His imagination’s life blood is built of trees, blades of grass, the song of the nearest sparrow, the chirp of a cricket, and the rush of a field mouse. TJ Doyle is at peace in his surroundings, nature being the heartbeat behind his song. In addition to a natural setting, his influences stem from speaking the mind of his generation in a colloquial manner with no bunkum in tow. In his new album On The Horizon, his song writing is seamless, his voice is classic, timeless, modern, smooth, and rough, soft and real, and just undefinable. His connection with nature helps him listen, watch, wait, and breath peace, which transposes onto his score. The sonic transitions are as fluid as a river floating on clay bedrock, pulling up bits of rock along the way, with all the rushes of the great whites to the calm down the way. There is something for everyone in On The Horizon. Classic Rock fans, Indie hipsters, and even the melodramatic folk supporter will find a connection. TJ Doyle brings the the poet’s voice from the 60’s to the modern era. He absorbs our longing, our pain, and our intrigue and lays it bare, and in doing so show’s us that we are all connected, just as the field meets the sky On The Horizon.
Manett is a refreshing new musical project by a Brooklyn based artist. She grew up on an island in Micronesia and arrived in NYC at the age of 19 where she attended film school. Her music is an ethereal modern take on psychedelic 60’s rock with a nudge to indie folk and a punk heart. Her dreamy vocals are reminiscent of Portishead, Nico, and Beach House, and their simplicity and style transport the listener to a woodland meadow where fantasy creatures play the instruments and little birds sing along. Her guitar is simple with just the right effects that swarm like bees to flowers. In her new EP, “Stigma-Style” released today, she includes complex beats underlying the simplicity of her instrumentation allowing for her vocals to shine. Just when you think you understand the folk hearted-ness of her writing she changes the vision through a seamless transition into more of an electro-pop vibe full with synthesizers in her song “The Birds (for Paulo)”. You can listen here and download her new Ep for FREE download and you can also get it on cassette tape (for $5) complete with a bonus track from Kerchow Records.
There are deliberate songsters in the world that have a hum within themselves. They close their ears to outside influence and pull deep within themselves a breadth of internal sound to be exposed on a blank canvas of audio recording equipment. The process is an organic happenstance that shapes an audio landscape on which we the listeners can form a lucid dream in our minds. Their sonic visions create an audio track to our own imagination, or theirs, much like readers envision characters on the page. Some composers can offer up their sound to do just that. Their lyrics motivate the listener’s gears to turn, spinning cogs and wheels long dusted over with neglect. Their chord choices lay the ground work on which our imagination floats. David Arn is one of these composers. His audio choices are deliberate, unique, and interesting.
His music is simply complex so it may be easy to miss the intent. Upon closer inspection it is clear there was thought provoking intent that was deliberate and well thought out behind the songwriting, effects, instrument and chord choices. Walking to Dreamland, David’s second release, reminisces on sounds from the 60’s and 70’s underground, a bit of 80’s jazz and a lot of David’s personality. His voice is earnest, focused, and gentle. His percussion choices are artistic and dramatically spaced between different sounds. The flow of the songs keeps you enraptured with the changes in melody and visual audio presentation.
The overall effect is of complete uniqueness. Pulling from a variety of genres, musical methodology, instrumentation and synthesizers, and personal influence, Walking to Dreamland evokes just that. To listen effectively I suggest closing your eyes, lying in bed, and letting the sounds wash over you. Such unique music should not be approached on the go, (unless your driving for the sake of spacing out) in between errands, or the like. Fans of The Microphones and Matthew Dear will appreciate his experimental notions, and those of Van Dyke Parks will appreciate the juxtaposition of sound and song style.
Upon complete listen of Walking to Dreamland it is clear that the word interesting used to describe it fits completely. The songs differ from one to the next like half brothers. Their related, but don’t look terribly alike. David’s songwriting exists in a vast stream of consciousness and at times can be beautifully simple, and at others disconcerting and haunting. There are vocals on some, and on others he chooses to invoke mood through sound. The result is a highly encapsulating thoughtful effect that leaves the listener’s mind provoked. It’s like a mix-tape from David’s brain sent straight to yours.
Where are you from?
I was born in Ohio. I have lived mostly on the East Coast of the US; New Jersey, Connecticut, and Virginia.
When did you first start playing music?
In my family, piano lessons at an early age were mandatory. So I was exposed to classical music early. Then I discovered New York rock radio stations. That’s when I begged off on the lessons. In retrospect, this training was invaluable because it taught me to think musically. I can play by ear. As a young boy, a neighborhood band would ask me to figure out chords to songs. My parents would throw parties and in the early morning hours they would wake me up and drag me down to the piano to play Sinatra and Beatles for their friends to sing along.
Was anyone pivotal in helping you to get where you are?
I have had encouraging teachers but the person that stands out is the father of one of our band mates. We were in high school. He encouraged us in a gentle way. He helped us get gigs and get our pictures in the local newspaper. He coached us on what he thought was working. He did not have a musical background but every now and then when I write, I sometimes hear Stan’s voice in the back of my mind, reminding me to “give people a beat they can dance to.”
How do you record your music?
I am fortunate to have an excellent home studio for developing ideas. I am also fortunate to have Rob Ulsh at Master Sound Studios in Virginia Beach. I’ve been working with Rob for four years now. He has decades of experience and has recorded many well-known artists. To watch him work is an education. In some cases the only way I can work with a talented artist like cellist Anat Nevo or Raz Ben Ari, is by exchanging high quality files. I know my limits. I seek out a good engineer like Rob Ulsh to work his magic. In the case of Walking to Dreamland it was then mastered by Yoad Nevo, in his London studio.
What does your songwriting process look like?
For me, it usually begins with a lyric. I am a more confident writer than singer. I am constantly putting words and phrases into folders on a laptop. The idea for a song is usually generated by an emotional response to a personal event. If I remain focused on my own experience, the words and ideas flow naturally. The older I get the easier the writing becomes because of a deeper well of experiences from which to draw. Once I have a lyric I sit down at the piano and apply musical ideas. lt is a repetitive process until something materializes that I am pleased with. You reach the point where the roadmap suddenly becomes clear. It is an emotionally charged moment. Ten minutes earlier the song did not exist; now somehow it does. Next I experiment with arrangements. Then I start reaching out to musicians.
Can you tell me about some of your recent projects?
On February 1st I released my second album. lt’s called Walking Dreamland. It is amusing to me to see how reviewers describe it. One recently described it as a “trippy musical journey.” And I suppose it is in a way. There are ten different tracks in various musical styles. Each of us has this place we think we are headed toward at the end of the walkway, but sometimes strange unforeseen events happen along the way. That project is now available on iTunes and Amazon Mp3. I’ve just released a video for the title track Walking to Dreamland and on the day the album was released another video went public for a song called “When you Lost Your Situation.” There are other videos coming out over the next few months.
What influences you musically?
It may sound strange but I don’t listen to a lot of music. Perhaps I fear that someone else’s ideas might creep in. The people I admire most are songwriters who craft songs in unique ways. Elliott Smith, for example. Chart his chord structure and modulations and you have to admire their complexity. ln my mind I draw a straight line from him to the early work of Van Dyke Parks. lt’s music that is intellectually interesting and complex. I also like Mark Oliver Everett and Matt Berninger for similar reasons.
I am more influenced by the written word. I see music as a way of creating an emotional message others might tap into. On my Facebook timeline, a woman once posted that she had just heard one of my songs and “it was exactly what she needed at that moment”. It was written at about 2:30 a.m. My songs are attempts to come to terms with something being felt on my personal timeline. The opening lines of the song “Walking to Dreamland” was how I dealt with the headlines of the most recent school shooting.
“l’m done counting dead for someone new.
I ‘m changing my ringtone back from blues”
Throughout the video, there are brief glimpses of children playing. There are school buses. All reasonable people are disgusted and emotionally drained by such events. This is how I try to get it out of my system. I frequently check in with poets like an Anne Sexton or Mark Strand. I want my music to eventually evolve into something that can be lyrically more sophisticated and not confined by the limits of words that rhyme with “dreamland.”
What are your top ten favorite musical artists or bands?
ln no particular order—Elliott Smith, The National, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Tim Easton, Eels, Elvis Costello,Willie Nile.
Can you tell me about the video making process?
Making videos helps me create better songs. I make certain the imagery is more concrete and that the song tells a story. My goal is to create, within a limited budget, videos that are interesting and a little off center. The recent video for “When You Lost Your Situation” is a good example.
Did you have a director?
It was a collaborative effort. I brought the song. I reached out to a writer I know. He gifted me with a script for the entire song. I sent that to Nika Ostoic, who had been in several music videos in Eastern Europe. She loved the idea, added ideas of her own, and then it took on a life of its own.
What was the inspiration for the video?
A close friend committed suicide by a deliberate overdose. I have always carried some guilt that I did not do enough to prevent the downward spiral. In the song and video I am reaching out.
Can you tell us about the people involved in the film?
Nika Ostoic is a journalist for Playboy, an alternative model, and aspiring actress. She was the creative driving force behind the production. She brought the talent together–Cathy Fox an artist and S&M entertainer, Paul John a queer entertainer from Vienna, Stjepan Vudrag a Playboy journalist, and Matija Vasic a professional translator based in The Hague, NL. Filip Dizdar, a popular singer in the Adriatic area, as well as a talented filmmaker, filmed and edited the project. I wanted him to emulate a Fellini or Quentin Tarantino style. Filip’s talent for timing is obvious in the video. As far as music videos go it is long (over five minutes) and yet the film visually pushes you along so you never lose interest.
When You Lost Your Situation Official Video
What was your favorite part about making it?
Seeing the creative energy others brought to the project. Once I was confident others grasped the concept, I let go. The temperature of the project began to climb. Everyone was excited. It was gratifying to watch it develop.
I have written songs for another project but have not yet recorded anything. My goal is to sit down with a group of musicians and record them in way that is more organic. You can track the progress at www.davidarn.com or on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/DavidArnMusic
I would just like to thank you, Angel, for giving me an opportunity to appear here on Sergeant Sparrow. This is a very classy and smart site. I am very grateful to be here.
“How do you live without love?” Fiona Hare asks that question in her new album “Keep Me Wild.” Her music is honest folk with a slightly swing/Americana style, and a sparseness that makes you feel as if she’s in the room playing her sad songs just for you. Her instrumentation is guitar, piano, drums, organ, and synths. Her vocals are soft and slow like honey. They are emotive and deep and her melodies stay in your head for days. Some of the songs such as Black Dog, have a guttural raw feel, both tragic and beautiful at the same time. Her piano and drums seems to come in at just the right time to help build the track into a powerhouse of emotion and drive. You’ll want to listen “Keep Me Wild” all over again after you hear it once. You can get her record on Bandcamp for $10. Have a listen below: www.fionahare.com
“Why must I carry on when you’re not around? I just can’t carry on.” Quentin Brunel writes honest and heart breaking folk music with a classic rock vibe. Quentin is working on a new EP. We are lucky to have heard track number two called “Carry On”. When “Carry On” first starts you think your about to hear a pretty straight forward folk song. It begins with just a single strummed guitar with Quentin’s vocals crooning along. The song builds slowly with drums introduced in the middle of the song along with a slide guitar. The sadness in his voice is emulated by the sorrowful guitar that changes into a mournful solo of empowerment building into a powerful sound of triumph. Though the song starts off sad and lonely the music that accompanies the heart-broken lyrics seems to answering that question. “Why must I carry on?” Well to keep playing music, surely. Check out Quentin on his facebook.
Mykul Lee has a new album out on May 1st entitled “Fortress”. It has ten songs and a mellow folk feel to it. Fans of Elliot Smith and Jeff Buckley will find something to love in Mykul’s newest work. He has a quiet voice and almost whispers his lyrics along to the music. His lyrics are heartfelt and flow well over piano, guitar and drums. We were fortunate to get an interview with him which you will find below.
Where are you located/from?
Who is involved in your project?
For the most part, it’s just me.. I’ve taught some of my willing friends the songs from my first few records and occasionally, when I play live, they will join me. Otherwise its just me, a guitar and a mic! For the albums I usually do all the pre-production in my home studio and take it to one of the many amazing studios here in Hollywood like Sunset Sound (our personal favorite) to finish everything.
Is Mykul Lee your real name?
Funny you should ask.. I actually inherited the name from my days in the mercenary business from the dreaded pirate Mykul Lee after I slew him. Turns out the mercenary business is actually just a distant cousin to the record industry, just a bit more whimsical and lighthearted.
How does your location influence your creativity?
Well, we live in Hollywood so it’s obviously a pretty interesting spot to be, but I guess it kind of attracts musicians and artists just as much, if not more, than any other place in the world. So there’s no shortage of creativity going around. Having a home studio also makes a huge difference. Being able to wake up and work on music, whether it’s my own or not, is a dream come true.
Can you give us a brief description of your musical past?
I have been playing music in one form or another for longer than I can really remember. I started with piano about 6 or 7 years old, moved to guitar and drums at about 10. After, I kind of had that stuff figured out I guess I moved to songwriting. That’s where I am now and will probably be in one way or another for the rest of my life. I love song writing more than anything. Along the way I’ve spent some time in recording school, music school, art school, been engineering/producing bands as well, but songwriting and playing music with honest musicians is my favorite
Do you write all of your songs?
Are others involved in their creation?
I used to have what we call “demo-itis” which is a severe attachment to the pre-produced songs on whatever album I’d be working on. Now that I’ve made some records and understand the value of nuance in the studio I am always open to having people suggest or even play certain instruments on the records, whatever it takes to create something beautiful that we’re satisfied with. Something we could have only done by chance. For the most part no one else is really involved in the creation/writing of the actual song, just in the studio.
If so, how do you overcome your differences in song writing?
It depends on what you’re writing for. If it’s for my own stuff I would be much less inclined to compromise if I thought I knew better. If it’s for/with someone else than there shouldn’t be differences. Just try to find a way to enjoy writing with other people. Try to find a way to make your ideas make sense with theirs. There will always be more songs to write.
Do you have any advice for those who’s creativity has reached a stale point?
If your creativity has reached a stale point, you need to find some more creative people to hang out with!
What does it make you think when you are compared to Iron and Wine, Elliot Smith and Jeff Buckley?
It’s a complete honor that anyone would make any of those connections.. I have loved Elliot Smith since day one. I was so happy when Iron and Wine finally broke out because there aren’t really very many bands doing the post-Elliot Smith kind of folksy thing. Jeff Buckley fans would probably be pissed that anyone is compared to him and I can completely agree on that one. All phenomenal musicians and singer/songwriters.
Movin into a new studio! Doing a follow up record this summer entitled “SAIL”
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