The Jem Warren pre- and post album release interviews

My first encounter with the music of singer-songwriter Jem Warren was through Twitter. I checked out his debut EP “Lifeblood To My Soul” and some clips through YouTube and checked out the Jem Warren homepage.

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I loved what I heard, took some time to get into him and the EP – but when he hit me he hit hard. References that fell into my mind was R.E.M, Talk Talk´s Mark Hollis, Marillions Steve Hogarth and a bit of James Blunt.

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Listen to “Lifeblood To My Soul” by clicking the album cover!

I loved it so much that I decided to send him a request if he´d like to do a Q&A interview with me on my blog. I wrote a blog in my native language, Norwegian – before i started the Read And Hear music blog.

Jem Warren wanted to do this – and since I´ve read on his homepage, i knew that he was working on his debut album. Many of my questions is about the coming album.

The Jem Warren pre-“Heart Knows How” album release Q&A

Q: I saw on YouTube, you played harmonica and guitar on your version og Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice…” Do you play any other instruments?
A: I dabble in keyboards and bass guitar, particularly when I’m writing at home

Q: You also do covers of John Mayer and Jack Johnson, amongst others; Is this like artists you are influenced by? Which other artists would you say you are influenced by?
A: The Police, Tracy Chapman, Fleetwood Mac, Jose Gonzales, Tom Petty

Q: Your coming record vs the EP you’ve already have released; Is the album more of the same or is there any large changes on the album?
A: The new album is very different from the EP. I wrote all the songs for “Lifeblood To My Soul” relatively recent with a very specific sound in mind. The new album, “Heart Knows How” is much different. It’s basically an accumulation of songs I’ve written over many years with no particular vision or theme for an album. I wrote them on the fly and felt the time had come to get them out there. The result is an album that’s somehow more americana rock´n´roll (and maybe a little bit more country too).

Q: After hearing your EP my mind is full of names and references I would like to mention in my upcoming blog post. So if you should say something like “If you like Jem Warren; You should also check out…” the rest is up to you…
A: Sun Kil Moon, Jose Gonzalez

Q: If you’d like to tell; Your homepage mention both your father and mother made music, are you influenced by them? Have they released any albums? Anything I could/or should check out?
A: My parents were both very musical but didn’t really go for it in a formal sense. They were great influences on me since they provided a rich musical environment, but never put out albums themselves…

Q: And the last one; My blog is quite new, with just under 20 posts so far, but so many drafts and thoughts and ideas about what I’d like to write about. I write in Norwegian, but the blog has a translate option. I write about mainly new music, that I like myself and feel most people should listen to. I feel have a fine sense about what become or should become a hit or more people should listen to.
…of all the blogs in the world why would like me to write about you!?
A: You seem pretty cool. Far be it from me to turn down anyone willing to write about my art. The honor is mine

CD Cover
Listen to Jem Warrens debut album by clicking the album cover!

The album that became his debut albums which he released march 2012 was named “Heart Knows How”. The Jem Warren debut was a large leap forward for the sound of Jem Warren i knew through the EP. He sounded more confident, he sings in a deeper tone, not so nasal as he was earlier. The band sounded groovy, more funky. They sounded like they had great fun while recording the album, you´ll also hear pop, americana – and wonderful timeless ballads. Jem is without doubt a singer-songwriter, he writes all his stuff himself, plays on all his songs. On the “Heart Knows How” I´ve heard references like The Black Sorrows, Hal Ketchum, The Waterboys´Mike Scott, Ryan Adams, John Mayer – but still no rip off  – Jem Warren has his own voice, his own sound – and writes songs with a meaning.

Listen to the playlist; “The Roots of Jem Warren” here!

A few months back I decided to hear if Jem Warren would like to do a follow-up Q&A and he liked the idea. Being a hard-working artist – who has spent most of the year on the road – it took some time before he´d answered the questions…but then he did…

The Jem Warren post-“Heart Knows How” album release Q&A

hey man. sorry it took so long. I appreciate the interest in my music and career, man.

Q: Since releasing your debut album “Heart Knows How” do you feel you life has changed?
A: i think when any artists creates and then puts out an album there’s an immediate sense of emotional release. I’m no different in that way. but like any artist you start thinking about the next album and what you want to express.
career wise, the album’s had a great affect. I’ve picked up a lot of new fans. I’m set to release 2 videos from the album in february

Q; I see you play a lot live these days, tell me whats the best things about being on the road?
A: i think the best thing about being on the road and performing live is the people of course. the energy that you get from an audience (cooperative or hostile) is invaluable as a writer. seeing and feeling the reaction of people from all walks of life is both telling and inspiring.

Q: Earlier you covered John Mayer and Bob Dylan and such, are you doing any playing any new covers while touring these days?
A: i actually was doing “teenage dream” by Katy Perry which always went over well because it was unexpected and my band rock the shit out of it! “the weight” by the band has been a staple in the set lately.

Q: Last but not least, have you started thinking or planning a follow-up to your album? Where do you see your self next time? Any plans about how it will sound?
A: yes, I have a couple of ideas for albums. i would like to return to the sound of my first ‘lifeblood to my soul.’ i have a lot songs in the works. i also want put a collection of mostly acoustic songs that i record and produce in my apartment which will be pretty experimental since I’m not a producer. but I’m curious to see how people would react to it.

thanks so much man!!

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I have lived with Jem Warrens great debut album for over a half-year – and have to say – Jem Warren is one of the best new singer-songwriter discoveries I´ve found in 2012.
“Heart Knows How” is a timeless album that will still live on years after we´d say goodbye to 2012.

I swear that the career of Jem Warren is being followed by me through social media like his Facebookpage/jemwarren, his Twitter/jemwarrenmusic. – and Jem Warren homepage.

As soon as I know more about his second album – I´d love to do another Q&A!

 

There´s something about Franky!

There really is something about Franky Manzos debut single “MJs Coursing”

Is it the intro to her single – a little AOR inspired – until her voice and the beats kick in?
Is it the dry simple piano line? The slightly auto-tuned vocals?
The cool 70s inspired “Oh, beep-beep, Oh beep-beep” bridge in the middle of the song?
The percussion, and the hand claps, and the dry synthetic sax stabs?
The mix of 70s-80s and 90s disco-club squeezed into 3 minutes?

Is it the story of her past as a dancer behind the likes of Destiny’s Child, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and more. Or maybe her career with former Guns´n´Roses drummer Matt Sorum in Darling Stilettos, a band that looked and sounded like a cross between Pussycat Dolls, The Runaways and 80s Prince protoges Vanity 6 and Appolonia 6 with the motto of Spice Girls; GIRL POWER!

Even if Frances Manzo (her real name) is still young she has had a long career. She has not only been a dancer behind some of the worlds biggest stars, but she has also been doing choreography, commercials, movies, music videos – the most famous being a dancer in Britney Spears “Womanizer” video, been an on stage performer, dance teacher, and being in television productions. Franky is also a music co-writer- and co-producer of Maudlyn Strangers self titled upcoming debut album!

She looks like a rock chick, but also has this late 80s-90s style. And since she is a fan of – and has worked with great rock musicians – there’s no doubt she has her own style!

The MJ in the song “MJs Coursing” is, as you have probably guessed already, the late great Michael Jackson.
Franky Manzo, or if you prefer her real name Frances Manzo, said on her Reverbnation page “This song encompasses everything I wanted in my first song because of my love for Michael Jackson and the era of disco I heard as a child from my mom.”

After reading this quote I had to hear more about the story behind “MJ´s Coursing” and sent Frances Manzo a few questions to her Facebook profile – and she shortly after, she sent me her answers! – here it goes;

5 QUESTIONS: a Q&A with Franky Manzo

You say on your reverbnation profile that “This song encompasses everything I wanted in my first song because of my love for Michael Jackson and the era of disco I heard as a child from my mom.”

Q: Are you inspired by any special MJ songs on the song? Or any special discotunes your mothers liked?
A: Difficult question! It’s hard to choose which MJ songs inspired me, but I can try narrow it down to “They Don’t Care About Us”, “Rock With You”, “Billie Jean”, and “Remember the Time”. As far as disco songs, my mom definitely had “Heart of Glass”, “Harlem Shuffle”, and “Bad Girls” on her favorite cassette tape…which she played all the time! I credit my mom with my rhythmic ability because when I was about 2, she and I used to dance to those songs every morning. So I think those songs will always stick with me, and you can hear their influence in my single.

Q: Is there any plans for a full album – how do think it will sound?
A: Absolutely! I think much of the album will be disco inspired, but I don’t necessarily want to limit myself to just one genre. I am truly inspired by what Blondie did…she was a total punk rocker turned disco diva, and back again! I expect that the album will throw a curveball in there somewhere!

Q: I feel the video to “MJs Coursing” is a bit inspired by Kylie Minogue and especially her “Confide In Me” vid? Am I right?
A: Yes, I love Kylie! I got to meet her about 10 years ago at a show, and she’s an absolute delight! I actually hadn’t seen the “Confide in Me”* video, but I can see the similarity!! The original concept that I had for my video was quite grandiose, but alas, being on an indie artist budget isn’t exactly conducive to being grandiose. So, we came up with an alternative, the video that’s out now, and it came out great!!! I’m so happy with it.
(*Note: I see i refered to the wrong Kylie song and video here – my fault…but it seems like Franky Manzo understood what I meant)

Q: I see you have been dancing onstage behind several big names, like Britney Spears, Destiny’s Child and Miley Cyrus to mention a few. Are you supposed to be working with any big named and well-known producers or writers on your album?
A: I had the opportunity to work with big name producers when I was in Darling Stilettos, and I’ve found that the most important thing is that I trust who I’m working with, especially because I’m barely getting my feet wet as a solo artist. My producer, Michael Binikos, is someone that I trust. He’s worked with Leann Rimes, Brie Larson, and the like. I’m very lucky to have him working on my album.
As far as writers go, I’m not opposed to letting someone write for me in the future, but right now, I have so much I want to convey as an artist. I think that it’s important for me to write my own material. I really want to show the world what I’m capable of…and it’s only the beginning for me.

Q: What other artist are you inspired by?
A: Blondie, Kylie Minogue, and Michael Jackson are some of my favorites. Aside from those artists, I’m totally inspired by Robert Plant! I LOVE Led Zeppelin. I really appreciate his lyrics. Sophie Ellis-Bextor is another artist I love. Her songs are so catchy and they just make you feel good. Gwen Stefani is one of my absolute favorites. I used to wear dickies and cropped wife beaters just like her…still do! Scott Weiland…I know it’s a bit of a stray, but I can’t help but love the grunge era. He’s a dynamic performer with amazing songwriting skills.
It may be hard to tell that I’m inspired by these artists based on my single, but I love writing for other bands…and that’s where you can see a lot of these influences. I co-wrote and co-produced many of the songs on Maudlin Strangers’ upcoming debut album. “Suffer, Kate” and “Long Way Down” were definitely Zeppelin and Stone Temple Pilots inspired!

Franky Manzo ends my Q&A like this Haha, I tend to be wordy sometimes. I really appreciate this!!! Thank you so much!!!”

If someone is going be thankful here it´s gotta be me – for giving me so good answers on my questions. Wordy is no problem as long as the answers good or what?

I must say I love to see her cool genre mix. With Michael Jackson and Kylie Minogue on one side, and her love for Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin and Stone Temple Pilots Scott Weiland on the other. A good lover of music – sees no bonderies and limits, only opportunities! Thank you again Franky Manzo for your great answers!

The single “MJs Coursing” is one piece of perfect radio friendly pop!
I would love to see some great remixes of the track; How about a great classic Masters At Work remix, like they did in the last part of the 90s with loads of live-instruments, like a fat bass line – some guitar and lots of great percussion? Kenny Dope and Little Louie Vega – open your ears!

But as the song “MJs Coursing” is now – it´s a nice piece of great radio disco-pop –  And it gets better and better with each listening!

Look forward to follow the adventurous future of Franky Manzo!