segment on steel guitar and maybe some piano, and that will segue into the main “Wrecking Ball” set. That will give everybody a chance to get themselves some drinks and be seated.

Will you get to do some of your own songs, maybe even Black Dub?

Probably not Black Dub. I think I’m going to lean more instrumental and do a piano version of “The Maker,” and I’ve got a couple of new little piano pieces I’m excited about. And I’m new to the piano, so it’s going to be the unveiling of my piano playing. 

You love to work with others; any artists you’d like to have as collaborators?

I’ve gone into a completely different mode right now. I’ve gone more neighborhood. I don’t feel like I need to be working with the most visible artists right now. There’s a kid for example; his name is Kyle Crane. He plays drums at a little bar at the corner. I’ve had him over for two sessions to play some beats, and he is so excited to be here. I’m getting just as much of a thrill working with an unknown right now. Wherever I am, I keep my ears and eyes open. I can hear and see beauty.

Your relationship to Laura Cole seems to be similar to the one you have with Trixey Whitley (with whom he partnered for Black Dub). Friends with her father, etc. That’s a pretty good recruitment strategy. Any of your other friends have children who can really sing and you’d love to work with?

I think that’s kind of a coincidence. (laughs) But that’s just what happens. Friends have children, and you like their kids, and then they grow up and they’re talented.

I was going to ask if any of Bono’s children have musical talent.

Oh, I believe so. One of his girls is very talented, charismatic, and I think she’s a rising actress. I’m sure she’ll be great at it. You’d have to ask Bono how the girls are doing.

Have you listened to U2’s new album that may be out this spring, this summer, this fall or maybe even in 2016; and what you think of it?

I heard some tracks with Bono, I guess about 10 months ago, and it was very vibrant and exciting. I’m sure they’ve taken it to another level by now and probably at another stage for the release.

A Toronto festival is doing a show in your honor, I heard. Tell me more about the Luminato Festival, happening on June 10, where some of your friends and other musicians will perform.

This came as a surprise. They’re going to gather to sing of my songs. There’s going to be a little orchestra. I’m excited because I’m going to ask them to do some instrumentals as well.

It must be a big honor to have your music performed by your friends and contemporaries.

It’s kind of touching and a little embarrassing. I think, “Geez, are my songs that good?” But I can stand behind a few of them.

Photos & Video: Lorde at the Fox Theater, Oakland - 3/27

The video was filmed in HD, and you can increase window size and quality.

The Kin plot their next musical robbery

Check out my story with the band at The Bay Bridged.

Read the extras here on the blog.

Read previous coverage and watch live videos here.

See them perform and speak about the social issues that matter to them Saturday at Bruno’s.

The Kin