LA’s Hottest DJ Plays A Rare Set In Newport Beach

Sam Hiller

LA DJ Sam Hiller plays at Blue Beet Aug. 14

Sam Hiller is one of LA’s hottest DJ’s around – from being an on-air DJ on Evolution to being head resident DJ at The Avalon in LA, he’s done it all! His sets are energetic and fresh, which is what he’s known best for. Hiller’s will take over a set at The Blue Beet in Newport Beach on Aug. 14.

Hiller was a school DJ and moved on to work for Groove International where DJ legend, Swedish Egil, became drawn to Sam’s ear for good music and took him under his wing, taught him the ropes of the industry and knowledge of music. Since then he has performed numerous shows and festivals sharing the stage with names such as Skrillex, Calvin Harris, Kaskade and more.

OCCG recently caught up with Sam and talked to him about his inspirations, working with Egil and his musical preferences.

OCCG: What drove/inspired you into becoming a DJ?
Sam: I started “DJing” (if you can call it that) in high school with a 2 channel Radio Shack mixer and two single deck CD players. I had no pitch control, no EQ’s, lol it was pretty ghetto. All I could do was crossfade between songs. I was driven to do this by the fact that the local DJ services in my town that played Middle and High School dances were really awful, and I thought I could do it better, at least in the music selection department. I under cut them a lot with my fees too, so people started hiring me haha. After that, I took a break from DJ’ing while I went to college, and only got really into it again as a profession after I studied abroad in Europe and witnessed their amazing dance music culture first-hand.

OCCG: How was it like working with the amazing Swedish Egil? Especially when he took you under his wing and taught you the ropes?
Sam: Egil was and is an amazing person. I could not have asked for a better teacher, both in terms of the technical aspects of DJ’ing, and also when it came to helping me to appreciate and understand dance music and its roots and history. Egil truly is a legend, his knowledge and history go back to the beginning of it all, and though a lot of people don’t know it, he was instrumental in helping plush dance music through to the mainstream in the U.S. for the first time in the early 90’s. I can never thank him enough for everything that he taught me.

OCCG: In LA there are many DJ’s and clubs — what sets you apart from all of those other DJ’s?
Sam: I’m a music junkie, I probably download 100-200 new songs every week, so my sets are constantly changing. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever played the same set twice. In an age when many DJ’s tour and play the same set in every city, I’m headed in the opposite direction. I would never do that, I’d get bored. With so much amazing music out there, why not change it up as often as possible? I’d rather introduce people to new songs that they’ve never heard, than play the Beatport Top 10. I show up at a gig with USB’s full of music and no plan in mind, my sets are never mapped out, I just go where the night and crowd take me.

OCCG: Is there a certain genre you prefer to play in your sets?
Sam: I personally enjoy playing tech house, techno, nu disco, and deep house the most these days, but honestly I have such passion for so many different types of music, that I can never pigeon-hole myself. I love electro, I love big rave sounds, I love breaks, etc. If I’m closing at Control, I’ll play a much heavier set because that’s what that time of night calls for, vs. opening, when I’ll start things off in a much more mellow fashion.

OCCG: Who are some of your musical influences?
Sam: I love DJ’s who aren’t afraid to take chances and take their crowds on a journey. Some of my favorites would be Boys Noize, Fatboy Slim, The Magician, Above & Beyond, Eric Prydz, MK, Brodinski, I could go on and on….

OCCG: What artist would you love to share the stage with?
I’d love to open up for Fatboy Slim, I think that would be so much fun!

OCCG: Throughout your career, what has been the most memorable event–why?
Sam: Opening up the MainStage when I was in PeaceTreaty at the first Beyond Wonderland in 2011. That was an insane show. We started right when gates opened and there was no one there, and by the end of our set there were 10k people watching us. It was the biggest rush I’ve ever felt!

OCCG: Being a head resident DJ at the Avalon, and an on-air DJ is there a difference in the environment?
Sam: Absolutely. Club DJ’ing and Radio DJ’ing are two very different things in my opinion. Sometimes songs that work well in club won’t work well on radio, and vice versa too. And then of course there’s the personality aspect; you have to have a voice and persona as a radio DJ, whereas when DJ’ing at the club you could literally never say a word, and that wouldn’t necessarily matter at all. It’s funny, I’ve seen numerous big Club/Touring DJ’s completely freeze up when it comes to doing radio, they don’t know what to say in front of a recording mic, or totally flub the easiest liners. To each their own!

Thanks for having me, I can’t wait to party with you all at HONOR at Blue Beet in Newport Beach on Aug. 14!

Girl Group Fifth Harmony Set To Perform At The OC Fair

Fifth Harmony

Fifth Harmony plays the Pacific Amphitheater during the OC Fair July 18

Fifth Harmony is a 5-piece girl group put together by Simon Cowell on the TV show The X-Factor – consisting of Normani Kordei, Camila Cabello, Ally Brooke Hernandez, Lauren Jauregui and Dinah Jane Hansen. The pop girl group is set to perform at the OC County Fair on Fri, July 18 at 7:45 P.M. alongside Karmin.

Fifth Harmony made their debut on the popular singing competition TV show The X Factor – all auditioning as solo artists but later put together as a girl group, where they finished in 3rd place. They gained a huge fan base because of that show which led their EP album “Better Together” to hit #2 on the Itunes chart.

They became a huge girl-empowerment band – following influences like Destiny’s Child and The Spice Girls, singing music that inspired their fan base, which are teenage girls just like them. They recently released their newest single “BO$$” which is a pop-anthem itself. The OC Concert Guide recently caught up with the girls of Fifth Harmony to talk about their influences, fans and new single.

OCCG: Since you guys were put together at boot camp during the show X-Factor your fame has risen so much, how do you all keep grounded and true to yourselves also how did you adjust to the fame?
Normani Kordei: I absolutely know that we have continued to stay grounded and stay true to ourselves due to our amazing families. We are all very family oriented and will always put our values and morals first. Plus if we don’t stay in check, believe me when I say our parents will whip us back into shape lol!

OCCG: Your EP album “Better Together” rose to #2 on the ITunes Chart, how exciting was that?
Normani Kordei: I remember when our EP hit number 2 on iTunes! The girls and I had just gotten off of a red eye to New York. It was amazing seeing our name “Fifth Harmony” right behind Katy Perry. It was such a surreal moment. Based on our excitement getting off of the plane I feel like we scared the other passenger’s haha!

OCCG: Individually and as a group who are your music influences?
Ally Brooke Hernandez: We range from Ed Sheeran, Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, Chris Brown, and Justin Timberlake. As a group we love Destiny’s Child, Spice Girls & TLC.

OCCG: You guys have a huge social media following — how do you guys keep up with responding to fans, with such a hectic life you guys have?
Ally Brooke Hernandez: We look at our twitters every day and we try our best to keep in touch with our fans!! We DM or tweet back when we can. 🙂 We love our fans so much!!!

OCCG: A lot of your audience/fans are teenage girls, being teenagers yourself does that limit on what you sing about or does it inspire you more?
Camila Cabello: I think it inspires us more. We as teenage girls are singing about things that we not only relate to in this album, but singing about who we want to become- confident women that are in control of their own lives. I feel like thinking about the fact that other teenage girls can be inspired by this message, it inspires us to want to deliver it more.

OCCG: You have a new single “BO$$ coming out — tell me more about that?
Camila Cabello: BOSS is about being the boss of your own life. It’s meant to be a sassy confident way of telling girls to live your life the way you want to live it and not by anyone else’s standards.

OCCG: When on tour what is something you miss the most?
Lauren Jauregui: On tour I think the thing I miss most is being home with my family and friends. That’s the hardest part about the whole thing really.

OCCG: Is there a certain city on your upcoming tour you guys are most excited to perform at?
Dinah Jane Hansen: I am most excited about coming back to Orange County and performing in my hometown! I can’t describe the feeling! I grew up in Santa Ana and to perform in front of my classmates my family & friends feels so cool! Especially because I use to come to the Orange County Fair growing up to watch other artists and now we will be performing at the same fairgrounds- it’s the best feeling.

OCCG: Lastly, what’s next for Fifth Harmony?
Dinah Jane Hansen: Well we have our single, BO$$ that’s out now! Which is something we are all excited about! It’s fresh and new direction!

Death Valley Girls Plays Echo Park Rising Fest

Death Valley Girls

Death Valley Girls play this year’s Echo Park Rising Fest Aug. 16

Death Valley Girls are a rock and roll group easily able to be mistaken for a motorcycle gang as they say so themselves. They are Bonnie Bloomgarden, Rocky, Laura Kelsey and Larry Schemel from Los Angeles who are known for their mysterious vintage biker vibe. They are hitting the stage for three LA dates later this year – Aug. 16 at Echo Park Rising, Sept. 30 at Echo and Oct. 8 at the Bootleg Theatre.

They recently played the Burger a-Go-Go alongside Best Coast, Dum Dum Girls, Bleached and so many other bands. Death Valley Girls are influenced by bands such as Stooges, Black Sabbath and MC5. Adding to their mysterious allure not much is known about the Death Valley Girls other than Rocky can go outside during the day.

The OCCG caught up with the girls of Death Valley Girls and asked them a couple questions about their name and their upcoming shows in LA.

OCCG: What brought Death Valley girls together to form a band?
DVG: Magic! I told Rocky we had a month to find a drummer and guitar player, or I had to get outta this town. Two days later we met Patty, a day later we played with her and Larry, and it was rad. Magic’s how we found Laura too.

OCCG: Is there a meaning behind your band name?
DVG: Yeah we are a gang. Like a desert cult/Hells Goodtime House Band. But funnier.

OCCG: How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard your stuff?
DVG: Rock and Roll (dystopian future punk)

OCCG: Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
DVG: Stooges, Bo Diddley, Black Sabbath, MC5, Little Eva, Velvet Underground.

OCCG: Since you guys have a mysterious allure vibe — what is something about you girls that no one knows about?
DVG: Rocky can go outside during the day.

OCCG: Is there a city you are most excited to play on your upcoming shows? Why?
DVG: Can’t wait to play every city. But, Burger A gogo should be too fun, all the girls taking over Orange County! Gonna be so fun.

OCCG: What are your favorite songs to perform live?
DVG: I dunno what the fellas like best, but they better like playing em all, or else!

Powerhouse Fusion Drummer Kicks Off Tour In LA

Virgil Donati plays the Baked Potato July 12 and Alva's Showroom July 13

Virgil Donati plays the Baked Potato July 12 and Alva’s Showroom July 13

Virgil Donati has been playing the drums since he was 2-years-old in Australia. Since he became a professional drummer in his teens his career skyrocketed, recording and touring with legends such as Mick Jagger, Planet X, CAB and many other credited artists. He plays a range of musical styles from jazz and fusion to progressive metal. Donati will be kicking off his own “In This Life” US tour with two LA shows at The Baked Potato on July 12 and Alva’s Showroom in San Pedro July 13.

Donati came from a musical family and as a toddler loved to watch his father’s band practice in their home in Melbourne. As he grew up, he started experimenting with his own bands and musical styles.

He recently released his third solo album “In This Life,” which was composed and orchestrated by himself, on his tour he will be playing songs off of his solo album and pieces he’s done with other bands he’s worked with.

Some of Donati’s most commercially noted work was when he played with Southern Sons and Loose Change, and has been in demand by a lot of artists for his astonishing and cutting-edge drumming skills. OC Concert Guide recently caught up with Donati and talked to him about his influences growing up and upcoming tour.

OCCG: Who were some of the biggest influences in music when you first started playing the drums?
Virgil: First and foremost, I would have to credit my parents. They were musicians and even as a toddler, I always wanted to be present at all their band rehearsals. My father’s record collection was responsible for my early drum influences. Included were big band records such as Count Basie, Buddy Rich, lot’s of Brazilian artists, Jobim, Sergio Mendes, and others.

OCCG: Did you and do you now play any other instruments? What other instruments would you like to play other than the drums?
Virgil: Yes, my father also wanted me to play piano, so aside from drumming, I was given piano lessons from the age of 6. It has proven to be indispensable part of my musical expression.

OCCG: When did you realize you wanted to play progressive rock and fusion? Was it an album or another player that turned you onto the genre?
Virgil: As a teenager in the 70’s, I was in awe of the great players and bands of the fusion movement. I think the turning point for me was Billy Cobham’s Spectrum record, along with anything by Chick Corea and Mahvishnu Orchestra.

OCCG: Why do you think the rhythm and drums play such a strong role in progressive music?
Virgil: I believe it’s because rhythm is the fundamental difference between pop/rock music, and fusion/progressive music. It’s the rhythmic interplay between musicians, the rhythmic inventiveness of the music, which is free of the restrictions of commercial music. Rhythm is a wondrous thing, and warrants expressiveness.

OCCG: Who have you played with that impacted your playing or pushed you further as a drummer?
Virgil: I’ve been privileged to play with some of the greatest players on the planet throughout my career, and each situation contributes to further growth and maturity as a player. I always try to bring 110% to any gig, and also in my preparation for a gig or tour. That in itself contributes to growth, and also the incentive for striving harder is supported by being occupied.

OCCG: Do you feel like you’ve mastered your instrument? What are some of your struggles as a musician?
Virgil: I don’t know if a true artist can ever feel mastery over one’s art. I think I have finally reached a state where I feel a pleasing sense of control over the sounds and rhythms I can produce while performing, but at the same time, I find myself constantly challenging those feelings by consciously placing myself on the edge of that control, in the quest to keep moving forward.

OCCG: What are some difference when you front a project with your own music as a drummer that is different than when you are playing another musician’s music?
Virgil: With the exception of perhaps a few occasions, the differences are negligible. After all, it is all music, and must be played accordingly. I bring my interpretation to another’s music, as I would to mine, and I suppose that’s what I’m hired for. I’m sure it’s the same for a guitarist, bass player and keyboard player. You play the music. You listen, you interpret, you use your judgment and taste to the best of your ability. You need to be objective.

OCCG: Tell us about the players who are joining you on this tour?
Virgil: I’m amazed by the virtuosity displayed by so many of the younger players out there now. I’m always on the lookout for new talent, and I get a lot of satisfaction in featuring some of them not only on my record, but also on this tour. Anthony Crawford (bass), Isamu McGregor (keys), and André Nieri (guitar) are remarkable musicians. The music we’re playing is demanding, and they bring such flair and grace to the performance that I think audiences will be overwhelmed.

OCCG: What can fans expect to hear on this tour?
Virgil: We will be playing most of the tracks from ‘In This Life’ and also a few Planet X tracks. As a surprise, we will play some Allan Holdsworth covers. Given that Anthony and I have both toured with Allan, and given that I find his music sublime and exalting, we decided to include four tracks of his, including a few that Allan hasn’t performed live in years. I’m convinced that it’s going to be a breathtaking experience for the audience.

Pacific Symphony’s Annual Fourth Of July Concert Swings

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy swings with the Pacific Symphony at Verizon Amphitheatre July 4

Celebrate the spirit of America by going to Pacific Symphony’s Annual Fourth Of July celebration at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. The event will feature the cool cats of Swing, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy this July 4th with ticket prices starting at only $25!

“Our orchestra is not full time so a lot of the musicians also play in other bands all around Southern California so we are well versed in all types of musical arrangements and feel comfortable playing all kinds of genres of music,” said Pacific Symphony’s principal second violin, Bridget Dolkas. “So this orchestra can swing!”

This is one of the Pacific Symphony’s most attended concerts of the year that honors American heroes where the celebration opens up with orchestral music highlighting many iconic American heroes such as General George Patton, Atticus Finch, and an annual tribute to the U.S Armed Forces. Other features of the night include a fireworks finale orchestrated to some of the best patriotic classics, plus with a performance from the amazing Big Bad Voodoo Daddy everyone will be on their feet the whole night.

“There’s nothing like the fun, excitement and great music of a Fourth-of-July celebration with Pacific Symphony in our outdoor home at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater,” says Maestro Kaufman.

Swingin’ champs Big Bad Voodoo Daddy from Los Angeles consisting of Morris (lead vocals and guitar), Sodergren (drums and percussion), Dirk Shumaker (double bass and vocals), Andy Rowley (baritone saxophone and vocals), Glen “The Kid” Marhevka (trumpet), Karl Hunter (saxophones and clarinet) and Joshua Levy (piano and arranger) will be leading the symphony in some of their hit songs like “Go Daddy-O,” “You and Me and the Bottle Makes three Tonight (Baby),” and “Mr. Pinstripe Suit.”

“The orchestra will be intergrating a lot of the brass arrangements into the band’s original music,” said Dolkas. “It will be like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s on steroids!”

2014 marks the 21st anniversary of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s release of their self titled first recording in the middle of the grunge era. Their newest release “Rattle Them Bones” showcases their newest inspirations and influences of swing music and it still has millions of fans “shakin’ their groove thang.”

“Most bands have their own arrangements that they bring to the rehearsals with the orchestra a day or two before each concert. There are only 2 rehearsals before each concert with any guest band,” explains Dolkas. “Personally, I really enjoy the genre of music and know a handful of the songs already.”

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy have performed at the Super Bowl with Stevie Wonder and Gloria Estefan, and have been featured in so many movies and TV shows including “Despicable Me,” “Family Guy,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Don’t miss out the chance to celebrate the American spirit and have a little swingin’ fun – head out to the amphitheatre with your family this Fourth of July for a great time!

Missouri Punk Band Plays A Night In The OC


Radkey at the Observatory May 24

Radkey is a self-taught punk band from St. Joseph, Missouri, consisting of three brothers, Dee, Isaiah and Solomon. They’re taking the music scene by storm especially after performing at SXSW this year. Radkey are touring this month alongside Blood Red Shoes with a show at The Observatory in Santa Ana on Sat, May 24.

They describe their music as Grunk Rock — Garage Rock with Punk elements to it with influences like Nirvana, Ramones, and Weezer.  They released their new Devil Fruit EP last year and just last month released their new single “Feed My Brain,” which Isaiah states is one of their strongest songs yet.
The OC Concert Guide recently spoke with Radkey and asked them a few questions about their new album and life on the road.
OCCG: What/who influenced you guys to start up the band?
Radkey: Bands like Nirvana, Ramones and Led Zeppelin were huge reasons.
OCCG: Since all three of you are brothers were there ever any disagreements while making your EP?
Radkey: Not really. We’re usually pretty much on the same page musically.
OCCG: What drove you to pick “Feed My Brain” as your single apart from your other songs on the EP?
Radkey: We definitely feel like it’s one of the strongest songs that we’ve ever written. So it was a pretty easy decision to go with that one.
OCCG: How would you describe your music/style to someone who has never heard your songs? What artists/bands would you compare your music to?
Radkey: It’s like Garage Rock with Punk elements. We like to call it Grunk Rock. Maybe something like Ramones and stuff.
OCCG: Individually and as a band who are your biggest music influences?
Radkey: We all have quite a few of the same. Like Nirvana, Weezer, The Who, The Beatles, Pixies, Local H and all kinda of other stuff.
OCCG: How excited are you to be headlining your own tour? And to be playing in Southern California in some amazing venues?
Radkey: We’re really stoked about it. It’s really great to be back out on the road again.
OCCG: What song do you guys enjoy playing live as a band and individually?
Radkey: Our favorite song to play live is actually a brand new song. Currently untitled.
OCCG: What are some pre-show warm-ups that you guys enjoy doing?
Radkey: Haribo Gummy Bears. Any time that we can!