LP: Lost on You [album review]

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Lost on You dropped in May and I’ve probably memorized the lyrics on the LP from LP in their in entirety. In fact, this album is so good that even this review was only supposed to be 250 words – I COULD NOT BE CONTAINED.

LP’s unique sound comes from fusing elements of hardscrabble Americana with a modern pop sensibility, but it’s that voice that really will sell you on the brand before your mind has time to wrap itself around the subtle breaking of genre boundaries.

Frankly, her voice is flat-out fierce: pitch perfect and powerful. There’s something earthy and emotional in the timbre of her voice that tears you right down to the heartstrings. And, while she’s had quite the raging success in Europe since the May release of her new album, Lost on You, Americans have yet to catch on. Big fucking surprise. Listen, ‘Murika, I know you’re having a rough year, but get it together, already.

The album opens with “Muddy Waters” – setting a pensive tone. LP moves from pensive to playful on Lost on You, from joy to hurt; this album is an expansive expression of a really difficult year.

The title track reveals a bit of the backstory. Even though “Lost on You” comes in third in placement on the album, it serves as the crux for the album, or, at least, the impetus behind its creation. LP was coming out of one relationship and moving into a new one (ahem, with YabYum darling Lauren Ruth Ward). Lost on You provided her the space to transmogrify that trying emotional time into a collection of songs that will hit home with anyone whose been through the romantic ringer.

LP gained footing in the music industry by writing songs for other performers. Perhaps, you’ve heard this banger from Rihanna? Yep, that was LP. On Lost on You, you can hear some of those pop permutations a bit more clearly on tracks like “When We’re High” and “Up Against Me”

Ugh, this album is solid from start to finish. Every track is distinctive and maybe that’s why it’s so difficult to choose a favorite. I mean, that whistle on “Other People” before LP comes in with a falsetto hits me like a punch every time I hear it. But, truthfully, it’s probably “Tightrope” that holds my heart of hearts because it served as my very first introduction to the artist. And the song is also fucking amazing. In fact, I’m going to stick the video at the bottom of the article because it’s the internet and the single is just that good.

From the anthemic “Strange” to the somber closer, “Long Way to Go to Die”, Lost on You runs the gamut: despondent to inspired to resigned. This is one of those albums I expect to see on those Best Of lists come the end of the year… and not just in Europe!  You can score your own copy of Lost on You from LP here. Do it. Do it now.

 

An Insider’s Introduction: Gabe Kubanda [interview]

Gabe Kubanda 01
Photo courtesy of RaySquared Photography 

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Gabe Kubanda is a man of many talents. After earning his chops in a band, he broke out on his own to forge a solo path. And forge it he did.

In addition to pursuing his own musical path, Gabe Kubanda has been a guiding force for other musicians in his role with the Epic Proportions Tour. As co-founder of the entertainment enterprise, and one of its performers, Kubanda holds a unique perspective on music and the industry that surrounds it.

It’s amazing that Gabe Kubanda finds time to write new songs while chronically touring with EPT. This week he happens to be in Phoenix with a show at The Rebel Lounge and, what’s more, he took some time out of his schedule to chat about the Epic Proportions Tour, going full-time with the music-making, and where in the hell he finds time to pen new songs…

YabYum: So, tell us a little bit about the concept behind the Epic Proportions Tour?

Gabe Kubanda: The concept was borne out of the need for change in the music industry. I had started booking high school concerts with my old band in LA because we were tired of the cutthroat nature of the local bands, the pay-to-play schemes, and the backwards nature of the industry at the time. Music should be about sharing and caring, not just trying to step on others to get to the top.

So when Pete and I joined forces to create EPT, we started adding in other venues like military bases (he was in the Army) and colleges, places with built-in audiences. We wanted to give bands the same opportunity that we’re giving ourselves. It’s a cooperative effort; the bands work hard alongside me, and they gain the same exposure and benefits all the while having an unforgettable experience. If I’m coming up, I’m bringing others up with me, and that’s been my mantra from day one.

Now, you’re a performer in your own right. What first made you realize that you wanted to take music-making from hobby to full-time gig?

Yeah, I had been playing in garage bands and church bands since I was 17, back in Seattle, and had always wanted to take my music to the next level. When I turned 21, I moved down to LA with a buddy to go to music business school at UCLA, and started a few bands there. But I only started making a living playing music once I went solo, and I was already over 30 years old! So my “trajectory” is very non-traditional and frowned-upon in that sense. But I love making music and performing, and I thank my lucky stars every day for the opportunity to do what I love for a living.

It certainly looks like touring has taken you all around the globe. What are some favorite places that maybe you didn’t expect to see?

I never thought my music would take me outside of my West Coast bubble, much less to Australia or to Europe! Those were just such awesome experiences, and I met the greatest people. But, then again, I never expected to play Summerfest, or play in downtown Philly, or Kansas, and they were all super fun.

Any spots still on your bucket list that you’re still hoping to play?

Yes! I’d love to play Japan, play all over Europe, and South America as well.

How long ago did you form EPT? Did you expect to the undertaking to be as successful as its proven?

Pete and I formed EPT in 2011 after the demise of my old band, Letters Burning, and I had also just wrapped up taping that reality show: Rock N Roll Fantasy Camp on VH1 Classic. I remember being so scared to venture out on my own as a solo artist, to be onstage by myself, and my first show was an absolute trainwreck! But I was more scared of the thought of having to quit music altogether. In fact, my first solo EP is titled, Let’s See What Happens…, and my mentality was literally: “OK, throw this spaghetti on the wall, see if it sticks!”

It looks like quite a number of popular acts have jumped on the Epic Proportions Tour over the years, from Captain Squeegee to Halocene and a whole lot more. Is there an average tenure for a band on a tour with EPT?

It fluctuates, and we try to bring on as many new bands as possible, but we’ve had such a great time with so many of them that we take alumni bands out on the road quite often. A band could spend 3 weeks to 3 months with me on the road. You become family pretty quick!

Has your role on the business side of the industry changed your approach to music-making at all?

Yeah it really has. Running the tour is a double-edged sword. On one hand, I always have new fans to perform my music for, but I don’t have the flexibility that other artists get to be in the studio and focus on the actual creation of music. I’m driving the bus, TM’ing, dealing with all the logistics, booking, sponsor-liaising, and everything else. So I’m writing songs while driving the bus, humming lyrics and melodies into my iPhone. Then when I’m at a hotel or off-tour, I can kinda weed through the thousands of voice memos, and flesh them out.

So, do you pretty much live on tour?

Haha, it seems like that, and most of my friends assume that I’m just perpetually “gone”. I’m usually on the road 5 -7 months out of the year, but it’s like 3 weeks here, 2 months here, 3 months here, and there’s usually a month or 2 between each one, where I’m just buried in booking the next few tours, or working on new music. But right now, I’ve been home for a month, and I’m already jonesing for the next one!

Any lively tour moments really stand out for you?

So many! Getting to play Warped Tour alongside some of my idols was amazing, me and the Squeegee boys tazing each other in Texas, the tour bus breaking down almost every year on my birthday, our original school bus flipping over in Cali (and us all surviving, amazingly enough), getting to play with kangaroos in Australia, band members falling off stage, or passing out on-stage from the extreme heat, playing at Six Flags, and getting to ride all the roller coasters (even though I only ride the Batman ride, because I’m a scaredy cat!). Every tour is a crazy story because the unexpected always happens.

What’s next for The Epic Proportions Tour? Any upcoming plans?

We plan to expand to Europe very soon, and even South America. It’s been fun to see our crazy little tour branching off in ways we’d never thought possible! We’re also focusing more on our EduMusication arm, which brings us into the school classrooms to chat with the music students directly. That’s been the most rewarding thing: being able to inspire these kids to pursue their love of music and the arts, challenge them to follow their passions, and make a career out of doing what they love.

What about plans for your personal music endeavors?

I’ll be releasing some new music later this year which I’m really excited about, and have been honing my songwriting skills. I love writing songs for other people as well, so that’s something new I’ve been getting into, and I’ve been enjoying the collaborative effort again 🙂

~

Catch Gabe Kubanda live right here in Phoenix on July 14th (tomorrow) at The Rebel Lounge!! More information here.

For the Record: Levity by The SunPunchers

sunpunchers 01by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

The SunPunchers released their much-anticipated debut LP last month and I’ve been entrenched in Levity pretty regularly since then. There’s something about the band’s vintage sound that takes the listener back to a more hardscrabble time. So, the longer I listen to this album, the more stoic I become. Levity reminds me of the beauty in the struggle for honest and simple living.

From the start of the opening track, “Brown Metal Box”, the listener will realize they’re in for something special. The arrangements are subtly exquisite beneath a warm, front-porch veneer. “Screwtop Head”, one of my personal favorites, comes next with its haunting grace and ruminating lyricism.

In all honesty, every track on Levity is unique and enchanting. There are all these tender moments of aural beauty that sit nicely next to the wry, unflappable humor interwoven into the lyrics.

In keeping with the series, I had a chance to ask Betsy Ganz of The SunPunchers some questions about Levity, influences, what’s next for the band, and more. Check out our Q&A below, but first, maybe hit play while you’re reading…

Carly Schorman: So, to get us started, who are The (official) SunPunchers? And who else joined in for the recording of Levity?

Betsy Ganz: The official Sunpunchers are myself, Lindsay Cates, Dominic Armstrong and honorary member Jon Rauhouse. Great and giant thanks to the amazing musicians Jon Rauhouse, Robin Vining, Jeff Schnuck, Megyn Neff, Mike Wolfe, Aldy Montufar, and Rachel Ludeman who lent their mighty badassery to the record.

How did The SunPunchers first start playing together?

I started playing as a duo with a mandolin player named Jeff Schnuck and recorded an EP in 2013 and played with Lindsay Cates on bass, Jon Rauhouse on pedal steel and banjo when he was off tour, Henri Benard on drums and Fred Reyes on bass clarinet/alto sax. We met Dom when we were recording the record at 513 Recording and he was available moving forward.

The lyricism in this album is so vibrant, as is the instrumental arrangement. Just curious what the songwriting process is like for The SunPunchers? Do you work on songs together or do different band members assume different roles until you achieve your end?

I wrote the lyrics and melodies and had some of the instrumental parts layed out (see attached photo of road map). Jon Rauhouse came in and has this intuitive gift to create and play a part that cements the feel and intention of the song. Thanks forever to Jon and his sense of humor and practical advice.

Dominic, Lindsay and I improvised a lot in the studio- Dom is really good at production , helping to trim down or build up the song to reveal it’s essence. He played more than a few instruments himself to get to the heart of things and mixed the record with input from the band and Catherine Vericolli of 513 Recording. Lindsay improvised some bass hooks that are so unexpected and killer. She knew what she wanted to play and why and had a clear eye on the direction we were going.

There’s a vintage charm to the sound of The SunPunchers that I think contemporary listeners will really love. What musicians do you draw inspiration from to give shape to The SunPunchers’ sound? Does that list vary considerably from band-mate to band-mate?

In the middle of the Venn Diagram is John Prine, Tom Waits, Nina Simone, Lucinda Williams, Fleetwood Mac, Calexico, Neko Case, Feist, Gillian Welsh and Dave Rawlings, to name just a few.

I love the image that was used for the cover art on this album. Where did you find the artwork? (I hear it might be a thrift store find.)

Indeed! I found that etching in a thrift store on Mohave Ave. I took it apart and found that it was drawn in Germany in the early 1900s. The artist name and title is illegible, but beyond that we thank the thrift store goddesses for their generosity, and we hope to someday track the artist down. It’s an amazing image and captures the mood and feel of the record.

The SunPunchers hosts a weekly jam (and toast) session at The Lost Leaf. Can you clue in our readers as to what they might expect at Tuesday Toast?

We host Toast Tuesdays at The Lost Leaf every second Tuesday of the month starting around 9 PM. We invite and encourage singer songwriter’s to air out their new song undies in a safe environment, while we prepare and serve free Nutella Toast to the people! We received a sponsorship from Dave’s Killer Bread for this community building event and encourage everyone who shows up to donate new underwear/socks for the men and women of Circle the City, healthcare for the homeless.

Now, that the album is out, any plans for a short respite or are you right back to working on new material? I also hear the band will be participating in some fun festivals in the post-summer months.

Getting gigs on the books as we speak, and demo-ing new material. We’ll add dates as they are confirmed onto facebooktwitter, and insta.

~

9 Ways to Be Happier as an Artist

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

I can’t help noticing that it seems like a lot of people I know have been down in the dumps lately.

So many of the artists in my life seem overworked, underwaged, always tired, &/or battling the beasts of self-doubt and dejection. As a person who always dealt with the perils of depression, I’ve tried to shape out some important realizations that helped me along the way.

I also reached out to #TeamYabYum for some of their suggestions as well.

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(1) Stop comparing yourself to other people.

Let’s start with the obvious here… Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy” and boy-oh-boy was he right. Everyone is on their own path and that path is not necessarily linear. In fact, as an artist, you’re not even on a path. You should be forging a whole new way. You should be out there with the bulrushes and horny toads and that creepy, lurking thing you worry might be the workings of your own mind or it might really be following you. Both are scary and you don’t know which is more frightening.

To be an artist is like committing yourself to a religion in a way (albeit a distinctly different way). You just have to keep moving forward with blind faith that there is meaning in the journey. And, in no circumstance, should you turn your head away from where you are going to see where everyone else is. It will only distract you.

(2) Don’t Anchor Yourself to Depression

I know, I know… the artistic temperament and all that other bullshit we’ve been fed about suffering and depth of expression. But there is a serious issue with romanticizing the Artist’s Nature that has been a detriment to all of us for far too long.

I’ll admit it, depression and mania both carry their own creative force – even if it’s just channeling out the flurry in your brainspace. And, while they feel like they might fan the creative fires, they burn through creative minds. You can’t create art when you can’t get out bed in the morning. Or when you’re dead. If we continue to romanticize mental illness amongst artists, we will continue to lose artists to mental illness.

And, since were being totally honest here, anyone who tells you getting to the other side of depression (or mania) doesn’t impact your creative process is either lying to make the process appear easier at the start or someone who hasn’t really been through the proverbial ringer. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be a better artist once you get to the other side. I certainly feel that once I retrained myself to write without the reliance of manic urges or depressive purges (or drugs) I don’t honestly know what I thought was so special about my earlier work. Maybe it was all that bipolar grandiosity swirling around in my untidy mind that convinced me I could only produce in that state. Depression is, after all, a dirty filthy liar.

Fighting to get a handle on your depression is a worthy struggle. You might not get to the place where you control it, but you can get to a place where it can’t control you. And that, my friends, is a place worth checking out. It won’t be an easy journey, but you won’t lose yourself along the way. And you just might start to unearth some of the richer complexities of your own mind. That could do wonders for your work.

(3) Follow Your Instincts

This suggestion comes to us from Mitchell Hillman and I totally agree. As an artist, you should should trust your gut when pursuing new projects or new directions. Always be open to innovation, but also learn to trust the artistic impulses that drive your creativity.

You can always see what works and what doesn’t when you get to the revision stage (and, yes, there always should be a revision phase), but when new ideas pop up, it’s best to grab hold and run with them.

Some will work and some won’t but you won’t know until you try. And boldly following through on your (non-criminal) creative urges is the surest way to uncover your true voice.

(4) Learn to Take Criticism

This one comes from our infamous YabYucker Chris Nunley and I think it’s important advice for any artist. Part of being an artist is putting your work out for public scrutiny and that means exposing yourself to criticism or, worse, ridicule.

It’s sorta like asking someone out on a date… with a poem… that you have to read out loud… in front of everyone you’ve ever known or ever will know… while standing in your underwear. It can leave you feeling vulnerable.

And then the comments start coming in or crickets (which might be worse). The internet makes everyone feel like their opinion merits sharing and then there are ACTUAL CRITICS who might join the conversation.

There are different ways to navigate the tenuous waters of criticism to save you unnecessary hurt feelings. Here are the two I suggest:  (1) Use the constructive points of criticism to improve your work. Maybe someone will bring up some valuable critiques that you can use to make your next undertaking even better. If you don’t agree with the assessment, dismiss it outright. Fuck everyone else. (2) Totally ignore the criticism. Don’t read the comments. Know you put your best foot forward and you’ll keep striving to do even better next time. That’s really all you can do. Fuck everyone else.

(5) You Don’t Have to be a Hustler

We live in the era of the Artist-Hustler. I suppose, really, if you take a look at history, artists have a history of hustling. Troubadours trading tales for board, poets seeking patrons, painters selling portraits… it’s a tale as old as time.

Now fast forward to the 21st Century where there’s the internet in every home (not really) and social media to provide artists direct access to potential fans everywhere. Where does one draw the line between self-promotion and self-debasement? Everyone is telling artists they have to sell themselves in order to sell their work.

You can say to hell with that. Maybe you were born with that hustler-style and you want to make it big anyway you can. I get that. I roll that way, but plenty of folx don’t feel the same. But maybe you just want to focus on perfecting your craft and leave the rest to the hands of fate. That’s cool too.

Take a Bob Dylan approach to the business of music and just say no. Maybe you’ll be limiting your chances of breaking big. Or maybe investing the time into being the best artist you can be will serve you better than a thousand networking hours. Who can say? And, more importantly, who fucking cares? We’re all rolling the dice here. You have to decide for yourself where you want to put your energy.

(6) Self Care is Product Development

You probably know all the types. There’s the Bathroom Breakdown type and  the I’m-Too-Big-for-this-Gig. There’s the type that disappears for a few days/weeks and sends the internet into a flurry (aka The Andrew Jemsek) and then there’s the type that builds it all up until they have a complete psychological breakdown on Facebook.

The thing is, life is hard. Making music is also hard and, oftentimes, thankless. And, if we’re being totally honest here, the world’s been a bit of a shitshow lately. It wears you down.

If you need to unplug for a few days, do it. If you need to skip a friend’s gig to catch up on some sleep, tell them you’ll make it out next time. If you need to lock yourself away in your bedroom for a few days and channel your feelings into some new songs, go for it.

Tell everyone you’re working on self-care in the name of product development. That’ll make you seem like you’re working toward a goal rather than slacking off. And that’s exactly what you’re doing. So, everyone calm down, Andrew will turn on his phone when he’s damn well ready.

(7) Know You’re on a Path Without End

The above statement sounds a little ominous, but it’s important for artists to recognize that they are on a journey that will last the course of their lives. True artists are always seeking to better their work.

And that is sort of inherently depressing. If you’re always seeking improvement, it means that every time you take a step forward, the work of your past feels lesser than what you are capable of. It’s a harsh cycle, but an important one.

It’s important to find a way to come to peace with yourself and your personal development as an artist. If you are continually looking to move forward, don’t be so hard on yourself if you’re not exactly where you feel you should be.

You’ll never get there. And, what’s more, you should never want to get there. Not really. Every time you attain new mastery, it’s time to move the bar again. The journey is the destination.

(8) Support Other Artists

Community-building is an important part of any artistic approach to the world. This is because artists are different. They place value on different things and fill their “free time” with different pursuits. And for this reason, as anyone with a family of “Normies” can tell you, artists tend to feel very isolated.

It’s important to seek out others like you so you have a support system that understands the things you hold sacred. The best way to do this is to head out into the world and find others like you.

Go to art shows or concerts and meet other people in the larger world who can appreciate the struggles and joys of the #ArtistLife. You might make connections that can help you find new opportunities to showcase your own work, but, more importantly, you might make some friends who are committed to their creative endeavors, just like you.

A little mutual support goes a long way toward making a “scene” feel like a family.

 (9) Know Thyself

This is the most important axiom. Probably of all time. Not only will understanding the inner workings of your mind improve your work, it can improve your life. Know what upsets your delicate internal balances and, more importantly, WHY.

Maybe crowds make you anxious. Maybe vodka evokes your inner anger. Maybe you get sad when the weather changes. Whatever your thing(s) is, know it and own it. That’s the only way you can manage it.

Spend time in the confines of your own mind and start charting your character. If the terrain becomes too treacherous, seek out a friend or professional therapist to be your Virgil as you ascend the levels of Hell.

The more you understand about yourself, the further you can delve in that self-exploration in your work. That sounds like a win-win.

~

Dry Noise Zine & the Yuma Music Scene [Interview with Mat Crawford]

dry noise 02
All photos courtesy of Dry Noise

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Apparently, YabYum might be slacking on the Yuma front. Sure, we can rattle off Phoenix or Tucson bands or any one of a host of other Arizona cities, but Yuma, it seems we owe you an apology.

Thankfully, the good people of Dry Noise zine stepped forward to fill us in on the city that they call home. Mat Crawford, co-editor & co-creator, of Dry Noise was kind enough to talk to us about the scene, the zine, and all things musical in Yuma.

YabYum: Is Dry Noise staffed by a team or is more an effort of few/one with contributing writers?

Mat Crawford for Dry Noise: Dry Noise is run by myself and Trina Elam. Together we handle all of the transcribing, design, and curation of the content. All of the artwork for each issue comes from a different artist in our community. We do welcome all submissions from anyone who wants to contribute, and have published submitted poems and columns.

Mat and Trina
What is the area of focus for the zine? Music? More than music? Music specific to a location or genre?

We try to focus on topics related to mainly music and any kind of visual art. We knew there were a lot of very creative people and bands in our hometown and wanted to showcase them in a creative way.

As a musician who grew up in a kind of small town, I’ve always been really interested in how artistic types work, and how they relate to their communities. So we started talking to our friends and bands around us, and grew from there.

One of our main goals is to show how diverse the art and music is in our community, so we try to focus on anything generally music, art, and/or southwest related.

dry noise 04How many issues have you released thus far?

In May, we put out our 9th official issue of Dry Noise. We try to release an issue about once a month. We also put out our first compilation album in November 2016, and a special mini-issue on the annual In-Tents Festival, a punk-rock music festival out in the Picacho Desert.

Can you tell me a little about the Yuma music scene?

The overall community that exists here is fantastic. Though most groups kind of keep to themselves, almost everyone is incredibly supportive of each other. Since not a lot of larger acts come through here, people tend to really appreciate all the shows they do get.

dry noise crew 02Are certain genres more heavily represented than others?

While some genres come in waves (I think every community has experienced a ska phase at one time or another), there’s definitely a few that have stuck around.

The punk scene and metal/hardcore scene have stuck around for a while. They both have very tight communities who come out to almost every single show. I think Yuma is somewhat of a working-class town, and the people in those communities just like having a place to relax or relieve stress.

There is also a decent amount of reggae bands around, as well as cover/tribute bands.

dry noise 06What are your favorite spots to catch live music?

Currently, some of the best shows take place at Maverick Bar and The Alement. Us at Dry Noise are big supporters of all-ages shows, and we have started hosting our own all-ages shows at North End Coffeehouse, a really cool, small cafe in an old historic building. Littlewood Artist Co-op has also been hosting really great all-ages events lately too.

But some of the greatest shows that have ever happened in Yuma have been at Prison Hill, a small public park near the famous Yuma Territorial Prison. It has been the main source of the best DIY shows in Yuma for many years, and almost all genres have performed there.

Any stellar bands we should know about?

Honestly too many. Samsara, Venkman’s Ghost, Lazarus Threw The Fight, Plebeian Planet, Working Mutts, Glitterfoot – all really great bands still going strong from Yuma, AZ. We have a growing directory of bands and musicians that are active in our community at drynoise.tumblr.com/directory.

~

For more Dry Noise check out their Facebook page.

dry noise 06 dry noise best of 2016

For the Record: The Hierophant by Jerusafunk

hierophant 01

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

The Hierophant, the new album by Phoenix megagroup Jerusafunk will add even more dots to your world-music map as you delve into the band’s sound. Jerusafunk isn’t confined to one region of the greater globe, but seems to draw a host of influences from Bossa Nova and Cumbia to Polka for their debut LP which comes out on Thursday at the Crescent Ballroom.

This band of troubadours draws inspiration from such disparate global points as to turn appropriation into appreciation with their pure and unifying love of music.

It’s been almost two years since Jerusafunk dropped their debut, Sweat & Glitter, so fans have just been itching for some new jams to help pass the time between shows. And, this week, the band is ready to oblige. That’s right, kids. The funky klezmer collective from the PHX will be unveiling their sophomore effort, The Hierophant, this coming Thursday.

I had a chance to ask Jessie and Chris of Jerusafunk some questions about the new album, J-Funk future plans, and, of course, klezmer. Read our Q&A below, but first, hit play on “Gateway Movement” from The Hierophant below…

For the record, who is part of the Jerusafunk cast of characters?

Chris “Chrispy Duck” Del Favero: guitar, vocals, percussion, melodica
Jessie “Juicie Duck” Demaree: clarinet, vocals, bass clarinet
Elliott “The Foxy Gemini” Fox: tenor sax, alto sax, bass clarinet, flute
Torrey “Jean Scone” McDannald: trumpet, flugel horn, piano
Austin “Ricky” Rickert: alto sax
Connor “Connie LeRoy” Sample: drums, percussion
Jeremy “Gilgamesh” Lentz: drums, percussion
Spencer “Spoonz Tambo” Hawley: djembe, saw, glock, shakers, vocals
Zack “Chip Tickler” Parker: guitar
Isaac “Time Wolf” Parker: bass
Caleb “Baylac” Michel: percussion
Alejandro Arboleda López: quena, charrango
Captain Smokey Joel Robinson: guitar
Bailey “Bagel Boy” Zick: double bass
Mike de la Torre: percussion
Bryce “Pea Soop” Broome: drums

Where did you record the album? And how did you fit everyone into the recording space? Or was it done in rounds?

We recorded the album all over the Valley. All of the rhythm section tracks and live full group tracks were done in schools, free studios and the J-Funk house. All of the overdubbing happened at the J-Funk house. We also recorded our friend Alejo in Guatapé, Colombia in his and our hostel rooms (you should Google that town… it’s something else, I’d move there in a heart beat) [Editor’s Note: Boom]. Some of the rooms were quite tight for the live recordings so we just recorded in a circle, more or less, and made it work.

I want to hear about J-Funk: the Inception. What initially spawned the idea for this musical collective?

To quickly sum up the first and second incarnations of Jerusafunk: Jessie and Chris met in Flagstaff and started the band with a lineup of guitar, clarinet, tenor sax, bari sax, accordion, and drums. After, Jessie graduated from NAU we moved to Phoenix and recreated the band. We plugged in and revamped the line up to electric guitar, bass, clarinet+pedal, tenor sax, percussion and drum set.

Then, after traveling through Central and South America for two years, Chris and Jessie returned with new material for the current incarnation. Chris and Jessie had always dreamed of playing and writing with a larger group of musicians to help realize these greater compositions, so they asked friends and friends of friends to fill out the band, and the intimacy of the group has really thrived because of everyone’s pasts with one another.

Okay, so the klezmer/funk thing… how did that come about? Were these musical styles you grew up listening to? Or something that you stumbled into as burgeoning musicians?

I think I can safely say no one in the band grew up with klezmer, except for maybe Jeremy, our drummer; his mom is Jewish. Jessie’s the one who picked up klezmer; her clarinet teacher encouraged her to listen to clarinetists from all over the world, and upon listening to two clarinetists in particular, David Krakauer and Giora Fiedman, she started focusing her efforts on playing klezmer.

Funk is an american pastime- we all love the classics and then some. More than half the band are jazz musicians, so we like get down to the cerebral psychedelic jazz funk of Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, and Sun Ra quite a bit.

When we first started the band Jessie was learning about ethics, identity and musical fusion in ethnomusicology, and was up to the challenge of modernizing an old dance genre (klezmer) with a new dance genre (funk) to see what kind of sounds would emerge. And, of course, then our travels to Latin America morphed the J-Funk sound even more as we discovered and learned Colombian and Andean music.

And we definitely need to know what the songwriting process is like. Is there a process? Do you get together and jam and see what emerges? Or is there a member (or a few) that shape out the songs and present them to the group for a full fleshing out?

Well, for the first album, Chris wrote a majority of the sketches for the songs. We usually create melodies for horns, chord progressions, and form ideas, then hash out the grooves and sections for improv. Luckily, everyone in the band has creative juices so they contribute their own voice in every song. Torrey (trumpet, not trombone) has a very modern writing approach in that he records a whole song, then brings it to the table and we try to further his ideas the best we can.

Now, you cats have been out on tour and I hear you might be planning for another adventure. What’s it like touring with, like, a million band members? Is there a caravan involved or do you all turn one van into a giant mobile cuddle puddle of moving chaos?

Bed time is where the real snugglin’ begins. For the last couple of tours, we’ve had to use around two to three vehicles. Which gives us all a little more space, but its a lot more awkward to coordinate arrival times. This tour in July we’ll be renting a 15-seater just to simplify things…

But traveling with a gang of 8-10 has been absolutely hysterical. We’re all very charismatic people and feelings rarely get hurt, thank goodness. Sure, there can be daily turmoil, but there is definitely safety in numbers. We take over any space once we arrive. Touring has grown less chaotic with experience, so if that pattern persists this first East Coast tour should be something amazing.

You seem like a band with a mission. Does Jerusafunk a mission statement?

Our mission is we want everyone to resonate and learn from the music we create, but what art doesn’t? We think that if people can latch onto the challenging musical and philosophical concepts we present, maybe then people may discover something new about themselves.

Or, if they prefer to just listen, they can feel sexy and dance to grooves they may have never heard before and hopefully dig deeper into a world of music and culture that seems to defy time and history. Culture is a construct; not as a wall but a bridge.

What’s next for J-Funk? Taking a break after the release show? Or moving forward with the sexual revolution of klezmer?

WHAT’S NEXT?!? WORLD TOUR!!! Really though, we want a company to pick us up so we can tour Europe and the rest of the Americas. There has been talk, no fixed plans, but talk, about PAO and J-Funk doing a little AZ/CA tour in the future! Go and freak Cali out with a 30 person funk entourage! We have about enough material for to start writing for the next album, so it’ll be back to the studio(s) and bedroom for the next big piece. Hopefully we’ll start discovering new grooves from other parts of the planet and weave them into our own nasty little hodgepodge. Maybe find the new groooooooove? Oh, and ya know, sexual revolution.

Make sure you head to the Crescent Ballroom on June 15th for the Jerusafunk release party with Nick Perkins, Zach Alwin & Duck Funk, and DJ Mitch Freedom. More info on that event here

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Radio Phoenix Podcast: Editor’s Choice 2017

editor's choice 01It was our first show in June and that meant it was time for another Editor’s Choice addition of The YabYum Hour on Radio Phoenix. This year we were joined by our new producer/co-host Roddy Nikpour who provided some choice cuts, as well as a couple of lovebirds you can hear in the background… As always, you can check out the complete playlist below.

Check out The YabYum Hour on our podcast page and every first and third Wednesday live at 7 PM only on Radio Phoenix.

Complete Playlist:

Cait Brennan “Bad At Apologies”

Lauren Ruth Ward “Did I Offend You”

The SunPunchers “Screwtop Head”

koleżanka “Flyfishing/Snow Cone Summer”

Daniel Trakell “Paradise”

Celebration Guns “(Probably) Worth It”

Nanami Ozone “Damage”

Swellshark “Numb + Insensible”

Diners “Peace of Mind”

Choir Boy “Blood Moon”

Zero Degrees North “Nuns”

Exxxtra Crispy “Scumbag” (radio edit)

E Alo “Cinco”

_

Recorded live on June 7, 2017

5 Hawt HipHop Singles

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

2Reps

“Been Wild”

There’s a fun summertime feel on “Been Wild” that’s perfect for the over-25-crowd (uh, maybe over 30). You know, those of us who might have had our wild days but now we maybe just want to kickback and use all those bills we save on booze for tropical vacations. Of course, 2Reps throw enough bounce into “Been Wild” to keep the kids interested even if they haven’t crossed that “Still Wild” threshold quite yet.

Susspect

“Jelly”

At nineteen, Susspect might be a little green but you won’t be able to glean that from his new single, “Jelly”. This kid sounds pro. I mean, he’s got some serious lyrical prowess and a slick delivery. That’s a winning combo. But, right now, Susspect is doing the collegiate thing by day at Emerson so don’t start pressuring him to spit out singles faster than his schedule will permit. #StayInSchool

J. Reid Prime

“All Mine”

This slouchy single from J. Reid Prime brings a little chill to these increasingly hot days. “All Mine”, produced by Gage Green, features Sonny from Mars on the vocals. This is the first single Prime has released in a year so fans will be stoked to learn that this track is just a prelude to the artist’s forthcoming album, Braille Teeth. Roll around your city with J. Reid Prime and his single, “All Mine”.

Bad Poetry Club

“Victory Lap”

Bad Poetry Club throws out some mad energy into the mix of their new single, “Victory Lap”. BPC lays out fresh instrumentals on this single to support the wisely sparse lyrics. After all, with a beat like that, who wants to get too wordy. This is nu jazz, not your normal HipHop hit. Give “Victory Lap” by Bad Poetry Club a spin below…

Jaac

“Minutes”

Jaac recorded this track last year at the tender age of seventeen. On “Minutes”, Jaac proves you don’t always need to throw a lot down on the beat if you have the lyrical strength to carry your audience. Jaac does and you can hear that stripped-down style on “Minutes”. Let’s hope Jaac has more singles in the works this year.

Pan Productions Revisits Labyrinth in The Goblin King’s City

goblin king 00by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

The good people who brought you the film-to-stage version of Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Firehouse and the musical adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo are gearing up for what might be their most magical production to date. Yes, the team at Pan Productions has been locked away for months hard at work on The Goblin King’s City; a stage adaptation of the 1986 cult classic, Labyrinth.

What I like most about the rambunctious upstarts of Pan Productions is that these folks go BIG and they go BOLD. For this new musical, they count nearly a hundred musicians, actors, and artists amongst their ranks. And, they even went so far as to add two new songs to the famed soundtrack.

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All photos courtesy of Ting Ting and Pan Productions

And, once again, local musicians join the cast and crew to help bring The Goblin King’s City to life with the multimedia flair that would make David Bowie proud.

One new song was penned by Serene Dominic, who also wrote the musical (and previous Pan Productions’ Production) Swimming in the Head, and the other addition was written by I Am Hologram (to be performed by We Are Hologram). Another favorite from the local music scene, Jerusafunk, will be providing the live musical accompaniment for the show.

Now, I know what you’re all wondering… Who is going to play Jareth, the Goblin King? Well, if it were up to me, you’d have to head out to the show to find out, but Sheri Amourr (executive director & producer for the show) revealed the details in our Q&A below.

goblin king 04YabYum: First of all, should we credit a writer for the adaption? Or was this a group endeavor?

Sheri Amourr: The adaptation of the script was quite the team effort. About 7 people were involved, which included our directing team, plus a few others we’ve previously worked with.

I believe this is your third adaptation of a film for a stage production, correct? Last year, you brought a musical version of Vertigo to life. And, before that, you did an adaptation of the film version of Rocky Horror Picture Show. What did you learn from previous productions that has benefited you this time around?

The greatest thing we learned from our previous theater stage productions, is that musicals are quite challenging and time consuming. We seemed to never have enough time to do what we felt needed to be done. We also learned that working with a new and mostly original script, and with new and completely original songs is MUCH more difficult than just adapting your own version of something that’s previously been done.

Swimming in the Head, while based on the movie Vertigo, was written by Serene Dominic. All of the songs, and much of the script, were his original creation. We learned very quickly that despite the simpler set design and scenes, it was far more challenging to pull off than Rocky. In the end, we were very pleased with both, but we knew of a few things that we’d expect, and in some cases do differently, in the future.

goblin king 02There were some local music All-Stars in the previous casts and we expect to see some returning performers in The Goblin King’s City. Any chance you’re willing to name drop some of the folks we’ll see in this new production?

We will be working with local music artist Joobs once again, as he will be playing the role of Jareth, The Goblin King. We are also working with Chris Del Favero of Jerusafunk as Jareth, and will be alternating our lead roles for the different show dates. Marcella Grassa from Rocky Horror, and Swimming in the Head is working on choreography with us, and Uche Ujania will be playing a surprise role.

I also noticed that some newcomers will be joining Pan Productions’ cast for this new undertaking. What new faces should the audience watch out for?

We have many newcomers, including Kendra Ruth Martinez as the role of Sarah. Alexandra Morfin will play Sir Didymus, and we have Will Jones as Ludo. Jesse Abrahams from First Friday Night Live will play Hoggle.

Some local musicians wrote original pieces for this stage production. Care to fill us in on who wrote songs for the play?

We will feature two original songs written and performed by We Are Hologram, the first full band ensemble by I Am Hologram. We will also feature an original song written by Serene Dominic.

goblin king 03Pan Productions seems to create events that are more than mere plays. There’s a celebratory atmosphere that pervades the productions. This year’s event looks like it will be no different. Food vendors? Live bands? What else can people expect when they head to The Goblin King’s City?

We are in the process of securing our food vendors, and there will be entertainment before and after the show, and during intermission. We will also have art vendors, as well as a meet and greet with cast members after the show. Jerusafunk will be the “pit band” to play the songs we will feature from Labyrinth, as well as the original song written by Serene Dominic, and numerous other musical interludes.

The Goblin King’s City opens on Friday, May 26 at The Pressroom, with additional showings scheduled for Saturday May 27 at The Outer Space, and Saturdays June 3 and 9 at Unexpected Gallery. For more information, check out the event page on the Pan Productions website.

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POETRY: Called Back Books

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

To help kick of YabYum’s increased coverage of the literary arts this year, our editorial staff decided to reach out to comrades-in-art and co-founders of Called Back Books, LM Rivera & Sharon Zetter.

Called Back Books came to life in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, but this avant-garde publishing house now calls Santa Fe home. To celebrate the launch of our POETRY series, we subjected the CBB team to some questions and they were kind enough to play along.

Before we get to the interview, however, Called Back Books offered this gift of poetry to share with all our YabYum readers. An extended sampler from the printed poetry of Called Back Books is available to you here for free preview/download/printing. Everyone should have more poetry in their lives. Called Back Books is here to answer that calling.

I had the chance to “chat” with the founders of Called Back Books recently, but first, make sure you get that digital download of your poetry sampler from Called Back Books (it’s 120 pages so consider that your workplace warning).

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YabYum: I would imagine poets, like other writers, put a considerable amount of time and thought into the act of naming. I’m curious to know why you chose the name Called Back Books?

CBB: “Called back,” are the only words in Emily Dickinson’s last known letter–and they are engraved on her grave–and what would we be without her? Nearly nothing or, at least, much, much less. The master Susan Howe wrote a book called My Emily Dickinson, if she went out of her way to do this: we can at least tie our endeavor to Saint Dickinson.

What led you to the decision to launch a publishing house?

Habitual disappointment and disgust with the coeval thing called the contemporary. Also, the few kinships that have formed, the radiance of those kinships, and the lack, in relation to the exposure of those bonds (and others), in terms of so-called publishing (what we, idealistically, call THE BOOK). And, lastly, we wanted to hold the reigns (of composition and the formal structure) and let our authors say what goes and stays in their works (for obvious, personal, reasons).

called back books 11Who are some of the poets you’ve worked with (past/present/future) that really stood out for you personally?

Every writer we’ve worked with has been fire itself. We are especially addicted to our immediate poetic allies and their books (Colby Gillette’s WITHOUT REPAIR, Pablo Lopez’s NUMBERS, Adam Fagin’s THE SKY IS A HOWLING WILDERNESS BUT IT CAN’T HOWL WITH HEAVEN, and Gillian Olivia Blythe Hamel’s forthcoming occident (and more presently)).

And, as you know, we’re kicking off the Poet’s Corner? Poet’s Nook? The Poets Pocket? We thought it would be fun to have you tackle those questions before we force other poets through the ringer…

You are kind people. By which we mean to say: these monikers are much too quaint/sentimental for our taste. Something along the lines of POETS PRISON, THE POETS PURGATORY, OR THE BOOK OF QUESTIONABLE POETS AND THEIR DISCONTENT—this is more in line with our tendency…

called back books 13So, who are you and what do you do?

We are Sharon Zetter and LM RIVERA and we write, read, and publish poetry, prose, theory, collage, and anything worth taking in (anything that will have us)—occasionally hiding under the alias of Called Back Books.

What is poetry?

Any thing happening at the point after tzimzum (the infinite explosion) when language (Being) bursts from the vessel—or the disorder of the psyche mapping itself onto the language of personhood (like an eternal Celanian handshake). Jack Spicer, por vida!

Who or what are your influences?

For the sake of this discussion we’ll limit the list to ten poets: John Milton, Edmond Jabès, Rosmarie Waldrop, John Ashbery, Jay Wright, Frank O’Hara, Anne Carson, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Marina Tsvetaeva, and Paul Celan.

But it would be sinful not to mention our shared personal literary Saint Figures: Franz Kafka, Fyodor Dostoevsky, William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, and Don Quixote.

called back books 12What are you reading?

Sharon is reading through Bolaño’s canon, currently Monsieur Pain, the pre-Socratic philosophers, and re-visiting Duras’ Malady of Death. LM is reading as many of Andre Bazin’s writings/books as possible, O’Connor’s Wise Blood, Avital Ronell’s Stupidity, and Cinema Scope.

What is your mantra?

When we hear words like “mantra” we also hear the Goebbels-like economy of propagandistic language and, also, that which Martin Amis describes (namely, the cliché’s war against writing) and we try, whenever possible, to oppose, fight against, and extinguish it. As good ol’ fashion Nietzscheans: we prefer to think of our thinking as transvaluative.

~

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