The Man Behind The Music

No questions had to be asked for the interview to begin. Matt Feldman, the 19-year-old music supervisor for the US version of popular British show Skins was extremely anxious to discuss all his new ideas and plans for his future.

“Let me show you what I’ve been working on” was a reoccurring statement Feldman would make that would be quickly followed by snippets of mixes his newest project called GirlBro have had completed. “It’s a seventeen minute multi mix that I made with my partner Sophia Sanpapous and we really just wanted to think of ways to get everyone on the dance floor and the way to do that is to play music that we know they like. People respond well to things they already know.”

This is a basic viewpoint that is apparent throughout everything that Feldman has currently worked on in his music career, including what could be considered one of his greatest accomplishments, getting to pick out the music selection for an entire season of Skins, the MTV drama that revolves around six kids and their lives in suburban America.

Over the seven month period of choosing music, Matt had gone through at least 900 song choices before he had to narrow it down to 20 songs per episode, which meant only 200 songs were going to make the cut.”It would be one thing to be picking music for my own picture” Matt explains “but it was totally different trying to figure out what music fit for someone else’s, it was a super intense process.”

As he puts it, the job just sort of found him. Before Skins, Feldman would participate in paid studies and questionnaires. One day, his friend told him of her friend who was an intern for the boss of Skins. They were looking for a group of teenagers to be in a writing group to gain realistic ideas they could potentially use for the show. Matt joined but was only concerned about one thing; the music. He asked about it until he was told to make a demo of his song choices.

Feldman featured in Billboard Magazine

Through his upcoming success, Matt was interviewed by Billboard Magazine (which he has proudly framed on a wall of his basement studio). The article led him to be reached out by other kids who were inspired by his accomplishments. After the article came out a young manager of the eclectic dubstep group called Night Kids reached out to Feldman asking him to go to one of their shows. Night Kids has already shared the stage with Major Lazer and B.O.B and Feldman felt rather intimidated by the offer.” I felt really honored that he thought so highly of me because I have never been in a band or managed a show, so this kid seemed to be more experienced than me.” Regardless Matt went to the show and instantly fell in love with the band; “They’re so beautiful” he gushed.

For being so young, Matt has already dived deep into the business and creative aspects of music, but his biggest dilemma has been choosing which one he would like to concentrate on. “Look at Starscream, they’re a great example of the business perspective.” Starscream consists of Matt’s close friends George S. and Damon H. who use a Gameboy and a drum set to make upbeat dance songs which classify as a genre of Chip Music.

Matt has gotten involved in their career by placing their songs on the Skins soundtrack throughout the season and got the band to perform live on the season finale. “I didn’t help them so much as someone just really liked their music.” Matt insists they’re a “cool” example of the business aspect of music because they have gotten their name out on their own. “They’ve accomplished everything themselves, from their own clothing designs to key chains to even the crazy visual affects they put into their shows, it is really amazing. Even after all that they ended up pressing records and were in the top 10 sales for 2 days when their EP came out. Their business tactics paid off.”

Yet, Matt remains uneasy with just sticking to the purely business aspect of things “I have all these ideas, I was even thinking of becoming a pop star like David Bowie.” Feldman wants to continue making dance music. He spends his two months of downtime from Skins mixing beats, playing instruments, writing lyrics and really getting into the creative process. “Its time to shake things up, there are so many things that I want to do and I will do them all and it’s going to be so much fun.”

Posted in Music | 201 Comments

A Different Kind of Bar In Jackson Heights

If you show up on a weekend, Terraza 7 train Cafe gives off the feel of an old venue, like Knitting Factory when it was still in China Town, except you won’t find bouncers in front of the open barn doors checking ID’s or collecting a cover, you’ll just have to make your way through a mostly twenty something Latino crowd smoking cigarettes and discussing politics or art in spanglish.

You can always tell who’s making their way over to grab a drink and karaoke, watch a film on cine-club Mondays, listen to poetry the first Tuesday of the month, or catch some live music between Wednesday and Sunday after 10pm; they clash with the backdrop of the other Jackson Heights nightlife. The cholos who sold fake social securities in the daytime now whisper “chicas, chicas, chicas,” on Roosevelt Avenue.  The disheartened day laborers, once looking for work, stagger out of bars where women charge you for a dance. Straight men under full moons transform into drag queens, but Terraza’s crowd never changes.

They are a diverse group of Latino hipsters who buy in even less to the mainstream. They wear a slightly outdated regalia of bootcut jeans and UFO pants, baggy t-shirts, fedoras, and artisan jewelry and accessories. They cultivate their own local music at Terraza and use the rickety stage to shed light on social issues through art. It has become their own.

“Valuable are the spaces that allow for creative uses of free time in ways that add to the quality of life of the neighborhood’s inhabitants and generates ownership,” said owner Freddy Castiblanco, sitting lopsided on a worn couch by the entrance. “Artistic expression is a way to empower a neighborhood, and particularly important in immigrant communities,” he added.

Castiblanco opened the doors to Terraza 9 years ago, in June of 2002, in hopes of bringing together diverse Latin American expressions. What he found was a group of people more interested in rock and pop.

“Before, I used to be young, and they used to play metal, and it was fucking awesome. Crappy bands of course, but interesting people,” said Jessica Ilm, a local sheltering herself from the rain with a hand above her head.

After a year of giving into the demands of the neighborhood, however, Castiblanco sought a different sound. He began by creating an in house Latin-jazz band that later incorporated Afro Colombian instruments like the tambor and gaita. And as the music matured, so did the crowds.

“It opened the doors…to people that were concerned, or that would care about something interesting that would happen in a melody, something interesting that would happen lyrically in a song, rather than ‘that’s a nice beat i can shake my ass to that.’” said Juan Velez, a classical guitarist who attends open mics.

Castiblanco also uses the space as a platform for political expression. With Main Street Alliance, Castiblanco spearheads talks and has even spoken in front of Congress to combat unfair treatment of small businesses. “I think small businesses have an important roll in the development of a neighborhood,” vehemently preached Castiblanco during our meeting. Organizations like Make the Road and Movement for Peace in Colombia have also used to space host events and talks with local leaders and politicians.

Just standing outside, you feel the difference from other venues in the atmosphere. It incorporates the neighborhood and its needs in an unprecedented manner. It cares, in large part, because of Freddy.

Posted in Music | 3 Comments

Live Music Theatre @ 92Y Tribeca

Thank God It’s Friday. One of the most overplayed, yet classic sayings that truly defines a person’s emotions and experiences from the current week. Whether it’s yelled in the subway station or overheard in a nearby stranger’s phone conversation, this phrase resonates the feelings of working class people and their unashamed, honest excitement that it’s finally the end of the week and the coveted weekend can begin once again.

So picture this- It’s Friday night, you’re hanging out with the girls, filled with happiness and laughter from indulging in way too many cupcakes and coffee, and distracted with your friend’s favorite retelling of the funny adventures you had together last weekend. It’s after 7 p.m. and the next activity of the night continues as you travel to the café for a causal-style seating show to hear live music.  

Friday night should become the optimal day to meet up and have an extreme girl’s night out. Thankfully 92Y Tribeca provides patrons with a versatile, yet fresh option for a fun evening activity and destination. Over the years, 92Y Tribeca has swiftly transformed into a well-known, community platform and arts center that regularly host several engaging author panels and ticketed social events. Since its first event in 2009, the establishment has provided their monthly Live at the Café series which has been very positive and beneficial for various young, up and coming musicians residing in the city.

Some of the past live music events included performances by local artists such as Brooke Campbell, JP Schlegelmilch and Jason Myles Goss. As a previous attendant of the past live audience event featuring Brooke Campbell; I can say that the event delivered on its promise, it was certainly a very engaging and energetic musical night. What I enjoyed most about the event, was sitting up close and personal and listening to Brooke Campbell’s original songs. She truly is a class act performer.

Surprisingly, the café is comprised of an intimate, yet coffee-house style audience setting and has friendly customer service at the food counter. For newcomers, this event may feel similar to attending a movie screening at your local theatre except here you can enjoy a performance filled with enticing beats accompanied with a personal pan pizza, a glass of wine or espresso. 

“After attending one of our events at the café, people have visited again with friends,” says Patty. Patty is a current staff member and works with the customer service team at 92y Tribeca’s downtown location. During our discussion, she gossips about their upcoming events in the café.  She says, “Along with the Live at the café series, the center consistently welcomes a large crowd for their popular ticketed musician events that are held each month. There is a wide, growing list of independent singers and bands that perform at the café, and further event details are listed for public view on our website”.  

92Y Tribeca has definitely become an animated local spot for music and entertainment. I completely admire and appreciate their grand mission statement that states their need “To bring together and inspire a diverse community of people from New York City and beyond by providing exceptional programs across the spectrum—in the arts and culture, Jewish life and education, health and fitness and personal growth and travel”.     

This year, the center offered numerous affordable, family-friendly interactive events for the younger children. For instance, the center provides great kids and adult workshops where you can sign up and join one of several hands-on, instructional sessions for beginners who have an interest in playing a sensational instrument.  “92Y Tribeca has successfully implemented a productive, yet comfortable venue for many local New York natives to visit and enjoy with friends and family,” said Patty. Furthermore, with the economy at its increasing level of improvement more events like this should be offered for New York residents and music lovers alike.

To find out more information for upcoming events at the café, you can view the calendar inclusive of a list of all upcoming artists’ performances on the center’s website. Or call their number, 212-601-1000. Be sure to look out for local urban blogs in your area to learn about some of the live events offered to the public.

Posted in Independent Film | 19 Comments

What’s Next for Dirty Mac?

From performing in front of 10 people to performing in front of 40,000 people, Dirty
Mac
has come a long way after 11 years of making a dream. The 24-year-old hip
hop artist, whose real name is James McNamara, was first introduced to the hip
hop world at the age of 13, during a freestyle cipher in his middle school in Elizabeth, NJ.

“I tried [freestyling] and the response that I got from doing it was surprisingly good,” says Dirty Mac. “From that point on I knew something was there and I needed to dissect it more so that I could make something out of it.”

Shortly after participating in his first freestyle cipher, Dirty Mac moved to the city he reps in his songs and currently resides in, Scotch Plains, NJ. According to Dirty Mac, the move played a large part in identifying himself as an artist and he has come a long way since then.

In 2008, he became the USA MC Challenge Champion and most recently, he had the opportunity to perform at Rutgersfest 2011, a concert held at his own school, Rutgers University. In front of 40,000 people, his largest audience to date, Dirty Mac opened the concert for Yelawolf, 3OH!3 and Pitbull.

Dirty Mac at Rutgersfest 2011

Every up-and-coming artist dreams of an opportunity to share the stage with those who have already made it in the business and for Dirty Mac, it has been a push in the right direction. In the weeks since the concert, his career has taken off immensely.

“I have been booked for many different interviews and shows and contacts have been flying all over the place,” says Dirty Mac. “The fan base has increased significantly and I have been playing more shows than before. Rutgersfest 2011 was not only an experience to
perform in front of 40,000 people, but it was also a great opportunity to showcase
myself as a student of the university.”

With new opportunities emerging, Dirty Mac is preparing for the release of his second album, “Service With A Style” along with the production of his second music video, “Get Back (Be About It)”. His first video, “iLL Scalpel (Reprise)”, received 3,136 views on youtube and with his increased fan base from Rutgersfest, the hope is that the second music video will be even more popular.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/NBG3tqi0JQM" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Luckily, most of the people working on Dirty Mac’s music videos were friends who volunteered to participate for free. The director, Anthony Infantino, is a friend of Dirty Mac’s and the video was his first project as a director. Thanks to Dirty Mac’s impressive
negotiation skills, they were also able to use several locations in New Jersey
at no cost for the “Get Back (Be About It)” music video.

Photo by Tommy Leong

With the release of his album and video approaching, Dirty Mac has a lot of work ahead of him, but his summer tour may slightly put things on hold. “Along with the release, I do have a small tour in mind for the middle of the summer,” says Dirty Mac. “A lot of the dates and places are undisclosed at the time, but will be announced once the final word is out on the release of the project. I have a lot of things planned out. Timing is everything at this point, but be on the lookout.”

Despite the uplift in his career, for now, Dirty Mac will continue working his day job, bartending at Famous Daves. He feels that keeping a steady job is important until he begins to make a consistent income as an artist.

“I am not one of those artists who can go into the world thinking I’m going to go from working for tips one day to selling out Madison Square Garden the next day,” says Dirty Mac. “Realistically, it’s a matter of what you can do with the money you save as a ‘struggling artist’ and how you can turn it into greater exposure for yourself and earn decent pay being more exposed to the world. Until I figure that out, I’m sticking to the 9 to 5 routine. Everyone’s got to have something before they can cake off of their craft.”

 

Posted in Music | 119 Comments

Realizing a Dream

“It was all a dream…” Notorious B.I.G. begins his iconic song, “Juicy,” an homage to the hip hop American dream – something Manuel Silva would like to achieve someday soon.

Weaving unconventional sounds with fresh beats (he recently captured an audio recording of children playing in a park for a song) and thought-provoking lyrics, Silva strives to create original content that is as euphonious as it is meaningful. Penning socially conscious lyrics and matching them with his crafted beats, he still hopes to maintain the delicate balance between sending a message and sounding preachy. “I want [my music] to sound good so people don’t say ‘I don’t want to listen to this guy, he’s too positive’,”he jokes.

 

The humble 21-year-old Baruch junior has been writing songs since the age of eight. Growing up in a poor community in Far Rockaway, Queens, rap and hip hop was a predominant feature of the neighborhood culture.

Silva released his first project when he was in the ninth grade. He hesitates to say it was outright terrible, but notes that a girl from his high school threatened to have her brother shoot him if he continued to make music.

Despite this, he continued and about two years ago became even more proactive about his future in hip hop. “It’s a career people can do. You can make money and you can make a living off of it,” he says. For his most recent project, The Dopeness Part II,  Silva invested money in a professional studio and is currently searching for a manager.

Sunshine by Manuel Silva

He had his first big break last October when he decided on a whim to enter a showcase hosted by Hot 97’s Monse.  Beating out 22 artists from around the city, he won a media blast of one of his songs, a professional photo shoot, studio time, and a meeting with Bad Boy Records. However, after a series of miscommunications, all Silva reaped from the contest was the media blast of a song he admits wasn’t his best work. He didn’t let this put a damper on his creativity, though.

Currently, he’s focusing on building a fan base by performing shows around the city and connecting with other artists, such as Scribe the Verbalist who is featured on one of the songs on The Dopeness Part II.

In preparing for his next project, Silva wants to increase his mainstream appeal by tinkering with commercial sounds and incorporating new subject matter. While a lot of his previous work has been about love or other personal issues, he hopes to experiment with fiction and fantasy (“like dragons and unicorns,” he says). He hopes to include influences from indie rock, digital sounds, and sampling.  Silva wants to give the project a summer-like feel and include vivid imagery, while still keeping true to his hop hop roots and fan base.  He feels that with all of the changes in hip hop music brought on by artists like Drake, experimentation and genre-mixing is more encouraged and accepted.

However, Silva doesn’t just create music, he has a strong appreciation of art as well. His blog serves as a platform for all of his forms of expression. He recently took up photography, which is clear from the number of vibrant pictures adorning the site. His goal is to get into film. Silva considers himself “an idea man,” something that is evident in his versatility.

While his main concern is funding his projects, he hopes to continue building his fan base and getting his music out there so that it “spreads like a virus.” With his determination and the quality of his work, he may very well be on his way.

 

 

 



Posted in Music | 3 Comments

A Staten Island Band Strives to Make a Career out of Their Passion

As the next band made their way through the crowd of the large, overly packed venue, eager and excited fans shoved their way towards the stage, displaying their anticipation for the next performance. “We are Curious Volume,” said the lead singer as he began to strum his guitar. In a rage of excitement fans jumped, screamed, and moshed pushing and slamming into each other expressing their enjoyment.

Bassist John Trotta (right) and lead singer Andrew Paladino (left) performing to their fans

A ska/punk band from Staten Island, Curious Volume has performed their way through break-ups, fights, and the arduous task of growing up. Their ability to turn personal experiences and struggles into upbeat songs makes them a popular Staten Island based band.

Forming in 2004, it wasn’t until a year later when lead singer/guitarist Andrew “dNo” Paladino, bassist John Trotta, and drummer Cole Rice decided to seriously devote themselves to Curious Volume.

“We were young kids,” said John Trotta. “We were feeling ourselves out and seeing what we wanted.”

Throughout high school, the Blink-182 inspired band performed weekly in their hometown of Staten Island, playing at popular venues such as Dock Street and L’Amour. Through their energetic and enticing personalities on stage, catchy songs, and ability to interact with their crowd through shout outs and crowd surfing, a passionate and dedicated fan base developed.

In January 2010, Curious Volume released their first full-length album, “Mumbles and Whispers.”

Singer Andrew "dNo" Paladino

“We had eight songs that were written by dNo without the plans to develop into a concept album,” said Trotta. “A few things were added here or there to the songs without any intention to turn it into a concept album, it just naturally happened that way.”

To promote their self-produced album, Curious Volume teamed up with owner of Backslash Bomb Productions and good friend Kevin Rogers to make their first music video, “About Anything.”

According to the Staten Island Advance, “For those of us old enough to remember the unabashed goofiness and fun of this music in the 1990s, it’s a throwback; an amusing story line celebrating the punk ethic of total apathy.”

Weeks later Curious Volume came out with a second music video produced by Rogers entitled, “Any Other Night.” The meaningful video has a “never take your life for granted theme,” as dNo goes through the five stages of grieving to ultimately answer the question, “If I were to die tomorrow, would I be content with my life?”

Through promotion by playing countless shows, “Mumbles and Whispers” received between 1300-1400 downloads.

In January of 2011, the band faced their most difficult dilemma yet, when drummer Cole Rice decided to leave the band.

“We were initially on the same page but when you go to school you become a different person,” said Trotta. “He just wasn’t the same person he was when we started the band and it just wasn’t right for him anymore.”

Curious Volume preparing for their performance

Quickly after Rice’s departure from Curious Volume, long time friend Zack Sandel took his place on the drums. After years of being a trio, dNo and Trotta decided to add a fourth member to the band, on keyboard.

“We always wanted to have the band a three piece, but when Brian Buchanan started playing with us we knew he was an excellent musician in other areas as well so we went against what we said and had him join the band,” said Trotta.

Finished with their second year of College, Curious Volume plans to spend their summer making new music, performing shows, and trying to get their name out there even more.

“I can tell you our band is 100% first in all of our lives and that is the most important thing that we do for ourselves. We are absolutely trying to make a career out of it,” said Trotta.

Curious Volume is in the process of getting an acoustic EP out, containing three songs from “Mumbles and Whispers.” They are also planning to come out with a seven-inch vinyl. DNo is currently in the process of writing their second album, which will involve lyrics depicting heartbreak, decisions, and leaving their immaturity behind to enter the real world.

“They always come out with new music that gets the crowd going. I really do think that they are going to make it big,” said long time fan Theresa Bessler.

Curious Volume is currently planning a 3-4 week tour this summer, visiting the North East, East Coast, South, and Midwest in continuation of promoting “Mumbles and Whispers.”

“I have always said and I always will, we will do whatever we can to be the best band we can be, to have our music heard by the most ears, and to stay as true as possible to our original feel for music,” said Trotta.

 

Posted in Music | 4 Comments

The Cyrus Movement Prepares for Musical Warfare

Willing To Die 4

Yo Cyrus

“Good Producers spend a lot of time making music, great producers devote their time making hits,” said Jason Vasquez, also commonly known as Cyrus. Sitting in his black leather chair, multitasking, syncing his studio equipment with his software. He sat focused as he played sampled beats, created by his producers as well as himself, as his team practiced their verses before rapping in the booth.

The beats echoed loudly with their heavy bass, synthesized sounds, vocal samples and instrument layouts through Cyrus’ Dynaudio speakers or monitors. Though the two speakers are only about one foot and few inches high, standing in front of them can literally be compared to being at a concert.

The rapper eagerly stepped into the booth, preparing to do lay down his track. Cyrus worked on his computer and workstation like a mad scientist, preparing to bring his creation to life.

“Music to many people is just music, but when you spend five to seven hours up to three or more times a week, music comes to life,” Cyrus said, “It’s up to the producers to give music shape, the rappers give it a voice, and the engineers fine tune that voice,” he continued.

Cyrus has worked seriously on music from rapping to learning and perfecting beat making for the last five years. However, he discovered his passion for music, beginning as a freestyle rapper when he seventeen years old. Cyrus would venture out into the streets battling for the rights to be recognized by fellow artists. “Cyrus was always in the streets crushing somebody,” said close friend and partner Slim Reaper, songwriter and performer. “He was battling guys at least two to three times a day, it didn’t matter where he was, at school, or the train” he continued.

“It had come to a point where rappers in my hood used to refer to me as Lil’ Nas,” said Cyrus.  A proud man in his thirties today, Cyrus spoke of his experiences in the streets of the Bronx spanning from Southern Boulevard to Parkchester.

The name Cyrus derives from the King of Persia, meaning winner of verbal contest, according to the experienced artist. His current battle record is 98 wins 2 losses, a majority of his wins he received from participating in the Unsigned Hype mixtape tour freestyle competition in 2004.

Performing at many venues all over New York such as Club Rebel, Nuyorican’s Poet Café, Madison Square Garden, and the Bowery Poetry Club to name a few, only increased the fame behind his name, making him recognized among many artists.

However, what made the up and coming artist truly hungry for music success was when he lost his job. Unsure of how he would make ends meet, Cyrus thought to himself what could he do to make money? Realizing he was spending massive amounts of time at the studio, rapping and learning how to make beats, he thought why make money with his music.

After sacrificing many hours of sleep and free time, Cyrus put out his first mixtape in 2006 under newly developed label, Gutter Boy Productions. Using a Playstation 2 headset, his computer and free recording software called “Audacity,” Cyrus created his first fourteen-track album.

Using the little money he had left, he physically pressed up to 200 of his mixtapes and began selling them for $2 a CD. “The first week, I sold over 2,000 CD’s and by the end of the month, with the help of my original team, we managed to sell some 8,000 copies, that’s how it all started,” said Cyrus. Using what he earned from his sells, Cyrus began purchasing equipment to acquire his own studio.

The studio equipment reached a sum of about $12,000, some tools such as his silver polished Neumann u87 microphone priced at $3,500. Not to mention Cyrus upgraded from his rather limited free Audacity software for Pro-tools priced at a low price of $675. “My studio or lab may not be pretty yet, but it definitely didn’t come cheap,” said Cyrus.

Though the studio setup set the aspiring rapper/producer back, it took no time for him to get back to his feet. Because he is the founder and self made CEO of Cyrus Worldwide, whenever songs, beats or any other work is done in his studio, proper payments are made. “I usually don’t charge my people who come to do work, unless they intend to use my blank CD’s and labels, but if knew rappers and producers come, I charge anywhere from $100 to $150 per hour,” Cyrus proudly stated.

The Cyrus Worldwide coalition spans out across the city from Brooklyn and Manhattan to the Bronx, Yonkers and Staten Island, with well over 70 producers and rappers working 6-7 hours, three days a week on their music pursuits. Each member maintains over 8,000 fans on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and other social websites where they can promote their “Movement.”

“Not everyone can work 7 hours a night on five songs at a time, and then go straight to our regular jobs by 8am, that’s what makes us the Worldwide Coalition, no one is as hungry and devoted as we are,” said Cyrus before putting his head phones back on to mix down some tracks for the upcoming mixtape.

Posted in Music | Tagged | 53 Comments

Winston Ford’s Information Highway

“Our site grew dramatically through the word of mouth”- Winston Ford

Winston “Stone” Ford
Owner and CEO of thecouchsessions.com
Twitter: @couchsessions | @thisisstone
Email: stone@thecouchsessions.com

Sit on your couch and pop out anything with an internet connection, because The Couch Sessions will blow your mind.

Created in 2005, The Couch Sessions is the premier online destination for alternative urban music  and culture. The site is dedicated to spotlight the artists that are trying to make a name for themselves in the world of music. The site contains interviews with artists such as: Big K.R.I.T, Ryan Leslie, Dallas Austin, Dawn Richards, and many others. The blog is the brain child of Winston “Stone” Ford, who wanted to create an outlet where the music he liked would be spotlighted.

“I would spend weekends going through [my father’s] vast record collection when I was little. My father was a huge music nerd, but what he taught me was not to segregate my music choices. He was as huge a fan of a band such as: The Doors, The Rolling Stones, The Commodores and Donna Summer. I also became fans of such artists as Marvin Gaye and Parliament Funkadelic. I feel like any artist who can pursue their art, remain happy, and expand their audience is an inspiration to me. There are so many names that come to mind that I would be sitting here for days trying to list everyone,” says Ford.

“Stone” began blogging in 2002 but instead of covering the art of music, he covered the art of war. Winston began covering the Iraq War and found himself disillusioned with politics. Who could blame him when most of the contradicting news articles were more confusing than Lil Wayne’s lyrics.

“I’ve always been musically inclined and I thought I could use the power of the Internet to make my voice heard. I felt like it was my obligation to give these artists their just due. Some of the artists that we’ve profiled have sold out shows after being spotlighted,” says Ford, who started the blog as mainly a hobby.

“When the site began, it was mainly an outlet to write about the music I liked. I would update the website when I got bored at work. I never thought that I would be making money from it at all. Now, it’s a business. While the content remains the same, we have advertising targets to meet and guidelines to uphold,” Ford says.

One of the main guidelines that The Couch Sessions upholds is their commitment to their fans and readers. In 2010, Winston met with the top one hundred fans of The Couch Sessions. In the five year span of its inception, the blog has maintained a growth in their audience. “Our site grew dramatically through the word of mouth,” says Ford. The word of mouth in 2011 includes the use of social media sites such as: Twitter, Facebook, Tumbir, and even Myspace (the three people who still use it). “I’m able to interact with fans from all over the world. I’m able to have instant and real time discussions with fans in Brazil, New Zealand,and the UK. When I travel to a new city, I always find new fans of the site to connect with. Social media has expanded rapidly, but I feel like the next five years will focus on cutting through the clutter and information overload. Social Networks will get more specific. There will be networks created based on your interests, says Ford.

Ford also thinks that music is expanding as well.

“It’s a very interesting time for the music industry. Music is no longer controlled by a few powerful gatekeepers and major labels will rapidly lose their market share to the indies. In the next 5 years there will be a pop star, who will forgo the traditional music route and create their own record label, while keeping a substantial share of profits and royalties. Music will also become more less of something you consume and more of a social and lifestyle experience. Services such as MOG, Spotify, Google Music, and Apple’s upcoming iTunes in the cloud will change the way the next generation of listeners experience music. I also see brands like Mountain Dew, who already has Green Label Sound, which is home to artists such as Chromeo, jumping into the music label game as well,” says Ford.

Whatever the case may be, The Casting Couch will be on the top of everything. With social media, television, and entertainment expanding, one can gather information right on the couch. Let the The Couch Sessions help you enjoy your sessions anywhere.

 

A Recent Video That Was Featured On His Site which features rapper Aloe Blacc
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/6aHHfsJo5VE" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Posted in Independent Film | 3 Comments

Vespertina’s Opera Songbird

At 10 p.m., inside the Bowery Poetry Club, the stage had yet to undergo its transformation. People— jubilant, animated and perhaps even a little bit buzzed— began streaming in, pass the open doors for just $5 apiece and a single blue stamp on the back of their hands. Some stayed by the entrance, where they gained easy access to the bar, while others began to find seating in the few rows that were available. All of them were waiting in anticipation for Lorrie Doriza, a singer, songwriter, and arranger based in New York City, to take the stage.

And then she came. Doriza, a brunette with a fair complexion, had just waltzed onto the stage and for a second, it seemed that she was ready to belt out her songs at any given moment. But Stoupe, a critically acclaimed producer of the underground hip-hop group, Jedi Mind Tricks, who is known for his trademark drums and production, was not. Stoupe had plenty of other things in mind— a master plan, so to speak. The viola player, the cellist, and the two violinists on the right-hand side of the stage began tuning their instruments, creating a harmony that wailed into the audience’s ears. A quiet tension was settling into the air, as audience members began shifting their focus to the undecorated stage.

It was Wednesday, May 11, the day of the album release party for “The Waiting Wolf,” Vespertina’s debut LP album. Vespertina, comprised of Doriza and Stoupe, is a “pop tour-de-force that combines catchy hooks with the drama and fantasy of opera,” their web site states. The album, which took nearly three years to complete, is inspired by the collection of dark fairytales written by the Brothers Grimm.

Doriza, who founded her musical education on classical piano and voice, stood idly as Stoupe, who was still on stage tweaking his devices, instructed a staff member at the back of the room to change the amount of reverb on her microphone. Occasionally, she echoed his inaudible words, poking fun at Stoupe, with a wide grin that revealed the dimples in her cheeks. Her eyes twinkled under the warmth of the stage lights.

To the audience’s delight, she playfully added as if exasperated, “I’m on this mic, I’m in charge.” The audience laughed— Stoupe did too.

That was the atmosphere before the show began, but soon Vespertina would set a new tone, propelling audience members from storybook to storybook.

The string quartet, dressed in black dresses and black heels, would later disappear and emerge out of the backstage curtains with masks on their faces— eerie masks of evil wolves. They entwined Doriza’s microphone and their stands, where their music sheets had been placed, with strands of decorative flowers. A fairytale was in the making.

 

Doriza emerged, without a mask, but with a vibrant, multicolored dress, white beading and thin gold strands placed delicately on her head. Doriza was surely a down-to-earth soul, if not a little bit quirky, but her songs, inspired by opera, were purposely packed with intensity and emotion. She acted the parts in her songs, which would last for 45 minutes in total, gesturing with her arms and expressing the emotions through her eyes.


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Lucid Culture, a blog that tries to spread the word about talented but underexposed musicians, wrote: “Doriza has one of those voices that comes along every ten years or so: from the point of view of someone who saw Neko Case in 1999 and Amanda Palmer a year later, she’s in the same league.”

Her album, which was sold for $5 a piece towards the back of the Bowery Poetry Club, quickly won the hearts of the audience. The stage was transformed, but she had been too.

“It’s an album written in three parts; an opera is written in 3 acts so obviously it’s inspired by the dark fairytale aspect of opera— not so much like the child fairytale—  just very Pucchini dark operas,” said Doriza. Giacomo Pucchini, an Italian composer born in the late 1850s, is most known for his operas and arias, which have become a part of pop culture.

Doriza modestly attributes her growing fame to the song, “Find a Way,” featured in Stoupe’s album, “Decalogue,” which was released sometime in 2009, almost 3 years ago.

“Stoupe had heard some of my music online and he decided let’s try working together, maybe do a few songs, see how it goes,” said Doriza. “A couple of songs into it, he asked me to do another song for his solo producer album, ‘Decalogue,’” With a laugh, she added, “So I guess it worked out, so we started working on the album, and it took forever!”

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DJ SANiTY bringing crazy beats to Baruch

This past school year at Baruch College, one student’s musical presence was felt throughout the vertical campus, one club event and dirty dutch mix at a time.

Demitri Anastasios Kesoglides, better known as DJ SANiTY, has managed to become the preferred DJ at college parties and fashion shows.

Wearing an eyebrow ring and his typical DJ getup — a button up-shirt with rolled-up sleeves and a bright vest with a matching bow tie and Yankees hat —SANiTY attentively hovers over his booth as his mixes resonate in the air.

Although he’s paid for these gigs, SANiTY’s main compensation is seeing partygoers get caught up in the music like he does.

“Music has that power to affect emotions, to move bodies in unison, to possess no boundaries in terms of race gender [or] anything else,” he said. “Music is a universal language. That’s what I love about it.”

To think it was only a year and a half ago when he met his first Baruch gig, the Purple Hearts Party, with success and since then, went on to DJ roughly 30 parties on campus.

He has DJ-ed at off-campus venues including Club Remix, Sultanas, Studio 34, Sapphire, Public House, Webster Hall and others.

You’ll never catch him interrupting songs to give shout outs, excessively scratching or switching songs too quickly, because he indulges in the sound of the pure mix.

SANiTY is an ‘open format DJ’, usually playing popular songs in the genres of reggae, hip hop and R&B, several types of Latin music, pop, house, top 40 and more.

Dirty dutch house, also known as electro house or bleep house, is his favorite music to mix and he hopes to be the next Afrojack, who is considered one of the best electro house DJs.

If you’ve attended any of Baruch’s biggest parties this year, whether it was the Freak Fest, the Masquerade Ball, or the Cinco de Mayo fiesta, you probably witnessed SANiTY’s uncanny ability to make the multi-purpose room feel like a club at full-throttle.

Courtesy of DJ SANiTY.

You might assume his skills have something to do with his stage name, but that’s not the case, he explains.

The meaning behind ‘SANiTY’, which is tattooed on his upper back as an ambigram, combines music’s impact on his life and his admiration for his favorite basketball player Vince Carter, whose nickname is “Vince Sanity – half man, half amazing.”

“No matter what was happening in my life, music always kept me sane. Like I said, its the soundtrack to my life [...] music is my sanity,” he said.

He believes he has something to prove like Carter, who became an underdog after not meeting expectations of becoming the next Michael Jordan.

With dreams of working his way to the top as an A&R executive (talent scout) at a top record label, SANiTY has kept his plate full preparing for that endeavor making music a part of his academic and business affairs.

He has interned at Atlantic Records doing digital media and marketing for the likes of Jay Z, T.I., Metallica, Trey Songz, Kid Rock and others.

This past semester he served as the president of the New York Music Industry Association, a Baruch club whose purpose is to help students find their niche within the music industry.

Currently interning at EMI Music Publishing, he’s gained knowledge pertaining to copy right law, intellectual property, and exporting music onto TV, film and commercials.

Despite his hectic schedule, he maintains “DJ SANiTY’s Top Five Tracks of the Week”, his weekly prediction of the next music hits.

Photo by Carl Curwen of Party With Baruch. From left to right: SANiTY and his best friends John Hardy and Matthew Commodore, who are also aspiring artists.

Graduating in June with a bachelor’s in Management of Musical Enterprises, he has a busy summer ahead of him before he starts NYU’s graduate program for Music Business.

This summer he will drop his first mixtape S.O.S — Summer of SANiTY, which will feature his first house production called “Don’t Break,” which features fellow Baruchian, Ariana Solis, on the vocal.

The song is an effectively electrifying medley of techno bases, sounding like a heart beating simultaneously with clapping. It makes several transitions into snare drums, sounding like metal trash cans being pounded on, light and whimsical dream-state trance beats and early ’90s freestyle rhythms.

He’s as excited about its release as he is for the upcoming Baruch Bash, his last gig as a Baruch student. On May 27, seniors will be having an epic night, but for SANiTY it will be bittersweet, considering his soon-to-be departure from where it all began.

“This is how DJ SANiTY became DJ SANiTY. It’s all because of the Baruch students,” he said. “If it weren’t for the Baruch Community, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

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