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Interviews Music News

Artist Interview: katie MAC

It’s a foggy October day and pop artist katie MAC and I grab a table outside of a coffeeshop in Nashville. While we wait for our teas to cool down to a reasonable temperature, we have plenty of time to discuss her new EP Self Sabotage. It’s been months since either of us have had an in-person interview, and we both laugh about how we aren’t sure how to do this anymore, but we take a stab at it anyway.

CROWDSURFER MAG: Your EP just came out this month! How does it feel to have your second body of work out there?

KATIE MAC: It’s different than the first for sure. To have the songs out felt like a turning point, like a change in the chapter, more personally than musically for me. It felt very cathartic and satisfying to finally have those songs out for other people to listen to.

CSM: What does the EP mean as a whole to you?

KM: It felt like an examination of self. I felt like my first album was very outward looking as far as my relationships with other people, whereas this entire thing felt like a step back and kind of an introspective examination through the lens of the way that I interact with other people.

CSM: Why did you pick “Self Sabotage” as the title track?

KM: I think when I finished that song, I was like, wow this is the phrase that feels most true to me in this phase of life. And then I started putting the project together and realized I had been creating that as a theme in my writing without even knowing it. So it just kind of clicked and made sense for that to be the title track.

CSM: So we know the title track, but do you have a favorite track?

KM: I do this thing where I am most obsessed with a song for a couple of days and then I hate it for a couple of days and then I like it again. So it changes. But currently, my favorite is the last song, which is called “Worried About Me.” I think I like it so much because I made it with my two best friends here.  It’s special to me because it’s not about boys or whatever, it’s about my relationship with myself and with my work and my career.

CSM: Self Sabotage follows up your album Tears Like Glitter. You said the content has changed since the album, but what else has?

KM: Tears Like Glitter felt like coming of age for me. Now, as more of an adult, I feel like there’s a sense of maturity in this one that was missing from the first one. Sonically, it felt like the sounds on Tears Like Glitter are very similar to this one, it’s just that Self Sabotage feels more exploratory. That willingness to try new things as far as production and vocals and is unique and characterizes me as a person

CSM: Tell me a little about your writing process.

KM: For me, it changes depending on the song. But it almost always starts out with an experience that happened to me or someone I’m close to. And then we either start with a title or phrase or melody, and if it’s just me writing, it’s usually a thirty-minute process and then a song just comes out. But when I’m with really talented writers and producers, we take our time and mold the story, and we’ll normally get the track ready the same day we right the song. A lot of times that’s the only day I’ll be in the studio for the song, and it’ll just be done at the end of the day.

CSM: Do you have a preference? Writing by yourself or with producers?

KM: I don’t have a preference! I think there are some stories that come out better when it’s just me because I’m not afraid of anyone’s opinion of what I’m saying. But then being in the studio with people I love and respect is so much fun and we get the most awesome ideas I’d never be able to come up with myself.

CSM: What kind of impact do you hope to have with your music?

KM: What I always come back to is I would like to make people feel less alone in the way that they experience things. If I can make people feel they can express what they’re feeling and that they’re not alone, I think that I’ve done my job.

CSM: So you’re from Kansas, and obviously music brought you here, but why Nashville?

KM: I really wanted to move to California when I was 17, but my parents wanted me to go to college. I hated all the places I visited, and then we visited Belmont University. We got there and I loved the school, I was like, you’re telling me I can spend four years learning to write songs? Sign me up. And I never looked back.

CSM: What’s next for you?

KM: I have some collaborations coming up that I’m really excited about!

CSM: We’ll keep our eyes out for those! And, it’s October. Do you have a favorite Halloween movie?

KM: Ok so apparently Halloween movies is a genre, and I didn’t know this. I think I’ve seen maybe two Halloween movies in my life. My roommate is making me watch Halloweentown tonight, actually.

CSM: A classic!

KM: I’ll let you know how it is!

You can take a listen to Self Sabotage here!

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Interviews

Artist Interview: Barret Turner

Dallas-based musician Barret Turner has been writing music for many years but has only recently begun releasing the tracks. We’re excited to introduce you to his songs! Read on to learn about Barret’s latest single “Always You” and everything he has planned next.

CROWDSURFER MAG: Your latest single “Always You” came out last month. What does this song mean to you?

BARRET TURNER: I made it a long time ago, and it was about my friend’s mom battling cancer. I brought I back with the newer stuff I make, and now I feel like it represents his journey after his mom passed away. I feel like he kind of lost himself and now he’s getting back to who he was.

CSM: We’re fans of Will Jay, so we were excited to see him featured on this song. How did bringing him onto the project happen?

BT: I sent him an email! I sent him six songs, and he said he wanted to work on “Always You.” He was super easy to work with, we’d send each other lyrics and melody ideas back and forth, and that’s how the song came about. Quarantine hit so we had to do everything over email.

CSM: It’s so wild that this all had to go down over email!

BT: Yeah, and I wish it wasn’t like that, but I was like, man I’d love to work with Will Jay, he’s so good. So I feel very lucky that he accepted the offer.

CSM: “Always You” follows up “On Purpose” which came out one month earlier. Can we expect another song this month?

BT: I’m putting a song out every month! October 30th is the next one called “Never Stood.” It’s different than the other ones, it’s more vibey, chill-in-your-car-at-night kind of song.

CSM: “Always You” and “On Purpose” are both very emotional. What’s your writing process like when turning these personal stories into music?

BT: I like to write at night, and I’ll get an idea in my head and start dabbling with that. I normally start with the piano chords, and I’ll start building off of that. I like that epic, kind of sad build up towards the end that’s inspirational.

CSM: We all like sad songs! Who are your biggest inspirations in music?

BT: I always liked Martin Garrix and how his songs are kind of chill but at the end your brain is just mash because you’re so involved with the song. I also really like Hootie and the Blowfish. It’s a totally different type of music but it’s very emotional and real.

CSM: So you’ve got more singles to release, and do you have anything else in store for us?

BT: Yeah when I put this next song out I’ll have the lyric video and another music video for that. And then, next month, same thing. I’d like to play show but obviously that’s not happening right now!

CSM: Whoa, that’s a ton. How are you managing to get all of that out every month?

BT: I usually have someone do the lyric video, but I’ve been making the music videos myself, and It’s hard. It’s a learning curve, and it’s a lot. But it’s kind of fun, too, because it’s rewarding when it’s done!

CSM: What’s one of your goals for 2021?

BT: I’ve been trying to get all of my songs finished and getting them out is really the only goal right now. Just trying to keep going up! There’s no plan B right now, it’s just this, and I’m excited about it. I just don’t want to one day be old and say “damn, I never even tried.”

CSM: Last question, even though holidays are weird this year, do you have any plans for Halloween?

BT: No, I’m sure I’ll do something though! This weekend I’m going to the Chiefs game.

CSM: Wait, you’re in Dallas but going to the Chiefs game?

BT: Oh yeah, my grandpa played for them so it’s a family thing.

CSM: That’s crazy!

BT: Yeah, he played in the first Superbowl. And a lot of the songs I made . . . I lived with my Grandma for a year and a half, and I was making these songs and she would listen. And then she passed away, and the Chiefs went to the Superbowl the next week and won it. We went to the game and it was the best thing I’ve ever been to. It felt like she was there, you know?

CSM: That’s magical and amazing.

Take a listen to “Always You” here!

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Music News Reviews

Sound Of Kalima releases “6789ten”

Here’s a duo to pay attention to. Sound Of Kalima is made of up Pete and Sal, two young musicians from Vancouver. They captured the USA’s attention with their single “Wild Trash,” an urgent commentary on the destruction of our planet. Self-described as having “no respect for the limitations of genre,” Sound Of Kalima is here to give us electronic music that holds a human element. Today, the duo released their latest, “6789ten.”

“6789ten” is a song filled with variety. The electric guitar and percussion make you want to jam, there’s prevalent anger, and yet some element makes you want to dance. The refrain of “6789ten” is easy to get stuck in your head, but my favorite part of this song are the verses. The melodic contrast with the chorus grabs your attention and the lyrics run deep.

In this world I’m not an equal / that’s not heartbreak to you, why should I bother?

“Wild Trash” showed us that SOK isn’t afraid to write about controversial topics, and “6789ten” is no different. The lyrics address prejudice based on skin color, racial injustice, and lack of faith in the system, and the siren that seemed like a fun sound effect on first listen takes on a new meaning as you pay attention to the words.

I’ll be keeping tabs on SOK, eagerly awaiting to see what they have to say next. Until then, take a listen to “6789ten.”

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Music News Reviews

Leo Varella has a “Pocket Full of Change”

Brazilian guitarist, singer, and songwriter Leonardo Varella has a new single out, and it’s going to make you feel good. “Pocket Full of Change” has a retro vibe that makes you wish you were on a beach, grooving to the music. The chorus is easy to learn, and the verses tell you to stop stressing, and don’t worry about all the bad things that happened to you today. And of course, that nearly 30 second guitar solo is something you didn’t realize you wanted, but you’re going to listen to it again!.

Along with “Pocket Full of Change,” Leo Varella has two other singles out for you to take a listen to, and collaborations across the globe. Each of his songs show his influences of jazz, hip hop, rock, and Brazilian music. We’ll be sticking around to hear his guitar-playing!

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Music News Reviews

Nathan Zarowny Releases “You Don’t Play Fair”

Today, alternative pop artist Nathan Zarowny released his second single of the year titled “You Don’t Play Fair.” Following up “Why,” he continues to give us haunting music with emotional lyrics.

“You Don’t Play Fair” is about being somebody’s second choice but not settling for that. The piece opens with harmonic humming, which is one of my favorite aspects of the song. Those hums reappear throughout and become their own instrument. The quiet verses build to the nearly chaotic chorus, leaving you emotionally grasping at something to hold on to. “Now you want me because I don’t want you,” Zarowny sings, with only a piano to accompany him in the bridge, pulling at all of the heartstrings before leading us to the end of the song.

Sound like something you want to listen to? Click here to stream “You Don’t Play Fair.”

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Concert Photography

Freedom Jam 2020

Operation Triage’s first annual Freedom Jam happened on August 29th in St. Louis and we got to be there. The day was stacked with musicians who came from near and far to be there, and all proceeds went to benefit veterans. Walker County closed out the show, and they’re stage presence was undeniable! The sold-out event was packed, so we dipped in and out to safely take a few pictures of the bands and artists. Check out the photos from the night below, and know that Freedom Jam 2021 has already been announced!

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Interviews

Eves Karydas on when life gets “Complicated”

Eves Karydas is a singer-songwriter who took Australia by storm when her debut album summerskin came out in 2018. Now she’s back, having released her latest single “Complicated” earlier this year. We got to have a long-distance video call with Eves to talk about “Complicated” and what more she has prepared for us!

CROWDSURFER MAG: Your single “Complicated” came out this summer, or well . . . winter for you. Tell me about the inspiration for the song.

EVES KARYDAS: It was written after a series of weird, unfortunate events. I was in Stockholm at the time, and I was overseas for the most of last year. I got to the end of the trip and hadn’t really written anything good in a long time. I was feeling a lot of pressure, feeling homesick, and starting to doubt myself. Then my grandfather passed away, and that hit me harder than I thought. And it all started to manifest in these weird dreams, and I just got to this point where I was like, I have to do something about this. So I took it to the studio and was like, guys, I want to laugh at myself today, I don’t wanna be serious, I just want to confront all of this stuff going on in my mind. So that was how “Complicated” was written.

CSM: Let’s talk about the music video! What’s the concept behind all of the people frozen in the moment?

EK: For me, I really wanted the music video to portray a sense of being stuck in a place where you can’t move forwards. I like how the surreal element of the people in the house being frozen kind of puts you on edge.

CSM: There are a lot of surreal elements in the video, like I love the tub filled with fluff instead of water.

EK: I’ve always had a thing for when film and TV goes down a surreal road. David Lynch is one of my favorite directors so that’s always been an inspiration for me. I just felt like having these people doing mundane scenarios also represents how it can be the simplest things holding you back as well.

CSM: “Complicated” is the first song you’ve released since your previous album summerskin. How has your sound changed? How have you changed?

EK: I’ve changed in that I’ve become a lot more direct. I think the biggest change is that I’ve started confronting my mental health and stopped sort of hiding away parts of myself that made me uncomfortable. And it started to reflect in the music. I wanted my lyrics to be really upfront but with its own version of poetic-ness. And that was reflected in the production style for me. I started writing these lyrics and was like, I don’t want anything crowding them. The storytelling and the vocals, you can’t escape them.

CSM: Will “Complicated” be on a new album?

EK: Yeah! I can feel it in me that I’ve hit that new phase where I’m like, I can write an album now. In the last few months I overcame some serious writer’s block, and I’m really getting back into the swing of things. I’ve got a whole bunch of singles up my sleeve though.

CSM: Speaking of singles, what else do you have in store for the rest of this year?

EK: I just finished up my next single, and we’re planning on putting that out before the end of the year. I’m actually trying to figure out the music video now and wanting to make something that puts you on edge but doesn’t make you feel bad. I think at the moment the world doesn’t need things that make you feel bad.

CSM: You mentioned some writer’s block, what have you been doing to help yourself stay focused on your music during this pandemic?

EK: I moved, actually! I moved down the coast and am living by myself for the first time, and I think that’s maybe helped with the writer’s block because it’s my space. But it’s been really inspiring being somewhere I can just enjoy nature. Living in the city was…I felt so boxed in, especially while everyone was in isolation. I think it’s nice being able to reconnect with myself.

CSM: Since we’re all dreaming of being on tour right now . . . who would you most love to go on tour with?

EK: I would love to tour with…let me think for a second! I mean Harry Styles is one of my absolute favorites and that would be so wild. I reckon it would be pretty cool to tour with someone who is in pop but a little bit of a different flavor like Lewis Capaldi, or like imagine touring with The 1975 that would be pretty epic as well.

CSM: Those all sound awesome, and I will be in the audience if that happens! Thanks for talking with us today!

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Music News Reviews

Skyler Cocco takes us on “The Drive”

Skyler Cocco is much more than an indie pop artist. With too many hyphens to put in her title, she does it all. Producing, writing, mixing, and performing, there’s no end to her talents. Today she released another single, one of many this year, called “The Drive.”

Skyler Cocco’s breathy vocals, turning staccato at times, mixed with the dreamy synths paints a picture of the open road ahead and wide sky above. “I thought about it on the drive” is a line we can all relate to, as getting in a car provides little distraction and all the time to think and to overthink. She sings of a mistake made by herself and the hopes to start anew, and while the words should be painful, the music is hopeful and fun.

Go take a listen to “The Drive” and stay tuned for more singles from Skyler Cocco, which we most certainly can expect!

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Uncategorized

Middle Part tells us to go ahead “& Cry” in latest single

Middle Part is an artist bringing us synth-laden indie pop music that speaks to the soul. Unafraid to use music as therapy, Middle Part writes deeply personal stories in his songs. “& Cry” doesn’t stray from that, and gives us permission to shed tears when things are overwhelming.

“& Cry” is an incredibly moving and cinematic piece. The chorus is simple in lyrics – “Go ahead & cry” – but the emotional impact is heavy. “I really wanna hold you / I’m just not all there,” Middle Part softly sings, speaking volumes in those few words about not being mentally able to take on the things that you want. Preceding those lines is “I hate when I’m like this,” and when you hear it you might start crying yourself into a cathartic release. Falling just under three minutes in length, I suggest keeping the song on repeat as one listen isn’t enough.

Middle Part will be releasing an EP in the near future called I Wish I Was Alive, so keep your eyes out for that and stream “& Cry” in the meantime! We certainly are ready to dive headfirst into his intense music and hope you are, too.

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Interviews

Artist Interview: Gillian Heidi

Singer-songwriter Gillian Hedi is one to keep your eye on as she continues to put out R&B-infused pop music that’s so poetic, you wouldn’t believe she’s only sixteen. “What It Felt Like,” the single off of her first EP Unbridled, has over 250 thousand streams on Spotify, and her music only keeps getting better.

Her latest single “fray” comes out today, and we got to talk with her about her previous single “desperate” and her upcoming album!

CROWDSURFER: Your single “desperate” recently came out! Tell us a little about the inspiration and story of this song.

GILLIAN HEIDI: “desperate” is definitely one of the more fictional songs I’ve written. One of the biggest parts of the writing process was developing the characters who exist in the song. Though the emotions I expressed in the song are authentic to my life, the story is fictionalized in some aspects. “desperate” portrays both the guilt and thrill that comes when you have feelings for someone else while in a relationship.

CS: Do you have a favorite lyric?

GH: My favorite lyric is definitely “but there’s something about your danger that makes me fall for your taboo.”

CS: I hear that “desperate” sets the tone for your upcoming album 3AM. Walk us through how your sound and you yourself have changed since your debut EP Unfiltered.

GH: I think that Unfiltered was an undeveloped version of my current sound. 3AM is definitely darker and more mature than anything on Unfiltered. I think that this development really just came from growing up and changing as a person.

CS: When does 3AM come out?

GH: 3AM should hopefully come out early next year! Until then, I’ll be releasing a bunch of singles from it.

CS: You’re sixteen! And yet your music feels so mature. Where does your inspiration for this sound and these lyrics come from?

GH: I think that my inspiration comes from all of the music I’ve listened to as I’ve grown up. Some of my biggest inspirations are Taylor Swift, Amy Winehouse, and Ella Mai. I think that listening to other artists can really help spark ideas and inspiration in my own work.

CS: What’s your songwriting process like?

GH: I usually start a song with one line or a few lines that I really like, and build around that. I try to stay inspired by doing writing exercises each day, which has really helped improve my process.

CS: What made you decide to pursue music?

GH: I can remember the first time I heard “Love Story” by Taylor Swift on the radio. I was 6-years-old and at that moment I knew that I wanted to write songs. Cheesy, but true.

CS: If you’re still in school, how are you balancing everything?

GH: I am still in school! I take academics very seriously and it has definitely always been a priority for me. Sometimes it can be difficult to balance everything, but I try to make time for the things I love, like creating music. 

CS: What else do you have in store for us before your album drops?

GH: I’m dropping a new music video very soon and I’ve also got a bunch of new singles lined up. I can’t wait!

CS: Do you have any goals for this year that you’re super excited about? Whether music-related or not?

GH: This year I want to start recording some of my new music. Since recording 3AM, I’ve definitely further developed my style, and I can’t wait to work on my next project.

You can take a listen to “desperate” here, and stay tuned for more from Gillian Heidi!