I won’t lie. DJ sets these days bore me. The unending flow of generic EDM beats with the expected bass-drops just doesn’t do it for me. It takes a special kind of sound to get me to a club to see a DJ “perform”. Breakbot is one of those DJs.
THOUGHTS: I don’t know how many times can I say it. I love this band. When I first saw them play opening for Omar Souleyman, I knew that I’d have to see them play again. Catching them at Culture Collide was my third time this year (the second time was at Echo Park Rising). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If you’re a fan of the post-punk sounds of the Talking Heads, I’m sure you’ll dig this band. They are heading out on tour for the month of November, and I suggest you buy a ticket and check them out. Seriously. Buy a ticket. Check these guys out.
Opening for Omar Souleyman was the Los Angeles-based, indie neo-disco band De Lux. I had gotten a little sampling of their music online, but listening to this band’s music live was something else.
De Lux is a favorite of KCRW DJs across the board (they are one of the few acts that ALL of the DJs play in their sets). I could hear why.
They may be a young band, but their sound is pretty damn sophisticated. A little synth-pop, a little electronic, a little disco, a little punk, a little funk … their music is a mish-mosh of styles that really blends together into a unique, almost throwback, sound.
I got to chat with a couple of the guys in the band after their set, and couldn’t help but rave about their sound. Though they’ve heard it before, I really emphasized my observation that their music really reminded me of the Talking Heads. Seaun Guerin, one of the founders and the lead vocalist, in particular, has a voice that’s as oddly wonderful as David Byrnes’ voice.
These guys are playing at the upcoming free music festival in Los Angeles, Echo Park Rising, August 15th-17th (TBD). I’m going to try and make it out for their gig. Hopefully, I’ll be able to snap some more pics of them jamming out.
Every Memorial Day weekend for the past 28 years, UCLA has hosted a music festival called the JazzReggae Festival. Originally, the first day was devoted to Jazz and the second day was devoted Reggae. Though the first day has morphed to a “Jam” day, the festival has always been able to pull in outstanding talent for the price of admission. If you are ever in Los Angeles during the Memorial Day weekend, and looking to enjoy a music festival at an extremely reasonable price, I suggest that you check out the lineup to see if any artists you like are on the bill.
Armed with a photo pass for the event, I was able to take pictures of the artists listed below. Click on the link to check them out!
May 25th, 2014:
May 26th, 2014
Roy “Gramps” Morgan has reggae music in his blood. After all, Denroy Morgan, a founding member of the Black Eagles, is his father. Though he’s only release two albums, his most recent album, “Reggae Music Lives”, was well received and peaked at #12 on the Billboard Top Reggae Albums list.
His set was was filled with passion and he definitely had the crowd vibing off of his energy.
I couldn’t find a setlist for Gramps Morgan’s performance at this event online, so if anybody happens to know what it was, please post it in the comments so that I can add it into this post. Thanks!
Kevin Lyttle is a Vincentian soca artist who had a worldwide hit back in 2004 with his collaboration with Spragga Benz on a track called “Turn Me On”. Soca, also known as Soul Calypso [SOul CAlypso], is a style of Caribbean music originating in Trinidad and Tobago. It is a style of music that incorporates elements of disco, rap, reggae and zouk. Kevin’s first album went gold, and his last full length studio album was released in August 2012.
His set was the perfect appetizer for the rest of the day. His music, with its rhythmic and danceable beat had the crowd moving to the beat.
I couldn’t find a complete setlist for Kevin Lyttle’s performance at this event online, so if anybody happens to know what it was, please post it in the comments so that I can add it into this post. Thanks!
I feel like I do a good job at picking friends whose passion for music is as strong as, or greater than, mine. In fact, for some of them, the music is actually in their blood. Literally.
Tina Watkins is a friend of mine since elementary school (her brother was in my 6th grade class). I remember going to her parent’s house and hanging out in their home recording studio. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that Tina’s mother was a member of The Sylvers; a very popular R&B/soul and disco group during the 1970s who released 11 albums between 1972 – 1984. Let me assure you, she got the music genes in the family.
Earlier this year, sometime in March, she posted a youtube video wherein she proclaimed that she was going to try her best to sing one song for every day of the year: 365 songs in 365 days. Whether with instrumental backing or a cappella, in her kitchen or in the car, by herself or with friends, armed with only the video in her phone, she’s been religiously knocking them out.
I caught up with her to find out what motivate her to do this project. Here’s what she had to say:
MMM14: For those who don’t know you, who are you and why did you start this 365 songs in 365 days project?
TINA: Well, like I told my dad- It’s good for goodness’ sake. He loves watching them. I’m a writer, fiancée, friend, daughter, sister, dog/ cat/ turtle parent, cook, fashion designer, artist and community activist. I work to make the world a better place, one day, one song, one smile, one act of kindness at a time.
One Monday night in March I was singing my heart out in the shower (happens often) and just didn’t feel like stopping. I was having fun. And I thought, why should I stop, and why shouldn’t I share?
My promise to me is to share a song a day: If even one person enjoys it then I’ve spread some joy. And that’s a good thing. I started the next morning.
MMM14: What’s your background in music (lessons, projects, musicals, etcs)?
TINA: According to my mom I started singing at age four. In harmony. Singing in public used to terrify me, so about 15 years were spent in groups (choir/ a cappella/ girl bands etc.) The more voices I could hide behind the better. I remember singing with you in Chadwick’s a cappella group Ted led for a while, you have an amazing voice.
TINA: At Occidental college I studied opera for a couple years under voice scholarship. More than anything else, my learning came through blending in harmony with different female vocalists (Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, India Arie, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Sade, Jill Scott.)
Believe it or not I’ve written more than a hundred songs, but most have never seen the light of day (thank goodness- a lot of them were awful).
MMM14: Do you have the songs already planned out? Do you take requests? What are you planning as a last song?
TINA: Nope. Maybe. No idea.
Honestly, there’s no plan at all. All I’ve committed is not to spend too much time on them. Which is hard because it’s such fun and I’m a perfectionist. From the moment I begin thinking about the song for the day to when it’s posted takes around 15 minutes every day. I’ve made up some of them as I sang.
It’s especially challenging when it’s been a hard day because that comes out in my singing. Being authentically joyful really is a choice and this has reminded me every day to choose happiness and share that.
I’m looking forward to seeing how far I can get without having to learn new songs. So if a request happens to be a song I already know I’ve taken it. I’m getting married this year also, so seeing how this fits around my life is fun.
No idea what the last song will be… Maybe something original. Something with interpretive dance (insert evil laugh). Something fun. Something good.
I don’t think she has to worry about what song she sings (even if she makes it up, which she’s done on occasion). Odds are it will be something fun … definitely good.
Other people have tried doing this as well. Some with professional production, and fancy cameras, but Tina’s endeavor proves that the joy of singing really doesn’t need fancy production. With technology being what it is today, you can use your phone to record video and share you passion or joy with whoever is willing to listen. Ah, the joy of singing.
Here are some of my favorites. Follow her Youtube account to see what else she decides to post.
As an added bonus, another youtuber “remixed” her a cappella performance of Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love”. See, the Internet can be fun!
I walked into the bathroom, and some dude with glazed eyes immediately asked me if I wanted mollies on paper. I was about to refuse the offer, but before I could answer, my attention turned to the bathroom stall where someone was purging themselves. I didn’t have to answer, as the dude offering, just left the bathroom. Dubstep shows… Is this how they usually are?
I was invited to check out a live-art exhibition at a dubstep show in Glendale called Quality Control on January 4th. A friend of mine, Mear One, was going to paint on stage while dubstep DJs worked their craft on stage. Mear One is an artistic genius.
The art aside, let’s get back to the music … I’ll be honest with you. I don’t really know, or understand, what dubstep is. I looked it up on Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubstep] and they seem to do a pretty good job at breaking down it’s characteristics- albeit most of it went over my head- but I think that Allmusic.com’s description of it better suited my needs and describes it as “tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals.”
This wasn’t my first time going to a dubstep performance. I had spent a few minutes at Coachella in 2012 checking out a dubstep DJ, but I didn’t stay that long, and I can’t even remember who the DJ was. Gaslamp Killer, 12th Planet, SBTRKT and Skrillex all seemed to have pretty a pretty good 2012 (financially), but I never really understand what the “hook” of the music was. Why is/was there an audience for dubstep?
Maybe it’s simply the “new” (even though the music has been around since the late 1990s) style of music. Something for the kids to claim as their own. The thought crossed my mind when I noticed a mosh pit in the center of the audience. It harkened back my memory of the time when Nirvana and grunge came. Grunge was the “new” sound of the times, and people tuned and listened because they hadn’t heard anything like it before. Maybe dubstep is/was that “new” musical trend.
Maybe so, but at least with grunge, the lyrics were 50% of the music. People tuned in, not only enjoy the music, but to also live the lyrics in the music. Grunge, like heavy metal, evoked that kind of intense sentiment that made its listeners mosh. On the other hand, since there really aren’t lyrics in dubstep, the audience moshes because the bass lines “make them”.
Click through on the link to see the mosh pit at the show: http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMj67XF1G00
I still think that the “sound” of dubstep is exciting. I think that you can easily use that sound in conjunction with real songwriting to write meaningful music. But there still only so many times I can bear someone telling me, “Check out that bass line, bro. Soooo dirty. It’s gonna drop …. Wait for the drop … Here it comes… Uuunnnngh!”
Maybe it’s partially because I’m probably a little older than the typical dubstep crowd. I’m a little too old to pop mollies in the bathroom. I’m not popping ecstasy so that I can “feel” the music. But I still like the sound and I still think that with the right artists, you can transform the underlying dubstep instrumentals into something a little more meaningful. Give the dubstep sound some heart. Give it some meaning. Don’t just leave it as a bass lines and drops.
Some people have called dubstep this generation’s disco. But I think that if dubstep is going to stay relevant, it’s music needs to be written with relevance. I mean, even disco, loathed by many as a passing fancy, has songs to this day that are still relevant, but that’s because those songs, however “cheesy” they may have been, connected with the audience on an emotional level.
Can dubstep can have that kind of longevity? It’s hard to say … but until you give that sound some more soul … some more heart … I think you’ll be hard pressed to see a person 30 years from now saying, “Oh, I love this song with it’s wub-wub-wub, and bass drop”….