Written by: Julie Morris
Life comes at us fast. Between work, family
Invest in Yourself
Sometimes you need to take a step back from life and do something that you enjoy. A good hobby can become a powerful tool in helping you cope with stress and unwind. As you continue your pursuit, it can lead to learning a unique skill. It can also be a gateway into opening new social connections and increase your confidence.
This is why it is common for those suffering from depression or recovering from addiction to be recommended they take up a hobby. Often hobbies provide a sense of structure in their lives and give a sense of purpose. It is a great way for them to feel like they have control over their lives.
Sketch it Out
Drawing can be an incredibly soothing outlet. For many, it becomes a form of self-expression and a way to unload thoughts that might otherwise be too difficult to form into words. Not to mention, drawing is known to improve motor skills and creative problem solving.
If you are new to drawing, be patient, especially if what is in your head is not translating to the page. Art takes time to master properly. Try taking a class to boost your skills or turn online. There are numerous resources from step by step tutorials to videos that teach you the basic techniques. However, one of the best things about art is that there is no wrong way to do it.
Feel the Beat
Contrary to popular belief, it is never too late to pick up an instrument. In fact, adults may have the advantage over children. They are able to quickly grasp more abstract concepts and are self-motivated to learn.
Setting time aside each day to practice can feel like a large commitment, but it is one that is well worth it. The sense of accomplishment you will feel from finally mastering a song is unrivaled. Not to mention, playing music is great way to sharpen your memory and enhance cognitive thinking. Whether you are picking up an instrument for the first time or renewing a childhood hobby, you can still reap the same benefits music provides to the brain from just a few months of practice according to National Geographic.
Poetry is a great way to loosen and unload your thoughts. It is an amazing form of expression that forces you to become more introspective, which can help heal emotional pain through reflection.
Do not be intimidated by poetry. There is no wrong way to write it. If you want to stick to highly structured poems, you can. If you prefer more freeform and less rules, you can do that too. Creative Writing Now is great resource to help you get started.
Turn Up the Heat
Some of the best hobbies are the ones we share with others. Cooking is a great way to incorporate your friends. You can cook up a delicious meal for them or invite them into the kitchen with you to cook together. This is an excellent opportunity for you to bond and grow closer.
Sharing a meal you’ve made can be immensely satisfying. Cooking your own meals is also a great way for you to eat healthier and save some money, according to the Chicago Tribune. Teaching yourself to shop and prepare your own food will reduce the amount of processed and unhealthy foods you eat.
Protect Your Time
While hobbies are amazing to share with your friends and family, keep in mind that a great hobby is one that you do solely for yourself. You do not want to feel any pressure to satisfy someone else when you sit down to do your hobby. This is why it is so important that you pick something that you’ll love.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.
Shambhala Music Festival returned for its 21st installment held on August 8th-10th 2018 at Salmo River Ranch, British Columbia. Take a photo tour along with Freio Music.
Photos by Lindsay Rebecca Moyer
One of the first sets to kick off the weekend: Frase and his dancers at the Grove Stage
Festival fashion was in high style in B.C. last weekend
The ever smooth and cool Frase rocking the Grove Stage
Art installations scattered around the Grove grounds
Food shaped intertubes ascended on the creek since the high temperature at Salmo River Ranch was 95 degrees fahrenheit
Taking dips and floating around without a care in the world was a common activity for most on Friday
Cairn building in the creek on Shambhala's hottest day.
A hoop goddess spins her skills on stage with Westerly at the Grove stage
Troupes of creative minds like this enlightened the campground crowds with impromptu parades
Meanwhile, some festival goers found balance on the slackline among the giant mushrooms
Wanderers meander through the feilds of sunflowers
Liquid Stranger throws down a banger set on the AMP stage
Dreamers dancing and wishing the sun a good night
JPOD lays down the love at the Living Room Stage
The costumes were well thought out and planned in advance with so much creativity
If you came unprepared for all the costuming, you could visit one of the friendly vendors
The crowd is enamored with Dirt Monkey's heavy hitting Village stage set
Interactive art installations like these light up musical mushrooms were dispersed throughout "Downtown"
J. Kenzo at the Grove stage
The Pagoda stage packed a weekend filled with 3D Projection Mapping on its expansive white canvas of house-like structure that festival veterans say has gotten larger and larger each year
Surreally organic forms dress the Pagoda stage during Claude VonStroke's set
Claude VonStroke lights up the sky during his house set at the Pagoda Stage
The nights were alive with laser light dancing and cutting through the dark nights
Saturday, August 11th, 2018
Lazy Syrup Orchestra serenades the afternoon crowd at the Grove Stage
Kolt. gives his all at the Pagoda Stage
Dancing to your own beat is common at these grounds
Bubbles ignite excitement amongst some entranced passersby
Off-stage aerials occur during Meow Mix's set at the Living Room stage
MeowMix member waves to a friend in the crowd at the Living Room stage
Multi-hoop performances accompany the tunes of Meowmix at the Living Room stage
Melanie Dekker serves up an intimate acoustic set on the AMP stage
The smartest Shambhalans brought bicycles for trekking all around the grounds at Salmo River Ranch
Matt the Alien shows off his signature silly smile during his set at the Pagoda Stage
Everyone was feeling the groove
The Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man got grooving on the dance floor
A beautiful Elf asks for more bass
Meanwhile, the finger puppets come out to play by the wall of PK speakers
Spidey-duder even brought his big spoons to the dance floor
Speaker riders at the Pagoda Stage for Matt the Alien's set
A Shambhalady decked out in her festy best
Village stage get down
Party people show up for some dubstep
Stylust hypnotizes the crowd with his rap infused dubset beats at the Village stage
Festival goers tune in for Stylust's bass in your face set
Partygoers once again show up decked out in wild costumes
Tyler Stadius lit up the night sky at the Living Room stage
Defunk delights during his visual heavy set at the Pagoda stage
Mark Farina's set was one of this photographer's favorite sets of the weekend
The Glitch Mob slays at the Village at midnight ringing in the start of a new day
D Double E raps to the fans at the Grove Stage
The crowds for Adventure Club's Pagoda Stage set were humongous
Adventure Club threw down a banger of a set for the shoulder to shoulder headbanging crowd
Sunday, August 12th, 2018
Brilliant bubbles as big as your body bombarded the early afternoon crowds "Downtown"
The Sonic Portal sent some Shambhaliens into outerspace with it's surround sound gong experience
A Sonic Portal guru creates meditating and undulating vibrations
James, of the Glitter Projects, paints a man's head
The other James of the Glitter Projects buffs out a waiting friend
Not all festival goers went the whole four days without a bath
This totem makes for great shade as well as being easy to spot by the crew
People were Shambhalovin' the bubbles
This pirate skull definitely came back to life for the weekend's big drops
A lovely muse poses in front of the Pagoda stage
Chuurch throws down a heavy sunset set on the Pagoda stage
Some totems were also utilitarian, like this 5 foot bong
Saqi illuminates his fans during his Living Room stage appearance
Dirtwire's unique sound was soaked in by the crowds at the Living Room stage
Dirtwire members play multiple peculiar sounding instruments to create their aural vibes
An interactive sand display enamors a small crowd by the beach at night time
Each movement of the sand causes a topographical change on the map projected below, forming rivers, lakes and lava
Camo & Krooked drop their alluring bass and drum beats to the roaring crowd at the Village Stage
Some speakers riders geek out for the early morning thumps of 29 Palms
A watermelon carting wolfbear jams out to Scottie at the Village stage
Sonic Bloom 2018 Photo Recap
This year at Sonic Bloom the music was on fire as usual. Three main stages running until 2am and one stage running until sun-rise with music until 6am. The workshops begin at 8 am so there is really only two hours of 'off-time' per day all four days of the festival. The music and grooves transitioned seamlessly as different artists plugged in while others finished out their set. The main stage has a 'tween' stage, which if you are not familiar with the term is a small stage right next to the main stage and features short usually under 30min performances while the main stage undergoes a set change. This is the optimal way to transition on a large stage while maintaining the audience's attention and attendance.
With thee stages going simultaneously for 8 hours (with three stages that is actually 24 hours of live performances compressed in time and space within walking distance), which provides an opportunity for more musicians to be heard and benefit from the cross-pollination of musical audiences. The river ran dry but the music and shaded hammocks at the hummingbird stage provided a welcome mid day napping location. There is no shortage of amazing talent and the careful curation of musical acts that preform ensure a high threshold and a healthy diversity while still being true to the festivals electronic roots.
Photos will never capture sound so seek out good listen to new music. Click here to listen to live tracks from Sonic Bloom 2018.
Some more music the official Sonic Bloom Playlist on Spotify:
GROOVE CRUISE CABO ANNOUNCES PHASE II LINEUP FOR 30TH SAIL FEAT. DUKE DUMONT, MK, GREEN VELVET, THE DESERT HEARTS CREW, TWO FRIENDS + MORE!
July 10, 2018 — Hop aboard the original floating dance music festival as Groove Cruise Cabo announces Phase II of their 2018 lineup today. Boarding Norwegian Pearl this October 10-14, 2018 is an array of electronic music legends and up-and-coming acts, primed to deliver the best in house, trance and techno for four incredible days on the high seas. Don’t miss this opportunity to dance, discover, and follow your inner compass to the experience of a lifetime — cruise packages available here.
As Groove Cruise prepares to take its monumental 30th sail, the soundtrack for this year’s cruise will be provided by an amazing roster of 2018 headliners that now include Detroit house music phenom Marc Kinchen (MK), UK house producer and Blasé Boys Club owner Duke Dumont, Chicago house and techno legend Green Velvet, Mikey Lion, Marbs, Porky, and Rybo of the beloved Desert Hearts, Chus & Ceballos plus L.A.-based progressive house duo Two Friends.
These newly added artists will be performing along with previously announced Phase I headliners legendary Italian DJ/producer Benny Benassi, famed Dutch-Filipino DJ and martial artist Laidback Luke, German trance duo Cosmic Gate, Dirtybird Records signee Shiba San and Marques Wyatt, the Los Angeles-based house DJ named “Best DJ” by LA Weekly.
Supporting artists on the lineup include Adam Scott, Anthony Attalla, Baggi, Cocodrills, Felix Cartal, Huxley, Liquid Todd, Omnom, Sage Armstrong, Secondcity, Tim Baresko, Adam Auburn, Adin, Ahlex Diego, Alex Madden, Astley, Bryan Lubliner, Damaged Goods, Dancetronauts, David Delano, Dean Mason, Drums of the Sun, Dsk Chk, Electric Polar Bears, Eva Kane, Goshfather, Grube & Hovsepian, Jeremiah Red, Joe Ghost, John Beaver, Keith Christopher, Kristina Sky, Luccio, Mark Villa, Paul Ahi, Pyrodox, Rizzo Vassalo, Scooter & Lavelle, Scotty Boy, Shmitty, and Tastebreakers.
Departing from San Diego with a final destination of Mexico’s famous port of Cabo San Lucas serves as the premier stop for GCFAM, with a private party at Blue Marlin Ibiza Los Cabos at ME Cabo, one of Mexico’s leading resorts, as a marquee event during the voyage. This beautiful venue offers dramatic views just steps away from the pristine sands of Playa El Médano. Stay for the party or walk to the marina, shops, bars, and restaurants nearby. Transportation and entry to the ME resort is included in the cruise fare but food, beverage and cabanas will be available for purchase.
As on past Groove Cruises, the festival will also feature a stellar series of hosted stages, ensuring that there is more than enough music to keep cruisers dancing ‘til sunrise. On-board, Green Velvet will be hosting a Relief Records stage alongside Chus & Ceballos who will host a Stereo Productions stage, while in Cabo, Duke Dumontalong with some special guests will be hosting one of his beloved Blasé Beach Club events. In addition, captains can look forward to stage takeovers by Basement Leak, Blue Marlin Ibiza Los Cabos, Coldharbour, Deep House Brunch DTLA, Deep LA, Descend, Drai’s Beachclub, Incorrect, Mixmash Records, Officially Addicted, Random Nights, Stereo Productions and We’re Never Going Home.
Last but not least, Groove Cruise Trance Fam will be the first to experience EMBARK: Trance, an oceanic voyage into the heart of Groove Cruise. Featuring John 00 Fleming, Alex Di Stefano, Paul Thomas, Factor B and Monoverse, EMBARK will take captains on an emotive, beautiful journey through sound. More info TBA soon!
Groove Cruise is a logistical marvel, combining the non-stop music and loving community of an electronic music festival with the convenience and amenities of a cruise ship. Taking place on the 2,700-passenger Norwegian Pearl, captains can indulge in its imaginative decor and steampunk-themed nightclub. As if the 96 hours of non-stop music across 9 stages wasn’t enough to entertain attendees, the 12 bars and lounges, 13 restaurants, picturesque pool deck, bowling alley and arcade also provide an endless array of activities to keep cruisers occupied all hours of the day and night. More info surrounding on-board activities and artists activations - Coming soon!
For tickets & more info: Groove Cruise Cabo
About Groove Cruise
What started in 2004 as a group of 125 thrill-seeking house-heads (led by founder Jason Beukema) sailing on a cruise together has erupted into the world’s first and largest floating dance music festival. Groove Cruise is the only music cruise to sail from both East and West coasts, and is a non-stop experience comprised of four straight days of beach, pool and theme parties, great food, EDM and luxurious destination parties. In addition to the standard cruise amenities, there are also artist activities, yoga classes (often paired with deep house), costume parties, and various onboard events that rival the best dance music festivals in the world. Groove Cruise is produced by Whet Travel.
About Whet Travel
Over 12,000 people each year choose Whet Travel for their music cruise adventure. Whet Travel has executed 24 full ship charters including Groove Cruise Miami January 10-14, 2019 (15 year anniversary), Cabo and LA as well as Salsa Cruise (20 year anniversary Oct 29-Nov 2 overnight in Havana Cuba). Whet Travel received the prestigious Charter Partner of the year award from Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines and Inc Magazine ranked Whet Travel as the #4 fastest growing travel company in the USA..
“Combining the luxury and travel of a cruise ship with the pulsating, all-night party of an electronic music festival, it is no wonder that this event sold out so quickly.” -- Huffington Post
“The Groove Cruise is The #1 Place in The World to Get Your Groove.” -- Travel Channel
”Only after attending can one understand the logistical marvel that is Groove Cruise.” -- LA Weekly
“No VIP area or backstage or green room, and it was obvious how it made people feel: free.” -- YourEDM
“Just like most movie sequels and TV reboots, Groove Cruise Miami is floating proof in a monsoon market of spinoff rave boats that nothing ever quite lives up to the original.” -- Billboard
The Freio Music Podcast
Episode 05 - Kevin Donohue of Sunsquabi
The featured artist in this episode of the Freio Music Podcast is Sunsquabi's Kevin Donohue. Listen in as Kevin shares insights into crafting sounds on his guitar and what it feels like to headline at the world famous Red Rocks Amphitheater. He played live at Sonic Bloom 2018 with his solo-project called Casual Commander as well as collaborated with Late Night Radio, Sonic Bloom Orchestra and Maddie O'Neal.
The featured artist in this episode of the Freio Music Podcast is Sunsquabi's Kevin Donohue. Listen in as Kevin shares insights into crafting sounds on his guitar and what it feels like to headline at the world famous Red Rocks Amphitheater. Kevin sheds some light on the effects he uses live and some of the influential people that helped him get to where he is. He played live at Sonic Bloom 2018 with his solo-project called Casual Commander as well as collaborated with Late Night Radio, Sonic Bloom Orchestra and Maddie O'Neal. He is a guitarist who collaborates around the Denver area and has made his way to the top of the industry.
Full Transcription coming soon...
Wow! What a trip... It started out fortuitously but not without some typical last minute "oh, shits", a rushed amazon delivery and the realization of a 20 hour drive to attend. With a co-pilot, a Prius, plenty of snacks and a 4am departure, we made good time all the way Nevada on day one. The second day completed the travel to the fest where we showed up just as the first act was coming on stage. We rushed to get our tent set up and then strolled onto the dance floor.
The festival had three main stages, each decorated with care and finesse. The Knoll stage seemed to be dedicated to a lively variety of genres, and featured some of my favorite sets of the whole fest including 'Diggin Dirt' 'Dirtwire' (no there was not a dirt theme), and Ozomatli. The main stage, aka the Groove Stage, was settled into the forest in a nice natural clearing. The stage was framed with beautifully cut wood circles and shapes that rounded the LED walls into an aesthetic art piece. The Saucy Spa, the late night stage, pumped the music through a quadraphonic sound-system into the sunrise hours. Check out our photos to see the stages in action.
Every stage had great sound quality but two of the three stages had 'Funktion-One' speakers. If you have never heard of Function One's or have heard of it but never experienced music played through a Function One sound system, it rocks, rumbles, and rips through the air with surprising clarity and vibrance. This is the current state of the art speaker system. Enchanted Forest even took the sound quality even further. At the Saucy Spa, the late night stage, four stacks of Funktion-One speakers positioned at every corner of the dance area, all angled to the center of the dance floor. Why is this special or notable? Damn, I am glad you asked! A quadraphonic speaker setup enables artists to shape sounds in a 3D environment and can 'pan' audio to all four speakers (front left, front right, back right, back left).
Below was a brotherly collaboration in an attempt to translate the musical event through photos.
OK so the weekend is fast approaching and you still don’t know what you’re going to do. Here is an 💡:
What about having a blast in California? An enchanted forest with some of the best electronic music acts in the nation. Of course, no festival can lay claim to owing music but it can be said that this festival has some great taste in artists. From Ozomatli to Beats Antique, this festival embraces a diversity of genres and styles while still cultivating each in their own form. The early morning yoga and health classes are a bonus and a welcome refresh after a long night of dancing. This festival has it all. Just a few hours north of San Francisco this event is set in, you guessed it, an Enchanted Forest with natural beauty all around.
Info & Links
Enchanted Forest will take place at the beautiful Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville, California from June 8-10. Featuring performances from Beats Antique, Keys n Krates, Graves, Ozomatli, Dumpstaphunk and Del the Funky Homosapien w/ Amp Live, Lyrics Born, Truth, Mark Farina, Antennae, Sticky Buds, Phutureprimitive and over 100 nationally renowned acts in only three days! Get excited. Get your tickets. Get your groove on. See you there!
Important Enchanted Forest Gathering Links
Buy Tickets link: http://enchantedforestmendo.com/get-tickets/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/EnchantedForestGathering/
2018 Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/398780250544889/
The Freio Music Podcast
Episode 004 - Willdabeast
The featured artist on this episode of the FreioMusic podcast is Willdabeast. I sat down (remotely) with Will Glazier and Dan de Lisle to discuss their musical creation process and much more.
The featured guest this episode is WillDaBeast on the Freio Music Podcast. Listen in as Will Glazier and Dan de Lisle discuss their favorite musical tools, software, and techniques to keep a listener guessing and thoroughly entertained. This duo is a hard-working pair that elevates each other to new highs as they collaborate on tracks a build them by leveraging each other's strengths. They discuss how they went from playing family and corporate Christmas events to being signed to Super Best Record label and touring around playing Red Rocks and festivals around the country with the help of their musical community.
WillDaBeast Interview Transcription:
Conducted by Michael Morahan for the Freio Music Podcast. © Freio Music Podcast 2018
My name is Will Glazier and I play trumpet and do a lot of the production for our group.
My name is Dan de Lisle I do trombone, flute, I play a little bit of keyboards and I am learning a lot about production.
Ya we go by Willdabeast. We are also in a few other bands as well. We are traveling and touring mostly with Michal Menert, Michal Menert Big Band, Michal Menert and the Pretty Fantastics and we have a few other local bands as well, in Bellingham, a reggae band called Yogoman and a funk band called Snug Harbor. Snug Harbor is a band that has been around the longest for us. It was a band that I started when I first moved here in 2007 and Daniel joined quickly after. He is in Yogoman too. We are actually in every band together. So it has been kind of a harmonious relationship ever since.
Where did you meet and how did you come together musically?
It was the WCC, the Wacom community college jazz band, up in the county that we live in. Will was playing first trumpet and I was going there to mess around a little bit. He [Will] was looking for a trombone player to join his funk band. So he invited me out and I bombed the practice. I did terribly! And for some reason he has been playing music with me ever since.
Ya I remember I moved here in 2006 or 2007 from Buffalo New York, where I am from. I started here to go to school. So I had to go to Wacom first for Community College to get my AA to transfer over and blah blah blah. I was playing in their big band, the Jazz band. I remember staring at daniel’s head a lot and he was one of the only competent people in the band. They are a great band now but at that time they were kinda a struggling program. So I gravitated towards him and invited him towards Snug Harbor, which is just a funk homage to New Orleans. I traveled there when I was 15 and got to see a bunch of really good Jazz and Funk which inspired me for the rest of my life really. Brass and horn music and stuff like that. And ya he’s[Daniel] been by my side ever since. I don't know why he has stuck around this far. I have probably cost him lots of opportunities, and money, and jobs, and women, and relationships. But ya, he's here. We’re here and we are doing it still.
Can you discuss yourself as a kid and how you were introduced to music and what inspired you to play?
I got kind of an easy start really. My dad was a flute player growing up. Not a professional one or anything. But he had a nice flute and a couple of beaters lying around. So I got my hands on a flute pretty early. I started messing around on that. I joined band and went through the process that a lot of kids growing up in America do growing up and learning music. And just kinda kept loving it. I guess I always wanted to play music professionally if the opportunity came up and now I am just busting my ass for it.
I was first introduced to music similarly. Through the school systems and such and my parents were both big advocates. My dad met Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix in college when he was at UC Berkeley. Just listening to really good Vinyl growing up. I don't know, it just always caught my ear. I’m kinda good at a lot of things but the one thing I know I am good at is Music. And it has been a struggle to balance everything. I have a family now and all that. Ya for me Music is all I do. We get paid here and there for recordings or parties or different events and recording sessions and stuff. So we do as much traveling and performance and trying to generate income as possible. Daniel has another job as well. But it is what we are trying to pursue. So we are trying to chase it while we still can.
Definitely. I think that is the right approach. You have got to get out there and get discovered
I just wrote an article and it kinda ties into this… touring gives you the opportunity to then sell all of your products that you have already created. Like your stickers or albums. I know you give out some of your music for free but perhaps apparel or things along those lines will boost your revenue while you are touring.
Ya Exactly. We have got a website and lots of merch and stuff. You know artists rely on different ways to generate income. Especially on our level. Unless you are the boss man. Unless you are really big time and playing 300 shows a year at sold out venues, it is going to be hard to survive on free music. It is really nice to be able to connect with fans in different markets and regions. And once you get to know people and they get to know you and your music they get to become part of the whole experience and process. Ya, we have 3 or 4 different kind of hat pins and kids don't mind paying $15-$20 bucks for a hat pin. It goes a long way trying to support what we are trying to do as well. People come up to me all the time trying to get stickers or shirts or CDs. That means something. That means that you did something right.
We have had a couple of shows that were completely saved by the merch sales.
Again with the merch sales, they are walking advertisements. And they are telling their friends about you. And friends are the best source, because you trust your friend’s music taste. I think it is a key strategy and I am glad you guys are doing it.
I would love to hear about how you first met Michal Menert and ended up joining Super Best Records and how that collaboration took place.
Sure. I met Michal a few years ago. I have been a big fan of Michal Menert’s music for a good portion of a decade. I wasn't even huge into electronic music until later in my college years. He was part of the reason why I got into electronic music. That really consistent grove and how he works in live instruments with samples and now with actual people. Any ways I just really gravitated towards his music. I remember downloading every song I possibly could by him. Eventually forming a relationship with him in my head. And you know he is a big personality. He has a Twitter account as I am sure most of his mafiosos know. He has got a lot of followers. So I just hit him up on twitter one day. I was just blasting him. Like semi-stalking him. And he responded. More or less, I am paraphrasing him. But he was like “Do you want to join my band?” I still have screenshots of this by the way if anyone wants proof. So I sent him a link to Snug Harbor. Apparently he checked it out and liked what he heard because a few days later I had a contract in the mail from his management. My whole band was hired for Sonic Bloom 2014. We practiced our butts off and became his ‘Big Band’ so we played all of those shows with him too at Red Rocks. Michal is such a generous person and an amazing friend and mentor. It was easy for us to align once we met. Ya, It has been great. He has extended his hand towards me several times towards me including the record label deal offer. It has just been a huge help. We have a ton of stuff we are working on right now and we have learned a lot from him and everyone on that label. We hold them in high regards so it is just a complete honor to be involved with them and to be considered part of that team and family.
Besides Michal, do any other artists stick out in your mind as influencing you, your career or your sound?
Haha thats a big question.
Maybe growing up you listened to a particular artist and you started to gravitate towards that style of horn playing… Or electronic music influences outside of the big band.
The Pretty Fantastics I think of more like an indie band or something. Like somewhere between Radiohead and Bjork. Its all these crazy influences. It has got these acoustic instruments but this electronic vibe. It’s all this kind of blurred lines thing. In general, I grew up listening to Jazz and Funk. Really inspired by Soul Live and Lettuce and those guys. Derek has been working with them. All of these people have been kind of infiltrating. Griz worked with Lettuce. We have done tracks with Griz and he has been pretty influential. I would say that most of the collabs that we have done have provided us with an opportunity to advance ourselves both musically and technically. Especially as of late I feel that every song we touch only gets better. I am not trying to blow myself up and sound too cocky. We become better players by doing this more frequently and we also learn more about our software and programs. We are able to enhance our own music. And finally for me personally, I listen to a whole bunch of music and I still do and nothing really changes. I listen to 90’s hip-hop and 80’s disco or 70’s funk. That music will always be in me and I will always enjoy that. My tastes change constantly. But right now I am into some crazy festival music like Tipper, Killsmith, and CloZee and all these people who have these sonic 3D soundscapes as it relates to music. You think about music in a different way as opposed to a regular 2D Axis. I don't know just trying to find different ways to enhance music. I get inspirations from everywhere. I listen to Ambient music. I listen to Jazz. I listen to Opera. I listen to electronic music. I think there is something to say about all of it.
Great. What about you Dan… Any influences in your career?
Ah, well like will I grew up listening to a lot of Jazz. I would be a liar if I didn't talk about Fred Wesley who is a trombone player. He is fantastic. Pretty much everything I do solo wise, is based off of what he did, to make Trombone one of the funkiest instruments out there. Ah flute wise, I am trying to remember his name… A lot of Jazz flute growing up. And now Will kinda introduced me to electronic music. I wasn't sure I was ever going to be able to get into it. He showed me guys like Michal Menert and Pretty Lights. The whole Pretty Lights Music Team. Gosh everyone on Super Best right now. Artifacts is just killing it. I am really loving what Daily Bread are doing. Ya, all those guys out there are just really killing the game right now. So ya I am listening to them a lot and doing my best to learn.
Great. Clearly you are learning fast because you guys have captured the blend of live instrumentation and electronic production, so props.
Ya, I went to school for audio engineering and video stuff. It wasn't a major back then, it is now, but I had to make my own called “New Media Studies”. Basically I ended up studying audio production a lot. Through various school projects I was able to learn my way and start to introduce myself into different sampling techniques and beat building. It has been a long time coming and a big process. I have hopefully been able to pass everything I know to Daniel and we continue to inspire and push each other to learn more. When we have a question or if something comes up that is not ideal, we learn to make it work. We learn to find ways to think on our feet. And more often than not, it works and it's like wow, this is actually happening. We are making progress and its great.
That's great. So what instruments do you all play. Obviously the laptop is engrained. Maybe a midi controller, a keyboard, a trombone, flute. What other instruments am I missing here?
Are you talking about live or when we produce?
Live I am essentially DJing stripped down versions of the tracks. And throwing effects on the tracks. I have got my trumpet and I play with a loop station and an effects pedal board. That is pretty much it for now. Sometimes we play with a synthesizer we bring out and play live but the last tour we were not able to bring it due to space concerns. Daniel plays flute and trombone and helps me play, sometimes percussion or throw effects or DJ a little bit.
In the studio I play a lot of Keys and synthesizers. We have a couple of analog synths we play, the Roland Gaia, and the Moog Sub Phatty. I play the flugelhorn and trumpet and I sing. And Daniel…
I usually playing the flute or trombone. That tends to be a lot of what I am recording. I do lot of synth work. I love making bass noises. I think programing the bass is one of my favorite parts of being a producer. I don't always get to choose which bass makes it but just making the sounds is really fun for me. Ya. Just playing keys. One time I got to play a little guitar. We didn't end up releasing that song but that was pretty fun.
Nice. You guys are pushing it. I mean you are combining a lot of different elements.
Ya we use my record player a lot too because we did some samples in the past but we are trying to move away from that. We also work with a lot of people from the community. I can’t forget about our home team here in Bellingham. It is a little outside of Seattle. In Between Seattle and Vancouver. Its where I went to school and we have tons of people in town that lend a helping hand. We have a few female vocalists that come over and help us record. Some guitar players. A bass player. A drummer and just different people that we have played with in Bellingham. Or in different bands. Or just friends or friends of friends that have shown inclinations or interest in our music. We tend to gravitate towards that as well. Some rappers and a couple of different MCs. It has been really cool. For me that has been a really fun part. To collaborate on a more indepth level with those kind of people.
Can you tell me about each of your first live performance? The first time you got paid for a gig. Talk about your live performance and any nervousness you had and how you overcame that.
The first time I ever got paid to play music I was still a high school Jazz trombone player. It was just me and a bass player. We got paid to play a company’s Christmas party. They basically wanted us to play Christmas tunes and Jazz standards. I wasn't really a great Trombone player. I didn't really know the songs. I was sight reading most of what I was doing. And Me and this bass player ended up flubbing through all this work and they still paid us each $200 at the end of the day. I am really thankful. I feel like a lot of people just appreciated the effort and ever since then I have been able to just keep my hat on and try as hard as I can.
For me, I remember a couple of instances… I think this is why I am nervous in front of little crowds. It sounds terrible. Like for me the bigger the crowd the better. When I was super young my parents used to force me to play in front of all the Christmas family get togethers. It was like a half an hour all 30 distant relatives that I see once a year staring into my soul. For me it was very uncomfortable. Those kind of intimate performances erk me out. I would literally rather play in front of 10,000 people than in front of 10 it is crazy. The first time I got paid for a gig. I have been playing music professionally since I was 12 I guess. I met Mike Angelakos from Passion Pit on Napster in 1998 and we became friends and became in a band. We used to play all the time, professionally starting around [age] 12 [or] 13. Around those mid teenage years and played often. So that was really fun for me. I just remember how to become a good performer and a good bandmate during those times and it was crucial to my development.
It is great to hear and I appreciate you sharing because there are so many musicians out there who just need to get past that first hurdle before they can take the next steps in their career. I appreciate you sharing.
Ya no problem man. At this point you almost have to just embrace it. You have got to have fun. Regardless of my nerves, whether I am playing in front of whatever quantity of people, you have just got to go out there and have fun. If I look over at Daniel mid-set and he is having a blast and I’m not, I feel stupid. You always have to bring your A game. If you can’t have fun by yourself or in front of a friend or a group of people than you are not going to have fun in front of a big crowd. To me it is all about honing the craft and being able to embrace that.
My next question dives into the production end of the way you construct your songs. First of all what software are you using or are you using multiple different D.A.W.s? Can you tell me the relative order of operations.. Do you start out with the melody or the lyric sample that you want to add in or do you build the drum beat first? Go ahead and walk me through that briefly.
Ya we normally use logic. We use some native instruments too but mostly logic is our production platform. We use Native Instruments and different plugins to use different ways of manipulating sound. Also live we use some native instruments. But ya, our main DAW is Logic. I have been using it forever. We have experimented with Bitwig. I own Bitwig and stuff and Ableton and Pro Tools but I am just a little bit more efficient with Logic. I like what we are able to do [with logic]. Typically I will come up with a drum beat that sounds good. To me it is an indication that if you can make a drum beat sound good than you have a good foundation, a good groove. So we have been trying to go off that. Then Dan will start helping me make layers if mixing live drum samples from my friend Todd Templeton who played on our last album. I'll take an analog kick of his and layer it in with a digital kick of mine and we will have a sub hit in the background and all the sudden we have something our heads can shake to. Then I’ll ask Daniel some questions about the direction of the tune and at that point we will start helping me start layering different basses usually. At that point we create a foundation for the melody and usually begin to enhance that with synths and horns and stuff. Usually the song at that point you can tell if it is going to be good or not and continue to make it or move on.
Out of curiosity, what percentage of your efforts result in a song that sticks? How many songs do you throw out on average for every one that you keep?
I have got hundreds. Maybe a hundred songs that I am still working on. I say everything is a work in progress even beats that don't become anything. But you know we are pretty stubborn. I’d say we produce maybe 20 or 18 tracks and out of those 12 made it for our last [album]. A handful got cut. But in general I think we have good starts. I have tons of drum songs that just suck. So we dont really work on those. I will play them for Daniel and he will roll his eyes, and I will roll my eyes, and then we will open a new session file.
At the point where we are really starting to work on something. It's like ok let's take the time. It's all about micro to me. Little micro editing and micro listening. If you can make a little change at end of every 4 or 8 bars. Even if is some stupid automation that you would never think of like increasing the reverb time or delay you are able to create this sonic landscape. You are able to like… I don't know man… To me music is all about semantics and changing physical property and energy with those wave forms. So the more you can enhance someone’s life by making a creation, the better. That’s what it is about man. Ya I think logic… I think whatever platform you are using, you should just go for it! To me I find it silly when people are just Ableton snobs. My whole crew uses Ableton. I am not trying to dog them. I am not even talking about them. I have just met some people who say “oh, you use Logic?” You could use Fruity Loops or Garageband, I don't care. If you are making music you are doing yourself and probably other people better for it.
Truth. Thanks for walking me through that. Now my next question is about your album entitled ‘Stay the Course’. You guys collaborated with a huge array of musicians to create this piece. Can you talk about the strategy behind it and why you wanted this album to be so collaborative.
Ya. A lot of that was just we have a lot of people we have played with, as Will spoke about. People in the community that we have been in bands with or we have sat in with or they have come sit in with Snug Harbor or something. Really I think we just wanted to include all of our friends. Get together all the best musicians in town together and make as good of a product as we possibly could of. I know a big inspiration for me was getting as many natural sounds. As many acoustic and instruments that were really played by someone and figure out how to make that into a really great electronic song. A lot of those instruments are things that I can’t play that well. Like guitar or drums. We got Todd Templeton or Mathew van den Heuvel, who is now on Super Best Records now. I know Todd is on three or four of those songs and Matt was on almost every single one of them. It was really great to have those musical influences around. I think it really did change a lot of what we did on the album for the better.
Ya if you look at people like Michal Menert, he got us involved with Space Jazz. I think that was one of our first real sessions with him. Daniel and I were almost shocked when it came out because every song on Sace Jazz has like eight people on it. Including us. We were on like four or five songs. Its like wow, here is a guy, Michal Menert, who is pretty well known / semi famous. He has been making beats forever with PLM and Super Best Records. This guy who everyone, in my opinion, looks up to. This guy is taking the time to credit these amazing musicians. Like we were not well known at the time. They are making big waves now and I think it is because of that. His generosity is really influential and inspirational. So it is partly to do with that. You know we see him working with all these people. We almost wanted to bring in other people as well and pass it along.
If you look at artists like Griz he is working with Daptone Records, Dap Kings, all these people like Lettuce and phenomenal players. To me its cool. If you can make a beat, awesome. If you can make a cool song, great. If you can make it better by adding someone else, you should. Why not? And if you can give them credit by all means, absolutely.
Credit is so important and it is so nice to have those artists who have already made it or have a large audience or following to lend a hand and bring younger artists along for the journey.
Ya exactly. Pass it along and spread the wealth. It’s a big pie and there are only so many slices. If I can cut mine for a little bit and help someone else. That's the only way people make it. It is not by stepping on each other it is by helping each other. So we are really just trying to our part really.
Rock on. I really like that. You say it well.
I am interested in any future works that you guys have.
Ya, we have three collaborative albums coming out. We just finished most of the tracks on the pretty fantastics album. We are doing a song with Funk Static, it is really good. It is going to be on his new album. We have a song with Captain out right now called “Never Will”. We have a new song coming out with him that is some of our best work, as horn players. We are also working on a different style. A sample free album by ourselves, an EP for WilldaBeast, that we are trying to get out soon on Super Best Records. It is a different vibe than most of our stuff, it is more uptempo and future sounding. And now that I think about it we have another EP coming out with Sway from Felos Records (Spelling?). And now that I think about it we also have a remix album coming out for ‘Stay The Course’. Lots of friends and label mates, past collaboratives are going to be included in that as well. So there will be 5 or 6 new things to get your ears on us within the next 6 months.
Wow, that's exciting! Now where can our audience find your tracks?
If you want to get real simple. SoundCloud.com/Willdabeastofficial Ya it is also on our facebook. If you search Willdabeast with two L’s you will find us. It is kinda hard to spell but once you got it you will get it. Facebook.com/Willdabeastofficial and our website Willdabeastmusic.com/ also you can find us on SuperBestRecords.BandCamp.com
Perfect. What is it like working with a record label?
We pitched to a few different record labels and even some talent agencies and we were never really picked up. I think Michal just found us on youtube after I sent him some links. It's interesting and its a challenge because sometimes you are on their schedule. Especially for releases. They can't over do it either. So you have to be mindful of other artists and things. But in general it is a dream control. I remember when Michal said he was going to sign us I just started floating, I was on cloud nine. Other than my son being born, it was one of the best days of my life. I don't know it is just cool to have representation. I feel like it is all worth it at the end of the day. It feels like what you are doing matters and is important. To have that backing and support system is huge for me. They are just a startup company at this point. That is also one of the benefits too because when I have a release I talk to Michal or his manager.
That is great there are not a lot of departments and management structures.
Ya there are like two or three people. It's like alright I have this release and they will be like ok we have a slot open or we need to wait a few months. And they will help promote our shows. For our remix album that is going to come out we got a bunch of people from Super Best to be on it. It was just special to have that support system. You know we have recorded horns for some artists and they have sent us tracks for our new songs. It is cool to have that, almost kinship, with someone else. It feels like it matters. Being signed isn't everything but to me it was something that really helped validate what I was doing. And to show other people too that this is not a just hobby or passion, although it is, it is something more. It's something that I am really trying to pursue. It is worthwhile when you have that support system. I love Super Best. Super Best for life baby!
Good to hear. Do you have any interesting or weird or odd pre-performance rituals?
Well I believe, as a trombone player, if you don't know how to keep your slide properly greased up before a show, than you have a long ways to go. I remember I had a professional lesson with this old navy guy Jim McFalls. I payed for an hour lesson with this guy. He was a killer beep-bop player. And he spent the entire lesson talking with me about slide care. Just making sure I am treating my trombone ritual. So if I had any pre-game ritual it would probably be getting my slide ready for the show and then drinking a beer.
It is always fun listening to Dan greece his slide. It was hard on the Pretty Fantastics tour to get some space sometimes. Because you are traveling with so many people and they usually supply you with one green room so most seats are occupied. So I like to sit down and warm up my lips and drink a lot of water. Because I know I am about to bring my “A” game and sweat most everything that I have inside outside of me. If possible I try to eat an hour before I play because man it sucks. Sometimes you get off stage at 3am and everything is closed. So honestly, at this point it is all about sustenance and sustainability. Trying to stay nourished and thrive. If I decide to party or drink beers it is usually afterwords. Like Dan said I try to take care of my horn too. I have a really expensive trumpet. Ya just introducing different toxins inside the trumpet or my body will have an effect on my playing. Especially as of late, I have been having little health problems, like with my back. Ya just trying to get loose, man and get ready for a killer show.
Will, you mentioned the birth of your son. How old is he?
He just turned one. He is 14 months now.
Has he seen you perform yet?
Ya he saw me perform when he was like two or three months old. It was right before Dan joined the band. I had a solo show. It was really cool. He wore headphones and he watched me behind the speakers so I didn't hurt his ears. Ya he hears us practice. Daniel comes over two or three days a week. So he hears us playing. Yogoman, our other band has a small infant around his age so they come to practice together with ear protection and they get to hear us play often. Ya he loves music and bangs on the office door when I am recording and I am unable to open it and other things. He is really drawn to music. He is only one and he is already starting to sing and imitate those things. He has a plastic blow horn that he pretends to play with. Ya he is the light of my life. With Snug Harbor we played ‘bite at seattle’, this big outdoor festival, and I got to lift him up like lion king. He is super sweet. He is amazing. I was never really a kid person and then he came into my life. He is great.
That's great to hear. What advice would you give a musician starting out today or what would you tell yourself if you were starting out today.
Spend more time on your instrument. Practice!
Spend more time on your instrument. The only reason I say that is that I wish I had more time now to practice. Back in the day when I was lounging or watching TV or playing video games. I did invest a majority of my time in my instrument, but If I invested more I could be one step ahead of the game. I have to prepare a lot, especially with a kid, with day care and child care. So time is of the essence. You are only young once. Use your time wisely. You are only young once. It sounds silly and I am not that old I am only 29. Use that time, man. Cherish that time. If you want the time to hone in and craft in on something, now is your chance. To me you only get one or two chances to make music. This was probably one of my last chances to make music so I just went for it. So I would give myself that advice. Take those few netflix shows off of your list and go practice for a couple of hours. You are going to [improve] yourself and you are only going to feel more proud of what you are able to do.
Ok final question, is there anything you would like to share with our listeners?
Ya. You can find us at WilldabeastMusic.com or at SoundCloud.com/Willdabeastofficial or Facebook.com/Willdabeastofficial and we are always posting there all the time new music and new shows. We have a couple of shows up here in Bellingham if anyone is up in the North West area. Hopefully trying to see a lot of your familiar faces. We just landed a booking agent too so we are hoping to land some more festival slots and bring some more live horn infuzed electric soul to your heads and hearts.
Well Will and Dan, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your time and knowledge with our listeners. We wish you all the best on all of your future creations and four upcoming albums. So thank you again and thanks for coming on the show.
Thank you so much.
Ya man, I appreciate it. Thanks for having us. We really appreciate it and good luck to you as well.
The Freio Music Podcast
Episode 03 - Gipsy Moon
Listen in to this intimate back stage interview with Gipsy Moon. You will hear from the band gems and jokes along the way. This extremely talented band is led by mandolin player Silas Herman on mandolin and Makenzie Page on guitar and vocals with Matt Cantor on the bass and Andrew Connley on the cello for extra flavor. In this episode, you will learn about life on the road as a touring musician and what it takes to step on stage night after night.
Listen in to this intimate backstage interview with Gipsy Moon. You will hear from the band gems and jokes along the way. This extremely talented band is led by mandolin player Silas Herman on mandolin and Makenzie Page on guitar and vocals with Matt Cantor on the bass and Andrew Connley on the cello for extra flavor. Some band members have been on stage since they were children, even before they could play an instrument while others didn't take the stage until becoming an adult. During this episode, you will hear a hilarious first concert story that is just epic! This band and its members are young and their talent will shine for years to come. Enjoy this episode of the Freio Music Podcast with Gipsy Moon!
Hello, my name is Silas Herman and I play the mandolin for Gipsy Moon. My name is Matt [Cantor] and I play the bass. My name is Makenzie Page I sing, play the guitar and tenor banjo. I am Andrew Connley.
Where did you guys meet and how did you decide what instruments were going to be in the band?
Silas - Well we have been through a lot. The arrangement of the band now is a little different than it first began. We started a band about two years ago, and we started with a different band member then. We have been through a couple of things But this current arrangement is what has felt the most natural and right. As far as choosing the instruments we all have our own musical background, so we have brought them together to turn it into something
Matt - I think the most interesting thing… well, it's all fairly standard. Except for the tenor banjo, it is a little different. I think the cello is probably the [instrument] that catches people’s attention the most, as being kind of different. So I guess we could have Andrew answer why he decided to play the cello.
Andrew - Alright. Before that though I met these guys at RockyGrass, the best festival in the world man, that festival changed my life. I met Silas, and Makenzie up there and then Matt later. I used to play mandolin, and the mandolin is just a fuckin awesome instrument. There are a lot of incredible Mandolin players out there, like Silas, he is fuckin incredible dude. It takes a lot of dedication to push yourself outside that pack. Crooked Still I was influenced by them in a way. Someone introduced me to them. That pretty much changed the game. I was like oh, wow… You can actually do that with that instrument, that’s a cool possibility. It is basically a big fiddle. For violins or fiddles, the opposite equivalent for that, the more for informal variation. For cello, there really isn’t a word for that. There is no reason why that is. I saw a lot of mandolin players. There were not a lot of cello players that were pushing outside of that box. So it seemed like a really good play for life to focus on that.
So were you guys exposed to music from a young age? Or what inspired you to pursue being a musician.
Silas - I definitely grew up around a lot of music. My dad actually played in a band, Leftover Salmon, for over 25 years now. So he was on the road a lot of the time when I was growing up. So I was always surrounded by acoustic sort of bluegrass music of that influence. So I really just got into it and got a lot of it in my head. When I was around 12 or 13 years old I started taking it seriously. I started with the guitar and transferred over to the mandolin, which I am mostly playing now.
Did your dad teach you to play the guitar?
He taught me a fair bit to begin with, definitely. But then I tried to go outside of that musical genre to get my own sort of sound.
Makenzie - I did not grow up playing music. I found music when I was older. Ya, I just started with a friend who played. I would borrow his guitar and sing and play with him. I just surrounded myself with people who were really awesome at it [music] and learned.
Andrew - Um, I played a little drums and a little guitar growing up. It wasn’t until, you know, early teen years so that actually happened with the Mandolin when I was 16. My family wasn't really into it but now they are. Rocky Grass, that festival, got everyone in my family playing music in some way. My dad was a big record collector though. He had like 15,000 records when he died. He would be really happy to know that that is being carried on a little bit. He was a big fan.
Andrew - Ya, I played in the school orchestra on the bass for a long time. It was fun but I was never really serious about it until I graduated from high school. Then one day my friend was like “hey do you want to play bass for us at the mall?” I took my grandfather’s bass which I had had for a while but I had never ever played it because I would never practice. I would basically just go to school and play and have fun but I never took it seriously at all. I ended up getting blood blisters from playing at the mall for an hour. It was just an interesting experience because I never realized that people could pay you for playing music. We played at the mall and we each got $20 bucks and was like “woh, this is crazy!”. I just had so much fun and made money! So I basically started, and just did that a bunch like every day, and started making money. That is how I started doing it.
Was your grandfather's bass a stand-up?
Andrew - Ya it is the one I play. My grandfather played music in new york. He played Jazz for like 80 years so it has some history there.
You guys have a unique sound. You have come together with different backgrounds. Are there any genres or artists in particular that have inspired you to pursue the music you create today.
Silas - I feel like just being in Colorado, in general, you are sort of in a Mecca of a lot of amazing musicians and a lot of inspiration. A lot of young bands and bands that are more progressed. We have a lot of friends that have been through a lot of the same cycle of growing as a band. So we have seen that there is hope in the future and have just had a lot of inspiration from a lot of different people in that way, definitely.
Andrew- I am mostly inspired by older music. Old 50’s is what I primarily listen to at my house. That and funk, which is kind of interesting. That was kinda my parents' music. So I grew up with things, not necessarily a lot of disco funk, 80’s and late 70’s funk. Like Rick James and stuff. It is kinda a weird combination. I just ended getting really into Django Reinhardt. From that I have been listening to only really old music and funk. I like traditional Gypsy music too.
Makenzie - Ya I like old music too. My favorite right now is Edith Piaf. I can't stop listening to her.
Andrew - For me, musically, a lot of fiddle players. Though when I listen, it is kinda whatever my mood is into. It could be anywhere… From Bach, to Naughty by Nature to NOFX. Or bluegrass. Or old-time music. A lot of old-time music. So it is across the board it is more about what I am feeling at the time. They just help keep you going and influence you.
How are you able to highlight the individuality of a particular instrument, while at the same time maintaining a cohesive sound.
Makenzie - I think something that has really helped us is that we are really open-minded, as a band. Someone will bring a song and maybe it is totally... an entirely a different direction than we are trying to go. We just do it anyways. We are not trying to put ourselves in this whole genre, where we play this one specific music so we must stick to it. It is like hey let’s try that, now let's go this way. Lately, we have been trying to combine songs. Where one genre and a totally different genre that are just smashed next to each other. It’s really fun. If we do this dark eyes song, which is really gypsy, into this other song which is Calypso. We take traditional songs and totally do spins on them. We go from a Latin vibe into a Celtic tune. So I think that is something that we have been really digging lately.
Andrew - So were you referring to separation and how we set each other up for solos?
Trying to be aware of your ranges and try to not step on each other's parts as much as possible. Actually going from a five-piece band to a four-piece band has made that way easier in a way. I mean we had some good people we played with. Especially with cello, it is always trying to figure out where my part fits, like in a puzzle. Try to not muddy up the bass or the guitar, or tenor, or vocals. It is a delicate range. It is always really case by case. It is not really one formula but there are definitely patterns.
Silas - We recorded our last album at silo sound (in Denver) and had Tim Carbone, of RailRoad Earth, produce it. We have made a couple of other recordings with some friends in the mountains. Our first record we did with Dave and Enion Tiller from the band Taarka, at their house in Lyons, which unfortunately got destroyed in the flood.
How do you go about creating a song?
Makenzie - Every song is definitely different. Like it is its own little being. Lately what we have been doing is someone will come up with a basis of it and bring it to someone else. Like hey here is this. Usually, two people will come together. We have been doing a lot of collaborating like Matt, or Andrew or Silas will bring me something and be like I have this idea and it is these certain parts, write some words for it. It's really fun, it’s freeing. It is really helpful to widen your personal perspective on music, because you are working off of something that someone else wrote. So it is a nice broadening of your own ideas.
Andrew - I think it is case by case when it comes to where ideas come from. A lot of times I will have a bass melody and have some chords. Just trying to pass it on. Here try this out. Can you improve it? A lot of tunes have happened that way. Sometimes it is more specific. A lot of times I will want to hear tunes… Well, there are definitely arranged parts in them. It takes some working through to figure out what works for instrumentation. And to figure out if it is a good idea or bad idea. It is a lot of trial and error of just testing out stuff between us.
Do you have any future songs or albums in the works that are going to be released?
Makenzie - Ya we are going to be releasing an album this spring, so ya. In March. We recorded Silo Sound Studio with Tim Carbone. It was Kickstarter funded so we appreciate to all of those people who helped out. It has been a really fun album. A Lot of in-studio kinda stuff. We just got the masters yesterday so we were listening to them. It is definitely a more produced album. It has been really fun to be like “Let’s add this here” and “let's do these crazy harmonies there”. Usually, we are a one take and that's what you get. Last week we went up to this studio, called Mountain Star Studio, it is up in Rollinsville, kinda close to our house. They record straight to tape. So it was fun to do the exact opposite because they record to tape. So literally only one take and that's what you get. So that was really fun. So we did two tracks there that we will probably release at some point. It was an 8 track tape. It was literally straight to tape and then they turn it into digital after. Ya so in the Spring look out for that. It is called Sticks and Stones
So you guys have a management company and a manager. How is it working with a manager and what are the benefits? Are they enabling you to focus on your music while they worry about the scheduling and booking?
Makenzie - It is awesome. We don’t have to worry about that kind of stuff. Because that is half of the battle, when you are becoming a musician, is the business side of it. When you are an artist you don't want to have to think about that stuff.
Silas - It is also hard to promote yourself self righteously. Like saying “hey this is my band and we are so great, you should hire us.” Having a separate party to do that for you is very helpful.
These [next] questions are more individual.
Were there any particular artists that inspired you to pursue the mandolin?
Silas - I started out by playing the guitar. I had a musical upbringing. Then I really drove away from bluegrass I was brought up around. I got into electric guitar. It sort of started out there. Then transitioned back over to acoustic guitar and now mandolin which I am playing now. Some of my bigger influences have been Adam Steffey and Chris Keely. Some of those guys who are just great bluegrass players. I would like to sort of expand past that genre with my own playing too. So take influences from all sorts of things like Jazz.
How do you push yourself to that next level?
Silas - Oh man, just practice. It’s constantly a battle. It's constantly a cycle of getting beat down and then being re-inspired to do even better.
Matt, your bass playing adds a lively bounce and rhythm to the music. You guys don't have percussion and it seems like in a way you fill that rhythmic section. How do you as a bass player elevate yourself to that next level, how do you improve? Was there anyone who guided you along the way? Maybe your grandpa?
Matt - Well, unfortunately, my dad is really old and my grandfather was very old. I honestly started playing music right as my grandfather died. Which sucks because I play a lot of swing which is the stuff that he played. I would say the biggest influences on bass have been Chris Wood, Jimmy Blanton, Gareth Sayers.
Matt - What did you ask again?
(Other band members’ laughter)
Matt - Ok, Ok, I am really hungry. I can't think. I like the first part of the question that you asked. Because I had a realization last week when we were playing. There was this band before us that was really good. Their rhythm was really tight actually but they didn't have a bass player. And they are a string band. It made me realize how much rhythm the bass adds in this certain sense. It was really all there. Their rhythm was really good but because they never have that bass to be like “this is where the beat is”. It just kinda never really moved people, I noticed. I think it moved them, but didn't push them to move. Where it really hits them…
I like watching interviews with really old bass players because they always have really amazing things to say and it is really funny. I was watching this interview with Milt Hinton, who is the most recorded Jazz musician ever. He is on like 9,000 recordings. Now, he is this like 90-year-old guy. He is playing some bass line. I like to play it like this. I like to people to know, this is where the beat is. And that is what I am trying to do lately. Like this is where it is. Be more definite on the rhythm.
Well, Makenzie, I don't know how long ago you started playing vocals, so I would be interested to know that first of all. Your vocals seem to drive some of the songs and lead the direction for everyone else. You all make great space for each other but how did you become such a strong vocalist and so quickly and was there anyone who guided you along your path?
Makenzie - Oh man, you never really think about this kinda stuff with yourself because you are always looking forward. Well, I loved singing Disney songs as a kid. Well, I still do. Ha! I still sing Disney songs. Singing has always been in my life but I didn't play an instrument until I was 18. So I was a little older when I picked up an instrument and had any form training. So singing has always been in my life but I just wasn't really out there with it. It was a hidden, very personal thing to me. So that was something. Coming out of that shell and connecting with the people in the audience. The voice is such a connection that we have to other people. That is something I really love about singing. That is something I really aim for. Trying to have that conversation with the crowd, as if you are in the room with one other person. You kind of take them than somewhere else with that. It is really this very personal thing that you kind of have to give your all to. It is really hard to do that. I think that's why I didn't start playing music until I was older because to me it was such a personal thing. So I guess that is what I aim for and what I look for in my own vocals when I am listening back. Could you understand what I was saying? Did it sound like I am speaking or connecting? It is really just about connection to me. You get a lot of that from old folk singers like Joan Baez. The ones who really sat down and told you a story. I just love that old stuff. I am really into Edith Piaf. Even though it is in French, she has a lot of English stuff too, but she has this old sound to her voice. I think it is so timeless. I am just really digging that right now.
[Andrew] you told me that you recently got a strap. Does that change the way you are playing? Does it enable you to run around onstage as opposed to being locked into one corner? [Also]
It just seems that your cello adds a depth to the music. The melodies that you choose to play seem to create a different direction or depth. Can you speak to the way you play and anyone who has influenced you along the way?
Andrew - So ya. First, the strap is kinda new. It’s way fun. It is called a ‘Block Strap’. So shout out to Mike Block. He is an inspirational cello player to me. He invented the strap system. It lines up really nice. It feels natural. You get it in this spot and it is just like you are sitting down but it follows you around like a baby strapped to your chest. It [takes] a little bit of adjusting. If it is not set up just perfect some stretches are a bit hard to get but if you get it set up right, no problem at all. So maybe it adds a little difficulty but it is twice the fun. So it is a good tradeoff, I think.
Andrew - As far as cello adding depth, it definitely does. It is kinda that midrange that you don't really hear in sting band setups very often. Which makes it kinda difficult to find the part sometimes, because you don't want to step on someone else. Ya, it is like an extra dimension. Now that I am so used to it. When I go back and listen to a bunch of string bands now I feel like it is lacking something. But that is just me personally.
Andrew - But as far as influences… Crooked Still, a great band. They are still playing a little bit. Rushad Eggleston, is one of the players Tristan Clarridge are both fantastic players. Natalie Haas. It is really a small club of non-traditional cello players but I really appreciate what they are doing.
Can you talk about your first live performance, any fears that you experienced and how you overcame that?
Silas - Ya I fall into a pretty unique realm, with my dad being a musician. He would bring me up on stage when I was extremely young before I could even play an instrument. He would just leave it up there plugged in. So I could just go up there and stand there with the instrument. Not making any sound out anything. I think it helped me feel natural on stage and get past that whole thing before I even got into music. So once I did, there wasn't a whole lot to overcome. I will say that whole fear factor thing definitely, in some ways makes you play better though. Knowing that really amazing musicians are there and you look up to a lot will definitely make you play better and push you.
Matt - I had a funny first… Besides playing in school concerts and stuff, I am not going to count that. My first personal music concert. I remember I was playing electric guitar. I was super excited. I think it was a talent contest at my school. I was so excited to play. I was so pumped. We were playing one song. It was the classic thing where the curtain comes up. I think there were three electric guitars and a bass. It was probably really shitty. My amp, it just didn't work! It just didn't work! Honestly… Seriously, as the curtain went down and we finished the song, my amp… Baaa the amp turned on. I just remember I was so furious! I could not even talk to anyone. I just remember my mom saying “don’t worry, you will always remember that your first concert was… the worst. It will be a good story”. I am finally getting to tell it, I am glad.
Makenzie - Oh, man I don't think I have a good first concert story. Mine was at one of those farmer markets, down in my town. It was just me and this girl playing music together.
Were you nervous?
Oh, god. I get nervous now. Even still.
How do you overcome it?
Makenzie - Well… (Alcohol, muttered from the background). Haha, you cant tell the children that! But really that is one way. I do have a drink before I go on stage. I don't know, I guess I just try to forget about it. Practicing! We practice before we play and every time we do that we are tighter and feel better. That is something especially with acoustic instruments, when you plug them in, the whole world is different. If you can play a few songs, acoustic, and remember that that's how it sounds, and it sounds great! When you get up there it can sound all crazy. You hear something different than the crowd is hearing. And then you just reassure yourself that it's all good. Warming up for sure. That's half the battle is getting up there and doing it! It's awesome when you do, and when you let loose!
Andrew - Wow, Devotchka is awesome. Just for the listeners, we are listening to them soundcheck right now and they are amazing. Ya, my first time on stage… The first band I played with was a traditional bluegrass string band. I played Mandolin. The first time I met them, it was a Jam at a festival and they pulled me on stage that night too. It was cool because it was just a bunch of hippies. A bunch of young hippies. I was like ooh, wow. I can play bluegrass to young hippies and they are going to love it.
This is along the same lines as the previous question, and you may have already answered this. Do you have any interesting, strange, or odd pre-performance rituals?
Makenzie - I like to stretch sometimes. That helps me feel better. Definitely, as a girl, I just like getting ready. It makes me feel better when I leave the house and I have done something slightly with my hair and it is not like I just rolled out of the bed. Although on tour it gets hard because eventually, I do just roll out of the bus to go play a show. Just having a moment to myself is one thing I like. I really like to collect myself, no matter what has happened that day. Then when you go in front of the audience, you really have the responsibility to them to give them your energy. If your energy is all crazy and out there it is nice to do some breathing exercises before going on.
Matt - Probably the one weird thing I like… I don't always do it but sometimes I do. it is a little trick I learned from Jaco Pastorius. Supposedly every show he would have a bucket of fried chicken backstage. You just eat some before you play and it gets all over your fingers. It feels really nice on the bass… I don’t think it would work for a mandolin because you are holding a pick. But because you are just using your fingers it gets on the bass strings. It is almost like a lubrication. A bass lubrication system. A B.L.S., that is what a bucket of chicken is.
Silas - I mostly have a bunch of certain picking exercises I do to warm up, just to get the fingers moving and wrists lose. That's about it. Smoke a lot of pot. Ya, scales. Also a lot of picking technique, just the right hand, to loosen up.
Do you have any advice for a band starting out today? Would you encourage a band starting today to get a manager? Or is it practice, again and again? What advice would you give?
Silas - I feel that in the end, it is the music that prevails. There are a lot of bands that do make it through social media but the best ones that have a sustaining audience I feel like have solid music and a unique thing. So I would say just finding yourself and your own sound and exploring that as much as possible before you even get into the business side. Becoming as passionate about music for your own reasons.
Matt- I would say I have two pieces of advice. First play as much as you can. Find some buddies and just get weird with it. I mean that is how I started. Jamming for hours with our eyes closed. That is how I found myself. But I think this band is a little more refined, which is good. I think you need to go through that first stage though. Secondly, if you want to be a touring musician, make sure that you don't really hate being in cars. Honestly, that's one of the things I didn't realize that like 60% driving. Everything is work but if you are not the type of person that doesn't want to be in the car a lot it is probably not going to work out. At least a touring musician. You could be a studio musician I suppose.
Makenzie - It is so interesting to be asked that because I still feel like we are such a beginner band too. But you always feel that way with your own growth. You always kinda feel like you are only just getting it now. My advice is to not worry about it and just play. Play out as much as you can and the management thing is nice. We call him “Mom” because he takes care of everything. So it allows you to just focus on the music and not have to worry. I mean the times we have to worry about getting people to a show and all this. It gives you so much weird anxiety. To not have to worry about that stuff is awesome. Ya, about the car thing… You spend… That's the thing with finding people to play with too. I mean you spend a lot of time with each other in a very small space. I have definitely learned more than I have ever learned, just being in a band, and not just about music. It's been awesome. I recommend it.
Andrew - ya, music is fun. I would tell you that the first thing is work on your music. Try not to suck as much as possible. Try to be unique too though. A lot of bands will get in the cycle of trying to imitate their heroes. Which is nice for learning. But if you are making an act you can't really do that. Well, you can but it is hard to say how far that will go. Sometimes it does, you never know. Having a good singer too. Tim Carbone said to us… a few steps to success is to have good songs, a good singer, and there was something else too. But that was probably the most important thing. Oh ya, and be really fuckin lucky. Ya having a manager too. We got lucky that we had management and representation early on. Well, we first started with our buddy Kiam. It was his first time managing a band and then we got Ryan in there and it was his first time doing it too. So I recommend...
Makenzie - Find a friend who really gets along and who is business oriented and minded.
Andrew - Ya, If you have a friend who is really O.C.D., can write lists, and type emails, and wants to party a lot, he is the man. Just be like hey dude, do you have much going on? Do you want a side hobby for a little while? Make a few bucks and then eventually you will make a lot more. So ya, if you have a friend, get him involved. Get him to manage for you. I love our manager!
Where can our listeners keep up with your tour schedule and your latest releases and learn more about Gipsy Moon.
Makenzie - Facebook is honestly the best. Facebook and Instagram. Facebook.com/GipsyMoonBand Instagram.com/GipsyMoonBand on each of those. Also our website. We keep that updated. GipsyMoonBand.com So, ya those are the best places. Facebook you will kinda get a more personal view of us whereas the website is a little bit more formal.
Well, thank you Gipsy Moon, for sharing your knowledge and sharing your time. I am really excited to publish this and thank you again for your time.
Thank you, we really appreciate it.