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Rock, Roll, And Raise Money For A Great Cause

We’re willing to bet you’d like to have a shot at performing at an über-trendy Lucky Strike Lanes near you. We also think you’re probably down to win an all-expenses-paid trip to the beautiful islands of Turks & Caicos to perform for Olympian volleyball players and hundreds of guests at GOBeachfest, 2011. And what if you could get the full rock star treatment, all while supporting a noble cause? Sounds pretty great, huh?

Well, thanks to our friends at Rock-N-BowlA, we’re giving you a shot to do all of the above. This May, artists in the Houston, Miami, DC and Chicago regions have a chance to win by entering their best rock, soft rock, alternative, southern rock, modern rock, indie rock, singer-songwriter (male), singer-songwriter (female), pop or indie pop song. The Top 3 ranked artists in each of these channels will perform at their local Lucky Strike Lanes and gain exposure to fans and critics alike thanks to their rocking tunes and philanthropic mindset. Plus, the band who boasts the highest number of fans in their official OurStage Fan Club when the Rock-N-BowlA summer tour closes out this June will win the trip to Turks & Caicos to perform at GOBeachfest, 2011! It doesn’t get much better than that.

Fans, you’re covered too! All you have to do is judge for a chance to nab two free VIP passes to the Rock-N-BowlA event near you. Just lend us your opinions by May 31, 2011 and you’ll be automatically entered to win.

Ready to rock and bowl? We thought so! You can check out all the contest information on the official rules page.

Get Lyrical: Shining Rae’s “Dreaming”

Ah, May. The sun is out, the birds are singing and we find ourselves yearning for plucky acoustic tunes from sweet but sassy singer-songwriters. (That happens to everyone, right?) Luckily, we have Shining Rae and her summery track “Dreaming,” to both satisfy our craving and provide us with an anthem to help survive bad dates. Because what could make you feel better than hearing someone else’s terrible dating stories?

Shining Rae’s first date with this unnamed gentleman doesn’t go so well. He shows up with pink roses (typical) and our girl isn’t impressed. “I want more than your cheap thrill/Spare me with the silly frills/Impress me with originality.” Maybe you think she’s being demanding, but Rae isn’t totally heartless—she just knows what she wants! She even decides to give her guy another chance, but unfortunately date number 2 doesn’t go much better. “Next date you’re driving a CLK/You didn’t even open my door, that is not okay.” We have to side with Shining Rae—chivalry isn’t quite dead yet.

Of course, this mystery man does have a few redeeming qualities. “Your kiss, your hug, your smile/entertain me for a little while,” Rae sings. But alas, this relationship is not meant to be, and Shining Rae decides to let him down easy. “You’re not Mr. Right/So I’ve got to let you go.” We can’t fault her for kicking this guy to the curb, with that warm, sugary voice of hers it’s hard to imagine she would do anything without good reason. “A sweet girl with a heart of gold should be treated like the princess that she is,” Shining Rae states on her profile, and we couldn’t agree more. You go, girl!

Check out “Dreaming” below and unleash your inner diva.

Q&A With Manchester Orchestra

The roaring vocals and ferocious riffs that populated Manchester Orchestra‘s sophomore album Mean Everything To Nothing earned the five piece both  fans and critical acclaim in 2009. Now, almost exactly two years later, the Atlanta-based rockers are back with Simple Math, an alternately hard-hitting and slow-burning record that’s as intricate and enjoyable as each of their previous releases. As anticipation of Simple Math continues to build, we sat down with bassist Jonathan Corley to talk about exploring new musical styles, the pressure of topping Mean Everything to Nothing and Kevin Devine‘s freestyle raps.

OS: You guys had a wildly successful album in 2009’s Mean Everything To Nothing—did you feel like that was looming over you as you worked on Simple Math?

JC: After METN’s success, there was certainly pressure to create something better. I don’t think it’s a bad thing though. That expectation didn’t seem as “looming” or daunting but, instead, forced innovation and required creativity. Simple Math moves in directions that we, as a band, have never been before. It reaches into a couple of sonic head spaces that I’m not sure our fans would expect from us. The success of previous albums challenges us to create something new.

OS: When we first heard about the upcoming album, it was tentatively titled “Let Go of Your Sorrowful Groaning” and you were demoing twenty-nine tracks. How many times did you completely revamp the record as you were working on it?

JC: “Let Go of Your Sorrowful Groaning” was certainly thrown around as a title during the early stages of the album. In fact, it is still a line in the second song of our record: “So let go of your sorrowful groaning/ Let go of the ones you admire/ It’s not like I was devious or boastful/ My arms waving, I’m saying goodbye“. The song “Simple Math” came together pretty immediately, and conceptually, it defines the record very well. We worked in different stages to demo most songs a couple of times before reworking them in studio. There was more time and effort poured into the creation of Simple Math than anything else we’ve released in the past.

OS: How does it feel that that the album is already being hailed as one of the most anticipated releases of 2011?

JC: I know that our entire band is more excited about this release than just about anything else. I’m honestly very proud of the album, and can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

OS: The title track is a far cry from what we heard on Like A Virgin Losing A Child. Have you consciously shifted your sound or has it been a natural progression?

JC: The shift occurred very naturally. Since METN, we have continued to grow as musicians and evolve as a band. Even the live shows indicate a change in the dynamic of some of our older songs.

OS: Your songs alternate between very gritty, hard-rock tracks and beautiful, orchestral arrangements. Is it tough to completely change gears like that while you’re recording?

JC: It wasn’t difficult to switch between recording strings and a “gritty” track. Each one of the songs on Simple Math feels fully realized. We bounced back and forth between Atlanta and Nashville to make the record but I’m not sure that it could have gone any better. The tracks with strings were incredibly fascinating to hear progress.

OS: Now that you’ve utilized an orchestra and a children’s choir, is there anything sonically that you haven’t tried yet and really want to work into your songs in the future?

JC: As we approach future albums, I can only hope that we’re doing something that hasn’t been heard before. It’s the only reason that I listen to new albums. The bands that I end up listening to the most have found a way to constantly surprise you with new material, something new.

OS: Do you have any plans to keep working on Bad Books—the collaboration with Kevin Devine?

JC: I can’t wait to work on a future Bad Books album. During the months that we put that together, I had more than a blast. Even the touring; we approached venues that I haven’t played in years and it truly made me appreciate a lot of things like many of the nights that moved forward with some sort of freestyle-rap. The recording process was pretty simple and seamless back at home. The next Bad Books release should be a whole lot of fun.

OS: What can you tell us about your co-headlining tour with Cage the Elephant? How did that come about?

JC: We’ve known the Cage guys for a couple of years and they’re great friends. I’m anticipating some really fun shows with them. We first met while touring with Silversun Pickups, and they have quickly become some of my favorite people from Nashville.

Don’t miss Manchester Orchestra on tour, and check out the video for “Simple Math” below!

No Cover: Prince Doesn’t Want Anyone Else Recording His Songs

Prince kicked off his 21-night tour of Los Angeles last week on Lopez Tonight, and along with discussions about “artichoke” being an excellent swear word and his love for tortilla chips, Prince told George that he wants copyright laws changed so that no one can record covers of his songs. Ever. Prince has always been pretty protective of his songs, fighting his label, YouTube, eBay and even his fans over what he considers his intellectual property. But we’re a little surprised that he’d want to go so far as to make covering his songs illegal. (We’re also surprised that people actually watch Lopez Tonight, but whatever.)

“My problem is when the industry covers the music,” Prince told Lopez. “There’s this thing called compulsory licensing law that allows artists through the record companies to take your music at will without your permission. And that doesn’t exist in any other art form, be it books, movies—There’s only one version of ‘Law & Order.’ There’s several versions of ‘Kiss’ and ‘Purple Rain’.”

There’s just one problem with that: Prince isn’t exactly right. Compulsory licensing does exist in other media, including television, and as Hollywood Reporter explains, there are plenty of “fair use” exceptions in literature and films as well.

Besides the questionable facts Prince uses in his explanation, we just don’t quite get where he’s coming from. Don’t get us wrong—Prince is a superstar and no one rocks sequins and high heels quite like he does, but how can someone who’s covered everyone from Michael Jackson to Radiohead to Gnarls Barkley to Rihanna say that it’s uncool for other people to cover his songs? We’re also a little confused as to what sparked this, especially following Prince’s decision to let Gwyneth Paltrow belt out “Kiss” on an episode of Glee earlier this season. Guess the eighties superstar is down with covers… as long as the money’s right.

Either way, Prince won’t be able to make this happen. Under United States copyright law, once a song has been recorded and publicly distributed compulsory licensing kicks in, and any musician who pays royalties has the ability to record a cover as long as they notify the original artist. But juuuust in case he somehow manages to pull it off, here’s a playlist of some of our current favorite Prince covers to keep you satisfied. No, Limp Bizket’s rendition of “1999” didn’t make the cut.

Get Lyrical: Beastie Boys’ “Make Some Noise”

We totally fan-girled out when Beastie Boys released the teaser video “Fight For Your Right Revisited” earlier this month, partly due to Will Ferrell, Seth Rogan and the rest of the star-studded cast, and partly due to that delicious new beat playing in the background. That track is “Make Some Noise,” the first single from the group’s upcoming album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, and it’s vintage Beastie Boys, with Ad-Rock, MCA and Mike D trading razor-sharp lines over a brilliant, spiky rhythm.

If you’ve been anxiously anticipating the new album, there’s a good chance you might get chills when you hear Ad-Rock’s opening couplet: “Yes, here we go again give you more nothing lesser/Back on the mic is the anti-depresser.” The song does work like an instant Zoloft; toe-tapping and head-bobbing are inevitable as the trio delivers lines like,  “Leggo my Eggo while I flex my ego/Step off my Seco, dressed up tuxedo.” By the time you get to chorus, “We got a party on the left/A party on the right/We gotta party for the motherf**king right to fight,” you’ll be wondering how you made it through the last four years without a new Beastie Boys album.

There are plenty of clever references sprinkles throughout the track, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (You must have drank a fizzy-lifting drink and you got lifted) to the B-Boy stance (The forbidden dance, here’s my chance/To make romance in my B-boy stance). Other unexpected lyrical pairings to look forward to: eagle is rhymed with beagle, nada is paired with lambada and Ted Danson is rhymed with financing. Yeah. Now you have to listen to the track, if only to figure out how on earth they make those lines work.

Because MCA is telling the truth when he spits, “I burn the competition like a flamethrower/My rhymes age like wine as I get older.” Ad-Rock, MCA and Mike D have sacrificed none of their clever, cutting lyrics as they’ve aged; “Make Some Noise” is an old-school party jam that begs to be played at high volumes. So if your mom busts in and says “What’s that noise?” just tell her you’re getting pumped for the upcoming release of Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.

Check out the video for “Make Some Noise” below!

Editor’s Note: The full 30 minute version of Fight For Your Right Revisited was officially released today (April 27) on Hulu. Check it out!

Q&A With Dispatch

With a thirteen-date US tour and plans to release a new EP in a few months, everyone’s favorite funk-rock-folk-reggae-roots band Dispatch is gearing up for a busy summer “But wait,” you’re asking, “Didn’t Dispatch play their last show in 2004?” They did indeed, which is why we sat down with Dispatch frontman Chad Stokes to get the lowdown on the reunion, the dangers of calling a concert “The Last Show Ever” and the new middle class of musicians.

OS: So why did you guys decide to get together and play some shows this summer?

CS: I think Pete and I were hanging out. I see those guys every now and then, and we hang out, and it’s always good. I guess enough time had gone by where we just felt like playing again. I guess I personally felt like we got State Radio to a really good place, where it was kind of off and running and out from underneath the shadow of Dispatch. I just felt like I could be in two different bands, and try and make it work. I think it was mostly timing, just time passing and feeling like it would be fun to get together again.

OS: Is that something that’s been difficult—balancing time between State Radio and Dispatch and your other projects?

CS: Yeah, it’s tricky because then you feel like you’re not giving your all to each one. And also, you’re trying to squeeze a semblance of regular life into there, so it is tricky. But with Calling All Crows, the foundation I started, I got a lot of help with that from the co-directors and interns. So that runs really well. We just have a good team, you know, with State Radio and Dispatch, where people really are good at what they do. So it makes it easier so I don’t have to have hours of phone calls every day. There are some things that should go on without me.

OS: You posted a YouTube video suggesting you’ve been trapped underground for the last seven years, but can you give us a little info about what you have really been up to for that time?
CS: [Laughs] I’ve just been doing State Radio. Just touring for eight months out of the year, and recording. It’s been pretty full-on. And Calling All Crows is our women’s rights organization, and we started that two years ago, or almost three years ago, so that takes a lot of time. I’ve been doing “How’s Your News,” which is a movie and a TV show and a band about and involving people with disabilities. So that takes a bunch of time. And then just… a couple of trips here and there. I went out and jumped some freight trains with my brothers with a few months. But a lot of it’s with State Radio. We’ve toured all over and it’s been really fun. Trying to incorporate Calling all Crows, we’re doing service projects before shows and stuff. So it’s pretty busy when we’re out on the road.

OS: You’ve referenced all the charities you work with—how do you feel about music activism today? Do you think there are a good number of musicians promoting change in their music?

CS: I think there’s a bunch of them. They’re not the mainstream musicians, I think the industry is set up so that there’s a much bigger middle class of musicians out there than their used to be. I think there used to be just those who were on the big record labels and those who were trying to make it. Now there’s a good chunk of musicians that are in bands that are making a career out of it, but they’re not necessarily on the radio or on videos or on Conan or something. I think they’re out there, they’re just harder to get to know. But bands like RX Bandits and Michael Foxy and John Butler Trio, these are all bands that are doing pretty well for themselves and they’re also really socially conscious.

OS: So what are some ways you recommend for our readers to get involved in charity work?

CS: Two things. One: We’re focusing on women’s shelters in Afghanistan that offer safe havens for women and also vocational training. And then we’re still really big supporters of Troy Anthony Davis, who is on death row in Georgia and has been there for twenty years. We believe that he never received a fair trial, and his appeal was denied by the United States court, so we’re nervous about his future. We’re trying to get information about him out to the people, so we can all be informed about this kind of thing. We’re against the death penalty overall… Troy is just a great guy, we’ve become friends over the years, and we first heard of him through Amnesty International. It’s just a really great example of why the death penalty shouldn’t exist, because the people making those decisions are all human, and we all make mistakes. It can never be foolproof.

OS: Are ticket proceeds from this tour going to charity as they have in the past?

CS: Yeah, with the Dispatch tour we’re doing a dollar ticket tax that’s going towards education, towards mentoring programs and different education reform programs. We feel like you start with the kids, and then the future can look a whole lot brighter.

OS: Awesome. And there’s also been a lot of speculation that a new album might accompany this tour, is that the case?

CS: I think we just put another video out there called “SquataFriend” and it’s on YouTube. That has some new music in there behind it, kind of background music, but you can hear the tunes. So yeah, we’re working on a bunch of new songs.

OS: So are you planning to release a new EP with the new material?

CS: I think so! We’ll try to get five tunes out before the summer, right before the tour, we might be able to finish them, and then have a more full-length album come out late next fall.

OS: You guys have played a “last show ever,” once or twice. Why do you think you keep getting pulled back in?

CS: I think the quote-unquote “Last Dispatch Show Ever”… [Laughs] I never really liked that name, because I was like, “Of course we’re gonna play again at some point.” But I think since then—so that was like, 2004—I think since then we always knew we’d play again, whether it be once every four or five years, or something like that. We’re pretty careful never to use the word last again, ever since that show in Boston.

OS: It’s funny because that seems to happen to a lot of artists today—they play a “last show” and then put out some new material.

CS: Yeah, I mean it does mean “The last one for a little while.” But it seems like a lot of bands get back together at some point, to some extent.

OS: One last thing: you’ve been called “the biggest band that no one’s ever heard of,” yet you sold out arenas on this tour. Do you still feel like you’re flying under the radar?

CS: Yeah, I still feel like that. We’ll do our tours and they’ll be pretty big, but still if you were to talk to someone from the major labels or MTV or radio, if they’re over the age of 40, no one knows about Dispatch, or seems to care, really. The only waves that we’ve made in the industry are because people are impressed by the numbers that come out to see us. We’re such a fan-driven band that if you’re part of the business, you don’t really know about us unless you’re impressed by numbers. So I still feel like we exist in this kind of other world where it’s the band and the people who listen to the band, and the quote-unquote industry just kind of shakes their heads or isn’t interested or doesn’t believe in it. I don’t know. [Laughs]

OS: I guess having a crazy fan base isn’t the worst thing in the world.

CS: It’s awesome, it’s so cool. I’m so surprised and thankful for the turnout. It’s really, really amazing.

Check out Dispatch’s Web site to see all the upcoming tour dates!

Step Aside, Sandler, George Michael Is The Wedding Singer

Have you been living under a rock for the past six months? If so, you may have missed the news that Prince William and Kate Middleton are getting married this weekend. And like us, you probably wondered why everyone spells her name “Kate” when her full name is Catherine. Why? Is that a British thing? But we digress. The point is, in an effort to share in the couple’s joy, George Michael recorded a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “You and I” as a gift to them. (You can download the track on his Web site.)

We know what you’re thinking—nothing says true love like “engaging in a lewd act” in a public toilet. But George Michael’s heart is certainly in the right place, and his gift got us thinking about other singers we’d love to have performing at our wedding.*

*We are in no way serious about having any of these artists perform at our wedding.

Rick Astley

The key to having Rick Astley as your wedding singer would be keeping it an absolute secret. Seriously, don’t tell a soul. Because what could be better than Rick Rolling your guests? Imagine the looks on their faces. Plus, that has to be one of the easiest dances to learn. Of course, you could always just get Rick to write your vows. “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down…”

Ozzy Osbourne

Okay, so the Prince of Darkness might seem like a strange fit for your reception. But say what you will about Ozzy, but the guy has been married to Sharon since 1982. We think he might know a thing or two about marriage. And don’t you want your wedding to be memorable? Between public intoxication at the Alamo and snorting a line of fire ants (was that rumor ever confirmed?), we’re pretty sure Ozzy brings the party.

William Shatner

If you haven’t heard Shatner’s cover of “Common People” by Pulp, click here. Done? Welcome back. You now understand why your wedding will be incomplete without the Shat. Did you hear the emotion in his voice? Those passionate vocals? Where on earth did he learn to sing like that? Every other band should have just stopped trying to make music after his 2004 album Has-Been, because there’s no way to improve on it. When Shatner talk-sings “Ideal Woman” during your reception, your guests will struggle to hold back tears. It’ll be a truly beautiful moment.

The Dan Band (from Old School and The Hangover)

This one is a total no-brainer, because who hasn’t dreamed of being serenaded by R&B covers of filthy songs like 50 Cent’s “Lollipop”? We have just a few ideas for totally inappropriate raps turned creepy slow jams this guy could perform at our wedding: Snoop‘s “Gangsta Luv,” Ying Yang Twins‘ “Wait (The Whisper Song)” or 2 Live Crew‘s “Me So Horny.” And of course, we welcome your suggestions.

Adam Sandler

Despite the title of this post, we’re still a total sucker for Adam Sandler as the goofy, overlooked wedding singer. Sure, he might steal your bride, but only if you’re a cheating asshole.  And just look at how he works that powder blue suit. We’d even let him belt out “Love Stinks” if he wanted to. Maybe he’d bring Billy Idol to the wedding with him? …A girl can dream.

Editor’s note: Despite recording a song for the couple, George Michael has made it clear he will not be attending the royal nuptials, tweeting: the couple should be “surrounded by people they love, not dodgy ex-con pop stars.” We’re sure there’s a distant cousin or two in there that will be disappointed to hear the news.

Boy With A Guitar: An Iron And Wine Show Review

It’s no surprise that Iron and Wine, a.k.a. Sam Beam and his backing band, sold out the House of Blues on Tuesday. Between his new album Kiss Each Other Clean, the fortuitous decision to tour with local favorites The Low Anthem and the three years that have gone by since the singer-songwriter was last in town, Boston was a town thirsting for some Beam. And with a diverse set and a robust live sound, no one left disappointed.

Photo By Andy Swartz

If you’re not familiar with the opener, Providence, RI’s the Low Anthem, a fan behind me summed up their sound fairly astutely: “It sounds like what would happen if you snuck into Johnny Cash and June Carter’s old house and found a music box with Bob Dylan trapped inside.” Well played. Their folksy, southern sound was almost hypnotizing, and while they only played a thirty-minute set, the quartet left the audience spellbound. When the last beautiful harmony of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” blanketed the room, Sam Beam, his beard and his band took the stage to thunderous applause.

Within the first few chords of the opening track “Boy With a Coin,” Beam and co. established that the set would have little in common with an Iron and Wine record. “We like to mess around with the songs a little bit,” Beam said with a smile a few songs in, which could very well be the understatement of the century. With a total of ten band members backing him up—two guys on percussion, a keyboardist, a guitarist, a bassist, two female vocalists and a three-piece horn section—Beam’s songs, already intricately layered in studio recordings, took on a completely new life. Some, like “Walking Far From Home” and “God Made the Automobile” became rollicking rock tracks while others, including “Wolves (Song of the Shepard’s Dog),” were stretched out into wandering, jazz-influenced jams. The songs were recognizable as Beam’s handiwork, sure, but while his studio tracks can sometimes seem more sparse and pared-down, these newly-realized melodies swelled to fill the House of Blues from floor to ceiling. Beam’s voice even seemed stronger and more confident than the wavering whisper often heard on his albums.

Photo By Andy Swartz

The night was heavily stocked with tracks from Kiss Each Other Clean, not surprising considering that it’s his most recent release, but Beam’s set was peppered with something for everyone. One track from Beam’s first release The Creek Drank the Cradle even managed to sneak in between his more contemporary work. The only letdown of the night? Despite numerous pleas from the audience, the band never got around to playing “Jezebel.” Not that anyone seemed to mind, Beam played enough favorites throughout his set to satisfy even the most intense fans.

Beam joked that he wouldn’t let four years slip away before he came back to Boston again, which is a comforting promise. But we have to side with the guy in the back who yelled, “Never leave!”

Get Lyrical: Q&A With Daphne Willis

Daphne Willis is one busy girl—she’s been tearing up the Best Of charts here on OurStage all while working on her brand new album Because I Can. We think you’ll like Willis’ charming songwriting style, so we sat down with the Nashville-based singer-songwriter to talk about her writing, her first single “I Will Be Waiting,” and her unlikely love for Eminem.

OS: What’s your writing process usually like?

DW: I have different processes depending on if I’m writing by myself or co-writing, which I’ve been getting into a little bit more over the past year, professionally. Usually I’ll get a chord progression and then just write melodies over the progression—this is when I’m writing by myself—and then kind of work things out. When I write by myself I have to be alone, and, I don’t know, in a mood, or something. I don’t know what you call that… a creative mood. And when I write with other people, it depends on who I’m writing with. Some people like to do a title and will come up with a concept or a title and then write the song around that. Some people want to write to an emotion, or write a story, or whatever. You kind of map it out at the beginning—it’s going to be slow, or fast, or what have you.

OS: Do you prefer co-writing or writing alone?

DW: I think they each serve their own purpose. I think for me, the solo writes are definitely more of a therapeutic thing, where it’s more of a release for me on an emotional level or some subconscious level. Usually when I’m writing by myself it’s because I need to, and when I write with other people it’s because I want to and because I have fun writing. When it’s more of a group, collaborative effort it’s so much fun, and you get to kind of rub off on each other and learn other peoples’ styles and get in other peoples’ heads, which is just really fun.

OS: How did you decide on “I Will Be Waiting” as the first single?

DW: Well actually the next single is going to be “Do What You Want,” I think we’re switching the radio. But “I Will Be Waiting” was definitely a strong song for me because I’m always traveling and I always relate to people who are always having that longing feeling or they’re missing something. At the time we wrote it I was in a relationship and definitely felt that longing when you’re on the road, away from your loved ones … So we kind of just wanted to capture that emotion, and it just seemed like the right fit at the time when we were picking it. I’ve kind of shifted a little bit overall, and I think “Do What You Want” is going to be a great addition to our efforts and our campaigning, getting me out there this year. Both of the songs are great. And they’re both co-writes, so I had a lot of fun making them.

OS: It’s hard to tell if it’s a happy or a sad song—did you do that on purpose?

DW: Definitely. I think that the song is supposed to be bittersweet, because you have somebody that you miss, but you have somebody that you miss, you know what I mean? You’re gonna have to go through that emotion, but at least you have that emotion to go through, and you’re going through it with somebody else. I always try and stay on the positive side of things, and even negative emotions can be turned upside down and looked at in a different light. You appreciate what you have.

OS: So since you have been co writing a lot recently, are there any songwriters who you dream about collaborating with?

DW: You know, I would probably, like I could die immediately afterwards, if I wrote with Stevie Wonder. I could just die afterwards and be like, “All right, that’s it! I did what I came to do.” [Laughs] No not really, but you know what I mean. I would love to work with Stevie Wonder. I would love to work with… Gosh, there’s a lot of people. Ben Harper would definitely be one of them, from a lyrical standpoint I think he’s just a genius. And you know, we were listening to Eminem earlier today, or last night, I think it was. And we were saying how lyrically, he’s just a genius. And the phonetical way that he phrases his lyrics and how he accents and stresses which syllables in which sentences is just… he’s a monster. So I would also actually love to work with him, ironically.

OS: What are your favorite things to write about? Do you often write about love?

DW: I actually try to not write about love as much, because I feel like although love is one of the most powerful emotions, certainly, I think it’s a little bit overwritten. I like to—when I do writing sessions—challenge people to write a song that is not a love song. Write about something that is maybe inspirational or as emotionally big, but not love. People fascinate me, things like what motivates people, what stresses people out. When I listen to music I like to feel inspired in a positive way, or somehow empowered, and feel like I can go out and do things. I’ve been trying to write more stuff like that, that’s really uplifting and encouraging and just positive. That’s definitely the direction of this record and definitely the direction of the songs I’ve been writing since we recorded this record, too.

Check out Willis’ new album Because I Can to hear “I Will Be Waiting” for yourself!


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