Music! Sweet music! Fujiya & Miyagi, Matthew Sweet and Damien Jurado with specials guests from The Shins and The Head and the Heart

There’s behind and there’s REALLY behind when it comes to blog posts. Today’s post features three very different and very talented bands that I photographed within the last year at KEXP. I love them for different reasons and have wonderful memories tied to the sounds of their voices and music.

Damien Jurado is well known and highly regarded in the Pacific Northwest plus he tours internationally with his band. I first saw him play a solo acoustic performance ~10+ years ago when I had recently moved to Seattle and was going out regularly to see local music. If memory serves, the venue was the University of Washington at an atypical concert space. What I do remember vividly is how taken aback I was at how he could sing softly while simultaneously powerfully projecting his emotions associated with the very words he had written. Wikipedia will tell you, “He often makes use of found sound and field recording techniques, and has experimented with different forms of tape recordings. In 2000 he releasedPostcards and Audio Letters, a collection of found audio letters and fragments that he had found from sources such as thrift store tape players and answering machines.” I highly suggest checking him out. Damien had some special guests in the studio when I photographed him. Most notably on the far left is Jessica Dobson of The Shins and Deep Sea Diver plus on the far right from right to left is Jonathan Russell and Josiah Johnson of The Head and The Heart. Damien is in the center wearing the brown jacket.

Damien Jurado in studio session live at KEXP

Damien Jurado KEXP live in studio session

Fujiya & Miyagi, an English band formed in 2000, came to my attention only in recent years. I’m not a fan of nor am I good at categorizing bands and I wouldn’t know how to begin to try to describe their music other than to say there’s an electronica aspect to their music and they sound impossibly cool. For me it’s the kind of music that really gets me going on a night where I feel like I look good and I just want to party with my friends and live life fully. I challenge you to listen to their music without shaking your head or bouncing around in your chair. Their 2010 release Sixteen Shades of Black and Blue is a favorite song of mine. The moody beat and deep whispering voices bring me back to fond memories of when I went out dancing EVERY weekend. The song that first brought the band to my attention that I’ve listened to countless times is Collarbone released in 2006. You can hear both songs here.

Fujiya & Miyagi in studio live session at KEXP

Fujiya & Miyagi in studio live session at KEXP

 Matthew Sweet has been performing since the mid 80′s. When I hear his music I’m brought back to the 90′s when I was living in Chicago surrounded by my nearest and dearest friends. At the time I listened to the local radio station WXRT and Matthew Sweet was pretty much on repeat mode at the station. Wikipedia will tell you Matthew has collaborated with the likes of R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles and Shawn Mullins. I’m never sure what to expect when I’m about to meet an established, prolific musician in KEXP’s tiny studio confines. Sometimes the musicians seem they’d much rather be in bed, or they don’t wish to be photographed or they’re stressed about technical difficulties or their flat out relaxed and super pleasant. Relaxed and super pleasant sums up Matthew. And it was quite surreal to hear him singing his old popular songs in celebration of his 20th anniversary tour. Songs that I was only accustomed to hearing on the radio and not from 2 feet away, live. Wow.

Matthew Sweet KEXP live in studio

Matthew Sweet KEXP live in studio

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