Ahmed El-Motassem

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Junior’s Cave
Music Interview
with Atlanta Based Singer/Songwriter, Ahmed El-Motassem
February/March 2015 Edition
MusicSUBMIT Weekly Music Series

by Isaac Davis Junior, BGS, MBA

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Ahmed El-Motassem
Photo Courtesy of Ahmed El-Motassem

Meet NYC-Based Singer/Songwriter Ahmed El-Motassem who shares with our publication/online readers his story of how he got his start in the Indie Music Industry. El-Motassem’s music possesses a hypnotic multi-layered sound of vocals, keys and guitar that combines elements of new wave, alt-folk, avant-pop with a mid-eastern twist. Want to learn more? Then read on in this new exciting featured spotlight.

Isaac: It is a pleasure to speak with you via this important online conversation. I had a chance to review your press kit, and I must say that I am impressed, excited, and thrilled about your music. What do you think you will add to the Indie Music Genre that will set your music apart from others?

Ahmed El-Motassem: I hope to add an honest voice and an original poetic entertaining sound that is based on a uniquely bicultural – East meets West -experience.

Isaac: What has been your inspiration for pursuing a music career?

Ahmed El-Motassem: Everything that is wrong with our social order and everything that is beautiful about life.

Isaac: Why is music important to you?

Ahmed El-Motassem: It is a form of self-healing and a source of great joy.

Isaac: How has the whole experience of being on stage performing help you grow as an artist?

Ahmed El-Motassem: I used to think it didn’t matter if you were understood, and performing on stage made me aware that I have a role to communicate with the audience or listener in a way that is caring and entertaining. It took me a few years of performing to take control of the situation, in the beginning I used to get a little lost on stage, at times not knowing who to be or what to do. A stage ‘presence’ involves more than just getting your parts right musically, you need to stay in character.

Isaac: How do you handle mistakes during a performances?

Ahmed El-Motassem: It depends, some mistakes you can incorporate into the sound and act as if it’s part of the show. In general, I take a mistake as an alarm to fine tune my act to a better than ever status, that is as a way of making up for it.

Isaac: Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition? If so, what do you do to overcome your fears?

Ahmed El-Motassem: Every performance has an aspect to it like it’s the first ever, because in a way it is. I can talk to band members or rehearse myself in a quiet corner somewhere as a way to ease the nervousness. Sometimes I comfort myself with thoughts like: relax we’re all gonna die someday!

Isaac: Do you ever experience a writer’s block when you are writing new songs? I can imagine this would be particularly annoying if you were in a collaboration situation. If you have in the past, what do you do to get over it?

Ahmed El-Motassem: I try to work on other than songs then come back to it, because songs can’t be forced into completion. And yes, in a collaboration situation and under a studio deadline it can get quite anxious. Sometimes you’re left with faith alone that it will come together in the last minutes! Though I would safely say that a writer’s block ranks among the much nicer problems in life!

Isaac: What advice have you received from mentors about pursuing a music career?

Ahmed El-Motassem: I was advised to be to be persistent in putting out my work and to be humble and receptive about how others may perceive it.

Isaac: What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous about pursuing a music career?

Ahmed El-Motassem: I would say do it only if doing what you love and loving what you do means the world to you.

Isaac: With so much diverse music currently out, do you feel that your type of music is still relevant or important in today’s music industry? What do you feel makes your music stand out for the rest?

Ahmed El-Motassem: My songs have an urgent quality about them, like they have to be written. I communicate and articulate ideas and feelings of the times we live in, and I do it in a unique way that sounds somewhat familiar yet doesn’t quite sound like anyone else, a sound which often sharply divides listeners between who like and who dislike it; though rarely are people indifferent to it.

Isaac: How does music affect you and the world around you?

Ahmed El-Motassem: Music is a way of making a far from perfect world, perfect for a while.

Isaac: Why do you believe music is something that everyone should enjoy?

Ahmed El-Motassem: I don’t believe music is something that everyone should enjoy, not if they’re not into it or up for it. However, I believe music is a special language that ought to come from a cosmically harmonious place in us, and that makes it a special friend indeed.

Isaac: What do you think about downloading music online?

Ahmed El-Motassem: Well, it’s made music more accessible than ever to purchase.

Isaac: Do you find that your songs typically touch people as much as they touch you?

Ahmed El-Motassem: Sometimes, sometimes apparently more so, sometimes apparently less so.

Isaac: When you are in songwriting mode, who are you thinking about when gathering your thoughts for your lyrics?

Ahmed El-Motassem: My songwriting mode goes through several phases. First, there is the conceptual inspiration, coming up with an idea or a short verse and a way to sing it. Then, verses are added and edited, as the musical accompaniment gets worked, and I think of making the sound feel related; as different parts of the same house of song.

Isaac: How prolific are you with respect to your songwriting skills? Do you believe it is a meticulous process to create your lyrics or do the lyrics flow naturally?

Ahmed El-Motassem: It is both, the meticulous work is in the editing and in finding the right sound for it and practicing it, but it has to be based on lyrics that originally flow. At the end of the day, the lyrics and music have to flow together as one being.

Isaac: What skills/personal attributes are most important to being successful in this music business? How do you promote your music and shows?

Ahmed El-Motassem: It takes a great deal of patience and perseverance to continue putting out new music. I currently promote my music through Internet/college radio, through email, music site, not to underestimate, word of mouth.

Isaac: If you had an opportunity to work with one of today’s hottest artists or groups, who would it be and why?

Ahmed El-Motassem: ‘Muse’ I suppose, we have different musical styles but share a similar grand vision of a transcendental sound.

Isaac: Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CD’s?

Ahmed El-Motassem: Oh God so many, Buffy Sainte-Marie, The Flaming Lips, John Lennon, Jimmy Hendrix, Concrete Blonde, to name a few. Among my favorite CD’s are Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 and Blonde On Blonde, The Doors’ first album and Strange Days, Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma,
Sly And The Family Stone’s There’s A Riot Going On, Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black and Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs.

Isaac: Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?

Ahmed El-Motassem: I admire a lot of famous musicians/bands from different time periods and different continents. Currently, I would say Kate Bush, Bob Dylan, Donovan, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Caetano Veloso and Tom Ze; they have continued to grow artistically and can still sound profound.

Isaac: The Internet plays an integral role with artists getting their music out to the masses. Do you have your own website and what will fans find there?

Ahmed El-Motassem: On my site, fans will find my latest CD with lyrics, a discography and links to other sites that feature other work I have produced in the past.

Isaac: At the end of the day, are you happy with where you are at professionally?

Ahmed El-Motassem: I am pleased with where I am musically though I often feel that my work has just begun.

Isaac: Who would you like to dedicate this interview to and why?

Ahmed El-Motassem: I would dedicate it to your readers since they are the ones who will take the trouble to read it.

Official Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/ahmed.elmotassem.3

Nicky Will

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Junior’s Cave
Music Interview
with Atlanta Based Hip-Hop/Pop Artist, Nicky Will
February/March 2015 Edition
MusicSUBMIT Weekly Music Series

by Isaac Davis Junior, BGS, MBA

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Atlanta Based Hip-Hop/Pop Artist Nicky Will
Photo Courtesy of Nicky Will

It is amazing when one thinks of the power of words. The ability to be able to masterfully rhyme with words is a skill that many claim to have but only a few truly possess. Atlanta Based Hip-Hop/Pop Artist Nicky Will certainly fits into the category of those artists with the amazing ability to inspire and entertain others with their rhymes. For those readers of this online publication who enjoy reading about performers who are taking brave steps away from the traditional style of music, this is the interview for you. Check out what formulated from our interview with Nicky Will.

Isaac: I would like to ask you for the readers of this online publication who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words:

Nicky: Pop, Top 40, Hip-Hop, Upbeat, and Story-Drivin’.

Isaac: With respect to musical icons, who would you consider to be your most significant musical influences?

Nicky: When I first realized I wanted to be a musician, I was listening to a lot of the 90’s pop music just because I grew up with 2 older sisters. As I got older, I was exposed to Rap and Hip-Hop where I discovered Eminem and Ludacris, which around that point in my life were two of the artists coming up. I went through a very eclectic Hip-Hop stage where I had Mos Def and Nas on replay. Nowadays I listen to a lot of the upcoming artists from Kendric Lamar all the way to Justin Bieber, J Cole and The Weeknd.

Isaac: Do you have a favorite song to play from your collection so far?

Nicky: I have this old school type track called ” Feelin’ It” that I really love performing because of the energy it brings to the crowd. It’s part of my roots and where I originally started this journey.

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Atlanta Based Hip-Hop/Pop Artist Nicky Will
Photo Courtesy of Nicky Will

Isaac: I am interested to know who you are listening to at the moment. What bands and artists should we have our ears on right now who you think deserve the spotlight?

Nicky: I really dig what Kendric Lamar and J Cole are doing with the Hip-Hop genre right now. People are sleeping on them because they haven’t fully went mainstream but for me that’s highly respectable. One of my latest favorites is The Weeknd. I can’t personally define his style because it’s so unique and for me that’s a huge selling point for me when I listen to a new artist. The Weeknd has been around for a while now and he’s really just beginning to get the recognition he deserves.

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Isaac: Since you write your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the process?

Nicky: I really like to listen to the plain music on repeat and dig deep into what my latest emotions have been. I realized that doing so allowed for amazing songs that people could connect to but my downfall was that I would write about similar subjects quite often. Lately, I go into a song with a specific topic in mind and get into character and put myself in the shoes as if I was in the situation. That method has allowed me to expand my writing ability and to relate and reach more of my audience.

Isaac: If you could go open up for any artist on tour right now who would it be?

Nicky: I would really love to open for Jake Miller. I check in on him regularly to see what he’s doing and he’s such a positive dude and is changing people’s lives which inspires me musically. I always strive to surround myself with positive people with common goals.

Isaac: So, what is y our favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing/producing/playing etc?

Nicky: I am a big family person. When I have the free time, I enjoy being able to visit family and spend time with people who I don’t get to see too often. I’m also big on supporting locals so when I can get to the local farmers market and check out people doing what they love it makes me happy.

Isaac: Now for our non-music question: Name five things you can’t live without?

Nicky: Mac & Cheese, guitar, phone, family, & Orange Juice.

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Atlanta Based Hip-Hop/Pop Artist Nicky Will
Photo Courtesy of Nicky Will

Isaac: What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into when you are performing or on the road that you can let us in on?

Nicky: So far I haven’t really got yelled at too much. I did jump off stage at one of my shows and after the show I got yelled at by security because it was a hazard of some sort.

Isaac: Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?

Nicky: Absolutely. I did it to give a more intimate performance and I knew what I was doing. If I thought it was a hazard I wouldn’t have done it

Isaac: If you were not performing, what do you think you would be doing professionally and why?

Nicky: I would probably organize charity events and other organizations to help people who need it. Part of my vision with my career now is to be in the position to help people and have an impact on a greater scale.

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Isaac: What’s your motto or the advice you live by? ”

Nicky: “Dream Big”…I also constantly tell people to keep smiling.

Isaac: Ten years from now you will be….

Nicky: “…performing on occasion and focusing more on being a producer and running things behind the scenes”.

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Isaac: As a great send off, tell us about one of your greatest moments as a performer.

Nicky: I got the awesome opportunity to open up for Aaron Carter which was one of my main inspirations when I was like 6 years old. It was his performance I saw when I was younger that made me want to be a musician. I didn’t actually speak to him but to just the moment on stage and being able to open for his show was pretty awesome.

Official Twitter Page:
https://twitter.com/iamnickywill

Official Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/IamNickyWill

Official Website:
http://www.iamnickywill.com/

Brian Lee Robinson

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Junior’s Cave
Music Interview
with Texas Songwriter/Singer, Brian Lee Robinson
February/March 2015 Edition
MusicSUBMIT Weekly Music Series

by Isaac Davis Junior, BGS, MBA

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Brian Lee Robinson
Photo Courtesy of Brian Lee Robinson

Check out our recent interview with Texas Songwriter/Singer Brian Lee Robinson who is a gem to listen to for music lovers around the world. It is his ability to tap into life’s ups and downs through his music that resonates with his fans. Robinson also has the gift of delivering powerful emotions through his lyrics and melody. It is our pleasure to present this special spotlight with this gifted and amazing performer.

Isaac: I would like to ask you for the readers of this online publication who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words or less:

Brian: Honest, Raw Country Music.

Isaac: With respect to musical icons, who would you consider to be your most significant musical influences?

Brian: Hank Williams, Sr., Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Guy Clark.

Isaac: Do you have a favorite song to play from your collection so far?

Brian: I think my favorite is “That Old Cat”.

Isaac: I am interested to know who you are listening to at the moment. What bands and artists should we have our ears on right now who you think deserve the spotlight?

Brian: I bought the new Sturgill Simpson album, Lee Brice, Roger Alan Wade, & Brantley Gilbert.

Isaac: Since you write your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the process?

Brian: I draw inspiration from my own life and the lives of others. I think a lot about my mistakes and victories. Things I might have done differently, or things I wouldn’t change a bit, no matter what the cost.

Isaac: If you could go open up for any artist on tour right now who would it be?

Brian: Maybe Lee Brice, “I Drive Your Truck” tears me up, every time. Brantley Gilbert would probably be fun.

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Brian Lee Robinson
Photo Courtesy of Brian Lee Robinson

Isaac: So, what’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing/producing/playing etc?

Brian: Spend time with my family, kids, etc.

Isaac: Now for our non-music question: Name five things you can’t live without?

Brian: Oh Lord, Food, Water, Love, Sex, and Music.

Isaac: What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into when you are performing or on the road that you can let us in on?

Brian: Listen to “Trash is Trash” lol

Isaac: Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?

Brian: Yea, those were some great times.

Isaac: If you were not performing, what do you think you would be doing professionally and why?

Brian: I have always considered myself more a writer, than a performer. I have to write. It’s a form of therapy for me.

Isaac: What’s your motto or the advice you live by?

Brian: “Be the change you want to see in the world”- Ghandi

Isaac: Ten years from now you will be….

Brian: “…still writing songs and performing them every chance I get”.

Isaac: As a send great off, tell us about one of your greatest moments as a performer.

Brian: The most Recent is the first time I sang “That Old Cat”, and I could see people crying in the audience.

Official Website:
http://www.jejajorecords.com/

Official Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/BrianLeeRobinson

Lachi


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Junior’s Cave
Music Interview
with Vocalist, Songwriter, Composer, Multi-Instrumentalist, and Author, Lachi
February/March 2015 Edition
MusicSUBMIT Weekly Music Series

by Isaac Davis Junior, BGS, MBA

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Lachi
Album Cover “It’s Our Time”
Courtesy of Lachi

It is such an honor and privilege to interview an amazing established Singer/Songwriter. Lachi is a vocalist, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and author based in New York City. The talented musician has released numerous albums and singles. Lachi’s music can be described as Pop, Pop Rock, and Pop-R&B. It is this fusion of different musical genres that this publication has fallen in love with the artist’s music. In this spotlight with our publication, Lachi shares her story with us. Enjoy!

Isaac: I would like to ask you for the readers of this online publication who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words:

Lachi: Empowering Rock infused Pop-R&B.

Isaac: With respect to musical icons, who would you consider to be your most significant musical influences?

Lachi: A mix of the Beatles and Ella Fitzgerald. I listened to both of them a great deal during my formative years and their influences continue to seep out into my songwriting and vocal performance.

Isaac: Do you have a favorite song to play from your collection so far?

Lachi: I can’t say I have a favorite song. Songs I fancy tend to change as I go through different experiences.

Isaac: I am interested to know who you are listening to at the moment. What bands and artists should we have our ears on right now who you think deserve the spotlight?

Lachi: Alt J (or ∆). Their first album is one of the greatest albums to which I’ve had the pleasure of listening.

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Lachi
Photo Courtesy of Lachi

Isaac: Since you write your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the process?

Lachi: With my songwriting, I tend to draw inspiration from my experiences. I tend to focus less on relationships and heartbreak, and more on self-empowerment, overcoming odds, rising above. Being a black, legally blind female, many of my experiences surround these subjects, and I’ve come to find most everyone can relate. My favorite part of the songwriting process is writing the hook melody which often comes first (sometimes in the shower, sometimes on the train, sometimes while seated in front of my guitar or keyboard).

Isaac: Amazing story!

Isaac: If you could go open up for any artist on tour right now who would it be?

Lachi: I’ve always wanted to share a bill with Pink. I adore her. She seems to just keep getting better!

Isaac: So, what’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing/producing/playing etc?

Lachi: My favorite thing to do when I’m not writing music, is writing period! I write poems, shorts, plays and novels. In fact, I’ve just recently scored a book deal for my upcoming Epic, “The Ivory Staff,” which will be released this summer!

Isaac: Now for our non-music question: Name five things you can’t live without?

Lachi: Coming from very humble beginnings, I could pretty much survive without anything safe for water, clothes, shelter and food rations. I will, however, take the time out to give a shout out to my G5 Mac who’s ben by my side since 2005, so about 10 years!

Isaac: What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into when you are performing or on the road that you can let us in on?

Lachi: I fell on my arse on stage during a set that was being live broadcast nationally. I sang right through it, got back up in a beat, and the band played uninterrupted…but still though.

Isaac: Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?

Lachi: Yes. Hands down.

Isaac: If you were not performing, what do you think you would be doing professionally and why?

Lachi: In school I was great at math and statistics and was going to be an accountant. I’d also consider going into fiction and narrative non-fiction full time. As well, if I wanted to remain in the music industry, I’d probably go into production or management.

Isaac: What’s your motto or the advice you live by?

Lachi: Choose to be happy and live the life you want to live, not the life others want for you.

Isaac: As a great send off, tell us about one of your greatest moments as a performer.

Lachi: A really great moment for me was being flown off to Paris a few months back for a video shoot for my latest single “It’s Our Time” featuring Gary Nesta Pine of the Wailers. The song and video was sponsored by new music collaboration platform, Mixluv. A lesbian couple whose wedding I’d officiated happened to be living in Paris at the time, so I stayed at their place, took in the Paris sights, cheeses, chocolates, and wines, and had an amazing video shoot! The video should be coming out within the next month!

Official Website:
http://www.lachimusic.com/

Official Facebook Music Page:
https://www.facebook.com/lachimusic

The zzips


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Junior’s Cave
Music Interview
with Indie Band, The zzips
February/March 2015 Edition
MusicSUBMIT Weekly Music Series

by Isaac Davis Junior, BGS, MBA

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The zzips
Photo Courtesy of The zzips

This next band has an interesting origin story. It is the fact that for years, the four members of The Indie Band The zzips were in fact fierce enemies. The guys would run into each other on a regular basis while bidding for gigs on various street in London. It even got as far as the guys developing certain hostility towards each other; arguing over turfs and accusing each other of stealing fans. But, after several of encounters, the guys became fully aware of each other’s common skills and influences. It was this pivotal moment that the four realized in 2012 combining their efforts into a band would serve everyone involved. Thus, The zzips was formed. This is their story.

Isaac: I would like to ask you for the readers of this online publication who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words:

Graham: Sideways ride on the blues bus.

James: Wonky, Indie, country, bluesy, & British.

Isaac: With respect to musical icons, who would you consider to be your most significant musical influences?

Graham: Duke Ellington, Beach Boys, Sparks.

James: The Smiths, Lou Reed, Crosby Stills and Nash, Neil Young, Nirvana, The Pixies, The Cure, & The Stones.

Isaac: Do you have a favorite song to play from your collection so far?

Graham: Turn It Up and You’ll Turn Me On.

James: Always the newest song – Full Factory Reset at the moment.

Isaac: I am interested to know who you are listening to at the moment. What bands and artists should we have our ears on right now who you think deserve the spotlight?

Graham: Electro Dilettantes, H2SO4, also Danish Mystical Rock – Folk Band Hymns from Nineveh and occasionally Porn Sword Tobacco.

James: H2SO4.

Isaac: Since you write your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the process?
Graham: Our ideas come from our personal lives and observation of our culture. Our songs tend to tell a story or contain a narrative e.g. the Expect the Worst or Scratchcards and Junkies, so it’s rewarding when the music and the lyrics combine powerfully to express that narrative.

James: Inspiration – the human condition in current consumerist culture and love.

Favorite part: finding the wonky button. Doing it right and then undoing it.

Isaac: If you could go open up for any artist on tour right now who would it be?

Graham: Led Zeppelin.

James: Parton.

Isaac: So, what’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing/producing/playing etc?

Graham: Cooking, painting, swimming, & reading.

James: Dreaming.

Isaac: Now for our non-music question: Name five things you can’t live without?

James: Alcohol, love, books, radio 4, & solitude.

Graham: Art, books, wine, chili, peanuts, & sunlight.

Isaac: What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into when you are performing or on the road that you can let us in on?

James: Magic mushrooms at Glastonbury was messy, Blew up the PA system in Chicago, Limo caught fire in Vancouver,

Graham: Can’t match James list, but I did once switch a sequencer off with my beergut (fat belly created by drinking vast amounts of beer) during an important gig at London’s Camden Underworld . The band I was engineering for were about to be signed by China Records that night and needless to say when the electronics and drums stopped working there was not much left to listen to. Lol, but not at the time. I seem to remember saying, chill out it used to happen to New Order all the time…

Isaac: Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?

Graham: Most of it but not all…

James: Absolutely!

Isaac: If you were not performing, what do you think you would be doing professionally and why?

Graham: Maybe a bus driver or a mathematician or both at the same time.

James: I’d probably be a psychotherapist – love listening to peoples narratives.

Isaac: What’s your motto or the advice you live by?

Graham: Kick the ball as far up the can and park as you start from there.

James: Use it or Lose it. YOLO.

Isaac: Ten years from now you will be….

Graham: Head of NATO.

James: Winning an Oscar!

Isaac: As a send great off, tell us about one of your greatest moments as a performer.

Graham: My old band Code (one great album called the Architect on third mind/roadrunner) were doing another of our Play To No One gigs; there was no one in the pub so we turned all the lights out, hit the smoke machine and strobes and did an really intense artistic set. When the lights came back on half an hour later, there was one person at the bar but that person was head of Pinnacle records/distribution in London and he signed us on the spot. True story. Kick the ball as hard as you can and see where it lands.

James: Playing the Blue Lamp in Hull to one man and his dog and then Playing Glastonbury as the sun set.

Official Facebook Webpage:
https://www.facebook.com/Thezzips

Birds Over Arkansas


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Junior’s Cave
Music Interview
with Indie Band, Birds Over Arkansas
February/March 2015 Edition
MusicSUBMIT Weekly Music Series

by Isaac Davis Junior, BGS, MBA

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Birds Over Arkansas
Photo Courtesy of Birds Over Arkansas

It was the year 2011 when Scott Haskitt, Laura Hartshorn, and John Mondick decided to form the band Birds Over Arkansas. The band’s discovery of their love of musical experimentation was the main fuel for forming this new group. The sound of Birds Over Arkansas can be contributed to the band’s influences such as Peter Gabriel, Ryan Adams, Frank Zappa, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd, and Yes. The best part to the band’s sound is their infusion of heartfelt lyrics, infectious melodies, and complex rhythmic structures. For those looking for a band that is creating both compelling and moving music, then Birds Over Arkansas fits the bill. Here is their story for your entertainment perusal.

Isaac: I would like to ask you for the readers of this online publication who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words:

Birds Over Arkansas: Our sound has evolved over the last year from straight ahead singer/songwriter and rock styles, to add quirky time signatures and non-standard arrangements. We would call it “singer/songwriter with progressive rhythms”.

Isaac: With respect to musical icons, who would you consider to be your most significant musical influences?

John: I grew up listening to artists such as Peter Gabriel, Simon and Garfunkel, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd. More recently I’ve been immersing myself in the music of Frank Zappa – I can’t get enough.

Scott: I’ve always loved music no one knows how to dance to; losing track of “beat 1” and having to zip back to find it has been a lifetime of fun. Yes, some of Led Zeppelin and Sting’s music, Meshuggah, Tori Amos, Alex Van Halen’s approach to Eddie’s solos… stuff like that. John and I have common influences in Peter Gabriel, Tom Petty and better late than never, Zappa.

Laura: My influences look a little different from Scott and John’s! Growing up, I always listened to and idolized strong female vocalists/artists: Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Mariah Carey, Ani DiFranco, Tracy Chapman, even Ella Fitzgerald. Genre and style didn’t matter very much to me; it was more about the actual person and their vocal instrument/writing abilities that always captivated me. I was also somewhat randomly a huge fan of the Beatles and the Allman Brothers, as well as old soul artists like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding.

Isaac: Do you have a favorite song to play from your collection so far?

John: “Catapult” is fun to play live with the full band. When everyone locks in, the rhythm just takes over and the song takes on a life of its own. If it’s just the three of us playing, it would have to be “Elsa.”

Scott: “Catapult” has definitely become the band’s favorite uncle. Also, a few songs Laura sings that we’re recording for our next record; standing back and hearing the band when I’m not singing almost always gives me goosebumps.

Laura: I think “Comet” or “Big Star” are my favorites. I tend to change my mind fairly often, though…ask me again tomorrow. :-)

Isaac: I am interested to know who you are listening to at the moment. What bands and artists should we have our ears on right now who you think deserve the spotlight?

John: The Head & The Heart, Strand of Oaks, War On Drugs, Iron & Wine.

Scott: Nada Surf, Regina Spektor, Pinback, Neko Case, Minor Alps.

Laura: Regina Spektor, The Head and The Heart, Brandi Carlile, Brett Dennen, Ingrid Michaelson, Martin Sexton.

Isaac: Since you write your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the process?

John: I draw inspiration from everyday life. My favorite part of the songwriting process is actually finishing a song. I tend to write a lot of fragments, but don’t finish very many. I have a pretty large collection of choruses with no verses. Every once in a while I get lucky and two different pieces will fit together to make something complete.

Scott: I surround myself with stuff that makes me excited to learn; Science headlines/podcasts, audiobooks, ocean documentaries, stuff like that keeps me in a steady stream of little ideas. I get them quickly on video, throw them in a folder and experiment with them to keep them going; that’s my favorite part… seeing if that initial spark can actually be a song. I try to keep my writing process fun, light, experimental. I love writing during small shifts in perspective… season changes, buzzing my hair or shaving my beard, finding a new band or finding a new place to drive to or hike.

Isaac: If you could go open up for any artist on tour right now who would it be?

John: Iron & Wine.

Scott: Nada Surf.

Laura: Not really sure…Iron and Wine and Nada Surf were really good choices! Maybe Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros? They seem like a good time.

Isaac: So, what’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing/producing/playing etc?

John: Riding my bike. Getting out in a trail for a 40-50 mile ride is probably the best thing I can do to kill stress. I miss it in the winter.

Scott: I love doing stuff outdoors… walking/hiking/swimming clears my head like clockwork. We have 2 dogs, which is always a bonus.

Laura: Cooking/experimenting with how to make a vegetarian/vegan version of every recipe on the planet, hiking/walking with our dogs, and spending time with my family.

Isaac: Now for our non-music question: Name five things you can’t live without?

John: My Gibson ES-335, coffee, my record collection, bike, flannel pajamas.

Scott: Laura’s cooking, old bands I haven’t heard yet, exercise, that new beer I’ve been trying to find, my fluffy slippers.

Laura: Hiking or other outdoor adventures, my rice cooker, google, post-its, and salt! (Scott forgot to say “neck gators” as one of his!)

Isaac: What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into when you are performing or on the road that you can let us in on?

Birds Over Arkansas: We never really get in trouble on the road, we usually behave ourselves. Hmmm, maybe we should work on that… Actually, we forgot our Ukulele on our way to a show, bought one locally before the show at a big chain music store, came 1 inch from accidentally running it over with John’s truck during packing, returned it unscathed the next day. We live on the edge.

Isaac: Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?

Birds Over Arkansas: Why not?

Isaac: If you were not performing, what do you think you would be doing professionally and why?

John: I’d likely be some sort of scientist, probably a mad one.

Scott: Before I started playing drums, I really wanted to be a herpetologist They study reptiles/amphibians… not herpes. I still have a turtle.

Laura: Besides the obvious which is my teaching job, I would say opening a restaurant.

Isaac: What’s your motto or the advice you live by?

John: Don’t be a jagoff.

Scott: “Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent, and original way possible” – Richard Feynman.

Laura: “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”- R.J. Palacio, from her book Wonder. In other words, “don’t be a jagoff.”

Isaac: Ten years from now you will be….

John: Still trying to figure out how to play the mandolin. I’ve been hacking away at it for about a year, but still haven’t properly learned the instrument. I know just enough to get myself through a few BOA tunes.

Scott: Still wondering if I should go back to school. Laura: Completely exhausted. Isaac: As a great send off, tell us about one of your greatest moments as a performer. John: It would have to be opening for Carbon Leaf. At our Philadelphia show, Carter Gravatt joined us on stage for our song “Comet,” which he played guitar on when we recorded it. Then we joined them for a song of theirs. To quote Scott, it was “one of those nights where everything landed strangely perfectly.” Scott: What John said. After we finished that show, in the mad rush to strike the stage, Laura grabbed me and said “That was fun!!”. I love that in that frantic moment she had to take the time to tell me.

Laura: Seeing John jump all over the stage during that same show, and knowing that he had the best night of his life!

Official Website
http://birdsoverarkansas.com/

Malachi Grant


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Junior’s Cave
Music Interview
with Indie New York Hip-Hop Performer, Malachi Grant
February/March 2015 Edition
MusicSUBMIT Weekly Music Series

by Isaac Davis Junior, BGS, MBA

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Malachi Grant
Photo Credit: William Elliot Springfield

Indie New York Hip-Hop Performer Malachi Grant (formerly known as Merksmilez) is on a mission to find a balance of bringing feel good Hip-Hop music back to the forefront for lovers of the popular genre. Grant’s genuine love for the Hip-Hop Industry is what fuels him to reach his goal. He is definitely not in it for the fame or fortune; music is his therapy. Check out this recent spotlight we conducted with the young and gifted artist who enlightens our publication about his mission to bring his music to the masses. Enjoy!

Isaac: I would like to ask you for the readers of this online publication who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words:

Malachi: Polished, Exciting, Bouncy, Charismatic, & memorable.

Isaac: With respect to musical icons, who would you consider to be your most significant musical influences?

Malachi: Nas, he provides an amazing level of inspiration through his character and his music.

Isaac: Do you have a favorite song to play from your collection so far?

Malachi: It’s a toss-up between ‘Flya than’ and ‘My Life’ off the “Welcome 2 My World” LP. The energy between these two songs just holds you hostage.

Isaac: I am interested to know who you are listening to at the moment. What bands and artists should we have our ears on right now who you think deserve the spotlight?

Malachi: I’d say Dunn Da God who makes cameos on my album.

Isaac: Since you write your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the process?

Malachi: My everyday life and experiences. Inspiration kind of just sucker punches you. That surprise feeling in that moment is something I bottle with melodies, instruments and lyrics.

Isaac: If you could go open up for any artist on tour right now who would it be?

Malachi: Wale or J Cole, simply because the show would just be a great collective of sounds. The fans would gravitate towards the mixture of the 3 sounds we represent.

Isaac: So, what’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing/producing/playing etc?

Malachi: Creating concepts and opening up new ideas through Drawing, conversations, traveling. Essentially just enjoying life in different aspects.

Isaac: Now for our non-music question: Name five things you can’t live without?

Malachi: Family, Love, Pain, Joy, & Purpose.

9. Isaac: What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into when you are performing or on the road that you can let us in on?
Malachi: We all know loose lips sink ships. And I’m still cruising. Lol

Isaac: Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?

Malachi: Definitely, the journey is priceless. Crawl-Walk-Run each phase prepares you for the next.

Isaac: If you were not performing, what do you think you would be doing professionally and why?

Malachi: Representing talented people, helping them realize their dreams.

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Malachi Grant
Album Art Credit: Ignis Victor & Malachi Grant

Isaac: What’s your motto or the advice you live by?

Malachi: Make it Happen!

Isaac: Ten years from now you will be….

Malachi: Doing Bigger and Better things; Success is never enough.

Isaac: As a great send off, tell us about one of your greatest moments as a performer.

Malachi: For me, it would be, when my grandma called me and said “I really enjoyed your album, your grandfather would be proud”.

Official Website:
www.mghasmusic.com

Official Facebook:
www.facebook.com/mghasmusic

Mark Gothard

 

Junior’s Cave
Music Interview
with Indie Rock/Adult Contemporary/Folk Singer/Songwriter, Mark Gothard
February/March 2015 Edition
Sonicbids Weekly Music Series

 

by Isaac Davis Junior, BGS, MBA
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Mark Gothard
Photo Album Cover ‘Fly The Coop‘ Courtesy of Mark Gothard

***Editor Note: Dive Bar Lawn from Mark Gothard’s new CD Fly the Coop just won the January 2015 Akademia Music Award for Best Folk/Americana Song***

It was a pleasure to speak to Award-Winning Musician, Mark Gothard, who has been writing and recording music for more than 25 years. Gothard has been traveling and leaving his mark across this great nation.  Music lovers have enjoyed listening to the talented musician as he has performed many of his popular tracks from his music collection. Gothard has also written more than 300 songs as well as performed at many of the music capital’s most renowned venues. His list of achievements include House of Blues, Largo, B.B. King, and The Troubadour. When we asked for an interview with the performer, he quickly responded yes to our invite. Here is what transpired from our online meeting.

Isaac: I would like to ask you for the readers of this online publication who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words:

Mark: Johnny Cash meets Mexican radio.

Isaac: With respect to musical icons, who would you consider to be your most significant musical influences?

Mark: Tom Waits, Neil Young, Nick Cave, Gillian Welch, and Joe Henry.

Isaac: Do you have a favorite song to play from your collection so far?

Mark: Dive Bar Lawn stands out as a favorite taken from my new CD Fly The Coop…also Birthday from my debut CD Dead Reckoning has always been a standout to me.

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Mark Gothard
Photo Courtesy of Mark Gothard

Isaac: I am interested to know who you are listening to at the moment. What bands and artists should we have our ears on right now who you think deserve the spotlight?

Mark: I’m currently listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness On The Edge of Town, some jazz with John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, and Bill Evans, always Tom Waits with Rain Dogs and Frank’s Wild Years, and a heavy dose of Jimi Hendrix for some reason.

Isaac: Since you write your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the process?

Mark: I wrote many of the songs for Fly The Coop during “prep” periods, or dead periods while working as a substitute school teacher for LAUSD. And some songs were resurrected after having been written late at night and then forgotten about, left for dead. So I was kinda in different places as far as writing is concerned with this disc. I draw inspiration from odd things sometimes…like watching a basketball game and seeing a play a guy will make and being inspired by his tenacity or will.

Bad relationships, bad love are always a topic – experience has played a part there. And I am certainly still very much challenged with the actual writing of a song itself – not getting stuck on one line, one stanza, one rhyme, to keep the moment rolling and not lose it at the beginning of the song making everything perfect from the start, keeping the overall idea in mind. To embrace this challenge, I think is a favorite part of this process.

Isaac: If you could go open up for any artist on tour right now who would it be?

Mark: Tom Waits…without question. He’s my guy.

Isaac: So, what’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing/producing/playing etc?

Mark: Like many musicians these days, I’m playing golf when I’m not busy….I’m a single handicapper.

Isaac: Now for our non-music question: Name five things you can’t live without?

Mark: My Mitchell Acoustic Guitar, a bottle of Jack Daniels, L.A. Lakers, my Cleveland Hybrid, and a copy of Bukowski’s Ham on Rye.

Isaac: What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into when you are performing or on the road that you can let us in on?

Mark: I lived in Jackson, Wyoming for a little while back in my 20s, and performed at some of the cafes and bars there in town. One night, during winter, I was on my way to a show and, while walking to my truck with my guitar in one hand and amp in the other, I could feel the snot in my nose freeze up, it was that cold. On the way to the show, driving on black ice, I spun out and ended up with my truck halfway stuck in a ditch.

I was not near town, it was dark, subzero temperatures, this was before the time of cellphones, and I was alone. I knew I only had a certain amount of time, but I could do nothing…luckily the music gods looked favorably down on me – after about 20 minutes a guy in a pickup truck with a cable came and was able to help pull my truck out of the ditch. I was saved. Cold, but saved.

Isaac: Amazing story!

Isaac: Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?

Mark: Yes, again, definitely. Music has destroyed and saved me, both at the same time – I wouldn’t have it any other way, however.

Isaac: If you were not performing, what do you think you would be doing professionally and why?

Mark: Well, this was a big thing for me, having attended Princeton and seeing my friends become doctors, lawyers, businessmen…high powered successful people. I still sometimes think what if, and it always comes back to music for me, that this was the right fit. But I am still teaching and enjoy working with kids – it can be very gratifying, some days…some days are more of a challenge.

Isaac: What’s your motto or the advice you live by?

Mark: If you’re going through hell, keep going.

Isaac: Ten years from now you will be….

Mark: Answering these types of questions for Rolling Stone.

Isaac: As a great send off, tell us about one of your greatest moments as a performer.

Mark: I lived in Boston for a few years, and after performing a set at a small bar (The Kirkland Café?) an elderly gentleman approached me. He was pretty worked up, had tears in his eyes as he said he had really enjoyed my set, especially my cover of Merle Haggard’s “Truck Driver’s Blues”, and handed me some money. I had really got into that set, really felt that I had dug deep for that song in particular, and to have this little old man acknowledge my efforts was unbelievable to me, because it was clear he was giving of himself something that was the last of what he had in change that night. An incredibly moving moment for me.

Official Website:
http://www.markgothard.com/

Cellarscape


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Junior’s Cave
Music Interview
with Indie Musician, Cellarscape
February/March 2015 Edition
Junior’s Cave Weekly Music Series

 

by Isaac Davis Junior, BGS, MBA
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Cellarscape (a.k.a. Paul Terry)

JUNIOR’S CAVE 2015 CELLARSCAPE INTERVIEW

***all photos used in this interview are courtesy of Cellarscape (a.k.a. Paul Terry)***

In our fourth music spotlight with one of our favorite’s artists, Cellarscape (a.k.a. Paul Terry) continues to make wonderful music on his own terms. Cellarscape was first introduced to our online pages in January 2011 and September 2012. Recently, he later returned for a third interview with our online publication June/July 2013 Edition that focused on some of Cellarscape’s newer accomplishments. Each time Cellarscape continued to impress us with his emotional, melodic, and narrative style of music. Now, he has returned for a fabulous fourth spotlight. Our publication asked the performer about his new official music video for ‘Circa 39′ as well as the release of his fifth record, ‘The Act Of Letting Go’. If you are ready to experience someone who pours his heart, soul, & creativity into his music, then this is the artist not to be missed. Let’s check out what’s been going on with him since we last spoke to Cellarscape.

Isaac: Welcome back to Junior’s Cave! We are excited to get some updates on what’s new with you.

Cellarscape: Thank you so much for having me back! I really appreciate the support, and it’s always fun to return to Junior’s Cave.

Isaac: We always love having you here at Junior’s Cave.

Isaac: I would like to ask you, for the readers of this online publication who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words:

Cellarscape: Straight out of the gate with an “easy” question, huh! [laughs] I’ll say: emotional, melodic, narrative, filmic, orchestral.

Isaac: With respect to musical icons, who would you consider to be your most significant musical influences?

Cellarscape: I’ve referenced Devin Townsend many times, and he is still the musical artist I admire and am inspired by the most. But of the countless other bands and solo performers I love, I would say artists such as Chris Cornell, Tori Amos, and Incubus are some of my biggest influences.

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Cellarscape (a.k.a. Paul Terry)

Isaac: I recently had the pleasure to see your new official music video for ‘Circa 39′. This video is taken from your fifth record, ‘The Act Of Letting Go’, which is OUT NOW on SkyBabyRecords. Are you excited about the release of your new video and what can fans expect from your music this time around?

Cellarscape: The brilliant music video for ‘Circa 39′ is entirely the work of American filmmaker Joel Rickenbach. He wrote, directed, produced, and edited that incredible video. The two actors who star in it, Jacquelyn Kyle and Chloe Neal, are amazing too. I’m so thrilled and grateful that Joel approached me and asked if he could make a music video for ‘Circa 39′. For those who haven’t seen it yet, it’s a very atmospheric piece, full of intriguing imagery, 35mm film reels, projections, and a mysterious story concerning the two main characters… As far as the music goes, ‘Circa 39′ flows between being this kind of trippy pop song, and then a very intense song. It’s still very melodic, but it’s definitely the song from the new album that bristles with the most tension. I’m extremely happy with how the song and the video turned out.

Isaac: Do you have a favorite song to play from your collection so far?

Cellarscape: Another easy question! [laughs] ‘Epinephrine’ has an intensity and mood to it that I enjoy playing, and ‘Timelapsetiredsky’ is a great one to play to warm up the fret fingers as there are a LOT of different riffs and sections to that one. There are a few new songs that I’ve been working on a lot lately that I’m really enjoying playing and developing too.

Isaac: I am interested to know who you are listening to at the moment. What bands and artists should we have our ears on right now who you think deserve the spotlight?

Cellarscape: The Unwinding Hours feature members of one of my favorite bands of all time, Aereogramme, so you should definitely check them out. They have two albums and a bunch of EPs out and the songwriting is just fantastic. And while you’re at it, get hold of Aereogramme’s back catalog too. I’ve been playing the latest Sevendust album a lot too, which is an acoustic album, but also features the full band. Mia Dyson’s new one ‘Idyllwild’ is terrific as well, and Gemma Hayes’ ‘Bones + Longing’ has been played in my house on pretty much a daily basis since it came out in November last year.

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Isaac: Since you write your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the process?

Cellarscape: As cliché as it sounds, everything and anything. Sometimes ideas comes from within, from personal experiences and memories, and sometimes you get an idea inspired by a sound you hear in the street, like the rhythm of a train’s brakes. My favorite part of the process is that moment when I start to play around with the seed of an idea, and it suddenly takes on a life of its own.

I can’t explain what happens, but there’s this surreal, “automatic gear” vibe that kicks in sometimes. You just get this sense of where a song should go, or what the vocals should do. Then I quickly record a demo version as fast as possible so I don’t forget it.

Isaac: When did you realize that music was something you were going to pursue professionally?

Cellarscape: Definitely at college, because all of these song ideas, plus, opportunities to write film scores started to appear. That’s when I realized that I really wanted to simply write music: be that songwriter type songs, or film soundtracks, I just wanted to make music.

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Isaac: If you could go open up for any artist on tour right now who would it be?

Cellarscape: It would be an unbelievable honor to open for any of the hundreds of artists that I admire, but if I had to choose, I would say Gemma Hayes or The Unwinding Hours. I just love the atmosphere they create with their songs.

Isaac: So, what’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing/producing/playing etc?

Cellarscape: I’m a big film and TV nerd, so I’ll typically be watching something new, especially if it’s sci-fi/horror in some way. I’m a big comic book fan too, mostly creator-owned titles.

Isaac: Let’s talk about your independent artist grind.

Cellarscape: Well, it’s actually something I enjoy. It’s a challenge, and that works for me. Sure, you have to do your own marketing/promoting, etc, but I see those aspects as very creative things. I know lots of musicians, and I know some that hate it, but I’ve always enjoyed thinking of ways of getting my music out there. 2014 saw some new things happen, like BBC 6 Music radio started giving my music airplay, which is a total dream come true.

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The 14-year-old me wondered what that would feel like – to hear a song I wrote go out on a BBC radio station. So when that happened last year for the first two singles off the new album – ‘Epinephrine’ and ‘The Same Place’, the duet with the ever-awesome dutch artist Anneke van Giersbergen – I smiled a LOT. For days.

Isaac: What do you consider is your own measurement of success? (Elaborate on what do you feel it means “making it in the music industry” with respect to your own successes).

Cellarscape: For me, if someone has an emotional connection to a piece of music I’ve written and released, then it’s a success. That’s ultimately what means the world to me. I spend a long time obsessing over the music and the lyrics, and I’m my biggest critic. So when I feel a song is finished and is ready to be put on a record, I’m proud of that creative endeavor.

But when you find out someone, somewhere in the world likes the song that it now means something personal to them, that’s the greatest reward. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to check out my music. Anyone who buys my records, I appreciate that even more. Because I need to eat. [laughs]

Isaac: Now for our non-music question: Name five things you can’t live without?

Cellarscape: Quality conversations and time with my loved ones (and I don’t mean clicking Like buttons or leaving comments). My acoustic guitar. It’s a Simon & Patrick, and I’ve written almost all my film scores and Cellarscape songs on it. But I guess that’s cheating as it’s a music-related item, isn’t it! [laughs] Okay, number two then is yoga – I’ve only been practicing it for 4 years, but it’s changed my life in so many positive ways. Number three is books and comics. I don’t own a Kindle. I loved the physical experience of holding a book, seeing and reading the art that way.

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I would add films to the list but I guess that’s cheating too because they tend to have music in them! [laughs] Okay, for the last two things I will say solitude walks: I love to stroll on my own through favorite places, like London’s Southbank or Joyden’s Wood in Kent where I grew up. Finally, my trusty notebook and pen: I’m never without them, as you just never know when an idea, lyric, or song is going to strike, and you’ve got to be prepared net that fish.

Isaac: When you’re not doing Cellarscape, talk about the other career paths that you walk.

Cellarscape: I’ve always been interested in creative projects in all mediums. Since college days, I’ve always enjoyed being a part of that process, be it making a magazine, book, film, or a record. So aside from doing this Cellarscape project, I’m still involved in other creative ventures such as writing books and making films, which I’m very grateful for. It’s the multitasking part of my brain which is the most in control of me, but I’ve never fought that, as I’m always happiest when I’m juggling different projects.

I don’t know why. I’m sure those closest to me will say something like it’s a way of me expelling a lot of energy – I’ve been told can be like an annoyingly excitable puppy sometimes. I’m working on a some new, top secret book projects at the moment actually, plus I’m executive producing two feature documentaries that I’ll be scoring as well. So 2015 and 2016 are already set to be very busy years, but creatively rewarding ones too.

Isaac: What’s your motto or the advice you live by?

Cellarscape: I don’t really have a motto per se or anything like that, but since I was a kid, the two phrases from my grandfather (who was also a huge music fan and ran a jazz club for a time) have always stayed with me. They might sound overly simplistic, but they make sense to me. The first one is, “Treat others how you would like to be treated.” And then, “Aim high. There’s plenty of room.” He was an amazing man. When I was a teenager, he’d even show interest in the latest Machine Head release I was obsessing over.

Isaac: Shameless Plug Time: How can we find out more about you via online?

Cellarscape: You can stream all of my Cellarscape songs and records in full at cellarscape.bandcamp.com. They’re also available from the usual outlets and music retailers like iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, Spotify, etc.

Isaac: Ten years from now you will be….

Cellarscape: “…hopefully as happy as I am now”.

******************

SkyBabyRecords Record Label
http://www.sbrecords.co.uk/

Cellarscape’s Official Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/cellarscape

Michael Kenneth Fahr

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Junior’s Cave Interview Exclusive
(Celebrity Interview with
Director/Actor/Writer, Michael Kenneth Fahr)
of the Suspense/Thriller,
Victimized
February/March 2015 Edition

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Director/Actor/Writer, Michael Kenneth Fahr
Photo Courtesy of Michael Kenneth Fahr


Director/Actor/Writer Michael Kenneth Fahr has successfully created a suspenseful edge of your seat thriller that will leave you utterly speechless. Victimized, the full-length thriller centers around the main character (played by Fahr), Matt Miller, who has spent his entire life living in the shadows of his brother. Miller believes that if he is able to make his brother disappear then all of his problems will go away. The result is that on one deadly night Matt decides to take matters into his own hands. This is the main theme of the film. And this is what makes the film fun to watch. In this spotlight with our webzine, Fahr reveals why he created the film, responses he has received about the film, and what others will take away from after reviewing the film. Here is what formulated from our online encounter in this super stellar spotlight.

Isaac: Michael, I want to welcome you to Junior’s Cave. I also wanted to thank you so much for allowing me to have an opportunity to interview you and discuss your indie suspense thriller, Victimized.

I was so impressed with how you wrote, directed and starred in this film. How hard is it for you to wear so many hats with regards to making sure that you stay on task with getting your film completed successfully?

MKF: When I began the script, I was in a story development class at college. At the time, I didn’t know anything about writing a screenplay so it was a learning process for me. Years later, once I had a shoot date for the film, the story was extended and a few characters were added. I was so paranoid that I was going to ruin the structure of the story by adding the things I did. I remember lots of rewrites because it had to be perfect like it was before. Since I wrote the character of Matt Miller for myself, it was very easy to play the role.

It was something I didn’t have to think about as much in terms of figuring out the character. I knew the character inside and out. I didn’t trust anyone else to have control over the story, characters, or how I saw the film in my head so directing was just something I was going to have to do. Plus, I was on a super tight budget and that meant having one less person to keep track of and worry about on set. I never went into the project thinking I couldn’t do any of it. I had acted before and I had assistant directed before so to me this was no different. I just had to do it this time together.

I will admit on about day four or five of the nine day shoot, I thought to myself “what did I get myself into”. I felt like I bit off more than I could chew. But, I was on a mission and it was going to finish the film one way or another. In the script there are parts where Matt isn’t focused on as much even though he is the lead and I did that on purpose for two reasons; to make the flow of the story work and to give myself small breaks from being in front of the camera. I will say when I got to direct Sarah Nicklin and Cuyle Carvin it was much easier because I didn’t have to worry about being in front of the camera and trying to be behind it as well.

Visually, I was able to see everything that was going on. When I was in front of the camera, I had to trust my camera guys a lot more. Before shooting a scene, we used someone else as a stand in for me so I could see what the frame and lighting were like. Then, I would get in front of the camera to film the scene. However, the biggest key to keeping everything on task comes down to one thing…pre-production. And of course, all the details that go along with it (casting, shooting schedule, scene schedule, wardrobe and props list for each scene and the list goes on).

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Between Dustin Hubbard (ex. producer) and me, everything was mapped out before we even began filming. If I wasn’t prepared with pre-production, the production would have fallen apart and everything would have been a disaster. Since the film, shot during the night, I even had the sunset and sunrise schedule for each day down to the minute. That way no time would be lost. I also broke down how much time each scene would take for that day. Once we were filming, some scenes went quicker and some took a little longer but it was all within the time frame broken down for that night’s shoot.

Also, due to some weather restrictions, I hadn’t planned on it was very helpful that I was the writer as well. There were three scenes that had to be rewritten the day of filming. Having the flexibility of thinking on your feet and having the details all on paper made for the shoot to remain on task and the film wrapped on the ninth day as expected. It was definitely one of the hardest things I have done and at the time, I was so exhausted I said I wouldn’t direct and act on the same film again. It was hard but not impossible and knowing me I will do it again but next time with an assistant director.

Isaac: WOW! Thanks for sharing. I did not realize who much WORK goes into making a film.

Isaac: Victimized is about brotherly rivalry and jealous. What was the inspiration on making this film?

MKF: What’s interesting about this is that I do not have a brother. I’m not exactly sure why I made them brothers to start with. I did want the story to be about two people that were close to each other that could drive one another over the edge. There was just something interesting about that to me. And it’s often an over looked subject matter. I am fascinated with psychology, and I am huge fan of suspense thrillers so I definitely knew I wanted the film to be of that genre. I think a good revenge story always has rivalry and jealousy in it. Those two subjects also make for interesting complex characters who are both good and bad at the same time.

Isaac: Can you elaborate a little about the background story of the film as to why you decided to use this theme for the film?

MKF: The story of the film is about two brothers, Matt and Josh who have never gotten along. One night Matt snaps. He decides if he were to get rid of his brother then he would get rid of his problems. Neither of the brothers like each. Josh ultimately is worse as I hope the viewer takes on empathy for Matt. But I guess that depends on the viewer’s interpretation. I can’t go into too much detail with the plot because as you are watching the film the story unfolds and the characters unravel and any more detail would give too much away. As far as why I decided to use this theme for the film, I wanted to have a story of revenge and unresolved anger.

I was in college when all of this originally came together. I think at the time unresolved anger just came with the territory. I was at an art school, there was a lot of that. Like I said above, I knew the genre would be a suspense thriller from the beginning. However, there is a little mix of everything in this film. I ended up adding a bit of horror with the thriller genre and also made my main character gay. This allowed the character to have much more depth and the story to be more complex. I pretty much compiled a bunch of people I didn’t like into the character of Josh and used myself more as an extension to the character of Matt.

Isaac: Very fascinating indeed!

Isaac: I can imagine that there are some intense moments in the film. What has been the reactions from critics and peers you have received about the film?

MKF: For me, this is loaded question. Hahaha! Pretty much I’ve been lucky and had good reactions to the film. Mike Haberfelner at http://www.searchmytrash.com/ gave a great review for the film and he liked it a lot. To quote his review, he said, “It’s a very tight psycho thriller that’s carried by a first rate cast and a directorial effort that keeps its eyes on the story rather than mere mindless spectacle. Quite a chilling movie, actually!”

I’ve had multiple people tell me that the film kept them in suspense right until the end. I have also had a good reaction to the end of the film which I will not say anything about (I do not want to ruin it). And most people’s favorite character in the movie is Mrs. Higgins played by Ellen J. Pilch. This character was written in as the comic relief so it’s nice to know it worked! Also, Evan Joseph‘s score was a big hit with the audience at the screening. Here is the loaded part of question for me….I have had people that personally know me, tell me that the film shocked them because it was so dark and they weren’t expecting that or the language.

Also, that I played the role of Matt Miller too well because I scared them and they were concerned about me. I am going to take all of that as a compliment in doing my job well. However, during the film premiere, I did have a few people leave in the middle of the film (I guess I offended them). I never thought about the film being dark /offensive (that wasn’t my focus). So to my future viewers of Victimized….Yes the film is dark and the characters maybe dark at points and the story is what it is. If it had a rating, it would definitely be rated R and be aware that it is a suspense thriller/drama/horror with language and violence.
Now enjoy the show! :)

Isaac: :-)

Isaac: What do you want others to take away from the film after watching it?

MKF: I want others to think about the film when it’s over. I want it to be stuck in their head even if it’s for a minute or two. I want them to reflect on how they treat other people and hopefully realize no matter what or who you are everyone is the same and pushing people to the edge becomes everyone responsibility. You always hear about terrible things happening on the news and the first thing anyone says is why didn’t anyone know or how could that happen. No one ever takes responsibility to what lead up that moment of horror. I also, want them to see that you don’t need millions of dollars to make a film that’s interesting to watch. A solid story (concept) is what makes anything good, that’s the foundation, that’s the art. I want people to be entertained and appreciate everyone’s hard work that was put into the film.

Isaac: Great response!

Isaac: Are you happy with the end results of this amazing film? Is there anything you would change or do differently if you had the opportunity?

MKF: There is always something I would do differently or want to change. It’s one of the reasons I don’t really like watching myself act in a film because I think to myself I can do that better now and I want to do it again. Being a perfectionist is a good and bad thing. If I had known how long post production would take and the obstacles that came along with it, I would have tried to avoid them. I also wish I wasn’t scared to have the film finished; I should have pushed it out faster but everything happens for a reason and I did the best with what I had. As far as the end results……I had an art teacher once that said…. artwork is a work in progress and it is only done when the artist chooses to walk away from it. I got to a point where I am content with the end results and feel that Victimized is completed.

Isaac: Where can others check this film out at?

MKF: At the moment, I am working on a Connecticut film screening/Premiere for my cast up there. So anyone in that area keep your eyes open for something in the spring of 2015. I also am currently waiting to hear if Victimized is accepted into any other film festivals for 2015. We were an official selection for the ZedFest Film Festival in Burbank, CA. Also, there is a plan for distribution (hopefully in the near future). But don’t forget you can always follow the film’s Facebook page for updates. www.facebook.com/victimizednow and check out the trailer for the film on YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYoTQHrjARU

Isaac: What’s next for you?

MKF: I am in the middle of another screenplay. I would love to make that film in the next year or two (yes, I would probably direct and act again). It is a horror mystery type story. For acting work, I recently had a film I was in come out on DVD in December called Out To Kill….I play Ted and I am filming a drama/comedy called Rocky Mountain Fast Guy… I play Steve. Hopefully there will be a lot more projects to follow!

Isaac: Finish this sentence….. “Victimized is the film that will…..

MKF: “…give voice to a whole new type of character”.

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