Q&A with Chicago’s V.V. Lightbody

V.V. Lightbody, the moniker Chicago musician Vivian McConnell has coined for her ethereal debut solo project, performs in Bowling Green Wednesday at 10 p.m. at Tidballs. She shares the bill with fellow female acts Homme, a Chicago avant-garde rock duo, and Bowling Green’s Rose Hotel.


McConnell also lends her talents to Chicago’s critically adored indie rock band Santah, in addition to being the front woman of four-piece Grandkids.

With V.V. Lightbody, McConnell said she’s keen on producing a sound that soothes. Her hope is that V.V. Lightbody’s debut record “Bathing Peach,” (which has an unofficial summer 2017 release date) can serve for listeners as a therapeutic escape from the myriad of battles and struggles we confront each day.

“I want V.V. Lightbody to be something somebody can put on if they want to be rocked to sleep, step away for a moment from the shit-show that we face every day,” McConnell said.

Check out an interview with V.V Lightbody below, and follow her on Facebook for tour dates and live videos.

How long have you been making music under the moniker V.V. Lightbody?

I believe I performed under the V.V. Lightbody name for the first time about a year ago, but the solo project has been around for a while (in my head, at least). Being able to choose a name to perform under has been an important transition for me as a musician; it allows me liberties that I felt I didn’t have playing under my real name.

I love the song that you performed for the SNARLED session. I was really struck with how you described the feeling you want your solo project to evoke (how after a day submerged in the ocean you still feel the sensation of waves rocking you). Would you say that is still an accurate description?

This feeling is something very dear to me. On family trips, I would swim in the ocean for so long that I would go to sleep rocking in the waves still. Even though I grew up in the Midwest, I’ve always felt connected to the ocean. I love music that is soothing and cyclical, make it reliable and comfortable. I want V.V. Lightbody to be something somebody can put on if they want to be rocked to sleep, step away for a moment from the shit-show that we face every day.

I also really loved “Fish In Fives,” on your bandcamp page. Is there currently any other place to hear V.V. Lightbody music right now? Can you offer up any details about your debut release?

I am currently recording a solo record, “Bathing Peach,” and all I can say is that it should be no later than summer of 2017. There will be live videos popping up in the near future, but I’m keeping things contained on purpose (although I’ll be touring to get the word out).

You’ve described V.V. Lightbody as nap-rock on your Facebook page. From the small bit of music I’ve heard I’ve come to understand that means tranquil soundscapes paired with equally dreamy lyrics. Am I off on that assumption?

This project has been a really exciting lyrical project for me because I can write from a first person perspective but maintain certain fictional aspects. That being said, I tried to keep my lyrics direct but maintain a certain level of “dreaminess”. I am a huge dream person – I dream every single night and sometimes I wish I didn’t. A lot of these songs mix real life experiences with my subconscious, human life vs. nature, etc. Some lyrics just paint the environment around the person in the song.

Are there any albums/musicians that you would say have been particularly influential throughout the process of writing songs for V.V. Lightbody?

I’ve always had such a fond spot for Devendra Banhart. He’s so delicate and light-hearted at times. His album “Cripple Crow” has been one that I can lean on when I need it, but it still gets weird/groovy in certain spots. I also had a big Brazilian music phase – was crazy about Caetano Veloso, Cartola, Gil Gilberto, Guilherme Coutinho, etc. for a while. Jessica Pratt was really big for me and of course, forever and always, Queen Joni.

What’s it like to reunite with former tour mate Rose Hotel and also just share a bill with a collection of talented female talent? What can attendees expect from your set?

Jordan has been an incredible and inspiring person in my life from the moment we met. Buffalo Rodeo and Santah were touring together about 2 years ago and we instantly bonded. I am honored that she’ll be playing with us at Tidballs and I think the night will be truly special. Home has never been to BG, so I can’t wait to show them a wonderful time. They are one of the best bands in Chicago at the moment and some of the most talented musicians i’’ve ever met. Lots of powerful women doing badass things! This is one of the shows that I’m maybe looking forward to the most on tour.12924534_548090295372603_4641786031239138245_n

rose hotel debuts music video for ‘Worries’

rose hotel, the side project of Buffalo Rodeo singer and keyboardist Jordan Reynolds, released a compelling visual for song “Worries” today. 

The introspective track touches on the pangs of growing up with the vividness of a diary entry, as Reynolds attempts to catch her breath amid the relentless anxieties that play in her mind. 

“Spending each day stoned out in a haze and longing for the things to say / How I feel like I’m slowly fading away, a phantom of my younger days,” she laments. 

The video, shot by videographer Cody Duncum, features Reynolds in front of a projector, black and white family photos flashing on the screen between close-up shots of the Buffalo Rodeo songstress. 

Reynolds said it’s the first of two videos she’s completed and will release for her debut EP ‘flowers by the window”. 

“I’ve never really been a visual artist so it’s brand new for me,” she said. “Working with Cody has helped me see those possibilities so much more. Honestly, being on camera makes me super uncomfortable and I don’t really like looking at myself on video, so it’s kind of a challenge I’m trying to overcome and be more okay with that. This video specifically is so honest, no hair or makeup or special lighting or anything, and being that honest in a medium like video where it’s all right in front of your eyes is terrifying to me by also exactly what I want to do.”

Reynolds has taken her “flowers by the window,” EP, which she released in May, off bandcamp. The promising EP was recorded over this past winter with Scott Gardner when Reynolds was enduring major life changes. Now, in retrospect, Reynolds looks to go in a different direction with rose hotel.

“I’m proud of these but I realize I see rose hotel taking a different direction, one I’m still not even 100% sure of where yet, but I think ‘flowers by the window’ was meant to be a snapshot in time but not a long-lasting representation of the project,” Reynolds said.

“Plus, I’m trying to learn about growth and evolving and letting go of things, and letting go of the EP (at least as far as having it online) felt like the right thing to do. I still love the song and I’m super happy with the video Cody made, so I’ll let a couple of them live on YouTube and that be it.”

A Q&A with Hen’s Alex Kandel



Former Sleeper Agent songstress Alex Kandel brings new project, Hen, to Bowling Green Aug. 5 at Tidballs. Nashville band Moseley and local act Dan Luke and The Raid will also perform.

Check out a Q&A with Kandel below. Kandel discusses her path since Sleeper Agent parted ways (including a stint on NBC’S “The Voice”) and finding her voice in country music’s capital.

When did Hen form?

Hen formed a few months ago when Brian Zaremba and I decided to take all the songs I had stored away since Sleeper Agent ended and make something of them.

How have your experiences post-Sleeper Agent influenced you as an artist?

I think Sleeper Agent ending forced me to grow as an artist. Tony was primarily the writer in Sleeper Agent, so from the age of 16 on I always had him around. I was suddenly alone in an apartment in Louisville with no upcoming tours, no interviews, no internet. So I started writing. ‘The Voice’ was a weird detour on my road to discovering my voice away from Sleeper Agent. It was a strange, surreal experience that more than anything made me realize a lot of things I didn’t want as an artist, and that I wasn’t emotionally ready to just jump into some sort of solo career.

Can you describe Hen’s sound and what you are aiming for lyrically?

It’s always difficult to talk about your own sound, but I think it’s hooky. I think writing my own music has really given me the chance to push my vocals. Lyrically, I’ve been writing a lot about sexuality and a particular break up that left me in Nashville broke and starting all over again. But more than anything I want my lyrics to express my version of femininity.

Would you say you are drawing from different influences for this project?

I think Brian brings a whole new set of influences and and instincts that it would be crazy for me to worry that Hen is too similar to Sleeper Agent. But at the same time of course the influences I have as a vocalist are tied to me, not just Sleeper Agent.

What kind of energy can fans expect from the live show?

It’s still me so there is a lot of hair moving around. There will always be sweating and dancing.

Can we expect a proper release from Hen in 2016?

I have no idea. We’ve been recording at a proper studio, and have some ducks beginning to get into rows, but no definite timeline. I’ll probably put out a video for a song or two soon.

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Q&A with Positrak’s Ryan Gilbert


Positrak is a newly hatched rock and roll act from Bowling Green, the brainchild of Buffalo Rodeo drummer Ryan Gilbert. The band will play tonight at Rocky’s Bar in Bowling Green.

Check out a Q&A with Gilbert below. He dishes on how the The Ramones changed his life forever, embracing positivity and evolving as a musician.

Talk about influences you draw from for Positrak? How would you describe the band’s sound and live show? How many shows have y’all played at this point? 

The Ramones Mania tape changed my life. I would get a coffee from Spencer’s and listen to the tape and it would always cheer me up no matter what mood I was in. I would change the sad words to be happy ones and sing them really loud. A lot of my favorite bands sing depressing music like The Ramones or most of my favorite contemporary musicians, so I wanted to write music that was still sometimes mean sounding as far as the notes but was always positive. I couldn’t sing a sad song every night if I was lucky enough to sing these songs every night. Our sound is rock’n’roll. I know that’s kinda vague, but we are trying to highlight going as hard as we can with music and energy and doing whatever it takes to entertain. The main goal is to entertain. We are heavy sounding but try to also sound happy and thought-provoking. We mostly try to have the greatest times of our life while being lucky enough to have the chance to make others happy. I have thousands of influences, but in Positrak I think at times we sound like The Ramones, Sabbath or Nirvana at our best, but with simple songwriting. The show tomorrow will be our third.

Is Positrak just a side project to fill the creative gaps between Buffalo Rodeo’s endeavors? Or is that an unfair assessment? 

I’ve learned everything I know about music from two things: my family and Buffalo Rodeo. So they have everything to do with the music and aIso any aspect of my life. They taught me a lot. Buffalo Rodeo will always be a huge influence. They are my family and push me to grow as a musician and a person. They also push me to like different types of music that I have fallen in love with. If it wasn’t for my friends getting into certain types of music I wouldn’t given the music a second look. Because I knew my friends were into it I thought it was cool or it grew on me. That being said, Buffalo Rodeo has everything to do with Positrak. It’s what pushed me to do music in the first place. The music doesn’t play by the same rules though. I am a very elementary guitar player who writes simple songs, while still trying to create a hook. Buffalo Rodeo is much more skilled at their art. They support me in every way. They are my family just like my mom and dad and sister and girlfriend, Sam. Because of my friends in Buffalo Rodeo and my mom and dad I found out how much fun making music with friends can be. I’ll never not do that. Creating music on the drum set is different the writing it on guitar. On the drums I am trained to support the piece of music as best as possible. It’s like if you were a car painter. You don’t build the car you only paint it. I love it. With Positrak I build the car then have others paint it or trick it out as much as possible. In Buffalo Rodeo I’m lucky enough to play with extremely talented artists who I have learned a lot from and who push me to always be evolving as a musician and as a human–and for that I will never be tired of or ungrateful for.

What are you aiming for with this project? Positivity seems to be a key component. 

With this project I am working really, really hard to make others happy and to have the greatest time of my life also. Go as hard as I can to entertain as many people as I possibly can with the people I love. To have the greatest time of my life with my best friends. I wanna make everyone fell welcomed and have no stress, only have fun. Never force anything and have an amazing time.

How much material do you have for Positrak? Is there any material online? 

I’ve been writing songs for Positrak for about a year now which is hard to believe. I probably have 15 songs. Plus more that are not done. Me and Tyler Cook are working on a song to release about my girlfriend Sam. I can’t wait he’s an amazing dude. I have some material recorded on a Tascam recorder at home. I’m learning a lot about how to record and as soon as possible will put some funny demos out.

Who all is in the band? 

In the band I’ve got Ricky Ortiz. He’s been like family to me since middle school so we wanted to start a band together. We started writing songs together about a year ago and he learned bass as I learned guitar a little better. Zach Preston plays lead guitar and drums some. He’s the dude singer in Buffalo. Tonight Nate Davis is playing organ which I’m super hyped about. He stays super busy with Buffalo Rodeo creating art so he plays with us when he can. It’ll be his first show with us. David Hall play drums and will end the set in guitar tomorrow. He’s another friend from high school and someone I’m super excited to have in my life.

Talk about the bands that are playing with Positrak tonight at Rocky’s? 

Tonight Shy Boys are playing. They are one of those bands that I don’t think come along very often. Buffalo Rodeo got to play with them on tour and they blew us away. Super composed, confident, cool rock and roll. They make rock and roll roll look very easy which I think is so tight. Fullbloods are a super sick rock and roll band that has some psychedelic and R&B influences. I haven’t gotten to see them live yet so I’m really pumped.


Former Sleeper Agent frontman releases ‘War Paint’ from new solo project

“I feel we’re at war again, unholy war again,” Smith sings, with back-up vocals provided by Nashville musician Lauren Strange, over a beat that sounds like it could easily be on an unreleased Grimes song.
 Over the brooding 3:48 track, Smith recalls a turbulent friendship, lamenting the pangs of letting go of a once strong bond with wisdom.

“Now  only the ash of us remains / I wash my hands and walk away,” Smith confesses.

Check out a Q&A with Smith below.
Sonically, TEEM definitely seems to stray away from the sound that defined much of Sleeper Agent’s recordings, in the fact that it seems to be heavily influenced by electronic music. Can you talk about bands/artists you were influenced by for this project? 

Q&A with songwriter Zach Vinson

2015-Promo-Smaller-1024x575Nashville-based songwriter Zach Vinson plays Tidballs tonight with Thee Japanese School Girls.

After a four-year hiatus Vinson released most recent effort “How We Spend Our Days,” in 2015. Check out my q&a with Vinson below. He dishes on overcoming self-doubt, his songwriting progress and the eclectic influences he draws on.

How long have you been making music? 

I started playing piano when I was 8 (and mostly hated it) and guitar when I was about 14, which is when I joined my first band. I played with those guys until I was 19, which is when I started doing the solo thing (roughly 2006). I moved around a bit, ended up in Nashville in 2010, and have been there since.

 How would describe your songwriting process? Do lyrics come to you first sometimes? 

Writing is kind of a mysterious process that I don’t always understand. The Nashville way is to view it very much like a machine, and I see that there are some good aspects to that mindset, but that hasn’t really worked for me. The music often comes first for me, playing around until I land on an idea I like. I’ll usually start filling in some lyrics with an idea of what I think the concept for the song is going to be, and those lyrics usually end up getting scrapped by the time I finish. It’s hard to force a song to be about something that it’s not ready to be about. A lot of the times, I’ll finish (or nearly finish) a song, grow to dislike it more and more, ignore it for a while, then come back to it months or years later and re-work it into something I’m satisfied with.


Talk about your biggest influences? Any music you’ve discovered lately that has resonated or been inspiring? 

Probably the most obvious influence is Ben Folds, since there aren’t a whole lot of other male-fronted quirky piano rock bands. But there are a lot of other things hiding in the background: Ben Kweller, Nada Surf, Weezer, Over the Rhine, classical music, jazz, etc. As far as recent discoveries go, I’ve been listening to a good bit of Julien Baker, Noah Gundersen, and Courtney Barnett in recent weeks.

 I read that you took a four-year hiatus between releases. As a creative minded person I deal with a lot of self-doubt, was that a layer to wanting to take time off? What’s it been like to come back and continue to craft intriguing music after the hiatus? 

Self-doubt was part of the equation for sure. For a lot of years, I had the mentality of keeping my head down, working as hard as I could on music, and hoping I ended up in a good place. Then one day I lifted my head up, looked around, and realized I wasn’t sure what path I was on and if it was one I was even enjoying anymore. In this day and age, it’s not like the world “needs” me to keep playing music, you know? I still wrestle with that at times…am I adding to the conversation or adding to the noise?

So I took a few steps back and simplified things to the point of saying, “I want to make music today.” And so I would make music. and the days I didn’t feel like that, I didn’t make music. I really didn’t know if I would ever pursue it seriously again. Eventually the joy and wonder of creating music started to come back, and I made some healthy changes in the way I think about writing, performing, and being an artist.

 What can attendees expect from your live show? 

I’m traveling with a full band, so it’s a pretty high-energy rock show for the most part. If you threw Ben Folds, Ben Kweller, and Weezer together in a blender, it would probably come out in a weird puree that sounds something like this.

 This your first time playing Bowling Green? Are you familiar with the music scene here at all? 

This is indeed our first time in BG! I’ve tried to book shows here a few other times, but it hasn’t worked out. It’s so close to Nashville, that it’s a perfect place to start or end a run of shows, so I hope we can make it a regular stop in the future. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Tidball’s, but I’m not super familiar with the rest of the scene, so I’m excited to meet a few people and learn the ropes a bit.


BG Psych Fest will feature 10 bands, local artists

Local music and art with psychedelic influences will be celebrated during today’s first-ever Bowling Green Psych Festival. 10 local and regional bands will perform throughout the day.

The shows will take place at the FFOYA House, 1035 Kentucky St. and neighboring Astro Turf, 1039 Kentucky St., from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. Doors for the event will open at 2 p.m.

An art show featuring the works of more than a dozen artists will be on display. The event will also feature psychedelic face painting and a tie-dye booth.

The shows are all ages. Admission is a suggested $5 donation that will benefit the supporting bands.

Schedule of shows.

3:00 at Astro Turf – Positrak

3:45 at FFOYA House – YORK

4:30 at Astro Turf – The Medium

5:15 at FFOYA House – Feltod Mavous and the Joyful Sound

6:00 at Astro Turf – Ghost Effects

6:45 at FFOYA House – I’m an Island

7:30 at Astro Turf – Astronomy Club

8:15 at FFOYA House – Former Friends of Young Americans

9:00 at Astro Turf – Buffalo Rodeo

Review: Mitski delivers profound ‘Puberty 2’

When I stumbled across Mitski Miyawaki’s bandcamp page toward the end of 2014 I remember feeling like I had struck gold. On the brilliant “Bury Me At Makeout Creek,” her voice was resilient, though at times shaky, tinged with melancholy as she recalled lost love and the voids left behind once it crumbles. Her lyrics made me feel alive and less alone in the world.

“I want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony / And I want a kiss like my heart is hitting the ground,” she sings on “Townie,” a portrayal of the pangs of post-adolescent existentialism.   

Mistake released her fourth record “Puberty 2,” June 17.

Much like the heady, profoundly honest nature of her previous albums, Mitski’s fourth LP finds the songwriter coming to terms with imperfect love and the messy nature of existing.

Album opener “Happy,” opens with a jilting, yet intoxicating drum sample and displays Mitski’s uncanny skill at crafting narratives that display the complex nuances of emotional vulnerability. After a lover has his way with her and leaves without a trace, she’s left alone, again, to clean up cookie wrappers and empty cups of tea.

“If you’re going take the train so I can hear it rumble, one last rumble / And when you go, take this heart, I’ll make no more use of it when there’s no more you,” she sings, beckoning a masterfully placed saxophone interlude.

Mitski’s discography is rife with sad songs, but she isn’t wallowing. Her cutting observations on love and twenty-something growing pains are profound.

On “Fireworks,” she sings of compartmentalizing sadness, pain and anger–all the emotions that keep a young person alive.

“One morning this sadness will fossilize and I will forget how to cry,” she confesses.

On the track she acknowledges being an adult often means suppressing certain emotions to maintain a sense of normalcy and balance–that is until they come bubbling to the surface without warning.

“And then one warm summer night, I’ll hear fireworks outside / And I’ll listen to the memories as they cry, cry, cry,” she coos in the chorus of “Fireworks”.

Album closer “A Burning Hill,” finds Mitski coping with the weight of sadness and the fleeting nature of happiness. She’s choking back disappointment as she buttons up her white button-down, confronting another new day.

“I’ve been a forest fire,” she admits. Mitski closes the wistful track with wisdom.

“I’ll go to work and I’ll go to sleep and all of the littler things / I’ll love some littler things.”

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Blue Kentucky Girl: Kentucky bred country singer Waldon debuts lead single from ‘I’ve Got A Way’

The grit caked beneath an overworked coal miner’s fingernails. The simultaneous sinking hurt and rage of seeing a philandering lover with another woman beneath the neon lights on lower Broadway. The allure and escape of smoky honky-tonks where wannabe country stars and undiscovered legends sing their souls away over in the corner by the bar. The splitting headache that wakes you the morning after like an old friend. The plight of the impoverished scraping by on menial wages. Flawed, misunderstood folk fighting the urge forget their troubles momentarily by spending the bills on beer, liquor, pills—anything to get their minds away from where it’s supposed to be.

These are just a few of the portraits country singer Kelsey Waldon deftly captured on her stirring 2014 debut full-length record “The Goldmine.” Waldon’s unfeigned southern drawl and razor sharp lyrical style conjures the world-weariness that defined Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette’s most iconic recordings. Waldon calls Nashville home, but the Monkey’s Eyebrow, Ky. native draws from a well of inspiration that came the result of growing up in western Kentucky life.

The Kentuckian will release her sophomore album “I’ve Got A Way,” on Aug. 12. Waldon performed a batch of new songs that will appear on the record for NPR’s Nashville Sessions, which was released June 6.  “All by Myself,” the record’s lead single, is currently available on iTunes and Spotify. 

On slow-burning album closer “The Heartbreak,” Waldon swallows the bitter pill of lost love with the wisdom of an old soul.  “So I just wanted to thank you for the heartbreak and for the good times I know that were there / And everything I gave remains one and the same, one day we’ll all meet in the middle somewhere,” Waldon sings wistfully on the track.

An interview with the rising country singer will appear in Fringe Zine’s first issue.


Buffalo Rodeo releases video for ‘Lana (Del Rey)’

Bowling Green’s indie psychedelic band Buffalo Rodeo released a new music video today for track “Lana (Del Rey)”.

You can view the music video here. It was premiered on The Wild Honey Pie, a music blog based in Brooklyn, Ny.

Buffalo Rodeo plays tomorrow at the Caledonia Lounge in Athens, Ga. 13315481_1110387422334053_3478962480184608679_n