411 Music Group was founded in 2012 for writers by writers and has grown into an international music brand. 411 provides synchronization licensing, custom music, music directors, curated playlists, online and offline databases, and publishing services for music rights holders. The team strives to raise the bar within the audio/visual community by adding unique artists to the roster and developing forward-thinking models for brands and production companies. The 130+ genre-specific composers write music for brands, TV shows, films, trailers, video games, and interactive media.
Formed in 2010 by the coalescing of a Venice music collective, The Mowgli’s began as a 10+ member group playing house parties and warehouse gatherings.
The release of their first major-label LP Waiting For The Dawn in 2013 saw immediate success with the hit single San Francisco. The record - which focused on the joy of bringing people together -immediately connected in a cynical world. The band quickly found themselves playing to sold out crowds in clubs around the US and inundated by requests for press, sponsorships and partnerships. Appearances at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Firefly, Osheaga, Bottlerock and many other festivals followed as did performances on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, CONAN and a stint as the SXSW House band for Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live (Bravo) The follow up LP, 2015’s Kids in Love (which spawned the feel-good single "I’m Good") saw the band explore personal relationships including their own inter-band ones, and their third LP Where’d Your Weekend Go? which came in the fall of 2016, often found the band working on songs together from their very inception - giving much of the record a relaxed and communal feeling. Always with a mission to bring hope and positivity into the world, The Mowgli’s have been involved with numerous charities including The IRC, Heal The Bay, Happy Bottoms and many food banks and homeless shelters.
WASI’s music and vigor is an invitation into their utopia of love, liberation and a questioning of the status quo. They’ve built a following based on their contagious live energy and anthemic indie/alt songwriting.
Influenced by the pop tenderness of Tegan and Sara with the rebellion of The Clash, they draw influence from the west coast underground punk scene, late night dance clubs and hip hop production. Their anthemic songs speak of their experiences as Outsiders and owning your voice in a cloudy world.
Their debut album RIOT POP speaks the stream of conscious honesty of a rebel who also fights to love themselves. RIOT POP drops June 7, 2019.
“The group is well-equipped to be a part of the resistance, providing sounds and solace for young people coming into their own, just as music had helped them before.” – Billboard
Taylor Scott is an international touring guitarist and singer/songwriter based in Denver, Colorado. He has consistently toured all over the US, Canada, and Europe with both the Taylor Scott Band and trance-blues legend Otis Taylor. In 2015, he played alongside the likes of Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers, Gov't Mule) on Otis' critically acclaimed release, "Hey Joe Opus: Red Meat." The Taylor Scott Band, based in Denver, is an original rock & roll band heavily influenced by funk and soul music. 2018 will bring the release of a new album from the band featuring Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) as producer and guest appearances by Henry Garza (Los Lonely Boys) and others. Here is a word on the music:
"Heavily influenced by soul, funk, blues, and rock & roll, Taylor Scott's music is gaining a reputation for transcending the limitations of a single genre. His diversely influenced rock & roll group, The Taylor Scott Band, is a high-powered extension of this mélange of sounds."
After I was dropped from Warner Bros Records in 2016, I was faced with an unexpected existential crisis; How was I, Greg Holden, — the artist with enough gall to write his own press-release — any different from the thousands of cliché-ridden white male singer-songwriters out galavanting in the world today?
My knee-jerk reaction was that I wasn’t, and I started preparing myself for a life-shattering return home to England, tail between my legs, armed with a few good stories to tell my mates on Quiz night back in old Blighty.
So I did what any self-respecting artist would do and Googled myself for some positive reinforcement. I realized that what has and always will separate me from the pack is that I am breathtakingly handsome. Okay, maybe that’s not it. What I realized is that the most successful songs in my career to date were written either for a special cause or ended up being used in a special cause. They were the songs I’d written without ever considering how well they’d sell, or in 2019 language how many Spotify streams they would garner. Forgive the outlandish arrogance and cringe-worthy Zuckerberg-esque tone, but I realized that my best songs had quite literally helped people. The ironic part was, I hadn’t actually meant to do that at all.
By accident, “The Lost Boy” raised €80,000 for The Red Cross and ended up helping to — if in just a small way — build schools in Africa. I wrote “Boys in the Street” for Everyone Is Gay, an organization supporting the LGBTQ youth community, a creation that Tom Hanks of Turner & Hooch fame dubbed “the perfect song”. An unbelievable compliment that pulled me from the depths of hell in 2016 and provided me with a very obnoxious name drop opportunity in times of insecurity. “Home”, made famous-enough by Phillip Phillips after he won American Idol with it, has been used by countless organizations and charities over the years. There are more examples, but I’m sure I’ve sufficiently annoyed you with my excessive hubris.
So, after 10-minutes of Googling myself, I decided my intentions were pure enough to make me somewhat unique and would give my 4th studio album a go after all…
‘World War Me’ was inspired by the Great Existential Crisis of 2016, and written during the Great Existential Crises of 2017 & 2018. The songs came during a time where I was quite literally at war with myself, and to an extent, those around me. I had moved my entire life from New York to Los Angeles for my label/career, and months later it was falling apart. Now what? What was the point in making another record after I was just crowned the most anti-climactic signing in Warner Bros history? Can I really go through all that again? I am even good at this? Do I even want to do this??
I decided to make matters worse and record ‘World War Me’ myself.
I recorded all but “On The Run” — recorded by legendary producer & singer-songwriter Butch Walker — in my home studio in Los Angeles, and wrote most of it with one of my best friends, the incomparable singer-songwriter Garrison Starr.
I realize now that the record was born the day after Donald Trump was elected. We were both crushed. Myself as an immigrant, and Garrison as a gay woman, we were like the triple threat of Trump’s worst nightmares. I felt Garrison’s pain so much more though, as she felt like her own country had just abandoned her.
We sat in a cold Green Room in eastern Germany, practically in tears, and hummed out the melody of what would become “I’m Not Your Enemy”. We finished it hungover the next afternoon and played it to an arena of 10,000 people that evening. We were off to the races…
Upon our return home we immediately wrote “Chase The Money”, “Nothing Changes” — the song that seems to encompass the central theme of the record — and “What I Deserve”, based on my acquirement of a beautiful house in Los Angeles, and perhaps my overall disbelief that my life was actually happening.
I wrote “The Power Shift” to liberate some of my extreme anger towards the maddening news I was voluntarily injecting each morning, and then “Temptation” was birthed from the residual anger left over from “The Power Shift”. The unidentical twins of the album if you like…
“Something Beautiful” manifested itself when I realized I was putting way too much negative energy out into the universe, and that was the last thing the world needed more of. My co-writer and friend Richard Harris helped coax out the 3rd single from the album, and what would be the voice of reason on a pretty humorless set of songs.
I am incredibly proud of what I have achieved personally during the making of this album. Despite the fact that I am still a cliché-ridden, male singer-songwriter, I believe that people will be able to at least relate to ‘World War Me’. I have no idea if it will help them or not, but I turned the vocals up pretty loud so at least I know they’ll hear me.
“I wasn’t trying to help people before, and I’m not trying now. People can only help themselves, which is what I realized in the making of this record.”
- Greg Holden
‘World War Me’ comes out through BMG on March 29th, 2019. The day The United Kingdom is due to divorce the E.U. Coincidence? Absolutely.
On a cold New York January winter evening in 2013, Pat Via and Mitch Mitchell had not yet met, but were making their way separately through the snow covered West Village streets to a gallery opening on Jane Street, never expecting the twist of fate the night would unveil. Once there, Pat was making the rounds, clad in downtown black from head to toe, weaving through the crowd, whiskey in hand, with one eye on the art and the other on the Soho amazons gathered there that night, when a friend offered to introduce him to a fellow musician, Mitchell C. Mitchell, who was boisterously holding court in a back corner of the gallery, his face hidden beneath a fedora and a mane of unruly hair, his neon colored fingernails weaving nimbly through the air as he spoke.
The two immediately hit it off, debating the rumor that Rock and Roll was officially dead, Bach concertos, girls wearing miniskirts in winter, and other such things one discusses on the way to the bottom of a bottle. As they parted ways that night, they agreed that Rock was very much still alive and just needed a swift kick in the ass to get it going again, so they arranged to meet for a jam session the following day, and January Jane was born.
Things progressed quickly from there and they began playing shows around NYC and recorded their first EP. A few months after they released their “No More Last Times” EP, another New York City night cast its spell and delivered yet another surprise, when after wrapping up a show they were invited to a private gathering at a loft in the Meat Packing District: As they walked through the door they heard the sound of a piano rising from the center of a crowd that had gathered in a circle around the source of the music. They were immediately drawn in, and pushed their way past the pack to the grand piano in the center of the room, where they saw Peter Scialla manning the keys from within the eye of the hurricane. Peter seemed to sense their presence and looked up briefly from his keyboard, waving them over, before returning his gaze to the black and white keys in front of him. As the night progressed and they made their way through another bottle, singing and playing together to the impromptu crowd, they all realized they had found the missing piece, and Peter became part of January Jane.
Since then, the band hasn’t stopped, signing a deal with Whiskey Vinyl Records, recording tracks in Los Angeles and NY for their soon to be released full length debut, and gearing up for a tour later this year.
Do you suck at piano?
Is there someone you know who just isn’t as good as they say they are? Do you wish that there was an instructional piano book for adults that pulled no punches, told it like it is, and wasn’t afraid to put you in your place?
This, my piano flunkies, is your book. For all of you people who used to take piano lessons and are thinking of “getting back into it”, You Suck at Piano is your jam. For those of you who wish you could crank out a simple tune… You Suck at Piano will get you there.
The key is honesty. Learning to play the piano is difficult, folks. And most piano books lie to you. They say “you can do it!” when in fact you’re not so sure you actually CAN do it.
You Suck at Piano takes a different approach. It’s a brutally honest and fun method to improve your piano skills, complete with 50 arrangements of famous piano pieces, irreverent comic strips about the composers and the terrible lives they led, and cocktail recipes to drown all of your piano related frustrations.
Dr. Joel Pierson
Composer and jazz pianist Joel Pierson has worked with artists of great repute (The Kronos Quartet, The Houston Symphony), & artists of not-so great repute (Wayne Newton, Ke$ha). As a pianist, Joel has performed on all seven continents (yes, even Antarctica) and has shared the stage with the New York Philharmonic. As a songwriter, Joel was signed to Warner Brothers Records and has written and performed with artists like Linkin Park, Father John Misty, and My Chemical Romance.
Joel’s symphonic arrangements have been performed by over 20 symphony orchestras, including Atlanta, Toronto, Cleveland, & The Philly Pops. Joel has been commissioned by the Kronos Quartet, and won second place in the New York Philharmonic’s New World Initiative Composition Competition. He wrote additional music for the 2013 film The Internship, and is Musical Director The Queen's Cartoonists (www.thequeenscartoonists.com), a jazz band dedicated to the preservation and performance of music from classic cartoons. Joel has been featured in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, McSweeney’s, The Chicago Tribune, and the CBS Evening News. He has a doctoral degree in music composition from the University of Maryland, a masters degree in jazz piano from New York University, and a bachelor’s degree in classical piano from Westmont College. Joel lives in Queens and maintains an active performing and teaching schedule in New York City.
Jack Mosbacher has always had music in his heart, but it took enduring one of the most painful experiences of his life to begin writing his own.
A veteran of the jazz and cabaret scenes in New York, Jack was preparing for his first headlining show in San Francisco when one of his oldest friends was killed in an accident. He was inspired to write his own music for the first time, hoping to provide something for the community affected by the unthinkable loss. He quickly realized that his sudden urge to write songs was just as much for his own healing as it was for others. It was the only way he could cheer himself up.
“I started making music in earnest in some really dark moments in my life,” Jack explains. “For some people, that might manifest into songs about pain and loss. For some reason, I instinctively wanted to make music that would cheer people up, make people happy; make people dance; make people hopeful.”
In the years that have followed, the singer-songwriter has been living up to his goal of being a beacon of light in a dark world. His brand of retro soul is uplifting and joyous. He’s had his music played at weddings and at wakes, but now he’s ready to begin a new chapter in his career. And with a new chapter comes a new name.
Although Jack is still the mastermind behind this project, he wanted the focus to be less on him and more on the music he was making. Hailing from the Bay Area, he searched for a moniker that stood for his hometown and came up with Kezar, taken from San Francisco’s iconic Kezar Stadium in the Haight-Ashbury district – the original home of his beloved 49ers that still stands today, and a music venue that played host to some of Jack’s favorite bands, including Led Zeppelin, Santana, Tower of Power, and the Grateful Dead.
As Kezar, Jack wanted to take his music in a new direction while staying true to the uplifting nature of his sound. And there’s no better feel-good music than pop, a genre Jack’s always wanted to tap into but never felt he possessed the right resources and tools to do so. One fateful day, he met manager Brad Margolis, who introduced him to a couple of producers that specialize in pop: Nitzan Kaikov (K-Kov) and Jeoff Harris.
With K-Kov producing Grammy-nominated albums for Keith Urban and sharing producer credits with Justin Timberlake, Jack knew he was in good hands. From the first day in the studio, the California native made his vision clear: he told the producers he wanted to find a sound that Berry Gordy would sign if he was starting Motown today. He wanted to make hook-dependent, danceable, fun music. He wanted romance, he wanted joy. He wanted to make music that could help people escape their worries, even if just for a few minutes.
“I’ve always tried to pack as much joy into every measure of my music as I can,” Jack admits. “I didn’t want to lose that by going in a new direction, but I knew for some reason that I really wanted to make a true pop record. I finally met people who were willing to bet on me and give me their time and talent to help make it happen.”
While soul is still the backbone of Kezar’s music, it incorporates a wide array of sounds. Using state-of-the-art synthesizer technology, he and the producers added throwback elements from hip-hop’s glory days, like the big 808 drum machines on Run-DMC and NWA records and stacked backing vocals and bass synths reminiscent of the 2000’s Hyphy Movement – homages to Mac Dre, Mistah F.A.B., Keak da Sneak, and Traxamillion. On top, he injected the tracks with the rock-leaning pop sensibility of his hometown heroes Train and contemporary pop influences like Bruno Mars, Sam Smith and Shawn Mendes. The result is a collection of songs that range from sensual, slow-burning R&B jams to funk-laden pop earworms. Partnered for live performances with drummer James Small (Fantastic Negrito), it is obvious that the duo’s sound is defined by the marriage of Jack’s sunny San Francisco pop and Small’s heavier-hitting Oakland rhythm and blues.
“The possibilities of what you can do with people who possess this kind of technical skill and composition talent is really limitless,” Jack says of K-Kov and Harris. “It’s like a sculptor looking at big piece of marble and realizing, ‘I can literally shape this into anything.’ And you have to figure out a way to carve out something that feels both new and true to you.”
Although the way in which this project was created couldn’t be more foreign to Jack—he’s used to writing a song and then recording it with a group of musicians in a big studio, rather than creating everything in a studio between two people—the process has made him more open-minded to new sounds and, quite frankly, a better songwriter.
“This feels as much like me, if not more so, than the music I’ve made in the past,” the singer-songwriter says without hesitation. “I love pop music, I just never knew how to make it. What I’ve found is that if you know who you are and what you’re trying to do going in, then regardless of your influences and methods, the result will sound like you. That’s the thing I’m most proud of with this music: it’s a completely new sound for me, but it feels genuine to who I am, and I think it is a big step forward for me as an artist and as a human.”
With these new tools, the sky’s the limit for Jack—as Kezar or otherwise. And this is just the beginning.
No matter the form, when it comes to art, there are a number of different tacks to take. Some artists continually push their work across new horizons. Neil Young, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Joni Mitchell come to mind, in that regard. Others —Claude Monet, Jason Isbell, and Bonnie Raitt, among them —stand a bit more still in order to continually refine the capturing of their vision. Singer/songwriter Peter Bradley Adams falls into the latter category of perfectionists chasing their own perfection. With A Face Like Mine, he may well have caught it.
There's a confidence, a completeness in the song cycle that listeners have gleaned throughout Adams' illustrious career, but A Face Like Mine, his sixth solo effort, brings it all into sharp focus. As Adams sees it, “On the long plod of finding my voice as a singer and a writer, the singing has slowly developed from the sound of a scared guy to someone who believes what he's saying and the writing, I hope, has become less rigid —both in the lyrics and the phrasing.”
Less rigid, indeed. Adams' brand of Americana nestles his often delicate, always heartfelt voice in the warm embrace of gentle guitar, tasteful dobro, subtle banjo, supportive bass, and unhurried percussion. The result is a sonic scape that, in turn, wraps itself around the listener like a soft blanket on a cold day. With A Face Like Mine, Adams further refines the simple musical sophistication that has become his trademark.
Throughout the self-produced set, Adams tells tales of love and loss, homes and hearts. The territory he mines is a deliberate mix of fact and fantasy. “I feel like I'm, firstly, a storyteller, but it's inevitable that my own stuff gets in there deep. And it's funny how, sometimes, I don't realize it until the song is done,” he offers. “At the same time, there are times where I take very directly from an experience or a relationship, but I try to be very careful when that happens. I don't want to ever sound like a journal entry.”
Regardless of the details, there's always a philosophical bent that is often more under than on the surface, firmly grounding Adams' songs even as they stretch outward. By his own admission, Adams is a seeker who spends considerable time wrestling with matters of faith, though he's the first to admit he doesn't have any real answers. “I honestly don't know what the hell I'm doing... nor do I have the language for any of this stuff,” he says with a laugh. “But there is a constant tug on me in that direction and, the older I get, the more present it becomes. Music can often be the most direct way to step into that river.”
That seeker's heart is the tie that so often binds these songs together. Whether the search for place and purpose is of a spiritual or geographical nature, few writers capture the journey as thoughtfully as Adams. An Alabama native, Adams says he feels most comfortable in motion and doesn't have a strong sense of being Southern, even though his music is rooted in that world in so many ways. The first verse of the album's mesmerizing lead track, “Good Man,” exemplifies his plight: “This old house is falling down. Every step I take makes a hollow sound. Should I walk away? Should I push on through? What in the world can a good man do?”
Even as Adams goes on to sing of “laughing eyes with a touch of grey” and walking “a mile across the kitchen floor” in order to set various scenes, he leaves room for the listener to crawl inside his stories and make them their own. Striking that balance is the songwriter's eternal struggle, but one Adams seems to have mastered after years of toiling on his own and collaborating with co-writers like Kim Richey, Caitlin Canty, and Todd Lombardo.
“I don't think I'm very good at co-writing because my process seems so weird and long and tedious to me,” Adams confides. “It's hard to allow someone into that space, but there a few folks where our sensibilities are aligned and we're not just trying to bang out a song in a day. I want to feel as close to the songs I co-write as the ones I write alone. Writers like Kim Richey have such an economy and depth to the ideas that come out of their mouths and hands —there's wisdom there. I want to be more like that.”
In addition to this release, Adams is currently putting his classical composition studies to work on a piece for violin and piano —an aspect of his craft and education that got set aside somewhere along the way to now. “I've wondered a lot why I spent all that time studying music in school and how my composer that fits in with or hinders my songwriting,” he says. “Some of it was definitely useless to me, then and now. But some of it has left its mark on how I listen, and how I think of arranging songs, and how I communicate with players who are playing on them. Also, writing in such an extremely simple and constrained musical language makes all your choices much more delicate, so I spend a lot of time crafting even the simplest melody.”
A Face Like Mine's songs were composed all over the world, from Alabama to India, and they dig into topics are disparate as the desperation of addiction (“Lorraine”), the grappling of self-image (“Who Else Could I Be”), the vitriol of politics (“We Are”), and the genetics of suffering (“A Face Like Mine”). “We Are” and “Who Else Could I Be” were originally written for a dance piece that Gina Patterson choreographed for the San Angelo Civic Ballet. Even so, Adams made sure the songs could stand alone in their own world no matter what else was swirling around them —confidence and completeness in action.
As a work of musical art, A Face Like Mine fulfills the promise of Peter Bradley Adams. And rarely has an artist's standing still sounded so divine.
Cooper and Gatlin Green are a brother and sister pop duo from Franklin, Tennessee, a quaint town outside of Nashville known for being the perfect combination of small town meets big city. Spend some time around these two and their fondness for each other is evident. It comes through with a playful, needling energy you’d expect from an older brother-younger sister dynamic. Having grown up hanging around their dad’s studio and touring with their mom, they both knew they wanted to do music from a young age.
The family moved to Los Angeles in 2014 and Cooper and Gatlin have spent the past several years honing their craft as songwriters and musicians and perfecting their sound, which draws on their various disparate influences ranging from The Kooks and Nickel Creek (Cooper) to Kevin Garrett and Norah Jones (Gatlin). By forging their inspirations, the duo recently wrote a batch of new left-of- center pop songs that include their electronic-meets-acoustic debut single “Break.”
For a few years, Joshua Zimmerman couldn’t bring himself to listen to his band’s most recent album. Enemies Multiply – the Silent Comedy LP he and Jeremiah, his brother and longtime bandmate, had written and recorded several years ago – felt too personal, too raw to engage with. Born of a rough patch in the Zimmerman brothers’ personal and professional lives, listening to it felt like rubbing salt in healed wounds. Despite the brothers collectively viewing the album as some of their best work in the decade-plus they’d been a band, the project was shelved.
Then the 2016 election happened.
“And suddenly, at that moment,” while living in New York City and feeling bewildered and frustrated at the country’s new reality, “I realized the feeling of this moment was what we wrote this music for,” Joshua recalls. A certain pall and desperation had settled over the country in the days and week after the election and, in Joshua’s estimation, the album now had widespread cultural resonance. “At this particular moment in U.S. history I felt like a lot more people could take comfort in the songs than ever before,” Joshua notes of the 11-track LP that at long last is set for release on October 19th. Jeremiah concurred: “For the first time ever I just want people to hear it and have it.”
Recorded in Austin, Texas, Enemies Multiply is sonically a big-boned, bruising affair. The brothers channeled an admittedly confusing time of conflict in their lives — as well as the previous perilous years leading up to it, characterized by what Josh describes as “being jerked around by the music industry” — into their most impassioned, hard-hitting, and thoroughly engaging album of their career. Standing at the center is “Sharks Smell Blood,” all bluesy strut, spooky choirboy harmonies and sing-along hook. Likewise, “Avalanche” is framed around a searing guitar line and squelching church organ. Like the album itself, and the band’s own views on it, “that song evolved over time. I’ve loved it in every incarnation it went through, but when I listen to how it ended up I really feel that’s the pinnacle of all of that work,” Joshua explains. Even “No Saints Forgiven,” which begins as a back porch delta-blues confessional, quickly explodes into a Van Halen-esque sing-along at the chorus.
But it’s the messages in the songs – namely combating malevolence by banding together with likeminded people – that compelled the Silent Comedy to finally release the album. As children, after traveling the globe with their missionary parents only to return to the United States, meander some more, then settle down in San Diego in a house with literally nothing but an upright piano, the two brothers looked to musical collaboration in their mid-teens as a cathartic outlet. “Jeremiah started writing songs, “Josh recalls. “That was kind of his way of processing everything that we’d been through. That’s really when we started writing together.” It was their traveling that also colored their worldview which, when compared to some of their peers, was decidedly darker. “It skewed our perception to see how much suffering there is in the world and how fortunate we are in the United States by comparison,” Joshua explains. “We have always had a little bit more somber view of things.” Enemies Multiply, he then adds, “is a distillation of that worldview.” Jeremiah admits the album “has a lot of stuff in there about people backstabbing each other” which caused some record labels to initially balk at releasing it. And even now, as he wishes that subject matter weren’t so applicable, “I think people are more sympathetic to that idea,” Jeremiah offers. The album, he adds, “is a journey in context.”
Though, as Joshua explains, it’s the album’s most hopeful track, the closing “Peace of Mind,” that he says now connects with him on an intensely personal level. One of the most collaborative songs he and Jeremiah ever wrote, the harmonica-drenched folk lament, on one hand, “is really about being in a desperate place and a hopeless place, but also about taking comfort in banding together.” It especially spoke to him in the past two years, particularly as the world seemed to slip further into chaos. “It still is a really emotional song to listen to and to sing,” he adds.
“All of what we have been through as a band is wrapped up in this new project,” Joshua notes of the Silent Comedy’s realization that conflicts and challenges often reveal themselves as the best source material for artistic expression. The years spent writing the material that became Enemies Multiply, according to Jeremiah, “were exhausting and it was really taking a toll on us. We were in a legitimate struggle. But all the songs started to take on a new meaning. This entire process was saturated with so much frustration and conflict. So to see something like Enemies Multiply rise out of that is awesome.”
While not always visible in plain sight, rock music has always formed the foundation of the Silent Comedy. The brothers, who were fanboys for bands like Rage Against The Machine and At The Drive-In during their teenage years, first delved into band life via joint membership in a punk and post-hardcore act. But after forming the Silent Comedy in the mid-2000’s, their early albums, including 2010’s Common Faults,, began to incorporate the folk, Americana and the blues they picked up from listening to a healthy dose of Cat Stevens and Simon and Garfunkel. Still, all throughout, their live show was centered on its rollicking, over-the-top, energy. To that end, the Zimmerman brothers felt their studio efforts needed to better match up with their live persona.
“In a way it was only a matter of time before we fully embraced our rock n’ roll roots,” Josh says. Adds Jeremiah: “The farther we kept going, we realized the stuff that was more interesting to us was the more energetic and rock-focused material. Our energy has been our biggest asset. We wanted to put that on the record.”
If the journey has felt long and at times painful, the Zimmerman brothers feel that with Enemies Multiply now set for release the ends truly do justify the means. “There’s a certain freedom to whatever happens now,” Jeremiah says. “After a while in life you start to look at the bigger picture.”
Singer, songwriter and producer Latifah Alattas opens her heart and soul with Moda Spira, a project marked by an uncommon emotional honesty and melodies brimming with tenderness. Her intimate vocals are complimented by music that wraps you in its comforting warmth and draws you into the embrace of the heart’s deep core. “In Latin, moda spira means the continual act of breathing,” Alattas says. “I began writing to explore what intimacy means, in all its beautiful and maddening aspects. There are times in relationships that are so intense, you find yourself saying, ‘Just keep breathing!’ Like loving, breathing is something you have to do everyday to feel alive. Moda Spira felt like the perfect title for this project.”
Alattas has a long resume that includes time as a solo artist and work with Page CXVI, a band that reinterprets traditional hymns, the indie rock band Autumn Film and Sola-Mi, an experimental trio. She has produced albums for indie artists, including A Boy & His Kite, helping them place “Cover Your Tracks” on the soundtrack for Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part II. Her songs have been featured on One Tree Hill, The Gates, Lifetime Films and the film The House at the End of the Street. She’s also composed incidental music for MTV and E! Moda Spira is her return to solo performing. Her sophomore release for Moda Spira is slated for October 2018.
From technology, artistry and production to design and wellness, there are few people who understand the complete spectrum of the music industry. Laura Escudé is one of these rare individuals.
Based in Los Angeles, Escudé is an artist, innovator, entrepreneur and live show designer with a deep understanding of complex technology, a profound passion for music and art and a unique talent for fusing the two. Career highlights include designing shows for Kanye West and Jay Z, opening for Miguel on his 2015 Wildheart tour and building a thriving international business populated by top-tier professionals.
But while Escudé’s life and work are dynamic, her ultimate goal is simply to inspire.
As an artist, Escudé executes this mission through music. She’s released myriad albums, singles and EPs under the name Alluxe, synthesizing her skills as a classically trained violinist and her prowess as an avant-garde electronic producer. Now making music under her own name, Escudé’s forthcoming Transmute EP is her most intimate work to date, capturing the sound and feel of a woman who’s examined the darkest parts of herself and come out the other end transformed. Escudé’s live performances are known for their sleekly futuristic style and the raw emotion Escudé elicits from her musical machines. She’s done official remixes for artists including M83 and Polica, with her violin playing featured on albums by Big Grams, Kanye West and Jay Z and many more.
Technology is a second language for Escudé, who in 2008 became the world’s first Ableton Certified Trainer. In 2012 she founded Electronic Creatives, using her skills to hire and train programmers and playback engineers for artists including Logic, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, Big Sean, Charli XCX and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The company has become a worldwide leader in the field, with Escudé now leading a staff of 15.
These creative applications of technology have made Escudé one of the world’s most in-demand live show designers. She’s brought massive productions to life for artists including Kanye West, Jay Z, Bon Iver, Missy Elliot, Herbie Hancock and television megabrand American Idol. Escudé toured extensively with these shows, collaborating with artists to create fresh, thrilling experiences for audiences worldwide.
It was while on tour that Escudé learned the challenges of staying healthy on the road. In 2016, tour burnout landed her in the hospital. She was exhausted, stressed and not sure how to get better. It was a low point that forced Escudé to take a break from work and focus on her health. This physical, mental, emotional and spiritual process involved letting go of unproductive habits and thought patterns, facing her fears and giving up everything – alcohol, touring, toxic people – that didn’t serve her. Escudé was soon not just better, but for the first time in her life truly thriving.
The experience inspired Escudé to help others, particularly live performers, optimize their own health and well-being. In 2017, she launched the Transmute Retreat, a week-long workshop incorporating yoga, meditation, nature, live performance workshops and community performances. Since its launch, Transmute has hosted dozens of artists such as AlunaGeorge at a tranquil arts center in coastal Florida.
With all she’s achieved in the realms of music and technology, it’s clear why Escudé has been called “the best in the world at this job.” But despite her many accomplishments, Escudé feels like she’s just getting started and only getting better.
Liz Vice has always had a love for storytelling. The Portland native who currently resides in Brooklyn, started her career working behind the scenes in the world of film and video, only to accidentally find herself behind the mic. Liz Vice’s sound is a fusion of Gospel and R&B, with dynamic and soulful vocals, and lyrics, deeply rooted in spirituality, that give her work a timeless feel.
Vice got a knack for performing early. She was raised by her mother as the middle of five children. Every morning growing up, she was awoken by her mother’s voice singing “rise and shine and give God the glory.” She also found herself frequently stealing away to the basement to dance and lip sync songs from the radio, and soundtracks from her favorite films. Liz taught herself how to play piano, marking the notes on the piano using blue painter’s tape on the notes of a keyboard, placed by her friends who were taking piano lessons. Her aunt bought her headphones, that she would make young Liz sit with on her head in the living room for hours mimicking the notes she would here from an instrumental CD.
At the age of 19, Vice’s health declined, and she found herself on hemodialysis for the next three years. Her illness left many scars on her body including those from surgery on a fistula (abnormal connection between an organs). Vice received a kidney transplant in December 2005, which marked the beginning of a time of great healing and perspective.
A year later, Vice became a member of a local church and felt a nudge, that would not leave her alone each Sunday to sing background vocals on the worship team. Suffering from stage fright, Vice knew that fear could never overpower this unknown “call”. She said yes to the nudge and sang her first solo during a Sunday evening service, “Enfold Me”. The rest is history.
For the past four years, Vice’s music and live performances have put her on the map as an artist to watch. She has been praised and featured by Oregon Public Broadcasts’ One Song, NPR’s World Cafe, Mountain Stage, eTown, NPR’s Weekend Edition, Relevant Magazine, and more. Vice has also been a featured artist in Portland for such events as Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, Moon River, Forecastle, Portland Soundcheck, Soul’d Out Music Festival, Siren Nation Music Festival, Music on Main Street and more.
The title track for her first album “There’s a Light” received over one million streams on Spotify. The success of the record led to performing and/or sharing the stage with artists such as Joss Stone, Blind Boys of Alabama, Boz Scaggs, The Temptations, Rodriguez, Lake Street Dive, Lecrae, Cody Chesnutt, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Eric Early of (Blitzen Trapper), John Mark McMillan, Sandra McCracken, Josh Garrels, Tunde Baiyewu (Lighthouse Family), Luz Mendoza (Y La Bamba), Eshon Burgundy (Humble Beast), and more. No matter how large the venue, her genuine approach to her work and playful interaction with the audience makes everyone feel like their sitting at home on the couch watching a friend sing their heart out. Vice is very passionate and has overcome many personal obstacles; she credits her adventurous life to not forcing anything and being willing and available to wherever it is that the lord leads. "It's all about risk, and taking a risk is never regretful...well, most of the time.”
"Then what of the national throat? Will it not weaken?"
These emphatic words of protest appeared in a 1906 essay written by John Philip Sousa. The patriotic American composer found himself standing before a dramatic threshold in music. Faced with the advent of the recording of music and an onslaught of innovation, all of which he deemed, “the menace of mechanical music,” the composer feared the sacred creative entity he had dedicated his entire life to serve would be forever ruined. Sousa passionately lamented that singing would be replaced by a "mathematical system of megaphones, wheels, cogs, disks … all matter of revolving things." More than anything, he feared that the introduction of new contraptions of innovation would serve to water down his cherished artform, all in the name of commercialism. More than a century later, treading upon a similarly fragile fault-line in music, singer-songwriter Will Dailey asks these very questions in his upcoming release. His record is aptly entitled: National Throat.
Will Dailey has chosen to deviate from that predestined path of cogs and commercialism. He willfully parted ways from one of the world’s largest record labels to produce his latest full-length album.
Now independent, Dailey feels liberated. National Throat tells the story of that journey.
“People have been complaining about change in the music industry for centuries but artists make art because they have to,” Dailey says. “I write songs because they happen to me; it fuels my life and I see it fuel other people’s lives… Nothing can disrupt that. This album of songs is about doing this because you have to.”
Featuring 11 new tracks, National Throat is a thriving embodiment of an authentic American Dream. It is a registry of a national reverie, one brought to fruition through a musician’s pursuit of art in its rawest form. It is music felt, not contrived. It is fresh soul untarnished by the grease of cogs or disks, left pure in the midst of a virulent commercial world.
Though fortune and fame have never been of main concern, Dailey’s music has been amplified by acclaim: He is a three-time winner of the Boston Music Award for Best Singer/Songwriter and his songs have been featured on more than 50 shows and films. Critics agree that he holds his ground performing next to artists like Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, and John Mellencamp. He was unfazed by the call from Oscar and Grammy-winning producer T Bone Burnetts to join Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crowe, and Rosanne Cash in the studio. All this from a man who has never, ever been anything but a musician.
But with National Throat, Dailey risked the potential to obtain an even broader reach by parting with a major label after realizing his goals and theirs were out of whack. This time he counted on a solid fan base to save him from a failing partnership, the inspiration for one of the album’s most talked-about songs. “I’m jumping overboard /And I’m swimming back to shore,” Dailey sings over a Burnett-inspired tune in “Sunken Ship.” Somewhat stranded but never alone, he took charge and involved his fans in a communal creative process through Pledge Music. “It will be a unique experience,” he wrote to his fans, “a one of a kind process. When the day is done, you will have elevated my music to a whole new level. A true artistic community will be built here.”
And build it they did. Dailey’s fans’ admiration feeds National Throat from the inside out – like gas to an engine. The album’s closing song, “We Will Always Be A Band,” reflects the timelessness of the special kind of relationships sewn together with sonic filaments. Its lyrics draw Dailey’s audience in close, wrapping us in a warm familiarity that lingers beyond silence:
Am I in your headphones
Am I on your mind
Is there a tune that’s stuck in your head
That comes from a song of mine?
Indeed, listeners will hear his dynamic voice echo around the naturally catchy melodies that replay themselves effortlessly in our minds.
Though unified by Dailey’s characteristic plaid, rootsy charm, each song on National Throat vibrates with unique personality and showcases his dramatic vocal range. Each is a knockout delivered through a triple threat talent for singing, writing, and playing guitar. Listeners are already addicted to “Why Do I,” a rollicking shout-out to a promise-filled night of debauchery in his hometown, Boston. The epic, beautifully melancholic “Castle of Pretending” contrasts sharply with the sexy and demanding “Don’t Take Your Eyes Off Of Me.” Dailey is not afraid to spike his songs with attitude, nor to expose a naked softness, typified by the folksy “Higher Education” and the romantic spoken French quote (“Nous devrions tous avoir la chance de connaître l’amour…”) that closes the McCartney-esque “Once In A Century Storm.”
John Philip Sousa was wrong to preemptively mourn the loss of “songs that stir the blood and fire the zeal,” of “songs of home, of mother, and of love, that touch the heart and brighten the eye.” These songs flourish and surge with vigor in National Throat. The 2014 album makes clear that Will Dailey’s zeal for art, for music—for life and love—is unhampered by time and liberated from the contemporary materialism Sousa so wisely presaged. When Dailey sings, “My last dollar will be spent keeping these lights on/Doing the only thing that I can” we better believe him. He’s unstoppable.
Today, despite the persistence and further development of all matter of revolving things, the National Throat is alive and well in Will Dailey.
Although Brandy Zdan calls her new, self-titled album her full-length “debut,” there’s no mistaking this seasoned singer-songwriter for any kind of rookie. For the better part of the last decade, the native Canadian — now living in Nashville, TN— has garnered acclaim as half of the gothic folk/roots duo Twilight Hotel, with two albums, 2008’s Highway Prayer and 2011’s When the Wolves Go Blind, nominated for prestigious Juno Awards (Canada’s Grammy), as a formidable multi-instrumentalist (touring and recording with the Americana all-girl band the Trishas), and even as a solo artist (with LoneStarMusic hailing her 2013 Lone Hunter EP as “a one-woman tour de force.”) But according to the artist herself, all of that was merely a prelude to the aptly-titled Brandy Zdan, the most focused expression of her musical identity to date.
As brought into vivid focus on Brandy Zdan, produced by Teddy Morgan in Nashville, TN, featuring a cast of musicians including Carl Broemal (pedal steel) and Tom Blankenship (bass) of My Morning Jacket and drummer Richard Medek (Alternate Roots, John Doe). That vision showcases not just her strong vocals and guitar, steel and keyboard playing, but an affinity for writing mature indie-rock and pop songs with hauntingly gorgeous melodies and edgy arrangements. Ribboned with wide swaths of warm guitar and chilly blue atmosphere, the album buzzes with static overdrive and a bracingly raw emotional honesty. From the assertive opening charge of “Back on You” through to the electronic pulse of the gauntlet-throwing closer, “More of a Man,” its 11 originals fit together seamlessly to form a self portrait of an artist in full, confident flight. And if the result feels more like an arrival than a “debut,” as far as Zdan herself is concerned, it’s all the same.
When Boston alt-rock band Letters To Cleo split after 10 years, 3 albums, and thousands of tour miles together, it was at the behest of a pact that singer Kay Hanley and guitarist Greg McKenna made with each other when they started the band in 1990.
“We said that we’d stop doing it when we weren’t having fun anymore.” says Hanley. “I had just had a baby, (lead guitarist) Michael Eisenstein and (drummer) Stacy Jones were recording and touring with Veruca Salt’s Nina Gordon, (bassist) Scott Riebling was crazy in demand as a record producer, and I know it was frustrating to Greg to be in the shitty position of doing all the work to try and keep the ball rolling. It felt hard all of a sudden, and I hated that feeling.”
Soul searching done and tough decisions made, Letters To Cleo called it quits. The band members moved into new careers in and out of the music business, with Hanley, Eisenstein, and Jones migrating to Los Angeles. They all remained friends and sometimes even colleagues, collaborating on a host of movie, TV, and touring projects.
Now, for the first time in 17 years, Hanley, Eisenstein, Jones, and McKenna have written and recorded five brand new songs for “The EP”, are poised to launch a Pledge Music campaign, and will play club dates in Boston, NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in the Fall. So why reunite now?
"Because we’re good and stuff”, laughs Jones. “To me, the question isn’t ‘Why are we doing this now?’, the question is, ‘Why didn’t we do it sooner and why aren’t we doing it more?’’
McKenna adds, “It’s a blast. I mean, we spent our formative years learning how to do this stuff together. When it was done, we went out and lived our lives and now everyone’s bringing their experiences back to this at a new level of musicianship, but writing with these guys still feels effortless.”
The new material reflects McKenna’s sentiment. All 5 songs are instantly recognizable Cleo concoctions that fans will devour. From Eisenstein’s fierce, angular guitars locking horns with Jones’ roaring locomotive rhythm on “Hitch A Ride” to McKenna and Hanley’s signature melodic ESP on “Good Right Here”, the Cleo bandmates are in prizefighter form.
Staying true to the chemistry that defined their muscular pop sound throughout the 90’s was key to Cleo’s new venture. “It feels completely unforced. It sounds like classic Cleo. But at the same time, there’s nothing nostalgic about it.”, says Jones.
In addition to playing guitar, bass, and keys on The EP, Eisenstein also handled the lion’s share of production at Death Star Studio in the Koreatown section of LA, where he and Jones are current and former partners, respectively. Eisenstein is hesitant to pick any favorites from the new batch of songs but offers, “I really like “Four Leaf Clover” because it’s so in line with who we are as a band. It could have been on any of our records. The emotional content of “Back To Nebraska” is impossible to deny. It’s beautiful and powerful.”
According to Hanley, the opportunity to re-unite with her former band and make new music came almost from out of nowhere. “I didn’t have time to think up reasons to say no, so I just said yes. We didn’t have a plan. We just jumped in and everything unfolded really quickly. We all love the new songs and can’t wait to start playing them. It’s really fun!”
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Formerly part of San Francisco’s Bill Graham Management, Elevation Group formed their independent operation in 2002. Since then Elevation Group continues to provide dedicated full service artist direction and management to artists including The Neville Brothers, the Funky Meters and The New Mastersounds.