Friday, June 24, 2011
Thanks to an innocent hobby of playing dress-up and posing on her parents’ coffee table, Marisa Nero has now ventured into more professional and mature modeling markets. And why wouldn’t she? Part Argentine/part Italian, the Toronto native’s exotic mix of light hair, colourful eyes, and deep curves has men and men’s magazines alike drooling for her snapshot. Not only was she labeled sexiest out of all her competitors - winning the titles of Miss Bikini Canada 2008 and Importfest 2008 Featured Model - Marisa has been featured in promos for mainstream names like Budweiser, Superbowl, and Harley Davidson. Marisa’s habit of gracing publications is included but not limited to a Nike print ad, several wall calendars (like one as a super cool “Ice Girl”), and several issues of American Curves Magazine (such as a 10 page pictorial in their December 2008 issue). And, of course, you can’t get glossy magazine-published pictures without the help of glossy magazine-published photographers. Marisa has shot with high-profile glamour photographers like Paul Buceta, Eikona, and Ward LaForme. Her more recent works include, more specifically, Eikona 2010 Bedroom Girls Calendar and, less specifically, several radio and TV appearances as a spokesperson, actress and promotional model.
However, Marisa’s extensive resume of ambitions isn’t just restricted to modeling. In shape and (always) working out in a gym, she turned to Bikram yoga, a form of hot yoga which consists of 26 repeated poses. Practicing yoga for over half of a decade, Marisa will commence her Yoga Teacher Training next month to further discover herself and “connect her mind, body, and soul.” Understanding the benefits of yoga and possessing a natural sense of altruism, she wants to help others - as a teacher and a fellow yogi - find themselves too. As essential as it could be for teaching, Marisa graduated from the Social Work program immediately after high school. As for her being a yogi, it makes sense she would like to take classes for healing/holistic arts, Reiki therapies, and other healing methods. Holistic nutrition allows Marisa to energize her mind and satisfy her body.
Marisa hopes to one day educate others with her own holistic, healing, and yoga workshops. She would also love to volunteer and perform charity work wherever possible. Marisa’s interests include “dancing, working out, yoga-ing, spending time with (her) Yorkie puppy, volunteering, and travelling.”
You can connect with Marisa Nero on her website www.marisanero.com or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/marisanero.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
As devastating as a war becomes to one individual as it would to one town, city, or country, Karl still remembers Lebanon for its more upbeat vibe. " Lebanon has less rules, driving – sometimes no one stops at the stoplight J Lebanon is about party or survival." As for Dubai? Well, the binary opposites of work and play definitely blend in juxtaposition. "There is a work ethic taught in schools; in Dubai, it’s very strict. So, I’m used to working hard, which gives me an edge here in Canada. But, Dubai also has the craziest people in the world; it's a real party city. I would invite people to come check it out."
Oddly enough, coming from Dubai himself, Karl doesn't see many differences between his home land and Canada. “Canada’s my home. It’s my family. It’s where I’m from now. Even when I came in 1995, there was no culture shock for me, because where I’m (originally) from is very hip and updated. Living in that part of the world, not many people have access. Dubai was more of a melting pot; British, Dutch people, etc. though." And even though Canada may be somewhat similar to Dubai, Karl doesn't take the Canadian lifestyle or freedom for granted. He is very thankful for how Canada has offered their venue to locate and transport his dreams. “I grew up in Dubai, not Canada. Lifestyle there is a bit different, people aren’t used to being an entertainer or singer not something a reality back then there. But in Canada…never thought it’d be possible growing up there. But I felt different anyway, and being Lebanese and Arabic descent gave me an edge and individuality. East meets west.”
Saying that, Karl is proud to be Arabic, Canadian, and anything else for that matter. "I’m proud to be who I am. It’s not a political statement. Not gunna lie about where I’m from; it’s who I am. If anyone’s gunna be stupid and racist, that’s their prerogative. I wouldn’t want you to be my fan, if you were racist. Who’s to say you’re better than anyone else (because of your race)? I try not to acknowledge racism, because I don’t wanna know about it. I surround myself with positive people"...which is exactly what his song "My Ethnicity" is about. “Dad instilled these thoughts into my head for this song. Remember your roots, and let it be apart of you. Reinforce this to your kids and grandkids.”
Yes, instead of pushing it away, Karl has made culture apart of his identity and music. He has hold and sold two albums previous to Nightlife – Face Behind the Face and Bite the Bullet - and has conjured up a storm of musical and cultural strength evident within his Top 5 records in Japan, Lebanon, Egypt, Czech Republic and Dubai. His big breaks in Canada are no less staggering, his single “Africa” was officialized to run 3X platinum, and landed as the #1 spots on MuchMusic (video), the Adult Contemporary Charts (radio) and iTunes influential Pop chart (sales). And yes, Karl shows love for his music and other cultures, as Nightlife was also released in the Middle East and Japan, then in Australia and Europe. On “Love,” Karl protests a need for world peace, singing “Together we can change this world around and you know it.” “Yalla Habibi” - another one of his multiple hits - is Arabic for “let’s go.” Karl celebrates and facilitates a proactive quest for appreciation of diversity and multiculturalism with the earth in its entirety.
It may seem as though Karl popularizes this concept by manipulating his "celebrity," a undeniably powerful influence within society and the media, yet he insists that doesn't get him going. “I want people to shut their eyes, look at my music, and nothing else. I don’t need people to see my celebrity; I don’t act like “I’m the shit.” He wants people to "hear songs the way (he) hears it," especially when he masters his own interpretations of older songs like "Africa." As a producer (and songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and singer AND entrepreneur), he aims to provide the younger generation with the chance to understand how newer remixes derived from their older originals - and without those past opponents, we may not have mused - on the same level - the songs or artists that exist today.
While he adores being both a producer and singer, Karl can hop back and forth between the two based on certain pros and cons. “I like to separate the two, because being a celeb, you have to be in the public eye and look good. But in studio mode (as a producer), I like to grow my beard and look like a bum."
But, being a celebrity definitely has its perks. In 2008, he helped launched MTV Arabia with Akon, Ludacris, and others. "“Akon and Ludacris have been good friends of mine for the past 3 or 4 years. Once you’re respected in the industry, it (becomes) a small world.” Karl's music video for “Africa” was also the first ever to be played on MTV Arabia. In November 2008, Karl won the MTV Europe Music Award for MTV Arabia's Best New Act. Karl has performed across Canada with artists like Akon (with whom he resumes to tour with extensively), Flo Rida, T-Pain, Girlicious, and Sean Kingston.
As for 2011? " My single “Ghetto Love” (ft. Kardinal Offishall) will be released on Itunes on the 28th. My self-titled album (including collaborations with 36 Mafia, Kardinal Offishall, etc.) is out August 16th. I want to tour the world – Holland, Germany, Dubai, Japan.” May Karl bless the world with his music and presence.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
IT'S ALL ABOUT "THE GAME": MMVA-NOMINATED ARTIST ALYSSA REID WRITES ABOUT DRAG QUEENS, SONGS, & BIEBER FEVER
You may know Alyssa Reid as the soulful vocal partner of Canadian rapper P.Reign in "Alone Again," but what you may not know is that the Edmonton, Alberta native may be more independent than many aspiring or working professionals. She wrote her first song at age 7 and taught herself how to play the guitar and piano, so it's no surprise she took the time - like her fellow neighbour Justin Bieber - to post a video on YouTube and get discovered by a record label.
Of course, all that energy and motivation stems from pain - a reason to desire change. Constantly moving around in Alberta and then to Ontario, Alyssa obviously felt the pressure to assimilate quickly and unfortunately became a victim of bullying. "People will look for any reason to tear someone else down, and for me, they found that opportunity through my music, because it was so public. I'm also going to throw in the fact that I had a mushroom cut did NOT help my cause," Alyssa says.
Luckily, Alyssa realized at an early age the thing that ironically caused her struggle also helped her cope. She also realized that music alleviates her stress with any emotional issues. "I wrote a song (out of anger) on the back of a post-it note that my father kept, and it hangs on a cork board in the hallway. Looking back on it now, it made absolutely NO sense. I somehow managed to rhyme "quest" and "chest" in there, too. I have no recollection of why I wrote it, but I was seven."
Of course, (song)writing in itself allows one to identify and record their specific feelings in words. "I tend to get most inspiration through negative experiences, just because I find I express those with more detail and emotion. The songs "Watch Me Soar" (On the iTunes copy of my album),"Burned," and "Letting Go" are my favourite songs on the album, mostly because those are raw emotions that I felt and wrote about. Now, kids from all over Canada message me every day saying that the songs fit perfectly in the situations they are in right now and help them get through it. It’s an amazing thing to see that despite how alone and upset we feel in these moments, there are people everywhere dealing with the exact same problems and feeling the exact same feelings. Music really connects people."
Of course, playing the guitar or piano alone may not require or rely on the power of words to release any pent up trepidation, yet Alyssa digresses - it's her self-teaching that gave her the opportunity to experiment with different types of music and emotions. "I had a keyboard that sat in my basement for the longest time, so one day, I dusted it off and decided to give it a try. I had no idea what notes were what, so I had to Google it, and with tape and a Sharpie, I wrote the notes on every single key. All I knew how to play was the James Bond theme song, and "Row Row Row Your Boat." I didn't get serious with piano until Twilight came out. ."
As open minded as she is determined, Alyssa considered - and decided - to perform in some spectacular and even controversial places, including a Miss Drag Queen International pageant, boxing match, and a cruise ship. "My favourite show was definitely Miss Drag Queen International. That show had the most amazing performers, and being with them back stage, watching them get all dolled up, was incredible. Everyone was so glamorous; I couldn't wait until I became a big star, so I could be decked out in bling, sparkles, and amazing outfits like them!"
In the fall of 2009, her soon-to-be record label found Alyssa, thanks to a YouTube performance. Emulating his pathway to stardom, Alyssa created her own version of Justin Bieber's hit “One Less Lonely Girl." She penned the song from a girl's point of view and titled it “One More Lonely Boy." However, she may have not attained nearly 200,000 YouTube hits and signed with Wax Records just based on a YouTube video proof of her exceptional talent alone. There are also consensual perspectives based on relationships between men and women. "(Laughs). Girls are nuts. They are emotional, crazy, and complicated. A lot of guys don't know how to deal with that, and instead of investing their time in trying to work at a relationship, they opt out for a much simpler physical relationship. When a guy is ready to put the work in, then maybe he won’t be so lonely anymore."
Joining forces with a wide selection of experienced "celebrity-worthy" producers; Dave Thomson (Lights), Da Heala (Massari, Belly, Danny Fernandes), Jeff “Diesel” Dalziel (Edwin, Melissa O’Neil) and Jamie Appleby (Jesse Labelle), Alyssa has been working conscientiously to complete a dozen self-written songs and collaborations for her upcoming album. "My debut album entitled "The Game" is available June 21st! If you pre-order the album on iTunes, you get a "live off the set" acoustic studio version of "Alone Again." Its only available for the pre-order though, and then it’s gone... forever. If you get the album on iTunes, my favourite song " Watch Me Soar " is included, and in hard copy, "Alone Again Pt. 2" is included, along with "Encore Seule."
Alyssa may be young, but she has done more than most would have asked for at twice her age. "I am 18 years old now, but I feel like I am 30. I work very hard and have a lot of responsibilities, so I have had to mature fairly quickly." What's coming up for her? "I have no idea where I actually see myself in the future. If you were to ask me last year where I thought I would be in a year, I probably would have answered "Donut Baker at Tim Hortons." This song blew up so fast, and the impact it had on my life is surreal. It all happened so quickly, and I spend every day trying to catch up to the success of the song. Right now, I am where I want to be, and if I get to stay exactly where I am, I will be extremely proud of myself and my team."
Friday, June 17, 2011
"TORONTO'S VERY OWN JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE": DANNY FERNANDES TAKES CENTRE STAGE WITH FAMILY, FRIENDS, & FANS
“I sleep, eat and breathe music from when I wake up until I go to bed.” You would think a great artist like Betheoven mouthed and counted these syllables, but in fact, this quote was spoken by no other than modern day Canadian pop artist Danny Fernandes. Perhaps Betheoven said it in other words, but Danny couldn't paraphrase or improvise that thought better. And he does know and live music. After all, Danny has been dancing since the age of 6 and singing since before we've ever heard his first (or only) single that famously mentions "morning after" pancakes. So, yes, in this case, Danny is what he eats: (and that's) music.
As the middle child in a musical Italian/Portuguese family - with an opera singer for a grandfather and a pop sensation for an older brother (Shawn Desman) - it's no surprise Danny was already dancing at the mere age of six. By eleven, he was represented by an agent and dancing in commercials. By the time he was 16, Danny rightfully earned so many gold medals, medals that symbolically foreshadowed his transformation into the youngest member of the Toronto Raptor's Dance Pak. Shortly after, he was regularly featured as a backup dancer in various music videos. Unlike many parents, his were supportive of such a cutthroat dream; even though in 2003, a beautiful mistake was born by a common mishap with internet privacy.
"Curious" was somehow leaked online and found by a DJ in Germany who pressed it to bootleg vinyl. But, Danny is grateful for whoever could've screwed him over, because it turns out that became his debut infamous hit in first Europe and then Canada. After all, who could forget the original line “Tell me who wants pancakes...we want pancakes,” a line that was rapped by no other than Juelz Santana, all because Danny sent the "rough draft" to New York in late 2007. Even without any label backup, the song hogged the radio spotlight. Once the song resurrected into top 20, CP Records let Danny Fernandes join their club of fresh Canadian talent, whom of which included Belly. Belly literally wrote Danny's first album Intro, which snatched #1 on iTunes.
His first two singles “Private Dancer” and “Fantasy” have both dropped gold and blasted airwaves. Along with his hit singles, Danny came out with three back-to-back #1 videos, which owed him 5 nominations at the 2009 MuchMusic Video Awards. Danny won Best Pop Video Of The Year for “Private Dancer” at the 2010 MMVAs and was also crowned the Best Male Artist of the Year at the 2009 Top Choice Awards. Danny has toured with the likes of Akon, Flo Rida, Sean Kinston, and Girlicious.
For this year's MMVAs, Danny's nominations include "Video of the Year,""Post Production of the Year,"and "Ur Fave Video" (for his single "Automatic"). Check out our exclusive email interview here!
V.B. How did you get started?
D.F. I started out a dancer at the age of 6. By the time I was 18, I had experienced it all, so I decided to take on a singing career. Seems like it worked out pretty well (laughs).
V.B. You were a professional/competitive dancer for years, performing as a backup dancer in concerts and dancing in music videos. If you had to choose between dancing and singing, which one would you choose, and why?
D.F. That's a tough one. Dancing is a passion I have always had and I've done it my entire life! Singing, on the other hand, was just a hobby that turned into a profession from my love for music.
V.B. Your first track "Curious" somehow leaked online and was found by a DJ in Germany who pressed it to bootleg vinyl. And then your MySpace was bombarded by fans and professionals alike. How do you utilize the internet now as an artist? Do you prefer using the internet over traditional methods of advertisement, promotion, etc.?
D.F. The Internet changed my whole life! I owe it to the net.. No, with Twitter and Facebook and all these blogs, it's kind of hard to stay away from it... Anytime of the day, I can grab my Blackberry and tweet or promote any show I'm doing. You know what I mean? I feel like it's more intimate.
V.B. You have 3 MMVA nominations for "Automatic." What stands out to you most about making that video?
D.F. What stands out to me is that I haven't seen any other video come out of this country that's like it. My crew was amazing and fun to work with.
V.B. Some of your songs - "Private Dancer," "Automatic" and "Fantasy" - have suggestive undertones. Do you draw a line as to how explicit you want your lyrics to be, or are you opposed to censorship? Drawing from specific examples in the media, what do you think is crossing the boundaries of being too sexual or inappropriate i.e. music video, song, tv wise, etc.?
D.F. Honestly, I don't have any boundaries.. This second album was a little more explicit, as you say. I'm getting older, and so is my music. I don't think it's wrong to be sexual in a proper manner.
V.B. Do you feel like you're a mentor to younger children? What advice can you provide to youth who aspire to be like you in the entertainment industry?
D.F. I do feel like I'm a mentor, and children do look up to me. I'm always happy to work with kids and give advice... I tell them if you have a dream - either it be music or anything, - follow it! When you put your mind into it anything can happen.
V.B. You're related to Shawn Desman and Tyler Medeiros. Do you think having your family in the music business with you makes you or breaks you?
D.F. I don't think so. I am my own artist, and what they do doesn't affect me at all. Yes, we are related, but we are different people.
V.B. You've collaborated with many artists - Shawn Desman, Juelz Santana, Benny Benassi, Mia Martina, etc. - but you work most closely with Belly. Describe Belly to me. What do you guys bring to the table individually and/or as a team?
D.F. Belly is like the other half of my brain. We are always thinking alike, and I work with him the best out of anyone else. We have become so close in the last few years it's hard not to have him around. He is a lyrical genius! You give us anything, and you are promised a hit record! I'm living proof.
V.B. Your quote (you said) "I sleep, eat and breathe music." If this is true, give me a typical day-in-the-life of Danny Fernandes for me.
D.F. Well it varies; everyday is different. I could have a show. If I don't, I'm in the studio, or I'm doing vocal training, writing, etc. Music is an all day thing for me; it's my job!
V.B. What's coming up for you?
D.F. Were planning a European tour this summer. Also, my brother and I have a few things in the works for all the fans too! More videos, more music, more Danny! Stay tuned :)
Thursday, June 16, 2011
(The) Stereos are Pat K (vocals), Daniel (bass), Miles (guitar), Robby (guitar), and Aaron (drums). They became "the" band on disBAND and brought their singles to radio play i.e. "Summer Girl," "Butterflies," "Bye, Bye Baby." This Sunday, Stereos will honour their nomination for "Cinematography of the Year" ("Uncontrollable") at the 2011 MuchMusic Video Awards. Here, they answer some basic (and personal!) questions. Check it out.
V.B. You changed the name of your band twice. What made you decide on the name "Stereos?"
S. "Stereos" was just simple and catchy enough that we thought it was a perfect fit. We always wanted something that could take on many different meanings and wasn't hard to remember.
V.B. So, you all got started on disBAND? How was it like competing on a reality TV show? Any unusually dramatic tensions between bands? Or gossip you'd like to clear up?
S. disBAND is what helped us gain recognition, but it happened for us years into pursuing music. We already worked together so much to get us to that point. The only rumour that always comes up is what Gene Simmons' involvement with our band is - because he appeared on our episode - but the answer is a "simple handshake," and that was it.
V.B. Your first single was "Summer Girl." Speaking of which - and in light of the fact that summer has just begun - do/did you have any memorable summer flings or romances?
S. I have many.
V.B. Speaking of songs, you guys have more than a couple of songs about love/women i.e. "Butterflies" and "She Only Likes Me When She's Drunk." Do these songs draw on personal experiences for you?
S. They totally do, unfortunately. But it's always good to be able to draw on personal experience, so the song is more meaningful.
V.B. What would you say were your most vital or fascinating relationships, and why? What have you learned from these relationships?
S. I'd never mention specific romantic relationships, but the most vital relationships have been with my family and closest friends.
V.B. What do you look for in a woman, physically and personality wise? Do you have a set archetype or celebrity whom you are infatuated with?
S. Well, ideally, I'd describe my physical preference as "hot." But, more importantly, she has to have a sense of humour, because I'm completely hilarious, and it's really annoying to chill with a girl who doesn't agree. I am currently in love with Kimberly Perry, lead singer of The Band Perry. I saw them live the other night, and I could tell we would get along so well. Call me, Kim...
V.B. You've been nominated for an MMVA "Cinematography of the Year" for "Uncontrollable." Describe to us the concept of the video. Why do you believe the video should win?
S. The concept of the video revolves around the band getting ready to go for a pickup to play a club performance in Havana, Cuba, except for me, because I found a very hospitable local girl to show me
around the city instead. I loved that city, and it's my favourite video we've done yet; I'd love to see it win.
V.B. You guys implement a very distinct sound that allows your fans to instantly recognize your music. Would you ever make any drastic changes? Who would you love to collaborate with that your fans may be surprised to know?
S. All I know for sure is that I will always make music. As to what it sounds like, I have no idea. I would love to collaborate with Brad Paisley.
V.B. Any last words? Advice or goals for the future?
S. Thank you for the interview! And thanks to anyone who read it. My only goal for the future is to keep making music.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
These Kids Wear Crowns are nominated for two awards at the MMVAs: "People's Pick: Ur Fave Video" and "Best Video Effects" - all that for their single "Jumpstart," and a bag of chips. Check out our quick Q&A.
V.B. How did you guys meet?
T.K.W.C. We all went to high school together. After high school, we were all in different bands. Our first show was on MuchMusic's Disband. We toured with Gypsy's band in October 2009; eventually, Gypsy's band fell apart. Josh met Jason, the drummer messaged us on Facebook, and it all just fell into place...
V.B. Where did you all grow up?
T.K.W.C. I (Alex) am from Chilliwack, British Columbia; that's where we actually all live. Josh is from Surrey, England; he was born in Alberta and grew up in Vancouver. Ethnicity wise, our families combined originated from the UK, Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, and Ireland.
V.B. You just filmed the cover for Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." Why did you choose to readapt that song?
T.K.W.C. We like to do covers outside of our genre, so we can make it all our own. We can't do anything as good as the original, if it's too similar to our's. When we went to EMI to ask permission to use the song and they said "yes," we saw an opportunity. We loved the music video; it drew us to the song even more. The music video was set in the 80s (1987, to be exact), so we used dancing and a prop as Whitney Houston. We go back in time; it's definitely a voyage through time and space. Hopefully, it'll make the final cut.
V.B. Who are your influences?
T.K.W.C. We love all different types of music - R&B, metal, pop, hip hop. Katy Perry (on her last album) and Foo Fighters (on their new album) are big influences for us. (We like) Beyonce's "Single Ladies" and Jay Z/Alicia Key's "Empire State of Mind."
V.B. What's the Neon Army Love? Does it have to do with performing in Singapore and Australia?
T.K.W.C. It's an exclusive name for our fans. We love to help out charities in different areas of the world.
V.B. What's it like making an album?
T.K.W.C. We made some demos and went down to Dallas to do another EP. We did some in LA and up here in Vancouver. It's really fun.
V.B. There are 6 guys in your band. If you could choose one word or phrase i.e. "Most likely to..." (in your high school yearbook) to describe each member, what would it be?
T.K.W.C. Matt: party. Gypsy: a gypsy, because he'll eat anything. Josh: cool, laid back. Joey: European, stylish, handsome. Allan: timekeeper. Me (Alex): running back, football.
V.B. What are you guys doing now?
T.K.W.C. We're touring BC right now. However, we will be at the MMVAs (this Sunday)!
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Edward Maya released an European freestyle single appropriately titled “Stereo Love.” But, little did he know a Canadian voice would soon be inserted into the remix, a voice from a young woman who sounds and looks like an angel: Mia Martina. With a hum as pure and unedited as a computerized dance recording can utilize, Mia serenades us with the lyrics "hmm, when you're gunna stop breaking my heart," with such distinct vulnerability that is now instantly recognized, downloaded, and shared by fans across the globe. But as gifted as the brunette bombshell is beautiful, Mia can thank timing as apart of her journey through success. Born and raised in St. Ignace - a small New Brunswick village of roughly 500 - this exotic beauty traveled to Ottawa for university, which is also where she came across an ad for an internship with her now home label CP Records (Belly, Massari, etc.). A year later, she finally gained the confidence to showcase her vocal abilities to CP CEO Tony Sal. Of course, with Mia's striking resemblance to hottest actress Megan Fox - piercing light eyes, stunning dark locks, warm olive epidermis, and all - how could CP Records say "no"? Before she knew it, Martina was done delivering CDs to radio stations and office admin work, and starting to sing backup in the studio for Danny Fernandes and Belly. Dance music’s most prestigious label, Ultra, was planning to remix a European hit by Edward Maya called “Stereo Love.” The song slaughtered the Top Ten on the Canadian pop charts, climbed up the US dance charts, and received noms for a dance Juno as well as an MMVA for “Most Watched Video of the Year." In preparation for the MMVAs and her second single“Latin Moon,” Mia takes a few minutes to answer my email questions.
V.B. How does it feel having your single "Stereo Love" on the globe's largest dance label Ultra Records (alongside deadmau5, Benny Benassi, and Tiesto)?
M.M. It's honestly such an amazing opportunity for me. I thank my blessings everyday for everyone who believed in me, for making this happen.
V.B. Do you feel like you're inclined to perform dance/house music? Are you open to other genres of music as well?
M.M. I love dance music, and at the moment, that is my main focus. But, I am also a big fan of Pop and R&B.
V.B. Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston are timeless icons. You performed their songs at the tender age of 3 years old. What would you say were - or are - your favourite moments in Whitney's and Michael's careers? Was there anything about them you exhibited, even as a young child?
M.M. Yes, of course - like their passion for their music, and how they were able to sound so amazing live. (I also love the fact that) they were so dedicated to their fans and still remained very humble.
V.B. How did you get in touch with CP Records? At what moment did they discover your talent?
M.M. I got signed to CP 4 years ago. I started working as an intern, and from then, I gave Tony Sal my demo. He thought I sounded great and put me on Danny Fernandes' first album for a song called "Nonchalant." From then on, I started recording. He thought I had what it take to make it in the industry, so he signed me, and then came Stereo Love. I thank him everyday for believing in me.
V.B. How was it meeting - and performing with - Danny Fernandes and Belly?
M.M. It was amazing!!! When I went on tour with Danny, I got to experience large stadiums and crazy fans (laughs). It gave me really good experience as a performer. Belly was a great coach in the studio; he taught me so many things that helped me to where I am today.
V.B. How was it like shooting the video for "Chasing the Rush" with Marc Andre Debruyne in the Las Vegas desert? Any concepts of the music you can explain to us?
M.M. It was HOT (laughs) but such a great experience. The video is in the desert with really beautiful cinematography and a nice story line, so please stay tuned for it.
V.B. What are you hoping to accomplish in the future? What advice can you give to aspiring performers based on your enormous experience and dedication to music throughout the years?
M.M. I hope to continue making great music and keep touring all around the world for my fans. The best advice I have is that when you have a dream, never give up no matter what anyone tells you. You have to keep trying and always stay positive.
Friday, June 10, 2011
“We all have our own Mount Everest,” says frontman Spyros ‘Spee’ Chalkiotis, “and we’re never going to rest until we accomplish the things we want to as a band.” And for Neverest (who includes band members Spee Chalkiotis, Mike Klose, Paul Loduca, and Brendan Colameco), their Mount (N)everest is (you guessed it!) Neverest. Back in 2007, Klose and Spee accepted two of the members and started business with producer Mike ‘MK’ Kiofos of Vic Park Productions (Keshia Chanté, Aleesia, Snow, Massari, and Dan Talevski). As their musical careers established potential, Neverest also caught the attention of Vic Park’s managers, 3 Street Management, leading them into the hands of industry powerhouses CJ Huyer (3Deep) and Howie Dorough (Backstreet Boys). Sooner than later, in October 2010, Neverest's debut hit "About Us" - co-produced in Toronto by globally acclaimed producer/songwriter Anthony M. Jones (Ashanti, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly) - was blasted on radio stations across Canada. Now, they're celebrating the release of their second single "Everything" on stage with NKOTBSB (New Kids On The Block and Backstreet Boys) and hopefully their MMVA nomination for "Cinematography of the Year." Check out Brendan's answers to my email questions!
V.B. Spyros says that "we all have our own Mount Everest." Is that why you called your band Neverest? Other than the band, what would you consider your own Mount Everest?
B.C. We take our own craft very seriously, so taking our drumming, guitar chops, vocal abilities to the top is a goal for all of us.
V.B. "About Us" was co-produced by Anthony M. Jones, a globally renowned producer/songwriter who has worked respectively with Ashanti, Mary J. Blige, and R.Kelly. How was it like collaborating with him?
B.C. Anthony is a legend. He is so well respected, and everything he’s ever done for us turned out to be incredible. In such a short time, we gained such respect for him from seeing how great his ideas are and how he understood what sound we were going for right away.
V.B. Do you guys write your own songs as well? What would you say is your most interesting, memorable, or important song, and why?
B.C. We collaborate on all of our songs. It could start with an idea Spee, Brendan, Mike, or Paul has, and our production team will help us mold the songs - or the other way around. It’s always good to have another set of ears helping make our songs monsters! "Blame Me" and "Hello/Goodbye" are our favourites to play live, because they have a lot of energy to us.
V.B. Being educated to perform and learn instrument use in university or professional training, would you say the programs are really worth the money? Do you think you can tell the difference in mainstream artists who haven't acquired that same knowledge or training?
B.C. An education in music is always good to have under your belt. It definitely applies to what we’re doing, and is a big help with songwriting. On the other hand, Brendan and Paul took the approach of playing live and on recordings as much as possible. Just gaining experience could also help. (Experience and playing) can both bring you to the music world, even though they also both have their pros and cons.
V.B. I would describe your sound as a delicate recipe of R&B, soft rock, and pop. How about you?
B.C. We agree with that! The band molded from a more hard rock background, so we still try to bring the rock aspect into pop.
V.B. Inspired by 90s musicians like Michael Jackson and BSB, what's your take on 90s music? Was the music better or worse than it is now? What's your fave 90s song or song from any decade?
B.C. I think it was much more organic and natural than music now. Grunge was huge in the 90s; it was nothing but raw rockin’ tunes. Now, production has moved quickly with technology, and it really shows in the music being released now. Some stuff from the 90s we like are BSB, Michael Jackson, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime, Primus, etc.
V.B. BSB's Howie Dorough and 3Deep's CJ Huyer co-produced your album. How was it like having a major influence of your's guiding and propelling your musical career to that extent?
B.C. They’re the back bone to everything we do. They run a management company called 3Street Management. Because of their management, they’ve gotten us to where we are today.
V.B. How do you feel about Americans (i.e. BSB) bringing in the Canadian (you, CJ Huyer) flavour? Do you believe it's less patriotic as a country or more harmonic as a world to do that? Can you notice the similarities and differences between Canadian and American music - production, sound, or media wise, etc.?
B.C. I think there are a lot of similarities in the sound, since so many Canadians and American are collaborating together now. I think Canada has had a good boost lately with Justin Bieber and Drake putting us on the map. The help from Americans on their work makes it what it is.
V.B. What would you be doing, if you weren't in a band?
Mike: In school, getting my law degree
Brendan: Something in fashion or skateboarding..not very well
Paul: Acting or working another way in the music biz
V.B. What's coming up for you guys?
B.C. Hopefully our own headlining tour and a full length album in November!
Thursday, June 9, 2011
The wait is “Over” for The Brilliance’s highly anticipated release “All I’ve Ever Known,” a 5-song compilation telling stories about love and loss in no particular order. With a sound reminiscent of The Beatles, The Brilliance belts out their heartbreak in the hit single (and soon to be music video) “It’s Over.” Despite the assertive high notes and rockin’ guitar solos, the vibe maintains optimistic and confident throughout the EP. Like in “I Can Fly,” where the band softly serenades us with lyrics such as these: “I can fly but tonight I’m going to walk with you.” And in the inspirational tune “Weight of the World,” where they cry “don’t let the weight of the world drag you down.” Let’s not forget the more romantic “Around the Earth,” where the beginning’s slower tempo quickly progresses into a racing rhythm, running while “search(ing)” for your love around the earth.” And finally, the album-titled “All I’ve Ever Known” promises an equilibrium of old and new rock, raspier and delicate vocals, as well as more guitar solos and words of wisdom. You can purchase The Brilliance’s EP “All I’ve Ever Known” at ITunes from Apple.
V.B. What have you done differently from this EP than the last?
T.B. When recording this EP, we paid more attention to the quality of the recordings as well as the use of production and engineering, to a greater degree. Our simplistic artwork for the album ultimately compliments the sound of our band much better that our last EP. As a band, we have found our "sound" and are very proud of this accomplishment.
V.B. What are your fave and least fave songs on this EP, and why?
T.B. Funny you should ask, because we all have different answers! Gary's fave songs are "Weight of the World" and "All I've Ever Known."AJ's is "Around the Earth." Jay's is " I Can Fly." Bret's is "It's Over." So I guess we would all have different answers for our least favourite (laughs).
V.B. Any last words? What’s coming up next?
T.B. We are in the writing process - as we speak - and working on putting together our first full -length album (for January-ish). A music video is being shot, starting June 13th for the song "It's Over," which will hit radio and maybe MuchMusic this summer!
Suave men's magazine GQ paints their sound in alliteration, attributing it as a “Strokes-caliber catchiness." Women's fashion publication Elle describes one album as “a smart, furiously played sugar-rush debut." Finally, legendary music reporters Rolling Stone crowns them “poised to become the biggest Canadian export since Molson." Of course, they're all talking about the Tokyo Police Club, who consists of the following: Greg Alsop (drums), Josh Hook (guitar), David Monks (vocals, bass) and Graham Wright (keys/percussion). Hailing from Newmarket, Ontario - the wholesome town up north also relished for bringing up Jim Carrey - the band scores big city (and country) success, releasing an EP (2006's A Lesson In Crime) and a debut album (2008’s Elephant Shell) in barely 2 years time. Breakneck Speed came shortly there after. Let's not forget their musical performances on The Late Show With David Letterman and The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. Or their acting performances on an episode from the hit show Desperate Housewives (remember that group playing against the husbands of Wisteria Lane at a bar show)? Fast forward to 2011, and their single "Wait Up (Boots of Danger)" is up for a "Muchfact Indie Video of the Year." Over a week before the MuchMusic Video Awards, Graham Wright gave me some deets in our exclusive phone interview.
V.B. So, you guys were born and raised in Newmarket, Ontario?
V.B. How did you get started?
G.W. We were all friends, and we all loved music, so we thought - why don't we start a band?
V.B. Your debut EP is titled after one of your songs "A Lesson in Crime." Any particular reason why you called it that?
G.W. It's actually a song about the mafia, and yes, we realized that after we (ironically) named our band (The Tokyo Police Club). We liked the title of that song, so we used it as the title for our album.
V.B. Many of your songs have interesting names i.e. "Favourite Food," "Favourite Colour," "Frankenstein," etc.
G.W. Songs have meanings - deep or shallow - whether you intend to give them meanings or not. Alot of factors influence a song's meaning. Dave (the singer) writes the songs, but I'm not content in asking him. You wanna draw your own meaning from it. The experience is so much more valuable that way. Everyone can identify with the song in a different way (from their own experiences), even just based on the title.
V.B. So then, how do you find the muse to write?
G.W. We don't write alot. It's impossible to pin down what our muse is, because when we try to chase a muse down, it backfires. You have to somehow position yourself to take advantage of that opportunity, but not in the sense that it's a job by itself. If we get together and jam everyday...
V.B. Why was the song "Not Sick" most difficult to create?
G.W. It was actually easy to write but difficult to record. It was more of a technical reason, really. The groove of the song was really precise, and when we played it live, there was this different energy that made the song better. When we were in the recording studio though, you need to bring that feeling back without it being there. The instruments and timing have to be in sync.
V.B. Your debut full-length album is titled Elephant Shell. Does this title metaphorically represent you coming out of your shells as a band?
G.W. We picked "Elephant Shell" as our title, because it doesn't mean anything. There is no known instance where the words "Elephant" and "Shell" are put together. So if someone says it now, we know they're referring to our album, and that takes on a whole new meaning.
V.B. You guys have travelled extensively for a few world tours. You've visited big cities as well, including Toronto, LA, NYC, and San Francisco. What have you learned about those towns that you would've never expected?
G.W. We go into cities one at a time, sometimes 12 hours at a time. Even if you visit the same city twice, you will go to different venues in different seasons of the year. So, you will learn something new every time you go.
V.B. You've appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. And when were you on Desperate Housewives? How was it like filming and meeting all these celebrities?
G.W. Crazy! TV is a whole different world, vibe, language - from our's, in terms of music. The lighting guys were talking about lighting, and we couldn't understand a single word they were saying. We just thought - when we talk about music, it's the same thing. We have our own lingo. We met Letterman; we shook his hand. We didn't meet Ferguson; we performed on his show, though. We could've met him, but then we had to make our flight. We hung out with Paul Shay though who is actually a fellow Canadian from Thunder Bay, Ontario. We met all the men who played the husbands on Desperate Housewives; they were interested in our being a band. We were too afraid to approach any of the women (laughs).
V.B. Publications like GQ, Elle, and Rolling Stone have described you in a very elegant way. How would you most creatively sum up your band in words?
G.W. I'd rather leave the descriptions to those (who write for a living). I'm so close to our band that I cannot objectively describe and sum it up. Every verse or song has a different vibe. (Who knows) what was happening in my life when I wrote it? Maybe I could use the terms "pop music" to describe it, because hopefully, it's at least part of a long, beautiful 3 minutes (length of a song) in your life. It could mean something to you even when you were a teenager.
V.B. You were nominated for "Muchfact Indie Video of the Year" for your single "Wait Up (Boots of Danger)." How do you feel about that?
G.W. It's great! I'm happy that Mike Juno, the director, gets credit for this award. He's still getting started, and this is a way for him to get even more recognition. He did a great job. For someone who hasn't done that many music videos, this is a great honour.
V.B. Any last words?
G.W. Happy Listening, everybody! We're taking a little vacation right now. We may write some songs over the summer that will hopefully be released in 2012 - early 2012 (laughs). Have fun, and hang out!
Monday, June 6, 2011
Being honourably mentioned in the same sentence with "electro-rap," "pop," "Gwen Stefani," "Robyn," and "Outkast," Tasha Schumann and Icon The Anomali a.k.a. Candy Coated Killahz prove that candy isn't always so simple and sweet. In fact, ever since the band's 2007 birth, some of their ear candy has tasted quite bitter and sticky. Not that their music is bitter or sticky, but the subject matter can be: Candy Coated Killahz' debut hit "Playboy," a tale about the modern day Casanova, made a splash with not only their album It Factor and label HotSteam Records, but with Tyler Perry's blockbuster film I Can Do Bad All By Myself and many North American television series. Their latest track "Neon Black" - a song that allegedly "explores the darker, glitchier, and most epic regions of pop music" - has been nominated for the MuchMusic Video Awards' "Post Production of the Year," running against music videos from other Canadian icons like K'Naan, Danny Fernandes, and Belly. Here, Tasha answers some of my most random and exciting questions.
V.B. So, how did you come up with the name ("Candy Coated Killahz")? Would you say you seem sweet at first but once someone tries to bite into you and get a real taste, you can be quite bitter?
T.S. The name was a lyric from the first song we ever wrote together. In the track, we were using the phrase to describe ourselves. We didn’t even know each other very well yet, but it seemed like we were so similar, and that phrase really summed us up as people and artists. We’re misfits - fun-loving but dark at the same time, just like our music.
V.B. What's your fave candy?
T.S. (Laughs). Is it weird that we don’t even really eat candy? Icon eats cookies like they’re going outta style, but that’s about it.
V.B. Being a guy/girl duo, what gender issues come out to play? Is it hard staying friends with the opposite sex? Do you guys give each other love advice?
T.S. I don’t think we even really see each other as the opposite sex anymore. By large, we’re not interested in typical gender roles anyways. I mean, we have a female executive producer who holds her own in a room full of guys, and we feel comfortable talking or writing about basically any subject together. Along with our DJ and writing partner Danthrax, we all just like to work on music and hang out. When we get together and really lose ourselves in what we love doing, gender plays no role.
V.B. You've worked with a ton of mainstream artists, including Pitbull and TPain. Who has inspired you the most in real life, and why?
T.S. Anyone who does something well and strives for perfection is inspiring, and everyone we’ve performed with or worked with excels at something different. But I think we haven't met the people who inspire us most as artists yet. That short list would definitely include Michael Jackson, Christopher Nolan, Cee-Lo Green, and Outkast.
V.B. Apparently, at one of your warehouse shows, the police became involved and escorted out fans due to noise complaints. Please paint us a picture of your typical and/or most untamed performance(s).
T.S. Our live shows are sweaty, and there’s lots of dancing (laughs). They’re like big parties where everyone gets involved. It’s not about us so much as it’s about people coming together and just having fun. At one show, we were performing a cover of “I Like To Move It” and thought it would be a good idea to invite a few people on stage to dance with us. (Laughs). That totally backfired. Basically, the ENTIRE crowd tried to get on stage with us - to the point where we couldn’t even see each other anymore! The DJ gear was getting bumped, and people were going nuts. It became so awesome that we just went with it, and as soon as the song was over, it took us a good 5 mins to get everyone off the stage!
V.B. Every artist or band has a unique characteristic that separates them from the competition, a characteristic that is often deemed abnormal or inappropriate. What would you say made you rebellious in your music and/or non-music life?
T.S. For us, I think it’s a juxtaposition of opposites. We are kind of dark, morbid people. But, we also love party music at the same time and live on that line between the two worlds, whether they'd be in music, fashion, movies, or everyday life. As soon as people think they have us figured out, we flip the script and never get comfy in any one genre, style, or place. We’re cultural nomads.
V.B. Tasha, considering the rarity of female producers in this industry, do you ever feel subjected to some bias or prejudice with your professional colleagues or clients?
T.S. I think people don’t believe that I’m actually the producer...like the Wizard of Oz, they wanna know whose really behind the curtain tweaking the nobs. But I think when people meet me, they realize pretty quickly that I’m always wearing the pants (laughs). And at that point, what I do in the studio is compelling enough, so people don’t care if I’m a girl, guy, or whatever. They just want to work together.
V.B. You guys have an iPhone game set to be released this year. Please tell me more about this.
T.S. We wanted a game that our fans would actually have fun playing and would be cool even to people who’d never heard of us before. So we came up with a concept that’s pretty universal, but also showcases our music and the cities we love. It’s a huge undertaking for us, because we’re 100% involved in everything. For the iPhone game, Icon is the lead visual artist working with the programmers to make sure the game is what we want it to be.
V.B. Your first single was titled "Playboy." Who do you believe is the best Playboy, and why?
T.S. Playboys are pretty douchey (laughs)! Hugh Hefner’s probably the best at it, but I don’t think any of us would aspire to be like that. The irony is that Icon is so NOT a Playboy, but it’s fun for us to experiment with different personalities when we’re writing songs, just to get out of our own head space and jump into someone else’s life for a bit.
V.B. Any last words? What's next?
T.S. There’s so much on the way! We’re filming the video for our next single “Light Up This City” in a few days, making our Red Carpet debut at the 2011 MuchMusic Video Awards (MMVAs – watch us live in the US on Fuse TV and in Canada on MuchMusic!). Our album comes out on July 5; we’re also working on a mixtape we’d like to put out online by the end of the summer. So we’ve kind of hit the ground running this year - and have no plans of slowing down!