Artist Interview – Hell and Lula

Hell and Lula are an uptempo, high-energy rock band from Los Angeles. When we first listened to Hell and Lula we had their song on repeat and were delighted when they agreed to a feature interview with Song Revelation. Read the full in-depth interview with Mak (the lead singer) below to find out about which modern-day artists he is inspired by, who he would like to collaborate with given the chance and what his career highlights have been.


Hell and Lula


Q: What are you called?

I’ve been called a lot of things by a lot of different people. Some of which I don’t care to repeat. These days, however, my name is Mak and I sing in the band Hell & Lula.


Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?

We wanna make you dance, we wanna make you think, we wanna make you think about dancing.


Q: What is your musical background?

We all come from a rock music background, more or less (from bands as diverse as retro new-wave to hardcore). H&L’s music is very electronic and dancy and often has a very strong pop sensibility, but our live performance undeniably has the energy of a rock show.


Q: How have the last 12 months been for you?

Ups and downs. Always ups and downs, both creatively and business-wise. Indie bands, these days, have to wear a lot of hats and you have to piece together a strong business team as well as a strong creative and personal team. Like it or not, the bands who are succeeding seem to be the ones with good marketing and business senses. Our consumer culture and entertainment industry strongly favor artists that know how to brand themselves, so it’s more important now than ever for bands to think of themselves in those terms if we want to survive.


Q: Who inspires you musically?

That’s changing all the time, of course, but lately, I’ve really been into Bill Withers and Yeasayer. And lots of inspiration comes from new songs discovered at random. I may not remember who the artist is and the musical style could be from a seemingly unrelated genre, but little things that get you thinking about musical patterns in a new way are always good. I know that Devon, who writes the music (I write the vocal melodies), is often inspired by some world band he comes across or mood music that he’s trying to fall asleep to and will chop that up and put it to a dance beat and voila, we have a new song.


Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?

I already mentioned Yeasayer. The Black Keys are killing it, right now. They’re just playing blues, but with a twist of this or that and enough soul to make it feel fresh. Gotta love that. I love anything done well. Mew, TV on the Radio, Francis and the Lights, Cocorosie. I gotta love anybody doing weird and getting away with it, since that’s what we hope to do.


Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?

Yeah, Bruno Mars. That kid writes hits! Actually, I’m pretty happy working with Devon, at the moment. He’s pretty prolific and never fails to hand me something pretty fun and challenging. Touring is a different story. There are dozens of bands I’d love to tour with. I feel there are so many things (big and small) to learn from playing with more established and experienced artists.


Q: What songs are on your iPod at the moment?

Alexander Ebert and Nick Drake have been in heavy rotation, as of late.


Hell and Lula shoot @Joshua Tree. Photography by Daniel James O'Connell


Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?

Devon programs all of the music for a song, usually in Ableton, and sends it over. From there, I usually spend a couple of nights banging out various melodies. It’s fairly straight-forward. Hopefully, inspiration will come quickly and I can have the skeleton done in a few hours. From there, it’s a matter of fine-tuning and finalizing the lyrics. Unfortunately, a lot of the first-round ideas I have end up getting tossed when I listen the following day with fresh ears. I’m pretty obsessive over my work, which can be good when properly harnessed, but it can also dig you too deep until you become lost in the cloud of sounds and lose sight of the song, itself. Ultimately, my goals are to write something that walks the line between eccentricity and accessibility and to write something that sounds like me without sounding like something I’ve done before.


Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?

Each in it’s own turn, but truly: melody. No melody = no song. Words without a melody are a poem. Plenty of meaningful songs happen without words or with meaningless or shallow words. Melody always comes first, with me. I usually won’t finalize the lyrics until I’m forced to track the vocals for real and seal my fate as a lyricist forever.


Q: Where are you based?

The Arts District in downtown Los Angeles.


Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?

My neighborhood is pretty amazing. I really lucked out when I moved to LA. I found a great community that welcomed me with open arms. We have a parking space for our Cool Bus only a block from all the hot spots in the Arts Dist. and the landlord has let me build an urban garden. The lot is fully paved, so I collect scrap wood from a couple of the local wood shops and build planter boxes. A few of the neighborhood people have gotten involved and it feels like the beginnings of a community garden, but without the inflated rent of the city-run gardens you find in SoCal.


Q: What are you currently working on?

We’re finishing up songs for a self-release called Fermi’s Paradox, due out in April 2012, as well as working on material with a producer for a release later this year, potentially through an indie label. We’re also about to launch a Pledge Music campaign (search Hell & Lula Pledge Music) to crowd-source funds to convert our Cool Bus to run on waste vegetable oil from restaurants. It’s better for our health (old bus = bad exhaust), the environment and it allows us to tour more affordably.


Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?

Ha ha. No highlights come to mind. I just love performing. I go deep and sing with my entire body. But speaking of bodies and highlights, we recently played Cheetahs in Silverlake, which is a strip/burlesque club (the girls don’t actually get naked, but they do pole-dance) and for each song, a different dancer would come on stage and dance with me. It was pretty amazing. We have a high-energy show, as it is, and with a professional dancer to play with, it’s next level shit 😉


Q: What are you hoping to achieve in over the next 12 months?

Creatively, we’re hoping to complete a trilogy of music videos based on the “zoo earth” idea that intelligent life has already visited earth, but view us as a primitive species and are leaving us to our own devices while checking in on us periodically to see our progress. The current conception is to do a past, present and future of alien non-intervention visitations. We’ll see where it leads. This is all really goofy shit and it may seem really nerdy (and it clearly is, but nerds are obviously cool), but we just want to have fun and cut our teeth a little on the video front. When you’ve have a tiny budget (or none at all) campy works really well.


Hell and Lula


Q: Do you have any gigs or shows that you’d like to tell us about?

We’ll be at SXSW this year. If you’re in Austin, you can find our shows on our Facebook or on our website at


Q: What do you do to relax?

I try to practice zazen daily, and most of us in the band are beginner-level yogis. A few of us read fairly often, as well, which can be both relaxing and stimulating. I can’t recommend zazen enough, however. It’s both the simplest and most complex thing in the world and has changed my life in a dramatic and fundamental way.


Q: Where would your favourite holiday (vacation) be and why?

I hear New Zealand is heaven on earth. Aside from being phenomenally beautiful and serene, the people seem to be very warm and open and friendly. L.A. is a very high-stress environment. There isn’t much room for quiet or stillness or fresh air. The creative energy here is incredible and people are doing amazingly innovative things all around you and all that’s really inspiring, but I’d like a bit more of a balance between work and rest. I find that even when I’m resting, my mind is still hard at work. Maybe New Zealand is a place where I might find that balance, or maybe I should simply look for it here. But I still wanna go.


Q: If you could give a little piece of advice for new or aspiring musicians what would it be?

Figure out who you are and never lose sight of that. And once you’ve decided what it is you’d like to accomplish, surround yourself exclusively with others who share your ethos and goals. Just as the wrong path will never lead you to where you wanna go, the wrong travel companions will lead you astray, right path or no.


Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?

The deadliest war on the planet since WWII is in Congo, but most people don’t know that it’s happening or why. Visit the site and tell a friend. Join us and be a whistle-blower for peace.


Editor’s Note: Hell and Lula encompass everything that a great rock band should. One of Song Revelation’s bands to watch for 2012 and beyond!


If you’d like to get in touch with Hell and Lula or check out some more of their amazing tracks just follow the links below:







Artist Interview – Zory Burner

Zory Burner is a Singer-Songwriter and composer originally from Bulgaria, but now living and pursuing her music career in London. Zory’s style of music is hauntingly original and we were really happy when she agreed to complete a full feature interview for Song Revelation. Read on to discover how Zory creates her innovative yet commercial tracks, her musical inspirations and which modern day artists she looks up to.


Zory Burner


Q: Who are you called?

Zory Burner. When I moved to London to pursue and develop my music career, I registered in the online community ‘Second Life’, where I used to do some virtual gigs. That’s where my stage name Burner comes from.


Q: If you could classify your music in a genre or a number of genres what would it be?

My general goal as a composer and songwriter is to create completely innovative styles and music which is unlike anything out there… If I had to place it in a category, my music would probably go under experimental rock and world fusion genres. I like to mash up alternative metal elements with Bulgarian or Celtic folk and add symphonic instruments to bring in a soundtracky feel…


Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?

A beautifully dark and haunting hybrid of styles, bringing souls together through the mysteries of sound that make you travel to another world.


Q: What is your musical background?

I studied music theory and played the piano professionally for 10 years (Bulgarian School of Performing Arts), which included a solo or duo classical concert every year. For about 7 of those years I sang at an Orthodox church choir, the last of which I lead the choir. Then I concentrated solely on writing music and lyrics. My further training expanded to taking several courses (composition and orchestration, live music band and vocals) in Moscow and in London, UK. In 2008 I moved to London to pursue my dreams, where I started producing my own tunes, as well as gaining experience in writing film music.


Q: How was 2010 for you?

The year of 2010 proved very productive in my path as a creative artist: in addition to getting a master’s degree, setting up my own self-titled label and releasing my debut album (after having worked with several recording studios and put 3 singles on the online market, as well as leading several UK unsigned charts for weeks), in 2010 I’ve scored 4 short films, composed the theme and soundtrack to an online mini series (3 episodes so far), and wrote and arranged the music to my very first stage musical.


Zory Burner

Zory Burner

Q: Who inspires you musically?

My Bulgarian background has set the basis for me: the harmonious and disharmonious folklore, as well as the Byzantine Orthodox chant music. And, of course, my personal taste in rock music is a part of me every step of the way.

My vocals have been compared to Lisa Gerrard and Norah Jones, my melodies are influenced by Blackmore’s Night and Damien Rice, my arrangements and general feel are influenced by Stained and especially by Linkin Park’s input of hybridity within a musical genre.


Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?

Linkin Park, Staind, Lisa Gerrard, Bjork, Eminem, Green Day, Nightwish, Blackmore’s Night, Blue October, Deftones, The Rasmus, Norah Jones; composers like Hans Zimmer, Alexandre Desplat, etc.


Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?

Eminem! Surprised? I’ve been interested in such a possibility ever since his duet with Dido came out… Of course I would absolutely love to get to work with Linkin Park one day – I’ve been a true fan, especially from a musician’s perspective, from the start. I am also quite curious what it would be like to be at the studio with Bjork!


Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?

I little bit of everything. I recently started going over the music of some of the American Idols – Carrie Underwood, David Cook, Adam Lambert… I love discovering new music, I tend to pick songs I hear on various TV shows or movies…


Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?

I usually just sit at my piano, play something randomly and a tune comes out, with accidental words or even just syllables or a hint of a story… Sometimes I like challenging myself with how great of a melody I can come up with on the spot while having my fingers play something completely random on my keyboard… Sometimes I wake up in the morning with a new tune on my mind or on a train while looking out the window and musing… It’s a bit less common for me, but it happens to start with a message I’d like to put into a song and bring it to life with an appropriate melody. And then comes my favorite part of that stage of the process – the arrangement. Y’all know how the rest goes 😉


Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?

They’re equally important. Even though it would depend on the purpose of the song. The melody tends to be the first thing that captures your attention, so a good melody is what pulls you into the song in the first place; while the lyrics might draw a stronger appreciation later on, if they happen to be meaningful to you personally, after you’ve been initially intrigued, quite possibly even by the arrangement of the track…


Q: Where are you based?

London, UK.


Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?

I am originally from Bulgaria. The beauty, the intricacy and sheer perfection of the Bulgarian folklore is a very strong foundation for any musician-to-be. Unfortunately the opportunities for realization and development, especially for an artist like myself, are especially limited. London is my second home now and it currently holds my professional hopes and dreams, so the specificity and richness of my background can indeed be fruitful.


Zory Burner

Zory Burner

Q: What are you currently working on?

At the moment I am working on several projects, the biggest of which is a Christian musical. I wrote 22 tracks for it in 2010 and now I’m working towards putting it on stage.

Here’s where you can find out some more about it:


Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?

The release of my debut album in the middle of 2010. It came together with the launch of my personal website –

What felt especially amazing to me was a message I received a few days later from an acquaintance of mine, saying how impressed she was by the fact that exactly a year before my album’s release date, I’d said to her that I intend to write, arrange, perform, record and ultimately release my first 12-original-song professional CD, which would be a great step for me in my career as a recording artist, and exactly a year later that’s what I did… Set a goal and made it happen!


Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?

I’ve been writing plenty of new songs recently, as well as instrumental pieces for various record projects. I am working towards putting together the right material, so I can start off the studio recording process. I’m planning on releasing my second album in 2012.


Q: What do you do to relax?

I am blessed to have my professional life match my hobbies and interests. When I’m not working on a project, I enjoy just playing; I recently started learning to play the electric bass, as I’ve always had a great passion for the sound of the bass. Apart from music, I enjoy doing a bit of video editing and graphic design, though I’ve started developing those skills to a more professional level. When I’m not working on any of those as a job, I would play around for fun; I love creating and sharing my creations or dedicating them to people I care about. As far as outdoors activities go, nature walks are my thing and taking pictures (and then editing them in photoshop). When it comes to non-creative ways of chilling out – I’d watch movies or TV shows, or even play some computer games – what can I tell you, I’m a geek 😉


Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?

Here’s a link to my showreel as a film music composer, which I designed and put together in late 2010.


Zory Burner



Editor’s Note: Zory Burner creates a unique blend of sounds and harmony that supports incredibly strong melodies to give a haunting, profound and extremely pleasing sound. At Song Revelation we’re really looking forward to listening to more of Zory’s work in the near future!


If you’d like to learn more about or contact Zory Burner, just follow the links below:

web page link:

facebook link:

Youtube embeds:

twitter link:

myspace link: http://myspace/zorybg

cd baby:

soundcloud link:

reverbnation link:


Great Music for the Road

All you technically need for your next road trip this summer is, of course, a vehicle and a full gas tank. But there are inarguably a few things that you must be prepared with in order to set forth on your next road trip. No cruising would be complete without some supremely unhealthy snacks, a trusty pair of shades, and a road trip play list. Can you imagine driving without a selection of tunes, with only silence or your friend’s snoring surrounding you? It just wouldn’t be the same!

The perfect road trip play list should be sing-along worthy, help to pass the time quickly, keep you alert without the use of Red Bull, and encompass the free and exciting feeling of being out on the open road. Because no road trip would be complete without it, here is a list of ten great albums for the road.





Guy Forsyth


(1) Guy Forsyth, Steak, Texas Music Group, 2000

Austin-based artist Forsyth has been praised as one of the most intriguing figures in the blues world today. His album of “rockin’ American blues” includes songs such as “Cadillac,” which explores the idea that no woman can resist a big, shiny car.








(2) Outkast, Stankonia, La Face, 2000

There is a reason that Outkast is one of the most successful hip hop groups of all time, and that this album, their fourth, is the one that really rocketed them to commercial success. By the time you get to “B.O.B,” the eleventh and best track, you won’t be able to sit still in your seat and you’ll probably spill your Big Gulp in your lap.







(3) AC/DC, Highway to Hell, Epic Records, re-released in 2003 (original release date 1979)

Tracks like “Girls Got Rhythm” and “Shot Down in Flames” are ones you’ll know even if you’ve never listened to an AC/DC album before. Just don’t get a frog in your throat as you try to imitate Bon Scott’s unique screamy tenor voice.






The Eagles


(4) The Eagles, Eagles, Elektra/Wea, 1972

A little bit country, a little bit American rock, and a little bit bluegrass, The Eagles’ classic debut album is chock-full of peaceful, easy feeling songs that will take your mind off of the fact that there is not another rest stop for 64 miles.






Daft Punk

(5) Daft Punk, Human After All, Virgin Records US, 2005

This French duo’s raucous electronic tracks are seriously infectious. To really pass the time in the car, listen to the ninth song “Technologic” and count the number of times it uses the word “it.” (Okay, I’ll tell you: It’s 350 times.)






John Legend

(6) John Legend, Get Lifted, Sony, 2004

John Legend’s Get Lifted is distinctly more upbeat than his follow-up album Once Again. It has just the right combination of Legend’s smooth-like-butter voice and catchy beats. Plus, it features tracks with Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, The Stephens Family, and Miri Ben-Ari. Win.





David Bowie

(7) David Bowie, Best Of Bowie, Virgin Records US, 2002

How cool is Bowie? He’s so cool that in 1975, he was asked to perform on Soul Train. Yes, he’s that cool. This 2-CD set covers all of his best over four decades, from “China Girl” to “I’m Afraid of Americans.”






Alanis Morissette


(8) Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill, Maverick, 1995

Anyone who claims to not enjoy loudly belting out the lyrics to “You Oughta Know,” “Hand In My Pocket” and “All I Really Want” is a liar. Plain and simple. Yeah, I said it.







(9) Beck, Odelay, Geffen, 1996

Beck is undoubtedly one of the most creative musical artists of the 1990s. This album is an interesting and perhaps even slightly absurd mix of electronic bleeps, soulful blues, garage-style kitsch, punk guitar riffs, and smooth melodies. In short, it’s got a little something for everyone.






DJ Tiesto

(10) DJ Tiësto, Summerbreeze, Nettwerk Records, 2000

Something about this remarkably accomplished DJ’s continuous in-the-mix album just pairs up beautifully with the highway and open windows. It’s less “bleep bloopy” than many other trance albums, and has a smooth sound that you can’t really help but bob your head to.


Do the Numbers Add Up for Musical Groups?

The White Stripes

The news that The White Stripes have officially split up will have caused great consternation throughout the world of indie music. In saying that, the Detroit duo belong as much to the world of blues, country, folk and hard rock as indie such was their versatility and talent. The fact that two people, with one of them being described as a fairly limited drummer, could make such a varied sound on stage and on record indicated what a talented duo they were. It is sad that The White Stripes will no longer be around but music fans will no doubt be treated to a lot of new songs by Jack White in a various number of bands.




When it comes to bands and what is deemed as proper music, it may be difficult to think of too many duos that have lit up the world of music. The Carpenters would be an obvious candidate and comparisons would be made with the fact that both duos features girl drummers. Some may go further to suggest that both groups featured brother and sister acts. This is certainly true for the Carpenters but the story about Jack and Meg White being siblings was a rather tall tale created by Jack.


The Black Keys are Another Great Duo


In more recent times but remaining in the blues rock vein that the White Stripes specialised in, The Black Keys are a standout band. The duo has picked up a large fan base in recent years and a lot of this is down to their scintillating live shows. Even though there are only two people on stage for the Black Keys, their mix of drums, guitar and keyboards makes more than enough volume and melody to keep everyone satisfied with the raucous entertainment.


In a similar style, UK indie kids have had the Ting Tings emerge as a duo that can fill venues and raise the roof with a spirited showing. The duo owe a lot of their success due to their smash-hit ‘Thats Not My Name’ but with two albums behind them, they have more than enough material to play a headlining set. The same can be said for another UK indie duo, Blood Red Shoes, who also tend towards the side of blues tinged indie rock. It is interesting to note that both of the UK acts provide a mix of gender but unlike The White Stripes or The Carpenters, the drummer is male whilst the up-front guitarist and vocalist is a female.




Some of the Best 80’s Electronic Acts were Duos

Musical duos in music are nothing new but there is definitely something that stands out when they perform. Whether it is early 80’s electronic acts like Yazzoo or Soft Cell or more modern acts like The White Stripes or the Black Keys, there is enough evidence to show that two people can make the music that millions of people all around the world enjoy. Music fans will definitely be upset about the absence of The White Stripes from the music scene but there will hopefully be new duos to enjoy and see in concert.


The Black Keys


Videos: Three Great Covers by Anna Calvi

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Anna Calvi is one of the most promising female performers to appear in the last six months — and her rise has been almost meteoric. London born- and -raised Calvi got her start playing music early, beginning with the violin, later switching to guitar. As a solo artist more or less from the start, she played around her home city for a few years, but never really fit into any prescribed scene. She was, after all, a singular female with an unorthodox playing style, an unusual voice, and an obsession with dark glamour and offbeat musical predecessors like David Bowie.


Anna Calvi


In an era of so much cookie-cutter music, though, this kind of strident individualism struck a chord with a certain breed of music fan, especially those in the fashion world.  Though Calvi shuns any kind of designer-focused style, she carefully chooses clothing as dramatic as her music, often appearing in frilly, men’s flamenco-style shirts.


This all added up to a self-titled first record this past January that debuted at number 40 on the U.K. charts. With its off-kilter song patterns and quavering, haunting guitar work, the success was well deserved. But beyond Calvi’s original compositions, she’s also known as an interpreter of other people’s songs, especially live. Here are three that are particularly striking.


“Sound and Vision,” originally by David Bowie

In this early, self-filmed YouTube video, Calvi attacked one of the greatest tracks by her idol Bowie in her attic, accompanied by a friend playing a squeezebox.


Anna Calvi onstage in London

“Jezebel,” originally by Edith Piaf

It takes definite guts to cover a song as renowned as Edith Piaf’s “Jezebel.” But not only did Anna Calvi do so, but she’s performed the song to rousing reactions in Paris.




“Joan of Arc,” originally by Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen songs cover a wide, moody emotional palette, making them particularly suited to Calvi’s introspective re-workings. Her tinkling, wavy guitar playing gives the song almost an aquatic effect in this clip, taken from a performance at Le Nouveau Casino in Paris.


Anna Calvi



Clever Music Videos Are A Great Way To Sell A Song

Ever since there have been music videos, there have been music videos worth talking about. Pop bands in the sixties would regularly film promotional clips to sell their songs when they could not perform on TV shows but for some reason, Queen get the credit for inventing the music video.

OK Go Make Memorable Music Videos

The promo for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was certainly memorable and sued great technology (for the time) but the art of the music video was only warming up. Music Television, or MTV as it was better known, was creating a real platform for bands to promote their songs and one of the most memorable early videos used one of the jingles for the station in its background.

I want my MTV!

It is hard to believe how huge Dire Straits were in the 80s but the advent of the CD and MTV saw this band sell a hell of a lot of units. ‘Money For Nothing’ featured new computer graphics and animation and with Sting crooning ‘I want my MTV’ in the background, the track went into heavy rotation on the new music channel.

Another British artist that embraced the new technology was Peter Gabriel and the animation work on his video’s was second to none. ‘Sledgehammer’ was shown repeatedly and cleaned up at the Music Video Awards thanks to its visual representation of the lyrics and fun feeling.

Jackson served up a few thrillers

Michael Jackson was also heavily involved in taking advantage of the music video format and on ‘Thriller’; he extended it into a mini-movie. The choreography on the Thriller video made it a classic and Jackson knew how to use his dance skills to captivate an audience. The King of Pop turned up trumps again a few years later with the ‘Bad’ video, where Jackson’s gang had a dance rumble against a team led by Wesley Snipes.

All of these were exciting and exhilarating videos but by the time Michael came to duet with his sister Janet on ‘Scream’, the emphasis of the video was placed on big budget effects as opposed to interesting storylines or dance routines.

A lot of bands were happy to splice live or studio footage of them with a small narrative or story but the best videos were the ones that stood out and were different from the norm. This was certainly the case when the Beastie Boys recorded a video for their single ‘Sabotage’.

Listen all of y’all, its a Sabotage!

The trio dressed up as old school cops and their antics in chasing bad guys and enjoying donuts helped catapult the band back into the big time after a few quiet years away from the commercial spotlight.

As special effects become more common, the videos that catch the eye are the ones that no longer rely on effects or wizardry. A great example of this was the Ok Go video for their song ‘Here It Goes Again’, which featured an elaborate dance routine using treadmills.

This video caught the eye and has already been lampooned and parodied on the internet and on TV commercials for branded products. You know you have made a great video when mainstream media steals your ideas for their own commercial needs. There have been some great music videos over the past few decades and there are sure to be many more in years to come.


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