Ervin Munir, The Interview Series.

Hello, Ervin! What inspired the theme of seizing opportunities and pursuing aspirations in “Chase The Moon,” and how does it resonate with your personal experiences?

This song reflects my music career to date. To make it in the music business you need to take risks artistically and physically (by putting yourself out here) to create a unique impression and to get known. Fear is what has held me back in the past and I feel like I’m finally conquering it. 

Can you walk us through the creative process behind “Chase The Moon,” from its inception to its final production?

The trigger for this song was a thriller series I was watching on Sky TV. The protagonist said “Let’s chase the moon” or something like that. I stopped watching and went immediately to my studio and began writing. 

I hit on a theme of travelling to exotic places as a metaphor for taking risks, and began writing the lyrics. I felt that it needed to be a simply structured song to more easily get the message across. 

I sang a melody in my head for the first line and a chord sequence emerged.

It was one of my quicker songs to write. 

Collaborations often bring fresh perspectives and new dimensions to music. How did working with Aeron Z Jones on lap steel and mandolin accompaniments influence the sound and feel of “Chase The Moon”?

I play this song live a lot, so I was already happy with the acoustic version. But Aeron’s sensitive playing of the mandolin and especially the lap-steel guitar gave the studio version much more depth and interest. He also played a bit of classical guitar on it I think and that little solo is really nice. I really like working with Aeron in the studio. I recommend him.

“Chase The Moon” seems to mark a significant evolution in your musical style. Could you share any intentional artistic choices or explorations you made in this single that differ from your previous releases?

It’s one of those things that I don’t want to investigate in depth because it feels fragile and I might break it. I haven’t done anything consciously to change my musical style. 

That said, these days  I am more willing to explore sounds beyond the acoustic soundscape I usually use. This doesn’t really show itself so much in “Chase the Moon” but is more obvious in some of the other singles, and the album, I’ll be releasing later this year. 

With the release of “Chase The Moon” and the promise of more music to come, what overarching message or journey do you hope to convey to your audience through your upcoming releases, including the anticipated second album?

I think people will see an evolution in style over time, and like both the stuff on “Broken Compass” (2023), and the stuff on the new album. Most people that follow me know I am on a journey and they have been impressed with what they have heard so far. I hope they continue to follow me as I take more risks and chase the moon on this journey. 

Photo Credit: Ervin Munir.

Marsha Swanson, The Interview Series.

Marsha, your album ‘Near Life Experience’ has been celebrated for its emotional depth. Can you share with us the personal journey or experiences that inspired the creation of ‘Love’s Not Late’?

This song was originally written as an ode to my mum for her 70th birthday celebration. I wanted to deliver a timely message of love that could properly capture the key values that I had learned from her. One of these was the value of creativity as an essential life force. The other was the high priority she placed on being a mother. The original first lyric of the song was “You taught me how to be a mother”. Later, when Producer Henry Thomas chose it for inclusion on the album, we agreed to change the lyric in order to broaden its relevance to “you taught me how to love another”. Whilst all love, including romantic love can equip us with the deepest fundamentals needed for approaching life and all its hardships, there is something unique about a mothers love in terms of its unilateral beginnings. It is how we first learn to love when we are dependent and do not know how. This has an extra societal relevance because if we have learned it from our earliest beginnings we have a ready-made blueprint for easier repetition later in life. It’s never too late to learn later of course, it’s just harder than for those lucky enough to have been born into it.

Critics have praised your ability to convey deep emotional themes through your music, particularly in ‘Love’s Not Late.’ Can you walk us through your creative process when tackling such profound subjects?

My process for this song was slightly atypical in that I knew the theme I wanted to write about before sitting at the piano. This is opposed to the majority of songs which start with me discovering the theme via finding the chords that feel emotionally in synch or a good match with how I’m feeling. The process of writing the lyrics is the same for me the majority of the time.  I sing whatever sounds come into my head whilst forming the melody and then I pay close attention to the first words that emerge from free association. I suppose it is the singing equivalent of the psychological mental process that occurs in therapy. The rest of the song normally flows after those first lyrics have crystalized and then I can start to shape it from there.

In ‘Love’s Not Late,’ you explore the theme of love as a healing force in the face of life’s uncertainties. How do you envision your music impacting listeners on a personal level?

I can only extrapolate from the purpose that it served me when writing it. If it helped me to get something universal but complex clearer in my mind, I can hold the possibility that it might do that for someone else. I am always interested to know whether others connected to any aspects of it whether lyrically or musically and I would anticipate that it would be interpreted in a variety of different ways. 

The instrumentation in ‘Love’s Not Late’ is rich and dynamic, with layers of piano, strings, and a spirited guitar solo. Could you elaborate on how you collaborate with your musicians to achieve such a vibrant and cohesive sound?

On a practical level, a lot of this is down to what happens in the pre-production stages. There is a long process of song shaping, honing and structure before introducing other instruments.  The first band rehearsals are primarily dedicated to the rhythm section. The recording stage which follows is where other instruments are introduced into the arrangements such as the guitar and strings. A vocal guide is laid down for the band to mirror the emotional map of intensity and then choices are made over where to bring the instruments in and out. We will be looking at where to build the track and where to create more space according to the narrative. Vocal harmonies are added to enhance particular lyrics and everything is refined further once again at the mixing stage. On top of this process, the performance of the musicians is very much down to their emotional sensibilities as well as the relationships between band members which all goes into the final mix! This particular group of musicians were chosen for their capacity to lend themselves to the key communication and message of the song as much as for their technical abilities.

Photo Credit: Marsha Swanson.

Julia Thomsen, ‘Eternal Love Acoustic Guitar’

Words By Emily Kowalczyk.

Julia Thomsen’s ‘Eternal Love Acoustic Guitar’ performed by the Strings of Light is like entering a spiritual haven. Listening to the opener takes me away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and into a serene and peaceful realm.

The gentle tunes soothe my soul, luring me to take a deep breath and revel in the splendour of the here and now. A picture of limitless love and everlasting grace is painted with every string sweep and pluck of the guitar, adding to the emotional canvas.

I feel enveloped in a tranquil embrace, where worries melt away and contentment fills my being. Because of its profound simplicity and exquisite beauty, the song touches me on a profound level.

You can take a listen below. Hopefully, you get the same feeling as I did!

Photo Credit: Julia Thomsen.

Ervin Munir, ‘Chase The Moon’

Words By Emily Kowalczyk.

I recently got sent Ervin Munir’s latest track, “Chase The Moon,” and it’s left a strong mark on me. With each strum of Ervin’s acoustic guitar, I felt myself drawn deeper into the wall of sound he delivers. Also, what sets this track apart is the accompaniment of Aeron Z Jones’ lap steel and mandolin.

Their collaboration is one to rave about! it breaths new life into Ervin’s already distinctive playing style. Moreover, the interplay between the instruments adds layers of depth and texture, elevating each track to new heights.

As someone who’s been a fan since Ervin’s “She Never Made Old Bones” days, I can confidently say that “Chase The Moon” is a bold step forward in his musical journey. It’s a track that demands to be listened to, not just heard, and one that will linger in your mind long after the final chord fades away.

You can stream below.

Photo Credit: Ervin Munir

Quique Gomez and Little Charlie Baty, ‘Cookin’ At Greaseland’

Words By Emily Kowalczyk.

As “Cookin’ At Greaseland” roars onto the scene, brace yourself for a cacophony of auditory pleasures! Thanks to Gulf Coast Records, this newest masterpiece by the dynamic duo of Quique Gomez and Little Charlie Baty—along with the musical talents of Kid Andersen and Alexander Pettersen—is set to be released on April 26th, 2024.

“Cookin’ At Greaseland” is a passionate and heartfelt tribute to the great Little Charlie Baty, who passed away too soon. This album, compiled and produced by Kid Andersen, takes listeners on a whirlwind tour through a wide range of musical styles, from infectious jump tracks to heartfelt blues ballads. The magic that happens when talent, passion, and new ideas meet is captured on every note.

The lead track, “Thirstiest Man In Town,” which is currently available, instantly grabs your attention! In this track, you can feel the soul-wrenching agony expressed through the haunting harmonica, while Gomez’s vocals, laden with pain, unveil the essence of human existence. Baty’s guitar work adds a compelling mix of raw emotion and polished technique, intensifying the themes of hopelessness and redemption. And let’s not forget about Andersen’s performance—it’s simply mesmerizing, capturing every subtle nuance and whisper of despair with crystalline clarity and depth. It’s truly remarkable.

You can stream “Thirstiest Man In Town” below.

Photo Credit: Gulf Coast Records.

Cloud, ‘Room’

Words By Emily Kowalczyk.

‘Room’ by Cloud beckons us into a transcendental voyage where the boundaries between reality and imagination blur into a kaleidoscope of sound. The opening guitar lures us in like a siren’s call, setting the stage for an adventure into the depths of musical enchantment.

But ‘Room’ is not content to merely captivate; it evolves, it transforms. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Cloud’s vitality infuses every note, guiding the track through a metamorphosis that leaves you spellbound. Each layer of sound is crafted with precision, building upon the last to create a symphony of color and texture that dances in your mind’s eye.

And just when you think you’ve reached the pinnacle, ‘Room’ ascends even higher, reaching a radiant crescendo that defies description.

You can stream below.

Photo Credit: Cloud

Julia Thomsen, ‘Beauty’

Words By Joey Rochert.

In the ethereal expanse of classical composition, where each note is a brushstroke upon the canvas of the soul, Julia Thomsen’s ‘Beauty’ emerges as a serene gem, resonating with the tender essence of spring.

With delicate keystrokes, Thomsen paints a landscape of tranquility, inviting us to wander through the verdant pastures of our imagination. The piano becomes her vessel, carrying emotions as fragile as blossoms in the breeze, each melody a whispered secret shared with the heart.

As the first strains of “Beauty” unfurl, one cannot help but be enveloped by a sense of serenity, as if the very essence of spring has been captured within its melodic embrace. “Beauty” also finds its home amidst the celestial gathering of talents in “Harmonies of WoMen,” a compilation album celebrating the prowess of female pianists from across the globe.

You can take a listen below.

Photo Credit: Julia Thomsen.

Marsha Swanson, ‘Gustav Mahler’s Letter of Intent & Alma Mahler’s Lament’

Words By Joey Rochert

Marsha Swanson’s “Gustav Mahler’s Letter of Intent & Alma Mahler’s Lament” stands out with its timeless tale of love, longing, and the complexities that bind two souls together. Spanning generations and emotions, this track duo delves deep into the tumultuous relationship between Gustav Mahler and Alma Mahler.

With an intimate connection to the Mahler legacy as a distant descendant, Swanson brings a unique perspective to her interpretation of their story. Through a careful blend of Gustav’s impassioned letters and Alma’s heartfelt lamentations from her diary entries, Swanson weaves a narrative that is as haunting as it is captivating.

The first track, “Gustav Mahler’s Letter of Intent,” serves as a poignant portrayal of Gustav’s fervent devotion to Alma. In stark contrast, “Alma Mahler’s Lament” presents Alma’s side of the story—a lamentation of love lost and dreams shattered. Swanson’s emotive delivery imbues Alma’s words with a sense of sorrow and resignation. Also, the melancholic melodies blend seamlessly with Alma’s poignant reflections, creating a hauntingly beautiful ode to a love that was destined for tragedy.

You can take a listen below.

Photo Credit: Marsha Swanson.

Mike Zito, ‘Life Is Hard’

Words By Emily Kowalczyk.

Mike Zito’s “Life Is Hard” is a mirror of his enduring power in the blues scene, and it is presented with raw emotion and musical finesse. Released under Gulf Coast Records, this album is a poignant journey through life’s struggles and triumphs, masterfully crafted by a team of seasoned professionals.

A product of Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood and produced by blues virtuosos Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, “Life Is Hard” benefits from top-notch production and a stellar lineup of musicians. Zito’s vocals and guitar work are complemented by the soulful contributions of additional guitarist Joe Bonamassa and keyboardist Reese Wynans, among others.

The album’s twelve tracks showcase Zito’s versatility as a songwriter and interpreter of the blues. From the haunting “Lonely Man” to the soul-stirring “Forever My Love,” each song resonates with authenticity and depth. Zito’s heartfelt lyrics and soulful delivery invite listeners to reflect on love, loss, and the human experience.

You can stream it below.

Photo Credit: Mike Zito | Gulf Coast Records.

Cloud, The Interview Series.

Hello, Cloud, Let’s talk about your new single, ‘Runaway Train’, what is the meaning? 

I chose this title because the powerful guitar sounds and drum beats dive into the dark side of humanity.

Which artists in the current industry inspire you the most?

Dave Grohl. He has had success with two legendary bands: Nirvana and Foo Fighters.

What is the best thing about being a musician in 2024?

My song ‘Runaway Train’ is featured in various outlets.

Is there a certain place you often go to write? E.g a certain room, or environment?

Anywhere. ‘My room’, ‘on the way home from work’ and ‘in my dreams’.

What is your first memory of music? 

Ozzy Osbourne, who I saw on MTV when I was about 10 years old.

Photo Credit: Cloud.