Now/It's: 2017 Interview Highlights

While Now/It's hasn't made it through a full three hundred and sixty-five days of existing in any capacity, as is the tradition with online publications, I figured it would be nice to take a moment and reminisce upon the 24 interviews Now/It's has been fortunate enough to feature from early June to late December of 2017. The inaugural year of a existing as a publication is imperceptibly confusing, as one must figure out the overall voice, tone, etc. of the publication on the fly. Admittedly, that was definitely easier said than done, and acting as writer, interviewer, photographer, editor, and social media manager was more trying a feat than anticipated.

Nevertheless, all that business fell by the wayside once sitting face to face with any and all of the great people Now/It's featured in 2017. In trying to set the tone for the site, each interview is conducted at various locales, face to face with the interviewee (because phone interviews are terrible), while recording typically happens before the interviewee arrives to be interviewed. It's a dynamic that is meant to invite a casual, conversational atmosphere, allowing for stream of consciousness thought to flow as freely as one may please.

Luckily for Now/It's, everyone that was kind enough to take the time to meet with me for anywhere between thirty minutes to an hour of unadulterated conversation and wherever it may lead was more than capable of maintaining a conversation with the greatest of ease, in turn making my job all the more easy and enjoyable.

This has been the most rewarding endeavor in my past year, and am entirely grateful for the willingness of those who took me up on my rambling email queries for conversation and coffee.

There are 24 interview for the year 2017, some of which you may have read, and others you might not have. Here are some highlights from each individual interview:

  Joseph Barrios   -  [On making music]  I think its important to make music unbounded and to really write for yourself before you consider what an audience is going to perceive what your music is really going to be. I’m at a really nice point right now because I’m a super new artist, so I haven’t really defined what my sound is yet, so it allows me to really try out a lot of new sounds.

Joseph Barrios - [On making music] I think its important to make music unbounded and to really write for yourself before you consider what an audience is going to perceive what your music is really going to be. I’m at a really nice point right now because I’m a super new artist, so I haven’t really defined what my sound is yet, so it allows me to really try out a lot of new sounds.

  D. Swick -   [On interacting with Nico Muhly]  I asked [Nico Muhly] “How can you write under a deadline and want to make something beautiful, but at the same time, if you don’t believe in the project - I didn’t know he was Anglican [laughs], he’s like a very devout Anglican - so if you’re writing all this religious music and you don’t believe in that project, what do you need to do in order for that to work?” Obviously, your name and your reputation matters, but besides that. To which he replied, “Well, other than the fact that I’m devoutly Anglican” - which he said in kind words, and a very beautiful way - he talked about music as a utility. Music serves a function the same way a handle serves a function - he actually challenged me to not get so idealistic with it - and he just said it serves the congregation to unite. It is beautiful, and it should serve the text, but really its serving the congregation. You look at it that way when you’re looking at hymns and things like that. Anyway… This is pretty tangent-y… but it was just really cool to hear his thoughts, and I was working on a piece for that symposium. It was an instrumental piece, and he gave me some feedback. Its cool when people you look up to are willing to do that stuff. It doesn’t happen that often.

D. Swick -  [On interacting with Nico Muhly] I asked [Nico Muhly] “How can you write under a deadline and want to make something beautiful, but at the same time, if you don’t believe in the project - I didn’t know he was Anglican [laughs], he’s like a very devout Anglican - so if you’re writing all this religious music and you don’t believe in that project, what do you need to do in order for that to work?” Obviously, your name and your reputation matters, but besides that. To which he replied, “Well, other than the fact that I’m devoutly Anglican” - which he said in kind words, and a very beautiful way - he talked about music as a utility. Music serves a function the same way a handle serves a function - he actually challenged me to not get so idealistic with it - and he just said it serves the congregation to unite. It is beautiful, and it should serve the text, but really its serving the congregation. You look at it that way when you’re looking at hymns and things like that. Anyway… This is pretty tangent-y… but it was just really cool to hear his thoughts, and I was working on a piece for that symposium. It was an instrumental piece, and he gave me some feedback. Its cool when people you look up to are willing to do that stuff. It doesn’t happen that often.

  Nick Byrd -  [On music history]    I love researching different musicians. I just love it. Its fulfilling for me, because I feel like I’m furthering myself and I feel like I have more tucked into my belt. Overall, I just feel more knowledgeable in my field. You can ask Grady [Wenrich], Sam [Gidley], Joseph [Barrios], Robbie [Jackson], anyone that really knows me - anytime I’m bored, I’m on my phone researching equipment, venues, everything. I recently read a lot about Woodstock, about the guy that designed the PA, and how it was one of the biggest PA’s of the day, and they didn’t have a problem with it the entire Woodstock weekend. It was a massive PA. This one guy engineered the whole thing, and it stood the test.

Nick Byrd - [On music history] I love researching different musicians. I just love it. Its fulfilling for me, because I feel like I’m furthering myself and I feel like I have more tucked into my belt. Overall, I just feel more knowledgeable in my field. You can ask Grady [Wenrich], Sam [Gidley], Joseph [Barrios], Robbie [Jackson], anyone that really knows me - anytime I’m bored, I’m on my phone researching equipment, venues, everything. I recently read a lot about Woodstock, about the guy that designed the PA, and how it was one of the biggest PA’s of the day, and they didn’t have a problem with it the entire Woodstock weekend. It was a massive PA. This one guy engineered the whole thing, and it stood the test.

  Jacqueline Justice  - [On photographing emerging artists]  Its also cool, because I like working with people who haven’t really established a brand yet, so there are fewer hands involved. When you get involved with people that have a big management company and booking agents and stuff, they already have an image in mind of what they want to be. So at that point, there are too many people. I try to make their image…

Jacqueline Justice - [On photographing emerging artists] Its also cool, because I like working with people who haven’t really established a brand yet, so there are fewer hands involved. When you get involved with people that have a big management company and booking agents and stuff, they already have an image in mind of what they want to be. So at that point, there are too many people. I try to make their image…

  Emma Hern  -   [On finding her Nashville community]  I mean, when I moved down here, I was with the same group of guys for so long, and then I started meeting [Jacqueline Justice], and  Jess Nolan , and  Katie Pruitt , and all of those girls. So at a certain point, we were all like “Wait a minute - we should just hang out.” So now we hang out whenever we get the chance. We all met up the other day, and we were all at Dino’s. Just us girls, as well as  Liz [Cooper]  who’s awesome too. And we just sort of looked around and thought, “This is awesome. We never do this, and this is so great, and so empowering.” That’s probably the biggest thing - swapping stories and being able to relate.

Emma Hern - [On finding her Nashville community] I mean, when I moved down here, I was with the same group of guys for so long, and then I started meeting [Jacqueline Justice], and Jess Nolan, and Katie Pruitt, and all of those girls. So at a certain point, we were all like “Wait a minute - we should just hang out.” So now we hang out whenever we get the chance. We all met up the other day, and we were all at Dino’s. Just us girls, as well as Liz [Cooper] who’s awesome too. And we just sort of looked around and thought, “This is awesome. We never do this, and this is so great, and so empowering.” That’s probably the biggest thing - swapping stories and being able to relate.

  Marcus Maddox  - [Speaking about a photograph]  This was a sold out show at The End, and this couple was in the front row. So you have Soccer Mommy playing - and they have a black guitarist - and you have this black guy holding this white girl’s hand in the front row. That’s the kind of stuff that I feel is scarce. It’s scarce in the view of the South. In general, I feel like it’s cool to see this stuff. Even before I was making this, I had always seen the progressive side of Nashville, but nobody cared to document.

Marcus Maddox - [Speaking about a photograph] This was a sold out show at The End, and this couple was in the front row. So you have Soccer Mommy playing - and they have a black guitarist - and you have this black guy holding this white girl’s hand in the front row. That’s the kind of stuff that I feel is scarce. It’s scarce in the view of the South. In general, I feel like it’s cool to see this stuff. Even before I was making this, I had always seen the progressive side of Nashville, but nobody cared to document.

  Corey Leiter -  [On Meditation]  Through researching [meditation], there’s one thing that kind of stuck out to me - the phrase “I am.” When you think about it, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, or it kind of just let’s you just “be.” There’s nothing really attached to it. So that’s something that I try to come back to with each breath. It centers me. It’s inevitable that you’re going to drift, which is fine. A lot of people think they need to block out everything in their brain in order to be a total blank slate, which you can get to a point like that. But if you force it, it’s never going to get to that point. I think it’s just good for you to stay balanced mentally and emotionally.

Corey Leiter - [On Meditation] Through researching [meditation], there’s one thing that kind of stuck out to me - the phrase “I am.” When you think about it, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, or it kind of just let’s you just “be.” There’s nothing really attached to it. So that’s something that I try to come back to with each breath. It centers me. It’s inevitable that you’re going to drift, which is fine. A lot of people think they need to block out everything in their brain in order to be a total blank slate, which you can get to a point like that. But if you force it, it’s never going to get to that point. I think it’s just good for you to stay balanced mentally and emotionally.

  Ethan Samuel Brown  - [On running sound around Nashville]  I don’t know, there’s a lot of stuff that’s really good that’s not particularly in my wheelhouse, or on my radar - that’s probably the neat thing about being in Nashville. I can enjoy myself running sound for just about any show, but I don’t know. Nobody really “sucks,” even if their genre isn’t your bag.

Ethan Samuel Brown - [On running sound around Nashville] I don’t know, there’s a lot of stuff that’s really good that’s not particularly in my wheelhouse, or on my radar - that’s probably the neat thing about being in Nashville. I can enjoy myself running sound for just about any show, but I don’t know. Nobody really “sucks,” even if their genre isn’t your bag.

  CAMM  - [On pursuing art]  It’s most important to do what you love to do while you’re here. I feel like that’s kind of the mindset.... It’s a bigger purpose in mind. So people may look at it and just be like “He’s trying to be a starving artist,” or “Typical lazy musician,” but I don’t really think there’s such thing as a “typical musician.” I think everyone has a reason behind what they’re doing and the art they’re creating, but still, it’s not easy for everyone to understand that.

CAMM - [On pursuing art] It’s most important to do what you love to do while you’re here. I feel like that’s kind of the mindset.... It’s a bigger purpose in mind. So people may look at it and just be like “He’s trying to be a starving artist,” or “Typical lazy musician,” but I don’t really think there’s such thing as a “typical musician.” I think everyone has a reason behind what they’re doing and the art they’re creating, but still, it’s not easy for everyone to understand that.

  Sam Gidley  - [On discovering an affinity for pop music production]  ...I’m a little bit tired of having to worry about everything being so cool. Sometimes it just feels good to open up a session and just make the craziest pop track you can, without having to pull back things because something isn’t “hip” enough. So that’s the one thing that I’ve kind of discovered about myself.

Sam Gidley - [On discovering an affinity for pop music production] ...I’m a little bit tired of having to worry about everything being so cool. Sometimes it just feels good to open up a session and just make the craziest pop track you can, without having to pull back things because something isn’t “hip” enough. So that’s the one thing that I’ve kind of discovered about myself.

  Lydia Luce -  [On her first time to Nashville]  The first time I came to Nashville, I actually went to The Station Inn, and that was the first venue I went to here in town, and I played in their bluegrass jam, which is a bunch of really intense players. I remember this one woman who was playing fiddle too, but she was way better. She was a regular.

Lydia Luce - [On her first time to Nashville] The first time I came to Nashville, I actually went to The Station Inn, and that was the first venue I went to here in town, and I played in their bluegrass jam, which is a bunch of really intense players. I remember this one woman who was playing fiddle too, but she was way better. She was a regular.

  Graydon Wenrich -  [On the Nashville Music Community]  I think the big thing for me was that all these bands that aren’t really similar to us, we can still team up on a bunch of different stuff. We have a lot more in common than I thought. Like even just getting to hang out with  Liz Cooper , obviously Okey Dokey, Blank Range, and all those guys - we can still play shows together and team up to do an awesome thing, or we can do the zine together. That’s what’s cool - the country people hang out with the rock people, and somehow it all makes sense. And it’s been cool to try and help those bands that I care about, it feels good where I can connect bands with people I might know that could help.

Graydon Wenrich - [On the Nashville Music Community] I think the big thing for me was that all these bands that aren’t really similar to us, we can still team up on a bunch of different stuff. We have a lot more in common than I thought. Like even just getting to hang out with Liz Cooper, obviously Okey Dokey, Blank Range, and all those guys - we can still play shows together and team up to do an awesome thing, or we can do the zine together. That’s what’s cool - the country people hang out with the rock people, and somehow it all makes sense. And it’s been cool to try and help those bands that I care about, it feels good where I can connect bands with people I might know that could help.

  Becca Richardson -  [On growing as an artist]  In getting older during all of this, I feel like I was kind of diluting myself a little bit in order to try and fit into something. From that, the biggest evolution of myself as an artist is just trusting my own voice, and saying what I want to say and making the sounds I want to make, all the while putting that into my art. I’m done trying to be a carefully curated image of this thing that I think would be successful, and I’ve dialed into that. Granted, I’m still working on it, but I have more confidence in my own voice than the actual truth of that, it connects with people way more than the watered down version that I was trying to make more palatable to everybody.

Becca Richardson - [On growing as an artist] In getting older during all of this, I feel like I was kind of diluting myself a little bit in order to try and fit into something. From that, the biggest evolution of myself as an artist is just trusting my own voice, and saying what I want to say and making the sounds I want to make, all the while putting that into my art. I’m done trying to be a carefully curated image of this thing that I think would be successful, and I’ve dialed into that. Granted, I’m still working on it, but I have more confidence in my own voice than the actual truth of that, it connects with people way more than the watered down version that I was trying to make more palatable to everybody.

  Leah Blevins -  [On investing in one's self]  I think it takes a – and this might be cliché to say – but it takes a very tough type of human being to truly invest your entire self into being an artist. I’m a more sensitive human being, naturally. I think a lot of artists are. A lot of it is based on how you carry yourself. What I’ve acknowledged here, there is this prideful way – with regards to cliques – I’d like to break down those barriers. We’re not promised tomorrow, and what else is there to do other than spread love and make people feel comfortable? Instead of being a critic, let’s critique it. Let’s fix it, and be in the same mindset.

Leah Blevins - [On investing in one's self] I think it takes a – and this might be cliché to say – but it takes a very tough type of human being to truly invest your entire self into being an artist. I’m a more sensitive human being, naturally. I think a lot of artists are. A lot of it is based on how you carry yourself. What I’ve acknowledged here, there is this prideful way – with regards to cliques – I’d like to break down those barriers. We’re not promised tomorrow, and what else is there to do other than spread love and make people feel comfortable? Instead of being a critic, let’s critique it. Let’s fix it, and be in the same mindset.

  Robbie Jackson  - [On being a career musician]  I’m definitely not a session dude, because I don’t think I’m a “player,” but at the same time, I think I’ve done an okay job of carving out a niche guitar guy role. Luckily, friends want me to be a part of stuff, as well. Sometimes I think I just fooled everyone into thinking I was good at guitar, mostly because I freak out on stage [laughs].

Robbie Jackson - [On being a career musician] I’m definitely not a session dude, because I don’t think I’m a “player,” but at the same time, I think I’ve done an okay job of carving out a niche guitar guy role. Luckily, friends want me to be a part of stuff, as well. Sometimes I think I just fooled everyone into thinking I was good at guitar, mostly because I freak out on stage [laughs].

  Zachary Carter Threlkeld -  [On fully realizing October Tooth]  And what a crazy experience to have with it. Especially when you think that it was created out of falling ass backwards into releasing some things one October. And all of a sudden, it’s something we’ve actually made. It’s wild to me [laughs]. It’s pretty cool. The more I talk through it, the more I realize I’m really happy with it.

Zachary Carter Threlkeld - [On fully realizing October Tooth] And what a crazy experience to have with it. Especially when you think that it was created out of falling ass backwards into releasing some things one October. And all of a sudden, it’s something we’ve actually made. It’s wild to me [laughs]. It’s pretty cool. The more I talk through it, the more I realize I’m really happy with it.

  The Ragcoats  - [Allen Ralph (far right), on proving themselves in Nashville]  But after that, we want to take on every show we can, because we feel like we need to earn our stripes, too. Because we’re in a town where people like Nick [Byrd] have been playing since they were fourteen years old, and we’re still really fresh at this, so we need all the work we can.

The Ragcoats - [Allen Ralph (far right), on proving themselves in Nashville] But after that, we want to take on every show we can, because we feel like we need to earn our stripes, too. Because we’re in a town where people like Nick [Byrd] have been playing since they were fourteen years old, and we’re still really fresh at this, so we need all the work we can.

  Jess Nolan  - [On learning about booking as an independent musician] ... so I’m sending out all these emails and basically everyone is responding “We’re booked.” So we never went on that run. I remember me and this songwriter were trying to go on the run, but we couldn’t get anything booked. It never happened because we didn’t know what we were doing. It was good, because I learned, and now I know that I have to send things this far in advance. It’s been a learning experience. I feel like I’ll appreciate it even more if I ever wind up with a booking agent, the fact that I did it myself.

Jess Nolan - [On learning about booking as an independent musician] ...so I’m sending out all these emails and basically everyone is responding “We’re booked.” So we never went on that run. I remember me and this songwriter were trying to go on the run, but we couldn’t get anything booked. It never happened because we didn’t know what we were doing. It was good, because I learned, and now I know that I have to send things this far in advance. It’s been a learning experience. I feel like I’ll appreciate it even more if I ever wind up with a booking agent, the fact that I did it myself.

  MOCHA -  [Sakari Greenwell (left), on the best part of being in a duo]  The two girls running shit, that’s definitely the part I love. But at the same time, it’s just that you got to go the extra mile out here. First of all, people are like “You play bass?” to Sheila all the time. And then as a vocalist, you’re already immediately discredited amongst musicians and other players. It’s like, actually, I have a college degree for it, but whatever [laughs].

MOCHA - [Sakari Greenwell (left), on the best part of being in a duo] The two girls running shit, that’s definitely the part I love. But at the same time, it’s just that you got to go the extra mile out here. First of all, people are like “You play bass?” to Sheila all the time. And then as a vocalist, you’re already immediately discredited amongst musicians and other players. It’s like, actually, I have a college degree for it, but whatever [laughs].

  Airpark -  [Ben Ford (right), on the dynamics of releasing music as a new(er) band] -  ...it’s more important to get more frequent smaller amounts of music out versus doing twelve songs and then not putting anything out for two years as a new band just didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. I think the attention spans are getting smaller and smaller.

Airpark - [Ben Ford (right), on the dynamics of releasing music as a new(er) band] - ...it’s more important to get more frequent smaller amounts of music out versus doing twelve songs and then not putting anything out for two years as a new band just didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. I think the attention spans are getting smaller and smaller.

  Nathan Zucker  - [On his first "official" photo gig]  I remember that the first one that actually worked through that was the Dragon Boat Festival. I got to do that again this year, and it’s pretty wild. It’s people racing down the Cumberland in these massive dragon boats. Then after that, it was “Wow, this actually worked.” It was something I had never even considered to be a possibility, and since then I’m always sending emails if I’m not working.

Nathan Zucker - [On his first "official" photo gig] I remember that the first one that actually worked through that was the Dragon Boat Festival. I got to do that again this year, and it’s pretty wild. It’s people racing down the Cumberland in these massive dragon boats. Then after that, it was “Wow, this actually worked.” It was something I had never even considered to be a possibility, and since then I’m always sending emails if I’m not working.

  Molly Parden  - [On self-discovery as a songwriter]  I’ve never really given myself the time to be a writer, or at least a consistent writer. I needed to learn to be disciplined about it. But a couple of the different days when songs came about, I would sit down for an hour and force myself to type on my computer, or write things down, or play an idea I had in my voice memos for three years or something. And when I did that, good things would happen. I got to learn that when I work at it, I can make something great.

Molly Parden - [On self-discovery as a songwriter] I’ve never really given myself the time to be a writer, or at least a consistent writer. I needed to learn to be disciplined about it. But a couple of the different days when songs came about, I would sit down for an hour and force myself to type on my computer, or write things down, or play an idea I had in my voice memos for three years or something. And when I did that, good things would happen. I got to learn that when I work at it, I can make something great.

  Sawyer -  [Emma Harvey (right), on finding purpose]  It feels more purposeful, I think, because we’re performing the music that we worked so hard on. And then we’re meeting and connecting with people, and also making money doing something we love, so that makes it very purposeful.

Sawyer - [Emma Harvey (right), on finding purpose] It feels more purposeful, I think, because we’re performing the music that we worked so hard on. And then we’re meeting and connecting with people, and also making money doing something we love, so that makes it very purposeful.

  Christian Lopez  - [On self-actualization as an artist]  I think I’m learning more. I have more control of my team, or at least, I have more of a leadership role. I used to just let them push me around…. Not in a bad way, but I just didn’t know. I was just like “You guys are the pros, I’ll follow your lead.” But that is the opposite of what you should do…. Unless you want to be a pop star. It took me awhile to get. But now that that’s the case, I feel pretty unstoppable. But at the same time, it forces you to adapt and compromise with your label, your team. So it’s challenging.

Christian Lopez - [On self-actualization as an artist] I think I’m learning more. I have more control of my team, or at least, I have more of a leadership role. I used to just let them push me around…. Not in a bad way, but I just didn’t know. I was just like “You guys are the pros, I’ll follow your lead.” But that is the opposite of what you should do…. Unless you want to be a pop star. It took me awhile to get. But now that that’s the case, I feel pretty unstoppable. But at the same time, it forces you to adapt and compromise with your label, your team. So it’s challenging.


Thank you to all those listed above, as well as those of you who take the time to read the interviews. Happy New Year, and here's to more interviews in 2018.

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- SM