FDR is a family-friendly, welcoming brewery. There were plenty of kids and even a couple of babies (wearing ear mufflers) accompanying their parents/caregivers for this important community event.
The visit to FDR came at the invitation of Robin Lovejoy, the founder of Amalgamation, an indie/alternative rock band producing and playing their original music around the SF bay area and beyond. Amalgamation combines classic rock with modern cinematic landscapes, for a powerful sound influenced by a range of music, including Led Zeppelin and Heart (themselves influenced by Led Zeppelin) and middle eastern sounds (see interview below for full list of influences).
Their hour long set featured funky upbeat originals played against the backdrop of a large American flag draped over the big front windows of the brewery. It was a great set and I enjoyed my trip. (I’m already registered to vote, else I would have taken advantage of the registration opportunity while enjoying beer and music.)
Amalgamation plays around the SF bay area and will start touring soon. You can enjoy their music on Spotify. Here is my interview with Robin Lovejoy.
SC: What genre of music do you most identify with?
RL: Indie rock, alternative rock
SC: Describe your style of music.
RL: Our sound is a blend of classic rock vibes with modern, cinematic landscapes. Some of our influences are Led Zeppelin, Heart, PJ Harvey, the Joy Formidable, Radiohead, Phantogram, My Morning Jacket, Spoon, and middle eastern music. We also play an acoustic Indie roots/Americana set at half volume so we can get shows in venues that are more intimate. This provides a way for us to expand the list of places we can play.
SC: What’s your role in the band?
RL: I am the founder of the band, the main songwriter. I sing lead vocals, play rhythm guitar (with a few leads), and write the chord progressions and lyrics. My husband, Ivo, plays lead guitar and various percussion, plus background vocals and arrangements. We also have a new rhythm section, featuring our drummer John Candela and bass player James Mattox.
SC: Do you write your own music and lyrics?
RL: Yes. I am a spiritual person, a member of Eckankar. I often look to my dreams for songwriting. Our first CD is called Queen of Dreams, so the title says it all. Some songs came out of traumatic situations. Finding light amidst the darkness and writing songs with a spiritual essence are important to me. There is a funky upbeat side to our sound, a bluesy feel, and an ethereal, other-worldly vibe. And a little humor once in a while too. One of our songs, “We’re Not the Only Ones”, is about my UFO sightings, and features a synthesizer which is a new addition to the sound.
SC: Is the bay area a good place to be, to support your music?
RL: The scene in SF has changed dramatically. Some artists have moved away. We’re still here. Tech and real estate are unfortunately much of the focus now. Nashville and Austin seem to have a great scene. However, I feel that we would be welcome in Canada and Northern Europe, like the Netherlands, Belgium, or Switzerland. Our Spotify feed tells us that a lot of Canadians really like our music.
SC: How long has the band been together, what brought you together?
RL: We’ve been crafting our sound for about 12 years while some band members have come and gone. Now with our newest rhythm section, there is great chemistry. I met my husband at Cafe International in the lower Haight area of SF at an open mic night. Music is a wonderful thing and is a joyful part of our lives as a couple. That’s a blessing.
SC: Where are you based out of, where do you play, and in what type of venues?
RL: We are based in San Francisco and have played at the Milk Bar, Bender’s, Neck of the Woods, DNA Lounge, and Great American Music Hall, to name a few places. We play in SF venues that cater to indie and alternative rock. We are now also playing at micro breweries and house concerts.
Beyond SF, we would like to do a summer tour in Canada. Elsewhere in the bay area, we would like to play in northern Marin, Santa Cruz, and San Jose, like Art Boutiki. It would be fun to play at Sweetwater or Terrapin Crossroads in Marin.
SC: If you had to identify with a famous musician or band who would it be?
RL: Led Zeppelin is the reason I wrote my first song. Also, Rosetta Tharpe who played finger-picking lead guitar in church (pre-Chuck Berry) forever inspires me. “Going to California” (by Led Zeppelin) was playing when I was on the plane to the west coast.
SC: What inspires you as a band?
RL: We all bring to the plate what we know and use the music as a way to express our struggles and joy. As a band, we drive it with our influences and come from a heart centered place. Nature, people, and the cosmic worlds are all intriguing. Our content is presented in a format to people that is subtle, but rocks from the light to the heavy.
In writing a song, the seed is often sprouted from my artistic self and then I take it to the band where we develop it and put the finishing touches on it together. I’m still a rocker chick, but with a higher consciousness.
SC: When people leave your show, what is it that you hope they will say about you?
RL: In the last two months of shows, we’ve had a few different people say that our music touched their soul. That was very satisfying. I thought to myself, “this is our time for our ‘true north’ trajectory, our time to fly”. When people rock out, yet feel something deeper in the process, then the band and me have done our jobs as musicians and are fulfilling our mission.
Thank you Robin, for the interview, and Ivo, John, and James for inviting me to the show to enjoy your music!