Category archives: Singer

  • We recently caught up with musician, singer, song writer and visual artist Yoni Wolf to discuss the new album from his band Why?.  Moh Llean will be released on March 3rd, and is the band's first release since 2013's Golden Tickets.What was the band’s motivation/inspiration for the latest album, “Moh Llean” and how is it different than the band’s previous releases?I can't say there is ever a specific motivation or inspiration. We are artists and we are drawn to making art in whatever state-- from whatever space we find ourselves. This one was no different, though of course it ends up with its own feel and identity based on our changes and developments as humans.Is there a particular story you wanted to tell or message you wanted to send with “Moh Llean.”I would say that whatever the album conveys thematically, it does so naturally without pre-conceptions or agenda.  That said, I think it is an attempt at openness in the heart and acceptance and peace.How did the hip hop element of the band’s sound come to be? Are you guys hip hop fans? Classic or modern day hip hop? Or, was it organic?I started out as a rapper. Hip hop is at my roots and core.  I don't think this album is very hip hop though.Tell me about the band’s creative process. Do you work remotely or do you go off to the woods to write together as a group?I wrote most of the stuff myself. My brother Josiah and I produced and arranged the stuff together.  We have a couple musicians-- [...]
  • Montreal based experimental pop/rock band Braids are set to release the follow up to the critically acclaimed album, Deep in the Iris  on May 20th. The four songs for the EP were recorded in August 2015 shortly after the band completed work on Deep in the Iris, but we're surely not talking about B sides here. With Companion, the band continues with a similar minimalist approach musically, but as you listen to the title track which begins by deeply focusing on the beautiful soaring vocals of Standell-Preston, the tension builds as the synthesizer takes a growing, more profound role in the track.  The vocals and music provide a fantastic balance of emotion in the build up, and as the song begins to fade out with a delicate piano, a whispering vocal joins in, "Remember when I pushed you in, you were surprised that you floated." The second track, Joni, takes a more powerful, upbeat approach with its booming, break-beat musical structure. Lyrically, the song addresses dealing with life's uncertainties and the personal challenges that come with it.  On the other hand, Trophies for Paradox gets back to the common topic of relationships and all the complexities that go with it. The music composition is also more complex with added guitar elements in the mix.  Perhaps, my favorite song on the EP is Sweet World.The composition of the track provides a pure energy rush as it unfolds with a driving style not found with the other songs on the EP.  Overall, this is a very strong re[...]
  • At The James Baldwin School in Chelsea, AFP's program is in its 3rd year, offering after school digital audio production, musical instrument instruction and performance coaching. Students range from 9th to 12th grade and come to the program with a variety of individual goals in mind. The sessions vary, and participants usually work individually or in small groups.The class combines a combination of elements which are often going on simultaneously. One group may be learning how to sequence beats to a metronome track on one computer, while another student is involved in the more advanced stages of a fully fleshed out track on the next. At the same time a vocal duo may be working out harmonies to a rock ballad, while others are learning how to build scales and chords on the piano. In all cases, the fundamentals of music making are uncovered and explored. The focus is always on building a working musical vocabulary and developing the ability to use music for self-expression.This year at Baldwin I have seen remarkable progress on every front. Beat-makers have progressed from struggling at playing simple kick and snare patterns, to building complete tracks and having their friends rap over them. Drummers who had never played a drum-set maintain a groove behind a full band. I’m especially impressed with Reshwan and Katana who had never met before. Within a few short months they have  become a powerful cohesive duet act eagerly learning the theory to support their development[...]
  • The AFP crew was inspired and motivated for the road trip up to the great city of Montreal. By the time the Greenpoint (Haven) rooftop event was in the books, it was late Sunday afternoon and Friday morning gave us just enough time to rest up for the 3 day festival.  We mapped out the car ride and the artist performance schedule.  Our Day 1 (Friday) plan was to arrive at Parc Jean-Drapeau by 3:30pm to see Run the Jewels.  After a couple of snags we arrived a little later,  but we did make it on time to see one of our more anticipated performances- The Kills.Sadly, the band had some technical issues on stage, but despite their frustrations they rocked on and ended with a killer rendition of No Wow.  Thirsty from the ride, we found ourselves guzzling Molson's at a rather rapid pace as we strolled over to see Chet Faker on an adjacent stage.  He quickly went into his popular hits like Gold and 1998 with the electric soul vibe that we have been digging.  It was obvious that many festival goers were excited to see the Australian perform, and he didn't disappoint.As we made our way to the main stages (Riviere and Montagne), some of the original sculptures and art installations caught our attention. By the way, Osheaga is not just a music festival, but also an arts festival (heavy on the music).  Some of the work was highly creative (images below) and seriously involved. The participating artists for 2015 were Station 16 Gallery, animators from the NFB, graduates of UQÀM’s D[...]
  • Known as the Super Bowl of Drag, RuPaul's Drag Race, now in its 7th season, will announce this year's winner tonight on LOGO-TV! I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it!Image Credit: Mathu Andersen/LOGO Full disclosure: It's one of my all-time favorite program, and I totally believe it is one of the best shows on TV. And what's wonderful is that I'm not the only one. RuPaul's Drag Race's fans span all social backgrounds and sexual orientations! Sure this year's edition hasn't been the most outstanding season, with mostly lackluster "Lip Syncs For Your Life." it's still great to see the evolution of all of queens, especially the finalists Ginger Minj, Pearl and Violet Chachki.Getty Images for LOGO Here are three fabulous fashion moments as shared to me by Blog Founder, Social Media Strategist Nichelle Stephens, and fellow fan. Like me, she's not quite sure who she's rooting for: "I can't decide but I think I am #TeamViolet," she says.Ginger Minj After last season's Ben de La Creme and Darienne Lake, Ginger Minj seemed like a weak mash-up of the two.  However as the season progressed, you can see that Ginger has Southern charm with campy sensibilities and style.Jason Kempin, Getty Images for Logo TVThe best look for her was runway look on the penultimate episode.  The white gown was gorgeous; her makeup was glamorous with being too much and her wig was teased up into a perfect crown. LOGO-TVViolet ChachkiViolet Chachki is waist traini[...]
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UkrX_ikRUYSunday, May 24th at The Bowery ElectricMemorial Day Weekend we're kicking off the season properly with an incredible line-up of some of NYC's best bands, performers and DJ's on two levels.ROCK, FUNK, HIP HOP, ELECTRONICA, AMERICANADOWNSTAIRS: Live Music: $9 Advance Tickets, $10 at the doorXNY, Soul Khan, Blythe Sword, Bad Faces, Digital Diaspora, Statik VisionUPSTAIRS:  Live Music until 10pm, DJ's til late:  NO COVERMAP ROOM:  Graham Norwood and Amy MilesDJ's: Sameer & Gatto - 10pm til lateHosted by Art for Progress,  Doors: 7pm,  Music: 7:30pm
  • NYC non-profit Art for Progress hosts this special event Wednesday, April 22nd at The Bowery Electric to celebrate Earth Day and to raise awareness. The night will feature an outstanding line up of artists with local pop rockers Wyland headlining the night. The amazing Blythe Gruda will open the show and feature some very special guests followed by a one woman psychedelic rock performance from Brooklyn's Idgy Dean. Indie rockers Polyvox will close out the night with a set of synth driven beats. Tickets are $10 and include the chance to win amazing door prizes from Gibson Guitars and tickets to The Museum of Natural History.
  • The greatest reward a teacher can receive from his students is that they exceed his expectations and do work that is inspired, inspiring, and truly reverses the student/teacher dynamic by teaching the teacher something new. I am exceptionally fortunate to have had that experience many times over as a teaching artist for Art for Progress. Two examples that stand out in my mind are: the band Statik Vision and Humanities Prep junior and chanteuse April T.The members of Statik Vision have been studying with me for almost four years, beginning while I was at Bronxdale High in the Bronx. When I left Bronxdale and came to Humanities Prep in Chelsea, it was important to me and to AFP to continue to provide opportunities for learning to former AFP program participants who wanted to further develop their musical education. Jason McFarlane and Ramond Moreta were students in the same building as Bronxdale (Christopher Columbus HS Campus) who gravitated to the Bronxdale after school program when principal John Chase asked that the program be made open to the entire campus. Upon setting up shop at Humanities Prep the following year, I invited them and a number of other former AFP students to make the trek to Manhattan to attend sessions after-after school. They began to come regularly, and to bring friends who were both talented and eager to learn, and formed a band, T-10. I helped coach the band’s rehearsals, while also allotting time to give lessons in guitar and bass technique, jazz[...]
  • I recently had the distinct pleasure of compiling an oral history of the seminal underground New York club Better Days, a ’70s and ’80s contemporary of spots like the Paradise Garage—though Better Days was much smaller and, possibly because of that, less lauded. (You can read that piece in full here, on the Red Bull Music Academy website.) One of the main interviewees for the article was Bruce Forest, an iconic DJ (and later, prolific producer) who was on the Better Days decks throughout most of the ’80s. (In the ’70s, the late, great Tee Scott ran the show.) Forest has a great memory and is a fantastic teller of tales—but, for reasons of space and clarity, some of his best stories had to be omitted from the history. So we figured, why not share a couple of his best ones here?Loleatta Holloway This story concerns how the inimitable disco diva Loleatta Holloway’s between-song patter became one of the most ubiquitous samples in dance music history. It was all Forest’s (accidental) fault.Bruce Forest: “It was not easy to have live performances there. It was a very, very hard room to do live sound in; it was a round room with tons of bass. But we would do it sometimes anyway. Jocelyn Brown probably performed there seven oreight times. And there was Lolleata Holloway. She was one nasty woman when she wanted to be. And she was big; she could have easily kicked the shit out of me. Anyway, when she performs, she does five or six songs, but in between the songs, s[...]
  • Happy New Year from Los Angeles, California! This month, I'll be featuring fashion stories from the "Golden State," kicking it off with 20 year old L.A. songstress, Layne Putnam, otherwise known as LAYNE. Recently, I met Ms. Putnam at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to chat about her three favorite fashion items. I was greatly impressed with her bright spirit and ambition. Raised in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Putnam released her first album entitled Better Than Me at 15. "Growing up in the Black Hills gave me the desire to want to explore and invent,” says Putnam. One of her biggest influences has been her father, Kenny Putnam, a musician who spent many years touring with Roy Clark. There were always instruments around the house, and those seemed to fascinate Putnam more than conventional toys. Unlike most teens, she was playing almost every weekend at different venues throughout South Dakota, and was featured twice on public radio and multiple times in the newspaper. By age 18, she already dropped a second release called Mind Games, and moved to L.A at to pursue her dreams.On January 2nd, LAYNE will release her new EP called Warrior. The young indie-popper has a very clear idea of the album's overall sound: “I want people to see the production we’ve spent so much time creating come to life, and to hear the huge wall of sound---even if there are only two or three players on stage.” You can check it out on iTunes, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud, and her first [...]
  • Strictly Rhythm. Nervous. Emotive. These seminal New York labels, along with a handful of others, evoke a time in the late ’80s and early ’90s when the local variant of house music, one that combined depth, emotion and soul with the raw rhythms that had been coming out of Chicago, took form. But there was one other local label that was equally influential—and it wasn’t even based within the five boroughs. Its name was Movin’ Records, a label (and record shop) led by Abigail Adams and based in East Orange, New Jersey.Between 1987 and 1995, Movin’ released some of the most beloved songs of the era—Phase II’s stone-cold classic “Reachin’" among them—and its lineup of vocalists and producers and included such notables as Kerri Chandler, Kenny Bobien, DJ Pierre, Ce Ce Rogers, Blaze’s Kevin Hedge and Josh Milan, Ace Mungin and Tony Humphries. That last name is key: A symbiotic relationship formed between the club that Humphries deejayed at, Club Zanzibar in nearby Newark, and Movin.' Though they were both just a few miles west of Manhattan, the Movin’-Zanzibar affiliation resulted in a sound with a different feel than what was going down in Gotham, a feel that amped up the gospel- and R&B–tinged passion beyond what the big city had to offer. It’s a style of house generally referred to as the Jersey Sound—and its effects can still be felt on the club music of today. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with the gracious and friendly Adams, her love of the music still shin[...]
  • Art for Progress’ summer music education program has met two more times since my last post, and a lot of great stuff has been going on. We have been exploring jazz theory, analyzing Etta James’ “At Last”, using the solfeggio system to develop ear training, and have delved into some vocal exercises in order to tune up our voices, and to reinforce the ear training work. Participants have each been asked to select a song to work on, and we’ll be applying the new techniques we’ve developed to singing those songs in the upcoming final session. One student, who is originally from Bangladesh, is even working on a song by his favorite Bengali pop band! In addition to all of this subtler harmony work, there’s been some good ol’ rocking out, as well. The group has expanded its original repertoire of rock songs, and has been honing the arrangements to prepare for our final recording session of the summer. We have recorded versions of four original songs thus far, and as we get closer to the perfect take, we have also been studying the various tools used in the recording and mixing process, and learning how to make the tracks pop out of the speakers.“At Last”, by Etta James is a timeless classic, which was revisited a few years ago by Beyonce in the movie “Cadillac Records”. While the melody is arresting and unforgettable in its uniqueness, it also contains some very exemplary chord changes, which are great for illustrating the use of ii-V-I progressions and some other essential jazz[...]