Friday, June 24, 2016

[INTERVIEW] Emily Staveley-Taylor of The Staves: "I think the idea of live music probably has changed."

The Staves have a new EP, Sleeping In a Car, out, and you should A) listen to it and B) go see the trio at Off Broadway in St. Louis on Saturday, June 25th ($12-15; purchase here).

Before we get to Ryan Self's interview with Emily Staveley-Taylor, let's have a listen to "Roses."

Once again: The Staves in St. Louis at Off Broadway. Saturday, June 25th.

You've talked about [new EP] Sleeping in a Car being about travel, and that feeling of disconnect. Do you feel like you fundamentally change as a person when on tour? Is there a loss of self?

I don't know if its a disconnect from self, more like all your anchors disappear. Most people are wise enough to surround themselves with friends and family and familiar routines, that act as mirrors to reflect back to you the version of you you have built. With excessive touring like we do, those disappear. It's quite easy to forget yourself. You have to hang on tighter to your own idea of who you are, and reality. This is an industry where you're provided a lot of alcohol from midday on, all day. Everyone drinks, all day everyday. What are the rules? Who am I? It's the most fun ever, but the most disorienting too.

You've made a name for yourself supporting some bigger acts, and having fans discover you that way. How does your mindset and process change when headlining a tour, versus opening?

In some ways it's not very different. You always want to put on a show where you are present, and in the moment of the music. Try to play the best you can. That part doesn't really change, supporting or headlining, regardless of country. On the other hand, when supporting, you're playing to an audience that isn't necessarily interested. That sometimes provides for a cool energy, makes you push it where you wouldn't have before. With our regulars we can be chatty, let our hair down. We're not introducing ourselves.

I think it's fair to describe your music as driven by the subtle, finer moments. In this age of cell phone cameras and short attention spans, how do you command attention at a live show with such deliberate, nuanced songs? Is that a struggle at all?

I think the idea of live music probably has changed. But we feel lucky. The people who come generally are pretty attentive. When headlining, people aren't watching you through a screen. People who come to our shows know that about us. But sometimes, people in the front row just film you the whole time, they're not really there.

Have you followed the [HB-2] controversy in NC that had some acts cancelling shows in protest? Was there ever any consideration given to cancelling? 

It hasn't been an issue yet for us. It's such a tough one. To take a stand is good and right and true, but there are good people, who want to see you play, and they suffer. We have no plans to cancel. Apartheid/South Africa was really successful boycott, and a good thing to do. It can work and make a difference. Maybe we should think of it now, you're giving me ideas...

(I picture myself getting blamed for getting the upcoming NC show cancelled, and quickly beg for a topic change).Years ago, you described the act of being a band without a set leader "exhausting." Has that changed over the years? Has someone emerged as a de facto "leader"of the band? If not, does being siblings make that all the less likely?

Yes, probably very unlikely. I don't think much has changed. It's kind of a constant internal power struggle, but it helps to make us better I think. We don't let each other get away with anything, we are always challenging each other. It makes for better music. It varies day to day, task to task.

My favorite last question...what's the best record of 2016? What are you playing?

The EP by Christof, Montreal. Stunning, really really exciting. Docks by Amanda Bergman, I guess that's recent. So good. Phil Cooks' Southland Mission. A wonderful album.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

[PHOTOS] M83 + Sophie Tukker at The Fillmore in Charlotte

M83 and Sophie Tukker recently played The Fillmore in Charlotte. Please enjoy these photos by Bridgette Aikens.


Sophie Tukker



40 Favorite Songs of 2016 (So Far)

It's that time again. I think I always say that. But somehow, July is around the corner, and it's not stopping for gas.

So here we go. Our 40 Favorite Songs of 2016 (So Far).

Subscribe on Spotify here.

Or simply stream below.

Peace, love, and tunes.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

[PHOTOS] The Avett Brothers + Brandi Carlile at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis


The Avett Brothers and Brandi Carlile performed last Friday at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis. Please enjoy these photos by Tim Bottchen.



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bonnaroo 2016 Recap: Here's To Never Ending Circles

Photo by Jason Gonulsen

January 23rd. Or, 1/23.

But not easy as 1, 2...3. Not for me.

Not for one of my best friends.

It was 3 AM. My dog, Tucker, was lying on the creaky hardwood floor, yelping, suffering, panting, hanging on. I hope we wasn't like that for long. I guess I'll never know.

I'll admit I froze for a second -- it was the first time in my life that a living, breathing creature desperately depended on me for immediate help. I waited ten seconds, thinking that somehow it would all be okay, that I hadn't woken up, that it was all a nightmare. But this was aggressive cancer. This was real.

I carried him to the car, lied him gently in the backseat. With one hand on the wheel and the other on his head, I drove frantically for help. I didn't fire up Spotify. I ran through three red lights.  I drove as fast as I ever have because my little guy was in pain and it needed to stop. This was goodbye.

The final thing I remember was spending a few quiet moments with him. They had given him Valium, almost to point where he was lifeless, and only one of his eyes was open. But the last thing he did was try to give me a final kiss -- his tongue moved slowly and hung out of his mouth. I told him it was okay, that I loved him. I'll always remember that fragile moment, because I would like to think it was his way of saying he knew I was there for him. One last embrace.

And then he was gone.

I wasn't the same for three months. I avoided everyone, I avoided most concerts, I avoided alcohol, but I did take the easy way out. I slept. I gained weight.I watched so many average movies on Netflix. March Madness wasn't the same. I was depressed. Finally, I got help.

Without help, I would not have been able to attend and photograph Bonnaroo, a four-day music festival in Manchester, Tennessee. A magical place from which I have just returned, rejuvenated with a fire in my gut and so much hope. You might think of it as a hippie haven, and that's okay. I can't speak for anyone else about their Bonnaroo experience, or what they might believe it is or isn't. The truth is, it's different for everyone. A unique 96 hours in 90+ degree weather.

And the show always goes on.

The music lasts until 4 AM. 6 AM if you count the Tiki Disco. And if you camp, like I did, the days start early. The sun is your alarm, and a puddle of sweat greets your first thought. Your breakfast is Emergen-C, a Powerbar, and dry cereal. Your line to the Porta-Potty is long. But boy do the hours fly by.

Your days are filled with moments. Charles Bradley, 67, smiling in the grueling heat. Eddie Vedder holding a bottle of wine and launching furiously into "Go." Devonte Hynes, aka Blood Orange, dancing to "You're Not Good Enough" at 2:15 AM. Tame Impala and confetti cannons at 1 AM. Ellie Goulding greeting her audience after a brief evacuation due to lightning. Grace Potter flying around the stage to "Turntable." Benny Yurco's hair. Twin Peaks opening with a rollicking "Butterfly." Dead and Company opening the final set of the weekend with "Truckin'."

And then there's Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES.

I want to leave you with Lauren.

Actually, I would like to apologize to Lauren. I had too easily dismissed her as a performer who looked pissed off. Next to nothing stage presence. Because of this, I wasn't ready when she literally charged at me during the opening seconds of CHVRCHES' first song, "Never Ending Circles." This was not the Lauren Mayberry I knew from two years ago. This was a focused young woman who knew what she wanted, who knew why she was on Bonnaroo's main What Stage.

Lesson learned, Lauren. Your presence gave me energy, gave me life, gave me a desire to continue.

And most importantly: you reminded me of effort.

We control our own effort. The bad days, the good days, it's up to us to keep moving, keep creating, keep believing.

In many ways, I'm still there. Still watching her move. Still with a beaming smile. Like a vision that only Bruce Springsteen could describe. What a joy it was to see an artist blossom before your eyes when you were expecting much less.

Thank you, Lauren.

Thank you, Bonnaroo.

Here's to never ending circles.