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Music News and Interviews

Interview with the creators of “8NIGHTS,” a Hanukkah love song: Dafna and Cameron Desnoes

Around a week ago, I was scrolling through the endless void that is TikTok, and came across a video where a girl said she recorded a Hanukkah song with a random guy who direct-messaged her on Instagram. She pleaded “Please blow it up so my mom doesn’t get mad at me for hanging out with strangers I meet on the internet.” The song playing was “8NIGHTS” by Dafna and Cameron Desnoes. I promptly opened my Spotify and streamed it and immediately fell in love. This Hanukkah love song had stolen my heart, and I wanted to interview the creators. I messaged Dafna on Instagram and 24 hours later, Cameron, Dafna, and I were on a Zoom call.


Where are you guys from?

Dafna: I’m from Boulder, Colorado.

Cameron: I’m from Indian Wells, California.

How did you guys meet?

Cameron: Um, so basically I heard one of Dafna’s songs on TikTok and I was like “Oh my god, this is so good. This is amazing.” So I immediately looked for her Instagram in the TikTok bio and I DMed her and I was like “Dude, your music’s so good like blah blah blah,” and she was like giving generic responses and I was like “Hey you know, like if you’re ever… if you ever want to collab sometime here’s my SoundCloud, give it a listen.” And then she listened and then we just started talking about funny things and then long story short found out that she vacations in Palm Desert and she was going to be there when I was there, and that’s like five minutes from me and then it all worked out.

Oh that’s so cool, it’s like the circle of life because I found out about this song from TikTok.

Dafna: TikTok is just bringing us all together, y’know?

What was the inspiration/ where did you get the idea for 8NIGHTS?

Dafna: So, I have always kind of wanted to write a Hanukkah song that wasn’t about like dreidels or something stupid. Because I feel like most Hanukkah songs that I know are always just like… no one really listens to it unless it’s as a joke. So I wanted to make one that was actually something that more people would want to listen to because it’s a song, not just because it’s a funny Hanukkah song. And I think holiday songs are always better as duets which is why I asked Cameron to sing it with me. 

What are you guys’ favorite holiday traditions? 

Dafna: I guess just like being with family. Hanukkah is eight nights, it’s always hard to have all of us there, I have a pretty big family, there’s seven of us, so it’s hard to have all of us there every single night. But having at least one night where we’re all there eating dinner, lighting candles, and then like, that’s pretty much it.

Cameron: Um, kind of similarly, I really love my family, I love being back. I’m the youngest of four and everyone was gone to college and stuff, so especially when I was little it was great to just see everyone all together. And we do stupid events like family olympics where we make up little games or we’d play game nights after dinner and that along with just the idea of the holidays. We’re not the most religious family ever but I love the traditions we have and the presents we give, and getting matching pajamas and stuff like that, that’s what I love. 

Who are your biggest musical inspirations/role models?

Cameron: That’s pretty tough, but I would say I definitely find inspiration from a lot of different types of music. I’d say my favorite artist, and just one that I’ve always loved because of his passion is Bradley Nowell who was the lead singer of Sublime. I really like him, but I don’t know, I… come back to me for my second one, give me a second.

Dafna: I’d have to say Vulfpeck, they’re just my favorite band and I always listen to their music. Their music is fun and it always puts me in a good mood, so probably them. Or Phony Ppl, I just started listening to them too, and they’re more R&B-ish, and I really like them too.

Cameron: Yeah, I’m gonna stick with my first answer.

Do you have any party tricks or weird talents?

Dafna: I can like, creepily close one eye at a time. 

Cameron: My go-to nowadays is a mean stanky leg. I always pretend like I’m cooking up the pot, and I’m like “What’s that smell? What’s that smell? Oh, it’s stank.” Throw out the stanky leg on them every time. 

How did you each get into making music?

Dafna: My parents put me in piano lessons when I was like four, so that kind of like forced the whole music thing on me, but then I really liked it so I just kept doing it.

Cameron: I also was forced to do piano when I was younger but everyone in my family quit. Then I got into a little bit of musical theater and then a capella. And I just loved music so much, I was like “I have to do it,” and my senior project my senior year, was creating a band. Since then I’ve always wanted to be better at making music, which I’m not, which is why it was awesome to collaborate with Dafna because she is a great producer. 

Cameron, from looking at your Spotify this appears to be your first song, is this your first time working on a song, or just the first one you’ve released?

Cameron: So like I was saying, my senior project was a band and I was the head producer and I was definitely not qualified but, I tried to do some stuff and it sounded okay but I wasn’t confident enough to go through the effort of putting it on Spotify so I threw it on SoundCloud. I’ve always tried, the entire summer this summer, I really worked hard on trying to do my own stuff, but I wasn’t yet proficient enough in Logic that I could express what I wanted to sound like. So I guess the only reason why I was able to release this one was because Dafna is very comfortable with that and so I knew that if I was collaborating with someone who was very comfortable with producing, it would be awesome. 

What’s your favorite song right now?

Dafna: The Taylor Swift album that just came out, I’ve been bumping that, and listening to it like every day, it’s so good.

Cameron: “Hell N Back” by Bakar, if you know who that is.

Dafna: There’s also that one song from TikTok, that Cameron, you were talking about yesterday.

Cameron: “Sensitive”?

Dafna: Yeah, that one.

Cameron: *Plays “Sensitive” by Serena Isioma*

Is there anything else you’re working on/ want to promote?

Dafna: I have an EP that’s coming out in late February or early March, the release is not decided yet.

Cameron: Y’know… I’m a loose cannon so get ready.


If you don’t want to wait until February or March to stream Dafna’s other music, you can check out her Spotify. She has two albums out titled “Submerge” and “I LOVE YOU.” Don’t forget to stream “8NIGHTS” which you can find on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and iTunes. Finally, be sure to keep an eye out for Cameron, he’s a loose cannon after all.

<3,

Caitlin

Categories
Band/Artist Profile

Best of Rilo Kiley

Rilo Kiley is my personal favorite indie-rock band from the 2000s. With lead singer Jenny Lewis, lead guitarist Blake Sennett, Pierre de Reeder on bass and guitar, Jason Boesel and Dave Rock on percussion, this band came out with quite a few powerhouse albums throughout their time as a group. If you’re looking to get into some good quality indie-rock that screams “early 2000s,” you’ve come to the right place. Without further ado, let’s dive into the best of… Rilo Kiley.

“Portions for Foxes”

This tune off Rilo Kiley’s album “More Adventurous” is an absolute banger. This guitar heavy track about seeking physical connection to cope makes you want to scream along in the car with all your windows down. Funnily enough, this song was used in the pilot episode of the hit show “Grey’s Anatomy” and is used several times throughout the series whenever an allusion is made to the pilot. Everything about this song is classic 2000s indie-rock, and I love it. This is definitely the song I would recommend listening to first if you’re looking to get into Rilo Kiley.
Favorite Lyric: “’Cause you’re just damage control / For a walking corpse like me.”

“A Better Son/Daughter”

This ballad about the feeling of inadequacy and growing pains immediately became one of my all-time favorites upon my first time listening to it. Jenny Lewis’ whispering vocals in the beginning builds slowly into her borderline screaming toward the end. This track is one for crying to, but still a banger nonetheless. One of their strongest songs lyrically, “A Better Son/Daughter” fits perfectly in with the rest of Rilo Kiley’s album “The Execution of All Things.” I cannot speak highly enough about the album, and if I could include the whole record on this list, I would.
Favorite Lyric: “And crawl back into bed to dream of a time / When your heart was open wide and you loved things just because / Like the sick and the dying.”

“Let Me Back In”

This ode to Los Angeles has a beach-like feel with the main instrumentals being the acoustic guitar. There’s a powerful moment about three-quarters of the way through the song where the lyrics pause for an instrumental breakdown, and the percussion is the sound of clapping hands. The clapping gives it a human spirit, making this song one of my favorites by the band. Favorite Lyric: “And you can bury me when my body breaks / In the earth that created me, in the Golden State.”

“Spectacular Views”

Another lyrically strong track off of “The Execution of All Things,” “Spectacular Views” may be my favorite song by Rilo Kiley. The second verse of this song is just perfect. The band does make some interesting choices regarding instrumentation, with a squeaky recorder sounding breakdown after the second chorus, but I dig it. The track ends with a fragment of another song that’s woven throughout the album called “And That’s How I Choose to Remember It.”
Favorite Lyric: “You never knew why you felt so good / In the strangest of places / Like in waiting rooms / Or long lines that made you late / Or mall parking lots on holidays.”

“Accidntel Deth”

This track contains my favorite production in a Rilo Kiley song as well as my favorite Jenny Lewis vocals in a Rilo Kiley song. The upbeat production and springy instrumentals starkly contrast with the rather dark lyrics about death. With lyrics that read like poetry, this tune is my favorite off of Rilo Kiley’s album “More Adventurous.”
Favorite Lyric: “And the skin you call your home / Holds a heart that quits and knees that buckle in / And lungs that can’t breathe when they’re alone.”

“Silver Lining”

This song is very sonically different from the rest of the tracks I’ve recommended, but still a very strong contender nonetheless. Jenny Lewis’ vocals really shine through on this song about the end of a relationship. It also features my favorite instrument, the triangle, during the bridge; what’s not to love?
Favorite lyric: “And our bruises are coming / But we will never fold.”

Unfortunately, the group disbanded in 2013 after the release of their final album “rkives,” but they are remembered fondly by fans to this day. This was far from the end of the road for their lead singer, Jenny Lewis, who is still releasing music to this day. Other members also went on to continue a career someway or another in the music industry, whether it be through continuing to play live music or by owning their own recording studio. If you want to check out my picks, I curated this playlist for you.

<3,
Caitlin

Categories
Playlists

Compiled by Caitlin: Year in Review

Like many of y’all, I was excited to see what my Spotify Wrapped had to tell me about my music habits from this year, but I was especially excited for the 100 song playlist that Spotify curates every year. It’s so gratifying and entertaining to see how my music taste has evolved over time. I want to share my favorites from that playlist with you guys and some memories I have associated with each song. Without further ado, let’s get started. 

“Beautiful Faces” by Declan McKenna

This single off of McKenna’s sophomore album “Zeros” is a guitar heavy indie-rock song and in my opinion, an unforgettable bop. Like most of McKenna’s songs, this one is a thematically heavy but sonically upbeat song. It reminds me of walking around campus and studying in NC State’s library, D.H. Hill, pre-pandemic.

Favorite Lyric: “Going to the stores, pullin’ socks out of the drawers / Of the people who you don’t love anymore.”

“Bittersweet” by Greer

This was one of my favorite songs in the beginning of this year. “Bittersweet” by Greer is an indie-rock anthem about a toxic relationship, and is by far my favorite song by the group. The verses detail the good parts of a relationship while the chorus touches on the bad moments. It’s a catchy tune about love, and definitely falls under the same thematically-sad-sonically-upbeat category I mentioned with “Beautiful Faces.” 

Favorite Lyric: “The solitude is now mine / We made it ‘cross the finish line / And left the whole world behind.”

“Friends” by The Lone Bellow

This mellow folk-rock song about the beauties of a strong friendship is another song that I loved pre-pandemic. The instrumentals in this song tug on my heart; the prominent percussion and strong horns make this song feel like home. Even though I only discovered it this year, it feels like one of those songs I’ve known forever, and I love taking solace in that.

Favorite Lyric: “Might punch the clock feel the void / Calling out like it did before.”

“Ceiling Won’t Break” by Finish Ticket

Okay so, this song made it into my Spotify Wrapped last year too, but it’s just such a classic I never stop listening to it. This is yet another indie-rock song (can you tell what my favorite genre is?) that reminds me of good times and got me through bad times. There’s never a time where “Ceiling Won’t Break” doesn’t fit my mood. Finish Ticket also sings “Lying Through Our Teeth,” which didn’t make it onto my Spotify Wrapped but is still one of my favorites nonetheless.

Favorite Lyric: I close my eyes, takes me away / And I go to better times, but reality draws that line.”

“Wrecking Ball” by Mother Mother

This song might have single handedly gotten me through the entire month of July. After hearing a snippet of this song on TikTok, it got stuck in my head for weeks but I kept forgetting to look it up. Funnily enough, a dear friend of mine put this song on a playlist she made me for my birthday and the rest was history. This indie-rock song, like “Beautiful Faces” and “Bittersweet,” has a rather dark theme, but a rather cheery sound.

Favorite Lyric: “You gotta see the artistry / In tearing the place apart with me baby.”

“So Much Better” by Evan Olson

This funky rock tune is very reminiscent of Barenaked Ladies. It has a very interesting story behind it, as it was lost in time for a few decades, and was rediscovered through the investigative journalism of PJ Vogt in episode #158 of the podcast “Reply All” which you can listen to here. This song, as well as the podcast “Reply All” got me through the beginning months of quarantine this year. The icing on the cake is that Olson is based out of Greensboro, North Carolina.

Favorite Lyric: “Long before I looked into your eyes / I saw a million stars start flashin’.”

“Nickel” by Flipturn

Discovering Flipturn this year drastically changed my life for the better. Their “Citrona” EP was essentially the soundtrack to my February and March. This rock anthem reminds me of better times but similarly to “Friends” by The Lone Bellow, it feels like one of those songs I’ve known forever. 

Favorite Lyric: “But wait, what about yesterday? / I was only five / And had so much to say.”

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my top picks from the year. Be sure to check out these songs here.

<3,

Caitlin

Categories
Band/Artist Profile Miscellaneous

Best of Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers has entered the radar of many indie lovers this year upon the release of her second album “Punisher.” Her diary-like storytelling, sorrowful disposition, smooth vocals, and folky melodies combine to make top-tier indie music. So, join me on my journey to parse out the best of… Phoebe Bridgers.

  1. “Motion Sickness”

What would a Best of Phoebe Bridgers be without her most well known single, “Motion Sickness”? This song, a mild expose of a toxic relationship, is one of her most melodically potent songs, and has a catchier chorus than most of her other works. Despite the upbeat sounding percussion and springy guitar, the song conveys the hurt that Bridgers went through during her relationship and her liberating herself from that hurt.

Favorite Lyric: “You said when you met me you were bored / And you, you were in a band when I was born.”

  1. “I Know the End”

The closer on her sophomore album, “Punisher,” “I Know the End” is one of her more experimental tracks. The song starts out like most of Phoebe Bridgers’ tunes, a soft whisper of longing, but it builds up to be a metal song, complete with blood-curdling screams and heavy percussion toward the end. This ballad about Bridgers’ mental health and struggle with depression is chock-full of noteworthy and breathtaking lyrics, and is by far one of the best album closers I’ve ever heard.

Favorite Lyric(s): “I’m always pushing you away from me / But you come back with gravity” and “Windows down, scream along / To some America First rap country song.”

  1. (cover of) “Friday I’m in Love” by the Cure

This isn’t technically a work of Bridgers herself, but her cover of “Friday I’m in Love” by the Cure is a refreshing take on the hit 90s rock song. Her soft vocals and the calming instrumentals feel like a breath of fresh air after a long day.

Favorite Lyric: “Dressed up to the eyes / It’s a wonderful surprise / To see your shoes and your spirits rise.”

  1. “Kyoto,” “Kyoto (Copycat Killer Version)”

“Kyoto” would be the song I would recommend to anyone looking to get into Phoebe Bridgers’ music. This unusually upbeat track is juxtaposed with lyrics about her rocky relationship with her father. This horn-heavy track is perfect to scream-sing along to in the car with friends, and is my personal remedy for hard days. More recently, Bridgers came out with a strings only version of the song with Rob Moose. This more melancholy take on the song makes the lyrics all the more powerful and is definitely a tearjerker. 

Favorite Lyric: “Born under Scorpio skies / I wanted to see the world / Through your eyes until it happened / Then I changed my mind.”

  1. “Funeral”

This is definitely one of Bridgers’ saddest songs, as it is about the death of a close friend. This song seems to capture the darkness and light of grieving, and the feeling of celebrating a life publicly and mourning a death privately. This duality of grief is perfectly captured in the intro of the song, which starts out with a gritty reverbed electric guitar that flows into a melodic acoustic guitar. This track is one of my favorites from her debut album, “Stranger in the Alps.”

Favorite Lyric: “And I have this dream where I’m screaming underwater / While my friends are waving from the shore.”

  1. “Garden Song”

“Garden Song” is exactly what it sounds like it would be, a melodic and warm song about hopes and dreams– an unusually positive theme for Bridgers’ discography, but a welcome one. This leading single is what drew me to her discography, although not thematically on par with the rest of her music, it most definitely is sonically typical of her work.

Favorite Lyric: “The doctor put her hands over my liver / She told me my resentment’s getting smaller.”

This is merely an overview of my personal favorites, so if you’re just getting into Phoebe Bridgers, by all means don’t stop there. If you’re dying to listen to my picks now, check out this playlist. She has worked on many other projects including Boygenius and Better Oblivion Community Center. She has also collaborated with Fiona Apple, The 1975, Lord Huron and quite a few others throughout her career. Bridgers did just announce on Nov. 10 that she is releasing an EP of songs from Punisher with string instrumentals, which we got a sneak peek of with her releasing “Kyoto (Copycat Killer Version).” Although I am definitely late to the Phoebe Bridgers scene, I am just glad to be here and that I can absorb her artistry.

Check out her website and Instagram!

<3,

Caitlin