Behind Local Music - The Best of 2009 Local Song of the Day podcast artists

BEADS at Capitol Hill Day broadcast photo by David Frank

BEADS at Capitol Hill Day broadcast
photo by David Frank

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. Each and every Friday KEXP offers a song by a local artist for their Song of the Day podcast series. I am fortunate in that I get to write about these songs and provide behind the scene glimpses into the music and the artists who make it. I would like to thank all the artists who agreed to be interviewed and shared some of their secrets about their music, lives, and inspirations.

Sometimes I get surprising answers and insight into what it’s like to be a musician. For example, The Blakes practically live on the road touring the country and Europe for most of the year. They shared some of that experience with me when I interviewed them for “So Easy” a single off their latest album Souvenir. Full article here. Other times we get a glimpse of a band’s dynamic like when The Tripwires talked about their genesis and it was easy to tell that they all have known each other for a long time from how their humorous responses rolled off each other so naturally. Read their interview here.

Below are excerpts from some of my favorite interviews of the year.

What is your song about? I ask this question of most the artists because it gives me a richer listening experience to compare what the song means to me to how the artist describes their original inspiration.

No One Knows was easily one of my top albums of the year. BEADS is a side project for Garnet & Snow Keim of The Blakes and this album was deeply moving and personal in a such a way that it makes you feel guilty for being too quick to judge a band/artist.

“Evil” was written through the eyes of a child looking at a man and what he will become when he reaches adolescence. We used the ideas of innocence and evil throughout and that is part of the bi-polar nature of this song’s movements. The bridge has an angelic sort of quality that feels like something you might feel in a chapel. The recording of this song was mostly about letting the music come through us and to try to let it do the talking. The song “Voices” was another one that came from somewhere else, a dream with words and a melody. That was an easy one to write. When you’re sleeping and you are on autopilot but yet you are still dreaming music -- that is always fun. You never know what you’ll find after midnight!

--Snow Keim (BEADS, The Blakes) on “Evil” from No One Knows [full article]

What is your inspiration for the band/song/album? This is often one of the questions that elicits the most surprising answers.

Some are funny:

We draw inspiration from all over the place. Thom, Jamie and Nora all really love Lagwagon and I’m not sure why. But then again the same could be said for my love for Toto. All of us listen to all sorts of shit though I might be the only one with hip hop mix tapes in my iPod a regular basis. We have common ground on so many musical/cultural/personal levels that it really doesn’t matter. We’re all insanely goofy. I think that’s the most important element of the band.

--Phil (The Ironclads) on “Step to the Sea” from Space Between the Maps [full article]

Grant and Rob are pushing me to be a better writer. I have to build songs out of bricks now instead of straw or sticks so those guys don’t blow them down.

--Herman Jolly (Little Pieces, Sunset Valley) on “One Million Feet Below” from Vampires Fill Their Waterbeds with Blood. [full article]

It started as a joke. We just wanted to channel the fun we heard on old raunchy soul records, stuff from the Norton and Crypt record catalogues mainly. Gino Washington and the Compulsive Gamblers were the prime inspirations I’d say. We figured it would sound like a big ineptly white soul-less mess, and that would give us an excuse to just drink and party cause it wasn’t gonna sound good anyway. The name came along with us figuring it would be fitting to have something as equally impairing as our sound.

--Stu (The Fucking Eagles) on “(You Better Watch Your) Happy Home” from Midnight Sour [full article]

Jeremy Enigk at Triple Door photo by Laura Totten

Jeremy Enigk at The Triple Door
photo by Laura Totten

Some are honest and give you insight into an artist’s life:

It’s the mostly-true autobiographical story of how my wife and I got together and our first trip away as a couple. That’s the short version. The long version has to do with infidelity, pain, passion, longing and copious amounts of alcohol.

--Jim Biggs (Black Nite Crash) on the single “The Story of Me & You” [full article]

Yes, I am continually inspired by the thought of God. Its gravity is always pulling at me. Almost everything in my life whether it be a choice I must make, or my beliefs, or even my own music passes through this sort of ‘God Filter’. So naturally I cannot help but to write about it.

--Jeremy Enigk (solo, Sunny Day Real Estate) on “Life’s Too Short” from OK Bear [full article]

The Redwood Plan began (and remained) friends getting together to make music for fun. We’ve been so lucky in that we’re all really, really good friends and honestly have spent a good majority of time laughing our asses off. The inspiration for the name came from a series of conversations over drinks at various bars, but I wouldn’t deny that time spent enjoying sliders at the Redwood may have been involved.

--Lesli Wood (The Redwood Plan, Ms. Led) on “Movers Shakers Makers” [full article]

I prefer writing fictional lyrics. The whole vibe of the Head Like a Kite live show is built around throwing a festive party with people dancing and cutting loose, dressed in various costumes. Fog machines and confetti. I find that fictional lyrics allow me to explore more of a crazed, theatrical world, which parlays more into the live setting. Over time, the live shows have really influenced my songwriting and I find myself focusing on song arrangements and lyrics that are fun to perform live. Of course, that being said, there are certainly autobiographical moments in the songs, but I tend to adjust and bend them for my entertainment.

--Dave Einmo (Head Like a Kite) on the single “Thrones of Glory” [full article]

The Nightgowns @ EMPs All Access Night photo by Chona Kasinger

The Nightgowns @ EMP's All Access Night
photo by Chona Kasinger

And some give you a better context to appreciate the artist’s music:

We all have very different musical tastes and favorite records... but I think it can easily be said that this record was heavily influenced by 1980′ pop records... everything from OMD to New Order, Orange Juice to Echo & the Bunnymen. We wanted to fill this record with cheap drum machines and thick warbly synth tones. We were experimenting with intricate melodies over two and three chord drones on much of the record.

--Trevor Dickson and Cody Jones (The Nightgowns) on “Narwal Aerobics” from Sing Something [full article]

A lot of the themes arise from the perceptual shift between the fantasy world we live in, where everything seems ok and the realization of the immensity of the world around us -- a world which goads and taunts you into confused actions. Being overwhelmed but compelled to stammer out a garbled answer. Guitars and drums are crude tools. It’s like trying to paint a beautiful picture with a blunt crayon clutched in your fist.

--Carrie (Gun Outfit) on “Troubles Like Mine” from Dim Light [full article]

I used to record stuff at home as a kid on my mom’s stereo, then I had a cool tape machine that I could record stuff over existing stuff, which I would do over and over and over again until I had a very fuzzy song.

--Erik Blood (solo, The Turn-Ons) on “To Leave America” from The Way We Live [full article]

Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts with me this past year!

This entry was posted in KEXP, Local Music, Song of the Day Podcast and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Comment

  1. Chris Estey
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    This is so awesome. What a wonderful round up of quotes!

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