The thought of Outside Lands is a breath of fresh air compared to other 2016 music festivals.
Lacking the sweltering heat and EDM-heavy, hip-hop-pop-filled lineups that so many of these other three-day events provide to their thousands of music and party-loving consumers, San Francisco-based Outside Lands brings a slew of folk, dream pop and low-key alternative acts (Radiohead, Lana Del Rey, Ryan Adams, Sufjan Stevens, Beach House, Lord Huron, Foals, Diiv, to name a few) to its stages, with additional performers who also bring on a much “softer” vibe.
The festival has always boasted a much mellower ambiance–with the exception of 2014’s Kanye West-headlining year.
I haven’t been to Outside Lands since 2012, so it will be interesting to see if it still remains living up to the hype of this post. While I anticipate this year’s experience, I figure I may as well pull up my picks of five acts I absolutely must see at the festival (in no particular order):
Radiohead is among the few truly iconic acts on the bill this year (can’t discredit Lionel Richie and Duran Duran). Fresh from their latest May album release A Moon Shaped Pool, the brooding band is likely to perform new material, while bringing on all of the nostalgia attached to their collection of melodic classics.
I’d be lying if I said that I’m particularly fond of Miike Snow’s last two albums (iii and Happy to You), but perhaps that’s because the Swedish electronic trio set the bar so incredibly high with their 2009 self-titled debut. Their biggest fans resonate most with that first set of songs, so there’s no doubt in my mind that a strong selection of throwback sounds will make their way to the stage.
If you attended high school in the late ’90s or watched pretty much any high school-based film or TV show during that time period, you are most definitely familiar with TEB. To this day, their self-titled debut album is one of my absolute favorites of all time. Sure, they had five chart-topping singles from the 14-track compilation, but the emotionally charged album is incredible all the way from start to finish. Even following that release, their further releases continued to be enjoyable, and I’ve always admired how they never changed their sound over the years.
Three words to describe this NYC-based duo: disco-infused deliciousness. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this electro act live a handful of times, and their music has the most upbeat energy. I’m obsessed with pretty much everything they’ve put out there from day one until now, and I’ve got no doubt that they will get the mellow festival-goers on their feet!
Jean-Philip Grobler (St. Lucia) was pretty much my 2015 soundtrack to that oh-so-lovely, long walk from the Uber drop-off to the Coachella entrance. Yes, it was unfortunate that I wasn’t front and center to watch such an incredible act perform, but I definitely got an earful (in the best way possible) regardless. It will certainly be exciting to see him live this time, even though I’ve already heard him live in the past.
To top things off, O’Connell has been in a committed relationship for four years, and admittedly goes to “desperate measures” for his ladylove, who currently lives on the other side of the country.
Thriving at such a young age, it only made sense that skyelyfe chatted with this young man to hear about everything from Glee’s audition and filming process, to growing up as an aspiring actor in L.A., to more or less worshipping Kesha as an artist.
Keep reading to learn more about this hard-working superstar on-the-rise.
skyelyfe: Tell me about your experience filming Glee.
Finneas O’Connell: It was pretty crazy. I’m 18 now, and I was 11 when Glee started. I remember at a pretty young age that Glee was such a huge show. Everyone was either watching Glee or making pop-culture references to it. It was a topical thing … It was great and super fun. It was kind of a crazy time to start. The show was wrapping up, and it was a great thing to be there and witness all of that. I was only on four episodes and it became my whole life for like two-and-a-half months. It’s such an incredibly intense show to be on. You’re doing like three-hour dance rehearsals in the morning, then you show up for a whole day, then you do a recording session at night. There were huge days and the crew was so professional and good at what they do. As a film nerd, any time I wasn’t on camera, I was standing over in video village, just watching the crew do their jobs because they were so good at it. Being on Glee was the biggest thing I’ve ever gotten to do.
SL: What was the audition process like?
FO: I auditioned for Glee for the first time when I was 16. That was in 2013. I put myself on tape and sang a song. A couple months later, I auditioned again at the casting office. That was just a singing audition. I think I sang a Bruno Mars song. And then a month later, I went back and did an on-camera audition. I didn’t get that either, and then a couple months later I went back in for another little part on the show, and that audition was really fun, but I didn’t get that part either. And the fifth time they called me to audition, I kind of wrote it off. I was just sort of like, “Why are they even calling me?” I remember singing like a Green Day song, and because of the nature of that final season, it went very quickly. I think they called me to tell me I’d gotten the part two days after I’d auditioned. And then the next day I had a wardrobe session, and the next day I started filming.
SL: Who did you especially bond with from the cast?
FO: I was coming on kind of as a loner, and so it was really great to have the [sixth season cast], who I think still think felt kind of new, compared to everyone who had been on the show for years. They still felt kind of like the new kids on the block. So they were sort of my gateway into the cast. Everyone on the show was so welcoming, but I think they had the same vibe that I did, and I think that’s really important.
Noah Guthrie is a really incredible songwriter. We talked about music. We talked about our favorite producers and our favorite mixing engineers and our approach to records. That was really cool. And I think Samuel Larsen is so cool. He’s so talented and he’s such a good drummer. I only got to spend like a day-and-a-half with him, but I talked to him the whole time that day and thought he was so cool. I want to play his brother in a film.
SL: You’ve been quoted saying if you could collaborate with anyone, it would be Kesha. Why is that?
FO: I started listening to Kesha when I was 13, and as a songwriter, I’ve always been really interested in people who say stuff that’s never been said before. It’s hard to do that, but whenever anyone manages to say something differently than I’ve ever heard said before, that always makes me super happy. And Kesha can say anything and make it work in a song. I’ve always been sort of interested in female-fronted pop songs. I love Kesha, Lana Del Rey, Katy Perry. That’s kind of been my M.O. since I was little. I’ve always loved Aly and AJ. Kesha’s super melodic, and her hooks are [amazing]. I love her aesthetic and her glitter-pop. I think it’s so cool.
The song “Past Lives” is all Kesha. No one co-wrote that song with her. It was just her writing, and I think that’s probably my favorite Kesha song ever. I think it’s just a cool song. I haven’t met her, but I’ve met a bunch of people who have met her, and they all confirm the stories that she’s just as interesting and eccentric and fun and nice as she is in interviews, so I hope one day I get to meet her.
SL: Tell me about The Slightlys’ new music
FO: We went into the studio in April to record a couple of songs. We made four songs, and they’re all kind of about a relationship set in the city of Los Angeles, and being a young adult and trying to figure out who you are as a person and who other people are. It’s a lot of self-discovery. The song we just put out, “Desperate Measures,” kind of [explores] that feeling where you fall in love with someone and it’s not a super healthy feeling because you’re kind of insane for someone. When you’re in love with someone, what could be better than spending time waiting in line and getting yelled at, at the DMV with them? You want to spend time with that person. It’s about flying across the country to visit that person.
SL: Are you in a relationship?
FO: Yeah, I’m dating a girl who goes to school in New York City, and we’ve been going out for almost four years now.
SL: So, is this song inspired by her?
FO: Oh, totally. Yeah. I remember our drummer calling me one time and he was watching his girlfriend walk down a parade this one time. And he was like, “I understand what ‘Desperate Measures’ is about!” It’s self-examination and being aware that what you’re doing is maybe ridiculous and maybe not the most practical use of time, but it’s all you really want to be doing. You wouldn’t want to be at home doing something else.
SL: Tell me a little about how your experience has been growing up in L.A.
FO: Growing up in L.A. is an interesting phenomenon. I don’t think a lot of people that end up here started here, and I think vice versa. I think a lot of people who start here travel across the country. Growing up in L.A. was helpful in a lot of ways because as an actor, especially, a lot of what being an actor is, is driving to the Westside and trying to find parking for 15 minutes, and going in and waiting for 45 minutes to do a two-page audition, and then coming out with a parking ticket, and then you sit in traffic for an hour to get home. That’s not what the billboards say acting is going to be. I don’t think that’s your idea of, “Oh yeah, I want to be an actor. I want to do that.” And rightfully so. It’s pretty boring.
My parents were both actors, and because I grew up in L.A., when I was little, I’d just go to auditions with my parents. It always seemed like fun to me. I was sort of a dummy about it. I thought even the crappy parts of being an actor seemed like fun. Growing up in L.A., I was always like, “Mom, I want to be an actor,” and she was like, “Do you really want to be an actor?” Being an actor doesn’t mean getting to be on Glee. Being an actor means working really hard and going to hundreds of auditions and not booking anything. Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get on four episodes of Glee. I’m super lucky and so grateful.
There’s a lot of opportunity to feel really lonely in L.A. because it’s a car-based city. A lot of the time, I’m just driving around kind of isolated. But it’s also a very communal city in a lot of ways. I’ve been a vegan for a few years, and wow, you can get some really good food out here. There’s a vegan donut place near me [near Eagle Rock] called Donut Friendand there are so many live music venues. As a music nerd, there’s nothing better than being able to go see any band you’ve ever heard of.
You may have heard The Good Mad perform on former ABC Family showThe Lying Game, but if not, the trio – which is formed by the program’s actors Allie Gonino and Adam Brooks, along with Andy Fischer-Price – just released their third EP, Face Your Feels, with five new alternative-folk tracks to get familiar with.
The trio, which hails from Dallas, Nashville and Seattle, respectively, chatted with skyelyfe, sharing insight into the songs on their latest effort and their thoughts on pop music and the possibility of breaking into the mainstream.
skyelyfe: How does this EP differ from the others you guys have released?
Allie Gonino: There’s more production with this EP. It’s not just us playing the instruments. We have two producers who we worked with, who are collectively known as Yell for Help. They produced it and made it feel like a meatier, bigger record. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s more overall upbeat, it’s just fuller.
SL: What is the influence behind this EP?
Adam Brooks: Mike and FannPappas (Yell for Help) approached us. They had studio time and we were all in town together. They work in a studio and they had a studio open and the stars aligned. We were all kind of ready to go. It was definitely time to record something new for The Good Mad.
Andy Fischer-Price: A lot of the time we recorded, I feel like we were all listening to a good amount of Father John Misty. I don’t know that [our EP] sounds like Father John Misty, but –.
AG: We all kind of wrote the songs separately except for “No Time to Talk.” Andy and Adam collaborated on that one. The inspiration came from I think a bunch of different things, but specifically for “Dark Waters,” I just had a conversation with Adam about getting outside your comfort zone. To live means to take risks and shake things up, move and break your patterns. It was also inspired by swimming in the ocean for the first time in 10 years and being scared of sharks. But [overall], because we did the songs separately, they kind of came from different nucleuses.
SL: Do you guys want commercial pop success, or do you want to keep your fan base more indie?
AB: We want to stay authentic to ourselves, so if that includes some cool pop success, I think we’re all for it. But I don’t think we want to sacrifice anything by going for it.
AFP: We definitely want to sell records. If we made it into the top 40 due to record sales, that’s not a problem. But I don’t think we want to [alter our sound].
SL: And as far as your sound is concerned, do you want to keep things folky-alternative, or would you ever go alternative-pop?
AG: I think we’re trying to create and establish our own thing. The important thing is to write a good song. If you write a good song, you’ll have a better chance of it becoming popular. But at this point, I still love playing the violin, and I’m playing the autoharp on this record as well, and we have the yuke. Our base is still folk, but we’ve definitely pulled in some electronic influence, if you will. We’re trying to blend the two together in a way.
AB: But in the same way, we’re not aggressively trying to sound super pop. I don’t think we’re trying to sound super folky either. That’s just sort of a niche that we had been in. I’m not afraid to write songs that fit within it, but at the same time, we’re just enjoying expanding creatively and using the influences of everything that is current and past to come up with our own cool, fun, authentic stuff.
SL: When you think of music on the radio right now, who do you respect as artists, whether it’s songwriting, producing, singing and so forth?
AG: I really like and respect Bruno Mars. I think Sam Smith is just a phenomenal talent. I love Pharrell [Williams]. I love Lana Del Rey.
SL: How did you guys end up with your group name?
AFP: We were trying to come up with a name and we saw something spray painted on a bridge in Austin that said “The only ones for me are the mad ones,” and I know that’s a quote from [Jack] Kerouac‘s On the Road, and it’s always been a cool book to me. I thought about that and it led to The Good Mad, the good kind of crazy. Like Alice in Wonderland, we’re all mad here!
SL: How did you guys end up forming your trio?
AG: We were in a different band in L.A., but it didn’t last, and pretty much all of the other band members from that band moved back to their hometowns and we were the three remaining pals. We continued to write and play together.
AG: Chet Pratt, the creator of The Lying Game, asked if I had any music I wanted to play on the show and I told him my friends and I were making music. Adam auditioned for the role of Baz and booked it and then they came to Austin and that’s where we came up with the band name. That’s the basically the genesis. We are a real band!
AB: We’d be making music even if it were just in a living room. So the fact that our music has an audience is an awesome thing, and we’re grateful.
AG: And we’re also trying to plan a tour for later this summer.
AFP: We’re going to be touring with a cool soul singer Molly Durand, who we’ve all been friends with for a long time in L.A. in the music scene here. She has a single right now called “You Can’t Hide” that was featured on the The X-Factor. And we’re also touring with Yell for Help, the same guys who produced our new EP.
Check out the group’s new EP, including its debut single “Adelaide:”
Cedric Gervais recently got himself into a bit of a mess – but for all the right reasons!
The electronic dance musician, recently best known for his Grammy-winning remix of Lana Del Rey‘s “Summertime Sadness,” just released the ENDS-produced music video for “Love Again,” his melodic collaboration with singer Ali Tamposi. The black and white video features a slew of people dancing and tossing paint everywhere. Amidst the paint throwers, Gervais and Tamposi sit in agony over what is portrayed as their failed relationship. Finally, at the end, they get caught up in the paint action as well – a shooting experience Gervais says “wasn’t too pleasant,” but still “fun” nonetheless.
Skyelyfe caught up with the regularly touring French producer, who talked about how the song came to be, working with Tamposi (whose lengthy credits including writing Kelly Clarkson‘s “Stronger”) and keeping the video “classy,” unlike “a lot of the cheesy videos out there.”
skyelyfe: Obviously the message behind “Love Again” is clear, but what was the actual inspiration behind the song?
Cedric Gervais: I was working on new material, and I work with a lot of songwriters and they send me songs very basic that are written on piano or guitars. If I hear something [I like], I take it and I turn into in my world. So I went through a lot of songs and [when I heard “Love Again], I was like, “Wow, this is a major song and I want to take this song to the next level.” Ali’s voice is unbelievable. The way she’s writing is amazing.
SL: How did you and Ali end up teaming up on this song?
We got together through managers. We met and started working together, and she’s an amazing person – very fun to be around. Then we came up with the concept of the video and shot the video. It’s great to work with such great people.
SL: I love the video. It’s so much fun. Was that real paint?
It’s real paint. It wasn’t too pleasant, but it was a fun video to shoot. I have to give credit where credit is due. That was Ali’s concept from the beginning to the end of the video. She had a vision and just kind of rolled with it. It wasn’t something where we had scripts sent to us. The song meant so much to her, so I just let her vibe with it. We started at 6:00 a.m. and finished at midnight. I think the video is very classy. There are a lot of cheesy videos out there and I think this is a chic-looking video. I really like it.
SL: Can you explain more of the story in the video?
It starts out with the younger versions of ourselves. We’re two people who lost interest. We’re heartbroken, but when we were young, [things were different].
SL: What can we expect from you in 2015?
A lot of new music. I’ve been back in the studio. I want to win another Grammy, so I’ve got to get back to work! You can expect a lot of exciting stuff.