FRZN Fest - Thursday

Caroline Smith

Merging '90s R&B and neo-soul with her indie-rock roots, Caroline Smith's new music has settled comfortably into a new backdrop as she takes a step from girl to woman. Half About Being a Woman is a record about self-acceptance and growing into yourself; it's about going back to the roots of 'feel-good' music. "I wanted to find my way back to the reason why I started playing music in the first place," says Smith. "Over the last year I began to embrace that being a strong, confident, opinionated woman is something to be proud of, not subdued. I have to embrace where my roots are and stay true to who I am: an unabashed fan of 90's R&B, pop, and neo-soul."

While some might be surprised by the transition, the truth is that Caroline has never stopped evolving. From folky beginnings and an indie rock second album, she has been consistently pushing herself to new heights. With soaring vocals and catchy melodies at the heart of all three albums, Caroline is settling into a sound that feels more like home. "I feel I've finally created something that is a nod to some of my favorite records while being able to use my own voice to illustrate my personal transition into woman hood; That time in a woman's life when her 'fat butt' becomes her 'phat ass'. I wanted to make music to celebrate that and to encourage other women to do the same." This glimpse of an artist in flux was captured perfectly in the PBS documentary on Caroline, My Way Back Home.

The video for "Magazine", created by director/editor Dan Huiting (Bon Iver, The National, Local Natives, Andrew Bird) and DP Ryan Thompson, perfectly captures the the theme of a woman actively embracing her femininity and transcending societal expectations. The album, released by United Interests, was produced by Jake Hanson (guitarist- Mason Jennings, Solid Gold), recorded at Near North Studios by Brett Bullion (Dark Dark Dark, Chris Walla) and mixed by Paul Marino (Mint Condition). It includes contributions from long-time bandmates Jesse Schuster and Arlen Peiffer (Cloud Cult) along with several guest musicians including Mike Lewis (Bon Iver, Andrew Bird). The band will be touring through the fall to support the album - starting with an expected sold-out show at First Avenue in their home town of Minneapolis, MN.

Born in Detroit in the late 80's, Lizzo spent much of her formative years in the church, where she was raised on the gospel sounds of The Winans, The Clark Sisters, and Fred Hammond, along with mainstay secular artists such as Stevie Wonder and Elton John. At the age of 10 her family moved to Houston, TX, and Lizzo was exposed to a wide array of emerging Southern musical styles, from the trademark chopped and screwed rap tracks of the underground, to the progressive and polished R&B sounds of groups like Destiny's Child that were raising the city's national profile to new heights. In fact, it was after she stumbled across a Destiny's Child performance at Wal-Mart that Lizzo—then a 5th grader-- was inspired to start writing music on her own. Over the next decade that decision would take her through the trenches of some of the most varied musical genres: R&B girl groups (I.N.I.T.I.A.L.S., Cornrow Clique), progressive rock bands (Elypseas), solo rap ventures, and electro-pop duos (Lizzo & The Larva Ink).

In 2011 she made the move to Minneapolis with Larva Ink in order to be a part of that city's blossoming and collaborative musical community. Lizzo & The Larva Ink was well received there, and the group earned a few encouraging nods from the press. Lizzo was soon introduced to Sophia Eris and Claire de Lune, with whom she would form The Chalice, the three-piece all-female rap/R&B group that would elevate Lizzo's profile and reputation. In 2012 The Chalice released We Are The Chalice, an album that would gain them instant local success amongst fans and critics alike, garnering City Pages' prestigious Best New Band and Picked To Click accolades in the same year.

The success brought setbacks, though, and a falling out soon led to the demise of Lizzo & The Larva Ink. Feeling discontent with the loss of one group and the hurried blur of success of another, Lizzo was creatively drained from writing We Are The Chalice in two short months. She found herself in the throes of her first full-blown case of writer's block. Unable to create music for herself, she began listening to several different local albums in hopes of finding inspiration. It was LAVA BANGERS, a 20-track instrumental mixtape from Doomtree producer and Minneapolis music vet Lazerbeak, that ultimately caught her ear. Beaks' beats proved the fix for Lizzo's problem. "I sat at home and listened to LAVA BANGERS, and when "Lift Every Voice" came on, my writer's block was cured," says Lizzo. "I think it revived my gospel roots. I wrote pages and pages of songs, and finally reached out to Lazerbeak, not thinking anything would come of it."

Her timing could not have been better. Beak, impressed with Lizzo's output with The Chalice, as well as her guest appearances on several other local releases, was looking for a change of pace from his daily Doomtree production and business responsibilities. He immediately signed on to work on some demos. Beat tapes were exchanged, songs were written, and mutual friend and musical collaborator Ryan Olson (Totally Gross National Product founder, Gayngs/Marijuana Deathsquads mastermind) was brought on board to creatively oversee the project. Olson recorded and edited all 15 tracks in his bedroom studio, bringing in laid back hype-man Cliff Rhymes along the way to add even more layers to Lizzo's dynamic vocals.

LIZZOBANGERS is the culmination of that four-way collaboration, an album that manages to capture all of the varied musical influences of Lizzo's upbringing and combine them with the forward-thinking experimental production style of Beak and Olson. The end result is a brave new project that encapsulates the best parts of both the familiar and the future.

Bad Bad Hats

The Traveling Suitcase

The Traveling Suitcase creates a landscape of dominate independent rock and roll. Breaking loose from tradition lead singer/drummer Nicole Rae is sparked with emotion, animation and discipline. Rae's voice and lyrics are captivating while the band collectively compliments each performance. Blending music from every corner of time and style, Suitcase packs authenticity.

$10 adv / $12 dos

Tickets Available At The Door

4-day passes available for $30 here.

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FRZN Fest - Thursday with Caroline Smith, Lizzo, Bad Bad Hats, The Traveling Suitcase

Thursday, January 16 · 8:00 PM at High Noon Saloon