SINCLAIR – VINYL THEATRE – DADS – THIS LEGEND – LIGHTS – COLONY HOUSE & MORE
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editor-in-chief jenn stookey
co-founder â€“ art director cara bahniuk co-founder â€“ photographer ashley osborn online editor nick yacovazzi copy editor courtney dondelinger digital marketing oivia adams co-founder mckenzie hughes contributing photographers
cara bahniuk, matt burke, dan deslover, brendon donahue, courtney dondelinger, tarina doolittle, jordan fischels, brad heaton, megan leetz, anjel lopez, nicole mago, charlie martel, david mullis, laura murray, ally newbold, savana ogburn, ashley osborn, heather phillips, petey place, sam polonsky, danny raybon, sam roenfeldt, sam san roman, kaiden seven, daniel shippey, nicole fara silver and amy willard
contributing writers (online & publication)
haley black, jennifer boylen, geoff burns, haley buske, colleen casey, madison convey, rebecca del castillo, trevor figge, tamara fuentes, jessica klinner, catt kruger, jordyn lockwood, daisy marietta, zoe marquedant, bridjet mendyuck, theresa pham, christina santamaria, annette schaefer, alyssa schmidt, elizabeth tolbert, abby welsh and nick yacovazzi
digital marketing team
olivia adams, kelly basdavanos, geoff burns, tim mcgovern, megan shea and catie suliga
tegan burkhard, caroline hall, michelle loebsack, samia mirza and sarah akomanyi
_________________________ website twitter highlightmagazine.net @highlightzine facebook instagram facebook.com/highlightmagazine @highlightzine _________________________ thank you
ferras, cory andersen, capitol records, warner brothers records, brixton agency, fueled by ramen, atlantic records, total assault, the catalyst publicity group, press here publicity, chris hansen, whereabouts unknown, bad timing records, big picture media and every single person who believes in this magazine and continues to support us!
_________________________ 06 ferras jordan fischels
07 lights charlie martel
sinclair sam polonsky
vinyl theatre sam polonsky
dads nicole fara silver
charli xcx kohl murdock
colony house heather phillips
this legend sam polonsky HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 3
05 this or that 08 clothing highlight 11 label highlight 12 venue highlight 14 highlighted artists 15 film highlight 17 industry highlight 18 nonprofit highlight 20 sinclair 24 vinyl theatre 26 dads 28 this lengend 30 lights 34 colony house 38 ferras 48 tour round up k. flay mo charli xcx walk the moon x ambassadors ok go 58 reviews
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COLONY HOUSE 34
24 VINYL THEATRE
48 LIVE PHOTOS
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28 THIS LEGEND
COMPANY: Whereabouts Unknown STAFF: Jon Medina, Founder, Designer and the jack-of-all-trades LOCATION: Cincinnati, Ohio WEBSITE: whereaboutsunknown.bigcartel.com
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HOW DID WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN BEGIN? The name Whereabouts Unknown was inspired by my love of travel and thirst for adventure. As a young adult, I am a true believer of going out and exploring all the places I have never been to, while learning about myself and obtaining knowledge of the world around me. You can only learn so much by taking the same beaten path, make a new path and make your own discoveries. Whereabouts Unknown started my freshman year in college as just an idea. Now into my senior year of college, it’s what I focus most of my time on. Being a supporter of many brands within the scene, none of them spoke to me on a personal level, so I created my own company. Now, I am slowly working on crafting Whereabouts Unknown products that will spark the drive of those looking to explore and discover. WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOUR BRAND REPRESENTS? My brand represents the love of doing the things that make you happy. There is no better feeling than finding the little things in life that make everything worth it. Life is too short to be worried about money and all the things that drive our lives to be unhappy. As long as I can inspire people to go out and explore everything the world has to offer, then my job is done. No matter where this company goes, everything is worth it.
WHY DID YOU START YOUR BRAND? There are too many companies that are focused on making a quick buck or trying to sell you something that is trendy. I’m going to produce products that I wholeheartedly believe in and would proudly wear myself. The saying “quality over quantity” is one of my biggest aspirations in creating a topnotch product. In that case, I would rather release ten of the same quality item than sell people an item that wont last after the first wash. There is a need for people to know that the customer is being thought of during the entire process of the product being designed, screen printed and shipped. THREE PERSONAL FAVORITE DESIGNS? These designs you see accompanying this article are actually a sneak peak of the designs that will be printed within the following weeks. Some of them are subject to change, but they are some of favorite and most different designs I have done to date. Please be on the look out! WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CHECK OUT YOUR BRAND? If your interest has been sparked by what you’ve read and seen, then I highly suggest you check out what we have to offer. No matter if you are or aren’t interested in this brand, I challenge you to go out and explore all the things you haven’t seen. You won’t know what makes you smile unless you go away, constantly seek and stay ambitious. f whereaboutsunknownohio i @whereaboutsunknownohio
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YOU MAY WANT TO LISTEN TO... New York City is home to a plethora of independent labels. Frenchkiss Records stands out among these with its impressive lineup of wildly popular indie bands such as Passion Pit, Bloc Party, and Freelance Whales. Les Savy Fav bassist, Syd Butler, started the label in 1999 to release the band’s music, and it has since grown into a powerhouse with publishing and distributing divisions as well as an online indie comedy program, FKR.TV. Now in its 15th year of existence, Frenchkiss is thriving more than ever. Check out some of the newer acts keeping this label alive and well:
Though their debut self-titled album was just released this year, Drowners have already managed to open shows for bands like Arctic Monkeys and Cage the Elephant and even snagged a coveted slot at Coachella this past April. Frontman Matt Hitt moved to New York City to try his hand at modeling (with which he has been quite successful), and in his spare time, he started writing and playing songs with band mates Jack Ridley and Erik Lee Snyder. With the addition of drummer Joe Brodie, the band’s lineup was finalized, and they established their place in the British punk-inspired indie world.
Listen to: “Luv, Hold Me Down”
Johnny Aries is one of the newest additions to Frenchkiss’ roster—as an individual act, that is. His band, The Drums, have been signed to the label since 2011, but Unbloomed is Aries’ first solo attempt. The UK native recently relocated to New York, but English influences shine through in his melancholic, Morrissey-esque songs both musically and lyrically. Themes of heartache and existentialism resonate throughout the album, which could easily be the soundtrack to an ’80s coming-of-age teen film. File this one under albums that are perfect for driving around aimlessly at night.
Listen To: “Unbloomed”
A female-fronted self-proclaimed “trash pop” band, Tweens pulls off fuzzy, noisy, garage punk flawlessly. The Cincinnati natives (Bridget Battle on guitar and vocals, Peyton Copes on bass, and Jerri Queen on drums) have quickly made a name for themselves—in their two years of playing music so far, they’ve gotten the attention of bands such as Black Lips and The Breeders and toured all around the country. Their freshman album is full of fast-paced, energetic songs that evoke ‘90s riot grrrl nostalgia. Listening to Tweens will make you wish you still had a curfew—just so that you could stay out too late and break it.
Listen to: “Forever”
WORDS: Christina Santamaria
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VENUE HIGHLIGHT SUSQUEHANNA BANK CENTER - CAMDEN, NJ
WHY PLAY HERE?
Despite it being in Camden, N.J., this venue is well known to those who live in the state or come across from Philadelphia to catch a show. After two name changes, Susquehanna bought the naming rights in 2008, and it was renamed to the Susquehanna Bank Center. It is near the Camden Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, Wiggins Park and the Adventure Aquarium so there are plenty of things to do before and after the concert, and the view of Philly adds a great backdrop to a wonderful concert in the summer. The venue is also a Live Nation venue, making it a top venue that many artists come to play at especially during the summer season.
This amphitheater is well known for being used all year round thanks to its conversion into a climate controlled indoor theater during the winter. During the summer, fans can sit in the lawn section and still be able to see a great concert, while in the winter the indoor theater seats 7,000 people but still provides an intimate experience that can sometimes be hard to find. Its accessibility from Philly and various parts of New Jersey gives fans the opportunity to come and visit this amazing venue giving fans everything they need to enjoy a great show.
t@SusquehannaBank f facebook.com/SusquehannaBankCenter
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SEPTEMBER 4TH, 2015
Slipknot & Korn
5 Seconds of Summer REVIEW: Tamara Fuentes
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ARTISTS DALAL Location: Austria Current Single: “Suddenly”
The wonderfully talented Dalal Bruchmann is making a name for herself in the United States. The pop artist from Austria blends styles similar to Kylie Minogue and Justin Timberlake. The powerhouse vocalist has been performing ever since she was a kid and plans on sharing her music with everyone both at home and abroad.
SHAPES & COLORS Location: Detroit, MI Current Single: “Exhale” Members: Travis Bobier – Vocals/Guitar, Bob Allers – Bass/ Vocals, Mike Morris – Guitar, Kyle Labuta – Guitar, Zack Waggener – Drums Shapes & Colors has been waiting to exhale, and they might just get the chance. The pop-rock outfit from Detroit, Mich. mixes high-energy pop-punk riffs while holding to transient styling similar to Anberlin. The band is also in the midst of working on their newest EP with producer, Aaron Sprinkle (Anberlin, Emery, The Almost) and is crowd-funding the project through Indiegogo.
UNDERWATER TIGER Location: Horseheads, NY Current Single: “Hole In The Sky” Members: Matt Furstoss – Drums/Vocals, Ron Furstoss – Bass, Anthony Furstoss – Guitar, Nate Miner – Guitar/Vocals, Andrew Miller – Guitar Underwater Tiger shares a brotherly bond with each other, both in music and in family. Forming in 2010, the alternative rock outfit formed when the Furstoss and Miner brothers came together to create Anberlin and Jimmy Eat World infused melodies with powerful lyrics and guitars.
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WORDS: Nick Yacovazzi
It can be difficult for a movie to stand out among the world of special effects, hype-laden movies that seem to come out every week now. Even the book-to-silver-screen genre has become increasingly popular, putting the pressure on the author to write a great script and the director, actors, and producer to create a movie that does the book justice. So, when it was announced that Gillian Flynn’s bestseller “Gone Girl’ would be made into a movie, thousands of readers rejoiced and groaned inwardly simultaneously. It’s interesting to see “Gone Girl” described as trashy, or empty entertainment, when it’s such a complex, immersive story and film. I didn’t know much about the movie going into it, which gave me no expectations save what I’d heard from friends and the media about it being a stellar film. I wasn’t disappointed. (I waited until the film was over to start reading the book, interested to see the other side of the story and any discrepancies.) “Gone Girl” is a story that will leave you sitting on the edge of your seat for the entire duration. And prepare yourself for a long journey, because the movie clocks in at about two and a half hours. There are so many twists and unexpected discoveries that you will find yourself constantly surprised. It captures your attention and refuses to let go for the entirety of the film. It’s a combination of trying to stay on track and being unable to look away. David Fincher shows his genius ways yet again with the complex, non-linear story he spins. One of the things I always notice in movies is the music. When a movie hits theaters, it may not be the first thing out in the reviews, but many people find a soundtrack important, and in this case, choosing Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) to be involved was a great choice. The way he put the music together for this film added an almost indescribable seductive element every step of the way. Although the movie has such a long running time, the journey never seemed to drag, but instead was swift and captivating. Its deeply demented and dark depths will have viewers shocked. Needless to say, this movie is not for the faint of heart and not suggested for families. As it begins, you feel you’re seeing the tale of a married couple, Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike), who are very much in love. Between her beginning diary entries laying out their meeting and falling in love and the frequent pornographic sex scenes, you can’t help but think what a darling couple they are. When Nick realizes she’s gone missing, everything begins to unravel. The movie escalates quickly, with an ever-looming darkness above. Soon the question becomes, “Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?” The consistent foreshadowing hints at what’s to come, but never gives it away entirely. Save for readers of the book, the entire theater was floored and shocked when the revelation came. Readers and viewers have said that the couple knew each other better than any other couple, which is how they could ruin one another, but as the truth becomes apparent you will likely question this idea. Throughout the film, the acting is generally lackluster. Affleck is unbelievable as a man whose wife has disappeared or been killed, even if they had been having difficulties. Whether or not you believe he killed her, it’s still an unimpressive attempt. Fortunately, Pike picks up the slack, shining, and making up for anywhere that he lacks. The unnecessary and abrasive news anchor character played by Missi Pyle only added to the list of lackluster characters. There are a few actors who truly show their skill and embody their characters completely, including Margo Dunne, Nick’s sister, played by Carrie Coon, and Detective Ronda Boney, played by Kim Dickens. Though the film manages to keep you captivated for every single minute with its complexities, there were several disturbing aspects that were unnecessary to continuity and the story. For the drama/thriller genre it’s extremely graphic, both with gore and sex. The scenes border on pornographic; you keep wondering when they’re going to end and looking around uncomfortably. This isn’t an X-Rated movie, yet the R rating seems to be too mild. If you’re planning to take a teenager or young adult to this film, consider that the warnings for “strong sexual content” and “bloody violence” pale in comparison to the actual film. REVIEW: Daisy Marietta
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NAME: Chris Hansen LOCATION: Huntington Beach, CA JOB: No Sleep Records Founder
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL STORY/WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE INDUSTRY?
I was the guy that tried to play instruments and just could not for the life of me – I was horrible. Figured since I loved music and I couldn’t play music myself I’d start something to support people that could.
WHAT DO YOU THINK WAS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT STARTING A RECORD LABEL?
Finding the time to do this on top of everything else that was going on in my day-to-day life with work and everything else. That was a very difficult thing, but I was able to make it work and the sleepless nights were worth it.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE SIGNING YOUR FIRST ARTIST? AND ARE YOU JUST AS EXCITED (IF) NOW AS YOU WERE THEN WHEN SIGNING A NEW ARTIST?
It was super exciting and fun to sign / work with our first artist, and it is something that definitely carries over to every new artist we work with. Every band/etc that we work with I truly love and want to see succeed.
WHAT ARE THREE OF YOUR MOST MEMORABLE CAREER MOMENTS?
Doing just No Sleep and nothing else, getting an office, and hiring my first employee.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH?
There are a million things I want to accomplish. If you ever feel like there is not something left to accomplish, then you aren’t doing it right and aren’t continue to learn/grow as you go.
i/nosleeprecords t @nosleep records WWW
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NAME: Playing for the Cause LOCATION: St. Louis, MO WEBSITE: playingforthecause.org Music and Charity have been friends for quite some time now, working in the forms of festivals, promotions and benefit performances. It’s not uncommon to see music working on the side of good in our world. As of this year, a new organization has risen up out of St. Louis, Mo., to not only bring charity into music, but also to take that mindset and bring it on the road. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WANT TO CREATE AN ORGANIZATION THAT COMBINED THE WORLDS OF LIVE MUSIC AND CHARITY? WHAT DO YOU THINK IS SPECIAL ABOUT GETTING THOSE TWO THINGS TO WORK TOGETHER? I was inspired to create the organization after seeing a video released by one of my favorite bands that chronicled a day in the life of a little girl with cancer. At the end, they asked you to text to give $10 to St. Jude. This type of video certainly has a place, but it doesn’t often result in much money raised for an organization. However, if people are asked in person, they are more likely to give and give more when people they admire ask them. It seemed like a natural fit, if a musician I admire tells me they are passionate about a cause and asks me to support that cause, I will. WITH OTHER TOURS DOING TONS TO HELP CHARITY SUCH AS THE TAKE ACTION TOUR AND EVEN SOME OF THE EFFORTS OF THINGS LIKE THE VANS WARPED TOUR AND SO ON, WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS THAT SETS PLAYING FOR THE CAUSE APART? You are absolutely correct, there are many large tours that do a great deal for national level charities, and benefit concerts that are great for smaller local charities. We are different in a number of ways: 1) we offer a platform for any artist with any size audience to make difference in multiple cities where they play by allowing fans at each tour stop to support local charities. 2) The artists have input in the nonprofits that are selected. We help them pick a cause that matters to them, and then help them select (or select for them) the very best nonprofits supporting their cause in each city through our grant application process. 3) We will be providing extensive traditional and social 18 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
media coverage for each band in each city, making sure their fans know the difference they are making. 4) We provide and manage a simple platform for the bands and fans to use that doesn’t require a bunch of extra work for the bands. All they have to do is tell us what they care about. RIGHT NOW YOU ARE KEEPING THINGS SUPER LOCAL WITH YOUR FIRST PROJECT “GIVING IN CONCERT.” DO YOU WANT TO KEEP A STRONG FOOTHOLD IN THE LOCAL ST. LOUIS MUSIC SCENE OR ARE THERE MORE PLANS TO TAKE THINGS TO A MORE NATIONAL LEVEL? We made a decision to start smaller and in our hometown to make sure our closest supporters knew who we were and would be willing to back us as we take things national. Ultimately, we will be working with nationally touring artists helping them promote charities in each city where they have tour stops. SINCE YOU ARE STARTING THINGS OFF IN ST. LOUIS, IT’S WELL KNOWN THAT ST. LOUIS HAS A RICH HISTORY WITH MUSIC AND THE ARTS, BUT IT OFTEN SEEMS A BIT UNDERRATED IN COMPARISON TO OTHER CITIES LIKE CHICAGO, LOS ANGELES, NEW YORK, ETC. THESE DAYS. WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS THAT ST. LOUIS CAN OFFER AS THE PLATFORM CITY FOR THIS PROJECT/ ORGANIZATION? I think our status as an underrated city, while grossly undeserved, equips us with a strong sense of “well, we’ll show you.” That’s exactly the kind of attitude you need when launching something new and fun. Our commitment to music and charities will give the other cities something to live up to.
THERE SEEMS TO BE A STRONG SENSE OF THIS BEING A WIN-WIN SITUATION BETWEEN YOUR CAUSES AND THE PARTICIPATING BANDS. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU GUYS TO KEEP YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PARTICIPATING BANDS BENEFICIAL ON BOTH ENDS? We’re excited to be able to work with such talented artists and to be able to do our small part in helping them be something bigger than they already are. It truly reflects the vision of Playing for the Cause, because we want everyone to win; the fans, the artists, and most importantly the amazing charities they represent. IT APPEARS THAT ANYONE CAN APPLY AS A MUSICIAN OR AS A NON-PROFIT, BUT ARE THERE ANY QUALIFICATIONS YOU GUYS LOOK FOR IN SELECTING YOUR PARTICIPATING MUSICIANS AND CHARITIES? On the musician side, we ask that they be willing to speak about what they are passionate about. On the nonprofit side, we look for innovative projects that work toward addressing the causes supported by our musicians. We love to support small nonprofits that are trying to do really cool things to address the needs of their communities. We are big fans of organizations that are willing to ask for operating funds. It isn’t the sexiest thing to fund, but we recognize that if an organization has all the money in the world for fantastic programs, but can’t pay to keep the lights, they aren’t able to do the good they set out to do. WHAT IMPACT DO YOU HOPE HAVE ON PARTICIPATING BANDS AND THEIR FANS THAT THEY BRING TO THEIR SHOWS? Our largest impact on the bands will be a strong sense of good will and giving back to their fans and their communities. We also use social media to promote their shows, and since we aren’t genre-specific, our fans and followers encompass all sorts of different groups. By promoting shows for all of our musicians, we are exposing them to potential fans that might not otherwise ever hear them. SO HOW EXACTLY DOES THE DONATING PROCESS WORK FOR EACH SHOW AND WHAT ARE SOME OTHER WAYS FANS CAN GET INVOLVED AND HELP OUT? The donating process is simple, for our Giving in Concert campaign, fans simply text GIC to 33733 and follow the prompts. They will receive a text message with a link they follow to make their donations. When working with specific bands on a tour, the keyword changes to be band specific. We are always looking for new musicians to partner with and for fans to volunteer at events and shows. They can go to our website and click contact me to let us know they are interested. Of course, the simplest way to keep track of what we are up to is to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. INTERVIEW & WORDS: Annette Schaefer
t @pfct_music f/PlayingForTheCauseSTL
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HOME: Nashville, TN NOW JAMMING: “Holla” CURRENTLY: Releasing her new EP Sweet Talk on November 4th
SHE GREW UP LISTENING TO
The Beatles and thought “I Want To Hold Your Hand” was a scandalous song. She toured with Ingrid Michaelson before she was out of her teens. She made the move from New York all the way to Nashville alone. She has been inspired by the greatest, done things most would only dream of and taken huge leaps of faith. Her music captures all of those feelings, melodies and sacrifices and turns them into the indie pop music that hold dear stories while still making you dance. Her name is Sinclair, and she’s about to make it big. SO FIRST TELL ME HOW YOU GOT YOUR START IN MUSIC? I started playing guitar when I was about 7 years old as well as other instruments, but I didn’t start writing until I was 12 or 13. Even then it was like, I was writing more because I thought The Beatles were so damn cool and I wanted to be Paul McCartney when I grew up. I was crazy about music at that age but I didn’t really meet people from the industry until I was about 17. I released this video onto the internet and very quickly this guy in L.A., Darkchild (Rodney Jerkins), produced Destiny’s Child and later Michael Jackson, and some of the new Bieber stuff, so he’s a serious pop hitter. He sent me a contract and that was the first thing I had encountered that was music business. I was still very much a baby at 17 and I had no idea who I was. I always had a fire about it but it’s taken a different path in the last couple of years. SO YOU SAID THE BEATLES GOT YOU INTO THIS WHOLE THING SO ARE THEY YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION OR ARE THERE ALSO OTHERS? That was when I was young because my parents are very conservative Christians so we didn’t listen to a lot of rock music. The Beatles were my chance to rock out and sing dirty songs like “I Want To Hold Your Hand” [laughs]. I think when I got a little bit older I got my hands onto The Police and Sting actually probably has one of my favorite careers of all time. He inspired me melodically in the way he sings, that might be one of my biggest inspirations. You’ll note that ironically all of the people so far are bass player/ lead singers and writers, so there’s something that I’ve always connected to about the bass guitar. DO YOU PLAY THE BASS GUITAR? I do, I do. When I first moved to Nashville, I did a lot of gigging and that was how I made my money.
DO YOU PLAY BASS FOR YOURSELF? I have on recordings like “Paula” and actually all that EP. For me though live, I haven’t worked that in yet, I’m hoping to. When the set gets longer I really want to. YOU’RE NOT FROM NASHVILLE, SO WHERE DID YOU MOVE FROM? I moved from the town that I grew up in, Potsdam, NY. Well actually, Madrid, NY. It’s so rural; it’s mostly cows. I live 30 minutes from Canada… it’s so cold! SO WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO MOVE HERE [NASHVILLE]? I never dreamed of moving to Nashville – I never was inspired to move to Nashville. After I came out to my parents I stayed home with them for about nine months, which was a really weird time. They really didn’t want me to move which is why I didn’t for as long as I didn’t, but my manager worked at Red Lights management in Manhattan and was pushing me to move. I kept thinking, I love L.A. and I had taken music trips to L.A. but it was too far away from my parents, they’ll freak out. Plus it’s really expensive. My manager kept pushing me to Nashville, so I got in my car and drove to Nashville. I GUESS YOUR MANAGER PUSHED YOU HERE BUT NOW THAT YOU ARE HERE DO YOU THINK NASHVILLE IS THE BEST PLACE FOR YOU TO START YOUR CAREER AND MOVE IT FORWARD? I’m feeling really good about it. I still take trips to L.A. but I’m feeling really good about this city being my hometown. SO WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT IT? The fact that it feels like a town. I think I told somebody I thought there were 70,000 people here. Legit, I had no freaking clue. Then I looked it up and I was like, what! Over a million people?! That’s crazy. YOUR NEW EP IS AMAZING, REALLY LIGHT AND FUN AND EASY TO DANCE TO. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT MAKING THIS EP AND DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TRACK? My favorite part about making it was working with such a dream team. I worked with incredible creative minds. Since I was a teenager I wanted to work with John Elijah; him being one of the producers was a huge deal. Then Nolan Sipe is a creative force that is going to be behind a lot of
music you hear. Also, I think why I liked working with them the most in this project was they pushed me to do things I wouldn’t have done otherwise, that I’m very proud of. I think the track that I’m most proud of is “This Too Shall Pass.” I think the reason I’m most proud of it is multifaceted. I think the lyrics are vulnerable in a way that I’ve never been before. If you had heard it before it got tracked, it’s definitely very... if you had heard it on an acoustic guitar, it takes a whole new shape. Working with some of the drum and bass people that we did, it took on this new mix of genres that I never would have imagined as a songwriter. It took a life of it’s own that I hadn’t envisioned. HOW WAS THE WRITING LIKE? DID YOU CO WRITE? DID YOU SIT IN A COFFEE SHOP AND WRITE IT ON A NAPKIN, ETC? WHAT’S YOUR REGIMEN? Really for me, writing can start from anything and I like variety. Sometimes it will be a melody, guitar riff, a lyric, a story, [or] an emotion that I’m feeling that’s overpowering in that moment and I have to let it out. I think the process for me has evolved over the years. I try my best to hear what I’m writing from a very objective standpoint and to try and feel like, has this vantage point been taken already or had this musical idea already been said? If anything, I want to create new things into the universe as best I can, and I think most artists do. OKAY SO HERE’S A TEST. SELL ME YOUR NEW EP. WHY SHOULD PEOPLE LISTEN TO THIS EP? ESPECIALLY BEING HERE IN NASHVILLE WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN HER FOR THREE YEARS AND YOU KNOW THAT IT’S SATURATED WITH OTHER MUSICIANS, WHY SHOULD PEOPLE LISTEN TO YOU? People should listen because it’s fun, it’s poppy in a rock urban sort of way, and because it’s pop that also has stories, which I think considering Nashville that might be the real sell in Nashville. I think story telling has been such a big part of this city as a music city for so long. I don’t think I even would have thought about it actually. One of the people who reviewed my music actually wrote something about it and I thought, weird, I don’t think I would have consciously thought that Nashville songwriting had had any affect on me but I think it potentially has a little bit. It’s taken this little girl that’s always been a pop, rock, urban lover and has injected story telling. WITH THIS EP RELEASING NOVEMBER 5TH, DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS FOR IT AND YOU TO CARRY INTO THE NEXT YEAR? ANY GOALS OF WHERE YOU SEE YOURSELF OR THINGS YOU WANT TO DO BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR? Honestly, my main goal is that I really hope that I have many beautiful encounters with listeners because I think the
reason I’ve even been inspired to take the artist position is that I had so many moments as a kid and now that music will impact my every day life as a listener. So if there’s anything that I’m really crossing my fingers and hopeful of it’s that somehow my music gets through to people on their headphones or through the car or in a movie. On a very practical level, I hope that I have some great TV/ Film licensing stuff come through. I’d love to have some sort of part that has visual art. There’s also a bunch of people that I’d love to be opening for and I think that’s going to take its path. IN YOUR CAREER THUS FAR, WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST STRUGGLE FOR YOU AND HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME IT? I would say the biggest struggle has been having lost my family connections and support. That knocked the wind out of me for a while because I was doing music for a while before everything happened. I think I came out of that struggle well by finding people that could support me in the way my family wasn’t supporting me, and meeting my wife here. It’s still hard because family is family. You don’t choose your family but you can choose your close friends and connections. I love my family, I know they love me; they just can’t support me for reasons of their own. ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THAT AS THE LAST QUESTION, WHICH IS ALSO A PLAY ON WORDS WITH OUR MAGAZINE NAME, WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR? I’m going to say getting to hear songs and stories that have been very much apart of my entire life. It’s crazy to hear recordings that I can be really proud of that honestly and truthfully the person that I have grown to be. It’s always funny because I always love first records from artists and I always give them a break on that because I think about it and I’m like, they spent their whole life collecting these stories and words and this a record of their whole life. These songs are so great because it›s all these pinnacle moments that they›ve experienced. So the highlight has been hearing this record that reflects me and who I’ve grown to be and the things I love the most. Having people really reacting to it already. It’s not even released and I’m already getting great responses, it’s so exciting. PHOTO: Sam Polonsky INTERVIEW & STORY: Jenn Stookey
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HOME: Milwaukee, WI NOW JAMMING: “Breaking Up My Bones” 24 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET CURRENTLY: Getting ready for a short tour at the end of November
WHEN INDIE, ELECTRONIC BAND
Vinyl Theatre won the battle of the bands in 2013 to open for twenty one pilots at Marquette University, it was the start of something big. After a year of hard work, the quartet has signed to Fueled By Ramen and released their debut album Electrogram. The members have been writing music together for eight years, first meeting each other through keyboardist Chris Senner. He met bassist Josh Pothier through a mutual friend growing up, but it wasn’t until Senner met singer and guitarist Keegan Calmes that the songwriting began. The two met at a cross-country meet junior year of high school; they started talking and realized they were both musicians. A few years later, Senner met drummer Nick Cesarz in a music theory class in college. While all of the members since have dropped out of college to solely focus on Vinyl Theatre, it may have been the hardest thing for them do to as a band so far. “I was almost done,” Calmes said. “I quit running, I could have tried to run professionally and I had a really, really great future in that and Chris is an amazing mixed martial artist. He was ranked first in Wisconsin for a very long time, and Nick can do anything with drumming and Josh is one of the smartest guys I know, he could have done anything. I was an eight-time all American, three time national champion in running and I quit it all and these guys kind of just waited on me for four years. I was like, ‘I’ve had enough, we’re going to try this thing,’ so that’s what happened.” While waiting tables and picking up trash at a Chili’s restaurant, the members would always talk about lyric ideas or go in the back to show each other a recorded idea on their phone. One day while practicing in a basement in Wisconsin, the members talked about how amazing it would be if Fueled By Ramen signed them. To their amazement, it actually happened. The label wanted Vinyl Theatre’s songs that were already written, and the band felt a sense of urgency to create new songs for the record, making sure they sounded like the songs Fueled By Ramen already wanted.
“They’re our family now and I’m really close to everyone on the team,” Calmes expressed. “When somebody looks at you and believes in your music and you can see it in them and see the same ideals, but the record, there wasn’t really any pressure. We decided to record with the same person, which with a major label sometimes they might have you go with somebody they know, instead we stayed with a local recording producer and it turned out really well.” Those songs eventually turned into Vinyl Theatre’s recent release of Electrogram, an eight-song album and first with Fueled By Ramen. Calmes said he wants people to know that the music Vinyl Theatre makes comes from within them, and sometimes it’s unexplainable where the ideas stem from. “The concept of Electrogram, it’s a reading of bodily matter, an electrical outlet for that bodily matter,” Calmes explained. “A lot of times I like to say it’s organic tissue, but tissue is such a strange word, but to give you the right idea that’s what it is and we want to convey to you that’s where the music comes from within us and sometimes it’s just inexplicable. Where this guy [Chris] comes up with it sometimes I don’t even understand, I just kind of organize this guy’s crazy head and vice versa.” Because the release of Electrogram was just in September, the members of Vinyl Theatre aren’t planning on releasing anything new for a while. Instead, they just finished a tour with twenty one pilots this past month and will be on the road again at the end of November. The band decided that they want to tour on Electrogram for a while so people can gain more insight and gather deeper meanings for the tracks. “If we wanted us to record an album tomorrow we could easily, with everything we’re working on,” Calmes said. “But every album needs to go through its cycle; it’s like giving it its life.” PHOTO: Sam Polonsky INTERVIEW & STORY: Geoff Burns
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HOME: Ann Arbor, MI NOW JAMMING: I’ll Be The Tornado CURRENTLY: On tour with Tiny Moving Parts
“SOMETIMES THINGS NEED TO
be destroyed in order to rebuild something better.” This feared motto is a driving force for emo outfit Dads as the band welcomes a new direction with the release of their album, I’ll Be The Tornado. “There’s an obvious stylistic change and I feel like the songwriting as a whole is more focused and less of just throwing together a few guitar riffs that turned into a song. We were less concerned about trying to fit into a consistent style of music and instead just wrote what felt natural and covered more ground on the different genres,” guitarist and vocalist Scott Scharinger explained. Known for their highly successful record, American Radass, Dads has become a staple in emo playlists everywhere. Their twinkly riffs and raw lyrics have contributed to the bona fide “Emo Revival.” However, the band sees themselves evolving with and beyond the genre, and I’ll Be The Tornado is proof of that. “I first got into bands like Mineral, American Football, and Mock Orange when I was 13 and have kept up with that style of music since, so to me that genre never died. My band before Dads was kind of a similar emo type of band, which I think we started in 2007. So back then we were playing basement shows in New Brunswick with bands like Algernon Cadwallader, Street Smart Cyclist, Empire Empire, so emo has always been present in my musical life. We don’t want to be limited to any genre and I think that’s more noticeable in our new record,” Scharinger said. Along with stylistic changes, the band believes they have grown together as musicians, and as people. For Scharinger, “There’s been a lot of growth, for a lack of better terms, in our personal lives and our musicianship and I’d like to think that’s more apparent. We’re less angry and more so coming to terms on how to be happy with ourselves and our lives.” Dads is a band of give and take, especially with creative input. While Scharinger worked on the guitars of the record, drummer/vocalist John Bradley took the focus on vocals and words, creating a medley of simple yet surprisingly poetic lyrics. “For this album I decided I wanted to take a step back from any vocal/lyrical duties and leave it up to John. I was so excited to hear the finished product. John is constantly thinking of lyrics/lines in his head and is very deliberate
with his wording, so when it comes to actually sitting down and writing, he seems to have a lot of ideas and then will sometimes have to rearrange or rewrite things to fit with the song,” Scharinger said. The band also needs no tiebreaker on decisions. As a twopiece group, Scharinger and Bradley are almost always on the same brainwaves. “We’re 99.99% on the same page and basically all our writing is entirely done together, but I don’t think there’s ever been an argument about songwriting or anything like that,” said Scharinger. Even among harmony, Dads is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. Being part of a nomadic lifestyle, it’s sometimes hard for the group to find stability. “We’ve never had a constant place to live, and it definitely puts a strain on our personal lives along with not being able to see friends or family as often as we’d like. The only thing we can really do is to make as much time as we can when we’re off tour to travel to see the people we love, so a big shout out to Delta’s frequent flyer miles program!” Scharinger and Bradley live for their music and friends. Their time spent on tour constantly reminds them of that. “One of our favorite things about touring is the friendships we’ve made with bands we’ve toured with. It’s also very weird and cool when you realize you’ve accidentally been to the same truck stop in a random town in a random city three times before. We’re already friends with all the bands we’re touring with, so we’re so excited to be able to see them everyday for over a month.” Looking towards the future, Dads is aiming high and wants to take their music further, perhaps even across the sea. The band is also looking into having their music integrated into video games or even performing on a late night TV show. Their life may be like a tornado with touring, new releases and increasing popularity, but the duo is prepared to handle the chaos, because as old things are destroyed by the whirlwind of life, new and better things take their place. Scharinger expressed, “Even through all of this, somehow we have been able to travel around the world with our best friends playing music for our ‘jobs’ is truly a dream.” PHOTOS: Nicole Fara Silver INTERVIEW & STORY: Nick Yacovazzi
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HOME: Los Angeles, CA NOW JAMMING: “Lyrics with my Pen” (First single off It’s In The Streets - Cyber Tracks) CURRENTLY: On a North American tour
MOVING ON FROM A SUCCESSFUL
project to pursue other endeavors can be an immediate launching pad for a musician’s new focus. This Legend is no exception. Since coming together in May, ex-members of Yellowcard, Stanley and the Search and Hey Mike! are set to release their debut record, It’s In The Streets, on Nov. 11th.
Individually speaking, they have been working to maintain a sustainable and worthwhile career in the industry. Each with years of experience under their belt, it’s difficult to say which project of theirs will be the most legendary. Yellowcard, for example, wasn’t LP or Harper’s first project, and This Legend probably won’t be their last either. Ultimately though, that combination of history and experience between all of its members is what makes This Legend unique.
After drummer LP made a connection with owners of the band’s current record label Cyber Tracks, Jen and Aaron Abeyta, and rekindled his working relationship with previous band mate Ben Harper, This Legend was born. Bass player Steven Neufeld and vocalist and guitarist Chris Castillo joined on shortly after. Collectively, This Legend said that this new venture is different from previous projects because not only do they want to create something great, but they are also all great friends.
“We’re relying on this to make bread and butter for home and we have to get out there and really hustle,” LP said. “A lot of times you have to get out there and do other things to be able to achieve that unless you are one of the handful of lucky ones out there, and I call them that, who are able to sustain a full living on what they’re doing. Otherwise you’re working your butt off.”
“I really like the dynamic of this band,” LP noted. “We’re all really good friends. We hang out even off the clock as well as on the clock and we’re all here for each other. We all rock out 150% and that’s a lot.” Their label is owned and operated by husband and wife duo Jen and Aaron (El Hefe of NOFX). Currently, they only have six acts on their roster, including This Legend. Because of this, the members saw that the label is very family oriented, and they feel a mutual partnership between themselves and Cyber Tracks. “We felt like we’re going to grow with the label,” Harper said. “We’re both helping each other out, it’s not like there’s ‘the man’ that we have to answer to that’s telling us what to do. They are kind of looking for our guidance as well as for future bands that they sign and it’s going to work. We feel that kind of attention.” Since forming less than a year ago, This Legend isn’t afraid of their fast paced approach. They have all quit their day jobs to devote time to the band, so they need to get on the road as soon as possible to support that. Plus, being able to start over with a brand new project has been a worthwhile experience for them. “To be able to go back to those times again and do that again. Even riding in a van and playing for ten people you almost find a sort of coolness out of it and appreciation for doing it again. You get a chance to do it right,” Harper expressed.
Despite all of their knowledge and humility as musicians that only seems to come with time, it’s still refreshing for them to be able to start something new in their long-standing careers. “This is my fourth time doing this whole building up thing and it’s a good feeling because that saying is true, you don’t notice until it’s done. The gradual part you don’t even think of anymore. It’s a refreshing feeling and it humbles you to be able to go back and retrace those steps,” LP expressed. For the next year, This Legend plans to continue touring, open new markets in Japan and Europe as well as release their debut record. However, at the end of the day, their focus is the music. Everything starts and ends with a song, but the whole package of being a musician playing bigger shows and meeting fans is what This Legend is looking forward to. “I think we’re all in it for anything that being in a band entails,” Neufeld said. “Pushing yourself and getting outside of the cubical and living the dream so to speak. A lot of it’s adventure and a mystery but we know that we can’t sit back and let it happen for us. We’re all old enough to know that we need to push this thing and push it hard. It all starts with the songs and that’s kind of the core of it. We just want people to hear the music and enjoy it like we do.” PHOTOS: Sam Polonsky INTERVIEW & STORY: Jennifer Boylen
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HOME: Toronto, Canada NOW JAMMING: “Don’t Go Home Without Me” CURRENTLY: Just released her latest album, Little Machines. On tour this fall. 30 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
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THE ONLY THING BETTER THAN A
talented musician is a humble one. Luckily, LIGHTS posseses both of those characteristics. She recently released her third studio album, Little Machines, and within the first listen, you can already hear the ways that she has grown as a musician. Always incredibly unique in vocal tone and lyrics, this new album shows just how far she has come since her debut. “The last couple of records have been non-traditional in the way we have put them together. It’s kind of like writing and putting together high quality demos over the course of a year or two. When we feel like we have the songs we take all of the demos and improve them a little bit and then you’ve got your record, which is not traditionally the way a record is written,” she explained. “Normally you write and then go into the studio all in one session kind of do everything. With Little Machines it was a little more of a traditional way for recording a record and I like that for this record because there are a lot of live elements on this record.” She brought in her band for many of the songs on this album in hopes to capture and give it the same energy the band has performing live. Because it was more complex in nature, this method was more time-consuming than the typical recording and mixing process might take, but it was well worth it. Some of the songs, such as “Don’t Go Home Without Me” ended up being quite different on the record than the way it started. LIGHTS recalled that “it was one of those things where we reworked the record all in one session to get a kind of common theme which was really special and live elements on it. It was a crazy two months! And in that time I had a baby and it was wild.” Bringing the band together was an exciting endeavor in itself: the first half of the recording was completed in LA (at the same studio where Michael Jackson recorded “Bad”) and then finished in Vancouver, since that’s where LIGHTS wanted to have her baby. Even with the location change, the band has been together for eight years now, and it was enjoyable for them to be able to be together to create the album. In support of Little Machines, LIGHTS set off on tour. Touring on a new album is never an easy feat; it can be exciting or disappointing for fans to hear the new material, depending on what they were hoping for. Fortunately, LIGHTS is well aware and prepared for this. “We’re starting to nail each song at a time. We’re not going to do all of the new songs yet, because that’s a lot of new material but I think we’re going to have six to seven new ones. Sometimes it’s hard making a record and going into a tour because there’s a whole new vibe but in this case it’s a really great vibe and I’m really looking forward to it,” she said. Being a touring musician is never easy, whether it’s your first tour or your 10th or your 100th. LIGHTS has come to
enjoy the challenge of touring, especially the way it puts things in perspective. “It’s talking to the fans. I’ll go up to people that are waiting in line and talk to them. Or kids who are waiting after the show and talk to them and you get their perception of the record and the music and where you’re at and where the show was and what songs they like. I think it’s such a cool insight and it reminds you who is coming to your shows and listening to your music and who is the reason why you have a career. So that keeps you pretty grounded,” she said. It also doesn’t hurt to have a caring husband (Beau Bokan of Bless the Fall) who is also a touring musician, giving their relationship a level of understanding that others might not be fortunate enough to have. There can be a lot of complications if one spouse is always on the road and the other isn’t. “We understand what the other does so perfectly. I think a lot of issues that come with one spouse being a musician and the other one not, is that if you’re not a musician you don’t understand how it is; you don’t understand how touring is and I think you just kind of assume. There are a lot of accusations. But when you both are you know exactly the routine every day, you load in, you sound check... so there’s this mutual respect and we get along perfectly because of that.” With every upside comes the downside such as months going by where they’re both away and don’t get to see each other. But fortunately, they both feel very lucky to be in the position they are and simply take on the difficulties as they come. Further, as a singer/songwriter who grew up with a musical background, she has truly come to appreciate music and every moment and opportunity that has come her way. “I feel like music is like a magical power,” she enthused. “It’s something that doesn’t exist, but it changes your emotions and can change the air in a room. For someone to be able to tap into that whether it’s listening to it or creating it themselves is so important.” As she did growing up, she encourages kids to be able to listen to and understand music, so they can come to appreciate it even at a young age. Since she has been around it almost all of her life, it has certainly had an impact on who she is today. “Every time I completed a song it was very empowering and I felt like I could take on the world,” she affirmed. “You’re creating things and it’s something everyone can do. It’s not limited to those who have the money or those who have the skill. You can do music and create music and play songs and it’s such a tool for empowerment for young people. I think it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.” PHOTO: Charlie Martel INTERVIEW & STORY: Daisy Marietta
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HOME: Nashville, TN NOW JAMMING: “Silhouettes” CURRENTLY: On tour with Knox Hamilton HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 35
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HUMILITY CAN BE A DOUBLE-EDGE
sword when it comes to working in the music industry, but Colony House have managed to stay grounded amongst their recent success. Their debut album, When I Was Younger, was released in July via Descendant Records and has been climbing the charts ever since. According to frontman Caleb Chapman, the structure for the record was written as if he was having a conversation with a friend. “At this point in our career these conversations are the first one’s we have had with many of the listeners,” Chapman said. “As your time with that person increases, you organically earn the right to go a little deeper. The conversation that happens between the listener and When I Was Younger hopefully starts with a friendly handshake and ends with a good ol’ fashion bear hug.”
Recently, the Tennessee trio has been popping up all over the music circuit. In September, Colony House was the special guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Chapman said being on stage that night was a “surreal experience” and a nerve racking one to boot. In addition, the indie pop group was the special guest on VH1’s “Big Morning Buzz.” To top it all off, the July release of their debut album is what Chapman said is something they’ll “never forget.” “You always dream about the day where you will get the chance to play your music on TV, especially in a late night show setting,” Chapman explained. “So many wonderful things have happened this year. Our number one priority out on the road is to love each other well and to make sure we are loving our families back at home well even when we are away.” Currently, Colony House is on tour with Knox Hamilton, an indie dance band from the south, until November. Being from Nashville, Chapman said there isn’t a dream too big for musicians because the city is full of talent. Rightfully so, the trio has been hard at work this year running around the U.S. promoting their album, especially in the south.
“There is so much camaraderie in Nashville among the art community,” Chapman observed. “It is hard to not be inspired by all of the people around you doing amazing work.” Chapman explained how When I Was Younger was influenced by a number of different artists he used to listen to in high school as well as some more recent records. The first single, “Silhouettes,” is an upbeat dance anthem for the summer, and as the album progresses, it takes an emotionally charged turn for the more sentimental of beats. During the recording process, Chapman said there were times where he felt as though he were “taking one step forward and two steps back,” but that patience paid off. “One of my favorite songs is ‘Waiting For My Time To Come.’ I think it sums up the whole process of recording and releasing this record,” Chapman explained. “‘Waiting For My Time To Come’ is about appreciating the moments we are living in now knowing that the future will worry about itself.” And it seems as if he has adopted this mentality while out on tour this past year. It has taught them how to appreciate the good things now, and let the rest sort itself out when the time comes. He expressed how being on the road can be mentally and physically draining but is worth it in the end to be doing something that he loves. Ultimately, Chapman wants to be able to provide for his family through music. “I imagine myself sitting in a small theatre somewhere watching my kid in a subpar elementary school play with my wife sitting beside me,” he said. “If I can experience moments like that and know that the way I am providing for my family is through music, I will know I have achieved the dream.” PHOTO: Heather Phillips INTERVIEW & STORY: Bridjet Mendyuk
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HOME: Los Angeles, CA NOW JAMMING: “Legends Never Die” feat. Katy Perry CURRENTLY: Recording a new full length
A YOUNG MISFIT WHO MOVES
from a small town of around 3,000 to a bustling city to become a big star, performing for nearly five times as many people as the population of where he grew up, sounds like a modern fairy tale. However, like all fairy tales, there has to be a conflict and a climax before a resolution. Ferras, a Los Angeles pop artist, has had a story with very high highs, and very low lows on his path to stardom, which includes the signing and dropping of record deals, a song appearing as the outro on a season of “American Idol,” befriending one of the most iconic pop stars of the 21st century and working behind the curtain of the music industry; all of which began soon after moving from Illinois to LA, which was a foreign, exhilarating odyssey. “When I came to LA, I was inundated by all of these different kinds of individuals, like people, artists, hippies, transient, sort of dark drug culture, lots of different types of people 40 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
and I felt like I had finally sort of arrived home and it was definitely like a shock to the system. I sort of got lost in the insanity,” Ferras recalled. Once exposed to the great opportunities and the liberating freedom to be himself, Ferras adapted to the new territory, exploring his music and beginning to develop a sound that he has remained consistent with to this day. There is no better place for a pop artist to thrive than Los Angeles, which is the genre that came naturally to Ferras from the moment he learned his first instrument. “Obviously, there was some immense growth for me personally and musically, and that kind of exposure to the world, really, was definitely key to what I do now,” Ferras said. “I’m always gonna be a fan of a strong hook, a catchy melody, and I think what makes my music a little bit different is that it isn’t just super pure, radio pop. I like to think my
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lyrics are a bit more interesting, sort of, than other people. But I like to really tell a story and its autobiographical and I try to say things in a poetic and sort of interesting way rather than give people the sort of run-of-the-mill copy Nursery rhyme.” After releasing his debut album, Aliens & Rainbows in 2008, which included his popular single, “Hollywood’s Not America,” (the season 7 “American Idol” outro), and the Interim – The Time Between EP in 2010, Ferras experienced a slight dry spell. The dynamic artist shared his efforts with many other artists rather than focusing only on his own craft. However, at the beginning of this new endeavor, he had no way of knowing the positives that were about to come with the negatives after being dropped from his record label. “I was in between record deals and I needed to do something for money and to survive, so I kind of got into writing songs for other artists, which actually proved to be very lucrative for me. And I had the opportunity to meet and work with and write for really incredible artists. That’s something that I really enjoy even now, I still do sessions for other artists. I think it’s a sort of core of who I am.” Ferras has contributed to the songs of several wellknown artists, including Sarah Hudson and Adam Lambert. Collaborating with other musicians has been an overwhelmingly positive experience, challenging his creativity and always keeping his songwriting skills sharp, even when he was not producing music of his own. When it comes to co-writing, he loves to “try to find a way to help them say what they want to say and give them a voice.” Although working behind the scenes helped him not only pay the bills, but keep his creativity constantly flowing, he felt a lack of fulfillment. He was tired of being unknown, unheard and unseen as an artist, which was the motivation he needed to get back out there and begin performing and writing for himself again. “There’s such an inexpressible high that is achieved when you’re onstage in front of people and you’re having that kind of exchange of energy with the audience. I can’t really say that I get that when writing songs for other artists. Being a performer is what I do; it’s what I’ve always done. I definitely didn’t give up on that dream and I’m still working on it. It’s an uphill climb everyday.” The past several months, Ferras has been on the rebound and is coming back to the spotlight, Where he has been longing to return for quite some time. Releasing a self-titled EP just this past summer was the perfect way for Ferras to reintroduce himself after being seemingly AWOL from the forefront of the music industry. This was the first time in nearly four years that he released any sort of music and was able to write some of his best material yet. HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 43
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Many artists, including himself, write their most passionate and impressive songs when they are experiencing either extreme happiness or immense sadness. The five-track EP was an outlet for Ferras, and he allowed himself to be vulnerable. He is proud of his art and considers it to be therapeutic. One of his favorite tracks, “King of Sabotage,” was especially important for him to write in order to cope with a difficult breakup and a frustrating self-realization. “When things are going really well, I expect it to fall apart. So what I do is when it’s not naturally falling apart, I will go out and figure out a way to sabotage things and to screw it all up. That’s everything from my relationships, romantic relationships to business,” Ferras admitted. “I would basically do things that would make my partner be over me. I was really sad. I was really disappointed in myself for making wrong decisions and I felt like the moment that I wrote that song I was able to face that demon and say, ‘I know that I’ve been the King of Sabotage and I’m aware of this and it’s time to change these things.’” Continuing with his natural desire to collaborate, his new boss had a great deal of involvement in the making of his new EP, taking part in an epic duet, “Legends Never Die.” In 2007, Ferras was signed to Capital Records the same time as Katy Perry, and the two experienced an incredible bond and respect for each other as artists. Seven years later, they remain best friends, sharing the same group of friends, spending holidays together and going on vacations. Ferras even refers to her as the “mother of the group.” The pop princess herself has created an impressive brand. She launched her self-started record label, Metamorphosis, signing Ferras as the inaugural artist. Working side-by-side since the beginning of their careers, they have remained unfailing support systems for each other. It has been said to never work for friends, but Ferras disagrees with the theory. “I can’t say that there would be a lot of people that I would be able to work with as a colleague after being friends for so long, it might be bizarre, but with Katy, she just is so naturally good at being a business person that I trust her instincts. I know she wants the best for me. It just felt really right. It hasn’t changed our relationship at all, if anything I think its brought us closer together because there’s even more trust and there’s a sense that we are trying to do something special and there’s a mutual respect and excitement.” You could say that Katy Perry is Ferras’ biggest fan. As a friend and fellow artist, she has seen his immense potential and unwavering talent, which she decided that the world needed to witness. The only way she saw fit for her to reintroduce him and his rebirth was to take him out on her Prismatic World Tour as the opening act. Performing in arenas, he finally got his chance to be seen and his past daydreams he had while sitting in studios began to actually happen. This type of show, the whole 46 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
production and the overall size was not something that he was used to. In the past, he had performed one single arena show, which was a Z100 event several years back. Past tours consisted of him accompanied by his piano in a room full of 50 onlookers, leaping to a world tour for tens of thousands of crazed Katy Perry fans. “I had to figure out how to become a showman. It took me a minute to get my bearings, but I think I managed to kind of put on a great show. There’s a lot of room you have to cover, and you know, the stage is so big and the venue is huge and you have to kind of figure out how to navigate that. I think unfortunately, the last month of tour I was really starting to get it, strutting up and down the runways and interacting with people. I was loving it.” After such an unforgettable year, the natural born performer’s next project is to begin working on his sophomore fulllength album. Although he has many other interests, such as fragrances and fashion, which he would eventually love to pursue, releasing an album through Metamorphosis Records with his colleague, Katy Perry, is his top priority. The fairy tale will likely continue. There may be a few more lows, but the highs of his career that he has experienced all because somebody believe in him certainly make things worth all the while. PHOTOS: Jordan Fischels INTERVIEW: Haley Black and Jenn Stookey STORY: Haley Black
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TOUR ROUND UP
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P PHOTO: Sam Polonsky
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PHOTO: Heather Phillips
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PHOTO: Kohl Murdock
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PHOTO: Sam Polonsky
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PHOTO: Sam Polonsky
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PHOTO: Jordan Fischels
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Sweet Talk EP RATING
SOUNDS LIKE PVRIS VERSA ZZ Ward RECOMMENDED TRACKS “Sweet Talk” “Heaven on Earth” TRACKS 1
The World Is Ours
This Too Shall Pass
Heaven on Earth
RELEASE DATE November 4th, 2014
It’s true that some of the best music in the world has come from bands, but there are those few individuals who are filled with so much talent that their solo efforts can trump material with a dozen people working on it. Julia Sinclair, who is better known by her last name alone, is one of these individuals. The singer-songwriter left her home state of New York for Nashville, Tenn., and put together one incredible debut EP, Sweet Talk. Sinclair’s pop-rock roots mold together beautifully with country influences that are no doubt owed to her current location, and the powerful lyrics that she has penned are strong in the case of opening track “Holla.” In contrast, there’s “The World Is Ours,” which has a dance anthem vibe to it, showcasing Sinclair’s impressive musical versatility. The EP moves on seamlessly, despite the different listening experience each song offers, to present the title track, “Sweet Talk.” Even with its bubblegum pop title, it is actually an anthem for the independent women out there, which the world can never have too many of. In the blink of an eye, Sinclair is transformed from a talented musician to so much more than that – an inspirational role model. The EP winds down with the slower, thoughtful track “This Too Shall Pass,” and then ends on “Heaven On Earth.” The track continues on the rest of the EP’s theme before launching in to a tough, upbeat sound that carries Sinclair’s voice perfectly. Overall, it is an astounding effort of a debut EP, and it will leave you wondering just what more she will be capable of as she grows as an artist.
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REVIEW: Madison Convey
ARTIST PVRIS ALBUM White
Noise Whenever a female-fronted band steps into the spotlight of the beloved Warped Tour scene, they are immediately compared to Paramore. While that is a compliment in itself, it is usually far from being true. Enter PVRIS—the three-piece alternative pop band hailing from Boston, Mass. Yes, they’re a female-fronted band with two guys, but that’s where the Paramore comparisons begin and end. With the release of their debut album, White Noise, on Rise Records, PVRIS —consisting of vocalist/ guitarist Lynn Gunn, bassist Brian MacDonald and guitarist Alex Babinski— has the potential to break out beyond the walls of the music scene they currently call home. Produced by Blake Harnage of Versa fame, White Noise is seeping with a mixture of enchanting, mesmerizing and super catchy tracks. There isn’t a song on White Noise that falls short of being audibly spectacular. From the eerily haunting “Smoke” and “Eyelids” to catchy pop tunes “St. Patrick” and “My House” to the explosive “Mirrors” and “Fire,” it stands as the most impressive debut album from a band in years. Gunn’s vocal register fluctuates from roaring half screams to angelic high notes, giving each track an individualized sound. The rest of the albums due out this year don’t even stand a chance. With a Nov. 4 release date, White Noise is a late contender for album of the year, and with every play, it will continue to climb higher and higher up the charts.
RECOMMENDED TRACKS “Fire,” “Mirrors” and “My House” REVIEW Jessica Klinner
ARTIST Somos ALBUM Sorority
Noise Split Somos’ A-Side songs, “Letters To An Absent Future” and “Back and Forth,” are moody and nostalgic singles that combine slightly shaky vocals and classic punk melodies to spawn songs for a mellow autumn soundtrack. “Letters To An Absent Future” is steady, with downcast lyrics. “Back and Forth” stays consistent with polished and fluid guitar picking and keeps up with the slightly woeful vibe of the split. Sorority Noise resembles the likes of Modern Baseball and Dads, fitting in perfectly with their peers. The short-but-sweet B-Side contribution, “Dobranoc,” turns things down a notch by starting off rather melancholic and crescendos into a more lively melody before transitioning directly into “Wesleyan’s Best Dressed,” which continues to rise into an anthemic, classic punk creation. “I’m sure I’ll let you down / I’m sure I’ll let you down,” chants in the chorus before a quick, but impressively catchy, guitar solo resolves the song to a close. The fluidity of the four-track split is persistent; truly an expedient, short collaboration of suitable tracks from two very capable members of the punk community.
RECOMMENDED TRACKS “Letter’s To An Absent Future” & “Wesleyan’s Best Dressed” REVIEW Haley Black
Legend ALBUM It’s In The Streets Former Yellowcard members’ band This Legend’s debut album It’s In The Streets is an ecstatic listen. The entire album is comfortable and familiar like a Snuggie, full of a constant, overwhelming sense of nostalgia throughout. It’s In The Streets starts opens with “Lyrics With My Pen”, which begins the positive journey of making yourself a priority. The album then moves to my favorite songs “Holiday From Crazy” and “Skin and Bones”. “Holiday From Crazy” has such an energetic rollercoaster that will have you dancing and pogo-ing within seconds. “Skin and Bones” has just a fun and simple drum driven intro, reminiscent of Motion City Soundtrack, that explodes into a cacophony of sound. Overall, It’s In The Streets is a fantastic debut album. The catchy guitar lines and lead singer Chris Castillo’s vocals in combination with drummer Longineu Parsons III’s driving rhythms make up for a good listen and allow the listener to get a great sense of the band’s genuine love of music.
RECOMMENDED TRACKS “Holiday From Crazy,” “Skin and Bones” & “Josh Lights A Fire” REVIEW Theresa Pham
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