Albums added to the library 10/27 – 12/13/19

10/27 – 11/1:
Cigarettes After Sex – Cry
Mikal Cronin – Seeker
Floating Points – Crush
Little Dragon – “Tongue Kissing” [Single]
David Byrne – American Utopia Cast Recording
Patrick Watson – Wave
Oracle Porpoise – Parkas In The Pool
The Duskwhales – Take It Back
Catholic Action – “One of Us” [Single]
Matt Maltese – “Jupiter” [Single]
Zero 7 – “Swimmers (feat. Jem Cooke)” [Single]
Magic Sword – Awakening
Desert Sessions – “Crucifire” [Single]
Geoffroy – 1952
Elephant Gym – “Gaze at Blue” [Single]
The Drums – “I Didn’t Realize” b/w “You Lied” [Single]
Refused – War Songs
Matt And Kim – “MONEY” [Single]
Squirrel Flower – “Red Shoulder” [Single]
David Graff – Supposed to Fly
JIM ALXNDR – “Slave” [Single]
David Kowal – A Different Blue
Telemarket – “A: Wide Awake” [Single]
Subi – “Red Dress” [Single]
Mike Notez – “Leave Wit You” [Single]
The Deer – Do No Harm
Natalie Walker – Evenfall
Gamma Dog – “Designer Love” [Single]
Fime – Sprawl
Pernice Brothers – Spread The Feeling
Sam Weber – Everything Comes True
Thomas Mudrick – Ten Dollar Soup Collection

11/3 – 11/8:
Rachel Dadd – Flux
Basement Revolver – Wax and Digital
Berhana – HAN
Sean Henry – A Jump From The High Dive
Toro Y Moi – Soul Trash
Common Kings – “Neil Armstrong” [Single]
Sløtface – Sorry for the Late Reply [Advance Tracks]
Leif Vollebekk – New Ways
Landon Elliott – Domino
Vetiver – Up On High
Dan Deacon – “Sat By A Tree” [Single]
Wolf & Moon – Before It Gets Dark
Anti-Flag – “Hate Conquers All” [Single]
No Vacation – Phasing
Star Parks – “Oh Boredom (Shmaltz City, USA)” [Single]
Geowulf – My Resignation
The Growlers – Natural Affair
Dirtwire – Electric River
The Lovepools – “White Lies and Palm Trees” [Single]
Haddon Cord – “All I Want” [Single]
Wax – B.A.A.A
Beyond Chaotic – This Can’t Be Good
Joel Paterson – Let It Be Guitar!
Bob Bradshaw – Story Goes
Jason Hawk Harris – Love & The Dark
Written By Wolves – Secrets
Jonathon Bree – “Cover Your Eyes” b/w “Waiting on the Moment” [Single]
Pat Irwin & J. Walker Hayes – Wide Open Sky
Coyote Kid – Skeleton Man
Tom Devil & The Wizard – “The Ground” [Single]
Chris Waters – “As It Seems” [Single]
Izy – “Moon” [Single]
Milly – Our First Four Songs
Malou Beauvoir – “Papa Damballah” [Single]
The Districts – “Hey Joe” [Single]
Elephant Stone – “Hollow World” [Single]
Pat Lok – “Somebody” [Single]
Run River North – Monsters Calling Home, Vol. 2
The Orphan The Poet – Queen Cobra EP
Deerhunter – “Timebends” [Single]
FKA Twigs – “Sad Day” [Single]
Algiers – “Dispossession” [Single]
Desert Sessions – Vols. 11 & 12
Lapsley – “My Love Was Like The Rain” [Single]

11/10-11/15:
Matt Maltese – Krystal
Mourning Routine – “Too Much” [Single]
Pink Martini – Tomorrow / Besame Mucho
Green Buzzard – Amidst the Clutter & Mess
Fran – A Private Picture
Pendant – Through the Coil
Square Peg Round Hole – Branches
SebastiAn – Thirst
Allen Stone – Building Balance
Brother Ali – Secrets & Escapes
Illuminati Hotties – “Ppl Plzr” [Single]
Dessa and the Minnesota Orchestra – Sound the Bells: Recorded Live at Orchestra Hall
TORRES – “Good Scares” [Single]
CocoRosie – “Smash My Head” [Single]
Ásgeir – “Youth” [Single]
Roman Lewis – Something to Care About
Margaux – More Brilliant is the Hand that Throws the Coin
Roman Lewis – “Something to Care About” [Single]
Aunty Social – The Day My Brain Broke
Tōth – “Juliette” [Single]
Kelly Bado – “Hey Earth” [Single]
Darksoft – BRAIN
Strange Case – “27 Club” [Single]
Boyscott – Goose Bumps

11/17-11/22:
Calibro 35 – “Stan Lee (feat. Illa J)” [Single]
Menahan Street Band – “New Day Coming” [Single]
Varsity – Basement Takes
Tyler Meacham – Property
Daniel Pearson – “Down the Tracks” [Single]
Telemarket – You Deserve A Hard Day’s Work After a Long Night’s Rest
Suggested Friends – Turtle Taxi
Hoops – “They Say” [Single]
ALTA – Reasons
BRONCHO – Bad Behavior (Remix EP)
Soccer Mommy – “yellow is the color of her eyes” [Single]
Tim Ayre – Time Ayre [EP]
Various Artists – 30th Century Compilation
Bryce Bangs – “I Want All Your Love” [Single]
Luke Lalonde – The Perpetual Optimist
Yann Tiersen – “Closer (feat. Blonde Redhead)” [Single]
AQVOL – Honey Berry Butterfly [EP]
Wide Mouth Mason – I Wanna Go With You
Susanne Sunfør – Music for People in Trouble: Live from the Barbican
No Win – “Blood On Your Tooth” [Single]
11/24-11/29:
Iguana Death Cult – Nude Casino
OMNI – Networker
Caroline Says – Ohio River
Dark Below – “Halo” [Single]
Jenny Teator – “Daughter of the Devil” [Single]
Heathcote Hill – Fight Another Day
The Lavender Scare – Hand Me Down Kingdom Come
Quantic – “Orquíeda feat. Sly5thAve (Sampology Remix)” [Single]
Quantic – “September Blues (Dan Shake Remix)” [Single]
Bryony Jarman-Pinto – “Sweet Sweet” b/w “Sweet Sweet (Wu-Lu Remix)” [Single]
Troi Irons – Lost Angels
Electric Neon Clouds – Memories
Heartstreets – Why Make Sense Revisited 1 & 2
Macseal – Super Enthusiast
SONOFDOV – Towers
Prism Tats – “Tenderness” [Single]
Christopher Paul Stelling – “Trouble Don’t Follow Me” [Single]

12/1-12/6:
Colony House – “Original Material” [Single]
Gen Hoshino – Same Thing [EP]
Ratboys – “Alien With A Sleep Mask On”
Alexandria Maillot – Benevolence
Arbor Labor Union – “Flowerhead” [Single]
Various Artists – 30th Century Compilation Vol. II
Waax – “History” [Single]
Klingande – The Album
Blue Vervain – Demos & Alternate Takes
Will Samson – Paralanguage
dj poolboi – Forever Yours EP
Fern Mayo – Week of Charm
Meghan & Caitlin – Bad Terms
DJ Shadow – Our Pathetic Age
The Milk Carton Kids – “The Only Ones” [Single]
Wolf Parade – “Against the Day” [Single]
D Minor – “Homerun (Feat. Zeek Power)” [Single]
Catherine MacLellan – Coyote
ROOKIE – “Too Late To Pray Defiant Chicago Roots” [Single]
Nat Coles and the Blue Diamond Band – “Standing on the Corner Alone” [Single]
The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin Recorded at Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony
Tennyson – Telescope EP
Antibalas – “Fight Am Finish” [Single]
Little Monarch – Grains [EP]
Palace – Life After
Alex Ebert – “Stronger” [Single]
Various Artists – So Many Singing Vol. 2
Various Artists – Athens Resonates
Approachable Members of Your Local Community – “Strangest Places (feat. Dulcie)” [Single]
The Undercover Dream Lovers – It’s All In Your Head
Kid Nobody – discretion
Ian George – Kingdom of My Youth
Caveboy – “I Wonder” [Single]
Courtney Love – “Mother” [Single]
Soccer Mommy – “Feed” [Single]
Poliça – “Forget Me Now” [Single]
Jonah Mutono – “Shoulders” b/w “Circulation” [Single]
Hello Forever – “Some Faith” b/w “Colors in the Sky” [Single]
GARZA – “Where the Moon Hides” [Single]

12/8-12/13:
Shopping – “Initiative” [Single]
Kenny Tudrick – “LIGHTNING BYRD” [Single]
Ephemerals – “Blur” [Single]
Jon Hopkins & Kelly Lee Owens – “Luminous Spaces” [Single]
Squirrel Flower – “Headlights” [Single]
Ollie – “Broken Down” [Single]

birnCORE Live featuring Weakened Friends, Lady Pills and Mom Rock is next week!

Get your tickets to birnCORE Live, fall 2019! The show is next Thursday, December 5 at 8:00 p.m. featuring Weakened Friends, Lady Pills and Mom Rock.

Admission is $10 in advance, with a student discount for $8, and can be purchased here.

To win a pair of tickets to the show send an email with your contact phone number to tickets@thebirn.com. Make sure you have birnCORE Live as the subject for the email! Good Luck and see you next week.

Kate Davis – The BIRN Interview

It’s been a long wait for Kate Davis to finally showcase her debut album to the world. Growing up a jazz musician, Davis’s musical journey took an unexpected turn–she went from a young teen playing bass in the Grammy Jazz Ensemble to becoming an indie rock singer-songwriter as she entered adulthood. After immersing herself in the New York City music scene for years, performing at almost every iconic New York venue you can think of from The Bowery Electric to Carnegie Hall, she is now touring worldwide to promote Trophy— her latest creation.

BIRN: You must’ve written tons of songs leading up to this release, how did you figure out which songs would fit under the theme of “Trophy”? Did you ever feel disappointed about eliminating certain songs?

KD: I definitely eliminated a bunch of songs – my contenders list for Trophy was quite long. I was looking through every song I had ever written just to make sure I had the perfect track listing for my first album. Some of the songs were written very recently and had a different kind of maturity so they were pretty obvious choices. Some of the older songs needed a little reworking, a change of perspective, or a smarter approach to the arrangement. Production helped to bring all of the songs to the same universe. I am really happy with how the songs on Trophy reflect my journey as a songwriter, but also a person.

BIRN: Your song “Open Heart” is such a unique play on the concept of open heart surgery. What’s the story behind it?

KD: I wrote Open Heart a long time ago – I had only been writing for couple of years at that point and was still working on the basics. My dad told me that it wouldn’t be the worst thing if I wrote from my clever side… He was a smart guy and liked smart songs. Around the same time I had a dream about an ex boyfriend involving a game of operation. It was a very surreal and vivid dream. Perfect song fodder. I pieced together a story and tried to be more thoughtful about its construction so that it wasn’t just another song about a relationship.

BIRN: The visuals for Trophy make a pretty bold statement – the album cover is a snapshot of you dressed up in sparkly attire on stage with a frozen facial expression, and your music video for “rbbts” in contrast includes scenes of you drowning in a bathtub and dancing in darkness. Can you talk about what inspired these images?

KD: Life! I think we experience a huge range of emotions as humans and even if our lives aren’t necessarily lived out through emotional bathtub scenes, that doesn’t mean we don’t relate to the experience of feeling the burdens of sadness or grief. The visuals are another way to interpret these pretty basic human experiences that I sing about throughout the record. I hope that the visuals for this album help set the backdrop for the songs and perhaps offer even greater perspective.

BIRN: What do you hope to achieve as an artist between this album release and your next project?

KD: I am of the opinion that good songs are the most important thing an artist can produce and posses. I have been feverishly writing for my next album, but hope that the songs and spirit on Trophy will help take my music and me around the world. I want enough people to care about my work that I just keep getting to make it. Creating a record and refining my aesthetic as an artist has been the most fulfilling part of my life so far.

BIRN: You co-wrote “Seventeen” with Sharon Van Etten on her latest album, which explores the progression of time over generations. What are your personal reflections on witnessing a new generation being born into the same world you live in?

KD: When we were writing the song together, it seemed like I was representing the younger generation that Sharon was sending this empathetic message to. Working with Sharon to relay a message to her younger self was powerful – I took a lot took away from the experience and it encouraged me to be even kinder to my current self. Seeing the younger generation, it’s obvious that they are living in a different world than the one I came up in. In some ways they seem to be more wise and more aware, but still struggle with more modern issues. I feel a deep respect for the younger generation because they have the power and the desire to make change. Not that the older generations don’t – it’s just as much our responsibility – but the younger ppl I know are strong, unique, informed, sensitive (all traits we should all aspire to). Even in the age of living online, they are not afraid to be real.

BIRN: What would you consider to be a “productive” co-writing session?

KD: Anything that yields work that you feel proud of.

BIRN: You’ve performed all over New York City but you’re originally from Portland, Oregon. What would you say are the differences between both cities’ live music scenes?

KD: I love Portland and I am very grateful for the classical and jazz scenes that I got to grow up in. Both deeply affected that musician that I would ultimately become. Since I was much younger, my time in Portland was much more about institutions, education, private lessons, and high school band experiences. It was very specific. I had so many mentors who were so kind and generous and parents who were committed to seeing me through the best possible education in music. Out here in NYC I’ve experienced more of a community of peers. Though I am still a very diligent student of music, I learn and experience things now in a much different way. If anything, the scene out here is more conducive to my current aspirations and learning goals as an artist. It’s amazing to have access to a diverse music community and to a city that is overflowing with artists of all kinds.

BIRN: As a music school alumni, do you have any special words for current Berklee students who are unsure of where their path in music will take them?

KD: Sometimes I wish that I could go back and tell my freshman year self that its ok to take the path less traveled. Music education extends far beyond the classroom walls. Never doubt that you know what you like. Knowing pretty early on that I wanted to break away from what was expected of me, I definitely was working towards becoming a unique artist. It was just hard to go in 100%. I settled into two separate lives where I would “work” for money and write for fun. Life circumstances make everything more complicated, but if you know what you want, be bold. Trust your instincts and work as hard as you can to get to the place that you dream about. Most importantly though, don’t regret anything. Every part of the journey helps guide you to where you gotta go – even if parts are pretty brutal.

Tune into birnCORE to hear indie rock artist Kate’s live performance at Cafe 939 with Jesse Ruben coming up on Saturday, November 16!

The show starts at 8 PM and you can stream it here.

The BIRN has a pair of tickets for you to win to see this show. To win the tickets, send an email and your contact phone number to tickets@thebirn.com by Thursday, November 14 at 11:59 p.m. Make sure to have Kate and Jesse in the subject line. The winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

This week on the BIRN!

Tune in to birnCORE on tonight at 8:00 p.m. for a live broadcast from the Red Room @ Cafe 939 featuring London based artist Puma Blue (also known as Jacob Allen) and New York City’s Gabe Goodman. Both artists bring fresh and exciting sounds to the singer songwriter genre. The show starts at 8:00 p.m. and you can stream it here.

Wellington, New Zealand’s Graeme James is multi-talented folk artist with over 300,000 monthly spotify listeners. He makes a stop in Boston on his way across the US in support of his latest release, The Long Way Home. New England based singer and songwriter Will Orchard gets the show rolling. Listen to the show on Thursday, November 7 at 8:00 p.m. right here.

At a 18 years old, Emily Bear is already a celebrated pianist, composer and vocalist. Check out the exclusive BIRN interview with Emily on Friday, November 8 at 7:00 p.m. before her show at Cafe 939 that night. Tune in here.

Guitarist and vocalist, Aubrey Haddard is our featured artist on BIRN Alive this Saturday, November 9 at 4:00 p.m. EST. Listen to her live set and insightful interview on birn1 here.

The BIRN has a pair of tickets for you to win to see Kate Davis and Jesse Ruben live at Cafe 939 on Saturday, November 16. To win the tickets, send an email and your contact phone number to tickets@thebirn.com by Thursday, November 14 at 11:59 p.m. Make sure to have Kate and Jesse in the subject line. The winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

We are very happy to announce that the fall 2019 birnCORE Live show will take place on Thursday, December 5 and will feature Boston and Portland based indy noise band, Weakened Friends. Tickets are $8 for students. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Added to the library 10/20 – 11/8

10/20 – 10/25:
Konradsen – Saints and Sebastian Stories
Emily King – Change of Scenery: Remix EP
Marcus King Band – “The Well” [Single]
Mayer Hawthorne – “Over” [Single]
Humbird – Pharmakon
Caveboy – “Silk for Gold” [Single]
Rollingchild – Post Party Depression
Bootstraps – Demo Love
Leif Vollebekk – New Ways [Advanced Tracks]
Bad Dreems – Doomsday Ballet
Eli Moon – Bodies
Kllo – “Back to You” [Single]
Landon Elliott – “Hometown Hero” [Single]
Andrew Neil – Freak
Koosh Saxena – Sail With Me EP
Creepy Monday – Sleepy Sunday
Jim James, Teddy Abrams, & The Louisville Orchestra – The Order of Nature
Poliça – “Driving” [Single]
Craig Finn – “It’s Never Been A Fair Fight” [Single]
Tourist – “Kin” b/w “So” [Single]
Danny Brown – uknowhatimsayin
NoKillShelter – “Sweetheart (feat. Clear Mortifee)” [Single]
Stephen Bishop – We’ll Talk About It Later In The Car
Fly My Pretties – The Studio Recordings
Multimagic – Move On
Ice Cream – “Dove’s Cry” [Single]
TOPS – “Seven Minutes” b/w “Echo of Dawn” [Single]
Eliza Shaddad – “Girls” [Single]
Longwave – If We Ever Live Forever
Alex Bloom – Chaos / Control
Great Grandpa – Four of Arrows
Anna of the North – Dream Girl
Claud – Sideline Star EP

10/27 – 11/1:
Cigarettes After Sex – Cry
Mikal Cronin – Seeker
Floating Points – Crush
Little Dragon – “Tongue Kissing” [Single]
David Byrne – American Utopia Cast Recording
Patrick Watson – Wave
Oracle Porpoise – Parkas In The Pool
The Duskwhales – Take It Back
Catholic Action – “One of Us” [Single]
Matt Maltese – “Jupiter” [Single]
Zero 7 – “Swimmers (feat. Jem Cooke)” [Single]
Magic Sword – Awakening
Desert Sessions – “Crucifire” [Single]
Geoffroy – 1952
Elephant Gym – “Gaze at Blue” [Single]
The Drums – “I Didn’t Realize” b/w “You Lied” [Single]
Refused – War Songs
Matt And Kim – “MONEY” [Single]
Squirrel Flower – “Red Shoulder” [Single]
David Graff – Supposed to Fly
JIM ALXNDR – “Slave” [Single]
David Kowal – A Different Blue
Telemarket – “A: Wide Awake” [Single]
Subi – “Red Dress” [Single]
Mike Notez – “Leave Wit You” [Single]
The Deer – Do No Harm
Natalie Walker – Evenfall
Gamma Dog – “Designer Love” [Single]
Fime – Sprawl
Pernice Brothers – Spread The Feeling
Sam Weber – Everything Comes True
Thomas Mudrick – Ten Dollar Soup Collection

11/3 – 11/8:
Rachel Dadd – Flux
Basement Revolver – Wax and Digital
Berhana – HAN
Sean Henry – A Jump From The High Dive
Toro Y Moi – Soul Trash
Common Kings – “Neil Armstrong” [Single]
Sløtface – Sorry for the Late Reply [Advance Tracks]
Leif Vollebekk – New Ways
Landon Elliott – Domino
Vetiver – Up On High
Dan Deacon – “Sat By A Tree” [Single]
Wolf & Moon – Before It Gets Dark
Anti-Flag – “Hate Conquers All” [Single]
No Vacation – Phasing
Star Parks – “Oh Boredom (Shmaltz City, USA)” [Single]
Geowulf – My Resignation
The Growlers – Natural Affair

Jerry Gates Interviews Jorge Perez of Patáx

On Tuesday, November 5, Berklee alumnus Jorge Perez presents the American version of his European sensation Patáx live at the Berklee Performance Center. The concert features faculty artists, as well as students from Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and is directed by contemporary writing and production professor Jerry Gates.

Listen to Jerry’s pre-show conversation with Jorge about all things Patáx.

New adds to the digital music library 10/13-10/25

New adds to the digital music library 10/13-10/25

10/13-10/18:

Allah-Las – LAHS
Pearly – “Chain of Coral” [Single]
Big search – “Thin Veil of Time” [Single]
Tino Drima – Suitin’ Up
BARRIE – Happy to Be Here
The World of Birds – “Honey Money” [Single]
Caribou – “Home” [Single]
Hovvdy – “Mr. Lee” b/w “Cathedral” [Single]
Gengahr – “Everything and More” [Single]
Vetiver – “Wanted, Never Asked” [Single]
Vetiver – “Swaying” [Single]
Vetiver – “To Who Knows Where” [Single]
Dr JOE – “Good Days” [Single]
Matt and Kim – “GO GO” [Single]
Remo Drive – “Romeo” [Single]
Wilco – Ode to Joy
Gen Hoshino – “Same Thing (feat. Superorganism)” [Single]
Sonofdov – “Towers” [Single]
Wildlife – Take The Light With You
Lagwagon – Railer
Common Holly – When I say to you Black Lightning
Louise Burns – “Cry” [Single]
Anna Nalick – The Blackest Crow
Begonia – Fear
Kelly Hoppenjans – “Band-Aid Girl” [Single]
Kelly Hoppenjans – “Growing My Hair” [Single]
Kelly Hoppenjans – “If I Had You” [Single]
The Deer – “Confetti to the Hurricane” b/w “Move to Girls” [Single]
Archi & Pelago – “Rockefeller” [Single]
Quiet Hounds – Everything Else is Noise
Future Crib – Friends
Jeff Denson, Brian Blade, Romain Pilon – Between Two Worlds
Juana Molina – Forfun
Shana Falana – Darkest Light
Gregory Ackerman – Stresslove EP
Luke Lalonde – “The Perpetual Optimist” [Single]
Tim Ayre – “Not Like It Should Be” [Single]
Thomas Dybdahl – “45” [Single]
Nick De La Hoyde – “Ghost” [Single]
Raiza Biza – Bygones
Lankum – “The Young People” [Single]
Gavin Haley – Long Game [EP]
SebastiAn – “Sober (feat. Bakar)” [Single]
Little Monarch – “For My Own Sake” [Single]
PHONY – Songs You’ll Never Sing
Dead Soft – Big Blue
Son Little – invisible [ep]
Paper Lions – Stay Together
HALFNOISE – Natural Disguise

10/20 – 10/25:
Konradsen – Saints and Sebastian Stories
Emily King – Change of Scenery: Remix EP
Marcus King Band – “The Well” [Single]
Mayer Hawthorne – “Over” [Single]
Humbird – Pharmakon
Caveboy – “Silk for Gold” [Single]
Rollingchild – Post Party Depression
Bootstraps – Demo Love
Leif Vollebekk – New Ways [Advanced Tracks]
Bad Dreems – Doomsday Ballet
Eli Moon – Bodies
Kllo – “Back to You” [Single]
Landon Elliott – “Hometown Hero” [Single]

BIRN Album Review: forevher by Shura

Shura’s 2019 release forevher, is a contrast to her debut release Nothing’s Real which displayed a complex mixture of anxiety and joy. In forevher, Shura channeled these emotions again with a lighter and livelier tone with a subtle flare of funk grooves reminiscent of 70’s and 80’s.

A constant romantic atmosphere is apparent throughout the album especially in “BKLYNLDN” which was written to capture the feeling of being together for the first time with someone you’ve been in a long-distance relationship with. The laidback and easy-going nature of this song clearly depicts this dreamy feeling and makes the listener feel as if in Shura’s shoes. The euphoric storyline of “BKLYNLDN” is continued in “religion (u can lay your hands on me),” vividly portraying being head over heels in love. This song’s breathy and effortless vocals lay over a groovy beat that’s as addictive to listen to as the feeling illustrates.

The mood of the album takes a turn on songs like “princess leia” and “flyin,” highlighting Shura’s anxious thoughts during long-distance travel. With an album like forevher that focuses on exploring the beginnings of new love, these tracks provide a necessary contrast, showing the listener love’s many dimensions. The dramatic and glowing imagery of these songs are derived from “the stage” and are dispersed throughout the entirety of the album. Every song feels like an “endless dreamscape” with a touch of nostalgia that shines sonically and lyrically up until the last track “skyline, be mine.” This song is brief yet has a significant message painting the picture of embarking on a new journey of love, concluding the album with a pulsating ambience.

Catch Shura and Hannah Cohen Live From the Brighton Music Hall this Tuesday night, October 22. The show starts at 8:30 PM and you can stream it here.

Hiromi – The BIRN Interview

Pianist Hiromi Uehara is a wonder. There are times when it is hard to believe that one person could make the sounds that she makes on the piano at one time, and without having more than 2 hands. When you watch her play the piano you think that you can see what she is thinking in that moment, and imagine that you can also feel what she is feeling. If you allow it to, the experience can definitely take you out of whatever space you are in.

I had the chance to talk with Hiromi via Skype about Spectrum, her new album, which was released on October 4 on Telarc records.

Track Listing:

1. Kaleidoscope
2. Whiteout
3. Yellow Wurlitzer Blues
4. Spectrum
5. Blackbird
6. Mr. C.C.
7. Once In A Blue Moon
8. Rhapsody In Various Shades Of Blue – Medley
9. Sepia Effect

BIRN: Why did you name the album “Spectrum”?

Hiromi: The theme of this album, the concept of this album I decided to be color. I wanted to write about different colors and there are some songs under the color of blue, white, yellow, black and white, sepia, so I collected a number of songs which I wrote under the concept of color.

BIRN: Why did you pick Blackbird as a song to include on your new album and why does that song have special meaning for you?

Hiromi: The first time I heard that song I think I was in high school. It’s such a beautiful song and somehow it touched a deep part of my soul. I’ve been playing this song over and over since then and I never really played it at a show or any public occasions but I’ve always been playing the song. It is one of my favorite songs to play. I was always looking for the right time to record and you know this time the theme of the album was colors and it matches the concept and I decided to record it.

BIRN: I need to ask you about 1 more song on the album, Yellow Wurlitzer Blues because the information in the press release was so interesting. Can you talk about that song and how it came to be?

Hiromi: Yes (laughs.) Some people thought that I am playing a Wurlitzer on this song but actually I am playing a piano. The reason that I wrote this song is that there is one bar that I go to for a hang and I think most musicians want to play when they are hanging. I mean, after you have a couple drinks in you, you want to play your instrument. Unfortunately I don’t play guitar or trumpet so I can’t carry around my instrument. There is one bar that I often go to and I was talking to the owner of the bar, “You know I really want to play, you know, when I’m hanging, but there is no instrument here so I can’t play.” The next time I visited the place, he had bought me a yellow Wurlitzer. “Now you can play at any time.” Now whenever I go there with friends we started to do some sessions. My friends are not necessarily all musicians, they are businesspeople, actors, you know, many different occupations, but I encourage then to sing the blues. Just sing what happened today. How was your day? Just sing along, sing over my chord changes. And they try and it worked! It started to be a lot of fun and we always do that, so that’s why I wanted to dedicate a song to this yellow Wurlitzer.

BIRN: I know the goal of this album is to take a picture of your life and your playing for the last ten years. In 2009 your album Place To Be was a sort of a composite or picture of you as a pianist and as a composer in your 20s and this is the sort of the same thing for your 30s, which is an amazing idea. So my questions is, now that it has been a decade since Place To Be, do you feel very different as an artist, as a composer, pianist or is it more like, you know 10 years is really not that long?

Hiromi: Well, actually, I don’t feel it was that long but as a pianist, I think I feel closer to the piano than I did 10 years ago, put it that way. The more I play, the more time I spend with the instrument, the closer it gets. That’s how I feel. I understand the instrument better. I can get the response I want from the instrument better, so I feel like I am communicating much better than 10 years ago. That’s how I feel. I think I am a little better as a pianist than 10 years ago (laughs.)

BIRN: As a composer, how are you different?

Hiromi: Composing for me is like keeping a journal. I’m trying to write almost every day and some days I can write more than other days. But even one little motif, or just four bars, eight bars, I just try to write what happens, how I felt on that day. Instead of a diary I have this music diary. The more you experience in life, the more things you can write about. I lived 10 years more. I have experienced more things, so as a composer I have a little more to say as well.

BIRN: This is a solo record for you. Tell me what is the best thing about making a solo record and touring solo and what are the harder things about doing that compared to working with other musicians.

Hiromi: It’s a completely different setting, you know, playing with a trio or a duo. When you have somebody to play with on stage it’s like trying to score a goal with passing, like soccer. Being alone on stage is like boxing or judo (laughs). I’m always fighting against yesterday’s myself. I try to play something I haven’t played before and I’m always trying to find new landscapes. In that way I’m making the example of boxing and soccer because we are fighting against ourselves. Having no one to share a thought or be inspired by on stage, like being really alone sometimes is challenging because if you are stuck, you are stuck. You can’t ask anybody. There is nobody to help you. On the other hand you can really be in your own zone because there is nobody to interfere with. When you are there, I feel like, I feel so free. It’s such a beautiful feeling just being on stage, just myself. When you play with other musicians you can’t really hear the overtones of the piano because it’s covered up. You can hear every single detail of the piano (when playing solo) and as a piano fan, I am a piano lover, it is just so enjoyable to hear all these details of the piano and I just enjoy it so much.

BIRN: Is there a difference between your relationship with the audience when you’re playing with a band versus when you’re playing solo?

Hiromi: Well, actually not really. When I play with my band then I would communicate with the band as well as the audience but when I’m playing solo it’s either myself or the audience so it’s not that different, actually. I always try to just enjoy the whole atmosphere. Playing a concert I always feel like I’m the captain of the ship and there are people who just happen to be in the ship who are the audience and I’m the captain to be responsible for the new adventure. When I have a band then I have the crew, right? (Laughs) But when I’m alone and I’m the only captain and the only crew to carry the ship.

BIRN: You seem to share your emotions openly and I think that is one of the many things that people love about watching you is that you’re so expressive, you’re so giving of your emotions whether it’s exuberance or sadness. How does it feel for you when you’re done with a show? Are you completely drained?

Hiromi: (Laughs) Yes, completely drained. You know It’s hard to fall asleep after a show even though I’m so tired because I give everything I have in the show. I always try to think that this is my first show and the last show because the same audience never happens. The same group of people will never be on the ship again, so it’s always new. I always try to make a once a lifetime adventure for me as well as the audience. So when I finish the show, I’m super exhausted. It’s such an interesting feeling that I’m tired but at the same time I’m energized because I love performing. I get so much from the audience as well as I give so much, and it’s like mucho communication. Even though the show is finished I feel like a mini Hiromi is running around in my brain and I’m like, trying to calm down, trying to calm down. It takes a couple of hours to feel, OK, now I can go to sleep.

BIRN: You said during the press tour of your last solo record that you had to be the entire orchestra by yourself in that recording. Has that vision of a solo piano record changed in 10 years?

Hiromi: No, it’s still the same. You know, it’s always my goal and my challenge. Piano is like a complete instrument to me. It’s like the full orchestra itself. It’s the full big band itself and that’s why I wanted to record Rhapsody In Blue this time. When I first heard it I think I was in elementary school, probably like 11 or 12. I was fascinated by all of the orchestra instruments. I found the condensed score for the solo piano version and started to play Rhapsody In Blue solo. I realized, wow, piano can be clarinet, piano can be trumpet. Piano can be bass. Piano can make a groove. Piano can be anything. That’s why I always thought that if I ever have the opportunity to record Rhapsody In Blue, the first time has to be solo, not with an orchestra, just to prove that piano is an orchestra itself. That’s how I felt when I first heard that song.

BIRN: From reading the press release, your version, Rhapsody In Various Shades of Blue, there are some influences that one might not think would fit together. Can you talk about that?

Hiromi: Yes. So, I’ve been playing this song for about 30 years (laughs). I started to just play around with it. I started to insert some other favorite songs of mine within the song. This time the concept of the album is color and Rhapsody In Blue is under the theme of blue, so I decided to gather my favorite songs with blue in the name. One of the songs that I inserted is John Coltrain’s Blue Train and the other is song is Behind Blue Eyes by The Who. It’s like in and out and it comes and goes. In a way it’s probably surprising when you first hear it and it’s like “is this The Who?” Yes, it is surprising but it’s really naturally done. You don’t feel sudden change or anything. It naturally comes and naturally goes. I thought that it’s really interesting that composers see different kinds of blue. I thought that if I insert “blue” songs that I can make the gradation of color. That’s why I decided to put these two songs in. The song is actually 22 minutes and 25 seconds. It’s not actually radio friendly.

BIRN: It is on our station.

Before you came to Berklee in 1999, you did some jingle writing for some companies in Japan, is that correct?

Hiromi: Yes!

BIRN: Was there anything about that experience that you still carry with you or was it like, “I don’t want to do this”?

Hiromi: Oh no! Actually, I got the gig because I was doing some live shows and the boss of the company happened to be in the audience and he said “I think you want to write for visuals.” I always saw visuals when I wrote songs. Sometimes something really clear and sometimes a little more blurred but I always saw certain kinds of landscapes. He encouraged me to do some jingle writing because it’s like writing for short film. 15 second, 30 second film. That’s how I felt. What I remember most was writing for this Nissan car commercial starring Mr. Bean. That was fun. How he moves, his facial expression. You write along with his expression. I really enjoyed it and I still want to write for visuals and hopefully longer scoring. Yea, I enjoy it.

BIRN: Are there a couple of things that you learned at Berklee that you can say are the most important things you learned while you were at school?

Hiromi: The first and most shocking thing that I learned in school is probably that there are countless musicians in this world. Learning the fact of the number of musicians in this world. I had never been to music school. I had some musician friends but not like everyone around me were musicians. I moved to Boston. I’m sitting in the lobby in the 150 building and everyone around me of course are musicians. I think it was like first or second day I realized, wow, all of these people are musicians and all aiming for the same dream. And once I stepped out of the building, I’m walking down the street and I realize there is New England Conservatory, Boston Conservatory. The whole street is packed with musicians. There are only musicians on that street. Wow, if there are that many musicians in the world, what do I really have to say? Why do I really want to connect to the audience? Do I really have something special to say among these people? That had a really big impact on the very first weeks entering Berklee. Than meeting all of these musicians from around the world and playing music with (them). That was another amazing treasure that I had. How they feel rhythm is very different (depending on) where they come from. Everybody has a different way of feeling the groove and feeling the pulse and I thought it was very interesting to learn all of these differences in cultures. In class I was studying composition and arranging, you know studying about all of the instruments that I don’t play. That was really helpful. Even writing for solo piano it is very helpful to understand all of these other instruments. I do write for orchestra. I do write for big band. It was always my dream to write for large ensembles so to make that happen studying that in school was very helpful.

Thank you, Hiromi!

Hiromi is currently touring in support of her new release, Spectrum.

Click here for upcoming live dates.

This week on the BIRN – Win Tickets to see Tom Speight at Cafe 939!

Our birnCORE has a full week packed with amazing live music broadcasts. The week starts off with the upbeat, smart alterna-pop sounds of Okey Dokey. The Nashville based band, led by visual artist Aaron Martin and The Weeks’ guitarist Johny Fisher, released every track on their latest full-length release, Tell All Your Friend as a single beginning in late 2017 before the full album was release this past July. Multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter, Claire Gohst leads her indie rock project, Paper Citizen in for the opening set. The music starts at 8:00 p.m. live from the Red Room @ Cafe 939 on Monday, October 14. Listen to the entire show here.

Salt Late City’s Cinders blends acoustic pop with punk vitality and Sterling, VA’s Sub Radio has an arena sized pop-rock sound. Those two bands are sure to get the crowd going during their live performance on Tuesday, October 15 at Cafe 939. Stream the show from wherever you are here at 8:00 p.m.

Indie folk Singer/songwriter Tom Speight has channeled personal hardships into a stunning collection of songs on his debut full length release Collide. Speight stops in to Boston in the midst of a 13 city world tour. Opening the show is Boston based singer and songwriter, Cheekie, a.k.a. Tyler Maez and Scotland’s Tommy Ashby. Tune in on Thursday, October 17 at 8:00 p.m. for a full night of great songs and performances here. The BIRN would like to give you a pair of tickets to see this show live at Cafe 939! To enter to win the tickets, email tickets@thebirn.com with Tom Speight in the subject line and be sure to include a contact phone number where we can reach you. The winner will get two tickets to the show! Good luck.

Tune in to birnCORE on Friday, October 18 for a full night of inspired live music featuring Stratford, Ontario’s Cat Clyde and LA’s Jamie Drake. The show starts at 8:00 p.m. For more information and to listen to the entire show, click here.

BIRN Alive continues this week with Indonesian born pop and soul singer/songwriter, Jessica Nathania. The show airs live on Saturday, October 19 at 4:00 p.m. on BIRN1. Nathania is currently finishing up her debut album and plans to release it before the end of the year. She has an incredibly rich vocal presensce that is not to be missed. Tune in here to listen to the live set and interview.

Check out Tom Speight‘s music Video for Hearshaker: