Cobi // Interview

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COBI // INTERVIEW

INTERVIEW BY: Emily May

LA-based multidimensional singer-songwriter Cobi has been creating a buzz within the industry since the release of his solo single "Don't Cry For Me" in May of 2016.  Born Jacob Schmidt in Grand Marais, Minnesota, Cobi's interest in music began when a family friend taught him a few chords on the guitar at the age of 8.  His interest grew from there, leading him to buy his first guitar with money he saved from mowing lawns.  Fueled by a passion for blues, R&B and classic rock, he taught himself how to play guitar by ear and later formed a blues band with a friend, playing covers of songs in local bars across Minnesota and Wisconsin.  He later attended Berklee School Of Music in Boston where he helped to form the indie-pop band Gentlemen Hall in 2008.  The band, who was signed to Island Def Jam Records, enjoyed a great deal of success, winning an MTV Video Music Award in 2009 for Best Breakout Boston Artist and performing at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards.  In 2014 the band split up due to artistic differences.  Cobi yearned to change course with his music, thus launching his solo career that saw a return to the blues music of his youth rather than commercial-friendly indie pop.  He signed with 300 entertainment in December of 2015 and released his breakout single "Don't You Cry For Me" the following year.  In September of 2017 he released the EP Songs From The Ashes Pt. 1, with Pt. 2 being released this year, touching on his feelings of loneliness in America, violence and everlasting love.  It is also an homage to the music he loves from the '60s -Rock, Reggae and Soul. With his full-length album set to be released next year, it's safe to say we can expect great things from Cobi going forward!  You can stay up-to-date with Cobi and all upcoming tour dates, as well as stream and purchase his music via the following links.  Check out the track "Church Of The Lonely" from his latest EP below.   

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify | SoundCloud | YouTube | Apple Music/iTunes

You learned how to play a few basic chords on the guitar when you were 8 and bought your first guitar when you were 11 using money you had saved up from mowing lawns. How old were you when you knew you wanted to play music? 
Oh, right around the time I first picked up a guitar so probably around 9 or 10 years old. The guitar was it, that was the moment.


I read that you taught yourself how play guitar by ear by listening to your Godfather's extensive and eclectic record collection. What were some of the albums you learned to play from? Who were some of the the artists that influenced your style the most?
Some of the albums I learned to play from were Led Zeppelin - Swan, the album, Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced, B.B. King records, Otis Rush records.. Stuff like that. What was the next part of the question?


Who were some of the artists that influenced your style the most?

Neil Young, Black Sabbath, Prince.. Those were the ones that kind of got me started, and then later, it turned into all different kinds of stuff.


You were singing blues music in bars in Northern Minnesota at the age of 12 and always had a vision of touring the world. What do you think sparked that passion at such a young age? 
I think it was just the unique energy I felt from playing in front of a live audience and getting to experience that at a young age really just drove me to want to continue that and get out of my small town and move down to the city and try to find ways to expand that audience.


You attended Berklee School of Music in Boston. What did you study and what was your experience like there?
I was at Berklee for a short time. I was there for two years. I studied a lot of different things, but I was mainly there for guitar and I was mainly there to get out of my small town, to get out of Minneapolis and to get into a bigger pool of musicians and stuff like that. So, I think the biggest thing I took away from Berklee was just being able to meet so many new people.


While in school, you formed the indie-pop band Gentleman Hall. The band saw a great deal of success but split up in 2014, at which time you started your career as a solo artist, gradually moving back to your bluesy-folk roots. What drew you to experiment with indie-pop and what drew you back to your roots?
I have always been interested in experimented with different styles of music, so at the time, that was something really new to me and exciting, and it was really fun to explore different sounds and different styles and kind of actually put down the guitar and do some other things with production and just to explore different style musics that was really exciting for me at the time. I think that taking all that experience that I had has allowed me to make something more unique and bringing that back to my own roots here with bluesy-folk and singer-songwriter stuff. So taking those different production ideas and kind of blending it into something that now I feel fully, totally unique into my own style that I don’t think anybody really sounds like that, like the way I do.


You have collaborated with other musicians from time to time but have found a great deal of artistic progression writing on your own. What do you enjoy about each avenue of making music and who have some of your favorite collaborations been with?
Lately, I’ve really enjoyed collaborating with Toulouse who’s an artist, he’s a really cool artist. He just recently moved out to L.A. here. I had to empty my publisher and he and I have been doing some really cool collaborations and hopefully we’ll put out a collab track soon. Another artist I really like collaborating with is Son Little. Again, emptying my publisher and we just really have a really cool time in the studio and throwing around ideas and stuff like that. So, it’s fun to be in different environments with different people because they bring things out of you that you might not have thought of or had on your own.


Are there any particular artists you would love to collaborate with in the future?
Yeah, tons. At the moment, I’d really like to collaborate with Little Dragon. I really love their stuff, specifically their singer. I love her voice. There’s probably more, I just have to think. I can’t think of things off the top of my head sometimes, I have to go look at my playlist. Oh, I’d love to collaborate with Labrinth or Diplo or Sia.


You have said that moments of self-doubt are the biggest challenges to overcome. How have you overcome those moments?
I don’t know if you ever really do overcome them. I think you just keep going, that’s it. That’s all there is to do.


What other challenges have you faced throughout your career?

I think a challenge is, in this kind of line of work, is really being able to collaborate and work effectively with a lot of different kinds of people throughout the process of getting music released, touring and just overall, getting from point A to point B through the business, and I think being able to do that is really kind of a defining factor on your success or not.


I read that you have a mantra- "Be yourself and express yourself, truly and fully". Do you ever find it hard to be authentic in the music industry?
No, I don’t find it hard for myself to be authentic, but I do find that along the way there’s other people that try to mold or shape what they think you should be. I never really crowded a part because I stayed in my own angry bee, but there’s definitely people and forces that, and maybe they have the best intentions and don’t even realize it, but try to sway you and turn you away from that, and I don’t know. I just stick to what feels right to me. 


Have you ever felt the pressure to be an artist that you're not and to play music that is not true to the kind of musician you want to be?
Yes, many times.


You used to go by Cobi Mike but have since shortened it to Cobi. What prompted the change?
I just wanted to keep things simple.


In 2016, you were one of the 4 lead vocalists for the UK EDM band Above and Beyond's International Acoustic Tour, helping to present the band's songs in an acoustic setting with piano, orchestra and other traditional instruments. How did you become involved with the tour and what was the experience like for you?
Well, Above and Beyond, their tour managers met my manager at a party here in L.A. somewhere, some Grammy party or something, and they got to talking, and they said they were looking for a vocalist for the tour.  My manager brought it over to me and was like ‘they were listening to you and how do you feel about doing it?’ and I was like ‘it might be cool.’ They wanted me to send a video in of me singing one of the songs so I just recorded that up really quick and sent it over to them and next thing I knew I was on a plane over to the UK.


You released Songs From The Ashes PT. 1 last year and Songs From The Ashes PT. 2 this year. I read that these are the first two EPs in a three part ongoing series designed as an introduction of sorts to your upcoming full-length album. What was the inspiration behind the first two EPs and what inspired the idea to do an EP trilogy leading up to your album?
Tough question to answer because I didn’t really originally want to do EPs. I wanted to do a full length record, but the record label was not ready to release a full length record on my behalf, so I was forced to turn it into EPs and release it sporadically like that. So, that wasn’t really something that I chose to do, that I wanted to do. My hand was forced in that way and I just ended up having to roll it out that way, and I don’t even know if it’s going to be three-part thing. I think the next step is just the album coming out in March.


What can people expect from PT. 3?
They can expect a full length record for PT. 3.


What's next for you? What are your goals going forward?
What’s next for me is ‘Church of the Lonely’ music video coming out and really excited about that, and then the album is dropping next year. More music is what’s next. More music, more visuals, more fun. 

Henry Chadwick // Interview

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HENRY CHADWICK // INTERVIEW

INTERVIEW BY: Emily May

California indie-pop artist Henry Chadwick has been performing music since before high school.  He and his brother formed the pop punk band My Stupid Brother, which garnered a good amount of buzz.  When his brother got married and moved away a few years later, they called it quits with the band, leaving Chadwick eager to explore different sounds and show off another musical side to himself with his new venture.  He has been creating a buzz over the past couple of years since the release of his debut EP Guest At Home, which garnered critical praise from the likes of Rolling Stone, Time Magazine, Paste Magazine and Impose.  With influences including David Bowie, The Kinks, The Beatles, T Rex, Nirvana and Green Day, Chadwick has really experimented with and solidified his sound, not locking himself in to one specific genre.  Chadwick's debut full-length album Marlin Fisher was released on August 31st to critical praise and saw him working with a producer and an engineer this time around.  Although he was still incredibly involved in the process, recording with a producer and an engineer allowed Chadwick to learn a great deal from an outside perspective.  Chadwick is a talented multi-instrumentalist and, although he has a band with him when he tours, he played all of the instruments on the album himself.   Aside from being a musician, Chadwick is also a recording engineer, having learned from his father who was a recording engineer in Hollywood in the '80s.  When his father moved the family to Ben Lomond, CA in the '90s, his father also built his own recording studio, which later allowed Chadwick to record his Guest At Home EP himself for free, freeing up money to help with the release of the EP.  Chadwick just wrapped up a tour supporting his latest album's release and hopes to release more music and tour more going forward.  You can stay up-to-date with Chadwick and all upcoming tour dates, watch his videos and purchase and stream his music via the links below.  Check out his latest video for Bag Of Chips below.     

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify | SoundCloud | YouTube | iTunes | Big Cartel

Your debut full-length album, Marlin Fisher, will be released on August 31st.  What prompted you to use your two middle names as the album title?

Well I’ve never been too fond of my middle names. I always thought they sounded more like a strange, specific occupation than middle names. A lot of the subject matter on the album touches on things about myself that I’m not too fond of in an attempt to accept them. I think that self-awareness is can be the first step to self-acceptance (or self-loathing, depending on which way you go wit it). The names embody that whole thing for me. I figured why not just put them out there and embrace them.

You recently began your Marlin Fisher tour!  How has the tour been going and what has the response been from the fans to hearing the new songs live?

Good! It’s been really cool to see how the audience reacts to different songs and to try and adjust the set list accordingly. We’ve only just started, but I think the response has been good! Lots of head bobbing and occasional dancing.

Aside from being a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, you are also a recording engineer and recorded your 2016 debut EP, Guest at Home, yourself in your father's studio.  Having recorded your upcoming album with producer Rob Schnapf and engineer Brian Rosemeyer, how did working with a producer and engineer compare with doing your EP yourself?  What do you feel that Schnapf and Rosemeyer contributed to the recording process and how involved were you with the recording side of the album?

It was a really awesome experience and very different from the last time around. Last time was done guerrilla style. I’d go in the studio when I had a few hours and add some layers, then listen to it and think about it and add more later. This time I did a lot of that ahead of time, with the demos. When I went in the studio for real, we did a day of pre production and re-arranging, a day of drums and then moved song to song. We finished a song in about one to 3 days (from noon til 10 PM or later. ) It was really cool to just be completely absorbed in the song from start to finish and to hear it back at the end of a couple days already almost done. Having Rob and Brian’s musical, technical and creative prowess was invaluable in a lot of ways. Things like not settling on the first guitar voicing or harmony and really reaching to get the best takes and right sounds for the songs, were things I may have taken for granted without their help. I learned a lot about guitar in that stretch of time. It almost felt like guitar lessons for a good chunk of each day. I think he also has a good ear for leaving moments and quirks in the recordings that are cool and add life as opposed to things that are obvious mistakes and clunkers.

The new album has been described as your most ambitious and personal work to date.  What was the songwriting process like for the album?  How do you feel that you've grown as an artist since starting your solo project?

I was going through some writers block for a while. I think I was bored of the things I was coming up with, and then I realize I was getting sort of bored with myself and stagnant and a little jaded in general. I decided to write about that and that opened up the flood gates. I feel like the album sort of works through the different aspects of that, from what it’s like being in it, to not wanting to be in it and wanting to feel better, to working through it and finding some peace and happiness.

You played the guitar, bass, drums and keyboard when recording the album.  What prompted you to play all of the instruments yourself?

Well I’ve always had a tendency to record all/most of the parts myself. The last EP was mostly just me in the studio by myself. I think it’s often been out of necessity. This time around I didn’t really have a band together yet when I went into the studio, and I knew what I wanted everything to sound like, more or less. It was easier to just try and knock most of it out myself, then figure out all the logistics of bringing in other musicians and teaching them all the stuff. That said, we brought in a really great session bass player, Jonathan Flaugher for “Bag Of Chips”, “Peace and Quiet” and “I Can Stick Around”. He added way more to the tracks than I could have even thought up. Rob Schnapf, the producer, also played a few killer guitar licks here and there if he heard something that was easier done than explained. So I can’t take all the credit.

You were in a pop-punk band with your brother a few years ago called My Stupid Brother.  I read that you were anxious to show off a new musical side to yourself after a few years, prompting you to work on writing and recording Guest at Home as a solo artist.  What do you think prompted your change in course, musically speaking?  What was it that led you to want to explore new sounds?

I was indeed. That sort of music really spoke to me growing up. As I got a little older, I started to feel a little restricted by it. I like so many different types of music, and I felt sort of trapped in a genre. Looking back, I made up a lot of that in my head. I’m sure I could have made whatever type of music I wanted, under whatever name. For whatever reason, I felt like I needed to make music under my own name, and then If my music taste changed, so would my music and it would always feel appropriate.

Aside from recording your own material, you have also recorded other band's albums over the years.  How often do you record for other bands?  What do enjoy the most about the recording process?

I record bands pretty often, I really like it. I work out of a couple different local studios in town - The Compound Recordings, and my dad’s local private studio, Hale Kua. I love being a part of the creating and shaping music. I think growing up and being frustrated and obsessed with figuring out how to make recordings sound the way I wanted, helps give me an understanding of what it’s like for the artist, and motivates me to try and guide the recording into what they want. I like it because it’s creative and always different, and never about me.

Your father was a recording engineer in Hollywood in the 1980s and built his own recording studio in the '90s.  How instrumental has your father been in helping you in your pursuit of music and recording?  What kind of advice has he given you over the years?  Being a recording engineer, as well as a musician, do you feel like that knowledge/skill gives you an advantage in the industry?
He’s definitely been instrumental and supportive and still is. Having a recording studio to learn and explore in as a kid was huge in itself. He recorded my first bands first couple of records when I was in Jr. Hi/High-school and taught us what he was doing along the way. He also helped instill principals like the importance of remembering what you want and working towards it a little every day. There is still a lot I don’t know, but I think having the knowledge and experience I do have has been really helpful at times. For example, I was able to record the first EP for free, and save money for other things around the release. I was also, as a result of growing up with it, better able to collaborate with a producer this time around I think, since I had some knowledge of what to ask for, and for what he was asking for.

You have mentioned that every time you make something, there are things you learn and like and wish to repeat and things you wish you'd done differently.  What are some things you learned and liked about the making of Guest at Home that you wished to repeat on Marlin Fisher and what are some things you decided to do differently?

I learned that dropping the idea of a destination for the music’s sound was a good thing, if that makes sense. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I think that making music that is authentic means dropping the filter a little bit and letting all the unique combination of influences sneak into the writing. I like music that seems like it could live in multiple genres. I don’t know if I achieved that or not, but I’d like to think I keep getting closer. As far as doing things differently, I wanted to work with a producer, and I’ve been a fan of Rob Schnapf’s work for a while. I wanted a change in the process, and I think that having a producer that I respected to help shape the songs with a different brain and set of ears helped make something new and different from the last batch of songs.

You have made several videos for your songs.  What is your video making process?  Do you go into each one with an idea of what you want the video to look like?   

It’s been different for different ones. The videos for “Alright”, “Overtime” and “Change were done by some friends here in Santa Cruz, who have a great production company, called Element Production. I had a rough idea for concept with “Alright” and “Change”, and we honed it in together. “Overtime” was their idea, and I love how that one turned out. My brother, George shot and edited the video for “The Two Of Us”. I also made a few stop motion lyric videos this time around using and app on my iPhone called Stop Motion, for the songs “Wrong Way”, “Crawl” and “Bag Of Chips”. It was time consuming and meticulous but really fun and rewarding.

  

What's next for you?   

Well I’m going to put this album out, and tour. I’d like to get out and play more consistently this time around. After that I’m going to put more music out. I have about 10 songs that are unrecorded/unreleased, and I’m excited to start looking at/tweaking with them. In generally it would be great to release music more frequently, and play music more frequently.

LUTHI // Interview

 Photo Credit- Alex Justice

Photo Credit- Alex Justice

LUTHI // INTERVIEW

INTERVIEW BY: Emily May

Nashville's funk/rock band LUTHI's main goal as a band is to bring the party to the crowd.  With a sound that's described as "Boogie Circus", the nine piece band loves to help others let loose and have a good time.  Comprised of Christian Luthi (vocals), Taylor Ivey (guitar), Johnny Williamson (guitar), Luke Iverson (keyboard), Taylor Craft (bass), Robert Gay (trumpet), Amber Woodhouse (saxaphone), Carl Gatti (trombone) and Patrick Futrell (drums), the band draws influences from '60s Soul and R&B, '70s psychedelic funk and groove and '80s New Wave rock and roll.  They love to "keep it weird", but in the best possible way.  Luthi founded the band after moving to Nashville from Wisconsin several years ago, planning to stay just a few months but those months turned into years.  It was in Nashville that he met Ivey in the fall of 2009 and the two of them started playing Americana together around Nashville for the next few years.  The two were not exclusively Americana and eventually transitioned into LUTHI after having Wes Bailey from Moon Taxi play synth at one of their shows.  It was then that LUTHI was born.  The band released it's debut albumStranger in May and have been touring in support of the album since then, performing festivals as well has providing support for Moon Taxi on a few dates of their current tour.   You can stay up-to-date with the band, upcoming tour dates, check out their videos and purchase their music via the links below.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify | Soundcloud | iTunes | YouTube

You just released your debut album Stranger. What was the inspiration behind the album and what was the writing and recording process like? Does everyone share in the songwriting?

CL: The inspiration behind the album was vast. We didn’t title it until we worked through everything. The writing has been a process over 6-8 years. Some tracks are new. Some are old. Often Christian will work through song ideas first and then the band will elaborate along with various producers. 

LUTHI has been called the "Boogie Circus" due to your passion for helping others let loose! What drives your passion for music and performing? What goes into preparing for your live show?

CL: Our passion for music is innate. Everyone in the band has a different background in music and also different pre-show rituals. Really we try to stay in a positive headspace and just have fun. Usually that’s not too hard.

I read that you like to "keep it weird", combining influences of soul and R&B from the '60s, psychedelic funk and groove from the '70s and new wave and rock and roll from the '80s to create your own brand of dance music. Have you found it challenging to combine so many influences into a cohesive sound? Who would you all count as musical influences, both past and present?

CL: Creating something cohesive is always challenging when there are multiple writers, but we always have a constant string running from track to track. Our musical influences range from Steely Dan to Allman Brothers, Sly and the Family Stone, Curtis Mayfield, Aretha, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Talking Heads, and now LCD Soundsystem, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Anderson Paak, and the list goes on and on.

Christian- You moved from Wisconsin to Nashville 9 years ago, originally only planning to stay a few months. What led you to move to Nashville as opposed to a different city and to stay longer than a few months? What do you love about the Nashville music scene? 

CL: As soon as I started meeting members of the band it felt like home. I enjoyed the pace of Nashville and the eclectic mix in the music scene.

Did you guys find it challenging at all to break into the Nashville music scene with your style of music or did people quickly embrace your music and live shows?

CL: It all happened organically. Our goal wasn’t to do something different, it was just to do something we all genuinely enjoyed doing. People started feeling that energy and coming along for the ride.

Christian and Taylor- Can you talk a bit about the evolution of LUTHI? I read that the two of you met in Nashville and hit it off musically, playing together for a while before forming LUTHI.

TI: I was living with Christian’s good buddy from Wisconsin. We were looking for a roommate and Christian decided to make the jump down to Nashville. We made a couple of Christian Luthi records with myself and Luke “Boots” Iverson, who is still our keyboard wizard. As far as the rest of the band goes, as we started moving into the realm we exist in now, we called on good friends that we’d played with before, or were playing with in other bands or for other artists. When it came time to round out the band, we knew exactly who we wanted from the get go. We’re all buddies first, and band-mates second.

Christian- I read that you came to love funk while forming LUTHI. Could you talk a bit about your funk evolution and how has turning to funk music helped you grow as a musician?

CL: My funk evolution started when we learned to play some songs by Bill Withers and I was introduced to a band called Stuff. Funk has shown me how to let lose and almost create a gospel like vibe in a show. I enjoy the community that funk music creates.

Taylor- You've mentioned that the member's differences make the band. It what way do you feel that the band member's differences have made the band a success? What does each person bring to the band?

TI: Absolutely, they have made it a success. Aside from a myriad of influences coming from each member of the band, each person's approach to and command of their instrument makes for the most entertaining interplay. Not just entertaining for the audience, but mostly entertaining for each other. There’ll be times when a drum fill or a guitar or keyboard line gets snuck into an otherwise standard part of a song and that’ll draw laughter and, often times, a musical reaction from the whole band.

Christian- You and Amber both sing in the band. Did your voices harmonize well in the beginning or was it something you had to work at?

CL: It’s always been a good blend with Amber since the beginning, but yea it always requires hard work. The blend is something that is just natural. I always thought Amber went to school for voice, then I found out it was for sax!

You all do what you want as a band, not conforming to any specific sound, and your fans have responded well. Have you faced any specific challenges from being an unsigned band or or do you feel that has afforded you the opportunity to do music your way?

TI: So far we’ve not experienced any challenges. This whole band came together on the idea of doing things our way, and as long as we can continue rolling with the punches and keeping the circus on the road, we’re sticking to it.

What's next for the band? What tours/festivals are you especially excited for?

TI: Festival season is slowing down for us, but we had a great summer bouncing around the country to some of our all time favorite festivals. Closing out 2018, we have a number of shows with Moon Taxi, who we’ve toured with before, and Here Come The Mummies, who we’ve always enjoyed but not had the chance to play with yet. Some things are in the works for New Year’s Eve, so keep an eye out for an announcement soon!