Every once in a while, someone brings to music a voice, a sound, a note or a chord that is different. Enter Lady Blackbird, who back in 2020, brought to the ears of the world, the song, Blackbird. A composition written and sung by Nina Simone, Lady Blackbird delivered a vocal that on first impression, felt like Nina Simone was alive and well.
The LA-based artist, who formally was known as Marley Munroe has re-invented herself, and we like it. That song and now an album, Black Acid Soul, and to our delight she joins Vintage Trouble for a night at the Ford Theater on Thursday, September 16th. For tickets head here.
If you are fan of jazz, of crazy orchestrations that sound like the soundtrack of a dark, smoky night in a Southside joint, with vocals that may instill a permanent awe of the human voice, join the lady who Gilles Peterson has labelled the “the Grace Jones of Jazz” for a night of music.
From a published biography:
Lady Blackbird didn’t mean to soundtrack a revolution. But last spring, that’s exactly what she did. On 27th May 2020 the Los Angeles-based singer Marley Munroe released her debut single.
“It’s a brave soul indeed who not only tackles one of Nina Simone’s starkest tunes, ‘Blackbird’, but also calls herself Lady Blackbird into the bargain,” noted Blues and Soul at the time. “The original is a stripped-down chant with claps and hand drums, a field hollering protest song that will darken the skies of anyone’s heart. Lady Blackbird has the same urgent grace as Simone and she really takes what is an essentially acapella song and adds her own powerful magic and spirit to
proceedings… There’s an unmatched regality throughout, proving Lady Blackbird is an incisive and adroit singer. She channels the agony and thick despair on the lyrics, too.”
Simone released ‘Blackbird’ in 1963, at the height of the Civil Rights struggle. Almost six decades later, the killing of George Floyd, two days before the release of Lady Blackbird’s version, gave this new rendition a coincidental but no less stark, awful yet uplifting power.
“There was so much emotion there,” Lady Blackbird reflects now of a recording she and her Grammy-nominated producer Chris Seefried had laid down in the legendary Studio B (aka Prince’s room) in LA’s Sunset Sound. Jazz, she agrees, has protest in its DNA.
“Ultimately, I’m in this to entertain, not to be any sort of leader. That’s a huge responsibility that’s so deep within itself. I want to entertain and push people’s buttons. But having that platform, having people willing to listen to you and your music, that’s a responsibility – and one of using that opportunity to share your views.”
As it happens, in actual fact they’d recorded ‘Blackbird’ a few months previously.
“And unfortunately, and disgustingly, it did ring so fucking true last spring,” she continues with a hint of the soulful fierceness that, on stage, makes Lady Blackbird a wonder to behold. “It’s always been one of my favourite songs of hers. I’d listen to ‘Blackbird’ on repeat on my headphones for hours at a time, just feeling it, getting into the bones of it. “I could picture myself singing it onstage – I often do that, close my eyes and imagine me interpreting certain songs on stage. And I thought: this song has to be done.”
Lady Blackbird isn’t the Nina Simone of the Black Lives Matter era (she certainly wouldn’t call herself that). But she is the talent, and the force-of-nature, and the talk-walking personality, that Gilles Peterson has dubbed “the Grace Jones of jazz” – an accolade reinforced by the remixes of recent single ‘Collage’ by jazz and house heavyweights Bruise, Greg Foat and KDA.
And she’s the woman who can flex in other areas, too, as seen in the jaw-dropping version of Tom Petty’s ‘Angel Dream’ that she performed at the virtual Birthday Bash held last October in tribute to what would have been the late musician’s 70th birthday.
We can also just call her the best new voice of 2021, a transcendent performer of songs old and new, an artist whose approach, outlook and vibe is summed up in the title of her stunning forthcoming debut album.
Black Acid Soul.
Minimal yet rich, classic yet timely, the album connects backwards to Miles Davis (his pianist, Deron Johnson, plays Steinway Baby Grand, Mellotron and Casio Synth throughout) and forwards to Pete Tong (he made the Bruise mix of ‘Collage’ his Number Two Essential Selection tune of 2020) and, yes, Victoria Beckham – Matthew Herbert’s remix of second single ‘Beware The Stranger’ soundtracked the designer’s Spring/Summer 2020 Fashion show.
Its 11 tracks have a sound, feeling and attitude that speak of Lady Blackbird’s deep experiences in music, stretching all the way back to infancy.
“I don’t ever remember not singing,” she says, recalling performances in church and at fairs from the age of five. “It’s what I knew how to do, and I don’t want to do anything else.”
By her early teens, Lady Blackbird was travelling to and from Nashville. She was signed to a Christian label but the only music that resulted was some work with rock/rap group DC Talk. After they split, she worked with former member TobyMac, appearing on his first four solo albums and touring together.
“But I realized that that whole Christian world, which my parents tried to place me in, was so goddam far from who I was. I did not want to do Christian music, I didn’t believe anything of what they did, and I quit the tour.”
A wise young soul already at the age of 16, she then found herself “in limbo, because I was in this contract till I was 18”.
Once legally an adult and free, she based herself out of New York while flying to and from sessions in LA. She was working with Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Sam Watters, Louis Biancaniello, Tricky Stewart and The Heavyweights. A production deal led to a record deal with LA Reid’s Epic. But creative differences led to her parting ways with the label.
So, the deal ended “and it was back to the drawing board and working with different people”. One of those was artistturned-writer-and-producer Seefried, who’d been Grammy-nominated for his work on the debut album by Andra Day (soon to be seen as Billie Holiday in biopic The United States Vs. Billie Holiday).
On meeting Lady Blackbird, he recalls thinking: “Wow, I’m working with the best new vocalists there are – Andra and Lady Blackbird are two of the greatest singers on the planet.”
From Lady Blackbird’s point-of-view, “I fucking loved his shit!” she hoots, relieved to have finally found a musical partner who got her. “Chris listened to me, asking, was I feeling this vibe, or that vibe? He was able to dig inside what I was feeling. Next thing you know, he had some amazing sounds worked out. We really just connected.”
They took their time, working in Seefried’s LA studio, feeling out the bespoke musical path that would work with the fiercely individual performer. Finally, in hitting on the idea of stripping everything back, “we cracked the code”.
“I’d written a song, ‘Nobody’s Sweetheart’, a jazz ballad kind of thing, and asked her to do a vocal,” explains Seefried. “I laid the tune on her – and it’s quite a complicated piece of music – then I played it again. And she goes: ‘OK, I got it.’ And in two takes she nailed it, live. It’s a real natural genius kind of thing to have that kind of musicality intuitively.
That song, when he began playing it to people, stopped them in their tracks. “In fact, when I played it to my therapist, he started crying.”
“When you break a therapist, that’s when you know you’re winning!” Lady Blackbird laughs.
A sad, elegantly simple tune, ‘Nobody’s Sweetheart’ was, too, a pathfinder song, and also the first one they recorded (with, ultimately, on the finished album, a beautiful trumpet solo from the great New Orleans virtuoso, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews). After working on big pop bangers, this was the motherlode. After going all out, they were going all in, deeply in, getting out of the way and letting shine the voice of Lady Blackbird.
For the singer, a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, that approach, however, didn’t – couldn’t – diminish her onstage persona. “I loved my over-the-top costumes and all this elaborate shit on stage. Chris convinced me we could be jazz and still keep that attitude.”
Suffice it to say that, when Seefried played ‘Nobody’s Sweetheart’ to Ross Allen – the British label exec, DJ and crate-digger who’s signed Lady Blackbird to his new imprint Foundation Music – he was astounded.
“I also showed him this picture of her, this radical woman on stage, and it was from the back, wearing this incredible dress and Pattie LaBelle headgear. Ross was like: ‘She sings like that and looks like that? Fucking hell!’”
“Yeah, it was my ass!” she shouts, delighted. “Ass out, always!”
You can hear that personality in ‘Collage’. An instant earworm which she inhabits in multiple colours, it’s Lady Blackbird’s take on the “fucking quirky” James Gang original, a soulful psych-rock deep cut from 1969.
There’s more inspired reinvention on the aching ‘It’ll Never Happen Again’, written by Tim Hardin and which first appeared on the folk singer’s seminal 1966 debut. Forthright as ever, Lady admits, “that was one of the ones I didn’t like at first. It wasn’t boring, I just didn’t know how to give it some power or personality at first. But then I tried it, it was a beautiful session, and it’s ended up one of my favourites on the album. It just sounds magical.”
That spirit of adventure and invention is there, too, on ‘Beware The Stranger’. It’s a rerub of ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’, a rare groove classic recorded by funk/gospel collective Voices of East Harlem in 1973 and co-produced by Curtis Mayfield.
“It’s a version of a version!” she laughs. “We changed the title, the gender, everything! But again, when I first heard it, I just could not hear it. Then Chris cottoned on to the choir piece at the end and suggested we build from there. It was this gothic-type sound, and we rebuilt that choir just using my voice. When we took it to a dark and dangerous place, that’s when I liked it, and when everything else just happened. Taking them down a jazz route was just about interpreting them in a way that could make them fit on a Kind of Blue, Love Supreme kind of space”.
Rounding out the album are two killer cuts written by Lady Blackbird and Seefried, ‘Fix It’ and ‘Five Feet Tall’. The former is an elegant piano ballad that sounds like a Great American Songbook standard sung by a woman on the side of the angels. Her ability to nail the song in the studio in minimal takes was clearly something to behold.
“Deron had never met her before the session,” recounts Seefried, “and she was recording ‘Fix It’ in Lady Blackbird mode. And he was like: ‘Damn, she’s like artificial intelligence! She’s like an Avatar! This is unreal!’”
As for ‘Black Acid Soul’, closing the album, it speaks of both the “Jackson Pollock jams” Seefried describes in the studio and the mantric soul evocative of Hot Buttered Soul-era Isaac Hayes. Explaining how the song became the title and then, again, the vibe, Lady Blackbird says: “We used to hashtag #blackacidsoul, as our sub-genre of music. It just encompassed everything we were doing. It cemented all those ideas and genres in this made-up shit!
“And because ‘Blackbird’ is a great start to the album, because it gets dark and violent and goes somewhere spiritual, we wanted to tail the album with another expression of acid soul. So that became the title track at the end.” This is Black Acid Soul, and this is the first crucial album of 2021. Are you ready to fly with Lady Blackbird?
Ultimate Ears (from Logitech) and Westbrook Media (Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith’s digital content studio) have announced a year-long partnership to celebrate creativity and technology.
The collaboration will leverage Westbrook Media’s creator-driven, innovative storytelling approach by using short films to bridge traditional entertainment with branded content that puts the product at the center of the story. The first project from this partnership will feature Jaden and Willow Smith and focus on the recently launched UE FITS, the world’s first truly wireless earphones with instant custom-fit.
Logitech has made strides in honoring creators this year and, most recently, the brand partnered with TikTok by reimagining the award show experience with its first-ever Logitech Song Breaker Awards, celebrating top creators who changed the face of music in 2020. Ahead of his exclusive performance at the awards, 24KGoldn tried on a pair UE FITS himself.
About Ultimate Ears
Ultimate Ears redefined wireless earphones by recognizing that each person’s ear is unique, and consumers should not have to conform to standard tip sizes of small, medium and large. With Lightform technology, UE FITS mold to fit each person’s ears in under 60 seconds to deliver all-day comfort and an exceptional audio experience. This creative collaboration between Ultimate Ears and Westbrook Media shares this same spirit of innovation and inclusivity.
In addition to the UE FITS campaign, Ultimate Ears will also be participating in Creator Days with Westbrook, where it links talent with digital native creators to produce original social content.
While we were on lockdown learning the latest Tik Tok dance craze challenge, pulling our hair out in our “solitary confinements”, or spending much needed time with our families, the following artists cooked up hit after hit. I did my ingenious best, sniffing out the ones that were sizzling hot and ready to transform our quarantined environments into a space that could be appreciated and respected. Here are my top 5 hot summer tracks of 20Quarantine. Enjoy!
Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé set this summer’s playlist on fire with their homegrown Houston collaboration with the remix to Megan’s previously released single, “Savage”. The 808 bass tinged track laced with a heavy kickdrum had every woman across the country “jumping to put jeans on” and feeling Queen B’s pain ala post quarantine pounds! Megan serves up official Megan bravado over the J. White (Cardi B, Bodak Yellow, I Like It) infused beat with lines such as “I’m the shit ooh/ I need a mop to clean the floor/It’s too much drip, ooh” and “I’m a savage/attitude nasty/talk big shit/but my bank account match it”. Topping the charts with over seven thousand spins on Top 40 radio according to Mediabase USA Today and an accompanying viral Tik Tok video, this song heated up every living room, car ride, and quarantine club space for the summer.
With the mention of Queen B, the summer’s next smash is delivered by none other than the flirty, charismatic, and iconic Gen Z sister tandem of Beyonce’s Parkwood Entertainment, Chloe X Halle. On the lead single “Do It” from their recently released album titled “Ungodly Hour” these young ladies bring sultry and soulful together with their harmonious vocals over a melodic dance track, colorfully produced by Scott Storch. Playful lyrics like “Taking pictures/ Make sure you can’t see no lace/ That wig secure/ Like the money in the safe/ I look like bae” keeps up with the tempo in this ode to showing self-love, self-care, and encouraging young women to just have absolute complete fun during this pandemic filled summer. Scoring their first Top 5 hit on the digital song sales chart, this duo has proven to be an added refreshment to the Billboard charts and urban radio alike.
Moving ahead with contemporary R&B star SAINt JHN who enjoyed an arduous climb to Billboard’s number 3 spot this summer with the resurgence of his smoky note single “Roses” which was first remixed by DJ Imanbek, which has now become an ultimate club banger remix ft. Future. This version of the record is raw strip club material at its finest that crept upon us during the quarantine and carried us into the anticipated summer of sexy that we all awaited. SAINt JHN states it best when he introduces the exotic dancer idea with braggadocio and vigor saying “ I might bring them strippers out/ And tell ‘em do it pole-less/You already know, already know, N—-s Roses” with Future riding the synth and the dark bass line which emotes a trancelike hook to follow. SAINt JHN surely has to be proud of the fact that Beyonce turned this record down several years ago. The cliché’ is, to give them their flowers while they are here to smell them. Saint JHN has all the right to smell his roses now with this erotic hustler’s homage.
Segway into the infant stages of quarantine madness and here emerges heavyweight newcomer Jack Harlow. “What’s poppin’?” is usually used as a greeting as in, what’s going on? or what activities are taking place now or in the future? No Webster! And what’s poppin with this Kentucky native is his XXL Freshman magazine cover debut (XXL, Aug 2020) and his new single befittingly titled “What’s Poppin” which actually took off during the mid-latter time line of quarantine and continued to soar into the summer destined to become a party staple in the future. Stamped by JetsonMade and Pooh Beatz (Suge, DaBaby) fame, Jack lets us all know how he spent his quarantine safe and healthy “Just Joshing/ I’ma spend this holiday locked in/ My body got rid of them toxins”. The allegro tempo makes this a fun and bright bop for the 22-year-old who rose to fame through Tik Tok with this single. Peaking at number 2 on the Billboard charts (Billboard.com) and with the release of his EP “Sweet Action”, Jack is for sure to know “What’s Poppin” all summer long.
Closing out the pandemic inspired playlist is stellar entertainer Jaden (Will and Jada’s son without the Smith). Formally known as, Jaden belts out his undying love for his quarantine boo in this laid-back Beach Boy influenced jam. “Cabin Fever” is one of his best works to date since “Icon”, seeing as though according to Jaden “I have to do things in the song (ICON) that are really not normal”. Which is why it is definitely abnormal to want to engage during a contagious outbreak only to create a body of work well deserving of breaking the rules. He takes us on an iridescent California cruise while attempting to lure his lover out of lockdown to come outside and “play” so to speak in his VEVO debut visual for the single.
“I wanna feel your body on me/ Tall palm trees/ And kaleidoscope dreams/ I’m at home thinking bout you and me/ Cause girl, I got that cabin fever” explains how he is reminiscent of the free time previously shared and how he is pining to re-create those moments with her again as he shouts out the 818 and 310 area codes designating his destination throughout the verses. Jaden told a Vulture interviewer in July that “this song is made to be listened to when the sun is setting and you’re feeling good”, hence the soft guitar riff and melodic hook penned by super producer Burns (Lady Gaga, Little Mix). “Cabin Fever” is a stark contrast to Jaden’s previous releases and his upcoming mixtape release “The Cool Café: The Cool Tapes Vol. 3”, but rest assured that he’ll continue to make “feel good” music during these isolated times.
Los Angeles, CA (September 1, 2020) – BeApp‘s latest launch, 30 days of 30 prizes is currently underway and available to any musician or artist looking to get discovered. The best part about it: you don’t even have to have 1 million followers to be seen by 1 million people.
BeApp, the free app that brings your favorite artists, concerts and festivals to the palm of your hand via livestream, recently debuted 30 days of 30 awesome prizes. Anyone has the chance to win from the comfort of their own homes! Prizes include $1k a day in cash, opportunities to open for the next big artist, and the chance to perform LIVE with your favorite artist! A top 10 app in the Apple App store with over 1 million downloads to date and 100M viewers, #BeApp has featured performances from the likes of Katy Perry, Miguel, Kaskade, DJ Khaled, Gryffin, and more. There’s a week and a half left to continue winning prizes, too!
BeApp is looking to discover the next big star and those who rise to the top will be welcomed into the BeApp family. No other app is offering this incredible opportunity to get discovered by major artists and teams. The best part is that anyone can join BeApp and begin performing for a worldwide audience. Limiting algorithms from other social media platforms won’t be stifling exposure on BeApp!
BeApp can be found on the App Store, and is free to download + sign up!
Picking up a new hobby can be quite a fruitful endeavor. Recently more and more people have acquired an interest in playing and making music. An article published on www.newyorktimes.com lists instruments sales as one of the major retail products that have experienced a bump in sales over the last couple of months. And while these numbers have plateaued in July, it’s safe to say that a significant number of people are currently learning how to play their respective instruments.
If you’re one of these then you may be looking to take the next step in your music-making journey. Maybe you’re interested in recording your own song (or covers of other people’s songs). If this is something you’re interested in, then this article is for you. We understand that recording can be a daunting task. To help you out with this, we’ve put together some home recording tips to help you with your projects. If you’re interested in learning more about this, read on for our tips for better home recordings!
One thing you have to keep in mind when recording music is that the devil is in the details. This means you’ll have to be meticulous when it comes to every step of the process. Now, one of the best ways you can go about doing this is by making sure that your recording space is free from unwanted noise and interruptions. There are a couple of ways you can go about doing this. One way is to pick a location in your home that’s free from noise. This means choosing a room that’s furthest away from the street, as a passing car could ruin a good take. Another thing you can focus on is keeping the noise out. Now, soundproofing is effective but can be quite costly. A great alternative would be to seal off the windows and doors with weather stripping. This way you can keep the noise out and just remove the weather stripping when you’re done recording.
For those of you interested in podcasting, you can also apply the tips stated above. In addition to this, you can opt to use an acoustic screen. Acoustic screens are attached to your mic and can filter out external background noise. However, it’s important to note that this only deals with minute noises and won’t be able to cancel out louder external noises.
Get The Right Mic
Surprisingly, you don’t really need a lot of equipment when it comes to recording music at home. According to the Broken Stereo’s piece on medium.com, all you really need is a microphone and a digital audio workstation (GarageBand is a great free option for macOS users). So what kind of microphone should you be getting? Considering you’ll be recording indoors, a condenser microphone may be the way to go. Shout4music.com’s list of the best vocal microphones include a slew of condenser mics to choose from. The Warm Audio WA-251 is a great choice as it can handle both vocals and instruments. It also has a distinct retro feel, which will transport you back to the recording studios of the 60s.
Vocal mics should also be suitable for podcasting. However, one thing you may want to consider when purchasing a microphone for podcasting is the ease of use and accessibility. For the most part, you won’t really be needing a studio-grade microphone for podcasting as all you’ll be doing is talking (no need to account for instruments). For this, we recommend the Yeti Nano USB microphone. This mic will give you broadcast-quality vocals, along with plug-and-play capabilities. This mic is easy to use and easy to set up, which makes it perfect for podcasting.
Monitors or Headphones?
Lastly, one question you’ll have to answer is whether to use studio monitors or headphones for your recording space. While one isn’t clearly better than the other for home recordings, they do come with their own pros and cons. homerecordinglab.com‘s feature on the pros and cons of mixing with headphones details that headsets are more practical for home studio use. There are many headphones available for every budget, with models like the Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Studio Headphones being both affordable (but not budget-end), while also producing high quality sound. This option is also better if you share your living space with other people who may find it a nuisance if you blast music out on studio monitors at unreasonable hours.
You won’t really have to make this choice if you’re looking to record podcasts. Monitors are, for the most part, a bad idea when it comes to podcasting as they may interfere with the actual recording. To add to this, using monitors won’t really be necessary as you won’t be needing to tweak too much of the audio for podcast recordings beyond making them sound clear and intelligible.
If you found this article interesting and want some other home tips, you may also like our piece on how to be more presentable on video con calls. You can find that article, along with many others at socalmag.com!
I’m a big fan of Willy Porter and was thrilled to get to watch him perform at the renowned McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. From the first note, Willy Porter, a contemporary American rock musician and singer-songwriter from Mequon, Wisconsin, had his audience mesmerized. Porter has a unique finger-picking, guitar thumping-slapping-hammer-on style, uses tunings of all manners, and sometimes even places two capos on his fret board at once. The magical tone of his guitar and his soulful lyrics mixed in with his heartwarming humor make his show something pretty damn special. At one point, on strumming his guitar, Porter pointed out that all the other stringed instruments hanging on the walls of McCabe’s were resonating. It’s called Synchronized Resonance or Sympathetic Vibrations. I love that, as I think “sympathetic vibrations” describes Porter’s music and his being quite succinctly.
As Porter performs you feel like you’re hanging with a good friend. A warm, sincere, decent fellow that you cherish as a rare find. His music wraps you in a loving blanket that invites you to relax and join in.
After talking about the importance of good stewardship of mother earth, he invited the audience to sing along to “Akasha Winds”, a song penned by L.J. Booth. The song is included on Mnemonic, Porter’s latest CD. Not that Porter usually does cover songs, he’s a prolific songwriter, with 12 CD’s released. He makes songwriting appear easy, so easy in fact, that he co-write a song on the spot with the audience. “Call out some ideas”, he encouraged. We ended up with a song that included the words: hitchhiking, Ramen noodles, cheese curds, kittens, hypocrisy and folk alliance. Tricky words to slip into a song, but Porter did it artfully while making us all laugh.
Porter was described to me as: not only a consummate musician, but one of the most genuine, truly wonderful people on the planet, who performs molecule-rearranging shows. Now, doesn’t that sound like someone you’d like to hangout with? Well, you can because Willy will be leading a tour to Ireland in August 2020 (bring your instruments) – you can find more info on that at www.willyporter.com You can also find Porter’s most requested guitar tunings at his site. How cool is that!
I got to ask Willy some questions and below are his answers – enjoy!
1) Your guitar sounds so full and rich. What guitar are you using and how many different tunings are you dealing with?
I’m currently playing a Jason Kostal 6-String. It is a remarkable instrument for its overall tonal balance, intonation and playability. I tune down a whole step, D to D, then open-tune from there. So a very familiar open-tuning fro many guitarists, “DADGAD” for me is CGCFGC. From there I’ll use a lot of different variations on Bb, F, and combine open-tunings with partial capos, etc. I use medium gauge strings (.013-.56), so the really low tunings are still fairly stable to work with. I’ll go through about 6 or 7 different tunings in the course of a night, but it all depends on where the night goes musically.
2) How old were you when you first picked up a guitar?
I started playing when I was 12.
3) What’s your craziest on stage experience?
Sound-checking in Texas while Paul Simon was on-stage watching and asking me questions about what I was doing was probably the craziest moment for me.
4) What song of yours is your favorite?
The one I just finished, whatever that might be. I do like to play “Bears Ears &The Great Law” a lot these days though.
5) Which musician would you go to see perform if you could (dead or alive)?
6) Has your songwriting style changed over the years, and how many CD’s do you have available to date?
I think I’m more patient with the process of writing than I was when I started. Some music takes a long time to write, other songs happen very, very quickly. Through time and effort I’ve learned to let that process be what it is in the moment.
7) If you were interviewing you, what question would you ask? I’d ask “When was the moment that music really spoke to you for the first time?” And it was hearing my dad play the piano.
8) What’s next for you?
I’m looking forward to working and writing with drummer Dave Schoepke and bassist Eric Madunic. We’ve had fun as a trio and I think we have some nice musical terrain ahead of us. I’m excited to see where the music might take us.
Photo Credits: Cover photo by Leeann Flynn
Insert B&W photo by Mark Waite
The official start of the solstice was less than a week ago and the term summer is more than just a season these days! It’s also used as a synonym to describe a mood. A good playlist can make those longer days and shorter nights seem like moments of bliss, and one of the songs that should be added to the soundtrack of 2019 is rising country/pop crossover songstress Julia Rizik’s newest single, Love Myself.
It immediately draws you in with a heavy downbeat and sultry vocals from the young maven that hails from the state of Arizona and now resides in Los Angeles. Rizik wrote the song to appeal across the board for all genders, races, and religions and it’s about empowerment and accepting the skin you are in. The catchy hook will have you busting out impromptu concerts whether you are riding down the coast with the top down in a car full of friends or a solo concert in the shower trying to avoid soap from getting into your eyes!
“My songwriting is inspired by all sorts of things. I play both guitar and piano and mostly write songs about experiences that I am going through in my personal life. I was bullied a lot and music was the one thing that got me through.I want listeners to know that this music comes from a really personal space, and I hope that they relate to it and connect with it as much as I do,” shared Rizik.
While this is her first pop single, Julia Rizik is no stranger to the world of music. She has appeared on the festival circuit at such events as Country Thunder and Stagecoach in the last year. Her first independent country single “Medicine” (2017) which she co-wrote and co-produced got noticed by Spotify and made their New Music Nashville Playlist. Country music is where she got her start, but she is ready to trade in her boots for stilettos and kick the door of popular music in.
“I transitioned into pop music very organically. It was not a forced transition at all. I started producing my own music about six to seven months ago, and the sounds I wanted to hear when I was creating these tracks were pop. On my new song, Love Myself, my fans can expect a lot more confidence and security in my lyrics. I have written a lot of songs about heartbreak, but on this track, I wanted to send listeners a message of hope and self-love,” shared Rizik, who plans to release a full pop EP of the same name later this Summer.
If those tracks are anything like Love Myself, than we can’t wait to fall in love with this new pop princess on the rise.
Left: Leon Hendrix, Jimmy Hendrix’s younger brother and Randy Hanson
Legendary writer/photographer Belissa Cohen goes psychedelic to experience L.A.’s hidden gem of an “immersive art park,” Downtown L.A.’s Wisdome
If you haven’t yet been to downtown L.A.’s Wisdome, we suggest putting it on your nightlife bucket list, and maybe stock up on your favorite psychedelics beforehand.
Called an “immersive art park,” this enormous 35,000 sqare foot space houses a collection of five huge interconnecting domes, one of which hosts nearly continuous showings of a 360 degree short film called Samskara by innovative experimental artist Android Jones. The other domes host other immersive art installations, live music events in 10.1 surround sound, and are surrounded by a commodius grassy outdoor area for hanging out on glorious summer nights with bars, ethnic food and drink purveyors, and trinket vendors selling wares of a vaguely spiritual nature — it’s the whole enchilada in one place, with enchiladas. It’s both comfortable and hella trippy!
We experienced the Wisdome when Randy Hanson, who is considered arguably the best of the Jimi Hendrix tribute performers among those in the know about such things, did the first of his spot-on two-night performances in the largest of the Wisdomes, while psychedelic art in the form of constantly morphing mandala images were projected on the walls and ceiling of the dome, and many audience members took in the multimedia show from reclining seats. Like them, we found ourselves gazing ceiling-ward during the show, mesmerized, as the images changed organically, all the while absorbed in the expertly executed music.Randy, who is in demand all over the world for his Jimi Hendrix realness, and is, like Jimi, a Seattle native, played and sang all the hits note for note, from “Foxy Lady” to “Purple Haze” to the Bob Dylan-penned “All Along the Watchtower,” on what just so happened to be Dylan’s birthday.
As happens in L.A., we found ourselves Ubering to the Wisdome with the famous-adjacent: Leon Hendrix, Jimi’s younger brother and an edgy blues musician in his own right, who sang with Randy and his band very appropriately on “Castles Made of Sand,” a song Jimi had penned back in the day about his family’s dysfunction. Leon’s own show the very next weekend at The Mint in West L.A. was a sold out success.
The world-renowned Randy Hanson brings his Jimi extravaganza back to the Wisdome at the end of June. For all of us who missed Jimi’s legendary L.A. performance at the Hollywood Bowl in 1968, we now have a second chance to Be Experienced!
Gary Numan at BLUE DOT FESTIVAL UK: Photo LEANNE BOLGER LEANNEBOLGER.COM
Gary Numan – Iconic British new wave singer/songwriter/recording artist and record producer, has had a career spanning 5 decades, and he’s still going strong.
Numan recently released “Savage: Songs from a Broken World” – a new album contemplating a world devastated by climate change.
Catch him in concert during his “Savage European/US Autumn Tour”.
If you reside in Los Angeles, you can see Gary Numan perform at the Fonda Theatre on October 6th.
Visit his website for more info, or buy tickets here.
SoCal Magazine’s Niki Smart caught up with Gary Numan for a quick interview.
Dennis Morris told me that you were once detained in Russia for accidentally flying over military airspace (or something along those lines) – can you tell us a little more about that experience?
GN: It was in India actually. I was put under house arrest in India on suspicion of smuggling and spying in 1981 when flying around the world in my own little airplane. The smuggling charge was based on the fact that I was wearing two watches at the time. I did try to point out that flying my own airplane all the way to India to smuggle one cheap watch was a bit pointless, they didn’t seem to get that unfortunately. The spying charge came about because apparently we had flown over a Russian submarine base North of where we landed, which we had no idea existed until they told us. They then kept us for four days in a place on the beach (not as nice as it sounds) and the other rooms were all filled with Russian families, presumably from the base we’d supposedly been spying on. It was like being in a Keystone Cops movie but for real. They then blamed me for the rules they were following as they said they were left over from the days of the British Empire. So it was all my fault apparently
Your career has impressive longevity with numerous hit songs. Do you have a favorite—and why?
GN: Favorites change depending on mood to be honest but a song on the new Savage album called My Name Is Ruin is a big favorite because my daughter Persia sings on it with me. She joins us on stage when school allows and sings with us all over the world as well. I love that.
What’s the best thing about being Gary Numan?
GN: I get to do live my life the way I choose to for the most part, not the way I have to. If I wake up and it’s a beautiful day, I don’t have to work, it’s up to me. That freedom is very special to me.
What’s the worst thing about being Gary Numan?
GN: My touring work takes me away from my children for months at a time. That’s a real problem for me. Apart from that though there is no ‘worst’ thing. I love my life. I love living in Los Angeles, being in a band, I’ve been happily married to Gemma for 21 years and my children are all healthy. I have no complaints.
What do you have coming up that you’d like our readers to know about?
GN:I have a show at The Fonda on October 6th, which I’m very excited about, plus a special edition version of the Savage album coming out in late October
And I know this is a bit of a curve ball but…do you have any thoughts on climate change?
GN: The Savage album is all about a world devastated by climate change, so yes, I have lots of thoughts about it. I believe it’s very real, very dangerous and I could hardly believe it when Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Accord. It was a level of ignorance that was hard to fathom.
Amidst cheers and applause, British R&B singer, Seal strolled confidently on stage and, right off the bat, began charming the audience with his soulful rendition of “Luck be a Lady”. Welcome to a new side of Seal and his tenth studio album “Standards”. This is an album that Seal has always wanted to make because he grew up listening to music from the rat pack era, and for him, recording these classic tunes has been a lifelong dream. Seal said “It was a true honor to collaborate with the same musicians who performed with Frank Sinatra and so many of my favorite artists, in the very same studios where the magic was first made – it was one of the greatest days of my recording career.”
Who knew that Seal was a crooner? Well, he is, and a mighty fine one at that. His voice is rich, velvety and flawless, his style is sassy, his look debonair, and this man can handle a room – or should I say a bowl? Bending down to sing to the ladies in the front and shaking people’s hands, Seal utilized the entire stage, the catwalk strip, and even ventured off stage altogether to further flirt with the audience.
Between songs, his laid back banter made him even cooler. Listening to him, one gets the feeling that this is a man who is sincere and has a gentle, generous spirit. He jokingly told the audience, “Hello Los Angeles, well I know most of the people here, yeah, you guys all hit me up for tickets.”
Things got a little more serious when Seal talked about a recent bout of depression and recanted a day when he listened to “That’s Life” at full volume. “It helped” he quipped, and proceeded to perform the song with the magic of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra behind him, conducted by Thomas Wilkins. Seal likened playing with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra to driving a Rolls Royce. He clearly loved the material he was performing and who he was performing it with.
Halfway through the show, Seal announced that a very special guest was in the house; someone who had, in part, been responsible for him being a musician. It turned out to be none other than Joni Mitchell, and as the cameras swung around to find the icon seated in the audience, Seal got everyone to sing the line: “paved paradise, put up a parking lot.”
Towards the end of his show, Seal broke out his hit songs “Kiss from a Rose”, and “Crazy”, and last but not least, invited his 8-year-old daughter up on stage to play piano for a short performance of “Superstition”. For an encore, it was “Rebel Rebel” to honor the late David Bowie. No matter what style: classics, pop, rock, ballads, covers – Seal handles them all with vibrant, powerful vocals and ebullient showmanship. Seal is the real deal.
Antonio “KANIN” White has released his newest single, “All Hail (Freestyle)”, a track specifically created to deliver Kanin’s message of solidarity with true hip-hop. Kanin says, “This is a proclamation of me arriving into the rap game, ready for war and battle with any artist or rapper who uses today’s lame gimmicks and so called rap styles. I come from an era and background where we take pride in our words and lyrics and so ‘All Hail’ is a representation of this. It’s to saying, ‘I’m not your new age mumble rapper, I am a writer and a poet with a message and that message is Real is Back’.“
This will be Kanin’s first release since his previous hit record, “All Eyes On Me”. Kanin originally came to notoriety after collaborating with Grammy Award winning superstar, Kendrick Lamar, for his track “Winner Circle” from Kanin’s Old School New Sense EP.
As for the “All Hail (Freestyle)” video concept, it’s a nod to an old YouTube parody by a digital personality named “Supa Hot Fire”. The setting of Supa Hot Fire’s videos revolved around “pretend rap battles” with a staged crowd that supported any verse he would say, even if it was absolutely horrible. The idea is to compare this parody to today’s “modern” rappers that are trending from gimmicks. Video Producer, Saul Luzeus of Good Vibe Crew, felt like it would be the perfect visual concept to match the message in the song, “All Hail, Kanin is here.”
“All Hail (Freestyle)” is available on all musical platforms including, Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, and Google Play. The video is available on Kanin’s official YouTube channel.
Rugby Wild of the independent record label, Good Vibe Crew, is releasing his newest single, “Avenue”, as a nod to hip-hop in the Spring. This mellow, head-nodding track serves as the perfect tune for vibing out no matter what coast you’re on. Rugby Wild says, “Avenue is my idea of a perfect day where it seems like nothing matters.” Coming off the success of his earlier releases like “Scuffs”, “Chevy”, and “Topanga”, Rugby Wild wanted to release a track that would seamlessly carry through the Spring season and have his followers ready for a Summer anthem.
Along with the single’s release is a music video that helps capture the essence of “Avenue” and showcase Rugby Wild’s personal energy through a city backdrop with his friends. Filmed in Newark, NJ, the visual offers a glimpse into Rugby’s life and how he and his friends would typically hang out in the streets of the East Coast.
“Avenue” releases on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 and can be streamed on all musical platforms including, Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and Google Play. The video will be available on Rugby Wild’s official VEVO channel on May 1st.