Tag Archives: Interview

Interview with Singer-Songwriter, J.J.Leone

What attracted you to the area of music you work in?

Song-writing is just something that came really naturally to me, it always has done. Even writing in general – I had some poetry published when I was 8 which I wrote about a jungle! But ‘Dark Soul’ was just something that happened, I didn’t start to think that this is the music I’m going to create, its just the sound that came out. I didn’t even name it, a friend did. He said that it’s still soulful music but its really dark at the same time, and I remember thinking that actually yeah, that’s a pretty good description of it!

What is your local music scene like? How do you think you fit in?

Norwich is doing really good at the moment, its got a few guys coming through right now, I put that down to it being in the countryside with not much else really to do! But in terms of where I fit in, I never concern myself with that. I don’t create music with an idea of fitting in anywhere, people can put me wherever they see fit!

You’ve got a huge concert lined up – what would be your dream venue?

Without doubt the Drogarati Cave in Kefalonia, Greece. I went there a couple of years ago and the acoustics there are so perfect they do hold concerts in there, its a chillingly beautiful place, and yes I did stand there singing whilst looking around – I chose Frank Ocean if I remember rightly!

Tell us about how you go about creating your music, from initial idea to completion. What equipment do you use?

For me, it always starts with a melody which 99% of the time comes from the guitar. My preferred guitars are the Yamaha electro-acoustic CPX700 and my electric is a BC Rich Assassin QX6. From there I can really start to work on the chords, structure and lyrics. I’d say it’s 50/50 as to whether the lyrics or the beat comes first, I use a Chord MU25 keyboard and I programme with Cubase. The lyrics are always the last thing I record as by then the music has already been put down and I always think the voice is another instrument, so can be used to enhance/ calm aspects of the music at certain points. The microphone I use is a Shure SM57.

Tell us about the inspiration and making of the video which accompanies your track

I always try to keep it fairly simply and almost let people make their own visuals for my songs in their mind. The video for ‘Reload’ is a simple graphic style, but I think it works with the ambience of the track also.

http://www.youtube.com/c/jjleone

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

There isn’t really one! I want to bring people together through music and just seeing somebodies face light up when their favourite song comes on is what made me fall in love with it in the first place. I’ve connected with people all over the world through music, we may not speak the same language, but we both know a jam when we hear one!

Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?

It’s available for pre-order now from all major download platforms, with full release on October 6th.

Links:

Soundcloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/j-j-leone

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/iamjjleone

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/iamjjleone

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/c/jjleone

Website: http://www.jjleone.com

 

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Under the Covers With…Mihail Doman

We asked neo-classical genius, Mihail Doman, to imagine a very straight forward scenario: we’ve zipped forward in time to the eve of his fourth album, and his record company insist he makes an album of cover versions. We asked him what he’d choose and why…

Time – Hans Zimmer
This is THE song which inspired my album – epic and dramatic, yet sensitive.

Chevaliers de Sangreal – Hans Zimmer
Part of The Davinci Code Soundtrack – and part of the Soundtrack for my trip to Florence in October ‘16, where so many things changed for me.

Only the Winds – Olafur Arnalds
A song which inspired Part VI (the track with the video) – great production and theme.

Chronologie I – Jean Michel Jarre
A song I’ve listened to a thousand times – it’s like the beginning of spring – joyful and big.

Rendez-vous II – Jean Michel Jarre
One of the most epic and huge songs ever made, period.

See Mihail’s own work here:

https://mihaildoman.com/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLqDaz4DiSXVd6TTInSG7XQ

https://soundcloud.com/mihaildoman

 

Interview with Detroit Techno-Noir Artist, Nej!Las

What attracted you to the techno/electro/house scene?

The ability (and even the requirement) to make, not only harmonic melodies and bass-lines, but to additionally have percussion and drums that could, by themselves, carry a song.  Techno/electro/house pushes the envelope by requiring and allowing for creativity in all areas of a song. It requires one to constantly innovate and come up with new, original, creations and techniques applied to the production.

What is your local music scene like? How do you think you fit in?

The Detroit Techno scene is so prominent; it created its own genre. The Detroit Techno Militia shows the attitude of techno producers that reside in Detroit – independent, proud and original. Detroit allows for producers to have creativity, to not necessarily fit inside the box of what “techno” is supposed to be, but to continuously push the boundaries of the genre. Detroit Techno is innovative. The innovative and original style shines through my music.

You’ve got a huge gig lined up – what would be your dream venue?

An intimate venue where I could feed off of the audiences’ energy and they could be up close and personal to my live production. A symbiotic relationship between me and the crowd.

Tell us about how you go about creating your music, from initial idea to completion

I create two different live sets.

The first live set – the “progressive, melodic set” focuses on the harmonic elements. This set, by itself, would be categorized as “progressive” music. I spend days creating and manipulating analogs, wavetables, and filters in order to find a unique synth sound. I tend to favour an almost guitar-like synth – overdriven and raw. I then, likewise, formulate an “opposite” synth that is sweet and melodic – as if it could lead a progressive/chill-out song. This synth tends to be a string or rubber instrument. I then spend additional days writing, re-writing, and rearranging midi data and appreciations. With all the variations of synths and midi, I usually have enough sounds and tracks to form an entire arrangement. This is the next step, to formulate all the melodies into an arrangement of a harmonic song from an intro to an outro.

The second set – the “techno” set focuses solely on drums and percussion. I likewise arrange a very heavy techno arrangement from an intro to an outro. Hardware, like the Alesis SamplePad 4, is very useful to continue to create original midi data, or even audio samples, for percussion.  I want this second set to be able to stand alone as a song without bass or melodies.

In the end, I combine the two sets, which could, by themselves, be sufficient for a song, into one set that has movement and free flowing segments. I arrange the set to make it play as if I were playing it live. I even record all the modulations and envelopes from a MIDI controller (the AKAI MPC40) as if I were performing it live. This “live performance” of the song becomes the final track.

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

To continue to innovate and bring original music into the traditional “techno” genre. I want to create a niche of original, harmonic, progressive, techno songs that play, and sound, like a live set.

Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?

Songs like “Fini” play like a live set, except it allows one to listen to it anywhere. That is the style of my production – to have harmonic synths that could stand by themselves as a progressive song, but on top of the harmonies, to have percussion and drums that could also be sufficient for a song. The music is “alive”, always changing and morphing into something new and creative.

 

 

An interview with electro-pop film scorer Voldo Blanka

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How did you get your initial start in music?

I’ve been playing music since I was in diapers, and playing in bands since I had terribly filthy long dyed black hair in jr. high, but it wasn’t till later I knew this would be what I was going to do with my life.

I went to coachella alone in 2007. First time I’d ever been to a festival like that. Rage Against the Machine reunited and I really dug into electronic music. From that day I knew there was ONLY one thing I’d do with my life. And that is to make records and play live.

I had a few projects on the go but the one that broke was my last band Head of the Herd. We were the first band in our country to have a #1 song without a label and that taught me everything I know making the music YOU want to make, and standing by that.

 

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

I love making records, touring, and writing film scores. So every record I make, gig I play, and film I compose for, I’m getting closer to the place I want to be

 

How long have you been writing your own music?

I reckon I wrote my first song at about 12. A switch flipped in my head and I became OBSESSED with music. I would play till I fell asleep with my guitar in my hands, and spent all day at school talking shit about this band, that band, this instrument, that producer. Since then I’ve never suffered from not knowing what to do with my time. Every moment then went towards being the best artist I could be.

 

Who are your top three influences and why?

This question is impossible! But a few people have always astounded me with fearlessness and creativity. Nina Simone…my favourite vocalist ever. And I don’t just throw that around. Listen to the live version of “funkier than a mosquito’s tweeter” and you’ll know why.

Tarantino. You don’t need your musical influences to be musicians. It’s about making your own rules and creating what you want to create regardless of all the voices in your ear. You can learn a lot from his take on dialogue.

Josh Homme. Has there ever been a cooler motherfucker than this. Making the darkest, prettiest music I’ve ever heard in my life.

Seriously this question is killing me… Ray Charles, Damon Albarn, Dangermouse, Zeppelin, its endless. Let’s crush a casual dozen beers together and we can really dig in.

 

Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?

Making ‘nuns enjoy a madman’ was about creative freedom. About making movie moments and tapping into subtle, and not so subtle, mood manipulation.

I came from a touring rock band that made records all over the world, to shutting the door and locking myself in a dark room to see where I could get with just my imagination and a fuckload of instruments.

It was scary and fun, but more scary than fun. And I like that.

 

Where are you based and what’s your local scene like? Any favourite venues?

I’m currently based in Vancouver on the West Coast of Canada. The commodore is one of the best rooms I’ve played in my life. Gaddam do I love that place.

 

Who else can you recommend from your local scene for people to have a listen to?

Plasteroid is a new band from here that are a must listen to. Fucking aces.

Give our readers a round up of where they can find you online and hear more of your music.

Go to www.voldoblanka.com to hear the record and sign up for the email list. But first, add Voldo Blanka on fb and Instagram. That’s where I do most of my updates.

You guys are the best, thanks for listening.

Soundcloud: https://tinyurl.com/yczk5ewq

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/voldoblanka/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/voldoblanka/?hl=en

 

Get to know: TONICA

We’ve been in conversation with Manchester based electro-pop band TONICA about their roots in music and their new single ‘Save Yourself’ which is out on August 11th. Get the lowdown here:

How did you get your initial start in music?

 

We’d both played various instruments from an early age, but the leap from playing for pleasure to planning a career in music came when we decided to move to Manchester. We met in the city and have been writing together ever since. 

 

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

 

Though I’m sure the industry will change as we progress as a band, I imagine our aim will always be the same – to have our music heard by more people. Whether it’s through a major label, an independent or some kind of self-release, I hope we continue to grow and gain more support with each record.  

 

How long have you been writing your own music?

 

We’ve been writing together for just under a year; though most of the TONICA material was done in early 2017 – I feel like we’re just hitting our stride.

 

Who are your top three influences and why?

 

Speaking specifically about the influences for this band, I’d say…

 

The Weekend – On both a song-writing and production level. The sonic of his tracks perfectly compliments the subject matter, I believe he’s at a commercial & creative peak right now.

 

Honne – They’re a throughly modern band yet their music feels classic, it’s like future-soul. I think we referenced them a few times over the last year, especially when recording/producing my voice. The vocal sounds on Honne’s first album are incredibly rich and satisfying. 

 

Miike Snow – I feel like MS are overlooked. Some of their music is incredible, particularly on the last album. I believe they work as a writing team for numerous pop-acts too. I like that you can hear that mainstream pop influence in the structure and arrangements – it’s definitely something we’re mindful of too. 

 

Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?

 

The track is called ’Save Yourself’ and it comes out on 11th August. I think the most important thing to know is that it’s our first release. We’ve been waiting to get this record out for a couple of months now and we’re excited to see what the reaction is. It was mixed by Lewis Gardiner (formally of Prides) and mastered by Chris Gerhinger (Drake, 1975). It was an honour to have them work on our debut and I hope the song gets the recognition we feel it deserves. 

 

Where are you based and what’s your local scene like? Any favourite venues?

 

We’re currently based in the centre of Manchester. There’s hundreds of great venues in the city, but if I had to name just a few I’d say – Deaf Institute (Oxford Road), Albert Hall (Peter Street) and the Night & Day Cafe (Oldham Street, NQ). 

 

Who else can you recommend from your local scene for people to have a listen to?

 

I went to see a friend’s band called Big Society the other night, check them out. 

 

Give our readers a round up of where they can find you online and hear more of your music.

 

https://www.facebook.com/tonicaofficialband/

 

https://www.instagram.com/tonicamusic/

 

https://www.youtube.com/c/Tonicaofficial

 

https://soundcloud.com/tonicabandofficial

Get to know: J.J Leone

It’s easy to simply label a lot of artists as ‘singer-songwriters’, but J.J Leone takes this title to the next level, blending his talented songwriting skills with an easy listening combination of R&B and soul. We were lucky enough to have chat with him:

How did you get your initial start in music?

I was heavily influenced by my older brother’s musical ability as a kid, he was already doing tours when I was growing up but he introduced me to a lot of music and played guitar around me all the time. I looked up to him and still do, so I wanted to learn to play guitar like he could. I picked it up by ear and by watching him, then when I discovered guys like Jimi Hendrix, John Frusciante and John Mayer, they really pushed me to try different things with the instrument. Eventually I moved on to learning the drums, largely due to heavy rock and metal music I discovered, bass guitar and electronic production, which I put down to my love of Hip-Hop. I learnt everything by ear and with no tuition. I never really had a lot of confidence in my voice until I was like 18, and things grew from there!

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

I don’t really have an ‘ultimate aim’ or an ‘end goal’ in music, because I’m not creating music to tick boxes along the way or to think: ‘Once I get to this stage, I’ll be satisfied’. I write and perform music because I love it, and the way it can bring people together. ‘Making it’ has different meanings to different people. If someone sits down one day and says ‘I wanna learn how to play Little Wing on the guitar’ and then a year later they can, then they’ve made it! I’m the kind of person who is restless and never really satisfied, so I just want to make music for many years and what will come will come!

How long have you been writing your own music?

I started writing my own music around the age of 14. It was never normally for myself, or I didn’t picture that these songs will have me singing them, or anything would come from them, I just enjoyed it! The first serious music I wrote was for my band when we were 15; we took a couple of them into the studio and we got to open for Suzi Quatro, Hot Chocolate and tour Barcelona amongst other things, so I guess they went down alright! That was the first time I realised that I could possibly get somewhere with my music, so ever since then every lyric, melody and instrumental section has been written by myself!

Who are your top three influences and why?

Stevie Wonder, Prince and Cody Chesnutt. There are so many more great musicians who i really admire, but Stevie Wonder for the simple fact of how long he has been around and stayed at the top of his game. He has made maybe two songs I don’t like in his whole career. Prince because of his attitude and diversity. Not only an amazing musician, who played all the instruments on his tracks himself, but because he was always coming up with something fresh and was an artist who defied genres and boundaries. You could tell he was just in it for the music and didn’t care about critics or any of that stuff. My brother introduced me to Cody Chesnutt a few years ago. He played me his album ‘The Headphone Masterpiece’. Cody really inspires me because he recorded that entire album is his mum’s kitchen, with some really basic recording gear. It taught me that you don’t have to have this and that costing x amount of dollars or pounds to put your message out there, he had a real DIY attitude, something I’m trying to apply to my own music.

Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?

I suppose I would just like people to know that everything you hear on ‘With You’ is done by me. All the writing, the vocals, the instrument, the production. That and the fact that its available NOW WORLDWIDE!

Where are you based and what’s your local scene like? Any favourite venues?

I’m based in Norwich. The local music scene is pretty tight-knit to be honest, every band kind of knows each other. There is actually a lot of singer-songwriters based here too, and a couple of venues that put on ‘Oen Mic’ nights, so there is a really good chance to connect with other artists. Norwich is a pretty artsy place in general, which I like. I’ve played in quite a few places in Norwich, and the county of Norfolk in general, I really like ‘The Owl Sanctuary’ because they are really fair to the artists who play there, its a really chilled vibe.

Who else can you recommend from your local scene for people to have a listen to?

There was a rapper I heard a couple of months back called ‘Obongjayar’ (I hope I’m spelling that right!). His stuff is really sick and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t do some bits in 2017.

Give our readers a round up of where they can find you online and hear more of your music.

You can find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with: @iamjjleone. My official website is www.jjleone.com, which has further links to my Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud etc.

 

Listen to J.J’s new single ‘With You’ here:

Get to Know: Music Theory

Know Me Better music managed to get in conversation with emerging Egyptian pop artist, Music Theory, who’s releasing his new track emotive love song ‘Down The Aisle’.

 

When did you first get into music? What or who Inspired you?

I started writing music when I was about 9 years old. My first song was about 7 lines. It was about a ball rolling down the street 🙂 I was a very shy person growing up. Writing music put me up when I’m feeling down. It helped me release my thoughts and dreams, that I usually couldn’t share. I could be whoever I want in this make believe world, that I create while writing.  As I grew up, I wrote also about experiences and emotions.

My inspiration was all those singers that I grew up listening to. Their ability to make me cry, feel loved or pumped up through their songs was amazing. I wanted to have that effect on people. My dream is to touch people’s hearts.

 

Who did you grow up listening to, and does that impact on what you create now?

I grew up in the eighties and the nineties. I listened to mainstream music. Michael Jackson, REO speedwagon, Sublime, REM, Oasis, NKTOB, Boys 2 Men, Phil Collins, Bon Jovi, Stock Aitken Waterman, Pet Shop Boys, etc.

I could write an endless list. It was always about the song, not the artist. I always listen to mix tapes, never albums.

I believe that everything I hear influences me.

 

How long have you been playing/writing?

About 30 years. However, my song “Down The Aisle” is my first professional release.

 

How often do you play live?

I never played professionally, yet. I plan to do that in the near future, at a certain point.

 

What has been your favourite moment in music?

Band Aid. USA for Africa. It was inspiring and extraordinary. Music can heal and connect the world.  

 

Where is the best place to find you online?

https://soundcloud.com/musictheory2016

https://www.facebook.com/musictheory2016/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNHe1k5TPYkM8EHLiaDkL_w

http://www.musictheory.zone/

http://mtmusictheory.blogspot.co.uk/