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MEDIEVAL THE NON-MUSIC ISSUE: STEPH POCKETS, YUSUF MUHAMMAD, DRGN KING, ILLVIBE COLLECTIVE AND MUCH, MUCH MORE
CONTENTS | Issue #9
THE JUMP OFF Steph Pockets, Mean Streets, Illvibe Collective, True Gold, DJ Grandpa, Jonathan Low, Kyle "Slick" Johnson, Roof Doctor, Gearing Up, Ryshon Jones, Belgrade, Jackie Paper, Rainbow Destroyer, DRGN King, John "Heyward" Howkins, Laurin Talese, Nigel Richards.
THIS PLACE ROCKS Marshall Kavanaugh is fostering community with his Dream Oven. Goldilocks Gallery is reinventing itself.
MUSIC & EDUCATION Drummers work their asses off at shows (and practices). That might make their lives better.
MUSIC & POLITICS Congressman Chaka Fattah knows that learning to play music is a key to developing critical thinking.
COVER stories: non-MUSIC ISSUE Throughout this issue, you'll find stories about musicconnected folks and their lives away from music. Joe Hardcore likes to get medieval in his spare time. Klint Kanopka, the bass player from Reign Supreme, is a high school physics teacher. Veteran hardcore singer Dan Yemin of Paint It Black is also a psychologist. The guys from Southwork bought a used school bus and turned it into their touring vehicle. Then it died. Love him or hate him, Yusuf Muhammad brings the big talent to Philly and sells out venues.
MODERN BROPAR Mattitude hangs with the guys from the pro-wrestling themed hardcore band Eat The Turnbuckle.
FOOD THAT ROCKS Beau Monde serves delicious crĂŞpes downstairs and good times upstairs at L'Etage. Plus, we present five other places near South Street to eat before or after a show.
UNUSUAL APPROACH Kurt Hunte talks about art and life with Ben Woodward, co-founder of Space 1026, the creative community/gallery/studio/party spot in Chinatown.
COVER PHOTO: Joe McKay (aka Joe Hardcore), by Jeff Fusco. BACK COVER: Southwork, by Kate Harrold. CONTENTS PAGE: (top to bottom) Rainbow Destroyer, by Megan Matuzak. Joe McKay, by Jeff Fusco. Yusuf Muhammad, by Michael Bucher. Eat the Turnbuckle, by G.W. Miller III. JUMPphilly.com
publisher G.W. MILLER III managing editor CHRIS MALO deputy editors BETH ANN DOWNEY, NIKKI VOLPICELLI senior staff SOFIYA BALLIN, KELSEY DOENGES, MEGAN MATUZAK, BRANDEE NICHOLS, KEVIN STAIRIKER contributors SEBASTIAN ADE, NAVEED AHSAN, RACHEL BARRISH, TIMOTHY BECKER, BRITTNEY BOWERS, MICHAEL BUCHER, CARY CARR, ASHLEY COLEMAN, ANEESAH COLEY, CHESNEY DAVIS, GRACE DICKINSON, MATTHEW EMMERICH, JESSICA FLYNN, JEFF FUSCO, JESSICA GRIFFIN, ASHLEY HALL, KATE HARROLD, KURT HUNTE, GRETA IVERSON, MORGAN JAMES, GABRIELLE LAVIN, RICK KAUFFMAN, KIM MAIALETTI, NIESHA MILLER, TIESHA MILLER, BRENDAN MENAPACE, ANDREW MENDELSON, CAROLINE NEWTON, ED NEWTON, ELIZABETH PRICE, ABIGAIL REIMOLD, DANA RICCI, MARIE ALYSE RODRIGUEZ, CHAD SIMS, JENNA SPITZ, THAD SUZENSKI, BRITTANY THOMAS, RYAN TREITEL, ZAKEE VAUGHN, BRYAN WALLACE, BRIAN WILENSKY, BREE WOOD chief copy editor AARON JOLLAY designer KATE BODNAR WE PRINT 10,000 FULL-COLOR ISSUES FOUR TIMES PER YEAR, IN MARCH, JUNE, SEPTEMBER AND NOVEMBER. WE DISTRIBUTE THEM FREE AT PHILLY AREA MUSIC VENUES, STUDIOS, RESTAURANTS, RECORD SHOPS, BARS, CLOTHING BOUTIQUES, GYMS, BOOK STORES, COFFEE SHOPS, UNIVERSITIES, CLUBS AND OTHER PLACES WHERE MUSIC LOVERS HANG OUT. IF YOU WANT MAGS AT YOUR LOCATION, EMAIL US AT JUMPPHILLY@GMAIL.COM. JUMP is an independent magazine published by Mookieland Inc. The parent company is named after a dog. That's how corporate we are (we're not). This is a full-on, DIY community effort. If you want to get involved, if you have story ideas or if you just have something to say, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find us on online at jumpphilly.com or facebook.com/jumpphilly. Follow us on twitter - @jumpphilly. We really need advertisers. Advertising money allows us to print this magazine and tell stories about the awesome people doing awesome stuff in Philly. By supporting JUMP, you are supporting the local music scene. Philly rocks. Spread the word. JUMPphilly.com
Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone
A few weeks back, I attended an all-afternoon hip-hop showcase at Villa on North Broad Street. Hosted by Mont Brown of The Astronauts, the event offered stage time and a large audience to dozens of young Philly artists. I watched for hours as performers, like Tiani Victoria (below, left), sauntered around the stage with raw emotion and an amazing level of confidence. For me, it was a scouting adventure. I wanted to be there so I could see what kind of talent is brewing in Philly. I got a lot of odd looks â€” I was one of the few white-ish people in the crowd (I'm actually half white and half Japanese). A few days later, I listened as singer-songwriter Birdie Busch performed a gentle, experimental set at PhilaMOCA. The small, polite crowd sat motionless as Birdie (center) made intriguing sounds with a variety of instruments. A couple days after that, I saw the record release show for Dave Hartley's side project, Nightlands. Dave (right), who plays bass for The War on Drugs, drew a healthy crowd of boys with beards and the girls who love them. I'm not a hip-hopper nor a folk-enthusiast. I can't grow a beard. I don't belong to any scene and at the age of 42, I don't really blend in anywhere.
It's safe to say, I was out of my comfort zone at every one of these shows, and at most shows I attend anymore. And that's probably what makes this whole music magazine adventure so much fun. I'm forced to live well beyond my own little world. In JUMP, we strive to show off all the amazing things that are happening amongst creative Philadelphians connected to music. We aren't experts by any means and we certainly aren't knowledgeable about every aspect. So we try to tap into experts from various genres, like our cover boy, Joe McKay, aka Joe Hardcore, the man behind the This is Hardcore festival. With this issue, we also introduce three new editors, each of whom brings their own expertise. Chris Malo was a founder and editor of Foundation, a mag that documented hip-hop mixtapes. Beth Ann Downey appreciates poppunk and anything with meaningful lyrics that energizes crowds. And Nikki Volpicelli, who is always on the lookout for exciting new sounds, finding it where indie music pushes boundaries and verges on experimental. We try to experience a lot of different stuff but we can't get to it all. And that's why we need your help. Tell us about interesting artists or acts, new venues, behind-the-scenes folks or anything else. Email story suggestions to us at email@example.com. And venture beyond your comfort zone when listening to music. You might be amazed at what you find out there. - G.W. Miller III
INSIDE: STEPH POCKETS p. 8 / ILLVIBE COLLECTIVE p. 10 / TRUE GOLD p. 13 / JONATHAN LOW p. 14 / KYLE JOHNSON p. 15 /
The JUMP Off
ROOF DOCTOR p. 15 / GEARING UP p. 16 / RYSHON JONES p. 16 / BELGRADE p.17 / JACKIE PAPER p. 18 / RAINBOW DESTROYER p. 19 / DRGN KING p. 20 / HEYWARD HOWKINS p. 21 /
Photo by Michael Bucher.
LAURIN TALESE p. 23 / NIGEL RICHARDS p. 23
Philly's Export To Japan Philly rapper Steph Pockets found success in the Far East. Around here, Steph Pockets might just be another smiling face on the block and or a big name to a select crowd. But in the Far East, she’s no small-town celebrity. She broke out in Japan in 2004 with her biggest song to date, “My Crew Deep,” which was recorded in 1999. She has since toured up and down the island and sold countless records there. Steph knew she was bound to pursue a rap career ever since she was a child growing up in West Philly. “I brought Will Smith to career day in fifth grade,” says Steph, noting that this was shortly after Smith’s first album dropped. “That was around the time I knew I wanted to be a rapper. When I told everyone at school, they laughed. Everyone else was bringing in doctors and lawyers but my family didn’t know anyone like that. Will Smith was living on my block at the time so I asked him. So when I brought him in everyone thought I was cool.” “My Crew Deep” came out on a record of the same name and Steph went on to produce some tunes for Japanese pop star AI. Steph generously gave the same hook to AI for her version after Steph’s was starting to blow up from her original release. Steph’s following album, Flowers, is what really lit the fuse for her in Japan though. It sold 30,000 copies in the first week. According to Steph, for an American artist to sell around 2,000 copies in Japan was considered good at the time. Steph has written songs half in English, half in Japanese, but label pressure kept those tracks from being released for being “too Japanese.” She now raps mostly in English, the liner notes of her albums include the
lyrics in both languages so speakers of either tongue can rap along at her live shows. Most of her material is feel-good and upbeat but her deepest connections with fans are made when she’s a bit more serious. “They latched on to me from the beginning because I was rapping about things they’re not allowed to speak of,” Steph says of her Japanese fans. “It’s frowned upon over there to show weakness or cry. But when I rap about being sad, it’s just what I’m feeling. I think they needed to hear that.” She’s done numerous tours up and down Japan, as recently as last year, hitting every giant arena and major city. But she also shows love for the smaller venues, where she gets to interact with fans more easily, even despite the communication barrier. “It’s funny when people come backstage to meet me,” she says. “I see them rapping along in the crowd but usually they can’t speak English so we don’t talk when we meet. I make sure to use a lot of body language when I perform so those who can’t understand have an idea what I’m saying.” Steph says there’s just as much of an independent music scene in Japan as there is in America. But she never understands why other big artists in Japan won’t travel here. Similarly, when she tells her Philly friends about her Japanese successes, they usually reply, “Then I’m going to put my music out in Japan so I can make it big.” She insists it’s not that simple. Their society is so into fashion, Steph says, that Japanese pop stars have to stay up on it much more. Steph has managed to avoid that because she’s an American artist. Sean Lennon is producing Steph’s next record, which he wants to release in America. That doesn’t sound like it’s her priority. “I don’t perform around here much because there’s so much talent here that I’d rather give that opportunity to them,” Steph says. “Too many artists don’t get to play in other countries like I’ve been lucky to do.” - Brian Wilensky
Photo by Michael Bucher.
The JUMP Off
Photo by G.W. Miller III.
Navigating Mean Streets Mean Streets makes retro-sounding power pop that makes the ladies dance. Walking into the cluttered basement practice space where Mean Streets magic happens is not unlike the band’s sound — a bit perplexing at first but nothing short of endearing. There’s the ’70s-era green and orange carpet and paint, a dusty piñata, random football memorabilia, broken lamps and a baby doll locked in a cage. During practices, full-fury punk rock bass and drums kick in with the power to pin anyone to the back of their chair and it’s not just from the noise. The band is not that kind of obnoxiously amplified punk. They are more sanguine, and steady — even as a three piece. Mean Streets is inspired by everything from early ’80s British power pop groups like The Records and The Incredible Kidda Band to ’70s glam rock from The Sweet to Slade, all the way back to the vocal harmonies of the ’50s. They rock what they call “garagey, mod, glam pop.” The composition is never quite simple but never pretentious, and always respectably complicated for power pop, the most official genre to stick these guys in.
STREET TEAM: (L to R): Mick Coburn, Andy Mehos and Bill Coburn with their lady fans. Power pop is not something you hear often in Philly, where most of our punk is hardcore. Leaning more toward traditional punk makes Mean Streets somewhat the black sheep of the scene here. That doesn’t mean they don't have a crew of cutie pies, badass babes, greasers and bikers following them around though. The catchy songs are ridiculously easy to sing-along, dance and have a good time to. Mean Streets is the kind of band your mainstreamer parents might say sounds like Green Day. That would be like telling a modern teen that Nickelback sounds like Motorhead. “I’m not going to say we sound nothing like Green Day,” says guitarist Andy Mehos. “We sound a little bit like them, I guess, but just because people don’t know where else to cubbyhole us.” Mean Streets blends instrumentals that are
tight as hell, pitch-perfect harmonies that are creative and energetic, and killer bass lines. Despite the old-school influence, they have a modern, even timeless feel to them. “We’d be stupid if we literally sat down and said, ‘Let’s play power pop!’” Mehos jokes, noting that the genre may have the least number of fans. “It’s kind of half like a natural evolution. We can’t help but have some of our influences creep into what we play.” “Over the years we’ve gotten a little more efficient and focused,” adds singer and bassist Bill Coburn. “We had to aim toward a general style of music. It was pretty organic though.” The band went through various transitions over their six year history, eventually leading to the current group. They originated with just Mehos and Nick Kulp of Far Out Fangtooth playing guitars. The band’s most recent album, Rarities Volume 1, was self-released in February on limited edition tri-colored vinyl. It’s the first album they've released since Re-Wired in 2010, with a slightly different lineup. They now feature Coburn, Mehos and Mick Coburn, Bill’s brother, on drums. “The songs are a little more stripped down, a little tighter-sounding,” says Mehos. “We tried to strike a balance between trying to sound really punchy and energetic and also be melodic, and try to write stuff people remember.” - Brittany Thomas
The Brotherhood of DJs
Throwing a good party requires DJs who see everything and then react to the crowd, as the legendary, prize-winning mixologists from the Illvibe Collective explain. Portrait by Marie Alyse Rodriguez. Tucked away in a parking garage in the heart of West Philly, in a living room-sized studio next to the rehearsal space of a thrash-metal band, you’ll find the headquarters of some of Philly’s best party people. The Illvibe Collective DJ crew members have been throwing parties around the city since 2000, selling out venues and winning competitions, like the Red Bull Public Assembly competition over the winter. They topped local legends from Mad Decent and the 10
Shakedown crew. “We love music so much, we treat it delicately,” says DJ Statik, aka Mr. Sonny James. When they run the party, they plan it as an all-nighter. They build up the energy in the audience over time, moving from DJ to DJ, dropping just the right tracks at just the right moment and never, ever playing the same song twice in one night. That’s lazy. They react to the guy bobbing his head while talking to a young lady by the bar, or to the pack of people on the
dance floor who start getting wild. “When we’re DJing, we’re watching everything,” Sonny says. “It’s a psychological thing as much as anything.” Everybody knows the popular radio bangers of the moment. The Illvibe DJs try to find just the right moment to play them, and not waste that momentum. It’s a formula they started when Sonny, Panek and Phillee Blunt met while working on the radio station at Philadelphia University in the late ’90s. “We all had a common love of hip-hop and just being a DJ,” says Panek. They started spinning at college parties together. There was always a foundation of hip-hop but they’d blend in Prince or funk tracks. There was an appreciation for all sorts of music and they dropped random stuff in facebook.com/JUMPphilly
Public Assembly party photos by G.W. Miller III.
their mixes. “There weren’t a lot of DJs who rocked like us,” says Sonny. “We play party records,” says Lil Dave, who, along with Skipmode, joined the original trio shortly after the group formed. “But we don’t rely on top 10 records,” Panek adds. “We have more of a musicconnoisseur mindset.” “It’s like a B-side mentality,” Sonny continues. The youngest member of the crew, West Philly native DJ PHSH, 24, joined in 2011. “He’s like our age but trapped in a young man’s body,” Panek jokes. JUMPphilly.com
Lil Dave listened to PHSH spinning at Medusa Lounge one night and they became friends. Dave invited PHSH to warm up the crowd at The Arts Garage for an Illvibe party shortly afterward. “I remember how excited I was the first time you guys gave me a shoutout,” says PHSH. “I was gassed.” They ran in the same circles for so long that PHSH just eased his way into the Illvibe family. “We didn’t need anybody,” Skipmode says. “It was organic.” “It was, like, the obvious thing,” says Panek. They do everything themselves – book events, create their own artwork, design posters,
CLUB PSYCHOLOGISTS: (clockwise from top left) Lil Dave, Skipmode, DJ PHSH, Statik aka Mr. Sonny James and Panek in their West Philly studio. Talib Kweli performing at Illvibe's winning Public Assembly party at The Blockley. Lil Dave, DJ PHSH and Sonny James on stage. The jam-packed crowd at their Public Assembly party danced all night. master, burn and package CDs, promote shows, etc. In the spring, the Illvibe Collective will drop an album of remixes of their 2011 debut album, All Together Now. They meet in their bunker every Monday and they operate like a family. In fact, Phillee, who has since moved back to his native North Jersey, is the godfather of Sonny’s kid. “I’d take a bullet for anyone of these guys,” Sonny says. - G.W. Miller III 11
The JUMP Off Photo by Timothy Becker.
Shining In The Studio ...
Photo by Michael Bucher.
... But raw and aggressive live, the psych-rockers from True Gold always entertain.
True Gold is a South Philadelphia-based, way the shoegazey bridge leads itself into the space-gazing, fuzz-rocker band unafraid of resonating. “Final Fantasy” is about a personal putting in the studio time and stage hours to triumph Kappeler had and the musical buildup get the sound they want and their message as the song progresses says exactly that. And across just right. that’s what True Gold’s focus is on. Guitarist and singer Michael Kappeler works “The song’s story isn’t as important, as at Swarthmore College, which is what gave the long as the feeling matches its presentation,” band the opportunity to record a batch of songs Kappeler says. “I’m not delusional enough at the school’s to think anyone radio station, would want to WSRN. The hear about what band recorded I am actually tracks for their feeling.” forthcoming LP The way the themselves. members of True “It’s an Gold present interesting themselves live process recording is set apart from it yourself,” what is found Kappeler says. “At on recordings. times you have to Drummer Joe separate yourself Idell says vocals from the project have always and not get been more of hyper-focused an auxiliary on very minute instrument details. That can and more of a draw it out. You garnish. Which start trying to fix is why Kappeler things that don’t and bassist Matt need to be.” Taylor are more Kappeler inclined to sing describes the with a bit more vocals from aggression live, that session as not worrying being worked about nailing onto the record all of Kappeler’s in sweatshop delicately layered ALWAYS GOLDEN: (clockwise from top left) Matt conditions. harmonies. Taylor, Michael Kappeler, Joe Idell and Danny Tarng. When he was When it came recording them, he wouldn’t stop until he had time to perfect their songs to record them, they exactly what he was looking for. But that sort simply decided to slow them down. According of obsessive persistence is what has made his to Idell, three songs that will appear on their vocal contribution spot-on. He also showcases forthcoming release, expected to hit the streets an unexpectedly high register on the songs in April, were simply slowed down from the available on True Gold’s Bandcamp page. original tempo they were written at to find the “There’s a juxtaposition of the songs’ vocals way the songs sound best. too,” he says about his light-as-a-feather “Slowing them down really invigorated them,” vocals paired the the songs’ heavier guitar riffs. Idell says. Slower tempos allow the music to “When there are parts with heavier guitars, breath more, especially in front of crowds. the songs have a chance to go in a completely Guitarist Danny Tarng says of his bandmates, different direction when the vocals are a bit “It feels great to get lost in what they’re doing different. It’s just the way they came out and and lock in with each other.” the way I feel most comfortable singing.” The band isn’t afraid to extend some of the The contrast between Kappeler’s singing and open-ended parts of their songs but they the composition of their music is apparent. The forewarn that they are not a jam band. orbital guitar of “Undulate,” which Kappeler True Gold may not be completely polished says is about encountering something that is live but when it comes to their records, they not okay with you personally but accepting it will not hesitate — in fact, will not stop — until and doing something different, matches the it’s gleaming just right. - Brian Wilensky
DJ On Wheels Meet DJ Grandpa, the NoLibs skateshop owner who DJs at The 700 on the side. Diplo, Cosmo Baker, Low Budget and many other notable DJs have been regulars in the DJ booth at The 700 Club in Northern Liberties. Now, those bouncin’ house party-esque dance soirees on Friday nights are the product of another DJ, Grandpa. Grandpa, aka Jeremy Wieland, is a 30-something father of two who also owns Exit Skateshop, located about one block away. In the ’80s, skateboarding was everywhere. As an impressionable sponge of a kid, Wieland soaked it all up. He would sneak away from his house in the Philly suburbs and take the train down to Center City to skate the infamous LOVE Park. After Philly cracked down on skateboarding in the ’90s, Wieland started skating in New York with a bunch of friends, including DJ Roctakon. As a former breakdancer and club-frequenter (even when he was too young to be at the clubs), Wieland was familiar with DJing. When he got a little older, he realized he wanted to be the guy who makes people dance, so he began DJing house parties himself. His passions for skating and making music would vie for his attention from there on out. Wieland always planned to one day open a skateshop because he worked in one for so long. Before entering into the business himself, Wieland worked in New York at a skateshop called Autumn. When Autumn closed and Wieland’s fiancée was about to have their first baby, he came home to Philly, got his hair cut and, by some odd alignment of the stars, fell into a business deal with Exit’s previous owner. “I had mentioned to him once, ‘Hey, why don’t I partner with you? I’m moving back to Philly. I think it would be a cool thing,’” explains Wieland. “He thought about it, came back and let me know, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ I became a partner just around February last year.” Although Weiland still DJs in New York City to make ends meet, Friday nights at The 700 club are his favorite gigs. “No one gives a shit,” he says. “You can play whatever you want. In New York, you’re basically there to cater to people who are buying bottles. If people want to hear ‘Call Me Maybe,’ you’re gonna play it." - Caroline Newton 13
Photo by G.W. Miller III.
The JUMP Off
The Low Key Optimist Producer Jonathan Low has found a sweet spot and good vibes working in Fishtown.
onathan Low, the more-often-than-not mustached producer and engineer for Miner Street Studios in Fishtown, sips on a Kenzinger at Johnny Brenda’s while waiting for a Weathervane Music benefit show to kick off upstairs. He’ll run sound for Twin Sister, Steven A. Clark and Ava Luna — not a bad way to spend his one night home from a two-month stint in New York, where he's working with The National on their new record and living in guitarist Aaron Dessner’s house. Usually, Low can be seen somewhere in Fishtown day in and day out. It’s the place he chose as his professional home, the heart of the now bursting-at-the-seams local music scene. Those who see him but don’t know the small, quiet and usually smiling Low might not expect him to be responsible for some of the biggest, best and most badass sounds coming out of the city. “Philly was a really good place to do this because the music community is really supportive,” he says between sips of beer. “Fishtown is a really good environment to collaborate, and just to live. I feel like it was good timing when I started doing this with a lot of Philadelphia bands that were starting to do well, or be a little bit more active. I kind of was lucky jumping into the scene at the right time.”
umping into the scene as a producer rather than a performer wasn’t an easy decision for Low. He’s played piano since age 5, and he considered going to college for a degree that would qualify him to work on the other side of the soundboard. But he graduated from Drexel’s music industry program in 2008, and his first big post-college break was working on the first Hoots and Hellmouth record. “That’s how I ended up kind of working out of Miner Street, working with Brian McTear,” Low recalls. “I was an assistant on the record while they (Hoots and Hellmouth) were on 14
MAD Dragon, and then they finished the record here in Fishtown at the studio. They were kind of one of my first gateways into a lot of Philly music, a lot of Philly bands.” Most of Low’s career to date has been as an engineer and mixer but he has been producing a lot more in the past year for the likes of Restorations, Bleeding Rainbow and The National Rifle. Low says engineering and mixing is easier than producing because it’s a much more defined role. “A producer’s role is always changing depending on the record, the band, the environment,” Low says. “It’s a very broad term, and I feel like that’s something that usually takes a little bit more time and experience to become a really good producer, a really good outside force that’s driving things in the right direction. On stuff that I have produced, I usually am engineering it and mixing it at the same time. I think that’s really interesting too because you kind of see the entire process throughout. It’s just total control of a lot of things and you can either make it amazing because you have all of that total control or it can be incredibly hard.” Low recognizes that a producer’s role comes with a lot of responsibility. It’s not necessarily pressure that he feels but the desire to arrive at an end result that everyone can be proud of. “That’s kind of the job of the producer as well — to represent something in a way that it should be represented, and have a similar vision to the artist and where that should go,” he says.
ow engineers and mixes most of the Shaking Through sessions for Weathervane Music, a non-profit
organization that provides free recording time for one song and creates videos for new artists over a two-day period. Low produced the episodes that featured Ava Luna and Auctioneer. He says the in-depth documentation and rapid workflow of a Shaking Through session makes for an intense but artistically inspiring environment. “Having those two days to do this completed song is completely out of context of making a record,” he says. “On a record you could be cutting your basic tracks for, like, a week and you don’t know how even one song is sounding yet. “I think that’s why Shaking Through songs come out so incredibly. Everything is so fast. Everything works really well.”
ight streams from the enormous windows of Miner Street Studios and that light usually becomes a central character in any Shaking Through video. That same Fishtown sunshine makes Low eternally grateful for the environment he works in, the musicians and people he’s met and the life he’s built. No wonder he’s so smiley all the time. “It’s a really positive place, it’s a really positive environment,” Low says. “Everyone that I ever worked with there is just super great as people. Some of the greatest people I’ve ever met are just the bands I end up working with. I rarely ever have a very bad experience.” A lot of people talk about the music industry as a dark place, especially today in such an uncertain time for the industry. But not Low. “I feel like I’ve been really lucky in not really seeing all that much of it, not seeing that side of it,” he says. - Beth Ann Downey facebook.com/JUMPphilly
After working with major artists at legendary studios, Kyle "Slick" Johnson set up shop (and found a home) in Philadelphia. He’s worked on albums by indie and punk heavies like Wavves, Modest Mouse and The Hives. He produced the first Cymbals Eats Guitars record while in New York City in 2008. Dennis Herring of Mississippi’s Sweet Tea Studio couldn’t get enough of him, yet Kyle “Slick” Johnson landed here in our own backyard. Thanks to his tireless drive and handyman skills, Johnson’s Fancy Time Studio was born in Kensington and it’s reputation is spreading like some kind of necessary musical virus. “At first, it was just letting people know that I was here and that I wanted to work on Philly bands,” Johnson says, adding that working on the first Creepoid record helped get his name out there locally. “I made no money on it and tried to make it as good as I could.” Johnson grew up about as punk as anyone could be in Vermont, liberty spikes and all. As a teenager, he wrangled some cassette recorders and began his illustrious career as a sound engineer with the support of his mother, a school music teacher. After high school, he knew that he had
Prescription For Happiness Roof Doctor starts with sad lyrics but their music is joyous and their shows are fun. Mark Harper is a sad man. Well, he used to be. Listening to the songs that comprise I Am Going To Die, the first album from Harper and his band, Roof Doctor, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the anguish of the lyrics and the quiet confidence of the man singing them. Though depressing subject matter can be a hard bridge to cross for some, the sadness stops at the lyrics for Roof Doctor. Joined by compatriots Alex Stackhouse on guitar, Chet Williams on saxophone, Sean Reilly on bass and Kevin Pascall on drums, Harper weaves his weariness with the world throughout pulsating bass, Dick Dale-like guitar riffs and some truly joyous sounding saxophone. I Am Going To Die was released last summer. Roof Doctor is already well on its way to a sophomore release, tentatively entitled Mobile JUMPphilly.com
Freedom Home. “We’re mapping out the 15 songs now and it’s looking like half will be sad but the other half will be happy,” Harper says with a laugh. “And I’m a little bit better at guitar now.” Despite the word “folk” showing up three times in their official Bandcamp genre tagging (alongside “indie jam” and “BruceSpringsteen-emocore”), Roof Doctor’s music more resembles that of a secretly steady rock ‘n’ roll band, with far more soaring melodies per chord than most bands in the area. Their refusal to adhere to strict genre rules allows them to do whatever they want, whether it be a warped barbershop quartet ode to self-loathing (“Soda Jerk”) or a bouncy strummer lamenting the hardships of happiness (“Freedom”). Roof Doctor is what happens when you put five music nerds with instruments in a room together. There is a palpable energy between them, as each one plays off the other, both musically and verbally. “Don’t let me lose my mojo, man!”Harper shouts to Pascall, the appointed mojo-keeper. The band was born out of a high school kinship between Harper and Stackhouse, when they played in bands with names like Rock of
Photo by Abigail Reimold.
Photo by Megan Matuzak.
Fancy Time in Kensington
to get the hell out of Dodge. In 1999, he shipped off to Full Sail University in Florida. After school, Johnson found a job as an assistant in New York, working for Joe Blaney of Joe’s Music Studio, best known for mixing “Radio Clash” and recording Combat Rock, as well as various tracks for Prince and Keith Richards. “I learned more in the first week of assisting Joe than I did the entire time I was in school,” Johnson states. “In school, you learn theory after theory. When you are assisting, you learn application and why any of those theories you learned matter, and how to use them, and how not to use them. How to use them for good and for evil.” Joe’s Music Studio was where Johnson met Herring, who runs Sweet Tea Studio in Oxford, Mississippi. Impressed by Johnson’s speed and skill, Herring thought of him when he was called to do his second Modest Mouse record in 2006. Johnson went on to work with The Hives in 2007, and work on a release for Pitchfork darlings Wavves in 2010. He posted up in Mississippi for months at a time but, due to the strain it put on his personal life, in 2009 Johnson decided to make it in Philly. When Johnson launched Fancy Time Studio in 2010, it started as a simple room nestled amongst other art workspaces in the basement of a warehouse. Creepoid was the first Philly band to record in the studio. Johnson then acquired the room next to him, cut a window between them, insulated and soundproofed the studio himself. Since the expansion, Slutever, The Extraordinaires and Cold Fronts have worked with Johnson at Fancy Time. Other bands from New York and across the country have made a special trip to Philly to work with Johnson. “I really like Philly, I like how you can have a band here,” Johnson says. “In New York, it’s this constant struggle to make enough money at your job to afford to be in a band.” He is here to stay, which is something local bands and music lovers can be thankful for. “I go in through a basement door, into this dark little cave and I press knobs and listen to speakers and obsess over the way shit sounds all day long,” Johnson says. “That’s what I do. I don’t see the sun, I don’t sleep enough, I drink lots of coffee and I don’t exercise. And sometimes I eat really crappy food. So I’m going to turn into this little troll of a person if I keep doing this, I’m going to have moss growing on me. But that’s all right. Philly has been good to me so far.” - Megan Matuzak
the Potato and Illuminati Slumber Party. Roof Doctor was assembled fully in early 2012 to flesh out songs that Harper had written, some of which were released on a solo EP the year earlier. Since the release of I Am Going to Die, the band has played in basements, living rooms, churches and, quite often, their own home, Maggot House. Unfortunately for those who have yet to witness the loud and undeniably fun experience of seeing Roof Doctor in a live setting, the band will be scaling back on live shows in Philly as work progresses on Mobile Freedom Home. “We’re looking to play only once or twice a month until the record gets done,” Harper says. - Kevin Stairiker 15
Photo by Urszula Pruchniewska.
The Musician As Motivator Folk musician Dana Fiero of the Gearing Up program, uses bicycles to help female addicts and ex-cons recover and lead healthier lives. Dana Fiero knows a thing or two about music. She has a bachelor’s degree in vocal music from Westminster Choir College and she teaches vocals, piano and oboe. She is an accomplished musician, playing folk rock with da(Y)ma and Dana and The Evergreens. But when she’s not folk-rocking out, Fiero is a team leader at Gearing Up, a non-profit, urban cycling program for women in transition from substance abuse or incarceration. “These women come from trying backgrounds,” says Fiero. “Fitness is important to anybody’s well-being. This gives them another tool for their recovery.” Since 2011, Fiero has been leading Gearing Up rides out of CHANCES, an outpatient substance abuse treatment center for women in Center City. “It was something I was interested in,” says Fiero. “I have alcohol and drug issues in the family and I was already an urban cyclist, so it made sense.” Gearing Up aims to teach women recovering from substance abuse the basics of urban cycling, including bicycle maintenance. They practice riding around the city. Once a participant has done 100 miles with the program, she is rewarded with her own bicycle. Neya Crawford, 24, started riding with Gearing Up in April 2012 and quickly made it to 100 miles and her own bike. “I love riding and I couldn’t afford a bike, so I really appreciate it,” she says. But Gearing Up is about more than just getting a free bike. “My goal is mainly to have fun, make friends
and encourage people,” says Crawford. “That’s my never-ending goal. The bike is a bonus.” Usually the rides are led outside, to take advantage of fresh air and sunshine. During the winter, the women do indoor spinning, using stands to make their bicycles stationary. The cycling room at CHANCES is covered in motivational posters and feelings charts. The participants set up bicycles in a circle. Fiero starts by asking each woman to let go of something negative that she’s feeling, whether it be anger at her partner or drug temptations. Then the cycling begins. Fiero leads the class at a fast pace, varying the tempo and incorporating arm exercises and gear changes. The women chat casually, until they’re too huffy and puffy to say a word. At the end of the session, the women are asked about something positive they can share. “My positive thing is that I’ve lost seven pounds,” says Donna Price proudly. The 48-year-old Price gained a cycling certificate while in the prison system and has been riding with Fiero since November
2012. Gearing Up has made her feel better physically and emotionally and helped her stay on the healthy way of life. Becoming physically healthier is a common goal for the women in the program. “In prison, the women are fed the same amount of calories as men,” says Fiero. “So they come out with weight gain and a loss of self-esteem.” The program helps them shed the extra weight and also allows them to motivate others in similar situations. There are also psychological benefits that arise from the positive social interactions at Gearing Up. Fiero says that one of the best things about her job is the relationship she builds with her “ladies,” and leaving an impact on people in a similar way to playing music. “Music has always been a way for me to inspire others,” Fiero says. “There’s nothing I love more than when someone comes up to me after a show and tells me that something I wrote really hit home for them. Gearing Up has the same effect.” - Urszula Pruchniewska Photo by Tiesha Miller.
Rap To Make You Think Ryshon Jones is a 21-year-old rapper who defies being labeled. Ryshon Jones’ music is not what many would expect to hear from a kid in Philly. The 21-year-old draws from personal experiences, artistic inspirations and trickery to paint vivid pictures and tell dynamic stories. Hailing from North Philadelphia, Jones became interested in music when he was 8-years-old while listening to the tunes that bounced off the windows of his father’s car. “As a kid,” he says, “my mom used to tell me that I would always sing any song that came on the radio when I was in a car seat.” His first few bars were recorded on a tape recorder over a beat tape his cousin stole from a car he broke into. “We were playing around with it and just rapping raps just to have fun,” he says. “But it always stuck with me.” As a child, Jones tinkered with the idea of making music professionally 16
but he wouldn’t try to seriously perfect his craft until he attended Northeast High School. The 6-foot-4-inch rapper describes his sound as a reflection of facebook.com/JUMPphilly
The JUMP Off Photo by Michael Bucher.
Finding The Right Balance The members of Belgrade have been in other bands. Now they're trying something new. What makes Philadelphia different from cities larger and denser, or from those smaller and sparser, is that our artists stay here, stick with their friends and grow from their home as much as their home grows from them. Belgrade, a shoegazing indie rock band, is a shining example of that. “Our band would have never happened without the locality and proximity of Philadelphia,” says guitarist Matt Hanemann. “We were able to call on people who were really good musicians to build this group.” It wasn’t a stretch to find able-bodied and accomplished musicians to complete the band. In fact, they felt as though the long list of possibilities was overwhelming. Drummer Jeff Meyers, for example, has been a part of 27 different bands. “Does that make me a whore?” he jokes. Belgrade, a band Hanemann and Meyers describe as consisting of “a bunch of posthardcore dudes,” is nothing like the thrashy, violent music they grew up on. Their sound is reminiscent of the post-punk and indie rock that came out of the UK starting in the late ’70s with Joy Division, the ’80s with The Cure and My Bloody Valentine, or more recently in the 2000s with British Sea Power. “I wanted to show people that we see past ourselves and release music and create something they don’t expect,” Hanemann says. “Playing aggressive music is fun but I wanted to be challenged by being more restrained.” By embracing the softness, Belgrade aims to create music that is more poignant. They are instrumentally focused, backed by veteran musicians — bassist Derek Zglenski, who
PERECT BALANCE: (left to right) Belgrade members Derek Zglenski, Jeff Meyers, Mike McNelis, Jason Bucci and Matt Hanemann chilling after a show. Hanemann calls “a Swiss Army knife” who “can play anything we need him to play,” and second guitarist, Jason Bucci. The vocals of singer Mike McNelis, formerly of New Jersey’s The Progress, is appropriated into the music rather than being the focal point. “We’re trying to make a sound that pushes dynamics,” Meyers explains. “There are moments we get loud but it’s to make those soft moments more impactful.” “Vocals make the music much more powerful by connecting to the people,” Hanemann adds. “Mike has a really unique voice which is, in a way, retro sounding.” Their aim for now is to stick close to home and create the music they want to make. “When you’re younger and you have that whole notion, that dream of being a big artist, you want to be like Dave Grohl,” Meyers says. “But do I actually want to be like him? I want what I write to speak for itself, and if 20 people like it, that’s awesome.” Hanemann, who works full-time as a graphic
everything his mind has taken in. A fan favorite is the song “Date with Doubt,” in which he compares doubt to a girl. The slow-tempo ballad was produced over a Lykke Li sample and flooded with 808s. “I get song ideas from anything, like talking, seeing something on TV or somebody saying something to me,” he says. “A lot of songs that I made, I sit back and think, ‘Wow, this song came from a small conversation.’ It can come from anything.” He shies away from being labeled, especially the term emo, which he often hears because of his realistic rhymes devoid of common rap themes of sex, drugs or partying. “I think that the term emo doesn’t exist,” he says. “Every song is an emotion. So if you think about it, every song is an emo song because, whether it’s a happy song or whatever, that’s how somebody was feeling at that time.” Last year, Jones released the project Basqui, which was inspired by the enigmatic, ’70s-era New York City artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat. “When I did that whole mixtape, I knew about him, but I got put on in a more serious way,” he says. “I had seen a deep connection between me JUMPphilly.com
designer and creative director, agrees. “I finally have found a balance between my career and my passion,” he says. “If no one cares ever (about the music), I would never care. I’m doing what I love to do.” He also creates the album cover artwork and web design for all the bands he’s in. “When I’m feeling stale visually, it sometimes makes it hard to write music,” Hanemann explains. “But I’ll often inspire myself with a visual feeling and try to keep that feeling going. And music is my go-to outlet.” Belgrade will debut their first LP on April 26 and celebrate with a release show at Kung Fu Necktie. They haven’t made any plans to tour in support of the album. “Being in a band touring the county is great but it’s also total shit at the same time,” says Meyers. “I spent three years of my life traveling, being on the road. I was totally disconnected from what’s important to me. I like being home. I like seeing my friends.” - Rick Kauffman
and him. Even down to how we talk.” The first stage Jones ever graced was a talent show in West Philadelphia when he was 14-years-old. He didn’t win but since then, Jones has performed in venues across the city including The Blockley as part of the a Veteran Freshman events, the TLA, the Legendary Dobbs, Sole Control and Wall Street International. In 2012, Jones performed at South by Southwest, where he got to meet noteworthy producer 9th Wonder. In January, Jones dropped his latest project, In Theory. Regardless of how you want to label his music, he is confident the project is nothing like anything he previously created. In his earlier projects, for example, the songs were composed without hooks. “You can hear the growth,” he says of his new tracks. “I feel like it’s more mature and touches on things a lot of people are going through now.” His drive and dedicated fan base is what keeps Jones moving with his dream of pursing music. But his artistic interests don’t stop there. “I want to write books and get into ghostwriting for other people,” he says. “I want to write scripts. Anything that makes somebody think.” - Niesha Miller 17
Photo by Ryan Treitel.
Psychedelic Pop In Kensington Joshua Dowell's longtime project, Jackie Paper, now has a steady lineup and they're producing trippy new music. Over the last few years, our fine city has seen a resurgence of the reverb-driven genre known as psychedelic music. One of those to ignite the flame is multiinstrumentalist and songwriter, Joshua Dowell. And unless you are allergic to first-rate rock ‘n’ roll, Dowell’s voice, backed by a thick coat of gritty instrumentation in his band Jackie Paper, will be received merrily. Dowell is the chairman and voice of the Kensington-based psych garage band, which is named after the character from the Leonard Lipton poem made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary’s hit song in 1963. “Puff, the Magic Dragon shows up and traces Jackie Draper,” Dowell explains. “He picks up the tracing and names it Jackie Paper. They then travel off to the town of Honalee. When they get there, it’s a magical land where he learns life lessons.” Dowell grew up in an environment that any musician would covet. When he was a child, he had his father’s hodgepodge of musical and recording equipment at his fingertips. By age 8, he was tinkering with multi-track recordings by using a double-cassette player. 18
“We always had weird instruments showing up at the house that I would play around with, like oil drums, bagpipes and violins,” Dowell says modestly. Dowell’s current home and the band’s studio is Hong Kong Garden, the venue where local and touring bands play downstairs and dozens of random people show up to have good times. Walking up the staircase to the second floor of Hong Kong Garden, you are greeted with a choice selection of VHS tapes, Dowell’s paintings on the walls, a 3-foot Christmas tree decorated with naked Ken dolls and a functioning wood stove in the center of it all. It is safe to say that it’s like the magical land of Honalee, only grittier. Whether or not they are learning life lessons, as the fictional Jackie Paper does, is up for debate. Dowell started the band in 2007. He slowly assembled a pool of local talent, including Patrick Firth on drums, Erin Porter on keys, flautist Michelle Goodwin and Jake Brewer on bass (though he is now on hiatus, replaced by Asher Dark). Since the full band’s formation last February, they’ve performed around the city, as well as in the Garden State.
The sounds of Jackie Paper are reminiscent of 1960s psychedelia like The Chocolate Watch Band. Their tasteful use of pedal effects and distortion, and Porter’s steady sequences on keys blending with Goodwin’s woodwind arrangements, prove Jackie Paper a true revivalist ensemble. The band is set to put out an EP in early April. This will be the first collection of recordings that will include the current members of the band. Past tracks have been redone by Dowell using multi-track digital recordings. In addition to releasing their new material, the band has laid the groundwork for a tour. Because of their home venue, they have connections all over the Northeast, as well as in North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee. They'll start with a release show at Hong Kong Garden, located in a section of the city that has seen a rapid influx of musical talent. “North Philly is the place to be right now,” Dowell says. “It has a real cool thing going on.” - Bryan Wallace DAYTRIPPERS: (L TO R) Asher Dark, Erin Porter, Joshua Dowell, Patrick Firth and Michelle Goodwin. facebook.com/JUMPphilly
Photo by Megan Matuzak.
The JUMP Off
Zombie Pop: Waiting For You In The Dark Being on stage is liberating, according to the members of Rainbow Destroyer. If Rainbow Destroyer had their way, every day would be Halloween, Gothic chic would be uniform and zombie movies would be as routine as brushing your teeth. Mo Hayes and Foster Longo, who make up the electro-pop duo, are something out of an old-school Romero flick, where brain-starved zombies creep around every corner. Rainbow Destroyer is hard to ignore — leopard print everything, sequin shorts, studded jean vests and zombie-like makeup are all a part of the band’s essence and attitude. Their music is Top 40 pop, but their lyrics are dark and asinine and their bass lines could make bones rattle six feet under. “When I was younger and enrolled at the Paul Green School of Rock Music, the first show I did was Kiss,” Hayes recalls. “I went from being a really insecure, super low selfesteem 16-year-old girl to somebody in full Kiss makeup, wearing a mini skirt and fish nets and an underwear top with bat wings I made JUMPphilly.com
myself. I was spitting fake blood on strangers and having the fucking best time ever! I think that having the make up, particularly for me, has allowed me to step outside myself and do things that are more entertaining and go past what I would normally do.” Longo and Hayes met at the School of Rock in 2005. Longo arrived with a firm grasp on classical piano but Hayes had yet to pick up a bass and sing rock ‘n’ roll to a crowd. For both bandmates, learning to perform through the school was the greatest lesson learned. “It was the first time I got to experience being on the stage in that context,” Longo reminisces. “It just completely changed how I felt about music and what I wanted to do with music. It really opened things up.” Lights, glitter and smoke fill the scene when Rainbow Destroyer hits the stage — all of the right elements to create a danceable hypnotic trance over any crowd. On several occasions, at Philly spots like Tabu, The Trocadero Balcony and Voyeur (where they opened for Sharon Needles), their format resembles a cabaret show. In most cases, Rainbow Destroyer acts as a house band in a way, playing after or in between drag shows. “There is an attitude that there is something you owe the crowd,” Longo says. “I see people who just stand there and sing and don’t do anything. It’s like, ‘I came to this show, probably
spent money on it, you have my attention and you are wasting my time.’ I just consider a bad performance rude.” Waiting In The Dark, an EP the band selfreleased in December, is a tantalizing fusion of catchy pop, juicy bass lines and a Tim Burton Gothic mentality. “Midtown Village (Tonight)” contains all of this, as well as cameos from some of their friends from the LGBT community. The track includes speaking parts from The Goddess Isis, El Roy Red and Messapotamia Lefae, who all share in Rainbow Destroyer’s kitschy theatrics. The song is all about going out, getting drunk and having a big bite of “honey roasted, red pepper realness.” “We spend a lot of time in the Gayborhood and with the drag queens there,” Hayes says. “We wanted to describe to someone who maybe doesn’t know about that culture in the city, what going out in that context is. I think we did a pretty good job.” Rainbow Destroyer is searching for the missing piece to take their live performance to the next level. They want to turn over the computer and special effects responsibilities to someone so the duo can truly put on a show the whole way to the graveyard and back. “In (one of our music videos) I put the raw lamb neck in my mouth,” Hayes says with a maniacal grin. “I’m going to continue to tell myself that I am really committed.” - Megan Matuzak 19
Photo by Ryan Treitel.
The JUMP Off
The Making of a Musical Kingdom DRGN King blends genres and creates a youthful, often reckless vibe. And sometimes frontman Dominic Angelella even raps.
t’s about 9 p.m. on a blustery, cold Wednesday. Inside a cute rowhome on South 18th Street, a bunch of dudes in or related to Philly-based indie band DRGN King stand around, talking about meat. Meats of various shapes and sizes, including large turkey legs that only seem like they existed in medieval times, are currently smoking in the oven. But the mid-January indoor barbeque isn’t happening for fun. The meat will be used in a scene for DRGN King’s video for “Wild Night,” a single off the band’s first album, Paragraph Nights, which has just been released a day before on Bar/None Records. DRGN King frontman Dominic Angelella is slightly more dressed up than he’s usually seen around the city. He sports a blue blazer and offcolor maroon cords. His distinctive curly red hair looks the same as it does most other days and much less relaxed than Angelella himself. Though his project that has been three years in the making has just been released to the world, Angelella is chill, confident and excited. “That was the first album I’ve ever put out,” Angelella says between sips of his Yards brew. “In a way, I’ve been waiting to do that since I was, like, 15. But it was one of those things where, suddenly, it wasn’t that stressful anymore. I thought about that all the time and then it was like, ‘Oh, that happened.’ It was one of those things that I’ve always wanted to do. It was a dream of mine, and it went down.”
ore friends of the band start to trickle in, summoned for the party scene that’s about to be filmed for the video. Angelella’s DRGN King partner, producer Brent “Ritz” Reynolds, hustles between the kitchen and the dining room, holding up the process to make sure the meat and medieval feast look just right. “This is a metaphor for how we recorded this album,” Angelella says. “I would rewrite a song and Brent would be like, ‘Cool, I’ll finish it.’ Then I’d come back, like, five days later and be like, ‘Are you done yet?’ And he’d be like, ‘No man I’m still getting it ready.’ Finally, when it would be ready, it was like incredible. It was like the best shit I’ve ever heard. It’s just because the way he does shit is so cool. He pays attention to every detail and takes his time with it. He’ll put a hundred tracks of music on a song and it’ll make sense, like, there’s a reason that they’re all there. I don’t think that way, you know what I mean? But he does and that’s what’s cool about it.” It was the intersection of Angelella’s songwriting and guitar skills coupled with Reynolds’ production background that brought about the uniqueness of Paragraph Nights. It’s part electronic and part livesounding, half youthful and half old school, a rare album that escapes genre labels, indie conventionality and expectations. The album is a melding of their influences, and also of the specialties of the other musicians they’ve brought in for live shows, rehearsals and recording — guitarist Brendan Mulvihill, who also fronts Norwegian 20
KING AMONG MEN: (clockwise from center) Dominic Angelella with Joe Baldacci, Ritz Reynolds, Brendan Mulvihill and Steve Montenegro. Arms, drummer Joe Baldacci, whom Angelella has been in bands with since age 18, and bassist Steve Montenegro. All are at tonight’s video shoot, drinking beer or wine and also eyeing up the meat. Though all members have responsibilities to other projects, they are dedicated to delivering DRGN King live shows now that Paragraph Nights has been released. What they may not know, however, is that songs like “Warriors” showcase what Angelella originally wanted the project to be about — rap. That’s what he told Reynolds when the two met in 2009. “He was really, like, not into that,” Angelella says with a laugh.
t’s 10 a.m. about a week after the video shoot and Angelella sits on the leather couch in the band’s Pennsport practice space. The couch doubled as his bed the night before. He came in, intending to do work before the band’s record release show at PhilaMOCA the next day but ended up watching The X-Files and fiddling around on his bass. Angelella looks tired but not run-down, at home in his regular vintage green Lacoste cardigan he wears more often than not. He’s surrounded by the clutter in what doubles as Reynolds’s production studio — old magazines, coffee cups and a handful of small DRGN King posters from the shows they’ve played at Kung Fu Necktie. In the midst of trying to describe the process of making a DRGN King song, Angelella pours an entire cup of coffee on himself and his leather couch/bed. “You know what’s so great about stuff like this is that it happened in slow motion,” he says. “You can see it happening and just be like, ‘Oh no, this is not good.’ But it just happens anyway.” Arriving at this point in his career definitely didn’t happen slowly for Angelella. Trained at the University of the Arts as a jazz musician, the Baltimore native spent years as a guitarist working in various Philly bands like Hop Along and Norwegian Arms, and with artists like Patty Crash and Khari Mateen. He did time in other, less desirable projects which he calls “sell-out shit.” facebook.com/JUMPphilly
ngelella and Reynolds both agree that despite the fact that they come from very different music scenes and worlds, their meeting and starting a project together was probably inevitable within the small, sequestered Philly music world. “There are the rock kids and the rap kids, and of course there is an in between, but I feel like I’m in a weird place,” Reynolds says of his past work with artists like Dice Raw and The Roots, and with labels like Epic. “I sort of feel like a part of all of them but in a way sort of distant. Not distant but a little bit of an outsider, at least in comparison to Dom (Angelella). I do think there are the weird biases. Or the mainstream versus the underground thing, label versus no label, the red tape around certain things you’re supposed to do as a punk kid or a songwriter. Sometimes, I sort of might not be as aware of those things but don’t really care.” The duo’s heads are already deep into the material for their next album. After one conversation with Angelella and Reynolds, you get the feeling the album could include everything from garage rock to orchestral music featuring the clarinet. And though Reynolds jokingly protests, Angelella says his rapping days are definitely over. “You’ve got to catch Dom drunk and ciphering at like 1:30 a.m. outside somewhere,” Reynolds says. “That’s where you will still hear him rapping.” - Beth Ann Downey
Thou Shalt Make Music John "Heyward" Howkins creates blustery nostalgia through vivid storytelling and lyrical imagery. But do you know what else he creates? E-Bibles. The book editor and entertainer talks to Nikki Volpicelli about his day job at a locally-owned electronic publishing company and how he fits his musical career into his 9-to-5 routine. Give me a few sentences about what you do between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. — or 6 or 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. I manage all of the aspects of e-book development for a small publishers' service firm. I spend a ton of time reminding people what they already know, making sure they pay attention to their work. I am like a generally unlikeable common sense cop. I am actually totally different outside of work. I am really easy going and funny. But at work, not so much. I have really high standards. I am kind of a dick. How long have you been in the publishing business? Off and on for almost 10 years. I have actually quit this job twice in the past to go on tour and change careers. I am a glutton for punishment. It drew me back in every time. What types of books do you publish? We convert publishers’ materials to various digital formats for delivery to the Web, tablets and other e-reader devices. We do tons of bibles, which is ironic cause I hate God. Twelve years of Catholic school will do that to you. Also, (we do) various types of reference materials, textbooks, academic monographs and even some trade fiction. Do you like to keep your music separate from your day job? I do actually really like to keep it separate. I am not the type who is going to walk around to every coworker and force my music upon them. Two or three people at work have heard my music. That is probably enough. Your most recent song, "Be Frank Furness," is about your childhood spent commuting in and out of the city. Have you ever written a song about editing bibles? No. Not yet, although I am usually on like a 15-
year delay. Someday in the distant future I will write about qc-ing (quality control) e-books all day. Right now it's too near the surface, too painful. What are some common misconceptions coworkers have of your art? For instance, do you ever get strange cover requests, terrible artist recommendations that "you will love" or demo tapes from book editors? I think people often assume that if you play music, you are in a cover band. Or they want to tell you about their family member who is also in a band. A metal cover band, no doubt. Sometimes folks want to give you advice too. They feel the need to tell you what they think would make your music or band better. Oh god. I did get a demo from a coworker who shall remain nameless. I didn't want to hurt his feelings so all I could think of to say was, "Keep at it man." So often, musicians choose a job that's as flexible as can be, like working in the service industry. This way, they have the opportunity to leave for tour, sleep late after shows and live on a schedule that's ripe for creative expression as it comes, whatever the hour. You work full-time, five days per week. Does that change your creative process at all? Do you think it hinders you in any way? I don't think it hinders me at all. Top Secret: sometimes (OK... all the time) I write song lyrics while at work. In fact, I wrote some of my best lyrics while at work. I have two awesome, but crazy, kids at home. Our office is so quiet that I can actually think and even be creative in my downtime. I get ideas during the course of the day and keep a text file open to jot down lyrics. I then go home and try them out with my acoustic guitar. During good stretches I can write two or three new songs per month in this fashion.
Photo by Kate Harrold.
DRGN King has offered Angelella his first stab at songwriting. “A lot of people talk about me being a versatile guitar player but in my mind, I’ve always been a songwriter first,” he says. “That’s just always what I wanted to do since I was a little baby. So for me, it’s a pretty big deal to have a collection of songs out in the world for people to listen to.” Most of the lyrical content for the album is informed by being a young person in Philadelphia or any major city, says Angelella. Though it wasn’t his intention, it’s the recklessness of “Wild Nights” or the subtle angst of “Menswear” that help the autobiographical nature of DRGN King songs relate to a wider, youthful audience. “I felt like I was trying to create a little world for the record to exist in, something where you could just kind of fall into it for a little while,” Angelella says. “When me and Brent were first starting, we would have these all-night sessions because we didn’t work together that much. We’d maybe see each other every two weeks and I would just come here and get totally sucked into his world. I’d be here until 5:30 or 6 in the morning, just working on stuff and watching movies. So it was like that or going out and getting drunk with my friends or hanging out with people. Just meeting people and seeing where their heads were at.” And now? “We work together, like, every day,” he quips.
BLONDE GANG: (L to R) Kidd Sweeny, Sik, Bok Nero, Plane Walker, Shy the Social Misfit and Lyve. 28
Photo by Rick Kauffman.
The JUMP Off
Realtor Days & DJ Nights It’s been a long and amazing journey. It started in the winter of 1989 at the University of Rochester, where I played music and talked a lot on AM radio, WRUR. Jump ahead a few years and I was getting paid to fly to Germany and DJ at a rave with 7,000 people. I had never been to Europe in my life, let alone get paid to travel. I decided then that I would not have a normal job, ever. I opened my record shop, 611 Records, in 1993. I never looked back.
The Chanteuse Laurin Talese found jazz, she came to Philadelphia and now she's blowing up. Laurin Talese has a knack for engaging her audience. The jazz sensation can induce a smile from the most cantankerous of listeners. She melts the room with her personality. “Isn’t she amazing?” beams chart-topping R&B singer Vivian Green. “I put her on both of my past two albums.” Green gushes as she listens to Talese, her friend and former background singer, after Talese performs at the Kimmel Center. These days, Talese is finding her talent and infectious personality highly sought after by Philadelphia’s music elite. An Ohio native, Talese attended the Cleveland School of Arts throughout middle and high school. But she knew that Philadelphia was where she wanted to root her start as a professional musician. “I remember telling my best friend when we were auditioning for colleges, ‘I don’t care where you’re going. I’m going to University of the Arts in Philadelphia. It’s my place,’” Talese recalls. One of her earliest friends at the University of the Arts, Adam Blackstone, is producing her forthcoming album, The Glam Suite, which she’s currently recording. “Adam has the gift of adding the finishing touches and having the track cross over, having it become instrumentally complete,” Talese says. “He definitely exercises his musical directing experiences.” Blackstone has worked as a musical director on tours for Jay-Z, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. This summer, he’ll tour with Justin Timberlake. JUMPphilly.com
Through Blackstone, Talese became acquainted with recent Grammy recipient, pianist Robert Glasper. Glasper produced the single “Winter,” featured on The Glam Suite. It’s yet another acquaintance met via the University of the Arts, Eric Wortham, who makes The Glam Suite so, well, Talese. The two wrote most of the record’s songs together. “There was immediate chemistry,” she explains. “He hears what I hear.” Talese grew up singing in church choirs but she never felt comfortable in that style. Then she discovered jazz. “When I found Sarah Vaughan and Chet Baker, I felt so at peace,” Talese remembers. “It made me feel good to sing it. The music reminded me of such a glamorous time. It made me feel glamorous. I felt part of their time.” The singer is dazzling enough to be part of that era, with sleek, cropped hair, painted red lips and that classic bedroom stare. Talese lives in West Philadelphia, blocks away from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where she works as an academic advisor. From the Vice Dean to the students, they all encourage her gift. “Everyone is so supportive of what I do outside of the university,” she exclaims. “They even come to my shows!” Talese acknowledges that working at Wharton is a “divine complement” to her creative training. “I’m exposed to things I would never would have seen otherwise, coming from my musical background,” she says. Still, there are moments the duality of her circumstance trickles to the forefront. “I enjoy helping students,” Talese says. “But music is my life. Sometimes I think, ‘This is your career. My career is after 5.’” - Morgan James
In 2005, I was dating a girl whose family was in real estate. They said that being a realtor is really just like being a fun consultant. I bit, and I’ve been selling real estate in Philly ever since. I really love the dichotomy I have in my life. On Monday mornings, I wake up, exercise, eat and head to the studio to do my weekly radio show, which is syndicated to two Nigel websites and iTunes Richards radio. Then, I head to the 611 office, the headquarters for my clothing line. I decided to capitalize on my fashion habits by creating men’s fashion. I’ll do some fashion work with my assistant. In the afternoons or evenings, I go to a listing appointment or I’ll show condos. I love to help people and solve problems, which is really what most of the real estate gig is about. Often, as we cruise around looking at houses, we listen to techno — if my clients are into that sort of thing. If not, no sweat. I am here to help. I have never been too big for my britches. I am no different when I am on HGTV talking real estate than when I’m DJing in front of 2,000 people in Malaysia at 2:30 in the morning. Sometimes when I’m in Asia, my phone will ring with real estate calls from Philadelphia (where it’s 2:30 p.m.). It’s still me, the kid from Philly who loved dance music on the radio. I subscribe to the belief that diversity is healthy and fun. Sure, it’s challenging every day to shift gears multiple times but each field contributes to this colorful thing I call my life. Make money, spend money and make people happy — whether they’re selling their home or dancing to techno. Try to keep up with the many lives of Nigel Richards at www.twitter.com/nigel611.
Photo by Nikki Volpicelli.
This Place Rocks
A Kiln For Creativity Marshall James Kavanaugh of Dream Oven, is fostering the creative community in his East Kensington home. Once upon a time, there was a big bread oven conspicuously placed in the middle of the dingy basement on Frankford Avenue. Just sitting there, taking up space, front and center to many a basement house show. The renter of the house, Marshall James Kavanaugh, gave that oven a story. He made it an idea, a vehicle for alternative expression, a symbol for a creative community on the rise. Kavanaugh called it the Dream Oven and started using the moniker to book shows at local venues, including Little Berlin, Kung Fu Necktie and El Bar. He started building a base at his own home, in the loose likeness of Gertrude Stein ’s Parisian salon and her open-house philosophy. The writer would open her doors to her great contemporaries including Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce. She helped initiate what ’s known as the Lost Generation of now-renowned writers, poets and painters. “That’s the main thing I’m trying to accomplish with the Dream Oven, to offer an open art space for a community to perform within, and a place where people can just hang out and be friends,” muses Kavanaugh, whose East Kensington space is flush with expression in the form of letters, paintings and literal, triangular hand-crafted freak flags strung on a rope by the stairs. The middle of the living room is sometimes the place of word exchange, the stage or the sleeping quarters for a visiting band. But right now, there is a television pyramid, 12 TV screens stacked in a pyramid of static white noise. Fuzz speaks out of the screens, which have magazine faces with eyeholes cut out and glued to 24
them, strands of color cutting through their middles and thumb-sized terrariums nestled in their corners. “At the original house, the show would be in the basement,” says the 25-yearold Kavanaugh. “In the middle room, upstairs, there would be the static room, which was just TV installations. At one point, there were, like, 25 sets in that one room. One person at a time would go into that room and just sit down on a couch and zone out. Maybe they were tired of being at a sweaty basement show. A normal show only has one room and it’s that show and if you don’t like it, then you leave. I try to create this giant madhouse with a different vibe in each space so that everyone can have a good time.” Past good times have included local psych-fuzz outfit Birds Of Maya and the South Philly garage-punk people of FarOut Fangtooth. This month, the Dream Oven is sitting in at Little Berlin for Plato’s Porno Cave, a series of plays, readings and musical performances focusing on philosophical new beginnings and erotic fiction. “ The Philly music scene in the last year has gotten so much national press,” says Kavanaugh. “Some bands have got some really big deal record deals. Some
friends are being covered by Pitchfork, which doesn’t mean anything really, but it’s awesome. It’s a big deal, because five years ago, Philly was really off the radar.” The Dream Oven, Kavanaugh points out, was one of the first showcases in the city to book up-and-comers like Daniel Bachman and Mmoss. Kavanaugh’s style is all over the place — punk and potlucks and poetry. You can see it all whirling in his brain as he talks. The concept behind the Dream Oven is the physical byproduct of that type of thinking. “The new generation is killing it on all spectrums,” he says. “We’re performing, we’re writing, we’re creating, we’re filling the market and we’re all collaborating, we all get it.” The New Generation: a community charting a weird time in the world, a time of underemployment and overstimulation and some times too many options. A creative community that’s dealing with this environment by bouncing ideas off of each other, coming-of-age together and getting un-lost together. It all sounds eerily familiar, in fact. And the Dream Oven is just opening its door, letting it all in and cooking up something good. - Nikki Volpicelli facebook.com/JUMPphilly
Photo by G.W. Miller III.
New Sweet Spot Goldilocks Gallery threw some pretty wild parties. But they've changed directions ever since they angered the Iron Chef's crew. Goldilocks Gallery is breathing fresh air into Center City and Kamal Lamoza is at the helm. The gallery is, in his eyes, a perfect fusion of high-quality art and mellowish music, a way to get the area out of the “rut” it’s currently in. The gallery sits above Steven Starr’s Morimoto, a modern Japanese restaurant named after their superstar chef, Masaharu Morimoto of the Iron Chef America television program. Goldilocks has two faces — one sleek, whitewashed room for art and a gritty, smaller space for gathering and collaborating. Artists can rent this area. There’s also a stage tucked in the corner of the gritty room, the same space that hosted the Punk Rock Prom last fall. Lamoza calls that “the last event of the old Goldilocks.” It managed to draw a great turnout. It also managed to piss off the Morimoto crew. Lamoza’s new vision for the gallery is cemented in art, with lighter music. Lamoza founded the gallery in 2011 with a firm understanding of business, solid construction experience and a passion for art. He studied math and economics at the University of Puget Sound. A bike tour from Seattle to Mexico helped him learn to rely on
others and ask for help. On the trip, he took an interest in carpentry and spent time in Santa Cruz apprenticing under a local carpenter. The Goldilocks moniker comes from the legendary fairytale’s “just right” philosophy. You remember: a girl breaks into the home of three bears, eats all of their food and sleeps in all of their beds? Lamoza likes the reference, as well as the astronomical phenomenon that’s named after it. In astronomy, the earth’s distance from the sun is considered just suitable for human life. It’s neither too hot nor too cold. Scientists use the earth’s distance from the sun as a guideline when considering life on other planets, and earth is part of the
“Goldilocks Zone.” This zone, to Lamoza, means room for evolution. His gallery is not only on the “just right” corner of downtown Philly, nor it is just the “just right” mixture of all things aesthetically pleasing, it’s also a space built to adhere to social and cultural change. In its young existence, Goldilocks is already going through its first major rebirth by upping art showings and slowing down party throwing. “Goldilocks is a business venture that happens to involve all the best things in life,” Lamoza says. “It’s what I’ve always wanted to do but I didn’t feel I had the authority to do it.” - Greta Iverson
/ˌfōtəˈjenik/ — adjective — Producing or emitting light. Find out why at www.EveryoneIsPhotogenic.com JUMPphilly.com
Bottom photo by Rick Kauffman. Top photo by Jenna Spitz.
Music & Education
Drumming For Life The musicians banging drums may be sitting but they are working their asses off. And that may make them healthier than the rest of us. To be a great drummer, you have to work hard. You have to put up with sore arms and calloused hands from spending hours behind a set every week. You have to be in tune with the audience while performing and sometimes out of tune with any worrisome inner monologue that might trip you up. You have to be brave to put yourself out on display. You have to turn yourself inside out. What happens mentally and physically in those moments before and during performances for many drummers is extremely personal. “Music puts you somewhere else,” says Dr. Lois A. Butcher-Poffley, sports psychologist and assistant professor in the Kinesiology Department at Temple University. “It takes you to a different level.” A former dancer, Butcher-Poffley often works with musicians on performance quality. She adds that while drumming is an inherently creative medium, it is also very physical. “There is a fitness component, no question,” she explains. “There is a lot of upper body work. While there is a lot of hitting, there is also a lot of moving across the body. There is spinal motor movement and gross motor movement. You have all limbs going.” Alex Smith, the drummer for Cold Fronts, says, “It’s a total body workout and it can be a mental workout too if you want it to be.” Smith says the danceable, energetic element of his band’s music is important to him because connecting with dancing audience members helps him find where the beat and tempo fall just right. “I think about if I was dancing or if someone is dancing to the drumming,” Smith continues, “how would they react or what you would want to feel as a dancer?” In order to achieve the multi-functionality drumming demands, Butcher-Poffley says a high level of coordination is needed. This is part of what Christopher Norris — known on stage as “Flood the Drummer” — aimed to teach his students last year at Walter G. Smith Elementary School in the Point Breeze section of South Philadelphia. “What I did was look at how we can raise awareness about the physiological and biological effects of drumming,” Norris says. “How sustained drumming has aerobic effects on the heart. How long, concentrated periods of drumming bring both your left and right brain to synchronization, allowing the human to experience higher levels of human consciousness.” The self-taught drummer, who has performed with the likes of Herbie Hancock, taught elementary school children how to play the drums using his own non-traditional teaching method. While many drummers learn using sheet music, Norris encouraged his students to take the lead in their own drumming education by creating their own rhythms. He instructed his students to build a paradiddle, a basic drum pattern. His students went on to create their own game mirroring the rhythm using basketballs. They called it “paradribble.” “It’s interesting that he’s taking it from that perspective and it’s great, because music is fundamental,” says Butcher-Poffley. She asserts that beat is in all of us. “You have a beat from the second your heart forms as a fetus,” she 26
STARTER KITS: Christopher "Flood The Drummer" Norris (above) and Alex Smith of Cold Fronts. continues. “Everybody has that rhythm. Beat is fundamentally derived from heartbeat. All physical skills that we have tend to be rhythmic.” “Your body tells you a lot of stuff automatically,” affirms Paul Albrecht, a professional drummer and instructor who has performed for 42 years. Albrecht has arthritis and carpel tunnel syndrome but still performs on a regular basis. Although he says his hands hurt most of the time, he keeps drumming. “Once you’re in the zone, that other shit disappears for a while,” he says. Butcher-Poffley knows about the zone. Some call it the sweet spot, others call it an altered sense of time. She explains it’s the same euphoric feeling when everything happens as it should. “Albrecht is so in tune with his body and so in tune with his hands,” says Butcher-Poffley. “And those hands, they know that beat.” Because he’s in the zone, she says, he doesn’t pay attention to the pain. “If you don’t keep using your joints,” she adds, “the synovial fluid doesn’t lubricate them. And if you don’t use it, you will lose it. So the fact that he’s still drumming is really good for his hands even though it hurts.” Tony Rossi, drummer for both Nothing and Hippie Cult, agrees that staying fit helps. “Even at practice, I’m drenched in sweat,” he says. “So I have to build up my stamina and endurance.” Rossi says he truly values the mental clarity that 10 years of drumming has given him. “If I wasn’t a drummer, oh my god, I don’t even want to know who I would be,” he says. “It definitely puts me in the zone, to be organized and focused, and not stressed out about everyday bullshit. I don’t have to think about rent. I don’t have to think about paying bills. I don’t have to think about this person or that person and what’s going on in the world. It’s like this is my time to escape from reality.” - Chesney Davis facebook.com/JUMPphilly
Photo by G.W. Miller III.
Music & Politics
Making Music Makes You Think Congressman Chaka Fattah's mother was a PR person for music legends. G.W. Miller III discovers that the 10-term representative from the 2nd congressional district has pushed for music in education (including in his own household) because he knows that learning to play instruments is a key to devloping critical thinking. Your mom did PR for Sam Cooke? Yes. Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. How did that come about? She was a journalist in her first career, for about 20 years. That’s where she got her beginnings and she eventually went on to become the editor of the Philadelphia Tribune. She also did public relations for Otis Redding and Sam Cooke because she wrote about music and entertainment. Did you grow up in a household with music? I grew up in a household with five brothers and my mom and grandmom. I took piano lessons at the Heritage House, which is now Freedom Theater, and then at Settlement Music School. I don’t think the household was dominated by music but certainly my mom had a big interest in music. I had my own piano at home. Did that help shape you as a person? I think music is a very important part of young people’s education development. My oldest daughter, who is 14, has a piano and she plays the guitar. My 9-year-old plays the flute and is taking violin lessons. I’m really involved in neuroscience issues in Congress and one of the things we know with a certainty is that in terms of development of young minds, music adds to the architecture of the brain in ways that helps young people be able to critically think. It also helps later on in life when people get to ages when dementia sometimes slips in. There’s less of that among people who have had formal training in music. JUMPphilly.com
We know that the brain, when it’s structuring itself, music helps fortify it for the long run in life. And it’s obvious that it helps young people in terms of their day-to-day educational pursuits. Do you try to work that science into legislation or programs you sponsor? What we’ve been trying to do is find ways that we make sure that we continue to have an appreciation for the arts and music. That happens at a variety of levels, like the National Endowment of the Arts. I’ve been one of the biggest proponents of the National Endowment while it has been under attack, for many years. What kind of music do you listen to? I just reacquainted myself with Graceland by Paul Simon. When Paul Simon did the Graceland tour, he picked out around 15 groups to financially benefit. The House of Umoja, which is the house I grew up in (a non-profit organization run by his parents that assists atrisk teens), financially benefitted from the tour. I listened to it 25 years ago but about a month ago, I bought the 25th anniversary edition. I listen to John Legend, who I’m a super fan of. He went to Penn and he just performed for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee party in Washington. I have a wide musical taste that runs the gamut from Billy Ocean through Alicia Keys, who is probably my favorite. On a random weekend night, when you and your wife (NBC 10 news anchor Renee Chenault Fattah) want to have a good time,
where do you wind up? We chase good music. We have some affinity for jazz. But we also frequent many of the great concerts that take place in the city. I remember Whitney Houston’s last visit to The Mann. We saw Alicia Keys at the Liacouras Center. Because we have young children with their own musical tastes, sometimes we end up taking them to see people who are not necessarily at the top of our lists. Was your children's involvement in music their choice? It’s something me and my wife both encouraged. I bought my 14-year-old a piano when she was 4. She plays it every single day now. She has a drum set, an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar. She’s quite interested in music. Do you stay in tune with Philly music? Overbrook, GAMP (Girard Academic Music Program), the High School for Creative and Performing Arts? They are all impressive with the work and talent they are producing. From a Philadelphia standpoint, music is one of our greatest exports. Is music a common denominator when working with colleagues in Washington? I’ve been in Congress for 10 terms. One of my greatest memories was the night when all of the members performed in front of everyone. Did you perform? I did not sing. I did a Shakespeare act. 27
Words by Kevin Stairiker. Photos by Jeff Fusco.
oseph of Harcourt yells, “One, two ... fuck yeah!” An axe comes down hard on a faded opponent’s shield as the two weary battlers wince slightly from the heaviness of the sound. Thwack! Suddenly, a swipe from the axe comes a moment too soon to be blocked again by the shield and all at once, the already-damaged fighter loses both of his legs. Though the axe-wielder knows victory is imminent, he takes his time circling his opponent before making the final strike. He comes down once more with a crash and the clash is over. A moment later, Joseph of Harcourt, one of many squires to King Edward of the East Kingdom, lends valuable advice to an inexperienced fighter. “When you’re fighting, ‘hold’ means stop, no matter what,” he says. “I don’t care if God comes down and offers you Beyonce’s asshole, ‘hold’means stop.” Everyone laughs and the winner of the practice bout helps up the dead man. “Everyone” tonight is Joey Ross, Damon Cunningham, Kitt McKittrick and organizer of the practice, Joe McKay, aka Joe Hardcore, founder of the This Is Hardcore festival and all-around promoter of the genre. But in this rec room, in his somewhat historically accurate 11th/12th century fighting armor, he is Joseph of Harcourt. When the armor comes off later and the gym shorts go on, he’s back to being regular Joe McKay — Philadelphia lifer, Freemason and father of three. The turnout is relatively small but it is of no consequence to Joe. “You gotta come to practice,” he says. “You don’t have gear? Borrow some and come to practice. You’re sick? Come to practice. You’re really sick?” Joe thinks for a split second, smiles and says, “Then you probably JUMPphilly.com
shouldn’t come to practice.” The men are assembled in a rec room run by Damon, who, during practice time, goes by nKante, a 13th century African warrior. With one flickering light illuminating the space and the remains of a child’s first birthday celebration still in the air (one large decoration reads “Happy birthday! Oh boy, I’m one!”), the room may not be where one conjures up the image of people gathering to beat the shit out of each other with blunted, though still dangerous, weaponry. Kitt, Damon and Joe have been fighting for years but tonight is Joey’s first practice. Joey, 22, is completely new to this sort of battling, and it wasn’t surprising to learn that he was drawn in by Joe. “I was at a show seeing Cruel Hand and Agitator,” Joey says. “Joe said that I’d probably like SCA, so I came out.” Joe has that effect on people.
he Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) was founded in 1966 at the University of California, Berkeley, as a way for science fiction and history fans to bring to life their grander ambitions via actual medieval-influenced combat. Being the pre-Dungeons & Dragons era, the SCA was the first of its kind to hold these sort of tournaments, and the organization has ballooned since then. Whatever you do, don’t bring up that four-letter “L” word (LARP, or live action role-playing) around most SCAers. While the worlds of SCA and LARPing may be close in theory, the SCA strives to be as historically accurate as possible, giving combatants a frame of time (roughly 4001600 AD) to to cull their characters from. For example, each player gets to pick their own historically accurate name (such as Damon with nKante) 29
and as long as the player can prove the authenticity of his or her name, it is allowed. Today, the SCA boasts more than 30,000 paying members and 60,000 competitors spread out around the world.
ut of all of those tens of thousands of competitors, only one books hardcore shows in his spare time, though the phrase spare time is not exactly accurate as Joe McKay has barely enough time in one day to do everything he wants or needs to get done. On the day before practice, McKay has contracting work to do, along with some final preparations for a show he’s booking at O’Reilly’s in Kensington at the end of the week. This particular show is dear to Joe’s heart, it is nearly a band-by-band recreation of a show he saw back in his formative days back in 1986, featuring The Casualties and Tribe 13. Joe designated 2013 as the year to start finding more time in his life for his three main loves: the SCA, hardcore and family. The first thing to take somewhat of a backseat was hardcore, with Joe focusing less on the quantity of shows for the year and more on the quality. This year’s 8th annual This Is Hardcore festival — the pride of Philadelphia hardcore and Joe himself — is still a few months away but with an event of such magnitude, planning can be an all-consuming task. Now, without the worry of a rival punk festival threatening to take away bands and showgoers like last year (Riot Fest East won’t happen again in Philly this year, thanks in part to resistance
from Joe), it should be smooth sailing ahead. Joe is downright chipper when he says he doesn’t mind the TIH festival not making money as long as the kids have a good time seeing the bands they love, even if it means working doubly hard to put it on the next year. The mental toll is what made Joe decide to take a half step back, adding that though he enjoys the work, he doesn’t want to end up like good friend and R5 booker Sean Agnew and “have to go to Asia for a month just to unwind.”
his is partially why Joe took up SCA fighting in the first place. The change from Joe Hardcore to Joseph of Harcourt was a gradual one. While touring with Punishment in 2003, Joe saw a video of SCAers in action, soundtracked by Disturbed’s “Down With the Sickness.” This caught his attention. He showed up to his first practice in 2007 by himself — a rare occurrence for a man with as many friends as Joe has. Only three or four other people showed up but the first taste was all Joe needed to get hooked enough to spend the next two or three months in borrowed and mismatched gear, fighting and learning the ropes with people who would become lasting friends. After getting authorized in York, Joe was officially set to fight and he’s been doing so ever since, albeit not as much as he’d like. Though some might lazily try to connect the fighting done in the SCA to the fighting done at immeasurable hardcore shows throughout the years, Joe is quick to dispel facebook.com/JUMPphilly
that notion. “The SCA is about honor, not taking aggression out,” Joe explains. “I wouldn’t want to be that guy who goes to a battle and beats up people just because I was having a bad day.” Bad days are something Joe has not been a stranger to. He was an active member of the street gang Friends Stand United. Those days are long gone but he still has scars from fighting. He retains lingering resentment because of his October 2011 drug charge. Joe was driving a friend who, unbeknownst to him, had drugs on him. Joe was later acquitted. Today, he is a man who is constantly on the move, whether it’s driving tools to his painting job or turning down an invite to an SCA event so he can see The Hobbit with his daughter and girlfriend for his daughter’s birthday. Jess Parr, Joe’s girlfriend, is usually the one making sure Joe has enough time for all of his endeavors. “It’s the same shit, whether it’s SCA or anything,” she says as Joe queues up videos of SCA battles on YouTube. “It’s, ‘Are you gonna be able to have time for this?’”
t this moment, Joe has time to watch some SCA battle videos. One of the first videos features King Edward of the East Kingdom in battle. This region, along with most of the eastern United States, makes up the SCA’s East Kingdom. “Being king is a commitment,” Joe says as he shakes his head, admitting that he wouldn’t want to be king. “I just don’t have the time to do it.” Though he is happy being a squire, he would one day like to be a knight. Joe points out in another battle video that there are 60- and 70-year-old men still battling. Joe will not be one of those men. “I’m planning on being dead by 55,” Joe says. There’s a morose pause and then he chuckles. “Fifty-five is fucking old, man!” he snaps. “I think that’s why I push myself to do so much, so I can fit it all in.” Joe leans back on his couch, his eyes never leaving the computer screen. Factions are going to war, and Joe can pick out every kingdom simply by the colors the fighters are wearing. “It’s organized chaos,” he says. The fighters cross a stream as a flurry of swords and shields blur the screen. “Nothing else matters when you’re in a bridge battle,” he says, as though providing color commentary for the battle. He then launches into a diatribe about one sorry SCAer's mismatched Roman-by-way-of-Greek fighting garb. “He’s got a shield from the 14th century and the ugliest fucking tunic I’ve ever seen in my life,” Joe yells, and at once he is back to being Joseph of Harcourt. Joseph of Harcourt looks a lot like Joe McKay, who most certainly resembles Joe Hardcore. All three men fight daily to win a seemingly more enviable prize than kingship: sole possession of Joe’s unrelenting passion for doing something, anything at all. “Well, there’s Joe Hardcore doing the hardcore shows,” Joe explains. “And there’s Joe Harcourt doing SCA and Joe McKay doing everything else. It’s SCA that keeps all of there mentalities in check.”
WAY OF THE WARRIOR: Joe McKay in his home along the border of Kensington and Port Richmond. His body is a canvas and his prize tattoo is a copy of a medieval tapestry that runs across his chest. JUMPphilly.com
Photo by G.W. Miller III.
Where Physics Reigns Supreme Klint Kanopka, the bass player of one of the hardest rocking hardcore bands in the world, Reign Supreme, spends his days teaching teenagers about science, as Bree Wood discovers. Some may know Klint Kanopka better as the bassist of the local hardcore band Reign Supreme. But talking to him as Mr. Kanopka, as his students from Academy at Palumbo call him, you realize he is the teacher you all wish you had in school — truly passionate and loving what he does. You would have to love everything you do to manage the crazy schedule Kanopka does. He is a full-time high school teacher who is also 32
going to grad school at Drexel and he tours the world with Reign Supreme. “It takes a lot of effort and I have to be organized,” he says. “But it’s all worth it.” When Kanopka was a high school student, he didn’t have any inspiration from teachers to go into physics. What sparked his interest were the books The Pleasure of Finding Things Out and Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman. These titles made physics
accessible to people and they became a big part of Kanopka’s philosophy in teaching. “My favorite thing about my job is that I show up, drink coffee, make fun of teens, teach physics and go home,” Kanopka says with a smirk. “But on a serious note, I like that I bring physics to my students. It’s fascinating that people are devoted to doing physics and learning how the world works. It’s awesome, but there isn’t a diverse group. It’s underserved.” The students at Palumbo, located near 11th and Christian streets in South Philadelphia, are inner-city kids with experiences that could benefit the physics community at-large, Kanopka says. He feeds off of their excitment and enthusiasm. “Most teachers want to be at a bougie school with a big budget and a lot of resources but that doesn’t appeal to me,” he says. “Whoever teaches those kids, they will be fine. My life is spent feeling alienated, so why wouldn’t I want to work with kids who feel the same way as I do? To me, that is my only option. No one wants to be here and I do. It’s great.” Kanopka is worried about the Philadelphia School District, recognizing that schools are closing and others are being pushed to privatize. Public schools, as he knows them, are in trouble. “Charter schools want to turn a profit on their students,” states Kanopka. “Running a school to turn a profit is messed up to me.” And with the sciences already not getting the attention they need in the public school curriculum, it may be that the knowledge of physics will no longer be accessible to everyone, despite its importance. “It is used in every day life,” Kanopka says of the subject. “It could be a problem as simple as everything falls at the same rate, or what to expect from light and circuits. I think it is my job to bring this information to the students and make it interesting. I would like to see districts be like my school and SLA (Science Leadership Academy), Masterman and Central (high schools), etc. They have purpose and a mission. It is a certain type of student who attends the school and it creates a community. Having a district school that has curriculum autonomy can create an identity for a school. It is an amazing concept and needs to be pushed.” Kids learn physics through experiments, so a lot of Kanopka’s teaching time is spent doing projects (he hates tests and homework as much as his students do). He does everything from building your own musical instruments to action figure bungee jumping. Kanopka enjoys passing his passion for physics along to his students. “I can only see myself in a classroom setting,” says Kanopka. “I would like to be a department head, or possibly a curriculum writer for the district one day. But I like inspiring my students.” facebook.com/JUMPphilly
The Psychology of Punk
Photo by Jessica Flynn.
Bree Wood sits down with Dan Yemin, the veteran hardcore singer and guitarist who happens to also be a trained therapist. Sit down with Dan Yemin at his home in Fairmount and it is easy to see the many roles he plays in his life — family man, frontman and working man. Records, books, children’s toys and laundry fill his living room. A long-time member of the Philly music scene, Yemin, the former guitarist for the now-defunct Kid Dynamite, is currently the vocalist for Paint It Black and guitarist for Lifetime. And he’s working on a new band. If juggling all that, plus a 3-year-old daughter and a 6-month-old son sounds crazy, it is. It may not be surprising that Yemin spends a lot of time in a psychologist’s office. What may be surprising is that he is not on the couch but in the chair as a self-employed, licensed psychologist. The world of music and that of psychology might seem completely different, but Yemin knows that his music and career are very connected. “I don’t write directly about anything that happens at work, just about relationships, power and the abuse of it,” he explains. “I’m inspired by people and people’s resilience. I get personal fulfillment. I get to have an impact on people and be creative. A lot goes on behind the scenes. For every substantial gain you see, there is an immense amount of thinking and working going on.” He’s created a balance between training and intuition. His formal education began at the University of Michigan, where he chose his major at the last possible moment. “I was naive in the sense that I thought about the world without nuance in a very dichotomous, black-and-white way,” he says. “I was becoming politicized, reading the newspaper during the Reagan era and listening to punk. It split the world into people whose works were self-serving and people who did work that served others. I knew I didn’t want to be a part of an organization that made capital.” After earning his bachelor’s degree in psychology, Yemin continued at Widener University for his master’s degree and doctorate. Being a psychologist can seem very dark and overwhelming, he admits, but there is something great and real about it. “It’s all brutally human," he says. "There is no BS to it. You end up loving JUMPphilly.com
something about every client pretty deeply. I shouldn’t use the word love but honestly, you do love something about the people you work with. Not in a romantic or fraternal sense but you can’t be intimately connected in a caring way without actually caring very deeply about the person.” Some people might try to keep such drastic day-and-night jobs separate but Yemin says his work and music are very intertwined. “I think everything is integrated,” he says. “The idea that parts of your life are separate seems like an artificial construction.” While Yemin sees a wide range of clients, more than half are between the ages of 13 and 25 years. “I think teenagers are thrilling,” he quips. “I like that no one seems to like to work with them. I get stoked on that. This says a lot about me but a lot of them make more sense to me than some adults.” His personal philosophies extend to how he runs his business. Affordable therapy isn’t always the easiest thing to get when dealing with insurance companies, so his practice doesn’t take insurance. Instead, he works on a sliding scale or he’ll trade community service for therapy. “Managed care is a parasite business,” Yemin says. “It is a huge obstacle to get care now. Managed care was going to be the overseer and decide what was necessary and overpriced but all it did was make a middle man, which is all made for profit.” Even with the time and passion he puts into working with clients, he still has the drive to create music. “My ambition is to keep doing what I’m doing untill I fall over,” says Yemin. “Instead of building my career, like most, my energy goes into my next record.” He is in the middle of starting a new band with Andy Nelson, the bassist of Paint it Black, Chris Wilson, the drummer from Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, and Blacklisted singer George Hirsch. The yet-to-benamed group has a late ’80s, Washington D.C. punk sound. They will start playing shows in the late spring. Additionally, Yemin is finishing up a new Paint it Black record, Invisible, which will be available April 1 from No Idea Records. The record release show at the First Unitarian Church sold out six weeks in advance. “Because we don’t play often, every time we do play, we take it very seriously,” Yemin says. “We want the show to be perfect. We think about what we would want to see. We blow most of the money we make from the show on flying people in to make the show great.” 33
The Wheels on the Bus GOt Southwork Round and Round Words by Nikki Volpicelli. Photos by Kate Harrold
uses don’t walk but this one of a kind of did — into the lives of seven South Philly guys who were sick of touring in a constricting van. If you ask Southwork bassist Nick Anastasi, he believes this to be quite literal. “I saw this bus and all the sudden I was running through a field of flowers and the bus was walking towards me,” he says before correcting himself. “It was slowly rolling down a hill and I was running at it, in slow motion, and it was magical, and the music crescendoed.” You see, it’s actually a brilliant idea buying a school bus. This one in particular was purchased in 2011 from a privately owned company contracted by a school district in New Jersey, where it’s mandated that school buses be eighty-sixed after 10 years of service. They’re like the police horses of the New Jersey school system but with fewer retirement perks. The guys reason that the market for an out-of-service school bus consists mostly of bands, churches and tailgating Eagles fans.
t’s a Sunday afternoon in late January and the Southwork band mates - Mike Vogel, Joe Smith, Al Smith, Tony Trov, Erich Miller, Joe Reno and Anastasi - are inside the bus, somewhere deep in Georgia. Through the phone, the guys’ closeness is apparent. “We don’t fight,” says Anastasi about living in such close quarters with so many fellow travelers. “We have plenty of ways to relax. We have skateboards, music and a Crock-Pot.” Good thing they have cushions because something they also have is one bed. For all of five of them. To sleep in. On tour. In an old school bus. Trumpet player Miller jokes that they all zip their sleeping bags together each night. “Four spoons are better than four forks,” Anastasi adds. The real reason for the solo bed is storage purposes. It’s easier to pack instruments under one bed. Originally, Southwork planned on stuffing bunk beds into the vehicle but when you throw multiple guitars, mics, stands, a trumpet, a ukelele, tenor and baritone saxes and bubble machines into the mix, it just doesn’t seem wise to waste that much space with sleeping quarters. Glam-folk band Southwork is known for their quirky performances, and their ride is no different. “The bus is definitely a magnet,” says Anastasi. “If you roll into a small town with a school bus full of people dressed like maniacs and pull up in front of a venue and park, people get curious.” At shows, guests are encouraged to wear team colors - yellow, orange,
blue and purple. There’s almost always a bubble machine (or two), and at the group’s Johnny Brenda’s debut album release show for Arise earlier this year, hundreds of balloons dropped from the ceiling mid-set. Every song on the album can stand alone, is instantly head-stuck and crafted artfully, a series of strong pop songs with circus-like, jazz undertones and big band belly.
hat’s this band though. They know what they’re doing. They’ve been playing music together since they were 13-year-olds, about 15 years now. They know how to run the band as a business, which is often times something that artists miss. “Our band is registered as a business on paper,” explains guitarist and singer Vivas. “The bus is owned by our label (Writtenhouse Records), so it’s a listed as a commercial vehicle.” This means plenty of law abiding, from twice-a-year inspections to obeying parking codes to paying the fees. On the up note, Anastasi reasons that if he “accidentally” mows anyone down, “a bandmate, for instance, they couldn’t sue me.” So that’s good. Vehicular manslaughter aside, the bus has forced the guys into mechanical engineering. “We are now oil changers and electricians,” Vivas continues. “The other day, we ripped up all of the paneling to follow a few faulty wires. We’ve probably pulled the battery in and out a thousand times.” Speaking of thousandths, Anastasi says, “We just crossed our thousandth mile last night and she has yet to throw a temper tantrum. I keep thinking if I give her all the love that she needs, she’ll keep baking cookies for us. We’re hoping to keep her forever.” For when that sad day inevitably arrives, there is already a living will of sorts in place. “We talked about when the bus goes, we’re going to bury it with the roof hatches at ground-level so that when each of us dies, we can be buried in the bus,” explains Anastasi. “When the last of us is on their death bed, they’re responsible for crawling in and shutting the door. They’ll die in the driver’s seat.” Miller calls it the “Busoleum.” Vivas reasons that they’ll probably just take it to the junkyard and scrap it. (To make money for another bus, of course...) “Before we bought this bus,” Vivas says, “I asked my girlfriend’s stepdad, who is a bus driver, for his advice on buying a school bus to tour in. His advice was not to buy a school bus. Here we are now.”
*** EDITOR'S NOTE: Shortly after we spoke with the guys, the bus died. They are currently hunting for a replacement. JUMPphilly.com
Veteran Freshman I
Yusuf Muhammad went from being that guy taking pictures on stage to being that guy who books and promotes shows ... and sells out venues. Learn about the meteoric rise of the young man who dreams of taking Philly on the road.
n a black hoodie reading “Young King” and an Africa pin on his snapback, Yusuf “Yuie” Muhammad wears his pride on his sleeve, chest and everywhere else visible to man. The 27-year-old artist, photographer, booking agent and show managing powerhouse sits with a cell phone in one hand and fork in another. He tweets, texts and talks simultaneously. He speaks fast and direct with the ease of a businessman used to giving an elevator pitch. Marilyn Silva, his assistant of sorts, soaks it all in like a sponge. She’s a chef and a mother collaborating with one of Philly’s youngest, who’s doing it big. “He’s straightforward and personable,” she says. “Every time I participate in an event with him, something great always happens.” He’s worked with everyone from Musiq Soulchid to Cam’ron, from Marsha Ambrosius to Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, and he’s the creator of the locally-focused Veteran Freshman concert series. Yusuf recently accepted the position as the Philly ambassador to A3C, one of the country’s largest hip-hop festivals, held annually in Atlanta.
oday, however, he’s doing a photo shoot at the Dreaming Building in Northern Liberties. A friend of his is coming to update his headshots. The door opens and in steps a man of medium build in dark shades and basketball shorts. It’s Tariq Trotter, also known as Black Thought, the frontman of The Legendary Roots Crew. The photo shoot is intimate. In between shots, the two talk business and upcoming shows. They laugh and discuss shoes like bonafide sneaker heads. “What Yusuf represents for Philly is the art for the mind, the creative mind,” says Trotter. “He’s the kind of young person we need for Philly to remain a force to be reckoned with.” Before Yusuf was a force, he was a student and freelance photographer who paid out-of-pocket to travel and cover events. “He just wouldn’t go away,” Trotter says and then laughs heartily. “He would always be around. And he was very mature and very business-minded.” “That’s right!” Yusuf says. “I had to make it known that I was around.”
THE CONNECTOR: Yusuf Muhammad with Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter of The Roots (top) and Elle Varner. 36
usuf grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia but later moved to Southwest Philly. His father wanted him to see both worlds. “I learned to adjust very quickly,” Yusuf says. “I could not change the way I talked. I actually got a lot of respect from the street people. I think the main reason was because I never tried to be anything I wasn’t. I never tried to be street or hard.” facebook.com/JUMPphilly
He was homeschooled from the sixth to the ninth grade, in a household that stressed pride and self-awareness. “I think that’s why a lot of people think I’m cocky, confident or arrogant," he says. "I really, truly have pride and a knowledge of self.” His father also stressed education. Yusuf remembers having to create sentences using every word in the dictionary. He graduated from high school at age of 14 and then attended the Community College of Philadelphia. “My first friend in college was a stripper,” he says with a laugh. “ That shows you how much of a 14-year-old I was. I used to notice people looking at her but I didn’t think anything of it. She was the only girl who talked to me in the class.” Yusuf admits there was a time when school was the last thing on his mind. Then, when he was 17, his best friend of 15 years was murdered. “He was like the brother that I never had,” Yusuf says. "He was very social, very business-minded and I was very nerdy.” Yusuf began to take school more seriously. He doesn’t like disclosing too much when it comes to his long-time companion but that impacted Yusuf’s outlook on life, school and business. “His spirit lives in me,” Yusuf says. “I hope he’s proud of me and what I’m doing right now.” After finishing up at Community College of Philadelphia, Yusuf worked in the electronics field for three years. He then worked at the University of Pennsylvania Children’s Center as an administrative assistant. He was so good with the kids that he ended up becoming a teacher’s assistant. “I was broke,” he recalls. “I was moving from my apartment to University City when I saw a commercial saying, ‘Would you like to go to the Art Institute? Would you like to become a filmmaker?’” As a child who grew up loving Spike Lee films, that commercial was enough to reroute his life.
usuf enrolled in the Art Institute to study film. He immediately began making connections because of his photography. He caught the eye of Leah Kauffman, the founder of Phrequency.com who is now the Executive Producer of Entertainment and Lifestyle at Philly. com. She gave him assignments for Phrequency, a steady dose of encouragement and contacts for life. “I was immediately impressed by his friendly, outgoing attitude and his ability to form strong connections with people from behind the lens,” Kauffman says. “Yusuf is the kind of person who sees those opportunities and knows how to create something tangible from them. That’s a beautiful thing.” On the verge of graduation, Yusuf sat on his couch and pondered the many connections he had made — The Roots, Bun B, people from BET News and Philly.com. He said to himself, “I want to
throw a concert.” Most of his friends laughed at him. Then he called up Philly DJ and event producer DJ Ultraviolet who simply said, “Tell me everything you don’t have and start from there.” She lit the match that would spark one of Philly’s most successful, ongoing concert series, Veteran Freshman. The concerts showcase young artists who are “veterans” in the Philly music game but fresh faces to the audience. The first show, held at The Blockley in March 2011, had 15 rappers on the bill and attracted more than 450 people. “I didn’t know what I was doing,” Yusuf says with a laugh. But it was a success, so he did another show at The Blockley in October 2011. For Veteran Freshman 3 last June, he worked with Live Nation and drew a crowd of 850 people to the TLA. Now he wants bigger, better and bolder. His plans vary from more sponsorships to laying down the groundwork for a Veteran Freshman tour featuring all Philly artists. “No offense to Made In America but we don’t need them to have a music festival,” he states. “We can do our own. We don’t have our own. If no one else is going to do it, then I’m going to do it.”
is love for music grew out of his parents’ tastes. His father was into soul music and his mother filled their house with the sounds of jazz, afropunk, classical and oldies. “When she was at work, I would sneak and get, like, 15 of her CDs and I would record the songs onto tapes,” Yusuf recalls. “That’s how much I loved the music. I was willing to risk my life.” His varied musical background helped develop an ear that can’t tolerate much of the music on the radio today. “You know how they say C.R.E.A.M.?” he asks. “‘Cash Rules Everything Around Me?’ For me, it's ‘Cash Ruined Everything About Music.’ You don’t even have a choice. The choice is being made for you. If you listen to the radio now, all black women are strippers. All you are is your ass. Nothing more than that.” When it comes to the local Philly music scene, however, he gets that same impulse that made him sneak into his mother’s room when he was a kid. “I think the arts, culture and music here are so much broader,” he says. “I think it’s the city. We’re very hungry. Philadelphia has always played the underdog. I wish that Philly studied more. They would realize their worth. If they integrated all the aspects of what music is from a creative aspect, no one could fuck with Philadelphia.”
is love for his city is strong but it’s not always completely reciprocated. He’s aware of this and doesn’t skirt the issue. Since becoming something of a gatekeeper in the local scene, he has gained a lot of friends and a few enemies. facebook.com/JUMPphilly
Portrait by Michael Bucher. Other images courtesy of Yusuf Muhammad.
“The main thing that I hear about myself is ‘Yusuf is cocky. Yusuf is conceited,’” he says. “I’m going to celebrate my accomplishments whether you like that or not. They feel it’s self-absorbed to speak your success into existence. You should speak it in everything that you do.” It becomes clear this is an issue that’s been a major source of exasperation. “How can you hate someone who tells an artist, ‘I’m going to give you the largest canvas to paint on?’” Yusuf asks, throwing his hands in the air. “I don’t get it.” He insists that if you need to hate on him to be inspired, you are welcome to do so. “There are people who probably hate me to the point they want to see me dead,” he says. “That’s crazy. I can’t give any energy to that. I’m not giving energy to negative people anymore. The same energy that I give to them, I could give to chewing gum.”
#YUIESTAYBUSY: Local gatekeeper Yusuf Muhammad, behind the scenes and on the phone, as usual (above). Along the way, Yusuf has met a world of musical talent including Big K.R.I.T. (below), Esperanza Spalding (opposite page, from top), Cam'ron of The Diplomats and Common. Find out who he's hanging out with today by following Yusuf on Instagram @YusufYuie.
uccess hasn’t come easy. His frequent twitter hashtag, #YuieStayBusy, comes with a detrimental price. Last year alone, he was hospitalized four times for exhaustion. The most recent case was after putting on four shows in three days. “The doctor told me if I don’t slow down, I’m going to die at 28,” Yusuf says. “ That’s a big flaw. I don’t know when to stop.” He acknowledges that he doesn’t see himself living very long, yet everything he does is for the long-term. He’s working on his legacy and that includes having a child. He gets animated describing his ideal woman, who, based on the female comparisons he lists, JUMPphilly.com
would be named Beyoncé Obama-Badu Bassett with “a little Ciara when she was doing that nasty dance in that video.” “A queen,” he says with a broad grin on his face. “A real genuine woman. For some men, they work their career to get the women. I’m working on my career to get the family.”
espite his love for Philly, Yusuf says he will likely be moving on soon. “I need to build bridges to Philly," he says. “People don’t respect Philly as a music market. They don’t respect its artistry. They use it when it’s beneficial to them but they don’t bring anything back.” After being name-dropped to the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, Yusuf is now planning a full-fledged music festival to be held at the city-run Dell Music Center. Veteran Freshman: Summer Session will focus on local music, as well as promote education, healthy living and non-violence. He begins to list off other objectives, counting them on his fingers. “I want to see Philadelphia be recognized as a true market in the music world," he says. “I want Philly to have an A3C where people from all around the world come every year for a local, home-grown festival. I want Veteran Freshman to be worldwide. I want to be able to inspire a generation of adults who love what they do and do what they love.” At this point, he runs out of fingers. He quickly adds, “And I want to be known as an amazing, amazing father.” 39
Eat the turnbuckle is not a wrestling gimmick band.intensity and disregard for ones well being is not left on a stage, or stored with the amps and drums at A p r a c t c i e s p a c e . E a t t h e t u r n b u c k l e is A f r a t e r n i t y of m e n h a r d e n e d by TATTOOing, FIGHTING, WORKING, PLAYING and drinking. with life long devotions to inflicting pain one way or another UPPON themselves. it just so happens they also all dig on extreme pro wrestling.the extreme brand was born in south p hiladlephia 20 years ago. This group perpetrates acts of violence ON each other In TRIBUTE TO THE EXTREME TRADITION AS THEIR FAST AND AGRESSIVE GUITARS CREATE A SOUND TRACK TO THE MAYHEM. Being a life long wrestling fan myself i jumped at the opprotunity to catch these dudes perform AT A MATCH. MATTITUDE
DECEMBER 29, 2012 NOON ARRIVEd PROMPTLY ONLY to realize we’re not gonna get to the event until 3pm, bell at 7pm. 1:47 snack attacked wawa 2:15 picked up the port richmond boys 3:05 we made it to the PA NATIONAL GUARD ARMORY 3:07 saw new jack talking to some one in the parking lot, chubbs(guitar) did a hilarious impersonation from the safety of the van with the windows up. 3:31 all loaded out, bell time was still 3.5 hours away. 4:37 attempted nap in back of van, cut my hand on a spool of barbed wire. 4:40 wraped my hand in paper towels, damn cut would not clot. 6:15 dorky opening act played THE WHO’S ”LONG LIVE ROCK”, bell time still seemed far off. 7:10 show started. was really impressed by how many moving pieces it takes to put on a live show/ internet ppv. Take in most of the matches standing next to “the franchise” shane douglas. 7:48 One of many trips outside to smoke. had a good time SIZING UP WRESTLERS I've only seen on TV or you tube. 9:15 OUT OF BOREDOM I went TO THE SNACK BAR. PURCHASED ONE HOT DOG AND ATE IT NEXT TO FORMER WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION RAVEN. 10 ish after many hours turnbuckle began to suit up behind the van. 10:55 the ring crew started assembling the steel cage, where three tag teams later did batt le both in and out of the cage! 11;15 Larry legend gave turnbuckle a proper introduction. as the band began shredding, Th e c rowd rai sed cell phones and devil horns alike. there was no barrier, no stage. a half a dozen men covered i n beards and tattoos crooned to an eager audience who awaited blood. 11:18 Vocalist jag dug a fork out of his jacket and and into bassist capt ain hook’ s forehead. like in extreme style wrestling tHE spot is p redeter mined but the violence is real. 11:24 JAG Took A C HEESE GRADER T O FEL LOW VOCALIST CHRIS FEAR’S HEAD. AFTER FEAR sells the spot, a streak of crimson ran down his face, just like the bouts this group derives much of their inspiration. 11:27 the small crowd that were closest to the performance gave mixed reaction s amongst the individuals i would not have normally seen at a hardcore show. One fan, an older gentlemen stomped around like a seasoned pro. A younger fan yelled over the feed back that the band sucked while flipping them off. 11:29 I HANDed JAG AN ACOUSTIC GUITAR. 11:30 JAG PUNISHED E.T.T’S LONE JOBBER BY PUTTING HIS HEAD THRU THE GUiTAR. 11:32 the music stoppED. Ca ptain hook splayED e.t.t.’s referee on a door that WAS supported by two saw horses. SHLAK( F I G .1) C L I MBED A LADDER T O s ub mit T H E TOP OF THE ARENA BLEACHERS. HE sipped A BEER, SALUTED T H E C ROWD AND Launched HIS BODY TOWARD THE VICTIM BELOW. CRUNCH. THE BAND Played T HE LAST SONG WHILE THE REFEREE Laid LIFELESS. THE BAND GATHERED ANXIOUSLY afterwards TO COMPARE NOTES ABOUT THE SET AND CHECK THAT EVERYONE WASN’T TOO FUCKED UP. NO TRIP TO THE HOSPITAL THIS TIME. after MIDNIGHT SHOW W AS OVER, I Anticipated THE VAN WoULD NOT l eave FOR A Least ANOTHER HOUR, SO I Caught A RIDE BACK TO SOUTH PHILLY FROM THE G R E A T N O R TH E A S T W I T H R E N O W N E D I N D Y W R E S T L I N G P H O T O G R A P H E R Z I A H I L T E Y .
Food That Rocks
The Beautiful World of Crêpes and Dancing Thad Suzenski, from PhillyPhoodie.com, indulges in the French food at Beau Monde and the good times at L'Etage. Photos by Gabrielle Lavin.
Chicago eatery. Caiola and Salama saw the potential in Philly. am not a crêpe person. I have nothing against them, I just Their plan was to build a restaurant first and then expand to the never developed a passion for thin pancakes with fillings second level, and build an apartment on the third floor. In 2003, folded inside. The allure was just not there. That said, I’m L’Etage was born. The concept was for a lounge bar with ambient doing my best to keep an open mind and an empty stomach. music that had the capacity of Beau Monde is an anchor on the converting to a stage for live events, corner of 6th and Bainbridge streets, which they now host regularly. one block south of South Street, that also houses the infamous club L’Etage (“the level above” en Francais). n addition to using the menu to The restaurant and venue are owned exercise their artistic muscles, and operated by Francophiles Jim the building itself is a work Caiola and David Salama. They made of art. A native of Bolivia, Salama the jump from working in the arts to studied design at the Tyler School the restaurant world in 1998 when of Art. With an impeccable eye for they opened their crêperie. quality finishes, he has taken care of “Jim had a degree in hotel and each aesthetic detail in the interior restaurant management from WORK OF ART: Jim Caiola (standing) and David Salama, and exterior right down to the lavish Johnson and Wales and I was owners of Beau Monde and the upstairs club, L'Etage. sign at the entrance. passionate about food,” say Salama. Given the duo’s passion for art and “Together we opened the restaurant and pooled (our) resources design, it’s no surprise that the kitchen offerings are visually to build Beau Monde.” stunning and incredibly delicious. To start, a couple of cocktails The inspiration for the crêpe-heavy menu came from Caiola, from the full list, including the Horse’s Neck (an amber drink of who cut his teeth working summers at his uncle’s crêperie in Makers Mark, bitters and ginger beer) and the Coquette Punch Chicago, rising through the ranks from busboy to head waiter (Beefeater Gin, Grand Marnier, lemon and a splash of club soda). by his early teens. The traditional French pancake served as the There is no way to start this meal without the traditional perfect canvas and allowed a broad range of creativity at the French onion soup. I’m always a sucker for this cheese-laden
IRRESISTIBLE: Apples, toasted almonds dunked in brown sugar and caramel served on a crepe, topped with ice cream. indulgence. Then, based upon recommendations by owners and staff, I whittle down the plethora of crêpe choices to two. Before anything else, I want to mention portions. They are large, even by my fat-kid standards. The grilled chicken is packed with leeks, olives and lemon butter-drizzled goat cheese. The tangy cheese plays well with the briny olives, and the lemon butter adds some richness and acidity, and really brightens the dish. The seared scallops crêpe is paired with seasoned tomatoes and sauce and hinted with herb butter. Both contrasting dishes provide a tasteful adventure. When dinner is finished, I can’t imagine having dessert. Still, given my commitment to journalistic excellence and my penchant for culinary gluttony, I order a sweet crêpe — apples, toasted almonds dunked in brown sugar and caramel, topped with ice cream. Highly recommended. The deconstructed apple pie is made of apples, which means it is a nutritious choice, right? Whatever the case, it’s impossible to stop eating. There is a complimentary, parfait-type layered dessert (noncrêpe) that the waitress brings out. It is prepared Neapolitan style, with layers of fresh berries and cream served with a side of cabernet sorbet, a decidedly French — and delicious — twist. Before I know what was happening, both plates are empty.
ow let’s say you are the type of person who knows how to exercise some self-control. You could do much worse than taking a date up to the second floor. There are a variety of avant garde performances at L’Etage ranging from live music to DJ nights, from cabaret events to poetry nights ( you can also order from the Beau Monde menu up there). Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret is a regular performer and there are dance parties every Friday and Saturday night. “The original plan was to open L’Etage as a venue for cabaret acts, where you could drink cognac and indulge in formal desserts,” says Caiola, “but there was no audience for that. So we expanded that vision.” Speaking of vision, last summer, Salama and Caiola won the lease to run the legendary Manhattan eatery, Tavern on the Green, which has been closed for three years. Renovations at the Central Park landmark are underway now, with an expected reopening in the fall. While the intention of L’Etage was to be more upscale, the current iteration supports a wide variety of local, creative talent. It’s a natural extension of the owners interests. Whether you come for the food and stay for the derriere shaking, or come for an open mic night and end up ordering some entremets, you won’t be disappointed.
Beau Monde/L'Etage is located at 624 S. 6th Street. Learn more at creperie-beaumonde.com. Call 215-592-9656 for reservations. JUMPphilly.com
Fueling Up Headed to the TLA or Dobbs or Lickety Split or any of the other South Street area music venues? There’s a world of great eating down that way. Here are a few of our faves. - Thad Suzenski
For a late-night bite that is vegetarian friendly, it’s hard to beat Maoz for falafel, even if the place is part of a worldwide chain. The variety of ingredients available gratis at the salad bar is worth the trip alone. This place is perfect for when your show at the TLA lets out. It's open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. 248 South Street (215) 625-3500
Top image of Chill Moody at the TLA by G.W. Miller III. Other images by Gabrielle Lavin.
Food That Rocks
Wings, margaritas, Spanish fries and burgers fill out the menu at this popular dive bar/restaurant/date spot. It’s perfect for pregaming before seeing that metal/hip-hop/folk band your cousin knew from middle school playing at Lickety Split later. And the landmark blue building is right next to the TLA. 344 South Street (215) 923-6180
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Jim’s Steaks One of the big names in the meat-on-a-roll scene in the city, they offer a finely-chopped steak that’s made right in front of you. The shop is usually packed with clueless out-of-towners who don’t know what whiz is but it’s still worth a visit. 400 South Street (215) 928-1911
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Program Destinations Dublin London – Optional credit-bearing internship component Los Angeles – Credit-bearing internship component New York City – Credit-bearing internship component
Try the world famous chicken cheesesteak and wash it down with the infamous Gremlin, a grape juice mixed with lemonade concoction that blends sweet and tart. Order at the window and people-watch as you devour this gut bomb. And look out for Questlove. He loves this place. 337 South Street (215) 923-4337
Hot Diggity Probably the best hot dog in the city on any given day. They may not be open at closing time but for building an encased-meat base for the night’s indulgences, you can’t go wrong. Owner Keith Garabedian holds a Ph.D. in musicology. Occasionally they have live music outside when the weather allows. 630 South Street (267) 886-9253
Unusual UnusualApproach Approach
Lemme ask you some questions? I‘ll tell you no lies All lies, that‘s what I want Some of these are lies Ha, that'll be the title of the whole interview,
Some Some of of these these are are lies. lies.
Ben Woodward of Space 1026 is basketball tall and keeps a pocket full of pigeons, for sticky situations. artwork : Ben Woodward
Ok so, you’re a master screen printer. I am, that’s a weird thing to say. I mean, that’s what I realized. I realized, that’s a truth. The thing about being a master screenprinter is, and I should’ve known this when I was a kid when I was like “I’m gonna make t-shirts for my zine!”, if you build your own lab, you qualify as a master screen printer. There is no… Bullshit! But, go ahead. But no, that’s the thing. If you build your own lab and actually sell prints that come out of that lab, you are literally… Only literally, Yes, a master screen printer. But nobody ever wants to say that. And I remember being in a room with people for the Philagraphika, when it was the Philadelphia Printmakers Organization and stuff, with all these people that had YEARS and knew how to do crazy litho techniques that I’d never even heard of and went to Italy and studied under guys that were a 1000 years old and took lunch at 10, you know what I mean? All these super crazy artisans, you know what I mean? I was like “I use spray paint for my stencils for my screen prints”. BUT I had built my own lab so I was like “I qualify in this room, by the barest of standards. With my, six fluorescent light banks that I bought from Home Depot and a hunk of plexiglass”. What!?! You see, I know what that’s for, but at the same time that’s still something I have yet to do, and I’ve screenprinted professionally, so that’s another level. You did that! Well yeah, the pulling the squeegee part… and the doing the drawing part are such a small part of screen printing, I guess that’s true. But that’s the thing, well, screen printing is a weird thing. Where you’re like “I have to spend a lot of time looking at this thing”, even if it’s three colors, you have to look at it three times longer than… I like that you say “even if it’s three colors”… Because, that’s crazy to me. That amount of colors, or? Yeah, Dealing with that.
“You know what I hate?
Well, if you go to art school… There’s a design thing, Andrew Jeffrey Wright had this class in art school and I remember him being like “you can use any three colors and if you use the color wheel, it doesn’t matter what three colors they are, it should look right” your eye likes threes, y’know. And you think about it and well, we’re a bipolar being that thinks in base ten, y’know, and three colors shouldn’t work, but three is the magic number! Well yeah, that’s the whole golden mean or whatever thing… 1 to 3. And then well honestly you use white and that’s 4. But that’s cheating… That’s art school nerd shit, stop. Why don’t I push my glasses up a lil higher on my nose. What color was the paper!?! Ha ok, Jayson Musson once said to me that your show at the Spector Gallery was monumental to him, or life changing, or a game changer or something for him. Do you remember that show? Of course you do. Do you think about how your work affects people when you’re art making? Yes, that’s a big one. Because you’re not doing it to not tell somebody something. You’re communicating. Art is “I thought about this, and then I did all this other stuff” This is what happened! It’s that whole 90% perspiration, 10% inspiration or whatever, there’s all these expressions you can do. And then I have a really good friend that is like…
The catch phrases” y’know, “Whatever!, I’m making $28/hr they can take as long as they want” because I work in a union now. There’s nothing but catch phrases for what happens. Everybody’s grandpa already grew up in that. I understand, I‘ve worked for a moving company before. Yeah, “If we’re not going upstairs, we’re going down”. Anywhere you work it’s gonna be constant catch phrases. And not to quote ODB, but yeah, “we do it for the seeds”. Am I just throwing that out there into the void? Or am I throwing it out there into the void because I hope someone might see it? Yes, I want somebody to see it and I want them to be like, “WOW!” And the thing I want them to take away is that you can fuck it up and not do it right, and if you not do it right enough, you’ll be alright. Just keep fucking it up enough and you’ll be alright. Yes! Next question. Are you ever going to animate your characters, and if you did, who would you want to animate it? I did do an animation once for Fuel TV, for an ad spot I did. Which, I actually really like a lot. It’s on my website if you wanna look at it (http://pinkandyellowstudio.com) and I got Jesse O, Jesse Olanday Oh yeah, I know Jesse O. Because 1. I trust him 2. he understands my work ethic, so if I hand things in late, it’s ok… because I was like “I was really working on this, this, the bumble bee’s wings” and he’s like “alright, alright, that’s cool that you had to get that right” y’know. But I went to school for animation… That’s the thing, so I like animation a lot. But if I was going to get somebody to animate it? That’s a weird question… What I’m thinking is that the characters that I see you produce, they’re in a world, they are a world… Fraggles, that’s a world, they have kind of a uniform…
They have their own rules physics… and
Yeah, that’s a weird one because part of me loves three frame cycle animation, when there is just weird, y’know, “oh, that unicorn is humping that mailbox, in the background” People that are into that kind of stupid detail, you know what I mean? Noooo I don’t, but I love it! People that are like “I’m cool with layers” you know what I mean? “as long as they’re dumb layers” I love dumb basic animation. Right, and this is what I think it would vacillate between, that aspect and then the possibility for something like Pixar. Yeah, because Pixar gets too fascinated by textures and hair and that stuff. And… what’s his name? The guy that does Baby Cakes or any of that stuff, I love that shit! That is amazing, I just especially like the writing in that. The writing is amazing, but to me the animation is so economical and spectacularly… they’re like haiku animations. Literally, I was watching one frame of animation for 30 seconds and then turned and it was that for 30 seconds, and then it went back to the original frame for 30 seconds with a lil squiggle or something… y’know. And that’s the kinda shit where I’m like wow, honestly… to sit down and draw that, that’s an afternoon. You know what I mean? No, no, but I guess so. Say you’re making a minute and a half Youtube video, and all you have to do with this amazing writing to animate it, you did, one day worth of drawing. And you’re done. Like, “oh, I just cycle this in after effects and I’m cool.” And that’s a whole school of animation that I’m just like, “WOW” that’s so... JUMPphilly.com
I agree, it cuts out need for the other shit. It’s like Kurt Vonnegut’s writing, everything is in paragraphs, that are easily understood, with really simple sentences, it’s like writing for idiots. With hilarious outcomes. And oh also, it’s science fiction and it’s rad! and you’re giving a giant middle finger to the whole western civilization, BUT you did it in really simple paragraphs, so that’s rad. And then there’s the whole other side of that like Miyazaki Japanimation stuff where they spend 20 minutes on somebody’s panties. And this crazy so-much-stuff-going-on, the wind in the background is blowing the grass and somebody spent a week and a half on grass doing this (wavy motions) and it’s not even roto-sculpted. Somebody had to sit in the field, look at the grass, and think about it and then interpret it. And then that guy is just a background guy. A nonexistant. There are 8 people working on how the panties fold. That’s what I’m saying, there’s that so you would be more inclined to go towards… Brad Neely! That’s his name. Only on the fact that I live in a America and although I married a Korean woman, I know there are 800 Korean animators that could… So lets nail it down. So the answer to the question is, I don’t think about my drawings, I mean, I studied animation and I love animation, but I don’t think about the way that I draw as animation. Because it’s kinda…
I understand that. Because now everybody thinks of things like, "well, what’s the next thing?" That’s why I came up with that question. Because I don’t think about, I’m not trying to be on YouTube, I’m trying to be on 8th and Spring Garden because that’s more fun to me. It’s more rewarding. I lit up this block because it’s hilarious, with doing something fun and illegal and weird, as opposed to “well, how do I get more people to check this shit out?” That’s the thing, you have to determine what’s more of your concern. I like to write graffitti, I’m not trying to be a king, I’m not trying to be all city, and I’m not trying to make people come after me, that’s the thing. I just want to do stuff that’s ok with me, I’m not trying to leave my neighborhood, I’m not trying to leave places I go… Or feel threatened in those places. I just want to go places and be like, “yeah, I put something there too”. That’s ok with me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m friends with people that have world wide graffitti rep or world wide art rep. I remember having this argument with a friend a long time ago, would you rather be respected or would you rather be famous? Oh yeah yeah, that’s like Taoist whatever? Yeah, and I also had the same friend or group of friends ask, would you rather have pizza on blowjob mountain? or a blowjob on pizza mountain?
interview : Kurt Hunte For a more in-depth experience of Ben Woodward's work, please visit
http://pinkandyellowstudio.com p://pinkandyellowstudio.com htt
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