School Night! ft. Ray Little, Haerts, Strangers You Know, Ethan Gruska

Chris Douridas + Matt Goldman (MFG) Present

School Night! ft. Ray Little, Haerts, Strangers You Know, Ethan Gruska

Haerts, Strangers You Know, Ethan Gruska, Maikol, Best Ghost

Mon · June 26, 2017

8:00 pm


This event is 21 and over

Ray Little
Ray Little
Having been raised in a home with a musical father, it’s no surprise Ray Little would find her life ever drawn, inspired and moved by the sound of music.
Sneaking into live shows as a teenager, she found any way she could to be close to music.  She left her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2008, headed to Los Angeles and hit the ground running.
At every turn, Little’s passion would drive her. Singing, writing, playing, anywhere she could, establishing her first collaborative effort in 2010 landing front and center with a rock band that would take her on a five year journey and further contribute to the discovery of Little’s true musical identity and her passion for performing – and it was contagious.
Little and the band quickly formed a following of fans, industry insiders, and invitations to play alongside some of LA’s most prestigious bands, whose live shows earned them the honor of being one of the city’s best live shows.

Today, Little has transformed her passion and sound into serious business. Working with established musicians, producers, and friends.  She enters the next leg of her musical journey, exploring new songwriting territory, melodic structures and a dominating vocal presence, all while still retaining the uncompromising style and strength that got her here.
Strangers You Know
Strangers You Know
Music evolves. It’s constantly changing shape and turning into something new and better. With Strangers You Know, there’s a continuous evolution of sound. With their new EP due out in early 2016, you can hear that music evolving. The sound is in motion and the band invites you to move with it.

But first, let’s go back a few years.

We all start out as strangers before we meet and that’s exactly how the band formed. Grady Lee snuck into Coachella - Kids, we do not condone this sort of behavior even if it gets you into a sold out music festival where you meet your future bandmate and embark on a musical journey that brings you two EPs and a full-length recording that showcases your ability to meld together sounds that surpass genres. Anyway, Adam Haagen was at said music festival with some friends who just happened to be pretty girls and Grady wandered over. If it weren’t for the stealth behavior on Grady’s part and the pretty girls, he and Adam may never have met. They went their separate ways after this chance encounter at one of the nation’s biggest music fests only to find themselves at the right time and the right place four months later. This allowed Grady and Adam to go from strangers to musical brothers in arms.

They formed a connection over synths, beats, guitars, lyrics and melody leading to their first EP, Something to Someone. Released in 2014, the title is a remark on sentimentality and a snapshot of where they were as artists at the time. Everything means something to someone and when these songs where recorded they represented feelingsand emotions that were present at that moment.

“Right now, we’re just synthesizing our favorite things,” says Adam referring to the evolution of Strangers You Know’s sound. What followed Something to Someone was 2015’s What Happened. Listening to this full-length album, you get a sense of where the music is going and how layered it is. What Happened is theatrical. There’s never a dull moment in the sound. Everything comes together with no gaps. It’s rich and eclectic. It’s a collaboration of two musical minds one from Santa Barbara (Grady) and the other from West LA (Adam). But the music isn’t about California; it’s about amalgamating their influences that range from folk to rock to pop to electronica. Strangers You Know’s sound represents everything that they’re feeling in the moment.

With their new EP, Grady and Adam continue to evolve. With every release, a new sound emerges. It’s a new version of the band – with the same members of course - that follows the trajectory of their music. In the studio Adam and Grady work in tandem. Sure there are disputesabout where a certain melody may go or if a lyric is right for a particular song but in the end, everything comes together perfectly.

In an industry where image is key and rehashing the same sounds over and over again is the only way get ahead, Strangers You Know take a different approach. “It’s not this giant group of pop ideology of other people telling us what we need to be,” Grady says of their dynamic. Strangers You Know do everything themselves from the songwriting to the recording. It’s their music and no matter how much it grows and shifts it will always belong to them. But more importantly, it belongs to the listener.

With Strangers You Know the one constant you can count on is that their music will endlessly evolve into something for not just someone but for everyone.
Ethan Gruska
Ethan Gruska
At once minimalist and expansive, Ethan Gruska’s solo debut, the luminous Slowmotionary, embraces a range of sounds and styles, with influences from jazz and folk to ambient and alternative, Slowmotionary integrates everything into a whole that is original, idiosyncratic, and embraces its own imperfections. “I really tried to let that humanity in and to not only leave these quirky blemishes in, but to highlight them,” says Gruska. “I didn’t want perfect. I wanted true. I wanted honest.” He made room for a little serendipity in his creative process, sensing that too calculated an approach would diminish the impact of the music. That spontaneity provided a wonderful counterpoint to his thoughtful and revealing lyrics.

“What I hope is that people can sense the vulnerability in the writing,” says Gruska. “I hope that they can sense it’s someone telling the truth.” The deeply personal songs on Slowmotionary chronicle a period of transition in his life: The Belle Brigade, which he had started in 2008 with his sister Barbara Gruska, went on hiatus. He got engaged and moved in with his fiancé, leaving the neighborhood where he had lived for years. One chapter was closing, another opening, and the in-between-ness of the experience motivated him to write songs with no real expectations in mind—writing for writing’s sake—with no sense that he was working on an album or anything beyond the song itself.

Before he even knew he was making a solo album, Gruska had a handful of songs in his notebook—what he calls “vignettes”—vivid, wistful sets of melodies and lyrics, visually evocative and emotionally acute, inspired by short stories and short film. And poetry. Gruska avidly devours verse, which informs his songwriting. Each of these songs could live on the page without losing life or meaning. “The poet who has always had my heart is Pablo Neruda. I love Wordsworth and a lot of the Romantic poets, but Neruda was the first one who really killed me and I’ve never been able to move on from him.” Using these writers as guides and muses freed him up from the lyrical constraints he felt previously. “You have this freedom to be surreal and opaque and playful. The narrative doesn’t have to be clear all the time, so you are free to attach your own meanings to the words.”

Only gradually did the songs cohere in his mind into a statement, and with it came certain ideas of what he could express about himself, what he should leave unstated, and what the listener might interpret in the music. “I wasn’t worrying about whether every song had a chorus or a bridge or a hook. I threw all of that out the window for this, and it felt really liberating.” He let the songs themselves dictate their shapes and sounds, their repetitions and arrangements. Some needed to be short, needing less than two minutes to conjure their worlds in vivid details. Others depended on the echoing repetition of lines to conjure the inner workings of his mind. “Where is it you want to be?” he asks, over and over, on the hypnotic “Rather Be,” with its swirl of icy synths and delicate guitar picking. The song culminates in an epiphany about his own emotional dislocation: “We’re never where we want to be, we’re never where we want to be.”

Showcasing Gruska’s hushed vocals and subtle arrangements, these songs resonate with the intimacy of an internal monologue, as though we’re sharing in his darkest worries. On “Reoccurring Dream,” he reaches into his upper register to express romantic hesitations. “Reading your mind is never going to yield and answer,” he sings, as the song gently erupts into a flourish of strings and bass harmonica, like a fleeting memory of Pet Sounds. “Most of the time it’s just uneducated guessing that just leads to depression.” Similarly, opener “The Valley” turns mundane experiences into harrowing emotional ordeals: driving through Los Angeles, letting his mind wander at each stoplight, daydreaming about an ex-girlfriend, pondering his parents’ divorce and his own upcoming nuptials. “It’s family that defines me,” he sings wistfully, over a quiet cascade of piano chords. “I can’t help if they remind me of the fear that can be blinding: that history repeats itself in me.” It’s a quietly devastating moment, all the more powerful for being as uncertain as life itself.

These songs took their time from written verse to skeletal demos to finished album. With several friends and family members—including his sister Barbara, with whom he had played in the Belle Brigade—encouraging him to tackle them in the studio, Gruska called up Tony Berg and asked if he might advise. “Tony is a godfather to so many musicians, because he’s been very open to giving advice and helping people out without there being a caveat,” says Gruska. “I was pretty confused about what I was going to do and he really helped sort things out. I played him eight songs, many of which were very short iterations at that stage, and he said to me, ‘I’ll do this with you. Let’s not worry about the cost or the time.’”

Both Gruska and Berg emphasized unorthodoxy in these recordings. The basic tracking of Gruska’s performances was done live in the studio, as if he were performing for the listener. They worked in bursts and starts, a few days at a time with long breaks in between, a scattered schedule that allowed them to get some distance on the songs and hear them with fresh ears. “It gave us a lot of time to live with it.” Gruska played most of the instruments while never losing focus on the lyrics and what he wanted to communicate. A few friends and family added subtle flourishes. Gabe Noel played cello and bass; Blake Mills guitar; Rob Moose added gentle string arrangements; Barbara Gruska played drums on a few tracks.

“The goal was to have it be like a sound collage that I had made. It was really exploratory, with a lot of sampling and reversing—techniques I had tried in the past but had never gotten to fully explore.” The results are beautifully minimalist: songs as whispered confidences, with what Gruska calls an “arctic” sound, windswept and cold, befitting lyrics that depict moments frozen in time. “I didn’t want to hide behind anything. That’s why it’s produced and arranged the way it is. It’s very barren at certain moments. These songs slow down time for me, which is why I called it Slowmotionary. I needed to put myself out there musically and lyrically.”

And that meant not making it perfect. It meant making these songs sound like the results from something other than a studio. It meant conveying the sense of music that is being written at the same moment you hear it. “A lot of the record is mysterious, even to me. It’s not something you always tap your foot to. You’re listening to my thought process.”
Best Ghost
Best Ghost
Venue Information:
428 S Hewitt Street
Los Angeles, CA, 90013