Category Archives: Interviews

Interview: Colony House is on the road, playing Hangout Fest

Here’s eight important reasons why feel-good indie pop band Colony House is a band you need to know.

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Say Hello to Hey Rosetta! in San Diego

 Hey Rosetta! are coming to San Diego, and they’re bringing their beautifully arranged, dreamy sense of alt pop with them. There’s a lot that goes into a multi-instrumental project such as this, so we spoke with the group about working together, navigating the indie music scene, and the real human experience of music.

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Video: American Aquarium talks the indie music biz

Alternative country and folk group American Aquarium has successfully navigated the independent music scene without the help of the “big guys” — and here’s what they have learned from their experiences.

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City Tribe is your perfect beach companion

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And the rock revival continues with LA based Kiven

Alternative rockers Kiven are kicking up a storm in their home base of Los Angeles while also getting to know local musicians in various cities on the road. And their self-titled debut album is quickly becoming another flame in the fire of the recent rock revival. Continue reading And the rock revival continues with LA based Kiven

Lost in Los Angeles just released your new favorite song

lost-in-los-angeles-lila-the-indie-sdIf the band name Lost in Los Angeles doesn’t immediately speak to a lot of you West Coasters, then trust me their music will. We interviewed the band and discussed their latest single, playing SXSW, and why writing from personal emotion can be invigorating for their fans!

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Dreams in Static: Taking on modern funk and soul

dreams youre on your own the indie sdLA Based Dreams in Static is a project dripping with so much soul, they’ve already been compared to artists like The Rolling Stones, John Mayer, and Curtis Mayfield.

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You’ll be surprised by Butchers of Sky Valley

Trust me, Butchers of Sky Valley is not what you are expecting. With a band name that already commands a precedence, it’s easy to think that this New York based group is going to melt some faces. But what their music actually does is melt the barriers of psychedelic rock.

According to lead singer Mike Mokotow, a band name shifts once you get to know the music. (Which couldn’t be more true — after all, most of us worship a band called The Beatles). Diving into the repertoire of Butchers of Sky Valley is no exception to this rule. With a bluesy attitude, relaxed and cool 70s inspired vocals, and guitar riffs for days, these guys create a nostalgic feel to their music that sings out to the listener from beginning to end.

Their end goal is to join many elements into one album, not just reciting the same lyrics and recycling the same riffs over and over, but instead transcending above the expected and tossing their listeners a curve ball every once in a while. And though there is a very particular sound across most of their songs, the multiple influences of Butchers of Sky Valley can still be heard.

At times, the music overpowers the vocals – guitars are shredding and drums are beating out movable cadences, while the vocals lazily croon over the top, creating an interesting lesson in contrast. But at the end of the day, lovers of throwback rockers like The Black Keys and Gary Clark Jr, and legends such as Fleetwood Mac, will enjoy Butchers of Sky Valley.

Speaking of Fleetwood Mac, Mokotow cites the iconic group as being a heavy influence for him. (Most notably their third studio album, Then Play On.) He also unabashedly discusses the beauty of jazz and blues, and even states that the band’s self-titled album cover is an homage to the “cool, sweet, gritty look” of old jazz records.

More Bluesy Soulful Rock: Caught a Ghost is reviving the spirits of soul

Words can only describe the music so much, so take a listen and let me know what you think. Though this group is based in New York, they have exciting tour plans in the works for 2014. Let’s cross our fingers for some west coast dates!

Butchers of Sky Valley have released their self-titled album, and it’s available via iTunes and all other digital media outlets.

Caught a Ghost is reviving the spirits of soul

Caught_A_Ghost_the_indie_sdOn tour and coming to So Cal is modern motown act Caught a Ghost, and after speaking with frontman Jesse Nolan, I’ve discovered that this act is multifaceted, deep, not afraid to cast Nolan’s great-aunt in their music video, and most importantly, sure to be a meaningful show that you won’t want to miss.

There are a lot of musicians out there who claim to “bring things back” — Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, Daft Punk claimed to be bringing back soul, and Bruno Mars is bringing back…Soul Trains. But rarely, an artist comes along that isn’t just copying an earlier style or mimicking an era, but also making that style into something fresh, exciting and new. Enter Caught a Ghost, “a modern take on blue eyed soul” voiced by Nolan and supported by a slew of talented onstage musicians, all of whom have seamlessly created a project worth listening to. Nolan admits that he feels he’s a “conduit” of his influences, embodying the spirits of the past and channeling them into his own music, while hoping that this channel continues on to the listeners’ ears. (And from this listener’s ears, I have to agree.)

But there is more to be said about his musical influences than a simple appreciation of the throwback. Nolan self-describes his music as being influenced by “bass heavy” tunes with a “groove feel”, and yet he can still find the appreciation in artists such as Nirvana, Dr. Dre and Jimi Hendrix.

If you could mesh all of those artists together, the result might be a crazy musical Frankenstein experiment; however, in Caught a Ghost’s case, it’s a trifecta of sensational sounds. Listeners can either linger on the smooth tone of Nolan’s voice, the upbeat ‘dancability’ of the tracks, or take it all in and relish in the feel good vibes and catchy lyrics.

All of these traits are clear in the single “Sleeping at Night”, a soulful track that urges the listener to dive deeper into the meaning and themes behind the song. (The phrase “caught a ghost sleeping at night lyrics” is a popular Google search term, and I now know why.) The moody and quick-paced intro of the song sets up Nolan’s horn-infused chorus, as he croons the lines: “I hope you make it alright! You can sell dust and steal the daylight for all that I care, just as long as you’re sleeping at night.” Though I don’t believe a literal interpretation is needed here: the lyrics as a whole seem to allude to the pandering nature of society, all set to music you can move to.

The song is a clever work of R&B influenced art, and the music video follows suit. Nolan lets me in on a little background, adding that the original video was a stop-motion animation created via iPhone. After extremely positive fan review, fast forward to the full length version, which features real people who Nolan has interacted with in his life. (One is his great-aunt — which I have to admit, makes her one of the coolest great-aunts. Ever.)

The astute and witty details of Caught a Ghost’s music doesn’t stop with this single. Dive into the full EP, Nightworks for the same caliber of music, song after song after song. Nolan adds that the EP is meant to be an appetizer for the full-length album, which should hopefully be ready for release in early 2014.

We’re waiting. Not very patiently, might I add. But the full length is sure to be worth the wait. In the meantime, Nolan is notorious on the web for singing just as well live as he does on tape, so check out Caught a Ghost during any of their fall tour dates on the west coast. San Diegans can see them at the Griffin on Sept 30th.



Meet and Greets: Cory Monteith was in an indie rock band

cory_monteith_glee_bonnie_dune_the_indie_sdSometimes we come across an artist who is not only beautiful as a person, but also as a musician. And sometimes those artists struggle with various things, including addiction. One of those artists was Cory Monteith: star on Glee, but who I knew as the talented drummer for Bonnie Dune.

I heard of this band many years ago while I was in high school. I knew some of the people who were in the band. Years passed, and I heard of them again, this time with a new drummer, one many people recognized for his vocal and acting skills on television. My friend’s band The Honey Trees was opening up for Bonnie Dune, so I decided to go. After their set it was Bonnie Dune’s turn. I instantly fell in love with the amazing harmonies, the vocals, and the way all the instruments came together so beautifully, you felt yourself plucked out of where you were, out of everything that was going wrong or worrying you, and out in the middle of a story. It was only you and the band. That’s how those artists made you feel, Cory included.

After the show, he came out to sign autographs and take photos. I knew I had to meet him. When it was my turn, I looked at him and I said “You were phenomenal. I know a lot of musicians, I’ve known every drummer this band has had. You were amazing. You played beautifully. I just had to say that you’re a great drummer. ” He looked at me, with genuine eyes and an authentic smile, and said “thank you”. We took our photo then I left.

Years passed, and I heard of him entering rehab for drug and alcohol addiction. I heard a lot of negativity about this and I thought of musicians, artists, actors, and other people who have gone through similar. Imagine yourself going through the pressure of what they deal with. It’s not so easy. Addiction is a disease. There are artists who can push through it such as Russell Brand,  and some that even after trying so hard, just can’t, such as Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin.

Months later, I heard of his passing. Heroin and alcohol is what they said. I am brought back to my good friend, an amazing musician as well, who died from an overdose just months before Cory passed; and it all seems real again. I break down. I think of his band mates, friends, loved ones and family. I break down for a bit and it’s hard.

People talk about the actor and celebrity factor of it all, but others have come to forget he was a musician as well. This was someone whose drumming could calm the most panicked hearts. I cry to think we will never hear it live again. We are just left with his memory, the recordings, and photographs. This amazing musician, gone too soon. This amazing artist, we will always miss.

Addiction is real and it affects millions around the world daily. If you or anyone you know is affected by this, talk to them. Talk to someone. Get help. Music culture is a family, and we are here to help.

By Toni Rivera

Each week, would like to feature your true and personal stories about meeting your favorite musician. Indie bands have some of the most social and outgoing musicians, and many times people have been given the chance to speak with them after shows, take photos, and simply discuss how their music has touched our lives! If you want to share a story about meeting your favorite indie artists, let us know by sending an email to, and it could be featured on the site!

Drug Addiction Help Online. Suicide Prevention Online: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline