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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

     HANGING VALLEYS

 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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Linda Eastman on Photographing The Doors

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I first photographed The Doors at a small New York club, close to the 59th Street Bridge, called Ondine’s, which was a favorite place for out of town bands to come and play residencies.

It was the winter of 1966 and I was down there with some friends to see a Los Angeles band that Elektra Records had recently signed. I had my camera with me and started taking pictures of them as they played.

No one in New York had heard of The Doors. They had never performed outside of Los Angeles and hadn’t released any records. Because they were unknown and the club was so intimate I had the unique opportunity of being able to get up really close as they played.

It wasn’t Jim Morrison’s looks that struck me first about him. It was the poetry of his songs and the way he would get completely lost in the music. He had this habit of cupping his hand behind his ear so the he could hear his vocals the way the traditional folk singers did. I thought the whole band was great; Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore were all very creative musicans.

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Jesse Kinch – Long Island NY

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” Jim Morrison returns but with all the character he was lacking in his haze. Far beyond his 20 years Jesse Kinch a real ‘thinker’ shows his generation the best of the old and the new. Watch him go… ”  – Fresh Independence

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

I consider myself really fortunate…I grew up in a very loving, musical, and free spirited household. I never felt any pressure to be something I wasn’t. It was always what I wanted to be that mattered and I’m always grateful for that. My parents were always very supportive of my musical dreams. I have to say that my fondest memories in my home are the ones that involve music. There was always music playing every single day…everything from 60’s to 90’s rock…and other than rock, there were many other kinds of music being played like soft ballads from Sarah Brightman or Andrea Bocelli. When I was a child, I always remember waking up to music and closing my eyes to music…I was introduced to one great song after another. I also recall watching a lot of concerts on T.V. with my family. A few I can think of off the top of my head are Stevie Nicks live at red rocks, Yanni, Jimi at Monterey, Fleetwood Mac’s “The Dance”, and Rage against the Machine live in Mexico City. Those were my favorites! Growing up in my home was the reason I was exposed to so many different artists at such a young age. When I think about it, the word “home” is very special to me. I don’t feel that it has just one superficial meaning. It is where I heard my first song, played my first note, sang my first song, wrote my first song, and most importantly, it was a place I always felt most secure and creative.

How do you best describe your musical style?

I feel that many things coincide with each other to make up my musical style. Every song I’ve ever loved, every lyric and voice that has touched my soul, every experience that sits in my memory… I think that all subconsciously comes out of me when I perform and write. It all makes up who I am. When I perform, I put absolutely all my energy into my vocal and playing. I always found myself attracted to the singers who would belt out a song with every ounce of passion they have in their soul. Every song I sing on stage seems to stir up certain emotions and feelings that I never express or show in person…so I let it all out right there in that moment…and naturally just lose myself in the music. Even when I record, I make sure I put that same passion and energy into the song just as I do on stage. When it comes to my songs…I feel my style is something melodic, driving, and kind of dark…I think in general that’s the type of music I’ve always listened to. Dynamically, I think a lot of my songs start off softer, then gradually build into something heavier…I can also completely transition from singing something driving and intense to singing a soft ballad. I absolutely love ballads…Since I was little I could listen to something so soft and beautiful and then put on a rock song. I think it is so important to have a ballad or two in the mix of an album or a show…It adds to the dynamics and… really….I would feel one dimensional without listening or singing ballads.

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 Tell us a little about how the song writing process works for you.

I’ll sit in my sanctuary…my music room…alone…free…just me and my guitar…strum a few open chords and I’ll hum a melody. If that melody catches my ear, it’s a song. Usually after that, I start to sing syllables, then syllables turn into words, which turns into a lyric that makes sense and means something to me. For some reason music and melody always come first, but I always feel that if you come up with something really melodic, you need a strong lyric to compliment the music and melody. It’s the icing on the cake, you know? Sure…the boxer by Simon and Garfunkel has a nice melody and guitar pick, but what would it be without “I am just a poor boy though my story’s seldom told…I have squandered my resistance for a pocket full of mumbles such are promises”. Also like I said before…I feel that everything I listen to subconsciously comes out of me when I write. Usually the night before I come up with something, I listen to a lot of my favorite records. As a writer, listening to music and lyrics is some of the best inspiration I can have.

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