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Homer, Alaska, United States | INDIE

Homer, Alaska, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Folk


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Homer musicians produce first CD
Fusion party showcases LoveLifeMusic
By Katie Emerik Homer Tribune
October 15, 2008

Photo provided
Shawn and Milo

Milo Matthews and Shawn Zuke have become fixtures on the local music circuit, especially since the husband-and-wife duo made Homer their home base this summer. Armed with drastically different musical backgrounds the two combine an eclectic mix of folk, funk, reggae and a host of everything in between. For the past three years, the two have been working on their debut album together under the name LoveLifeMusic. This weekend, Wasabi's Fusion is hosting the compact disc release party in which Zuke and Matthews will perform with a full band, which will include Ben Trucki, drummer for the Photonz, as well as incorporating visual media art and dance into the show.
Zuke, a singer, songwriter and guitarist, was raised in Fairbanks and worked for years on the construction of the TransAlaska Pipeline before deciding to actively pursue music at the age of 30.
"I think I was stuck in that mental place where you have to work, but I didn't know what I was doing, I didn't have any goals," says Zuke who credits Matthews with helping her to realize that it is OK to make a living as a musician.
Matthews, on the other hand, was raised in Boston, Mass. and began playing the bass at 12 years old. On and off for 12 years, he "busked" the subways, making a living playing for eight hours underground. Matthews credits the experience with teaching him a lot about music and also performing.
"When I started, it was always, 'why aren't people giving money?' and when I was more aware of that, no one would pay much attention, so I started focusing on the music and different styles and experimenting. I would close my eyes and just feel the music, and then I would open my eyes and my case would be full of money and people around me were really getting into what I was playing. I learned about that connection."
Their debut album, LoveLifeMusic, professionally home produced by Matthews is different from the Milo and Shawn that many locals have seen playing consistently at Homer's local nightclubs. Not only is there a collection of guest musicians giving their talent to the record, but also the project is unabashedly 'studio.'
"It's a conceptual album and it definitely has a lot of layers, most of which are all Milo," says Zuke. Matthews states that it's always a challenge of knowing just how much to add to a song when working in the studio.
"The album is definitely on the polished tip, but it's a display of what we are capable of," he says. "I like all kinds of music and want to incorporate that, but I'm learning how to step back and look at it without being an evil scientist saying, 'I can do this, I can do that and all in one song'. The skill is knowing when it's enough."
It's clear when listening to the CD that there are many influences at play behind the album.
"It's hard sometimes to be conceptionally clear," says Matthews, "without compromising your message. I was stuck in one formula for a long time and I'm moving past that and playing all kinds of styles. We're a circus band."
Both Matthews and Zuke name Fleetwood Mac as an influential favorite. Milo and Shawn have been known to play several Fleetwood Mac covers at their shows and Stevie Nicks' "Rhiannon" is in fact the only cover on LoveLifeMusic. Perhaps it is in retrospect, but there is a comparison that can be drawn between the two. It might come from Zuke's vocals, which although unique, hold that similar alto rawness found in so many Nicks' songs. Also cited, as an influence by Matthews and Zuke, is the book "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne and it's clear when speaking to the duo that spirituality is important to both.
"The biggest thing that we're about," says Matthews, "is being self aware, being aware of your choices, and being aware that you're here. Being aware of the person next to you, that we are one, that we do love each other. It doesn't mean that you have to change the world, but you do have to be aware of your choices."
The path to spirituality has been a journey for both Matthews, who grew up as a Baptist born-again Christian, and Zuke who grew up Catholic. Zuke says, however, that it was through a lot of exploration that she's found a spiritual way to live that feels right to her.
"I'm a kind of philosopher of metaphysics, but I don't like labels. It's about what fits with each individual. We've come to understand how our energy does affect what comes into our lives."
Zuke says she and Matthews sing about what inspires them and their philosophies about life are certainly reflected in the music on LoveLifeMusic. "Just looking at the name of our band, 'LoveLifeMusic', it's about reality and how we choose to live our lives," says Zuke. Beyond the name, however the duo finds a complimentary balance.
"Shawn writes about angels and heaven and the sky," Matthews states, "that's her realm when it comes to writing. Not to say that I'm a dark person, but I tend to keep it real rather than spiritual."
The challenge, the two agree, comes with maintaining a positive mental state through all the transitions that come with working together as performers, but also being married.
"We're both emotional artists," says Zuke, "and opinionated and stubborn but we've grown so much. It's such a vulnerable space with your art and opening up to even write together is a process."
Ultimately, however, the goal for their own lives is the message they relate in LoveLifeMusic.
"For anything to really be an expression of light," Zuke contends, "it's important to be honest and truly live what you speak about. You have to be responsible and take care of yourself or else you won't be able to walk the talk. That's what we're trying to do through our music."
The album indeed is a positive reflection of the ways in which the duo sees the world. At the same time, it is musically diverse, yet consistent in its flow. The process of developing as artists, independently and together, is one that takes time and both Matthews and Zuke agree that this debut album is just the beginning.
"It's scary," says Zuke, "and it's not all perfect but it always seems to work out. It involves trust and takes faith."

CD release party for Milo and Shawn’s LoveLifeMusic debut album
When: Oct. 18, 10 p.m.
Where: Wasabi’s Fusion

- Katie Emerik Homer Tribune


Still working on that hot first release.