Tag Archive: Coldplay

Overcoats1Overcoats, the singing and songwriting duo of Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell have released their debut album “Young” on the Arts & Crafts label. Nicolas Vernhes (Dirty Projectors, Daughter) and Autre Ne Veut joined the duo in co-production. “Young” follows on their self-titled debut EP released in June 2015, which was instrumental in their meteoric rise. It is impossible to ignore the creative power behind the full, rich and pleasing consonance of their voices leaving the listener with a salient tingling sensation. Their arrangements give cohesion to multiple genres including electronica, pop, folk, soul and even jazz. Overcoats begins their European tour in Dublin on 16 May. They perform in Paris on 23 May.

HVUM: This afternoon we have the opportunity to visit with the female duo Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell – together known as Overcoats. It’s a real pleasure for HorizonVU Music to have the chance to visit today and we look forward to hearing you live. Let’s talk a bit about your background, what’s been going on with Overcoats.

We’ve been to your site and to the many profiles and announcements found online (LA Music Blog. For Folk’s Sake, Drunken Werewolf, All Songs Considered and many more). We know that you are NYC-based and that you are one-time college roommates while attending Wesleyan University. After graduating in 2015, you moved to Dublin for a few months and really got into the Irish music scene. We have a following of promising young female want-to-be professional musicians and they appreciate success stories. So, let’s hang for a moment on the backstory.

Take us through your decision to come together as Overcoats, how you launched your project and came to sign on with Gaby Alvarez and Thomas Winkler at Votiv Management as well as your label Arts & Crafts. We know that’s a lot to talk about, so please hit the bullet points for us.

H: Thanks so much! We’ve had a really wild couple years. We graduated from Wesleyan University in 2015. We had startedOvercoats3 writing music our final year there. All of our friends were looking for jobs after college, making plans…and all we could do was write. It inspired and fulfilled us so much. We recorded our EP at college, put it online, and got good responses. We decided to go for it, and moved to Dublin to write and figure out what we really wanted to sound like.
J: Dublin was really formative for our music. We were going to folk shows and open mics during the evening, and then dancing in clubs at night. The combination of folk storytelling and songwriting and the corporeal, repetitive nature of electronic music was really influential for us.
H: We moved to New York a few months later and kept working at it. At SXSW, we met Tom and Gaby (our managers), who helped us put a team of people together that could help us achieve our goals. We signed to Arts & Crafts (record label) last summer, made our album in the fall of 2016, and now we’re here. It’s all been kind of a whirlwind, with some very slow pockets of time in there.
J: Our advice to people pursuing this would be, just keep working at it. We worked hard whether or not we were getting recognized for it because we believed in what we were doing. And that’s what made other people believe too.

HVUM: What made you gravitate to NYC? Why not (say) California?

H: New York was definitely more comfortable for us. I was born there and had spent time there in college –
J: And I’m from there.
H: We had family and friends there, which sounded very appealing after stranding ourselves in Ireland – haha!

HVUM: It’s been written that your Hozier cover “Cherry Wine” ties to your relationship? Tell us about that connection.

J: Cherry Wine is a song we started covering in Dublin. For us, the song represents friendship and unconditional love. Hana and I have a foundation of love and support for each other.
H: “Way she shows me I’m hers she’s mine / open hand or closed fist would be fine” – for us, means, I will take you any way you are. It’s about being there for that person no matter what.

HVUM: Briefly tell us a bit about your music backgrounds. Do you have formal training or do you consider yourselves to be self-taught?

H: A bit of both. I played a lot of instruments growing up. I started with piano, then moved to guitar, and later dabbled in banjo and harp. Singing has always been a passion, though.
J: I had no musical training growing up. I’m teaching myself piano and bass right now. If you can sing, you can make any instrument with your voice. You don’t need training!

HVUM: Reflecting back on your career development thus far, what do you consider to be your keys to success as well as the most difficult barriers you have encountered?

H: Something that has been difficult is that there’s not much certainty or stability in this industry. It can be really difficult to take care of yourself and staying stable when everything around you is always changing.
J: For example, last summer, we decided to leave to New York and move to Northampton – we complete moved out of our apartments and arrived in Northampton. 3 days later, we found out we were going on tour for 2 months with Matt Corby. We had to move out.
H: Everything happens really fast. But I think one of our keys to success has been being able to roll with the punches. JJ and I both traveled a lot in our childhoods and have talked before about how it made us really adaptable. It helps to be able to go with the flow and trust the process.

HVUM: What advice can you give to a young woman wanting to be in the music business?

H: I think women who are headed for the music industry should do it. There needs to be more of us! My advice would be persevere!! It takes hard work but if you keep going you can find success.
J: I agree. In the industry women often have to create space for themselves and for each other. The industry is inherently male dominated, so it can be hard to achieve your goals, sonically, aesthetically etc. So my advice is to believe in your vision and fight for it.

Overcoats2HVUM: Some of your music has been compared to the sounds of Chet Faker and Simon and Garfunkel (for example). Do you have specific influences in your minds? Do you share influences or do you have to reconcile differences in co-creation?

J: Those two are a couple of our favorites! I think we also feel that we were influenced by Amy Winehouse, Bob Dylan, the Dixie Chicks, Coldplay…who else?
H: More contemporary artists would include Sylvan Esso, Ibeyi, Jamie XX, Lapsley, Joseph, Hinds, Margaret Glaspy.
J: Yes, we share most of the same influences and very rarely disagree about the way we want something in our music to sound. We share one vision and occasionally take different sonic paths but for the most part we’re on the same page. And if we’re not, we embrace the tension created by two differing choices.

HVUM: In addition to your incredible and widely recognized harmonies there is a lot going on in your music from folk to electronica – folktronica. How do you describe your music and the cohesion of genres we identify with your songs? Or do you?

H: I think we described ourselves as folktronica pretty early on when we were releasing our debut EP. We felt like we were bringing storytelling into electronic music and bringing 808s and moog bass lines into folk music.
J: So it felt like we were straddling the two genres. We actually feel like a song is finished and ready for release when you can no longer define its genre. It feels like we focus more on the songwriting than what genre it’s fitting into.

HVUM: Let’s take time out for “Little Memory” recorded on the April release, “Young”.

HVUM: Has your perspective on music and working together changed between the release of your EP in 2015 and “Young”?

J: We never really had any idea what it would be like. We had nothing to go off. So it’s been a steep learning curve. Figuring out the music business and touring. Parts of it have been harder than I imagined. Recording our album and touring so often we’re really taxing. But simultaneously, parts of this career have exceeded my wildest dreams — connections with fans, incredible performances, holding your own vinyl in your hands.
H: Yeah, that was pretty nuts. We’ve definitely learned so much about the industry that we couldn’t have possibly known before diving head first into it.. In terms of working together, I think we’ve only gotten better at it. Better at reading one another, communicating, sharing ideas. We’ve been working together almost every day for 2 years now. And we’ve known each other for 6 years.

HVUM: On the production side you’ve worked with Nicolas Vernhes and Autre Ne Veut. Tell us a little about your relationship with your producers. As far as Overcoats is concerned, what makes for a good producer or producers?

J: They were both incredible to work with. As was Myles Avery who we worked with on the debut EP. A good producer, in our opinion, walks a fine line and needs to let us remain at the helm while offering us the resources to create the sound we are striving for. Offering creative ideas, pushing us to expand arrangements, be more adventurous with percussion, or with sounds.
H: Also crucial to this album was our producers pushing us and creating an environment in which we could give the best vocal performances possible.
J: Arthur and Nicolas are both incredibly talented, insightful, and think outside the box. They respected our vision, helped us achieve it and made sure we all pushed ourselves to the limit.

Overcoats4HVUM: Are there any particular interests along social or political lines that particularly important to you?

H: I was a religion major in college so discrimination along religious lines, religious freedom, and islamophobia are of interest to me, especially given the current political climate.
J: I studied Middle East history and politics in college and that still remains important to me. I follow what’s happening in Palestine and when we’re not touring I volunteer at the Arab American Family Support Center in Brooklyn which has a free immigration clinic to help folks with their legal questions. Both of us try to remain politically and socially engaged or at least conscious.
H: When we’re touring, it’s hard to do anything except survive- eat, sleep, drive, play a show… then repeat. The interesting thing about touring post Trump election is that we are heading to a lot of cities where many folks voted for him. And we wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to travel to so many of these cities . It feels especially important to play in these places for anyone who wants to be there with us. And it feels important and good to yell “the future is female” at the beginning of The Fog, given that women’s futures are being controlled by the current administration. There is a lot at stake.

HVUM: Finally, what outside of music do you consider fun? What do you do for “kicks”?

H: We’re both visual artists as well as musicians so we often paint or draw for fun. For real fun, we love bowling.
J: Yeah sorry, we’re losers. Our hobbies include painting, bowling and going to concerts and I think that’s about it!

HVUM: Losers? No way! Painting and bowling are very cool! Hana Elion, JJ, l thank you very much for taking time twith us. We know that you’ll continue to perform and release exciting new work in the near future, so let’s stay in contact. We’ll see you in Paris very soon!

Visit Overcoats at http://www.overcoatsmusic.com/

Eric Stupnitsky, Reporting from Chicago for HorizonVU Music

Eric Stupnitsky is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is majoring in Marketing. He’s an afficianado in the world of rock, alternative and folk with a  passion for both music and travel. While in London earlier this year he had the opportunity to follow exciting artists such as Matt & Kim, Mark Ronson & The Business Intl, and Skrillex. Although he does not know what the future will bring, music will definitely be a mainstay. This year’s Lolla is number 5 for Eric!  Who better to bring us the story?

Twenty is a milestone birthday. The teenage years are over, and adulthood is looking you square in the eye. There is no turning back, which may seem daunting to some. But for Lollapalooza, Chicago’s biggest music festival, turning twenty was an excuse to throw one of the wildest parties the city has seen.

It’s hard to believe it has been twenty years since Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell conceived Lollapalooza as a

Lollapalooza, Chicago 2011 Photo: Eric Stupnitsky

Lollapalooza, Chicago 2011 Photo: Eric Stupnitsky

two-stage, mainly punk rock music festival in the summer of 1991. It was envisioned to serve as a platform for a Jane’s Addiction farewell tour. Today, Lollapalooza’s multitude of stages takes over the entire 300+ acre Grant Park in the heart of downtown Chicago.

Lollapalooza has stayed true to its rock origins, but like every other twenty-something, the festival’s tastes have diversified. In fact, this diversity has helped Lollapalooza sell out all three days weeks in advance, a record for the festival. With 270,000 people anticipated to gather in Grant Park from August 5th-7th, the festival had a lot to live up to. This year, the lineup included an eclectic mix of rock, rap, and electronic music – the latter of which has experienced a major surge in popularity over the course of just one short year. As a fan of all these genres, I could hardly contain my excitement for the upcoming weekend.

To me, Lollapalooza is not just another concert. As a music lover and (conveniently) a Chicago native, this festival is a chance for me to see my favorite artists, discover new bands, and enjoy the hyper-organized chaos of Grant Park for three days. Although flanked by the gorgeous Chicago skyline, once you are inside the festival grounds, it is easy to forget that you’re in the middle of one of the world’s largest cities. As you

Lollapalooza, Perry Farrrell, Chicago 2011 Photo: Steve Wruble

Lollapalooza, Perry Farrrell, Chicago 2011 Photo: Steve Wruble

walk from stage to stage taking in the varied mix of people, fashions, and activities, it all focuses back onto one thing – the music.

Day One

One of my most anticipated acts of the entire festival was also the first performance I saw. I had heard Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” back in May, and instantly fell in love with their debut album, Torches. With its catchy melodies and danceable beats, it is no wonder that the group has been receiving some well-deserved attention this summer. Lollapalooza was no different, as the up-and-comers played to a packed crowd on Friday afternoon. Foster the People is a shining example of a festival band with great promise. Frontman Mark Foster’s natural stage presence made him seem like a seasoned music veteran as he bounced around the stage during the band’s performance of “Helena Beat”. The crowd around me ranged from loyal fans to people who just stopped to listen – yet the band’s energy was contagious, and everyone could be seen dancing along.

Next up was a trip to the Perry’s tent, Lollapalooza’s haven for electronic music. This year, Perry’s capacity doubled to 15,000 and the tent spanned an entire city block to accommodate the incredible rise in electronic music’s popularity. This was definitely the most booked stage throughout the entire weekend. Here, I saw massively popular DJs Skrillex and Afrojack. Having studied in London for the first half of 2011, I know how big electronic music is in Europe, but it has only just spread to the States. It is hard to believe that less than a year ago, I saw Skrillex open for Deadmau5 (another DJ who happened to headline Lollapalooza this year) to a basically empty arena in Madison, Wisconsin. Since then, he and countless other DJs have been spending the year traveling across the globe from concert to concert, festival to festival with their music. I can’t say I am a die-hard fan of the genre. To be honest, I can’t even tell where “house” changes to “dubstep” or any of the other electronic sub-genres. But while I won’t be sad to see the electronic fad go the way of disco and Latin pop, I can say that these DJs put on quite the spectacle. For anyone who loves to dance, this is a genre for you. The bass, the lighting, the visuals – they are all part of a show that relies on each of your senses to truly feel its power. For people that otherwise would not attend Lollapalooza, these DJs are no doubt a major contributor to the festival’s three sold out days.

My final act of the night was another favorite, Coldplay. With their booming sound, the band never fails to impress. I have only seen them in outdoor arenas, and there is something special about watching a band as mellow yet lively as Coldplay while relaxing on a lawn. To top it off, Lollapalooza attendees were treated to a nice surprise. As the band completes their long-awaited follow-up to 2008’s Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, they treated the crowd to new songs including the current single “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” and “Hurts Like Heaven”, a track that pleasantly strays from the soft-rock sound for which the band is so well-known. My personal favorite, however, was Coldplay’s touching tribute to Amy Winehouse. The “Rehab” segue into the band’s heart wrenching classic “Fix You” was a proper nod to Winehouse’s lasting effect on today’s music. The set concluded with fireworks above the stage, and Day One of the festival literally went out with a bang.

Day Two

Saturday was another beautiful, sunny day in Grant Park. Local Natives’ set was much more impressive than I had anticipated. I worried that

Lollapallooza, Chicago 2011 Photo: Eric Stupnitsky

Lollapallooza, Chicago 2011 Photo: Eric Stupnitsky

their spectacular debut album, Gorilla Manor, would not resonate on such a large stage. Maybe it was due to the fact that I had spent months solely listening to the band through my headphones, but their stage presence was very refreshing and drew an enormous crowd. Their performance was reminiscent of Mumford and Sons’ Lollapalooza appearance a year ago, full of love – both for music and life. Their “Sun Hands” finale ended on such an energetic note that I can’t imagine someone leaving the show without becoming a newfound Local Natives fan.

On the other side of the park, Ellie Goulding finished up her Lollapalooza performance. Riding high on an impressive year of genre-spanning hits, Goulding has proven that she has the soulful voice and charming persona to easily transition from small venues to large festivals. Having been chosen to perform at the recent Royal Wedding due to her stunning rendition of Elton John’s “Your Song”, Goulding wowed audiences at Lollapalooza. During her performance of oft-remixed “Lights”, Goulding was joined on stage by a surprise guest – a stage crasher. Showing her good spirits, Goulding blew a kiss as security whisked the overeager fan off stage.

The star of Saturday, however, was undoubtedly Eminem. While many say rap is not suitable for large crowds, this stereotype cannot apply to Detroit’s most successful export. Whether you are a fan of goofy Slim Shady, troubled Marshall Mathers, or megastar Eminem, you were treated to a hearty helping of all three on the main stage Saturday night. Joined by artists like Bruno Mars, Eminem performed songs off his most recent album, Recovery, as well as a plethora of classics that have helped the rapper become the powerhouse he is today. Similar to Lady Gaga’s performance on the same stage last year, people flocked in droves (some reports count as many as 60,000 people at this show alone) to catch a glimpse of the major superstar. Eminem, while arguably the most popular commercial artist at the festival this year, is also majorly reclusive. His past few years have produced some CDs, but have also been filled with turmoil. Only playing the occasional concert, it is no wonder that even the least interested Eminem fan would want to see what all the fuss was about. Eminem’s gritty, remarkable headlining performance did not disappoint.

Day Three

Any meteorologist could tell you that Sunday in Chicago was not going to be pleasant. I am not a meteorologist, however, and apparently am also

Lollapalooza, Chicago 2011 Photo: Eric Stupnitsky

Lollapalooza, Chicago 2011 Photo: Eric Stupnitsky

not one to check weather reports – I was unaware it had rained at around 10am that very morning. But the afternoon was sunny enough, so I seemingly had nothing to worry about. The key word here is seemingly. I entered Lollapalooza prepared for a smooth finale to a so far fantastic festival.

To start, Noah & The Whale brought their UK success overseas. As a folk band, they are not known for their crazy performances, yet still managed to play an hour-long set that had the audience singing along the entire time. Lead singer Charlie Fink has a stage presence that reminds one of 1960s folk singers, where the band’s simple lyricism takes on a life of its own. This can be seen in their performance of “5 Years Time”. I love the way Noah & The Whale can make any song sound happy and hopeful.
Afterwards, I had a little time to check out Lissie, an up-and-coming folk artist whose debut album Catching a Tiger has been earning praise since its release in 2010. Just by listening to her performance of “Bully”, one can feel the passion and soul in her voice. Her quintessential 1970s rock ‘n’ roll sound proves that sometimes a great voice and good music can truly carry a show. I anticipate good things for Lissie’s future.

Then came the rain. By rain, I mean downpour. The dramatic may attach the adjective “torrential” while the non-dramatic may just use “a lot of”, but any way you skew it, it poured. Seeking shelter seemed to only delay the inevitable soaking that Lollapalooza attendees were going to endure. My one preparation for bad weather was a flimsy umbrella, which I quickly learned was not about to shield any part of my body. The rain was here to stay, though, so many chose to embrace it. With the ground already squishy and wet from the previous night’s storms, this round of rain turned grassy field into muddy swamp.

Due to the weather, Arctic Monkeys’ set was delayed for half an hour. That didn’t stop the crowd from waiting by the stage until it was safe to perform, though. The sky finally cleared and the band began to play. The combination of this and the full rainbow next to the stage caused the crowd to erupt in excitement. I assume the set list was chosen ahead of time, but it makes me wonder if the band was forewarned about the weather. Songs like “She’s Thunderstorms”, “Brianstorm”, and “Crying Lighting” all had an underlying weather theme. Coincidence or not, being able to see a band that was clearly having so much fun despite the unfortunate weather situation only pumped up the crowd more. All across the park, baseball fields turned into makeshift mosh pits, where dirty Lollapalooza attendees had fun in the mud doing dances, play fighting, and overall making the most of a bad situation.

With the rain seemingly over (there’s that key word again), we waited for the Foo Fighters set. About ten minutes into it, you can only guess what happened. To avoid redundancy, take all previous descriptions of rain and multiply them by 10. Then add sound-bites like “THERE IS NOWHERE TO GO!”, “IT’S COMING DOWN IN SHEETS!”, and “I CAN’T FEEL MY FINGERS!”, all the while picturing yourself running through mud that is inches deep. After fleeing Foo Fighters, we made our way to the exit. Cell phones were damaged, every layer of clothing was soaked, and spirits were far from high. However, as we were about to leave, the storm turned into a drizzle. With only an hour of Lollapalooza left, we had time to check out one more band.

While huge names like Foo Fighters, Deadmau5, and Kid Cudi were all headlining tonight, I was most excited for Cold War Kids. I’m

Lollapalooza, Chicago 2011 Photo: Mandy Dempsey

Lollapalooza, Chicago 2011 Photo: Mandy Dempsey

a big fan of theirs, especially their impressive previous Lollapalooza performances. This was their 5th time at a Lollapalooza festival since 2006, including a headlining gig at this past spring’s inaugural Lollapalooza Chile. If I had to say one thing about the Cold War Kids, it’s that they put on a great live performance. I love the gritty sound of lead singer Nathan Willlet’s voice, and the way that he can transition from indie to pop to hard-rock seamlessly. Cold War Kids are an amazing addition to any festival line-up, and I was glad to have had the chance to see them again.

A Year to Remember

It was clear to see that C3 Presents, the company behind Lollapalooza, had pulled all the stops to ensure the festival’s 20th year would be its best yet. At every turn, Lollapalooza seemed to be telling festival goers, “Relax and enjoy, we’ve got it covered.” If you wanted something, chances are it was available. There was a diverse assortment of reasonably priced festival food at Chow Town, with everything from lobster corndogs to

Lollapalooza, Chicago 2011 Photo: Eric Stupnitsky

Lollapalooza, Chicago 2011 Photo: Eric Stupnitsky

locally grown organic meals to Chicago staples like hot dogs and deep-dish pizza. Unlike most concerts where bottled water can cost as much as the ticket itself, Lollapalooza attendees could purchase $2 eco-friendly bottles and refill them for free at one of the many filling stations.

There were even charging stations for your electronics, as well as a long-awaited bag check for bulky belongings. And when staff realized how hot the Perry’s tent become after 15,000 bodies danced around it for hours on Friday, half of the roof was taken off by Saturday to provide festival goers with more of a natural breeze. Even the wristbands were extra special this year. Three-day pass holders received a high-tech, fabric wristband that came with a built-in computer chip for added security.
With all of these perks in addition to the music and the unexpected storms, I know I cannot be alone when I say that this past weekend at Lollapalooza is one that I will remember forever. For those who can’t wait to see how Lollapalooza throws a 21st birthday celebration when it returns to Chicago in 2012, don’t worry! Perry Farrell just announced that the festival will return to Santiago, Chile on March 31-April 1, 2012, quickly followed by the brand-new Lollapalooza Brazil in Sao Paulo on April 7-8, 2012. Talk about turning 21 in style…

HorizonVU Music has been created to support the independent music community by working with emerging musicians iin the global world of rock, alternative and folk. www.horizonvumusic.com

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