i am Love
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i am Love

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Alternative

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Jan
11
i am Love @ Steel City Coffee House

Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, USA

Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, USA

Dec
20
i am Love @ Mugshots Coffeehouse and Cafe

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Nov
17
i am Love @ The Milkboy Philly

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Music

Press


At first sight—or rather first sound—*i am Love* may appear to be another band in a long line of indie rock groups like Arcade Fire or Fun., but upon listening to them, you’ll quickly realize something isn’t quite right. Interestingly, this Philadelphia band approaches these modern sounds with anything but the typical fare, using zithers, banjos, cello, horns, and, apparently, anything just lying around in order to achieve the desired effect. It’s similar to Belle & Sebastian’s method of taking the long way around, expanding exponentially all the while, to get to the same destination, but sounding all the more organic and unique for it.

On their new self-titled album, i am Love craft an impressive and ambitious work of art, and although considerably more low-tech than some of their influences, it ranks alongside of them in terms of sheer scope and magnitude. It’s like The Velvet Underground wanting to recreate the Wall of Sound with only a four piece and some cheap instruments, and in the process creating something just as beautiful. There’s a quirky sense of humor to a lot of their songs with song titles like “Pants on Fire” and “Stinkbug Serenade,” giving the album a somewhat endearing outsider feel, but the performances are entirely in earnest and absolutely stunning. i am Love will be released January 20th. - The Big Take Over


“Pillar of Salt” is the opening track off the upcoming self-titled release from i am Love, a group that started as Joshua Christopher’s singer/songwriter project and evolved into an expansive group with instrumentalists specializing in cello, woodwinds, saxophone, zither, and more. Christoper plays guitar and sings, with his vocals emitting an airy falsetto with dramatic appeal reminiscent of Antony Hegarty. Meanwhile, the backing instrumental arsenal swells with an epic anthemic quality similar to The Arcade Fire and Sonic Youth. Christopher’s approach to music involves a self-affirmation of sorts. “We make music to inspire people to be their highest selves, to know that they too can create,” he explains. “I play an autoharp to show people that you can use anything to make songs; it’s about expression in its purest form.”

With Arcade Fire and Timber Timbre as the most immediate comparisons, “Pillar of Salt” begins with the haunting falsetto (somewhere between Hegarty and Ed Droste) and haunting guitar strum, eventually complemented by perky yet exotic brass fixings. The track constantly alternates between spacious vocals that feature Christopher’s croon and a very instrumentally involved chorus and bridge, with hints of jazz, funk, and even Gypsy folk music emerging over the anthemic alt-rock soundscape. “Pillar of Salt” is a stylistically inventive and well-executed track that kicks off an impressive album; it will be released on January 20th. - Obscure Sound


Every now and then there comes a band that floats between genres, and all you can really say is that the music makes you feel genuinely warm and fuzzy inside — i am Love’s “Pillar of Salt” is a perfect example of that. After recovering for twelve months from a near-death car accident, frontman Joshua Christopher would meditate while strumming his guitar as melodies and inspiration came to him. We gotta say, we’re sure glad that they did. Starting off as a singer/songwriter project, i am Love is now comprised of seven members playing a variety of unique instruments such as zither, banjo and sax as well as percussion, keys and guitar. The end result is a whirlwind of trippy, lulling music floating around in your head. If you missed them at CMJ, then you’re in luck because the band has been touring extensively and is releasing their debut self-titled album on January 20th. - The Wild HoneyPie


The two tracks on Pennsylvanian acoustic orchestra i am Love’s forthcoming Truest 7 inch represent both the personal and the global sides of revolution. The beautifully paced ebb and flow of the rich, thoughtful title track, written by band leader Joshua Christopher after a near-fatal car accident, celebrates a return to life after tragedy.

The B-side, Trumpets and Cliffs is more anthemic, a clarion call to action that could make it the theme song of the current Occupy Movement. The two songs together show the spectrum of what the self-described folkster band can do with the wide array of instruments including trumpets and flugelhorn at their disposal - Mad Mackeral


Think of all the kids you grew up with. The ones taking music lessons after school. The kids tinkering away on the piano, practicing their recitals. The kids spending their afternoons learning the cello, or the violin, or the trumpet. The band dorks. The punk brats making a ruckus in their parents’ garages, banging and strumming away on their beginner’s drum kits and electric guitars. The younger brothers and sisters rifling through their older siblings’ record collections and singing along in their bedrooms. Think of those kids gathering together to create music, a circus folk rock troupe with flashes of Americana, post-punk, classic rock, new wave, and the Avant Garde all playing harmoniously like a choir of art school misfits. A saxophone here. A viola there. A grand aural collage of different sounds, textures, instruments, and influences. How glorious it must be. And so we have the self-titled debut album from Philadelphia’s i am Love, a collection of pop songs created by a vast array of instrumentation and open, bleeding hearts.

Consisting of singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Christopher, bassist Will Whitmire, drummer Kris Jackson, and a constantly revolving cast of additional players and shakers, i am Love weave a line through American music, echoes of any number of genre or scene permeating their sound like history just begging to be repeated. The band have obvious parallels to groups like Neutral Milk Hotel, The Decemberists, or Arcade Fire, but maintain their own identity with their forays into psychedelic waters and with Christopher’s howling vocals. They never sound like they’re aping anybody. Christopher’s reflective and contemplative lyrics add an additional layer to the band’s soaring sound, keeping things tight, warm, and personal. There’s something life affirming about someone using music to overcome their personal baggage, regardless of how tragic, or in the case of Joshua Christopher, incarceration and a harrowing accident. Music can be medicine. Music can be therapy.

With i am Love, that’s kind of the point.

The album begins with “Pillar of Salt,” a track that sounds like a lamenting, somber ode, Christopher’s vocals fragile and melancholy, until that horn section kicks in to let you know everything is going to be okay…everything will work itself out in the end. “Swiftness” comes in like an art rock steam train, a post-punk beat and guitar riff paired with reverbed singing vocals and subdued, warbly spoken word sections. The band sounds like they’re playing in a long and endless tunnel, providing every pulse and throb for your road trip to the other side. They are your travel companions. They are your soundtrack. Experimental explorations continue with “Ghost in the Hallway,” Christopher sounding like a revived and focused Ian Curtis fronting some kind of underground indie rock super group as they confront their collective fates in the netherworld. It’s the sound of spitting into the abyss. Things lighten up a little over the next couple of tracks as the band touch on driving synthy new wave (“Pants on Fire”) and warped folk music (“Stinkbug Serenade”), before collapsing with the down tempo, demented doo-wop of “Can I.” For every soaring, open-armed, all-is-love theme the band throws out into the ether, there’s always a return to Earth, a return to self-doubt and examination, a crash. At the risk of sounding pandering or pretentious, it’s art as life. The band round the album out on some high notes, channeling their inner blues rock troubadours with “Ace of Cups,” and then venturing into vaudevillian finesse with sing-along closer “Finest Hour.” Bad things happen. But so do good things. And you’re still alive. So sing. - Joup


I Am Love isn’t a religious cult, but a trippy, folksy trio from the Pennsylvania hills. Their self titled cd due for release in Jan 2015, is a collection of backwood melodies which could easily cascade through America’s heartland. A mix of dissonant sounds made possible by using unconventional instruments such as zither, sax, banjo and percussion, they offer a unique take on a sometimes hard to define genre, one born of many different hybrids and almost impossible to categorize.

The opening track off IAL’s debut, “Pillar Of Salt”, witnesses singer/guitarist/zitherist Joshua Christopher channeling Roy Orbison. Noticeably similar in pitch, the singer adds just enough off-key timber to pull it off. In other ditties, his vocals are low and modular setting a spoken word tempo to the poppy, psychedelic beats. Aside from Christopher, the other members in IAL, are Will Whitmire (bass/banjo) and Kris Jackson (percussion/keys/vocals). In recent past, the trio had a rotating ensemble of guest players who added colorful obscurity to the mix, but are now content to stay a threesome.

Following grand ‘ol tradition, I Am Love’s lyrics engage melancholy tomes of redemption, struggle and misfortune. The first video off the album “Ghost in the hallway” is a moody number which covers all of the above. It reaches a certain crescendo which allows a tinge of the gothic to seep in and take IAL’s status to the next level. That said, in brief, the band has a serious yet positive, approach to making music which is simply “to inspire people to be their highest selves.” Catch I Am Love on tour in select US cities. - Vellum ArtZine


I can't categorize this. I don't know that I get it. But I absolutely love it. For me, i am Love’s Self-Titled is exactly what I needed. I've read and wrote and listened and cried and gotten mad (especially with the non-indictment of Darren Wilson). The music works, on every level, like only music can. I admit that it’s taken awhile to complete this piece. And because this is paragraph one, it may still take time.



I still work on the outskirts of the music industry in Los Angeles. Something that we music snobs, rock veterans, and former music majors still love to say is “that’s not real music.” We look for the instruments, the collaboration, the sweat, the performance of it. And though I get it, Ableton, Fruity Loops, and dudes with laptops just ain't the same. In Self-Titled, I found the music.

This project reminds me of every musical thing that I've ever done. It’s like marching, jazz, and concert bands, mixed with some beat-making, flawless vocals, and set to a movie. Right now, THIS is the soundtrack of my life. Listen, and my thoughts will become yours. But other than the obvious horns, rare instrumentation, melodies, and harmonies, something else makes this personal for me—the variety and versatility.

It's a part of my culture that we all do everything. I didn't realize how uncommon this jack-of-all things was, until I met people from other schools, other families—other cultures. In my world, it was not uncommon to see the best sax players put down their horn, grab a trumpet, and become the best brass player. When the fire alarm sounded, we beat on the desks, danced in the aisles and a full on party happened mid-fifth period. And I'm not really a rhymer or singer—unless you need one. No, I don't see i am Love passing around instruments like we did. But that same freestyling flowing vibe is there.

I don't think it matters who sings. It doesn't matter who plays lead, or who plays at all. It’s all good. It’s the opposite of what happens in most pop music. We all loved Destiny’s Child, the Jackson Five, and the Supremes, as long as we were listening to Michael, Beyoncé, and Diana Ross. i am Love is the Bulls in the 90s, but everybody wears 23 and wins the MVP. It’s an absolutely beautiful project from top to bottom.

I can’t call it perfect, but I can call it 4.5 out of 5 stars. - Look to the Cooke


Mar 14, 2011 – Pennsylvania "folkster" band I am ?(pronounced i am love) is releasing their debut single in support of Haitian charities. The song titled "Starting Over", will support three Haitian charities, one of which was co-founded by band frontman Joshua Christopher.
Joshua Christopher's life was nearly just another American tragedy when he lost control of his car and plowed into the side of a tractor trailer. A broken clavicle, collapsed lung, and 10 broken ribs left him virtually immobile for months. Five months later, as he was just beginning to feel hope in his recovery, he collided head on with a tree. "No matter how good things were going, I always managed to find the self destruct button," he says. It was after this second near tragic mishap that Joshua took his wounded body and battered life to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, home to his brother Peter, whose wife and two children helped Joshua to view life differently. There, in the shadow of calamity he found hope, and his unique, soul-stirring voice.
Jeanna, Joshua's native Haitian sister-n-law, encouraged him often to visit her childhood home. After seeing the emotional affects of the January 12th earthquake on his own family and friends he was moved to do just that. It was was on that first trip to Haiti, just weeks after the quake, that Joshua met Jeanna's older brother Ernest, a kindred soul with a hopeful heart to see his nation transformed. "Ernest is a brilliant man, he's Mr. Everything around La juene," being he's part lawyer, part school teacher, part school director, entrepreneur, and father. "Seeing the hopeful resiliency of the Haitian people changed everything for me," Joshua says, "It made me realize that nothing I had been through in life was really that bad." The two men bonded in their hopefulness, and with it began to share a common vision for the island nation. Upon this happening Ernest asked Joshua to head up the formation of his vision in the form of a non-profit organization. "I was taken aback when Ernest asked me to do this, I felt so incapable, but I just couldn't say no." Since that first visit in february 2010, the organization has been making strides toward their goals of building the first of many homes for abandoned children, a free library, improving education through technology, and the formation of Haitian owned and operated businesses.
Upon returning from that first trip Joshua did what was most natural to him, he wrote a song. "Starting over is as much about my own life in the wake of this re-born sense of purpose as anything," says the visionary band leader, "In order to see hope for Haiti, I must first have hope for myself... that goes for all of us." Starting over is available through most on-line music retailers with 100% of sales being split between FEDAP Haiti and CDH a school and orphanage Joshua's grandfather helped to start 30 years ago in the small coastal town of Montrouis, Haiti. - Prlog.org


Discography

"i am Love" - January 2015
Truest 7' released in December 2011.


Photos

Bio

I Am Love: Doing More, With Less

There are four things crucial to the survival of a culture: metamorphosis, growth, ascension, and movement. Even if that culture lives within a band.

“It is necessary for survival,” says Kris Jackson of I Am Love.

The band has gone through more than its share of changes since Joshua Christopher started it as a singer-songwriter project in the countryside just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The area is deeply rooted in the earliest days of American culture.

“This is where many of our founding fathers lived when they birthed this great nation,” Christopher explains. “The countryside has a strong influence on our style of living, as well as our music. I sing a lot about overcoming difficult times, but with an overall sense of hopefulness. I want to make music that will generate good feelings.”

While he wanted his music to give people good feelings, it took recovering from an accident that nearly killed him for ideas to start coming to him.

“I ran into a tractor trailer and spent 12 months convalescing from the crash,” Christopher reveals. “I didn't listen to any music that year, but I wrote myself back to life with these songs.”

He'd sit and meditate while strumming his guitar, and the lyrics and melodies would just start coming to him out of nowhere.

“Life has been difficult for me at times,” he says. “But there is a sense of spirituality that drives me on to continue.”

He started fine-tuning the songs which would become the first EP with his longtime friend William Whitmire, who would eventually become the band's bass player. They then went into the studio with six other musicians who played various instruments that could help Christopher achieve the kind of music that he wanted to represent I Am Love.

The group, Whitmire, and Christopher eventually formed into a band after he let each person have a little creative freedom for their parts. Since he was used to making music on his own it was a different process for him, but started to pay off soon.

“The other players often knew what to do without being told; we quickly became a band, not a singer with backing musicians,” Christopher explains.

In addition to Christopher and Whitmire, the band now consisted of seven more members: Jamie Cramer, AJ Thomas, Kaitlin Burhman, Crystal Brulatto, Kelcie Hillard, Horseman Jacque, and Tom Zartler. They cut the EP, at Woodcrest Studio in West Chester, PA with Tom Zartler.

The band's warm and open sound comes through in the recordings, and the arrangements allow each instrument shine as their meant to. The EP featured three chord rock with a cello mixed in on the title track inspired by a visit to Haiti, “Trumpets and Cliffs,” which would've fit perfectly for the Occupy Movement, and a very complex musical arrangement on “Truest” which talks about the often contradictory feeling when one starts a new relationship.

After the release of the EP in January of 2012, the band kept playing live and cutting more demos. The shows varied in styles, and the demos never seemed to have a clear direction. So a change was needed.

The band was whittled down to three members which included original members Joshua Christopher and Will Whitmire, and the addition of Kris Jackson. The three bring the same kind of intensity, but with a clearer vision of what I Am Love is.

“Before with the larger band it took more energy to construct the right sounds at the right moments,” explains Jackson. “Now we just dive into any riff or lick that sounds good, and develop it into a soaring moment that comes from the distinctiveness of each of our styles.”

Yes, the band has a new sound. But that's due to the three drawing from their favorite styles of music, and making their own unique musical identity.

Josh Christopher's musical tastes lean towards the theatrical, classic indie music, and vaudevillian. Will goes for the heavier stuff like grunge and psychedelic-surf rock, and Kris' tastes venture into the spacious, melody-driven, rhythmic, and anything psychedelic. The band's sound is defined by the interweaving of all those genres.

“We definitely write songs with a pop/rock formula,” Kris explains. “But the songs themselves are collages of every style of music that we love.”

The three have known each other for a while which has resulted in them forming a very brotherly love for each other. Before, I Am Love was a big folk-gypsy band, but  turned into something that can do all of that, and more, with less.

“What we're doing is weaving a web of genres that blends innovation through classic styles and movements with the game-changing cutting-edge of the modern world of music,” Kris explains.

In the beginning, I Am Love was a big folk-gypsy band. But nowt it's turned into something that can do all of that, and more, with less.

Band Members