THE GLASS SHŌ ~ Cindertalk on His New Single and Playing Glasses

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Jonny Rodgers, now going by the moniker Cindertalk (Jonny explained that there were too many other noted personalities that have the same or similar names, thus the reason he uses this as a handle at present) sat down with me to do an interview for The Glass Shō. I asked him about the upcoming single titled “Spero”, which will be available to purchase on Record Store Day (April 19th) to benefit the charity Love146, which is an organization dedicated to ending child trafficking and exploitation (By the way, you can get involved with their cause as well by clicking on the link)
Below are excerpts from our chat, but you can hear the full interview on the links for the Glass Sho episode on the bottom or at the top right of this page.

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“This song I did called ‘Spero’–it’s a song I wrote after doing a benefit. Basically, I’ve done a lot of spokesperson stuff for an organization called Love146 for years, they combat child sex trafficking, and my wife is a co-founder of the organization. I’ve partnered with them and other groups for a long time, and at one point they did a benefit where I did some music, and I was placed at the same table with a couple of young survivors that came to tell their stories. Talk about feeling like you’ve met a rock star–They’d been through some hellish, harrowing things and have courageously come out the other side and told their stories to all of us without flinching. Horrific stories and amazing resilience from these survivors, and that’s the fundamental basis for the song, lyrically–It’s based upon the Latin paraphrase ‘Dum spiro spero’, which means ‘While I breathe, I live’”

I also asked him about playing glasses, his second instrument to guitar.

“The glasses–I built the case I play now, and there was a pretty big shift in my playing–It used to be a case of 9 notes, and it2013_Jonny-Rodgers was really as supplemental filler for a 9-person ensemble. I still do that kind of thing, but it was always standard that I played with 9 people, and the case was always a small part of that. Now I use 19 notes, it’s enough that I can do anything harmonically that I want to, and small enough that I can wheel them through an airport–Those were my 2 biggest criteria for the upgrade.”

The Glass Shō: Episode 3 (Cindertalk & Michael Vincent Waller)

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Cindertalk (cindertalk.com)
Cindertalk (Bandcamp page)

The Glass Shō ~ Debbie Chou on “Little Prince” and its video

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Singer-songwriter Debbie Chou sat down with me again to do another great chat, this time for The Glass Sho, and we spoke about her current single “Little Prince”. I had been sort of letting her know that in my mind, her music and the rich, passionate alto vocal of hers is comparable to some of the best early 80s artists like The Motels or Siouxsie and The Banshees, and she responded to that thought in this excerpt from our podcast chat (which you can listen to in its entirety on the link below or at the top right of this page).

“It’s funny you mention the 80s aspect–when I first wrote [Little Prince], I had the drum track first–I wanted that beat, and when I was done with that tune, I realized I had written an 80s-feel pop tune. You hear a lot of 80s elements in indie-pop tunes today, and those songs stick out to me, so I thought this was a good time to release the song! Even the chorus with the harmonies at the end of the song–Someone told me it reminded them of the chorus in Tears For Fears’ “Head Over Heels”, and I said ‘That’s exactly what I was going for!’, so I’m glad it turned out well!”

Official video for “Little Prince” (Director of Photography: Chloe Lee)

I also asked her about the making of the video and whose concept it was. Before the video was launched, she had been posting many images of her dollhouse and its figures on her Facebook page.

“I had the idea of shooting it in a dollhouse, so I ordered the set online, and built it at home. It’s easy to become obsessed with dollhouses and small things–I was almost there, and I started collecting stuff for shooting the video, and while posting the pictures on Facebook, I was giving hints to everyone saying ‘Hey, this is a dollhouse, stay tuned, there’s going to be a video’, so this is what came out of it!”

The Glass Shō: Episode 2 (Debbie Chou)

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Click here to purchase the “Little Prince”/”Waterfall” single

Click here to purchase her newly-released Songs From Rockwood EP

Lou Reed (1942 ~ 2013)

Photo courtesy of Jean Baptiste Mondino; From the final photo shoot, Sept 2013
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I’d like to remember Lou for several things.

With a single, solitary song of his (“Walk On The Wild Side”) that was his only exposure to mainstream rock radio for many years during my youth, it was very weird but intriguing to see articles and reviews about him in Rolling Stone and not having any real idea who he was. And it would be a long time before I’d get to hear The Velvet Underground, as their records were unavailable to us by the time I’d heard about them (I just needed to know where the cool record stores were). Continue reading

Dar Williams

Photo courtesy of Amy DickersonDarWilliams_AmyDickerson2high

Singer-songwriter Dar Williams will be making an appearance this Saturday, Oct. 19th at 8 PM at Symphony Space in NY. Click up here or on the link below for tickets.

She actually had some time to speak to me via phone for a little bit! :)

CM: Is it a normal kind of thing for you to play in places that are mostly known for classical/symphonic music?

Dar: Actually, my experience with Symphony Space is that it has a lot of different kinds of music (many of my friends play there), but what you are saying touches upon, I think–Some of the best cultural venues have a lot of diversity in what they do, and they kind of have to feel around sometimes, to get the genre right, but they really work hard to make their space as diverse as possible, especially in New York, where you can play Uptown or Downtown to completely different crowds. People with really savvy directors know how to do different kinds of concerts, so it benefits them. I would say that my music is put side by side with classical venues on a regular basis, so I’m definitely in the singer-songwriter venue world, for the most part. Continue reading

Sasha Siem at Joe’s Pub (A Review)

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Sasha Siem
Joe’s Pub, NYC
Monday, July 22nd, 2013

At the site of what has become Amy Schumer’s TV home, Joe’s Pub, UK singer-composer Sasha Siem flew in and delivered what felt like an all-too-brief set of short art songs, most of it from her new CD Most of The Boys. The presence of Sasha in a dark dress reminiscent of Stevie Nicks, along with some well-orchestrated chamber backing from a string trio-plus-drummer really made for an eclectic evening.

Songs like “Tug of War”, “Proof”, “Most of The Boys”, “Kind Man’s Kiss”, and “So Polite” were delivered with an incredible speed and unfounded character that only Sasha would be able to interpret. The small chamber group (featuring violinist Jeff Young and cellist Isabel Castellvi) were definitely the kind of ensemble that contributes to blurring the line between indie and indie-classical.

So Polite (live with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra)

As a performer, Sasha Siem is a delightful composer/performer of art songs that, for fans of a very tasty and simultaneously light flavor of music, provides a great rival to artists like Bjork and Sufjan Stevens, and leaves an audience wanting even more. She did do a very short encore (it was 20 seconds), but I believe she is on to something.

Sasha Siem.com

Natalie Gelman ~ Kickstarting the Streetlamp Musician Radio Campaign

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Singer-songwriter Natalie Gelman is an amazing singer and musician, and quite adventurous as she embarked on a fascinating musical tour on rollerblades about 10 years ago. She’s played all over the country and has a bunch of great tunes, and with her latest recording, an EP titled Streetlamp Musician, she is looking not to fund the recording (that’s already done) but to employ a team of individuals for campaigning the songs for radio exposure. With some help from the public and Kickstarter, she hopes to make this happen. Click here or on the bottom link if you can spare a few bucks, there may be something in it for you!
Natalie had a few minutes to discuss it! Continue reading

Deni Bonet

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“I set out to make a record that was going to make people happy, and that’s hopefully what it will accomplish!”

Deni Bonet, a brilliant artist from the world of notable side-musicians, having been a strong fixture in the house band for the great NPR show Mountain Stage, and worked with incredible people like Robyn Hitchcock and R.E.M. among various others, has herself transformed into a singer-songwriter-violinist that gives a sort of folk-pop blend that invokes “Natalie McMaster meets Belinda Carlisle”. Deni has since delivered a series of her own records, her latest being a CD titled It’s All Good, and she’s putting on a CD-release party on Friday, February 15th at 7:30 PM at 92nd Street Y Tribeca in NYC. Click up here for info/tickets or on the bottom.

I have to say that I loved this chat, even though I feel like it was more of a chat/hangout than an interview. Albeit through the magic of Skype, Deni showed me around her place and I was treated to both musical and meowing throw pillows, hilarious anecdotes, great jokes and a grand tour of the music studio within her apartment. It was the kind of experience that I wish I could share through transcription. I suggest that if you get into Deni’s music, you’ll get some sort of sense of that! She really is a funny, sweet, eclectic gal, and a superb fiddler/songwriter on top of this!

Plus she seems to have a thing for the color blue… Continue reading

Lisa Germano

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Lisa Germano (wow, more than a singer-songwriter, she plays a variety of instruments as you well may know) is releasing a new album titled No Elephants in February of next year, and having heard it, I am blown away by her music yet again. Taking the path to a very self-made musical place has really taken her seemingly so far apart from the days when she was mostly playing sideman to John Mellencamp and appearing with artists like Billy Joel, Simple Minds, etc. Her efforts as a musician showed a person of prowess, but her music revealed much more complex pictures and a vulnerability that couldn’t always be fully expressed by a full rock band.
She had a few minutes to speak with me about some of this.

CM: I had a chance to hear the new CD No Elephants–For me, It is very hard to describe your music, even ever since your first album! I really enjoy it, and this new one is already a classic (My favorite tracks so far are “A Feast” and “Strange Bird”). It’s interesting for its brevity at 35 mins. and it leaves one wanting more. The thing that catches me a good deal of the time is your use of non-musical things and making them musical, and here the most obvious thing is the cell-phone interference static noise on a few of the songs. Can you talk about this and where you came up with this idea?

Lisa: On my new record No Elphants, I wanted to convey my confusion and frustration relating to people on cell phones, our abuse of communication and how this affects our relationship to the earth and its beings. So many people on their cells or computers. Not communicating is sad to me, so Jamie Candiloro and I found all sorts of sounds relating to this and added them into many parts of the record sometimes to me funny in a tragic sort of way. The communication with the animal sounds, cell and computer sounds dancing together is the point here..
Jamie is awesome–always finds what I’m hearing. Continue reading

CD Review: Matt Siffert, Morningside

I have to say that what I like about Matt Siffert’s EP Morningside right off the bat is that he gives you two straightforward tunes and then an instrumental that sounds like a music cue piece from the Rocky soundtrack–The piece I’m thinking of there is “Philadelphia Morning”, but this is “Daybreak in Alabama”, so, I don’t know if that’s a coincidence, but it’s like Matt Siffert read my mind and knew exactly what that piece would remind me of, and he instinctively knew my taste as well. Get out of my head, Matt Siffert!

“I Think of You Less” has a riff that recalls Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” with its honky-tonk stagger. “Riverside Drive” and “She’s so Enthusiastic” seem to be much more in tandem with a sort of Billy Joel or Ben Folds if those guys were living in Williamsburg. Very good rock-pop chamber arrangements with a sweet cello and mournful French horn.

This being his debut EP, I look forward to Matt’s full albums.

Click here to buy/stream Matt’s EP Morningside

Debbie Chou

Photo courtesy of James M. Graham

Debbie Chou (I believe it’s pronounced “chō”) is a wonderful singer-songwriter in the New York area that is both a solo artist and is also the featured keyboard player in The Barrens. While that band has a much louder sound, the softer-but-still-edgy side of Debbie can be found on her fine solo album titled Lovebug (ACME and Newspeak’s violinist Caleb Burhans, btw, makes a special appearance on this recording). Check the CD out here or on the link on the bottom. Debbie also loves cats, and I really should have asked her to let me see the cats while we were in conference because I could hear them meowing in the background. You’ll also find out here that Debbie herself is an avid meower.

Debbie had some time to talk via skype.

CM: Who was your biggest influence for your songwriting?

Debbie: I was very inspired by Rufus Wainwright and his album All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu.  I went to see him play at Prospect Park a couple of years ago, and it was just amazing! From that, I just started to write a lot of piano-based music. Continue reading