- The Man Behind The Music
- A Different Kind of Bar In Jackson Heights
- Live Music Theatre @ 92Y Tribeca
- What's Next for Dirty Mac?
- Realizing a Dream
- A Staten Island Band Strives to Make a Career out of Their Passion
- The Cyrus Movement Prepares for Musical Warfare
- Winston Ford's Information Highway
- Vespertina's Opera Songbird
Category Archives: 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.”
“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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.”
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.”
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
“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!”
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.
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.
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.
Sitting in the Lyric Diner on 3rd Avenue, Peter Panousopoulos sits looking over the menu pondering what to take for lunch, all while eating Birthday Cake Italian ice from Ralph’s. What may seem as backwards, dessert before the meal that is, it is a true example of his endearing personality: never be conventional. The 19-year-old Filipino and Greek musician-turned-basketball player-turned back musician is one of admiration. Before even deciding on burger and fries, he is already ready to discuss his vast musical knowledge, the type that would cause the unambitious to cringe in fear. Yet, that ambition is far from pretentious; his easygoing smile and nature works like a domino effect for anyone who surrounds him.
Since he was eight years old, Panousopoulos has been involved in music. He began playing the piano then began taking up the guitar two years later. He is the type of person who is naturally musically inclined, being able to point out almost any instrument in the music he hears. “I kind of have this obsession with sound,” he says.
That obsession is very much taken care of: he has three guitars and a Cord M50 Digital Audio Workstation keyboard, which allows him to make use of sounds beyond the basic keyboard, such as drums. To test himself, he listens to a song once then plays it from memory. “I don’t just listen to the lyrics of songs,” he says. “I listen to the repeating beat.”
He grew up listening to Spanish music and rock, which are still his favorite music genres to listen to. Linkin Park, The Starting Line, Blink 182, and Don Omar are just a few of his favorite artists. When it comes to rap music, it’s impossible for him to single out a favorite artist. “Maybe if you give me a top 20, I could work with you,” he laughs. Yet, just as he can listen to rock, Spanish, and rap, he can as easily listen to pop and R&B. When Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” comes on in the diner, he starts humming and singing every line without fault.
His love for music has not always been smooth sailing, however. When Panousopoulos entered high school, he had to make a choice between the school band or school athletics, which the school was known for. “It was a no brainer,” he says. “We didn’t really have much of a music program at our school.”
So for sometime, Panousopoulos gave up music for basketball and soccer. He continued playing basketball into his first year of college at Baruch, where he is now a sophomore. But during his first season, he injured his knee, switching his focus back completely on music.
During his senior year in high school, he started professionally DJ’ing, which he still does once a week to this day. In the past four months, he has performed four times, most recently at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, where he played the guitar and sang. When it comes to releasing his own music, he has not come out with a CD or EP yet, but he works continuously to become a better musician. “I make every single aspect of my music,” he says confidently.
His knowledge of instruments is heard when he plays the guitar. The notes flow right into one another with ease, and his confidence with it radiates. Rather he becomes a famous musician, or music stays as his personal niche, he will always make beautiful music.
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While he is becoming more and more comfortable with singing, his passion remains with the guitar and the piano. For more than ten years he has perfected his skill with these instruments, and he only plans to get better.
In the future, he doesn’t know where life will take him, but he wants to have options. “I want to go to Greece or the Philippines. I might DJ full time. I really would like to get an apprenticeship with a music CEO.” Nonetheless, he knows music will always be apart of his life. “It’s apart of who I am, “ Panousopoulos says with a light smile. His passion is apparent, and wherever he ends up in the music genre, it will be because his ambition to master the musical art form got him there.
Tonight, the head rocking metal band had everyone’s head pumping, body parts flying, and energy soaring across the room. Fall of the Albatross (FOTA), a 5 man crew from Queens, all powered up their instruments and vocals and gave it their ‘best show ever.’
Before we get too far, let’s rewind back 2 days ago when the stress began. When they are not taking their finals, some of the crew members were helping to promote their newly released album, Entanglement. Guitarist Harold McCummings and Colin Ruhwedel along with their Vocalist Ray Hodge, were at Washington Square Park passing out flyers to promote their upcoming event for May 18th. Elsewhere, the other group members, Bassist Robert Anderson and Drummer Anthony Wong took out their baking tools, making free brownies for their show.
“Whewww, who knew baking brownies was harder than making music,” Anthony laughed. “I failed and decided to buy the store brand. What a life saver. Hey, brownie points for free brownies. ”
The band practiced all day on Tuesday. Harold said, “I know it’s a disturbance but it’s a necessity…I know I’m good and we have done it many times…I just want to make sure I’m great.”
The group started in 2007 by chance. They began with nothing but a concept and with practice and preservation, the band continued to grow in fame. Their first show, from what a couple of the group members remembered, consisted of family members and friends in the audience. Today, they have 659 followers on Facebook and 217 on Twitter and many metal-fantics.
Ray commented that their inspiration comes from all sort of genres and artists such as Dillinger Escape Plan and Between the Buried and Me to Earth Wind and Fire and Stevie Wonder. He continued to say, “This is what makes our band different. We blend a mix of different genres that you won’t think would go together but we did it!”
Entanglement is an eclectic blend of metal, funk, soul, jazz. “We’re all busy but that doesn’t stop us from performing. We released the album back in April…I couldn’t wait to perform the album… I’ve been dying for the day (May 18th) to come.”
The day has arrived. The performance started a little after 8pm at the famous Sullivan hall in Greenwich village. The line was short due to the pouring weather. Many who came were males in their late 20’s who eagerly rooted for FOTA as they came up on stage. The band kicked off the show with “Dulce de Leche.” The crowd went wild to Ray’s devilish voice. Lyrics spilled out in mumbo jumbo that made no sense but had a beat that reached out to a lot of people. The crowd was lost in the music, heads were flinging violently up and down and arms were flying in the air, at that point it got pretty scary to stay in the center of the dance floor.
Their next song, ‘The Silver Epic,’ took me by surprised, it was not your common angry music. It started with a funky and a smooth pop settling beat and seconds later it literally transitioned into what seemed like another song but wasn’t. Ray literally gave me a jump when his possessive demon voice emerged. It goes back and forth from funk and jazz to metal. Compared to their inspiration band, The Dillinger Escape Plan, FOTA strived in terms of guitarist skills and vocals. Their music had a creepy calmness like The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Farewell, Mona Lisa,” and a mix of raging vocals of another famous metal band Nile.
The night was a success. The band’s next biggest goal is to get recognized and signed. Colin commented, “I don’t think anyone can imagine that 5 college students could have pull something off like that…We’re new, we’re fresh,” and as corny as it might sound but he said it, “WE ARE… THE FALL OF THE ALBATROSS!”