Valley Maker-January 4, 2017 at Nickelodeon Theater

Valley Maker-January 5, 2017 at Pure Theatre

1) What’s the first album you remember loving as a kid?

This feels cliché, but I remember buying Weezer’s Blue Album at a pretty young age and falling head over heels in love.

2) What as the first album you bought with your own money?

To be honest, I don’t recall. But seeing as my engagement with ‘popular culture’ was fairly limited in the early days, I feel certain it would have been a cassette tape from the Florence, SC Christian book store.

3) What was the first local band you were a fan of? 

Ben Walker Radio. For the record, I’m still a fan.

4) What’s the most recent album you bought or have been listening to lately?

I saw Hiss Golden Messenger play in Seattle last night and bought their new record — very inspiring from both songwriting and live show standpoints. I also got to see Cass McCombs live recently and have similarly been enjoying Mangy Love. Jessica Pratt and Amen Dunes are songwriters I’ve recently been feeling inspired by. Sometimes I get tired of vocals/lyrics and then guitar-forward music is nice, especially William Tyler and John Fahey. I’ll go through seasons where I mostly listen to Ethiopian jazz (Hailu Mergia is a recent favorite) and different guitarists/vocalists from around North and West Africa – so much amazing music.

5) What have you been working on lately, and what would you say has been influencing your writing? 

I’ve been writing a lot of new music lately and touring some, alongside preparations and travels for my Ph.D. research in Geography. That mix of being home and traveling always feels generative to me in terms of songwriting. It’s been helpful to try new songs out at shows – that gives me a sense of how I feel about them, whether or not they are honest. We’re living in strange times politically right now; it feels like a lot of old violence and oppression is coming to the surface. I live a pretty comfortable life in Seattle, and I don’t feel personally at risk of racialized violence or deportation, for example, but my grad school experience has in some ways been about trying to understand how/why lives are differentially valued across space and time. It’s bizarre (depressing?) to witness how uncaring and divorced from reality our popular political dialogue can be right now on issues that matter for people’s well-being and survival. So I guess I’m always navigating the academic, social and artistic parts of my brain/life in my work and writing, and I’m thankful for the space and language that music provides. Music creates a world that can both process and transcend, so I’ve been trying to spend time existing there. I’ve been trying to push myself with new material as a guitar player and lyricist, and in terms of production elements. I feel excited for what’s ahead with the project – which hopefully will mean new music released and an honest number of shows in 2017.

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