Julia Johanan and Annie Benick of local jazz/soul outfit iolite are back in the music scene after a summer “staycation” spent revisiting old songs and writing new ones.
The two appreciate this creative process and don’t want to rush through it. “We really care about what we’re doing so we want to take our time and perfect it,” says Johanan. “We gained a lot of experience gigging and playing out a lot,” explains Benick. “We toured New York last fall and it was great, but the writing is what’s important to us.”
If you dig a funky, bluesy, relaxed sound, check out their next happy hour show from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 28 at Arnold’s (210 E. Eighth St., Downtown), a venue they feel is a perfect match for their style.
“There’s definitely an intimate vibe and closeness about our music,” says Benick. “We’re really mellow. We’re not get-up-and-dance and get loaded,” she says, laughing.
Next year brings more regular shows at Arnold’s as well as Walnut Hills’ The Greenwich, where they’ve performed since the band’s inception. We’ll also get a chance to hear the songs to which they devoted their summer. “We’re definitely recording next year,” says Johanan. “We’re probably going to release another EP.”
“And we’re going to do another awesome release party,” Benick chimes in.
TRACK 1: Broken Bells, “The High Road” - AB: “We both knew we’d pick something off this album.” JJ: “I really like the lyrics. I do think the high road is hard. It’s harder to do the right thing all the time and maintain those ethics.”
TRACK 2: The Flaming Lips, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1” - JJ: “It appeals to the nerd in me that loves comic book stories. The fact that it’s a heroine instead of a hero—it’s a girl power song!”
TRACK 3: Aaron Neville, “Hercules” - JJ: “We’re going to cover it. I love how one groove can be used artistically throughout a whole song. It’s the same bass line.”
TRACK 4: Sam Cook, “Bring it On Home to Me” - JJ: “This is a song reminiscent of my childhood when I’d listen to oldies with my dad.”
TRACK 5: Curtis Mayfield, “So In Love” - JJ: “The lyrics sound like he wrote them for someone he really cared about; it wasn’t a made-up love. He not only loves her, but appreciates her entire being, what she brings to the relationship, all that.”
TRACK 6: Junior Murvin, “Police and Thieves” - AB: “We’re both big reggae fans. I’ve been inspired to write two songs by the B-side of this album. This really identifies that era—not only just in Jamaica, but here, too.”
TRACK 7: Sun Ra and Hattie Randolph, “‘Round Midnight” - AB: “I’ve heard a million people sing this but nobody’s touched it the way Hattie Randolph has. I’ll say it, I like her vocals better than Sarah Vaughn—and that’s a bold statement.”
TRACK 8: Sade, “War of the Hearts” - AB: “I grew up with Sade. It’s a great song to listen to when you’re falling in love.”
TRACK 9: Radiohead, “House of Cards” - AB: “My friend burnt me this (In Rainbows) and I listened to it when I was in Bangledesh on a long nighttime train ride under starry skies and I know it sounds cheesy, but that’s how I got into it. This song came on and it filled me with incredible longing.”
TRACK 10: DJ Shadow, “Midnight in a Perfect World” - AB: “Endtroducing is one of my favorite albums of all time. The vocals are so amazing and it’s a really beautiful song.”