Interview with Eliza Hanson!

A wise woman once said, who I met virtually, “… your early 20’s is like a secret second puberty that no one prepared you for.” This statement packs a wallop that would send the most confident twentysomething to their knees. These words were uttered (gracefully typed) by Eliza Hanson, an up and coming musician and realist from Milwaukee. Hanson’s EP, “Any Day Now,” delivers an existential tale of human emotions and dilemmas we all experience, but very few of us face head on. We all suffer through isolation, doubt, and even loathing of ourselves. We must ask: can I uncover a blue sky in the storm of my troubles? Can happiness exist without sadness? Am I my own worst enemy? Eliza Hanson does not shy away these inquires of self-reflection.

 

  1. How long have you been songwriting and what made you start?

Answer: I started song writing at around 17. Before I picked up a guitar I dedicated most of my free time to Speed Skating. I skated competitively for years, but I eventually got to the level where I had to choose between planning for college or bypassing the college route and committing my life to skating at an Olympic Level. Obviously you can tell which path my 16-year-old self chose, but after quitting I realized I needed an outlet to fill the space that skating left. I ended up getting really into the guitar and songwriting kind of just came from that. I felt like I finally had a tool that allowed me to express what I couldn’t in plain words. It was kind of a purge to write songs, and it still is.

  1. On your Facebook page, you describe yourself as a folk musician who “makes tunes for sad song lovers.” Why did you choose to describe yourself that way?

Answer: Now a day it seems everyone is striving to make music you can just bop your head to, with a beer in hand, surrounded by friends, when life is good. But I’ll always be a lover of all things sad and with how saturated the Internet is today I want the people who are up alone at 2am, with a glass of whiskey to hopefully take a listen. I think it’s the heart wrenching, despondent moments that make you realize when your life is going well. So I guess I choose to describe myself that way because I believe in sad songs and what they can do for people.

  1. You seem to have a lot of pride for your hometown. How has the Milwaukee music scene shaped you as an artist?

Answer: Well I am kind of new to the scene, or at least it feels like it. It’s kind of overwhelming trying to crack into that headlining “Milwaukee Music” circle. But I am chipping away! I love Milwaukee and I think the city has a lot of outlets for independent artists to be heard, as well as a lot of people who appreciate local music and will support local artists.

  1. You just released your EP, “Any Day Now” which consists of six very powerful and emotional songs. Themes in the album are reflections of painful memories, inner desires, and waiting for the future. These themes appear to tell of a larger story of being in a state of limbo. How does your work reflect you as a person and artist?

Answer: Well ‘Any Day Now’ was a wake up call to myself. I have an awful tendency to put things into the “someday” category without actually following through with the work to make “someday” happen. I think this leads to the themes that you mentioned. When you’re in between chapters of your life the past seems to have that warm golden glow and the future seems ominous. This whole album is kind of going between the two.

 

  1. It’s always difficult to start out as a musician, writer, or any other type of creative profession. Yet, you managed to successfully release your first EP and be featured on radio stations, such as 91.7 The Edge. Can you tell me about any road blocks you have experienced and how you overcame them?

Answer: I’m very blessed that I haven’t had to suffer through any major roadblocks yet. Beginners luck maybe? The biggest barrier I face most of the time is myself and self generated negativity. But I’m starting to believe if you work hard and put that out into the universe, that energy will come back to you.

 

  1. You are only 22 years old and you are already gaining a local following. Many twenty-somethings, and even thirty-somethings, experience a type of quarter-life crisis. How do you think your album relates to the struggles young people go through?

Answer: You always hear older people reminiscing about how these years were the best years of their life and I think that haunts a lot of young people because they don’t feel they relate. I think especially now we are experiencing something completely different than the generations preceding us with this boom in social media. When you can pull a device from your pocket and within 10 minutes find a 100 peoples “high light reels” that definitely is anxiety inducing. There wasn’t this constant comparing to strangers.
I just think being in your early 20’s is like a secret second puberty that no one prepared you for.

  1. “Pawn Song” instantly caught my attention; can you offer some background to what went into writing it?

Answer: I’m so glad you liked it! That song took the longest to write on the album, around 2 years. It’s about being in a toxic relationship that you know is unhealthy for you but for some reason you just can’t pull yourself away from it. A lot of self-doubt comes from that, feeling powerless and hating yourself for being so weak. But it’s also about realizing that person has too much control over you and finding the strength to take it back.

  1. You released “Caged Bird” as a single on iTunes before releasing the EP. Would you say this song resonates with you the most?

Answer: I thought it captured the mood of the album the best. It’s the most authentic to how I felt about life when the majority of the album was written, and I wanted people that are going through the same feelings to hear it and feel less alone.

  1. “Tonawanda” is the last track and the most upbeat on “Any Day Now.” Did you intend for this song to act as the silver lining of the EP?

Answer: I did! The song is about my Elementary School and the love I had for that time in my life. It’s also one of the first songs I ever wrote so it was special to be able to feature it on my first record.

  1. I love the album cover! Why did you choose a drawing of a cabin in the woods at night? What is the significance?

Answer: Thank you! My good friend Logan Peters created the artwork and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! The cabin is based off of my grandma’s cabin in Three Lakes, Wisconsin. My family has gone up there every summer since I can remember. Again, bringing back that theme of innocence and the glow of being a kid and the nostalgia for that time.

  1. Is there anything else you think your listeners should know about you? Or, do you have a parting message?

Answer: Thank you for all the support and love! If I can make an impact on even just one person then it makes this all worth it.

 

  • Jon B

 

Deadfellow Interview

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This statement may come as a shock to most people: The 60s sound does not rest six feet under. In fact, this iconic style continues to be expanded by up and coming artists. Hayden Sammak, a long haired and bearded Philadelphian is a prime example. Sammak is an individual who expands this sound under the moniker “Deadfellow,” and he has made this sound his own. Mescalifornia: A California Dream, Deadfellow’s sophomore album, tells tales of fictional romances in a classic rock serenade. Deadfellow answers questions about his craft and newest album below.

What is the origin of the name Deadfellow? How does he differ from Hayden Sammak?
Deadfellow is a play on words. Deadfellow differs from Hayden Sammak almost totally in spelling.

How long have you been writing music and what made you start?
A while. Any creative starts doing stuff because they either want attention or they’re driven to be part of something beautiful. I’m in it for the attention.

You are from Philadelphia, yet your newest album is centered around California and LA. Why did you choose to write about these specific locations?
It’s just a vehicle to make a commentary on larger motifs—I wouldn’t make an album about 21st century lovelessness and center it around Nowhere, Iowa. California and LA are the epicenters of this particular cultural shift, except for maybe New York City.

How has the Philadelphia music scene shape your songwriting?   
It hasn’t.

The first time I heard, “Mescalifornia: A California Dream” your voice instantly reminded me of the 60s singer Gary Puckett. What vocalists influenced your singing style?

Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, Miles Davis.

Your musical style overall is reminiscent of early rock and pop, why is this?
I purposefully made this album very stylized. I hate the Beach Boys, so I listened to them exclusively for six months and then I made this record.

My favorite song on your new album is “Miss California,” what inspired you to write it?
Nothing. I thought it was a ridiculous piece of gibberish that I hummed over some chords I was fucking around with, so I kept it. Originally the words were “Miss California I love you/ Summertime like 69/ Getting hot and heavy in your mother’s chevy,” so take what you want from that. I didn’t assign a lot of meaning to it, I just wrote some nice things about a fictional girl.

Love seems to be the focus on the two albums you released so far, how have your own romantic experiences help form your music?
I don’t want to bore anyone about how love is at the core of this or that, or how my own personal experiences inform my songs. Romantic experience has some sort of impact on creative output, that’s obvious and that’s really it.
If someone wants to dig and interpret my songs as a direct reflection of my life, that’s their prerogative. To be totally honest, as a completely obscure artist, I don’t believe anyone is even interested in me enough to invest that kind of effort.

Would you say “Mescalifornia: A California Dream” has a larger overall story, rather than just consisting of individual love songs?  
It’s whatever you want it to be. If you just hear a bunch of individual love songs, then that’s what it is. If you hear a narrative, then that’s it, too. Personally, I hear a narrative.

 Did you initially anticipate radio stations taking interest in your music?
No. Whichever radio stations choose to play my music are exceptions to what radio has become—the ones that play this record, or any of my records for that matter, are almost exclusively AAA format, so that should tell you something. These aren’t radio songs, they just happen to be played on the radio sometimes.

What else do you think your listeners should know about you? Or, do you have a parting message?
Blogs are the most important part of music—make sure you read them. To artists, if blogs don’t accept your submissions, quit immediately—you’re music definitely is not good enough.

– Jon B

 

Something About Distance is the freshman album of Ocean City, a four-piece alternative group from Elizabethtown Kentucky. The feel-good rhythms and soothing vocals they produce have won them recognition in national music competitions. Their lyrics tell tales of making sense of desires for others and finding the place where you belong. They are a fresh new independent talent that will pique the interest of the wandering young and the even the old set in their ways. When they are not gaining attention from music fans, they can be seen enjoying a McDonalds breakfast while cracking inside jokes…at least according to their Facebook!

– Jon B

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Ray Cashman, Slow Drag

This Blues band includes: Ray Cashman (Vocal), Bob Bogdal (Harmonica), Mark Robinson (Guitar), Marty Reinsel (Drums), and Joe Johnson (Bass). The album was release in October 2016.

The first song ‘Fame’ sets the tone for the album. The catchy blues beat (guitar) in the beginning gives you a feel to how the whole album will sound like. The lyrics dialogs about what it is like to have fame, and the troubles that it brings.

‘She’s just a girl’ has a tone to make one get up and dance to the song. The lyrics sounds as if Cashman knew a girl who was too young for the blues, however that did not stop her from singing songs.

For a blues album, it makes me want to sit outside on a nice sunny day and enjoy the weather and the music. However, as someone who does not listen to blues often I find the album calming. The album’s beat/tone sounds a little repetitive, however I’m not a blues person to judge.

– Jessica F

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Saro

In Loving Memory is the debut EP by the Los Angeles based artist Saro. The album represents what someone is going through after the loss of love and the stages of mourning that go along with that loss. You can really tell that this is supposed to be sad as all of the songs sound very sad and full of anguish. It made me feel sad and I’ve never had love to lose so that tells you how effective the sad tone of the album is. The album also has some themes that repeat themselves in different songs. There are two different songs where Saro mentions the hollowness of humans which really makes the nice and happy cover art a trap to listen to these sad songs.

This is also one of those albums where the songs all flow into each other to make it sound smoother, you can just leave the album on and not even know if the songs you are playing are different songs. It does have the age-old classic of breakup songs where there’s a lyric that talks about how Saro thought he would be with this person till they both die. It’s a very minor nitpick but I’ve heard it so many times in breakup songs that it gets predictable after a while. All in all, I enjoyed this album as Saro has a very nice voice and you can feel his emotion when he’s singing and it fits well with the tone of the album. If you are going through a break up this might not help all that much but you could be able to relate to it which is always something that is comforting to people. It’s only seven songs and two of those are tiny intervals so it’s short enough to listen to multiple times to really enjoy the songs, I give it a thumbs up.

– Edward R

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