Ready to Shake Things Up? Midas Whale!

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It usually takes years for a musician to become an “overnight sensation”. Such is the case with Ryan Hayes, also known as 1/2 of the epic and eclectic duo “Midas Whale”, who recently exploded on the music scene thanks to their strong performances and witty humor on the hit television show “The Voice”.

I sat down with Ryan to find out more about him, and what comes next for the folk duo.

Linescratchers first became aware of you when you were part of the brother-sister duo “Sunshine Brady and the Moonlight Lady“. Tell us a little bit about this project – how did it get started? Did you record or perform or both, and what was the music like?

RH: Sunshine Brady was my first performance project. I have always been a writer of music or musician of sorts, but to stand in front of people and play was an entirely foreign thing that I wanted to try out. I recruited my sister Becca because performing solo is very lame in my opinion. She has a way of making people comfortable and that made performing very easy. The music was fun and folky and we were a hit in Rexburg in no time at all. I think a lot of people were drawn to what we did because we refused to take ourselves seriously. We never recorded, though some live recordings do exist if you know who to ask.

Was that duo your first serious effort with music? If not – where did you really get your start with music?

RH: It was my first effort as a singer, but no. I played the trumpet since I was 11 and I had been writing music on the guitar since I was 14.

You mentioned you think playing solo is lame…

RH: I always work in groups. Like I said, I think solo artists are lame. For me, I get much more joy out of hearing one of my songs sung by another person than I could ever get from singing it myself. Deep Love is a prime example of this. It has grown into a family of 40+ people with many moving parts and I am content just being a part of the motion rather than the star.

How did “Midas Whale” get started, how long have you been together, and where do you see yourselves going?

RH: Jon convinced me to form a duo specifically for the show in August of 2012, so this is a brand new thing. Jon and I have collaborated for several years on producing a rock opera I co-wrote with Garrett Sherwood called Deep Love. We thought that going on national TV would help us to promote Deep Love, and even though it wasn’t talked about on the show we have certainly given Deep Love a sure future by doing this.   Midas Whale itself was an instant fan favorite on the show and our untimely departure was a shock to the nation. We are now entirely devoted to keeping Midas Whale a household name and actively increasing our reach. We are hard at work raising money for an album (via Kickstarter) and planning for a summer tour.

You have a sound that is very original, and yet completely classic at the same time. Tell us a little about what music and what artists have influenced you.

RH: My sound probably seems original because I don’t listen to much contemporary music. If you were to listen to music from the early to mid 1900’s you might hear something familiar to what I write. I am a big fan of the piano plunkers like Hoagy Carmichael and George Gershwin along with singers like Bing Crosby and Yves Montand. The writing and singing style of those days appeals to me for its melodic value and as a result can’t stomach much of the rhythm driven music of today.

How has being on “The Voice” this year impacted you personally and professionally?

RH: It has been very nice to see the degree of personal pride my friends, family and acquaintances all take from it. Many people I know personally who have had it rough this last year have found strength and pride in seeing me on TV. It’s weird how that happens, but I know I would feel the same way if I had seen some schoolmate of mine doing the same thing. If I can be the means of raising someone’s spirits then it’s all worth it. Professionally I would say that this season of the Voice has marked me as a musician. Before, I would have hesitated to call myself a musician. Firstly, I am a working geologist and secondly I don’t see myself professionally in the same rank as people who have striven all their lives to master an instrument. THOSE are true musicians in my opinion. The reality, however, is that I think more about music than any other thing, and being paid to do it makes me qualified for the title. I have started calling myself a musician, and it’s beginning to feel less weird.

What was your favorite experience/favorite part of being on “The Voice” ?

RH: I would say the most amazing part of it all is becoming familiar with and close to all of the singers on the show. I feel like many of them are my kindred spirits and I can’t even imagine not knowing them. I made relationships with people there that I will keep for the rest of my life. Initially I thought that they would all be the reality TV type that are competitive and arrogant, but what I found was quite the opposite. They are some of the kindest, most genuine and talented people I have ever met. I know that I’ll be working with many of them for years to come.

In my circles, people seemed pretty surprised and genuinely interested that a couple of young folkies were able to speak fluent Spanish with Shakira and that you had both lived in foreign countries.  Did this prove to be an opportunity to have conversations about the gospel, as part of your explanation of how/why you had these skills and experiences?

RH: Hardly. I don’t try to hide the fact that I am LDS, but I don’t try to advertise it either. When people would ask me how I learned Spanish I would simply say I lived in Ecuador, and that was usually enough for them. I am always excited to talk about the gospel but will only open up if I feel like the moment is right.

There were several LDS artists featured on “The Voice” this year…

RH: Yes, Ryan Innes and Amy Whitcomb were both on the show and I have grown rather close to both of them. Coincidentally we were all eliminated on the same week. I am so honored to have known both of them and we all plan to go on the road together this summer.

How has the public reacted to your music? Has the LDS Music community embraced you?

RH: I think the timing is perfect for our music. We are at the beginning of the new age of folk music, both nationally and internationally. Because of my lifelong love affair with the genre I feel somewhat like I do have something to contribute amid all of this. I feel right at home doing it. I think the LDS community in Rexburg stands very firmly behind us, but we’re working to win over Utah. We claim Rexburg because we met there, but the fact is we live and work in the Wasatch area.

I agree that the time is right for a new folk emergence – just look at the recent success of  groups like Mumford and Sons and others who have displayed clear folk influences in their music.  Even the commercially driven show American Idol produced a folk-flavored winner in 2012 with Philip Phillips. So – What is next for you?

RH: Kickstarter, then album/touring. We’re very hard at work to make sure this all happens.

Where can people find out more about you, buy your music, see your shows, etc etc etc?

RH: Follow us at https://www.facebook.com/MidasWhale and https://twitter.com/MidasWhale

and interact with us on our website http://www.midaswhale.com/

Midas Whale is in the last week of their Kickstarter fundraising campaign – if you enjoyed them and would like to support them, please act quickly to help make sure their album project becomes a reality.

Matt Mylroie is an independant music producer, audio engineer, songwriter, and musician from Tampa Florida and a semi-regular contributor to linescratchers.com.  You can connect with Matt via the contact info on linescratchers or at www.driftwoodtidemusic.com

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Ready to Shake Things Up? Midas Whale!

The Ghost and the Guest: An Unexpected and Unlikely Album

Jake Workman The Ghost and the Guest is an interesting album that was recorded in a simple bedroom studio and was released last year by LDS artist Jake Workman. Loyal Linescratchers followers may recognize Jake from his days with the group “The Sweater Friends”. Prior to listening to this album, I had never heard any of his music, and knew little about him. So, it was with a completely fresh and unbiased perspective that I was able to sit down and listen to his music.

I reviewed the album in a digital download form and found that the download contained much more than just music. Graphics from the album are included, as is a scanned copy of a handwritten thank you note from Jake. Most interesting though was a large booklet, which was conveniently provided in a number of different e-reader formats. Right about here is where things started to get weird, interesting, or sentimental – depending on how you look at it. The included e-book comes in at over 40 pages. In the preface, we learn that the songs were inspired by the life of Henry Pickett Pratt, who was born in 1866, and left a journal about some of his early life – a journal which was read by Jake Workman. Something about this man and his experiences struck a chord (pun intended) with Jake, and provided the inspiration for the songs on the album. The e-book includes portions of the journal that provide a backdrop of sorts for the songs. Jake has intended for the journal and the music to be enjoyed simultaneously in order to get the full experience of what he intended to create and capture.

Continue reading “The Ghost and the Guest: An Unexpected and Unlikely Album”

The Ghost and the Guest: An Unexpected and Unlikely Album

Haun’s Mill: “Away”

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Haun’s Mill’s new album came out on September 21. They sent me a copy for review more than two months before that. And I’ve been listening to it regularly in that time, but what with touring (theirs) and illness (mine) and losing things (universal), this darn interview has taken for bleeding ever to get into a final form. But we arrived! And it was worth it!

Because of my ongoing inability to embed videos on Linescratchers, the full version of this interview will appear only on A Motley Vision, but to whet your appetite, here is an excerpt:

Continue reading “Haun’s Mill: “Away””

Haun’s Mill: “Away”

NEW RELEASE – Jeff Zentner’s A Season Lost

Album artwork by Matt Page

Linescratchers artist Jeff Zentner has released a new album entitled A Season Lost on his Bandcamp page.  From his Official Facebook Page:

My friends, it is my great pleasure to announce the release of my new album, A Season Lost, on July 24, 2012. I could not be more proud of this album. It features performances from my friends Elin Palmer, Rykarda Parasol, Arborea, Matt Bauer, Sumie Nagano, Hannah Fury, and Josie Little.

I will be getting back with you soon on pre-order details, details about physical copies, etc. But for the moment, allow me to make a small entreaty for you to purchase this album, which will cost $8 for the digital version.

Every penny that went into the making of this album came from my own pocket. Aside from the prodigious musical and artistic talents of my friends, I had no help in making it. Music is not my primary source of income. I work very hard during the day so that when I come home, to steal a few moments for making music, I am able to fund these albums, and I am at the whim of no record label or person. To say the least, sales of this album will not be funding a swimming pool in my backyard.

I don’t need to sell millions or even thousands of copies to achieve my sole financial goal for this album, which is to simply not lose hundreds of dollars. But I do need to sell hundreds, which means that if you are reading this, I need your help.

I know that times are difficult, and money is tight. But imagine the sort of fleeting pleasures you’ll spend $8 on. A salad at a modest restaurant. A movie ticket. A couple of drinks with friends. Coffee and a pastry. Parking for the day in a big city. A couple of gallons of gas. I hope that if you invest your hard-earned money in this album, it will provide you with a more lasting pleasure and satisfaction than any of those things. I hope it’s one of the best $8 you’ve ever spent. I’ve worked very hard to make it so.

And now, please enjoy your first complete listen of A Season Lost.

NEW RELEASE – Jeff Zentner’s A Season Lost

Test Marketing Low’s C’mon

For your consideration, a two step formula for judging art: 1. Identify what the artist attempted to accomplish 2. Assess whether the artist accomplished it.

Low is never as monolithic as you remember them being. One word summaries (slowcore) hide the most important and interesting part of Low–their focus on relationship. Dynamics are Low’s secret: within a harmony, a song, an album, and increasingly, a discography. Like the Beatles, like Nirvana, revisiting the back catalog is always a pleasant surprise because the precious space we have in our brains to categorize popular music doesn’t let us retain the exceptions to our heuristics. And it’s the exceptions that make those bands stand the test of time.

Continue reading “Test Marketing Low’s C’mon”

Test Marketing Low’s C’mon