Tag Archives: Easy Killer Records

Mandolyn Mae is the next artist you need to know

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Photo by Teri Cwiek Photography

There are some really amazing albums coming out next week, and one of them is by indie pop darling Mandolyn Mae. She exudes a delicate, honest approach to music that makes her tunes both heartfelt and hauntingly emotional. Not only is she capable of tackling her favorite hardcore songs and giving them a completely different approach, but also, Mandolyn Mae is dedicated and inspiring, two traits that resonate beautifully through her work. Below, she discusses exactly what inspires her the most, her intense love for Beyonce, and what we can expect from this budding musician, as she gets ready for her full length album, Once,  to arrive next week.

TheIndieSD: How did you go about choosing the cover songs for your EP Cover2Cover?

Mandolyn Mae: People wouldn’t peg me as a hardcore music listener, but I’ve been listening to heavy music since I was 12. So when we were trying to decide which songs to do I thought I’d pick from songs that I love. There is also a very large diversity in the songs I chose so we could reach people that were in different age ranges. Like the guys that grew up on Further Seems Forever and the guys like me who grew up on Underoath.

TISD: Why did you decide to start off with a cover album? Was it a project that you always wanted to do?

MM: I actually didn’t start out with a cover album! My very first step into the music world was an EP of all originals called “The Thief”. It’s not online or anything, you can only get it at my shows [so] not many people know about it. But why I chose to do this cover album was because my dad was a hardcore music producer and my very first concert was at a hardcore show with the full on moshing and everything! That was when I was 13. Anyway, when we sat down to think about what my next music step would be it seemed fitting that we would do something out of the box but also something really close to my heart. It was REALLY fun recreating these songs!

Mae’s rendition of Of Mice & Men’s “Second & Sebring” is the perfect example of how to recreate a song.

TISD: What musical experience did you have before Cover2Cover. When did you first start performing and songwriting, and what was that like?

MM: Well my first tour that I went on was with Alive In Standby and Trees Above Mandalay and that was SO much fun. They’re all such fun, sweet and professional  guys. It was definitely a great first tour for me to be on. Then after that I was on a little bit of a tour with Sparks the Rescue, Rookie of the Year, Jimmie Deghan and my friend Tidewater and that was awesome as well. I loved being on the road with all of those guys. Those were both before Cover2Cover.

TISD: What inspires your songwriting process the most?

MM: My faith is a huge deal to me, so I’d say that that’s a big part of my inspiration. God has held my hand through every moment in my life, both good and bad, and why would I NOT want to share that, you know? Love also inspires. Being loved is something that every person desires so I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t inspire me.

TISD: Your single “Hurricane” is particularly uplifting! Are you inspired by your religion when you write songs?

MM: Yes I very much am. Like I said in the previous question, I love sharing the story of how I’ve done none of this on my own; I’ve been lead. God shows up in the most inconvenient times sometimes, but it changed you forever.

TISD: Are there any artists that you really want to collaborate with or plan to collaborate with in the near future?

MM: Well I don’t know of any future collaborations, but my DREAM collaboration would be with Dallas Green of City and Colour. He’s such a musical inspiration to me, plus he’s a fellow Canadian, so that’s a plus. His writing is ridiculously incredible. I’ve always said that he can break my heart and put it back together all in one song. If you can do that to somebody, you’re doing music right.

TISD: Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

MM: Ah! So many! Dallas Green is a huge one. Mat Kearney, Ellie Goulding and Jeff Buckley. Oh, and can I just say I also have an intense love for Beyonce? She’s like my ideal self. If I were a diva and were married to Jay-Z. Like I don’t want to be her in the creepy/stalker way, I want to be like her in the sweet, loving and kind way. You know what I’m talking about!

TISD: I know you play the ukulele on stage quite often. Are there any other instruments you play and incorporate into your music or your live performances?

MM: Well, kind of. I dabble in the world of keys but I wouldn’t classify myself as a “keys player” quite yet. I do have a wonderful fella that plays beside me at almost every show and we double up on ukuleles and that’s always so much fun!

TISD: You had the chance to perform at SXSW as a part of their acoustic series. Tell me about that experience! What kind of reception did you see for your music?

MM: SXSW was so much fun!! I didn’t really get to see much of it because we drove down, then drove back home and that’s like a 13 hours drive both ways, but what I did see was amazing. So many people that loved every kind of music. It was incredible. What was really fun for me was the night before I played, City and Colour played across the street. I wanted to kiss the ground. Such a fun experience and people seemed to like what I was doing as well. It’s an incredible memory that I’m going to be holding onto for a long time.

TISD: I believe Warped Tour is up next for you. Are you excited about the tour? Will you be speaking with and meeting your fans while you are there?

MM: Yes! I will be playing in Kansas City July 23 and then St. Louis the 24. I’m insanely excited!! I would absolutely love to meet people while I’m there. That’ll be the best part!

TISD: What do you have planned after Warped Tour?

MM: As of now everything is kind of up in the air, but hopefully something soon!

Mandolyn Mae’s next release, Once, will be out next week via Easy Killer Records. In the meantime, preview the album by listening to the beautiful track “The Only Person Alive” at GuitarWorld.com.

More Interviews from artists you should know

A Night with Night Verses

What does Night Verses lead singer Doug Robinson and Ellie Goulding have in common? They both believe that “anything could happen”. Just as Ellie embodies that the-possibilities-are-endless inspiration, Robinson had a similar glint in his eye when he told me, “Everything happens for a reason.” This was the highlight of my time spent with the singer, who exuded a humbling demeanor and a vibrant love for music during our interview at SOMA San Diego.

I arrived at SOMA to speak with Robinson, and I didn’t know what to expect. His internet presence is whimsical and fun-loving — at least a glance at Tumblr will show that. But in person, a very down-to-earth Robinson walked me to a side hallway so that we could get down to music business. To say that I was nervous (and a bit starstruck — I’m admitting it!), would be an understatement. I was already familiar with Robinson’s previous musical enterprise The Sleeping, and he surprisingly opened up a lot about his former band.

When I was first introduced to the music of The Sleeping, I had barely gotten my feet wet in the world of post-hardcore. But I’ve always been easily attracted to music that not only is relatable but can be felt, from the riffs to the lyrics. Robinson has an uncanny ability to pour his heart out in every word, and the same could be said from talking to him in person.

He spoke like a scholar when it came to the Sleeping, as if he knew their time has passed, but it passed for a reason. A series of events, both personal and business related, would lead him up to his new project, Night Verses.

Much like his earlier musical ventures, Night Verses brings a similar attention to detail with powerful rhythm and riffs you can mosh to, while also seeming to offer a cathartic outlet for Robinson’s thoughtful lyrics. Add in the modern acumen and flair of Nick DePirro on guitar, Reilly Herrera on bass, and drummer Aric Improta, and you have a serious contender in the hardcore game.

Though whether or not Night Verses will play the music “game” remains to be seen. Robinson almost laments when he discusses the music industry’s obsession with “mainstream” fare, as he promises that with him, it’s always been about the art. Where a few bands have created what he describes as a “cash crop” experience with their careers, Robinson tells me that he’s in it for the feels.

His use of the term “cash crop” is so smart (and so intuitive of someone who’s been in the music industry for nearly ten years), that I find myself using the term still to this day. Robinson is spot on with his analysis of the music market, whether he’s offering insight or gushing over his influences. Either way, I quickly find that he has truly learned — a lot.

We even share a moment of scholarly clarity when Robinson mentions that reading a certain novel created a catalyst for change in his life. My eyes light up and I fan-girl when he names that novel, a book that also moved me when I first read it — Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. (And if you haven’t read it, go read it now! It will change your life, much like it did mine, and much like it did Robinson’s.)

Robinson offers a few insights into his personal life, and he dances on the cusp of letting me know exactly what events in his life helped to propel his decisions in his music career. While all the circumstances aren’t clear, it’s almost obvious that Robinson came to a few crossroads in his journey, and he chose the paths that continued to create and spark music worth listening to.

And Night Verses is definitely worth listening to. If there’s anything I have learned about the fans of post-hardcore music, it’s that they can sniff out any artist who isn’t being genuine. They crave sincerity in their music choices and artists, a trait that is pretty noble, if I might add. Night Verses only offers the best, and their debut album  Lift Your Existence will not disappoint any of those detail-oriented fans.

Lift Your Existence, which will be out June 25th via Easy Killer Records, is a hardcore dream, complete with beautifully sculpted melodies and those insightful lyrics that fans have come to love with Robinson’s music. Tracks like “Rage”  paint emotions with finesse instead of bashing them over your head with crude and cliche themes. “Time Erases Time” translates with just the right balance of power and pathos as Robinson screams the word “passionate” over syncopated rhythms. You can hear a bit of The Sleeping as an influence of course, but by the end of the album it’s clear that Night Verses is its own powerful machine with the influences of DePirro, Herrera and Improta keeping that machine very well oiled.

What started as almost a chance meet for Robinson, turned out to be just the right series of events to get him back on track with his creative music outlet. And the product of that encounter, Night Verses, has proved that for some musicians, everything happens for a reason.

Check out this preview for Lift Your Existence below, and let me know your thoughts! Lift Your Existence drops next week on June 25th, but pre-order is available now through the band’s website.

More new music

Easy Killer Records promises diversity and dedication

easykiller_logo_white_the_indie_sd“We are defined in life by how we respond to defeat.” Truer words were never spoken, and these words say a lot about the latest record label on the musical scene, Easy Killer Records, featuring acts such as Night Verses, The Company We Keep, and Brian Marquis. With owners Mike Judy and Kevin Gales behind the wheel, this music-making vehicle is bound to break some speed limits (and top charts.) Both owners have an extensive background in the music industry, but it’s their personable and dedicated approach to the label that makes their experience all about the music. According to a press release, The Company We Keep stated, “We’re very excited to have Easy Killer in our corner as we finally release an LP. It’s comforting to actually know the people in charge, and we trust that we will be able to do big things together.”

Big things are bound to come their way. We got the chance to chat with Mike and Kevin about their new venture, and Kevin shares some deeply personal events that have helped to mold the way he sees life. Read on if you’re curious about the inner workings and the story behind how much of your favorite music comes to life!

TheIndieSD: Tell me about the “mantra” of Easy Killer. What kind of artists are you looking to share with the world? What kind of themes do you want your label to be about? What do you want “Easy Killer” to be synonymous with?

Mike Judy: Honesty. Diversity. Musicianship. We want to bring in artists that are genuine about honing their craft, regardless of the genre they choose to perform.

Kevin Gales: Damn. That’s an outstanding question. When you’re committed to resourcing artists to bring their message to the world, some of those messages are gonna conflict with one another. Resourcing good musicians to do good work, no matter the style of genre….that’s what we’re about.

TISD: Has starting a record label always been in the plans for your music careers?

MJ: Kevin has run a few labels in the past, so this isn’t his first time doing something like this. Me, I’ve just always known that I want to do something in this industry. Booking shows for the past decade or so has certainly aided me in gathering the sort of knowledge ya need to pull off something like this.

KG: This is my third label released through a major, so yes, I think there is definitely a place for a company to help and resource good musicians. I enjoy that role, definitely.

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Easy Killer Records artist, Night Verses.

TISD: Mike, since you’ve worked as a concert promoter, you must have some awesome event ideas in store for EK. Any upcoming features and/or events that we can look forward to seeing (and hearing) from EK Records?

MJ: We’ve spoken about a few EK tours, since we’re lucky to have a roster of talented artists that respect one another. It’s really developed into a family atmosphere, especially over these past few months. You’ll also be seeing some rad stuff going on from the four artists of ours who are on Warped Tour this year.

TISD: Tell me about your “process” with a new or potential artist. How did you go about choosing your current, diverse roster? Once signed, what kind of elements do you focus on with the artists on your label?

KG: Almost everyone we look at signing, we try and figure out what it is they’re needing help with. (“Everything!”). So ok, but really. Is it touring? Is it recording? Are you set on every front, but you just don’t have a van? That’s first and then we see how [we] could help, and see if our level of commitment lines up with what they’re thinking and needing. After signing, it’s all about getting that music out there..however we can.

MJ: Like I mentioned earlier, we seek out honest, talented musicians and really focus there. Once we have someone onboard, we just want to make sure they’re active and doing the same sort of things that turned us on to them in the first place.

TISD: Tell me about the best show you’ve attended — any musical experience that really stood out to you and helped shape the way you see music and the music industry.

MJ: Oh geez…So many to choose from. This may not be something that helped shape the way I saw things, but I’d say my favorite show that I’ve attended was in October of ’11 with Thrice, O’Brother, La Dispute, and Moving Mountains. On one hand, there was Thrice, (who I had considered my favorite band for over a decade at that point),  O’Brother, who are close friends of mine, and La Dispute/Moving Mountains, who were two bands that I had really been getting into at the time. Just a stellar tour. On the other hand, it was the night of Game 7 of the World Series, in which my beloved Cardinals were involved. Long story short, the Cards won the World Series that night (I lifted a confused/terrified Michael from O’Brother about 4 feet in the air after the last out) and I got to watch them hoist the trophy during the set of my favorite band. Great times.

Side Note: The tour manager that night was Brian Southall, who I didn’t know personally at the time but is now part of the EK family as a member of The Company We Keep. Small world indeed.

KG: Your readers may not know these bands because they’re all from Canada; this is when I was living there. But I managed and signed a band called Means, back in the day. They had left for their first US tour, and came home just in time for their CD release show in their hometown in Regina Saskatchewan. Not sure how many people were there, but it was for sure a 500 cap venue, and we quit selling tickets after 2000 people. That show was Means, Far From Ruin, The Holly Springs Disaster, and The Fortunate. And it was complete hardcore insanity. Really enjoyed that night. I was there with my daughter who was about  13 at the time. She was scared to death, but she also LOVED the energy and all the crazy fun.

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Mandolyn Mae, an Easy Killer Records artist, has a sweet and sultry acoustic sound.

TISD: Can you divulge in, or at least hint to, any new artists that we may see added to the roster in the upcoming months?

MJ: Sure! All I can say is we’re absolutely keeping with the theme of diversity. Extremely excited to have these guys aboard.

KG: Keep in mind…diversity!

TISD: “We are defined in life by how we respond to defeat.” That’s a beautiful quote featured on your Facebook page! Can you tell me if there is a story or specific meaning for the both of you behind that quote?

KG: It takes very little to be a good person or good man when things are going well. But whether we like it or not, we are all measured by our dialogue with failure and loss. Not many people know this, but I have daughter with Downs Syndrome, and I also had a son who died when he was 9 months old. These weren’t failures, but when Joseph died, it was surely a loss. After his death, Hannah was born, and when we realized she’d be challenged, we couldn’t help but feel a certain type of defeat. If I’m being totally honest, I failed Hannah miserably in that very first day or two. But Hannah is an amazing person, God, just love her to death, and she’s key member of our family, and a huge person in my life. There’s no real story attached to that quote, only that Mike and I believe it whole heartedly.

MJ: It was Kevin’s quote, and while it doesn’t apply to one specific event, it can apply to many different times in life. It’s something to remind you that it’s when times are the worst that you can show your true colors, and come out for the  better because of it. The origin of the name “Easy Killer” is relevant here as well. It of course means to take it easy, don’t get too bummed when things are going rough. “Take it easy, killer. Things will get better.”

TISD: Was starting the label a difficult or easy process? Were there any major hurdles that threatened to get in the way of creating your business?

MJ: I think the largest hurdle was really pulling everything off the way we wanted to initially, and that was to make an instant splash. In order to do this, we needed to establish a full, diverse roster right away. This was a bit tricky since we were trying to sign everyone before we were a publicly launched entity, and they had to aboard with the concept of initially signing to an invisible label. Luckily, we were able to garner heavy trust with all of our artists in the early going, mainly due to past experiences (me booking them, Kevin recording them as a producer, etc). Now that we’ve gotten over that hump, the fun part has started. We’re thrilled with where we’re at right now.

KG: I don’t think there’s anything particularly tough about starting a label. Keeping it running and such is much more difficult. I think our launch was unique in that we wanted to come out of the gate with a fully established roster. Doing that took a ton a resources up front, lots of work, lots of planning [and] coordinating. And it’s still hard, but it’s great and we believe in our artists, our company, and each other for sure.

For more information about Easy Killer Records (and Apparel!), definitely check out their official website.