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

Imagine: the perfect moment. Right there in front of you. To capture on film and present to the world… but there’s a catch. Embracing this moment, while worthy of recording and preserving in some capacity, is 100% unethical, pretty much illegal, immorally compromising and just downright wrong. And yet, it’s beautiful, raw in its vulnerability and it’s right there. You’ve got the camera. What do you do? Chance the filmic high or put that visual story-lust aside and possibly save a life?  This is the crux of Ed Christmas’ debut feature “The Man with Four Legs”. A genre-twisting experiment in drama, comedy and documentary, this British indie is 100% fictional but just as much believable in its portrayal of human flaws. Imperfections can be ugly but they can also be magnetic. In “The Man with Four Legs” we are faced with two very different types of flawed yet impressive people. Christmas introduces us to this semi-exaggerated reality through the lens of a group of young, irrational filmmakers hell-bent on documenting an out-of-this-world subject that fell into their laps. What's that? Oh, just the mysterious James Davis (played by prism of an actor, Simon Dobson), a fanatic fantasist and amnesiac that believes his past was totally different from what it actually was. Or was it? The more he pieces together bits of his memories, the eager doc team, led by ruthless, keen-eye’d Angus (Richard Southgate) (with Tom [Daniel Ormorod] and Ethan [Terry Sweeney] somewhat hesitantly by his side), starts to discover this is one very real film project full of twists and turns they never expected it to make. Angus’ perfect moment, the total breakdown and disillusionment of a mind, is handed to him on a shaky silver platter. So, what’s an aspiring filmmaker to do? You’ll just have to enter into this uncomfortable world of missing morals and memories to find out. Trust us, the twist at the end will leave you reeling.  There’s truly something about the dark, twisted beauty of “The Man with Four Legs” that makes this film a real treat for indie film lovers looking for a story totally different and out of left field. The multi-layered bits of faux-documentary, drama, and dark comedy make you question everything, just like the characters in the film. The mirror effect is unnerving, but isn’t that the magic of a good film? You can catch the bloody brilliant British indie gem now across several VOD platforms, including within Indie Street’s own library! Be warned: this a surreal tale that attempts to explore that fine line between reality and fantasy in the most surprising, disturbing of ways. Make it through, you’ll be awarded with a mind-blowing indie experience.  

  Ready to give it a go, then? Watch "The Man With Four Legs" now on Indie Street! 

If you can’t make it to SXSW 2017, what better way to numb away the sadness and pain by spending a few hours this week checking out Vimeo’s Streaming SXSW Channel? Watch films and music videos as if you were right there in Austin with all the other cool cats. And all from the comfort of your own home! Though the majority of selections available on the channel are narrative shorts and music videos, there are also feature length options to check out. Itching for some SXSW in your life? Head on over to Streaming @ SXSW 2017 and get watching NOW!

A few days ago, the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival announced their exciting competiton feature film line up, which you can learn more about here. And now, finally, we have been gifted with an incredible full slate of short films to look forward to next month! 57 films. 10 sections. 1 out of this world festival experience. You can check out the full list of shorts over on Variety! And don't forget: the 16th edition of the film festival runs April 19-30. 

The 2017 Tribeca Film Festival line up announcements are starting to roll in and we are already super psyched for what's on the table so far! The US Narrative, Documentary, and International Narrative competition categories have been announced, as well as Spotlight, Viewpoints, and the popular Midnight section. The 16th annual Tribeca Film Festival takes place April 19th - 30th. You can check out the latest revealed chunk of their program here - and make sure to stay tuned for more!

A scorching sun. A Western route. A man in a car, destination unknown. A woman, seemingly aimless, offering purpose and direction and yet nothing at all. She is our modern day Madonna - and I don’t mean the musician. I’m speaking biblically. Celia Rowlson-Hall’s debut feature “MA” is a dreamlike journey, probably unlike anything else offered on film in recent years. Be warned, though watching is a challenge, patience will reward you with imagery, dancing, and genius that are far from the expected. With “MA”, you’ll find just what you need below the surreal simmering surface of creation. Rowlson-Hall’s unconventional offering attempts to follow the story of a modern day Virgin Mary, making her pilgrimage across the Western landscape - the desert. End goal? Both Las Vegas and birth. The Creation of our Christ Figure. Sound strange? Well, only silent choreography and movement lead the journey. Looking for words? Literally, try the Bible. But if you’re looking for something different, almost transcendental, that doesn’t utilize the moving image medium the way we’ve all narratively become accustomed to, then “MA” might be right up your alley. Our “Mary”, donning an XL T-shirt and cowboy boots, traverses across the baron land, the heat almost permeating off the screen. She encounters a troupe of bizarre characters along the way - some oppressive, some impressive. Her companion for much of the journey is Daniel, your gentle, average man (played by Andrew Pastides) - a sort of “Joseph” if you will. After the two are separated later in the film, she becomes both characters, masculine, preserving the tendency of this film to steer a bit off course from how we usually perceive Mary’s story. Every movement, costume, setting, and character becomes important to note, jumbled up and left to beautifully come together in one of the most bizarre cinematic puzzles I’ve ever witnessed. Celia Rowlson-Hall created a dance-based ode to spiritual concepts that translates if you know how to tune to this very particular frequency of storytelling. Try to join Rowlson-Hall’s pilgrimage blindly and silently - let feeling guide your way and emotion help you through this film. Give into the surreal nature with an active mind and patient eyes. Trust us, it’s not an easy thing to digest. But if you’re looking for a festival fare challenge, beautifully shot and uniquely staged, get acquainted with “MA”, well, ASAP! A true visionary work of art and inspiring voice, further cementing Celia Rowlson-Hall on our one-to-watch list. 

To celebrate one of our favorite shorts of the last year getting STAFF PICKED on Vimeo, enjoy this reposting of our review of "The Past Inside the Present"!  ------------------------------- Ever feel like everyday is the same? We all sit down, plug in and press play. Phones, computers, TVs, tablets. You name it, someone's connected to one. It's a routine we've come to adapt our lives to - day in and day out. A picture here...a video there...a FB post here...a tweet about something inane there. We've become a society so obsessed with documenting our lives within past and present moments that it actually makes the future seem like some intangible concept that never comes into fruition. Every second lived becomes the past at some point. We want to share and we want to document so we can go back and relive. Memories are best preserved and accessed in a physical or digital form, no? Well, what would happen if we totally escaped from the consequences of both our current and future obligations by having the ability to literally crawl back into the best instances of our memories? All of those moments we documented, in a cache or library of some kind, literally available and at the ready to welcome us back with open arms?  Filmmaker James Siewert's animated short "The Past Inside the Present" brings us into an existence where all of this (and more!) is possible. His painstakingly handcrafted world shows us what could come from constantly being plugged in, portraying the soulless black and white by-product of shunning the idea of free, undocumented living. This insanely animated, slightly cyberpunk wonder is what Siewert calls an allegorical tale, displaying the actions of a couple trying to save their dying relationship by renewing it. And how so? By literally connecting themselves into a recorded moment from their time together. Yes, in this world, analog media literally works as a trippy, fucked up time traveling device. Like robots, they wire themselves in and for just a little while, disappear into the abyss. True renewal. While the act of unfulfilled but comfortably repetitive living seems like it would be a safe zone, that feeling is tangled here in an intricate jumble of insanity, madness and eventual emptiness. Past meets present meets future in one overlapping instance that seems to explode into infinity until it's all over and numb reality sets back in. It's dark, it's twisted and it's all very fascinating to disappear into for the 13-min journey. Ask yourself, is this the future world we really want to live in? In order to answer that, experiencing this film and its underlying lesson is a must. In the end, maybe...just maybe...we might realize we don't want this life outside of the confines of the film. The irony? We have to plug-in to watch and learn this fact. That's life in all its past, present and future glory. But oh, what a beautifully hand drawn payoff!  Siewert must be one of the most diligent and innovative up-and-coming animator/directors out there and is definitely one to watch out for in the near future. From animations to music videos, he's got his talented rotoscoping, cinematic hands in a little bit of everything - a true connoisseur of independent creation. "The Past Inside the Present" was a project years in the making, meticulously filmed and drawn frame by frame by a small group. Each individual drawing combines with the others in order to create a dark treat that you should definitely feast your eyes upon and consume.  The great news is that Indie Street gets to help release this must-see, mind-blowing film out into the wild, where it belongs, to claim its plugged-in victims. Watching this short and taking in its extras all feels like an adventure - one into the mind of a talented filmmaker that truly seems to understand the way humans are connecting and disconnecting with each other as well as where we came from and where we are now. Truly a case of the past inside the present.  Check out the trailer below and then head on over to BitTorrent Now to download and watch the full film! While you're there, check out Indie Street's exclusive behind the scenes bundle, including the trailer, a 70 page handcrafted book chronicling the film's conception and production, animated GIFs and stills from the film, 2 time-lapse progress videos and finally, an epic music video honoring the completion of the film (as creative as the final product itself). All it takes is an email to get the full "The Past Inside the Present" experience! Don't miss out on this beautifully dark and prophetic opportunity. Just remember to disconnect, go out and live your life afterwards! WATCH THE FULL FILM FOR FREE NOW ON VIMEO!!!   

  

Red hearts. Pink hearts. Roses. Chocolate. Kisses galore. The symbols and stereotypes of love we’ve come to expect. And what happens when they all culminate into one single day? Valentine’s Day, that’s what. A “holiday” of sorts that seems to always pop up unexpectedly, reminding us of our present lovers OR of our overwhelming solitude. Though the 2017 edition of this annoyingly omnipresent day is fast approaching, we’re up for a little diversion. So calls for another installment of our monthly discovery into the best in VOD and craft beer on the scene. Jayme G., Warehouse Supervisor at Advintage, is bringing us something a little less lovey dovey and a little more, well, psychotic this February. So, make plans to stay in on the 14th. Grab a heart shaped box full of chocolates (all for yourself) and slip into something sexy (or maybe just warm and comfortable), and get ready to get a little crazy!  FILM: The Alchemist Cookbook"The Alchemist Cookbook" follows the bizarre story of Sean, an outcast that isolates himself - along with his cat - in the middle of nowhere in order to carry out some rather...unusual...experiments. Though seemingly “scientific” in nature, things begin to get far more sinister as Sean's alchemist trials and tribulations veer more towards some type of black voodoo magic than a high school chemistry experiment. Enticed? You should be. "The Alchemist Cookbook" is almost, just almost unlike anything I've ever seen before. A film more fitting to Halloween, we think this VOD indie is actually perfect for all you anti-Valentine’s Day loners. We’ll refrain from telling you too much about the film and tell ya to just check out the trailer below! If it’s your cup of tea (or beer!), well then we’ve brewed up the perfect crazy pairing to go with this one-of-a-kind story! 

  BEER: Straight To Ale's Unobtanium Jayme shares with us one of his favorite concoctions, suiting to this satantic, tooth-pulling tale: “With a heady film like “The Alchemist Cookbook”, my mind immediately jumps to high ABV and barrel-aged beers and Straight To Ale's Unobtanium seems an eerily perfect match - right down to the can design. The 12oz can literally features the devil in a lab coat! Unobtanium, an old "scientific" term for a material that perfectly fits the needs of a project but doesn't actually exist, is surprisingly approachable given its style. I guess you could say the same thing about black magic too, in that the first taste is so welcoming that it's easy to get carried away, and at 11% ABV, getting carried away can get you in trouble fast! Don't let black magic be the unobtanium in your life, try a nice beer instead! With a toffee aroma, a bit of dark fruit and vanilla flavor, a small bite of oak and alcohol, pretty soon you'll realize you have everything you need right there. Shoutout to Wayerbacher Brewing's Insanity, too, another barrel-aged beer, because... well, you get it.” There you go: the perfect pair for this season of love! Maybe even soul mates! And no Tinder, online dating or matchmaking required! Become a third wheel this Valentine’s Day with beer and VOD lovers that will make all your long term dating, boring friends jealous!

Last week, SXSW announced the bulk of their 2017 line-up, including all 100+ feature screenings. This week, the short films and midnighters were finally unveiled, along with SXSW’s new, inaugural virtual reality section. If you’re looking to satisfy all of your weird, sick, twisted, bizarre, innovative, eclectic, controversial tastes and get acquainted with some of the best in well-crafted storytelling that 2017 has to offer, you don’t want to miss out on this line-up! Head over to SXSW’s website to get the full program rundown.

Happy February! While you're bundling up and trying to stay WARM, it's looking like the full lineup for SXSW 2017 is shaping up to be very, very COOL. This year, the festival will screen 125 feature films, including 85 World Premieres and 51 films from first-time directors. Films, technology, panels, special events, music and more - what else could you want?! Austin is definitely the place to be this March if you're a lover of all things innovative and new. Terrence Malick's highly anticipated "Song to Song" is set to open the festival. Check out the full schedule here and start planning!

With another Slamdance Film Festival over and done with, a whole slew of oddball, outlier and unique indie films and stories are set to be unleashed out into the world and around the festival circuit. The 23rd annual festival saw a program of promising, emerging talent that will be on our radar for years to come. Check out the full list of winners below!  Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize: Dim the Fluorescents (Canada, Director: Daniel Warth)  Narrative Features Honorable Mention: Kate Can’t Swim (USA, Director: Josh Helman)  Documentary Feature Grand Jury Prize: Strad Style (USA, Director: Stefan Avalos)  Documentary Feature Honorable Mention: The Modern Jungle (USA/Mexico, Directors: Charles Fairbanks, Saul Kak)  Documentary Short Grand Jury Prize: Moriom (Switzerland, Directors: Francesca Scalisi, Mark Olexa)  Documentary Short Honorable Mention: Irregulars (Italy, Director: Fabio Palmieri)  Narrative Shorts Grand Jury Prize: No Other Way To Say It (USA, Director: Tim Mason)  Narrative Shorts Honorable Mention: Oh What a Wonderful Feeling (Canada, Director: François Jaros)  Animated Shorts Grand Jury Prize: Hold Me (Ca Caw Ca Caw) (USA, Director: Renee Zhan)   Animated Shorts Honorable Mention: My Father’s Room (South Korea, Director: Nari Jang)  Experimental Shorts Grand Jury Prize: UpCycles (USA, Director: Ariana Gerstein)  Experimental Shorts Honorable Mention: Blua (Colombia, Director: Carolina Charry Quintero)  Anarchy Shorts Grand Jury Prize: Ape Sodom (Canada, Director: Maxwell McCabe-Lokos)  Anarchy Shorts Honorable Mention: Horseshoe Theory (USA, Director: Jonathan Daniel Brown)  Spirit of Slamdance Award Winner: Neighborhood Food Drive (USA, Director: Jerzy Rose)  Audience Award for Narrative Feature: Dave Made a Maze (USA, Director: Bill Watterson)  Audience Award for Documentary Feature: Strad Style (USA, Director: Stefan Avalos)  Audience Award for Beyond Feature: Future ‘38 (USA, Director: Jamie Greenberg)