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Circling Back With Circa Waves: Discussing the Future of Releasing Music, their Musical Influences, Touring, and more

Liverpool quartet Circa Waves recently released their debut album titled Young Chasers which features their lead single, “T-Shirt Weather,” which has over 10 million streams on Spotify. They are currently on a U.S. tour run before heading back to the UK for a string of sold out shows across Europe. Over the past few months, Circa Waves has performed at Glastonbury, Lollapalooza and on Conan as well. Recently, guest contributor Ryan Quint sat down with the group at their show with MS MR at Union Transfer to discuss the future of releasing music, their musical influences, touring and much more.

Back in March we had interviewed Circa Waves, just a few days before their debut album release, click here to read up on it.


Circa Waves are: Kieran Shudall (guitar / vocals), Joe Falconer (guitar), Sam Rourke (bass) & Colin Jones (drums).


Ryan: Last time we spoke was about 7 months, you guys only had the EP out. Now we have a full-length album. Young Chasers was just released a few weeks ago on September 18. So I’d first like to congratulate you on of all of the recent success.

Kieran: Thank you very much.

Ryan: Speaking of EPs and Albums, I heard an interview you guys recently did where Kieran said that he felt that with how the music industry is going, artists are going to only drop EPs and give out “little bursts of ideas” instead of full-length albums. Can you explain that thought process and why you feel you that way?

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Kieran: I mean the album thing will always exist for certain artists but just because of how fast everything moves; I think that EP’s are a more efficient way of releasing music.

Sam: I can see that happening. Albums, as a concept, came around because of the technology. From vinyl. That’s how many songs you could fill on a record so they would. I think that right now technology is changing and people’s listening habits are changing as well. Maybe the regular format of releasing music won’t be albums anymore. I still love albums. We buy vinyl all the time but I could definitely see artists just releasing 1 or 2 EP’s every year instead.

Kieran: It’s quicker. It’s more efficient. Kind of like a half album.

Sam: It also allows for more freedom as well. 2 EP’s can be completely different but if you’re doing a bunch of tracks under 1 large umbrella of an album, it has to be a lot more consistent. It may be good for artists to challenge themselves on a more regular basis by releasing more projects.
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Ryan: I think its really cool that each of you have sort of your own musical style whether its Kieran with the indie rock and old folk sound or Sam with Hip-Hop. How do these different styles help create the Circa Waves sound we hear on Young Chasers?

Kieran: It definitely influences the way we play our music or how we approach certain parts of songs. I’m not going to write a guitar part from a Dr. Dre record, I’ll write it to a sound that better pleases me. It just works in that way.

Sam: I definitely agree. Part of the sounds of how things worked out relate to our personal styles of music. Joe has this scrappy guitar style which comes from what he listens to.

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Ryan
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(to Sam) And would you be the Dr. Dre listener?

Sam: I don’t condone or endorse Dr. Dre but I suppose some of the bass lines that I’ve written have a Hip-Hop sensibility in some ways. It’s definitely an influence but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where it is.

Ryan: LA Daily News had very high praise for the album. Do you ever read reviews and see how the critics feel about your music or is it mainly your fans reaction and opinion that you care about?

Kieran: I read some reviews. If it’s a good review, I’ll read it. I don’t tend to go out of my way to read reviews anymore. Not because we get loads of bad reviews its just that there’s almost no point. We play shows in front of loads of people every night and that’s enough gratification for us.

Sam: It can go down two roads. You can either become incredibly self-obsessed because you have a larger world of things relating to you or you can go down the route of completely shutting it off and think that’s what we’ve done.

Kieran: Also, the more successful you get, the more people are going to dislike you. It’s fine with me. Music is made to separate people. 

Ryan: Kieran, you mentioned that a lot of the album is inspired by early adolescence. Can you explain this more in-depth and did you have any specific moments that you recalled when creating this album?

Kieran: I’ve always wanted to capture that moment and period of time in my life and other people’s lives when I was writing. I just think it’s really interesting. That part from 16 to 25 is just so fucking mental.

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Ryan
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I’m smack in the middle of that right now.

Kieran: Yeah. It’s fucking weird right? I always loved the first Arctic Monkeys record, the first Strokes record. They’re all talking about their experiences of growing up and you can’t write about that forever. The 2nd record won’t be about that. It was just something I wanted to get out of my system.

Ryan: And its still fresh in your memory

Kieran: Yeah, it’s still fresh. I’m not that old yet. I’m getting further away from that time but it’s cool to think about it like a diary of what happened during those years of my life.

Ryan: I saw you were in Philadelphia yesterday morning. Did you spend a full off day here?

Kieran: We did the Radio 104.5 thing in the morning then we had to drive up to Albany for a show. It would’ve been nice if we had a day off here though. We were supposed to have a day off but as usual, it got cancelled.

Ryan: How was Albany then?

Kieran: It was great. Very good show.

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Ryan: Was it your first time to upstate New York?

Kieran: Yeah. Not that we actually saw any of Albany but the venue was really cool. The drive up was very nice. We also just discovered Serial Podcast. It’s massive but it completely blew past us but it’s this woman investigating a murder case and each episode is her digging further into the case. So we just smashed through that the whole drive. It’s based on a real murder that happened in Baltimore and we drove past Baltimore while we were listening to it and I wanted to hide.

Ryan: Do you guys know The Wire? That will make you want to hide even more.

Sam: Yeah, it’s amazing. That was the first thing I thought of when we drove past Baltimore.

Ryan: Moving on, your current US Tour is coming to a close. You’re about head back to the UK and the rest of Europe. What has been the most enjoyable part about tour so far?

Kieran: It’s been really good. I’d say the highlight would be the day we were in LA. We did Conan in the morning and then went straight to The Troubadour and did an amazing show. That was a fucking great day.

Sam: Very stressful day.

Kieran: We also went through the Gilmore Girls town on the Warner Bros lot. Three great things that happened in one day.

Sam: and the Batman steps as well. It was a good day. We got to do the biggest TV show we’ve ever done.

Kieran: Also, America doesn’t feel like one country, it feels like 50 different little countries. We’ve seen bits of Seattle, bits of San Fran and just getting a little bit of the culture from everywhere is very enjoyable. It’s cool seeing how different each place is and how everywhere has its own proper identity.

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Ryan
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You guys were doing Festivals all summer, including Glastonbury and Lollapalooza, now that you’re back in clubs and theaters, which do you prefer?

Sam: I really like the way that it all works out. By the end of summer, we’re really ready to do the headline tour and then towards March we’re anxious to start festival season again. What I love is the balance between the two. We did about 30 festivals this year and by the end it’s just tiring.

Kieran: Festivals are also very low pressure. They have a party vibe and there’s shit loads of bands, people aren’t there to just see us. People are going to have a good time regardless. The pressure is off but you also try to win over a crowd. Where as headline shows, you’ve won straight away. The crowd has come to see you. You get applauded just from walking on the stage. That doesn’t happen at many festivals.

Ryan: I heard you guys had one of the best sets at Glastonbury

Sam: Apparently. According the polls. Was it the best set ever?

Kieran: Yeah we had the best set ever.

Ryan: I’m not sure but we’ll call it that.

Kieran: Just kidding but that was nice. We had played Glastonbury the year before but we were just starting out so no one knew who we were. It was good to be there but this year was our “arrival” at Glastonbury.

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Ryan
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I saw you were recently out at a karaoke bar with Ms. Mr recently – it seems like you guys are getting along on these run of shows.

Kieran: Yeah. We just met on this tour. They’ve been one of the most welcoming bands we’ve ever toured with. They give us free shit and they’re just really nice.

Ryan: Free shit is always a good thing. Last time we spoke, “Stuck in My Teeth” was your favorite song from the new album to play live, has that changed at all?

Kieran: It’s not. I fucking hate it (laughs). No, I don’t mind playing it. It is quite difficult for me to sing it though. But in the UK it’s always a big shout moment. The kids love that line in it (“I’m a little too young with not enough time”). Right now I really enjoy playing this track called “Talking Out Loud.” People don’t lose their shit to it but they do really so to enjoy it.

Sam: It’s a great break in the set.

Kieran: If it were the 80’s, we’d all light up cigarettes and play while smoking. It gives us a chance to regroup.

Ryan: You guys played “Stuck in My Teeth” as well as “T-Shirt Weather” on Conan. How was that experience?

Sam: It was really cool. I really enjoyed it. I didn’t realize how long the day was though. I just thought you rock’ed up and played and then left but we were there for about 7 hours. It was amazing though. We love Conan and his work on The Simpsons.

Ryan: He’s tall isn’t he?

Sam: He’s fucking huge. Normally, I feel out of place in photographs for being the tall one but not this time.

Kieran: He seems like this huge giant but he was really nice to us. You never really know with those people because they have to have that personality all the time. I would really love to just have a cup of tea with him but it was good. Doing Conan felt like one of those landmarks in this lifestyle where it’s something terrifying but then you overcome it and, to me, it was the most terrifying thing we’ve done. I’m not sure what will be next, hopefully something bigger but that was a huge achievement for us.

Ryan: Speaking of T-Shirt Weather, it has over 10 million streams on Spotify. Why do you think fans have connected most with that song so far?

Kieran: It’s quite hard to pinpoint why certain songs get a reaction like that because I would try to make more if I knew the answer. Maybe because people can relate to it because the content is about things that everyone remembers like what it was like when you were younger. It’s also one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever written so maybe its just that and the fact that it’s just “T-Shirt Weather” it’s a title that can easily stick in people’s minds. Who knows?

Sam: (to Kieran) You should get Owen Pallett to do a musical review of it. From Arcade Fire. He did a few pieces analyzing Beyoncé songs and it was really cool.

Kieran: For me, it’s all better to not break songs down too much. Otherwise, I’ll try and make some formula every time I write a new song.

Ryan: Lastly, you guys are nominated for Best New Act at this years Q Awards. Former winners of that award include Sam Smith, Django Django & Corinne Bailey Rae among many others. Are you honored knowing that you were just nominated for that award or are accolades only important to you if you win them?

Kieran: I already feel quite satisfied. I think that we’re the best out of all of the people on there but I don’t know if everyone does. It’s up to the people to decide. It is good to know that we’re on that level of the artists nominated though.

Sam: Is it cash if we win? Because if it is then I’m well up for it. If we did win it would be our first accolade ever, alongside the apparent “Best Act at Glastonbury” (Laughs)

Ryan: Thank you guys. Good luck with the rest of your tour.


Catch more of Circa Waves through their social media accounts.

WEBSITE – FACEBOOK TWITTERINSTAGRAM


For more exclusive coverage, ticket giveaways, features, and live updates follow @215mag on twitter, and Instagram.

215 Exclusive | Kat Dahlia Interview: A Story To Tell

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For many, only waiting until you are 24 years old to achieve success, let alone begin a career, is not too long at all. But for an artist long since tapped to emerge beneath the bright lights of the music industry it can feel much longer. All is relative in the end, and for Miami’s bright young music star – or blooming flower if you will – Kat Dahlia can tell you her story indeed includes a patient and at times trying chapter.

Whether canceling multiple tours due to a pseudo-cyst on her vocal chord, or overcoming personal hardships and a “toxic relationship” that have challenged her these past few years, Kat has dealt with the weeds and has gained an understanding that this is all part of “My Garden.”

Live on stage [see photos below], Kat shares her story and the many sides of her personality and musical flavor that she describes as “honest and diverse.” This provides the audience with a full and engaging show while displaying sharp vocal talents and a soaring voice alongside a talented group of young musicians representing Queens, NY, Toronto, Canada, and Cali, Colombia.

I sat down with Kat in the afternoon before her show at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia [Nov 24]. We chatted about what this long awaited ‘beginning’ means to her and the thought behind the title of her album and tour. I also learned a little bit more about who this talented, exciting storyteller is.

Chances are she’ll have a few more stories to tell after her tour…


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KAT DAHLIA  2014 U.S. tour dates preceding the release of  MY GARDEN, in stores January 13, 2015 and now available for preorder at iTunes, Amazon MP3 and Amazon. Anyone who preorders the album will receive four instant gratis tracks, including “Crazy,” “Gangsta,” “Mirror” and the Salaam Remi-produced “Clocks.” Fans who Shazam Kat’s “Crazy” can enter to win a pair of tickets for to catch her#MyGarden tour in the city of their choice. Spotify users can also enter to win tickets to see Kat live in concert by creating a #CRAZY playlist on @Spotify and sharing it with the tag #CRAZY4KAT.


To learn more about KAT DAHLIA, visit:

Official Website: katdahlia.com

Twitter: twitter.com/katdahlia

Facebook: facebook.com/katdahliamusic

Instagram: instagram.com/therealkatdahlia

Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/katdahlia

VEVO: youtube.com/katdahliavevo


Photo credits // Daniel Wooden


Matisyahu | two.one.five Exclusive Interview

Matisyahu’s journey is one that travels far beyond the stops of his very busy 2014 mostly North American tour. For the man we all grew to know as The Hasidic Jewish rapper / reggae star, this journey explores the growth and evolution of an individual and the lessons he searches to learn from. He shares a piece of this ongoing experience with us all on his most recent 15 track release, titled Akeda.

A decade into his professional music career, much has changed. Many will point right at his obvious physical make-over. But what you’ll find when talking to Matis is that the true transformation came from, and took place, within.

His unique path before and after he became publicly recognizable — from his time he spent without an audience figuring out his sound, to that epic performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live — has influenced and developed Matis into who we understand him to be today. Matisyahu has successfully blended his creative talent as a musician with a personal narrative he uses to inspire his fans across the globe.

When listening to Akeda, one understands his songs reflect a newly found comfort, but don’t overlook how he arrived there. Matis offers his story with signature grandiose choruses and chanting conscious lyrics over a mix of reggae, hip-hop, alternative, and pop music canvases, with separate guest appearances from Zion-I and Collie Buddz.

I chatted with Matisyahu a few weeks ahead of the Third Annual Reggae in the Park festival Sunday August 3rd, when the West Chester, PA native will take the Mann Center stage. We discussed how he developed his lyrical style, the inspiration behind his new album, and how he learned to walk through walls.reggae in the park


Get advance tickets to see Matisyahu — plus Steel Pulse, Inner Circle, Morgan Heritage, Konshens and many more! And stay tuned for more two.one.five exclusive interviews. Follow @215mag.

Coming up next: Morgan Heritage.


ARAN HART: Do you feel it’s harder for you to switch or evolve your style based on the image so many people associate with you?

MATISYAHU: I hadn’t really thought about it like that before, but yea. Being that I was a very specific thing to a lot of people probably does make it more difficult. There are a lot of artists out there that don’t have such an intense image that’s attached to them. But I feel like I go through this every record. I guess now it has happened in a more major way.

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Matisyahu pictured here prior to his hair and beard trim.

ARAN HART: How did you cultivate your singing and lyricist style?

MATISYAHU: I found what I really liked, listened to it a lot and just soaked it in. I spent a lot of time alone in my room, without a career or an audience, expressing myself via that mode. I had a band when I was 18 in Oregon and I got to be a front man and learn about what that’s like. Everything from having the right energy on stage and relating to an audience. I moved back to New York when I was 19 and I wasn’t able to put together a band so I set up a drum kit and PA in my room and would play the drums and sing, and chant through the microphone with different delays and effects.

I would also buy instrumental tapes on Canal St. in New York. At the time I was listening to a lot of Sizzla, Capleton, and Buju Banton — that wave of conscious dancehall. I would listen really fuckin loud, get high and write. Then I would plug in my mic and try to do what it was that I was experiencing and hearing. I would get really inspired by that reggae music. I never thought about, “I’m not this so I can’t do it.” If there is something that I connect with emotionally then it always feels natural to me. So I started writing and producing that style.

As time has gone I’ve evolved from that. I don’t sit in my room and get high and listen to the same music. I listen to a ton of different styles of music now. But whenever I find something I connect with, it’s still kind of the same process. I explore it, let it seep into me and figure out how I can add that to my palette of colors that I paint with, so to speak.

ARAN HART: Your music has been licensed for use with TV, movies, video games etc… Describe the importance of having your music used in these various media channels…

MATISYAHU: That’s a huge piece of it all, getting people to hear your music. The business man in me wants the music to reach as many people as it can. So you look for any outlet. With the exception of my first song, I haven’t had a lot of support in radio. Also with the game changing like it is, it becomes about looking for alternate ways, and licensing is probably the biggest way. Whether it be a car commercial, or a video game, or a movie, you want to get people that access to your music. It’s important.

ARAN HART: How has being able to take your talents around the world and experiencing other cultures influenced you as an artist and/or an individual?

MATISYAHU: I’m gonna be honest. For a long time I really had my head down. It was hard to get past the jet lag, the airplanes, going to the hotel, going to the show, getting back on an airplane and going to the next place. I’m just now learning how to try and take things in. Even though I’ve probably filled up 3 passport books, or whatever. I was tired for a long time and traveling for a long time. You can’t necessarily take in all the things that maybe other people who travel are able to. I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. Even though it’s difficult, I love being mobile. You know, ever since I was 17 I left home with a backpack. So that’s who I am.

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ARAN HART: In my estimation, so much of your music explores a personal journey, challenges, finding the ability to overcome, rising up and growing as a person. Where do you draw that inspiration from to write in that way?

MATISYAHU: I’m a pretty sensitive person. I’m affected by things. And it’s my nature to want to be growing. I’ve been searching for a really long time and I don’t see myself ever stopping. I mean, I’ve had periods in my life where I take it easy, but my nature is to keep pushing forward to elevate myself and get better at the things that I want to do. Whether it’s being a better father or singer. Being better at prayer. Being more understanding. Being a more compassionate person. Being able to take in my surroundings. All of those things keep me constantly striving and moving forward.

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ARAN HART: Does your newest album, Akeda, represent a significant part of a journey or era for you?

MATISYAHU: About 2-3 years ago there were a bunch of things going on. One thing was, I was unhappy in my marriage so I decided to move on from that. I wasn’t feeling comfortable or happy in the religion anymore… and, when I say the religion, I mean specifically the rules. I had been following those rules for 10 years, and there are a lot of them. They dictated a lot about how I lived my life and the way I thought. Even though I struggled with those things, I still went through with them. I still woke up and lived according to a certain way. I started to feel claustrophobic and like I was being stifled.

I also had an issue with my voice. I had to go on vocal silence for about 3 months. I had finished a tour so I was sitting at home. I also had another health problem with my stomach that I was trying to heal. Basically I wasn’t talking, communicating, or eating normally. I was pretty much fasting. I got into a very deep meditative place and all of a sudden I started to feel all of my emotions start to come back. I don’t know if I’d ever felt things the way I was feeling. I was getting this intense mental clarity and getting in touch with all of these feelings. I could feel my heart waking up. I was claiming myself back from everything — the religion, the relationships, and even the lifestyle I’d been chasing. I’d been trying to be a rockstar all these years, thinking, “How can I get more famous, and make more money, and do more shows?” I just stopped all of it and went inwards. I was also battling drug addiction, and got sober. That’s where this record and all the creativity came out of.

ARAN HART: Alluding to the title of your single Watch the Walls Melt Down… Were these the walls you were watching melt and fade away?

MATISYAHU: Yea, the metaphysical walls. There was this one song they would always sing in Chabad, the Hassidic group that I was with, and the name translates to mean “go over the wall.” So this is my version and my take on that. You don’t go over the wall, but watch how the wall isn’t really a wall. Just watch it fall down, and walk straight through it.

ARAN HART: Have you walked through and achieved this freedom?

MATISYAHU: I’m still in the process, but there is definitely a taste of freedom.


Follow Aran Hart – Twitter // Tumblr

Interview: Chrisette Michele on her new album, touring with Keyshia Cole, and her stunning new look

In today’s music culture that’s saturated with money, fame and sexuality, Chrisette Michele is a rare gem. You might know the Grammy award winning R&B singer for the powerhouse vocals in Jay-z’s “Lost One” or Rick Ross’s “Aston Marton Music”. Or maybe you own all three of her highly acclaimed albums. Chrisette Michele’s music is in a lane of its own. It’s a unique sound, but when you hear the hints of Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan peppered in, it’s almost nostalgic.

Since she appeared on the scene in 2007, she has become a muse for some of hip-hop’s biggest stars and built relationships with some undeniable legends. Three albums, one mixtape and a three-year hiatus later, Chrisette Michele is a changed woman. She is currently on tour with Keyshia Cole, she is releasing a brand new album, and she has recently made a serious life change which caused her to lose over 30 pounds, both physically and emotionally.

We were lucky enough to get the chance to speak with Chrisette to discuss her new look, her new album, and the brand new her:

Two.one.five. magazine: You have a fresh new look, and it is stunning. What inspired you to change your appearance?

Chrisette Michele: Thank you. It’s a natural progression. I travel, probably too much, so I see probably too much.  I’m always just pulling from different places. I’m inspired by Europe: London, Paris, and Amsterdam.

215: I saw a recent interview where you said you did a cleanse which caused you to lose 30 pounds of body weight as well as emotional weight. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

CM: A friend walked in the studio late one night last year. He had green juice and it looked gross. He gave me a movie called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and I watched it. I was so inspired to be as upbeat and happy as he was. It prompted me to start a 60 day juice fast. So I got all of these different fruits and vegetables and put them in my juicer and lost 30 pounds. I’ve have been a vegan ever since. chrisette_new2

215: There are definitely a lot of different emotions towards love in your music. How have your feelings towards love grown or changed since you first started making music about it?

CM: I’ve been pretty bad with love and relationships my whole life. Not so much because I’m bad, or the guys are bad; I’ve always been a busy girl. I’ve always been in dance classes or in choir. In college I was the head of our choir and the dance team. Now I’m super busy being in the music industry. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs when it comes to love. I’ve never been afraid to sing about it.

215: What has been the top moment of your career so far?

CM: Right now I’m having a top moment. I have a family around me that I really adore. They’re called “The Rat Pack 3013” and my band travels with me everywhere I go. I’ve been waiting my whole career to have people I can trust around me and it makes me very happy to finally have that.

215: You’re on Def Jam with a number of incredible artists, is there anyone from the label who you feel closest to, or who you draw inspiration from? 

CM: Quite a few people. Mariah Carey has been around since I was in elementary school. I was so drawn to her energy. 

Lionel Richie and Patti LaBelle have given me wonderful advice and let me know that you can stay around for a long time if you keep your health and sanity. Ne-Yo has been there since Epiphany as a mentor.

One of my biggest influences is Baby Face. He has really helped seal in the fact that I can do anything I can put my mind to.

215: You’ve released 3 stellar albums, a mixtape and you’ve been featured on numerous songs. Is there any song in particular that’s really near and dear to your heart?

CM: “Pray Me Well”. I’m really telling the truth on that song. I really was looking for my heart while I was traveling… I was looking for my heart again.

You spend so much time doing the same thing over and over and after a while you wonder if you’re doing it because it’s working or because it’s what you actually love. It’s kind of a prayer to God, to my family and to my fans because they listen. I’m just asking them to pray for me.

215: Your new album comes out on April 30th! What can fans expect from Better?

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CM: They can expect a better me. I’m not asking anybody to evaluate if I’m better, I’m letting people know that I’m in the best space that I’ve been. I’m going H.A.M. with the vocals. The music is hopeful; I’m believing in love again, I’m believing in dreaming and that I’m going to be OK. For awhile, especially during Let Freedom Reign, I wasn’t sure, but now I’m sure. I feel great.

215: You’re currently touring with Keyshia Cole. How would you describe the energy of the Woman to Woman tour?

CM: Yes, we just got off of our first date, and what I appreciate about touring with Keyshia Cole is that we’re both females and we both have a different type of feminine energy. It’s cool to be working with another R&B female and both be celebrated for who you are as an individual. We’re both confident in who we are as women. It’s so nice to share an audience even though we’re so different. We’re both so passionate.

215: What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever gotten?

Lionel Richie and I were hanging out back stage one time and I was thinking about how he might be old enough to be my dad. I had party questions for him. I asked him how he is dancing around and jumping around stage the way he is. He said, “Value your gift, value what God gave you, respect it. And make sure the people who are exploiting you respect your gift and who you are. Treat your gift with honor”.

That was a big gift. We take what we have inside for granted. I learned from Lionel to respect that.

Oh! [laughs] Patti LaBelle once told me to “always take a wheelchair out of the airport,” like a diva.  I thought that was great.

Thanks so much for speaking with us, Chrisette. We’re happy to see you happy.

Philly friends, Chrisette Michele will be with Keyshia Cole at Tower Theater on Monday, April 8. Make sure you get your tickets ASAP.

Keep up with Chrisette on Twitter. And while you’re at it, be sure to check out her new look on Instagram!

Music For Your Headphones: Q&A with Jordan Jeffares of Snowden

Photos by Mark Likosky 

Jordan Jeffares began his project known as Snowden years ago, back when he was a teenager hanging out in his bedroom. According to him, he was just messing around with recording some demos and “writing lots of horrible music.” He continued to see where he could take things and by the time he was a senior at UGA in Athens, Ga., he managed to come up with a few gems that sparked the attention of his brother and other fellow musicians. One thing led to another and in 2006, after releasing an EP prior, he managed to put together an acclaimed, full-length album, Anti-Anti.

It’s been over six years since Snowden has released much of anything. Jeffares has moved from city to city around the country, switched record labels, and “overwritten” a lot of songs. He is now on the Kings of Leon record label, Serpents and Snakes, and is based out of Austin at the moment. He seems to be happy there for now but he readily admits that he thrives off movement. In fact, he happens to love Philly and could easily see himself living here. Perhaps we’ll see more of him in the future?

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Snowden released an EP in 2010 called Slow Soft Syrup EP, but otherwise we haven’t heard too much. Until recently.

The three-piece band performed at Johnny Brenda’s on Wednesday night to a pretty packed audience. Local bands Busses and Belgrade made appearances, as well. Snowden performed a good mix of songs from Anti-Anti and a few new songs from the album they are currently promoting and will release in May, No One In Control. It’s first single, “The Beat Comes,” seems to steer in a different direction that isn’t as post-punk/British dance music heavy. Jeffares admits to have an affinity for slower songs that you can listen to in your headphones just for yourself. “The Beat Comes” maintains a dance-y, upbeat flow that you’d probably expect from Snowden, but the heart of the song is much slower and somber. It could easily be performed with an acoustic guitar and Jeffares’ vocals. It’s beautiful either way you look at it, though. I especially think the music video delivers this track nicely; the highs and lows are appropriately mixed in visually via seeing a masculine boxer struggle with his desire to embrace a more feminine side.

two.one.five sat down with Jeffares to get caught up on the past six years and to see what’s on the horizon for this mobile man.

two.one.five: So, you released Anti-Anti in 2006. Has switching labels and moving around had anything to do with the delay in releasing a new album?

Jordan Jeffares: I was writing the entire time. Overwriting, really. Some of the songs that I thought were going to be the single on the record aren’t even on the record anymore. I saw what it was like to release a record and I knew if all of your ducks weren’t in a row you risk just flopping a record out there and not getting any traction. I’ve got some records that I really love and I don’t understand why they didn’t break wide open, and you never know what the circumstances are. I’m willing to wait longer and do this record right and have it come out right than just to put a record out to have one out.

two.one.five: As far as the difference between Anti-Anti and No On In Control is concerned, you haven’t released anything for a little while and you’ve moved around a bit, how much has this lapse in time influenced where you are right now with this current record in particular?

JJ: I never knew if I was going to stop making music all together. I just decided I wanted to write a record that I wanted to hear in headphones. The first record had a lot of pressure because a lot of it depended on the live performance aspect, you know. It has to turn heads and be upbeat. I feel like I didn’t follow that at all on this record, so half of it is slow songs. That’s what I love writing, there’s no pressure to make people foot stomp. You can just throw on your headphones and go to bed which I think so much easier. To me, my favorite place is in headphones on the train and not playing with speakers or anything. So, that’s how the writing is different; it’s writing for myself and not as much of performing for other people.

two.one.five.: Yeah, I really love the single you have for the new record. It does have the quality you’re talking about, a slower quality, but it’s dance-y and has this tinge of optimism.

JJ: Yeah, that’s how all my songs start out. They start out slow and I figure out ways to crank it up a bit. If I just add something different it’ll make it more upbeat. The “rock” in me isn’t very strong so I really have to work at it. Sonically, I make a lot of my own stuff and I do a lot of my own mixing. When I’m writing, from a demo perspective, it’s just always harder for me to make the songs pop because the slow, pretty stuff is just so much easier. Now when I tour I get to pick a handful of songs from each record, but I can only see my records getting more dreamy. Some people are into the slow stuff live, but a lot of people like something that chugs along, make their hair blow back a little bit.

two.one.five: Yeah, according to bio I’ve read online it said you were wanting to move away from the “Brit dance party” you pushed on the first record.

JJ: Yes, that’s very much where I was going back then. I was listening to a lot of Bloc Party and Interpol. I still love that stuff, though.

two.one.five: With this new song (“The Beat Comes”), I really did like the music video that came out with it. It sort of reminded me of that video that Spiritualized released last year for their song “Hey Jane.”

JJ: Such a great video. When I first saw that I was like, “Uhhhh!” Yeah, the guy who I was working with as far as I know didn’t have any intention of channeling that. He had initially developed the concept of the boxer but I told him there had to be something darker, something deeper going on. I wanted some kind of sexual tension to be present. I wanted to have the boxer when he was older seen putting on lipstick but the actor wouldn’t do it so we just we see him hold it up to his face instead which I think worked. I wanted everything to be subtle, I didn’t want anything to be blatant. I didn’t want to spoon feed the story; I wanted it to be seen as a subtle piece of art. I feel like that’s something my audience appreciates a bit.

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two.one.five: I feel like it’s something that makes you want to watch it to the end. You’re not in a position to cut it off early because you want to see what happens. Is that one of the more upbeat tracks on the record?

JJ: Yeah, it’s one of them. I knew pretty early on this was going to be the first single. It was one of the few times I was able to write something that’s remotely fun; when that happens I’m like, “Yeah, that’s the first single.” I realized at one point  when writing this album, like, five of the tracks had the word “no” in the title and I had to change some of the titles. I thought to myself, “Man, I must be going through some type of midlife crisis or something.” You know, what does this say about me? I needed to have an awakening of some kind; I can’t keep going like this.

two.one.five.: Have you played in Philly before? Do you have connections to the area? Any fond memories?

JJ: I’ve been coming to Philly and playing at this bar since I don’t think it was safe to come to this area of town. Now I come here and there are yoga studios and stuff. There’s a Fette Sau — you’ve made it when you’ve got a Fette Sau. One of my fondest memories, I was on my way moving up to New York and I stopped here to get on my bike for a little bit. It was absolutely beautiful, it was November. I just thought I’d go for a quick ride and I wound up losing my car; I had no clue where it was. It was such a beautiful day; I was riding over in West Philly near one of the colleges, across the bridge, over the water. I just thought I was in the most beautiful neighborhood I have ever seen. And I lost my car for six hours. I love Philly. It’s always on my list of “to dos.”

Local Blogger Spotlight – OHMYDALIA!

I recently had the pleasure of meeting local Philly blogger, Migdalia Gonzalez (thanks to some good old-fashioned networking on Twitter), and fell in love with her blog OHMYDALIADescribed as a blog that “brings together blogs, artists, designer and other great voices to give you an inspiring discovery experience,” OHMYDALIA is a hub for the spunky and creative soul in all of us. Showcasing everything from her own personal life, delicious recipes (like this to die for “healthy triple chocolate cake“, style & design blogs, and Philadelphia culture, OHMYDALIA provides inspiration for all up-and-coming bloggers trying to make their own mark on the ‘interwebs’. Read below for my interview with Dalia herself and get to know one of Philly’s very-own bloggers!

1. Tell us more about yourself! Where did you go to school, what are some of your hobbies, etc.?

My name is Migdalia but I have a ton of nicknames – Migs, Miggy, Iggy, Dally, and of course…Dalia! I went to the Art Institute of Philadelphia where my love for fashion and marketing got married and made me one happy lady. I love to workout (weird, I know). I like playing sports, although I am not very good at them. I love to bake, which is a serious problem since I usually get the urge to make cupcakes at midnight. I love to go out dancing and be with my friends, and I like food. Which probably is why I like to workout. Happy mediums everywhere! 

2. Give us a little breakdown on your blog and why you created it. Have you met a lot of other Philly bloggers because of it? What’s your favorite aspect of your blog?

I created my blog originally because I wanted to have a list of blogs I personally loved, a little bit about the blogger and some of my favorite posts by them. The blogs I would love the most revolved in the fashion, food, D.I.Y and interior design categories. It later grew to lifestyle and design blogs as well. I have connected with some local bloggers, my favorites being Sage & BerriesEat. Sleep. Wear and A Daily Something. I also got to work with the blogger behind Fashion Whipped and had tons of fun connecting with them all.  My favorite part about my blog is being able to share great finds with my friends and complete strangers. 

3. Philly Fashion – Do or Don’t? How do you feel about the individual styles of Philadelphians and what are some of your favorite trends and stores in the city of brotherly love?

I would be the first to knock Philly fashion… I’ve always loved San Fran’s flowly and laid back style. However, specifically this past year, I have noticed Philly step up it’s game. I love the gritty street style that people come up with- especially when mixed with a statement piece or something unexpected (wild hair styles, fun shoes, crazy accessories, etc.).  I think our men still have to step it up a bit – I’d like to see more button-up shirts, well-fitted slacks, linens and thrown in with a nice jacket or bold ties. But hey, maybe I’m just old fashioned! As for my favorite stores in the city, I love Smak Parlour and El Quetzal!

4. Top Summer Must Haves – What are the five things that you can’t leave your house without and why? 

Summer Must haves?! Only 5!? Haha ok- I’ll try! 

1) iPhone – Without it I am lost…
2) Love & Toast Hand Cream: Honey Coconut Scent – This is like being transported to a tropical island. It’s light without being too greasy, but moisturizes wonderfully!
3) Tarte 24/7 Lip Sheer with SPF 15 – It has a nice tint for my skin tone and leaves them protected from the mean sun and soft from the great moisturizers. 😀
4) Boyfriend: Roll-on perfume – I am a huge fan of warm scents. This one is nice but not overpowering and comes in a roll-on container that makes it easy to throw in your bag or clutch! 
5) Zone Perfect Bar – I am always hungry, so I always have something I can eat when I’m on-the-go. These bars keep me full, give me the protein I need for an intense workout and actually taste good. My favorite flavors are peanut butter chocolate (duh) and fudge graham cracker (it’s like a s’mores in a bar!).

5. On a typical Friday night, where can we find Dalia?

Depends – You can find me at home, catching up on the DVR’d shows, in front of my laptop working, OR I’m out in the city somewhere indulging in margaritas (my favorites are from Dos Segundos in Northern Liberties) or dancing at Silk City!

6. Where do you envision yourself in the next year or so, and what’s one last thing you’d like Philly to remember you by?

I envision myself having a small consulting business or working at a badass full service agency doing awesome digital media work. Or I see myself just completely giving it all up, and opening up a small bakery or diner somewhere and being an awesome pastry chef. So many dreams, so little time. I guess I want the rest of Philly to know (especially small business owners) I’m a social media strategist and I cater to small businesses. Call me, maybe?

For more information, make sure to follow Dalia @OHMYDALIA and like her on Facebook here!