SoCal born and bred, Phoebe Silva started her music life as a child playing classical violin. Later she dove into musical theater in Philadelphia and New York City. For the past few years Phoebe has been cementing her place in the LA music scene and we are so excited to have her play at our show this Saturday at The Hotel Cafe!
CGCM: You have been a part of duets and bands in the past - what made you decide to step out on your own to pursue a solo career?
Phoebe: Honestly, a desire for creative freedom. I guess that’s pretty cliche for any artist! I love being part of a band, and I love collaborating. I have an insane pace when it comes to creative ideas, I write every day and I tend to want to move faster and with more intensity than is usually possible in a creative democracy. It takes more time and effort to coordinate a group than to be the architect of my own schedule/creative trajectory. Also not being tied to one main project means I’m more free to do lots of session work which is partly a passion and partly a way I pay the bills. I find I’m happiest and most fulfilled when I have different outlets for different aspects of my creativity. I like to spread myself around.
CGCM: Who are your musical influences?
Phoebe: I grew up listening to jazz (my dad is a huge fanatic), 80’s pop and classical music (from mom), oldies stations and musical theater (all me.) I also loved the 90’s alt-folk/pop female singer songwriters I grew up listening to. I was/am a huge fan of Fiona Apple, Ben Folds, Sarah MacLachlan, and Jewel’s early work. I find my songwriting largely influenced by jazz standards and classic early 20th century American songwriting... the Gershwin’s, Harold Arlen, and then also classic folk and country writers like Willie Nelson, Hank Williams and Dolly Parton. I surprised myself a bit when I started writing songs and realized I had so many old influences, because I love contemporary pop, R&B and the new Americana/folk artists than bend genres. But I have a degree in musical theater and studied the heck out of early 20th century music so I don’t know why that surprised me.
CGCM: If you had to pick one positive and one negative aspect to being a musician in Los Angeles, what would those be?
Phoebe: Positive: community. I’ve found a greater sense of community here than anywhere else I’ve lived, and I’ve lived a lot of places. There is such a spirit of camaraderie and collaboration here and I love it so much. On the flip side, there is a LOT of saturation in the indie music scene so it can be tough to get noticed. That, and it’s so freaking expensive to live here I can’t stand it. Tough to make money as a musician in LA unless you’re a session musician, so I’m super grateful to be both an artist and a session player (as a violinist.)
CGCM: What's next?
Phoebe: I’m finishing up my second single “Strong Enough” that will come out on Valentine’s Day. Similar to my first single “The Best Thing!” that came out in December, it’s a brassy, sassy, bluesy retro-feeling tune. I’ve also got my first music video for “The Best Thing!” coming out later this month. After that I have plans to record a ton of new songs I wrote last year, leaning way more into my introspective folk side. I’m super excited to roll those out and surprise people with the change in tone and style!
Photo by Tammie Valer
Aimee Lovett Sommer, champion of collaboration, is the powerhouse front woman of the band Loretti. Read on and you will discover her way with words extends well beyond her songwriting. See her this Saturday's at CGCM's LA show at The Hotel Cafe!
CGCM: How do your Texas roots affect your music life in Los Angeles?
Aimie: Ironically, I never really embraced my southern heritage musically until I moved to Los Angeles in 2010. The few years prior to my move I was aware of the influences of my youth on my songwriting, but viewed it as an obstacle rather than platform. When I arrived in Los Angeles I experienced a personal epiphany, one that sent me on a path of going with the flow rather than resisting who I was at my core. Suddenly I found myself sinking deeply into the most fundamental sounds and voices I could recall from my childhood. Voices like Marty Robbins, Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, John Denver, and Linda Rondstat (whose style and versatility is my strongest influence). The harmonies of gospel groups like The Statler Brothers also took up so much space in my music archive that it was inescapable. I discovered that for me as an artist, finding my way home meant a deliverance from angst when it came to songwriting.
CGCM: Tell us about your company Softer Sex Productions.
Aimie: Softer Sex Productions was born from conversations about the struggles for female and femme artists between Rose Shawhan, a dear friend and fellow musician, and myself. We realized that to accomplish any changes in the community we had to be part of the movement to alter the community by assisting Female artists in booking and playing desirable venues in Los Angeles. We attended a couple of the PLAG workshops, and were inspired to get to know every female artist in LA, grow our network, and also grow an audience that was purely seeking out talented and deserving Performers. Our shows are designed to be beneficial for both the audience and the artists. We strive for a positive experience for all involved, including the venues.
CGCM: If you could give a piece of advice to new female artists just starting out, what would it be?
Aimie: I have a couple of things that I really wish I had known a few years ago. For one, write! Start writing music, keep writing music, and never stop writing music. Don't let a bad song stop you from writing! We have music in us, some of it works for stage and some of it doesn't, but you have to materialize it to know for sure. Write every line and thought that you have down, develop everything into a melody, make voice memos constantly. Build your library because even if it doesn't seem "good" now, it may be useful in a new project later on. Save all of those jewels from your life!
Secondly, I'd say go to shows. Don't even think about it if you have to go alone. Just go to every show in your area that you can. Introduce yourself to musicians, venue staff, bookers, and fans. The more visible you are in your community the easier it is to find your people. Community works! I don't mean tedious or fake "networking", I mean be true to yourself and go where you will find your kindred spirits in the music world. As a musician you will need so much support. Band members, writing partners, photographers, videographers, sound engineers, producers, booking agents, etc, they all gather together and you should be there too. Face to face meeting is becoming a lost art, and it can be so meaningful when you share interests and goals.
CGCM: What's next?
Aimie: With our recently released Single, Congratulations, we hope to make the rounds early spring in search of our Audience. Social Media promotion can only get you so far. Loretti is a unique sound that I find hard to describe, so the best way to grow our fanbase is to let music lovers see us. We will be playing several LA venues in early 2020 and anticipate a release of our EP sometime in late spring. We are currently working on video content as well. In the New Year I plan to go back to the studio with Mike Post at MooseCat Recording Studios, to record some covers and new Loretti songs. Mike co-produced the new single and upcoming EP and I cannot express what an asset and joy he is to work with! I've know Mike for a few years and have found the perfect partner for the Loretti sound landscaping. I also plan to work with Ainjel Emme at Box of Joy, recording and building on some other potential projects. Ainjel is an inspirational Female Figure in LA, both as a trail-blazer and a mentor. She also happens to be one of the most genuine and generous women I've ever met.
Photo by BKM Photography
Heather Anne Lomax, the artist formerly known as Michael-Ann, has been a staple of the country music scene in Los Angeles for years. After sharing the stage with the likes of Mark Chesnutt, Wanda Jackson, and Wynona Judd, she will be joining City Girls/Country Music at The Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles this Saturday!
CGCM: Are you originally from LA?
Heather: No, I am from Kansas City. Born in NY, raised the early part of my childhood in Connecticut originally.
CGCM: What led you to start pursuing a career in music?
Heather: I think it just always seemed like it was a part of me, so I started to perform out after writing some of my own music.
CGCM: How have you dealt with being a woman in a male-dominated industry?
Heather: I think women are slowly being “heard”, there is also an indie market nowadays with a wide open pasture for women to be recognized without the need for a major label.
CGCM: You were adopted and recently got to know your birth family. How has this affected your music?
Heather: Oh dear, this is a novel needing to be written, really. Well, my mother was a musician herself, and my dad’s side of the family was also in the entertainment business-so, I guess my love of music was passed on genetically. I used my mothers guitar (that my cousin Ginny kindly drove down to present to me) on a couple of tracks on my upcoming record.
I think about my mother every time I perform now. She has passed, and in many ways I want to honor her by doing what she should have been doing for the remainder of her life, if she were still alive today.
CGCM: What’s next?
Heather: I have a single coming out soon, and a new record release and upcoming tour..so that’s plenty!
Photo by Neil Kremer Johnson
This was one of those shows that started out on a hectic note for me. I drove up from Boston with my husband and, of course, couldn't find any street parking. Our only option was to hand over our car to an attendant at an underground "no ins-and-outs" garage. As other cars waited behind us, I frantically unloaded my gear from the trunk, swapped out my sneakers for my fancy boots, and grabbed my faux fur-collared stage jacket. I realized too late that I had left my jeans folded neatly in the backseat, so I ended up playing my first ever show in yoga pants, which was... quite comfortable actually. It was the mullet of outfits - stage on the top and couch on the bottom.
At the venue, I realized I was missing some important gear as well. In response to this realization, I did what years of experience in the music world has taught me to do - ordered a whiskey. Immediately after that, my DSLR camera died. Se la vie.
With the help of that whiskey, I managed to carry on with my set. Then like a Brooklyn angel appearing from the crowd, Megg Farrell came to the rescue, jumping in on sound and helping the Snowy Mountain Sisters set up.
As I adoringly watched Megg and The Sisters put on a hell of a show, what started out as hectic night turned into a heartening music memory packed with amazing women doing their thing. The moral of the story is that if you're feeling frazzled, go to our Spotify playlist, pick a woman, and go see her play a show! You won't regret it.
Follow Megg Farrell on Instagram and Facebook. See her next at Bar Velo on December 18.
Follow The Snowy Mountain Sisters on Instagram and Facebook. See them next at The Penrose on December 15. Individually, the band members are making some great work, so make sure to follow Kendra Jo Brook here, Brittany Brook here, and Allison Kelly here. Also, keep an eye out for Brittany and Kendra Jo's original play The Wasp & The Raven, which was workshopped in London in November and will be premiering next year in the US.
Finally, I'd like to give a huge shout out to Skinny Dennis for providing such a great spot for country music in the heart of the city! Thank you for having us!
About 6 months ago I was sitting on my bed in Los Angeles, rummaging through Instagram looking for country acts in New York City. I stumbled across a video of Megg Farrell and instantly fell in love. Megg's honky-tonk style is right up my alley and her witty songs delivered with smokey vocals have been stuck in my head ever since.
She will be playing our first NYC show tomorrow at Skinny Dennis in Brooklyn!
CGCM: How long have you been living and playing music in New York?
Megg: I've been performing for about 14 years.
CGCM: You just wrapped up a tour of Russia. What was your favorite moment form the tour?
Megg: I think our final performance was really special. The band was so tight after having done so many shows together. All our arrangements were ingrained in our brains but we also knew it was the last night so everyone gave it there all and added new energy to each tune. We did an extended set and really gave our all to that audience. They seemed to really appreciate it too. It was a great way to end such an amazing tour.
CGCM: How do the Russian audiences compare with the ones here in the US?
Megg: They were very respectful but that also may be because of the difference in the gigs. Out there we were booked at large concert halls where people sat quietly and listened. In America I tend to play rowdy bars where you have to fight with the audience to be heard. They were very attentive. One thing they did that Americans don't do as often they would clap in unison after a song was finished. I think it was to show they were excited but it was definitely odd for us!
CGCM: What’s next?
Megg: Our album is coming out in February with Dala Records. I'm working on getting Sweet Megg out there!
Raised on a ranch in Montana, Kendra Jo and Brittany Brook spent their childhood playing bluegrass with their family at community events. The sisters now live in New York City where they perform as actors, singer-songwriters, and musicians in their female-dominant bluegrass collective, The Snowy Mountain Sisters. They've both produced and released their own singer-songwriter albums and are currently applying for grants to produce the first Snowy album, made 100% by female-identifying artists!
Kendra Jo and Brittany Just returned from London together, where they were invited by Jeremy Harrison of Rose Bruford College to develop their newly-written play, "The Wasp and The Raven” in his classroom of Actor-Musicians Master students.
We are excited to have The Snowy Mountain Sisters join our first NYC show and got to know a little more about the them in a conversation with Kendra Jo.
CGCM: You are sisters from Montana. What made you take the leap to move to New York City?
Kendra Jo: I came to NYC in 2012, and it was kind of a whim of a decision. Many of my classmates were coming to pursue musical theatre, so I thought it might be the right place. I thought if I didn’t at least try New York that I would end up regretting it. No regrets!!
And then after I got here, I realized that I needed my older sister here too to make things happen! So, I begged her and her husband to move, and they did! And thank goodness, because Britt’s been my best pal and my business partner for many years now.
CGCM: When did you start playing music together?
Kendra Jo: We’ve always played music together. I can’t really remember a time when we weren’t singing or dancing or playing an instrument together. Music is a large part of our family, so it’s always been there for us.
As for the Snowy Mountain Sisters band — we formed in 2015 as a bluegrass collective for women. We wanted to make a group where we could collaborate and perform with other women!
CGCM: Who are your musical influences?
Kendra Jo: For me, Dolly Parton is my greatest influence. I learned how to sing with my true voice by listening to her. She’s the greatest storyteller and songwriter of all time! Alison Krauss was a huge one too— I saw her in concert with Union Station when I was seven, and that really got me turned on to fiddling.
Britt is CRAZY about Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile. Those are two of the greatest songwriters as well, so I see why Britt is a gifted songwriter. Britt’s been writing songs since she could talk. We were very religious when we were kids, so she would write praise songs and sing them at church. Pretty cute.
CGCM: What's next for the band?
Kendra Jo: The band is busy! We play around the city several times a month. Our next show will be at the Penrose on December 15th!
In the new year, we will be teaching a 6 week songwriting workshop to girls, ages 8-13, here in the city.
Brittany is ready to put out another EP, featuring the Snowy Mountain Sisters. It will be titled “At Least the Point is Living”.
And in 2020 we will be recording an album with the Snowy Mountain Sisters, featuring original songs of our band members, as well as other female-identifying artists in NYC. Super excited for that one!