Fresh Pick

Riley Etheridge Jr. – New York

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Riley Etheridge Jr. / Americana Roots / Rock Ridge Music

“I really cherish my relationship with the fans. I remember a gig in North Carolina. During the third or fourth song people came down from their seats and danced. It just lifted all of us up, it was fun, and I realized a new way I could connect with people.”

Name:  Riley Etheridge Jr.

Where are you writing this:  Battery Park City, New York

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 1. Home is where your story begins, please tell us a little about yours.

Home is now NYC- but my heart still thinks of South Carolina, Louisiana and California as home because of the meaningful periods of my life I spent in each location.


2. How would you best define your musical style?


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The Strange Familiar- Ohio/ California

Strange Familiar

Photo Credit: Kimi Selfridge

Down to earth. Present Day Nostalgia. Sweet jams in place of bitter hearts.- Fresh Independence

Kira Leyden

Jeff Andrea

Frank Freeman

Nicholas Sainato

T H E   S T R A N G E   F A M I L I A R 

“The Day The Light Went Out” what was the inspiration behind this Album as a whole?

There ‘s something very honest and heartbreaking about this album. There are themes of loss and pain, grieving, and finally surrendering and perseverance throughout this collection of songs. “The Day the Light Went Out” is the culmination of all those themes. It is about the darkest day, the greatest tragedy you could ever experience, but out of that darkness comes hope. That even when the light goes out, the sun will rise again.

Would you share a story behind one of the songs off the Album?

On the album there’s a ballad called “The One” that was inspired by a true story I came across on the news. A mother of three lost her husband suddenly. He was a police officer who was tragically shot and killed on the job. I connected with this story right away, and immediately wanted to find out more about the family. I discovered that the wife had set up a facebook page honoring her husband. After reading her posts pouring her heart out about coping with her loss, I knew I had to write a song about it. In her writing, the wife is crushed with grief on a daily basis, but she is struggling through each day and holding onto hope. Her strength and faith are amazing. As a wife and mother myself, I can imagine the horrible pain I would feel if I were in her shoes. I hope our song conveys that sense of longing and grief, but also the hope she feels. 

Where was the Album recorded/ who produced the Album?

The album was recorded in Los Angeles with a very talented production duo (Josh Zegan and Jeff Sojka). We first met them through a writing session when we co-wrote the song “Gone” together. The song wasn’t originally intended for The Strange Familiar, but the demo they created sounded so good we had to put it on our album. That song made us see our music in a new light and helped to shape the rest of the album. Our relationship grew from a simple writing session into collaborating on the full length. Super talented, long time friend and producer, Brian Malouf, mixed the album.

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Matthew Mole- Cape Town, South Africa

I try to live my life a little differently to the way most people think it should be done. For me, music is very closely linked to that. I like to try and bring my hopes and beliefs through that. What I aim to achieve is for people be affected by my music – in a great way, a way that will make them think about where they’re at. Something that everyone can relate to.

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A Fresh Independence favorite of 2014. Only good things to come from this one… 

 Home is where your story begins, tell us a bit about yours?

My Dad taught me how to play guitar. For years I would learn how to play any song I heard. Years later I started writing my own songs. When I finished school I studied music production where I realised that I wanted to write and perform my songs quite a lot.

How did Just Music find you?

Renee Frouws, this amazing photographer, sent some of my stuff to the great people of Just Music. They got in contact with me and we met up. I really loved everything about Just Music, so we signed the deal.

Which Band/ Artist was your first concert & what do you remember most about that moment?

A Hog Hoggidy Hog headline show. Punk Ska at it’s best. I found myself in the middle of a wild mosh-pit and by the time it was over I had lost one of my really nice vans shoes.

Shout-out to your current favorite Band or Artist?

High Highs. I love that band!

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Phone Home – Brooklyn NY

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Phone Home is comprised of brothers John Vallarelli (Drums), Michael Vallarelli (Synth and Piano) and Jeff Santoro (Guitar). Together they create progressive, sometimes dark and at other times poppy, driving instrumental music. Although the Vallarelli brothers were in separate bands growing up, it took them about twenty years to land in roughly the same place musically and personally to form Phone Home. They self released their third EP entitled WAYS in December of 2013 and plan on releasing a full length later this year.

1. Name: Michael Vallarelli

Age: 30

Where are you writing this. At my apartment Brooklyn Heights

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2. Home is where your story begins, please tell us a little about yours.

 I live in a cozy one-bedroom with my fiancee. It’s perfect because all we do is listen to records, read, watch Netflix, eat good food and drink wine etc etc etc. A lot of serious hanging out and relaxing. It’s a sanctuary of coziness really. 


3. How did Phone Home come to be?

 a phone home 2At the time, I was really into that LCD Soundsystem record This Is Happening, a lot of Brian Eno and Talking Heads. I called my brother and just told him I was gonna buy a synthesizer. The plan was that he and I could create weird soundscapes that would hopefully evoke the mid-twenties fuelled anxiety I was feeling. 


4. Describe your musical style.

 I like to call it instrumental pop in the sense that we try to create distinct and memorable melodies. I really don’t like the “post-rock” label as much but we get dubbed that a lot. We try to create a balance of songs that have a light and dark juxtaposition. It’s also atmospheric and spacey so some people have called it “space-rock”. It’s tough because the minute you tell someone there isn’t vocals, everything gets thrown out the window. 


5. What inspires your compositions?

 My brother and I write music that is truly inspired by our bond and our love of music and what it does to people. There is a little bit of a rejection of mortality in there somewhere as well. Life is incredibly strange and exciting and we try to create music that reflects that, without words. 

 a phone song

6. Do you have a favorite thus far and is there a story behind it?

 My favorite song thus far is probably this new song we are currently working on which doesn’t have a title. It literally sounds like space r&b. Not sure if that is a genre but it is now. 


7. What is the glue that holds you together as musicians?

 A need to keep creating and brotherhood. 

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8. When you are not making music what are you doing?

I currently have a 9-5 job at a dental lab in Manhattan where I help doctors with their problems. I also spend a lot of time with my fiancee exploring life. 


9. In Phone Home which brother is the realist and which is the dreamer?

 We are both dreamers because our mom always told us to never be otherwise. 

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