Ayo Reveals Emotion, Positivity and Love On Her New Self-titled Album

Ayo1.jpg

As an artist who has consistently defined her musical expression through emotion, reflection and love, it’s no wonder why Ayo’s latest record is a powerful account that showcases the artists’ recent challenges through gripping imagery, impeccable songwriting and passionate vocals that deliver a masterful composition to her listeners.

When asked to write a preview of Ayo’s fifth studio album, ahead of the record’s release party at New York City’s, DROM, on Wednesday, I was relatively excited based on Ayo’s extensive reach in the independent music scene over the past decade. With over 1.5 million records sold in 40 countries, Ayo’s versatility in her music, empathy towards each composition and gentle, yet harrowing nature of her voice details Ayo’s complex and focused approach towards her artistry.

In her latest self-titled album, “Ayo,” the Brooklyn-based artist concocts a blend of indie soul and contemporary folk, with a touch of hip-hop elements simmered in reggae. The expansive reach of her musical repertoire in these genres provides a level of versatility that offers a license to embellish in the sounds of Baduism, while also providing a firm contrast to the lyricism of Lauryn Hill – all while crafting a sound of her own that combines retro-pop-soul with the refine African percussions and the vivid storytelling of reggae folk.

Born to a Nigerian father and Romani mother in Cologne, Germany, Ayo was raised on the musical influences of American soul, reggae and Afro-beats that spawned her studying the violin, piano and guitar. At 21 years of age, Ayo re-located to London, diving her time between Paris and New York City on the way to earning her first opening act for Omar and Cody Chesnutt.  Ayo’s debut album, “Joyful,” hit Top 10 in four countries, performing with Babyface, winning prestigious European Music Awards and even appearing on the “Late Show with David Letterman” and “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” in the United States.

Her musical approach, rich with honesty, sentiment and passion, releases a mist of positivity and emotion on each record of “Ayo,” guiding audiences to embrace their feelings and reflections on what’s been gained and lost. We see these components in songs such as “Nothing,” “Why” and “I Pray” which showcases Ayo’s vulnerability over these past five years with personal and career challenges.

On “Nothing,” Ayo offers us a reggae-soul inspired perspective on the material things in her life that she believed would make her feel better about herself, all while feeling empty as she realizes the void is just a temporary means of satisfaction. Composed over the African kalimba (strings) and loosely affirmed Afro-percussions, “Why” provides a heartfelt and revealing account on Ayo’s personal issues with her father and the stubbornness and grudges held within their relationships. Ayo’s enduring spirit on the recent challenges of her life, written over gently bright keys and a calming beats, are boldly displayed on “I Pray” as she reaches towards her spirituality for help during a possible career-ending situation.

Ayo also brings to the table a politically and socially charged record with, “Boom Boom,” regarding her outrage over the Mike Brown police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. Ayo’s realism is illustrated through her temporary folk and reggae style composition that also challenges the issue of police brutality, social injustice and our government’s response towards these racially charged issues.

With emotion, love and positivity remaining a consistent theme throughout the album, Ayo pays homage to the city that developed her musical ear and early success – Paris. On “Paname” (the surname for the City of Lights), Ayo composes a more complex multi-cultural arrangement with hints of reggae, pop-infused soul and traditional Parisian sounds, such as the accordion, is apparent on the record. The song is written as a love letter to Paris for how the city made Ayo personally, musically and culturally.

Ayo even spreads her hip-hop wings on the contemporary soul records, “Forever & Beyond” and “All I Want,” which exemplifies Ayo’s love of Hip-hop and the lyricism that I represents in music. With deep percussion, smooth vocals and confident melodies, Ayo offers another take on her sound’s versatile and complex approach to her songwriting ability.

With a cascade of emotions over the past several years, Ayo latest record is a testimony to her artistry that thrives on feeling. From the passions of love to the politically/socially charged stance, “Ayo” delivers an account of the world around her both personally and culturally.

As one of the leading independent artist in the world, Ayo’s distinctive songwriting, vivid storytelling and revealing honesty that both painfully and respectively is released through each composition. Ayo’s languorous and delicate vocals, paired with profound musicianship and multi-cultured adaptations, is why Ayo is still a heart-warming figure in the independent music scene.

 

You can catch Ayo and the anticipated performance of her self-titled record this Wednesday at DROM in New York City. Doors open at 6:30pm with the show starting at 7:15pm. For more on Ayo, please follow her socials listed below and listen to her music on all digital streaming platforms today.

 

Ayo

iTunes Spotify | Amazon | Pandora

Facebook | Twitter | YouTube Instagram

 

J. Alan Schneider Unveils Honesty, Reflection And Fate During His EP Release Show at Rockwood Music Hall

 
J. Alan Schneider with raw honesty & emotion at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

J. Alan Schneider with raw honesty & emotion at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

When J. Alan Schneider released his new EP On Precipice in October, we couldn’t wait to see him perform the new record on stage – an EP so tenderly rich with patient guitar riffs, soft and timid melodies and a surrealism of vivid imagery that can only be bred from one of the scene’s most gifted folk artists.

We sat down with the J. Alan last month to discuss his EP’s lead single, "The State Line," and the creative process behind the records overall theme. There was no doubt that the Queens-bred indie-folk artists' haunting elegance, lyrical illustrations and raw storytelling ability were shown graciously throughout the EP would eventually marvel on stage during his release performance. We were anxiously waiting to see how it would play out.

J. Alan Schneider on the strings at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

J. Alan Schneider on the strings at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

Alan’s performance at Rockwood Music Hall’s stage 3 last Wednesday guided us through the singer-songwriter’s journey of accepting and adapting to fate. Alan’s timid vocals, distinct honesty and acoustic sound channeled an uncanny tale of human emotion, atonement and reflection that was touched with each fabric of his lyrical shroud. His music was a shepherd to our ears, placing tranquil and raw sentiments that maintained a sense of noir while Alan ruminated through his guitar play.

His performances to "Labor Day" and "All The Same" shined gently with precious harmonies, profound, yet tender acoustics and caressing lyricism that brought us into Alan’s consciousness and reflective artistry. With candid lyrics such as, “What if the world was taking place/behind a camera phone/and if the world was breaking down/ would anybody know/if it’ll grow on frozen ground under seas/ will it be,” Alan’s precedence on these songs are illustrated through expressive storytelling and compositions, that exemplify the artist’s unique folk-singing approach.

J. Alan Schneider performing in front of an intimate crowd at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

J. Alan Schneider performing in front of an intimate crowd at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

On the EP’s leading single, "The State Line," Alan’s performance portrayed hints of melancholic imagery and delicate melodies for his warm, yet dark take on fate. Alan’s passionate and relieving vocals helped serene a soothing crowd from the portrayal of his voice and earnest guitar strings.

On his song, "They’re On to Us," Alan’s displayed a euphorically glowing performance that gently whispered over amplifying strings and calming percussion. His gifted storytelling ability is shown through his tantalizing and subtle lyrics through the song. “This day belongs to us/,” Alan crooned, “The cracks and gleams and scuff/and the side streets are so rough/ they lied to us/.” Another illustration of Alan’s purity and veracity that relished as we witnessed the folk artist perform.

J. Alan Schneider performing a quaint acoustic show in front of a Lower East Side crowd at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

J. Alan Schneider performing a quaint acoustic show in front of a Lower East Side crowd at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

J. Alan Schneider’s artistry is an esthetic platform for the contemporary indie-folk catalog. His work as a singer-songwriter is purified through the honesty of his lyrics, gentle, yet rough-edged compositions and a blistering vocal that helps us captivate our own humanity. Through his themes of fate, lost and reflection, Alan utilizes his musical talent as a wandering storyteller, passing though the events of common folk, while also contemplating his own path. His music is raw and stellar to the indie-folk scene and is a pedestal that fans of this scene can relate with: truly a treasure worth witnessing and listening to.

J. Alan Schneider performing his EP release show at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

J. Alan Schneider performing his EP release show at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

For more on J. Alan Schneider, be sure to follow his socials and listen/stream to his EP, “On Precipice” today. Out now on all digital stream services.


 

J. Alan Schneider

iTunes Spotify | Bandcamp | Soundcloud

Facebook | Twitter | YouTube Instagram

 

Deem Spencer's Raw Emotion Shined At El Cortez

 
Deem Spencer breathing on the mic at The Safari Room. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

Deem Spencer breathing on the mic at The Safari Room. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

New York’s independent hip-hop scene has endured a multitude of changes over the years with the rise of trap-infused beats and sharp-edged vocals; this growth has spawned some of the mainstream titans that flow through our airwaves today.  As listeners crave for the club ravaging and intensifying sounds of trap music one can argue that the raw lyricism, vivid storytelling and deep productions of New York hip-hop - which made the east coast so successful - has been put on the back-burner.

Yet, some of NY’s young and talented emcees continue adopt the traditional flows of east coast hip-hop alive with fresh new sounds and production, which altogether, has even attempted to move the trend needle forward: This is where Deem Spencer comes in.

Deem Spencer prepping up at The Safari Room. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

Deem Spencer prepping up at The Safari Room. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

The Queens-based rapper, overnight, has become one of the biggest talks on the scene and has impressed both his listeners and audiences with razor sharp lyricism, honest emotion and raspy-esque flows. His ambling vocalization and handsomely smooth compositions resembles the flows of Mos Def mixed with a hint of Tyler, The Creator.

Over a series of crispy bundled-up beats blended with an array of soft keys and complex strings, Deem’s rhymes are as complex as his stage presence: keeping audiences guessing and on their toes for what comes next next.

We came out to El Cortez in Brooklyn last Saturday to watch Deem Spencer’s performance of his latest EP, “We Think We Alone.” The show took place at El Cortez’s, The Safari Room, adjacent to the Tex-Mex bistro in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn (definitely recommended for some hearty bites and luscious margaritas). The faint aromas of Mary Jane, overnight IPA hops and cigarettes hovered in the air as audiences slowly poured in to catch a scent of some good old NY hip-hop.

Deem Spencer movin' on stage at The Safari Room. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

Deem Spencer movin' on stage at The Safari Room. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

Crimdella and Venture Klan opened the show for Deem as they kicked off the night with ferocious bars, brilliant production and ravaging beats that assailed audiences into that uptown sound that never disappoints.

Crimdella, aka Black Zeusx, provided a series of poetic rhymes and intense imagery that breathed heavily through pulverizing beats. Zeusx’ gripping charisma on the mic pierced through every chord, as the Harlem emcee broke into the crowd – getting us wiled up for an awesome night of hip-hop.

Venture Klan also offered a pulsating performance through their club-banging anthems filled with character, swag and humor. This three-piece act conquered the stage with their enduring styles; precision-like flows and energetic jibes that made The Safari Room crowd keep their hands in the air. They even gave us some free merch for us to make our friends hate us just a little more.

Deem Spencer showing his lyrical talent at The Safari Room. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

Deem Spencer showing his lyrical talent at The Safari Room. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

With his performance on “We Think We Alone,” Deem Spencer delivered an unforgettable performance that was rich, grieving and outright amusement that forced us to all “shake our a$$” while Deem performed the record in its entirety. Inspired by the death of his grandfather last winter, the Queens-based artists’ stage presence reflected a mellow and introverted persona, it was Deem’s precise melodies and intricate wordplay that helped keep audiences afloat – keened in on his heavy-hearted storytelling and brilliance.

Perfectionist, soft-spoken and meticulous, the Southside Jamaica emcee, poured his soul into every bar and mastered them beautifully behind a complex nebula of sensual synths, soulful chords and a mix of venomous beats that elicited a challenging sound of emotion and exasperation.

Deem opened with a killer freestyle on Saturday that showcased the indie-rapper at his lyrical best, along with an early 90’s-esque boom-bap and lulling keys. On “Soap” and “Eve’s T*****s,” we caught a glimpse of Deem’s vivid symbolism, strategic metaphors and illustrious productions with an instrumentation that’s unnerving with its precise strings. On these tracks, we got a sense of Deem’s patience and detailed flow that spoke assertively through his mic.

Deem Spencer spittin' on the mic at The Safari Room. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

Deem Spencer spittin' on the mic at The Safari Room. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

The night flowed on, and on tracks such as “Mother Earth” and “Moonflower,” we saw Deem with a more peevish and scrappier vocal with a high degree of synths and complex percussions. With “F***d Up Flowers,” Deem relieved himself of that conservative stage presence with a groovy chilled-out track that got him, Sly Cooper and the rest of crowd “shaking their a$$.” With a jazzed-out J-Pop sample, patient chords and complex percussion, Deems' vibed out track helped to bridge that relaxed demeanor with a stellar upbeat performance.

Deem Spencer’s nebulous sound, smoky aroma and artistic lyricism is blueprint for the future of indie hip-hop. It’s genuine & cunning, apologetically honest and deeply descriptive with grief & empathy. With raw emotion and petite aggression, Deem Spencer’s metaphoric scriptures are surely a trend ahead of today’s mainstream and independent hip-hop scenes. No doubt, Deem Spencer will be obtaining that recognition as his music persists.

Deem Spencers honesty & grief on display at The Safari Room. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

Deem Spencers honesty & grief on display at The Safari Room. Photo courtesy of Sergio Carrasco.

 

For more information, and to stream/download his music, follow Deem Spencer today. Also be sure to catch Deem live at his next show at Baby’s All Right on December 4.

 

Deem Spencer

iTunes Spotify | Google Play | Amazon

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

 

 

Lowdown Brass Band Release Their Roaring New Single "Ghost Town"

 
Photo courtesy of Lowdown Brass Band and The Bloom Effect

Photo courtesy of Lowdown Brass Band and The Bloom Effect

We’ve sure seen our share of hip-hop/funk brass bands over the years, but nothing has compared to the thoughtfully hip, energizing and funky sounds of Lowdown Brass Band (LDB). This thriving eight-piece second-line extravaganza has been marching their way through venues across the U.S., steering audiences through a thrilling brass-powered experience that emulates a diverse and irresistible sound.

With a blistering array of horns, funktacious drums and a powerful sousaphone, the Chicago-based brass set has also perfected a gritty and dynamic sound through the genres of hip-hop, soul, ska and rock. The fusion of MC Billa Camp’s poetic rhymes and adaptive storytelling, one of the band’s leading vocalists, has helped catapulted LDB’s national movement with cruising vocals, ferocious depth and provocative flows that helped audiences to capture the LDB experience.

With the release of their fifth self-produced studio album Lowdown Breaks arriving January 19th, Lowdown Brass Band has continued to build upon their hip-hop, ska and jazz styles under their newest single, “Ghost Town". Lead by Billa Camp with illustrious wordplay, keen lyricism and intricate arrangements, “Ghost Town,” exemplifies LDB’s music through groovy brass hip-hop with a unique alloy of genres that is indulgently entertaining to hear.

What began as a Chicago collaboration between Lowdown Brass Band and Chicago hip-hop punk set, The Dread,” has grown into one of LDB’s biggest songs of 2017, aligning perfectly with the 2018 release of their new LP. With a commanding tempo ripe with roaring horns, long brass and robust beats, the song contrasts perfectly with Billa Camps flourishing vocals and profound individuality.

What we really dig about LDB’s new track is the music video – an entertaining, high-energy adventure shot on a fishing boat during Lowdown Brass’s Alaskan tour in July 2017. As a recommendation of a great way to see the Cordova region in Alaska, the band brought their instruments on the boat and randomly had a quick jam session right in the middle of the Prince William Sound. Suddenly, the session quickly turned into a video shoot for “Ghost Town” with people on the boat shooting the session entirely on their iPhone’s. A wild ride filled with humor and dance, Lowdown Brass Band’s “Ghost Town” video is one for the ages and is certainly a must watch!

LDB’s barrier breaking sound is as intricate and explosive through your headphones, as it is on-stage: A second-line brass-knuckle spectacular that gets you on your feet and keeps the party pumping all-night long. They’re a band that get’s it: progressive brass beats with a festive attitude and a groovy onslaught of stellar vocal harmonies and horns that are marvelously entertaining and unique. Lowdown Brass is a band that can’t be missed and a must see for when they march across your town.

For more on Lowdown Brass Band, follow their social media and stream/download their music below. 

 

Lowdown Brass Band

iTunes Spotify | Google Play | Amazon

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

 

Jackie Venson Shreds the Stage at Rockwood Music Hall

 
Jackie Venson live at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3.

Jackie Venson live at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3.

Austin-based guitarist and singer-songwriter, Jackie Venson, ripped the stage at Rockwood Music Hall last week with an explosive performance that blew us away with electrifying amps, growling rifts and sensual vocals. Rockwood’s serene and tranquilly intimate Stage 3 was the perfect feeding ground for harvesting Venson’s powerful guitar solo that savored our appetite with a mix of blues, soul and rock ‘n’ roll.

The warm candle-lit venue brought us closer to each other, as we sipped on our brews and cocktails while Venson rock out on her 45-minute set. Performing usually with a full set band, Jackie came up to New York as a solo act, giving us New Yorkers a mouthful of that Texas southern soul that blended beautifully with bluesy rock elements and a distinctive sound of pop.

Jackie Venson on guitar at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3.

Jackie Venson on guitar at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3.

Exposed to music since eight years old, Jackie Venson is a young musician/guitarist that has captivated the hearts and minds of her audiences through her music. Coming off an impressive summer tour with guitarist/singer-songwriter, Gary Clark, Jr., Jackie has become a household name in the independent blues and rock scene. Her mastery of blending the genres blues, soul and rock together speaks to her profound musicianship that’s coupled with her lyrical depth and gripping storytelling.

With local shows and tours performed across Austin, TX, Jackie has toured extensively throughout the south and the west coast, enthralling audiences that capture the Jackie Venson experience through the raw power and vibrant soul of her guitar. As a powerful and passionate artist, Jackie Venson illustrated these traits last week with an invigorating performance that elicited those gritty bayou blues and southern rock ‘n’ roll.  

Jackie Venson on vocals at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3.

Jackie Venson on vocals at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3.

Jackie’s new EP Transcends released earlier this month and was on hand for that weekend as she performed several hit songs from the record. Her solo acts to “Flying,” “Fight” and “Transcends” exemplified Jackie’s versatile compositions and her complexity as an artist to span across genres. On “Flying,” Jackie gave us a flawless mix of pop and rock elements that provided enhanced lyrical ability and stellar musicianship. Her impressive command on stage held audiences in their seats, as Jackie’s guitar rifts fueled a smooth, yet dominating sound. Her play on “Fight” and “Transcends” spoke to Jackie’s ruthlessness on the guitar, while also assembling those 80’s pop kicks and savvy guitar licks that conquered the grasps of the rock ‘n’ roll and blues genre.

Her opening song, “Don’t Lie to Me,” as well as her incredible cover to Tab Benoit’s, “Nice and Warm,” were essential memories from Jackie’s NYC visit. On her opener, Jackie displayed a fantastic guitar solo that wowed audiences and provided an alluring sound that drew audiences thirsty for more. On the Tab Benoit cover, Jackie informed us of how Benoit’s song was one of the artists’ many influences for picking up the guitar. Jackie’s act breathed a fresh air of classic bayou blues and American rock ‘n’ roll that took stage 3 by storm, delivering a simmering guitar play, decadent licks and Orleans style amps.

Jackie Venson mesmerizing audiences at Rockwood Music Hall.

Jackie Venson mesmerizing audiences at Rockwood Music Hall.

Jackie Venson is a guitarist that has mastered the raw and gritty southern blues with each note her fingers find on the neck and body of her guitar. Her mesmerizing voice, delicate, yet cool attitude and shear talent on the strings are but of the few components that allow her musical expression to be so powerful. Her dominance on the guitar, musical depth and command of her audience has placed Jackie as one of the top emerging guitarists in the independent scene.

Her innate ability to blend the genres produces a rich sound of passion and emotion that establishes a connection with her audiences, as well as illustrates the complexities with her musicianship. She has certainly become a driving force for indie-guitarists today and has our recommendation for anyone’s playlist.

Follow, stream and listen to Jackie Venson's music today!

 

Jackie Venson

iTunes Spotify | Google Play | Amazon

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

 

 

 

Music Premiere: J. Alan Schneider Takes us on a Journey with "The State Line"

 
Photo courtesy of Derek Springsteen

Photo courtesy of Derek Springsteen

New York City is home to one of the most diverse areas in the world, and if you're a native, then you already know I'm talking about Queens. It is a borough overflowing with culture, culinary expertise, and most important of all, some of the worlds best music. It was here that indie-folk artist J. Alan Schneider debuted his first album Lo & Behold which was written and recorded alongside other Queens-bred musicians. We're not surprised that J. Alan has chosen to follow suit and bring his brand new EP On Precipice to fruition in the same way. Prior to the long-awaited release arriving soon on October 27th, 2017, Alan has released its first single, "The State Line", which gives us a small taste of what's to come on his second major record. 

The slow, earnest, guitar riffs convey a melancholic melody; it evokes a story of someone lost in their thoughts eager to find a path, but may never. "The State Line" is a haunting take on an artist searching the world to find himself yet never needing to leave the confines of his own mind. With raw lyrics such as, "Colorado's fucked since everyone's moved there / And she's been in a rut since November of '16", Alan not only has the rare ability to tell us a story, but to take us along on his journey. There is no doubt that this latest single adds much to the indie-folk catalog, and leaves us impatiently waiting for the full EP release later this month.

Until then, read our exclusive interview with the man himself below. Get to know his thoughts on being an independent artist in New York City, the creative process behind his latest single, and where to get the best bourbon-glazed bacon tots in Queens. We'll try and save you some. 

J. Alan performing live at Pianos in NYC. Photo courtesy of Angelo Santoro

J. Alan performing live at Pianos in NYC. Photo courtesy of Angelo Santoro

- How did you first get into music, what was your inspiration?

Music started, for me, as the piano lessons I trudged to my next door neighbor's house for (she was a piano teacher). It became the thing I was pretty good at when I took up clarinet in the Middle School band, and the passion I became pretty proficient at when I won regional chamber competitions and joined All State and All Eastern bands on clarinet and string bass. In my adult life it has morphed into something that occupies space in my brain that people normally reserve for faith. Songwriting is what I turn to when I'm anxious, down, or generally directionless. I first started writing songs in the pop-punk band I played in in Junior High, and I've never put that pen down.

- Being from New York City, is it easier or harder to build a career as an artist?

That's a double edged sword. On the one hand there is so much noise in this city that it's sometimes hard to get people to stop and listen, let alone care and make a connection. On the other hand, I have access to some of the best venues in the world for my level of music career, and I can legit play at them. I can take meetings with journalists, or go to music industry events. Hell, every night of the week there's even an open mic night that would pass in any other market as a perfectly serviceable singer-songwriter show. Beyond that, in NYC, you don't really look at the city -- as a whole -- as a scene. In the 90s, you had alt pop/rock in the East Village... before that it was punk. The scene is segmented. I live in Astoria -- a hip neighborhood in Queens -- and between the local breweries and the roots-blues-themed brunch spots, you can find a lot of local passion just in my neighborhood alone.

- As an independent artist, do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

I'm not sure I'm at the level to give advice to aspiring musicians, but I think one thing that I struggle with even myself is to stay focused on what's important and what it is I love about this -- the music. It's easy to look left and right at other musicians in your network who get achievements that you want. It's easy to feel that jealousy and wonder what you can do to get on that playlist or get that press coverage. But, while hustling and staying motivated and promoting the hell out of yourself is important, it's arguably more important to remember that sitting down to write a song, arrange it, and record it in a way that perfectly expresses your mind is really what it's all about. Stay focused and you'll stay determined.

J. Alan performing live at Rockwood Music Hall. Photo courtesy of Derek Springsteen.

J. Alan performing live at Rockwood Music Hall. Photo courtesy of Derek Springsteen.

- Can you tell us about your creative method behind your latest EP single, “The State Line”?

As with pretty much every song I record, "The State Line" was produced and laid down entirely in my home studio in Queens, NY. I record all of my music around the guitar and vocal tracks. The piano and keyboards were done after, the electric guitar was done to add texture (I had one of my good friends Tory Mance lay some down for me). But beyond production, the song is sort of a warm, dark take on fate. As humans, we can't necessarily control everything in our lives, and grappling with that can be hard to reconcile when you have goals. That's what the lyrics are loosely based on.

- What tone can we expect from the upcoming EP?

That theme of accepting and adapting to fate is kind of what the EP is about in a nutshell. This album will probably be a good bit darker and a little rougher around the edges than my last record. Lo & Behold (which I released in July of last year) was an attempt to show the world what kind of music I can make with just a full, bright-sounding acoustic guitar and my voice. On Precipice is going to bring in more electric guitar, rougher-feeling acoustic tracks, and lyrics that are less contained in one song, and more related from song-to-song.

- Each musician has a unique writing process, how do you define your artistry?

After being asked this question numerous times by friends and other journalists (both for this project and my previous indie rock band Jet Black Sunrise), I've decided that I honestly don't know how the hell a song comes about. For me, there's no way to plan it. Sometimes I'll start a song that I think I love, and then find out the next day that I hate it. And from there I'll have to pick what I like about it (the lyrics? the chord progression? the weird specific riff-hook I started with?) and spend days and days just chipping away at it, deciding if a good song is in there. Sometimes, I'll get a new guitar, or a new pedal, and I'll sit there with the guitar, maybe noodling as I'm watching TV or something, and stumble on a vibe/hook that speaks to me, and then I build on that and finish a whole song in one night. Some of my best songs have been written on nights I hadn't even planned on writing. It's weird when that happens, but there is something really cool knowing that something tangible like a song does actually come from a really intangible place.

- Which artists are you listening to today, anyone you'd recommend?

I have my go-to artists that I keep coming back to year after year (Bon Iver and Tallest Man On Earth to name a couple), but on a monthly basis, there's a revolving door of new albums I'm listening to non-stop. This month I'm spinning Pinegrove's latest record, the newest release from Jason Isbell, and Haim's LP. They're all great and you should give them a try!

Photo courtesy of Derek Springsteen

Photo courtesy of Derek Springsteen

- What's the best concert you've attended, and if you could perform onstage with anyone - who?

It's hard to pinpoint a best concert, but a few that come to mind: Mutemath at The Met in Pawtucket, RI (the most energy I've seen at a concert, ever, I think), Bon Iver in Port Chester, NY, and Tallest Man On Earth at Newport Folk Festival. If I could perform with anyone on stage it would probably be Phil Cook --he used to play in Justin Vernon's band and now has his own records and performs with Hiss Golden Messenger. This dude is a serious keys and guitar player who knows the best way to service a song. And I think it would be a huge inspiration to play with him.

- If you could eat at one restaurant for the rest of your life - where would it be and why?

There's a spot in Astoria, NY called the Sandwich Bar that isn't particularly big, nor is it particularly notable in the larger NYC restaurant scene. But between their bourbon-glazed bacon tots at brunch, and their house-roasted chicken grilled cheese, their food is some that I don't think I'd ever get tired of. They also have a really killer tap list.

- When is the EP set to release, and what can we expect after?

On Precipice will hit digital shelves on October 27th of this year, and you can expect a release show in NYC, plus a short run of northeast dates to support it. From there, I'll just see where the momentum takes -- you never know how a record is going to be received, and like I said up there, I can't expect anything. All I can do is put out music I love and hope other people love it, too.

 

"The State Line" is available now and keep up with J. Alan below!

J. Alan Schneider

iTunes Spotify | Bandcamp | Soundcloud

Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

 

Music Premiere: "Vibe" with Fly By Midnight in our Exclusive Interview

 
Slavo (L) and Justin Bryte (R) of Fly By Midnight.

Slavo (L) and Justin Bryte (R) of Fly By Midnight.

It was a warm Wednesday night last week and as we walked the streets of New York City, the Lower West Side was alive and buzzing with the promise of a good time. We were heading to the swanky Soho House, known for it's vintage decadence, beautifully constructed menus, and mixologists with enough flair to shake a room and enough talent to pour a drink you'd never forget. New York-based, Retro-Pop duo, Fly By Midnight was hosting a secret show at The Vinyl Room and we were the last lucky few to get a glimpse of their musical energy in action. 

The stage was blue-lit, warm, and set up for an hour and a half of music that would soon capture a performance few could forget. Fly By Midnights' Justin Bryte and Slavo even having just touched down from a London tour one day prior were full of excitement and absolutely ready to not only embrace the mics, but showcase their brand new single: "Vibe". With electricity in the air and the crowd buzzing, the duo leaped onstage and got to work showing those in attendance the results of their hard work.

With Justin on the keys and Slavo on guitar, their vibrant sounds merged perfectly as their combined vocals told stories of young love, the pitfalls of modern dating, and how exciting it is finding that special vibe with someone new. The audience couldn't help dancing to every single track; a live showcase turned into a full party once the retro-pop team jumped off-stage and sang among the crowd. In all, Fly By Midnight is a brilliant duo that not only commands a stage but also make their passion for music shine brightly in each track. From the retro head-bobbing beats, catchy pop hooks, and lyrics that anyone can relate to, we can all agree that these guys will undoubtedly make a mark in music.

Before you run off to listen to their latest track, "Vibe", read our interview below with Justin and Slavo to get an exclusive inside look into their inspiration behind the music, touring advice for artists, and most importantly, who their favorite super heroes are.

Slavo (L) and Justin Bryte (R) of Fly By Midnight.

Slavo (L) and Justin Bryte (R) of Fly By Midnight.

- How did you both get into music and how did Fly By Midnight start?

J: Fly By Midnight has really been a culmination of both of our journeys building our craft as artists. I started off in a theatrical background. I was cast in plays like Pippin, Crazy For You and a handful of others. Mid high school years I had uploaded my first YouTube cover that caught way more attention than I had expected. From there I began listening to all genres of music and really fell in love with songwriting. It's always been to me about continuing to grow and learn more and that's the best part of Fly By Midnight. We're constantly pushing each other to be better and take our music in new & exciting directions.

S: I began playing guitar when I was 10 years old and made it an immediate goal to become good enough to play in my older brothers band. After about a year of playing my Fender Squire Strat non stop he let me join one of their band practices and I fell in love. I moved to New York from Florida (my hometown) about 4 years ago on my 19th birthday to pursue an engineering/producer apprenticeship at Chung King Studios. After that program ended, I needed a new reason to stay in NY and I found that in Fly By Midnight.  

- What were some of your favorite collaborations early on?

J: I think one of the best collaborations still has to be our cover of "We Don't Talk Anymore" with Nicole Medoro & Nicolette Mare. We had filmed it right before hopping on a flight to perform in China. The video was super simple & we genuinely had fun shooting it. I think that genuineness is what really sells these days and was a huge factor behind it performing as well as it did.

S: My favorite collab was probably the one we did before Fly By Midnight was technically a thing. The cover we did of “I Really Like You” by Carly Rae Jepsen was a lot of fun and laid the groundwork for what was to come of this duo. That collab was pivotal to surfacing the potential of our combined creativity.

Slavo on Guitar at Soho House. Photo courtesy of Kevin Vallejos.

Slavo on Guitar at Soho House. Photo courtesy of Kevin Vallejos.

- What drew you to cover Charlie Puths' “We Don't Talk Anymore”, did you expect it to go viral?

J: We didn't expect it to go viral at all. Even the song choice was a bit out of the box for us being that it wasn't a single at the time. Slavo and I just thought it was the strongest song on his album so we brought in the girls and just vibed out.

S: That was early on in the Fly By Midnight project if I’m not mistaken and at that time I don’t think we had any expectations. Starting a new project requires a lot of trial and error to discover what excites you and what excites your audience and this was one of those where we discovered something special.

- What’s life like being on tour? Do you have any advice for artists looking to hit the road?

J: It's been such a fun ride. We love meeting new and old fans alike. Whether it's acoustic sessions at colleges or full blown festivals. My advice would be to always make it a point to meet as many people as you can after the shows. Take the time to make that connection. It's gone a really long way for us.

S: It’s one thing to make music that people enjoy, but when you get to physically see people react to something you’ve created night after night in unfamiliar places it’s truly special. I would second what Justin said. There’s nothing like making genuine human interaction with new fans/friends.

Justin on vocals at Soho House. Photo courtesy of Kevin Vallejos.

Justin on vocals at Soho House. Photo courtesy of Kevin Vallejos.

- Who are your favorite artists today?

J: I've been really digging the throwback sounds of Computer Games & Fickle Friends. Imagine Dragons new album was so dope as well!

S: With music being so accessible I feel like my “favorite” artist is constantly changing. Right now I would say I’m really into Khalid and Thomas Rhett’s new album.

- If you could perform in any city or country, where would it be and why?

J: We definitely want to tour the whole world, but knowing how strong our influence is in the Philippines & Hong Kong  that would be on another level. We get so many comments from overseas and to meet those fans would be super rewarding.

S: I’ve always wanted to go to Australia. I know getting there would be brutal, but it’s always been on the top of my list. We actually have a cool little following down there as well.

Justin (L) and Slavo (R) onstage at The Vinyl Room. Photo courtesy of Kevin Vallejos.

Justin (L) and Slavo (R) onstage at The Vinyl Room. Photo courtesy of Kevin Vallejos.

- Who's your favorite superhero? What's better: DC or Marvel Comics?

S: I’ve never been big into superheros, but I’ll have to go with Batman. I think it’s dope how he doesn’t technically have any powers, but he still manages to kick a**. With that being said I suppose I’m team DC.

J: Well I’m obsessed with superheros so it’s hard to just choose one. I’d say Marvel wise definitely Spiderman. I actually dressed up in a full costume to see the latest movie in theaters (geek alert). DC wise, probably Shazam. Love the idea of this young boy becoming this super powerful man by saying one word. I can’t choose one, ah!

- Can you tell us about your inspiration behind your latest track, “Vibe”?

S: “Vibe” was a track inspired by the word itself. The chorus and the concept came pretty easy, to be honest the verse and the pre chorus required the most effort. Once we had it all finished in front of us though, we knew it was something different and special for us.

J: It’s a song purely about attraction. The fun adventure of exploring feelings for someone new.

 

- What can we expect from Fly By Midnight in the future?

S: We’re constantly writing/producing/touring and building our platform. One thing we’ve always wanted to release was a body of work. Whether it be an EP or a full length album. Right now it’s all about timing, but that’s definitely in our near future.

J: I second that. Slavo & I are obsessed with creating and taking as much new material as we can on the road. We want to give the world a body of work that is Fly By Midnight. It’s only the beginning and that’s truly the exciting part.

 

Listen to the latest single "Vibe" now and be sure to follow them below!

Fly By Midnight

iTunes Spotify | Google Play | Amazon

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

 

Water Seed Marvels The Bitter End During The We Are Stars 2017 Tour

 

Water Seed continues their dominance as one of the premier funk/soul acts in the independent music scene. Their performance at The Bitter End resulted in a pumped-up-crowd standing ovation that marveled New York City through the bands innovative musicianship.

Hailing from New Orleans, Water Seed’s funkalistic performance was vocally breathtaking, soulfully beloved and instrumentally magnificent as the sounds of jazz, funk and early 60’s R&B flushed throughout the legendary NYC venue.

Water Seed kicked off the night with a little “Funktimus” while audiences danced away to their seats, feeling the vibe of Water Seed’s livid and extravagant sound filled with dynamic horns, immense string and rumbling percussion that ascended through rivetingly alluring vocals. The band’s impressively funktagious performance blew us away with a jammed out session bursting with big band arrangements and reverberating instrumentation.

Water Seed’s breezy Nawlins’ groove, “Work It Out,” was a delightfully smooth example of the band’s soulful and jazzy-esque sound that allowed audiences to give themselves away to the chilled early 60’s boardwalk rhythms. Water Seed’s refreshing jazz piece, “Duke’ish,” held electrically jazzy overtones, funky 70’s-esque vibes and profound artistry that merged beautifully among soothing keys and distinct basslines.

Nawlins’ finest then gave the crowd a little positivity under their song, “Brand New Day,” as Lou Hill led the charge with an “I feel good! - I feel great!” chant, guiding audiences through a full-on jazz-funk fest filled with a harmoniously spacious flute, seductively provocative keys and driven horns. Berkley The Artist and Shaleyah added another powerful vocal performance as Water Seed jammed out on stage in front of a packed crowd, offering a climactically exhilarating voice ushered with gospel-esque and funkadelic rhythms.

Water Seed’s memorable performances continue to be a testimony to the band’s innovative and progressive style that has dominated the indie music scene. Their album is rich with immense sound, charming melodies, funkalistic grooves and complex instrumentation. Their sound forces audiences on their feet – to dance, applaud and relish in the Water Seed experience.

The band’s vigorous energy, jazzy arrangements, along with genre binding musicianship, allows Water Seed to sustain their spine-tingling presence within a genre that continues to gain appeal in the industry.

Make sure to catch Water Seed live in a city near you and download/stream, “We Are Stars,” today! Tour dates and locations shown below.

 

Tour Dates

7/13. Seven. Santa Barbara, CA

7/18. Hotel Utah. San Francisco, CA

7/19. Crazy Horse. Nevada City, CA

7/20 through 7/22. Peppermill Casino. Reno, NV

7/23. Lagunitas. Petaluma, CA

7/25. Winston's. San Diego, CA

7/27. Pour House. Oceanside, CA

7/28. Hotel Cafe. Los Angeles, CA

 

Water Seed

iTunes Spotify | Google Play | Amazon

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube