Category Archives: Artist Spotlight

J Fernandez Talks About His New Album [Artist Spotlight]

By (Artist Post)

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On June 9th, Joyful Noise will be releasing J Fernandez’s full-length debut album, “Many Levels of Laughter.”  Make sure to grab a copy and throw it on the turntable while you sit back and chill (or, while you work on spreadsheets).  J was kind enough to answer some questions about his music, his inspiration, and his techniques.

Q:  “Many Levels of Laughter” was recorded alone.  What is your process for piecing everything together?  In what order are the instruments recorded, and do you always approach each song with the same method?

A:  Most of the songs start with a melodic idea recorded on my phone.  It usually happens on my way to work in the morning.  Then I start recording with guitar or keys, add bass and drums later.  I’m not great at playing drums so I have to record each drum on an individual track.

Q:  After the inspiration for writing a new song first hits you, how long does it usually take before you have it completely written?

A:  Things don’t come to me that easily.  I have to force the ideas out.  I can write the basic outline of a song in a day.  But I usually end up rearranging and trying out different sounds for months.

Q:  When writing, what usually comes to you first—the music, the lyrics, or both together?

A:  The music comes first.  I keep a different notebook with ideas for lyrics.  Then I try different combinations until something matches up.

Q:  Before settling on the 9 songs for the album, how many other songs were you working on that you decided wouldn’t make the cut?

A:  There were two songs that didn’t make it on the album.  I’m still working on them.  They just didn’t fit for this one.

Q:  On the new album, which song do you feel is your best one, and why is it the best?

A:  Probably the first track, “Between the Channels.”  It went through so many different versions.  I’m just totally surprised by how that one turned out.

Q:  Which song was the most difficult or frustrating to complete?

A:  “Souvenirs.”  I like it now but it still feels like it’s not complete.

Q:  Thinking back to your earliest musical memories, what band/artist/song/album made the first significant impression on you… possibly the first thing that made you begin to realize that music meant more to you than just a hobby?

A:  I can’t really think of one specific artist or album.  I remember there was this phone service, “1-800-Music-Now.”  You could call it and search for different albums and it would play a 30 second clip of a few tracks.  When I was about 11 or 12 years old (before I had internet), I started calling it and searching for songs.  That definitely changed things for me because I heard so much new stuff.

Q:  As a writer, who would you cite as your primary musical and lyrical influences?

A:  Burt Bacharach, Ennio Morricone, Robert Pollard.

Q:  How would you describe your album to a person who was completely unfamiliar with your style?

A:  Great music to listen to while working on Excel spreadsheets.


Check out “Read My Mind” from the forthcoming album:

Artist Photo Gallery: Reptar Live in Indianapolis 4.8.15 [Artist Spotlight]

Graham Ulicny performing with Reptar at The HI-Fi in Indianapolis Photo: Roberto Campos

Graham Ulicny performing with Reptar at The HI-Fi in Indianapolis Photo: Roberto Campos

Reptar has recently released they’re new record, Lurid Glowwhich is excellent. Reptar is known for its live show which are: electric, dynamic and makes the audience dance. Reptar’s show in Indianapolis was a homecoming of sorts since Joyful Noise’s headquarters is in Indianapolis, so of course for such an occasion, this show would have an underlying sense of sentimentality to it.

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SXSW 2015: Joyful Noise Brings Its Roster to South By Southwest [Artist Spotlight]


Jad Fair’s broken guitar laying on the stage at the Joyful Noise 2015 SXSW Showcase (Photo: Roberto Campos)

I couldn’t help but be shocked as Jad Fair began to break his guitar in the middle of his performance, snapping it at the base of the neck in a similar way that you would snap a stick over your knee. I was attending the Joyful Noise 2015 SXSW Showcase to take photos, and as I missed taking a photo of this candid moment, I felt my jaw drop, camera at my waist, and began to look around, questioning if this destruction supposed to happen or if Jad was actually down a guitar. I was in awe, and kind of kicking myself for not taking a photo of a moment that was truly worth 1,000 words.

The Joyful Noise 2015 SXSW Showcase was unique in a couple of ways: it was the first SXSW showcase for Joyful Noise Recordings, and a majority of the line-up are on the Joyful Noise release schedule for spring. Yonatan Gat, Reptar, Surfer Blood and Stranger Cat, the showcase brought fresh music to the ears of SXSWers as well as staples of the label like Jad Fair and Sedcairn Archives (formally DMA).

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A Fig Tree Grows In Brooklyn: A Q&A with Cat Martino [Artist Spotlight]

Cat Martino is releasing a new album under musical persona, Stranger Cat, joined by her co-producer/bandmate Sven Britt. Into The Wilderness is out 4/11/15

You can pre-order In The Wilderness now and stream the track, “Sirens” here.

My first question is, what influenced you most during the writing of this album?

Ca Martino: Hmm…influenced I’m not sure what you mean, but was led by the toys, the gear. We like to set up all the pedals, the synths, the loopers, the drum machines and play/improvise until it feels good, then do purposeful composing and editing around that. So I guess looking/listening to the moment. Being in the woods of Northern California influenced too

As far your lyrics for the album go, I picked up on references to life in Brooklyn, you mention Bushwick and a fig tree. The latter was really evocative of the place, because my grandmother (a nice old Italian lady) has a fig tree in her backyard, were you trying to evoke specific moments in your life or moods you experienced during the making of it?

CM: Amazing!!! Yes, on that one I am telling my Father’s life story, immigration from Sicily to NYC through the image of the fig. Starting with him in Sicily and ending in NYC where a fig presented to a child by his mother lets him know he is in a new home. That song is very close to me because I find a lot of inspiration in that story. So I’m speaking from my father’s perspective

Related to that, when you’re writing songs, are they mostly from your perspective, from the perspective of folks you know, or are you writing character sketches?

Cat Martino, photo by Shervin Lainez

Cat Martino, photo by Shervin Lainez

CM: All three. “Fig Tree” is completely from Vito Martino’s imagined perspective. A lot [of songs] on this record are from mine, but I also play with my own alter egos or imagine I am a character to get to something more real I couldn’t express on my own. e.g.: “Ecstatic Energy” is like my super hero outer space self talking, “R.E.D.” is a lot about feeling really controlled by a situation so I created this character, Maybelle who is sort of at the center of an old-fashioned witch trial to talk about it.

When you begin working on a record, are you working on the music and lyrics at the same time, or does one come before the other?

CM: All ways. No format. But a lot of my best “seeds” for songs come from recording improvisations. If I start saying something over and over again, I won’t try to analyze what it means at that moment, just observe it. Later, I can make sense of what “unzip the skin” or “I just want to lose control” really means to me. But I know it’s important if it comes up repeatedly. The subconscious is strong, “Fig tree grow in me.” Also, I’ll mention that Sven and I improvise a lot as a team, then go back and forth shaping structure. First, find the strongest nugget, build around that.

This has been great, thank you for your time. I just have one more question: if you were a superhero, what would your power be and what would your animal sidekick be?

CM: Haha. If I was a superhero I would be Stranger Cat, and my animal side kick would be Sven Britt turned into a super hero dog! Stranger cat has magical powers…she’s way more bad ass than me or she’s me when I am bad ass.

Cat Martino, channeling Kate Bush in the "Wuthering Heights" video,  photo Shervin Lainez

Cat Martino, channeling Kate Bush in the “Wuthering Heights” video, photo Shervin Lainez

Surfer Blood sign to Joyful Noise! [Announcements]

By (Staff Post)

Today we are pleased to announce that Surfer Blood have signed with Joyful Noise for the release of their new album “1000 Palms”, out May 12, 2015.

1000 Palms is a return to Surfer Blood’s DIY ethos. Abandoning the big time studio, the band decided to head back home to self-record and self-produce their third album. Free of major-label-influence, Surfer Blood have created a uniquely compelling album, unlike anything in their catalog.

The opening track from 1000 Palms, titled “Grand Inquisitor”, has just been secretly released to Joyful Noise VIP Members on 541 “Lathe-Cut CDs”. This 5” hybrid format will play on any manual turntable, as well as in CD players/computers. Check out the instructional video here.

This crazy lathe-cut CD was released as our February “Mystery Single”, and is not available for individual sale (but we bet you can find a leak somewhere).