American Songwriter

Writer Of The Week: SoKo

French actress-turned-singer-songwriter Stéphanie Sokolinski, better known as SoKo, writes no-holds-barred, unapologetic pop songs that touch on the darkest corners of love, death and intimacy. Her new album My Dreams Dictate My Reality finds the singer covering even greater emotional ground, set to tracks befitting of an ’80s popstar deep in the throes of a punk and New Wave obsession. We chat with the singer about insomnia, fears and Robert Smith.

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Chelsea Wolfe is American Songwriter’s Writer Of The Week

L.A.-based singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe just gifted the world with one heck of an album. Abyss, her fifth full length release, is a beautiful, intricate tangle of dark, dreamy folk-metal. We chat with Wolfe about growing up in her father’s studio, the dark influences behind her songwriting and how she learned to find her voice.

How long have you been writing songs?

Since I was around 9 years old. While I was growing up my father was in a country band and they’d record and practice at his home studio. I was mesmerized by the harmonies and the recording process. My dad taught me some basics and set me up with a Tascam 8-track and I recorded songs on that thing for years. I still have it.

Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?

Yes. I was listening to a lot of R&B at the time, and got really into Lauryn Hill, and my dad introduced me to bands like Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin, while my mom showed me artists like Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell, so I think my first songs were a sort of blend of all those influences. I was writing really straightforward songs about things I knew nothing about, like love and relationships. I had a big imagination for simple subjects.

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Lazaretto Is The Biggest Selling Vinyl LP Since 1994

Music’s favorite Luddite has a new accomplishment to notch on a belt that’s already nearly notched to pieces. Jack White‘s Lazaretto has sold 62,000 vinyl units to become the top vinyl LP of 2014, and the best selling since Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy in 1994.

Vinyl sales accounted for 25 percent of Lazaretto‘s total sales, according to Billboard. In addition, the album broke first-week vinyl sales records by selling 40,000 units, the most since SoundScan started keeping track in 1991.

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With people of color, you have to try really hard to be something, and you have to stand up for that. You’re not allowed to just be a person with many layers… It’s a tough world out there.

Without Role Models: A Q&A with Mitski | Page 2 of 2 | American Songwriter

I talked to Mitski for American Songwriter about her conservatory background, touring, and Asian girl problems. Check it out!

Writer Of The Week: Nate Mendel of Lieutenant and Foo Fighters

Washington state native Nate Mendel has spent his career playing bass in several bands – Sunny Day Real Estate, The Fire Theft and Foo Fighters – but he’s trading in his bass for a guitar for the very first time with new solo project Lieutenant. If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going To Eat For A Week, which drops March 10 via Dine Alone Records, is a straightforward indie rock effort reminiscent of some of the best offerings by Modest Mouse and Coldplay.

I do not entertain doubt or fear in my music,” Adams explains, referring to his way of tackling the songwriting process. “Music is a pure fucking channel where there are no wrong answers. It is life force. It is babble. It is the unconscious and conscious. I can’t personify the relationship that I have with it in a single statement because it is all of them and nothing at the same time. It just is a living pool of energy that at anytime anybody can dive into. I can kick a fucking guitar for an hour, and I bet after awhile the guitar tuners are going to drop down into something that sounds quite beautiful.
—  Ryan Adams (American Songwriter, 4 Dec 2014)

Chris Stapleton: The Natural

It’s a weeknight in January 2015 and Chris Stapleton is making his way across the crowded floor at RCA Studio A. The place is absolutely packed, filled with journalists, songwriters, label execs and friends who’ve shown up for a sneak preview of Stapleton’s first solo album, Traveller. The record won’t be out for months, but for three hours tonight, attendees can skip the wait by heading over to one of several listening stations that line the perimeter of the 50-year-old recording studio. There, rows of headphones are blasting the album’s songs: country ballads about booze and breakups; roots-rockers about the grind of the road; folksy tributes to women, whiskey and all points in between. Click here to read more.