Greetings my fellow NoiseTraders and a happy holiday weekend to you all! When I think of Independence Day, a few things immediately spring to mind. I think of Harry Connick, Jr. as a fighter pilot, Jeff Goldblum saving the world from an all-out alien attack with nothing more than a simple computer virus, and Will Smith teaching us all the best way to introduce yourself to new visitors (punching them directly in the face and saying “Welcome to Earth”, of course). Oh, and I think of apple pie and fireworks as well. Yes, a feeling of hoopla will be in the air this weekend and to join in the spirit of celebration, I thought I’d use this particular Weekend Wrap-Up to revisit some of our most recent (and most celebrated) features and interviews from the last couple of months. We also have an incredible WAYHOME Festival compilation that’s perfect to play during a day out on the lake or a day in on the couch. Alrighty, get into all the things!
When he’s not the guitar-slinging melodic madman leading Switchfoot, Jon Foreman has taken the opportunity to craft an impressive catalog of solo acoustic material. Old Seasons, New Day eloquently captures Foreman’s solo side by compiling his new song “Terminal” with a mixture of older songs from his Seasons EPs. The cinematic “Terminal” is from Sunlight, the first EP in Foreman’s brand new The Wonderlands multi-EP project that will feature 24 songs – one representing each hour of a day.
Our NoiseTrade One-on-One with Jon Foreman: http://blog.noisetrade.com/2015/05/noisetrade-one-on-one-interview-with-jon-foreman/
Eventhough Ingrid Michaelson just wrapped up her A Summer Night Out Tour earlier this week, you can still revel in the festivities with her A Summer Night Out Tour Sampler here on our site. Not only does the sampler features Michaelson’s “Time Machine,” “Warpath,” and Wonderful Unknown” from her recent Lights Out album, she’s included a wonderfully laid back live version of “The Way I Am” as well. Tour openers Greg Holden and Oh Honey each contribute a tasty track as well.
Our NoiseTrade One-on-One with Ingrid Michaelson: http://blog.noisetrade.com/2015/06/noisetrade-one-on-one-interview-with-ingrid-michaelson/
With his Grammy award-winning band currently on hiatus, fun. frontman Nate Ruess just released his sonically expansive debut solo album, Grand Romantic. A Nate Ruess Retrospective is a 4-track career-spanning sampler featuring a new track from Grand Romantic (“Take It Back” featuring Jeff Tweedy of Wilco), two fun. tracks (“Carry On” and “The Gambler”), and even a track from Ruess’ pre-fun. band The Format (“Oceans”). Even in just four songs, Ruess’ uniquely creative arc is unquestionably evident.
Our NoiseTrade One-on-One with Nate Ruess: http://blog.noisetrade.com/2015/06/noisetrade-one-on-one-interview-with-nate-ruess/
While author Laura Vanderkam is mostly known for writing books on time management and improved productivity, she’s also an accomplished fiction writer, as evidenced by her enthralling debut novel The Cortlandt Boys. Telling the story of a small town high school basketball team and the impact their youth had over the next few decades of their lives, The Cortlandt Boys is an engaging read that combines sports, mystery, and romance into one sprawling-yet-cohesive adventure.
Our NoiseTrade One-on-One with Laura Vanderkam: http://blog.noisetrade.com/2015/03/one-on-one-with-laura-vanderkam/
When writer Will Hodge (@will_hodge) isn’t found with his head in the curtains and a heart like the Fourth of July, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Hello there, NoiseTraders! It’s the last weekend of June and I can’t believe we’ve made it so far without me grinching out over summer yet! Usually I start going straight sun-scorned curmudgeon around mid-April, but so far Chicago has been charming me to the season quite a bit. While I certainly retain the right to recommence shaking my fist at the thermometer at a moment’s notice, it’s all going swimmingly right now. I’ve even sprinkled a few summer-soaked songs into my recommendations again this week as a continued gesture of goodwill to the poolside gods, lest they sweat-smite me. May these tunes find you basking in unequaled heights of enjoyment as well. Alrighty, get into all the things!
Last month, Kopecky released their newest album Drug for the Modern Age to an enthusiastic reception. As the band has a jam-packed summer tour schedule, there’s a good chance they’re coming through your town sometime soon. Prepare yourself accordingly with their Quarterback Tour EP, an energetic 4-track sampler that features two new tracks from Drug for the Modern Age (“Quarterback” and “Talk to Me”) and two classic Kopecky fan favorites (“Are You Listening” and “Hope”). The slick stutter of “Quarterback” and the infectious whistle of “Are You Listening” are worth the price of admission alone.
Escape to the Lake is one-of-a-kind music-based camping retreat that has been described as “like going to summer camp with some of today’s most critically-acclaimed songwriters.” Presented by our friends at Under the Radar, this year’s festivities will take place July 2-5 in Lake Geneva, WI on 21 acres of lakefront property (more info can be found at www.escapetothelake.net). This fantastic 22-track sampler will give you a taste of what you can expect at Escape to the Lake, including campfire-ready songs from artists like The Vespers, SHEL, Jenny & Tyler, Justin McRoberts, and more!
If the neon pastel purple logo on the album art didn’t give it away, “Summer Heat” by Cardiff, UK’s Paradise Walk is a retro-infused ode to the titular season that is awash in 80’s synth-pop textures and electronic drums. The band describes the song as “a rush of all things 8′s, a flashback to all those memorable summers” and it certainly feels that way. In fact, the song feels like it could seamlessly flow into a new-stalgic cover of Don Henley’s 1984 hit “Boys of Summer” at any moment. ‘Tis the (summer) season!
Ray Hollenbach’s The Man with All the Answers is compiled from 12 short stories that can be used for both entertainment and engagement. Depending on your own level of interaction with the stories and their characters, this book can be employed in a variety of settings. Whether it’s personal reading, small group discussion, or parental conversation starters, Hollenbach has crafted his storytelling in a way that impressively allows The Man with All the Answers to be bigger than the sum of its individually creative parts.
Howdy, howdy, howdy, NoiseTraders! Another weekend, another Weekend Wrap-Up. There’s a strange comfort to the small repetitions in life, right? There’s a strange comfort to the small repetitions… just kidding! I can honestly say that I’m pretty excited about this week’s recommendations. There’s a great summer song from newcomers SOCIAL, a slick hip-hop ode to the dreaded “friend zone,” and some absolutely fantastic chip-tune instrumentals straight from Turkey. With these songs, your weekend is sonically setup for success. Alrighty, get into all the things!
SOCIAL is a brand new Atlanta, GA-based indie-pop band and “F.I.Y.E.” is their slick debut single that sounds perfectly hand-crafted for summer. Combining 80s synth-pop washes, a pulsating bassline, and a super captivating chorus, “F.I.Y.E.” (short for “Fire In Your Eyes”) feels like an energetic sonic wave that’s just waiting to carry you away for a few short minutes. In fact, even clocking in at just over 4 minutes, the relaxed atmosphere of the track makes me long for another 80s staple – an “extended 12” instrumental dance edition” type of remix that would carry the run-time out into double digits. Make it happen, guys!
Man, Gospel Lee’s “Friend Zone” is hands-down one of the catchiest hip-hop tracks to ever grace our site. Lee’s lyrics quickly vacillate between humor, honesty, and truth, his vocal flow plays off the beats perfectly, and the backing track is super poppy and hook-filled. The first-person narrative allows Lee to put hefty emotion into his delivery and it makes the “word to the wise” advisory lines sprinkled throughout the track to come across authentically. Also included is a “digital b-side” called “Elastic Friends” – a remix of “Friend Zone” chopped up with Sia’s “Elastic Heart” that’s totally worth a listen as well.
Oh, the gems lurking within the sonic catacombs of NoiseTrade! If you grew up loving the distinct bleeps and bloops of 8-bit video games and dance-inducing chip-tune music, then the soundtrack to Rad Skater Apocalypse by Analog Sheep has been waiting for you, my friends! Analog Sheep is really just a one-man operation (Istanbul’s Guney Ozsan) and alongside the three transformative tunes from the game is “I Miss My Amiga 500” – Ozsan’s ode to the infamous Commodore gaming console.
Tom Skinner’s playful poetry collection Einstein’s Cat promises “short poems for smart minds” and it delivers on that promise in spades. Skinner subscribes to the Silversteinian school of youthful humor, left-of-center rhyming choices, and absurdist premises, so his poems are both engaging and enjoyable to read. Skinner often takes the opportunity to speak directly to the reader in his humorous “author notes” scattered throughout as well.
While we mostly interview artists for our NoiseTrade One-on-Ones, it’s always an interesting experience to interview someone from the legions of off-stage roles that encompass the music industry. Allan Pepper co-founded the legendary Greenwich Village music club The Bottom Line in 1974. Pepper ran The Bottom Line (along with the other co-founder Stanley Snadowsky) in the bustling New York City music scene for an impressive (and absolutely star-studded) 30-year run. We chatted with Pepper about The Bottom Line’s earliest days, The Bottom Line Archive Series releases, and Bruce Springsteen’s mythical pre-Born to Run 10-show stand at the club in the summer of 1975.
NoiseTrade: When you first opened The Bottom Line back in 1974, there’s no way that you could’ve envisioned the depth and range of talent that would continually grace its stage over the next three decades. What was the initial vibe of the club like upon first opening its doors?
Allan Pepper: When people ask me about the success of the club, I always talk about the fact that the stage was blessed on opening night by three musical wizards. There was a jam with Dr. John, Stevie Wonder, and Johnny Winter in front of an audience that included Mick Jagger, Carly Simon, Bette Midler, Don Kirshner, Rip Torn, Geraldine Page, James Darren, Charles Mingus, Janis Ian, and a host of other notable celebrities. Because of the opening night notoriety, we kind of hit the ground running.
The other thing that always drew attention was that our booking policy was so varied. We always wanted to present the best talent of the time that was available. And because of the range of music, it always kept people curious. We never envisioned ourselves as a specific kind of room – not as a jazz club or rock club or a cabaret. We always saw ourselves as a music room open to booking beyond one specific genre.
NT: Do you remember the first moment or the first artist that made you say “Hold on, I think we’ve really got something special going on here at The Bottom Line”?
Pepper: When we opened The Bottom Line, Stanley and I were both 31. To finally open the club was a dream come true for both of us. We had been working towards that goal since our early 20s. So when that opening night jam occurred that I referenced in your first question, and those sparks coming off that stage in front of this kind of audience, I turned to Stanley and said, “Holy shit, this is just the first night”.
At the time we opened, clubs in general booked long engagements – meaning a week to two weeks at a time – and we wanted to be more flexible. We would book an act for as many days as they could be available. I didn’t know if that would work or not. One day, I got a call to see if we would be interested in booking Rick Nelson for a Friday and Saturday night, and then 10 minutes later, I got a call from a different agent asking if I would be interested in booking The Strawbs for the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of the same week. It was at that moment that I knew our approach was going to work.
NT: As a huge Springsteen fan, his 10-sold-out-show stand at The Bottom Line in August of 1975 is pure musical mythos for me. What can you tell us anything about those 10 career-launching shows and about what you remember of that inexhaustible, 26-year-old, pre-stardom Bruce and his E Street Band?
Pepper: The first thing I can tell you is that it was every bit as magical as everybody said it was. The Born To Run Tour was the second time Bruce appeared at the club. He played at the club a year before that. Truthfully, on that first engagement, I didn’t get it. Part of it was because his show was evolving. And in fact, it wasn’t the E Street Band that we know today. And so, on this engagement a year later, when I was bringing in the crowd that had been waiting outside, a couple at the head of the line said Bruce Springsteen had ruined live music. I asked them what they meant by that, and they said, since they had seen him, they couldn’t go and see anyone else live because no one else could measure up. After seeing Bruce’s 10 shows, I knew exactly what they meant.
NT: The Bottom Line was known to be an intimate venue with an “official” seating capacity of 400. As it was routinely known to run well over that number, what were some of the most packed-out shows that you remember?
Pepper: Legion of Mary with Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders, David Bromberg, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Springsteen’s Born To Run tour, and Billy Idol – to name a few. The Legion of Mary show was our first real experience with that kind of overflow audience. People camped out on the street the night before to buy tickets. I actually slept at the venue that night. I figured, if they were gonna do it, so would I. I also wanted to make sure tickets went on sale when they were supposed to.
NT: Although the club closed in 2004, you have recently reignited the spirit of the legendary venue with The Bottom Line Archive Series. You released three live albums this past March and have four more planned for release on June 30 (Harry Chapin, Janis Ian, and two star-studded compilations featuring Joey Ramone, Pete Seeger, Billy Bragg, and more). How do you go about selecting which shows to releases and what can we expect from The Bottom Line Archive Series going forward?
Pepper: There are many factors that go into making these decisions. The physical shape of the tape (some have mold or some disintegrate when you pick them up), the sonic quality of the tape (how the tape actually sounds – meaning can you hear stuff clearly), and the performance on the tape. We have some tapes that we would not release because Gregg Bendian, the series producer and a musician himself, felt the performances were not up to a level that the artist would be comfortable with. He has transferred 3 different tapes we didn’t even send to the artist for their approval, because Gregg, as a musician and producer, did not feel they would be happy with their level of performance.
There’s a lot of consideration for how an artist sounds when making a decision as to what will be released. And yet, there are other tapes where the performances aren’t pristine, but the spirit and energy of the show captures something very special and that’s worth preserving. And then of course, you have to be able to get the rights to these performances which sometimes go beyond the musicians themselves. Currently, we are in discussions with either the artist manager or estates of some of the following: Waylon Jennings, Rory Gallagher, John Hiatt, Emmylou Harris, Jack Bruce, and Doc Watson.
NT: Finally, there have been countless examples of shows played at The Bottom Line that are important to the overarching musical culture-at-large. However, on a truly personal level, what’s an example of a moment at The Bottom Line that you have held the closest and in the fondest light over all these years?
Pepper: There are the obvious ones – the opening night with Dr. John, and certainly Bruce Springsteen and of course Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Meatloaf, Lyle Lovett, and Doc Watson, but there’s also Barry Manilow’s first appearance, Dolly Parton, Flo & Eddie, and most certainly, the first production of Leader of the Pack, every episode of In Their Own Words, and without a doubt, the Downtown Messiah.
While Nate Ruess has made quite a name for himself as the lead singer of the Grammy-award winning band fun., yesterday’s release of his debut solo album Grand Romantic marks the beginning of a brand new chapter in the eclectic frontman’s musical journey. Not only can you trace some of those sonic steps through his exclusive NoiseTrade sampler A Nate Ruess Retrospective (featuring new solo single “Take It Back,” two fun. songs, and a track from his pre-fun. band The Format), but you can also delve deeper into Ruess’ new solo adventure with our intimate and enlightening NoiseTrade One-on-One Interview as well.
NoiseTrade: Grand Romantic has such a diverse sonic range – sound collage-based pop, emotive piano ballads, a little vintage country crooning, cinematic strings, and arena-ready, singalong choruses. Did this diversity come from the unencumbered experimental atmosphere of recording as a solo artist or has it just always been mixing around in your head ready to come out?
Nate Ruess: I’ve never felt the need to be genre specific and fortunately I’ve always been in bands with people who think the same way. With that being said, I think it was easier for me in the writing process to allow these songs to be whatever I wanted because I didn’t have to tailor certain things around other musicians specifically. That itself can be a blessing and a curse. I think the excitement of trying new things made it much more a blessing for this album.
NT: In February you told Rolling Stone that you decided to make a solo record because “This is the first time I’ve been comfortable in my own skin.” What flipped that internal switch for you and how did that realization manifest itself?
Ruess: I like to think time has made me that way more than anything else. I can point to certain relationships or the surprising success of Some Nights as well, but more so it’s just all of life’s experiences (good or bad) accumulating and leaving me no choice but to accept who I am – whoever that is.
NT: Did the pressures and expectations to try and top the huge success of Some Nights impact your decision to go solo in any way?
Ruess: The success definitely helped. A lot of goals I didn’t even know I had were checked off once we put Some Nights to bed. That made me look around and think, “what’s something new I can accomplish?”
NT: Just a week or two ago you played your very first live set as a solo artist (with backing band “The Band Romantic”). How did it feel to take these songs out of the studio and set them free into the wild?
Ruess: So incredible. I’m lucky to have such a great band behind me (I’ve always felt very fortunate to have the people I’ve played with throughout). They took it upon themselves to really learn everything and I think they love the music. It makes it even easier when you enjoy what you’re playing every night. That, coupled with an amazing crew that makes us sound great, no matter the weirdness of a room. Plus, Jeff Bhasker came in during our week of rehearsals (as Musical Director) and MD’d like he used to with Kanye. I think that really helped with the backing vocals and people knowing exactly how something was played, getting it from the guy who played so much of the stuff on the album.
NT: Your song “Take It Back” features a wonderfully Wilco-esque guitar solo from Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy. How did that pairing come about and are you a Wilco fan at all?
Ruess: Wilco is my favorite band of the last 15 or so years. I shouted out my favorite song of theirs (“More like the Moon”) in a Rolling Stone interview years ago and Jeff Tweedy reached out about possibly collaborating. I think both of our schedules disallowed us to ever meet up. But once “Take It Back” was written, I intentionally left a gap just for him. Fortunately, he filled it with what ended up being my favorite part of the album.
NT: Your A Nate Ruess Retrospective NoiseTrade sampler features a new solo track (“Take It Back” from Grand Romantic), two fun. songs (“Carry On” and “The Gambler”), and “Oceans” from your pre-fun. band The Format. Is the intention here to craft a bit of a narrative arc of your musical career or are these just some of your favorite moments from your catalog?
Ruess: Great question. I think these are just a few of my favorite moments. As a songwriter – not just on Grand Romantic - but for a career, I’ve wanted to be diverse, because my taste and what inspires is so eclectic, and I feel like this is a nice eclectic bunch of songs I’ve written over the last 10 years.
Hey there, gang! Summer’s here and the time is right for finding all of the air-conditioned joints in town, amiright?!? In my opinion, there’s not too many upsides to the ever-escalating temperatures save one – summer festival season is upon us! This is my first summer away from Nashville, which means it’s my first summer away from all of the Bonnaroo craziness encompassing this weekend. However, I am now just 10 minutes down the road from where Lollapalooza will be held next month. I cannot wait to compare the two experiences and report back! I’m sure a splendid time is guaranteed for all (and tonight Mr. Kite is topping the bill). Alrighty, get into all the things!
After the release of their catchy debut EP last year, Future Thieves is already prepping for their full-length album follow-up Horizon Lines (due out in September). Horizon Lines Teaser is a four-song sneak peek EP that captures the all-American rock fury that Future Thieves has quickly become known for in their short time on the scene. While their sound draws comparisons to Tom Petty, Delta Spirit, and Drew Holcomb, it is lead singer Elliot Collett’s gruff croon that gives Future Thieves the immediate individuality that’s needed to set them apart from their inspirations. Opening track “Soon” wonderfully straddles the line between rumbling controlled thrill ride and potential derailment at any moment.
It’s no exaggeration to say that one-man-band Dw Dunphy has a treasure trove of cinematic instrumentals waiting to be discovered on NoiseTrade. People Wearing Masks has an entire album’s worth of them, but it’s the single “That Never Works” that has enticed my ears the most so far. There’s something about the melody and chordal tones of “That Never Works” that reminds me of the “a-ha” moment that transpires towards the end of a John Hughes film, although the tempo swings a little more than its cinematic counterparts. So I guess you could call it “slightly speed-up John Hughes epiphany music” – and really, what more could you want to listen to on a lazy weekend?
ARMS is a Brooklyn-based indie-rock duo consisting of Todd Goldstein (Harlem Shakes) and Tlacael Esparza and what I like most about “Comfort” is the charged atmosphere created by the push-pull interplay of Goldstein’s slippery, dreamy electric guitar work and Esparza’s energetic drumming. “Comfort” is from the band’s second EP – understatedly titled EP2 – and it’s such a strong track to introduce you to the unique ache of Goldstein’s voice and the overall sound of ARMS.
How can you not be intrigued by a book about a five-year, revenge-fueled, monster-hunt across Victorian-era Europe? Catherine E. Kovach’s Evangeline follows Oliver Chattoway as he tracks the creature that killed his family and meets the mysterious Evangeline along the way. Part thriller, part travelogue, and part Frankensteinian “who’s the real monster?” allegory, Evangeline is an intriguing page-turner (screen-swiper?) that’s worth your weekend.
NoiseTrade exists to help artists, authors, labels and publishers meaningfully connect with fans through the exchange of free books and music for email addresses & postal codes. But now that you’ve got those emails and postal codes, what do you do with them?
First of all, if you haven’t figured out how to get your fan information out of NoiseTrade:
- Login to your artist/author account.
- Click on “Fan Data” or “Reader Data” tab
- The default view here is to show everything you’ve ever offered on NoiseTrade. There is a button in the center of the page that will download the .CSV file of the data for you.
- If you want data for just one book or album, click that album name on the left first, then click the download button.
Getting Organized- Sign up for an Email Management Service
If you’re already using an email management service, skip to the next section. If you’re not:
- Sign up with an Email Management System (EMS). Besides managing the data, they help you comply with privacy laws by giving fans an easy way to update subscription preferences. Their templates make your communications look more professional, and, because they have relationships with the major email services (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) your message is less likely to end up in SPAM folders.
- At NoiseTrade, we use MyEmma. Other good options are: Aweber, MailChimp, Constant Contact. Many have great low and no cost options to get you started.
- Get all the addresses for everyone who has signed up to receive email communication from you into a spreadsheet. Excel, Numbers, Google Sheets, anything will work.
- Remember—Only include those who have actually asked to receive communication from you. Just because Jon Foreman sent a response to the fan mail you sent him doesn’t mean you can add him to your email list.
- Import the addresses you have into your Email Management Service.
- This is slightly different for each service, so I’m not going to give you step by step instructions, but it’s generally pretty straight forward, and all the services have great tutorials to help you out.
Treat Email Addresses with Care:
- Never buy a block of email addresses! Doing so will make you a spammer and could get your EMS account shut down. While NoiseTrade offers paid promotional placement in our newsletters, this is not the same as purchasing email addresses, as we don’t provide you a certain number of addresses in exchange for the fee. Everyone who downloads (and, therefore, signs up) does so of their own volition.
Make Sign-ups Easy:
- Use your EMS to make a sign-up widget, or use the widgets provided by NoiseTrade. Which ever you chose, post it!
- In the sidebar of your website or blog, where it will be available no matter what page someone is looking at.
- As a link on Twitter (no more than once every few days, and don’t forget to stagger posting times).
- Facebook: If your EMS offers Facebook integration, set it up. If not, post your link there too.
- Add your link to your bio and anywhere else you have a presence online.
- Authors, put links in the backs of your books.
- When you make public appearances, have an in-person sign-up option as well. Have a laptop/tablet with the sign-up form you created open, or a piece of paper and a pen. (Tip: electronic sign-ups often receive a better response as people feel it’s more “secure”.)
- Use your network:
- Trade promotion with another author/artist: Guest posts on blogs, newsletter articles, and joint webinars with someone whose audience you want to reach are all great options.
- Contact podcasts and offer to be a guest.
- Interviews: make yourself available for them, or, even better, start your own series on your website. Interview people you admire and distribute via blog posts or through podcasts.
- Host a contest.
- Create video content.
Communicate With Your List:
- Decide, and share with your list, how often you’ll be communicating. The two big factors in determining frequency are your audience and your ability to create material. A fiction author or an artist with a set touring schedule may want to have once-a-month check-ins, while a non-fiction author or an artist that frequently ads shows may easily fill a weekly newsletter.
- For more frequent schedules, offer your audience the option of a “Digest Version” —once a week for daily emails, once a month for weekly. You’d much rather send less than have people unsubscribe entirely.
- Exceptions to the schedule: If you have something big and exciting to share and it’s out of cycle, that’s fine, as long as these random mailings don’t become the norm. If it’s timely, send a special email. If it’s going to be just as cool when it’s time for your next email, hold on to it.
What to Write: Remember that each person on your list has given you two valuable things: their email address, and their time.
- Content should be exclusive.
- Don’t recycle blog posts verbatim; most of your subscribers probably read it. A short, hyper-linked list of blogs you’ve written recently with a summary no longer than a tweet (140 characters) is okay to draw attention to anything they may have missed.
- Authors can include a deleted or teaser scene from a book, or information about research.
- Artists can pick a song and tell the story behind it, or an anecdote about touring or recording.
- Include information about sales, events and promotions you’re involved in.
- Share personal stories (within reason.) Your fans want to “know” you.
- Content should be exclusive.
How to set up the newsletter:
- Draft in whatever word processor you chose, then copy and paste the text into your Email Management System.
- Once you’ve found a layout template you like, stick to it. It’ll make formatting future emails much faster, and readers like a familiar feel.
- Avoid writing, formatting and sending all in one day. You’re much more likely to catch mistakes if you let the material sit for a day or two between draft and distribution.
- Things to consider while writing and formatting:
- Write a greeting and ending (it is a newsLETTER, after all.)
- Keep blocks of text short and to the point.
- Lists (bulleted or numbered) make scanning easier.
- Make use of formatting (bold, italics, underlining) only as appropriate.
- Use proper grammar/spelling/etc. and have at least one proofreader.
This may seem hard for the first couple of weeks or months, but eventually you develop a rhythm. When you provide engaging content on a regular basis, your fans share it. The list continues to grow, and people become excited to support your other work.
With her new album Lovers Know out August 7th on Saddle Creek, The Mynabirds’ Laura Burhenn has found a new sound for her most personal and confessional album to date. After driving the United States twice and touring South Africa and the U.K. solo, Burhenn finds herself with new experiences to share with her fans. Check out our interview with her below and be sure to pick up her new album when it comes out in early August.
NoiseTrade: Your sound seems to have a drastic change between your last album Generals and your new album Lovers Know, which comes out August 7 on Saddle Creek. Can you tell us a little bit about why it seems like such a large change?
Laura Burhenn: I’m always changing like the wind. I admire artists like David Bowie, PJ Harvey, and Bjork who use their voices and even their bodies like blank canvases, trying a whole new style and set of paints for every album. So even from my first record (What We Lose In the Fire We Gain in the Flood) to the last one (GENERALS), I’ve changed a lot. I like a lot of different music and types of music, and it’d sound insane to explore it all together in one album. What We Lose In the Fire We Gain in the Flood had a lot of 60s Soul, GENERALS had some 70s John Lennon and 90s Riot Grrrl razor’s edge. And in Lovers Know, I wanted to get back to the dark 80s synth pop and 90s R&B that I grew up on and love. So there it is — onto the next thing. Consistency is overrated.
NT: You mention in your bio that you realized just how similar every one in the world is because we’re all searching for love. Do you think this is the most important thing you learned while traveling and touring alone?
Burhenn: Yeah, for sure. We’re all looking for a true connection, even if it’s just meeting eyes with a stranger on the street and sharing a knowing glance. We’ve all been wounded in some ways, some of us more deeply than others. I think that eternal struggle is wanting love and simultaneously being terrified of what it’ll do to us if and when we get it.
In my last album, I delved into politics and war, trying to figure out what the ultimate answer is for finding peace. When I got to the end of it, looking at it from every angle, I kept coming up with just one thing: “Love.” It seemed so trite to me, but ultimately it’s true. So following that album up with a set of love songs seems exactly right. Because love is the thing that tears us apart. But it’s also the thing that makes us sing.
NT: You have this really beautiful William Faulkner quote in your bio that says, “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” How did that quote affect you on your travels and on this new album?
Burhenn: 2013 was an amazing year for me. I got to tour as a member of the Postal Service — seriously “Such Great Heights”! And as that wound down and I was looking back over everything I’d accomplished in my life (two Mynabirds albums on Saddle Creek, a tour with Bright Eyes in 2011, my old DC band Georgie James, even starting a record label and releasing two solo records on it way back in the day), I felt proud, but also a little lost. I mean, having always wanted to “make it” as a musician, my fifteen-year-old self would be so stoked for everything I was doing! But had I “made it”? And what does it even mean to “make it”?
So I let myself wander around the world, touring South Africa and the UK, driving across the US twice, and meditate on that. In not even knowing what the “new horizons” were I was looking for, I just kinda let go. It allowed me to be more adventurous in terms of songwriting and production. I let myself go in new directions, working with new people (like Bradley Hanan Carter, who produced Lovers Know), and taking chances on new ways of doing and seeing things. I think that really shows up in these songs – different melodies, even letting my voice sing in a whole new way. To me, the best kind of life is an unstuck life. And so you have to keep asking yourself to open up, and keep on opening. Shedding an old skin, moving away from what you know and what’s comfortable isn’t always easy. But it is always rewarding.
NT: Tell us a little bit about the song “Semantics” and why you choose it for the first single on your new album.
Burhenn: “Semantics” is about old love, pleading to a lover to keep our love alive, to see the glass “half full” instead of “half empty.” I was thinking about those experiments with water molecules — how Buddhist monks meditated positive things into polluted water, and how the molecules kind of changed into these gorgeous, snowflake-like things. And we are mostly water. So what if that simple power of positive thought could do the same thing to us, and to our love? It’s the first song I wrote for the album, and it feels like the perfect driving song to me — it even sings about driving in the coda (“Tie it to the car again and drive until the sun resets / Too much to love, too much to love…”)!
So since that’s what I was doing a lot of while I was writing, I wanted that to be the first feeling to share. There’s probably even a little bit of a conversation I’m having with myself about my own life — to not give up, to keep going, to see the bright side. And sonically speaking, it’s a good starting place from the last record, for sure. I think it feels fresh from GENERALS, but still familiar.
NT: What makes this album more personal and confessional than your previous ones? Did your trips across the states and the world help you reveal this in your songwriting?
Burhenn: While I was writing this record, I went through the breakup of the longest relationship I’d ever had. It felt like mourning a great death. And actually, sometimes it even felt like death. I let myself go very deep into the darkest places of all of those feelings about it. I think I really tried to make these songs absolutely sing like pages of my diary, to be brutally honest with myself about love, what it had done to me, and also the little candle of hope I still held for it in the future.
Through my endless driving across the US, I think I finally broke myself down through utter exhaustion, traveled far enough away to realize all I was trying to do was just look in the mirror and face myself. I really let my subconscious speak, and so some of the lyrics feel like someone else wrote them, but they also feel so absolutely true. And I just had to trust whatever deep down gut feeling I had about that – that I must be truly singing my own song, and also something so incredibly universal.
NT: Tell us a little bit about the songs you chose for the mixtape on our website. Was there any significance behind them?
Burhenn: For the mixtape, I wanted to give a taste of a couple songs from each of my first two Mynabirds records, of course “Semantics” from the new album, Lovers Know, and then I wanted to share a perfect summery remix that Field Days did of the song “Radiator Sister” from my last record, GENERALS.
I’d been talking a lot with my bandmates while we were touring in 2012 about the kinds of sounds I wanted to explore in the next record. And Patrick, who was playing bass in the band and who also makes music under the name Field Days, was present for a lot of those talks. When I did a remix EP of GENERALS, he wanted to do a song, and ended up with this brilliant version of “Radiator Sister,” which I think was kind of the perfect sonic bridge into Lovers Know. I hope you love all of the songs, but that one especially. It’s also a great summer road trip song!
Greetings and salutations, NoiseTraders! First things first, if you are one of the three people who have not yet downloaded the insanely huge and gem-packed 74-track In A Decade: The Complete Works from Matthew Perryman Jones then you should remedy that right this very second. I’ll wait… *cue “The Girl from Ipanema” elevator muzak cliché*… All done? Good! While that will certainly keep your ears ecstatically occupied for a moment or two, I’m lavishing you with even more sonic souvenirs from my travels through the NoiseTrade catacombs. Between MPJ’s entire catalogue and my weekly recommendations, you should hopefully be BEYOND set for a weekend full of wonder. Alrighty, get into all the things!
Self-described as “folky-lovely slow-rumble,” This Is The Kit is the dreamy musical project of Paris-by-way-of-England singer-songwriter Kate Stables and “Misunderstanding” is the mesmerizing first single from her brand new album Bashed Out. Combining relaxed, trance-inducing electric guitar work with Stables’s unassumingly tender Marketa Irglova-esque vocals, “Misunderstanding” crafts a thoroughly transformative listening experience. Produced by Aaron Dessner of The National, Bashed Out is This Is The Kit’s third album and I think it’s poised to be the one that will break them here in the states.
LA-based rapper Avery Harden expertly mixes funny with flow on The Fresh Prince Tape, a hip-hop mixtape that musically and lyrically draws from a variety of nostalgic pop culture sources while still remaining current and fresh in its intention. While the majority of the songs and samples center around dialogue snippets from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air television show (“Willy from Philly,” “Hillary Banks,” and “Uncle Phil’s Cake”), it’s the “Rebirth of Slick” sample from Digable Planets on the song “Bel-Air” that keeps me spinning it again and again.
The Black Oaks are an Australian alt-country band and they perfectly capture the raw and reckless spirit of early Uncle Tupelo/Wilco/Son Volt on their 4-track EP Out on Parole. Opening song “Valerie” kicks the doors open with wild sing-along abandon, “Out on Parole” sounds like a twangy Replacements outtake, “Shakedown” features some chiming acoustic-electric interplay, and “Broken Bottles, Parked Cars, & Streetlights” closes the EP out in wonderfully appropriate “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here” barroom shutdown style.
The subtitle to Speed Bumps by Noah Elias is “My Journey Using Life’s Challenges as Launching Pads” and Elias’s book encouragingly details that exact thing through the good, bad, and ugly parts of his life. As an in-demand custom artist, Elias has worked on projects for a wide variety of celebrity and corporate clients (MTV, Levi’s, Lexus), with The Fast and the Furious movie franchise, and most recently with The Walt Disney Company. As an author, Elias uses Speed Bumps to instruct readers on how to turn the speed bumps of life into launching pads to get you “living in your sweet spot.”
When writer Will Hodge isn’t to rap what key be to lock, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Ingrid Michaelson is currently out on the road for A Summer Night Out Tour – her biggest tour yet – and we are so excited to partner with her to celebrate the summer shenanigans. Not only is she offering a free download of A Summer Night Out Tour Sampler, but we also did an interview with her to chat about the scope of these outdoor shows, her hilarious star-studded music video for “Time Machine,” and her own memories of outdoor shows as an audience member.
NoiseTrade: Many of the stops on your “A Summer Night Out” tour will be outdoor venues. For these outdoor concerts, do you have to change up your show in any way or do you have to be mindful of anything that’s not an issue during your normal indoor shows?
Ingrid Michaelson: Yeah, we’ve actually changed up the show a lot due to the scope of these venues and the size of them. For example, this is the first time we’re traveling around with a lighting rig and a stage set that has to be built and broken down every day. The shows themselves are just going to be amped up.
In terms of being outside, it does just make things feel so much bigger. There’s no ceiling and there’s no walls, so we’ve just been focusing on making the show bigger and making it more of an event. The smaller, intimate things can get swallowed up in outdoor venues, so overall we’re just trying to step it up and have a party at every venue.
NT: That makes sense. Does that mean you’ll be changing up the arrangements for any of your songs or are there any new covers that you’ll be unveiling for the first time at these shows?
Michaelson: Yes! We’re actually doing a lot of older songs in newer arrangements. We’re also doing some surprise covers and I’ve got some special guests showing up along the way. It’s going to be different from any other show we’ve had so far. It’s going to be really fun and I’m excited!
NT: Two of the concerts – a co-headlining show with Ben Folds at Red Rocks on June 21 and Central Park on June 29 – seem like they’re going to pretty memorable gigs. Are either one of these “firsts” for you?
Michaelson: I actually played Central Park last year. That was my first time there. It was a beautiful night, the weather was perfect, it was sold out, and it was the kind of show that I wish I could just do over and over and over again. So, I’m praying for great weather again and I’m really excited about going back. New York is my home and there’s nothing like playing a sold out show in your home town.
I’ve played Red Rocks before but I’ve never gotten to share the stage with Ben Folds. For that show, we’re playing with the Colorado Symphony, which is going to be incredible! I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet, you know? The venue itself is so amazing and then getting to play with someone that I idolized growing up and then also getting to play a symphony… I think that’s going to be a highlight, not just of this tour, but of my entire musical career.
NT: Have you guys planned out what you’re going to do yet? Will it be two different sets or will you be playing a bunch of song together?
Michaelson: We’re doing two different sets but I’m hoping we’re going to get to do some stuff together. We haven’t really figured it out yet. I know so many of his songs that I may just invite myself on stage for his set (laughs).
NT: That works! Since one of the tracks on your NoiseTrade sampler is “Time Machine”, I have to ask you about your music video for it. Where did the concept come from and how did you go about getting all of those actors and comedians to play along (Rainn Wilson, Matt Jones, Jorge Garcia, Rob Delaney, Steve Agee, Brian Baumgartner, Dave Koechner, Garrett Dillahunt and Donald Faison)?
Michaelson: I came up with the idea – funny, goofy guys upstaging me at every turn in all these different scenarios – and I got the idea to Rainn Wilson whose production company (Soul Pancake) produced the video. Rainn got some people and I asked a couple people. I think it’s such a fun idea and it was just a couple of hours of work and then you’re done. We did it two days and it was such a fun shoot.
NT: Yeah, you looked like you were having just a little bit of fun doing it. Do you like doing music videos or are they a necessary evil of the job?
Michaelson: I think some can be a necessary evil. It depends on how you’re doing them. I’m having fun with them because they’re my ideas, they’re from my brain. To actually think of something and then have it come to fruition is awesome.
NT: Between the “Time Machine” video and your most recent hilarious appearance on the Nerdist podcast, I’m sensing you have a comedic side that’s trying to bust out. Are you thinking of doing any stand-up or anything like that on the new tour?
Michaelson: (Laughs) I don’t think I’ll ever do stand-up because that just takes such balls to do. I don’t even know how people do that. I do like making people laugh when I’m on stage. That’s a fun part of the show for me.
Actually, my manager and I have been focusing more on the idea of getting involved in some sort of comedic endeavor – podcasting, acting, whatever. It’s hard because with my music I have a very specific schedule but it’s definitely something that I enjoy doing. I do want to push it further though and try to find the right fit for my voice in that area.
NT: Final question here… Do you have any memories of outdoor concerts that you went to as a kid or teenager from a fan’s perspective?
Michaelson: Oh yeah! My first concert that I ever went to was at this big outdoor venue in New Jersey. I went to see the band Live. I was in sixth grade and I had never been to a concert before, let alone one so big. I had been to classical recitals and things like that, but I had never seen a rock concert, outside, with 20,000 other people.
Before that, I knew I had wanted to be in theater and be on stage but I never considered even being a musician until I was in college. So, it’s not like I sat there and thought “Wow, this is something I really want to do.” But I do remember being so mesmerized and thinking it was so cool.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t rockin’ the suburbs, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack