WYO’s “Untamed” Album is About Love, Loss, and Exploration

Indie-rock phenomena WYO released an awe-inspiring music video for the song “Down by the River” off his album “Untamed” coming out on Oct. 20. Check out the video here:

WYO is a rock band originating from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The video was shot in the band’s hometown and features the epic mountainsides and landscapes that inspired the forthcoming record, “Untamed.” The full-length album is a search for a place that’s alive and wild. It’s a record that deals with love, loss, and constant exploration. It’s a tale of reconciling city life with the Wild West of Wyoming.

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What separates WYO from the rest is singer-songwriter, Andy Sorge’s unique, creative vision.  After attending film school in New York, Andy met multi-instrumentalist, Scott McKay Gibson, and the two began composing music for documentaries, commercials, and short films together in Wyoming. Perhaps this explains the reason that WYO’s music has a way of evoking such striking visuals that stir the imagination, as they utilize an organic instrument palette to create the soundscape that is WYO.

To stay up to date with WYO, check them out at YouTube, and Instagram.

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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.

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.

Kathryn Claire – Solo Artist Interview

Singer-songwriter Kathryn Claire released her fourth full-length, 10-track album “Bones Will Last…” that is a listening experience filled with both classical and folk influences. ETV spoke with Kathryn about the making of her half-vocal and half-instrumental album, the story behind her music video for “The Fugue,” and she offered advice for other musicians who are also interested in learning to play the violin.

Kathryn is based in Portland, Oregon, and has created a unique style of music that combines her skills as a violinist, guitarist, and singer-songwriter to deliver fresh chamber and folk experience. Growing up, Kathryn listened to a lot of Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell who helped shaped her style, and she was also a big fan of classical violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg who astounded her with energy and vitality with the violin on stage.

Her new album “Bones Will Last” contains five instrumentals and five vocal tracks, providing the best of her talents for everyone to enjoy. She worked on the record for more than two years, trying to find a cohesive sound between instrumentals and lyrical songs that proved to be problematic. Ultimately, it was the violin’s strings in each song that tied everything together.

“Initially there were going to be a lot more songs and not as many instrumentals,” Kathryn said. “Over time I realized that I actually had two albums on my hands. ‘Bones Will Last’ and another more lyrical driven, electric album ‘Eastern Bound for Glory.’ It was a process to realize that I couldn’t put everything on one album. Once I realized that, I was able to listen more skillfully to myself and to what ‘Bones Will Last’ was becoming. I realized that I wanted to place the violin at the center of the album and strip away all percussion or harmony vocals or really anything that I felt detracted from the violin compositions and my voice on the album. It was such a cool process and an exercise in trusting myself as an artist and having faith in what was wanting to come out musically. Technically speaking, my favorite aspect was tracking the multiple violin parts. I love doing that and having the ability to harmonize with myself and build entire string sections. It is amazing!”

Kathryn has played violin on many albums and with many performers, and along the way she has learned how to listen. For this album, she captured what was in her head with the violin and found the melodic and lyrical lines she kept hearing. Once she came up with the compositions she wanted, she worked with Portland musicians Zak Borden (mandolin), Allen Hunter (upright bass), and Don Henson (piano) who all brought their own style to create the album she wanted to create. She has even performed and toured extensively with all three artists.

The theme of the album is about mortality, loss, love and transformation. Kathryn admits to thinking about death often, but more often to ponder rather than thinking from a place of preoccupation. The title of the album “Bones Will Last” refers to what people leave behind when they die in the literal sense, but in the figurative sense the bones represent personality and the other essential things that live on after death.

“I like the idea that at the core each of us have this essence, and as an artist, there is a core voice or aesthetic,” Kathryn said. “I sought the “bones” of my creative being through the creation of this album. I wondered how I would feel if this was my last album, if this was the last musical thing I left behind. I needed to make sure that I said and expressed everything I wanted.”

Kathryn is not sure if her future albums will also be a split between instrumental and vocal tracks. “Bones Will Last” was an experiment and she believes it worked out for the best on this album. Kathryn is already at work on her follow-up titled “Eastern Bound for Glory,” which is a collection of songs she wrote on electric guitar with her current band that features drums, bass, and strings.

“‘Bones Will Last’ is a very special album to me and I feel it stands on its own in my musical catalogue,” Kathryn said. “I could see myself doing more instrumental composition for sure. I loved creating the instrumentals. It really opened a part of me that I would like to explore more. So, the violin and strings will always be a part of my musical voice, I think.”

Several of the tracks on the album received the music video treatment. “The Forest Flower Will Set” is a traditional song that features Kathryn walking into a barbershop and was shot in Tournai, Belgium, by T. Raznor at Christiane’s salon. The spontaneity captured on film is in tune with the liveliness of the song and it’s a nice representation of ok Kathryn’s spirit. Another song on the album with a video was “The Fugue,” a very whimsical-driven song with visuals to match. It was the first official music video for Kathryn and was directed by Martin Vavra of Galaxy Sailor Productions shot in Cannon Beach, Oregon.

“Because ‘The Fugue’ is an instrumental composition, we didn’t have to contend with lyrics that we were trying to somehow represent in the video,” Kathryn said. “That was so liberating. I worked with film-maker, Martin Vavra on the project and he contributed a lot to the vision of the video. The initial idea came from an image I had carried in my head for a number of years. It was a woman on the beach with her hair tied up in drift wood and staked in the sand with shells and feathers all around. A couple friends helped me to make that image a reality and we took a bunch of pictures and documented the process. It was beautiful. When Martin saw that image, he said, ‘That should be a video’ and we took it from there. For me personally, I feel the elements of death, rebirth, transformation, the passing of time, and longing are all elements of the video. The thing I love the most is that everyone has their own interpretation of the images and the video. I love that it is open for people to respond to in their own way.”

Most recently, the title track of “Bones Will Last” received a video of its own that was shot in Director Park in downtown Portland, Oregon on March 8. It was also directed by Vavra and filmed by Phil Anderson and captures the heart of this song and album with a public performance piece.

Overall, for anyone looking to listen to a singer-songwriter with an emphasis in violin playing, look no further than Kathryn Claire. She is clearly one with the violin, and she hopes others will pick up on the instrument. She offered advice for those up and coming musicians who want to take up the violin for themselves.

“I would say, ‘Don’t give up!’” Kathryn said. “The violin is such a beautiful instrument and truly a joy to play. But it takes a lot of practice and perseverance, especially right at the beginning. It is difficult to get a rich tone in the beginning, so the sound can be a bit challenging right at first. Like anything else you might be starting for the first time, I would say, start slow, practice frequently but for short amounts of time, and really fall in love with long notes and playing the open strings. I think making a beautiful sound and loving the voice of the violin is essential before you begin to be able to play anything complex or flashy.”

To stay up to date with Kathryn Claire, be sure to check her out on Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, and her official site.

Rival Shapes – New EP Release

Four-piece Tucson-natives Rival Shapes recently released its new moody EP “Pull.” Check out the tranquil opening track “Evaporate” here:

This year’s “Pull” EP is a follow up to their last year’s debut EP “Push.” It features slower songs full of introspection that explore the darkest depths of human emotions. The band stated the EP is about “seeking, attainment, preservation, and loss of love” perfect for rainy days or getting through a tough breakup. Although the songs are sad in nature, they do provide the warmth needed to cope with difficult situations in life. The singing and instrumentation compliment Rival Shapes’ ability to craft songs that allow listeners to love themselves with uplifting lyrics for dark times. This is the EP to pick up to get into the band while the flames flicker in the background.

The band formed in late 2014 when singer-songwriter Fred Baker met guitarist-songwriter Frank Dillon in a local watering hole in Tucson, AZ. They began writing in 2015 and after coming up with a bunch of songs, they enlisted drummer Ryan Janac who learned the songs and laid the foundation in early 2016. They added bassist Brock Lange and together they have created an unmistakable haunting and shadowy sound straight from the heart of Tucson.

Rival Shapes

Photo via Rival Shapes

To stay up to date with all things Rival Shapes, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, YouTube and their official site.