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Interview: BONNE drops dynamically charged new album to wake up sleepy minds, execute

Now performing as a power-packed duo with Jon Locker to differentiate the live band sound and telling us more about her new message-heavy album, the early music career and central Iowa life, the award-winning Midwest, USA-based pop/rock musician/composer BONNE (Bonne Finken) opens up our minds with an interview to behold with execute.

Llewelyn: Firstly, do you recall the precise moment when you just knew music was what you wanted to do for a living and what did it feel like in your veins?

Bonne: For me, it was around eight years old. I’ve always been drawn to and loved all aspects of music, but had only been exposed to either pop music on the radio or to gospel music in church. When I was around 8 yrs old, my father played me a song called “Angel From Montgomery” by John Prine, and it was like someone decoded a secret language for me. It was the first time I felt sad when listening to a song. It wasn’t upbeat or fun to listen to, like the music on the radio. I was hooked by that feeling. To be able to tell your stories and truths and feel connected to someone I’ve never met through music. I literally began (attempting) to write songs right after that.

Jon: The first time I played in front of people and they responded…that was enough for me.

Llewelyn: Secondly, please tell us about your new music name and who is now involved in BONNE. Also, how has the process been from the solo artist world to band world – pros and cons?

Bonne: I’d still technically consider myself a solo artist. This is more a ‘Duo Project’ vs. band – and was started as an effort to link an album to what our sound is, live. It’s myself and Jon Locker, as far as who is involved in BONNE, from the writing standpoint. We brought in two producers to help with drums and production, Seth Luloff and Micah Natera (and Kevin Bowe for ‘Woman’). So a very lean production team, really, in the world of rock music. Jon and I have worked together for years, this is more a project where he could step out from behind the scenes/the backing band into the forefront and be more involved from the infancy stage of the songwriting. I still do and plan to continue to make music as Bonne Finken – BONNE was a way to differentiate the SOUND more than anything – I knew this was a departure, sonically, since the songs were produced around Jon’s lead bass as the lead instrument. I’m still determining the pros and cons – but all are probably pretty consistent with any musical venture in this current industry climate. We are just excited with how the album turned out and happy we get opportunities to share it.

Llewelyn: Please may you guide us into the vision, the sound and the process behind the project.

Bonne: For me, the vision and sound goal somewhat built as a juxtaposition to my last two albums. My solo albums I never let myself be limited by what instruments were available to me, live. If I heard choirs or strings or layered drums, that’s what went on the record – even if I knew it would be difficult (or impossible) to pull together for an LIVE indie show.
This album, it was “what can be recreated as a live rock band” and I/we tried to stay living inside of that when it came to writing and production. Specifically, Jon has a new instrument (a custom built BilT bass guitar) and the songs were largely built around ‘what can Jon cover, live, sonically’ and just add drums and maybe just ONE snyth line or two. Even adding harmonies to my lead vocal was a ‘should we or shouldn’t we’ since it’s semi-breaking the rules of ‘what can we recreate live’ since I do my own back-ups….and can’t do that live.
Jon: I kept saying “exploring the limitations” as we were making the songs.

Bonne & Jon: Also, a ROCK album – was the vision and sound.

Llewelyn: Also, are there any specific tracks we should be extra thrilled about?

Bonne: “Problems” is my favorite. It’s in the Top 5 of songs I’ve ever written – from this and all albums – and I feel the unique sounds from Jon’s lead bass feels special on it and I completely adore Micah (Natera)’s production – I think it’s honestly dark and beautiful and I’m very proud of how it ended up.
Jon: “Contender”…duh. It just feels right all around.

Llewelyn: You’re an award-winning and much-respected musician. Does that come with extra pressure and what does it feel like to have your music on major tv shows such as MTV’s The Real World & E!’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians?

Bonne: It feels good retrospectively. It can sometimes be a hindrance. The accolades can sometimes give the illusion that you don’t still need help, or opportunities, or money, ha. But I’m proud of my work, not only the music or songs I’ve written – but the work put into getting it heard – which is sometimes harder than the creation itself. Of course, I am learning this is just the life of an indie artist – and I’m making peace with that! But it’s why it’s so important to be making music for myself, that I love to create/perform, since that is really all that is solid ground in my world. My never wavering from that is, perhaps, the only reason I’m able to keep going. I know any award or accolade given was based on my own work and decisions. Not someone telling me what I should write about or do.

Llewelyn: What’s it like being an artist from the Midwest and where exactly did you grow up and learn your craft?

Bonne: I grew up in central Iowa. The difficult part of growing up as a writer of electronic pop/rock music is there aren’t alot of people to collaborate with. But on the plus side, largely thanks to the large folk/americana scene here — there’s still the embrace of my music because I’m not just a creator/artist/singer – I’m a songwriter, too. I’ve been lucky to play just about every venue you can think of in the state – despite having a sound that most wouldn’t assume places me from the Midwest. So I was able to put in my “10,000 hours”. That’s how I’ve learned my craft. By doing it. It also means when you find a cohort, like I’ve found in Jon Locker, you’re grateful that someone likes and wants to play songs that you like to play.

Jon: I was born in Mason City, IA and grew up in Nevada, IA where there were several other players slightly older than me that let me hang early. I started at age 12. First bar gig at 13. I learned from gigging.

Llewelyn: Also, who has inspired you to reach your dreams no matter the challenges of the music industry?

Bonne: Self-motivated people inspire me. People who have a passion and move towards the passion, even if it’s difficult, or the road less traveled. I’m also inspired by knowing my kids are watching and learning from me, to be one of those people. That if you love something – you should keep doing it. For me, I don’t have a choice, really. I hear things in my head. I have to get them out in order to sleep or function. Once they’re out in demo form & start to take shape – I choose which ones to focus on & finish….then….I put them out for people to listen to. And then the cycle begins again. I love it and I have to do it. Hopefully someday that will equate itself to more money – but really – just so that I can spend more time/money on it… hire that choir/string section I put in my recordings but can’t afford to bring onto a stage.

Jon: Lots of people. It feels like the music “industry” is barely a thing anymore. It’s broken right now. The challenge for an artist or band is that you used to be able to make a living playing and selling music…good friggin luck with that right now!

Llewelyn: You’ve just been told you have the keys to and an unlimited budget to put on/run a music festival. Who would you add to the lineup, where would it be and what would the message of the event be?

Bonne: I’d add my favorite group from each genre I could think of – from Eminem to Jon Batiste to Alanis Morrisette to Billie Eilish to Brandi Carlile – and just celebrate individuality by artists who created their own sound without worrying about what ‘the current trend’ was. A genre-less festival celebrating pioneers of sound.

Jon: First question…is rain insurance part of the deal? If yes then I still don’t know!!

Llewelyn: Lastly, what does the future hold for you long-term and what advice would you give to young musicians trying to find their way to the top?

Bonne: All I know for sure is I’m going to continue to create new music. The only advice I feel I’m qualified to give: be sure you do what you love to do. Fame, Fortune, Failure, whatever….that music is there forever with your name on it. Try not to take advice from someone who will tell you what to do with your art/voice/stories to make THEM money. It’s all a crapshoot – so – do you, boo.

Hear this massively incredible album on Spotify.

See more news and gig show info on IG.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

Forever: justJOY floats rather joyously on 425 (feat. Adam Knox)

Wondering if she is really happy or actually sad, justJOY senses that the time is standing rather still right now in this confusing time with so many voices booming their beat on 425 (feat. Adam Knox).

justJOY is a Midwest USA-based indie-pop singer-songwriter and massive Jack Harlow fan who performs from the heart through her creative excellence.

Overpowering our senses with something rather unique, justJOY shows us a sound that is made with so much genuine energy and glorious vocals to behold.

425 (feat. Adam Knox) from Midwest USA-based indie-pop artist justJOY is a terrific single that might get your soul alive again. Her spellbinding style is rather special and shall take you by the hand, into a mysterious world from a captivating talent who is only just getting started.

Laced with so much classy aura, this is a single to play when you need to hear the heartbeat of the underground.

Listen up on Spotify and see more on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Look For Purpose: Westside Ultra feel invincible on rapid-fire ‘Drunk Villain Freestyle’

As he takes command of the mic beside him and vows to always be in control of his own destiny, Westside Ultra sips up quick and lashes down his raw bars on the brand new ‘Drunk Villain Freestyle‘.

19-year-old Westside Ultra is a Midwest-born, Texas-based indie rapper who has made it his mission to grab hold of his future and never let go no matter what.

Growing up with a father who has a passion for music, it only made sense that some of that became ingrained in him at a young age. It wasn’t until years later in high school, that writing and putting out music as something fun, would lead to a full-time passion for music and the industry.” ~ Westside Ultra

Displaying his youthful charm and shredding through each verse with signature aplomb, Westside Ultra dusts off anything shadowing over his shine on a track that leads us into his thoughtful mind that knows these bad habits could break him down at any moment.

Drunk Villain Freestyle‘ from the upcoming Midwest-born, Texas-based indie hip-hop artist Westside Ultra, is a story all about setting aside those inner doubts that can hold you back as you attempt to keep things simple and down the demons one gulp at a time. He displays impressive rap skills with a beat attached that seems to suit his aura just right. With so many artists in the game and those bills piling up, it is certainly hard to keep the faith. This seems to be a rapper who understands his strengths and just wants to forge ahead until he truly makes it on top.

Life is about taking risks after all when others decide to take the easy route and never fulfil their true potential.

Hear this new single on Spotify and see more via the IG music page.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

That Much Is True: Blake Rave helps out a special person as he truly cares on ‘Oxygen’

With a we-can-get-past this-mentality of never giving up even when the chips are down on the ground, Blake Rave looks into their tearful eyes and vows to be there forever no matter what on ‘Oxygen‘.

Blake Rave is a Midwest-based indie rock singer-songwriter who performs with a peaceful energy that has you clicking the lighter on and swinging it slowly in the air.

Although not one who craves attention or the spotlight, Rave feels completely at home on stage and has a way of connecting to his audience during a live show. Blake Rave is laidback, unpretentious and his authenticity as a person can be heard through his music.” ~ Blake Rave

There is much to admire about Blake Rave, who projects his message with the utmost class and honesty. His vocals are so toned and crisply delivered – as he shows us that real kindness is definitely not a weakness – in a world where heroes are often hiding away in the shadows.

Oxygen‘ from the soulful Midwest, USA-based indie rock singer-songwriter Blake Rave, is such a peaceful effort from a truly kind soul. He sees that a close friend is feeling down and needs his help, to get past everything that is holding them back from finding that ever-lasting happiness. Sung with a calm and strong ambience of hope, this is exactly the kind of message we all need to hear on this cold planet full of doubters.

Hear this sweet new single on Spotify and see more stories on his IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Life Is A Game: Joey Steez twists up that unstuck blunt on ‘Manifesting’ (feat. Midas Welle)

As he raps about staying strong and keeping away from the easy distractions that can take you down the torturous tunnels of doom rather quickly, Joey Steez lights us up with some true talk on ‘Manifesting(feat. Midas Welle).

Joey Steez is a multi-skilled Midwest, USA-based hip-hop artist engineer, videographer, and music producer. He is an underground artist who likes to keep things only truthful, as he strays away from the corny fluff that clogs up the drains of most ears.

This is the make-money not false stories anthem, that takes you inside the mind of a man on a quest to only win and manifest his dreams into reality. His bars are hard and so ominously slammed inside our minds, with grinder flows which might shake unwitting skeletons back into action. The beat grabs you in like a hungry vampire who wants that delicious blood, and takes us on a head-bobbing journey to that promised lane we all seek.

He draws his influences from the late 90’s and early 2000’s southern hip hop, as well as East Coast rap.” ~ Joey Steez

Manifesting(feat. Midas Welle) from the hungry Midwest rapper Joey Steez, is that OG-truth track all about keeping it real and never getting it confused. People want you to lose – even those closest to you – so the best way is to keep it true hustler and never let that grip go. Getting soft just isn’t an option, otherwise you will turn into a fading memory that is hard to remember for most.

Hear the audio on YouTube and see more via his IG music page.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

There She Was: Comedic rapper Soft Tommy dreams vividly of the ‘Horse Girl’

Returning with a stable music video that shows us his versatility, Soft Tommy falls for the ‘Horse Girl‘ and they seem to be a match made in braid-flicking heaven.

Soft Tommy is a new-age comedic rapper and songwriter from the Midwest, USA. He cleverly makes that type of music which is meant to be enjoyed and not taken too seriously at all.

”Spanning genres from classical power ballads to rapping, electronic dance & pop music, Soft Tommy has learned to use music as his primary language for communicating with the human race & helping spread his message of love, humor & self acceptance.” – Soft Tommy

This is a song that shows you into a mind of a shy person, who finally met someone that truly gets him and likes so much that he says. You feel that spark and the flame won’t go away, as things heat up and you feel like this could be something special, or just a fleeting moment of desire.

Horse Girl’ from the always-entertaining Soft Tommy, is a daydream to the girl that he quickly fell in love as she fell into his arms. He remembers the way that she played with her hair and this moment made his heart beat so much faster. When you meet someone that captures your attention like a Polaroid, you just picture yourself with them forever.

See this new music video on YouTube and see more song release news on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

I Don’t Play Ball: Soft Tommy solves the world’s equations on ‘Nerd Party’

With a confident attitude to be who he really is, Soft Tommy puts on his suspenders, drops a savage spelling bee battle, and laces us his dance shoes, to show us what we are missing out on with ‘Nerd Party‘.

Soft Tommy is a comedic dance rapper and singer-songwriter from the USA who makes music to lift the mood, away from the doom and gloom of life in this rather strange world.

He flows with his glasses on proudly, as he takes us for a journey to a world that is far from reality, transported through time so that we can have a rest from the dull reality for a while.

”Spanning genres from classical ballads to rapping, electronic dance & pop music, Soft Tommy has learned to use music as his primary language for communicating with the human race & helping spread his message of love, humor & self acceptance.” – Soft Tommy

Nerd Party’ from the Midwest, USA comedy dancing rapper and singer Soft Tommy, is that tribute to all the folks out there that are supremely underrated and also deserve their time to shine. He brings us a music video that will shock some, and please others. Just the way Soft Tommy would want it.

See this colorful video on YouTube and find out more on his IG music page.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

c x m e r x n drops the important ‘Wasting Away’ (feat. Garret Rapp)

c x m e r x n drops the important ‘Wasting Away‘ (feat. Garret Rapp) and this is a reflective song that sums up 2020.

c x m e r x n is a musician who mixes ambiance, and emo pop in one. He is from a small town in the Midwest, 30 miles from Milwaukee and 60 miles from Chicago in the USA.

You feel so numb and you so in your mind right now. You don’t know what to do and everything seems the same and feel like you are just wasting away on earth. This is a feeling that so many of us feel right now, you want to learn new things but can’t seem to get started. You need a fresh start, a new place to go and explore. Life is stagnant right now but things can only get better.

c x m e r x n impresses on ‘Wasting Away‘ (feat. Garret Rapp) and this is a soundtrack for the crazy year of 2020. We need something better to come around and to get out of our heads, we need to stay positive.

Head through to the YouTube link.

Click here for the Insta page.

Here is the Facebook link.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

BagDadLean & Slutty Jordie rip the mic on the new Hip Hop single ‘Jackwoods’

BagDadLean & Slutty Jordie give us a life lesson about ladies and 420 here on their new Hip Hop track called ‘Jackwoods‘.

BagDadLean is a young Midwest artist that is very versatile as he can rap and switch it up to an R&B number all in the same song. This is a rare skill that is often not done well. He does however impress on this new track that is only his 2nd even release on Spotify. With lots of hunger and aspirations to be as massive as Drake, this is an ambitious emcee and singer with big dreams. I love this confidence, going for the top is the way forward.

This is all about being careful with the ladies. You need to find a loyal lady otherwise if you end up with the wrong one, she will suck your bank account dry and then vanish like the cleaning product. The beat is so laid back and stoner style, with the deep voices and you feel the smoke filled energy in the air.

BagDadLean & Slutty Jordie show us their skill set on the new ‘Jackwoods‘ single that is a winner in the Hip Hop playlists all over the world. If they can keep consistent and focus on getting their music out there, there is a chance they could make it massive.

Click here for the Spotify link.

Head through to the Facebook page.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen