GET TO KNOW: MAE SIMPSON

Ahead of Mae Simpson’s performance at First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2019 in the First Avenue Mainroom on Saturday, January 25, we got to ask her a few questions. Read what she had to say below:

Julia Dunnwald: You’re originally from South Carolina—what brought you to the Twin Cities and/or what attracted you enough to build a life here?
Mae Simpson: I moved to Minneapolis on a weekend whim with my best friend. From that weekend on, I haven’t left. I think it had a lot to do with the opportunity here. To grow not only as an artist, but also as a person. I’m proud to call Minneapolis my home. For the art, culture, and thriving music scene.

JD: When do you find yourself feeling most creative and ready to write? When do you find yourself the opposite, and how do you overcome that?
Mae: I find myself feeling most creative when I’m not thinking about it. It just hits me. A hook, a melody, being overcome with emotion whether it’s due to happiness, heartbreak, or any emotion for that matter. I always know when a song is going the most authentic, because it comes to me with little to no effort. Comparatively, I tend to feel less creative when I am overworking an idea. You can’t force art or genuine emotion. If I stay in one place too long, sometimes it can become difficult to write. I overcome those moments with setting the song to the side for a bit and coming back to it later. If that doesn’t work then it goes in the vault until it FEELS ready to resurface organically.

JD: The Mae Simpson Band is a collective of 7 musicians. That’s quite a large group to have, especially when decisions need to be made. Can you talk about each member’s role, and how the number of contributors influence songs being written/produced?
Mae: Everyone has a role in the band. That being said there are so many things the band members do to make sure we are heading in the same direction. For instance: 
(Me/ Mae) - Band Leader. I have a hand in all things and constantly have something to work on.
Ricardo (percussion) - Website building.
Jorgen (guitar) - Our cool, calm, collective guy. Networks bands and leads our practice schedule.
David (bass) - Sound Engineer.
Paul (bookkeeper). 
Keaton (Saxophone) - Transcribes the music.
Aaron (Website/poster/design).
Bri (friend turned manager) takes the cake for making sure we are all set. She handles a plethora of things that we no longer have to worry about and makes sure we are set up in every way.
With the help of Dani (our booking assistant) and myself, there are so many more things that are being done behind the scenes that take a lot of time and commitment. I am really happy I have a team that really cares about the vision I have. There is a lot of comfort in knowing that. As far as writing goes, I do believe it is a collective endeavor. I encourage the guys to be creative. I often come to them with an idea, an acoustic song, a melody, or lyrics. Sometimes they come to me with a guitar part, or we just decide we are going to make it up on the spot. They write their own parts and add some serious heart and soul. We have this natural instinct of knowing where to take the song. They complement what I am trying to do lyrically and vocally very well.

JD: You are the only woman in said large group. What are some of the challenges you face with this?
Mae: My band mates respect me as a leader, friend, and artist. Momma Mae; you might hear them saying that. I always speak my mind and stand firm for my vision and beliefs, but I also have the same respect and make sure everyone is heard, respected, and treated fairly. That is important to me and I am so thankful to have them with me as supporters, friends, and bandmates. As far as being a woman in the music industry as a whole, I think things are starting to change in the right direction. We—women in the industry, not limited to performers—are taking our music and making it exactly what we want. We are strong and resilient and refuse to back down. It’s really exciting to see as we rise up as artists.

JD: Your band formed around two years ago—where do you hope to see yourselves two years into the future?
Mae: Two years in the future. I don’t think any hope is too big. The Ellen Show?  Bonnaroo? Touring our new EP. Opening up for national artists, being national artists. Waking up each day and my office is the studio, creating what I believe in. I guess my point is in two years I hope we progress more than the year before, and before that. That we stay humble and never stop. And if we do, it’s only to tie our shoes from coming loose, from running head on with our dreams.

Blog by Julia Dunnwald (Marketing Intern)

GET TO KNOW: FruitPunchLoverBoy

Ahead of FruitPunchLoverBoy’s performance at First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2019 in the First Avenue Mainroom on Saturday, January 25, we got to him a few questions. Read what he had to say below:

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Julia Dunnwald: As someone who has changed their stage name before, can you talk about the importance of an artist’s name and what it really represents for their image?
FruitPunchLoverBoy: I think it’s super important to have a name that you really believe in. I think this name stuck because I changed it at the right time, I had just started to step outside more & started meeting people who not only made the name feel good on me but just brought me up as a person. Some might get thrown off by a name till they hear what’s behind it, forget about the ego and make what makes u excited.

JD: Can you describe what it means to you to be nominated as one of the best new MN artists of 2019?
FPLB: It feels really good, there’s so much amazing talent in this state I look up to everyone. I think it’s important to be thankful for opportunities like this because it means someone felt the music enough to put us in this position. It’s gonna be a really cool way to kick off 2020.

JD: Clearly, 2019 was a big year for you. Have you experienced any “growing pains” with this success? Is there a challenge you’re particularly proud to have overcome?
FPLB: 2019 felt like 3 years hahaha, but not due to any “growing pains.” I think everybody is growing, conquering personal battles as they move forward, but when my friends and I are making music or just hanging out it’s like the battles get paused and we put all of the energy into the space we’re in. I’m just proud I found so many great people to surround myself with. Also, we’ve been making an album I’m proud of that too.

JD: If you were to make music in any other genre, which would you choose and why?
FPLB: I think it would be really fun to dive deep into electronic & house music. I enjoy the bounce.

JD: What is your #1 guilty pleasure song?
FPLB: I don’t really have a guilty pleasure song there’s probably some old songs downloaded on my iTunes from like 2010 that would be embarrassing to play out loud but other than that I’m owning it.

Blog by Julia Dunnwald (Marketing Intern)

GET TO KNOW: UNDER VIOLET

Ahead of Under Violet’s performance at First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2019 in the First Avenue Mainroom on Saturday, January 25, we got to ask Sara Bischoff a few questions. Read what she had to say below:

Joely Kelzer: What music inspired you as a kid and made you realize you may want to make music yourself someday?
Sara Bischoff: My
mom is a musician so it just made sense to play music as part of everyday life. But songwriting-wise it was Bob Dylan & Ani Difranco, I listened to both a lot as a kid.

JK: You have an ethereal and breathy style, similar to Mazzy star, is there a particular song or album that influenced the sound of this LP?
SB: I do love Mazzy Star. Hope Sandoval sings in such a relaxed and simple way—it’s so comforting. I keep bringing up the lullaby thing when I talk about Under Violet but that’s the main idea. There were many other things that influenced the first album, but that’s my main idea with Under Violet as a project.

JK: Besides Mazzy Star, who or what inspires your music?
SB: I
think dreams, relationships, nature, animals & memory inspire it.
The
songs “Crimson & Clover” and the song “Sweet Jane” and the song “Blues Run the Game”. Also Ted Lucus, Sibylle Baier, Vashti Bunyan, Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, Joni Mitchell, Jackson C. Frank, Stevie Nicks, Arthur Russell, Neil Young, Invisible Boy,
Poliça, Julie Byrne, and The Weather Station. Those are some of my favorite songwriters.
Chris
Rose (Vampire Hands/Robust Worlds/Web of Sunsets) had a big influence on my music. My songwriting developed a lot from just being in bands with him and observing his approach to songwriting—lyrics, in particular.

JK: You recently released a full-length, self-titled LP. What as the idea or inspiration behind the album?
SB: I
think it was more of a coping mechanism than anything else. Music is a good friend to have. I think a lot of the songs are about loss and loneliness and finding a way to comfort yourself when you’re feeling that way.

JK: Being from Minnesota, what is your favorite show you have seen in the First Avenue Mainroom?
SB: Poliça
and The Cactus Blossoms are tied.

Blog by Joely Kelzer (Marketing Intern)

GET TO KNOW: LOKI’S FOLLY

Ahead of Loki Folly’s performance at First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2019 in the First Avenue Mainroom on Saturday, January 25, we got to ask Annie (guitar, vocals) and Nissa (drums, vocals) a few questions. Read what they had to say below:

Joely Kelzer: Your bio mentions Lord of the Rings a couple of times, what is the significance of Lord of the Rings to you?
Loki’s Folly: We actually wrote this bio under the influences of sleep deprivation soon before our first show at First Avenue. However, Lord of The Rings does mean a lot to us as we have been watching it forever and we feel really connected to it.

JK: How did you meet each other? How did you decide to start collaborating on music?
LF: Nissa was born on April 3rd, and Annie went to the hospital to meet her baby sister. That is when we met and we’ve been best friends ever since. We both really like music and like sharing it together as sisters which makes it really fun to collaborate and feel like it’s not work. So I guess we decided to collaborate because it was more fun to play together than separately.

JK: Do you have a clear or specific memory related to falling in love with music, and knowing that it is something you would want to pursue yourself?
LF: Nissa can’t remember a time when she wasn’t hitting everything with sticks, even when she got in trouble for it. She was always going to play drums but never thought it would be in front of people. It took Annie a really long time to work up the nerve to play in front of people but as soon as she did, she felt like she found her home.

JK: What was the inspiration behind your breakout single, “The Love Song”?
LF: It is an emotional release in response to not being allowed or knowing how to confront a mean person who won’t leave you alone. We like to use our music for catharsis and support.

Blog by Joely Kelzer (Marketing Intern)

GET TO KNOW: NUR-D

Ahead of Nur-D’s performance at First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2019 in the First Avenue Mainroom on Saturday, January 25, we got to him a few questions. Read what he had to say below:

AQ Mohamud: Growing around Minneapolis, how does the city influence your music?
Nur-D: The city influences my music by its very nature. Sometimes, depending on the day or the street you can be in a different atmosphere which allows for different types of musical influences. Also, real talk, the fact that we have such extreme weather on either side of the spectrum will influence stuff. We get that deep, introspective, stuck inside in a blizzard type music and also that hot, party out on the lake, dance-type music too. Then you take how both hip-hop, Americana folk, and Rock & Roll have such interconnected roots here. It just leads to a different writing style that most other places don’t really have I think.

AQ: You’ve mentioned how you want to dismantle toxic masculinity through your music, what is the process to that?
Nur-D: Well if I could give you the foolproof 100 step plan to effectively dismantle toxic masculinity I would be a very rich dude! While I know the concept is pretty massive in scope for the purpose of this or any one interview I think a good way to start is for more male-identifying people to express their feelings of longing. I know that might sound weird but the fact that men have a need to be desired and want to be wanted is so often seen as weakness. The ability to embrace that part of yourself that wants to be seen, held, desired, cared for is not something that every man feels the safety to explore. So often because of that, they lash out in ways that are destructive for everyone in a society so often run by males. If my music can show that being vulnerable in your skin, being gentle, being teachable, and expressing complex emotion is ALSO a “manly” quality I think that helps us move in the right direction.

AQ: Favorite Netflix Original Show?
Nur-D: Oh dang you’re killing me with this one! There are so many good ones. I would say that it’s probably a good 3-way tie for me with Bojack Horseman, Big Mouth, and Black Mirror.

AQ: You love comic books and other stuff that use to be considered “nerdy.” How do you go about showing through your music that that genre is not nerdy at all, but fun and amazing?
Nur-D: See I think that comics, manga, D&D, all that stuff is still profoundly nerdy. I don’t think my music does anything to change the fact those are pretty nerdy things. But I would like to think that my music shows that’s totally awesome! You can be nerdy AND fun AND geeky AND sexy AND weird. Being odd is mainstream now. So I think it’s time to let our freak flag fly a little higher—plus it allows for people to see that you don’t have to be huddled in a dark basement to enjoy these things. You can be a nerd on a stage in front of a thousand people and it’s great.

AQ: Who deserved NBA Kia MVP in 2017? Russ or Harden?
Nur-D: Harden. The states are pretty clear that, overall, he was doing the most. The spots where Russ overtook him weren’t by so much that he should have lost out to him. But Russ is a great player and I can see how he took home the gold.

AQ: Here in Minneapolis, is it safe to say that at your live shows the majority of the audience is white? Assuming yes, how does that make you feel? 
Nur-D: I can say that the audience of shows that I book myself often look different then shows I find myself being booked on. 
As far as how I feel about shows where the audience is mostly white…most of my time in school was in Rosemount, MN a majority white town, in a majority white school district, with majority white classmates. Every theater, choir, football game, etc. was filled with a majority of white people paying to be entertained. It’s nothing new for me when I look to see a majority of white faces in a crowd. 
I could probably go on for a long time about all the different factors that make this happen. But to focus on one of the positives I can genuinely say that I am so happy that my music can bring peoples from multiple cultures together under the umbrella of shared interests and fun tunes.
When I look out and see all types of people woven together I kinda feel like I am doing my part to break down the barriers that so often keep us from growing as a society.

Blog by AQ Mohamud (Marketing Intern)

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