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Artist Spotlight Campus Events Interview

Interview with Charlie Burg

Charlie Burg is a singer, songwriter, and producer who released his first mixtape in 2015 when he was in college. After transferring from Denison University to Michigan State, he finally landed on Syracuse University to study music industry. From there, he released a series of extended plays throughout his time in University. Originally from Michigan, he now resides in Brooklyn NY where he dropped his debut album Infinity Tall (2022). Cinematic and youthful, Charlie Burg seamlessly transports listeners from one point to another with his pastel-shaded, storytelling lyrics. The curiosity and exploration that exists in his music is shown on his album art – which he creates himself. His personable whim showed in his performance at Colorado College, students still fan over his amazing show and charming personality a week later.

M: So Charlie Burg from Detroit Michigan, tell me a little bit about yourself, what is there to know about what has led you to where you are today? Tell me about your childhood and hometown and its influence on your music today.

C: Well, I grew up in a suburb about 20 minutes outside of the city. Detroit has a really rich music history that a lot of people don’t think about. Electronic dance music started in Detroit, techno and hip hop too. J Dilla is a producer that really influenced my production style. I grew up listening to Motown soul records that my dad would play: temptations, algorithm and Marvin Gaye, the classics. I think it just kind of seeps into my blood. 

M: What is the first piece of art you remember falling in love with and do you believe it takes shape in your music today?

C: I think one of the first records that really impacted me was “Parachutes” by Coldplay. Their first record was really great and solid all the way through. It taught me vulnerability in songwriting. I can’t remember the name of this painting, but another piece is a Spanish painting by Juan Mero. It has this really profound shade of blue that when I saw that blue, I thought to myself,  this is the feeling that I’d like to evoke with my music. And then I made Blue Mosaic which was my first record and I have a tattoo of it. 

M: Is blue your favorite color?

C: No my favorite color is actually either orange or forest green.

M: No way, mine is that shade of green and orange too…but what type of orange?

C: I like a burnt orange, something warm and passionate and loud.

M: We’re the same!

M: When did you make your first song and can you talk about its creative process? 

C: So art history is a favorite subject of mine. I love art history. And I have a song called Art History Part One which I wrote after I took an art history class. And Art History Part Two exists too. *Proceeds to ask to look at an art history book that someone close by is reading*

M: A lot of your online presence highlights Ralph Waldo Emerson as a major influence to you, can you speak on this and how his wisdom has impacted both your art and personal life? 

C: Yeah so it’s funny. In the early days of a music career you will reference one thing and then news outlets will fixate on that thing until you give them another thing to fixate on…I was gifted a Ralph Waldo Emerson collection of essays by my father when I was working on some EPs. There was this line that I read that said “a blood of the violet,” I think that was one of the names of the of the poems. And so I named an EP, One, Violet. And it was just kind of this conceptual drive that felt right to me. But yeah, I haven’t read Ralph Waldo Emerson in like five years so I don’t have much to say about him anymore but at that time, he resonated with me.

M: One, Violet, yes that brings me to my next question. You have a three series album that was released over a three year time span: One, Violet; Two, Moonlight; Three, Fever. Can you talk about these albums and why you decided to part them the way you did? 

C: I’m obsessed with trilogies for some reason. It just feels like a very perfect way to tell a story. 1. 2. 3. But when I put out One, Violet, and I’ve never mentioned this in an interview before so you are getting some exclusive content, I did not have a name or a concept for it. About a week before it dropped, I said, Okay, I need a name. I need a name. I have more songs that I want to put out, but they’re not ready so I’m just gonna give myself some sort of framework to release more projects; and so I named it One, Violet. A year later, I had enough songs for two. So I didn’t actually know how many I was doing or what the other ones were called. I basically set myself up for long form concepts. I used those three projects as an opportunity to explore my production. I moved away from the guitar, rock and roll, live in Peter’s attic and I dove into my computer. Those are my computer projects. 

M: On Spotify you have a playlist that is called “everyone is talented” where you feature music that people send to you — tell me a little bit more about the nature and philosophy of this playlist. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2W0NgEJvPhszTI1oaFDOVq?si=7a84183c82544c0d 

C: Yeah, um, gosh. In a span of a few weeks, I got a few songs sent to me by different musicians on Instagram. I realized that a lot of my followers make music themselves so I made a public playlist, where I had people send me their songs over Instagram. I put them in there and just wanted to give people a platform that usually didn’t have a platform. I really enjoy the playlist and listen to all the songs. 

M: Your tour is coming to an end at the end of the month, what are your plans for when you get off the road? 

C: I am going to hole up in my Brooklyn apartment and not leave New York for months. I was actually thinking of doing a week of silence because I am around people everyday all the time. I heard one of my friends is doing this and I don’t know, I think that’d be really cool. I would just be with my plants that I’m excited to see. My favorite is my monstera that my friend gave me about three years ago.

Rapid Fire Round: 

M: Who are some of your inspirations both musically and non musically? 

C: Prince, that’s it….non musically Joan Didion. 

M: What is a philosophy or quote you live by? 

C: Don’t be afraid to say yes to things.

M: What is a new hobby, interest, or skill you have picked up recently?

C: I’d say like… fricken painting. I use acrylics and watercolor. 

M: What is your astrological sign?

C: I am a Virgo, I don’t really believe in it but it is a fun thing to talk about. 

M: If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

C: Paris, France. 

M: What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

C: Mint cookies and cream.

M: What type of sandwich would you be and why?

C: I would be a turkey panini with monster cheese. 

M: What is your guilty pleasure?

C: Dark chocolate.

M: If you had to name this chapter of your life what would it be?

C: Margo because that is my old dog. 

M: What is something you have been doing that brings you joy?

C: Reading by Joan Didion plays it as it lays. It’s dramatic. I like drama, I like the dichotomies. I like to write in a journal too but I don’t think that brings me joy, it can be painful. I only focus on the bad things and get depressed. I want to do pottery. 

Charlie Burg’s Infinitely Tall, Available on Spotify and Apple Music
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Artist Spotlight Interview

An Interview With Seiji Oda

Seiji Oda is a rapper, singer/songwriter, and producer from Oakland, California. He began producing and creating music in high school. His big break hit when Seiji and his brother Nathaniel, or Lil Ricefield, released their viral hit “Trapanese,” a song that poked fun at asian stereotypes and referenced countless anime and other Japanese pop culture over a Seiji-produced beat. The song was remixed by local Bay Area rappers Daboii and Cash Kidd. But Seiji isn’t only an incredible producer, he can rap, sing, and songwrite just as well. In the past few years, he has worked heavily on his solo work, releasing one of my favorite albums of this year, lofi//HYPHY, an album that combines the two genres, the former being known for it’s chiller production and the latter known for its danceability. I got the opportunity to talk to Seiji about his upcoming album ORA//太陽, which is coming out on November 7th.

What’s your process for making a cohesive body of work, whether that’s a two-piece or an entire album?

I usually approach it by having a theme for whatever the project is. A lot of the time it might be a single song that inspires the full body of work. I think “Ok here’s this song that has this specific feeling that I’ve never done before and I want to keep building on and around that.” It’s really about that feeling. For this next project, I really want to make sure that every song, or at some point around the song I get that feeling from it. When you hear a song and think “that shit has that shit in there”, I can’t really describe it. The reason I listen to music is to get a specific emotion or get in a certain mood, so I try to create bodies of work that represent how I feel and I can go back to that project when I want to feel that way. 

It’s just fun too. Music doesn’t have to be serious in order to be impactful. It can be some dumb shit. It doesn’t have to be the most polished thing in the world and it gets the job done.

I saw that you made a Japanese City Pop playlist and your new song City Pop 001 incorporated that genre. Are we going to hear more of that on the album?

Not this album. I just did that as a loosy because that was what I was feeling at the time. That’s what I’m really into right now, but I definitely see myself doing a project based all around that. A fully City Pop-inspired project is gonna happen sometime. This next album is a whole different thing.

What vibe will the album have?

It’s called ORA//太陽, which means the sun in Japanese. The alternative title is A Love Letter to the Sun and I wrote it that way because to me the songs are ordered in a way that represents the phases of the sun throughout the day. The first song feels like the sun rising, it has a peak, and the project ends at the end of the day. I really wanted to capture this feeling I get sometimes when I meditate. It’s very warm, orange, I don’t know where it’s coming from. It’s that warm feeling that I get that I want to capture in the music. That color is why I ended up calling it ORA, the first three letters of orange. But it’s also that glow, expanding light that I was feeling. I think it has a cohesive, overarching sound but each song is totally different in terms of the tempo and the type of music it is. It’s definitely more Balledy than most of my music is. I think that a lot of my music is more rap, just me talking shit, freeform. This is more me writing songs to somebody or for somebody rather than a stream of consciousness. I wanted to come at this project with more intention. That’s not something I necessarily think I have to do, but I wanted to do it for this project, it’s how I wanted it to feel. Then it can be re-interpreted from there. 

Image courtesy of Seiji Oda

What do you see in your future working on genre-bending music? Will we hear this on your upcoming album?

This project is different. Each song is inspired by a different era of music. I’m not trying to combine to different things, but there is a theme throughout this project of looking at two different sides. I wanted to recreate the concept of lenticular images with this project where you’re listening from a different perspective. Most music has equal things on each side. I wanted to break that. People have done this in the past. The Beatles were very free about their panning. They would have the drums panned to the left, which is weird as hell, most people have their drums in the middle. I wanted to make lenticular songs, where there’s a song on one side and a whole other song on the other side. Depending on which ear you’re focusing on, you might hear something very different. That’s a theme of this project, especially in the first song. Throughout the project, it switches back and forth between the bright side of the sun and then the more cozy, comfortable side of the song. You’ll see it in the project. Half of the songs are uppercase and half are lowercase to represent these two sides. It switches back and forth between this.

I see that every Sunday you post a new item of music. Since you’re fully independent, is that a way to keep fans engaged, or is it more to keep yourself engaged in making music?

I would say it’s both. It’s definitely for the fans though. As an independent artist, I’m always trying to get new people to listen to my music. What matters to me the most is having the people that always listen to my music or more casual fans feel like they’re part of something. This is why I do early releases of music on my discord or artist page. I do this to create an engaged community. I want to create a space that people can return to every Sunday and build a personal relationship with the people that listen to my music. I can’t just disappear for four months drop an album and not talk to anybody, I’m not Frank Ocean, not yet. It also helps me stay creative, I work best within structure. Having limitations makes me more creative, like here’s something I have to do and how can I go outside this box.

Who’s better at lacrosse, you or Ricefield?

You can ask him *Seiji points the camera at Lil Ricefield*. Probably him not gonna lie.

Seiji and his brother Lil Ricefield//Image courtesy of Genius

Do you have a path that you’ve thought out or are you just taking things as they come?

Right now I’m just taking things as they come. In terms of music, I have my releases planned out. I have what projects I want to put out and in what order. In terms of life though, we’re figuring it out.

I really liked your Hyperpop remix of aero3, do you plan on making any more Hyperpop songs in the future?

I do love Hyperpop. I love trying to produce songs like that because it’s so intricate. I have been working on this project with one of my friends KP. He is really interested in it. His project is going to be really Hyperpop-heavy, and it’s mostly produced by me. 

Who are your biggest inspirations and influences, both musically and personally?

Lately, I’ve been inspired by Nujabes and his production, especially Lofi. Anyone that’s into that, whether they know it or not, pulls from his shit or from Dilla. I’m not a big Dilla fan, but of course, I listen to a lot of his stuff. Erykah Badu is another one of my favorite artists and inspirations, both musically and personally. Also Souls of Mischief. They were a jazzy hip-hop group from the 90s in the bay. I like that the way that they don’t take themselves too seriously but they also take themselves seriously. They take their craft seriously but they had fun with it. I think being light about stuff helps develop your craft. One of my favorite movies is Everything Everywhere All at Once. That’s definitely inspired me, maybe not in terms of music but more as a creator. They’re hella funny with their shit, but they can get their message across because their not trying to hit you over the head with it. It’s like “how can we make this cool ass thing and throw as many ideas at the wall as possible and not take ourselves too seriously to get our message across.”

-Seiji was disappointed that I hadn’t seen the movie-

Image courtesy of Seiji Oda

Are there any other movies that inspire you?

I wouldn’t say a movie necessarily but one of my aesthetic and sonic inspirations is Samurai Champloo. I love the storytelling. Princess Mononoke also inspires me. I have a two-piece Princess Mononoke-inspired project that I’ll drop on a Seiji Sunday

Who are you listening to right now?

I really like the new Smino album. I’ve been listening to a lot of City Pop. A lot of Cindy. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Pluggnb remixes on SoundCloud. They got a crazy Ariana Grande Pluggnb remix. 

How’d you get into producing?

I used to record myself on my old ass computer. That was me making songs over other people’s beats. I got to a point where I wanted to make my own shit and what I wanted to make wasn’t out there. This was before the youtube type beat era, we didn’t have those in 2012. Producing was the only option. I was also heavily inspired by HBK. I was like “these dudes are producing all of their own shit?”. That inspired me to be able to do it all myself, I didn’t have to have a whole team, I could just do it in my bedroom, so that’s where it started. When I was first making beats, I was on Mixcraft 5, and that was something. It was ass. 

Who is the next collab for you in the bay? Who’s your dream collab?

I’m working with the homie ClayDough, he’s a producer, me and him are gonna drop a project. I got some music with Franco Dollas dropping, it’s going to be on the album’s cassette tape. I also got some music with Nate Curry, he’s from Sacramento, but me and him are gonna put out some stuff. For dream collab, E-40. I just want to see his process. Just to be in the same room with him and soak up the game. 

Why are you dropping on Monday?

The reason I do that is because it technically drops on Sunday night so that way I can drop everything I need to on YouTube first so the people can see it before the album comes out on Sunday. I don’t like dropping on Thursday or Friday, even though it’s the industry standard and that’s when people look for new music because the context for me is more important than the numbers. If more people listen to it on a Friday, they’re going to be out with friends and doing stuff and listening to it. I’m not mad at my music being played in that setting but I’d rather have it be played on a Sunday when you’re having a relaxed day. I want people to listen to my music in the context where they are putting their full attention to it rather than playing it in the background.

Seiji’s doing a bonus track version of the album, which is going to be a virtual cassette tape. He’s going to sell it directly to the fans through emails. It’s going to have a lot of extra stuff, songs, videos, cover art, the tracklist, and more. This is a great opportunity to have ownership of music in a day and age where we’re streaming all of our favorite music.

ORA//太陽 is coming out on November 7th on all streaming platforms.

Follow his Instagram @seijioda

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Interview Uncategorized

Interview with Ray Angry of The Roots


Anywhere he goes, Ray Angry is probably the most skilled pianist in any direction for many, many miles. However, at Pitchfork Music Festival, he is surrounded by some of the most talented instrumentalists in the current musical canon— no, he’s still probably the best pianist here. He has album credits with artists such as Mick Jagger, Solange, Elvis Costello, Mobb Deep, and many more. This modern renaissance man walks in with a sharp green jacket on; under his large tan hat rests a calm brain that will soon shoot neurons to his fingers, they will play notes and impress tens of thousands of attendees for The Roots’ headlining performance. 

They call him Mr. Goldfinger for a reason. 

Jack: So let’s go back to the beginning, tell me about your early days playing piano at Howard University and your introduction to jazz.

Ray Angry: So basically when I was at university they wouldn’t allow me to study jazz. So, I had a double major in classical jazz starting with your young jazz legends, and also reading, but the interesting thing about me being at Howard is I got to connect with all the great Jazz musicians that were coming in. You know how young kids come to festivals go backstage? the artists who want to talk to artists. So I was doing that with all the jazz artists, like me and my friend Chris Dave. He’s like one of the best drummers in the world, he’s amazing. And he and I used to walk from our university to Blue’s Alley to see Wynton Marsalis. It really ignited my interest in jazz, you know, Branford, Kenny Kirkland, so these guys were my heroes. Those guys really got me into playing jazz, and then I was doing gospel music and R&B. Then, I dropped out of school and toured with this R&B group called The Chi, who were traveling around the world, and then I went back to school. So at Howard, I was really interested in music, period. So not just Jazz, I was also into classical and all these different styles. I figured if I can play all these different types of music, I’ll always be good. I think it’s best to think outside the box, and I came to New York, and that’s been the case since.

J: If you could talk to early Ray Angry, what would you tell him? What critiques would you give his music and what advice would you give him?

RA: You know, I’d tell him, man, practice hard, stay focused, and know the ins and outs of the business. Because I think the thing that people miss is that when you get out of school you have to work in business. You’re not just going to be playing music, you got to feed your family, you got to work, and pay rent. So for me, I would just try to make sure that my younger self knew everything about the music business. Every aspect, contracts, how to copyright your music. I think collaboration is so important too. Working with other people, asking questions, not being afraid to ask questions, and not being afraid to ask for help.

J: You released your jazz album, One about four years ago, and after some time to reflect on it, how do you feel looking back on it?

RA: You know, I’m really happy with the recording. People often send me messages about a particular song from my album. And then Amy Schumer put it in Life and Beth. You know, for me, it’s an honor. And also, I’m excited to record my new album, because the first album is Jazz. The next one is solo piano, and it’s classical music. It’s classical music, soul, hip-hop, experimental, all these different styles of music, and it’s just the piano. I’m excited about it. And for me, being diverse and not being known for just one thing is what I’m about. I’m really about connecting folks from all walks of life, it’s been a pleasure, I love recording and the music I’m recording is just an example of where I’m at in my life at the time. I hope that anything I’ve gone through and experienced can make someone’s day brighter.

J: You said that your music is a reflection of where you are in your life, and so what’s bringing you to do a solo piano album in Three?

RA: I’ve actually never released a solo piano album, so for me, because I’m into so many different styles of music, each album represents all the colors in my mind, So the first album was like jazz, the next one is going to be classical. The one after that is going to is going to be different, maybe a funk kind of thing. So I think recording a solo piano album is something I had to do. Especially for the memory of my parents that passed away and my two brothers that passed away this year. So I’ve suffered a lot of loss, for me solo piano is something that is deep in my heart. My parents got me into music, so it’s really a dedication to my family. 

J: So why’d you skip two and call it three?

RA: It’s a great conversation piece. Everyone’s like where’s two? Everyone’s gonna be looking for two and go buy One or Three. Why not just do something different? 

J: In ancient Greek, Telos means to reach fulfillment or an end goal of an object. Do you think that you can push an instrument to the point of fulfillment?

RA: I would say, when I look to some of the great pianists and all the great artists. Absolutely, I mean, to me, music comes from the ether or somewhere in space, you know it comes from outside of us. And I think connecting with music on a spiritual level gives you satisfaction because your ego is pushed out of the way. So once your ego is out, this is only my opinion, you’re able to really connect with God, the universe can become a channel and really as far as I can see someone and you’re like once you do that, you experience something new and can be blown away. For me. I think it’s possible to do that, but the ego has to be out of the way first.

J: I’ve never heard anybody explain that transcendence so well. So, how’s it been touring with the roots almost 30 years after they do their debut? And is there a different mentality than there was back in the days of Undun in 2011 when you were touring with them?

RA: I think everything forced everyone to think outside the box and also to really redefine your purpose, and for me, working with the roots since 2008 has been life changing. It’s been really great because I’ve been I’ve had the blessing to be on The Tonight Show. Working with Jimmy Fallon working with The Tonight Show crew has been amazing, working Steve green. And having done a record Elvis Costello. That was because of our relationship with the roots and this has been really great. To be able to connect with the world.

J: So what have you been up to these last few years after finishing One?

RA: I’ve been working on a symphony for The Lexington Symphony Orchestra for the past year, I’ve been studying orchestration, composition and writing my personal sort that premieres November 19. I’ve done the music for Life and Beth with my writing partner Timo Elliston. It’ll be on Netflix later this year. I started my own record label called Mr. Goldfinger Music. I’ve been doing Producer Mondays, so I’ve been busy creating lots.

J: You’ve been credited on some incredible albums recently. I’m curious on your opinion on the music scene right now, is it as fruitful and filled with talent as it was in the 90’s?

RA: I think music is always evolving. There’s always gonna be someone better and there’s always gonna be a new way of looking at music, and I think it’s cool that technology is advancing now. I think it’s better because you know, who would’ve thought that you could be on your computer and someone else can be at home on their computer, and you can make a whole album. So I would say it’s getting better. And you know, technology is really connecting us more and more. In terms of music there’s always going to be growth, things are going to be listened to and be reinterpreted. Styles of music mixing together to create a new sound, so I’m excited. Next year, we’re making an authentic style rather than following a safe sound. So, I’m really excited.

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Album Review General In Case You Missed it Interview

Tank and the Bangas announce new album, “Friend Goals”

New Orleans-based band Tank and the Bangas have been blending together funk, gospel, spoken word, and hip hop since 2011. After winning NPR’s Tiny Desk concert in 2017, they accelerated to stardom and received universal praise for their 2019 album Green Balloon. That album, along with the reputation they’ve established for their extraordinary live performances, landed them a Grammy nomination for “Best New Artist.”

Now, the world is anxiously awaiting their next project: an EP called Friend Goals, to be released on November 20th. In a virtual press conference, the band shared some details about the upcoming album.

Tank and the Bangas’ upcoming album, Friend Goals

When asked to describe the album in three words, the band agreed it’s “friendly, featureful, and fantastic.” Tariana “Tank” Ball, the lead singer, added “It’s got a sexy lil vibe to it… It’s sure to keep you moving.”

The new album features contributions from Duckwrth, CHIKA, and PJ Morton, among others. “The reason it’s called Friend Goals is because it’s a collaboration with all of our friends,” Tank said. She especially loves the “creative funness that you get when you hear somebody else’s unique, fresh voice on your project.”

Tank described one of the songs on the new album, “TSA,” as “an essential New Orleans song that everybody could bump” and recalls having “so much fun” creating that song with the band’s three other collaborators: Joshua Johnson, and Norman Spence, and Albert Allenback. The band viewed quarantine as a welcome break from touring. “It’s hard to be on the road constantly… so we needed this time at home to create,” said Tank, adding “We got our covid tests so we could create with each other!”

Photo credit: Jamelle Tate

The album’s lead single, “Self Care,” is a bouncy, trilling song; driven by a bass-heavy beat. The lyrics detail the joys of what you can get away with while spending so much time alone in quarantine. The song features Jaime Woods, a vocalist known for her work with Chance the Rapper, who sings “put a dress on, maybe less on / take a bath for no reason” and later announces “boutta make some bacon then I’ll roll one / so fun.”

In addition to writing songs for the new album, the band members have been making time for their own self care practices. “Self-care for me this quarantine, personally, has been having time to step back and take a look at the type of person I am. You know, refuel spiritually,” said Norman, “It’s important, and I was neglecting it.”

Tank and the Bangas have been hard at work on themselves and on their music this quarantine, and they can’t wait to share their new songs. Allenback said “This is some of the best recorded stuff we’ve ever made. It captures us in a really fantastic way. Our spirit’s really there.”

Watch the music video for “Self Care” below:

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In Case You Missed it Interview

Carmen DeLeon’s single “Volverás” is one you don’t want to miss

Image courtesy of Universal Music

The 19-year old Venezuelan reggaeton singer is a voice for today’s young people, advocating for self-love and authenticity with catchy melodies and silky-smooth vocals. “Volverás” is one of those songs you can’t listen to just once—before you know it, it’s on your driving, cooking, homework, and shower playlists (not that I would know).

Carmen says the track, her first to be released via Capitol Records, is about taking care of yourself and choosing to be surrounded by people who support you. 

Negative people will come along “and sometimes because you don’t want to be alone, you let them be there… But it’s better to be alone than in bad company,” she explained, during a virtual press conference with Universal Music’s °1824 creative team. “You have to love yourself before you love someone else… not only in love but in friendship.”

“Volverás” is a collaboration with Tainy, the Puerto Rican producer responsible for Cardi B’s “I Like It” as well as numerous hits from reggaeton superstars like Bad Bunny and J Balvin. In an industry dominated by men, Carmen said she’s determined to keep making bilingual bops and inspiring young, Latinx female artists to join her in taking over the scene. She’s already making waves and we can’t wait to see what’s next.

Watch the video here.

Categories
Album Review Interview

Duckwrth on New Album “SuperGood”

Duckwrth, image courtesy of Universal Music

Following the August 21 release of his album SuperGood, rapper and multimedia artist Duckwrth joined Universal Music’s °1824 team to talk creative process, musical inspiration, growing up in LA, and more.

Duckwrth has been a refreshing, unique voice in the rap scene since the 2015 release of his project Nowhere. Recent tours alongside Billie Eilish, Louis The Child, and EarthGang have put Duckwrth on the map—equipped with a tenacity and artistic toolbox rare of upcoming artists, it’s clear that he’s only going up from here. Duckwrth’s musical versatility is vast, enabling a diverse but still cohesive sound with gritty, heartfelt, story-driven lyricism atop a mixture of bass-heavy hip-hop beats and 70s inspired dance grooves. 

SuperGood is comprised mostly of the latter, full of dreamy, buoyant melodies and funky drum riffs. The 16-track span is an upbeat, playful, and honest exploration of experiencing new love—the insecurities, the eagerness to show off a little, and the excitement of the unknown. 

“It’s a rhythm project. So I want people to dance, to groove, to bop, to move,” Duckwrth said. The album was written in January, when Covid-19 was barely a blip on the radar. At the time he was excited for a new year, but as the world went on lockdown the album’s sound and story greeted a new reality—one that arguably needed it even more.

“It’s already its own affirmation, like when you press play it’s supposed to make you feel super good,” he said. “I feel like it came right on time, where people need to feel the best that they can at this moment.”

Duckwrth explained that the project is like “the yin and yang” to THE FALLING MAN, his 2019 EP, which delves into the character of a king who “falls to his demise because he doesn’t know love.” SuperGood, on the other hand, is all about love and what it feels like to meet someone special.

“A lot of it has to do with me taking this girl out on a date. Going to different venues, and like also different fantasies and ideas that I have of her before we actually go on the date… it’s like a story, as if you were watching a Netflix show,” he said. “It’s a story to take you away from your current situation.”

Beyond the love story, Duckwrth explained that SuperGood draws inspiration from the music and aesthetics of the 70s. 

“Such eclectic style… the music was so colorful and the album covers were so beautiful, you know, so I kind of wanted to tap into that,” Duckwrth said.

“I really feel like the 70s, especially for black people, was a time of celebration. We just came out of civil rights, and black people started to gain certain freedoms… you know, it was a celebration. So within that, when black people start going back to who they are, and their original essence, a bit of magic happens.”

For Duckwrth, growing up in Los Angeles during the 90s and 2000s was beautiful, but difficult. 

“It’s always sunny, the beach is always crackin’… it’s kind of like its own little weird utopia, but on the same flip side, it was a lot of trauma,” he said. 

“Diamonds come from, you know, the roughest type of situation. So I think by being raised specifically in south-central Los Angeles it gave me a backbone—so when I deal with corporate America, I don’t take no bullshit, you know, because I learned to survive duckin’ bullets… it just taught me all the methods I needed to get the things I need to get as an artist, as a man, as a businessman.”

Growing up, he always knew creativity to be part of his DNA—and central to his future, too. When he was young, a stranger approached him at church and told him he had a calling; the message has stuck with him since.

Duckwrth’s knack for blending musical styles comes from his eclectic taste. In the studio, he said, he’s most inspired by the feelings and chord progressions of soul, gospel, and jazz. On stage, however, it’s a different story.

“When I perform, it’s strictly punk. Like thrasher, hardcore. That’s my shit… they just perform with such a conviction, you know, and it riles people up and get’s the fire started.” 

As Duckwrth sets his sights on the future, and starts working on the next album, he said authenticity and self-love have become a priority—especially during the pandemic.

“It’s been a it’s been a really crazy year. So it’s like, I don’t think my artistry needed as much love as my human did.”

 “I feel like there’s a way to portray a healthy artist, and that’s through just being true to yourself, you know, and I think that’s how you make the best music,” Duckwrth said. “And that’s the music that lasts… that’s the music that becomes people’s favorite albums.”

Categories
Interview Local Shows: Previews & Reviews Uncategorized

Interview with Chastity Belt’s Julia Shapiro

By Emily Faulks

Julia Shapiro. Image courtesy of Hardly Art.

I reached out to Julia Shapiro, indie rock singer and songwriter, as she prepares for Chastity Belt’s American Tour for their self titled album released in September. Shapiro is most known for her solo album she recently released as well as her lead vocals and guitar for all-girl garage bands Chastity Belt, Childbirth, and Who is She?

After Chastity Belt cancelled their tour last April due to “health concerns,” Shapiro ventured into introspective songwriting and mixing that resulted in her first solo album titled Perfect Version that captures Shapiro’s discontent with personal imaging and searching for self growth through musings of change and stagnation simultaneously. She then continued working with Chastity Belt and the band later released their self titled album on September 20. Capturing similar sentiments and instrumentals as Shapiro’s Perfect Version, Chastity Belt wanders through foggy terrain of a mental landscape of dissatisfaction while combating it with surreal optimism. I asked Julia some questions about her experiences with creating Perfect Version mostly alone and being back with Chastity Belt after a much needed break.


What have you been up to since the release of Chastity Belt’s album and getting ready for the anticipated U.S. tour in February?

We tour quite a bit over the fall. In October we did a European tour and then in November we played the East Coast. We’re also working on writing some new stuff.

How are you feeling about touring with Chastity Belt again?

I sort of have a love/hate relationship with touring. It can be really fun, but also super exhausting. It’s all about getting the right balance. I’m excited about this upcoming tour because we’re taking our Australian buddies Loose Tooth with us. It’s also our last tour for a while, so that makes it feel a bit more manageable.

What are the things you do to stay centered when you’re struggling on tour or dealing with the frustrations of the recording industry?

Take a walk, call a friend, try to remember to take some alone time. It can be hard to find the time to take care of yourself on tour.

Did your solo album and emotions you unpacked in Perfect Version influence Chastity Belt’s self titled album?

All the lyrics are coming from me, so yeah I suppose so. Some of my solo songs probably could’ve been Chastity Belt songs if the timing had been different — there’s not a huge distinction between my songwriting process when I do solo stuff and when I do stuff with my band, except I was maybe a little bit looser with the way I wrote lyrics for my solo album. It was a little bit more stream of conscious.

How does mixing and composing music alone compare to the process with Chastity Belt?

It’s a lot quicker cause there’s only one person to consult. It’s also hard cause you sort of have to trust yourself more, since you’re the only one making decisions. It’s harder for me to get as excited about songs when I’m by myself — it helps to have my bandmates around to encourage me.

How did you all start Chastity Belt and overcome gender barriers in garage rock? Any advice for college students (specifically, girls) trying to start a band?

Trust yourself, and don’t just blindly follow others advice, especially men who are out of touch haha. Check in with yourself and your bandmates every once in a while to make sure what you’re doing feels good, and ask yourself why you’re doing it.

Do you think Chastity Belt has evolved since you all started making music in college?

Oh definitely. We started out just joking around, we never thought the band would become this serious. We’ve learned a lot along the way. There’s no way to really learn how to make music other than just doing it and learning from your mistakes.

What kinds of music inspired the conception of Chastity Belt? What are you listening to right now? 

Growing up I was really into Elliott Smith, and I still think he was an amazing songwriter. I also listened to Fiona Apple and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in high school. Recently I’ve been really into the new DIIV record. Those guitars sound so good.


Chastity Belt is touring the United States starting early February and will be performing in Denver at the Bluebird Theater on February 23.

Categories
Interview Music

How Sound Makes Music

Over this past block, I made an episode of a podcast. It’s not completely about music, but it’s on how sound makes meaning, so I figured I would post it on here. In it, I interview two really wonderful members of the CC community, Jake Sabetta and Jane Hilberry (and if you’re on this website, you will likely at least know of Jake).

Hope you enjoy!

 

 

Categories
Interview Music

With Notes of Change


             Interview of TouchIt’s Lead Singer Jack Douglas by Eliza Mott


photo credit Emilia Whitmer


Could you start by introducing yourself?

Hello my name is Jack Douglas, I’m a senior and I like Rock’n’Roll.

 

Where are you from?

I was born in Denver and grew up in Atlanta Georgia

 

So can you tell me a little bit about your band? How you guys came together?

So I think we started like most (CC) bands start, it’s kind of like the primordial soup of sophomore jamming in Mathias and you kind of figure out who is someone who is actually going to be someone you want to keep playing music with. So we kind of slowly just started jamming with each other and that worked out to be a core group or me and Oliver, Kyle, Ken and then we originally sought out Adam Ting because we wanted a sax player because if you’re in a CC band and you don’t have a sax player, it’s just not as special.

 

Really?

Well when we were starting out, almost every band had a sax player.

 

What does that add?

Sex appeal – sax appeal

 

So are you all seniors?

Yeah we are all seniors. So that was fun, last Battle of the Bands. Or not the last Battle of the Bands since we were put in the second round, could’ve been the last.  I think that sort of gave us either a feeling of I don’t really care about this. But it also gave us a feeling of we should probably do this right.

 

Those are two very different attitudes so what is the general attitude you are following?

Well my personal attitude was that I really wanted to put on a really good show and I think at first there was a feeling of, we don’t really need to do this and then I was like, “Yeah let’s do this that would be fun. So we practiced a lot (after we) figured out a set and ran it a couple of times before we actually played it.

 

Are you any of you guys music majors?

Oliver and I are music minors. Besides that we have a film studies major. Kyle, Oliver, and Adam are all O.B.E. majors biology majors and I’m environmental policy.

 

So, personally for you, what is the connection between Environmental science and music?

Well I mean you can write protest songs about climate change and polar bears. I don’t know I mean you can find connection between anything.

 

Well of course, but how do you explain it?

I don’t know if you can cultivate a sense of personal interest into music, I think for any cause there have definitely always been musicians behind it. You can talk about Bob Dylan and Civil Rights and Neil and the environment so like there is definitely a connection. But you have to make that connection yourself it’s not like inherent.

 

And for you do you draw a lot of inspiration from those artists and musicians?

Well Bob Dylan, Neil Young yeah. I mean come on, somewhere on a desert highway. Both pretty iffy singers but they both write pretty beautiful music

 

So do you think you, as a musician focus and are more drawn to the lyrics or the melody and music of a song?

You know I was having this conversation with Oliver the other day, cause I think it depends on the instrument you play. I think for him rhythm drives a song and for me I’m more of a mix because I do play guitar, harmonica, and I also sing and write lyrics.

I think lyrics are important and  I think a singer’s voice can often make or break a song for me. I’ve never liked Blink 182 because I feel like they sound like they are whining the entire time. That definitely is a big part for me but I think melody can often be more important than the lyrics.

You have people whose lyrics are incredible, like Bob Dylan and that’s why they are such incredible artist. I feel like the music for Bob was a platform for what he was trying to say versus the other way around.

 

When did you get involved in music?

I started playing guitar when I was in sixth grade, so like ten years ago, when I was 12 or 11, I don’t quite remember.

 

Of the songs you have written is there a song that is particularly important to you at this point in your life?

I think probably the best song I’ve written for Touch-It, me and Ken collaborated on this but I did the lyrics for the majority of the song. We played at Battle of the Bands called Lake House. It’s sort of politically driven in a way.

 

Can you explain a little bit about what it is about?

It’s called Lake House because the chorus goes something like, a     shower can’t wash your soul/it takes something deeper I know/ the old men talk they can’t wait/because dirty money put them in the house by the lake. I wrote it in the summer after my sophomore year and there was just a lot of stuff going on. There was bombings in Israel, bombings in Palestine, there was the Ferguson shootings and Robin Williams died.

I just felt very alienated from the people that were representing me all over this country in all forms of government. So the verses are all about those events like the last verse is about how a whole bunch of people got shot, or a whole bunch of black men got shot at Ferguson or in New York but Robin Williams got all the press. It’s a sort of a looking out of your window on political injustice or tragedy in the world.

So I guess a lake house, I see as a luxury and as something that shows how, these guys, don’t want to relate to you because if they can just go hide in their vacation homes they don’t have to think about these things.

 

How do you see music being a part of your life after college?

Well there’s a band I played  a lot with in high school and they are still playing together which is cool. Go them. They are down in Athens, Georgia. There was a while there where I thought about, not joining their band or anything, but going down and making music with them down on the periphery and just doing day jobs. Then I kinda decided I didn’t want to move back to Georgia  so I put the nix on that (plan).

I definitely want to keep playing music. It will probably end up being more of a hobby, I’ll do open mics and stuff like that. Maybe if I find some people I like playing with or have a longer term connection with I’ll start another band but then again as a senior, the next couple years I’ll probably be moving around a fair bit, so I don’t really know.

 

As a senior, what advice would you give to underclassmen artists/bands?

Sure, so if you’re practicing in Mathias be as respectful as f***k to Lisa because she is the bomb but that being said Mathias bass kind of sucks so if you can find another space on campus I would recommend that.

If you don’t like the music that is being played on campus, make your own band. In general, it’s just about reaching out to people there are so many people trying to get into the scene. It’s about finding people you like playing music with and putting work into it. It’s not easy.

I tell a lot of people this has kind of been my main extracurricular throughout college and obviously it’s not a sanctioned one by the school or anything but it’s definitely something I put a lot of work into.

 

What has been one of the greatest or most important things you have taken away from being a musician at CC and during your time playing with TouchIt?

Certain bands have a magical skill regardless of what music they are playing to make people mosh. Mac Demarco is one of these musicians, it doesn’t make sense, when I saw him live, he was like, “This is a tender number I wrote this for my lover but keep moshing anyways.”

I don’t know something happens, I think it starts out because of a certain precedent, like your friends get really excited and they start moshing at every show.

I know no other band on campus that has people mosh as much as we do. We do sometimes play punk and hardcore music but I don’t think our sound is cataclysmically different than that of other people at school in terms of like hardness and for some reason people just love moshing to it.

I think we have at least three concussions we are partially responsible for. I’ve been knocked over several times by my own mosh. I don’t know music is fun. Play music if you have a chance.

 

 

Categories
Colorado Springs Diet Cig Featured Show General In Case You Missed it Interview Music Pop punk

Q&A with a bae: Alex Luciano of Diet Cig

Over the past few weeks, my roommate and I have actually greeted each other in the mornings—not with “good morning,” but with the phrase “fucking slow dance” and a dramatic eye roll.

The ritual is not in reaction to telepathic nightmares, but a lyric from Diet Cig’s 2015 single “Dinner Date” which has over 85,000 plays on Spotify. We too spend the rest of our days playing Diet Cig’s seven songs on Spotify, wondering when there will be more. Or even if it’s even possible to write truer lyrics than “If I told you I loved you I don’t know who/it would scare away faster.”

The pop punk duo consists of New Paltz New York’s own Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman, whose power chord ballads strike a balance between fun-loving and fuck you, and cut as deep as your memories of shitty hometowns and suburban-school expectations. They’ve been declared “A Band to Watch” by nearly every online music news monopoly, and simultaneously propose to destroy the monopoly label “bedroom songs.” Onstage Luciano jumps off drum sets, occasionally into the crowd, and generally requires that everyone quit shuffling their feet and fucking dance.

I stumbled upon the band in March at SXSW: first at Sidewinder, then the next day at the Stereogum showcase where a friend of mine may have had too much free Sapporo beer—he asked Luciano to marry him, and then chucked an inflatable deer at her head (on accident, of course). She didn’t miss a beat.

When I asked Luciano if I could call her for an interview, I reminded her of the deer incident and she seemed receptive. Bowman couldn’t make it. I sat in my bed in Colorado Springs, and she in hers in Brooklyn. We discussed Frankie Cosmos’ simplicity and Diarrhea Planet’s masterful mayhem, and of course, the reason why being a female shredder is essentially cooler than, well, anything.

Catch Dieg Cig with Sorrel and Brick + Mortar opening for the Front Bottoms at Black Sheep next Tuesday, April 12th

 

Hannah: Have you ever had things thrown at you before?

 

Alex: No, nothing’s ever really been thrown at me before the deer. I’ve had boys hand me love notes after a set onstage but that’s the extent of people giving me stuff.

 

Hannah: That sounds worse than the deer. How’d you like SXSW besides that? Was it your first one?

 

Alex: Yeah it was our first South by, it was super crazy. We played thirteen sets. It was supposed to be eleven but then we played two extra sets called Sessions. I thought we were gonna play two songs and they would record them and then they were like “Oh play a whole set in front of this audience and we’ll record two songs out of the set.”

 

It’s kind of a blur now looking back at it, but we had a lot of fun and we got to see all the bands. It was really fun running in the streets, running into your homies and being like “see you at the show later!” There was some crazy shit…I stole a gnome and then gave it back but that was before I like air guitar shredded it. Wacky.

 

Hannah: Dinner Date was actually the first song I heard by you guys and has since been my favorite—probably because of the opening lines. Is it based off daddy issues/a true story?

 

Alex: It’s a lot of Daddy issue-type feelings. That song starts out with my dad but also touches on a lot of relationships I’ve had with other people, and is me trying to convince myself that even though there are shitty people in my life that have just disappointed me or not treated me well that I’m better than these experiences. I’m taking power back from the people that have done me wrong.

 

Hannah: Do you feel like you’re running out of shitty situations to write about? You know, like shitty hometowns or shitty boyfriends?

 

Alex: I think that life is full of shitty situations, even when you grow up and start doing what you want to. You can take the smallest ones and write a dumb punk song about them, so I’m definitely not worried about not having enough shitty situations to write about.

 

Hannah: If you could describe your music now in one word what would you pick?

 

Alex: There’s a lot of words combined that I think would describe it. Our music is fun and also really cathartic. It’s really honest—I’d say it’s very honest—it’s like taking songs that like could be sad songs and making them fun. What I’m writing about is shitty stuff, most of the stuff that I write about are like bad situations that have happened to me. But it’s me turning things into a positive, fun situation.

 

Hannah: What’s your biggest musical influence?

 

Alex: I really don’t feel like one artist or any thing specifically influences me. I feel like I’m making simple live music that I like. But I’ve been influenced by the attitudes of a lot of musicians. I’m really influenced by Frankie Cosmos in the way that she just writes and writes and writes so many amazing songs and only recently has held off on releasing them because she’s been writing and releasing official records and stuff—but I’m really inspired by the way she released her early songs She would just release them on bandcamp and not worry about who would listen to it. It was just pure, real, honest music that she wrote.

 

I’m really inspired by a lot of other like strong female musicians. l like Hop Along. I think my music sounds very different than theirs, but at the same time I’m really inspired by what they’re doing and they’re songwriting and the fact that they’re out there and doing it.

 

Hannah: I really love how short Frankie Cosmo’s songs are—it’s the wave of the future you know? Everything’s getting shorter.

 

Alex: It’s true and it’s no frills, there’s no jam out guitar parts that last for like four minutes or anything. It’s just like honest lyrics and music that complements it.

 

Hannah: The biggest thing for me watching female musicians perform in bands is that it’s a breakdown of the male tendency to show off with all these crazy guitar solos.

 

Alex: It is such a masculine stereotype to do guitar solos and rip out and shred out. But I really don’t like the idea that that’s a male thing because I know so many female fucking shredders. Alicia from Bully fucking shreds—she’s amazing. I think there’s definitely a place for that though. I love Diarrhea Planet and they’re like the ultimate dude-shredder band. It’s all four guitars and guys guitar soloing, which is awesome, but I think that it’s equally as important for artists who aren’t technically proficient guitar players to be represented.

 

She Shreds the magazine has this really awesome philosophy that shredding isn’t your technical ability on an instrument, it’s the amount of emotion you can evoke through your instrument. I really respect women, or any musician, that can evoke a lot of emotion through their music without having to completely guitar-solo shred. I also have so much love and respect for everyone who’s just like slammin’ out guitar solos because it’s just the coolest thing ever.

 

H: Diarrhea planet: rock n’ roll done right.

 

A: Seeing them live is a joyous experience and they represent the kind of guitar-shredding that should be the ultimate. A lot of “serious” musicians take themselves too seriously. They’re serious musicians—but they don’t take themselves too seriously, which is why I think people like them.

 

H: So what’s a show that you’ve seen—besides Diarrhea planet, of course—that’s really inspired you to write or play music? A show that made you say “I gotta go home and practice the guitar right now.”

 

A: There’s been a couple that really stick out. When I was a freshman in college at New Paltz I was just getting introduced to the idea of DIY shows and artists producing their own music and I saw Frankie Cosmos’ show. It was actually hosted at my friend Chris Daley’s house (he recorded our music, our EP and our 7 inch) and I saw Frankie Cosmos perform at his studio. It was a really intimate performance and I didn’t really know who she was. I was just so floored by the simplicity of her songs and how beautiful they were, but also how accessible they were, and I was like “hey, I could write songs that are simple and honest like that, I have a lot to say too.” That was definitely one of the first moments that I was like “I can write songs that people will relate to and like.”

 

Then we did that tour with Bully this year, and Alicia really inspired me to start learning more on guitar, and to want to be more rock n’ roll as opposed to tweeny pop/rock or whatever people like to call us. I’m trying to find that balance all the time.

 

H: According to Pitchfork, you just need to “mature.”

 

A: (laughs) Yeah they were like “Well we can’t wait for them to mature.” And I was like okay no one asked you to write about my record. That’s the one thing about Pitchfork, it’s a love/hate thing because most blogs will write about the stuff that they like but Pitchfork will write about stuff that they like and they don’t like. And at first when we had that new record I was like in the back of my head like “Oh my god we have to write a record that is similar to the old stuff, but mature because we gotta get Pitchfork to like it!”

 

I’ve realized that after touring and playing those songs over and over again that we have to write songs that we like to play. You never know what people are going to like. So the only thing that we can do is write music that we like to play and that we’re proud of. This next record is going to be really awesome and I’m not sure if Pitchfork will like it—but I know we’re gonna LOVE it.

 

H: This is hard to ask without Noah here to speak for himself—but do you feel like you would have gone in a similar direction without each other? Would you be playing music with other people today if you guys hadn’t met in the first place?

 

A: I don’t know. I know he would be playing music with other people because Noah’s always been a musician and that’s always been his path. But I had some songs that I wanted to like perform and work on. It could have gone in a very acoustic low-fi bedroom pop kind of direction or it could have been “the band sound” with drums, a little more rockin’ direction—Noah was a really big influence in the music going in the direction that it did. It’s just as much Noah’s artistic vision as it is my own. Maybe I would have done something with music but I it wouldn’t have taken off and been what it is now if we didn’t meet.

 

H: Do you have any words of advice for people with “bedroom songs”? I feel like that’s a trope when people write about music like “Oh yeah they wrote all these songs in their bedroom.” But you guys got the songs out there, and there are a lot of talented people who haven’t.

 

A: Like you said “bedroom songs” is such a stupid trope and I feel like a lot of music writers or critics attach that label to women’s music. It’s so funny because Steph Knipe who’s in Adult Mom wrote online that “The difference between bedroom music and dorm music: one of them you’re paying 20,000 dollars a year to write your music” and it’s pretty funny because like what even IS bedroom music, does it mean you wrote it in your bedroom, does it mean that it’s soft and you’d wanna listen to it in your bedroom? I definitely can’t fit a drum set in my bedroom so I don’t know why people are calling my music bedroom pop.

 

I think some advice for people who are starting off writing songs in their bedrooms is to not feel hindered by the fact that you wrote it there—that shouldn’t define your music. You can write music in your bedroom and you can literally be any genre that you want. You can be anything you want.

 

H: If you could write a song for any one person who would it be?

 

A: I’d write one for my sister. She’s 12 and she’s in middle school and middle school is tough. I’m actually kind of in the process for writing this one song for my sister that will probably be on this record but it’s also tough because there’s so much I want to say to her. I want to tell her to be herself but in a way that’s not cheesy like “YOU CAN DO IT” because she is such a special person. She rocks.

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