Make sure to check out the new site at


Christmas Playlist

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Head to the new site now to hear new music from Smoove & Turrell, Halycon Drive, and Rachel Potter and check out interviews with artists the likes of Ben Hope, Denyse Tontz, Anna Renee, and Paul McDonald.

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       Head to the website at to see all of the latest posts.
       Today's Song of the Day is Mary Lambert's "Secrets" featuring B.o.B and all previous Songs of the Day can be found in the archive
       Every post since the last update can be found in the list below. 

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       EVVY's "Collide" feels remarkably fresh with a sweet pop melody holding out over heavy synths and pulsing percussions. 
       The track, produced by Mickey Valen & The King, is simultaneously light and grounded, the duo's incredible knack for highlighting the best parts of the melody and rhythm by bringing them to the top without allowing the production to drown out even the softest vocals in full swing. EVVY's pure vocals ring out clearly as lyrics "I looked all over your face to find the reason it makes me feel so damn new" and "your lips they used to haunt me but now you want me and I'm floating off the ground" seek to explain the complexities of new love and a fun melody works to keep up with the prominent beat. 
       A bridge which features "oh, I crash into you, and I'm better being broken, and you've got me movin' to your heartbeat, to your heartbeat" played out over a simple piano line with some hearty percussion thrown in is insanely addictive and there's no way to sit still while listening to that final refrain. 
       Few tracks are more satisfying to the ear than one of Mickey Valen & The King's and not many female vocalists have a sound as sweetly rich and pure as EVVY's, so check out "Collide" below, head to the websites, and listen to her first single, "Got Me Movin'", for something that breathes fun summer vibes. 
"Collide" EVVY
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       Halcyon Drive's latest single "Apart" features full vocals plaintively begging "can we find another way around this, 'cause I would love you every day you wanted me to" whilst a steady percussion offers up a rhythm as emotional as those lyrics, with desperate lashes and heavy beats balancing out a soft and winding melody.
       A deliciously hard hitting bridge (around 2:55) presents the wonderful competition between a heavy, emotional percussion, filled with anger and frustration at the fact that it just won't work, juxtaposing beautifully with a pretty vocal harmony that bleeds hope.
       Listen to "Apart" and check out the websites below to find out more about the band and to hear lead single, "Whitewash", from the band's forthcoming debut EP.
"Apart" Halcyon Drive
Halcyon Drive
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Music Related News

  • Sheppard is all set to make their US debut with their catchy hooks, sweet melodies, and lovable lyrics. Look for them to take over iTunes charts soon with their single "Geronimo" that turns a childhood exclamation into an endearing provocation and listen to tracks "Hold My Tongue" and "Let Me Down Easy" to hear why you should already be loving their sound. 
  • Calan Mai released his music video for single "We've Got Love" and it gave me a reason to start listening to the track on repeat again (and thank fuck for that because this track is as great as it is adorable). The fun, single-shot, simple concept video has Australia written all over it and, above all, those lyrics are sweet; listen and love. 
  • Fragile Creatures' "Sunshine" is understated pop with a light feel despite its heavy beat; articulate lyrics that scream 'alternative' are held against a reggae-esque rhythm that makes the track oh so irresistible. Look for their debut EP to be released mid-August.
  • Rob Drabkin released the video for single "Don't Worry About Me" and the track and simple video concept are so pure it aches in its perfection. With the constant music turnaround that this site sees, along with the absolute need to write about at least fifty percent of the music sent this way (i.e. only the good stuff makes it through), leaving little to no time to look for personal tracks, I had nearly forgotten what it felt like when a song made you feel like it was saying everything you've never been able to. Not to dismiss the fact that that string arrangement is more moving than every Top 40 song currently on the charts (put together), nothing has ever been sweeter than that guitar, and Drabkin's vocals ring with such plaintive honesty that the grief is palpable and that omnipresent feeling of hope breathes through the cracks of every new verse.
  • Weezer will be releasing their ninth album, Everything Will Be Alright In The End, September 30th. The album is organized thematically around three groups of songs and uses the sound from the band's earlier days to create these new tracks.
  • Angus & Julia Stone's video for their single "A Heartbreak" premiered this week and this irresistible sibling duo already has me craving more of their sound. I couldn't be more excited to see what they have to bring to the table now that they're getting US support.
  • Timbaland's Rachel Assil released a soccer themed video for her single "Whoever We Are" (featured on the 'Pepsi: Beats of the Beautiful Game' LP). Listen to the track now for rich vocals, addictive beats, and a building melody that works to lift up inspirational lyrics.
  • The Griswolds "Down and Out" is as catchy as all of their other tracks. Don't let the fun productions and bouncing beats fool you; this band has an impeccable talent for hiding spectacular lyrics behind danceable melodies. Listen close and fall in love with the sound you'll want to be playing all summer. 
  • EVVY released her newest single "Collide" and proved that she is only getting better with each track. Check it for a clean production, fun lyrics, a beat that will make you move and, most importantly, a free download that you can add to all your summer playlists. 
  • Rubblebucket released their single "Carousel Ride" and I cannot stop listening to this on repeat. It's rhythmic perfection with a downbeat being played out on the bass and guitar whilst a light melody is held throughout and soft vocals with their gorgeously unique quality speak honest lyrics; all the while that instrumentation slowly lodges itself in your brain -- it's fantastic. 
  • The Occupants' "Streets" reads like a trip through the evolution of 'alternative rock' from its earliest stages, through the creation of every sub-genre, including a short visit through grunge and a running feeling of indie-rock, all balanced out with a double beat and a waltz-esque rhythm that hold the track together as it plays out in a modern alternative structure worthy of multiple listens. Also, lyrics like "all we need is right outside the door" which urge you to actually make shit happen, rather than sitting around and waiting for what you want, are pretty awesome. 
  • Ariana Grande released her latest single "Break Free" and it sounds like everything else released this summer. Her tracks are too overproduced for her sweet vocals and when she has to fight to be heard over the production it only highlights the fact that she sings through her nose... It's catchy though. Look for My Everything to be released August 25th.
  • Colbie Caillat's official music video for "Try" is just as understated and gorgeous as the track itself, with the refrain "you don't have to try so hard" played whilst showing women's make-up preparations, in reverse. The sweet track and video can be summed up easily though: you don't have to make yourself look like someone else to be pretty.
  • Charli XCX has announced the dates for her Fall headlining tour in North America. The tour will kick off September 26th at The Social in Orlando and will continue through October. Head here to get tickets and listen to her latest single "Boom Clap" (and the greatly addictive ASTR remix) to hear the optimism and pure life that leaks out of her every track. 
  • Karine Hannah's track, "Burning Up", reads like a boring diary from a teenager's first heartbreak with lyrics that lay across the surface, never delving deep, and cheap similes that sound like they came from your first attempt at the SAT Writing section. The vocals are flat and emotionless with a complete lack of proper pitch that really only makes me question how she got this far.
  • Fenech-Soler released the lyric video for their track "Last Forever" and, after spending all week listening to Rituals, I can only say that I've never been more impressed with a band whose initial impression had me thinking that they were nothing more than another alternative boy band. Their lyrics have depth, their rhythms are catchy as hell, melodies are spot on, the vocals are actually good, and you'll like having these tracks stuck in your head. Get the new album when it drops in the US August 26.
  • If you haven't heard Julian Taylor Band's Tech Noir yet, you're greatly missing out. All of the tracks are purely fantastic, but "Love Connection".. Freaking "Love Connection" went acoustic and took my heart because this track sounds like the good shit you grew up listening to on your parent's vinyl, laying on the worn carpet of your old living room floor with your eyes shut; that's this song. Check it out now and fall in love with the entire album.
  • MoXiiE's "Anyway" offers up a pop/techno track that feels fresh and different from everything else available right now. Check it out below for a fun track that feels just right. 

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Tech Noir

       In a time when every artist/band is trying to mix multiple genres together to create their own unique sound, Julian Taylor Band has already figured out their niche sound: a deliciously weird fusion of jazz, funk, soul, rock/pop comes together on the band's Tech Noir and the homey sound fits like a glove for a band that only continues to get better.
       Haunting piano riffs, sweet brass, solid guitar riffs, and pure vocals lend a satisfyingly full sound to the rich tracks, without sounding too overly produced, and allow the tracks to maintain an authentic and acoustic feel throughout as "Be Good To Your Woman" sinks into a slinking guitar riff and steady piano rhythm that drags you down into the alluring track and "The Other Side" features brass so big and piano riffs so soulful that Gulf Coast blues seem to drip from its every pore; each placing as much emphasis on the instrumentation and production as on the vocals and lyrics.
       Tracks ring out with an honest grace throughout, filled with sweet endearments and melancholy nostalgia, but never any hate. Even tracks that question your actions ring out with pure goodness, with lines "why would you do that? I thought you had my back" and "why does it hurt me so bad, you're just a memory of the past" being the most snarky among them ("Why Would You Do That" and "Hurt Me", respectively). Choruses "travel light and know that you're my hero, sail away to a brand new day, light comes and goes, still as stone, carry me home, where I will never be alone" and "do you remember way back when, we used to chill with all our friends, hanging out on those downtown streets, finding a way to beat the heat, we didn't have a care at all, do you remember way back when" ring out with gorgeous soulfulness and appreciation, rather than plaintive bitterness, offering a refreshing take on love and loss that feels so right on nostalgia filled tracks "Carry Me Home" and "Do You Remember".
       "No Guns!" takes a soft approach to a political issue while maintaining a bluesy feel and fun lyrics that lie far enough from the song's title that it just feels like good funk music here to make you dance, while the album's opening track, "You Say", reads like an introduction to the sound awaiting you on the rest of the album, featuring heavy brass, fun piano melodies, solid bass, wandering guitars, and a satisfyingly wide vocal range, all waiting to suck you into whichever song you choose.
       Of course, there's the band's inexplicably addictive "Never Gonna Give You Up" that has the same mental staying capacity as Rick Astley's own song of the same title, but so many times better that I've lost count. The track features a sweet organ, chiming horns, a fun chorus, and a rhythm that you just can't help but move to. The track's everything you want and will never grow tired of, all wrapped up in one.
       "Heatwave" feels like a trip back in time that focuses on that big brass band sound and the solid vocal harmonies of the '40's, with a playful guitar riff thrown in; while "Love Connection" goes for the bare bones feel of a softly played acoustic guitar, hesitant piano, and pure vocals that nearly overtake the instrumentation in an '90's alternative/soul "Fast Car" sort of feel (minus the soul crushing lyrics); and "Zero To Eleven" sinks steadfastly into a groovy funk feel, fun guitars and heavy horns included. The point is, the album cannot be pinned down to one genre, time specific influence, or even seasonal feel (summer vibes, crisp fall production, etc.); it's amazingly refreshing.
       Tech Noir feels like a sweet spot for a band that has been steadily making its move upwards in the business. Honest lyrics sound articulate, smart, and effortless, jiving perfectly with full productions featuring soulful melodies and pleasantly solid rhythms, perfect for relaxed listenings or dancing around. The album's impressive diversity gives it everything you could ever want and everything you never knew you had to be listening to, right now.
       Every track is spectacular but, if you don't have time for a full listen, make sure to give yourself enough time for "Do You Remember", "Hurt Me", and "Never Gonna Give You Up". Nothing is sweeter than a nostalgic jazz sound nonchalantly mixed with sweetly relaxed lyrics ("Do You Remember") and the steady down-strokes of "Hurt Me" offer up a superb support for lyrics that work to maintain their optimism. And "Never Gonna Give You Up" is just eternally great.
       Get Tech Noir from iTunes now and head to the sites below to find out more about Julian Taylor, the band, and their music.
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       Nothing is as addictive as the music coming from Australian six-piece Sheppard and their first US single, "Geronimo", will turn you into a fan in one listen.
       A gorgeous alternative rock sound is met with just enough of a pop influence to keep the track upbeat and you dancing, with satisfyingly full lead vocals and sweet vocal harmonies thrown in throughout.
       Articulate lyrics run throughout but an alluring bridge presents "well I'm just a boy, with a broken toy, all lost and coy, at the curtains of the waterfall /so it's here I stand, as a broken man, but I've found my friend, at the curtains of the waterfall / and you rush to me, and it sets us free, so I fall to my knees, at the curtains of the waterfall" with such assured optimism that normally plaintive lyrics are left feeling addictive and hearty; and the repetition of "say geronimo" (used as an endearing provocation) and the overlaying of "can you feel my love" with "bombs away" and "make this leap" are too adorable to ignore. 
       The fun rhythm, sweet chord progressions, and melodies made to make you dance breathe summer vibes from their core and the band's knack for teasing out the good in anything turns the most hopeless of songs into ones that ring with inspiration and love.
       Listen to alternate tracks "Let Me Down Easy", "Something's Missing", and song of the day, "Hold My Tongue" to fall in love with, yet another, Australian band. 
"Geronimo" Sheppard
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Sound of Erasing

       Rubblebucket's "Sound of Erasing" offers a refreshing change of pace from the rest of the recently released summer ready singles; an upbeat rhythm, winding melody, and actually eloquent lyrics manage to take an honest approach to real life without sounding too plaintive or exasperated.
       The interesting melodic embellishments give the prominent rhythm a nice contrast to stand against and offer up a hypnotic feel to the track while steady horns pipe up intermittently and keep the track feeling full and grounded, even as the melody tries to float away. 
       A persistently upbeat chorus delivers the sweetly assuring promise "I won't let you worry now, don't take me off this cloud, this is the sound of us erasing, this is the sound of a wave, take us away" with such aplomb that eloquent lyrics stating "I wish I was a planet, with a forest full of answers, but instead I'm just a human, freaking out out out" and "I thought you were a dancer, so fuck your inhibitions, here's a better answer, drown 'em out out out" are left feeling regretless.
       The melody feels like it could slip into melancholia in the tracks introduction were it not for the steady rhythm, horns, and solid progressions to back it up and push it forward, but articulate lines that take an optimistic approach seem to lift the melody and transform it until the end of the track feels perfectly light and easy to play on repeat.
       Listen to the alluring single from US 5-piece Rubblebucket below and head to the sites to find out more about the artists and their music.  
"Sound of Erasing" Rubblebucket
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Alisha Zalkin

Had the chance to talk with Alisha Zalkin about her newly released On This Road EP and how she uses yoga and meditation in creating her music. 

E: Which artists or albums have inspired you, musically or otherwise?
Alisha Zalkin: I would say the biggest album and artist that has inspired me is Carole King and her album Tapestry. It's one of my all time favorite records: I literally know every song. Her musical style, everything she writes about - well, like, her co-writers, but she wrote as well - just, her songs were so influential at that time and they made a difference for women and it's just an incredible record and she's just my idol. The first track off the record is a Carole King cover.  

E: "Fearless" is so powerful; what was the meaning or inspiration behind it?
AZ: The inspiration behind that song was.. a friend of mine, a childhood friend, was diagnosed with cancer and it was the first person who was my age I knew who was diagnosed with cancer. It just really just hit me hard and I couldn't help but think about, you know, when we were all in kindergarten, if we had known one of us was going to get cancer in our twenties, how would we have lived our lives differently? So I walked into a writing session with a friend of mine, my co-writer, Mary Ruth Schuler, and we were talking for hours, sharing stories about people that we know who've had cancer and, sort of, how we would live our lives; what would we do differently, that kind of thing. We just thought, why do we wait for that point to really live fearlessly? It really should be something that we do every day, all day, because there's no difference between someone who is suffering from a disease and someone who isn't. Tomorrow isn't a promise for anybody.

E: You've put out two EPs now, are there any plans for a full length album?
AZ: Yeah, that's the goal, the next step. This one just came out so I'll probably be performing for a bit but, all the while, writing and creating a full length.

E: Which track from On This Road means the most to you? Which of the tracks can you not stop listening to?
AZ: Definitely "Fearless". That was just an emotional song, for so many different reasons, and it forced me to take risks, as an artist, and be totally authentic and honest with myself; it's been a big game changer for me. That's one where it's just so meaningful and, you know, everyone knows someone who has been ill with cancer and so every time I perform it I can feel, just, that attention I have from the audience and it's a really special song. I love doing that one live.

E: What do you mean when you say it forced you to take risks, exactly?
AZ: I just meant, like, all around. As an artist, I'm putting out this song that's, hopefully, inspiring people to be fearless and it kind of holds me accountable for being fearless too. It's kind of like 'practice what you preach' in a way, even though I don't want to say that I'm preaching it, it's.. I can't authentically perform that song, in the studio or for an audience, unless that's the way that I am constantly living my life and challenging myself to live that way.

E: Where do you see your music going in the future?
AZ: I really hope to do a tour. I would really love to tour the states, tour out of the states, and just constantly create music that empowers and inspires people; I really just feel like that's the point of music, so I wanna give back in that way. I feel like I've been given music for a reason and I want to make sure that I get to people.

E: Other than music, what most interests you; were you not pursuing music, what would you be doing?
AZ: I am very into yoga and meditation and I do transcendental meditation twice a day: I practice yoga regularly; I actually did get my $500 yoga certification. If I weren't doing music I'd probably do something in that realm of meditation/yoga/ayurvedic medicine, something along those lines.

E: If you could see one artist/band in concert this summer, who would it be?
AZ: Ooh, that's a really hard question.. There's so many.. You know, one I've really been wanting to see live is Jason Mraz. I would definitely want to see Jason Mraz live but I've also been wanting to see Allen Stone live; I don't know if he's on tour, but if we were talking concerts, I would definitely go with Jason Mraz.

E: Are there any concerts/festivals you aspire to play at?
AZ: Hmm, I would love to do Bonnaroo, OutsideLands.. I would love to do yoga festivals; they often have music so that would be cool. Lightning in a Bottle is also a very, like, conscious space music festival.

E: What do you want listeners to take away from your music?
AZ: I just want them to feel empowered by the music and I want them to feel, sort of, rejuvenated. I want them to feel as though whatever stress they're dealing with or whatever, whatever's in their way of just fully accepting themselves and being truly authentic, I hope that the music inspires them to be that way, to let go of whatever's holding them back.

E: How do you transpose your love of yoga and meditation and, all of that, and put it into your tracks?
AZ: Well, you know, yoga and meditation are all about self discovery and it's really like being truthful with yourself and honest with yourself; making the choice to live with integrity. So, I try to write about my own experiences with that and I happen to work with an incredible producer named Steve Greenwell who does not let a beat go by that isn't truly authentic. He doesn't allow any music in there that is just there for the sake of being there. I mean, it was all so honest and pure so that really supported the lyrics and the melody and the message of the songs. I think, you know, I think that really [helps to] translate the stuff that I learn while I do yoga and meditation into my music. I tell people I did my $500 yoga certification but yoga isn't just the physical practice and I teach yoga through my music so, yeah, I think that's how I see the two co-exist for me.

E: Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
AZ: Just to spread the word. If they love it, share it with their friends and just, listen to the music. 

Get her newly released On This Road EP now and listen to the gorgeous single "Fearless"
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Okapi Sun

Check the interview to see what Leo and Dallas of Okapi Sun had to say about making their debut album.

E: This is your debut album?
Leo: Yeah, this is our very first album. We just started the band in 2013, so this has been going on for pretty much a year and a half now so, yeah, it's the debut album of Okapi Sun. It was exciting; it was a long process but it's cool to have all the music out there finally. It kind of starts to free you up to write new music too because we've just been focusing on all the songs we wrote at the beginning of the project and then you obviously want to record the album so you're just concentrating on those songs and it's nice to have that done so we can actually start thinking of new songs. 

E: How did you two meet? When did you decide you wanted to form a band together?
Leo: We just met in the club in Europe and I saw her there and then we started talking and we became friends. Then I was going over her and I called her up and was like "I'm coming over!" and that's pretty much how we met.
Dallas: I don't think that we ever - well, I don't know; maybe we were like "we should start a band" - I can't remember, but I do remember us just kind of.. I think we said "let's get together and just kind of play some music" and that was really the situation so we got to a room together and we brought all the instruments that either of us knew how to play and we just kind of started experimenting and messing around. Then, when we actually started writing songs we were like "oh, okay, this doesn't sound too bad" so then that's kind of when we started to think 'maybe we should develop this more and turn it into a real band'. That was in October of 2012 so from October to December we were just kind of messing around and meeting up and playing music for fun and then, by January, we actually had some real songs and we started playing shows and we really took it seriously.
Leo: Yeah, I think mostly we just really wanted something as an outlet. We were working at the same job and I remember thinking like "oh, yeah, that's something fun after work" and we would just get together and play music.

E: How did you come up with the name 'Okapi Sun'?
Dallas: Okapi is one of my favorite animals: my favorite animal, growing up, was the zebra and then when I saw an okapi, which was probably in high school or something, that became my new favorite animal - even though I still liked the zebra. So, yeah, it's an animal and, when we were thinking of band names, I was like "oh, what do you think about 'Okapi'?" and she was like "oh, what's that?" and so I told her it was an animal and we looked it up and she thought it looked really cool -which it does - and so we were like 'okay, well let's think about it for a few days' and then a couple days later she came to me and she said "well, what do you think about 'Okapi Sun'?" and I was like "ooh, I kind of like that" so that's pretty much how the name came about.
Leo: Yeah, I thought that it was really cool that it was an okapi and it's like a spiritual animal, for one: I thought that it would really stick with who we are and what we represent, kind of like a mixture of all different cultures, you know? 'Cause, obviously, we don't look the same, so I thought it was really cool to have this weird animal representing us that looks like a horse, a zebra, and a giraffe in one.

E: How would you describe your style of music to someone who had never heard it before?
Dallas: Usually when we're talking to people and we're like, "oh, we're in a band," and they ask us that question, like "what does it sound like," the first thing that I usually say is that it's kinda like electronic/pop/dance music and, every now and then, we throw in some words like tribal/disco dance music. I mean, those are the words that we use to describe it. Just fun; easygoing; pure; like, four to the floor dance music, but it has a little pop flair because we try and do a lot of melody driven songs versus just reverb, you know, straightforward electronic, like EDM style of music. We kind of are a little different from that because we have more actual melodies for the songs but, yeah, I mean, it's pretty much just fun dance music... Do you want to add anything to that Leo?
Leo: You actually summed it up... It's cool; this is only us two, but I think we bring a really full sound to the table for our audiences. I think that it's pretty cool that we're playing all these instruments: I mean, one person plays synthesizers, guitar, and drums and we sing and then we have our tracks and I actually think it's really cool just to see. So, that's my two cents.

E: What part of the album making process was your favorite?
Dallas: I think I would say, probably for the both of us, one of the funnest parts was being able to work with Neal Pogue. We were able to fly out to Atlanta, Georgia which, I'd never been there, but it was just a really exciting experience. It was just exciting for us to be able to work with him and then when we got [to Atlanta] and we just had a lot of fun and we got to watch his process and kind of see him take a little, you know, put his flair on our music and so that was really a fun experience. 
Leo: Yeah, I think that was definitely one of the highlights. For me, the whole process was really exciting because, ever since we'd started this we'd just been playing with our instruments and had like the beginnings of the songs; we just had like these little bits and pieces and then later we got together and we were like "oh, this sounds cool and this sounds cool" and from there we just started layering all the instruments and developing all of our songs and it was really exciting to see the whole process of seeing the songs coming from like that instant idea to.. We write something together and then, having it sort of come to life, as a full work of art: that is just exciting to me.

E: And the most challenging part about making the album?
Leo: Pretty much, just putting what you have in your head out there and trying to get as close as it gets because, obviously, we both have a vision of how it's supposed to sound and then, actually, in the end, having it sound how we really meant it. It's always hard trying to talk when you're working with other people because we don't have the technical aspects of it so we had to compromise, but I think it came really close to how we had it in our head and I think that we did a really good job of bringing what we thought it should sound like to life, but that was definitely a challenge. What do you think Dallas?
Dallas: I agree; I totally agree with that.

E: How did the album writing process work? Did you collaborate on everything, or write on your own before coming together?
Dallas: Oh, no, we collaborate on everything we do so, pretty much, the writing process is just: we'll just go into our practice space and sit down and go through the beats that we have in our system or we'll search for new ones online or if we can't find anything that fits our mood at the moment then we'll just write something that we like. Then, after we have a beat that kind of inspires us a little, we'll turn the lights off and start jamming to it and there's really no rules to it. If both of us start playing the synthesizer, we both start playing the synthesizer; if somebody stops and decides to pick up the guitar then they pick up the guitar; if we both start singing.. We just kind of let whatever comes out come out and then as, I mean, a song is like three or four minutes, but usually we'll jam on it for ten or fifteen minutes; you just kind of play and sometimes you might hear a melody that works that might be played on guitar but then you might start singing it; you might be singing it and someone might start playing it on something else. We just kinda keep messing around with it until we start hearing something that we like and then we might stop and talk about it like "oh, that was cool; let's try it again". Then we'll mess around with it again and it starts taking an actual shape; we'll start seeing parts that we like for verses and hearing parts that we like for choruses or whatever and then we'll usually spin off one more time and kind of verbally say "well, let's play that part here and let's play that part there" and then we'll turn on the recorder and just play through it once or twice, kind of letting it come out however it comes out with the little structure we've put on it. Then we let it go and we'll move on to the next thing and do that maybe five or six times in a sitting, just that whole process, and then we'll listen back to the recording over the next couple of days. Obviously, some songs we'll be like "okay, that one was weird; drop it" but then other songs you're like "oh yeah, that kind of sounds cool" and then you kind of start messing around with it from there and actually shaping it to a real song: forming the choruses and adding words and adding layers and adding instruments; developing a song.
Leo: That was really good. I think that's it is really cool when two people actually get together like that and really are in that moment and whatever comes out, comes out. It's a really cool feeling because you're creating something from however you feel in that moment and that's kind of a nice part of making music, in general, because that's like the joy of creating music, for me. You know, some people have that idea of how it should sound on paper and that's pretty much how it's supposed to sound but, however it comes out, we'll take it and we'll mold it into a song later and that's kind of the Okapi sound.

E: Is there a track you really love performing live?
Dallas: That's a hard question; I like all of them. Really, there's not like a song that we play that is like "oh my gosh, okay, let's try and get through it to get to the next one". They're all fun and they're all different, in and of themselves, so it's just like, you know, some songs have drums and you get excited to perform that because you get to jump on drums and other songs, like, I might sing a lead in one song, she might sing the lead in another song and there's a lot of stuff going on so I don't think any one song ever gets boring and, you know, not exciting. It's just like one long..
Leo: Dance party.
Dallas: Yeah, one long dance party.
Leo: Yeah, I think it's fun because every song has different aspects and, in the end, we wanted to create something that we would want to listen to, if we had gone to a show; like, "oh, you know, this must be cool to watch, so I would want to see that song and dance". It's kind of fun; we always play a lot of instruments in the songs so it's like I'll be looking forward to the next song because there's drums and then the next song comes up and you're on guitar so it never gets boring with that.

E: What song can you not stop listening to right now?
Dallas: Ooh, Fame Riot. The Fame Riot and Ishi. Those are two bands that we play with; we played with Ishi before and we just played a show with The Fame Riot this past weekend in Seattle and we're going to play with them again down here in San Diego but those are two CDs that we always have in the car and we can't get the songs out of our head once we listen to them.
Leo: Yeah, [The Fame Riot] is from Seattle and Ishi is from Dallas, Texas.

E: Anything you want to add that I haven't covered?
Leo: We're excited to go on our first national tour coming up in a couple weeks so we're pretty much packing right now and getting that ready.

E: Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Leo: We just want them to have a good time.
Dallas: Yeah!

Leo: We want it to be like a big dance party and everybody can just come and have some fun and there's no, like, you don't have to be cool or dress cool or whatever, it's just like, everybody comes together and has a good time and parties and that's pretty much what we're trying to do through music: bring everybody together and celebrate life.

- E


Charlie Oxford

See what Charlie Oxford had to say about working in Nashville and his self-titled debut album, available now.

E: When did you first become interested in writing your own music?
Charlie Oxford: I think I started first writing probably [around] fifteen or sixteen. It was just kind of a hobby but I didn't really start taking it seriously until college. I went to school in New Orleans at Loyola University and it kind of put me into this situation where I was surrounded by all these other musicians so it felt like it was kind of more of a natural thing for [music] to become more of a serious aspect of my life by that time.
E: You said you were influenced by your time in New Orleans, specifically during Hurricane Katrina, how did these experiences help to shape your sound?
CO: That was a rough time for everybody down there. There were a lot of students dealing with depression and who had lost a bunch of stuff during the storm [and it] just made us feel closer together. It's a pretty crazy thing to be going through.
Musically I think it made me turn to songwriting as a way to cope with all of that going on down there. Music was a pretty big crutch to lean on so I think it made me dive into it a lot more.
E: This is your debut album but it feels much fuller and more mature than a lot of artist's early work; Why do you think you were able to create that full sound?
CO: You know, I moved to Nashville probably four years ago and that was probably, for my music, I think that was the smartest decision I ever made since this is probably the best songwriting town you could probably ever move to.  Again, being brought into a situation where everybody is about the music. The music scene here is just a lot stronger than [Dallas]. I'm originally from Dallas, Texas and Dallas is great but, I mean, there's no city like Nashville when it comes to the songwriting scene. All my friends are musicians and we all write together and it's a thing that we focus on every, every single day to get better at it. So you know when I was thinking about doing the Kickstarter campaign to raise money for this I thought to myself, I'm going to take my time with this 'cause you only get one first impression: I wanted to take my time with the writing to make sure that I was, on the music side, getting as good as I possibly could before I put my first step forward.
E: You've been working in Nashville for quite some time now; are there any memorable stories from performances/working in the studio you want to share?
CO: The studio time for this record was pretty funny. We recorded it at Welcome to 1979 over in West Nashville: it's a pretty cool place; it used to be a vinyl record pressing plant and now it's a complete studio. It was just fun getting in there with the guys we had playing in the band, just 'cause you don't get to do that a lot so it was pretty fun.
I walked down - the studio's set up with two different levels and I was trying to film the entire thing - I walk down at the end of the last day: the entire band is sweating with their shirts off and I've got the video camera rolling on them. It was just pretty funny; cool scene to watch.
Yeah, it was a really cool experience. Adam Smith and I really worked well together; we co-wrote four of the songs on there. It was a really great experience for me.
E: There a lot of different influences, different genres I guess, in your music, so which genre or artist inspired this work?
CO: I don't know if there's one but, I mean, as far as like, current artists out there right now, you know, I listen to a lot of guys like James Morrison, Gary Clark Jr, Amos Lee - male singer/songwriters. I mean, the first and second songs on there are pretty blues driven and then there's "Letting Go" which is, to me, close to just a straight up pop song and then there's "You and I" on there which is more of an acoustic ballad. As far as my earlier musical influences, you know, like Sam Cooke and Stevie Ray Vaughn and guys like that... I don't think that I could boil it down to one just 'cause I'm constantly listening to as many new artists as possible just to keep it fresh.
E: You said in your bio that songwriting became a therapeutic way for you to express yourself; which of your songs has the most personal meaning?
CO: I would probably say "You and I", just because it's about my wife. Before we were even married or engaged we were driving around one day and apparently I was bugging her and she was getting a little bit annoyed with me so she dropped me off at my apartment and said "just leave me alone" and I was, I think I was like, "what the heck did I do" and I go in and I write that song and it was really about like, how do I not screw this [relationship] up? I wrote that song and then a few years later we were married so it's a constant reminder to me to be a better person, I think.
E: Both the music and lyrics for "Waiting For" are pretty emotional; what was the inspiration behind that song?
CO: You know, Adam and I wrote that song with a friend of ours and I would go over to his [Adam's] house to write a lot, 'cause he's got this big studio over there, and I walked in and he was like "well, what do you want to write about today?" and I was like "you know, we've been writing love song after love song after love song and I'm kind of so sick of it. You know, I want to write about where I'm at right now" 'cause I was just at the point where, I was in that kind of floating zone of 'we have the funding to do the record but the songs aren't quite there yet'. I kind of felt like I was stuck in a rut and it was really about, you know, what are you waiting for with your life? Get up and do something with it and turn it around for the better. To me, it's not a love song, even though it does kind of sound like that.
E: Do you have a favorite song to perform live or a song from the album you would say is your favorite?
CO: I think "Waiting For" is my favorite. That one or, I go back [and forth] between three; there's that one, "Drive Me Crazy", and "Letting Go" and I think it just kind of depends on the day and the mood I'm in.
E: A lot of your tracks have a bluesy soul or folk feel to them but you went with a different vibe for "Disappear"; why did you decide to record the song in this way?
CO: It is different and it can get a little heavy. It's just the way the song went. It was kind of that ethereal, kind of heavy rock song and, to me, for some people maybe it doesn't make sense for the record but, to me, at the time, it did 'cause I just wanted to, I made a point of wanting to put, you know, songs on there that were different from each other.
E: There's a wide variety of instrumentation on the album; did you personally write the music for each  instrument, or did you collaborate with other artists?
CO: On ["Intermission"] we collaborated with David Davidson of the National Symphony Orchestra. We were thinking of doing a string intro for "Stranger Than Fiction", which happened, and then we were in there and we were just kind of playing around and we thought, well, why don't we set up something so there's kind of a break in the middle of the album? "Disappear" is kind of a heavy song and just, you know, give your ears a rest for a second. The first half and the second half [of the album], to me, are pretty different. We hadn't really seen it [album intermission] done before and we thought it was kind of a cool idea.
I played guitars and did vocals; the drums were done by Jeremy Lutito: he's in a band called Leagues that's out of Nashville. They're good; I love those guys, they're so awesome: those guys were class A musicians so, when we were in studio days, I kind of let the reins free and just let them do what they do.. I felt like that was the best thing to do. The bass was done by Tony Lucido and the guitars were done by Court Clement - he's done a lot of work with guys like Matthew West.
Jason Reeves played a little bit of guitar on it and then Joe Pangallo played a little bit of guitar on "Stranger ThanFiction"; I kind of brought all my friends together to make as good of a project as I could.
E: "StrangerThan Fiction" feels a little different from the rest of the songs. How did you come up with that sound?
CO: That was another one that Adam and I wrote together with Joe Pangallo's help. A lot of the times I would come in with - my song writing stems off of melody - so I would come in with a basic melody that was chorded on my iPhone or singing in my head on the way over and we would just go from there. That melody, that kind of heavy, distorted bar sound, worked for that. The strings idea didn't come until much, much later; until we were sitting there and we were like well, this needs much more backing vocals, this needs way more strings: the song lends itself to that kind of thing. Each song, to me, has a way of just telling you what you need to do.
E:Which track are you most excited to share with your fans?
CO: The first single, "Waiting For", is probably the one; I'm a sucker for horn sections and the horns on here are just phenomenal. The guys that did it, they're called the Hornheads, from Minneapolis; they did the last Prince record and Chaka Khan stuff: something I just loved, so it was pretty fun to have those guys on that record. I just feel it's a fun song; it's upbeat and I'm excited for people to hear it.
E: Do you plan on bringing back any of the fifty songs you wrote in preparation for this album on any later albums or b-sides?
CO: That's a possibility. I don't know. I haven't really thought about that 'cause I've been writing new stuff for my next project so, I don't know, we'll see. I've definitely got them locked in the vault but I don't know.
Songwriting is one of those things where, for me, I have to focus on it pretty much every day. It's kind of like a muscle that you have to exercise. I've probably got ten or so songs for the next project and hopefully that will come out soon. This project took awhile to get out so hopefully the next one will not take quite as long.
I think the Kickstarter ended at the end of 2011 and I was still writing then; I think we may have possibly jumped the gun on the funding part but I'm glad we got it done when we did. I think we started recording maybe a year later and then maybe took nine more months after that to finish mixing and mastering and getting it all printed up and then me moving them around to different labels and seeing who I could team up with for the project; a lot of that stuff is the boring business side that nobody wants to talk about, but it's essential. I started working with Rock Ridge last summer and the album was completely done by then; I was looking for partners to work with to help me get it out there.
E: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
CO: Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sticking with me because I know it's been a long process and I can definitely see if any of them were frustrated with me if they thought I took too long to get this out but, you know, just; I'm excited for the next year, for touring and all that stuff. It should be a fun ride. 

       Get your copy of Charlie Oxford now.
- E