What Music Means To Me: Ari Michaels


Ari Michaels has been a compassionate friend of ours, an opinionated woman, and someone who celebrates Body Positivity for femme folx of every shape & size. A truly inspiring, and not to mention, hugely talented human being who we’re happy to have as part of our What Music Means To Me project.

Check out Ari’s thoughts down below!

Ari Michaels (Advocate/Singer/Songwriter):

”I think one really special thing about music is that just about everybody likes it. Even with a variety of genres to favor over others, music has an ability to be objectively uplifting, to bring us to dance or tears, to recall memories and help us escape. Everyone is welcome in music, everyone has a spot. Shower acoustics and highway breeze car-rides can transport a person into their rockstar fantasies, just as overhearing “Take On Me” by AHA on the radio can trigger a sweet, hilarious memory.

Lately I find myself listening to funk like Parliament Funkadelic, upbeat Hip Hop like Anderson Paak. or pretty much anything under Soul, old and new. It makes me feel slick and reminds me how cool I am, since I forget from time to time.

Point blank, music address a core desire in all people which is a sense of belonging. A local artist who I feel encapsulates this feeling is Remember Jones, a Soul/Pop singer out of Asbury Park, NJ. The album “Tranquilizer!” is full of tight band hits and old-school harmonies. RJ produces hypnotizing melodies and original lyrics that’ll pull you in like a magnet and bring you to your feet. I’m thankful I’ve been able to see RJ live on a handful of occasions because the live performances completely transform the listening experience. Not only does the band have intense energy on stage, but all the members actively turn their performance into a space for you to let go and join in.

You’re never left out of the Remember Jones experience.”

What Music Means To Me: Jack McCann

Photographer: Credit To Original Photographer  (Please contact us)

Photographer: Credit To Original Photographer (Please contact us)

A transplant from California, Jack McCann has utilized their local DIY scene to create a new beginning - not only in music, but friendship, and moving forward! The singer, songwriter & instrumentalist is bringing back Pop Punk in Philly, something we’re all thankful for!

Check out what they had to say about music & what it means to them down below!

Jack McCann (Instrumentalist/Singer/Songwriter)

To me, music means community and self care more than anything. I have met all of my closest friends through our shared love for music. Ever since I was little, music has been the driving force of my life. I was always singing along to the radio or having barbie karaoke parties with my friends. When I was an angsty pre teen, my online community of other “fangirls” were my closest friends. When things get dark in my life, I always have concerts to look forward to, and new releases to keep life exciting.

Since I started playing my own music in Ready Now, I have met many people in the local music scene who have become some of my closest friends. I didn’t know anyone in Philly when I moved from San Francisco a few years ago, so getting involved with the D.I.Y community is what formed my social life here. I’ve also found many of my favorite artists through playing shows. I’m always inspired and moved by how many incredible bands I get the opportunity to play shows with. One of these bands is The Afraid Brigade from Iselin, NJ. I played an acoustic show at their singer’s apartment last April, and when they started playing “I’m In Hell” I teared up. I had never heard the song before that show, but hearing the crowd sing along with the acoustic rendition was incredibly beautiful.

Ever since that show, The Afraid Brigade has been in my regular music rotation.

Emily's Top 5 Songs For Feeling Spooky

It’s important to feel spooky during the spooky season - so we’re here to help.

October is a time for many things - pumpkins, ghosts, saying you like scary movies but still having to sleep with your roommate after watching The Conjuring, and the like! We’ve created a playlist that’s sure to make you feel extra creepy crawly as you go about your day!

Gods & Monsters - Lana Del Rey

An oldie, but a goodie. I included this one for two reasons - Lana Del Rey is one spooky ass bitch who I would like to kiss, and also her voice lends itself to spooky season in basically all of her discography, so if you don’t like this song, feel free to choose any other one and it’ll have the same effect. With a cameo in American Horror Story: Freak Show, the spooky levels are confirmed by Hollywood. With Lana’s vintage style & sultry, pepper voice it’s easy to get lost in “Gods & Monsters.”

Holding On - Jenn Champion

This is one of the most recent tracks on the list, having been released earlier this year. The track is indie bliss - and Champion’s voice is eerie and soothing all at once. The track is off of her 2018 album Single Rider, and outlines being in a relationship with someone who definitely isn’t the right fit; and, while unlike any of the other tracks on this spooky list, (because it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with anything spooky), the tracks aesthetic and mood fits in perfectly with this list - plus, feelings are pretty scary, so.

Halloween - Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth is, arguably, always creepy. So, we just straight up chose “Halloween” for this playlist because, ha ha, it says Halloween in the name! Of course, we also chose this song simply because it “slaps” as the kids say. The ethereal, ghost-like sound of Sonic Youth lends itself perfectly to prepping for that Haunted House you’re going to, or prepping for trick or treating with friends.

Cannibal - Ke$ha

An old school classic about eating the hearts of men by our Lord & Savior, Ke$ha. A perfect Halloween bop for getting ready for a party, making out with your ‘BOO’ for the night. We love the empowerment of femme folx, and we love pop so what isn’t there to love about “Cannibal.” The track is an easy listen, and a classic from the “Tik ToK” era - and for feeling spooky, this will get you there!

Rattlin’ Bones - Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Do ya like jazz? Well, we’ve got some spooky jazz for you. We feel it’s important to keep the list as objective as possible, and this rendition of “Rattlin’ Bones” is sure to make you feel some type of spooky way.

We want to give a special shout out to literally any song called “Halloween” and also to everyone who said that the list wasn’t valid unless The Misfits were on it (hah, they aren’t).

Artist Interview - Curtis Cooper

Photography: Abi Reimold

Photography: Abi Reimold

In a coffee shop, Curtis Cooper and I drank tea and talked.

And when I say talked, I mean we really talked about everything. Curtis let me in on his life in less than an hour, and maybe that's why I wanted to talk to him in the first place. After seeing him play back in March, I was hell-bent on finding this guy. 

So, I did, and we met in this coffee shop and we talked and I recorded it, transcribed it and now it's here for you to read. Curtis let me in on growing up, on college, music, feminism, racism, and Philly - and heck, if you're interested in that stuff, especially from Curtis Cooper (all around really cool human being) then maybe this interview will be really good for you!

So, let’s get started with you telling me about yourself, about how you got started in music. I started playing guitar when I was four, my Dad made me, it was kind of an every day thing, and then I got into piano, cello, and choir – but I didn’t really stick with any of that too well until I was 13 and I got back into guitar and I went to Paul Green School of Rock…ultimately I didn’t like doing that as I got older because they make you do these tribute shows make your family come and stuff, which was good back then because it got me into classic rock bands, the people that stuck with me like The Ramones, The Clash, Janice Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Nirvana. Nirvana was the first big one, and I got back into guitar hard, and ya’ know Nirvana was the first band I found myself, the first band I said, “this was made for me.” I knew every fuckin’ song.

Where are you from? I’m from South Philly originally, moved up to North West when I was 10 and I went to High School at Central, which is a really good school.

How did you get where you are now? I’ve always played guitar, but I’ve never really played in bands. I don’t know why. I played in some in high school, one was called “The Stretch Marks,” and the other was called “Don’t Get Caught.” The songs didn’t have any meaning, ya know, we just liked to get really drunk, and honestly I did that through college until like, really, a year ago when I thought I should stop playing punk music, and play music I want to play that makes me happy.  

What is the Curtis Cooper Project? I had always had these songs I had written that I just didn’t know what to do with, and that’s when I started the Curtis Cooper project – I hit up Scott Stitzer (Drummer in Mumblr) saying “dude I want to make a record, I don’t know what it’s gonna sound like, I know all the parts,” so, I went over there and recorded it, and it got more traction then I thought it would…so, I started to play you know my songs. I feel like I just started doing this, way more recently than I should have – but, through all of that I got my guitar chops up pretty good, so. 

Where are you at now? I’m living in this venue in West Philly called All Night Diner, and it is literally just like the best place I’ve ever lived. There’s 8 people living there and everyone plays music. I come home there’s a band in the basement, someone’s always playing guitar near me, so all we do is play music now – and it’s amazing. I’m kickstarting into music for the first time, and it’s amazing, and I lucked out being in Philly because you can get anywhere you want, it’s so easy to tour from here. This city is so strong, too. There’s great bands in North Philly, South Philly, Fishtown, West Philly – like, anywhere you go there’s a scene. I feel like everything’s just falling into place, and I’m kind of opening my eyes for the first time and wanting to be involved more. It’s not about just being angry anymore, it’s about being proud of what I write.

So, you write all of your stuff? Yeah, I do write everything. The rhythm of the melody is incredibly important, the harmonies is also something I think a lot about, and that’s more important than the words to me. I write the lyrics, too. I write those last, but I’m working on that. I have a general idea, but sometimes I tip toe about it, or sometimes I’m direct about it, but the rhythm is still the most important thing to me.

What about Philly inspires you so much, since we’re talking about Philly, does it inspire you at all? I’ve toured a lot, I’ve been on a travel kick, I’ve traveled around the world like this past year, ya know the Philippines, Mexico, Amsterdam, Morocco, England – you know I’ve just been traveling, up and down the East Coast and the West Coast, and I keep my eye out thinking like “ya know, where would I move, if I had to move” and for a while it was Ashville, and Portland, or Seattle, but the more I traveled the more I realized I need to be in an east coast city, and like Philly is the perfect mix between New York and Baltimore where you have the grid, or Boston where you can get out and the architecture is beautiful and we have so many beautiful things, and you have the grit where people are still real, and you have the yuppies to keep the city clean – I feel like we have everything, the clean and the shit, everything you need here. Of course, all the colleges too, I mean that’s why we have a scene – we would be nothing without Temple, Drexel, UPenn, Uarts this is why we have a music scene. 

So, this sounds dumb, but I read on your Facebook that you’re inspired by Elliot Smith, Neutral Milk Hotel, do they still bring things to your own music now? Elliot Smith, yes, really. Oh my god, all the time. All I do is play Smith songs all the time. I woke up in the Philippines with Elliot Smith tattoos. He’s unbelievable, so smart, obsessed with math and theory and everything. You think he did that on accident, put his pinky on that string on accident, but no it’s all on purpose – unbelievably unique and clever. It’s all about chord progressions for me, so if you write a good progression I’m in love, and Elliot Smith is the king. He was always just fuckin’ with his brain to see how crazy he could get. My all time favorite record is From A Basement On The Hill, his last record, and the way you listen to music is like getting inside of a persons head – I feel like when I get inside his head, I’m not alone. It makes me feel like I’m fuckin’ fine, like I have a friend. 

Is that what you want people to get from your music? No, I don't because it means people are just as fucked up as I am, which is odd. I mean people are listening to my record, and I'm surprised by it, I didn't think people would want to listen to it. I hope people don't like this because people are fucked up, but honestly I started the album out disguised. Like the song "4 Minutes" is happy and "Today L.A." is about the first time I left Philly. Then the third song is about depression, "Happy and Sane," is about two people in my head, half of me thinks I'm fine, but when I go to sleep it's not like that, but then you wake up and everything's fine - it doesn't make sense. There's always these little disguises, the 4th song is about suicide, the 5th and 6th song is about getting arrested, the last one is about cocaine. I just try and make them as pretty as I can, but in my head this music is sad, so if you relate to it, but I hope that it's not because everyone's depressed as shit all the time.

What are your goals now? Now since all of my friends are really making their music their business, and I'm sitting here like why aren't I making music responsible, my goals used to be like let me just tour a bunch - but now it's being more realistic about getting paid for shows, my dream would be to just be getting paid to do music, like if I won the lottery I'd just play music all the time, but I'm poor so I have to work. I am what I am, I can't change that. I don't really know what my goals are, maybe play more established venues like I've played Johnny Brenda's, playing Boot & Saddle, Bourbon & Branch. I started out playing house shows, ya know the dream, but honestly I really enjoy having a real sound, I want a sound guy who knows what he's doing. My goal now, I guess, is to not freak out - I'm working on a record now, get that out, keep expectations low, I guess? I don't have to take my life too seriously, cause I have some options, some outs, but I do have options.

So, easier questions, what's your favorite type of food? Um, I love potatoes. I cook food as much as I can, so I mix it up a lot. But, my dream meal is like a steak, potatoes, asparagus, and a bunch of bread and butter. That's the dream. I could eat that for the rest of my life.

That was my next question, could you eat that for the rest of your life? I could, if I had to eat one thing I'd eat just potatoes because you can always mix it up. I'd add sauces to it, or salt/pepper, onions. Potatoes are magic. 

You played at the Bernie Support Show, have you done anything politically charged like that before? My Dad is a very weird dude, and in the 80's he was really into Native American Rights and Communism, I don't know how those are connected, but because of that back in High School I hosted benefit shows for Native American Rights - and I've been fortunate enough to have gone to the Sun Dance Festival. I've gone to The Feast Of The Dead. I had a benefit for Leonard Pelteir, and it's sad because I feel like if these were benefits for something else more people would come out. That's my go-to, but honestly, I can't find a Native American band to be on the show - that's the political thing I'm invested in, because I was fortunate to see those ceremonies, and this is a dying race of people that no one is talking about. I have this desperation about it, I wish Bernie could win, I feel like this is the first time that change is possible, you know.

I guess that's really it, unless you wanted to talk about the record you are creating? Yeah, I mean it's gonna come out at some point. Laughing In Line came out really chill, because I was staying away from aggression - but this next one, the riffs are heavier, but it's definitely what people call Punk now - grunge or fuzz. There's a lot of acoustic songs, two about being in love. All of the songs are about death, I had so many people die this year, and it all started with David Bowie, but people close to me just dropping like flies. The record is very depressing and anxious and tense, but it's closer to what I think I am as a musician. I'm working with a drummer where this album is his wheel house, and I'm working with a jazz and bass player who is the best I've ever met in my life, and I'm fortunate enough to be playing with these people. It'll be depressing, angry, grungy and love-y. 

Huge thanks to Curtis for this stellar interview about potatoes, depression, and politics. We'll be adding an edited audio version of this interview when we aren't so stupid with editing audio (aka me, I'm dumb) but until then check out Laughing In Line, check out Curtis who is always playing - he's got a show this Friday, August 15th at Goldilocks w/ Branden Can't Dance and Teenage Halloween - and as always check out his social media below for more!

Curtis Cooper: Facebook // Bandcamp // Soundcloud

Artist Interview - Sonnder

Photography: Alexandra Elisabetta

Photography: Alexandra Elisabetta

The Hook had an awesome opportunity to interview Sonnder - a band we love, you should love, and has been on our site as one of our Featured Locals! Their newest album Entanglement came out this year, and it's really the bee's knees, but we were just stoked to find out some more about this truly unique group of people.

Check out the interview below!

1. Obviously, and I’m sure you get asked this a lot; the name Sonnder is a really interesting title. I’m curious, though, what drew you to the definitive of “Sonder,” and do you believe that to be true in your music making?

It’s a feeling that none of us had a word for and we appreciated and connected to the definition of sonder. You’ll never truly be able to comprehend the depth of intellect of everyone around you thus the possibilities are infinite. It’s a staple commandment within the band because we view our songwriting and our music direction as limitless, in the sense that every time we go to write something we want to push ourselves in a new direction and there’s no way to predict where it’s going to go. 

2. What brought everyone together and how has the original reason for being changed or grown as you’ve cultivated Sonnder?

We all connected, and still connect, with the messages of the songs. Everyone could see where their lives fit within the meaning of the original demos. It’s something that continues to grow as we are influenced by each other’s joys and hardships. 

3. Now that Entanglement is out, especially after your year of hard work doing the Monthly Singles Project, what can you say about the finished product – did it turn out better than expected, different?

We are all very proud of the album. We put a lot of ourselves into it and it led us places we did not necessarily see ourselves beforehand. Going into the recording process, the album was already very cognitive and thought out, so not much changed over the course of the project concerning our plans. 

4. If you could play a show anywhere and with anyone (srsly anyone) where and who?

Mike: Wembley or Red Rocks with Prince or Michael Jackson
Ryan: The Fillmore in San Francisco with Radiohead or Wembley with The Cure - also, to have Days Away reunite.
Steve: The beach with The Beach Boys feat. John Stamos (or Chain Reaction with The Fall of Troy)
Kat: Wembley with Paramore or Radiohead

5. What is the best food to eat on a Saturday night?

Mike: beer
Ryan: Jule’s Pizza from Doylestown or mango chicken indian food
Steve: a burrito
Kat: sushi or every type of cheese

6. How do you feel 2016 has been going for you?

An unimaginable series of events. A lot of deep emotional lows transfixed by an abundance of positive opportunities. We’re so stoked about moving forward and seeing how our artistry develops and continues to provide opportunities musically and personally. 

7. What excites you about the upcoming summer music-wise? Personally?

We are all super excited about playing the next Redbull Sound Select show at Underground Arts with mewithoutYou on June 16, and then hitting the road.
Ryan: experiencing different emotions in life to turn into songs, and jammin' to the new saosin album.
Mike: spending some time in the sun with the people I love.
Steve: shows, bro.
Kat: going home to visit family, moving into a new house, WARM WEATHER

8. What kind of personal advice life would you give to people, right now in this moment, if you could?

Mike: spend your time on the things that matter
Steve: make sure you love everything you do
Kat: focus on your own happiness before worrying about other people
Ryan: be mindful of how people’s words line up with their actions. Sharks4lyfe.
Us: buy the new Sonnder record (true, do it.)

9. How long have all the members of Sonnder been playing music? Has it always been a goal to be in a band?

Ryan: I’ve been playing music since I was in 4th grade. Yes, I always wanted to be in a band, I was always starting bands. I started my own boy band called The Crimpson Boys when I was in 5th grade. 
Mike: I’ve been playing music my entire life. No, I didn’t want to be in a band until later in life.
Steve: I’ve been playing drums my entire life and now I’m a bass man. I always wanted to be in a band. 
Kat: I started playing piano in 3rd grade, violin in 4th grade, and bass in 9th grade. I didn’t want to be in a band till high school.

10. What can you say has been your biggest accomplishment with Sonnder, and how do you plan on moving forward from that?

Releasing the album. It’s allowing the music to speak for itself and helping us move forward. We believe honesty in art making and human interaction is paramount. 


Thanks to Sonnder for being rad as heck and for letting The Hook invade their lives for the month of May! You've got a follower & listener in us! 

Check out Sonnder's social media below for updates and news!

Sonnder: Website // Instagram // Soundcloud // Twitter

Artist Interview - Weatherhead

Photography: Rosie Becker

Photography: Rosie Becker

This week, The Hook had the opportunity to meet and talk with local Philadelphia band, Weatherhead. As covered previously, the guys have had an awesome start to 2016 - being one of The Hook's Local Bands to follow, as well as a stellar new EP, Cleaner Blood

Check out what Weatherhead's Evan King had to say to The Hook Journal about the artistic process, playing shows, and favorite animals below!

How does it feel to have Cleaner Blood finally out there?
Oh my gosh, it's such a relief. We worked on it for such a long time, the songs have gone through a crazy amount of changes, it's nice to finally just be done and satisfied with what we have. And I really am satisfied with it. It's for sure my favorite record I've written so far.

What are you most excited about moving forward?
We really just want to get out there and start playing more shows, seeing new places, and making new friends and fans. We don't really have any plans other than playing shows right now. 

What would you say your process is for creating music?
Pretty much it starts with me writing a very basic framework for a song. Just the chords, a simple melody, some rough lyrics. And then I'll show the other guys and kinda just be like "Make it not suck" and they do exactly that. Then we record demos for everything in my studio, and send it over to Bruce Wiegner's studio. On this record we co-wrote a little bit with Will from Reward and with Bruce Wiegner, both of whom are fantastic songwriters. 

What other bands do you draw inspiration from?
Oh god, I'll try to speak on behalf of the whole band. It's kind of all over the place. For me personally, I really like The Cure, Vince Staples, All Get Out, The 1975... I'm on a huge Yeezy kick right now, but it feels like I'm always on a Yeezy kick. We're all big fans of Foxing, The Chariot, PMtoday, Sufjan Stevens. Oh, and the Reading Rainbow soundtrack cause that shit's tight. 

What about Philly inspires you?
Rocky IV

How do you feel the local scene is in Philly?
It's super weird! But really it's awesome. Just a couple of days ago we played a packed warehouse show that got a bunch of people to register to vote and raise support for Bernie Sanders. #FeelTheBern

What goals do you have for yourself as an artist?
Oh boy that's loaded. Um, I guess I just really want as many people as possible to be able to hear my songs and to know that people are relating to them. 

What's your favorite aspect about being in Weatherhead?
We get paid tons of money. 

... Alright, but really I love writing songs with my friends. I'm in a band with some of my closest friends and we all share the same passion for it. It's really great. One of the only people from high school that I kept in touch with is also in a band with me, which is pretty sick. 
If not that, what I love the most is when people tell me that the songs mean something to them personally. Some of my friends, musical peers, and even strangers have told me that they connect to something I've written, and that blows my mind. Just the other day, Tristan from the band Amora texted me explaining that he and his friend were both going through some shit and that the songs on Cleaner Blood were helping get them through it. It's really wild. 

How'd you guys come up with the name?
It's loosely inspired by the song "Conversation 16" by The National, another band I really love. The one line, "try not to wonder what the weather will be", stuck with me a lot, and when we were thinking of band names I came up with that.

If you could be any animal, what would you be?
Definitely an Alaskan Brown Bear. I don't even need to think it over. Honestly I think about this question every day, and I always know the answer. 

We want to thank Evan and all of Weatherhead for their music and awesome answers to these interview questions! We'll be checking back in about Weatherhead (and others) about their Bernie Sanders support show later this week, so stayed tuned for that!

As always, support these guys and check out their links below!

Weatherhead: Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // Tumblr // Bandcamp // Merch