Tiny Stills // Interview

 Photo credit: Megan Thompson

Photo credit: Megan Thompson

TINY STILLS // INTERVIEW

INTERVIEW BY: Emily May

Los Angeles pop band Tiny Stills is the musical project of singer/guitarist Kailynn West.  West was robbed at gunpoint in 2013 and started Tiny Stills as a way to cope and work through her feelings, discovering the healing power of music in the process.  In 2014 she released her first album, Falling Is Like Flying, her response to the isolation and anxiety that comes from experiencing such a life changing event.  Influenced by bands such as Courtney Barnett, That Dog and '90s/'00s rock, West has been the core member of the project since it's inception, with a rotating cast of members over the years.  The current line up is comprised of West (vocals/guitar), Harry Foster (bass), Zach Comtois (guitar) and Tony Thaxton (drums), to whom West is married.  In 2015, a last minute line up change left an opening on a national tour featuring Bayside's Anthony Raneri and A.W., leading West to fill in as Tiny Stills and causing her project to take off.  The band's second album, Laughing Into The Void, was released on June 1st and sees West taking a more bold and upbeat stance with her songs.  Tiny Stills is currently wrapping up a tour with California pop/rock band Get Married and will performing at the Wiretap Record's 4 Year Anniversary Party on September 29th and 30th.  Emily May recently spoke by email with West.  You can stay-up-to date with the band and all upcoming tour dates, watch the band's videos and stream and purchase their music via the following links.  You can also find an event link below for information on Wiretap Record's Anniversary party.  Check out the video for "When I'm With You" below.     

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Bandcamp | Spotify | SoundCloud | YouTube | Wiretap Records Facebook event page | iTunes

You were robbed at gunpoint in 2013 and formed Tiny Stills as a way to cope and express how you were feeling. How has music helped to heal you over the years?

I wrote a bunch of music I really loved and wanted to share with the world. After being held up it was stressful to be in large public spaces with lots of strangers and it was hard to deal with crowds. I believed in the music I was making and it inspired me to face my fears and perform again. It also helped me feel more connected to people again. I felt a lot less alone after people started coming up to me and telling me that the songs really resonated with them.


I read that you decided to be an advocate, of sorts, for mental health issues through your music. Was it your goal when you started Tiny Stills to help others realize they weren't alone in their own mental health struggles? Do you have fans reach out to you often who have been helped by your music?

I don’t think I realized how much this project was going to benefit my own mental health. I just wanted to express all the struggles I was having, and then when people reached out to me and explained that they’d been there and that I helped to put something into words that they otherwise had yet to be able to express and I started to feel connected to people again. It was definitely mutually beneficial. I wouldn’t say it’s too often but every time it happens it’s pretty meaningful.


You've had 2 successful Kickstarter campaigns, one for your first album Falling Is Like Flying and one for your latest album Laughing Into The Void. How has it been to have such amazing support from your fans?

It means the world to me that I can make music. Every project has its ups and downs and it keeps me going through the hard times.


You hopped onto a national tour at the last minute in 2015 with Bayside's Anthony Raneri and A.W. and have hit the ground running ever since. How do you feel you have grown as an individual, as well as as a musician, since starting Tiny Stills? 

I think I’ve gained a lot of confidence since 2015. I really believe in this project and I really love it, and it’s been such a great outlet for me. The fact that I’ve been finding people who connect with it is really inspiring.


You co-wrote "Colorblind" with Raneri, as well as Steve Soboslai of Punchline. How did you come to work with them on the song? How often do you collaborate with other artists on songs and what do you enjoy about the collaborative process?

Anthony and I had spent 3 weeks in a car talking about music and songwriting and we knew we wanted to write some music together. We started a few ideas, but when we got stuck on a chorus melody for Colorblind, Anthony said we should call Steve because he would have some ideas. That song was really a team effort and it was fun picking their brains about their songwriting process. I always enjoy collaborating but for the most part Tiny Stills songs have been me pouring my heart out alone in my bedroom late at night and bringing it to the band later.


You took a more aggressive and upbeat approach to the songs on the new album. What prompted the transition in sound?

I wanted to make an album that reflected how I felt, which was honestly a little more prickly than the first record which is still upbeat but a little more melancholy. I was listening to a lot of Superdrag and Weezer at the time, too. It felt like a natural evolution to be a little more bold with this record.


You have made a few videos for your songs. What is your process when making a video? Do you have an idea in mind ahead of time of how you want the video to look or is it more of a collaborative effort with the director?

I usually collaborate with who ever is shooting it and try to come up with some ideas together. It’s always a group effort. My good friend Taylor Allen has shot and directed most of Tiny Stills’ music videos but I did get to work with my friend Charlie Fonville on “When I’m With You” and that was really fun! It’s not always easy coming up with ideas for videos.


You have mentioned that your music doesn't really fit into the punk/emo genre but that you find it easier to connect with those genres and the crowds they attract. Do you ever have a hard time connecting with a punk/emo audience or have they always been receptive to your music and connected with you as an artist?

I’m not sure. Maybe it does? I like punk/emo so maybe it makes sense that that audience is receptive to these songs. That “pour your heart out on stage” mentality is one I always connected with when I was writing and I find that is the case with a lot of punk/emo music. Pop music feels great to listen to, but punk/emo always made me feel things. I like music that makes me feeling things, so I try to pull the things I like from different genres and make it work. I try to make the music I want to hear.


Aside from being a musician, you are also a professional audio engineer! What led you to pursue audio engineering and to focus on recording audio books? What are some of your favorite books?

I began engineering because I wanted to record bands but the audiobook thing happened organically when I was looking for audio work. Some of my favorite books I’ve worked on are “Into the Raging Sea” by Rachel Slade about the sinking of El Faro, “Disappearance at Devil’s Rock” by Paul Tremblay and “Kristin Lavransdatter” by Singrid Undset (which won her a Nobel Prize in 1928). I’ve always loved poetry and literature. I have vivid memories of spending hours reading lyrics before I even heard the songs- specifically Ani DiFranco. Audiobooks feel like a natural evolution for me.


You are currently touring with Get Married. What have some highlights been so far from tour? I read that you sing on a track from their new album. Have you been performing it together on tour? How did your parent's jukebox come to be featured on their album cover?

Tour is amazing. I love everyone in Get Married. This is our second tour together and we always have fun together. We did a live session at “Live at the Rock Room” which is Mike Felumlee’s (The Smoking Popes, Alkaline Trio) live video series so I’m excited for that to come out. Getting to meet Mike and Eli Caterer from The Smoking Popes and talk to them a little about music was so great because I’ve got a lot of respect for that band and I think they’re great. So that was a highlight. We got to do a Daytrotter session as well which had been on my bucket list for a really long time so that was surreal and awesome. We stayed with my parents in Sacramento on the first tour this spring and that’s when they saw the jukebox and had the idea for the album cover, but we actually don’t play “Jeezy Beach” on this tour! There are so many great songs on their new record. I’m really happy for them.


You will be performing at the Wiretap Record's 4 Year Anniversary Party on September 29th and 30th. What are you looking forward to the most about the party?

I adore so many bands playing that show!! Odd Robot, Audio Karate, Divided Heaven, Mercy Music are pals and also great bands. I’m also going to get to play with Get Married again at those shows.


You have a short East Coast tour coming up before playing FEST in Gainsville, FL on October 27th! What are you looking forward to with the East Coast shows, as well as with FEST? You have mentioned that there's a lot in store for Tiny Stills after the summer tour! What's next for the band?

I always love when I can get back to the east coast. Those shows will be with Zach Comtois, Harry Foster and Tony Thaxton (Motion City Soundtrack) and they are then guys who normally play in Tiny Stills so I’m stoked to be with the regular lineup. I’m hoping to do more touring in 2019, and I’ve already started working on new music so I hope to bring that into the world somehow! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me!

Get Married // Interview

Get Married - Promo Photo.jpeg

Get Married // INTERVIEW

INTERVIEW BY: Emily May

California six-piece pop-rock/pop-punk band Get Married defy genres.  Blending the sounds of old school rock and roll, doo wop, power pop, punk, soul and metal and have created their own unique sound.  Growing up in San Jose, the band has deep roots in the South Bay's DIY Punk scene, while also blending their other influences into their music. Although the band has had some line up changes over the years, the band is solid in it's current line up, allowing the band to be themselves and solidify their sound.  Comprised of Jaake Margo (lead vocals/guitar), Randy "Bones" Moore (lead guitar), Dylan Moore (drums/backing vocals), Kayla Gonzalez (bass), Tarif Pappu (guitar/backing vocals) and Nick Kenrick (keys), the band has a love for Elvis and playing music together.  Formed by Margo in 2014, he recruited brothers Randy and Dylan Moore to play a last-minute set at a themed costume party that saw them play all Elvis covers.  After a second show together, Margo mentioned that he had some original songs and Get Married was born.  Through the ups and downs and line up changes over the years, the band has released 2 critically praised EPs, Four Songs and Into The Cosmos, several tours and record deals with both Asian Man Records and Wiretap Records.  The band's debut full-length album Sounds For The Sleepless was released on August 17th and the band is wrapping up a tour to support the album with Tiny Still that ends on September 15th in San Jose.  With plenty of momentum and passion to drive them, the band is looking to the future with optimism and a desire to keep playing together and making music.  Emily May spoke recently via email with singer/guitarist Jaake Margo.  You can stay up-to-date with the band and all upcoming tour dates, as well as where to purchase and stream their music via the following links.  Check out the video below for "Living Room" below.  

Facebook | InstagramBandcamp | Twitter | Spotify | Snapchat

Get Married formed in 2015 and you have inked deals with two labels, Wiretap Records and Asian Man Records. What prompted you to sign with two labels?

Well, a friend of ours submitted us to Wiretap while we were working on our second EP, so Rob reached out to us and we were so excited that he was interested in our music. Rob is the best and so dedicated to music, and it’s awesome to work with someone so passionate and supportive. Mike Park over at Asian Man Records is a hometown hero for us. I grew up renting Asian Man cds from the local library which was my introduction to Alkaline Trio, The Lawrence Arms, Colossal, etc.... and when we met, well the rest is history. Signing to two labels was mostly because we love working with Rob and didn’t want to stop, but we also want to work with Mike since we’re life long AMR fans, and we’re so grateful they were willing to work together!


Mike Park of Asian Man Records is a local legend for many bands, as well as a mentor. What has it been like to work with him? You've known Park for several years. Can you talk a bit about how you met him and your friendship with him over the years?

Working with Mike is awesome. Mike and I have been friends for years, since like the month I got my drivers license in high school. I ended up interning at Asian Man for a long time, packing records, picking up CDs at the planet, and helping out whenever he needed something ran somewhere. After a while I stopped interning so much as just kinda hanging out with him, and I consider him a very good friend. He comes camping with my family sometimes! I have to remind myself, Mike is one of the coolest guys in punk and I’m so grateful to know him.


You combine a variety of genres in your music, including old school rock and roll, doo wop sounds, power pop, metal, soul and rockabilly. Is it ever difficult to combine so many different genres when writing music or does it all come together smoothly?

You know, we have like zero rockabilly influence. We grew up listening to some rockabilly, but it doesn’t influence our music I don’t think! However I love doo wop and power pop and I try and go for that more straightforward rock and roll meets The Ronettes meets Ozma meets Elvis Costello meets The Ramones. Randy grew up loving metal and is an incredible guitar player because of it, so we’ll in corporate Randy’s metal sensibilities sometimes. I don’t think it’s difficult because we don’t really intentionally write in any particular style, our influences just shine through!


You all have a long time love of Elvis! What do you think it is about his music that makes it so timeless? How did your love for his music begin?

Kayla, Randy, and I are the biggest Elvis fans in the group. His music is timeless because Elvis is timeless. When I was young my mom would play Elvis records and I kinda realized he was the coolest, or that he just had this aura of coolness around him that I wanted to emulate. His voice is also crazy, there’s a video of him singing “Unchained Melody” right at the end of his life and it’s just out of this world. My favorite Elvis performance is of “Trouble” from his film King Creole. It’s the most badass thing ever.


I read that you met Nick and Tarif when you were cast as the leads in the Palo Alto Player's production of "Million Dollar Quartet", a musical inspired by Elvis's eponymous Sun Recording Sessions that redefined rock and roll as we know it. Did you guys do much theatre growing up? How would you compare acting on stage to singing on stage with a band?

Nick and I actually met doing another musical together; Spring Awakening with the Sunnyvale Community Players in 2016. We did another musical together soon after that where Nick’s character had to play the piano. That prompted me to ask him to play on our Christmas song, and when we started writing the record we decided we needed him on keys forever.

Nick and I were cast in Million Dollar Quartet and met Tarif; he played Carl Perkins who has all the lead guitar parts in the show. I brought it up to Randy, who likes write three guitar parts, that it was so much fun playing with Tarif and now he’s in the band too!

The three of us have done theater for a long time, and the biggest difference I would say is while we’re on stage with the band we are being ourselves at our purest form, while when we are acting we’re portraying a character.

(Side note, we went to the real sun studios on this tour and it was one of the coolest experiences of my life)


I read that you are one of the main songwriters for the band. How do songs come together for you? Do you have a specific theme or melody in mind when you write or is it a more spontaneous process?

It’s very spontaneous. Some kind of line will form in my head and then a melody will follow. It kind of just happens, and it’s almost never intentional.


Your first full-length album, Songs For The Sleepless, was released on August 17th. How has the response been so far? How did recording this album compare to your previous EPs?

I think the response has been pretty great! I haven’t heard anyone say anything bad other than some old punk dude on punk news say “is this what passes for punk in 2018?” Which I find hilarious. But people seem to be loving the music and our live show! The biggest difference is that it was so many more songs this time, so we were in the studio quite a bit longer.


Having gone through some line-up changes, how do you feel your sound has developed over the years? Did you set any specific goals starting out that you've accomplished? What are some of your goals as a band going forward?

Our goal is really to just do this forever, we love being in this band and doing what we do, and we truthfully don’t want it to end.

The lineup changes kind of just led us to the people who were supposed to be in the band, you know? We were always developing a sound but now that we have this line up locked down, it feels like we can really be ourselves.


What led you all to live by an all-or-nothing mantra?

Hahaha, being in bands for years and never really being on the same page as our other band members.


All 6 members of the band have been an active part, in some regard, of the San Jose punk scene since high school. What was the scene like then and has it changed in any significant way since then? Who are some current bands coming out of San Jose that you feel deserve a mention?

The scene is pretty different. I used to go to shows like every weekend, and now there’s not as many shows happening. But I feel like there’s a really cool scene on the rise with bands like New Fossils, The Cautious, The Axidents and our dear friends in a band called Wrip who are all super rad. And although they’re not new, I think everyone should listen to San Jose’s Point of View, in particular their two EPs “Burner” and “Vultures.”

Outside of San Jose, Lawn Chairs and Sarchasm are East Bay bands that should be heard!


You recently filmed and released your first music video for "Living Room". What was the inspiration behind the video, as well as the process of making it? Do you have plans to make more?

We had our amazingly talented friend Tommy Calderon from Bellingham, WA come down to San Jose, CA and spend a week with us. Living Room’s lyrics deal a lot with isolation so after some brainstorming, we came up with the concept of having an astronaut to represent loneliness and isolation. The process was great! We just drove around neighboring areas and filmed the Astronaut (played by our friend Jeremy Ryan) doing various things we thought were funny. It was awesome to have so many friends and family come out for the party scene. Really warms my heart. We might do another video sometime later in the future, but right now we’ve just been focusing on this tour and future tours.


You are currently on tour with Tiny Stills! What have some tour highlights been for you so far and what's next for the band?

Tiny Stills is so rad! Touring with her has been amazing. Randy, Dylan and Kayla have been her backing band and she’s been playing keys for us and now we’re one big family!! It’s always incredible to see friends when we go out on the road. Being able to see them is half the reason we do this. The other half is to prove the existence of aliens before Tom Delonge does.

But for real, the high light of this tour has been “mama needs a soda pop.” Ask Tiny Stills about it if you see her at a show!


311 // Live in Chicago

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311 + GYM CLASS HEROES  // LIVE AT HUNTINGTON BANK PAVILION 

PHOTOS COURTESY OF: Angela Rose