Thursday, October 28, 2010

Using Audio to Enhance a Story

In today's age journalism is easier than ever before. With that being said, it's also why it is harder than ever to break in. A person with a normal cell phone could become a reporter instantly even if they have no prior experience. For example: if you are at a crime scene- pull out your phone and record some video, or record the audio of someone speaking. Now that you have it, upload it to the web and anyone can see it. There you have it, you just became a "reporter".

And while that story does seem to hold truth in it, it's a little skewed. Obviously everyone knows a real reporter when they see one. Also if you took people in plain clothes, and secretly had some journalists mixed in, at the end of an interview you'd know the professional. But is that necessarily true? I'd say so for the most part, but on the other hand, technology allows us to do some amazing things.

A journalist has to be prepared at all costs for the simple fact that anyone can now do his job. With cell phones, iPhones, iPods, iPads, cameras, etc. there are so many ways to nab a story. Of course you can always distinguish the writer of the bunch, but even that is not necessary because many interviews are done live on camera.

So what is it that will make your written story more complete? The answer is anything! Anything that you put aside from the written work online is a bonus. Story enhancers can be anything from a cool snapshot, to an audio clip or video, or even a Tweet. These are the things that will distinguish the "men from the boys" (hate that term).

Last Tuesday I had an opportunity to interview UK pop/indie band Graffiti6. They performed live at Black Shack Burger in Manhattan, and I was there to record some video and record my interview. Unfortunately because of my lack of technology and a little confused preparation the interview on film did not come out so well. However the song came out well, so here it is-

This was a cool experience that could have been even better had I captured the interview on some good audio. I guess I've learned my lesson, and now know what I have to do. Funny thing is two days later, I had a chance to interview artists Noah, and Wu Tangs Killa Bees- Shyheim and Prodigal Sunn. This interview was amazing and I was able to capture it on audio and video mainly because the room was quiet.(This will be up later today).

So that's it for now, enjoy the video.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Interview with Jamie Scott of Graffiti6

Lead singer Jamie Scott of Graffiti6.
Photo Credit:
UK pop/indie band Graffiti6 took a trip overseas to promote their new single "Stare into the Sun" off of their upcoming album COLOURS, set to hit shelves in America the latter half of 2011.

Already featured in Grey's Anatomy's season premiere on September 23rd, "Stare into the Sun" is promising to be a smash single. Another track from COLOURS, "Annie You Save Me" was played on the show Covert Affairs September 14th. "Stare into the Sun" has also been featured in ad campaigns for Heineken Beer and UK newspaper, the Sun.

"Stare into the Sun" single, album cover.
Photo Credit:
Gaining critical acclaim by England's famed newspaper, the Guardian, calling them "New band of the day," the band looks to spread that acclaim to the States and wherever else their music can be heard.

Graffiti6 consists of: Jamie Scott, a singer/songwriter/actor who has opened up with Kelly Clarkson and Alicia Keys, and TommyD, a producer and DJ who has worked with countless acts in the industry like Kanye West and Jay-Z.

TommyD and Jamie Scott.
Photo Credit:

The two of them initially paired together for collaborative purposes after a recommendation. After a period of fun experimentation they realized there was something more. Having a love for more folksy music, classic pop, and funk; the two combined their talents for a hybrid of sound not reached by many. Scott described the music as "Psychadelical northern folk with rock influence." So save your comparisons because the album ranges from the soft tones of Maroon 5 to a hip-hop techno infused beats with more aggressive vocals over it.

Scott tells about getting the name Graffiti6 by simply opening a book and picking the first two words his fingers touched. "It worked out great because now we have all of this artwork to go with the name."

When asked about G6's reception differences between America and the UK Scott says, "The U.S. surprisingly embraced it, and in Europe everywhere we went was packed." Scott says Graffiti6 will do well in America because of the success of older folk artists like James Taylor and Neil Young. He also goes on to say that the difference between the music scenes in the two countries is "the UK is very clique." He says, "The United States is more free for a small channel of music. There is so much diversity, I love being out here."

First American show for Graffiti6.
Scott responds to accolades like the Guardian and Grey's Anatomy with "It's really wicked. We have a good synch team. We put our heart into this record, and people loved it. It shows that we were right about our music."

So what lies next in the immediate future for Graffiti6? We are going to be starting our European tour, and then we are coming back in January to conquer America!" he exclaimed. "But seriously, we have a passion to come to America and play," he said. Another goal of theirs is to headline a tour in America. Out here they have only been an opening act, while in Europe and Asia, they are selling out on a headlining tour.

So be on the lookout for Graffiti6, as they try to "conquer" America and become the next big thing.

Video for "Stare into the Sun"

Check them out at

Sunday, October 24, 2010

KT Tunstall Rocks Out with the P.S. 22 Chorus

(Story as it appeared in the Staten Island Advance on October 11th. All photos by Scott Vollweiler of Broken Records Magazine)

KT Tunstall

Through the aging corridors of P.S. 22 lies one of Staten Island's best kept secrets, the Chorus of P.S. 22.
At 4 P.M. on Friday October 8, singer/songwriter KT Tunstall arrived at P.S. 22, Graniteville. Walking into the auditorium there was a loud roar from the students leading Tunstall to raise her guitar in celebration.
Led by music teacher Gregg Breinberg, the choir of fifth graders are one of the most talented spectacles one can find on the Island. Their dedication and hard work create an aura of excitement as their angelic voices reverberate across the room.
Breinberg, or Mr. B, as they call him, sits behind a piano and pans out the tunes as he passionately conducts and sings along. After every song, he stops to tell the children what they need to work on, and who is doing outstanding. As a teacher he is sure to constantly encourage the kids and treat them as equals to one another.

Greg Breinberg, music teacher.
The 5th graders of 22 have gotten to work with some of music's top acts such as: Common, Tori Amos, Queen Latifah, Celtic Women, Matisyahu, and countless others. Today was KT Tunstall's turn to witness the sensation.
In seemingly flawless pitch and harmony the students dug into "Imagine" by John Lennon, with as much gusto and joy as Lennon had intended it to have. The children then joined together in unison dancing on rhythm, and doing hand motions.
Tunstall, looking quite impressed, was now ready to play two of her songs off her new album Tiger Suit. The kids had rehearsed the two tracks ahead of time, and were now playing them along side of Tunstall.
The singer moved into the aisle so she can have the children surround her. Then rather beautifully she started to belt out in a booming, yet delicate voice, the beginning of her song "Still a Weirdo".
On certain phrases of the verse and on the chorus the choir chimed in and added a layer of harmony taking the song to the next level. Tunstall and the children went through the song about five times with each time getting better. Mr. B kept pointing out weak spots in the song after each take until it was perfect. All the while he remained smiling and the kids remained eager to excel.

After seeing how the kids operated as a group, Tunstall knew how to work with them. For the next song, she improvised a little, added suggestion, and helped the students get it right. This song was her new single "Fade like a Shadow".
Mr. B was a little unsure of how the song would come about because they hadn't practiced it too much. Never-the-less, they nailed it after much trial and error. During some of the more frustrating parts of going over the song, Tunstall made sure to joke and laugh with the kids. She genuinely looked like she was having fun, and seemed to bond with the kids.
At around 5:30 p.m. it was time for the parents to pick up their kids. But before each student left, Tunstall made sure to give every student a signed CD and poster, as well as meet and take pictures with the kids. Tunstall answered all of the fifth graders' questions, and was sure to have a smile on her face.
Overall the experience of this day was only open to that class. There wasn't a flood of paparazzi and press there to distract form the mission. She was able to be a regular person doing a good deed. The practice performance was very intimate and sure to leave an impression on those youngsters’ lives.
Tunstall walked in humble and left even more humble.
"The kids sounded amazing, not one out of tune, this was an awesome experience."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reporting Plan for Journalism Project

Yes here we go again, back to my journalism project. I promise there are new stories coming, and I'll most likely put one up tonight.

Again, my project idea for my journalism class is to do a big investigative report about what bands are doing now that the Cup is gone. I want to find out which bands will still be there when the smoke clears... who wants it bad enough. It would be very easy to lay and die, or not venture out, But I believe you have to give everything a valid shot while you can.

My actual plan, is to interview and ask bands of different scenes, genres, and ages- what they do to help further themselves. Do they get shows off the island? Do they heavily promote their work? Do they care? I hope to answer these questions, and get a general sense on the how the Island feels about their music.

Another option I have is to talk to some of the fans and frequenters of the Cup and Staten Island bands. I can also rally the complaints of those who feel there is no places to play on the Island, and how everything is really dingy.

I plan on having actual sit down interviews, video commentary, pictures, and music. If it is very I can also show part of the Documentary that was made about the last show at the Cup. My main hope for this project is to invoke change and promote awareness. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How Crowd Sourcing and Data Basing Can Help Your Projects

Crowd Sourcing is when a journalist or whoever gets the opinion of a large group by having them do the work. It's almost like a focus group. The example used in class today was related to music. For example, say Linkin Park was playing the Garden. A reporter who wants to crowd source would ask everyone who went to that show to send him pictures, or videos, or comments, etc. The reporter will then take all of these differing items and archive them in a database thus completely a story with many different views or angles.

Data basing is important because it allows you to store all of this information proficiently and efficiently. Take every source of manager, band, labels, studios, whatever, and put them in a spread sheet. have all the numbers, emails, names all set out. Keep yourself organized and it will take you a mile.

Link to journalism class

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rapper CiG Drops New Mixtape "Back Against the Wall"

Album Cover
Staten Island emcee Chris "CiG" (click Advance story), released his newest CD Back Against the Wall digitally on in September. After 4 years of waiting, CiG is most proud of this new release and says "It's my best work to date. It's very versatile and everyone has a favorite. It's the story of my life broken down in an hour. Back Against the Wall is sure to have music fans of all styles bouncing and feeling the fun loving word play and head nodding beats.

The CD has something for all with songs reminiscing the past like "I Wanna Go Back" which talks about growing up in the 90's, and "What Are You Waiting For" talking about how he came into hip-hop. Songs like "Cigathin" and "Superfly" features the braggadocio that all rappers possess. The club bangers of the album include "The Greatest" which features the hottest hip-hop beat on the mixtape, and "The Anthem" with Mike Metaphor. However, the real focal point and driving force of Back Against the Wall are the songs that deal with the tough life of rapper CiG. Songs like "My Mother", "Milky Way", and "When You Come Home" convey the desperate sense of longing and emotion after the lose of someone you love. On these songs CiG leaves nothing hidden, and really digs deep into personal matters to provide a sense of healing for the lyricist.

Back Against the Wall is the therapy and release for a truly inspirational friend, brother, son, and artist. CiG gives you a complete picture of life starting from his past, entering into his good times, and finally ending with the trials of life.

So if you're looking for hip-hop with a twist of life mixed in with some feel good party tunes, Back Against the Wall surely won't disappoint.

This is CiG's third mixtape previously releasing Suburban Stories and Next in Line. He also released three CD's with former group Ghosttown.

For additional info on CiG read this interview from July...




Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Unidentified Industry Rapper, X Parallel

X Parallel

Frustrated by the music industry, and longing to expose his craft, rapper X Parallel is stepping out into uncharted territory.

Being shelved by his record label for almost two years, X grew increasingly impatient at the prospect of not releasing music. He decided it was time to take action. X dropped all ties to the mainstream industry world, and even created a new music world for himself. X set out to be a secret rapper by becoming anonymous.

Now here he is, sprouting up out of nowhere, all signs of the past gone. The music world doesn’t know who he is, and neither do most of his family and personal friends. Picking the moniker “X Parallel” really stands for “X” as in unknown, coming to form an “Unknown Parallel”.

“Trying to pitch the idea to record labels wasn’t very easy,” X states. However, Mike Russell of Say It Loud Records was listening, and gambled on an intriguing situation. After signing, X needed to find producers willing to work with him and work on his terms. X found Trae Sevn, and went to work on his debut mixtape The Symbol, released September 14 with the single “The Symbol”.

X said his hip-hop influences consist of some heavy hitter emcee legends like: Big Daddy Kane, KRS One, and Rakim. This is what makes X a breath of fresh air in the hip-hop community. Taking cue from his heroes, X is most proud of his storytelling ability and always conscious raps as an emcee. “Even though I am a different persona now, I’ve always being an intelligent rapper,” he says. X goes on to say “I’m even more underground now. I changed up the way I rhyme and my voice a little, but I’m still the same artist.”

X knows the challenges ahead of him in his quest for anonymity. Everyone move has to be planned out perfectly, but he says it keeps him on his game. X is all ready discussing plans to perform live with his team. “X Parallel is a way to push the creative envelope and share a story,” he says. “I have to convey my message without preaching. All eyes are on me and I have to deliver through my character.”

When asked how he thinks “X Parallel” will change the industry he replied, “Music is getting worse. The top 40 you hear is microwave fast food music. The underground is changing and conscious rap is rising.”

“What I had to do was out of necessity. I wish I could be out there and work it out, but it is not so. Now I have the Internet as my venue to focus my art. I’m independent and unidentified, hopefully that will create enough of an interest.”

First Single "The Symbol" Part 1

Official Website-

Friday, October 1, 2010

British Solo Artist "Annie Eve" Pushes Her Music to the States

From a few conversations and an interview, it was easy to see Annie Eve is no regular girl. At the age of 19 Annie embarked on a journey most wouldn't dream of, or even have enough courage to do on their own. This native of England decided her music was much bigger than the island she was on, and took a shot at fulfilling her dreams. Annie Eve was heading to America to show the rest of the world what she's got. Driven only by her passion and desire for her art, she believed in the music enough to take a chance. Going to a foreign country can be scary, but to come here to travel and explore on your own, is on a whole different level. However, there was only one objective in mind, music. Hopping from one open mic night to another, Annie made her way from New York to California. Although there was no official meeting, the interview was conducted over Facebook messages. here's the story...
Describe your music in a few words…
I always find it difficult to describe my own music, but I would say that it's an alternative kind of folk. I think it has an edge to it, me (haha). Whatever or whoever I am is in the music. So how it sounds and tastes, is me. Not sure if that makes sense.
Where did this passion/drive for music come from?
I dont know where exactly,but it was my brother who made me really want to learn guitar. He's just so good at it. I guess, from the moment I started I couldnt stop, there was no going back.
What inspires you to write music and describe the process of making a song?
Life, other music. Sometime when I’m moved by something, a person, a situation or some music it pushes me into the creative circle and a writing frenzy occurs. I remember the first time I heard "Don’t Think Twice" by Bob Dylan it completely changed me.
What kind of reception do you get in your hometown and the places you’ve played at?
In London I think it’s a little different. You don’t really go for each town, you kind of go for the whole thing. But I play a lot in Camden, and people are really supportive. I’ve met so many great musicians and promoters that are so into music. It's a great place to be.
Is coming to America exciting for you, and why do you feel it’s important to your “mission” as an aspiring singer/songwriter?
YES! I love the states. There’s more than one reason really. First because so many of my biggest inspirations are from America, for example: Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Jeff Buckley, Rilo Kiley, etc. Also because I've lived In London my whole life, and I really wanted to go someplace different and experience life in a different way. California was unreal, I've never felt so free in my life...
What is the biggest crowd you’ve ever played in front of? What about venue?
I'm not sure, maybe Birmingham's O2 arena. I won a competition that allowed me to play at both Eric Clapton’s and John Mayerss gig in the forum. Each shows had over 1000 people.

Do you have any other talents? Ex: Dancing, piano, writing, etc.
I dont know... I love to play the drums. Every now and then I write a short story or beginnings of a novel, but they never last... I dont have the attention span for it.
Would you ever consider playing with a band?
I actually have a band for my music now. It's mostly string players, double bass, cello, violin and a percussionist/vocalist. But yes, I've always wanted to be a guitarist in a kick ass band and rock out. A girl can dream (haha).
Describe your tour through America, and where did you go?
Loaded question... I stayed in NY and did some open mic nights while exploring. Then I went to Memphis and saw Beal Street, Stax Museum and Sun Studios. Next was Nashville, which was quite the experience. From there I coasted down from the north of California to the south. It was amazing. Out of everywhere, California was the best. You got these massive Red Wood trees, amazing beaches and diners with the best chocolate milkshakes. Doing open mic nights in America was something else, I loved it.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years as an artist?
I hope that I’m touring and traveling, touching people with my music, meeting other musicians and making some money. On the music side, I just want to have created some music that I and anybody could love.
What should we know about you and how can we contact you?
I’ve recorded a five track EP, which hasnt been released yet, and I’m currently writing, recording and gigging, If anyone wants to find out about gigs they're up on my Annie Eve page on facebook.!/annieevemusic?ref=ts

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