Lucas Powell deeply digs into buried experiences and emotions of the past.
The metro Detroit indie folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist delicately exhumes old selves and uncovers entombed painful memories on his cerebral, haunting debut album, Michigan, which dropped in August.
“One of my favorite songwriters as a kid was Jon Foreman because I grew up religious and liked Switchfoot. He once said songwriting is like archaeology for him. He just digs inside and finds something. I saw that in an interview a couple of years ago and realized that’s my songwriting process,” Powell said.
“If I can’t write something, then I know that it’s because I need to meditate and get it out of me. Michigan is very embodying of a young, coming-of-age kid trying to get it all out. I could just see me trying to find the right words to say, and I love it for that reason.”
On Michigan, Powell slowly unearths fragile thoughts about spirituality, growth, self-worth and loss throughout his 12-track personal excavation. Filled with vivid religious imagery and layers of swelling cinematic soundscapes, the album thoughtfully chronicles his cathartic journey toward inner enlightenment and existential freedom.
“I’m exploring those themes to use that language as my own narrative. Artists use Christianity or religion as a way to talk about themselves or question it. It’s a mix of sometimes I’m addressing it, and sometimes I’m just using the language that I have,” Powell said.
For Taylor Greenshields, a recent conversation quickly morphed into hosting a local music festival.
The Ypsilanti audio engineer, producer and drummer chatted with Ma Baker guitarist Guy Williams about putting on a daylong music event at Frog Island Park.
“Both of us have talked about how cool it would be to have something on the stage at Frog Island. We were sitting on the grass, and I said, ‘I’m done talking about it. Let’s do it for real. I’m going to follow through on this idea,’” said Greenshields, who owns and operates Ypsi-based recording studio Fundamental Sound Co.
“This year, I invested in a bigger PA system. After that, I thought, ‘We have to do this because I don’t want to have all this stuff and not use it. It’s meant to be used for the people and the community. I’m so lucky to work with so many amazing, dope artists that it’s like, ‘Well, why not?’”
“It’s so eclectic with Travis and Al each bringing their own jazz vibes for you to bask in. Jesse’s set is going to be more electronic, and he’s going to take you on a roller coaster of all sorts of dynamics. They each will bring something different,” said Greenshields, who’s previously recorded, produced and performed with all the artists on the Fun Fest lineup.
“I’ll be playing with Dani, Jesse and the secret set, which will include some familiar faces. People might get called up from the audience to jam during the secret set.”
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.”
Filled with sensual, soulful grooves and mellow, jazzy soundscapes, ANA beautifully embarks on a newfound path of self-discovery and intimacy.
Along her transformative journey, the Detroit neo-soul singer-songwriter shares her deepest emotional reflections and vulnerabilities while poignantly embracing personal growth and exhilaration on “Fall With Me.”
“This song is a trifecta of things. A lot of it is about exploring intimacy and being open to that. But self-love was a big one, especially during the pandemic because we have spent so much time being isolated from each other. I feel like a lot of the things we desire become a lot more physical and manifest in a way of self-care while deepening the expectations we have for ourselves and the things that we love to do,” said Ana Gomulka, aka ANA.
Now available on all streaming platforms, “Fall With Me” magically transports listeners to a carefree, breezy spring day that provides instant relief and ample time to recharge. Thoughtful, enduring trumpet, delicate drums, mellifluous bass, fluttering synth and vivid electric guitar provide a mesmerizing escape into ANA’s dreamy world.
Gomulka beautifully sings, “Cause when you show up at my place/And ring my bell/I’ve been feelin’ for ya/You know very well/But if this is too much for you, yeah/We can just kick it like we used to.”
“I decided to put this song out first because I’ve been working on a lot of music that’s going to be coming out in 2021. I also wanted to make this a love song to my audience and the people who have supported me throughout the whole time I’ve been making music,” said Gomulka, who also fronts the jazz-fusion group Honey Monsoon.
“I’ve been writing songs since I was 13 years old, and this is the first time I’ve ever officially put out a single myself as a solo artist. I wanted to make this single to invite people to follow me into the joy of what I’ll be sharing. I’ve always been a really sensual, vulnerable person, and I think a lot of authenticity lies there.”
“Fall With Me” also serves as ANA’s first new material since releasing Honey Monsoon’s 2019 enchanting album, Opal Soul. She invited an all-star team of collaborators to join her on the track, including Haruki Hakoyama (bass, trumpet), Sasha Kashperko (guitar), Todd Watts (drums) and Barry Chambliss (keys), and meld captivating R&B grooves with jazzy, hip-hop beats.
“This song was actually something that just came to me. I had studio time booked already for different songs, but this song was the newest and the freshest one. I had just laid down the guitar part first for the demo,” said Gomulka, who recorded the track at Fundamental Sound Co.
“I did the instrumental, and then the vocals came while the lyrics came afterward. I just reflected and manifested in feeling what I really wanted people to get out of this song. I’ve also been making a lot of electronic music, but I thought it was important to have actual instrumentation on it. I think that comes with the realness of my music, and it’s a reflection of my musical spirit.”
With moonlit melodies, gravitational grooves and rotational rhythms, The DayNites soulfully shine across the metro Detroit stratosphere.
The Detroit-Ypsilanti R&B-rock sextet of Kristianna Bell (vocals), Ryan Greene (keys, piano), Tim Blackman (bass), Shaun Maazza (guitar), Erich Friebel (drums, percussion) and Rick Coughlin (guitar) share reflective stories about love, growth, freedom and wisdom on their celestial, self-titled debut EP.
“When I was writing, it was just things that I was going through at that time in my life. It wasn’t like one main theme. It was like, ‘This is how I’m feeling, and these are the words that are coming out right now.’ I would say listen to the words and the instruments, feel the music and let it take you somewhere,” said Bell, who’s the band’s primary lyricist.
“We all have a take on everybody’s liking, and we put a little bit of something from everyone into what we do. For the first album, it was just me writing the words. But for the music, it was all the guys working together and putting their own spin on their instruments to see what worked well together.”
Available through the band’s new website, the EP’s five emotive DayNites tales unearth a deeply personal universe filled with contemplation, consideration and transformation. The lush, dreamy opener, “Cherry Blossom,” provides a welcome, cosmic escape into the relatable thoughts, feelings and concerns of a lost soul.
Palpitating drums, intense hand claps, exuberant bass, glistening intergalactic synth and fervid electric guitar reveal the psyche as Bell sings, “But I know I need to come down/Collect myself somehow/Unconnected from the physical being of my perspective/The only thing I could create was hella questions/Answers too far off to see/Searching for something that would make my soul complete.”
“It’s about trying to find ways to escape realities that I didn’t want to face. The song is pretty upbeat, and people love it, but at first it was my least favorite song because of what it made me think of every time I sang it. Once the song was recorded, it had a different feeling to me, and now I love it. I’m no longer in that place so I can listen to the song from a different perspective,” Bell said.
While Bell experiences an existential crisis on “Cherry Blossom,” she quickly shifts to newfound freedom on the Motown-esque, pro-hooky anthem, “Not Tomorrow.” Throbbing bass, banging tambourine, soulful intricate electric guitar, pounding drums and sizzling cymbals celebrate a much-needed mental health day from work.
“When we wrote that song, we were in the studio, and I had to work at 6 a.m. the next day. I was like, ‘Look, I can’t do this. I’ll be right back.’ I went and called my boss, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I won’t be there tomorrow,’ and I came back in and wrote the song,” Bell said.
For Grove Studios, fall’s arrival calls for an annual celebration of music, creativity and community.
The Ypsilanti rehearsal and recording space will host an “Equinox Party” Saturday to bring artists, musicians, creatives and community leaders together for an evening of networking and performances.
“We had a similar event last year, and it’s like an anniversary party for us. It’s also a back-to-school event celebrating the fall intermixed with networking and performances,” said Erich Friebel, Grove Studios partner and director of operations and community. “We’re going to have people from different support organizations and service providers and feature performances from a variety of rock bands, hip-hop artists and DJs.”
“I just want people to take away how welcoming and opening the vibe is and how it’s a place where artists can come and they can create, and it’s not just about coming into a studio space with 55 racks on the wall that are never being used,” said Wallace, who serves as the studio’s lead engineer.
“It’s really a place where true collaboration and true artistic freedom can happen, and there’s a great deal of trust that the owners have in allowing people to come into this space 24/7/365.”
“These presentations and performances are from people who use our space and patronize our growth. We’re about a year and a half in at the current location, and prior to that, we had been doing events at Riverside Arts Center,” Friebel said. “Before that, when we were at the Michigan Avenue location, Alexis Ford from the Music and Arts Guild was doing a lot of the booking for us for events there.”
With a vibrant new single and lineup, Honey Monsoon is floating in a new musical stratosphere.
Earlier this week, the metro Detroit jazz-fusion quintet dropped their latest single, “Cloud,” a five-and-a-half-minute peaceful sonic journey filled with funky guitars, bright synths, gentle cymbal crashes and slow grooves.
“It’s a dynamic love song about being in an amazing state, realizing that you’re there, being present and preserving that,” said Ana Gomulka, Honey Monsoon’s vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist. “It’s a complex song where I put myself in a character role and follow a floaty, vibey path that’s immediate and accessible.”
That uplifting musical path soars to the sky-high auditory intersection of jazz, disco, rock, funk, soul and R&B – think Stevie Wonder, Nile Rodgers, George Benson, Sade and Toro y Moi combining their signature styles into an atmospheric sound.
Honey Monsoon will release a new video soon for “Cloud” that features footage from some of their local favorite spots in Detroit, including the Fisher Building and the Renaissance Center. Additional footage was shot at a local church in Ypsilanti.
“Cloud” is the first single from Honey Monsoon’s forthcoming album, “Opal Soul,” a follow-up to their 2017 jazzy, soulful debut, “Rose Gold,” due out March 22. It also features a fresh lineup with new members Sam Naples (guitar, vocals) and Binho “Alex” Manenti (bass, keys) along with Taylor Greenshields (drums), Leo Willer (paintbrushes) and Gomulka.
“We’ve been in the studio collaborating with so many incredible people in the area on horns, keys, strings and vibraphone,” said Gomulka, who started writing songs for “Opal Soul” in September. “We’ve been in the trenches putting together this eclectic production for ‘Opal Soul.’”
Produced, engineered and mixed by Greenshields and Naples at Fundamental Sound Co., “Opal Soul” will feature eight tracks and include former member Andrea Holther-Cruz on two to three songs written with the previous band’s lineup.
“Opal Soul” also will feature a more diverse sound that draws influences from pop, rock, Latin, funk, Afrobeat and world music. For “Rose Gold,” Honey Monsoon intertwined jazzy, soulful sonic textures against a rock-infused backdrop with bright vocals and saxophone solos.
“‘Opal Soul’ is based on a concept of reflection, and I was inspired by that while writing for this album,” Gomulka said. “It highlights the reflection and soulfulness that we put into the creative process.”