Between the Notes: Netflix and spill with Rather Nice

Rather Nice is an indie pop band made up of some rather talented musicians. Joe Johnson leads the pack with vocals and rhythm guitar, supported by lead guitarist extraordinaire Mike Tenreiro, with Nick Reagan holding the beat down on bass, Oliver Littlefield rocking out on drums, and Carlos Fragoso adding sonic texture on trumpet. Together, they blend sweet melodies with clever lyrics that sound like sunshine on a mild summer day. 

For their segment of the Between The Notes podcast with Motif , they talked about where they get their inspiration as a band, and how they like to let the audience get in on the fun!

Motif: So what is your writing process like? Is it collaborative? 

Rather Nice (Joe Johnson): The first EP was a lot of my stuff that I had written, but after Mike (Tenreiro) joined, it became more collaborative. He’s like a genius music producer and stuff. He didn’t tell me to say that – don’t worry! He only implied it. With his creative energy coming to the band, it really brought us to life. “Zoinked” is one of our favorite [songs] to play, and it kind of just happened by accident while we were playing at practice one day.  “Her Mom” was made kind of in collaboration with the fans. We had a sweepstakes thing where if someone recorded a cover of themselves and sent it to us, they could win the ability to have a video chat with us. We always say we’re going to write a song in that time, and we always do. I don’t really know how the story started, but we were thinking “a dude is in high school, and he meets this really pretty girl. But that’s lame, so what’s a cool caveat?” So we made him really attracted to her seventy-year-old mom. So that’s the song, and it’s good. It’s not like the other song you’re thinking of! Don’t think that.

Motif: Who would you cite as major inspirations?

JJ: Boy Pablo, Hippo Campus. Mike and I kind of listen to the exact same people.

Mike Tenreiro: My inspiration for “Thai Food” came from the Backstreet Lovers. Backstreet Lovers, if you’re watching this, we love you. Also Mickey Darling, we love you. 

JJ: It helps when half the band is only interested in one genre, so we can copy that genre. And that’s kind of how it works. The rest of them are like – Oliver, you can explain.

Oliver Littlefield: Yeah it’s good that we all have similar, but also very different genres of taste. Like Joe and Mike said, they like the same type of stuff where I’m on the complete opposite spectrum. I like metal, funk, soul, and all that type of stuff. And we hope to eventually bring an EP that would be silky on the ears. 

JJ: Oliver’s really different from us; he got a tattoo, so we’re kind of scared of him. 

OL: Yeah they don’t know me. 

JJ: I don’t know him anymore; he’s totally changed. I don’t know what happened; must’ve been the Internet. Oh and Nick listens to videogame soundtracks.

Motif: So what other kinds of stuff do you draw on for inspiration? Besides Netflix and pee?

JJ: That’s about it! That’s 90% of it. Honestly, some of the songs we put on the set were written with an audience, and the audience gave us the idea of a relationship that’s kind of open-ended, on the rocks. So that’s where “Loose Ends” came from. And then I kind of think for “Her Mom,” we kind of took the conversation away from her [an audience member]. She was like “Oh yeah, this guy is gonna be in love with a girl, and we were like, “No! The girl’s mom!” But she dug the concept. Then sometimes, it’s just playing around with chords. We’ll play around with chords and then be like, “This sounds nice, what can we make with this?” Then we’ll think of something random and it just sometimes works. That’s what “Zoinked” was. It was just us being like “Ooh, okay!” And then just going off of that. But mostly, Netflix and pee. 

You can hear the full discography of Rather Nice’s particularly iconic sense of humor on their Spotify page HERE: https://open.spotify.com/artist/4PFth2EYBdcDvVMs7y3BUr?si=8RuEGjhPQTyL91xBqE1gQQ&dl_branch=1

Rhode Islanders You Should Know: Author and podcaster Kate Hanley wants to change your life

Kate Hanley is an author, a podcaster, and she wants you to be a better person. 

Nope, don’t run, come back, stick with me here. 

First and foremost, let’s throw down Hanley’s Rhode Island cred. She’s a native (her family spans generations here) and did the most native thing someone from Rhody can do – she moved away as a child and then heard the call of quahogs and returned to this great state. In her time away, she lived all over the country, with college landing her in Virginia at Washington and Lee, as a history major. 

Hanley then found herself in New York, where she went to graduate school at NYU, with the goal of writing for “Sesame Street” (she ended up freelancing to write for their app!). She met her husband, they had two kids and realized that a two-bedroom in Brooklyn was not going to cut it. After expanding their home search radius to a bigger and bigger circle, she landed herself in, of course, Providence, in 2011. (If you need any more cred, her father, another Rhode Islander, recently moved to Florida – which means Hanley got to take his four-digit license plate. She’s the real deal.)

As Hanley moved around the country, she worked primarily in editorial positions, including for iVillage, which quickly became a dream job for her. But the thing about dreams is that they have to end. When she found out that iVillage needed to make cuts, she volunteered for a lay-off and pursued her yoga teaching certification, which would be a year-long process. Then Hanley had an epiphany. After so much time meditating and spending time truly with herself, she says, “I heard very clearly that what I always wanted to do was write. I never knew writing was a possibility as a viable career.”

So Hanley pursued a writing career. She published her first of four books, Anywhere Anytime Chill Guide in 2008, and her work has appeared in numerous national publications, such as Martha Stewart’s Whole Living, Real Simple and Yoga Journal. 

The publication of her fourth book brings us to the next big chapter in Kate’s life. In December 2016, right after the election when the country felt divided and shocked with the, “What just happened?” vibe being prevalent, there was a poll that said the most popular New Year’s Resolution for 2017 was not to lose weight or quit drinking, but to “be a better person.” Hanley says, “I was so inspired by it in that moment. We were looking for hope, and to me, that was the hope.”

She immediately got to writing. In 2018, her latest book, How to Be a Better Person was published. 

The book features 401 (yes, she really did that) ways to make a difference not only in yourself, but in the world. Kate says, “I covered stress relief for so long that I figured out the real purpose of trying to relax and not stress out is to be your best.” Hanley focuses on the idea that any step is better than no step, and not only does being better help you, but it also helps the world around you. Hanley continues, “This was the purpose of trying to reduce stress: be a decent human. Don’t get hooked into judgment or be too overwhelmed to do what is right.” 

About a year and a half after the book was published, Hanley launched the How to Be a Better Person podcast, which servs as a companion to her book. The podcast is what I would call bite-sized, and it focuses on helping you stress less, and well, yeah, be a better person because of it. Kate says, “Not everyone has 45 minutes a day for self-improvement.” The episodes are between 5 and 10 minutes long and end with a small to-do item or action to use in your life for self-improvement. And she wants to make sure you know that you don’t have to think you’re a bad person to want to be better. Sometimes it can be as simple as, “I don’t want to yell at my kids when I’m frustrated,” or “Wow, I drank a lot during the pandemic, and feel ashamed about that.” The podcast itself is coming up on a big accomplishment. Its 500th episode will be released on July 22nd.

Hanley encourages her audiences and readers to wonder: How can I think about a problem differently? How can I bring my best self to any situation? She says her aim is to provide a framework to actively move toward being a better person. But and this is one of the best things about Hanley, she makes sure that “It’s not about being perfect, or even good, it’s just about being better.” 

In Rhode Island, Hanley cites her experience with What Cheer Writer’s Club being incredibly meaningful, from their podcast showcase night, to recording her podcast in their studio pre-pandemic. Right now, Kate is working on a quiz to help answer the question, “Am I a bad person?” Though, she laughs and says that it is lighthearted, and won’t hurt. She reassures everyone, “You have an untapped capacity for goodness.”  

Hanley has thrived as a writer, and a podcaster, and she says something so incredibly profound about all of us, collectively, as humans: “You don’t have to jump into the deep end for it to be meaningful or to change your reality.” 

Maybe the first start is reading a book, or listening to a short podcast. 

I know I can recommend one. 

How to Be a Better Person the book is available on Amazon, but please remember to support your local bookstores. Kate’s podcast How to Be a Better Person can be found on all major podcast platforms and at beabetterpersonpodcast.com. You can find out more about Kate and her work at katehanley.com.

Have a Rhode Islander in mind that you think everyone should know? Please reach out to our author on Instagram @caitlinmoments.

Legendary Gossip: A conversation with Karina Longworth of You Must Remember This

You Must Remember This Logo Designed by Teddy Blanks

As podcasts continue to enjoy a Renaissance, one of the most consistently excellent by far is “You Must Remember This.” With writing and narration by the show’s creator, Karina Longworth, the series that takes a look at Hollywood’s last century has become a must-listen for any film fanatic. Seasons focusing on everything from the Manson murders to Hollywood Babylon are addictive deep dives that feature meticulous research and a wry sense of humor that helps cut through the sometimes sordid underbelly of the place where movie magic occurs.

The podcast has been voted as one of the Best of the Year by Rolling Stone, Vulture, Teen Vogue, and Time Magazine. It also won the 2021 Best TV & Film Podcast from I Heart Radio.

Longworth received rave reviews for her book Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood and she recently co-hosted the “It’s the Pictures That Got Small” podcast with Nate DiMeo.

Her latest foray into Hollywood’s Golden Age is called Gossip Girls. It examines the lives of columnists and original influencers Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper.

Longworth spoke to Motif contributor Kevin Broccoli about the success of “You Must Remember This,” her acclaimed season dedicated to the life of Polly Platt, and her process for creating one of the most celebrated podcasts of the past decade.

Kevin Broccoli (Motif): It’s been great to see the podcast evolve over the years from these singular stories to seasons that take a deeper look at some of these periods in Hollywood. When you’re thinking of what to cover in a season, are you going back to previous episodes with an eye on finding a story that could be further examined?

Karina Longworth: It’s kind of the opposite. I really try not to do anything that’s too much like things I’ve done before, but then, sometimes when you’re in the middle of researching something, you discover that something might touch on Citizen Kane, which was talked about in previous episodes, but I think I can tell the story in a different way, but that’s it. I don’t look to the back catalogue for inspiration for new episodes. I just try to figure out what I can commit six-to-nine months of my life to without getting bored.

KB: One of the things I’ve always talked about when I would tell friends about the show early on was the incredible amount of research that you do. When you’re doing that research, are you keeping tangible notes that you can refer back to? Are there moments when you go back to a certain book or reference point that’s proved useful?

KL: Yeah, I buy books so I can reference books I already have, but it’s not like I have a master notes document or anything. If I’m writing something and it touches on something I’ve covered before, I kind of have to do the research again.

KB: You’ve said on Twitter that after this current season, you already know what the next season is going to look like. Do you ever work on two ideas at the same time, or do you have to focus on one thing before you can move on to something new?

KL: I would love to work on one thing at a time, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Over the past few months, in addition to trying to finish the “Gossip Girls” season, I’ve also been working on a different podcast project that is not “You Must Remember This,” and that has been very onerous in terms of the research and the labor involved. I’m trying to finish my work on that soon so I can go back and make a second season of “YMRT” this year. It’s very difficult to go back and forth between two different topics, because every time you switch, you have to re-immerse yourself.

KB: I was grateful for the podcast you did with Nate DiMeo from “The Memory Palace (It’s the Pictures That Got Small)” at the height of the pandemic, because even though everything was shut down, I know how much you have going on. It was really lovely. The very first episode, the movie theater Nate chose to donate to — The Avon Cinema — is my local movie theater.

KL: Thank you. I think that podcast was fun to do as sort of a social thing that we could do one night a week. Then it got to be so that we couldn’t always schedule it at the same time. It just got to be a little too much. But it was nice, as time went on, when we weren’t able to see friends or go to the movies, to try and replicate that one evening a week.

KB: As the podcast has gotten bigger and bigger in its popularity, one of the things I love about listening to it is that it still feels like this wonderful secret. Has the popularity of it affected how you create it, or do you try to zone that out as you’re working on it?

KL: I don’t know what there would be to zone out. It’s been about the same level of popularity since maybe late 2017? It sort of plateaued there. I don’t really make enough money off of it to turn it into a corporation or anything. It’s still very handmade in a lot of ways. I don’t think about the popularity when I’m making it, and then it’s finished. Then it becomes, Oh god, now I have to try and get people to listen to it. Every time that feels daunting, and every time I’m surprised people want to listen. The third episode came out this week, and I didn’t want to look at the download numbers from the past three weeks. I thought, Nobody’s going to be listening. It’s just going to make me sad. I finally looked at the download numbers this week, and it’s doing great. It’s doing better than the last season. I could never get in the mindset of working from a position of success.

KB: Last season you were working on a story from a totally different time period. Are those time jumps from season-to-season intentional? Do you find yourself thinking about exploring a different era after spending so much time in another one?

KL: I do think about it. I get so much feedback from listeners on that. I don’t know that I’d ever want to do two seasons that were about the same span of years, but I had an idea that I wanted to pursue that would have been more ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and the feedback I got from listeners was that — well, there is definitely a segment of the listenership that is what I call the Old TCM Audience — who believe that anything that happens in Hollywood after 1965 doesn’t count. I think that segment of the audience was like, “Okay, you had your fun, but let’s bring it back to the core of classic Hollywood.” And so, you know, I’m very interested in that era as well. The decades of Hollywood history that I’m most interested in are in the 1930s and 1950s, so I’m happy to do it, but I will probably — eventually — do that idea that’s more ’70s, ’80s, ’90s as well.

KB: What I love about listening is that even when I think I have a handle on the topic, I learn so much from how you structure the podcast. I know when you did the Bogie/Bacall episodes, the structure of the way you set up covering them was so interesting. It wasn’t so much about the story you were telling, but the way you told it. Have you ever had filmmakers or writers or playwrights reach out to you about adaptations?

KL: There’s been a lot of interest. The way deals work, for every hundred people who are interested, maybe one deal actually goes through. I did sell the rights to the Manson season. There was a writers room. Two scripts were produced. A showrunner was hired, and the take that they settled on was very different from the podcast season. The network that bought it passed on it. When the rights revert back to me, maybe I’ll try to find somebody else to work with on it and make it more faithful to the podcast. Nothing else has gotten as far as that. I am working right now with Polly’s daughters, a showrunner, and my producing partner to try and sell a show based on the [Polly Platt: The Invisible Woman] season.

KB: That was such an incredible season. I’ll admit that when you started it, I didn’t know that much about her. I felt embarrassed as someone listening to it, and as someone who loves movies, because I felt like I should have known more about her.

KL: Don’t be too hard on yourself. The thing about the way that film studies — or even celebrity studies — works is that it’s really easy to appreciate a performer, it’s slightly less easy to appreciate a director or writer, and then from there, it goes down to producer, studio executive… With Polly, she did so many things, she never stayed in one lane, but the thing that she did the most was production design. There aren’t any celebrity production designers. Most people with a general knowledge of movies don’t even know what that is. Even people with a deeper knowledge of cinema usually don’t get around to appreciating a production designer, because there are so many actors and directors and writers to talk about. I think that’s one reason Polly’s story has never been sold. Certainly when I was trying to sell a book on her unpublished memoir the feedback I got was, “Nobody’s ever heard of this lady and nobody’s going to care.” I think part of that is misogyny, but part of it is because it’s very difficult to explain why she’s important in one sentence.

KB: It was also interesting to hear about a woman in Hollywood who was not a perfect mother, but a beloved mother. Someone who had problems and struggles, but when you look back, their children have nice things to say about them. I thought you painted this beautiful portrait of her as being very complex, but ultimately somebody that deserved a lot better in terms of their legacy and how they’re remembered.

KL: That’s something that people who have no connection to Hollywood can connect to. A lot of us have parents who maybe failed us in ways or traumatized us in ways, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love them and celebrate what was good about them.

KB: When you first approach a topic, is there a moment when you say, “I need to make sure there’s enough here for me to dig into?

KL: For the Polly season, I wasn’t worried about it, because I knew I had the unpublished memoir, so that was material that I was lucky enough to be able to share with people for the first time. Then it was a question of finding people who knew her to ask the questions that the memoir didn’t answer. For every season, the questions are — What are the published materials? What can I get access to? What can I bring to the story? And will it sustain itself over multiple episodes? Will it sustain my interest over multiple months? There are certainly ideas that I’ve had for seasons that didn’t come together, because it didn’t hit that combination of things.

KB: There’s something about you reading certain quotes from Hollywood celebrities that I really enjoy. When you bring in other actors to do voices, how do you decide when that will enhance the storytelling?

KL: I think it’s just fun to change it up and to have a varied array of voices on the show. I knew it was really important in the Polly season to have her memoir read by someone other than me, because it was going to be so much of the show, and I wanted to make a clear differentiation between what I was writing and saying and what she was writing and saying. In this current season, I just thought that these were two juicy parts, and it would be fun to get comedians to do it. The way that came together was that Julie Klausner and I are friends and have been friends for years. When I was writing it I thought she would be so funny as Hedda Hopper, but then when I talked to her about it, I showed her the scripts, and she chose to play Louella instead. So I thought, Who am I going to get for Hedda?  I talked to [Klausner] about it, and she suggested Cole Escola, who [Klausner] had worked with on “Difficult People.” I thought, What a get that would be. And they wanted to do it. I was very happy.

KB: When I saw what the season was going to be about, I was thrilled, because this topic has a certain amount of inherent fun in it, but I also — while knowing who these two columnists are — always thought of them as interchangeable. As the season has gone on, I’m struck by just how different they were. Do you think that’s a misconception as we move further away from their era? This idea that they were one and the same?

KL: Yeah, I think that they’re often spoken of in the same breath. Even I, with a deep knowledge of most of this, would sometimes get confused as to which was which. In Hail Caesar!, they play on that idea by making the only two gossip columnists twins played by Tilda Swinton. It reinforces this idea that they were identical. Discovering just how different they were played a big role in how I structured the season. In the past, when I’ve done things like Bela and Boris or Jean and Jane, I’ve either tried to combine the stories into one episode — half Jean, half Jane — or alternating a Jean episode and a Jane episode. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to do something like that on this season because Louella had a 20-year head-start on Hedda. Even though it gets more fun when Hedda enters the story, I thought it was more important to give Louella time for those 20 years, and help people understand how established she was, and how she really didn’t see this challenge to her supremacy coming.

KB: I’m struck by how different their motivations were. I think a lot about people who pursue work they want to do and become famous as a result versus the TikTok culture of pursuing fame and trying to determine what kind of work will get you there. That’s something that was on my mind as I was listening to the last episode, because it almost seems as though you had that playing out in these two people as well.

KL: Certainly Louella thought of herself as a real journalist. She covered trials. She covered human interest stories. She wrote about things other than Hollywood gossip. Whereas Hedda couldn’t have cared less about being a journalist. She was just looking for a way to stay in the inner circle of Hollywood. To continue to be a celebrity or be a bigger celebrity than she was. As much as I think both of these women are, to some extent, evil, there is something that I find empathetic about Louella’s struggle to just hold onto this position that she had carved out for herself. It really is much more difficult for me to be empathetic about Hedda, because I think she was so much worse as a person, but there is something about the way she reinvented herself.

KB: For me, as a listener, there’s something more fun about Hedda. Maybe it’s because she’s so aware of her shortcomings. I love hearing that she felt every year she didn’t have to go skulking back to her hometown was a victory for her. The way I perceived it, she wasn’t this cocky person who came in with all this bravado, it was more, “I’m going to do what I have to do to survive.”

KL: That’s true. Her writing is also funnier, because it’s bitchier. But she really is, on balance, more evil. And maybe that’ll become clearer as the season goes on. With Louella, her conservatism is grounded in her Catholicism. With Hedda, it’s more grounded in racism.

KB: In the most recent episode, there was a moment that jumped out at me, where you compared the dynamic between Louella and Hedda to that of the candidates in the 2016 election. I found that interesting, because as someone who’s listened to the podcast from the beginning, it’s not often that you point out something like that so overtly. Is that parallel something that stood out to you when you began working on this current season?

KL: I don’t remember to be honest. I don’t remember when I stumbled onto that metaphor.

KB: Do you think that any of these celebrities they were intersecting with had any real friendships with the two of them or was it all transactionary?

KL:  I think Louella was friends with some of these people. I don’t know about Marion Davies. I think Marion Davies was manipulating her to a large extent. But I think she had some real relationships, whereas with Hedda, it seemed like she never had a real relationship with anyone in her life, including her son. Later in the season, I’m going to talk about some of the people who came after them like Sheilah Graham and Rona Barrett. Both of whom had to deal with this question of, “How close do you get to the stars?” Is it worth sacrificing personal relationships to go further in your career? And how do you deal with this idea of conflict of interest? I think we have a much stricter idea of conflict of interest today than anybody had then. Back then it was considered to be good journalism to go out to drinks with your subjects in any field. Whereas now, you go out for too many drinks and you end up feeling compromised, because you don’t want to report the truth about somebody anymore.

KB: It just seems exhausting with all of these people trying to manipulate each other, but with everybody ultimately wanting the same result — which was coverage.

KL: It’s also a little bit of. “Look at me, don’t look at me.” Sometimes I don’t fully understand something until I get to the end of the research, and I’ll read something that colors something unexpectedly. In this case, in the last episode of this season, Louella and Hedda die, and I talk about what happened in gossip from the 1960s until today. I was writing about the founding of People Magazine. What People realized was that celebrities didn’t have anyone to confess things to at that point in history. If People gave them a place to confess things on the star’s own terms, they would get all these big stars for the covers of their magazines, but they would also have to stop the stars from revealing too much, because the stars were desperate to talk, and they sometimes didn’t understand how things would look in print. So a lot of what People did was not about killing stories based on what a publicist wanted, but having a certain kind of clairvoyance as to how a celebrity really wanted to see themselves. When I learned about that, I was able to go back to the story about Mary Pickford’s divorce and the lunch with Louella, and see that even if Mary Pickford was feeding her that story, somebody who was savvier about this situation than Louella, who wanted to keep that relationship with Mary, would have thought, How is Mary going to feel when this is in print? How can I shape this so she feels the best?

KB: Yeah, I was wondering what would be that era’s version of a Notes App apology? All the versions I could think of would be in the middle of a murder trial. There wasn’t a direct channel to your fans. Those opportunities didn’t exist.

KL: The closest people had was feeding a story to Louella.

KB: Before I let you go, is there a particular movie you’ve seen recently that you really enjoyed?

KL: I haven’t really been watching movies so much lately, because I’ve been so busy with work. At the end of the day, I just don’t have much of an attention span. This season, there is an episode about Harriet Parsons, who was Louella’s daughter. She was a film producer, one of the few female producers of the ’40s and ’50s in Hollywood. I watched all of her movies, and for me, the big discovery was this movie Night Song, where Merle Oberon falls in love with a blind pianist, and then she has to pretend that she’s blind. It’s incredible. It was a real shock, not just how good it was, and how satisfying it was as kind of a romance about false identities, but also, the whole thing is built around this musical performance at the end, which is really kind of stunning and beautiful. It’s readily available. I definitely suggest you check that out.

To listen to all episodes of You Must Remember This or to learn more about the podcast, go to  youmustrememberthispodcast.com

Between the Notes: Kat Kiley at The Parlour

Kat Kiley

Kat Kiley, with a soulful tone similar to artists like Jewel or Miranda Lambert, recently brought her own brand of alternative music to The Parlour as part of Motif’s Between the Notes podcast. Kiley’s skilled acoustic guitar playing is accompanied by lyrics that are equal parts relatable and poetic, and her emotions shine through the darkness that haunts everyone sometimes. In this interview excerpt, she shares a bit about her musical journey both as an artist and as a member of her band the Young Guns, and talks about what it’s like being a part of the music scene in Block Island and Providence.

Skylar Batz (Motif): You and I have known each other for a quite a while, and this is going all the way back to Girls Rock – or, Riot, now. It’s been a while, and I’m standing over there singing your songs. And I’ve heard this song at least 150 times – at least! How does that make you feel when people are singing your words?

KK: It’s crazy! I hope to hear it more. Like the feedback on my first EP was amazing, and I didn’t expect anyone to listen to it at all. My aunt was saying she was listening to it in the car with her husband, and he was like, “Who’s singing this song? It sounds really good.” And she was like, “This is Kat.” And he was like, “Oh my god, what?” And it was crazy that I come up on people’s Spotify discover – it’s so wild to see. 

SB: Yeah, I love when you’re walking down the street and people are like “Oh, you did that thing!” And you’re like “Yeah – that one. I did that one.”

KK: I’ve been working and singing with a band on Block Island during the summer ever since I was 14, and I get that a lot there while I’m waiting tables – because I work so many jobs out there. I’ll be in a big rush and they’ll be like, “Aren’t you the girl that sings down the street? Are you old enough to be working here?” And I’ll be like, “Yes, I can assure you.”

SB: Is it different playing at shows here than on Block Island?

KK: Yes, I feel like on Block Island, people come and wanna hear the kinds of songs they want to hear. The kind of people are usually there for only a week, so it’s kind of part of their ritual for staying on Block Island. But I think when I play out in Providence on the mainland, people aren’t coming expecting to hear something from me. So I have more freedom to play whatever I want.

SB: How do you find your creative aspect? Like “No Man’s Land,” where did that come from?

KK: “No Man’s Land” is the first song I ever wrote – ever. I was in high school, and my friends were in a big fight, and I was at the same time, learning about World War I. And I felt like I was in the middle of the fight, and I was watching a documentary about World War I (because I had to), and they were talking about how No Man’s Land is the part that’s in between the two sides of fighting, and it got totally decimated. It’s the part that was the worst – like nothing grows there anymore. And that’s kind of how it feels to be in the middle of a fight between any two groups of people. It was like “I love you both, and I don’t want to hurt either of you. And I know you don’t want to hurt me, but this is hurting me so much.” And for me, even though it’s kind of a small, childish situation, it lent itself to be more in the way that I think about it. It can apply to a relationship – or lots of other things. 

Listen to music by Kat Kiley on Spotify HERE: https://open.spotify.com/artist/78a4OFsFIPR47QWKv9WItm?si=Gxu0l6jRRli5CyOVJlBFug. Find Behind the Music on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Between the Notes: Chase Green at The Parlour

Chase Greene is a local rapper who recently appeared at the Parlour in support of his new EP East Coast Baby to chat with Motif as part of our podcast, Between the Notes. With slick rhythms and clear rhyme schemes, Chase seeks to bring positive messages to the local scene by changing the narrative of the typical rap song. He also talks about what led him to music, including his history in dance and other artistic avenues. Read below for an excerpt from his conversation with Hakeem.

Hakeem Kushimo (Motif): You told me you had a bit of a dance history before the music even started. Wanna tell me a little bit about that?

Chase Greene: Yes, so ever since I was young, I performed with Mary Paula – she’s from Providence, actually. She used to teach ballet. And it was a ballet contemporary dance company, and I used to be like, the boy in The Polar Express. So I performed at a few venues – like Nordstrom’s in the mall, which is hilarious. But I also performed at Nathan Bishop Middle School and Hope High School, and I fell in love with the stage. Literally, since I could remember. Like the first time being on stage, I just felt in my energy, in my zone – like fully complete. It’s just being able to let go of everything and be yourself on stage. It’s a whole different feeling that I’ve literally never felt anywhere. That and in the booth, recording music. That’s it – it’s crazy.

HK: I feel that! So were you always musically inclined, or was there a moment where you were like “I kinda wanna try this”? How did that come about?

CG: Yes, so music has definitely resonated with me my entire life, for sure. But one of my biggest inspirations is actually my father, and he’s actually here right now. 

HK: Shout out to Pops!

CG: Yes sir, shout out to Pops! But I’ve always been surrounded by all different kinds of genres. Like I said in my music, I studied other genres from the past. You have to because you have to know the history of music, music theory – you have to know everything. So when I was growing up, my father was playing reggae, was doing jazz, classical – it was a whole lot of everything. So I got to find what I liked, and then I got introduced to hip-hop, and I was like, “Oh, this is crazy.” And then I started finding my flow, finding what I liked in music, and just started creating ever since.

Listen to East Coast Baby and other music by Chase Greene on Spotify HERE: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2V8DCRWV1WCfodzBx14N2W?si=Vu8SKZ-YQ4ON0r15V86fXA. Find Behind the Music on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Jack Downey Live at The Parlour

Jack Downey is a one-man band extraordinaire, with his new project Wave Goodbye based on a loop pedal, drum machine and a whole lot of talent. Since he began with lyrics even before learning an instrument, Jack’s poetry within these songs rivals greats like Bon Iver or Vance Joy. Still in college, Jack is a music student with big dreams and an even bigger imagination. Recently, he visited The Parlour for a set over livestream and an interview with Motif magazine’s own Hakeem Kushimo

Hakeem Kushimo: The style of music is pretty interesting! I’m that guy who, if I’m driving, and we’re listening to music, I’m gonna take you on a journey through old rap, new school rap, metal, everything. I don’t know what it is, I just go for different scales, I just like the way things sound – not really glued to any one genre. So I like everything you’re working with – the beat, the tempo, everything. It’s like a Beach Boys kind of vibe, just puts me in a good mood. The EP sounded great as well. How many tracks were on it, in total?

Jack Downey: On the digital version there’s seven, and on the tape version there’s eight. 

HK: Okay, that’s smart! Kind of an incentive to go with the old school. I like that! So you go to Providence College, right? Is the school doing any performances?

JD: So I’m part of the jazz band there, and they want to do a concert at the end of the year. The way things are going, it’s feasible that it can happen. Aside from that, though, the school ensembles aren’t planning any performances. So I want to talk to them about maybe an outdoor concert on campus, with maybe even some local acts around the campus. If I can get that off the ground, it’d be great. I don’t know if they’d go for it, but it’s probably worth a shot. 

HK: Now is definitely the time for you to start pushing for that as things are opening up, and we’re getting that sense of normalcy again. Every industry really felt the impact of the lockdown, but the arts in Rhode Island definitely felt it a lot, too, just because we weren’t able to get together with more than 10 to 15 different people. But this is nice — even though it’s a small venue, you were able to do your thing, and it looked really good on the stream end. So as a musician, how long have you been doing this?

JD: I’ve been writing music since probably around fifth or sixth grade. Picked up the guitar in seventh grade. The Wave Goodbye sets with the looping and everything like that is definitely more recent. Senior year, because I got a loop pedal for Christmas and that’s when I thought maybe I could start taking this on the road. I’ve been playing in bands since sophomore year of high school.

HK: Nice! And I’m glad you brought that up, because when I listened to the music before, it was awesome. But seeing you actually perform it kinda intrigued me a bit, because I like that you’re a one-man band essentially, with the equipment that you have here. And it’s nice to have your drummer and your band, but you’re kind of like the Thanos – the trifecta. You do everything on your own, and that’s really neat to see! You don’t have to rely on anybody to get your content out – you can do your own thing and be creative. And like you said, you can take your stuff on the road with you. It’s really cool to see you work with that, and put together a whole composition on your own. I thought you had a whole team, or whatever. Or you were doing it from a computer. But to see you do it live was actually really cool. In the grand scheme of things as an artist, what’s your goal? Are you trying to perform at a certain venue, or are you looking to get a job with music? At what point in your music career will you think you’ve made it? That you’re happy with what you’re doing with it, and this is what you wanna do?

JD: That’s a good question. What I want most is to perform and make enough money doing that, then I can call it a living. I’m not gonna be like U2 big, or anything like that. But I want to be able to sustain myself while I’m doing this so I’m not constantly losing money. I want people to listen to my music. People have actually been buying the tapes. I actually just did an Instagram ad campaign, and someone actually bought a tape from that – which is pretty crazy to see. This is the first time I’ve ever put one of Wave Goodbye’s EPs on tape. So the reception that’s it’s gotten is pretty cool. But I’d say, there’s a lot of different aspects of music that interest me. I like to play it – obviously. I like to write about it – I do a music column for the school paper. I go to shows and take photos, as well as set up concerts. So there’s a lot of different avenues in music that I really enjoy. I’m majoring in music tech and production, so I’m trying to learn more about mixing and mastering as well. That’s always cost me a lot of money – so at the very least, doing all that myself so I don’t have to pay anyone to do that. 

Hear the rest of this interview on The Parlour’s Facebook page, or listen to Motif Between the Notes wherever you get your podcasts, and stream music by Wave Goodbye on Spotify HERE: https://open.spotify.com/artist/54Jc7j7K2YgiD1jaNMdVU4?si=pT-sBEpDQIiCErsFcO5g7A

Tapes and music also available on Bandcamp HERE: https://wavegoodbye.bandcamp.com/album/summer