INTERVIEW: speakeazie

1.) We’re very happy to be speaking today to one of the most exciting new – yet refreshingly retro – voices on the 2022 music scene, Abbey from Speakeazie; greetings and salutations, Abbey! Before we meander down the proverbial Q&A pathway, how has the last gasps of 2022 been treating you?

Hey there and thanks for having me! The final months here in 2022 have been wild, a lot of things going on and exciting projects in the works that I am hoping can define the closely approaching new year.

2.) Major congrats and kudos on the brand-spankin’ new single Ashtray Tears! What was the genesis of Ashtray Tears? Is there a VH1-Behind the Music story you could share with our ever-lovin’ readers?

Thanks for the love! Ashtray Tears is really special to me personally because I feel like it captured the next chapter in my life. While there is a lot of beauty in this new chapter, it is also really scary. Change is scary and there is always the fear that the unsavory parts of me will poison some of the new elements that I’m experiencing. The song is really about loving someone completely but being scared that the previous parts of you could come up and ruin it. It refers to addiction and the focus on self sabotage, but finding that the love from another is healing some of those broken pieces. There is a special kind of connection and devotion to someone when they see the ugly pieces you are trying to fix and still share their love. Not everyone can do that, Ashtray Tears is fearful, appreciative, and passionate.   

3.) How is Ashtray Tears different than anything else on the 2022 music scene?

Something done with speakeazie a lot is the combination of a variety of genres, Ashtray Tears has a lot of passionate self doubt and devotion. The build up is meant to capture that and feel that rawness makes it more unique. 

4.) You combine a modern-day sensibility in Ashtray Tears which does a mean Rhumba and Charleston with the very best of the Big Band and Jazz sound of the 1920s-1930s. How did you hit upon this brilliant form of alchemy?

I just really love the 1920s/1930s. I came from a family of bootleggers, hints my EP released earlier this year ‘Bootlegger Blood’. speakeazie has always been a project about expressing my deepest and darkest emotions. On the sound side, I actually listen to a lot of music from the 20s and 30s, it is easy to appreciate it when it speaks to a special part of me, especially here in the Twin Cities where the history of these decades is so rich. 

5.) Who was your producer on Ashtray Tears and what did that collaboration look like in the studio?

I co-produce with my good friend Viktor Kraus, he is fantastic. While speakeazie is my writing and musical vision, Viktor is really good at helping me get the sound to exactly what I feeling out.

6.) Who are some of the other mighty-talented individuals who make up the sound of Speakeazie?

Other than me, just Viktor Kraus! We are a small duo just doing our thing.

7.) How is Ashtray Tears similar to some of your prior music such as Prohibition Hippie? How is it different?

Ashtray Tears is similar to my previous works in many ways in regards to passion, rawness, and being synth heavy. I would say it is different by pulling more of a hip-hop influence through the beat and drive. I think lyrically it is more hopeful than my previous songs as well.

8.) What do you hope listeners walk away with after giving Ashtray Tears copious spins on their record players?

I really want listeners to go somewhere within themselves and sort through their feelings. I feel like we are constantly on the go or feel like we have to if we aren’t in society and that makes it difficult to get intimate with how we are feeling, not only about others, but ourselves too. I think it is also important to note that you are worthy of being loved despite how broken you may feel. It can sometimes be overwhelming, but take it as it is and don’t be afraid to embrace that realization if/when it comes. Forgive yourself.  

9.) Who inspires you musically?

Too many to list! Specifically for speakeazie material, Cigarettes After Sex, Wet, Alvvays, and The War On Drugs are other popular indie artist I would say really stand out to me.  

10.) Your roots extend to the South. How do those roots inform your altogether refreshing style of music?

I like to say all my badass qualities come from the South. Unfortunately, I would also say most of my toxic qualities come from there as well. There is a reason why I left. Some of the sass, impatience, and angst that can be heard in some of my music is a lot of the Southern touch. I may be emotional, but I am also not one to mess with. I like to make that very clear in my music.

11.) As a singer and songwriter, which comes first for you – the lyrics or the music?

The music ALWAYS comes first. I usually start to feel a certain kind of way and go hungry for the right chord progression/synth sound that can help me get to the right state to begin writing lyrics. Writing lyrics before music is hard for me, so most of the time if I do use writing from before I get the proper chords, it is going to just be small lines or phrases I came up with in a dark or emotional state. 

12.) On the heels of the release of Ashtray Tears can fans look forward to an LP release from you in 2023?

Yes! I’ll be launching another EP early 2023 and another LP is on the horizon. 

13.) Final – SILLY!  – Question: Which band would you give your left eyeteeth to see in concert – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy or Squirrel Nut Zippers?

Musically, the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. BUT, live I would for sure pick Squirrel Nut Zippers. They’re quirky, I mean, come on?

RJ Frometa
Author: RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.
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