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Musician Sarah Jaffe pushes boundaries with ‘Don’t Disconnect’

Musician Sarah Jaffe pushes boundaries with ‘Don’t Disconnect’

BY HEATHER SMITH
Lesbian.com

In Denton, a small college town situated north of Dallas on the Texas prairie, you can find artists of all genres honing their craft. It is here that Sarah Jaffe has been perfecting her sound. Her first full length album, the critically acclaimed “Suburban Nature” (2010), announced the singer-songwriter’s arrival onto the folk-pop scene with many critics lauding her as the next big thing.

Since that release, Jaffe began to transition from folksy balladeer to an artist with a more electro-pop sound. Her latest release, “Don’t Disconnect,” finds Jaffe furthering this electronic sound and adding to it hip-hop influences. She is an artist who is constantly growing both musically and lyrically and it shows with her new album.

Jaffe took some time to talk about the evolution of her sound and how she pushes boundaries.

Your style has been evolving into more of an electro pop sound. What has influenced this?

I think it’s just been more of a natural progression. More so than you might think. I don’t think I make music with the intention of sounding different. I think my intent is to grow a little bit more as a writer and musician with each record. Sometimes that growth comes with different instrumentation.

Do you feel like you’ve taken any big risks with “Don’t Disconnect”?

Not really. I made a record I am really proud of with a group of musicians I adore. Feels risk free.

Is there a theme that runs through the new record, “Don’t Disconnect”?

Not a conscious theme, no. But I definitely think there’s a common thread that could kind of tie them together. All except for a couple were written around the same time.

Have you pushed boundaries and experimented more with this album than previous albums?

I think I always experiment with moving outside my own comfort zone in the studio. Whether that be playing an instrument I am not used to playing or ..whatever really. I think being in the studio is where you push your own boundaries a bit.

Does the music you listen to now have any impact on the music you’re creating?

Sure it does!

Do you find that your music tends to be autobiographical or do you strive for a universal theme?

Probably a bit of both. People enjoy relating to one another. It’s like the small joy you get from reading your horoscope. When someone else reveals the truth about your life. That’s one of the joys about songwriting. Is you kind of reveal some truth about yourself and then someone comes along and says “that song is totally me.” So it may be autobiographical but I think I hold out hope that it will relate to somebody.

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

Beyonce?

What’s one of your best live experiences?

Recently, I played to my hometown of Dallas at the Majestic Theatre. And it was hands down my favorite. The theatre is beautiful, the crowd was wonderful, and I think we all just felt good.

What’s in store for the rest of 2014?

Touring and playing songs from the new record!

For more information about Sarah Jaffe, visit her website.

Originally posted on lesbian.com http://www.lesbian.com/musician-sarah-jaffe-pushes-boundaries-with-dont-disconnect/

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Sleater-Kinney returns

BY HEATHER SMITH
Lesbian.com

The indefinite hiatus is over and Sleater-Kinney is back! The band just announced they will release a new album titled “No Cities to Love” on January 20, 2015 and will go on a 13-date tour starting in February. This will be their first new album since 2005’s “The Woods.”

“No Cities to Love” was recorded in secret at San Francisco’s Tiny Telephone Recordings earlier this year, with additional sessions taking place at Portland’s Kung Fu Bakery Recording Studio and Seattle’s Electrokitty.

John Goodmanson, who worked on four of their previous releases, produced the new album. In a statement, guitarist Carrie Brownstein said, “We sound possessed on these songs, willing it all — the entire weight of the band and what it means to us — back into existence.”

The first single, “Bury Our Friends” is out now and showcased in a lyric video, featuring Miranda July. It lives up to all the expectations you have with Sleater-Kinney, hard guitar riffs and banging drums mixed in with powerful vocals. The song is also included in “Start Together,” a vinyl box set that spans the band’s career.

Sleater-Kinney went on hiatus in 2005, but the band members have kept busy. Carrie Brownstein has played and recorded as part of the band Wild Flag, but has also been very active acting. She writes and performs with Fred Armisen in IFC’s “Portlandia” and has a part in Amazon’s new series “Transparent.”

Drummer Janet Weiss has been playing with Wild Flag and has collaborated with The Shins as well as fellow alt-rock drummers Matt Cameron and Zach Hill for “Drumgasm.”

Corin Tucker has recorded two albums with The Corin Tucker Band, one in 2010 and a second in 2012. The band reunited to cover “Rockin’ In The Free World” with Pearl Jam in 2013, which fueled speculation of a new Sleater-Kinney project.

Sleater-Kinney has been deemed one of the most influential bands of the riot grrrl movement and I for one, could not be happier to see their return. Welcome back!

For more information about Sleater-Kinney, visit their website.

Originally posted on lesbian.com  http://www.lesbian.com/sleater-kinney-returns/

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Musician Alison May goes deep in ‘Loved/Dark’

Musician Alison May goes deep in ‘Loved/Dark’

BY HEATHER SMITH
Lesbian.com

When Alison May, a multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter from Texas took a leap of faith and relocated to Oakland, California, in 2012, the change of scenery helped her focus more on her craft. With this improved focus came a decidedly more complex, layered sound, which is showcased on her sophomore release, “Loved/Dark.”

With “Loved/Dark,” May has left us with a collection of intricate and beautiful folk songs that are often times about loss, separation and regret. Profoundly sad, but also subtle and delicate.

I took some time to ask May about how her sound has transformed, her influences and the new album, “Loved/Dark”, which is out now.

Why the move from Texas to Oakland?

My decision to relocate was centered around my need to be somewhere that I felt would help me focus on my music. Austin had a way of making me too comfortable. I wasn’t writing, recording or performing enough. Instead, I was allowing myself to be too cozy waiting tables and partying. I knew that if I stayed in Austin, I would never be adequately serious about my music.

What drew you to the Bay Area?

My producer and engineer Jeff Price was residing in Oakland at the time that I decided to get out of Texas. I felt that if we were closer together, I would feel more encouraged to pursue my music aggressively. Besides that, I was acting on a hunch. I’m not sure why the thought of Oakland felt so right to me. Having never even visited California, I was making a risky move. Choosing to move to the Bay Area is one of the best decisions I have made. Somehow, it made me pull my act together.

What are some of the main differences between the music scenes in Texas and the Bay Area?

I feel as though the audiences in the Bay Area really listen. They generally feel more engaged and present. However, there is something to be said about the energy that the Austin crowd always brings. As I play more there, they are becoming more drawn into my performance, while maintaining their fiery spirit. I love the Bay crowd for their eye contact. I love the Austin crowd for their hooting, hollering, shot-providing spirit. Austin folks are the only folks that get that amped over such sad music.

You’re a multi instrumentalist. What was your first instrument? What’s your favorite?

Piano was my first instrument. I played for about 10 years until I couldn’t handle the competitions and recitals anymore. I found love with the drums when I was 12. They’ll always be my favorite. I always have and always will get a taste of stage fright when I have to play guitar or piano. For some reason, I never feel afraid when I’m behind the drums.

Who are your main influences?

I almost always write from my own experiences with family, lovers, dreams, mental states, etc. I have never found my fictional songs to be on par with the biographic. Musically, I feel mostly influenced by songwriters like Nick Drake, Deb Talan and Duncan Browne. I love that Nick Drake’s guitar melodies are equally memorable as his vocals, if not more. Deb Talan’s lyric and vocal melody abilities slay me. Duncan Browne’s early work is all around some of the best songwriting I will ever hear. I will never be on any of their levels, but I appreciate what I have learned from each of them.

What is your creative process?

Usually, step one is to get real sad. Step two is to slump over my guitar and try to express said sadness. To be more specific, I usually find it best to start with the guitar part. This always helps me find the vibe that I’m looking for on the given day. Then, I sing lots of blah blah blahs until I find words that feel good. Explaining my creative process always feels ridiculous. There’s nothing romantic about it. Basically, I hole up in my room for a few hours, make lots of weird noises, mumble a lot, maybe cry a little, then bang on my roommate’s door to see if she likes it. Usually, her answer is “Aw, buddy…”.

How does “Loved/Dark” differ from your debut album?

In addition to feeling as though I’ve grown as an instrumentalist and writer, I felt more confident with experimenting. Also, I urged myself to be patient, meticulous and focused. I think “Loved/Dark” is a more diverse album in terms of genre, instrumentation and subject matter. I think we’ve taken a step forward from “Earnest Keep.”

What’s your favorite song on “Loved/Dark”?
I get down to “My Own Good.” I think that song is my longest step outside of my comfort zone. I’m glad it worked out.

What overall tone were you striving for on “Loved/Dark?”

First and foremost, I wanted diversity. But, I wanted a thin thread of psych to run throughout. I had a very specific story I wanted to tell, and I think we accomplished that. To know what that story is, you’ll probably have to read the lyric sheet.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?

I don’t think about that often. But, in this moment, let’s say chef.

What distracts you while you’re on stage?

I used to be heavily distracted by performance anxiety. I couldn’t stop thinking about whether or not I was good enough for the crowd. Honestly, I don’t feel very distracted during shows these days. The more I perform, the more I relax into playing. Being on stage doesn’t feel like concentration, but I do feel as though I should give the music all of my attention. This sounds incredibly ridiculous, but, when you’re spending time with a friend you don’t see often, or a great date, you just want to milk those moments and it’s hard to think about anything else. Playing music is kind of like that for me.

What’s in store for the remainder of 2014?

I’m about to head to Colorado for a month full of playing shows and to record a follow up EP. Beginning in September, I’ll be spending the rest of the year touring. I’m a lucky duck.

For more information about Alison May, visit her Facebook page.

Originally posted at lesbian.com. http://www.lesbian.com/musician-alison-may-goes-deep-in-loveddark/

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