We hung out with HANNAH (Hannah Thiem) at Wanderlust 2014 in Squaw Valley this year. Learn about her backstory and what she's up to in our audio interview in the historic ski lodge of the 1960 Olympics.
This week I spoke with lead singer of The Royal Concept, David Larson, about their upcoming shows, almost being arrested for a video and why their energy is so up there! Please check them out at The Roxy this week! Sadly, I will not be there to check it out, but I will be there in spirit from the road! When I talked to David, he pas particularly excited about coming to The Roxy. "It's an iconic stage, you know, everyone has played there. Last time we were in LA we played the Troubadour and that was great! We're excited this time though to have the curtain. We can set up an no one will see us till the curtain goes up at The Roxy. We haven't had that yet this tour." It's the little things that make the biggest impact. Their tour has been a blast and they are now working their way down the west coast for their Roxy curtain raise that they are so looking forward to.
We talked about their video for On Our Way (Below) and they may or may not have run into a little bit of trouble when sending off the lit balloons. If you read about people thinking there were UFO's over Los Angeles, rest without worry, it was just them making their video on a rooftop downtown.
While the band has been together for some time, David was for a while the one that was the head lyricist for the band but he recently discovered that bandmate, Filip Bekic "is a genius. I didn't know it. He is a very shy person and I have known him for a long time, but I didn't know that he wanted to write and could like this. On our way was written by Filip on the tour bus when we were stranded in Pittsburgh. " With a but of a dynamic change in the band's writing technique I am sure some new things will be on the way shortly. I asked David about the shows and he promised high energy. "We play each show like it's our last one you know? We die up on stage each night." While I hope everyone makes it out alive, they are geared up to give everyone a great time.
The Royal Concept have been described as having a sound that "joyfully melds an array of diverse influences such as Simon & Garfunkel, Daft Punk, and The Strokes. The band has also amassed thunderous word of mouth from their irresistible singles (and 2012’s self-titled debut EP), and from those lucky enough to catch them live. The group has been buzzing in the U.S. for the past year, 2012's "D-D-Dance" hit #2 on Hype Machine, while "Gimme Twice" reached #3. Meanwhile, their cover of Daft Punk's "Digital Love" turned quite a few heads as well."
Upcoming tour dates include Thursday night in LA at The Roxy
12/11 - San Diego, CA - 5th Avenue Side Stage
12/12 - Los Angeles, CA - The Roxy
12/14 - Scottsdale, AZ - Pub Rock Live
12/17 - Tulsa, OK - The Vanguard
12/18 - Kansas City, MO - Record Bar
12/19 - St. Louis, MO - Firebird
If you are able to make the show, Say "hi" for me.
This Friday night at The Roxy will be a party with, I'm betting, a lot of whiskey, some shirtless men and a mosh pit. So obviously, you should join us! Warner Drive, made up of: Jonny Law - Lead Vocals, Candice Levinson - Guitar, Ryan Harris - Guitar, Jonny Udell - Drums, Elvis James - Bassjust, are coming off of their 5 week Europe Tour will be headlining the night in a welcome home show (get your tickets here). I love few things more than talking to musicians that love what they do and are grateful for the opportunities that they are given through their music. In 2012, the band went to kickstarter to fund their European tour. This year, that was not needed. The fans made their tour possible and Jonny, lead vocals for Warner Drive is more than happy for everything that he has been able to experience with the band. I spoke with him yesterday about the band's tour, the upcoming shows, and the differing music culture around the world.
"The first time we toured Europe, we did it with a Kickstarter Campaign, that helped us "kickstart" our careers in Europe, and that's exactly what it did. You know, we went back this year and the venues and the festivals paid for it. Our fans are responsible for that. I think there is an attachment because they feel, and they are, responsible for a lot of our success."
Back in the US, the band had a show last week at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater and will be bringing the show to The Roxy on Friday night.
"We got really lucky over there. Like any touring band, we are afforded certain opportunities and I feel like over here, sometimes it's so close and then it just slips through your fingers, but in Europe, for some reason, we get all the breaks! Twice now, two years in a row, one of the major bands, the headliners for a festival, for whatever reason canceled. Personal reasons or I think their base player broke his arm or something. Anyway, the festivals believed in us and liked us enough to give us their slot. So we would play our regular time, 3 or 4 in the afternoon on Saturday, a good show, in front of probably a thousand people. Then they bump us and all of the sudden we're playing at 11 o'clock at night on the main stage in front of thousands of people. So we're lucky. Really really lucky."
A lot of hard work and with last year's campaign bringing the band and the fans very close, they made the most of, what sounded like a great European tour.
"I think that what we've done is we've stuck to our guns for so long and we've let our fans find us. We just stuck with it regardless of if it was cool or if there was a scene for it or anything and people started finding us, and I think that's really the way it happened for the band."
I asked him about the photo to here. He was literally surfing, granted with a bench, on the crowd. I didn't ask him about ab workout tips but clearly, if he wants to, there could be a work out video in the works (Well done! Really, Jonny... well done!)
"Yeah! That was in Germany I think, just outside Hamburg, and people were crowd surfing. Then they started to pass anything they could find over their heads. Tables, chairs, a bench. The bench is what I was on in that photo. The bench made its way to the stage. I could see it coming from the back of the mass of people. you'd see like a trashcan get up there. So when it go to us I told security to leave it there and I jumped on."
Not only was this a big step with the number of fans but it was also a massive leap forward with the crew that the band had with them. Sleeper buses and a crew of people looking out for the band and their show.
"We had so much help! Most of our crew was European, we had buses, big sleeper buses. It was amazing! I got home and thought: I don't know how to go to the bathroom without someone telling me I should!"
Above and beyond the experience of touring, I was interested to hear, and probably should have already known (sorry, reader) that these very specific aspects of touring culture in Europe are vastly different. While here, bands struggle to tour for financial reasons many governments there have been truly creating a growth environment for upcoming bands.
"They really nourish the art. It becomes a music culture. In LA, you know I tell a girl that I'm a musician then it's a bad thing. It's like a bad word. Unless you make a lot of money. There though! You tell anyone that you're a musician, they have this respect for you because you're an artist and you're working for your art. The government will pay for rehearsal space for bands that play a certain number of shows per year, you know professional bands. It's just a huge support system."
Granted, I'm no musician, but musician is never a bad word, if it was, I don't think I would have any friends or dates. That said, I agree that making it possible for artists of all kinds to make a living while working to break through is a beautiful thing! So Cheers to Europe, and to the bands working their asses off world wide to bring us shows where we can see people surf on benches.
I look forward to the show on Friday (see you all there!) and I look forward to hearing about their 2014 tour which I am sure will be another great experience for the band and their crew.
Cheers and see you at the show (again, get your tickets here),
Photos: - * Kalle Christiansson to www.popfotografi.se - Sweden's HelgeåFestivalen with The Hives, Nazareth, and HardCore SuperStar, Dithmarscher Rock Festival in Germany, Crash Fest in Hamburg w NOFX and Bad Religion, Helldorado Festival in Sweden with Sister Sin:
Frank Turner got Los Angeles to dance! If you have been to enough shows in LA you know that is a challenge. The Roxy is a lively venue, sure, but getting LA to dance was a great feat.
Hailing from England, Frank and his band have been making their way around the US this year and their shows have been consistently sold out. I talked to a few people at the show and they had seen him before and were like little kids waiting for Santa when the lights went down. I also ran into KROQ's Stryker who was accompanied by some of the other LA dj's and he was there to see what all the buzz was about. The buzz was well earned and with all the live shows I go to I can honestly say that this was one of the shows that reminds me why I love live music. It was a party, great music, a frontman that knows how to work a crowd and a audience that is ready to get into the music.
The morning after the show I got a call from Frank and had a few minutes to talk to him about the show. He said at the show that Boston had been given the honor of having the best dancers in the country. He gave us the challenge to push them off their pedestal. I waned to see how he thought we did.
“LA did well I think. I can’t in all honesty say that LA beat Boston. I thought it was a valiant effort.”
I appreciate the honesty, maybe we can step it up next time! We went on to talk about the album he is on tour in support of, Tape Deck Heart. For the album, Frank joined forces with producer Rich Costey (Muse, NIN, My Chemical Romance). This was his first album recorded in Los Angeles, but the music retained its very English sound and vibe. He was skeptical about recording in LA and retaining the music had set out to create. Happily though, he succeeded.
“I was excited about it maybe a little nervous, but the end result was great! Rich is amazing youknow, he misses no detail. He got me and the guys in my band to get more blood, sweat andtears out of ourselves. It was more than we’d ever done before.”
Many of Frank’s songs are incredibly emotional and heartbreaking lyrically. They have a beautiful juxtaposition with upbeat and bright music with dark and somber vocals.
“It’s been a good experience for the most part. I write professionally and I write autobiographically. It is an occupational hazard. It becomes a mix of honesty and catharsis.Yeah, you know there are moments where it can be tough to sing them but it’s you know, my job.”
Prior to this tour Frank played some once in a lifetime shows. Including headlining the UK’s Wembley Arena, he also played the Open Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. Of course the world was watching the very unique set.
“It was a weird show, you know I was playing on a hill to people pretending to play cricket and things like that. Danny Boyl was directing it and he was a fan and asked me to be involved and I said yes.”
Frank and his band are continuing their tour for quite some time and he has promised to come back to southern California for more shows. If you were not lucky enough to make one of his two sold out shows, I suggest you correct that at the earliest possible chance.
See you at the show!
With two designs in my head and six months since my last tattoo, I loved and hated the idea of going to a tattoo festival and only watching. Honestly though, I had never seen someone else get work done before! It was always me getting repetitively stabbed for the sake of a tattoo. For those of you that love getting tattoos done, you understand why the buzzing sound makes me so happy and jealous of those getting work. Those of you that think it hurts, or have not had them done... I don't know what to tell you, other than that going to Musink is a great way to get your feet wet and see tattoos done in person.
Musink is like a farmer's market of ink and skin. There are booths and in almost every one there are tattoo artists. Occasionally you'll run into something like this dis-articulated skull (pictured to the right) that I had a hard time looking away from. Of course there was music in a tend across the sidewalk. Penneywise, Bad Religion and other punk rockers shook the tent, but the tattoo artists were the real stars of the festival.
For more information on the festival and the people involved, check out my interview with the festival's founder.
See you at the show
(All photos by photobytamea.com)
My plan for March 8-10 involves music and a new tattoo and with the help of the 6th annual Musink tattoo and music festival, I'll have a blast! Musink will kick off its 6th annyal festivalon March 8th-10 at the OC Fair & Events Center in Costa Mesa, CA with performances by Bad Religion, Pennywise, The Vandals, TSOL and more. There will be work and apperances by over 300 tattoo artists including Jack Rudy, Robert Atkinson, Small Paul and Tomas Garcia.
If you have any tattoos, you know that buzzing sound and the smell of the tattoo shop. I love that sound and smell. It gets me every time! I'm ecstatic to be able to spend three days photographing it and listening to music along with my friends who will be getting some work on their tattoos. I myself will probably not add to my collection of ink, but if my self control does not prevail, and I come back with a little something, I may have to let you know. Unless someone on the Behind The Hype staff has a couple secrets, I am the most tattooed person on staff and happy to go enjoy this weekend in the tattoo culture.
I had the chance to talk to the festival's founder Bill Hardie about this year's festival and what we should expect.
“I went to tattoo conventions in the past and they were dark and felt dirty and the music just wasn’t really a part of it. I decided to bring the music and tattoo culture together. You know they are such related cultures to begin with. I wanted it to be a place where you go and you feel like you are entering the Apple store you know? That clean and perfect for tattooing but also music and everything for the people that might not be getting work done.”
If you are debating a tattoo or might want to learn more about them, this will be the place to go! See some get finished, see the design process and like I am planning on doing, search out an artist for a later piece. Go to learn about the process and listen to great music. Tickets are available for the full weekend or day to day Bill though, could not choose one day over the other.
“I can’t choose a day that would be better to go than any other. Bad Religion puts on a great show and we were very happy to get them on the line-up this year.”
Ultimately though, it will be about the meeting of the tattoos and the music. Any day will be a great time for anyone. Beginning its 6th year, this is one of the country's most anticipated tattoo and music conventions. It has earned its reputation and will only get better.
“Some people there I’m sure will be into the tattoo culture, but some people that go will be getting their first tattoos or some people will come just for the music. It's not only for people with full sleeves.”
Regardless of your involvement in the tattoo culture, Musink will be a great way to spend a weekend and just maybe you can get your first tattoo! If you are like me though, you can add to your growing collection. Make mama proud!
Join me for music and tattoos in OC. I will be running a review and photos of the event. If you are getting work done by one of the talented artists, let me know! We want to see how it went and get a photo of your new piece!
Cheers and love from Ohio!
See you at the show!
When I called Spence to talk about The Stone Foxes new album, he was in the middle of making some curry for dinner. "It's ok." He assured me. "I'm just working on the rice right now. I'll keep an eye on it." So while he made his spicy food, we talked about the tour and a video that may or may not be coming out at a later date. The band is now gearing up for a tour in support of its third album Small Fires, due to be released on February 12, 2013, recorded with producer Doug Boehm.
After a slight break, the band got back to work and will have a very busy year to come.
"We did a big run between Thanksgiving and Chrisatmas. We'll start up again at the album releases on Feb 12th"
" We shot a video... I don't know if it was a secret or not." He paused. "It was really cool! We shot in the desert."
Secret or not, I am pretty excited for the video to be released though. He seemed quite happy with where they were going with the video regardless of which song may be making its desert debut.
A while back I had a chance to see the band play with our very own Cheese Sandwitch. The band played The Viper room and while I wanted it to be a bigger venue so more people could join, they put on a great show. Photos here were taken that night. Since then, the band has been hard at work making videos and working on their newest album out this month.
Many of the songs including Everybody Knows [click below for the video] are known to be very political in nature and the band has only been praised for speaking their mind. Spence explained the politically charged song as the 99% vs. the 1%
"Shannon writes a lot of content that is politically fueled. the 99% vs the 1% you know. It's about people like us.
I don't think we've gotten any criticism for it."
"As artists putting songs and words into the universe, we should make it count. Make it about something we believe in." He continues, "You know it's people like us people our age that are not quite established in business they are struggling to find their spot in the world. "
Since the last album, the band, made up of Shannon Koehler, Aaron Mort, Spence Koehler, and Elliott Peltzman, has gone through some changes. Most importantly, the addition of Elliott has made quite an impact on the other members of the group.
"He is the most trained, he's real creative. He drove out some ideas that made us stop and think. You know, maybe we should go more in that direction. he's got a very experimental mind and process, he's never really settled for a part the first way through."
"In a very good way it's forced us to step out of our comfort zones a little bit and it's always good to have new ideas drawn out and to have things go in a direction that everyone is excited about."
With the addition of Elliott to the band the new album will be one that I absolutely suggest you listen to as soon as it comes out!
Join Behind The Hype for The Stone Foxes first 2013 show to support their new album at The El Rey in Los Angeles [Friday, Feb 8th].
As always, my friends,
Cheers and see you at the show!
I, being Ohio, was excited to talk to LA based Falling Still made up for fellow Ohioans. They are from Akron and have been playing together since they were in 8th grade. The band made up of Eric Podnar (vocals / guitar), Brett Hamilton (bass / vocals), Jeremy Cull (drums) made the move to the City of Angels nearly a decade ago and have been working from day one.
"I meet so many people from Ohio in Los Angeles! We just all come out here!"
Eric Podnar, Brett Hamilton, and I bonded for a moment on our shared roots and then got to the music.
The band has worked extensively with Michael Parnin, known for his work with Rage Against the Machine as well as Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. The guys easily admit that they owe much of their success to working with him on their albums.
"We met Michael [Parnin] 5 or 6 years ago. We met him when we went this other band's sessions. He's from Ohio (of course) too." "We've actually done three records with him. He's an amazing talent, super nice guy and he's very patient with us and very supportive. We really wouldn't be the band we are now without him."
Growing up in Ohio the band, from a very early age, planned a move out west to work and play shows here.
"We started this band in 8th grade, we all grew up together and came out here almost 10 years ago."
The band will be playing at Hemmingway's in Hollywood each Tuesday night this month, and it will be a fun time.
"We want everyone to come out! Anybody and everybody. we have really great bands playing with us all month." "For a Tuesday night, I really don't think you could find a better show."
"We're very grungy. Like 90's grunge music but I think we managed to modernize it. We're just a good ol' 3 piece rock band."
Join the guys for a high energy Tuesday night this month in LA! Look for our review of the show later in the month.
Catch Falling Still Live!:
2/5 Los Angeles, CA @Hemingway’s Lounge
2/12 Los Angeles, CA @Hemingway’s Lounge
2/19 Los Angeles, CA @Hemingway’s Lounge
2/26 Los Angeles, CA @Hemingway’s Lounge
I don't describe things as "trippy" very often. I just don't. Alt-J's video for Fitzpleasure though, is truly trippy. Take a minute to watch it here. The song and video are both on my constant playlist. After that, enjoy my little interview I had with the Alt-J Bassist, Gwil.
Alt-J, made up of Joe Newman (guitar/vocals), Gwil Sainsbury (guitarist and bassist), Thom Green (drums) and Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards), formed after the members met at Leeds University in 2007. I was able to speak with Sainsbury as the band made its way through Europe while on tour.
When I spoke with Sainsbury, the guys had just checked into their next hotel. He sounded happy about the tour and excited about where it would soon lead.
“We’re headed to Portugal after this and then, I believe, right on to the US. We have a 10-day tour there,” said Sainsbury. “Boston will be the first show, but then off to the west coast for the rest.”
This time around, the shows will be quite different. The band was not known for large productions, but with a bigger tour coming up some changes have been made to the show.
“These will be special shows,” said Sainsbury. “Usually when we do gigs, there isn’t any production. I don’t want to spoil it really, though. We have added to the production and possibly some special guests too.”
No need to spoil the surprise; the music on its own will be more than enough to get people to the show. Alt-J’s eerie, rock sounding music and videos have a dark and offbeat undertone. When the band gets together to bring out new songs, the songs (at first) come from Newman.
“Joe [Newman] usually comes up with lyrics and a main melody with an acoustic guitar,” said Sainsbury. “Sometimes it will be just a riff, and we will all sort of restructure it and build it into the song.”
The band makes sure to keep everything relaxed during recording as well.
“It’s hard to keep it a relaxing environment when we record because we know how precious that time is,” said Sainsbury. “But we appreciate the happy accidents that can come out of it too. You can play a song hundreds of times, but then when you go to record, something that seems like a mistake can really be a great thing.”
He continued, “The spontaneity is important; we have to be open to the happy accidents in the studio. There has to be a little bit of messing around.”
Now on tour in support of its album An Awesome Wave, Alt-J has just finished up their North American tour. The album was released in May of 2012 in Europe and just recently in September in the states, with its one-of-a-kind videos also on release.
If you get a chance to see the guys of Alt-J, do not pass it up.
Cheers and see you at the show!
It’s a record release party. The album? Burning Hearts and Bleeding Stars. Aura’s powerful voice drives the celebration. Her prom dress attire makes a statement out on the infamous Roxy stage, as people wave glowing toy wands in support of their edgy rock princess, while her free flowing blonde locks shine bright under the colorful house lights. Its official, Aura is back on stage doing what feels most natural to her: performing music. “Sometimes it’s easier to write and perform songs than it is to talk to people,” she shares. In 2001 singer/song writer Maura Murphy created Aura. Since then you may have caught her tunes on shows like The Young and the Restless, Jennifer Love Hewitt’s, The Client List, and a slew of reality shows. Her impressive rendition of Amazing Grace was featured in the box office smash, Chronicle.
Aura's past work has been recognized with awards from Music Connection Magazine, LA Music Awards, and All Access Magazine. However, she'll tell you that her 3rd album release, Burning Hearts and Bleeding Stars is her most personal and biggest accomplishment to date. “This one is my favorite, it was the first time I didn’t feel like I was trying to be someone else.” With a combination of inspirational anthems like Chosen, and haunting tales of despair in Escape, the album has definite range but, most importantly, it displays a journey of truth.
Veronica Barriga: When do you first recall discovering music, falling in love with it?
AURA: I was really young, I was the middle child and my brothers were very successful, very good looking. I felt like the odd one- the middle child, so I would just sing, and really got known for singing at a young ag. Then I started taking voice lessons. I did musical theater till about 9th grade and, when my grandmother passed away, I took all my money and bought my electric guitar that I still play now, and my first acoustic guitar. I felt good writing stuff down. That was how I got through High School.
VB: During that time you joined a punk rock band, how did that experience influence you?
AURA: Completely. I did everything to get in that band and they said, “No girls- No girls,” then they said “You have to learn an instrument.” So that pushed me to get better at guitar, and then I came back to them and they say, “Well you can’t be in the band unless your brother is the lead singer.” So he joined the band, I became his background singer. I helped him write all the songs. They he went off to college and I became the lead singer. We called ourselves The Under-Age and we played D.A.R.E gigs, school functions, and sometimes even clubs because we had fake I.D’s.
VB: What’s the biggest difference for you between the first album release and this current one?
AURA: I’ve never been so proud. It was so much work and now I feel like I did my job. In the past I always did too much management, all these "things", and now I just focus on the music. I just got darker and more honest, admitted that I wasn’t the greatest singer in the world, but that I could relate to other people. I really wanted the sound to be more spacey and have effects. Hal Cantrell... he really deserves a lot. He added all the elements of the sound effects. We actually moved in together as friends. I made the recording studio in my house, built the soundproof walls and everything, because I hated being on the clock. So we worked on the album non-stop till 4 or 5 in the morning. I would recommend it to anyone, it’s much more organic that way… But the stuff doesn’t come off your walls. I had to pay for that when I moved out. Just a note to everyone out there… (She laughs).
VB: Who is your dream collaboration?
AURA: My favorite singer in the entire world is Jimmy Gnecco, lead singer in a band named Ours. He had Rick Rubin record an album, and the guy literally did not want fame. But if you go see their shows at places like Hotel Café or The Roxy... Anywhere... It’s always sold out! People love Jimmy Gnecco and I would love to sing with him. He’s friends with Jeff Buckley. He sings a lot like him, but really dark. Emo-ish. He is my dream goal.
VB: What’s your take on all these singing competition shows?
AURA: I loved it and I tried it. I don’t watch any of them anymore. I’ve been everywhere, been to American Idol, made it through 3 rounds and then some girl told me my voice was not powerful enough, when my voice is known for being powerful. I had a special audition for The Voice. Remember, a lot of these are also cast. They are looking for something specific. My friends work in reality TV and it’s really opened up that process to me. So I don’t (she switches gears)... The selection process is very staged and that kinda stuff did get to me during that time. I went on VH1’s Charm School (as a guest musician) and Sharon Osbourne said I had the best voice but then it’s all mixed in with these girls fighting. My voice was great; I wrote a song on the show. We had one show to do it… Then the other girls just said nasty stuff about me and, then, with the editing… I was like, I’m done. I’m done with reality TV. I’m done with any game show. I just want to go back to being real. Lose things that have you worry about the image.
VB: You wrote a song about the experience.
AURA: I would always get chosen, and then after I was chosen I would get knocked down. That’s why I wrote the song Chosen to give the message that you should keep fighting even though people are putting you down. Watch as it gets picked to be on American Idol as the theme song (she jokes). That would be great… It’s amazing when you really do find out who you are and you’re happy with it... You do so much better than when you’re trying to be someone else and I feel like that’s where I am now.
VB: What would you say is your mission with your music?
AURA: Adele has really inspired me, she comes out, sells 10 million albums, and no one would have thought that. I was a teenager in the 90’s and that’s when women had the most number 1 singles and now I just don’t feel like there is enough girl music out there. There’s a lot of dance music out there, but I really miss girl singer/songwriters. I miss Sheryl Crow, and Stevie Nicks. I miss turning on the radio and hearing stuff that made you feel something. Now you have to listen to country to do that. I really enjoy when people call me and tell me what their favorite songs are, and it’s always something different from I think would be the favorites. One Step Away is about my friend dying and I literally get messages, e-mails, from people responding to it. I just want to change people’s lives, because that’s all the time we have to do something.
For more AURA: Click Here
In a place where filmmakers are a dime a dozen, it was refreshing for me to come across one up and coming director who does it just a bit differently. Brendan Gabriel Murphy is a natural when it comes to the craft: his style is cool, innovative, and enticing. As a jack of all trades, Murphy’s work intrigues while the stories he creates pull you in and propel your senses. The visuals are often surreal-like; the writing is designed to test your logic while the musical ambiance takes you on a fantastic trip. His cinematic senses continue to flourish with each project he takes on. In the short time that Murphy decided to give directing a go, he’s managed to capture audiences through out the indie circuit, win some great awards, and most importantly develop his team. [gallery]
A New Yorker by heart and a Los Angeles transplant by trade Brendan began his venture into the industry from the ground up. He says, “we were literally finding people on craigslist and working with a buddy of mine who just moved out here. We did little films here and there, and we started getting into more and more film festivals with each project.”
The first? A physiological drama about suicide titled “Numb”. The budget? A mere 600 bucks. After a few projects ignited the flame, the sweet smell of success began to form. “Swerve,” a story about love, fate, and chance encounters paved the way. It stars his friends, Shiloh Fernandez and Juno Temple, who were recently named two of Hollywood’s rising stars. Murphy continues to thrill audiences with his latest short film release “Perceptio,” in which the storytelling techniques take a complete turn from his past work. The film has no dialogue. Instead, it marries the narrative with vivid, dream like visuals and a beautifully composed score.
I sat down with Brendan to speak about his journey as a film director…
BTH: You have a diverse background, what drew your focus towards directing?
Brendan Gabriel Murphy: I actually started out acting as a kid, I did a lot of theatre. It was a nice outlet for me creatively. It helped me overcome a lot of things. As I grew up I didn’t know if I wanted to go into filmmaking or if I wanted to go into acting. I decided to go to film school (at Hofstra University). I am able to do several things: I’m a writer, director, I edit, and produce as well. I wasn't doing a lot of film stuff in New York, I was doing more TV and I really wanted to go to LA, because this is the epicenter of film. While I was in New York, I experienced 9/11 from a block away, the craziest thing I have ever seen- chaos. After working in the city for a while and living there my whole life I decided it was time for change. So I came out here and just started getting people together to make short films. That’s the only way you can really come up these days.
Let’s talk about "Swerve", that film really allowed you to share your work with a larger audience.
Yeah, that helped put me on the map, for people to start taking me seriously. It won 5 awards, played 9 countries, and I signed 4 different distribution deals for it. It has opened up a ton of doors for me, with managers and agents, meetings with studio executives. With "Swerve", I sunk a bunch of my money into that one as well. It was a crazy time for me.
Was that a turning point for you?
Yeah, I had just sunk all my savings into a project and had a falling out with the company I was working with for years; it was like my whole world came crashing down. I didn't know if anyone was going to like the movie, or what I was doing. I just wrote it for Shiloh and his girlfriend at the time (Juno Temple). I wanted to do, sort of a surreal, Hitchcockian thriller, on a short film level, but with a studio like quality. I didn't want to do something quirky, I wanted to do something awesome.
What are some things you've learned as a filmmaker so far?
This is not a one man show, you have to build your army, and every director has his producers, his team. It took time to build my team.
He goes on to explain how the team began to form with the film “Wasted.”
I had my little brother shoot it (Kieran Murphy) while he was still in college. I had him come out for the summer and shoot this short film. I spent five grand of my own money on it. We lived in Venice Beach, on the boardwalk. I shot it in my apartment. I just stole all the shots, no permits, no insurance. That (film) actually helped launch Kieran’s director of photography career and he’s killing it right now! Also, it was the first thing Shiloh Fernandez ever did, he never did anything before that. “Wasted” was his first film. We won the award for "Best Short Film" at the Venice Beach Film Festival, so that was cool.
You and Shiloh continued to collaborate on projects after that, do you guys have a special artistic relationship?
I saw something in Shiloh way before anybody else did. I just knew the kid was gonna be a star, he had it in him. He and I have two more projects (features) we want to do together- that we would shoot in New York. We want that Johnny Depp/Tim Burton relationship. I know that I can bring stuff out of him, I think, even better than other filmmakers could, because I know him so well. He’s doing great on his own. I’m super proud of him.
Reoccurring themes in your films: death, accidents, drugs, supernatural states, and a lot of smoke. Are these obsessions or fascinations of yours?
Yeah, you basically summed up my life in 20 seconds. We laugh..
Kidding aside... I have a fear of dying in car accidents, car accidents are a theme in both films “Swerve” and “Perceptio.” Smoke- I just like smoke. Death- my fear of death, but also just embracing it and trying not to be afraid of it. That’s kind of what I did with "Perceptio." I created a love story with the angel of death-I wanted to take the audience on a journey. That’s what it’s supposed to be, you’re supposed to escape your world for a while. I immerse myself in my art and my projects- I put myself out there and it’s fun. That’s why I think we go to the movies, that’s why during a tough economy the movie business doesn’t do bad, because more people will need this escape for an hour in a half. Leave the bullshit of real life for a while...
What do you hope people take from your most recent release, “Perceptio”?
When I wrote the script, my team saw there was no dialogue and everyone looked at me like I was crazy… but I wanted to do this surreal art piece. I knew half the audience was gonna take the ride and enjoy the experience and the other half was gonna be like, “I don’t get it” and that’s fine. Because that’s what art is.
I hope that they enjoy the journey. Perceptio is Latin for perception, it's an experience of the senses, the stuff that dreams are made of. I've been looking at film more like a canvas, instead of it just being a screen. That's the biggest difference for me with “Swerve” and “Perceptio”.
Lastly, what would you say separates you from other directors?
I hope I bring a uniqueness to my films. There’s a lot of great directors out there, it’s really hard to re-invent the wheel. Every great director has borrowed from the people they admire and I am borrowing from people I admire.What I’m trying to do is not just borrow from other filmmakers but borrow from other artists. From Alexander McQueen, to Shakespeare, and one of my biggest influences- Salvador Dali. I kinda want to be the misfit love child from all these great artists. I want to have that art quality in my films, but on a bigger level. You have to break the formula or what's the point?
For more info on Brendan Gabriel Murphy: Click Here!
Coming from shows at Outside lands and a headlining tour, The Stone Foxes were closing out the adventure at Hollywood's Viper Room. I spoke with Shannon Koehler, Aaron Mort, Spence Koehler and Elliott Peltzman on the night of their last show of the tour before heading home.
The week before, they had played a show in the Bay area and were thrilled with the fans and the support. "This was our first San Francisco show since Outside lands. The Independent is a venue that we played a bunch of times, but this was the first time just us, just headlining it. We oversold out the show. It was a great show and a great feeling." Feeling at home in the bay area, the guys were thrilled to be able to share their music with great crowds in their hometown. "It was a homecoming for us."
With the holidays just around the corner the group was happy to be looking ahead to some time in just one place. "We've been on the road for about six months. We're going to take a little break, see family, write music, keep our girlfriends happy, for those of us that have them." They joked for a moment that not everyone while on tour, is able to accomplish the latter.
Looking ahead to future projects, there are promises of a new album. "We have about six songs right now that are new and ready to go for a new album." With more songs getting ready to be added, they are in the midst of writing. "We give each other equal credit on the writing. You're not going to play what you play unless you're influenced by the guy playing next to you." They come to it open to each other's work and suggestions, coming back with great material. "Something always gets changed, we might have a riff and then add lyrics." "We do trade off singing a lot. Depending on the range and lyrically, we decide who will fit for singing the actual song." Their current album Bears and Bulls, is a genre bending and fantastic rock album. In the first half of 2012, I am told, we should be hearing about a follow up.
Wanting their fans and newcomers to come out to forget their troubles seems to be the main goal of the shows and from the set later that night, it looked like their goal was accomplished. By the time the set was over, fans new and old were filling the venue to the point of near overflow. "Some of our songs are lighthearted and some are serious content but we try not to come out and preach. people try to come out and find meaning to our songs, but it's rock and roll, come out and have fun. Really it's nice to have some fun. it's Rock."
Following my interview with the band, I left the guys to enjoy their dinners at The Rainbow room before their show. A couple free drinks later, thanks to a challenge from a friend, I ran into fellow Behind The Hype writer and music lover, Cheese Sandwich. He has been a fan of the band for quite some time and assured me that I would enjoy the show. He was of course right and their show, even with a slight technical issue, was pure rock and a great night out at The Viper Room. After a little bit time off and time to write, I'm sure the band will come back with an album and tour that will be one to look forward to in 2012.
Gearing up for a tour in support of their new album "Prisoner" The Jezabels will be ventured back to LA to play for their growing population of fans. I briefly met the Jezabels earlier in the year at one of their shows here in Los Angeles and they were of course a pleasure to see live. I jumped at the chance to interview Heather Shannon before their recent show at The Echo on November 8th. Their stop in Los Angeles was the the first of their North American shows to come over the next couple months.
The band was home on a slight break from touring their home country of Australia, Heather and I skyped with an eighteen hour time difference to discuss the band's upcoming tour and new album.
After playing in Los Angeles earlier this year, Heather is happy to be headed back. "I like LA, people either love the music or hate it. There is no in between." Los Angeles is known as a tough to impress music crowd, but the Jezabells seem to be able to take it by storm. She continued "and either way, there's the weather. It reminds me of what it's like here in Australia. It's like home." Their 13 city North American tour will be taking them up the west coast and ending in Montreal later this year. Hitting the road with Hey Rosetta! was one of many things about the tour that Heather seemed thrilled about. With Hey Rosetta! coming from Canada and The Jezabels coming from Australia it will be a fantastic international line up and one not to be missed.
While the band has been making their way around for quite some time, their schedule has recently picked up even more. I asked about the tour experience and while she seems to like life on the road, Heather did admit to one challenge. "I love the traveling on tour" Heather said. She seemed to almost correct herself when she added, "Learning to fall asleep while on the road has been the hardest part."
Deciding to stick with their producer and friend Lachlan Mitchell from the previously released EP, Heather and the band decided it was a good match. "He pushes us to be out best and also reigns in the little disagreements." The band having worked together for years, has been able to make improvisation an important part of the writing and recording process. Heather who plays the keyboard and backup vocals, and lead vocalist Hayle Mary met in college and began playing together. It was simply the duo till they met and decided to work with fellow bandmates Sam Lockwood on guitar, and Nik Kaloper on drums. Once the band was together the writing and recording process became what it is today with improvisation in the studio and each member throwing their own input into the mixes. During the writing process, it is seems to be a very organic for the band who seem to be friends as much as bandmates.
Recently, the band has been consistently playing sold out shows allover Australia and I anticipate and hope for the same for their upcoming North American Tour. The performances with drama and emotion take over the audience and new fans are always made.
Recently signed to Mom & Pop Records, the band's new Album "Prisoner" will be released on November eighth digitally and early in the new year the physical album will be available. Be sure to find make it out to their upcoming shows. They never disappoint.
Heather, while not overly excited about the world of Twitter has grown to appreciate the instant feedback and fan relationships grown through facebook. The band has been using their page to reach out and get feedback so always feel free to check their facebook page out for news and updates on the tour and album.
Photo © photobytamea.com (Taken at The Echo, Los Angeles)
I was first introduced to Vanaprasta by a friend a couple months ago at a show in Silverlake at The Thirsty Crow. When I mentioned that show to Camron Dmytryk and Steven Wilkin of Vanaprasta, they said that the show then was a very different set than what we can expect at their Satellite residency. "That's like the nice cozy date, this is the extreme date." They spent a moment deciding what exactly an extreme date would entail and came up with "you know an extreme date... like skydiving or something. This is the skydive date!" Truth be told, they were right. The set Monday night was an extreme concert complete with each band member getting his moment to shine.
Since I saw them last, Vanaprasta has been going non stop. "We've been really busy lately since we just released the new record on November 1st. To celebrate the album 98.7 invited us to play the penthouse." You may have heard the ticket give always on the radio last week. "They gave us the evening to celebrate. We did kinda a stripped down version of the set."
When asked about the beginning of the band, Steven told a story of happy accidents that lead to where they are today. "Camron came with us and jammed for a bit and immediately I knew I wanted him to be in the band. Colin and I worked together at a restaurant in Beverly Hills, and mutual friends encouraged us to play. Then Camron brought in Ben Smiley on Drums." It was very serendipitous and I think the universe was bringing everything together at that time." They seemed thrilled with escalating success and the future seems bright. "There are definitely some serendipitous things that have happened with the band that have lead us to believe that this is what we are supposed to be doing."
For those of you that have not yet gotten to listen to the band's album Healthy Geometry, I encourage it. I also though say you must see them live. For everyone hoping for more, there are songs in the works. "We have about 3 or four songs that we have lined up for a follow up record, for next year." Steven said. Camron chimed in "When we were in San Francisco, someone told me that your first album is everything you've ever created, even if it's not all on the record, it's just everything, your influences and your chemistry as a band coming together, and your second album is everything you wrote after that in sixteen months." He continued "It's scary definitely, you now 'cause we put a lot of time into this record, and ideally we really wont have that much time for the next one."
Each coming week of the residency will have a new surprise and a new lineup. The guys seemed happy with how everything was coming together. "We're going to do a different cover every week and we'll have our friend Bethany play with us." In addition to her help with a song during their set, legendary producer Daniel Lanois, performed prior to their set with a quiet and melodic opening.
Their music and their sound is spreading around the world and they are amazed at the reactions. Steven shared some feedback they had received earlier in the day. "We just got a message from someone in Denmark. He said that our record was a masterpiece and I feel pretty humbled to think that he thinks out record is a masterpiece. People really attache to the message that we're sharing. There is a really emotive feeling in the music we create and we did that kinda unknowingly. "It covers a lot of grown like going from that young 20 year old to moving into the more heavy issues about relationship and dealing with that. Learning how to better yourself."
For the band, the writing process is a collaboration, "Camron wrote a song for the album called Healthy Geometry which I think really express the feel of us." They work together on every aspect till it is truly their voice. Camron continued to explain the process. "Every song is different. Someone will bring something in and it will grow from there. We don't keep it like one person writes a song. The songs for us, just happen really. It's a pretty democratic process. We never tell one person in the band that their idea isn't valid. It seems to work for us." With appreciation for his band mates, Steven continued, "we need every member of the band to make Vanaprasta happen and without that link, it doesn't happen."
The residency will continue through November every Monday. With hope of some more amazing guest performers, and a fantastic live show, it will not be one you will want to miss.
While they were on the road, making their way to Salt Lake City, Utah, I spoke to Honeyhoney’s Ben Jaffe. Looking back on the show they had just performed a couple hours to go, he reflects, “The tour is winding down, we have a week and a half, almost two weeks, to go.” Jaffe, though, is not road weary. He continues, “You know, I’m in the zone to keep traveling so I might even keep going after the tour.”
The duo’s newest album, Billy Jack, was released last month to great response. As a girl from Ohio, hence my name here at BTH, the opening lines “We’re holed up in Cleveland / We got nothing else to do / Except have bad intentions” were my favorite. I think I listened to the song “Let's Get Wrecked” about 10 times without stopping. So for all of my fellow Los Angeles transplants, we should all join Suzanne Santo and Ben Jaffe at their show at the Troubadour on Sunday.
With the album released so recently, they are still getting feedback and response from the fans.
“For us, it’s been amazing, you know. We had a really good response from people that have been supporting us for a while, and good things have been happening. It’s been exciting,” shares Jaffe. On a tour like their current 41-date North American schedule, they hope to bring in the fans, new and old. With the way the tour has been going I am sure that they will see some familiar faces the next time around.
“I hope they will want to come back. I think that’d be pretty sweet,” says Jaffe.
Entertaining the crowd, putting on a show is the most important part of the tour for the band.
“Being entertainers is important to us,” Jaffe says. “We like to make things fun. We like the quiet moments in the shows too, but those moments have to be earned I think.”
The two artists continue to write while on the road; it’s a continuous process.
“At this point it’s just us holing up somewhere and fighting with each other ’till songs come out,” Jaffe says with a laugh. “We try to fight as little as possible, but you know it’s an intense thing working like that. Any kind of creative collaboration is a challenge, but it’s also great.”
Excited to get back home to the West Coast, they will be on home turf shortly.
“In L.A. we’re playing at the Troubadour and we’re excited about that, it’ll be a homecoming show. I love both coasts, but because this will be the end of the tour on the West Coast, I’m really looking forward to all of them. They will go quickly, they’ll be fun and a little out of control.”
For the next tour, “you know we’re really excited for, whenever it happens, to move up to larger venues and spaces to play for more and more people,” Jaffe adds.
After meeting through a mutual friend, the duo began to play, and through what seems like happy accidents, started their band. “We started playing together, we met through a mutual friend. It was great for people like us at the time, you know kids that just moved to L.A. looking for a space to play.”
With the encouragement of a sound engineer and friend, their first album was recorded.
“We started playing together, someone would reach out to us on MySpace, and it began to snowball in that way.”
Enjoy the show and be sure to listen to "Let's get Wrecked" enough at least to catch up to me.
We get in on the action (we're the second question; I'm John Duah if you're nasty) with Mark Foster of Foster the People in preparation for Outside Lands 2011 next week in San Francisco!
With the next edition of Williamsburg Fashion Weekend imminent, Behind the Hype sat down with designer and former WFW participant Lana Weiss, whose line of clothing, We Do This All The Time, was featured in the Fall/Winter 2011 show at Glasslands. Unlike Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Williamsburg Fashion Weekend deliberately centers itself around the offbeat and unorthodox concoctions of designers like Mark Taurellio, Hayden Dunham, and our very own interview subject, Lana Weiss.
Williamsburg Fashion Weekend, organized by Arthur Arbit, a designer in his own right, encourages designers to provoke thought rather than make their sole concern about the “prettiness” of a garment. Weiss’ concept showcased cowboy and Native American garb, described as “cowboys on crack meets futuristic Native Americans.” Following, Behind the Hype and Weiss discuss, among other things, the importance of color, DIY projects, and the inspiration of 80s pop.
Behind the Hype: What inspired you to conceive of the cowboy/Native American concept?
Lana Weiss: Hailing from the Midwest, a lot of my friends from back home played in bands that strangely mixed country-indie garage into a new concept, and that had something to do with it. Also, I’m obsessed with wearing cowboy boots and I love the whole Native American trend that’s been happening the past few seasons. I thought the idea of combining the two would be an interesting concept that could involve my favorite bright colors, and it turned out great.
Behind the Hype: Why the name "We Do This All The Time"?
Weiss: Well, it’s actually a Mae Shi song that my Southern Illinois friends and I adapted as our theme song. When we’re in large groups together, we always end up chanting that. It’s kind of like a party song, like, “Yeah, we party all the time and love life, so we do this all the time!”
Behind the Hype: Your line has a vibrantly DIY style. Is that something intentional or out of necessity? Or a combination of both?
Weiss: It’s intentional in the sense that I’ve always felt it’s important to dress “out of the ordinary” to keep yourself happy. It’s out of necessity because, in my opinion, everyone should be dressing in bright colors! I’ve always kind of done the DIY style thing since I was a little girl. I loved cutting up old pieces of clothing and turning them into something new.
Behind the Hype: As a designer, does it seem liberating or confining to you when you consider how, shall we say, “casually” people dress on a daily basis?
Weiss: They’re so boring. That’s all I’m going to say.
Behind the Hype: Who is the designer you’ve been most influenced by?
Weiss: Betsey Johnson. I’ve always loved her and I had the pleasure of interning for her last year. Her clothes are so much fun and so inspiring, and after knowing her, so is she!
Behind the Hype: Do you have any ideas for your next line of clothing?
Weiss: It’s going to be based around food. I’ve always wanted to do that because I’m actually obsessed with food, so that only seems logical!
Behind the Hype: What’s your opinion of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly? Would you say that this look of Hepburn’s is overrated in terms of style iconography?
Weiss: I think Audrey’s personality is really what made her become a style icon in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Her carefree spirit is what first got the attention, then everyone realized her clothes were kind of new and interesting and different for the time period. I do think the whole thing is a bit overrated, stylewise. But maybe just because, like I said, the first thing that she was noticed for was her personality.
Behind the Hype: If you had to choose one 80s song to encapsulate your line for Williamsburg Fashion Weekend, what would it be?
Art in the twenty-first century has left something to be desired. Are landscape paintings in the vein of Thomas Kinkade all the modern age has to offer? When a truly innovative artist materializes onto the scene, he or she is easily identifiable. Robert Bowen, a connoisseur of 80s pop culture, macabre images, and Mickey Mouse, blends the singular elements of his thought process to create the explosion of originality that appears on each of his canvases. With a recent feature in Juxtapoz and exhibitions that have been displayed in L.A., San Francisco, and Brooklyn, Bowen is steadily starting to get the recognition that his exceptional art deserves. One of Bowen's most recent paintings was also featured in an exhibit called Warhol Reimagined: The New Factory. This propensity Bowen has for amalgamating pop culture is rather apropos considering that the San Francisco-based artist makes yearly trips to Disneyland in Anaheim (his own personal Mecca) and often uses the classic characters as the focal point of his work. Behind the Hype talks with Bowen about Andy Warhol, the Bay area, and how to make it as a real artist.
Behind the Hype: When it comes to art, do you adhere to the Quentin Tarantino philosophy for film school? That being “don’t go [to school] and just figure things out for yourself”?
Robert Bowen: As weird as this sounds, I feel like I’ve done both. I went to art school, barely talked to anybody, didn’t make one single connection, learned a few classical techniques, got frustrated, changed majors a few times… and then I left and started my real “education,” which is an ongoing one.
Behind the Hype: Is there anything in particular about San Francisco that you draw inspiration from in your art?
Robert Bowen: It’s just a comfortable place; it felt natural to be here. I grew up in the Bay Area. There are A LOT of very creative people here and seeing that is comforting. You could say that about a lot of places, but this feels like home.
Behind the Hype: If you had to describe your art in three words, what would they be?
Robert Bowen: Blasphemous, sacrilegious, fun; sophisticated yet immature; WORTH THE MONEY! That’s a hard thing to answer.
Behind the Hype: Do you believe that “day jobs” should be avoided at all costs when you’re trying to become an artist or is the torture a source of creativity?
Robert Bowen: If you can avoid them and are serious about making art, avoid them. But people have to eat and pay rent so they are a necessary evil until you are able to live off being creative. Sometimes they can drain all of the creativity right out of you, so if you have to have one, it’s best to find one somewhat art-related.
Behind the Hype: What is the city you would most like to have an exhibit in?
Robert Bowen: Honestly, I’ve never been to Europe, so anywhere and everywhere over there is good with me.
Behind the Hype: If you could liken one movie to one of your paintings, what would it be?
Robert Bowen: At the moment, I’d say Tod Browning’s Freaks and my “Baberaham Lincoln” painting. A critic wrote of Freaks, “It’s more fantastic and grotesque than any shocker ever written.” FANTASTIC and GROTESQUE being the optimal words.
Behind the Hype: If you saw Sofia Coppola on the street in North Beach, what would you shout out to her?
Robert Bowen: Your father made some great movies, and your cousin used to be in good movies. But I like Lost in Translation!
Behind the Hype: As an artist, does Andy Warhol’s acclaim ever bother you?
Robert Bowen: Not at all, I actually envy it; if you can get that much recognition in your life time, go for it.
Behind the Hype: What is the name of a painting that makes you want to weep because it is so bloody transcendent?
Robert Bowen: Dali’s “Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War).” That’s fucking ridiculous.
The filmmakers of The Truth About Average Guys, Ken Gayton and Jason Schaver, were obliging enough to answer some of BtH's questions about their collaborative debut. Smoking Barrel: For most aspiring writers, the hardest part of succeeding is actually forcing yourself to write after work. Jason, where did you find the strength and the motivation to write the script for TTAAG everyday after your job?
Jason: I wrote the original draft back in 2001. Of course, it's nothing like how it is now. Ken and I rewrote it back in 2007, renamed it (twice). But back to 2001, the motivation was knowing that if I didn't do something, I'd rot away in a factory for the rest of my life. Now, I don't think there is anything wrong with working in a factory or warehouse, but it's just not what I wanted to do with my life. I have always loved movies, people have often said I was pretty funny, so I thought "It would be cool if I got paid to make people laugh." Life is so much better when you love your job.
Smoking Barrel (inwardly): Yeah, you're goddamn right it is.
Smoking Barrel: Forgive me for what might be an obvious answer, but I have no idea what cities look like outside of L.A. Was this filmed in Illinois?
Jason: Yes, it was mostly filmed in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.
Smoking Barrel: So much of the dialogue between Jason and his friends seems authentic, almost as though the viewer is a fly on the wall in a real conversation. Was any of the dialogue ad-libbed, especially during the scene where GGILFS (Great Grandma I'd Like To Fuck) and Rue McClanahan are discussed in depth?
Ken: Most of the movie is scripted, but the scenes with the guy friends in it had the most ad lib. The GGILF was an improv line from Tony Bozzuto (who played Dave, one of Jason's friends) that we liked and decided to keep in there. The Rue McClanahan stuff was originally in the script, but we embellished even more on it with Troy on the couch. We like to play around with the script and give the actors freedom to do so. But you also have to be able to reign everybody in when things are getting out of control and we've gotten completely off the script with no coherent way of getting back.
Smoking Barrel: After hearing the opinions of producers who wanted the script changed to fit the tone of a movie like Secretary or wanted to cut out the mentally challenged aspect altogether, would you say that coming up with the money to produce your own film is the better route over waiting to find someone who is in sync with your vision?
Jason: That is the million dollar question. For me, I had always gone in with the mindset "If they are paying for the script they can do whatever they want with it, but if they want it for free they are doing it my way." Odds are if they can't pay for the screenplay then they probably aren't nearly as "important" or "successful" as they think they are. So why hand over a script to someone that hasn't earned that right?
But yeah, if they clearly aren't getting it and you have the money to make it yourself, then by all means you should make it yourself. There are so many festivals out there that it's easier than ever to get noticed (not so much by Hollywood, but by distributors). So if your film is good it will get out to the masses.
Ken: I never thought that investors should have a say in the creative aspect of the film. I know it is their money, but it's a risk they know they are going to have to take. Just because you have money doesn't mean you know anything about how to tell a story or what's funny. I think it is important to stick to your vision and hopefully you can find someone that shares it enough with you. That's what happened with Jason and me.
Smoking Barrel: Both Ken and Jason: Each of you said something at the end of the History of TTAAG (Ken said he hoped that people would see what you guys could do with five grand and then be compelled to give you a legitimate budget based on how well you allocated such a small amount of money and Jason said he hopes not to be poor soon) that made me want to ask: Do you feel like this experience has made you fundamentally more pessimistic or optimistic about the justness of the film industry?
Jason: I really don't know what to think about the film industry as a whole. We have "indie films" that have $5-$20 million budgets that are actually backed by studios. That kind of rubs me the wrong way. Some of them are really good (500 Days of Summer, for example), but overall they just don't feel very "indie" to me, especially since "indie" is supposed to mean "without backing from a studio." Then we have IFC who airs reruns of TV shows that were on major networks (Arrested Developement), what's the "I" stand for in their name again? Then we have Hollywood remaking all the old TV shows into movies with 100 million dollar budgets, and sequels out the wazoo. There is nothing wrong with having a million dollar budget and getting 10-20 mil at the box office. But with Hollywood it almost seems like they would rather swing for the fences (and strikeout a lot) than hit a bunch of singles. I really don't know what to make of it right now. I guess I'm just hoping that filmmakers like myself don't get lost in the shuffle.
Ken: Anybody in the film industry that doesn't have a steady job is going to be pessimistic about the justness of everything. Because everyone thinks that they can do better. I see movies like "Miss March" getting made and think to myself "HOW?!" 6 million dollars on that movie?! I'm doing this because I love it and I think I am good at it. So of course I think that I should have more "success" than I do now. But you can't be totally pessimistic otherwise you'd probably quit. So I have to hold out hope that I'm on the right track and that if I keep building on the small success I've been having. Eventually I'll be able to make this my career.
Smoking Barrel: Do either of you have any upcoming projects in the works?
Jason: Ken and I are in pre-production on our next film S.O.L. which is an action/comedy about a down on his luck comedian that inadvertantly gets wrapped up in a robbery/kiddnapping of a high profile television actress.
Smoking Barrel: Would you guys ever consider moving to L.A. and doing the whole Matt Damon/Ben Affleck thing and share an apartment together until someone agreed to produce your script and let you both star in it?
Jason: I don't know. Both Ken and I are single now, so there's really not anything keeping us here (other than family of course). While I can't speak for Ken, I wouldn't be against it if the right opportunities came our way.
Ken: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were lottery winners. There are thousands of struggling writers who move out to LA and think they'll be the next Damon/Affleck. Or make the next Swingers. The thing is that Damon and Affleck already had a foot in the door. They had been in bigger budgeted movies before. Affleck was in a lot of Kevin Smith movies as well as Dazed and Confused before he did Good Will Hunting. Damon was in School Ties with Brendan Frazier. So they already had agents. Already had an "in" to get into to the studios. Jason and I are so far removed from that. If I had an agent that believed in me and worked as hard as I do then I would move out to LA. Till then, I am going to just keep making movies in Chicago and hope for the best.
Smoking Barrel: What is the truth about average guys?
Jason: To me, The Truth About Average Guys and the truth about average guys is that men are just as insecure as women, we just handle it differently. The main moral of the story is being yourself won't always get the girl, but when it finally does, you will have an amazing relationship.
Smoking Barrel (inwardly again): Word.
My latest interviewee has been heard with the likes of Q-Tip, will.i.am, Sergio Mendes, Sa-Ra, Ricky Martin and more; with her sultry, seductive voice with a gorgeous look to match. Shining bright like the name suggests, Debi Nova had me at hello when we got together recently to talk about life in Los Angeles, what’s next for the young songstress, and the answer to the question of just how sexy Ricky Martin actually is. Join me?
Flak: Hey Debi! How are you?
Debi Nova: Good! And how are you?
F: I’m doing quite well actually. It’s a nice day today. Are you in LA today?
DN: I am in LA, did you say you were in LA too?
F: Yeah I am.
DN: Nice! So you’re enjoying the beautiful weather…
Several lines of our cute small talk later…
F: So tell me what’s going on, I’ve been looking up what you’ve been up to, and I’m very impressed; and I’m happy you’re in the music game right now.
DN: Oh well thank you so much! Yeah I’m really excited to put out this record, which I think will come out at the end of April and… well I don’t know if you’ve heard any of it but it’s basically a combination of songs that I’ve written over the years, and it’s partly in Spanish; because I’m from Costa Rica. And I guess that’s what’s major about the album; combining those languages and… I’m excited!
F: Yeah I’ve heard parts of it actually. Drummer Boy, one of my favorite songs…. And I don’t know if I’m pronouncing this right but Cora… Corazon Abierto?
Post her laughing at my feeble attempt at Spanish
DN: Heh yeah Corazon Abierto!
F: Yeah…I’m working on it… but I love the guitar in that song. That song is amazing!
DN: Thank you thank you! That’s the idea, and I think that one of my goals for this album is that some people will learn some Spanish words you know? That would be really cool!
F: Yeah I think that would be cool too; especially in Los Angeles…it’s very Spanglish, and I’m still working on it myself. I keep telling myself I’m gonna learn…
DN: Yeah and it’s good if you live in LA!
F: So tell me, what’s your favorite song on the album? That track that everyone should be looking out for?
DN: Well I love all of them but hmmm… I really love all of them like they were my children but… I think the last song was very special to me because I wrote it at a time when I was a little bit disappointed with where my life was going and its song that means Get out of me…you know, my fears, and I really wanted to get them out of me.
F: And that song is called Get Out of Me?
DN: Well Leave Me…would be a better translation actually. Yeah Leave Me.
F: Awesome. And I’ve been looking at all the people who you’ve worked with, like Q-Tip, Will.I.Am, Illa J… the most interesting though, and the one that shocked me when I realized it, and I didn’t realize until a little before we did this interview, was that you worked with Sa-Ra (aka Sa-Ra Creative Partners), who are one of my favorite artists. I mean those guys are awesome!
DN: I did! And that was amazing because they’re…as you know they’re very special…they’re on their own…
F: Planet! Exactly!
DN: Yeah! And I was so fortunate to meet them! We were in the studio in downtown LA actually; at a house slash studio and it was just a very creative space, and for a while, I just loved to go there and get inspired and I remember I got there one day and Herbie Hancock just happened to be there..
DN: Yeah! So yeah they were just really interesting and really inspiring guys to be around. All three of them and really deep into music and jazz…and were just really really interesting characters. And yeah they’re my friends and we did this thing called (I thought she was saying Space Street) Spacefruit.
I believe she was referring to the first track on the latest Sa-Ra album, which I reviewed several times.
F: So did you challenge Herbie Hancock to piano battles?
DN: Heh, I basically sat in a corner; star struck and trying to act cool, and shook his hand at the end of the session but ummm.. but it was a really nice treat for me actually.
F: That’s awesome. But a lot of lady friends were asking me, how sexy is Ricky Martin to dance with in person?
DN: VERY! VERY VERY SEXY!
F: They watched videos of you guys dancing saying “she’s the luckiest girl on the planet!”
DN: Well I have to say, my job did not suck, that’s for sure. I really enjoyed working with him, and besides the, you know physical parts of it, he’s also a wonderful person so that was also great; working with somebody who’s nice, humble, and a super human being.
F: How long have you lived in LA now?
DN: I’ve been here for about mmmm…seven years.
F: And you moved here when you were 16?
DN: Oh I moved here when I was 17. Right after high school.
Do the math gentleman. She may be the one for you! Actually, no matter what your age, she’s the one for anybody…
F: And also you went to the Los Angeles Music Academy correct?
DN: I did. I went there for a year, for singing and playing piano as well.
F: I also read that you play guitar, piano, bass, and a couple other things as well? What’s your favorite?
DN: Well piano is definitely my first love, because I’ve played piano since I was very very young… Four years old and so piano is my favorite just because I know it so well.
F: Aww I was hoping you’d say bass…I’m a bass player myself. But that’s ok. *tears*
DN: Well wait! The truth is, I started playing bass, and I think it’s the coolest instrument in the world…
F: It is!
DN: Well it’s…it’s cool because it’s not only holding down the rhythm…I know drums hold rhythm, but really bass is the pillar I think of a good band.
What a sport. She tried to ease the blow.
F: Well I’m glad we have an understanding of that!
DN: HAHA! We do!
F: Alright alright… so of all the people….you’ve worked with a lot of random people who’ve toured the world doing sold out crowds… but who do you want to work with next over the next couple years?
DN: Oh…well I have a long list, but I would have to say at the top of my list would have to be Sting… another bass player… I’m just the biggest fan…
F: Oh I’m a huge fan as well…
DN: …yeah and he and I are label mates so maybe one day my dream will come true and I will work with Sting.
F: Yeah, and honestly, all it takes is a phone call, and you’re already have the in… you’re already on the label…so that’s better than what I’m working with.
DN: Heh I really hope so, cause I’m a big fan…but I don’t know if I’d be able to sustain my cool with him you know? But I’m going to try for sure.
F: Wonderful! Well I only have a couple more questions for you… have you ever been to the Coachella Music Festival before?
DN: I did! I’ve been there twice. I actually went last year.
F: Yeah me too…I didn’t see you there unfortunately.
DN: Heh it was really nice there.
F: Are you going again this year?
DN: I don’t think so. I don’t think my schedule will let me. But I would love to go. I actually just saw the lineup. Whose playing? Jay-Z…
F: The Gorillaz…
We went on at lengths about various artists we want to see, and the overall badass-ness of Coachella.
F: And so what about a tour for you? I just realized that Coachella is in April, the same month as your album, so it will be busy for you.
DN: I think that right now we’re just going to be doing promo for the album, and also we’ve been talking about a fall tour in maybe September-October. Although…. I just heard that we’ll possibly do the Lilith Fair… So I want to be able to perform in a couple of those (dates). That would be amazing.
F: That would be amazing and I’m hoping for that for you.
DN: Thank you!
F: Well that’s all I’ve got for you today, and hopefully when you guys do the tour we can come out and meet you and the band, and see everything you’ve been working on.
DN: Cool yeah we have some time so I’m sure we can do it.
F: Well thank you VERY much for talking to us today.
DN: No problem, thank you so much!
And there you have it kids. The alarming and disarming Debi Nova. If you haven’t already, check out her tunes on her MySpace and feel the Latin love right along with me. Shes also got her new video for my favorite song, Drummer Boy, so don't forget to check it out!
Until next time my friends,