Thursday, June 26, 2008

Band Spotlight: The Golden Sounds

Listening to The Golden Sounds makes you feel like you're on a magic carpet ride. Todd Evans' voice is calm yet moving, gently urging you on a contemplative musical journey. Along the road you'll encounter good doses of intriguing lyrics, gorgeous melodies and nicely placed cello accompaniments. If you only listen to one song, make sure it's "Whistles and Windchimes" because it's extremely impressive and the melody will linger with you throughout the day.

Todd was kind enough to share some insights with Think Virtue! about the inspiration behind his music, some of his favorite bands and his aspiration to compose some original material for films.

1. How do you strive for creativity and originality in your music?

That question is one I ask myself, and maybe that is what pushes me through. There's not a formula except for striving to get the feeling out of the music that I had in my head. Usually I know that I have accomplished that when the song or music gives me feelings I even didn't intend. It has a life of its own.

2. When did you start wearing lights for your performances? And what do they symbolize?

I pretty much wear them every time I play. First, it takes me out of my element, and second I think it takes the audience out of their element for a brief moment so they can hear the songs differently. Regardless of what the song is about, I want the music to bring some sort of light into people's eyes. So hey, if the music doesn't do it...maybe the coat of lights will.

3. Could you talk about the inspiration behind "Whistles and Windchimes"? And why was it so important for you to share this song with the world?

This is the first time I have ever officially answered this question, because the song itself does have a life of its own and does tend to grow into the mood of whatever the listener is at the moment. Originally, this was a very sarcastic song. After 9-11 our government started releasing all of those yellow and orange alerts to help us know if we were safe or not. I honestly couldn't believe that we all were falling for that false sense of security. If anything, it made you more anxious. We looked at the screen and listened to the radio and were like, "uh oh, orange alert...oh, wait...yellow...that's good." It was just a bunch of "whistles and windchimes" going off trying to make sure we calm our fears in the midst of the same threats we have always had. So like I said, very sarcastic. There are images in the song of bombs and missiles going off while we are nicely in bed almost singing us to sleep cause we are ignoring the threat because we "feel" safe. We blissfully watch everything go up in flames...cause hey..."it's all happy now with whistles and windchimes."

While that is the main inspiration, it also does touch on a lot of relationship issues and looking back at warning signs and realizing we should have listened to them. And it can be a very uplifting song, cause there is a part of us that has our own "Whistles and Windchimes"...not warnings...but beautiful sounds that pull us through difficult times. So a combination of a lot of things. Wow...that was a long answer. Sorry.

4. What music do you listen to when you're in an introspective mood?

The Golden Sounds! The Golden Sounds!...all right not really. I don't like listening to my voice that much. So I have a lot of stuff I listen to in those moments like...Neutral Milk Hotel, James, Sigur Ros, London Suede, Iron and Wine, The Violet Burning, Aphex Twin, Autechre...uh...well I could keep on with the list...but let's just say a little of everything.

5. What do you hope fans get from listening to The Golden Sounds?

My hope is that people find hope. Not every song is hopeful in its content, but it relates to painful moments and happy moments. I think having music that matches things that goes on in your life brings hope. It will let you cry with it or let you feel good with it. But the point is that no one is alone.

6. Would you be interested in scoring soundtracks for some independent films?

Absolutely. Some of The Golden Sounds songs are being looked at for some TV shows but I would love to write specifically for something...that would be very interesting.

7. Anything else that you'd like to add?

I would like to add 4+4 because it equals 8...and I like the number 8.
I like 7 too...but 4+4 does not equal 7.


For more information on The Golden Sounds you can visit their MySpace page at or

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Our Deepest Needs

Love. Appreciation. Connection.

At our core, we're very much the same. We need to love and be loved. We need to be appreciated and appreciate others. We need to make deep connections with people and we need to connect with a purpose that ignites our passion.

The best stories touch on these aspects. Romeo & Juliet, Titanic, Forrest Gump and The Lord of the Rings are few examples. And the heartbeat of humanity will keep producing stories with these truths.

Everything we need can be found in God's embrace. Love, appreciation and connection are important to God because they are important to us. He knows us at our essence. He's familiar with every thought and every emotion. God knows what we need the most and we have to remind ourselves of that.

Material goods can make us happy for a while but eternal goods keep us happy forever.

[picture by Nathan Colquhoun]

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Superchic[k] - Rock What You Got

Superchic[k] is my favorite band. It has something to do with their amazing lyrics, upbeat feel and the creative genius of Max Hsu. Their music connects with my soul, plain and simple. And there's nothing more powerful than that.

You can check out my review of their latest album Rock What You Got at The Christian Manifesto.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mexico's Emos vs. Punks

Some people really hate emos.

I first learned about this issue when I was reading an article in Spin magazine. It's sad to think that people are fighting over looks but as I started doing some online research it became apparent that there's more to it than clothes. The anti-emo campaign seems to have an undertone of anti-homosexuals, which makes sense because Mexico is more conservative in that regards. Machismo is a big thing for the males. Punks and goths have a tougher persona and they dislike the fact that emos are stealing parts of their culture and cheapening it. And that's explaining the issue with a broad stroke.

They call them emosexuals and in March a massive number of punks used some social networking sites to campaign real-life attacks on emos. Things got so messy that the police had to get involved.

I don't condone the homosexual lifestyle but hate crimes are never okay. And just because guys wear skinny jeans that doesn't automatically make them gay or bisexual. It's the person behind the image that really counts. As the old saying goes, "Looks can be deceiving." Prejudice only gets you in trouble.

I only found one Christian perspective on the emos vs. punks issue but there should be some more. It's actually much-needed. Christians who rock the emo and punk style can reach out to those hurting from whatever side they may be on. Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers, so here's an opportunity for the Church to make a positive difference in the lives of some teens.

And on a lighter note, check out Stuff Christians Like post #244 on Making God Emo.

What are your thoughts on all this?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Music Spotlight: Eowyn

Eowyn is a fiercely independent music artist. While other singers are more concerned with becoming "the next big thing" Eowyn's focus seems to be on making honest music that connects with her fans. Her latest album Silent Screams aspires to be an anthem for the brokenhearted with its emotionally charged lyrics and brazen vibe.

I was able to ask a few questions to the rocker who exudes a laid-back confidence and a bit of mystique.

1. How would you explain your style?

Well, musically I like to describe it as industrial rock. Industrial in the fact that there is a lot of unusual sounds, but rock because of the heavy electric riffs. As far as personally, I don't really know how to describe my style. I went to school for fashion and actually have a degree in it, so I love trying new things. I've been described as Goth because I like black hair and wear a lot of eyeliner, but that's not how I would describe myself.

2. Image is very important in our society and you have the rock star look covered. Do you ever find it challenging when people first meet you and they bring their preconceived notions of what you're supposed to be/act like?

It can be challenging at times. I think a lot of times people have a preconceived notion of what a Christian should look like, and it doesn't always include a nose ring and heavy eyeliner. My guys [band] have tattoos as well, so they also get a lot of looks. I dress and look the way I do because it's what makes me feel good about myself, it's just my personal style and I believe that when people really get to know me they'll see my love for God, not just the way I look.

3. What kind of responses do you get from fans about your music?
Since the album's release in April, there has been a great response. People seem to be having a lot of great things to say about the album, which I am so excited about. I personally am very happy with this album because it reflects everything I had prayed that it would.

4. Do you think that Christian radio is doing a good job of exposing their audiences to a diverse array of musical genres? If not, what would you like to see happen in the industry?

I am so thankful for Christian radio stations, especially my genre, Christian rock. To be honest, I wouldn't be where I am without them! I think there should be more of these stations because I believe there is a huge audience out there waiting to get the chance to hear Christian rock! My other thought is that I have noticed that there are a few stations that never play independents, and that is sad to me, because some bands/artists choose to stay independent. I think with the industry changing so drastically and independents being able to capture as many fans as the labels, and make high quality albums themselves, more stations should give independents a chance.

5. Your MySpace page says you have "a theatrical stage presence." Could you talk about your approach to performing?

I love approaching my concert as if it were a theatrical show or play. When I sing, I try to convey the passion in my lyrics through the way I move and facial expressions. I have been told over and over that people can really feel the emotion behind my songs as I sing. I wouldn't want it any other way.

6. What was it like working with producer Travis Wyrick (P.O.D., Pillar, Disciple) on "Silent Screams"?

He's amazing in both talent and personality. He had me laughing one minute and crying the next. He truly brought things out in me that I didn't even know was there. I left his studio with a new confidence in myself as a singer. I'll definitely try to use him again for my next album.

7. You've already collaborated with Rob Beckley of Pillar, who else would you like to hit the studios with?

I would love to work with Lacey from Flyleaf. I think it would be awesome to have two rock girls in a song. So many times you do collaborations with a girl and a guy singer and I think it would be unique to have two girls.

8. I read in another interview that you grew up listening to rap. Any chance of you rapping on your next album?, definitely not! I still like rap at times, but I personally, cannot rap.

9. You're still an independent artist, what would a record label have to offer in order to allure you to sign with them?

I have chosen to stay independent thus far because that is what God has led me to do, label offers have come, but as of now, it is not where I feel God is leading me. I have had three offers thus far, and with each my husband and I go to God, pray about what we should do, then do it, and wait for the outcome. On my current album, I had several investors step forward to help, so I would really want those investors paid off, before I moved forward with a label.

10. What advice would you give young women trying to start their own rock band?

Do what God tells them to do, when He tells them to do it. This industry has certain standards and timelines that are typically followed, but God doesn't work on anyone's timeline. Also, be confident in who God has made them to be.

11. Anything else you'd like to add?

If anyone reading this needs any prayer, they can write me on my MySpace site at


Here's to hoping that she and Lacey get together and do a song together. That would be wicked sweet!

[photo credit Yeshua Designs for HM]

Monday, June 2, 2008

Band Spotlight: Immanu el

If sunsets had soundtracks they would sound a lot like Immanu el. Their dramatic guitar melodies and piercing vocals fill you with a rush of emotions as they awaken something deeply spiritual in you and wrap you in a musical journey of the human condition.

Immanu el is a Swedish post-rock band with a growing fan base spanning from Europe to Asia and now the United States. Their debut album They'll Come, They Come was released on And The Sound Records (Sweden) and Thomason Sounds (Japan). Fans of mainstream acts like Explosions in the Sky and Sigur Ros will enjoy Immanu el's arrival to the music scene. With stand out tracks like "Astral Days", "Under Your Wings I'll Hide" and "In Valleys" Immanu el proves that they have something special to bring to the world of independent music. But how can they not? With a name like Immanu el, which means "with us is God" in Hebrew you can definitely feel a Heavenly power in their sound. But don't try to box them into a cookie-cutter label of what a "post-rock" band should be. Their music and artistry speaks for itself.

The lead singer, Claes Strängberg, was generous enough to answer a few of my questions about the band and his take on the post-rock music scene.

1. How do you go about creating new songs? What's your process like?

Basically I compose the songs at home or in the studio and we'll take that finished idea and arrange it together when we rehearse. My brother wrote a couple of the songs as well... i guess we're not the band that sits down for hours and jam to find something, we work better out of finished ideas someone created at home. When we come to the point where the arrangements feel good we start to work with the lyrics and the vocals.

2. What are some interesting things you've learned from touring all over the world?

Well this far we've only made one European tour (even though we have two more scheduled and a further one being planned). Of course you learn a lot about how the music industry works and how to handle issues related to that while being on the road. I also think the most interesting part is that you learn about how you and your bandmates work together under pressure and how to handle social issues as well. Its very important that you work well together as a group.

We also got to learn many different kinds of cheese and beer, haha.

3. What epitomizes a great live performance? And what’s your approach to performing on stage?

I think that you need to stay true and believe in what you do, when you're being honest to your music there is so much easier and natural to feel some kind of a connection with your audience. If you radiate that kind of simple honesty then I think you're halfway there.

4. What do you think about the state of post-rock music?

I must say that I'm a little bit fed up with post-rock sometimes, even though I still listen a lot to it. Some post-rock bands make music I simply can't live without but at the same time there are a lot of bands iIdont really like because I can't feel that special tension in the music. I like the ideas of mixing the original sound and effects of post-rock with a more direct and energetic sound.

5. Have you noticed a difference in how your music is embraced between Europe, Japan and the USA?

Not really, its basically the same and I'm kind of happy with that. Somehow the music of ours reflects the same thoughts and feelings wherever we go and for that I'm very grateful. I just hope we get the chance to actually go to the US and Asia for touring as well, then I would definitely know more about it.

6. What core beliefs have you promised your bandmates that you would stay true to?

I would say there aren't any promises like would in that case be to always make the music we really feel like doing and not being that dependent on what people think about it.

7. What's the biggest goal you want the band to accomplish by next year?

That must be to finish the new material for the next record and to get to the point when you feel very good about it. We already made a couple of new songs and got more ideas coming up.

8. Lastly, anything else you'd like to share?

Well, we just posted our tour dates for summer/fall at MySpace. If you or somebody else are interested in experiencing us live you should go and take a look!

9. One last question, are you guys Christian?

I am, some of us are but I couldn't speak for everyone. We're not a Christian band (if there are any such thing), more like a band with a couple of Christians in it.