“The Sexiest Voice in Podcasting” Anji Bee of the Chillcast talks about the show and her double life as both podcaster and musician.
TREVOR: How did the Chillcast get its start?
ANJI: I guess you could say The Chillcast got its start with college radio DJ’ing. After 3 years of doing various shows and working in management at a college radio station, I was pretty well hooked. Then I discovered Internet radio, and started creating both live and prerecorded Internet radio content – including interviews with indie bands like Hungry Lucy and Sunburn in Cyprus. Eventually podcasts were invented, and I put 2 and 2 together. Podcasting was better than radio because listeners could tune in whenever was most convenient for them – which seemed really revolutionary! My first podcast was actually Chillin’ with Lovespirals, which Ryan and I launched to help promote our 2nd album, Free & Easy. Shortly after, I started getting permissions from indie band friends to create a weekly music show podcast – because you have to understand that at this time the podsafe music movement was barely getting started! Adam Curry had just begun his Podsafe Music Network — which is actually how he and I met and became friends, when Lovespirals joined the site. Adam played us on the Daily Source Code, and then we started talking back and forth on his podcast about Creative Commons vs BMI and all those kinds of things. To make a long story a bit shorter, I put together a few fledgling episodes of The Chillcast, hosting them on the Internet Archive site and C.C. Chapman, who was really active with PodShow at the time, pitched the show to Adam and PodShow management, and I was signed as one of the first group of podcasters to the new PodShow Podcast Network.
TREVOR: What have you learned from operating on both sides of the broadcasting world, as a podcaster and as a musician?
ANJI: Good question. Podcasting is a great way to communicate with your fans, to give them a sense of who you are as a person, as well as to inform them of your latest projects. You can really build a sense of brethrenship, not only with your fans, but fellow indie musicians and fellow podcasters. Podcasts are more intimate than a newsletter, less time consuming than a forum, and both more immediate and long lasting than a personal appearance. I’m surprised more bands aren’t doing podcasts, actually.
TREVOR: Chillin’ with the Lovespirals was one of the earliest band podcasts, what was the impetus behind such inspiration and foresight?
ANJI: Well I mentioned this briefly in your earlier question, but the idea was to share information about the new album we were releasing, and what better way to promote an album than with the music itself? We had shared audio interviews we’d done with radio stations in mp3 format on music sites for years, so I knew people liked to listen to us talk about our music and band experiences. We have all the recording gear here at our disposal, so it just seemed logical to produce our own audio content and make it available via our site. We had fun doing it, too. At that time, iTunes was just launching their podcast directory, so getting listed on that was a real thrill.
TREVOR: Why should a band be PodSafe?
ANJI: Podcasts are a very low cost promotional tool. Unlike radio, it’s very easy to break into the podcasting world. There are still relatively few bands vying for attention on podcasts. If your music is good, you’re bound to get noticed. And podcast subscribers are truly interested in music. These are the cutting edge people who have sought out an alternative form of entertainment; they’re serious. If they like something they hear on a show, they actually go out and buy it. I get email and comments all the time about buying music from my shows — in fact, I got one this week from a guy who was sad that Sun Dula Amen wasn’t on iTunes yet, because he wanted to buy it! And of course, I know for a fact that I sell my own CDs from podcasts, I see the proof from orders on the Lovespirals Webstore.
Read the rest of this interview with Anji Bee on the CyberPR Blog
This week’s The Pod 5 show includes Ryan and Anji of Lovespirals as special guests, along with Matthew Ebel and Anji’s fellow ShowGirl, Share Ross, for a discussion of the future of the recording industry. Topics include CDs vs Mp3s, major vs indie labels vs self-released, Radiohead scaring the music industry, and much more fun and madness!
In this special extended episode, Anji and Ryan play each song from their new album Long Way From Home as they discuss how the album was created. In this behind-the-scenes podcast, the duo talk about the album’s influences, song writing, production secrets, and personal anecdotes. This features gives you great peek into the album!
Lovespirals Long Way From Home (2007)
- Buy Long Way From Home direct from Lovespirals: lovespirals.com/longway
(Personally autographed, includes free download of Motherless Child EP)
- Download Lovespirals’ podsafe singles for your podcast
- Download the Motherless Child remixes for your podcast
- Download the Lovespirals: Long Way From Home Feature promo
- Download the Long Way From Home CD promo
Reviews are starting to come in for Lovespirals new album, Long Way From Home, and the critics have been kind.
All Music Guide‘s Ned Raggett writes,
For their third album as Lovespirals, Anji Bee and Ryan Lum again create a lush series of songs that synthesizes disparate influences into a warm, enveloping listen.
Matthew Johnson of Re:Gen Magazine writes,
It’s not an understatement to call Long Way from Home the duo’s most accomplished work up to date; as enjoyable as their previous explorations of laidback electronica and jazz fusion have been, this album captures Lum and Bee’s warm musical chemistry in a way that previous releases only hinted at.
Matt Rowe of MusicTap.net writes,
From the band’s early years as Love Spirals Downwards — with a vocalist all but forgotten for Anji Bee’s lovely, dreamy, and expansive vocal pleasantries — to their current album, Lovespirals have always been a band of change. Their latest, the wonderfully titled Long Way From Home, is one of superior work and can easily rank as the band’s best work in either incarnation.
cadencerevolution.com podcast blogs:
It’s very rare these days to come across an entire CD which you will listen to over and over from beginning to end non-stop, and even rarer to find one which makes you want to grab everyone you know and tell them “you must listen to this.” However such is the case with the third release, Long Way Home, from the California based duo Lovespirals.
Come hear what all the fuss is about at lovespirals.com/longway!
Matthew Johnson reviews Long Way From Home for Re:Gen Magazine, 11/29/2007
On their third album, Lovespirals shift away from overt electronica in favor of beautiful, understated folk and blues ballads.
If sophomore album Free and Easy saw Lovespirals’ sound at its biggest, Long Way from Home is the duo’s most intimate, forsaking house beats and jazz flourishes for understated slide guitar and acoustic strums. Ryan Lum’s production is more mature than ever before; unless you really listen for it, you won’t be able to tell that he plays and records all the instruments himself – maybe not even then – and the drums sound warm and clear, betraying no hint of sampler or sequencer. Instead, Lum lets his arrangements take center stage, with emotive guitar solos harmonizing with electric organ on the bluesy ballad “Once in a Blue Moon” and relaxed acoustic strums highlighting jazzy piano chords on “Nocturnal Daze.” Anji Bee’s vocals are beautifully languid, the sweetness swathed in melancholy on the plaintive “Caught in the Groove,” adorned by floating background harmonies on “Treading the Water,” and sensual yet dreary on the pair’s stark rendition of classic spiritual “Motherless Child.” Fans of the pair’s more overtly romantic material will appreciate unabashed love song “This Truth,” and there’s even a hint of the ethereal dreaminess of Lum’s previous project, Love Spirals Downwards, on the fuzzy overlapping guitar tones and meandering vocals of “Sundrenched” and “Lazy Love Days.” It’s not an understatement to call Long Way from Home the duo’s most accomplished work up to date; as enjoyable as their previous explorations of laidback electronica and jazz fusion have been, this album captures Lum and Bee’s warm musical chemistry in a way that previous releases only hinted at.
View the original review at Re:Gen Magazine.
Matt Rowe reviews Long Way From Home for Music Tap, 11/28/2007
The evolution of Lovespirals into the band that they are today has been a long road. From the band’s early years as Love Spirals Downwards — with a vocalist all-but-forgotten for Anji Bee’s lovely, dreamy, and expansive vocal pleasantries — to their current album, Lovespirals have always been a band of change. Their latest, the wonderfully titled Long Way From Home, is one of superior work and can easily rank as the band’s best work in either incarnation.
Still a part of the Dream-Pop sound that formed them, the Anji Bee years of Lovespirals have been an essential element for the band. With her ability to wrap around Ryan Lum’s musical explorations, Lovespirals is not afraid of trying on new clothes, framing them in gorgeous soft tones of various flavours. The album begins with a “career-best” blues song that accentuates the album’s direction. “Caught in the Groove” is a beautifully produced, dream-blues (if I may coin the phrase) song. Using a song as a metaphor for the deterioration of a relationship, this captivating tune is made all the more extraordinary by Lum’s blues guitar.
That same bluesy guitar shows up in “Once in a Blue Moon, and “Nocturnal Daze.” Ryan Lum’s guitar leads have a distinct ’70s feel throughout the album. Some songs recall the past musical history of the band. “Sundrenched” lends itself to the stream of that past. The album closes with the excellent musically and lyrically sex-soaked “Lazy Love Days.”
The needle may be “caught in the groove” but, for me, that’s a good thing where this album is concerned.
View the original post at MusicTap.net
November 11, 2007, ReGen Magazine Assistant Editor, Matthew Johson:
The Golden Age of Chill
For a band so enmeshed in ’70s-era recording aesthetics, Lovespirals’ Anji Bee and Ryan Lum are undeniably on the cutting edge of modern technology. Early adopters of podcasting technology, the pair are aligned with Adam Curry’s PodShow network as well as the nascent podsafe movement. They also recently made their virtual reality debut with a live show in the Second Life online community, and are eager about the Internet’s role in the music industry’s uncertain new era.
Get them talking about the music itself, though, and it’s all about the warm sounds of ’70s records. Bee and Lum’s newest release, Long Way from Home, largely abandons the house and downtempo electronic currents of previous releases Windblown Kiss and Free and Easy not to mention the ambient drum ‘n’ bass predilections Lum explored with his previous project, top-selling Projekt act Love Spirals Downwards in favor of a more acoustic approach. If the technology is less overt, however, it’s no less an integral part of Lovespirals’ music. As Lum and Bee explain to ReGen, it takes a lot of technique to produce an album on ProTools that sounds like it was recorded in the days of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Lum also tells us about revisiting his early work by remastering new editions of Love Spirals Downwards’ first two albums, Idylls and Ardor, and Bee talks about keeping things real in the age of Auto-Tune.
Let’s start by talking about your new album, Long Way from Home. The electronic elements are a lot more understated than on Free and Easy. Was there a conscious decision to step away from electronica to focus on more traditional instruments?
Lum: Big time! There’s really no electronics, unless you count the Rhodes piano. I think three or four songs have Rhodes, some a lot of Rhodes, some just a little bit. I don’t know if that makes it electronica. I just see it as a popular ’70s instrument that got re-popularized.
Bee: Bands like Zero 7 and Air have really re-popularized Rhodes, so it’s easy to think of Rhodes as being an electronica thing. I’m happy to let it slide; if we’re considered ‘downtempo’ because of the Rhodes, that’s fine. We did basically record the same way as Free and Easy; we used ProTools, and the drums are not real drums.
Lum: It may not sound like it, but I’m using all the production techniques I’ve learned over the years, making Free and Easy, or before that making drum ‘n’ bass or house or whatever. We’re using the same techniques, but we’re trying to make more acoustic records with the same gear.
Bee: It’s like we’re disguising the techniques.
Lum: You can make a drum machine sound all electronic, but we’re trying to make it sound as human as possible. In fact, I’m hoping you can’t even tell it’s not a real guy playing a real drum.
Are there any real drums on the album?
Lum: Not really. We’re pretty much using a good sampler with all these multi-sampled hits so you can’t really tell. Then we have processing, too. I try to warm it up; I run it through some plug-ins to give it more of a tape feel. We’re trying to move toward something like a record that was made in the ’70s: real people playing real instruments and writing real songs.
It also seems a little more folk and blues-inspired, less jazzy, with less wah-wah pedal and a lot more slide guitar. What were the musical inspirations for this album? What were you listening to when you were writing and recording this album?
Lum: Probably the stuff we’ve been listening to even before that, when we were making Free and Easy and Windblown Kiss. We’ve just been listening to a lot of what I call the classic era of rock ‘n’ roll, stuff from the early and mid-’70s, like Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye…
Bee: I guess we’ve kind of been studying some of the great albums, listening to how they deal with reverb and how they mix things, soaking it up and trying to integrate it.
Lum: Sometimes you listen to some of these records, like you hear Marvin Gaye singing through this beautiful plate reverb, and all the hair on your neck sticks up and you break out into a sweat.
Bee: Or the old Miles Davis records, especially with Coltrane. That reverb is amazing. They actually had a room reverb, where they’d send the signal out into a room and then bring that reverb back in. I don’t know how we could set it up like that, but we try to imitate some of those things when we’re producing.
Lum: A lot of recording engineers consider the early to mid-’70s the golden era of recording. They can’t make records sound as good as that anymore, even though they have all this really high tech gear, so we’re trying to go for that. We’re trying to make an audiophile kind of record, to really focus on recording, the mic placement, the signal flow, the gear, the pre-amps, stuff like that, to make a really nice-sounding record. A lot of inspiration came from the ’70s across the board: the music, the recording techniques, and the production.
So even though you’re not doing electronic music, you still get to indulge in your gear-head tendencies?
Bee: Lots of geek stuff! [Laughs.]
Lum: That’s how we could pull off the drum situation. We would not have been able to do that in 1973 without having a real drummer, so we take advantage of modern recording techniques. Like ProTools; it can be abused, you can make something sound really crappy in ProTools by compressing it and having all this Auto-Tune, or you can use ProTools like we do, as a tape machine basically (one that you can edit pretty easily).
Bee: And one where the high end doesn’t degrade over time.
Lum: You can play it a thousand times and it’ll sound the same, unlike a tape machine. We try and use the modern gear for what it’s best for, which I think is to make music sound better, not to use Auto-Tune for everything.
Bee: We don’t use Auto-Tune. Maybe not every note is perfect, but it’s not supposed to be, and when you hear it moving to bring the note mechanically into place, it’s really jarring. I think it takes a lot of the emotion out of the music, and that’s one of the things we’re most interested in expressing through music: the emotion, the state of mind as the song was created. We want to preserve as much of that as we can, which is difficult when every track is dubbed in.
Lum: I have to overdub by necessity. It’s something a lot of artists that are trying to make stuff that’s like from the ’70s, like Air, I’ve read are struggling with this whole thing. They have modern gear, but they have to try and keep the soul of the music. We try to walk this balance between making it sound good but not overdoing the perfection.
Bee: With my vocals, I’m trying to do more full takes, instead of ‘OK, I’ll sing this part, then I’ll sing this part.’ I’m trying to give more of a full performance.
It seems like vibe and mood are such an integral part of what you do. What is the ideal setting for someone to hear your songs?
Lum: The way we used to listen to music before iPods were invented. Not to say iPods are bad, but most people I know listen to iPods on the go, in the car or on the bus or subway. I like to listen to the iPod at home; we have a nice stereo system with some Danish speakers that plug into our iPod, and it sounds nice. That’s what I’m saying: a chilled out situation, like we used to do with albums when we were younger.
Bee: Lights off, candles, maybe a little incense or something.
Lum: Pretty much all the music I like is stuff that asks or even demands that you pay attention to it, to take in and appreciate all the nuances. I guess you can listen to our stuff on the subway; it’d probably be kind of cool, to make your own visual soundscape while you travel. When we got the album mastered in Mountain View, we brought it back down, got out of the city, and we were going through Pacheco Pass and said, ‘Now is the time. Let’s pop the CD in!’ We were driving with it, enjoying the beautiful scenery and the music going together.
Bee: When you’re on a long road trip out in the middle of nowhere, you can actually focus and let the music flood your consciousness. Our music isn’t upbeat party music or anything you’d want to listen to with a group of people. That could be awkward, because the music is really sensitive, and most of it’s about love and spirituality, and that’s not really a group endeavor.
Lum: Introspection, I think, is the key word.
Bee: In the past we’ve been accused of making make-out music. I don’t know if this album is as much of a make-out album as the other two. [Laughs.]
Lum: We’ll see what people say.
Bee: We’ve actually gotten e-mails saying like ‘Thanks for the album; I had a fire in the fireplace, a candle burning, and it was just me and my old lady…’ Those are the weirdest e-mails we get. [Laughs.]
Read the rest of the interview on the ReGen Magazine site.
Lovespirals vocalist/lyricist, Anji Bee, was interviewed by GD about the band’s new album, performing in Second Life, and more on Bite Size Episode #509. To hear this podcast, you must sign up for a free subscription to the BsB Members Only Podcast. BTW, GD holds the honor of being the UK’s first podcaster, and he has long been a supporter of Lovespirals podsafe music.
Ned Raggett reviews Long Way From Home for the All Music Guide
For their third album as Lovespirals, Anji Bee and Ryan Lum again create a lush series of songs that synthesizes disparate influences into a warm, enveloping listen. For all that the duo’s roots have been seen as being goth, their previous albums touched on a variety of approaches with aplomb, and at this point it’s just as accurate — and ultimately limiting — to say that Long Way From Home is blues, or country, or rock and roll. It’s a blend that has a low-key presentation, an easygoing pace, and an ear for all kinds of unexpected details that change the feeling of a song in an instant without disrupting it. The traditional standard “Motherless Child,” where the album title comes from, shows this clearly, where the harrowing lament of the lyric becomes a cool flow, Bee’s vocals paying homage to famous interpreters of the song like Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holliday without trying to actually replicate them. Meantime, a song like “Caught in the Groove” has a gentle, echoed percussion flow that sounds like late eighties Cocteau Twins, twangy guitars and piano that suggests majestic early seventies country, and Bee’s coolly sweet vocals calling to mind crooners from an even earlier time. This resplendent variety, which defines the sound of much of the album, helps the band further cement its own protean sound, increasingly recognizable on its own merits rather than just being the sum of its many parts. Some individual moments feel very thrilling — the wheezing guitar/harmonica background to “Treading the Water,” the sudden low-key funk on “Lovelight” — without overwhelming the overall flow, a fine balancing act.
View the original post on the All Music Guide
Zack Daggy interviews Ryan Lum and Anji Bee of Lovespirals about their band history, musical process, brand new album, Long Way From Home, and more in a Shameless Plugcast feature. Included in the show are two podsafe Lovespirals songs. Zack’s also running an autographed CD contest – see shamelessplugcast.com for details!