Bonne Finken Talks To Us About Her Grammy Consideration, SXSW, & More

By: Jura Daubenspeck

It’s no mystery that the ladies of Denver’s music scene are a force to be reckoned with. And when it comes to finding a place that not only satiates your musical thirst, but also your need for some downright tasty pizza, The Walnut Room is where it’s at.

Last Saturday, ladies took over the stage at The Walnut Room for a night of indie electronica flavor. Tana Victoria, Amy Kress, Bonne Finken with DJ/backup vocalist Christine Steeples, and Phee all kept it edgy, poetic, and even a bit dark at times. The lineup consisted of mostly Colorado locals, with the exception of Iowa native Bonne Finken, who lit up the room with her booming vocals and phantasmal projections.

Each performer wowed during their time on stage, but this week, we wanted to give special props to Bonne Finken, who, despite her strong Midwest following, made her Denver debut at the show. We sat down with Bonne prior to her set to ask her a few questions about what she’s been up to, including her upcoming album, her Grammy consideration, and her plans for SXSW 2017. Here’s what she had to say:

This is your first time playing in Denver. Welcome! How are you feeling?

I feel excited! We just got done with soundcheck, and I got to hear the other artists play a bit. It sounds like we’re all in the same genre, so that’s pretty cool.

Earlier this summer you released your single and video “Speak to Me.” What have you been up to in the meantime?

I’ve been working on the new album, which will be released in 2017. “Speak to Me” was just the first release from that album. We’ve been recording, which is why I’m in Denver now. Joel Rekiel, my publicist, lined this show up for me while I was in town. I’ve been working on the album; retooling the show. It’s gone really electronic now learning a bunch of technologies, and the band is relearning gear. So that’s what we’re working on now.

You’ve been recording at The Spot Studios. How long have you been working with them?

I just went there last spring to record “Speak to Me.” And then I just started again about a week ago. I’ll be returning next spring and will hopefully have it all done by June 2017.

Bonne Finken. 

Bonne Finken. 

So what’s the experience been like this past week?

Really awesome. They’re so great to work with, and they (Glenn Sawyer and Rich Veltrop) understand my sound more than anybody I’ve worked with before. So it feels super easy. Instead of me trying to translate my sound or fight on sounds, it feels very comfortable, and goes so fast. It’s incredible! It’s been fun, relaxing and exciting.

Last time we talked, we discussed how you put your heart and soul into your music. You take the time to learn everything about every aspect of your music, so it really becomes a piece of you. I’m curious about what that process has been like, and how much of your blood, sweat, and tears will be going into this next album.

Definitely more than ever before. It’s hard to explain. Literally they’re using my own sessions and my own sounds and it’s demoed to the point where if I want a certain harmony figured out, I better have it figured out when I bring it in. [On other records] we would bring in really sketched out ideas and flush them out in the studio, where as now we bring it in and execute whatever we have, so we have to be more prepared. Which is scary and good. It goes faster, but it means whatever my idea is in real time is what they execute. So that’s been a big difference on this album. And I’ve learned a lot about MIDI. You’re able to use electronic instruments of any kind, and write with them. So that’s been very freeing for me as a writer and as an artist. I love the freeness of MIDI.

Regarding your recorded work, what can your fans expect in the coming months?

I’ll probably have a couple more singles out and promote them like I did “Speak to Me.” “Speak to Me” was kind of a campaign to try to get on the Grammy ballot, which it did do, so that was cool that we released it in time. But I’ll probably release a couple of music videos almost quietly. Not necessarily to sell, but to test out some of the sounds on the album. You’ll be hearing what’s been in my brain for the last decade but has taken me a long time to understand how to articulate audibly. I’ve always had crazy ideas, but now I feel like I can really make it happen and show that off in my music.

How will those those crazy, cool ideas be manifested in your future performances?

When I write, I keep in mind my live shows, because that’s what I love most, maybe to the detriment of thinking, “Will this song work live?” It’s important for me to get [my work] across in my live shows. So if anything, my live shows will be stronger because I keep that in mind and am able to manipulate the recordings knowing that. I like going to shows and hearing artists sound like they do in the recording, rather than not being able to recognize the song because it’s been changed too much.

Steeples (left) & Finken (right). 

Steeples (left) & Finken (right). 

Do you have any upcoming shows, or tours around the country?

We’re actually coming down into recording mode. Most winters I hole up. I don’t like to travel in bad weather. So I’ve learned to call a spade a spade, and not push it. But we are going to SXSW so I’m super stoked for that. We might just go underground a bit [this winter], write some songs, work on the show, and let SXSW be our big reveal for some of these new songs.

We can’t wait to hear more! Keep up with Bonne Finken here.

-Jura

All photos per the author. Videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

How Harmony Drive Went From Metal to Melodies

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Metalheads-turned-acoustic rock/pop stars is not a musical transformation you hear of very often. But in the case of Norwegian rockers Harmony Drive, this metamorphosis was natural, necessary, and welcomed.

Harmony Drive.

Harmony Drive.

Harmony Drive’s story started long ago, when the three members, Lars Erik Schjerpen (vocals/piano/guitar), Andre Myhren (guitar), and the epically-bearded Vidar Braun (bass/supporting vocals) met in Southern Norway, before settling back in Oslo.

In 2011, the band formerly known as 'Metal Heads With Broken Hearts' decided to make a change with their music, focusing more on acoustic riffs, colorful harmonies, and beautiful pop structures. They wanted to move away from the hardcore metal aesthetic that followed them then. And so, Harmony Drive was born.

HD at The Spot Studios.

HD at The Spot Studios.

In 2012, Harmony Drive released their first single, “Something’s Wrong”, which was mixed by producer Rich Veltrop from The Spot Studios. The hit song received high rotation in the US, and even made its way to number 11 on the Philippine radio charts without ever having been released in the Philippines. This was the first song from Harmony Drive’s debut album, aptly titled from their former band moniker, Metal Heads With Broken Hearts (2014). The band collaborated with Rich Veltrop once again, and drummer Dave Elitch (The Mars Volta, M83, Killer Be Killed) to create the album.

Since then, the band has toured worldwide, making friends wherever they share their music. But even with countless performances in various countries, the guys shared their most memorable performance, which took place after a show in Hope, Idaho:

“We met these beautiful fans, and they told us we had to come back with them. We rode on a boat, barbequed, and sang ‘House of the Rising Sun’; it was amazing. We love playing intimate gatherings. We love playing for people, but when we don’t play for so many people, we get to connect. When you connect, then you can talk about music, and values in your life. We’re so grateful we get to experience this whole part of the gig.”

The guys of Harmony Drive embody artistry, perseverance, and playfulness. With their art comes the partying, but it also comes with the beautiful mindset about the connectedness of life, music, and people. Their passion for creating hard-hitting music that also carries a sincere softness is clear, but their general passion for the craft is what shines through the most. The album Metal Heads With Broken Hearts leaves much to anticipate, as it offers so much for a lover of memorable harmonies, gentle acoustics, and grunge-like vocals. A few of my personal favorites from the album include “Something’s Wrong”, “Remember”, “The Last Song”, and “Chan”.

Watch the making of “See You” at The Spot Studios:

Harmony Drive is about to release the official music video for their newest track, “See You”, on September 30th, and will release another song, “Be There”, in the Philippines soon after that. Check out the exclusive sneak peek into the making of “See You” at The Spot Studios above, and be on the lookout for the band’s upcoming announcements. You definitely don’t want to miss out on what they’re bringing to the table.

-Jura

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

BLDGBLKS Takes a Closer Look Into The Spot Studios

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Take a look inside The Spot Studios with us.

Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with music producers, Glenn Sawyer and Rich Veltrop of The Spot Studios. We explored the inner workings of the studio space and discussed their philosophy, collective vision, and future plans for the company.

I also got an exclusive tour of the stunning mansion-turned-recording-studio nestled in a private estate in Lakewood, CO. It was a fantastic way to spend a sunny Saturday morning, and Glenn and Rich are two of the friendliest people I’ve met since moving to Denver. So get to know the masterminds behind The Spot Studios and check out the video interview and studio tour below:

-Jura

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

How Denver Band Signs and Signals Make Meat and Potato Magic

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Denver's Signs and Signals are worth checking out.

Signs and Signals is a Denver-based rock band who released their debut EP Human Again at the beginning of July and then wrapped up the month with a UMS performance. Formed in May of 2014, Signs and Signals have been climbing the Denver music ladder at a noticeably fast pace. Within a year, they’ve conquered numerous Denver venues, were featured on 93.3’s Locals Only, released an EP, and made the UMS lineup. So we sat down with S&S frontman Jason Kelly to find out more about the band’s recent recording experience, their local success, and their upcoming plans for the fall.

Your sound is intriguing. A song like “Human Again” feels Incubus-inspired to me, but then I hear a catchy track like “Better Life” and it’s much more pop-infused. I know that some of you were in Soul Electric prior to this, which feels a little heavier than Signs and Signals. Tell me about the formation of Signs and Signals and your change in direction musically from your previous project.

Haha, you know, Incubus is [actually] a primary core influence for many of us.

[Signs and Signals] all began in March of 2013. [Myself] (vocals) and Brian (lead guitar) met up off of Craigslist and immediately began songwriting together. After sifting through different band members and playing shows as Soul Electric, our second bassist parted ways [so] we put on the brakes a bit to hone our sound and audition bass players. We tried out bassists and the amount of interest was overwhelming. [We] chose Dave because, quite frankly, he and Jimmy make meat and potato magic. With Dave, we found a new hard-hitting melodic sound, and so we renamed ourselves Signs and Signals.  

After a few shows as a four piece, everyone felt [that] the ultimate vision for the Signs and Signals lineup would be to eventually find a rhythm guitarist, that way [I] could focus solely on vocals.  After multiple failed attempts to find this fifth member, we dove into recording our first single, “Fight or Flight” at The Spot Studios. It was there that we met Joel Rekiel with BLDGBLKS Music Company. Joel directed a successful Kickstarter campaign [for us], which helped us raise over $6k to record our EP Human Again. In the middle of recording our third song, we finally found our fifth member, John Ensey. He jumped in with flying colors and wound up recording rhythm guitar on 5 of the 7 songs for the EP.

So now with John, Dave, and Jimmy crushing the rhythm section, and Brian [and myself] composing one catchy melody after the next, Signs and Signals has become a five piece rock band dream-come-true and we're all very optimistic about the future!

Speaking of your new EP, what was one of your favorite things (besides the awesome addition of Ensey) about the recording process?  

Our producers, Glenn Sawyer and Rich Veltrop, were a strong team to work with. Glenn has a great ear for adjusting parts and a creative insight for thinking outside the box. And Rich is the crushing critic who will go through every last note with a fine-tooth comb. I think it's safe to say we all grew as musicians from our recording experience at The Spot. When you are investing a lot of time and money, you want to give it your all and I believe we did exactly that.

What has it been like gaining relatively fast-paced success in the Denver music scene within a year’s time?  

A recent Twitter fan listened to our EP and told us, “Your guy’s music sounds like it’s meant to be.” Those words- "meant to be" -give me goosebumps because there is definitely some kind of magic happening here. Like so many musicians out there, we have all been in several different bands and none of those have had the potential that this one does. In the grand scheme of things, it's always good to recognize where you're really at, raise the bar, and keep chipping away at your goals one step at a time.

Sound advice. Give us one word to describe your experience playing The UMS:

Life-changing.

Sweet! So what’s next for Signs and Signals? A music video? A tour? Both? Give us the deets!  

We definitely have touring on our minds, but as it is, we are hardly even known in our own city. We plan to keep sharing our music, play shows, and build a local following before we set out into serious touring. Maybe next year… we have an open mind and a lot to do.

So there’s our bit with Signs and Signals! Looking at their track record, we think these guys are moving faster toward a local fan base and a tour than they realize. So keep an eye out for their upcoming shows! And listen to them rock out here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.