INTERVIEW: Mary Testa & Michael Starobin on Have Faith

Music often meets us right where we are in life. No matter your faith background, you have to admit that the gods that be have a hand in everything we do.

Recently, I attended Oklahoma! on Broadway. The show’s Aunt Eller, Mary Testa, took me aback. Her voice struck a chord in me that I cannot shake. My initial thought on hearing her Tony-nominated performance was, “I hope she has an album.”

Mart Testa and Michael Starobin, Have Faith

And to my excitement, she does, in collaboration with Michael Starobin. I’m telling you, the Gods know what they are doing.

Michael Starobin, a Tony-winning orchestrator, provides all the arrangements for Have Faith. He seamlessly gives each song an utterly new facade while preserving its original integrity.

What truly makes this album genius is Testa’s interpretation of each song and Starobin’s combination of classical orchestral techniques mixed with technology. Although Testa did not write these songs herself, she acts as the songwriter as her voice completely rewrites each composition. Mixed with Starobin’s exquisite arrangements makes for a record that is just as relevant in 2019 as it did five years ago when it was recorded.

Have Faith is a masterpiece that cannot be placed into words; it demands to be sung. Many styles of music are touched as Testa lends her voice to Aerosmith’s “Pink,” Prince’s “Sometimes It Snows In April,” and a Bjork/ Rodgers and Hammerstein mash up. Through these pieces, Testa and Starobin tackle dozens of subjects from cultural contradictions, to love and spirituality. This album doesn’t just dare to go there; it’s already come and gone.

I had the extreme pleasure to speak with both Testa and Starobin about Have Faith, its striking innovation, and how their ideas collided to create a musical monument.


  1. 1. Have Faith is a cohesive album that addresses a distinct set of themes. How did this album come about?

Mr. Starobin: The thing to remember is that Have Faith was not conceived as a recording first. It was conceived as a live show. Mary and I had done a show together soon after we first met in the early eighties. Around 2000, we said, “Let’s do something again.” We slowly started pulling a piece together, and it was about a woman getting through the night, questioning her faith. We did it as a staged performance with costumes and props.

Michael John’s “What If” at the beginning of Have Faith is about all the things that she’s afraid of. That was written for that show, and it captures the fear and fright of the woman before she goes through this journey. In a way, this is a cast album.

Mary Testa: This album came about over a long period of time. We were always trying to musicalize a completely sung-through story, using different songs to create a narrative. We had done another show called Sleepless Variations at Barrington Stage at least ten years ago. Some of the songs on this album are from that show.

Michael wanted to do it all electronically. The stage version was just his computer, piano, and cello. We purposely tried to put together something that resonated and was different. Sleepless Variations was about the way your mind works when you can’t sleep. Some of these songs made it onto Have Faith, and it became a whole new narrative.

We love to smash into something. You know, be really funny and then smash into something serious. We’ve always done that. Like going from “Pink” to “Sometimes It Snows In April.” You are having a great day, and then somebody will fucking die.

  1. This album was recorded nearly five years ago, yet it’s incredibly relevant today. How does this album speak to the state of the world now?

Mary Testa and Michael Starobin, 54 BelowMs. Testa: The title is very apt. It’s about finding out who you are, and against all the odds, know that life will throw stuff at you when you least expect it. It ‘s about having faith in yourself to make it through to the end and be grateful. Those are themes that will always resonate, because that’s the human condition, in a way. I think now is a very trying time. It was trying five years ago, but more so now. We had a beautiful president at that time.

The state of the world today is even more dire. Knowledge comes from within. It’s like a microcosm of a macrocosm.

If you don’t believe in yourself and have a spirituality about trying to lift the consciousness of the world, then you’re lost. You have to begin with yourself. I think that’s why it will always resonate, or at least I hope that’s why it will always resonate.

  1. From a composition standpoint, what is the common thread through each of these pieces? How did you place these songs, which are worlds apart, together?

Mr. Starobin: We were harking back to when music was albums. You sat and listened to all of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club because it was a journey. A lot of people made albums like that, and that’s been very much abandoned nowadays. We were looking to do something in the old-fashioned way of an album being a single conceptual endeavor.

The use of electronics and sequencing was done because this was originally a live performance. Numbers like “Change” and “Heroes” had to be rhythm numbers, and that wasn’t going to work with me just sitting at the piano. I thought, “Let me sequence these and run them off of a QLab.” It provided this energetic rhythm section feel for a couple of numbers.

So you’re doing this big electronic groove thing that’s loud, and in the middle of it, the tuba will start playing. The idea was to make these sharp turns in orchestration sound.

We wanted to create transitions where we’re doing one song, and you suddenly find yourself in another song without an introduction, without being prepared. You think you’re still in the old song, and suddenly, a lyric comes at you, and you go, “Oh wait, I’m someplace else.”

That transition surprise is the kind of jump-cut editing they do in film. You’re suddenly standing there in the middle of the next scene, and a transition hasn’t been provided. Your brain is suddenly spinning. “Oh, oh, where am I? Oh, oh, okay. I’m here now.” It was an attempt to do that musically.

Mary Testa: Everything on this album is deliberate. The “Lost” and “Over The Rainbow” mash up speaks to me about where we are now. We need as a species to get back to that “Over The Rainbow” optimism. Because we are lost I think, spiritually and soul wise…these are deliberate mash ups, not just musically, but idea wise.

  1. This album touches spirituality in many ways. Can you speak to that?

Mary Testa: I grew up as a Catholic. I went to Catholic school. I saw great hypocrisy from a very early age with the Catholic religion. I am not a practicing Catholic in any way, shape, or form, but I’m an extremely spiritual person. I’ve seen evidence of spirituality all around me and within me.

I prefer to be a spiritual person because I want to believe there’s a greater power than just us. I try and lead a life that is connected to that higher power, so I have no problem making it evident in my work.

  1. What were the difficulties, but yet similarities, to combining both the classical orchestral approach while embracing the technology?

Mary Testa and Michael Starobin, Barnes and NobleMr. Starobin: It wasn’t a difficulty at all because it’ssomething I’ve spent my entire life doing in the theater, using the synthesizer as part of an orchestral sound…

In “Lost,” I play along with the piano, but there are other times where we just let the track play. It’s a lot of fun because it brings a much wider dynamic range to the evening. It’s not only fun to jump in when the electronics come in; it’s also fun when it comes down. When you perform transitions like “Pink” to “Sometimes It Snows In April,” where you go from a loud volume to soft, I try to quietly start playing the introduction to “Sometimes It Snows in April” underneath “Pink” while it’s still loud. So it’s like, “What is he doing? What’s going on there?” I don’t try to overcome it. I don’t wait until it’s clear. I try to do it underneath the loudness. It is revealed by the music fading. It is a lot of fun to use the dynamics of pre-recorded electronics and then switch to live accompaniment and make use of the difference in energy between the two.

  1. Ms. Testa, your voice is piercing and bold, but it’s also vulnerable and empathetic. “Hallelujah” will have you in tears, while in “Heroes” you sing boldly of cultural inconsistencies. When you are preparing songs like these, what is your creative process?

Ms. Testa: I am blessed with the ability to sing a wide range of songs…I go with what the music calls for. It’s a visceral reaction. Because I can do a wide range of things, like musical theater, I can also do rock, and I can do jazz. I can do a lot of different things. Musically I adapt. Then, as an actor, I take whatever I’m singing and apply what I think is the proper feeling behind it.

  1. I read where you moved to NYC to solely be an actress, and musical theater just happened. What is your musical training?

Ms. Testa: I trained vocally for six years when I first moved to NYC. I trained with an opera teacher. I also went to Mannes College when I first moved here but never completed anything because that’s just how I am. I pick things up very fast. I don’t really read music, but I pick up stuff fast…My training has been experience.

  1. Can we expect any new music in the future?

Mary Testa and Michael Starobin, Barnes and NobleMs. Testa: Michael and I are very busy. He’s an orchestrator and doing a million things at once. We don’t have any fresh ideas right now. I’m sure at some point in the future we’ll come together and do something. We enjoy working together and collaborating. We don’t have any burning ideas right now. I’m sort of void of ideas. I think I’m exhausted, so I don’t really have any (laughs).

I don’t plan things out; I go with what comes my way. Right now, I’m doing eight shows a week. I don’t know what’s next, but I’m sure something will be next. Something’s always next.

  1. Last question. Pick one song. Why did you choose it, and what is its story?

Mr. Starobin: If I had to pick one, I’d pick “Lost,” which was a song Mary picked out, just because I find it beautiful. It’s where we combine electronics and live playing. We use a little bit of a Bach cello suite to introduce the song, and then the cello plays a big role within the song.

Ms. Testa: I love “Heroes.” Although I love everything on the album, it’s all purposefully selected. I’m often asked, especially during Tony season, “Who are the people that mentored you? Who are the people that inspire you?”

I’m inspired by everybody. I’m inspired by great performances, but I don’t have any heroes. I find that if you have a hero, you’re bound to be disappointed in them. There are people that I’ve admired, and then I meet them, and they’re jerks. The song “Heroes” is great because the lyrics are very funny, but it’s also really smart and serious. All of these people that we revere were jerks. (laughs)

Bonus: Dang, I was hoping somebody would say, “Sometimes It Snows In April.”

Ms. Testa: I can talk about that one! I’m a huge Prince fan. I miss him dearly. I cannot believe he was taken off this Earth. “Sometimes it Snows in April” always made me cry. I think it’s a beautiful song. I love Michael’s arrangement. I think of a particular friend of mine whenever I sing it. I’d like to do a Prince album of all my favorite Prince songs. I’d like to do a Prince show. I’d also like to do a Frank Zappa show…


In the end, Testa and Starobin weave a vivid image of struggles and triumph with Have Faith, while having a conversation we need now. Through each composition, Testa creates a bold narrative that allows room for fault but requires one to keep looking forward. Starobin’s arrangements give this album an identity that holds the record together as a unit while opening your mind to ideas you may have never seen. Together they created an album that pushes boundaries, socially, musically, and spiritually.

Every listener is granted permission to interpret music, both in its composition and lyrical content. The artists are the facilitator in leading the conversation, but it takes a rather unique voice to lend advice at the same time. That’s where Have Faith will leave you. It listens like an old friend while giving you a pertinent message. The message can change with each listen, but it will always remain profound.

As a simple listener, I am forever grateful I heard this album. As a music connoisseur, this album leaves me speechless. I’ve taken away many messages from Have Faith, but I’d love to leave you with the one I find most important and universal to every human (And yes, Testa approves).

Life is hard and often ridiculous, but nobody makes it out alive. Be kind, fight injustice, and love one another.


Purchase Have Faith at Ghostlight Records.



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INTERVIEW: Emily Chambers – Evanescent

Music will never be perfected. It continues to morph, mixing older and used styles with new ideas. Each artist contributes elements that can never be reproduced but can always be emulated.

Emily Chambers

In walks Emily Chambers, an up and coming singer/songwriter from Vancouver. She has perfected her art, successfully combining old school jazz and R’n’B stylings with modern vibes. She is a cross between Dusty Springfield and Mary J. Blige with the likes of Aretha Franklin and John Legend.

Graciously, Chambers let me pick her brain on her inspirations, her musical beginnings, and who she would love to be…besides herself of course.


Who are your biggest influences, both personally and musically?

Musically, I was introduced to the likes of Donny Hathaway, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder when I was around eight years old. These artists were introduced to me by this fantastic vocal teacher that I had for a decade, from the time I was eight to 18. She opened up my world to Motown, soul, and jazz with artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. I take a lot of inspiration from the oldies. I was also obsessed with Christina Aguilera when I was a teenager. Of course, I love Adele and Alicia Keys. Moving into my formative years, I was obsessed with the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. This is one of my all-time favorite albums.

I actually don’t have a musical family at all, which is hilarious. Apparently, I had a great aunt that was a famous opera singer, who I never met. That’s where everyone thinks all this came from. So as far as personal influences, my sister is a huge inspiration to me. She’s just such a go-getter, incredibly hard-working, incredibly creative, incredibly smart, and funny. I just want to be like her forever. She’s one of my best friends. I also look to my parents. My mom is such a strong woman. My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about 17 years ago, and that’s been a pretty life-changing journey for our whole family, but especially for my mom and my dad. She’s just such a champion about it all. I’m fortunate to have an outstanding community of family and friends. Since I moved to Nashville, I’ve made some of my best friends and everyone here is a hustler. I’m constantly in a sea of inspiration that’s making me work my butt off, which is awesome.

You plan on releasing new music this year. What can we expect?

My plans for 2019 is to drop singles pretty much. I’ll be releasing another single in July. And then after that, probably in September…

I have been writing like a madman, so I’m excited about the new direction that we’re moving in. I’m pumped to release my next single.

What can we expect from your new singles musically? Will they be along the lines of your single “Left Alabama” and your EP Magnolia?

Emily Chambers“Left Alabama” is an excellent gateway between the classicsoul song moving into the neo-soul direction. I love the mix and balance between produced sounds, produced drums, 808s, and elements mixed in with live drums, acoustic piano, electric guitar, and horns. I love the balance between that kind of production so you can expect more of that…I still have a heavy jazz influence in my new material.

I’m gearing towards higher energy material that’s more fun, more geared towards getting a younger fan base, and getting into the accessible circuit. The new music will really reflect where I’m at right now at this point in my life.

What does a day in the studio look like for Emily Chambers? What do you need for your creativity to thrive?

I’m all about the ambiance. I like low lighting. My producer that I worked with on “Real Talk” and “Left Alabama” and that I’m continuing to work with, he’s all about that too. You know, the incense, the sort of high vibe sprays, and setting everything right because you’re in there for 10 hours.

It’s a lot of talking about how my producer and I want things to feel musically and what we are saying with the lyrics. We go through a million different sounds, and I’m singing parts to him. It’s super fun. It’s my favorite place to be, other than the stage, especially when we’re tracking vocals.

Bringing ideas to life is just pretty magical. It’s productive, and I feel like I’m in my element, where I’m supposed to be.

How did your journey in music begin?

When I was eight years old, my mom asked me if I wanted to take singing lessons. We lived across the street from an amazing Canadian jazz singer named Joani Taylor. I trained with her once a week for a decade. I sang my first performance in grade five in front of the talent show and then kind of went from there. Through high school, I won the Idol competition and then started singing all of our national anthems. That led to singing for a local hockey team and then singing for our CFL football league.

My sister was the one that suggested I go to Berklee College of Music…I applied, and I got into Berklee on a vocal scholarship. I didn’t apply anywhere else. I did a year at Berklee and was so fortunate to have that year given to me by my parents. And then they were like, “Okay. That’s your entire education fund in one year, so you’re on your own.”

I made the decision that I didn’t want to take out a hundred thousand dollars worth of student loans to get a performance degree. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing that, but it just wasn’t the route for me. So I decided to leave after that year, and I went to Europe with some, buddies for what was supposed to be three weeks. I ended up singing at an open mic, and some older man said, “You need to come out and busk with me on the street.”

I ended up meeting up with him with my buddies. We played guitar, and we learned a couple of songs. I ended up staying in Europe for four and a half months, busking the south of France and Italy, and into Greece. For me, it was like, “Okay, you tell the world you’re not going to make music anymore and it kind of gets thrown right back in your face.” Europe was the first time where people (I was 19) would just stop on the street and be like, “You’re amazing.”

Emily ChambersThen I came back to Vancouver, had some career ups and downs, and started the band, Champaign Republic. We were a five-piece soul, pop, funk group, and we ran together for six years. We signed with a management company, and we got a lost in trying to write something for radio. I just lost all inspiration for the project. I think a lot of us did, and so, right as our band agreement ended and our PR plan was going to roll out, I left. I went solo in 2015, released “Magnolia” in 2016, and then I took off in my van to tour the U.S. Now, I am in Nashville.

Now for a little light conversation…

What is your favorite song to cover?

Well, this changes. Right now I love covering “Just the Two of Us” by Grover Washington, Jr. I also love covering Bruno Mars.

If you could collaborate with anybody musically, dead or alive, who would you choose?

Oh, god. Do I just get one? I would love to collaborate with Quincy Jones, but I could name 50 more. That’s the first one that came to my mind.

If you could be anybody for a day, who would it be?

Oprah. I’d love to wake up to this beautiful estate, with a lovely breakfast made for my dogs and me, and then I’d got out and have a super soul conversation with some spiritual leader in the world. I love Oprah.


On April 26th Chambers released her latest single, “Real Talk.” A hard-hitting soul power ballad with elements of classic rock and roll, jazz, and candid honesty.

Chambers artistry is bound for impact. Whether she goes on to sell out Radio City or win a few Grammys, she has made her mark on music using her straightforward lyrics to her evanescent vocals. Keep an eye open, she’s on her way.


Download “Real Talk” today on iTunes and stream on Spotify.

Emily Chambers


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INTERVIEW: Samantha Crain, A Renaissance

Every artist is once in a lifetime. Each artist, no matter their Spotify streams, brings something new to the table. Never discount somebodies’ artistry.

Although finding an artist that speaks straight to your soul individually, that’s a rare occurrence. Samantha Crain is one of those artists.

There is something about artists from the southern/midwest. Authenticity and truth seem to run deep in their blood. Everything in their music is pure. From absolute joy to utter heartbreak, these artists respect everything life brings their way. Crain’s is of Choctaw descent. Words cannot describe how this element affects her music. It’s there. It’s extraordinary.

I was introduced to Crain’s music through her fourth album, Under Branch and Thorn and Tree. The song “Elk City” immediately spoke to me, as it takes place in Oklahoma, my home. As the album continued, song after song, I found an emotional connection to the entire album, especially with “Killer,” “When You Comeback,” and “Moving Day.”

Through various circumstances, Crain and I connected, and she agreed to an interview with Vinyl Culture. Her raw truth and authenticity show in her answers and I couldn’t be happier she took the time.


1. You draw inspiration from your Oklahoma roots especially in songs like “Elk City.” What inspires you about Oklahoma?

Honestly, I think Elk City might be the only song I’ve ever written that actually took place in Oklahoma. I mean I obviously have an attachment to Oklahoma, as I’m from here and currently live here, but I’m largely inspired by leaving Oklahoma and traveling and seeing things outside of my roots. I personally don’t see the “Oklahoma roots” in my music but that’s what’s great about art, everyone can see something different in the same thing!

2. Your Choctaw lineage plays a large part in both your music (“Red Sky, Blue Mountain”) and activism. Where do you find the most inspiration in your heritage?

I think it is really important to understand when asking about how Indigenous artists implement their heritage into their art that people understand, for most tribes, their heritage was completely stripped from them by way of land theft, breaking of treaties, federally implemented assimilation boarding schools, genocide, abuse and marginalization from missionaries, colonization, disease, forced impoverishment, shame, etc. Most Indigenous artists are relying on holding on to the little bits that have managed to be passed down to them and keeping modern Indigenous art alive by creating new traditions and learning their languages again. Every note I make is Choctaw music because I am Choctaw.

3. You are not supposed to have favorite children, but out of all your albums, which one is your most favorite and most personal?

Sorry, can’t pick a favorite child.

4. In the end, what do you want people to walk away with after they listen to a Samantha Crain record?

To be honest, I make records to express myself. I don’t make records for a listener. I love that people connect to what I’m doing and I love to hear those stories, but I do not make music or records with anything in mind as far as what I want people to experience within them.

5. How does it feel to receive recognition from others with similar Native American roots as a Nammie Award winner and to be nominated for an Indigenous Music Award this year?

Good, I guess? I think the battle to be won though is to get to a societal point where Indigenous artists are actually included in the major awards like the Grammys and the Juno awards, and we don’t have to have our own award shows, and categories within the award shows.

And then just a few for fun…

1. What are you currently listening too?

Nilufer Yanya, The Japanese House, Sam Amidon, Jorja Smith, Justine Skye, William Tyler, This Is the Kit, Cocteau Twins, King Krule

2. It’s a lovely, slightly hot, weekend afternoon in Oklahoma. Where are you?

Probably just in my backyard honestly. I travel so much that I’m more or less a major homebody when I’m home.

3. Do you collect anything while on the road?

I collect music boxes, wall thermometers, and thimbles.

4. Where is your favorite place to perform?

Every show I’ve ever had in Washington DC and Glasgow have been excellent, so I guess the people in those cities just get me.


Currently, Crain is working on new music and about to embark on a tour of Europe. She has five albums out, and each brings a new contortion of emotion, authenticity, lyricism, and musicianship. They all have their own identity, yet they all flow together seamlessly.

Crain is one of those artists you cannot un-hear. From her multifaceted lyrics, pure, yet raw voice, and steady guitar, her music is a renaissance not only in folk music, but music created by those with indigenous heritage.

Samantha Crain is simply a must listen. Now that you are done reading this interview, head on over to her official site and check out everything that is Samantha Crain and buy a vinyl and maybe a t-shirt.


   

INTERVIEW: Eden Espinosa on Revelation, A Lethal Combination

Sometimes you don’t know where to begin with an album.

Eden Espinosa’s latest release, Revelation, causes just that problem. You see, each song is distinctly different, yet each one seamlessly flows with the next.

The album’s ten tracks converse with themselves. Every time I listen to this album in its entirety, I walk away with a different favorite song. Although once I start thinking of a particular song my mind links the piece to another song.

Revelation is built upon fear, vulnerability, and self-acceptance. Out of the record’s ten tracks, Espinosa wrote 8. She quickly proved that she has a distinct talent for crafting a lyric and to my surprise, these are the first songs she wrote.

So this album has tricked me and left me in quite the quarry. There was only one solution. I had to talk with Ms. Espinosa and have her explain this masterpiece.


This album is a vast departure from the style of your previous record, and very different than the form you use on stage. What inspired this style shift for you?

I’ve always had the desire to write songs. I was too afraid, to be honest. I was just afraid to try it and put myself out there. I heard an album of a friend of mine, and I just loved the production, and I loved the way it sounded. I asked her who produced it, and she put me in touch with the producer. I was talking to him about doing my second album, which I was planning to do like my first one, which was musical theater songs taken out of context to make them sound as if they were on the radio if you will.

Blaine Stark, the producer, is not from the theater world at all. He asked me, why don’t you do an album of originals? I said I’ve always wanted to and I have a lot of content written down. They’re not necessarily songs, but I do write a lot. He said why don’t you try writing and see what comes out of you and see if you like it. So that’s how I got started.

I contacted a few friends of mine who I know to be amazing songwriters and who I know would create a safe space for me to share my thoughts and my feelings. I just started dipping my toe into this art form.

That’s how this album came about. It was a beautiful collaboration with the producer Blaine and I and the songwriters and me too.


What is the inspiration behind Revelation? I feel like it is a break-up album mixed with self-discovery.

Yeah. I think that this is a little bit of both even though some of the songs that sound like they’re about a man, a significant other, or a breakup, are actually about fear. You know, that negative side of your mind or personality — that self-sabotaging place, which I’ve struggled with a whole lot.

I did go through some heartache recently, so some of the songs are coming from that place. I know that “Deadly Sin” originally was written about that dark fear, self-sabotaging place. I wrote “Master of my Life” about fear and taking control…That one’s about fear just trying to take over, and then you reclaiming your power.

Some of them can be taken as love songs or break up songs, but a lot of them are about me and breaking up with the negative habits or negative voices in my mind. It is indeed both; it’s a lot of layers I guess.


The songs flow flawlessly. What can you say about the order of the songs? 

The order was super important to me, and I actually left that to Blaine. I felt I was too close to the songs and a lot of them had been written a while ago. I had kind of moved past where I was when I wrote the songs, and it was hard for me to be objective because I started to judge the material, you know what I mean?

I started to be like, “This song is dumb.” There were so many times that I wanted to cut several songs that I had written long ago and I didn’t feel that way anymore. So I told Blaine I need you to do the order. I made one change to the order that he originally made and then “Fireworks and Stars” was a very last minute song. We added it on the very last day of recording.

So that was an afterthought. It was the most recent song I wrote, and it is from a completely different perspective than the rest of the album. But we knew that once I wrote it and once I heard what was going to be done with it, we knew that we wanted it to be the last song.


What are the messages you want to convey with Revelation? What message do you want listeners to walk away with?

Over the past few years and just personally in my life and then in writing this album there were several revelations. I knew I wanted the title of it to be a word encompassing the entire journey not only artistically, but emotionally and spiritually. I think the big revelation that I want people to have and be left with is that you are the most important thing and not in a selfish way. You have to take care of yourself and not lose yourself or choose somebody else to know your worth…We can’t completely give to somebody else until you know that you are a king or queen, you know.

I think it’s about self-worth. I want people to leave with finding their self-worth and their self-value and not to compromise that for anything or anyone.


Why did it take seven years between your two albums?

It had to do a lot with personal stuff… and fortunately, I kept getting work. A lot of people in my position who started in theater and musical theater – once they start writing songs, think I want to be a singer/songwriter now, and I want this is my music, they’ll decide to leave musical theater for a while and take a break and pursue music. I always wanted to do both equally.

I wasn’t in the position to turn down work to just focus on the album. And so it had to be done in little spurts. It took way longer than I anticipated but in hindsight looking back I didn’t know that it was supposed to be that way for me to find the strength, the freedom and the courage to write and to share with people my point of view and my perspective and my feelings.


And here’s a few just for fun…

If you could collaborate with anybody musically who would it be?

It’d probably be Jeff Buckley, who’s no longer with us, or Eva Cassidy.

When you are in the studio, or you are performing what are your necessities?

I’m very big into lighting. If it’s not the right lighting, it’s going to affect my mood. I like candles, and in a dressing room, I need my essential oil diffuser or a humidifier.

Which Spice Girl would you be and why?

I’d be Scary or Sporty. I just liked their attitudes. I think they were both fun, but confident. They both stuck out to me. It is a tie between Scary or Sporty; Scary’s style but Sporty’s voice.


As I looked over the transcript of this interview and listened to Revelation again, I realized why I am at such a loss for words.

Revelation lives and breathes. It may sound strange, but Espinosa’s vocal stylings mixed with her vulnerability are simply relevant. No matter your situation in life, this album can, and will, speak to you. Espinosa is a real singer who can hit any high note, yet she is also a real artist who can dig into emotions you didn’t even know you had. That’s a lethal combination for any listener.


Connect with eden espinosa
   

INTERVIEW: Dave Barnes Chats Christmas Traditions + Big Goals for 2019

It’s almost Christmas! That means it’s almost time for A Very Merry Christmas with Dave Barnes. The annual Schermerhorn Symphony Center show has become a tradition for Music City. 

Recently, Nashville Noise sat down with Barnes to talk about this show, some of his favorite Christmas destinations and his goals for 2019…

Check out Nashville Noise for the full interview with Dave Barnes.

INTERVIEW: Boys Called Susan, A Raw and Authentic Beginning

There is something about rural America. It runs through us all. It’s where our heritages began as Americans.

The qualities of rural America are simple and universal. These qualities include dignity and authenticity to despair and pain. Rural America is beautiful, raw and real. That’s where the story of Boys Called Susan starts. Boys Called Susan is two cousins, Bryan Russo and Christopher Shearer. Both are seasoned musicians but haven’t worked cohesively together up until their debut album, Pennsyltucky….

Check out the full article on Nashville Noise here.

EXCLUSIVE RELEASE: Bond Villain, “Break on Me”

If you cannot listen in color, then Bond Villain is not the artist for you.

Already in Bond Villain’s limited releases, he has released numerous songs with different facades. He’s a master of reinvention if you will, and his music is innovative. He takes a slice from nearly all-popular musical styles while still maintaining a distinct sound.

How is it innovative? The best way to describe his music is to rid yourself of all ideas of genre. His music doesn’t fit one mold, yet it takes on different shapes cinematically. From the vocals to the music’s orchestration, his music is constantly moving, morphing shapes, and changing colors. It simply doesn’t fit into a category.

Bond Villain’s newest release, “Break On Me,” is no exception. Beginning with melodious piano riffs, the song escalates into dramatic choruses mixed with everything from strings to keyboards. This song has balladesque tendencies mixed with musical warfare. The lyrics are equally perplexing wrapped in what should be simple concepts.

I recently spoke with Bond Villain about his new single “Break On Me,” its inspiration, and how it fits in his young, but varied musical catalog.


What is the overall meaning of “Break on Me?”

‘Break On Me’ is all about vulnerability. When you fall in love with someone, you don’t just experience a new depth of affection – you understand a whole new spectrum of fear, insecurity, and hardship that comes with it. Before love, you are working to protect yourself from hurt and heartbreak. After love, you learn that all things become more meaningful, pleasurable, and painful when you have someone to die for. The term “break on me” refers to this reciprocal vulnerability that occurs, and asking the other person to trust you as you trust them – to experience the good and terrible parts of life together.

This is a detour from Bond Villain’s recent releases.  What has returned you to the ballad piano style from your first EP’s, “Let Me Go?”

I absolutely love the sounds that ‘Blackguard’ and ‘What’s Wrong With Me’ bring to our set, and they seem to fill a wonderful space for people who listen to Bond Villain. With that said, the kind of sound from ‘Let Me Go’ and now ‘Break On Me’ is the core of what Bond Villain truly is – epic, conflicting emotions over a powerful range of instruments and sounds. I will always want that drama at the center of my music. It is those ballads that tend to transcend time and fashionable genres.

Who were the primary writers of the song and how did you reach the final conclusion together?

I initially brought the bare-bones idea of this song to my producer, Jean Christophe Santalis, and my co-writer/vocalist, Kimberley Locke, in the form of a piano line and a draft of the lyrics. Over time we fleshed it out into the ballad/pop/orchestral hybrid you hear today. It was fun in particular to collaborate with Kimberley on the vocals – Her ability and delivery is pretty much unparalleled, so having an opportunity for our voices to play off each other, line by line, was a great experience.

What’s next for Bond Villain after this release?

We have a music video and new song coming in October at Halloween – keep an eye out for ‘Die For You.’ Pretty much the most badass song Bond Villain has created so far. We have a few shows in the hopper for the East Coast that we will be announcing soon as well, so everyone should stick to our social media for upcoming news!


With this song, Bond Villain uses many of the techniques he has used previously, yet he still moves the needle forward. There’s always a new mold to be made, a new shape to conquer, more shades of color to discover.

Which made me wonder, what is the exact definition of color? Google states that color is “the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light.”

That is the pinpoint of “Break On Me” and the epitaph of Bond Villain’s musical inventory.

Now stop reading and just listen to the damn song.


Purchase “Break On Me” on iTunes HERE
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