Thursday, March 13, 2014

Indie Ville TV #5 Alicia Smith is in pursuit of a successful music career on her own terms

Written by Josh Baker

The success, exposure, and abundance of the music industry can be anyone’s fuel to pursue it so feverishly. In fact, here in Nashville there is a singer, songwriter and musician pool the size of the Atlantic. Everyone drifting in that pool is waiting for whatever ship, with whatever label name printed on the bow, to sail by and pick them up. Alicia Smith is calmly floating outside the crowds of those folks who are waving their arms frantically. Out here is where she is making the best of a seemingly difficult place to be and not just taking what comes her way.

As you will begin to find out, Alicia is the type of artist who is about taking on the music industry from the grassroots angle while maintaining her personal values. She doesn’t mind if a record label passes on her because she chooses to stand beside what she believes instead of giving it up to sign to them. A big part of who she is and how she wants to be seen in the spotlight is because she knows success can come to those who stay true themselves without succumbing to what they need to be marketed as. It’s not about being flashy. It’s about putting in the work and getting out there and giving it everything you’ve got with everything, within reason, you’re able to offer. She won’t just settle on a label who isn’t on the same page as her.

“I have friends who get overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious about wanting something like a record deal and it’s not all about that”, Alicia begins in an almost-empty coffee shop, “If you put all your weight on whether you’re successful or not based on what you’re signed to then you probably won’t be happy because you’ll probably sign for anything.”

From avoiding prairie dogs while chasing her sister on a bike through fields in North Dakota to growing up in a sheltered, Christian environment, Alicia’s foundation of humility isn’t hard to miss. Staying modest in this industry can be tough with values even tougher to hold on to. Even though she sometimes gets backlash from the sheltered people she used to know because of the less-than-offensive things she does (playing in bars or drinking) she doesn’t let that stop her, “I have my own convictions and I’ll deal with them.”

The pivotal event that caused her to pick up guitar and learn her first song, Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” was when a close friend died. This was an eye-opening experience of learning that life can be cut short. Losing someone that close to her drove her to go after the things she wants. Years after her friend’s death she took that momentum to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and started her move to pursue music professionally. Four and a half years later, and a divorce in between, she is in Music City with an entertainment resume that is continuing to grow.

Not only is Alicia a recording artist but she is also an actor and published author. She has been in PSA’s, lawyer commercials, the horror film “Worm”, and Darius Rucker’s music video for the song “Wagon Wheel”. These opportunities outside of music have brought on different opportunities for her music. A director she worked with before contacted her about auditioning for a role in his upcoming horror film (Alicia is a huge horror film fan). Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to make the casting but she did get offered the next best thing: her music to be placed in the film.

The variety of entertainment gigs she is getting involved in hasn’t gone unnoticed. Her manager let her know that record labels are watching her. Knowing that doors may start opening around her she keeps pressing forward through songwriter’s nights and unpaid gigs. Paying these dues is something she knows she must do and does so happily. When asked what makes her stand out from the other female artists at those songwriter’s nights and Broadway gigs she confidently replies, “You can only get one of me.”

Alicia Smith has the attitude and confidence of a woman who won’t stop until she gets what she wants. She’s realistic and knows that not everyone will like her music. “They either like me or they don’t.  I feel like it’s over-thought in this industry. It comes down to this: if no one wants to listen to me then they can turn off the radio or thumbs-down me on Pandora radio.  If they do want to listen to me they’ll go buy my stuff or thumbs-up it.”

Accepting this fact has pushed her even deeper into optimism while taking the music industry in stride. She knows that they are often looking for characters or some industry ideal of what is marketable instead of humble talent. Her audition for “The Voice” made it even more clear to her that this is the case. The producers found her through her YouTube videos and asked her to come in for an audition. She received great feedback from everyone on the panel except from one bald man who didn’t look up at her until he asked her what her age was. If she were sixteen-years-old she would have made it through. Alicia simply brushed it off saying, “It doesn’t mean you’re not talented--they just don’t want you.”

That is a perfect example of the good ole music industry’s stereotypes and how Alicia doesn’t let it phase her.  Her confident presence and positive attitude will keep her out there for every and anyone who wants to listen. Keep an ear out for a project she is working on with a group in LA that involves a rapper and a future album that will push her outside of the genre constraints of her previous E.P., “Welcome to Reality”.

As far as focusing on her outfits or being some flashy, dancing, pop-glam girl in skimpy clothes, she leaves us with this, ““I’ll be one of those people that people will research. And I believe that when they find out more about me and my past and if they ever meet me one on one, that’s where they’ll become a fan.”   INDIEVILLETV

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Indie Ville TV #4 Life with The Whippoorwills

Written by Cora Bennett

Much like the well-known bird, The Whippoorwills music is vigorous and distinct. Since late 2012, Heather Gray (vocals), Ryan Jackson (guitar), and Kevin Carter (drums) have been creating beautifully harsh melodies together and signed with Mattress House Records in the summer of 2013.
Carter and Jackson are both native Tennesseans, while Gray is originally from Modesto, CA.
“I experienced some culture shock when I moved out here to Nashville. I guess my decision to move was honestly just based on the desire to leave behind what I knew and start a new life. I really had no intention, or ever expected that I would end up playing music out here. It’s been quite a ride so far.” Commented Gray. Jackson grew up in Brush Creek, which is a small town about an hour east of Nashville. He moved to Nashville because there was simply nothing to do in Lebanon. “I mean, Nashville has those pretty lights, big sounds, and busy people. Brush Creek had cows.” said Jackson.
The Whippoorwills know that as musicians, they have to be ready for disappointments. They use rejection as a learning tool, try to see what they could have done differently while staying positive and not giving up over someone el
The house shows that The Whippoorwills have played are the most memorable to the group. “It's just a good rowdy time with a bunch of people going nuts and usually breaking stuff. There's something pure about it, you know everyone is there to just have a good time and listen to music.” The group commented. They like playing the larger venues such as the Exit/In and the Rutledge, but really love playing anywhere that has a crowd that’s ready to have a good time. 
    When asked about what they want audiences to know about their band, the group replied “Our music is pure and not corrupted by desires to be rich or famous. When the three of us get together to write and perform, it’s a very natural feeling and we don’t over think things or worry about our sound appealing to anyone. Our sole intent is to just create the music that already exists inside of us. We are artists because it’s something that our little family feels we need in order to survive the things in this world that are petty, yet seem so inescapable.”
    The Whippoorwills album is currently being mixed and mastered by their good friend and awesome engineer, Jason Mott. The release date is aimed towards the end of March, 2014. If you’re looking for a jagged, raw beat to add to your playlist, be sure to check out this talented group!  

se’s opinion. It’s easy to let rejection get the best of you, but it’s detrimental to growth. Inspired by bands such as The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Cage the Elephant, Chuck Berry, The Talking Heads, Iggy Pop, Beck, the list is ridiculously long and covers various stages of the bands lives.  INDIEVILLETV

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Indie Ville TV #3 Front man Michael Roe of Daisyhead

Written by Cora Bennett

Currently on tour with bands Cove and Nest, Nashville's established punk band Daisyhead is gearing up for a crazy summer. Scratch that, more like a crazy year! Daisyhead, who is signed on with No Sleep Records, has a packed touring schedule and will also be performing at the 10th Anniversary of Bled Fest in May 2014. With thousands of current fans, more fans are jumping on board with each heart-thumping performance. I recently had the privilege of interviewing front man Michael Roe to enlighten fans about their history, as well as their future plans and aspirations. Here is what I got for you!

CB: Where are you and the rest of Daisyhead originally from?
MR: We are all from Nashville. I grew up in Memphis, but Nashville is definitely my home now.

CB: So how did you pick the band name, Daisyhead?
MR: Daisyhead actually came from a Dr. Seuss book.  I used to be in a band called Friends, who at the time had to change their band name because of another band with the same name.  I suggested we look through Dr Seuss books and characters, because I had done that with a past project I did, haha.  We came across the book "Daisy-Head Mayzie", and thought Daisyhead would be a cool name.  I ended up leaving the band, and they became what is now Better Off. When this band formed, I figured WE could use that name since Better Off didn't, and here we are!

CB: How old were you when you started getting involved with music?
MR: My parents had me singing with them in Church and stuff when I was really young, like before the age of ten.  I voluntarily started getting involved when I was around 14.

CB: When did you realize that you wanted to be a singer?
MR: This kind of ties in with the last question..  When my parents were having me sing, I really didn't want to do it. As I got older and got into punk music, I found more and more of a desire to sing and perform.

CB: Do you play any instruments? If so, what is your favorite?
MR: I do, I play guitar for Daisyhead as well.  I definitely want to get into piano once I settle down from touring and have the time.

CB: How long has your band been playing together, and what brought you all together?
MR: Daisyhead has been a band since August of 2012. A couple of buddies of mine wanted to start a rock side project to a hardcore band they were playing in, and asked me to sing for it.  We just started it up for fun, but we got lucky enough for it to catch on.

CB: What message does your band want to convey to its audiences?
MR:  I guess if I were to choose to relay any kind of message to where I can relate with listeners, it would be that no matter how lame life is at any given time, there are others out there who feel the same as you. 

CB: What band or artist inspires you the most?
MR: I am personally very deeply inspired by Yellowcard.  On a musical level, they have never let me down, and I like knowing that a band can still write good music even when they have been at it as long as they have.  Also, they are very nice to their fans, and are super respectful, which is a huge plus.
CB: Did you have a lot of support from family and friends when you became a musician?
MR:  The amount of support I have gotten from my friends in the Memphis and Nashville scenes are the reason I'm able to do what I'm doing.  My family has also been very supportive, for sure.

CB: How have and your band dealt with rejection thus far in your career?
MR: We honestly haven't had to deal with much rejection, but that is mainly because we haven't reached out for anything.  Everything that has happened with us has been offered, and I feel so lucky to be able to say that.  I know we have been submitted for some tours that we didn't get, but we try not to get our hopes up too high and just be thankful for everything that happens, whether we feel we deserve it or not.

CB: What has been Daisyhead's most memorable performance thus far?
MR: I can honestly speak for everyone in saying our most memorable performance was our set at The Balcony Bar in Auburn, Alabama. We did a short run in January with a band called Pillow Talk, and we had an unbooked date.  I posted on a Facebook group asking about a show in AL or GA, and we were directed to this bad-ass dude, Lance.  He set us up immediately... Like literally within 30 minutes of me messaging him on Facebook, we had a show.  The spot is right next to the Auburn campus and it was on a Saturday night, so the show packed out.  The people who worked the bar and the show were all so awesome, and it was definitely the coolest crowd response of that run. Very thankful for that night.

CB: Where is your favorite place in Nashville to perform, and why?
MR: Our favorite place in Nashy is a place called The End. We love the shows we play there, the sound, the atmosphere, and the people.  We've played some really cool shows there with some really cool bands. We feel most at home at that venue.

CB: When can the fans expect an album release?
MR: We just released a split with Have Mercy on No Sleep Records on February 25th, but we will be in the studio recording a full-length by the end of this year!

Be sure to check this band out at