Following on from our review of The Tano Jones Revelry’s new festive single, ‘Little Drummer Boy‘, Lisa sent some questions to Tano Jones himself, and asked him about his music, his ideal Christmas, and what question he’d most like to be asked.
We’re loving your festive single, ‘Little Drummer Boy’. It’s a great take on a classic, especially for many of us who grew up with the Bing Crosby/David Bowie version, or the song sung at school nativity plays. You’ve given it a really retro vibe that’s so catchy it stays in the mind for hours after. The original verse is really cool too – did it take long to come up with the arrangement, and the new lyrics?
Thank you for those kind words.
The creation of the arrangements, cutting of the tracks and execution of the vocals happened quickly. The arrangements were a product of initially deciding the instrumentation that was desired for the new approach. I was looking for an approach that had a much more soulful sensibility and utilized instruments that would engage the listener in a different way. Also I was interested in bending melodies and creating riffs that created inflection points. I believe the little drummer boy must have had courage to play in that situation before all of those adults and subsequently the dynamic range of the song needed to match some of that bravado. Lyrically I think of the ad libs as an extension of the story and an added touch of musical mirth.
I grew up in Australia, where Christmas was weirdly and very inappropriately the traditional English Christmas dinner; because of the extreme heat, nobody wants to eat, and we all fall asleep in the afternoon – thankfully it changed a bit but there was still the heavy meal. I imagine that in LA the heat is pretty much the same in December – what’s your perfect Christmas like? What sorts of foods do you eat and how do you make it festive?
Well interestingly I was born in the Detroit in the US midwest, which boasts very cold winters with lots of snow. So I actually grew up with the big dinners amidst the wintry settings. Seems that turkey breast and the inevitable apple salad are two items seared into my gastronomical memory which beckons yearly like birds returning home. I have lived in different climes across America including a five year stay in Los Angeles some years back. For me the perfect Christmas is about being together with those you love. Even the inevitable chaos that can come with lumping a large group to sleep in a smaller improvised space/home/apartment for me provides a sort of organic reconnection that is nutty, yet very cool. Our video is a celebration of coming together and presenting ones gifts. I think this psychology which goes hand in hand with the selfless spirit of serving applies to any locale. My time in Los Angeles left a mark on me in that I never forgot the enthusiasm of the area nor the mystic beauty of that intersection of sand and sea—especially at dusk.
Back to the Little Drummer Boy – if you were present at the birth of Jesus, what would be your ideal gift to bring, and why?
A six string, for sure.
So many wonderful words and deeds. So many people years later writing songs.
But what if he had sat down and crafted some melodies over rhythms with unique harmonies? What would that have sounded like?
I can only imagine.
Who do you consider to be your greatest musical inspirations and why? And similarly, how do you inspire others, and what advice can you give to others about what to expect in their musical journey? What have been your most influential experiences? If you could do it all over again, what, if anything, would you change or do differently, and why?
What’s the song-writing process like for you? Are there any particular instruments you favour?
How have you been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, both personally and professionally? Are there any changes – life or career-wise – you’ve made that you think you’ll take with you into post-pandemic life?
Authenticity and Courage.
For me I have learned over time that I have to be honest and do what feels right to me. I have to be true to what I want to do and what I want to say. This took me a while to realize. So many people in various disciplines of life hold back on their true desire to create what they feel is correct for them. I was blessed with an entrepreneurial father who told me to “Trust Your Instincts”. It took me a long time to really understand what he meant by that. He passed some years back but those words continue to be a priceless gift me.
In order for one to have the guts to trust your instincts and be authentic — one must have courage. As musicians we are underdogs. As time rolls on we get used to putting ourselves out there artistically— but the listener or fan may forget that for the musician at some point it all first required a unique type of courage.
In terms of creating music, I put great stock in.…the blank sheet of paper and a pencil. It is the great equalizer. The blank canvas where there are no bounds and nobody influencing me in anyway… Just my thoughts and what lies before me. I tell younger people I mentor about the “power of the blank sheet of paper and a pencil.” What I mean by this is the power of the idea. There are no fancy machines sitting before you to help you, or influence you to create a song—-only a blank sheet of paper, a pencil and your mind.
I also must say that I love the dictionary. I really love the printed dog-eared dictionary. Words and Meaning. It is all in there. We connect as humans via words and language. The more ways we have to communicate, the deeper our understanding of each other— the stronger our bonds and communities.
Like all of us, I have had my share of life’s challenges. These certainly have effected me in different ways. I feel if we all muster the fortitude to survive in todays crazy world ultimately we will be gifted with enriched new perspectives, that we can share with others. This takes courage and of course, demands authenticity. Taped on my closet door is this note by Charles Swindoll:
“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it”
Some things in life are inevitable. For a while, that inevitably was a new Shrek movie with an updated pop cover like “I’m a Believer” from Smash Mouth. These days it’s a new Despicable Me movie, this time in the form of spinoff Minions The Rise of Gru. And just as we all predicted, the new Steve Carrell led film comes stacked with a loaded soundtrack headlined by St. Vincent.
For her contribution to the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack, St. Vincent covered “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc. Her version was produced by Jack Antonoff and continues a run of luck for the musician that earlier this year saw her win a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.
Antonoff also gave St. Vincent a shout-out for her album Daddy’s Home when he won Producer of the Year at the Grammys.
Announcing the release of her funky cover, St. Vincent took to Twitter and wrote, “Excited to say the @Minions (including @jackantonoff) and I have just released our version of ‘Funkytown’ from #TheRiseofGru soundtrack. Shout out to Gru and them…” Included with the post was a graphic of St. Vincent as a minion.
Joining St. Vincent on the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack are Tame Impala, Kali Uchis, Brittany Howard, Thundercat, Caroline Polachek, Diana Ross, and Weyes Blood, just to name a few.
The album will be released on July 1, coinciding with the film’s theatrical release. You can listen to St. Vincent’s cover of Lipps Inc. “Funkytown” below!
Back in October of 2021, Parmalee released ‘Take My Name’ as the second single from their third studio album. It was written with and produced by David Fanning, producer of the massive hit ‘Carolina’ that introduced me to the band back in 2008, Ashley Gorley and Ben Johnson. Robyn Collins of ‘Taste of Country’ described the song as “a musical marriage proposal” and lead singer of the band, Matt Thomas, says it was inspired by the marriage of brother Scott; he says “it made me think about what I would want to say to my future wife.”
Some songs almost become bigger than themselves when they tap into the lives and moods of everyone and this is very much one of those songs. It’s not difficult to see why this song has been adopted by fans all over the world irrespective of their taste in music; its words conjure all the romance and love that you’d hope to feel when you ask someone to marry you. It’s lyrically a shopping list of everything you feel at the moment you realise you’ve met the one, even if that’s after only a short time. I remember proposing to my wife after just 8 weeks and if I try to remember what I was feeling at the point I proposed and tried to put it into words I would hope it was very similar to this song. Now over 31 years later and still happily married I listen to this song and it brings all those feelings back in a rush so why wouldn’t it be the perfect song to overlay a proposal, sing at the wedding or just be part of the moment; it’s how I’d love my sons to feel when they propose to their partners.
Parmalee are very aware of their fans needs and were quick to record a wedding version for such occasions with a less catchy percussion and a softer piano focussed vibe than the original version. There have even been brilliant occasions where the band has turned up to “crash” a wedding and sing this song to the happy couple reminiscent of Maroon 5 and their song ‘Sugar’. None of those guests will forget that wedding in a hurry!
With all the interest in the song and the brilliant videos and messages the band have received, they felt the time was right to make their own narrative video to accompany the song as an addition to the previously released visualizer. The ‘Wedding Version’ video of the romantic song was filmed in Gallatin, TN and directed by Shane Drake. The heart-warming story follows the journey of the protagonist through middle school and all the way to adulthood featuring kids from a local school, an original 1968 Mustang Shelby GT350 and appearances from the band with the lead being played by frontman Matt Thomas.
“From the jump, the fans have really latched onto this song in such an amazing, life changing way- our fans have been the reason for so many of our own major milestones, so it means that much more to us that folks are using our song for their proposals and weddings and allowing us to be a part of those major moments in their lives. We wanted to pay tribute to the fans who have been on this journey with us since the beginning so in the music video you’ll see a story of love and loyalty unfold across the years-but don’t expect to see any weddings or proposals – the fan created videos far exceed anything we could depict. We love watching them.”
With over 135 million global on demand streams, the song has raced up the Country charts, outpacing the band’s previous single, the multinational Number 1 smash ‘Just The Way’ with Blanco Brown and has been popping up all over TikTok with creators playing the song over proposal and wedding videos and even sparking a trend of using the sound of the song and writing “if your man doesn’t make you feel this way then what are you doing?” over the video.
Coming from their recently released album ‘For You’, an album that has garnered critical acclaim with American Songwriter calling it “authentically real, genuinely inspired” and Billboard saying that “Parmalee find itself in the enviable position of being able to tap into multiple audiences”. What is very clear is that Country music is slowly starting to find a new, younger audience in the UK to stand alongside the existing fans of the genre. Zack Bryan has recently found himself high on the Spotify album charts and UK stars like Ed Sheeran have appeared alongside Country stars like Luke Combs at the Country2Country festival. Even Tom Odell has found himself headlining the British Country Music Festival in the Summer. Parmalee may be the band to really break down the barriers between Country music and the UK Charts with this song as the musical genre of this release is far less important than the honesty and emotion of the lyrics and Romance will always break down all of the barriers, or at least I would hope it would.
‘For You’ is out now and can be streamed and downloaded here. Find out more about Parmalee and their music online on their official website.
This Copenhagen DIY pop artist has managed the difficult task of mixing her soulful voice with vibrant dreamy production and lyrics with real streetwise attitude. The result is something that has given her the hit single ‘Obvious’ which Danish radio loved and the internationally acclaimed single ‘Back to Business’. Now she is releasing the excellent lead single ‘Summer’s Already Gone’ which sounds very modern Bond in its lo fi production but tells an unusual love story. Not a story about falling in love with a person, but about the love affair that always ends; the affair with Summer.
“I wanted to write a song that could represent both the fearlessness of the magical Summer days and the truly blue sadness of the re occuring love story it actually is when Summer eventually comes to an end. I know it’s a heartbreaking, melancholy feeling but it’s also everything I love about Summer.”
The song was written in Mercedess’ living room with Danish indie superstar Goss and the guitarist Søren Breum and is produced by the critically acclaimed artist Vera. It allows the velvet of the artist’s voice to tumble over the muted trumpets, break beats and flirty acoustic guitars and strings bringing to life the seasonal heartbreak.
The fact that it is about the love and anticipation felt for Summer is almost more poignant this year as we embark upon the first free Summer for a few years. The affair with Summer this year promises to be a torrid passionate affair as we’ve been apart so long but the heartbreak of its end will be felt more keenly. This song will be the soundtrack to the affair for sure.
The single is released on the same day as the debut album from this exciting new talent. Mercedess says of the album: “Casa Fantasia is an album about longing for closeness and honesty. These songs are an escape from reality-a place to feel free and be yourself. Writing it was a personal journey and process to me that hopefully will make space for creativity, art and emotions for others too”
The album promises to do just that with the artist’s melancholy and yet warm and dreamy vocals and marks an exciting new chapter for an artist destined to find international acclaim with this collection of music. Summer may come and go but I’m sure the appeal of Mercedess will be perennial.