Tag Archives: singer-songwriter

Artist Feature: Liam McClair

Liam McClair is a singer-songwriter out of Wilmslow, Cheshire, England that we met through our homie Sobi Thurairatnam. For Liam, Reflection is about unbiased retrospection and balanced analysis of the past. His music provides a medium for reflection on lived experience. Liam discusses this process through a showcase of songs from his first EP, How. We’re excited to say that he’s soon to drop his second EP HONEY through HourGlass Productions, and he’s also looking to perform with a full band after its release. Check out the interview below, stay tuned for tour dates, and make sure to check out the new EP soon!

Liam McClair

Reflection to me is considering the positives and negatives in a previous situation, but trying to be as objective as you can to ensure that you are seeing the outcomes and effects as they are and not from a biased position.

– Liam McClair

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

LM: I am from Wilmslow, Cheshire in the UK. I have been performing as a solo singer-songwriter for nearly a year. The highlights have been having my track played at Old Trafford twice, playing at Liverpool’s Sound City, being featured and interviewed on BBC Introducing Merseyside, and the continued support online from radio stations, fans and blogs.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

LM: Reflection to me is considering the positives and negatives in a previous situation, but trying to be as objective as you can to ensure that you are seeing the outcomes and effects as they are and not from a biased position. I reflect often with my music as my writing process is quite organic so upon reflection I can understand the theme of the song and subsequently direct the song towards that theme. Response is a person’s reaction to a stimulus, whether that be sensory or physical.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

LM: My song writing is predominately based on reflections. Most of the songs I have written have been based on personal experiences and personal emotions. Within my Debut EP, How, all of the songs are based on reflecting on a time and they are responses to things I have seen or experienced. The first track Roam The Globe acts as my travel journal from times I have spent abroad:

Rough Waters is a description of ending a relationship and the difficulties involved and experienced:

Somewhere Before is the story of a couple with dementia which I responded to initially, however I didn’t realise that was the topic of the song until I reflected on it:

How is a song I wrote about the feeling of pure desire you have when first encountering someone you really admire:

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Mike Gervais

Mike Gervais is a guitarist, singer, and songwriter, and  lifelong resident of Seattle, Washington. As he witnesses a changing city climate, Mike writes image-based music that inspires feelings in the mind of the listener, preferring to position his creative output within the physical dimension of response. In the interview below, Mike describes the natural imagery behind one of his songs Aurora Borealis and some of his inspirations such as impressionism and Chuck Close. Working extensively with his brother Matt as “Mikey and Matty,” the two have begun a busy 2014 playing dozens of shows and writing new songs they look to record over the next few months.

Mike and Matt Gervais

I don’t want to change or rearrange anything. If I could be successful at songwriting at all, I’d hope that what I came up with put a picture in the listener’s mind. I’d prefer to be an impressionist or even a Chuck Close to being a Jackson Pollack. Even though I envy that type of work.

– Mike Gervais

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

MG: I realized recently that I’ve experienced 21% of the entire history of Seattle as a life-long resident. Imagine the time elapsed since the Denny party first settled here- 163 years, as the price of your dinner date… My age is the tip. I suppose that I should consider this when lamenting the construction projects that seem to be replacing all of the old brick and 70’s architecture with steamy hot-yoga windows under impossibly expensive “mixed-income” apartments. I walk around mostly humming tunes and looking for plants coming up through the cement. Even though we’re so close to the mountains, it seems like it’s getting harder to feel that they’re so close. I think we could all use a good long walk up there.  

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

MG: I think a reflection is a response. I’m mostly about the tangible, equal-opposite reaction type of response. If light waves are bouncing on a puddle in the road, I want my music to be that reflection. I’m only looking for images that convey feelings. I don’t consider myself worthy of interpreting and translating events and relationships- I don’t want to change or rearrange anything. If I could be successful at songwriting at all, I’d hope that what I came up with put a picture in the listener’s mind. I’d prefer to be an impressionist or even a Chuck Close to being a Jackson Pollack. Even though I envy that type of work.

How does your song Aurora Borealis fit in with that definition?

MG: I work exclusively with my brother, Matt Gervais. Most of our work fits somewhere into the imagery=feeling spectrum. This is the first time I’ve had an interview without him, so I chose to highlight a song I can speak to more personally, Aurora Borealis. I tried to tell this story exclusively through pictures, and I normally look to nature for the best ones. The tide goes out twice a day and these squishy, delicate animals are exposed to the seagulls and the sunshine. You could write a thousand songs about that. Or the chaos of Saturn missiles going off on a dock at dusk in summer. I love the grandiose and the hopeless.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Sobi

I first met Sobi performing as part of the Café La Palma Open Mic series in Madrid, Spain. Sobi had her EP up for download and quickly established herself as a dope songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist throughout the city. Originally from London and currently living in the musical center of Manchester, Sobi stays active playing shows throughout England. Music provides Sobi a way to reflect on and recast past experiences into positive expressions moving forward. The deeper the Reflection, the more honest her songs become. Sobi put out her first EP Betty La Guapa in 2012 and is ready to drop her second EP Creatures in my Mind with Hourglass Productions on April 5th on Itunes. Peep the dialogue below and be sure to cop the new record coming soon!

Sobi

Reflection is taking time to remember and ponder the past. Response is using the past as inspiration to create something meaningful and positive. Depending on how we respond our past can always have a positive effect on our future.

– Sobi

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

S: Hi I’m Sobi and I’m a Britain-based singer/songwriter. My family are originally from Sri Lanka but I was born in Madrid and have spent most of my life living in England. I grew up in London and at the ripe old age of 18 decided to move to Manchester to study where I very quickly fell in love with the city that I now call home. As a musician and a huge fan of music Manchester has provided me with some of my favorite musical experiences! From watching bands like the Flaming Lips to performing myself with some incredibly talented local artists.

Sobi

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

S: To me reflection is taking time to remember and ponder the past. Response is using the past as inspiration to create something meaningful and positive. Depending on how we respond our past can always have a positive effect on our future.

How does your music fit in with that definition?

S: Writing songs has always been an emotional outlet for me and a way of reflecting and responding to various situations that I have been in. When I’ve had a stressful day or am feeling anxious about something my natural response is to pick up a guitar and turn my bad feelings into something good. The more I reflect on how the past has affected me and made me feel, the more honest and real my songs become.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Naïmah

I had the good pleasure of meeting Naïmah at a local coffeehouse in Greenpoint, Brooklyn a couple weeks ago. A Washington D.C.-based singer-songwriter, Naïmah is currently working on her own EP, writing songs for a handful of other artists, and playing shows in the DC and New York areas. We’re happy to welcome her to the Collective as she discusses her understanding and application of Reflection and Response, the creative process behind her song Wolf and I, and various other topics. We’re looking forward to a lot more dope work from Naïmah in the months and years ahead! Check out the dialogue below.

Naimah

Support each other. I’ve witnessed too much animosity in the art world, especially jealousy-driven. Everyone has their own gift, their own individual way of looking at something, and at the end of the day, no one can replicate that.

– Naïmah

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

N: I’m from Washington, D.C., and after going to boarding school in Boston, and college at USC in Los Angeles, I’ve made my way back to the District. A bit surprising to some, as I’m emanating those California vibes “for sure”, but it’s nice to be home and planting my roots and growing where I first got started.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

N: Within the harmony of those two actions I find the creative process at its best.  The thing about art as I see it, or at least how I approach my music, is that it is always a response to a reflection on a moment, a person, a feeling, and so on.

Whether I realize something is on my mind or not, songwriting helps me navigate through that process of reflection, and to figure out just how much that subject meant—or means—to me.  Each song is me saying, “This is my response about X. This is how I feel.”

And the incredible part is when that individual reflection and response, my response, captures the way someone else might also feel in their own reflection, or to allow them to see their feelings in a new light.

It’s hard to make this intangible transaction into a tangible explanation, but I hope that all makes sense.

How does ‘Wolf and I’ fit in with that definition? 

N: It doesn’t get more “reflection and response” than in Wolf and I. Well, it does, but prior to writing the song I’d been in a phase of day-dreaming and imagining and writing songs based on these scenes I made up when, after a trip to New York, I was headed back home on the bus, feverishly free-writing in my notes on my iPhone (let me say how restrictive auto-correct and that little screen is) as I attempted to capture how I felt about the events that had just occurred, and all the moments and experiences making up my relationship with this particular person and situation.

Wolf and I is a love song in its most basic interpretation, but I think the fact that it’s really so much more than that below the surface is why people have been able to connect with it. It’s about perception, the way you look at something, the good and the bad all at once.

Wolf is a simile I used to describe someone and something both close and distant, endearing, and in the process of change; and Wolf and I was my reflection, my attempt to articulate, all these thoughts in some kind of compact organization that I could store them in.

Since writing the song, I’ve opened back up to the realization of how important reflection and response is, and how my songs come to life when they are created in this frame of mind.

Photo by Alexandra Howland

Photo by Alexandra Howland

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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