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>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Read TMG artist Brittani’s story on page 19


FIRST THINGS FIRST Over the last two years, something incredible has happened within the music and entertainment industries. They have become more social, more interactive. The voice of the people-that’s you!--has become more powerful. And all along, Variance has been here. As the world becomes a smaller place, Twitter and the blogosphere have become the new town square, where people share their opinions and speak their mind. We’ve been listening and doing our best to give you a voice. We’ve tried our hardest to read every tweet, every Facebook post, every e-mail and every blog comment. Top 40 radio not your thing? We get it. You’re a fan of the underdogs and undiscovered talent. We are, too. As we celebrate our second birthday, your voice is the most important element about Variance. We’re proud to have featured many of your favorite musicians, actors, writers and other creatives. We’ve brought you stories from The All-American Rejects, Ben Rector, the guys from MTV’s The Buried Life, The Civil Wars (pre-Grammys), Dev, Eric Hutchinson, Explosions in the Sky, fun. (before and after their explosive rise), Gavin DeGraw, Gotye, Gym Class Heroes, Ingrid Michaelson, New Girl’s Jake Johnson, best-selling author Jon Acuff, Karmin, Kate Voegele, Kristin Chenoweth, Lights, Mat Kearney, Mayer Hawthorne, Miike Snow, MUTEMATH, The Naked and Famous, Patrick Stump, Phantogram, Switchfoot, and Viddy (before it became the hottest video app on the planet).

Many of those stories were driven by you, the readers. You asked, you suggested, you demanded, because it’s your magazine. The stories that show up on our website? They’re driven heavily by the things you’ve told us you care about. And with this new issue, we’re excited to feature one of the people you’ve requested most, starting with the cover. Ed Sheeran has recently released his album, +, in the United States, but no other artist has received more requests on our website, social media accounts or e-mail inboxes than Mr. Sheeran. And we must admit, you have great taste in music. The young singer-songwriter is beyond talented, and his music has been on our Spotify playlists and iTunes for months. We can’t stop listening. As we mentioned before, we’re still young and we’re still learning, but the journey thus far has been a great one, and we’re honored to have you along for the ride. Thank you. This isn’t possible without you. Keep tweeting us. Keep telling us what you like and what you want. You may notice some changes on our website and social networks in the future. We’d love to know your thoughts. We hope you enjoy the new issue. Give it a read, and if you like it, let your friends in on the goodness. If you don’t like it all that much, tell us why. We want to get better. Also, beware, there may be bonus content in here somewhere. It’s your birthday, too!

“Mercy” by @drewbeegs

Ed Sheeran

“Give Me Love” by @juliaacoverton

Frank Ocean

Regina Spektor

Passion Pit

Of Monsters and Men

“Swim Good” by Dustin Williams

“Take A Walk” by @johnstonmike

“All the Rowboats” by @ATXtrina

“Little Talks” by @sarahmanleyyyy

Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen

The Shins


Hoodie Allen

“Good Time” by Heidi Dominguez

“Wild Love” by Kim Hunter

Good Old War

“Calling Me Names” by @jessie_chambers

“Simple Song” by Kevin Wyke

“James Franco” by @rhyme2well


“Levels” by Dylan Thornton



Kanye West feat. G.O.O.D. Music

VARIANCE July 2012, Vol. 3, Issue 3

CONTENTS 0 5 B i r t h d a y M i x t a p e [ P l a y l i s t s ] 0 8 E a r C a n d y 1 0 E d w a r d S h a r p e & T h e M a g n e t i c Z e r o s 1 2 Ty l e r P o s e y o f M T V ’ s Te e n W o l f 1 4 O f M o n s t e r s & M e n 1 6 K a r m i n : T h e R i s e C o n t i n u e s 1 9 G e t t o K n o w B r i t t a n i 2 0 G o o d O l d W a r 21

Imagine Dragons

2 2 C h i l d i s h G a m b i n o 2 4 B r a n d i C a r l i l e 2 6 H u d s o n : O n t h e R i s e 2 7 W e b W o n d e r : J a y m e D e e 2 8 F i v e F e m a l e F a v e s o f S u m m e r 3 2 M i l o G r e e n e 3 3 T h e G r e a t G r a n d f a t h e r s 3 4 O w l C i t y S e t f o r M i d s u m m e r Ta k e o v e r 3 6 F u t u r e S o u n d s 4 0 E d S h e e r a n 4 6 Jo s h u a R a d i n 4 8 I f T h e y C a n Yo u C a n : T h e H o p e M o v e m e n t 5 0 T h e Te m p e r Tr a p 5 2 P r e t t y L i t t l e L i a r s ’ Ty l e r B l a c k b u r n 5 4 C h i d d y B a n g : T h e y ’ r e U n s t o p p a b l e 56

Alex Clare


Yo u n g A u t h o r J a k o b W a i t e k u s




Summer Photo Diaries

Editorial Director Jonathan Robles Managing Editors Rachel Faylene & Weston Shepherd Editor-at-Large Amanda Morad Features Editors Merlyn Hamilton & Emily Hulseberg Editorial Assistants Christa Littlefield Abby Mauldin Laurie Tomlinson Contributing Writers Chris D’Allesandro Aaron Lachman John Mouser Contributing Photographers & Artists Jon Baker Nadi Beans David Black Jay Brooks Tamzin Brown Lesley Bryce Peter Burnham Dan Curwin Robert Doland Lauren Dukoff Rachel Faylene Lauren Fedele Adam George L. Gray Joe Grimaldi Brantley Gutierrez Flora Hanitijo Ben Howard Amnesia Ibiza Patrice Jackson Pamela Littky Frank Ochenfeld Teren Oddo Mark Owens Andy Patch Jason Persse Heidi Ross Emily Shur Mark Sink Michael Sitarz Harper Smith Axel Taferner Sean Thomas Jacob Turner Laure Vincent-Bouleau Eli Watson Jennifer White Matthew Wignall Derek Wood Web Production & Design Nicholas Clayton JP Jones Jonathan Robles Project Development Bryan Norris

THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS YOU LOVE. w w w. v a r i a n c e m a g a z i n e . c o m



see you there!

ear candy

by Emily Hulseberg & Aaron Lachman


rowing up in the U.K., Ben Howard’s parents made sure he was exposed to the lessons of Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan at an early age. He was an excellent student, absorbing everything he could, picking up a guitar and crafting his own songs. Where some kids abandon music as time passes, Ben Howard stuck with it, and decided to push aside his journalism studies to turn music from a childhood hobby into a career, developing a rabid fan following throughout England and beyond. Taking his guitar and surfboard on the road, Howard played anywhere he could across the U.K. It wasn’t long before his earthy, intimate folk tunes caught the attention of Island Records. Like fellow English singer-songwriters John Martyn and Nick Drake, Howard accepted Island’s deal. The end result is his debut album, Every Kingdom. The album presents his warm tenor and gentle guitar lines at the front of a small ensemble with little studio embellishment. Somehow, modern production techniques have given the world an album of quiet story songs that sounds instantly timeless. While he fits in comfortably on a bill with Gotye or Mumford and Sons (his earlier EPs were even released through Communion, Ben Mumford’s record label), he really can’t be compared to either. More reminiscent of Damien Rice, Howard’s voice rings with the experience of a man twice his age, just like his unique guitar style. He’s not simply another songwriter strumming chords.


A typical Ben Howard show will find him moving seamlessly from strumming to finger picking, employing alternate tunings, running his acoustic guitar through various effects pedals, then flipping his guitar on his lap and tapping out chords against the fretboard and using his other fingers on the body of the guitar as percussion. His songs are so engrossing that he often doesn’t need accompaniment and occasionally tours with only a cellist or a bassist and small drum kit. Howard will be spending his summer playing festivals all over the world, with a U.S. tour in September before heading back to tour the U.K. Every Kingdom is available now in stores and online.


ising onto the national music scene, Australian-based rock trio Atlas Genius has been creeping up the charts with their song “Trojans,” and is gaining momentum. Comprised of brothers Keith, Steven and Michael Jeffery, Atlas Genius was starting to lose hope in being apart of the musical world. “We had begun to think

that music was a pipedream and we had all gone back to university to pursue more realistic careers,” says Keith. In the midst of fall exams and school pressures, Michael discovered that Neon Gold Records was praising “Trojans.” With a quick check of the band’s email, it seemed that music could actually become a reality to these three. Through the use of social media and the Internet, “Trojans” began getting rotation on Sirius XM’s Alt Nation and was quickly named the iTunes Single of the Week in Australia and New Zealand. All of this started happening to an unsigned band with no promotional efforts at all. The guys were soon being flown to the States, where they signed with Warner Bros. Records. The decision came from personal reactions to the label. “Everyone there feels very creative and dedicated to the music,” Keith notes. The band is currently working on their first full-length album, which should be ready for release this fall. During the wait, check out their EP, Through The Glass, just in time for summer.


acclaim, and the album was certified platinum in two weeks, making it the fastest selling British album since Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed a Dream. Though comparisons to Adele seem to be inevitable due to both singers having big, soulful voices that compel you to pay attention, Emeli Sandé has a sound that’s all her own. Her signature is her acrobatic yet precise vocals against retro string and horn sections slammed up against futuristic R&B grooves. Featuring collaborations with Alicia Keys and Professor Green, Sandé has produced a fresh sounding album that’s both classic and hip. There are hints of Joni Mitchell here, some Nina Simone there, and Lauryn Hill in between, but all her influences and her own innate talent combine into something entirely new, making for an album that’s much more than the sum of its parts. The critics have also taken notice. Sandé won the Critic’s Choice BRIT Award, she was also nominated for Breakthrough Artist, and she earned a spot on Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto tour.

“Everybody understands music,” says Matthews. “If I can help someone push through hard times or give them joy, then I have achieved my goal as an artist.” Matthews has big ambitions as an artist. At just 17, he hopes to attend college at Belmont University and study music business, progressing himself in the music world. “I realize that the music industry is one of the hardest industries to make it in,” Matthews admits. “In my mind, there are three things more important than anything else going on in my life at any given time: Christ, family and music.” It’s The Change is now available on iTunes, and other music outlets.

Our Version of Events is available now in the United States, and she’ll be spending her summer bouncing between supporting Coldplay in North America and Europe, playing her own gigs, and worldwide radio festivals.


or Scottish singer Emeli Sandé, choosing a career was an easy decision. She had started writing songs at age ten, got a few breaks when she was a teenager, but put everything on hold to pursue a degree in medicine at the University of Glasgow. She studied hard but continued writing songs the whole time she was in school, and finally, with just a year left, she dropped out of school, dyed her hair blonde, and moved to London to pursue music full time. The payoff has been incredible. Born Adele Emeli Sandé, she dropped her first name when another British singer with the same name started a streak of hits. Determined to carve her own niche in the music world, Sandé started receiving local airplay and hooked up with U.K. producer Naughty Boy, and the two clicked immediately. They started writing songs that were subsequently recorded by artists as diverse as Cheryl Cole, Tinie Tempah, Leona Lewis and even Susan Boyle. Finally it was time for Sandé to release her own album. Called Our Version of Events, the first single, “Heaven,” was released last year to critical and commercial



rom the age of three, singer-songwriter Conor Matthews has been musically inclined. What started as just carrying around a cassette player everywhere quickly turned into playing “The Star Spangled Banner” by ear at age six on the new piano his parents bought. With his new album, It’s the Change, Matthews captures his fans with tender vocals and his unique sound. “The songs on this CD offer a very hopeful and positive message for all ages,” he says. His inspiration comes from a number of things, but most importantly, he sees music as a way to communicate and connect. 9

edward sharpe &

the magnetic zeros

by Rachel Faylene

Q & A

Alex Ebert is best known as a singer-songwriter and front man for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, as well as Ima Robot. Diving into nostalgia and sentiment, Ebert shares his past, present, and future. Variance: What was it like growing up? Alex Ebert: I can’t remember a lot of it; like, the in-between stuff. I remembered it then, and I guess the general feeling was one of the basic getting to


know the world. Some of the stuff, like events that I recall and that I’m most proud of in some ways, are just of me cutting through a lot of the stuff that I didn’t believe in. And, I guess, it was just the same way that it is for me now in some ways, except that I was five, you know what I mean? I just remember thinking that the world was a little funny. V: What do you mean when you refer to the things you “didn’t believe in”?

E: I guess just the segregation of the childlike spirit. I wasn’t down with a lot of authoritative demands on children. I wasn’t interested in doing things that I wasn’t interested in doing - that kind of thing. I think that was a good trait, looking back, and one that I’ve sort of tried to keep. V: It seems that once you find something you’re interested in, you really invest yourself in it. E: Yeah, yeah exactly!

V: And for a while you got into film? E: That was the first thing other than music that I really had interest in, and I thought that’s what I was going to do primarily, but I got swept up in music again later on. V: You wanted a film career originally? E: Yeah, I was writing and directing stuff. I think I started when I was about 16 and taking these classes outside of school. This guy, Jim Paster-

nak, was a great, great directing teacher and film teacher. My mom hooked me up with him because she was so elated that I was showing interest in something. Then I went to college, but I realized that, there again, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I just wanted to get started with film. I didn’t want to go over stuff that I wasn’t interested in again, like stuff I was covering in high school. So I dropped out and then started Ima Robot, basically.

V: How did you get into writing music on a regular basis? E: I lived in this sort of loft, weird, art space thing that was right above a studio that Timmy [of Ima Robot] and I got and directed. It ended up being that my life was just between. I literally would just walk across the room, walk down a ladder, and I would be at the studio, or I would be up painting or writing in the loft. My world became very, very tight and it became about creation all of the time. It became the daily practice.

ally? Do you feel like you’re becoming Edward Sharpe on stage? E: No, that doesn’t occur to me. What occurs to me is to be the most clear and powerful me that I can be up there, to be free and open to be able to be this thing that I have to be. That, ultimately, is going to be the most powerful thing that I can present and be. If anything, I’m trying to be in my daily life more, as I force myself to be on stage in my daily life, clearer with more power and more relaxed.

V: And you came up with the name Edward Sharpe while writing a book during this time? E: Yeah, I just started a story but it got very long and out of control. I haven’t finished it yet, but yeah, the name I came up with for the band was the name of the fella in the book.

V: On the new album, Here, you seem to have been influenced by the story of Jesus Christ. E: Yeah, I mean the story of Jesus is pretty awesome. The interesting part is that so much of the story is missing in the Bible. It rejoins when he’s ready to go but there is all that in-between speculation. So that is sort of a whole wealth of thought there and ideas that come to mind of “How did this happen?” and “How did the transformation for him occur?” And I think that’s part of the real story; it’s that in-between part that is left to the imagination or to your own spirit and your own ideas of transformation within yourself.

V: What is the book about? E: It’s about a kid that was brought to earth. Really, it was trying to explain intuition and the voice of reason and, I don’t know, also to explain the voices of self-destruction and destruction. It’s sort of this esoteric tale of the voices of nature and the lighter forces who are being beaten by the darker forces. Instead of trying to whisper, each person has their own angel, but instead of all the angels whispering to one person they would all together - because the voices of self destruction were so loud. They would all together whisper just to one person, and that person would be Edward Sharpe. So they sent the spirit down in human form and decided to all concentrate on whispering business to just this one being. And it’s working. Except he keeps falling in love with girls and getting distracted and that’s the sort of comedic, tragic comic element of the story. So it’s a story about a lot of things. V: Are you creating a persona for Edward Sharpe person-

V: Are you religious? E: Um, no, I’m—I would say I’m almost not religious as a blanket statement, but I would say that’s not quite true. But I am sort of wary and basically disinterested in most institutions, so that covers a lot of ground in regard to that question, I guess. It’s not that I consider myself loyal to any church or any particular institution, but there are stories that are told on earth that are really great and then get co-opted. And language, that is really great and then gets coopted, and all by institutions, usually for less-than-positive reasons. And I guess I’m just working within that paradigm

of language and within that context of knowledgeable language and trying to eliminate other aspects of it. Ideally, in some fantasy dream of mine, I break out of the parameters of the dogmatic conversation and break into something a little more free. V: How many members are in the band right now? E: There are 12, sort of. V: Is there a designated songwriter, or do you collaborate as a group, write together? E: We are writing more and more together. There is not a designated songwriter. I wrote most of the first album. I wrote the majority of this album, too, but this album was much more of a collaboration. We are a band now; whereas, on the first album, we were becoming a band. So there was a lot more collaboration and working together in the studio and all in the same room working on stuff. That’s a very special part of the process and what makes it even more rewarding. V: What are you listening to this summer? E: I’m so focused on making this album I’m not listening to that much. I just turn on stuff and if I like it, I listen to it. I guess a staple recently is Jack Burrell. V: What can we expect to look out for in the future? E: We are recording, mixing and finishing up our album of the second group of songs that we did this year. Yeah, it was going to be a double album, but we broke it up into two albums. We’re going for a release in November, but we don’t have a solid date yet. Check out the band at edwardsharpe andthemagneticzeros .com.


Written by: Jonathan Robles Photo: Lesley Bryce





Teen Wolf:

TYLER POSEY The show’s star admits he doesn’t miss an episode


ne of the hottest shows of the summer, MTV’s Teen Wolf, recently returned for its second season, and according to its star Tyler Posey, not a moment too soon. “I couldn’t wait [for the premiere],” he admits. “The show literally blows me away. It’s literally one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen on TV. I think I’m one of the biggest Teen Wolf fans. I’d watch it even if I weren’t in it.” Interestingly, if he weren’t playing young Scott McCall on the hit werewolf drama, he might be touring with his band Lost in Kostko, for which he sings and plays guitar. “We actually have a meeting soon with a huge record label,” he reveals. “It’s one of my favorite things to do; it’s definitely one of my passions. I want to do more. I can’t tell if I want to do acting or music more, but they both help each other out. I think I’m going to stick with both but I think music is my biggest passion.” While music may be a big part of his life, right now he’s increasingly becoming a focal point in Hollywood since landing the lead role on the breakthrough series. Prior to finding a home at MTV, Posey had minor TV and film credits, including a role as Jennifer Lopez’s son in the film Maid in Manhattan. Unfortunately, getting the spotlight means getting all that comes with it. Attention is something the young actor is quickly learning about. “It does get kind of annoying sometimes,” he says. “Because we have

Twitter and Instagram. I tweet about [my girlfriend], and I get some really negative things said about her--and us--and it gets kind of annoying but I try to let that go.” Part of a growing number of TV shows not filmed in Hollywood, another struggle is maintaining relationships, as his girlfriend lives in Los Angeles but Wolf shoots in Atlanta. It’s something he’s had to get used to, considering he may be there for a while, given the show’s popularity. “I had a lot of confidence going into the first season,” he recalls. “I didn’t know what kind of potential we truly had, but I just knew that the show was going to be awesome and wellreceived by avid TV show watchers. Going into the second season, I wasn’t really feeling pressured that we had to be so good. I’m still just as confident, but the bar is definitely higher.” With the bar raised, the show’s producers have gotten more creative this season--something noted by viewers and critics alike. In addition to creativity, many have also observed an increase of sexuality compared to last season. Posey has taken notice himself, but he doesn’t mind baring a little extra skin. “I’m a pretty laid back guy,” he acknowledges. “I think that’s what makes it so easy for me to not let it get to my head. I don’t know, I just don’t freak out about it. Sometimes I’m on set for 10 hours and it’s actually a relief to do certain scenes. I don’t want anybody to get the wrong impression in what I’m doing, though.”

Along the lines of impressions, Posey admits to getting frustrated when people compare the show to others on TV, or even films. “I hear people compare it to True Blood or some other shows,” he explains. “I haven’t seen much of that show but while it does have a lot of similarities, I think we are the most well-rounded show out there with the type of genre, and we have great romantic scenes and the cinematic fuel of it is incredible. There’s also great action, and I think that’s what stands out about the show. Our fan base is also huge; I’ve had fan interactions with people all over, from people in their 70s to 7-year-olds.” Ultimately, the fan base is what matters. If people are watching and enjoying the show, Posey says he’s happy. As for how long he expects to stay on the show? The young actor, who’s only 20, has definitely given it some thought: “I’d want to play [Scott] for, like, four or five years and then see [the show] go to a movie. I think that would be awesome. I mean, I don’t really know how long we’ll do this series, that’s just ideally what I’d want to do. I think anyone playing a character for more than five years might get a little sick of it. I don’t know, I haven’t reached that point yet. As of right now, I love it.” Teen Wolf currently airs Mondays on MTV. To connect with Posey online and get the latest updates, go to



OFF THE ISLAND & HERE TO STAY “Never judge a book by its cover,” they say. With the exception of anything by Stephanie Meyer, “they” are generally correct. Take Iceland for example. The country is an expectation defier—Greenland’s the icy mega-rock, Iceland’s the colder version of Ireland—and as of late the isolated island’s music scene has been producing some of the most promising folk and alternative rock acts of today. Björk, Sigur Rós and Agent Fresco have all made their mark on American radio and festival circuits, and the next Icelandic band in line is, unsurprisingly, Of Monsters and Men. Their fun, folksy single “Little Talks” has taken alternative radio here by storm, ranking next to chart-toppers like Gotye and The Civil Wars. The band’s U.S. experience has so far been a breath of fresh air. “It actually really surprised us when we came here that everyone is very outgoing,” says lead singer and guitarist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir. “They sing along and dance and it’s just such a great thing for us on stage to see that, because then we get more into it.” The band took an accelerated route to

the top after their formation in 2009, when Hilmarsdóttir began recruiting band members for her acoustic solo act. The group now includes co-singer and guitarist Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson, guitarist Brynjar Leifsson, drummer Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson, piano and accordion player Árni Guðjónsson, and bassist Kristján Páll Kristjánsson. In 2010, the sextet gained national fame when it won an annual Icelandic battle of the bands, Músíktilraunir (translated: Music Experiments). From there, the buzz traveled across the North Atlantic into Europe and North America. Their debut LP, My Head is an Animal, released worldwide earlier this year. “Little Talks” was originally a second choice for their first single, but, according to Hilmarsdóttir, “the song really has had a life of its own and gone its own way. We just follow.” My Head is an Animal is a folksy alternative project that has earned comparisons to Arcade Fire and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. While the guitar and piano driven melodies are light and fun to sing, the lyrics are more serious than

expected, framing the not-so-romantic realities of life in a strange, albeit highly appropriate paradox. Storytellers to the core, Of Monsters and Men’s songs also play up the tradition of folklore and myth from their motherland. The album title comes from a line in “Dirty Paws,” an animal tale in a song and one of the slower, more driving tunes on the track list. Songs like “Love, Love, Love” and “Lakehouse” are sure summer favorites with bright, uptempo sounds and memorable hooks. But Hilmarsdóttir’s favorite on the album is “King and Lionheart,” in which the band boldly proclaims “We’re here to stay, we’re here to stay, we’re here to stay.” It seems this “family of six” has set themselves up to make good on that promise. So far, the album is already a record breaker, peaking at number six on the Billboard 200 chart--the highest position ever for an Icelandic band. “When we recorded the album we were all literally paying out of our own pockets and we were all just like students and really broke and borrowing money from our parents just to be able to do this,” Hil-

marsdóttir recalls. But like a cavalry charge, in the middle of production came Universal Records with their Grammy-winning producers and gobs of money, and all the sudden the days of penny-pinching and Ramennoshing were over (do they eat Ramen in Iceland?). “It’s really weird and we appreciate everything, all the help that we’re getting now,” Hilmarsdóttir says humbly. Then, around the time of the worldwide release of My Head is an Animal, Of Monsters and Men received their American “naturalization” in the music industry when they landed on the SXSW roster this year. Appearances on late night shows like Jimmy Fallon and tours all across the United States inevitably followed. Hilmarsdóttir says she never expected things to take off so quickly. “I don’t think any of us ever really thought that we’d be doing any of the stuff that we’re doing,” she says. “It’s very hard for people to get out there when they’re stuck on an island.” She’s not kidding either. Iceland is the most sparsely populated nation in Europe with the UK sitting 559 deep blue miles away. “It’s a different world out

here,” she says, “but we like it!” So how does a band from such a small place make it big across the world? “I honestly think that a lot of this stuff is just being at the right place at the right time,” says Hilmarsdóttir. She also credits those “band members” without guitars and mics for their warp speed success. “We are very lucky that we have a lot of amazing people around us,” she explains. “We have a great manager and this great team around us… It’s hard for Icelandic young bands to go out touring because it just costs a lot of money to get off the island, so we’re very lucky.” OMAM, as they’re affectionately referred to on platforms like YouTube and Facebook, also recognize that a big part of their success lies with their fans. Their efforts to keep fans involved have led to gracious followings on Tumblr and Instagram. “It’s very important to interact with your fans and bring them into your world and your experience,” says Hilmarsdóttir. “I really like talking to people and getting emails from fans showing us some love. We really appreciate it.” And what’s a great band without a great

written by Amanda Morad

name? According to Hilmarsdóttir, Of Monsters and Men is the moniker that almost wasn’t. “We entered the competition Músíktilraunir and we didn’t have a name,” she explains. “It was minutes before the competition and we were like ‘ahh, what should our name be?!’ We had applied under another name, but we wanted to change it. ‘Of Monsters and Men, whatever, it sounds good.’ It ended up becoming a big part of how we write and come up with our lyrics.” Last minute spontaneity seems to have worked for them as throngs of indie and alternative music lovers are flocking to sold out shows. It’s a big and fast change for the group, but welcome nonetheless. “After shows we go out and talk to people and everyone’s really nice and at home, it’s more like…well, they’re very shy,” Hilmarsdóttir admits. “No one would ever just come up to you and say ‘hey, can I have a picture?’ At home that just does not happen.” Welcome to the States, OMAM.


The Rise

CONTINUES by Merlyn Hamilton



Photos: Adam George / Embrace Life Photography


n June 2011, YouTube sensation Karmin started on the journey of their dreams when they signed to Epic Records. Less than a year later, their EP, Hello, debuted on Billboard charts and Amy and Nick are more excited than ever. “Everything’s going the way it should so we really can’t complain,” says Nick. That “way” includes a guest performance on the late-night television show, Saturday Night Live. Karmin took the stage in February with guest host Zooey Deschanel and have recounted the experience as incredible. “That was one of the highlights so far,” says Nick. “Everyone grows up with SNL, so to actually be on the set and see the train station stage and everything… We actually got to meet Steven Spielberg. At the end of the show we went over to say thank you and Steven was at his table. He kind of tapped us on the shoulder and said, ‘Hey, I loved your set, you guys were amazing.’” “It was a surreal experience, for sure,” says Amy. Since then, Amy and Nick have been busy touring—a different experience from their days performing at colleges before they were signed. “Well it’s definitely a change of pace because when we were doing the college gig, we basically didn’t have an album,” Amy says. “All we had were our Karmin covers from YouTube and ‘Crash Your Party,’ one of our first singles. We were just kind of running around, doing our best. It was Nick with the keyboard and me with the acoustic guitar and we would just jam out on stage. After Saturday Night Live we had a full band so we auditioned the best musicians that we could find and we’ve been dragging them around with us so it’s like a whole new set of music and a whole new sound.” Amy and Nick agree that they love being on tour; traveling, meeting people and seeing new things. But it has had its disadvantages. “We’re always in airports,” says Nick. “We’re definitely done being in security in airports.”

“You do get a little bit tired of suitcase living and you wake up in the middle of the night and you’re at a different hotel every day and you’re like, where’s the bathroom?” Amy adds. “But it’s a dream come true, we couldn’t imagine wanting to do anything else.” From YouTube to Billboard, this power couple says their challenge is in staying healthy. “You do want to celebrate,” says Amy. “You want to go out and celebrate different accomplishments but it’s hard to go out with friends really late and then get up for a 4 a.m. lobby call, but we’re figuring it out. We’re disciplining ourselves.” With YouTube giving them a major boost in their career, Nick says he isn’t sure if theirs is the ideal scenario on a YouTube-born career but he says, “It’s definitely treated us pretty damn well so far.” Having written and co-written all of the songs on their latest EP, Hello, Nick says they plan to continue doing so. The EP received plenty of positive reviews, but negative reviews were given from The New York Times and Rolling Stone. Nick and Amy aren’t fazed by the words of their critics. “All that it means to us is that it’s actually new,” Nick says. “The same reasons they’re saying they didn’t like it can be the exact same reasons why people will like it… it’s just time and establishment. And then once we get established, it’s just something totally on its own, it’s incomparable.” Produced by music icons such as L.A. Reid and Tricky Stewart, Amy and Nick agree that they have no regrets about signing with Epic Records. “It’s like meeting people who have written the book on all the stuff you’ve been learning in the last 10 years,” Nick says. “They literally produced the biggest songs in the world. And L.A. Reid made the biggest superstars of this decade and the last couple decades and it’s very humbling and really damn exciting at the same time… [The producers are] excited too and that’s an amazing feeling.” “[The label has] come in and stood up for us at times when people wanted us to do something else,” says Amy. “We know exactly

why we signed with L.A. and Epic Records because they always stand behind us. It’s pretty amazing.” So has their creativity been affected by the label? Nick says definitely not. “We wanted to make sure that our stuff got on the radio,” he says. “So that was never any direction from the label. We wanted to make sure we had something that was still very musical but commercial enough, especially in the beginning until we established ourselves. For us it was the issue of being too musical. Because I played jazz trombone and Amy was an amazing R&B singer and we can hang with all that stuff, but who really wants to listen to that stuff is the question. So the big thing for us was how to make it really simple but musical at the same time.” In an effort to establish themselves with direction from L.A. Reid, Hello is all Karmin. “L.A. Reid was telling us when we were finishing up this debut release, ‘I don’t want any features on your first album. Your sound is so new that I want you to establish Karmin first on your own,’” Amy recalls. “We thought that was pretty cool.” But the couple agrees that there will definitely be some collaboration in the future. As they continue to rise on their own terms, Nick and Amy both say that their favorite thing about where they’re at right now is their fans. Nick claims he is most grateful for “getting to perform for people who want to hear us.” Having thousands of people screaming and singing their lyrics back to them is what entrances Amy. “It’s pretty amazing,” she admits. So what’s next for Karmin? Well, the couple assures us there will definitely be more releases before the end of the year. But for now, we hold onto their Billboard hit EP, Hello, and watch as this rising sensation continues their journey from YouTube to fame. To stay in touch with Amy and Nick, follow them on Twitter at 17


JULY 01 - Los Angeles, CA Shrine Auditorium

JULY 22 - New Orleans, LA New Orleans Arena

JULY 03 - Orlando, FL Cranes Roost Park

JULY 27 - Atlantic City, NJ Boardwalk Hall

JULY 04 - West Palm Beach, FL WiLD 95.5

JULY 28 - East Rutherford, NJ Izod Center

JULY 05 - Duluth, GA The Arena At Gwinnett Center

AUG 03 - Minneapolis, MN Orpheum Theatre

JULY 07 - Boise, ID Expo Idaho

AUG 04 - Binghampton, NY Otsiningo Park

JULY 12 - Comstock Park, MI Fifth Third Ballpark

AUG 10 - Chicago, IL The Harris Theater

JULY 20 - Sacramento, CA TBA

more tour dates at:





or Atlanta-native Brittani Washington, music has always been a huge part of her everyday life. From a young age, she performed Diana Ross hits on the piano for her family, which led her to start playing at her church five days a week. Washington has been playing for one of the biggest stars in the world for the last six years, but even more exciting is the upcoming release of her debut album, Space for Music. With a sound that takes listeners back to hip-hop’s roots, Washington is looking forward to getting her music out to the public. “I hope that my music is a good representation of what music was and still can be,” she says. “I want this album to be the highlight of my life!” Washington began learning the piano at age seven. “My mom is a beautiful songwriter, so she would write songs and set them on my keyboard to sing even though I’d never looked at them before.” Her dad challenged her at a young age, asking her to listen to a song and play it by ear. “I didn’t know that God was preparing me

for something great,” she says. Releasing this album is definitely a milestone accomplishment for Washington, but she was just as proud to audition for Beyonce’s all-female band and find herself behind the keyboards. “The audition process for Beyonce was long, exciting, and one of the most memorable of my life,” exclaims Washington, who auditioned in front of Beyonce herself, Beyonce’s parents, Jay-Z, and many other music industry big-wigs. When Washington began playing, she says she had a huge adrenaline rush to keep her focused. “I wasn’t nervous at all. I knew I had to bring it or go home.” When she landed the job, she was ecstatic. “I called my family and they couldn’t believe it. I had to tell them over and over.” Playing for Beyonce for six years allowed for major experience with everything from playing live to living life on the road. “The experience has taught me humility and the real meaning of dedication,” says Washington. “I’ve been all over the world, seen a lot of different people and their dif-

ferent cultures, and I can truly say I love the USA.” When Washington isn’t performing with Beyonce or performing her own music, she is giving back to her community. “We see poverty in our own community but we ignore the reachable and instead give to the unreachable. Sometimes people need more than a dollar bill; they need to be talked to and loved and to feel human again,” she believes. Washington draws inspiration from her mother, who taught her to be tough and never complacent. “If I was in the drill team for one year, the next year I had to try out for captain or I couldn’t be in the squad at all,” Washington recalls. “She would push me to the next level.” This album, Washington says, had a lot to do with mom. Brittani’s debut album, Space for Music, releases on July 3. For more information, go to




by Emily Hulseberg


ith a catchy blend of folk riffs and hard to ignore lyrics, Good Old War captivates their audience with a less-is-more approach. Armed with the simplest of instruments—drums, an acoustic guitar and keyboard—these guys create an organic sound with a loud message. The name of the group derives from within the members themselves. Keith Goodwin, Tim Arnold and Daniel Schwartz looked no further than their own names to create a moniker that meshed their identities perfectly. “We had a really hard time with the name,” explains Schwartz. Wanting to use all of their names to create a collective name for the band, it took some brainpower to get the perfect combination. “We came up with all sorts of ways to tear it apart and Keith’s wife actually was the one who came up with the name.” What came easier for the group was how they actually formed. “Keith and Tim have grown up together…they had a band called Days Away. It really was awesome but they didn’t really get a chance to get out the records they had made,” Schwartz says.


When Days Away booked a tour opening for Anthony Green, Arnold and Goodwin were unsure what to do. “They called me up and we did the tour as Days Away but we just did an acoustic version of those songs,” Schwartz details. “And, by the end of the one week tour, we solidified that we were going to do something.” The band has been on and off the road this year promoting their new album, Come Back As Rain. Ranging from an appearance on Conan to multiple radio shows, the band has been staying busy. Touring is important for any band, but for indie bands like Good Old War, it’s like a job. “For one, it’s your living,” explains Schwartz. “If you want to survive as a band, you have to tour. You don’t make money off of records anymore.” Schwartz sees touring as making money from doing what you love. He also talks about how touring is easier to do than a record. It’s a way to get music out there for an audience instantly. “A live performance is an unmatchable experience,” he says. What started without a plan of any sort has blossomed into a band with a unique sound and personality. “We played music

that came naturally to us and the sound sort of happened that way,” Schwartz explains. “As the sound happens and you tour a lot you start to find out what your strengths are.” One of their strengths is the ability to collaborate. “I think we all lean on each other so much,” Schwartz says. Goodwin is sort of the lead of the group, making final decisions when it comes down to it. Schwartz tells of Arnold’s musicianship and ability to complete a song. “Tim is perfect with figuring out what a song needs to be finished…he’s a great revisionist.” Regarding himself, Schwartz says he hopes he brings fullness to the sound of the group as the guitarist. As for the future of this band, it looks bright. Schwartz hopes to “keep going up and keep getting to have the experiences that we have now and keep appreciating the things that are happening to us.”

Good Old War is on tour now. For dates and information, go to

imagining I the future MAGINE DRAGONS


written by Aaron Lachman

lthough it seems like overnight success, the story of Imagine Dragons is anything but. It’s been a lot of hard work and struggle put in over the last several years. The band lives on the road, all while watching their single “It’s Time” climb alternative and modern rock charts all year. The band started out playing in the casinos of Las Vegas. Lead singer Dan Reynolds says, “when we started, we’d do a lot of cover gigs and stuff to make ends meet in Vegas, and when we’d tour we’d sleep on couches with our fans and kind of live off Taco Bell.” The band took a big risk in the beginning, when guitarist Wayne Sermon convinced his friends from Berklee College of Music, drummer Daniel Platzman and bassist Ben McKee, to pack up and join them in Vegas. McKee was one semester away from graduating when he decided to head west. For three years the band hacked it out in the Las Vegas casinos, sprinkling their original anthemic indie rock in among cover songs. It was during this time when Reynolds wrote what would become Imagine Dragons’ breakout single, “It’s Time.”

“I tend to write about fears, aspirations and nightmares that I have,” Reynolds explains. “With ‘It’s Time,’ that specific song, I wrote during a really transitional and darker period in my life. I wanted a new beginning, but I also wanted to be able to stay true to my roots. That song happened in the middle of the night on the computer, stomping, clapping, and singing.” But Reynolds realizes that struggle was necessary. “Every band has to go through that to absolutely appreciate the things that radio can do, and I think that we’re much more grateful because of it. We’re a more solid band and all our relationships are stronger with each other because of having gone through that journey.” That journey has resulted in this year being full of touring and recording. Imagine Dragons is starting to work on their full-length album with British producer Alex Da Kid, the guiding hand behind hit singles from Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and B.O.B, among others. Alex hand-picked the band to sign to his label KIDinaKORNER, an offshoot of Interscope. “It’s really cool because when Alex came to us in the beginning, a big thing that he em-


phasized to us was that he didn’t want to change the band at all,” Reynolds reveals. “He just wanted to help us do it on a bigger scale and to be a mentor of sorts.” The band works constantly to churn out new material, writing and doing preproduction on songs on their own, and then bringing them to Alex. About their writing process Reynolds says, “It’s really collaborative, all of us work together. Maybe he’ll sit down with it and show us some beats or ideas he has, he’ll do some production on it. It’s really awesome to bounce ideas off of such an established dude. We’ve learned so much from him and he’s just really an incredible producer.” That relationship has resulted in chart success, album sales and a busy touring schedule. Although they still eat Taco Bell and sleep at friends’ houses on the road, they also have the benefit of sold out shows, enthusiastic fans and strong relationships to guide them into the future. The band’s album, appropriately titled Night Visions, is set to release in September.




by Jonathan Robles

Childish Gambino I

t’s a rainy, early summer evening in New York City’s Central Park. Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) is set to take the stage after fellow rappers Danny Brown and ScHoolboy Q. The weather has caused the show to be delayed, but the attendees are only more energized, with roars of “Gambino! Gambino! Gambino!” waving across the sold-out crowd. Following brief performances by the aforementioned, the venue becomes electric as Glover finally takes the stage. “I want to see every one of you move,” he requests. “This isn’t a rap


concert; this is a rock ‘n’ roll concert!” The young MC then proceeds into a freestyle rap over Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” Weather a non-factor, Glover performs for over an hour, hypnotizing his audience for every second. It’s what he does. Sure, he’s a rapper, but he has captivated music lovers in a different way from many of his peers. And it’s safe to say he’s becoming aware of that. Donald Glover doesn’t have the rap “credentials” of so many before him. The 28-year-old was raised in a middle-class home in Georgia. He graduated from New York University with a degree in Dramatic Writing, landing

a writing gig for the Tina Fey comedy 30 Rock shortly afterward. His cameos on the NBC series led to a full-time role on another cult favorite, Community, where he currently plays the hilariously quirky Troy Barnes. He’s a writer, a DJ, a musician, an actor, and a comedian, but recently he’s proving to be a major player as a rapper. Since the release of his debut album, Camp, which sold 52,000 copies in its first week, he has slowly crept his way into the viewpoint of the music world. There’s something about this guy. “He’s like the guy next door,” a fan stated after a recent Gambino perfor-

mance. “He’s one of us.” Many critics have dismissed Glover— who has taken his geeky TV role into the studio—calling his rapping foray just a phase or novelty act. It doesn’t even matter. Is he the best rapper that ever was? Probably not. But his timing is absolutely impeccable. The music industry isn’t in the business of selling music anymore. It’s about pushing acts--personas. Watch five minutes of a reality singing competition, and someone will talk about “package artists.” Donald Glover is a package deal. People relate to him. He’s personable. But more importantly, he’s on their TV playing a community college student. He’s in their city performing a show. He’s on their Twitter feed. He’s on their iTunes. He knows what he’s doing. Although Glover signed with Glassnote Records last year, he runs his music career like an indie artist. His approach to promoting his upcoming mixtape has been nothing short of pure savvy, re-

leasing track after track--most of which have been available for free download-only days apart. Again, he knows what he’s doing. Glover isn’t just a rapper. He’s an artist. Listen to his lyrics. Watch him light up a TV screen. Watch him command a stage. He may be new to the game, but he’s mastering it. The man has incredible talent, and all signs show he is starting to own it. With his mixtape releasing on July 4 and a full slate of upcoming performances--not to mention the highlyanticipated return of Community in the fall, Glover is proving he’s a force to be reckoned with; not just in music but in entertainment, not just in rap but in hip-hop. In fact, he’s demonstrating what hip-hop can be. While even some of the best in the business perform to tracks, on this hot summer night in Central Park, Glover is accompanied by a full backing band (including a violinist), providing a rich, soulful sound. He croons passionately

to his popular single “Heartbeat,” only to wail on tracks like “Difference” and “You See Me.” He moves seamlessly, never releasing the audience from the palm of his hand. His skill is evident, and it’s obvious he knows he’s a rockstar, but as he looks into the audience in the heart of New York City, he remains humble. Between songs, he takes a moment to express his gratitude: “I got my start rapping here, and I never thought this could happen. Thank you.” The new Gambino mixtape will likely launch the “Freaks and Geeks” rapper further into the spotlight, attracting fans and critics alike, but Glover has a long career ahead of him, and whatever he’s doing, he seems to be doing it right. The new Childish Gambino mixtape, which is still untitled as of this writing, is available July 4. For tour dates and more news from the man himself, go to



merican folk singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile recently released her fifth major label album, Bear Creek. Named after old barn-turned-studio in which it was recorded, the album was completely written and produced by her and band members Tim and Phil Hanseroth—identical twins who also spent time as members of The Fighting Machinists. “I’m closer to Bear Creek than I have been to any other album,” Carlile says. “Me and the twins made this record essentially without a producer, so I feel very different not to have anyone at the wheel to blame if people don’t like it. What I want to know is what fans think of the album because if it doesn’t resonate with someone, or if it doesn’t work out, then there’s no one to blame but me and the twins.” But why did she choose to do this album without a producer? Carlile says it’s something they’ve always wanted to try. “The presence of T-Bone Burnett and Rick Rubin, that’s a massive presence when you’re making a record,” says Carlile of their previous recording experience. “It was pretty special because we learned a lot from it. But we kind of wanted to take the knowledge that we gained from those two men and learn how to apply it ourselves, to our own lives. It’s kind of that perpetual student concept; like you learn and you learn and eventually you have to learn to apply what you’ve learned yourself and that’s why Bear Creek is what it is.” The trio did bring on Grammy-award winning producer, Trina Shoemaker, to co-produce—a decision Carlile raves about. “Trina Shoemaker is a fantastic producer, engineer; someone that I admire undyingly,” says Carlile. “I had such a great time working with her. She blew my mind. She’d get to the studio and she wouldn’t leave. For like a month, she just stayed there.” Part of not having a producer meant that the band didn’t have to go anywhere to do the album. “We did it at home [in Woodinville, Wash.] and our band played on the record. Our road band and our road crew were the administrative assistants in the studio,” Carlile explains. “Our sound en24

gineer was the assistant engineer. So it felt like the road. This album sounds like the road.” Carlile possesses a wisdom and perspective beyond her years, because eight years after the release of her first album in 2004, she says she’s learned so much and hopes to keep learning. “It’s the moment that you think you’ve arrived that you’re furthest away from it,” Carlile believes. “I’ve spent a great deal of time on the road and when I come home over the years, I’ve had a difficult time integrating or assimilating back into my life. I think the most important thing that I’ve learned personally is to completely intertwine the two. Try as hard as you can not to make yourself two separate people because the closer you stay to your roots, the closer you stay to who you are, the better art you’ll create. It’s cyclical.” Sound advice for any artist. It’s clear Carlile is doing what she loves and is thankful for that. Her idea of success in the music business is just being able to continue what’s she’s doing. “I think anyone in the art business knows that it’s a gift just to be able to continue, to not have to stop,” she adds. “Every day I wake up and I can still sing, and I can still travel and I can still relate to my fans and my family.” It’s no secret that touring is a big part of Carlile’s life—the last decade has been spent building a career on the road. But her approach to touring is about more than the bottom line. “I’ve toured and built my fan base on the road because I believe that’s where music happens. It happens in front of other people,” she explains. “For me it’s not a solitary pursuit. I love to perform and I want to know what people think about my songs and my voice and my presence. I don’t feel reserved or shy about it. I think there’s something to be said about taking the word on the road.” Having started out on her own with just a guitar and a Texas-sized voice, Carlile’s roots give her much to say about what makes good music. “I think there’s room in the world for all kinds of music, but I come from the school of thought that a song is only a good song if you can play it when the electricity goes out,” says Carlile. “If you can sit down and play a song on an acous-

brandi carlile

tic guitar and it’s a good song, then it’s a good song. But if you can’t do that when the lights go out, then chances are you need to go back to the drawing board.” And where do the YouTube sensations of this generation fit into Carlile’s paradigm? “Well, they’re going to have to get out there sometime if they want it to last,” she aserts. “All that stuff is a great kick start but when the next viral YouTube comes along or somebody gets more Facebook friends than you have, you sort of fall by the wayside. Art has to be a lot of things; it has to be authentic, it has to be impactful and it has to be sustainable.” But music isn’t the only love in her life. In 2008, four years into her career, Brandi’s song, “The Story,” was used by General Motors in an ad campaign for sustainable cars. The commercial was aired throughout the Beijing Olympics. Brandi took the money from the commercial and donated it to a grassroots environmental organization. But first she started what soon became her other love, the Looking Out Foundation. “We do a lot of things to empower women, people who are sick, people who have undeserved and underprivileged situations,” she says. “We teach self-defense courses to women who live in at risk situations, homeless women, and we work in battered women shelters. We do projects with people that are incarcerated. We work with local food banks… We’ve since changed it to a public charity and hired an executive director, so it’s a huge, huge part of my life; as big as the music, if not more.” Stay updated on Brandi’s tour dates as well as her involvement with the Looking Out Foundation at

by Merlyn Hamilton



ON THE RISE written by Jonathan Robles


summers ago, a young singer named Katy Perry burst onto the music scene with “I Kissed a Girl,” a controversial electro-rock song that polarized radio listeners and put her at the top of the pop music world. This summer, her younger brother David Hudson (professionally just Hudson) is looking to make his own mark on the music industry with the release of his first EP, Dirty Face. Unlike his pop star sibling (whose real name is Katheryn Hudson), however, he doesn’t anticipate raising many eyebrows—at least not intentionally. “There is something missing in music


today,” says Hudson, 23. “It’s a passion, a passion for the music and about the band, not about some big elaborate show with lights and lasers. I think about a U2 concert. The live show is great but the atmosphere is just so positive and uplifting, and no matter where you are watching from, you can sense that. That is missing from so much music today.” The musician, who grew up in church, as his parents are both pastors, attended Bible school for two years. He is also a writer and an actor, having nabbed roles in several independent films, but lately his love for music has taken center stage. “The thing about music is that I can speak my beliefs,” explains Hudson, not one to shy away from his faith. “With acting, you have a script you have to follow and it’s written by someone else. You’re saying someone else’s words. You still have a platform but it’s different. I feel like

music gives you an opportunity to really impact people’s lives.” While many top 40 acts today are known for elaborate performances and flashy costumes, Hudson says: “I’m not interested in doing shock value. The problem with shock value is that, yeah, people might say something about it, but in the long term it doesn’t leave a mark on you. It’s not something that improves your life or adds value. It’s just filling space. Everything I want to do is opposite of that.” Although his older sister, herself known for big, theatrical performances, may be famous worldwide, Hudson insists he’s making his foray into music in his own right. “I haven’t utilized that in any sense,” he reveals. “I don’t want to, because you have to do it on your own in order to feel like you’ve accomplished something. It wouldn’t be mine if I tried to take shortcuts.” He may not be trying to ride her coattails, but he’s definitely got her ear. “I’ve actually already played half the tracks for her,” he admits. “There was one she liked most, but she gave me a lot of great feedback. She told me ‘this is solid.’ My sister is a very tough critic, especially when it comes to music. We’re a very honest family, and we’ll tell each other the truth. That’s how my family works. I’m confident, though. I feel good about everything.” He should feel confident. Although he’s had limited exposure in the spotlight, his live performances have already garnered rave reviews. Driven by an arousing rock sound with a hint of electronic textures, the young vocalist says his forthcoming EP draws inspiration from the likes of Gotye, Justin Timberlake, Radiohead and U2. But rather than getting ahead of himself, he’s determined to stay grounded. “Everything has been working out,” he reports. “But I think it’s important for me to have a good foundation and keep that in place. I want to always keep my light out there. I want to make some cool stuff, but I’m not trying to go flashy. I just hope people can hear the passion behind what I’m doing. It’s music, yes, but there’s a purpose.” Dirty Face releases July 10, with plans for a full-length in the future. For more of Hudson’s music endeavors, follow him on Twitter at


inger-songwriter Jayme Dee recently sat down to talk with Variance about her blossoming career in music. Her song “Rules” was featured on The Hunger Games soundtrack, which reached No. 1 on the U.S. charts following its release in March. The songstress, who first garnered attention via YouTube videos while still in high school, is opening for Owl City this summer with an anticipated album release to come. Variance: Do you think it’s hard for people pursuing a career in music to stay in school? Jayme: For me, it was difficult because all the classes didn’t really allow me to work on my own music, but I’ve never been much of a person to like school. I wanted to stop reading books about the music industry and kind of just jump into it.

V: Speaking of Swift—you were on The Hunger Games soundtrack, which also features a couple of Taylor Swift’s songs. How did that come about? J: I got signed to Universal Republic about a year ago and my A&R guy said that the producer of the album had a song that he’d like someone to sing. I was such a fan of the books. I read them all in like a day, and I listened to the song, and fell in love with it and recorded it. It was a crazy whirlwind. It was an awesome thing to be a part of.


V: YouTube has been a launching pad for other creatives, but what exactly were your intentions when you created your account? J: It’s so weird, because I just posted a few videos of me in my room singing to my favorite songs and people at my high school would say, ‘Oh, Jayme, I heard you on YouTube the other day!’ I would actually get embarrassed. I honestly never expected anything from it though, people finding my music online.

V: Speaking of your Twitter feed, you recently responded to some comparisons between you and Taylor Swift. Obviously that stuff comes up, and many artists deal with that. What do you take away from that? J: I guess I try to take it as sort of a compliment. It hurts sometimes when people say I’m trying to be like another artist, but I’ve just got to be me. There’s not much I can do. They might think I sound like this person or that I write songs like Taylor Swift because I write about boys. I’m just going to do my thing and hope that people like it.

V: The film and the movie were both a success. So now that you have the deal with Republic, what comes next for you personally? J: I have a single coming out this summer and the album coming out in the fall. We’re still recording, but I’m almost done. I’m excited to have my first album out. V: You’ve had a long road getting to this point. How would you encourage another artist who is inspired by you to stay motivated? J: At the end of the day, it’s all about the music for me. If someone else loves music that much, keep doing what you’re doing. If you have videos on YouTube, don’t worry about getting views. If you’re good, it’ll come--naturally. Things don’t happen overnight, so give it time. For more information on Jayme Dee’s music and tour dates, go to


V: You’ve also used “non-traditional” means to build up a fan base. What do you think is one of the greatest things about being an artist in today’s environment? J: I think the best part is having social media. It makes it easy to communicate with your fans and know exactly what they want from you. If I have a couple of songs that I want their opinion on, I can do that right away. I feel like I have a relationship with them, and I respect them. They’re very supportive.

V: Obviously, there are a lot of pros, and you’ve probably proven that taking the path that you have. Do you think there are any cons? J: I definitely think there are cons. I know many musicians who try to maintain a certain “cool” factor and stay hidden, but I feel like with social media, you can’t really do that. If you’re not posting something frequently or communicating, you can fall off people’s radar. It sounds crazy, but if you don’t tweet for ten days some people forget about you. Some people like staying mysterious, though.



B Y R A C H E L F AY L E N E & W E S T O N S H E P H E R D

OF SUMMER irresistible music for right now

BETHANY COSENTINO The frontwoman of Los Angeles surf-pop band Best Coast, Bethany Cosentino is a leading lady in music and fashion. She’s a trendsetter for the masses, a style icon for the fashionable, and a free spirit for those who are livin’ la vida loca. This indie goddess smokes out her competition with heartfelt lyrics and California radiance. The new album from Best Coast, titled The Only Place, exposes Cosentino’s newfound vocal awareness while maintaining the ever-present yearning in her lyrics. She displays an honest emotional reaction to relationships that her fans can connect with, and it doesn’t hurt that the music is downright addicting. The single “Our Deal” from their 2010 record, Crazy for You, was made into a storyline music video which was written and directed by Drew Barrymore. Cosentino has released her own clothing line with Urban Outfitters, perpetuating a trend of copycat Bethanys everywhere. She is the proud owner of Snacks the cat, now one of the most popular felines in America, and was also a “Buzz Band” category question on Jeopardy, taking California’s best kept secret to the masses. Oh, and did we mention she’s a total babe? It’s safe to say that Cosentino is making waves.


AZEALIA BANKS With a debut album and a lot of momentum, Azealia Banks is ready to leave a lasting impression on the rap scene. Although Nicki Minaj may currently be the leading lady of hiphop, this true lyricist is well on her way to becoming the new face and sound of her genre. Born in ‘91, this Harlem, N.Y., native released her first project, Gimme A Chance, in 2009 under the nickname Miss Bank$. Dropping jaws of everyone who listened, she eventually used YouTube as means to showcase her talent. This lead to her debut single, “212,” being released and given away for free on her website. With this, she appeared to have arrived. Now signed to Interscope/Polydor, this 21-year-old artist is a commonly known name around the rap scene. Her music, albeit lyrically explicit, is honest and refreshing, a direct reflection of her personality. There are no gimmicks, no flashing lights or completely outrageous outfits; there is just a talented rapper with a lot to say—just what fans have been dying for. “Nowadays when I walk around, I get noticed, which is kind of weird,” she told Interview magazine in a recent chat. “It’s really just starting to hit me. For me, a 20-year old [at the time of interview] girl from Harlem, it’s like...’What?’” With her debut album, 1991, released in May, she solidified that she’s here to stay. She has continued making new music since the album’s release, as her mixtape, FANTASEA, is set to be released on July 11. It’s probably just a matter of time before fans are looking to Banks as the “leading lady” of rap, but it might be safe to say that she is already the most talented. “The beats are like scripts, and the raps are my monologue,” says Banks.

BIRDY Jasmine van den Bogaerde, better known as Birdy, is a 16-year-old British songwriter who consistently impresses with her abilities. Her voice is beyond her years and her talent belies her age. Birdy is capable of taking an already amazing track and recreating it into her own masterpiece, pouring her heart and soul into every note. The list of artists she covers includes Ed Sheeran, The xx, Phoenix and more. Taking after her concert pianist mother, Birdy too finds herself behind the keys. She picked up the skill at the age of seven and began creating her own music by age eight. When she turned 12, Birdy won a U.K. talent contest against 10,000 contestants. At the age of 14, Birdy released a cover version of Bon Iver’s song “Skinny Love.” The music video has racked up nearly 27 million views on YouTube. Her song “Just a Game” is featured on The Hunger Games soundtrack and recently collaborated with Mumford and Sons for “Learn Me Right,” a track included on the soundtrack for Pixar’s new summer film, Brave. Of “Learn,” Birdy says: “I love it because it tells a story. Although it has a lot of emotion, it’s also very upbeat and you want to dance to it, which is why it works so well.” Although she is still young, she now finds herself performing on stages that seem to be meant for her. The world has been waiting for this little Birdy to spread her wings and fly.


DUM DUM GIRLS Originally founded by veteran member Dee Dee, Dum Dum Girls also includes guitarist Jules, drummer Sandy and bassist Malia. Together, these four songstresses band together to create a powerhouse of ladies in leather with their punk influences and femininity. But behind the dark stockings, vibrant lipstick and catlike eyeliner is a softness that’s reflected in their music. The latest album release, Only in Dreams, is the first record to feature all four members as a group. During the writing process, Dee Dee found herself reflecting on her mother’s loss to a battle with cancer. “The first record was basically the first songs I’d ever written and I was thinking nostalgically about being a teenager,” she says. “This record, it was pretty much impossible not to write about very recent, very real things.” The outcome is a strong, heartfelt record from an even stronger, more heartfelt group of girls.

ELLIE GOULDING Lights are shining brightly on singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding. With a second studio album in the works and a Billboard-climbing single, she is taking no breaks on her road to success. Goulding’s music has traveled from England to the U.S., bringing in a soprano pop sound that’s taking over the airwaves. Originally releasing her debut album Lights in the U.K. in March 2010, the U.S. release of her hit single – also titled “Lights” – came one year later. Goulding teamed up with Nike shortly after that to create a short film called “Music Runs Ellie,” which fuses her passion for music and running. It is not uncommon for Goulding to hit the streets on foot during a busy touring schedule to keep her sport a priority. She is currently planning a second album release for October to follow up the stateside success of “Lights,” which went platinum in April and broke into the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 last month. Her future is certainly very bright, and it’s safe to say she’s going to be around her a while.





milo greene by emily hulseberg


hat started as a pseudonym for a booking agent supplying bar gigs to aspiring musicians in college now stands as the name of five-piece cinematic-pop group, Milo Greene. Comprised of Robbie Arnett, Andrew Heringer, Marlana Sheetz, Graham Fink and Curtis Marreno, the use of “Milo Greene” now requires even bigger shoes to be filled. The band has done away with open mic nights, now having their debut album released and touring with the likes of fellow pop-folk powerhouses, The Civil Wars. Variance spoke with Sheetz while the band was taking a break in Los Angeles recently and she told us the tale of the strange band name. Although “Milo Greene” was used as a character to send out booking and management emails in the early, once the band got on its feet, they felt they owed something to Mr. Greene. “The band name is a tribute to Milo Greene, the fake person,” says Sheetz. Awaiting the release of their eponymous


record on July 17, Sheetz explains the long process of putting out an album. “I’ve never really experienced anything like this. It took us almost two years to get the whole thing done…that’s a long time to hear those same songs over and over. “ The band took a different, more original approach to recording this album. Instead of doing it all at once and at one specific location, they did it piece by piece. “It’s a mixture of different recordings from different sessions we did,” Sheetz says. “Nothing is done from one studio strictly.” Even with the different studio locations and time, the new album maintains a cohesive sound. What is that sound, exactly? The group aims to write what sounds like it would be in films. Hence the cinematic-pop label they have taken to when describing their music. “I’m not going to deny the fact that we write pop music,” Sheets admits. “We write pop music but we write it with a very specific vibe.” With or without the movies, Milo Greene’s sound is harmonious and beau

tiful. While each individual in the group has been in previous bands, it took the right people getting together to create their sound. “We are all so different,” says Sheetz. “If you go back and listen to each of our old bands…you would be very surprised. It can take a long time to find the right people that you can enjoy working with and collaborating with smoothly.” One of the big breaks for this band came when they got the opportunity to tour with The Civil Wars as the opening act. “That was kind of the first experience most of us had to that caliber. The audience was so receptive,” Sheetz recalls. “It was insane. Everything is on such another level of professionalism.” From the new album, to being on the road again, Sheetz says the band is putting in lots of overtime: “We don’t have downtime…it just doesn’t exist.” But the lack of downtime is forgotten when the band takes the stage and is well received by raving fans. “It’s worth the waking up early and the exhaustion of it all,” she laughs. Milo Greene’s debut album releases on July 17.



ccording to “founding-father” Lucas Prize, The Great Grandfathers is a collaboration of many different sounds with an ever-changing ensemble of “members.” For their debut album, Saint Anthony’s Fire, Prize used a team that was generous with their time, efforts and expectations. “This project was a vision,” says Prize. “The concept of The Great Grandfathers is to have an always revolving cast of members for each album to come. Shying away from a typical band setting, Prize says, “The evolution of the project and its music will be natural and fresh and it’ll challenge the listener and encourage growth in these rapidly changing times.” Getting his start at the age of seven, Prize picked up his oldest sister’s guitar one day and started playing. Prize’s family had little money growing up so his parents bought him his own “cheap” guitar for Christmas that year as his sister’s guitar was a bit too big for him. Prize’s grandpa taught him the fundamentals of music and his grandma inspired

him by purchasing him a Beatles songbook. With musical influences coming from all around his family, it’s no wonder that music came naturally for him. The name for the band comes from Prize’s great-grandfather, Severin. Prize says, “I aspire to grow as wise and humble as my parents and grandparents and having the title of ‘The Great Grandfathers’ almost serves a reminder.” Fire combines sounds from many different genres to create a style that is unique to Prize. “I wanted to create a new sound with heritage, sensibility and honest lyrics that anyone can identify with,” Prize explains. Drawing inspiration from an endless supply of factors, Prize asks, “What doesn’t inspire me?” From the constantly changing world, to greats like Bob Dylan, Al Green and Michael Jackson, Prize has a vast array of musical muses. The writing process for the album has been in the works for years. Prize says, “These song ideas were only on paper and in my head for a good four years. A year or two before the album was recorded properly, I


made rough demos on my laptop and sent them to my brother Trevor and Eric Enger for their feedback and I’d work off that.” From the feedback and the help of friends, Prize was able to complete an album that he is very much proud of. “The majority of the songs were written before recording, but Eric breathed life into them and gave the album its cohesion,” explains Prize. As for the hope for his music, Prize is humble. “My passions are composing music and helping people,” says Prize. “The record was written with the hope of bringing people together…I believe that we’re called to be the best that we can be with whatever we do.” So, why music? Prize has an interesting answer. “I don’t know why music. I didn’t choose it, it chose me.” The album Saint Anthony’s Fire is now available. To download the title track for free, go to




written by Jonathan Robles



t’s been nearly three years since Owl City’s infectious, quadruple-platinum “Fireflies” overtook radio airwaves and iPods, and gave singer Adam Young his first No. 1 song on Billboard. Now the 26-year-old (as of July 5) is at it again, set to release his highly-anticipated new album, The Midsummer Station, on August 21. For weeks, momentum has been building for the new project, especially online. Following the May release of the Shooting Star EP, meant to give fans a preview of what to expect from the full-length, Young unveiled several social media campaigns, including a Twitter “interview” with Carly Rae Jepsen, who recently snagged her own No. 1 song and is featured on the new Owl City release with the summer anthem “Good Time.” “It was new for me,” Young tells Variance regarding the collaboration. “But it was a lot of fun, and I’m glad I got the chance to [do it].” While his work with Jepsen was only for guest vocals, Young also sought out co-writers and outside producers for the first time, enlisting his friend Matt Thiessen (Relient K), Stargate (Rihanna, Wiz Khalifa), and the team of Josh Crosby, Nate Campany, and Emily Wright (the latter known for her work with Dr. Luke). “I made my first two records on my own without any outside help and learned that it’s easy to overthink what you do by allowing yourself


to become too emotionally invested in what you’re doing,” he reveals. “I wanted to experiment with outside minds because I never have before and I feel like that’s why you try new things as an artist--because you never have before.” The singer says that he paints “with bigger, broader strokes” this go-around, but he believes it’s for the best, as his intention is for the album to be more accessible and less over-the-top or “quirky.” Young says: “Over the past several years I’d become fascinated with trying to capture magic in a jar. I believe artists should never look back or repeat themselves, and this [is] a new frontier for me.” The new album certainly has all the vibes and sounds of a familiar Owl City project, with whimsical electrobeats. But Young definitely makes his appeal to a wider audience, with multiple tracks hot and ready for radio, like the upbeat, fizzy “Good Time.” (At the time of this writing, the song is likely to debut in the top 40 chart due to its popularity.) As to whether the song was a calculated plan—given Jepsen’s stratospheric rise, Young feels it’s just “good timing.” Timing may account for a lot with this new effort, as Young is presenting audiences with sounds that are more widely-accepted in the music industry now than when he first launched his career during the Myspace heyday. With the uptick of electronic

dance music, many artists are struggling to stand out, but Young sees the genre’s success as his own success. “It makes it easier,” he says. “Because it means audiences will be more accepting of synthesizer music, and I like that because it makes me feel like I have a shot.” Young shouldn’t worry about his success, as his latest work is set to make quite a splash this summer, complete with influence from “a lot of European trance DJs and stuff like that.” He will also be touring extensively, including a show on July 18 with Demi Lovato. As of yet, only a handful of dates have been announced, but the Minnesota native anticipates being on the road for a good portion of the rest of the year. So the journey continues. And while he might not know each next step, he’s OK with that. Known for his strong faith and his positive outlook in his music, Young knows one thing is for sure: he’s sticking to his roots. “The point is to inspire people,” he says. “I want my music to be the first thing people reach for when they get home after a good or bad day.” Owl City’s The Midsummer Station releases on August 21. The first single, “Good Time,” featuring Carly Rae Jepsen, is available now on iTunes.


future sounds The brainchild of husband-and-wife duo, Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, Tennis is an indie-pop band that hits all the right notes. With instruments that beg listeners to move, and Moore’s smooth voice perfectly complementing on every track, this Denver-born group is ready to share its sound with the world. Although Moore had no prior singing experience outside of the church choir as a child, fans would never know that listening to an album. As a matter of fact, the sound as a whole has the cohesion of a group that has been together for years— not one that released its first EP in 2010. That release, the Baltimore EP, gave fans a glimpse of what Tennis was all about, and the momentum of this group has been undeniable ever since. The second album, Young and Old, was recently released by Fat Possum Records on Valentine’s Day. Produced by Patrick Carney of The Black Keys, there are hints of the unique styling of the producer all over the album. The first single, “Origins,” is a catchy tune, one that fans will find themselves singing long after the song has finished. The group performed the single on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno earlier in 2012, a performance that garnered them much attention around the country. Tennis will be on tour later this summer, wrapping up in late September. Fans of indie music, particularly indie-pop, will be enamored with the live show, as this group takes aim at nationwide recognition.



the sounds you need to hear

FOXES Just 22-years-old and blessed with tremendous talent, Southampton, Englandbased artist Foxes appears ready to make her presence known to American fans. A unique sound, equipped with a haunting voice on top of synths and industrial percussion, makes her music an experience that listeners must feel for themselves. Hitting the scene late last year with her debut track, “Youth,” she quickly garnered more than a million combined plays on Soundcloud and YouTube. A music school dropout, she realized soon after beginning that her love of music did not come in the form of learning about it; rather, her love stemmed from the act of playing it. With a quick rise to prominence, her decision is already paying off. Back now with her eagerly anticipated EP, Warrior, the tracks “Warrior” and “White Coats” are already making the rounds on the Internet. Her music carries a sound reminiscent of another English artist, Imogen Heap, in its ability to blend strong vocals with an electronic presence. Each track is truly a work of art. Fans should be on the lookout for her name, as it appears to only be rising. Warrior, releasing July 10, will be available on iTunes and wherever music is sold. For more information, including opportunities for free downloads, visit her website:


G-SCOTT Born-and-raised in Gary, Ind., G-Scott was never any stranger to greatness. With the last historic musical product of the city being Michael Jackson, following in the footsteps of a legend is no easy task. However, armed with natural talent and incredible wordplay, G-Scott looks ready to leave footprints of his very own. With his debut project, The Billionaire Block Boy, being released after his first semester at Indiana University Northwest, this 21-year-old lyricist has continually outdone himself with every release. Fans have fallen in love with the honesty in his lyrics, as this “regular guy” touches on topics that everyone can relate to. He has opened for Travis Porter, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa and more, en route to the cusp of nationwide popularity. Weekend in Los Vegas, Scott’s latest project, was released April 27 to rave reviews from fans and critics alike. He has been featured on MTV’s Rapfix Live, Fuse TV’s Mixdown, The Source and other showcases of the best rap music. With an undeniable momentum in his favor, fans of rap music are being turned onto his sound daily. It will come as no surprise when GScott’s music begins hitting radio stations across the country, with a wave-making EP and tour scheduled for the fall. As the next musical great out of Gary, Ind., with the ability to make rap as it is supposed to sound, it’s truly just a matter of time.



future sounds Wielding a voice that immediately catches the ear and soothes the mind, LP is a Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter who is now poised to take control of the radio airwaves. Rocking curly hair and tattoos, and most often carrying a ukulele, she takes control of every track she graces, leaving a unique stamp on everything she does. Having written songs for the likes of Rihanna and Christina Aguilera, her talents far exceed the things she does for herself, but she is truly at her best when creating the sound that she calls her own. First being heard by most on a recent CitiBank TV commercial, her song “Into the Wild,” is a perfect representation of what she is capable of—creating a sound that begs listeners to repeat the song over and over again. Her live performance is magnetic; an experience that fans must witness for themselves to truly understand. Confidence was gained through her years of playing small venues, up to 250 shows per year at times, and the comfort she has with herself was found in the tour van and singlebed hotel rooms she used to share with her band. Her music is best described as folk with a lot of other elements mixed in between. Her voice is powerful on tracks, providing a rock edge to accompany the aforementioned ukulele in a way that hasn’t been seen before. With her Into the Wild: Live at Eastwood Studios release in late April, she puts her true talents on full display, giving fans a small taste of things to come in the future.



Ed + Sheeran He’s topped world charts. He’s performed for the Queen. And now the British music powerhouse is bringing his incredible talent to the U.S.

Story by Jonathan Robles Photos by Dan Cruwin


or a while now, music observers have been abuzz over an influx of talent from across the pond--most notably from the U.K.--in American markets. In the last year, names like Calvin Harris, Ellie Goulding, Jessie J, One Direction, Rita Ora and The Wanted have catapulted onto the U.S. charts, led, of course, by the unstoppable juggernaut that is Adele. The British are coming, pundits have declared, calling it something of another “British Invasion.” But according to 21-yearold singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran of England, this isn’t another invasion or comeback or anything of the sort. “We never left,” he says. It’s a late spring day. Sheeran has just had his first In-N-Out Burger, which he confirms is “very, very good.” He’s finished collaborating with country superstar Taylor Swift and he’s about to make a quick flight back home to England before he begins his nearly nonstop push in North America. “I hear people talk about the British Invasion and things like that,” he says with a certain inflection in his voice. “That’s actually a little odd to me because artists from the U.K. have always been on the U.S. charts, and vice versa. I think suddenly people are just looking up, and Adele definitely magnified the spotlight, but she’s in her own league.” While Adele’s impact on the charts has certainly lifted the industry out of a funk with mammoth sales (her 21 has spent more than 70 weeks in the U.S. top 10 and sold more than 22 million copies worldwide), Sheeran is correct in his assessment. Artists like Coldplay, Leona Lewis, Florence and the Machine, The Script, Oasis, Radiohead and the late Amy Winehouse have played a significant role in American music in recent years. Regardless, a new breed is front and center right now, and he acknowledges that. “I realize the success others are having,” he explains. “But I’m not trying to be an alternative to the rest. I think it’s wonder42



ful that Adele and boy bands are getting recognition. I’ve written some songs for One Direction and of course I’m working with them again over the summer, but I don’t feel the need to compete.” Sheeran has no reason to compete. His debut album + (pronounced “plus”) has been certified quadruple platinum in the U.K., and he won this year’s BRIT Awards for Breakthrough Act and Solo Male Artist. He also performed last month at The Royal Diamond Jubilee Concert, celebrating the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, where he shared the stage with Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John and Jay-Z. Not too shabby for a guy who was playing in London for audiences of 10 just four years ago. His success is the product of hard work and few expectations. Having conquered the U.K. charts with +, he recently released the album in the U.S., debuting at No. 5, which is one of the highest ever for a male artist from the U.K. But according to Sheeran, he didn’t plan for any of this. “At the beginning, no one wanted to play my first song, ‘The A Team,’” he recalls. “I actually expected most people to pass it over, but then it charted and did well. I wasn’t expecting that.” Regarding his move into the U.S. music arena, which obviously has the biggest market share in the industry, he is maintaining his expectations again. “I think if I had expectations, I would either be incredibly disappointed or really surprised. All I can do is be myself and hope people appreciate that when they hear it.” Hear it, they will. In addition to the release of his album and singles, Sheeran will trek across America later this year as the headlining act of VH1’s You Oughta Know Tour, a franchise with a reputation for introducing promising acts on the rise. In May, he joined the roster which has previously included artists such as Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars, The Civil Wars, Foster the People, The Fray, Mumford & Sons, Regina Spektor and Sara Bareilles. Although + originally released nearly a year ago, touring--and a lot of it--is

something Sheeran anticipates for much of the foreseeable future, even though he’s mostly finished with his second album already. “The label has heard it, and I like it, but right now my focus is on the first record,” he says. “I’m always writing and working on new music, but for now I want to be able to tour the record properly and then release the next one when the time is right. For now, it’s time to tour as much as possible.” Extensive touring is something Sheeran recently had the opportunity to observe firsthand, having spent the early part of this year opening for Snow Patrol, another prominent U.K. band with remarkable success in the U.S. He says one thing he took away from the experience was the band’s work ethic. “They have done so well over the years,” he admits. “But one thing that they showed me and that I noticed is how many times they’ve toured America in their career. That’s important, and I took note of it. They said, ‘You have to keep coming back, keep coming back, keep coming back.’ With each new record, they understand that’s important to maintain.” While the young, copper-haired Sheeran appears to be on the front end of a lengthy career similar to some of the aforementioned artists, one thing he has maintained is a sense of humility. “I try not to get caught up in everything,” he confesses. “I don’t let myself stop. I still feel the need to work hard. Even when the record passed a million copies sold-that still seems unbelievable to me.” Selling a million of anything is certainly a noteworthy accomplishment, but as Sheeran heads into new territory with his official U.S. introduction, he admits there are challenges, specifically as he enters a musical landscape that has been littered with dance beats, DJs and dubstep. “It is kind of intimidating,” he says. “I know that is all very popular right now, and my music may not fit into those genres, but I believe the public decides what they like. I’m familiar with being out of my element, though.” Although he is frequently credited as a


singer-songwriter and has made great strides in the folk and rock genres (+ actually debuted at No. 1 on the folk charts in the U.S.), he first drew critical acclaim by performing the hiphop scene and rap clubs in London. In fact, earlier this year Sheeran collaborated with Shady Records rapper Yelawolf for The Slumdon Bridge, a four-song EP that was widely praised by music critics. “I worked my way up through the urban world,” he recalls. “I am very aware of my roots, and one thing I never want to do as an artist is limit myself to any genre or style.” Sheeran’s music may be a little less dance-friendly by current radio standards, but he recently confessed that he would love to work with Scottish DJ-singer-producer Calvin Harris, although he doesn’t anticipate many collaborations in his future--at least not for his own records. “I have always said I will do what I want musically,” the multi-talented artist recently shared on Facebook. “Whether it be making songs with underground rappers, or writing songs for pop acts, or doing my own solo thing, I love making music, [and] if you are a fan of me you will understand that.” Sheeran is quickly establishing himself as a dynamic force within the mu44

sic industry, reaching across multiple genres such as folk, rap, rock, top 40 and even country. “I worked with Taylor [Swift] for a song for her project,” he says. “But I don’t see myself doing many collaborations for my next record or anything. I will collaborate for different projects, but not for the record. Many of the musicians I admire didn’t have records full of collaborations--they didn’t need a rapper on their tune.” That’s not to say he won’t change his mind, as he admits his experience working with the pop-country starlet has been a positive one. “There aren’t many acts like her in the music industry,” Sheeran offers of Swift. “She’s still so young--like me, but she is actually very wise. I was impressed that a 22-year-old at the level she’s at was still so professional. I definitely felt like I was working with someone who had been in the game for years and years. She carries herself in a way that you expect from the legends, the musicians I look up to.” The musicians Sheeran admires include a nice mix of Bob Dylan, Damien Rice, Van Morrison, Eminem and Jay-Z. And a nice mix is something he brings to table himself. While pundits continue to examine the surge of U.K. talent on U.S.

charts, perhaps it has less to do with country of origin and more to do with caliber. Although he is markedly humble when discussing his own work, Sheeran embodies a mighty talent that is a rarity in today’s music market of fluffy, sugar-coated sounds and eye-popping gimmicks. His ability to cross multiple genres isn’t a mere stunt; it speaks to the scope of his musical ability. That ability has elevated him to noteworthy success across the globe, and now brings him to North America. “Americans celebrate success,” Sheeran says. “It’s different here, and I think that’s why we like coming here. I’m excited to even have the chance.” The world today is smaller than ever before, and it doesn’t matter if a musician is from Hartford, Conn., or Halifax, England. Maybe--just maybe--it’s good music, not British music, that’s making a comeback. And if so, that’s certainly something everyone can get excited about. Ed Sheeran’s + is available now in the U.S. For a full list of tour dates and the latest news, go to



RADIN by weston shepherd



aybe it was never supposed to be easy. Perhaps the process of going from unknown to nationally known was meant to be a process—a painstaking and long endeavor, marked by extreme effort and failure along the way. There has never been a blueprint for jumping into iPods at breakneck speed, but for Joshua Radin, maybe it was just meant to be. Radin never had intentions of becoming a recording artist known by countless people across the globe. In all actuality, his initial intentions for learning guitar in 2004 didn’t go much further than strumming a few chords due to curiosity. What started out as an effort to learn a new craft has led him to a destination that could have never been predicted. “One day I picked up a guitar and learned a couple chords from a book,” Radin says. “In that book there were a couple Paul Simon songs, a couple Bob Dylan songs, and they used those two chords I had learned. Within a few months, I could play a few different cover songs.” This is the point in the story where things really speed up. Radin—who followed up college with time spent teaching, screenwriting and even as an art gallery employee—decided that music was something he could do. Inspired by a new dream, he set forth into writing songs of his own. “I decided that, I’m a writer; why not try to write a song using those chords? All these songs I loved used the same chords and it all seemed like magic to me. All of a sudden I started understanding, and after I wrote my first song, it ended up on a TV show three weeks later—it was just a weird thing.” Although it may seem like a misprint, the very first song Radin ever wrote was featured on the show Scrubs just three weeks after he wrote it. Zach Braff, Radin’s good friend and star of the show, introduced the song “Winter” to the show’s creator, Bill Lawrence. Lawrence en-

joyed the song so much that he featured it almost immediately, sending Radin’s career into an immediate buzz frenzy. “People were asking where they could find my music, and I realized I should write some more songs,” Radin laughs. “It was totally surreal. I had written my first song and then three weeks later, I’m sitting in my living room watching my friend’s TV show. It shut down the NBC website. After the episode aired, too many people were trying to find out who wrote that song. “I’ve never gotten a response like that. It was just a weird thing, and to have it be the first song you’ve ever written… I wasn’t even planning on being a musician.” And with that, Radin’s career had begun. Fielding requests for more music, he dug into the writing process, using his personal life as motivation. “I was going through a break-up with a girl [because] the relationship had gone sour. At the time I was writing comedy screenplays, and I couldn’t express what I was going through in that medium. I started writing songs and it was almost like a journal.” Radin’s first “journal,” the album We Were Here released in 2006 to rave reviews. Just two years after learning to play guitar, his album quickly shot to the No. 1 spot on the iTunes folk chart and also earned a four-star review from Rolling Stone. Looking back on the immediate success, Radin admits that feelings have changed over the years. “It probably would have felt a lot different had I been trying to do it for so long. It’s like if you hopped on a bike as a little kid and just never fell. You just started riding. I don’t really know what to say. I’m so fortunate. Every day I laugh thinking I can’t believe I get to do this for a living.” Six years after the release of his debut album, Radin is still making music and still using it as his journal. Releasing two subsequent albums, he has continued to ride the initial wave of momentum into a full-fledged

career filled with adoring fans and multiple tour dates. With his fourth studio album, Underwater, set to release July 31, he explains a little deeper the significance of his latest project. “My whole life, doctors said I couldn’t go underwater because I have a hole in my eardrum. I just learned to deal with it. Just a part of the world that I was not going to be able to experience. But this year, doctors said my ear had reformed itself over the hole, and if I got specialized earplugs, I could do it,” Radin explains. “I had the plugs made and I went snorkeling in Hawaii. I had never experienced that sort of silence before. I had never been under the water. This melody started floating around in my head, kind of like an underwater symphony. “It was incredibly inspiring. My heart was beating so fast! I got out of the water and realized I had been inspired to write an album.” Underwater is a product of personal inspiration, but gives plenty to listeners in return with thoughtful lyrics and relevant themes. Writing and co-writing all 12 tracks, he uses his words to remind fans they aren’t alone in their struggles. “I feel like my job is a professional reminder,” Radin says. “I write about familiar themes—falling in and out of love. I write about familiar relationships. I write about things that every one of us can relate to. A lot of people come see me play, and they want to hear about someone who went through what they went through.” So in the end, perhaps making a career appear overnight is more the story of movies than it is of real life, but Radin is ready to make the ride last as long as he can. Continuing to write from his heart and remaining open for the world to see, he proves that immediate success can have a very lasting effect. Underwater releases on July 31 via Mom+Pop Records.





In February of this year, Apple Inc. reported selling more than 156 million iOS devices (iPhones, iPads, etc.) in 2011, the tech company’s best revenue year. Stockholders rallied in triumph. In May, Disney’s The Avengers smashed box office records with ticket sales of $200.3 million domestically during its first three days alone, giving the film the best opening weekend ever. The media sang its praises. Meanwhile, also in February, two friends from Erie, Penn., Tyler Cook and Andrew Slane, set out on a mission to help SubSaharan Africa combat the silent epidemic known as malaria, of which 216 million new cases were reported in 2010, according to the World Health Organization. There were no celebrations, no press conferences and no world records broken, just a couple of ev-

treated mosquito nets to send to Africa. They began selling T-shirts based on a one-for-one concept, meaning for every shirt sold a net would be donated (similar to TOMS Shoes). Utilizing grassroots efforts, they worked with small businesses in their community and slowly started building awareness. “Prevention has become the best solution to malaria right now,” explains Cook. “Pesticides were too toxic and expensive, so the nets are the most cost-effective way for us to help.” While it might not make sense to some why the duo decided to initiate the project, it felt like the right thing to do, as Cook recalls: “When my wife came back from Africa, she kept saying, ‘I wish there was something more that I could do.’ She had slept under a mosquito net while the family in the other room of the house didn’t have one and that really resonated. And as I started speaking with her and Andrew we all started thinking, ‘Why not?’ A lot of people have dreams and things they want to do and, as we all talked, we were inspired. ‘Why can’t we do something? Why not us?’” “Our whole heart in doing this is to really empower people,” explains Slane. “We want them to have a firsthand role in making a difference. It’s about people, it’s not about us.” While many young—and notso-young—people dream of creating the next big tech giant, starring in the next blockbuster film or otherwise becoming rich and famous, the founders of The Hope Movement have a different dream: helping those who can’t help themselves, and perhaps to inspire others to do the same. The dream may be different, but the journey is like many others. “It was tough at first,” Slane admits. “I wouldn’t say it was easy. We still have jobs and we had to try to balance everything. I was trying to build a website and go to med school at the same time. We

“...As we all talked, we were inspired. ‘Why can’t we do something? Why not us?’” eryday Americans trying to make a difference. “My wife studied in Africa a few years ago,” says Cook, who is a teacher, recalling his inspiration. “When she came back she had so many stories of families and kids suffering with malaria and people in the villages where she was staying dying from it. We didn’t know how serious it was, that medication isn’t even effective because the malaria has adapted to it.” Slane, a med school student, remembers hearing in a series of lectures about the effects of the disease, and being motivated to act. “I had no idea it was this bad. Everything you hear is about HIV and AIDS. I don’t think we ever realized how many lives are affected by malaria. We saw an opportunity to help people who don’t have the resources to help themselves.” Thus, The Hope Movement began. Partnering with a non-profit in California and the international charity UNICEF, Cook and Slane pooled what resources they had to raise funds for insecticide-

if they can, you can. CREATIVE PEOPLE. DOING BIG THINGS.

definitely had challenges.” Despite those challenges, The Hope Movement has prevailed, and in doing so; its founders have learned some valuable lessons. “You have to find what it is that makes you tick,” Cook encourages others to chase after a dream. “What drives you? Once you figure out what that is, no obstacle seems too great.” To learn more about The Hope Movement or to buy a T-shirt, go to Use the code “VARIANCE” when making a purchase or donation to receive a free wristband.


the temper trap by emily hulseberg


ince their debut album, Conditions, sold millions and reset their musical agendas due to worldwide touring and sold out shows, The Temper Trap is now making a clear path with their selftitled second album. During their tour through Europe, drummer Toby Dundas spoke with Variance before taking the stage in Germany to let readers in on the album expectations and the highs of being on the road with The Temper Trap. What started as a four-piece comprised of Dougy Mandagi on vocals, Jonathon Aherne on bass, Dundas on drums, and Lorenzo Sillitto on lead guitar soon developed into five with the addition of Joseph Greer on keyboards and guitar. In 2008, the group left their homes in Australia and moved to London, where they released the first album.



With the catchy, heartwarming song “Sweet Disposition,” the band found itself selling many records and gaining international success—something they weren’t expecting. “When we wrote that song we were just a little band from Melbourne getting to play in front of people if we were lucky, so we had really no idea that it would connect the way it did around the world, and it’s certainly opened a lot of doors for us and has given us some amazing opportunities to keep making music,” says Dundas. The song gained worldwide popularity from its use in advertisements around the world and most notably in the 2009 film, 500 Days of Summer, not to mention its appearance in thousands of wedding highlight videos. A first album is typically a lifetime of songs coming together, but when it comes

to putting together a second album, the writing process and progression of musical maturing and expectations start to creep in. When it came time to put in the work for the sophomore album, the guys were up for the challenge. “For a long time, we tried to keep those [expectations] at bay. For the most part, we did a pretty good job, but once we started playing the songs to the people at the label--you start to get some feedback, and those pressures kind of do start to appear,” explains Dundas. “There’s not much you can do about that. I think we

handled it pretty well and we made a record we wanted to make. We are really happy how it turned out.” The new LP has a musical connection for everyone. “Need Your Love” is an upbeat, danceable track that provides the listener with the reason they fell in love with the band in the first place. The songs deal with subjects from heart break to current issues,, like the London riots that were happening nearby during the band’s writing process. This album shows The Temper Trap’s versatility and ability to make a great album, not just a hit single. “Musically, we were fin

ishing the Conditions tour and stretching for new sounds. You know Dougy went through a breakup half-way through the tour, so that kind of influenced the lyrical themes, and probably half the tracks on the album stem from that and a few other things,” reveals Dundas. The album was recorded in sunny, mild-weathered Los Angeles, a change from “rainy ole’ England,” according to Dundas. They worked with producer-musician Tony Hoffer in his studio and made a record they were proud of and excited to get out on the road with. “The road is where you get to interact with your fans,” says Dundas. “Every show is a different thing where people are kind of absorbing your new songs. Being able to feel that energy in the room is definitely why we’re in this band. So touring is much more natural for us than being stuck at home writing songs and being in the studio.” The reason they love touring is similar to the reasons most people like to travel, minus being on stage in front of thousands. “I feel like our live shows are much more developed in this stage,” explains the drummer. “Just being in a different country everyday, different cities, getting to meet people, getting to eat different foods, going to local bars, just getting a feel for different places-that’s probably the best part of the touring lifestyle.”

The group credits their ability and love for touring as the reason they are starting to make headway in the United States, a market known to musicians, especially those from overseas, as a tough area to break into. “You just have to spend a lot of time touring, which is great for us. We like doing it and especially in America. It’s probably our favorite place to tour,” says Dundas. “You just got to keep coming back, got to take it one step at a time. Each time we go back the shows are getting a bit bigger and a bit bigger. So we just kind of continue with the way we’ve been going.” As for the future of the band, fans can expect continued growth as The Temper Trap intends to thrive and keep getting better. Dundas says: “We just want to keep doing what we’ve been doing and writing better songs and playing better shows and having more fun.” The The Temper Trap’s self-titled sophomore album is now available and fans can catch the band on tour as well.


tyler black burn

lying his way to the top written by Rachel Faylene


orn and raised in sunny California, Tyler Blackburn is now moving his way into hearts all across America. Appearing in a number of productions, he eventually landed a spot on the TV series Pretty Little Liars in 2010. He is now a season regular and is exploring the world of creativity through acting, music and dreaming. For those who might be unfamiliar with Pretty Little Liars, just think of it as a scarier version of Gossip Girl. Those unfamiliar with Gossip Girl will just have to watch the show and be prepared for a clique of girls who are blackmailed by a mysterious person. Blackburn’s character, Caleb Rivers, fills the role of a bad boy in training, coming from a questionable background and churning out a more approachable character. “My character Caleb came into the show like a transplant to Rosewood,” says Blackburn. “He has a little bit of sketchiness to him, you know? He has a little bit of an edge, too, but evolves into this nice young man.” With the help of the popular teen drama, Blackburn has created a name for himself that could possibly launch him even more into the realm of celebrity. “This show has definitely taken


my career to a different level,” he says. “This character, the fan base of the show, and the popularity is just amazing and it just keeps growing. I would say this is definitely my breakthrough role,” Blackburn remarks. Since the expansion of his following, Blackburn tries to keep things normal in his personal life. “I do get recognized and stuff sometimes, and certain aspects of life have changed a bit, but I like to try to stay as normal as possible as well as maintain a private life and that type of thing,” he states. Blackburn has also begun to dabble in the field of music, an art form that he claims to have been in love with for a long time now. He recorded and released a song for his web series, “Wendy,” which was accompanied by a music video. Fans weren’t the only ones to recognize his musical talent, though. ABC Family

took Blackburn on as a recording artist, in a sense, for their TV shows. “I’ve spent a lot of time acting and really pursuing that professionally,” says Blackburn. “That’s very fulfilling in one way, but music is a completely different feeling because they both really involve emotion, but acting is just a completely different beast.” While Blackburn is spending most of his time on his acting

Photographer: Teren Oddo; Stylist: Karen Raphael; Grooming: Heidi Stanton

career, there might be a chance of a musical outburst from behind the scenes. “I kind of wanted to see how it all goes – I would want it to be pretty separate [from acting],” he admits. “I like the idea of being part of a band where my name is not really involved in the title. Just to, sort of, have those two worlds separate, and also get to be creative on my own and do something that isn’t too mainstream.” That isn’t the last stop for Blackburn’s plans, though. He says, “I’d love to be a part of Pretty Little Liars for a while and

then eventually make a transition into film. I think I’d like to go with that and probably continue to do music on the side.” He goes on to add, “I don’t know how commercial I’d want it to be or how publicized, but we could play smaller shows, or maybe not; it just depends. I like to explore different things.” “It’s kind of like whatever I stumble across, if I’m immediately drawn to it, I’m going to just continue with that and stay on that path. So I would like to be doing

both, but definitely I’d like to try film,” says Blackburn. “I want to do that really badly.” To find out more about Tyler Blackburn, visit him online at:


they’re unstoppable.



hiladelphia-based rap duo Chiddy Bang is continuing its climb to the top. Only months after releasing the debut album, Breakfast, the group that consists of Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin will join Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller for their “Under the Influence of Music” summer tour. After roaring through those dates, they head for the west coast to open for one of the year’s hottest acts, fun. “We’re lucky to be a part of these lineups,” says Noah Beresin, the musician and beats-making half of Chiddy Bang. “We lived together with Wiz and those guys in a house at SXSW a couple years ago. They’re good people, you know. We’re psyched about it.” While touring with Khalifa and Miller seems like a logical mix, joining the guys from fun. on the road is slightly unexpected, given the difference in genres. But Beresin believes it’s a perfect match. “fun. is like the inverted version of Chiddy Bang,” he suggests. “They have the big pop songs, but a lot of their music is rooted in hip-hop. Besides the fact that we’re both young, I feel like we complement each other with our styles.” Beresin admits he is grateful for the chance to open for the Nate Ruess-fronted trio, whose mega-popular “We Are Young,” featuring Janelle Monae, has not only become a pop radio anthem but is also one of the year’s best-selling songs. According to Beresin, though, the opportunity caught them by surprise. “They sold out the tour pretty much before they even picked the opener,” he reveals. “Normally you pick an opener, based on kind of angling to try and sell more tickets. With a sold-out tour, they could pick anyone they want, and that opener would just have the chance to play in front of thousands of people each night. It’s crazy that they picked us. We understand how big that is.” Considering Chiddy Bang is still rela-


tively new (the duo formed in 2009), things are certainly looking up for the pair. But with these new opportunities also come new challenges. “This is a learning process,” Beresin explains. “Working with a label has been a different experience. We don’t really have anything to compare it to, but we’re learning. There are things that me and Chiddy think of that don’t really work in the real

world. We go, ‘Oh, we really like this song! Let’s put it out,’ but the label goes, ‘Oh, s---, you didn’t clear the sample! What are you doing?’ There’s a lot we never thought about.” While the young musician says he feels too fortunate to complain just yet, he does believe the duo’s age can get in the way sometimes. “We try to make music we like,” says Beresin. “But it’s hard for

“If we were concerned about people’s opinions on the Internet, we would have stopped putting out music four years ago.”

the label to trust two kids who want to write, produce, mix, match and engineer all by themselves. [The label] wants something they can push to radio, something they’ll play a million times. We just want to make stuff we feel good about.” Making sounds they feel good about has been at the core of Chiddy Bang’s music since its inception. Skewing more electronic than some of its predecessors, the

act has frequently been the subject of criticism because of sampling and other outof-the-norm musical choices, but Beresin says it doesn’t change anything. “I wouldn’t go back in time and not do anything,” he says, recalling past criticism of the pair’s sampling of Sufjan Stevens’ “All Things Go.” The indie singer’s cult following trampled the Chiddy Bang revision, which Beresin created when he was only 17. “I love the original song,” he admits, also noting a valuable lesson learned. “If you’re going to sample something, make sure you do something so crazy and original, that it’s a far cry from the original. I get frustrated when people sample, and all they did was put a drum loop. That’s part of why we didn’t put ‘Opposite of Adults’ (Chiddy Bang’s breakout single) on the album, because we wanted to be able to do it without obvious sampling. We want to learn and we want to grow, and we want to make better music.” Despite a few occasional critics, Beresin understands it comes with the territory. “If we were concerned about people’s opinions on the Internet, we would have stopped putting out music four years ago.” Fortunately for fans, that doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon. Although what happens after the tour remains unclear, Beresin is optimistic about the future. “Maybe we’ll make another album. Maybe we’ll become boat captains. Maybe Chiddy will put out his own line of sunglasses. We’ll just kind of do whatever we want.” Chiddy Bang’s debut album, Breakfast, is available now. The Mind Your Manners EP is also available, exclusively on iTunes. For tour dates, go to

by Jonathan Robles



From commercials, to radio, to the “recently played” section in the iTunes playlist, British singer-songwriter Alex Clare is dominating the scene with his hit single, “Too Close.” And while the song has been blowing up in the States in 2012, Clare actually released his album, The Lateness of the Hour, in the U.K. July 2011. After the not-so-impressive success of the album’s release, he was dropped from his label. “I was in shock and didn’t really know what to do,” says Clare. “I mostly talked with some good friends and tried to figure out what to do next.” And while one door closes, another always opens. Clare is back on the path to success and is building a growing reputation across the world. “[The song] is an international best seller so things are really good,” he says. “I am now signed again and working on a new album.” The commercial use of “Too Close” in Internet Explorer 9’s new ad campaign has launched Clare into a different realm of recognition. The pop song is addicting, with its dubstep hook only overshadowed by Clare’s powerhouse vocals. The message connects with everyone at some 56

point. He describes the background of the song saying, “‘Too Close’ is basically about having a close relationship with a friend and realizing that the relationship should never have moved passed friendship. It deals with the reclamation of boundaries.” Clare is adding to the overwhelming number of British artists on the charts currently invading the U.S. through music. “I think it’s amazing,” he reveals. “There has always been a mild British presence.” And although there is a trend of British artists finding their way ‘round the world through the airwaves, Clare denied the opportunity to tour with fellow musician Adele. “I didn’t really have a choice,” he explains. “You have to stick to your beliefs, so I am more than fine with having to forgo certain opportunities in order to uphold those.” Staying true to his beliefs, Clare admits that being a devout Jew in the industry is far from easy. “The biggest challenge is working with people who don’t necessarily come from a religious background and don’t understand its importance to me.

CLARE written by Rachel Faylene

“You have to stick to your beliefs, so I am more than fine with having to forgo certain opportunities in order to uphold those.” The best things in my life have come from my faith so I would not change it for the world.” Clare is a headstrong artist who is succeeding without sacrificing the ideas and opinions close to him. “I’ve set boundaries and goals and I’m okay with that,” he notes. Hard work, dedication and patience have paid off for Clare and he is currently working on new music to share. He is currently overseeing production of his latest project and hopes to have a new album to release sometime next year.





A BIG IMPACT by Merlyn Hamilton


akob L. Waitekus, author of the recently released science fiction book, Calibur, began writing the book as a fourteen-year-old. Three years later, he has a finished product that has impressed science fiction readers across the country. Most 14-year-olds are just trying to figure out how to navigate high school, but author Jakob L. Waitekus was a little less focused on cool cliques and future prom dates his freshman year. He was too busy writing his new science fiction novel, Calibur. Three years later, he has a finished product that has impressed science fiction readers across the country. A mix of science fiction and fantasy, Waitekus describes his book as possessing “the magic and additional species of fantasy and the near-future tech of sci-fi.” The book focuses on “a character who fights to keep humanity on another planet where the government welcomes humanity.” Waitekus says he only realized how much he enjoyed writing when he was halfway into Calibur. “I had done a few small projects when I was younger and there was a small passion, 58

but they never really got past three chapters,” he recalls. “When Calibur did get past those three chapters, I guess I pushed that passion even further and I found an enjoyment in finishing the whole story.” Unlike most science fiction books, Calibur was written with a Christian audience in mind. “I wanted to create a sci fi/fantasy book from a Christian’s point-of-view, filled with Christian characters, where the characters’ beliefs lead their actions, even if it doesn’t seem that way,” Waitekus explains. The goal was “to tell a story that isn’t filled with foul language, vulgar humor and most of all, has one God, our God, instead of multiple deities.” But as any good writer knows, sometimes creative challenges can occur in the writing process. “My greatest challenge had to be not taking the fantasy or science fiction too far,” he says. “When I write, I throw random idea after random idea into my work, some of which may or may not cross a line, or may or may not fit the characters’ beliefs.” Published as a minor, age is nothing but a number in terms of Waitekus’ writing

career. Fueled by passion and spirit, this author’s humility and confidence is evident. “The phrase ‘You can do anything if you just try’ may seem corny, but it’s truer than you may realize,” says the young author. “If you love to write, then you should never be afraid to take it as far as you can go with it. Finishing a book, let alone publishing one, may seem a little daunting, but it’s more than possible if you just try and don’t give up. I believe God’s given us all the skills we need, we just have to learn not to waste them; we have to learn to use them and use them right.” So what are Waitekus’ plans now? “I plan to write more for as long as I can,” Waitekus says. “I like writing these stories and want to see them go places. So long as I never lose the will to write and the creativity it takes to finish a story, I will always plan to write. I want to turn Calibur into a series and then, once that is done, I will try another book.” For more information on Jakob L. Waitekus and Calibur, follow him at

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ESPYS on ESPN Los Angeles, CA Greek Theatre Los Angeles, CA Capitol Hill Block Party Seattle, WA The Norva Norfolk, VA Firefly Music Festival Dover, DE Bowery Ballroom New York, NY Fox Theater Boulder, CO Richmond Jazz Festival Richmond, VA Golden Gate Park San Francisco, CA The Late Show on CBS New York, NY Vail Soul Music Festival Vail, CO The Gorge Amphitheatre George, WA The Gorge Amphitheatre George, WA The Gorge Amphitheatre George, WA Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre Chula Vista, CA Verizon Wireless Amphitheater Irvine, CA Shoreline Amphitheatre Mountain View, CA Cultivate Festival - Lincoln Park Chicago, IL University of Idaho Moscow, ID Life is Good Festival Canton, MA World Cafe Live Philadelphia, PA Jefferson Theater Charlottesville, VA The Jewish Mother Virginia Beach, VA The Visulite Theatre Charlotte, NC Cannery Ballroom Nashville, TN The Loft Atlanta, GA The Orpheum Tampa, FL Culture Room Fort Lauderdale, FL WorkPlay Theatre Birmingham, AL Alabama Music Box Mobile, AL House of Blues Parish New Orleans, LA Scout Bar Houston, TX Trees Dallas, TX Martini Ranch Scottsdale, AZ Belly Up Tavern Solana Beach, CA El Rey Theatre Chico, CA Mississippi Studios Portland, OR Knitting Factory Spokane, WA Vogue Theatre Vancouver, Canada The Complex - The Grand Salt Lake City, UT Fox Theatre Boulder, CO The Waiting Room Omaha, NE Fine Line Music Cafe Minneapolis, MN Wooly’s Des Moines, IA Granada Theater Lawrence, KS Turner Hall Milwaukee, WI The Basement Columbus, OH

ur on otow




mbarking on the biggest tour of his career, Ryan Raddon (better known by his stage name Kaskade), takes the summer by force with his Freaks of Nature tour. And while most categorize him as a DJ, Kaskade describes himself and his tour as much more than “typical”. “We outgrew the word ‘DJ’ 10 years ago,” says Kaskade. “I can play tracks on a CD player, sure. But out of everything I do, that’s kind of the bottom of the list. I’m a songwriter, a lyricist, I write, I compose, I produce, and it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, and I’m a DJ!’” For an artist like Kaskade, being on the road gives him the opportunity to have control of every aspect of his live performance. “Typically, in my world of electronic music, I play night clubs,” Kaskade explains. “I’ve played all over the world in



pre-existing night clubs that are already set up and the elements are in place there with the lights, the sounds, and whatever.” Emphasizing the importance of creating his own atmosphere for this tour, Kaskade is excited to make changes. “This is much closer to what a proper Kaskade concert should be,” he says eagerly. “Typically I’m just controlling what people hear, the audio side of things.” But this time around, the entertainer has hands in both the design of the stage and the content that syncs with his music. “With electronic music and the global popularity, I’ve been able to play bigger stages,” he explains. “This is my first time taking a full-on stage on the road with me so it’s more of what I want for people to experience from beginning to end and I don’t have to deal with whatever club and their pre-existing look and feel of things. Everything that’s happening with my show is mine.”

* by Rachel Faylene

While most performers don’t get the chance to artistically control both their sound and visual effects, Kaskade understands the importance of expressing himself in every form. “To be involved with so much more is a great opportunity,” he says with gratitude. “I just try to figure out how to satisfy the fans and the demand for the explosive growth and popularity, yet still have a show that really maintains and expresses what I’m about.” Kaskade confronts the disadvantage of performing in his world with the materials that are available to him as an entertainer: “I can’t get up there and strum my guitar because that’s not what I do; I play my computer.” He adds, “I think, with electronic music in general, we lean heavily on lights and you go to some of these other live shows now and everyone’s borrowing from what we’ve been doing in electronic music, from the screens, the production, the lights, and working visu-

als to work with the track.” Electronic dance music (EDM) has leaked into the mainstream world, impacting the way people listen to and write music. Kaskade is passionate about his loyalty to EDM, explaining, “It’s become more of an experience and I think people are realizing that, and that’s why so many people are borrowing heavily. All of these hip hop acts, everything that they’re doing, it’s like, ‘Man, a decade ago that’s what we were doing.’ It’s the nature of pop culture. People borrow from one another.” Noticing the influence that electronic music has on today’s major music market, Kaskade takes a stab at identifying the reason behind its expanding popularity. “I think it’s a cultivation of a lot of things, but it just sounds fresh. There is so

much music out there, especially in pop music, that I think kids were getting tired of hearing the same old thing. “I also think social networking is a massive thing and is helping push [EDM] to the forefront,” he continues. “Before, there would be three or four relevant radio stations in whatever city you lived in and it’s like they were all playing a variation of the same music…Now you have Spotify playlists and you can subscribe to your friends and see what they’re listening to. People are publishing their playlists. It’s much easier for people to connect.” And while the genre is taking off and exposing itself to the rest of the world, Kaskade says it’s hard to forget the few that were there to support it in the beginning.

“Electronic music was really relevant and private in the underground – it was always there,” he says. “Now you look at some of my stuff on YouTube and I have 15 and 20 million plays, and it’s a picture of an album cover. It’s not like they’re sitting there watching it; people are just finding and discovering music different ways.” With the capability to draw just as large of an audience, what is that separates Kaskade from the major label artists out there? Maybe it’s the personal detail of his live show or the close interaction he has with fans that keeps him focused and attractive to his listeners. “I’m an indie artist; my marketing budget is me hanging out on Twitter and Facebook talking directly to my fans,” says Kaskade.

“That’s why the majors are so freaked out. I mean, we totally changed their plan and people don’t know what to do.” When it comes down to it, the movement that is EDM has always been in the works. Whether people were part of it 10 years ago or are just jumping on the dance wagon now, electronic artists like Kaskade are making sure their genre makes its mark. Kaskade recently became the first EDM artist to headline and sell out the Staples Center in Los Angeles for his show in July. For more dates and information regarding the Freaks of Nature tour, go to:




Coachella 2012, by Jason Persse


Childish Gambino at Bonnaroo 2012; Photo: Laura Fedele

Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes at Bowery Ballroom; Photo: Joe Grimaldi

Deadmau5 at Cream in Serrata de Can Palau, Balearic Islands; Photo: Amnesia Ibiza 64

Santigold at Coachella 2012; Photo: Creative Commons

Nate Ruess of fun. at Diamond Ballroom; Photo: Jacob Turner

* Sunset Music Festival; Photo: Michael Sitarz


Lionel Richie and Kenny Rogers at Bonnaroo 2012; Photo: Laura Fedele 66


Lauryn Hill at Highline Ballroom



Nice knowing you.


Ed Sheeran - July 2012  

Featuring: British music powerhouse Ed Sheeran; Owl City; Of Monsters and Men; Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros; The Future of Hip-Hop, Ch...