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Memories of the 12th Planet

February 14, 2014

12th planet

 

Out of everything that I link music with, I almost always most commonly associate it with memories.

For any music lover, certain melodies bring about feelings and thoughts of moments in your life, and it’s not surprising for me to begin listening to a song or an album and be transported back into moment.

It’s also quite exciting when certain music reminds me of other music. I used to believe this was a great sign, because I could identify something in it that had already infatuated. It demonstrates something you already know you love.

Listening to 12th Planet did not inspire this feeling of familiarity, and after a while of listening to him, I’ve now come to be thankful that it did not. Instead, I found myself listening to an artist who has taken bits and pieces from all different subgenres of electronic music, as well as hip-hop, to create pieces that are radically different from one another and anything else I have listened to.

I let his Soundcloud stream play out for a few days while walking to class, cleaning, writing or reading. On more than one occasion, I had to check to make sure I was still listening to the same guy from song to song. What started with trapped out beats moved to more house elements with hints of trance, and back to trap and hip-hop.

Who is this guy grabbing from all different planes? He’s John Dadzie, listed on his website as “Los Angeles dubstep god.” It makes sense considering that when he began in 2006, he immediately started mixing tracks by Skrillex, Datsik and Kill The Noise. His presence at festivals like Coachella and Electric Daisy Carnival have driven this title into stone as a well-known name in the underground electronic movement.

Can we really call this underground at this point, though? After weeks of listening to 12th Planet, he is the perfect example of why this it’s no longer underground. He has managed to make beats and melodies from all over the spectrum, which in turn draws a wide enough audience to be able to explore his versatility in these different venues with different crowds who have different tastes.

His diverse bass can be heard in mixes of Pretty Lights’ songs, and he still manages to range the spectrum from his original drum and bass roots. There are pieces of everything here and there that remind you…yeah, this musical world can still build off of one another in a different way than what we expect to hear.

Fresh Bakin’, Soulstice Sound and 1up present 12th Planet’s Smog City Tour with special guests Protohype, Son of Kick, Two Fresh and Steady on Feb. 25. Tickets are $18 in advance/$20 day of show. Doors at 9 p.m., 21+ only.

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Mark Farina keeps it old school because he loves you

February 2, 2014

mark farina press

Everyone in my life always tells me that I like doing things the hard way.

Maybe that’s true – but there’s some value to be seen in spending extra time and taking the much more intimate steps to detail.

Music is the same way. Like all art, I don’t think it should be short-cutted. It needs to have some attention paid to it – and if it’s the path less traveled, then so be it.

I bet Chicago native DJ Mark Farina would agree. And while my reasons may be numerous, by and large it is because Mark, who has been around for over 20 years, is one of the few remaining DJs who still stays old school by not using a laptop, instead paying closer attention to WAVs or the art of CDJing, sprung from vinyl. You can see him live on Feb. 15 at the Lakeside Tahoe City for his extended Tahoe set, because…you know, Mark Farina loves you.

He must, right? After all these years, he’s still taking that extra step. I’m sure it comes so naturally to him by now, but he is certainly on the minority of the spectrum of house DJs today, and in the best way possible.

Although he is a Chicago native, it could be his San Francisco residency that puts him in the niche with artists who make you groove. Farina comes from a world where DJs used to play all night, and the aesthetics of a set were arguably more appealing than they are now. The intimacy the artist has with the music can be better studied in this environment, and it’s something that I only see from an artist who plays vinyl.

I think that’s something that an artist does – whether it be consciously or subconsciously – in all their music. For example, Farina’s roots can also be seen in one of my latest favorite Soundcloud finds, a tune called “Rental Skates” released less than a month ago. In fact, that’s why I clicked on it – it evoked a kind of patient feeling commitment to something I knew long ago, that reminded me of the way things used to be.

He is most well known for his Mushroom Jazz series over the years, the eighth installment of which was the last to be released this past fall. I’ll admit – I didn’t know what Mushroom Jazz was exactly when I first started listening to Mark Farina a few years ago, and you could look up a definition but the best way to know is to listen. This is music, after all. It fits perfectly with not only the fast-paced party scene that Farina experienced after moving to the bay, but also what kinds of feelings the words themselves inspire.

It’s just that – jazzy. It’s got soul and the nice kind of syncopated beat that just doesn’t quit, something I find characteristic of the late 80’s-early 90’s DJs. That little bit of extra color though, extra thickness, and something a little bit off-center – that’s the mushroom. Together, it brings a sometimes hip-hop-like, smooth rhythm induced form of jazz and electronic music to a constant growing level.

I don’t see any reason that Mark should change that anytime soon.

Mark Farina will play with special guest DJ Blue 42 on Saturday, February 15 in Tahoe City at the Lakeside Tahoe City as part of Fresh Bakin’s Winter House series. Tickets are $17 in advance/$20 at the door. Ages 21+ welcome, music will be at 9:30. Visit www.www.staging.freshbakin.flywheelsites.com to purchase tickets.

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“Our brakes went out in Colfax, MON!”

January 10, 2014

BLAKE

 

“Our brakes went out in Colfax, mon!”

 

“We heard that so many times at Humpty’s, usually from reggae bands, it ended up as a sign backstage,” laughs Blake Beeman, local sound engineer at the Crystal Bay Club casino. I personally always noticed over the years of working with Blake that overall, even in stressful scenarios (like when we disagreed on something or I dressed up as him on Halloween), he kept a very even-keeled, humble and funny demeanor.  Depending on how long you’ve live in Tahoe, if you ever attended concerts at Humpty’s, Elevation, River Ranch, Crystal Bay Club, Sierra Vista, Rosie’s, Blue Agave, The Funk and Jam Fest, Commons Beach or Blues Days at Squaw, he’s the main guy that has been behind-the-scenes, and particularly sound boards, making sure the show goes on. While fans, as a general rule, tend to cheer for the band onstage, the unsung heroes of the show like Blake have been there for many hours before the doors open, dialing in the sound and lights.

 

Sound is vibration, and it can cause us to react in different ways. The way the sound comes out of the speakers to hit the crowd can affect our moods: it can make us irritable, elated, happy, depressed, connected, etc. I’ve joked recently that Blake’s fingers on a soundboard and his speakers have been the cause for so many hook-ups, friendships, marriages, and even babies, but the more I think about it, the more I find it not really a joke, but reality. His devotion to music has had a really powerful effect on the entire community, and world at large.

 

Blake was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and had his insurance canceled due to “incurable neurological disease.”  The Crystal Bay Club and the community are joining together to throw a benefit to help with rising medical costs on January 15th. Dead Winter Carpenters, Jelly Bread and Carolyn Wonderland have donated their talents for a special event we definitely implore you to attend.

 

I met Blake around 2002 while he was running sound at Sierra Vista, then worked with him at the Crystal Bay Club from about 2005-2010 where I programmed their electronic music (aka “DJ Nights”) and was production manager for a short time (“the water and towel guy”).  The amount of laughs was about equal to the number of things I learned about music, but this isn’t about me….

 

Born in Stuttgart, West Germany, Blake’s father was casual banjo player and Blake asked him for a classical guitar at the age of 5’ which his dad then broke immediately on the way out of the guitar store. Even though he didn’t know how to play, he formed his first band Italic Illusions using cardboard cutouts for amps, drums and speakers and playing to old Beatles records. “I played a tennis racquet for a guitar,” Blake says, and he fired his first in a long series of drummers for going home for bath time.

 

Around 1971, then located in Upland, California, he was the drummer for the band Half Moon and moved to guitar as a better drummer came to school. Playing rotating covers of the likes of Sabbath, Deep Purple and Steppenwolf at junior high dances, all was well until his amp caught fire and the crowd went crazy, tearing down decorations and they were banned from playing and more shows.

 

He moves to Pasadena, and was in the band The Wiz Kids, taking lessons from of Eddie Van Halen (“you could go in and learn all the Zeppelin licks you wanted for $10”). At that time he also started working at The Record Plant learning some sound engineering. Afterwards he moved to Hollywood to play with The Touch, where they played the circuit of Madame Wong’s, Starwood, and the Friday Battle of the Bands at The Whiskey A Go-Go, where whoever got the most beer bottles thrown at the stage was asked to play the next day for $200. During this time he had been able to save enough money to buy a PA, so he’d be mixing sound onstage while also playing guitar. Later, a fabled night at Madame Wong’s, which included a gig and a near “Crying Game” moment with a good-looking blonde, he heads north to Tahoe.

 

He built the Kings Beach Pharmacy with his dad, and started playing in bands again. “Then as life goes full circle….after years trying to land a gig in Hollywood I’m playing a wedding at the River Ranch and meet Dave Mason, who takes me on tour as his guitarist,” Blake laughs. They ended up opening for the likes of Crosby, Stills and Nash, Steve Winwood, etc and playing Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid. All the same time, he’s been playing with his local Tahoe band The Beer Gardeners for the last 21 years.

 

Yet he still comes back to Tahoe, where he brings his PA into the now-fable Tahoe City venue Humpty’s, (eventually turned to Elevations, now Sawtooth Ridge Café), to do sound for a couple shows. And that was historic moment as Humpty’s went on to host such bands as Cake, No Doubt, Ice-T and Body Count, Galactic, Yonder Mountain String Band, Merle Saunders and many, many more. After many years it was THE stop on the north shore for national touring acts. Another pivotal moment for both Blake and the sound industry, he meets Jim Gamble, one of the premier front-of-house sound engineers whom he builds the DCX board with. Considered one of the best soundboards in the world (the Crystal Bay Club has two of them), it cost him his good vision and hours of his life, but sounds like “angels singing” it’s so clean.

 

After the closing of Sierra Vista, the Crystal Bay Club opened, and Blake was able to bring his technical knowledge and expertise into the CBC, helping design and build both rooms for Roger and Elise Norman. There he was part of the team making the venue a nationally renowned “nursery for up-and-coming acts” that contained top-of-the-line production for live bands in both rooms. Standing behind the board at the CBC, he is also running lights, doing sound, and mixing the video cameras….”and I can still talk to girls at same time.”

 

I sat down with  Blake for a few questions:

 

FB: What have been some of your favorite shows you’ve seen:

BB: That’s a near impossible question…I’ve probably seen about 6000 shows! I was roadie Yes for a bit, Jethro Tull “Thick as A Brick,” Band of Utopia (the band that went out on tour after Frank Zappa died), Gov’t Mule at Humptys, I did some of Bonnie Raitt’s acoustic tour, and it was when she was still not-sober ….she was out of her tree, but could sing like a songbird.

 

FB: Who would you love to see at the CBC?

BB: Warren Haynes for sure. Jimmy Herring…he’s come through with so many incarnations that have just blown the few people in attendance away. Widespread Panic holds him back so much, but I’d love to see him back again in one of his own bands.

 

FB: Up and coming bands you are loving?

BB:Fox Street All-Stars, Splitlip Rayfield…like Metallica of street grass.

 

FB: We started working together to do EDM. You didn’t like it at first

BB: No…not that, but sounded like clones of each other. A good producer would come in and I would notice.

 

But it’s been interesting to see it change all through the years of it getting big, first it was house, then breaks, then trip hop, then dubstep, now trap, now going back to house. People that started it out had to evolve because the crowd got sick of it. The electronic music scene became more than just a scene of drinking beer and water with buddies…people REALLY wanted to hear the tracks. That was really cool.…just like no one wants to hear the same cover band over and over again, people wanted to actually come out and hear the sounds these guys were making.  And ya know, EVERYONE starts in a living room doing a house party (bands included).

 

FB: Any advice for musicians?

BB: Enjoy everything you do as a musician. STAY HUMBLE.  Same with sound engineer.

 

FB: Any advice for up and coming sound engineers?

BB: If learning…be observant without being annoying. When people are working don’t bother them.

 

 

9 p.m. Tickets for the 21+ show start at $25, booths for $50. You can purchase pre-sale tickets for the show at the Crystal Bay Club cage or at http://www.cbc.tickets.musictoday.com/CrystalBayCasino/calendar.aspx

If you’d like to donate to Blake there is an internet donation site that you can go to and use Paypal. It is a two-step process. Go to the URL below. Once Tahoetopia comes up enter Blake in the search window on the top right. This will pull up topics relating to Blake. The first is a link to the donation portal.

Here is the URL: http://www.tahoetopia.com/

 

IS THAT BLAKE?

 BLAKE IS STEVE

 

Photo credit: Truffles Ziz McCrushing  

 

 

 

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THE LIST: FRESH BAKIN’S FAVES FOR SNOWGLOBE 2013

December 27, 2013

 

We’ve been working in overdrive leading up to SnowGlobe in South Lake Tahoe over New Year’s weekend. Staff writer Megan Ortiz has already covered some of our favorite acts that are also playing the afterparties (links at bottom), so we aren’t going to repeat ourselves.  In no particular order, here are a few more acts you absolutely should not miss. CLICK ON THE PICTURES TO LISTEN TO MUSIC FROM OUR FAVORITES!

 

THE FLOOZIES (Dec 30th, Main Stage, 3:45-4:45pm)

thefloozies

 

While we’ve never seen this act live, their soundcloud page is certainly headnoddingly groovy and makes us exited for both their festival and latenight set. Their music sounds like it would be oozing from the boombox graphic from their most recent album, “Tell Your Mother.” Funk, Miami electrobass, 80’s & 90’s hip hop fuse into a rollicking fun sound that will move your booty.

https://soundcloud.com/flooziesduo/sets/tell-your-mother

 

 

 

VOKAB KOMPANY (Dec 31st, Main Stage, 5:30-6:15pm)

VOKAB IMG

We admit, we are biased…we love Vokab Kompany! Mix one part Beastie Boys with some old-school Red Hot Chili Peppers funk (see…Mother’s Milk and earlier) with live violin, drums, keys and MCs that drop super tight rhymes and you have one of the most high energy BANDS on the bill.

https://soundcloud.com/vokabkompany/wheres-my-delorean

 

CASHMERE CAT (Dec 31st, Sierra Tent,  10:00pm-11:15pm)

cashmere-cat-sotonight-web-post

Another act we have never seen live, but have heard great reviews of his live shows. THOSE BEATS! His beats are incredibly sexy with a heavy R&B influence infusing a wide array of acapellas…..layered over hip hop, house, future bass and broken beats.

http:/https://soundcloud.com/cashmerecat 

 

EXMAG (Dec 29th, Sierra Tent, 3:45-4:45pm)

exmag-press-640x325

We saw EXMAG perform on Gramatik’s Age of Reason Tour and all we can say is it was really refreshing sound in a time when so much bass music is feeling a little stale. This five piece supergroup (including Gramatik) brings blues, soul, R&B, old school 70’s porno-funk and hip hop alive with singer ILLUMNTR’s soulful vocals and vibrant stage presence. If you missed them on Gramatik’s tour…don’t miss this!

https://soundcloud.com/exm4g 

 

THE POLISH AMBASSADOR (Dec 29th, Sierra Tent, 6:15pm-7:30pm)

polish horse

If you ‘ve never seen The Polish Ambassador, get ready for a sexy, booty throwdown of massive proportions. Perfectly styled remixes and original productions meld together for an experience likened to your first kiss at the flagpole during recess….although did we mention that you’re kissing an attractive alien on their home planet?

https://soundcloud.com/thepolishambassador

 

Here are the blogs about other artists playing both SnowGlobe and the Late Nights at Montbleu

JUSTIN MARTIN: http://bit.ly/1eKiz5v
KASTLE: http://bit.ly/19ot8DG
CLAUDE VON STROKE: http://bit.ly/KaAjJb
GIGAMESH: http://bit.ly/1cGQTwK
ZEDS DEAD: http://bit.ly/19pilsT

SNOWGLOBE FESTIVAL TICKETS: http://bit.ly/1fOuo7f
A
FTERPARTY TICKETS: http://bit.ly/1cGTSVT

 

LIKE FRESH BAKIN’ ON FACEBOOK:

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Mesh it all together with Matt Masurka aka Gigamesh

December 27, 2013

gigamesh

When I was listening to Minneapolis native Gigamesh the other day, I found myself being reminded of a retro-esque Donna Summers beat. Low and behold, I looked at Soundcloud to see that his next song was a remix of Donna Summers’ “Bad Girl.”

I don’t believe in coincidences, and although it’s been apparent in numerous interviews that Matt Masurka is aware of the subconscious influence his shared Prince roots have had on his career, it doesn’t seem to be the only factor in his retro-induced style or dance music. And on Dec. 31, SnowGlobe and Fresh Bakin’ are proud to present Gigamesh with Cut Copy for the official SnowGlobe after party in The Showroom at Montbleu.

As the last in my series of SnowGlobe blogs – and only because I went in order of appearance – listening to hours of Gigamesh has gotten me extremely pumped for these after parties, and more so to see one of the few acts hosted that I haven’t seen live yet. Nothing is better than new music. Particularly when just listening to it launches you into a stream of energy that syncs so well with all of our other artists on this line up, too.

Gigamesh reminds me of some other artists in terms of his mindset in his music, like our friends Paper Diamond and Griz. His music conveys the intrigue he has for live, and the capacity with which he wants to give back through his music. Not coincidentally again, all three of the aforementioned artists either went to school for music or have been studying it in someway throughout the majority of their lives.

It is because of this that there is a certain level of emotion which can be heard in Masurka’s music. While his talent has inspired many to approach him in hopes that he will remix their songs, he also picks and chooses his own, feeling out what he can implement to enhance the good feeling it already gives him.

He also draws from other art forms, too, which is always cool to see a musician talk about readily. For example, his name is from a sci-fi novel – not something you usually expect from a boogie-down DJ, but let’s run with it. This guy doesn’t seem to fit any particular mold (did I mention he’s 6’4?) and I think he likes to keep it that way.

Whether it be conscious or subconscious, it’s no coincidence. The influx of blogs and articles being written around the internet on this guy make it easy to see that Gigamesh should be explored more often, and what better way to usher you into an awesome new year of music than ending it with an engima such as him?

Gigamesh will perform in the IglooTent on Dec. 31 at the SnowGlobe Music Festival in South Lake Tahoe. He will then take the stage for the after party at the Showroom inside the Montbleu Casino and Resort. 21+ after party, doors at 11 p.m. Tickets for the late night are $30adv/$35door through www.snowglobemusicfestival.com or at the Montbleu Box Office.

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Far from dead

December 27, 2013
zeds dead
Photo credit to Maria Jose Govea/Zeds Dead Facebook

We are all so interconnected through the internet today, that we don’t realize how much we have made it a necessary function of our life. It’s second nature to believe that it holds the answer to everything, and namely, information on a person, place or thing.

Take musicians, for example. I rely a great deal on the internet in order to do my job. Not only is it my main means of communication for connecting with artists’ publicists and managers, but it’s conducive to use for research on past articles and biographies written on artists. That being said, it’s rare to encounter an artist or artists who don’t possess a website.

So that would be Zeds Dead — websiteless. Sure, they have a Facebook and a Soundcloud and other things of the like, but there is no central place of hard information regulated by them and their team. This makes research more difficult, yet also sends a message of mystery. You can listen to part of that message live in person on Dec. 30 when Zed’s Dead performs at the official after party for SnowGlobe, brought to you by your friends at Fresh Bakin’.

The Reno/Tahoe area is no stranger to Zeds Dead, and neither is the electronic music scene, for that matter. In an age of self-taught musicians who are taking action more and more off of making their dreams a reality, Zeds Dead has stuck out.

They are an amalgamate of sound – no doubt thanks in part to their label, Mad Decent, which houses other artists such as Baauer, Clockwork and Flosstradamus. With such a wide variety of musicians under one label, you would expect their artists to embody the same variety within their own work, and that is precisely what Zeds Dead is capable of.

Like all good music, you have to work for it. Many people do not listen to various types of music on a regular basis, but Zeds Dead finds a way to appeal the masses by incorporating the ever-popular electro house with dubstep, hip hop and glitch. The glitch is more notable than many artists, with hard hitting breakbeats that mold into the faster paced electro house we know and love. These two Canadians aren’t afraid to keep you guessing by speeding it up and then slowing back down, and that’s part of the mystery.

Not giving way to a lot of their music has some advantages like this. For one, it forces your opinion on the group to be based not entirely off of what their label says about them, but rather what you are actually hearing. You could sit and listen to them at home on Soundcloud, but when you can’t find any description to match what is happening in your ear drums, you’ll find yourself to be a lot more inclined to experience it in person.

Zeds Dead will perform at the Main Stage on Dec. 30 at the SnowGlobe Music Festival in South Lake Tahoe. He will then take the stage for the after party at The Showroom inside the Montbleu Casino and Resort. 21+ after party, doors at 11 p.m. Tickets for the late night are $25adv/$30door through www.snowglobemusicfestival.com or at the Montbleu Box Office.

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Dirtybird’s Claude VonStroke at SnowGlobe

December 27, 2013

claude vonstroke

To begin with, the name ‘Barclay Crenshaw’ is probably the dopest name I have ever heard in my life.

It’s even better when you are reminded that it’s associated with bay area music legend Claude VonStroke. And let’s take it on home with the fact that SnowGlobe and Fresh Bakin’ are proud to present Claude VonStroke on Dec. 30 at the official SnowGlobe after party at Montbleu.

Just like his fellow Dirtybird brother Justin Martin, VonStroke’s shows are a sure thing for music that just doesn’t quit. He is one third of the group that helped bring household names of house music to the San Francisco scene, and because of that, you can be sure that his sets will send you into a groove that takes over you entirely.

There are two key, really cool things about Crenshaw’s music. First and foremost – damn, does it possess the ability to make you want to dance. There’s a kind of staggered syncopation that builds with his dancier stuff, reminiscent almost of what hip-hop likes to do. Whatever it is, it keeps your attention, because it keeps moving and progressing, learning from itself and reasoning with the way music is supposed to change.

Many would say he is underground, including his label. However, the last few years has shown serious captivation with dance music the likes of VonStroke’s. What began as something regarded mostly as exclusive to the raves of the 90s has now grown into the mainstream music system, and with wide open arms.

And the reason it has done so with DJs like Crenshaw is because of the second reason his music is so funky, which is that it’s also easy to listen to. I find myself getting stuck for hours on his music while I write, while I clean, while I drive — while I do anything. There exists moments that it makes you pay attention to the dance aspect of it, but also contains a sincere and chill vibe to it.

No matter your preferences, Claude VonStroke can find a way to move you. Whether it be more through the feet or through the soul is entirely up to you, depending on how you choose to listen to his music. With these Dirtybird guys, it seems that’s exactly the way they like to keep it.

Claude VonStroke will perform in the SierraTent on Dec. 30 at the SnowGlobe Music Festival in South Lake Tahoe. He will then take the stage for the after party at Blu inside the Montbleu Casino and Resort. 21+ after party, doors at 11 p.m. Tickets for the late night are $15adv/$20door through www.snowglobemusicfestival.com or at the Montbleu Box Office

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A Color Map of a Musical Genius

November 22, 2013

This would have been a magnum opus for me — a Mona Lisa of music review. In my attempt to bring back the long form, music journalism that made its mark through Rolling Stone during the 1970s via Cameron Crowe, I wanted nothing more than to spend a few hours with Smith as not only a writer, but also a true fan with some burning questions. I’m not going to lie; I’m pretty bummed that I couldn’t get an interview with Derek Vincent Smith.

Smith IS Pretty Lights. And I don’t even care to take the time to remember the number of times he has been to Reno over the last few years, although I’m pretty sure this is three or four. Returning the night before Thanksgiving on the 27th at the Grand Sierra Resort Summit Pavilion, there’s not a doubt in my mind that Reno will turn out for this show. Throw in The Grouch and Eligh with ODESZA? Did you have plans that night other than this? Cancel them.

Smith’s music runs deeper than most for me, especially at this venue. The first time I saw him was at this same venue, two years ago. Burning Man had ended two days prior, and it seemed the whole population of Black Rock City picked up and moved to the Pretty Lights show. Same burner clothes, props, and no shower. It was so packed, in fact, that I didn’t get a single drink the whole show for fear of losing the awesome spot I had acquired. I’ve seen scores of shows in this town – but never one that turned out an audience of that magnitude, with that energy.

This is the power that Smith has.

He mobilizes the masses through sound. I would argue to say that it all started with his song “Finally Moving,” one of many songs that even alludes to the idea of fluidity and motion. His following has gained as much momentum as the music itself over the years, reminding us through every aspect that he is an artist that knows movement and change are necessary to progress.

And so Smith has progressed, and in an awe-inspiring way. Heavily influenced from Hip-Hop, his earlier albums and EPs such as “Making Up a Changing Mind,” and “Filling Up the City Skies” showcase his deep love for break beats, which he believes is the very core of much of his music — the stuff that isn’t cluttered, as he puts it.

It’s so damn apparent in everything you hear, too. Regardless of if he chooses to sample something that might not sound like it fits together at first, Smith has a mad scientist type of way of taking the bits and pieces of music that he loves, regardless of genre, and putting them into something bigger than what they were to begin with.

This idea of raw creation is the heart of what inspired him to dedicate more than two years of his life to making his newest full-length LP “A Color Map of the Sun.”
“I wanted to make an album that would showcase countless genres and time periods, but would have a modern style of production to it,” Smith says in the documentary about the album.

Some have called it the first album he made completely free of samples, and he has rejected that, saying it’s not that he didn’t use samples; it’s just that he also happened to be the one to create him.

No lie, when this dual-album dropped, I set aside an entire two hours to listen to it one go. I made sure I could get through it undisturbed, because — knowing Smith — I anticipated a concept album, one that urges you to listen to every second sequentially.

This man went through some shit to make this stunningly one-of-a-kind album. He traveled to Brooklyn to record breaks from live musicians, New Orleans to find the soul he was lacking in the melodies, and back home to Denver to fashion the pieces together into something as striking as the sun itself.

He didn’t use sheet music. He didn’t use a digital synthesizer. He found out-of-touch and, what many might say, out-of-place instruments to help create what he heard in his head: mandolins, trumpet violins, toy pianos, music boxes, and harmoniums, to name a few.

I had to research some of these instruments to double and triple check that they were real. A trumpet violin? Who the hell uses that, and who invented it? Smith uses it, and integrates the most unexpected sounds into a symposium of musical genius.

The end product, as he describes it, is what you should be looking for in the dusty crates at the back of the record store. Something that makes you feel deeply, a longing for an experience, and a never-ending love for music of all genres and time periods. It’s never the same, but it stitches itself together and tells a story of the heart and soul that goes into raw creation at its finest. It’s something the music world has been lacking since the likes of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. And that is a high compliment.

It’s real. It’s surprising and breathtaking and unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. That is the trajectory of Smith’s music, and his lives shows are something to not be missed. Because for that time period, and that moment of the music, it’s all yours…whatever you want to make of it. It’s personal interaction and interpretation.

It’s finally moving.

Pretty Lights will play on Nov. 27 at the Grand Sierra Resort featuring Eligh and The Grouch and ODESZA. Tickets are $34 in advance and can be purchased at www.www.staging.freshbakin.flywheelsites.com. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. All ages are welcome.

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Gramatik: blurring music lines across the globe

November 8, 2013

By Megan Ortiz

And the music world keeps on surprising me.

Gramatik is from Slovenia? This is news to me.

I’ve only ever met one person from Slovenia in my entire life, and have never really heard much in the way of other people or things that have associations with the country.

I suddenly want to go there after learning of Denis Jasarevic’s heritage. But perhaps I will wait until after he performs on Sunday, November 10 in Reno at The Knitting Factory, making an official stop on his Age of Reason Tour. Combined with Herobust and Exmag, Gramatik will be sure to introduce his unique sound to the modern day scene.

“I’m always going to make hip hop beats and I’m always going to make tech house stuff when I feel like it,” he recently said in an interview with djz.com. “I’m never going to do anything that I don’t want to do at that moment.”

At any given moment, that could be a lot of things. Starting out as an emcee, the 30-year-old music maker is known for blurring the lines of genres in the music world, much like many of his comrades such as GRiZ, with whom he combined forces with to create Grizmatik. However, unlike many artists in the business today, Jasarevic is not an instrumentalist.

Don’t let that scare you off. If anything, it should draw you in further. Stating that he has always wanted to be a part of a band, he knew that he had to get involved with music in one way or another, despite him not possessing the know how of a musical instrument.

What is produced from his electronic knowledge combined with a band is nothing short of innovative. Listening to tracks like “Fly Wit Me” you almost forget that you’re listening to a DJ — and isn’t that how music should be? It’s not necessarily the way in which it’s created, but rather that it exists on a level to inspire creativity in others.

I think it works in the reverse order, as well. Anyone who follows this blog is well aware of my obsession with Soundcloud (really one of the best musical tools on the internet), and something that really pleases me about Gramatik’s page is the amount of music he reposts from other artists. It showcases a perpetual creativity, something that Jasarevic is known for as he fiercely and intensely works to make his music, and others’, the best it can be.

It’s becoming increasingly more apparent, the disintegration of musical boundary. What’s creation with walls? Gramatik reminds us of that, taking you through a journey of emotion and feeling with his music that is difficult to achieve. The sheer range on his Street Bangerz 4 EP is remarkable — jumping from hip-hop influenced beats, to downright soulful  melodies, and all the things that make you can’t sit still in between and throughout.

If this is what Slovenia has to offer, I’ll be selling a kidney to raise funds for the first flight out.

Gramatik will play Sunday, November 10 at The Knitting Factory in Reno with special guests Herobust and Exmag. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. All ages. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.  Visit  http://freshbakin.inticketing.com

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GRiZ on social standards, improving his craft, and mac ‘n cheese and ravioli

October 16, 2013

 

GRiZ takes his Rebel Era Tour with Two Fresh and Anvil Smith to the Tahoe Biltmore on Wednesday, Oct. 16. Doors are at 9 p.m., show at 9:30.

Griz Rebel Era

Tuesday is my busiest day of the week.

I rarely get a chance to sit down, let alone have a phone conversation. I guess it just depends on the person.

“I had a Superman morning today,” Grant Kwiecinski excitedly said over the phone. “My album is dropping today! And I ate an apple, drank some coffee, smoked a cigarette, and I really want to go skateboarding, but I don’t think I’ll have time.”

You might not recognize the real name of the 23-year-old Detroit native, but rather better know him as GRiZ. And he’s making his return to Tahoe area Wednesday night at the Tahoe Biltmore on his Rebel Era tour, the album which he dropped just minutes after I hung up the phone with him.

It’s also rare for me to talk to an artist on the phone. It’s the nature of the industry, Kwiecinski says, that everyone is so busy all the time.

It speaks volumes of what this artists connection to his fans means that he took time out of his day to do this while he was touring and releasing an album.

Different from his last album, “Mad Liberation,” “Rebel Era” is the first record to drop on Liberation Records. It has been made on the road. focusing more on beats around 100 bpm and feeding off of a raw, live energy that he gets from his crowds while creating it, being fortunate enough to have them give honest feedback first. Where it lacks in extensive amounts of time writing and rewriting in a studio, it prevails in its honest spirit. For Kwiecinski, “Rebel Era” is conscious movement that is happening across the world — an effort in connectivity, and recognizing that power in numbers makes even the smallest voice heard.

“Rebel Era was created in a time where people are rejecting the social standards,” Kwicinski said. “I was thinking about that and that’s how it came out sonically. It’s not an ‘I’ thing, it’s a ‘we’ thing. It’s not just ‘me,’ it’s ‘us.'”

And while he says this, I can hear the truth and passion in his voice on the other end of the line, while he prepared for the night’s show in Chico. He means it when he says this, and he clearly believes in spreading his knowledge through his music to the world.

“If I wasn’t doing this, I would be teaching,” he said. He then laughs, “And I would probably be teaching music.”

As a master saxophonist, GRiZ exists in a music world where creating the newest, freshest thing is constantly in demand. But what does it mean to be new, and how do you get there? As the bubble that is electronic music continues to trend itself and maintain an ever growing culture, he’s not so much concerned with where he sees it headed, but rather what the intention is behind the music.

“You know, sometimes you want mac ‘n cheese, sometimes you want raviolis,” he says of change. “You can’t do the same thing forever. All these genres, they’re just regurgitated. I just try to do more.”

The self-manifesting singularity of this movement, this culture, is really futile to examine, and nowhere is that exemplified more than in GRiZ’s music and personality. It’s not so much about where the music industry, particularly this one is headed, but rather that we learn a deeper meaning from it; a sense of cooperation that, sometimes, I believe can only be had through the music people share together.

“My intention is to create something honest and true to myself,” he said. “To have some kind of social awareness, and make people think twice, or three, four, or five times.”