Embracing the individual as an evolving entity is something that comes naturally and periodically for Edwin Garro (aka UFO!). Although he is best known as one of the instigating influences of American drum and bass, an intelligently in-depth interview provides proof his celestial creativity could never be so easily categorized.
“UFO! is more of a state of mind; pushing the limit, doing something different, not copying the other person, and giving people another world of music,” said Garro. “I’m one of those guys trying to get the most out of every fucking day. Doing things over and over, just like walking into the same house over and over, I get embarrassed and feel like I’m not advancing. I feel I’m not moving forward or exploring all the possibilities.”
Pushing the limits began for Garro when he was young. Having always struggled with school, he found himself heading down a destructive path fueled by the confusion on what to do with his life. Skateboarding became his first outlet of expression, which eventually led to one of the most pivotal moments of his musical journey.
His carpenter father, who constantly insisted on an education, decided to build (upon request) a skate ramp. When Garro launched himself off of the ramp and into the air, his father immediately got up and left. Returning some time later, his father equated the sight of his son’s feat to that of a bird’s freedom in flight. Convinced Garro was capable of succeeding in whatever he wanted, his father decided to follow suite and pursue his own dream…to be a musician.
Garro and his crew were then blown away when his father pulled a Yamaha organ out of the truck he had just returned with. Through confusions and comments of Garro’s father being “too old,” the 57-year-old man declared it was never too late to do what makes you happy.
“Bringing the organ into the house, and by us kinda like studying this father-lust that decided to take this new route, I think slowly but surely I started to be really influenced by him. What really pleased me about the whole organ thing was the lowest key in the organ ‘cause it generated this really low tone bass. And you could hear this low tone bass in the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, ‘Hello Brooklyn.’”
Around the same time, Garro shares how his Bay Area homeland was making a transition from rock to hip hop. He began paying close attention to the radio DJs and the music they were playing such as Run DMC, Public Enemy, NWA, and 2 Live Crew. This led to his immersion and speedy success as a mix mastering DJ in the battling circuit, which he eventually introduced to the club scene in his cultural motherland of Costa Rica.
Shortly after his return from Costa Rica, he decided to make another change by getting away from the destructive crew he was kicking it with. And the search for his next progressive transformation didn’t take long as he was introduced to the then emerging sounds from London, drum and bass.
But it wasn’t until he met Goldie, and was invited by the musician to join him in London, that true inspiration flooded his creativity and music.
“Goldie was a huge influence because he was already doing what I wanted to do. So by me looking to him, I felt like it was a lot easier. I understood my past a lot better, and I understood myself more in some weird way. Then going to London was the biggest mind-opener ever because I was like, ‘These dudes are doing it, and they are doing it so well. We need to establish a group. We need to establish a family. We need to establish a crew of people who are all striving to do the same thing, to become the best that they can be. And that’s how Phunckateck was made basically.”
He co-founded Phunckateck in 1996 with the then and now strong belief in creative collaborations. The collective DJs are credited for the west coast flooding of jungle, drum and bass; playing alongside other notable drum and bass DJs such as Goldie, Roni Size, and Dieselboy. Several remixes and releases eventually led to one of Garro’s most successful drum and bass creations, the 1999 hit ‘Enemy Infiltration.’
Eventually the crew broke up, but the collaborations didn’t stop. Moving from San Francisco to New York in 2000, attempts were made by Garro for some time to put together a band, and continue fusing sounds. The end results were several projects which included Eskimobot, Back of The Buss, and a musical production for the show CSI: NY.
But Garro soon got fed up with music and decided to explore the world of art. He got a job at MoMa’s PS1 in New York City, and spent about three years of assisting artists and setting up art installations. Interesting encounters with different types of artists (like an artist who shot his arm in the name of ‘art’) were experienced, along with the inspiration to produce some of his own paintings.
“It was a good insight to the possibilities of art and music. And it gave me a break from music. I really needed that break.”
Ultimately a void in his life could be ignored no longer, and he knew the only way to fill it was to start making music again. Around the same time he went to a party where he was introduced to a live dubstep set.
“What we were listening to was the distorted, mental little brother to drum and bass, who smoked a lot of weed, and liked hip hop. He loved the bass line of his drum and bass brother, and thought he could do it all better.”
Although he liked the new sound, he still wasn’t clear what he wanted to do. So to figure it out he moved back to Costa Rica to study rhythm. Another highly influential person he worked with was a young drummer named Frederico Gomez. The two collaborated on several songs which they released under the name Cosmetics. Recognition and praise for their work eventually led to a coaxing by several for Garro to return to the states.
Since he’s been back, Garro has been hard at work maintaining his forward momentum by mixing several styles and genres. Although he still respects and incorporates drum and bass with his new stuff, there are a lot of other twists and influences added in order to achieve his goal of breaking all the genre binding restrictions.
“I feel like I’m on my second run towards music. But this time I kinda feel like it’s not just drum and bass anymore. It’s just kinda for self identity for music. I want to demolish the whole genre of drum and bass, or moombahton, or dubstep, or whatever. I want to let people know that it’s not about tempos. I feel like kids get caught up in one tempo and then they become these soldiers. And if someone doesn’t like something then this whole hate thing starts up and it turns into, ‘Fuck dubstep, or fuck the new drum and bass, or fuck this guy playing moombahton.’
I want to demolish all of that. People and artists are special enough that they can grow and create their own sound. But I feel like genres always hold people back from really blowing up the beauty and the possibilities of music. This year I plan on doing the same thing but with a creative group of people. That’s how all the best things are done. That’s how the nation that we live in got started, with a bunch of mutha fuckers who got together and were like, ‘Let’s do it our way, and let’s go against the rules.’”
Let’s ALL help UFO! demolish The Mousetrap this Thursday, October 27, 2011 during a special Halloween edition of IndyMojo’s Altered Thurzdaze. We’ll be doing things IndyMojo’s way with a costume contest and a rare 4 deck tag sets from Adam Jay & Shiva, Kodama & Hollow Point, and a special birthday set from Gizzmo.
The growing embrace of the electronic scene in Indy has multiplied surges of packed dance floors in several different bars and clubs, several times a week, and mainly for the over 21 crowd. As the scene grows, so too does the audience. And for anyone (including those under 21) wanting to know where the party’s at, there’s Grime Time Collective.
Grime Time Collective is mainly operated by Mikey Klingman (aka DJ Kleann), and Zach Szachnitowski (aka Child’s Play), with occasional contributions by their friend Austin Hood. Instead of heading to post-high school frat parties, these guys are dedicated to introducing and maintaining an EDM scene for the younger generations even through some difficult challenges.
“Basically we’re just some kids who have some motive to do something with our lives,” stated GTC. “Kids grow up and want to be firemen and policemen. We grew up wanting to be musicians. And we really never picked up instruments until we found ourselves in front of turntables.”
In front of the turntables, GTC has found youthful mastery at throwing some insane parties that have literally destroyed dance floors. The long time friends began their party throwing adventures a couple of years ago while they were still in high school.
“We were always like, ‘Man where’s the party at? There’s nothing to do, and I’m tired of sitting around,’” GTC said.
So having already been inspired to explore the turntables by their 2008 experience at Lollapalooza, Klingman and Szachnitowski decided to put an end to their boredom. They began throwing parties of their own. The word got out quickly among classmates and before they knew it they had achieved an almost celebrity-type status.
“We’ve always gone big in everything we do,” said GTC. “In high school everybody knew us. We didn’t know everybody, but everybody knew us.”
Influenced by artist such as Diplo, Dillion Francis, Slater Hogan, and Action Jackson (to name a few), both play their music with the main goal of “some sweaty booty shaking.” In the beginning, their parties were fueled by mainly any CD that would get people dancing. Once they gained experience and confidence with the turntables, the transition moved over to vinyl where their focus and loyalty currently remain.
“(We) like spinning on vinyl mostly…it’s not necessarily easier to do, it’s just that it feels like you have more control over what you’re doing. And it’s just O.G.,” said GTC.
Out of high school the initiative to get things done continued and the parties didn’t stop. This attracted the attention of several “older katz” in the EDM scene like Slater Hogan and Tyler Stewbot, who helped keep the music going, and introduce them to the over 21 crowd. Recent events have included an epic spotlight performance at Cirque Du Dub, getting the after-Identity party started by opening for DJ Dan, and their own weekly at the Hookah Pipe Cafe.
When asked to describe how they feel on the decks in front of a large crowd, Klingman enthusiastically said, “It makes you feel complete. Like you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. When I’m playing and the whole place is bouncin’, and I’m throwing up devil horns like, ‘Yeeaaa! Rock and roll!’ It’s just a great feeling.”
But despite these steps forward, there are several factors that have slowed their progression. Most of these hinderances stem from the simple fact that they are under the age of 21.
Unable to get into most clubs at the ages of 18 and 19, the two DJs are often turned away from performing because of Indiana state laws. In order to keep the parties going they have to find venues, like the Hookah Pipe Cafe, that is 18 and over. Unfortunately, the weekly Hookah gig was recently canceled, but GTC still plans on throwing events there.
Another difficulty they encounter is funding. A lack of funding often leaves them no other choice than to work with outside organizations who fund their parties. They feel that because they are young, many try to take advantage of them. To be clear, the party-boys-with-no-business-knowledge image is simply a mirage. GTC actually takes their business very seriously, and will stand up to any deceptions.
“We don’t want to be the kids that you can punk on,” GTC stated.
A bright future is illuminated by the doors that continue to open for them. And it’s possible that their biggest challenge of youth now, will eventually be the secret to their success later.
“Our crowd is gonna grow with us. By the time we’re legally allowed to get in to the club, that whole crowd’s gonna be in the club, and they’ve already been our fans. So that’s really cool.”
Their goal is to eventually make it into clubs all over the country where they don’t necessarily care to get rich, but rather just have the opportunity to travel, play music, and eat good food.
A recent interview on City360TV has initiated current events still in the works such as Grime Time TV, a weekly show “sorta like Soul Train.” The streamed show is plotted to feature their performances at a weekly, all-ages party equipped with dancers. Also in the works is a party at the Hookah Pipe Cafe estimated to take place on September 30th. Until the details are set in stone, you can catch GTC on Friday, September 23, 2011 at Docs Music Hall in Muncie, IN where they will perform an all-ages show with Ill Atmospheric, and DJ Dru.
For more information on GTC, their 6 tatoo designs, t-shirts, and upcoming parties you can check out:
Prepare to be mauled at The Mousetrap this Thursday night as G-9 Collective celebrates their 3-year anniversary with a rowdy event headlined by special guest Crizzly (aka Chris Marshall). Dominating the crunkstep/dubstep scene with his bass heavy mixes, the modest young musician honored us with an interview that gives further insight into who Crizzly is, and what he’s all about.
Even with Marshall’s rising success, his ‘About’ section on his website purely states, “I like to fuck shit up.” A simple, yet, accurate statement that perfectly describes not only the songs he mixes and produces, but also the impact he and a group of friends are having on the EDM scene in San Antonio, Texas.
“I mostly wrote that because I don’t want to write a lame third person bio,” said Marshall. “I’m not here to stroke my ego, and I still consider myself a work in progress. I’ve only been making music for a short time, and anything before that was just life.”
Marshall started working on his own sound about four to five years ago after playing around with a drum pedal while bored on a cold, winter day. Prior to that, his background playing music was basic experimentation in middle school with the trombone and guitar. Although he did once cover an electronic song with his trombone, and used his guitar to produce his own dubstep riffs, he does not currently implement them into his music.
Over the past years he has advanced his skills to where he is not only mixing, but producing his own music as well. A recent signing with Killpop Records has provided “the biggest stepping stone thus far,” with honored appearances at this year’s Electric Daisy Carnival (where he was in both the Dallas and Las Vegas line-up), added weekend tours around the country, and a recently released collaboration with Kids At The Bar.
“It’s weird, I was just going through my iTunes and reorganizing my tracks. I noticed how much EDM has evolved since I started playing,” explained Marshall. “The most notable change is production value, and that’s how mine has evolved. I’m still learning something every time I open up Ableton, which might be one of the reasons why I hesitate to release anything official. I still feel like I have so much to learn.”
Not naming anyone in particular, he acknowledges all major dubstep artists as his current inspiration, especially “anyone willing to push the envelope.” In addition, a confessed dislike for most of today’s current music leads Marshall surfing the internet and looking back to greats such as WuTang, whom he recently honored with his song ‘Lifted.’
Marshall credits the biggest influence on his progression, however, to the series of Daft Punk, and Gorillaz animated music videos on Cartoon Network’s Toonami. He came across them when he was in third grade, and claims no other impact has compared.
“No one around me listened to that kind of music. The culture where I’m from is totally different to what I was turned on by,” said Marshall. “Those videos kinda brainwashed me, in a good way of course.”
This brain washing eventually led him to where he is now with his music, and the impact he is having on San Antonio. Marshall and some of his friends decided it was time for San Antonio to catch up with the EDM scene in other cities so they started Lifted Wednesdays at the Ivy Rooftop, and Play Thursdayzz at Club Rio.
“Lifted is a crazy party that me and my friends started earlier this summer. After being in the San Antonio scene for a while, and traveling from city to city for a sec, I realized there was one big thing missing. The scene has been dead for the last decade, and the most we got is the occasional Tiesto show. What we needed was something consistent that people can be a part of, so I started the weekly in hopes to build something.
After the fourth week we were hitting capacity and the club got named ‘Critics Choice’ in the local newspaper. But now that we’re maxed out, I decided to take up an offer at another place, Club Rio. This place is huge. This is where all the big shows in town come through like Benny Bennasi, Rusko, Above and Beyond, and Skrillex. It feels good being able to say I have a home at one of the nicest, if not the most reputable clubs in the city. In the end the goal I’ve always had is to build the scene.”
And how does he plan on building and maintaining the scene?
“Well consistency is one way. Pretty much the only way. We can’t pop up, throw a show, then disappear for months. We gotta keep pounding the music in their faces from every angle. My crew just launched an HD radio series, as well as a live Ustream broadcast. We used to broadcast every week from a classroom. That was fun while it lasted but too many people started showing up and it was getting a little out of hand. We’re also gonna start passing out mix cd’s of all the DJ’s at Lifted to the general public.”
This weekend brings Marshall up north for a weekend of fun starting with ALTERED THURZDAZE at The Mousetrap, a FREE show in Indy! Then it’s off to Element Nightclub in Evansville Friday night. And finally Skully’s in Columbus, OH will play host to the chaos Saturday night, to round out the short Midwest run.
So what can fans expect when Crizzly takes you local venue?
“Expect a mirage of crunk. If things go right, everyone should be naked 30 minutes in,” said Marshall. “I bring a bottle of crunk to every show. It’s not easy to bring on a plane, but I get away with it.”
Local trio Max Allen Band (MAB) has been honored with the title of Indy’s “Best Blues Band” for a second year in a row. But before they take the stage at this year’s quickly approaching MojoStock, they wanted to set the record straight that their sound “ain’t your grand daddy’s blues.”
The complex cast of three includes Max Allen (guitar and lead vocals), Shaan France (drums), and Dace Robie (bass). In addition to playing some blues, MAB is known for fusing several sounds like funk, rock, jazz, and reggae, to name a few. Their shows are an entertaining mix of serious music blended with a laid back, euphoric vibe.
When asked how it felt to be making their first appearance on the MojoSotck line-up, the simple word “finally” was instinctually said before the guys took turns elaborating their excitement on being in on the fun.
Dace: “We’re really happy to get involved with the Mojo scene. I think there’s a lot of good artists and live bands that are going to be playing there, and we’re glad to gradually get affiliated with other acts. We still play roots stuff and we still play blues, but we like to incorporate more than that. And we don’t want fans of electronic music to shy away from us just because they read that we are this roots rock.”
Shaan: “It’s more or less looking forward to putting on a good show and being involved in the same type of event with a lot of our friends. Also, it’s great for us ‘cause it allows for a lot more people to say, ‘Hey, well these guys are from here,’ and, ‘Hey, these guys aren’t just a blues band.”
Max: “That’s the one thing about going and traveling, and doing shows is that you don’t get to see a lot of shows. It’s cool whenever you get to play a festival atmosphere because you get to play, and you get to watch other bands.”
Discussing the two stages at MojoStock (the jam stage and the electronic stage), along with the recent purchase of a guitar synthesizer by Max, revealed the group’s collective interest in building their sound by working with djs and other electronic artists. They feel MojoStock holds a lot of possibilities to not just showcase the complexity of music they always play, but also how they are working to evolve it.
Dace: “I think there’s a dialogue going on, and it’s all just about the music. A lot of djs learn from bands as far as trying to get more and more live performance into their show. Then we as a band try to aspire to the continuity that an electronic artist has, especially transitions which are really smooth. The more mixing and matching we’re all doing together, the better it’s going to be for everybody.”
Shaan: “What I really like about this band is that we’ll play anything and we play everything. So you don’t get stagnant in one genre. Being a musician, and wanting to be creative, and wanting to be around creativity, it’s a good place to be. I think my goal would be to do MojoStock again. Play the jamband stage, then go over and play the electric stage.”
Elaborating on this thought, the three talked about one influence of their’s, Jojo Mayer. Shaan, having first mentioned him, played a quick clip of a song by Mayer’s group Nerve. As the song played some dubstep beats, Shaan and Dace began enthusiastically bouncing up and down in their seats.
Dace: “Jojo Mayer is one of the top notch drum set players of all time. He plays all the percussion live, and really recreates what the computers do. Uncannily, it takes a lot of technical ability to do all of it, but, he plays the shit out of the drums. Any really good drummer these days, pretty much 9 times out of 10, are gonna know how to emulate what the djs do in a jungle beat, or a break beat, and they’re the ones who influence us a lot.”
In addition to Mayer and multiple, multiple other musical influences that affect their sound, Max credits life’s journeys as his lyrical muse.
Max: “Anything that gives really intense emotions, and totally distracts from everything else in life, I think that’s where I find my best work. When I’m either completely pissed, or completely infatuated with something, that’s when I’m like I’ve gotta put that down on paper and do something with it.”
Doing something is exactly what Max has been up to since he began playing professionally at 16-years-old. The gradual development from a simple sound and body of music to a more complex form is nothing new. Change and growth have been continuous. Not just with the music, but with the members as well.
Being the first current member to join the group, Shaan started off by filling in gigs a little while after graduating from Morehead State University. A few months later the fill-in position became permanent when Max’s problems with his previous drummer became unreconcilable.
Shaan: “I thought it was a really cool group, and I liked the fact that it was a 3 piece. There’s just a lot of leg room, you know, but in that same sense, being a 3 piece you’ve gotta work really, really tight. There’s nothing to hide behind. There’s drums, bass, guitar.
And for me being the oldest of the group, I like that it allows me to learns things from these guys that I never got to learn while I was in college. Things that just weren’t in at the time, or that just weren’t a point of focus. I started listening to music that I never, ever would have listened to if it wasn’t for Dace and Max.”
Dace’s entrance into the band happened a little while later when his father (who was a friend of Max’s) suggested the band to Dace, and Dace to Max.
Max: “He came to me and said, ‘Hey, I know this really good bass player.’ And in my mind I was like, ‘Well there’re a lot of really good bass players.’ But then I thought, ‘What better way to know a man than to know the caveman?’”
Dace: “Yeah, my dad came home and was like, ‘There’s this really cool band.’ And I was like, ‘Well, there’s a lot of really cool bands.’ But eventually we got together, and…(said in a sarcastically, dreamy voice) it’s been magic ever since.”
Over the past couple of years, the group has focused a lot of their time booking shows out of state and traveling. Their hope was to remain fresh while discouraging locals to continually put off attending readily available shows. However, there are times they feel doing so may have worked against them.
Shaan: “The thing about our band is we’ve been here for a while. A lot of people will come up to us and ask us where we’re from because we spent so much time earlier on playing and trying to gain popularity around out of state.”
Max: “Well if you go out of town, the demand for you at home will go up. But it goes the other way if you go out too much, a lot people forget about you.”
It seems obvious with the crowning of Indy’s “Best Blues Band,” that being forgotten is definitely not the case. If you have forgotten, however, or you don’t know their name, you can catch them live at MojoStock coming up in less than two weeks. They are set to play the jam stage on Friday, July 29th from 12:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. In addition to playing the festival, they are working on a new album which they hope to have out by the end of the summer.
Can’t wait until then? More information about MAB can be found on their website: http://www.maxallenmusic.com
Set to disrupt the gravity tethers at this year’s MojoStock is one of the youngest and most talented dubstep artist on the scene. Cyberoptics (aka Alex Epps) humbly describes his music as “futuristic, nerdy, fun…and lots of bass.” But the quick achievements at each chapter of his game makes it’s clear his work bench is equipped for more than simple upgrades.
Having recently turned 21, Cyberoptics has only been producing and djing for a few years. Intrigued by a friend’s Fruity Loops program (now known as FL Studio), he began playing and making his own songs during the spring before his high school graduation. About a year later he made the choice to advance to the next level.
“I didn’t really get into djing until my songs got really good and I wanted to play them for people,” said Cyberoptics.
And when he started playing them, there was no way people could look away. Shortly after he began to introduce his sound, his song “Kong” grabbed the attention and signing of a hometown local in Memphis, Tennessee. This release quickly produced contact from the accomplished and talented Reid Speed, who asked if he’d make a song for her recording label Play Me Records.
“I got really inspired and was like, ‘Hell yeah!’ This was my chance to you know, like really get in the game and make it big so I made ‘Geisha,’ which was my really big release. And it went to number one, and I guess the ball kept rolling from there.”
“Rolling from there” means not only did his song ‘Geisha’ make it to number one and stay in the top five for about a month on Beatport.com, but he also went on to release several champion hits such as “Pimpin,” “Tie Fighter,” and “Toasty.” All of which placed in Beatport’s top 20.
Quick success and getting his music out to the masses, however, is not his main concern. His love for music is less about survival and fame, and more about solving the puzzle of doing something new and different.
“I definitely want to keep pushing the bar by doing new stuff, and not ripping off. I feel a lot of dubstep and music now is just ripping off of older music and it’s not really original. I just really want to make something nobody’s really heard and if I can make it to where it pleases the masses then that’s fine.”
He admitted one of his biggest challenges as a young producer and dj was competing with other djs in making his own unique sound. Despite the challenge, Cyberoptics is more concerned with his own music rather than others.
Therefore, Cyberoptics doesn’t really listen to many dubstep artists.
“As far as being a young aspiring producer or dj, I stress to not worry about what other people are making. And if you’re gonna make dubstep, or you’re gonna make whatever, I would suggest that you listen to that genre of music as little as possible. That way you don’t get influenced by other people, and you end up making what you want to make.
And at the end of the day you’re gonna be 100 % satisfied. Rather than 70 or 80% satisfied because you based your ideas off of somebody else. Personally I found when I make songs that came straight from my mind and my heart, I like them better.”
He named only one dubstep influence during the interview, Liquid Stranger.
“Liquid Stranger is one of those people that when you meet them, you automatically know that they are on another level from other people. I don’t have very many role models, but if I did have a role model, he would be one of them.
He teaches a martial arts class, he owns his own dojo which he devotes a lot of time to, and he studies Native Americanism, and things like that. So he’s culturally trying to improve aspects of his life whether it be musical, or personal aspects. And he doesn’t care if his music gets sold, or about popularity. He just wants to make good music and live his life. And that’s pretty much what I want to do.”
Some not so obvious influences included southern hip-hop such as Three 6 Mafia, old classic 70s like Kool and The Gang, and his mother and father. His mother used to sing at Carnegie Hall, and his father sang in a policeman quartet which traveled all over the country, and even sang for the president.
Also, an interest in rock and metal during his early teenage years inspired a period of time where he played guitar. Something he decided wasn’t for him.
“I just gave it up because everybody else seemed like they played guitar. So that didn’t make me feel that special.”
Finally, if you’ve ever listened to Cyberoptics’ music, it’s pleasingly obvious video games are an influence. Not just by the various sound bites he adds to his songs, but also with titles such as “Plasma Cutter,” which is the weapon used in one of the most amazing games of all time, Dead Space.
The influence is also paralleled with the hope of being able to someday make music for video games or other visual mediums.
“Video games kinda give me some sort of inspiration because it’s not something you see everyday in real life. So then you have something to relate to other than real life stuff.
I really want to have my music put to a specific visual that’s really well done, that will be seen and heard by millions of people. I feel that people relate to music more if they have something to watch or interact to with the music.”
On top of this future prospect, Cyberoptics is currently working on a full length, physical album of original songs soon to be released by Play Me Records. He is also firing off bass-filled sets with the PLAY ME Bass Monster Tour currently traveling the United States. But most importantly you can catch him here in Indianapolis during MojoStock, which takes place July 29 and 30 at Sleepybear Campground. For more information on line-up times check out:
Let’s make this clear from the beginning, no one, and I mean no one messes with Jessie and Amy’s music. Not even the sound guy trying to figure it out.
This was what I gathered the first time I got to see Jessie and Amy perform at the Acoustic Live Challenge’s second set of semi-finals this past May. Issues with the sound had been happening all night. While most of the performers accepted it and played any way, Jessie refused to start until it was right. I soon learned this passion and persistence was only one of several recognizable talents which earned the ladies an invitation to step out of the coffee shops and bars, and onto a bigger stage at this year’s MojoStock set to take place July 29th and July 30th.
When asked how it felt to be included in MojoStock’s talented line up, Jessie enthusiastically replied, “Surreal! It’s not just background music now, people are there for music and only music so it’s a rush. Playing with these well known musicians of Indy is an honor, and I’m loving every minute of it!”
Jessie Phelps and Amy Zehr, although relatively new to the Indy music scene, are no strangers to playing music. Both have years of experience merged together in one finely tuned duo that is grabbing many people’s attention. An entertaining interview with Jessie and Amy provided insight into their musical journeys of the past, how the two influence each other in the present, and where it seems they’re destined to go in the future.
Musical influences have surrounded Jessie her whole life beginning with her grandpa and uncle. She started off playing the drums on her grandpa’s sparkly, orange drum set held together with a lot of duck tape. Through the years of out playing the boys in school, coming in second place in a Bedford, IN songwriting competition, and bouncing around several different bands, she also learned how to play the guitar.
To her frustration, playing the guitar did not come as easily as playing the drums.
“I just sucked,” said Jessie. “Finally I flipped it over, so it was upside down, and I got it. And now I always play it that way.”
Amy first picked up her mom’s old guitar right around eighth grade. Inspired by her mom and sister (who both played), and encouraged with a new guitar as a Christmas present from her dad, she pursued her passion by teaching herself to play.
The fateful pairing of Jessie with Amy happened several years ago when the two met at a mutual friend’s cook out. An unprompted duet of the song “Landslide” written by Stevie Nicks (one of the duo’s influences) was all it took to convince them playing together was the next step.
Amy recalled, “My first impression when Jessie and I began playing ‘Landslide’ together was, ‘Cool, she likes ‘Landslide,’ she has good musical taste.’ Second impression was, ‘Wow she can sing.’ Third impression, ‘YES! She can harmonize!’”
So the lovely ladies began playing and writing music together, and performing for friends. They quickly started picking up gigs at various coffee shops and bars around town. It was at one of their favorite venues, Loughmiller’s Pub, where they were offered one of their first “coolest” opportunities, to play a VIP section at Voodoo Music Fest in New Orleans.
The next big step came when they decided to test their talent at the annual Acoustic Live Challenge. Encouraged by a friend to try it out, they contacted Mr. Rob Snodgrass and proceeded to dominate the competition.
“We were so nervous, we didn’t know what to expect,” said Jessie. “So we said, ‘Let’s just play like we always play. Let’s just be us.’”
Jessie and Amy being “just” Jessie and Amy landed them upfront with a fifth place rank among many brilliant musicians. Their dazzling display of talent transfixed the crowd and judges each time with their harmonious voices, and alternating presentation of instrumental mastery.
But all would be impossible without the special dynamic the two share. Mutual respect mixed with two strong, yet opposite personalities equals a balanced musical duo focused on continually growing and learning. Jessie elaborated on their differences with a funny little example of how Amy makes a copy of their playlists and tapes them to Jessie’s guitar.
“Amy has to have it all planned out, while I’m more free-spirited…go with the flow type,” said Jessie. “She keeps me in line and I lighten her up. But we’re really two big goof balls.”
Amy added, “Jessie and I definitely balance each other out well. Though we do both write, and sometimes co-write, most of our originals are Jessie’s songs and I get inspired by her to write more. We both enjoy finding unique ways to add depth to our songs, whether it be through harmonizing, 2 guitar parts, or percussion.
It helps that we share similar styles in both music and lyrics, but when we do have different opinions, we have always been good at offering suggestions and coming to agreements without getting offended, and I think that is a key to our success in playing together.”
Another impressive thing about Jesse and Amy is the large following of loyal fans. Each of their performances at the Acoustic Live Challenge was packed to barely standing room only. And if you weren’t there to see them, you left wanting to see more.
When I asked Jessie to describe their music to someone who was unfamiliar she replied, “It’s very raw, I guess homegrown. It comes from deep down. Emotional, but still a lot of energy.”
All following in line with the several musical influences mentioned such as Tegan & Sarah, Indigo Girls, Sheryl Crow, Jewel, Tracy Chapman, Brandi Carlile, Joan Jett, Joan Osborne, The Dixie Chicks, and Adele, just to name a few.
“My attention is caught by raw musical talent and poetic and meaningful lyrics,” Amy said. “Especially by artists who don’t allow themselves to get caught up in mainstream distractions.”
The girls are moving into the future by wrapping up other commitments. With more time to focus on their music, they are planning to take the next successful steps. Amy just finished up her second year as a teacher. And Jessie is currently finishing up with her college degree in sports management at IUPUI. Not to mention, she is also an assistant coach for a middle school volleyball team.
Participating in the Acoustic Live Challenge showcased their many talents and proved to open several more doors leading into the future. Incase you haven’t joined the fan club yet (like the rest of us), you can check them out on their website, or better yet live, at the upcoming soon-to-be-sold-out-show MojoStock.
Tickets available at http://mojostockindy.com/
We were extremely honored to snag a little time out of DJ Micro’s hectic schedule for a little interview before he takes over the decks tomorrow, June 10, 2011 at Tru nightclub in Broad Ripple. So pay attention as he reveals an exclusive look into his influences, the journey to magnificence, and where he’s headed next.
Just in case you’re in the dark, or need a recap, DJ Micro is a veteran producer and spin master with an extensive and impressive musical history. Specializing in trance, progressive house, and break beats, Micro worked his way from building up the Long Island electronic scene to being an internationally known icon.
We began the interview discussing past and future influences where he named artist such as David Morales, Todd Terry, Deadmau5, and Armin Van Buuren (just to name a few). Some not so obvious influences came from his youth in the 70s where disco was a family affair.
“Disco was a huge influence on me,” said Micro. “My parents used to go out every Saturday night to boogie on down. In the 80s it turned for me to freestyle, Carlos Berrios, Omar Santana, etc.”
This eventually changed with the witness of a Frankie Bones’ performance in 1991. At a small club in New York called The Dome, Micro was inspired to turn to the electronic circuit.
“That week I went to his record store in Brooklyn, NY called Groove Records.”
Once the change was made, Micro became an influential force in Long Island’s scene. The first change he made was convincing club Reign’s owner to surrender one night a week to “techno.” Shortly after, he opened his own “all-techno” club named Caffeine, where he was the resident DJ. This feat exploded in popularity among party kids all across the U.S., and led to Caffeine’s expansion as a recording label and clothing line.
Later achievements include over 13 CDs produced and re-mixed, over half a million albums sold, a DJ Times nomination for “America’s Best DJ,” and another nomination by Club Music Awards for “Best DJ Set.”
Having traveled and played in several cities and countries, it’s certain he would have several stories of chaos. So I asked what one of his most memorable moments was.
“A dude on acid took all his clothes off and was dancing as if nothing was the matter (lol).”
Shifting into current times, the club and clothing line have faded away, but Micro is currently working on the resurrection of the Caffeine recording label. He based his decision on the fact that “the digital age is much more competitive.” His new endeavors include not just exploring new shifts to his own work, but helping up-and-coming talent as well.
When I asked if he had any advice for aspiring talent, he replied, “If you make music, the DJing will come.”
This led into his thoughts on the changes that have taken place over the years as electronic music has shifted from a more underground existence to the mainstream.
“Positively, there are always new people coming in for the experience of electronic music. Negatively, some come for the wrong reasons.”
So whether you’re a veteran or amateur electronic music lover, prepare yourself for a night of nonstop dancing tomorrow night. DJ Micro promises an “edgy” performance sure to prompt a gyrating mob on the dance floor.
Friday, June 10th at Tru Nightclub
Event Page: Click Me!
If you’ve continually put off attending one of the best local music competitions over the past 10 weeks, then the time to check it out is NOW.
This Thursday night at The Ugly Monkey, eight incredibly talented acts will battle in the final round for a guaranteed spot on this year’s highly anticipated MojoStock, set to take place July 29th and July 30th. Along with several other fabulous prizes at stake, and don’t forget the title of awesomeness, the competition so far has been producing performances that demanded the room pay attention.
The past Thursday night’s battle churned out four more contenders for the top spot. Results were the mesmerizing Jess and Amy in first, Jamie Carnes’ stunning come-back for second, a shake up of sounds by The Knollwood Boys for third, and Josh Hann’s free spirited set for fourth.
An honorable mention to Junk Box Mike, Grant Newton, and Chad Mills. All proved why they should be there with stunning performances that made it hard for all to choose.
The four advancing acts will join first semi-final round winners James Wilkerson & Pat Armstrong, Joe Sherfik, Chris Wolf, and The Post Script. Performances are scheduled to begin at 8:00 p.m., with a meet and greet session with the artists beginning at 7:00 p.m. Don’t miss out on this final opportunity to experience some quality local talent, and witness first hand the talent dominating act winning their way to the MojoStock stage.
I never imagined using the term “hippy mosh pit.” It doesn’t make much sense either when it’s used to describe the dance floor during part of a bluegrass show. But when I found myself in the middle of one during the Greensky Bluegrass show this past Friday night, I realized pleasant oddities such as the hippy mosh pit are only possible through the power of good music and happy vibes.
We arrived at Birdy’s a little early in the evening to a small crowd covering only a couple of tables. Hopes of grabbing a bite to eat and a refreshing beer on the side patio were quickly halted with the long pause and glare we got from the bartender when we asked about food. Starving, we decided to take a quick trip across the street for a snack. When we returned thirty minutes later the crowd had multiplied. A summer-like breeze whirled it’s way around the humming chatter, exciting the senses into a feel-good consciousness equated to an outdoor summer festival.
It wasn’t long after we got back that Greensky Bluegrass stepped on stage. For those who aren’t familiar, the five man, all string instrument band consists of Dave Bruzza on guitar, Anders Beck on dobro, Mike Devol with his upright bass, Mike Bont on banjo, and Paul Hoffman rocking the mandolin. No style was left behind as each member exchanged moments leading the songs that varied in length. Shifting the lengths of the songs from a few minutes to an extended version was a nice twist, like a fusion of jam band meets bluegrass. I also enjoyed the blend of original music mixed with bluegrass covers of artists like Prince and Pink Floyd.
The full dance floor consisted of a variety of people mostly dancing with their eyes closed and in their own happy place. A multitude of songs got the crowd bouncing around a little more, building up to the quick explosion of the hippy mosh pit. I say quick, well because it was. And it wasn’t like an angry storm of hippies bashing into each other. More like a burst of excitement that produced bodies bouncing off of each other.
As the final song played, we noticed a lonely patron who was enjoying the show with his eyes closed and his head leaned back on the ATM machine. We were sure he’d open them as the crowd enthusiastically cheered the group back on the stage for an encore. But no such luck. Hopefully he’ll read this and know better next time that the Greensky Bluegrass performance is well worth keeping your eyes on.
If you don’t know who NumberNin6 (aka Nishant Parikh) is, or all you know is that he made an amazing dubstep remix of Prodigy’s “Breathe,” then you wouldn’t know his intelligence extends further beyond his music. Not only does he hold the titles of talented DJ and producer, but he also carries the title of medical student, adding a stated “element of craziness” to his “dichotomy” of skills.
It all started in high school. Parikh and some buddies shared a common interest in producing electronic music and decided to act on it. Having been influenced by artists such as Paul Oakenfold, and Above & Beyond, he stayed true for years to trance performances and mixes.
He admits during those times he had a “dark side musically,” with a secret appreciation for drum and bass, and dubstep. But it wasn’t until a college semester at London’s esteemed University of Oxford that his music changed permanently. One night at the nightclub DMZ, he got to experience performances by dubstep all-stars such as the duo Digital Mystikz (aka Mala and Coki), and Joe Nice. “It was a huge night that blew my mind. All of the top UK guys were there in this big church with no ‘ravey’ stuff,” he said.
Inspired, Parikh decided to move in a new direction with influences from the UK rather than from the U.S. When I asked him to describe his music and how it differs from other dubstep DJs he answered, “Think of dub-reggae, UK 2 step, and punk rock having some sort of weird love child, with emphasis on bass, and sprinkled with soothing trance.”
Currently his home base is SubHuman, a sub label of the Human Imprint recording label started by Dieselboy. He joins other established artists such as Bare, and Smash Gordon in producing and mixing several successful hits. A huge accomplishment within itself, but to add to the awe, Parikh does all of this while attending medical school.
As of now, Parikh is in the midst of his rotations and planning on graduating in May of next year. He hasn’t decided what he wants to specialize in, but does have a couple of interests. His love for kids leaves a possibility for pediatrics. Yet, he also is interested in internal medicine, with emphasis in geriatric care. Further explaining this interest, he stated with admiration, “They’re like kids with amazing little nuggets of wisdom.”
Although he doesn’t credit any specific instance for his decision to study medicine, he will never forget how one “amazing” pediatrician helped his family through a confusing time when his younger brother was born with a disability. In honor of that experience, he hopes to lessen the “socioeconomic cultural gap” between patients and doctors which sometimes makes it hard to establish a genuine connection. He attaches his experiences “meeting a lot of cool, sometimes weird people” in the music industry, with his ability to connect on a more personal level with his patients.
So how does he manage to balance making music, with time at the hospital, and the massive amount of studying? “It’s not as graceful as it seems. It’s more like me stumbling through life and all my musical counterparts being patient,” he said.
NumberNin6 steps up to the decks this Saturday, April 30, 2011 for a not-to-be-missed, FREE show at The Mousetrap. The interview ended with his own excitement when I described The Mousetrap and the type of crowd he would be playing for. He promised nothing less than to, “Put on display a variety of sounds, and take people on a journey with some new stuff.”