The JUMP Off
Leaves Unbridled Photo by Megan Matuzak.
Megan Matuzak learns about The Spinning Leaves latest release, Head Aglow.
In the basement of the Wolf Building at 12th and Callowhill, a group of friends, family and newcomers are bathed by the cool purple lights in Underground Arts, a new creative incubator. By the merch table, Michael Baker’s red suit and shimmering ruby neck pendant draw people to the 7-inch copy of The Spinning Leaves latest EP Head Aglow. Barbara Gettes' boots click and clack as she approaches the table, and two musical architects of the indie/folk project, The Spinning Leaves, are united. “There is an honesty that came out with the album,” Gettes begins “Our first album was an explosion of love,” Baker continues as he adjusts his purple Hawaiian shirt covered in fish and seashells. “It was happy, magical and exciting!” “And dreamy,” Gettes adds. “This one is serious and honest,” Baker says, and then takes another drag from his cigarette. “It’s about power unbridled, fire and dreams.” Head Aglow carves out the reality of the pursuit of love, music and life for the Spinning Leaves, Gettes notes with sincerity. The EP was released in late April, near the anniversary of the start of a cross-country tour last year. In the months after that adventure and their return to Philadelphia in August, The Spinning
Leaves wrote Head Aglow, re-establishing the relationship of the bandmates and their ability to communicate through music. “It’s about relationships,” Baker explains as he glances at Barbara. “When two people come together, they can just mess with each other in a zillion different ways. It’s the most beautiful thing to not be alone but at the same time you can hurt each other as much as you can help. It’s a beautiful, spacey waltz, a meditation on the fact that there are two people right beside each other and it’s beautiful that they are together. But there is beauty and ugliness to it all the same time.” Gettes and Baker sing together throughout the track “Knife Arms.” They speak to each other in the song, revealing some painful truths. The track traces the ups and downs of a weathering relationship, which was hard to sing about at first Gettes admits. The second track, “Shades of Red,” is about a burning fire. Baker notes that it was the only song they wrote together completely. Although they had so much to say to each other, music was the only way to fix the distance in their own lives. “We had lost sight that music was our joy,” he says. “We were talking about what we were doing instead of doing it.” Photo by Silvertower Photography.
Captain Of The Boat Ryan Temple talks to Ryan ‘Sib’ Cybulski, former frontman for Spanish Blue, about his new project, Rowboat Casino. Rowboat Casino is an unusual name for a hip-hop project. What’s the meaning behind it? On the surface, you have a rowboat, which is a vessel completely capable of being operated by one person but with room for passengers who are always at the mercy of the man with the paddles. Coming from such a large band (Spanish Blue), where each and every decision had to be accepted by 4 or 5 other bandmates, I always longed for that sole responsibility. There's no one to blame or praise for any failures or successes except the captain of the boat. On the other hand, the casino represents not necessarily the risk involved in venturing out on your own, but the potential that lies within that decision. Sometimes the odds are in your favor. Sometimes they're not. Spanish Blue was a full band. How has working almost exclusively with various local artists and producers affected your writing style? It hasn't affected it much at all. Either I write in waves or sudden bursts of inspiration. Always have. I can go weeks at a time without opening my notebook once, then fill a third of it in just a couple of days. Most of the writing was, and still is, done in the wee hours of the night with some headphones, a jar of kush, and case of beer – and then just applied to whatever suits it best. Who are the Philly artists you’ve yet to work with but would like to? Well, I've recently had the honor of linking up with the legendary DJ Too Tuff from Philly's own Tuff Crew through my long-time friend, and fellow hip-hop artist, Bad News Bars. To me that's crazy considering we use to JUMPphilly.com
play his Philly anthem "My Part of Town" when we were like 11 to 12 years old until the cassette would break. It was literally one of the classics that made me fall in love with the whole culture of hip-hop. Then Spanish Blue covered the song at live shows and it became a fan favorite. And now, Too Tuff will be on the ones and twos for my next Rowboat show. Life has an inspiring way of coming full circle. As for artists I would love to work with now, I'd have to say anyone from the entire Army of the Pharoahs camp. I'm not sure if my style is hardcore enough for the likes of Vinnie Paz (JMT) and Reef the Lost Cauze, but those are the artists that I listen to the most and who inspire me to make in-your-face music that comes right from the heart, while preserving the purity of what has become a diluted movement and culture. 15