On the road with d: Delta Spirit

Delta Spirit really caught my attention when I first heard them with their brand of high-energy blues-rock. Four of the band's members used to be drummers, so it shouldn't be a surprise that they have such high-energy rhythmically driven music. When Delta Spirit formed, they wanted to sound thoroughly American, so they anchored their music in the soul of American roots music.

Their song Trashcan is actually about how singer Matt Vasquez was found by the other members of the band. Drummer Brandon Young was in downtown San Diego when he heard Vasquez playing guitar in the trolley station. Then when the band Young and bassist Jonathan Jameson were in broke up, they got in touch with Vasquez.

Regarding how the band writes music, Young's said "We don’t sit down and write, it all comes from jam sessions. It starts with a cool lick or a couple chords, and then the lyrics of the song come from Matt or Kelly."

Delta Spirit - Trashcan

The band makes an effort to give their recordings the sound of being played live; they're excited by how The Libertines sound like their recordings were done in one take and the band wants to retain that sort of feel in their own music. You can definitely hear that in songs like Gimme Some Motivation off their EP I Think I've Found It!

Children is off their album Ode to Sunshine, their first full-length. They recorded the songs for this CD up in a cabin in Jullian, California and released it in 2007; it's going to be re-released later this year under Rounder Records. Delta Spirit is currently on tour with Matt Costa; you can find details of locations on their MySpace.

Below is one more song from I Think I've Found It! and one from Ode to Sunshine.

Delta Spirit - Streetwalker

Delta Spirit - People C'mon

Delta Spirit's MySpace

AnnieB's Detour: Lykke Li (Concert)

So…I saw Lykke Li last Monday at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. To be honest, I thought I was going to miss out since I got off of work late and she was the opening act. Luckily, there was another act before her, so I sort of sped for nothing. Anyway, the crowd was mainly filled with a rather eager, bright-eyed, college youngsters from what I can tell near the stage. The older folks seem to be content being on the sidelines.

Eventually, out walks Lykke Li in her belted baggy black attire and gold chains, followed by the rest of her bandmates. The setlist starts off with Lykke Li singing the high-pitched, staccato ooh, ooh, ooh's of the slow tempo "Time Flies". Then, it picks up with "Dance Dance Dance" and slows back down a bit with "Everybody But Me".

El Perro del Mar was the main act of the night and she came out to do a guest performance on "My Love". The next song might have been "Let It Fall", but my memory has faded regarding the setlist. Anyway, the crowd, of course, got giddy for "Little Bit", but I really thought the highlight of the show was the upbeat performance of "Breaking It Up." Even my friend who is absolutely unfamiliar with Lykke Li remembered that song the most. Lykke Li then closed out her act with "Tonight" and "I'm Good, I'm Gone".

This show had so much more than the expected handclapping. Add the cowbell, the kazoo, and the megaphone on top of Lykke Li's pelvic thrusts and hip sways, just makes it a great show. That, and I love the fact that the guys who play the keyboard and drums were on either side of Lykke Li at the front of the stage, and the guitar in the back. The percussive aspects are really instrumental to her music, in my opinion.

While my friend and I didn't stay for the main act, we ended the night by walking past the star of Entourage on our way out of the venue. That was my friend's highlight of the night, even though we didn't know his name other than 'the guy from Entourage'. (Btw, it's Adrian Grenier...however, I had to look that up.)

Oh, and I guess I should end off this post with something new. Here's a track by Kleerup with Lykke Li on vocals.

Kleerup - Until We Bleed (ft. Lykke Li)

Lykke Li's Website
Lykke Li's Myspace

AnnieB's Detour: D*R*I

Perhaps you guys are better than me and looked into D*R*I a bit more earlier when it had posted onto the homepage. Dri is Adrianne Verhoeven of the Anniversary, Art in Manila, and Fourth of July…and should definitely not to be confused with the punk, metal, trash music of D.R.I. In contrast, her music is downtempo trip hop and easy on the ears.

I don’t know how long it’s been, but I still can’t get enough of this song. It’s from her solo debut album, Smoke Rings, which was released last November.

I highly recommend that you visit her Virb page where you can stream most of her album.

Otherwise, here’s another taste of D*R*I.

D*R*I’s Myspace

Btw, I just made two other posts as brief commentary, but I set them at an earlier date so I don't bombard this blog simply because I'm trying to play catch up. If you're interested, you can click on the link or tag to my column.

On the road with d: Grand Archives

When Band of Horses left the city of Seattle for South Carolina after the release of their first album Everything All the Time, guitarist and co-founder Mat Brooke didn't follow. Instead Brooke stayed behind in Seattle and founded the indie rock band now known as Grand Archives (formerly known just as Archives).

They released some demos in March 2007 announcing their presence and quickly were signed and ended up opening for Modest Mouse in April before heading to the studio to record their full-length album that summer. Earlier this year, they released that album The Grand Archives. Included on the album are the four songs previously released as demos, but reworked and recorded with a fuller instrumentation and a crisper sound. Brooke's said that one of the rules that his band set up was that they wouldn't use any synthesizers; every instrument recorded is the real deal.

When asked about how the band's music differs from his prior work with Band of Horses, Brooke's said "I feel like I still played the guitar the exact same way and I usually go with the same chord changes but the only difference was that we added a lot more vocal melodies and try to play in a few less minor chords and in a few more majors." It shows. The overall sound of the album is brighter and more upbeat even if the lyrics have a tendency towards the melancholy.

Torn Blue Foam Couch is the lead track off the album and the version on the site is the album version. The earlier, demo version is worth listening to, though. If you compare the two songs, you can hear the difference primarily in the introduction and in the tempo.

Grand Archives - Torn Blue Foam Couch (demo)

Grand Archives is in the middle of a summer tour currently performing along with Sera Cahoone (Cahoone sometimes used to drum sometimes in Carissa's Wierd and in Band of Horses). Below are three more tracks from The Grand Archives.

Grand Archives - Sleepdriving

Grand Archives - Miniature Birds

Grand Archives - Index Moon

Grand Archives' website (not really active as of now)
Grand Archives' MySpace

A Conversation with September 29th

sept 29

Some artists you hardly remember after playing their last hit; others put a smile on your face while you think "wow! I've got to get this one"; and then there are those that reach your soul. September 29th belongs to that last kind. An extraordinary artist ready to carry us through heavy times.

FJS: Let's start with some common questions: When did you start writing music?

September 29th: When I was about 12.

FJS: Do you remember the first song you wrote?

September 29th: When I was 12, definitely. The first song I wrote was "Sometimes, at night", even if last Summer I obviously rewrote the lyrics and rearranged the piece. The title was different, too, at the time but I can't recollect it, now!

FJS: Who do you first play your songs to?

September 29th: My family. And my cat. She turns up every time I pick up my guitar :)

FJS: That's one lucky cat :). Any songs you are not happy with?

September 29th: It depends on my mood, I guess. Sometimes I hate everything I write. Most of the time, fortunately, I just content myself with the thought that I like doing things and can't help doing them, and doing them my way.

FJS: How many instruments do you play?

September 29th: Well, I don't know exactly. I play guitars (classical, acoustic, lead, electric.... even 12 strings but it's not good for my tendons). Synthesizers, a bit of piano, harmonicas, flute... I really love playing the bass. And I wish I could try a sax. Playing my sax in the middle of the night, in August, that would be my dream!

FJS: That's impressive. Which one is your favourite?

September 29th: The acoustic guitar. It's always there when I need a shoulder to cry on :)

FJS: You are indeed a one person band. I can imagine the freedom and endless possibilities you have when writing songs or taking decisions. What is the downside? Would you like to have your own band one day?

September 29th: As a kid I wasn't very popular in high school, and music neither.

I've looked for fellow travelers for years and in the end I just gave it up and decided to be my own band. I had no choice, I guess.

As you say, on one hand it's easier when you're the only person taking decisions. I can wake up in the middle of the night and record a song, arrange it the way I want.... On the other hand, it can be awfully difficult, because you can never share the burden with anyone. You're alone.

I'd like to find musicians with whom playing live, definitely. So far I've just collaborated with people from a distance, via email, which is terribly nice but not so real, if you know what I mean. Music means making mistakes, adjusting the pace, slipping and falling, exchanging glances... It's rewarding when you have to build something together with someone else.

FJS: I read on your soundclick page (link below) that your music would be for fans of "Bob Dylan... I don't know" Would you say your music is heavily influenced by his sound? Who else has influenced your work?

September 29th: I really like Bob Dylan, especially his experimenting, going through different periods, loving different things. He changes all the time but you always know he's Bob Dylan, he is a gambler, not a fake ;)

I don't know if he really was an inspiration to me, though, probably yes, at an unconscious level. You just hear things and let them become part of your life, without knowing where the source ends and your creativity begins. It just happens. I guess that every good song I've heard in my life has in a way influenced my musical direction.

I like to think that songs knock upon my door and all I do is let them in.

FJS: History seems to be an important part of your music and life. I find "The Story of History" a fascinating album and concept. You cover different historical characters and events. How was this project born? Why did you choose some of those events?

September 29th: I've always been fascinated by History, yes. History is everything but it still quite hard to describe what this "everything" really is. I would say: "History is ordinary life to the nth degree".

Sometimes I am tormented by History, by the fact that often we still don't know where Truth lies, who killed whom and why. Or, even if we do know that, we still can't prove it and what's lost is lost, forever. History is a gallery of lost chances and casual victories but I'm still convinced that we can use it as a mirror to remember and go on, learn our Rights and see what's wrong. Above all, I believe History should teach us to sympathize with our ancestors, those strangers, foreigners who dwelled on this Earth so long ago, or just yesterday.

"The Story of History"

As for "The Story of History", I started thinking about that project last November, after watching Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette" (I must confess that I didn't like her previous movies, but that one was really interesting). That film was like the spark I needed to find a shape to an idea born long before. It suggested me that Music could have been the best way to depict History. Besides, I've always been fascinated by concept albums, such as Pink Floyd's "The Wall" or "The Final Cut" (which is my favourite), The Who's "Tommy"... so I said to myself that I had come up with a good topic, finally ;)

Writing a concept album is like being on a mission, you know where everything starts and ends, it is definitely reassuring.

Choosing events and characters in "The Story of History"

Basically, I wanted to dedicate my songs to those characters who made History despite themselves, those monarchs who died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time such as the last tzar of Russia and his family, or Lady Jane Grey who was just a pawn in a dynastic game, Mary Queen of Scots...

Then, being a pacifist and against any kind of violence, I also chose to tell the story of characters who died in a bad way, who were abruptly killed for no reason or just because they believed in something else but Violence and Power. I wanted to honour the memory of those who weren't silent when Hitler ruled Germany, of the politicians who were reformers, of Lillian Hellman who had the guts to choose her conscience over her career, of Rosa Luxemburg who was rifle-butted, shot in the head and whose body was thrown in Berlin's Landwehr Canal to be found about five months later...

FJS: In "Herald of the Morn" you use English but also sing in another language, I think it's Russian. Did that affect your approach to the song? Why sing in English and not Italian?

September 29th: Yes, it's Russian ;)

I guess it was very stubborn of me to sing in Russian but, as they say, what's done is done. Well, actually, it was a way to bid goodbye to a certain period of my life, and I do prefer musical goodbyes.

I had scribbled down a couple of short poems in Russian back in 2005 (I was really interested in Russian versification when I studied it in college) and as I realised they perfectly fitted in the songs I was writing for Herald I just decided to give it a try.

Besides, I must confess that I truly like Russian Rock music, groups such as Kino and Akvarium are absolutely brilliant. Kino became a real phenomenon in the late 1980's and despite the fact that, helas, the group's leader, Viktor Tsoi, was killed in a car crash in 1990, in Russia their music is still in the charts.

When I went to Moscow in 2005, an old lady gave me one of their cassettes, and I fell for their songs. Russian is a very musical language.

Am I Italian? Just kidding. The thing is I don't feel Italian at all when I sing. I've always felt that I belong to the River that flows from the land of Music & Freedom to the land of Music & Freedom, wherever they are... My musical soul speaks, has always spoken and will always speak English.

FJS: What has the internet meant for you as far as music is concerned? "Herald of the Morn" was your first album and also self-produced; but for "The Story of History" you have used the internet. What has your experience been with both formats?

September 29th: The internet has meant so much to me, it gave me the chance of having my songs heard, of connecting with open souls and minds, finding people who understand the way I am and are so generous to support me. Music without listeners is just nothing and what I appreciate of the internet is that even if it is, yes it is, virtual, it causes real effects.

This is a starting point, if you use the internet it doesn't mean you don't want to live out there, in the so called real world. Maybe you just have a bad sense of direction and often get lost ;)

Self-producing an album can be very hard, believe me! But, of course, it's also funny and exciting. The self-promotion part maybe is a bit more complicated than the rest, of course, but you have to deal with it.

I remember that last Summer I did everything in a hurry, one day I woke up and decided that those songs had to be officially recorded, I wanted to make them real. It was quite a stressing month... I was suffering from shingles, recording and mixing, looking after my cat who had just undergone a mastectomy.... I'm happy I did it all in a hurry, though, because if I hadn't released that album then, I would have missed that train. September arrived and sadness, too, indeed. My cat died, my inspiration changed, I wrote "But"... I've learnt a lot from that but I've also changed a lot since then.

As for the idea of making "The Story of History" available in the internet, I just felt that this project was ready to be shared. And I'm too broke to self-produce another album, honestly, so I chose the easy way. Yet I'd like to see it as an album one day, with the artwork, the printed lyrics and so on.

FJS: I'd like to see that too one day. If I had to choose a song to listen in an endless loop it would be "Heavy Times (Part 1)". I find the lyrics are dark and sad but the music gives me hope: What can you tell me about the song and the video? and Where is part 2?

September 29th: Where is part 2? In my computer, I confess. Together with part 3 and 4... Probably I'm not too satisfied with these recordings. No, definitely not. I promise I'll find a way to record them again...

I wrote ""eavy Times (Part 1)" last November. Or was it December? Anyway, I firstly worked the harmonies out. Everything started from an E minor, I daresay, my favourite chord. And then came the lyrics. I scribbled down some words randomly, just listening to them, to their sound, they just fitted in perfectly and this made perfect sense. Then in January I came up with this new arrangement, with this strong bass line. And that's it.

As for the video, it was another quick gesture of mine, so to speak. I had an afternoon free and decided to use my webcam and all the pictures stored in my computer to show what it's like to live in Heavy Times.

FJS: Talking about favourite songs, if you were stranded in an island and could only listen to 3 songs, which ones would you choose to listen under a palm tree?

September 29th: Once upon a time I was a better listener, I daresay. Since I've started writing so many songs I tend to switch the radio off, to enjoy the silence.

Yet I'm sure that under a palm tree I'd listen to Ben E. King's "Stand by me". I never grow tired of that song. Soul music is fantastic.

FJS: You love films and literature; What place do they have in your music and lyrics?

September 29th:My mother is a writer, my father, too, but in a different way. My sister and I grew up watching old films and reading books. We invented long and complicated games and eventually, when we had to stop playing, we turn those games into books, short screenplays and music.

I like to write plain lyrics, basically there's always a story behind a song. Thoughts can be biographical but the plot is never biographical, I write songs as if I were writing a short film, with characters, actions and a location. I guess it might depend on the fact that I've seen too many films, yes.

FJS: You also won a special mention in a short film festival a couple of years ago. What other hidden talents do you have?

September 29th: This is the most difficult question.

I'm a writer and a poet, too, I guess. I wrote a couple of novels, a short story of mine won a prize in a national competition... I was among the winners of the First Peace Poetry Festival organized by Iranian poet Rira Abbasi in Teheran last year; and I have just signed a contract with a literary agent.

I've decided that language is the wall between these fields. My songwriting belongs to English, while the rest belongs to my native language. This way it is easier to go on. Yet one thing is sure, my life without music would be nothing. I decided to call my musical project September 29th because I feel I was born under a musical sign, indeed.

FJS: Maybe it's time to learn some Italian ;) I know you are trying to contact record companies and I've read your thoughts about their unwillingness to work with new emerging / unknown artists. How are things working out? And going back to the internet question, seeing how things are changing and the tools available to promote your own work, do you think you really need a record company?

September 29th: Well, the other day I've spent a couple of hours looking for indie labels and I've found some contacts. Their demo policy is clear: they do accept demos, wow. I guess I'll start from there.

Do I need a record company? Good question. I guess I'd like to have a record company just to be sure that what I'm doing is real, if you know what I mean, that I'm doing this not just because I feel it necessary but because it could really be necessary.

Besides, as I said, self-promotion is hard and can be very boring because you're always there. Sometimes I get tired of myself and I just need a break.

Said that, I know that I will go on anyway, even if I didn't land a deal. I don't care for money or success, I just want to do music and do it my way.

FJS: A final question to wrap things up; what are your next projects?

September 29th: I've written too many songs this past year and I've just decided to take a break from songwriting not to become crazy. My plan is to try and spread what I've done so far, for example I'd like to have my songs featured in films.

In the meantime, I'm also thinking about some literary projects.

Maybe tomorrow my break will be over, who knows?! ;) If a good song knocks upon my door I'll let it in, no doubt.

And if I ask the Moon, all I hear is: Life is the answer.

Let's see.

FJS: Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview and for your time. Hasta Tempo, my friend!

More at : September 29th and myspace

"Heavy Times (Part 1)" video and "The Story of History" can be found at soundclick

Get to Know a Fellow 61'er: Evonity

We're coming up with new and improved questions for the month of June! They'll be deep and probing, I promise - Batface89, MaxBumps Czarina (Genus Mormoops... oh, go look it up!)

  1. Your 61 Listener ID: Evonity
  2. Current Favorite Artist: On T61: The Indio Bait, The Jacks, Kalabi and many others. Outside T61: Spinvis (lyrics are Dutch, music is multilingual)
  3. Artist you most wish would upload music: Any of the following Dutch bands / artists (do check them out!)
    • Moke (rock that reminds me of The Shins - clip is from Dutch movie TBS)
    • Voicst (alt rock that could compete with the best)
    • La Melodia (great hiphop - you probably won't believe she's Dutch)
    • Pete Philly & Prequisite (these are the guys that every wooden shoes wearing, real music loving Dutchman is talking about)
    • C-Mon & Kypski (all kind of mixtures, based on hiphop dj'ing)
    • LPG (alt rock that tries to compete with Voicst)
    • Scram C baby (alt rock / punkrock since 1993)
    • Benny Sings (piano pop rock)
    • De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig (they sing and rap in Dutch slang - a language i unfortunately not master completely)
    • ZzZ (warning: X-rated video - contains explicit nudity).

    Leave a note on my comment wall if you like any of the above mentioned artists.

  4. Your musical guilty pleasure: Dutch polka (example), but only when I'm working outside ;-}
  5. How did you hear of The Sixty One? By browsing del.icio.us on a keyword I forgot.
  6. How much less productive are you since you've joined? I decided to back off a bit from the whole thing. Just answer some messages and stay away from the upload page. Force myself (at least for one week long) to spent time on other, equally important things like my little business, my family and eight hours of sleep.
  7. What is the biggest change you'd make to The Sixty One? A way to seperate Artist news from Listener news in the Subscriptions block.
  8. Who is the listener you'd most like meet in person? Anyone who is as adicted to the game as i am. Maybe we can setup a little T61-ic Anonymous get together one day.
  9. What do you think of Second Life Avatars for musicians and users? I'm thinking of getting Dutch Artists and Listeners to apply a windmill to their avatar - eventually resulting in a new question in this questionaire: "What do you think of Dutch Avatars for musicians and users?"
  10. What sort of stuff would you like to see on this blog? I appreciate the posts by the maxbump.net contributors and I like to talk about T61. So I'm satisfied.
  11. Do you have anything else to say? I maintain a T61 fanblog at Evonity.org, but it's in my natural language, which unfortunately happens to be Dutch language only. Although there's a Google Search page to search the T61 site. For this page i wrote a small introduction in English. Btw. Did you know that "We used to play in a van down the river" is called a Chris Farley description? I didn't, until i started using 'my own' search engine. Have a look at the blog and tell me what you think - especially when you understand what i'm writing.

Four Achievements added to the site

In the past two weeks, four achievements were introduced to the site. These achievements allow an alternative way to earn points beyond the basic point gains earned from other people bumping songs after you do.

The achievements are still being tweaked and a number of the level requirements have been tweaked since their initial release (For instance, the level requirements for Sensei of Soul were increased from what it was initially released with and the Disc Jockey level 1 requirement was also raised from its initial release value of 5 listens). Below are the current values as of now (including known point values).

listen up
reach a play count milestone
level 1: 5 plays, 100 pts earned
level 2: 100 plays, 250 pts earned
level 3: 1000 plays, 500 pts earned
level 4: 5000 plays, 1000 pts earned
level 5: 25000 plays
Added May 10
sensei of soul
first bump a song to the homepage
level 1: 1 songs, 100 pts earned
level 2: 5 songs, 250 pts earned
level 3: 10 songs, 500 pts earned
level 4: 25 songs, 1000 pts earned
level 5: 50 songs, 2500 pts earned
level 6: 100 songs
Added May 12
disc jockey
earn points when others listen to your radio
level 1: 25 listens, 100 pts earned
level 2: 100 listens, 250 pts earned
level 3: 1000 listens, 500 pts earned
level 4: 5000 listens, 1000 pts earned
level 5: 25000 listens
Added May 18
lewis & clark
bump songs in under-explored genres
(classical, blues, country, hip-hop, jazz, r&b, reggae)
level 1: 50 bumps, 100 pts earned
level 2: 200 bumps, 250 pts earned
level 3: 500 bumps, 500 pts earned
level 4: 1500 bumps, 1000 pts earned
level 5: 5000 bumps
Added May 21

Old Nerdy Bastard

I thought there might be quite a few people around here who would be interested in a compilation of nerdy remixes that dropped yesterday, since there are quite a few names on it that should be familiar to all of you.
The ensuing round of musical mayhem is a collection of remixes, mash-ups, and re-orchestrations of geeky tracks from across the spectrum. There’s nerdcore, of course, and Wizard Rock, geek rock (or, grock, as it’s come to be called in some circles) and even a dash of foreign language goodness on the menu, reworked by a delightfully eclectic collection of DJs, producers, and musicians. I owe each of these participants an equal measure of thanks, as this is really their album.
thesixtyone artists involved with the compilation (I'm probably missing some):
Jonathan Coulton
The Grammar Club
Brad Sucks
Glenn Case

For those whose interest is piqued, it's a free download at hipsterplease.com

10 Cool Websites We Recommend

Ploomy posted an article which was just Dugg. Guess what the first one listed is? Our favorite The Sixty One!

Thesixtyone makes music discovery fun again. You’ll like it because it’s like a safari for music junkies. Get rewarded for discovering new music and having discerning tastes. Don’t blame us if you stay up late looking for that one track that helps you level up. Oh yeah, they also have of one the best UI experiences of all the music sites we’ve been too.

It's a great article and also mentions Hulu.com, which is a favorite of mine. I highly recommend Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Get to Know a Fellow 61'er: Tokyosexwhale

  • Your 61 Listerner ID: Tokyosexwhale
  • Current Favorite Artist: Always a toughie, but right now it's gotta be Red Abbott (thanks t61!) and Crystal Castles. That being said I can never go too long without listening to some Zepplin or Massive Attack.
  • Artist you most wish would upload music: Any of the above listed. Also JJ Grey, DJ Shadow, Hot Chip, The Escape Frame, and GoodBooks. Oh wait, the question only asked for one. Well pretend this is 'Choose Your Own Adventure' and just go with the one you like! Oops you picked wrong, you got eaten by a wolf. Go back to question 3 and start again.
  • Your musical guilty pleasure: Englebert Humperdink, of course.
  • How did you hear of The Sixty One? I'd like to think I was brought here by a higher power. Like God......or the Fonz. Thank you Fonz, for the wonderful bounty you have bestowed upon me.
  • How much less productive are you since you've joined? Can you hold on? I've got to go check the Playlist of Democracy. I'll get back to you on this...........sometime...........probably never.
  • What is the biggest change you'd make to The Sixty One? I'd like to change the way first bumps work. It just seems too easy to browse for songs with a maxbump of 0. I know the site is all about discovering good music but I wish it would be more specific. Like I'd have to check the Electronica section to see if there was anything new uploaded there or check for individual artists. I think that as more and more users join, the fight to be the first bumper might get out of hand. Of course, I'm just griping because I'll never be able to keep up with the likes of SNYpod or iyzie.
  • Who is the listener you'd most like to meet in person? For the sake of easy travel, I'd have to go with mattynabib or eatabagel. Boston FTW. I think we should definitely have some local t61 get togethers though.
  • What do you think of Second Life Avatars for musicians and users? I'll stick with First Life, thank you very much.
  • What sort of stuff would you like to see on this blog? More banner ads. 3 cheers for revenue! Seriously though, I think the blog is a nice complement to the official site, we just need to get more people involved. [I agree! - Batface89]

On the road with d: Maritime

One of my favorite bands that I came across last summer is indie pop rock band Maritime that hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They're currently a quartet though the band formed initially from former members of The Promise Ring (singer/guitarist Davey von Bohlen and drummer Dan Didier) and The Dismemberment Plan (bassist Eric Axelson). The song that drew me in was the first song of theirs I'd ever heard: For Science Fiction.

Maritime - For Science Fiction

From its opening drums and bass riffs to its catchy chorus, I was instantly hooked.

This song is off of Maritime's third album Heresy and the Hotel Choir released this past October. Also on this album is lead single Guns of Navarone, which appeared on the site in February. Maritime's other song on the site, a cover of Hot Chip's Boy from School, is a bonus track only on the Japanese version of the album and it's definitely an interesting play on the original keeping the melody but changing the mood of the song.

The third album actually represents a shift in how the group writes its music; it's the first album that the band actually sat down and wrote together as a band. Original member and bass player Eric Axelson didn't live in the same city as the others so the band had previously primarily worked via demos online. However, Axelson was tired of touring and left the group before the band went on tour after the release of its second album forcing the band to rely on temporary replacements until they made bassist Justin Klug and guitarist/keyboardist Dan Hinz permanent members of the band. This paved the way for the band actually being able to work together on writing the music for the third album from the very beginning. This led to a more cohesive record written in a shorter amount of time.

Below are two songs from the band's second album We, The Vehicles released in 2006.

Maritime - Parade of Punk Rock T-Shirts

Maritime - Tearing Up the Oxygen

Maritime's website
Maritime's MySpace

A Conversation with Trouble in the Wind

Update: July 23, 2008: Trouble in the Wind was formerly known as Cactus Bob. Aki is no longer wth the band and Kyle Merrit who plays electric guitar, melodica, uke, banjo and accordian has replaced him.

Four friends; average knock-about guys, who's lives intermingled at various times come together in an evolution known as The Cactus Bob Band. Their story is told to us by Robby Gira lead singer and songwriter for Cactus Bob and T61's own Ryan Fox; drummer, guitar and backup vocals. Theirs is music with heart; as you will read and hear.

The Band

Robby Gira - lead vocals/12 string and songwriter
Trevor Mulvey - bass and string bass
Ryan Fox - drums/keyboards and back up vocals
Aki Iwata - lead guitar

myktoronto: Cactus Bob had a pretty interesting beginning can you tell us Ryan, about the day you guys decided to form The Cactus Bob Band. Was it a sudden thing?

Ryan: I would say it was pretty sudden. I ran into Trevor in a piano class we had at Miracosta College in San Diego (I wish six year old Ryan had stuck with the piano). We started talking about music and eventually we started jamming. A few weeks later I went up to visit Robby and Aki to hang out and party with them at Cal State Fullerton. We got boozed up, then Robby sang a song with his acoustic. I had no idea that he had started playing guitar. The song didn't have a name at that point but was later named 'All You Need'. The lyrics and melody of the song blew me away. He 'had' me at 'come' which was the first word of the song, haha. Me, Robby and Trevor all jammed a week later. We where together for a year before we added Aki. It was apparent that our sound was missing something; so long time friend, Aki was an easy choice.

myktoronto: So Robby; when did you first know you wanted to be a singer/songwriter? Musical family?

Robby: Well, I used to make up little ditties when I was a little kid that I thought were very clever. I wrote one about my friend Patrick; it went 'Pat's so fat, sat on a cat, couldn't get up again, that's Pat.' And then there was one about Cheezits also. I always thought I would be a writer and so I used to write stories and poems.

myktoronto: .... and the songwriting where does it get it's beginning?

Robby: Years later I met Ryan Fox. He showed me stuff he was doing as did my best friend Parker Tabas. I kind of went with the flow. Eventually I was in a band with the whole Cactus crew called 'The Bums'. We were arguably the greatest one song Iron Maiden cover band ever assembled. I think we actually had two songs even. I was in 'Munch' and 'Saffron James and the Apples' with Parker Tabas and Ryan Fox for many a pubic year. Sometime later I got a guitar and there was no turning back. It was kind of a slow evolution. I also have a sister that is ‘way' into theatre and I have this uncle I've never met who's enjoyed some artistic popularity. His name is Michael Gira.

myktoronto: You play guitar and drums and also study vocal Ryan; which came first?

Ryan: My parents tried to make me play piano when I was six years old. I was no prodigy. I hated it and quit after about a year. Years later I was hanging out at my friend Aki's house and he showed me how to play a drum beat. He had been taking lessons for guitar and drums for about a year I guess. It took about an hour and a half for me to get that drum beat down, which is pathetic. As a drum teacher myself, I've taught 10 year old girls the same drum beat in about 15 minutes. Aki thought I was hopeless, but as a 13 year old kid, it just felt right to make a lot of noise and hit something; so I got some lessons. I started playing guitar at 15

myktoronto: Was there a specific influence that kept you interested in music?

Ryan: As far as singing goes; I just always wanted to sing like Bruce Dickenson from Iron Maiden. I still do.That's way I'm a classical voice major at Cal State Fullerton.

myktoronto: There's a haunted quality to your songs. I guess the best example I can think of is 'Blackened Oak' Since the days of 'I Can't Help But Think' (the song that established the band) you've had a definitive style. When did that 'sound' come to you and how?

Robby: Oh man ... well I always wrote a lot of sad songs. I think maybe because people I read or listened to did that. I was probably depressed a little too. I tried and still try to write songs with a little bit of pop sensibility in them, as well as a lot of effort in lyrical and melodic tones. I guess the specific sound came to me when I was figuring out how to play guitar and it just became my way of venting and expressing my emotions. Every once in a while, when I get into a happy mood, it will turn in to a workable song. As for the haunted quality? I guess I always just want to sing it so that people know that I really mean what I'm saying. The songs really mean a lot to me.

myktoronto: Who has influenced your music the most?

Robby: My influences are definitely David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Neva Dinova, Willie Nelson and soooo much other stuff. I started writing songs with a folky or country tint to them pretty much cuz I couldn't play anything else and then I really started to like that style. Once the rest of the band came together we all liked it to so we just kept going. It was the shit!

myktoronto: In your personal music collection, what three albums/songs, have you listened to the most over the years?

Robby: Oh jeez. the new Neva Dinova record is so epic it almost never leaves my player, um David Bowie's album 'Lodger', and... oh man this is tough; 'When the Man Comes Around' by Johnny Cash is awesome too.

myktoronto: There's an undertone to your lyrics that conveys, it seems to me, a yearning for decency and consideration that is lacking in the sort of "me generation" lives many people experience today. Is that an intended message or I am I just way off base?

Robby: No I think you're right on base there. I get bummed out about the way people act sometimes, as well as the way I act sometimes. So I put my frustration into songs I think. I wish people were more honest with each other. I feel like honesty is becoming something like a forgotten language these days.

myktoronto: You were telling me Ryan, that you study classical voice and Aki studies classical guitar at Cal State Fullerton, Robby spent most of his life immersed in writing and music and Trevor has a diverse background of study in several music genre. Are there times when you guys find that your classical and formal instruction tempt you to complicate the bands open and simple and sound?

Ryan: We don't go for simplicity when we put the songs together. Rather; we all try figure out the best way to get Robby's message across. What I've learned from studying music is that sometimes people try to do too much musically without knowing why they are doing it. We try to use a classical technique called "word painting" which just means that the music sounds like what the lyrics are saying. A good example of this is our song Mr. Whiskey; before we wrote the rest of the music we came up with the theme of a train, which fit Robby's chorus perfectly: "you make the world, and I will make this train, you make mistakes, and I'm to blame'. After the theme was established we thought of everything we could possibly do as a band to make the song sound like a train.

Word painting is used a bunch of studio recordings that you listen too. Another example is 'I Fought the Law' by the Clash. When Strummer says 'robbing people with a six gun' the drummer does two triplets on the snare drum to make it sound like six-gun shots.

myktoronto: I think one of, if not my favorite Cactus Bob song is "Sweet Lilly Insane". Is Lilly an alias for an actual person in your life Robby? If so; can we find her in other Cactus Bob songs s well?

Robby: Lilly is based on a person I met; but then she became a character for other songs. I only met her once really. She was pretty interesting. So sometimes I use that name in songs. I also think its a pretty cool name. I see her at school sometimes. I saw her in a play once and she had a Russian accent and I was like, "whoa hot Russian chick." I really couldn't tell if she was Russian or not. Then I saw her at this party. It was a "Hoes and CEO's" party. I didn't have any business attire so I was like "shit" and I drew a bow-tie on a white shirt, threw on some sweatpants and shades and was a huge hit. I kind of got a lap dance too. I saw that the Lilly girl was there and I just tried to romance her. Eventually this huge fight occurred and everyone had to run away from the cops so I went home and wrote a drunken romance tune; in my bathroom.

myktoronto: - One question that begs to be asked; does the movie Doctor Strangelove have anything to do with the idea of "loving the bomb" in the song "To Love The Bomb?

Robby: Good question. Well, I thought it was a really cool quote in the movie where it was like: "eventually I learned to love the bomb." or whatever. So I took that and threw it in the mix of writing about a decaying relationship and crumbling empire. I had just finished watching this documentary on Robert Crumb. His brother meditated on a bed of nails to fight the urge to molest women... and I was like, "whoa dang!" so I threw that in there as well. Also written in a bathroom.

myktoronto: Do you have any projects in the works at the moment? A CD or maybe some new material coming our way?

Ryan: Yeah we're recording a few songs at Miracosta College right now. We plan on recording a lot this summer and making a high quality CD which will consist of our best recordings. This will be our first official CD release . We'll make studio versions of many of the songs on the 61. The reason we haven't done this before is that we didn't have scratch or the free recordings at Miracosta (Thanks Kyle!). When this CD is done, we will then shop it around to record labels and others in the industry.

myktoronto: Has the 61 given you a better view of your band. Has the feedback been constructive?

Ryan: Yeah we really had no clue what songs people favored most, until the sixty one. That reminds me that we have to add our song "San Diego" to our two upcoming gigs at the San Diego County Fair.

I admit I'm a big fan of The Cactus Bob Band; but it's not just the music. There's an aura of honesty and a sense of having great fun that these guys put across in a heartfelt way. Grab a brew or two and a big comfy chair, sit way back and experience the world of Cactus Bob.

Thanks for your music guys and sharing your thoughts with us...and Robby; one day that bathroom might be famous; but not in an Elvis sort of way. I hope.

Catch Cactus Bob on MySpace too!

A Conversation with the VFX Guys from the New Flight of the Conchords' Video, Ladies of the World

I work for a company that sells and distributes animaton software and plug-ins. I handle a lot of the marketing and one great way of bringing in traffic is to interview visual effects artists. This is an interview I just did for Toolfarm and I thought you all might enjoy it. I know you have lots of love for Flight of the Conchords. I do!

Brandon Parvini, Partner of Ghost Town Media and the lead colorist / compositor, and David Torno, Visual Effects and Motion Graphics Artist talk with Michele Yamazaki (aka Batface89) from Toolfarm about work on the most recent Flight of The Conchords video, Ladies of the World.

First the video.

Michele: : Thank you so much for talking with me today. This looks like a seriously fun project. How did you get hooked up with the job and Nima Nourizadeh / Partizan, the directors? Have you done many other music videos?

Brandon: We have a really good relationship with Partizan Entertainment. We essentially got our start with their director Ace Norton and from there began working with a slew of their other directors including Neon, Alma Har'el, and Cat Solen. We try to serve as tech support for them when they get some of these more complicated projects, when the Conchords video came up, we sprang at the opportunity to help them out and had been a fan of Nima's work for some time.

Michele: The job involved tracking the stunt double's heads with the singer's heads. I noticed tracking dots on the stunt double's cheeks, nose and chin in your photos.  Jemaine and Bret  were shot against a greenscreen and with a green cape.   How did you get it to match?  Can you talk a bit about the process of tracking and rotoscoping and matching angles? 

Dave: This was a very tedious process that had to planned out for the entire video factoring in the limitations we were facing. We had placed tape on the doubles faces for reference as to how their heads rotated and twisted. We made sure to keep our doubles aware of what was happening in each shot, but allowing them room to perform their stunts.

Dave: Some of the takes were really wild and crazy and we would have to come in and tone down the movement a little to make sure we were going to able to recreate the same move on the greenscreen with Bret and Jemaine. The most difficult part was getting Bret and Jemaine to match these moves and be able to maintain lip-sync. On set (greenscreen) we would run each guy through individually and have them watch a monitor playing back the footage from the shoot. This footage was played back, mirrored in some cases, and slowed down to 50%. This gave the guys a chance to lip sync and get the head movements down. It was a lot of practice takes before rolling the camera. Many times Brandon was physically holding the guys as they performed so we could get the head angle just right. We tried using the green cloth as much as possible to limit the amount of roto we would have to do in post, but in some cases it was helpful to have the shirt collar show so we could fit them on the body better.


Michele: I know you used Imagineer Mocha but switched back and forth with Silhouette FX tracker and possibly something else. Why did you need to use so many tools?

Dave: The tracking process was a mixed breed. For most of the work we were able to use Silhouette to track the greenscreen shots, usually tracking the nose area or glasses in Jemaine's case and stabilize it. Then the doubles faces were tracked with Mocha to get the the rotation and scale values for the original movement. Both plates were then assembled in After Effects and tweaked as needed to make the composite believable.


Dave: Each shot presented it's own challenge of tracking or color and had to be rethought every step of the way. There were a few times where there was a need to take two individual track point solutions from Silhouette and copy them into the After Effects tracker module and then apply rotation and scale solves from there. We just found the single point tracker there stronger than AE's (tracker) for the shots we had. There was one funny moment where we had a beautiful track on one shot but accidentally had the wrong greenscreen take in place and Bret's head started turning in a very uncomfortable direction, almost poltergeist style.

ae timeline

Michele: I saw tons of production shots on David's MySpace. At the shoot, did you have input on the shots because of how you would need to work with them in post? I imagine you would, having to match angles in post.

Dave/Brandon Most of those photos were taken during practice runs and setups. When on set we tend to already have a really good relationship with our director and in turn play a sort of wingman to them. We're all about the collaborative process, especially when on set, when time is tight, and it just has to be right. At times we may not be the most popular guys, as a performance can be awesome but turns out that the technical aspects of it weren't just right. Figure most of the people who don't know who we are onset just figure we're just some jerks from the label.

Michele: Ha ha, that I'd love to see! How about the color correction process?

Brandon: To say it was tough would be a bit of an understatement. Andrew Shulkind, DP for the video, and his team worked so hard to get he lighting angles to match the original shots, but in the end there was simply no way to get the perfect lighting match of a late spring day in Venice (California) with 30-mph winds inside our lil greenscreen stage in the middle of Sun Valley.

My emphasis was in blending the use of Red Giant Key Correct Pro's Color Matcher and Magic Bullet Looks Builder's 3 way Color Corrector and Colorista, to bring the values back in. On top of that i have an adapted film look from Photoshop that I put over all of the footage to help bring everything in there. Nothing like a nice coating of shellac to make footage sing.

Michele: He he. The video has a sort of yellowish 70's look to it. How did you attain this look? Was Magic Bullet Looks used?

Brandon: Magic Bullet was definitely used. We really swear by the software (though we wish there was a timeline in it... hint, hint). But in all honesty, the package has revolutionized how we color correct here. In terms of the exact method we used, suffice  it to say  that we never use just one plug-in  to really do anything. Think of it as painting,  a lot of very subtle layers can make some really elegant images.

Michele: I hear ya. You should see my arsenal of plug-ins. Can you talk a bit about the workflow of your team? How many people were on the team? What else was involved in post production, that we might not be able to see?

Dave/Brandon Once we got the edit, we essentially split ourselves up, tracking and grabbing the best selects from our second day of shooting. Once we had that in-hand, we began to pair up the footage components. Once most every one had at least been assembled and linked up, we then began the process of all the OTHER effects, including the construction of the camera whips, the roto and compositing of the girls during the RV scene, and some of the other little shots like making the forced perspective wheel spin. From there it was all a matter of the fine details and lots of retiming. Of course, at the end we did our final color correction and crossed our fingers for a good response once we sent this out the door.

Oh, by the way all the post was done by 2 people, yes you read that right 2 people...

Michele: Wow. Unbelievable. Were there any big problems you had to solve during post-production? 

Dave/Brandon Yes.  The first obstacle was how do make a video using similar techniques of a movie like 'Little Man' but with something comparable to one week of their catering budget. We had to be really crafty and come up with some good solutions, plus figuring out what to do when our compromises didn't fly. We walked into this planning for 5 shots, by the time we were given the edit we were looking at 25 shots, not including some of the other VFX scenes that sprang up. It's just kind of the nature of the beast, but still it was definitely a very sticky situation initially. There were lots of little headaches like keeping the guy's lip-sync throughout the videos and fighting mother-nature. For the RV scene we wound up with 4 different plates to put together, but because it was shot at dusk we had 4 totally different lighting and backdrop looks.

Michele: Are there any good tips for our readers?

Dave/Brandon Be persistent, invest in Red Bull and always be ready for the work around. Most of the time the shot won't be exactly as you had hoped or asked to be, but if you can reinvent your process, a lot of the time it will end up being better than you had hoped. Ingenuity is key. We kind of see ourselves as an engineer group with aesthetics, its the only way we could have done what we have thus far.

Michele: The video on You-Tube has a big black border around it. Is the final video still being tweaked?

Brandon: Sigh... no. its a 4:3 aspect ratio thing. Directorial Choice to reinforce the 70's feel and further separate itself from the modern footage at the beginning and the end.

Michele: Were Jemaine and Bret a total riot on the set? I'd imagine so!

Brandon: There actually quite RUDE....that's a horrible lie. They were awesome to deal with . Jemaine was such a champ. Even as he's sitting on a 105 degree greenscreen stage in a 70's polyester get-up and I'm spinning him round and round in chair to match the overhead shot. For some reason Jemaine really got stuck with some rough requests for the greenscreen stage, we really felt bad by the end of the day. All in all though its great to work with people who you can see actually appreciate everyone and their efforts. We knew they were good guys when in the morning of the first day there was a really insecure girl who recognized them from the show. She was in from out of town and her dad ended up bringing her up the guys to get a picture, rather than saying they were busy, they happily snapped the shot and what's more began to chat the both of them up. The guys ended up hanging out with the father and daughter for the better part of the morning. Though we still are waiting for our autographs from them ;)

Dave: I really had a great time working with them. They are so talented and always throwing in a few bits of improve into the performance that really had us cracking up on set. Even a few times Bret broke down laughing at the silliness that he was creating during a take. A good example of that is a YouTube video I posted from the greenscreen shoot.

Both Guys Improving the Scene

Bret looses it half way and pulls Jemaine in to do something.

Michele: What is next for you both?

Brandon: FOTC has seemed to be the initial starting gun for the summer season that's going to be a busy for us. We're right now hard at work on one of Partizan's next videos for MGMT directed by Ray Tintori who directed their last video. Should be fun!

Michele: I love MGMT. Time to Pretend is my current favorite song and that video is really trippy!

Brandon: Also we hard working on two other videos for one our favorite directors Josh Forbes, one for Laura Bryna and Alkaline Trio. Both are really vfx heavy so we're going round the clock these days, but both should be really great to watch when done. The boy is just a video landing  monster, and we love him for it. As always we have a bunch of other items floating around, but again it looks like we'll have plenty more vfx to do this summer.

Dave: In addition to working with Brandon on the above projects, I am also currently heading up the vfx on The Heaven Project, Paul Walker's new film and I have another feature that I will be supervising vfx for that goes into pre-production in June.

Michele: Wow, you are VERY busy. Have a great summer and thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.

A Conversation with CJizzle


If you've been at The Sixty One any length of time, you're surely acquainted with the unvarnished hip hop stylings of CJizzle. CJizzle has been at the top of some of those lists, but takes it all in stride and really doesn't give a crap if you don't like his music. Meet the man behind the hand, CJizzle.

Batface89: You have a song titled 'Who are you?'... Good question. Who are you? Who is CJizzle?

CJizzle: My name is Charles Julian Altendorf, I go by CJ and of course my rap name is CJizzle. I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin I but have lived all over the United States including 1 year in Illinois, 6 years in wisconsin, 7 years in Raleigh, NC and four years in Florence, Kentucky (it's by cincinnati). As you can tell by my last name I have heavy german decent but I am 7 generations removed from germany. I miss wisconsin almost every day and have many times tried to figure out a way to move back there. I love the food the people and just the philosophy of life their (and I am a HUGE Green Bay Packers fan). My favorite sport is football, I played it all four years of high school despite never becoming a starter. I also am a very independent thinker when it comes to politics, so don't catch me on a bad day if you think very conventionally about them. There is more to know about me but that is pretty much all I feel like typing.

Batface89: I listened closely to your lyrics at The Sixty One yesterday. Myktoronoto said: If someone took all of CJizzle's lyrics they could do a 2008 version of the movie 'Kids'. He writes like he thinks and the scary part is a lot of kids I hear and I talk to think like him. Please talk about your song writing process and your inspiration for your lyrics.

CJizzle: All of my songs have a simply rhyming pattern (in case that isn't obvious enough) and I try to make each verse near the same number of lines but not quite. As for my inspiration, well most of my songs are based on life experiences and how I feel about them. For example, the first song I made that people in my high school liked was titled 'Homecoming King Can't Be No Rapper' and it was about how I felt gibbed because I was nominated for homecoming court sophomore year and I didn't win despite the fact 2/3 of my class said they voted for me. My friends and I think it was because my high school administration didn't like me. Another to keep in mind about my music most of the time I try to make my music not completely serious because I feel like too much music today is too serious and depressing.

Batface89: Totally. On the song 'Now and Forever' you mention that people on the internet say your music sucks, and yet, you've almost developed quite a following on T61. Are you the William Hung of Hip Hop? How do you handle people dissing your music? How would you like people to react to your music?

CJizzle: I wrote the song 'Now and Forever' before I even heard about T61, in reference to the small majority of my high school and people on myspace that were dissing my music. As for being the william hung of hip hop, if I were so, I would be rich, wouldn't I? Didn't he make like a million dollars? I take criticism in stride on my good days, on my bad days I blow up and write angry songs.

Batface89: Speaking of 'Now and Forever', the beat on the drum machine really stands out. Can you talk a bit about the equipment that you use and do you do all of the sequences yourself? How do you record?

CJizzle: I bought this software from Staples called Cakewalk Music Creator 2. With the software came short recordings of many percussion instruments and different guitar notes. I take these sounds and I mix them together and copy them over and over again to make a beat, music creator makes it really easy. As for recording, when i originally started I had a piece of shit $10 microphone that was taped up because it was broken. After finishing my first two albums Life At Boone County High (part 1) and Life At Boone County High (part 2), my uncle bought me a fancy German microphone for Christmas and I have a fancy stand for it so that is what I've used ever since.

Batface89: Fancy German Microphone - now that's a great name for a band. The name CJizzle - I was reading on Myktoronto's wall that your name comes from a disease you have. Can you talk a bit about your name?

CJizzle: CJizzle as a name is a way of getting back at those who tormented me. Freshman year of high school some of my classmates (one of which I still have great disdain for) found out about my issues with having an overactive bladder (having an accident every once in a while) and picked on me because I was a virgin and had no girlfriend by saying I that masterbated a lot. So the called me CJizz... well I added an le and rolled with it and it turned out to be a mysterious and thought-provoking rap name.

Batface89: Hehe, I agree. Getting Jacked? What exactly does that mean? Does it come from a true life experience?

CJizzle: Getting Jacked is when a guy puts a lot of money into a relationship with a girl and she doesn't commit to him fully or is being very slow with it. While the song is stretching it a bit, I kind of had that situation happen to me a lot. The song was also written not long after Kanye West's 'Gold Digger' came out.

Batface89: Why the blurry photo with your hand in front of it for your profile pic? It's almost like you don't want people to know who you are... like KISS in their make-up days.

CJizzle: There is no hidden meaning behind the blurry profile photo. I had a shitty digital camera and made that picture for an english class because I thought it would be funny and i had no good pictures on my computer. I do have clear pictures now.

Batface89: Comradeinarms has a question for you: If the anti-Christ shall appear with 'a mouth speaking great things', antithetically, does that mean you are the True Christ?


Batface89: Ha ha. You're going to hell now :-). What is the most misunderstood thing about your music and you as an artist?

CJizzle: The most misunderstood thing about my music is it's not easy to do what I do. I'm making satire in a way. I'm not trying to be totally serious and I'm not trying to be completely bad and few people who've tried can do it.

Batface89: I'm not a musician but I can imagine it would be tough. So, you're in college. What are you studying?

CJizzle: Currently my University of Kentucky paperwork says I'm studying Civil Engineering. However, I'm debating doing something else with my life because I don't enjoy the way college is set up.

Batface89: What is next for CJizzle?

CJizzle: I really don't know, I have a lot to decide before I have a plan with my life.

Batface89: Well, good luck with college and your music career. Thank you for taking the time for the interview!

RoseMary III at Dillenbecks, May 10, 2008

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RoseMary III is a group of über-talented teenagers from Ada, MI. I walked into Dillenbeck's just after they went on and the place was packed with energetic high school kids, parents snapping pictures and a few wiggly siblings. I squeezed my way into a seat fairly close to the front and was blown away by these talented musicians.

RoseMary III is led by the short but charismatic Wilson Cusack, age 14. Cusack's song writing skills are really damn impressive for a kid so young. I remember the crappy poetry I wrote at that age. Cusack's lyrics are deep and heartfelt. His vocals are emotive, but at times a bit flat. Cusack played guitar and organ during the show. He has some mad skills on the piano. This kid has got a future.

What most impresses me about Cusack is his comfort performing in front of such a large group of people. For being such a small guy, he has a great stage presence and was able to crack jokes and keep thing running smoothly.

One of the best parts of the show was when Cusack wished his mom a happy Mother's Day and made up a song on the spot for her. It went something like "Tomorrow is Mother's Day. Thanks for driving me to band practice and gigs." Haha.

Nick Rolls is the violinist and the violin is what really sets this group apart from other bands. He plays that fiddle hard. He shredded his bow by the end of the show.

Drake plays the drums and he really had some interesting rhythms that he was tapping out on the drums. The new guy... I don't recall his name.... was it Andy?... is the bass player, who joined the band three weeks ago. Both Drake and Bass boy kept it low key at the show.

Cusack explained that the band name came from a long conversation about what they should name the band. Rolls' violin was called RoseMary and they stole the name. There were three in the band, now four, but they're keeping the name. They had t-shirts at the show with a big III with RoseMary written across the center in a font that looks suspiciously like Crackhouse. It totally looks like a horror movie logo.

The band plays really well together, especially Cusack and Rolls who seem to play off each other. The band did a great job of transitioning between songs (much better than Kanye did when I saw him!) and everyone sounded really good. Check out this clip from the show that I shot on my digital camera and then had some fun with to disguise my lack of tripod. It was the final song of the night and is called The People Around Us. Cusack mentions that no one seems to like this song. I admit, it was my favorite of the night.

RoseMary III is now available for download at ITunes. You'll have to search for it though because I'm still trying to figure out this link thing with iTunes!

On the road with d: Matthew Ryan

I was reminded of Matthew Ryan earlier this week when I got my contest prize. See, One Little Indian Records who sent us our prizes also is the label that Matthew Ryan is currently signed to in the UK and honestly, I would have loved to have gotten something of Matthew Ryan's as an extra.

Matthew Ryan's a singer-songwriter from Nashville who has been making albums for just over a decade now. He released his first album May Day in 1997. Last month, he released his eleventh album Matthew Ryan vs. The Silver State.

Two of Matthew Ryan's songs appeared on the site in March. These were both from his tenth album From a Late Night High Rise released in 2006. The songs came together at a time in his life right around when two pivotal events occurred: a close friend died of cancer and his brother was sentenced to a 30 year prison term. Ryan's said that he wanted this album to sound like sorrow; "'High Rise' is about all the thoughts that haunt you when you lose someone and you realize that there will never be enough time." His music on this album is actually markedly different from much of his previous work with a more electronic sound and more use of synth.

His eleventh album Matthew Ryan vs. The Silver State in many ways represents him recovering. The music moves back out of the electronic phase of his last album back towards a more roots-oriented flavor, but again he produces music that examines emotions in moving ways. Below are two songs from this album as well as one from his 2003 album Regret Over the Wires.

Matthew Ryan - Meet Me by the River

Matthew Ryan - Jane, I Still Feel the Same

Matthew Ryan - Return to Me

Matthew Ryan's website
Matthew Ryan's MySpace

AnnieB's Detour: Luisa Maita

While thesixtyone appears to be more geared toward indie rock, every so often we get a refreshing addition to the site. If you like CéU, you should definitely like the sounds of Luisa Maita, another native of the Brazilian São Paolo music scene. Modernizing traditional Brazilian music, she delivers a variety of samba, jazz, afrobeat, and soul, creating an eclectic sound that makes for easy listening.

Just in case you were unaware, she actually debuted on thesixtyone months ago with this track below. Took a while for it to take off from what I remember since some listeners told me it wasn’t there cup of tea at the moment, so I’m really glad she received a better reception this time around.

Lastly, she has also been featured on Musica de Bolsa, which is like Brazil’s equivalent to La Blogotheque’s Take Away Shows.

Sidenote: Once again, I highly recommend Aurgasm, a music blog that deviates from reporting the usual rock form and focuses on presenting a variety of other musical styles such as downtempo, folk, nu jazz, chanson, scandinavian, jazz, cuban, brazilian, electro, soul, jump blues, bluegrass, film score, and electronica.

A Conversation With Dicky Moore

dicky moore

Dicky Moore, English singer/songwriter/guitarist, chatted with me last week. Moore formed the band Scintillate in 1994, who disbanded in 2005, and is currently playing with Scritti Polliti. He is also working on a solo album.

Batface89: Dicky, thank you for talking with me today. The second I heard your music on The Sixty One I was waiting that first second to bump it! Your musical style have a very upbeat, layered, complex, lush feel to them. They make me happy, yet they are not at all sacchariney. How would you describe your sound?

Dicky Moore: Thanks for that very flattering description. I try to be as positive as I can, both in my life and my artistic ende vours, so I'm glad that this comes through in my music. I've tempered the complexity of the music I've made in the past as I've worried about excluding potential listeners, but recently I've been making the music I want to make rather than worrying about what people want to hear, and ironically this seems be more successful in achieving the effect I formerly craved.

Batface89: Your first solo album is coming out soon. On The Sixty One, your Albums area say "Forthcoming Dicky Moo album". What is it called?

Dicky Moore: I haven't decided on the title yet, but the working title is "Transhumanism and the Omega Point". I had the album finished a couple of weeks ago, with 11 tracks, but have now decided to ditch half of them! So expect an astonishingly well refined album in... a few years ;-)

Batface89: I was reading on your website that the album holds a theme of escapism. Can you elaborate on that, and can you talk about your song writing process?

Dicky Moore: When listening to the E.P. released last year I realized that a theme of escapism running through it, ranging through dreams of spiritual liberation, escape from pop-song protocols, freedom by exclusion (on a desert island) and the fantastical story of future revolutionaries colonising a new galaxy. I am constantly trying to find new ways of writing songs, but find the best songs come to me deep from the subconscious, which I can then decorate using conscious processes. The Omega Point, for example came to me in a dream. I then imposed a Bach-style 4 part harmony on the chorus, which was a more conscious and mathematical development.

Batface89: How did you record the album?

Dicky Moore: I've got a very humble studio setup in my flat in Dalston, London, running Pro-Tools on my laptop, and arranging using Finale. I absolutely love the editing and mixing process. Once I've got the sounds in the box - that's when the magic begins.

Batface89: Speaking of magic, we exchanged a couple of emails about consciousness and lucid dreaming (and thank you for that very interesting information). I interviewed a musician/videographer a while back who has synesthesia, where different notes would appear to him as different colors. Do you ever involve your other senses in the process of creating your music? Have you given any thoughts about how you would interpret your songs visually (e.g., for a video)?

Dicky Moore: Hmmm - that's a really good question. When composing, I try to feel the music rather than think the music, but I'm not sure if that is specifically using senses other than hearing. I have to be cautious of using my eyes too much when post-recording - something might "look" out of tune but sound great! I'm hoping to make a video for 'The Omega Point' soon, and am keen on making videos that compliment the music rather than detract from it like the censored version of the Cardigans' "My Favourite Game" and "Last Nite" by the Strokes.

Batface89: Can you talk a bit about your musical history? How old were you when you started playing guitar and singing? Do you have formal musical training?

Dicky Moore: I grew up having access to different musical instruments, but didn't start playing guitar until I was 14. I taught myself some chords from books friends of my family had given me, but my Mum took me to a guitar tutor to tame my strumming. I then studied A-level music at sixth-form college, which I found fascinating, although I went off the rails a bit before I could complete the course.

Batface89: I'm glad you came back to it. You are currently playing guitar with Scritti Politti. How is it playing with Scritti Politti, who have reformed after more than 20 years? Is Green Garside, singer-songwriter the only original member? How did you get hooked up with Scritti Politti?

Dicky Moore: Green Gartside is Scritti Politti, and I'm incredibly lucky and honoured to be playing guitar for him on his live performances. We knew each other from our local pub, and I was drinking in the pub when he was recruiting his live band. I was very lucky, really.

Batface89: Right place, right time! The Scritti Politti album 'White Bread, Black Beer' got an 8.1 rating at Pitchfork, and was also nominated for the Mercury Prize awards. Congratulations. I fully agree. The album is beautiful and I love the layering of vocals. Can you talk about recording the album? What have you learned from working with Green Gartside?

Dicky Moore: I don't have anything to do with Scritti's studio recordings, as Green plays everything himself, but I deeply learned and loved the songs on that album and it was an absolute pleasure touring it. I've learned a lot about the music industry from playing with Scritti Politti, and have learned a lot from Green Gartside as a musician, songwriter and person.

Batface89: I can imagine. 'The Perfect Way' by Scritti Politti was a big hit when I was a tween. I never thought the lyrics were deep back then but listening to it now, I listen with a whole new set of ears. I remember borrowing the record from the library. Finding new music was much more difficult back then - I either had to dig through the shelves at the local independent music store, or see what the library had to offer. The Sixty One is made music discovery so easy for me. What has your experience been like with The Sixty One so far as an artist and as a listener? How do you think the musical landscape will change with artist and listeners interacting, such as at The Sixty One?

Dicky Moore: Experiencing thesixtyone.com has solidified my opinion that the demise of mass media will liberate many artists, be they poets, musicians or illustrators. I now feel that I can reach a wide audience without needing to be accepted by the broadcasting establishment. Now music will be judged more on its merits than it ever has been since the media age begun. However, it doesn't look like the large record companies are keen on giving their power away voluntarily.

Batface89: I have to say, I like the way the music industry is headed. I've really discovered more new bands thanks to the internet than I ever did by watching MTV or listening to the radio. Do you have any favourites among the bands posting music on The Sixty One?

Dicky Moore: I've discovered some great music on thesixtyone.com, namely FryArs's 'Happy', Steve Heftner's 'Why a Lawyer?', shockingly, both are yet to hit the frontpage, and music by more established artists that I wouldn't have heard of otherwise such as Kaki King.

Batface89: (Both of the songs you mentioned hit the home page right after the interview!) It seems like you are keeping very busy with your solo work and playing with Scritti Politti. Any other exciting news you'd like to share? A US tour perhaps?

Dicky Moore: I would absolutely love to tour the U.S. again! We toured in late 2006 and we made so many fabulous friends on our way and saw wonderful places. We were supported by the multi-talented Jeffrey Lewis band, who I highly recommend to music lovers. Sadly there are no tours planned at the moment, but I'm currently very excited about an environmental campaign led by Friends of the Earth, which is trying to get our government make it law that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced each year, totalling in an 80% reduction of 1990 levels by 2050. The most amazing thing about this campaign is that it just involved normal people talking to their MPs candidly about the fears they had of climate change and the action they thought should be taken. And it worked! The bill is due to go through parliament in the next few months and similar campaigns are now cropping up around Europe! It's completely restored my faith in democracy. It's people power that's gonna save the world!

Batface89: Thanks so much for the interview, Dicky. Best of luck with your solo album and with Scritti Politti.