Category Archives: Podcast

Joel Swensen – Changes, Transitions, and the Responsibility of an Artist

Joel Swensen says, “I like the way words sound…” He uses words to paint a scene or a picture for the listener. The intent is not literal, but Swensen’s songs come from a place of deep emotion and allow his audience to get lost in the entire experience rather than a particular phrase or poetic structure. Using descriptive visuals and referencing specific people in his life, he invites us to feel, rather than listen to the music.

Swensen states that he is most often connected to his writing by the heaviness of darkness, pain, and empathy. He stands out as an artist because his music reflects not only his feelings, but the needs, challenges and fears of the people in his life. We were honored to have him play live in the Portland Notes Studio, sharing the stories of the friends who inspire him. Listening to him speak, we can see that Swensen’s tone is brightening.

From a song that discusses death and hot anger to a tune called “Moonbeam Kitties”, Joel Swensen is exploring his responsibility as an artist. Understanding that ,in this current climate, we might need encouragement, he has been carefully considering his live show song selections to be on the lighter side. Swensen is not necessarily feeling more positive about the world – he is just feeling like he needs to identify and propose some alternatives to simply giving up.

Please enjoy these live recordings, and the interview with Joel Swensen. He’s also looking forward to a show to introduce some of these new songs. He’ll be playing February 26 at the White Eagle Saloon with House of Angels at their album release show. Until the show, you can take a listen to Joel Swensen at http://joel-swensen.com

Rob Daiker’s Binary Affairs – almost S.W.A.K. (sealed with a kiss)

Rob-Daiker-at-home-FI

Have you ever been in love? Do you remember those moments that were so emotionally poignant that you wished you could just freeze them in time forever? Can you recall the intense joy and excitement of anticipation? Have you ever been so drawn in by someone that you see poetry in every word and moment of your relationship? Rob Daiker’s album Binary Affairs embraces and vividly expresses a journey through a developing, blossoming, and expanding romantic relationship. His clever use of text fragments, historical quotes, and bits of conversation to inspire song titles and lyrics bring that metaphorical depth to the music which makes it accessible and relevant to all.

Rob-Daiker-at-home-01Binary Affairs is just so close to being released that we can all taste it – Rob needs just a few more days to put the final touches on things, but he’s a very busy man. A single father, a music producer, and artist – Rob is pulled in many different directions. He maintains focus very well, but sometimes his personal projects are put on the back burner. He anticipates a May release with a show event in June. It’s hard for fans to wait, but Rob’s incredible attention to detail is what makes his work so well-loved and appreciated. The dancy and intensely full pop-sound of Rob’s music is in no way easy to achieve, especially considering that he is composing, playing, and recording as a one-man project.

Rob-Daiker-at-home-02Rob released the first song from Binary Affairs, “Superhero” September 2015 to a packed house at Dante’s Portland. Along with Emotitron and Berahmand, he performed songs from the new album, and we’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of the remaining Binary Affairs album. “Random Error” was just released in December. Releasing the songs individually was not his original plan, but it certainly does cause quite a stir when each song is played for the first time! He’s offering a sneak preview of another release in this very article!

Rob-Daiker-at-home-03In the interview below, Rob talks about the inspiration for Binary Affairs, what he’s been up to since we last talked in September, and he shares a brand new song with us! “Damn the Torpedoes” is perhaps the next single to be released – this is the unfinished version, but only Rob would be able to notice any imperfections, of course. The story behind the song is revealed in the interview, as well as the history behind “Random Error”, and the meaning of the album title. In addition to being an obviously fantastic musician, Rob is a generous host, an active participant with the bands he produces, and a skilled communicator. Thanks to Rob Daiker for hosting Portland Notes and giving us an inside look at Binary Affairs.

Chris Robley – The Great Make-Believer

Chris-Robley-at-McMenamin's-Al's-Den-on-01-20-16-08It’s the name of his soon-to-be-released album, but it’s also an idea that Chris Robley expresses through music. A musical artist is a Make-Believer, a pretender if you will…playing a part in order to communicate emotion and experience through lyrics, melody, instrumentation, and performance. Chris, in his week-long residency at McMenamin’s Al’s Den, became very “real” to Portland, as he shared more than his music with the audience. He shared his story and his life, even his friends with a very enthusiastic and energetic group of devoted fans.

Chris-Robley-at-McMenamin's-Al's-Den-on-01-20-16-04Chris’ work with his band The Fear of Heights is well-known and appreciated for the many layers of instruments with an eerie, haunting sound that accompanies some of the purest vocals I’ve ever heard. His new project is more of an intimate conversation with listeners – each new song has a personal message. He’s a poet, intensely metaphorical, so the songs are not autobiographical – but they are overflowing with situational wisdom. I am always drawn to songs that expose the truth that “love is difficult” and “relationships are important.” I heard this message repeated in Robley’s lyrics and his stories. He is striving to let the message come through in the music, unhindered by anything extra that might distract or take away from the melodic conversation he is having with a listener. His acoustic presentation was enchanting, as he alternated his original songs with some very familiar and traditional tunes.

Chris-Robley-at-McMenamin's-Al's-Den-on-01-20-16-15The new album, available to the public very soon, was produced at a friend’s beach house – completely live and in the  moment. Chris was looking for the emotional intensity that comes from a group of mates experiencing music together, and syncing as they work. It’s a completely new approach for Chris, for this, his first album release in over five years. From the reaction of the audience, which was extremely positive and encouraging, he is reaching people with the new material.

In this interview, Chris touches on his move “from Portland to Portland”, his upcoming album release, and the bandmates he is so thrilled to see again – big thanks to Chris Robley and his Wednesday night guest, Little Professor, for allowing us to share the experience!

A notable conversation with Chris Robley featuring “Tonight You Belong To Me” recorded live at Al’s Den, and “Eden” from the album “The Great Make Believer”