The Sound Of Positivity

CHRISTIAN FRENCH plays Constellation Room Feb. 29; press photo

CHRISTIAN FRENCH plays Constellation Room Feb. 29; press photo

Christian French has had a phenomenal rise to success in a short amount of time. And it all began from quite humble beginnings. “That’s a funny story actually,” he says. “My friend came into choir class – at the time I was in a school where you either had to be in band or choir class and I was in both for a year. So, he came into choir class one day and we learned “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles. He came in and had learned to play that from YouTube and showed me how he had learned it on piano. And I was like, ‘I can do that as well.’ So, I learned that song and just started learning how to play all my favorite songs.

“That was going on for a couple of years and I started putting my covers up on Soundcloud. Gradually, I just kept getting better at piano and started writing my own stuff. After I found I could write my own stuff, I just kept developing it more and more. Once I got to college, I started releasing music through Spotify and compilation via my college. And it was in my college town that I met my manager and we came out here and that’s where we are at now.”

Coming up with a name is sometimes one of the more challenging aspects to being a musical act, but often times the simplest route really is the best. “That was the debate for some time,” states French. “But Christian French is just my name and my music is genuine as myself; there’s always the thought of thinking about a different name but it just seemed to fit and that’s all I can really say.”

Inspiration can come from anywhere, and French has shown he seeks it in many of the unlikeliest places time and time again. “It varies from time to time,” he reveals. “Sometimes, I will mess around until I find some chords I like that go together or write lyrics that I get inspired from. Lately, I’ve been tapping into podcasts and reading a lot of stuff from self-help books and taking away the main points from them – trying to apply those to my music and see If I can write a story around it.”

CHRISTIAN FRENCH; press photo

CHRISTIAN FRENCH; press photo

The concept behind Bright Side Of The Moon is simple yet powerful. “It’s based off this idea of consistently focusing on the bright side of things rather than letting all the negativity take over,” explains French. “That was kind of the theme of it, because from my own experiences and being in bummer situations one day I realized that I didn’t have to be so bummed out. It’s all about a change of attitude, and after I realized that a lot of things started changing for me for the better.

“I started taking the good things out of situations rather than being stuck on the past. I started seeing so much improvement in my life that I wanted to write about it and pass the knowledge along. And that’s what Bright Side of the Moon really is, and what the whole tour is about.

“We released Bright Side of the Moon last August. We hit a lot of towns on that one but not as many as I wanted to, so we are bringing it back around so I can hit all the places we didn’t get to last fall.”

Every artist has something that drives them, something that they are extremely proud of: “The reaction to it,” he describes. “My thing with music is as long as I’m having a positive impact on people’s lives is all I really care about. The response to my songs was so motivating…and not everyone who has this type of knowledge is going to know they can do all these things, and just putting it out there for people to realize has been amazing. I’ve heard so many great and life changing stories from fans who have taken it to heart.”

In addition to that is the sheer joy of playing live for his fans. “It’s just a whole other connection to the music,” French illustrates. “Being there with fans who I’ve talked to for months over social media, finally getting to see them live and rocking out with them… there’s just no feeling to compare it to. I mean, we have live drum and live guitar so it’s just a new energy for them to experience. Last tour was the first time I got to bring a drummer out with us and that just created a whole new vibe.

“There’s a couple that are always a lot of fun to play. “By Myself” is one that everybody knows, and I always have fun with. The same goes for “Love Ride,” and both those songs have a lot of energy to them. And then, one of my personal favorites is “Head First”. Every time I play it, it’s such a rocking song. So those would be three favorites I love to play.”

Getting ready for the next show is a constant process for every touring band, and each always finds their own unique way of combating the pre-show jitters. “We kind of do our own thing to try and get into the zone,” conveys French. “My thing is I go into a bathroom and start warming up – start stretching, going over my lines, and getting into a zone where I’m not thinking about anything else. Then a few minutes before a show we will get together, talk about the show, and a have little huddle to establish a base.”

The future looks bright for French as well, who is already extremely busy forging ahead. “I just started releasing this cycle of music and just released a song called “Time Of Our Lives,” he asserts. “We are going to continue releasing music this March/April and over the next couple of months. And are also going to be on this tour for the Spring as well. After that, the focus is going to be on doing a lot of college shows and hopefully be back on the road in the fall. I also plan on releasing a lot more music before the year is over as well. I’m super excited for 2020 and getting all of this stuff out there.”

Catch Christian French on his Bright Side of the Moon Tour Part Two tour, when he plays the Constellation Room on February 29th!

Fun In The Dark

CANDL; press photo

CANDL; press photo

“That one has a history to it,” explains Walter Morales, AKA CANDL. “Going back to my creative art side, CANDL came from a graffiti background. A buddy of mine from way back in 2007 basically gave me the name CANDL, because he said anytime I walked into a room I would light the place up and had a good spirit… that I had a good aura and was always smiling. So, he told me, ‘I’m going to call you CANDL because you’re a bearer of light’. So that’s what it means, it came from my graffiti roots and brought it over to this whole DJing and producing thing.”

His path from graffiti artist to Producer/DJ is one that developed naturally and influenced the way in which he developed his style. “When I first started learning how to DJ, I was into more techno and tech house,” he elaborates. “It was researching those kinds of sounds that led me to like the UK brand of things, like jagged house and bassline; for me, it just hit way harder and was a lot more creative than the stuff I’d be hearing.

“A lot of the tech house is good, and so is the US bass house stuff, but the UK bass stuff was so much heavier to me and so much more creative and when it comes to the dancefloor, I just love spinning that stuff. I always told myself I’d make the kind of stuff that I would want to spin. I still make tech house stuff and other kinds of bass music, but it always has to be creative and smack.”

The track “DTF,” shows his ingenuity for creating tunes full of warbling bass lines, catchy vocal samples, and a unique sense of rhythm. The atmospherics create the dark vibe CANDL loves to employ but this is also a track that sets a dancefloor ablaze; listening to the track instantly creates a vision of a dark club filled with bodies writhing in perfect unison to the beat.

In addition to his activities as CANDL, Morales also helped found one of the most creative and original collectives currently operating in Los Angeles. “Basically, with LO FREQS, that all came into the picture when I met my buddy John (Mèlay) at the LA Recording school and we were the only two dudes making house music in class… everybody else was basically pop, trap, or dubstep,” describes Morales. “So naturally, we got together as we were doing the same thing. One day we were having a talk about doing something real, John said he had a dope name that was LO FREQS and we just took it from there.”

Darkside 2 cover art

Darkside 2 cover art

Since then, the status and respect for everyone involved has only grown stronger. “We stayed on top of it and didn’t want to be another cookie cutter crew, so we focused on having our friends DJ and produce top quality sh**,” he adds. “I didn’t care if it was my own brother trying to get in, if he wasn’t hungry about it and doing quality material then he would have to earn his keep. We just had this idea of doing something big and different – to bring our kinds of sounds and sounds from the UK out here.”

“The Night” is a prime example of both CANDL and LO FREQS mission to fuse the UK Sound with their own original sound. Hypnotic vocal samples create a very LA kind of vibe while the specific tonalities of the bass are very reminiscent of the UK bass sound. Together, it creates a driving house track that showcases the power this specific hybrid sound possesses.

While starting out as a DJ, he eventually got involved in production due to its potential for expressing his own unique style of making music. “What got me into production?” asks Morales. “Basically, I’ve always been creative, and always been into the scene since about 2005… like house music and trance music.

“Creating music came much later, about 2015. I think what inspired me was just hearing a bunch of dope stuff and dope music from everywhere really, and the creative part of me just really wanted to create. I was an artist before that, doing drawing and painting and stuff like that. Being able to create just called to me.

“Producing is dope and it’s fun to get creative but being able to go out there and play sets/shows is an amazing part of it. Being able to go out there and influence people with sounds and ideas that you put out there, it’s a grand thing to be able to effect that kind of change and emotion… being able to take a person out of whatever drama they have going on that day and have them lose themselves in the music is a really good feeling. Studio time is just as valuable, that’s where the magic is made. You gotta be able to make that magic to bring out there.”

The Darkside EP is his newest release to date, and its inception as well as its content are landmarks in the ongoing development of CANDL. “The title of the EP resulted from the fact that the main track is called ‘Darkside’; that was the first track that got signed and the rest of the tracks came from that,” says Morales. “If anyone has ever heard my sets, I play a lot of dark/heavy kind of vibes whether it’s house or breakbeat, and it’s a style I’m known for. I’m not going to say G-House kind of dark or Bloodtone dark, but more UK bass which is darker and weirder. So, it just made complete sense with the kind of sound I have that I play on the dancefloor.”

Dark and weird is at the forefront of the sound of CANDL, and “Darkside” truly demonstrates his mastery of it. The mutated bass frequencies, glitchy synth motifs, and off-key rhythm employed throughout the tune create one that infects the brain and the muscles at the same time, thus making this a track easily enjoyed in any environment. The track is filled with ambient explorations as well as constant surges of effects that effortlessly combine the best of the studio world and the live environment.

“One of the things I’m most proud of about this is that it is my first UK label release,” he points out. “I’ve been playing UK stuff for so long so it’s only right to have those kinds of tracks come out on that label. Honestly, I wouldn’t want them anywhere else. I respect all the labels out there, and the ones out here, but it’s not really for me because of the style that I do. So, it feels more at home on Incursion Records; plus, the fact all those dudes are killing it in their own right and it just feels super right.

“I’ve got another EP dropping through LO FREQS, which is going to have five or six more tracks on it – that is just going to take the madness even further,” reveals Morales. “Also, super stoked on that release; really, the Darkside EP is my first EP release ever, as I’ve mostly been releasing singles and through compilations and stuff like that. This upcoming one on LO FREQS is going to be my first EP release on that label as well, and the fact that it’s getting released on the label I helped create just makes it that much more epic. I’m going to be able to showcase even more of that style that the Darkside EP offers.”

Out now on Incursion Records, Darkside EP by CANDL is a must-have release for any fan of bass music! And stay locked in on CANDL and LO FREQS, as things are only going to get wilder and more exciting!

K!NGS Reign Supreme

K!NGS; press photo

K!NGS; press photo

Bass music continues to get better and better here in LA. Mark Kingsley has long played an active role in this development; through his acts Da Moth and K!NGS, as well as co-producing Mutate Events and being the COO at Producers Social. K!NGS latest release is through the UK label Slime Recordings, which Transgressions Part 2 dropped February 7th.

K!NGS is a newer project for the producer with a unique history of development. “It’s actually a part of my last name,” states Mark Kingsley. “I wanted to use something that involved or used my last name, so I went with the kings thing and just dropped off the last few letters. And then I put the exclamation point because I live in LA and there is the Kings team so there’s that competition. So, for branding purposes I added that exclamation point.

K!NGS Transgressions Part 2 cover art

K!NGS Transgressions Part 2 cover art

“Basically, where Kings came from is that I have been making bass music going on for about twenty years now. I felt like I got to a point where I wasn’t feeling I could grow as fast as I wanted to so went back to my roots. When I first started DJing, I played a lot of UK 2-step and garage. I started looking back at some of the older music and became really inspired by it. So, I started tinkering around with that and it just came really naturally as it was the first music I got into when I started DJing.”

That older influence is readily apparent on the EP: Tracks like “Turn It Up” employ that classic beat and vocal sound that has long set dancefloors ablaze, with a funky type vibe and heavy bass line that everyone can get down to. “Gone” is much more restrained and mellow yet uses subtle breaks and FX to create emotive landscapes that fully affect both the mind and the body at the same time.

“So, I was still looking to make bass heavy and bass forward music, but more accessible to the mainstream, I would say, something more pop-oriented and vocal heavy, more happy music,” conveys Kingsley. “Most of the stuff I write for Da Moth is dark and psychedelic, and really heavy nighttime club music. I wanted to go on the opposite end and more explore another side of me and my art, like love songs and the pop-oriented material.”

Speaking towards the name of the EP, he elaborates on this idea: “I’ve spent the past 15 years creating a brand with my other project that was very strange, dark and psychedelic and that’s what a lot of people got to know me for…But being a child of the 80s, I’ve always had a passion for pop music and songs about love and heartbreak. I’ve always kind of hidden that side of me in my music…So I was working on K!NGS for about a year before I had the nerve to actually show anyone in fear of being judged I guess…So K!NGS really felt like it was this secret lover that I visited on weekends in my studio…I feel like it’s so far from what I’m known for that no one would get it…I am glad I finally got the nerve to share it because its honestly some of my favorite work I’ve ever done and I’m super happy to show this lighter side of me.”

K!NGS; press photo

K!NGS; press photo

“Wait For Love” is the best example of this lighter side. The beat is poppy and upbeat indeed, with synth melodies and effects that join the rhythm in evoking an uplifting mood. You can hear a little of his other side in the longing desire of the vocals, but nevertheless the overall atmosphere of the tune is positive and one that would get anyone out of a bad funk throughout their day.

One place this is demonstrated is in the song titles themselves. “Out of Love” has love in the title itself, but even the feelings created through the lyrics themselves and the melodies employed quickly recall the kinds of emotions we all experience when dealing with the complexity of love and relationships.

It’s a challenge producing music that satisfies all the spectrums of listeners out there, and Kingsley has spent many long hours fine tuning this into the hybrid sound he showcases on this EP.

“My first two releases as K!NGS were very 2-step influenced and UK sounding whereas this one I feel has more of my own sound,” he describes. “I was having trouble finding my own audience in the US and then got picked up by the UK label, so it’s had a lot of success overseas. Part of the reason for that here is I think it’s a sound that is a little different than what people into house are used to. They can be like “yea, its bassy” but aren’t really sure about it. And on this EP, I think there is a nice medium – like it has a lot of US House influences but still has that UK Bass/Grime sound when it comes to the lower end. I’m really proud of it because it has a very unique sound and there’s not much out there that sounds like it.”

K!NGS logo

K!NGS logo

“Let You Go” unites these two sides seamlessly. The bass is very deep and heavy, along with the hypnotic use of the melodic motif. The rhythm is driving and deep, contrasting nicely with the ethereal vocals that have a darker theme to them as well. There are a lot of subtle complexities employed on this particular tune and that’s why this is a great hybrid of styles from both sides of the pond.

Being a huge fan of the UK sound, it’s a huge success story for K!NGS to be featured on a seminal label like this one.

“It’s a really cool story…. They are called Slime Recordings, and pretty much my favorite label even before I got contacted by them,” says Kingsley. “I’ve played a lot of their music in my sets, and a lot of my current top ten producers are on that label. I got an email one day from the head of the label, saying they heard one of my tracks from a Spotify playlist and that they really liked it. Basically, asked me to put material on their label, and were starting a side label that featured fresh artists and wanted me to be a part of that. I sent them my release and they said, ‘Screw the side label, we want to put it out on the main one’. This is the second release on the label, they have been super supportive, and really done a lot to help me along the way.”

Expect big things from K!NGS going forward! Grab the EP Transgressions Part 2; and you can catch K!NGS live at his first official SoCal show, Lost in the Sauce, happening April 17-19.

BC Rydah And YESKA Beatz Keep The Jungle Growing

Yeska

Yeska

“I don’t know, it’s something about those breaks, you know?” says BC Rydah. “I feel more connected to those breaks and come from that kind of chemical music.

“When I got introduced to this stuff, I was watching Liquid Television, with Alex Reece playing on the videos and stuff like that. But it’s just something about those breaks, all the elements of it are dope. Like every single break that I’ve heard, every manipulation, just brings a lot of excitement to the dance floor and to the music.”

A stunning endorsement of Jungle music, straight from the mouth of one of LA’s best practitioners of the style. A part of YESKA Beatz, who run the local magazine Jungle Juice, he has been involved in bringing Jungle to the masses for over a decade now.

“My name, BC, stands for Beach City,” explains Rydah. “That’s pretty much what it means. I go by BC Rydah because that’s what I represent and it’s just a cool name that came together following a bunch of homies just kicking it and smoking together. I’ve been running with this since about 2009; before that, I had other names and monikers, but it wasn’t until this one that I started taking music and my approach to the sound and culture more serious.

“The jungle scene found me! Like, when I was a youngster, me and the homies used to listen to tapes. Back in the late 90’s, one of my boys gave me a jungle tape and a hardcore tape, and I also came across compilations. But I was always listening to other stuff, was always listening to like the Chemical Brothers and Crystal Method because Big Beat was really big around that time. That was a part of my introduction as well as having the LA Hard House scene heavily surrounding me. So it was like I’d hear all of it: whether it was on the radio or like having DJ’s come to our school dances and playing it there with our homies battling in circles and stuff.”

Like many, he ended up finding his way to the music via raves, shows, and the culture behind it.

“I was kind of always around electronic music, but it wasn’t until I was in high school that I started going out and going to raves. I remember going to this one party, it was a club that was a gutted-out hotel that they turned into a rave club. I saw R.A.W. spinning there and he blew me away with turntable techniques. It was that and another party, at Utopia, where they had hip-hop one day and drum and bass the next day. It was pretty much after those events that I was like, ‘This is what I do now’.”

What is YESKA Beatz? According to Rydah, “We are a Junglist movement, based out of Long Beach, that started in 2012. Our goal is to bring back good, real jungle music from this area. In the beginning, I was trying to do something different but now I really like how we are putting out a different sound than the rest of what’s out on the west coast. Originally at the start, it was a skate crew that I was a part of. Later we incorporated that with the beats and now, here we are.

“The name came together while smoking a blunt in a backyard and it just created itself. We have about twenty different DJ’s and producers who are part of the crew; we also have producers from all over the world who put out stuff on our label. We stay dedicated to the cause, making sure that the culture keeps extending and people get fed that knowledge and understanding.”

Jungle Juice itself is a magazine but the events that celebrate each release are also an integral part of it as well.

“The magazine was supposed to be a monthly thing, but dealing with issues and trying to stay organized we decided to start dropping the issue without it needing to be a monthly thing,” Rydah elaborates.
“When it comes out, it comes out. But whenever we do drop an issue, we are going to do an event; this way people are informed as well as entertained. Because these are all about everyone having a good time, coming out and having a good experience. I want people to experience what it was like for me when I got into music. It’s all about experiencing that love, that vibe.”

Throwing these shows takes a huge amount of effort and planning, and it’s his genuine love for the music which drives his zeal for putting the shows together.

“I’m really excited; it’s all about all these ones we have done but really excited for the artist who is coming out. He’s a good friend and I’ve done some art shows with him throughout the years, and really want people to see his talent. Next year is going to be really exciting, as it’s going to be coming back full force with the same Jungle mind state in a new area, and ready to be in your hands.”

The future of this movement is only gaining more and more momentum as time goes on, with a blistering amount of material in the works.

“YESKA Beatz has done about sixteen releases,” reveals Rydah. “We are working on the single series, which will have stuff from R.A.W./6Blocc and Ed808 and is beginning next year. It will be single releases every month with full album releases every few months, and vinyl releases every six months. So definitely be on the lookout for a lot of new dope releases from the streets of Cali and abroad. But the focus will be on our stateside Jungle sound.

“With Jungle Juice, everyone should just come out and support! A big thank you goes out to all those involved – all the crews, different promoters, Supply and Demand in Long Beach. We are just going to keep this thing growing and spreading the vibe!”

Complexity Breeds Creativity In Thank You Scientist!

THANK YOU SCIENTIST; press photo

THANK YOU SCIENTIST; press photo

Thank You Scientist. No, that is not a phrase but the name of a radically diverse band that is sweeping across the country. “I wish I had an entertaining story for it, but it was one of those things that I thought sounded good and fit the vibe of our music,” laughs Tom Monda of Thank You Scientist. “It’s not from Half-Baked like many people theorize.”

A rock band well known for their quirky style and dynamic sound; Thank You Scientist has been churning out their unique vision of progressive rock ever since their first self-release in 2011. One of the most interesting aspects to this band has been their evolution into the seven-person group they are now.

“The idea of the band was always to have an expanded ensemble, you know, as compared to the normal rock setup,” Monda explains. “And I think our sound has become more evolved to become more orchestrated and intricated and dynamic over the years. We want to continue that trajectory moving forward.

“Most of us are pretty big Frank Zappa fans, and there’s a lot of the seventies fusion stuff we all love. Bands like Tool and Mr. Bungle, too. “We are big fans of stuff like that. But as listeners, we’re totally all over the map so it’s hard to pinpoint an exact influence. But that’s what makes it cool, everyone has a pretty unique perspective.”

The band released their most ambitious album this year and every aspect of it is massively layered with details from its creation, to the songs themselves.

Terraformer… we called it that because it was the start of a new chapter with the band due to a couple new members and stuff like that,” divulges Monda. “So, it was like forging a new place to live so to speak. It’s a huge ginormous double album with lots of music on it. We are very proud of it and I don’t know what else to say except it’s got some of our most experimental music to date; I also think it has a very strong narrative and is a cohesive album and hope that people enjoy it.

Terraformer cover art

Terraformer cover art

“I’m very proud of the visual representation, how it relates to the music. It’s a very cohesive package in terms of the way the art looks; and the amazing art we had done by our friend, who did illustrations for each song. I think coupled with the art; it is the most immersive thing we have done. It’s something I want people to sit back with and just dive into. So, I’m proud of the fact that we were able to accomplish that with Terraformer, that kind of immersion.”

With the album complete, the band is now bringing it live to the entire county. “This is our first national tour supporting Terraformer, and it’s going great,” Monda states. “We had a sold-out show in Chicago the other night and the turnouts have been excellent. We are just having a blast playing all this new stuff for people.”

This is a band that seeks out challenges and shakes things up every chance they get. Monda notes, “I like the spontaneity you have at a live show, like the fact that we are so used to playing together so we have like little musical jokes. Or things that will happen during the set, like things one member will grab onto in a funny way. That kind of dynamic element is really great to me. And even though Thank You Scientist doesn’t have a super amount of room, I like the opportunity to get to improvise in front of people and make each night a unique experience in some way, both for myself and those listening.

“In our instrumental, our drummer always throws in a weird sample at a certain point in the music and we never know what it’s going to be. Last night he played a ridiculous sample of Alex Jones and the audience got so hyped about it. It was this thing, I’m sure people have seen it on YouTube, where he is ranting about goblins. But just to see the audience reaction to that made me laugh quite a bit. That was a highlight so far; wish I had a more profound musical highlight than something related to Alex Jones but that will have to do.”

It doesn’t stop there as evidenced by the way Monda takes risks even with his guitar itself. “I love playing the title track off our new album, Terraformer; a song that is played on fretless guitar which is always a challenge to play live. It just has cool, unique techniques in the song that are… every single night is tricky so that’s a nice challenge, but I have fun giving it a try. My failure rate is probably at 50% but hopefully it gets better as the tour goes on.”

How does such a large band effectively play such complex material together every night? “It’s typically drinking a lot of coffee and hanging out with our dog Max who goes on tour with us,” reveals Monda. “Everybody gets some dog snuggles, drinks some coffee, and has a powwow.”

The future shows no slowing down for Thank You Scientist. According to Monda, “Just today, we released a brand new single and video and hope people enjoy that. It’s nothing that is on Terraformer. Everyone can find that on our various social media outlets. It’s something really goofy and funny and I can’t wait for people to check it out.

“We are going keep touring in support of Terraformer for a bit as well. I know that me, personally, after this tour will be jumping back into the writing world and try to come up with as much stuff as I can. So that will be fun to hash out with the boys. We are just going to keep on grinding and see what happens.”

The Bewitching Cacophony Of FNGRNLS

FNGRNLS cover

FNGRNLS cover

“I use a lot of aggressive sounds, and at one point was using a lot of dissonance and it reminded me of nails on a chalkboard,” explains Zach Shrout, the creative force behind FNGRNLS. “Which is where I kind of got the name from. I just got rid of all the vowels and capitalized cuz it looks cool!”

A fitting description and glimpse into the sound of FNGRNLS, an act characterized by its sprawling exploration of electronic music. With a few releases under his belt over the past few years, he has methodically cemented his dark and challenging sound and is set to bring us another epic dose of it in the form of his upcoming release.

“The title is Ritual Sacrifice, and it refers to the sacrifices any creative makes,” describes Shrout. “Like, it’s a really isolating lifestyle, you know? It takes a lot of your time and takes a lot of time away from family and friends and relationships. So, it’s about the sacrifices we make in pursuit of our craft.”

A labor of love culminating from years of work, much of it has been influenced by his musical development. “I’ve been playing guitar and always been a metalhead my whole life,” he expounds. “I started playing guitar when I was fifteen or sixteen and was roughly eighteen or nineteen when I started messing with Fruity Loops. I was writing a bunch of metal songs and writing my own music and looking for a way to program my own drums and also record my own stuff.

“I found Fruity Loops, although didn’t know what it was; I had read somewhere that it was something I could use to program my own drums. I opened it up and found I could do so much more with it so started making shitty techno music (laughs). It was really bad, my early stuff. But that’s how I got into it. I messed around with it for a while and ended up taking a long break from it, then got back into it and started the FNGRNLS project and taking it all more seriously.”

One listen to the album and his desire to keep things interesting becomes readily apparent, from the tempo shifts in “Redlining” or the mutating melodies “Odyssey” possesses. “I’m a big fan of variety, I just like to keep it interesting. I get really bored making the same kind of stuff over and over,” Shrout remarks. “And I get bored listening to the same kind of stuff too. So, I try to make whatever it is that I want to hear, whatever I’m interested in listening to. And always ends up being a big variety.

“Originally it was going to be a three or four song EP with like trap,” reveals the producer. “But I just kept getting ideas and just ran with it, kept going with it until I didn’t have anymore ideas. That’s the thing, once I start making stuff, I just open a floodgate and just can’t stop. So that’s where it turned into an album. It wasn’t a conscious decision, it just happened.”

The number of tracks alone signify this – but as you journey through it, the music itself reveals a wide variety of creative impulses as well. The downtempo pace of “Quench” employs a myriad of layers to create a unique atmosphere where each listen reveals something you didn’t notice before. For those desiring something to bang their heads to and fill their ears with glitchy noises, look no further than “The Temple Void.” Things get weird in the best possible way on “Double Dose (ft. VENMC),” a track that deftly blends trap with the of sound of deep dub and tops it off with some twisted vocals that make it.

“I feel that I leveled up on this album in just about every way,” says Shrout. “I feel like I’m finally at the point in production where I can make the sounds that I’m hearing in my head. So, what I’m proud of is being able to achieve what I wanted to with most of the tracks. They really capture the mood I was trying to create. “Guiding Light” or “Bloodletting” are two favorites of mine from this album.

“Guiding Light is a track I’ve been wanting to make for years. It’s kind of about loved ones who have passed on and how we keep them alive in our memories, we still remember the lessons they taught us and how they have helped us through our lives even though they aren’t here anymore. That’s kind of what the song is about and is one that I put off for a long time because I didn’t think I was a good enough musician or producer to do the idea justice. But I decided to just go with it and see if I could make it happen, and I’m really happy with the way that it turned out.”

FNGRNLS

FNGRNLS

One of the biggest challenges about electronic music is the tension between working in the studio and performing live, especially as every musician makes music for vastly different reasons. “I prefer being in the studio because it’s more relaxed and I can go at my own pace, there’s not as much pressure. I do love performing live too, but it’s just really nerve-wracking at the same time. I’d like to do more shows and have done radio shows and have talked to people about doing more of those as well.”

The production on the album is top notch, and it quickly comes across how at home Shrout is in the studio. The DnB influenced track “Doomshape,” uses the space that can be achieved in the studio to build a heavy vibe and create its dynamic sound. The subterranean bass which drives “Occultation” is another great example of his expertise, as each layer is thick and full, yet blends perfectly together without clashing.

“My whole philosophy in regard to electronic music is…like I said, I’m a big metalhead and that’s always been at the core of who I am musically. I feel that heaviness isn’t really exclusive to metal, so I’m trying to make music that is heavy without relying on guitars and insane drums and stuff. That’s a big driving force behind the sound of FNGRNLS, trying to capture and make darker textures and atmospheres and stuff to make music that’s aggressive and angry without being metal. These days I’m mostly into metal, the more extreme the better. But I still listen to it all.”

This is a lofty ambition, yet one he seems to effortlessly achieve. There is something for everyone on this album, whether you crave the heaviest of the heavy or something for dancing. Ritual Sacrifice is due for release November 20. It’s a release you do not want to pass up!

Journey Of The Kemst – Part 1

Kemst; press photo

Kemst; press photo

In today’s world of music, there are so many artists it is far too easy to miss the plethora of great art out there. What we seek out is different for everyone, but one element that always stands out is when an artist’s unbridled passion. Kemst is one of those artists; one who has deftly brought together the style of the streets and fused that with the surrealism present in beat music.

First came the creation of the name. “Originally, it wasn’t even a name for music,” he explains. “It was for graffiti and at the time, I wanted a different name. I had a few and was switching up and switching schools so I was like, I want a name. I was watching a bunch of stuff and saw Ghostbusters…. heard Keymaster and was like, ‘Whoa, that’s fresh’. After that, I realized that’s a lot to write and tag up and so I shortened that to Kemst. I had a few names to rhyme under since I was doing some hip-hop stuff but being creative I didn’t come up with another name and everyone was calling me Kemst, that’s who I was so I switch up.”

Next came the long journey into the world of music. “There was a piano in my house when I was a kid,” Kemst explains. “My sister could play, and I kind of wanted to play…. but I was doing other things so I wasn’t into it in that way. A year or so later, having been touched by hip hop as a younger kid, seeing cousins with turntables and everything, it stayed in my brain. Later, some friends of mine were getting really into it and I thought, ‘Yea, I’m down with that’.

Kemst; press photo

Kemst; press photo

“I saved up money from allowances and got some belt drive turntables. Started playing events like my sister’s engagement party, house gigs, birthday parties and whatever so I was able to upgrade to a full sound system, though not by our current standards of a sound system. That was the first time I was trying to make it and got the first consumer sampler keyboard. I would sample the b-side of Public Enemy’s “Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos”, which was “B-side Wins Again.” So, I’d get that and you had to tape the key down so it plays the sample…and you have to get the loop and it’s a real short sample time, you either got it or you don’t. I never could record the full thing cuz people would always open the bedroom door or something like that.”

The early nineties were a wild and diverse time to be into music; electronic music was first starting to make its presence known, while we still had the weirdness of rock as a dominant force along with hip-hop beginning to take over. Kemst took full advantage and dabbled in pretty much everything.

“I was DJing for a while, just doing that and wasn’t rapping or anything like that,” he elaborates. “About ‘93-’94, I got into a couple bands: one was a hardcore band I did cameos with called Hateface; and I used to get up and spit freestyles with one called LA Downset, like 90’s era hardcore style and my graffiti crews were in it as well. I was also in an acid jazz band called Indigenous Colors for a couple years, and we did record some stuff. There was one EP we recorded but it was never released. Actually, I got with them because I got on the mic at a party and afterwards the guitarist hit me up. It’s funny cuz everyone in that band had timing and desire – the trumpet player went to DaKah the hip hop orchestra; the sax player was with Ozomatli – everyone was doing something …. I don’t know if it was just luck or timing.”

Jungle music started coming into the LA scene around this time and grabbed hold of him like nothing else. “Then I was a cajoled by a friend to go to his house, to hang out with his friend who I went to high school with, but we didn’t really hang out back then,” recounts Kemst. “And that guy was Deacon, to hear his mixtapes and just know the strength of this DJ…. R.A.W., Deacon, and Machete – that was the row going down. Curious on top too, those were the local original rude boy crews you know? THAT was recognition. Before that, it was the pressure crews, and that had Markman who now does Markman Sound. He now teaches at SAE and at the Musician’s Institute and is just a heavy sound design and Ableton cat.

Kemst; CD artwork

Kemst; CD artwork

“A lot of people were just doing things because the Internet didn’t exist in its current form and so you had to really seek it out. It was still the era of, ‘I don’t know if your cool enough to have this tape’. After that, I was still making music, but it seemed like everyone was collecting the best of drum and bass because all of it was coming out on vinyl and there were ten records per city. So, if you were buying it, you were getting the most out of date stuff in the world because the timeline of a tune was that fast. It was really quick and that didn’t really interest me, I was like ‘I’ll never keep up’.”

From the get go, he sought to differentiate himself and found highly creative ways of doing that. “So, I would just buy a lot of old soul, jazz, reggae, and dollar bin hip hop,” says Kemst. “Especially the instrumental sides since nobody listens to these songs. So those instrumentals were fresh when you played it.

“I was making music, but nothing got saved; and now it’s come to, since that time and ever since dubstep manifested…work time and hustle all came together to where you could finally have a computer that recorded what you want. It wasn’t a tower or anything, but I got the stuff…maybe not all the right stuff…. I was working with Cubase at first and got monitors way too big for my space, but that setup led me to reason.”

The rapid technological development became both a blessing and a curse for Kemst. “I was frustrated and was trying to get with the learning curve!” he expounds. “This was ’06-’07 and at the time was coming back from a double hernia surgery, had a bum knee, and thought I was done. I had no diaphragm and couldn’t spin; the year prior had been in the streets for a minute….so I was really finding redemption. That setup, that manifestation and after only a year getting back into it, I’m all of a sudden being quoted as the dubstep guy even though I was still playing drum and bass stuff.

“And as I moved over and was playing these other shows, I always made room for other dudes to get on the mic too; I’ve always been cool with everyone trying to do their thing. We kicked all that around to other people a few times and using Biggie samples until I said ‘Teflon’, which becomes the tune with Kelly Dean and Steady, Orange County dudes.

“It was a wicked tune via Smog Crew, and that reverberating to where Excision and Datsik did their remix. That became the anthem for a while and to a lot of people, as far as the term dubstep goes, and was known as one of the ten greatest dubstep drops.”

The journey is just beginning……stay tuned for part two!!

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!!