This morning, I was watching a SoFar Sounds video featuring Begonia. Her performance was so perfect that I wondered if she was lip-syncing. She’s not. Begonia is just perfect.
When I listen to her, I’m reminded of Dusty Springfield. Her voice isn’t as raspy but there’s that old school soul vibe happening. When she sings, it’s a combination of heartache and hope. The songs on her Lady in Mind album represent the phases of how you feel after a breakup.
1.” Juniper “- You know that feeling when you’ve had your heart broken. All sad songs and tears.
2. “Out of My Head” – But then you’re going to burn all of your ex’s stuff.
3. “Lady in Mind” – Your friends just want you to move on already from this hot mess phase . . .
4. “Hot Dog Stand “- just as soon as you quit crying into your wine/ice cream.
5. “I Don’t Wanna Love You” – Then sometime after all of that you put on your favorite lipstick and go buy new shoes because there’s a glimmer of hope for starting life over?
Ex-boyfriend/girlfriend who? Well, that is the feeling that Begonia captures.
I love this album. She’s going on a tour in the fall. If she doesn’t come to Ohio, I might cry in my wine/ice cream.
This interview with shallow pools went swimmingly. We talked about taking risks and sharks. The ladies of shallow pools -Glynnis Brennan (Vocals/Bass), Jess Gromada (Guitar), Ali Ajemian (Drums) – have become immersed in the Boston music scene since 2016. They will be making waves on a national level with the release of an EP this fall.
Ok, let’s get to the interview before I get carried away and jump the shark.
How did you become supporters of the LGBTQIA community?
We’re all part of the community so it came naturally for us to be big supporters!
If someone wanted to be more involved in LGBTQIA community activities, where should they start?
Most of the activities we enjoy doing lead us to other people in the LGBTQIA community that enjoy the same things. There are a lot of facebook groups for fun events, there are housing groups for finding LGBTQIA friendly apartments, and so much more! If you’re in Boston, a good place to go is the monthly “Break the Chains” queer dance party which is all ages.
Does everyone in the band identify as a specific pronoun?
We all use she/her pronouns!
Do you prefer the shallow end of the pool or the deep end?
A unanimous “deep end”, ironically.
How long do you have to wait to go swimming after watching “Jaws” or “Sharknado”?
Approximately zero minutes. Both movies are iconic– none of us are afraid of sharks!
What is the riskiest thing that any of you have ever done?
One time Glynnis tried to open a can of soup with a knife (clearly we’re not big risk takers).
What do you want people to know about Shallow Pools?
We want people to know that we understand the importance of representation and hope that by embracing our own identities, we’ll inspire others to do the same!
Where was your first show?
The first show that we played for real as a group was at a venue called Club Bohemia at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, MA. The first show we played as shallow pools was at O’Brien’s in Allston, MA!
For the past week, I’ve been trying to write a review for Language by Starchild & The New Romantic. The writing has been going – or hasn’t been going, really. There have been distractions, like naps, trying not to sweat, Prince videos, Netflix and more Prince videos, etc.
I will just tell you what I like about this album. That seems simple enough.
What I like about this album
It’s not cheesy. It’s not without romantic sentiments but the songs are more subtle than the usual R & B tracks.
I like Black Diamond. It’s a little bit disco and a little DeBarge. If you don’t know DeBarge, go to Google immediately. I tend to get sidetracked by Chico DeBarge. It is what it is. I’m totally going to watch Chico in between Starchild and Prince videos.
The songs do not all sound the same. I love it when an album has variety. Black Diamond is not like Ophelia’s Room which is not like Some People I Know. They are all great songs in their own way.
The biggest disappointment of Warped Tour was not being able to find the line for the Sharptooth tent. Motionless in White played immediately after Sharptooth so the crowd . . . omg . . . . so many people.
Sharptooth kicked ass. Every time I turned to make sure my Warped Tour Buddy wasn’t getting trampled, I was drawn back to Sharptooth. Luckily, Warped Tour Buddy wasn’t even stepped on by the really drunk lady who was shamelessly flirting with some hot dude. You go drunk lady! She played a mean air guitar. So she has that going for her.
On most days, I would see photos of Sweet Leda on Instagram. They must have a photographer following them or one of the band members doubles as band historian.
Anyway, after some begging and pleading, Sweet Leda agreed to do a guest post. So welcome Julie of Sweet Leda.
Oh hi! How are you? My name is Julie and I am a health and nutrition coach, a vocalist in a band, and a math course/textbook writer/designer. I am a lover of people, music, vegetables, and wine. I’ve started writing some blogs for my band and health coach business. I have one big message I would love to share, but first, let me share a few separate but related stories to pre-explain my point.
1. One fine day, I emailed a group of coworkers (from a previous job) to tell them I would be out on a certain day because my mother was having surgery. I received a reply from one of my colleagues, saying something like “I hope the surgery goes well!” Very sweet! Strangely enough, nobody else replied. (Most of us worked from home, so email and conference calls were our only forms of communication.)
Question: If you told someone in the hallway that your mom was having surgery, wouldn’t you expect the normal response to be something like “Oh wow! Prayers for your mom.” Why would it be any different over email?
Fast forward to another day. I decided to take off work on my 30th birthday. Although I was on vacation, I still checked my work email that morning (so responsible! I know, I’m a saint). I saw that I was cc’d on an email and it mentioned having me help out on a project that day. I sent a quick reply saying sorry I couldn’t help; I was off work for my 30th!! Woohoo! Guess how many “happy birthday” replies I received? Zero. Ummmm. Wow. Is this what we’ve become? We don’t even care enough about our own coworkers to wish someone a damn happy birthday? Yowza. 30 is a big one! I’m not expecting them to send me flowers and rainbows and to fawn all over me. But I think any decent person would reply and say something kind. “Happy Birthday, old lady! [random emojis]” Right?! I mean, why not? It literally would take 7 seconds, depending on the quantity and complication level of emojis.
So. Did I really need them to reply and say something kind? Absolutely not! So what’s my beef with this situation? I am upset that this is super common. It’s the new normal. It’s what many of us have become—stone cold robots who only care about ourselves and our immediate robot family and friends. We are so distracted.
Question: What would you do if you were talking to a coworker in the office and they said tomorrow was their 30th bday; would you stare at them blankly and then walk away? No; you’d probably say “happy birthday!” It’s so simple. So why wouldn’t you say it over email if you can’t see them in person? Sorry to go on and on, but it truly baffles me. Ok, moving on to a separate story…
2. I used to be a server. (I think everyone should wait tables at some point in their life, just to see what it’s really like. But that’s another blog for another day!) I would always greet my tables with a big warm, heartfelt “Hi there! How are you doing today?!” People would usually reply with “I’m good and you? Can I have an iced tea”, something along those lines. But some people? They would cut me off before I finished my sweet but very quick greeting, and bust out with a firm “I’ll have an iced tea” without even looking up from their menu. In my humble opinion, this is unacceptable. Always. You know what I am in addition to being your personal food and drink fetcher? I am also a wife. I am a daughter. I adore my grandma. I am a sister, an ex-teacher, a vocalist, an empath, a health coach. I am a person. Am I expecting you to be my new best friend and write me a poem about how thankful you are that I am bringing you tea on ice? Nahhhh. I just expect you to treat me like a human. Or maybe like a sweet puppy dog—that would be great too. Everyone loves a puppy. I believe that nobody has the right to talk to a server that way, unless you are on fire and desperately need some tea to extinguish the flames. If you are in a huge hurry and therefore cannot wait for me to finish my sentence, go to Panera or Chipotle and not a sit-down-and-wait restaurant, ya silly goose.
So. Why do you think some people talk to servers this way? I’m sure you’ve seen it before. What the heck is up with that? I think that when we see our friends do it, we should call them out. I waited tables for years and I was amazed at how mean people could be for no reason! I’m sure you’ve witnessed it too. The trick is, we need to make sure WE are not in that subset of people.
3. For my third story, let’s try a hypothetical situation. Suppose you meet a new friend at the gym. He is hilarious! You two decide to go out for a drink after a workout one day. So you’re sitting at the bar, sweat dripping into your beer. And you get to talking. You find out your new buddy is RICH. I mean dollar-pooping rich. It wasn’t always this way; he scored a big fancy job a few years ago and now he’s got a bunch of cash. And you’re like “whoaaaaaaaa that must be so nice. You are truly lucky.” But he confides that it can actually be tough. He’s feeling lonely! He’s lost touch with a lot of his old buddies since he had to move away for his fancy high-paying job. And it’s been hard making friends out here.
Ok, so now you have a choice.
a) You can sit there and smile and finish your beer, and quietly roll your eyes inside your head cuz you CAN’T BELIEVE THIS RICH DUDE IS ACTUALLY COMPLAINING ABOUT HAVING MONEY!! You would be ELATED if you could get rid of your money problems. You could tell yourself he’s just being ridiculous and ungrateful, or just not admitting that being rich is AWESOME and carefree.
b) Or you could really listen. You could try to put yourself in this dude’s shoes. You could say “Really?? Wow! That surprises me. Tell me more.” Maybe he has problems that a lot of us don’t have, which make him feel even lonelier.
Sooo you can choose! You can choose to judge him and believe that you know more about being rich than this rich guy does. Or you can choose to listen. Maybe just maybe, if you were in his situation, you would feel that way too.
Question: Why do you think we can be so quick to judge people these days, rather than be quick to understand a different point of view? I hear it all the time. “Oh, that soldier’s family is upset that he’s being deployed? Well that’s what he signed up for. Oh, you’re upset about the mass shooting at an office? Well they should have hired full-time security. Their fault.” BLEGH. This is NOT a realistic, empathetic, human, or productive way of thinking. One day it’s likely gonna be our turn to face a tough or even horrific experience. Wouldn’t it totally suck if you not only had to go through a tragedy, but also had to hear strangers blame and criticize you for it? Barf.
4. Ok one last quickie. A few years ago, my band Sweet Leda played a big New Year’s Eve show in Annapolis. It was a blast! A sold-out show. A day or two later, some girl tweets and tags us, saying she didn’t like us or our songwriting. (Wow. And a Happy New Year to you too, Ms. Thang!) I checked out her profile and oh my, she sure does like to form and share opinions. Ya know what stinks about this situation? Well, a lot. But I think the biggest thing that bothers me is that this kind of thing happens all. the. time. People put others down every day on social media. It’s super common. But does that mean it’s acceptable? I think it’s eff’d up. What would YOU do if you saw a band and didn’t like them? Would you feel that it’s important to let the band know, and to shout it in front of everyone? Hold on. Don’t we often wish children were nicer and would stop bullying others? Well shouldn’t we expect adults to be nice, too? First of all, I think she walked in that door already not liking us. Cuz we are so likable! Cute as a button. Secondly, if she didn’t like us, that’s ok. But WHY on earth would she think it’s important to put us down and TAG us so that we are sure to see it? I really wanna know. How sad. What do you think? Have you ever been in this position? Whatever happened to that “hey girls, let’s build each other up and support each other!” stuff? So. I did decide to reply. I said something like “True; I may not be the best songwriter. But I would NEVER put down another woman in public. Happy New Year to you!!” (She didn’t reply.)
There is something missing these days that I believe is the root of many disagreements. Disagreements as small as road rage and as big as major political issues. What’s missing is everyday kindness and empathy. We need to treat these things as responsibilities instead of optional personality traits. They need to be our default setting. If they are missing from our everyday lives, what the heck are we even doing here? Yes, we should all be kind to one another because, you know, sunshine and rainbows and love and stuff. But this connects to something bigger. I’m sure you’ve noticed the news is quite busy these days. There are sooooo many topics being discussed and wow! So many arguments. Mass shootings, natural disasters, and people who need our help. Arguments based on terminology, minor details, and memes, rather than issues and the facts behind them. We judge others even though we honestly don’t know what we would do if we were in their shoes. How can we form sensible opinions on things we don’t know much about, and/or don’t take a few moments to consider all points of view? What is going on??! Things seem to be getting worse. I think a lot of this stems from not understanding each other, and not caring enough to try. Cuz we’re busy. We’re all pretty maxed out. But the only way we can even come close to moving forward on any of these big issues? We gotta care about people and the issues they face. If people are different from us, it doesn’t mean they are less important. Care about your friends, neighbors, coworkers. Care about the people you haven’t met yet. Does this mean we need to stand in a circle holding hands while singing about peace and love? No, honey! We just need to be curious, we need to be kind, and we should WANT to learn the facts before we form an opinion. We need to take a second to wish a coworker a happy birthday, we need to treat strangers as people, and we need to stop being jerks on social media. We need to start asking questions when we don’t understand a point of view, rather than just assuming they’re wrong. We need to call our friends out when they’re being obnoxious. We need to set examples for our kids. Being kind and caring does NOT take extra effort and I believe, should not be a choice. It should be the norm.
It’s not just about you, and it’s not just about me. It’s about us. And I love you.
Thank you for reading! I wish you health, happiness, and safety.
If you haven’t watched Loah on YouTube, there’s still time. Her songs are difficult to categorize – except for the awesome category. Apparently, Loah has been doing some acting so maybe we’ll see her on the big screen. Until then, there’s still YouTube.
Where was your first concert? Either as a performer or a fan.
Youssou N’dour in Gambia in 2000! I did not fully appreciate the significance as a child in attendance with my mum!
If you could put together a dream concert, who would be playing?
You seem so comfortable on stage and just in general. Is there a secret to maintaining self-confidence?
Love the tunes you’re singing, be rehearsed af, and love the act itself of sharing art with people in a public space. I wouldn’t agree I’m comfortable in general or that every gig is perfect, I have socially awkward days and some great days. However, when those three aspects line up it does feel really good.
Do you write your own songs?
Yes. I collaborate with people on projects as well but generally, excepting covers, if I’m singing stuff as Loah then it comes from me.
How would you describe ArtSoul?
A blend of everything that I have grown up in as a person and artist – a direct interpretive fusion of multiple genres of influence (folk, soul, jazz, western classical music and west african folk) as a response to my life and the way I see the world, and a response to other works such as my favourite painters, writers and films.
What was the first song that you remember performing?
‘Hold Your Hand Out You Naughty Boy’ for my family when I was 4!
Will you be touring in the United States in the near future?
Not quite yet but I’ll get there eventually!
What is something great about your hometown?
Maynooth is my real hometown but I’ve lived in Dublin for years, and I adore Dublin because although it’s a capital it still feels like living in a village. It is so small that you bump into everyone you know constantly so it feels like everyone is on this lovely timeline together.
What would you like people to know about you?
I’m exploring acting in the last two years and I’m loving learning and growing into another amazing art form so I plan to do a lot more of that in the coming years.