Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stories coming soon...

1. X Parallel (former industry rapper turns into an anonymous "secret" rapper.)
2. Annie Eve interview (British solo act)
3. Backslashes and Bad Ideas (new Staten Island band)
4. Omnia (jazz/folk group)
5. CiG album review (Staten Island rapper releasing first album in 5 years)
6. EMC Record label (New Staten Island production and label)

3 Story Pitches

Yet again I am writing for my journalism class. I have to take three of my story pitches and explain why I am doing them.

Local Music

The first story pitch I propose is the local music scene as stated previously. As far as an objective, it is to reach out to as many bands, artists, musicians, etc as I can. It is my hope that I can generate a buzz or some good press around these artists' and maybe they can return the favor.

My wish is to create a web of journalism connecting me to as much local music as I can. I want to be "the" guy when it comes to an authority of the Staten Island music scene. In that way I can "monopolize" myself of sorts. I enjoy what I'm doing and I've met some awesome and talented people along the way.

The news elements of this are:
1. It's local, and serves the community.
2. It can impact the music scene.
3. Music is important to a lot of people.

My reporting methods will stay the same. I do interviews either in person or through email. Sometimes I observe the band live, or just do a question and answer, and other times I make it a story.

This is obviously relevant to Online Journalism because I can reach people through a network of websites like: Facebook, Twitter, Email, and even on here.

Commentary Correlations Between Music and Journalism

Much like I did on my last couple posts, I compared the similarities between the two. I can continue to press on the issue of them being competitive fields, and the importance of making a brand.

The idea of making a brand out of yourself is very important if you plan to make it anywhere. Everyone needs to be an expert at their specific field in order to be taken serious. I am slowly working on my brand, and would go through the process of explaining it as I go.

The news elements of this are:
1. Its relevancy to the working world.
2. It is always timely because everyone is always looking for a job.
3. The impact could be great if enough people did the right things.

Reporting methods would be self evaluations and internet researches. I can interview people who have successfully created a brand for themselves. 

Online journalism would be prominent here because it is the way of the future. It is where everything is heading, and pretty soon it will be the only way to the communicate.

Being in a Band and the Band Perspective

This is pretty simple. I'll document what it's like being in a band, and maybe analyze performances or the mind set and process of being in a band.

I figure I could use my experiences as an artist performing for the last two years and provide insight on how it is to be in a band. It takes a lot of dedication, hard work, and sacrifice to get where you need to be, and I'm not even famous.

The news elements are perhaps it may be a cool human interest story. It could also have social context among people in my age group looking to aspire for something.

Reporting methods would be unconventional because it would come from me. Then again, this is a blog so that kind of reporting is allowed. I would have to figure out a way to make my opinion matter to people.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why is Twitter important?

This is a question I used to struggle with. Twitter is so boring and dull, why does everyone need one? Why do people care what I am doing? Two answer both those questions: 1. Not everyone needs one. For example the people who Tweet their lives. "Just woke up... went to bathroom..." No one cares. 2. People don't care what I'm doing... sometimes.

To further explain, Twitter is essential for anybody trying to be a somebody. Look at celebrity Twitters, they have millions of followers. Why? Because people care about famous people. Everyone wants to be involved in someone else's business, and we all put it out there anyway.

So who needs a Twitter? If you are a journalist, writer, musician, painter, w.e.- Twitter can be something that jump starts your career. If you start to build a following, and people start spreading your Twitter, you may have caught fire. It is the perfect quick and easy way to plug your work whether it be article or new song. Just post a link, and say "check it out".

I thought Twitter was something to annoy me throughout the day seeing all these crazy good-for-nothing statuses, but now I see it as something better. I Tweet every article and Blog I write. I Tweet my band, and follow other people from Staten Island. My hope is that they check out the page, like what they see and follow back. Ultimately that is a quick and easy way to network. It's a link to your catalog of works, or links to something you have in common with your followers. It's a powerful tool if you use it wisely. Give it a shot.

Follow my band -
Follow me-

Monday, September 20, 2010

Staten Island Based Rap Trio, "The Higher Concept"

IB, Tekst, Matty J (left to right)

New York City is known as the birth place of hip-hop, with underground and old school legends hailing from all over Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. However, Staten Island has its fair share of legendary lyricists as well- the WU-Tang Clan. The WU are/were some heavy hitting emcees and producers coming together to form rap the way it should be- raw, gritty, emotional, thought provoking. The mastermind creators of the "Shaolin World" over came obstacles and hard living to create a legacy on this Island that will be tough to follow. Yet here we are today, on an Island filled with a decent amount of good rappers. So to anyone who doubts Staten Island's place in hip hop history, don't sleep on us. The vision was laid by the WU, and portrayed on their records. Now their concepts are pushing forward to the future of lyricists who just want to be heard. The Higher Concept is this future, bringing back the fresh feel to a genre desperately needed a face lift.

Here's an interview with The Higher Concept. Answers are from IB Profyn with collaborative help from Tekst and Matty J.

Where did the name "The Higher Concept" come from?
The Higher Concept came from our obsession with hidden meanings within our music. We knew our music was going to have a strong message when we formed the group and we also knew we were conceptual writers. Mix that with our recreational habits and we got (THC) The Higher Concept, a name that works on many levels. It was Matty J and IB who came up with the official name in '03 in the Syracuse University dorms. I remember we really wanted an acronym and when we landed on THC, we knew we had the perfect fit.

How did you guys form? Did you know each other, or was it by chance?
The story of our music goes all the way back to High School. J. Glaze (our feature producer) and I spent hundreds of days after school working on a rap/comedy album to play for friends. It was filled with tons of rapping inside jokes and Glaze was just getting his feet wet on the production side of things. The next year we linked up with Tekst, an old friend. He had a real grasp of the underground hip hop movement that was starting to gain momentum in 2000. With his guidance, Glaze and I, wrapped our heads around the real hip hop culture for the first time. Learning there was more out there than guns, drugs, and woman to rap about, I found that I could start writing about things that were actually relative to my everyday life. I didn't have to make up raps about shooting people or having sex with the most girls. This push turned rapping from a joke and hobby to something I really wanted to be involved in and take seriously. Songs like 'Scapegoat' by Atmosphere and 'No Regrets' by Aesop Rock changed my life. I wanted to make songs that inspired people like those.

Senior year of high school consisted of after school time spent in Glaze's mom’s apartment working on a “real” album. We named the group Manifest Destiny and released an 18 song album by the end of the year. All three of us knew we wanted to follow this career path so we went off in three different directions to meet as many people as we could and make as many connections as possible. Tekst went to Wagner College in Staten Island. Glaze went to University of Maryland, and I went to Syracuse University. I met Matty J on the second day of college. He was placed two doors down from me in the freshman dorms and we hit it off instantly. I had met his roommate the day before and he told me that Matty was a rapper. We hit the ground running, recording a track that very first night on his Labtek microphone into his computer. Throughout the semester, Matty and I had been sending tracks to Tekst in Staten and Glaze in Maryland. They were both feeling Matty's style so over winter break, even though I was out of town with my family, Matty went down to Maryland to meet Tekst and Glaze. After that it was a wrap (pun intended). The group was formed with Glaze at the time, as an official 4th member. He even rapped two verses on our first album, Figure It Out. As we grew and started working with other producers it was only practical to cut the group down to the three MC's, even though Glaze is still a big part of what we do.
What draws you to hip-hop and have you ever engaged in any other styles of music? In the beginning it was an attraction to a new and different culture than I was used to. I got into rap listening to a lot of west coast gangsta rap. It was the first genre of hip hop I was exposed to. I discovered all the different genre's of music and realized that there were rappers out there covering subject topics I could actually relate to, a switch flipped and I knew I wanted to be making that kind of relatable music for the rest of my life.
Did you ever feel like a rock star performing? Why?
I try to feel like a rock star every time I step on stage. Every little thing you do while performing is analyzed by your audience. You should treat every crowd even if its twenty people like one hundred thousand people. I try to give as much energy as possible during all my performances. If the crowd reacts, it makes you feel like a rock star. I’d say my main rock star experience was this past year opening up for Kid Cudi at The Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. We were set up backstage with our own dressing room, a bottle of vodka and a thirty rack of beer. After the show we walked the two blocks to the after party and within two minutes of being in the place, I had been bought shots and drinks from three or four different people. It was pretty wild.
Honestly, have you ever been booed off stage or had a really bad experience live? When you’re playing the type of venues we have been for the past six years it's very easy to have a “bad experience” live. Most of these bars with their makeshift sound systems don't really allow for a great live experience because of the sound. We have definitely had a ton of issues with sound at our shows. It's the worst when fans can't hear our lyrics because when we play without a band, our lyrics are the only captivating thing about our performance.

As far as us being booed off the stage, that has never happened. The closest instance was probably back in 05 or 06 when we did our first show on Staten Island. There was a girl in the back of the concert hall that yelled “your not black” after we finished our first song. It was funny to us, and a reminder that most of the general populace still associates hip hop with gangster rap alone.

Usually it’s the other way around. We get on stage and see people pointing and snickering and joking with their friends about us, but once we get off stage, they are the first ones to come up and tell us how surprised they were by how good our show was
What's the biggest venue and biggest crowd THC has played to?
Our biggest venue to date would definitely be the Eastern Michigan University convocation center where we opened up for Nas in '09. There are 40,000+ seats there although maybe half of them were filled up for our Nas show. We've also played The Michigan Theater to a sold out crowd of 1,700. The Country Club in Syracuse opening up for Method Man in 07 probably had close to a 1,000 people there, and The Highline Ballroom in NYC opening up for pop sensations LMFAO had close to 600 people in attendance.

Give me a list of all your achievements and successes.
To date we have released four official albums and three official mixtapes under “The Projectivity Movement”. We made the Canadian college radio charts back in 2008 with The Lookout EP. Other than that, there are not too many crazy accolades to speak of but the list of artists we've opened up for and worked with is pretty extensive: Method Man, Nas, Kid Cudi, Fergie, Sean Kingston, LMFAO, Afroman, Inspectah Dec, KRS-One, DJ Kool Herc, and many more.

My favorite success to date came at a show we played three years ago in Connecticut. There were only about twenty people in the crowd but we performed our hearts out and gave a great performance. After the show I was approached by DJ Tony Tone. The original DJ for one of the first hip hop groups ever, the Cold Crush Brothers. We exchanged info and we've been working together ever since. He has introduced us to the likes of KRS, Kool Herc, and Double Trouble (from Wildstyle).

Are there any cool stories behind your emcee names?
IB goes way back to 9th grade. It would take way to long to explain it but the “I” and “B” comes from another nickname I had growing up with my friends which was Ibus. From Ibus I came up with IB Profyn and the whole Musical Medication thing.
Tekst (pronounced 'text') was always just a tag I used when I would write graffiti. As I got more into the music it seemed to make sense to use as an emcee name based on what I was writing about and what I wanted to present about myself." - Tekst

Matty J has been my nickname since I was in middle school, and there's no hidden meaning. What you see is what you get!" - Matty J

Where do you feel the state of hip-hop is now? Where would you like to see it go?
Hip Hop now is in a much better place than it has been for a long time. I love how things are moving towards a more conscious style of music with live instruments being used for beat making. Artists such as B.O.B. and Lupe Fiasco who discuss real issues and have very intelligent lyrics are getting bigger and bigger. Rap fans have started to get tired of the, I’m the most gangsta dude out here so you should buy my records mentality. We also have more of a meshing of genre's in popular hip hop music these days. Hip hop has merged with R&B, pop music, and even rock music to encompass any and all types of music. In the future I believe we will see hip hop becoming more genre classified like what happened with Jazz music after its popularity died down.

Hip Hop was started as a means to keep gang members off the streets and get them dancing and having a good time. Hip hop is returning to that vibe by becoming much more dance party oriented.

Top 5 greatest rappers dead or alive?
IB: *Disclaimer* these are my top 5 favorite rappers, if you had asked me who my top 5 best MC's were, KRS would be #1 on the list without a doubt-
1. Slug
2. Common
3. Gift of Gab
4. Chali 2na
5. Nas

Tekst: I’ll base this answer on a combination of my favorite artists but also judging them all on ability to perform live along with the album material and everything else. In no real order -
Tailb Kweli
Method man

Matty J: These are my top 5 favorite artists, which is a different list from my best lyricist, best rapper, and also my best emcee list. No order, except that Black Thought is #1-

Black Thought
Talib Kweli
Phonte (of Little Brother)
Slug (of Atmosphere)

Does THC freestyle?
Does THC freestyle? Yes
Does THC freestyle well? Not exactly…

Being in this game for this long it’s been impossible not to dabble in freestyling. When you’re doing tons of shows, there will always come a point where you forget a lyric or something goes wrong and it’s imperative to freestyle to save the set. In those cases I think we thrive because of our skills as emcees. We've been doing it so long that we know how to move and control a crowd. We also try to visit Sin Sin in NYC once every couple months to work on our freestyles. Every Monday night in the city at Sin Sin ( 5th St. & 2nd Ave) they have a live band jamming into the wee hours of the night. emcees line up to freestyle and pass the mic all night long. It's a great environment to practice your freestyles as everyone shows love regardless of talent.

I read about the Projectivity Movement. Pitch it to me in a nutshell. Why is it important, and how do you become involved?
The Projectivity Movement is a collection of musicians, artists, teachers, designers, promoters, and generally good people working together to help expose each others work and passions. There is no business structure or organization, just people working together to help promote each others product, show, music, art, etc. It is a volunteer based thing. Recently the movement has been focusing on educating kids in the music engineering/production field. Currently members are helping to promote after school programs, workshops, events, and more. will be up soon to really showcase what we have done and what we are about. The Higher Concept is really only one small group of artists within the entire collective that is Projectivity.

On a strictly musical basis, The Projectivity Movement is our record label. We signed to The Orchard for our distribution and release music under The Projectivity Movement LLC. Our roster of releases currently consists of The Higher Concept, Michel Aubertin, A Tree of Crows, J. Glaze, and Emilio Sparks.

Why should people listen to "The Higher Concept"? -You should listen to The Higher Concept when you need a breath of fresh air, musically speaking. -You should listen to The Higher Concept if you want to be cheered up when times are tough.
-You should listen to The Higher Concept when the sun is shining and Life's Good.
-You should listen to The Higher Concept when you need somebody to relate to.
-You should listen to The Higher Concept because we make music specifically for YOU.

I think The Higher Concept brings a new sound to a game that has been lacking in freshness for some time. We make feel good music with a positive message and there aren't too many groups doing what we do. The majority of our fans are not hip hop fans; they are people who appreciate good music. I often hear comments about our music like “I don’t normally listen to rap, but you guys are great.” I think we bring a new image to a culture dominated by guns, drugs, and misogyny. We will make you think twice about your perceptions of rap music.

Most groups that make music in our genre ignore or abhor the commercialized version of the genre so much that they refuse to analyze the better qualities of commercial rap music and so their message or lyrics, though they may be great, get lost because the production quality isn't up to par. We mix a strong message and a feel good attitude with more modern and poppy production so you get the best of both worlds.

Plug anything you want here: albums, websites, music videos, shows, blogs, etc. check out all of our albums for purchase here - Http://
check out all of our free downloads here -
check out all of our video content here -
Our website is
Twitter is Http://
myspace is
facebook is
to download our newest album for free -

Friday, September 17, 2010

Local Band Woods of Arden are Looking to Turn Heads with a CD Release Party Nov 12

I met with Mike Gambino and Jordan Wolfson of Woods of Arden at Fenix Studios with Terri Caputo. Not only were they a great interview, but they also offered helpful insight to musicians in a young band. Thanks guys for being so cool, and I hope to play some shows with you soon. The following article will be in Broken Records Magazine due out later this month.

Woods of Arden Play a CD Release Show at the Gramercy Theater for Nov. 12

Wood’s of Arden is:

Alex Kostov- Vocals
Mario Traina- Lead Guitar
Greg Gioia- Rhythm Guitar
Jordan Wolfson- Bass
Mike Gambino- Drums

The members of Staten Island rock band, Woods of Arden, are ready to take it to the next level with their new EP Short Fuse Dynamite. This is the 3rd EP by the band and it opens up strong with the driven “Over the Line. The haunting vocal harmonies in “Crazy” convey a large amount of emotion from vocalist Alex and the acoustic guitars complement his lower range tremendously. “Goodbye” changes the feel up a bit with an array of effects and has a dance feel to the verses. The last fifteen seconds of the record allow drummer Mike to show off his chops, sending off Short Fuse Dynamite with a bang.

To celebrate what drummer Mike says is “The band’s best and most proud of recordings yet,” WOA will be having their CD release party November 12 at the Gramercy Theater hosted by Playing along with WOA and also hooking them up with the sweet venue is fellow S.I. rockers, Dead
Men Dreaming. Also playing will be 40 Below Summer, and With Daggers Drawn.

Although the Gramercy Theater won’t be the biggest venue capacity wise for WOA, they realize the importance and the possible positive repercussions of this show. Mike and Jordan spoke about this being their biggest chance to get noticed, and to make significant progress on the band front. But Jordan keeps it in stride saying, “Success is perspective.” Meaning everyone’s perceptions of being successful is different. They obviously wouldn’t mind some fame, but as long as their music is getting spread to a
wider audience they’ll be happy.

Woods of Arden describes their sound as heavily 90’s rock influenced. Think of the grungy elements of the Stone Temple Pilots and the more alternative side of Foo Fighters.

Some of the band’s accomplishments include a packed out performance at Webster Hall for Emergenza in front of 3,000 people in 2006. WOA also has two other EP’s, the Woods of Arden EP, and the 3P EP.
So what does the future hold for Woods of Arden? Jordan says, “Playing more shows out of state and building a bigger following.” Mike says “A lot more time recording, and continuing to take it to the next level. We are there already, but we can push further.”

Woods of Arden will also be playing their first show for Meany Fest at the Delancy September 24.
Hopefully after November 12, Woods of Arden can finally break through into an industry they worked so hard to reach.

Woods of Arden can be reached at the following websites.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Journalism and Music Vs. the Internet

Ah. the Internet and it's mighty expanses. When will it's powerful grip of everything we know cease to exist? The answer: never. I'm pretty sure it's here to stay, and it will only grow bigger by the day like the universe.

So what is today's topic? Well I posted it above, and yes it was brought about by my Online Journalism Class again. As usual I'm going to put my little musical twist on it and tie it all together.

The key thing to remember in all this is that the world is changing everyday, and with the changing of the world come the changing of technology. That is a lot of "changing" in one sentence, but it proves a point. With the advancement of the Internets role on our daily lives we see just how important or reliable it has become. What are some things we use it for? We use it to check our email, check our social networks, update us on the weather or the news, play games, and listen to and download music. The best thing about this is that it's mostly free! Why do we need anything else if it is in front of our fingertips in seconds and it's free? This is why so many "old style" media publications and organizations are going out of business. This is why a multi-million dollar band like Metallica has to sue Napster for copyright infringement. What do you think it feels like to pour your heart and soul and countless dollars into something and then watch it be given away for free to millions of people without you seeing a single penny? I'm just assuming here but, it must suck!

Journalism and the music industry are two of the hardest fields to break into. Lucky for me, they are the two career choices I chose and they are the only thing I'm good at... With that being said National newspapers that have been around for close to a century are flopping and cutting down on production. Journalists are being laid off left and right because now they once specialized field can be written about by a soccer mom. Also the expense to run a publication is forcing them to fire people as well. Newspaper and magazine sales are down and so is advertising. The little guy is completely cut out, and now editors are forced to work with three writers on staff who also dabble in other things. It's a little upsetting walk into the Advance on Monday morning and see more empty desks than ones being used to work on stories.

On the music front, from what I hear is there no longer is any money to be made in music unless you're a total superstar. How many CD's have you purchased this year as compared to the last couple of years? It's not even necessary anymore. You can download an album for free on Limewire, or buy a CD used off of Amazon. I've even listened to whole albums off of Youtube. Most artists now-a-days make a ton of money off of ringtones for the cellphone. I know back in 06, rapper Chamillionaire, became the all time top selling artist in ringtones with his one hit wonder song "Ridin' Dirty". I'm sure by now it has been passed. The point is, in both fields we are all guilty of succumbing to these methods. But don't feel bad about it, I don't have any money and love free things too! There has to be some way to come up with something to serve both the user and the creator a happy medium of a solution.

One thing I can do is try on my own. As a musician and a journalist, I know the competitiveness of both fields. I know in what ways they are struggling and the problems faced in both industries. The only immediate answer I have is to keep doing what I'm doing. By linking both of my passions together maybe one of them will get picked up first and drag the other along. You have to be proficient in many fields and all aspects of those fields. Be sure to be able to do a little bit of everything, and you can never go wrong.

On campus CSI interviews of students asking two questions:
1. Where do you get your news?
2. Do you think the Internet changes Journalism?

Jenna Lynn
1. I get my news from the USA news packet that gets sent to WSIA. I also occasionally read the Advance.
2. The Internet is free and easy, of course.

1. CNN on TV.
2. Online ruins everything. Email stopped letters from being written. Kindle stops books from being read and everything is on the computer. I won't be surprised to see if kids don't know what books are in the future.

Melinda Rhodes
1. The Daily Show and the Colbert Report.
2. I prefer the change. I don't read the paper. but I'll run through an article online and read it that way.

So that's it readers, I'll talk to you all soon!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Objective #5, Stay True to Your Goals and be Yourself

It is always important to set goals no matter what your endeavor may be. As a writer you should strive to always put out the best work possible. Most importantly write how you would want to read yourself. Put some confidence into your writing, and be sure to know what you are writing about. Reading a blog or an article littered with errors or no factual information makes you lose credibility. The worst thing to be is a joke.

On the music end, stick true to your guts. Don't "sell out" in the sense of making top 40 hit music unless that is your genre. If you are a metal band who sees Lady Gaga on TV, don't become a dance/pop group. Stay true to yourself. If you decide to sway into a different direction of music be sure to have something about it sound distinctly like you. If not, be prepared to explain yourself in detail. My bands new album coming out is very different from the first one, but when you hear it there is no doubt it's Process of Fusion.

I'm in a rock/rap band, we play rock/rap music. I write a music blog, so I write about music. Stick to your guns, and do what you love. Don't let anyone try to change you, and don't change because it's not popular.

This concludes my 5 part Journalism Project series. More interviews coming soon.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Objective #4, Be Different, Get Discovered

It sounds so easy, "Hey guys, lets get discovered!" Or how about, "Lets get a manager, then we'll really make it."

Both of these, as wishful as they may be, are not true. All serious jobs require hard work- music is no different. No matter what field, no matter where you live, there is always someone better or higher up than you. Everybody and everything is in a total competition. A lot of bands, as good as they might be, have it engrained in their minds that their music will get them fame. Just because you are the best band in your town, doesn't mean anyone outside of it will think that way. I have a friend who played High School basketball. He was the best player I have ever seen, and was never outmatched by anyone. When he made it to college he made the team, but he was the twelfth man on the bench. Yeah, my friend was upset, but he understood. There are so many people that can do what you do. Even if you apply yourself and work the hardest, unfortunately nothing could happen.

I know so far this sounds depressing, but don't worry I'll get to some light in a bit. For any musicians reading, do a test. Go to Myspace music search and type in the style of music you play. Now look at the thousands of bands that come up. Next click on where it says unsigned, and look at the thousands there. Talk about competition huh? Here is where you can take it to the next level. Click on a few of the top ones. Check them out, listen to their music, look at the page design. What do they have that you can do better? What do they have that you can't do better? Take some notes. What do you like, what don't you like? Bring these things to attention next time you meet with your band. Strive to beat it. How do you think we learn in the first place? We see someone else do it first. Take what you observe as the ground work of what you want to be.

I can equate the same thing to writing. To be a good writer you need to first read. Read about things that you are interested in writing about. To be a sports writer, read sports columns. To be a music reviewer, read reviews. And to be a blogger, read some blogs. Blogging and journalistic writing can be two different things. If I'm blogging, I'm having a conversation with using my speaking my voice. I can say "I" and "me" with no fear because this is a personal talk. When writing something for the Advance or if I'm reviewing a band, it has to be professional. You can't refer to yourself, or any past experience. You state the facts, and keep it to a formulaic pattern of: intro, body, closing.

Just like music, blogs have their fair share of competition, perhaps more too. Anybody can blog. You don't even have to know how to complete a sentence to log into here and start mashing buttons. What makes my blog different or better than anyone else's? For one, it's my target audience. I didn't have the goal of setting out to interview Linkin Park and Jay-Z. My goal was simple and small, lets do Staten Island. Go ahead, go Google search for blogs about Staten Island music. You will find mine and Ben Johnson's of the Advance. I don't have much to worry about. Start small and build a big reputation with that, and then see what big things come your way. Find something specific and home in on it like I talked about in post #2 on "Branding".

Recently I've been thinking about hosting events under the blog. I've also been trying to contact charities and organizations to get the band involved with them. If you could attach your name to something and do work for a good cause, that sets you off from a whole group of people. It's easy to garner community support if you support the community.

Be different, stand out, and always try your hardest whether an audience of one or ten thousand.

This has been part 4 of 5 for my online journalism class. 5 will be out tomorrow night to wrap up the series.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Objective #3, Leave Your Comfort Zone

If there's one thing I've learned interning at the Advance is sometimes you got to get uncomfortable. You can't be afraid to get your hands dirty. You have to claw and dig, and then claw and dig some more to draw the answers out. If you don't like making phone calls, too bad. If you are bad at interviews or a little scared, too bad. You have to learn to suck it up, or find a new profession. These are a few things that I still have a hard time with. It's like I'm petrofied of picking up the phone and calling someone. Usually once I get started it becomes easy. I relate this experience to the severe stage fright I used to have.

I used to be the kid who stood in the back of the choir during plays. I never had any speaking parts. When I became a musician I was a drummer, and was fine hanging out in the back. Then I got thrust to the front of the stage as a front man. This is a big difference. I was expected to sing or to rap, and most importantly convey a sense of confidence with my delivery. I can't go up there and look scared. I remember the first time up there I figured I had two choices: 1. Say nothing and look like a fool or 2. Get up there and say something. When the pressure was on, I'm glad I made the right choice.

Now what does this have to do with anything? What does this have to do with my previous posts? Well here it is- if you are trying to build a network or a brand, it's going to take some risk. Like I said the Cup closed (apparently it's re-opening which kills one of my ideas), my best shows were in that building. Why? It's because I had a familiar crowd, and familiar stage. The Cup was like home court for a sports team. Everybody plays better for their fans. What I wish is I can bring that same energy to an unknown place in front of people I have never seen before. It's a work in progress, but I believe with practice and a little courage, I can get there some day.

From a music journalist stand point, you can't be afraid to approach a band or artist. I'll email every band on this Island if I have to. You have to keep your options open, and you have to aggressively go after the info you want. If you are in a band and you are playing unfamiliar territory, make sure you go out after the show and shake a few hands. Introduce yourself, make a good impression. Make at least one person remember you for more than just your performance. Like I said last post, you keep bothering people until you bother the right one.

Someone asked me, "How do you get to interview so many bands?" My answer is simple, I ask. I send them an email or a message. Why wouldn't they want the free press? The only thing I ask in return is to help spread the word about the blog. Some cool bands or artists I've written about are: Stereofix, Elevaters, Analog Dive, Furthermore, and Carnival of Souls. Some of these have played in front of 10,000 people plus. Stereofix and Elevaters have been on HBO and MTV. Furthermore was on Tooth & Nail. And why did they get where they are, because they weren't afraid to step out their comfort zone.

This is part 3 out of 5 for my journalism project. Keep reading for part 4 tomorrow.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Objective #2, Networking and Making a Brand Out of Yourself

I can't stress enough the importance of building a network of opportunity for yourself. It's what the journalism world calls "branding". Don't worry it's not taking hot iron and marking cattle, it's a lot simpler. To brand yourself is to give other people expectations of what to expect from you. It's the expectation of anything, like Microsoft is known for computers. MTV is known for music and reality shows. Branding yourself will make you an authority or aficionado for what you do. My brand, or one I'm aiming for, is local music. Building on that foundation I'd like to add: a good interviewer, a trusted source for music information, and a writer who goes all out for a story. What is your brand? What are you doing to help yourself standout?

In the competitive world of music and journalism, it's important to have an edge. Now-a-days anything can be done online. There are thousands of music blogs, there are thousands of bands on Myspace. Why should anybody pay any mind to you?

This is something I've been learning in my classes and in trying to market my band and blog to a wider audience. You have to go above and beyond. To those of you reading this that are annoyed and hassled by my constant Facebook attack of links- I'm sorry. I am just trying to extend my reach.

A serious musician or writer has to have a grasp of every social network possible. You need a Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress/Blogger, Reverbnation account, email, etc. You have to be compatible to that medium just in case you can grab one extra person. I'm not saying it's easy because it's not. It actually is quite time consuming. But that's the price to pay if you want it bad enough, and honestly that still may not be enough.

The way I see it, as long as I can get my work out there and maybe help or encourage some along the way, I'll feel accomplished. But a good feeling is like a temporary high because it doesn't pay the bills. So for the time being I'll keep annoying my Facebook friends in hopes of bothering the right one.

This is part two in my journalism project. Part 3 will be out tomorrow. Let me know how you'll build your brand.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Objective #1, the Local Music Scene

My allegiance will always be to the hard working musicians and artists that unfortunately go unnoticed on this Island. I am in the same boat myself and have frequently tasted the frustration in performing to a crowd of ourselves. With that being said, it is more important than ever before to bring awareness to keep this from happening. In almost three years of performing live, and about a year interviewing and searching for bands, I've come to the conclusion that the only way to truly go above and beyond is with the help of friends.

By constantly interviewing and working to expand my network, I found the ability to make connections. For example: Gerard Ucelli, a promoter, got my band a photo shoot for a magazine called Broken Records Magazine. After the photo shoot I pitched the idea of writing a story about a local guy running a magazine out of S.I. to my editor at the Advance. He okayed the story, so I interviewed owner, Scott Vollweiler. Scott in turn was very grateful and in turn "owed" me a favor of sorts (not that I asked or expected one). Scott came to my bands show at the Greenbelt and "fell in love" with our music. He wanted to become our manager and sign us as the first band to his label "Broken Records Management". Now he's using his connects in the music industry to help us out.

That is the beauty of this business. Unfortunately it is difficult to get anywhere on your own anymore. It's all about who you know, so the only work you can do is just be nice. Lend a helping hand to a stranger and don't expect anything back. Unless they are total jerks, more than likely they will pay it forward.

So what does all this mean? It means THROW EVERYTHING AT ME! I'm here, I owe it to the scene. It is my way of giving back to all the bands that have supported me, and to "monopolize" or "brand" myself as an authority for local music. I am searching for the same goals as the hungry who want it. If we all do it together maybe one can get there. Then they can look back, and pay it forward...

This is part of my class blog for "Online Journalism". I'm trying my best to keep both relevant to each other. Give me a comment and let me know what you think. Part 2 will be out tomorrow "Networking".

Friday, September 3, 2010

Where are they now? A blast from the past with "Furthermore" one of my first inspirations

The early 2000's proved to be a crazy time of change for me musically. This was before I played the drums, before I was in a band, and before I ever scribbled lyrics in a note book. Prior to this, as a child I would jam out to made up tunes on my little karaoke recorder. I used to freestyle songs off the top of my head. Most of them were terrible, and most of them were rehashed versions or part two's of actual songs. I would even go as far as making the guitar and drum noises with my mouth. But alas, I digress. Today I offer you an interview of someone who greatly helped transform my conceptions of music- Daniel Fischer of the former Furthermore.

Back in 2000 all I listened to honestly was top 40 pop. I danced around to and sang N*SYNC, Britney Spears, Ricky Martin, New Kids on the Block, etc. Yeah I know, I know, pretty lame. But hey, I was like eleven or twelve, what did I know? Prior to that, I had only listened to Christian artists like dc Talk (my first inspiration), Newsboys, and Audio Adrenaline. My friend Joe (practically a brother to me) started introducing me to new music. I received my first rock albums: Lifehouse, P.O.D., Linkin Park, MxPx, and then this peculiar group, Furthermore.

Furthermore was a three piece rap group on Tooth & Nail Records consisting of Fischer (rap vocals and production), Pepe Lee (singing vocals), and DJ Jason (dj and background vocals). To describe Furthermore is difficult. Fischer makes reference in a song and calls the style "pop rap". I guess that's the closest thing to it. The first album was called, "Flourescent Jellyfish" and released in 1999. The album features an eclectic dose of hard hitting rap vocals, pop choruses, and scratchable rock mixes. It is truly an underrated and phenomenal hip-hop album. The first single from that album was, "Are You the Walrus?", and although you may not get it, there is no doubt you'll be singing along with it.

(Furthermore's Are you the Walrus?)

After the initial success of "Flourescent Jellyfish" it was time for Furthermore to release a second album. On April 23, 2002, they released "Sheandi" or "She and I". The new record saw the departure of DJ Jason from the band, which is how it got its name. Fischer and Lee powered on and put out an album that is a solid and enjoyable listen from beginning to end. Lyrically, this album cuts more into a storytelling experience with a consistent concept of "love" at hand. The album is a bit more poppy from the first one, but no less powerful as it changes from fun loving lyrics to a more serious tone.

("Letters to Myself" off of Sheandi)

Overall Furthermore was an amazing group that disbanded sometime in the mid 2000's. I have to admit, I wouldn't be the type of musician/lyricist I am today without ever hearing these guys. Furthermore, thank you for rocking my stereo! Below is the interview with front man Daniel Fisher.

Band Guy- Who are you? What do you do? Why do you do it?
DF- My name is Daniel, I make beats and sometimes rap/sing.

BG- What artists/bands are you influenced by, and did you aspire to be any of them?
DF- I’m yet another kid who lived through/was influenced by the golden era of hip-hop, although I always liked early waver stuff such as OMD, ABC, The Smiths, etc. as well.

BG- When did you start getting serious about music, and what were your first projects?
DF- I used to record songs tape deck to tape deck in junior high, but my first real group was called the Numbs (Utah hip hop group still around today), we released an album in 1995.

BG- Tell me about Furthermore. How'd you start, where'd the name come from, what was it like, why'd you end?
DF- Another member of the Numbs and I left the group and started Furthermore in 1997. We split the following year and Furthermore became just me for the most part with help from my friend Jason and Pepe (who did some singing on a number of songs and managed the band). Pepe actually named the band by opening a book and pointing at a word with her eyes closed.

BG- What was it like being on Tooth & Nail and did you get to work with people you were big fans of?
DF- I never heard of anyone on Tooth and Nail except for MxPx when I was signed. It was a great experience and I enjoyed touring with a number of bands.

BG- "Melted Vinyl" is one of my favorite songs ever. Why did you write it and why is it so awesome? (The song is a crazy rap about Marvel super heroes that even non comic fans would enjoy.)
DF- The song was originally a Numbs song, although I added two more verses and reworked the beat a little. I was really into collecting comics and action figures at the time. I also loved watching the X-Men Saturday morning cartoon in the early 90’s when the song was written (1st verse that is).

(Listen to "Melted Vinyl in all of its awesomeness)

BG- Are there ever going to be any Furthermore reunions and do you still have a big fan base?
DF- I have no idea how big a fan base Furthermore had, and it is very doubtful a reunion will occur.

BG- Did you always make beats and produce or is that something you picked up after Furthermore?
DF- I made all the beats on the Furthermore albums (Jason co-produced one of the songs on Fluorescent Jellyfish) and Barry Poynter helped polish and add some live elements to them. I’ve put a lot of focus into producing more so than rapping over the years.

BG- Do you still perform live or are you strictly doing studio stuff?
DF- I’m in a band called Rotten Musicians and we have performed locally a handful of times in the last few years. Everything else thus far has been “studio stuff”.

BG- What's the song writing process like for you?
DF- I dig for records, find a little nugget that excites me, sample, add to, rework then write to it or give it to someone that I think would fit it better.

BG- What is your biggest rock star moment? What's your biggest failure moment?
DF- A rock star/failure combo moment was when a couple of girls came to a show wearing home made Furthermore shirts. I was never the best at small talk or being social so it was a little awkward talking with them after the show. They ended up hanging out with the boys of All Wound Up whom I was touring with at the time.

BG- Where do you think hip-hop is going or maybe just music in general?
DF- I have no idea.

BG- Anything else you want me to know? What can we expect for the future?
DF- Lately, I’ve been doing production for a couple of local rapper: Mark Dago (of Numbs/Rotten Musicians) solo album ‘Self High Five’ and Dusk One (of Mindstate) 3 song demo ‘The Brady Effect’
I’m also working with a couple of local singers including Michael Gross (of Michael Gross and the Statuettes).

Contact Daniel at any of these sites listen below or click here to go the Tooth & Nail page.

Myspace Music Pages - solo - beats and production - group Rotten Musicians - side studio project, Julio Child (great album by the way)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A new project, and more posting

Hey everyone I know you're not used to postings on back to back days but I have another project. This blog was originally created for an online writing class that I took. I enjoyed maintaining the blog so much that I made it my hobby and something to hopefully jump start future endeavors. Now a semester later I'm in an online journalism class where we have to maintain a blog again. I'm going to use this blog as my project and keep the same themes going. One of my main focuses for the project will be on how bands handle the aftermath of losing a safe haven like the Cup which just closed on the 31st. (Read my previous post to find out the importance of a local "home court" type venue). I want to see if bands start to push their limits to venture out into a music world unfamiliar to them. Do these bands have what it takes? Will some of these bands die? I don't know yet, but that's what I intend to find out. I want to also continue my local music interviews and incorporate meaningful experiences about the project. In addition to these two ideas I'd like to see my non local interviews grow, and maybe I can ask them if they had their own "Cup" when they first started out. I'll add my own insight on things from time because I'm a musician as well as a music journalist, critic, etc. I can't wait to dive into this project, and see how I can possibly help put Staten Island on the map for something other than garbage and bad tans...

Aspire, Inspire, Expire- the Last Show at the Cup and What it Means

The moment of clarity is upon me...
It is now that I realize...
I am awake
Where lies my fate...
- Moment of Clarity (Process of Fusion)

Sweaty, hot, humid, claustrophobic, a capacity crowd in too small of a room- emotions, love, tears, memories of some of the best days past.

It's where some got their start, and a place where some came to listen.

While still others dreamed of bigger things, and some to not be taken so serious.... This is the Cup.

Ten amazing, talented, frequenters of the Cup, set to close out the Cup in style with one more jolt of passion:

Misery Loves Company, Backslashes and Bad Ideas, Rise With the Fallen, Spread the Rumor, the Threads, Julius C, Process of Fusion, Every Night Drive, It's Not Over, and Through the Year.

This isn't a blog post necessarily about the show. I can honestly say that if you weren't there, the scene can not be described to you. This is more of my personal reaction to the night and a rallying call to my fellow bands or music lovers.

Every Night Drive's huge Crowd.
Photo Credit Alexa DeMaio

(Dedicated to everyone in a band that has ever played the Cup, and any fan who has paid money to see a few non-professionals play.) Thank You

This is the place that my band (and countless others) have called home. POF has only been playing the Cup for a little over two years, but in that time lasting friendships, bonds, and countless moments have been engraved in my memory.

I remember my first show at the Cup as I'm sure you do. I remember seeing the Corrao Q, Julius C, and another friend's band, Mophead. I was still drumming in my basement with Pat, and making crappy cassette recordings of terrible songs. "The Cup man, if we could just play the Cup, we'd be so legit." I remember feeling that way. It's not possible to be a band and not play the Cup, it's what you have to do. It's a funny thought, because many people couldn't stand it and are glad that it closed.

To me, that's irrational thinking. Where else could you get on a show so easily? You didn't have to sell tickets, you didn't have to travel to the city, and there was no pressure to perform. Have you ever been booed out of the Cup? Have you ever been told that you can not play your music there? No. The Cup was that perfect place to just show up and play. Anybody could do it, whether most talented or talentless. It gave you that shot, it gave you that chance to build a local fan base, and most importantly it gave us starving musicians a place to play.

I've played shows in many different places and I have fun looking back, but there is nothing that hits me quite like POF's Cd release show, or the power and emotion that was left on the stage by everyone the 31st.

Ten bands played on August 31st, and they left it all on stage. It was an actual opportunity to play like it was the last show of your life, and for some, maybe it was.

Yes, I understand the Cup closing could be a blessing in disguise, but at the same time you can never have it to fall back on. With the Cup being gone, the bands that "want it bad" will move on and find shows elsewhere. But it's very hard to get all your fans to travel to Jersey or Manhattan etc. That's the way music works though, go somewhere else and make new fans... it sounds so simple. Be prepared to start all over again. The last show at the Cup had about 200 people there (give or take). How's it going to feel going into some club and playing in front of five people?

Here comes the adjustment period, and the "good" bands will make it. The ones who are passionate enough to do whatever it takes, will make it, and that's awesome. Just don't forget where you came from. Don't forget the seemingly lazy promoting of a cup show that still insured about 40 to 50 people. Bands, it's time to work. Everyone thinks music is dead on Staten Island, the Cup being gone is another shot in the arm. But let's roll with the punches, let's do it together. Let's show Staten Island, we are here!

Me crowd surfing, it was awesome.
Photo Credit: Scott Vollweiler

Josh Cronopulos of Backslashes and Bad Ideas, smashed his guitar at the end of his set.
Photo Credit: Alexa DeMaio

We all have aspirations and dreams. We all want to achieve something great with our lives. For me personally, I want to leave my fingerprint on this world. I want to touch lives through music and give those same experiences back that I've felt listening to a favorite CD. Some aspire to be rich and famous, and that's fine. Just be sure to have a goal. Two of my musical dreams were to play the Cup, (got to do about 30 times or so) and put on a great show like Every Night Drive after I played with them for the first time. (Thanks E.N.D. for some motivation!)

Inspiration is a two way street. You can either be inspired or inspire something. Both of these things happened on the 31st. I was actually inspired by the amazing crowd. I felt the raw energy, I felt the need to step up, I felt important. I was so overwhelmed with happiness from the time "Misery Loves Company" played up until the end of "Every Night Drive" when I realized my "band heroes" where playing their last song. E.N.D. you guys have inspired almost every band and fan you've played in front of. Spread the Rumor, you ladies inspire other girls you play in front of and let them know it's okay to rock with the boys. Rose from my band and Kate from Rise with the Fallen, you girls too! Be a person of influence. When we finished our set someone told Dylan, that he inspired them to be a better guitar player. That's so cool.

All good things come to an end. The Cup is closed, deal with it, move on, but never forget all the good times. Be proud of everything you have ever accomplished in it. Someone at the show told me that we could be the next Every Night Drive. At first I was flattered, but now as I think about it I will disagree. I don't want to be Every Night Drive, I want to be Process of Fusion. I don't want to see another Through the Year, another It's Not Over, another Backslashes and Bad Ideas, I want everyone to be who they are as I'm sure they feel. The only thing I wish to take from Every Night Drive is the ability to inspire and humbly take people under their wings. The Cup has expired, E.N.D. has expired, what will you do?

I put the "Moment of Clarity" quote up top because it rang true for me last night. When I said "I got inspired by the crowd", it really happened. I had a moment where I knew that music is something I will do for the rest of my life. I have to, I must do it, and I won't stop until something happens. As I became choked up at the end of the night (I must admit, I cried) in thinking about all the wonderful people I have met because of the Cup. I thought about all the love that was in the room, and the sweaty hugs and handshakes. I thought about how we may never all be in the same room together again. I began to think that no matter how bad I want music to be my life, my life may not be music. That's life, and we'll see where it takes us all. So to the Cup, RIP. If you do open up again in a few months it won't be the same.

Thank you to everyone who came out on the 31st, thank you to Manny for putting together such a wonderful show and being a big brother to me. Thank you to every band I have ever had the privilege to share the stage with. And thank you to the countless friends and fans for their continued support of local music and for always making us musicians feel needed.

Manny of Every Night Drive, mastermind behind the whole night. Music won't be the same without you.
Photo Credit: Alexa DeMaio

If you share any different views on the night or would just like to share any memories you've had at the Cup please comment the blog. I may take a handful of the comments and make another story out of them. All of the bands mentioned above have Myspace and Facebook so look them up, you won't be disappointed. If you have any other thoughts, questions, blog ideas- email me at

Nick Cardona of Through the Year... only because he's banana's. Photo Credit: Alexa DeMaio