Tag Archives: Janel Leppin

Mellow Diamond – Ashes to Breathe

Cellist Janel Leppin conjures bleak beauty on “Ashes to Breathe”, the lead-off single from her recently released sophomore album American God under her solo moniker Mellow Diamond. Leppin is well-versed in sonic experimentation, but on this track only her breathy voice and looped cello in use for this delicate meditation. Director Dan Sharnoff’s video is appropriately shimmery and prismatic, subtly fading between clarity and haze.

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Janel Leppin – Wedding Song

Janel Leppin is DC’s preeminent experimental cellist. That might sound rather niche, but I’ve seen Janel, frequently paired with husband/guitarist Anthony Pirog, perform with a wide variety of musicians. This past weekend Janel & Anthony took time out from the Sonic Circuits festival, a natural home for their often challenging music, to play a couple of John Lennon songs for an audience of baby boomers at a tribute show at the Hamilton.

Leppin started her own record label, Wedderburn Records, earlier this year to put out two long-simmering releases, an album recorded in 2012 under the moniker Mellow Diamond and an EP called Songs for Voice and Mellotron, recorded in 2015 when Leppin had injured her elbow, leaving her unable to play the cello. NYC filmmaker Mónica Savirón created this video for the subtle romantic ballad “Wedding Song” using discontinued Eastman Plus-X Negative 16mm film, hand processed with coffee and beer instead of chemical developers. The lyrics suggest a wonderful life ahead while the video presents powerfully wistful nostalgia. Bravo.

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Mellow Diamond – Cast In Gold

“Cast In Gold” is the third music video produced from Janel Leppin‘s remarkable solo album Mellow Diamond, finally released earlier this year on her own Wedderburn Records label. The moody single eschews Leppin’s trademark experimental take on the cello for Asian sounds including gong and the Japanese koto, and the dark lyrics paint a foreboding scene of environmental turmoil. Animator and musician Orion Rigel Dommisse from Providence RI directed the video from Leppin’s own shot footage. After years of focusing on solo releases and other varied projects, Janel and husband Anthony Pirog are currently in the studio working on their third album, Glover Park.

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Mellow Diamond – No Treaty

Cellist Janel Leppin, always at the forefront of experimental mind-blowing music in DC, has been struggling to release her debut solo record as Mellow Diamond for years. Despite being recorded, mixed and mastered, no label she met with was willing to put it out the way Leppin intended, so she has gone the route of many in the DIY scene and started her own label, Wedderburn Records. Last year we featured Mellow Diamond’s first ambient, dreamy video “Namesake”, and earlier this week she dropped the second video, “No Treaty”. It’s a surprising turn to moody pop music with lyrics, strummed electric guitar and a steady 4/4 beat with handclaps, while the video keeps things trippy as video artist Michael Hindert manipulates travel footage shot by Leppin. Mellow Diamond’s album finally emerges later this week after a celebratory show Thursday night at Songbyrd featuring a finely curated lineup of fellow female-fronted experimental pop bands, Roz and the Rice Cakes and Pree.

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Podcast for February 23rd, 2016


Tony’s ignorance of vinyl culture has some destructive consequences for his bro’s record collection, and Paul reports on how last Friday’s Union Arts benefit show was a wee bit bananas.

Sistr Mid9ight – Femaphilia [single]
Maimouna Youssef aka Mumu Fresh – Guiltiness [single]
Broken Grids – Into the Desert [s/t EP]
The Radiographers – Missy May [single]
Forgetter – Tied Tight [sad sac EP]
Janel & Anthony – Sweet and Sour [single]

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Mellow Diamond – Namesake

Life and musical parnters Janel Leppin and Anthony Pirog are the secret sauce that makes a whole lot of DC music more interesting. It’s an uncommon joy to see one or both of them appearing live with a wide variety of bands including Wanted Man, The El Reys and Laughing Man. In addition to collaborating on a pair of excellent albums as Janel and Anthony, their individual outlets are equally amazing. Last year’s album Palo Colorado Dream by The Anthony Pirog Trio landed on a number of jazz critics’ year-end best-of lists, while Janel’s all-female quintet Ensemble Volcanic Ash made a solid impression with audiences at this year’s Washington Women In Jazz Festival with an instrumental lineup including harp, stand up bass and Janel’s trademark effected cello. While we wait patiently for the debut album release by her solo ambient moniker Mellow Diamond, Janel and Michael Hindert created this video accompaniment for the dreamlike song “Namesake”. And guess what! Janel and Anthony play a free show the Fringe Fest this Saturday evening with Brooklyn vocalist Marilyn Carino. Open your mind to some truly exceptional and very different forms of music.

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