iolite

Bands like iolite (spelled all lower case) know how to pay tribute to some of the best genres in the music – the kind of genres that are challenging to put a unique spin on. It seems we’re always hearing something new from the indy music world – sometimes good, sometimes bad. But with styles like Blues and Jazz… it’s truly complex to make your own footprint (especially a good one). But iolite has carved out a distinctive spot to create their jams, and the group (Arianne Benick, Julia Johanan, Dan Barger, Shimon Israeland Marvin Hawkins) couldn’t demonstrate it better than through their latest record, “Be Wise”.

We asked the Ohio-based ensemble to tell us more about the collection: “Fans can expect to hear a style that they can't quite pin down but that they really dig. Its part Latin part jazz and part funk. You can hear a bit of Dan's great horn playing, Shimon's grooving bass lines and Marvin technical skill on the drums.” They continue on just what makes them stand out in the world of blues and jazz, saying “Our sound is a unique and alluring blend of many genres of music that we love including jazz, soul, blues, Latin jazz, and torch or lounge styles. Add in some modern hiphop influenced beats and you can get an idea of our sound.”

iolite will be on the road strong for “Be Wise”, so check them out. Their shows definitely have that funky kind of vibe you’re looking for. There’s a whole lot more to learn, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ’s.

XXQs: iolite – Julia & Arianne

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

Our sound is a unique and alluring blend of many genres of music that we love including jazz, soul, blues, Latin jazz, and torch or lounge styles. Add in some modern hiphop influenced beats and you can get an idea of our sound. We believe that our sound stands out because of the originality of the writing in blending these styles in a way that many fans of these type genres can enjoy.People love the old school vibe presented with modern aspects.

PEV: Calling Cincinnati, Ohio home, what kind of music where the members of the band into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?

We all grew up listening to similar styles of music including Shaka Khan, Isley Brothers, Bob Marley, the Neville Brothers, Chamber Brothers, Madonna, Simon and Garfunkle and many other soul and R&B groups. Annie remembers seeing the Ark Band at Snowtrails Ski Lodge, and I (Julia) remember Smashing Pumpkins as my first major concert. 

PEV: Tell us your take on the music scene is like in your hometown and what was it like trying to break into it?

The music scene here is very into rock and indie rock and supports these styles, It's difficult to get Bar owners and booking managers to open their doors to bands that have a different sound then rock or cover bands, it seems like they'll book what is "safe".

PEV: What can fans expect from a live iolite show?

Our show are very "vibey". We like to create a chill sultry vibe with great musicianship, a certain funky mellowness and Annie likes to share the astrological forecast with the audience so you can expect to get an edutainment!  

PEV: Arianne once said, “I don’t feel like I can pick the songs or the  melodies. I feel they pick me.” How has that thought processed changed your creative process?

Part of the creative process is being open to receive the messages within my emotional, mental and physical daily life. The songs come through lesson learned and processed patterns and cycles. Music is very healing in that way. It helps me work through issues at that time.

PEV: Having all been in other bands before how is playing with Iolite different then those other people you may have played with?

This is the first band that Annie has played in but for Julia it's the third band she's played in. It's different in that I (Julia) have a say in the music, the creation and execution of the music. It's also been nice to handpick the members of the band.

PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?

Inspiration comes from everywhere, people, nature, sounds, geometry, concepts spiritual and otherwise. Processing through our daily lives struggles and joys. Through our love and hate, sharing lessons we've learned this way we can help others. Ideas also come from synchronicities we've encountered in our lives.

PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out do you ever look back at your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?

Yes, we were very persistent and didn't let anything discourage us from the vision that we had. We had some interesting live performances trying to find the right players early on. We struggled for a while to find the right people but now we've arrived at a great line up of members and here we are today!  

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of iolite?

Most of the group is vegetarians and we all interested in alternative healing practices and are open to different kinds of spiritual practice.

PEV: Was there ascertain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a goal for you?

When we wrote our first song together and knew we had something!

PEV: Tell us about your latest release, “Be Wise”. What can fans expect from this?

Fans can expect to hear a style that they can't quite pin down but that they really dig. It’s part Latin part jazz and part funk. You can hear a bit of Dan's great horn playing, Shimon's grooving bass lines and Marvin technical skill on the drums.  

PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?

We did one tour in New York City and it was fun and interesting, a big learning experience! Best parts were hanging out, getting to know each other better, joshing each other, and playing every night getting tight. Worst part was hauling our equipment including a drum set on the subway.

PEV: Founded on the love of Blues and Jazz, what is about those types of music that had the most emotion on you?

Jazz and Blues has an emotional complexity within the lyrics. You can feel and hear the struggle within the stories they tell.  Also the sway of the rhythms, the hypnotic quality of them and the dissonance of the chords that evolve themselves in complex harmonies.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?

They are all very supportive and helpful.

PEV: What can we find each of you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

Annie does yoga, reading, studying subjects that interest her, astrology, reading charts, geometry, sewing, hanging with her awesome friends, cooking and gardening.Julia likes to do most of the same including Tai Chi and meditation.

PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration? Why?

We would all love to work with Sade, because of the resonance and power in her voice and her ability to make mellow music that still drives and moves ya. For the past it would be Simon and Garfunkel. You could learn so much from their ability to write harmonies and melody lines and the story telling abilities expressed in their lyrics.

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

Well iolite of course! Butwe really love a local band called the Harlequins they're also from Cincinnati and have a great sound. Its modern indie rock but has an old school feel to it.

PEV: If you weren’tplaying music now what do you think each of you would be  your career?

Julia would be a recording engineer or quantum physicist or a Tai Chi instructor. Annie would be an occupational therapist, a yoga instructor or a seamstress

PEV: So, what is next for iolite?

Well, we are starting a radio campaign to gather more support and a broader fan base. We will also be going back into the studio soon to record a new album. Also we are working on creating more concept driven show with other artists in our community including visual artists and performance artists.  We'd like to bring something new to the typical "gig".

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