Category Archives: Music

Artist Feature: Kinan Azmeh

Kinan Azmeh is a clarinetist and composer we recently connected with through musician Timo Vollbrecht. Kinan grew up and studied music in Damascus, Syria, and has continued with his craft in New York City over the past 13 years. Throughout his interview, he discusses various strands of Reflection and Response, whereby artists sometimes reflect on their surroundings and on other occasions work to idealistically recreate realities. However, in Kinan’s opinion, art allows him to access another world of emotion not readily available in everyday life. Along with his words, this multifaceted artist showcases some incredible compositions that display his range and creative vision. He’s released three albums with his ensemble HEWAR, a duo album with pianist Dinuk Wijeratne, and an album with his New York-based Arabic/Jazz quartet, and the future is filled with some ill upcoming projects including a commissioned flute concerto, film scores, and tours in Europe, USA, and the Middle East. Peep the dialogue below along with some dope sonic landscapes from this dedicated craftsperson!

Kinan Azmeh | Photo by Jill Steinberg

Kinan Azmeh | Photo by Jill Steinberg

Making music is an act of freedom by default.

– Kinan Azmeh

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

KA: I was born in Damascus, Syria, and have been living in New York for the last 13 years.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

KA: If we think about it on the most general level then we do realize that this is how nature works, cause and effect, action and reaction. In the arts, reflection and response are a little bit more complex. There are several schools of thought when it comes to the arts, one that says that the artist’s role is to reflect on the world around him/her, others say that the artist’s role is to recreate the world in the most idealistic way. I don’t subscribe to either camp; my personal philosophy is that we make art to experience emotions that we don’t have the luxury of experiencing in real life, some kind of fantasy world that is more complex than what is experienced in our daily lives.

What have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

KA: I grew up playing western-classical music in Damascus, a city that is very rich and diverse in its musical traditions, then moved to New York. That opened my eyes (and ears) to a variety of music that I enjoy performing today. I have been wearing different hats at different times, sometimes playing as a soloist with orchestras performing western classical repertoire, at other [times] you would find me playing with my Arab-Jazz quartet in New York, and other times playing with electronics and visual arts. I am now at the stage where I am trying to bring all these heads under one hat. I am working now on a concerto for improviser for soloist and orchestra. I do feel that music is a continuum and I would like to [replicate] that in my musical life as much as possible. I have a number of projects that are coming up including a commission to write a flute concerto, a couple film scores, and also a number of tours are coming up in the US, Europe and the Middle-East.

Who or what inspires you?

KA: I am inspired by what’s around me, my life, the lives of others and nature. However, the main idea that is occupying my brain for the last three years is home, Syria. Since the revolution began three years ago, I started to wonder about the role of art: can a piece of music feed a child, can it stop a bullet? Certainly not. But it inspires me to know that I have the power to inspire someone else, to reflect and to think. I am also inspired by the belief that making music is an act of freedom by default, which continues to provide me with the tools to keep creating. The piece “a sad morning, every morning” was written to commemorate one year of the Syrian revolution in March 2012. The title says it all, you get up in New York, first thing you do is you turn on your computer and you “put your hand on your heart” as the saying goes, waiting for the sad news to come from home (since Damascus is 7 hours ahead). The piece was written in very little time and it gave me the peace of mind i needed at that particular moment. It was also the first piece I wrote after almost a year of a silence.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

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Artist Feature: Diane Ghogomu

Recently I saw that someone had posted a preview of a documentary project on hip-hop in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on a friend’s Facebook wall. After researching the project a bit, we sent an email to one of the film’s three creators, Diane Ghogomu, who welcomed the idea of participating in the LIFESTYLE Artist Feature series. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Diane has been living in Buenos Aires for some time, where she has worked along with Segundo Bercetche and Sebastian Muñoz to produce Buenos Aires Rap.

Diane discusses the Reflective and Responsive nature of hip-hop in the film, which follows the lives of various artists involved in this art form in the Argentine capital. Diane and her co-directors will be screening their project at the Buenos Aires Film Festival this year, and are currently fundraising in order to put finishing touches on the project and begin distribution. Check out the interview, trailer, and stills from the film below!

Segundo Bercetche | Diane Ghogomu | Sebastian Muñoz

Sebastian Muñoz | Diane Ghogomu | Segundo Bercetche

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

DG: I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! Steeltown, represent! Right now I am living in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

DG: Reflection and Response is the process of acting authentically to each situation that is presented to you. I always think of the Lion King. Simba had to follow his guide Rafiki to the water to see himself. Simba had to look in the water and reflect on his situation, speak with the ancestors, see his own image in the shore before he knew how he had to continue. His response was more powerful because it wasn’t reactionary, but to a powerful impulse backed by his spirits! That’s how he knocked evil’s block off!

Buenos Aires Rap

How does your project Buenos Aires Rap fit in with that definition?

DG: Buenos Aires Rap embodies Reflection and Response in various ways. First off, this project follows an incredible amount of artists whose music is a response to how they reflect on their own identities, their own existences, their own ways of life.

Lukas (Buenos Aires Rap)

Lukas (Buenos Aires Rap)

Those artists who truly respect and understand the history of hip-hop and rap see themselves reflected in that history and the present hip-hop culture. Many of the Bolivian immigrants who live here in Buenos Aires spoke about being able to relate with African Americans living in ghettos during Reaganism. One of my favorite quotes comes from a character named Anton who says, “Through hip-hop I’ve been able to comprehend a lot. I’ve thought a lot. I’ve learned a lot. Here people who have been here for less than 200 years are going to tell you that you are an immigrant when your ancestors have been here since Before Christ? That’s not right. Nationality is only a lack of identity!”

Milito (Buenos Aires Rap)

Milito (Buenos Aires Rap)

That is a beautiful thing to me. These characters are able to reflect, transform, and respond through hip-hop and rap.

Secondly, the job of the documentarian is to do just that: reflect and respond. Anyone who tells you that documentaries are objective are lying to you. Our job is to reflect on a social phenomenon, and respond by placing a camera where and how we see fit. In this project we tried to reflect an image of Buenos Aires that is oft-ignored. Even people who live in Buenos Aires will have a hard time naming all of the urban landscapes that pass by on their screen. We hope that the impact of our project will be a process of reflection and response. Buenos Aires is often painted as a white and European society, without leaving space for her true colors. We hope people can reflect on the truths of the black, the brown,the ghetto-dwellers, the hardworking, the crazy, and those that are just looking to have a little fun, and realize that all of these narratives make Buenos Aires what she is. The response should be an integration of these personalities into the imagery of Argentina. Buenos Aires, reflect! THIS IS YOU!! As one of the characters Rasek raps, “We know you won’t understand it if we rap it, so we’ll breathe it into you.”

Buenos Aires Rap

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Liam McClair

Liam McClair is a singer-songwriter out of Wilmslow, Cheshire, England that we met through our homie Sobi Thurairatnam. For Liam, Reflection is about unbiased retrospection and balanced analysis of the past. His music provides a medium for reflection on lived experience. Liam discusses this process through a showcase of songs from his first EP, How. We’re excited to say that he’s soon to drop his second EP HONEY through HourGlass Productions, and he’s also looking to perform with a full band after its release. Check out the interview below, stay tuned for tour dates, and make sure to check out the new EP soon!

Liam McClair

Reflection to me is considering the positives and negatives in a previous situation, but trying to be as objective as you can to ensure that you are seeing the outcomes and effects as they are and not from a biased position.

– Liam McClair

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

LM: I am from Wilmslow, Cheshire in the UK. I have been performing as a solo singer-songwriter for nearly a year. The highlights have been having my track played at Old Trafford twice, playing at Liverpool’s Sound City, being featured and interviewed on BBC Introducing Merseyside, and the continued support online from radio stations, fans and blogs.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

LM: Reflection to me is considering the positives and negatives in a previous situation, but trying to be as objective as you can to ensure that you are seeing the outcomes and effects as they are and not from a biased position. I reflect often with my music as my writing process is quite organic so upon reflection I can understand the theme of the song and subsequently direct the song towards that theme. Response is a person’s reaction to a stimulus, whether that be sensory or physical.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

LM: My song writing is predominately based on reflections. Most of the songs I have written have been based on personal experiences and personal emotions. Within my Debut EP, How, all of the songs are based on reflecting on a time and they are responses to things I have seen or experienced. The first track Roam The Globe acts as my travel journal from times I have spent abroad:

Rough Waters is a description of ending a relationship and the difficulties involved and experienced:

Somewhere Before is the story of a couple with dementia which I responded to initially, however I didn’t realise that was the topic of the song until I reflected on it:

How is a song I wrote about the feeling of pure desire you have when first encountering someone you really admire:

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Zachary Baron

Our fam Zachary Baron is a pianist and accordion player straight out of Hyde Park, New York. Growing up around classic American showtunes and Broadway numbers, Zach continues to celebrate and play these tunes today with unique arrangements. He highlights the benefit and value of honest, unconscious response and warns against forced interference of the creative voice. He’s been working on original tunes and ill boogie-woogie piano stylings. Eclectic inspirations are a central part of Zach’s dialogue and he also reiterates the often-overlooked importance of simplicity. We’re grateful to break bread with a dedicated and informed creator. Peep the words and pics below!

Zach Baron

There is depth in simple things. It takes time and you have to dig in…

– Zach Baron

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

ZB: I grew up in Upstate New York in the Hudson River Valley in the town of Hyde Park. The Hudson River is one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever seen and I miss it all the time. Now I live in the San Francisco Bay Area–East Bay where all the good stuff happens.

Musically I grew up on classic American Broadway showtunes. Rogers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe etc. Since so many of those tunes became Big Band and jazz standards it was easy to follow them into those areas. I’m kind of an all-American sentimental, schmaltzy guy and I like all-American sentimental, schmaltzy music. I’ve never gotten too far away from that.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

ZB: I’m going to leave out ‘Response’ and just deal with ‘Reflection’. I think of reflection, from a creative standpoint, like the reflection of a mirror. A song, a painting, a performance is a reflection of the artist’s experience of the world. The hard part is to be an honest, spontaneous mirror–to get out of the way and not try to consciously influence the process. Keith Jarrett said, “Sometimes I play things I never heard before.” That’s the great place to be–creating in the moment and surprised at what’s coming out of you.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

ZB: I play a lot of old songs. I play a lot of music that I played when I was a kid. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve played it, it matters how I play it right now. Your mirror doesn’t say, “You again? We’ve done that already!” It just reflects, faithfully, instantly and with no extras. I’m not saying I’m alway there in that space or that there aren’t technical aspects, but the thing that takes a performance to the next level, whether it’s for myself or a crowd of people, is that honesty and purity.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

ZB: I have slowly but surely been working on my boogie-woogie piano–it’s way harder than it sounds. I would like to find the time and the nerve to sing some of my own songs at an open mic somewhere.

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Mike Gervais

Mike Gervais is a guitarist, singer, and songwriter, and  lifelong resident of Seattle, Washington. As he witnesses a changing city climate, Mike writes image-based music that inspires feelings in the mind of the listener, preferring to position his creative output within the physical dimension of response. In the interview below, Mike describes the natural imagery behind one of his songs Aurora Borealis and some of his inspirations such as impressionism and Chuck Close. Working extensively with his brother Matt as “Mikey and Matty,” the two have begun a busy 2014 playing dozens of shows and writing new songs they look to record over the next few months.

Mike and Matt Gervais

I don’t want to change or rearrange anything. If I could be successful at songwriting at all, I’d hope that what I came up with put a picture in the listener’s mind. I’d prefer to be an impressionist or even a Chuck Close to being a Jackson Pollack. Even though I envy that type of work.

– Mike Gervais

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

MG: I realized recently that I’ve experienced 21% of the entire history of Seattle as a life-long resident. Imagine the time elapsed since the Denny party first settled here- 163 years, as the price of your dinner date… My age is the tip. I suppose that I should consider this when lamenting the construction projects that seem to be replacing all of the old brick and 70’s architecture with steamy hot-yoga windows under impossibly expensive “mixed-income” apartments. I walk around mostly humming tunes and looking for plants coming up through the cement. Even though we’re so close to the mountains, it seems like it’s getting harder to feel that they’re so close. I think we could all use a good long walk up there.  

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

MG: I think a reflection is a response. I’m mostly about the tangible, equal-opposite reaction type of response. If light waves are bouncing on a puddle in the road, I want my music to be that reflection. I’m only looking for images that convey feelings. I don’t consider myself worthy of interpreting and translating events and relationships- I don’t want to change or rearrange anything. If I could be successful at songwriting at all, I’d hope that what I came up with put a picture in the listener’s mind. I’d prefer to be an impressionist or even a Chuck Close to being a Jackson Pollack. Even though I envy that type of work.

How does your song Aurora Borealis fit in with that definition?

MG: I work exclusively with my brother, Matt Gervais. Most of our work fits somewhere into the imagery=feeling spectrum. This is the first time I’ve had an interview without him, so I chose to highlight a song I can speak to more personally, Aurora Borealis. I tried to tell this story exclusively through pictures, and I normally look to nature for the best ones. The tide goes out twice a day and these squishy, delicate animals are exposed to the seagulls and the sunshine. You could write a thousand songs about that. Or the chaos of Saturn missiles going off on a dock at dusk in summer. I love the grandiose and the hopeless.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Wax Roof

We met music producer Wax Roof through our homie and fellow LIFESTYLE collective member Mike Summer. Originally from Santa Cruz and now living in Oakland, Wax Roof discusses the importance of personal experience when listening to music and the unique connections each of us have with different sonic textures. He stays busy putting out solo instrumental records while also working on upcoming collaborative projects with vocalist Genoa Brown and MC Marc Stretch. Peep his words below and check out some tunes from an ill Bay Area beatsmith!

Wax Roof

Your taste and receptiveness to certain sonic textures are the product of a lifetime of experiences, musical and non-musical. No one can take that from you.

– Wax Roof

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

WR: I am originally from Santa Cruz, and now live in Oakland. I grew up in the Santa Cruz Mountains before going to high school and college in Santa Cruz and finally working and living in the Bay Area. So the migration has gone woods, to the beach, to the town.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

WR: Well that’s a really hard question, isn’t it? I mean those are two aspects of existence that are so vast and personal I am not really doing them any justice trying to define them in a cute one liner. I think they mean more than I can ever fully understand, but put simply to reflect is to try to find meaning, and to respond is to try to do something meaningful.

Wax Roof

How does Wax Roof fit in with that definition?

WR: Wax Roof is the ever evolving sum of my journey through the cycle of reflecting and responding to life and the music I witness within it.

Your taste and receptiveness to certain sonic textures are the product of a lifetime of experiences, musical and non-musical. No one can take that from you. It is very unique and in the same way that you search for identity and a sense of happiness [it] is sought through REFLECTION and RESPONSE, so goes your pursuit of music that moves you. Everyone should take pride in their musical taste, whatever it may be, because it is something YOU have created. Wax Roof is the by-product of my taste as a fan for music, who also has the means to create their own.

We are never passively observing culture, we are always creating culture simply by internalizing that which we witness.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Bosa

I first met the dude Bosa in Madrid, Spain when I was looking for someone to pick up my MIDI keyboard and PA speakers before I moved back to the US. Upon meeting him, it was dope to know that this equipment would be going to someone active and dedicated to his craft. Bosa is a composer, videographer, and rapper from New Jersey that is currently based in Madrid. Already having put out numerous records, his upcoming debut album Futures We Remember is currently in production with a release date at the end of the summer. Bosa starts off his interview with a LIFESTYLE feature first!! He breaks the ice with an original video featuring a verse on Reflection and Response along with further ideas stemming from the interview questions and shout outs to the many people he is working with in Spain. In the accompanying written piece, Bosa discusses his new record as an example of musical Response and also lets us know that it’s important to live the arts we practice, not just use them in our daily lives. Bosa is quickly becoming a fixture in the musically active landscape of Madrid and we look forward to witnessing his future work. Peep the dialogue below and be sure to check out the pics and clips Bosa has provided along with his groundbreaking intro video!

Bosa | Photo by Khaelin Damm

Bosa | Photo by Khaelin Damm

My first album, “Futures We Remember”, is a musical response to the reflection I hope to see of myself when I look in the mirror. The meaning of that is up for interpretation. For me it refers to all the dreams I have about music and the life that accompanies it.

– Bosa

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

B: I was born and raised in Lumberton, New Jersey. It’s your everyday suburban town, not far from Philadelphia. I also spent four wild years at Syracuse University “studying” broadcast journalism.

Since I finished school a few years back I’ve been living in Madrid, Spain. It’s my little heaven on Earth and I can’t imagine leaving anytime soon. It’s a city full of life, culture, and groovy people. Also an absurd amount of jamón.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

B: At this point in my life “Reflection and Response” means finally taking a complete leap of faith as an artist. A good friend of mine told me one simple thing that has always stuck with me.

“My brotha, you can’t make music or do art you have to live it” – The Other

It’s not a crazy concept to understand but it’s one hell of a task to actually do. Music is everything for me. I think about it the same way one would crush on the cute girl in grade school. I daydream about concerts and making the perfect song a thousand times a day.

Reflecting on this I know I’d never forgive myself for not asking out music before the big dance. So my response is to do everything in my power to get her to notice me.  

Bosa | Photo by LABL FOTO

Bosa | Photo by LABL FOTO

How does your work fit in with that definition?

B: My first album, “Futures We Remember”, is a musical response to the reflection I hope to see of myself when I look in the mirror. The meaning of that is up for interpretation. For me it refers to all the dreams I have about music and the life that accompanies it. My friends always tell me I have a hyper-active imagination. For better or worse I always try to conjure up ways to turn my ridiculous ideas into reality.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

B: Outside of the album I’ve been secretly working on dance moves (the same way Zoolander worked on Magnum) and a big release party at the end of the summer. Madrid is one of the funkiest cities I’ve ever been to and it has revived my obsession with disco and Motown culture. If you invite me to your party expect Earth, Wind, & Fire and a Soul Train line to take over your dance floor rather quickly.

The Groovestep era is here Generation-Y. Prepare yourselves.

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Armando Pérez

Armando Pérez is a focused and prolific musician, composer, and producer originally from Chicago, and currently based back in his hometown after stints in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Over the years, Armando has been an important, contributing figure in various musical scenes, with projects ranging from composing/recording under the name The Single Helix, hosting DJ sets and other concerts, playing with Latin fusion group Jugo de Mango and Afro-beat/cumbia ensemble ¡ESSO!and spinning house and global soul music. In his interview, Armando comments on Reflection and Response through the intriguing nature of his surroundings and the process of absorbing its various scenes. He also discusses his efforts to stay continually busy to help fuel positive production and creativity. The future is naturally bright and full for Armando with records coming out for his various projects along with multiple upcoming performances, so we were lucky enough to catch up with him for the feature below!

Armando Pérez

It’s pretty cathartic to read your own unfiltered thoughts. It helps put life into perspective.

– Armando Pérez

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AP: I was born and currently reside in Chicago, IL. I am working and living in the Hermosa neighborhood, writing and recording new music under the alias The Single Helix, as well as hosting monthly DJ and live music nights around the city. I’m blessed to have the outlets I do; performing with Latin fusion band Jugo de Mango, performing Afro-funk and cumbia with ¡ESSO!, and DJing global soul and house music. I do music full time: licensing beats, engineering live shows, guesting with musician friends and recording various artists. Having lived in Los Angeles and San Francisco, I decided Chicago had the best scene for my creative aspirations. Home is where the heart is, so here I am.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AP: For me, it means I discover who I am and what I stand for: I witness, I absorb, I process, I respond. There are so many variables in where we are and what we see and feel. Strong moments make me reflect on what it means to be true to myself. It leads me to my voice.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AP: I am surrounded by city life. I see people, friends and family coming and going, searching, dealing with their social and professional triumphs and problems. It all affects me. My entire creative life has been a documentarian response to all these experiences. I keep journals. I read them back and find idea nuggets to make new music. I’m literally talking myself into it. It’s pretty cathartic to read your own unfiltered thoughts. It helps put life into perspective. Beyond those lyrical ideas and notes, melodies sometimes come to me out of nowhere, sometimes in my sleep! I’ll have to wake up, get my guitar, figure out the melody or chord structure and record it on my phone. When I sit down to write, it comes out more controlled. Once my vocal melody is solid, I can fit it to lyrical ideas phonetically. It is all reflection of what I’m feeling.

Armando Pérez

What have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next? 

AP: I am really excited about releasing a special song I co-wrote and recorded with the talented rhumba flamenca, Vivian Garcia. We are now finishing the video for our single, “Loc@s.”

I’m also wrapping up a personal album of sexy songs entitled “Pillowtalk”  featuring prodigious opera singer Erica Rose Sauder. It will be released under the SonicOctopus/Dilligaf label at the end of April.

In May I’ll be completing an album with West Coast producer extraordinare Izznyce. We are working as a breakbeat collaborative called Oso Gigante, repping San Francisco and Chicago. We will be releasing our first record “Rarities Vol.1” and be back in the studio with emcee Planet Asia in early May.

Beyond that, I have DJ remixes in the works for the dance floor and a live ¡Esso! record and tour planned for this summer. Did I mention the new Jugo de Mango record coming out this Spring?

What inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Timo Vollbrecht

Composer and improvising jazz musician Timo Vollbrecht lives and works out of New York City and Berlin — collaborating with various musicians along with leading and performing with his own group. He discusses Reflection and Response as a multi-faceted concept, and highlights the subtle difference between creatively responding to specific experiences and responding to a collection of indistinguishable stimuli. Timo’s music represents the moment-based nature of improvisation as well as the decidedly trained character of composition. Check the dialogue and showcase of his work below!

Timo Vollbrecht

Some of my compositions are a direct response to an experience…Most of the time, however, my music responds to a conglomerate of different things that are often hard to distinguish. The beauty about improvised music is that you can respond to the very moment. This is what makes it so special – for musicians as well as for the audience.

– Timo Vollbrecht

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

TV: I was born in Stadthagen, a small town in Northern Germany. After living in Wyoming, Berlin, and Barcelona, I moved to New York in 2010. I am an improvising and composing artist, who plays saxophone and reeds. I live and workin between New York and Berlin, am involved in several projects and lead my own group.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

TV: Reflection can unveil your source of inspiration as an artist. If you take your time to reflect on your experiences in life, on your encounters with other people, their cultures, their points of view, your thoughts and especially your emotions and sensations, you have SO much to tell. The most important thing is to keep an open mind in life. Then, responding to your experiences in your art will happen naturally. If you are true to yourself, you will develop your own taste and thus, make your original musical decisions.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

TV: Some of my compositions are a direct response to an experience. An example is “Tale of Jordan”, which came into being during a Middle Eastern tour with my band. Among other places, we also played in Amman, Jordan, and took a bath in the Dead Sea. In Ramallah, during our concert on a roof top, the Muezzin next door started to chant and we spontaneously integrated his chanting into our free improvisation. “Tale of Jordan” reflects on these unforgettable moments. Most of the time, however, my music responds to a conglomerate of different things that are often hard to distinguish. The beauty about improvised music is that you can respond to the very moment. This is what makes it so special – for musicians as well as for the audience.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

TV: I have been composing music for my next album, which I will record in June, before taking off to an artist residence in Italy with my partner-in-crime, guitarist Keisuke Matsuno, where we will be working on a duo-program. Besides that, I am getting ready for a month-long European tour, which will start on April 3rd in Osterode, Germany, which happens to be my grandparents’ hometown.

Who or what inspires you?

 

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Artist Feature: Ayo Dot

Ayo Dot is a rapper and songwriter who was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and currently lives in Seattle. A seasoned artist, he now performers throughout the Northwest with his group Ayo Dot & The Uppercuts, featuring keys, drums, guitar, bass, and backup vocals. In his Feature piece, Ayo breaks down the importance of silence and mental Reflection leading to positive, organic Response. He also comments on the constant improvement in our Responses as we continually get to know ourselves better as people. Check out the dialogue below to read about his tracks My Dreams, Thinking About You, and Mo Ti So, along with an upcoming EP from the band!

Ayo Dot

Response is how I react to everything I’ve internalized or reflected upon. It should be organic and natural. The more you know who you are as a person, the better your response.

– Ayo Dot

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AD: Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria – West Africa. Now a resident of the great Northwest. Seattle. I represent the West 2x.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you? 

AD: Reflection to me is a time out. Silence. It’s when I get to take a mental stock of things. I break things down. Good or bad. Determine how to take the good and build on it or take the bad and make it better. I’m in my head a lot. That’s my happy place.

Response is how I react to everything I’ve internalized or reflected upon. It should be organic and natural. The more you know who you are as a person, the better your response. I’m getting there.

Ayo Dot

How do your songs My Dreams, Thinking About You, and Mo Ti So fit in with that definition? 

AD: The song My Dreams really just latches on to the idea that you should never really let people dictate what you can or can’t do. Build your own ship and sail it.

With Thinking About You, I wanted to do something that was borderline dark. If you check out the video, you’ll know what i mean.

Mo Ti So is my Ode to smack talking and also recognition of my Nigerian roots. I opted to keep part of the chorus in Yoruba, one of the languages spoken in Nigeria.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next? 

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