At WIUX’s Music Market on March 26th, 2022, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Namen Namen, an alt-rock band from Fort Wayne, Indiana. We discussed their performance at Music Market, their freshly-released EP, and their plans for the future. Enjoy! (Alanna) We were so excited to have you perform at WIUX’s Music Market festival! Please introduce yourself to WIUX’s audience. (Zara) Hello my name is Zara McCord and I play the bass guitar. (Ron) My name is Ron Record and I play the drums in Namen Namen. (Kellen) My name is Kellen Baker and I play guitar in Namen Namen. (Dylan) My name is Dylan Record and I am the singer. The band had a great time cracking jokes while introducing themselves. It was explained that Ron and Dylan are twins and Kellen made a joke that he is the “four leaf clover of the band” because his name doesn’t rhyme like his bandmates' last names do. My next question for you is how did you guys come together as a group? (Ron) Well they’re lovers [pointing to Zara and Kellen], and we’re brothers [pointing to himself and Dylan]. (Zara) Kellen and I have been dating since middle school. (Kellen) We had a new wave cover band in high school and then that kind of fizzled out. We all started writing our own music and then came back together a few years later with a fresh lease on life and put it all together and created Namen Namen. It was very sweet to hear that Namen Namen started from young love, friendship, and a high school cover band. Zara and Kellen have been dating for a very long time and I think the formation of Namen Namen follows a similar narrative to other bands in this genre- taking some time apart and then finding their way back to creating with one another. That’s a great segway into my next question which is how did Namen Namen get its name? (Dylan) Actually from the Muppets. You know how they always name that sound “namanama”? (Kellen) Yeah if you push the sound forward and cut off part of it, that’s how the name was formed. The band joked that the name was decided through a very meticulous process when in reality it was decided very quick. In band origin stories I have heard before, bands have named themselves based on acronyms (5 Seconds of Summer- 5SOS), purpose (One Direction- 5 solo vocalists coming together as a group), and even last names (MCXX.- based on the front man’s last name); however, I have never heard of a band using a abbreviated sound as their band name. What is the band’s favorite song to play live? (Kellen) Our new single. Actually all six songs on our new EP out April 1st [the EP wasn’t out yet at the time of the interview] on Massif Records out of Chicago, Illinois. The band was very clever in mentioning their new EP that was releasing a few days after the interview. The band’s self-titled EP can be found anywhere you stream your music and a review of this EP will be coming shortly to the WIUX website. Is this your first record? Tell me a little more about this EP. (Kellen) Massif is a one-man operation under PJ Sauerteig. Someone in Fort Wayne sent him our music and he took a liking to it. We had a couple conversations with PJ before he came to one of our shows in Fort Wayne at the Brass Rail and in his own words, he had seen all he needed to see; he was up to release the record and we were super excited [to work with him]. This is the band’s first record and they were very excited to share about their experience meeting and recording with PJ Sauerteig. Up until this point, there had only been a couple singles released by Namen Namen so I was excited to learn more about the songs and recording process. What more can you tell me about the songs on this record? (Ron) We recorded the songs in Nashville, Tennessee. (Zara) We recorded at Blackbird Studios where lots of cool people have also recorded. (Kellen) A friend I met many years ago, Tommy Cannon, was a student at the Blackbird Academy. They all have a project at the end of their semester where they’re supposed to record a song. They have one session booked out, which between setup and teardown is about four hours of recording time. We did the whole EP in four hours. We had played the songs live quite a bit at that point. (Dylan) We had the songs down pat so we were able to record them quickly. Loads of well-known artists such as Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson have also recorded at Blackbird Studios. The band shared that they were able to record there for free because of Kellen's long-time friend who used recording with the band as a project for his studies at the Blackbird Academy. The band was so excited for their first professional recording session that they ambitiously recorded six songs in a four hour recording session which is insane. You guys perform with sunglasses on stage. What’s the story behind that? (Zara) We’ve never gotten that question before. (Kellen) A lot of artists that we look up to perform with shades on so it became a tradition. The band explained that wearing sunglasses to perform occurred naturally and a big reason for this is because it makes them more comfortable on stage without making awkward eye contact with audience members. They also want to seem a little mysterious. Who are your biggest musical influences? (Zara) We like… (Ron) King Cruel. (Zara) Yeah! And we like… (Dylan) James Brown. (Zara) And we like… (Kellen) The Wipers. It was so cool how the group collectively agreed on their biggest musical influences. The artists that they named range from singer-songwriters to funk and punk-rock. How do you guys curate your stage presence? What is your rehearsal process like? (Dylan) For me, I think for all of us, it’s a theatrical performance because we are performers. (Zara) Moving around the stage and everything, you are a performer. You’re putting on a show. But, at the same time, we don’t have any choreography or anything. (Kellen) It’s different every single night for us. When we practice in my basement we’re usually sitting down. The band explained that their audience’s energy greatly affects their performance and stage presence. They don’t practice any sort of stage antics, what happens on stage is their reactions to those around them in real-time. The final question I have for you is one I like to ask all of the artists I interview. What are your goals as a band? Within the near future or later on down the road? (Ron) My goal is to have fun and continue to make music I enjoy with my friends. (Zara) I want to play Pitchfork Music Festival. Music Market is the first step. (Kellen) As long as I am proud of what we’re doing and enjoying it musically, anything else that may come along is a product of what we’re doing. Being friends and making music together. (Dylan) I kind of want to be famous a little bit. I want people to hear our music and I want to be creatively fulfilled. We’ll see how it goes as time passes. It’s fun to create good music with good people and unique voices. Each of the band members had slightly different goals they named, but each added up to the same thing all together- to continue to make music with each other and to share it with the world. They have diverse goals big and small that I’m sure they’ll meet. WIUX’s Music Market 2022 was my first introduction to Namen Namen and it was so special being able to share a post-performance chat with the four band members. Make sure to check out Namen Namen’s newly-released EP and maybe even catch one of their upcoming shows! Listen to Namen Namen’s EP, Namen Namen HERE. Watch the official music video for “The One I Love Most” HERE. Catch Namen Namen at one of their upcoming shows! 4/21 with Heavy Mother - The Root Cellar - Bloomington, Indiana 4/22 with Man of the Flood - The Ruin - Fort Wayne, Indiana 4/23 with BRNDA - Blockhouse - Bloomington, Indiana 4/24 with Screaming Females - The Muse on Main - Fort Wayne, Indiana Follow Namen Namen on social media for more updates HERE.
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In March I got to speak with self-proclaimed alternative pop group MCXX. about their upcoming sophomore album i will always want you, being in a band across multiple states, and how four unlikely friends formed a band. I spoke with Adam (lead singer/songwriter/front man) and Vincent (lead guitar player). They were preparing to head to Nashville, Tennessee to continue recording on their second album and meet up with the other two members of the band, Levi and Josh. Josh plays drums for the band; Levi plays the keyboard and is also the mixing engineer for their upcoming album. If you had to describe your style of music in three words, what would they be? (Adam and Vincent) eccentric, “vibe-y”, and mood. All of the members of the band write the songs and equally put their styles on each of their tracks. Vincent went first choosing his words. Adam and Vincent said they have a song for any mood a fan could be in. Out of the band's songs, which do you love to perform or play most often? Most relatable? (Vincent) All of them are such a blast to play. (Adam) The four of us write our favorite songs so that’s a hard choice. We should only ever write and play our favorite songs. All their songs have a certain amount of joy they give each of the members and each song is exciting to them. “This is our favorite band, and we also get to play in it.”- Adam. What modes of communication do you use to stay connected as a band most often? (Adam) texting and Snapchat (Vincent) a lot of FaceTime. Adam and Vincent joked that when they’re in a relationship, their girlfriends get mad because they are always talking to each other. Tell me a little bit more about how y’all came together as a band. (Adam) All four of us played in punk bands before we were in MCXX. (Vincent) It’s almost like a supergroup in a way. “A side project that became a main project.” -Vincent The band has been together since around 2016. Between 2014 and 2016, they were around the same crowds and in the same scenes very often. Levi was in a rival band; Adam met Josh through one of his best friends. Do you guys have a favorite performance memory? Or a couple? (Vincent) Adam and I have been writing partners on the cusp of 10 years so with him I have a few but with MCXX., my favorite memory would be our album release show for Sourmouth (their debut album). Adam said that his favorite memories actually come from shows that didn’t go so well because they were humbling and a learning experience. Adam then went on to explain a story from one of their gigs that wasn’t great. They were opening for another artist and the artist was late so MCXX. started doing soundcheck and then got off stage when the other artist arrived so their set got cut short. Your songs “Thunder”, “Egyptian Cotton”, and “Hair” prior to your upcoming album are awesome as well as their music videos! What can you tell me and the fans about your upcoming release/projects/songs? (Adam) Glad you liked the songs! Our upcoming album is our sophomore album and we’re doing all of the production on it. It’s entitled i will always want you. The band members wrote these songs over two years. The members of the band aren’t sure about the track listing yet at the time of the interview, but the album would be considered to band members “an album of singles” and they are proud of each song. Where can fans find these new projects when they are released? (Vincent) They’ll be available everywhere. Anywhere you can stream music: Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, you name it. We’ll get some physical copies and merch and a deluxe album edition. On this deluxe album edition there will be up to three extra tracks, demos, commentary, soundscape, and more! New merch is in the works. “Pure joy and excitement!” -Adam Speaking of recording and writing your own music, tell me more about what it’s like going through the whole process and having full creative control. (Adam) It wasn’t like this with previous bands. It was mainly guys in a room writing songs instead of a collaboration and we all [MCXX.] record and take part in the work we produce. (Vincent) The pandemic has been good and bad [in writing, producing, and collaborating with each other on a regular basis]. The bandmates are especially excited about the upcoming track “free somewhere”. Levi recorded the demo and then Adam wrote and recorded the vocals within around 1 or 2 hours. “Tech is great. Each album is a representation of where the band is on a timeline and mentally.” -Vincent You guys mentioned you don’t live together- tell me more about staying connected? (Vincent) We don’t even live in the same states. (Adam) If we come together to play a show, we come together and feed off each other’s energy. Different points of creativity are beneficial. Adam is from Las Vegas, Nevada, Vincent is from northern Indiana, Levi is from Nashville, Tennessee, and Josh is from central Indiana. Where do you see the band in 5 years and what is a main goal for right now? (Adam) A goal right now and a central focus is to just deliver the best album to our fans. If we love it, we know they will love it. (Vincent) Playing these songs in front of audiences and hopefully on the festival circuit [Bonnaroo, Hangout, Lollapalooza, and others] meeting other bands and fans. “As long as I get to write music with these guys, I’m cool.” -Adam They hope to travel internationally with their music and they think they’re their own worst critics when it comes to their music. “We’ll be wherever we need to be.” -Vincent I had a blast on my phone call with MCXX., and you can tell that these are four guys that are meant to be together as a band. Not only do the four band members work really well together, they each discover their passion for music deeper as individuals through their bandmates. In my opinion, this is what makes their sound so captivating. For all upcoming announcements, memos, and band updates check out mcxxmusic.com or their social media! LinkTree: https://linktr.ee/mcxxmusic
Back in August of this year I was able to chat with Justus Bennetts, a music artist with many talents from Seattle, Washington currently based in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had a wonderful conversation with him talking about the past, present, and future of his music career. (Alanna) : If you had to describe your style of music in three words, what would they be? (Justus) Genre-wise I would say pop, rock, and rap. My music is a mixture of everything I listened to growing up because that’s the music I take inspiration from and what I choose to put into the music I create now. Justus explained that growing up he listened to Linkin Park, Green Day, Pearl Jam, and other punk-rock artists when he was young because his dad loaded up his iPod with the music he listened to. When Justus got into high school he started listening to more Hip Hop and Rap like Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole among other similar artists. (Alanna): How has the Covid-19 Pandemic affected your music? (Justus) Before Covid happened I wasn’t taking my music seriously, it was more of a hobby. I have been writing music since I was 14, but other than recording music every now and then in my bedroom, I hadn’t stopped to record any material until Covid gave me the chance. Justus used the fresh start of 2021 to start releasing music on a consistent basis using the platforms of SoundCloud and TikTok to his advantage and then evolving into Apple Music while he was becoming more serious about his love of music. (Alanna): What inspired you to become an artist, and what are some of your biggest musical influences? (Justus) Really what inspired me to become an artist is not wanting to work for anyone else. I would call myself more of a business person rather than a musician. On a regular basis I listen to a lot of mainstream artists like The Kid LAROI, Polo G, and a lot of Hip Hop stuff. I listen back to my own stuff a lot to keep improving. Justus explained that he listens to his own materials more than anything because he critiques himself in order to grow as an artist. (Alanna): I would love to hear a little bit more on your writing and recording process as well as your methods of creative decisions. (Justus) My songs are all reflections of my life. “Real Life Sux” is about real events that happened in my life. For my writing, sometimes throughout the day a phrase will come into my head and I’ll write it down. A lot of writing and creative decisions come during the sessions- finding melodies and matching them with the words. I love working with other writers but I also enjoy writing by myself a lot. (Alanna): How have you continued your creative process through the struggles of the Covid-19 pandemic? (Justus) In many ways, the pandemic is one of the best things that ever happened to me. I wouldn’t be where I am today if the pandemic didn’t happen. I would still be in college, I wouldn’t have taken music so seriously, and when I moved home for a while I was working and making money to open my own studio which started during the pandemic. Justus started his own studio during the pandemic. He got reconnected with an old high school friend and the studio started as a small business while Justus worked but then he decided to quit his job to spend more time at the studio and making his music. His friend from high school was helping Justus with his music (mixing and recording) and when they realized there was room for a studio, they decided to jump on the opportunity. They call the private studio One Media and it all started back in January. (Alanna): What can you tell me and the fans about your upcoming release/projects/songs? (Justus) “Bad Day” is out now which is my most recent release and then I have an EP coming out later this year probably around November called “High On Life” with about 8 or 9 songs. “Bad Day” is now a smash hit all over TikTok so if you haven’t heard it already, you will. A catchy punk-inspired pop song all about that one person that gets under your skin, its relatability is what is driving its success in my opinion. (Alanna): Where do you see yourself in 5 years and what is the main goal for right now? (Justus) In five years I hope to be supporting myself fully off of my music. In five years I see myself going on tour and connecting with fans on a larger scale than I’m doing now. A main goal right now is to have my EP ready and out soon as possible while developing my writing and voice skills to become a better musician each day. Stream “Bad Day” wherever you get your music! Spotify- Justus Bennetts Apple Music- Justus Bennetts Soundcloud Justus Bennetts TikTok: @justusbennetts Check him out on social media!: Instagram- @justusbennetts Twitter- @BennettsJustus Facebook- @benettsjustus YouTube- Justus Bennetts
After a year of isolation, Bloomington inhabitants and artists from around the world emerged in full bloom at this year’s Lotus World Music and Arts Festival. Lotus Festival, which was established in 1994, draws its name from both Indiana musician Quinten “Lotus” Dickey as well as from the Lotus flower, which grows throughout the world. The annual festival celebrated both local musicians and different cultures on September 23-26, 2021 by hosting performances in different venues around Bloomington. The festival featured a mix of ticketed and free workshops and performances over its four-day span. Saturday afternoon’s array of performances occurred at Switchyard Park and were free to attendees. One group that performed was Blato Zlato, a New Orleans-based Balkan band. Their name, which means “Swamp Gold” in Bulgarian, pays homage to marshy Louisiana. In their original songs, they sang of the water that feeds but also destroys New Orleans, which particularly resonates following the recent destruction caused by Hurricane Ida. The dark nature of their songs, which featured three-part harmonies and jilting rhythms, contrasted greatly to the sunny park and dancing audience they performed to. On the other end of the park, groups gave musical lectures on the side stage. One such group called Nohe & Sus Santos covered traditional Latinx songs but also put their own spin on classics like Prince’s “Purple Rain.” The band plays music in the style of Huapango, a Mexican genre known for its complicated rhythms. Honduran vocalist Nohelia Sosa’s soulful voice beautifully offset the grooves created by the electric guitar, bass, and percussion. Sunday’s closing performance featured Tuvergen Band at Buskirk-Chumley Theater. The Chicago-based group, which plays Mongolian-fusion music, impressed the audience with its wide array of handmade instruments. Singer Tamir Hargana manipulated his voice to sing multiple tones at the same time, in a practice commonly known as Mongolian throat singing. Alongside Hargana was percussionist Brent Roman who simultaneously played the didgeridoo, cymbals, drums, and bells and Naizal Hargana who played the Morin Khurr, a horse head fiddle with two strings. After a year devoid of live music and community, the Lotus Festival brought together the two in a glorious display of talent. Through the free-spirited dancing of the attendees and the smiles on the musicians faces, it was easy to tell that everyone was happy to be there. For more information on the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival visit: https://www.lotusfest.org/ PHOTOS BY HAYNEN MATSUDA-JOHNSON & NATALIE INGALLS
The Bluebird is home to performances by legendary artists such as Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, and Umphrey’s McGee - and the next one is about to roll into town! Country-Rock Singer-Songwriter with an Americana twist Chris Knight will be performing at The Bluebird (216 N. Walnut) here in Bloomington, Indiana on Thursday, July 22nd at 8 PM ET. The Bluebird is 21+ and tickets will be $20 which can be purchased at https://wl.seetickets.us/event/Chris-Knight/432286?afflky=BluebirdNightclub. Chris Knight has been a recording artist for 23 years with nine studio albums released to date and takes pride in making music that is rooted in truth for him, saying “If I can’t believe myself, I won’t sing the song.” Chris Knight is critically acclaimed with reviews from The New York Times (“the last of a dying breed…a taciturn loner with an acoustic guitar and a college degree”) and USA Today (“a storyteller in the best traditions of Mellencamp and Springsteen”). Chris Knight says: “If I don’t have something worth saying, I’m not opening my mouth. I haven’t suited everybody, but every time I get a new fan it tells me I’m doing something right. I think all my records have set a precedent, if only for me at the very least. I just want people to think the latest one stands up to everything else I’ve done;” truth and intentionality is at the heart of everything Chris Knight does. We forecast a spectacular performance that fits perfectly in the historic Bluebird venue. This is one you don’t want to miss! What’s next?: Watch the Niangua Sessions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ylb7RwJn4dk Stream Almost Daylight: https://promo.theorchard.com/xJV92Dhd3H0yiIfUCAUS Check out more information on Chris Knight at www.chrisknight.net
On April 26th I had the privilege of hopping on a Zoom call with Sonny Dayes, an independent folk singer-songwriter emerging from his home base in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Meeting through a mutual connection, I was so excited to hear more about Dayes’ intriguing and unique sound, as well as gain insight on his self-produced album, Enjoy the Rain, released in February of 2021. If you had to describe your style of music in three words, what would they be? Music evokes an emotional response, so depending on whatever emotion the song or album evokes, that can best describe the style. My music is naturally lively, joyous, and heartfelt. Through this I wish to take listeners and fans on a journey. Congratulations on your recently released material! I would love to hear a little bit more on your writing and recording process as well as your methods of creative decisions. Composition for me originally takes place through two avenues. One, I have an idea for the music as I’m playing. As I’m playing, there are various moments of inspiration such as other songs I like and experimentation. From there I assign this music a theme or topic or feel with the words. The other composition method I use is when I have an idea for the song, and I write the music and lyrics at the same time. This depends on the inspiration and journey of the process. [After this] I get into a head space of writing lyrics and songs and then this moves into a recording and production headspace for me. I always say whatever I’m up to is my favorite part so currently that is writing, but when this moves into recording that will transition into my favorite part. The creative process takes me a long time sometimes with an idea to mull it over and sculpt a story. My aim is to take a complicated idea and pinpoint it into my songs with flexibility and intention. Taking from this theme of inspiration, what inspired you to become an artist, and what are some of your biggest musical influences? For me there has always been an inner desire to produce and create original work. I can remember having that since I was a kid and I always loved jamming and improvisation. Back at college I had a buddy and we wanted to start a cover band playing bars just us two and maybe some percussion but, in the end, jamming worked well for not only my work with that friend but also in my own creativity. There’s an innate desire that I think comes from my adventurous personality. This gives me the same feeling of exploring because it’s exciting to me. When I was able to focus all my time on writing is when I just went for it. The second part of the question was about my musical idols and to name a few: Neil Young ,thanks to my cousins; the band Yes because of their ethereal and almost fairytale psychedelic rock style of writing, and John Mayer. Finally, Gil Scott-Heron, a jazz artist who had a song that became very popular with the Black Lives Matter movement: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. Your creative process seems so raw and rewarding, what can you tell me about how your creative process led to the composition of the album that was released in February? Enjoy the Rain is a hero’s journey through being in love. The first three songs are love songs- “Garden of Love”, “She Loves You”, and “63 Degrees”, then heartbreak and breakup songs (“Bluebird”, “In the Rain”, “Pass Me the Bottle”, and “Dreams”), and self-discovery/self-love (“The Comet”, and “You Say You Love Me”). I purposefully wrote the songs in a major key so it would have a more positive vibe even with vulnerable topics. The message remained important to me throughout a transitional period of my life. Where do you see yourself in 5 years and what would be a main goal for right now? A goal I have for right now is to make demos for ten songs I have picked out for the next album. I want to be able to record them in full with a top line producer. A five-year goal would be a world tour because I love to perform, and I love to travel. Enjoy the Rain can be found on Spotify and Apple Music. Visit https://www.sonnydayes.com/ for more information!