CHRIS STILLS TELLS ALL ABOUT HIS NEW ALBUM & THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA 0 239

Having just released his first album in 10 years titled ‘Don’t Be Afraid’, it’s safe to say the last few months of 2018 in particular have been pretty big for Chris Stills. With the collection already championed by the likes of Mojo among others, while playing a few shows here in the UK, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Chris to find out more about his artistic influences, the one venue he’d most like to play and how it felt to have his work featured in two Oscar winning films.

TITL: For those unfamiliar with you and your music, how would you sum yourself and your sound up in a few words?

Chris Stills: I grew up with the fundamentals. A folk, blues and rock foundation. Dylan, Stones, Beatles, Pink Floyd, CSN, Neil Young, The Police, U2, AC/DC, Motown… all of it. Depending on my mood and what I’m trying to achieve with a song, I reach to the music I love for inspiration. That also includes my contemporaries like Rufus Wainwright, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley etc…What you get is a nice mixed bag of songs… kind of like a mixed tape you’d make a friend.

TITL: With so many other bands and artists around, what makes you stand out? If you had to sell yourself to a music fan, what would you tell them? 

CS: I write songs, then I work hard to record, mix and master them. I play them in various venues large and small with different formations. I’ll sell you at the show. And maybe over dinner.

TITL: To what extent have your musical influences changed over the course of your life and how do and have those influences impact the music you’ve made and make now?

CS: Music has a funny way of influencing you at different times for different reasons. I hate to admit it, but I’ve only recently discovered the Harry Nilsson record Pussy Cats which is at this very moment affecting me profoundly.

TITL: Which one band or artist might you say you sound most similar to? 

CS: Only the best ones.

TITL: Who or what is your biggest inspiration when it comes to music and song-writing? 

CS: It’s a funny thing that one… you don’t wanna look too high otherwise you get cold feet and wanna give up because your heroes can make you feel like you just pale in comparison. I think my biggest inspiration is making the time, then actually taking it, and not taking myself too seriously. Things tend to get better and better as you go.

TITL: Your new album has been praised by the likes of Mojo and Classic Rock among others, but do you actually care much about what critics think or are you more concerned with the thoughts of your fans? 

CS: It’s always nice to get a nod here and there but if I was here for it I might as well be selling yogurt. My favorite place to know whether people are into what I’m doing is on stage. It’s immediate and clear. No filters.

TITL: The album features co-writes/collaborations with Ryan Adams and Zac Rae of Death Cab For Cutie. How did those collaborations come about and what did each bring to the writing/creative process for the album?

CS: I met Ryan when we were just kids. We were guys in the 3rd room at the time of The Rolling Stones who were working on Bridges to Babylon. We were just a couple of kids back then but really became close when he and Ethan Johns asked me to come play on Gold. At some point later Ryan had built his studio, PaxAm and invited me to come be creative there. With him… without him. He was ever so supportive. He ended up helping me finish Criminal Mind.

Zac Rea is force of nature in his own right. If you want that X-Factor in your music he will deliver every time. He’s one of my favorite people to work with and like Ryan and really everyone else really helped me make this record.

TITL: If you had to pick your favourite song on the album, which would it be and why? 

CS: They all hold a very special place. I guess some of the more fun sessions were the ones that were recorded with the most folks playing at the same time. “Lonely Nights”, “Don’t be Afraid”… those were some exciting times in the studio.

TITL: Your music has been included in several films, including I, Tonya and American Hustle as well as in the US version of the hit show Shameless, in which you also appeared. What impact did having that happen have on your career in terms of audience/fan base interaction and interest? 

CS: Well, it doesn’t hurt to be a part of Academy Award winning film. Or working with David O’Russell, Mark Batson, John Wells or Sue Jacobs. I mean, they’re the best in their fields. If anything it’s a good confidence booster, isn’t it?

TITL: As a modern day artist, and given how long you’ve been in and around the industry, how are you finding social media’s impact on your career? Would you agree it’s a vital tool in today’s world or do you think we as a general society have become far too reliant on it?

CS: I think social media has leveled the playing field. Sadly it also seems to have sucked all the life out of any mystery in this world. But you really have to have lived when that still existed to know what I’m talking about. Is social media vital? Yes. It’s running everything and everyone into a big opaque blobby data mine.

TITL: You’ve got a final number of 2018 shows coming up. For anyone who hasn’t seen you before, what can people expect from your performances?

CS: For me, my shows are like a release… all the energy that goes into it… the work, the travel, the road, the life… it all culminates on stage.

TITL: If you could play one venue that you haven’t yet, which would it be and why? 

CS: I have always dreamed of playing the Royal Albert Hall. Do I really need to ex.plain that one?

TITL: Finally then, now that 2018 is almost over, have you started planning for 2019 yet? What can fans expect to see and hear from you in the near future? 

CS: Plan nothing. Be careless. Enjoy yourselves. And somewhere in 2019, another Chris Stills record will come rumbling in.

To keep up to date with Chris Stills, visit his website, give his page a like on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and Instagram. His album ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ is available now. Photo credit: Dove Shore.

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REVIEW: JULIANA CERVIZZI – SCARED OF MYSELF EP 0 16

It’s often been said that the early years of your life are the most important and influential when it comes to who someone grows up to be. In the case of Juliana Cervizzi, those early years led this talented singer-songwriter to discover a love for music – a love she’s now sharing with the world via her Scared Of Myself EP.

The EP plays like a diary, and from the opening number, the title track of the collection, the listener is taken on a journey through Juliana’s most honest thoughts and feelings. “Outside Looking In” with its stripped back instrumentation allows her voice to take centre stage as she sings about self-empowerment, while “Both Sides” focusses on the idea that while we can and should care about those around us, we shouldn’t so at the expense of our own emotional and mental wellbeing.

The hand-clap that runs throughout “Bother Me” will no doubt sound fantastic when fans unite to do it together at any live shows Juliana has in future, and “Found You” is both catchy and lyrically simple yet honest enough to be worthy of plenty of airplay – and also likely to get stuck in people’s heads (in a good way). Closing number “Another Way” is a highlight of the EP; notably because of the beautiful, soft vocal delivery from Juliana which makes the song incredibly impactful and ideal for unwinding – and reflecting – to, perhaps while sat at a window on a summer’s evening or a winter night in front of a fire.

Ultimately, this EP will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled or continues to struggle with accepting and liking themselves for who they are but furthermore, will introduce music fans to a rising talent that deserves to be heard by as many people as possible.

GEORGIA VANNEWKIRK TALKS “BLUE VELVET”, FUTURE PLANS & ARTISTIC INSPIRATIONS 0 67

Earlier this year, Georgia VanNewkirk dropped a surprise debut single “Wish You Well” – without so much as telling her family – and immediately caught the attention of music fans everywhere. Since then, she’s seen both her streaming numbers and fan-base grow considerably and has had a very good year indeed. While currently working on more new music, Georgia spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about the artists she’s most inspired by, her views on social media and her thoughts about her future.

TITL: Has music always been the ultimate career goal for you or have there been times when you’ve considered other paths? 

I have always enjoyed writing music, but never really saw it as a possible career path until recently. I am actually a senior at the Savannah College of Art and Design studying Advertising, and for a while, I thought I would graduate and go work at an advertising agency. My mother was a costume designer for 20 years and this summer I followed in her footsteps working as a costume assistant on a movie, so that is also something I was considering pursuing. I feel like I was destined for some type of creative career and I feel so incredibly lucky that I am able to do music in a professional capacity because ultimately it’s what I enjoy doing the most. 

TITL: Ultimately, what made you decide to make the leap and put yourself and your music out in the world?

I have been writing, singing and playing for years, but I never really took myself seriously as a musician. When I met my producer, Noah Taylor, we started writing and recording, and I became so enamored with the process. I was having so much fun doing it I thought the logical next step was to release it, if anything to show family and friends this cool project I was working on. 

TITL: Which bands or artists might you say most influence the music you make? Is there, in particular, you’ve been inspired by over the years?

Growing up my parents played Dolly Parton, Fleetwood Mac and The Beatles exclusively. We didn’t have a TV or radio, so I didn’t even know that other music even existed.  All three of them have had a huge impact on the music I make subconsciously, and they are all legends I admire so much. Recently though, I have been finding a lot of inspiration in iconic female artists like Lana Del Ray, Kimbra, King Princess, and Maggie Rogers. 

TITL: When it came to your debut single, “Wish You Well” what made you decide not to tell anyone, even those closest to you, that you were releasing it, and what was their reaction when you did?

One of the worst things an artist can do is take themselves too seriously, and the second-worst thing they can do is sell themselves short. I am constantly trying to fight the latter of the two. I wanted to put my music out there and let it speak for itself with no expectations. When the song came out the people closest to me expected it, but pretty much everyone else was shocked. My phone died the night of the release and I didn’t charge it until the next afternoon, so when it came back to life it was going crazy and I thought that someone had died or that there was a zombie apocalypse. It was really cool to see so much support from people for a project that was so personal. 

Is there a story behind the song? 

“Wish You Well“ was my reaction to the end of a relationship. I was so sad and my heart was broken so writing the song was super therapeutic. I held the experience so close to me for so long, and releasing the song helped me let the pain go. It was a way to bookend that time of my life and move on to new love and adventures.

TITL: The track has so far achieved 100,000 streams on Spotify – did you ever anticipate the track would go down so well with music fans? 

Not even a little bit, I thought my mom and grandma would listen and maybe an aunt or an uncle if I shared it with our family Facebook group. 

TITL: Tell me a little about your new track “Blue Velvet.”

“Blue Velvet” tells the story of how I fell for a boy with blue eyes. It showcases how we met when he asked me to be with him, and eventually, the day I knew I loved him. The song follows my emotional journey through doubt and fear and my fall into the blue velvet abyss.

TITL: The video drops on December 4th. How did you come up with concept for it and do you enjoy being creative in that way?

My original idea for the video was to get together with one of my best friends, Liam Haehnle and prance around Savannah GA in blue dresses with his super 8 camera. Luckily, he decided to bring Calvin Herbst in as director and within a week we had a crew of thirteen, five locations – including a soap factory and a synagogue – and a four-day shoot planned. Executing my vision was one of the most exhilarating feelings, and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process. I’ve always enjoyed visual art, and creating a piece that tells the story of my music was something I really loved doing, and can’t wait to do again. 

TITL: Is there an EP or album in the works? 

Yes, there is I have been in the studio all week and am SO excited for everyone to heat what I have been working on.

TITL: Who or what most influences your song-writing and is song-writing something that comes easy to you? 

Personal experiences influence my song-writing the most. When I started writing it wasn’t to complete a song, it was just to get out what I was feeling in a way that made sense. I am not really able to sit down and say, “Ok I am going to write about love today,” I more just start playing piano and see what comes out. 

TITL: What, in your opinion, makes a song truly great and which would you say is the greatest ever written? 

A song that is truly great takes you to a different place. It’s a song you can feel in your bones and is universally understood. I think we all have great songs within us. The greatest song ever written… wow. There are so many songs and so many songwriters, I feel like there is so much room for greatness and creativity for each artist that picking one would be unfathomable.

TITL: Given that you achieved a huge response on Spotify without not telling anyone about the release of your first single, what are your thoughts on social media? Do you think there are any downsides to society and the music industry appearing to be so reliant on technology and the likes of Twitter and Facebook, or is it just the way the world is now? 

I think social media is such an amazing tool, of course, it has its downsides, but being able to connect with people across the globe is such a unique experience to my generation. I have heard from so many people through Instagram about how Wish You Well has helped them through their breakup, helped them find closure from their relationships, or helped them get over their ex. This was something I never expected, so I am grateful to social media for connecting me to people with shared experiences. 

TITL: Moving away from music slightly, you were Mila Kunis’ costume assistant on the set of her latest film. Is that side of the entertainment business something you also have an interest in, and how if at all does that side influence or affect the music side of things?  

The really cool thing about working on this film as a costume assistant was that I was following in my mom’s footsteps. She was a costume designer in LA for 20 years and worked on the entire run of That 70’s Show with Mila for eight years. During the pre-production phase of the film, I was with my mom and we saw Mila for the first time in ten years. It was so amazing to see them reunite after so long and to be able to work with someone I had grown up around. That side of the entertainment business is so fascinating to me, and it influences me overall as an artist. I learned so much about what goes into a giant production and the process behind making large scale art and it has really helped me to see and curate the bigger picture within my music. 

TITL: Would you like to do more work on film sets etc. or are the coming months set to be more focussed on your music?

I am definitely more focused on my music at this point in my life, but I don’t think I am done with film sets quite yet. There are so many variables in life, who knows, maybe in ten years, I’ll be living in Australia in my tiny home with a charcuterie restaurant. 

TITL: Finally then, as a fairly new artist, what would you like to see the industry achieve and where would you like it to go in terms of growth and development in the coming years? What mark are you hoping to leave on it as your legacy many years from now?

As a new artist, I am just going to keep working hard and hope for the best. I don’t like to get too caught up in the future, as long as I am writing music that I love, I will always be happy. 

Give “Blue Velvet” a listen below and for more information on Georgia VanNewkirk, follow her on Twitter and Instagram.