Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Falling Birds

The Falling Birds is an Indie Rock band based in Brooklyn, NY whose music encompasses elements of blues, country and grunge rock. Principle songwriter, Stephen Artemis spoke with Tuned In, Turned Up about the band’s latest EP, musical influences, and offers a piece of advice to new musicians.

What inspired your band name, “The Falling Birds”?

Growing up I was in bands my whole life but when I moved to New York I found myself in this never ending survival cycle that left me with no time to perform or start a band.  I felt like I was on a hamster wheel just trying to make ends meet without any room for passion or expression.  I finally decided that I’d rather leave New York then to live like that and I put all of my energy into building a band.  So fast forward about a year, I made it work, I had started playing with a drummer and I wrote 5 or 6 songs.  we booked our first gig and we needed to call ourselves something.  we were trying to come up with a name and it just so happened that this flock of birds fell out of the sky. I remember all these people took it as some kind of biblical sign, it was in the papers briefly.  So there were a few people who had their 15 minutes of fame to talk about the impending “end of days”, but we (as a band) were just getting started.  The Falling Birds stuck with me, and I got this imagery of a falling bird in my head.  the more I thought about it the more I related to it as a metaphor for how I felt without music in my life & how I was feeling when I first moved to New York.  So we took the name as a kind of reminder for what life can be like without pursuit of your passion.  

Your music incorporates various influences – from blues to country to rock – what bands or artists have had the biggest influence on your music or have most inspired your style?

Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, all of the Rolling Stones, Booker T & the MG’s, Jack White, Joe Pug, Johnny Cash, James Jamerson, Zepplin, Wilco, Shannon Hoon, Cobain, Billy Corgan, Eddie Vedder, Del McCoury Band, Fat Mike, James Jamerson

If I can write songs that sound like a giant car wreck of all those guys I’d be really happy.  What’s funny is that there’s definitely is a country side to our music but I wouldn’t consider my country music depth of knowledge to be big enough to call myself a country fan.  I like country and I guess some of the songs just come out sounding like what I think country might sound like.  Nick and Dave have a lot more knowledge of those areas so I think when they put their parts to the song it helps develop that country edge to my more blues and punk side.  

You’ve previously mentioned that the declining industry and falling population (known as the Rust Belt) have effected your songwriting and music – how would you say it’s changed your outlook when writing a song? Which songs have you written that were influenced by your experience with the Rust Belt?

I can’t really say how it has changed my outlook when writing a song because it’s been my life experience and it’s just a part of me that I have.  But I think that it has driven an awareness to social issues in me that reflects in the music. It’s an awareness of the disparity that exists today and it’s not really noticeable until you step outside of your bubble. I guess I always felt like if I ever had a chance to be heard then I might as well say something with some kind of meaning. If Time Allows, Dead Man Walking, and a song called “Oh Me, Oh My” which will be on our follow up EP, all touch on that subject.  I think that it has just helped to form my feelings (good, bad or indifferent) toward money, politics, social pressures, friends and family.  If Time Allows deals with cherishing what you have even if it’s not a lot by others standards.  That type of message creeps up in this EP and it will in the next one as well.  If I write about those types of themes, I like to write about being in them, or facing them, without passing judgement or trying to tell the audience what they should believe.  Hopefully they connect with the topic and form their own feelings about the song.

What’s your favorite part about being a musician (i.e. writing the songs, performing live, being in the studio)?

The excitement of writing a new song is the best.  When you get inspired and you write one that just flows out for whatever reason – and you look back on it and you don’t have to change it or rearrange parts – that is one of the best feelings in the world.  For me it is a way to release and to cope with whatever is on my mind… it’s like having an addiction. 

If you could choose one band, artist or musician to see live in concert (dead or alive) who would it be?

Jimi Hendrix… I’ve dreamt about it

What was the inspiration for the Native America EP? What are you hoping to portray with this album? 

Our music spans a lot of genres, so we decided to put songs on there that were inspired by a number of “Americana” type influences – country, folk, blues, punk, surf rock, garage rock – All of those things – and we wanted to mix them together in an interesting way.  So we were looking to portray the variety and versatility of American music.  We called it Native America because it’s a big jumbled up mess of all kinds of influences, kind of like America.

What’s a piece of advice you’d give to a band or artist just starting out in the industry?

Be loyal, be humble, and don’t break up.


Listen to the entire Native America EP here:

Additional music and information for The Falling Birds can be found at:

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Dog Society

Dog Society is an American rock band based in New York City. After releasing their debut album, Test Your Own Eyes on EastWest / Atlantic Records, the band toured extensively, opening for acts like Sheryl Crow and Stone Temple Pilots. Dog Society took a nearly 20 year hiatus before independently releasing their album, Emerge. Co-produced by Rob Schnaapf and Tom Rothrock (Beck, Elliot Smith), Emerge is the sound of the band recapturing their spirit. Tuned In, Turned Up spoke with Bruce Brauer and Rich Guerzon from the band about their hiatus, the story behind Emerge and what’s coming next for the band.


After a nearly twenty year hiatus from releasing a studio album, what made you guys decide to get back in the studio?

I simply missed my friends and the collaboration we had. I made the initial phone call to Brian after a long while and we booked a studio in Manhattan. We all walked in and hugged each and Joey counted off 1 2 3 4….It was as though zero time passed. We were tighter and sounded great. The excitement and feel was still there after the long hiatus. B.B.

We had all been doing the mid life shuffle, starting families, making music on our own and with others. “Test Your Own Eyes” was a great experience for us all. We felt a little sided that the record did not get the attention we thought it deserved by our management or the label. I believe that was hidden inside all of us and left a hunger to prove ourselves. Deciding to do the follow up cd after so many years came naturally and easily. A few phone calls, laughs and drinks and here we are. R.G.

What inspired the name “Dog Society”?

We wanted a name that represented what we were trying to create with our sound. Dog Society seemed to fit perfectly. It was inspired by the plains tribes of the Cheyennes. Few in number, they overcame or held in check most of the peoples who opposed them, and when the westward movement of European civilization began, they made more trouble than all the rest combined. Each society had its own songs and secret ritual, and exacted certain observances and standards of its members. Our music is a journey into the soul, our performance is a ritual for all of us.

We live in a world filled with beauty and horror and this is what we are writing about. We are musical warriors :). R.G.

How would you guys describe your current sound?

It’s hummable. I like to think we have memorable hooks easy enough for anyone to sing along. Good production and poetic lyrics are both things I’m proud of. B.B.

I like to think that we are a culmination of all the great musicians and songwriters of the past mixed in with our own unique modern twist. We make it a point to be experimental with arrangements and lyrics. Influenced by the greats, but not repeating what’s been done, and definitely trying our best to not be cliché. R.G.

What other bands or artists have inspired your music, and have those influences changed since your last studio release? 

I am influenced by all musicians, and all styles from all over the world, past and present, popular or not. I only wish I had enough time in my life to absorb it all. R.G.

What’s the story behind the album cover and title for your album, Emerge?

Our Guitarist Bruce had the idea of doing a “Day of the Dead” style skull for the cover art. Day of the Dead is a Mexican Holiday that focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. He had shown me some illustration ideas, and I suggested we do a diorama, similar to the “Test Your Own Eyes” cd cover designed by Hans Neleman. Using a real Dog Skull with some symbolic imagery around it, thus keeping it tied in with the first cover art design. Bruce was responsible for the final creation which we all loved.

The title “Emerge” came about like this: Brian had written some lyrics to a new song we had been working on, will be on the next cd. The title was “Emerge” and he suggested it for the title of the follow up cd and we all agreed. That’s how you know it is the right title, when we all agree lol. The meaning just made so much sense at where we were coming from at that moment. B.B.

How has the process of making music and the band dynamic changed since the release of the Test Your Own Eyes record?

It really hasn’t, we still disagree on everything, but magically it all comes together in the end :). We all write songs on our own and bring them into the rehearsal, where they get butchered by the others LOL . The butchering is really all of us trying to make it the best we can. We all have different taste, opinions and experiences so of course we are not going to see eye to eye. However that is why the final product is so interesting. It works and it makes sense. R.G.

If you could each choose any musician or band in the world to see perform live, who would it be and why? 

At the moment Bill Withers, because of his raw talent as a singer, musician and songwriter. R.G.

What can we expect from Dog Society in the future?

It’s full throttle for us. Positive feedback is snowballing and pushing the momentum of our project B.B.

We are currently working on our next cd. There will be plenty of live performances to come. R.G.


Listen to the entire “Emerge” album here:


Dog Society’s album Emerge can be purchased on iTunes.

Additional Dog Society music and information can be found at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Lee Koch

Lee Koch is a singer/songwriter from Southern California who’s getting ready to release his first album since coming off of the NBC hit show, The Voice. Lee’s record, “Whole Heart” will be available on August 27th, 2013 and was a fan funded album. Tuned In, Turned Up spoke with Lee about his time on The Voice, the music he’s currently listening to, and his goals for the future.

How would you describe your sound?

Soulful Americana

What was the most important thing you learned from your time on The Voice?

Stay true and enjoy the ride.

Is there a venue or festival you’d like to perform at in the future?

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

 What advice do you have for people who’d like to start a career as an artist?

Stay true and enjoy the ride.

 If you could see any band play live (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

James Brown. Song AND dance.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing or playing a show?

Love on wifey and baby. Good food and drink while immersed in nature. Family.

 Who are some bands or artists you have been listening to a lot lately?

Kalai. Paolo Nutini. Hoots and Hellmouth. The White Buffalo.

 What are your long-term goals as an artist?

Stay true and enjoy the ride.


Stream Lee Koch’s new album, “Whole Heart”:


Pre-order Lee Koch’s album “Whole Heart” on his website.

Additional Lee Koch music and information can be found at:

Of The Poet

Of the Poet is an Americana/Urban Country Trio based in Chicago, IL comprised of Jordyn Dickson (vocals), Kyle Goeken (vocals/guitar) and Dan Tallian (guitar/mandolin). Their debut EP, “Standby” released July 2, 2013. Of the Poet spoke with Tuned In, Turned Up about their new EP, musical influences, and their goals for the future.

How would you describe your sound?

K: Americana/Homegrown/Sing It To The Skies/Urban Country

This record is far from perfect, and I’m glad it came out that way. We recorded it in 2 days at Earth Analog studio right outside Champaign, IL with my cousin Kyle Prillaman who not only engineered and mixed the whole thing, but played drums on it for us as well. The whole experience was surreal and quick and dirty and I think we all thrived on that energy and I’m really proud of what we accomplished.

J: Couldn’t have said it better myself

D: Kyle’s got it. Thanks, Kyle.

Who are some of the artists or musicians that have inspired both your overall sound and each of you as songwriters?

K: Neil Young, John Mayer, The Black Keys, The Gaslight Anthem.. Dan introduced me to Butch Walker and I’ve been lost in his writing style ever since.. Bands like The Lone Bellow, Young the Giant, The Last Bison, and The Civil Wars have been on repeat lately..

J: I think we can all agree that The Lone Bellow has been a big inspiration for us. They’re a three piece with chilling harmonies and insanely poetic lyrics. We listen to them as a group to get inspired. I recently started writing. I’ve always had a great connection to Bob Dylan’s early folk stage writing style and experimented in that sort of “walking blues” format.

D: I’ve always been inspired by and loved the Blues. Whether it’s old electric Buddy Guy type blues, Chuck Berry type blues rock, or newer stuff like Alabama Shakes and The Black Keys, I can’t get enough of it. Angus Young, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jack White too.. But I also came from a punk rock background so I still love heavy, fast, simple chord progressions. More recently, though, I’ve had on The Lone Bellow, Young the Giant, Dustin Kensrue, Johnny Cash, The Lumineers…

What are you guys most excited about with the release of your first EP, “Standby”?

K: Knowing so many of our friends and family are in our corner and rooting us on is super humbling and we’re really excited about playing for them. The response we’ve gotten already from this record is incredible and it’s been really fun seeing so many different people coming together and supporting us.

J: I’m most excited about our friends and family being able to hear what we’ve been working on for six months now! We’re ready to get out there and start playing shows. I think we have such a great connection and energy when the three of us are together, live.

D: To get back on stage! Before Kyle and I met, we had been in various bands playing shows since High School and when we got together a few years ago we both agreed we missed performing live. Now that we’ve written a handful of songs we’re proud of, we can get back to it. That, and just finally being able to get some new music out into the world for people to hear.

How did the three of you meet and what made you decide to form a band?

K: I owe a lot of this to a friend of ours named Eric Farias aka “This Guy”. I transferred to Columbia College in 2009 and sat next to Eric in my intro to typography class. Turns out, the guy sitting next to him was Dan. We all got to talking, and Eric, pointing to Dan goes, “Hey! You play guitar? This guy (pointing to me) can sing! You guys should play music together.” 4 years and a Jordyn later, here we are 🙂

J: Dan and I work together. One day he popped his head into my cubical and said: “hey you play guitar, right? Do you sing?” After that, I went and jammed with the two of them. They taught me the songs they had been working on and it sort of became a routine for us. I honestly feel so lucky to have fallen into this. They’re both so talented- it’s really awesome when we all get in a room together and start collaborating.

D: Haha! Eric. Funny kid. Yeah, I think we just all have a passion for creating some beautiful music.

If you could each select one artist or musician to collaborate with (dead or alive), whom would you choose, and why?

K: I would love to work with Jack White.. He’s incredibly driven.. The man simply handles his business and pays no mind to anything else. He’s motivated by positivity and I admire that incredibly.

J: I think I’d have to say Neil Young. His music has so much depth and range. What an amazing experience that would be.

D: Butch Walker. He’s an unbelievably talented artist and producer …and I’m a sucker for a good hook. I’ve been into his music for years, but saw him live recently for the first time and it was one of the best shows i’ve seen to this day. I love his energy. And he just seems like a cool ass dude to hang out with.

Aside from music, what is each of your favorite pastime activities?

K: I’m a graphic designer by trade, but I’m a huge nerd for hockey and baseball. The Hawks and the St. Louis Cardinals, respectively.

J: Professionally, I am an interior designer and enjoy all forms of art. I also really love doing yoga.

D: I’m also a graphic designer and love what I do, but if I’m not working or playing music, I love throwing on a movie, getting comfortable in a big blanket and eating a big ass root beer float.

What are some goals you have for your music that you’d like to achieve over the next few years?

K: We’ve built up a homegrown base we’re extremely thankful for.. we’ve just got to keep at it, keep writing, keep building the momentum, and remaining focused on the music above all else.

J: My biggest goal for us right now is to get out there and perform live as much as possible. Further down the road I would love for us to be able to put out a full length album.

D: Over the next few years I just want us to keep playing and writing new music. Recording a full length eventually would be great but I want to let this thing grow and see what happens next!


Listen to the entire “Standby” EP:


Of the Poet’s EP, “Standby” can be downloaded on their website.

Additional Of the Poet music and information can be found at:

Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | InstagramVimeo

And The Kids

And The Kids are a trio of three singer-songwriters from Northampton, MA, Hannah Mohan, Rebecca Lasaponaro, and Megan Miller. Their music is an incredible blend of harmonization, electric ukulele, synth, glockenspiel, and an indie vocalization layered over a rock beat that will catch your attention immediately. They hope “to inspire the hearts of all living beings of light and laughter one stage or sidewalk at a time.”

Tuned In, Turned Up spoke with And The Kids about their unique style, the meaning behind their band name, and when we can expect to hear their new EP.

How would you describe your sound?

In the words of one of our fans, our sound is “So glitter. So popsicle. So crisis.” This is a play on our official Facebook genre, which is unconscious, accessible, existential, indie, folk, rock, glitter, popsicle, crisis. (Megan)

Is there any specific meaning behind the name, “And The Kids”?

We used to call one of our friends mama and she would pretend to be our mother and we were the kids. (Hannah)

How did you guys meet, and what made you decide to form a band?

Rebecca and I met in middle school and have always kind of been a band. We met Megan at the Institute for the Musical Arts (Goshen, MA) recording program and we knew right away that she should be in the band because she is so glitter, so popsicle, so crisis. (Hannah)

How has living together affected the growth of your music?

We’ve been living in extremely close quarters for the past year and we’re not sure how it’s affected the music, but it’s affected the business because we wake up and think about each other. (Hannah)

If you could each choose one artist or band (dead or alive) to see live, who would you choose?

Violent Femmes (Hannah), Wolf Parade (Megan), Led Zeppelin (Rebecca)

What are some goals the band has for the future, and when can we expect to hear new And The Kids music?

We are working on building a regional fan base by playing once a month in cities within 300 miles of Northampton. We’re also working on our next EP, which we hope to release in the fall. It’s a recording of all of the music we currently play, so if you have only heard our first EP, you can hear the new music this summer by seeing one of our shows! We are opening for Rubblebucket at the Green River festival kickoff party on July 19th at Shea Theater in Turners Falls, and we are headlining the Iron Horse on September 14th. (Megan)


Listen to and download the entire Nothing Came First EP:


Additional And The Kids music and information can be found at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Nicole Vaughn

Nicole Vaughn is a singer-songwriter from Southern California. Her rock-like intensity paired with her sincere, soulful lyrics have given folk music a whole new meaning. Nicole’s most recent album, “Say It” was produced by Kelly Winrich (Delta Spirit) and Todd Hannigan. The album received a Best Folk nomination from OC Music Awards. Nicole Vaughn spoke with Tuned In, Turned Up about her upcoming album, her favorite artists, and her goals for the future.

Who or what attracted you to songwriting and helped to influence your sound?

I originally started writing some pretty bad poetry around 11 and would try to write little melodies and songs too them. Eventually, at 13 I started to learn how to play the guitar and just put the three together. Although my influences have definitely changed, I loved Jewel when I was in middle school so I think that had a lot to do with it too. I loved her album “Spirit”.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as an artist? 

Honestly, there are a lot of hard things that come with being an artist. In a way, I’m on working trying to desensitize myself to people’s praise or criticism. It can get dangerous if you listen to both of those too often. Just trying to do what I do and be confident in that.

If you could collaborate with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?

Tough question here. I think I’d really like to collaborate with the band Vetiver. I just love the spirit of that band. Really groovy, mellow vibes that come in shades of serious songwriting as well as toe-tapping danceable songs. They’ve got a great balance. I’d love to write some tunes with them.

What are some of your favorite artists or bands at the moment?

Mason Jennings always. I love the new Emmylou Harris album “Hard Bargain”. The National, Vetiver, Tall Tales and the Silver Lining, Sharon Van Etten, Emiliana Torrini. Those are some artists that I’ve been listening to a lot of as of late.

If you could go back in time and attend one concert of any artist in history, which would you choose?

That list is endless! But…I would have loved to have seen Johnny Cash and June Carter sing together. It would have just been crazy to watch them up there and feel the energy that the crowd was feeling at the time.

What can we expect from your next album and when will we get to hear it?

It’s going to be quite different from “Say it”. It’s a two part album called “Songs for Leaving, Songs for Other Things” that I’m recording with my buddy Jon O’Brien. The first half will be more blue grass/folk based featuring my friends Moonsville Collective and the second will be more electric. We’re in the midst of recording right now so I’m hoping to have it out by late June.

Do you have a long-term goal for your music, or dream as an artist?

I’d really just love to be able to do it as a living. I’d love to tour, do festivals, play shows abroad, have a decently packed room each night, and put out albums every couple of years with songs that I believe in. I want to play with soulful, respected, and kind musicians. We’ll see what the future holds. No matter how it turns out I’ll be fine cuz’ I’ll never stop playing and creating.


Listen to the entire “Say It” album:


Nicole Vaughn’s album “Say It” can be purchased on CD Baby or iTunes.

Additional Nicole Vaughn music and information can be found at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Soundcloud

Brother Dege (aka Dege Legg)

Brother Dege (aka Dege Legg) is a songwriter from Louisiana whose music was recently featured in Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, “Django Unchained”. Dege spoke with Tuned In, Turned Up about what it’s been like having his music in the film, his musical inspirations, and what to expect from his new album.

You recently released a song on Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained Soundtrack. Has that opened up any new opportunities for you and your music?

It has given me the opportunity to keep making music, and for more people to hear it. Other than that, I have no idea where any of this will lead. I’ve been flying under the radar for so damn long – not giving a fuck – that all of this is kind of weird. But cool. It’s like getting knighted by the art pope.

What musicians have inspired your sound or influenced you as an artist?

Black Sabbath, Sonic Youth, Blind Willie Johnson.

How would you describe your sound, and how has it developed since you first begun your career as a musician?

I call it Psyouthern rock. It sounds almost the same now as it did years ago. I just play the sounds of the people, vibe, and things around me. In this case, it’s the blast furnace of the Deep South. It’s like southern rock for the new millennium. There’s no rules. Less beer fests, and more mushroom vision quests.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as an artist and songwriter?

Just trying to figure out how to pay for it and continue doing it without exhausting all the good graces of your family and friends. Because, trust me, they all think we’re crazy. It’s hard to pay the bills with pats on the back.

Are you working on any new music, and if so, when can we expect to hear it?

How to Kill a Horse is the new album coming in 2013. It’s already in the can. Done and mastered. Recorded by myself on a chump change budget in an empty warehouse. It’s the next evolution. I’m shopping the album around to labels. See what happens. See if they have any soul left. If any good labels are interested, hit me. What happens when you take four slide guitars and play them all in reverse…with a gang of tribal drumming underneath? Answer: my next album. It will blow your mind and then break your heart.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received throughout your music career?

Same advice I got from the guy who trained me how to drive a cab when I worked the night shift for four years: always go with your gut. If it feels right, it is right.

Are there any artists or bands you’d like to collaborate with?

Yukio Mishima, but he’s dead.

What are some goals you have for your music in 2013?

Help people heal. Purge fear from their lives. Fire up the love and connection.

“Too Old To Die Young” – Brother Dege


Brother Dege’s album, Folk Songs of the American Longhair can be purchased on iTunes.

The Django Unchained Soundtrack, featuring Brother Dege, can be purchased on Amazon or iTunes.


Additional Brother Dege music and information can be found at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Automagic EP - Biiko

Brett Cooper, aka Biiko, is an experimental indie-pop artist from Chicago, Illinois who fuses live instrumentation and electronic manipulation with a steady pop beat. His new EP, Automagic is out TODAY, and features Shawn Rosenblatt of Netherfriends. Biiko spoke with Tuned In, Turned Up about his new EP, as well as inspirations, influences, and goals for the future.

How would you describe your sound?

This EP was a lot of fun to make, a lot of which came from trying to carve out my own electronic themed niche. It leans toward pop pretty heavily, and I did a few more vocal stacks than I have in previous releases with my previous project. I’m not particularly sure what genre to place it in myself, but me and a couple friends have used the term “hypnophonic.” The EP is a lot of dreamy synths underscored by a sort of alternatively light and heavy feeling with the beats and percussion. There’s a lot of things going on in some songs, but I think it’s place is pretty well balanced between accessible and offbeat.

What was the inspiration for your recently released EP?

Well, I’ve recently started to play shows, and unfortunately didn’t have a full band. My friend Chris Gourlay has been joining me on drums and he’s excellent to work with, but before he was involved I was figuring out how I’d still play a show. Everything I’ve released has been done by myself, but I had to approach it from the aspect of something that would go over well when done in person. The recording and editing softwares I’ve been using have afforded me a lot of creative tools and they definitely influenced the instruments I was selecting and how I was forming them among the arrangements. Lyrically, I’ve pulled things I wrote years ago and stitched them together with things I’ve written in the past 5 months or so. The songs are mostly about relationships, though not necessarily romantic ones; more just stories of human interaction in a one-on-one basis. The exception to this was First Breath, which fellow Chicago musician Shawn Rosenblatt (of Netherfriends) sang on for me. I gave him the instrumental and he wrote out his part while we were at the studio. We had it recorded in under three hours, and in that time I was basing my melodies and lyrical inspiration off what he was doing, and I was very pleased with the result.

Which other bands or artists have helped to develop and influence your music?

I’d have to say Nickelback. I really respect the way they push the boundaries of music. Additionally, my anatomy teacher in high school had a CD he’d play during the holidays composed entirely of songs featuring pitch shifted cats meowing Christmas classics. That was pretty cool too. I think it was named “Meowry Christmas” for anyone interested.

How did you get started as a musician, and when did you realize that creating music was something you wanted to do?

My parents forced me into piano lessons around the time I was 8. It was always just a hobby for me during for the first few years, but I found myself enjoying it more as I started to develop. I started recording music in my parent’s home when I was 17, which was about four and a half years ago. Those initial songs were quite poorly recorded and the singing was uncomfortable, but I was finally doing something with the lessons I had taken. I even seemed to be having a good time doing it. Like the piano lessons, recording was just a hobby, but then I transferred schools in 2009 to come to Chicago and major in recording engineering. I love putting songs together and the feeling one gets after finishing, being able to sit back and look at all the different waveforms going on, and listening back to the finished project. I’d been focusing on studying and graduating for a longtime, but one day, about a year ago, I got in touch with a friend who was looking for an artist to manage. He’s helped push me and Biiko along with deadlines and ideas for what I’m trying to have Biiko be.

What are some goals you have for yourself as an artist, and for your music?

I told myself in 2010 that I wanted to have at least one album a year, but I didn’t have anything for 2012 completely ready. Automagic is the first release as Biiko, and I plan to follow it up around March with a guitar and beat themed album (tentatively named Milky Eyed), so at least I’ll be catching up. There’s plans to release a mixtape featuring whatever 20 tracks I’m choosing from the 35ish started projects I have in the works, and I’m hoping to get a lot of contributions from friends and other Chicago bands. It’ll feature a grab-bag of genres and will serve as more a collection of vignettes than a full, themed album. I like the starting point of Automagic for my catalog, but there’s so many other sounds I want to try and feelings I want to evoke.


Listen to the entire Automagic EP:


Biiko’s Automagic EP can be purchased on Bandcamp.

Additional Biiko music and information can be found at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Moments EP

Jerome Alexander is an English composer and multi-instrumentalist from England. Touring under his musical moniker, Message to Bears, Jerome has shared the stage with artists such as Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds. Jerome Alexander spoke with Tuned In, Turned Up about his recently released Moments EP, bands he’d like to collaborate with in the future, and his New Year Resolutions.

This past weekend you released your latest EP, Moments. What was the inspiration for this record?

To break away slightly from the usual music I make. I felt a bit limited musically by association of the previous output and wanted to have a bit more fun by making something with a different workflow and influenced of more electronic music that I’ve always loved but felt maybe wasn’t appropriate under the Message To Bears moniker. For me it was a bit of an experimentation, though maybe not musically, but creatively.

How does your recently released EP vary from your previous records?

It is certainly more beat-based, with a more contemporary edge. There is more sample manipulation especially vocally and it is more synth heavy. It’s less ambient and in turn I think it is also less introspective and personal, it’s more open to the world and has a different intention personally for me.

What made you decide to release the Moments EP under your real name, as opposed to the musical alias you’ve used on previous releases, Message to Bears?

I wanted to separate the monikers because of the previously outlined musical differences, I thought they might cater to different tastes and thus didn’t want the two projects confused as one. It’s nothing to do with my initials representing ‘me’ more as one might interpret, in fact Message To Bears is probably much more ‘me’ if one was to even talk in those terms. Someone’s birth name is as much a persona as their musical alias.

Working as a one-man-band, are there any limitations you face in songwriting or challenges that you’ve had to overcome?

I guess opinions from others aren’t as readily available during the writing process when working alone, though I do let friends and family hear demos and take onboard any criticisms or opinions. Though at the end of the day I primarily make music for myself, it’s a very personal process and having other people like it is an amazing added bonus. There are challenges of performing live also, I have an amazing band of friends who help me create live interpretations of the songs though it is sometimes difficult as I don’t really compose with the intention of performing. It can be a tough process depending on the song.

Are there any artists or bands you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

It would be easy to name a handful of artists in a similar style to me or who have been influential to me but I think it would be more exciting to work with someone from a different spectrum, more electronic but still hugely emotional music. Perhaps Mount Kimbie, Flying Lotus or Four Tet.

Is there any advice you’ve been given that has helped you in the music industry?

Get contracts written up for everything ever.

Do you have any New Year Resolutions for your music, or goals you’d like to accomplish in 2013?

I’m going to try and be more confident in my own music. I am also hoping to finish a new Message To Bears album and complete some exciting collaborations in 2013, both of which are already in progress. I basically just want to be able to keep making music and for people to continue appreciating it, that’s a goal to accomplish.


Listen to the entire Moments EP:


J.R. Alexander’s Moments EP can be purchased on Bandcamp or iTunes.

Additional J.R. Alexander and Message to Bears music and information can be found at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Heyward Howkins

Heyward Howkins is a singer-songwriter from Philadelphia. Previously a member of The Trouble With Sweeney and The Silver Ages, Heyward has opened for My Morning Jacket, OK Go, and has twice landed on’s Editor’s Top Picks of the Year. Heyward spoke with Tuned In, Turned Up about his debut LP as well as his goals for the future.

How would you describe your sound?

I don’t really make a conscious effort towards obtaining any particular sound. I think for me everything starts with the vocal melody and I build around that. I guess you could say the sound is a cross between British Folk and Indie Rock.

 How long have you been songwriting, and how did you discover that it was something you wanted to do?

I wrote a bunch of songs when I was 21 and recorded all the parts myself to a four-track cassette deck. Some of them were almost listenable. I think then I didn’t know how to sing without imitating artists I liked. After that I sort of forgot about songwriting till I started playing guitar in The Trouble with Sweeney. I contributed some of the music to that band. One big catalyst was when I started singing in The Silver Ages in 2006. I found my natural singing voice and built some vocal confidence. Following that I started to feel less self conscious about singing and I just kind of went for it and wrote and sang however felt natural to me.

 What was the inspiration for your recently released debut album, “The Hale & Hearty”?

I hadn’t ever planned on making a record but I was laid off from my job as a Geologist and coincidently met Chet Delcampo and start playing in his band, Hong Kong Stingwray. Chet just happened to be a great producer with a fantastic home studio. He was also very encouraging about the seeds of songs I showed him early on. We sort of made the album on a whim and collaborated together. I wrote most of the songs while we were recording the first ones I had.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced throughout your music career?

The age-old problem that artists face. I have to find a way to make the best music possible, with the best people, with basically no income from music. Not easy to do.

What are some goals you’d like to accomplish as a songwriter and musician in the future?

I think I would be happy if I was able to play a few shows with a national band to gain some real exposure. I am really proud of my work and I just hope a large number of people get to hear it. Selling a few records wouldn’t be bad either.

“Hale & Hearty” – Heyward Howkins

“Thunderin’ Stop” – Heyward Howkins


Heyward Howkins’ debut LP, The Hale & Hearty, can be purchased on Bandcamp, Amazon, CD Baby, or iTunes.

You can also check out Heyward’s new single, “Praline Country”, now available on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.


Additional Heyward Howkins music and information can be found at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | Bandcamp