Tag Archives: California

Luna Shadows (Interview)

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Luna Shadows is a dark popstress obsessed with The Golden State and its infinite inspirations.
Photog Anna Maria Lopez recently hung out with her at the Santa Monica Pier to ask some questions and shoot some pics.
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What’s the story behind the title of your recently released debut EP Summertime?

“I went through a number of titles but Summertime was always the one that I came back to for a number of reasons. The project started in Summer 2014 and it was released in Summer 2016. The word ‘summertime’ appears as a lyric in a few different songs and the entire EP revolves around endless summer and Californian imagery. In a broader sense, Summertime represents nostalgia, longing, hopefulness, readiness, love, loss, youth, and freedom. Growing up in New York City, I would wait all year for the sun and the freedom that summer implied. It is both literally the season and also metaphorically what it represents: the arrival of something long anticipated. It is a simple word that means so much to me and so perfectly encapsulates how I felt during the writing of this record.”

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Some of your lyrics mention life in Los Angeles and California. How has living here influenced your music?

“Speaking of summer, it was always a dream of mine to live in California from the time I was a small child. I moved out here as soon as I was old enough to come on my own. I knew no one at all when I got here and now I can’t imagine ever leaving. It was both lonely and liberating at the same time which has also been my lasting impression of L.A. I was drawn here for the same reasons as most: the palm trees, the weather, the beach, the blue skies. But I’ve come to love the small underappreciated details about L.A. too. Being here has heavily influenced my music. It feels like the summer I would always wait for except it’s all the time.”

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How did you recruit Brad Hale to be your co-producer?

“I met Brad back in 2012 at one of his shows because I was a big fan of his band Now, Now. I approached him and his bandmates after the gig –we had lots of mutual friends– and offered them a place to stay next time they returned to L.A. Thinking they’d never take me up on it, I was wrong. Next time they came back they stayed with me. I baked them strawberry cupcakes before we all bonded over our love of cats and our collective social anxiety. We’ve been best friends ever since. At some point, I asked Brad if he would try working on a song with me. We sat down in Summer of 2014 and wrote most of ‘Waves’ in about fifteen minutes.”

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How about Thom Powers?

“In the summer of 2014, Brad was staying with me in L.A. –he’s from Minneapolis– and working on his music. He invited me out to tacos with his friend Thom of the band The Naked and Famous –of whom I was also a big fan. I almost didn’t go because I was too tired but I pulled it together. The three of us sat and ate tacos and drank margaritas for hours. It was a right-place right-time situation. Thom had just returned home from a tour and was interested in producing a project outside of his band. So we started working together. Sometimes it would be all three of us [‘Cry Wolf’], sometimes just Brad and I [‘Waves’], and sometimes just Thom and I [‘Hallelujah California’]. We all checked in with each other and bounced ideas around regardless. The two of them are my dream team.”

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Where all was the EP recorded?

“Every instrument on my EP is digital. The entire thing was created on a computer with the exception being guitar. We worked in Thom’s home studio in Echo Park for most of the demo process. I record and edit my own vocals either in my bedroom or in my friend’s closet in Mount Washington. This involves me standing in a soundproof closet in the heat of L.A. summer, with no AC or a fan –because it makes too much noise, for four to eight hours at a time. My computer would overheat and start making electrical noises so I would occasionally run into the kitchen and put it in the fridge to cool it down quickly. The things you do for love.”

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What can you tell us about your collaborations with Kamtin Mohager of The Chain Gang of 1974?

“Kam was a co-writer on ‘Cherry.’ We have written a few songs together but so far this is the only one we finished. Thom is also producing Kam’s record which comes out very soon so the three of us thought it would be fun to try something together one day. The day we wrote this song I walked in and started dancing to a few trap songs that I brought in for reference. I suggested that we write something with a dark hip-hop or trap beat juxtaposed with a melancholy chord progression that would tug at the heart strings. I had written the word ‘cherry’ in my iPhone notes around that time and I didn’t yet know what I meant yet but it all came together as the melody fell into place. Kam improvised the initial idea for the verse melody. Then I reorganized that idea, wrote the chorus, added my lyrics and harmonies, structured it out, and ran home to demo vocals for what is now ‘Cherry’ –my favorite track on the EP.”

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You just released a stunning music video for “Hallelujah California.” Where all was it shot?

“We shot all around L.A. but primarily in Silver Lake and Echo Park because that’s where I spend most of my time and where the EP was created. I also wanted to do something at the beach but present it in a darker fashion which most people don’t usually imagine when they think of L.A. So it was my idea to shoot a sequence at the beach where I wear all black and walk into the water at the very end.”

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Who are the tattooed twins featured in the video?

“The twins are Adam and Keith Brierley. In real life, they are two amazing guys who run a thrift store and have the coolest Instagrams ever. Morgan Freed, the video’s director, found them on Facebook. We saw a picture of them and we refused to even consider anyone else. They were so perfect. In the video, their role is supposed to be left open to interpretation. I want fans to interpret for themselves who they are and what they represent. I may never tell!”

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Why did you choose to shoot it in black and white? California is so sunny!

“For that exact reason. Everyone typically captures L.A.’s dreaminess and all its colors so I wanted to counter that classic image with something more modern and raw that exposed the darker parts. You can still tell it’s sunny and we’ve incorporated these prisms of paradise but then there’s this other element present where you can tell there’s something darker. It is the mission statement of my art as a whole to place dark and light things side by side.”

Anna Maria Lopez: Website, Facebook, Instagram

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"Offer" Music Video by Together Pangea

1386627538Reckling_Pangea_2AIf you’ve always wondered what it would be like to be in a garage band full of skate-rats from Newhall, you can thank Lonely Highways for creating the music video for Together Pangea‘s “Offer.” Shot completely on tour, the video shows antic adventures fueled by youthful carefree fun via an endless cycle of traveling, performing, and (of course) partying with booze, blunts, burritos, and bra-less girls (not necessarily in that order). The song is the first single off the band’s third album Badillac (Harvest Records) and harks back to early ’90s college radio (i.e. Husker Du) when certain pop rock bands openly embraced their punk roots.

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Together Pangea’s Official Site, Together Pangea on FacebookTogether Pangea on TwitterTogether Pangea on InstagramTogether Pangea on YouTube, Together Pangea on BandcampTogether Pangea on Soundcloud

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"Regret" Live Video by Levels

LEVELS press 2- Outdoor BandLevels is a young co-ed trio that met as teenagers in St. Petersburg, FL. Since then, they’ve fulfilled their own Manifest Destiny and settled in a rental house in Pomona that also serves as their studio in which they recorded their self-titled debut EP.

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With a sound that harkens to the early days of ’90s college radio rock (SugarThe Pixies), they make garage pop by dicing rough melodies and edgy harmonies in a blender. Watch them perform “Regrets” as filmed by director Adam Carr at their studio/house:

Levels will perform this Tuesday night at The Central for Rainbow Jackson‘s second residency night along with Burning Jet Black and Act As If.

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Levels on Facebook, Levels on Twitter, Levels on YouTube

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"Bleeding Heart" Music Video by Burning Jet Black

BJBBlackBGLARGEWhen it comes to authentic rock ‘n’ roll, Burning Jet Black is the real deal. Just like dirty roadhouse regulars, the West LA-based quartet would never be caught dead onstage with beat pads or laptops. They just plug in, crank up, and rock out gritty blues covered in sweat and delivered with a heavy soul. Their debut EP, The Modern Egotist, was recorded at Studio Rev and released last year.

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Their third single, “Bleeding Heart,” features a music video directed by Daniel Mercaldi as a follow-up to the very popular video for “Magazine Girl.”

Free Bike Valet wanted to know more about the making of the video so we asked Mercaldi a few questions:

How did you come up with the idea for this video?

“The idea for the ‘Bleeding Heart’ video was just a response to the guys wanting a simple concept that could showcase their energy and aggressive sound. I’ve known Burning Jet Black for a long time and their live shows are incredible. I wanted to capture the raw intensity of the band without letting the video get in the way. We did some takes with the song playback at 66% speed so the video could be sped up during the chorus while still staying in sync with the original recording. The guys hated pretending to play their instruments so slowly, but the end result actually looked pretty cool.”

Where was it filmed?

“We filmed at Burning Jet Black’s rehearsal space in Downtown LA. We transformed the room by hanging canvas drop cloths on the walls and painting words all over them.”

What are all the sentences and sayings written on the walls?

“The sentences on the walls are actually the lyrics to ‘Bleeding Heart.’ The idea was to make it look like someone had written different drafts of the song over a period of time while stuck in this strange room, perhaps on a spiral into madness… kind of like the typewriter in The Shining.”

Are they supposed to look like they were written in blood?

“Could be blood, graffiti, whatever’s your pleasure.”

Burning Jet Black will perform this Tuesday night at The Central for Rainbow Jackson‘s second residency night along with Levels and Act As If.

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Burning Jet Black’s Official Site, Burning Jet Black on FacebookBurning Jet Black on Twitter, Burning Jet Black on YouTubeBurning Jet Black on BandcampBurning Jet Black on Soundcloud

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"Faux Accords" Music Video by Futurebrite (Premiere)

ROCKFuturebrite formed due to a chance encounter between Oakland denizen Karen Kanan Correa (vocals) and Brooklynite Josh Grant (production) on an airplane. After their current projects faded out, the coed duo decided to collaborate in Grant’s studio overlooking the East River. What spawned was beat-heavy electro pop with a dark edge but also melodic enough to redeem itself as romantic.

Their debut EP Futurebrite Part 1 (the first in a series of three) will be released on June 11th and was mixed by Alex Aldi (Passion Pit, Bruno Mars). The music video for their second single “Faux Accords” superbly compliments the song’s mood by striking and spraying bursts of fireworks over a deep dark night:

Free Bike Valet wanted to learn more about the making of the video so we asked Correa a few questions:

Was this music video just an excuse to release your inner child and play with fireworks again?
“Slow. Mo. Fireworks. What’s better than that? Bright, beautiful, cinematic.”
Did you burn yourself while filming?
“Not much. Though it was a challenge to get close to the big ones because your brain is telling you ‘No’ but your heart is saying ‘Yes!'”
Where was this video shot?
“We shot the big fireworks in Pacifica, CA at a closed orchid farm at night. The other sparkler shots we did on the beach at night in Oakland.”
Who directed it?
“There really was no director. It was kind of a group effort. Different people shot different things, I edited it and then I had a friend do some effects magic. It takes a village…”
Will you now use fireworks while performing “Faux Accord” live?
“Yes. Although I believe this will get me kicked out of most clubs everywhere. C’est la vie!”

Future Brite’s Official Website, Future Brite on Facebook, Future Brite on Twitter, Future Brite on YouTube, Future Brite on Vimeo, Future Brite on Soundcloud, Future Brite on Instagram

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"East Coast Girl" by Cayucas

cayucas7This year, SoCal’s summer season won’t begin with Memorial Day weekend. It’ll start premature due to today’s release of Cayucas‘ debut album Bigfoot.

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Produced by Richard Swift (The ShinsDamien JuradoThe Mynabirds) and released by Secretly Canadian, the album features eight tracks of coastal-inspired buoyant pop rock. Band founder Zach Yudin’s delivers his signature echoey vocals on every song that either conjures a beach bonfire or a crashing wave. Their latest single, “East Coast Girl,” talks about a cute gal with ties to the obviously more boring side of the country:

Cayucas will perform tonight at Origami Vinyl for their album release party. And it’s free!

Cayucas’ Official SiteCayucas on FacebookCayucas on TwitterCayucas on Instagram

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"Waves" Music Video by Blondfire

231Eagle Rock‘s Blondfire created a music video for their second single “Waves” off their latest EP Where The Kids Are (Modern Art/Warner Bros. Records). Directed by the folkster Gus Black, the video follows vocalist/guitarist Erica Driscoll wandering around barefoot in the Death Valley desert –a bucket-list music video setting for every California band. What’s noticeable is the absence of the other half of the band (Erica’s brother Bruce Driscoll). But perhaps he was busy with his other project Freedom Fry.

Blondfire is now on tour with Foals and Surfer Blood.

Blondfire’s Official SiteBlondfire on FacebookBlondfire on TwitterBlondfire on InstagramBlondfire on Soundcloud

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"High School Lover" Music Video by Cayucas

cayucas6Santa Monica‘s Cayucas released a music video for their single “High School Lover.” Directed by Cameron Dutra, the video shows the beach bum band performing inside a brick building decorated like a bungalow. Band founder Zach Yudin glitches with spurts of colorful animated graphics as if he’s a piñata having a seizure. And of course, an adolescent romance is told. In the press release, Dutra said:

“‘High School Lover’ is about a girl who would write Zach love letters, yet he would never respond despite actually liking her back. I tried to abstract the idea of a high school girl’s notebook with doodles and sketches into stop motion graphics and titles. Overall we wanted to keep the vibe light-hearted, fun, and creative just like the music.”

Cayucas‘ debut album Bigfoot was produced by Richard Swift (The ShinsDamien JuradoThe Mynabirds) and will be released on April 30th via Secretly Canadian Records.

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Cayucas will next perform at Origami Vinyl on April 30th for their album release party. And it’s free!

Cayucas’ Official SiteCayucas on FacebookCayucas on Twitter, Cayucas on Instagram

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"Help Yourself" Music Video by Naama Kates (Premiere)

20121106_naama_kates_244-EditPiano poptress Naama Kates returns with her sophomore album entitled King For The Day. As if haunted by jazz, she hasn’t lost her “girl (performing-in-the-bar) next door” charm and delivers more cabaret chic pop that’s lacquered with cigarette smoke and sultry whispers…

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Her second single “Help Yourself” is accompanied by a music video that is Kates’ darkest to date. Created remotely by New York-based director Aaron Lehmann, Kates recorded her domestic routines (and her cat Masha) by hanging her iPhone with a clothes hangar in the corner of her Los Feliz apartment. Lehmann later added the digital special effects and himself appearing as “the stalker painter.” The final result is a chilling abstract view of voyeurism:

Naama Kates “Help Yourself” Music Video from Lehmann Film Productions on Vimeo.

In order to truly interpret the video, we asked Lehmann a few questions:

How did you come to direct this video?

“I’ve worked with Naama before on my thesis film, years ago.  I’ve always been a fan of her work, so I thought the release of her new album was a good opportunity to collaborate again.”

How did you decide to come up with the concept for the video?

“For whatever reason, ‘Help Yourself’ struck a chord with me.  All my inspiration came from listening to the song and letting my imagination go with it.”

What is the scary face that appears on the TV screens?

“The face-painted demon is ‘death-in-waiting,’ or the grim reaper.”

Creepy.

Naama Kates will perform next at Room 5 on Friday, April 26th.

You can purchase “King For A Day” on CD Baby.

Naama Kates’ Official SiteNaama Kates on FacebookNaama Kates on TwitterNaama Kates on YouTube

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