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The Hot Mamas interview: we spoke to the brave ladies and learn more about what happens Live at Clementine Cafe

Opening up a can of honesty for all the sad, disillusioned and broken-hearted, Shenandoah Valley’s The Hot Mamas guide into their debut 9-track album Live at Clementine Cafe, how the first 12 months have been as a band, cute resumes, dancing with aliens, being an all-female band, banjo energy and what it’s like entertaining crowds live on stage.

Llewelyn: Hello, The Hot Mamas. We really appreciate you chatting with us and taking a break from making music. Firstly, did you all go to school together or how did the band first start and connect creatively?

The Hot Mamas: Maria and Mallory both played ukulele and kazoo so, despite becoming good friends after some major life changes and swapping songs on porches in Staunton in the summer of 2021 they didn’t feel they could form a musical group together. Meanwhile, Casey and Jess had been connected through a local choral group and played various open mics together. In May 2022 Mallory was asked to fill a last-minute gig at a local winery and decided to invite Maria and Casey (she didn’t really know Jess yet) to play the show with her. Within one week the trio worked up a three-hour playlist and Jess came to the show and wrote the cutest resume on scratch paper (despite being a professional resume writer) and the rest is history!

Llewelyn: Live at Clementine Cafe. We love each of the 9-track equally and our bodies can’t stop grooving. How did the process start and please let us know who was involved & what the vision was.

The Hot Mamas: The Hot Mamas spent a lot of the summer of 2022 getting to know each other, sharing original songs and recording videos to have content to send to venues to play out. Most Monday evenings they would gather on Mallory’s back porch and one person would bring a new song or even a song idea (like Seafaring Wenches—Casey wrote Verse 1 and the chorus and the other gals helped each other write all of the rest of the verses—much of it based on some true stories!) and then play it down a few times, work on arranging it fully and then record a video at the end of the night of the 2-3 song we may have introduced.

By the fall The Hot Mamas had a great collection of original material and were in high demand with a lot of local fans begging for an album. The problem: they had no funds to make a record.

Jess and Mallory found out about a local grant through the Arts Council of the Valley, did a lot of research, submitted the application and…more history was made! The Hot Mamas received $1500 toward their record and that was enough to give them the inspiration to go for it.

Through a lot of help from fans (donated funds totalled almost $1500), a lot of hustlin’ and a ton of dedication, The Hot Mamas were able to record this album live (saved the cost of studio hours) in front of a sold-out crowd and capture, not only a great collection of songs but the energy and love that comes with a live performance of The Hot Mamas. Much of the magic you hear is to the credit of Gordon Davies—sound man extraordinaire. He is one of the best around and always records the performances at Clementine Café so The Hot Mamas just had to have it mixed and mastered. The amazing artwork was by one of Maria’s BFFs, Sydney Bronaugh.

Llewelyn: Who is the messiest & happiest person in the band and what other fun quirks do you all have that you don’t mind sharing with our readers?

The Hot Mamas: Messiest person—that’s probably Mallory—she has an eight-year-old and far too many children’s drum sets!
Happiest person—hmmmm…Maria is our beautiful princess butterfly.

More info here: EPK

Llewelyn: You’ve stated that your songs focus on empowered storytelling through the feminist lens. We’re so inspired by this statement. What does it mean to be an all-female band who are superbly honest lyrically?

The Hot Mamas: It is freeing. It is our first opportunity, collectively, to be in an all-female band. (Mallory for one has dreamed of being in an all-female project since the 2nd grade when she fell in love with The Bangles.) Most previous projects we have been in were not spaces where we could be fully honest in our writing. A lot of men we have worked with did not want to push a feminist agenda or were not comfortable doing so. It also feels very necessary to be the voice for other women. We are living in times where our rights to bodily autonomy are being stripped away across the nation. We have a song called “It’s Not Okay” that sounds like a fun, upbeat jazzy prohibition tune and then you realize it is talking about abortion rights. We have a song about the names women are called and how we are treated differently in professional settings called “If You Can’t Love Her Then Leave Her.” And we really would like to put out another record full of the songs we can’t sing at family events but that point out misogyny and female suppression. Songs about red flags we all have ignored and about a local political leader that tried to slander one of us and ended up resigning and leaving town instead. We have a lot more songs in the works for that.

Llewelyn: There are so many different instruments going on which is fantastic. Please explain to us all the intricacies behind the sound and who performs each one.

The Hot Mamas: Sadly, digital albums don’t show the backside cover art. I can attach an image of that later but it answers this question.
The Hot Mamas are:
Maria Leckey (accordion, ukulele, banjo, toy piano, kazoo, auxiliary percussion, vocals)
Mallory McKendry (jug bass, banjo, kazoo, vocals)
Casey Rolfe (bodhrán, washboard, ukulele, vocals)
Jess Young (ukulele, clarinet, banjo, toy piano, auxiliary percussion, vocals)

We were all primarily playing the ukulele when we started playing together. It’s like the modern-day “girl musician” cliché but we genuinely love ukes! However, we also all have a background in various instruments so we have steadily been working on developing our instrumentation to make the most impact. For example, we realize we need a bit more mids and bass range in our sound so Mallory plays a hand-crafted jug bass made by a friend out of a 2×4 and an old, plastic water jug. And Jess is working on getting some kind of cigar box guitar. And we want to add a simple bass drum for Casey. When she’s not around we have a suitcase drum we play with feet. And Maria has steadily been swapping the accordion in for the ukulele.

Llewelyn: If a UFO landed when you were performing live and aliens joined the crowd, what would you say to them? Also, if they were friendly, would you get them to get on that dancefloor?

The Hot Mamas: Hello friends!!! Glook glook glarken flark!! The Hot Mamas are the rulers of our planet! Welcome to the Hot Girl fun! Be nice. Also, C’mon and party down with us! Here’s a tambourine.

Llewelyn: Last question. What does the future hold? Lots of gigs and tours on the horizon and what should we keep an eye out for?

The Hot Mamas: The Hot Mamas are playing concerts all over the Shenandoah Valley this summer and touring through Hampton Roads to play a great listening venue Victorian Station—The Big Pink July 15. We are also playing Steppin’ Out Fest in Blacksburg on August 4 and at The Blackboard in Lewis, WV on August 5 with a female duo called Ma’am.

We have a member getting married this fall and one starting a Masters in Songwriting with Berklee Online so we may spend more time focusing on writing and recording and a little less time on live performance. But we will be pushing forward and would love to tour more once we settle into these life changes.

We do plan to be releasing new singles every few months and will start on that goal in a couple of weeks! So be on the lookout for more fresh music from The Hot Mamas!

Caresses all bad moods away on Spotify.

See more moves and gig news on IG.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

Manila-based L!FE shows us the long game on ‘Mood’

On a self-made catchy beat that leads us into the mindset of a musician who values his creative output, L!FE knows that he needs to keep busy but feels that sometimes he is not always in the ‘Mood‘.

L!FE is a Manila, Philippines-based indie hip-hop artist/bassist, and music producer who makes all his own tracks from the comfort of his studio bedroom.

His music mostly comprises of sample-based melodies with old school hip hop drums funky bass lines and a lower registered voice when singing and rapping.” ~ L!FE

In a world where so many people bleat on about how many songs a musician needs to make each year, L!FE directs us into his life as he shows us a relatable message out knowing that the long-term game is where he is headed. This is an artist who would rather take his time and make classic gems, instead of assembling average music than might dehydrate his heart.

Mood‘ from Manila, Philippines-based indie hip-hop artist and music producer L!FE is an insightful track all about the life of an artist who is perhaps not feeling the creative juices flow into his body today. He guides us into his mind as he wonders why some people just don’t get it – as he slides his headphones on – to get into his zone again to block out anything negative that could ruin his day.

Listen to this new single on Spotify and see more adventures via IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen