Well for starters, I have to say that words can’t describe the fun I had with this music edition of Sean In The City. Chatting over coffee with iTunes at the ready, Nicole Crane opened my eyes to the diverse and unique music scene right here in Dallas. She is also to blame for sparking a Stevie Nicks moment, now turned obsession, right on my iPod. The Starbucks on Caruth Haven/ Greenville was jamming while our rock-steady chat took place.
Today, Straight off the SXSW “band wagon” Nicole brings a bit of groove to the blog with her all access pass insight worthy of a Steve Nicks fan base. A music enthusiast doesn’t begin to tell about Nicole’s presence in the Dallas scene. With her Blog, Flannel Friction, she declares to the world her music filled life. Plus, her studious background in voice and musical performance labels Nicole as a music pro far from just groupie-dom. Her knowledge of the industry leads her to explore multiple genres dissecting every sound and every lyric. To add, being part of the Dallas Observer’s street team gets her into some of Dallas’ can’t-miss shows, perhaps Perks worthy of a Wallflower (A must-pun moment). My ConversaSEAN with this musical maven made me listen a little more carefully and of course Jam a little harder. Perhaps even awakening my inner white-winged dove.
Sean Charles: Tell me a little bit about your background in music?
Nicole Crane: Well, music has been a major constant in my life. In fact, some of my earliest memories revolve around music. Also I studied voice and music performance in college.
SC: What initially sparked this interest in music?
NC: Music speaks to you in a way that other forms of art and expression can’t. Music has the ability to frame your life and enhance it in such a beautiful way. From a young age I was drawn to music, always asking the meaning behind songs, dancing around the living room to it, singing along to it.
SC:What do you think about the music industry right now across all genres?
NC: You know, strangely enough I have a lot of hope for the music industry right now. I think there has definitely been a big shift from the over produced vapid pop acts of yesteryear to singers and bands that are authentic musicians, who write their own songs, and who love what they do. There is a lot of talent and art in the market right now, from the small indie band to the broadest pop act. With the exception of dubstep (blech) I think it is an exciting time for music!
SC: There has been a resurgence in folk music like the Lumineers and Mumford & Sons, what do you think about the return of this genre?
NC: As a folk fan myself I am a little torn. Part of me loves the fact that something I love is finally getting the recognition and love it deserves, but part of me hates how mainstream it has become. I love that folk music has an artistry, a heart, and a rich history to it. So if people are getting into music with a soul behind it than I’m all for it! I think my only gripe is that the bigger a band gets, the harder it is to get into their shows! [laughs]
SC: There some great names out there, who are among your faves?
NC: Well a few of my favorites have recently released new albums, Jim James, Local Natives, Telekinesis, Leagues, and Villagers, to name a few. Alt J is an amazing band from good ole England and they are doing something new and exciting. I am a huge lady singer fan and I have been listening to a lot of Sharon Van Etten, First Aid Kit, and the Alabama Shakes lately. And of course good ole Jack “freakin” White! [Laughs]
SC: What about the classics, who have you always been a fan of?
NC: I grew up on oldies so this is my favorite question! I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I was hugely influenced by the big guys, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash (swoon). But in recent years I have had a growing love for old soul and doowop groups! Sam Cooke’s velvety voice, Otis Redding’s fire and passion! The fabulous harmonies of the Temptations, the Chiffons, and the Drifters. There is just something so wonderful about a simple love song sung with such passion and earnestness.
SC: Great names, who doesn’t love good ole’ Bob, I myself just recently rediscovered Stevie Nicks, so im having a major Bella Donna moment right now! You work for the Dallas Observer Street Team which gets you in with some cool perks in the music scene, any fave moments?
NC: So many! I love this job for so many reasons, but I have enjoyed immensely getting to meet music fans out and about in the city! Everyone wants to tell you their story and how much they love the paper and the music! Some real high points in my time there have been getting to see KISS, emceeing at the Dallas Observer Music Awards, also getting in to some incredible sold out shows like the Punch Brothers and the XX!
SC: I usually talk about the Dallas fashion scene a lot but have loved the music scene, what are your thoughts on Dallas’?
NC: Dallas really does have a very rich scene. You could name almost any genre of music and Dallas will have a local band just for you! As far as fashion goes, Dallas has some incredibly fashion forward bands and singers, for example the Blackstone Rangers’ Ruth Smith, Zhora’s Taylor Rea, or Dallas Music’s first lady Sarah Jaffe.
SC: Got any local faves?
NC: The Will Callers, Goodnight Ned, Blackstone Rangers, Oil Boom, the Venetian Sailors, the O’s, Air Review, and band on the verge, Seryn!
SC: You have spent some time in Nashville also being part of the scene there, how is it?
NC: Nashville is a city with such a legendary musical background that it permeates the scene. You can’t turn a corner without running into a theater or club that has hosted some of the most incredible performers in history. It is a city filled with such talented musicians and there always seems to be music pouring out of every doorway. I would love to spend some more time there soaking it up and seeing what all it has to offer.
SC: You attended this year’s SXSW in Austin any notable fun moments?
NC: Well, I had the privilege of seeing Dave Grohl and the Sound City players perform at Stubbs. Such an amazing line up, from Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, to John Fogerty (Creednce Cleerwater Revival), to the surviving members of Nirvana, to Stevie Nicks! I will admit to getting teary eyed as Stevie sang “Landslide.” These are musicians and songs that have lived with me for sooo many years and getting to see them perform live (with Dave and the rest of the foo fighters) was a dream come true!
SC: Oh, I think my Stevie moment just got bigger! I’m tearing up just hearing this answer, ‘After the Glitter Fades’ is an anthem of mine! Who was on your Must-see list at SXSW?
NC: DAWES!! I have seen these guys play at least 7 times but I do NOT miss a chance to catch them. They have a new album coming out next week and from what I’ve heard so far it’s on a path to becoming my favorite album of the year. I happened to catch the bands Leagues and Ivan and Alyosha as well and they both put on such a high energy live show that had the whole audience dancing and clapping along. They are definitely worth looking up!
SC: Would you like to see a music festival as large SXSW come to Dallas?
NC: You know, while it would be great to not have to deal with the Austin traffic I really think that Dallas has some incredible festivals of its own! A few of my favorites being the Homegrown Fest (featuring a line up of ALL Texas-based bands!). Homegrown has an incredible line up this year, including the Divine Fits and the Polyphonic Spree. Local radio station KXT has outdone itself with its 2nd annual Summercut Happy Funtime Festival with performances from the Avett Brothers, Dawes, Matt and Kim, and a slew of others. And we can’t forget about the Fort Worth Music Festival. I can’t wait to see the Walkmen and Delta Spirit at this 2 day festival in May!
SC: You also Maintain a blog, Flannel Friction, tell me about it?
NC: Flannel Friction is basically my love letter to music. I started it as a way of hedging the question “what are you listening to now, Nicole?” It’s my way of geeking out over the music that fills my life. I hope to inject a bit of my personality and enthusiasm into each post. I’m not a critic, I’m a lover, and that’s what you’ll find, essays and conversations about what I’m into and what you should be checking out. I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus but hope to be back to a regular schedule starting this month!
SC: You know I’ll be tuned in (so to speak) with Flannel Friction. What are some of your ambitions, do you see your self behind the mic?
NC: Oh singing is such a passion of mine and I received a banjo for Christmas so I hope to put those two to great use! That being said, I don’t necessarily think that performing is my endgame, but I wouldn’t count it out! I would love to continue writing, seeing great shows, being inspired by music and see where that takes me.
SC: Finally, I know this is a bit of a rough question, but do you have a favorite song?
NC: Strangely, this is the easiest question. My favorite song is “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles. It is a simple song, (and short at that, clocking in at just over 3 minutes) but I feel that it is perfect in its simplicity. Such a hopeful little piece of sunshine by my favorite Beatle (George Harrison).
It’s been a long, cold lonely winter
It feels like years since it’s been here
SC: I think that’s a perfect way to end!