DAVID BERKELEY “The Faded Red And Blue”, A Peaceful Protest

The United States is going through troubled times. It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you sit; the US is fighting many cancers. One of the most significant ailments facing the nation right now is division.

This division runs deep, from disagreeing over policies to human rights, many Americans find themselves willingly huddled in a corner without room to budge. Many artists have spoken out on this harsh reality, yet David Berkeley does it differently in his newest EP, The Faded Red and Blue.

Check out the full article here on HAUS Music + Sound. 

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
-Connect with Bond Villain-

INTERVIEW: Griffin Anthony, Finding Refuge

It is not often you find voices that change the way you listen to music.

When I first heard Griffin Anthony, I had just moved to New York from Oklahoma. I had completely new surroundings and didn’t know a soul, yet music was my pillar. Throughout my whole life, music has been a constant comforter and protector. This became very apparent when I dove into collecting vinyl, a hobby that kept me busy in my first lonely months here. Music became my refuge in a new world.

Music also took a new place in my life when I began to proactively write and blog about my favorite choices and artists. My writings have brought me into contact with some amazing musicians. That’s exactly how I got word of Griffin Anthony’s music.

Griffin’s voice is authentic. I believe it ranks with some of the greatest modernand classic country artists, from Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson to Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson. Griffin’s unique vocal interpretations mixed with his ingenious songwriting makes for a prolific adventure in song. He has created a new standard in how I consume music.

Refuge, Griffin Anthony’s latest album, follows this same tradition. The album picks up where he left off with 2015’s The Making of a ManRefuge shows the raw beauty and nuance of maturing both artistically and as a human being. I caught up with Anthony recently to gain his thoughts on the new album and to explore what he has accomplished with this new volume of songs.

What does the album title Refuge mean? How does it relate to the songs?

“The album’s title suggests a destination where safe-haven (or happiness) exists. And the tunes trace narratives of men and women on their quest to find that destination; together or alone, through failures and celebrations. The word ‘refuge’ also drums up a ‘rustic’ and ‘natural’ connotation- which ties into some of the lyrical themes, the style of production, and album artwork.”

What message or messages would you like listeners to take away from this album? Is there a central theme?

“I really tried to somehow capture the feeling of Hope with each tune. Jon Estes and I spoke at length about that during our pre-production pow-wows and tracking. From a songwriting perspective, no matter how much uncertainty the main character is dealing with, he or she still maintains that better days are ahead. There are tunes on celebrate oxytocin-drenched romance, the joys of parenting, and the beauty of nature- where the personal and the pastoral converge… On the other hand, the album wades into some murkier waters of escapism, separation, isolation, the construct of religion, and the horrors of war.”

This album was made purely analog. Why did you choose to go this route?

“Well, most of the music that moves me was recorded that way. ‘Refuge’ is intended to be a refreshing departure from the sterilized sounds of the digital age. It’s human. There’s nothing to hide behind and I think that translates through the music. Elements of the performances I may have once regarded as ‘mistakes’ become ‘moments”… There are more rough-ends on this project and I love that about it. With the convenience of digital recording, it’s way too easy to clean shit up and quite often, it results in white-washing all the emotion… Everything just becomes antiseptic and colorless. Plus, I don’t want to sound like a robot, ya know?”

Pick one song. What is the story behind the song and what is the inspiration?

” ‘1954’ is probably my favorite tune on the album for a couple reasons; one, because I feel the understated musical arrangement best supports the lyric, and two, because of what the song represents as a storyteller… On the ten-year anniversary of D-day, the subject reflects on his past and tries to cope with the meaning of war; balancing pride and ambition with humility and loss. During a time in US history that’s often celebrated for it’s economic prosperity and baby-boom, PTSD wasn’t ever discussed… The glory associated with that era overshadows what my grandfathers and hundreds of thousands of young men had to endure.”

How does this album pair with your previous album, The Making of A Man?

” ‘The Making of a Man’ has more overall melody and hooks for sure. And aside from the completely different production approaches of two very different producers and session bands, I wrote ‘The Making of a Man’ on the piano- whereas ‘Refuge’ was written predominantly on the acoustic. ‘Refuge’ has a greater focus on lyrics-first song construction and capturing a live performance. Plus, I’m five years older from when I wrote “The Making of a Man.” I’ve experienced some life-defining highs and lows in that period- I’d like to think that contributes to a sharper pen.”


“Refuge” listens like planks of an old oak tree. Each piece is distinctively different, but they all fit together. Anthony has woven an intricate placement of work that possesses universal truths in tandem with nature. This album serves as a vanguard to musical authenticity in a world of manufactured melodies.

As Griffin Anthony alluded in the answers above, this album suggests a destination in the proverbial journey of life, mixed with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. This album accomplishes its mission by providing a safe harbor, a refuge, for all those seeking a glimpse of truth with a glimmer of hope.


CONCERT: Paula Cole in New Jersey

I’m not sure Paula Cole can ever disappoint me.

On Saturday night the great searcher of cowboys performed at the intimate White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, NJ.

Now the concert was not This Fire Paula Cole, it was more “this stream.”

A show filled with social and political undertones, Cole opened the concert with “Watch The Woman’s Hands.” This is a track off of her first album Harbinger. Laced with female empowerment, Cole sang this song with passion and fury through her phrasing and vocal tones, proving Cole does not have to use her vocal acrobatics to make her point.

Next, Cole went into a song off her latest album Ballads, “I Wish (I Knew How It Feels to Be Free).” Her likeness of this song can only be compared with the originator, Nina Simone. Yes, it was that good. Cole brought this song with a calm intensity in a society that desperately needs its message.

As the concert continued, Paula Cole sang many fan favorites, including her smash hit “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone” along with lesser known songs like “Carmen” and “Strong Beautiful Woman.” Gratitude filled the room from Cole as she ended each song to applause and standing ovations.

I have never felt more “thanked” for loving an artist than how Cole made me feel during her show.

It was easy to see Cole’s gratitude to her listeners when she called up a long time fan to join her on “Hush, Hush, Hush.” The bridge of this song is sung by Peter Gabriel on her This Fire album, but tonight it was sung by a fan simply known as Vincent to the audience.

Although one must be warned, you never know what you are going to get when you see Paula Cole, but one thing is certain, you will have a profound experience. Whether it’s Paula belting her anguish or calmly portraying her grief and frustration, you will always walk away with a message of hope and resilience wrapped in the only medium that portrays both simultaneously, music.

Read my other articles on Paula Cole:

Transcending: A Conversation with Paula Cole

Vinyl Music Review: Paula Cole, Ballads – Uncanny and Reverent

INTERVIEW: Donna Lynne Champlin, More Than Paula

It’s not often you discover albums that change the way you listen to music indefinitely. Last year, I was blessed enough to find Paula Cole’s, Ballads, which did just that. Now, nearly 6 months later I have found another album that has done the same, Old Friends, by Donna Lynne Champlin.

To say Old Friends  is magnificent is an understatement. I discovered Champlin while watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on the CW. Her musical numbers within the series took me aback. Once I found out that she had her own solo album I started a journey down a deep hole of musicality I can not find my way out of.

After discovering Old Friends I had to reach out to Champlin and express my gratitude for the music she made. She immediately responded thanking me and pointing me toward her blog she wrote during the making of the album. To say the least, this album has a back story like you’ve never heard. Read her blog here. After reading her blog, to my great surprise (I mean, she’s a big deal), she agreed to let me interview her.

I’ve never heard a backstory to an album like this one. In 2009 Champlin broke her ankle while performing in the Broadway production of Billy Elliot. During her time of recovery, she decided to make an album. This sounds great, but Champlin went about it unconventionally. She decided to make this album on a dare from her brother, on a budget of $1,000. She recorded the album in her apartment, arranged nearly every composition, played all the instruments, and mixed each song. And it sounds like a million bucks.

Did I mention she accomplished this in 6 weeks?

To begin our interview, I had to know about song choice. Old Friends ranges from Civil War Songs (“Hard Times Come Again No More”) all the way to off-Broadway favorites (“Eiffel Tower”), with a tune or two from popular music (“Only Hope,” “When She Loved Me”). Choosing songs was quite the endeavor for Champlin and she had a process.

I started by not editing and writing down a list of all the songs I loved, not necessarily songs I love to sing, just songs I love and turn to when I need to hear something really fulfilling spiritually. It was massive. From there I looked for patterns. I could have done a full album of folk songs and I could have done a full album of Irish material…It was feasible to say I was going to do completely different albums from this list and then I thought about which one of these songs did I literally double over from when I first heard them. That ended up being the playlist.

During our interview, Champlin really focused on how these songs make her double over from emotion. She focused largely on how these songs were cathartic for her. These songs were friends from years past, which is where the title for the album came from.

The album is called Old Friends because I feel like every track I heard for the first time at a moment in my life where I needed to hear that song. I would play that song over and over again and it helped me heal or heightened my awareness to something I needed to pay attention too.

A few years before embarking on this effort, Champlin had shopped around making an album to different labels that specialize in recording Broadway performers. They all told her it would cost her upwards of $30,000. This would also come with the control of producers picking and arranging songs themselves, stripping Champlin of her own artistic prowess, which leads to another inspiration in making this album unconventionally.

The best thing about self-producing is the vocals I use on my album are my true voice. When you are in the musical theater and you are someone who looks like me, you are constantly bending yourself, bending your voice to fit the job they’ve given you. In my case the job was always really loud, brassy, and belty. This is not where I live naturally. It was my chance to relieve my self of that burden. It was my chance to put out into the world that this is me. You can dig it or not dig it, that’s fine.

Old Friends became a process of self-discovery and a vehicle for Champlin to express where she lived artistically. This album goes beyond her vocals in professional endeavors. There are plenty of “brassy” moments, yet she portrays them through her vocal lens. This album was Donna’s turn.

There was a lot to lose, but a lot to gain with this album for Champlin. She is a celebrated performer on Broadway and television. This album was her first step into her own. As it turns out, the album went on to win numerous awards and was even named one of the top 10 vocal albums of 2009, but what exactly did Champlin gain from this album both personally and professionally?

Personally, the act of producing it and creating it with 100% creative control was incredibly empowering and terrifying. As an actor you do feel very powerless…you are at the whim of the agent who submits you for a project and then at the audition you are at the whim of the casting director who will cast you or not…it’s very easy as an actor to feel like a puppet in your own life. It’s easy to forget what your own instincts are and what your own preferences are…I reawakened my own decision making process and it was incredibly empowering…It made me realize that my opinion is valid. It may not be the opinion we end up going with, but just voicing it is very important. I feel more in the process of my own career.

There are many nooks and crannies in this album. What I love most about this album is that it listens like a spiritual. Champlin is able to touch emotions in the ways of a higher power bringing boundless emotion.

I think one of the reasons why this album is successful is because the impetus to do it and the intention behind all of it was…pure, authentic. I had no expectations and I didn’t think I was going to sell any of them. It was an experiment on a dare. I didn’t have anything to lose by doing it authentically. That is the key to anything. If any of your readers are thinking about creating anything to put out into the world, I would only say don’t think about the commercial success of it. Don’t design it to be successful. Design it to be authentic.

Old Friends has made its way onto my permanent playlist. It has surpassed all Vinyl Culture’s expectations and more. It deserves a pressing. Champlin’s vocals are a higher power that rips open your emotions to their highest and lowest. She provides hope in the darkest times and the brightest light in the dark.

This album’s story also proves that being authentic and sincere prevails in the end. If we fabricate who we are our legacy becomes tainted. I’ve learned that through the journey of this album.

As Champlin and I were wrapping up our conversation, she began to take on a different tone. She wasn’t performing, nor was she acting, she began to come to me as a friend.

She left me with some lasting words that have now rung true in my life, and I think they will in yours. It is this project’s pinnacle point and one we can all learn as we go on to create.

If I could say anything to anybody out there thinking of creating their own content is to always, always, come from a place of authenticity. F*ck the commercial success of it. You can’t control that part anyway.