Alt Pop

Interview with Michelle Joy of Cannons

 Michelle Joy of Cannons (April 11, 2022)

Interview by: Lee Ackerley

 

It's been a pretty wild run through pandemic. Your band seemed to go through a metamorphosis that transformed your life completely!

 

It's felt really crazy, yeah, because before the pandemic and everything, our biggest show was probably 200 people or something, and we also didn't have the hip fire for you yet. So it was a little crazy once everything started opening back up to be thrown into, Lollapalooza was our first show. So it's thousands of people. And then we've been on this crazy festival run. We played so many festivals. I can't even keep up with how many festivals we've played, and then first big opening tour and then headline tour. So we have been on this Cannon's mission that has been so exciting and so much fun, but a lot to take in, I think.

 

How do you prepare for your first headlining tour?

 

Yeah. So it's all been like a learning process because it's all super new to all of us. But we definitely did learn a lot on that opening floor and learn things that happened super helpful. Even just spending the time every single night to figure out what we like in our ears, because in ears are a new thing for me that I've had to get used to, which now I'm used to, I love it. I can perform a lot better since I've become comfortable with things like in ears, knowing how to schedule my day so I have like energy to do these. It's 75 minute, eight minute sets at 10:00 PM or whatever. It's been just been trying to get this routine going where I eat healthy on tour. I haven't been able to exercise much of this tour, but I feel like I'm exercising every single night. So I have my routine and we've got our awesome tour bus this time, which makes it a lot easier. Because before we were driving in a band and it was hard.

 

 I know that you were a runner in college and you've mentioned that's your first passion. Has that complimented what you're doing with Cannons in some way?. How is running part of your life now?

 

 So that's interesting you asked me that, because our last show, or was it two nights ago in Houston, brought me back to this whole, the part of myself that I've been separated from for a while, because growing up, my dad was a professional track coach and his dream was for me to be in the Olympics and he trained Olympians and one of them actually lived with us when I was in high school and I trained with him and he was kind of like my brother, but he's two gold medals, three bronze medals. So he came to his first concert ever, which was our show in Houston. He's never been to a concert.

 

And I haven't seen him in 10 years since my dad passed away. So it was such a really cool moment because I felt like for the first time I felt my dad was in the room since, yeah. He was kind of his dad too or whatever, but it's been really cool because tour has been able to bring all these different parts of myself from the past and stuff together just by visiting all these different cities. I've been able to meet people that I would've never been able to meet in my family or my past, but yeah, they're running. I was even talking to him about it and it's really helping me be able to do these sets and sing and dance and do this every single night almost.

 

You're very active on stage. It definitely seems like you’d need stamina to do that every night.

 

Yeah. Because I heard that people gain a bunch of weight on tour and just eat crappy food and all this stuff. But I feel like I keep getting more in shape because I'm dancing, I'm on this. I usually only want to eat salads and pretty healthy stuff because I don't want to feel sluggish. When I'm at the show it is like a race that I'm running. I want to do a good job and I want everyone to have a good time. So I keep my energy on point and pace myself with my day. And that's kind of something that I definitely learned to do, being an athlete because I also ran for in college for Florida state. And my whole childhood with everything was just like athletics.

 

At Florida state you have talked about like there's a club there that you'd see new bands and that kind of opened your world, you up. Was that college experience your first entry point into music?

 

Yeah. Kind of. So I'd say two entry points is in high school, my high school had their own radio station and I took radio for a class, even though it was a whole radio station that broadcasted in South Florida, we got to program the music and take home the CDs and everything so I could listen to whatever. And so that exposed me to a lot of music that I would've never been exposed to if I wasn't part of radio.

 

Yes. And then in college, Florida state had club down under and all the shows were free, and they were right next to my dorm area, and in the evenings, I just always go and sit in the back couch usually and just check out new bands. And it was really fun for me because it just, yeah, that just opened up my musical expanse or something. I just found a lot of cool bands that I would've never been exposed to before and we had a cool, a really awesome booking agent for that venue that is still my friend till this day and now she books a lot of bands in Los Angeles that are pretty neat and...

 

Yeah. So she had really good taste and it's close me down into lot of cool bands and is working with, I'm not sure what you would call, the genre.

 

What would you call Cannons genre of music?

 

I don't know.

 

Intimate dream pop lounge?

 

Yeah. I don't know.

 

Lounge disco?

 

We've gotten lots of different names for it.

 

I'm sure it's aggravating and some of them are just ridiculous.

 

Well the guys, I guess the guys don't like when they hear future boogie, at least, I don't know. Charles Ryan says that, yeah, he doesn't like the word boogie. I don't know. But people like to mix it in there.

 

Technology has been integral to Cannons journey; Craigslist brought you together, Soundcloud  validated your early tracks and Netflix broadcasted your music to a wide audience. But it sounds like it all unfolded organically?

 

Yeah. It's been an interesting journey too, because even the first couple songs I worked on with the guys, we never even met up, we just emailed back and forth and wrote music without meeting up, which is why working during the pandemic and when everything shut down, a lot of artists were worried about not being able to go to studios and not being able to meet up with all their songwriters or whatever. But it didn't phase us at all because we continued to do things. I mean, a lot of the time now, we meet up, we used to live in the same apartment complex for a while too. But at least during that time when nobody was seeing each other, we were still writing songs and songs that are on this album.

 

 

If Cannons did a side project featuring a different music genre, what could you see all three of you playing?

 

With all three of us? I don't know. There's so many different avenues that we all allow each other to explore, but it always comes back to sounding like Cannons, in some way. I don't know if that makes sense, for example, things like “Purple song”. I feel like that sounds nothing like the other songs on the album, but I'm like, my dad was from Trinidad and my uncle, he's the music director for the biggest steel drum orchestra in the world. So I was like, I need at least some kind Island bug, steel drum here. So then Paul's like, right, let me think about it. And then came up with that really awesome production for that.

 

And it works on the album. Yeah. I mean it blends right in. And you wrote fire for you out of a breakup is ruthless specifically landing on a person in your life or.

 

Well, not for me specifically. So with ruthless, I'm not sure how much you should tell you. I don't like when people that are close to me, my friends or family are not treated well by others. So that song came from someone close to me.

Starting a relationship with someone that was total, not a good person and me kind of being upset about it, them getting hurt and putting myself in their shoes and feeling like there was no other way to express that anger than just being like, fuck you. Because when you're off and you're dealing with people in those situations, that's just what you're saying. Yeah.

 

I know Harry Styles, had heard some of it, and you guys covered him on the latest covers album. Has anybody else reached out specifically that you found important or inspiring?

 

Tiesto reached out. He was a huge fan of Fire. So he ended up remixing that.  That wasn't like a label being like, we're going to go pay Tiesto a bunch of money to do this. He reached out, he was like, I want to remix this song.

Yeah. There's a lot of people that have reached out to us on Instagram and DM us.

Oh yeah. Cat Power. I love cat power. She loves Cannons. Then there's bands that like the guys listen to that I haven't really listened to too much of, but grew up listening to that have reached out. Who is the lead singer of AFI? Loves Cannons and have been DMing, I haven't listened to POD, but I remember Paul's been DMing with him and he came to our show.

   

Alt Pop

Time: 
20:30
Band name: 
Freddy Hall
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
http://facebook.com/iamfreddyhall
Venue name: 
Rockwood Music Hall
   

Old Joy "Feelin Far"

Old Joy has released a new single called "Feelin Far". This is the second single from the Alex Reindl from project to be released this year following up "Say When" which arrived back in March.

   

ISY's new single "Mean" takes bedroom pop to a Twitchy new dimension

“Mean” is the latest single by the singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer known as ISY who’s name is pronounced “I see” but in reality the song and the artist are neither “mean” meaning cruel-hearted (more like open-hearted) nor “mean” meaning average (more like “who farted?”) just don’t get it twisted because ISY ain’t your standard issue Manic Pixie Dream Girl either—more like a girl who happens to like Manic Panic and the Pixies not to mention Nirvana, Joni Mitchell, John Denver, The Weeknd, Biggie, TLC, and Flatbush Zombies (most of whom she plays on her acoustic guitar named “Joni”) and while that’s a pretty dreamy list of influences it’s clearly not in service of anyone’s incel fantasies cuz it's no accident ISY rhymes with “agency” and "self-sufficiency" (well, sort of!) and she’s perfectly happy hangin' on her own in rural New York in an aluminum trailer reading, drinking coffee, and chillin’ with her coterie of inanimate friends so do you see what I mean? (if not watch the video below!)

Quoting from the song’s lyrics, “Mean” is about “trying to get that grace / from the bad days” while admitting that “I’m just another stupid human…they used to laugh at me” and acknowledging that the “demons chasing you [are the] same ones after me” and asserting that “I know how it feels, but you don’t have to be mean” which all sits ambiguously between being a kiss-off and a gesture of empathy. Overall it’s a good message for Mental Health Awareness Month or for any month really—we should all be “free to be you and me” and have freedom of choice without fear of bullying. And what takes this message to the next level is the way ISY’s nimble voice rides and amplifies the fluctuating waves of emotion in the lyrics and the music, culminating with the refrain “you don’t have to be me” 

On the sonic side of things “Mean” likewise rides a series of musical waves over its 3:33 duration (3:33 is the same exact duration of ISY’s past five singles!) opening on a Garden of Eden soundscape with chirping birds and airy keyboard chords before shifting to a vibey stripped down first verse and then building to an EDM type “drop” followed by a thumping house beat with ISY laying down a warn pillow of vocal overdubs over the beat, the equivalent of little fluffy clouds floating by overhead, which is a recurring sonic motif of ISY’s music in general (you'll understand why when you listen) and then after building to another climax with the vocal lines crashing into one another the song ends back where it started with the peaceful Edenic soundscape and it's like escaping back to a perfect private world. 

And speaking of private worlds, the self-directed music video for “Mean” (co-edited by JD Urban, shot by Jesse Turnquist) depicts ISY hanging out in an Upstate Eden in the vicinity of where she was raised. And speaking of non-private worlds, the video contains a trail of Easter eggs that's sure to resonate with her online fans and followers in the form of various stuffed animals and doll parts and bewigged mannequins and assorted other items recognizable from her thrice-weekly Twitch stream that's something like Alice in Wonderland transplanted “through the looking app” to her New York City apartment decked out with all kinds of cool stuff for viewers to look at (my personal fave is the neon-hued, fluffy cotton clouds crafted by ISY herself, sorry Long Furbies!) a setting that's just as DIY magickal as her music.

But maybe I’d better back up in case and explain that this thing called "Twitch" which is a social media platform for live-streaming first designed for gamers but even before that it started as "justin.tv" with a guy "lifecasting" his existence 24/7 and now it’s come somewhat full circle with an ever-growing army of Twitchers who taken together cover the full panoply of life’s rich pageant with Twitch channels dedicated to everything from ASMR rubber-earlobe-licking-and-sucking streamers (don’t ask) to the many music-centric channels ranging from songwriting sessions and all-request streams to multi-tracking violinists and fast-fingered harpists to piano loungers and chilled-out Brazilian guitarists plus tons of live DJ’s of every shape and stripe broadcasting at all hours from all around the world.

And for me personally, the discovery of this new-to-me platform (with ISY being one of the first Twitchers I got hooked on) was a lifeline as I was then undergoing a serious case of live music withdrawal during Endless Lockdown 2020-21 and here was a platform that was great not only for streaming live music but that also gave a kind of "behind the scenes" peek into artists' creative processes, and their personalities, with a culture based around interactivity and community-building (the chat section is more than just an appendage with streamers responding to comments in real time, plus lots of cross-talk between viewers) and also audience-performer intimacy (the homebound setting of most streamers only encourages this) and also on the development of what I'll call “microfandoms," where it only takes a handful of followers to create an intensely-felt musical community (compare this to Tik-Tok with its emphasis on highly staged, semi-scripted videos and "challenges" which OK thank you very much but I'm challenged enough already!)

For her part, ISY first came across Twitch when she found out that one of her favorite musical artists, DJ/producer/emcee Erick the Architect of Flatbush Zombies fame, had a Twitch channel and was hosting a special birthday stream a couple years back. She logged on and before long was kicking back and cracking open a beer and talking back to the computer screen like she was there in person with Erick because it felt that relaxed and personal. And with having own channel on Twitch now for nearly as long, ISY says she’s never been so fulfilled as a musician, with friends/fans/followers showing their love through modest tips measured in “bits," and “custom emotes” earned from subscribing to her stream, but mostly through chat-section displays of encouragement and support (“your voice calms my bird down” being one of her faves) and the development of close-knit, long-distance friendships.

What's more, ISY also points out that as a female musician, this kind of online environment has been good for avoiding the kinds of predation and condescension that she’s more likely to experience IRL or on a more anonymous, unregulated platform (the presence of a trusted, hand-picked moderator on Twitch is helpful too, yo Adriaeeeeeen!) thus allowing her to develop a circle of smart, funny, and kind people (as ISY herself describes them!) who enjoy hanging out together and share her sense of loopy humor and undaunted honesty and eclectic musical tastes.

And OK just to be clear I'm not a paid shill for Twitch though I'm not making any promises going forward (Twitch: call me, maybe (!) and yeah Twitch is an affiliate of Amazon Inc. boooooo but I wouldn't mind getting that Bezos money!) and the focus is justified here as ISY says that “Mean” is a direct outgrowth of her online fam both in how the song was constructed (getting direct feedback from followers as she was writing, and being influenced by her fellow streamer pal LILYKAY to try out a house beat and the EDM drop) and also in terms of the song's subject matter, but suffice to say you can no doubt find and explore the virtual platform of your choice for touching from a distance. Because in "this modern world" we're always gotta be looking for new ways to reorient the very tools and technologies that will otherwise divide and even enslave us, using them instead to form human connections and to heal until the next upgrade comes along if you know what I mean. (Jason Lee)

   

Alt Pop

Time: 
08:00
Band name: 
Little Galaxies
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
https://www.facebook.com/LittleGalaxies
Venue name: 
The Venice West