On any given day, I get dozens of emails in my inbox, typically from clients or potential clients, sometimes from friends, and, of course, a handful of messages that are subscriptions and spam. Most of the time, managing email is the activity on my daily to-do list I dread the most. But on occasion, I’ll get a message in my inbox that completely makes my day. This past March, I got one of these exciting emails from the handsome and talented men of the alternative rock band Amsterdam Station, announcing the upcoming release of their first full-length album. In preparation for this monumental event, the band enlisted me for a collaborative partnership.
We started with styling the band for a photoshoot for the album, “The River. The Sound. The Wake.” The band and I jumped on a live video call on a Sunday night during one of their weekly rehearsals to discuss the inspiration behind the album and some of their style influences. As the title of the album indicates, the central theme focuses on the forces of nature, specifically the river as a source of cleansing, forward motion, and the cycle of life and death. In addition to embodying the energy of the outdoors and capturing the tones of the earth, the band wanted to stay true to their minimalist style approach that mirrors other alternative rock bands, like The Killers, Mute Math, and Dead Weather. Over the course of the next month, we worked to compose individual looks for each of the band members that reflected the concept for the album and stayed true to each of their individual styles. Then, on an unseasonably cold and windy Saturday morning in April, the band convened at the Chattahoochee River in Roswell, Georgia for the shoot.
For the next several weeks, the band worked tirelessly to complete the album. At the end of their long and arduous journey, I was fortunate enough to get an exclusive preview of the tracks and learn more about the creative process that went into composing the album.
AOC BLOG GIRL: How did you come up with the name for the album?
AMSTERDAM STATION: The album title first originated from the song “The Sound”. This song has been in our writing room for about two years and was the first song written for the new album. This song demonstrates a key change for our band and the maturity of our writing, with haunting harmonies and a tip-of-the-hat to great southern literature and iconic murder ballads. The River has been an archetype throughout history as a place for the soul and the body to be cleansed, a place to offer up the horrors that haunt our minds, and a place to break free from the demons that bind.
The sequence of the wording is important too. The River. The Sound. The Wake. It equates to the place, the event, and the aftermath. A wake is the tracking of waves after movement cuts through the water. When you approach a river, you bear witness to its constant state of change, and, in the wake of the aftermath, a future that is flux, pushing and pulling against an ever changing present. It’s never the same river. With every action or event, there may be admission and regret, but there is never an undoing. If you come to the river heavy with burden, so much so that it consumes you to the core, then you shall sink and bear witness to the bed you’ve made. But, if you allow yourself to purge, grow and persevere, your life becomes buoyant again, and so you float on.
AOC BLOG GIRL: Describe the creative process that went into conceptualizing one of the songs on the album.
AMSTERDAM STATION: In the song Florence, the idea is that the woman (Florence) is having a conversation with God during her last waking hours. Greg (Vocalist/Bassist/Guitarist) wrote this song while his Grandmother was in terminal hospice care last year. She was at a point in her life where her COPD had rendered her unable to catch her breath, even doing the simplest tasks. Once in hospice, she was surrounded by family, reminiscing and telling stories, all while tethered to a wall by an oxygen container and confined to a bed and a body that was merely a shell of herself. Her soul was still vibrant, but her body had run its course, and she died peacefully in her sleep. She had given their family some scares in years past, but during her final moments, she seemed content, accepting and at ease. This song is a tribute to her and a hope that she’s living in peace with her maker.
AOC BLOG GIRL: What’s one signature quality that defines the album as a whole, lyrically, musically, or otherwise?
AMSTERDAM STATION: The signature quality of the album is probably the flow of the songs throughout the album. Like a River, it’s dynamic and constantly changing. Every time you listen cover to cover, it might bring you to a new or changing place in your life. It is a roller coaster of emotions, with constant peaks and troughs, instead of remaining static in one music style or feeling. It mimics real life, instead of the cookie-cutter lives we see ourselves adapting to from time to time.
AOC BLOG GIRL: What’s one thing you’ve learned in producing your first full-length album that you’d like to share with aspiring artists?
AMSTERDAM STATION: However long you believe the album is going to take, double it. In the world of DIY recording these days, you need the extra time to learn and better yourself and to allow for the magic of the studio to rub off on the tracks. Sometimes the last minute changes you make in the studio can really be what MAKE a song have that extra sparkle or resonance. Having more time decreases the stress for the artists and the pressure on the creative process.
Amsterdam Station is releasing their first full length album, “The River. The Sound. The Wake.” this Friday, July 1. Visit their website for details on how to purchase the album, upcoming tour dates, and more! If you’re in the Atlanta area, join the band at Smith’s Olde Bar for their album release party tomorrow night!
As an artist and entrepreneur, it’s essential that you have a group of people who you turn to when you need support in your business and artistic endeavors. When I set out as a freelance writer over two years ago, I was fortunate to have connected with singer/songwriter Erica Bryan, and since then, it has been an honor to be a part of her circle and to have her as part of mine.
This past January, I was thrilled to be included in a focus group for her first EP. Erica’s music and lyrics are always very evocative of a particular sensation or image. While I listened to each of the six incredibly diverse songs that will be featured on her debut EP, I was immediately overcome with an array of feelings. As Erica and I formulated a concept for a feature on the EP, it has been amazing to watch these moods brought to life through outstanding styling, makeup artistry, and photography. I was eager to dive in deeper with the photographer, the makeup artist, and Erica herself and to learn how they collectively translated the music into Erica’s image.
AOC BLOG GIRL: How did the EP influence the wide variety of backdrops you choose for the photoshoot?
DANIEL MEIGS, PHOTOGRAPHER: Erica and I discussed ideas that centralized with the theme of the song Jericho – destruction, crumbling walls, and debris. She wanted a darker, moody feel for a lot of the outdoor locations. While I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, we did end up with some places that worked really well. Lots of concrete and some old abandoned buildings with plenty of overgrowth.
AOC BLOG GIRL: How did you adapt Erica’s makeup to the diverse set of looks for the EP?
ANAIS SHIBA, MAKEUP ARTIST: When I’m coming up with a look, I always try to capture the feel of the set. For Erica, we wanted a range of looks that would really express the diversity of her musical style. So, after meeting her and seeing the outfits she had chosen for the shoot, it was easy to come up with makeup looks that would not only accentuate her style but also her beautiful personality.
AOC BLOG GIRL: Describe the creative process that went into conceptualizing the looks for the EP.
ERICA BRYAN: I really wanted my looks to reflect the different styles of songs that I have on the EP. To represent the song Jericho, I wanted a look that was very strong. I thought the black dress with the fur shawl was very powerful and warrior-esque – like maybe I was going to hunt for my own dinner that night! I call the style inspired by the track Billboard “Cali-Chill.” I wanted to wear something fun and laid-back, so I chose loose, light-colored clothing. For the song Immune to You, I wanted to emulate a classy Adele-type style, so I went with a vintage hat, fur vest, and some jewels of course! And finally, to represent the track Leaving You In Memphis, I wanted a little more edge, so I wore a Journey t-shirt and some leather fringe!
AOC BLOG GIRL: What type of direction did you give Erica in order to evoke the mood of each look?
DANIEL MEIGS, PHOTOGRAPHER: You know, Erica really knew what she wanted. When we started at each location, she just turned it on. It helps working with an artist who understands what she wants and how to get herself there. I would offer suggestions here and there with posing and getting more of a natural look. A lot of that is achievable by natural movement. So, instead of, “OK, turn like this, and look this way,” we would try things like, “Ok, start here, let’s walk together, and just look back at me along the way.” We did some smiles and laughs, especially in the studio, but for most of the outdoor looks, we were channeling a strong feminine vibe.
AOC BLOG GIRL: What is one signature quality about Erica’s style that you maintained throughout each look?
ANAIS SHIBA, MAKEUP ARTIST: I really wanted to highlight Erica’s eyes and hair in each look that we did. Although the makeup and hair changed with each location, my goal was to bring focus to those qualities, as they are some of her most striking features.
AOC BLOG GIRL: Who or what has been the greatest influence on your personal style as an artist?
ERICA BRYAN: I really look up to strong women performers, so I think the edgy-rocker look of Grace Potter and the classy, timeless look of Adele really speak to me fashion-wise. Some people have even called me a chameleon because I can look rocker one day and classic the next, but I enjoy switching it up!
AOC BLOG GIRL: Which look was the most exciting to shoot and why?
DANIEL MEIGS, PHOTOGRAPHER: I love shooting on location. It’s just so unpredictable. I love the old building with all of the gnarly branches. We lit it in a way where you had just enough light on the background, and it created such a creepy feel, so much character everywhere we would turn. That was my favorite.
AOC BLOG GIRL: Which look was your favorite to work with and why?
ANAIS SHIBA, MAKEUP ARTIST: I think my favorite look was the black dress and faux fur. It was the first look that we did that day, and everything came together so perfectly when we started shooting. It was also the most dramatic hair and makeup, which I tend to naturally gravitate towards.
AOC BLOG GIRL: What is one thing you’ve learned after producing your first EP that you’d like to share with aspiring artists?
ERICA BRYAN: What I’ve learned is that once you record your EP… you’re not done! Recording is just the first part. Figuring out how to get people to listen to it is the hard part. The industry is always changing, so you have to be creative about how you are getting your music out there. So many artists put their EP up online and wonder why no one’s listening, but if you’ve thought it through and made a plan of action, someone will hear it besides your mom. And that, my friends, is success!
When I first listened to the EP, I was torn between the tracks Leaving You in Memphis and Billboard. I couldn’t decide which was my favorite! After seeing the music come to life, I have a whole new appreciation for Jericho. I have to agree with both Daniel and Anais – the look inspired by that particular song took my breath away.
Click here to listen to an exclusive preview of the four songs that inspired the looks for Erica Bryan’s debut EP, which is set to drop on July 1, 2016. Stay tuned for the release of the first single off the album in the next few weeks. To keep up to date on all of Erica’s future release dates, tour dates, and more, visit her website and sign up for her mailing list for a free download!
Growing up in the south, fall never felt like a profound transition. Sure we went back to school and started following football instead of baseball, but the weather remained temperate, if not hot, well into October.
This year, at almost the exact moment we transitioned to the autumnal equinox, fall fell on New York City. The air has started to get cool and crisp in the early morning and at sunset, and there’s a distinct sensation that something is shifting.
The changing of seasons can be time to slip into a slump or, oppositely, get caught up and carried away with transformation. I urge you to ease yourself into autumn, and start fall in style with five of my favorite seasonal activities:
1. CURL UP WITH A NEW BOOK
One of my favorite fall pastimes is holing up in my apartment on a Saturday with a good book and a warm cup of tea. When weather permits, it’s also lovely to embrace the chill in the air, pile on a scarf and some layers, and soak up the last remaining months before winter by posting up on a park bench and reading outside.
2. STAY ACTIVE
Bikini season is over and the weather is getting cooler, but it doesn’t mean it’s not important to stay active in the fall and winter months. Prepare for rich foods and overindulging during the holiday season now by maintaining your exercise routine. Staying connected to your body will also help you weather the transition!
3. RECONNECT WITH FRIENDS AT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD BAR
Fall is a time when everyone tends to return home and settle into their typical routines. Now that everybody is back from irregular summer schedules and trips, it’s a great time to come together and reconnect. Simply gather with your friends on a Friday night at your neighborhood bar and catch up!
4. REASSESS YOUR BEAUTY ROUTINE
When the weather changes, so should your beauty routine. With cooler temperatures, drier air, and increased winds, it’s important to keep your skin nourished. Reassess your bases, like moisturizer and foundation, and invest in products that will keep you hydrated into the winter.
5. SUPPORT THE LOCAL MUSIC SCENE
Concerts are a great indoor activity for fall whether you’re planning a date night or enjoying a girl’s night out. Indulging in artistic entertainment will help boost your spirits and eliminate the cold weather blues. Scope out your city’s venues, check out the tour dates for your favorite artists, and support the local music scene this season!
This summer I had the opportunity to work with the Atlanta-based alternative rock band Amsterdam Station. When I was approached by band member Greg Jarvis (vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist), he explained that the band was in the process of re-branding. They released their first album three years prior and have since developed a more polished, mature sound. Amsterdam Station was looking for a united concept across the board that both reflected and complimented their new album, “Stories from the Subtext.” The band recognized that their personal style would be a key component of their new look, so they enlisted me as stylist.
The first step was styling Amsterdam Station for a photo shoot for their new album. We started by discussing the band’s style influences, which included Interpol, The Killers, and Queens of the Stone Age. The next step was, of course, listening to the new album to gain inspiration. After going back and forth with a lot of notes and ideas, we landed on four cohesive yet unique looks, each of which were slight variations on the dressed down suit – replacing a blazer with a trench coat, trading slacks for jeans, adding a tee under a button down, opting for suspenders instead of a tie.
Photographed by Alyson Jarvis of Alyson Jarvis Photography
The next step was styling the band for their Album Release Party. We wanted to keep with the established style while ensuring the ensembles were performance friendly. Originally we discussed sticking to basic jeans, button downs, and strong accessories, like great shoes. As the show grew closer the band’s vocalists decided they were going all out and adding ties despite the potential for hindered movement during the performance.
Greg opted for a bold, statement look with mixed patterns on the tie and button down. He added a solid vest to neutralize the prints and finished the look with dark denim, classic leather shoes, and fun socks for a unique pop of color.
Chris Connelly (vocalist and guitarist) complimented Greg’s look with a solid black button down, patterned tie, jeans, and some amazing black boots that I sadly didn’t snap a photo of. He also coordinated his guitar with the ensemble, bringing in burst of color.
Having the pleasure of watching Amsterdam Station perform live was an unparalleled experience. The night of the show I realized I had never been to a concert where I personally knew the musicians. Their new album, “Stories from the Subtext,” is characterized by thought provoking lyrics, seamless composition, and an elevated sound. While you can preview and purchase the album on their brand new website, I highly recommend you attend one of their concerts if you’re in the Atlanta area. Amsterdam Station has an outstanding stage presence and a contagious energy. Bottom line: they put on a kick ass show.
Their next performance is set for Friday, October 24 at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta – show starts at 8pm, Amsterdam Station goes on at 9pm. Stay tuned to their Facebook and Twitter pages for more details on the event!
I’m beyond thrilled to share that I will be styling singer/songwriter Erica Bryan AGAIN for her upcoming show at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta next Saturday, July 26 with alternative rock band Amsterdam Station. Today, Erica and I are launching an exciting initiative to get YOU involved in the styling process.
I’ve styled 2 looks for Erica featuring jewelry from my latest accessory obsession Must Love Sparkle, and now it’s time for YOU TO DECIDE!
Head to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or straight to the bottom of this post and use the hashtag #DreaminginDenim or #RompinAround to VOTE for your favorite look. Then, come out to the show to see which look is the FAN FAVORITE. What are you waiting for? VOTE NOW in the comments section!
Don’t live in the Atlanta area or just can’t make it to the show? Stay tuned to ARTicles of Clothing Blog, and I will reveal the FAN FAVORITE look in a post after the show!