11 Questions with Amber Hargett

your-tuesday-afternoon-color copyThis essay marks our inaugural new YTAA series: ’11 questions with…’. The idea is to learn about the artist and how they create, compose and make artwork in the present moment. We have approached several bands and artists to answer some questions about their latest music, a song that they have recently worked on and how they are managing the current extraordinary challenges during the Coronavirus pandemic.

A hearty thank you to all of the artists and musicians for taking the time to answer these questions! We appreciate you answering these questions for our readers/listeners on YTAA!

A few days ago, Dr. J reached out to Dayton powerhouse singer, songwriter and guitarist Amber Hargett to answer our first ’11 Questions with…’ column. If you do not know, where have you been? No, seriously Amber Hargett released the acclaimed record Paper Trail‘ at the end of March 2019. The artist’s first record included songs with emotional heft ‘Carolina Blue’, surviving the challenges of everyday life ‘Broke’, and the power of real authentic head over heels love ‘Fallin’ for You’ among several other stellar tracks.

HORIZONTAL NAMEMore recently, Amber has finished a new song, Painting Pictures, that addresses several important features of the calling to create music and art. We want to extend our deep appreciation for Amber for answering these questions!

Dr. J: What can you share with us about when and how you started writing your latest released song, Painting Pictures?

Amber Hargett (AH): I spent the first five or six weeks of quarantine in a weird funk. I needed rest, anyway. But I had been struggling to find any motivation to pick up my guitar, write, or perform. One night I couldn’t sleep and started thinking of the kindred spirits I knew who were probably up, too – struggling with expressing their feelings, but determined to keep creating. I wound up staying up until 4 a.m. to finish the song.

Dr. J: You worked closely with Patrick Himes at Reel Love Recording Company here in Dayton, Ohio, what led to your recording with Patrick?

AH: Back in January, I booked studio time for a single (‘Shine On’) in March and additional dates to begin an EP in May. The pandemic led to an automatic cancellation of the March dates, but when May approached and I had new material, Patrick and I felt we could work together safely. We were both eager to get back to work.

a0025564858_16Dr. J: Painting Pictures is a meaningful song for those involved in creative work/pursuits; did you set out to address the concerns and challenges of artists/musicians/creatives when starting to work on that song?

AH: I guess so. The very first line I wrote was, “I’m down here writing music that nobody’s gonna hear.” Because that’s exactly where I was – in a basement, at 1:00 a.m., alone, writing a tune that I was never sure would see the light of day. Every song feels that way at some point. But then I thought of Megan Fiely, my friend and amazing artist, and how she probably felt the same way sometimes about her paintings. I actually completed the third verse of the song first, with her in mind.

Dr. J: Painting Pictures also addresses other forms of work – for example service – is that a correct interpretation of some of the lyrics? In addition, if that is correct, did you intend to address many forms of work or did the song evolve in that direction over time?

AH: Yes, absolutely. My husband is a commercial construction foreman. He hasn’t missed a single day of work for the sake of his health during Ohio’s Stay At Home order. (Except for vacation days I begged him to take, just for mental health and rest.) The idea that SOME work is “essential” and other work is not was a big topic of discussion in our house. Nick called himself “an expendable essential worker”, to express his frustration with the fact he was required to work and finish building a hotel for a major chain. That really stuck in my craw, as they say. While we are very grateful for the steady income, we both struggled with the fact that Nick was expected to keep on working – at the risk of his health – for something that seemed like it could wait?

On the other hand, I felt as though artists and songwriters and such were just considered unimportant during these times. For me and my cohorts, it is unlikely unemployment will ever be granted, yet I’ve already lost a couple thousand dollars in promised gigs and in merchandise costs that I doubt I’ll recoup. I guess the main point is: everyone’s work is essential. It all matters. If you’re writing songs, building infrastructure, creating art, or serving and ministering to your own family or the community, it’s all essential.

0020197789_10Dr. J: How did the song come together musically for you? I began with writing lines that would fit the cadence of the last line of each verse, and then worked backwards to create a “character” for each segment of the song.

AH: Where do you often derive inspiration to make music? Oh boy. Many sources. Sometimes it’s my most passionate opinions on a sensitive subject, (like ‘Churchmouse’), personal experiences, or it’s observational, like in Painting Pictures. I also like the challenge of stepping inside someone else’s shoes and trying to present their voice through a song – but only if I have something personal to lend to it. Otherwise I think it would feel disingenuous. Listening to other people’s music is also a huge pathway to writing new music. Especially LIVE music! Experiencing someone else’s work is a constant source of inspiration. A sound, a chord change, a vocal moment, or its presentation often sparks something in my brain to take home.

Dr. J: How would you describe the music that you typically create? How has that process evolved or changed over time (especially as you think about your journey from Paper Trail to Painting Pictures)?

AH: Well, Paper Trail was really a “catching up” project, composed mostly of songs that existed for several years. I dusted them off and “hodge-podged” a record together. I liken it to making a quilt out of scrap fabric. Don’t get me wrong! I love how she turned out. But it was also my first fully-produced recording experience, so there was a learning curve.

Since then, I would say there has been more of a change in me as an artist than in the writing or creative process. I feel myself maturing and growing more comfortable calling myself a songwriter. I’ve finally begun to embrace it, and I think that shows.

Recording ‘Painting Pictures’ was such a pleasure because Patrick and I had already established a great working chemistry both in the studio and as band-mates. It was also the first time I was writing something especially relevant, so I felt more of an urgency to share it. There was a time I would have sat on the song and poked holes in it a few months before I dared record it.

100731620_3890002181041330_5834964301433012224_oDr. J: What is next for you musically? How would you describe your thoughts at this point for your next project after Painting Pictures?

AH: The next project will be unlike what I’ve done so far. It will be an EP featuring a collection of songs that feel connected to one another, and with a sound that suggests they come from another time. My artistic vision for this work is far more specific and I can’t wait to get started. The grouping will include ‘Churchmouse’ which is by far my heaviest writing yet, but a piece I feel is incredibly important for me to take to a fully-produced form. Overall, the EP will have a darker tone, but it will still contain glimmers of hope and light. Something I intend to be true of the majority of my writing and performances.

Dr. J: What is your favorite song to perform? What makes it a current favorite in your performances?

AH: In a solo set, I think Somebody Loves You will always be my favorite song to perform. It is the first song I memorized, and I think it’s because I feel it’s message is the most important. Once in a while I can hear the crowd sing the phrase and it moves me to tears.

With the band? Probably ‘Without You’. That song is the prayer of my heart and one of the most personal from Paper Trail. Fun fact: Brian Greaney insists that song go on every set list! Ha ha!

Dr. J: What is one message you would hope that listeners find in the unique nature of your latest music?

AH: That they are loved, seen and appreciated.

Dr. J: As a musician, how are you adapting to the challenges of the Coronavirus?

AH: From a business perspective? I am forcing myself to apply my 10+ years experience s174958706945291087_p3_i1_w1815in advertising and branding (in my past life) to promote myself and the new music. I eternally loathe this part of being an artist. But, the quarantine did offer me time to get an online merch store up and running, which helps out here and there.

Musically, it is harder to find inspiration. The loss of live shows is definitely taking a toll on the inspiration bank. But I have also taken some of this time to reach out to my other artist friends and encourage them to keep doing their thing. I think the community here is looking out for one another in big ways, and that encourages me! It will make our reunions that much sweeter.

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Amber is playing a safe socially distancing show at The Yellow Cab Tavern tonight! Please check with Yellow Cab regarding their procedures for a fun and safe event! Then on Saturday, May 30th, Amber is joining other luminaries of the Dayton Music Scene for a virtual concert, Tip Jar: A Show of Thanks to benefit hospitality workers.

Thanks again to Amber for answering these questions! If you would like to participate in a future ’11 Questions with…’ column, please feel free to email us at drjytaa@gmail.com. If you have, a particular picture you would like used in the article, please feel free to attach that as well. All pictures and images of Amber Hargett courtesy of the artist.

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Amber Hargett on Bandcamp     Amber Hargett on Facebook

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New Music from Seth Canan

0020050458_100Amazing songwriter and keeper of the rock and roll flame Seth Canan is known for his super catchy music and high energy shows with Seth Canan & The Carriers. He has just made some new music available for us today that we need during these difficult days.
You can buy these records on bandcamp using the name your own price option! A gesture of generosity that speaks to the kind of person that Seth is on and off stage.
All songs written and performed by Seth Canan
Produced, Engineered and Mixed by Seth with Assistant Engineers: Isaac Schaefer Jr. and Zac Pack Mastered by Micah Carli at Popside Recording in Troy, OH.
Cover Art: “Image of the Child” by Sadie Canan Graphic Design by Kena Nowlin
Great new music! Thanks Seth!
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Video of The Day: TINO – You Know

Today’s video is the latest from TINO! You can read our review of the record! TINO also has more for you on his YouTube Channel! Subscribe to his channel for video and information updates! TINO blends wisdom with incredibly high energy rock and rap using a mix of “rhyme schemes and unique flows over music ranging from golden era boom bap to trap mixed with soul samples and electronica.”

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Video of The Day: The New Old-Fashioned – Kid 2000

Kid 2000 is one of the tracks on the The New Old Fashioned’s third album, Smalltown, Midwest, USA from Magnaphone Records. The video was directed and filmed by Jake Wisecup. You can find The New Old-Fashioned on Facebook, their website, and Twitter.

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Video of The Day: The Nautical Theme – One More Left

One More Left is the second single from the album Lows+Highs, the second full length album from The Nautical Theme.

Story behind the song: Thinking about how One More Left came together for Lows and Highs as this delicate, sweet, and simple arrangement, prominently featuring Tesia playing the mountain dulcimer, it’s funny to remember that the song once had a completely different life as a failed synth-laden indie-pop song. But, this helps to reinforce some of the message and imagery of the song. Despite dark clouds overhead, we can find the strength to try again, at least one more time. Somewhere between the destruction of the six-piece indie band Tesia and Matt fronted and the formation of The Nautical Theme, the duo, along with long-time friend and musical collaborator, Justin Smith, dabbled in synth driven pop. Eventually, that project led Tesia and Matt back to the acoustic, harmony driven music The Nautical Theme has established as their own. The theme of the song is one of picking yourself back up again, finding that you have “one more left”. Matt proposed that, based on the strength of the melodies, the song could be reworked for Lows and Highs. As the album took shape, it became one of the duo’s favorites.

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Take Care of One Another

IMG_0245The Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation is adding a lot of stress and anxiety to our lives. If you or someone close to you are experiencing anxiety or mental health challenges and are feeling overwhelmed, please consider letting the people close to you know. Where appropriate, please seek support and information from professional physical, mental and emotional health professionals.

You can also seek resources on stress reduction that can help. If you need someone to talk to right away, text NAMI to 741741 to reach the National Alliance on Mental Illness text hotline. Or you can visit the NAMI website at nami.org for more information.

your-tuesday-afternoon-alternative-color copyAs our radio show promotes local music and local music venues, please consider reaching out to all of the venues you visit and see if it is possible to buy an eGift card or Voucher or Advanced Ticket or whatever they might offer by way of merchandise so that we can continue to show our support for those who support and bring great music and culture to our communities! Also consider buying albums and merchandise from the local musicians and bands who may be unable to play music during this time. Some may even offer online concerts where you can enjoy live performance. Please consider seeking out those online music experiences when you can do so.

101913299_3fcfbcfae2_oIt is important and appropriate to take care of yourself and others that you care about during this challenge. Be well everyone.

Video of The Day: The Nautical Theme – Break My Fall

Break My Fall is the first single from the sophomore full-length album from The Nautical Theme, Lows+Highs.

Learn more about The Nautical Theme at https://thenauticaltheme.com

Lyrics:
Well you came in like a child
Without the burdens of the world upon your mind
So I stayed for a while
To try and learn the stories held within your eyes
But I never understood enough
Even though they said so much
Phrases I just could not recognize
In a language that I’m sure so sweet
But strangely quite foreign to me
I never had a chance to ask you why
You said goodbye

Now I sit in this pile of the worries and the cares built over time
And I think back to your arrival with all the tethers of the world passing you by
But I never understood enough
Even though you said so much
Phrases I just could not recognize
In a language that I’m sure so sweet
But strangely quite foreign to me
I never had a chance to ask you why
You said goodbye

Wide, you break my fall with your arms open wide

Story Behind the Song:
Break My Fall was one of the first songs written for Lows and Highs. When we were thinking about how to present the song on the album we wanted it to fall into the “highs” side of the “Lows and Highs”, which meant filling out the arrangement. Fortunately our friend and great supporter of the band, Justin Crim was willing to work with us on providing the drums for the track.

The meaning behind the lyrics took a turn for me while we were still working to finalize the song. Originally, the idea behind the first line “well, you came in like a child without the burdens of the world upon your mind” was quite literal, thinking of my children and their innocence of perspective on the world around them. It was about me trying to learn how to see the circumstances of my life with a fresh perspective – to be more like them. Unfortunately, around the time we were writing this song, my grandmother passed away. My memories tend to be very visual in nature. One of the first times I sang those lyrics after she passed, I saw clearly in my mind’s eye one of her visits to a childhood home of mine when I was still very young. She was playing with me just as if she was a child of my own age – so fun, playful, and carefree. So, during the crescendo of the song, when we’re singing “wide, you break my fall with your arms open wide”, I’m thinking about the supportive and loving nature of my grandmother and in general the self-sacrifice of those that come before us who gladly catch us when we stumble and hold us up through our journeys.

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