We MADE IT!!! Just in the nick of time - we finished and submitted our video to NPR's Tiny Desk Contest. We had a such a great time making the video and I couldn't be more thrilled to be playing/singing with these amazing ladies. Hope you enjoy!
A Happy New Year!
I'm always really excited when new year starts. Something really exciting about starting new! And we are off to a great start. First off we finished our 2017 with a very successful show at Rockwood stage 3. It was first time we tried out our new line up with a cellist and a vocalist. Welcome Kirin & Jennie. Jennie is one of our accordion sisters and has worked with us when we covered the Andrew Sisters. So you know she's already a rock star. And Kirin, I swear, she was sent to us by a magical music fairy. She fitted in right away and is adding so much to our music. The show went off great and feedback we received was very encouraging. Overall I felt great energy surging as I performed on the stage with these amazing ladies!
Then we kicked off 2018 with our first ever show with Sofar Sounds. In case you are wondering what the Sofar Sounds is - it is an organization that puts together various secret shows throughout the world. Their mission is to get more people to listen to live music the way it is meant to be listened to, and our show at their HQ in NYC was a completely acoustic (meaning no amplification/mic involved) and we had a blast! If you are looking for a fun way to discover new and local music, I recommend you check them out.
And there is already so much planned ahead this year, it really feels like this is going to be the best year yet for us! Please stay tuned!
Wishing you a magical new year.
Ever wanted our songs on vinyl? Now it's your chance and not only that you get to buy a truly one of a kind vinyl. Read all about it. And go ahead and make my day by buying one of them, please. You won't regret it ;) Link right below.
Leesta Vall comes from “least of all” according to company owner Aaron, when I asked him what it meant. It certainly was one of the smallest studios in terms of the actual size that I have ever recorded in, but it also was one of the most unique places I have ever recorded.
Rebekah and I arrived carrying our instruments, one sunny summer morning, at the building which is surrounded by huge street art. It’s in Bushwick and creativity is certainly abundant here. We chatted with Aaron for a while before we began, I asked him how he got started. (Because I’m a nosy old-lady, ha!) Aaron who has kindly eyes, patiently told us that he is a musician himself that used to tour extensively and has a few albums under his belt. But he got into doing bookings then he discovered direct to vinyl recording. “Nobody was doing it,” he said, but it took him a long time to get the first listenable record, 2000 records to be exact! Maybe nobody is doing it, because it takes craftsmanship and that takes practice and patience, lacking in the technology driven modern world. I’m a sucker for craftsmanship - I’m in awe of the sheer dedication and years that it takes to cultivate it. I believe anything worth doing is worth doing well and beyond.
With our shared love for craftsmanship, we got down to the business. Rebekah was placed in a small sound booth and I stood just outside the sound booth door so we could see each other through the glass window. It helps us feel more comfortable to see each other. It took us a few tries for Aaron to find our volume level and adjust the depth of the groove in the vinyl - really fascinating to see. I was really nervous at first - when everything you do is being recorded straight to vinyl the pressure is on! Or so I thought…but Aaron told us that the charm of doing this kind of recording as apposed to normal recording, where quite often you cut and paste a few takes to make one good take, is in the mistakes! He assured us that the human aspects of the performance is what makes the recording special. He recounted the time one of the bands he recorded even began one song but didn’t like how it was sounding so they stopped in the middle and started an entirely different song and finished it. They kept the title of the original song so whoever bought the record sure is in for a surprise! It reminded me of the days recording my songs straight on to cassette tapes in my own bed room, I relaxed and we had a great time recording our truly unique cuts. Who knows there maybe some surprises sprinkled here and there?!
Week 52 - the Beatles
We made it! For our last song, well…the song says it all. Thank you for all your support - every comment, every “like” inspired us to keep going. We couldn’t have done this without all your support. Thank you.
I’d especially like thank James for his loving and patient support, I know it was a lot to take on! The same goes for Evan - thank you! And most of all, Rebekah. You constantly challenge and inspire me to do better. Thank you lady, I love you so much!
As for the future, I don’t know…but I’m going to do my best to cover all the songs that all of you have suggested. Eventually ;)
And please come see us celebrate at Rockwood Music Hall stage 3 on Thursday, April 27th!
Yay! We. Did. It.
Week 51 - Beyoncé & The Dixie Cup
Last week, when I got stuck choosing songs, I asked for help on the FB and got some amazing suggestions. This week’s idea came from some of those suggestions. I confess - I know almost next to nothing about Beyoncé and her musical career. It seems so crazy considering she is one of the best selling artists of all time! It shows to see how much one can live in one’s own musical bubble… Of course her music is so far away from anything I do, so I decided to bring in a little of my element, hence the 60’s girl pop group The Dixie Cups. It was a lot of fun! Hope you enjoy.
I’d like to thank Megan and Cody for suggesting Beyoncé, and Sophie for suggestions the Dixie Cups! You ladies are wonderful! Thank you!
Week 50 - Carly Simon
This song followed me all week while I was in England. It’s such a brilliant song. I love good breakup songs. The song’s history is intriguing as Carly Simon always alluded to the subjects of the song but did not entirely reveal them. The only personality confirmed is Warren Beaty. Warren Beaty proved he’s worthy of the song by claiming the entire thing for himself and even thanked Carly Simon, ha! But Carly says it’s about 3 men and the other two remain something of a mystery. Angie Bowie claims that she’s “the wife of a close friend” and that Mick Jagger was supposedly “obsessed with her.” Interestingly, Jagger contributed very distinctive backing vocals to the recording. Meanwhile, we had such a great time singing it - nothing to do with my own experiences, of course :PEnjoy!
Week 49 - Fleetwood Mac
I think the most interesting thing about Stevie Nicks to me is that her voice and her appearance do not match. I’ve always enjoy watching her sing for that reason, she looks so delicate, a little like an angel on top of a Christmas tree then you hear that deep voice. I love her voice. Interestingly this song didn’t get released as a single when the album Fleetwood Mac was released. It wasn’t till 23 years later when Fleetwood Mac released the live album the Dance. It’s a beautiful song and I’ve always loved it. Glad to have a go at it. Hope you enjoy!
Week 48 - Simon and Garfunkel
The internet went down mysteriously yesterday and again mysteriously came back late last night… Who knows why. Internet wasn’t the only thing that was strange this week for us. First we had to scrap the song we were planning on covering (long story, ugh) so then we had to come up with a song and learn it in an hour! We settled on this song but to our surprise, it’s deceptively complicated! We should’ve known, we tried to cover a Paul Simon’s song before and miserably failed. One of the interesting thing about doing this project is that I get to peek into the personality of each composers. I find Paul Simon’s songs to be exacting and fussy in details. The combination that makes Paul Simons songs so genius but it doesn’t bode well with my personality… But here we go, we must embrace challenges of all sorts. Once we learned it though, it was so much fun to sing! Hope you enjoy!
Week 46 - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
A long time ago, when I went to see Brendan Benson and the Wellfed Boys, they jokingly started play this song on stage just because my friend said that was one of her favorite songs. I was pretty impressed that they could play the song just like that! Turns out, the song is pretty easy to play… not saying Brendan and his co. aren’t talented, of course they are, but anyway it was lots of fun to learn and play this song. It was originally written by the British band the Arrows but it was Joan Jett that made this song so iconic. It doesn’t get more Rock ’n’ Roll than Joan Jett!
Week 45 - Frankie Valli and Four Sesons
Evidently I’m not very good at sticking to a plan. Bekah and I had a list of songs of the last 10 weeks and I’ve already derailed from the list… Bekah wasn’t that surprised though - she’s used to me changing things all the time!
This song came on the radio and has been stuck in my head ever since. Although James reminded me that our friend Greg suggested this song for me to cover a long long time ago. Well it took me awhile but here it is. We purposely didn’t use trumpet for the really distinct trumpet solo because we really liked it how it sounded as we sung the solo when we were rehearsing. Do you agree? Hope you enjoy!
Week 44 - Radiohead
First time I saw Radiohead perform live, they were opening for PJ Harvey. I didn’t know anything about them then but I remember thinking that they were amazing. Thom Yorke had bright red hair. After that I heard about them again when Creep became a big hit, but it was the release of the Bends that really got me (and more likely the rest of the world) hooked on Radiohead. I admire their artistry and creativity and the Bends and OK Computer are the albums that I go back and listen to quite often. Apparently Thom Yorke called this song “it’s not bad…it’s very bad.” But I like it and enjoyed singing it. Hope you enjoy. Only 8 more to go…
Week 43 - Bjork
I still remember very vividly the first time I saw Bjork. There was this very short lived music program on NHK (PBS of Japan) that I loved and they used to play lots of music that were relatively unknown in Japan. One night they talked about this Icelandic band called “Sugarcubes” and showed their video. The song was called “Birthday” and a girl in a red dress was singing. Her voice was nothing like I’d ever heard, it blew my mind. I went and bought their album the very next day. Ever since then, Bjork’s music has become part of my life. I love that her music (and herself) is always unique, strange and beautiful. And I love her visual and conceptual approach to her music. She’s a very visual musician and that’s what I wanted to bring to the filming of this song. Rebekah and I had a great time painting flowers, ha!
Also I’d like to thank Marianne from MSO for planting this seed in my head, what seems like such a long time ago now. When Main Squeeze Orchestra was discussing new additions to their repertoire, Marianne suggested this song and that I should sing it. That never happened but we incorporated accordion for you Marianne.
Hope everyone enjoys it!
Week 42 - Dolly Parton
Can’t believe there’s only 10 more weeks to go! Bekah and I were brainstorming for the last 10 songs and the artists that we definitely wanted to cover and Dolly Parton was one of them. What’s not to love about Dolly?! She’s inspirational in so many ways - her creativity, her humanity and her style. This song that she wrote back in the 60’s was a response to her husband’s questioning (and subsequent reaction) to if she'd ever been with a man before him. Of course it was a rather a daring statement to make back in the day. These days with the imminent threat to women’s rights (jail time for abortion, seriously????) I think it’s very important to pay respect and give gratitude to women who paved the way for all of us. Every courageous voice counts. Thank you, Dolly!
We couldn’t pick just one song to express all the emotions that this inauguration brought upon us so we made a medley.
Everyone who’s marching today - stay safe and positive. And whatever you do, Don’t stop believing!
Week 40 - George Michael
I couldn’t believe when I learned about George Michael’s passing on Christmas Day. The horrible year that claimed so many talented souls, I honestly thought only one week left we were home safe. I was wrong. It apparently needed to take a few more away from us before it closed its door forever. I haven’t really listened to George Michael for a long long time, listening to his songs, I felt really nostalgic. He was such a craftsman when it comes to songwriting. We were really happy to be able to do this tribute for him. Hope you enjoy!
He would have been 70 tomorrow. It’s hard to believe that he’s been gone for almost a year. In the madness that followed through out that year and the strange political climate that continues to this year, I realized I really needed to sing this song. This song, originally recorded in the 70’s in Berlin depicts lovers separated by the Berlin Wall. His performance of the song in West Berlina decade later is considered a catalyst to the eventual fall of the Berlin Wall.
Happy almost birthday, Starman. We miss you dearly.
Week 38 - Tom Waits
Grand Finale of Tom Waits December! The song that started it all for us. We have been singing this song for so long that sometimes we even forget that it is a cover, ha! We’ve been wanting to collaborate with our California half of the band and finally our dream came true. Bi-coastal video! Rebekah and I miss these gentlemen so much. Even though we didn’t play together in real life, I think this video portrays the feeling of what it is like when we do play together.
I think it is important to close a year right and I’m glad we are able to do so with a style! Hope you enjoy.
Wishing you a very happy new year!
Week 37 - Tom Waits
It was a very difficult task to pick songs from Tom Waits’s vast collection of songs. And it was wonderful to see that so many people have such an affection for him and his songs. In the end I decided to cover one of my all time favorite songs. This was the song that made me fall in love with Tom Waits and I’ve tried to sing in the past but coudn’t quite get it. So it was time to try again! It’s the intro of the song that gets me every time so we had to work on that - it’s just so perfect in a drinking whiskey in the afternoon kind of way. It also has the line “just get me to New Orleans” which is pretty much how I feel every time I think about that beautiful city. As I was recording the song I realized that this song is probably about Mardi Gras, which meant we sang about entirely wrong holiday but that’s how we roll over here in Miwa Gemini land. Enjoy.
Week 36 - Tom Waits
I was editing this video this morning (which I tend to do because I’m always running WAY behind with this project) all was quiet while snowed outside. It was beautiful and peaceful. And I felt this song fits the mood of the day. I’m not quite tired of the snow yet although ask me in March and I might have a different answer!
Week 35 - Tom Waits (1985)
One of the many things I love about Tom Waits is his ability to make music with just about anything. Unusual instruments, unusual subject matters, unusual ideas, unusual situations - all of these things makes his world so exciting and interesting. Like this week’s song, Cemetery Polka from the album Rain Dog. It's a song about aging relatives who are mostly insane, dying or both. Absurdity with a twisted sense of humor ran through this song and it includes some of my favorite rhymes like “egg” and “wooden leg” and “hotel” and “hell.”
I read that Tom Waits walked around NYC recording street sounds and other ambient noises on a cassette recorder in order to catch the sound of the city for recording Rain Dog. Rain Dog is one of my favorite albums and it makes me happy that it was written in my old neighborhood West Village, though I’m sure it was quite a different neighborhood back then.
I’ve been wanting to to do all toy instrumentation and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. We had a great time working on this song. I hope you enjoy!
“If I want a sound, I usually feel better if I've chased it and killed it, skinned it and cooked it.” - Tom Waits
And a happy belated birthday, Mr. Waits!