Abby Jeanne on the transformational power of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Move On Up’

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5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To is our chance to talk to artists we love about songs they love.

Listen to the whole segment below.

Abby Jeanne on Curtis Mayfield

Our guest today is local hero Abby Jeanne.

Abby, what is the last song you couldn’t stop listening to?

I’d say the last song would be “Move On Up” by Curtis Mayfield. Even though it’s like seven minutes long. I would just put it on repeat, like all day. I’m like, walking? “Move On Up.” Driving? “Move On Up.” It doesn’t stop.

Why this song? What stands out to you about “Move On Up”?

Well Curtis Mayfield in general is a genius. But also, just the feeling that it makes you feel, which is very good. It’s like an extremely positive song. There’s like, this makes me feel good. “Move On Up” is like all day, nonstop, having a great time. And, yeah, it just makes you feel really good. And on top of that, I mean the instrumental itself is really good. Even when people aren’t singing. There’s a slew of instrumentation going on. He uses like six different drums and you know so many instruments that meld together like a kaleidoscope of positivity. And that would be “Move On Up.”

Do you use music like that, to make you feel better? Do you listen to that and you’re like, I need to feel better and I’m going to listen to this song? And then do you feel the difference?

Oh definitely. I mean I could listen to the song on any given day, but I actually have had specific moments in my life where I’ve played that song to feel good. I mean the message itself, just in the lyrics, is positive. But then on top of it, it’s got this, like, if you had to assign an aura to that song, it would be like orange and yellow and bright. It’s very bright sounding and bright feeling, so yeah, definitely.

Do you think that was like such a particular time, what makes that sound? What creates that? It’s not just the time, but it’s like the microphones and the pedal and the instrument. 

Right, I mean it’s interesting because every instrumentalist, or every musician in general, has their own tweaking things that you can’t recreate. So there is kind of this overlap of tone when you associate with a time period. Which might be something as simple as recording on tape, but this is something I talk about a lot with producers and friends who are musicians. It’s always the question. How do I get that? How do I get that? When really in actuality it’s the artist themselves who are tweaking certain things. So if they have a pedal, that is very specifically tweaked to their sound. You know?

So I couldn’t say there was just some master button that says, “now you sound like you’re playing the seventies.” There is no master sound. It’s very catered to the artist themselves.

For a Curtis Mayfield, for that song, how do you create that “we’re feeling good” sound? What is that? What is it in the song?

I don’t know, that the thing! That’s why I can’t stop listening to it. I’m still trying to figure it out.

Abby will be playing at Turner Hall Ballroom on Feb 7.

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Enter for a chance to win a pair of spots at an 88Nine Studio Session with Abby Jeanne!

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Enter for a chance to win a pair of tickets to see Abby Jeanne!

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Abby Jeanne

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Abby Jeanne will turn Hi-Fi Cafe into Atomic Records for her new single release

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It may not have shown in her music until now, but Abby Jeanne is a New Wave enthusiast. Though she’s better known for the soul, classic rock and psychedelia of her recent records, Jeanne spent her teenage years immersed in the moody, gothy sounds of bands like Bauhaus, Tones on Tail and Siouxsie and The Banshees, and she channels that muse on her new single, “Get You High.”

“I started writing it last summer, and it just sounded totally different from anything I’d written before,” Jeanne says of the synthy dream-pop song. “I’ve always been influenced by old New Wave bands, but none of my songs have ever really sounded like them before this. I’ve always seen my main instrument as my voice, so I don’t focus on a genre. I don’t ever set to capture a particular sound, but this time those influences just poured out of me.”

Jeanne is releasing the song as a 7-inch, which includes a remix from Bauhaus’s Daniel Ash and a cover of “Spellbound” by Siouxsie and The Banshees. And in the spirit of the 7-inch, she came up with something a little different for the release party. She’ll be turning her old haunt Hi-Fi Cafe into Milwaukee’s late, iconic record store Atomic Records for the night.

Abby Jeanne | Photo credit: Anna Rodriguez

Consider the event an early Halloween celebration of sorts. In keeping with the retro mood of the night, Jeanne’s manager Dan Backhaus and Atomic Records founder Rich Menning are restoring the store’s old neon signs for the Oct. 12 event. “We are gonna dress up the cafe as Atomic Records from the outside — both neon signs, caution tape, everything,” Backhaus says. “We’re even making batch of Atomic shirts that match the 7-inch art.”

The single is even being released on Atomic Records, along with Jeanne’s label Hi-Fi Records, as both a 7-inch and a cassette, both of which will be on sale at the release party. Menning, who has continued to set up periodic Atomic Records pop-up shops at record conventions, will be on site from 2-3 p.m.

Atomic Records circa 2001 | Photo credit: Liz Austin 

“Atomic Records was the first record store that I ever walked foot into as a young kid,” Jeanne says. “Anybody that listened to underground, indie or New Wave music in Milwaukee was buying records at Atomic, so I thought it would be amazing to revive it and keep its legacy going.”

The day will play out in two phases, Jeanne says. The afternoon will have more of a low-key hangout vibe, then at night it will become more of a dance party as Jeanne plays some of her favorite goth and New Wave music, with an emphasis on bands like The Cure and Joy Division.

You can stream “Get You High” below.

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Abby Jeanne “Music Box Dancer” album release at Turner Hall Ballroom

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Abby Jeanne brings her signature soul to the ‘Isle of Misfit Toys’ on her new holiday single

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The festive single, “Isle of Misfit Toys,” is exactly what you would expect from the soulful songstress, but with a holiday spunk. The original track is a refreshing holiday break from the standard collection of seasonal music while staying true to her genre-blending sound and formative style.

Listen below and catch her at Turner Hall on January 5 for her Music Box Dancer album release show with Saebra & Carlyle.

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Enter for a chance to Abby Jeanne’s “Music Box Dancer” album release!

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What: Abby Jeanne album release show
Where: Turner Hall Ballroom
When: Saturday, January 5, 2019
Tickets and more info:

Enter below for a chance to win a pair of tickets to Abby Jeanne’s “Music Box Dancer” album release show:

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Enter for a chance to win a pair of passes to Abby Jeanne’s Cosmic Weekend!

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What: Abby Jeanne’s Cosmic Weekend
Where: The Cooperage
When: Saturday October 20 and Sunday October 21
Tickets and more info:

Enter below for a chance to win a pair of passes to Abby Jeanne’s Cosmic Weekend:

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Abby Jeanne’s Cosmic Weekend

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At 8A.M. this morning, Abby Jeanne premiered her new single, “Music Box Dancer” and had a chat with Dori Zori about her upcoming mini-music fest “Abby Jeanne’s Cosmic Weekend.”

If you missed out, “Music Box Dancer” was written and performed entirely by Abby Jeanne herself and is a vintage-tinged psychedelic pop trip. The artist tells us, “The music box dancer is me in my house rolling around on the floor and playing guitar and just expressing that. I think of my young self and young girls in their rooms writing songs and dancing while listening to punk rock. This song is for that girl and that version of me.”

We enjoyed shaking off the winter blues at Fire in February, a residency at Company Brewing that was held each Monday of the month showcasing different opening acts. For her Cosmic Weekend, that idea goes even farther. According to Abby Jeanne, “It’s a two-day event held at the Cooperage. It’s also my next Milwaukee show. I’m not going to be playing shows in Milwaukee. Basically it’s two days full of music, art, food and a market. On top of it, I want to create an entire environment. I want you to feel like you are going through a cosmic portal when you are going to this event. This is what I’m working on right now. I’m very, very excited. I want it to be a mind/soul expansion via music and art.”

Abby Jeanne’s Cosmic Weekend is held at the Cooperage in Milwaukee on October 20 & 21. Tickets available HERE.

Listen to “Music Box Dancer” below:

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