Jake LeMond and Juliane Bednarz serve as an emerging, magical songwriting team.
“‘Nosey’ started off as just a chorus I came up with. That same night I was on the phone with Juliane joking about how she’s nosey, and we thought it would be funny to use that as an idea for another Hickey Eyes song,” said LeMond, who’s based in Detroit.
“I sang her a melody of how I thought the verses should go, and she sent me the whole first verse. I thought her words were perfect, so all I had to do was write a second verse.”
Throughout “Nosey,” breezy, sleek Mellotron seamlessly fuses with ascending, vibrant acoustic strums, tranquil slide guitar, steady drums and mellow bass to overcome potential relationship challenges.
LeMond sings, “Electric start/I head for the airport/Every goodbye seems to be cut short/Wish we could talk/Dead on the weekends/Against the clock/Gone off the deep end.”
“Collaborating with Jules on this one was fun because I would just send her voice memos of my progress throughout the night while I was writing, and she sent a verse, so it all came pretty fast since the chorus was already written,” he said.
“We share music ideas with each other as they come to us, and being that we’re so close, we’re not afraid to share honest opinions. Jules is new to songwriting, so she is still figuring out her style.”
LeMond and Bednarz also expanded their Hickey Eyes “Nosey” collaboration to include Ian Ruhala (slide guitar, Mellotron), Chris Koo (vocal editing), Ben Fisher (drum editing), Jake Rye (mixing) and Mike Cervantes (mastering).
“I spent a good chunk of time demoing out this one in my bedroom while learning how to use Logic. It started out much slower and sounded pretty sad to be honest. Jules wasn’t all that crazy about that version, so I tried to give it more energy to balance out the somewhat sad lyrics,” LeMond said.
“I (also) tracked slide guitar and Mellotron at my friend Ian Ruhala’s house. Ben Fisher who mixed ‘Spoon Me’ helped edit drums. Chris Koo, who I’ve had the opportunity to write with a lot for this year for his project Yueku, edited vocals, and he’s definitely inspired me to put out more music recently with how consistent he’s been with his releases.”
Spoon Me and Miles
“Nosey” functions as Hickey Eyes’ second electrifying release since dropping their lustrous debut single, “Spoon Me” in 2020. Shimmery electric guitars, easygoing acoustic strums, sunny bass, serene drums, spirited piano, buoyant whistles and energetic hand claps allow LeMond and Bednarz to relish the contagious glow of newfound love.
LeMond reveals in Jeff Tweedy-esque vocals, “Because you’re my everything/I keep you under cover/Stubborn summer sun/I never want no other.”
In return, Bednarz sings, “Honey, sleep between my bedsheets/My heated blanket sat on high/Without you between them/I can’t sleep/You’re my Ben and Jerry’s half-pint guy.”
“We were in bed one day just joking around, and I say a lot of dumb things around her. I came up with a name, Hickey Eyes, for a band, and I was like, ‘We should do that.’ She also said how none of my songs are love songs – they’re all breakup songs. I tried really hard to write a love song, and she would send me lyrical ideas,” LeMond said.
“I was like, ‘If we’re gonna write a song, then I don’t want to do it all by myself.’ She would text me lyrics here and there, and I would piece that together. I would come up with a chorus, and it was done pretty fast. I think we wanted to call it ‘Spoon Me’ the whole time.”
Last summer, LeMond and Bednarz released a light-hearted video for “Spoon Me,” which features the duo frolicking together during a daylong summer picnic and backyard outing. Together, they filmed the effervescent video with co-directors Alayna Currey, Kris Herrmann (who also drums on the track) and Deb Bednarz.
“We did the video on my dad’s old camcorder, and my friend Kris and her friend Alayna helped us a little bit. It was a very homegrown project, and it was done very fast,” said LeMond, who shot the video in Bednarz’s backyard.
“We recorded it in one day with our friend Austin (Stawowczyk), and my other friend Ben Fisher mixed it. We had nothing else to do during lockdown last spring, and we just decided to make a video for it.”
Outside of Hickey Eyes, LeMond has released a growing catalog of thoughtful, lingering indie rock gems, including “Miles,” which dropped in July. Wistful synths, solemn acoustic strums, hopeful electric guitars, pensive drums and calm bass echo LeMond’s melancholic sentiments about missing a loved one while being on the road.
He shares, “You were breaking up/As I was falling down, down, down/I was shaken up/From the words that left your mouth/It never seemed like enough/Driving state to state/On and on you wait/Load it in, load it out/As the last good place is miles away from here.”
“You’re not really very creative on the road; you’re just playing the same music every night. When you get home from a tour, you really just want to sit down and create something new,” said LeMond, who also plays guitar with Michigander.
“I go through it every time, and I need to be playing something that I haven’t been playing for the last 30 days. I sat down, and it was the first thing that came out of me. It’s not a very long song, and there’s nothing too crazy, but it’s nice when something happens that fast.”
“I don’t have to worry about wasting someone’s time. It’s nice to record with a friend because you’re hanging out as well as recording. You’re not on the clock, and you both want to get the best thing out of the guitar part, vocal part and bass part,” LeMond said.
In August, LeMond released a fun, nostalgic video for “Miles,” which chronicles a personal need to reconnect with a toy spring horse he finds in a local antique store. Throughout the video, LeMond works a series of jobs, including cleaning dishes, unclogging toilets and mowing lawns, to save up enough money to purchase the horse.
“I said the whole plot to Juliane, and she said, ‘That’s kinda funny.’ And I was like, ‘Actually, that could be kinda good.’ I messaged Mathew (Pimental) the idea, and he thought it was really funny. He sent me some of his ideas, but I did not have the horse. I had to find it, and then I found my aunt actually had one,” LeMond said.
LeMond worked with director Mathew Pimental to film the video over several months at Yesterday’s Antiques and Collectibles in Livonia and The Rust Belt Market in Ferndale. He also played a cast of different characters throughout the video while receiving additional help from Bednarz, Koo, Ariona Kalaj and KT Stewart.
“I have a very small budget, and I had to do more than one part, but it was pretty fun. I liked being the guy who was a little mean and didn’t care. Everyone wants to be an actor somewhat,” he said.
“It was really fun to do, and whenever I would show it to somebody, they would be smiling and laughing. The song is so serious that it didn’t make sense for me to have a serious breakup video. I wanted to do something funny, and I didn’t want to take myself too seriously with it.”
5 Months (Up in Smoke) and Beyond
LeMond started taking music seriously while growing up in Redford and Westland. He started out playing percussion in the middle school band, but quickly graduated to guitar after seeing his friends join garage bands.
“When I was 12 or 13, my parents got me one of those guitars you can buy at Costco that comes with an amp. I also got a Beatles book with all the chords and words, and I would just learn all those. My parents later bought me a four-track cassette recorder, and I would sing very badly into that,” said LeMond with a laugh.
With a guitar and recording equipment in hand, LeMond started writing his own songs and sought inspiration from The Beach Boys, The Strokes, Phoenix and Kings of Leon. In high school, he joined a band and played in local open mics to hone his live performance skills.
That debut single included the haunting breakup anthem, “5 Months (Up in Smoke),” which features Roy on drums. LeMond initially wrote the track as a theme song for a TV show.
“I never tried to write for something before; I usually just write about myself. Then, I finished it, and I went through a breakup with someone. It was the end of the relationship, and I was younger and like, ‘This sucks.’ I wrote about that and realized songwriting is a good outlet for when you’re feeling down,” he said.
Over the next three years, LeMond dropped several ruminative, relationship-themed singles, including “Flaws,” “Dance Your Life Away” and “Illusion.” He also started performing and touring with Michigander, aka Jason Singer, in 2018.
Starting Friday, LeMond will embark on a 27-date U.S. tour with Michigander, including highly coveted festival slots at Summerfest, Firefly and Shaky Knees. The band will end the tour with a Nov. 4 homecoming show at The Magic Stick in Detroit.
“I’ll be opening that one, and I get to play with Yueku. I’m really excited for Detroit, and Grand Rapids is already sold out. I’m just excited to get out and play because we’ve made friends around the country, too. It will be cool to see them again at these shows,” said LeMond, who also performed with Michigander at Lollapalooza in July.
In addition to the Michigander tour, LeMond will release his next solo single in October, which will feature original snippets of recordings from his early teens. He’s also writing a new Hickey Eyes track with Bednarz.
“I spliced them up and tried to make them interesting. It’s really funny to listen to and realize it’s possible to get better,” he said. “Jules and I always have ideas, and we’re currently working on the next one right now. We’re not sure exactly when it will come out, but we’re hoping sooner rather than later.”