Interview with Dena El Saffar, Bloomington, Indiana

Dena El Saffar is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, teacher, and recording artist who has performed throughout the U.S. as well as in the Middle East and Latin America. Born and raised in a musical family in Chicago, she learned about her Iraqi heritage through stories, music, and recipes. She began violin lessons at the age of six. At the age of seventeen, after winning several concerto competitions and touring Europe with a youth orchestra, she traveled to Iraq and became inspired to learn Iraqi music traditions. After completing a Viola Performance degree at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, she settled in Bloomington. While still a student, she founded the Middle Eastern music group Salaam, which focuses on music of the Arab world. Salaam has recorded nine albums, and has been featured on NPR, including an interview on All Things Considered with Guy Raz. El Saffar plays several traditional Middle Eastern instruments, including oud and joza, as well as violin and viola.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 09/23/2020.

Interview with Natasha O’Neill, Indianapolis, Indiana

Natasha O’Neill is one third of the Indianapolis, Indiana-based outfit Wife Patrol. Alongside bandmates Nicole (bass/vocals) and Greg (guitar/vocals), Natasha, who plays drums and sings vocals, defines their sound as “sifting through ‘90s grunge and alt-rock, ‘80s pop and new wave, and ‘70s punk.” Formed in 2015, the band self-released their 2016 EP, Electric Blizzard. Following the release of that record, they embarked on a tour of the Midwest, including shows at LadyFest Cincinnati (2017) and the MidWay Music Festival (2017, 2019) in Bloomington, Indiana. Wife Patrol released their debut full-length album, Too Prickly For this World, in 2020. The band recorded and mixed the eleven-track album with their producer, P. David Hazel (The Lemonheads, Extra Blue Kind) throughout 2019, and the output is a punk/pop/metal mashup with vocal harmonies throughout.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 09/26/2020.

Interview with Andy Ruff, Bloomington, Indiana

Andy Ruff is a lifetime Indiana resident and father of two: Anna and Hank (Hank is the front man for the band Hank Ruff and The Hellbenders). Andy Ruff is a honky tonk country singer, songwriter, bandleader, and mandolin and guitar player. Over the years, he has released two full-length albums of original songs with his local band, the Dew Daddies: Makin’ Good Time and Powered by Twang. Ruff is also a long-time politician, having served twenty years (five terms) on the Bloomington, Indiana, city council. In June 2020, he won a five-way primary to become the Democratic nominee for US Congress in a race he lost in November of 2020.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 10/5/2020.