13th Annual Americana Album Nominee
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Record Label: Self-Released
Home Base: Chicago, IL
Category Entered: Americana Album
Work Submitted: Use Your Voice
Artists Featured: Jonas Friddle & The Majority
Who are your influences?: Crooked Still, Abigail Washburn, Old Crow Medicine Show, Dan Gellert, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings
Describe your nominated work: Use Your Voice is an album of traditional tunes and original songs rooted in traditional American music. There are influences from old-time, blues, swing, and honky-tonk to be found throughout the record. However, it’s not what you might call a traditional sound. We really tried to bring in some new elements and produce a record that reflects the energy of our live shows.
Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording?: Maybe not unusual by themselves, but our combination of instruments is pretty unique. The old-time banjo is seldom found in the company of a French Horn or full string section.
Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned?: The basic structure of the album was ready to go when we started, but we got the chance to try some things out once the foundation was laid. It was cool to have a Hammond B3 in the studio and to play with the all of the tones it has to offer.
How did you raise the funds for this project? How long do you expect it will take to recoup your out-of-pocket recording expenses?: About half of the project was funded through a Kickstarter campaign. We were really lucky to have fans generous enough to help us get the work done. Hopefully record sales will cover the rest over the next couple years.
Why did you choose to submit this work to The 13th IMAs?: We are really proud of the this record and we want to reach people beyond our local fans. The IMAs seemed like just the thing.
What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you’ve achieved it?: As far as records are concerned, you just want to be proud of what you produce. We’re very happy with Use Your Voice.
How will you leverage your IMA honors to achieve your career goals?: Having this badge of approval helps distinguish your work from all of the music people have available. Sometimes that’s all you need for people to give you a chance. Hopefully this will encourage people to give us that chance and we can find new fans and new friends.
Who’s sitting in your audience and what makes your fans unique?: We work to be enjoyable for most anyone. Some people come to dance, some to listen. I don’t think it’s unique to our music and our fans, but we certainly focus on creating a sense of joy in our music. As a band full of teachers we often have students in the audience, which is cool.
What is your guilty pleasure on the road? Any close calls or mishaps while on tour?: With seven people and the day jobs, road trips are few and feel like little vacations. Lots of road food and late nights. No mishaps to date…though driving through Michigan during the winter snowstorms was enough to make us swear off winter touring.
Who are your musical heroes & influences?: There’s a long list of names I could come up with I’m sure, but what has me making the music I make today is the community experience at the core of traditional music. Jamming, teaching, learning, listening are daily experiences for us at the Old Town School and in Chicago.
Are there any songs you wish you wrote and why?: That’s a hard one. “All You Need is Love.” That’s kind of a perfect song isn’t it?
What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans?: I can’t think of any shockers. Though I did have a long period of Rage Against the Machine spinning in my walkman.
How do you discover new music? Do you buy music or are you content with streaming?: I buy music fairly often, but most of my music comes to me live. Chicago is a great city for music and as a teacher at the Old Town School of Folk Music I’m exposed to great stuff every day.
How will musicians make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free?: I would love to know the answer to that!
What don’t fans/audiences understand about the music industry today?: I’m probably in the same category as the fans on that one. When if comes to the business side of things I’ve always done everything from booking to web design to driving the band. I’ve never been involved with what most folks would consider the “industry.”
Are digital singles/EPs vs. full albums the future?: The future…I sure hope bands keep working the art of album making.
Finish this sentence: The music industry is…a mystery to me.
What do you have in the works for the upcoming year?: We are excited to be preparing for the Abbey Road on the River Festival in Louisville, along with other summer shows. After the festival season I’d like to hit the record button again. I love studio work.