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13 DECEMBER, 2009

Sugar dreams | My mom wasn't the greatest cook on the planet (sorry, Mom!), but she was peerless when it came to baking. Mary Beth and I got lucky enough one Christmas-time to bake with her (while MB and I were still dating) before she passed away from cancer. This month I'm determined to make one of her signature holiday recipes, a cookie called "Sugar Dreams." Each one melts in your mouth, and it's easy to eat a half dozen in a few seconds. Any stomach distress is well worth it. The recipe is short but includes a few exotic items:

1 1/2 stick butter
2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup cooking oil
1 teaspoon Hjorthorn salt
1 tablespoon vanilisocker

vanilisockerStir the butter and sugar till fluffy. Add the oil. Mix separately the flour, vanilla sugar, and Hjorthorn salt. Combine both mixtures. Make teaspoon-size balls. Bake 12 minutes (until firm, not brown) at 325 degrees. Pig out.

I used to go to a little Scandinavian foods and baking supplies shop in Ballard to get the Hjorthorn salt (baker's ammonia) and vanilisocker (vanilla sugar), but alas, that store is gone. So I went online and found everything I needed at Gift Chalet. Yum.

- Matt

21 NOVEMBER, 2009

Questions from Bolivia | Every few months or so, I get an e-mail from somebody in Bolivia wondering about the origins of our name (see the FAQ on our bio page). Replying in an intelligible manner can be dicey, especially when the sender writes his or her inquiry in Spanish. But I was able to read and reply in Spanish to the latest missive, from Henry in Sucre, by using this most useful site. I'm multi-lingual now!

- Matt

6 NOVEMBER, 2009

E-mail of the week | Arriving in my inbox last night was a much appreciated review of North by Nowhere from Brian Kawano, long-time TWBA afficianado and recent Missouri-by-way-of-Texas transplant:

Awesome album. Each song is different from the next, so the album is varied instead of sounding like one song over and over again. The individual songs are also textured rather than being a wall of solid sound. Mary Beth's voice is clear whether it is soft or loud. The acoustic and electric guitars are understated, which makes the "let's-crank-it-up" parts really pop.

Another great TWBA album. I usually like the louder songs more than the softer ones, but this album is great all the way through.

I missed the 2008 EP; is it back in print? - brian 

Many moons ago, Brian started showing up fairly regularly at our Seattle gigs. For a long time he was just "that mysterious guy with the black leather jacket." Then we introduced ourselves. (I probably tripped on him or something.) From there, we started talking before and after shows, begging him to take our beer tickets, and so on. It's always cool to hear from a long-time friend of the band, especially after he wanders off to the heartland.

And yes, we just got another shipment in of Morning After Food Poisoning in the South of France, which is available at our store, as well at several other sites, including CD Baby.

- Matt

2 NOVEMBER, 2009

Cold blooded | During my last blog, I became a bit distracted. Some might say, "carried away." It's my intention to stay the course this time, but if you know me, you know I have a tendency to become distracted during conversation, to hopelessly go where no conversation intended to go. In my last blog, my original intention was to provide details as to what it is I've been doing whilst Matt is passionately dedicated to the band. And here I finally (uh, it's been what, three months now?) get to that point...

Mary Beth Kite with Cloudy the LizardAs you read this blog, there is something you should know. I'm cheating on you. You're thinking, "slut," and you're right. Indeed, down at the bottom of my screen here, there is not one, but two open windows (however minimized the other might be at the moment). The other open window is my connection, my life-line if you will, to a place called Those in my nuclear family might say that I'm a little obsessed with this organization. But I believe it's important to point out that it's not my fault, but the fault of one very special creature named "Cloudy" -- named for the beautiful pattern upon his scaly skin, which resembles that of a clouded leopard, so says one named Gibson. Indeed, the same Gibson who brought this dear creature into our home in the first place. The same Gibson that Matt and I had intended to allow to care for this new pet all on his own. The same Gibson who graciously stepped aside when his baby dragon was ailing to allow his mother to swoop in (helicopter style), take over, and totally bogart his beardie. Yes, people, as Matt has worked tirelessly at keeping this band going, everything from writing the songs, to booking the shows, to updating the web site and handling all the annoying administrative stuff, I have spent the better part of my time over the past year... in service to a lizard.

Cloudy in Matt's handsA few months in, I knew I had a problem. Yes, the lizard was Gibson's, but there were questions floating about the house, such as: "Why is Mom ALWAYS checking on my lizard?" "Why is Mom always sneaking upstairs and eyeing the temperature gauge and changing stuff around in the cage?" And "Why does Mom always seem to have MY lizard on HER shoulder?!"

Allow me to explain. It all started when we realized Cloudy wasn't well. He was eating but five crickets a day and subsequently not growing much. He was waking up at ten a.m. and asleep by two. I happened to find a bearded dragon growth chart online and was alarmed to find out that not only was Cloudy not growing well, he was grossly undersized by about, oh, eight or nine inches! Eeek. Something was definitely wrong. I came to learn that there was precious little about our pet-store-recommended enclosure that was right. Grrr. I also came to learn that we were far from alone in this, as the pet and pet supply industry does this number on many hapless first-time reptile owners. The horror.

Coudy on HawkeyeThat's when I found "the org" and began reading. And after several days of researching the ins and outs of "beardie care"(yet another care that lacks a public option), I was ready to perform the total enclosure refurbish. Operation Beardie Grow was officially under way. And I'm proud to report it was a success. And when Cloudy started to shed for the first time in months, we cried happy tears (there may have been some dancing). And when he had his first 100 bug day (not an exaggeration), we cheered him on. And in this process of watching him grow, watching him shed, watching him swim in the tub, singing to him, tucking him in at night, cleaning up his poop, and snuggling him every chance I got, I became hopelessly devoted to all things beardie. I am what they refer to at the org as a "beardie slave."

So know that as I write this, I'm cheating on you (you whore!). For as I type away a blog entry of how I became slave to a 17-inch herpetological wonder (aka, big cutie-pie with scone-shaped head), I'm simultaneously helping others learn how to do the same. During the writing of this blog alone, I've managed to explain everything from the importance of quality UVB to the dangers of calci-sand. And... I did it all while telling you this story. And, I might add, while a beardie sits upon my right shoulder. Yes, I certainly do lack discipline in certain areas of my life (my wedding band is STILL on the bathroom shelf), but one could never call into question my ability to multi-task. Or my tendency to become completely passionate about whatever creature may happen into my life, be it mammal, reptile, or whatever type of alien my husband happens to be.

More later.

- mb

12 OCTOBER, 2009

Amnesty at sea | I've been meaning to mention this for, oh, about ten months now, but a long-time friend and fan of the band paid us the ultimate compliment two amnesty, the sailboatsummers ago when he bought a beautiful sailboat and named it after what many consider our best album, Amnesty. The quest began in the spring of 2008, when Ralph set his sights on a Catalina 36 in Long Beach, and didn't come to a conclusion until last May, when Amnesty's retrofit was completed. Ralph's attention to detail is uncanny. He even nailed the font of the album, which I couldn't name for you if I tried.You can read his running account of the many trials and tribulations here.

- Matt

28 SEPTEMBER, 2009

Gray becomes us | Now that I finally have my very own copy of No Line on the Horizon (thank you, Mary Beth and Gibson!), I can blab about U2's new album. As a diehard fan of the band and its music, I'm not very objective, so bear with me.

I tend to lump U2's albums into three categories: (1) soaring, anthem-like rock (Joshua Tree, etc.), (2) visceral indie rock (Boy, etc.), and (3) ambient or experimental rock (Achtung Baby, etc.). I love it all, but I probably enjoy categories two and three the most, especially the latter. I like it when U2 seems lost.

U2: No Line on the HorizonNo Line on the Horizon fits the third group the most closely, although with some caveats. It doesn't transport you somewhere like the murky, otherworldly The Unforgettable Fire, which I often think of as U2's most enchanting, most evocative album. Nor does it ooze the gritty darkness of Achtung Baby, Zooropa, or Pop. Those albums pushed the limits of everybody, including U2's fans. NLOTH does not. While it's clearly not a straight forward rock album (excluding "Magnificent," I don't necessarily hear any of the soaring hits we've come to expect from U2), it's got more in common with All That You Can't Leave Behind (minus the hits) than it does Achtung Baby. It feels safe and familiar, even nostalgic, despite the left-of-center approach. To paraphrase another review I read somewhere recently, although U2 does some exploring on NLOTH, it already seems to know where it's going.

Brian Eno's influence on the album is impossible to miss, which makes sense, since Eno and Daniel Lanois get credit for writing as well as production in the liner notes. Not coincidentally, two of my favorite songs on the album are the moody, atmospheric Eno-esque songs "FEZ-Being Born" and the title track. But overall, NLOTH is a tad too tame, too polished, and too familiar to be considered a truly experimental album.

I'm wondering if I need a fourth category of U2 albums: (4) a kinder, gentler rock. The previous two albums definitely have what one might call milquetoast moments. On All That You Can't Leave Behind, there is the anthem-like "Beautiful Day" juxtaposed against harmless ditties like the playful crooner "Wild Honey." On How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, there is the punkish, goat-throwing "Vertigo" on the one hand and the lovely but perhaps sentimental "A Man and a Woman" on the other. U2 has in recent years begun to write unabashedly poppy songs -- adult contemporary songs -- that don't in the least bit rock. NLOTH is experimental at times, but always within a pretty safe space. It never shocks or provokes.

But I seriously digress. Do I like it? Yes. Despite the fact that the new album doesn't rival anything that has come before it, despite the fact that it frustrates my silly attempts to understand and categorize U2's music, it continues to grow on me and seems perfect for a moody, gray day. We'll likely get a few of those in the coming months.

- Matt

08 SEPTEMBER, 2009

Swiss Family Massacre | A while back Gibson and I started a little bedtime reading ritual where we read something off my bookshelf, which is mostly relatively "high-brow" stuff. I figured, what the heck, he's eight; he's ready for The Metamorphosis. In fact, Gibson loved Kafka's masterpiece, not to mention Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Don't shoot!So when we started reading my ancient copy of The Swiss Family Robinson (given to me by my late Grandpa Kite when I was a kid), I figured this would be a respite from the "serious literature" we'd been reading. Better still, I'd never actually read the book and was excited to experience it for the first time along with Gibson. Well, good grief. The whole book is just a litany of death and destruction. When the boys see something moving in the trees, they shoot it, skin it, and eat it. Then they ask what it was. And when monkeys (erroneously called "apes") make a mess of the family's farm/outpost, the humans respond by massacring forty or so of the poor critters. Later, they poison a bunch to death for being naughty marauders.

If it wasn't for all the violence, we might be hung up on the fact that the fictitious island where the family has been stranded is home to kangaroos, capybaras, and giraffes, among other exotic species (the plants, too, are from all over the world). But as it is, we just can't get over the carnage. Every night when we start a new chapter, Gibson says, "I wonder who they're gonna kill tonight, Dad."

- Matt

21 AUGUST, 2009

Long and puffy | I'd like to be able to say that for the past several months of TWBA downtime I have dedicated myself to getting the band back up and running at a respectable pace. I would love to tell you that I have spent countless hours of my time promoting, marketing, writing, recording, and rehearsing (if you know me in the least, you understand that that last one is EXTRA funny) in a feverish and unending effort to keep this little thing we call "the band" from becoming just one more thing that is placed upon the proverbial shelf, not unlike many other beloved items that used to fit so well but lately seem a smidge too tight. As it turns out, my wedding ring is one such item. Okay, before anyone gets too freaked out here, I'm not speaking of my wedding ring in the metaphorical sense; rather, it really just got too tight.

It happened like this: a week or so back, I awoke to an arthritic-like ache in my ring finger. When I looked down at my left hand, I found my wedding and engagement rings working as a savage team as they attempted to strangle my poor, innocent digit. "Okay," I think, "I'm having a puffy moment. I'm entitled. This too shall pass." So, for a time, I was decidedly calm as I simply waited for my body to "unpuff" as it usually does, once I am upright and hydrated.

Sometime about early afternoon, I was able to successfully remove (i.e., yank) my engagement ring off with admittedly a significant amount of pain and suffering. But I was buoyed by my success. I figured then that it was only a matter of time before the band of gold would follow suit. I thought to myself, "I'll just forget about it for now, try again later, and I'm sure it will come off, no problem." Alas (yes, I really just said the word alas), this little "outward symbol" of our "inner commitment" wasn't going down without a fight. Approximately six hours into the ordeal, I'm having to admit to myself that my usual, sure-fire tricks for unpuffing were NOT working. Fourteen bathroom trips later, I was most supremely hydrated; no need for this body to retain any water. Yet the ring was not budging. By evening, the ring was still in park, and I was starting to feel a bit desperate. I'm prone to claustrophobia, and in my mind my wedding ring was beginning to feel like it was holding my ring finger hostage in an elevator that was stuck between floors. My calm mind set from the morning all but eroded, I brought out the big guns. I tried everything: butter, lotion, several different kinds of oil, dental floss (don't ask), soaking my finger in cold water, placing my hand between bags of frozen peas... to no avail.

By this time, my finger was sporting a rather lovely violet color and was more than just a little achy as it had been at the start of what would become known as a most "harrowing day." It was at this time I began to crack, my inner irrational feelings starting to display themselves on the outside. So it was fortunate for me that Matt, now off work, was coming down the stairs from his office, and ready to espouse much wisdom in the face on this now (as I saw it) hostage crisis. As visions of a delivery room eight and a half years earlier flashed in my mind, I fought off the urge to stick my left hand in his face and yell, "You did this to me! You put this here!" I tried to put on my best "it's all good" face, but who was I kidding? This man has been married to me for sixteen years. He knows that look in my eye. The one that says, "You'd better tread lightly, fella. I am dangerously close to going over to the dark side." And to my great relief, he didn't say, "Use the force, Luke." Rather, he gave me a hug and told me he could see that I was getting "too worked up." And then my betrothed gave me advice equivalent of the kiss of death: "Just try not to think about it."

"Yeah, okay," I replied. And then I proceeded to act like I wasn't thinking about it for the rest of the evening. After Matt and Gibson were in bed asleep, I crept to the kitchen and pulled olive oil from the shelf... nothin'. The "Ring and I" were now a hot item. Indeed, we would spend the night together. In the game between mb and the ring, it was ring 8, mb 0.

The next morning, nothing had changed. If anything, I was puffier. So I did what anyone else would do in a seemingly insurmountable situation: I Googled. My choice of keywords: "stuck ring." To my surprise, it was a vastly well covered subject with any number of "sure-fire" ways to loosen the cylindrical offender. Most of which I had already tried. *sigh* And then of course, the unthinkable: having to have the ring CUT OFF. Um, no. And so, it's with a considerable amount of consternation that I share with you the key to my successful ring-ectomy: Windex. I can't explain it. Who could? I won't try. But at approximately 11:50 p.m., one cool August night in a North Tacoma neighborhood, a desperate (and puffy) woman stood over her kitchen sink, yanking at her finger... moaning, groaning, wincing, grunting, squeaking... and finally, crying "sweet freedom!" for a digit no longer oppressed. sincere apologies to any and all neighbors who were unfortunate enough to witness this: grunts, disturbing facial expressions, and all.

But I digress...

MB's wedding ringI had not planned on revealing ANY of this. It is my usual practice to keep all things "puffy" to myself. When I started this blog, I had this whole other direction in mind. Whoops! Clearly, the ring thing was more traumatic than even I was giving it credit for. My need to purge the drama is now unrelentingly clear. (And more than a little embarrassing.) And until a reputable jeweler can make it one size bigger than it needs to be (fear of future puffiness ensues), my wedding ring will remain "on the shelf." And for those who may be wondering, it will not be joined by the band (or my marriage, for that matter) any time soon.

As for my original intentions for this blog? Well, no worries. They are still alive and floundering.

More later,

- mb

15 AUGUST, 2009

Death panels for straw men | With the crazies going on about death panels and pulling the plug on Grandma, it's encouraging to run across a discussion of the current health care crisis that isn't dumbed down or built on fear. This piece by David Goldhill takes an interesting look at the problem.

- Matt

14 AUGUST, 2009

Toys | If money were no object, I'd get me one of these.
I love how vocal the Chicago Iron Parachute Wah is. It almost sounds like it's saying "woo," instead of "wah." As it is, I'm mighty happy with my
Mojo Hand Analogue Filter, which mines the same territory but in a more fixed yet unpredictable way. Yes, I like to play with toys.

- Matt

01 AUGUST, 2009

Cindy BradyExploding heads | Remember that episode of The Brady Bunch when little Cindy gets her chance to be a *big star* when she is chosen to participate on a local game show? She struts around throughout most of the episode, blond ringlets bouncing, nose in the air, puffed up and full of confidence, and of course, completely annoying all those around her. And then, when it's finally time for the budding starlet to take her place in hollywood history, the *on air* light comes on (it's red of course), and our diva chokes. Indeed, she goes totally catatonic. "Ever see that scene in Scanners where the dude's head explodes?"

I think that about sums it up. How I feel about blogging, that is. The idea is solid, and I believe my words to Matt when he asked me if I would be willing to put a regular blog on the website were, "I can totally do that!" All sorts of "great" ideas going through my head. Full of confidence was I. But somehow, I just never got around to writing down all these great ideas and witty anecdotes that once swarmed inside my head. I'd go to the computer with the inspiration to write and end up just standing there, waiting for my head to explode. And so, that is the story of how "I can totally do that" quickly became, "I'll get to it. I will." And then conveniently "forgetting" about the whole matter until the next time Matt nagged (er, asked) me about it.

This morning, my grace period was over. I was barely done throwing back the dregs of my decaf (yes, decaf; sorry), when Matt downloaded the page here, and physically led me to the computer. And here I stand, talking about 1960s sitcoms and their miniature divas and quoting from Wayne's World. And for those of you who would ask, yes, I'm actually standing.

I read once that caffeine does, in fact, give the brain a jolt, encourages a certain amount of productivity. I wonder if I were to switch back if might be able to more effectively act upon my "blogiful" aspirations. Yes, there would be the irritability, the general jumpiness, and those annoying little heart palpitations... ah, perhaps it's but a small price to pay for maintaining literacy on the fly.

More later. I hope?

- mb

25 JUNE 2009

caulkingWork party | Okay, it's been too long since we've posted an update here. Our lame excuse? TWBA hasn't been a band lately so much as a weekly work party. We get together once a week at Tommy's studio and play with power tools, toxic chemicals, and whatnot. But we are making progress and someday soon will have finished a super fancy studio and rehearsal space.

This extended break from making music has given us much time to think, however, about how we want to move forward with the music, this web site, and pretty much everything TWBA-related. We're still sorting things out, but we'll post more soon on where we hope to take things in the near future.

- Matt

2 MARCH 2009

TWBA gives birth (again) | Sorry for the late update here, but we're proud to announce that Tommy and Tracie just had their second child (technically speaking, Tracie did the birthing). Vaughn Rawley Thew was born Jan. 30, 2009 and came into this world weighing a mighty seven pounds and fourteen ounces. Send mini Les Pauls to the Thew Mansion.

- Matt


21 SEPTEMBER, 2009

With Jen Fox of Way South

Q. I think some TWBA fans are vaguely aware that we had another female voice in the band at one point, but few likely remember there were three one night, when Mary Beth had the flu and you and Brenda Hazen stepped in for several songs at the old Swan Café in Pioneer Square. What, if anything, do you remember about that show? About your brief tenure with TWBA?

Jen Fox of Way SouthA. I remember that it was baptism by fire. This was my first show with TWBA. Two words come to mind: freaked out. I couldn't believe Mary Beth got laryngitis on MY FIRST SHOW. But I also recall it was great fun and the band played spectacularly, despite me. My grandfather was at the show and he was the best fan EVER…he never wore his hearing aid.

I loved being a part of the Army. It was my debut as a rock vocalist, having always clung to the backdrop in true bassist fashion or relegated my singing to show tunes. Who knew I'd front several bands, sing backup for various artists, and still be practicing musical mayhem after all these years.

Q. The four songs available on your MySpace and Facebook pages -- "Ghost," "Gravity," "Smile," and "Isolation" -- all have one-word titles. Other than that, they're pretty distinct from one another. Does Way South consciously try to sound different with each song, or does it just happen naturally? Oh, and as for "Isolation," how many hands were needed for the clap track?

A. I think it is naturally conscious. Organically intentional. We love to experiment, play with time signatures, continually evolve. Everyone contributes to the writing process, which likely accounts for some of the diversity. Wait till you hear the new stuff…

“Isolation” involved 8 hands over multiple tracks. At our last show we had 12 hands and it was claptastic. We'll be lucky if we can fit the minimum 6 hands needed at the Mars Bar on Sept. 25.

Q. Can you tell us more about your band and how it evolved? And what's it like playing with a sibling (as opposed to a spouse)?

A. Way South evolved from the band Julep over the year. Jim and I felt that new drummer + new guitarist + new tunes in a new direction = time to rebrand. Not unlike your own tale, my spouse and I have been playing music together for 17 years, in various iterations of what is now Way South. We are still happily married, if you can believe it. My brother, Mike, joined the fold as our drummer shortly after moving back to his homeland from New Mexico, which was extremely exciting for us. Mike and I can pretty much read each other's minds, finish each other's sentences, and anticipate each other's moves. For some odd reason Jim and I tent to lose our ability to communicate in the band room, thus the difference between playing with a sibling and a spouse.

Karl Haug joined the band about 4 months ago and brings amazing talent and a fresh perspective to our music. He also adds new instrumentation with the mandolin and lap steel. Like I said, wait till you hear the new stuff (next release in January).

Perhaps a carry over from my TWBA days, but I’m a sucker for a backing vocalist. We have three talented vocalists to draw from -- Shannon Carpenter, Kendra Chappell, and Sarah McGray -- and have been known to get them all up on stage at the same time. Shannon will be singing with us on Friday.

20 AUGUST, 2009

With Frank Gaultier

Q. You run a MySpace site and a YouTube page, and you used to keep a blog. What else am I missing? Moreover, what inspired you to so thoroughly immerse yourself in the indie songwriter/band world?

Frank and SophieA. My latest project has been developing a YouTube channel to promote videos. It's very cool because I can send a video to all my YouTube friends, over 1,700 people, in a single whack and I can feature videos and make playlists, etc.

I've also recently started with Twitter but I'm not sure if I'm convinced yet that there's value for music promotion on my scale (a much smaller scale than a major label, for example). I'm game to give it a try, however.

I also do song/artist referrals to radio stations, though this and blogging have landed on haitus for awhile due to health issues forcing me to take a lot more time away from the computer. I'll be back at it, but it's going to be different this time around because effectual blogging more and more requires a constant stream of promotional MP3s and radio stations are in a terrific state of flux lately. One DJ I used to refer to had her program turned into a news show, for example.

The inspiration has been there since childhood. I picked up a guitar for the first time in 1976 upon hearing 'Crazy on You' and 'Dreamboat Annie' by Heart, which led to my own study and writing, but it all really came to a head and exploded around 2002. I got a free download of the song 'Storm' by Hungry Lucy, an indie darkwave/trip-hop band. That same year, by total serendipity, I heard 'November' by Azure Ray (to me the epitomy of "the indie sound'), and a few months later I caught the song 'Nighttime' by Petracovich on a telivision series, and these things eventually led me to MySpace. For decades I starved in wont of fresh, quality music, and upon hitting MySpace I was inundated by it. I'm not sure I slept from 2004 through most of 2007. Thousands of high quality artists I'd never heard of that were just amazing. I wanted, and still do, to find them and keep them around, to have them earning a living with their music. It's an obsession.

Q. Your focus is on female artists, so of course I have to ask you who your favorite male-fronted bands/artists are and why.

Mostly older bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Queen, and Cheap Trick.

For the past 15 years I've remained almost 100% exclusive to female artists and singers. I hate to sound anti-climatic to anyone who thinks I'm on a feminist mission, but truth be told I just prefer the sound of female voices. And while it's true that I do prefer those who write their own material, I can be equally taken by a great voice -- especially those who 'own' what they're singing. It's a slightly blurry line, I admit.

Q. What's the music scene like in Colorado Springs, where you live? Do you get a chance to see many bands play live?

A. We have a music scene in Colorado Springs? The last band I saw live (excluding cover bands -- plenty of those around here) was the Pretenders up at Red Rocks (Denver) back in the early-mid eighties. Colorado Springs is where indie music comes to die.

11 AUGUST, 2009

With Angela Jossy

Q. You wear a lot of hats. You’re a musician and songwriter, a journalist, an event planner, a grassroots organizer, etc. Do you ever find yourself focusing on one thing only, or are you constantly working on all fronts simultaneously?

Angela JossyA. You forgot graphic designer, publicist, entertainment booker, social networking guru, festival coordinator, artist, writer, poet, mother, insomniac, and amateur psychiatrist. *smile* Recently in an article about Urban Pioneers, the Weekly Volcano called me a polymath. I found that kind of amusing, especially since I have no formal degrees of any kind. Like everyone else, I have acquired many skills over the years. Right now I just go where I’m needed, which means I get to do lots of different things for lots of different people. This is great for me because I’ve done the 9 to 5 Monday through Friday thing in the past and it felt very restrictive and draining to my spirit. Now I’m meeting new people, having new adventures, and feeling more alive and creative than I ever have before. It all started with the $100 A DAY campaign I began last year after I got laid off from my job as Associate Editor of the Weekly Volcano. I figured out that I needed to make a minimum of $100 per day to survive financially, so I listed all the things I’m good at and then started spreading the word to all my contacts that I would work for them for one day for $100.00. This plan worked because I’d been steadily building a network of business contacts for the last 10 years. People needed my help and were happy to get it so inexpensively. In 2008 I even picked up a few contract jobs that lasted a few months. That was really cool. I got to plan two really amazing community festivals featuring artists, musicians, and small business owners – three groups of people that I care very deeply about. I try to work within those communities every chance I get.

Q. What is your dream job and why?

A. I’m a very creative person and I do my best work when I’m allowed to follow my little flights of fancy. I think my dream job is being able to do whatever kind of work I feel like at any given time. I also really enjoy helping people. My friend Desiree and I are working on a plan to do both those things simultaneously. We have our eye on a vacant space downtown Tacoma that we’d like to make into an event-based talent playground. We need two more partners in order to make it work, though. Our plan is to feature the creative work of lots of different people, including local bands, visual artists, fashion designers, jewelry makers, interior designers, and anyone else that we think is producing things that are cool and worth displaying. We also want to hold classes and help others explore their creativity. If we find two other people who see our vision, then we’d like to start this new odyssey in October. The working title for the project is Speakeasy.

Q. Your latest event, the Electro-Pop Art Party with Oscillator X scheduled for this Saturday, August 15, cross-pollinates different art mediums. Can you tell me more about what went into planning this as well as what inspired it?

A. Robert Daniel Gallery owner, Robert Stocker, contacted me a couple of months ago and asked if I would be willing to plan a few events for his venue. I came up with the idea to do the Electro-Pop Art Party because pop art and pop music seemed like the perfect combination. I also wanted to test a theory I have about our local music scene. There aren’t very many cool places to go dancing in Tacoma, and I’ve noticed that the electro-pop, techno, and keyboard and/or laptop focused bands seldom play here like they do in Seattle. I hope to change that by either continuing to do shows at this venue or doing the same thing at Speakeasy if/when we get it off the ground.

Robert Daniel Gallery is my favorite gallery because it has displayed some of the most interesting art I’ve ever seen and hosted some of the best parties I’ve ever attended. It’s a wonderful space in a great location downtown and it actually has plenty of free street parking! We are very lucky to get Oscillator X (from Portland) to play in Tacoma. They are just returning from Europe, where they were flown out to perform at the International Arcade Dance Championships - yes, Arcade Dance is a competitive sport! Their music is featured in several video games, and their hit song Dynamo is being played on radio stations across the US and abroad. Locally you can hear it on Tacoma’s KVTI I-91 FM or Seattle’s KNHC C89 FM.

Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door and can be purchased here.

03 AUGUST, 2009

With Lydia Nor of Laguna!

Q. Well, Laguna has outlived its share of bands, genres, and venues in the ever evolving Seattle music scene. What are your thoughts on being an indie musician, circa 2009?

Lydia NorA. The sky is the limit now. We have the internet to really market ourselves and attract the kind of people that really, really want us... even if that is in someplace like Europe and/or outside of Seattle. Mostly, I feel like our music has matured along with our lives. I feel like I actually have something to say now... and more depth. With time and the internet, it makes self-managing so much easier! That's the biggest thing. That... and I feel like I have the confidence to really be the artist I've always wanted to be by... not caring so much what people might think. I see myself as a piece of performance art... being freer than ever. And in 2009, I think that is very possible and very sought-after.

Q. You speak Japanese and have visited Japan at least a couple times, if I remember correctly. Tell me a bit about your connection to Japan and how it has seeped into your music.

A. Well, when I was living in Japan, it was during the height of grunge in Seattle. So I totally missed the whole grunge scene. I don't know if that's good or bad, but in Japan, I listened to lots of jazz because my Japanese boyfriend was really into Miles Davis, Blossom Dearie, Chet Baker, and so on. He also loved the Beatles. So we listened to a lot of that stuff together. Also, US3 was being played all over Japan, which was that band that mixed jazz and hip hop, and so, I started getting into singing in a jazzy style. So, ironically for me, Japan was more about appreciating traditional, mostly American jazz and such. Of course, I sing in Japanese as it's my second language. And my vocal melodies have a lot of connection to Japanese pop music sensibilities... I think. Strange, but after Japan, I moved to France and saw the news of Kurt Cobain's death on French television. I didn't really understand why he was so famous or why so many kids gathered at the Seattle Center (kinda pre internet, ya know?)... what this grunge thing was exactly! It totally perplexed me. What's really funny is that I've only just started to get into Nirvana, 15 years later, and love reading about Kurt Cobain, reading his lyrics and watching him in old interviews. He and Courtney Love are fascinating and aside from all of the drug stuff, I think they truly loved each other. I wish I would have known Kurt and think we probably would have been friends. Really! He was actually quite funny from what I can see, not the whiny grunge boy I stereotyped him as. He was a such a gifted and honest artist. Interesting how Japan took me away from such a HUGE part of Seattle music history. But, in some ways, I feel like that gap has always created a freshness and innocence for Laguna! with me lacking the grunge experience.

Q. I want to talk about "Stop It All," which is the opening track on your 2005 album Outside Casa. The chorus -- I think it's the chorus (the part where you sing the actual title to the song) -- is absolutely, gobsmackingly lovely. Have you had any men (or women) propose to you after hearing it? I mean, we would, if we weren't already happily married. More to the point, how did the song develop, and what inspired it?

A. It's actually funny you talk about getting proposed to and such... as it's my prelude to a divorce song. I actually wrote the lyrics after and somewhat during my divorce. Truthfully, it's based on how one feels when they feel they are trapped in a negative situation and don't know how to get out. At the time, I felt very suffocated and drained by the relationship. Of course, I totally understand how it takes two to tango now. Nonetheless, it's about having the perspective that your partner is stopping you and possibly killing off your ambition or dreams out of jealousy or whatever obnoxious reasons. As of late, I've changed the lyrics to a more hopeful "you start it all," because that is what I am seeking now. That great love that starts you up, makes you happy and buoyant. That's the space I'm in now. So maybe I will be proposed to now... now that I've changed the lyrics to the chorus. In fact, it's impossible for me to sing the old chorus now! Let's hope Laguna! can start it all in 2010 with it's new CD, Volcano!