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.
taelimb-logo2Bandcamp
SoundCloud
Facebook
Twitter
Flexout Audio
Chikara Project

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!!

BBB: Back In DTLA!

Photo: Regal D

Photo: Regal D

“I’m really looking forward to this warehouse party,” says Adrian Herrera, one of the many people behind the group known as Big Booty Bass. “We’ve booked a couple people from out of state, something we haven’t done since we booked Flite for BBB last April. So we booked Bebe Breaks from Miami and Relyt from Denver. It’s gonna have two stages and go all night!”

Big Booty Bass event flyer

Big Booty Bass event flyer

BBB has been operating for almost a decade, and in that time has garnered a solid reputation for their diverse artist lineups as well as the unique vibe of their shows. “I’d say its more a kind of movement; its more than just the music, its like family,” explains Herrera. “I feel like when you come to our shows, you get that kind of a vibe, more of a family thing. It’s about the experience.

“I had just moved back from San Diego, and started going to shows,” describes Herrera of the group’s genesis. “Rene Moreno, of Kronology, and I got the idea, ‘Hey, let’s do a show, throw our own show.’ You go to shows all the time and sometimes you get to a point of ‘I wanna do one myself.’ I DJed, and he DJed, and we kinda knew people who DJed, so we started going from there.

Big Booty Bass event flyer lineup

Big Booty Bass event flyer lineup

“Originally, the shows were by Splat Media and Big Booty Bass was the name of the actual show. But as we started getting bigger, the word Big Booty Bass caught on a little more and we started going with that. A lot of time when things don’t go your way, you just quit. But we started in 2010 and just kept going; around 2016 was when we started getting more of like this following. Now, people know it’s a good party and know you will have a good time.”

In addition to his work with BBB, Herrera also DJs under the moniker Ekin. “Everyone is always playing drum and bass, and I’m always the guy that wants to be different,” he says. “So I play more dubstep and grime. What really got me into DJing was when I heard Skreams BBC essential mix from 2007. Just these tunes after tunes spinning and I just thought, ‘Damn, this sounds dope. I gotta try this’. That mix really changed everything.”

It doesn’t stop there either, being quite notorious as the MC Pookie P, who has a loyal and devout following.

Photo: Regal D

Photo: Regal D

“I’ve always been into hip-hop ever since I was little,” explains Herrera. “I was the dude who went to school with a Walkman, always recording stuff on radio, and knew every lyric to every rap song. But it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I started performing at BBB shows. At first, I would just do it at small parties or with friends. But then I started doing it at the BBB shows and it just went from there. I started writing lyrics and working on tunes. Nick Kronology and I released a tune about a year and a half ago, and I’m currently working on one with Famburglar for a compilation album coming out in August.”

Photo: Regal D

Photo: Regal D

This dedication and pursuit of diverse interests is a huge part of what makes BBB events so enjoyable. The lineups are always solid, with an inspiring range of genres represented. This upcoming show is no exception. Furious and frenetic, Des Mcmahon, Consouls, Shadowsniper, and Replicant bring their heavy DnB stylings while Gabriel Habit, Zere, and Chief Jesta unleash the hidden potential of the deep and dark side.

Photo: Regal D

Photo: Regal D

The soulful sounds of WHYS should not be missed, nor should the halftimey explorations of no puls or the enigmatic vibes of BeautySchool. MELAY and JK SMILE always bring the best smooth grooves and deep rhythms of House. Bebe Breaks, Mista Maxx, and Ryan Forever will bring us all the creative beat permutations that is Breaks. And make sure to catch the lyrical flow of Pookie P himself throughout the night, along with Jtec, Dino, Landoe, Slim, and Relyt.

You don’t want to miss this BBB show, going down Friday Apr. 12 in DTLA!!

BASS LIFT Descends On Los Angeles

Photo: Alex Varsa

Photo: Alex Varsa

BASS LIFT is finally here!! Orchestrated by the people behind CAMP TRIP, this is a highly anticipated event featuring a lineup solely consisting of local artists. Intense light shows, excellent music, and live art all come together to create a night full of festivities.

“BASS LIFT started as a fundraiser for my burning man camp, that I’m still a part of,” explains Devan Marydyks of CAMP TRIP. “It was designed to raise money for an art car. But this idea never came to fruition. The project fell through, and since the BASS LIFT brand was specific to LA, and the camp had done separate fundraisers with separate names…I decided to use the name and essentially adapt it to CAMP TRIP’s needs.

Photo: Alex Varsa

Photo: Alex Varsa

“We were looking to do a warehouse party fundraiser for CAMP TRIP. We took the name and we didn’t…. well, it is a good word for it, we recycled it. More tangibly now, it is a fundraiser for the CAMP TRIP event. Its essence is a warehouse party, so it very much caters to the underground scene. There’s a lot of after-hours parties in LA, so it is very LA in a way.”

For those who don’t know, this begs the question: What is CAMP TRIP anyways?

Photo: Alex Varsa

Photo: Alex Varsa

“CAMP TRIP started as a literal camp trip, a camping trip,” states Marydyks. “A lot of people think the name is a double entendre…but it’s not. It’s literally named because it was a camp trip among friends. It IS a funny entendre, but it definitely wasn’t intentional.

“So, we went out as a bunch of friends essentially, just had a couple of studio monitors with a handful of people. We just had a good time in the desert, everyone was contributing a little bit in their own way, and it was really memorable. I remember as we were leaving, we all were talking about how we needed to do this again. And it has all just snowballed from there.”

Photo: Alex Varsa

Photo: Alex Varsa

Now, it is a full-fledged 3-day event in the desert with fascinating productions and a reputation for curating lineups of highly eclectic artists.

One of the purest distillations of the spontaneity and excitement which surrounds CAMP TRIP is best illustrated in the story of an ice cream truck: “The second time we went out, they ended up bringing this wooden cutout of an ice cream truck that got used as a DJ booth,” reveals Marydyks. “And it ended up being the inspiration for a real ice cream truck I ended up buying. I remember saying I would buy one and no one believed me. But I found this old 1982 used Chevy on Craigslist, which I got for very little money.

Photo: SERVEEZY

Photo: SERVEEZY

“I showed it to everyone, and they just lost their minds. Just couldn’t believe I did it. We used it for a couple different shows. And I’m in the process of turning it into a real food truck now, which is why it hasn’t been at the CAMP TRIP events. It’ll be its own art car when its ready…called Mother’s Milk Truck. It will be a licensed soft serve truck you can DJ out of….so it’s gonna be ‘Frozen Treats and Nutritious Beats’. It’s set to premier at this upcoming BASS LIFT!”

Photo: Alex Varsa

Photo: Alex Varsa

There is no doubt that events such as this take a lot of planning and work, but in the end, it is completely worthwhile for Mardyks: “I think my favorite aspect to putting them on is the collaboration. What you get to witness when everyone comes together, has an idea, and actually pulls it off. When we all pull through and come together, when you get to watch all these different moving parts act as one…it’s a great feeling. I think that is one of the most rewarding parts about throwing shows in general.”

Photo: SERVEEZY

Photo: SERVEEZY

It promises to be a massive night, with an incredible lineup of LA’s finest bass music talent: heavy DnB vibes from Kronology, APX1, AIRGLO, Keekz, and Soothslayer; masterful grooves of house/breaks by Shleebs, Hardknocker, Johnny Darko, and a special b2b set from Jufro and Jn9ne; a secret headliner; plus, all the crazy visual art and stage productions the group has become infamous for.

Don’t miss the adventure that is BASS LIFT, taking place March 30th in DTLA.

The Irresistible Draw Of Queensryche

QUEENSRYCHE play Observatory/North Park Mar. 27 and The Fonda Theatre Mar. 28; photo Reuben Martinez

QUEENSRYCHE play Observatory/North Park Mar. 27 and The Fonda Theatre Mar. 28; photo Reuben Martinez

“It’s a great opportunity man,” declares guitarist Michael Wilton of Queensryche. “This is my hobby, it’s awesome having a job that is a hobby.”

Having released a slew of albums throughout their nearly forty years of existence, the band recently released The Verdict, further cementing their legacy as one of the most powerful heavy metal acts of all time.

This is no small feat, as this kind of longevity for a band is a rare commodity. “The uniqueness of the music, just believing in what we want to be, and having the steady communication with our fans. Not fitting into any trend or genre, kind of having a little bit of everything and that’s how we have always been. Just seems to work out that way,” says Wilton on how the band has achieved this.

Michael Wilton of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

Michael Wilton of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

“My advice for bands starting out is really take advantage of multimedia, really connect with your fans, and just keep building the communication with the fans. Just tour your asses off and build a following,” suggests Wilton for any struggling bands out there.

His passion for music has always been strong, even choosing it over a potential baseball career in high school.

“It wasn’t hard to choose,” recounts the guitarist. “When you’re in your teens, you know, you don’t know what’s going on in your mind. Wasn’t like I flipped a coin or anything. I went to a Black Sabbath show and saw Van Halen; saw Edward Van Helen open with the song “On Fire” and knew that was exactly what I wanted to do.”

Todd La Torre of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

Todd La Torre of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

Delving further into his story, he describes how he got his nickname “The Whip”: “When I was in my single digits as a young lad and hanging out with my friends, they said I whipped on the guitar and thus started calling me “Whip” at parties. Everybody caught on and it’s been a nickname for me ever since I was a kid. I kept it out of amusement, you know, it’s a pretty cool nickname.”

Ruminating on the bands’ recent album title, Wilton explains, “It’s the bands’ fifteenth album. The Verdict is kind of a strong statement; and if one looks at the picture on the album, he is a red hooded figure holding the scales of justice. And one realizes it’s a bit out of balance and you see the turbulent scene behind it. It’s kind of our view of the bits and parts of the world that we have seen. So not knowing what the future is gonna tell.

Scott Rockenfield of Queensryche; photo Reuben Martinez

Scott Rockenfield of Queensryche; photo Reuben Martinez

“I like playing all the new stuff, and it’s great to see the fans reactions to both the new and old stuff,” he conveys. “I think anything off The Verdict is my favorite right now cuz it’s so fresh.”

The bread and butter of almost any rock band is the live show, with its visceral energy and communal interactions. “The connection you get from the fans, seeing the joy in their faces. That is a high you can’t do with medicine, you know. It’s a real connection, and that’s what’s great about being in a band; connecting with the fans, getting that live access, and the fans reciprocate. That’s what keeps the whole thing rolling,” describes Wilton. “Whether it’s a hundred people or a thousand people, you give the same intense show.

Eddie Jackson of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

Eddie Jackson of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

“I think it’s gotten to a point where bands like ours tour so much, and that aspect of playing live starts to infiltrate the creative process,” Wilton points out regarding the live energy to the studio environment.

“The intensity found its way onto the music on The Verdict. And when you’re on the road all the time, ideas come up and you just put them into your computer, document them, and just keep them organized. When it comes time to record, you pull them out and we all start working on them as a band. It’s something I’ve been doing over 35 years, and it works the same way on each album.”

Parker Lundgren of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

Parker Lundgren of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

Speaking about coming to LA, he states: “It’s always fun to play in the LA area. Because obviously you have seen everything over and over and over again. Nothing is ever new in LA, but it’s just a good strong base. The fans are very respective of our heritage and legacy, and the support is just amazing. We get the hardcore fans, the new fans, the young fans, we get all ages.

“LA has been the springboard for so many fans; even though we are from Seattle, it’s always great to play LA. And I love playing the Wiltern, cuz it’s so close to my last name.”

Don’t miss the animal magnetism and feverish energy of Queensryche’s world tour when they hit the Fonda Theatre on March 28!

Noise Revolt: A Night Of Future Beats And Infinite Permutations

EWOL; photo Soodyod

EWOL; photo Soodyod

Bass music is booming in LA. One of the most interesting groups exploring the full spectrum of this music is Noise Revolt. According to founding member Chief Jesta, “Noise Revolt is a LA based music label and art production company, which was founded by a group of artists in 2013.

“Since its conception, Noise Revolt has hosted a unique, diverse roster of DJs and musical artists from around the globe; while also curating artistically crafted event experiences that give artists of all mediums a platform to express their emotions.”

Chief Jesta & dela Moon; photo Soodyod

Chief Jesta & dela Moon; photo Soodyod

Elaborating further, “Along the journey, I created Momentive, a Noise Revolt sub-brand with the intention of curating vibrantly powerful drum and bass shows. The name Momentive stands the evolution of perspective within the genre’s momentum and praises the growth in the future of drum and bass culture. Within just two years, Momentive has had the opportunity to debut world renowned artists such as Alix Perez, and artists from the label Flexout Audio: such as Taelimb, Fearful, Conscience, and most recently Ewol (Flexout Audio/Dispatch Recordings/Lifestlye UK/Plasma Audio/BNKR.)”

On February 16th, 2019, they delivered exactly this to all in attendance.

Photo: Soodyod

Photo: Soodyod

PRISM started the night off, with the mutated warpings of all things bass. The hypnotic throbbing beats gradually built in intensity, releasing into grimy rhythms that sucked you into the floor. When the lyrical flow of MC Woes meshed perfectly with the glitchy percussion and monstrous vibrations, it created an energy that suddenly got everyone moving. That only increased when he launched into bursts of drum and bass; giving a preview of the diverse sounds laying ahead.

KEEKZ; photo Soodyod

KEEKZ; photo Soodyod

KEEKZ took over the decks, launching straight into high octane DnB. As deep bass tones enveloped the room, everyone’s attention was pulled center stage. This set was a tour de force of drum and bass, as he employed nearly every style and subgenre: the crack of the snare during jungle chop ups, the otherworldly synths present in neurofunk, soothing warm basslines found in liquid, the technical explorations of minimal, etc. This deft play between hard hitting anthemic buildups and smooth driving vibes created a buzz in the atmosphere of the room, driving everyone to dance even harder.

AIRGLO; photo Soodyod

AIRGLO; photo Soodyod

We knew we were in for a treat next, as a metal sign towering at the back of the stage was set on fire, displaying the name, AIRGLO. Delivering a concise and focused set, this one was as heavy as it was complex. Layering the energy of technical drum patterns with razor sharp bass lines, the crowd rabidly fed off it, growing rowdier by the minute. Airglo employed an impeccable sense of flow throughout his set, leaving everyone guessing what would come next. He provided a unique twist as well, playing keyboard compositions live over the tracks. It demonstrated precise timing and brought a layer of spontaneity not usually associated with electronic music.

Photo: Soodyod

Photo: Soodyod

Three DJs in, and the night was going strong. Up next were the heavy vibes of EWOL. Just a few minutes into his set, and the growling sub bass coming from the speakers was melting my ears. Combining that low end with hypnotic grooves, he delivered the bass explorations we all were craving. Known for a rolling minimal sound, he used a diverse assortment of tracks displaying it. What caught my ear the most was how fluid the set was, despite the use of a large number of angular, jagged, and/or “off-key” tracks. As the twitchy insect-like high end and deep vibrations came to a climax at the end of the set, it created a fever pitch right at the peak of the party.

TAELIMB; photo Soodyod

TAELIMB; photo Soodyod

After that fiery set came the next dose, at the hands of TAELIMB. Almost instantly, you could hear him dial in his unique sound, as he kept the deep and dark vibes rolling. Scuzzy stabs of fuzz, subterranean bass lines, and expertly crafted beats defined his set. One of the best surprises for me came when he dropped “The Jackal” by Kodo. A throbbing deep track, and a personal favorite, it was one I never expected to hear live. It exemplified what we love about live DJ sets: hearing the favorites and hits while also being exposed to the forgotten and/or unknown ones. Taelimb demonstrated his gift for creating dense atmospheres as well, through layering enticing melodies among challenging rhythms and harsh sounds.

Photo: Soodyod

Photo: Soodyod

DELA MOON and CHIEF JESTA stepped up next, ready to deliver their unique combination of intense grooves, high energy drum patterns, and pulsating grooves. The two DJs easily kept the momentum going when you would suspect it might dissipate. Using everything from industrial techy “rollers” to stripped back moody steppers, they took us on an exploration of everything deep and dark. The manner in which these two musicians fed off of each other was magical, showcasing all the frenzied fun of a b2b set. By the end, there was no doubt this pair were masters at creating dance floor vibes in ways nobody expected.

BRANDON VASQUEZ closed the night out with his mix of breaks. It was the perfect outro for the party; the steady beats and continuous bass kept people dancing, but subtly prepared us for the inevitable end as well.

Overall, it was an amazing show. A standout feature was the way each DJ carried the theme of deep and dark bass music yet created vastly different sets from each other. This created a feeling and energy which was unpredictable and exciting. Whether it was the live art being sprayed on the walls, to the lasers darting across the venue, or the sounds bouncing around the room, there was a sense of dedication and community present that was amazing to be a part of. This was definitely a show I am glad I did not miss.

The Rebel Soul Of Nattali Rize

NATTALI RIZE plays The Cave / Big Bear Lake Mar. 8; press photo

NATTALI RIZE plays The Cave / Big Bear Lake Mar. 8; press photo

Social activism has always been at the heart of reggae music, from “Get Up, Stand Up” by Bob Marley and The Wailers to “No Blood For Oil” by Cocoa Tea. Nattali Rize continues this rebel spirit, bringing the sound and heart of reggae center stage.

“What got me into music was my mother’s impeccable taste in music,” describes Rize. “I grew up listening to the greats: Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, Judy Mowatt, Santana, and The Eagles. You know, it’s a wide range of music, which was all old soul music, that evidently has an influence on an upbringing and soundscape that we grow up to.”

Elaborating further, “It’s not about when we get into music. We’re born with music in us; people are musical and people love music. It’s an element of our life that is creative and taps us into our higher selves. And also taps ourselves into a collective feeling of family, which is nice cuz that’s not something many other things in this current paradigm do.”

Rize’s love and passion for the music is a defining feature of her work, from her early days of busking to the current success of her most recent album, Rebel Frequency.

“It was never a hobby for me!” explains the singer. “From the moment I picked up the guitar, I knew that was what I wanted to do. And I was thirteen years old at the time.

NATTALI RIZE; press photo

NATTALI RIZE; press photo

“Building from the street, as in I was a street performer first, and going to the stage, you meet a lot of people. Whether that’s everyday people you meet and connect with or fellow musicians when you get into a band, all of these things inform and have an influence on you. I spent time in Jamaica so I can see the influence of the culture and reggae music; the birthplace of reggae music has had a big influence and inspiration for me personally. So have everyday people and what life is like cuz music, for me, is a reflection of what the times we are living in are like.”

This journey has given her extensive experiences in playing music around the globe. As a result, she has developed a unique live energy at her shows.

“Our show is high energy, deep dub, roots, and lyrical concert music,” spells out Rize. “Connecting with people is one of the best aspects. Touring and playing live shows is the opportunity to connect with people and just share and create this energy together. It’s new and different, cuz it is unique depending on who is in the room at the time, and when you play music and make music and put intention into these gatherings that we call concerts and shows, then you have the opportunity to harness the energy and intention. That’s the kind of vibration we bring to share with crowds and for them to take home, and to give us energy to get to the next show. Really, it’s a celebration of life.

NATTALI RIZE; photo Andy Ortega

NATTALI RIZE; photo Andy Ortega

“I really like playing this song of ours called ‘One People,’” states Rize. “We are a five piece band and for this song, we break it down to just guitar and vocals for the first part of the song. And this song just really speaks a whole lot of truth. It is a song that I wrote that kind of just downloaded and the lyrics just flowed out in one hit; it’s become a really popular song for my particular audience in all parts of the world. This song is always a joy because I let them sing the chorus with me, and they sing it so beautifully so it’s nice to hear.”

2019 is looking like another great year for the reggae singer. “Currently, we are well on the way to a new album, which will be released this year so that’s very exciting,” reveals Rize. “Right now, we are starting a six-week tour across America and the album we are gonna try and squeeze in, but tour life is very busy.

“After that, we have about a month before any more shows, so we are looking forward to finishing a new album and releasing it in the second half of the year and being back on the road sharing those new songs.”

Make sure you catch all the soulful excitement and vibrant energy Nattali Rize brings to all her upcoming shows in SoCal!

ARISE ROOTS: One Love Cali Reggae Fest 2019

ARISE ROOTS play One Love Cali Fest Feb. 8-10; photo Andy Ortega

ARISE ROOTS play One Love Cali Fest Feb. 8-10; photo Andy Ortega

Reggae has been around for quite some time now, and over the years it has only gotten more popular. It has been through many changes, from the early days of inception through its exploration in genre-mixing as of late. It is always refreshing to see a band who can pull from its long history while adapting the music to recent changes in the musical landscape; Arise Roots deftly achieves this with their unique take on reggae.

“Root is what our own personal likes and loves were,” according to lead singer Karim Israel. “All our hearts were definitely in Roots, and that’s kinda what brought us together when we first met. We all came together and started jamming on some Dennis Brown and different Roots artists. That comes from my own personal love for that subgenre of Reggae.”

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

Further explaining the band’s desires, he goes on, “One thing we focused on though, in the music, was not just focusing on Roots; like we incorporate other styles and genres of Reggae, and not even just a subgenre itself. We are seeking to not just put ourselves in the box of Roots, but just creativity and music. And so, whatever comes out, we’re not necessarily trying to fit it or keep it into that Roots box. It’s still Reggae definitely, but we’re not just pigeonholing ourselves into just Roots.

“The live show, to me, by far is the most amazing factor/part/whatever you wanna call it in being a musician. That energy. It’s the energy that the crowd brings to the table every night. No two shows are exactly the same; it really depends on each and every individual person that is there, and what they bring to it. When people come, and they are expecting to share in the experience, and they are coming and bringing their energy, bringing their anticipation….it just adds. It’s like cooking a big pot of gumbo, and each show and person brings its own thing to the table. Some nights are great, some nights are just absolutely amazing.”

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

His passion for music is undeniable, and obvious when one goes to an Arise Roots concert. Elaborating further, “Being able to feed off that energy, and I like to not just feed but also create that energy. So that people can feed off of our energy…and it just keeps going back and forth like an electrical current. It just keeps going back and forth, back and forth, and that’s the best way I can describe it – as a current. It just keeps rotating and rotating, going and going. It’s almost unexplainable being up there and feeling it; and once the people start singing the words and stuff….it’s just amazing!”

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

Israel is obviously a lyricist with his uncanny ability to put his passion into words the way he does. He describes the songwriting process, “When we write these songs, no one is guaranteeing that somebody is gonna like the song that you write. When we finally write it, and finish second guessing ourselves, and put the words on the paper; and once those words actually come out and you see the people digging it- it’s a relief, it’s a natural high that you feel, and it’s amazing. That’s what we like to bring to the table, a piece of our souls.”
Israel was raised on Reggae via his parents, especially his dad. And recently had one of his favorite moments in the band: “We were playing in San Francisco, and I was able to have my dad come onstage and sing. Which for me was a dream come true cuz my dad was the one who introduced me to Reggae music from birth.

“He actually emigrated from Jamaica to the States, back in the seventies, to do Reggae music. My mom and dad actually met at a Reggae show, so if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here. So, the whole time we have been playing, he has being hearing the stuff and seeing it online but had never been able to make it out to a show. In San Francisco, he not only was able to see us but also come onstage and perform. That was a huge moment for me.”

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

Arise Roots is amped and excited for what the future holds, evidenced by their long hours spent on their upcoming new album. Israel explains, “It’s our best album to date. We are extremely excited to get it out. We’ve done some kinds of experimentation with some sounds, and even the writing on some of the tracks has been a little out of the box for us.

“One thing that is different about this album than the others before is that before we would play it live and see what the crowd participation was like. If it works with the crowd, we’ll add that to the list of songs that will most likely be on the album. This time around, we have kept a lot of stuff secret and just kept it amongst ourselves. Not let anybody hear it, not even family members. Just pulsing on creating the vibe, the feel of the album, the mood of the album, the sound of the album. And then release it all together at once.”

But while waiting for the album to drop, Arise Roots shows are the best place to catch the smooth vibes and soul-filled music this band brings to Reggae. Catch them at the One Love Cali Fest Feb. 8-10.