11 Questions with… Kailynn West

101714517_10163801825875154_1076073664824213504_nThe seventh installment of 11 Questions… comes courtesy of Kailynn West of Tiny Stills. It is difficult to separate Tiny Stills from her vision!

In 2015, after an unexpected situation left an opening on a national tour with Anthony Raneri and John-Allison Weiss, guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Kailynn West stepped in at the literal last minute to finish the tour with her power-pop project Tiny Stills.

LA-based Tiny Stills have released some of the most engaging and catchy emotional indie power pop beginning with a series of terrific songs and albums including the excellent “Falling is like Flying” from 2014 and the independently released “Laughing Into the Void” in 2018!  Recently, the band has released a series of compelling and catchy singles!


104164797_1857630154373724_1517628563165917919_oTiny Stills arose from intense personal experience as a direct response to West’s experience being held up at gunpoint in 2011 and as a way to work through the inevitable social fallout that occurs so often after traumatic experiences.  Tiny Stills craft honest and intense songs with powerful guitars and inescapable melodies that pay homage to early ’90s and 2000s indie and pop-punk. At the end of the day, Tiny Stills and the music they make is an effort to remind you that even the worst days have a silver lining, that at the very least you are not alone in an overwhelming world.

a4066922409_10Dr. J: What can you share with us about when and how you started writing your latest released song, “Craigslist Bed“?

Kailynn West (KN): It started as inspiration after a most recent breakup. I had to move out of my apartment and start over. Specifically – I didn’t have a bed. The apartment I now live in (a garage, with a bathroom, literally.) came with a bed that the previous tenant left. I was otherwise going to look at craigslist beds because I didn’t have one at the time, but I ended up just keeping this one. It all worked out! But it was definitely the inspiration behind the song.

Dr. J: Tiny Stills evolved out of a personal experience for you, can you describe that experience and how it shaped the formation of the band?

KW: I was held up at gunpoint in about 8 years ago in Los Angeles. After that, I had a hard time relating to people and connecting. People couldn’t understand what I was going through, rightfully so, and I was dealing with coping with trauma and PTSD. I lost a lot of friends and my social circle during that time, and so I started writing music to try to work through some of the pain I was feeling trying to function. Tiny Stills was originally a solo project, that has morphed into a band. I’ve found that sharing
my story helps me connect with people, so I try to write honest songs.

Dr. J: “Craigslist Bed” is a meaningful song for all of us who deal with challenging relationship and the breakup of relationships; did you set out to address those concerns and challenges of when starting to work on that song?

KW: 100 percent yes. Particularly the bed, and do have a key ring with a million keys on it and I don’t really know which ones I need to keep at any given time.

a1000195355_10Dr. J: A previous song “Everything is Going Great” is a powerful song for the current moment we all find ourselves in today. Do you think that is a correct interpretation of some of the lyrics? Can they apply to the world today? Or would you say the focus should be more internal to the individual?

KW: I think songs are meant to be interpreted however feels best for the listener. For me, this song was about an internal battle of trying to pretend everything was OK, but I do think that’s a very universal experience, and definitely applies to today- mostly because the title of the song is sarcastic!

Dr. J:  How did “Everything is Going Great” come together musically for you?

KW: It came together pretty fast. I actually do a “song origin” on my patreon where I break down the different levels of demos- from the very first voice memo, with different lyrics and melody, to the demo we took into the studio, to the final version. It evolved pretty naturally, but it did start in a different place than where it ended up.

Dr. J:  Where do you often derive inspiration to make music?

KW: I have something I need to get off my chest.

a4048710410_10Dr. 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 the album “Laughing Into the Void” to the current single “Craigslist Bed“?

KW: I’ve gotten better at self editing. With “Laughing Into the Void” I wrote a song and it was done. Now I go back and I’ll rework the chorus multiple times until it says exactly what I want it to say, or until I can’t get it out of my head. “Craigslist Bed” originally had a completely different Chorus! I do a “song origin” breakdown of that one on Patreon too. I’ve just gotten more critical of my writing and where I want the song to land.

Dr. J: What is next for you musically? How would you describe your thoughts at this point for your next project after “Craigslist Bed“?

KW: We have new music coming out basically every month. Our next two singles are coming out August 7 and September 25th. They are two songs that were meant to be on the EP we were originally planning on releasing on our EP in April 2020! The second single is called “Resting in Pieces” and the third single doesn’t have a title yet!

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

KW: My favorite song to perform right now is “Small Talk” because it’s a straightforward fun pop/rock song and when the band comes in live, we feel huge.

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

KW: That just because you’ve failed at something, it doesn’t make you a failure.

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

a2642919434_10KW: I’m spending time working on myself. It’s leveled the playing field – No one can tour. We only have our songs now. I’m honing my craft and trying to elevate my work so it’s more than just noise. I think you have to practice being honest with yourself, and this is one of those difficult times when no one can really ‘look away’ we can only look at the problems we’ve created for ourselves as a society. I don’t like saying that we’re going to ‘get a lot of good art out of this (quarantine/the COVID crisis)’ because artists are under the same kind of pressure everyone else is, and our industry was collapsing years before COVID. Touring was one of the last ways musicians could make money. Artists can’t survive on streaming royalties- please directly support the artists that you like if you want them to continue making music. Between the death of album sales and now touring, we sure could use a break. I just want to survive this in more ways than one.

You can follow Kailynn West and Tiny Stills on various social media including:

Facebook     Twitter at @tinystills     Instagram at TinyStills     Links     Spotify    Bandcamp

YTAA MonsterWe want to extend our sincere gratitude to Kailynn for answering our questions and continuing to make some really excellent music! Click on the links throughout the article to visit Tiny Still’s Bandcamp page! Thanks again! If any musicians or artists would like to participate in future ’11 Questions’ columns, please feel free to email us at drjytaa@gmail.com. All photos care of Kailynn West.

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11 Questions with… Nick Leet

101714517_10163801825875154_1076073664824213504_nThis latest interview with songwriter, singer and guitarist Nick Leet of the Minneapolis band High on Stress is the fourth installment in our 11 questions column. High on Stress have recently released their incredible record ‘Hold Me In.’ As frequent readers of this ‘blog on our radio show know well, this record is a highlight of musicianship and uncompromising lyrical word play that draws accurate picture of real life.

Taking time to reflect on the creation of art and music is critically important in these challenging times.

As always we wish to thank the busy musicians and artists for taking the time to answer these questions for our readers/listeners on YTAA! We greatly appreciate the opportunity to learn about the process of creating music from those involved in songcraft.

Nick Leet
Photo by Paul Lundgren

Dr. J:  What can you share with us about when and how you started recording your latest record, “Hold Me In”?

Nick Leet (NL): High on Stress started in 2003 and ended in 2014. We released our final album (at the time), “Leaving MPLS” the same night as our final show at the Parkway Theatre in MPLS which happened to an unbelievably memorable show. I hold that one close to me. I drove home that night exhausted and proud but also excited to do something else. I played in a couple of bands for 4 years (Pasadena ’68 & Dakota Shakedown) but somehow we were lead back to High on Stress in 2018.

We re-released our debut album “Moonlight Girls” on vinyl and started to write and record the new record. I could feel there was something special happening with these songs. The band needed a break when we called it a day but we came back stronger and better than ever with this album. Super proud of it.

Dr. J:  The band has evolved over the years. How has the changes in the relationships between the band members affected the music? How have those relationships shaped your music?

NL: “Moonlight Girls” (2005) was recorded with a different line-up. Ben “Country” Baker was on guitar and Jon Tranberry was on bass. Jon left the band the year after it’s release and Ben Baker moved to China during the making of “Cop Light Parade”. Jim Soule joined on bass and brought some high powered backing vocals. Chad Wheeling joined the band and brought his rock guitar background with him. Ben’s style was very country based where Chad is allergic to acoustic guitars. The style has evolved to more of a power pop rock n’ roll band but we’ve never lost the Americana side of it. Mark Devaraj has always been trusty behind the drum kit. He also specializes in great ideas and suggestions.


Dr. J:  “Hold Me In” is a very different record than “Leaving MPLS”, how do these records compare? What influenced your work on each of them? I’m glad you noticed that.

NL: I’m a big fan of “Leaving MPLS” but it really is the sound of a band facing it’s ending. It was a difficult and stressful record to make. I think the difference really is found in the years between. We all went off to play with some different people. When we got back together it was fresh and exciting and we all had new perspectives. I truly felt like “Hold Me In” was going to be our best record from the moment we started. You could feel that positive energy throughout the process.

Nick at First Avenue 2010. Photo by Steven Cohen

Dr. J:  ‘Wish This Moment Gone’ seems to address loss or concerns with loss – is that a correct interpretation of some of the lyrics? In addition, if that is correct, did you intend to address a sense of loss or did the song evolve in that direction over time?

NL: “Wish This Moment Gone” addresses my feelings on the current state of the country and humanity. We have eroded into deeper resentment, division and outward racism. It’s my hope for better things in November.

Dr. J:  How did the song ‘Wish This Moment Gone’ come together musically for you? A friend commented that Trump was asking America to hold his beer. That comment inspired the song and it wrote itself very quickly. We were very fortunate to have our friend, Laurie Lindeen, from Zuzu’s Petals join us on backing vocals.

Dr. J:  Where do you often derive inspiration to make music? I’ve thought about this a bit over the years.

NL: Honestly it’s not something you plan. It’s something that keeps me grounded and helps rid myself of negative energy. It’s not a hobby and never will be. I don’t feel whole if I stay away from it for too long. I’m very thankful that I have it.


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
“Cop Light Parade” to “Leaving MPLS” to “Hold Me In”)?

NL: Power Pop Americana Rock n’ Roll. I’ve always kept one foot in the Replacements and Big Star and one foot in Wilco.

I love music. Whether it’s Babes in Toyland, Nirvana and Archers of Loaf or something like Son Volt or Billy Pilgrim. There is beauty in all kinds of music as long as it’s honest. It HAS to be honest.

Dr. J:  What is next for you musically? How would you describe your thoughts at this point for your next project after Hold Me In?

NL: Oh man. It’s tough to think about. I love “Hold Me In” so much that I just want to hang with it for as long as possible. I truly feel like it’s the record I’ve wanted to make since I picked up a guitar. There will be more High on Stress music in the future. We’ve been writing and recording a few things with Andrew Hyra. There could possibly be an EP or full length collaboration record with him down the line. Who knows, only the time machine will tell.

20108487_10155470533697145_3062558666245833092_nDr. J:  What is your favorite song to perform? What makes it a current favorite in your performances? Do you enjoy Live Streaming?

NL: Favorite song to perform…hmmm. I think that’s a two part answer. “Gold Star” and Eyeliner Blues” from “Moonlight Girls” are up there. I think right now it would probably be “Relax” from “Hold Me In”. I like the instant communication of live streaming. It doesn’t replace being in a sweaty room with drums behind you but it serves a purpose and really allows for more direct communication.

High On Stress Band Photo
photo by Paul Lundgren

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

NL: I hope they connect with it. I’m a lyric guy. The music I love the most sticks with me and I find new meaning to the lyrics all the time. That is always my hope. I want to do the same for other people. I also hope it inspires them to rise up and think about others.

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

NL: It’s tough. There’s nothing I want more than to get in a loud room with the guys. I don’t think I’m adapting. I think I’m managing but it isn’t easy. I miss it.

Thanks again to Nick 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.  All pictures and images of High on Stress courtesy of the band and photographer Paul Lundgren and Steven Cohen.

High on Stress on Facebook     High on Stress on Twitter    High on Stress Website

High on Stress on Instagram

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Mittenfields vs. The Mittenfields: New Music that will Rock Your World

Every time Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative arrives – we work to bring you exciting new indie music. And this week is no exception. In fact, we have some tunes we are very excited to share with you!  On Tuesday, March 17th we have something a little extra special for you music lover!

the MittenfieldsMittenfields have new music coming our way and we have the radio premier of several songs from them this week. You can expect a discussion with the band, new songs, and important announcements that simply should not be missed. We will be talking with them about the new record, the new songs, and much more!

As we always promise – you can also expect new indie music on the program for your listening pleasure as well. We have some terrific stuff from the Tyler Cochran Trio, Dear Fawn and so many more musical pastries to share.

So come on over.  We love company and conversation about really interesting indie music.  It will just be you, us, and Mittenfields on this wild radio ride from 3-6pm on WUDR! Tune in via the interwebs at wudr.udayton.edu or if you live in the Gem City you can listen at 99.5 and 98.1fm.  Either way listen in — we have heard the new stuff from Mittenfields – you will not be disappointed! Popthrillz---Alternative

Andy Smith Takes Over YTAA This Tuesday!

Dayton’s one and only – Andy Smith is joining Dr. J and Mrs. Dr. J to play whatever he wants! We will be talking about all of the different music projects that Andy has been involved in and especially his newest effort, Me Time!

Me Time

Andy describes Me Time as

So, free some ‘Me Time’ for yourself this Tuesday from 3-6pm on WUDR!


A Dayton Community Event

Dayton-Ohio_smallThis coming Tuesday — October 29, 2013 at 7:00 – 8:30PM Dr. J will host a discussion on Dayton music!

Join us as we celebrate Dayton music and the Dayton Community!  The event will be held at the University of Dayton’s Science Center Auditorium.

Everything you wanted to know about Dayton Music but were afraid to ask!

Speakers include:

M. Ross Perkins, Goodbye
Tifani Tanaka, Dear Fawn
Burris Dixon, Me & Mountains
Andy Ingram, Kris N.
Tom Gilliam, The Rebel Set
Liz Rasmussen, Good English
Tod Weidner, Motel Beds, Shrug