Born in Upstate NY singer-songwriter Angie Bruyere settled in Southern California at a young age and began a modeling career that took her on a journey around the world. With pen and paper always in hand, she began writing poetry and playing her guitar, drawing inspiration from such bands as Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and The Rolling Stones, Gram Parsons and Willie Nelson. Her unique sound and smoky, mesmerizing vocals contain both an honesty and an edge - both of which appear front and center on her new EP, You, which was released on October 7th. Via email Bruyere kindly took some time to answer a few questions about the EP, the video for "You" and more.
Having released the Blood Like Wine EP earlier in the year, were the songs on this new EP written since then, or were they songs you had in your pocket? Or a mix of both?
We actually recorded both EPs at the same time while in Nashville at The Castle Studios. There are several songs on both EPs that are from our first ever record called Riding The Belly that was never properly released and that we decided to re-record to give everyone a chance to hear, as well as some brand new ones. It was so fun to be able to give them a sort of new life......no song left behind kind of thing.
Do you draw from personal experience, others’ experiences, stories, or any combination of the three in your songwriting?
I generally tend to draw off of my own personal experiences in my songwriting more often than not. I really need to believe the words that I'm singing and to really feel them, it helps to have really lived them. I really do love writing for television and movies, however....I enjoy getting a storyline and vibe and writing a soundtrack to the scene. It's a great challenge and so gratifying when it really works.
Portland-based alternative country artist Amanda Richards was born into music. Her father led one the area's leading outlaw C&W acts, Jason Richards & the Silverado Band, and Amanda was stepping up onstage to sing with him at his standing shows at Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm and other Southern California venues from soon after she started to walk. As she explains, "Music has been my whole thing my whole life" – alongside such other artistic pursuits as a henna body artist, interior designer, muralist and more – "and I got really comfortable when I was really young singing in front of people." At age 17 she played her first paid solo show and eventually recorded her 2001 debut EP, Last Train. That was followed by the albums Not Always Sexy and Live at Mississippi Studios. In 2009 with the album Who Has Your Heart, Richards earned Grammy nominations for Song of the Year, Best Female Country Performance, and two nods each for Record of the Year and Best Country Song. In 2011, she released the well-received Play Dead, a concept album that centered around zombies. Now, she and her band The Good Long Whiles are gearing up for the release of their new album, Tough Ones to Love, due November 4th. In advance of the release, Richards kindly took the time to answer some questions about the album via email.
Your last record was a concept record, so were all of the originals on this record written since then or were some ones that you had in your pocket?
Some songs like “Last Train” and “Close to Me” had been previously recorded but the band breathed new life into them and changed them enough to justify re-tracking them. Most of the songs, however, were written after the zombie album was written and have been waiting in the queue to get their time in the studio.
Are you influenced by many different genres as the music blends roots rock, country, and even bluegrass into something uniquely your own?
When you love many different styles of music it is easy to let it wash over you. I grew up with folk, and country & western music; I listened to rock, punk and alternative as a teen and studied jazz in my early 20’s. I see myself as a breakaway traditional country artist - but instead of going the pop route like the majority of my contemporaries, I chose a more rock-influenced path with savory tones and dark emotional themes - kind of witchy cowgirl.
In 46 years of being a professional writer, Tom Carter has already left quite a legacy. The best-selling author has written autobiographies for artists such as Reba McEntire, Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard, George Jones, and Ralph Emery as well as novellas with Britney Spears and LeAnn Rimes. Nine of his books have been on the New York Times or USA Today bestseller lists - places where Carter is hoping to see his tenth in short time. Releasing in early 2017, his newest novel, Nashville: Music and Murder, is a thriller set in Music City and follows the story of starlet Maci Willis. Without giving anything away, Carter kindly took the time to discuss the novel, writing independently for the first time and what’s ahead.
You have written many memoirs, is Nashville: Music & Murder your first thriller?
It is. It’s actually my first solo attempt at fiction as well. I had done collaborations for short novellas with LeAnn Rimes and Britney Spears, but this is my first attempt at making up a compelling story. So if the book is a hit I get all the glory and if it isn’t….I’ll blame it on you (laughing).
What can you tell us about the plot of the novel?
It’s a thriller, a mystery - hopefully Nashville’s answer to John Grisham. The story involves a female country star who is performing in an arena, and as you know when artists play arenas or big stadiums, there are spotlights which don’t allow them to always see the faces of the audience. In my novel, the antagonist happens to be in the audience. He is deranged and obsessed with Maci Willis, the protagonist - and he has a gun. He inches his way to the stage, climbs onto the stage and shoots Maci. He’s quickly apprehended and taken into custody, and everything is thought to be over. But, it happens to Maci again, and still again. Here we have a non-controversial G-rated artist who all of a sudden is being stalked fatally and as we go through the storyline there are small turns and large turns that weave into a pretty compelling read.
Sounds very interesting. Do we learn more of Maci’s backstory as the story unfolds?
Oh, yes, we do, but if I told you that people won’t buy the book (laughing).
Kasey Lansdale is an accomplished author and actress, but it's music that is her primary passion. During her childhood, Kasey would sing along with Reba’s Greatest Hits and listen to groups like the Contours which led her to write her first composition at age seven. In 2013 she teamed up with Grammy Award-winning producer John Carter Cash on her album Restless, a pairing that was so creatively successful, she ended up working with him again on her latest EP, Leave Her Wild. After a year of extensive touring, Lansdale kindly took the time to speak about her roots, the album and much more.
Coming from a family of writers, when did you know that music was something that you wanted to pursue?
Music has always been something I knew I wanted to do. I was writing fiction before I was writing songs because it’s something my family did [Lansdale's father is author Joe R. Lansdale]. It made sense to follow in their footsteps, but I found more often than not, what I wrote came out as music rather than a book.
Were you always drawn to country music?
It was country, blues, and the female vocalists of the 90’s like Wynonna, Reba, and Trisha - women who had a true vocal quality as well as good songs. I grew up listening to other things as well including what my parents were listening to, which was music from the 1960’s. I have a real affection for that era because that was the time before pro-tools and machines where you really heard what artists do naturally.
Florida-based independent artist Buddy Brown wasn't a name many music fans were aware of...until now. Brown's latest EP, 'I Call BS On That' which was released on October 7th, is a five-song set that flew past chart mainstays like Chris Stapleton and FGL to give Brown his first #1 album. During an extremely busy few weeks, Brown graciously took some time to talk about the album, giving people something special with his music and more.
First of all, congratulations on I Call BS On That debuting at #1. Were you pleasantly surprised?
I was blown away. From how well our previous releases had done, I thought maybe we had a shot at the top ten, but #1….that’s something crazy I’m still trying to figure out.
It’s a huge accomplishment for an independent artist and something that really speaks a great deal to the fan base.
It really does. In order to promote the album, I released an acoustic version of “I Call BS On That” that went viral, really fueling the whole thing. We had so many people jump on board with 18,000 new Facebook fans and an eleven million person reach in one week - which has never, ever happened. The fan base has grown to 270,000 people from an amazing underground movement. It’s been really, really cool.
Backing up just a bit, your music is new to a lot of people, but you’ve been pursuing music for eight years. Was music what you always wanted to do?
It was. I played football and wanted nothing else but to play in the NFL, but I also loved to sing. So, in 2009 I put up my first YouTube video which got hundreds of thousands of views. I kept on recording music and making records and each one would do just a little bit better than the others, so it made no sense to give up. I shopped the music around at labels and all of them told me the same thing - develop a fan base so big that I couldn’t be ignored. So that’s what I did, never thinking it would get this far.
Singer-songwriter Josh Taerk has been playing venues all over his native Canada, the US and the UK for years, building a fan base as well as impressing industry peers such as Max Weinberg, who had him play support for his show in New Jersey, and John Oates , who introduced Taerk to Teddy Morgan, his now producer. Recently Taerk released his new single, "Anywhere Love Took Us" and graciously called to talk about the song, his roots, and more.
Your latest album, Here's To Change, was released in 2015. Was music something you always wanted to pursue professionally?
For as long as I can remember, there was always music playing in the house. For us, family time was spent singing along to old records, which was my introduction to music and a really great experience for me. When I was young, I was a big boy band guy and a buddy of mine was into rock music, so we’d joke that his rock music was terrible and my boy band music terrible. But one night, he invited me to watch his friend’s band perform. When they hit the stage playing AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” I fell in love the sound, the energy coming from the stage and how they would feed off of one another. I went home that night thinking I was going to be the next Slash - I had the super curly hair so I figured I was halfway there (laughing).
My guitar teacher at the time taught me chords more than scales, so I learned more of the rhythm part rather than the lead. When friends asked me to play, I quickly realized I’d have to sing for them to know the song I was playing, so I started to do that. At the same time, I was working as a camp counselor and developed a tight-knit friendship with a group of guys who were all into the same kind of music. At the end of the summer, one friend set up the end-of-year staff banquet and got permission to do a talent show....and without me knowing, signed me up. The day of the show he says to me that he’ll see me in a couple of hours and 'by the way you're playing in the talent show and closing it out as well, have a good time.' I was petrified because I only ever sang in front of 5-10 people, but to quote Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” so I figured I would do it and see how it went. I sang “Hey There Delilah” and I remember finishing the song and the place, which was about 500-600 people, went nuts. Feeling and seeing their reaction to my performance, I was hooked and knew that I needed to do that again.
Lauren Lizabeth has music in her soul. The Nashville-based artist has been singing, dancing and acting from a young age including her first professional acting job, with Theatre By The Sea, in Southern Rhode Island. In early 2011, Lauren was introduced to producer-songwriter, Shay Watson and the two began working together on a total of three EPs, including 2016's To Be Young. The singer-songwriter kindly called in to talk about her roots, the EP and the exciting things ahead.
Earlier this year, you released your third EP, but when did you begin singing and pursuing music full-time?
I have been singing my entire life, pretty much since I could talk. I started in musical theatre and majored in theatre in college, but I always had another side to me where I wanted not to be in character, but to be myself and my own artist.
Since you were involved in theatre, when and why did you gravitate to country music?
I started listening to country music when I was twelve or thirteen when my brother started playing it on the radio in the car. Then I started to sing it, and it just felt like me. I simultaneously pursued both theatre and music in college but knew that ultimately country music was what I wanted to do. I recorded all three of my EPs in Nashville, but this third one has been the one that changed the game for me. I co-wrote all of the songs and really found my voice and songwriting style.
This was the first time you did any writing. Did you find that you enjoyed the process?
People told me that if I wanted to be taken seriously and be successful that I needed to start to write my own material - to tell my story and let people know who I am. At first, I didn't think I could write and didn’t know where to start, but I spoke with my manager, who is a very seasoned songwriter, and he broke it down for me. I took what he told me seriously, sat down, tried applying it and the songs flowed out of me. For someone who said I couldn’t do it, I did it and then some. I’m so proud of that fact and of this EP.
Georgia-based singer-songwriter Chris Stalcup recently released his new album, Downhearted Fools, a passionate ten song project that weaves personal experience through tales of family, love, and life on the road, that are intimate, relatable and ultimately, hopeful. During a break from touring, Stalcup kindly took the time to talk about pursuing music full-time, the album, and more.
Prior to this release, you were working a full-time job and pursuing music on the side, but then you quit your job to concentrate on fulfilling your dreams. Why did you decide to go all in when you did?
We were getting good responses with the release of the two prior albums [one with Stalcup’s old band Chase Fifty-Six, and 2014's Dixie Electric Company with his current band, the Grange], which led us to be able to do some light touring. All the while, I was writing on the road, and I felt like the quality of my songs, and the reception when we played them live, was getting better. So, I decided that if there was ever a time I was going to do this, it should be now. I’m fortunate to have a pretty carefree lifestyle - I’m not married and have no kids - so I can pretty much do my own thing, but I’m also coming down to the last amount of time where I can do it in this capacity. All of that, combined with the fact that I'll be 44 this year, influenced my decision to just go for it and see what happens. On the backside of it all, I want to be able to at least say that I did it; I don’t ever want to have regrets and wonder what might have been.
I have a phenomenal band with guys who are willing to go on the road and kill it. I love playing with them and they feel the same – or at least they say they do (laughing). We have something that feels like fire and energy and I want to capture it while it's happening and ride it as far as it will go.
Vandoliers deliver country with a twist on their upcoming release, Ameri-Kinda. Due October 21st the debut album from the Texas-based sextet - Joshua Fleming (vocals/acoustic guitar), Mark Moncrieff (bass), Guyton Sanders (drums), Travis Curry (fiddle), electric guitarist Dustin Fleming (electric guitar) and Cory Graves (multi-instrumentalist) - mixes country, punk, folk, blues and more into a musical melting-pot that is super-charged, undeniably unique, and utterly refreshing. In advance of the album's release, frontman and songwriter Joshua Fleming took the time to talk about the bands' roots, the album and more.
The six of you are from different musical backgrounds, so how did you end up coming together to form Vandoliers in 2015?
Unlike New York or Nashville, Dallas-Fort Worth isn’t too big of a town. I’ve played in bands there for fifteen years, so I know pretty much everybody. I had written all of the tunes in almost one weekend and when my wife heard them she realized they were pretty folky and connected me with a friend - John Pedigo - whom she thought would know the sound I was trying to capture. I called John, sent him some songs, and he just totally understood what I was going for...and ultimately ended up producing the record. We did some demos and eventually word circulated around town that I was writing a country album. Guyton, who is a great drummer, came to the studio and laid down his parts all in one day. Mark and Cory, who were with Whiskey Folk Ramblers, came in on bass, trumpet, and piano and then Dustin, who is from a hard rock band in Denton, laid down all the chicken pickin’ and country guitars. We started playing shows and at one met Travis, who was playing fiddle with the opening band. I asked him if he wanted to try some stuff out and play on the record and he came in the studio, laid down his parts and a couple days later, without any practice, he began playing shows with us.
When I wrote the songs, I didn’t know what it was going to be; I thought I would just make a record and move forward. But once we had a record, everyone was like, “Let’s make a band.” At the first show we had a hundred people and at the second, there were two hundred; everyone was dancing and having fun and we were like, “Oh shit people like this.” (laughing) That’s when we decided this band would be our main focus. It’s crazy because I had no idea it would work out like this. Every day was a happy accident.
Eight years ago Chuck Westmoreland was playing rock and roll with his band, The Kingdom - until he decided to walk away from it all. This past September, he returned, almost a decade later, with his self-titled solo debut. Mining personal experiences including marriage, fatherhood, and his wife's cancer, Westmoreland's songs are character sketches that deal with real life, tragedy, and perseverance. Via email, he kindly took the time to answer a few questions about the record and more.
What happened eight years ago that made you walk away from The Kingdom?
The band broke up and I got busy owning and operating a restaurant and then opened a bar. The next thing I knew I was sitting in this electric blue ranch house in north Portland with my pregnant wife who had just survived cancer, staring at a stack of guitars I built, finally taking a deep breath thinking "I should play one of these guitars - it's been a while."
Were the events in your life the largest contributors to the record’s sound or was a shift in musical styling always
in the cards for you?
I think a lot of it is me getting a little bit older and the songs reflecting what I've been listening to. I just write the kind of songs I want to hear and try to write them as honest as possible.
Was there any artist you found musical inspiration in for this project?
When I'm mopping the floor of my bar in the mornings and cleaning up I listen to George Jones a lot.
I was also listening to Link Wray's self-titled album from 1971 when I was writing and recording this record.
For some, writing stories so personal can be therapeutic. Was it that way for you?
I think that turning horrible events into songs diminishes the pain, and that sharing them diminishes the loneliness, and that having another person identify with or be moved by that song allows the writer to trade something terrible for something beautiful.