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Friday, October 31, 2014

Interview: Jiggley Jones

For this weeks interview, singer-songwriter Jiggley Jones spends some time with us talking about his craft, his voice, and even a little about his family. His newest release is “…A Mountain, A Struggle, A Tunnel, A Light…” available through iTunes. 

MW: Jiggley Jones, thanks so much for your time today!

JJ: My pleasure, thanks for having me!!

MW: I’ve enjoyed listening to your music, especially the songs on your YouTube channel especially the song “Ain’t That Alright.” I see your kids presence throughout the video – we’re they a big inspiration to the song?

JJ: Though they have been a major inspiration within my songwriting, on this particular song they were just used for the video because I like getting them involved as much as possible. This video idea was a more financially-friendly version of the original idea I had in my head that would have been a major undertaking. So I put this together on imovie and put my kids in it and it didn’t cost me a dime, haha ! … and it was fun for all of us.

MW: So, believe it or not, you’re actually the first country artist we’ve had on this blog (a long time overdue if you ask me). How do you feel about the change in commercial Country Music over the past few decades?

JJ: Because I certainly don’t consider my music to be straight forward Country, the changes have benefited me. All the branching out to slightly different sounds and approaches has broadened the listening audience in the Country genre. I think a lot of traditional Country fans aren’t too happy about that but Rock music is constantly seeing changes like this.

MW: I guess I call you “country” because that’s the closest genre that readers will recognize – but I hear a lot of other elements in your songs such as blues, folk, and even a little gospel. How do YOU like to describe your music?

JJ: It’s really difficult being in between genres sometimes. I think I would call it Folk Rock.

MW: I listened to “Modern Day Jesus” – one of the live videos on your YT channel – and I was thinking “wow, that is one hell of an upper range.” Did you have to work hard to develop those notes or have you always been able to do that?

JJ: Ironically that has always been a vocally tough song for me to pull off live. Sometimes if I’m not feeling it vocally on certain nights I will leave that song out of my set. So yeah it is hard work sometimes getting the voice to conquer those high notes.  

MW: Do you consider yourself more of a live musician?

JJ: No I wouldn’t say that, even though live performance is a definite part of who I am as a musician. I thrive on the recording process and the creative side.

MW: What artists were important to you while you were developing your style?

JJ: I always refer to Neil Young whenever that question comes up. Of course there are many more over the years. Maybe James Taylor and Led Zeppelin to name a few.

MW: What about now, are you a fan of anyone currently?

JJ: I actually like a lot of the newer Country acts like Zac Brown and Florida Georgia Line, etc…

MW: Your newest release is “…A Mountain, A Struggle, A Tunnel, A Light…” is a 6 track EP, can you talk about how this album came together?

JJ: I signed with my label Lamon Records Nashville in November of last year, put together a demo of songs for them to pick from and went down to Nashville in January. With Producer Dave Moody and a handful of session players we put together the songs for the record. Some of the songs were brand new and some I had been kicking around for a while. In February I went back down and shot the video for the single “Walk On Me.” Overall it was a great experience.

MW: Can you tell us about your best live show (so far)?

JJ: Well I had the privilege of playing at the last two CMA Festivals in Nashville. The first year (2013) I played at BB King’s place and 2014 I got a chance to perform at the legendary Earnest Tubbs Record Shop.

MW: …and do you have any events/projects on the horizon?

JJ: I have a few things coming up including the AMG Awards down in Charlotte, North Carolina where I’m up for “Male Vocalist of the Year.” After that I plan on “hibernating this winter and writing a bunch of new songs. We’ll see if that happens because sometimes opportunities sneak up on you out of nowhere and then you’re off on another adventure, haha.

MW: Jiggley Jones, thanks so much for taking the time to talk!

JJ: Thank you, I really appreciate it !!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Interview: White Bronco

Greetings readers! For this week's interview we are joined by Crack-Rock indie-band "White Bronco." They've just released a killer EP titled "White Bronco Lives" and were kind enough to spend some of their day talking. They're full of snark, but well worth the read!

MW: White Bronco, thanks so much for giving us some of your time!

WB: Time... Is never time at all... You can never ever leave without leaving a piece of youth... Thanks.

MW: Well you certainly win the award for most colorful off-the-hook intro...

WB: We try to start off all interviews with lyrics from the genius entity that is Billy Corgan.

MW: Who can argue with that logic? So, first off – I’d like for each of you to introduce yourselves and say what your role is within the entity that is White Bronco

WB: I’m Clark, I play bass/sing and occasionally expose myself when the moment feels right. Gus plays lead guitar and hasn’t been the same since ‘Nam. J-Money-Ca$h also plays guitar and likes to stalk Disney channel celebrities and Tantrum plays drums, and can only let him out of the dungeon during lunar eclipses.

MW: I read on your website that the name came from OJ Simpson’s vehicle that was used to evade police after Nicole Simpson was murdered. Do you think that story still has some captivating powers 20 years after the fact?

WB: First off, we can’t even be really sure that any of those events even took place. When media conglomerates get together and decide to pin an innocent, successful black man of a crime with an invented motive and lackluster evidence, we as a society always need to be skeptical and post two-hour long YouTube videos exposing the truths of the secret societies that truly run the world. Was Nicole Simpson a real person? Was OJ even driving this supposed “White Bronco?” These are questions we need to answer now, and not worry about the other frivolous media creations such as Ebola and ISIS.

MW: I get the feeling you’re not taking me seriously

WB: That’s just how I feel bruh, and besides, seriousness is the path for the mundane, which we feel is an issue that’s extremely universal in our generation of cleavage selfies and ABC sitcom quoting statuses.

MW: I’ve been listening to “White Bronco Lives” – your newest release – pretty much all week now. One thing that really captivates me is the spacey quality and almost futuristic texture of the music, especially on tracks like “Pretty Pixxxles.” Is that a sound you worked towards, or am I completely off?

WB: You’re so on you’re turning me on... When you take peyote in the studio, music sort of seems to perspiration out of you without even realizing it. We essentially woke up the next morning and listened to what we created, without having any recollection of recording it. Luckily it turned out to our liking, and the result was a spacey future rocking ode to pornography and self-indulgence.

MW: How do you handle the songwriting as a band? Is it primarily one of you, or do you have a more democratic approach?

WB: Gus is sort of, I guess what you’d call the leader of the band. He’s abusive, verbally and physically, and if one of us dislikes his songs, we’ll definitely receive a few lashings. But through Gus’s torment and sadism, it really drives us to work better at perfecting our craft, because we know the unfortunate consequences if we don’t deliver.

MW: Gus actually beats you?

WB: I actually shouldn’t be discussing this publicly, or else Gus might find out… Next question.

MW: So, full-disclosure, I had no idea what “crack rock” was prior to doing my research for this interview, thankfully we live in a world where “urban dictionary” exists. I thought we could save people the internet search and you could explain for our readers.

WB: Well, crack rock as a genre is sort of like smoking crack in itself. It’s disorientated, with limited ambitions, but true desires will be obtained through any cost. When we play our crack rock music, we want the audience to wake up homeless, with strangers and uncertain of their future, because structure is the blueprint for non-consensual servitude.

MW: Of course, it takes some degree of ambition to put out an album.

WB: Absolutely. We, like many citizens in the world, are forced to adhere to the realms of reality by grinding our lives away to the administrators of corporate fascism, in hopes of receiving subtle financial compensation that may eventually aid us in purchasing items that have no existential impact on the universe. This album was an attempt for us to temporarily escape the limited boundaries of this productivity paradox society we live in, and while ambition put forth toward publicly traded companies is wasted labor, the energy we gave to this project helped us see that true enlightenment can only be obtained through power chords, flanger pedals and Backpage groupies.

MW: As an album “White Bronco Lives” has a staggering amount of cohesion and energy – can you describe what the studio process was like?

WB: Besides the excessive amounts of peyote, there definitely was a lot of turmoil behind the scenes of this record. Between my own personal battles with Tinder, Tantrum being exposed to light, J-Money-Ca$h’s alleged manslaughter conviction and Gus’s four-year-old son showing up, it was somewhat difficult to put all these distractions behind us and focus on creating seductive crack rock music. Our producer Barrett really helped us through denouncing our demons and supplying us with more peyote.

MW: ...feeling a sarcastic vibe... I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that you are first and foremost a live band, am I right?

WB: Mos def homez. For starters, let’s just say that if I personally couldn't play a live show at least a few times a month, the Chicago murder rate would rise exactly .02%. Performing is in our blood, mainly because of the blood oath we gave in Somalia back in ‘94, which also resulted in an on-going hepatitis scare. We give it our all on stage, and we expect cheap handys and cereal necklaces in return.

MW: Any wild stories from the live scene?

WB: One time Tantrum bit a bouncer’s face before the show, and we were told we had to leave the premises immediately. Well we really wanted to play the show, so instead of doing what these pricks told us, we lured another opening band into an alley, decapitated their limbs, stole their clothes and gear and performed as them. If anyone asks us about our whereabouts the evening of September 13th, 2013, our manager Joseph Peckinpah will testify in court that we were at his apartment that night and we have no information on the whereabouts of the members of Ted Danson With Wolves.

MW: It’s a classic story – the opening band died for your sins?

WB: Sacrifices must be made in order for the prophecy of WHITE BRONCO to flourish.

MW: What’s on the horizon for you guys?

WB: Peyote, ethanol and obese Indian women.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Interview: Vin Deca

For this week’s interview we have keyboardist, composer, and dance-music producer Mbachi Halle, but you all know him as Vin Deca. Vin Deca’s newest release “I Encourage You” is an exceptionally uplifting club number reinforced with lyrics of positivity and the need to stay the course in reaching goals.

MW: Vin Deca, thanks so much for joining us.

VD: Thank you very much for the opportunity and more so, thank you for what you do!

MW: My pleasure! So, I noticed from your bio that you are originally from Cameroon, how old were you when you left?

VD: I was twenty when I came to Germany.

MW: Ahh, so as a young adult… What kind of an impact do you think your African upbringing had on your music creation?

VD: We only learn from what others do or have done. In Africa, you get exposed to African music, and music from the rest of the world in exactly the same amounts. You grow with a wider spectrum and much more to learn from. In my time, Youssou N’dou, Henri Dikongue and Manu Dibango were just as popular as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Amit Kumur of Teri Kassam (India) and Joe Dassin.

MW: How old were you when you started on the keyboard, and how long was it before you started composing?

VD: I was twelve when I started playing. I started by playing only songs I really loved and made my own versions of every one of them. I was actually addicted to reconstructing people’s songs with keyboards and particularly one song, Elton John’s ‘Sacrifice’, even cost me a year in school. We had a one-year-end-exam-system and during that period I couldn’t study anything. All I did was listened to, dissected and made very many different versions of ‘Sacrifice’. I failed the exam of course and had to repeat the class. It was not until sixteen that I started composing my own songs, the age when I started selling tapes of my music.

MW: Was there anyone in particular who really encouraged you in your music as you were growing up?

VD: I grew up in one of the first commercial recording complexes in Cameroon, Bel-Pen Recordings; a label and production house that my father owned and ran. We had musicians living with us all the time, which meant we’d play with them all day long but my father didn’t like us spending too much time with them. They were very irresponsible and he didn’t want us to end up like that. They did things like get neighborhood girls pregnant and plant Marijuana on his property. He tried all he could but it was impossible for him to stop us from playing too much with them. Nuks, now a drummer in London – my brother and I will sneak out all the time, hang out and go with them wherever they went to play music. My father finally gave up trying to stop us and fully made us a part of the whole thing. I actually was head of the company until I traveled to Germany.

MW: Wow, that is quite the exposure - Speaking of “encouraging,” your new song “I Encourage You” is a great track, from the production, to the beat, and of course the vocals by Myra Maimoh are very captivating. Can you talk about how that song came together?

VD: I wrote “I Encourage You” sometime around 2006 when I was going through one of those very challenging periods of my life career wise, and had it recorded by a local artist. The meaning of that song became very clear to me in 2008 when I lost studio gear worth ten thousand euro that I sent to London and it never arrived. I was very devastated and strangely enough, “I Encourage You”, a song I had written was one the things that had a very healing effect on me. Because we felt that the song may have the same impact on many, Myra recorded it for her 2010 album “Answer’d Me” and it spent over two months on the NCM charts. It was also the most downloaded song after the single “Killing Me. I found out from checking all my music sales statistics that the song was still one of the most downloaded and streamed songs, so when the EDM bug bit me in 2013 and the label started an EDM division, it was clear that “I Encourage You” must be “EDMized” since its influence never reduced, even long after it was released in 2010.

MW: Does positivity in your music emerge naturally, or do you have to work at it?

VD: The desire and will to create stuff that must heal, build or inspire, and certainly not harm or tear down is my default setting – it is natural for me. The problem is just I could be writing powerful and positive words while using boring or negative instrumentation and inappropriate mixing techniques that would certainly skew the whole idea. So for it to work, the production part of my work must be somewhat conscious. These days, I try to create the music so it tells the whole story already. When words get in, they should only enhance the story and bring in more clarity.

MW: Shifting gears for just a second – Many of the people who visit this site are interested in the technical side of music making. Can you comment on your studio setup or any favorite pieces of gear?

VD: This is a question I was hoping not to get asked because I grew out of the religion called “gearism” but I still like knowing what people use, whose work I respect. So I’ll happily tell what I use too.

MW: [laughing] Please let me apologize for all the “gearists” out there!

VD: As far as I am concerned, room acoustics is the most important technical aspect of creating music professionally. Peter Karsten, a great acoustic engineer here in Germany transformed my room into one of the best sounding rooms I’ve heard.

As far as I am concerned, room acoustics is the most important technical aspect of creating music professionally. Peter Karsten, a great acoustic engineer here in Germany transformed my room into one of the best sounding rooms I've heard.

I compose completely in Logic (since version 4.0) with its inherent instruments, Ivory, Kontakt and all the standard stuff, and mix only in Pro Tools, which has a sound that I just simply love. I’ve been collecting samples for almost twenty years now and I have tons of them but I turn to them only when I can’t get what I need with keys and a bass guitar. My workflow is usually hybrid, going through Metric Halo converters. I love everything about those guys. I have almost all UAD plugins, Metric Halo and I also use Kush’s UBK 1, Altiverb and Soundtoys Radiator very much. But plugin compressors really still don’t cut it completely for me! Sorry about that. I find they lack something I refer to as dynamic stamina. I get work done with them no doubt but “affection”, I get from outboard gear like 1176’s, IGS Audio Compressors, BAE, P3S (magical bus compressor), some EQ’s - mostly the standard stuff. I have a thing with cables too. My whole setup is wired with Vovox cables, except headphone connectors.

MW: That sounds like an extraordinary setup! …Thinking about being in the studio, I’m curious how often you collaborate? Does it ever lead to issues in the studio or in the creative process?

VD: I use to collaborate a lot in the past but I stopped. All it brought me was trouble.

This was the typical scenario:  someone who doesn’t play any instrument hears some music in their heart, head or whatever. He tries to communicate to you what to play but has no terms to describe what he wants. He gets frantic that you do not understand him and as a result, the genius insight the world was waiting for is about to dissipate. And there was also all the politics and ego madness, especially when there is the thought of the smell of success in the air. I hated it.

These days I prefer only able mentors who criticize me. Those who can tell me exactly what is not working. They purify my work.

When I get hired by composers to complete stuff, which happens very often, and which I really enjoy, I still try to avoid being in a negative environment while I am creating so whenever possible, I prefer to shift files to and fro with updates until they get satisfied.

Also, before I get to great stuff, I make a lot of mistakes and I need them. I love being in the studio alone where I have enough room to fail myself into great stuff. 

MW: You’re very gifted with the purely instrumental tracks as well – I listened to “Angel Talk” and was just thrilled with the energy of that track. Can you recall the first time you really felt a composition “work?”

VD: That’s certainly one of the most brilliant and difficult questions I’ve been asked!

MW: Thanks, I try.

VD: I made a song called “Do or die Thing” which got me a lot of attention from the music industry around 2002. I had really no clue logic wise what I was doing but the song was stunning. Then I started being too rational and somehow still felt everything I did was great and worked well but industry professionals like radio people showed me quality problems with my work. They were always right. It took me ten years to learn how to feel again while staying rational where I had to.
The problem was I worked a lot as a mixing engineer and that used to get in my way as a composer. It was my blessing but it did curse me quite a bit since I could not think or feel pure music with my own stuff. I’d compose a great song and dance or move to it while I produced it. But then when I finished mixing it, the song became void of life and emotions. Luckily, I discovered the trick not too long ago:

The gear was there to help me become one with the music!

Beside the technical necessities, it was all about doing absolutely everything possible through the mixing process to make me dance and move even more, and when I’m done, I shouldn’t be able to sit still. The first time I experienced that was with “Angel Talk”. 

MW: So, what’s next for Vin Deca?

VD: I desire to contribute significantly to electronic dance with the next releases in an original way and I will work relentlessly on that. With your help of course! I know how difficult this is and I say it in all humility but I am tired of what this genre that just captured the world is becoming. EDM is literally cloning itself out of existence. If we continue like this, we would not even need another Steve Dahl to tear us down for we are already doing it by copying ourselves so shamelessly. I will concentrate more on using different influences like African or tropical as a humble attempt to bring in more color to EDM.

MW: Vin Deca, thank you so much for your time!

VD: I thank you too very much, especially for asking such brilliant, relevant and deep questions. Keep up!  

For more information about Vin Deca please visit his website here: