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MUSIC

J. Cole's K.O.D. - First Listen Album Review

Kassandra Ramirez


By Kiara Ramirez

“This album is in no way intended to glorify addiction.” Beneath this text is a sobering image: teens consuming various drugs ignorant to what it may possibly lead to. While most popular music will only portray the carefree, fun side to drug use, J.Cole's “K.O.D.” forces you to see how this mentality has damaged many aspects of today's society. While drug use itself is one issue, this problem seeps into other areas of society as well. Many subjects are discussed throughout the album including social media, taxes, guns, education, and the state of democracy.

K.O.D. By J. Cole - Cover Art Design By  Sixmau

K.O.D. By J. Cole - Cover Art Design By Sixmau


My most recommended song on the album would have to be “Brackets.” This song creates a vivid picture both with it's title and the vast amount of imagery presented within this lyrical poem. The track, “Brackets,” discusses the power our government system holds when collecting and distributing the country's tax money. Often times, people of color pay into the system but fail to see the equal benefits provided to White America and the upper class. The story told within is one that deeply resonated with me.


With 12 solid tracks and a total playtime of 43 minutes, K.O.D. should definitely be listened to. At the end of listening, it felt somehow therapeutic that someone was able to tackle many tough subjects honestly. A recurring phrase that appears throughout the album is one that can be adopted for everyday life. That phrase is: Choose wisely.

2019 Phoenix Lights Photo Set & Review

Kassandra Ramirez

By Ashley Null

Phoenix Lights is an amazing two day festival of music, love and everything other-worldly, on April 5th & 6th, 2019 at The Park at Wild Horse Pass, Relentless Beats held an invasion unlike any seen on earth before! The Line up featured some of the top performers in Electronic dance music, including; Big Gigantic , Excision , Kaskade, SAN HOLO , Yultron , WHIPPED CREAM , and dozens more.

Phoenix Lights 2019 - Photo by Ashley Null -  www.amp-photo.com

Phoenix Lights 2019 - Photo by Ashley Null - www.amp-photo.com

Musical artists were spread over 4 stages, the hard part was picking which stage to be at and when! There were so many amazing food vendors with so much to choose from with 20+ vendors selling food and gear all over the festival grounds. The cashless event used your entry bracelets as your currency for the event, you could add money before the event online or use the convenient top-up booths in the vendor areas. This made it easy to buy from anywhere on grounds without having to worry about losing your money.

Phoenix Lights 2019 - Photo by Ashley Null -  www.amp-photo.com

Phoenix Lights 2019 - Photo by Ashley Null - www.amp-photo.com

Multiple “chill zones” were on site if you needed a break from the stage or needed a place to sit and eat, from the iheartraves space bar with lots of shaded areas to sit and relax to the UFO pit covered in backlights and a circler padded area to hang with friends.

Phoenix Lights 2019 - Photo by Ashley Null -  www.amp-photo.com

Phoenix Lights 2019 - Photo by Ashley Null - www.amp-photo.com

Relentless Beats did an amazing job of pulling this event off, make sure to go check them out on facebook and instagram @relentlessbeats for upcoming events! Visit phoenixlightsfest.com for more information on the Phoenix Lights Festival.

Phoenix Lights 2019 Photo Gallery by Ashley Null - www.amp-photo.com

 

Psilosapiens Performing at the 3rd Annual 4/20 Bash in Flagstaff, AZ

Kassandra Ramirez

By KBR

After this interview, I am convinced that the number of rising artists with the intention of love and peace is growing in Arizona. Art allows the self to express and when there are people expressing the emotions of what it means to be human and being grateful for the experience, it is obvious art can be a beautiful way to negate the negativity. When first listening to Psilosapiens, my first impression showed me an eclectic group would evoke love in their music, and would like to shed light on good music. If you feel like it could be your vibe, I would suggest checking out a show and following them on all platforms as soon as possible.

When scrolling past one of their recent posts on Instagram, I took a listen to their newest single at the time, “We Are,” and after just a moment of listening to the track, I was impressed. After listening to “We Are” just once, the melody of the track got stuck in my head, and I quickly became a fan of the trio.

The Psilosapiens’ sound is a beautiful blend of a variety of genres. “The Psilosapiens fuse hip hop, rap, loopers, synthesizers, didgeridoos, flutes, guitars, violins” and their positive and poetic lyrics to create a one-of-a-kind vibrating sound. Luckily, I was successful at landing an interview with Stefan, Cooper, and Summer, where I learned more about the band’s story of origin and inspiration. If you’re in Northern Arizona and itching for an unheard sound, watch and listen to The Psilosapiens perform this Saturday on April 20th at Cornish Pasty’s 3rd Annual 4/20 Bash. You will not be disappointed!

Psilosapiens - Photo by  KBR

Psilosapiens - Photo by KBR

Interview has been edited for clarity

How did The Psilosapiens come together?

We met spent 6 months traveling back to Flagstaff, AZ from the Eclipse festival in Oregon. We spent most of our time living out of Stefan’s van. “It went surprisingly well. The van’s name is Whitney the White Whale. We all slept in separate places and just traveled in my van. All of our stuff was in my van; it was pretty crazy (Stefan)." “Stuff got lost in crevices we didn't even know existed and they were lost forever (Summer).”

After the Eclipse festival, we traveled to hot springs and waterfalls. “During this, we even ended up having to escape a forest fire that was less than a mile away. There was 200 people there, ages 2-80. We go off to set up a slack-line over the water and we suddenly hear Cooper say “holy fuck” and there’s smoke in the air that looks less than a mile away. During this panicking moment, a helicopter then drops a crossed out “EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY”replaced by a new message saying “DANGEROUS, STAY PUT (Stefan).”

“We Are” by Psilosapiens

While you were escaping the forest fire, did you think you might die?

“Oh yeah, in one moment, I saw a wall of flames about two football fields away from me and the animal in me told me ‘yep, I am going to die (Summer)’”.

Everyone in the whole group of people ended up okay which is crazy. We ended up hiking nearly 13 miles throughout the night, which was so cool. We got to see a beautiful waterfall late at night. It was glowing. We were probably one of the only few people who got to see that.

It’s pretty cool because before this all happened, Cooper was playing a new song, “Here We Go” as we were hiking in one day, and we were all just jamming out. I feel like it helped everyone stay calm during the panic.

Psilosapiens - Photo by  KBR

Psilosapiens - Photo by KBR

What is your favorite artistic medium?

Cooper: Before The Psilosapiens, I was a painter. I also knew the didgeridoo and started playing guitar. I started to create music as a form of healing. I picked up a loop pedal, then got a bigger pedal. I also play violin, Native American flute, and beatbox.

Summer: Initially, my weapon of choice was dance. I have been dancing for over 15 years. I started painting in college. Now I sing, and even rap. My artistic medium definitely moved from movement to auditory art. Singing is definitely my favorite right now.

Stefan: Writing has always been a huge passion of mine. I also enjoy rapping, music, and dancing.

Why the name “The Psilosapiens?”

Psilosapiens stands for “psilocybin homosapiens.”

Are The Psilosapiens working on an album?

We have enough songs for an album but we don’t have enough recorded songs for an album. We have two singles out right now, “We Are” and “Peace, Love, & Unit,” and are currently working on songs. Our newest song “Hare Krishna” will be released soon on all platforms.

Psilosapiens (Stefan Dragic, Cooper Montgomery, and Summer Barbone) - Photo by  KBR

Psilosapiens (Stefan Dragic, Cooper Montgomery, and Summer Barbone) - Photo by KBR

What can fans expect from you in 2019?

Our fans expect videos, a website, more shows, and more music.

You can also expect more fundraisers. We’ve raised $2500 so far in Flagstaff for non-profit organizations. The first one was for DACA and the second was for Taala Hooghan.

Any words for people listening to your music?

Our intention is to inspire peace, love, and unity through diversity.

Psilosapiens Performing This Saturday at 8pm at Cornish Pasty in Flagstaff, AZ

Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 4.17.10 PM.png

Phoenix Lights Announces Lineup by Day for April 5th & 6th

Kassandra Ramirez

With festival season just beginning, prepare yourself as some of the universe’s best artists take over four stages at the Park at Wild Horse Pass this weekend in Chandler, AZ. Phoenix Lights, produced by Relentless Beats, has recently announced an addition of artists to the festival’s lineup for April 5th and 6th.

Self-described as “where luxury and irony intersect” Black Caviar; “the out of the box sound architect”, Devault; “Warehouse Bass impresario”, Dillon Nathaniel, and “breakout electronic artist”, Vanic will join Phoenix Lights and contribute to an epic weekend of massive sounds and sensations.

Continue reading for a breakdown of artists by stage. The four stages for Phoenix Lights include the Mothership,  the Invasion Stage, RBDeep’s Colony Stage, and Fallout, also introducing the local lineup for Phoenix Lights.

This weekend is guaranteed to be unforgettable as it marks the 5th anniversary of Phoenix Lights. Phoenix Lights is an 18+ event. Don’t forget to get your tickets!

Official Lineup by Day - Phoenix Lights 2019

Official Lineup by Day - Phoenix Lights 2019

Stages listed in alphabetical order.

MOTHERSHIP STAGE

Big Gigantic; Blossom; Elephante; Excision; GRiZ; Kaskade; Malaa; Mustard; Party Favor; Phantoms (DJ set); San Halo; Vanic; Yultron

INVASION STAGE

Arty; Bailo; Black Caviar; Decadon; Dirt Monkey; Doctor P b2b Cookie Monsta; HE$H; Minesweepa; Must Die!; Nastyhumanz; Sikdope; Subtronics b2b Squnto; Svdden Death; Throttle; Whipped Cream

RBDeep THE COLONY STAGE

Brando; Claude VonStroke; Dillon Nathaniel; Gerry Gonza; Jay Lumen; Jeremy Olander; Jphlip; Lane 8; Sage Armstrong; Sasha; Shiba San; Spencer Brown; Thomas Turner b2b Michael Hooker; Wongo

FALLOUT STAGE

2Soon; Alaska; Animate; Austin Feldman; Disco Zombie; Frank Terry; Grackle Beats; Guilty; Housekneckt; Kenny Oliver; Limbo; Lujan; Richi Savage; Rolando Hodar; TRYB; STVTC; Vayn; Voodreau

Watch the Official Trailer for Phoenix Lights 2019 by Relentless Beats

All event details and ticket prices are available online at www.phoenixlightsfest.com and www.relentlessbeats.com. VIP Passes available. Visit www.phoenixlightsfest.com for up-to-date information for Phoenix Lights.

CEG Releases Official Music Video for her new single "Yellow Line"

Kassandra Ramirez

By KBR

With today’s power to create and connect on various platforms, it is a beautiful time for consuming art and media. Now is the time when strong female artists are empowering others by sharing their new visions and discoveries, more than ever before.

CEG (pronounced like “sage”) is a rising artist from Portland, Oregon, capturing the eyes and ears of her city. CEG, which stands for “Claire Elizabeth Grace,” just released her official music video for her single, “Yellow Line” and it is clear that she is gaining momentum in the music scene.

CEG’s new song “Yellow Line” features R&B, Soul, and Melodic sounds with themes of peace and inner stability, while the aesthetic of the single’s music video is filled with trippy elements and lots of yellow. CEG’s ability to mix genres and send a message in her music makes us all excited to hear more. Keep an ear out for CEG, as she will be touring in your city very soon.

Fronto Shorty Logo - Illustration of CEG

Fronto Shorty Logo - Illustration of CEG

This interview has been edited for clarity.

When did you start creating music?

I’ve been singing since I could talk. My mom was a music and theater major in college so I have always been exposed to music and performing. I also performed in various musicals in high school I have always been obsessed with singing harmonies, but it wasn't until about two years ago until I started writing my own music.

What inspired you to be a professional musician?

There is nothing better I can be doing than pursuing my passion. To me, there is no other high like the high you get from creating music.

Tell us about your upcoming EP “Rose Woman”. Why the title?

I would describe the sound of Rose Woman” as “Neo-Millenial-Jazz.” A mixture of R&B, Jazz, and Spoken Word. I chose the title because I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and Portland is known as “Rose City.” I am carrying the city on my back. I am “Rose Woman.”

Still from CEG’s new music video for her single “Yellow Line”

Still from CEG’s new music video for her single “Yellow Line”

What is your dream collaboration?

My dream collaboration would definitely be with Kehlani. It is kind of crazy because Kehlani’ and DJ Noodles’s booking manager actually invited me to open for P-LO when he saw me open for DJ noodles. It’s like she’s just one step away from me.

Tell us about your new single “Yellow Line.”

“Yellow Line” was made to listen to when you smoke and chill. The song is about slowing down.

Anything that stands out to you in your life is meant to be a message. To me, yellow means caution but also happiness.

How was the process of creating the music video for “Yellow Line”?

The process of creating the music video for “Yellow Line” was very organic. I played a big role in writing with the script, but the video evolved as it was produced.

Raynee Roberts of Lost Portral put the video together, and she is fucking fantabulous. We spent a lot of time together through the process. She even designed some of the outfits for the video, including my yellow top. She is very talented.

When is the release of your new EP, “Rose Woman”?

The release of “Rose Woman” is on my 25th birthday, June 28th. I am having a private release party to celebrate. It’s actually at the location where we filmed the music video for “Yellow Line.”

We have amazing sponsors for the event. I’m working on a collaboration re:stash. They printed Fronto Shorty logos on mason jars for us and they will be featured at the event. Compound, a unique sneaker and streetwear company, is also a sponsor. Mental Minorities, Swiggle Mandela, and La Familia are also going to be performing.

What can your fans expect from you in 2019?

On 4/20, I will be releasing my new song, “Fronto Shorty.” “Fronto Shorty” is a 4/20 appreciation song and also the name of my brand. You can also expect to hear collaborations with Libretto, Zenith, and Mental Minorities. This year, I will be traveling constantly because I am trying to perform as much as possible.

Follow CEG on SoundCloud

 

Vlad Holiday Plays SXSW

Kassandra Ramirez

by KBR

My favorite quality about music is the beautiful variety of sounds and styles that musicians create. While it often seems as if we only hear of a few musicians on the radio and in the media, there are many artists all over who are creating art and building a connection to their audience and fans. Recently, I have felt a connection to music made by alternative pop artist Vlad Holiday.

After discovering Vlad Holiday on Contagion’s music blog last year in a feature written by Riley Tiernan, I quickly became a fan of his distinct voice and nostalgic sound. I heard Holiday’s single “Like in the Movies” and felt an immediate connection to the feelings of late nights, chill vibes, and love stories. It immediately felt as if I had heard the song long ago, countless times.

Vlad Holiday’s style is effortless and smooth; it is a joyful experience I happily fall into every time I take a listen. If you’re not convinced yet, listen to more of Vlad Holiday’s singles, like “Artificial Paradise” and “Bad Influence.” I promise the quality won’t disappoint.

Vlad Holiday - Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Vlad Holiday - Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

This interview has been edited for clarity

At what age did you start creating music? What made you want to start pursuing music as a serious career?

I was around 13/14 when I started messing around with writing songs. I didn’t start writing lyrics until much later, but those early days in my bedroom on a program called Fruity Loops was when I realized that I could do it myself too, rather than just be playing other people’s songs. I knew pretty early that this is what I’d be doing with my life.

What is your dream musical collaboration or project?

They’re all dead. However, it would be cool to collaborate or grab drinks with anyone that’s like minded and as passionate about music as I am. 


Do you produce all of your own music? How did you learn how to produce?

I do. Production came out of necessity for me. I didn’t have money to pay people to record my music, so I had to figure out how to do it myself- it was as simple as that. It escalated into something much more, where I needed to be able to express myself sonically as well... paint the full picture. I also produce and write music for friends sometimes. From local NYC bands like Public Access TV, Lissy Trullie, and Donald Cumming, to Australia’s Slum Sociable, to Bastian Baker whose latest album charted No. 2 on the charts in Switzerland as he was playing our songs in arenas every night. Producing music has become a great passion, maybe an obsession.

Watch the Official Music Video for “Artificial Paradise”

Who are your biggest music inspirations?

It’s hard to pinpoint because I love so many types of music for different reasons. Lately I’ve been digging into a lot of Roy Orbison’s early stuff, Lou Reed, Dylan, Cash, Serge Gainsbourg... that kind of darker anti-hero persona.

My current music is inspired by a lot of female fronted groups like Beach House, Mazzy Star, early Lykke Li. People have compared me to Lana del Rey. So many others that have gotten me to where I am today-I feel like everything that’s touched my ears has influenced me and my taste, whether it was jaw dropping or absolute garbage.

How would you describe your solo sound compared to the sound of Born Cages? How has it evolved since going solo?

I would say it’s just a different vibe, more understated. With my old band Born Cages I was all about writing big songs with big production, positive messages tinged with bits of realness and melancholy. My new stuff is just trying to create a different mood. Born Cages was like a big daytime party and my solo stuff is the more intimate late-night afterparty.

Vlad Holiday - Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Vlad Holiday - Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Can you give us insight into your song-writing/song-producing process? How long does a single typically take to create from conception to the finished product?

It’s always changing. I don’t love having a process to the point where it fees mechanical. I need the freedom to experiment every step of the way.

How does releasing song single by single influence your process compared to releasing a whole album?

The single by single process has been super convenient for me. The more time I spend doing this, the more I realize that I need to put myself first and release music on my own terms. If I’m not happy or satisfied with my art, why even do it at all. I want it to be in the moment. This has been the most relaxed I’ve felt - if I get super inspired I can pretty much release a song right away and not worry too much about anything else. I feel like that is how music should be made.

Listen to Vlad Holiday’s newest single, “Bad Influence”

What are some of your goals in your music career? What can your fans expect from you in the near future?

My only goal is to keep doing what I do without compromising the integrity just to be able to put food on the table or sleep indoors. Everything else is noise. Fans can expect that I’ll keep doing this until I physically can’t anymore.


How do you feel being on stage versus performing to yourself?

Being on stage is everything. Without the human interaction, the job starts to feel like it’s not real. Like you’re just an insane person mixing words and sounds for no explicable reason. Doing it with people there is the explanation.




Don’t miss Vlad Holiday’s live performances this upcoming week in Austin, TX. On Wednesday, Vlad Holiday will be playing at the SXSW conference and festival. Additional featured artists at SXSW include Japanese Breakfast, Vaarwell, Billie Eilish and Khalid. Purchase your tickets for SXSW now!

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Jalopy Bungus Drops New Album, "Samson"

Kassandra Ramirez

by KBR

It is often said that everyone can be an artist. While I agree that anyone can make art, I believe being an artist is a much more distinct quality. While art is a form of expression, what makes art special is that it can also be perceived, different for every viewer. Constantly looking for artists to feature on our blog, I always search for artists whose voices speak. When discovering Jalopy Bungus, I immediately saw this quality.

Jalopy Bungus - Photo by  KBR

Jalopy Bungus - Photo by KBR

What separates Jalopy Bungus from other artists in the Arizona hip hop scenes is his undeniable talent for conveying his emotions toward his audience. Reoccurring themes in Jalopy Bungus’s new album “Samson” include living in the projects, the struggle of being black in America, and even suicide, all touchy subjects.

After hearing the new album “Samson,” which dropped on February 22nd, I was lucky enough to land an interview with Jalopy Bungus himself. I met him for a 90-minute interview and photoshoot at his apartment complex, and captured some magic outside right around the block. During the interview, Bungus gave me some insight into the meaning of his tracks and creative process behind it all. After my experience, I am convinced the world will hear all about Jalopy Bungus.

This interview has been edited for clarity

What makes you unique form other artists in the Arizona music scene?

What separates me from everybody out here is I’m not afraid to talk about the risky stuff. I live on my own accord.

Tell us about your creative process.

Recently, I don’t really write anything unless I have something to say. If it’s not really true to my heart, I can’t put it down. However long I am supposed to wait until that pops up is how long I am going to wait. However, there is a thin line between discipline and inspiration, a very thin line. You don’t want to wait to be inspired.

There is too much of “this” to not be inspired.

Jalopy Bungus - Photo by  KBR

Jalopy Bungus - Photo by KBR

How was the experience collaborating with singer Dali?

Dali is pretty much my soulmate. I have known her since 2015 this was the first track with just me and her on it. We have been wanting to collab for so long. She truly is a once-in-a-lifetime talent.

The song “Procrastinating Suicide” was particularly difficult to get done. Dali was in Oregon at the time, and when I sent her the song, she recorded the stems and when she sent them back they were all choppy and messed up. It was super last minute, so it was a mess. The last day of the project being finished, I had to mix about 90 vocals stems the day before I turned the project in to Distrokid so it could be uploaded to all platforms.

Who is “Vocal Cords of a Broken Woman” written about? Is there going to be a Part 2?

I can’t say yet, but it is about someone I know. The story is still being written. Part 1 is just the very beginning of the story.

What is “Cut the Rope” about?

“Cut the Rope” is about having withdrawals from whatever you are addicted to and how it effects you. You know you know better, but somehow you can’t stop. Well, you can, but you don’t because are addicted to it.

I was addicted to nearly committing suicide at one point. I never did it, but I thought about it. I would think about all types of ways to do it.

Have you ever been worried about some of your songs influencing someone negatively? Particularly your track “Procrastinating Suicide”?

I was definitely scared to put “Procrastinating Suicide” on the projects because I could see where someone might kill themselves because of the song. In a way, that is part of the reason why I put it out. I always want to promote individuality. The message of the song is don’t kill yourself because someone doesn’t want you to. Don’t kill yourself because you don’t want to kill yourself.

Japoly Bungus - Photo by  KBR

Japoly Bungus - Photo by KBR

Tell us more about your track “Latarian Milton.”

Latarian Milton is that little boy who stole his mom’s car because he “just wanted to do hood rat shit with his friends.” Imagine being like 7 and being turned into a superstar because of it. You’re doing Tosh.o, you’re on Boondocks. The world rewarded him for for his actions. He went on to carjack an uber when he was 17, and they sent him to prison. They used him until he couldn’t bring ratings anymore.

The song is about being black and all the things that come with it. “Mama told me I’m a king/school told me I’m a slave.” That’s real.

What can we expect from Jalopy Bungus in the near future?

I will definitely have another show for “Samson” this spring. Continue to look out for my content, because plans are in motion to transform “Samson” into a visual project, with each song having its own video.

Listen to “Samson” on Soundcloud, Spotify, and all major platforms.

 

April 5th & 6th Marks the Fifth Year Anniversary of Phoenix Lights

Kassandra Ramirez

As the heat starts to rise and the flowers start to bloom, the entire music scene is getting ready for the warm weather and hype music scene arising in Arizona this spring. With April coming up just around the corner, it isn’t too late to make festival plans for next month! With performances by A$AP Ferg, Kaskade, San Holo, Whipped Cream and many more artists, you’ll want to purchase your tickets and mark your calendars for April 5th and 6th.

Buy your tickets now for a festival experience deemed as one of Arizona’s best music festivals. Check out Relentless Beats’ official trailer for 2019.

“It is amazing to be celebrating the 5th anniversary for this marquee event and sets the stage for all the surprises we have in store for 2019,” says Thomas Turner, founder of Relentless Beats. If you already have your tickets, prepare yourself for an epic journey. If you don’t have tickets yet, make plans to purchase them as soon as possible, as ticket prices are rising.

Noted as one of the best festivals in the area, Phoenix Lights is set to be an event with the music and sensations to take you out of this world. With the festival taking place at the Park at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, AZ, you’ll know the venue was made with Relentless Beats’s iconic events in mind.

Phoenix Lights will be the perfect start to the epic festival season in 2019. Here is the lineup, with artists still to be announced.

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Discover Phoenix Lights for more information on the event. Buy your tickets now! Phoenix Lights is an 18+ event. VIP and Platinum Passes available.

Speak into the Mic: Tullis

Kassandra Ramirez

With today’s media being oversaturated with mediocre and unthoughtful content, it is always refreshing to discover a rising artist with the determination to create something with purpose. After our EIC, Jacob Blieu, introduced me to Tullis’ work, I was quickly convinced that he’s a vivid example of a passionate artist.

Starting his musical journey at the young age of thirteen, later experimenting in his band, “Bears and Airplanes”, and then continuing his career as a solo artist, it is safe to say that Tullis (who goes by his last name) will be an Arizona artist to remember. By…

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