Danny Baxley – Solo Artist Interview

Danny Baxley has released his latest EP “Love Sex Alcohol” on July 24. Today, Danny spoke with ETV about how music served as a means for escape, the themes of the EP, and advice for other musicians going through tough emotional times. Check out the title track here:

Growing up in Dallas, Danny always had an interest in music. At age 12, he picked up a guitar for the first time and three years later, found himself writing original songs. He was raised in a broken home filled with violence and abuse, and music served as a therapeutic release to get away from it all.

“I believe when I was young I sought after anything as a means for escape, unconsciously of course,” Danny said. “I couldn’t see it at the time because I was right in the middle of it, but my level of stress was slowly killing me internally. I felt lost, confused, scared, and always on edge without knowing of anyway to release the pent-up emotions and energy I had over the years under my family’s roof. Those feelings were what I first wrote about. Expressing my confusion and feeling distant from the outside world were major themes in my first endeavors with writing. Then, of course, the sappy love songs followed in high school from the various girls who I thought were ‘the one’ began to fill my early catalog.”

After college, Danny found himself turning away from music to do jobs that were unfulfilling, which eventually led to emotional and mental breakdown. Hitting rock bottom, Danny attempted suicide and was taken to a hospital.

“After my breakdown and suicide attempt, I landed in a hospital for quite some time,” Danny said. “The transition back to music was as organic as could be. It was as if I rediscovered my best friend whom I hadn’t seen it years and we hit it off like the old times and became inseparable again. Comically, when I began playing again after years of it being absent, I couldn’t remember even my own songs, let alone any covers with the exception of Weezer’s ‘Say It Ain’t So.’ So, I didn’t really have a choice but to fiddle around and put together new songs. I even wrote something while there, and performed it for all the other patients and staff at the hospital, my first time performing in years.”

After this experience, music returned to Danny and became a major part of his life again. He started writing songs with lyrics straight from the heart coming out. He was once again was on the path to living the life of a musician. When he got back into recording, he created and released his EP titled “Identity.”

“Love Sex Alcohol” is the follow up to “Identity” and it’s about self-expression. The EP was originally planned to be a full LP divided into the three portions of the EP title.

“Those themes are still present in the EP just not as prominent as they were,” Danny said. “‘Love Sex Alcohol’ can also be seen as ‘Good Mediocre Bad.’ I really wanted to express my feelings towards the greats in life, the tolerable, and the bad times, which have been constant themes in my life and I’m confident in most others as well.”

The EP was put together in Danny’s studio in his home. His arsenal of equipment included an iMac, two JBL monitors, Native Instruments Maschine, Maschine Jam, Komplete Kontrol Midi Keyboard, a Gibson Les Paul and an Orange MicroTerror amp all put together with Logic Pro X.

“Nearly every day I’m either working on something new, or attempting to complete a project I had already started on,” Danny said. “So, writing the music and lyrics didn’t pose any trouble for me. I read about Stephen King once that he spent X amount a time everyday writing, I’ve used the same strategy so new material is always being created in the Baxley household. When I’m not writing, I’m typically practicing.”

The resulting EP a collection of guitars and poetic lyrics with a darker side that explores different genres in new, creative ways. The EP features electronic glitch sounds and distorted vocals, and mixes heavy rock and dance together. Danny worked with the instruments he had and utilize them to create the songs he saw in his head.

“I didn’t want to fit into a singular box, nor did I want to follow the same model that’s been going on for years,” Danny said. “The EP is a work of trial and error. A journey in creating something new and that no one ever thought of doing before.”

Danny said he originally started as a singer-songwriter but couldn’t help wanting to do more with his sound. He wanted to keep pushing himself to make a new sound with endless possibilities without boundaries. This has led to “Love Sex Alcohol,” the culmination of creating his own sound that goes against common conventions to how most songwriters go about writing songs. The outcome will be appreciated by those looking for something that is experimental, unexpected, and coming from a place of healing.

As far as future the near future, Danny’s plans revolve around playing more shows and getting his name known.

“Playing live right and developing a presence onstage is my current goal,” Danny said. “I have a show booked at The Well in Brooklyn NY on the 30th of August that I’m excited for. I plan to release more music, build a bigger fanbase, and to ideally not piss off my wife for devoting so much time to the work involved in being a musician these days. I love her to death though, and she is very supportive.”

Danny has gone through a lot but his journey has led to him a position where he can use his experience to help others. He has this to say to others going through emotional times:

“You’ll hear ‘no’ a million times, get to use to it. Keep fighting through until you get the ‘yes’ you’re searching for.”

To stay up to date with all things relating to Danny Baxley, check him out on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, YouTube, iTunes, and his official site.

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NINA – New EP Release

London-based Nina has released her latest EP “One of Us” on Aug. 11 and it’s a synthpop and synthwave love affair. Check out the title track here:

The opening synthesizers in “One of Us” evoke outer-space emotions with Nina’s voice adding narrative to the worldly experience. When the beat drops, the song sounds straight ripped from a classic 80s film but still fresh, new and invigorating at the same time. The new wave roots wrapped in modern sensibilities clearly show the German-native’s early influences of Depeche Mode.

The second track, “Counting Stars,” also begins quite ominous in a synth-laden landscape. The darker and slower-tempo track offers the chance to get lost in the music and allows the listener to feel the nighttime stars surrounding them. The production on both of these songs are top-notch, thanks to producer Oscillian and mixing work by Grammy-Award winner Liam Nolan.

The rest of the EP remixes the two songs wonderfully. SJBRAVO’s remix of “One of Us” is a groovy disco style song made to get people on the dancefloor. It’s an interesting take and is different enough to feel like a new song entirely. Johnny Royal’s remix has faster-sounding beats with an underlying synth melody that adds a futuristic feel. Angger Dimas’ remix is full of suspense with dub-steps influences that completely take the song in a new direction. It is easily and by the far the most experimental track on the album. Lastly, Douglas Holmquist’s remix of “Counting Stars” is a soothing version that perfectly closes the EP as it relaxes you to the end. Overall, the songs and remixes on this album are great for anyone looking to relive the sounds of synthpop and synthwave from a new talent.

To stay up to date with Nina, check her out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, iTunes, and her official site.

Lola – Solo Artist Interview

St. Louis-native singer-songwriter Lola Toben has been releasing singles from her EP titled “Extended Play” once a month since May for everyone to enjoy. Today, Lola spoke with ETV about her earliest musical influences, the challenges with music she has had and what cities she would like to perform in the near future. Check out her song “Way to Your Heart” here:

Lola said she got into music at an early age and has a wide variety of musical influences that has inspired her writing style.

“I have loved music since I popped into this world,” Lola said. “My parents were both music lovers, so there was always music playing around the house. My earliest influences were Elton John, Billy Joel, Carole King, Joe Cocker and The Beatles. I would always sing along and make up dance routines. I feel like my writing style has a lot of that 70s vibe because of those early influences. I also adored Disney music, you know like Little Mermaid, Lion King, and Pocahontas.”

Lola’s latest project is an EP titled “Extended Play,” where she has been releasing a single at a time from it since May. She worked with Topher Mohr and Alex Elena, two Grammy-nominated producers in Los Angeles.

“They were fabulous,” Lola said. “The type of music is soul/pop/singer-songwriter. There are some retro vibes for sure. I think it is a great introduction to my music. The lyrical themes mostly revolve around love: looking for love, trying to hold onto love, forgiveness, breaking down walls in relationships, and overcoming obstacles.  My second single, ‘Feeling Fine,’ I wrote after graduating college. That one is more about transitioning into a new life, letting go of the past, and stepping out into the world as an individual.”

Lola said the most gratifying thing for her about music was performing and sharing music with people, saying that being on stage melts all her stress away.

“The hours of learning, preparing, and rehearsing become worth it when you get to move people and touch their souls,” Lola said. “I feel like music has a way of reaching the deeper side of people and connecting them in ways nothing else can.”

However, making music doesn’t come without its challenges. Lola said the hardest part about making music was keeping her head up in the face of other’s criticisms.

“Not EVERYONE is going to like your voice, your style, or your songs,” Lola said. “You can’t be making music to get approval. It has to be because you believe in it. Whenever I start doubting myself, I remember that it is not about ME, it’s about the music. I think I have a message to share: one that is healing and unifying.”

In addition to making music as a solo artist, Lola makes music with her husband Bryan Toben. They started their project Bryan and Lola in 2014 where they perform a combination of acoustic original music, classic rock, and modern covers. Lola said they have performed at many wineries, bars and private events in St. Louis and that their folk-rock is low-key.

In 2016, Lola pursued her career as a solo artist where Bryan works as manager, booking agent, guitarist, and backup singer for the project. Lola serves as front woman, songwriter, arranger, pianist and singer performing songs of original soul, pop and R&B. Depending on the venue, Lola will either perform as solo artist or with her husband depending on the venue.

As far as performing live, Lola has a show coming up at The Mint on Sept. 9 and plans to continue performing locally in Los Angeles. She also has plans to perhaps play shows along the west coast.

“I’d like to get up north and do some shows in San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland,” Lola said. “I also plan on doing another big St. Louis show sometime next year. We just put on a huge concert celebrating the release of my EP in St. Louis (my hometown) with a full 8-piece band. It was amazing!”

Lola will continue to make mark in L.A. as the intricate songwriter with a booming voice. She can only continue to rise and we look forward to hearing what’s next in store for her. Lola said she has written a lot of new songs since moving to L.A. and she wants to try them out in the studio. We can’t wait to hear them!

Stay up to date with Lola at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Soundcloud, iTunes and her official site.

Ninkasi Brewing – News Story

Ninkasi Brewing is not your typical brewery. With a strong focus on building community and promoting local musical talent with an in-house studio, Ninkasi stands out as a premier location for both beer and music. Today, ETV spoke with Ninkasi brand and experiential marketing director, James Book, and Beer is Love program manager, Emilie Hartvig, about how music and donation programs help Ninkasi Brewing stand out from the rest of the pack. Check out an EP released from the Ninkasi Studios here:

 

NINKASI STUDIOS

Ninkasi Brewing was co-founded by Jamie Floyd and Nikos Ridge in 2006. Together they used their combination of business and brewing skills to push Ninkasi to become the fastest growing craft brewery in the United States. The brewery has expanded its operations over the years while keeping a focus on helping the community, whether through its donations program or by helping local musicians produce records with an inhouse recording studio.

James Book, Ninkasi brand and experiential marketing director with two decades of experience in the music industry, operates Ninkasi Studios and provides expertise to Ninkasi partnered artists at no charge. He said the idea for Ninkasi Brewing to include a proper studio happened organically since the brewery already supported local artists through music production, recording, album pressing sponsorships and assistance in tours and bookings.

“In the early days of the company our former CEO and I intended to build a studio and then Total Domination IPA exploded in popularity in the NW,” Book said. “As marketing director at that time, I continued to sponsor bands with production time and pressing etc. and they organically would spread the word about us on tour. Bars and their fans took interested in the story and we made new account partners and new customers as result.”

The music produced at Ninkasi Studios is a mix of local, regional, national, and international talent. Book said Ninkasi has close partnerships with various artists and they call them first when looking for bands or solo artists to appear at new beer launch party tours and other events.

“We work the most closely with bands from SoCal, Washington and Oregon, naturally, but we have enjoyed working with others from further away including the amazing Gayle Skidmore who now lives in The Netherlands,” Book said.

The equipment in the studio includes the essentials of what any proper recording studio should have, from mics, a collection of restored vintage and modern instruments, and amps with a digital audio workstation running Pro Tools. Book said they work primarily “in the box.”

“Plus, it’s inside a brewery so the artists tend to appreciate that detail. No beer for the drummer until the drum tracks are laid!” Book said.

The first original musical offering to come out of Ninkasi Studios was the “Dawn of the Red Compilation EP” released in September 2015. The collection included music from Vokab Kompany + Kraddy, Sapient, Black Beast Revival, and Tyler Fortier, among others. The artists chosen for this compilation were specifically chosen based on where they were from.

 

“For the ‘Dawn of the Red Compilation,’ which was a concept record, we intentionally chose bands of completely different ‘flavor’/genres from specific target cities in line with our local strategies in those areas and asked them each to write a song called ‘Dawn of The Red,’” Book said. “They obviously asked ‘What should it be about?’ but we told them to authentically interpret it themselves and just include the phrase ‘Dawn of The Red’ in their songs’ choruses as it related to their lyrical themes. The album came out great and we pressed vinyl that the bands could sell on tour and that we could use at account promotions such as bar event giveaways and so forth.”

Ninkasi Studios has made several compilations allowing the artist to write an original song based on the name or theme of the flavor. The latest was the “Pacific Rain Compilation” base off the Pacific Rain Northwest Pale, which is crafted with lava-filtered water from the McKenzie River Watershed. The compilation features up-and-coming and established artists from the region performing Bluegrass, Roots and Americana music.

 

“Pacific Rain was a NW-centric beer release focusing on our quality of life up here,” Book said. “Given that we were also sponsoring Northwest String Summit bluegrass festival in overlap to the commemorative ‘Pacific Rain Compilation,’ we opted to make an entirely string/acoustic album in commemoration of the beer’s release where many of the artists we featured on the album also performed at the festival.”

Ninkasi Studios’ work in recording and producing indie and established artists has allowed the area of Eugene to gain more recognition as a legitimate place where talented musical artists can go to record. In turn, these bands also spread the word about Ninkasi, making the relationship beneficial for both sides.

Book said Ninkasi does not sell their artist’s music but they do use it internally for content and video soundtracks that are produced and they also offer the music to their non-profit partners to use as soundtrack for their promotional videos. Overall, Ninkasi Brewing is aware of the powerful combination that is beer and music can have and using it to help propel local artists in an intriguing way.

BEER IS LOVE

Floyd and Ridge have always made it a point to make donations part of their brewing culture. After donating beer to the community here and there, Ninkasi set up a donation programs called Beer is Love that offers beer donations to registered non-profit organizations.

“While the main focus of Beer is Love is to donate beer to non-profits, we also integrate an employee volunteer program,” said Beer is Love program manager, Emilie Hartvig. “If an employee wants to volunteer for a local organization, we work with them to make it happen. If there is a volunteer opportunity during the work week, we ensure that they are still able to get paid for their job while taking a couple hours out of their day to give back to a cause they care about.”

The program has worked with many types of non-profits. It recently narrowed its focus on the “Beer is Love DNA,” supporting non-profits doing work in five core categories: women, equality, recreation, the environment, and arts and music. Some of the non-profits they have worked with include McKenzie River Trust, HIV Alliance, SOMArts, Team River Runner, and Women Who Code. Beer is Love has found success in donating in progressive non-profits and it plans to continue doing more events in the future.

“We are a part of all kinds of events,” Hartvig said. “In the next couple weeks, we are donating to a concert in the park, an art exhibit opening, a local beer festival, and a small private celebration. The donations for these events range anywhere from four and a half barrel kegs to two cases.”

For anyone interested in getting involved with Beer is Love, visit the donations website at Ninkasi. To learn more about all the incredible beer and music related news going on at Ninkasi Studios, check them out at Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, and their official site.

Sydney Lauren – Solo Artist Interview

Sydney Lauren has recently released a new EP titled “Left in Motion,” a five-track record that covers both happy and sad songs. Sydney spoke with ETV today about the making of her EP, the meaning behind her songs and her plans for touring. Check out the track “Haunt Me” here:

Sydney grew up in a town called Harrison outside a New York City, a place that no doubt left an impression on her.

“I was definitely influenced by New York, living so close to the city gave me opportunities that opened my eyes to different music, art and experiences,” Sydney said. “It has an energy to it that will always influence me, I love it!”

Sydney wrote all the songs on “Left in Motion” in about five months, with another five months to fully complete the recordings. Sydney’s lyrics and melody found a home with co-writer Tad Kubler from the band The Hold Steady, who wrote and produced the music. The result is a collection of pop tracks and introspective ballads that showcase Sydney’s distinct vocals and hard-hitting lyrics.

“I’m so happy to finally have the music out after sitting with it for so long, now people can hear what I was working so hard on!” Sydney said.

The making of the EP was both challenging and liberating, as creativity and concentration became the focus during the recording sessions.

“I like the creativity that is constantly happening during recording,” Sydney said. “You have all the tools to test out new ideas which is always really fun. I found the hardest part to be the final vocals. It can be hard to fully emote when you’re singing in a silent room by yourself. We weren’t going to stop until they were the best they could be!”

One listen of the EP will evoke a multitude of emotions for any listener. “Haunt Me” is a song about leaving the past behind and not letting it linger on to haunt the present. The universal appeal is enough to hook new listeners, but it’s the deep meaning that goes beyond the surface that will keep them coming back for more. Sydney spills her heart out on this track and although she can write a happy song, she said the sad ones come out much stronger.

“I always like to make sure there is a big message or lesson learned in a song,” Sydney said. “It should make a point!”

A song on the EP that is more on the political side is “Save Us,” inspired by the 2016 Orlando shooting. See the video here:

The lyrics are in reaction to the terror that many felt after the incident occurred and how love and compassion will always outweigh hate. Her lyric “One shot to the masses / Builds stronger passion” demonstrates the real-life response of how people came together to comfort those in pain. The depth in Sydney’s lyrical approach is her greatest talent and we look forward to what’s in store for her next release. In the foreseeable future, Sydney plans on touring to share her songs to a greater audience around the world.

“I am hoping touring will occur in the next 12 months!” Sydney said. “I love performing and want to share these songs with people every day!”

To stay up to date with all things Sydney Lauren, be sure to check her out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud and her official site.