Photos + Interview w/ Highwind

Recently, I got a chance to ask musician and friend Chris Russo of Highwind a few questions. Highwind is an alternative rock band from New Jersey, who just put out their debut ep “How’ve You Been?” earlier this year. If you haven’t, I highly recommend this checking out this band.

 

What’s your favorite show you’ve ever played? Who was it with? Where was it?

I have two answers for this. When I was in My Lonely Heart, we played a memorial show for our drummer after he passed away. And there was no other feeling quite like playing that showing and feeling all of the love that everyone in attendance was showing towards one of my best friends. The other answer being the release show for, “How’ve You Been?”. The feeling of hearing and seeing so many people singing back the lyrics to a record that came out THAT DAY was magical. It was surreal. And really gave me faith that Highwind was special.

 

What’s your favorite show you’ve ever attended? 

I have SO many answers for this. Yellowcard’s final New Jersey show was flawless. It was the most emotional I have ever gotten at a show for multiple reasons. When I was in MLH, we opened for the Jersey show of As It Is’ O.k.a.y. USA tour, and I think that was my favorite As It Is show to date. Seeing them play a floor show to 500 kids was WILD, and I crowd surfed probably every song. Seeing The 1975 sell out Starland Ballroom was pretty mind-blowing too.

 

Who in your life influences you to keep creating music the most? 

I have a lot of friends that give me a new reason every single day to keep writing and keep playing. My producer for “How’ve You Been?”, CJ Rarela, constantly inspires me to keep pushing myself and move forward. My best friend, CJ’S brother Adam. He was the best musician I have ever had the honor to play music with. Who he was inspires me to keep pushing forward every day.  Listening to my favorite bands and seeing how far they’ve come is always a really good motivator for me.

 

What is your songwriting process like?

It…just kind of happens. I get the idea for a new song and I just let it happen. The lyrics and music just kind of happen it at the same time. Sometimes I’ll get an idea for a chorus and I’ll build a whole song around it. Sometimes I’ll start from the beginning of a track until the whole thing is finished. Sometimes it takes me 15 minutes to write a song, sometimes it takes a month or two.

 

What song took the longest to write off of “How’ve You Been?” ? 

Technically Afterlife. I wrote the song a year before I recorded it. And then re-wrote the chorus mid-way through recording the EP. Bi-Polar took months because that song went through 3 or 4 lyrics revisions.

 

What song was the quickest to write off of “How’ve You Been?” ? 

Wednesday, 2 O’clock. I wrote the whole song in a half hour to try to calm the nerves I was feeling about seeing a therapist for the first time. The anxiety drove that song. I just felt so nervous of what I didn’t know and that feeling drove that whole song.

 

How was it working on Bi-Polar with Nina Schrimer?

Nina is an absolute angel. I’ve known her for a few years now. And she has always been a very kind soul. I knew she had to be on Bi-Polar. I told her about the song and she was super excited about it from day one. Actually seeing her and hearing her in the studio was wild. I’ll always support anything and everything she wants to do in life. She deserves so much happiness.

 

Do you plan on collaborating with anyone else soon? 

I have so many bands and singers that I would LOVE to collaborate with. Nothing is in progress quite yes, but I plan on shooting out a few emails down the road and seeing if it gets me anywhere.

 

I know “How’ve You Been?” just dropped this year, but any new music in the works?

Yes! I have some new music in the works for later this year. It’s going to be out a bit later than originally planned, but I want to give these songs the time and attention that they deserve. Very excited for everyone to hear these songs!

 

Photos + Interview by Madison Boyce | Highwind : Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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Keeping NEPA Strange an Interview w/ Josh Balz by Emily Sulkowski

 

Being odd is typical for artists. It’s what makes us all unique. Josh Balz took the idea of odd and amplified it. Owner of the Strange and Unusual Oddities Parlor in Kingston and Philadelphia, PA, Josh has certainly added a little gem to the often dreary North East, PA. I sat down with him to talk about how life has been after his transition from being in a touring band to running his store full time.

I started by asking if the transition from touring to being grounded back in PA was strange?

“ I love the area, I grew up here and always lived here.” He says.

He certainly thought the transition was strange, since the hectic touring life took a lot out of a person, “ I never felt busy, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, since I was only running the store, not doing both.” He said while talking about reconfiguring his life after leaving his band.

I asked about his music, Strange Kids, which he’s released two singles under, and more importantly if he was releasing more music, “ I’d like to, it’s more of a hobby right now.” Genre wise, Strange Kids and Motionless in White are very different. Josh said, “ It’s all based on my emotions, what I’m feeling at the time.”
In NEPA, Josh is somewhat of a hometown hero. I asked him if support from local fans had ever changed after coming home. “ I think there’s more support now. The store and Motionless have the same vibe. It goes hand in hand.” His employees at the store said his fair share of fans still come in, excited to meet him. Fans and locals alike still love the shop, enjoying how different it is among the repetitiveness the Valley seems to see often.

Owning a store like this comes from a love for weird things. “ I always enjoyed them (oddities). The stuff comes from all over. A lot of vintage taxidermy” He said when I asked how he finds his unique items, “ It’s definitely a process.”

In a town full of pizza shops, I wondered how a shop selling human bones and spell books does so well, “ I wanted to do something different here,” Josh said when I asked what inspired him, “ Everyone told me I was going to fail.”

Balz said that the shop does very well, being able to sell such unique, incredible items and still stay afloat, where in a huge city it would be difficult. Having the backing he did, it’s no surprise the shop is well loved and received. While wrapping things up, I asked him how it feels to know his music and his parlor help so many people. Being weird isn’t always easy, and he’s always made people like him feel a little less like outsiders. I asked if he ever wanted to have that effect on people. “ Always. I’ve always been a very supportive person. I love helping other people.”

Josh has always encouraged people to be themselves, and be interested in unique things. He’s very proud of who he is, and everything he’s built. “ I hope people come in, to see the shop and try the cafe.”

The Strange and Unusual Oddities Parlor sits at 467 Wyoming Avenue in Kingston, Pennsylvania. Now boasting a Harry Potter themed cafe called Steamy Hallows, serving cookies, Butter Brew coffee and hot chocolate covered in glitter, The Strange and Unusual is a little gem in a town that people seem to forget. Give the shop a visit, buy a skull or two with your coffee, and never be afraid to be a little weird.

Interview courtesy of Emily Sulkowski  | SHOP NOW :  The Strange and Unusual

Follow Josh Balz here

 

 

Interview with AMMO

What inspired you to start a career in music?

I was working a corporate job in New York and flying around doing shows for MTV. My whole life became about climbing the corporate ladder and cheap, fleeting fame. Both made me incredibly unhappy. So I started writing music again. First, in private. Then, after I had more confidence, I started sharing it with friends. Writing and performing made me so happy I quit my job in New York, stopped making TV shows with MTV, and moved to Nashville to make a record.

How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before? 

It’s got a lot of heart, a lot of soul. I like Bossa Nova, Soul, Funk, Jazz, Rock. There’s a lot of those influences in my music. 

To a new listener, what song would you suggest they listen to?

My favorite song I’ve released is ‘Macy.” I love the writing, the style, the production. I was lucky enough to work with Mike Wuerth who is an incredibly talented producer in New York. Together, we made something I was really proud of.

 What is your biggest goal for this year, musically 

Keep pissing people off and causing trouble and making art that hurts, helps, and heals. 

 What is the meaning behind your most recent release?

The next song I plan to release is called “Blue Eyed Blues.” It’s about ‘white tears.’ While I was writing it I thought to myself: what does Donald Trump cry about at night? Missing out on a yacht sale? How stupid. People are dying all over the world from illness and starvation and we have all these rich, white people in control, whining and complaining about shit that doesn’t matter at all. That’s the Blue Eyed Blues.

What inspired the the song Macy?

My ex girlfriend. I’m a queer person so I don’t align myself with gender or sexuality. This song is about discovering as much while I was in the middle of my relationship with her.

Will there be any upcoming new releases or tour dates in 2019?

Oh god. I have terrible anxiety and any time I think I’m feeling brave enough to release music I freak out and put it off. Luckily I just signed with Revel Relations for my PR and Twin Crest Entertainment for my Management and they are helping me find the motivation and the courage release music and start scheduling shows.

Something you want your fans to know? 

Be yourself. Unapologetically. Make people angry. For every person who hates you for being brave enough to be yourself, there will be another person who is inspired. Life isn’t about getting everyone to love you, its about finding the courage to love yourself.

Name a 501C3 you are supportive of.

National Center for Transgender Equality. They are incredible. I would encourage anyone who is in the process of transitioning or considering doing so to check them out. You have rights. You have people who will stand up for you and fight for your right to live however you’d like. No one can take your choice from you! Your body, your life: it’s yours to do whatever you want with.

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Questions courtesy of Cristine Trimarco

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Interview with Kathana

What inspired you to start a career in music? 

My life has always revolved around music. I never even considered another career path. I started singing at a very young age and enjoyed it so much that I just kept going with it and never looked back.

How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?

My music is a mix of electronic sounds and organic instruments. My producer and I like to lean towards EDM so people can dance and sing along easily, and we always try to add in our own unique flavors by using trumpet, electric guitar, and a lot of sampled sounds that we find ourselves. Sometimes we throw in some sprinkles of other genres like hip hop, jazz, Latin, or swing just to push the boundaries of pop music and make our songs sonically intriguing.

 To a new listener, what song would you suggest they listen to?

Check out Show Me Love. It’s a fun, easy to dance to song with a meaning that I think a lot of people could relate to.

What is your biggest goal for this year, musically and personally?

My biggest musical goal this year is to reach more people with my music. Personally, my goal is to have developed more self-love by the end of the year. Self-love is so important, because the way we perceive and experience the world depends on our mindset. And when our “cup” is full, it overflows and we can give more to others.

What is the meaning behind your most recent release?

My newest single “Running Wild” will be released soon. Follow me at @kathana.music for updates and the release date, (TBA).

“Running Wild” is about dealing with anxiety while being a relationship.

What inspired the song Show Me Love ?

My sister was going through some relationship issues, which inspired me to start writing the song. The guy she was with was very unpredictable. One minute he was there for her, and then would suddenly disappear, and this went back and forth over and over. It reminded me that I had experienced the same thing, and the song quickly became a story of my similar experience.

Will there be any upcoming new releases or tour dates in 2019?

There are no official release dates yet but as I mentioned “Running Wild” will be released next and there are plenty more to be released this year.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m a delegator extraordinaire. Need an itinerary? I will have it planned and mapped out down to the minute. I also swing dance, and I can identify almost any fragrance in food. Boom! Next question 😜

 Something you want your fans to know?

I love getting to know more about them and building true friendships through social media.

Have you faced any hardships being a women in the music industry / What advice do you have for other young ladies getting there start in this male driven industry?

Yes, I’ve definitely faced hardships. I encourage other young female artists to stand up for themselves and set boundaries, and know their worth.

Kathana’s social : Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify | Soundcloud

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Interview by Cristine Trimarco

 

Interview with King Soloman

KING SOLOMAN 4

 What made you get into music, and what are your inspirations?

I always had a niche for music. When I was younger I started playing the guitar and then later switched to the drums. I started taking private lessons and went to Edward R. Murrow high school for music. Every now and then professional musicians would come in to give a demonstration and I would be very inspired by their talent. It made me want to learn more about music and it drove me to practice more. Growing up in Brooklyn, I was inspired by Jay-Z and Biggie, but truth is watching Joey Badass, Powers Pleasant, and other Murrow heads make it, really caught my attention. Watching them really taught me a lot of lessons.

Do you have any new music coming out or working on anything new?

Just last week I dropped a new single called, “I Need That.” You can follow updates on my Instagram @Kingsoloman_ . I also have more songs that I’m working on for the album dropping this June. Everyone will have to wait for that. I’m sure the new song will get people hype.

 What do you do if you find yourself in a musical rut?

Usually I try my best to avoid it but sometimes its inevitable. If it happens I just relax, take some time to myself. I revisit whatever song I’m working on and try to continue the vibe. If it flows smoothly then I know I’m out of it.  If I still cant write lyrics, rap, or just focus on the music in general then I wont even try to record that day. You want everything to make to be with good energy so if the vibe isn’t right then it isn’t my night.

What is your ultimate goal?

I want to get better as an artist and grow everyday. Im always working and practicing my technique so my goals constantly change. I have a lot of goals so its hard to focus on one. I guess you can say my goal is to get signed by a major label within 3 years after my debut album which will be coming up this June.

Who do you consider the pioneers of your genre?

DJ Cool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Hands down Biggie & 2-Pac. Tribe Called Quest. NWA. I mean the list goes on because rap and hip hop is always changing.

How do you feel about music pirating/ fille sharing?

Its just a big mess. I understand why people do it. Its free. But people don’t realize how much work actually goes into a song, album, or music video. They don’t realize the hours put in to producing, mixing, and editing. For creators we want recognition and credibility along with an income from our investment which is the music. I don’t like it. People deserved to get paid for their work.

What is the music scene like for you in South FL?

Everybody is trying to be a rapper. I feel like its very common in Miami. A lot of artists are making it by doing shows in Wynwood and south beach. For up and coming artists, Wynwood is great. Every weekend there is an opportunity to do a show and get recognition.  Its very different from what I’m used to because in NYC everyone is hyped up and energetic in the club. Miami is mostly has a laidback and chill vibe but if you know your spots you will get a good crowd. Events happen every weekend so If you are really determined to make it as an artist you can get your music out there.

 If you could dine with any muscian in the world, dead or alive, who would it be? Tough question, I know, but you have to choose one!!!

Honestly it has to be my boy Heavenly Thoughts. He is a local rapper in Hollywood Florida and my dude can keep up a conversation for days. I know I will entertained and he will probably pay for dinner so I’m good. You need to check out his music on SoundCloud. Heavenly Thoughts is his name.

What’s one music memory you’ll never forget?

That’s tough. I would have to say when I recorded Brighter Side. It was like a Tuesday and I was visiting new York. At the time I didn’t plan on rapping or releasing any music. I was just playing basketball with my friends Tariq & Paulie then afterwards we went back to Tariqs house to make some beats and then he showed me brighter side. I looked a paulie and I was like we making a song right now. Mind you that paulie never recorded before. Everything came together and that was the moment that started the pursuit of making an Album.

What do you love most about music?

The fact that it brings people together. No matter what background you come from, music will introduce you to people you would never meet through your daily interactions. I know from personal experience. I remember one time when I traveled to London I met someone from France who loved Biggie, and I was in shock that he knew so much about the music. He might have even been a bigger fan of Biggie then me. It was a crazy experience. We grew up in 2 different countries. Just from talking about music we instantly become cool with one another and its hard to get that interaction from most people. Shout out my boy Fred.

Listen to King Soloman on Soundcloud

Interview by Ashley Grace

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Interview with Times Like These

Times Like These is a 4-piece pop rock band from Long Island, New York, consisting of vocalist Mike Acampora, bassist Zach Dyer, guitarist Eddie Giuffo, and drummer Cody Omage, have toured throughout the East coast, finding new fans everywhere they go with their energetic and intimate live performances.

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What was is like working with Hope ( Vista), while covering Panic ! At The Disco ?Hope is amazing! She’s super talented and her band is phenomenal! Working with her was amazing and we would love to work with her again.  You can view the cover here.

You worked with Rian Dawson ( All Time Low ) on your song, “Take me Home “.  How did that go ? We clicked with Rian and his assistant Dan right off the bat. It was such a smooth process and it honestly couldn’t have went any better. We can wait to work with them again.

Where did the band name come from ? Did you have any others chosen first ?
Times Like These actually comes from a lyric in the old All Time Low song “Noel”. We had a few other names in mind but we didn’t like any of them as much as we liked TLT. Two that stick out to me are Sound The Alarm and Easy Target.
What was the very first show you played, who was it with, and how did it go ? The very first show we ever played was in our friends backyard and it went pretty well for our first show. Our friends in Break Down The Walls and Suburban Zombie also played. Everyone killed it that night.

Out of all of your releases, which is your favorite song, and why?
My favorite song we’ve ever put out at the moment is Take Me Home. Writing it came so natural and it’s so much fun to play live!

Times Like These | Interview questions by Madison Boyce

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Interview w/ Jacqueline of Jacqueline City Apparel

Hello, I’m Jacqueline City, owner and creator of Jacqueline City Apparel. Jacqueline City Apparel is an online women’s boutique with unisex, plus sized and kids’ options. Our first unisex line “The Classic Collection” is currently live on our site. Our Spring women’s line “The Manic Pixie Collection” is live on Friday, March 1st on our site. The line is a feminine black, white and pink line which is inspired by “manic pixie dream girls.” Head to JacquelineCity.com and sign up for emails to become a citizen of Jacqueline City!

  1. At what age did you develop an interest in the fashion world?

From a very early age, I’ve been interested in fashion. My mother and grandmother love to tell stories about me as an infant, before I could even talk or walk, picking out my own outfits. In stores I would feel fabrics and pull down clothes into my coach. This eventually led me to picking out all my own outfits, make shopping my number one hobby and even try creating my own clothes. I taught myself to sew at age 6 or 7 and starting making fake magazines filled with my designs. It has been a long journey filled with ups and downs that led to Jacqueline City Apparel.

       2. What inspired you to start this brand?

Since I’ve always had fashion in my veins, Jacqueline City Apparel was truly destined to happen. I’ve always dreamed of pursuing art is some way, but I’ve switched my focus a few times between painting, music, writing, and fashion. Art has always been my life, but now my focus is completely on the fashion world. I’m disabled and had to have my dreams take the back seat to my health for quite some time now; however, I’m finally able to start pursuing my passions. Jacqueline City Apparel is perfect for me because I can take my time and work from home, so I can pursue my dreams, while still focusing on my health.

      3. All of your apparel is 100% vegan, and includes no use of animal products. Why is that important to you?

As a vegan, making Jacqueline City Apparel a completely vegan brand was very important to me. I’m very much an animal lover, so I do not buy any animal products or by-products. My brand is for everyone, including vegans!

      4. While looking through the sizes, I saw sizing I don’t see often, everything from baby clothes to 5XL. Is there anything that specifically inspired you to be all inclusive?

Jacqueline City Apparel’s “Classic Collection” is a unisex collection with adult sizing up to a 5X as well as kids and baby options. The mission behind The Classic Collection is to be inclusive of everyone. I think too much pressure is put on women in fashion and the media to be a certain size, a certain skin tone, a certain height, and more. There’s a very specific ideal, unattainable beauty standard in the world today that’s truly absurd. Everyone should feel beautiful. Everyone should feel represented in the media. Everyone should be able to shop where they want to. Here at Jacqueline City Apparel, all are welcome to be citizens of Jacqueline City no matter your age, size, race or gender.

        5. While reading a bit about you I learned you are proud to be a disabled girl boss, can you share a bit about what it’s like living with your disability?

My disability is called dysautonomia, which means I can not regulate any of my autonomic systems and anything that should be automatically happening in my body. It’s affected everything from my thyroid and my temperature to my digestion and my blood pressure. It’s made my life incredibly difficult the past few years with major symptoms like nausea, dizziness, vision problems, brain fog, migraines and fainting. I was bedridden for some time. I have come a long way to be functioning the way I am now. I hid it for awhile, but now I’m proud to be disabled because of how far I’ve come on this road.

  1. What is your best advice to those with disabilities who also have big goals set like you do?

My biggest advice is to not feel ashamed or like any less of a person. I really struggled with my disability and shut a lot of people out because I did not know how to cope with it. I had to put myself and my health first for a long time; you need to know that’s okay. It’s okay to need time for yourself, and it’s okay to not be on the same schedule as a healthy person. You should not compare yourself to anyone else. I had to learn to accept help from others and I still struggle with not feeling like a burden. Your disability may make your dreams harder to achieve, but it does not make them impossible. You may have to find a new way to go about achieving your dream, but never give up the fight.

        7. What is your favorite piece you have released so far, and what are you most excited to release for the Manic Pixie Collection that drops March 1st?

My favorite design from The Classic Collection is the pop art design currently available on t-shirts and hoodies! I think the cartoon is adorable. I’m most excited to release the Not A Concept Painted Denim Jacket because they are hand painted by me. I glued the  jewels and faux pearls on to each one. I put a lot of thought and love into these jackets so I hope they’re well received. I hope everyone enjoys both lines!

      8. Where do you see your brand in a year from now?

I hope to expand Jacqueline City Apparel with many more collections over the next 12 months. I hope to have pop up shops and events as well as runway shows. I also hope to design more of the pieces by hand as well. Stay tuned to see how Jacqueline City Apparel grows!

       9. Do you plan on getting Jacqueline City apparel in stores? If so, what is your dream store to be sold in?

I do not have any plans to be in stores or own my own store at this time, but perhaps in the future.

       10. How can we best keep up with all future releases?

Signing up for emails at JacquelineCity.com should keep you informed on all things Jacqueline City Apparel! We also have Facebook as well as Instagram . You can also stay in the know with my personals being Instagram and Twitter ! I love responding to everyone. I often re-post anyone wearing Jacqueline City Apparel!

  11. What do you have to say to your supporters?

I’m so thankful for the support I’ve received so far. I was bedridden just 3 years ago, so to be able to now own my own business is so amazing to me. I hope you continue supporting me, so I can expand Jacqueline City Apparel. Please stay tuned to what else the brand has in store!

Interview by Cristine Trimarco

All photos courtesy of Veronica Takes Photos (Veronica Zin) Instagram / Facebook

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