MUSIC SUBWAY

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!

DSC_0177


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.

DSC_0884

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

Maria's Pick: "Great Headless Blank"

Happy September! The seasons are a-changing but our collaboration with Maria DicieanuSubmarine Channel author & former 2Pause.com editor, happily remains! Maria has introduced us to quite the assortment of music videos over the past few months, from interactive offerings to videos using stunning visual effects (read more about last month’s pick here). The September Pick is something completely different but just as jawdropping and visually innovative. We present the animated wonder that is Makeunder’s “Great Headless Blank”, created by artist Carine Khalife.  Though Makeunder, an indie rock troupe based in Oakland, released their Great Headless Blank EP a year ago, the visual accompaniment to the title track has just been released… and boy, was it worth the wait. Premiering on VICE's The Creators Project last month, each frame of the music video was hand painted on glass by artist/director Carine Khalife. Swirls of colors greet us, filling the void of where our character’s head should be. Musically-speaking, "Great Headless Blank" gives off beautifully punctuated, deeply inspired emotions through its building of harmonies and instrumentation. In fact, Makeunder’s EP was inspired by a large amount of grief and trauma, and that can be felt and heard through both the music and visuals. Like some type of fever vision, it's triggering and calmingly hypnotic all at once. Hamilton Ulmer, the man behind the tune, said he has “always seen music as a visual medium” - and the synthesis of this track with Khalife’s style couldn’t be a better example of that phrase. Khalife’s work is a journey that spins a tale as chaotic as it is melodic. Maria beautifully explains her spot on pick below:
  “Painter-photographer and visual artist Carine Khalife stuns us again creating a mesmerizing music video, this time for Makeunder's “Great Headless Blank” - the title track of their forthcoming EP. Back in 2011, Khalife delivered the spectacular promo “Blown Minded” for Young Galaxy. Music video director and mastermind David Wilson called it back then in Motionographer “a rare gem”, “one of the most beautiful animated films seen all year” raving that “the fluidity of the oil paint and connection with the music just washes over you”.  In the “Great Headless Blank” Carine uses the same paint-with-oil-on-glass frame by frame technique as in Blown Minded, yet brings more color and spices things up with a psychedelic vibe. The torments, thoughts and explorations residing in the protagonist's mind, are beautifully visualized in a carousel of brush strokes. The fluidity she manages to pull out of the jerky frames is mind boggling, to the extent it almost seems she is using rotoscoping techniques (she isn't though!). The visuals enrich the audio track with more depth and possibilities, making it an overall spectacular collaboration. Carine Khalife confesses that “she only needed to hear the first notes to jump in” the project, which, thanks to her artistry, is just as long as we need, as viewers, to fully emerge in the liquid consciousness of the protagonist. What an incredibly immersive visual journey!” If you’re looking for something both energetic and relaxing, you've found it in this music video. As the song states: "I’m waiting for an escape to unfold while I dream, 
While I am asleep, 
I’m waiting for the hole to mend me, 
And make it all better."  The irony is, this video may be all the escape you need! You can watch Maria’s Pick below. Stay tuned for next month! 

  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" 

Maria's Pick: "Always Home" (Sörry Remix)

We’re ecstatic that it’s that time of the month again! A time when we can sit back and not only enjoy a great new tune, but also take in some rather innovative and intellectually stimulating visual eye candy to go along with it. Our collaboration with Maria DicieanuSubmarine Channel author & former 2Pause.com editor, has already introduced us to a wealth of jaw-dropping music videos. From interactive videos to ones that combine live action with animation, the offerings have been nothing short of visually and musically astounding. Maria’s pick for August is just as impressive! Selah Sue’s Always Home (Sörry Remix) music video, directed by Filip Sterckx, is a beautiful display of light and dark, perfectly complementing the tone of the song. Using good ol’ optical illusions mixed with intricate post-production manipulation, this music video transforms the viewing experience into something mesmerizing. Maria describes her pick:  You might remember Belgian director Filip Sterckx from his 3 beamers brilliant play resulting in the super viral internet sensation “Sweater” music video for Willow. Back then it was already quite obvious optical illusions were his thing, but who knew his work would become so polished and sleek in the meantime. In Selah Sue's “Always Home” the light bulbs are the heroes. A slow-paced darkness/light alternation uncovers the spectacular church with the impressive columns and white statues. Unseemingly, the bulbs start to multiply in a charismatic choreography that invades the space and resembles light painting. The more they uncover the more surreal their presence becomes. Wrapped up in a very atmospheric cinematography, the promo continues to somehow linger on long after the song has finished which is quite fitting for a work emphasizing the beauty of light. Regarding the making of the video, the director explains on his Vimeo page: “I had the actor swing the light in slow mo, and we had other takes in which he run up and down with a light on a pole through the church, completely dressed in black. In post I duplicated the video many times, and then time shifted the different layers, and then layered them in a way that only the bright parts of the image were added." With work such as “Sweater” and “Always Home” up his sleeves, we can't wait to see what else Streckx will dream up and turn out next! He has definitely entered the Indie Street radar of ones to watch. Get hypnotized in the most peaceful and pleasant of ways by watching the video here.  Until next time!  

 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"

Maria's Pick: Jamie xx's "Gosh"

We've had such an amazing time learning about new and innovative music videos through our monthly collaboration with Maria DicieanuSubmarine Channel author & former 2Pause.com editor! We've been introduced to exciting and eye-opening offerings, including the interactive video for the late Jeff Buckley's cover of “Just Like a Woman” and last month's music video for “Be So Glad” by Jaimeo Brown Transcendence. This month Maria presents an awe-inspiring video from the young but already legendary music video director Romain Gavras. The artist? Jamie XX. The song? "Gosh". The outcome? Jaw-dropping. Check out Maria's breakdown of "Gosh" and why it was her July pick: "Whenever Romain Gavras directs, the 'world' (as in 'music video aficionados') seems to stand still and 'listen' (a.k.a 'check out the outcome'). And for good reason, as his latest futuristic and heavily CGI-ed masterpiece confirms. Jamie XX joins the ranks of 'the lucky few artists' to have a music video conceived by this French 'enfant terrible', thus mingling with the likes of M.I.A, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Justice, DJ Mehdi and The Last Shadow Puppets.  “Gosh” is just as haunting and mesmerizing as Born Free, Stress and No Church in the Wild. Showcasing a decadent dystopian Paris (while actually being filmed in China in front of a replica of the Eiffel Tower), the music video makes brilliant use of choreography managing to perfectly coordinate the dance of over 400 extras. The cinematography is nothing short of spectacular as well not only due to the very atmospheric look, but also thanks to the very elaborated shots going from ground level all the way up in the air. Even more, Gavras brilliantly mixes and mingles iconic elements from his previous works such as the car stunts from “Bad Girls”, the high buildings from “Stress” and protagonists having a very particular hair color like in “Born Free”. This prompts “Gosh” to not only be viewed and interpreted as an individual piece but also in relation to the directors' previous music videos. The self reflexivity highlights the unique phenomenon that Romain Gavras is in the music video environment, his specific directorial vision while ensuring that all his works are simply must sees!"  This is one video that'll having you saying "Gosh!" in the most positive of ways by the end. It might just even warrant a few replays! If you aren't familiar with Gavras' work, this is a great place to start. Enjoy the spectacle & see you next month!  

  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"  

Maria's Pick: "Be So Glad"

Last month, we were thrilled to kick off our monthly collaboration with Maria Dicieanu, Submarine Channel author/former 2Pause.com editor, introducing you to an exciting grab bag of musical and visual ingenuity in music video form. To kick things off in May, Maria presented the video for the late Jeff Buckley's cover of “Just Like a Woman”, and this month she presents something a little different but just as innovative!  Jaimeo Brown Transcendence’s music video for “Be So Glad” showcases an intricate and experimental way of combining live action footage with animation in order to create a new type of movement - a hybrid one that so perfectly mimics the layers of its musical component. The visual composition of the video also suits the “past meets future” vibe of his album “Work Songs”. Maria describes her pick below:  “What starts as a simple easy to define movement transcends into a mesmerizing psychedelic animation that redefines time, space and our perception. Directed by New York based Dutch artist Fons Schiedon, in collaboration with Post Panic Studio, this beautiful music video perfectly reflects the core themes of Jaimeo Brown Transcendence album: history, art, technology and the future. When asked about the video, Schiedon explains: "The video applies that notion of imperfection, for instance, by using a partly practical, partly animated, approach to bring the skeleton dancer to life. There are smoother ways to do it, but none of them are this much fun." You can check out the video for "Be So Glad" here, via Vimeo. Enjoy the dance & stay tuned for next month!  

 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"

All of us at Indie Street are stoked to be partnering up with #000000;" data-mce-mark="1">Maria Dicieanu, Submarine Channel author and former 2Pause.com editor, to bring you a monthly serving of some of the most artistic, innovative music videos currently being produced! #000000; font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: large;"> #000000; font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: large;">For our first installment of "Maria's Pick", the featured music video for May is an interactive spectacle well worth checking out! Maria discusses the intricacies of the #000000;">video for the late Jeff Buckley's cover of “Just Like a Woman” below:  #000000; font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: large;">"The undeniable “kings of interactive music videos”, aka peeps at Interlude (responsible for Bob Dylan's “Like a Rolling Stone”), released yet another gorgeous online experience, this time for the late Jeff Buckley's unreleased cover of “Just Like a Woman”. Making use of graphic novel inspired panels, the interactive music video gives users the possibility of choosing between 4 different story lines within each new window: the boy's, the girl's, the happy boy+girl couple and its almost separated version. "The goal of this video is for both existing and new fans to enjoy many ways of experiencing the music, and for each individual audience member to return over and over to be involved with the emotion differently each time," said Yoni Block, Interlude CEO and co-founder. A perfect concept given the song itself is both a recent release and a reinterpretation of Bob Dylan classic at the same time. Find out more about how the music video was made by watching its making of." #000000; font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: large;">You can check out the music video via Buckley's official site and try your hand at visually composing your own narratives to complement the music with just a click of your mouse! For the best viewing experience, Google Chrome is the suggested browser. Enjoy & see you next month!  #000000; font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: large;">About Maria: #000000; font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: large;">"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"

Incredible Music Machine Powered By 2,000 Marbles

Fan of the fantastic, musical and downright strange? Be sure to check out the Wintergatan Marble Machine. Built by Swedish musician Martin Molin, this insane handmade machine powers up a drum, vibraphone, bass, and other instruments using a hand crank and...well, 2000 marbles. This one has to be seen to be believed! With millions of views and counting, be sure to get in on the viral fandom and watch the video of the machine in action here!

A hypnotic, trippy face in front of an ever-changing, geometric background is what greets you throughout the music video for “End of the Trail” by Shit Robot. Created by Irish Director Kevin McGloughlin, the Irishman wanted to find a way to create depth and complexity behind the eyes - simultaneously showing growth and decay. To create the visuals behind the concept, McGloughlin used an adapted form of a technique known as strata-cut. In strata-cut, a marbled ball of clay is cut into thin layers, with each cut resulting in a photograph taken of what is revealed between the cuts. Stop motion animation makes it look like the marbled image in the clay is moving. McGloughlin's variation of this, which he named "digi-cut", uses a series of digital files of the singer's face to create a similar effect. Read here to learn more about this unique, digital technique and be sure to watch the effects in action by checking out the music video for “End of the Trail”.

This year for Music in Our Schools Month, Chrome Music Lab sought to make learning not just more accessible to everyone but a lot more fun! Using colorful technology on the web with a freely available Web Audio API, the Music Lab is a collection of experimental ways anyone young or old can learn how music works. The rad technology has extended past the classroom and now anyone can create and manipulate different sounds to their heart’s content. It’s definitely worth playing around with as it's a really cool platform that fuses music, technology, art and enjoyment. With the open source code, you can even build your own and take the experiments further! Hop on over to the Chrome Music Lab and get composing!

Think you have the next innovative idea to hit the music tech industry? Good news! SXSW will be hosting its third Music Hackathon this year and will ask hackers of all kinds (designers, programmers, musicians, artists and more) to team up and think of news way to get cash directly into the pockets of artists/rights-holders as well as find new ways to bring tech into performances and improve the listening experience.  They will have 24 hours to execute an idea and strategy within these three categories: commerce, creation and consumer. The event will begin on Tuesday, March 15 in Salon D at the Hilton Austin Downtown, with hacker teams competing for $10,000 in prizes and prestige. Are you going to be at SXSW and think you have the next big idea? What are you waiting for?! Read more here and then go sign up!

Composer Olivia Block recently found a new source of inspiration and sound for her musical arrangements: noise. Anything from trains, machinery, to talking and everything inbetween, urban ambience holds a sense of musicality to her ear.After purchasing an old tape recorder that had an unlabeled, used tape inside of it, Block wasted no time and listened to what happened to be the ghostly voice of a man back in 1988, listing businesses and addresses into the recorder. With a newfound fascination with sounds that shouldn't be heard or even appreciated and given a second thought, Block now collects these tiny cassettes. She often uses the forgotten analogue voices and random noises in her arrangements. To hear more about Block's love of Chicago city sounds, check out her interview with NRP.