Johanna grew up on pop music. Lennon and McCartney, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Paul Simon, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Van Morrison, The Band. Johanna would play these songs on repeat and rush to the piano to find the melody on the keys. Chasing out a beloved lick helped her capture what she loved about each song, helped her understand the feeling behind the chord progressions. To this day, Johanna still plays by ear, but this is hardly a handicap—she approaches songwriting without the logic of measures and keys and time signatures. The result is a wonderfully pure collection of songs, melodically uninhibited and lyrically generous.

Olivia Kaplan

In 2003, Olivia Kaplan picked up her father’s Guild acoustic guitar and taught herself Cat Stevens’ The First Cut is the Deepest,“...only it was definitely the Sheryl Crow version.” While one may hear influences of that first Sheryl cover, Kaplan’s melancholic but open-hearted music aligns her more naturally with songwriters like Angel Olsen and Cat Power. She recorded her first EP, Goddamn, I Miss You (2014) upon returning to Los Angeles after studying music at McGill University in Montreal. Since then, Kaplan has established herself as a frequent performer and studio vocalist on a range of music projects across the city with artists like Dzang, Shannon Inouye, and Dessert. A keen emotional note-taker, Kaplan’s songs are thoughtful responses to relationships made or observed, and human situations to which she’s borne witness. Her grounded vocals combined with a minimalist approach to instrumentation embody a desolate closeness, capturing the desperation that comes with attempts at modern empathy.

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