Natti Vogel | Saro

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.

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Saro

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.

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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.

 

The Drums

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.

Calling All Captains at The Kinglsand

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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!

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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.

Connor: If you guys have cool ideas, send them to us on Instagram or our email!

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!

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Interview: Rachel Lynn

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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.