Category: features

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!

Heaven talks sophomore album, reflects on orig…

Heaven talks sophomore album, reflects on origins

Sarah Beckford 

It’s no question that the music scene in New York City is thriving, and Heaven, a dream-pop band that hails from none other than Brooklyn, New York, serves as proof. I spoke with the band and talked to them about how they came to be, their sophomore album, and more.

Heaven began when lead vocalist Matt Sumrow met drummer Mike Jones after playing with Adam Franklin, lead singer of Swervedriver. After that venture, they started Heaven. As for their style, Heaven is a psych-rock/dream-pop band, and can likely be compared to synth-heavy sounds of I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, a similar sounding duo fronted by Dallon Weekes. Though this comparison can be made, Heaven has a very distinct sound, influenced by a number of artists.

“Early on in my musical life I was super into 1960’s music, specifically the British Invasion, and I still am…Then in high school, I discovered the new sounds out of England, the shoegaze bands and that stuff still to this day is my biggest influence.  I loved Spiritualized, the early Verve stuff, Slowdive, MBV, Swervedriver etc…Mikey Jones, who I started Heaven with, his influences comes from a more 80’s post-punk background. He brought a love of New Order, Love and Rockets, and Echo and the Bunnymen to the band. I feel like the merging of these two styles is what defines us. Also, when we both moved to NYC in the early 2000s, a new thing was happening in NY, bands like Interpol, The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs…. a new rock and roll spirit that was our generation’s thing.  It was great to move to the city right when that was flowering.”  

With such a great plethora of legends playing a part in their sound, it’s also hard to forget how much a role New York City plays in their music and sonic style as well. “We want it to be immediate, dirty, ethereal and otherworldly just like this city. But also, it is tough being in a band here, just logistically. Being able to afford a place to write, rehearse, and record, and getting your gear around town. Or just finding the headspace to create. It can feel crazy to be doing this here. But at the same time, you have to find the happy medium between the things that makes the art happen. You need the inspiration a place like NYC gives you.”

With all of this, the Brooklyn group are clearly set to break out of the bounds of genre and sound, and their latest single, ‘Never the Moment’ proves that. As for the inspiration and meaning of the song, Matt says this- “It’s about the feeling of longing in life and in love, and how heartbreak is intense and visceral in the moment, but also fleeting. It will go away (usually) and when it does you’ll look back on it wishing you could tell yourself the pain will go away. It’s really about the wisps and winds of feeling that surround love and wanting love and waiting for it, and then being on the other side of it too.”

Now, Heaven is ready to continue in doing bigger and better things. On March 2nd, they’ll be releasing their sophomore record, ‘All Love is Blue’, via Little Cloud records. Heaven’s knack for making solid songs that are catchy as they are artistic is nothing new. In 2013, they released their debut album, ‘Telepathic Love’. On’ All Love is Blue’, though, they set out to push themselves forward sonically in a way they’ve never done before, and it will be a little different from what we’ve previously heard, and the band has used a different approach in instrumentation to give their sound more depth. ‘All Love is Blue’ is definitely different from their previous material, but it’s a kind of different that is positive, with its own special flair to it.

“There are some darker moods to this record, although it still remains overall positive, I feel like.  It’s about half positive, half dark, I’d say. All the songs in some way or another are vignettes on love, tiny stories or impressions either hopefully, happy, or darker and more ridden with heartache.  All of them infused with a sense of longing.  Also, someone recently commented that the record is really elemental, and… it’s like the elements of the earth and life, dark and light, hope and dread, but ultimately hopeful,” says Matt.  

Ultimately, Heaven would like for their music to have a purpose and have the same weight that they felt listening to music when they were younger. “I think ultimately, we want to transport people to another place. For me, the best music does that, has the ability to freeze the space you’re in and move you somewhere else. For us, it’s creating a sonic landscape that is something new… At the end of the day, you hope you leave a lasting impression that people can take with them and remember, years later looking back and remembering the feeling your music gave them, just like all the bands I love have done for me,” says Matt.

As for what to look forward to, fans can get ready to see Heaven live, as they will be touring this new record. “We’re excited to get out and promote this album, get to play some places we haven’t been before,” they say. In addition, they’re also eager to start working on their third album as well.    

Heaven’s sophomore LP ‘All Love is Blue’ will be available on March 2nd.

Vern Matz break their debut EP down track by t…

Vern Matz break their debut EP down track by track

Vern Matz are an Ivy League indie rock trio composed of Danny Belgrad, Michael Lituchy, and Noah Silvestry. They’re all current students at Yale University. Earlier this month they released their self-titled debut EP that was created while roadtripping around New Haven and Philadelphia. Their coming of age EP blends folk and rock together. Vern Matz have run down what their 6 track EP is all about for us.

Earthboy

A whacked dialogue between a future and past self and an early expression of Danny’s frustrations with health issues. Earthboy is your long lost former self, the little kid that you want to be, instead of this overly wound up adult-like thing. It also plays like a love song – a childish plea to stop fighting and stay with each other. As their first elemental child, Earthboy is also about world building. We step into an EP whose universe is a loose derivative of our own, marred in familiar emotions while retaining a sense of novelty.

Shelby Park

The fan favorite and an ode to the Martian Chronicles, Shelby is an amalgamation of everything that Vern does on the record. A love song, a nostalgia piece, and loose fan fiction, it toes the line between indie aggression and mellow ballad.

Operator

The underdog and an example of the band’s obsession with the glockenspiel. It’s the fastest and the most fun of the bunch. Listen close to hear Noah rattling his keys as percussion.

Trampolines

The tearjerker and the band’s first song ever. It’s extra textured and even has strings. Trampolines continues the use of nostalgia as style, looking back upon youth in a wistful longing. Underneath it all is a story of love and loss; it makes you wonder, “is this a breakup record?”. Plus, cool piano chords, reversed drums, and “Jonny Smash” polychorus guitar. Spooky.

Motions

The band was listening to a lot of Pavement. Danny gets real literal about his headache problems and is surrounded by 90s sounding electric guitars and about 12 different keyboards. A continuation of the band’s affinity for adding minute long sections to close their songs.


Iceboy

Fully realized in pitch black at 2am, this one is pretty straight up about being lonely. On an EP that has nostalgia, warmth, playfulness, love, and loss, the band leaves us with a sense of emotional lethargy instead of triumph. It is distinctly the end of something, but the band clearly hasn’t quite come to terms with that ending. Till next time.

Manchado talks debut album, individuality, and…

Manchado talks debut album, individuality, and future plans

Sarah Beckford 

“Hey! I’m here”, says Manchado, as he walks in. His outfit serves as stylish armor against a New York City winter, though his hair, a faded blue, still echoes the warmth of summer slightly fading into fall. We’re standing in Music Inn World Instruments, more commonly known as the Music Inn, a music store in the West Village. 

The Music Inn stands on West 4th Street, and if you walk too quickly past the block it’s on, you’ll miss it. There’s history here, and there are stories everywhere- from the golden harmonium on the floor that looks like a transplant from heaven, to the harps and violins hanging from the ceiling. The shelves boast music from times past, many of the records predating young music aficionados like myself. It’s here in this store that Manchado found a home-every Wednesday at nine PM, at the Music Inn’s open mics.

Manchado, 22, originally hails from Bogota, Colombia, a city which he describes as not being particularly filled with music, unlike the countryside. He credits MTV and the early and late 2000s era as a catalyst for his sound and aesthetic.  “MTV was definitely a big inspiration for me, growing up- I think that’s where I get a lot of ideas for my music videos, and just like my sound in general-it’s very inspired by that time period of early 2000, late 2000s-MTV era.” This era, where so many artists found inspiration through bands and singers from a variety of genres, reflects some of the inspiration for Manchado’s recently released debut album, Pegasus.

At eighteen years old, Manchado moved from Colombia to New York to pursue music. This period in his life of transitioning from culture to culture and finding himself, is what he credits as the inspiration for the album. “This is album is pretty much me finding myself, finding my strength, my identity, and my “wings”- that’s why the album is called Pegasus.”

Identity is major theme of the album, so we spoke about individuality, and how that plays a role in his music. “In my perspective, it’s what makes the music sounds the way it is. My character, and the things that I like, the collection of the things that you’ve liked, I think that’s really what individuality is. We’re all kind of different, everyone is their own individual. The collection of all our experiences and the place that we grew up in, and the things that we’ve liked, and everything surrounding us. I think all of those factors add up.”

This definition of individuality, especially as it relates to one’s circumstances, is something that Manchado explores on his song ‘Free as Fire’. In the song, Manchado talks about your current situation doesn’t determine your identity and who you really are. This message is especially important and speaks volumes about how we sometimes allow ourselves to forget that we are capable of much more than we realize. “It’s very easy for you to think that where you are right now, determines who you are,” Manchado says. “But that’s not true. I feel like you’re able to go beyond that, like where your heart is and your intention, what you do- and I think that’s why the song is called Free as Fire.”

This message is part of what Manchado wants people to understand from his music and artistry, especially on this debut project. “I think what I want people to get from the album is to not have expectations towards life, and just do what you want to do, and be who you want to be, regardless of what you think you’re going to get out of it.” He takes his own experiences and personality and translates into music to communicate a message much greater than what is first impressed.

So, what can we expect in the future for Manchado? He wants to write more, and says that he would like to release another album by next year, in addition to creating more visuals, and even touring- which he admits isn’t the easiest as an independent artist. Despite that, he wants to continue to reach people positively with his music. “I want for it to reach people, for it to affect people’s lives and make them able to get better and do better in their lives. I think that’s why I started writing music-music is a reflection-it’s helped me in my life. I think that’s what music has done for me- get through life and learn about situations and become a better person.”

We had a chat with Demo Taped, an up and coming artist to look…

We had a chat with Demo Taped, an up and coming artist to look out for 

Adam Alexander, who goes by Demo Taped is a 19-year-old Atlanta based artist that has already released various singles, and an EP titled Heart. Adam started making music early on and began producing music in his bedroom with Garageband when he was 9. Demo Taped has also toured with the likes of WET and was recently picked to remix tracks for Sylvan Esso. His latest single Insecure (listen here) was released in September, it features his dad on bass and an organ recorded in his grandfather’s church. Demo Taped will be releasing an EP in 2018.

When did you start making music, and what made you start?

I started making music pretty early on. My parents had me taking piano lessons at age four. I grew up going to my grandfather’s church every Sunday and watching my dad plays bass in the band. He really introduced me to the musicians he grew up listening to and I really didn’t branch out and listen to many new artists for a while. After piano, my parents bought me a guitar and that’s when I started listening to Jimi Hendrix. I was maybe eight years old at this point. I was really kind of this outsider kid that didn’t quite fit in but I had friends. I was constantly told I “didn’t sound Black” and was made fun of for not being super knowledgeable about Rap and Hip Hop. I think that’s why I was really drawn to Hendrix. Whenever I was made fun of for listening to rock and folk music, I would talk about Hendrix and no one could say anything. I also read up on the genre more and started to point to the many black pioneers that made rock and roll possible. I felt normal when I listened to his music and so I started listening to the words more and eventually started writing. My parents bought me my first computer when I was nine and from there I started making things in Garageband.

Has the Atlanta music scene influenced you?

I’d say It’s influenced my mentality. Everyone is working hard in Atlanta. The art scene is thriving. You kind of see the work ethic that others have, and you’re forced to step back and reevaluate your process and how much time you’re spending on your art.

Where does the name Demo Taped come from?

There was a point in time where I was looking up different labels and how the whole process of sending in demos worked. I realized it was pretty much a dead process and a lot of demos/submissions probably get tossed. I wanted to take something associated with not being heard/having no voice (a demo tape) and make it my name and my voice.

Has music helped you overcome depression and anxiety?

Music helps me for sure. When I write your feelings, fears, and questions down, I feel better. Getting thoughts out of your head and voicing them is important. I’m oddly more comfortable expressing my deepest feelings in a song than in a conversation.

Lyrically, what is your latest single Insecure about?

Insecure is about the mind playing tricks on itself. It’s about the fear of making your feelings for someone known because your insecurities are holding you back. Sometimes, I let my view of myself stop me from even trying to initiate a potentially good relationship.

What was the recording process like for Insecure, how long did it take, and how did the idea come about?

I was in NY for three days working with YEBBA. She provided background vocals. Go listen to her song “Evergreen”. It will change you. Anyway, we were in the studio just talking about anxiety and different parts of it and we ended up talking about Insecurities. I pretty much just started talking about how I stop myself from trying in a romantic situation because I make myself believe that no one could be interested in me. We talked about it more and I started to see it’s a universal thing. From there, I recreated a sample I got from Frank Dukes with YEBBA and Pete Cafarella on keys. At this point, I had the idea for what the song should be about, but I was really focused on production. One night I called Ben Abraham, who is an incredible songwriter, and we sent melody and lyrical ideas back and forth via Voice Memos and wrote the song. After New York, I came back to Atlanta and worked out of my bedroom studio to finish the track. I recorded my dad on Bass. James Barrett Jr., who did live drums for the song, sent me several different passes of drum recordings and I arranged those. The last thing the track needed was organ. I ended up going to my grandfather’s church with Paul Anderson and we recorded the organ there, on the Hammond B3.

I really like the artwork for Insecure, and all the other tracks you have released do you design it, or are you involved in that process?

Thank you! The artwork for Insecure was designed by the incredibly talented Savana Ogburn. We’re on the same wavelength, I feel. I’ll tell her a weird vague idea and she’ll take it and fully flesh it out and make it beautiful. Big shout out to her!  All the artwork before Stay, I made personally. I love the visual medium so I’ll always be involved in some way.

How has your sound evolved since you released your debut EP Heart in 2015?

I’d say that I’m just exploring. I’ll always be exploring. The thing about Heart that most people don’t know is that it was completely and totally meant for one person. I wasn’t going to release it. I was very influenced by artists I was listening to at the time. With this new EP, I kind of sequestered myself. I didn’t listen to many artists and when I did, It was older music. I feel that this upcoming EP truly represents me, my thoughts, and the sounds I enjoy.

What can we expect from your EP coming out later this year? Is it finished?

The EP is done. 🙂 It will be out early 2018.

Who are your favorite new artists?

Really digging Steve Lacy, Standing On the Corner, Billie Eilish, Rex Orange County, YEBBA (Big shoutout), Wafia (Also Big shoutout), and a bunch more. So much good music right now.