The Mystical Energy Of The Acid Kings

ACID KING play Satellite Oct. 11; photo Ray Ahner

ACID KING play Satellite Oct. 11; photo Ray Ahner

“The band name came from a True Crime book I read called ‘Say You Love Satan’. It’s about this guy called Ricky Kasso who killed… well, let me just cut to the chase: He was called the Acid King because he was the guy who always sold acid,” laughs Lori S of the band Acid King.

Born in the San Francisco bay area in 1993, they have been forged in blood and fire since that time and are currently delivering their blasts of distortion across the country. With such a long history, it comes as no surprise this band has a storied career.

“I moved out here from Chicago and didn’t know many people,” recounts Lori S. “I wanted to start a band so back in those days, we put ads in papers because there wasn’t any Craigslist or social media or really the internet very much. So, I put an ad in the local paper, a like music/cultural paper I guess you would say, about looking for members.

“A bass player reached out and my ad said something like ‘Looking for someone into Hawkwind and Monster Magnet’. Peter Lucas, our very first bass player, reached out and we met and had a lot of things in common – same books, same career, listened to the same music. Obviously, it was a really easy decision that we should play together.”

“Then, the drummer… well, we didn’t have a drummer, so we started writing music together. I was at a party, with the one person I knew in town, and basically just shouted out “Does anyone know any drummers?” and this guy responded, ‘I’m a drummer!’ That was Joey Osborne and that is how he became our drummer.”

Over the course of their history, they have released four studio albums and two EP’s. And this is where the story takes a fascinating twist, especially with their album Busse Woods.

“The record was released in 1999 on this record label that’s no longer around called Man’s Ruin Records; Frank Kozik was the owner of that label” she recounts. “If you don’t know him, he is a very popular artist, and did a lot of poster art for bands back in those days. So, he opened up a label and really took to our kind of music.

“As I think back to 1999 – again, no social media, minimal internet – it basically just kind of came out and had press and so forth, though you can imagine the kind of limited press it got back then compared to now. It was just sent out to magazines and college radio stations. Then our bass player quit and there were a lot of personal issues going on within the lives of the band members, so basically nothing ever happened with that release. It came out, never had a tour, Brian Hill – the bass player on that album – quit, and the record really never had anything.”

This is an all too common story over the course of rock, as well as all music history. Yet, this is only the beginning of the story.

“Twenty years later, because of social media and charts and stuff, we found out that Busse Woods is the most popular release we have and over a million people have listened to the songs on the record,” explains Lori S. “It was like holy you know what! We had no idea. So, I decided, ‘You know what? It’s high time. It’s been twenty years now and it’s the anniversary. It is time to have a record release party and time to celebrate this release that it never had’.”

As to why this album has remained, and even gained, popularity among people all this time later is a mystery, albeit a pleasant one.

“I was pretty surprised to see that,” she says. “I love the record, there’s a lot of awesome riffs on there. “Busse Woods” is one of my favorites to play… it’s super heavy and totally gets into your butt. “Electric Machine” is I guess like a hit, as far as hits go… if there was a hit by the band that would be it as our most popular song. I think a couple of the songs are just accessible to more of the masses, and for whatever reason those songs struck a chord with them. But I have no valid reason why that happened. I guess those were really great songs people like and it’s awesome!”

Experiencing such a revival on an album that was released under the radar, it’s a testament to how social media has changed the music landscape. Which is a very good thing as now there is less of a danger of losing great music to the march of time.

“You used to buy a magazine or go on a website to read and see If you liked this band then check out this band,” elaborates Lori S. “But today, you go on Spotify and it’s all in front of your face. You’re not spending a bunch of time at the record store and reading magazines to see if you can find something new. It’s kind of a bummer cuz that was super fun and a part of the whole experience.

“But now, the word spreads. Because of YouTube your videos are out and all over. It’s so much easier for people to find you since it’s there in front of your face and you’re not even searching. It’s definitely made it a lot easier for bands, like ours or even those not as popular who don’t have a PR machine, to sit there and put your music out and random people are able to discover it easily.”

Being a heavy rock band, the live show is a key element for this band who has plenty of excitement for the current tour.

“It’s always awesome when people show up, number one,” muses Lori S. “While they are showing up, its really awesome if they are an enthusiastic crowd. It’s fun to see familiar faces who have been with the band from the beginning. It’s really fun now to see new people because the genre of music has gotten so much bigger. Lately, seeing people who have never seen the band and only heard of us for the first time even though the band has been around forever.

“It feels good to know your music has made an impact,” she continues. “Hearing people say, ‘the music really helped me cuz I was going through a bad breakup or bad part of my life and I put on your record and it made me feel better’. I mean, people find whatever touches them in the music and that’s super gratifying to me.

“As far as this particular tour, I’m excited because I’m spending money on this tour for lighting, projections, bringing a sound person; I’ve tried to strategically have shows at particular venues. You know, trying to have a higher production value and out on a special show. I don’t just want to show up and play, I want it to be an experience.”

Acid King are out on tour behind the re-release of Busse Woods. Make sure you catch the fire and the glory as they bring it to life center stage full force!!

CAMP TRIP Brings It All Together

CAMP TRIP is upon us and only a week away! The excitement behind it is so thick you could cut it with a knife. From its humble beginnings as an outing amongst friends, the core members (Patrick, Keekz, Daniel, Devan, Shawn, Gio, Corey, Mark) have turned it into one of the defining festivals in the LA underground.

“It’s kind of funny how it all ended up coming into place,” describes Keekz. “We used to throw house parties called Test Party. We didn’t even know at that time why we were calling it Test Party. We had CD-Js on both sides and had about four of those parties.”

“It makes no sense thinking back,” adds Patrick. “And it got to be too much cuz it turned into two stages and like, this is a house. We were going to go to Joshua Tree one weekend with a bunch of people. And it was a busy weekend and even getting there early we weren’t able to get any spots. We had two hours to figure out what was happening or to tell people not come out. We were taken to some private lands but it was all barbed wire and chained fence so that wasn’t gonna happen.

“Then, we were told about some BML land and thought, ‘Should we get in on that?’ So, we checked it out and it was just a dry lakebed. We researched for a minute and were down to the wire and told everyone to come now. I told Keekz to bring some speakers and stuff. It was tiny and only about twenty people. And it was so awesome that a month later we did it again, that being the first pre- CAMP TRIP. It was by total accident we even found that land.”

From there, the momentum started to build behind it as the event became more elaborate.

“We had one again in Joshua Tree where we brought an ice cream truck,” says Keekz. “That was the first time we hooked up with Shawn, Geode, and Daniel; they brought the lights, trussing…like full production. Nothing compared to what we have now, but at the time it was huge to us. I mean I started with bringing some Monoprice monitors I had and now we a have full Cerwin Vega setup with full stacks. That was also the first one where we got involved with the Big Booty Bass guys and bringing them out and getting them involved.”

Yet, like every festival event, unfortunately some hiccups occurred along the way.

“After that, I went and helped do a show in El Mirage,” Keekz continues. “It was like two weeks before we were gonna do another CAMP TRIP and we thought, ‘Why don’t we just do it here?’ It was a really stressful moment for me because I just wanted this party to go off without a hitch, I had put a lot of money and effort into it. And then the cops showed up.

“At that point, we knew we had to do it on private land. So, my friend Jerry, who builds bots and does the show Battle Bots, knew someone who had a property and would be willing to help us out. We met up with him and he said we could work something out.

“I went to the property and was just like, ‘This is dope. We have to do something here.’ And that was when it got crazy, when it became a real festival.”

“After the party, the owner of the property formed a bond with us; he really liked us, how we treated the land, the vibe of our people, the messages that we were pushing,” explains Keekz. “He wanted to keep working with us and since then we have a contract with him to do it out there.”

And it’s that exact thing that has made CAMP TRIP the success it is. Talk to anyone who has ever been, and they will respond with nothing but passion, love, and excitement. In addition, a genuine devotion to the CAMP TRIP slogan, “Be Human Again,” is readily apparent by all who support it.

“In this world where we are so sucked into our phones, to our jobs, the money, the status…. we’ve lost track of what it is to be human to each other; how to interact with each other without all those things clouding our vision,” conveys Keekz.

“It’s kind of like an art project, which is weird to say about a festival, but it’s like a video or a painting or all of those,” explains Patrick. “It’s a snowball we don’t control anymore. We don’t really hire anyone to do things, everything is accomplished because people want to help do the stuff that needs to get done. And there’s more people that want to help than we ever expected. The founders of CT only organize the higher end stuff really.”

“I like to say we basically build the skeleton of this beast and the people populate and make the meat,” Keekz adds. “If it weren’t for the people who come to the party, it wouldn’t be what it is.”

It’s this spirit of community and inclusivity that stand at the core of CAMP TRIP; in Keekz own words, “Every part of culture belongs at CAMP TRIP.” At every event, from the main festival to the fundraising events known as Bass Lift, there is a warmth and community presence that glues everything together in a way that is special and unique.

And it has always stood at the heart of CAMP TRIP.

“When I first got to LA, there was this wall up with everyone; everyone has something going on, but they don’t want to work together. They just want to do their own thing and that’s all they care about. But that’s the problem. I think right with where we are at, bringing all of these pieces together and breaking down those walls…. allowing people to realize, ‘Wait, if we work together, we could do something way better than we could by ourselves.’ And even after that, if someone decides they want to stop, someone will be there to carry the torch. If we build a greater community here, we could build a launchpad that would be strong enough to start sending our DJ’s out to other places instead of always importing these other DJ’s in.”

The lineup for this year’s festival is mind blowing. There is a huge lineup consisting of all the best in local electronic/bass music talent while also bringing live music acts as well. The stage production and light show are already of legendary status that must be seen to be believed. Some comedy acts will also be performing and interacting with the festival residents as well.

Yoga sessions, workshops, a tie-dye station, games, vendors of all kinds, the Surreal Saloon, the consensual butt touching zone, the Zen Den, and art displays fill out the event, further establishing the notion that literally everything really is at CAMP TRIP.

In addition, the Jenkem Jungle returns in even more epic fashion, making the bathroom area part of the festivities as well. Trash can be recycled at Recycling land for goodies and merch. And in a display of true heart, there will be a wall where pictures of those lost can be cherished and remembered.

In the end, CAMP TRIP is such an extensive event with so many facets coming together, it’s impossible to describe and convey everything there. It truly is something that can only be experienced, and easily establishes itself as something everyone needs to attend at least once in their life. Grab your tickets today while they are still available!!

As the founders of CAMP TRIP love to say….

“Come Join Us And Be Human Again!!”

Mèlay Brings The Boom

Mèlay;press photo

Mèlay;press photo

“I used to be really good at Super Smash Brothers Melee when I was 14,” explains Xavier Velarde of his DJ moniker Mèlay. “My brother used to drive me to tournaments and stuff because I couldn’t drive myself. So, I’d play and he started calling me Mèlay and it stuck.”

An LA based house DJ known for his unique style of mixing and music making, he has had an intense journey to become the artist we know today.

“My older brother and my uncle used to spin old booty breaks, stuff by the 619 boys and that stuff,” he says. “I used to sit there and watch them spin, and they spun at old clubs back in the day. I started playing with it and taught myself, and eventually they started teaching me stuff. They were like, ‘If you really wanna get into this stuff, you’re gonna have to learn the hard way’. So, yea, I got military drilled by them on how to DJ.

Mèlay; press photo“I started on vinyl and also using tape decks – you have two tape decks and in the middle is a mixer. You’re pretty much mixing tapes. I hated it; it was really hard. Vinyl was much easier cuz with tapes your rewinding and fast forwarding, it was a hassle.”

Despite the difficulties, this did little to deter him from pursuing a path in music.

“From there, just started getting into sounds and eventually started producing,” Mèlay elaborates. “I started DJing when I was about sixteen and went to engineering school for live production and audio engineering. I did that ‘til I was around 25; after that, it got to me while doing shows and seeing all these DJ’s play and just felt like, ‘I could do this’. So, I just went back to school for production and now it’s been three or four years since I’ve been producing.”

One of the most common discussions in electronic music is the debate between DJing and producing, and Mèlay has his own distinctive spin on it.

“At this point, since I’ve been DJing so long… I love DJing and its always been one of my favorite things to do. But once you get to a certain point and you know you can DJ, you don’t need to go that in depth into it, as long as you know you’re good at what you’re doing. So, I focus more on production now so I can go out and spin my own songs.”

In addition to making music, Mèlay is a founder and central figure of the collective known as Low Freqs – one dedicated to spreading much needed deep and dark house/bass grooves.

“Low Freqs started when I was going to engineering school. I had the idea but didn’t know anyone into the same music as me at my school. When I went back to production was when I met Walter Morales, aka CANDL. I brought the idea to him cuz he was the only one in my class making like UK House and all the grimy stuff. Everyone else was making pop and dubstep and country and stuff. So, I brought him the idea and after we all graduated was when we decided to dive into it and make it an actual thing. Along the way we met other people and started bringing them in. We have about ten people with us now.

“I feel like we are a little bit of everything. Events, collective, label… I’m trying to make it like a full circle thing. Lately we have been focusing more on label stuff just so we can get our music and our friends’ music out there. And trying to be an outlet for the people making the weird kind of music we are making.”

On that note, his brand-new release, The Boom EP just dropped and is filled with his trademark sound and grooves.

Mèlay "The Boom" EP cover

Mèlay “The Boom” EP cover

“My EP is something that, like the name of it The Boom, I have been trying to get out since the beginning of this year and hadn’t found the right tracks ‘til recently,” describes the producer. “And just trying to make this new genre-esque thing called ‘Sewer House’, which is House but a little bit darker and grimier. kind of like jungle infused with darker techno house. It’s a little weird. But I finally found three tracks and put them together; they are my three favorite tracks of the weird stuff that I make. Just because it’s different and weird doesn’t mean that it can’t be good.

“When I was making one of the tracks on there, it’s actually called ‘The Boom’, which I called it that cuz of the computerized sample, which was an old LL Cool J sample I used to mess with when I used to scratch,” he continues. “But the boom is pretty much… because I went through a long period of not producing because my brother passed away. For about five or six months I wasn’t producing, I was still playing shows but wasn’t producing at all. I had an epiphany one day that if my brother was still alive, he would be pissed. He would always push me to keep producing and keep producing. It was like a boom in my head and I thought of it like The Big Boom to kick me back into producing.”

All four tracks explore the deep and dark side of bass. “Step Wit” employs an infectious bass line with its steady groove that gets the body moving. “The Boom” is heavy and deep, evoking the feeling of getting sucked into the floor. The ethereal vocals and hard as nails punch of “Get Lost” create a grimy track anyone can get down to. And lastly, CANDL delivers his breaks remix of “Step Wit,” where he mutates the addictive bass of the original and fuses it into his singular vibe.

The album art is especially eye catching and pairs nicely with the music itself.

Mèlay; press photo

Mèlay; press photo

“I was sitting with Walter and he asked, ‘What do you want it to be?’ I wanted it to be simple and impactful, a simple image,” expresses Mèlay. “So, we ran through random slow-motion videos of guns shooting bullets and took a still of one of them. I just ran with it and we started dropping effects and colors on it and made it what it is now. I just wanted it to represent a big boom, like how big it was in my head to finally realize I should be doing this harder than I am.”

The future is jam packed with releases and events for Mèlay as well.

“After this EP, I’ve got a couple remixes of some underground hip hop songs I’ve been loving a lot that I’m gonna put out. I also have a desert show coming up on the 21st of September called Intercepted, which is pretty much an Area 51 themed rave in the desert. There is also the AYCE cheat day takeover for Low Freqs on October 2. After that, all the songs I’ve been building up and sending out to labels… one of those is going to become a single for Low Freqs again. And then we are releasing CANDL’s EP at the end of October. In November, we have a pretty big event coming up where I am playing the Jackson Tree Music festival. That’s one of my favorite places to ever play.”

Make sure to grab The Boom Ep today, available on all platforms!!

Nightcallers Deliver The Wave Of The Future

Nightcallers

Nightcallers

There’s a new band hitting the sound waves, going by the name Nightcallers. Emerging out of thin air, they are now dropping a flurry of songs on us without any warning. With songs pulling from every style and direction, their album Who Calls At Night is a real treat for the ears.

“Phil and I have really put a lot of this together late at night,” explains Ben of Nightcallers. “We call each other late at night on the phone. We are heavily inspired by things like AM Coast to Coast and radio shows after midnight. So Nightcallers was one of the few connotations that connected to all of that.

“Another inside joke for us is that we have been friends for a really long time, and when we were in our very younger years, we used to do…..in the days before caller ID or whatever…….we used to call into the news and do prank calls and stuff like that in the middle of the night. So that’s another aspect to it,” elaborates Phil of this enigmatic group.

Once you hear their music, it’s readily apparent a lot of thought, urgency, and passion went into it.

“It’s something we have been working on for the last year,” says Ben. “Phil and I have known each other for almost twenty years and have come together on a myriad of projects. We never really worked together solely on one project and are both definitely on the same page on a lot of things about pop music and music history, and the things we appreciate and love. It was a challenge, in a way, to ourselves, to create something and not wait around for people to say yes or no to it, to not dilly dally around it. Pack something in with our full force and a singular vision to it.”

Nightcallers "Who Calls At Night" album cover

Nightcallers “Who Calls At Night” album cover

“We wanted the ability to move at the speed of creativity,” ruminates Phil. “And that’s something we are both really proud of about this. We have been able to get everything out there in a pretty expeditious manner without a lot of hang-up’s and waiting around.”

Every album is written differently, through the use of innovative methods and also by the personalities involved.

“The whole record was written chronologically, and it’s also a story that goes on throughout it,” Ben states. “So, it’s almost like we were working together to create this story, and then each song we knew had to be the next chapter to the story. We worked really fast back and forth and pushing each other on it. We only finished the record about two or three months ago and started getting it ready for release.”

Nightcallers have their eye on the button of the future, seeking new blends of disparate elements.

“One of the things I asked myself when making this record was how can we do something that feels modern and almost has an EDM sensibility sonically, and has pop song structures; and melodic elements that hearken back to much more vintage, classic lounge and pop and rock and new wave sensibilities that we feel are underrepresented right now in the pop/EDM artists,” conveys Phil.

“Phil and I are pop aficionados in like all genres of pop,” Ben discloses. “There’s a lot in certain styles of music where the sounds are so cool but there aren’t a lot of pop songs in that style or genre. So, we almost wanted to take some of the sounds from different areas and create more classic songs using them. We also had no rules a little bit about what could or couldn’t be a part of it. We weren’t necessarily starting a punk band that had to stay within certain lines. We wanted to create a band in the future that could pull from music that has and even hasn’t happened yet.”

And they pulled out all the stops to make something truly postmodern in today’s music world.

“This album is a story and a concept,” Phil asserts. “What is the soundtrack to the not so near distant future? So, what is music going to sound like in the near future but what are going to the be classic hits of that near future? And those are the soundtracks to our story.” Phil explained.

It doesn’t end there with the surprises of this band. There are still the live shows to anticipate.

“We haven’t been playing any shows yet, but we have been planning on what we might be doing for that,” reveals Ben. “It would definitely entail a production, like a stage production…we might spend a few dollars on lasers, and we would bring out all of our smoke machines.”

“A lot of the instrumentation on the album is live innovation and live performance, but done in a way that sounds more programmed than they are,” says Phil. “It wouldn’t be hard to do, but it has to be a big concept, it has to be worth doing that production.”

With plenty of live experience between the two of them, their excitement to bring the album to the stage is there in spades.

“The great thing about playing live, and what we would really look forward to with this project is……Phil and I kept this really under wraps so now the best part is sharing it with people, and share the entire experience you are trying to create,” Ben maintains. “Bringing them into the fold and sharing this moment that everyone is a part of. The cool thing about live performance is that it’s different than records, different than movies, different than what you watch on YouTube; it’s still this combustible organic thing that happens, people come together and get on the same wavelength. It’s a special thing about music no matter what genre you are talking about.”

“What I really look forward to is because the record tells a chronological story, and it’s written chronologically….I think it would be fun to have things that would help tell that story and get people in on our concept of how we are envisioning it – what the story, the visuals, whether it’s having a film playing behind us or have rockets that lift off or a spaceship,” Phil explains.

With an album that hearkens back to many of our favorite things of the past, such as fifties pop songs and new wave postpunk delights, while also fusing that with new sensibilities, their music often feels like you already know it yet surprises you with things you aren’t as familiar with. No matter your taste in music, this is one release not to be missed!

“One thing we want to warn people about is…. Nightcallers are real so you better watch out!”

WATCH: “In A Bad Dream” Video

Tom Keifer And His Livewire Rock-N-Roll Come To SoCal

Tom Keifer plays The Coach House Aug. 30; photo James Christopher

TOM KEIFER plays The Coach House Aug. 30; photo James Christopher

High-energy. Dynamic. Fire and brimstone. Visceral. These words help define rock-n-roll, both on and off the stage. Tom Keifer and his band are on course to deliver all of that once again Aug. 30 at The Coach House.

Keifer sang in the Philly rock group Cinderella, and went on to release a solo album back in 2013 The Way Life Goes. It was a labor of love that took nine years to perfect, and was released to critical acclaim. Unfortunately, some legal trouble caused it to get pulled from the shelf. Simultaneously, Keifer had to have voice surgery which caused delays in touring/recording schedules.

All of that is overwhelming, but a recurring theme in rock-n-roll is perseverance through struggle. And without a doubt, he is a shining example. Keifer fought for and obtained the masters to The Way Life Goes – the deluxe version of the album (with the bonus of a few new tracks) which he released in 2017.

Heading to one of his shows, Keifer says to expect “a high-energy, loud screaming rock show; it’s a rock-n-roll show” complete with Cinderella classics as well as the tracks from his solo outing.

“I’ve always really liked playing “Nobody’s Fool” live, that one always feels good to me and I like singing,” Keifer said. “Out of the new stuff, lately we’ve been doing the title track, that one has been fun. There’s a couple there I’ve been having fun with, singing and playing.”

TOM KEIFER

TOM KEIFER and band; photo Tammy Vega

While the album was made over several years, the touring band has remained constant.

“When I started touring the record, it’s pretty much been with the first people that walked in the room the first night,” Keifer explained. “With the exception of this year, we have a new drummer and a new keyboard player, which was our first member change. Much like the first auditions, the two new guys were the first ones who walked in the room. It’s all been pretty effortless, and the chemistry has been great from the get-go.”

This chemistry even continues off-stage.

“On tours I have done before this band, everyone kind of stays to themselves, and watches movies, and there’s lots of distractions of different kinds of entertainment going on,” Keifer divulged. “But honestly with this band, every night we just get together and hang out and talk.”

Being a mainstay of the rock world for over two decades, Keifer has a unique perspective on the ongoing debate over rock being at death’s door.

“That question always comes up, if it’s not in vogue, say in certain media outlets or radio formats, then oh, its dying,” Keifer explained. “But as long as it’s being created, and it’s being enjoyed by the fans and the people out there, then it’s alive.”

Thus, Keifer remains determined as ever to continue bringing rock music to his fans.

“Playing live is my favorite part of what we do, it’s great to get out there and play live and share that moment in the music with the fans,” he remarked.

“I get nervous every night, brother, as long as I’ve been doing this. I love what I do, and I want to be, you know, give it my all every night. My main instrument, being my voice, it’s flesh and blood.”

All in all, Tom Keifer is amped for his dates on the west coast, commenting, “We are out rocking and love seeing everybody at the shows.”

Airglo: Storming LA And Beyond

AIRGLO

AIRGLO

“It’s basically the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” describes Mikael Oganes, better known as Airglo, of his namesake. “It’s when you’re in the desert at one of the raves and you look up and see this giant beautiful sky and it’s all glowing and everything. But honestly, its cuz there was a show I was performing, and this chick comes over to me and says, ‘When you perform, the air is glowing around you!’ And I was also thinking about my new project and what I was going to call it and everything, and was like…Airglo, sounds cool. It’s very majestic.”

Airglo has been pumping out a flurry of music in the last new year, from remixing GOT to releasing his own productions. As a classically trained musician, he has a unique lens to look at drum and bass, with a serious passion for the genre and its high production standard.

Oganes has had an epic and storied path to get to Airglo as well. “I’ve always been in music, graduated from universities being a classically trained piano player,” he reveals. “Then transitioned into being a keyboardist/producer and started producing on Ableton as soon as I graduated around age 24. I started continuously started finding more and more inspiration from, and was very hard into the techno world for at least two and a half years. Actually, went to Texas and worked with this band called Seek Irony, and that’s where I kind of going more into electronic rock/metal and everything.”

“I always loved Drum and Bass, it was always in the background,” says Oganes. “Always listened to Dilinja, Roni Size, always, always. I wandered off of techno cuz I wanted something faster, kind of more…. I was always a metalhead and DnB is kind of like the metal/punk of EDM. So distorted bass, distorted riffs with a nice fast beat, it was just a total no brainer getting into producing DnB.

AIRGLO live

AIRGLO live

And a short time later, that’s exactly what happened. “Somehow, I started working with this band and they had this drum and bass track I really, really loved; I kind of made a remix of it, my own drum and bass remix, and remember thinking this is so cool!” explains Oganes. “When I came back to LA after working with that band in Texas, I started going to Respect shows, Xcellerated shows, and getting more and more active in the scene.”

“I released my EP called Spring, not the time of year but the coil spring, because I’ve always felt drum and bass has this spring inside,” conveys Oganes. “People ask what do I like about it and I tell them ‘I like the spring.’ They ask, ‘What do you mean?’ And it’s that every time that drum and bass plays, its like wearing spring shoes…like being elevated.”

Like many artists in the DnB scene, his love for the studio knows no bounds. “The endless possibilities!!” he declares. “Endless possibilities of mixing everything…. genres, sounds, sound design. Basically, for me the most fun part about it is grabbing something that not necessarily would be a drum and bass track and reinventing it as a drum and bass track. Or even as a bass track.”

“You can break ground with drum and bass more than any other genre right now,” Oganes elaborates. “You can do anything. Like with the Urbandawn remix of Come Together, that was crazy the first time I heard it. That’s what I love about production. With all the DAWS’s, the newer tools, and these crazy plugins; when you start going into them, you realize its unlimited. It’s literally a rabbit hole of ‘I can do anything I want.’ You can create a whole track from recording yourself going ‘Aaaah’ and you can create the whole track out of that.”

AIRGLO live

AIRGLO

Yet, he also has an intense love of the dancefloor and the live energy found at shows. “Reading the crowds, getting them to…. cooking them slowly but surely, going with them, taking them on a journey,” he affirms. “Having people go with you, like as an artist performing, and watching them go with you and respond to every little trick that you do. I’ve been through my years in different formats: as a band format, as a classically trained pianist format, there’s different formats and for a while, was even a wedding DJ! But still, when you get people dancing, and moving, and move crowds with your music…. great feeling, it’s the best feeling ever. You feel like we are all in this together and its very tribal, and it’s a very good feeling.”

Throughout rock and dance music history, classical and street music has intermingled to create some highly unusual and entertaining art. Airglo is no exception, “When you’re creating a drum and bass track, it’s more like making a collage than writing a score. You have more leeway, freedom, and movement as you’re the one telling everyone where it’s gonna go. In drum and bass, you have everyone telling you how they want it to be and you have to be, ‘here’s how it is.’

“So, I find myself writing more melodic drum and bass because I have that musical thing,” Oganes explains. “I put little harmonies in, cuz people underestimate harmonies. Harmonies and melodies, they move your soul…they get you to feel that beautiful energy, and then you crush it with a crazy drop, so it’s like a beauty and the beast thing.”

Airglo is fired up and set for a busy year of releases. Having already released the first video Chase My Desire and also recently dropping the second video of his 3-part horror series, “Rings of Saturn” you can look forward to the final installment on September 1st. Make sure to check out his remix of The Grind by Keekz along with his upcoming release on Impossible Records, Bob – O with Armanni Reign “Sick (Airglo Remix).”

In addition to all this, he is trekking cross country to spread DnB to new places as well as furthering its strength back home. You can catch him at Ernie’s Bar in Shreveport, The Green Elephant in Dallas, CAMP TRIP in September, and a Momentive later in the year!

Keep an eye on Airglo, via Soundcloud and his website!
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Blowin Smoke Volume Two: A Shining Example Of The LA Underground

BLOWIN SMOKE VOL. 2 cover

BLOWIN SMOKE VOL. 2 cover

Bubbling beneath the surface of Los Angeles, jungle, DNB, and bass music has long been simmering…. slowly leaking out into the culture of the city. Once a small scene found only at obscure venues, it is now a force to be reckoned with that attracts talent from across the globe. Huge acts such as Andy C, S.P.Y., Noisia, and Spectrasoul all come to DJ small clubs and big festivals alike. Even underground acts such as Ewol, Homemade Weapons, Phase, and Hyroglifics make their way to play L.A. as well.

However, the underground scene in LA has and continues to play a vital role in this: making it possible for these acts to come here, providing support for the shows, and overall keeping the vibrancy of the scene alive. And it is one far more vibrant than most people realize, at times making it confusing to traverse.

Luckily, a crash course in LA DNB just dropped in the form of Blowin Smoke Volume Two by Voyage Events, and it perfectly encapsulates the quality and diversity found within it.

It starts out with a heady intro of hip-hop viewed through the lens of jungle, thrown together in a dizzying fashion that’ll make your head spin. With smooth transitions and a deft sense of timing, Jah Bliddie’s “Intro” sets the stage for the rest of the release; one full of surprises, unique vibes, and genre bending delights.

“Styles” by Tank Dubz keeps the jungle momentum going. The snap of jungle breaks sets the mind ablaze on an introspective journey, as the deep and dark basslines pull you with the force of a blackhole. Reggae vocal samples give an air of nostalgia, harking back to the roots of jungle; while the crisp chatter of the high end reveal a modern production sense, revealing a love for both new and old.

Following all this wild and heavy music comes the deep moody number known as “Dark Cloud” by Cranial Superfood. Menacing atmospheric vibes sit next to chiming melodies, with a hypnotic driving beat pulling everything forward. Dark and infectious, it is a prime example of how DNB infuses danceable beats with experimental sounds to create a distinctive palette.

Changing gears yet again, the next track opens with a hypnotic soothing melody that seems to climb endlessly, until it gets absorbed by the huge wall of bass that suddenly drops. “The Grind” by Keekz continues, and becomes even more intertwined inside the click of the cymbals and the layers of fuzz tones. As the break hits, it’s as if you are launched weightless into space as the next drop brings you right back to Earth; a little confused, a little tripped out, and with a mind blown wide open.

After the last two trips into outer space, some earth-shattering basslines are heavily desired. BC Rydah gives us exactly this with “Nyce Up Da Dance.” Full of deep throbbing basslines and intricate beat patterns, the song throws you around like a ragdoll on the dancefloor. Upon repeated listens, the clashing layers reveal the precision of every sound and the careful thought placed into each moment.

Next up is the fierce rolling sound of pure DNB. “Irieness” by Nodsy perfectly captures the tempo and vibe of the best old school DNB tracks, with a rolling bassline that would make anyone’s feet start moving. Armed with the precise production style characteristic of the deep underground side of DNB, Nodsy delivers a heavy dose of what defines the LA style: blending the past and present in new and exciting ways.

Jah Biddle brings us another jungle workout, rife with ethereal vocals and moody atmospherics. Showcasing a talent and natural grace towards the complex patterns of jungle, the crisp snares and crystal-clear crescendos of cymbals slowly build the atmosphere of the tune. Ethereal vocals create a kind of exploratory jazzy atmosphere, making it perfect for the dancefloor or just chilling.

Further exploring the boundaries of bass music, DCML ft. REFT deliver the lo-fi beauty of “Keys for Days.” Reminiscent of smoky bebop jazz clubs and early hip hop shows, it effortlessly fuses the two into a uniquely modern mix of analog as well as digital vibes. With the repetitive patter and clicks of the cymbals and snare as well as a meandering jazz guitar, it provides a great respite from the intensity of the previous tracks with its artful musings.

Bringing in the heavy beats and trippy vocals of trap and footwork, “Snowden” by Liquid Giraffe (ft JTRA) widens the scope of the album even further. Everything is carefully placed, from the warbling vocal line to the space between the beats; this gives the track that push and pull feel between beats to move your feet and spacey melodies which instigate wandering thoughts.

Giving us a heady dose of addictive melodies and hazey lo-fi beats comes “Screaming for an Echo” brought by Alia Atreides (ft. ATMAAN.) An introspective pattern of beats enters along with a simple motif that creates a kind of swirling sensation, slowly pulling you towards the ambient center of the track. When it all hits with the drop, all you can do is helplessly enjoy the journey back home.

Deep sub bass is a hallmark of nearly all dance music, from DNB to House to Dubstep. Sawdust brings us an excellent example of the dubstep variety in “Raspek.” Hailing from LA, he expertly fuses the west coast bass love of hip hop with the throbbing vibes inherent in dubstep. Glitchy sounds, hypnotic cymbals, and the lurching pace all come together to create a track that bashes you around incessantly… and makes you feel eternally grateful for it.

This is a release not to be missed! Thoroughly exposing the flexibility and fluidity of the underground bass music scene in LA, it has something for everyone and certainly demonstrates the promising future for this genre of music. Blowin Smoke Volume Two is currently available through Voyage Events bandcamp page, so get yourself a copy ASAP and support the local DNB scene!

Taelimb – Granite EP

TAELIMB; press photo

TAELIMB; press photo

The deep, dark side of Jungle/DNB has long been known for its experimental and challenging nature. One of the most exciting producers in this vein is Taelimb, who has been dropping tracks for the last several years. With releases on labels such as Flexout Audio and Demand Records, he has firmly established a signature sound characterized by a fierce attention to detail, diverse soundscapes, and a growling timbre of low end all his own. With his latest release, the Granite EP, from The Chikara Project, he pushes even further the boundaries of his own sound.

On his first exposure to drum and bass, he was hooked. “Around the age of 18, I met a number of guys that I used to hang around with in Brixton, South London,” says Max Taelimb. “They were a good few years older than me and were all into making Jungle/Drum and Bass. I remember the first time I went over to one of their houses, they were all sitting around together making tunes on a very old version of Reason.

Taelimb - Granite EP cover

Taelimb – Granite EP cover

“This was the first time I had ever seen people making music in this way and was blown away. It had never occurred to me that people could make music on computers like this in their own home; so, after that, I started going ‘round regularly to watch and learn how to use the software and make the music. Conscience was one of these guys and I still make music with him to this day.”

Although getting exposed to various forms of electronic music, DNB grabbed his attention the strongest.

“A big part of it was the people, as mentioned before, and the other was the energy at the raves,” Taelimb explains. “Back then, it was mainly house, garage or jungle/drum and bass, and people were just going mad in the jungle rooms! I found there to be far less ego in the jungle raves too. People were there to rave and have fun, and that was that.”

However, one of the more difficult aspects to launching a music career is figuring out a name.

“Taelimb doesn’t actually mean anything,” laughs Taelimb. “I was struggling to settle on a name when I was starting out and had so many different ideas of names I should use. The problem was anything I thought of was already taken, and in many cases used by multiple people over the world. This created problems when searching for me online, etc. So, I made up a name that no one else could have; this way when searching for ‘Taelimb’ the only thing that comes up online is me.”

Not only does he have a unique stage name, but many of his song titles (such as “Breath Mint,” “The Wookie Song,” “Flo,” “A Clean Cut,” etc) seem random yet entirely intentional.

“Most of the time I just call them the first thing I see or think of,” Taelimb points out. “A lot of the time, the names of the tracks have little to do with how the tune sounds. When starting a new project, you have to call the track something to save the file; and I make so many, coming up with names for them all is a nightmare!

Taelimb; press photo

Taelimb; press photo

“My passion lies in production first. I was never massively into DJing, although I find I enjoy it a lot more nowadays than I used to! But if I had to choose one, I think I would definitely choose producing. It’s like an escape for me…I can sit on the computer for hours at a time, quite happily making music and not get bored. I get bored much faster DJing at home, it’s much more fun playing to a crowd. There is only so long I can DJ to my wall; but with production, it’s purely for me and I don’t need anyone else to make it entertaining.”

This passion is obvious and on full display on the Granite EP – from the glitchy textures found in “Titan,” the deep subterranean explorations of “Cold Outing,” the hypnotic drum work of “Granite,” to the infectious vibe of “Grot Bag.” His expertise in using space and sparse layers of sound only call even more attention to the tones and off-key vibes in the tracks.

“I have known Will and Mike (of Mystic State) for some time now through the DNB scene. When I heard they were starting their own label, I thought it would be a good fit for me so I sent them some tracks. Thankfully they liked them so they agreed to release an EP for me!

“I just wanted to keep the tracks a bit different, I try to mix it up a bit with each release I do. It would probably do me more favors if a I found a sound and stuck to it, but I get bored that way. There is rarely a theme with any of my releases; I have so much music on my computer at the moment that I will send a bunch over, and then let the label decide what they think works best together.

Taelimb; press photo

Taelimb; press photo

“In terms of being particularly proud of my music, it’s hard. Generally, by the time I have finished a track and it’s got a release date, I have heard it so many times I no longer like the tunes! To be honest, I’m always left thinking that they are not good enough and all I can hear is what’s wrong with the tunes. I think this is common with a lot of producers though and not just me! Or maybe not.”

Keeping music and the making of it fresh, innovative, and exciting is no easy task. Especially since there is no foolproof method or one solution that works for every person.

“I’m not sure…I try not to let what other people in the scene are doing influence me too much,” analyzes Taelimb. “It’s impossible not to be influenced by what you hear, especially when you think it’s really good. But I try my best to draw these influences from other genres, rather than DNB. I try to listen to a big range of music, see what people are doing in other genres and then bringing that to drum and bass.”

Still a relatively young genre, the state of DNB and its future is a hotly debated issue. As a DNB producer and having toured in the States as well as the UK, Taelimb has a unique vantage point on it.

“I’m not sure, there are some things I love about it at the moment, and some things that wind me up,” he says. “I don’t like the fact that people want everything for free nowadays, but I guess that’s just a problem with how we consume music generally and not specific to DNB.

“I love the fact that it is growing in the States, and that underground dance music in general is starting to take off more in the USA. I remember coming over to America, and all dance music was just referred to as techno. But now there seems to be a much stronger following.”

Taelimb is one producer to definitely keep tabs on! Make sure to grab the Granite EP – out now on The Chikara Project, available on the label’s own Bandcamp, as well as all the other usual streaming sources. And to stay up to date with everything Taelimb, follow his Bandcamp, SoundCloud, and usual social media culprits.
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Silver Snakes Spread Their Hypnotics Far And Wide

SILVER SNAKES play Regent Theater May 10; press photo

SILVER SNAKES play Regent Theater May 10; press photo

“I grew up in a very musical household,” states Alex Estrada of Silver Snakes. “My dad’s a musician, he’s a producer, and my mother was a dancer; so, from a very young age, it was already instilled in me for the most part. It was kind of…I don’t wanna say expected, but it was a no brainer for everyone, me included, that I would do music in some shape or form.”

An enigmatic band with an amorphous sound, Silver Snakes has carved out their original sound that pulls from a diverse range of elements. Drawing from industrial, rock, electronic, hardcore, and more, they continue to explore and test the limits of what their music is capable of.

Since its inception, the band was destined to incorporate numerous styles.

“It just came from being in different bands over the years, styles that shifted around,” explains Estrada. “I was doing a really heavy band, like a really metallic and kind of crusty punk band called Cathedral for a long time. When that was done, I wanted to do something a bit different and get back to my roots more, do a more straight forward rock project.

“So, I started Silver Snakes as a solo thing many years ago. I wrote a couple of these really melodic rock songs, and as time went by it turned into a real band. I started finding my footing and really figuring out what kind of music I wanted to do with the band. Time goes on, and I feel that now we have really found our niche and what we are doing with the music.”

The desire to experiment and try different things even extends to the live show itself.

“They are always different,” illustrates Estrada. “Previous tours have definitely been different from this one because with this one we are doing a lot more with production and other new things. We teamed up with this local visual artist, who goes by Cloaking in LA, and sent him our set. He designed an entire projection show which coincides with the songs. It really ties into the electronic aspect of all of it.

“More than anything, what we set up to do really is to be a hypnotic band, to say the least. We don’t expect people to be jumping up and down during our sets. But we really like to suck people in and draw their attention, you know what I mean? Just make it really cinematic, in that sense.”

Bringing this elaborate show to their fans is a driving force behind their passion and success.

“With this set, it’s very different than other ones we have done because we are playing new music, and with the new music comes a lot of new stylistic differences. So, it’s been really fun just feeling it come together, because we have never gone out on tour before with these kinds of samples and synthesizers. Again, the production and all of that….so the nights where it all locks together is a lot of fun.”

Currently on tour behind their upcoming album Death and the Moon, the band is excited to bring it to their fans for the first time.

Silver Snakes "Death and The Moon" cover art

Silver Snakes “Death and The Moon” cover art

“Right now, I am really enjoying playing all the new stuff cuz it’s the first tour we are playing them on,” says Estrada. “And for the most part, they are still some of the first times we are playing them together as a band, because so much of the record was recorded in the studio. It wasn’t us hunkered down in a space practicing; literally getting up on stage and playing these in any capacity has been really cool.

“There is a song on the record called ‘Gone is Gone’, it’s the last track on the album and has been a lot of fun to play live. It has a really big ending, with a lot of moving parts to it…has a really slow build and a really big outro. We have been closing with it every night; even in terms of the production and the visuals we are doing for that one, that song seems to be very hypnotic for people.”

An added bonus for Silver Snakes and their fans is their tour mates, the notorious Combichrist.

“It’s been awesome,” describes Estrada. “They are really, really great guys and one of the coolest bands we have ever gone out with. It’s been a cool new experience. With this new record, there has been a stylistic shift and they are a little further down that direction. But it’s been really cool edging towards their crowd, and kind of bring what we do. Which is more on the traditional rock side of things and bringing that to a crowd who is expecting more of an electronic show. Overall, its been a really cool experience.

“I dropped their name like a year ago, saying it would be really cool to do a tour with Combichrist. The next thing you know, it kind of came to fruition. It’s a long tour, and also our first tour in a year and a half. It’s the tour for our new record so we are just really grateful for the opportunity.”

Don’t miss Silver Snakes as they bring Death and the Moon back home to LA, playing it live on May 10 at the Regent!

Ruby Boots Raw Fire Hits SoCal

RUBY BOOTS plays The Wayfarer Apr. 26; photo Stefani Vinsel

RUBY BOOTS plays The Wayfarer Apr. 26; photo Stefani Vinsel

“I started playing guitar when I was working out at sea on a pearl farm,” explains Bex Chilcott, better known as Ruby Boots. A singer songwriter whose world travels and passion towards music have helped her carve out a unique voice in today’s musical landscape. Born in Australia and a nomad of the world since fourteen, her journey from then to her current success has been a long and winding one.

“So, when I first picked up the guitar, it was a means for staying sane and just passing the time cuz I’d be living out at sea for two or three weeks at a time,” she elaborates. “But when I wanted to start doing it professionally after traveling around Europe and the UK for a couple of years…. I had been traveling around playing open mics cuz that was the sort of scene I had fallen into, with some friends who had been doing that, to start playing on a stage.

RUBY BOOTS; photo Aly Fae

RUBY BOOTS; photo Aly Fae

“When I got home to Australia, I started feeling maybe I could do this at home. From there, I was just getting local shows. And essentially the snowball kept getting bigger: Right now, I can do this, now I can record an EP….and from the very beginning to where I am now, it’s all been really incremental which has been nice. The journey has just been really steady.”

Having begun traveling at an early age, she has spent time living and playing all over the world. And how that has affected her music is a complex subject.

“I don’t know if traveling the world has affected my music,” Chilcott ruminates. “It has affected my perspective on life, and maybe that’s why it has affected my music, in terms of how I see things and then write lyrics. Traveling the world from Australia to American to India…. There are all kinds of cultures and just disparities in how people are living. And I feel having that kind of culture shock and that kind of empathy is just really good for any kind of songwriting, and to apply it to any kind of songwriting; that you’re not writing from a single view. Traveling the world hasn’t really affected the sound. But digging into different parts of the world definitely has an effect on things over time sonically.”

RUBY BOOTS; photo Aly Fae

RUBY BOOTS; photo Aly Fae

Currently on tour behind her album Don’t Talk About It, she details the ups and downs of tour life: “It’s very tumultuous. You’re playing Phoenix on a Tuesday night and like “Oh my God, why isn’t anybody at my show?” And then you come to Denver and play to a full house, and everyone’s on fire and it’s a Thursday night. You got the rock-n-roll horns up and you’re on your knees and the microphone is collapsed and you’re screaming into the microphone because it’s the last song. And you’re like, ‘This is what I live for! I can take on the world in this moment’, you know?”

Like most musicians, the live show is a favorite aspect to playing music for the artist. “My favorite aspect of the show is when all the stars align with it,” describes Chilcott. “When audiences are present, and they don’t have to be loud and vocal, just present; you can feel…it’s not tangible, you can feel this energy in the room. When you have this immediate rapport with people who are ready to be with you…it’s so much more attainable to get that feeling of ‘here, have every little piece of me tonight. I’m going to leave every piece of me that I put into the songs’. Because you want to feel something different, aside from standing there and watching a band play. You get to reach that next level, and that’s my favorite part of live shows.”

Catch the fascinating songwriting and surreal sounds of Ruby Boots when she plays The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa on April 26!!