Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Get Lyrical: Q&A With Daphne Willis

Daphne Willis is one busy girl”she’s been tearing up the Best Of charts here on OurStage all while working on her brand new album Because I Can. We think you’ll like Willis’ charming songwriting style, so we sat down with the Nashville-based singer-songwriter to talk about her writing, her first single I Will Be Waiting, and her unlikely love for Eminem.

OS: What’s your writing process usually like?

DW: I have different processes depending on if I’m writing by myself or co-writing, which I’ve been getting into a little bit more over the past year, professionally. Usually I’ll get a chord progression and then just write melodies over the progression”this is when I’m writing by myself”and then kind of work things out. When I write by myself I have to be alone, and, I don’t know, in a mood, or something. I don’t know what you call that… a creative mood. And when I write with other people, it depends on who I’m writing with. Some people like to do a title and will come up with a concept or a title and then write the song around that. Some people want to write to an emotion, or write a story, or whatever. You kind of map it out at the beginning”it’s going to be slow, or fast, or what have you.

OS: Do you prefer co-writing or writing alone?

DW: I think they each serve their own purpose. I think for me, the solo writes are definitely more of a therapeutic thing, where it’s more of a release for me on an emotional level or some subconscious level. Usually when I’m writing by myself it’s because I need to, and when I write with other people it’s because I want to and because I have fun writing. When it’s more of a group, collaborative effort it’s so much fun, and you get to kind of rub off on each other and learn other peoples’ styles and get in other peoples’ heads, which is just really fun.

OS: How did you decide on I Will Be Waiting as the first single?

DW: Well actually the next single is going to be Do What You Want, I think we’re switching the radio. But I Will Be Waiting was definitely a strong song for me because I’m always traveling and I always relate to people who are always having that longing feeling or they’re missing something. At the time we wrote it I was in a relationship and definitely felt that longing when you’re on the road, away from your loved ones … So we kind of just wanted to capture that emotion, and it just seemed like the right fit at the time when we were picking it. I’ve kind of shifted a little bit overall, and I think Do What You Want is going to be a great addition to our efforts and our campaigning, getting me out there this year. Both of the songs are great. And they’re both co-writes, so I had a lot of fun making them.

OS: It’s hard to tell if it’s a happy or a sad song”did you do that on purpose?

DW: Definitely. I think that the song is supposed to be bittersweet, because you have somebody that you miss, but you have somebody that you miss, you know what I mean? You’re gonna have to go through that emotion, but at least you have that emotion to go through, and you’re going through it with somebody else. I always try and stay on the positive side of things, and even negative emotions can be turned upside down and looked at in a different light. You appreciate what you have.

OS: So since you have been co writing a lot recently, are there any songwriters who you dream about collaborating with?

DW: You know, I would probably, like I could die immediately afterwards, if I wrote with Stevie Wonder. I could just die afterwards and be like, All right, that’s it! I did what I came to do. [Laughs] No not really, but you know what I mean. I would love to work with Stevie Wonder. I would love to work with… Gosh, there’s a lot of people. Ben Harper would definitely be one of them, from a lyrical standpoint I think he’s just a genius. And you know, we were listening to Eminem earlier today, or last night, I think it was. And we were saying how lyrically, he’s just a genius. And the phonetical way that he phrases his lyrics and how he accents and stresses which syllables in which sentences is just… he’s a monster. So I would also actually love to work with him, ironically.

OS: What are your favorite things to write about? Do you often write about love?

DW: I actually try to not write about love as much, because I feel like although love is one of the most powerful emotions, certainly, I think it’s a little bit overwritten. I like to”when I do writing sessions”challenge people to write a song that is not a love song. Write about something that is maybe inspirational or as emotionally big, but not love. People fascinate me, things like what motivates people, what stresses people out. When I listen to music I like to feel inspired in a positive way, or somehow empowered, and feel like I can go out and do things. I’ve been trying to write more stuff like that, that’s really uplifting and encouraging and just positive. That’s definitely the direction of this record and definitely the direction of the songs I’ve been writing since we recorded this record, too.

Check out Willis’ new album Because I Can to hear “I Will Be Waiting” for yourself!

OurStage Artists Gear Up For 2011 Releases

Winter is a good time for recording. Tours slow down, the weather is a drag and despite the dreary landscapes,  it seems the creative juices flow so come spring we’re presented with more new releases than our iPods can stand”just in time for summer touring season. Okay so maybe there is a method to the cycle, but come February we get a renewed sense of excitement all the same. Recently we’ve been putting out a call on Twitter and Facebook asking which OurStage artists have new material in the works or recently hitting the shelves. In addition to some great responses, we’ve also been doing a little digging ourselves, and have come up with a great list of EPs, LPs and singles that are either available now or will be in the near future.

So read on to check out the latest from your OurStage favs. Did we miss you? First of all shame on you for not @replying us on Twitter. We forgive you, though, and you can always email us at with your news. Add us to your mailing lists, we’d love to hear from you!

Daphne Willis – This songstress is no stranger to the OurStage charts, and has the achievements to prove it, including a 6 week stint at Number 1 on the Best of Pop chart. We’re sure her new LP Because I Can”an album swirling with inventive melodies carrying straight-to-the-heart lyrics”will provide even more badges. Leading up to Because I Can‘s release, 3 Digital 45s will be released in advance of the full-length record. The second of the 3 “Do What You Want” dropped this past Tuesday and can be found on Daphne’s Web site as well as the option to pre-order the album.

Daphne Willis – Because I Can, April 19,

Bronze Radio Return – You may remember this fok-rock group’s unique moniker from the John Mayer Side Stage Warfare Competition when they won the coveted side stage performance in Massachusetts (which you can watch a video of here). When an advance copy of their new album SHAKE! SHAKE! SHAKE! showed up in our inbox one morning we spent the rest of the day dance dance dancing in our chairs. Don’t believe us? Grab an EXCLUSIVE free download of the release’s title track “Shake Shake Shake” on the OurStage Facebook tab for Editor Picks. Don’t want to wait until March? Head over to BRR’s Web site, where pre-order for the album began Feb. 1.

Bronze Radio Return – SHAKE! SHAKE! SHAKE!, March 29, [BTdub, you can download the title track exclusively on the OurStage Facebook page FOR FREE!]

Tamppa – There’s no doubt about it, Brooklyn-based rapper Tamppa has skills. He also hustles, and has won a mentoring session with Columbia Records, editorial feature on as well as other various hip hop accolades here on OurStage, and has even shouted us out in his submission to be included in an upcoming T Pain mixtape. So we weren’t surprised when he dropped us a line to tell us about his HUNGERPAIN vol. 1 mixtape coming up, which is hosted by Sha Stimuli & Dj Young Cee of shady/Gunit. He’s got more friends on there than we can name, but you can pick it up for free when its released mid February on a variety of sites.

Tamppa – HUNGERPAIN vol. 1, mid February,, Tamppa Facebook page

A’tris – OurStage resident rockers A’tris have been a constant fixture on the OS charts since debuting in the Music Video Channel in 2008. Since then they’ve gained recognition in genres across the board, including alternative, electronic, electro-pop and rock, in addition to going strong with videos. Suffice it to say they’ve got a ton of material, so their plan for putting out a new demo every week in 2011 seems totally appropriate. The band is asking for fans feedback on each track and will eventually use all that input to put together their new album. You can read blog posts and descriptions of the demos when they’re released each week right on A’tris’ Web site.

A’tris – One Demo Released Every Week of 2011 –

Wes Kirkpatrick – Another OurStage favorite, Wes has dazzled fans with his songwriting abilities for years, graced the OurStage magazine more than once, opened for HANSON after winning the Shout It Out With HANSON Competition and supported acts like Blues Traveler, State Radio and Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers. Get a sneak peak of Wes’ upcoming release Naps & Nightmares by listening to a new track of the album “Where You Are” on his Web site.

Wes Kirkpatrick – Naps & Nightmares – March 1 –

Stacy Clark – OurStage has been a long time supporter of this Southern California singer, and is even quoted in her release promoing her upcoming album Connect The Dots. While the album is available for download on iTunes now, Connect The Dots official worldwide release is scheduled for Feb 15. The do-gooder has also made one of the tracks, “Not Enough” available for free download in conjunction with To Write Love On Her Arms, to which a donation will be made for every download.

Stacy Clark – Connect The Dots – available now – iTunes and Amazon

Check out these other releases from OurStage artists

Mike Del RioThe New World EP on iTunes

Martha’s TroubleAnchor Tattoo on

Michael SondersYour Pretty Face EP on iTunes

Best of Pop 2008

To ring in the new year, we here at OurStage thought it would be a good idea to step back and reflect on some great new artists that emerged on the scene in 2008 and are likely to be the ones to watch in 2009. This is our list of pop favorites:

If you haven’t heard of this kid, it is only a matter of time. Receiving an average of over 60,000 myspace plays a day, this young Missouri native is the definition of internet success, translating his online fanbase into a legion of adoring fans, reminiscent of Beatlemania. After releasing the Yippee EP in September, NeverShoutNever went on tour with HelloGoodbye and Ace Enders playing sold out shows across the country.

Freddy Wexler has had a long musical journey for such a young musician. In 2005 After getting picked up by a major label and subsequently dropped only two months later the then 18 year old singer had to grasp the fact that he went from achieving his dream only to end up with nothing. This former University of Pennsylvania student is making a name for himself once again. With the help of Kidd Kraddick in the Morning, a radio personality based in Dallas Texas, Freddy is once again on his way to the limelight playing a sold out show opening for Good Charlotte in Dallas in July as well as playing the Dallas date of the Vans warped tour.

Daphne Willis and Company
If you take all the best parts of Ben Harper, Lilly Allen, John Mayer, and Amy Winehouse you’ll  get a good idea of the beautifully laid back sound of Daphne Willis and Company. Since releasing the Exhibit A EP in September the band has played over 75 shows throughout the Midwest with acts including Zox, Matt White, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. With a new release expected in early 2009 next year should be just as successful for these Chicago natives.

Born out of a overpriced and undersized bedroom in New York City Plushgun’s Dan Ingala started the band by adding synth to the acoustic songs he had been writing. Based off of the success of Plushgun on the band was added to the roster of Tommy boy records in June. Plushgun released their first album on Tommy Boy in  July and have been touring ever since.

Jetty Rae
With her heartfelt lyrics and soothing voice Jetty Rae almost immediately creates an intimate connection with listeners upon their first listen. A vocal quality similar to the likes of Norah Jones, Adelle, and  Fiona Apple drive these beautiful acoustic songs. After releasing her first Album Blackberries in May  Jetty Rae has continued to gig all over Michigan and the Midwest including a show opening for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals in December.