FINKEL is a Los Angeles based electronic soul/pop duo. They will perform August 8th at Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids. The versatility in their music covers anything from a subtle hang to a full on dance party. Consisting of driving bass lines, cool synths, and chill vocals, their sound appeals to a wide variety of listeners. It was a pleasure getting to chat with them about their musical journey and creative process.
What drew you to the music industry? How did you get your start?
Brian: We both met in an a cappella group while attending Albion College. Additionally, we played together on Mondays at senior bar night at Cascarelli’s in exchange for pizza and beer (sweet deal). After that, we started writing our own original music together and continued to cut our teeth in the bar scene on Mackinac Island, MI. At that point, we decided to make a run at this industry and give it our all. Nine years later, we haven’t stopped. It’s been an incredible journey and I can only hope the next nine are equally as transformative and fun.
Jane: The music industry is fascinating from every angle. We love working on and expanding our artistry and knew if we wanted to truly take it on, we’d have to see the entire project as a cohesive piece. We both play and work in the industry, which really feeds its progression.
Who are you inspired by?
Brian: This answer is dumb, but it’s the only thing I can conjure up - we are inspired by everything / everyone. I feel that our art is reactionary and that we are merely a creative vessel for what our senses take in.
Jane: When I keep my eyes and ears consciously open, pretty cool things show up. This year, we have been paying a lot of attention to the intense effect color has on everything.
What’s an average day like for you?
Brian: It depends if we are on tour or at home in LA, but really average days don’t really exist for us. That said, I’ll divulge a semi-normal day at home in California -
We wake up at 6:00a / 6:30a and have a water. We meditate. Jane has breakfast / coffee (I intermittently fast). We start work around 7:30a. Jane works in the fashion industry and splits time at the studio and doing content creation from home. I work in the music industry and am emailing every hour of the day for the most part. We’ll throw a workout, a rehearsal, individual music practice, and some writing in the mix (about an hour each per day). We’re always scheming for the next tour, album, song, video, etc. so there is constantly work to be done. It’s all fun, though, so work might not be the most operative word. Perhaps decidedly-driven, focused-fun.
Jane: Brian covered that one well! We are constantly trying to find the balance between work and play. Each one is the necessary shadow of the other. It can be hard for us to take a break… so this is me reminding us to sit down every once in awhile, haha. LA isn’t exactly inexpensive, and this job doesn’t come to those who wait, but there isn’t room for growth in a mind and body on fire!
Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?
Brian :Always. Depends on the track. Again, nearly all of our music is reactionary to what is happening around us. We like to sneak fun alliteration, double meanings, funny (to us) quips, symbolism, etc. into the mix when we can.
Jane: Oh certainly. We like to think of this as our super art project, and it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without a few twists and turns!
Do you collaborate with others? What is that process?
Jane: We looooove working with other people. Watching how the mind of another constructs something like a beat can really open up a whole new creative process. We try to maintain the student mindset, and working with new people allows the floor to open up to a whole new kind of creative play. Plus, it’s just plain fun. The process changes with each artist, because the writing process between even just the two of us is never stagnant. If you come in with too many things you do and don’t do, you are really cutting yourself off.
Brian: Constantly. Whether we work with different song writers, producers, visual artists, animators, actors, whatever - we are always collaborating. It’s our belief that isolation inhibits progress and to be able to speak to / for the masses, you have to get to know as many walks of life as you can. Also, because everyone comes from different backgrounds, the process changes with every new collaboration. Even repeat collaborators bring new magic to each new project.
Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans.
Jane: One of the most precious and beautiful parts of the industry are the connections that occur. We love meeting new people, encouraging them on their paths, and just kicking it and having a good time. We often work remotely on our technology, so our response time is freaky fast (please don’t sue me Jimmy J’s).
Brian: Social media certainly has a vice grip on our communication patterns. However, we love interacting with, and meeting new people. Going and grabbing a drink with a stranger that likes our music has always been one of our favorite activities. We’ve met a lot of great friends by them coming to a show as a stranger, courageously coming to the merch table to say hi (we aren’t intimidating, however meeting new people always takes courage), and then making a plan to have a hang after the show. We are addicted to these types of interactions and can’t help but be drawn to face-to-face communication. Blue light on screens hurts the eyes, people are much easier to look at.
What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? Why?
Brian: Waking up in new places every day, eating each new city’s “staple food”, rapid change, and meeting new people. We love it because it shakes up the monotony and adds color to every moment of the day.
Jane: This lifestyle really works well for us. We are most comfortable when constant change is occurring around us, and we maintain our “normal” by working with and being around one another. I know working with your partner isn’t for everyone, but it works well for us. I love that this job provides an adventure we can share, involves constant creative growth, travel, new food, new people, new experiences… the list goes on. My least favorite part… I love cooking, and I don’t get to eat my food on the road. I miss my healthy stews.
Have you ever dealt with performance anxiety?
Brian: Absolutely, meditation and breathing helps incredibly. After nine years of practice we still get butterflies, but it’s a lot better now.
Jane: Definitely, but it’s kind of fun! I have actually been thinking about this a lot lately. I’m thankful I have the opportunity to regularly scare myself in the name of art. All of that pent up energy turns into adrenaline, and then… I turn into a wild gal up there. It’s addicting. I get nervous less and less, but I’m almost coaxing it into existence now.
Tell me about your favorite performance venues.
Brian: I really love Bell’s Eccentric Cafe (Kzoo: I used to work there, so I’m a bit bias), Schubas Tavern (Chicago, IL), The Morraccan Lounge (LA, CA), and 20 Monroe Live (GR, MI). That said, it’s a dream to play Red Rocks in Colorado and play The Masonic Temple in Detroit. Fingers crossed.
Jane: I have my favorite spots, but it’s mostly about how magic takes hold of a particular evening. Sometimes this undeniable connection and excitement flows through everyone, and the most unlikely situation turns into a madhouse… and I mean that in the best way possible.
What’s the best show you’ve ever played? The worst?
Brian: Thankfully there have been a lot of bests, and subsequently a lot of worsts. Best shows have been at Blissfest 2019, at Schubas Tavern in Chicago, and Bell’s Eccentric Cafe in MI. We also had a dope set in Missoula, MT at this bike shop. Too many to count. Worst shows - man alive, we’ve had our fair share. Perhaps one that took place in Charlotte, MI in 2015 OR New Orleans, LA in 2014. Both made us seriously consider quitting music altogether.
Jane: Best show ever??? Gosh. Recently, a few of my favorites were at the Lunchbox in Phoenix, our last Bell’s Brewery show, every show at Mac’s Bar, and Club Bliss at Blissfest. For Club Bliss, so many people were trying to cram into that small space that they had to take out all of the chairs and open the windows to let more people join the party. It was rad.
What advice would you have for other musicians?
Brian: If you love it, don’t stop. Cliche as it may be, this industry is not for everyone. Figure out why you love it and just keep following the fun. Honestly, that’s the case for every industry. The older I get, the more I am confronted with the fact that time isn’t guaranteed. You shouldn’t be wasting yours doing something you hate, or even moderately like.
Jane: A lot of people told us you shouldn’t go into music for the money. That was often said with a laugh and a slap on the back. I didn’t fully understand that at first, and the meaning keeps changing. Possibly this wasn’t what they meant, but right now I’m taking that as not letting money be a part of your creative decision making process. Making music purely to make money, makes bad music.
NEWS COMING UP in 2019:
We have a kickstarter campaign active right now. We’re trying to fund our debut EP, Backpack of Snacks. We have lots of dope incentives to give back to people in exchange for their monetary help. Those include: exclusive t-shirts (designed by Jane), 5 panel hats, pre-order of EP, personalized voice-mail recording, personalized portrait by Jane Spencer, and the opportunity to be in our next animated music video. Kickstarter ends on August 17th.
Other important dates:
July 30th - New animated video for our song “k i n d o f d a y”, by Robbie Shilstone
August 20th - Single release of “J Walk” featuring Nnamdi Ogbonnaya
October TBA - Debut EP release