The Sun Radio Music Series ft.
The Wind + The Wave
Haley Johnsen, Rachel Price
310 Willie Nelson Blvd, Suite 1A
Austin, TX, 78701
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 7:30 PM
The Wind + The Wave
In 2014, The Wind and The Wave, a duo from Austin, TX, quietly released one of the best albums of the year. From The Wreckage glowed with a rootsy golden tone that encompassed everything from indie-folk, to alt-country to blues-rock to Southern psychedelia. Its creators, touring musician turned songwriter and producer Dwight Baker and singer-songwriter Patty Lynn, began making music together on a lark, never dreaming anything would come of it. Baker describes it as “kind of like what happens when two friends hold hands and jump in a freezing lake just to see what it feels like.” Thanks to the undeniable chemistry between the pair, the music took on a life of its own and The Wind and The Wave soon found themselves with a major-label record deal, embarking on U.S. headlining tours supporting From The Wreckage, having their songs appear in such TV shows as Grey’s Anatomy, and racking up millions of plays on Spotify and Apple Music. The band also earned itself a rabid following, with fans especially enamored of Lynn’s feisty vocals and brutally personal lyrics about challenging relationships with lovers and family members as well as her relationship with herself. “People really treasure that album,” Baker says. “We got tons of letters from people saying it saved their life. They’re people who are conflicted and searching and they connect with Patty’s lyrics more than anything.”
So when it came time for The Wind and The Wave to make their second album, Baker says he and Lynn felt “some bit of an obligation to deliver that again.” The band definitely deliver on their new album, Happiness Is Not A Place, and the result is the sound of a band that has stretched itself and grown. Lynn manages to dig even deeper with her lyrics, exploring her feelings about marriage, commitment, and family, while acknowledging her own frantic mind. And the band’s sonic palette is nervier, thanks to the album being recorded live by producer Butch Walker, a songwriter and musician who’s produced records for such artists as Weezer and Panic! At The Disco. Where From The Wreckage was manicured and polished, thanks to Baker’s meticulous production, Happiness Is Not A Place is “rawer and rougher,” as Baker puts it. “To me, it sounds reckless with a rock and roll spirit and attitude, an ‘I don’t give a fuckedness,’ if you will. I wanted it to make sense to our fans but to feel like a step forward musically. And I think we accomplished that. It’s really rough around the edges, and there’s a lot of urgency and pent-up stuff that probably came from both Patty and my nervousness about making a record with an outside producer.”
“I hadn’t spent much time recording without Dwight,” Lynn says. “He’s a bit like my security blanket. He lifts me up and makes me better, but he didn’t want to be in the room when I sang because that’s him going, ‘No, Patty, fly. You have your wings and you know how to do this.’ I was nervous. I thought, ‘How is Butch going to know when I’m good?’ Because half the time I don’t even know when I’m good. But once we were in the studio and the tapes were rolling, it was fine. Butch helped me trust in my natural abilities more.”
For his part, Walker wanted the performances to have a “just learned the song” vibe to them. “I hate the way a lot of records these days, especially on the radio, sound so overthought,” Walker says. “My favorite records growing up were all made in a week and had fire because the artists had a lot to prove. I wanted this record to sound like The Wind and The Wave had something to prove as well. I also knew that with Patty’s lyrics, we would be able to make something special. She writes incredible words and you can’t fuck that up if you keep it out front of the music.”
Happiness Is Not A Place has the distinction of containing the first positive songs Lynn has ever written, including the title track and the rollicking first single “Grand Canyon.” “’Grand Canyon’ is about my brother,” she says. “I almost lost him to a major car accident a few years ago. To me the song is about the ability to appreciate what’s in front of you and not take the things that matter most for granted. Yes, life has a lot of shit, but can you try to find a way to be happy before it’s all over, seemingly in the blink of an eye.” The album’s title encompasses how Lynn felt over the two years of writing the album. “It’s the idea that you never arrive at happiness, put your feet up, relax, and just bask in your destination,” she says. “That doesn’t happen. In my brain, happiness is a journey, not a destination. You’re constantly making an effort to be a better person and that’s what makes you happy or content with your life.” She adds: “I have a tendency to write sad things, so writing these songs that felt hopeful is a really big thing for me.”
Lynn’s battles her darker moods elsewhere on the album. A newlywed, she explores what she calls her “weird feelings about marriage and temptation” on “The Redhead in Aberdeen” and “Let’s Forget That I Was Ever Even Here,” as well as her complicated family dynamics on “Before The World Explodes.” She acknowledges her own tormented psyche in the process on “My Mind Is An Endless Sea.” “It’s me saying to myself, ‘Maybe stop being so hard on yourself, Patty. Maybe love yourself a little bit. Why do you carry things around? Why not let the negative thoughts go and not let anxiety control you.’ So it’s about cultivating this relationship with yourself.”
“It’s got to be tough to be Patty or anyone in her life, because if something’s amiss, she’s going to write about it. And you’re going to know it’s about you and you’re going to feel weird about it,” Baker says with a chuckle. “Everyone is in the line of fire. Patty and I are two people who, while we strive to be joyful and positive, can be very much morose and negative, and that definitely comes out in the songs.”
In March, The Wind and The Wave made the move from RCA Records to Island Records, which will release Happiness Is Not A Place later this year. “I hope our fans hear the urgency and appreciate the rawness of the album,” Baker says. “I know that some people really love the beauty of our first record, and I hope they hear the beauty inside the chaos of this record, because it’s there. It just might make you feel a little different.”
Even in the cluttered field of blues-inspired sirens, Haley Johnsen is not to be mistaken as just another one of the girls. A native Portlander and daughter of a drummer, Haley's sound draws out the emotions of each note with impressive range, while her songwriting provides a candid glimpse at the joys and pains of young life.
Shy and fearful about her ability to sing when a child, Johnsen kept her obsession with finding the perfect harmonies to herself until her early 20's. Like a whirlwind, she suddenly found herself cast into the national spotlight in 2012 when she captivated American Idol Season 11 viewers making it all the way through to the Top 24 semifinals before conceding. Haley has since been utilizing the steam from this experience and making waves throughout the Northwest as an independent singer-songwriter.
Her first EP, "Through the Blue," is a playfully mastered farewell to lost love and youthful trysts. Her most recent single release "Feel the Water" is a step in a new direction instrumentally, while still possessing an emotional yet empowering atmosphere. Her versatile rock ensemble is lead with ease through a mixture of anthemic and melancholic original works, with an alternative rock appeal. Haley's influences range from the eccentricities of bands like Radiohead and Pink Floyd; to classic, folk and indie-rock vocalists such as of Eva Cassidy, Nicole Atkins, Florence Welch and Brandi Carlile – all artists with a flair for the dramatic in their delivery.
Written by Ana Ammann
To singer-songwriter Rachel Price, “home” represents a number of very special things. One is her hometown of O’Neill, Nebraska – population 3,700 – to which she’ll always be deeply connected. Another is her memories of road trips with her dad, listing to rock ‘n’ roll in the car, which deepened her love for music. And then Nashville, Tennessee, where she settled almost three years ago to pursue a life in music full time.
It’s also her heartfelt new six-song EP Home, on which Price both acknowledges her enduring bond with her roots on the range, and looks ahead to shape her identity as an artist with new journeys. With her sweet voice tinged with a touch of rasp – both earthy and delicate – and a charmingly off center knack for organically feeling her way through a song with simplicity and conviction, she is smoothly cruising down that road.
Price first got into music through playing drums in her school band. She acquired a guitar when she was 11, and started recording pop, rock and R&B covers, posting them first on Facebook, later on her YouTube channel. When she headed off to college at South Dakota State in Brookings, SD, her plan was to choose studies leading to becoming a veterinarian. She kept posting songs online, though, and her music caught the attention of two producers in Los Angeles. “They asked me if I wanted to come out there and work with them,” says Price. “We wrote songs over Skype, and then I went to L.A. and we recorded four of them in the studio. It was an amazing experience.”
One of those songs was “Little Nebraska Town,” Price’s ode to the communal excitement of hometown Friday night football games, as well as the thrill of Saturday games watching the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the main college football team in the state. A former teacher of Price’s introduced her to internationally renowned photographer and Nebraskan Bill Frakes, who was working with the Nebraska Tourism Commission on content for The Nebraska Project, an initiative and website celebrating the people, places and stories that are the essence of the state.
“Bill traveled all over to promote unique parts of the state. A video was created for my song, which was used to spotlight the culture of football in Nebraska,” says Price. “It got more than a million views. Having so many people relate to something I wrote sparked my interest in making music for the rest of my life.”
Price took a break from school, and with the support of her parents, moved to Nashville in 2014 so that she could be in an environment surrounded by the music industry. Living by herself in a new city – where she knew only two people – was at first a solitary experience, but as she began to venture out and see shows, she tapped into the pulse of her new community.
With the help of a fellow Nebraskan she met in Nashville, she undertook a “Little Nebraska Towns” tour in the first half of 2015 to ride the wave of exposure that her video for The Nebraska Project was generating. She and an acoustic guitarist played to packed venues in dozens of towns throughout Nebraska. “We’d play for hours each show,” says Price. “And I’d never before seen my name on a poster, that was cool!”
The adrenaline rush from the experience spurred Price on back in Music City. “There is so much energy and so many people to feed off of creatively here,” she says. “There are so many different things happening here now. It forces me to be really uncomfortable on a daily basis – in a good way. In new situations, I’m learning how to adapt. And writing music here is an everyday thing. I love it.”
In 2016, she connected with Australian-born, Nashville-based producer, composer, and musician Michael Flanders. She co-wrote four of the six songs on the new EP with Michael’s wife Chaise – a noted songwriter herself – and son Ben. The title track “Home” is wholly Price’s, and “Falling Off The Earth” is a collaboration with pop/Americana singer-songwriter Luke Wade.
The lead track is the lilting and hopeful “Lemonade,” which she wrote with Chaise. “I had brought my uke over, I was messing around with that,” says Price. “Chaise started playing a reggaeish tune on guitar – we wanted to write a happy summer song. I looked out the window and thought even though it’s raining outside, I’m so happy. On days where it’s not all sunshine, you have to make yourself happy. The song just kind of morphed into what it is now.”
The dark-edged, jazz inflected “Falling Off The Earth,” cowritten with Luke Wade, is about a situation with a guy that went wrong quickly. “I was freshly through that when we got together to write, I was feeling really sad, devastated,” says Price. “Luke said, ‘it’s like you’re falling off the earth, and he’s watching you.’ I thought, yeah, I’m hurting so bad and he doesn’t care at all. We had our song.”
The EP closes with “Home,” Price’s wistfully beautiful love song to her hometown. “I was picturing how I grew up. I thought of bare feet. It was so vivid. That one thing sparked the whole song. It got me thinking about how after you leave, you’re still friends with people you went to high school with, though things will never be the same. You won’t be hanging out with those same people every weekend. But I keep coming back to the fact that even though everything is different, I belong there, and I will always have that feeling.” She wrote the song solo so that no one else’s vision of their hometown would interfere – that being said, Price’s authentic evocation of longing for that special place will ring universally true to everyone who feels the same about from where they came.
With Home completed, Price continues to write songs and make and listen to music. She cites Tori Kelly and Ingrid Michaelson as favorites, along with John Mayer and Jason Mraz. She still enjoys the classic rock her dad introduced to her – Led Zeppelin, Eagles, the Police, Pat Benatar, and ACDC, among others. These days, she pushes herself to listen to a broad range of things, and lots of new music, recently including The Weekend, JohnnySwim, Amos Lee, Melissa Etheridge, Leon Bridges, James Bay, and Bruno Mars.
Outside of music, Price continues taking courses toward her college degree. She’s switched majors and is now focused on interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis on business – the entrepreneurial aspects of making and financing an independent record led her to choose that direction. She’s an avid dog sitter and walker, an avocation that both gives her the animal lover fix she needs, and serves as a reliable “day job” – that is, until she fulfills her dream of “making a living just making music.”
The release of Home brings her closer to that goal. “I’ve never been more excited about anything in my life,” she says. “New songs for the whole world to hear.”
Day of Show: $20.00
Part of the Sun Radio Music Series, supported by Central Texas Honda Dealers.
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