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- Posted on Mar 14th 2010 9:00PM by Joseph P. Larkin
Describe your sound in your own words.
I think the easiest way to describe my own sound is to say that its piano-driven alt pop. I like to arrange songs from a "retro" perspective and really relish the challenge of combining electronic elements with the richness of acoustic live recording.
How did your band form?
Well, it's just me and I formed slowly and steadily. I'm originally from the Netherlands with a Dutch father and an American mother. We moved more than I care to count and I was able to start collecting the observations of the world at a really early age. I was always a musical kid, always hiding behind a piano or in a choir section. Initially my path in life took me in the direction of politics and activism, but I quickly learned that I needed to focus on working things out with music first. It has always drawn me back in. A few years ago I made the move to L.A. after living in Nashville and before that Boston. In L.A., I found my musical home at the Hotel Café. The family of songwriters and performers there adopted me and helped me feel steady enough to start taking my music seriously. I recorded a kitchen table EP with Rob Giles (of the Rescues) and that started the ball rolling in L.A. A few years later, Joshua Radin offered me a spot in his band as a keyboard player and vocalist. That tour opened a lot of doors for me and really was the starting point for me as professional full-time musician. No more day jobs. I recorded my second EP with Bill Lefler (Cary Brothers, Ingrid Michaelson) in 2009 and toured as part of the Hotel Café Tour.
I was invited back to the Netherlands last summer for a TV performance and soon thereafter was signed to Universal Music. We released an album that combined the two EPs as well as some new material, and it has been in the album and radio charts over there for nineteen weeks. My cover of Kings of Leon was just nominated as Single of the Year at the 3FM music awards and the tours in Europe have been going really well. We're releasing the record in the U.K. and Germany under our own management. Right now I'm focusing on finding the balance between Europe and the U.S. I divide my time between the two, touring and hope to get back into the studio in the fall for my second record.
What are your musical influences?
My first influences definitely came from my mother who listened to everything from Brazilian protest folk to Queen records. I've been absorbing the greats like Joni Mitchell and Donny Hathaway and Bob Marley for decades. These days I listen to my fellow Hotel artists a lot because the group of friends I'm surrounded by there stagger my brain. Priscilla Ahn, Elizabeth and the Catapult, Jesca Hoop, Pedestrian ... just some of the many records I play daily.
What's your biggest vice?
I've gotta say that vices are getting smaller and smaller. I guess for me now the addiction to my laptop and cell phone could be considered a vice. As an indie artist and a general control freak I am in front of those screens way too much. Other than that, I'm pretty un-rock 'n' roll. I'll have a whiskey at the venue and a cigarette to cap off the night but other than that, nothing my mamma would yell at me for.
What's in your festival survival kit?
This is always a work-in-progress but I've learned that all your luggage needs wheels, makeup remover wipes make great improvised showers, eye drops on long nights make you feel awake again, good sturdy cowboy boots go with everything, earplugs are not for sissies, hairspray turns that bed head into something intentional, chargers for all your electronics should be in duplicates and ALWAYS make friends with the venue staff. They are your go-to in times of crisis.
Who was your first celeb crush?
I love this question!!! Honestly? I wanted to change it to something cool but ... my very first poster on my wall as a young lass was of Brian May, lead guitar player for Queen. I thought he was the bee's knees. Nowadays, I really dig Ira Glass ('This American Life') and think I would be tongue-tied and sweaty if I ever met him.
What's your musical guilty pleasure?
Oh, Lord ... I've caught myself dancing to Miley Cyrus' 'Party in the USA.' And I'm proud of it.
Beatles or Stones?
Beatles, Beatles, Beatles.
What's the craziest thing you've seen or experienced while on tour?
I used to be a wedding singer. You'd think that touring in a bus with a bunch of boys would render better stories but my most shocking and crazy experiences come from singing in wedding bands when I was still in high school. Let's just say that walking into the dressing room to catch the final "act" between the newly married bride and my lead guitar player at the time kind of took my breath away.
[The] second craziest experience touring has to be my experience of playing in Prague, Czech Republic. The sewage pipe ran right over the stage, nobody in the crowd understood a lick of English and every time the awkward silence of the lost-in-translation hit, someone upstairs would flush the toilet and water would drip on us. Gross. But unforgettable.
Joseph P. Larkin is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.