Little Brother Eli by E

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Catch up with Little Brother Eli's Josh Rigal (bass) for a look at their new sound and look for much more to come from the Oxford-based 4-piece soon.

What brought you together?

Josh: Prior to Little Brother Eli me and Alex were in a local Oxfordshire teenage band called South Parade. It was a very different outfit to LBE, mostly because we were kids, but also because we were still learning to play our instruments in lots of respects; like most teenage endeavors it eventually ended. Several years went past and in 2013 me and Alex met up in Sheffield where Alex was studying. There was a guitar lying about so I started noodling, Alex started singing and a song emerged almost immediately. Over the next few weeks and months we started trading ideas over the internet, building songs (mostly off iPhone recordings) and, realizing we had something special, we decided to put together a band. I chose the best musicians I knew at the time (and still know of): Adam on guitar who I'd known since school, Benji on drums who I'd played in a hip-hop band with prior to LBE and, also involved at the time was Linus Taylor on guitar who is no longer in the band but tours the world with Brian Ferry! Lucky bugger, a mega talented guy. From my point of view, the chemistry and originality was pretty instant from the first couple of rehearsals.

Where does the name Little Brother Eli come from?

The name has a lot of rumours surrounding it, mostly spread by me - I like to keep an air of mystery around the name. Check out the artwork for "Tooth" and you might spot Eli yourself...

Which artists or bands would you say influenced your sound, if any?

As the band has developed and changed I can honestly say it's become really hard to pinpoint. Alex loves to listen to tons of great songwriters from John Lennon to Alex Turner, Benji is into hiphop like Kendrick Lamar, Adam sits somewhere between Michael Jackson and Kenny Rogers, and I pretty much exclusively listen to 70's funk and Vulfpeck. It's an extreme plethora of styles and I feel the result is something original in nature.

Are there any artists or bands you're most excited to hear more from in 2018?

I'm going to give a shout out to some great artists we've played with: BIG TOOTH (Prince-influenced pop), Willie J Healey (90's grunge pop) & Chris Barker And The Premium Leisure (jazz experimental pop [something like that]). These are all artists who've payed our residency night at The Monarch in Camden which we hold every couple of months or so.

How does your new sound compare to your previous releases?

To my mind, it's a step in a new direction. I'm not sure how to describe it - we're really just being ourselves on this record; we left any idea of what we used to be at the rehearsal door and just performed in a way we that was most natural to us. What came out was "Tooth" and we're really excited about it.

Can we expect to hear more from Little Brother Eli in 2018? Do you have plans to tour or release a new album?

Yep, gigs are being arranged all the time and we're releasing at least another two singles in the next 3 months or so. As well as live videos, new artwork, a new image, et cetera. Fans need to make sure they are following us on Spotify and liking our social media to keep up to date. We have a very active Facebook Group run by some dedicated fans that's worth checking out, too.

Do you have a favorite song to perform live?

Our next single "Wait For You" (30th March 2018) is pretty exciting live and it has a pretty insane guitar solo in it. However, the oldies are sometimes the best and our fans love our track "Beautiful People" which we usually play at the end of our set. It's such a feel good track with a sing along chorus. Adam does lead vocals in the verses which always brings a smile to my face.

What do you hope listeners can take from your music?

I hope that they feel that guitar music can make a comeback, but mostly I hope they connect with the song and that it brings some aural joy!

Is there anything you want to add?

Quick message to readers: if you can and if you want to, make sure you visit your local live music venues every now and again to keep them alive!

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Boo Ray by E

Catch up with singer-songwriter Boo Ray, listen to his single "Redneck Rock & Roll" off his album Sea Of Lights, out now, and look for more to come soon.

What got you interested in music?

Boo Ray: I liked the cowboy singers as a kid and then there were a couple things. Hearing Dwight Yoakam made me want to play guitar and be a troubadour. And The Highwaymen made me want to be a songwriter.

Do you remember the first song you wrote that you were proud of?

I remember the first one I wrote that I was embarrassed of - but I still liked it - it was called "Oh Sheryl" [laughs]. It was my next door neighbor who was older than me; she was 15, I was 12.

Which musicians - other than The Highwaymen and Dwight Yoakam - have you been influenced by?

Oh man, it's something I realized - I didn't know it at the time - but Jerry Reed has probably had a ton of influence on me and for most of my life I didn't realize because I didn't know, as a kid, that Jerry Reed was the master musician that he was, I just thought he was a cool guy who played guitar in bands. That sound has had a big impact on me.

Is there anyone that you're hooked on now you'd recommend everyone take a listen to?

I've got some buddies in East Nashville that make great records. Derek Hough is making great records. Elizabeth Cook makes great records that I listen to. Darren Bradbury makes good records. That's three East Nashville cats that I listen to. I totally dig North Mississippi Allstars and JJ Grey & Mofro.

How would you describe your sound to someone who hadn't heard your music?

When I listen to something I definitely hear the Georgia sound in it. I've spent years tromping around South Georgia; that tawned out Macon sound is part of my DNA, I believe. And running around the Gulf Coast has had an impact on me too. I've tried to wash the red clay out and it won't come out [laughs].

What were your inspirations behind your single "Redneck Rock & Roll"?

One of the sideline jokes that I was making, or maybe it was just disclaiming, while we were writing it was that I was making a joke that I was writing the song first-person as Kenny Powers. I wrote that song with my Texas songwriting buddy Davy Ulbrich, he wrote the title track on Jon Pardi's Write You A Song. I really do like that stuff; I love old Monte Carlos and I love old Panhead Choppers; I know how to ride a jock-shift chopper, I know how to ride a footrest motorcycle - which is more like a lawn tractor than it is a motorcycle.

Could you tell us more about your album Sea of Lights?

Sea Of Lights was recorded live with a live band tape to tape in Los Angeles and it's a fun group of songs. It's a pretty up-tempo record, I think. That record reflects some of the Jerry Reed thing that we were talking about and it might reflect some Bob Seger and some rock stuff like Thin Lizzy or some Allman Brothers and stuff like that.

Is there a song off that album you'd call your favorite?

I really do love "Redneck Rock & Roll", that song just does its job really, really well. It's a ton of fun to play, it's a good riff, and people like that song. I got trapped in a honky-tonk one time and there was a group of patrons who got way too inebriated way too early in the evening and I literally was made to play "Redneck Rock & Roll" four times in a row at the honkey-tonk [laughs]. Good thing I like that song. Another one off the CD that I like a lot is "One More Round"; it continues to be an excellent song with the band. And then, of course, the title track, too. But "One More Round" is cool, it's kind of got that Houston sound.

In one sentence, how would you sum up Sea Of Lights?

I think Sea Of Lights is a rough and tumble ride across country.

What can fans expect to hear from you next?

Well we actually just finished a brand new record. We just got the finished, mastered record sent back to us and everybody is crazy about it and we can't wait to turn it around and show it to you guys a little bit later this year.

What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?

I hope that the music satisfies their need for a big beat and a guitar riff that takes their mind off things for a little while. I hope there's a good melody and a clever turn of phrase that is able to catch their attention and maybe help them think about something else besides the trials and tribulations of day to day life. That's what I look for in music, I want something to take my attention away from the details that I'm forever lost in, trying to wrangle my way through life.

Is there anything you want to add?

The "Bad News Travels Fast" live performance video is pretty cool. It's a Joshua Shoemaker video and he's a Nashville video maker - he shot the first Alabama Shakes video. Check out the "Sea Of Lights" video and I think they'd get a kick out of the "Bad News Travels Fast" video too, it's us doing a string band type of thing around a campfire.

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Zeke Finn by E

Catch up with singer-songwriter Zeke Finn and watch the video for his single "Plight" ft. Matisyahu off his self-titled EP, out now.

What got you interested in music and in songwriting?

Zeke Finn: My family is pretty musical. My dad plays everything, basically - mandolin, banjo, recorder, any whistle - and my mom plays guitar, sings - and so does my sister. Folk music was a big part of my upbringing and my grandmother sang on Broadway [laughs]. There wasn't just one particular thing, my life kind of filled with music from the get-go. In terms of songwriting, I only started really writing songs - like poems and raps - when I was about 15/16.

Do you remember what the first poem or rap you wrote was about?

I used to beatbox at first and all my friends and I would beatbox style over each other's beatboxs. So at one point I wrote a rap or a rhyme or whatever it was on a little piece of paper and I brought it to class in school and my English teacher saw it and he was like, "oh, that's cool, you should come sing that with my hip hop band," and I'm like, "oh I don't perform, I just wrote this little thing," and he kind of pushed me to develop these little writings into actual songs. He'd bring me to the studio and we'd record demos, he had me open up for him a few times, so that was kind of how the real songwriting process came about.

Which musicians would you say you've been influenced by?

I feel like initially, Woody Guthrie, as a songwriter, was a big influence in the way that he just wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote so, so much all the time. In terms of hip hop, Top Quality was a big influence on me, I think he was one of the first MCs that I really started to study and listen to how he wrote and flowed. In later years I've really liked bands like Alt-j, just in their songwriting and performance and I think they're really innovative. There's so many, I don't know how to answer [laughs].

If you were to make a playlist, who are a few artists you'd have to include?

So definitely Top Quality, Alt-j, Coldplay, Eminem, Sylvan Esso, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. And Matisyahu.

How would you describe your sound to someone who hadn't heard your music?

I think it depends on the song, but I'd say alternative hip hop with a lot of electronic meanings.

Can you tell us more about your single and video for "Plight" featuring Matisyahu?

The song I wrote actually a few years ago when I was in a place called Yeshiva, which is kind of like a rabbinical college, and I was studying mystical Jewish text and I was learning about the journey of the soul as it comes from the outer spiritual realms down into a physical body and the physical world. Because that was the concept, I didn't see a regular music video to be fitting for that song and I really thought animation would be cool and I got in touch with some animators that I really liked their style and they put it together and that was it. It was cool because they use a technique called rotoscoping and basically they filmed us performing the song and doing the movements and whatnot, and then they redrew every movement frame by frame. It's almost like when you draw on a wax sheet of paper and so they basically traced our movements and re-drew everything that we did and turned us into cartoons.

What were your inspirations behind your single "Unicorn"?

There's definitely a love interest connected with that song and I kind of embellished a little part of my life into something bigger; I kind of meshed a dream and a real life happening into one and put that to the music and that created something bigger than the dream and the story itself. The music, particularly, is the most electronic sounding song on the EP and I really like that. I felt like it was a new style of music for me and it's a bit of the direction that I'm taking my music, in general. It's always my favorite track on the EP, or at least the most relevant to me.

Could you tell us more about that EP?

What I wanted to do is basically show as many different sides of my music as possible with just four songs. I tried to make them pretty different, like "City" is a little bit more harder hip hop with a little bit of a country twang to it; "Love Song" is like your feel-good, pop-y, love song; "Plight" has strong hip hop flows but then it opens up into this big, almost jam-y, outro; and I don't know how to describe "Unicorn" [laughs]. It's definitely a variety of sounds and I think different people will connect with different parts of the EP and I wanted to see which parts and which songs stuck in different ways with different people. The common denominator of all of them is that there's strong hip hop bases in all of them, but they're pretty different, all four songs.

You mentioned "Unicorn" was your favorite track off the EP, but do you have a favorite track to perform live?

I don't know if I have a favorite... I like performing "Plight" live, that's a lot of fun. When my sister can perform with me, she sings really nice harmonies on "Love Song", so when she can perform with me, I think "Love Song" is my favorite song to play live. And I think the crowd likes that song a lot because it's easy to dance to and move to.

In one sentence, how would you sum up the EP?

An introductory exploration into the music of Zeke Finn.

What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?

That's up to them [laughs]. Each person will have their own musical journey and experience when listening to any one song, so I can't tell them how to experience my music. I think that's the beauty of music, is that we each connect in our own way to it and we each need music for different reasons.

Is there anything you want to add?

I had a show at Bowery Ballroom on March 11th and a lot more music is coming after this EP, so that's something people should know. I hope they assume that already [laughs].

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Astra the 22's by E

Catch up with Brooklyn-based indie glam rock duo Astra the 22's and listen to their single "Creature" off their upcoming EP, Paris Love, to be released this Summer.

What brought you two together to start Astra the 22's?

Astra The 22's were brought together by forces larger than life… to bring back the rock...

Where does your name come from?

The name comes from staring into a crystal ball and seeing the same star and number 22, 22 times...

Which musicians have you been influenced by?

Prince, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Blondie, Def Leppard, Jack White..

Is there an artist or band that you're hooked on now?

Always hooked on something, ha.

But always hooked on… Jack White and The Kills!!

Which words would you use to describe your sound?

Beautiful/deadly and glamorous.

What were your inspirations behind your single "Creature"?

"Creature'' well, we were high on caffeine, nicotine and whiskey and listening to The Kills, Blondie and G’n’R. After talking bullshit about NYC narcissism, materialism & vanity, we wrote "Creature".

Could you tell us more about your upcoming EP Paris Love and if that single is indicative of what we can expect to hear on it?

Our EP Paris Love is a call to all degenerates, derelicts, outsiders and freaks to join us to bring love & beauty to the world under the universal flag of Rock n Roll!

Is there a track off the EP you're most excited to share with fans?

How about you choose?! :)

What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?

Fuck everything, Let’s Rock!

Is there anything you want to add?

We have a show March 16th at Pianos NYC at 8pm.

See you there... Yea!

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