Category Archives: Interview

People Museum Explains Their Name, Music & Connection To New Orleans (Interview)

Jeremy Phipps and Claire Givens started making music together and became People Museum after a mutual friend introduced them in their native Louisiana two years ago. Givens was working in the classical music world and Phipps had toured as a trombonist with Solange, AlunaGeorge and Rubblebucket. Their peculiar pop has a wellspring in some of New Orleans’ traditions as well as the influence of rock pioneers like David Bowie. I Dreamt Of You In Technicolor is their debut album of nine songs that sounds earthbound and trippy at the same time. The duo spoke about these origins and meaning of their “Bible Belt” single that has the most magnetic expression of the French Quarter’s home through their eyes. 

“We are all mini-museums of the people we love or hate”

 

What is the significance of your name?

Jeremy: It’s a metaphor about holding other people’s ideas and opinions inside of us. We are all mini-museums of the people we love or hate.

How did you become a duo?

Claire: We met at a place called Marigny Brasserie in the French Quarter of New Orleans after a mutual friend suggested we would be good collaborators. Jeremy had just gotten back from living in Los Angeles and I had just come off of a music project that broke up. We went to our buddy’s house in the Treme the same day and started writing songs. We finished two complete songs and realized it was a perfect match.

What is about New Orleans that inspires you?

Claire: Growing up in conservative North Louisiana, New Orleans was the first place I went that I felt like I could be truly free, truly myself. The people here are wild and lawless, and they are not ruled by time or money. New Orleans is really a place where you can slow down, really see something new, and figure out yourself. I’m so inspired by the people here and the spaces they create for art and music. The best shows I have ever been to have been in someone’s home or a makeshift abandoned building.

Jeremy: The richness of the music community inspires me. Music is higher on the priority list than most places and being able to play so many shows toughens you up as a performer. 

Who were some of the pop artists that you relate to?

Claire: I love David Bowie and seeing an artist effortlessly move into a different sound with every album he made. I love his mix of pop and avant-garde. I’d like to see myself as a sort of chameleon-like him. I run around in a lot of different music scenes and try to mix it up.

Jeremy: Pharrell Williams is someone I relate to. He’s had a long career, rolling through all the changes in the musical landscape while being on the cutting edge of it. And though he’s a very skilled musician he manages to use those skills tastefully.

What does your single “Bible Belt” address?

Claire: It addresses my relationship with the church and coming to terms with things that I see in myself that I criticized in the leaders of the church that I grew up around. 

I listened to your album I Dreamt Of You In Technicolor and the music seems to glide through the air. Are the songs connected by a singular concept?

Claire: Lyrically, they are very personal songs that I tried to keep vague. The album was like a therapy session for me, and it was about going through all these things that had happened to me (falling in love, breaking up, figuring out how to be alone) and making sense of it all and putting it into something productive and beautiful.

What’s next for People Museum? 

Claire: I’m ready to get back to writing and see what sounds we will make next. The songs we are releasing for “I Dreamt You in Technicolor” are over 2 years old, so we have absolutely grown as people and musicians since then. We are also ready to take our music out of Louisiana and share it with everyone. 

Jeremy: Most immediately we’ll be pushing IDYTC to as many as listeners as possible. An album is like a baby and you have to hold its hands in the first years before it can stand up on its own.

Follow People Museum On Instagram  and  Facebook   

 

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Meet: The Brothers Footman (Interview)

The Brothers Footman are literally four brothers, a cousin and a close friend newly formed in their mission of making genre-defying music. The brothers, Dikembe, Gerald, Micah and Joshua were raised in a close-knit household where their parents preferred gospel music. As they came of age, the discovery of other sonic worlds took over and their budding musicianship grew beyond their childhood influences. It was an unplanned bump in their daily routine that spurred the Indiana natives to casually share their music on the Internet. They were seen by indie label Victory Music Buzz within a year of posting and soon had a deal. 

Whether it’s the R&B and country sound of “Clear Country Sky” or the doo-wop and rock-influenced “A Lil Mo’ Time” the band’s collective voice paints a lasting memory after one listen because of their singular style. This summer they are touring and releasing new singles as they continue to hone their playing, writing and smooth harmonies. Dikembe, who sings and plays guitar, shares their story and some details about how The Brothers Footman dove into music and where they are headed next in their odyssey. 

 

I feel like people are missing out on so much music because we have categorized it so crazy”

How did you and your brothers become artists?

It started when we were little kids both of my parents were involved in music in different groups singing and stuff in church. The whole family plays so we pretty much started then but we never tried to be a band together until about I’d say about six months ago.

Do you play an instrument as well?

I do, I play the guitar and Gerald plays the piano Josh plays the drums but he’s also a front man and then Micah plays the bass and then we got Zack Craft on the guitar and Don Reynolds on the drums.

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NUEX Talks The Affectus EP & Finding Their Way (Interview)

Credit: Brandon Shields

Camille Michelle Gray and Teddy Aitkins are the D.C. based indie duo NUEX. Their explorations into electronic sounds are somber, joyful and carry a sense of rebirth. They just released five new emotionally nuanced songs for their Affectus EP. The journey started when they met four years ago and started making music together within days of meeting each other. Aitkins’ transcendent production and Gray’s celestial vocals are part of a sonic world that is open and full of intensely layered feelings. In the interview below, they talk about their origins, the Affectus EP and why they call themselves NUEX. 

“Revenge, hopefulness, melancholy, hubris, enjoyment”-Camille

Are both of you from D.C.?

Teddy: I am from many places. I was born in Liberia West Africa. My family came here as refugees in the ’90s and we lived in the D.C. area (Silver Spring). I ended up getting heavy into music in my early teen years and played in several punk and Go-Go bands which got be involved in the D.C. music scene. I moved to other places after high school and after being away from home for about 10 years, I moved back to the area. Home sweet home.

Camille: I am!

Is there anything about D.C. that influences your music?

Teddy: I think we are naturally influenced by all of our experiences and surroundings, so inherently, yes.

Camille: Not anything inherent to D.C., no. But the city has always been a backdrop to a lot of my experiences, some of which I write about on the EP. So in that way it has a passive influence.

How did you find your way into music making?

Teddy: My first instruments were, tuba and trumpet but that was mandatory at the time..this was in fourth and fifth grade, so eons ago. Then sometime in sixth grade, the snare drummer for the school concert band wasn’t in attendance and I was asked to fill-in for some reason and I ended up having a lot of fun. It just came natural for me. I became the permanent snare drummer, then the marching band drummer, then I upgraded to becoming the marching bandleader, then high school (and college) jazz drummer until I started my own bands. Did a bunch of fun goofy talent show stuff in high school for my hip-hop band, Go-Go band, and punk band. During my college years, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a few regional and national touring bands where I really developed my chops in the studio and playing live. I like to think that all of that was getting me ready for now. Being the co-founder for this wonderful band that Camille and I call NUEX. Watch Out World!

Credit: Brandon Shields

Camille: I’ve been music-ing for 20 years. So I think it found its way into me rather than the other way around (hahahahahahaa, cheesy). I wrote my first song at eight. I was enrolled in violin early on, always in some orchestra or performance group. Dabbled in the keyboard. Then I graduated into guitar and honing my singing-songwriting that way, later doing YouTube covers and features with hip-hop artists. And 20 years later I am who I am now. Music was the foundation of my life. Always will be.

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The Last Poets Understand What Black Is (Interview)

Fifty years ago The Last Poets formed as a group in Marcus Garvey Park on what would have been Malcolm X’s 43rd birthday. The outspoken minister and activist was killed three years earlier in 1965 amidst civil rights turmoil in the country and a serious disagreement with Nation Of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. The group emerged with their self-titled album in 1970 and took America to task for its racism as a trio of two poets and a percussionist. Their Pro-Black poetry was in the same class as the work of Gil Scott-Heron who also admonished America’s racist practices with the eloquence of jazz.

It has been 20 years since The Last Poets released Time Has Come. Black Lives Matter, Trump, and the overall feeling that America has not changed since they started making music five decades ago brought them out of retirement to record Understand What Black Is. The new music is just as fiery as some of their favored jewels like “Niggas Is Scared Of Revolution” and has a distinct jazzy dub sound. The album is also a celebration of their 50th anniversary as a group. Hip-hop and rap music gets so much of its passion, rhythm, and candidness from The Last Poets. Members Abiodun Oyewole, Umar Bin Hassan and Baba Donn Babatunde recently answered some emailed questions about Understand What Black Is and their view of America today. 

 

“Malcolm X was about human rights”-Abiodun 

 

 

 

It’s been a while since your last album, what is it about this time that made you want to create new music?

Umar:  The fact that we are alive and able to do this after 50 years and the changes we have been through as men in the black community, we look at things differently and more wisely as we are older and wiser.

Baba: And we are in Trump time.

Abiodun: To let it be known that The Last Poets are alive and well, and we are still thinking and we are still very vibrant when it comes to our thoughts and the world we live in.

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Syleena Johnson & The Rebirth Of Soul (Interview)

Syleena Johnson has been holding the mantle for soul music since she became a fan as a young person. Her almost two decades as a solo artist seems logical because of her father, Hi Records soul legend Syl Johnson. But the creative spirit was something Johnson came into after making plans to practice medicine. The shift into a music career proved to be enduring and a real fit for the edginess of her blue-toned voice. She is always associated with the “All Falls Down” collaboration she did with Kanye West in 2004. Newer fans are quick to talk about her time on the reality series R&B Divas: Atlanta. Music is her foundation and she has shared her journey within a discography that has addressed many aspects of her womanhood, relationships and humanity up until the present. In 1995 she recorded This Time Together: Father And Daughter with her dad and they have come full circle with 2017’s The Rebirth Of Soul. Their new project is a collection of soul covers from the ’50s and ’60s  recorded live with some of Chicago’s most respected musicians In this interview Johnson explains the story behind The Rebirth Of Soul, her path to music and being one of the hosts of TV One’s new talk show Sister Circle.

“You can not have a Rebirth Of Soul album without Aretha Franklin”

How did you and your father get around to recording Rebirth Of Soul?

We actually did six years ago. This album has been sitting in the can six years. I was pregnant with Kingston and my dad asked me if I wanted to do a covers album. My dad came up with the concept and it was weird because I already recorded Chapter 5 and he suggested live instrumentation and I said fine if you put it all together I’ll show up. I picked some of the records. Otis Redding “This Heart Of Mine” which is probably my favorite Otis Redding song ever.

What did it feel like to record live for the first time?

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been doing this a while with my dad but what was the first time was recording live with musicians from this era. And having to recreate with them and that was tough. But I welcome the challenge because you know one thing about my dad is that he brings out the best in me because he really believes in me as an artist. He really believes in me as a vocalist he gave me the confidence to know that I could go in and complete these songs. 

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