The Bombshells Showstopping NYC Debut

By Rhiannon Levengood
Photo by Steve Friedman

With long finger curls, charming smiles, and harmonious voices sure to sprout goosebumps on even the hardest men, the Beverly Bombshells are taking the internet by storm with their vintage renditions of today’s pop hits. The sophisticated lady trio, complete with a jazzy accompaniment band, are based in Los Angeles, where they all found a forever home while pursuing their musical careers.

The Bombshells, comprised of Heather Lundstedt O’Neill, Leah Sprecher, and Tiffany Dissette, have recently brought their craft to the streets of Manhattan for their debut East Coast show on August 7, 2017. In the middle of the packed Birdland Jazz Club, the Beverly Bombshells serenaded a sold out crowd with their humorous stories of heartbreak, unrequited love, and blossoming relationships. They captured the hearts of the attendees, made them laugh, and did it with a finesse that left their audience begging for more. It was truly a show you had to experience in person

Luckily, we had the chance to speak with the Bombshells following their NYC performance, so check out our conversation below! Don’t forget to subscribe to them on YouTube!

Please introduce yourselves, include where you’re from originally, and whether you prefer waffles or pancakes:

H: Heather Lundstedt O’Neill; Libertyville, IL; WAFFLES WITH WHIPPED CREAM AND STRAWBERRIES

L: Leah Sprecher; I was born in Long Beach, CA and grew up in Big Bear, CA.  I prefer pancakes (with chocolate chips).

T: Tiffany Dissette; born in Georgia and raised in Indiana.  Chocolate chip pancakes with peanut butter on top.  (Yes, I still put syrup on them because apparently I don’t care about my sugar intake)

How did you all find yourselves in the original group, the Beverly Belles?

H: I was brought into the group through a friend who knew Tiffany.  He knew they needed a soprano and gave them my name.

L: I met the owner of the Belles, Julia Tobey, a few years ago when she worked for my company, Transcendence Theatre Company. Later, in 2015, I was looking to pick up extra work during the holidays so I contacted her.  It just so happened that they were in need of a soprano!

T:  I was hired as the Soprano 2 of the inaugural trio of the Beverly Belles back in 2014, and helped build it into the company it is today.  

What inspired you to create the Beverly Bombshells?

H: I had always had the concept in the back of my head, but didn’t know how to find the right girls to do it with.

L: I have always loved the music of the 30’s and 40’s and had often thought about taking contemporary music and arranging it in a vintage style.  When I started working with Tiffany and Heather, the ease with which we worked together seemed like a perfect opportunity to create something new.

T: I absolutely love singing the music from the 1930s/40s.  When Heather, Leah and I met through the Belles, we just clicked.  It was such a great chemistry between the three of us and we really liked each other on a personal level too.  We became friends and then started talking about the concept of re-arranging top 40 songs into this style.   The rest is history.

Have you ever dabbled in creating your own original content, whether as a group or individually? Would it be something you would want to work toward eventually?

H: As a group it’s something we definitely want to do. I am no songwriter individually, though.

L: I have been creating my own original content for years, whether it be sketch comedy, music videos, or even my own one woman show.  But I have always preferred collaborating with a group.  Frankly, it’s more fun!

T:  I’ve tried my hand at songwriting, but honestly, I never found joy in it.  I prefer being given material and then interpreting it as my own and bringing it to life.  We’ll have some original content for the Bombshells soon 🙂

Can any of you play any instruments? How long have you been playing, if you do? Would you ever want to incorporate that into your shows?

H: I play the piano (lessons for 13 years) and flute (lessons for 8 years). I’m open to incorporating it, for sure… although my chops are pretty rusty at this point.

L: I studied piano for about 12 years when I was younger. I also dabble a little bit in guitar and ukulele.  It would be a blast to incorporate some sort of instrument playing into the shows!

T: I play a little bit of piano (not as well as HLO and LS), and I have a ukulele, but it’s covered in dust.  #oops

How did you find music as an outlet for your creative muse?

H: I’ve always been singing and making music in some way. There’s a video of me as a 2 year old serenading my birthday party for like 20 minutes straight.  

L: Music was always what I gravitated towards when I was a kid.  I’ve been making up songs (mostly silly ones) since as long as I can remember.

T: I came out of the womb singing.  My mother is a singer and music has always been a part of my life.  I was in dance classes before I could even walk.  Music has been ingrained in me for as long as I can remember, and as a result, it’s been one of my only constants through my life.  It brings me so much happiness.

When was the moment you realized you wanted to pursue a music career? Can you describe the moment?

H: I spent a year after high school deciding whether or not I wanted to pursue performing in some capacity.  There were about 6 months or so where I wasn’t so sure… but I had a profound musical experience that made it clear that I at least needed to TRY.

L: I did musical theatre in middle school and high school, so majoring in it in college was the next logical step.  I was highly encouraged by my professors to pursue a career in it, so I heeded their advice and moved to NYC immediately following my graduation.

T:  There was a point in high school where it was between being a surgeon or a performer.  Then I dissected a pig in Honors Biology Freshman Year, and I promptly chose the performing route.  I then got my BFA in Musical Theatre and I’m very grateful to say that I’ve mostly made my living as a performer in some capacity after college.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your career so far?

H: Self motivation.  This career forces you to be vulnerable, brave and confident while simultaneously you are being told you’re ugly, fat and untalented.  It’s easy to just want to abandon ship but in order to succeed you have to persevere through all that nonsense and learn how to find your own voice.

L: The most challenging aspect of my career so far is the amount of creative endeavors I have embarked on that have either failed, or outrun their course.

T: I would say the lack of financial stability.  We’ve chosen a career that is mostly contract to contract, never really knowing when your next paycheck will be.  I will say that has been difficult at times, but I would never be happy having a 9 to 5 desk job just for the financial stability.  It keeps me on my toes and I’m still trucking along.

What has been the most rewarding aspect?

H: Telling stories and sharing different world views through song is my favorite thing in the world. I believe that music is powerfully healing and has the capability to change people’s hearts and minds. To be a part of that tradition is abundantly fulfilling.

L: The most rewarding aspect is all the incredible friends I’ve made along the way.

T:  Getting to do what I love the most!  I really am the happiest when I’m performing, especially when I’m performing with my Bombshells.  I’m just so very grateful.

Do you have tips for aspiring artists?

H: Everyone who is successful still practices. Everyone.  If I have a line that is giving me trouble I will literally sing it a million times til it’s in my body. They also all continue to see teachers for the remainder of their careers.  Learn how to listen. Learn the difference between arrogant and confident.

L: My tip for aspiring artists is to not wait until someone gives you permission to create your art.  Just do it, and do it a lot.

T:  Follow your gut.  If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  Listen to your intuition and trust yourself.  It will be hard at times, but you have to do what’s right for YOU.  Make bold choices, and opportunities will open for you.  

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

H: This isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon.

L: Best advice I’ve ever been given is to “do you”.

T: Choose happiness.  

Do you have any plans of releasing a studio album?

H: We’re working on it! Hopefully it will be available sooner rather than later 😉

L: YES DUH.

T: Of course!!!  We’re so excited to share this music with the world!

Where do you see the Bombshells in the next 5 years?

H: Touring all over the world with our fabulous big band and all of our dogs (there will be multiple of course).

L: In 5 years I see the Bombshells selling out concerts worldwide.

T:  Traveling and performing with some of the biggest names in music. It’s gonna be so great. 🙂

H: It challenges the ear and reminds people of an era gone by.

L: My grandma introduced me to it.

T:  It’s unique and challenging.    

H: It’s always a challenge, but we try to pick songs that fit well with the era’s sentiments and melodies.

L: I don’t feel it is.  I feel it’s a sound people don’t realize they crave until they hear it.

T: We’re never going to please everybody, but what we’re doing reaches such a large demographic and that’s pretty awesome.  Most people seem to really enjoy what we’re putting out there!  

H: Confident! Cause we only had 24 hours to learn, memorize and film it! Tiffany: Loyal, Funny, Intelligent. Leah: Hilarious, Thoughtful, Intelligent

L: Confident- cause we had to learn it and perform it in 24 hours and it was really hard and we actually did it!!! Heather: supportive, driven, confident. Tiffany: meticulous, bright-eyed, dorky

T: Probably A Thousand Miles, because it is the most difficult arrangement that David has given us to date.  It had me tripped up for sure!  Heather: passionate, persistent, generous | Leah: witty, kind-hearted, creative

H: Smile – The Nat King Cole version

L: Los Angeles, cuz we all met in Los Angeles and I just think it’s a beautiful song.

T: You Are My Sunshine – my mom used to sing that to me all the time when I was a little girl

H: The joy we all get when we perform together is the best.

L: We like each other a lot in life and that translates to the stage. We just have a lot of fun together.

T:  I love that I can be 100% myself onstage and offstage with these girls.  They make me feel safe and I trust them implicitly.  I’ve never had that kind of experience; we work together, but they’re also two of my best friends.  

H: It’s a tie between The Edison in LA and BIRDLAND!

L: Birdland. Making a NY debut in such a renowned venue with an incredible audience was one for the books.

T:  Birdland.  I had a moment when I was onstage, and I looked out into the audience and I was just overcome with gratitude and happiness.  I distinctly remember thinking that I was in the right place at the right time.  That’s very rare, but I’m feeling it more and more with the Bombshells.  

H: I felt overwhelmed with the turn out in NYC. I couldn’t believe it! And hopefully we will do an MT song soon!

L: Proud. And we’ll do musical theatre when David feels inspired to arrange one.

T: So grateful. And hopefully soon!  Maybe eventually, we’ll have a whole show dedicated to MT!  The sky’s the limit!

H: Hopefully! We definitely want to go on tour, it’s all about timing and finding the right cities and venues!

L: We have huge plans to travel more and potentially perform in large venues. But we will also always perform in intimate settings as well.

T:  Yes!  If it’s the right fit, we’d love to keep expanding and traveling to new places.  

H: London!

L: I’d love to do a European tour.

T:  Yea, probably Europe.  

H: Oh mannnnnnnn. shop, eat, drink, lay out, go to amusement parks… we spend a lot of time together

L: We go to theme parks together and have a grand old time.

T: DISNEYLAND.  But also, just watching the Bachelorette.  Honestly, we have fun doing absolutely nothing.  We’re just a bunch of dummies.  

H: LEAH HAHAHA, but we all have brain farts.

L: I’m most likely to forget lyrics.

T:  Leah.  😉  But there are some times that I get so caught up in the song that I just forget to sing.  My most embarrassing moment on stage was in college.  I was running forward barefoot for curtain call, and I tripped and broke my foot!  I had to do the rest of the run on crutches.  I still have a bone chip just chilling in the ball of my foot.  

H: Not yet! We love meeting everyone from twitter and the internet!

L: Our fans have been nothing but incredible.

T:  Our fans are amazing and so generous.  They make the best cookies!  🙂

Check out the links below to stay up to date with the Bombshells.

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VISTA Transcends with Sophomore EP ‘Long Live’

By Paula Araujo

Last month, up and coming rockers, VISTA released their sophomore EP Long Live. Fronted by Hope Vista alongside with Greg Almeida the two have created a refreshing and thrilling record that is far from any sophomore slump. The music dives in deep lyrically and the production is transcendent giving the listener a real vivid experience. If the title track of the record is any indication, VISTA is taking the idea of Long Live to heart and without a doubt making sure they’re heard. They’ve got a headlining tour starting later this week, that is not to be missed. The passion that is active in their music, amplifies when you see them live.

For tour dates, check out their website. For now, read on to find out more about the duo, how the EP came about, what they’re listening to these days and more!

Hello! Please introduce yourself and your role in the band.
Greg: Hi! I’m Greg, some call me Groogles. I play guitar, sing, and kind of put together a lot of the instruments and sounds for VISTA.
Hope: Hi! I’m Hope. Lead vocals. I also do the band’s press, booking, a lot of branding work, and write all the music with Greg!

How would you describe yourself and your music?
Greg: Straight up bipolar. I can write the most bubblegum pop tune, or the craziest darkest shit.
Hope: Yeah, his writing range is pretty extreme and very impressive. I’m naturally a pretty dark and weird writer, that’s what flows out naturally. But oddly enough I’m SUPER into late 90’s bubblegum pop culture and the boy bands from that era. Opposites attract, I guess!

How did you meet?
Greg: Me and Hope met via Facebook, then met up and jammed.
Hope: Super anti-climactic.

What was your favorite aspect of creating this EP “Long Live”?
Greg: I think it when it was done, being able to listen to it all. The back half of it was great.
Hope: Listening to it made me emotional, honestly. There was so much frustration when we made this and I came out of it tense and mentally drained, so getting to listen to it all from start to finish was the most relieving feeling everrrr.

How did you decide on the title for the EP?
Greg: To be honest, Hope just suggested the idea for it and I was like ‘That sounds great. Let’s do that.’
Hope: “Long Live” is just what popped into my head when I thought about what VISTA had experienced thus far and where we were headed. The EP title came first, before anything was even written or recorded. I had this original idea for a concept album called “Decay” first, we explored some topics for it and just scratched it all, it wasn’t working. And then I thought like, ‘what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of where VISTA currently stands.’ The words ‘long live’ just flashed in front of me and I was like…. Oh. This could be really cool if we create a whole concept based on these words and have some super strong branding.

Was this idea/theme of forming an allegiance and finding an ‘oasis’ among a dystopian society something that came together naturally?
Greg: Kind of. We really wanted to resonate with those who have felt pretty upset about today’s weird world that we live in. So we wanted to do it through music.
Hope: Yeah and like, that concept kinda just fell in line with the EP title. Greg and I have both felt affected by the current state of the world and society in general, so we made a conscious decision to write about it and explore the different sides of a dystopia. Which is really petrifying to think about, but it’s becoming more and more real.

Do you have a favorite song on the EP? Why is it your favorite?
Greg: Either ‘Long Live’ or ‘Hellbent’! Hellbent is just a kick in the teeth and it’s so fun, Long Live is a really good anthemic tune that came together so quickly.
Hope: Mine is definitely “Long Live.” I’m really emotionally attached to that song, it kicks me in the heart in a very powerful way. It ties together the whole record and truly describes what VISTA is and where we are. Long live VISTA, babyyyy.

What have you discovered about yourself throughout the process of creating this new music?
Greg: Sometimes, you just have to let go and wing it. It’s weird, but that’s how things work sometimes, and you can be happy with the results.
Hope: I need to try and not be so hypercritical of myself. I beat myself up in the studio time and time again whenever I’m doing vocals, even if it’s just the first try on something. I want everything to be the best it can be, so if I mess up somewhere on something, I’ll be the first to start beating myself up and criticizing myself. I had to figure out how to tone it down and try to keep my thoughts at bay, which was REALLLY hard!!

What is your favorite song to perform live?
Greg: So far it’s been Henchmen, but let’s see if that changes.
Hope: I always loved performing the original version of Dominance, so I’m stoked to do the new version, but I’m also biased on that one.

What are you most proud of so far in with your career?
Greg: Playing that Irving Plaza show with Against The Current. That was sick.
Hope: 100%.

What is your workflow like? What does a typical day/week look like?
Greg: Just me and Hope texting each other either not at all or rapidly about everything at once.
Hope: Yeah to be honest, Greg and I actually don’t really see each other that much. We’re both so busy individually, so we text a LOT, almost all the time honestly. If I don’t hear from Greg in a few hours I get concerned. Whenever one of us is really excited or really concerned about something, one or the other, it’s typically a phone call!

What has been the most challenging thing so far?
Greg: Just finding each other’s middle ground when writing. Seeing what ideas will work for VISTA, what ideas won’t. That sort of thing.
Hope: Oh yeah. We argued quite a bit when making this EP, we are both very headstrong and commanding, so it took a bit of time to get into a groove and find compromises on everything. There is a lot of compromise on this new record.

What do you want people to take away from your music?
Greg: We want people to feel inspired by the time they’re done with our EP. We want them to feel like there’s a fire inside of their chest.
Hope: I just love when people feel it. Like really, really feel it; whether that be emotionally or physically, like they feel the bass lines pumping through their blood. If we can make you feel, we’re accomplished. Especially with a record like “Long Live.”

What is your advice for other artists out there? What was the best advice you’ve been given?
Greg: Be social, be nice, be courteous, and don’t burn bridges. Just be nice.
Hope: It is so important to be able to identify and define your individual brand, what makes you unique from everyone else. And also wear whatever you want. Don’t put yourself in a box.

When was the moment you knew you wanted to pursue music?
Greg: Probably when I was able to play Bamboozle in 2011 with my other band.
Hope: I knew when I was really, really young. Like age 3, it’s just something I felt in my bones and it’s hard to explain. But I have never passionately wanted to do anything besides makes this a career.

What new music/releases have you been listening to lately?
Greg: I’ve been listening to the new CHON and SZA albums on repeat. I just found out about this sick band called paris_monster today. I’ll probably listen to their stuff.
Hope: I’m addicted to this frickin new Shawn Mendes song right now, I haven’t listened to anything else for like the past 12 hours.

Lastly, Pancakes or waffles?
Greg: Not even a question. Waffles!
Hope: GREG WE AGREE ON SOMETHING, THIS IS PIVOTAL.

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#WomenCrush Showcases Manhattan’s Hidden Talent

By Rhiannon Levengood, Photos By Paula Araujo

As a movement against the male-driven world we live in, Ashley Kervabon has created and launched an organization of women that supports and promotes female artists in the music industry. #WomenCrush–aptly named after the hashtag “WomenCrushWednesday”–gives up and coming musicians a chance to showcase their talents in a comfortable environment.

#WomenCrush originated in Portland, Oregon, where its founder resides, but has gained the attention of local media outlets in major cities across the States including Los Angeles, Nashville, and even New York City. Every month in Portland, Ashley hosts a showcase for a handful of musicians to perform in, and she’s recently started a showcase in New York City as well. The very first east coast showcase was on May 20, 2017 and exhibited three artists alongside Ashley herself.

In a small nook in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Katie Zaccardi was the very first woman to take the stage at Rockwood Music Hall. Accompanied by a solo guitarist and her trusty ukulele, Zaccardi set the vibe with an angelic voice and an acoustic set of her own songs. In the midst, she performed a flawless moody cover of the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

Next to take the stage was Jackie Paladino, whose music is soulful and poppy. Supported by a single guitarist, she performed her original songs with glass of wine in her hand and her soul as vulnerable as her bare feet, giving the illusion of a young and endeavoring Amy Winehouse. Her set mellowed out and won the hearts of the growing crowd.

Kiirstin Marilyn was the third artist in the lineup, and by far the most energetic of the four as she dominated the tiny stage. With a dubstep backing track, lead guitarist, and powerful political message, she bewitched the crowd both on and off the stage.

And finally, #WomenCrush founder Ashley Kervabon herself took the stage, sitting at the baby grand piano with a tattered song book and her heart on the ivory keys. She brought the audience back down with sincere and personal songs, both in English and Spanish, bringing the New York City showcase to a well-rounded close.

The #WomenCrush NYC showcase was enthralling from start to finish. For those interested in becoming part of the movement, there are links down below! The ladies at #WomenCrush are welcoming, empowering, and open to help women get started in the music industry.

 

For more on #WomenCrush check out these links:
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For more on Katie Zaccardi:
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For more on Jackie Paladino:
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For more on Kiirstin Marilyn:
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For more on Ashley Kervabon:
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