Musician Closeup: Charlie Faye

January 31, 2012

“I always want it to be an adventure” Charlie Faye told me over coffee a few weeks ago.  And Charlie’s career in music has been that, starting when she picked up a a guitar during her senior year in college.

Charlie now has three CDs under her belt, the latest one being Travels with Charlie.  TWC was born out of Charlie’s 10 month trip in 2010, during which she stayed in each of 10 cities for a month, and while there, put a band together, played some shows and recorded a song.  As I mentioned when I picked TWC as one of the Best Records of 2011, the songs on this record are a diverse lot, ranging from Americana, Country, Alt Country and even a few 60s pop infused songs.

Although radio was originally slow to catch onto TWC, it has started moving up the Americana radio chart.  But at the time this post is being written, it is sitting up at number 14, right between Wilco and Tom Waits, not bad company at all.

Charlie has also been involved in the fight for affordable housing for the music community in her adopted hometown of Austin, Texas.  Charlie’s community of small, affordable cottages on Wilson Street in South Austin, where she lived since moving from her native New York City in 2008, was torn down last month after a long battle to save them.  Now Charlie is working with others to create a Wilson Street like community in East Austin.  Charlie believes that East Austin is where future affordable housing will be found.

Recently Charlie co-wrote a song with Now I’ve Heard Everything favorites The Mastersons.  That song will soon be released as a single in Australia, which Charlie is looking to visit.  And beyond that, Charlie would like to do an international version of her US 10 city tour.  It seems certain that Charlie’s adventure will continue.

Update: Travels with Charlie made it to #12 for the week o f January 30.

Musician Closeup: Emily Zuzik Lands in LA

November 2, 2011

Although Now I’ve Heard Everything favorite Emily Zuzik, whose video for Motels was featured here yesterday, has recently moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, I was able to get in touch with her and find out the whys and wherefores of that move.

Now I’ve Heard Everything: Why did you decide to leave NYC and why now?

Emily Zuzik: When my husband and I got married, we decided that we wanted to move back to California and we figured it would be another year or so in NYC. We didn’t expect it to fall into place on the same timeline. He got a job out here, and it seemed like the perfect time to get out. Overall, I’d say, I wanted an easier and higher quality of life. I wanted a house, a yard, space to spread out, have my studio at home, fresh produce all year long, and go back to California, which I love.

NIHE: What was the cross country trip like? Any frolics, detours or music along the way?

EZ: The trip across country was great! We did the drive in about 7 days (2 not driving but chilling in different places–one being our one year wedding anniversary). We stayed with friends and family and saw just about every weather pattern imaginable–white out dust storms in west Kansas, misty rain in the mountains of West Virginia, snow in the Rockies and amazing rock formations in southern Utah. My 2 cats were total champs! They hung out in the car and sometimes came to the front seat to sleep on my lap. I posted a ton of pics from the drive on my fb. The visits with people along the way were very fun b/c even though you’re changing time zones and environments, you get a little window to live in another place. I have had that experience when I toured, but this time, I was able to just enjoy it without working. I think I only picked up a guitar once on the road, and that was an impromptu song pull with my St. Louis pal, Celia Shacklett. Although there was a mega dance party with 5 and 7 year old kids with our friends in Winter Park, Colorado too. That was a ton of music fun!

NIHE: How was getting plugged into the LA scene? How is the same or different from NYC?

EZ: LA is funny. It’s so spread out, it’s difficult to rally folks to come to your shows, so I think people play out less frequently. That’s fine with me. I’d like to work more on writing and studio stuff for a while. I wasn’t planning to dive in so crazily, but I got here and literally in a week’s time, I sang at a big birthday gathering for a well-known drummer in town to a packed crowd at the Kibitz Room, I spoke on a panel at the Independent Music Conference, I played the IMC opening party and I have a show on the 25th at Bar Lubitsch at 8:30 pm. But like life, it’s ebb and flow.

I think there are a lot of differences between NYC and LA. You don’t play as often here because people drive and that means they don’t go out as often. I think the “scene” here is a bit younger too. That’s not to say that there aren’t a bunch of older musicians working, but the “scene-y” stuff seems a lot younger and less diverse. But heck, I just got here and have been setting up my life.

NIHE: Do you miss anything about NYC? Anything that you had to deal with in NYC that you are happy you no longer have to?

EZ: I miss NYC fall. I miss my friends back east and my awesome band. I miss amazing restaurants, but it kind of ends there. I don’t miss subways. I don’t miss small apartments. I don’t miss schlepping my groceries home by foot. I certainly don’t miss the noise. There are some modern conveniences that I’ve grown to like out here. Call me soft…

Musician Closeup: Joy Askew (Part 2)

September 27, 2011

This is part 2 of Now I’ve Heard Everything’s Musician Closeup of Joy Askew; for Part 1 click here.

As I previously mentioned, Drunk on You is a gorgeous sounding record.  That is in part due to the stellar cast of musicians who worked with Joy in the making of this record.  They include Rob Jost, Steve Elliot, Robbert DiPietro, Tony Mason, Ricky Fataar, Garrin Bennfield, Ana Milosavljevic, James Maddock, Amanda Homi, Steve Elson, Clark Gayton, Josh Schneider and The Hungry March Band.

Much of Drunk on You was recorded with the musicians playing together live in the studio.  Joy was able to find a studio where complete separation of the instruments was possible, even though doing so is difficult when a piano is one of the instruments.

But Drunk on You sounds the way it does because Joy produced it trying to get a sound that is distinctive to the record.  She’s been influenced by English bands, particularly Radiohead and Coldplay.  Joy noted that The Police influenced this record, even if you can’t hear that influence.

Once the recording was done, Brian McTear came in to do the mixing.  Both he and Joy agreed that they would not get caught up in the “loudness wars.”  Drunk on You was mixed without the dynamic compression that makes so much of today’s recorded music difficult to listen to for long periods.

Since I was puzzled about the meaning of the title of the album’s second song, Aoao, Joy was kind enough to explain it to me.  Aoao is a phrase that sounds like an English grumble of dissatisfied resignation that she made up.  While we were parsing songs, Joy went on to explain that the song, I Broke the Law, deals with following your heart and doing something you know is completely right, even though it may be against the law.

You can hear Joy play live with a full band at The Rockwood Music Hall on October 5th at 8pm.  It’s the record release show for Drunk on You and I’m sure that copies of that CD will be available then.

Musician Closeup: Joy Askew (Part 1)

September 26, 2011

Joy Askew (photo: Liz Tormes Photography)

Joy Askew has a brand new album out titled Drunk on You.  The record sounds absolutely gorgeous and last week it refused to let me play anything else.  DOY is keyboard based, atmospheric, rhythmically driven rock with some catchy choruses.  Whatever you call it, it already is on my best of 2011 shortlist.  So when the opportunity to sit down and chat with Joy came up, I grabbed it.

A longtime New York City resident now living in Brooklyn, Joy’s path from her native England to New York City took seven years.  Joy is originally from Newcastle.  The scene there in the 1970s was exciting, but for music in the UK, London was the place to be.  So Joy made the move to London.

Once in London, Joy decided that the US was the place to be.  And to her, the US meant New York City.  Eventually, Joy got asked to be in the band Eye to Eye, a project of Steely Dan producer Gary Katz.  That got her to New York City with a long term work visa. But six weeks later, Warner Brothers dropped the band.

Finding herself without work, Joy had one thing set in her mind: “I’m not going home.”  Soon she joined the Joe Jackson Night and Day tour.  One of the gigs on that tour was Saturday Night Live.  You can see a video of that appearance by clicking here.

Not living in the US, Joy had not heard of the show and did not know of its popularity.  As Joy found out, among the millions of people who watched SNL were musicians.  And after that broadcast of SNL, she got calls offering her work.

A while back, Joy was working in Nashville.  It was suggested to her that she move down there.  But she never saw a reason to do so.  According to Joy, New York City is much more comfortable if you are English.

Tomorrow: More on Drunk on You

Musician Closeup: Misty Boyce

August 25, 2011

Misty Boyce took a few months off from performing recently, which surely disappointed the audience of this Lower East Side fan favorite.  But Misty used the time to figure out what what made sense as she moves forward in her career.  Although Misty has been a much in demand side player on the New York scene, she’s letting that go for now; she’s decided to focus on her own music and the music of Clyde, the alt country/rock group that she and Nick Africano lead.

Another important part of Misty’s life is yoga.  She’s become certified as a yoga instructor and she finds this as a good way to remove stress from her world.

As a result of this refocusing, Misty is moving forward with a renewed sense of purpose.  Clyde has completed recording the band’s first album, recorded with Chris Cubeta at Galuminum Foil Studios.  Misty told me recently that record was recorded without pressure and the songs came out naturally without a lot of production.

That  relaxed feeling is carrying over.  Misty noted that “recording the new Misty Boyce record is so much more relaxed” than the sessions for her first album.  This new album will feature songs that she’s already been performing.  And, Misty added, those recent songs have been written “from a happy place.”

Although Misty was referring to her state of mind, she could have been referring to her relationship with New York City as well.  Although New York was at first off putting to this native of Las Cruces, a town of 80,000 located in the middle of the desert in New Mexico.  But having found several communities of people with interests similar to hers, Misty has made her peace with The Big Apple.

Misty Boyce and Nick Africano will be performing individual sets at The Rock Shop on Sept. 7th.

Musician Closeup: Ethan Eubanks of Poundcake

August 19, 2011

With a number of musicians leaving New York City recently, it’s refreshing to learn that drummer Ethan Eubanks loves New York.  Well, he does most of the time, the exception being when it’s really humid during the summer (and I agree with him!).

Ethan originally hails from the San Francisco Bay area.  He went to college in Boston (Berklee) and decided that to make a living in music, New York City was the place to go.  He’s been here ever since.

Ethan explained to me that San Francisco doesn’t have a music scene big enough for most musicians to make a consistent living.  So it was either go to Los Angeles or New York, and he picked New York because LA is bashed so much in the bay area.

Over his time in New York, Ethan has played with many musicians, including The Grey Race, Milton and Teddy Thompson.  It was a tour during which Ethan was in Teddy’s band that led to the formation of the band on which Ethan is currently focusing, Poundcake.

Ethan noted that many singer-songwriters don’t know what they can do when not touring or recording.  So about three years ago, Ethan, bassist Jeff Hill and Teddy Thompson founded Poundcake, a band that covers late 50s-early 60s rock ‘n’ roll.  Poundcake’s repertoire  has been described as rockabilly.  Although that is in part true, there’s certainly more to it than that.  As an example, Ethan pointed out that the band also covers a couple of songs from Dion which have great rock ‘n’ roll vocals.

“Poundcake is a labor of love,” Ethan said.  “There’s interest in that music from all of us.”  Ethan added that he hopes the band will be “the entre to that music for kids who haven’t discovered it.”

Poundcake’s next show will be at City Winery on September 7th.  It’s billed as Poundcake and Special Guests.  And from what little Ethan could tell me (and I agreed to keep quiet about), the guests and the show will be special.  Now I’ve Heard Everything covered and photographed a previous Poundcake show here.

Musician Closeup: Emily Zuzik

June 28, 2010

Emily Zuzik and her band played a fun and loud set at The Rockwood Music Hall last Thursday.  A few days later I got to sit down with Emily at a Connecticut Muffin near Emily’s house in Brooklyn in a free ranging discussion that touched pretty much everything that was on our collective minds, but we mostly spoke about Emily and her music.

Originally from Southwestern Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh, Emily said that she knew early on that she wanted to go somewhere else.  Emily has said that she came out of the womb singing, and she told me that she wrote her first song when she was 12.  Emily took advantage of the newly renovated arts and video production facilities in her high school.

After college (Syracuse University), Emily ended up in San Fransisco during the dot com boom.  She found that a college educated liberal arts major who could supply content to dot coms was in great demand and paid well.  And like many of her peers, Emily was involved in the SF music scene.  But the good pay at the dot coms didn’t last, and many of the dot coms didn’t last either and Emily made her way to New York.

I liked Emily’s songwriting and I find her songs to be quite solid.  However Emily is not writing all the time, but has to be in the right place to compose.  For her, that’s someplace away from New York City like the desert or the country.

Emily said that like a quote she has heard, a musician’s life is like keeping 50 plates up in the air at one time.  Theses days, she is involved in several musical projects (she’s starting to make a rock record and finishing up an electronica one that has been in the works for a while), is a model, a voice over artist and a writer of music for commercials.  And there’s one additional job that Emily has taken on as of late is planning her wedding, which is coming up this fall.

Emily and her band will be appearing at the Bands for Boobs Benefit at Crash Mansion on July 16th.

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