MONACO’s “Cover Girl” is a Nostalgic Throwback for the New Decade

MONACO "Cover Girl"
Single Art by Kendall Haines

The last time we spoke with the band MONACO, they premiered their third single “Voilà” on PoetryDansLaRue in October. You can read more on the band’s backstory on our post, MONACO Premieres Vulnerable Single “Voilà.” At the rate that they produce boppy ’80s singles, the band should be on track to put out a nostalgic EP in the new decade. Today MONACO ring in 2020 by surprising fans with new single “Cover Girl.”

“You’re like a shot straight through my veins…”

Celebrating 2020 with a Tribute to the ’80s

“Cover Girl” by MONACO is out today on all streaming platforms. The band cites ’80s rock icons, Def Leppard, as the primary inspiration for the track. Singer and songwriter Daniel Davis of the L.A. local band explains, “I wanted to write a song that would make all of the iconic rock bands of the ’80s proud.” Davis continues to reference some of his other ’80s idols, Scorpions and Toto, as influences.

The concept of “Cover Girl” as a tribute to ’80s rock bands seems to come at the perfect time. As we celebrate 2020 and look back on the past four decades of music, the ’80s brought us innovative ideas and timeless hits. Many artists of today draw inspiration from this era and reference it in their work.

“I keep my edges real rough cause you make my heart velvet on the inside…”

Unveiling True Love

The song touches upon the feelings that occur at the beginning of a new relationship. Singer Daniel Davis recalls back to when he first met his wife, “It’s a rush of emotions. It was different this time because I felt like I waited my whole life for this moment. After making it official, I began to feel an intense mixture of happiness and fear. I worried that my heart would get broken again and that I wouldn’t be enough for her. She made me believe that I am enough.”

The song is a reflection of how love begins and challenges each person to reveal their true selves. Davis highlights some personal memories in the song from that uncertain, yet exciting time in their relationship. He discusses visiting San Francisco and not wanting to leave after. He questions, “Will you let me into your world, or is this just a cover, girl?”

The concept of “Cover Girl” comes full circle with a photo of his wife putting on makeup on their wedding day as the artwork. The song is apprehensive, captivating, and undeniably nostalgic of ’80s rock music.

Be sure to stream “Cover Girl” available now on all platforms and share your thoughts on social media. Happy New Year from PoetryDansLaRue and MONACO!

“Are you the one? I say you are. I say you are…”



a ride down the ‘san diego freeway’ with howard and the hopeless

howard and the hopeless san diego freeway
EP artwork by Jordan Dudenhoffer

In a world where streaming, sharing, and shuffling are at the fingertips of music consumers, artists have a daunting task to create the next best thing. San Diego solo artist, howard and the hopeless, has cracked the code, so to speak on his new EP, ‘san diego freeway.’ The seven-track project plays with the cohesion and variety of a full-length album. Each track, the artwork, as well as his signature lowercase aesthetic all seem to fit together strategically. The stand-out singles, “Poison” and “Set Me Free” will have you pressing add, play, and repeat.

Today we chat with Ian Logue on expanding his music career and defining what has come to be howard and the hopeless.

branching out with howard and the hopeless

poetrydanslarue: Had you released any music before the making of ‘san diego freeway?’

howard and the hopeless: “my other band, electric elms, has released four singles and a full-length album since 2017. ‘san diego freeway’ is the first project of mine where i played all the instruments myself. this idea was always a musical goal of mine. two of my favorite musicians, paul mccartney, and david bazan (of pedro the lion) inspired that aspiration.”

pdlr: When did you begin working on howard and the hopeless as a solo project?

howard and the hopeless: “i started thinking about putting out an independent project in mid-2017. the groundwork for howard and the hopeless and the writing of the songs that would become ‘san diego freeway’ didn’t happen until later in 2018.”

pdlr: Do other musicians help out, write, or play with you for howard and the hopeless?

howard and the hopeless: “i wrote and recorded about 90% of the album myself. the engineer for most of the ‘san diego freeway’ studio sessions, jacob montague, helped with a few guitar parts. he also produced and played a few instruments on the song “k(no)w.” jacob and i went to high school together. he did the mixing and mastering on almost all of the material i made with electric elms. he helped me take ‘san diego freeway’ across the finish line.

grant turley, another one of our high school friends, recorded the bass on “someone else.” the three of us had an instrumental indie band in high school. we mostly played in my parent’s attic.”

‘san diego freeway’

pdlr: Can you elaborate on the concept of ‘san diego freeway’ as the title? How did these songs fit together?

howard and the hopeless: “this album came at a time when i was experiencing a lot of major changes in my life. i wrote these songs around the time that i broke up with an ex that i dated on and off for three years.

soon after that break up, i decided that i wanted to move to la and give music a shot as a full time career. i spent a lot of time in hollywood at a friend’s studio. i was signed to his label at the time, so there was a lot of driving back and forth to make music with him. i get a lot of good thinking done while i’m driving, so the concept of this album (not to mention the lyrical content) came to me on the road. the 405 freeway in la connects to the 5 south and is called the san diego freeway. i always found this odd because the 405 doesn’t take you to san diego.”

a road map of songwriting

pdlr: What do your writing and recording processes entail?

howard and the hopeless: “i am not too picky when it comes to getting in the studio and recording. i usually have a song pretty nailed down by that point. i am open to suggestions from engineers or other musicians as well to get the right sound or vibe. i put a lot of trust in my engineer, who is usually jacob, to get me to the place i want to go with a song.

this ep was unique to write in the sense that i set out to do it with a specific vibe in mind for each track. i envisioned it as a mental road map of peaks and valleys that i wanted to reach throughout the ep. after experimenting with different guitar sounds, i settled into a style that i wanted the ep to convey. from there, i focused on distinct emotions that i wanted to highlight in each song.”

breaking down the tracks

pdlr: The song “Myself” seems very personal with a lot of self-reflective lyrics. Was this song challenging to write?

howard and the hopeless: “the hardest part of writing “myself” was knowing that it was going to be the most brutally honest song i’d written in my career. the song starts with “i’ve never loved me half as much as i love to hate myself.” in the “most depressing lyrics that i’ve ever written” category, that one’s at the top of the list. i wrote the lyrics driving back to san diego from los angeles at 11 pm on a saturday night, and put music to it the next day. it was a pretty quick process.

as these lyrics were things i wanted to put on paper for most of my adult life, the album is reflective of who i was five or ten years ago. i didn’t have the courage to write lyrics like that when i was twenty. writing songs like “myself” turned out to be very cathartic for me.”

“your parents passed down some kind of poison. that’s okay, so did mine.”

pdlr: “Poison” reminds me of some of my favorite ’90s songs. Were there specific tracks or artists that influenced the making of this song?

howard and the hopeless: i wouldn’t say that there was any particular artist or song that influenced the making of “poison.” my primary influence on the ep was the late ’90s-early ’00s indie rock music out of the pacific northwest. a lot of the big names, like modest mouse, death cab, and, my most significant influence, pedro the lion played a part. david bazan is a massive inspiration for me. his lyrical honesty, guitar lines, and his knack for melody have their fingerprints all over this ep.

even though i know bands like third eye blind and eve 6, i never thought they had any influence on my music. you’re not the first person to tell me that “poison” had a real ’90s feel to it, though.”

down the road

pdlr: What are some future goals for howard and the hopeless?

howard and the hopeless: “my main goal is to release a full-length album. that concept is in the early formation phase right now. in some ways it will be a continuation of ‘san diego freeway.’ a lot of the material on ‘sdf’ is emotional baggage that i carried around since i was younger. i think the next album will focus more on the current emotional baggage. i’m also looking forward to playing shows with some of the songs from ‘sdf’ and some newer material. we played one show for the ep release party and that’s it so far. i’m excited to see what kind of live show we can put together in the next couple months!”

‘san diego freeway’ is an EP that you appreciate for the sincerity and reflection. The artistry demonstrated through the concept, lyrics, and instrumentation certainly draws listeners to pay attention. If you find yourself singing along to it on the road late at night, that might be just where it belongs.

follow howard and the hopeless

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“January Fire” by Black Tiger Bay Is Here to Soothe Your November Blues

January Fire by Black Tiger Bay

Alternative-rock artist, Black Tiger Bay out of Minneapolis, is known for his nostalgic, guitar-heavy singles. His music emulates the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Manchester Orchestra, and Weezer all wrapped in one. Take one listen to”January Fire” by Black Tiger Bay, and you will instantly recall those moody tunes from your younger years. The new single combines a signature, magnetic intro with emotional lyrics as it builds to a dramatic yet soothing outro. “January Fire” will undoubtedly have you hanging on to every second.

“January Fire,

Wading through the mire,

Oh, you turned out a fearsome creature…”

Black Tiger Bay Finds “Clarity”

Singer, songwriter, and producer Cole Hooey got his start in the music industry quite some time ago with the pop-rock band The Season. After nine years of The Season parting ways, he began a new solo project. Now, as Black Tiger Bay, Hooey has more of an alternative-rock feel that suits his unique approach. Hooey, who is now married and a father of one, implements his expertise in writing music to further his career as a vocalist and artist. He is a self-taught singer, lyricist, producer, and mixer of his work. While creating his upcoming album, he has also collaborated with drummer Erik Bear and mastering engineer Seth Munson.

Under the new moniker, Black Tiger Bay, his debut single, “Clarity” is the perfect title for a new dad turned solo artist. “Clarity” is a song that will pull you in with just one listen. Hooey breaks down the significance of the leading track in our interview, “Clarity” is one of the higher energy tracks of the upcoming album. It captures the overall spirit of the project and sets the tone for the rest of the songs.”

“And I think I love it more than I should…”

Emotions Run High In “January Fire”

It is easy to see the influence that “Clarity” had on Black Tiger Bay’s most recent single “January Fire.” The two singles make the perfect pair as an introduction to his newly evolved sound. Hooey’s musicality and instrumental background play a crucial part in the process of his songwriting. He explains that his songs will start by humming guitar melodies and then building the instrumentals. Hooey recalls, “I start with a guitar part and end up fleshing that into a full instrumental. Vocals and lyrics usually don’t come easy for me. They tend to come a little later in the game.”

Oddly enough, one lyric that stands out in “January Fire” came from an Instagram post. The lyric “I think I love it more than I should,” resonated with Hooey. The line became the foundation on which the song’s story began to unfold. Upon writing and rewriting other lyrics around it, he came to realize that his newborn son, who battled health complications early on, was his inspiration and “January Fire.”

“January Fire” keeps listeners enthralled and eager for more while sending the message that life is fragile. The song intimately addresses the feeling of uncertainty and worry. While soothing and intriguing, it also echos a haunting reverberation in your mind.

“A tail is worth chasing only half of the time…”

“Clarity” and “January Fire” will surely drive Black Tiger Bay into the new year as he continues to build momentum for future releases. Stayed tuned for more from Black Tiger Bay by following him on social media and stream “January Fire” below.


MONACO Premieres Vulnerable Single “Voilà”

MONACO premiere "Voila"

On first listen to the band MONACO, you would never guess they are newcomers to the indie-pop scene. Having only two other tracks released, the group has already sparked interest and buzz worldwide. Today MONACO premieres their new bittersweet single “Voilà” exclusively on PoetryDansLaRue. We delve deeper into the personal backstory of how the song came together and experience the rollercoaster of “Voilà.”

“But babe, I’m already baskin’, now I’m askin’ to spend with you eternity…”

“So go ahead and let love in…”

MONACO: A State of Mind

When singer/songwriter Daniel Davis of MONACO began releasing music, he quickly realized that he would need to recruit some of his friends to help make his vision come to life. One of those friends, Chase Lawrence of the buzz-worthy group COIN, encouraged him to release a previously written track “Such a Vibe,” in December 2018. Almost immediately after release, Davis saw an influx of positive feedback. The song was featured in The Daily Listening, and he received requests for live shows all over the world.

Davis soon went on to add members and friends Josh and Christian to the band. The songs that the group has released since, “Blondes” and currently “Voilà,” are original songs all produced by Davis as well. The Los Angeles based indie-pop trio now encompasses the idea of MONACO. The concept of MONACO, once a college dream getaway and goal to pursue a music career. Today this idea is not only a popular destination but a state of mind, a more personal one for the band in regards to religion. MONACO is now a state of mind in which everyone can experience while listening to their music.

“You take me to the place where my soul is saved…”

Intergenerational Inspiration

One of the most intriguing things to talk about in the music industry today is the overlap of genres and generations that artists incorporate into their music. The band MONACO does an outstanding job of combining generations and crossing genres to achieve their timeless soundtrack anthem sound. Taking inspiration from a wide variety of ’80s artists such as The Cure, Duran Duran, Fleetwood Mac, Def Leppard, and Motley Crue, MONACO has developed a knack for nostalgic tunes. The influences don’t stop there as MONACO cites indie-rock bands The Killers, Passion Pit, Walk the Moon, and Kings of Leon as crucial players as well. You can check out a playlist curated by the band of the songs that inspired the making of “Voilà” here!

“All I know is that with you I’m safe…”


While the new single “Voilà” may lead fans to believe the band is shifting in sound, the song, and the original chorus date back to late 2014. MONACO recounts, “The early days of “Voilà” sounded A LOT like “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers, but later on, after revisiting the song and going through some significant life changes more of the ’80s and ’90s sounds took over.” The band also compares the track to a rollercoaster. “The song starts slow, builds, and takes you on a ride, much like your emotions throughout a relationship,” Davis elaborates.

The song itself encapsulates an emotional and spiritual journey over four years. Singer Daniel explains, “You learn not only to be the best person for someone else but the best person for yourself as well.” “Voilà” is very near and dear to the singer and his wife as it tells their story of learning to trust each other through the ups and downs of their relationship. The “Voilà” moment that they experienced in meeting each other led Davis to revisit the song and finally put a title to it. The song came together at the perfect time, similar to the picture-perfect love story he paints in the lyrics.

Listen to “Voilà” by MONACO as an exclusive early premiere, and be sure to stream it on Spotify tomorrow!

Looking Ahead

The band MONACO has a few more singles up their sleeves for future release. Some of these songs they describe as fresh and brand new material. MONACO is also looking ahead and brainstorming ideas for an album release show. From the sounds of it, some lucky family, friends, and fans may be getting some special treatment in thanks for their continuous support! You can follow the band on Instagram to stay updated and share your thoughts on the new single.



Wilmah Releases Emotional, Risk-Taking Single “It Will Always Be You”

Wilmah release It Will Always Be You
Photo by Alec Ilstrup

“Chin on wrist adoration from the start,” is not only a beautifully written song lyric but the perfect way to describe listening to the band Wilmah for the first time. The pop duo from NYC creates tracks that evoke infinite heart eye emoji reactions from their fans. In their newest release, “It Will Always Be You,” Wilmah bottles up those feelings and delivers them in a jazz heavy, R&B inspired tune.

“Someone translate what I’m feeling…”

Matt Connolly and William O’Connor (hence Wil+mah), have known each other since grade school and played in the middle school band together. They are the definition of a ‘do-it-yourself’ group when it comes to songwriting, instrumentation, and production. Their songs can either have you dancing like no one’s watching or sobbing on the floor reminiscing on old scars. Wilmah draws their fans in with poppy feel-good tunes such as “Dancing With a Mixed Drink,” and “Forever,” while also incorporating teenage angst soundtrack cuts such as “Nothing to Say,” and “Secretly Sad.”

The band’s release of “It Will Always Be You” combines the best of both worlds for Wilmah fans. The song will have you spinning around the room one minute and crying happy tears the next. Either way, it is one that you will want to spin endlessly into fall.

“It Will Always Be You” // Unlike Any Wilmah Track You’ve Heard Before

My chat with Wilmah was full of laughs and gushing over similar interests in the music industry. It certainly did not take long to realize that these two have what it takes to conquer their bucket list goals as a band. Citing inspiration from The 1975, LANY, and MGMT, they embrace a genreless music era in the creation of their sounds.

“It Will Always Be You” is a surprising and risk-taking track for Wilmah and their fanbase. It is not often that you hear the type of production and instrumentation that the song incorporates. On first listen, you may be wondering who is playing the saxophone and how the sounds all came together. Matt and Will explain that this is their first collaborative type track where they feature another musician. Upon receiving a relatively well laid out demo of the track online, the saxophonist added his original flare to the sections they had chosen for the feature.

The saxophone collaboration is not the only surprise on “It Will Always Be You.” Fans will undoubtedly be drooling over the key changes at the end of the song as well. The band mentions that they enjoy playing around with different formats and crazy ideas when putting songs together. They recount that “It Will Always Be You” is a product of that experimentation.

“And my sweet brain plays tricks on me every day…”

Lyrical Life Lessons

Wilmah is a band of emotion-evoking lyrics. They tend to encapsulate the perfect picture of nostalgia, all-in first love, and naiveté in their songwriting. “It Will Always Be You” features on-brand lines such as “Backwards marathons and pleading payphone calls” and “I apologize for not being sorry.” They elaborate on the lyrical meaning during our interview, “It’s about when you’re young, and you are trying to navigate how you are feeling. You are fearful of losing someone and struggle to see a future without them.” “The song portrays the conflict of learning about yourself while you are simultaneously learning about your partner,” Matt Connolly recounts.

A Taste of What’s to Come

“It Will Always Be You” will also bring a new EP with the same title. EP two will feature six songs, that will include two more singles to follow this release. From the sounds of it, the second EP will follow their signature style along with more differentiation between the tracks. Fans should expect dance anthems, a ballad, jazz influences, and some 2010s throwback style vibes.

“It Will Always Be You” will surely open up doors for the band to accomplish their long list of future goals. They recently played their first Manhattan show alongside the band Drive!Drive! and have hopes of adding more tour dates in the future. As they continue to take inspiration from the artists they come in contact with and collaborate with on tour, they hope to develop an organic live show for fans as well.

“It’s the you, that nothing and no one can ever compare to…”

Wilmah will cross off another bucket list item when they play on October 29th in Brooklyn, NY with the band MILKK. Tickets are available here.

Stream the new release “It Will Always Be You” by Wilmah available now on all music platforms. Follow them on social media to share your thoughts on the new single!



Last Vacation Premieres New Introspective Single “Started”

Last Vacation Premiere "Started"

It cannot be easy to merge countless influences into one fifty-second introduction, but the indie-pop band, Last Vacation, has done just that with the premiere of “Started.” The new single is the perfect addition to their catalog of ’90s and 2000s inspired tunes. Mixed with the progression of today’s music, they’ve got themselves an easily identifiable hit. If the previously released “Neon Home” is an upbeat dreamy dance song, then “Started” is an ‘in-your-face’ call to action.

The Boston pop band, Last Vacation, features Travis Rutzel on vocals, Scott Anderson on drums, Dan Hennessey on bass, and Stephen MacDonald on guitar. Today we bring you an exclusive premiere of “Started,” the introspective new single from Last Vacation.

“I bet you got it all worked out, I bet you’re doing better on your own…”

A Fresh Start

The band released their reinvented debut single, “Neon Home,” in May of this year. To say making music is new to the four-piece, however, is not the case. They have a history of working together for quite some time. To better convey their message, the band decided to undergo a name change within the last year. The name “Last Vacation,” initially penned as a song title, stuck out to them as a pop band moniker with a bit of darkness to it.

Although Last Vacation has recently switched up their name and sound, their desire to create music remains unchanging. The songwriting process seems innate to the band. They mention that each member adds to the creativity of the group. Rutzel and Anderson are a lyrical and instrumental duo that play off of each other. They ignite the initial flame for each new track. The two frequently bounce ideas for off of Hennessey and MacDonald, who provide a fresh and honest perspective in the development of the music.

If you haven’t already, you will want to check out “Neon Home” and “Moon Lake” to paint the full picture of Last Vacation’s story thus far. In their early stages, these songs were destined for the band’s first EP. Focusing on having their music heard and creating a recognizable brand, led the group to share them as stand-alone singles.

“I wish that I could see you now. Wishing for a better place, a better place…”

The Message of “Started”

Upon listening to the single “Started,” you may do a double-take on the vocals and overall sound. It is unexpectedly unique, nostalgic, and intriguing. You can hear notes of Jimmy Eat World coming through, a band of which they cite as a longtime inspiration. The instrumentation is the underlying force that takes you back to Warped Tour days and early 2000s pop-rock anthems. The band recounts tweaking these sounds many times until they were able to achieve this vibe.

In regards to the message, “Started” is up to personal interpretation and may pull you in different directions emotionally. In our interview, the band recalls the early days of laying down the lyrics, “At first, I think it was a lot about the pressures to fulfill a relationship or your job. As you grow up, people put a lot of emphasis on sticking with something and seeing it through. In reality, this advice is not always healthy in relationships or career choices. It is a very personal song for us. Now we see it as a career-defining song because we want to push ourselves as a band and we have a responsibility to see this through.”

Starting to Leave a Lasting Impression

It is easy to see that “Started” has the qualities of an opening track to a larger project. It is bound to leave a lasting impression on fans and new listeners alike. If the chorus does not circle your brain in the forthcoming days, you’re doing it wrong, and I recommend playing the song again. Not only will “Started” provide you with a catchy weekend soundtrack, but it will also prompt you to reflect on carrying out your endeavors to the fullest extent.

Last Vacation plans to release two more singles to round out to a series of five before the end of the year. The band describes the next two songs as “a little more emo and brooding” which fall in perfect time with Halloween around the corner. You can also catch them live with MILKK in Cambridge, MA on October 28th.

“You got to finish what you started…”

Be the first of listeners to hear the premiere of “Started” from Last Vacation below. Follow them on social media to share your thoughts on the single!



Jonah Melvon: From Ghostwriter to Solo Artist

Jonah Melvon Artist to Watch

Have you ever had a kick yourself moment when someone tells you an artist is going to blow up, you ignore it, and then they do? Well, listen up because Jonah Melvon is one heck of an artist to watch. Plus, you can enter our giveaway* to hear his new single before anyone else and cop some merch from his latest album!

*All details, requirements, and rules for the giveaway can be seen here on my Instagram post.

San Francisco Bay area artist, Jonah Melvon has been making waves in the music industry for quite some time now. Starting his career as a ghostwriter, Melvon quickly realized his passion was in songwriting and artistry. He has since gone on to release his debut album Rain Water Project in January of this year. He plays countless live events and is currently gearing up to release his new single “Sunday Mornings” on September 15th. Today we talk with Jonah about his tireless journey with songwriting, tour success, and the direction of his new music.

‘Rain Water Project’: The Drought is Over

PoetryDansLaRue: Tell me about the concept of your album Rain Water Project that you released in early 2019.

Jonah Melvon: “When I began writing for this album, I was writing this other project called Dreaming Again to help save a non-profit organization. One of the songs that I was writing for that project, “Knockin,” became the last song on Rain Water Project. That song felt very much like rain to me, almost Sade-ish. As I transitioned to writing the album, I started writing more songs with very reflective and thought-provoking arrangements. The chords were feeling a lot like rain in the harmonies.

When it came time to choose the title, I thought of my now 4-year-old daughter and the difficulty of getting her to go to sleep. I discovered this ‘rainwater app,’ and it worked wonders. There had also been a bit of a drought for me musically. As a ghostwriter, I could not even claim my work. These concepts all came together as well as adding the symbol of the cover art. The idea of the umbrella makes sense because I enjoy helping people, and I’m big on equity and empowerment.”

PDLR: It’s cool to hear how all of those pieces came together in the right order and how the album has multiple meanings to it as well.

Renowned Songwriter

PDLR: I did see that you have toured with some insane artists in the past, Miguel, Black Eyed Peas, and T.I. to name a few. Do you have any interest in collaborating with them or other similar artists?

Jonah Melvon: “I’m open depending on the message, the sounds, and the vibes. I’m more into the vibe than the message at first. Then I’m into what the song is saying. If it is an inspiring song that puts you in a certain mood, for example, I’m more into that. Being in the Bay area, there are a lot of relatively unknown artists, but all it takes is someone in our group to make some noise. I have been collaborating for the most part with my close community. As far as specific artists go, H.E.R. and Daniel Cesar would be on my radar. Sade would be a bucket list collaboration because I grew up listening to her music. I’m fortunate to be working with my sisters on my music as well.”

PDLR: You mentioned before that you were doing some ghostwriting for other artists. Do you do all of the writing for your projects?

Jonah Melvon: “Oh, yes! If I’m gifted with something, it’s the ability to be able to write songs. I have no shortage of words *laughs* and I love to connect with people and engage. There are a lot of things that I’m passionate about and want to share. So, yes, I have written all of my songs. If someone else wrote for me, I would first want to see what it is. Also, with jumping genres from soul to hip-hop, it probably wouldn’t work for my autobiographical style. Now, having an editor and people to bounce ideas off of will certainly help to define what you are trying to say.”

From The Bay to the U.K.?

PDLR: You look so busy with live performances! How do you prioritize the shows that you play?

Jonah Melvon: “We have a great thing going on here in the Bay area. The tech-craze boom has taken over. We are playing everything from tech companies such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Pandora, etc. These are elite types of shows exclusive to those employees. Although my friends, family, and fans are thankful for these types of opportunities, they can’t get into the shows. So, my sister and I have decided to do a lot more specific cities, venues, and festivals. It’s a lot of art and culture that celebrates the African diaspora and all of these different walks of life. So, we play a lot at the moment, but I am trying to slow it down a bit. I recently had an offer to join a tour in the U.K., but we turned it down. I want to focus on new music and recording first before we get there.”

PDLR: Have you done, or do you plan on doing any shows on the East Coast?

Jonah Melvon: “It has been a while since I have played out there. We played in Rochester at Blue Cross Arena with a friend of mine, but it has been a long time. Ironically enough, all of the new works that I am producing are with a guy in New York. We have the coast to coast thing going on. I will probably reach out to him in the future and start doing more out there. L.A. is right around the corner for me, which provides a lot of opportunities. I might end up playing in the U.K. before I play in New York, though, we will see.”

PDLR: It seems like you have a connection in the U.K. having mentioned a tour opportunity and playing over there.

Jonah Melvon: “They are playing my project there more than anywhere else, specifically in London. I’ve done a million radio drops for the DJs out there.”

PDLR: I love the U.K. radio! I think they are so progressive. The concept of Beats 1 on Apple Music, coming from Zane Lowe (formerly of BBC Radio 1), is so innovative. The hottest records that they release daily are always the next big thing. It’s a perfect market for artists!

Jonah Melvon: “The U.K. is very passionate about the arts in a very raw sense. It’s not as commercial. They love songwriters, innovation, artists getting paid their due justice. I would share with them some of my Spotify or Apple Music links and some of them would say they don’t even use it and would prefer the MP3. They didn’t want to promote all of the streaming services. I don’t think it’s how it’s being received (streaming, download, CD, etc.), but more that music is a piece of art and the value should reflect what it is worth. That way, artists can stay creative if we give them the space to do it.”

The Calm of “Sunday Mornings”

PDLR: I heard your snippet of your next single “Sunday Mornings” on Instagram. Is this new track branching out in a different direction from Rain Water Project? Or is it stemming from the sounds on the album?

Jonah Melvon: “It could be an extension from Rain Water Project. I enjoyed making the sounds that we made on that album. I felt like it was a cool place for me to be as an artist. The fans are asking for more of this type of material. This song, however, and these new songs that will be coming out, are lyrically infused with rhyming, but have a lot of singing tones. I think people are intrigued by the title of the song and they will understand it as soon as they hear it. Sundays, traditionally speaking, are the days that we allow ourselves to be most calm. Everything from the melody to the delivery is saying slow down with me like Sunday morning and take the time to engage each other.”

PDLR: Anything else you would like your fans to know about your new music coming out?

Jonah Melvon: “I’m just excited for everyone to hear it! This campaign is the most strategic I have been because I haven’t posted the whole song ahead of release. Before I would be so eager to share my work with promoters, curators, and editors that my songs would end up being shared before they dropped. This time I’m proud that I’ve held onto it, and I’m grateful that fans are so supportive and engaged.”

It is apparent that Jonah Melvon, having dedicated an endless amount of time to his work as a songwriter, should be on your radar as an artist to watch. You can check him out below and stay tuned for “Sunday Mornings” to be released on September 15th!



The Perfect Back to School Playlist for Your Summer Nostalgia Needs

back to school playlist

Welcome back to school! Bonne rentrée ! Whether you’re a student, teacher, parent, or school employee it’s the time of the year when we say goodbye to the pool days and hello to the well, you know! Here’s a Back to School playlist for those early mornings, late-night study hours, and some well-deserved carpool karaoke Starbucks runs. Let’s take a look at some of the ‘so-long-sweet-summer’ tracks featured on this playlist!

“Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” by Taylor Swift

Taylor released her 7th album as a rather strategic finale to summer days sending you back to school with some singalong anthems. “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” sounds like a trip down memory lane to walking the halls on the first day of school. As Taylor chants out, “GO!” “FIGHT!” “WIN!” throughout the song, you get the impression that you are sitting sideline at a fall football game.

“People” by The 1975

With an opening line like “Wake up, wake up, wake up, it’s Monday morning, and we’ve only got a thousand of them left,” this track is practically a personal alarm clock. Now, I must say, while this track is not entirely off-brand for The 1975, it is not an easy-listening tune for the masses. The band took several risks with “People.” They ultimately go back to their roots by adding more of an early 2000s punk influence. If you listen intently to the lyrics, you will find that it is a wake-up call on many levels.

“Do You Remember?” by Chance the Rapper and Death Cab for Cutie

This song screams nostalgia. I think that anyone can relate to the idea of being younger and feeling as though summer would never end. The Death Cab for Cutie feature caught me by surprise on this track. The collaboration of these artists paints the perfect ‘summer-coming-to-an-end’ picture. If you are a Death Cab fan, it adds to their summer song repertoire (Summer Skin, Summer Years). It’s bittersweet, yet optimistic. Check out the rest of this album from Chance. I guarantee that there is a collaboration for everyone.

“Nostalgic” by A R I Z O N A

Okay, we may have a theme here. While this early June release features those familiar ‘woah-oh-oh’ choruses from A R I Z O N A, it strips back their usual dance anthemic sound. The reflective lyrics and repetitive beats evoke clear images of driving down a backroad with the windows down.

“She Plays Bass” by Beabadoobee

The Dirty Hit artist and alternative/indie songwriter, “bee-ah-ba-ba-doo-bee” has done it again. Soothing vocals over poignant yet straightforward lyrics will calm your mind after a long day. Hold off for the unexpected outro, and you will hear an entirely different side of the song.

Enjoy this Back to School Playlist! Good luck, kids, parents, teachers & school employees!

SAINT SLUMBER ‘YOUTH//3’: The Culmination of ‘YOUTH’

saint slumber youth//3
Photo by Keira Zhou

New Jersey indie-rock band, SAINT SLUMBER, completed their YOUTH// EP trilogy Friday with the release of YOUTH//3. The three-piece, made up of lead vocals Josh Perna, guitarist Aaron Brown, and drummer Matt Carpenter, has focused on the concept of youth and its fragility throughout the trilogy. Today I chat with drummer Matt Carpenter about why YOUTH//3 is “brutally sad,” finding their sound, and what’s next for SAINT SLUMBER.

‘YOUTH//3’: Grieving the Loss of YOUTH

PoetryDansLaRue: So, the EP is out now, which is very exciting! I know it was mentioned that YOUTH//3 is “brutally sad,” can you pinpoint one of the five songs that was more emotional or difficult to write?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I would say, “THIS TOO SHALL PASS.” It’s a big, sad ballad. I think it’s going to tug on the heartstrings of people. There are a few lines in there that make you want to tear up. Josh writes all the lyrics, so it’s more personal for him, but we can all relate to what he’s talking about.”

PDLR: Is that the [only] one that sticks out as “brutally sad” or is the theme to the EP more emotional stripped-down songs?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I’d say that there is a more emotional theme to the whole EP. Especially since it’s a culmination of the whole topic that occurs throughout the YOUTH trilogy. YOUTH//3 is a final statement, grieving the loss of youth.”

PDLR: With it being five years since the beginning of the trilogy, has your perspective of the concept of youth changed?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I’m the oldest member of the band. I’m 28 years old, but at heart, I always feel like I’m a 14/15-year-old kid. I think it’s holding onto that aspect of wonder and awe of life and the innocence of being young. It never really goes away. You have to grow up and mature a little bit, but it doesn’t entirely go away. I don’t know if too much of my perspective has changed. I think in general, we did our best throughout the trilogy to encapsulate that feeling. Some of these songs aren’t very old, so they are pretty fresh ideas.”

Finding Their “MANTRA”

PDLR: Is there a defining song from the trilogy that you would recommend to new fans?

SAINT SLUMBER: “For me, I’d say it’s “MANTRA.” What we thought was interesting throughout the whole YOUTH trilogy was not only topically, that it’s about maturing and the loss of youth, but that by YOUTH//3 our sound has evolved the most. We feel like this EP is the sound that we’ve been trying to reach for the past five years. “MANTRA” was the one that immediately, once the song was in its finishing process, that we were like, “This is it!” Although I do think people are going to like “BIG BIG LOVE.” I think it’s the most unique song that we’ve written so far.”

Coincidentally, “MANTRA” was the first song that I heard by them. The theory checks out, in my opinion.

Before ‘YOUTH//’

PDLR: In the early days of songwriting before YOUTH//1, what artists did you draw inspiration from to create your sound?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I think it’s been a long process of the development of our sound. We all grew up playing in metal and hardcore and post-hardcore bands. So that’s our background, and I think that will always be part of us. It influenced our current sound and especially our live show. As you get older, as you mature, you want to create music that is a little bit more you. So, we grew up also with The 1975. We were on the earlier end of The 1975 (THEY STAN AND WE ARE HERE FOR IT). We looked up to bands like Imagine Dragons that were redefining the indie sound. Radiohead has been a big influence to us as well. I could name a million bands…”

After ‘YOUTH//’

PDLR: So, I hear that the 4th EP is already in the making? Does EP 4 have a completely different vibe? Or is it stemming from the momentum from the 3rd EP?

SAINT SLUMBER: “The next batch of music is coming from what we’ve been writing throughout the YOUTH// process. We didn’t necessarily think that they belonged on any one of the albums. They still fall within the same vibe. Not that these are leftover songs, but they are other ones that we had in our pocket. Then we have some MORE songs too for the future that kind of break away from that vibe a little.”

PDLR: Aside from EP 3 and 4, what’s next for SAINT SLUMBER? Can we expect any shows soon?

SAINT SLUMBER: “We are right now, most focused on getting tours. We are hoping to book some shows soon for the fall. We do want to get some live shows in New York and Philly in the earlier fall.”

We will be on the lookout for sure! Check out YOUTH//3 and the trilogy in its entirety with this SAINT SLUMBER playlist below!



PLAKE Nixes the Filter On Raw New Single “Bleeding Out”

Plake Bleeding Out

Hunter Plake made his break-out debut on The Voice Season 12 by turning the chairs of Alicia Keys and Gwen Stefani. Initially joining team Alicia but later stolen by Gwen, he made a lasting impression on Voice fans nationwide. Today we talk about his band, PLAKE, with brother Dakota and their newest track, “Bleeding Out.”

Recommendation: If you haven’t already, listen to the song NOW! Try to focus on the lyrics and the message and your overall first impression of it without context.

On New Single”Bleeding Out”

PLAKE dropped their new emotionally transparent single “Bleeding Out” on August 2nd after a ten-month hiatus from releasing music. Upon asking about the concept and process behind the making of the song and his struggle with depression here is what Hunter had to say:

PLAKE: “I mean, people don’t really write about it [depression] because you feel like it’s an embarrassing thing. Honestly, I think being a creative person, when I experience emotions, I don’t feel half-assed with any emotion. If I’m experiencing love, I experience it very intensely, anger, etc. When I wrote the song, it’s about the feelings of depression. It’s constructed in a way where it talks about the different stages of it and where you end up mentally at the end. At the end, the reason why I switched the lyrics up, the reason why I did that is because that’s how you get out of depression. You start to care about other people instead of just yourself.”

“This is the first time that we released a song that’s so intense. I like to say that we have pretty different sides to our band: our happy side with songs like “Eden,” and then “Bleeding Out” is the most extreme sad version of our band that we have.”

Unfortunately the music video for “Bleeding Out” was recently removed, but Hunter describes it as “very dream-like.” He explains that the video paints a picture of your average person struggling with day-to-day life and using devices as a distraction to escape depression. In the video, his brother, Dakota, is “trying to get him out of the virtual world and back to reality.” We will be on the lookout for the repost in the future!

On the Songwriting Process

PoetryDansLaRue: Can you guys talk about your songwriting process? Who does most of the writing? Who does the producing?

PLAKE: “I write my best when I’m honestly by myself. I do like writing with people too sometimes. With an emotional song like “Bleeding Out,” I wrote the song, and then after that, I had ideas of where I wanted to go with production because I’m producing as I write too. I start with a melody, and I have that melody in my head. That’s kind of how our song begins. Once we start recording it, we start picking it apart. When we’re doing that, both of us are in the studio. Dakota is playing guitar mostly and helping me get a fresh perspective on what’s inside my head.”

PDLR: So, “Eden” was the first song that you released as a band and you released eight songs after that, correct? For some reason, I could not access “Hurricane Lovers” on Apple Music…?

PLAKE: “We released seven songs after “Eden,” including “Bleeding Out.” We released “Hurricane Lovers,” and we pulled that one down, “Scared,” and “Cold Vibes,” we pulled down. So those, that we pulled down, there’s different reasons behind each one, but we just realized it was a hard left. We see ourselves as what we’re gonna be in the future and anything that might hurt us, we eliminate.”

PDLR: Which song do you feel represents your sound the most and the sound that you’re going for in the future?

PLAKE: “My answer is going to be the same as every artist. Whatever we just released is gonna be the answer because we just did it. But, it’s a journey, if we look back on it in twenty years, we might see a different version of us. Right now, “Bleeding Out” is exactly what we want.”

On The Voice

PDLR: Can I go back a little and talk about The Voice? Do you keep in contact with any of the coaches/contestants?

PLAKE: “I stay in contact with the contestants. As far as the coaches go, the show and my relationships with the coaches are not as personal as you would think. So, I haven’t stayed in touch with them. There are a few people from the show that I stay in touch with.”

PDLR: I feel there is a little bit of a disconnect from following some of The Voice contestants throughout the years…

PLAKE: “Honestly, unless you’re an internet meme, blowing up overnight doesn’t happen. I made the decision that I was doing music full time before I even auditioned. So, when I went there, I thought it was convenient, and I could get a little bit of attraction. Since then it’s been making connections with people in the music industry. A lot of our connections came from the show and us just reaching out to people. It helps being on the show to reach out to producers, etc. I think the disconnect you’re talking about is the fact that people don’t blow up overnight. They might go there and expect that they will. That’s not how it works if they don’t put in the work like every other artist, building your sound and building your image.”

Coming Soon

PDLR: What’s next for PLAKE?

PLAKE: “We’re about to release the rest of our projects and are planning that out right now. Probably going to be a single next month and a full EP in October. The rest of the EP is more based on relationships with kind of the same sound as “Bleeding Out.”



Check out this PLAKE playlist below for more!