Category: features

Cool Boy talks influences, beginnings, his deb…

Cool Boy talks influences, beginnings, his debut EP, and more

January 31, 2018

Photos by William Sheepskin

Zachary Zonomessis has just launched his solo project in which he goes by the name Cool Boy. We previously got to know Zach as one-third of the indie rock band Youth Gallery. This time around he’s Cool Boy and just a few days ago he shared his debut EP ‘Midnight Gentleman’ via Zonosphere Records. The EP features 5 songs that carry catchy pop melodies, dreamy guitar riffs, and a collection of teenage narratives. The project first emerged after Zach made a move from his hometown of Cape Town, South Africa to London, England. We caught up with Zach and talked about the EP, his influences, future plans, and more.

To start off I’d just like to ask, how did the name ‘Cool Boy’ come about for this project?

The name Cool Boy came from a fan, yeah a fan that blows wind haha. About 6 months ago when I came across to London, the place I was staying at had a fan in the room, an old retro one. It was silver and blue and said big on it Cool Boy. So when I started coming across this new sound I had, I just looked at the fan and thought might as well call it Cool Boy. The orange circle came from the London Overground and oranges. I’m trying hard to keep the theme of Cool Boy high so whenever someone sees an orange circle they think of Cool Boy. 


You just recently moved from Cape Town to London, did this project start in London? If so has the move influenced your music?

Yeah, 100%. Cool Boy started in London and the move defiantly brought this new sound out of me. 

Can you tell me a little about the music scene in South Africa and how it differs from the scene in England?

The music scene in South Africa is very small, its much harder to make it and stand out, it’s also very clicky. So everyone knows everyone haha. London music is on the next level, so many places to gig and people to meet, also the connections are everywhere, you kind of just need to put yourself out there.

Why is this EP titled Midnight Gentleman? 

I had so many names for this EP,  that I left naming it to the last minute and when it came around to naming it I actually just put all the names I had into a Wu-Tang name generator and got Midnight Gentleman. It fit so perfectly and described the EP as a whole the best way possible. 


Musically who would you say your influences are on this EP, what was the recording process like, and how would you describe your sound?

I take influence from almost every artist I listen to. But I can say that I was listening to some Toro Y Moi, Matt Corby, and Frank Ocean. I try not to listen to that much music leading up to recording, I feel it helps me come up with melodies. I recorded all the demos in my room in London and then did the final recordings in Cape Town. I like to bounce between places, adds some texture haha. Describing the Cool Boy sound is a hard one, Its like a bedroom party with heartbreak and indie hit playlists on in the background haha.

On this EP what inspired you the most lyrically? Are the songs connected in any way in terms of their theme?

I feel like the EP does have a theme throughout it, I refer to some stuff in more than one song. Also when writing, I plan to write an EP or album and then go from there, I’d not really just write one song, I have way more fun building a project.

Can you tell me a little about the video for London Room? How did it come about and what is the idea you had behind it?

I worked with two artists (Albert Riera Galceran & Reuben Beren James) and there production team (Adeo Studios) to do the video. We worked a lot on the theme and idea and made sure there was a story to it. The whole video was based about the song and the lyrics and meaning behind it. I don’t really want to give everything away, I really enjoy people finding there own meaning in the song and video.

Where would you like to take this project next? Will there be any upcoming releases, shows?

This is just the start of Cool Boy. There are new releases coming and shows. I can’t say when because of all the logistics, but sooner then you think.

Anything else you’d like to mention?  

My band Youth Gallery is also still working on new releases and shows. We have new music and content coming soon. I’m working hard on keeping the two projects separate and making sure they can stand on there own. I get different levels of joy working on different projects. With Cool Boy I do everything, the music is 100% what I want it to be and with Youth Gallery, there are 3 minds working together to make something everyone likes which has its fun in it too. But yeah 2019 is going to be a big year!

Follow Cool Boy on Instagram here

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Dream Chief’s Luke Tuttle talks tour with The …

Dream Chief’s Luke Tuttle talks tour with The Band Perry, modern influences and Indianapolis

Michael Cottone

November 14, 2018

Indianapolis based electro-pop duo Dream Chief – consisting of cousins John and Luke Tuttle – have become one of the city’s most intriguing up and coming acts in recent years. Dream Chief have released a handful of singles since their origin, displaying introspective lyrics and catchy rhythms. Their most recent single “Can’t Get Enough” released in late October mixes elements of dance and confessing lyrics. While it’s a formula used often in music today, Dream Chief achieve the sound in a way that sounds fresh.

I got a chance to sit down with Luke and discuss different topics related to Dream Chief, including their recent tour with The Band Perry, lyrical and modern inspirations, and the city of Indianapolis.

Michael Cottone: So to start off I thought it’d be appropriate to ask how you and your cousin John brought Dream Chief to fruition and what inspired it to come about?

Luke Tuttle: Well John and I have been super into music since we were little kids, it was always a big part of our dad’s lives. We grew up playing together, he played guitar and I would play piano. At first my Grandma would have us play stuff at Christmas, fun stuff like that, but as we got older we continued to play shows together at the Hoosier Dome under the name “John & Luke,” it was hilarious. That was like sophomore year of high school, but when we got to college ages we were like “let’s do this for real and make what we want to make,” so three years ago was about the time Dream Chief became a thing.

MC: Your music’s themes often hone in on certain emotions and states of mind, but what would you say inspires you lyrically?

LT: So I can be very like, neurotic sometimes, and it can be very frustrating. Sometimes you can’t stop thinking about something, so John and I’s writing styles are different because mine is kind of just to let it all out, let your feelings dominate the music. When I write something, it comes from past relationships, or I’ll describe thoughts about my general state of mind at a certain time. Looking back on the song “Payphone” I think to myself “would I write that again?” and I really wouldn’t, but when I wrote that I had a whole setting in my mind and everything. I didn’t know if it would make sense to people, but I just wrote it because my mind chose words that described the feeling.

MC: So you just let it flow out.

LT: Exactly.

MC: So right now your guys’ discography is very spread out having single after single come out periodically. Is there a strategy you guys have to what song gets released when or have a certain time in mind?

LT: Well as you know, it’s a singles market out there right now because of streaming, but I think our next move is to put out an EP probably. We’re going to get a lot of weight behind “Can’t Get Enough,” and push that hard. We have a video for that one done that’s being edited, once that’s out the push will start. But to answer your question, it has being single after single because after “Can’t Shake U” came out we got mixed up in some talks with a label. So we were making a lot of songs on the DL, and we would show them these songs we would make and that’s why there was a gap between “Can’t Shake U” and “Novacaine.” Right now we’re just releasing stuff when we can, but our next effort is an EP.

MC: That’ll be exciting!

LT: Yeah, and we’ve got a lot of songs that are ready to go. Owen Thomas (manager) told us that we should take time to release songs and choose what we really want. Like if we’re about to release a song and something better gets written, and you want to release that instead, ya know? You got to account for things like that. John and I also watched this interview with Diplo I think where in essence he says that he had written 500 songs or some ridiculous number, and he had released them and he doesn’t look back or question it. Because if you sit on something for a long time you don’t get as stoked about it anymore, ya know?

MC: Yeah, like if you keep looking at something new it just loses its excitement.

LT: Exactly, and you’re in a different state of mind and are on to new ideas.

MC: So what artists inspire you two collectively?

LT: I would say Empire of the Sun is a huge one for both of us. I know for me I think Travis Scott and Vince Staples are the two hardest rappers in the game right now. A lot of oldies inspire us too though, like America, ELO (Electric Light Orchestra), Supertramp inspired my keyboard play a lot, Disclosure’s up there too.

MC: I hear a lot of Disclosure in your guys’ stuff.

LT: Right on, that’s actually sick. There are a lot of players in that house, underground area.

MC: The electro-pop scene.

LT: Yep, exactly.

MC: So what do you think being from the city of Indianapolis has done for you guys as artists?

LT: I feel like we’ve had a lot of support from the Fountain Square community, especially the Hi-Fi. The guys at the Hi-Fi really got behind our stuff and started graciously letting us open up shows for certain artists that we would fit with. That was really cool because those shows got us really good exposure and have gotten us lots of new fans.

MC: So is Fountain Square the spot local bands should be looking toward for opportunities?

Oh, absolutely. That’s where it’s at right now. There are other random joints in the city that support music and put on shows that are really cool. But that whole MOKB community is really prominent now. I’m not really sure what the Hoosier Dome is up to these days, is it still metal shows mostly?

MC: I believe so, ahahah.

LT: Yeah, that was kind of the culture when we first played there.

MC: So how was your guys’ opportunity to tour with The Band Perry a few weeks back?

LT: It was an absolute blast. That was our first, like, actual tour. We had booked shows regionally and locally but that was the most extensive it’s been for us. They were really nice to us and it was very new for me and John.

MC: How did it come about? Did they come to you or did you go to them?

LT: Owen Thomas does creative direction for the Perry’s for a good while now with Absorb. And about a year ago I went to visit my sister in LA and they invited me over. They had this place in A Thousand Oaks right outside Malibu, and I went over and hung out, got to see some of the stuff they’ve put out. Owen introduced me and showed them our music, and they had already been talking about doing a little tour, 16, 17 dates, something like that. They had to ease back into the scene since they had been out of it for a little while, and they’re like a whole new band now. Seeing them live was awesome, but there were always these very country fans that got confused at the shows. I thought it was cool because they weren’t afraid to switch genres, because there is a lot of hate that comes with it. But at the same time, do you want to make music you hate just to satisfy the masses?

MC: Exactly, you got to keep it authentic and true to yourself.

The road ahead for the Dream Chief boys is certainly bright. You can stream their new single, along with the rest of their discography here.

Meet Exek, Melbourne’s Most Eclectic TroupeMax…

Meet Exek, Melbourne’s Most Eclectic Troupe

Maxwell Denari

October 30, 2018

Beyond what we already know about the Australian music scene, there are plenty of diamonds in the rough. Arguably, some of the groups that would qualify for this kind of description are some of the most rewarding sound manufacturers of the current moment. None better than Melbourne’s Exek, who have released two sonically different yet synonymously enthralling records this year.

“Ahead of Two Thoughts” and “A Casual Assembly” are two projects that appear so foreign on the surface, though, make complete sense based on the wholly different and enthusiastic approach to music that Exek procure through every track. The anxious slew of spoken word on “A Casual Assembly” is eerily captivating in partnership with the intricate drone of sound in the background of every tune. Conjuring the feeling of a soundtrack to a melancholic storybook. “Ahead of Two Thoughts” is a separate kind of beast. Filled with groovy, gummy basslines that wooz you into a haze of movement. There is an expert kind of musicianship involved when a song makes you want to dance, yet makes you feel isolated at the same moment in time. Exek have succeeded in bringing such emotional conflictions into the totality of their sound… and are truly making it their own.

With all this being said… I recently had a chance to talk with one of the members of Exek, Albert. Speaking briefly on a handful of different things… from what they have witnessed since touring through the US this past month, to what Albert deems some of his inspirations to be.

Maxwell: So, to start… who all makes up Exek… and how did you all come about forming the band?

Albert: Exek was formed about 5 to 6 years ago. I had a sound in mind and needed to get it out of my head and record. Got a crew of misfits together and that obviously helped with playing shows. Several different members over the years makes it fresh for me and the audience.

Maxwell: How has Melbourne’s music scene been an influence on you guys as musicians?

Albert: Melbs enables us to play shows. Cos there’s such a massive scene and so many venues. Even though we don’t play live much. Much rather stay in the studio. But the attitude there is great. It’s very competitive cos there’s so many bands. Some good. Some great. Some shit.

Maxwell: Who are some Aussie bands that you all think deserve more recognition over here in the states?

Albert: Essendon Airport. Pretty much anything that Phillip Brophy was affiliated with. Criminally underappreciated.

Maxwell: With that being said… who are some collective artists/bands that you guys have taken inspiration from… in terms of the sound that you all create as a group? Who are some artists you lot have been listening to recently?

Albert: As above. Also, any of Geoff Barrow’s work. Lately all I’ve been listening to is hip hop. Got to see Tommy Wright lll as we both played ‘Cropped Out’ in Louisville. He’s amazing and such a nice guy.

Maxwell: Going back to local music… what are some things that you’ve seen throughout your tour in the US that are different/similar to the local scene in Melbourne… as well as around Australia in general?

Albert: Melbourne is an over privileged city where political correctness is its dark overlord. I like it in the states where no one gets crucified if a bill is all white dudes. I never have and never will give a fuck about who is making the music. It’s not important. And it’s a real shame that sexual and racial labels play a part in people lives. If the music is good, that’s all that matters.

Maxwell: Speaking of music… you guys have released 2 projects in 2018 alone… how often are you guys writing and recording music? Is it easy to find time on the road to write and develop songs?

Albert: No writing on the road. No need as we have a new record that’s finished and should be released around March. And the follow up to that is written and sequenced. It’ll be recorded once we get back to Australia. Might start writing LP5 next year.

Maxwell: So, what is next for the likes of Exek?

Albert: Europe tour 2019!

Exek finishes their tour October 31st in Los Angeles @ Teragram Ballroom alongside Thee Oh Sees and Prettiest Eyes.

Be sure to check out Exek’s two releases from this year on their Bandcamp or any streaming service.

The Resource Network: Revitalizing Midwestern …

The Resource Network: Revitalizing Midwestern Punk

Maxwell Denari

The term Punk goes far beyond a genre or style of music. Punk is something raw and real. Something based in community. Something of Do-it-yourself charisma that leads groups of people into wildly creative endeavours. Punk is a matter-of-factness within the world of expressionism.

The Resource Network are representatives of budding Punk rejuvenation. The Indiana-based quartet have become a mainstay in the Indiana/Midwest music and DIY cultures and toured through Canada last month to support their latest tape “Psychographics”, released via Quality Time Records out of Cleveland. The seven song tape is just around 15 minutes in length and barrels you into tangled yet brilliantly melodic guitar work, writhing bass rhythms and quick-witted lyricism. A mere thrust in comparison to what a live show is like with this group on stage.

The Resource Network is made up of Alex
Beckman (Guitar, Vocals), Pat Maloney (Guitar, Vocals), Jake Kelly (Bass,
Vocals) and Reid Markus (Drums). Last month I sat down with the band to talk
about their formation, inspirations, the local music scene and more.

How did you all come together to play music as “The
Resource Network”? I know that a handful of you guys went to school together…
but how did this current band end up forming?

Pat: Well… we all played in a band called “Video Grave”. That was kind of a
high school band. All of us went to the same high school… except for Jake. Alex
and I started playing guitar around the same time in school and kinda started
jamming. I think I started a year or so before him. I was originally going to
play drums in “Video Grave”… but we ended up finding Reid who we knew was a
kick ass drummer.

Jake: I had already been playing with Reid and Alex in another band and the
bassist in “Video Grave” at the time ended up moving to DC. So I essentially
came in from there.

Pat: We essentially just wanted to start fresh… but with the same guys in
the band. Which is where “The Resource Network” comes about. We wanted to make
new songs. Take it more seriously… and keep the creativity that we had with
each other present. As the four of us had really good chemistry.

So Jake… how did you come about meeting Alex and Reid
if you were already in a band with them prior to entering “Video Grave”?

Jake: I met Alex at a “Twin Peaks” show, actually. In Bloomington. We had a
mutual friend we were hanging out with at the show.

Alex: Shortly after that we just started making some music together. We liked
similar stuff. After a while it just made sense for Jake to hop in with “Video
Grave”… with the rest of us.

Seeing as you guys have spent a lot of time with each
other musically… who are some collective artists/bands that this band takes
inspiration from?

Alex: The sounds for this group were heavily impacted by “Uranium Club”,
“Parquet Courts”, and “Omni”.

Jake: When someone asks me, personally, “what’s the biggest influence” for
“The Resource Network”… I say “Uranium Club” immediately.

Pat: We recently had played with “Aquarium”.. and the drummer for “Aquarium”
is the drummer for “Uranium Club” and that was a surreal moment. It was nuts.

Omni is one of my favorite bands… so I completely
understand that. So, when did you guys figure out that you were all musically
connected? When do you all know that this was it?

Jake: For me, I knew they were a local band… and they were my age. That was
really cool to me. So, when I met Alex I figured out we had a lot of the same
influences. I would say a festival we played called “Dumb Fest” is what really
got me into Punk music. I saw so many acts that I thought were awesome and I
started listening to it more. 

Pat: Alex and I always went to concerts together when we were younger. In
middle school we bonded over “Cage The Elephant” quite a bit. We have been
pretty aware of our influences and other things with each other for quite a

Alex: We didn’t really play Punk in “Videograve”, it wasn’t as “Punk” as what
we do now. But, just as we continued with the same lineup into a new band… just
goes to show that we grew into how we all approach music.

Jake: We found that Punk and the people surrounding it create such a… niche

That actually leads perfectly into my next question…
What are you guys seeing in the local DIY scene in Indianapolis/Central
Indiana… and in the Midwest as a whole?

Pat: There are just a lot of good bands in Indiana, man. The thing is there
isn’t a huge scene here, everyone knows each other. Musicians come out to other
musician’s shows. Everyone supports each other… and people outside of this area
are hearing it too. People know good stuff is coming out of here. Someone in
Birmingham, Alabama said to me, “Yo, man. Indiana has some good shit coming out
of it”. People are witnessing it.

Jake: There is a lot of stuff coming out of the Midwest. A lot of good punk,
specifically. But… Indiana Punk is Indiana Punk. I think we have hit the sweet
spot here. There’s always been a good Punk scene in Indiana.

Alex: Like The Zero Boys, The Coneheads, etc.

One of my best friends… her father is the drummer for
The Zero Boys. After learning that… it was a great introduction for me. Into
the sounds that have been coming out of here for a long time.

Continuing on… what’s the songwriting process
for you guys? How does that come about?

Alex: Pat and I write most of the songs. I’ll take parts of a song I have… or
what I think may be a complete song and let Pat run over it. Put his two cents
in. Then Jake and Reid add what they think sounds good with what we have
written so far. Adding their own sounds to it.

Jake: Sometimes we just play. We just play something and feel it out. Based
off of what Pat and Alex have already constructed.

Alex: We all respect each other as musicians. We all respect what we all can
do for the band.

Reid: I think we all channel each other and our inspirations very well. We
approach that very well. We utilize all of that to help make the best songs we
can. I personally take a lot from the likes of Devo and early 70’s punk. So I
kind of take that into how I work with our music.

Alex: I think it’s really cool that people can pick out our influences within
our songs.

Pat: At the end of it though, we aren’t those bands. We are our own entity.
We make it all our own.

Well said, gentleman. Anything else?

Alex: Listen to the tape.

Jake: Yep. Listen to the tape.

You can listen to “Psychographics” on The
Resource Network’s BandCamp here.

The Revolution According to grandson

The Revolution According to grandson

Sarah Beckford

June 8, 2018

When you first hear grandson’s music, it’s clear that each note is part of a story and the steps towards a reckoning. His music is raw, open, and honest, and though each song cuts to the heart, each song sparks thought and discussion. Over the past eight years, grandson, born Jordan Benjamin, has been making music that is distinct, to the point, and emotionally honest about our world today. Recently, I had a chance to speak with him about his music, our world, and his journey as an artist.

For grandson, music wasn’t a hobby nor was it a distant idea- but as he says, it was always a natural extension of who he is. At the heart of it, grandson is a storyteller, who blends genres like hip-hop, electronic, trap, and rock ‘n’ roll as the setting for the stories of his fans, the grandkids, as well as the climate of the greater world surrounding them. Stories are part of the driving force of his music, and each story has a moral and a point to it.

“From a songwriting standpoint, what inspires me is being a young person in what feels like a very critical juncture in the world, in Western culture. You know I think that the climate politically, and tension that is underlying so many different conflicts environmentally, societally- and how our relationship is to one another, it feels like there’s a real urgency there…The stories of these grandkids really inspire me to continue to write songs, the sorts of pain we all are dealing with, the sorts of vices we all turn to, and those stories shared with me by grandkids old and young really propels me to write the kind of music I write.”

With grandson, his music not only reflects the momentous times we are in, but essentially, the heart of his music is telling the stories of his fans, and the larger tapestry of experiences it makes up- and that responsibility in this time is something he doesn’t take for granted.

In speaking of music that is conscious of our nation and world, one can look at grandson’s music and see that he has something to say about the world, and he welcomes a discussion concerning the issues he sings of. In his songs like ‘thoughts and prayers,’ and ‘War,’ you can see that he isn’t afraid to speak of gun control, racism, and the need for peace. It is this boldness that sets his apart, and what keeps him going. And yes, it is this courageous honesty that is raw and electric, and it should be celebrated. Grandson doesn’t sing as someone who is unsure, but as an artist with an authority and drive to make a marked difference.

Inspired by other storytellers and from a number of genres, like Bill Withers, Bauer, Ray Charles, Nirvana, and Skrillex, grandson’s catalog echoes that of politically and socially conscious artists whose art was intentional in pointing out the setting it was made. “Most artists that stand the test of time are speaking on issues that are relevant to the time they were making their art… I think that it’s relevant, always, and I think that as long as there is rock and roll, there will be protest music.” Grandson makes protest music that echoes each of these influences, and their art can be heard in his music as he fuses these genres that form his sound. When one does make music as he does, it does open a larger conversation concerning the intersections between art and activism. As for those who disagree, he welcomes them to go to a live show, to witness the palpable energy, passion, and release that is shared between him and his fans.

But grandson’s music reaches beyond the story. He wants for there to be discussion, release, and for people to come together. But ultimately, it’s about sharing what’s changed his life and inspired him. “I want to inspire as many people as possible can with this life I have. I want to travel around the world, and affect people from all sorts of backgrounds, and I want to empower other people to find their voice, whether it’s running for office, starting a band, or just writing in a journal. These are the sorts of outlets that have changed my life, and all I could possibly want for my life is to provide other people with those tools to feel in control of their destiny, and I wanna rock out!”

As for those who want to make music, he offers his wisdom as well. “My biggest piece of advice would just be to figure out the why, of why they do what they do…You can find your team, you can find your family, but you need to first have to have that why.” For there to be impactful art, there must be an honest vision, and to stay honest, he advises to simply just be honest. And that in itself, that defined vision, in conjunction with passion and honesty, is a revolution all on its own.

grandson’s debut EP a modern tragedy vol. 1 arrives June 15 via Fueled By Ramen.

Meet Dallas Garage Rockers Kyoto Lo-Fi Maxwell…

Meet Dallas Garage Rockers Kyoto Lo-Fi

Maxwell Denari 

June 7, 2018

In a day and age like today, it is easy to stumble across artists and musicians online. It is a regular occurrence for the youth of today. Yet, even with the overly saturated environment that the Internet can provide with music and art – pure talent and energy can be uncovered. That is exactly the case with how I came across Dallas-based band Kyoto Lo-Fi.

Kyoto Lo-Fi exude sounds meshing between Garage, Punk and Blues Rock with their song “Sabotage” showcasing this blend exceptionally. “Sabotage” is featured on the band’s 2016 EP “Black Rainbow”. Overall, Kyoto Lo-Fi pull together a mass of influences and sounds that cooperate and contradict. Allowing for gritty, pulsating execution and slick, refined rhythms.

The group is made up of Nehuen on drums, Paul on bass, Gabriel on guitar and Nico on guitar and vocals. All of whom I had the privilege of conversing with after a practice session earlier this Spring. We conversed about influences, the formation of the band, struggles and things to look forward to.

Maxwell: To start it off… how’d you all meet and come to form the band?

Paul: Gabe and I met at a bar in Arlington, Texas.

Gabe: Essentially, I was hanging out with some of my friends and seeing another band at this place and I ended up conversing with Paul and he told me he played bass and it kind of went on from there. For a while, we had another bassist that was on his way out for a lack of better terms. So, that’s how Gabe joined and the first show we played with him was at SXSW.

Maxwell: So, where did the name Kyoto Lo-Fi come from?

Nico: We were struggling with some names for a while. We originally decided on “Modern Fuzz” but came to find out that name was taken like a week later. Kyoto Lo-Fi was the name of an album via a solo project of mine. So, we ended up opting for that name. In the beginning, nobody really liked it… but I guess it created its own image in a way.

Maxwell: Right on. Now, I had been talking to Nico prior to the interview about the house show scene… specifically in Denton, can you guys elaborate on your experiences a little bit? Has that grown in the last handful of years? Or since you guys have become a band?

Nehuen: I mean for Denton… it is definitely a part of the culture there. The house show scene has been around forever. The DIY scene is more prominent in Denton than it is in Dallas. I think we can all agree and say that Denton is more fun to play, overall. It’s definitely a “music” city. Dallas is more of an “everything” kind of city. In Denton… you go out there to check out bands and it’s a college town too. So, people are more inclined to go to house shows.

Maxwell: Sounds similar to Bloomington here in Indiana. It’s a college town. There are lots of artists and bands stationed down there. A handful of record labels too. The scene is really growing.

Nehuen: Yes, we have heard of Bloomington. For sure.

Maxwell: So, what have been some overall… inspirations for you guys as a band? What do you find yourselves listening to and taking into your own music?

Gabe: As far as personal tastes for me I like a lot of English stuff. Classic rock. The Smiths, The Beatles, David Bowie. I typically listen to a lot of older stuff. I gravitate towards anything from Motown to Country to R&B. I’m influenced by a wide range of sounds.

Nehuen: Well, Bloc Party’s former drummer Matt Tong has been a big inspiration… for my drumming. He plays really fast and has really good fills. I was never really into The Strokes as much. I was more into Interpol. But… Nico loves The Strokes so I dove into them more. I’ve been appreciating more pops type beats. Simple beats. That can be really really good. It gives the song taste. Phoenix is one of my favorite bands too. We have a large range of inspirations.

Maxwell: I understand. It’s good to listen to as much as you can. Take inspiration from whatever you can. There are so many sounds out there.

So, to kind of jump into the next one… what have been some of the biggest struggles you guys have encountered as a band? Whether it be from playing live or recording or writing new material.

Nehuen: I think one of the biggest ones was the whole bassist situation.

Nico: We were working our way up in the local scene and every so often whatever bassist we had at the time would drop out. So it was definitely a hindrance.

Nehuen: But… we would spend 3 months trying finding a bassist, teach him the parts… then start gigging again and the same thing would happen. Boom. Back to it again. It was a lot of personal stuff at times.

Gabe: There were a number of things. Just with past bassists… whether they didn’t see the musical vision, or we didn’t get along with them the best, or the level of dedication wasn’t there. Things like that.

Nico: However; when Paul came in it all started to click. We all vibed well together. We started to really get moving with this lineup.

Maxwell: At any point through all of this was there a time when you guys had doubts? Thinking that you should maybe give up on the idea of this band?

Gabe: I think… at times when you get lost in the back of your mind, everyone has doubts about things. As an artist… when you get into your head with crippling self-doubt it can be pretty hard. Though, you really have to think positively. Keeping up the inspiration versus the self-doubt.

Maxwell: You guys are doing it for the love of the music. It isn’t always going to be so easy. It’s not an easy path to go down. At least not all the time.

Paul: We have definitely all had to give each other pep talks. It just comes down to supporting each other and loving each other. Making it through.

Maxwell: Well said… and what is next for you guys?

Nico: Hopefully before the year ends… we should have a new project out. New material. Handful of things coming up this summer gig wise. Whenever the new project comes out we are planning on touring as much as possible.

Be sure to check out Kyoto Lo-Fi’s “Black Rainbows” – EP on all streaming services.

A chat with YIORGOS about influences, his new …

A chat with YIORGOS about influences, his new video, and the creative process

YIORGOS (yôr-gō) is an up and coming recording artist from Greece but he’s also a Boston native. He just recently released his debut single ‘What We Do’ via Village Records and also shared a video to go alongside it. The single is an addictive pop that merges soulful r&b song, you will have on repeat for a while. You should definitely keep a look out for his upcoming EP that will be in the coming months. We got to chat with him about his influences, the recording process, the future, and the music video. 

Which artists/bands have influenced you, or what inspires your music the most?

My style and influence has stemmed from so many different places, so it’s hard to pinpoint very specific people. Initially, when I started writing and performing, a lot of my songs resembled the singer-songwriter vibes of many YouTube artists I followed in middle school and early high school. But, my sound was always more R&B soul, taking aspects from artists like Stevie Wonder. Throughout high school, I became more influenced by Frank Ocean, Usher, Miguel, D’Angelo, and even John Legend.  In the end, though, I was inspired more so by singers and friends around me who all had something different and unique to offer to music. Many of the singers I’ve performed with in college have influenced and inspired my voice.  The music was more from artists but my singing style comes largely from the past 3 years and all the people I’ve sang within school. Whether it be slight tonal switches for the bridge of a song or certain runs in my higher register, I’ve taken to heart many small pointers and things that my peers have displayed and incorporated them into my singing to create what I feel is a really cool unique sound. Jamming with people of all different voice types, styles and genres have inspired me to find my own unique sound.

What was the recording process like for ‘What We Do’, how long did it take, and how did the idea come about?

What We Do took a while because we really had to play with what vibe we wanted to create. The chorus had been written almost a year before but to different chords. When Elie (my co-writer and producer) and I were listening to a beat he made, we realized that our very old idea for a song actually fit really well into the beat. From there we wrote verses to narrate the story that we felt the song and its energy really called for.  This process created a throwback hip-hop R&B inspired track that played with the late 90s and early 2000s music vibe that I had grown up being a huge fan of. After a few days of narrowing down lyrics and stylistic choices, we came up with our perfect version of the song.  We even revisited the song many months later and added some things to make it even better. I’m a firm believer in not fixing something if it isn’t broken, however, it is always productive to revisit work and see if it still evokes the same emotional response as it did the day you wrote it, months later.  

How would you describe your sound?

My sound for What We Do is more pop, which differs from most of my other work that will be dropping soon, which favors a more r&b kind of vibe. My sound right now is a blend of these two styles, pop and r&b/soul. I try and play with catchy easy-to-digest lines but always have something more complex going on behind them.  The majority of my work is more vibey, less pop and in your face, however, What We Do accomplishes both styles with its big beat but more chill chorus vocals. I want my music to make people feel something specific, whether it be a deeper connection to the lyrics and music or in this case with What We Do, just make people dance or bump to it with friends. You can quickly tell the vibes of each one of my songs when you hear them.

How has your sound evolved since you first started writing your own music/when did you start?

My sound evolved simply because of the tools I have at my disposal now. I used to write songs on guitar, ukulele or piano and they would end there. Now with production, there’s a whole myriad of options to select in order to make my sound as unique as possible. It evolved from singer-songwriter acoustic to more experimental r&b. We look at how we can take instruments and distort them and play with them to create unique sounds as often as possible. We also value the voice as an instrument, so beatboxing, vocal sampling, and layered effects are something we always sneak into my music to create a really unique looking session of tracks. Some of my songs have way too many tracks since ideas pop into my head randomly, however, we’ve been getting much more efficient and direct with our creative process. Something too foreign and strange can be dangerous so we always try and balance “cool and new” with “familiar and relatable”.  I wrote my first song in 4th grade on a piano but really started recording memos on my phone in high school.  It wasn’t until college where I began to put ideas into production.  

Are you planning on releasing more music this year?

I have an EP releasing in a few months!

What are your goals and where would you like to see this project go?

My goals as a musician are to see my music reach as many people as possible.  I want the people who listen to relate and share with friends and family because they want to.  This type of process has to start small and it did, however, the song is gaining traction and I do believe when enough people hear it the possibilities can be very exciting. I really would love to see my song on playlists and social media platforms so everyone has a chance to listen to the song.  In terms of final destination, I can’t quite say what will happen but I would love to see the song reach thousands of people or more!

The music video for ‘What We Do’ just came out last week – can you tell us a little about the process and the idea behind the video?

The process was super fun but also tiring. I had never done anything quite like it before so it was definitely an interesting experience. I loved every minute of shooting with Luke (the director) and his crew and really vibed with his vision. The idea behind the story of the video was this duality between light and dark and what happens in the dark, sort of this hidden romance between the two parties. I’ll leave the rest up to interpretation because there are multiple character-storylines the video can take but I value letting the viewers find what makes sense to them. The aesthetic was meant to be a very 90s throwback. The clothing, grain effects, snappy camera switching, dancing, etc, all tried to play into the vibe of the area that the song was paying homage to.

Who are your favorite new artists/bands?

Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Daniel Caesar, SZA, Brockhampton, Mac Ayres, and Sabrina Claudio. All of these artists are super creative and have really been pushing me to release more music.

Kevin Krauter talks debut record, experiences …

Kevin Krauter talks debut record, experiences in music and modern influences

Maxwell Denari

May 2, 2018

Kevin Krauter has been an active force within music for some time now. In the past handful of years, he has been apart of the shimmering Lo-Fi Pop Rock band Hoops. Though, whilst being a full member of that group he has showcased his natural singer-songwriter aptitude via his solo material. From his “Magnolia” and “Changes” EPs Krauter displays such emotive and personal perspectives in his lyrical content… as well as providing extremely evoking instrumentation. In consideration of these aspects it is obvious the work he curates is of such a veteran quality – surely a quality the likes of Neil Young would have to tip his hat to.

Having combined themes and techniques of Bossa Nova in addition to swirling Pop Rock and whispering Folk Rock ballads on his past releases, Krauter has continued his excellence with his first two singles “Rollerskate” and “Keep Falling in Love” off of his upcoming debut record “Toss Up”.

I sat down with Krauter recently to discuss his debut record, his experiences within the music industry, his upbringing, and his modern musical influences.

Maxwell Denari: I suppose it works to start from the beginning… with that being said, what was the first instrument you started to play and did that specifically spark a passion for you early on?

Kevin Krauter: The first instrument(s) I began playing were the drums, around about when I was like 10 years old… I got my first drum set for Christmas. My older brother played guitar… he’s six years old than me… I have six siblings, I’m the middle of seven.

MD: Oh wow.

KK: Yeah, we were all home-schooled and we had a ton of free time on our hands. So, my older brother and I would jam a lot… so we would play a lot of Red Hot Chilli Pepper songs. He showed me a lot of music that he listened to and that‘s how I got into listening to music pretty heavy. Playing drums was definitely like my first foray into having an instrument that I was confident in playing. Really, ever since I started listening to music with my brother I thought, “Man, bands are so sick… I wanna be in one so bad.” I kind of already had a vision of me playing music as the thing I did, ya know… from an early age.

When I got a bit older I started playing a lot of worship music, after I had picked up playing the guitar. I think that helped in a lot of ways, as I played in the worship band at my church in high school. I played drums every week in that band too… pretty consistently for about four years which gave me a lot of experience of actually playing in a band.

MD: It seemed to have been very formative.

KK: Yeah, very formative as far as music is concerned.

MD: You talked about how your brother had a significant influence on your music taste… but did your parents contribute to that at all?

KK: Not really… but, when I was pretty young myself and my siblings were involved in community theatre together. Like my whole family, really. It was always apart of our family, doing music related stuff. So being on stage and performing from an early age got me used to doing that shit… and got me into performing and putting myself out there creatively.

MD: What are some specific artists or bands that your brother showed you that made you think “I wanna do that” or rather… ended up implanting some kind of inspiration onto you?

KK: Man, I was definitely into a lot of early Pop Punk.

MD: I feel that man, like New Found Glory and stuff like that.

KK: Yup. Big into that. I suppose a lot of the cooler stuff my brother first showed me were bands like The Shins, Wilco and Modest Mouse… stuff like that. It’s kind of all over the place. I used to watch a lot of MTV and VH1. I used to watch VH1 music video hour like every single day.

MD: Expanding off of that… who are some artists that you’ve taken inspiration from in more recent years?

KK: I got really into Folky stuff in high school. You know like Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear. Kind of contemporary Indie music… with a Folky tilt. That kind of grabbed me. My older brother also got me into Simon and Garfunkel when I was a bit younger. But, nowadays there is definitely still a lot of that. Especially with Nick Drake and John Martyn. I listen to a lot of Brazilian music and Japanese music. Like… Caetano Veloso, João Gilberto, and Gal Costa as far as Brazilian music is concerned. In terms of Japanese music… Tatsuro Yamashita, Taeko Ohnuki and stuff like City Pop… 70s and 80s Japanese stuff. The most contemporary influence I can think of is Frank Ocean.

MD: The dude is an absolute genius.

KK: Honestly, all of my friends were into channel Orange in high school… and I never really gave it a chance. But then Blonde came out and I was like “fuck”… you know. “Mind blown”. Just absolutely changed the game for me. I’ve noticed a lot of what I’ve been doing lately has been… heavily influenced by Frank.

MD: How have you seen such influences transfer into your own songwriting? Whether it be solo or not. As you have shared a decent amount of vocal and lyrical duties within Hoops.

KK: For a long time… having done musical theatre and choir, I was used to singing in a trained and classical way. So, I grew up knowing how to sing properly. Which, I was kind of embarrassed about. So I tried to downplay my voice in a lot of the songs I wrote… as I didn’t want it to be the focus. I think more recently, especially with the new album… the stuff I’ve been making since then has been way more vocal heavy. Way more stripped down in terms of instrumentation in order for my vocal performances to be sort of a main focus. As that is something I have realized I am confident in. It is something I want to encompass more. And that is something Frank does a lot. His production is so minimal but his vocal delivery is the cornerstone of everything.

MD: Within that… how do you take whatever inspirations you have at the time and make them into original work? What’s that process like?

KK: I think for a long time that was something that would trip me up a lot. As the act of writing music and creating something is such a personal experience and it feels so far removed from everything. But… I’ve had to recognize that it kind of makes sense that things can sound similar. Between artists. That’s just a reality. Instead of trying super hard to be original… it’s like understanding that my experience with writing and creating music is infinitely different than someone else’s. Even if myself and others have listened to very similar music… my response to it is infinitely different. The more honest I am with myself, the more love I have for myself and the more confident I am with myself… the originality will come along on its own.

MD: And the more your work will be a reflection of yourself.

KK: Right. I am ultimately a unique being… so whatever comes naturally out of that will be naturally original and organic.

MD: So, I guess I should ask… how do you come about writing songs? How do they take shape? Do you get ideas more sporadically or do you find time in the day to sit down and try and put something on paper?

KK: I definitely don’t have a schedule or routine to do that. It’s a little sporadic. Kinda depends if I’m in the mood to sit down and finish a song. What it looks like at times though is… I’ll get something in my head or be playing along with something and try to jot things down as I go along with that. To collect as much as possible in that specific instance. Like, if I have a melody I’ll whistle it into my iPhone notes or something… and if I have an idea for lyrics I’ll just jot them down like a little poem. If I’m struggling to come up with something I’ll go back and try to re-work some older material… to try and see if I can fit it into this new idea.

MD: You have written a lot of new material for your debut record… which is coming out June 15th. How was the approach of writing and recording your LP different from recording your two previous EPs?

KK: It was kind of a big step. I had signed with Bayonet Records before I had any material written… for the new album. They had heard my two EPs and said they wanted to do an album with me. So, I had to go about writing an album. Which was pretty daunting… as I didn’t really have the fullest amount of material for a record at that point.

MD: But Bayonet was the kickstarter.

KK: Yeah, for sure. Definitely having something to stress me into it helped. I was still touring around with Hoops when I was writing heavily for this album. I would try to take advantage of whatever moment I could… where I had a burst of creativity. And when I got into the studio with Ben Lumsdaine… we were pretty merciless during the mixing process. Really cutting the fat from the recordings. That was the great thing about working with Ben… he gets into the zone very hard. Overall, being that self-critical in the studio wasn’t something I was super used to. You know… with my old EPs it was more about “sounds good enough”… so it was nice to get really nitpicky.

MD: So to kind of close things off on this… what’s more to come for you? Even beyond the record?

KK: New songs. I’ve already been playing a song live that isn’t on the record. Definitely thinking about a new EP. But overall… new songs. New songs soon… after the album.

“Toss Up”, Kevin Krauter’s debut record is out June 15th via Bayonet Records. You can catch Kevin Krauter live this summer at a handful of dates listed below.

6.19 – Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups

6.20 – Washington, DC – Songbyrd

6.21 – Brooklyn, NY – Baby’s All Right

6.22 – Philadelphia, PA – PhilaMOCA

6.24 – Pittsburgh, PA – The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls

6.26 – Detroit, MI – El Club

6.27 – Grand Rapids – The Pyramid Scheme

6.28 – Chicago, IL – Schubas

7.14 – Indianapolis, IN – The Tube Factory

Dex meets Dexter: The deserved household name …

Dex meets Dexter: The deserved household name project of the year

Brian Rhatigan 

Illinois rapper Dexter Gore Jr., better known as “Famous Dex”, released his first full-length studio on April 6. The highly anticipated album was greeted with much acceptance, but that doesn’t mean Dex met some uncertainties along the way. I was able to ask Dex some questions about the road leading to his album, and what made the album what it really is.

Most people know Dex from his background in the SoundCloud rap scene, and some would even say (including himself) that he made the scene popular. “First off, I started this wave [of SoundCloud rap]” says Dex. On the contrary, even though he may be one the most well known “SoundCloud rappers”, he doesn’t give himself credit for actually defining SoundCloud rap. “I don’t think I changed what it means to be a SoundCloud rapper, I just got bigger, my music reaches more people than ever before.”

Prior to the release of his album, Dex released a single that broke into the viral realm significantly fast. ‘Japan’ was not only applauded for its lyricism and beat, but also for the aftermath of the song. ‘Japan’ was actually translated into an Instagram “challenge”, started by Roy Purdy. The challenge is to pretty much see who can do the specific dance to the song the best. “My boy Roy Purdy started that wave” says Dex. “That was all him, so I’m grateful everyone else is picking up and it’s spreading like crazy.”

One connection between SoundCloud rappers and mainstream success is features. Many growing rappers have worked with mainstream rappers to get their big break. For example, Lil Pump has worked with artists like Chief Keef and 2 Chainz. Dex, on the other hand, has worked with artists like ASAP Rocky and Wiz Khalifa (he also has an online relationship with Erykah Badu). “I love them both, but Wiz is my favorite,” he says. “He told me to put down the lean and focus on my music. That’s exactly what I’m doing!”

After the breakthrough of so many rappers from the SoundCloud scene, many are wondering who will be the next big thing to hit a big break. Well, according to Dex, that just may be Jay Critch. “Nobody got the wave and bars in my generation like Jay Critch… nobody can touch his talent.” Dex also says to be on the lookout for NBA Youngboy. Fortunately, NBA was recently released from jail, and maybe like Kodak, will be able to cook up a great project out of his experience behind bars.

‘Dex meets Dexter’ was released on April 6th and in my opinion, is set up to be one of the greatest rap album debuts of the decade, and definitely one of the best projects of the year. At this rate, if Dex’s flow continues to grow, it can only be uphill from here.

A conversation with Haunted Summer ahead of th…

A conversation with Haunted Summer ahead of their show at The Moroccan Lounge in LA

Molly Adams 

March 11, 2018

Haunted Summer are an LA-based duo composed husband and wife Bridgette Eliza Moody, and John Seasons. In 2017 they released their debut LP ‘Spirit Guides’ and will be back with new material soon. The band has just wrapped up their North American tour, and we caught up with them before their hometown show at The Moroccan Lounge. 

Interview has been edited for clarity

How has tour been so far?

Bridgette Moody: It has been amazing -– it’s been a lot of new and exciting towns we’ve never been to and I can’t really say we walked away from any place feeling like we didn’t get something out of it

Did you have a favorite stop this tour?

BM: New Orleans kind of just blew our minds – everything has been really great but that town is just something special and we really can’t wait to go back there

John Seasons: There are a lot of cool college towns that had a lot of heart and just really brought it and really made us feel great both on and off the stage. They really brought the band into their community and let us stay with them and stuff like that. Madison, Nashville, and Lawrence for my top three.

What’s your favorite part of touring?

BM: Probably getting free food at cool venues – aside from playing music of course. Just getting to travel really is such a gift and kind of getting airdropped into a place that’s probably going to have some cool like-minded people.

JS: Travelling for your art is really special. We had never done something that long before. We had only done three weeks – this has been a three month thing. Iit was pretty awesome and eye-opening just bringing your music to different people every single night.

For a lot of bands a hard part of touring is leaving their partner behind – what’s it like to tour with your significant other?

BM: It’s always been something we’ve been really grateful to do because I know I’d go crazy if he was on the road for months without me. It’s a lot of work too but just knowing that you have somebody in it and willing to make the ultimate sacrifices because it’s hard – it’s hard being in a band and just finding enough like-minded people who want to make that sacrifice with you. It’s nice to know at least we’re locked in on this.

What’s working and writing together like?

JS: It’s very collaborative – we always just bring stuff to the table. It’s kind of like one person starts it and the other one finishes it and sometimes either of us just bring a whole song but what the other one adds to it is what brings it into the Haunted Summer realm.

Does your music come from life experience?

BM: It’s a subject we can’t seem to get away from

JS: People have said it before but I just feel like it really is just a diary entry like a scope into a moment in our lives or an outside perspective

What artists and bands influence and inspire you?

JS: We both have a lot of influences but something that brought us together was our love for David Bowie, Bjork, and the Flaming Lips but we listen all kinds of stuff – I just bought a Merle Haggard tape

BM: That’s something I’ve always appreciated about John – we can listen to a variety of things and appreciate the heart and the melody and the soul of any kind of music. That’s really all it’s about

Do either of you have a band that you like that the other one can’t stand?

JS: Oh yeah – I’m not going to say I hate them but I don’t like Death Cab for Cutie and she does.

BM: I mean I was a 14 year old girl once

JS: I’m sure she can tell you stuff that I like that she doesn’t

BM: I’m pretty open

JS: I don’t think you like Dr. Dog and I love Dr. Dog

BM: I don’t not like Dr. Dog I just don’t love Dr. Dog

You have a really unique sound – did you stumble upon that or did you have it in your head and work towards it?

BM: I think it’s something we have always dreamed of making but never had the capacity or the partnership to really make it happen. That’s something that always surprised us when we did start making music together just for fun it was like, “this is a sound we’ve always been attracted to!” But it felt really organic – we didn’t really try to sound like anything in particular. It’s just like what comes out of us based on a plethora of influences and just wanting to explore and being open to ideas and not really trying to run the show.

JS: It’s something that I’ve envisioned for a long time but stumbled upon organically with her because she helped me kind of zone in my pedal addiction to a certain degree. And there’s something to be said for the idea that you can envision something but the slight changes that happen along the way you end up allow you to come across something that’s more special than a sound that you come across on your own.

How would you describe your sound?

BM: In my head it just always feels like a jazz standard at the base of it and with sounds of space around it. Just trying to make it atmospheric but down to earth as well.

JS: I feel like it’s psychedelic and it’s modern but you can hear the influences through time. Psychedelic but also throwing out the rulebook –– that’s kind of the Haunted Summer sound. If it works for us then that’s fine – it doesn’t have to be 100% correct.

What are you most looking forward to on the rest of your tour and coming home?

BM: The rest of the tour is going to be really fun – we’ve been to SXSW before but it’s our first year as an official showcase member and that’s always such an honor. Treefort has been a festival we’ve been wanting to play for years and we’ve got a lot of homies going – it’ll be a blast. But coming home will be nice – I miss my dog.

JS: Yeah even when you have your loved one with you, you leave family behind – you get homesick sometimes but if you really enjoy the road the road gives a lot back and it makes it even more special when you get back to your family and dog.

Check them out where you find music and follow their journey on social media!