Now that we’re at the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 shutting down the world, the loss of live music weighs heavier than ever. The optimism that led artists to reschedule their Spring 2020 tours for Fall 2020 and then Winter 2021 and then...indefinitely...has waned to such a level where just the idea of being in a sweaty, packed room watching music seems nearly impossible. Not to mention, the heartbreaking closure of venues left and right, leaving the live music industry in a dire situation.
But optimistic we must remain! I’m confident that there will be a time not too far from now that we’ll be able to gather together to listen to music. It might look a little different from what we’re used to, but I have to believe that it will happen.
In the meantime, we thought it would be fun to reminiscence on the beauty of live music by having artists share their past journals from the road. The response was overwhelming. A barrage of doodles, poems, pictures, setlists, and straightforward journal entries all made their way into my inbox. Step out of the house and into the (imaginary) van with five of these artists, Winter, Alex Bleeker, Badlands, Sasha and the Valentines, and Lost Film. Continue to follow KEXP’s Reminiscing the Road for more stories.
Since 2015, Brazilian-born, LA-based artist Samira Winter has been making gorgeously crafted dream pop under the name Winter that’s full of shimmering synths, fuzzy guitars, and ethereal vocals that you’d expect from the genre tag. Her latest album, 2020’s Endless Space (Between You and I), continues this tradition with wistfully refined sighing melodies. In the wake of a postponed 2021 tour supporting Surfer Blood, Winter shares some of her prior musings written on tours between 2017-2019.
Tour Diary excerpts from 2017 - 2019
Believe that your dreams are made for you to experience them.
And now it starts…
The “journaling” that everyone says they wanna do on tour. Listening to Reptaliens in the car. With my throat hurting a bit per usual.
In-ears have changed my life but now I need to watch my body - pedal movements.
(December 2017 - Buenos Aires, AR)
The show yesterday was awesome! I really feel like Winter would do well here. There are so many indie kids and i love their style. Jeans, converse, striped t-shirt, bangs...I felt like we were playing in a soccer stadium because when the break happened in “Jaded”, the whole crowd was clapping with their arms up. It was such an exhilarating feeling. I was so happy. We really need to release “Ethereality” already - it’s gotta happen next year. It’s been so chill with the girls. I just sometimes get tired of talking and hearing people talk. But i guess it’s in my nature - at the end of the day, i’m actually more of an introvert that seems like an extrovert. Don’t get burnt out...
A good mood is essential for a good tour. As well as respect and patience.
I can’t wait to cut my toe nails…
Touring is such a mission. Every tour is different. Part of that mission is arriving at the venues, feeding the band, and finding a place to sleep - and more importantly, stability and a good vibes.
(Sept 2019 - West Coast Tour, USA)
Why is it so hard to eat healthy when we tour here? Should we do what Boogarins do and just go to Whole Foods once a day and get the lunch bar? ahh i wonder if the band would be down.
Everything you live through can be cool depending on the eyes in which you see it. Driving makes me feel like I have a purpose. It lets my thoughts come and go - and grow - literally and internally you are in motion. I feel more free when I’m on tour...and i love feeling free. The best is when you're driving and you’re a blank slate, where your mind isn’t thinking anything. It’s like you're meditating. I also like when I’m in the backseat with my headphones on just looking out the window.
I had a dream that we were opening for the Yeah Yeah Yeah's at this sold out festival and my whole band was waiting for me in the green room. But I had to go get my pedals from another stage and walk through the crowd. It was so packed with people that by the time I got back we had missed our set time.
I want music to be fun. I want the experience of making and playing music to be a pleasurable experience.
Winter's latest album, Endless Space (Between You & I), was released last year. Listen to her latest single “Violet Blue” below.
Swedish producer, composer and sound designer Catharina Jaunviksna has a rich and varied history in music. After having worked mainly with film scores, she formed Badlands in 2012 to make a home for her growing pile of song sketches and musical desires. Debut EP Battles Within (2012) was followed by Tutu (2013) and the critically acclaimed album Locus (2016) became a token for her dark and distinct sound told through warm reassuring melodies. Badlands recently released the full-length Djinn, which combines a palette of electro, post-punk and new wave influences into emotionally enveloping music reminiscent of Boards of Canada to My Bloody Valentine.
Jaunviksna is also a touring musician and has played synths and keys with The Radio Dept. She considers herself a real ”scribbler/sketchbooker” when on tour and has shared with KEXP a setlist from a gig that shows all the settings for her sampler/synths/keys with notes & scribbles on it. "It really brings me back to touring and playing live, and made me realize how much I miss it..." says Jauvinska of the image.
Djinn is out this Friday, March 5th via Jaunviksna’s record label and production company RITE. Watch the video for single “Out of Reach” below.
As a founding member of Real Estate and frontman of Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, Alex Bleeker has done his fair share of touring. With any plans to tour behind his latest forthcoming solo album, Heaven on the Faultline, on pause during the pandemic, Bleeker has looked to the past to share a favorite tour memory with KEXP.
It was almost exactly 11 years ago and I was in Europe for the first time with Real Estate on our very first tour overseas. We had one of those hellish all day and night drives from Bordeaux, France all the way to Porto, Portugal. For the record - I’d kill to be on the road, driving all day and night to the next show right now. When we finally got in to Porto, the narrow street that our hotel was on was completely flooded with people. Imagine our delight when we realized that we had just pulled into Portugal on the last night of CARNIVAL. I don’t remember much of the evening, but I remember that we were almost instantly caught up in the celebratory stream of people, flowing seamlessly through bars, street processions, and strangers apartments. It was like a scene out of “The Sun Also Rises”. That sort of wonderful unpredictability is what I miss most about touring ...
Alex Bleeker's forthcoming solo album Heaven on the Faultline is out now via Night Bloom Records. Watch the video for lead single "D Plus" below.
Austin-based five-piece Sasha and the Valentines make dreamily nostalgic synth-pop for lovelorn listeners that also probably enjoy bands like Beach House or Tennis. On April 16, the band is unveiling their debut record So You Think You Found Love? Via Oof Records. Produced by Erik Wofford (My Morning Jacket, Explosions in the Sky, Bill Callahan, Molly Burch), the album explores many themes of ambiguity to the lingering shame of codependency in past relationships and coming to terms with Addi's queerness.
Sasha and the Valentines have shared a series of photos, journals, and sketches from two previous tours, one in the Southeast to Athens, GA in December 2019 and a Californian tour in July 2019 supporting Spirit Ghost.
December 2019, Southeast to Athens, GA, Solo Headline Run
We went on this run in December 2019. We drew a route from Austin to Athens, GA and set it up ourselves; it was our first headlining run. We played in Houston, New Orleans, Hattiesburg, Birmingham, Memphis, and Dallas. In most of the places, nobody knew us, but we made good friends in each town with the other bands, our hosts, the bartenders, the friends of friends who made it out.
July 2019, California, Supporting Spirit Ghost
We supported Spirit Ghost (a simple support considering all of us except Sarah play in Spirit Ghost) on their run to the West Coast in July 2019. It was our first time playing outside of Texas and further west than Texas, but Spirit Ghost had a great audience waiting for them in California which made our shows big and energetic. We played in El Paso, Phoenix, San Diego, LA, Albuquerque, Norman, and Dallas. We have never been hotter than Phoenix in mid-July.
Sasha and the Valentines’ debut album So You Think You Found Love? Is out April 16th via Oof Records. Watch the video for “Witches” below.
Massachusettes musician Jimmy Hewitt records introspective guitar pop under the name Lost Film. His latest record, 2019’s Zero Summer, takes inspiration from the T.S. Eliot poem “Little Gidding,” as the idea of finding light even in dark times stuck with the 31-year-old songwriter. While he records alone, playing every instrument on Zero Summer himself, Hewitt is joined on stage by a full band for Lost Film’s live shows.
In reminiscing about prior performances, Hewitt shared doodles of merch ideas, a setlist from his show in late 2019 with Palehound, and even a breakdown of each band member making $7 from a short tour in the New England area (he said it was disheartening at the time but funny in hindsight).
Lost Film’s third studio album, Zero Summer, is out now. Below, watch Lost Film’s Twitch performance for Allston-Brighton Mutual Aid Benefit Show.
Martin Douglas chronicles nearly half a lifetime of live music healing the wounds of life.
For Live Music Heals, KEXP's Dusty Henry reflects on the little moments of concerts that end up mattering the most.