Friday, January 17, 2014

Silver Trees Interview with Paul Johnson

I had the great privilege of speaking with one of my favorite bands right now, Silver Trees. I found Silver Trees on Noisetrade while surfing their website as I normally do. Silver Trees is a breath of fresh air, providing listeners with a collection of beautiful, melodious songs, that urge listeners to sing-along.
Please check out for the latest info in them.
First off, how did this project originally come together? How did you and Chase meet?

Chase and I had initially met for a co-writing session a few years ago, and then reconnected when I wanted him to produce a demo for a pop song I had. Not long after that, Chase was working on a side project of his called “Speakeasier”, and invited me to help write & sing on one of the songs.  By then we had a positive working relationship and Chase reached out to see if I’d be interested in doing an EP with my songs and his production.  I didn’t want it to be a Singer/Songwriter record, and so we took the approach of developing the project as a band, inviting in great friends and musicians with the recording process.

Did you guys have a direction for the project, before you approached the recording process?

I had a handful of mellower “indie” songs that I really liked but had no real previous outlet for, so when we met up to start thinking about the track list we already had the skeletal versions of the songs.  However, early on in recording ‘Paper Hearts’ we decided we wanted to be experimental with the production and stretch our usual assumptions of what the standard instrumentation and performances should sound like.  With that in the back of our minds we just dove into recording  “One Less Bird”, then used that as sort of a sign post to how we would proceed with the rest of the record.

How did the writing pan out for the 'Paper Hearts EP?'

Most of the writing on that EP happened in early 2013 and late 2012, before I knew there would be an opportunity to record those songs.  It was pretty much a collection of songs I had wrote in my living room in between “record songs” as sort of a self-therapy, giving myself a free pass to write music that might be too quiet or personal to end up sharing outside of the room.  However, I think the “nobody to impress” approach of those tunes is part of what made them more meaningful and appropriate to produce & share.

I would love to hear the stories behind "She" and "Paper Hearts." How did they come together?

People ask me a lot who “She” is, and for me it was a metaphor for grace from the beginning of the writing process.  We thought it was just going to be a really quiet tune with just guitar, voice and maybe some strings.  But Chase had the idea of the massive vocal layers on the chorus, and then we had a drummer who transformed it again when he made the building drum part in the bridge after we told him to just try anything, thinking that it would be without drums until then. From there we got a lot clearer feel for the song and ran with it.

“Paper Hearts” was the last song wrote for the record, and the only one I wrote while we were already in the process of making the EP.  Chase works with a fantastic singer/artist, Bailey Jehl, who was a clear choice for the female vocal part.  I think that song was one of our quick favorites, but was also one of the easiest and quickest to put together.  My favorite songs to write and record always seem to be the ones that just clearly tell you where to go.  I like when we can just get out of the way and let the music do all the work. 

What would you like for people to take away from the 'Paper Hearts EP?'

Living in Nashville I realize that I’m not the best musician, writer, singer, etc., and so whenever I make music I pretty much have one measure of a successful song: “Does it make you feel something?”.  I would like ‘Paper Hearts’ to be one more thing in people’s lives that shortens the distance between the head and the heart, adds a little color to their day and maybe just keep them company in certain emotions and moments.  I think the real power any music can have is already in the people reacting to it. The songs will hopefully just help highlight the beauty in our day-to-day operation as growing people.

How did you get hooked up with Noisetrade? Why give the EP away, even for a brief period?

NoiseTrade was founded by some guys here in Nashville, and so we’ve been using the platform for a while to find great new music as fans.  Since Silver Trees is a pretty new entity, we wanted to use NoiseTrade as one of the outlets for the EP, the idea being the opportunity to form a long-term relationship with our early fans (via the email they give us to download the EP) is far more valuable to us right now than a one-time $ transaction.  The fact that it was the main way most people have downloaded our EP so far was actually a really lucky fluke.  iTunes had a technical difficulty that delayed the release a day and a half, which channeled most of our family & friends to get the EP on NoiseTrade.  That got the album to the #4 most-downloaded spot, which caused NoiseTrade to offer us the opportunity to be featured the next week as a “New & Notable” artist.  That feature caused our downloads to explode way beyond our own expectations and set us up with a really great early fan base, along with the ability to build a lasting relationship with most of our fans.  The support of these early listeners has set us up for some great opportunities moving forward, and we’re SUPER grateful for these awesome people that are willing to give a new band like us a listen.  A free EP is the least we could do to say thanks (:

Do you plan on touring with this EP? Will it remain a studio project?

A huge yes to touring.  The band is still growing in members, and ideally we’ll be able to take the music on the road in early 2014.  Right now that’s one of our biggest and most exciting priorities.  There are few things we love more than to have those real-time interactions enjoying the music with our fans. 

Any plans for a full length album?

There’s definitely the intention, but not yet a clear timeline.  There is, however, a definite plan for a single that’ll hopefully be coming out this February along with another video.  We’re excited keep sharing music with our fans and hopefully keep growing the Silver Trees community in the process.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dean Fields - "Any Minute Now" *Mousertime Exclusive Acoustic Performance*

Shortly after a show at Eddie's attic in Atlanta, Dean Fields joins us outside the venue to perform the title track off of his brand new album, "Any Minute Now."

You can download his performance from Eddie's here:

For the latest on Dean including tour dates and music, please visit

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cloud Control Interview

A short interview I did with one of my favorites right now....

For more information regarding Cloud Control check out

Did you guys have a vision for the record, before you began recording?

We didn't have a vision, it came about more as we were going along. This is the opposite of how we did our last album, where we were really careful to make a tapey organic album. 

With this record, you seem to blend the organic sound of classic Cloud Control with more synthetic sounds. What motivated that decision? (absolutely love it, by the way...)

Thank you! I think this time we were more relaxed. I've always been interested in electronica and programming, always written demos in that way. This time more of that found its way onto the album. 

How did the writing process pan out for "Dream Cave"?

It was written all over the place, mainly France, London and back where we used o live in Sydney. I would team up with Jeremy a lot, and Heidi and Ulrich are the other main team. But it worked other ways too, there aren't any rules. 

 How did you guys  end up working with Barny Barnicott?

He was recommended through a friend. When we had some test recordings with him they came out really well.

Listening back to the record, can you hear any specific influences?

Hmmm yeah, I don't know. I don't think it really sounds like what I was influenced by when we were writing. Just to name drop some bands - rancid, pure x, beastie boys, Orbison. But yeah I'm just one guy in the band.

What song were you most surprised by its outcome, the finished product?

I guess promises didn't turn out how I imagined.  It's real different. 

 I would love to hear the stories behind "Scar" and "Dojo Rising," and how they came together...

On dojo, I wrote a beat. I asked  Jez to bring some words for it cause I was struggling. He came up with that first verse, which really seemed to relate to me. Then I got in there and sang the chorus freestyle. That's pretty much how the core of the song arrived. That all happened in the blue mountains.

Scar was similar, but we were in France. I think Heidi or Jez made up some chords, Jeremy wrote that first verse and then I brought the chorus.

What would you like for people to take away from this record, after listening?

I want people to feel pumped. I would love people to skate or go snowboarding or listen to it in the car really loud. 

You guys(and gal) have had the opportunity to travel across the world, touring. Are there any places that you would love to play, that you haven't visited yet?

Yeah, Japan! Really want to go there. 

Perfect day, driving in your car with the windows down, what are you listening to? 

Best car album for me is Cosmo's Factory by Creedence Clearwater revival. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Royal Forest Interview with Cody Ground

   When I experience a particularly stressful day, one of my favorite things to do is throw myself into an online music wormhole. Clicking from band to band, jumping from genre to genre until a new sound catches my attention. When a productive wormhole experience occurs, not only do I feel less stressed, I look forward to the upcoming days and weeks as I champion around my latest mix tape hero.     
   The guys in Royal Forest have become favorites of mine, with their oddly beautiful soundscapes. The first song I heard of theirs, was "John Denver," a song that I found to be very catchy in a unique way. Mainly because when i was listening to the song, I felt as if I was in a plane that was quickly ascending and my ears were on the verge of popping. To my surprise, I looked up a description of the song and found out that the version I was listening to was recorded in a prop plane. Amazing. These guys not only write beautiful songs, but try to present them in original ways by capturing specific soundscapes.   
   For the latest info on Royal Forest, and to purchase their latest album Spillway,please check out
  Hope you enjoy my short interview with front man, Cody Ground.

Cliche one, could you briefly explain what brought you guys together?

Ground: Erik and I met in Waco and played in some bands together. Then, we met Justin through a "drummer wanted" ad (he showed up with a pedal steel). Justin was recording one of our friend's projects at his studio when we met Blake. 
From talking with other Austin-based bands, I've gathered that it is a fantastic place to develop music. What has your experience been?

G: Austin is a great cityThere are a lot of good bands and venues and a real camaraderie in the music world.  It's also pretty isolated, tour wise, which makes it a challenge to try and get the word out about your music.

How long had you guys been working on "Spillway?" How far do some of the songs date back to?

G: We worked on Spillway off and on for around 2 years. The oldest song on the record is "On the Sun" and the newest song is "Everyone Who Knows You."
How does the writing process normally pan out for your guys?

G: We write songs as a band. It changes depending on the song. Sometimes it starts as a beat, riff, or sound and we build it from there. Then later, we'll deconstruct that piece and try to leave only the essential elements.

Who did you work with, when recording this record? What did they bring to the table?

G: Justin (our guitar player) recorded and engineered everything on the record. Justin is really good at getting the best performances out of the band. He's also able to create unique soundscapes and figure out how everything fits together by stripping deconstructing layers of sound we record.
I would love to hear the stories behind "John Denver" and "Black Hills," if you don't mind.

G: John Denver is written about a guy I grew up with.

Black Hills was inspired by a scene I saw out of my dad's truck window while we were driving on some backwoods roads on a family vacation. 
Who are some guys you have looked up to in terms of live performance?

G: A lot bands put on a great live show - I just saw Yo La Tengo recently and they performed two completely different sets that were great. The Flaming Lips are the best at putting on an unforgettable live show that really engages the crowd. I think we're also inspired by art and trying to figure out a way to make our live shows interesting and original. Recently, we've been doing some live tape looping that involves the audience. 

Perfect day, driving in your car with the windows down, what are you listening to?

G: Lately, I've been listening a lot to "Tragic Songs of Life" by The Louvin Brothers. We also have sort of a pre show tour tradition of listening to Jaco Pastorius "Come on, Come Over" ( when we're driving up to the venue.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

SISU Interview with Sandy Vu

Today marks the release of "Blood Tears," the debut full-length release from SISU, the brainchild of Sandra Vu(Dum Dum Girls Drummer).
Vu wrote, played, and produced "Blood Tears" with bandmates Ryan Wood (co-producer), Nathanael Keefer (drums), and Lars Stalfors (Chelsea Wolfe, The Soft Pack, The Mars Volta) mixed the album. Julianna Medeiros (Dum Dum Girls) joins SISU live on synth and backup vocals.

For the latest info on SISU, check out their official website :

How long do some of the SISU song's date back?
Vu: I believe the earliest songs date back to a few years, some having been re-worked or remixed from demos from any time in that period. 

How  does the writing process for this project differ from other projects that you have been involved in?

This is pretty much my solo project, but I collaborate with my band mate Ryan Wood on the technical side of things. I call him the band "engineer". We would evolve the songs by passing mixes back and forth, which is different from any other band I've been in, where we would sit in a rehearsal space with seeds of songs that we would then develop together. After having written both ways, I would say I prefer to work on my own, or with one other writing partner. Your ideas don't get compromised by band mates who are maybe not on the same page. Some great collaborations happen that way, but overall it's just very inefficient for me and I don't enjoy it as much. I play a lot of instruments, so it's more effective for me to speak to others about ideas, instead of getting really particular about the parts or instrumentation of a song.

How would you say your new full length, "Blood Tears," builds on you April release "Light Eyes" EP?

On the whole, there is much less reverb, and things are more clear. It's more immediate and direct. It's technically recorded better, with better gear, and mixed by long-time SISU supporter, Lars Stalfors, whose recently worked with Chelsea Wolfe and Matt & Kim. Thematically they are related, but the LP is just harder hitting in my opinion. There is a bit more leaning on minimalism on the LP, and direct song structure.

Is there a song that you are most proud of on "Blood Tears," with how it came together from start to finish?

Blood Tears, the title track was the last song that came together for the record. It's quite basic in format, but it's definitely the most dramatic piece on the record. A lot of the songs came about with not much force or struggle. This song in particular started with the synth sounds. They instantly had a mood and feeling and I built it up from there. 

While listening to the album, I noticed that you seamlessly seem to blend the soft with the loud, creating such an original sound. How do you think you arrived on that type of sound?

I love drama and dynamics. With SISU, I just want people to feel something. To achieve the highs and lows, you have to have extreme contrasts. Since I have this sort of voice, I want to create grandness around it. I've just always been attracted to this dramatic quality, shock, and surprise. I'm just sick of irony and indifference. I'm a quiet person by nature, but when I perform I want to be loud. Maybe SISU is the manifestation of that--the pull between quiet and loud.

What would you like listeners to take away from this  album, after first listen?
Hopefully it leaves you feeling inspired in some way--to move on, to create, to break free. But maybe after first listen, they will just be stuck in your head. 

You have a number of shows coming up, what can people expect when they come to see you live?

We sound quite different live, I think harder. The band on tour right now consists of old friends. I grew up with bassist Dave South and guitarist Tito Echevarria, with whom I played in my first band together. We were 14-16 years old and we played growly, grind core punk. So fast forward to now, we've mellowed out a bit. Drummer Nat Keefer also has a background in hardcore, but we are rounded out by Julianna Medeiros who plays synth and sings lovely backups (also of Dum Dum Girls). 

Normally, you are sitting behind a drum kit when you perform(Dum Dum Girls, The Ravonettes, Boredoms and Dirty Beaches), with this project you are front and center. Has it taken some time to adjust? Do you enjoy it more?

Yes, it's taken some time to adjust. The audience looks very different from the two positions. In SISU I'm thrust forward and forced to look square into the audience. It can be intimidating but it's one of those things that's all purely in your head. Playing a lot I've learned how to deal with it. There are some things you can never control though, which can put you back to square one. They're both enjoyable in different ways, but I've got more at stake in SISU.

Are you currently working on any other projects?

I'm writing more for my next record right now, but I'm always interested in other types of projects, if only I have the time!

Perfect day, driving in your car with the windows down, what are you listening to?
For today, let's go with Original Colors by High Places. It really depends on the day though, doesn't it?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Matt Pond - "Love To Get Used" *Mousertime Exclusive Acoustic Performance*

Shortly before a show at The Masquerade in Atlanta, Matt Pond invites us backstage to perform "Love To Get Used," off of his record The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand .

For the latest on Matt Pond, including tour dates and music, please visit

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Good Old War - "Amazing Eyes" *Mousertime Exclusive Acoustic Performance*

These guys have quickly become one of my favorite bands, with their latest release. Enjoy this acoustic rendition of a fan favorite, and let us know what you think!

Shortly before a show at The Vinyl in Atlanta, Good Old War invites us backstage to perform "Amazing Eyes," off of their record Sargent House release Come Back as Rain.

For the latest on Good Old War, including tour dates and music, please visit