Discovering The Cold and Lovely last year and their EP Ellis Bell was a defining moment for me. You see I had just started to rediscover my passion for music, writing and general creativity. It had been years since I had done anything creative whether it be singing, writing or generally embracing something other than a piece of legislation in my day job (don’t hate all the lawyers!) So here I was at a juncture in my life, so to speak and I needed to do something different – So I did two things completely our of character with who I was at that time – I started a blog, this blog to be exact and I took up a gig writing for Curve Magazine as an online reviewer.
Slowly my eyes were opened to a world of great indie music, movies and a world of talented people. There are a plethora of talented artists making great art and in this case music and for the most part, doing it all on their own. Something I had started to appreciate having now delved into blogging and learning to do it all myself.
The Cold And Lovely landed in my email inbox and instantly I was hooked to this powerful indie duo with their dark tones and magnetic EP.
Now the duo has released a brand new album What Will I Become, funded through a pledge campaign and the result is a stark move from the sound of Ellis Bell to a new lighter journey through the sounds of synths, beats, complex chords and cool vocals.
Opening with the stunner “Dark Cloud” its punchy chorus and moody sound set the scene as it slowly introduces us to synthesized beats and a floating vocal line. It’s contrasted well with the pop synth of “Just A Thought” and “Runaway” both of which really hint at the influence of Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob album – noted by Toohey as a favorite of the duo over the last year.
Stand out track on this solid album is “Hold On to Me”, but I’m also a self-proclaimed sucker for a ballad and accordingly slanted to the bias of that sound. It’s no surprise to learn that this too is a highly emotional track for them.
Current single “Lost All Control” is edgy and stooped in the classic grunge rock of the 90’s with a modern synth slant – it is a track to get the masses moving. Toohey and Fiorentino’s musical duo is a welcome return to my music collection as it should be to yours. To celebrate this release I was very luck to chat with the duo and delve a little more into their thoughts surrounding the creative direction of What Will I Become, crowd funding (pledge campaigns) and releasing their album via an online concert – below is what this duo had to say.
I loved the new album and the sound for me was a departure from Ellis Bell – Tell me where this direction to your sound has come from?
MT – When I was writing Ellis Bell I wanted it to be a big departure from the sound of our first record so we produced the vocal in a darker way and played a lot with washy distortions and reverbs/delays. On What Will I Become some of the subject matter lent itself to more of a synth/pop direction. We thought the programming and the lighter tones really complimented the material. We also came off a year of loving records like Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob and bands like Phantogram…listening over and over again to those sounds always influence ones work in some way.
I’ve seen that Meghan Produced and Engineered the album and Nicole Co-Produced, how did you guys cope wearing multiple “hats” on this project?
MT – I just thought Nicole should get more credit than playing bass and singing. Even though I write the songs and play/engineer a lot of what you hear on the recordings, she’s really a great editor. Her input is crucial in the way the songs turn out and she’s involved from the very start when I play her a demo with nothing more than a drum beat and me humming a melody.
NF – Meg is definitely the songstress of the 2 of us, but I think what I can bring to our creative process besides bass/vox is an ear that really understands Meg’s vision. I know where she wants to go with a song, sometimes even when she doesn’t know! It can be a little thing like “oh my maybe we should start this song with a half chorus” or whatever it may be. But we work really well together on that level because there is a lot of trust. And she’s always super open to trying whatever it is that I am hearing. it’s a great partnership in that way!
This album came about with the donations of fans through crowd funding. I’ve spoken to a few people lately regarding their crowd funding experiences and they all have mixed feelings about the process. How was your experience, would you use this method again?
MT – I definitely have mixed feelings about it. I think it’s an awesome forum when you are a fan! How cool is it to be able to get so many personalized items from an artist you admire?
From an artist’s perspective., It’s SO much work making exclusives, ordering, packaging shipping, filling out customs forms, posting on social media… People’s illusion of what it’s like to be an indie artist is so off. We recently posted a picture of Nicole at the post office and someone was like, “WOW! You do your own shipping! That’s so cool”.
Also, what initially seems like a good deal of money ends up being not enough. Basically to start it’s all taxed, then you have to create incentives for people to be interested in the project (all these incentives take away from what you make because you have to end up printing so much merch). You can only print in large quantities, so if 25 people buy tshirts, you have to order 100 of them which results to an impressive amount of TC&L crap in our garage, but not enough to get out of the debt acquired from mixing and mastering our album.
Making a record is very expensive, even though we did most of the engineering and recorded in our living room. With that said, it’s one of the only ways without a label any artist I know can put out a record/tour these days. We’ve done two Pledge Campaigns at this point and it gets to a place where you don’t want to have to ask people for money anymore.
NF – We are super grateful that we have this option because we literally could not put out a record without the fans, and the fact that they get to be so closely involved with the project super cool too. That said, it truly is a full time job as Meg said, so there are mixed emotions for sure. I’m not gonna lie, the other day I had a little fit and declared I would never do another Pledge Campaign again! (but that’s mainly because I was dealing with US Postal Service, haha.)
“Hold On to Me” is my personal favourite off the album – can you share with me the story behind this song?
MT – I wrote this upon Nicole’s departure from The Smashing Pumpkins. She was having a tough time with that transition and I just wanted to mark that period in our lives as something we’d be able to move forward from. The song came out pretty quickly and I think it’s one of the strongest I’ve written.
NF – that song is really emotional for me because it is about a very tumultuous time in my life and the process of moving on from it. But that’s the beautiful thing about music, it has the power to help you heal and grow from whatever painful experience you may be going through.
Recently you did a live stream for the official album release, how was that experience and what made you decide to release the album in this way?
MT – I think you have to release an album that way now since touring income is so limited for independent artists. It’s a great way for people to see a live performance from a band they like without the band having to shell out thousands and thousands of dollars for a $50 a night guarantee to play East Bumville, TX. They also feel like they are getting a private show, and can interact with other fans and the bands during the performance. For me, nothing beats playing in front of a live audience, but there is also nothing worse than playing in front of people who aren’t really there to see you. This way people that sign on specifically are there to enjoy your performance.
NF – Kerry Brown who used to produce the Pumpkins is a good friend of mine and he produces Stage IT concerts from his studio (Six 01) pretty regularly. He asked if we wanted to do it and I said of course! I thought it would be really cool especially for international fans who haven’t seen us perform live. We get asked all the time when are we coming to Brazil/Uk/Aus, etc. So we thought of this as, well in the mean time you can watch this live online performance! I think it’s a great concept and would definitely do it again.
Do you have plans to tour down under (Australia) anytime soon?
We’d love to. We aren’t going to give up trying to get there at some point. In the meantime we are going to keep making the music that we love.