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

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

Interview – Arthur Hatton, founder of Linescratchers

Arthur Hatton is a singer-songwriter based in the southern US (first Kentucky and now Georgia). He has just self-recorded and self-released Odes, his first full-length album.

Arthur is also the founder and honcho here at Linescratchers. He sat down to talk with us about the desperation that bore his new album, why anyone should care that he’s Mormon, and how Eastern Orthodox Christianity has influenced his work.

 

Odes has a unique creation story. Can you describe the contributions from all the people involved and how it came together?

Well, there are a couple creation stories for Odes.  The first is that the project was initially created to help me repair my car.  Long story short, my wife and I were driving down to Charlotte, NC, with our very small baby, for a grad school interview, when our car broke down in the middle of Tennessee.  We were then completely taken advantage of by an unscrupulous tow/mechanic guy and depleted our savings completely.  We didn’t know how we were going to pay bills that month.  So I decided that maybe I should just get a bunch of my recorded demos into some kind of presentable form on a Bandcamp account and sell them to raise money for our bills.  I had been particularly inspired by a collection of ancient Christian hymns called the Odes of Solomon and a few of my songs were strongly influenced by those hymns.  However, due to my pathetic need to pay the bills, a bunch of family and friends pre-ordered the album, enough that our immediate need was fulfilled.  Since the matter wasn’t urgent anymore, I decided to create an album out of the material that was truly worthy of being called an album.  Around 10 months later, Odes was finished.

A few of my musical contacts I’ve made through Linescratchers helped along the way.  Ian Fowles (from The Aquabats!) volunteered to play lead guitar on some songs, and he can be heard in “Don’t Wake Me Now” and “Last Song.”  Davey Morrison Dillard asked me to write a song to be featured in his upcoming film adaptation of the play WWJD? and that was “Don’t Wake Me Now.”  Adam Kaiser of the Neighbors almost played drums but moved out of his city last-minute and couldn’t do it.  I got a friend of a friend, Jared Palick, who plays drums in Portland, to play drums on “Last Song.”  My sister sang harmonies on “Gabriel,” and my brother sang harmonies on everything and played drums on all the other songs, so it was really a collective effort from a lot of friends.

Lastly, Young Sim has invited me to list my album under his Feel Good Music Coalition label which I happily did.  I love that guy and take every opportunity to work with him that I can.

Continue reading “Interview – Arthur Hatton, founder of Linescratchers”

Interview – Arthur Hatton, founder of Linescratchers

Interview – Tristyn Elizabeth, a rising star in Austin

Deep in the heart of Texas is a town known for live music, cowboys, and the blues.  When I think of Austin, Texas, I really don’t think of pop music… until now.  Allow me to introduce you to Tristyn Elizabeth.  After a couple of years of paying her dues as a singer-songwriter at many of the open mic events in Austin, she has emerged from the studio with her first real studio effort, an EP entitled Kiss Me in the Rain.  Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, she has used her time in the studio to transform herself from a singer-songwriter into a more polished pop artist, without abandoning her roots.  I actually know Tristyn, after being in her ward for a couple of years in Georgia.  I recently connected with 21-year-old Tristyn to hear her story about her development as an artist.

 

How did you get started in music?

My dad is a songwriter/producer type as well and he’d always be writing or playing or talking music all the time. That was a huge influence all my life. I remember when Britney Spears and N’sync and Backstreet boys were  huge, I’d blast it in the living room and sing and dance to it with my siblings and imagine growing up to be a singer. I started writing sometime in high school. It started when I would listen to songs on the radio and it didn’t fit how I felt. There wasn’t a song I could sing from my soul I guess, I was in high school and I was dramatic. So I started writing music on my guitar.  All the songs I wrote were kinda bad and embarrassing. Over time they got better with re-writes and new life experiences. I wrote better ones when I went off to college. Also, when I was in high school  my dad would need vocals for various projects and songs and I’d record on those. That’s basically where it started. Continue reading “Interview – Tristyn Elizabeth, a rising star in Austin”

Interview – Tristyn Elizabeth, a rising star in Austin

Interview – Andy Allen

A singer-songwriter from Utah, Andy Allen was first introduced to Linescratchers through Young Sim. He has agreed to an interview regarding his songwriting, his inspirations, and his guitars.

First, tell us how you know our buddy Young Sim.

Young Sim is actually in my ward. He is my home teacher, and I am his home teacher. We did a collaboration at FHE of my song “The Friend That Saved My Life” and some of his rapping. Since then I have played at one of his FGM nights and he has become a good mentor and friend. Sim is an amazing person dripping with knowledge and talent.

In the acoustic videos on your website it sound like you have kind of a Damien Rice vibe. Who are your major musical influences?

I definitely like Damien Rice, although I wouldn’t consider him a huge influence. I would say Johny Cash, the Format, Brandon Flowers/Killers and Elton John are huge influences. I look up a lot to Michael Buble for his vocals. Continue reading “Interview – Andy Allen”

Interview – Andy Allen

You’re a label mogul. Will you hire Colby Miller?

Colby Miller wants the internet to hire him to write, perform, record, produce, and release his next album. He’s using kickstarter to fund his next album and needs donations and preorders to make it just so. You could say that it’s a fair request since he has given away everything he’s ever recorded away for free: 2 EPs and a full-length LP last year, and various covers and demos this year. Or you could do what the business world does, and grill him for a while before giving him the job. Since it’s spring, I opted to grill. Because he is a gentleman and smart job seeker, Colby wore his interview-best.  Ladies and gentlemen of the hiring board: I give you Colby Miller. Continue reading “You’re a label mogul. Will you hire Colby Miller?”

You’re a label mogul. Will you hire Colby Miller?