“I've always used to write music except that everything I’d written in the past was done alone on guitar,” notes Leah Seigel of Firehorse during the creative process for her sophomore release, Pills From Strangers. “For this record, I wanted to be inspired by different sounds to create melodies and ideas, not the other way around.

Pills From Strangers is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed, And so they ran faster…. The Firehorse debut garnered immense praise from the LA Times, NPR Music, Paste, Time Magazine, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Spinner, Time Out New York, Boston Phoenix and many more. Lead single “Our Hearts” was featured by Teen Vogue, RCRD LBL, WXPN and countless other outlets while the video (a coproduction and conception with the prestigious arts collective The Windmill Factory) was featured by Paste Magazine, My Old Kentucky Blog & Spinner.

Stand out track “If You Don’t Want To Be Alone” was nominated for ‘Best Music at Cannes’ for inclusion in the Grand Prize Winning PSA for the Topsy Foundation, which won multiple prestigious awards at CLIO, the LIAs, and was featured in ‘10 Ads worth Spreading’ by TED.

After the release of precious and complex And so they ran faster…, Siegel decided on a new approach for Pills. Where Faster… was dense, calculating, and took years to write, Pills would be more simple and carefree, and be written primarily in studio.

“It was a big fear to face after being such a premeditated writer; to trust myself to shoot from the hip and still create something that I love,” explains Siegel. “But I was dedicated to simplicity…in my own way of course.”

Long time fans will hear the continued depth and emotion that first drew them to Siegel, while discovering a new accessibility. The enigmatic Firehorse offers up another truly eclectic record.

Lead track “Bloodstream,” the quirky speed-popper “Good,” and mid-tempo, electro-lull “Wave” were all developed in studio alongside longtime producer Geoff Stanfield (Sun Kil Moon, Moby, Mieka Pauley).

“Geoff is an incredibly talented producer and we work well together,” explains Leah. “He lets me be myself, experiment and flail and I trust his ears and sensibility. It was clear that we should work together again.”

The stark acoustic based “Walls” and the surprising, soul inspired “Fool” were the only two songs that were complete before going into production. Dark and beat driven “Scarecrow” was half written and the luscious “Any Other Day” was developed as a live performance for The Windmill Factory’s installation at the MIT new Media Lab, before being extended in the studio to a full-length song.

Pills From Strangers features textures and sounds that build upon the foundation laid by the debut. Siegel has now incorporated samples and key controllers into the Firehorse repertoire. Even with new elements involved, Pills From Strangers has some of the most accessible Firehorse songs yet.

Also returning on the album are longtime Firehorse cohorts Brian Wolfe (David Byrne/St. Vincent, Sufjan Stevens) on drums, guitarist Steve Elliott (Shooter Jennings), bassist Tim Luntzel (Rosanne Cash) and keyboardist/programmer Mendeley Wells.

In addition to Firehorse, Siegel is in high demand with a long line of star-studded projects and is a darling of the underground Brooklyn Scene. In addition to working with Fugee legend John Forte, producer Seven Aurelias of P.Diddy’s crew, Ja Rule, Sean Lennon, Grammy Winners Josh Ralf and Lady Rizo, she also fronts The Brooklyn Boogaloo Blowout and sings and dances in The Citizens Band along with Sarah Sophie Flicker, Karen Elson, Nina Perrson, Rain Phoenix, Zoe Kravitz, Angela McKluskey and Julia Stiles.

Siegel has also begun another project with Dave Hodge (Broken Social Scene, Bran Van 3000, Basement Jaxx) called Leisure Cruise. The debut album features guests from Metric, Blondie, Stars, Broken Social Scene, Dirty Vegas and more and scheduled to release later in 2013.

Leah continues her dedication to human rights, performing the 2012 Oslo Freedom Forum for Ai Wei Wei, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Manal Al-Shariff, the recipients of the Vaclav Havel prize for Creative Dissent. To give back to the artist community, Leah volunteers at Art Start’s One Mic Collective, an alternative sentencing program for at risk youth, and acts as a mentor for their Emerging Artist-in-Residence program, for artists ages 17-20 that have exhibited exceptional artistic talent but lack the resources and support.

White Prism

Australian-born, Hungarian-bred, Brooklyn-based Johanna Cranitch of White Prism was born into music. Her Hungarian jazz pianist grandfather declared on the day she was born: “This one will be musical.” And so it began.

Her mother enrolled her in the Kodaly school of early childhood music education and her Irish/Australian father brought his love of Gregorian chant and ecclesiastical music to the table, guiding Johanna toward the stage. At nine years old she was singing St Matthew’s Passion at the Sydney Opera House.

She joined Opera Australia’s Childrens’ Chorus and thus began her career in music. Opera first, pop second. From Fleetwood Mac to Kate Bush to Loreena McKennitt to Wham, Johanna’s parents played records that would influence her dreamy pop leanings in the future.

First a more formal study of music. After attending a performance arts high school, Johanna enrolled in a jazz degree program at the Australian Institute of Music, where she graduated with honors. There she developed a love for the vocal stylings of Ella Fitzgerald and Joni Mitchell. She performed across Australia as a jazz vocalist before moving to NYC.

Once in New York, she convinced the head of prestigious Nola Recording Studios to let her intern and she was soon on her way to engineering full time for the likes of Liza Minelli, Hank Jones and Bette Midler. But that was not all she was doing. Over a period of four years at Nola, Johanna had been writing and recording her own songs behind the scenes, after hours. She was always the first one in and the last one out. One day she decided it was time to make her own album and so the cat was out of the bag. Johanna was on her way to becoming an artist in her own right.

She began by singing backup for various projects in NYC and touring extensively with the band Wheatus. By the time she sat down to put together her own debut, she had over three hundred demos to sift through. “Funnily enough, once I decided to make a record, I couldn’t stop writing new songs. I’d been traveling all year, moving around from Europe to Australia to the United States, driving from NY to LA and back again. I was searching for something in my nomadic state and I found it in these songs. I shelved the old demos to make room for the new, so they sit growing cobwebs to this day.”

Wherever those songs might be, the songs that made the final release were well worth the sacrifice. It shimmers and moves between moods of passion, desire, and cooly calculated regret. Here and there allusions to Kate Bush, Bjork and Bat for Lashes give way to the jazz upbringing that started it all for Johanna. Whatever comparisons may be drawn, Northern Lights shines brightly in its own unique atmosphere.

I am Lightyear

[lahyt-yeer, -yeer]

1. Astronomy. The distance traversed by light in one mean solar year, about 5.88 trillion mi. (9.46 trillion km): used as a unit in measuring stellar distances Abbreviation: lt-yr

2. light-years,
a. a very great distance, especially in development of progress
b. a very long time


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