Thom Byles – Greenwich, London

We were really excited when our sweet friend Thom Byles stopped by to share a song from his new project Hanging Valleys.

Feels so right when soothing music floats your direction and gently washes over you when needed most. English – Mexican  singer songwriter Thom Byles knew just what we were looking for when he stopped by to share his good energy. With a sound as haunting as Bon Iver but drawn from that place that only he can call his own. We invite you to come on in for a moment to the world of Thom Byles and discover something new.

– Fresh Independence


 Home is where your story begins… please share a little about yours.

I started my life in a small village called Nazeing in Essex, England. I’ve lived in a fair few different places but that one feels the most like home. The village is near woods, lakes and some canals which was incredible to grow up around and explore.

How did music find you and begin to grow within?

My first memory of enjoying music was when my Mum would sit me and my sister in the living room whilst she would do an aerobics video, always the same one hahah. The workout was enhanced by incredible bass lines and 80’s style saxophone which soon had me running around the room projecting my limbs in all different manors and speeds.

Some years later when I was living in Mexico I would ride the bus to school which would take about an hour. My parents had a great collection of tapes and I would audition them on my walkman on the ride in. Things like The Doors, The Kinks, Cream, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jazz on a Summers Day to name some. That’s when I really started to listen to music a lot. I would have those two hours a day to myself and I could stick a tape in and get lost in the sounds. I knew I wanted to be involved in music and so started out borrowing the school saxophone and having after school lessons. That didn’t turn out so well so I moved on to the piano and then finally on to the guitar where I felt at home.

What is the songwriting process like for you?

It always takes me by surprise. I always try and make time to write but it’s quite rare that something ever comes out of those sessions. Most of my songs come about at the weirdest times. Sometimes I’ll just pick up the guitar briefly while I’m waiting for a tea to brew or for my turn in the shower and then the next thing you know you’ve got the makings of a song on your hands and a freezing cold cup of tea! Mostly I start out with a line on the guitar and then I try various vocal melodies until I find one I like and the rest of the song stems from there. The lyrics come last..

Tell us about your relationship with the guitar & ukulele.

When I first picked up a guitar it was the first instrument that I really felt comfortable with. Especially the nylon string acoustic. I loved how you could make such a complete sound and that different tunings would make it feel and play very differently. It amazes me how each and every guitarist has their own way of interacting with it. What an instrument!

The ukulele was a gift to me from a very good friend. I was travelling a bit over one summer and wasn’t able to take a guitar with me. I fell in love with it. Being limited to only using 4 strings and having a less powerful sound forced me to really focus on the song writing. I haven’t been playing it as much recently by itself but I’ll often use it when recording to add another layer and texture to the sound.

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The Zilis – Hamilton, Ontario

” Not since The White Stripes has a band lit us up quite like The Zilis. With a sound that is distinctly nostalgic and rocking full of fun, these guys are proof that good things do come north of the border.  ”  – Fresh Independence

Name: Zander Lamothe, Justin Bozzo and Sean Royle

Age: Zander is 24. Justin and Sean are 26.

 Where are you writing this: Sean’s home.


How did The Zilis come to be?

We started playing together when we were in high school. We had a front man at first but we really started playing as a three-piece when we formed a cover band called the Led Hot Zili Peppers. We played three one-hour long sets a night to pay off the debts of our old band. When our front man left, we began writing originals as a trio and found that things were really clicking. Eventually, we decided to shorten the name to The Zilis for our original stuff.

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Making of a Remarkable Album Cover

1977 Hotel California Was Number One

The Eagles — ‘Hotel California’ was the first album to feature guitarist Joe Walsh, whose playing and songwriting influence brought the band from its more country-leaning efforts towards a more mainstream rock audience.

Designer of some of the most well-known album cover images in history, John Kosh has always appreciated a challenge. When the Eagles’ manager and record label called him looking for an image to convey the new Eagles work he jumped at it.

“I had been designing album covers and promotional material in London for The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Beatles – Abbey Road as well as John Lennon and his – War Is Over campaign.”

The Eagles during ‘Hotel California’ introduced guitarist Joe Walsh to the fold. Walsh brought a heavier rock sound to an album, which won a Grammy in 1977 for Record of the Year. The Eagles were huge, enjoying hit after hit, and the California rock scene was burgeoning. I got to hear an early rendition of their song Hotel California destined to be the first cut on, and the title of, their next album. It was an obvious hit.

“For the album cover, Don wanted me to find and portray the Hotel California — a hotel which would best exemplify a classic California hotel, and to portray it with a slightly sinister edge. Photographer David Alexander and I set out to scout suitable locations. We photographed three hotels (including some with a rather ‘seedily genteel’ character) that fit the brief, and large prints were made for approval. By now I was dealing mostly with Henley — the rest of the band would saunter in as we progressed and mutter their approvals — and he preferred more sumptuous images. The shot of The Beverly Hills Hotel against the golden sunset was deemed the favorite.To get the perfect picture, David and I had perched nervously atop a 60-foot cherry picker dangling over Sunset Boulevard in the rush hour, shooting blindly into the sun. Both of us brought our Nikons up in the basket, and we took turns shooting, ducking and reloading. We used high-speed Ektachrome film as the light began to fade. This film gave us the remarkable graininess of the final shot.”

a hotel california - john kosh

“Beautiful dye-transfer prints of the chosen frame were made by the great Ted Staidel. I designed and drew out the master Hotel California logo, which was to become the theme of the package and the promotional materials. The script was almost impossible to bend in real neon, and, so, after many experiments, Bob Hickson was commissioned to airbrush the neon effect on the logo — which he did wonderfully — and it was pasted over the Beverly Hills Hotel sign on Ted’s print. The whole piece was then re-photographed, re-printed on the same stock as the original image and retouched to match the grain and hide the surgery.”

“Next we organized the gatefold spread — a photo of the band surrounded by friends in the hotel lobby. This was shot inside a cleverly re-decorated flophouse, called The Lido, in Hollywood by David Alexander. Nobody knows what the sinister figure lurking in the balcony window is doing, or who he is. I assume he must have been a benign spirit as ‘Hotel California’ went platinum immediately.”

“It is interesting to note that I got tangled in the same heated debate with Asylum Records over the using of the band’s name on the cover that I had years earlier with EMI in London. I thought it unnecessary to use the words, The Beatles on ‘Abbey Road,’ considering the album was so eagerly anticipated and they were the biggest band in the world at the time. Such was the case with ‘Hotel California.’ By 1976 the Eagles were the biggest band in the world and eventually only the title, ‘Hotel California’ appeared on the original cover of the album. Subsequently, as the sales of ‘Hotel California’ went through the roof, lawyers for The Beverly Hills Hotel threatened me with a ‘cease and desist’ action — until it was gently pointed out by my attorney that the hotel’s requests for bookings had tripled since the release of the album.”

What an amazing album with a gorgeous cover.  There is music history in the making.

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History in the simple things- Music.

a bob marley

All too often in this day and age artists become flashes in a pan of one hit wonders through the luxuries and downfalls of technology and social media. Back in the day when words, visions, hopes & dreams were simply recorded in black and white print in the morning papers, oddly enough they hold truth, vision and the way it was to be. No bright lights and banners, but simply music, hopes and dreams with stories to be told with solid action and commitment. Robert Hilburn called this one right as each icon lives on today in the footprints of music history that are the foundation of music as we know it today.

“In his triumphant U.S. tour last year, 31-year-old Marley displayed the kind of stunning musical stance and convincing persona that has made him the most important and acclaimed new arrival in rock since Bruce Springsteen. There are only a dozen or so artists of each generation (Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, among the most prominent in the 1950s; the Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Hendrix, among others in the 1960s) who carry both the artistic vision and popular appeal to be truly influential. Marley is an artist with enough impact, originality and purpose to join them.” – Robert Hilburn, Los Angeles Times (May 1976)

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