HANNAH & MAGGIE CHAT ‘OH NO’, TOURING AND FUTURE PLANS 9

There’s a general belief that best friends can and often do everything together – it certainly holds truth for Hannah & Maggie, two best friends who came together over their shared love of music which has since grown into a blossoming career in the industry. Their new album, Oh No, released on May 19th, inspired by the world around them as well as personal experiences, is their strongest release to date, which showcases their development and growth both as artists and individuals. As they prepare to share the album with the world, the pair kindly chatted with Thisisthelatest and told us all about their musical backgrounds, first concerts and their advice for aspiring artists.

TITL: Firstly, for those who might be unfamiliar with you and your music, please introduce yourselves.

Hannah & Maggie: We’ve been best friends for nearly seven years, traveling the Northeast – and occasionally beyond – to play folk-pop music. Hannah lives in Astoria, Queens, and Maggie is in Western MA, working on her graduate degree.

TITL: How did you meet/come together?

H&M: We met singing a cappella at Smith college. A friend in the group suggested that we play sometime, as we’re both guitarists. Once we started, we never stopped.

TITL: When did you first know that you wanted to make music a career? Were there any particular artists that inspired you?

H&M: We have such a good time, it was immediately apparent to both of us that we wanted to continue to play together. There wasn’t one moment specifically that we can point to and say “that’s when we decided to make a go of it.” You might even argue, given our continued efforts in other fields (Maggie is in grad school and Hannah is working on publishing a novel), that we’ve yet to commit fully to a music career. Our goal is to keep music in our lives in whatever way is most tenable. Sometimes that means scheduling gigs and going on the road. Others, it simply means making time for our musical friendship.

TITL: What did your parents make of your career plans and are they supportive of what you do?

H&M: We’ve been blessed with incredibly supportive parents. It was our mothers who fronted us the money so we could go into the studio for the first time. Our parents have showed up to gigs near and far, hosted house concerts, and found us friends to stay with on the road. It’s hard to imagine if we’d ever have come this far without their support.

TITL: Can you recall the first albums you bought or concerts you attended? What impact did they have?

H: My earliest musical memories actually took place in the theater. My dad is an actor and, growing up, I loved getting the chance to hang out back stage. I have such vivid memories of being surrounded by artists and creative types as a kid. I think that context allowed me to imagine myself in the arts and made the idea of a music career less radical.

M: One of the first concerts I ever saw was Saves The Day at Roseland Ballroom in New York City. I was thirteen and couldn’t see over the shoulders of all of the people standing on the floor so my mom – who generously chaperoned the show – talked the bouncer into letting us upstairs to watch from the balcony. It was unbelievable. I identified so much with the things they were singing about and the way they constructed their songs. It was emotional and poignant but also up-tempo and fun. Their album Stay What You Are is still one of my favorite albums of all time.

TITL: Tell me a little about your upcoming album Oh No.

H&M: This album came together over an extremely difficult period in our personal lives, during which we both went through serious break-ups with long term partners. Even though most of the songs were written before our respective heartbreaks, they’ve taken on such new meaning for us in light of the whole process of moving forward.

TITL: The album was crowd-funded. How was it to see your fans get behind the project like they did?

H&M: We were frankly shocked at the support for our crowdfunding efforts. Our fans never cease to amaze. We have been so lucky to have encountered such generous, thoughtful, and supportive people since we started playing together. We can’t wait to share this with everyone on May 19!

TITL: Could you each pick your favourite track from the collection and if so, which is it and why?

H: My personal favorite is a track Maggie wrote called “North We Go.” I honestly can’t put my finger on why I love it so much. I just think it’s beautiful.

M: The album starts with a very short song called “Overture”. We decided we would comb through the whole album in search of little melodies and refrains and arrange them to replicate the overture at the beginning of a musical. So much of this music ended up foreshadowing some personal life events for us and I think “Overture” sort of foreshadows the experience of hearing the album from start to finish.

TITL: How does this album differ from your previous releases? How do you think you’ve matured and evolved with each record you’ve put out?

H&M: In the past, fans have come up to us and said that our music helped them through a difficult times. Which, of course, is so gratifying as an artist, to feel that your music has made a difference in people’s lives. What’s funny about Oh No is that, oddly, the music has helped us in that same way. As we started to record these songs, it was therapeutic to see how the lyrics took on new meaning and relevance. It was almost like our past selves had written the songs that would later help us navigate the momentous changes in our lives.

TITL: Who or what most inspires your song-writing?

H&M: Everything! Other songwriters, the weather, relationships, trees, you name it.

TITL: In your opinions, which two songs (or one, if you agree) would you say are the greatest ever written and why?

H: Just one?! I’m going with either “Tonight” from West Side Story or “No One is Alone” from Into the Woods. Obviously I love Sondheim. I might even go as far to say he’s the best songwriter of our time. But honestly, ask me another day and you’d get a different answer.

M: I honestly believe the world would be a different place if Joni Mitchell hadn’t written “A Case Of You”. I have returned to that song a number of times in my life when I needed to be reminded that just because something is over doesn’t mean it didn’t matter.

TITL: Will you be touring in support of the album and are there plans for you to head over to the UK/Europe?

H&M: Yes! We’ll be traveling around the Northeast US. No plans at the moment to cross the pond, but never say never.

TITL: You’ve undertaken several national tours in the US so far, but of all the shows you’ve played, do you have any favourites?

H&M: We once showed up in the small town of Amarillo Texas. Frankly, we were expecting a terrible gig. The main street was dusty and quiet when we arrived in the late afternoon. The cafe where we played was completely empty as we set-up. Then, miraculously, one-by-one people started trickling in. By the time we started playing, a diverse group of lovable queers and weirdos had packed the place. We were blown away and had such a good time. Something similar happened at a dive bar on the outskirts of Asheville NC, where a fan decided to host her birthday party at the venue during the show. So many people showed up to cheer us on, we couldn’t believe it.

TITL: Which venue, that you haven’t already, would you most like to play and which four bands or artists (two each) who can be living or dead, would you like to share the stage with?

H: I’d love to play Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado, with Brandi Carlile and John Mayer.

M: I would love to play a summertime house show in somebody’s backyard with Iron and Wine and the Tallest Man On Earth.

TITL: What are your thoughts on social media and would you agree with the general consensus that bands and artists today need to be socially interactive to earn and grow a fan-base?

H: There’s no question that social media has become a crucial part, not just of the music industry, but of almost every industry these days. Particularly for artists, it’s important for fans to feel like they know who you are. Of course, this can be dangerous and boundaries are crucial. Maggie doesn’t even have a personal Facebook anymore because it’s so time consuming. But, we enjoy meeting fans at shows with whom we’ve developed a rapport over social media. It’s nice to give people a window into our process and feel, even when we’re not playing regular gigs, that the connection is still alive.

TITL: What else does this year have in store for you?

H&M: All our focus right now is on releasing this album. We’re so excited to get back on the road this spring and summer. Beyond that, Maggie has two more years of her graduate program and Hannah has to find a more affordable apartment in New York. Wish us luck?

TITL: Finally then, where would you like to see yourselves five years from now and what advice would you give to aspiring artists trying to make their way in this ever-competitive industry?

H&M: In five years? Hopefully we’ll still be best friends, traveling and playing music as often as we can. For people trying to make it in music, we say: pace yourself. This business is as exhausting as it is exciting. Make sure you know, in your heart, why you’re writing songs. Don’t do it for fame or money – both of which are very hard to come by! Open yourself up to the world, put yourself out there, and let the music take you where it will. We never cease to be amazed at the opportunities that have arisen in our career. But it’s taken time and endless hours of hard work. There’s no such thing as overnight success.

Check out the video for the single “Oh No” below and for more information on Hannah & Maggie, visit their website, give their page a like on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. Their new album Oh No is available for pre-order now.

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LIVE: THE SCRIPT @ BLACKPOOL EMPRESS BALLROOM – AUGUST 30TH 2017 8

Up and coming Mancunian JP Cooper warms up the packed out floor and quickly filling seating area with a set lasting around half an hour, armed simply with a guitar. “I’ve played a few empty rooms here in Blackpool so it’s awesome to see so many of you have come out early” he says, prior to performing ”She’s On My Mind”, which is currently receiving huge airplay and support from radio stations across the country so needless to say, the song goes down a treat. He rounds off his time on stage with a short heartfelt speech about “Passport Home” claiming it to be: “…a celebration of anyone who’s done something good or who has been there for you. Thank you to all of you for coming out and to The Script for this amazing opportunity.” By the time he walks off stage to warm applause, he’s certainly earned himself a considerable number of new fans.

After more than two years away, Irish trio The Script are currently preparing to release their fifth album Freedom Child on Friday and have been touring the UK and Ireland in support of it for the past couple of weeks. Tonight, on the second to last night of this intimate run of dates, and four years to the day the band were due to perform in town as part of the Illuminations switch-on event, they walk on stage to a heroes’ welcome, kicking their set off with  “Rock The World”, one of the songs from the new album. It gets the show off to an up-tempo start with those on the floor, particularly at the barrier (which one girl I spoke to said she’d queued from 5am to get a spot at) and in the first few rows clapping, jumping and, having followed the previous few shows and quickly learned the lyrics, singing along.

“Superheroes” keeps the mood of the night upbeat, as does “Paint The Town Green” which sees front-man Danny O’Donoghue practically jig his way from one side of the stage to the other before the song slides straight into part of “Good Ol’ Days.”

Fan-favourite “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” is next up and as the crowd all but take over vocal duties to close out the song, Glen turns to his left slightly and proudly applauds while Danny bows down to them, grateful and somewhat overwhelmed by the strength and passion of the masses before him. Having been made aware of some venues not allowing gig-goers to photograph or film parts of shows, Mark, calling out a member of their tour crew, then proceeds to make the following statement: “Tell security to let people film and take photographs if they fucking want to. Venues might have a policy against it but we don’t give a fuck.”

With Freedom Child just two days away from release, the trio then introduce what Danny has called the only “ballad” on the album, “Arms Open”, which, under atmospheric lighting, sees a hand-clap slowly spread around the venue. Addressing the fact they were due in the town 4 years ago but had to cancel their appearance due to a family health emergency, they then call out: “Turn the fucking lights on!” and as every corner of the venue becomes illuminated, while the band stand watching and listening to the crowd roar to life once again, all they can remark is: “Amazing.”

Carrying on what has become a long-standing tour tradition, Danny then says they’re going to create a Mexican Wave and share it using Boomerang, explaining for the older members in the audience – “like me” he jokes – that Boomerang is a social media tool that takes a little clip and puts it on repeat. “It’s gonna look fucking awesome” he insists, and after a practice run, sure enough, the sight of thousands of arms rising and falling together is quite a sight to behold.

Getting back to the music, “Nothing” and “If You Ever Come Back” are next up before, after a brief interlude during which Danny announces: “This tour keeps getting better and better…you guys are amazing, thank you so much”, they introduce another new song; the rather reggae sounding “No Man Is An Island” at the end of which Glen looks out at everyone and declares: “You guys are an amazing crowd”, then all but (politely) demands: “Give yourselves a round of applause” which everyone duly does.

As three criss-cross white lights shine down on the band, “Never Seen Anything Quite Like You” begins with Danny standing centre-stage with his keyboard, while “For The First Time” ends with huge, seemingly never-ending cheers and rapturous applause as Danny stands almost perfectly still for a moment and looks speechless, gazing out at the sight and sound around him. “Science And Faith” and “If You Could See Me Now” follow soon after, before Danny then proceeds to delight those on the balcony towards the back of the venue when he appears on the walkway in front of them to perform “The Energy Never Dies”, with one fan getting an extra added surprise when he sings straight into her phone. Returning to the stage, he then instigates a venue wide sing-along of “Breakeven.”

From the second the band move to walk off stage, the venue echoes with the sound of thousands of people whistling, cheering and stamping their feet non-stop until the trio return for an encore which begins with “No Good In Goodbye.” Half way through, Danny says “Let’s hear you sing this” and holds out the mic to the crowd who duly oblige, albeit a little quietly at first, but they soon find their full voices again.

Latest single “Rain” has the mass of people on the floor, and Danny in particular, jumping around with the energy of someone half his age, before, as the show draws to a close, talking about the meaning behind the new album, he makes the following emphatic and passionate speech:

“We feel that freedom of expression has been under attack recently. We’re talking about the freedom to do what you wanna do, the freedom to say what it is you wanna say. The freedom to feel what is you really feel, the freedom to think what you wanna think, the freedom to pray to whoever you wanna pray to…but more importantly, the freedom to love who you wanna love…”

He goes on to ask: “Blackpool, are you in the mood for making a moment right now?!,” to which he receives a roar in response that makes him beam. “Let’s do this!” Seconds later he announces that they are live across the world right now and encourages everyone to repeat after him: “Freedom Child!”, before the band launch into final song of the night, “Hall Of Fame” which ends with Danny jumping off the edge of Glen’s drum platform. Then, gathering for their usual group bow at the front of the stage, the trio, alongside bassist Ben Sergeant and keyboardist Rodney Alejandro, take a moment to soak up the cheers and applause which thunder around the ballroom, sounds which continue to reverberate long after the group disappear from view.

KENDRICK LAMAR WINS BIG AT THE MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS 2017 10

Kendrick Lamar was the king of the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, winning six awards on a night full of emotional performances, political moments and a new, eye-popping Taylor Swift music video.

The 2017 MTV VMAs at the Forum in Inglewood, California, kicked off with lasers, fire and Kendrick Lamar. Break dancers performed amidst the light beams and fog as the rapper performed “DNA.” The song culminated with a ninja break-dancing while engulfed in flames. Then, the rapper transitioned to Humble” and Lamar’s backup performers, who were wearing martial arts uniforms, clamoured up and down a ladder that was set ablaze.

Ed Sheeran then took the stage to perform “Shape of You” against a prismatic set before Lil Uzi hopped onstage to add a few rap lines and helped Sheeran close out the song before the two launched into “XO TOUR Llif3.

The show cut to a skit featuring host Katy Perry hatching up a scheme to visit space, asking for advice from Buzz Aldrin, Peggy Whitson, Abbi Jacobson, Kathryn Hahn and Kevin Bacon who reminded Perry, “I wasn’t really on Apollo 13.” Perry then detailed her fictional trip to space before she floated down to the stage in her holographic space suit.

When she got to the stage, Perry explained to the audience that she has been missing in action because of her trip to space.

She said: “The world is doing so well right? Everything is fine? Great! Maybe not so much.”

Perry explained she wanted to change clothes. As she started to disrobe, she went through a rack of clothes. At one point, she took a “Handmaid’s Tale” uniform out and asked what it was. She said, “You guys have really been going through it, haven’t you? How the f**k are you coping right now?” before she was handed a fidget spinner as an explanation.

Paris Jackson presented best pop video award, but not before giving an impassioned statement against white supremacists.

“Let’s leave here tonight remembering we must show these Nazi, white supremacist jerks in Charlottesville and all over the country that as a nation with liberty as our slogan, we have zero tolerance for their violence, their hatred and their discrimination,” said Jackson. “We must resist.”

Fifth Harmony won best pop video for “Down and they got teary as they thanked their families and Gucci Mane, who was on the stage with them.

Hailee Steinfeld announced Julia Michaels’ performance of “Issues.”

The VMAs premiered  Taylor Swift’s video for her new single Look What You Made Me Do” while a new minutes laterYara Shahidi announced Shawn Mendes’ performance of “There’s Nothin’ Holding Me Back.”

Perry returned to the stage with a message for people affected by Hurricane Harvey and said, “We are praying for your safety … because we’re all in this together.”

Alessandra Ambrosio and Jack Antonoff, who sported a prominent Star of David necklace, announced a performance by Lorde.

Lorde opened by turning on a boom box onstage and dancing to her song “Homemade Dynamite.” Later, backup dancers joined her to lift her into the air so she could float over the stage. She ended the performance without singing a single word.

Pete Wentz and Teyana Taylor presented best dance, which went to “Stay” by Alessia Cara and Zedd.

DJ Khaled took the stage with his baby, Asahd Tuck Khaled, who Perry said would obviously win the social media baby contest. He then announced a performance by Fifth Harmony. The girl group started with “Angel” before transitioning into “Down.”

Ludacris and Olivia Munn presented best collaboration, which went to “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” by Zayn and Taylor Swift. Jack Antonoff and his “favorite new artist” Sam Dew accepted the award on the singers’ behalf.

Jared Leto took the stage to pay tribute to Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington and Soundgarden front-man Chris Cornell.

Leto then urged audience members and viewers at home to stand up for a performance by Linkin Park.

A few minutes later, host Perry announced a performance by Miley Cyrus, who sang “Younger Now” after shouting, “Love you, Katy!”

Cardi B announced a spirited performance of “Sorry Not Sorry” by Demi Lovato.

Later, P!nk appeared onstage in a convertible to sing a medley of her songs, including “Get the Party Started” and “Raise Your Glass” before hopping onto an ATV to sing “So What” as backup singers danced nearly nude with only black bars to cover themselves.

P!nk then sang “Don’t Let Me Get Me” and “Just Give Me A Reason” against a screen playing her old music videos before she performed her newest single “What About Us.”

After Pink’s performance, Ellen DeGeneres took the stage to present the Vanguard Award to P!nk.

Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown took the stage to present artist of the year and quipped, “Just last year, I was stuck in the upside down and now I’m here.” The award went to Brown’s “personal favorite” Ed Sheeran.

Vanessa Hudgens announced a performance by Alessia Cara.

Kesha announced a performance of “1-800-273-8255” by Alessia Cara and Logic, encouraging people to seek help and advice. The song title is also the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Bebe Rexha and The Chainsmokers presented best new artist, which went to Khalid, before Thirty Seconds to Mars sang “Walk on Water” with a performance that saw them appear as a heat map.

Reverend Robert Mead IV took the stage and said:

“I am a descendent of Robert E. Lee, the Civil War general whose statue was at the center of violence. We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy. As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin. Today, I call on all of us with privilege and power to answer God’s call to confront racism and white supremacy head-on. We can find inspiration in the Black Lives Matter movement, the women who marched in the Women’s March in January and especially Heather Heyer, who died fighting for her beliefs in Charlottesville.”

Mead then introduced Susan Bro, Heyer’s mother, who said of her daughter:

“I miss her, but I know she’s here tonight. I have been deeply moved to see people across the world, the whole world, find inspiration in her courage.” She announced the launch of the Heather Heyer Foundation, which will provide scholarships to “help people join Heather’s fight against hatred. I want people to know that Heather never marched alone. She was always joined by people of every race and every background in this country.”

She announced that MTV decided to honor all six nominees for its category, best fight against the system, adding:

“I congratulate all these artists on their VMA tonight and I look forward to the important work that they and all of you will do together to make the world a better, kinder place. Thank you.”

Hailey Baldwin announced the performance of the “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” reboot by Rod Stewart and DNCE, who put on a colorful and flashy performance from Las Vegas.

Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot presented video of the year, which went to “Humble.” by Kendrick Lamar.

Noah Cyrus announced a performance by host Perry and Nicki Minaj who together closed out the ceremony.

Here’s the full list of winners from the 2017 VMA’s:

Video of the Year: Kendrick Lamar: “HUMBLE.”
Best New Artist: Khalid
Artist of the Year: Ed Sheeran
Best Hip Hop Video: Kendrick Lamar: “HUMBLE.”
Best Collaboration: Zayn and Taylor Swift: “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)”
Best Pop Video: Fifth Harmony: “Down” [ft. Gucci Mane]
Best Dance Video: Zedd and Alessia Cara: “Stay”
Best Rock Video: Twenty One Pilots: “Heavydirtysoul”
Song of the Summer: Lil Uzi Vert: “XO Tour Llif3”
Best Direction: Kendrick Lamar: “HUMBLE.”
Best Cinematography: Kendrick Lamar: “HUMBLE.”
Best Visual Effects: Kendrick Lamar: “HUMBLE.”
Best Choreography: Kanye West: “Fade”
Best Editing: Young Thug: “Wyclef Jean”
Best Fight Against the System (all nominees win):Logic: “Black SpiderMan”; The Hamilton Mixtape: “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)”; Big Sean: “Light”; Alessia Cara: “Scars to Your Beautiful”; Taboo: “Stand Up / Stand N Rock #NoDAPL” [ft. Shailene Woodley]; John Legend: “Surefire”