Most of the time, we consume music. But what if a song wasn't a linear event with a beginning and end? What if it's a three-dimensional landscape you're meant to dive into, explore, and shape with your gestures? A new installation at the New Museum is exactly that.
Part of New Inc, an experimental arts incubator, DELQA is an interactive soundscape. It took a small army of media artists, architects, musicians, and programmers to build the immersive installation, which shows yet another application of the versatile Kinect, a motion sensor Microsoft originally developed for gaming. Read more
Through archival footage and voiceover interviews, a quartet of 2015 music docs are reevaluating the way viewers understand their respective artists and engage with their celebrated music. n what is shaping up to be a welcoming trend in the biopic documentary genre, "Amy" joins three other music documentaries this year which take a similarly engaging approach to understanding its flawed icons. Completed by Alex Gibney's "Sinatra," Brett Morgen's "Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck" and Liz Garbus' "What Happened, Miss Simone?," this quartet of music documentaries is forcing viewers to reevaluate the way they understand their respective artists and engage with their celebrated music. Read more
Matthew Aucoin is being compared to Mozart, Wagner and Leonard Bernstein. He's worked with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Now this rising star is tackling his most ambitious project to date: his own new opera, for which he's composed the music, written the words and is conducting its Boston premiere. And did we mention he's just 25 years old? Read More
"If you’ve never taken the plunge into the wonderful world of 1970s rock album credits, you’re likely unaware of the full extent of the incestuous linkages between some of the period’s best-known artists. Take Harry Nilsson, for instance, with records like Son of Schmilssonand Pussy Cats on which former Beatle Ringo Starr plays drums (pseudonymously, as Richie Snare, in the case of the former). Produced by John Lennon, that latter record from 1974 also features contributions from The Who’s Keith Moon, whose own solo outing the following year — Two Sides of the Moon — includes performances from Nilsson and Starr along with David Bowie, Joe Walsh of the Eagles, Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones, and several more. Follow these multiplying threads and the confluences continue in seemingly infinite directions.
Projects such as these are considered by devoted fans a rather special kind of collaboration, one that existed almost naively before the music business had fully capitalized on the marketing potential of supergroups and “special” guests. Hip-hop, of course, has its version of this, in the form of vocal features and recognizable track producers. But somehow those records aren’t approached in the same way. Call it rockism if you must, but in order to know who played what on guest-packed records like David Crosby’s If I Could Only Remember My Nameor Eric Clapton’s No Reason to Cry, you had to consult liner notes (presuming they were complete), or listen along and guess. By contrast, on most rap records there’s little-to-no mystery to who does what where when. (Mixtapes, of course, are less reliably detailed.) ID3 tags and track names are dutifully completed on major label and indie rap albums alike, each contributing rapper immediately named as a selling point, packaged for marketers, bloggers, and distributors to spit out to their audiences. This, perhaps, is among of the illicit thrills of Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment’s Surf. A collaborative effort from members of Chance The Rapper’s SaveMoney crew, this eagerly anticipated full-length appeared as a surprise iTunes freebie last Friday, notably devoid of detailed credits. For several weeks, we’d been teased of this project’s patronage with instantly recognizable names like Erykah Badu, B.o.B., and Busta Rhymes. Though some websites rushed to throw together listicle-resembling liner notes (as they also had with Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly), most listeners assuredly heard Surf for the first time without such aids. So when Big Sean butts in on the groovy horns and fluttering LinnDrum rhythms of “Wanna Be Cool,” or Migos member Quavo plays very much against type on “Familiar,” it’s a genuine surprise — a bit of the old slap-and-tickle in this perverse, know-everything era of information on demand.
So then, whose record is Surf anyway? Donnie Trumpet, a moniker held by SaveMoney’s Nico Segal, ostensibly leads a second line of brassy players through the streets to make a joyful racket. Issues of technical ownership come off cheap amid the gleeful marching band-style hip-hop of “Slip Slide” or the transfixing jazz disintegration of “Something Came To Me.” Instead, Surf is an expression of abundant creative freedoms, a plurality of talents and visions brought together in an often ramshackle but only scarcely incoherent collection.
Perhaps nobody pulls off this sort of thing better than Prince. From the 1980s onward, the notorious Purple One formed a plethora of projects, groups, and troupes with varying but nonetheless implicit levels of personal involvement. Madhouse, 3rdeyegirl, The Time, Vanity 6, and numerous other endeavors allowed him to flex his virtuoso musculature in both songwriting as well as performative capacities. Though some of this was born out of opportunity, no small amount came out of necessity. Amid business disputes with Warner Bros. in the early 1990s, he embedded himself in his backing band The New Power Generation, releasing a handful of technically non-Prince records with them for the remainder of the decade. Indeed, during that period of protest — when he adopted an ornate, androgynous symbol for a name and became the butt of lazy jokes — The Artist Formerly Known As Prince started NPG Records as an independent outlet for releasing ungodly quantities of music, including new collaborations with his forebears Chaka Khan and Graham Central Station.
While some might find it audacious or sacrilegious to dare compare Chance to Prince, Surf suggests a similarly broad bandwidth for the junior Midwesterner that a genre as temperamental and didactic as hip-hop can’t fulfill. According to the #WellActually Twitter set, it’s apparently quite important that this not be seen as an official Chance The Rapper album or in any way a follow-up to his critically adored breakthrough, 2013’s Acid Rap. Surely few people saw The Time’s What Time Is It? as the direct sequel to Prince’s 1981 classic Controversy. But there’s something altogether foolish about attempting to understand an artist’s work by willfully shutting one’s eyes to the things he does over something as petty as a band’s name or a genre category.
By participating actively in a project that may not technically be his own, Chance can explore the leafy corners and curious creeks of his own musical acreage without the burdensome and possibly stifling pressures of a more official release under his own name. To put it another way, Donnie Trumpet may as well be the Morris Day of this affair. But whoever is truly responsible for Surf should have to own up to the unfortunate reality that it’s not a particularly great album. At times, its unpretentious sloppiness appeals and even charms. Most of the time, The Social Experiment can’t find a hook worth sticking with, a problem not present on the older records it draws influence from. If not for Chance’s involvement, which no doubt drew in the big name guests, we’d probably have heard next to nothing about it at all.
Still, even some of the most talented musicians have made underwhelming or even downright bad records. The 1970s rock gods may have produced songs that continue to define their decade, but even masters like Clapton and Lennon dropped some absolute stinkers that only obsessive fans or contrarians could defend. Many of those 1990s Prince-related NPG projects remain out of print for a damn good reason. Collaborations, by design, hit or miss their marks, sometimes by inches. If rockers can make beautiful mistakes that lead to new aural delights, rappers shouldn’t be denied the same privilege." By Gary Suarez for Flavorwire
When claiming a band is "real indie", there is always a risk of being perceived as pompous, because a “real” indie artist probably wouldn't claim themselves as such. So first of all, the members of Tangerine didn't make this claim because they are genuinely too badass for that. And to make things clear: here is the definition of “real Indie” on our street:
An artist or group who is authentic and effortlessly cool while embracing the beautiful tight rope walk of creative expression and financial sustainability.
We were lucky enough to be invited to a garage venue at SXSW this year that made the artists and attendees feel like they stumbled upon a truly independent event. The small home was hidden in the outshoots of Austin, where only faint sounds of the huge crowds and Bud Light promotions could be heard in the distance. This is not to take away anything from SXSW and its efforts, the festival has just grown to such enormity that there is probably enough room to hold a second even more indie festival along side of it ala Slamdance/Sundance.
At this venue, this budding Indie pop band from Seattle, WA literally rocked the house. The burgers and dogs, the sweat drops flying from the musicians (naturally they had to keep the garage door shut since the cops had already given a warning), and the accessibility of the artists after the show all added up to a rekindled love affair with the Indie Rock show. I felt like a kid in the candy store, so naturally I filled up my now empty 20 oz can of Uber road soda and cooled myself down with whatever was in the keg.
Getting to sit with the band after gave me re-assurance of what they were as musicians and people (which usually go hand and hand).
They were impressive on stage and authentically weird and magnetic while sitting on the lawn.
Here is one of their music videos, so you can judge them musically for yourself...their ripping lead guitarist is probably the featured talent amongst a group of very fun and talented musical artists.
Below is my brief interview with the lead singer, Marika where she talks about the band and their naviagtion of the Indie distribution landscape:
JWebb: How did Tangerine get started?
Marika: well Miro and I are sisters, and having been jamming on our instruments together since we were maybe 11 and 13 years old. I met Toby in high school and found that he's probably my favorite person to write music with. A couple years ago we decided to form Tangerine. I had just started working with Ryan, we booked bands for our university, and it was sort of like fate- he was a bass player looking for band right when we needed one. It all came together very naturally and it's honestly just been a lot of fun since day one.
JWebb: Who are some bands that have inspired you, and name a few non-existing band names of the future that you would love to inspire.
Marika: There's so many bands that have inspired what we do it's hard to know where to start..mazzy star, hole, haim, breeders, black lips, charli xcx, el perro del mar, velvet underground, sky ferreira, hinds, max martin, the strokes, lana del rey, lorde to name a few! As I said before, I'm inspired by things from both ends of the spectrum: everything from Taylor Swift to the Clash and the Strokes. Our music is kind of a melting pot.
As for future band names that we'd love to inspire...I've never been asked that before haha. Maybe we'll inspire more fruit-based names? There could be a whole fruit-based revolution. When I was sixteen i thought Leopard Limo was a great band name. No one else did though.
JWebb: We were lucky enough to watch one of your shows at a house garage venue at SXSW which really was an amazing intimate experience. How have you guys tried to balance "Staying indie" with the very real world need for artists to continue to generate revenue.
Marika: That was such a fun show! I'm glad you guys were able to make it, we love Austin. Musically, we naturally end up in a place that sort of straddles the indie/pop worlds. I like to think of our music as the Breeders meets the Strokes meets Charlie XCX. We've played some really amazing venues and some super DIY dingy spots and at the end of the day if the crowd is feeling it and giving off great vibes that's what makes it a good show.
JWebb: From your experience to date do you feel that it is more effective to hit the pavement and concentrate locally or have you found that there are any unexpected demographics or regions that have discovered and loved your music from internet sources.
Marika: Honestly we've wondered ourselves what's most important and I'm not sure I can give you an answer. the internet is amazing in terms of connecting you with people across large distances- we've been interviewed by people in the UK and have sold digital downloads all around the world, in places we've never been to. Nothing beats connecting with people in person on tour though.
JWebb: What has been your most successful fan building technique in the digital/internet realm? Any type of social media you guys really dislike?
Marika: facebook has been really instrumental in us reaching people but it's also incredibly frustrating. sometimes a huge number of people will see something you post from it, and sometimes almost no one will and it feels very arbitrary. I'm pretty sure it's all a ploy to convince you to pay for sponsored ads.
JWebb: Quick Story time - what is the best story that the band or one of its members has had (could be funny, inspiring, frightening, or all of above)
Marika: I'll keep this short because it's not really my story to tell but both Toby and Ryan have been robbed at gunpoint at different times. One of the stories is way more fucked up than the other but I think i'll leave that to your imagination. They both lived to laugh about it!
And the growing Tangerine band fan base is stoked about that! Sitting on the dirt patch outside the garage was really one of those moments where you feel you might be hanging with some people who are destined for greatness...and even if that train doesn't come fully into the station, it was still great to meet some genuinely cool people. I think their bass player summed up the gist of what it takes to be a real indie success. He told me his first key was to get honest about what kind of music you personally like and move your head too. Most of the stuff he listened to actually had some pop elements with a catchy beat and tempo. Trying to go completely outside of what you honestly jive to is doing a disservice to your work, your fans and in this case your wallet even. He explained that staying indie was more simply to stay working, because most musical artists have to pay rent and eat food to survive, which Indie filmmakers can relate to since we are also human! So mixing up venues from bars to garages to sponsored festival stages is all a part of it, while you work your ass of to collaborate and make music that you are proud of and that your growing fan base will love.
- Jay Webb, Indie Street.
You can follow all things Tangerine on Facebook. (photography by Nina Christensen)
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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:
This Detriot based Indie Rock/Pop band dropped their self titled debut album in January of this year. Sounds reminiscent of Phoenix and the Smiths, this unsigned group sounds as if they are destined for bigger things. We love to support self-distributing artists on Indie Street, and we love it even more when their talent has a potential mass appeal. While having admitted influences (including the Strokes), Traits surely display their own style and artistic range and we like the album more every time we hit repeat. Listen to two of IndieStreet's Favorite Tracks from their debut album below, and you can support this up and coming indie band by buying these songs or albums on ITUNES now. [soundcloud id='129659842' playerType='html5'] [soundcloud id='129659774' playerType='html5']