Nikki Pope

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Nikki Pope is a pop star ready to roar. Her songs are catchy, and she serves them up with a voice ready for the radio. Fans of Amy Winehouse and Adelle will dig This British-Born New Yorker.  

Who are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

Fleetwood Mac - My dad got me on that train from a young age and most recently I've been really influenced by them and I'm learning a lot about their process as musicians. They made such incredibly great and monumental music.

What's most amazing is that we were allowed a front seat pass to share their journey through the good and the bad - the pain of Rumours and writing that album to me is most interesting. It showed just how professional they were that even though their personal lives were crumbling, they found ways of expressing it through music, making what I believe to be their best work. It's a valuable lesson to learn as an artist that you can find light in the darkest of places. 

 More modern times would move me in the direction of current artists like Dua Lipa and her powerful stance in the current climate of our industry. She is a female powerhouse who is making strong statements and I think this is the year of Dua Lipa.

What is your songwriting process like?

Fast. I'm quite impatient so teaming up with my amazing music producer, Austin Bello has been fantastic for me. Not only have I learnt a lot from him in regards to building songs from scratch but he gives me the confidence to speak my thoughts and helps me to put them in the context of the song itself.

I tend to write a lot about past experiences and me as a person so we build from the subject upwards. All three EP's (the third coming this Summer) were done in three weeks, one per week over the course of about 6 months probably. I would travel from New York to Virginia and we would spend the first day building the track and writing the lyrics. The second day would be about recording it and adding in the backing vocals before moving onto the next track on the third day and so on.

I think having done such a fast process right at the beginning it has really set me up well because when we are granted more time in a studio, we would only benefit more. If we can accomplish the music we have in the short time we have done it in then more time would only mean even better results. I've still got bucketloads to learn but I couldn't be happier and I'm so thankful for the experiences I have had so far in making my own music. I can't wait to get back in the studio to do more!

Where do you see your music career in three years?

I hope to get my music in front of bigger audiences in the coming years, exposing it to more people so that more can relate and spread the love! I'm trying to take my time in releasing music so that it's all done properly with enough of a build up to give it the best possible chance! Stay tuned!  

Dave Insley

Dave Insley writes and performs some of the best twang-driven country music around (If not the best). He will shake the legs of anyone who appreciates great tunes -- with the vocal charisma of Willie Nelson and George Jones, and a timeless sense of production and arrangement, in the style of Patsy Cline and The Flying Burrito Brothers. Dave Insley is a mammoth talent.

WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST MUSICAL INFLUENCES AT THE MOMENT?

I like that the question includes the phrase “at the moment,” because like many artists, my influences change frequently, even daily. Sometimes it’s the rhythm of the washing machine or the clank of the garbage truck, sometimes it’s Buck Owens or George Gershwin on the turntable, or it might even be the theme from whatever cartoon my kids are watching on the television.

I listen to, enjoy, and draw from all styles of music, and I particularly admire the writing of Harlan Howard, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer and Merle Haggard. One of my all-time biggest musical and lyrical influences was my father, who was not a songwriter, but who was very clever with words. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Buddy Rich and Tennessee Ernie Ford records, but if you ask me again in a few days, it will be something else.

WHAT IS YOUR SONGWRITING PROCESS LIKE?

My writing process is hardly unique, but (I hope) the results sometimes are. The words and music come in periodic cycles, sometimes with broad gaps of time between. My best ideas don’t really feel like they originate in me at all, but rather flow through me from somewhere else.

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My job is to be paying attention when this happens and dutifully record the proceedings; sometimes the ideas come crowding their way through my head so quickly that I have to hustle to keep up, and don’t have time to reflect on them until much later. The key which unlocks all of this might be some topic I’ve had on my mind for a while, or issue I’m struggling with, or it might simply be a chance encounter with a particular combination of words, or an unusual turn of a phrase.

Part two of the process comes later and is more deliberate and craftsman-like; parsing through the flow of words and melodic ideas to gather and organize those which fit together, in support of the idea, while maintaining a good deal of objectivity, and being a brutally honest editor. I can be very tough on myself during this phase, in the interest of avoiding self-indulgence; I will happily throw out more than I keep, or even the whole shooting match, as necessary.

The whole process is a little bit like someone dropped off a pile of lumber in my yard, and my job is to build a solid house out of it, one that is functional and will keep the rain out, and one whose overall style was suggested by the building material itself. I find the entire process immensely satisfying, regardless of what I do with the resulting composition. Oddly, the more personal the content and results, the more universally the ideas seem to be understood by others. This might be the key to turning “art into commerce.”

IF YOU HAD A CHANCE TO SEE ANY PERFORMER AT THEIR PRIME, WHO WOULD IT BE?

I would have liked to have seen Elvis at about the time of the ’68 Comeback Special. 

The Copper Tones

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The Copper Tones write music that makes a bar room jukebox smile. A modern take on old time music -- perfect tunes to peel a frosty beer label to. Grab a cold one AND SPIN THE COPPER TONES.

Who are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

Stefanie: At the moment I would say Alabama Shakes, Trampled by Turtles, Shakey Graves, and Shovels and Rope. I think those artists have a unique-ness to their sound, while staying true to the roots which is something I really strive for in my songwriting. 

Daniel: Lately I’ve been listening to Joe Satriani, The Yardbirds, ELO, Kansas, Rush, Dream Theater, and Triumph. A lot of that is pretty progressive, which I have loved that genre since I was in middle school. For whatever reason, I have been back on a real progressive kick lately.

Andy: I’ve always been influenced by jazz, punk, and metal music. My current influence would have to be The Delta Bombers. They came across my playlist and I’ve been stuck with them. There blues/country/rockabilly sound makes me want to get back into the old roots of music and bring it back again. 

Dyllan: Old and In the Way, Devil Makes Three, Greensky Bluegrass, Bob Wayne and Hank 3.

What is your songwriting process like? 

Dyllan: I usually start with a single verse and then figure out my melody. I live on a river so I go down to the water and usually the rest of the song just flows out naturally in 10 to 20 minutes. It happens very suddenly.

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Stefanie: I generally start off writing down random thoughts and construct them into lyrics. Once I have the lyrics kinda figured out, I'll go to the guitar or piano and play random chords to find a rhythm I think fits with the lyrics. Then, I usually mess with that to find a progression and melody that I like. It's a very drawn-out process for me haha but eventually it all comes together. I've always admired how quickly Dyllan writes songs. We're starting to write together now and it helps to have another set of ears. 

Daniel: For me it has always started with a riff, since I am not a singer or lyricist. When I get a really killer guitar riff, I know I can build a great song around it. From there I like to show it to the rhythm section and see what type of groove they feel off it, because a lot of times it can be different than what I imagined and that’s a nice surprise. Once the vocalist joins the process, from there I try to let the vocals dictate the flow, because even if it starts with a riff, the song will usually center around the voice if you want a great finished product.

Andy: If I ever wrote a song, I would gladly tell you my process, lol. I have pages of stuff but I could never really get a song from it.

Where do you see your music career in three years?

Stefanie: I would love for The Copper Tones to be signed to an indie label and be touring around the world, creating and recording as much as possible and connecting to people through our music. That's the dream (and hopefully the reality as well.) 

Daniel: I hope that in 3 years I am still playing as many shows as I am now, in as many places around the world as possible! It brings me great joy to spread my original music to as many people as possible, seeing new places, etc. I also love the recording process just as much. I would like to think that 3 years from now, my body of work will have grown a lot, and there will be many more studio releases, whether full length albums or whatever else. Recording music is a different experience than performing live, and to me what is special about it is that you create something you’ll have forever, and likely lasts even longer than you.

Andy: In 3 years, I would like to see my music career progress into playing more shows. Small or big act shows, as long as I’m playing and everyone is enjoying the music, I’m content.  

Dyllan: I hope I'm writing music to play in front of people that enjoy it. I don't need a lot just enough money and time to be happy and enjoy myself.

Alex Di Leo

Alex Di Leo writes solid pop music. Modern, catchy, and memorable hooks galore. Di Leo is primed for radio success and a long future as a pop music songwriter and performer.

1) Who are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

At the moment my musical influences are kind of all over the place to be honest. I’m into so many things right now that it’s making it harder for me to focus on a specific direction for new material.

Sometimes the best thing to do is to let it happen naturally. In the beginning I was always inspired by bands like ColdPlay, Pheonix, The Killers, & Snow Patrol.

My recent influences would be Flor, Bleachers, Lovely The Band, Barns Courtney, Odesza, & X Ambassadors. They all inspire me in different ways.

2) What is your songwriting process like?

My songwriting process is never the same. Most of the time I don’t grab my guitar or sit at a piano with the Intention to write a song. Usually for me, writing a song starts with a melody that randomly pops in my head and me immediately recording it on my phone.

I could be at the beach or on a flight..it’s always random. I’ve noticed I’m usually inspired when I’m traveling, especially to new places. The whole new experience thing, in general, definitely sparks something. I normally take that idea back home to build from there and typically I work from the piano.

My latest single “Brooklyn Bridge” was re-written 3 times. Four years ago I wrote the original idea. Last year I thought combing it with "Kiss Those Lips," another song I wrote around the same time, would  work perfect.

So the day I recorded vocals I went in the studio with that intention. A few minutes before I was going to track the vocals, a couple different melodies popped into my head.

My producer and I sat there for the next couple hour rewriting the whole song except for the chorus. This was probably one of my favorite writing experiences and it made me realize how inspired I become when coming up with things on the spot.

Where do you see your music career in three years?

In three years I’ll be 25..which is kind of scary. I hate how fast life goes. But I hope to accomplish more than I ever have. There are many more songs to be written.

I hope in three years I’ll have established myself as a writer and be able to tour the U.S. and Europe with a significant fan base. I also hope to be charting the Alt charts frequently.

Raye Zaragoza

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Raye Zaragoza writes songs that rattle the social and political climate. Her lyrics are to the point and her message is clear: Zaragoza is a "voice of change." We asked her 3 questions. Here are her answers: 

Who inspires you as a writer?

Everyone around me, the ground beneath my feet, the wind, the trees, and cities. I like to write about the most wonderful and darkest parts of life. I try to always open my heart and my eyes to everyone and everything I see - because you never know who or what is going to inspire you.

What is your songwriting process like?

I am always writing songs. I will sing ideas into my phone, or write ideas on paper all the time. Sometimes, I will think of a line that will stick with me and then I will write a song from that line.

One of the first songs I wrote was a song called “In This City” because I couldn’t get this line out of my head - “In this city, I feel pretty.” It stuck with me, almost haunted me, until it became a song. But I think most of my songs are an outcome of an overwhelming emotion that just needs to be expressed. I will pick up my guitar, and just start jamming with chords and sing whatever comes into my head until a song is formed.

What messages do you wish to spread through music?

Ultimately, I want my music to heal. I want people to listen to my music and know that they are not alone. Music got me through my darkest times, and I hope that my music can do that for others.

I write a lot of songs about fighting for our rights as human beings, and I am always outspoken about my social & political beliefs. In these times we’re in, I think it is an artist’s duty to be vocal and stand up for what they believe in.

I am grateful that my song “In The River” was able to spread awareness during the Standing Rock Movement, and I hope to continue to write songs that can be the voice of change. 

Maya Jones

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Maya Jones writes songs that make you think. Her voice is laid back, and her tunes get your foot tapping and head bobbing. She is well on her way to your radio dial. We asked Maya 3 questions. Here are her answers:

Who are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

Some of my biggest musical influences at the moment would have to be The 1975, Pvris, Pale Waves & Paramore.

What is your songwriting process like? 

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The Songwriting process for me is different every time.  I can be in the most random places and have a verse or a chorus pop in my head.  I always have to have my phone or something with me so I can open up voice memos and save it for later. 

But the songs that I’m most proud of and the ones that tend to be the ones I release are the ones where I can finish in one writing session.  I like it when it comes natural and I don’t have to feel like I’m trying to just finish a song.  I want to always be real and honest with my music. 

Where do you see your music career in three years?

Three years from now I want to see my career continuing to blossom and grow.  I just want to keep getting my message and music out into the world and have more and more people listening to it. 

I play a lot of shows all over the US now but for sure I want to have a couple of tours under my belt.  Hopefully I would have been able to play some music festivals as well.

The Carvels NYC

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The Carvels NYC write songs steeped in NYC attitude. They are a driving rock and roll outfit with swagger and grit. Fans of the NY Dolls and The Ramones will bop to the sounds of The Carvels NYC. We asked them 3 questions. Here are their answers:

Who are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

If The Ramones and The Ronettes had children and Lou Reed was the nanny, they would grow up to be The Carvels NYC! If Max’s Kansas City had a sock hop, we would be the band!

What is your songwriting process like?

The first step of a great song is a cool title. When you have a cool title, the chorus writes itself. The verses are like the fruit of the chorus, and when you season it with a bridge, intro, outro…you have a delicious song.

Once you try the recipe a few times you have it perfected and ready to serve up in a tasty recording.

Where do you see your music career in three years?

Although we are not mainstream pop there is an international audience that is hungry for music like ours. Our records sound amazing on the radio, so we’d like to continue getting airplay in our global niche.

We’re also a great live band and hope to play across the nation and the world in clubs, bars, and festivals. With the right label we could be a great fit for music shows like Jools Holland.

Our songs would sound amazing on commercials, TV shows and movie soundtrack.

Jess Bishop

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Jess Bishop writes timeless songs for modern souls. Her words are true and her voice is pure -- offering a pleasing and thought-provoking listening experience. We asked her 3 questions. Here are her answers:

Who are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

I grew up listening to artists like John Martyn, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan who I still regularly listen to now. 

I’ve also recently been introduced to some amazing current artists like Sharon Van Etten, Daniel Norgren, Aldous Harding and Nils Frahm. My favourite track to listen to at the moment is ‘Every time the Sun Comes Up’ by Sharon Van Etten. I love the rawness of her lyrics and her vocals are effortless.

What is your songwriting process like?

I used to always write the lyrics to a song first then play around with melodies and chord patterns afterwards but now it’s generally the other way round. I’ll write a chord progression, sing a melody and then the lyrics just seem to flow after that.

I definitely go through seasons with my songwriting where I’ll hate everything I’m writing, which sometimes goes on for months, then a few songs that I’m really happy with will all come at once. This used to really stress me out but I’ve learnt to just accept that I’m having a dry patch and know that it won’t last forever!

Where do you see your music career in three years?

I think it’s really difficult to put a time limit on when you want to achieve certain things but I guess I’d love to be recording my third album, after my second album hopefully being a success, which I am recording this October.

I love playing live so I‘d like to have built a big-enough fan base to be touring internationally as the headline act. Like a lot of artists, one of my ambitions is to play on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.... but three years might be a bit ambitious for that. We shall see! Watch this space :)

Paul Levinson

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Paul Levinson writes songs that are catchy and colorful. With a storied career that includes working with songwriting legend Ellie Greenwich, Levinson released folk and pop gems in the sixties and seventies. Fans of Simon and Garfunkel, Del Shannon, Brian Hyland, Spanky and Our Gang, The Zombies, The Vogues, and Strawberry Alarm Clock will love listening to Paul Levinson. We asked him 3 questions. Here are his answers:

How did you get into songwriting and connect with legends like Ellie Greenwich?

I started writing songs - mostly lyrics but sometimes with music - when I was 16 years old in 1963.  I wrote one of them- "The Park at Night," a hopelessly out of date doo-wop song even then, in 1963, with a guy I knew since kindergarten, Paul Gorman.  His father believed in us and brought us into the studio to record a demo (with me singing lead).  Here it is on Spotify

A year later, Gorman and I formed a doo-wop group (still out of date), The Transits.  (I wrote a short story about this - "The Harmony" - published in a bunch of places including here.)   The group broke up when our lead singer Dave disappeared (like in Eddie and Cruisers). 

I formed a folk-rock trio, The New Outlook, with two of the guys in The Transits - Stu Nitelkman and Ira Margolis.  Stu and I soon started writing songs together.  The New Outlook was singing in Central Park one sunny Spring afternoon in 1967, when a couple walked by, stopped, listened, and introduced themselves after a while - they were Ellie Greenwich and Mike Rashkow. 

They took us into the studio and recorded a couple of of our songs - including one for which I wrote the lyrics, and Stu the music, If Leaves Fall Tomorrow, which you can hear here on Spotify.  They changed our name to The Other Voices, signed us to Atlantic Records.  We released two singles, which sold maybe one copy.

What is your songwriting process like?

Ideas come into my head all the time for lyrics - the same for stories and novels (I have seven novels and fifty stories published).  I used to scribble them down on paper.  Now I just make a note on my iPhone.  Sometimes a tune comes up in my head with the lyrics - like with "Today Is Just Like You".  Other times, it's just the lyric, or even the title.

In the case of  "Looking for Sunsets (In the Early Morning)" I came up with the title, mentioned it to Ed Fox - this was 1969, The New Outlook had discbanded, and Ed and I were writing songs - and in the case of Sunsets, Ed sat down at the piano, I was standing next to him, and he wrote the music and I wrote the lyrics in about five minutes.

Other times, I'll send off complete lyrics to someone who writes the music - that's the way Alpha Centauri was writing (Peter Rosenthal wrote the music after I gave him the complete lyric - he played guitar on some of The New Outlook and all the recordings I made with Ed Fox). We wrote Alpha Centauri by the way, in 2000 - I sent Peter the lyrics in email, he sent me back the song with music the same way, and I finally got around to adding the vocal in 2010.

Do you have any favorite memories of being a working songwriter in the sixties?

Here's my favorite: I was writing a song - words and music - which began, "Hiding behind a raindrop, shyly opening her sweet milk chocolate eyes..." And I couldn't come up with another line.  One day I was on a bus, fell asleep, and dreamed that Paul McCartney was sitting next to me.  I sang him those lines.  He said, here's your next line, man - "Sliding behind the same drop..."  I woke up and wrote some more of the song.  That was in 1969 - I still haven't finished it. 

My second favorite story:  Ed Fox was reading a newspaper, and headline of a story was "The Lama Will Be Late This Year".  We looked at each other, and wrote the song (I wrote the lyrics and Ed the music).  The great thing about songwriting is all you need is a word or two, and you're off and running/writing.

Chioke Dmachi

Chioke Dmachi makes exciting pop music that takes you in unexpected directions. Check out "Rain" for a creative sonic experience. We asked Chioke 3 questions about his music and influences.  Here are his answers:

Who are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

Pop music artists have always been my biggest influences. My favorite pop artists have always inspired me to be bold, to be sexy, and to just be me. To obliterate the rules, create my own niche and be my own style. Artists like Prince, Michael Jackson, Janet, Bowie, Beyonce, and Missy Elliot continue to to inspire me with the power of their expression. There is a super long list of brilliant artists that are all a part of the fabric of my creativity.

What is your songwriting process like?

When I least expect it,  I find myself inspired.  My beloved muse visits me whenever and wherever it feels like. It’s 3am I wake up singing a melody and lyrics, fumbling to find my phone to record them into my voice memos. Or it’s the middle of rush hour traffic on the 405 and I’ll find myself bursting with lyrics to write down. 

A very fun part of my songwriting process is working with my songwriting partner Anthony Schubert, a pianist and guitarist.  We have written several songs together Including the songs "BoyZ Don’t Cry" and "Ching Ching" off my  F.L.I. -EP. I will bring to him some lyrics or ideas and we sit and create a song.

On my soon soon to be released project Heartless-Reign, I worked with producer/ singer/ songwriter Sam Symers. He introduced new sounds, and new possibilities to me as songwriter and we experimented collaborating on something magical. The four song EP we’ve just completed was all  conceptually spawned from it's 1st  single “Rain.”

Where do you see your music career in three years?

3 Years from now I see me being in the middle of a successful sold out world tour. I love to make music, I love to perform, and I love travel. I see beautiful Grammys and other beautiful awards with my name on them.  

I see performing on all the stages I’ve ever dreamed of and ones I don’t even know about.  I imagine having opportunities I  never conceived of.  I see myself living and enjoying every moment to the fullest, and just continuing to appreciate the journey life is taking me on towards more of my dreams and wishful thinking becoming real. 

I imagine lots of new music and more good vibes. And to whoever is reading this I hope within the 3 years,  I get to see you at a show. Please say hello. 

Matt Jaffe

Matt Jaffe writes his own brand of rock and roll.  It is rocking, rolling, and charged with pop.  In other words, it's pretty rad.  We asked him 3 questions about his music and songs.  Here are his answers:

Who are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

It might be more helpful to look at my influences from 6 months ago, because Tom Petty has been the only artist on tap for me since his passing.  Even though Petty is a huge influence, he can't quite shoulder my whole palette by himself. 

Back then, I was getting deep into Robyn Hitchcock (especially his 80's material with the Egyptians), Randy Newman (I saw him at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in SF last year and he inverted my brain), and John Prine (whose new record is promising to be a masterpiece, based on the singles). 

I've also been on a quest to find artists who meld the kind of songwriting I love with modern sensibilities.  It's tough to do both. 

A big favorite right now is Kate Bush.  The record I'm about to release is deeply rooted in traditional rock and roll (which sounds oxymoronic, but surely isn't by now), but I'm excited to step beyond the two guitar, bass and drums frame with subsequent releases.  I can't fool anyone and say I'm not a rock and roll lifer, but I am eager to try some new approaches anyway.

What is your songwriting process like?

Most of the songwriting process is kind of like being a hunter/gatherer.  The hunting would be reading, listening and watching other creative works and the gathering is just the everyday miscellany that usually is the best prism for telling stories anyway. 

Not every day can be the end of the world, even if art would have you think otherwise.  So collecting observations on paper (the iPhone kind) and tape (also the iPhone kind) is most of the work.  Then when I finally have a chance to sit down with the collection of observations, which isn't quite as often as I'd like, it's a jigsaw puzzle. 

I know the pieces are there, the melodies and lyrics and changes.  And I have no idea what the average time to write a song is.  Sometimes it's an easy puzzle they give to kids, 4 big pieces that make a barnyard animal.  Other times the puzzle is a 3000+ piecer of Monet's "Water lilies" and it swallows up years. 

I find if I sit around long enough, pace the same 4 square feet of my room long enough, the songs fall into place, even if it takes cannibalizing several drafts (or even other songs) in the process.  Speed of writing doesn't correlate to quality of song, in my experience.

Where do you see your music career in three years?

I used to have pipe dreams that prevented me from enjoying every day.  Every experience was only a conduit to something.  So now my life goal is to change all my means into ends.  A session or a gig or a song aren't tools for getting something; they are the thing. 

Hunger keeps the wheels turning, but eventually you have to realize that you're already living the life you're working for, or otherwise happiness just recedes.  If I had to name one big goal, it would be able to tour nationally (dare I say internationally?!?) regularly within a few years. 

I so appreciate the grassroots support that I've cultivated in the Bay Area, and I'd be thrilled if I could grow the touring footprint, even if gradually.  I couldn't be luckier in the working relationships I've had in the past few years, so I just hope I'm able to maintain those and continue writing songs that feel true.

www.MattJaffeMusic.com

Ari B

Watch out for Ari B on the pop charts...she is on her way.  Voted the best female vocalist at the Global Music Awards, this Boston-born singer writes dance-worthy songs perfectly crafted for modern radio.  We asked Ari 3 questions about her music and songwriting.  Here are her answers:

Who are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

Such a good question. I'm inspired by a lot of artists today. MJ will always be my number one. He is a big part of the reason why I do what I do.

What is your songwriting process like? 

I really like to put my vision and perspective down through music. It's different for everyone, but I always l like to put down my melody before lyrics. :) It def depends on the song.

Where do you see your music career in three years?

I am dreaming and hoping to work professionally, haha. I LOVE music and I love vibing with people. That's why I love performing so much. Really thankful to be in this career and to work with such great people around me.

Kellen Of Troy

Kellen of Troy writes songs that hang out in your head like an old friend -- a true songwriter's songwriter.  Let's hope he keeps the cool tunes coming.  We asked him three questions.  Here are his answers:

Who are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

Simon and Garfunkel, Nirvana, Neil Young, Rodolphe Kreutzer, and anything the Wrecking Crew played on.

How often do you write songs?

It depends on the season. I’m not a writer who hits a consistent quota of tunes/month. Usually they come out in bursts of three or four at a time, sometimes with weeks or months of dormancy in between.

As of late I’ve been spending a lot of time on the road playing fiddle, and it’s pretty hard for me to write while traveling. That said, I just finished writing a tune I’m very excited about that will hopefully come out sometime in March.

What was your favorite gig so far?

Last summer me and the boys (and our wives) went down to Seaside Florida to play their summer concert series at the downtown amphitheater. We did a ninety minute set of original tunes, outside in early June, to a lawn full of people, preceded-and-followed by hangs on the beach. It doesn’t get much better than that.

www.KellenOfTroy.com

Willolux

Comforting as a quilt, and honest as they come.  Willolux is a songwriter strapped to a bottlerocket -- she will soon be everywhere.  We asked her 3 questions. Here are her answers:

Who are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

When I wrote the record, I was heavily influenced by Sufjan Stevens. He had recently released his album, Carrie & Lowell, and upon hearing it, I was just so moved, I picked up a guitar and tried to learn the song, "Death With Dignity" by ear, but I was making a few mistakes and I ended up coming up with a little chord progression that would eventually become my song "Cedar + Fir."

I have been a huge Regina Spektor fan for about 10 years now - I think she's brilliant and I am loving her latest album, Remember Us to Life. I always admire really Beatle-esque writing, so I must say Elliott Smith, Andy Shauf, and of course The Beatles themselves. 

What is your songwriting process like?

I write very slowly but steadily. The first thing that I do is mess around on the piano or the guitar, sometimes with intention and sometimes without. Let me explain - sometimes I will try out a few "projects" for more direction, for example a couple of years ago I did a Bob Dylan Nashville Skyline Project where I studied the album in depth, tasked myself to re-write lyrics to every song, and then I had to write an original song that had something to do with each Dylan song.

That could mean the same using chord progression, subject matter, rhyming pattern, etc. This practice forces me out of my comfort zone and it makes me feels like an apprentice, which I love. Beginner mindset is key - there is always so much more to learn.

When I start a song, I usually sit for a few hours, noodling around until something catches my ear. For me, a song often starts with a 5 second idea, and then it expands from there. I try to be gentle with the process, but I do push myself to sit on the bench for at least an hour longer than I want to. I have found that this extra hour is where I eventually hear something.

I record my ideas as voice memos on my phone, and then the next day or week I re-listen to see if they were any good, and if I think something is there, I keep pushing at it. I have always been envious of those people who can write a song in 15 minutes, because that's just not me! But I would like to add that there is nothing I love more than the process, as frustrating as it can be. 

Where do you see your music career three years from now?

I recently released my first album, "Thread & Tape," in June 2017, but I am already gearing up to record the follow-up album. I will be working on that I imagine for the better part of a year, and then I hope to tour to hopefully reach more ears.

Three years from now, I would love to be supporting some bigger acts, or maybe doing an extensive North American and European Tour on my own. I know that one thing is for sure - I'll likely still be writing songs.

www.Willolux.com

Ricky Montgomery

Exotic sonic landscapes layered with honey harmonies and groovy melodies -- definitely something everyone can dig. We asked Ricky Montgomery 3 questions.  Here are his (and The Boys') answers:

Who are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

This tends to change day by day for us and we all have different tastes. Collectively, though, we tend to bring up folks like Frank Ocean, Danny Brown and Radiohead more than anybody else. We've also been really loving Ariel Pink and the new MGMT album a lot.

What is your songwriting process like?

It's pretty hectic right now since we've moved into the same house and started doing our patreon. We'll get together every night or so and try to hammer out any songs we're working on. It's changed our process a lot and, with that, our sound.

We generally start with a riff one of us is working on and then we'll hum melodies over it until something sticks. Lots of mumbling and making grunting noises at each other. Then I'll eventually write some lyrics with the melodies. It's a slow, imperfect process but we're all loving it a lot.

Where do you see your music career in three years from now?

Probably as the biggest band in history. If not that, then we'd at least like to be touring regularly and making enough money off of music to sustain ourselves. Probably the first one, though.