My two Music News pieces for Montreal based CONFRONT Magazine
My two Music News pieces for Montreal based CONFRONT Magazine
Hand crafted in New York, created by Ukrainian, former supermodel Vera Balyura to show the “meatier” side of jewelry.
Claim to Fame:
Wearers of the brand include Tilda Swinton, Zach Galifianakas, Khloe Kardashian, Mena Suvari and Chloe Sevigny
Fashion is best categorized in three ways - shocking, funny or thought provoking.
Frankly, few things are more shocking, funny and yes, even thought provoking than a lion battling it out with an octopus.
As a long time fan of the cult jewelry brand, when the time came to pull pieces courtesy of VERAMEAT’s generosity, I was more than a little excited.
This is one of the few lines where all the pieces can be worn by both men and women.
Diving through the wonderfully unisex selection, the Koi and Octo/Lion jumped out at me as I can’t resist a piece with a good sense of humor and finding a proper fish necklace is surprisingly hard.
Travelling from Manhattan’s East Village, the package came filled with stickers, postcards and petite gold on black logo-printed boxes. These add-ons make the whole experience like getting gifts from a long lost pen pal.
The chain options vary in color and length for VERAMEAT’s signature layered look. As suggested by Maya Gooding, PR sweetheart for VERAMEAT, I went with the gold fill and sterling silver chains in 24 and 30 inches respectively. Though thin, the chains don’t tangle or pull together.
Cast in solid brass from Vera’s hand crafted models, the weight of each is enough to let you know you’re wearing a necklace.
Lion fur markings, countless scales on the Koi, beady skeptical octopus eyes, the fine points shine through and are alarmingly realistic.
The feel is light, subtle and unaffected even for those unused to wearing jewelry.
For me, they sum up what East Coast fashion is all about - easy, a bit edgy and never trying too hard. Throw them on without a thought and still end up looking purposeful. These give the ability that New Yorkers seem to have naturally, falling into that style of sure put together cool.
They are the definition of conversation pieces. Striking a fine balance in androgyny between obscure and classic that makes them hard not to fall lion over octopus for.Follow @ElyseSimpson
My article from Issue048 of The Seagull Love Review (TSLR)
Originally published April 6th, 2013 selling out in first run at Ammex Stadium, Brighton, UK
Name: Tiny Dragons
Members: Lizzie Massey (Bass/Lead Vocals), Jim Corbin (Guitar), Marcus Burch (Drums)
Home Base: Brighton, UK
Other Tracks & Treats
- “Houdini” from their earlier days off the Phantom EP
I feel I’m jumping on the band wagon a bit with this one, what with Tiny Dragons recently gaining heavy momentum on NME Radio, Loaded TV and BBC-Introducing but when the wagon is this good sometimes you have to jump.
Besides the obvious comparisons to The Police due to their reggae influence and bass player/lead singer combo, undertones of The Gossip, The Scissor Sisters and even jazz can be found. Risk taking is safely within this band’s vocabulary.
If their music doesn’t catch the public eye their sex appeal and on/off stage humble, quick witted personalities certainly will.
An interesting choice for the single of the EP with a deadly music video to match. Jim Corbin keeps on point with exactly what funk guitar should be, simple highlighted pops to anchor the feel.
A girl singing about trust is a dangerous thing (cue coffee shop Taylor Swift impersonators and comparisons to Adele) but fronter Lizzie Massey’s vocals hit a sweet spot. Although leading strong through all tracks, her shimmery weighty touch brings forward notes of depth and vulnerability.
“Why don’t you take me home?”
Dance Hall Alt. Rock is rare and very special. This is the standout of the 4 tracks. Small hints of Barry Gibb and a whole lot of seduction, this track alone will convince you to take home the EP.
Drummer Marcus Burch drives this one with flare and a whole lot of cowbell. Brings to mind English Rock snake charmer music or Tony Blair in a hookah den. It’s the darker bit of the EP and nicely balances the whole.
As lovely as the album is, catching them live is a must. Find them touring the UK this June. And North America get ready to start importing these breaking Brits.
On a summer trip to bookstore/cafe Trident on Newbury Street in Boston, after wandering between the large bookshelves, I found on the centre isle table a small brightly colored paperback called “On Love, a novel” Numbered paragraphs, references to Joni Mitchell and unnervingly on point. Since then the book has become a permanent fixture. Caught up in the novel’s take on a couple’s development within and without each other, quiet insecurities, the strain of intimacy and struggles with happiness, it has continued to offer wisdom in an instant when picking pages at random.
Jumping forward nearly two years, I’ve now had the privilege of talking to the international best selling author of the infamous pink paperback, Alain de Botton. The trilingual (German, French and English) Swiss born London living author, philosopher and presenter is as lovely as his books are complex.
Open, Cambridge educated and first published at 23 his work has been turned into documentaries, a screenplay and led to becoming an honorary fellow of The Royal Institute of British Architects.
As my favourite author I cannot explain my excitement to be able to find out how and why his writing affects people like myself so much. Friendly and willing, Alain shared with me his thoughts on passion, how he continues to stay sane and even a favourite bit of Schopenhauer.
E - Your grandmother Yolande Harmer was an Israeli intelligence officer and your father Gilbert de Botton was the founder of Global Asset Management financial firm. Does this lineage affect the nature and delivery of your work?
AB - It’s frustrating for biographers and journalists because ultimately what they want to know is ‘why do you do what you do?’ and yet it’s very hard to find an answer to this. I couldn’t honestly say that I write the sort of books I write because of my grandmother (whom I never met) or my father… perhaps it’s true, but in a sense, it’s not for me to say or even to know. We’re the product of so much. In the immediate term, I think I write as a way of mastering anxiety - I find it terrifically helpful to be able to sit in a room alone and chew over experiences. After a few days of not doing this, my anxiety levels rise severely.
E - The Boston Globe described you as “a young British Woody Allen with the benefits of a classical education”. In your work there are elements of irony and humour that makes it so enjoyable to read. Is this subtle silliness a form of optimism?
AB - I never think of myself as funny and I never try to be funny -but I know that there are some funny bits of my books. I think the humour comes from one thing: pessimism. The darker the thought, the funnier it is, and my books have their very dark moments. Here is one of my favourite tragic, but funny philosophers, Schopenhauer:
What disturbs and renders unhappy…the age of youth…is the hunt for happiness on the firm assumption that it must be met with in life. From this arises the constantly deluded hope and so also dissatisfaction. Deceptive images of a vague happiness of our dreams hover before us in capriciously selected shapes and we search in vain for their original…. Much would have been gained if through timely advice and instruction young people could have had eradicated from their minds the erroneous notion that the world has a great deal to offer them.
E - In the following excerpt from your novel “On Love”you speak about Romantic Terrorism.
“Though ordinary terrorists may occasionally force concessions from governments by blowing up buildings or school-children, romantic terrorists are doomed to disappointment because of a fundamental inconsistency in their approach. I will force you to love me by sulking at you or making you feel jealous. But then comes the paradox, for if love is returned, it is at once considered tainted, and the romantic terrorist must complain, if I have only forced you to love me, then I cannot accept this love, for it was not spontaneously given. Romantic terrorism is a demand that negates itself in the process of its resolution, and brings the terrorist up against an uncomfortable reality - that loves death cannot be arrested.”
With such similarities being drawn between the polar topics of intermittences of the heart and political attacks, where can the margin be drawn? Is there a defining line that keeps good and bad separate or is everything swamped in duality?
AB - I like to build bridges between the personal and the political - to show that big things like wars and activities in parliament or congress are driven by some of the very same passions that can be found between two people in a kitchen. This isn’t to ridicule ‘high politics’, rather to show the continuity in human nature across large and small issues.
E - Is writing a natural way for you to express yourself or a way to explore yourself and then release it into the domain of the public?
AB - Writing is a way of staying sane. I love the sense of having found words to describe a feeling that I have long had but never quite been able to pin down properly before. And I want my books to provoke feelings of recognition in the reader.
E - Can philosophy get too personal? Is philosophy even personal at all ?
AB - No danger of the over-personal! At least not as philosophy is done at present, it’s the most relentlessly impersonal discipline, odd because it’s dealing with vital questions. That’s why philosophy has bored so many people over the last century: it hasn’t found the courage to sound intimate, it has equated seriousness with abstraction and logical distance.Follow @ElyseSimpson
Thanks to a generous and legal anonymous source I have officially heard the NEW Cher Single “Woman’s World” (demo version) and am so very excited to be one of the lucky few to have a taste of Cher’s upcoming album!!
Produced by Paul Oakenfold, the single will not be released to the general public until January 2013.
Longtime fan of the legend, I am not ashamed to admit my intense hair envy and of course deep love of her career.
After her first album in 11 years, Cher returns with power, dance beats and that iconic audaciously deep voice.
Although in my mind nothing can touch upon the days of Half-breed this new single comes as a swinging hit towards a new direction for the Queen of Reinvention.
The track’s independent reverse James Brown anthem feel blends with production elements similar to that of singles from Far East Movement and recent Madonna.
Synth heavy with hints of something along the lines of Eurhythmics it looks like this catchy single
will keep the Goddess of Pop on her throne.
E - Grammy award winning producer John Shanks has said you are a “singer-songwriter in the true sense of the word” What do you think defines a singer-songwriter particularly in the new music era?
JD - I think what he meant was that I had a classic sensibility to what I did, kind of like the earliest folks in the singer songwriter genre - Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan. They were all each a self contained unit just with a guitar and a voice, meaningful lyrics, and they could pull off a peformance without the fanfare and the band etc. In this current era of music it seems to have gone back to the pop stuff that is all about image and marketing, being the most successful. Just go on youtube and see which videos have 300 million views.. I think to be a singer songwriter today you still have to care about the song and being honest in your music as your central focus and not disguise a bad song with beats to make it seem good.
E - You live in Tennessee but are originally from the UK. What do you find the biggest difference is between North American and European music markets?
JD - In America, audiences are a lot less loyal to artists they enjoy. They are influenced easily by lights and colours and once one big thing displaces the last thing they liked they leave the old big thing. Also in the USA its all about the “beat” of a song whereas in Europe its all about the song itself. That happened because radio sells advertising and faster, peppier songs are less likely to be channel changed. So it’s evolved into people needing to write more upbeat, conservative songs, which is a bad direction in my opinion. A bad thing about Europe is they are more influenced by fashion and image, so you can have a mediocre band that has a few hit records because they look good in skinny jeans but then they are forgotten soon when skinny jeans go out of style.
E - What drew you to Nashville opposed to other major American cities known for having pounding music scenes such as New York or LA?
JD - My wife and I tried out LA, I liked it (I love it out there) and she didnt, I think she liked New York but I didnt (too similar to London for me). Our families both live in Michigan and Indiana so this is a good location to be close and also better standard of living (cheaper) than LA/NYC.
E -You just recently performed on Jimmy Kimmel on August 23rd. Do you feel late night shows still have the same power to promote new music as they did say back with the Ed Sullivan show?
JD -Well, not like the Ed Sullivan Show, because literally that was the only thing on and EVERYONE was tuned in. Now everything is saturated with internet and everything else. I think TV shows are getting a handle on it because they are providing content in different ways that are being consumed by people - its not just about the one off show now, its about the youtube clips of the show the next day and what the fans post about it, the itunes episode if you want to buy it to your phone, the tweets about it etc. Hey, we’ll see if it makes a difference to my career - this isnt a one off for me, my team is prepared for this to be a springboard for other opportunities, other TV, getting on a big tour etc.
E - You are the former front man of the Dum Dums which gained large success opening for Robbie Williams and being well known through BBC. Was it hard making the leap from band front man to only man solo artist?
JD - Well a lot of Dumdums songs started with me in my room writing them by myself, so in that way it is similar. Either way the buck stops with me - as the frontman of a band you are the focus just as a solo artist is the focus. Its just as hard in that sense. Its easier being in a band because at the beginning we would help the cause work towards common goals— one guy was great at organising practises, another guy was a peacemaker etc. You need organisation to get anywhere as a flighty artistic type and luckily I now have a management company who work with me to get it all together, but before I was on my own and it was harder.
E - In your song “The Meaning of Life” you have a very strong lyric - “All of my life I’ve been afraid of myself.” Is this a feeling that’s aided or erased by being a performer? Does this make you more or less afraid?
JD - Funny, I dont really analyse my lyrics after I write them, I just write them and hope people “get it”, yknow, deep down. That line is really about being afraid to look at yourself beneath the surface, to see what makes you tick. I think that is scary for people because they dont know if they’ll find that deep down, say, they are just like their mother, or maybe they realise they act like they have high self esteem but they hate themselves inwardly because they are addicted to something and out of control. In my case, the next line says “been putting on a mask for everyone else” and I feel that all too often, the different masks I wear to different people. I feel like being a performer is the real “me” its the “me” I want to be but in a sense I am still putting on a mask - no one is seeing my angry side or my cruel side. I think being a performer is like any other mask you wear, say, for friends, family, workmates, lovers, and it is always scary to get to the bottom of yourself its easier to just live superficially and pretend…
Though this mid show epiphany probably won’t result in seeing the mixed roots siblings holed up somewhere in the Toronto anytime soon, it’s safe to say The Wood Brothers are welcome on Canadian soil anytime.
Originally growing up in Boulder, Colorado, the Wood Brothers, Oliver and Chris, came to Toronto’s Hugh’s Room, June 25 to support World Literacy Canada’s Satya Concert Series.
Hosted by musician turned Member of Parliament, Andrew Cash the event brought together dedicated musicians and their followers as a fundraiser to support the World Literacy foundation.
Taking the stage after opener Chris Assaad, the brothers and percussionist Jano Rix launched into covers and traditional pieces featured on their new live album, Volume One: Sky High to Wood Brother’s staples such as “Where My Baby Might Be.”
With the crowd warmed up, the two brothers hit a very personal note with the introduction to “Lovin’ Arms”. “This was written about our mum”. No stranger to how wonderfully poignant, vague and heartbreaking this song can be, as a regular on my playlists, even I felt a whole new level of intense warmth when hearing it live.
With percussive guitar and upright bass combined with mashed up rhythm, their sound comes across as if a hootenanny side stepped into a jazz club that got high jacked by a pots and pan blues band.
This genre-crossing is really what makes up The Wood Brothers live show and what they claim makes up Americana musical culture.
“To have all those things from music that we can draw from with our own experience and try to make new combinations,” said Oliver just after eating a post show dinner above the venue.
“It’s fun to go back to the roots of things and then go back even farther and really see where things come from. Then you can add another level of your understanding of the general concept of Americana which has such a vast foundation”
The Wood Brothers jumped from one genre to the next but never losing their crowd with diehard fans scattered throughout the set, enthusiastically singing along to “Postcards From Hell.”
Although there’s no blood relation between the brothers and Jano Rix the percussionist’s sentimental placement in the group whether on drums or vocals was undeniably cohesive.
A standing ovation to the end their set, they invited Chris Assaad and Andrew Cash on stage for their encore. Add another standing ovation and the night finally came to a close.
Looking at The Wood Brothers reaction to Canadian breweries, the crowd’s reaction to the band and the fact this has been only part of a handful of gigs they have done in the Great White North, one can clearly see there’s enough pull to bring these wandering organic brothers back north.Follow @ElyseSimpson
NORTH OAKVILLE TODAY – On hot summer days outside of the big city people may question what there is to do. Aside from pool hopping in the suburbs or tanning outside the local Starbucks, options can seem limited.
However, thanks to Oakville’s growing music scene, there is fun to be had, one just needs to know where to look.
On Sunday, June 10, Arnold’s Bar on Morden Road hosted a summer music night featuring local acts from around the GTA including Justin Dube, We Are The Wild Things and seasoned powerhouse headliner Crystylyne.
Donned in tank tops, aviators and shorts (the uniform of today’s music lover), the crowd ventured to the backyard outside venue of Arnold’s to show their support to new and familiar bands alike.
Despite the stifling heat, all the bands had people dancing, shouting and throwing their cares aside, in a celebration of the coming summer months.
With sounds ranging from screams to soft Circa Survive reminiscent falsettos, the night built to the standout of the event, Crystalyne.
Photo by Daniel J. Peragine
Usually recognized for their lead singer Marissa’s experience with her past band on Much Music’s Disband, Crystalyne played Arnold’s as the second stop on their Navigatour Tour to promote their new EP Navigate.
Hitting hard into their first song, Crystalyne comes off as energetic, welcoming and are obviously adored by the crowd of both loyal followers and newbie fans.
Sitting down with the band post-show, they engaged in an open and warm discussion about the obvious comparisons to Paramore, creative dynamic, future plans and the loyalty to their craft. The band’s close relationship was made obvious by their playful camaraderie.
Crystalyne’s presence may mark the introduction of more male heavy female fronted bands in the local alt music scene.
As the heat finally died down, watching the attendees exit the bar with beaming eyes and arms full of EPs, vintage high school inspired t-shirts and rubber wristlets, it became clear to this reporter that Crystalyne will be the local soundtrack to “Navigate” through the heat wave season.
Elyse Simpson is a freelance journalist and one of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20. Excerpts from her work can be found on her blog “With Elyse” http://elysesimpson.tumblr.com
Photo by Daniel J. Peragine
Editorial on The Toronto International Music Summit - Commissioned by Tanya Michell (Executive Director of The TorontoIMS)
Director X During his keynote - Photo by Hayley Roscoe
Well, that may be a slight exaggeration. Some presentations did run closer to 45 minutes but overall that was the theme at The 1st Annual Toronto International Music Summit. Key crucial information for musicians and mavens alike in a mere matter of minutes.
I checked in at 10am, coffee in hand at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel on Front and Yonge. Greeted by the massive registration line (hooray for the “we will take you in straight away” press sign-in!) of artists, songwriters and other attendees all eagerly waiting to get inside and start learning. To say the range of the audience was broad would be an understatement. Not even into the presentations, people were already exchanging cards, making connections, rubbing elbows and finding some way to get ahead.
Picking up the program for the event even the most unknowledgeable person about the music industry could tell the speakers were heavy weights. A&R agents, Marketing VPs, Hip Hop Icons, Juno Winners, all reflected on Executive Director Tanya Michell’s background in celebrity event planning and work with well known organizations such as Live Nation.
Conferences in general may tend to make people think of stiff suits, dry speeches and 5 minute question periods. This could not have been farther from the case when I entered the room for the first talk of the day on Music Training. Stiff suits instead were replaced by bright prints and sleek lines and dry speeches with 5 minute question periods turned into animated speakers encouraging an interactive audience.
30 minutes or less later the highly anticipated keynote from music video maven Director X started. Passionate, educated and hilarious, his speech made the perfect opener to keep a potentially restless crowd glued. Being in the audience for his address and chatting with him one on one afterwards in the lovely media room curtsey of the people at Audio Blood, I got the sense that the energy of the speakers and the audience were matched. People eager to learn stepping in stride with people eager to teach all in one place.
The rest of the day rolled through with panel discussions, a highly emotional spotlight speech from Kardinall Offishall and a chance for attendees to sign up for a demo deconstruction mentoring session with industry artists and producers.
Like with any good music/rock and roll type event the day ended with an after party. So one quick change and another cup of coffee later I was greeted at The Hard Rock Cafe by sponsors including Redbull and Jagermeister.
Entering into a room of dim lights and VIP passes galore it was obvious we were at the right event.
The live performances of Top independent artists, Dane Hartshell, Taya Marquis and a personal favourite of mine Solid Mas as well as others were already hitting full force to an even louder audience. A fashion walk through, hired crowd dancers, obscene amounts of flash photography would lead people to believe that this could not be the first year running of the event.
Settling down post-show to our event dinner in the downstairs of The Hard Rock with our greatly appreciated if not a little random swag bags (sugar free Redbull and NY Yankees hats anyone?) my photographer and I mulled over the event.
Heavy networking, short sparks of information, loud clubs, what could be closer to a mini boiled down version of what the music industry really is?
Hoping to attend next year I wait to see what other high game players the Executive Director will bring out and the momentum this newbie conference can gain.
Never staying still throughout the entire day the event really did bring the music industry home to Toronto in 30 minutes or less.Follow @ElyseSimpson