“I feel in general my solo work feels more true to who I am as an individual.” 7 Questions with Claire George

When I go to a music festival I always do my best to discover new music.  It’s one thing to go and hear your favorite bands but, unless you knew every act on a lineup, more than likely you’ll have gaps in your schedule.  What I’ll do is chat up some of the crowd or some of the local photographers and ask who’s a performer I should check out today?  It was Capitol Hill Block Party (CHBP) 2018.  Of the people I spoke to, many suggested I check out Claire George.  Prior to that CHBP performance, I had not heard of Claire, but after seeing her set I was mesmerized.  Her set was a mixture of great vocals interplayed with synths, fascinating lyrics, and danceable beats.  I was instantly a fan.  Recently, I reached out to Claire and had an opportunity to do a short interview.  Here’s my short interview with Claire George:

1.) The first time I saw you perform was at Capitol Hill Block Party 2018 as a solo artist, but through research it looks like you were the lead singer of an indie rock band called HEARTWATCH. Hearing your work as a solo artist and the music presented by HEARTWATCH, I’d say the two present very different music styles. Was it a challenge to transition to a solo artist, or was your solo work always something you had in mind and were hoping to get out?

It was definitely a challenge to create my solo work as I had never made music on my own, but I definitely feel it better represents my musical tastes and my life more. Learning how to produce electronic music on my own presented a lot of challenges for me but also felt the most rewarding because I put so much more of myself into making it. I felt pretty worried about the reception of the solo work after the band’s material, and there were definitely some fans who want me to make something less dark, but I feel in general my solo work feels more true to who I am as an individual.

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Capitol Hill Block Party 2018

2.) Your latest release, “Alone, Together” and it’s quasi remix “Alone, Together (Forever)” are fabulous both in composition and message. “Alone, Together” was described on your site as the different seasons in the lifecycle of a failed relationship. I personally love how the song ends with a sense of hopefulness. On the flipside, “Alone, Together (Forever)” carries some of those same feelings, but is more reminiscent of Robyn’s “Dancing on my Own” in that it’s very danceable but with a very relatable message. Would you mind speaking to the creation of both songs?

I wrote the first version as a piano ballad by myself, but when my friend Josh from Yumi Zouma saw me perform it live he asked if he could help me produce it out. When we got into the session the song took on a whole new light and I loved it so much that I wanted to share both versions with the world. I like that the version that I wrote solo feels pretty isolated and intimate and the version with Josh feels much more collaborative and dancey, something you want to listen to with another person.

3.) Regarding your 2018 EP, Bodies of Water, one song in particular that pulled my attention was Orbits where you have these poetic lyrics of what sounds like recognizing potential but you also mixed in references to the Voyager space program (which launched a literal Gold Record into space). When it comes to song writing do you approach each song with intention in that “with this song I hope to convey (blank)” or do you let each song flow into what they eventually become in that there’s no real plan, it comes together on the page? How would you describe your approach?

I create both ways, sometimes with a general intention, sometimes with a phrase or idea in mind, and sometimes with a whole concept in place. Orbits came out with an intention for sure, and I knew I wanted to connect the romantic idea of the Golden Record into the song. A lot of my music comes from just sitting down and letting things spill out of me though. Sometimes when I try too hard to have a plan or intention behind it, it can feel forced, so I try to let things flow however they want once I sit down to write.

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Barboza, October 2019

Something I like to do to create a through-line for all the folks I interview is I ask the prior interview subject to provide 3 blind questions for the next interviewee with no knowledge as to who I would interview next. These next 3 questions were provided by my last interview subject Icelandic Singer Songwriter Asgeir. Asgeir asks: (Claire: Love this!)
4.) When you were young – What did you want to become when you grew up?
Mariah Carey, but my own version haha! I was obsessed with her. I wanted to be a pop star when I was little, but that got buried for a long time and the desire to be an artist only came bubbling back up for me after college.

5.) What was the best advice someone gave you?
Start now, you will never again be younger than you are today.

6.) How do you think popular music will sound in 50 years?
I think we will be even more integrated with technology and perhaps there will be machines assisting in creation of music but I don’t like to think that they will take over the process completely. Perhaps we will have machines that can tune into our emotions and feelings and adjust/create music that suits us. I think there will be even further development in electronic music but will get the hang of making things sound more natural. We will probably have even busier more distracting lives so the songs may be even shorter and to the point than they are today!

7.) As my final question, I follow you on Instagram, and earlier this year you shared your first “Clairetoon”. Were these “Clairetoons” something you’ve always done, or something new you wanted try and share? Can we expect more “Clairetoons” throughout the year?

This is something new I’ve wanted to try out and share, and yes! I will definitely be sharing more throughout the year 🙂

(I want to thank Claire George for taking the time to answer my questions.  Check out Claire’s latest single, Alone Together, and the song’s remix, Alone Together (Forever), on all streaming platforms.  Also check out Claire’s debut EP, Bodies of Water, also on all streaming platforms.)

Do Anything Cool Lately #2

Escape Pod Log 13.

It’s been 13 days since catastrophe hit the space metropolis, Seattle.

It’s hard to believe that what started as a minor leak in the giant protective glass dome escalated to a full evacuation of the massive interstellar city.  After 13 days of floating in open space, I’ve slowly become accustomed to this new lifestyle.  It’s isolated, but not alone.  It feels overwhelming and sudden, but as long as the power continues to remain active within the pod, it’s easy to remain hopeful that we can return to the city and continue life where we left off.  Lines of communication have remained unfettered by the disaster.  The abundance of water and rations in the pod were never an issue.  Corporate run supply lines have been developed, creating an active delivery network to individual pods no matter how far they drift from the prime disaster site, and if supplies were needed immediately, each pod is equipped with an “exploration suit”.  The suits allow for evacuees to leave their pod and explore for a little over an hour.  

While we float in space it’s hard not to turn to the arts as a way to cope.  Cope with the hours spent floating.  Digital interaction can keep us connected, but I find myself listening to music files I haven’t heard in years.  Five “albums” I’ve felt drawn to in this time of contemplation are:

1.) Father John Misty – Off-Key in Hamburg – 2020
The only officially released live album of Father John Misty released as a charity album on Bandcamp to help artists in need in this hectic time.  
Check this out: I Went to the Store One Day

2.) Grandaddy – Sumday – 2003
I first heard this album while walking around Everyday Music.  It’s a great indie album that probably flew under a lot of radars. 
Check this out: Now It’s On

3.) David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars – 1972
Lyrically this whole album is fascinating.  The opening track, “Five Years” should be more than enough to hook you into hearing this whole album all the way through.
Check this out: Suffragette City

4.) The Ataris – Hang Your Head in Hope – 2011
If I had a pop punk band guilty pleasure, that I would go to a concert and scream sing all their songs, it would be The Ataris.  This album is unique in that, it’s just the lead singer, an acoustic guitar, and each song was recorded in a single take.
Check this out: All Souls’ Day

5.) Jakob Dylan and friends – Echo in the Canyon soundtrack – 2019
A collection of covers that will make you remember (if you had forgotten), how great the creative spirit was in Echo Canyon in the 60’s.
Check this out: Never My Love

I hope anyone who reads this log entry stays safe and takes time to rediscover music.

(To anyone who doesn’t get it, we’ve been in self quarantine due to Coronavirus for 13 days.  Here are 5 albums I’ve been falling in love with while we’ve had time to step away from society for a little bit.  I always liked old Sci-Fi stories so I pictured a great space city just getting blind sided by a major catastrophe, and everyone being forced to change their plans in order to cope, which is essentially what happened here. Stay safe everyone!)

 

Do Anything Cool Lately? #1

(In between show reviews and interviews, every two weeks “Do Anything Cool Lately?” will be a compilation of short thoughts and musings I’ve had while attending a number of shows in the Seattle area.)

On DEFY Kings of Crash…
(Above Image) Don’t get me wrong, I love that Randy Myers is the new DEFY Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Champion, but I feel like we missed out on a real “Hero’s Journey” style storyline for Randy.  My only knock against DEFY since I’ve been a fan of the company has been how erratic some of the company’s main storylines can be. Randy made a passionate speech where he pledged to get the title and within a month and a half he got the title. To really build his story, I would have thought he would have lost this first attempt, Schaff go on an epic title run, with Randy coming back more focused and dedicated at getting another shot, and then at a big summer show Randy try again and gain the title after re climbing that mountain. Randy winning the title clean was probably one of DEFY’s biggest title picture twists since the company’s inception.

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(clockwise from above left) Entendres, Early Warnings, The Bitter, Corbin Louis

On how expensive it is to go to concerts regularly…
In February, I went to 4 concerts between the 13th and the 27th:
– Seattle University’s Battle of the Bands
– Marshall Law Band at Chop Suey
– The Early Warnings Album Release Show at Barboza
– Atomic Rust at Cha Cha Lounge
The combined ticket price for all four shows was $21.

On Early Warnings’ and The Bitter’s debut EPs…
I recommend checking out the debut EPs from local Seattle bands, The Early Warnings, and The Bitter. I would describe The Early Warnings as a mix of classic rock, country rock, and a little bit of dream pop. Their debut EP “Breakfast Club”, exemplifies the qualities that made me a fan of their live show, well balanced musicianship that support the very strong vocal style of lead singer, Danica Winkley.  On the flipside, The Bitter is Seattle’s next big afro punk band.  Folks who’ve seen their live show, would compare their music style to Rage Against the Machine. Their debut EP “Venom and Rage” feels like a frank and angry post punk critique of government and society at large mixed with stories of growing up in pre gentrified Seattle.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more of these two bands in the years to come.

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(Clockwise from top) Divine Comedy Club, Grace Stuewe, Goodwill Gold

On Seattle University’s Battle of the Bands 2020…
Of the bands that performed at Seattle University’s Battle of the Bands 2020, I believe Goodwill Gold, Grace Stuewe, and Divine Comedy Club are ready to make a play at the Seattle music scene. Obviously, stay in school and get your degrees, but I wouldn’t mind seeing these bands perform more around the Seattle music community. Divine Comedy Club felt like psychedelic rock from the 60’s and 70’s mixed with modern dream pop (the drummer really stood out to me). Grace Stuewe played a lyric driven style of indie pop mixing guitars and synths. She was the only one with physical CDs on sale at merch (I bought one).  Goodwill Gold ultimately won the competition with a rock style that bordered on punk, in line with a number of bands currently playing around the current Seattle music scene.

“We are still considering L******** C*** if we are denied our trademark again.” 7 Questions with Whitney Petty and Molly Sides of Thunderpussy.

When I started going to live concerts frequently in the area, the first non festival show I went to headlined by local performers was Night 1 of Thunderpussy’s 2016 New Year’s Eve Party at Neumos. I had heard part of their set at that year’s Capitol Hill Block Party and was very eager to see a full performance. That New Year’s Eve show not only kicked off my fandom of Thunderpussy, but also kicked off my fandom for local music. Since then I’ve attended 20 plus Thunderpussy shows, have attended their New Year’s Eve show each year for the past 4 years, and have become a proud member of their local fan group. I was very happy to get the chance to interview lead vocalist Molly Sides, and lead guitarist Whitney Petty. Here’s my short interview with members of the band Thunderpussy:

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1.) Let’s start with the name. I’ve been a fan of the band since Capitol Hill Block Party 2016. I heard you folks killing it at the main stage and once I heard the band name I was hooked. Where did the name Thunderpussy come from? Were there any failed or “possible” band names you guys had thought of before deciding on Thunderpussy?

Whitney: Well, we are still considering Lightning Cock if we are denied our trademark again. Also thinking of starting a side band called, “Feelie Dan,” for weddings and bar mitzvahs, that type of thing. I think the only one that ever came close to competing with Thunderpussy was, “Hottie Couteratti,” but Thunderpussy is just too good. It really stuck hard and fast when I first threw it out to Molly as a joke for the first time.

2.) Regarding the outfits, where does the band’s fashion sense come from? The outfits have always been fantastic. Is there a theme for each show or does one band member find an awesome outfit and the bandmates (kind of) coordinate accordingly?

Molly: That’s something I really enjoy doing. I come up with a theme, color scheme and draw up sketches to send to our costume designer, Pakio Galore. We meet often and talk fabrics, designs, alterations and then he goes wild. We spend a lot of time at JoAnn’s! On tour, I bring a bedazzling kit, because I love to source fabrics and outfits and then alter them on the road. Or I’ll being those treasures home and take them to Pakio where he can reuse the fabrics for something more elaborate. Tour is basically an excuse to go vintage shopping 😉

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3.) Having been a fan for a few years, I feel like every time I hear some Thunderpussy News, it’s always something impressive, be it the first time KEXP played your songs on air, Mike McCready mentioning the band during Pearl Jam’s Hall of Fame induction, the “Danger Diva” film, SXSW, etc. What do you feel has been the most “Oh my Gosh!” moment of this journey?

Whitney: Jeez there are so many. Most recently, I would say getting to meet Tanya Tucker at an event in Seattle. Holy shit. I have been a big fan since I was a little girl and she is a fucking legend. Before that it was going in the studio with Chad Smith. What an incredible person and one of the greatest drummers ever.

Something I like to do to create a through-line for all the folks I interview that I ask the prior interview subject to provide 3 blind questions for the next interviewee with no knowledge as to who I would interview next. These next 3 questions were provided by my last interview subject local drummer, Andy King. Andy asks:

4.) What’s your favorite tour food?
Whitney: Popcorn

5.) What seat do you like in the tour van the best?
Whitney: The way back

6.) Do you listen to music or do you like quiet on the drives?
Whitney: Music!!

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7.) For my final question, I’ve attended the Thunderpussy New Year’s Eve show for the past 4 years. The line up this year looks insane and I know it’s going to be another great time. If you were going to pitch the show to someone who had no idea who you or anyone on the line up were, what would you say, what should they expect, and what set this year’s show apart from other years?

Whitney: Well, speaking of costumes, I am especially excited for mine this year 😉

We are experimenting with color, lights, and fog a bit more. I’m very excited for what our lighting designer is working on!! Also, musically, we are playing a LOT of new stuff which is always very exciting for us. We consider these New Years shows to be the one time each year that we can really put together the stage show the way that we want it, all the elements that we can’t afford to take on the road (yet!), so it’s like an incubator for future ideas. We always try to push ourselves on NYE.

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I have to thank Whitney and Molly for taking the time to answer my questions. Check out Thunderpussy’s debut album Thunderpussy and their latest EP Milk It. For more Thunderpussy news follow them on social media and keep an eye out for future Thunderpussy events near you

Ten Things to look forward to from DEFY Pro Wrestling in 2020

DEFY Pro Wrestling celebrates it’s three year anniversary with DEFY: Year 3 at Washington Hall on January 31, 2020.  I’ve been to every DEFY show at Washington Hall since DEFY 1.  The photo at the top is the first photo I ever took at a DEFY show.  (The rest of the photos throughout this post will be images from the first DEFY show.)  The way I got introduced to DEFY, I remember seeing flyers for DEFY 1 all throughout Capitol Hill.  One day, I went Rancho Bravo and saw a guy with a “321 Battle” patch on his battle vest.  We got to talking, I asked him if he knew anything about DEFY, he told me it was legit (they’re bringing Cody Rhodes to Seattle), and I should check them out.  The person turned out to be local wrestler, Batboy who also performed on the first few DEFY cards. Going into 2020, here are ten things I’m looking forward to from DEFY Pro Wrestling:

10. More “big name” out of town stars. In no way is DEFY bad at booking outside talent and I love seeing our out of town regulars (War Beast, Matt Cross, etc.), but seeing Strong Hearts and Jurassic Express booked for the next show, I would love to see this trend of new outside talent continue into 2020.

9. Randy Myers quest for the heavyweight title. We saw Randy open the most recent show declaring he wants the belt. I want to see him continue his gauntlet of challengers. Daniel Makabe was a great first test, but I’m curious to see who’s next?

8. Is Cody Chhun ready for a step up in competition? It’s hard to deny, Cody is a star in DEFY. His showing at last year’s Super 8x GP and matches with Darby Allin and Christopher Daniels proved he’s ready for a step up in competition, but can he get wins over an Artemis Spencer, Hammerstone, or Schaff?

7. A fan booked event. I vaguely remember a year or so back, fans could buy the opportunity to book a future DEFY event as part of a VIP experience. What would a fan booked DEFY event look like in 2020?

6. What will DEFY do with the local lightweight guys? I feel like we see Judas Icarus, Travis Williams, Guillermo Rosas, and a handful of other locals booked against each other in a number of combinations every month. What if there was a DEFY lightweight championship or some sort of secondary title for them to compete for?  I think it would be great if this year’s Super 8x GP was for a secondary belt.

5. In September, Darby Allin cut a promo praising DEFY as the top independent organization in the Pacific Northwest and downplaying every other northwest organization before it. He essentially threw down the gauntlet, and personally I think it would be great to see a company respond. Will a local company invade DEFY to prove who’s the best?

4. Will we see Migs compete in a DEFY ring?

3. More gimmick matches. We get the occasional no holds barred match or War Beast rules match, but Artemis Spencer and Schaff are kind of opening Pandora’s Box with the announcement of a ladder match at DEFY Year 3. I’d love to see more ladder matches at future events, or something just as crazy (cage match, maybe?).

2. Can someone pose a challenge to War Beast? I like War Beast. Every show they’re on, I usually say “Hi! Looking forward to your match.” when I see them at “merch row”, but looking at the current roster, other than the Gunz, I would love to see a tag team pose a serious threat to the War Beast title reign.

1. What will the heavyweight title picture look like? I like Schaff, especially now that he’s turned (everyone can’t be good), but there are a lot of contenders. Everyone from Randy Myers, Artemis Spencer, (since their face off at the last show) Jacob Fatu, Alex Hammerstone, and a number of outside company contenders are all looking for a shot. How long can Schaff hold onto the heavyweight title in 2020?

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to what DEFY has in store for 2020.

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