GIVING YOU THE FRUIT OF THE INDUSTRY
Naomi Grossman Actress
Photo Credit: Jared Carlisle, Makeup: Michael Banks
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Table of Contents Page 3-5 Naomi Grossman
Page 21-23 iZCALLi
Page 31-32 Yazi
Page 7-11 Ben Fausch & Brass and Gold Society
Page 24-26 Edwina Maben
Page 33-35 December Fades
Page 27-28 Reatha Pitman
Page 36-37 Go Evolution
Page 29 Sara Winta
Page 38-41 Saints Of Never After
Page 30 Felix Fast4ward
Page 42 Mace Windu
Page 12-13 Rebecca Metz Page 14-17 Thomas J. Churchill Page 18-20 Julia Goldstern
Naomi Grossman was a 2018 Primetime Emmy nominee for “Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama” for her role in Ctrl Alt Delete. Best known as the first crossover character, the fan-favorite “Pepper” on FX’s hit anthology series, American Horror Story: Asylum & Freak Show, Naomi also appeared as a new character, the Satanist “Samantha Crowe” in the eighth season, Apocalypse. Naomi made #5 of IMDb’s “Top 10 Breakout Stars” after her STAR meter skyrocketed to #1, making her the most searched in its entire 8 million person database. Huffington Post, The Wrap, Screen Rant, and Syfy all ranked Pepper among “The Best AHS Characters Ever;” MTV named her their “#1 Good Guy;” Uproxx, their “#1 Most Tragic;” Geek Insider, a “Top 5 Most Underrated AHS Performer;” and Entertainment Weekly called her being cast in the role “The Best of 2012.” Fans may also recognize her from cameos in the following feature films, Table for Three, The Chair, 1BR, Sky Sharks, Bite Me, Painkillers, The Lurker, Murder RX, The Portal, Preacher Six, An Accidental Zombie (Named Ted) and Fear, Inc. Naomi prides herself on having paved her own, albeit unorthodox path to mainstream success by writing, producing and starring in several autobiographical solo shows. Her latest, Carnival Knowledge: Love, Lust, and other Human Oddities, enjoyed a twice-extended, sold-out run and rave reviews (“Recommended” by LA Weekly). It was then reprised at the world-famous fringe theatre festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, where it received more critical praise (4 stars: The Scotsman, Broadway Baby, Fringe Review) and a transfer to London’s West End (Leicester Square Theatre). It later went on to have a successful run Off-Off Broadway. Naomi’s first solo endeavor, Girl in Argentine Landscape, also received critical acclaim (LA Weekly, “Pick of the Week”) and earned her an LA Weekly Theatre Award nomination for best solo performance. Naomi toured with Girl… to Chicago’s Single File Festival, the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival, the New York International Fringe Festival, and screened a subtitled video-version on the big screen in Argentina.
Her numerous self-penned/produced, comedic shorts have screened at nationwide film festivals and are available for view on comedy sites like FunnyOrDie. Naomi is a theatre graduate of Northwestern University, and a veteran of the legendary Groundlings Sunday Company. What age did you start your career into the film industry? I shot my first network TV show, which earned me my SAG card, on my 15th birthday. So, I guess 15? So, we see you are a writer, how long have you been writing for? I never fancied myself as a “writer.” I mostly just wrote out of necessity— I realized a year or two after moving to Hollywood that I wasn’t being cast in a traditional way, so I cast myself! But first, I needed material to cast myself in. So, I started writing… sketches, which I honed at The Groundlings, and solo shows, which I’ve performed everywhere from LA to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, the West End in London, Off-Off Broadway in NY, and colleges. So we see you are a writer, how long have you been writing for? I never fancied myself as a “writer.” I mostly just wrote out of necessity— I realized a year or two after moving to Hollywood that I wasn’t being cast in a traditional way, so I cast myself! But first, I needed material to cast myself in. So, I started writing… sketches, which I honed at The Groundlings, and solo shows, which I’ve performed everywhere from LA to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, the West End in London, Off-Off Broadway in NY, and colleges around the country. I still don’t really think of myself as a “writer,” though I definitely am— I have a new solo show about to come out, that I’m really, really excited about! I’ve actually been told, “I’m a better writer than an actor,” which is kind of an under-handed compliment? Their intention was good, and not altogether wrong— I have a distinct voice, which tends to dance delicately between the flowery-poetic and shockingly crude. I’m looking forward to sharing it with people! Photo Credit (Top): Jared Carlisle, Makeup: Michael Banks
And what was your first gig? I remember doing some non-union commercials for Colorado Interstate Gas and Hud Homes. Then I did a union commercial for a department store called “Printemps,” which forced me to become Taft-Hartley before I had to go fully-union to shoot “Father Dowling Mysteries.” (Denver, where I’m originally from, was not a union town. So that meant the end of my film career, until I left the nest.) How was it to work with the actor Tom Bosley? He was lovely. He was actually a distant relative of mine— my great uncle (or someone to that effect) gave him the money to move to Chicago to first pursue acting— though I’m pleased to say I got the part in spite of that. I remember my dad reminding him of this story when he dropped me off on set— so embarrassing for my 15-year old self! What was your favorite episode and why? The one I was in, obviously! “The Passionate Painter Mystery.” How was it to play on the TV show, Sabrina the Teenage Witch with Melissa Jones Heart? Again, that was so long ago. I played a cheerleader— mostly cast for my big mouth! What was your favorite short film and why? Most of the shorts I’ve done have been of my own creation: Groundlings sketches I thought deserved a life beyond Melrose Avenue, so I immortalized them on YouTube, and in some cases, on to various comedy festivals. My favorite is probably my send-up of Madonna’s video, “Hung Up.” I actually love that Madonna made me take it down! I also love that 15 years later, I can still do all that stuff. If I were to have grandchildren, it’s one of the things I’d show them to prove how hot their grandmother once was! You played two different characters in American Horror Story over a six year period, what was your favorite episode you played as Pepper and why? The Pepisode, obviously! That is, “Freak Show “ (season 4), episode 10; entitled “Orphans.” It included my backstory, which was a surprise to even me! It allowed me to really stretch all my dramatic muscles— cry on cue, day in, day out. That’s something I hadn’t had a chance to do till then. And well, the things that make you cry on day 1 aren’t necessarily the same as on the seventh consecutive day of shooting! So it was a time of great growth for me as an actor as well. It was beyond thrilling to finally take front and center, when I’d spent so much time leading up to it off in the periphery playing with string or delivering the Fat Lady food. It was not only what I’d been waiting for all season long, but my whole life, really! Also, what was your favorite episode as Samantha Crow in American Horror Story and why? That was clearly a much smaller part, though it was fun to be directed by Sarah Paulson in the “Return to Murder House” episode. She’s obviously a phenomenal actress, so she knows what kind of direction actors respond to. That was her directorial debut, and my first time back after a while, so there was an exciting, new energy on set. And it was my first time at the Murder House, where it all began. (I remember first being cast, and binge watching that first season, late at night, alone. I was terrified on so many levels!) Out of all the 19 episodes you did of American Horror Story, who were your favorite male and female actors to work with and why? I couldn’t possibly begin to answer that. There’s not a bad apple in the bunch! Every actor brings their own delicious flavor: Angela Bassett is so down-to-earth and lovely, Kathy Bates is like a mother hen— so nurturing and supportive, Jessica Lange just naturally makes everyone stand up a little straighter, and is truly awe-inspiring to watch. Which is my favorite? I couldn’t say— each adds their own unique flavor!
Currently you have 3 films in post-production. What is the status of them? 1. Sky Sharks Photo Credit (Left 3): Stefan Pinto 2. Short Straw Makeup: Hosway Morbak, Hair: Brandon Liberati 3. Murder Rx Styling: Jazzie Bella
That’s more of a producer-question. I believe “Sky Sharks” is still looking for money to finish (a familiar story for most indie movies), “Short Straw” is at an impasse, waiting for creative differences to be settled, and “Murder Rx” is being shopped to networks and distributors as we speak. Frankly, my job is done— once I’m wrapped from set, it’s out of my hands, and I often don’t hear of it again till the premiere! Do you have any ideas on release date and which one was your favorite to act in? Again, no idea— there are too many factors beyond any of our control. My favorite of the three would have to be “Murder Rx.” It was directed by an old college friend of mine, Ken Brisbois; so it was thrilling to finally be doing what we dreamt of long, long ago. We even stayed in the same Airbnb together while on location in Orlando, reminiscent of when we were roommates and brand-new to Los Angeles. Out of the three, which do you feel allowed you to experience the most character development? I only worked 1 day on the other 2, so again, “Murder Rx.” I want to say I did a full-week on that— though they were mostly night-shoots, starting between 4-9pm and wrapping between 2-6am— so it felt like much, much longer! I was a complete vampire-zombie by the end. What advice can you give others who want to get into acting? OK, you ready? I have lots to say. #1: Love what you do— seriously look deep inside. I don’t care what people say, it’s a hard business. Unless you LOVE IT, you should do something else. And by “it,” I mean, the work. Not the idea of being rich and famous and walking red carpets. Because that’s only a small part of it, and even then, there are no guarantees. Besides, there are easier ways to do that. Anymore, becoming famous means dating the bachelor, surviving on an island, taking great selfies with perfect duck-lips. Whatever! I didn’t just want to become famous. I wanted to become famous doing work I’m proud of: trying out new characters, transforming into them, and taking the audience on a journey— be it hilarious, moving, or better yet, both! If there’s ANYTHING ELSE in the world you could imagine yourself doing, save yourself and do that instead. I tried to— I found myself at home in foreign lands, learning new languages and lifestyles— and yet, I could never quite shake the acting thing. Which is indicative. #2: Don’t have a Plan B. Again, if there is a Plan B, do that instead. In my case, it was Plan A, or... there wasn’t another option. There was simply nothing else that fired me up in the same way. So despite my years of pitfalls, I had no choice but to stick with it. And sticking with it is kind of the name of the game. #3: Don’t have a deadline (or rather, quit when it stops being fun). People would ask me, “So, how long are you going to give this? When are you going to move back to Denver, settle down, get a real job?” My answer: when it stops being fun. And it did stop being fun. But because I had no Plan B, and Plan A was truly all I loved and wanted in the world, I had no choice but to find the fun again! I did that by taking control and creating. The minute you impose a time-limit, you’re giving yourself an out. You’re implying this may not happen for you, so you’re preparing yourself with a Plan B, which means you don’t actually love Plan A enough! Love Plan A, don’t have a Plan B, and don’t even think about not making it. Ideas become actions—don’t bring that into being! #4: Stay in the game. I realize I said, “quit when it stops being fun,” and then “stay in the game” basically in the same breath. But truly, have fun first and foremost-- that will keep you in the game! You gotta figure, if you’re not in the game, you’re definitely NOT going to succeed. So even just by showing up, you’re that much more likely to be successful! You think I found success because I’m talented? I’m stubborn! I just wasn’t going away! Deepak Chopra said something along the lines of: “That which you pay attention to flourishes. That which you take attention away from withers.” So if you want something to flourish, give it attention! If you want it to wither, take your attention away. It’s that simple! I don’t think anyone wants their career to wither, and yet, they often don’t give the attention necessary. #5: Don’t wait— create! Gone are the days when a young, aspiring starlet is plucked from a Hollywood barstool, and given a 3-picture deal. Having a fantastic rack, or a rich, important relative certainly never hurt, but it’s not enough. In my case, I didn’t have either. In order to get the opportunities I needed to be seen, I had to create them. Which, in turn, not only allowed me to be seen, but fueled my passion, and kept me in the game. If you’re like me, your happiness is, unfortunately, wholly dependent upon keeping creative and feeding your artist’s soul. So, do what you gotta do to be happy! To this day, my solo shows are the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done— mostly because they’re all me! My success with AHS can be credited to hundreds of people, not to mention a massive, studio budget; whereas my one-woman shows are something I wrote, produced, starred in— practically even tore the tickets for— paid for by my meager, Spanish-teaching-side-job at the time. My director, Richard Embardo, may be the baby-daddy, but they’re still my babies. And though I may be known for the few syllables I grunt on TV, my solo shows are the work of which I’m most proud. That’s what we all want, ultimately. Do you have any social media handles and website? @naomiwgrossman / www.naomigrossman.net Photo Credit: Jared Carlisle, Makeup: Michael Banks
Brass and Gold Society When did you first get you into music? I don’t know if I know of a “first”, it’s always been there.
My ma is a singer and retired music teacher. Her dad was a concert violinist and violist that played in the symphonies in Milwaukee and Minneapolis, and also played with the Oxford string quartet on the BBC a lot during WWII. His ma was a ragtime pianist that played piano in a ton of Midwestern silent theaters. You could say music is literally in my blood. The first thing I did musically as far as I can remember: I took piano lessons at 6, and do remember the first song I wrote actually. It was called “thunderstorm” and it was just me mashing the low keys on the piano. Foreshadowing for my propensity for low instruments I think!
What instruments do you play? Which do you prefer most? I play tuba first. It’s my 10,000 hour instrument. Got me a full ride in college, and is what I try to get gigs with these days. I also play bari sax, piano, bass, trumpet, guitar, ukulele, bass clarinet, and can rock a Hammond B3 or Rhodes if I have to! Who inspired you to pursue a career in music? Most likely my high school band director Mike Smith. He was a local jazz drummer originally from south side Chicago who’s now teaching one of the best marching bands in the country out in Ohio. He’s a seriously talented musician and teacher. We got a lot of musician’s “real talk” about the life, and he opened up a world of music; introducing me to Mingus, Dirty Dozen, Rebirth, and about 1000 other groups that high school band directors didn’t really show their kids at the time. Especially tubists. Hearing bands do awesome nola covers of hip hop charts, hearing that sousa WOOF from rebirth, those bands showed me the tuba had more to offer than I had ever been shown before. All I wanted to be was a tuba rock star after that. How would you describe the music that you create? I’ll steal a term my bandleader Tung Pham used for the music we created in his band Gora Gora Orkestar for our collaboration with the Flobots for its NOENEMIES movement. “Brass Hop”
Photo Credit: Joshua Randy Abeyta
In the words of my MC, Illse7en: “It’s magic.” That wasn’t the first time I wanted to play the music I write, but the musicians I met through Gora and the music I wrote for them fueled my desire to write stripped down, gutsy, raw hip hop that could be played anywhere. It’s the feeling of grooving with a live marching band, surrounded by people as an MC gets the crowd going, all for a noble cause for the people. In the words of my MC, Illse7en: “It’s magic.” How has your music evolved since you first began playing music? So much. Honestly I would say the thing I do the most now, compared to my early days gigging, is take risks. When I play with good musicians I try to push myself, play out of my abilities, write lines leading into corners, play until I have nothing left and I’m bleeding (literally and figuratively). That’s where the creativity and new ideas come from. Think bigger and weirder and see where it takes you. If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to stay in this tough business? Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why? Joy by way of community. I don’t practice religion, and can be pretty introverted on my own, but music allows me to bond with the world in a deeper manner than I could ever do as a person. The feeling of getting a whole room of people connecting on a deep groove or their favorite song is one of the few pure things to me. Which ingredient do you think makes you special and unique as a performing artist in a genre overflowing with new faces and ideas? To be honest. I’m weird as hell, and like to take things apart and put them back together with things that don’t make sense. I try to take one feel of one style of music, and see how I can get a completely unrelated and disparate piece of music to work with it. It challenges the musicians I work with to get creative, and their abilities make a truly unique experience on the spot. What has been your biggest challenge as a musician? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how? Being a tuba player has a wide range of challenges in a gigging environment just because its not recognized as a virtuosic or “sexy” instrument. I get lots of “hurr hurr” jokes about being slow, or not a “real musician” from all angles, but my favorite comment I get is “do you have a bass player” when I’m at sound check. These jokes usually fade when people see me play, but even after 15 years of gigging, I was just asked at my own show if I had a bass player coming to play. This was last week! Definitely an uphill battle to prove myself as a musician to other musicians and the community, but all worth it to make jaws and pants drop, haha! Really the best advice I can give younger musicians fighting for legitimacy is to do two things: Be nice. Always. Take no shit.
Photo Credit (Top): Backstage Flash
A common phrase in the industry is, “you must suffer for your art”. Do you agree with this statement? And if so, how have you suffered for your art? Well I’m classically trained, so yes I’ve suffered haha. Seriously though, I think that there’s always a level of suffering because you have to always push to be a better musician. Always practicing, always listening, always experimenting. There’s always work to be done, and sometimes it can make you suffer a bit, but like so much in life it’s there to make you better. Suffering can also be a huge source of inspiration, historically you could argue that some of the best art has come out of times when a society was suffering. I think suffering can open you up to pathways of intimacy as an artist, it can make you find creative ways to express the pain, and sometimes will give you new agency to explore those paths. Which artists are you currently listening to? And is there anyone of these that you’d like to collaborate with? I’m so inspired by hip hop and how it crosses over with so many different genres these days. Artists like Masego are creating beautiful cinematic landscapes, brass bands like Galactic are bringing in all kinds of MCs and soul groups to make deep south bangers, and electronic groups like EMEFE are using brass almost as an electronic instrument to add hardness to their grooves. I’m all about deep grooves and heavy production, and there’s so much creativity there in the industry these days, now that people don’t need 6 weeks in a studio to create music. How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business? Musicians like to dog on the pay they get from services like Spotify, but honestly it’s an amazing tool. The hard truth is, musicians have almost never made any money from album sales. Artists like Prince and Radiohead figured that out a long time ago. This is why they’ve released music by themselves or for free. They realized that albums are closer to advertising than product, that they were making albums to support fans coming to their shows where there is a lot more control over the finances. I encourage all musicians to learn about what Prince has done for the internet music industry. Overall the internet has given musicians so many tools and outlets to share their music, find inspiration, learn how to record and produce their art, and find new musicians to work with. Sure there’s a bigger pool, but you’d be surprised how local the internet still is sometimes. I regularly connect with the Denver scene through social, and have found some amazing people that way. If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be? Honestly for the working musician, better unions and more of them. I think artists are tired of working for exposure, and even beginners should get a rate. Doing things like buying tickets for your own show, or slowly watching your pay get cut after gig by the venue, or getting kicked off a show over small potato issues just makes it harder to keep good musicians playing at a venue. The good venues, even the small ones, pay musicians well and on time, because they understand a good band that keeps people in the venue can be hard to come by. Musicians in Denver don’t have anyone protecting them, and we all suffer because of it.
Photo Credit: Drew Carlson Photography Tell us about your current project, Brass and Gold Society. This has been cooking in my brain since 2004 when my first college tuba teacher Carson McTeer showed me Nat McIntoshâ€™s group YoungBlood brass band. These guys are famous in the brass band scene for pushing the definition of what a brass band is. They regularly collaborated with Talib Kweli, and Nat is a motherfucker on the tuba. First beat boxing on the tuba I ever heard. I would say every brass band has covered their song Brooklyn at least a few times. Since then, I have done a lot of playing on the street with the Gora Gora Orkestar for so many activist causes. Fight for 15, Black Lives Matter, refugee support, Womenâ€™s March. The leader Tung lead us into all those events, such a great guy. That band gave me a lot of license to create deep grooves and learn how to get a big outdoor crowd going. A few experiences with MCs and collabs with buskers and street players and all I wanted to do was make hip hop you could play anywhere. One day I was talking with my trumpet friend Randy Runyan, and we both expressed mutual love for a lot of these ideas. Randy has spent a lot of time in the Denver music scene playing with local MC legend Molina Speaks, and has met a ton of a-list jazz musicians and Denver MCs. A few phone calls between the two of us and we assembled some of the baddest motherfuckers in Denver to create a different flavor of hip hop. We have horn players Randy Runyan, Ryan Sargent, and Michael Windham from Leon and the Revival, and local jazz greats Tenia Nelson, Aaron Summerfield and Alex Tripp holding down rhythm. One part brass band, one part jazz combo, an amazing legendary MC named Illse7en up front, and we have a band that constructs vibes on the fly that gets everyone dancing to something between Robert Glasper, J Dilla, and the Roots. Whatâ€™s next for you? I have about 3-5 other types of bands I want to create in the next 5-10 years, but I want to develop Brass and Gold as far as it can. Iâ€™m not looking to take over the world, I want to create something truly unique and artistically relevant to the world, leave the mark, and create something else. Who knows? I have an idea for a dirty polka band, and maybe something with some hair metal guys, weâ€™ll have to see.đ&#x;™‚
What are the 5 albums that have helped make you the person you are today? Here you go, 5 albums in biographical order: 1. Rage against the Machine - Battle of Los Angeles. Was the perfect answer to my teenage anger and my first true CD I ever bought. When I play tuba I’d rather sound like Tom Morello over anyone. 2. Boom Boom Satellites - Out Loud. Bought at a head shop that sold used cd’s and drugs in the back. This album had a dirty, grungy approach to big beat that took in a lot of jazz musicians. First time I had ever heard horn players on something besides jazz or classical music, or a pop solo. They were introduced as textures and influences to the sound rather than just ‘soloing’, especially on ‘Batter the Jam no.3’. Very Miles Davis for sure. Definitely spawned an early desire to do something different with band instruments. 3. Stanton Moore – III. First time I ever heard Stanton Moore(Galactic) or Robert Walter(Greyboy Allstars) on. Tuba players need to listen to funky organ players more. I learn to play solos from noise artists, and funky ass basslines from organists. 4. Lianne La Havas - Is Your Love Big Enough? Truly one of the best songwriters I’ve ever heard. Complex haunting chords and a beautiful voice. This album along with The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Badu’s Worldwide Underground, and Theophilius Londons’ Timez Are Weird These Days were the soundtrack of New York to me when I was working there. Her approach to music really opens up your ear and soul. 5. Masego - Lady Lady. This is the best recent album I’ve heard. I love cinematic hip hop that blends in jazz and soul, and the environments this album creates are works of art to me. Hugely inspiring. Shout out to Daymé Arocena’s album Nueva Era which almost replaced Masego. Best groove I’ve ever heard was on Madres. How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? We’re right in the middle of finishing our first ep, and I can guarantee its not what you expect out of a band with a tuba in it. That and a few singles will be dropping over the next few months. Follow us on instagram at @bandgsoc for the most up to date info on those releases.
Photo Credit: Drew Carlson Photography
Photo Credit: Russell Baer
FROM FX’S BETTER THINGS... You did theater while growing up in New Jersey. Where did your interest in theater begin? I got into theater because of two things — my parents being in a community chorus that sometimes needed kids in their performances, and watching The Muppet Show. Working in theater looked like so much fun, and then I got a taste of it — and it really was. What are some of your favorite theater roles that you have done and why? I’ve always been a character actor — from a young age, I started playing funny supporting characters rather than lead roles. But my last show in college was a Faydeaux farce called “A Cat Among the Pigeons,” and I played the lead — her name was Lucette Gautier. I had beautiful, handmade costumes, multiple love interests, and nonstop action from the moment we started until the bow. I just remember being in a state of exhausted glee the whole time. I also love developing new work. I’ve been fortunate to do that work with some wonderful LA playwrights — like Sheila Callaghan, Tom Jacobson, Brian Otoño, and a group called Burglars of Hamm. When you’re working on something new, and especially when the playwright is involved, it’s really about discovering together what the script wants to be, and I love that process. Today, so many young actors lack theater experience and they just want to go right into television and film. Do you think that a lack of theater experience limits actors and if so, why? It’s easy for me to say because I started in theater, but I do think actors end up missing something without that experience. There’s nothing to hide behind in theater. There are no second (or third, or ninth) takes. There’s no camera to direct the audience’s attention. Your whole body and brain have to be fully engaged from start to finish, and if something goes wrong it’s up to the actors on stage to find a way to keep going.
And there’s nothing like the immediate feedback you get from a live theater audience. No doubt there are wonderful actors who have only worked on camera, but for me there’s no better place to hone your instincts and skills than in theater. Breaking into Hollywood is hard even if you are really talented. Besides talent, what/who is responsible for Rebecca Metz’s success? Two big things. First, training. I studied at Carnegie Mellon, and I use that training every single day. Second, tenacity. I was just never ever going to give up, and I was willing to work my butt off for as long as it took to become a steadily working actor. You have guest starred on so many popular television shows. Is there one role that you did when you realized that you were finally making it as an actress and why did you feel that way? It had to be playing Abby Mays on Nip/Tuck. That was by far the biggest role I’d done at that point. There was real
meat to it, both comedy and drama. And I could tell the people working on the show were nervous about finding the right person because the story was so dark but also needed to be funny and charming in its own way. Julian McMahon was so wonderful at putting me at ease and I made a lot of friends on the crew — many of whom I’ve worked with since. And after it aired, people started looking at me differently in the industry. It was a turning point in lots of ways. What actors or actresses that you have either worked with our would love to work with do you admire and respect and why? I’ve gotten to work with so many actors I admire; Margo Martindale, Mary Louise Parker, Jerry Stiller, Melissa McCarthy, Patricia Arquette, Celia Imrie. Working with actors of this caliber is the best way to up your game because their standards are so high it elevates everyone around them. And then there are women like Emmy Rossum and Pam Adlon, who are not only fierce actors but also directors and showrunners, which is massively inspiring and educational. In terms of who I’d love to work with... What actor doesn’t dream of acting with Meryl Streep? How did you land the role on Better Things? Did Pamela Adlon, the creator, writer, producer and star have any responsibility for casting you? It was a pretty straightforward audition — I read for the casting director (and now producer) Felicia Fasano, whom I’d known for a long time and who completely understands Pam’s sensibility. Ultimately, Pam handpicks pretty much every person who works on Better Things, so she definitely had the last word. Better Things is a female driven cast with many women working behind the scenes which is unusual because most television shows are more male populated. How does so much female energy effect the set and overall feel of the show? You know, in one way it doesn’t make a difference — it’s just a bunch of people who are excellent at their jobs working together, only in our case a lot more of those people than usual happen to be women. But in another way, it’s huge — because as actors, we look out and see women behind the camera, in the sound department, running the ADs, in lighting and grip and places where we usually only see men. And that makes a huge difference in terms of feeling like you belong and there’s room for your voice and your perspective will be represented and respected. And in a matter of minutes, you find yourself amazed that every show isn’t like this because it makes so much more sense than the wild gender imbalance you see on so many other sets. Better Things really captures the imperfection of women, mothers, relationships and all aspects of life. Do you think this imperfection speaks to an honesty that resonates with the audience? Absolutely! When I started reading scripts in season one, it felt like tasting something I hadn’t even realized I’d been craving all my life. Like, these feel like women I actually know. They’re not “aspirational,” they’re real, multidimensional, not-always-likable human beings like women actually are. And that’s something I think a lot of people were really thirsty for. You play Tressa, a talent manager on Better Things. If Rebecca Metz, the actress met Tressa, what would the two of you have in common besides being identical? Ha. There’s a lot of me in Tressa. We both have dry senses of humor. We’re fiercely loyal but sometimes take things a little too personally. I can definitely imagine seeing Tressa across the room and rolling our eyes at each other when Jeff or somebody says something stupid. (No offense to Jeff ;) If there is one role that you would love to play on film or television, what is it and why? You know, I usually don’t have an answer for that because I like to stay open to whatever is coming. But I’ve realized that I’d love to play a character who lives in the punk/alternative world. That’s something I flirted with in high school and college and is one of those roads I could see myself having taken in a different version of my life. So it would be fun to explore what it would have felt like to follow that path and see where it leads. Follow Rebecca Metz on social media: @therebeccametz Photos below from Rebecca’s IMDb.
Thomas J. Churchill Edmund Barker caught up with filmaker, Thomas J. Curchill.
As an avid director, writer, and actor going back to his youth in New York, Thomas J. Churchill has a lot of experience in the indie and b-movie worlds that makes for great stories. I talked with him about his new thriller Nationâ€™s Fire, the simple joys of monster makeup, and a possible ghost encounter on set.
Can you tell us a bit more about your newest film, Nation’s Fire, and what it’s about? Yes. Nation’s Fire is coming out on video-on-demand platforms and on DVD…it’s an action-thriller biker film about family, strength, and honor. It stars Bruce Dern, Chuck Liddell, Lou Ferrigno Jr., Gil Bellows, and Krista Grotte Saxon, just to name a few. It’s...it’s a biker flick with heart, and there’s a lot of moving pieces in the film…basically, the movie is about family, and what one will do to protect their own, pretty much. It deals with a lot of family values and strengths, it also pretty much determines that family doesn’t have to be blood in order to have one’s back. Now in your newest movie you got to work with some big actors like Bruce Dern. Can you tell me what it was like contacting him or being on set with him? Well, Bruce Dern is an icon—you know, two-time Academy Award nominee. I had an amazing time working with him, I got to learn a lot from him. Got to learn an Old Hollywood-101 crash course, pretty much. What’s funny is that Bruce Dern kind of loosely plays a character based on my dad. My dad wasn’t a biker, but a lot of things my dad did, Bruce Dern based [the character] on…Bruce Dern was one of my dad’s favorite actors, and I wanted to do something to keep my dad’s memory alive. I lost my father five years ago, right before I started to make Checkpoint. So, Bruce, when he read the script, said “This guy sounds like he’s someone really, really dear to you, is he based on a real person?” I said, “Yes.” He asked who, and I said, “My father.” He said, “I’m gonna make your father proud,” and you know, he made me proud with how he portrayed the character, it was great. I can see from your IMDB that you’ve been making movies since you were a teenager with a VHS camera. What are some filmmakers or movie houses that really inspired you back in your DIY period? I was born and raised in New York. We used to go to movies all the time, my father would take me when my mom was cooking or when I came back from school, to get away…we always went to the theater. I blame my father, who was not in this business, for introducing me at an early age to the world of motion pictures. My father was a big film buff, he taught me who actors were and kind of broke it down for me. If I saw an actor in costume, he’d tell me who that was. For example, back in the day there was the show BJ and the Bear, with Claude Atkins who was Sheriff Lobo. Now, I was a big Planet of the Apes fan, and I learned he played one of the gorillas in those movies. I found that fascinating, as a child, finding out that it’s all pretend; it’s this guy playing this person doing that with makeup…it made me wanna know more about that artform, what’s behind the screen. But it wasn’t until Star Wars premiered—A New Hope, can’t even say the original anymore because there’s nine of them—when that came out, that was the movie where I wanted to be there. I wanted to know everything: how do you get into that world? How do people react? It reminds me that a few years after Darth Vader, Conan the Barbarian came out, and my father said “that guy right there was Darth Vader,” and he’s talking about James Earl Jones. So, at a certain age I always like to learn little things about movies, little tidbits. When I realized that actors weren’t just people up on the screen, once again I was with my father, at the Central Park Zoo, and he pointed out actor Fred Williamson. “See that guy over there? He’s a movie star.” Now, again, this was before
internet, before cable, before all that stuff. So I beelined over to Fred Williamson to tell him I wanted to be an actor, and I realized these people are not just on the screen, but in real life. That made me really want to know more about this world. When did you first think you might be interested in acting as well as filmmaking? I saw you had a small part in the Steve Buscemi-directed Trees Lounge from 1996. I was just an extra in that…years before, I was up for a [child] part in the movie The Champ, in the top five in New York. And they cast Jon Voight and I didn’t look like him, and they ended up getting Rick Schroeder to be in the movie. But still, when I was sever years old I was picked out of hundreds to be the top five, so the acting bug was always there. I popped up in music videos and background roles like Trees Lounge. When I was seventeen, I convinced my dad to buy me a video camera, as the story goes. I basically wanted to shoot a movie showcasing my talents as an actor, and I ended up falling in love with the entire process of moviemaking. Actually, it was a bit before that—a friend of mine in junior high school was doing something called The New York Junior Showcase Company, and it was about actors and models. I ended up auditioning to get in there with him, and I was picked as an actor. We did stage plays and everything, and I loved the vibe of how the audience worked off of you and you worked off of the audience’s energy. I wrote my first story as a play, which was called The Warmaster, and that got a standing ovation. So a year later I decided to make that play into a feature, and convinced dad to get me a video camera. All I wanted to do was play the character, but I fell in love with the [filmmaking] process. I fell in love with putting it together, getting the locations, getting the other actors…creating the world. Then I started making films where I could act in them. I’ve also been in other people’s movies, which made me feel validated…I had a role in a movie called Samurai Cop 2, and in Syndicate Smasher. Then the producers of the movie The Rat Pack, which I went to direct, wrote a role for me. They wanted me to play this one character, and I said, “Nah, I’m just here to direct the film.” And they were like, “You HAVE to play this role.” They wrote a role called Antonio, and I created his whole look and style. I worked opposite C. Thomas Howell as an actor, and as a director it was one of the first films I directed myself in. What are some of the challenges that come with making something like a horror film with creature fx on an indie budget? Well, when you have some great special effects artists, you can. For the last few projects I’ve been working with Joe Castro, and he’s a brilliant magician in the form of special effects. I like pushing people to do things better, and working with Joe, we both push each other to create something disturbing or good. Joe worked me with first on Nation’s Fire, where he did all the basic effects in the film, and then we went on to do a few other projects. We did a movie that him and I and Steven Escobar produced, called Xenophobia, which was a sci-fi film—it was great working with aliens and stuff. We did a movie called Big Freakin’ Rat, where there’s a giant rat, a bit like Friday the 13th meets Jaws with rats. We did a vampire movie called Amityville Harvest with creatures…creatures, when done right, play a big part in a movie. I’ve done a lot of horror thrillers, but I’ve also done a lot of action thrillers. But creatures do have a big part when doing a creature feature. I see you were also on SyFy’s Monster Man reality show when they made a werewolf. What was that like? At the time, we were gonna make a film called Hollow Point, and I was working with another effects house, SOTA. They were doing a reality show about their special effects house, and I ended up pitching a concept I wanted them to work on for a werewolf movie. The SyFy Network was there shooting, and I didn’t know what they were doing—they asked me if I wanted to come on camera and do the same thing, pitch my concept. So I was supposed to do it for one day, and it ended up being four or five days. Out of the six episodes, that one, episode two, was the most watched. Unfortunately, the series didn’t get enough attention for it to come back, and I think the team didn’t wanna do another season. So, that was my first experience as a reality TV star! Didn’t think I would ever do that, but it was fun; it was different. It was a fun experience, I had a good time doing it. Pie-in-the-sky question time. Someone suddenly gives you one hundred million dollars to shoot the movie of your dreams, what would it look like? Well, if you got a hundred million dollars, you could have a hundred million mistakes or a hundred million blessings. If you have the right team in place and someone gives you a hundred million dollars, of course, it’d look really, really good. What would I do with it? I’d probably do maybe two films, and work with some A-list talent I’ve grown up watching. Or, I’d do something that’s just phenomenal—look at James Wan. Ten years ago, James Wan was pitching the concept for Saw as an indie guy out of Australia. Then he started to make it, and did a movie called Dead Silence
that nobody liked, so he came back and did Insidious, which was big. Then he gets the opportunity to do a big studio movie like The Fast and the Furious 7. They give him a hundred million dollars to do it, and his main star gets killed making the movie, and now he’s gotta come up with a way to fix it and create a beloved character—how do you tell that story? And he did it, he fixed it, and it made like a billion dollars. And he went on to do a couple more horror movies like The Conjuring 1 and 2, and then he got Aquaman, which cost two hundred million. So you know, “pie-inthe-sky” as you say, but sometimes that pie really comes into fruition…one thing I hope never happens to me is for my team to not challenge me. “Tom, why do you want to do this, why do you want to do that?” I never want anybody to just yes me, because it’s something they think I wanna hear. I’m a big Star Wars fan to a degree, and people get mad when I say I’m not a big prequel fan, but I learned to respect the prequels because they’re still telling their story. But somewhere when Lucas was doing Episodes I to III, someone should’ve said “that’s a terrible idea” to certain things, but everyone was a yes man. Then you’ve got the controversy with Episode VIII, with older fans who hated it and others who loved it. Looking at its lore, it’s conflicting—if you look at it from the perspective of people who loved the Original Trilogy, Episode VIII broke every rule of that. But if you look at it from the perspective of the people who watched the Prequels, and follow the canon throughout, it’s a different story, and it’s fine. Your website says you’re putting out your first novel this year, which interested me as a fellow horror writer. Can you tell us about the book? It’s gonna be towards the end of the year…there’s a couple of things I was asked to write, and it’s kinda like a zombie book, and it’s probably gonna be towards the last quarter of the year. I’ll keep an eye out for it. One last question—what’s the strangest on-set story from a movie you’ve been involved with? I guess there’s different levels of strange, but to keep with the horror theme…we just finished shooting a movie that’s in post, The Amityville Harvest, and the location we used was haunted. We went in hearing it was haunted, and whether people believe it or not, we found out it was. One of my scripties had this camera always by her side, and she never lost a camera…but it disappeared from her side, and she has been using the same camera for twenty years. We heard kids laughing and clapping in the background at times, and one of my production designers was standing outside this door with frosted red glass, and behind it you could see images without really seeing what it was. So he’s standing outside on the porch talking to people, and he sees something move behind the red window. So he went to open the front door and found this tall guy, about six foot, in a white suit. And he smiled at him, so my production designer smiled back and closed the door. Then he was looking around to see who that was, because it was a location that was locked off with no way in it. It was private property—in fact, a museum area we rented with no one around. The doors were all locked and closed. So he calls me, I get off from lunch and go over to him, and he says he thinks he saw a ghost. And as we were talking we hear the front door close and people walk, but the front door was already closed. Once inside the house we heard more kids laughing and clapping. Then the lady who owns the house comes in and says “Can you describe what that person looks like?” We immediately describe, and she had a smile on her face and says that it’s Mister Harold, and everyone sees him, since it used to be his house. THAT creeped me out! … at the same house, they kept telling us there was this one locked room they didn’t want anybody in, it was closed at all times. So we were filming on the second floor, and there was what sounded like a door opening, but no one paid attention. Then we turn around and see the door that was supposed to be locked was now open. So I walked over to that and said out loud, “We’re just making a movie here, we don’t mean any harm, you have a lovely, lovely house!” I closed the door again and walked away, and it freaked me out. The atmosphere was very thick. You’ll be able to see the house when The Amityville Harvest comes out! http://www.thomaschurchillproductions.com/
Julia Goldstern Describe yourself in 3 word? Humorous, Loving, Reflective
Who has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why? Everything I have done in my life has had an impact on me. I am a reflective, spiritual person living in a Buddhist temple, doing Buddhist practice and teaching the monks, going on pilgrimage through India, working on cruise ships, visiting new places with new people and acting in an international movie.
How did you get started in the business? I grew up in a musical family, both my parents are musicians. I studied musical theater, film acting, did masterclasses in Los Angeles and London. I have been modeling since I was 16, in commercials. I worked as a background dancer for a couple music acts, had my own girl group at 15. I got casted for a kids music show that was produced by universal music and was linked to Europe’s biggest music show, “The Dome”, for which I hosted the backstage interviews with all the international stars. From there, I released 4 Songs Europe-wide and wrote my album, but it never got published. I acted in an international cinema movie called, “Chicken with Plums” by an Oscar-nominated director, Marjan Satrapi and acted in various national soap operas. I have always lived for my job as an actress, singer and entertainer since an early age. What genre of music do you sing? I released Euro Dance music for the billboard charts, but now I sing in production shows and have my own solo program in which I sing everything from Pop, to musical, to Jazz and Swing. I have a classical training in Bel canto and was raised with classical music. I’ve always wanted to become an opera singer. I do love the variety I have right now in my shows. What was the name of your first single? “Don’t Stop”, it hit the Billboard charts in Europe. Did you go to music school? I studied musical theater for three years and my mother taught me to play the piano and music theory. Earlier, I played violin.
Describe your sound in 3 words? Warm-hearted, Unique, Hypnotizing Who influenced you and why did you choose to make music? In my childhood, I was influenced by Madonna, Michael Jackson, Depeche Mode and George Michael. I grew up imitating music videos on MTV and creating my own. Since then, I had no real friends as a kid, cause I was overweight, I was always by myself and I believe this is why my path has led me to become a solo artist. There was no question as such for me on why I would want to perform, sing and dance. I can not live without it and it is my nature. It chose me. Until now, music and performance has been my cure for anything in this life. Being a singer, model and an actress, do you feel that it maybe conflicting some times? Being objectified as a woman is part of show business. The world looks at beautiful women and the industries use beauty and that energy to make money and control masses. Of course, there is sexual harassment, abuse and manipulation like in every other business. The good thing we artists have is, that we can make music, art and performance out of every experience. We can process it in ways that are useful to humanity so others can relate to us and find peace and connection to their own inner processes. To me, my body, my voice, my being is all an expression of the Art that I am creating in this world. My Tattoos are part of my expression of Art, such as my voice and dance performance is or a picture that I draw. Why not play and question the objectifications, question show business, through movies, Songs and Shows. I love to question societal issues, personal existential questions such as mental health in society, societal norms and structures. And I like doing something good with the fame or awareness that I am receiving through art, like saving the oceans. New artists wear oversized clothes so they don’t get bodyshamed, others provoke even more to show the triviality of the industry. We all know by now, that Sex sells and the masses are being hypnotized by the photoshoped images and music videos. This is a part of show business. The question is, what do Mega stars do with their fame, their money? Do they use it in positive or destructive manners. These role models in Pop music, Movie stars or Djs are influencing the world through their actions and their belief systems on conscious and subconscious levels. Therefore, we have more responsibility and should be using it in wise ways that bring peace … But sometimes, things need to be shaken up before there can be peace and clarity. How long have you been modeling and dancing for? Modeling since I was 16, dancing and singing since I could speak. Do you ever get nervous? I always get nervous before a show, cause I want to give the audience the most of myself that I got energetically to offer in that moment. Also, when I meet someone I really have a crush on. I tend to yawn, then a lot. So, before a show I am yawning and getting tired. That is why I can not date, cause I’d fall asleep. It is a weird reflex but it seems that my body is calming me down by doing that. What is your next goal in the entertainment industry? There are plenty of goals that excite me to experience! I would love to be a German guest actor in an American or British musical. I would love to shoot movies again in extraordinary roles. Like a female Joker or Superhero. I would love to record new music with a new production team and tour around the world on cruise ships and venues with my show. What can we expect of Julia Goldstern in 2020? I am doing big Production shows for Europe’s biggest and most popular resort chain called, Aldiana. We are the leading company for great entertainment coming from Germany, in Europe. Also, I am currently seeking new producers and labels to collab with for a new concept. What is you favorite song to belt out in the car or for Karaoke? I usually never do Karaoke, but on a ship I had to host one event with Karaoke. I made my own funny version of YMCA.
Name one your strengths? Not taking myself too serious anymore. I thought my life was a tragedy, but I have realized it is a comedy. What is your own definition of happiness? Being financially independent, living in my self created world where we all do what we love and live by the beach in the sun, being happily married to a wonderful partner. Any loves other than music/producing? Freediving! I did Scuba Diving in the past, but Freediving I just learned this January at Freedive Gili in Indonesia. These people are athletes and masters in what they are doing. World record holder passing on his expertise. I love the peaceful, tranquil underwater world, the best hide out to showbiz for me. It wasnâ€™t easy for me, but Freediving is definitely something I will pursue. Also, Surfing and paddleboarding are passions of mine. Since I am 100% sober, vegetarian and 100% drug-free... in my freetime, I love to connect to water rather than partying. People call me boring. Whatâ€™s a typical day in your life? I get up, exercise or go swimming in the sea for an hour, practice piano, practice voice for one or two hours, lunch time show rehearsel with the show team and in the evenings we perform a show. Every day a different one. I am very blessed in my job as I get to play so many different roles with a wide variety of music. I manage the theater. It is a perfect job in a beautiful location with great people around me. Idea of a perfect Sunday? Diving in the morning, recording my own music mid day, big show in the evening with many happy people leaving, spending time with my husband. What is your favorite healthy food? There is too many, but I would say Mango. And your favorite cheat food? Cake. I hate to say that, but in Germany we have great cake and even after so many years I gotta watch this guilty pleasure of mine as I try to cut sugar out of my diet completely. What would be a deal breaker on a first date? I do not have the time to date like regular people do, nor am I looking for that. But there a many deal breakers. Probably that is why am single. I guess I am engaged with my microphones and have a lifelong, stable relationship with performing. Men these days do not commit anymore or they have multiple girlfriends. I am just not into casual dating, hook up culture. I would want to get married. If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why? Just one person? Living it would be Elon Musk, cause I would like to learn form his genius mindset. Marylin Monroe due to her charisma and individuality. Do you support any charities? I served 6 months in India for Tibet Charity, teaching English to Tibetan monks and refugees. It was a heartbreaking yet a very rewarding time. After that, I taught English to monks in a forest temple. Now I still support some local Tibetan and Bhutanese friends when they are in need. They are great human beings with uncomparable hearts. I would want to organize a pilgrimage one day to the holy places they have shown me. How do you see yourself in 5 years? Acting in international movies, playing musical theater shows internationally, touring with my own show & music and band, sharing a cat with my husband, living in a tropical place. How would you describe your fashion style? I am an extreme person. I can go from wearing sweat pants in public with messy hair, to being overdressed in glitter dresses or completely black. I am very uncommon but always classy. I guess that is because I am a cancer rising and we tend to be a bit weird in everything we do Where we can follow you? Facebook: @JuliaGoldstern Instagram: @Juliagoldstern
What’s the origin of your band’s name? iZCALLi means “Rebirth” in the pre-hispanic language Nahuatl. It is also the name of the city Brenda and I grew up in, in Mexico. Please list the name, age, and respective instrument of each band member? Brenda Avina - 30 (Bass), Miguel Avina - 34 (Vox & Guitar), Luis Ramirez - 21 (Drums) What genre of music do you consider your work to be? We like to call it just “Rock”, but it is infused with a variety of influences ranging from Latin/Blues/Classic Rock/Indie/Alternative/Folk. When it comes to our music style, no rock is left unturned. Who are your major influences? I think it depends who you ask in the band, but I (Miguel) write the lyrics and music, I am influenced by a lot of classic rock bands, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, ACDC, as well as some more contemporary indie bands, The Killers, anything that involves Jack White and even some pop music. How long have you all known each other? Brenda and I have known each other all of our lives, we have known Luiggy since he was 12. How did you meet? I met Luiggy backstage at a Mana concert at the Pepsi Center, Brenda I met the day she was born. When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together? The band started in 2005 as an acoustic duo, morphed into a latin trio and eventually a power rock trio. Over the years we have invited accomplished auxiliary players to add extra flavor to our music such as Wesley Watkins (Trumpet and Keys) and Josh Lee (Fiddle). Do you have a record label? Are you a member of any music organizations? Our 5 studio albums are independently released, we are members of BMI. What can you tell me about your instruments? (i.e., Are you subject to brand loyalty or will you play with whatever’s available? I love Humbuckers and tube guitars, I think that any mix of those, regardless of brand (always considering quality instruments) is magical. With that said, I mostly play Gibson guitars, my main guitars called “2” is a 1960 Les Paul Classic and currently my backup on stage is an American Fender Stratocaster with Humbuckers and a Floyd Rose. All my
guitars are outfitted with either a bigsby or a tremolo, it started years ago for esthetic reasons and I have been able to incorporate it into my playing style. My main amp is a Fender Blues Deville 2x12 for bigger shows I will use an Orange AD-30 with 2 2x12 cabs. Studio amps, I use a Mesa Boogie Maverick 2x12 and a Fender Twin Reverb. What made you choose the instruments you have now? Admittedly, some of the gear choices I have made, started out due to “coolness” factor, specially early on when I was shaping my tone (which by the way is a never ending search!). Once I was able to identify some of the variables and factors to getting what I wanted, I started to weed out gear that was not useful to me and I was left with what I have now. Which songs do you perform most frequently? We never have a set list, but some of the most requested songs are: Casa De Papel, Solo Existes Tu, Horsie Song, Hindsight Bias, Cuba Libre Do you ever play any covers? Do you have a set play list? Who writes your songs? We have prided ourselves in being an all original band since inception but, we have had the pleasure of incorporating some hooks of our favorite bands to our set transitions. Most noticeable hooks from songs like “Five to One” from the Doors, “How Many More Times” Led Zeppelin, “War Pigs” Black Sabbath. We also have an unreleased cover of “Roxanne” by The Police that is sitting in the vault. We rarely have a set list and it is a heated topic amongst the core members of the band, I think it definitely has its pros and cons. Miguel, is the composer of all iZCALLi songs, Brenda and Luiggy have creative input when it comes to arrangements for sure. What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Most songs deal with love and love-loss, there are couple of tunes like “No esta en ti” and “Another Night” that deal with some of life’s problems in society and politics. We definetly are passionate and outspoken about our political advocacy but we tend to steer clear of writing songs that could divide people instead of bringing them together. Do you think these topics will change over time? For sure, as we grow older, things that we are passionate about evolve, the settings change and call for a different story to be told. Could you briefly describe the music-making process? Usually, it starts with a demo of some sort created by me (Miguel), I will take that and have a rough outline of what the melody and maybe a chorus will be like. Once I feel comfortable enough with the piece, I will showcase it at a practice session. Sometimes it takes some convincing on my part, other times it is a seamless process. The band’s sound ultimately is affected by my mood, but is open to influence from other members. How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together? We would like to think that the sound has just gotten tighter and more defined, we are always looking for more influences to keep our sound recognizable yet fresh. We have yet to master our own instruments, but we are always striving to improve as individual musicians too. What has been your biggest challenge as a band? The biggest challenge has been staying relevant over the years and staying hungry. We feel we have been on a
steady climb over the years, it is hard to keep that up and stay there. Some bands peak and decline quickly. I am glad to say I don’t feel we have peaked yet. Hopefully, we never will. I hope that the band continues to grow and evolve until it has run its cycle. Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how? What’s your ultimate direction for your band? I think we have been able to deal with the challenge by keeping our material fresh, but also knowing how to play different markets. We are happy to be able to play 3 shows in a weekend IN DENVER, but in 3 completely separate markets, maybe its playing for a family friendly event, then playing a concert venue, then a cooperate event, each of those bring a unique benefit to the band. Being a bilingual band allows us to tap into a market that not many have access to. Are you seeking fame and fortune? Seeking fame and fortune is a “secondary greatness” approach, you will never be satisfied with the amount of money or fame you have no matter how much it is. Our approach has been more about staying authentic to the project and align ourselves with telling stories that are worthwhile for people to listen to and enjoy. If you are doing it right and for the right reasons, money and fame will inevitably be a side affect of that. The challenge then becomes how do you keep this in motion with all the distraction and temptation that comes along with money and fame. What advice do you have for people who want to form their own band? The best piece of advice I have to offer, is to tell people to be authentic as to why they are starting a band and align those expectations with it. Some people just want to be in a band to be seen by their friends, others to make money, and that’s ok those things may run its course then you will have nothing to really drive your passion. Be authentic and do it for the right reasons. How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Best way to access our music? GO SEE US LIVE, buy our physical CD, come say hi at the merch table! Second best way? Online through youtube, Spotify, iTunes, you name it… we are there. Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD? We have released 5 full length albums to date: Casa de Papel (2019) iZCALLi IV (2018) iZCALLi III (2015) Despiertame (2009) Pintas en Pasteles (2007) All available on digital platforms or with the band! Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge for offering financial or emotional support? I’d like to acknowledge the support of our families, we have sacrificed so much to follow our passion but they have sacrificed just as much as they have been at our sides. Secondly, the support that people give us at shows! And third, the support of the Music Community in Denver that have recognized the work that we put in as peers and show genuine support in the things we believe in.
Edwina Maben We caught up with Singer-Sonwriter, Edwina Maben...
Photo Credit (Top): Ashley Nova
When did you first get into music? I first was introduced to music in the 1stgrade when my mother signed me up for the children’s choir at church. I struggled with social anxiety as a child, and my mom hoped that the children’s choir would allow me to socialize a little bit more with my peers. While I initially was very upset with her for making the decision for me, it ended up becoming the beginning of my journey with music. As I grew older I began diving into music theory, learning other instruments, and songwriting. What instruments do you play? Which do you prefer most? I play the piano, violin, guitar, and the ukulele. Of those four, I find myself gravitating most towards the guitar especially when it comes to songwriting. Who/What inspired you to pursue a career in music? I first start songwriting because it of its therapeutic properties, and initially did not intend to pursue it professionally. Just out of curiosity, I decided to enter one of my songs in Guitar Center’s Singer Songwriter 6 Contest in the fall of 2016. After months of waiting to hear if anyone I knew was a finalist of the 9,000+ entered songwriters, I was stunned to learn RedOne (Grammy winning producer who was involved with the contest that year) selected me as a top five finalist. I was flown out to LA for the finals in March of 2017, and was lucky enough to have my first ever performance at The Troubadour (notable venue in Los Angeles). I was shocked to see the adventure my songwriting had brought into my life, and as I’ve continued to pursue it I’ve found myself more exciting opportunities and loving friendships. How would you describe the music that you create? Honest, evocative, and intentional. How has your music evolved since you first began playing music? As mentioned, I started writing songs because it was a
comfortable and approachable method for me to discuss my feelings with myself. I penned my first song during a chapter of my life when I was dealing with both mental and physical health issues, and songwriting was a healthy distraction from it. While I still write when I personally feel the need to relax or reflect, I am now able to write and resonate with others’ stories as well. My songwriting has become more polished since I started, but my source of inspiration is more varied than ever. If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to stay in this tough business? Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why? It is absolutely joy. The business part, and sometimes even the social norms and habits of the industry, seem somewhat soul-draining at times. However, when someone tells me that they resonate with something I was singing or saying, I feel an immense amount of joy knowing that someone connected with something I created. I’ve found much comfort in music during various chapters of my life, and I feel so touched when someone expresses their own personal connection with my creations. Which ingredient do you think makes you special and unique as a performing artist in a genre overflowing with new faces and ideas? Even though it may sound cliché, I truly believe everyone has the ability to be ‘special and unique’ if they learn to love and celebrate both the positive and negative aspects of their own life story. I’m still in the process of learning to love some of the challenges that exist in the unique circumstances I was given, but I’ve noticed those same struggles often bring me the most thoughtful and detailed songs. I guess in my mind the ‘ingredient’ that makes me special is my ability to create songs that discuss my story and the unique lessons I’ve learned from it thus far, and I truly believe this vulnerability helps me create a genuine and organic relationship between me and my audience. What has been your biggest challenge as a musician/ singer-songwriter? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how? Even though I have greatly improved over the last couple of years, I still sometimes struggle with imposter syndrome. If I am not being mindful about the thoughts I allow to swirl in my mind, my anxiety likes to remind me about all the things I haven’t done yet while letting my impressive and deserving accomplishments fade away. When I find myself slipping into this old habit, I’ve found practices like prayer and thoughts of gratitude most helpful. While they are simple things, these habits ground me and remind me of my incredible journey so far and the exciting goals I’m currently working towards. A common phrase in the industry is, “you must suffer for your art”. Do you agree with this statement? If so, how have you suffered for your art? I would not choose the word “suffer”, but rather “sacrifice”. Just like with any other goal in life, one needs to sacrifice time and energy in order to reach their desired state or outcome. I have definitely skipped social events (ex. Parties, hangouts, etc.) for songwriting or rehearsals, and those events were sacrifices I was willing to make in order to have better songs or future performances. The only time I think I would ever feel like I’m ‘suffering’ for art would be if I was being forced to do or create something that did not allow me to maintain my artist integrity. Photo Credits: Cara Noelani
Which artists are you currently listening to? And is there anyone of these that you’d like to collaborate with? A couple artists I’ve been listening to recently include Maggie Rogers, Harry Styles, AJR, Tayla Parx, Hozier, J. Cole, Jon Bellion, Mac Miller, Jacob Collier, and Joni Micthell (Blue is one of my favorite albums of all time so its songs are always sprinkled into my playlists). I listen to a wide variety of music, and find a lot of it by asking my friends and family about their favorite songs. The idea of collaborating with an artist like Maggie Rogers makes me feel like my entire being would explode, as I admire her music as well as her story in so many ways. How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business? The internet has obviously had an incredible impact for artists in terms of possibilities for exposure or visibility (ex. Youtube, social media platforms, etc.), but the rise of streaming services has not necessarily been as beneficial to songwriters and producers as it has been for music consumers. I believe that the imbalance that exists right now will eventually be corrected as long as creators continue to advocate for their rights, but like most things, the internet brought both positive and negative effects to the industry. If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be? The lack of female producers and sound engineers in the current music industry. What are the 5 albums that have helped make you the person you are today? (In no specific order) Blue by Joni Mitchell (1971) Speak Now by Taylor Swift (2010) + by Ed Sheeran (2011) Chaos And The Calm by James Bay (2014) Heard It In A Past Life by Maggie Rogers (2019) Tell us about your current project? I am currently working on writing my first album! I really want to challenge myself to write about topics that aren’t usually discussed in main stream music including mental health and grief, while also expressing the joy and freedom one can feel while moving forward. What’s next for you? I’m opening for singer songwriter, Rob Riccardo, at The Walnut Room on April 15th! How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? My music is on all major streaming platforms, and you can find it by searching “Edwina Maben”!
Did you feel a creative freedom, as an independent artist, while recording this EP called “Road On Which We Travel”? I had complete freedom. I had never considered myself a songwriter but I sat down and decided that I could write a song, which then lead to completing all 4 songs that are now on my EP. I wrote the melody and lyrics completely on my own and then my producer helped by adding in the other instruments and rhythm. It was a really fun process.
You talk openly on social media and in your podcast about the challenges of being a female Country artist, which inevitably comes with struggles for radio airplay. Is it easier to talk about that more freely now, as an indepe ndent artist? I think the discussion in all circles of music is changing as both independent artists as well as well known artists are speaking out about supporting women in music. Whether it’s more airplay, supporting young girls in becoming musicians, or having more female artists perform at venues and events. I don’t think it’s an easy topic but it’s one that needs to be addressed and I feel that I need to use what voice I have to help young girls foster their dream of one day being a singer songwriter. What was it like working with Andrew Ishee. Three, and what did she bring to the table as a producer? Did she get something out of you in the studio that maybe you didn’t know you had? I had been trying to raise enough money to record my first EP in Nashville but I couldn’t quite get the funds together so I talked to a friend who knew Andrew and put me in touch with him. He’s a pianist and producer out of Laurel, MS and after talking to him decided he could help me get the project complete within the budget constraints I had. He was super friendly and helped me feel more comfortable in the studio so that we got a great recording. He’s worked with a lot of musicians and regularly travels with a more well known band so he had some insight on what the finished product should sound like.
Why did you decide to launch your podcast, and give us a little background about it? I don’t have a podcast however, I do have a blog I started on my website called “Reatha’s Rythym” blog. It is still knew and gaining traction but it’s another outlet for me to share a part of my life with fans. It was originally started to allow fans to interact with me and find out more out the personal side of me and what in my life influences me which helps to drive my music, however, it is currently just a short excerpt about what is going on in my life at that time...without getting too personal. Talk about the story behind the song “Hittin The Road,”? And will “Hittin The Road” be promoted at Country radio, or are other songs being considered? Hittin The Road is a the first song I wrote and it’s about a woman who’s husband is cheating on her and she’s had enough. I wanted to inspire women to leave the
the men they’re with if they’re in a similar situation. I am not a person that is going to sit around and feel sorry for myself, I’m gonna take action and when a man cheats on me you can bet the ranch I’m gonna leave and not look back. The song is currently being played on a number of internet radio shows and I am hoping to break it into the country radio FM channels but that is a work in progress. My EP was also featured in a local publication “The Coast Observer”. What is one of your favorite female Country songs from your childhood? I don’t have a favorite song from my childhood but my all time favorite artist is the country mother/daughter duo The Judds. I’m obsessed with them. I love the rugged sound and all their songs. I actually went to see them in concert in the late 90’s when Naomi went back on tour with Wynnona for the comeback tour. I’m not sure I’ll ever love an artist as much as I have always loved them. Has anyone in the music industry given you particularly good advice? Advice come freely in the music industry and everyone has an opinion. Most of the time I take what everyone says to me and I weigh it out. I’m a super analytical person and so I will listen to all the advice and the ones that get repeated or make more sense is what I tend to follow. There really isn’t any one piece of advice anyone has given me that really stands out. But I am always open to receiving advice because I think it helps me understand the business aspect better which in turn helps me develop as an artist. Do you draw much inspiration from your personal experiences for your songwriting? All of my songwriting comes from personal experience. I had men that cheated on me which is where both of my cheating songs “Hittin The Road” and “Darlin He’s Yours” come from. “Room For Both Of Us” is a song I wrote in response to jealous women who wanted to keep me from pursuing my dream because it was perceived that it would harm their chances which is totally not the case and I think we should be supporting each other because there’s room for more than one person in the industry even if on a local level. Finally, “Daddy’s Little Girl” is the song I wrote about my dad who at the time was dying of cancer. I wanted him to be able to hear the song before he died and he was incredibly proud of that song. Other background information: I wrote and recorded the first EP while serving on active duty in the Navy and though I am proud to have served my country I am glad to be able to support Veteran’s in a musical capacity. While I perform locally my heart really enjoys performing at veteran events and veteran awareness events. I look forward to being able to share a part of me with the world as well as help veterans. Even though I have an old country sound this next album I am working on is more eclectic as far as topics and will appeal to wider audience. I can’t wait to share it! Thank you, Reatha
a.k.a. MC Replay We caught up with the lovely and talented Sara Winta from North Yorkshire Harrogate also know as “MC Replay”. Who are your influences? Eminem Big L Kapital If you could compare yourself to an already established artist, who would that be and why? I think I would say, Eminem because my music is so diverse and clever. Who is your hero? My mother How would you define your music? Diverse, real life messages and quite clever. Have you always enjoyed the art of music? My whole family listens to different music, but it’s only me who likes hip hop and it’s culture. There’s so much to enjoy through hip hop. What do you think your listeners will get out of your music? Something real and relatable. What were you thinking about when this song was developed? My mental health had taken a dip, so I decided to write a verse about my real life struggle. What made you want to get into the business? I wanted to reach as many people as possible and be able to be my own boss. One day I’d like to help others with their music dreams. What is the most difficult thing you had to endure in life? The deaths of friends and family. What is the most difficult thing you had to endure in the music industry? Not being able to perform because of mental illness and having the radios knock me back. How does it feel to be finally getting your break? I have more people listening and reacting to my music, in such a supportive way and I’ve sold a few songs which feels amazing. What do you hope to do with your music? Tour the world with my music. What do you plan to do if you make it big? Help my family, give to charity and set up a stable life. How do you plan to help change the world? If I can give a message through my music, I want more people to come together like in the old days and have fun with music.
Felix Ayodele a.k.a Felix Fast4ward
How has your music evolved since you first began playing music? I’m way less weird and experimental. The experiments are done, I’m just expressing my truth these days. What musician would you like to collaborate with and why? Wesley Watkins! That dude can write a song.
Are you a member of any music organizations? Youth on Record and Swallow Hill! Both organizations are deeply fulfilling and allow me to bring my love for music to others who also love music and being inspired.
Where have you performed? What are your favorite venues in Colorado? Red Rocks 3 Times so far! My favorite is still Lost Lake! What has been your biggest challenge as a independent artist? Learning how to properly manage time. Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how? Not just yet, baby steps for sure …priorities are key. How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? felixayodele.com // IG & FB: Felix Fast4ward Any last words? Love is key.
Photo Credit (Right 2): Annie Rose Photography
Who are your inspirations? (as in other artists) Ciara and Teyana Taylor
When did you first start rapper? 2017 How many songs do you have out? I have 2 and you can find my Original track G-Style2.0 and First Round on all streaming platforms. Being a female in a male dominated market what makes you stand outside of the other young ladies coming into the rap game? Most female rappers are adapting to society’s image of them, where as I am trying to be a positive influence to our young ladies to let them know it’s ok to have morals and values along with clean music that speaks truth to our generation. Does your music have a message with it? Yes, that women can come in the rap game and go just as hard as the men, but remain classy while doing it. Who is your favorite artist and why? Ciara, because she is an all-around entertainer and can give you a full show that draws you in. She also has reinvented herself and kept her morals intact. What did your family do to encourage you? They encouraged me to never give up on myself. When I don’t feel like going they push me harder. My family is my “WHY”. Who else in your family sings or rap? My mother used to sing and rap, my brother is an up and coming singer, and my sister is a singer-songwriter.
Who are your musical inspirations? Romeo from the Memphis legendary group G-Style who inspired me to start rapping and the Legendary Ladell Beamon of Heal the hood Foundation of Memphis who inspires me to never give up on my dreams. What kind of music do you listen to today? I have a very eclectic taste in music I listen to just about all genres of music What embarrassing songs might I find on your MP3 player? Phantom of the Opera and Con Te partiro Where would you most like to perform? BET Hip Hop Awards and Grammys Who would you most like to open for? Beyoncé If you weren’t singing/rapping, what would you be doing? Dancing which is my true life passion along with acting. Do you play any instruments? No If you could dabble in another genre of music, what would it be? Opera or country What genre of music can’t you stand to listen to? Bluegrass What hidden talents do you have? I am dancer, actress, model and Teen motivational speaker. Do you enjoy writing music and/or lyrics? It can be grueling at times but when I’m in my zone I enjoy it. Do you want to give any one a shout out? My Mother Marla Clark who’s my manager. My amazing PR Miriam Graham Nubian Queen Management. My Father and Bonus Mom Marcus and Latrice Lyles. My Bonus Father Pat Smith, My God Father Romeo Franklin, my siblings, and The entire HTH Memphis Family.
We caught up with the artist that goes by the name of December Fades.... How did u get the name December Fades? The name was originally from a short-lived rock trio I played drums in while attending Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA. Years later I became a singer-songwriter and when I was ready to release my first single I had to decide on using my name or an artist name. December Fades always resonated with me. What was once just a cool sounding band name, evolved into something deep and meaningful — embodying my sound and style and me as a person and an artist. As December fades into January, our year comes to an end — leaves change color, fall, and wither away. Bare trees become the blank canvas for the flourishing life to come, symbolizing all cycles of life. December Fades represents closing doors to open new ones; growing and starting the next phase — new year, a new light, new beginnings, new hopes and dreams. My darkest songs have an ounce of hope, and my happiest songs still have a drop of the underlying struggle and strife overcome. What is the name of the genre of music you perform? I would consider my produced tracks Alt-pop or alt electro-pop. When I perform solo I often keep it barebones, which I would consider to be singer-songwriter pop. How long have you been in the music industry? As a singer-songwriter, I’ve only been in the industry for about 6 years. However, I’ve been mixing music for 19 years, drumming for 27, and playing and creating music most of my life. What was the name of your first song? My first recorded and released song was “Fight.” It’s still one of my best. People seem to really connect to it. I actually performed “Fight” at a wedding where the bride and groom had choreographed a dance to it. That was a special experience. Do you have a record label? D Fades Records. Are you a member of any music organizations? I’m a BMI member What can you tell me about your instruments? (i.e., Are you subject to brand loyalty or will you play with whatever’s available? I always use my Sennheiser e945 microphone for live performances and scratch tracks. I’m a big fan of Sennheiser mics — they have a consistently clear and clean sound that really fits my voice. Other than that I’m pretty open to using different brands of instruments. It’s really more about plugins, sample libraries, and software rather than the physical instruments. I’m a Pro Tools user that loves creating with libraries like Kontakt, HeavyOcity, Spitfire Audio, and many more. Some of my favorite plugins are Waves CLA-76, H-delay, Fabfilter EQ3 and L2. SoundToys is an amazing creative suite. Lately I’ve been learning and daydreaming about izotope bundles, which seem to be more focused on mixing and mastering.
What made you choose the instruments you have now? For software I’m looking for simplicity, tweakabillity, sound, creativity, and price. Well, the Casio Privia PX-150 has weighted keys, speakers, decent sounds, is a great MIDI controller, lightweight and easy to carry around. I’ll probably upgrade to the newer PX-1000 or PX-3000 soon because it’s even more lightweight, compact, can be battery-powered, and the speakers are louder and face the audience. At home I use an Akai MPK88 MIDI controller to track. I’ll never take it out of the house! It’s way too heavy. I bought my guitar when I worked at Guitar Center many moons ago. I purchased an Ibanez Artwood which I later modified with a bone bridge and nut, and an LR Baggs Anthem pickup, which allows you to blend a built-in condenser boundary mic to the piezo pickup. The Tru mic actually helps accentuate my percussive finger-picking style. I use my Epiphone Les Paul for all my electric guitars on the recordings and some live shows. My DW drum kit made it on two songs on the “Is It Love EP.” More and more I enjoy creating my beats with sample libraries and electronic sounds. I love playing drums, but I find myself overplaying. When I’m in production mode, I’m still playing the drums, only it’s with my fingers on a MIDI controller. I’m listening in a different way. I’m looking for interesting grooves with space and supportive texture instead of a lot of notes that feel good to play.** Was it cost or was it a style/model/brand/color preference? For all the instruments it was about cost, feel, and convenience. Except for my DW kit, I really went all out on that one. It was about the brand name and sound. Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows? Some of my favorite places to play include Hotel Cafe and Molly Malone’s in Los Angeles, Rockwood Music Hall in NYC, and the Bop Stop in Cleveland, OH. I prefer listening rooms rather than chatty bars. I currently don’t have any shows booked because I’ve been in the studio focusing on writing, recording, and producing. I’ll be releasing some singles in the next… Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you ever play any covers? Do you have a set play list? From my EP, “Fight,” “Crash and Burn,” and “Is It love” often end up in my solo set. I like to mix it up and add new songs, and maybe some older unreleased songs. If I play with my live drummer, Matt Barreca, I usually end up playing “Under My Skin” and “Diamonds Rain” and more of the rockers. Who writes your songs? I wrote and produced all of my released songs. I write the vast majority of my songs, except for a few older collaborations. What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time? I write about things that move me, typically extremes — love and heartbreak, euphoria and addiction, struggle and triumph, hope and despair, fear and bravery. My most recent song is about saving the world. I’m passionate about the environment, animals, and protecting the natural world. We all need to do our part, whether it’s conserving and recycling whenever possible, choosing certain eco brands or businesses, or contributing to sites like GreenPeace, Rainforest Trust, and 8 Billion Trees. By the way, if you’re going to use Amazon, make sure to go to Smile.amazon, because .5% of all your purchases will go to a charity of your choice. It’s small but it adds up. Could you briefly describe the music-making process? Every song begins to form through improvising, stream of consciousness, and exploring without confines. I allow myself to just feel and play without limiting myself with over- thinking and judgement. Once I discover a riff or melodic idea that really tugs at my heartstrings, I expand and refine until I have a solid foundation — a melodic theme that is concise, emotive, and memorable. It’s basically trial and error until I find what best supports the centerpiece, the vocals and melody. Writing songs can take a few days to a few weeks, maybe even months or years to finish. What are your rehearsals generally like? It’s usually just me in my apartment singing through my set for my next show. I start out by doing vocal warm-ups for about 20 minutes, a few throat, neck and back stretches and drinking some hot tea or hot water. When I’m rehearsing with my drummer, Matt, we rehearse in our studio using In-ear monitors, and we play along with production tracks (backing tracks). We run through the entire set, stopping after each song to discuss parts and transitions. Then we run the songs back to back as if we’re on stage.
Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous? It all depends on whether I’m performing. If it’s an important show, I’ll try to run through my set every day for a week or even two. If it’s a songwriter showcase or songwriters round where I’m only playing 3 songs, I’ll just run those 3 songs twice a day for about 3 days before the set. If I’m playing with my drummer, Matt, I’ll rehearse a few days a week with him and then run through songs on my own at home on the other days. How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together? It continually evolves just like we do as people. When I start a song, I have no idea what it’s going to turn into. I allow it to take shape and age like a fine wine. A song will continue to change up until I mix and master it. Once I start tracking and focusing on production, I’m listening in a different way which opens up new ideas. Similarly to songwriting, with production I have no idea what it’s going to end up like. I just start putting together sounds and discovering what works; choosing what best supports the song — melody, lyrics, and vocals — instead of distracting from them. As new ideas arrive, I simplify and refine, trimming fat and shaping musical parts to have nice phrasing, space, and thematic hooks. Also, my creativity pushes my musicianship and vice-versa. Everything has an effect on songwriting: drumming, mixing, producing, singing, lyric-writing. It all affects the other. Having the experience and awareness of each element allows me to paint a more cohesive, comprehensive picture. There are just so many moving parts that have to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle or the gears of a fine watch. As I grow and gain knowledge, my music evolves and reflects those changes. What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how? One of the biggest challenges is having to wear all the hats. Each role is a completely different focus and mindset that requires that requires different sets of skills. Songwriting, booking, promoting, social media, producing, mixing, mastering, and continually trying to improve my craft and skills. I even learned Photoshop and Premiere for editing live clips and ads. It’s a lot of juggling. Luckily my “day job” is actually a night job as a live audio engineer for music venues in Los Angeles. The other big challenge is me. I get in my own way: self-doubt, comparing, distractions, pigeon-holing myself, or small thinking get in the way. I have to redirect my negative thinking into positive, encouraging, hopeful, and loving thoughts. And I have to remember to think BIG and not limit my potential! What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune? I’m totally open to fame and fortune. That kind of success would be amazing. But regardless of my perceived success, music runs through my veins. It’s my love, my passion, my outlet, and my saving grace. I live and breathe music. So whether I’m playing at the Staples Center for a sea of people, or at a coffee shop like Republic of Pie in North Hollywood, I’ll always be creating and performing music till my last breath. What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands? Do it yourself. Buy Pro Tools or Logic and start messing around with recording and production. Watch youtube videos. A world of information is at your fingertips. If you’re going to form a band, find people that are as good as you or hopefully better. Don’t settle for mediocrity….ever! Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge for offering financial or emotional support? I’d like to acknowledge my mom for never giving up on me and always being encouraging and supportive, and my fans that continue to believe in me and my music. I would also like to give a very special shoutout to Theresa June-Tao for directing/editing/acting/dancing in our award-winning music video “Crash and Burn”. https://youtu.be/B74FYhh-cuA Any last words? Your ego is not your amigo. Always follow your heart and listen to gut feelings. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Keep going no matter what! Here are some links I’d like to include: http://decemberfades.com/ https://www.instagram.com/decemberfades/ https://www.facebook.com/decemberfades/ “Crash and Burn” Official Music Video: https://youtu.be/B74FYhh-cuA
What’s the origin of the name of your band? I came up with the name as a way to describe the way I like to listen to and write music. Always changing, evolving and staying current. Please list the name, age, school, and respective instrument of each band member. Matt Phillips. age 53. Been out of school for quite a while! -all instruments What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences? alternative rock. Foo Fighters, Ra and Death Cab For Cutie among many others. How long have you all known each other? How did you meet? I’ve known myself since birth. When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together? Go Evolution started in 2012. I originally started the band wanting to be the drummer and songwriter. I`ve been a drummer most of my life. After quickly realizing that most of my musician friends were married with families and not much time to dedicate to a band I decided that I would tackle all of the instruments and vocals myself. For better or worse. Do you have a record label? Are you a member of any music organizations? We are not signed to a record label. I`m a BMI member. What can you tell me about your instruments? (i.e., Are you subject to brand loyalty or will you play with whatever’s available? What made you choose the instruments you have now? Was it cost or was it a style/model/brand/color preference? I’ve been playing Tama drums and Sabian cymbals for years and love their sound and quality. Guitars, I have an Ovation acoustic and a Schecter electric that both sound great. Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows? Although I have performed live many times over the years, Go Evolution has not yet with the exception of recorded videos that we’ve made.
Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you ever play any covers? Do you have a set play list? I mostly enjoy playing our newer songs. We do an Alice In Chains
song called Them Bones and we’ve got a cover of Bob Marley`s Three Little Birds on our new disc. Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time? I write all of our songs. I`d consider our songs semi-autobiographical. I write about what I know and how I feel. A lot of our songs are dark but, optimistic. Could you briefly describe the music-making process? Usually I sit down with the guitar and experiment. If I come up with something that sounds good I`ll try to think of a melody to sing over it. If I get to that point I`ll then try to write words to the melody. Lyrics are usually the most challenging part! What are your rehearsals generally like? Rehearsals are generally going over every song to make sure they stay fresh. Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous? I try to dedicate time each day to music. It`s not always rehearsal though. It could be songwriting, recording, making videos, sending emails, social media, website blogs and on and on! How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together? I feel our music is always getting better and I like to experiment with new sounds and ideas. What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how? The biggest challenge with this band is doing 99% of everything myself. I have overcome this challenge by staying dedicated and putting in the time it takes to complete an this project one step at a time. What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune? I love playing and making music. I would still do it even if I was my only fan. But, I also believe that a people will like it too and they are starting to let me know that now. What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands? Forming a band can be tough to get the right chemistry. But, if you want it bad enough you`ll be successful. How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD? Fans of our band can always access our music on our website: https://goevolutionband.com/home or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/goevolutionband/?ref=bookmarks Our new album we`re excited to announce, will only be available in a video email series this spring at: https://mailchi.mp/163ed6b36ff0/go-evolution-album-release. Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge for offering financial or emotional support? My family and fans of the band have been incredibly supportive. Any last words? I`m thankful that I`m able to make music that makes people happy. If there`s anything I missed let me know. Thanks so much for the opportunity to be a part of Aidem Media Group!
We caught up with Colorado’s, Saints Of Never After.... What’s the origin of that name? The name of our band is Saints Of Never After. We were in our garage discussing some of our favorite band names, and how they came about. Some were based on old fables, legends, weird scenarios, you name it. We went the Fantasy/ Legend route, and out of a list of about 5 good band names, we landed on, Saints Of Never After. “SONA” means to be the protectors of the young and the broken. Kinda nerdy but kinda cool. Sums us up well! Please list the name, age, and respective instrument of each band member? Brian Robertson (24) Vox/Guitar Jordan Persons (27) Bass Brenden Tharp (30) Drums/Vox Nathan Lee (27) Lead Guitar What genre of music do you play? We are a blend of Post Hardcore with Punk influences as well. We lead on the melody side with heavy riffs, and hard hitting breakdowns. It makes for a fun set! Who are your major influences? With such a dynamic group of musicians, we have an eclectic mix of influences such as Escape the Fate, Three Days Grace, Skillet, Blink-182, Architects, Avenged Sevenfold, and many more. How long have you all known each other? How did you meet? We met at the start of this band! When we originally orchestrated the line up, it was about 3 1/2 years ago. We met on Craigslist Musicians page, and acquired our previous lead player (Drew Claus) by chance. We were practicing in a garage, and Drew came and knocked on the door with his dad asking what the band was about, and if we had a lead player. It was almost too good to be true. SONA was named that night, and the rest is history. When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together? The passion and love we have when we play music is unlike any other. We have this feeling that erupts when we play, and we chase it every day. We want only to be a voice for those who go unheard, and an ear for those who feel invisible. SONA is a safe place not only for the members, but also its fans. We hope to comfort people with our music, the same way it comforted us in our lives.
Do you have a record label? Are you a member of any music organizations? We are not on a label, but we hope to catch some attention here soon! No organizations either.
Where have you performed? Great question! We have performed all over Colorado. From Fort Collins to Pueblo, and everywhere in between. We recently went on tour (The Make It Happen Tour) and traveled to New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada (Vegas), and Utah. It was a blast! What are your favorite venues? Honestly, we have a few! The Moxi in Greeley, Colorado is near and dear to our hearts. We also love playing at The Marquis in Denver, Colorado as well. On tour, our favorite venue was in Provo, Utah. It’s called “The RAD Shack” and that’s exactly what it was. A rad shack. Which songs do you perform most frequently? Our setlist always contains: Goes On, I Stand Alone, Tower and Mean To Me. Those are our strong 4 that can’t be missing from a show. Do you ever play any covers? We used to play covers all the time! Whether it was “Face Down” by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, or “Not Good Enough for Truth or Cliche” by Escape the Fate we brought on the old school emo post hardcore vibes. Who writes your songs? It’s a mixture of us all. We each add our own flair to the songs that make it our own, while offering insight to one another to create the best song possible. It’s a nice way of keeping it fresh but also realistic in the music industry. What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time? Our songs vary as far as topics, but the main theme we try to embody is perseverance and the strength to overcome day to day struggles. We have songs have relate to those struggling with depression, mental health, relationships (good or bad), etc.. Our vocalist Brian writes a lot about his faith in Christ, and tries to involve that as much as possible in his writing too. We only speak on things we feel we understand, or want others to get an insight to. We want to be a band that speaks on things happening now and how to conquer certain obstacles. Could you briefly describe the music-making process? Our music making process has varied over the past few years. Sometimes will get together, start with a simple rift, and by the end of rehearsal have a complete song front to back. Lyrics typically are created by our vocalist Brian, but others will lend a hand if they feel something speaking to them as well. Other times, one of us will have a certain lyric in mind, and will ask for help from the others to help it evolve into a complete stanza, or entire song. When going into the recording process, we tend to hear things that we couldn’t before. When this happens, we all hit the drawing board and continue creating/ producing until we feel the song is exactly the way we wanted it to be.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous? Usually we keep it at a practice a week. We’ll get together, talk about what’s ahead and focus our playing on whatever we have in sight. Whether it be a show, Tour, recording, we alter the rehearsal to fit the needs of the band. Since finishing our record “Return to Tower PARTS: 1 & 2” we have been having more writing rehearsals and general jam practices. How has your music evolved since you first began playing music? When we first got together, it was very young, naïve, and sugar coated. We really started to dive into more elaborate writing after our song, “Mean to Me” was created. Now, we pay close attention to every word we choose, how often we play in a certain key, what progressions, etc. The sound we have now has the maturity, poise, and flair we desired for so long. What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Honestly, keeping members. We have had an incredible mix of guitarists that have hopped on board with us, but never stay for the long haul. The music industry life is as enticing as ever with the advancements in music services, pop culture and fame. However, it is not as secure as most people want in their lives. MULTIPLE times our guitarists have left because they can’t or don’t desire to go the distance and have this lifestyle for the rest of their lives. No harm, no foul, just the truth. Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how? Yes! We have been pushing to find the right fit, and we believe we found that with our friend Nathan Lee. Not to mention, Brian has been working tirelessly on his guitar playing abilities, and a lot of growth has been shown. It is very apparent in our upcoming music releases, and we couldn’t be happier. What’s your ultimate direction for your band? We want to do this for the rest of our lives. We are wanting it to head into forever. There isn’t anything in the world that we would rather do, than play our music together. Ultimately, we hope to tour the world, and have our friends and families with us every step of the way. Are you seeking fame and fortune? We are very aware that if our music takes off, all the stars align, and we somehow shoot to the top of the charts, fame and fortune are soon to follow. We in SONA only seek to put out the best music possible that we enjoy making. If fame and fortune come of it, we won’t be mad at all! We’ll welcome it, and use it to push us even further.
What advice do you have for people who want to form their own band? Don’t rush! When we first started, we rushed to make a demo, rushed to get a photo shoot, rushed to get a music video... We didn’t put anything into the marketing, nothing into the branding, and it set us back. Focus on your art, make it THE BEST product that you can give (even if that means spending more), nurture it, and then release. Always have content ready and available when starting up. No one wants to ‘Like’ a band page or ‘check you out’ without any context or material. Wish we had known that! How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? We are all over social media and streaming services. Whether you use Spotify, Apple Music, or even Google Play, SONA is there. We want to be current and on every platform possible so no one is hindered from hearing us. Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD? We do have a website! On the home page, there is a direct listening box of our Spotify list, so people can get a quick 1 minute listen while scrolling through. Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge? Of course! We can’t do this and be in this band without several people. Our fans, family members, our significant others, SONA crew and producers... without them we would be nowhere. People like, Troy Wages (roadie/ security) who has been there for us since day 1 make it possible. Cameron Fischer who helped record/produce some of our best work yet and always helped boost the quality no matter what. We are so beyond blessed, we’d be here forever just listing them out! Any last words? We are so excited to play Moe’s Original BBQ and showcase our latest EP, “Return to Tower: PART 2”. These new songs are sure to make your neck break, and the bands playing by our sides will get the room moving. Thousand Frames, Aradia and Taking Alpha absolutely slam. Click the links below and check out the new EP. Learn the songs, and be ready to dance! “Return to Tower PART: 2” .... is NOW STREAMING EVERYWHERE! https://open.spotify.com/album/1UppAzROrPq3H51hUc7zOJ… https://music.apple.com/…/return-to-tower-pt-2-ep/1491851621 More Music Videos and Tours to come your way soon! Until then, we’d like to thank you for this opportunity, and we hope to do it again soon. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4-9HzYj7gMlBZzdi6Q2ofQ
Photo Credit (Bottom Right): Kamrin Taylor Photography
Mace Windu Describe your sound? Genre? I really don’t know. Hip hop and some other thangs in the mix.
What got you into music? This is mad corny, but I remember seeing the movie “8 Mile” as a kid, and I just wanted to spit bars. I have always loved music though. What’s your favorite song and why? Right now, probably “John Redcorn” by Sir.
Why did you decide to become a songwriter? I just have things to say, you know? I figure, if i’m good at what I do, then people will listen. What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Just real life. Whatever is going on in my life at the moment, is what my music reflects. Do you think these topics will change over time? They change all the time. Do you follow a formula when you write? I freestyle a lot before I write. It helps me get a flow going. Which song did you have the most trouble writing? “Hard Feelings” off my last album, Genuine. Do you ever perform any covers or do you only perform originals? Only originals. What has been your biggest challenge as a independent artist? Being genuine and authentic everywhere I go. Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how? Yes. By not giving a fu**. How has your music evolved since you first began playing music? I’ve become myself. I’ve lost the anxiety of pleasing other people. What musician or artist would you like to collaborate with and why? Anthony Hamilton would be dope.
Where have you performed? What are your favorite venues? My favorite places I have performed in Denver are The Bluebird, Gypsy House, Lions Lair, The Other Side, and the Fillmore. How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? macewindu1.bandcamp.com/album/genuine
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Giving You The Fruit of the Industry. Vol. 2 Featured Interview: Actress Naomi Grossman