INDIESTREET

Interviews with an underground NYC music legend, Milo Z, and his budding jazz saxophonist (Steven Frieder) give our creative community some insight on different ways to manage the ever-changing creative ecosystem.

    A rainy afternoon in the early 1980s: Soft rain acts the snare as a group of young boys add the kick drum on their leaps from truck top to truck top. Right behind CBGBs is where the old U-Haul trucks used to line up tight, and that is where the bright eyed young stompers would play their games and talk of the unknown. This is where the young boys would undoubtedly stumble upon some mischief that might just turn them into young men. In general these were the days when kids went out to play for the whole day without checking in ‘til the street lights came on.

     Milo Z was one of these boys, free to explore the East Village with no need to digitally check in or post a quick selfie to announce whereabouts. Humans were happy to share memories with a select few, but Milo still dreamt of big days ahead. It was one of the first days this particular group of boys had graduated from truck hopping to cab looting when the now local icon found an old practice drum set. Milo dragged that drum set home, and the rest is as Milo would say, is Razzamofunk!

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This past week, I had the chance to interview two musicians in different stages of their careers, different stages of their lives, and from different eras of the music scene. Even stemming from two unique ideological generations, these talents share the stage, perform together, and inspire each other in the types of ways that make crowds gather on Indie Street. Both Milo Z and the young jazz saxophonist Steven Frieder had lots to share about their values, their music, and their paths as independent artists.

The Who

Milo Z
A total professional, Milo Z sings, dances, conducts, orchestrates, and interacts with the crowd, all the while dressing and grooving in a style that is unique and all his own.. Showcasing his talent in NYC for decades, now 5 albums deep, Milo has the experience and grit that produces some truly authentic music and lyrics. His appreciation for originality is pretty obvious considering he has created his own music genre Razzamofunk (a blend of Rap, Rock, Rythym & Blues, Jazz and Funk).

Steven Frieder
Steven is only 24, but some consider him a sort of jazz prodigy. His saxophone will transport you back to a day of funky soul from before you were born, or may have forgot existed. Steven wales on the sax with Milo Z and a variety of other bands, and released his first album as a leader last year.

Steven and Milo seem to have a natural synergy with each other. Not just a student-teacher relationship, but one where both realize the great benefits of the others presence regardless of age or experience. The young generation has a lot to learn from the toughness and persistence of those who succeeded in the past, but now more than ever, older generations must keep an open ear to the young street for new ways to swing and sling in the market.

The two will be traveling with the rest of the Milo Z band to spread the funk in Greece later this month. Milo Z loves bringing in and bringing up young musicians, who he admits at times end up on even bigger stages than his. He becomes enlivened from the youthful vigor and reconfirmed by challenging Steven and others to perform at their highest level. Steven looks to Milo a leader who expects the most of himself and his band while committing himself to his craft and his crowd.

Distribution & Self Promotion

New School – Steven Frieder
The simple act of referring to this young talented musician “new school” is probably an injustice because his musical soul and spirit are from a different generation. In any case, his physical age is of the digital era, so we asked him about the new tools for getting out there. For the most part, Steven believes it is very different from musician to musician depending on their priorities, but he did reveal what he believes to be the most intriguing new digital concepts:

“I think that one of the most powerful social media phenomenas is that of the viral video. Do you remember this video of the subway street performers that went huge last year? It’s this trio with Bari Sax, Trumpet and percussion. Too Many Zooz. I know the horn players, good friends of mine that I went to college with. That video went viral overnight because someone posted it on reddit. Now, they are touring all over, playing in Europe and all over the west coast. I couldn’t be happier for them, cats that went to a major jazz conservatory, and got big playing “Brass-House” as they call it. It’s some great stuff.”

Old School – Milo Z
As an old school cat at heart, Milo Z (and many other humans on the planet) feel that the social networking and digital media have started a trend toward shameless self promotion:

“Nowadays everybody is a star, everyone is taking their selfies. There is no shame. It seems now the old expression there is no bad press has reached a new height.”

Lyrics from Milo Z song, “Bitch (for the camera)”:
“Nobody cares if they’re comin’ off wrong or right, as long as their name in the paper gets spelled right.

Even for artists who have some hostility toward youtube stars and the year of the selfie, there are still many ways to hit the avenues while still creating art. Milo Z for example, is taking advantage of his creative drive and rich childhood to write his first book.

“It's a coming of age story of a kid growing up in NYC and the (Lower East Side) in a time when the L.E.S. in particular was a very different place, a rough place that was untamed and untrendy. I’m exploring a different way to be creative and i'm excited about the process. Maybe I can drop my next album when the book comes out and one thing can cross pollinate the other, than who knows.”

We School – What can other cooperative artists learn
It seems the takeaway is that being genuine in your marketing is what matters. Even if you don’t want to write a whole book, you can tell your story without it being shameless self-promotion. Cross marketing, collaborating, and finding new ways to reach the audience is part of surviving for an entrepreneurial artist. Artists have always been entrepreneurial by necessity, and new tools like viral videos, social networking, and crowd funding, (while making it more complicated), do give more ways for creative to think a bit more about business.

Crowdfunding

Old School - Milo Z
When I asked Milo Z if he ever considered using a Kickstarter or Indiegogo crowd funding campaign, he was a bit taken aback. “Passing the can around just doesn’t feel right for some reason.” If you are from an era like Milo Z and myself where you feel weird to ask your friends and family for some extra scratch, then the odds are that they may think it a little awkward too if they are of similar age and upbringing. Crowd funding can alienate your core audience if your audience doesn’t think its cool.

New School – Steven Freider
Steven used IndieGogo to help finance his first album, After Time (Produced by Jake Hertzog, feat. Bob Meyer, Luke Franco, & Peter Brendler) and had this to say.

“I think crowd funding is a great idea for independent artist to finance their project. How much you can raise definitely comes down to your strategy and your audience. My audience was mostly friends, family, my fellow musicians, and people who kept asking about when I was going to make a CD! I kept the project within my limits, and still paid for most of it out of pocket.”

We School – What can other cooperative artists learn
If you have grown up in the age of crowd funding and to your knowledge your circles support the idea or would really enjoy your rewards, than what is the harm in going for it? Even if all your friends and family don’t have much dough, they can spread the word to others in similar circles so you can grow your audience (even if you don’t raise millions). There may be one new fan you get who may have some serious connects or a huge network of followers themselves. On the other hand, be honest about who your core audience is. If you think they would be offended by asking for donations, than maybe look toward other avenues of financing your next project. We have not used crowd funding yet directly for IndieStreet, but thre is surely value in it: some of our filmmakers have raised a good amount of money, as well as increased awareness for their projects.

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Creation – The School of the Insane Now

When I asked both of these unique artists why they made music, I got answers far from the realm of digital, all of the words were lined with human passion and grace. So rather than me go on about why they create, I chose a few of the most telling quotes from my talks with each of these talented musical creators:

Milo Z: I make music because I have to. If I wasn’t making music I would lose my mind. I think we are all a little bit crazy and what keeps us sane is our outlet.

Steven: My mother played and taught classical piano, played guitar and sang. She passed away when I was 17, and it is very much because of her that I play music today.

Milo Z: What has changed for me in the last few years is that I'm a father now and that now my daughter Sierra is the most important thing to me, even more than my art! If I never did another show I still be her dad so the rest Is gravy.

Steven: One of the greatest truths for any art, is that there is always more to learn, no matter what level you have achieved…

Milo Z and Steven Frieder are innately insane artists from different schools, but they both really live by the same code. Don’t fight the human need to create, don’t stop learning, create with your heart, and be authentic. The actual creation of art and its motives do not seem to change too much from generation to generation. No technology can stop our primal emotions and releases. No technology can truly engage a human audience without a human story behind it. Milo is building on his already rich story, and Steven is just starting to write his.

If Indie Street can help harvest discussion and keep the most talented (and by Milo Z’s definition the most insane) creators with sustainable outlets, then we can all stay a bit more connected to our human roots. By getting creative with technology and sharing the experience of truly unique individuals, the world gets to hear more great music, watch more great films, and keep some really awesome people from going insane.

-Jay Webb, Indie Street

Check out more and keep informed on Steven and Milo Z at the links below:

Milo Z Website

Buy his album on CD Baby

Milo Z Facebook Page

Milo Z Reverb Nation page

Steven Frieder's Website

Steven's Facebook Page

2016 was quite the year - one full of turmoil and disappointments. Sadly, 2017 has basically been exactly like last year except x1000000 in craziness. We have to do what we can to find any glimmer of hope possible. This is exactly what filmmaker Sean Wang’s sparkling indie gem “3,000 Miles” offers - a filmic glitter of touching beauty and hope. At only 5 mins, this sweet doc chronicles, via a visual montage of snippets of a city in motion and voicemail audio, Wang’s year living and working abroad in New York City. The story is told through voicemail messages left by his mother, from July 2016 to just recently, checking in on him over the course of a turbulent 12-month period in modern American history. Scenes of the city, reminders of the Trump administration, the feeling of simultaneous opportunity and oppression of being in a foreign country all emotionally seep through a beautiful concoction of words and images. Please take 5 minutes out of your day to experience this moving portrait of time, history, place and family…and hey, why not give your loved ones a ring afterwards! 

The last couple of years have seen an explosion of lyric music videos. They are less expensive and easier to make than regular music videos and they keep fans on the channels of artists rather than give them the opportunity of exploring unofficial sources. So, it has become somewhat of a custom for well known artists to do one or two lyric music video for tracks they are also planning to release. Most of them are quite straight-forward. Some, however, are rather creative. Here are three fresh releases, worthy of your time!        Green Day – Too Dumb To Die  A very beautiful collage style video with a retro look, this promo is an absolute joy to watch. Smart use of typography fusing brilliantly with the simple yet effective animations, all incorporated in MiraRuido's aesthetic. The director is actually called Joseba Elorza and comes from Basque County in Spain. He studied to become a sound technician but his evening hobby of working on collages later prompted him to become an illustrator/animator.  

  Taylor Swift – Look What You Made Me Do Before there was the super expensive video everybody liked to talk about, Taylor released this beautiful ode to Saul Bass a.k.a 'the man who changed graphic design'. Created by ODD and produced by Taylor herself, together with Joseph Kahn, director of her official promo, this lyric video is (we think!) waaay more witty and interesting than the live action one.  

  P!nk – What About Us A more low budget lyric video but with a very special approach to the actual typography. Mimicking handwriting, the words become harder to read in the songs' more emotional and dramatic moments. As a matter of fact, a number of fans have complained that the promo defies the whole idea of a lyric music video whose purpose should be to see the actual words that are being sang. But it is this precise illegibility that makes it stand out - not to mention perfectly fits the song's message (that of a deteriorating relationship). Even more so, it also beautifully compliments the stirring live action video directed by Georgia Hudson.  

 About Maria: "Multimedia in Human Form. Media researcher. Journalist. Filmmaker. PR and Social Media Mind. Cinephille. TV Shows aficionado. Books Lover. Music Video guru and former curator of the 2Pause.com project"

One of Indie Street / Indie Street Film Festival's absolute favorite documentaries from the past year has FINALLY reached the big screen! Winner of the second annual ISFF award for Best Feature Documentary, UNREST has landed at IFC Center in NYC! If you missed the premiere event this past weekend, don't fret! Filmmaker and subject of this poignant and beautiful study on ME/CFS and chronic ilnness, Jennifer Brea, will be in-person for a Q&A after the 7:50 screening this Thursday, September 28! Believe us, you'd be crazy to miss this opportunity! For more information on tickets and screening times, head to IFC Center's website. And be sure to watch the trailer for the film below! 

If you love short films, then you've most definitely heard about Jim Cummings' 2016 ultra-successful Sundance-winning short film THUNDER ROAD. If you haven't, then you've probably been living under a rock and that's no good. First things first, if you've not seen this short film, remove the rock from on top of you, stop everything else you're doing and experience one of the best, most emotional rides provided in a short film....pretty much ever. And if you've seen it - heck, watch it again right now! At Indie Street, we can't get enough of this short - it even won the inaugural Indie Street Film Festival Best Narrative Short Jury Award. A film fit for all the acclaim in the world! So, what could literally be better than this film? Um, probably the potential of A FEATURE LENGTH VERSION OF IT. Yes, you've heard me right. The team behind THUNDER ROAD are at it again and are looking to raise the money to fund one of the best filmic ideas of all time. If you appreciate any level of film, story, innovation, perseverance, creativity, Springsteen, and talent, you've GOT to donate to this cause right now. Over an hour of ace storytelling and camerawork will be gifted to all film lovers around the world. What more could you want?? Head to the THUNDER ROAD Kickstarter NOW and get donatin'!!! 

 About Maria:

We're ending the summer in a quirky breezy way with an arts & crafts style video! LAMAR + NIK go back to the simple yet witty concept that made them famous. Before lyric music videos were even a thing, they made this dazzling piece that featured the song's words made of gigantic cardboards. “Magnolia” was everything we loved about indie, low budget productions...not to mention it was also environmentally friendly given the letters were made from discarded cardboards from grocery stores. For The Shins' new video, they chose another tactic - yet, it's still as ground-breaking and impressive: filmed on a white backdrop, edited, then printed out. “Half A Million” was created with 5,566 stickers, hand cut from 4,868 frames and animated by sticking them down on top of each other at each of the 40+ locations. Great concept and an awesome twist for a video based on a band performance! 

 About Maria: "Multimedia in Human Form. Media researcher. Journalist. Filmmaker. PR and Social Media Mind. Cinephille. TV Shows aficionado. Books Lover. Music Video guru and former curator of the 2Pause.com project"

Hard to believe that the 2nd annual Indie Street Film Festival started almost a month ago already! The good news is that this means only 11 more months until the 2018 edition! While we are already excitedly counting down the days until next year, it doesn’t hurt to start collecting and watching some awesome indie films to bide our time. A good place to start? With some of the best short films of this year’s fest - one's that are already available online! This week we are proud to feature filmmaker Caitlyn Green’s short AUGUST - an experimental mediation on a woman waking from a fever dream, deep in Lousiana’s swampland, where it has been August for 16 years. An audience favorite, AUGUST had a superb run on the festival circuit, including playing at Slamdance Film Festival, and was recently featured on Short of the Week. Kudos to an innovative short that we were proud to program and share with NJ audiences! If you missed out on watching in Red Bank last month, check out the poetic narrative now on Vimeo!  

I've got both good news and bad news. The bad news? If you missed the soon-to-be cult hit DAVE MADE A MAZE on Opening Night of the 2017 Indie Street Film Festival...well, let me just say: BOY, DID YOU MISS OUT! But hey, the good news? The jaw-droppingly innovative indie film that everyone is raving about is NOW AVAILABLE to watch in theaters AND online on VOD! Red Bank audiences absolutely loved this impressive feat of story and cardboard, saying that it was a festival defining film for ISFF....and now is your chance to join the fandom. This is one quirky, crazy, fun and one-of-a-kind film that has something for everyone. Believe me, you don't want to miss this one! Watch the trailer below and then head to the film's official site to check out showtimes and where to watch online!  

Starving for some delicious indie cinema? Well, all you hungry, hungry film lovers…today is your lucky day! Matthew Salleh and Rose Tucker’s Indie Street Film Festival hit BARBECUE launches on NETFLIX globally….TODAY! If you had the fine honor of attending the screening in Red Bank last July, as well as the community cookout held afterwards at Bow Tie Cinema, you’d know that it was definitely one of the most “appetizing” highlights of this year’s second edition fest! If you missed out, well, no fear! Take those rumbling bellies and head to Netflix to treat yourself to one tasty, culturally eye-opening documentary. The award-winning film premiered at SXSW 2017, was a crowd favorite at ISFF and is set to take the online foodie community by storm with its VOD release. Giving its audience a journey around the world through the eyes of cooking and barbecue, Salleh and Tucker show us so beautifully that food can bring the world together, in an almost religious way! It's exactly what we need right now. Join the cinematically delicious cult movement - don't delay! For more info, head to the film’s website or check out the filmmakers’ latest interview with Australian media. Oh and watch NOW

The past week was a whirlwind of creative energy, community-boosting moments, innovative films and overall, a seriously cool culmination of indie spirit in Red Bank, NJ at the second annual Indie Street Film Festival! It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone! And after an inspiring 5 days, the team behind Indie Street Film Festival was beyond honored to announce this year's award winners! "Like Me", directed by Robert Mockler, was named the best narrative feature and "Unrest", directed by Jennifer Brea, took the top prize for best documentary feature as we concluded five days of film screenings plus a wide array of special events and entertainment in Red Bank, New Jersey. Short film winners included Best Narrative Short – "Hold On", directed by Christine Turner and Best Documentary Short – "Little Potato", directed by Wes Hurley and Nathan M. Miller. Best Animation Film was awarded to "Pussy", directed by Renata Gasiorowski. The jury, including noted film critics, producers and filmmakers Alison Willmore (Buzzfeed), Dominic Davis (Rooftop Films), Heidi Reinberg (Producer), Leah Sapin (Human Rights Watch), Meredith Alloway (Writer), William Cusick (Filmmaker/Programmer), James Belfer (CEO, Cartuna), James Siewert (Award-Winning Director/Animator) and Ben Wiessner (Producer, Ornana Films), also presented Special Jury Awards for Best Editing to "Fish Story", directed by Charlie Lyne and Best Comedic Vision to "Business", directed by Kati Skelton. Red Bank artist and resident Gerda Liebmann earned an Audience Choice award for Best New Jersey Film for her first documentary, "You will be Persecuted". Audience Favorites included Best Narrative Short – "Resolutions", directed by Tamara Fisch and Best Narrative Feature – "Life Hack", directed by Sloan Copeland. Among the many discussions presented, notable panels included Adaptation, which included festival Advisory Board Member and noted Actor/Producer Arian Moayed (Rock the Kasbah) and Oscar-winner Mara Kassin, and Meet the Programmers, featuring Larisa Apan (Hamptons Film Festival) and Opal Hope Bennett (Nantucket Film Festival, Doc NYC). A community mural project at Kitch Organic, an appearance by special surprise guest Actor Amir Arison (The Blacklist), a community barbecue, provided by JBJ Soul Kitchen following the screening of "Barbecue", a documentary directed by Matthew Salleh, and the world premiere of "Brothers", the latest work from New Jersey filmmaker Jack Ballo, about two brothers who lived off the grid for four years in the woods of Sayreville, NJ filmed using only the camera in Ballo’s iPhone, were also festival highlights. “The films we’ve shared made us laugh, cry and hungry,” noted Jim Scavone, Executive Director of Red Bank RiverCenter, and the festival’s Managing Director. The films were screened and the special events held at multiple theatrical venues in Red Bank, including the historic Count Basie Theatre, the Two River Theater, Bow Tie Cinema and Red Bank Middle School. Winners from each feature film category will enjoy a shared 1-week theatrical release in NYC. At the awards presentation, Indie Street Film Festival’s Artistic Director Jay Webb confirmed the event would return to Red Bank in 2018 and planned a long-term commitment and partnership with sponsors and the local arts and business communities. Webb also posed a rhetorical question, asking attendees why support for independent artists and filmmakers was important. "In a world of digital content overload that demands more curation and leaves us less physically connected, gathering people in the community around film screenings and the arts is something our whole team believes is of critical importance,” Webb concluded. “Audiences in a theater or at a live art event in the presence of the creators will feel the shared emotional vibrations of the exhibition and truly become a part of the story.  Offering locals, especially young people, these types of shared creative experiences can help them learn to accept human differences and not be afraid of them.” For more information about the screening of films from the festival, or how to connect with Indie Street Film Festival organizers, artists and filmmakers, visit www.indiestreetfilmfestival.org or follow us on social media!

Oh man! We're less than 2 weeks out from the second annual Indie Street Film Festival! What could be more exciting?! We know: more killer indie news surrounding the fest! ISFF has just announced their special screening slate for this year and if you're an indie film lover, dance enthusiast, or just a Michael Caine fan, you're gonna love this pretty sweet lineup. The New Jersey premiere of the 2017 Slamdance fav "Dave Made a Maze", a breakout film directed by artist/writer Bill Watterson, will open the 2nd Annual Indie Street Film Festival on Wednesday, July 26. Valérie Müller and Angelin Preljocaj’s "Polina", featuring Academy Award-winner Juliette Binoche will be the closing film on Sunday, July 30. The NY/NJ premiere of "Coup D’Etat", directed by Lisa Addario/Joe Syracuse and starring Academy Award and Golden Globe Award-winner Michael Caine and Katie Holmes, and "Person to Person", written and directed by Dustin Guy Defa and starring Michael Cera, Abbi Jacobson and Philip Baker Hall, will also screen at the fest set for July 26th through the 30th in Red Bank, NJ. “From a live art performance by local artist Ronnie Jackson, who carves New Jersey landscapes and scenes into surfboards, a cookout after the screening of the documentary Barbecue with local sponsors, to a Liquid Lights creative workshop, we know festival attendees will enjoy what ISFF brings to the community,” noted ISFF artistic director Jay Webb. “What sets this festival apart from other film events is the integration and cooperation of Red Bank’s venues, restaurants and bars, retail shops and the local arts community which all gel to make the ideal atmosphere to celebrate the creativity of independent filmmakers.” "Dave Made a Maze", featuring Nick Thune as Dave and Meera Rohit Kumbhani as his girlfriend, Annie, is the story of an underachieving artist who builds a fort in his living room only to wind up trapped by fantastical pitfalls, booby traps and critters of his own creation. Ignoring his warnings, Annie leads a band of oddball explorers on a rescue mission. Once inside, they find themselves trapped in an ever-changing supernatural world, threatened by booby traps and pursued by a bloodthirsty Minotaur. In "Polina", a promising classical ballet dancer about to join the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet discovers contemporary dance, a revelation that throws everything into question on a profound level. "Coup D’Etat" is the story of a sixteen-year-old American girl who develops a pen pal relationship with Anton Vincent (Michael Caine), an island nation dictator, who unexpectedly seeks refuge in her suburban garage when he is deposed by his own people. "Person to Person" follows a variety of New York characters as they navigate personal relationships and unexpected problems over the course of one day.The festival will present more than 60 independently produced narrative, documentary and animated films, panel discussions, Q&A’s with filmmakers, live art, an interactive community mural project, a community cookout, and both live and DJ music performances. For a complete schedule and to purchase tickets/passes, please visit www.indiestreetfilmfestival.org!

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