musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: August 2017

Introducing… Andi

AndiMusic

Ah, the optimism and fortitude of youth! And yet, Toronto-based Andi, in her most recent new song “Half Home,” sounds lonely and not so certain about her chosen life as a musician. She also sounds not so certain about her own abilities and none too excited by her current lifestyle of traveling between recording sessions and rehearsals, alternating between sleeping on friends’ couches and crashing in her car. “Half Home” suggests a state of flux, a sort of earth plane “bardo,” where you don’t really belong anywhere. Meanwhile, there’s change in the personality and progress is being made, but it’s not always perceptible. For an impatient youth, the clock might not seem to be moving at all.

“I call on the phone just to reach a busy tone
I call on the phone just to feel like I’m not alone.

I’m calling just a little bit older, a little bit bolder
and still I’ve got nothing to say
I’m calling just a little bit older, a little bit bolder
and still I’ve got nothing to say
I’ve gotten just a little bit colder
I needed a shoulder to help get me through the day.
I’m afraid, I’m afraid
I’m the same girl as yesterday.”

– Half Home

Andi’s Sketches EP, released just last year, was her debut. It made the top 4 in Canada’s national CBC Searchlight competition. She describes the inspiration behind the new single as “being young and in a transitionary stage of life.” The song has a pop feel, but with touches of other genres that include an R&B swagger that adds dimension and gives Andi her own unique sound. In her early 20s, Andi writes and produces her own music. Along with supple, smoothly sliding vocals, the instrumentation, with its neat, tasty guitar and bass lines, raise the level beyond the average pop song to something more progressive.

Andi is currently working on her full-length debut, inspired by weighty world issues and her personal connection with them. She tackles subjects such as women’s empowerment and autonomy, sociey’s ideas about masculinity, LGBTQ+ issues and her life experience as a bisexual woman. She observes and writes about the human condition, including emotional struggles, self-conflict and love, while championing the individual’s quest for empowerment and acceptance.

web | facebook | twitter | instagram | bandcamp | soundcloud | youtube

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Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos introduces new album and becomes an advocate for mental health

Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit; photo by Jean Claude B

Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit; photo by Jean Claude B

It’s brave to write from the heart and let strangers learn about your inner thoughts and insecurities. It’s braver still to openly discuss your life honestly, in an effort to help others. Michael Angelakos has “come out” (so to speak), shedding his front man role in Passion Pit and his focus on being a commercial artist to become a highly visible advocate for those with mental health issues. To coincide with the release of Tremendous Sea of Love, he has founded The Wishart Group, an artist-driven organization focused on developing “programs and services that better serve and promote the mental, physical, financial, and creative well-being of artists.”

The group will be bringing together professionals from all disciplines, from researchers and scientists to lobbyists and advocates, to generate funding for mental health research, develop healthcare for artists, support new therapeutic treatments for mental illness and more. To introduce this campaign, he has been sharing his personal struggles with bipolar disorder, including this interview with NPR.

Angelakos is putting his money where his mouth is. Royalties from the sales of the new album are being donated to the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at Broad Institute of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

From first creating Passion Pit in his Emerson College dorm room 10 years ago to realizing considerable success with their unique brand of romantically-tinged synth-pop (thanks in no small part to Angelakos’ dreamy falsetto), the band has come a long way, giving him a strong platform of support from which to champion mental health awareness. And that’s a very good thing indeed.

And the music? It’s classic Passion Pit, steeped in their distinctive sound that has won them an army of fans, from Boston to far beyond. It can be streamed via Apple Music and on Spotify, and is available on Amazon. This is the band’s fourth album.

web | facebook | the wishart group

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Finding One’s Clan

FindingOnesClan1_1000

I was walking around in a strange city. I heard music being played, in a few different places. I followed one of the songs and discovered a band playing in a clearing, in a small public park. At first, I sat on a ledge above where they were, as I saw that others had done this. But immediately after I sat down, a strange man sat down next to me and starting staring at me, so I got right up and left.

I walked down to where the band was and stood near them. There were iron bars that separated the band from passersby.

The band was extremely good. They had a violin player, guitars, drums, etc. I don’t recall how this happened, but the show had ended and I was now at the home of one of the musicians, sitting and chatting with them on an outside patio or front porch. There was a man with long hair and a woman. At first, I thought they were together, but I think they were just friends or bandmates/housemates.

It was a very cool-looking neighborhood, with many tiny houses lined up like row houses, and some people had their beds right in the front yards, with hippie types of decorations. It had a Scandinavian vibe, very lose and free-spirited, so I was thinking that this was somewhere in Europe.

I asked them if this area was special to them, if they enjoyed living there and if it had some special meaning for them. The woman answered that it wasn’t the place, but the people. She said something about this other woman she knew, and I got the feeling this girl was her partner. Then I responded with something like how I hadn’t “found my clan” yet, and I mentioned how my best friend was really my only close friend.

They said, “it’s not too late,” and I explained that I was in my ’50s, but they still thought it wasn’t too late for me to find my clan. They were very nice and laid back, and I felt that I could be happy there.

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Unprepared for a Bowie Rehearsal

UnpreparedForABowieRehearsal4_1000

I was in a very large room. But it wasn’t just a room — it was a huge, wide tower or majestic structure high off the ground, and I sat with a few hundred others around the rim of this enormous cavern.

The room was rectangular in shape, and at the far side, standing on a ledge facing us, was David Bowie. He was working with us on some sort of project he was doing, acting as our choral director, as he led us in performance, singing something from his last album — or possibly a new work.

He spoke for a while. I was trying to take it all in, but it was quite heady and sophisticated, so I didn’t completely understand everything that he said.

Then everyone started singing. The place had amazing acoustics, since it was a giant chapel or church tower. I wasn’t familiar with the song and didn’t know the words, but somehow, I figured them out as we went along that first time. It sounded incredible, like a huge professional choir, and it was extremely moving.

We must have been chosen to work with him on an album or live show, and we were rehearsing our parts. Then something happened. He was talking to us some more, and then we were to sing again. I’m not sure if a bunch of new people had joined in or what it was, but when we began again, we were all out of tune and not in sync with each other. I could no longer recall the words, and others struggled as well.

Bowie must have been frustrated with what he was hearing, because after a little while, he spoke to us again and said that he decided we should work with someone else until we were comfortable with the music, before working directly with him again. He went on to say that obviously not everyone had listened to his new music and some weren’t familiar with it. It was like a scolding or accusation. He said he was handing things over to some woman who would work with us instead.

I felt disappointed, of course, but it was completely understandable. I mean, why should he waste his time, when we were obviously so unprepared? Though I couldn’t figure out what happened, since we sounded so wonderful earlier.

It was as though the magic had been lost.

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