ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: 9 A.M., SSAANN, Jacob Slade

An eclectic night of young talent took place at Anodyne on Thursday night; 9 A.M., SSAANN, Social Cig, and Jacob Slade all performed to a warm reception. Halloween costumes were of course involved.

9 A.M. is the solo electro-indie pop project of Phatanoune Douangvilay (known as PD), who also plays in indie rock band Negative/Positive. This was their first show with a live drummer; PD explains the inception of the 9 A.M. project.

“I started learning guitar in like eighth grade and then me and my friends started a band. It didn’t last for very long, as anything in middle school does. This originally started as a grunge project, which is very different from where I am now (laughs). I was cycling through trying to find drummers and bassists and other guitarists, and then eventually I decided I could use backing tracks. When I started doing that was when I also decided that maybe pop music was more fun for me. Ever since two years ago when I had my first performance – which was at Grace Weber’s Music Lab – I’ve just been working at my production and stage presence. It’s been quite a journey. The name 9 A.M. doesn’t have a whole lot of meaning to it, other than that it’s when most people try to get up.”

Their album “A Sensation You Thought Would Stick” came out this past May. PD explains what went into it.

“It was sort of a concept album, and it started with the oldest song “Pretty Girl Come Over And Kill Me” which is the most non-electric song on there…it was written between my grunge and pop phase. It’s about this journey of meeting a friend that went really sour, and it ends with “BAYFACISDEAD” which is me admitting that this whole friendship/relationship is dead and I need to move on. I recorded it all mainly on my laptop that I use to perform, and I recorded the vocals in my closet. Production-wise it was such a huge step for me compared to my old stuff; I mixed and mastered everything myself, and I did get some consulting from people that helped.”

Her most recent song is “Something’s Wrong” which also has a music video.

“That song I made in like three hours in the middle of the night. I was kind of sad and depressed, and I like that song but I don’t like performing it too much because it’s my most honest song admitting that I have depression publicly. Like the title, it’s about how I always feel that there’s something wrong, which is how depression is for most people I think. There was so little production on that; it’s very muddy, like Current Joys-esque. I think that helped lend it to the honest feeling in confronting mental illness. Musically it also showed the range of my dynamics.”

PD shares what 9 A.M.’s up to now.

“I’m entering a weird transition phase; this gig and the next gig are the last two sets of this era of 9 A.M. and then I’m going in a different direction. I might release an album next year and I don’t quite know what I’m going for. I think I want to lean more into this pop sensation persona, like making this into a character and sharing that world.”

9 A.M. plays X-Ray Arcade on November 28th.

SSAANN is the dream pop of Melissa Simes, in which she plays keyboards and sings. Currently she’s got Jack Lundeen on guitar, Tori Yocum on bass, and Ransom Nyhart on drums. Her sound encompasses both pop and ambient sides of electronica; the name comes from the last three letters of Melissa combined with her middle name Ann. Simes explains how the project started up to today.

“It started with just me and my synthesizer (laughs). For all these songs that we played tonight, everything is already on the keyboard; the drums and bass are, and the melody lines that Jack plays are there too, so I could play solo but I want all my friends to be there (laughs). Right before COVID we had a couple shows with me, Ransom and Tori…then everything shut down…so this summer is where I got everyone back together and then I added Jack to guitar, and he fills the slot beautifully.”

Her most recent single “Lay It All Away” came out almost a year ago.

“It’s a disco-y dance song about falling in love and having that one person there and nothing else. Then having a party about it (laughs).”

She shares what she’s been working on since.

“I haven’t been writing too much lately just because I’ve been trying to get the band together and play shows; we did two at Summerfest, plus I played with Abby Jeanne which took a lot of time. Now we just have a few shows left, and so winter I’m gonna hunker down and do lots of writing. My goal is to record a single and put out something. Originally the goal was to record an EP but I decided to put less pressure on myself and just do one song and see how it goes.

SSAANN plays Cactus Club on November 12th.

Jacob Slade is a singer-songwriter whose style dwells in the realms of dreamy folk and bedroom pop. He’s currently playing with guitarist Anthony Kopczynski, bassist Austin Wood, and drummer Luis Acosta Jr. We first heard of him during quarantine through his releases on Bandcamp; he shares a bit about how he’s infiltrated the Milwaukee music scene.

“I started recording more seriously probably around 2018; I moved back to Milwaukee after graduating from school in La Crosse in 2020, so I was back here and then obviously during the pandemic there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to get out and play shows. I spent a lot of 2020 building up the repertoire of original stuff, and then this past spring and summer I just started doing anything I could, going to a lot of open mics in the area and networking with musicians. I wanted to find a core group of people who not only I liked playing with but also liked as people. I’m super grateful for all the guys that played with me tonight; they all improve my music a lot and bring their own unique touch to it.”

Earlier this year Slade released a self-titled full-length album.

“I like doing a lot of simple structures…sort of repetitive…and then spicing things up more with different riffs and instrumentation as opposed to a lot of dynamic chord changes, so it’s easy to turn into more upbeat jams in live sets. I recorded and produced it by myself with a little help from Austin on a couple tracks. It’s tough but I also love doing it that way. I definitely think that the sound, when everything was all said and done, was very indicative of what I wanted and was working on for a period of time. I thought it would be cool to kind of define my name with one piece of work that I could break onto the scene with.”

Last month he released a new single titled “Gridlocked Clouds / Lavender Skies.”

“I actually wrote that after listening to The Marias, and I kind of wanted to write something in the same vein, so I came up with the chord progression that way.”

Slade shares what some of his biggest influences are.

“Definitely some classic rock like Dire Straits; I never use a pick when I play guitar so Mark Knopfler is definitely a huge influence. Same with Pink Floyd…just a lot of ethereal, melodic guitar stuff. But then also newer bands like Khraungbin, and then on the songwriting side Father John Misty is a huge one.”

He shares what he’s working on now.

“I’ve got a couple songs in the works right now; I’m hoping to put out an EP or album in the winter and then maybe do another summer release just to stay fresh and have some new tunes for when live shows pick up again in the warm weather. Other than that I’m just getting out and playing as much as I can and get my name out there.”

Jacob Slade plays Bremen Cafe on December 2nd, plus he plays every other Thursday at Angelo’s Piano Lounge.

Share this post:

Leave a Reply