Brennan Walden aka Azure Sky shares his honest thoughts about his debut album, ‘End Of A Decade’. A few weeks ago, this 12-track material became available to stream and was promoted all over the blogosphere. So far, it’s getting good feedback from Rock music fans, discover more below.
1 – What do you think motivates you day in and day out?
I find that keeping an organized and aesthetically pleasing environment goes a long way to keep me motivated to create something new. Listening to your favorite artists is great, but digging for new artists and new sounds is where I find the newest inspiration.
Many musicians do what they do with no assurance that anyone will even hear what they’ve created, and if they do hear it, they may not even like it. So what makes me keep doing it? The answer for me is simple. I love creating music. It’s probably the same answer most musicians would give.
I love the feeling of everything else in the world fading into the background and just being in the moment, riding whatever wave the music takes me on.
The combination of the joy of making the music and the awe of seeing it create joy in others is what keeps me writing. Music is such an intangible business because it’s worth is intrinsic by nature. But there aren’t many things in this world that can have such profound emotional, spiritual, and even cultural impacts as music. So in light of that, I think its value is priceless.
I want my music to be my legacy. It will be something that my children and their children can have for as long as little Walden’s walk the Earth.
2 – Why is your debut album entitled ‘The End Of A Decade’?
Funny story… Ten years ago I made a choice to stop spinning my wheels pursuing other career goals. I have a college degree in Fine Arts that I don’t even use. I realized that in order to feel fulfillment and be happy, you have to go after your dream whatever the cost. I was always influenced by other people’s perceptions of me. It took me a long time to simply say, “This is who I am and this is what I choose to do with my life.” For some people that may not be such a circuitous path. My wife, Melanie, is a person that exudes self-confidence and I admire how she never changes who she is from one situation to the next, no matter who she is interacting with. So I guess she rubbed off on me.
This album is the final product of that choice and the support of my family to reach it. I didn’t have a road map to follow so it took a little bit of time. I played local gigs and even formed a band that ultimately fell apart. The saying, “If you want a job done right, you have to do it yourself,” holds true for me. So I invested in the equipment I would need and learned what I could from YouTube and other internet resources.
For a brief glimpse of what my life looked like trying to write, record and produce this album: By day I’m a father of three beautiful kids and by night I’m a pizza delivery driver. I usually get off work between midnight and one a.m. Afterward, I would try to fit in a few hours in the studio. I had to tell myself that it was a marathon, not a sprint. There never seemed to be enough time in the studio even though I knew it wasn’t just myself making sacrifices. It meant only having the evenings on weekends to tuck my kids into bed. It meant my wife and I had a “high” and “bye” relationship throughout the week. Exhaustion creeps up on you after living like that for a while. I didn’t spend ten years strictly working on the record, but the end product was the culmination of a ten-year marathon.
3 – Which other titles were you considering for this album?
There were several actually. I had tossed around the idea of ‘Pages’ and ‘Subconscious’. I originally released an EP called ‘Subconscious’ in 2018 with only three songs — Societal Shedding, My Cup of Tea, and Shy. They have now been re-released with the other nine songs on the full LP.
The only other title that received serious consideration though was ‘Chrysalis’. It was kind of the perfect metaphor for the process of creating this album. Just like a caterpillar emerges from its chrysalis into what it was always destined to be.
However, I felt that this title was a bit too “on the nose.” My good friend Ryan Olterman had already created the stellar album cover with butterflies. The imagery said it well enough. So I decided that my original title (The End of a Decade) was the perfect way to summarize what this album was to me; the end of a decade long chapter and the beginning of a new one.
Oh man. I could write an essay on some of the songs on this album. I can summarize a few of the songs for you.
“I’ll Be Around”, is saying that we spend too much time speculating and arguing about what happens when we die, yet we rarely stop to appreciate the simple beauties and joys all around us. One of my favorite lines in this song is about my son Tristan as he experiences Autumn for the first time.
“Dichotomy” speaks about leaving behind youth and the struggle to find peace amidst chaos.
— “Standing in the epicenter of gravity with no control…I may be living but also, I’m already dying. Amidst all the noise in the rafters, I’m finding some silence.”
“Ishmael” tackles subjects that range from my own theories about the socio-economic paradigms in the world and the indoctrinated ideologies that pervade our culture, to theories about ancient civilizations and extraterrestrial encounters. The title of the song is in homage to the subjects and ideas in the book ‘Ishmael’ written by Daniel Quinn. It addresses the existential crisis of our time amidst the distraction of political and religious rhetoric.
“Goodmorning Goodbye” is the last song I wrote for the album but was a perfect way to introduce it. It is about moving from our first home where we started our family together. Serendipitously, my wife and I lived there for a decade and moved right around the time I released the record. In the opening lyrics, I’m speaking to our dog Titus who is buried beneath his favorite apple tree. Part of me wanted to wait until Spring before moving so I could see it bloom one last time.
“The Optimist” is about maintaining the ability to see the good in others and afford them the benefit of the doubt. It’s easy to become negative about humanity and your place in everything with all that’s been going on in the world.
— “Oh, Trojan horse come knock on my door because you know that I’ll fall for it over and over. I’m not gullible, I’m just an optimist who’s willing to trust.”
“Societal Shedding” has dual meanings, as do many of my songs. It is a sort of love letter and apology to the natural world that humans are devastating. When I look back on who I was in my younger years, I wasn’t who I am today. Change and changing one’s personal beliefs is natural and should not be frowned upon. Embrace yourself as you change.
This album addresses the transient nature of life. The message of the album as a whole is that life is short, so focus on the beautiful things it has to offer; family and your loved ones chief among them.
5 – Can you tell us more about the first steps in your music-making process?
I begin most of my songs by playing chords or fingerpicking on my acoustic guitar. There is sort of an implied melody that comes from the chord progressions that spawns my vocal melodies. Whatever emotion they evoke then draws out the words. I often can’t even explain how the hit they page. It feels like they come from somewhere else entirely.
In the past I would have written the music and lyrics simultaneously, using nothing but my acoustic guitar. For this album, I approached it much like an artist begins painting a canvas, a splash of color here, a shadow there. Each song was built in layers. I tried not to set limitations and rules for what and when things should be added or created. When the inspiration for a part occurred I just went with it.
It was a pretty painstaking process. Sometimes I would fully produce the first verse of a song and build on top of that once the inspiration for the chorus presented itself. Sometimes I had a chorus and no verses, etc. Each song went through several revisions. They became these huge multilayered productions. It’s fun, but also a difficult way to create a track. I probably won’t be producing songs quite this way very often in the future.
That’s difficult. I’m fond of each song for different reasons. Like your kids; you love them all for who they are.
From a production standpoint, I would have to say that “Ishmael” was the most difficult and required the most revision. It has some interesting chord progressions and transitions. A lot of the magic in that song isn’t very perceptible. A lot is going on underneath that creates the final tone and vibe. Also, it tackles an array of difficult topics that were hard to fit lyrically into the structures of the song. I’m quite proud of the final product, though the joy of listening to it has receded, much like my hairline while producing it haha.
I probably enjoy listening to “Sunshine” the most because it features my wife’s bubbly voice and it always brings a smile to my face.
7 – Who has inspired you musically? Why?
My wife has been the subject of many of my love songs. All of my best ones actually.
I would be remiss not to include my mother and father on this list. When I was a kid my dad would play his acoustic guitar at bedtime and in the living room while my brothers and I danced and enacted our theatrics. I remember watching him play and thinking it was like magic. I had no idea what he was doing yet I loved how it made me feel. I had never wanted to learn to do something so badly, then or since. My mother always filled the house with her voice. She sang often and beautifully in a high and melodic ringing tone. She still does. I think that influenced my gravitation toward ballad styles of singing.
Music wasn’t just something that I experienced through the radio. It was alive in my home. I can’t overstate how powerful that is. I went to school to become a game design artist and it wasn’t until I met and married my wife that I realigned my focus to what I believe I was truly meant to do and focus my time and efforts towards being a Musician.
As, for musicians, I was inspired by many of the usual suspects. I was greatly influenced by oldies groups, especially from the ’60s and ’70s. I only learned a couple of songs and some chords before I began writing my own songs. Writing my music was my whole impetus for learning the guitar. I still rarely learn other people’s music, unless my wife or children specifically ask.
8 – Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
I have always wanted to have a band. I think playing in a group is one of the best experiences. To play this album live would be impossible for one person. Some of the songs have four guitar parts going at once. So I’m subtly pushing each of my children toward an instrument to fill out the ensemble haha! I can see my kids becoming my bandmates one day… until they get too cool.
I currently collaborate with my best friend Ryan Olterman on his project “Witness Note”. He is a fantastic poet and lyricist. I composed and produced the music on his debut album ‘Ghost’ which also just dropped on Spotify and Apple. I’m looking forward to working with him on his next project soon as well.
9 – What do you hope is the message of your songs?
I hope people take away a sense of hopefulness. I hope they feel a little lighter, a little less stressed, a little more at ease with themselves. I feel like my music would be a great soundtrack for a road trip. I want it to be fun and exciting, but at the same time provide copious amounts of chill.
When people listen to my album, I want them to feel inspired and think deeply. I hope that my music shows the youth of today that there is more to life than the “look at me” and materialistic culture of music we are currently suffocated by. I believe music is meant to raise us. It has the power to elevate but it requires elevated thought.
10 – Lastly, are you working on anything new?
Always! I write more rapidly than I could ever record. I’ve already got at least fourteen songs ready to go for the next album. I may whittle that down by two or three songs. The working title is “The Letter”. It’s going to be a more stripped-down, intimate sound. It will have a classic vibe and groove. I’m also very excited about the lyrics in these new songs. I think they are some of my best work. I may have some sneak peeks posted on my Facebook soon.
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M.D. Chau Opens Up About Music And New Song “Stand Next To Me”
M.D. Chau is a recording artist and music producer previously known as “Minh.” Today he shares a beautiful single titled “Stand Next To Me,” which carries a message of hope for humanity and a better world. Learn more about him in this interview.
1 — When exactly did you change your artistic name?
With the “Stand Next To Me” release, I decided to change my artist name to M.D. Chau. The main reason is there are so many Vietnamese artists named “Minh” and I just couldn’t come up with some clever name that was congruent with who I am.
2 — Musically speaking, are there any differences between Minh and M.D. Chau?
I think the difference is I’m no longer chasing fame or wealth in my music endeavors. I do well in business and I really don’t need much from the industry or even people in terms of approval or accolades. I want to make honest music and use sounds I personally enjoy. Under “Minh” I was trying to find “my sound” mostly because the industry forced that kind of thinking. Now, I don’t really care about any of that. And the music I make, I don’t need it to become popular.
3 — Do you still see yourself pursuing music as a career or a hobby?
The world may correlate or validate a “career” in art with monetary gain and not for the frequency of works being released by the artist. I don’t look at it that way. It’s always been a career for me and will continue to be, but it’s part of my entrepreneurial career – it’s a creative venture within the whole of my entrepreneurial life and my goals.
4 — Are you ever stuck for what record to make next?
Not personally, as far as creative direction or ideation. If something is not being created, it usually has to do with the time and resources I need to get what I want to create out. I have two songs now in the works and I’m letting it sit a bit so I can come back to it with an evolved perspective. One is called “Good To Me” and one is called “Broken Inside”, both of which I wrote in the studio when I decided to just book the room and see what comes out.
I think everyone does and I do too. I would say that it matters less the older I get and the more I realize how true that opening line from “Ted” the movie is… “No matter how big a splash you make in this world whether you’re Corey Feldman, Frankie Muniz, Justin Bieber, or a talking teddy bear, eventually, nobody gives a shit.”
6 – Your latest single “Stand Next To Me” is awesome! What are the lyrics about?
With the lyrics, I wanted to draw attention to the one thing I think we all have in common as humanity, no matter what our differences are… we want to see our families do well and not hurt. I feel like if we can all get around that, we might just gain enough empathy to come together and figure out a middle ground and stop hurting each other’s families. Because of all this hate and division, that’s all it’s doing. I hope the song can somehow be used to bring us together. If I can get the resources and connections I need, I’d love to do an essay and songwriting contest about unity in middle schools and high schools across the country with a scholarship prize with the theme “Stand Next To Me.”
7 – Who or what inspired you to write this song?
All the Asian hate crimes happening as well as the injustices happening to pretty much every race across our globe. I also always had a vision in my head of all the moms in the world that work so hard for their families, including my mom. And when we act like horrible human beings, we shame them – we shame the family that has been sacrificing so much for us. For another person, it may not be a mother – it may be their father, uncle, grandma, etc… we have to do better as humans, for our family’s sake.
The pianist on my song is also an incredible music director, Rashad Howard. He’s played for some big names in music. He also plays in churches, so when I wanted a choir sound, he got some choir singers from a church he plays for and that’s what we came up with in the studio in a session. They did an incredible job!
9 – Are you already working on your next single?
Yes, there are two I’m working on that I mentioned in the previous question. But, I’m also thinking about re-doing some of the songs from when I was “Minh” and released five albums. Some of those songs I think deserve a new musical effort behind them.
10 – If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
I don’t think artists and songwriters are being compensated enough to make a living, yet songs permeate every aspect of our lives. I wish entrepreneurs could figure out a way to reward artists in their ventures that use music as a vehicle. I don’t think you can expect consumers to step up. I think business people need to consider the hard work behind every piece of music released for their use. I think artists also need to understand that if there’s not a marriage between art and commerce, none of us would be inspired by any of the artists that have influenced us – and that’s true in every artform! Many artists are too difficult when it comes to commercializing their art and they don’t reach someone that probably really needs a piece of what is coming out of them.
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Interview | Questions & Answers With Cultural Vultures
Danny Schneider aka Cultural Vultures is hoping to become the opening act for Coldplay and Black Eyed Peas via Audacy’s new competition. The winner will perform in the biggest concert of the year at the Hollywood Bowl. Get to know the artist better through this interesting interview.
1 — Did you begin playing drums or guitar just as you hit your teens?
Guitar has been my go-to instrument of choice, although I love the piano as well. Drums have always been intriguing to me and love beats and movement. Music takes me to a different place. It opens up parts of my brain that normal thought can’t access.
2 — How have you changed musically over the years?
Well, when I was younger I would listen differently than I do now. I would definitely not overthink or overcomplicate a song and just love it for what it was. Now I’m listening to all of the delicate intricacies that make a song. The arrangement, the melodies. Figuring out the key by just listening. I try to pick out all of the subtle instruments in the songs that you don’t know you are hearing. The melody in a lyric, etc.
3 — What do all your songs have in common?
People have gotten away from albums. Now people listen to a single song because of the platform they are on. I’ll write an entire album and although each song is separate there is a flow and they are all connected by sound. My songs as a whole usually tell a story collectively throughout the album. I will also use the same theme musically. For instance, in my songs, I have a huge orchestral element that I wrote for each song. All of the songs on the albums will have this because even though it’s a Rock song, to me it has to flow with the album. Like a DJ in a club, the transition from one song to the next should be seamless.
4 — Which musician other than yourself have you ever wanted to be?
I don’t think anyone wants to be someone else. There are musicians I admire Like Brian Eno, Trent Reznor, Bjork, and Tricky. I’d say in my opinion Prince was the greatest guitarist the world has seen. Even better than Hendrix. Prince’s biggest downfall was he was brilliant in every instrument so it overshadowed how incredible a guitarist he was.
5 — Is “Catch Hell For Comfort” your all-time favorite song from your catalog?
I am proud of that song and it’s been the one most people know me for. It’s not my favorite though, there are a few I’ve written but haven’t released yet which inspire me and make me giddy at times. As far as ones I’ve written and released I’d say “Time”, or “Surreal Sister” would be my favorites. Time builds on itself like you are walking up a mountain, then in a moment it’s like you are caught in an avalanche and you are falling. “Surreal Sister” to me is a beautiful yet fast-paced song that I love.
6 — Who would you dedicate these lyrics to?
I was the first artist signed to WatchMojo’s new record label SoundMojo. They primarily released my music videos though not my albums. So I would say as far as that is concerned I’m not signed to a label.
8 — We know you’re running to open for Coldplay and Black Eyed Peas at the Hollywood Bowl. Please tell us more.
Well, I was picked with several other bands to open for both of those bands but it’s a voting thing. I would need my fans to vote on Theopenact.com for it to happen. We will see what happens. I just love performing and getting lost in the music on stage.
Haha, usually I’ll sing loud in my car trying to stretch those vocal muscles. Typically I’ll sing a lot of Mad Season songs, I’ve always loved Layne Staley’s voice.
10 — What else can we expect from Cultural Vultures for the rest of the year?
Well, I’m doing a couple more music videos, a live studio performance, and working on the fourth album. We will see what’s next, I’m always ready to keep working and living this adventure.
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The Two Fake Blondes Drop A String Of Hot Remixes, Full Interview Here
The Two Fake Blondes is a husband-and-wife duo based in Seattle, Washington. Since the release of their debut album ‘Out Of The Darkness,’ they’ve been gaining momentum across the electronic music scene. In this interview, we discuss their recent remixes and much more…
1 — Why did you decide to release a string of the remixes?
We really wanted to continue to breathe life into our album, and we thought – what better way to do that than calling up a few of our awesome friends and asking them to offer their own interpretations to songs off of our album via a remix?!
2 — How did these collaborations take shape?
When ‘Out Of The Darkness’ was released last fall, we already had three out of the four artists in mind that we wanted to get involved on remix duty. So in that process, we reached out and asked them to choose a song from the album that stuck out to them. Each of them came back with a song choice and really meaningful reasons on why they chose the song that they did. On the fourth remix, Sherm actually reached out to us explaining how much “Alone” spoke to him on a personal level and how instantly he knew he wanted to remix it.
3 — From a production standpoint, were things done drastically different with each remix?
Yes, each remix was drastically different from the original, which we loved! The most consistent aspect was Hannah’s vocal, but otherwise, everyone tapped into their own magnificent creative workflow and delivered remixes that blew us away. We couldn’t be happier with each one.
4 — All of them sound pretty dope, which one is good for clubs and festivals?
We’ve got Sherm’s Tech-House remix, which is guaranteed to go off at the clubs. Yabe’s Deep House would be a sick poolside party track. Deadman’s Future House remix would surely blow the speakers out on a festival stage and finally, you’ve got Neon Feather’s epic Synthwave/House track that you could listen to literally anywhere. It’s such a good range!
5 —How would you describe your role during the creative process?
When it came to these remixes, we just took our hands off the wheel and handed the keys over to the remixers. Because we were fans of each of their music already, (and had already worked with some) we knew we wouldn’t be getting anything less than fantastic from each of them. We did make tweaks for the final mixes, but otherwise, it was all them.
6 — What philosophy guides your music career?
Hard work and joy. We love to hustle and work hard, it’s literally in each of our DNA – it’s so fun for us! We love seeing results, we love reaping the rewards BUT at the end of the day – are we healthy? Are we burnt out? How is our marriage? We also try to see everything we do music-wise through our fans’ points of view. There’s nothing that makes us happier (when it comes to music) than being up on stage sharing incredible moments with the audience and getting to chat with them after. We’re here to give them an escape and hopefully enhance their lives in some way, big or small. We try to recreate that with our social media experience as well. We love our music fam!
7 — Do you believe being a husband-wife duo makes things easier while working together at the studio?
We’ve built our relationship on mutual respect, trust, and communication. We had no idea how much these traits would translate into the studio! We both also know each of our strengths so we don’t need to step on each other’s toes. We take credit for everything together equally, even if at the end of the day we know who did what. Haha! Ego is always left at the door when we head into the studio.
8 — Have you ever worked on solo projects separately?
Yes, Pete was just Petey Mac for a long time, producing House and Tech-House. Hannah was actually a Country music artist (Hannah Michelle Weeks) for almost two decades!
9 —So far, what’s the best feedback you’ve received about your debut album ‘Out Of The Darkness’?
Besides the positive comments from our fans on social media and personal stories from our remixers, I think the coolest thing has been seeing how many “saves” the songs are getting on Spotify. We all know, you really really have to like a song to make the effort to hit that heart! We’ve had so many amazing blog write-ups as well and feel so abundantly grateful for our supporters in the press.
10 — Musically speaking, what are your plans for the upcoming months?
We are actually having a baby in about 6 weeks! We are going to take some time off of social media and really soak up these last few weeks before parenthood begins – we cannot wait to meet our baby boy! For the rest of the year, we will be writing and working on brand new music for 2023 and working on booking our Summer tour for 2023 as well.