Wave of Reassurance – Hannah Baiardi Shares Sense of Purpose on ‘Reason’ Single

Reason_Artwork_Hannah_Baiardi
Hannah Baiardi’s “Reason” single inspires listeners to embrace their authentic voice and rediscover a sense of purpose. Artwork – Abby Clemens

Immersed in sophisticated jazzy soul-pop sensibilities and refreshing, colorful sonic textures, Hannah Baiardi beautifully steps outside her comfort zone.

The Ann Arbor vocalist-composer and pianist provides a calm, soulful reassurance to embrace our authentic voice and rediscover our true calling on her latest hopeful single, “Reason.” It’s her first new material since releasing her genre-bending album, Straight from the Soul, in March.

“There’s a lot of weight on our shoulders right now, but it’s also a very inspiring time. Lightworkers are individuals who come with a purpose and are very driven to make social change and be their true selves and not hide their identities out of fear or shame,” Baiardi said.

“I was blown away when I got responses from other musicians saying, ‘Hey, that really resonated with me and made me feel like you’re standing up for the underdog.’ That’s totally my whole MO, even from being in high school and resonating with clique-busting and trying to be a friend to the friendless.”

Throughout “Reason,” shimmering piano, spirited drums, luminous slide guitar, fervent finger snaps, smooth electric bass and Baiardi’s confident vocals drench listeners in a sultry, protective dreamscape while inspiring a renewed, united social consciousness.

Once inside her encouraging, hypnotic sonic realm, Baiardi thoughtfully sings, “You never fit in/Stood out from the crowd/You waited you turn/Took courage to speak out loud/But now’s your time/You have to see/Your worth.”

“If someone feels alone or thinks it’s a really tough period of time … know there are others out there who see them and want to champion them. We’re all in this mess together while riding the waves. Water and waves are a theme in the song, and I’m trying to incorporate more sounds with nature and more sounds that evoke a feeling of tranquility,” Baiardi said.

Baiardi magically creates a peaceful “Reason” atmosphere with producer Marty Gray and bassist Ryan King of Stormy Chromer. Together, Baiardi and Gray spent two to three months recording the track in the studio for a late summer release.

“The rough melody and rough sketch of the lyrics came over a couple of weeks. The magic really happened when I brought it to Marty, and I was introduced to him through a mutual friend, David Magumba,” Baiardi said.

“We knew each other from the University of Michigan, where we were both students. Our paths didn’t really cross because he was a vocal major and I was a jazz major. We got together to work on this track, and instantaneously there was this sense of creative synergy. I came with the bones and left with a wonderful song, thanks to Marty.”

Baiardi also translates “Reason” into a gray-tinged lyric video filled with placid, flowing waters. While watching the video, viewers float above and reflect on their personal challenges as snippers of white light permeate the screen.

“The grayness of it conveys the uncertainty of the murky waters that we’re in right now. My social media manager Melissa (Zhuang) played a huge role in helping me craft that, and she’s very adept with Adobe,” said Baiardi, who’s also working on a new directed video for “Reason.”

“I was like, ‘Hey, we just need water and some gray, so run with it.’ I think lyric videos are powerful so that someone can contemplate as they’re watching the visual element.”

Continue reading “Wave of Reassurance – Hannah Baiardi Shares Sense of Purpose on ‘Reason’ Single”

Conversation Piece – Marty Gray Recounts Memorable Bar Interaction on ‘The Regular’

One summer night, Marty Gray casually walked into a Marquette bar and unexpectedly experienced a life-changing conversation with a random stranger.

The Ann Arbor indie pop artist, multi-instrumentalist and producer went to Flanigan’s Bar with high school friends to sing karaoke and decided to get a drink. Right away, a 36-year-old regular sitting at the bar started chatting with Gray.

“This whole conversation happened the summer before the pandemic. We went on a Wednesday, and there were maybe four people there. This guy says, ‘You have a great voice. Where are you from?’ I said, ‘I’m from Ann Arbor, but I grew up here, and I just wanted to see what this bar was all about,” said Gray about that infamous night in 2019.

“For the next half an hour, the guy starts telling me everything he’s thinking about. His demeanor was friendly and non-weighted. He didn’t present the information like he was suffering or in a bad spot. It was literally, ‘Hey dude, this is what I’m doing. As long as you’re gonna listen, I’ll just keep telling you.”

The regular told Gray about missed opportunities and regrets in his life, including breaking up with his fiancée, being stuck in an unsatisfying job, longing for the carefree days of his youth and feeling scared about the future.

“He clearly felt like he had missed his life, and it was too late for him to experience those early thirties things that all his friends had experienced. The whole conversation left me in a very different mood. It was really nonchalant, but really heavy,” Gray said.

For some reason, that 30-minute interaction resonated with Gray and later served as the inspiration behind his soulful, introspective concept album, The Regular. It beautifully recounts that memorable conversation and glides through the regular’s experiences, preoccupations, choices and uncertainties.

“The whole very human thing that hit me so hard in the gut was that mentality. This guy had been backed into a corner so many times in the last 10 years of his life, and he was in such a desolate, horrible spot where he was just drinking alone at the bar every night or with a couple of friends,” Gray said.

“There’s something about the way he was talking about leaving and the way he was talking about changing something. The whole sentiment was human and on the same wavelength as a fight-or-flight response. You can either lie down and die or give up, or you can make a drastic change.”

Continue reading “Conversation Piece – Marty Gray Recounts Memorable Bar Interaction on ‘The Regular’”

Escape Artist – Kat Steih Creates Alternate Universe on ‘Songs from a Faraway Galaxy … and West Park Volume 1’ EP

album art volume1 songs art by kat steih
Kat Steih creates a captivating electro acoustic dreamscape on her latest EP. Artwork – Kat Steih

Kat Steih thoughtfully assembles a majestic, restorative alternate universe for near and far like-minded souls.

Inside that mystical world, the Ann Arbor alt-folk singer-songwriter invites listeners into a captivating electro acoustic dreamscape on her new EP, Songs from a Faraway Galaxy … And West Park Volume 1, which dropped Aug. 28.

“My music has a strong element of escapism. I’ll be in the middle of an experience that I don’t want to be having, feeling that inner roar of resistance, and then suddenly a melody with words and a vibe will pop right into my head,” Steih said.

“A big part of musical journey is increasing my skills so that I can capture those ideas to convey them to others. It’s really important to me to share (the ideas) because they arrive like gifts from the universe.”

Throughout her latest release, Steih packs an expansive, cerebral and folky sound across four hypnotic, ethereal tracks while venturing through past experiences, changing relationships, personal growth and long-awaited renewal. It’s a mesmerizing, introspective follow-up to her breathtaking, spiritual 2019 Americana album, Hymns of the Huron.

“I’ve always loved theatrical music production like Pink Floyd, Queen and Kate Bush. The sound of this album is influenced by my collaboration with Samn Johnson while the sound of Hymns of the Huron was very influenced by the band that Ben Lorenz put together,” she said.

“I bring the melodies and chord progressions, but the final product is colored by who’s there and the vibe of the environment we’re in.”

Continue reading “Escape Artist – Kat Steih Creates Alternate Universe on ‘Songs from a Faraway Galaxy … and West Park Volume 1’ EP”

Thread Count – Bill Edwards Stitches Americana Stories into New ‘Whole Cloth’ Double Album

Whole Cloth album art
Bill Edwards’ “Whole Cloth” serves as a poignant, reflective novel of Americana songs.

For Bill Edwards, the basement provides the ideal music lab and creation space.

The Ann Arbor country singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist retreated to his subterranean studio during the pandemic and experimented with his recording gear.

“When we went into lockdown and realized we weren’t going to be playing live for several months, I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn the ins and outs of my recording software. I wanted to get better acquainted with MIDI instruments, or musical instrument digital interfaces,” Edwards said.

“MIDI instruments have come a long way since their invention, and the sampled instruments that are available now are just incredible. It gave me the opportunity to do things like drums, bass and pedal steel, and a whole world opened up.”

Eighteen months later, Edwards’ MIDI software explorations have resulted in an ambitious, yet prolific 30-track double album, Whole Cloth, out Friday via Regaltone Records.

“It feels like birthing a very large baby, and I’m really proud of it for a lot of reasons. I think the songs are good, and the fact that I was able to do it all by myself feels like a pretty big accomplishment,” said Edwards, who spent 15 months writing and recording his new album.

“Over that period, I probably had 70 songs, and I would finish one and then move on to the next and start building it together. I didn’t plan to do a double CD, but then I had all this stuff, and I thought, ‘Well, why not just put it all out?”

Continue reading “Thread Count – Bill Edwards Stitches Americana Stories into New ‘Whole Cloth’ Double Album”

Beyond the Studio – South Main Street Marketing Promotes Artists, Albums

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A new music marketing firm is amplifying artist voices beyond the recording studio.

Known as South Main Street Marketing, the firm advises, supports and promotes musicians in their marketing efforts. Launched earlier this year by David Roof and Stephanie Reed, it’s already achieved a growing roster of multi-genre artists, including Linden Thoburn, Jeff Adams, Mary Beth Howell and Dirk Kroll among others.

“Every record that I’ve made has ended with the same conversation – ‘Hey, I’ve got a record, but what do I do now?’ I’ve been producing about 12 to 15 albums a year for more than a decade, and in total, I’ve probably been part of over 200,” said Roof, who also owns and operates Rooftop Recording.

“I know the time-intensive efforts that go into what musicians have to do to promote a record. There aren’t many formal resources for musicians to consult to answer that question. I sensed there was a void in filling that need for musicians.”

Roof shared that thought with his business and creative network and quickly connected with Reed through Chris McCall, an Ann Arbor singer-songwriter, voice coach and meditation counselor.

“I had been working with Chris on her marketing, website and social media and learned through her that Dave was looking for someone who did this kind of marketing,” said Reed, an experienced marketing, creative and business development executive/consultant.

Within a few weeks, Reed and Roof assembled a business plan and company framework to launch South Main Street Marketing, which is named after Ann Arbor’s famed downtown thoroughfare and honors both Reed and Roof growing up in Michigan.

For their new venture, the duo developed a suite of marketing and creative services which range from digital experience design and digital media to social media management and marketing consulting.

Each new artist relationship begins with a discovery session to identify goals, expectations and next steps. An artist can choose from à la carte or bundled services depending on their needs and budget.

“I use the same philosophy I’ve used with all my clients through the decades. Our goal is to discover who a client is and where they’re coming from as well as their goals and voice. We give them the plan, tools and encouragement needed to have their voices heard,” Reed said.

“South Main Street Marketing’s operating premise is to listen to people, provide the resources they need, and educate and set them free. We want artists to not feel tethered. We’re all about supporting an artist’s individual needs and goals.”

Additionally, the firm’s focus allows artists to spend valuable time honing their musical craft instead of getting absorbed in ancillary activities. At South Main Street Marketing, Reed and Roof want musicians to take back their opportunity costs.

“All the time that musicians spend marketing themselves is not time they’re practicing their instrument, writing a new song or experiencing the world. If we can help take that burden off of people, then we’re helping create more art by freeing up artists’ time,” Roof said.

Looking ahead, South Main Street Marketing will continue meeting their goal of quietly remaining behind the scenes to ensure artists stay front and center. As part of a collaborative approach, they’re creating clear plans to elevate artists and support their uniqueness while helping grow the music community.

Time Machine – Dani Darling Unites Past with ‘The Future’ on Latest Psychedelic EP

The Future
Dani Darling transports listeners to a boundless cosmic frontier filled with vintage-neo soundscapes on “The Future.”

Drenched in psychedelic sensibilities, space-age rhythms and funky prog-jazz fusions, Dani Darling vividly constructs an insightful time machine that revisits past reflections and welcomes future possibilities.

The Ann Arbor chanteuse-guitarist instantly transports listeners to a boundless cosmic frontier filled with vintage-neo soundscapes and never-ending stories on The Future EP, which dropped June 25.

“The kind of energy we need is that kind of New Year’s Eve vibe, like having a fresh start, feeling adventurous and wanting to see what’s out there. When it comes to these current times, I think it’s about being hopeful for the future and the energy that people have when they’re anticipating it and feeling positive about it,” said Danielle Davis, aka Dani Darling.

“That’s why New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday; that whole energy is unmatched when everyone is hoping for something greater and looking forward to letting go of what’s in the past.”

Darling initially envisioned The Future during a winter solstice 2020 recording session at Ypsilanti’s Grove Studios. At the time, she recorded the album’s astral, improvisational jam, “The Age,” and embraced the hypnotic, psychedelic sound that emerged.

“After we all finished playing it, we stopped and looked at each other and said, ‘Whoa that was exactly it.’ Then we were like, ‘Let’s do it again,’ and the New Year’s Eve session was the one heard around the whole project. It was a seven-hour lock-in, and most of it came out of that,” said Davis about her third release and follow-up to 2020’s mystical Mage EP.

“I was also thinking about the next phase of Dani Darling coming from a very lo-fi, toned-down sound where I’m pretty limited with my resources to suddenly having this ability to bring my friends and people I really respect in musically. That really changed the game.”

Continue reading “Time Machine – Dani Darling Unites Past with ‘The Future’ on Latest Psychedelic EP”

Pep Talk – Alison Albrecht Silences Self-Doubt, Second-Guesses on ‘I Say’ Single

I SAY COVER
Alison Albrecht shares her personal transformation on “I Say.” Album artwork – Andrew Albrecht

Alison Albrecht elegantly transforms past lessons into future growth.

The Ann Arbor pop-soul-folk singer-songwriter deeply reveals her personal metamorphosis on “I Say,” an authentic, fearless anthem about taking charge of one’s life.

“It encapsulates exactly how this last year has gone for me. It’s just been a huge transformation in realizing if you can let go of the ‘supposed tos’ and the ‘shoulds’ and just live more boldly with conviction and confidence life opens up so much more,” Albrecht said.

Albrecht carries her courageous mindset forward as beating electronic drums, delicate cymbals, mellow bass, contemplative piano and tranquil synths provide internal strength. She soulfully sings, “Silence the voices/Chin up/Look into the mirror/Lock eyes with the face/And finally the fog begins to clear/Biting my nails down/But alone/Nowhere to hide/I breathe the same air/With a fresh new pair of eyes.”

“I’ve been diving into passion projects rather than thinking, ‘I should do this’ or ‘I should do that.’ I’m finally having the confidence of living in every moment and being present. This time, I say I’m not going to listen to those outside voices like I had been for a long time,” said Albrecht, who’s inspired by Sara Bareilles.

Albrecht teamed up with younger brother Andrew Albrecht to co-write and produce “I Say” in their home studio. Andrew provided the thoughtful piano instrumental while Albrecht penned the personal lyrics during a brief, torrential downpour.

“Two seconds later, the clouds suddenly parted and the sun beautifully shined. I was like, ‘That is such a metaphor for the song, and I need this right now.’ I tried to harness that sort of energy, and we wrote the song real quickly. It’s definitely one of my favorites,” she said.

The Albrechts sent the finished track to Jim Kissling at Ferndale’s Tempermill Studio for mastering. Once the single was released in March, the siblings started developing a concept for the upcoming “I Say” video, which will drop later this summer.

“We’re so lucky to live in an era where we can do things ourselves. I’m all about authenticity and trying to know exactly who I am and who we are. I think capturing video and audio in spaces where we feel comfortable gives the audience great insight into who we are,” Albrecht said.

Continue reading “Pep Talk – Alison Albrecht Silences Self-Doubt, Second-Guesses on ‘I Say’ Single”

Bite Down – The Fragile Corpse Absorbs Lost Souls on ‘Let Us Prey’

Let Us Prey
The Fragile Corpse’s “Let Us Prey” single addresses the existential dread people face in life. Artwork – Matthew “Thew” Vayle

With raw, dark sensibilities and passionate, mystical lyrics, The Fragile Corpse instantly sends an alt rock rush of blood to the head.

The Ann Arbor goth-grunge collective pierces the flesh, seeps into veins and ingests troubled souls on their new vampiric demo single, “Let Us Prey,” now available on Band Camp.

“I tried to add a little bit of vampire imagery in the song to help create a sense of the existential dread that life can feel like when you’re at a low point. Life keeps going and never stops, and sometimes you feel like you need a break,” said Matthew “Thew” Vayle, The Fragile Corpse’s vocalist-guitarist-drummer.

Let Us Prey” deeply explores that murky internal abyss as coarse, turbulent electric guitars, gentle cymbal taps, steady drums and spirited bass submerge listeners in a raging emotional underworld.

Vayle calmly reflects, “I refine my taste on crimson wine/The ambrosial waste of god’s divine/If love is a sickness/I must be terminal/An immortal blight on the bloodline.”

“I find having that ability to relate to a piece of art often makes me feel less dreadful. The lyrics in songs like that can get pretty overdramatic at times, but I love that. Being in that state of mind can turn small things into daunting obstacles, and it can literally feel like the world is ending,” said Vayle, who’s inspired by The Smashing Pumpkins (think Adore) and Type O Negative.

“I wrote and recorded the song about three to four years ago and didn’t really touch it since. I was trying to put together a goth band at the time and wrote a few other gothy songs that are unfinished as well.”

Continue reading “Bite Down – The Fragile Corpse Absorbs Lost Souls on ‘Let Us Prey’”

Brand Name – Sam Watson Honors Neisha Neshae in Celebratory Video

Sam Watson eloquently pays tribute to Neisha Neshae in a laudatory new video.

The Ann Arbor R&B artist-engineer-producer honors the emerging Detroit R&B trap songstress in a four-minute, MTV Cribs-style video for her namesake track. Neshae co-stars in the video with Watson and Ypsilanti hip-hop artist Young’n Destined.

“Having Neisha in the video was dope; I appreciate her coming through. In fact, I speak for everyone who was there at the video shoot. We all appreciated and loved her for being there. I’m not sure how she found out exactly,” said Watson, who’s racked up over 25,000 views on the video.

“We were promoting the upcoming shoot so I assumed someone tagged her and kept sharing the post. Her presence brought more life and more energy to the video. Everyone was bringing their best to the table, but Neisha brought some more light to this bright environment.”

Filmed by Xerox Visuals, the “Neisha Neshae” video features Watson, Young’n Destined and a bunch of friends celebrating together at a lively house party. Watson and Young’n Destined each serenade Neshae as the party’s guest of honor at an Airbnb in St. Clair Shores.

“MTV Cribs was always a great show so I figured why not bring that back to life in the video. Recruiting everyone was pretty easy. Everyone who had heard the song did tell me that they wanted to be part of the video if it ever came up,” Watson said.

“We contacted all of our friends and told them to come and bring their friends, too. Everything fell into place. We’re all about good vibes so everyone knew what to bring to the table; besides everyone was good people.”

Continue reading “Brand Name – Sam Watson Honors Neisha Neshae in Celebratory Video”

Moment of Truth – London Beck Unearths Deep Vulnerabilities on ‘The Black Satin Sessions’

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset
London Beck confronts dark emotional terrain on “The Black Satin Sessions.” Photo – E. (Liz) Keller

London Beck beautifully reveals the earnestness and empowerment of being vulnerable.

The Ann Arbor R&B vocalist-instrumentalist-producer and Amplify fellow openly shares a personal, emotive journey of defeating inner demons and embracing newfound strength on their latest album, The Black Satin Sessions.

“This project really showed me that it’s OK to be vulnerable and ask for help. It’s OK to use the resources that are available to you if you feel like you’re giving it your all and nothing’s really working. Even though there’s this outspoken, loud and formidable essence of London, I want people to understand there’s a softer, more thoughtful side of me,” Beck said.

“In that vulnerability, it’s OK to move toward a path of healing, and it’s OK to heal with people who have your best interests at heart. I can still encourage people and open doors for them while making space for me to have my needs met.”

Beck openly chronicles confronting dark emotional terrain while uncovering an enlightened path of self-redemption across 13 passionate, metamorphic tracks on The Black Satin Sessions. Each multi-genre track shifts, shimmies and soars over introspective lyrics, exquisite instrumentation and fiery vocals.

With Beck at the helm, listeners seamlessly absorb enchanting sonic snippets of R&B, electro pop, dance, Motown, rock, classical and folk rolled into a refreshing auditory experience.

“I had initially intended to put out two smaller EPs, one that was rock, acoustic-focused and one that had the electro vibes that people typically know me for. As we were working through this project and with the Amplify fellows, I was really thinking about my journey, and it all came together in the most beautiful, unexpected way,” said Beck, who’s also a classically trained violist.

“I decided to write and make music that’s on my heart and my mind. Once I had finished all of the music, and I listened to it, I was like ‘Wow, this really tells my story.’”

Continue reading “Moment of Truth – London Beck Unearths Deep Vulnerabilities on ‘The Black Satin Sessions’”