In a world where society has a stigma towards mental health, it is a beautiful thing to see advocation for it. Deletto does just that. He makes it his goal to spread awareness and discussion, and his newest music video/short film “All We Are” (warning: mild self-harm triggers) takes you into the very real world of those dealing with mental health issues. He explores how we cope and how the signs are all there if you look closely enough. With a message as strong as this – one that I also fully endorse and live by in my own life – let’s take a page out of Deletto’s book and open the discussion.
How did you come up with the visual concepts for your video “All We Are”?
Deletto: This was something that I was toying around with for a while. I always knew to hit the mental health aspect of it, and I wanted it to be as real as possible. It was after so many ideas, trying to come up with something that was MY story. I felt if I was gonna do this, I should do this true to myself so that other people could get the honesty of where I’m trying to come from. This isn’t something that I just saw or read online, it’s something I’ve been directly affected with. Anytime I make music or listen to it, I always visualize what I’m hearing. With this one, the ambiance and how I put the song together, it played on that emotion for me. So, I wanted to explore and touch upon that emotion of helplessness and put that to a music video where people can really fully relate to it.
Did you draw inspiration for your video through photos or videos?
Deletto: I listen to a lot of soundtrack music. Every time I hear or do something now, I play a scene out in my mind with whatever it is I’m doing. I like to write…obviously. As far as putting the pieces together, I pull inspiration from all the films I see. I’m a HUGE film nerd, advocate, love it. Anytime I watch a movie or music video, I’ve started to pick up on the way they edit and feel the emotion it tries to draw out of you, and I try to put that into what I’m doing. Just so we’re clear, I’ve never really done any directing or editing before my own music videos. It’s all instinct; it’s a feeling.
I’ve worked on major motion pictures, I’ve acted, and I’ve accidentally been in the film industry since I was 18. And I haven’t tried. I just keep showing back up, so I’ve used everything I piled up over the years to do it myself for my videos. I edited, casted, directed, wrote, and produced it. It is so independent – you can run down the list of things, and let me tell you, the word stress. It is so stressful because you’re taking on almost everybody’s role. For this particular music video, I had a three-person crew: myself, the director of photography who is the king, and the assistant camera operator. I got some help from my girlfriend who did the makeup/production assistant, and my sister did the special effects makeup.
Was the video shot locally?
Deletto: A fact that most people, even friends, don’t catch is on the performance shots – there’s very few. There’s a projected image playing behind me, and if you look closely, that’s me as a child in the same spot that we filmed the spot where the kids were skating. I really wanted to make that connection, for me, as real as possible. I coached the kids through each scene where I was pulling from my own memories.
How did you go about casting the actors for your music video?
Deletto: I would only hire actors moving forward because it is so difficult when using friends. My previous video, “Where the Wild Sleep,” was shot in freezing cold weather in an alleyway where I had friends that had to stay out in the cold for six hours. It’s so difficult, and the actors know what they’re getting themselves into, whereas my friends are like, “Hey man, you said you were gonna feed me, and it’s really cold out. What’s going on?”
The lead actor for “All We Are,” was one of the actors from my first music video, “Say Anything.” I thought he did such an excellent job, and I knew he had what I needed out of the lead character. There had to be a lot of emotions – he had to be able to play relaxed and cool while dealing with so much inside and hold that in, before eventually exploding and letting it all out. I needed to make sure I casted somebody that had a big range of talent.
And from there, using backstage.com, looking through pages and pages of people trying to find the right range of child actors. When you’re dealing with child actors, it’s a little difficult because they want to fool around, and they don’t really know the industry. In order to have this video play out as a narrative, I made sure they had to have a reel, talk about the role together, audition a little bit. Honestly, without those actors, I would not have a music video. I tell everybody that it is because of them that when you are watching that video, the emotion they pulled out was phenomenal. I would look at my DP like, “Did this just happen?” One of the scenes, I almost cried. It was so intense. We were all there sitting by the monitor watching it unfold and after the scene ended, there were a few seconds of silence, and then we all exploded like, “What did we just see?”
Besides the underlying messages you convey in your video, the music is fantastic as well. When did you start writing and playing music?
Deletto: I started when I was 13, when my dad randomly got me a guitar for Christmas. I asked him why he got me a guitar recently, and it was around that time I was listening to music, hearing it in a different way. I found Nirvana and I was like, “What is this?” You know when you’re 10 and you listen to pop. My dad used to listen to Springsteen, and I’m like, “That’s old man music!” Then somebody showed me Nirvana, and I remembered hearing some [of their music] as a kid, but not the way I started to listen to them when I got to the age where I was finally ready to hear. Not only how the music was but what he was saying and how he was saying it. From there, my dad got me a guitar, and I played my first chord. It was one of those things people say, “I did this, picked up this, and right away, I knew what I wanted to do!” That’s true. It’s so weird.
I’ll never forget – I was sitting on the edge of my bed, and my dad said, “Put your finger here, here, and here. Now strum.” It was terrible – sounded awful. But I was blown away, and so from that moment, I knew I really wanted to invest my time in this. So, you start playing, then you play with friends who got instruments, then you play in bands, but I was too all over the place – so much ADD which you’ll find soon from this interview that I go all over the place. I’ve always wanted to write music. I wrote poetry and stories, but no matter what, I couldn’t write a song. I just couldn’t do it.
It wasn’t until I got into college when I got a random phone call from one of my friends saying, “Hey, do you want to work with a hip hop artist?” I listened to grunge, I looked like I live in a dumpster, nobody showed me hip hop at all. “Alright, fine I’ll try.” Because I love film scoring so much and started to get into electronic music in college, I thought, “Maybe I can mesh this.” Then it was years of working with this hip hop artist. We started to work with artists like Machine Gun Kelly, Meek Mill, and the A$AP crew. One of my songs that I produced got on Hot97 late night with Peter Rosenberg.
Being able to do that, my songwriting all of a sudden began to take form. I was able to really take a step back. From the age of 13 to 29 is when I was able to write my first song. It took me that long to be able to piece everything together. It was a long journey, but I’ve always wanted to do it since I was 13 years old. Back then, I thought I had to write the next huge hit, and that’s what was slowing me down. I would always get tripped up comparing myself to people who wrote songs when they were younger and wondered if there was something wrong with me. I would always get in my own head.
How difficult is it to be a one-man band? How do you manage the songwriting of multiple instruments?
Deletto: HOW DO I MANAGE IT? I’ll tell you what – in bands, I would look to the person playing an instrument and be like, “Ehh that’s not good, I don’t wanna do that.” But now! I’m in this dungeon by myself. I would literally write something – I’d be in a chair, look to my left, look to my right, spin in a circle in my chair, and go, “Welp, I’m the only one here so I guess this is it.” It was [through] so many hours of going insane by myself that I was able to construct some sort of sound. I have me to blame if it’s successful. I have me to blame if it’s not.
Sounds like The Shining.
Deletto: YES. Absolutely – perfect. That’s exactly what it was. I don’t have the shining. I wish I had the shining. It would be easier but no, I am Jack Torrance.
I know mental health is a strong, if not your most important message you want to convey. Do you find your energetic, big personality helps in getting your message across to those you are trying to reach? Does it make it easier to talk to you and for people to open up to you?
Deletto: That is a good question! It’s interesting because my music is so serious. Then there’s me offstage where I’m this light, goofy kid. I think it’s that ability to understand the full spectrum of, “I know how to have fun, we’re gonna have fun together, you can trust me, but when we need to get serious, you know I’m here for you.” I’m all about that. The full spectrum. You’re not just gonna get one emotion or one side from me. I’m gonna be able to have fun and joke around, and I think at the end of the day, being able to have fun with that person, you can be able to open up just a little bit more. That can really help out because you have that trust built.
I’ve been so fortunate that I’ve had a lot of friends that have taken me under their wing. From that, it’s just a sense of appreciation that no matter what I do, whenever I do anything, I have that in the back of my mind. If you need to call someone because you need some support, I’m gonna be that guy. I strive to be that person. I work to be that person. What I talk to a lot of people about is, “Do you have that person?” Right now, whether it’s family or friends, you have that phone call that you could make if you’re in trouble. We can talk through it or talk to people about it. It brings an appreciation for that person, where you want to be like that too, and there’s that respect for each other. That is a big word for me.
How did you become so open about talking about mental health?
Deletto: I was actually very shy about it. I was creating this false persona for other people. It was such a dark time growing up; I had a lot just weighing on me, and I’ll never forget the moment someone turned around to me in Spanish class when I was a senior in high school and she goes, “Wow, you must literally have nothing wrong in your life. You are always so happy.” I looked at her and smiled as big as I could and I said, “Absolutely, you’re right. I got nothing to worry about.” And that was a LIE. I think that was so dangerous, and I was building up so much.
It would have been awesome for me to say, “You know what? I’m going through so much that I’m able to understand where I can have my happy moments, and where I can have my happy moments, I’m gonna be the happiest. And where I’m not gonna have my happy moments, if I need to stay in that struggle by myself and don’t have help, I have to know how to be comfortable enough to push through.” Putting up that fight for so long, eventually you’re going to end up in a lot of trouble or you have to tear down that wall. And so, I finally had to tear down that wall. After a while, I was okay with it.
Right now, I live with my grandmother and she has dementia. It can get really difficult, and it doesn’t weigh on me as much as it should, but I think that’s because I go back to, “Well, at least it’s not this!” It’s such a different type of chaos, where it’s not something that she is doing on purpose. Being able to see different levels of chaos prepares you for what’s to come.
I love that you go to schools to talk to the youth about mental health. Tell me about it – is it challenging to talk to younger kids?
Deletto: That’s something I am currently in the middle of. I visited my first school to set the meeting. Schools are a lot more delicate, and I get that. I understand the situation and do not want to mess with that – I will do it exactly how they want. However, I’m coming in from a different perspective. I’m not a trained professional, and I want to let everybody know that I’m not a trained professional. I am somebody that has gone through certain experiences that I could talk about. With that in mind, I want to be able to connect with the students on a different level than a medical professional. It’s like, “Hey, I went through some pretty messed up stuff. I found music and I found friends and I found professional help through therapy.” And I want to let everybody know that that stuff is amazing. Everybody needs some of that whether they think they are going through something or not. Of course I want to be able to help someone that is really going through it, but I also want to let those that aren’t check in with someone else every now and again. You’re going to build a foundation, and by doing that, you might figure out that they’re actually in need. It’s a push and pull. I want to help create that overall foundation, and if someone feels they need to take the next level for professional help, that’s where I want to get them to.
What age group are you speaking to?
Deletto: I’m going to high schools because emotionally, they’re more open to the content. This music video is pretty heavy with certain aspects. I want to challenge them, because that’s them – it’s literally their age group. I want to see what they see because I know how I see it. We have a different set of eyes, and we’re representing a whole different idea with this. You guys are still in that formation period, and where is your formation? There are certain aspects that I think they’re going to respect. The whole point is to be heard. I want to know what they think. So, that’s what is really important to me – that it’s gonna uncover where they are. It will also give me more of an understanding where the youth is with this stuff.
Do you think social media helps or harms people?
Deletto: Right now, we are in a position where it’s negatively affecting. I think it’s such a tight rope that we walk on. You can see something like my music video ,and you kind of know what you’re getting yourself into. But if I put another video out, where it’s just me slapping my bare belly with a spoon full of sauce, which one are you going to click on? Which one are you clicking on?
The one with instant gratification.
Deletto: And that’s it, and that’s exactly what it is – instant gratification. With social media right now, to be able to open yourself up like that – that’s so difficult. The thing is, the reason why it’s difficult is because the road we continuously walk down with it: double tap, move on, double tap, move on. That’s it. And it’s got to be something quick. You see someone falling over, doing something crazy, or someone with an insane amount of talent doing something nuts where you’re going to be like, “That’s cool” right away where you can share it.
Something that I think is really amazing that they’re doing is hiding the likes. Even if it affected me, even if it affected my money, I wouldn’t mind because that means somebody else is going to be happier because of this emotionally, mentally. That’s the direction we need to be pushing. What level of a human being are you at? How much of your comfort are you going to sacrifice for somebody else? I think within this world that I’m kind of touching upon, I’m about to find out. I think it has come to a point where it has to be extreme in order for us to do anything about it. That is prominent in almost anything that we’re doing, anything that we hear, anything news-based, anything we’re going to like, to follow. It’s gotta be extreme.
I think the strive is there. People are making an effort. You heard growing up, “Boys don’t cry.”
Deletto: Oh, I cry. Oh, I definitely cry. I go through weird little fits where every now and again I would ask – I don’t know why I do this – I’ll just ask people, “When’s the last time you cried?” But I’m not doing it in a malicious way or trying to be funny; I’m just genuinely interested. Then I try to think about the last time I cried. Like last time I…oh, boy, film. Don’t ever watch this movie. This will destroy you. This is the movie where my sister’s boyfriend sprained his ankle.
So, this made you cry, yet made another sprain their ankle?!
Deletto: Yes, the movie is called Tigers Are Not Afraid. I thought it was going to be a straight-up horror movie because it has horror elements, but oh my god, it ripped my heart out. He watched it at my place and when he was leaving, he was so distraught and caught up watching his phone, he missed a step and was on crutches for the next two weeks. I challenge you to watch that and not cry. If you watch that and not cry, you don’t have a soul. I guess you can say I’m in touch with my emotions. Nowadays, I find that more people are. I think what I’m doing is going to be a little bit easier because of the time that we’re in.
Suppressing doesn’t work anymore.
Deletto: No, and not to get on a crazy subject, but look at all the school shootings that continuously happen over and over and over. Not to go down that dark road, but we have to go down those dark roads. Because people don’t want to! They don’t want to hear it because it didn’t happen to them. Eventually, it catches up to everybody, and that’s where we need to come together because the ripple effect is happening. It happens in every state until one day it is at your front door, and you don’t need that. We can figure out a way to try to talk to people. And with these school shootings, mental health is huge, and we’re still having the wrong conversations about it.
The blame is put somewhere else.
Deletto: Exactly and the media does not help, because it’s so focused on the next negative thing. All that is being shown is a sickness – which is getting you interested – but never the cure. You’re never shown the cure. So, you have this sickness with no cure, and you want to know what else you can get sick from. Well, can we pause for a second and figure out what’s happening in this area first?
We have a lot of resources with mental health specifically, but it’s buried between everything else. We can start working a little bit harder in order to make the difference. We need to learn to stop being so selfish. I’ve got the microphone and stage, and that’s the whole point for me. It has been since I was a kid. There’s a platform. What are you doing with it? I’m going to have fun with it, be my crazy self and have people question why I did what I just did, but I want them to also know the message and meaning behind my music. I want them to be able to feed off that and take a step back to look at themselves that way. It’s going to take a lot of energy where I’m going to have to wear myself thin so somebody else feels a little bit more protected. I want to be able to instill that mentality to put a little bit of that work into somebody else. This way, they don’t get defeated by trying to do it all by himself. When it’s all said and done, it’s going to come back to something like this, so what are we going to do about it?
Deletto is an upcoming and coming rock artist out of Northern New Jersey. His sound is a unique blend of driving rock riffs, heavy thematic drums, and ethereal vocal samples on top of a cinematic song structure, with songwriting heavily inspired by his own personal struggles and experiences. Check out more of Deletto:
Published interview on Stars & Scars Mag.
Pride weekend and the city comes alive! In addition to that, summer is in full swing in New York City and everyone was outside this beautiful Saturday night. Thanks to some rainfall earlier in the day, the weather cooled down drastically to give us a break from that nasty humidity we are ever so blessed to endure. Mercury Lounge is a quaint little bar with a stage area in back. Phony Ppl played sold-out shows this weekend and the place was packed wall to wall. People were dancing, jiving, standing on chairs, benches – you name it. The drummer of Phony Ppl was in some type of plastic cage-like setup.
The entire group was energetic, lively, and seem like genuinely sweet people. You couldn’t help but want to be their friend after watching them perform. Their stage presence drew the crowd in, with everyone tuned in to each other and moving as one being. It was beautiful to watch from above, as I was standing on a bench. I could see people of all ages and races dancing. After the show, a woman in the bathroom, probably in her 50s or 60s said to me, “I’m old, but I was dancing the whole time! Can you believe I was in that crowd? My first time seeing them, how fun!”
Phony Ppl is a Brooklyn based quintet, founded in 2010. Current members are Elbee Thrie on vocals, Elijah Rawk on lead guitar, Matt “Maffyuu” Byas on drums, Aja Grant playing the keys, and Bari Bass on, well, bass. Their mantra is: a mix of people, time, and sound that’s been nurtured over generations in Brooklyn. This perfectly describes their eclectic genre-defying sophomore album, mō’zā-ik, which released last year. Phony Ppl does their own songwriting, arrangement, mixing, and production. Do not let this unique group of individuals go unseen, you must see them live. You can catch them playing Central Park’s Summerstage series in August! For more tour dates, visit here.
What better way to spend a muggy summer night than to attend an inspiring show at an exclusive venue? I’m talking about Saro, a queer LA-based electronic artist with the voice of an angel. He played a stripped down, raw performance at the intimate members club that is Ludlow House. Unmarked, one could easily pass by the building thinking it was an apartment or hotel even. There was a gentleman speaking into the intercom stating his business, and I followed him in. Once inside, I made my way up to the third floor, where there is a gorgeous fully stocked bar. Of course, I was drawn to get a drink and opted for one of my go-to’s: a Moscow mule. No exaggeration, this was by far the best cocktail I ever had. It was perfectly executed, and I am always a fan of the garnishes. Once I had my drink in hand to help cool down my sweating, I made my way to the floor.
There was an artist performing on the stage, which was set close to the floor. The stage was set up to look like the inside of an artist’s apartment, with pictures and paintings hung up on the wallpapered walls. Natti Vogel was performing when I arrived – a giant ball of energy and rawness. He was wearing what appeared to be boxer briefs, a tie-dye shirt, and opted to be shoeless, which I absolutely loved. I had the chance to chat with him briefly after his set while Saro’s performance was being set up, and he was such a warm, inviting individual who took his time to take notice of me. He was amused and skeptical when I told him I’d remember his name without writing it down somewhere. But here we are, and I distinctly remember him spelling his name out for me, “N-A-T-T-I”. Great memory on the kid.
The lights dimmed, and visuals were put on stage. There was a guitarist in the background beginning to play, and out came Saro, accompanied by a woman and a man, both at his side. In sync, they dropped their heads and arms, to be filled with life and energy once the song begins. Saro has a light, angelic voice and completely floored me at how effortless he sounded. The man and woman started dancing contemporary style to his lyrics, and boy was that powerful. They interacted with each other and Saro, fully encompassing the space. I was right in the front where all the action was, though at times I was a little afraid I was going to get kicked in the head. All in all, it was a captivating performance. Between the dancers killing it emotionally, passionately, and with the fluidity of their movements, to Saro slowing it down to acoustic, emotional versions of his songs like “Rampart.” In celebration of his new EP Die Alone, which was released earlier this month, sultry Saro is an artist I highly recommend you watch live.
Friday, May 10 at Warsaw was a sold-out show. The weather was warm and on this night, the rain stayed away in our favor. Headlining was The Drums, an indie pop band from Brooklyn! The show started at 9, opening with Tanukichan, an indie band from California. I had arrived just in time to when The Drums started performing due to our ever so reliable public transportation. Warsaw is a fairly smaller venue, being one floor and quite flat. Since my friend and I didn’t arrive early, we managed to squeeze ourselves into the side so we could see the stage through the heads of tall people. I was a bit disappointed in how this venue was constructed because if you weren’t in the front, there would be no way to see the acts on stage if anyone was taller than you in the slightest. We got lucky in the spot we found, only to have passersby trying to get to the bar and food area, which I didn’t mind at all.
The crowd took me by surprise – there were a plethora of older men, older than I have seen at a show especially with a newer band like The Drums. (Formed in 2008) I love seeing bands I love get loved by everyone. However, this show was an all-ages show, and that was clear. Once I got blocked by a tall person who wasn’t moving, I decided to go a little further into the crowd, only to be surrounded by cringe teenage girls and couples. They were all over the place and very sloppy which is totally fine until you start stepping on people around you and spilling your drinks everywhere. Then it gets infuriating the lack of awareness to personal space. The show was sold out, but it wasn’t smashed to the brim. There was breathing room and room to dance around so there was no reason for being that obnoxious.
The Drums played a lot of their newer songs off the Brutalism album. As singer/songwriter Jonny Pierce told the crowd, “My past albums have been sad, so I decided to make this one happy! Enough of the sad.” He played songs off all his past albums as well, which I prefer to the newer. The sound system in this venue didn’t travel well, only if you were close to the stage. The sound would have loud humming at points when Jonny sang because the levels were too high. That didn’t phase Jonny, because he is a true artist and musician. He is so quirky on stage with his spooky yet wavy moves. The Drums played for over an hour and did an encore. This was my second time seeing the band, the first being at Elsewhere, where my experience was much better. That being said, I would rate this show 6/10 mostly because of the venue and crowd. I look forward to seeing The Drums again because they are just that good and I highly recommend checking their music out. Jonny is a talented musician and so unique, he is an inspiration.
Published at WMSC Radio.
Mad Liberation is a 3 day, 2 night, camping, music & arts festival. Set deep in the vast pine barrens of South Jersey, it is a highly anticipated platform for artists from all over the globe who defy limitations, definition, and identity itself to realize their full potential in live performance for a captivated audience. I interviewed festival founder John Mould to find out more about this exciting event!
How long have you been doing this festival?
John Mould: This will be the 4th annual installation of the event!
What experience in event/festival planning have you had prior to this, if any?
John: I worked putting music live on air at William Paterson University’s radio station for a few months before we started the festival. People naturally started hanging out and they became full-blown shows. Besides that I have no experience, just jumped right into producing the fest.
What are the must-haves when curating a festival?
John: When curating, you need to have a strong sense of what you want to do musically overall, then what artists are going to elevate this event and the festival prices for different tier artists. How to recognize an artist’s value and how to properly communicate with huge booking agencies that will burn you if you sound like you don’t know what you’re doing.
Why the Pine Barrens?
John: We started in Upstate NY in what we thought was the middle of nowhere. The police came more than once. We needed a place we could get rowdy late into the night, far away from any houses or people who might make noise-complaints. We wanted to do it in Jersey. The Pine Barrens called our name.
I love your message of a community built on love. Can you elaborate more and it’s importance?
John: We put a strong emphasis on community because we want this to be a place of intention. A place people come to embrace each other and get down to a whole lot of music they might not be used to. A respite from the alienation of everyday life. The community plays the biggest part in the overall atmosphere of the festival and we want to make sure everyone is coming out for the weekend with good intentions. This plays a huge role in harm reduction for us as well. Bystander intervention is everything: you see something you know isn’t right, do something about it! When our guests take care of each other, make sure everyone is having a good time, healthy, feeling okay; we all elevate together!
What can we expect to see on the festival grounds?
John: You can expect a ton of crazy-sounding music and wild people (characters really) having a great time, spreading a whole lot of love and getting down everywhere you look. Maybe a few “YERRR’s” too.
Can people get involved with sharing their art or music at this festival?
John: Anyone can get involved! We offer vendor slots for people interested in selling their art, we love to have people painting live, and we low-key appreciate unplanned pop-up performances if they are done with good taste and don’t interrupt any planned acts.
Who are you most excited about performing this year?
John: Eartheater, I have no idea how to describe her so I won’t try.
What should festival goers bring along with them in attendance?
John: Tent, pillows, blankets, sleeping bag, swimwear, flashlights, sunscreen, bug spray; everything you could possibly need for camping!
With so many festivals starting up soon going throughout the summer, what separates yours from the rest?
John: There isn’t really any camping festival I’ve seen doing anything like us, drawing the kind of crowd/community we have and curating the way we do. The only festival combining punk & jazz (and everything in between) the way we do is Afropunk in Brooklyn; taking nature and the campout experience into account and the fact that we run into the early hours of the morning: we’re still completely in our own league. I’m still looking for competition.
More at Stars & Scars mag
Calling All Captains is a five-piece pop punk band hailing from Saint Albert, Canada. Consisting of Luc Gauthier on vocals, guitarists Brad Bremner and Connor Dawkins, bassist Nick Malychuk, and drummer Tim Wilson. Since forming in 2014, the band has been working rigorously to put out EPs, touring, and their debut full length album. They have a reputation for high-energy live shows, and this one at The Kingsland in Brooklyn lived up to that rep.
Your debut EP “Nothing Grows Here” has been recently released (February 2019). What can you tell us about the album?
Luc: We can tell you that it’s out now on Spotify and Apple Music and available for your listening pleasure. But more specifically, this album means a lot to us. For me, Luc, this is the first album that I’m singing on fully. We put a lot into this record and without the help of our producers, this album wouldn’t have sounded exactly the way we wanted it. Connor and I put the work in to writing, and it also is his first time singing on this record as well.
What’s your favorite song off the EP?
Connor: That’s a really tough question. They all mean something different, but I think my favorite would have to be my favorite to play which is “Out of My Head”, which has fast riffs and is really jumpy.
Luc: My favorite is definitely “Fools Gold”. That was one that meant a lot to me. We got back from our two week run across Eastern Canada. I wrote that in one day and I was going through a lot of things and was really happy with how things sounded. I stole Connor’s riff – sorry mate – he wrote something real nice and I just took it and made it into a song.
Nick: “Chasing Ghosts”. It was the first thing we did together with the lineup change and proved we still got it. So it was the evolutionary process and kind of cementing that we’re not done yet.
Luc: We back baby!
How did you go about finding the artist or artwork for the LP cover?
Nick: So Kevin at Soft Surrogate and his wife does archive design, so we got in touch with them because they’ve worked with a ton of other Canadian artists. We wanted to keep as much of this album as we could in Canada because we are really proud of where we’re from. Although, for lack of a better pun, nothing does grow there. It is frozen nine months of the year, we’re very proud of it.
From the places you’ve toured so far, where was your favorite?
Nick: I’m gonna say Fullerton [California] because we got to hang out with our Equal Vision family and my girlfriend flew down and saw a couple shows. It was the gnarliest venue, dropping like a hundred bucks buying shirts and records inside the venue which was just incredible.
Luc: My favorite show was probably Odessa, Texas. It was so. Much. Fun. It was the best ever. It was the first time I’ve ever seen this: after the show everybody stayed at the venue. The soundman pumped on traditional Mexican tunes and the whole place was bumpin’. It was like a nightclub.
Nick: The venue was an abandoned retail store, too, it was cement walls, cement floor. It was gnarly.
Connor: I’m gonna say the shows we did in Florida were my favorite, and not only the shows, but I was looking for gators the whole time. I’m really into shit like that. Now here we are in Brooklyn, looking for rats.
Where are you excited to head next?
Nick: We got two weeks left and we are excited to get back home. We get home and immediately do our Western Canada tour. Our hometown crowd in the entire Western Canadian scene has been more than family to us than any of us could have ever expected. So to go back to them after this, and have the stories and memories I think is one of the coolest things we get to do.
Luc: We’ve never even played these songs for Canada yet.
Connor: I’m excited to go to Albany because we finally get to meet our manager, who we’ve known for a long time, but we’ve never actually met him. So I’m stoked about that. We’re gonna hang with some Equal Vision peeps, which is always fun. And the homies from Young Culture are coming out.
(Tim) What was it like getting rotator cuff tendonitis during tour? How did that affect the tour and the band?
Tim: Oh well, you know, it was a rough couple of weeks. The boys had to pick up literally all of the slack for me. For two weeks I was just a useless deadweight and they literally hulled around all my stuff – they wiped my ass! It sucked not being able to play, but I had a lot of positive support and the band really helped me out. Even the people back home and at the shows, people were really supportive. Luc ended up playing the drums and singing at the same time for two weeks.
Being from Saint Albert, Canada, what is the music scene like?
Connor: Edmonton, Canada is the best. Western Canada is awesome. We have some of the best shows of our lives just in the Western Canada scene. We haven’t done a ton out in the eastern and central parts of Canada, but when we do get some good crowds.
Luc: Hometown shows are the best, we have people flying off the stage. It’s actually dangerous.
Nick: We lost all three monitors in one song.
Luc: I had to listen for the stage volume. It was crazy.
Connor: We just have an ambulance outside now.
Nick: No, but we got very fortunate to be from such a loving and tight-knit community that goes from Edmonton to Vancouver to Calgary and everything in between. We’ve got people in every city willing to put us up and come out to these shows and sing along. We’ve made such a family between Western Canada it’s amazing.
Who are your musical idols?
Connor: We get asked this a lot and it’s weird because we are all over the place. I’m into all the old, classic rock stuff like Beatles, the Stones, Bob Dylan’s my boy.
Luc: I listen to weird shit, too. I listen to the heaviest music like Lotus Eater, Acacia Strain, but I also really mess with that trap stuff like Lil Pump. I love Lil Pump, he’s hilarious. But writing style, I’d have to say like Knuckle Puck, The Story So Far. I jam those dudes all the time.
Nick: I’m more or less the hardcore kid out of all of us. I appreciate the business mind as well as how Grayscale and State Champs write their music. For Grayscale to literally run their band as a clothing company that plays music to advertise is one of the smartest things you could ever do.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not doing music?
Connor: At home I worked at a furniture warehouse. I quit that to do this, but all I would do is move furniture and write music, go on tour, come back and move furniture and write music and go on tour.
Luc: Back home, I run my clothing company, Worthless streetwear. I’m also a traditional Métis dancer. Métis means half Native American and half French. It’s actually our own indigenous culture in Canada, there’s the Inuit, First Nations and the Métis. I’m part of the Métis and I’m very active within the community. I MC events and perform dancing all the time. I also quit my job to tour, and what I used to do was be an admin assistant/case worker for a company called Native Counseling Services of Alberta. We help with at-risk young adults aged 18-30 get back on their feet, try to get sober, basically making sure they have all the support that they need to move on to the next step of their life.
Nick: Well I got nothing that cool in my life, I play music, I’m a photographer and I’m a heavy beer connoisseur – there’s a brewery five minutes from my house that sponsors the band because we’re there so much.
Calling All Captains: You mean YOU’RE there so much!
Nick: But yeah, I’ve got a degree in graphic design, I’m dating a hairdresser who’s training to be a tattoo artist, so we’re creative all the time. We’ve got two hairless cats that I have to deal with, one just had surgery.
Connor: They lotion them and sunscreen them.
Nick: I love my cats, man!
Luc: They’re like little people.
Connor: ..All covered in lotion.
Nick: They get like super dry. We’re not human at all back home, everything is dry to begin with. And we found out that Edmonton is on par horizontally with Siberia. So we live where they exile people.
What’s your favorite home cooked meal?
Connor: Whatever’s cooked, man.
Luc: I would kill for some of my mom’s moose meat and mashed potatoes. We’re fortunate to know a lot of aboriginal hunters, so they go on hunting missions with the youth and it’s like a right of passage. In the culture, you share what you get, and they share the wealth. If anybody has a chance to try moose it’s good, definitely try it. You cook it up just as you would a steak.
Nick: I just miss my mom’s cooking. I don’t live at home like these two, so even when I’m home I don’t get homemade meals unless I’m making it. I do a ton of chicken and cauliflower based stuff. My girlfriend was vegetarian for a while, then I converted her back to meat, but we still eat a buttload of not meat.
When you’re touring, what essentials besides band gear are your must-haves?
Connor: Baby wipes and bananas. You gotta wipe down your whole body sometimes. I also just recently got into bananas. If you’re out there and you’re not sure about bananas, they’re fucking good. Give them a try.
Luc: Dry shampoo. Love that stuff. Spray all day. And probably 30 t-shirts. I just love having a different style all the time.
Nick: Beard oil and my phone. I’m tour managing this run so I’m organizing seven different bands and every show. I need so much information, I live on this goddamn thing. So it’s glued to my hip at all times.
Any music video ideas for your new songs?
Luc: Well it’s not gonna be in a house. All of our music videos are just in our houses: my house, Brad’s house, our old singer’s house, and my backyard.
Make sure to catch Calling All Captains on tour here!
Check out the full article on Stars & Scars and for video content of Calling All Captains performing at The Kingsland!
I interviewed NYC-based singer/songwriter Rachel Lynn. She is a classically trained vocalist and touring musician who creates original soulful pop music.
What 90’s pop and Motown music inspired you to do your own music?
Rachel Lynn: When I first started exploring music as a young person, I immediately realized that I could feel moved by many different genres of music; I didn’t have to pick just one kind of music to stake my fandom upon. So, the budding singer in me sang along to Amy Grant and Mariah Carey CDs, while I simultaneously found a deep emotional connection to Third Eye Blind and Jimmy Eat World. I had a love affair with The Offspring and Green Day, of course. I remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom listening to Dookie front to back, just in awe, feeling like those songs needed to be written. Then, I’d immediately follow that up with the greats, Celine and Whitney, completely mesmerized by what they could do with their instruments.
My love of old soul blossomed from listening to oldies in the car with my dad when I was growing up. Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson, The Four Tops, Diana Ross, and Sam & Dave are some of my favorites. There’s just indescribable magic in this music—watching old performances of Sam & Dave was (and still is) just mind-blowing to me, and that magic has always inspired me to perform. Artists like Allen Stone, Amy Winehouse, Marc Broussard, and Leon Bridges are great examples of musicians who have put their own contemporary spin on the magic of old soul, and they’ve proven to be incredibly inspirational for me as well.
My music is definitely pop music at its core, but I hope that with “Didn’t I” and the upcoming EP, listeners can feel the inspiration of these influences.
Are there any other influences that inspire your music writing?
Rachel Lynn: I’m always keeping an ear open to what new artists are doing, and I find that I draw inspiration from so many artists because there’s something extraordinary to take away from most musical experiences. Specifically, I’ve been very inspired by Donna Missal, Terra Naomi, and Nina Storey. They’re all badass women who have been pursuing their crafts for a long time, honing and writing and working and writing some more. Donna has an incredible ability to push and pull and build and go past where you think she (and you) can go; she’s been monumental in influencing my ability to grow a song to its most climactic point. Terra can vocally dance so lightly and effortlessly; it creates an incredibly emotional experience that I’ll forever attempt to capture in my own music. Nina Storey is a powerhouse of fun; her energy and positivity are unmatched, and I feel that listening to her sweet, soothing voice will always be a part of my self-care regimen.
What music are you releasing this year? Anything you can tell us about?
Rachel Lynn: This year I’ll be releasing an EP that features the single, “Didn’t I.” You’ll get a bit of R&B, a bit of 60’s pop, a bit of rock; I’m really hoping to showcase my influences more than I have in the past.
At what age did you start your classical training?
Rachel Lynn: I was participating in children’s choirs and voice lessons early on, but I started studying more seriously in high school as I prepared to go on and pursue my music education in college.
Tell me about donating all your proceeds from your song “Seeing Red” to animal rights organization Mercy For Animals.
Rachel Lynn: “Seeing Red” is a song that revolves around my relationship to veganism and the animal rights movement. It seemed only appropriate to give the song a real purpose by making it an avenue for the support of animal advocacy. That said, all proceeds from the single will be donated to Mercy For Animals on an on-going basis.
I love performing at events and fundraisers that support this cause, so I’ve been a part of a few events at Catskill Animal Sanctuary, and last year, I performed at the NYC Veggie Pride Parade and NYC’s first animal rights music festival, CanILive Music Festival. I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be back at both events this year!
Your song “Didn’t I” was released recently (3/1). How does this song compare to the rest of your music?
Rachel Lynn: I think it shows tremendous growth, which I feel is the goal for every artist as they release new music. I was able to better articulate my vision for this song, and right from the start, my amazing producer, Ali Culotta, and I were on the same page. She was really able to elevate the music to meet the vision we discussed, and I’m really proud of what we created.
What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about being a musical artist in NYC?
Rachel Lynn: My favorite thing about being a musical artist in NYC is the endless amount of inspiration. The hardship that inspires me probably doubles as my least favorite thing about being an artist in NYC. There is no shortage of struggle, no lack of hustle, and it takes a lot from you. I can’t imagine doing anything else though, so even though you’re sort of constantly giving from your well (and you’re expected to do so), it’s important to try to replenish yourself as much and as often as you can.
What are your hobbies when you’re not doing music?
Rachel Lynn: My new hobby is making insane amounts of sushi! If you’re making sushi at home, I don’t know how you can not make inappropriate amounts, but maybe there’s someone out there controlling themselves. I also love listening to podcasts (Radiolab, Savage Lovecast, Bearded Vegans, to name a few). I journal religiously, and I’ve recently gotten very campy about collaging in my journal with stickers and magazine cut-outs. It’s wildly fun and oh-so-therapeutic.
What are your upcoming goals?
Rachel Lynn: This month was so incredible; playing five shows in four cities, telling my story to new people, and sharing my music with new audiences. More of that, please.
Is there anything you do before going on stage to shake jitters or get yourself pumped up?
Rachel Lynn: Vocal warm-ups are a must; obviously, I feel more at ease when I’m vocally ready to go. I also really enjoy having a quiet moment with myself before going on stage. It’s nice to just collect my energy and connect with myself before becoming intensely vulnerable during a performance.
What’s your message to people who hear your music?
Rachel Lynn: Thank you for listening! I hope that it resonates with you and brings you some sense of joy or comfort.
Article on Stars & Scars magazine.
Hailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, alt-rockers The Haunt just wrapped their European tour. Teenage siblings Anastasia Grace and Maxamillion Haunt merge together for an eclectic sound, combining alternative, indie, rock and roll, garage, and blues. As a victim of bullying, Anastasia had a vision for their music video “All Went Black” which went viral with over 100,000 views. The group partnered with the Stop Bullying Now Foundation to help contribute to putting an end to the epidemic of bullying among today’s youth, empowering them through counseling, life skills training, open communication, and creative outlets. Next up, The Haunt will release “Why Are You So Cold?,” a powerful song that summons the band’s notorious haunting eeriness that burrows into your soul. To learn more about this captivating group, read what I asked them below:
You recently toured Europe. What was your favorite destination and why?
The Haunt: I think collectively our favorite destination was Milan, Italy. We have Italian heritage, so we were already very interested in the country, but when we got there it exceeded our imaginations. It’s a truly beautiful place with lively, wonderful culture and warm-hearted people. Anyone who gets the chance to visit Italy should definitely take up the opportunity.
Where do you plan on touring next?
The Haunt: We’re open! Right now, we’re working on a bunch of different things, such as recording music and videos, writing, and all that jazz, but we’d love to tour anywhere that would have us. We’re dying to visit Asia – Japan specifically.
What’s it like being so young and touring other countries?
The Haunt: It’s not all that different from touring in the U.S., honestly. The biggest difference, aside from the slightly increased energy in some European crowds, is the fact that we lost weight on the European tour, whereas we gained weight in the U.S. LOL. I can’t tell you what the reason is for that, but it’s a thing.
What’s like being a young musician?
The Haunt: I’d say that people automatically want to look down on you just because you’re young. Some other bands think they know more about this business than we do just because we’re young, but the truth is we’ve been doing this for four years, which is much longer than most other bands can say for themselves. It’s really fun winning people over, proving to them that we’re genuine musicians and not some gimmick. I think over the recent years, the climate has changed on young musicians, and it seems like now is one of the most accepting times in the general public for younger acts, and we’re really excited to be coming up in this time period.
What’s it like working together with family?
The Haunt: Exactly as you’d expect it to be. Lots of arguing and fighting but just as much love. It’s not always easy working on something as personal as art with your sibling, but the process has led us to become best friends, which we definitely were not before the band started.
Do you guys play any instruments?
The Haunt: Anastasia plays piano, ukulele, and, of course, sings. I (Max) play piano, guitar, bass, ukulele, synth, and also sing. We’ve been taking music lessons since we were really young, about five years old.
Your self-titled EP was released last year and is spectacular! What can we expect from your upcoming music?
The Haunt: Thank you! The EP was a blast to make, and we were really excited at the response it got. We have a new album on the way. It’s currently titled AREA51, and we’re really excited to share the first single “Why Are You So Cold?” in the next few months. It’s something new and different, so look out for it! 🙂
What do you like to do when you’re not making music?
The Haunt: I (Max) draw a lot, and write short stories. It’s my second passion. Anastasia loves musical theater and has been in a few school musicals, including being Wednesday Addams last year.
Who are your favorite artists to listen to?
The Haunt: We have a really diverse music taste. I’ve always loved more modern rock stuff, like Catfish and the Bottlemen, Royal Blood, K. Flay, Arctic Monkeys. Anastasia’s always loved older classic voices, such as Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse, and others. Our favorites mix in bands like The White Stripes, The Kills, Cage The Elephant, The Dead Weather. Bands that make modern versions of blues rock. We love that stuff.
What’s the music scene like in Fort Lauderdale?
The Haunt: The music scene in Fort Lauderdale is better than you’d expect. Collectively, the music community here was really good to us. There’s a lot of talent here; the sounds that come out of South Florida are very diverse, and that definitely helped us shape who we are as musicians.
The masks for your “All Went Black” video were terrifying and unique! Where did you get the inspiration for that?
The Haunt: Terrifying and unique is a good assessment. The masks are symbolic of an adolescent society that has been less than kind to each other through recent years, leaving young people feeling insecure, judged, ridiculed, and fearful to be themselves during a time where it’s most important for them to find their value. We wanted to shine a light on that aspect of adolescence and hope to do whatever we can to improve that reality.
To listen to more of The Haunt’s music, click here.
Article on Stars & Scars mag: Stars & Scars
Powerhouse rock singer, JanaeSound was performing in Brooklyn this past weekend, so she and guitarist Andrew LaVogue stopped by Big Picture Media to chat with me while we snagged photos of them. Janay Woodruff, vocalist, grew up with an operatic background, allowing her to hone her own style musically. Janay shares her inspirations and aspirations with us.
How was the music scene in St. Louis growing up?
I fell into music kind of accidentally, my choir teacher in grade school pulled me aside after class and started playing on the piano. Played higher and higher and was like, “Wow, you can do that?” He gave me this acapella opera cassette tape that I would try to practice, but my mom would try and hide it from me. One night she came home, thinking I fell asleep to it again but it was actually me in my room singing. She was like, “Oh I feel horrible!” Then, my choir teacher took me on what I thought was a field trip, but it was an audition for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. So my first professional show was at nine years old.
What are your musical inspirations?
Although opera is so beautiful, it is just not for me, so I immediately went into rock, I’ve always loved that. I fell into 80s rock; I love glam rock and the women who ruled that era are so strong, powerful and beautiful in ways that aren’t about physical looks. I was attracted to that strength and admired it so much. I love Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith. Vocally, opera and rock are like sisters. You’ve got these long big notes that just grow!
Since the release of your latest singles, “Diamonds” and “Break Me Down” where do you see your music going?
I actually wrote and recorded a full EP, and I’ve just been dropping singles off that. I have a poppier song coming out in March called “Fear”. This year I really want to do more visual content. We’ve already done two video shoots, with another one coming up next week. I want people to learn more about me, and I think video is a good way to do that. All my songs are uplifting, moving, and hopefully encouraging to people that listen.
What was the concept behind your video for “Diamonds”?
The concept about “Diamonds” is about transforming so I wanted it to be relatable. The video was all white so you could put whatever you want in there. Basically, we’re back to back, signifying how hard things are.
Since you just wrapped shooting the video for “Break Me Down” what can you share with us about it?
Without revealing too much, there is a lot of movement. You have to take a look for yourself when it comes out!
Other than shooting videos, do you have any other things in the works coming up?
Our favorite part is performing, so we do well over 100 shows a year. After this Saturday’s show at the Bitter End, we have to rush back to Portland [Maine] at Merrill Auditorium for a show. We have this really cool project with a VR component: a screen will be behind me and I’ll be wearing trackers on my arms. Then we’re doing a BMI showcase in LA, hitting Nashville in the summer and a few fests.
Where does “Janaesound” come from?
Sometimes artists are treated like a product, and I wanted to disassociate from that. I am Janay Woodruff: I’m a person and that is something to be loved, not to be used or sold. But Janaesound, we’re gonna sell that! I want it everywhere, everything, so I dropped the “Y” and added the “E”.