1. Could you tell us a little more about your debut as an artist ?
Shortly after “I Want You” came out, I won a finalist spot in an international contest. The final round of the competition included playing a 3-song set at the House of Blues on Sunset Strip. At the time I found out I was a finalist, I had never played a show before. I had 3 months to get a band together, get better at the guitar, and get enough songs ready for this final showcase, which was broadcast all over the world. I was – by at least 2 years – the least experienced person in the competition. I was terrified! Walking on to that stage was definitely the most surreal experience of my life. I still can’t believe we pulled that off. We didn’t win, but I like to say we got 2nd place. When you have a debut like that, everything else seems easy!
2. For our readers who have never heard it, how would you describe your music?
Someone once called it “Sparkle Folk.” It’s Folk-Americana Singer-Songwriter with southern, pop, and indie rock influences.
3. If I borrowed your mp3 player right now, what artists would I find in the recently played list? Are these your main inspirations?
Right now, I’m really into dark, southern singer-songwriter music. There are a few songs on Jason Isbell’s most recent album “Southeastern” that contain some of the best lyrics I’ve ever heard. “Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan knocks me out every time. I spent the whole fall listening to “The First Days of Spring” by Noah and the Whale. I also love country music – David Nail, Eli Young Band, Eric Church, Jason Aldean. My childhood was full of Jimmy Buffett and Bruce Springsteen, so they are always on too.
4. You just released a new EP, Lightning, on Jamendo. What are its main themes and what's the story behind it ?
The title comes from the chorus of the EP’s last track, “Dying.” It says, “I never liked the lightning…” My Mom knows a handful of people who have been struck by lightning and survived, which is so weird. Growing up, my sister and I were always so afraid of it because of these stories my Mom would tell. I moved to Dallas, Texas for a couple of years and couldn’t believe the huge thunderstorms and tornado clouds that would just shut down the city and take up the whole sky. It was always fascinating to me, and it seemed like a really accurate way to describe the last couple of years – a really quick flash of light that leaves you a bit stunned.
Stephen Johnson of Great White Buffalo was my co-producer, and we recorded it with Grammy-winning Engineer Philip Allen (Adele) and Grammy-nominated Engineer Luke Tozour (Katy Perry). I learned so, so much in the process. I was really fortunate to work with such esteemed musicians on my debut.
5. Are you currently working on any new musical projects?
Yes! The songwriting never stops. I’m also expanding the band to include some more traditional Americana elements, like a banjo and mandolin, so I think some of that will be present on the next record. I’m also getting a little more influenced by southern rock, indie rock, and dark folk, so there is definitely some sound evolution taking place. I’d love to release something by the end of the year.
6. What’s your favorite song to belt out in your car/shower/bedroom, at the bar or for karaoke?
I’m a really annoying person to be in the car with because I will sing along to everything. I love “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette. My Aunt forced me to sing it in front of our entire Cruise Ship to Alaska a few years ago. I also love trying to memorize rap songs – I have the entire Eminem verse in Lil Wayne’s song “Drop the World” memorized. Same with “Superbass” by Nicki Minaj. It’s my party trick.
7. Did you ever perform in public? If yes, what are the best memories you keep from these performances?
For a while, I was too scared to play my songs in public. I would show up to open mic nights alone and then panic and leave before my name was called. The first time I ever played was actually a year ago at a nice little restaurant in Malibu, CA. It was a songwriter night, and I asked to be dead last so that no one would be left in the restaurant by the time I played. It was terrible, but I did it! I got a band together and hit the ground running after that. We play pretty regularly around Los Angeles now.
8. What was the craziest experience you lived as an artist?
Making this EP, Lightning. I met Steve (of Great White Buffalo) just about two years ago. He is an incredible guitarist and musician. We played through a handful of songs I had and decided to try to make an EP as co-producers. My lifelong dream has always been to write and record a record, so this project meant everything to me. I wanted to do it by ourselves for the first one – we were the lead producers, arrangers, and musicians. I also financed it 100% on my own, working a desk job in Hollywood during the day, and recording and arranging at night.
Unfortunately, we had to start over a few times due to engineers and studios not working out. One person left the country, and several others just lost focus on the project. It was back to the drawing board over and over again, and a true test of how committed we were to reaching the finish line. I have a little list of things to accomplish each month, and for 14 consecutive months, I kept on writing “Finish EP by the end of the month.” In the end, I’m really happy with the way everything worked out, even though everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. It was a crazy experience, but I’d do it all over again. I’m so beyond grateful to everyone that worked on it and stuck it out with me.
9. What is your songwriting process? Any particular method?
The words usually come first, and then I’ll be playing around on the guitar, or sometimes the piano, and a melody will just stick. I know this sounds crazy, but I sometimes feel a song coming on. I just start seeing images and patterns and hearing the general feel of the song. Then I try to write it all down as fast as I can before it goes. As a songwriter, you write hundreds and hundreds of songs, and most of them aren’t good enough to be recorded. But there’s always a gut feeling with the good ones. With “I Want You,” I definitely felt it coming beforehand. There was actually an earthquake here in Los Angeles in the middle of me writing it! What an omen. I finished it within 30 minutes and knew it’d be the first song I’d ever record.
10. You chose to share your music for free under Creative Commons licenses on Jamendo. Why did you make this decision?
Jamendo has introduced me to an audience that never would have heard my music otherwise. Seeing the YouTube videos people make, seeing the comments left on my website and Facebook Page from all over the world – it all really means so much to me. As a young artist just getting started, I moreso have a desire to connect with as many people as possible than anything else. I wanted people beyond my immediate circle to have access to these songs because music and the human experience are meant to be shared. Jamendo made that possible.
11. Do you have a fun anecdote that your fans don’t know about and would be surprised to hear?
I am a vegetarian, and I LOVE potatoes. Tater tots, hash browns, scalloped potatoes, twice-baked potatoes, French fries – you name it. I’m addicted.