Soleima at Music Box

Denmark-based artist Soleima played an unforgettable performance at Music Box on Tuesday, February 25 to a sold out crowd.

I had the opportunity to head into the venue before the show and got to talk to Sarah, the singer of Soleima, about her music and what is coming up for her this year. Before the interview, I watched the soundcheck in an empty Music Box. This was like my own personal Soleima show, and it was such a cool experience. I got to hear two songs that she would later perform live.

What got you into creating music?

So I actually always have been around music. My family did music and I went to this music kind of high school. In this high school, some kids and I started a band together. It was a 7-piece hip hop band, actually. We must have been around 13 or something; it was me and 6 boys. In the beginning, obviously, it was for fun, but then we actually got a label deal in Denmark. We started doing it a bit, like not professionally, we never lifted from it. We earned money on it and we toured a lot in Denmark. So that was how I started to see it as just a bit more than a hobby. Then after that, I did a lot of other things. I have a bachelor in Anthropology and I did that for a while. Then, I was writing songs together with my friend actually. We wanted to be top liners, we wanted to write songs for others. One day, I realized that I was sitting with these songs and I really didn’t want to give them away. So that is when this project started.

What were your goals and ambitions for your music when you first started?

I think because it started out this way, I was just pretty, I don’t know surprised. I don’t know if that is the right word. I was pretty grateful that something good happened because it kind of came out of the blue. Or at least, that I was supposed to be an artist on my own. So I think in the beginning I was just very grateful and happy that I was able to do it. I guess the more you do it, the more your ambitions and your dreams around it grow. The biggest dream for me is to make the music, first of all, that I want to make, and not make something that people are trying to make me do. For people to hear it, to be able to come here and play 20 concerts in your country, and show my music to everyone. That is definitely my goal and my dream.

How has your music evolved since you first started?

I think, especially on this album that comes out in March, it’s my first full length album, I think that it has an aggressiveness to it that my previous writing has not had in it. I think it is very much about daring to be a bit more honest and maybe also showing some parts of my emotional life that maybe aren’t that flattering always. I haven’t really been daring to do that much earlier. So that is something I am very proud of on this album that I really want to keep working on, and keep being brave that way. It is also something that makes it more nerve wracking to show it to people because of that honesty. 

The song and music video for Roses came out about a month ago now, so what went into that song and video?

So that song is actually very much like a manifestation of exactly what I just said. I think I was at a place in my life where I had just signed a deal here in the states. I guess I was just thinking and worrying a bit too much about what people wanted me to make, or what they expected of me. Good songs don’t come from that. The song is a realization of that. It’s about setting boundaries and being able to say no and being able to reclaim your own creativity. It very much has this aggressiveness that I was just talking to you about. In the song, I am kind of singing to someone saying, “Do you think you could change me?”, a “what the fuck?” kind of thing. For me at least, it’s more than a song for someone else, it’s a song for myself being like, hey, people around you are always going to try to affect you, especially in a creative field. It has to be your job to be like, this is my space, this is my art. It’s going to be this way or it’s not going to be. In that way, it has kind of an almost therapeutic effect writing that song on me. It is an important song for me to write.

What is the most meaningful song you’ve created?

That’s a hard one. I think that always changes a bit because right now Roses is so important to me. It had a big meaning for me, it actually affected my life. Sometimes you feel that way with a song, sometimes it will change and you will write another one that is exactly about what you are going through at that moment. I recently wrote a song for my mom, and that means a lot to me. It is my first time writing that directly to someone from my family. That was pretty wild for me. 

Who would you consider your musical inspirations?

I have always listened to a lot of different music. Growing up I listened a lot to hip hop, especially older stuff like old school, like Pharcyde and Wu-Tang, and all of that stuff. We listened a lot to old R&B, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, all of that. Later on after listening to more pop stuff, right now I am listening a lot from a girl called Kali Uchis, it is super good. I see my music as very much a hybrid, it is a merge of a lot of different things. In the beginning when I started writing, I saw that as a disadvantage. It is so popular to be very conceptual and to have these very clean concepts around your art. I tried to do that, or I wanted to be more like that. I’m not that way. My music is very much a merge of a lot of things. I am seeing it more as a quality and I am really trying to embrace it and own it. 

How would you describe your sound?

That’s hard. One producer I work a lot with in Denmark, he once called it Garage Pop. I imagine me sitting there in my garage like hitting pots and pans and stuff. I thought it was such a fun description, avoiding to put it in a label. Especially because it is such a hybrid, Garage Pop sounds so cool. 

What is next for you and what do you want to accomplish in this upcoming year?

Releasing an album is such a big thing for me. I think in these single days, it is such a special thing to be able to release an album from a major label, to wanting to work a full album. A lot of songs, there isn’t singles, and would never have a life as a single. I think for me as an artist, that format is what I enjoy most, listening to them, and it’s what I want to make. It is a big thing for me, definitely. And then, I want to play a lot more. This has been my first time playing so many shows in a row. Just, both for me and my band to evolve is amazing. And to be so close to people with the music has been such a great experience. I think the music comes to life, and gets a whole new life in the meeting with someone who has never heard it before. That has been a big adventure. That is definitely one of my two pillars this year, to play as much as possible and to really focus on giving this album a good life. 

I got to spend the first three songs in the photo pit, which was an amazing experience. The first two songs, she spent jamming out, running all over the stage, always engaging the crowd. For the third song, she was behind the piano. She talked about how it was an experimental song that she was testing out. This song was incredible. It had the crowd going crazy. It merged all these different genres that we talked about in the interview. It was not like anything that I have ever heard before. 

Once I left the photo pit, I joined everyone else in the crowd. She performed the song Roses, which is my favorite song of hers. Everyone in the crowd was either dancing, had their hands up in the air, and there were some people singing along. You could really tell how much San Diego loves what Soleima is doing with her music. She kept interacting with the crowd, thanking everyone for being there, and talking about how crazy it is that she is playing in the United States. San Diego was the last date on the U.S. tour, after 30 days and 21 shows. Even though it was the end of tour, Soleima was still filled with so much energy and passion.

Soleima’s sound is so different than what other music is out there today. If you have never listened to her, this is your sign to do so.

You can watch the video for Roses here.

Written By: McCaeley O’Rourke
Photos By: McCaeley O’Rourke

Logan Mize at the House Of Blues

Sold Out Saturday Night: Logan Mize rocks the House of Blues Voodoo Room on February 8th, 2020.

I’ll say it, I’m a sucker for country concerts. Maybe it’s the plethora of attractive southern looking men in flannels or the music that reminds me of summer. Regardless, I love to support up and coming artists and when given the opportunity to attend a concert you bet I’ll be front row.

I Aint Gotta Grow Up Tour

This was my first trip to The House of Blues and I was not disappointed. The ambiance, the location, and the acoustics all made this concert such an enjoyable experience. The show took place in the Voodoo Room which was a smaller room located inside the HOB. The size of the room seemed to make this concert seem intimate and personal, which enhanced the experience. With doors opening at seven and the concert beginning at 8:30 you got to know the people standing around you and encouraged socialization.

San Diego Local Stephen Ray opens the show

The opening act Stephen Ray is a San Diego local, and country music artist who has opened for some of the biggest names in country. Names such as Chris Janson, Parmalee, and Cody Johnson. He frequents venues like Tin Roof, and Moonshine Beach so you are likely to run into him preforming at some point if you frequent bars that have live music! Stephen started the show by playing some originals like his most recent single “New Plus One” and by covering John Denver’s “Country Roads” which definitely the crowd singing.

Up Next for Stephen…

I ran into Stephen and his lovely girlfriend Devin after his performance where we chatted about their future move to Nashville, and how great his set was. I’ve already bought tickets for Stephen’s next show downtown at Tin Roof where he will be opening up for Love and Theft on February 22, I am excited to see his career take off!

Logan Mize

Logan Mize has recently found his groove and has gained the attention of country music fans everywhere. Logan has opened for country stars like Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry, Erik Church, and Dierks Bentley. The singer-songwriter from Kansas has been perusing a career in music since 2010 and most recently dropped a new EP From the Vault.

Better Off Gone

Logan closed out the night by taking the crowd on a trip of all of his newest and best hits. Hits like “Better Off Gone” his biggest song to date, although being released in 2017, the song has gained traction on the country radio charts recently and almost everyone at the concert knew the lyrics by heart. I Aint Gotta Grow Up” Logan’s most recent drop ft. Willie Jones and the namesake of the tour is country radios newest find and is the perfect summer jam all about a “good time all night country kind of throwdown.” Mize has a solid stage presence, knows how to command the attention of a crowd, and had everyone singing the night away.

This concert was music to my country-loving ears and made for the perfect Saturday Night. It’s always refreshing to listen to new and upcoming talent and The House of Blues is a perfect place to do just that. Look out for Stephen Ray and Logan Mize, they are doing great things for country music it’s only up from here!

Written by: Vanessa Rock
Photos By: @jennisoncloud9, Devin Dilday

Lennon Stella, 5 Seconds of Summer, and the Chainsmokers at Viejas Arena

Lennon Stella, 5 Seconds of Summer and the Chainsmokers put on a stellar performance at Viejas Arena on November 24th, 2019.

Lennon Stella

The opener for the show was Lennon Stella. I had absolutely no idea who she was before the show, so I decided to Google her. I learned that she and her sister Maisy were Maddie and Daphne Conrad in the show Nashville, and that is how they got their start. Lennon recently signed to RECORDS and Columbia Records. She then released her first solo EP last year, called Love Me, and also has done collaborations with  Jonas Blue, Liam Payne, and the Chainsmokers.

Lennon Stella had the crowd in awe when she came out. There was a single spotlight on her as she sang her first song. She performed a total of eight songs, including “Breakaway,” “Feelings,” “Bad,” “Kissing Other People,” “Like Everybody Else,” “Fortress,” “BITCH (takes one to know one)” and “La Di Da.” She moved from one side of the stage to the other, constantly engaging with the fans in the crowd. Her voice is breathtaking, and hearing her perform live was incredibly amazing. My favorite song of hers that she performed was “Kissing Other People.” If you have never listened to her music, please take this as a sign to do so!

5 Seconds of Summer

If you would have told me when I was 13 that at the age of 20, I would be photographing 5 Seconds of Summer, I, most likely, would have laughed in your face. But here I am, 20 years old, and doing something I never thought I would do. I was a die-hard fan of 5SOS in high school, and after seeing and shooting this show, it revived my love for them.

I sadly was not one of the lucky people who got to see 5SOS and One Direction perform on the same tour, and let me tell you why. At that point in my life, I was emo. I thought that I was too cool to go see One Direction perform. I missed out on the best tour of my life, and yes, I regret it every single day of my life. 

They performed a total of 15 songs, including “She Looks So Perfect,” “Easier,” “More,” “Valentine,” “If Walls Could Talk,” “Talk Fast,” “Moving Along,” “Ghost of You,” “Amnesia,” “Waste the Night,” “Why Won’t You Love Me,” “Jet Black Heart,” “Teeth,” “Want You Back,” and “Youngblood.”

Getting to hear “She Looks So Perfect” while being a mere few feet away from the band was just absolutely amazing. I am always the photographer in the photo pit that is singing along to every single word from behind my camera.

Once I left the photo pit, I got to watch the rest of their set from the crowd. Every single person in Viejas Arena was standing, dancing, and singing along. There were two moments of the show that were my favorite. The first being when Calum introduced every single member of the band. He went around introducing Ashton, then Luke, and then said, “and last but not least, I’m Calum.” He totally skipped over Michael, and it had the crowd laughing. Later in the show, Ashton decided to tell the crowd about, in what order, his favorite members of the band were for the night. This is apparently a thing that he has done at all the shows on this tour. He listed them in the following order: Calum, Luke, and then Michael. Again, Michael was put last, which made everyone in the crowd laugh. Ashton gave his spiel on why Michael was last, and it was because he felt like he had been giving Michael too much attention lately. Again, that made the crowd laugh.

This was my first time getting to see 5SOS, after being a fan since 2013. I had super high expectations for their show because I always hear amazing things about them. This show surpassed my expectations. Their music, somehow, sounds even more beautiful and raw live. The vocals, the instruments, the stage presence, everything. It was an amazing show, and if you were not there, you missed out.

The Chainsmokers

The headliner for the night was the Chainsmokers. Shooting this show was very different than what I am used to. It was a challenge, but it was a really fun challenge. For the Chainsmokers, all the photographers shot this portion of the show from the soundboard. To be quite honest, I have not used my long lens since I first purchased my camera almost seven years ago. This kind of set up really pushed me out of my comfort zone when it came to shooting the show, but I am very happy with the outcome.

The Chainsmokers sang a total of 30 songs, including “Takeaway” (which was performed with Lennon Stella), “Roses,” “Under the Bridge” (a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover), “Paris,” “Push My Luck,” “Cream,” “Call You Mine,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” “Shout” (a The Isley Brothers cover), “Mo Bamba” (a Sheck Wes cover), “Siren Get Ready for This” (a 2 Unlimited cover), “Everybody Hates Me.”

There was a break for an insane drum solo, then the songs continued with “Sick Boy,” “P.S. I Hope You’re Happy,” “Hope,” “Beach House,” “Split Say My Name” (a SAY MY NAME. cover), “Something Just Like This,” “The Grimm” (a John Christian cover), “Hard” (a Swen Weber & Jewelz cover), “Somebody,” “This Feeling,” “Kernkraft 400” (a Zombie Nation cover), “Olè” (a dabow cover), “Save Yourself,” “Who Do You Love” (which was performed with 5 Seconds of Summer), and “Closer.”

The stage set up for this show was so cool. There was the main stage, then a walkway connected that went all the way to the back of the stadium. It really allowed the band to connect with fans in every single part of the arena. The crowd was going absolutely wild for the Chainsmokers, dancing and moving along to every single song. This really was a concert you did not want to miss. 

Written by: McCaeley O’Rourke
Photos by: McCaeley O’Rourke

Charlotte Lawrence and Goody Grace at the House of Blues

Charlotte Lawrence and Goody Grace put on an electrifying show that had the crowd moving all night long at the House of Blues on November 21, 2019.

Before the show, KCR got to have a friendsgiving with both artists in our production studio. In this intimate setting, we all enjoyed a fully vegan Thanksgiving, screen printing reusable tote bags, and more! We also got to sit down and talk to Charlotte and Goody about their music, new songs, and their tour. They each performed an acoustic song, which you can watch both the interview and acoustic songs here

Goody Grace

I had never seen Goody Grace or Charlotte Lawrence live before, and this show absolutely blew me away. Goody Grace opened up the show, playing songs such as “Scumbag,” “Two Shots,” “Rest Your Eyes,” and more. There were some die hard fans in the crowd, singing along to every word and dancing their hearts out. For the people who had never heard of him before, they were still moving and dancing along to the songs.

After learning about the influences behind Goody Grace’s music earlier in the day, it really translated to his music. His music is a mix of all of the music he likes and listens to. You heard emo, pop punk, r&b, and rap influences in his music. They all merged together to create this very unique sound that is 100% Goody Grace. Since this show, I have had Goody Grace’s music on repeat, and you should too.

Charlotte Lawrence

Charlotte Lawrence headlined the show. She played a total of 14 songs: “Why Do You Love Me,” “Just The Same, Keep Me Up,” “I Bet,” “Stole Your Car,” “Young and Reckless,” “Everybody Loves You,” “You,” “Sin X Secret,” “Psychopath,” “Cowboys,” “Navy Blue,” “God Must Be Doing Cocaine,” and “Sleep Talking.”

The crowd was totally and fully engaged with her performance; Charlotte had so much energy on the stage, and was interacting with the crowd at all times. At one point during the show, she claimed that she is too tall to dance but her dance moves went perfectly with her music. This encouraged everyone in the audience to dance along too; not a single person in that crowd stood still.

I wish I had the proper words to describe how utterly gorgeous Charlotte’s voice is. It has the perfect mix of raw emotion and effortless talent. She hits these high notes and goes on these runs that are so beautiful, it genuinely does not sound real.

My favorite song of her performance was Stole Your Car, which has been on repeat since this show. This song in particular had everyone jumping in the air, and dancing. The vocals in this song are insane, and she executed them flawlessly.

Charlotte also performed her newest song, “God Must Be Doing Cocaine.” It calls attention to all the messed up things going on in our world today. It was a super stripped back and emotional performance, which the crowd stayed silent throughout the entire thing. The show was one you should not have missed!

You can listen to Goody Grace ft. Blink 182, “Scumbag,” here.

You can also listen to Charlotte Lawrence’s newest song, “God Must Be Doing Cocaine,” here.

Written By: McCaeley O’Rourke
Photos By: McCaeley O’Rourke