Tag Archives: New York

Artist Feature: Andrea DeFelice

Andrea DeFelice

Much of my recent work appears as a hacking together of disparate objects that weren’t built to work together in the first place. I explore interactions between the objects, reducing forms to basics, and responding to subjects of interest, such as proclaimed value/power placed on things, alienation through technology, significance, boundaries, and uselessness.

– Andrea DeFelice

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

AD: I was born and raised in New York. I grew up in Smithtown, later moved to the East Village, and then bounced around between Queens, London [the English one] and Brooklyn. I’ve been in primarily in Brooklyn since 2007 and my husband and I recently bought a home there.

I’ve been working as an Assistant Professor for three years and a visual artist for I’d say a solid decade. Drawing and printmaking were my first mediums. As a younger, darker me, I remember being very drawn to literary and medical illustrations, as well as art by the Romantics and the Dadaists. Into later years I shifted into moving image, sculpture, as well as increased incorporation of new media technologies. The work’s remained multi-disciplinary for the greater bulk of the time.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AD: Mirror-smashing? Reflection’s inward and subjective. It varies under the influence of someone or something [like Absinthe mixed with Tequila]. Regardless of how it’s directed, it’s examination and a human form of internal processing. It can be a healthy thinking process if not taken too far. Response is more of reflection’s counterpart. It’s outward and active. Response is reflection with… balls? Can I say ‘balls’?

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How does your work fit in with that definition?

AD: I suppose there’s some congruency in the relationship since the work is very driven by controversy and interactions. It’s from what I’d find to be generative of questioning—particularly in overall actions and doings in the world. Not that I’m asking, ‘Why oh why..?!’ about everything, or that my work is politically driven. But there’s consistency to attempt to decipher what doesn’t make sense, or to re-decipher what does. This examining tends to come out through the subject matter and through the media. Much of my recent work appears as a hacking together of disparate objects that weren’t built to work together in the first place. I explore interactions between the objects, reducing forms to basics, and responding to subjects of interest, such as proclaimed value/power placed on things, alienation through technology, significance, boundaries, and uselessness.

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

AD: I’ve been working on a series of mechanical sculptures. With these I’m mixing functioning components with occasionally disparate objects, then embedding them into shaped geometric forms. These forms are composed of layered substrates and various filler materials such as dirt, clay, rock, plaster, and metals.

I occasionally do work with an artist’s collaborative, The Institute For Wishful Thinking. Forming in 2008, this collective has developed projects in the U.S. and internationally including The Austrian Cultural Forum, Momenta Art, Center for Cultural Decontamination in Belgrade, Contemporary Art Center in Thessaloniki, Pori Art Museum in Finland, and Periferic 8 Biennial for Contemporary Art in Iasi, Romania.

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I’m thrilled to be doing Bushwick Open Studios in Brooklyn with awesome visual artist Michela Buttignol. I’m also working with another great artist, Jennifer Murray, on getting an upcoming show together for Porter Contemporary Gallery in Chelsea. Lastly, I’m looking forward to an artist residency in Harfnarfjordur, Iceland coming up for 2015.

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Danny Lubin-Laden

Danny Lubin-Laden

I have always been fascinated by the power of having a [brass] band that is able to play on the street with no amplification and have such a moving effect on the audience.

– Danny Lubin-Laden

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

DLL: I grew up in Berkeley California, and I’m currently living in the Fruitvale neighborhood in Oakland, California. I spent about 6 years living in New York, where I was studying music and working. In July I moved back to the Bay Area.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

DLL: I think Reflection and Response are very interrelated in the field of arts. Reflection as a musician and composer is super important to artistic growth. I look back frequently at songs and sketches of songs during my time with Brass Magic and really try to dissect the song, identifying my original voice and separating it from my attempt to recreate a sound that I had heard elsewhere. Both are super important to tap into. I’m always reflecting and analyzing and using those perspectives as a basis from which to respond by pushing forward. I’m always looking to hone my craft and achieve a more original sound. Luckily with Brass Magic, we function more as a collective, so we are able to bounce ideas off each other.

How does your piece Continuous Movements fit in with that definition?

DLL: Continuous Movements was one of the first songs I wrote for Brass Magic. I’ve revised it many, many times but I think it is a super solid example of the sound the band was developing. It is a prime example of how reflection and response has been important to what we do. When I first wrote the song it had somewhat of a New Orleans brass band feel. Over time I have tweaked it so much that it no longer sounds anything like that. It’s still definitely danceable, but the horn writing is completely different from something you would hear in New Orleans. I feel as though the most important thing in music for me is to try and build off the music I love and not to repeat or recreate it. This has been why Brass Magic continues to evolve.

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

DLL: Brass Magic is currently working on putting out another EP. This will most likely be something we just put out online. We printed our first CD in September 2013 and since then we have really focused on writing a whole new songbook for the band. I feel as though the sound of the band is the strongest it’s ever been. We have really dissected what we are doing and what we want to be doing more of.

In addition to playing with Brass Magic I have also been working on music with Kaila McIntyre-Bader, the awesome singer in the band Big Tree. She is such a talented songwriter with such a terrific voice, that I’m having a great time writing songs with her. Hopefully we will be putting out songs this year. We are still trying to come up with a band name that fits the music we make.

Who or what inspires you?

DLL: I am inspired by a wide variety of things. I grew up studying jazz and that became my whole world. I was blown away by the power of improvisation and its ability to transform a song and take it to the next, highly idiosyncratic level. We are still trying to integrate the aspects of jazz that we value into Brass Magic. Although jazz was once dance music, some of its danceability has been lost over the years. We are trying to capture some of those powerful rhythms in our music.

I also love brass band music, whether it be all of my favorite New Orleans bands or the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. I have always been fascinated by the power of having a band that is able to play on the street with no amplification and have such a moving effect on the audience.

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

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Artist Feature: Liz Borda

We welcome photographer Liz Borda to the Collective! We met Liz through friend and fellow photographer Lou Rouse. Born and raised in the New York City area, Liz currently makes her home in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Her photography represents a powerful look at the variety of the human experience and the stories that stem from these images contain deep Reflection and Response. Liz is active with her craft and is working on several new projects, including a piece about a young woman in the Bronx and the New York Dream Act. Liz drops some dope knowledge throughout this piece. Make sure to read her ideas and peep her work below!

Liz Borda

Something may trigger me to reflect on a moment, my life and my work. As a result I am active or inactive in my response. Being inactive is a response as well.

– Liz Borda

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

LB: I am a born and raised New Yorker. I grew up in Inwood, Manhattan and later moved to Flushing, Queens. Both places make me super nostalgic when I hang there. I enjoy going back to these neighborhoods and hanging out in my old spots, I love visiting my friends and family. I live in Sunset Park, Brooklyn now and dig it as well. All these places have incredible energy, people and eateries!

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

LB: I feel like reflection is a constant ongoing thing for me. Something may trigger me to reflect on a moment, my life, my work. As a result I am active or inactive in my response. Being inactive is a response as well. Will you act or not after the said reflection? I ponder this more with age.

How does your work fit in with that definition? 

LB: My work ranges from street photography, long format documentary stories and essays to doing assignments for not-for-profits, organizations, to shooting events and portraits. I feel like reflection and response happens in all these types of photography. Theresa from a project named Ladyride had panic attacks for twenty years and she felt her learning to ride motorcycles helped her overcome this. We talked extensively about it and we reflected on that time. She shared with me how she changed her life. I met her after she overcame this. The images I have captured of her you would never guess she had this earlier problem. To me these images show her response to her fears now.

Liz Borda: Theresa Takes the Lead, Ladyride Series

Theresa Takes the Lead, Ladyride Series. Theresa Thompson had a twenty-year history of panic attacks where she couldn’t drive very far in her car or truck. She believes riding was therapy for her and the panic attacks stopped after she started riding. “I think most of my life and relationships I felt pretty trapped, you know, wanted out but was afraid to leave and so this was probably the first major thing I did in my life for me that I was pretty much in control. Started my road to independence.”

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

LB: I am working on a project about a young woman from the Bronx named Janet and the Dream Act as well as the New York Dream Act. I am looking to keep working on long format stories, working with more organizations as well as to keep learning and trying new things with my photography. I want to keep pushing myself and enjoying this crazy journey I am on.

Coming Out of the Shadows

Coming Out of the Shadows

Who or what inspires you?

LB: I am inspired by many things around me. At times it can be a piece of music, walking around the city, a show at a gallery or museum, people in my life or reading/listening to a news report. I love listening to Morning Edition on NPR.

Stoop Life

Stoop Life

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

LB: Thanks Lou, Vicken, and The Lifestyle for this platform and for featuring me. Much love.

Shout out to …?

LB: My husband Joshua Auckenthaler, he is a talented retoucher and photographer. He is my rock. He is such a supportive partner. I also would like to give a shout out to my mother, sister, buddies and loving folks in my life. They offer another level of support and cheer me on. I love them all to pieces! Thank you!

Check out the following links to keep up with Liz’s photo projects:

Reflection and Response.

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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: 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: Adela Loconte

We first met music photographer Adela Loconte at the same Charles Bradley show where we met fellow photographer Ken-Grand Pierre. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Adela started her own production and photography company while completing her masters’ degree in advertising. She then lived in London and Barcelona and worked as a producer for the CMYK Independent Magazine Cultural Festival while also shooting/producing at the Sonár Music Festival. She then moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where she’s been shooting concerts and musicians nonstop. Adela links reflection to introspection and learning about the self, which can lead to meaningful response through actions.  For Adela, a photograph represents a reflection of a moment, a “register of time.” Peep the interview and some of her awesome images below!

Adela Loconte | Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Adela Loconte | Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Through the camera I get to reflect the moment, atmosphere, action, and feeling of the subject. My intention through the photograph is basically making people feel that moment in case they weren’t there or, in case they were, bring them back to it.

– Adela Loconte

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

AL: Hola! My name is Adela and I was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela but my roots are Italian.

I finished high school when I was 16 years old and started to study advertising in Caracas. During my second semester, I started to take photography classes, and became interested in it. I went on to get my masters degree in advertising at Santa María University, and while studying, I interned at Saatchi & Saatchi Caracas. After interning, I decided to open my own company with a friend and focus on production, photography, and design. Saatchi & Saatchi became our client, along with Leo Burnett, Venevision TV, Planeta Urbe and Loquesea.com, amongst others.

Adela Loconte - Charles Bradley (Music Hall of Williamsburg)

Adela Loconte – Charles Bradley (Music Hall of Williamsburg)

While I was in school for my masters degree and running my company, I decided to enroll in a photography school called “Imagomundi.” I really got into it and I spent two years there taking different types of analog camera courses.

After I finished my masters degree and my photography courses in Caracas, I decided to close my company in 2001, and head to the UK to continue my photography studies.

I chose London, because it’s where all of my favorite music was from, and I enjoyed the English sense of humor.  I started a Postgraduate degree in Photography at University of the Arts London, and was so excited that I sometimes even went to school on Saturdays!

I enjoyed London so much for 3 years. I studied a lot. I met incredible people there. I enjoyed cultural exchanges. I enjoyed amazing shows and festivals and it was time to leave, because the weather was not helping my tropical side. So, I flew to Barcelona, Spain where the weather was better and I could go to the beach as much as I wanted. I spend almost 4 years [there]. I worked there for CMYK Independent Magazine Cultural Festival, and Sonár Music Festival. I learned so much and had a blast, working as a producer for both festivals.

Adela Loconte - Courtney Barnett

Adela Loconte – Courtney Barnett

The last Sonár Music Festival I worked. I got the opportunity to do two different jobs at the time, one for Barcelona and the other one for Venezuela. Apart of working on the production side at Sonár, I got to shoot the festival for the main newspaper in Venezuela called “El Nacional”, when all of the sudden my camera got stolen in the middle of the festival. At that moment, I only had on my mind how many months of hard work were gone, instead of the camera and the films the thief took.

When I was living in London I put my self into the craziest schedule someone could have lived in. I was sleeping about 5 hours a day. Finishing my Photography Master, having a daytime job during the week at a company and during weekends at nighttime a job as a bartender, and I was also studying on Saturdays. My goal at that time was buying this amazing camera I was dreaming with, it was a Nikon F5 (film camera) and some lenses and new flash. I worked for 6 months nonstop. I was falling asleep everywhere, at the university, in the train, at the bus, and at the office. I aimed for the Nikon camera, 5 Nikon lenses and a Nikon flash and finished everything I put myself into it. All those months on nonstop work just got stolen at a festival.

I feel so much frustration after that episode that I went into different life phases. I did produce photographers. I did assistant photographers. I quit for some time photography and then I came back. Barcelona at that time was starting to go into their economical crisis; companies where paying really bad and I couldn’t get a new camera as fast as I did in London.

Adela Loconte - Kirin J Callinan

Adela Loconte – Kirin J Callinan

So, time to start again! Let’s leave Barcelona for New York!

First, I came to New York to visit for a month and out of the blue, the most hardcore city open its arms and super welcoming me! I never thought I was going to live here, honestly. Basically, I have been based in Williamsburg for the past 7 years. I been working for CMJ Online, CMJ Music Marathon Festival, Brooklyn Vegan, SPIN, and IMPOSE magazine.

I also worked for Vme Media/Channel Thirteen, Sheik ‘n’ Beik, and Metal Magazine as a Producer.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AL: Reflection is our own introspection and the willingness to learn more about our own nature, purpose in life and essence. Through introspection we find responses, those that make us create a plan to develop our own path and to aim our goals.

There is a wonderful quote by W.T. Yeats, that I really like, and it says “It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than is does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”

Adela Loconte - Red Hot Chili Peppers (Barclays Center)

Adela Loconte – Red Hot Chili Peppers (Barclays Center)

How do music photography and portrait photography fit in with that definition?

AL: Through the camera I get to reflect the moment, atmosphere, action, and feeling of the subject. My intention through the photograph is basically making people feel that moment in case they weren’t there or, in case they were, bring them back to it. [With] portraits I’m all about people’s essence and their anatomy.

The response will be my introspection towards music. Music is a worldwide language and Photography is the register of the time.

Adela Loconte - Franz Ferdinand (Hammerstein Ballroom)

Adela Loconte – Franz Ferdinand (Hammerstein Ballroom)

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

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Artist Feature: Kate Phillips

We met up with Kate Phillips through LIFESTYLE Collective member Steve Laciak. The two have been performing together for some time and it was dope to hear more about Kate’s creative story. Originally from upstate New York, Kate has lived all over the United States performing as a singer and dancer and in musical theater. Kate brings up various dope fresh ideas to the Collective touching on creative reflection and response and growth within artistic communities, the important role of the performer as a provider of solace for an audience, and other themes from the perspective of a creator that has always stayed true to the craft. Kate Phillips continues to forge a creative path filled with new and exciting projects  in her current home of Tennessee and we are lucky to feature encouraging words of wisdom from an experienced and invigorating creator.

Kate Phillips

 An entertainer provides a moving sound, a fresh look, and quite often a new perspective. That role is essential in our society, allowing imaginations & expressions to cultivate change and growth.

– Kate Phillips

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

KP: I lived in upstate New York as a child, riding my bike to the village library and along the Erie Canal, through a lovely town called Fairport. Growing up there was a wonderful experience, but since I couldn’t wait to live in a big city, I moved to Manhattan on my 18th birthday. After spending 6 years in “the big apple” because of a couple of dance scholarships, I was fortunate enough to begin a career that involved travel. For 2 years I sailed around North America, while performing on cruise ships as a singer and showgirl. I have lived in 8 different states and toured the country as a “triple threat” in musical theatre. The latest adventure I took a leap for has led me to a beautiful place, nestled in The Great Smoky Mountains, as I’m thrilled to now call Tennessee my new home.

Kate Phillips

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

KP: Recognizing that all of this is a true gift that I was meant to share and ultimately ‘giving back’ to people in my community. First, I give credit to the creative education I received; understanding how I have been influenced by such amazing teachers. Then, I recall moments of excellence I’ve witnessed, gathering inspiration from other talented artists and friends… always studying their methods. I was, and still am, surrounded by people who dedicate their life to their art, and I believe we are all reflections of each other. 

Listen to more of Kate’s music here: http://www.reverbnation.com/KatePhillips

How do your performances fit in with that definition?

KP: All of the extensive training and sacrificing a singer-dancer goes through can be difficult at times, but I have a personal theory about this. For the duration of the show, each member of the audience is given a chance to escape. They are encouraged to sit back and relax since someone else is “on” for the moment. Whatever may be causing them grief, sadness or pain, just disappears for that short amount of time.  An entertainer provides a moving sound, a fresh look, and quite often a new perspective. That role is essential in our society, allowing imaginations & expressions to cultivate change and growth. That person on stage is what I call “Brasilient” (brave and resilient). Considering numerous auditions, disappointing rejections, painful injuries, missed holidays with family, and ongoing challenges, we continue developing as a seasoned professional, because it is our purpose.

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

KP: This has been a pretty exciting journey! Last year, I performed at The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. A holiday song I recorded played on the radio for 2 years in a row. Recently I reunited with the love of my life after several years apart, and together we have fulfilled a life-long dream by combining our musical talents as a duo. This year I began volunteering again with at-risk children & teens in my community by teaching workshops in the evenings. Next, I look forward to announcing a few new projects that are still in the works, including a music video and more collaborations with local songwriters.

Kate Phillips

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Achilles Kallergis

Just a couple of months ago we connected with Achilles Kallergis at El Born, a dope Spanish restaurant down the street from us. This multi-faceted Brooklyn-based artist by way of Athens, Greece, and Switzerland utilizes his guitar to reflect on and respond to the various sets of stimuli that comprise the reality we live in. Achilles has recently dove into the art of Flamenco music and he celebrates the power and continuity of this folk art form that has handed down generations of style, melody, and story. Drawing on his global presence, his future projects involve recording albums with connected artists from around the world. In a piece that locates the power of song as a common denominator around the globe, Achilles breaks down the collaborative and improvisational possibilities of music.

Achilles Kallergis

Art is very esoteric and personal but it is also an attempt to connect and communicate with people, the need to feel part of the world, of a place, of a community. And that is a contradiction: the secret or mystic world of the artist crying out for contact and connection with the rest of the world.

– Achilles Kallergis

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

AK: I am from Athens, Greece and currently living in Brooklyn NYC for the past five years. I’m a musician, guitarist, and composer interested in both written and improvised music forms.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AK: Any artistic expression is a response or in response to something experienced. Art reflects life, lived or even un-lived experiences so reflection and response is always at the center of any piece of art.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AK: Especially in improvised music (whatever the style) I think everything is response and reflection. It can be a response to a musical phrase, to one note or texture (even to the sound of the cash register at the bar). At the same time though it reflects the mood, personality and experiences of the performer. It is responding to and “being at the moment” while reflecting who you are. 

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

AK: Recently I’ve been getting obsessed with flamenco. It’s definitely a new art form for me which I started getting deeper into more recently. Definitely challenging in every aspect but also extremely deep in a unique way. It is really heavy and powerful music. Also, at a time where everything is about the next “new thing” or new sound it is very refreshing to go back to a folk music form, that does not claim to be innovative but strongly rooted in the history of its people. One that has been orally transmitted from generation to generation and that brings with it the tumultuous history of Gitanos, perhaps the most misunderstood and persecuted group in history. I feel this connection to the past is something that is missing from many new music idioms. Maybe flamenco showcases the importance of response and reflection – a response and reflection on the history of Gitanos by Gitanos.

In terms of new works, I’m looking forward to record two albums. The first one will be based entirely on my compositions and will document my working jazz quartet featuring Timo Vollbrecht on saxophone, Adam Hopkins on bass and Nathan Ellman-Bell on drums. I’ve been playing with these guys for a while now and I’m grateful cause they are all amazing musicians who manage to add a new dimensions to my music.

Another exciting future project is a collaboration with some musicians from Switzerland featuring Ganesh Geymeier, great saxophone player and improvisor, Michael Gabriele and Marc Olivier Savoy who are both members of Ouizzz one of my favorite bands (make sure that you check them out!). I will be joining them for a recording in Switzerland next summer and I am really happy to reconnect and play with these guys. 

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Noah Garabedian

Bassist and composer Noah Garabedian is originally from Berkeley, has lived in Los Angeles, and now resides in Brooklyn. It was a long time coming, but we were able to catch up with Noah recently at Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn, where he played with his group The Slim Tones – a flat-out incredible set featuring their signature honking-tenor rhythm and blues. A hardworking craftsman, Noah plays with multiple groups spanning an eclectic range of sound and genre, including – along with The Slim Tones – Big Butter and the Egg Men, The Amigos Band, and the Rebirth Project. In the following dialogue, Noah breaks down his approach to music and discusses his current and future projects. Keep an eye out for a couple New York engagements this weekend and The Amigos Band’s upcoming tour in Southeast Asia in March. Check it!

Noah Garabedian

Everyone experiences countless provocations of the senses everyday, and reflection is the moment one takes to acknowledge its occurrence. Response is the way one acts after that experience.

– Noah Garabedian

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

NG: I’m from Berkeley, CA, and I currently live in Brooklyn, NY after 5 years in Los Angeles.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

NG: Reflection is the process of digesting material that has penetrated one’s exterior and provoked a reaction; whether it be within or out for all to see. Everyone experiences countless provocations of the senses everyday, and reflection is the moment one takes to acknowledge its occurrence. Response is the way one acts after that experience.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

NG: My current ensemble that I compose for is called Big Butter And The Egg Men. It is a sextet comprised of bass, drums, two tenor saxophones, alto sax, and trumpet. The compositions and sound of the group combine several influences of mine. I cannot help being influenced by experiences of my past, not only musical, and those inevitably show themselves in my writing and improvising.

As a music student, you are constantly told to understand and respect the history, the tradition, and the rules. Then you are told to throw it all out and to be creative and original. I suppose my own compositional process and my own approach to making music on the bandstand, is a response to my reflections of the past or just old habits I developed by rote.

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

NG: I am currently excited to be working on two other projects. The first is The Amigos Band. We play all types of American music – country, Cajun, blues, and jazz. We just released our first full length album, Diner In The Sky, and on March 10 we will be representing the US State Department as musical ambassadors on a 5 week tour throughout Southeast Asia. The second project I am working on is called the Rebirth Project. The music I am currently writing for this project is traditional Armenian folk music, mixed with improvisation, and combined with a contemporary compositional aesthetic.

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Amber Stiles

Musician and songwriter Amber Stiles is at the center of a talented and inspiring group of artists centered in Madrid, Spain. I met Amber at the well-known Triskel Tavern where musicians from all over the world seemed to find a home on its stage during Thursday open mics. Since playing there, Amber has been performing all over Madrid focusing both on her own material and collaborating with others while beginning recording at Spaceland Records. Peep the dialogue below for Amber’s words on her folk/country music, her artistic growth in the city and other ideas from this expanding and creative artist.

Amber Stiles

One of the reasons I love folk music and country is that it’s generally very simple in form and it allows you to explore subtle variations with your voice, tempo, lyrics, etc. I enjoy singing a song the way that I’m feeling it at that particular moment.

– Amber Stiles

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

AS: I’m from a small town in New York State, about half an hour from the Canadian border. It’s about 6 hours from the City and 4 hours from Buffalo. No one can really figure out where it is. We have a Dairy Princess Parade and obviously lots of cows. I’ve moved around quite a bit since I left home but I’ve spent the last 4 years in Madrid, Spain.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AS: I’ve never really thought about it before but I suppose the word reflection conjures up a few thoughts and images. I associate it with a mental process, a forming of thoughts and beliefs. On the one hand I think it’s important for us to process what we see and what we experience. I interpret and share my experiences to connect with other human beings. But at the same time I think too much introspection can make us overly cerebral and rigid. If we assign an idea a name and call it a belief we’re really limiting ourselves in a lot of ways.

I suppose I relate more to response. I approach music in that way, at least. I don’t try to overanalyze a song or break it down into a set formula. I prefer to intuitively explore things. If I think about what I’m doing too much I get overwhelmed and blocked. Yeah, Response is definitely more interesting for me. I figure my intuition is utilizing more resources within me than my conscious, rationalizing brain can muster.

How does folk music fit in with that definition?

AS: One of the reasons I love folk music and country is that it’s generally very simple in form and it allows you to explore subtle variations with your voice, tempo, lyrics, etc. I enjoy singing a song the way that I’m feeling it at that particular moment. One of my first idols was Billie Holiday and I always admired how much feeling she put into her vocals. Sometimes her songs were sad and slow, other times lively and upbeat. I always try to stay tuned into the meaning of a song and how I’m interpreting it in that moment.

Amber Stiles

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

AS: Recently I’ve been collaborating mostly with Miguel Gonzalez who is a very talented vocalist and gifted songwriter out of Texas. We play acoustic sets at intimate cafés around Madrid which is the atmosphere I feel most comfortable in, really. I’ve also been providing vocals for Padraig O’Connor and Richard Harris, both musicians that I have deep respect for.

My next goals are to write some inspiring songs and get into the studio. Richard Harris is running Spaceland Studio at the moment and it’s a great opportunity to capture a moment in my life with the incredible musicians I’m surrounded by. I’m decidedly lo-fi so taking the plunge into the studio is big for me.

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