KCR One-On-One: Charlotte Sands

I had the absolute honor of sitting down with Charlotte Sands over Zoom to talk about her journey with music, “Dress” exploding on TikTok, moving on from your crappy ex and way more. You can watch the interview here, but you can also read it below.

I am so excited to have Charlotte Sands with me! First off, I just want to say congrats on the release of your EP, Special! It has seriously been one of the only things I’ve been listening to and it’s on a playlist I have called, “repeat.” But we’ll get more into that later.

CS : Thank you so much, I’m so glad you like it. That means so much to me.

Bangers. Been playing it on my radio show almost every single week. People are probably getting annoyed with me.

CS : Hey! They have to put up with it. Too bad. 

How did you start creating music?

CS : So I’ve been making music since I was really young. Luckily, I grew up with like two kind of creative parents. My dad was in rock bands when he was in his twenties in New York City, and that’s how him and my mom met. And she was doing theater and like all that kind of stuff, so I’ve been around artistic people, luckily. So when I was really young, I would basically just sit with my dad and learn how to play guitar and listen to him play and like always try to sing with him whenever he was doing stuff and learning how to record, all that kind of stuff. It was just kind of how we connected and bonded. I’ve just kind of done it since I was really young, I don’t remember not singing and not making music, even when it was so bad. I’ve been doing it for a really long time. It’s been like the only thing I’ve ever been good at, somewhat. 

Not me, I have no musical talent. I just said this in an interview recently, I did drum lessons and everything when I was little, but I just wanted to rock out. I didn’t want to learn the basics anymore, so I ended up quitting. 

CS : I totally get it. Drums were one of my first instruments I ever learned. And I loved it, but yeah, you got to stick with it! It’s hard.

Personally, I was raised on the Backstreet Boys on one side and then, I don’t know if you know, the Barenaked Ladies, but that was like the range of music I was raised on. And that definitely had a huge influence on my music taste. Do you think that the music you were raised on had an influence on your own personal style?

CS : Absolutely! I was just like you, in the sense of like, I was originally raised by my parents on Bonnie Raitt, Grace Potter, Cheryl Crow, all these really incredible women, female songwriters and musicians. Like Alison Krauss, all these super folky storytellers. So I originally found music and it was all that, all super acoustic stuff, all really really really high quality lyricism. Then, when I was in middle and high school, I found All Time Low, Mayday Parade and all these bands where I’m like, “Wait, this makes me want to break into a show and go see them,” which was like a complete different relationship, connection and energy I had towards music. It like went from me being like, “Ugh, this is beautiful and artistic” to being like, “Hell yeah, this is sick! I want to be front row at this show.” So, I think that 100% because of those two opposite genres, that have a lot of similarities and it’s still high quality lyrics on both sides. But for me, I was like how do I make a song that can be played on just a guitar and be as good as a song that is written by Bonnie Raitt or someone incredible, which I will never meet, I will never be able to be that good. That would be my goal. But then also be able to put on a show and make people feel the energy and the way that I felt when listening to those other bands that got me hyped up. Cause I’m a performer in the sense that I want to put on a show, I don’t want to sit in a chair. So I have been forever trying to find that weird middle ground of both those things. 

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Day

I think that’s why I like your music so much because it’s like exactly that. I think the first “emo” band I got into was Sleeping With Sirens.

CS : Oh my god, incredible, yes!

So I think that says a lot about me today. 

CS : Yes! That is a compliment!

So like I mentioned earlier, your EP Special just came out a little bit over a month ago. What was the experience writing and releasing your debut EP?

CS : Honestly, it was so crazy because I didn’t originally plan on releasing it as an EP. I just wanted to release it as all singular songs. Then, I kind of got this point on the last few songs where I realized that they all had a lot of similarities in the sense that I was talking about the same relationships and I was talking about the same experiences. It was kind of like almost every song felt like a different side of the same story to me. The happiness, and then the jealousy, and then the moving on, but then the not being over it. Every single song kind of felt like every phase that I went through during the last year of my life. So I decided that this is kind of a cool chapter to close and to move into a different narrative. It just felt really cool because it’s so different and I think all the songs are so different than each other. I think that genre is kind of dead, in the sense that I don’t ever want to be in one genre box, seeing as the fact that I want to release a folk album one day. I want to release a crazy metal album one day. I want to release a country album, like I want to be able to do all of that. I think that with me, I’m trying to release stuff that makes people see that I could be moving in any of those directions, not just like one thing, you know. So I’m excited about it. I’m really thrilled that it’s out in the world and it’s being received the way that it is because I’m glad that people connect with it. That’s the most important thing to me is that people feel represented and connection to it. 

I absolutely love it, and I agree. They all do sound different but they work very very well together.

CS :  Thank you so much. 

How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard your music before?

CS : Ugh, that’s so tough. I feel so weird always talking about what my genre is or what my sound is because I feel like if you say that you’re pop, automatically people think of tropical, top 40’s, like Ariana Grande pop. But then if I say, I don’t ever want to call myself punk because it’s almost disrespectful to actual punk music, you know. But I think that I’m a weird clash of 2000’s pop punk kind of stuff with also a little more classy folky lyricism, I guess. I think that’s what I’m trying to do at least, I don’t know if it’s working.

No, it’s working, it’s definitely working. 

CS : Ok, good! But I guess even in the live show aspect, it’s like a show with the energy of a pop punk band, but the songs are able to live in either a pop world or an alternative world. So I’m just trying to play all those fields. 

The song “Dress,” basically a stand against Candence Owens, can you explain the inspiration behind the song and how it came to be?

CS : Absolutely. Yeah, it’s a hilarious story. It basically all started even before everything with the Harry Styles Vogue cover. I was having a conversation with my best friend, Danen Reed, who is another one of the writers on it. Basically he produced every single song I’ve had out, he wrote “Special” with me and he’s also my drummer, he’s the best. Shoutout Danen Reed! Before that whole session, we were having a conversation because he was talking to me and was like “Charlotte, it’s so funny over the years how much your type has changed. You used to like these guys would like get into fights and had to like prove their masculinity and confidence to you. And now you like won’t date a guy if he doesn’t paint his nails.” It was like so funny because I didn’t even realize it at the time that my complete definition of confidence has changed so much over the last few years. And how I perceive someone as confident and how I feel confident, just the fact that I now see confidence as feeling free to dress however you want and be whoever you want to be and live your authentic life. Confidence to go against the norm is, I think, more attractive to me than just going with it, you know. It’s changed so much and it’s shifted, which I’m happy about. I’m really glad I’m not dating those same people. We were talking about that and then we went into the session and the whole magazine cover and the whole reaction of Candence Owens happened. We went into the session and I was just laughing because I was like, “I can’t believe this is still a conversation.” It’s like fabric, and she’s like up in arms saying that our civilization is going to be brought down because somebody decided to wear more fabric. Like it’s just so insane to me. Not to dull down the actual issues in our society that are there unfortanutely, but it seemed like such a stupid conversation. I was like, “Would you just mind your own business? And just let people live the way they want to live. It doesn’t affect anybody.” So we were kind of just talking about it, and then Danen was like, “Yeah, what if we’re just like talking about a guy wearing a dress? Like it’s like Harry Styles wearing a dress or like YungBlud or like any of these guys that are right now, currently in music going against the gender norms.” We wrote “Dress” and our whole goal was to make it as casual as possible, in a way that most people wouldn’t even grasp the fact that it was even about a guy for like a while into it. I was like I want people who disagree with the subject matter to like the song before they even realize what it’s about, that they’re forced to support it without understanding it. Trick them into agreeing with this because it seemed so normal, so casual, so conversational that they’ll be like, “Wait OK, it’s actually not that big of a deal.” You know? So that was kind of our goal, to make it such a fun, catchy song that even people who didn’t want to listen to it were like forced to listen to it. And then have to question their actual opinions and views because of it. That was my only goal and we had so much fun. It’s been such an insane reaction from people and it’s been really special because I think for the first time in my songs, people were able to get a part of my personality and who I am as a person and my views, instead of just me as an artist. It was like me as a human being, mixed with me as an artist. Being able to do that and show that is super rare in music and I think it’s super special. So I’m just really grateful that people cared and took me under their wing. 

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Day

So that song is actually how I found you on TikTok. [Dress] obviously blew up on TikTok and a lot came from that. Do you want to talk about that also a little bit?

CS : Absolutely. Yeah, that was such an incredible insane experience. It’s also just so funny because I was so new to TikTok when that happened. I was like one of the people who was pushing it off. I was like, “Please can we just pretend this is a phase and it’s gonna go away?” It’s not like something I’m going to have to create content for all the time because I just didn’t understand it at first. I didn’t have it and I was avoiding the whole platform. But, I had a conversation with my manager and she was like, “Charlotte, you just have to do it, you just have to make videos for it and put your music out there. Give people a chance to like it and feel represented. You deserve that and they deserve that.” It was this whole conversation where I basically just cried and was like, “I don’t want to make videos on an app. I don’t want to do this, I have so much stuff to do. This feels so stressful and irrelevant.” And then, I take it all back because the third or something video that I posted, a week after I was crying about it, ended up being just a teaser of that demo. Me not knowing how TikTok worked, not thinking anything was going to happen, all the sudden was at Thanksgiving with my Mom, looking at my phone like, “I wonder if like 500,000 views is a lot in an hour,” you know what I mean. I was sitting there like I don’t know what is happening, but it’s probably not a big deal because this stuff happens all the time, whatever. But it ended up being an insane experience because the coolest part was like, I’m 24, so I grew up where like if you put anything on the Internet, if you post any vulnerability, any songs of yours, anything like that, you get automatically bullied and rejected for it. It just never felt like a positive place for me, it always felt like a place you were being judged and you were being bullied or harassed in some sense. I’ve always kind of avoided doing that kind of stuff, and I think that’s why I was avoiding TikTok for a while. It was insane because there was like 14,000 comments on that video and I’ve liked and replied to like every single comment, and there’s not a single negative one. I’ve never experienced anything like that where there can be such a large group of people who are genuinely all spreading positivity and love towards each other and just supporting me, but also supporting this movement and this view. And just supporting authenticity and all these really really wonderful things. It was just so unexpected, I thought that maybe my mom would see it and my sister would be like, “Good job!” and that was it. It ended up being this incredible incredible thing that I was able to meet so many people and connect with so many people. We ended up releasing the song like a week later because we were just like whatever, we’ll just do it, you know, people are asking for it. It’s been crazy, it’s been the coolest thing ever. Like not being able to have shows as an artist where my favorite part of the whole entire music thing is performing, that’s been a really hard part of the year. So being able to have this kind of interaction, even though it’s on social media, actually being able to interact with new people, and meet new people and make friends and have this thing that connects us, has been the one thing saving me during this year and making me feel normal. Yeah, it’s been really incredible, I feel really lucky. 

TikTok is insane with artists blowing up like left and right on there. Which is awesome, it’s amazing that we have this platform now. It’s how I find a lot of my music recently as well. All the new artists I’ve been listening to, all TikTok. 

CS : Yep! And I know, it’s so funny how I’m like the complete opposite. I’m like I love it. I’ve met so many people. It’s the one app where I’ve realized people actually transfer over to other apps. People will find you on TikTok and actually go to your Instagram, actually go to my Spotify, actually go do all this work. And no other app, I just feel like people would leave it. Like they are actually looking to find connections, actually looking to find people they like and looking to find music they like, and support people and support each other. It’s just like a really wonderful community, at least my little bubble algorithm is. I know it’s crazy out there in the world, so still be safe, but for me, it’s been nothing but sunshine and rainbows. 

I only downloaded it because I wanted to watch my 16 year old sister’s TikToks because she has a lot of followers on there, so I just wanted to watch that. Then I got slowly sucked in and now I can’t stop watching TikToks. 

CS : Yeah, same. Me everyday.

What is your songwriting process normally like? Do you go in with just the lyrics first or a song idea? Or how does it all work?

CS : Honestly, it’s a little different each time. For me, all of my songs are from very specific things happening, every word in every song of mine is the truth. I feel like I’m not the kind of person who can just sing about stuff I don’t know, or sing about things I’m not experiencing or haven’t experienced. It doesn’t feel authentic to me in any sense. I feel like every single thing that I’ve written, it either comes from me having a drunken voice memo or something from the night before, or some sort of idea written down when I was just in a conversation or random things like that. I’ll just always kind of be writing, I can’t ever switch it off. Like I’ll be at a Whole Foods and someone will say something, and I’ll be like, “Oh my god, I have to record that!” It’s so weird and creepy. I do that a lot for song ideas. Honestly, a majority of the time I’ll go into a session and will try and build a track, try and produce just an idea of something of where we want the energy to go, if we want it to be upbeat or how we’re feeling in the room and if I’m in a good mood or a bad mood or whatever the vibe is. We’ll just try and build something and a lot of the time I just sing random stuff until something comes out that I like or that sounds good. It almost feels like my brain is subconsciously venting and its stuff I’m not even trying to be cool, it just is how I feel. That’s when I feel it’s the most vulnerable and most honest. Then we just roll with it. I’m just weird, I’ll just like sing random words in random melodies for however long and then just pick whatever things I like. Obviously I have co-writers and collaborators who do the same and help me weed through all of it. But yeah, that’s what we’ve been doing. Even the song “Special,” that the EP is named after, was like literally I was sitting in my car crying and a voice memo from that song is me being like, “Now you’re calling me up almost every single week.” And literally writing random stuff and the next day being like, “Oh my god this sounds so bad.” But then being like, “Maybe we can work with it a little bit and tweek it.” So I’ll just do random stuff like that.

I like that. Hey, if it works, it works

CS : Whatever works, you gotta do that. 

I need to ask about a lyric that literally just fits with the music perfectly, because I need to know how it came to be. In “Sweatshirt” you sing, “Woke up in the morning, you gave me something to wear home. Said it was your favorite from college in Colorado.” How did you get that to work so well? Because it is so catchy and just fits perfectly.

CS : That is so nice, thank you so much. Honestly, this sounds so weird, but when I grew up, my brother listened to a lot of rap music. The first time I ever started writing was honestly when I would just mess around with like kind of rap-y stuff. I would never say I could rap, because I can’t. But the lyricism of it, I was always so infatuated by the cleverness of rap music and rap lyrics and just how many syllables they would fit and rhymes and all that stuff. So I feel like I’ve always been the person who is like, we will fit as many rhymes and syllables and alliterations and everything into every sentence that I possibly can, which is sometimes way too much. I’m the kind of person where I need internal rhymes, I need rhymes all the time. It’s just how my brain works in the sense where I just think it’s one of the only things that I find kind of easy, just finding weird internal rhymes and be able to fit syllables and stuff like that. Sometimes it’s just way too much and I just need to kill it because I go overboard. That song was written so quickly. I actually had the idea for it. I had a Zoom session and I was with Megan Redmond, who wrote on that song with me, and someone else who ended up just not showing up to the Zoom session. And I was like, “Hey, Megan. This sounds like a really weird idea, but I realize that my whole entire closet, every single sweatshirt that’s in there is from a different ex. And I still wear them all the time because they fit really well, because I always wear XL sweatshirts. But I don’t want to get rid of them but I kinda feel weird that I’m holding onto them.” I was like, “Do you think that’s weird?” Then for like the next 15 minutes, we sat there and started writing that song, ended up coming back with Danen and getting another session in and figuring it out. But it fell out, it was one of those things where it just felt super natural. It was just, “gave me something to wear home.” 

It works so well, it really does. 

CS : Thank you so much. I always feel like I sound weird when I sing, like I’m in it and I’m doing, “Colorado.” 

I sing it the same way in my car, so I think everyone does.

CS : Oh my god, thank you. I’m glad you’re with me on that. 

Do you find it hard to be open and honest in your lyrics, knowing that the person in the situation that you wrote that song about, it’s going to be out in the open for not only that person, but everyone?

CS : Yeah, honestly, I go back and forth so much because for “Dream About You,” that song is literally the most descriptively honest song I’ve ever written I think. I mean, a lot of them are for different reasons. But that one specifically, that exact situation that I’m writing about was happening while I was writing that. Literally, not to give you too much information, but had just broken up with my ex, was kind of hanging out with this other person, woke up at their house and it was the first time I realized I didn’t feel guilty about it. That I kind of felt guilty because I didn’t feel guilty, you know what I mean. I was like I feel bad that I don’t feel bad about being here. I literally walked into the kitchen while he was sleeping, and recorded, “Laying in a bed with somebody else, hoping if my head’s on his chest it’ll keep my mind off you.” And that whole song, every detail in it is from that morning and that day. I went into a session later that day and we wrote that song. I didn’t put that out for an extra few months because I was so scared that my ex would hear it, which he would, and know that I was seeing someone else and that I was over him because the song is literally I don’t dream about you anymore. It really hurt my heart a lot to do that, but then I got to a point where I was like I think about the person who could potentially be going through the same thing at the same time. And the fact that them hearing the fact that I’m going through it at the same time, could help relieve any of that, and help them know that they’re not alone in those emotions in that moment. I was like that’s more important to me than his. Like, no offense, but me being able to be any sort of translator of emotions and make anybody feel a little less sad or lonely in any way, that’s my responsibility as a writer and as an artist and I owe that to them more than I do to my ex, or any guy. Sorry, but yeah that’s my priority and those are the people I want to affect. I feel like I’ve gotten to the point where if I am worried about hurting people’s feelings or doing any of that, then I’m not going to create the most honest art I possibly can. You kind of just have to let go of people’s expectations and judgement and comments, you know. You just have to completely let go and say, “This is what I’m doing. This is who I am. This is how I feel. My feelings are valid. You can disagree with them, but they’re still my feelings and I’m allowed to feel them and I’m allowed to write about them and be honest.” People deserve honesty, you know. Just kind of let it go and I definitely have a lot of hilarious phone calls and texts after every song I wrote gets released, consistently. There was one song where I had four people text me afterwards and ask if it was about them, which I’ll always say no because I want everyone to never think they’re important enough to write a song about just because they broke my heart. Like, no I would never! It’s always kind of scary, but you just gotta do it. You just gotta rip off the bandaid and just be yourself and let everything else go, you know. 

Good life lesson in general, not just about music, just in general. 

CS : Thank you, I’m here. 

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Day

I know it’s only April, but what has been your favorite releases this year besides your own music?

CS : Oh, that’s a great question. Honestly, anything All Time Low, they just released another song that’s so good. I feel like everything I’m about to say is technically last year. 

Last year, that’s where my brain’s at right now.

CS : I know. I honestly don’t even know where I am, or who I am, or what year it is. I’m still confused. But, I love the new Julia Michaels’ song that is like the, I wish all your exes were dead, one. I think that song is sick. She’s one of my favorite writers. Yeah, I don’t know. I listen to such old music that I feel like I’m always behind in the cool things. I would say those two. All Time Low and Julia Michaels.

I feel like I’m still in my emo phase. I feel like quarantine put me back in it, which isn’t bad because now I’m listening to all these bands that I listened to in middle school, all their new releases. Some of them are good, some of them are horrible.

CS : Absolutely. No, it’s so funny. We’re all going to come out of quarantine and see all the people we haven’t seen in so long and they’re gonna be like, “Why are you wearing black eyeliner?” And I’m going to be like, “I’ve been doing this for a year.”

I’m in public time, time to tone it down. 

CS : They’re like, “No, no, no, that was a phase.” It’s like, no mom! It was never a phase! 

Exactly, we’re going to be going through that again.

CS : She’s like, “Oh god here we go, I thought we were done with this Charlotte.”

Exactly! My sister, I think in the beginning of quarantine, she’s 16, she was like, “I’m so glad you’re not emo anymore.” 

CS : And now you’re like, “Uhhhh….”

She described me as her “emo sister” for like a very big chunk of time.

CS : Honestly, that’s a huge compliment.

I know! I was like, “Thank you!”

CS : Good! Run with it! I love it. 

Besides music, what else are you passionate about?

CS : That’s a great question. I always get asked about hobbies and stuff and I literally every time feel like I make stuff up because I feel like I don’t have any hobbies. I don’t know what it is. I know I should have hobbies because it’s probably not healthy to have all your eggs in one basket, in that sense. I love reading, I do love reading a lot. I feel like I only finish ¾ of every book, which is a problem. I always finish ¾ of a book, but then recommend them to everybody as if I finished them. I’m so weird. I’m passionate about animals. I’m fostering a dog right now. That’s been more than a hobby for me, it’s like taking up so much more time and energy than I was expecting. But he is so cute, he’s like a little pitbull puppy and he’s ruining my life, but I love him so much. If anyone’s looking to adopt a dog, let me know! But yeah, I don’t know. I need to go find hobbies because every single time I’m like, I don’t know. But overall, as a person, I would say I’m passionate about women, equality, you know. I’m passionate about people feeling respected and supported. Positivity. There we go, that’s my slogan now. 

Put that on new merch, just that. 

CS : Women! Equality! Energy! They’re like, “What is she talking about?”

I’d buy it! 

CS : I would buy that shirt, for sure. 

What do you hope people take away from listening to your music?

CS : I hope that people feel like our differences and what makes us different are celebrated. I think I hope that people know that nobody’s normal, like there is no normal. And that we should be celebrating the things that make us weird and we should be celebrating our fact that we’re able to be emotional people and we’re able to be rollercoasters of emotions. And that that’s really normal and it’s not weird. Just the concept of that like perfect as a person and as a life, just like doesn’t exist and there’s different levels of that we should be reaching for instead of just like one whole idea. I just want people to feel really safe and protected and respected and represented and know that they at least have one person out there that cares about them. And I think that probably doesn’t get through on maybe a lot of the songs that are just about shitty relationships, but that’s my goal, at least for the future, is to create more music that just makes people feel loved in some sense and makes them want to celebrate and be happy and you know, be around each other and spread positivity in every aspect. Yeah, I think the biggest thing is that I grew up listening to music, I was listening to 2000s pop punk music. The reason I loved it so much was because it made me feel like I had a group of people out there that listen to the same music, that we’re just as weird as me, just as misunderstood as me and didn’t fit in in the ways that I didn’t as well. It gave me hope that one day I would be able to find that tribe of people. So I hope that people listen to music and know that they also have a tribe and they also have a group of people out there that feel the same way that they do, and so do I. I’m pack leader, I got you guys. You’re not alone in your issues and in your problems and in your life. As long as people feel that way, that’s all I care about. 

I definitely, definitely think your music does that, at least for me. Can’t speak for everyone!

CS : That makes me so happy.

Is there anything else you want to add? Where can people find you and your music?

CS : All I would like to add is, hang in there. It’s been a really tough year, but we’re going to be back to live music soon. We already have tours and stuff that we’re talking about that I’m really excited about. And it’s all going to be okay, so just hang in there and like be happy. You know, give yourself a little love and an extra squeeze today because you deserve it. Did you say where can they find my music? Everywhere. You can find it on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, Tidal, YouTube, wherever. We now have two music videos up right now on YouTube as well. I’m super excited because one is in the back of a Uhaul, so go check that out, if you want to! 

Well, thank you so much for taking the time to sit and talk with me today!

CS : Oh my god, of course. Thank you for letting me! It’s honestly a privilege. I’m glad that you care about me! 

Of course!  

Cover Photo: Charlotte Sands by Jacqueline Day

Written By: McCaeley O’Rourke

Interview with Black Lips’ Jared Swilley

Black Lips’ Jared Swilley discusses covering the Beatles, the importance of music videos and radio for connecting with fans, and the band’s upcoming venture into country music.

Atlanta‘s Black Lips have proven to be a resilient force in the tumultuous and challenging world that is today’s music industry. Despite numerous changes to their lineup, the band is known for seemingly endless tours which established their reputation for rowdy live shows (including a 2012 tour of the Middle East). Meanwhile, production on their own records with assistance from big-name producers such as Mark Ronson and Patrick Carney from the Black Keys haven’t managed to slow down a band that’s been in the garage rock scene since 1999.  After 8 full-length studio records, a live record recorded in Tijuana, various side projects (The Almighty DefendersThe Gartrells, and Crush, to name a few), and the creation of a new genre dubbed “flower punk,” the band’s legacy and influence upon younger musicians is undeniable.

Now, almost twenty years since their inception, Black Lips seems like a completely different beast. Only two founding members remain (bassist Jared Swilley and guitarist Cole Alexander), the wildness of their live shows has been toned down considerably, and the band has now set their sights on releasing their interpretation of a country album. Despite the group’s departure from the violence and rebellion of their younger days, the punk ethos which Black Lips was founded upon still shines through in their work.

KCR’s Andrea Renney recently spoke with vocalist and bassist Jared Swilley in advance of their November 13th show at the House of Blues San Diego. The following interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

KCR: So your next tour starts next month. I was kind of surprised to hear that you were co-headlining with [Danish punk band] Iceage, since Iceage isn’t really a band that I would associate with Black Lips. How did that come about?

J: Well, we’ve known each other for a long time, and we have some mutual friends. We had met them in Denmark before. They were going out on tour around the same time as us and I like them a bunch. I kinda like going on tour with bands that are a little different; it just changes things up. We don’t really have the same sound at all, but I think they have a really great live show. Every band that we end up going on tour with is just from us hanging out and talking and saying “Oh yeah, we should tour sometime.”

KCR: I guess Kesha’s a good example of that; not someone that you would necessarily expect [Black Lips to tour with]. But I do think that there is a certain similarity there. I know Kesha has her roots in Nashville, and she is, despite being so pop, kind of rock and roll. It was something that was surprising, but at the same time, it made sense.

J: Yeah, she has really good taste in music. I was surprised when I first met her years ago; we started talking about music and I just thought she was this pop star or whatever. But she was really into Dead Moon and all these bands that I like… We’ve been on tour with bigger bands that are rock bands, and we’ve gotten heckled by their fans. Their fans didn’t really like us. But with Kesha, it’s all really young kids that are really stoked to be there. They’re just there to have a good time.

KCR: I think Black Lips are the perfect band for Kesha’s fans. Like you said, they’re just there to have a good time.

J: Yeah, they were all real sweet.

KCR: It’s been over a year since Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? came out, so I’m not gonna ask a bunch of questions about that. I feel like you’ve already discussed that record at length. But I do have one question — I wanted to know about your cover of “It Won’t Be Long” [by the Beatles] and how that kind of came about? Did Sean Lennon [music producer and John Lennon’s son] approach you guys with doing a cover, and was it that one specifically?

J: I never would have been like, “Hey, can we cover one of your dad’s songs?” but he really wanted us to do that. When we were playing it at the studio we were doing it exactly like they did it, but obviously they do it a ton better, and ours just sounded like a carbon copy of it. So we kind of started messing around with trying to make it sound like an evil version of it. I would never in a million years have thought to bring that up or try to do that, but [Sean] did a lot of the arrangement. We didn’t try to do a Beatles copy, we just did a sinister version of it. I was happy with it. And Yoko gave us the blessing to do it so that was real cool to hear her say “Yeah, you should do a Beatles song.”

KCR: Yeah, absolutely. What an honor, really.

J: Yeah, that was pretty cool. Overall, it was pretty surreal. But it was awesome.

KCR: On the topic of records: Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? came out last year, and now all I’ve really heard is about your forthcoming new country record. I haven’t heard too many details, but is that still the plan?

J: Yeah, yeah. The whole thing’s written and we’ve already done a couple songs. We did a session in Berlin this summer with King Khan [of King Khan and the Shrines, The King Khan & BBQ Show, and other projects], and we did another one at Oakley [Munson, the current drummer for Black Lips]’s house. But yeah, the whole thing is written. We’ve got tons of songs, and we’re just right in the middle of finding what label’s gonna put it out and what studio we’re gonna go to. But it’s definitely gonna be out by spring next year.

It’s not, like, serious country. It’s definitely all country influenced, but it’s kind of our take on country. It’s different, but we’ve always been into kind of twangy, southern style stuff. For this one, we’re more focusing on that. There’s not gonna be synthesizers on it or anything.

KCR: I know that some people were surprised about the whole country record thing, but I feel like on every record you’ve ever done, there’s always at least one song that’s pretty obviously influenced by country. On the last record, “Rebel Intuition” – that’s pretty country. And songs like “Workin’’’ [from 2005’s Let It Bloom] and “Drive By Buddy” [from 2014’s Underneath the Rainbow] – definitely. So to me, it seemed pretty natural. But what made you decide that now was the time to do this one?

J: I guess just because we’ve done so many garage rock records and stuff like that. We just kept talking about it, like, “Yeah, let’s do a country record.” It kind of worked out real good with having Jeff [Clarke, also of Demon’s Claws] in the band, because he’s great at writing songs like that. He’s really good at playing those kind of things. So it just felt like a natural thing for us to try out. Kind of like us doing our “mature” country record. But it’s not all that mature.

KCR: Growing up and becoming country stars.

J: It’s easy to age gracefully in country music.

KCR: Definitely. While we’re on the topic of changing sounds: you’re still in Atlanta as far as I know, but Cole and Zumi [Rosow, saxophonist] are in LA, and you said Jeff’s from Alberta, while Oakley’s in New York?

J: Yeah, he’s in the Catskills. And Jeff’s been in Germany for the past couple years, but I guess he’s kinda living at my house in Atalnta. But yeah, everyone’s scattered all over now.

KCR: Do you think that spreading out has been helpful for changing your sound and keeping things fresh? Or does it make it difficult to reconcile all those different perspectives?

J: No, it kind of didn’t change anything… I mean, Cole still has a house here so he’s back a lot to visit his family. But we never really practiced before, like at all, unless we were just about to go in the studio or had new stuff to work on. So really, I haven’t noticed that much of a change. I guess we’re usually in Atlanta before a tour, and then we leave from there. But as far as music scenes, I’m not really all that involved in the Atlanta music scene at all. I don’t go out too much when I’m not on tour. I know Cole and Zumi are pretty involved in the LA scene and stuff like that, but not me.

KCR: Just working on your own stuff?

J: Yeah, I’m mostly a homebody when I’m at home.

KCR: I think that’s pretty typical for people who are on tour as often as you guys are.

J: Yeah, going out’s like… I do that for a big part of the year. So when I’m at home, I hang out with family a lot, friends.

KCR: So, I’ve always loved your music videos that you guys put out. Most recently I loved the one for “Crystal Night;” About music videos though: obviously music television isn’t really a thing anymore. So why do you guys still continue to release videos? Do you think it’s just an artistic expression, and do you still want to keep putting out videos like that?

J: I still like watching videos. If we’re in hotel rooms and stuff, I’ll watch the music video channel. Even in Europe, where I don’t like any of the music, I like music videos. And I like making them. We always direct our own videos. I mean, there’ll be directors, but I did the treatment and everything for “Crystal Night.” And the other one we did was “Can’t Hold On,” and Cole did that treatment. It’s just fun. I enjoy the video aspect thing. It’s harder and harder to get money for that stuff nowadays, because there is no MTV. But we’ve been lucky with Vice [Records], because they have resources to let us do that. And sometimes, like, I think we had Ray-Ban help fund a video for us. But yeah, if we can find the money for it, it’s just a neat little tool to have.

KCR: And I think fans appreciate it too. It’s interesting to see what the artist interprets as the visual side of their music.

J: Yeah, me too.

KCR: I know I mentioned this earlier, but I’m calling from KCR College Radio. It’s the college radio station for San Diego State University, and I think that it’s such a cool thing that we have. So I just wanted to know – obviously music streaming services have kind of become the primary way for consuming music, especially for young people. Do you think that radio is still an important resource for getting your music out to a new audience, even your current audience, and reaching new fans?

J: Yeah, I think it’s still really important and a good thing. In Atlanta we only have half of a college station now – it only becomes music after 7 or 8 now. During the day NPR bought it. And we lost our cool AM station, so that kinda sucks. But there’s still KEXP and KCRW and WFMU. I mean, I still listen [to radio]. I don’t stream music, but I guess I could figure it out. I’ve just never done it. I just pretty much listen to WFMU out of New Jersey because they have everything up on their site. I mean, it’s important for me, but I’m 35 years old, so obviously the kids are listening to something else. College radio was a big thing, especially growing up. I never went to college, but me and Cole had our own radio show, and it’s actually still going on.

KCR: Really?

J: Yeah. We started it fifteen or sixteen years ago, and there’s still students doing it with our same format. So that was always awesome for me – I got my own radio show and I didn’t even go to the school. I was really proud of that. So I think that’s still real important and I think that it makes a big difference. Because people are loyal to their local stations, which is now usually almost always college stations.

KCR: I just joined it this semester, in September. And it’s actually kind of crazy how well-regarded it is. In the major newspaper here, it won best station in San Diego, even against the commercial stations. Like, this college radio station did. So it’s pretty clear that people really do appreciate college stations and even radio in general.

J: Yeah, I love the format. And I think it’s good for record sales and promotion and things like that.

KCR: I did an interview last week with Zac [Carper] from FIDLAR, and I asked him the same question. We were talking about how the cool thing about radio is the curated aspect of it. How you don’t really get that with streaming, or with just finding music on your own.

J: Yeah, you don’t get that at all with streaming, really. I guess you can do the algorithm thing.

KCR: Yeah, but it’s not the same. You know, you can look ahead and see what all the songs are. It loses that aspect of wondering what the next song is gonna be.

J: Yeah. I got into so much music when I was a kid that really turned me on. When I was in middle school and high school, there was this show called “In the Aquarian Age” on 88.5, which is the Georgia State station. At that’s how I got into so much cool, weird, old ‘60s music, through that.

KCR: I think radio’s good for stuff like that, a genre or a time period that you’ve never listened to before. It’s hard to just jump into that. So radio’s great for guiding you and guiding your taste.

J: Yeah, you definitely don’t get that on streaming.

Catch the Black Lips at the House of Blues on November 13th on their co-headlining tour with Iceage, supported by Brooklyn’s Surfbort.

Written by: Andrea Renney
Photo courtesy of: Grimy Goods

Interview with FIDLAR’s Zac Carper

FIDLAR is Zac Carper, Max Kuehn, Elvis Kuehn, and Brandon Schwartzel

FIDLAR’s Zac Carper talks new music, the benefits of college radio, and getting recognition as more than just a “party punk” band

Los Angeles punk rock band FIDLAR is well known for their songs about beer, skateboarding, and drugs. Their live shows are loud and raucous affairs, a place for kids to work out their aggression and energy in the mosh pit (including the band’s famous “girls only” mosh pits). However, despite the hard-partying image they’ve cultivated (the meaning behind their name’s acronym, “Fuck It Dog, Life’s a Risk” is a skater’s version of Nike’s “Just Do It”), the members of FIDLAR are not the slackers many make them out to be. The band has released two records (2013’s FIDLAR and 2015’s Too) amidst years of constant touring, while their third record, Almost Free, is slated for release in early 2019. On top of all this, they’ve managed to keep the same original members, while facing personal issues such as drug addiction and death. The fun-loving, party band reputation may not be entirely undeserved, but their work ethic and dedication to sticking together is something that ought to be admired.

KCR’s Andrea Renney recently spoke with lead singer and guitarist Zac Carper in advance of their October 18th show at the North Park Observatory. The following interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

KCR: So you just finished the first leg of your fall tour at the end of September, over on the East Coast. Then you’re about to start the second leg on Thursday [October 18th] here in San Diego at the Observatory. How was the first leg of the tour, and how was the response to your new music?

Zac: It was super fun. We tour a lot, you know. We haven’t toured America in a long time. We were doing Europe for a little bit and I just forgot how fun it is to play in America, you know what I mean? Especially bigger cities like Chicago, New York, Philly. And the band that we took on tour was super fun, this band called NOBRO. They were awesome. And this band called Dilly Dally. So it was just a good time, good vibes, and everybody was getting along.

KCR: Awesome. Dilly Dally’s coming on the second leg too, right?

Z: Yeah.

KCR: And what was the other band that you mentioned?

Z: NOBRO. N-O-B-R-O.

KCR: Okay, cool. Are they gonna be on the second leg?

Z: No, they’re from Montreal. We were doing the East Coast, which is closer to them, so it would be easier for them. And then for the West Coast we’re taking this band called The Side Eyes.

KCR: Right.

Z: But NOBRO is this all female punk band from Montreal. They were hilarious, they were awesome.

KCR: Oh sick, that’s really cool. I’m actually from Canada myself, but I’m from Vancouver, so the other side.

Z: Ah, other side, other side.

KCR: Yeah, west side. So other than that, you’ve been releasing some new music throughout 2018. I know “Alcohol” came out earlier this year, followed by “Too Real”. Now “Can’t You See” just came out last week, and you’ve got your new album [Almost Free] coming out in January, is that correct? Next year?

Z: Yeah.

KCR: So, I mean, it’s been three years since Too came out. Has this album kind of been in the works for that entire time?

Z: Unfortunately, yeah (laughs). It just takes a long time now, man. You know, I always say the shitty part about DIY is you have to do it yourself.

KCR: Yeah, I feel it.

Z: And that’s kind of the reality of it. We’re not on a major label, we don’t have those kind of budgets to rent out fancy studios and go work. Like, for us to pay our rent and for us to sustain a living, we have to be on the road constantly, you know?

KCR: Definitely.

Z: And being on the road is kind of like a different shift of the brain. You have to focus on the road. Sometimes I’ll write on the road. Like that song “Alcohol”: it took a while to write that song. I think I wrote some of the vocal melodies and lyrics in Australia, so it’s kind of like piecing things together. It’s just a different way of doing things nowadays. And on top of that, when Too came out, the first year we toured we did something like 32 flights, and 12 of them were in Europe. In one year. You know, it’s just a lot. It’s a different thing. And this was before we were really doing things comfortably. We were still touring in vans every now and then and just going for it.  So we didn’t have the comfort of having a bus and being able to play guitar on it. We were just stuck in this van.

KCR: I get that. Coming off of tour and then going back to the studio and back and forth for years, I can imagine that it would be hard to sort of switch between those two ways of living. It makes sense that an album would take a bit longer when you’re having to go on tour all the time.

Z: Yeah. And we wanted to change it up, too, you know what I mean? I feel like sometimes time just makes you change things up, you know?

KCR: Oh, absolutely. Moving on, would you say the new album is going to be quite different, to the point where people are going to notice it?

Z: I think so. We’ve only had two records out, but those two records are pretty different from each other.

KCR: Yeah, I would agree.

Z: I mean, that’s kinda the whole point for us. We don’t wanna stick with one thing too much, you know?

KCR: No, definitely. I feel like that’s pretty common, not even related to music. Everyone changes, it’s a way of life. And kind of as an example, I know that you produced The Frights’ last two records. Those two records are very different. So there’s another band that’s very much reinventing themselves and always changing.

Z: Yeah. I think for fans of music, there’s two sides: where they don’t want the band to change, but then people also get mad when the band doesn’t change. Because then it’s just the same thing over and over again. And there’s no winning in that scenario. That’s something that I’ve had a conversation with Mikey [Carnevale] from The Frights about. Like, you can’t think about that shit because then you’re not writing music for you anymore, you know what I mean? You’re just trying to please an audience, and that just doesn’t last long.

KCR: Yeah, absolutely. Then the music probably isn’t gonna turn out that well and it’s really not genuine if you’re just trying to please people. You just can’t win. I’ve definitely felt that before with bands and I feel bad about it but, you know, sometimes you just form a bond with a record and then the next one’s different, and then you’re kinda sad. But you have to be happy for the band.

Z: I know (laughs). I’ve done that since I was a kid. I remember when Modest Mouse came out and I was like, “This is the best!” Then another record came out and I was just like, “I can’t do it anymore”, you know? But I still support them. You know what I do? I go back and listen to the record that changed my life. And that’s the thing that I present to people that call us out for changing. It’s like, what are you guys complaining about? Just go listen to the record you like!

KCR: Right? It’s still there!

Z: Yeah. It’s basically free on Spotify, go for it!

KCR: You don’t even have to pay for it, we’re not even getting money!

Z:  What else do you want from us, man? Like, what do you want… It’s just funny.

KCR: I agree. So I read that you worked with Ricky Reed to produce this new record, is that correct?

Z: Yeah.

KCR: Who, as far as I know, is known more for producing kind of pop-oriented stuff. How was that experience, and what do you think he brought to the table regarding the sound of your new record?

Z: It was extremely weird because when I met with Ricky, I didn’t know he wanted to do a FIDLAR record. I do some writing sessions on the side, so I thought that he wanted me to work on some pop stuff. I was like, “What am I doing here?” and he was like, “Oh, I wanna work on a FIDLAR record,” and I’m like “Why?” (laughs).

KCR: So he approached you?

Z: Yeah. And he’s just one of the most talented people I’ve ever met. The way he works is just so unique. The past year I’ve produced a couple bands, so I know how to record and I know how to do the production aspect, and he was willing to just use the demos that me and Elvis have been creating, and then build on top of that. So it was just a different way of working, a different style. He taught us that there are no rules in this thing, you know? Like, most of the stuff I wrote was on my laptop. I got into drum machines and stuff like that, and he was like, “Yeah, why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you try that stuff?” It doesn’t always have to be guitar and bass and drums and vocals. Let’s get weird, let’s try stuff. We even got into adding horns to songs.

I know people label him as a pop producer but I think he’s just one of the most brilliant producers in general. And he’s the most fuckin’ punk rock dude I know, man. He’s the most humble person ever. There are a lot of producers in LA, you know, and a lot of them are pretty sleazy and flashy. They all drive fancy cars and are just kinda weird. That motherfucker’s driving a fucking beat up Prius that he still has, lives in a super modest house, has an amazing family. The way that he does everything, I was like, I really respect this guy and I feel like we can get on a level, you know? And when we started hanging out, literally all we were doing was cracking each other up. And that was kinda the point. All the other people that I’ve worked with, everything was so serious. I’m like, I don’t think you guys are getting what FIDLAR is. FIDLAR has always had that humor to it, that we have to keep because I don’t wanna take this shit too seriously. We do take it seriously, but… I’m not fuckin’ Tom Yorke here, I’m not trying to fucking reinvent the fucking wheel, you know what I’m saying?

KCR: Yeah, you can take things seriously but also still have fun and not take yourself too seriously in the process. To me, that’s the perfect way to be.

Z: Yeah, so that’s why me and Ricky got along really well. Presenting him to the band, they were all like, “Ah, he’s a pop producer, how is this gonna work?” But then once they met him they were like, “Oh my god, this is awesome.” It was a cool thing, it was very unique.

KCR: It sounds like it ended up being a perfect match.

Z: Yeah. And even with our second record, the producer we used was a pop/country producer, so it’s kinda always been a weird FIDLAR fashion to be like, okay, maybe with the last couple producers, it made the most sense to use that guy. But then at the same time, we’re already a punk rock band, you know what I mean? What if we offset it with something different? And something cool would come out of that.

KCR: Exactly. And, again, you don’t want to just keep making the same stuff. You should be trying new things and seeing what comes with it – why not?

Z: Yeah. See, you get it (laughs).

KCR: Yeah, I think I get it. On the topic of FIDLAR always being kind of humorous, the song “Too Real” seems pretty serious to me, pretty political.

Z: Yeah, I know. People in interviews, they’ve been asking me questions about that song a lot. The thing about it is it’s not choosing one side or the other. It’s not talking shit on one side or the other, it’s literally just saying what I hear going on. All this input that’s been happening over the past couple years, whether it be politics or social media or the left and the right movement, I’m just kind of writing lyrics that point those things out. It’s not like I’m taking a side or anything. It’s just like “Yo, you guys, you all sound fucking ridiculous”. That’s what this is. And that’s me included, you know what I mean? We’re all fucked up.

KCR: No, absolutely. And I think that comes through pretty explicitly that this isn’t some right-side bashing song. It’s commentary on the state of the world.

Z: Exactly.

KCR: Was there a specific incident where you thought, “This is messed up, I need to write this song,” or was it more of a general response to the government and our society focused on things like social media and always being politically correct?

Z: You know what, I don’t really quite remember what it was. I do know that I made the music of it, like the beat and the track of it, after doing a session with these guys called GTA. They’re an EDM duo. And I was blown away by how they work, how they use their laptops. Their laptop is like their guitar, you know? I was like, I wanna learn how to do this stuff, so I went to my studio and just made this beat, and that’s what that whole track is basically. Then I think I just let it sit for a while and then I had to lay down lyrics for it, and… I think I was probably fighting with my girlfriend at the time or something (laughs).

KCR: It’s funny that it kind of stemmed from that EDM group, since you have that line in the song pretending that EDM never happened.

Z: I was talking to them about EDM, and they’re like a huge EDM band, you know? And they were saying musicians and bands don’t treat them like they’re musicians. I totally understood that, and I felt that when FIDLAR started. I felt like people weren’t treating us like musicians because we would just get drunk and play three chords and yell. So “let’s pretend that EDM didn’t happen at all” is not a bash on EDM, it’s like a bash on-

KCR: The people saying that EDM isn’t music?

Z: Yeah, exactly. It’s the old people, I call them “rockets”, as in they only like rock music or a certain thing. But that’s the whole point, like “let’s pretend that EDM didn’t happen at all” –  that song is basically an EDM track (laughs). I used the fucking kick sample, the drum pack – all the samples are from an EDM pack. So that was kinda the joke about it, but I don’t think people got it. I think they just think I’m talking shit on EDM.

KCR: Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Z: Yeah, yeah.

KCR: Well I’m glad I know that now. Anyways, let’s move onto some trivia. On the topic of a song like “Too Real”, where it’s a bit more serious, you’ve said yourself that other musicians wouldn’t really view you as musicians. You’re just getting drunk, a “party band.” But “Too Real” is a great example of a serious song, while even something like “Stupid Decisions” is pretty personal. Do you think that FIDLAR is misunderstood in their reputation as a party band, and is it something you’d like to change? Or are you kinda just okay with that?

Z: I mean…look. Half of it’s our fault, writing songs called “Cheap Beer” and “Wake Bake Skate” and “Cocaine”, you know what I mean? Like, okay, I get it, we get it. Half of it’s our fault. And maybe it’s the name of the band, or our whole image or whatever – the goofiness of it – and for us in the media we really try to go for this party punk band, slacker punks, burnouts, that whole thing, you know?

The reality is, we wouldn’t be where we are if we were slackers or burnouts. We work really hard at what we do. Elvis [Kuehn] and Max [Kuehn] have been playing music since they were so young. I believe Elvis is a once in a lifetime musician, you know. He’s one of those savant dudes. He plays piano, he plays every instrument so well. So I feel like we do get discredited a lot for being musicians. A lot of people have labeled us as this party punk band, but we work really fucking hard at what we do, and we’re constantly working.

KCR: That must be tough. Obviously the music’s gonna get whatever label it’s gonna get, but it’s still unfortunate that you then get that sort of reputation. Like, “Oh, they’re just slackers,” or whatever. But you’ve released two records, kind of on your own. Obviously you’re working hard – this stuff doesn’t just happen.

Z: Yeah. And all while dealing with life shit. That’s the other thing that people don’t realize: we’ve been a band for almost ten years now. And it’s been the same members, the exact same members the entire time.

KCR: Yeah, that’s rare. When does that happen?

Z: That’s fucking RARE, dude. When does that happen, exactly. And it’s like, we have to deal with life shit. I got hooked on heroin, Elvis is going through some shit, Brandon [Schwartzel] is going through some shit, Max goes through some shit. We have to deal with life shit and we’ve had to learn how to talk to each other, and how to settle our differences and build our bond stronger. It just doesn’t really fucking happen that much. Musicians like to blow things up, like “Fuck this, I’m outta here.” But nah, that’s the easy way.

KCR: Yeah. The fact that you didn’t even break up given a serious addiction, and that you’ve remained the same members – I don’t know, I think you should get some recognition for that.

Z: Yeah, it’s been a lot harder than people think it is. And I think the press and media and stuff like to label us as “These guys just like to smoke weed and go to the studio and make music.” And, like, yeah… but we do it smart.

KCR: Yeah, you’re like “We’re doing that, but look at what we’re producing.”

Z: Yeah. We’re doing that every day and working hard at it, that’s what we’re doing.

KCR: Exactly. Everyone does different things, but at least you’re working hard at it. So just last week, “Can’t You See” came out. Can you tell me what it’s about? I was kinda getting the vibe that it was about the superficial side of the world in general, but maybe more specifically Los Angeles these days, with the whole “gluten free” thing and “meditating” and “getting rich quick”.

Z: Yeah, totally. It’s totally about that. To me, that song is like that dude at the party that’s just coked out of his mind. Maybe he’s a musician, or maybe he “makes beats”. He’s a producer or something like that. He’s showing you his band through his iPhone speaker. Like, “Listen to this, isn’t this cool?” And you’re just like, “Fuck, I feel like I’m trapped in a cage right now.” That’s kinda what we were channeling with that song.

That song wouldn’t have happened without Ricky though. Elvis had that riff and he had the verse to it, and in FIDLAR fashion we would’ve made it super loud and grungy. But then Ricky was just like, “Let’s do a song that’s just mellow.” And we were like, “Whoa, we’ve never done that before.” So we tried and we just had so much fun doing it. And we learned something in that process, that it’s actually harder to play quieter. Because you have to lock into the groove more. It’s easy to just turn shit up and strum hard.

KCR: Yeah, absolutely. And if you’re quiet or slower, people might notice mistakes more, whereas when you’re just playing loud and fast, your attitudes shifts into “Whatever, just do it.”

Z: Exactly, exactly.

KCR: That’s awesome. So I have one final question, and it’s related to radio. FIDLAR was somewhat recently added to KROQ’s regular rotation, which is really cool. Congratulations.

Z: Thank you.

KCR: You’re welcome. With music streaming services being the primary method of music consumption these days, do you think that radio is still a really important service for reaching new fans and getting your music out there?

Z: Yeah, I do. I really do. Not everybody can look on YouTube, you know what I mean? I come from a place where the only radio station was college radio, and that was literally where I found all my music. On Sundays, on this radio station, these guys had this three hour block and they played everything from Wu-Tang to Beastie Boys, whatever. They just played whatever and that’s how I learned about music, to be honest. Not everybody has the internet. Most people do, and a lot of people have smartphones and things like that. But I just think there’s something to be said about curated music instead of just having a whole library of shit to get lost in, you know what I mean? Because then you’re just like, “What do I listen to?” Having a DJ or specific songs picked out, I think that’s such a unique perspective.

KCR: Absolutely. And I know you can get curated playlists, but it’s not really the same. You don’t get that personal touch, but you also don’t get the commentary on the songs. That’s why I like listening to radio, for the curated aspect of it.

Z: Yeah, and with radio you don’t get to know what the next song is. I think that’s the joy of the radio thing for me, you’re just like “Oh, what’s gonna be next?” you know? It’s not a fucking list.

FIDLAR’s third full-length record, Almost Free, drops on January 25th via Mom + Pop Music. Listen to their newest single, “Can’t You See”, here.

Written By: Andrea Renney

Getting to know Chelsey Magaoay

Chelsey Magaoay Blaire is a studio art major in her third year at SDSU. In her spare time, she likes to take her Corgi on walks and watch Netflix. Chelsey grew up in Grass Valley, California, where nature, and boredom, were very present. To entertain herself, she did crafts such as playing with yarn and coloring in coloring-books. However, unlike the average kid who simply colored the pictures, Chelsey would add to the backgrounds. Her parents noticed this, and began to buy her sketch books. Since then, Chelsey’s love for drawing and painting has only grown.

Now, Chelsey focuses on portraits and abstract work that involves nature. Nature, along with personal experiences, inspire Chelsey’s artwork. When I asked her what art means to her, she answered, “Art is an escape.” It was an escape then, and it still is now.

Chelsey then shared her favorite pieces that she’s created.

Photo provided by Chelsey Magaoay.

The first piece she chose is from her “Fantasy” project. “Fantasy” is her most recent painting, and was done in her Realm Life drawing class. She said that this class helped her figure out what direction she wants to take in the future.

Photo provided by Chelsey Magaoay.

This is an embroidery piece she made last semester called, “These Hands.” It is an identity piece, as she used to play with yarn as a kid, and a representation of many ideas tangled together.

Photo provided by Chelsey Magaoay.

The last piece Chelsey chose is “Self.” She created this last semester in her digital photography class. “‘Self’ is a representation of everything I comprehend…I’ve learned about being comfortable in my own skin, and I try to reflect some of that confidence in my art work.”

After she graduates, Chelsey hopes to curate her own touring gallery with a team of different artists. She believes that working in a team is part of the experience and helps you learn.

Featured image provided by Chelsey Magaoay.