Category: Interviews

In Bloom Interviews: Pearl Crush

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Pearl Crush is a rising talent from Houston, Texas mainly using synths, drums and hypnotic vocals. Consisting of producer and vocalist Mandy Kim Clinton, Pearl Crush landed a set at the inaugural year for the In Bloom music festival. As a breath of fresh air in the music realm, this was no surprise. We were able to get in contact with Pearl Crush and take a deeper look into origins, thought process and influences. With an EP soon to be released in June, we were also able to get a taste of what to expect.

Pearl Crush is pretty unique, how were you able to come up with the name?

I knew I wanted to the word “pearl” in my name. I was, at the time, very fixated on waves and liquid, so I liked the imagery associated with a pearl. I liked that it had this feminine connotation. Pearls are formed out of agitation, and my music oftentimes comes from a place of agitation or unrest. When I think of a mollusk making a pearl, I see this little animal working and working and churning until it makes something beautiful and soft out of this irritant that invaded its shell. The process of making music has always been this for me. Writing allows me to ruminate on things that are bothering me in a productive way, and the result is something precious that I can share with others.

When did you realize music was a something you wanted to pursue seriously?

A couple of years ago. I was playing in my former band The Lories, and it wasn’t going the direction I wanted it to quickly enough. Partially it was the frustration of wanting to be further along in my music career that helped me realize I wanted to make it a larger part of my life. I’ve been writing songs for over a decade but didn’t really have any recorded music, which I was unsatisfied and insecure about. I realized that no one was holding me back from that process except myself. I started writing songs for Pearl Crush a little over a year and a half ago. I bought my first DAW and interface, and recorded and released my first physical record last winter, which was a two song 7”.

It is the first year In Bloom takes place in Houston. How does it feel being a part of that especially being from Houston yourself?

It felt great to be a part of the first In Bloom! There was an energy and excitement throughout the park all weekend. Our moods are so tethered to our environment and climate. It felt like everyone knew the oppressive summer heat was coming, but not quite yet! After my set on Saturday I was able to just relax and enjoy the music with the bayou breeze humming in the background. It was all pretty stress-free, and I’m grateful for the opportunity, especially to play alongside such great local bands and friends.

Was there anybody you were excited to watch at In Bloom?

I wanted to see Lil Uzi Vert, Sylvan Esso, H.E.R., the spectacle that is Broken Social Scene, and a few others whose sets I unfortunately missed.

After performing many times already, are there still moments you get nervous? How do you get in the mode before heading out on stage?

Yes, I definitely still get nervous! I have actually had pretty bad performance anxiety since I was a teenager, but I’ve worked through some of it. I’ve started to enjoy performing, and I hope it continues to get easier. Right before a performance I go off on my own for a little walk. I stretch and do some vocal exercises. It helps to stay focused on a task and to keep my body moving right before I go on.

With your new EP coming out soon, what can we expect?

I’m not quite ready to reveal the name of my new EP yet! It’s coming out in June on the label Poison Moon, which I co-own with ex-punk rocker, power-pop heartthrob Kirke Campbell! The EP is a lot more spacious sonically than the previous release, which created room for more poignant vocal performances. I pushed myself vocally in ways I hadn’t before. I also started incorporating programmed synths and drums into my production. I’ve crossed over to the electronic pop realm.

What was the creative process and some of the influences behind this project?

I started listening to ambient music about a year ago, and it really opened up my ears to electronic production. I was much more focused on individual sounds on this record. Ambient musicians/composers are so great at world-creating and sound shaping. Pop is obviously much different than ambient music, but I was wanting to bring a touch of that into this EP. I’m a very melody-driven writer and producer. I tend not to play with effects that much and like to let the notes do the communicating, but I was doing more tweaking of sounds and textures on these songs.

I wasn’t in the best place mentally and emotionally when I wrote this record. I had been struggling with putting myself out there as a musician, and I was also confronting parts of my identity for the first time in my life. It’s hard to put yourself out there as it is, and it sucks to feel dissected by others who don’t really know you. I’m very aware of the fact that women of color are especially scrutinized by society. We’re often perceived as one dimensional. I feel like a lot of women and WOC feel like they have to be everything, otherwise they’re just that one thing. There are stereotypes about women that look like me, but those tropes are like polar opposites of each other. Asian women are either sweet, submissive and kawaii, or cutthroat, cold and blindly ambitious. Trying to “prove” to others you’re more complex than that can feel like a sordid act of trying to balance on a spinning top. Be nice, but don’t be passive. Be confident and ambitious, but not too ambitious or arrogant; otherwise people won’t see you as relatable or worthy. They won’t care about your art. Otherwise people will just see you as that stereotype, when you actually have so much more to say. It’s a really exhausting thing to want to be seen as a full, complex person by society sometimes. I was writing about these feelings a lot on this upcoming release.

Any words of wisdom for the fans out there?

Know who your people are, and stay true to them and yourself.




ACL Interviews: Melanie Martinez


At just 19, Melanie Martinez has used every ounce of her budding creativity and sharp eye for aesthetic appeal. Her distinctive look and spell-binding voice made her a semi-finalist on season 3 of The Voice at 16 years old, captured the attention of American Horror Story execs, and recently got her a record contract with Atlantic Records. She just released the music video for the eerie and haunting “Carousel,” and dressed in a fluffy pastel bunny outfit, Melanie sat down with us last weekend at Austin City Limits Music Festival to discuss her upcoming LP Crybaby, her song being featured in the American Horror Story: Freakshow trailer, and what she learned from being on The Voice.

How do you like ACL so far?

It’s really cool. It’s so exciting watching artists I like and just seeing people have a good time and dance and stuff.

What artists have you seen, or who are you most excited to see?

I saw Eminem! I love him. I also saw Lana Del Rey, Major Lazer, and Iggy Azalea. My friend actually dances for Major Lazer.

You were on The Voice when you were 16. Why did you choose The Voice over, say, American Idol, and what were some of the most important things you learned in the process?

I wasn’t really doing anything besides writing songs in my bathroom at the time, and I didn’t really play any shows. So I went out on a limb and saw this ad online for The Voice and thought “why not?” So, I went to the open call at Javits Center, and I just kept getting further and further. I actually auditioned for American Idol when I was 15, but I didn’t make it anywhere. It’s not something that I really wanted to do, it was just something that I did because I had nothing to lose. There was nothing else to do in Long Island.

The biggest thing I learned was just how to perform under pressure week-to-week on live television. I think that awesome to go through before actually starting your career because now when you eventually get on TV again, it’ll be easier. It’s definitely like a boot camp. You go under lots of stress and stuff, so now I feel like I can handle stress a lot easier. It was definitely a huge learning experience for me, and I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing now.

You recently got signed to Atlantic Records (congrats) after you had been releasing material independently. What is the process like after you get off The Voice? How does that all work?

After I got off The Voice, I just started playing shows and kept working at it and writing. Then I got a publishing deal with Warner and just started writing a lot. Then I came out with my single “Dollhouse,” and then earlier this year Atlantic signed me. Now I’m finishing up my album, and it’s going to be released beginning of next year. It has been really fun and definitely an interesting process. Most of it has just been me playing live and preparing myself for playing shows later on.

Read More: ACL Interviews: Melanie Martinez


ACL Interviews: Emily Wolfe

Emily Wolfe is quite steadily climbing up the Austin music scene. After graduating from St. Edwards University in 2012, Wolfe has made a name for herself in the Central Texas region and has recently garnered the attention of staple news sources such as MTV, NPR Music, Paste Magazine, and more. Her soulful, hard-hitting music is most often described as “folk rock” but can thoroughly be understood by listening to her two 2013 EP’s, which she says span completely opposite ranges of her musical stylings. We sat down with Emily and her band members Hannah Hagar, Sam Pankey, and Jeffrey Olson at Weekend 2 of Austin City Limits to talk about their new EP Roulette, what it’s like being a musician in Austin, and more.

How is ACL so far?

EW: Last weekend we play an after show, and that was great. It was a lot of fun.

Who have you seen, or who are you most excited to see?

SP: Outkast!

JO: I really wanna see Mac DeMarco!

HH: Childish Gambino.

JO. They’re just all awesome.

Can you talk a little bit about your music background and how you guys came up in the Austin music scene? 

EW: Hannah and I met in college, and we started writing songs together. We started out just as a duo, and it was more acoustic stuff. Then we got an electric guitar together and started to do more rock and roll stuff. Then we met Sam and Jeff, and we started playing more band stuff, and now we have new member Jack in the band, and he makes it all really full-sounding, so that’s really great.

JO: Sam and I met at UT, and we were both there for music. And Jack and I have known each other since high school — we were both musicians.

Artists constantly praise Austin for how great it receives them at shows, etc. Do you think the city of Austin is the perfect place for artists like yourselves to make a name for yourself? 

EW: Austin really is great. There are so many artists and so many opportunities, and it is such a creative city that you can’t go wrong being a musician here. I feel like people here really just know how to watch music, and that’s pretty awesome, too.

SP: I also kind of feel like there’s a downside to there being so many musicians here, though, because that means there’s so much competition compared to other places. If you were a band in a small town in, say, Michigan, then it would be pretty easy to get people to come out to your shows and to be the most popular band in that area. But nonetheless, it’s the perfect city to be a musician and be creative.


You released two EP’s in 2013, Mechanical Hands and Night & Day, and have said that stylistically they’re very different. How are these EP’s different from each other?

EW: Well Night & Day is just very, very different from Mechanical Hands. It’s very acoustic, and basically it’s just very low-key and “for the moms.”

HH: No!

JO: It’s for everyone!

EW: No, it is for everyone! It’s just that my mom is really into it. It’s like a mom thing.

HH: Night & Day is like the rainy day, you want to listen to some music under the blanket type of music. It’s pretty romantic.

EW: Mechanical Hands is just full band, and the lyrics are more abstract and not as straight forward like, “Oh, romance!” It’s more like you gotta think about it more and put your own meaning to it.

Read More: ACL Interviews: Emily Wolfe


Oh Honey Talk New ‘With Love’ EP

Oh Honey Color Photo 3-Jesse DeFlorio

For what it’s worth in the current music industry, pop-folk duo Oh Honey have made it a point to infuse their soulful, sunny tunes with a sense of feel-good positivity, and in my opinion, that’s really something we need right now. The duo, made up of troubadours Mitchy Collins and Danielle Bouchard, have recently signed with Atlantic Records and embarked on a tour with James Blunt throughout May. We sat down with Danielle and Mitchy to talk about their new With Love EP, being featured on Glee, and more!

Tell me a little more about your ‘With Love’ EP – what inspired the songs on it? 

We write about our lives, loves, and everything in between. Sometimes it’s easier to put something into a song than it is to say it to someone’s face. We write about things we go through and things we wish we were brave enough to say. We chose the four songs on the ep because they all share a message of optimism while still remaining really honest.

Overall, your music seems very happy, bright, and refreshingly positive. What’s your goal with the music? What is the main thing you wish to get across to your audience?

There are enough sad songs in the world, and we hope people will gravitate towards the positive message of our music. Life happens to everyone, but it can’t rain forever. There’s always hope.

Are you excited to be touring with James Blunt? 

We have had the best time on tour with James Blunt! The first show of the tour was at the Bell Centre in Montreal in front of 7,000 people–it was incredible and such a surreal experience. James himself is an amazing performer and we have learned a lot by watching him onstage every night. We’re super thankful he took us out on tour.

Your song “Be Okay” was recently featured on Glee and has been gaining lots of popularity. Why do you think that is? 

We were so honored to have our song featured on “Glee”– it was crazy to watch it performed on tv. The response has been overwhelming and we are really excited about it. A lot of people have told us they feel inspired by the positive message of the song and that it’s given them hope during hard times which is a really amazing thing to hear. The song is also all about great summer vibes, which I think people are more than ready for after such a long winter!

What do both of you wish for Oh Honey to achieve in the coming months? Any big things we can be waiting for? I saw you recently signed a big Atlantic record deal. 

We are really looking forward to finishing up our tour with James Blunt and then hitting the road this summer with The Fray! We are playing some legendary venues like Red Rocks in Denver– it’s gonna be an awesome two months. Atlantic has been amazing to us and we couldn’t ask for a better, more supportive team. We’re excited to be on tour for the next three months, so make sure you catch us at a show!


SXSW Interviews: Panama


Australian trio Panama have recently released their sophomore EP, Always, which has been described as “hopeful house” music. And according to what frontman Jarrah McCleary had to say about the music when we sat down with him, that seems like the perfect description. Check out our interview below, where we discuss SXSW, Australia crowds vs. Texas crowds, and what he thinks about having success in the US music market.

How is SXSW so far?

It has been really busy and hectic. The hardest part is probably just adjusting to the time zone here, actually because Australia is quite a bit ahead in time. We had a great show yesterday with people singing along to the words, which was surprising. I haven’t had enough time to see any shows of the artists I like. I’ve just been trying to get as much sleep as I can try rest the voice, especially for those high notes.

How would you say the Texas crowd differs from the Australian crowd?

I think they’re quite similar in that they’re very friendly. I wasn’t expecting such a warm response. Sydney is quite similar, and the music taste is actually similar, too. I was listening to the radio here as I came in, and a lot of the popular music here is also popular in Sydney. It might be a social media thing now with Soundcloud and stuff like that. Music travels so fast.

How would you describe the sound on your new Always EP compared to your first EP?

A little more intimate. It’s coming more from a personal viewpoint compared to the first EP which had some more concepts of dance music within it. The Always EP can be performed a little bit more acoustic and is about using that particular style of writing and then coming in through a personal standpoint and addressing some things that I needed to address and haven’t addressed in a while. You look back on something and you’re like, “Oh! Now I know what that was about.” It’s kind of like a realization for me. Always is really just a realization for me of things I’ve done repeatedly in the past and pull from. It’s definitely a little deeper – not that the first one wasn’t, but it was just an experimentation.

Your music has been described as “hopeful house” music. In a few words, how would you describe your music to a naked ear?

The music comes from an emotional place. That’s the first thing I would say about it. If I were to describe it, I would say that if you feel something from it, and if it provokes something inside you that means something to you – that’s what I’m going for. It does come from a positive place. I guess I do a lot of writing when I have extreme downs, but I also have extreme ups where I feel good all the time, and my music kind of appeals to those emotions.

You just signed with a new US label. Could you tell us more about that?

Yeah! It’s called 300 Entertainment, and I’m really excited. They decided to step in and release the Always EP. It’s a really, really exciting time to see what’s going to happen. We just got to meet some of the people from 300 in the past couple days, and it’s really fun to have a team in a whole different country. So, at this point in time, it’s just really exciting.

You’ve had a lot of radio success overseas and in Australia. Do you think it’s harder to break out in the US, and if so, why?

Well, the US is a massive country with an incredibly diverse culture. I find that each state is almost like a different country. Say, California and Oregon. It’s different! So I can only imagine how hard it is to reach so many different personalities. Just to get the positive response we have gotten in the states so far is really surprising and positive, because I wouldn’t think about that if I was just in the studio at home, on the piano, writing. It all just happens to bloom out like it does. So, for me it’s all a bonus.

You’ve performed with acts like London Grammar and Solange, who have both broken out in the Pop/Indie world within the past year. Would you say artists like these are examples of where you want to go?

Not really. I don’t know if I want to go anywhere. I just want to find what works for me. I just want to be comfortable with what I’m trying to do personally. What other acts do is what works for them, and I guess I’m not that good at adapting to other styles. I’m best at expressing myself and my feelings and being as talented as I’d like to keep myself! Haha!

Since we are Indie Houston, who are some of your favorite indie artists?

I listen to a lot of old records, actually, so I don’t really listen to a lot of newer stuff. I just like to listen to things that are inspirational and things that I could get some ideas and learn from. I’m into a lot of 1980’s new wave artists, always have been into new wave bands. “Destroyer” from the latest Always EP is kind of a homage to the new wave bands I’ve always been into. I used to play in a new wave band back in the day, too, so I just have a lot of inspiration from that particular genre.

Panama’s Always EP is available now!



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