CRAZYTALK Fall 2018 Tour
Mat Kearney - CRAZYTALK Fall 2018 Tour
Atlas Genius, Juke Ross
Mon · September 24, 2018
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm
$29.00 - $104.00
This event is all ageshttp://www.georgiatheatre.com/event/1717638/
Much has changed since those days in the Pacific Northwest. Even so, Kearney hasn't forgotten his musical roots. On his fifth album, CRAZYTALK, he mixes his most timeless songwriting to date with a wide, genre-bending set of interests. There are organic instruments, electronic samples, chill house grooves, tropical sounds, and collaborations with DJs like AFSHeeN ,filous, and RAC all glued together by an emphasis on ageless hooks and thought-provoking lyrics. The result is one of the most adventurous, nuanced albums of his acclaimed career, filled with EDM drops one minute and acoustic guitars the next.
It's a sound that nods to Kearney's history as a melody-driven songwriter, even as it pushes him into new territory.
"Back in Oregon, I was a punk skater kid who fell in love with Lauryn Hill, Tribe Called Quest, and Bel Biv Devoe," he says. "At the same time, I also loved playing my buddy's guitar. In a way, I'll always be that kid, drawing from the influences I grew up with."
Combing classic songs with modern, beat-heavy production, CRAZYTALK offers up a sound that's both cerebral and visceral. It's music for the head and the heart, but it's also music for the dance floor.
"At my core, I'm a songwriter," adds Kearney, who produced half of the album in his home studio in Nashville. "I wanted to explore new production ideas with this album, though, to see how I could frame these songs in a different way. CRAZYTALK has some deep house influences, some African samples, some tropical sounds, and a lot of electronics — things that wouldn't normally be found in a singer/songwriter record — juxtaposed with some classic songs. It's a sound that really occupies its own lane."
Inspired in part by the birth of his first child in January 2017, Kearney found himself writing CRAZYTALK's lyrics with a new, mature perspective. He'd been a traveling songwriter for more than a decade, releasing three Top 20 albums along the way. The sound he helped introduce with his major-label debut, 2006's Nothing Left to Lose — a record that combined the bright sounds of pop music the with darker, harder-hitting influence of hip-hop — had since become one of the most common genres of the 21st century, with chart-topping artists like Ed Sheeran and Twenty One Pilots all following in his footsteps. His legacy already established, Kearney felt comfortable broadening his songwriting, filling CRAZYTALK with songs that embraced an older, wiser point of view.
"I realized I didn't need to make every song a 'young love story,'" he says. "I'm comfortable writing music from a perspective of having been around the block a few times, because that's how I am in real life. The result is some beautiful, wise songs that sound like they've been well-traveled."
The album's opening track, "Better Than I Used to Be," takes a look at those early days in Kearney's backseat. It's a song about growing tall without forgetting your roots, laced with vocal effects, programmed percussion, and the familiar croon of Kearney's voice. That voice takes center stage on slower tracks like the modern, minimalist "Memorized" and a nuanced cover of Sade's "By Your Side," with both songs proving that CRAZYTALK doesn't need lush, layered production to pack a punch.
On album highlights like "Kings & Queens," though, Kearney makes room for an arsenal of instruments. He played many of them himself, beefing up the mix with digital samples and electronic flourishes. The album's songs were written in a similar way, with Kearney taking inspiration from organic instruments as well as synthesized loops.
"I'm a 50/50 guy," he explains of his songwriting process. "I'll sit down with my acoustic guitar and write a song, but I’ll also start with a beat, and then expand it into a song, like it was a hip-hop track. Those worlds can be opposites, but I've always played with both. I wrote the song 'Face to Face' on a ukulele, then added some percussion that sounded like 90s R&B. I wrote 'Sleeping at the Wheel with country songwriting legend Ross Copperman, then took it back to my studio and added an African sample with from a Bela Fleck record."
Released May 4th, CRAZYTALK also marks Kearney's first project as an independent artist. A major-label veteran whose previous albums were issued by Columbia and Republic, Kearney felt the need to create his fifth album with complete freedom.
"I'm now footing every bill and paying for every flight," he says, "but it's beyond worth it. At this season of my life, putting out my fifth record, I really needed to take control creatively. I needed to take my own chances and combine these sounds that've been running through my head since I was a kid. I knew that some of it would like crazy talk to others, but that just gave me more fuel for the fire… as well as a name for the album."
After a few months turned into two years on the road in support of their debut album, When It Was Now – after exploring distant towns in distant countries, pouring their souls out in theaters all over the world – home called. But back in Australia, the blank canvas the brothers faced reflected back two very different people from the ones who had crafted When It Was Now. In the time they had been away, they had created a new normal – built a new community, endured heartbreak, and seen the world.
"All of a sudden we're back in the same place but we're totally different people. We just couldn't stay if we wanted to challenge ourselves and take the next step."
Full of inspiration, Keith and Michael headed to Los Angeles to record new material in the city that had sparked undeniable creative energy for so many artists before them. Home, for now, would be here, and their experience within the bright Angeleno expanse juxtaposed against the darkness of the unknown, which quickly became the through-line that would tie together Atlas Genius’ second album, Inanimate Objects.
The album is a foray into darker emotional realms of songwriter and vocalist, Keith Jeffery, as he explores relationships and experiences, past and present – a journey that maintains the catchiness and sense of melody that the band is known for while exploring the gamut of musical possibility. “It didn't make sense for me musically to write a bunch of happy, cheery pop songs. We were constantly being drawn to darker guitar and synths sounds, as well as some slower rhythms.”
This new exploration afforded the brothers the courage to experiment recklessly with sounds, techniques and genres as they traded their indie sheen for a newfound dynamism. What emerged was something brand new - an amalgamation of ambient, driving pop, punctuated by kinetic electronic beats, guitar and grimy synths.
The album’s underlying sonic current is wonderfully cohesive, but the diversity of influences and breadth of experimentation are everywhere. Current single “Stockholm” was written by Keith on a trip to Sweden, for example. “I had gone partly to write and partly to assess the state of a long distance relationship I was in. I really felt like I was drowning emotionally and needed to let myself breathe.” The musical outcome was perhaps one of the first and clearest departures from their first record. The ultimate result is a song infused with a pulsating rhythm section that reflects the ardor of the human spirit in fight.
On first single “Molecules,” their reconciliations with their own destinies are translated from swirling chaos and angst to pure danceability. “It’s a song about equality and our place in the universe. It's also about the relative scale of things. Do we really have as big of a say in our destiny as we like to think we do? On a universal level, I would say that perhaps we don’t.”
On the other end of the spectrum is the mesmerizing earworm, “Balladino,” which harnesses frustrated energy in darker, contemplative verses which release into soaring, cathartic choruses. Keith explains: “Sometimes there are these long, unrelenting periods of darkness that we go through in life. At times, it feels endless, yet it eventually passes. “Balladino” is about holding out hope.”
“For me,” says Keith, “each song is a tiny little intimate moment that explodes.” And that’s what Inanimate Objects is – a collection of moments that speaks to the heart of the human experience. It’s a search for hope, embrace of change, and, finding one’s home.
Despite its position on the continent, it’s often counted among the Caribbean region due to shared cultural touchstones. Actually situated below sea level, a giant retaining wall separates the land from the ocean. Beyond that wall exists a sovereign nation where residents take pride in art, music, and community.
Juke Ross calls this place home.
“It’s like no other place in the world,” says the alternative folk singer and songwriter. “There’s a general happiness in being alive, facing the sun, and growing your own vegetables. It’s the little things. We’re very patriotic. We gather a lot in town and like to celebrate together.”
That celebratory and life-affirming spirit remains an undercurrent of Juke’s own songwriting. The youngest of fourteen children, he can recall falling in love with music at a young age. The family radio played everything from Caribbean standards to Bob Dylan and Michael Jackson, and he would sit and listen for hours on end.
Inspired by his nurse mom, he enrolled in medical school. In the midst of his studies, guitar beckoned to him.
“In between classes, I was finding lots of new music and getting into artists and their stories,” he goes on. “I was listening to a lot of John Mayer. So, I picked up the guitar. It went really well. I was covering a lot of my favorites. I tried to write after that.”
Juke feverishly began penning music. Among those early compositions, he created “Colour Me.” With its organic tones, breezy strumming, and soulful vocals, the track quietly transformed into an online sensation. In a few months’ time, it had already cracked 500K Spotify streams and earned the endorsement of Pigeons and Planes, Substream Magazine, The Source, and many more, cementing him as a bona fide artist to watch.
“It was written at a great time,” he goes on. “I was really inspired, and the environment was very powerful. I was rediscovering this thing that I love called music. I wanted to be creative with it. I was compelled to express a specific feeling. ‘Colour Me’ is about losing someone, but not being angry about it. There are no feelings of bitterness or regret. There’s some anger and longing in there though. It’s about heartbreak, love, and being brought back to life. That was the beginning. A lot of great things happened after that song came together.”
As “Colour Me” took off independently, Juke landed a major label deal with Republic Records in the States. He immediately hit the studio, compiling ideas for his forthcoming debut.
Ultimately, he makes his home of Guyana very proud by bringing this music worldwide—just like those songs on his childhood radio so long ago…
“When people hear my music, I just want them to feel,” he leaves off. “Music always spoke to me, and now I’m speaking through it.”
215 N. Lumpkin St
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