Interview // Spirited Dance: Chillando by eSGi by Spirited Magazine

 eSGi: Dj Goulet, Dj Thaddeus Jeffries and Guarionex    photo by Amanda Maciel Antunes

eSGi: Dj Goulet, Dj Thaddeus Jeffries and Guarionex  

photo by Amanda Maciel Antunes

The beat. The beat. The beat. The all-call to the dance floor. The inter-twining of legs and arms. Hands that touch and grasp and reach and slip. The go, go, going of these two and those two and you and me and more. The sweaty salty. This is the night. This is the noise. The thump, thump, thumping that is there in the head long after last-call and lights up and life resumes on the street.

But we are anonymous here; a mass of semi-humanity writhing in darkness. The DJ is a perched on a throne in judgment and decree. There is another way. 

The Boston-based eclectic bounty of noisemakers eSGi are drawing narratives from alternative sounds and developing into something that is not your usual nightlife culture in Beantown. We caught up with the members and party-makers in anticipation of their fourth Chillando event and the one-year-anniversary of their frenetic monthly house party called Sabado Gigante. The group, comprised of photographer Guarionex, Dj Alex Goulet and Dj Thaddeus Jeffries, have not only found their sound through a mélange of influences, but a collective appreciation for music.

 Sabado Gigante I by Guarionex 

Sabado Gigante I by Guarionex 

Despite only having been together for a year,  eSGi seem to have found a clear vision of what party they want to present, “It started off as something very humble, we always wanted to throw a party, we did a couple of times and we saw that people were connecting with it and it soon enough became more than just a house party. I t was an outlet I think for all of us to bring together a group of people and styles of music that wasn’t being represented, alternative in many different ways.” says Dj Goulet.

“The one thing that let us stay around to do the basement party was that we would just keep it clean. Me and my cousin would stay over and clean the shit out of the basement, sometimes we’d bring my other cousins (laughs).” adds Guarionex.
photo 3.JPG

The group’s vision and pride shows when they are asked about their first few events... “Our crowd was always very open minded and they would dance to anything. We would even give them a surprise bachata after playing lots of house and they would still dance to it. We started by inviting our people and asking them to bring their friends and friends of friends. That’s how our crowd came to be.” - Guarionex

Goulet adds “At the beginning there was no name, function or form to this party it just all evolved as the party kept going and I think maybe in December of 2012 or so we knew this was something special and we wanted to put a name and a mission statement to this party and take it to some other direction.”

And whether they’re secretly obsessed with Don Francisco’s spanish-language variety television show Sábado Gigante... Guarionex explains “It was just a random name that came about, cause we started on Cinco de Mayo of 2012 and it just so happened to be on a Saturday and I convinced Jeffries that it would be an amazing name. I eventually tried to borrow some ideas from the actual variety show, as in being super random, you’d get skits, music performances, contests and I wanted to take that idea and apply to our party, so every time we had a party would be something completely different, not just the music but we would give out prizes, we switched up the drinks a bunch of times, we had a couple of music performances, hopefully an art show in the future. I think a lot of people were curious about the way we promoted the party in the beginning. I would just randomly talk about Sabado Gigante on Instagram and Facebook and I made a promo video which was an actual footage from from the 80s and put subtitles on it that completely said something else. Don Francisco asking questions like ‘Where’s this party gonna be?’ caught on.”

With their party-perfect tunes, another event a little more laid back from that crazy start was born, given the choice to organize a live-streamed tour of the city in a more intimate open house environment “When we got together in December of 2012 to talk about how we could get everything more solidified we came up with this idea to do a more relaxing social type event with our favorite local Djs called Chillando. We’ve done three so far and our fourth is coming up. We knew we could throw parties, but we wanted to get a different community that were looking for more than just people having fun and celebrating.” Dj Goulet

 Sabado Gigante VII by Guarionex

Sabado Gigante VII by Guarionex

“Often at parties you don’t get to talk to someone you’re dancing with and you can’t connect with them so we wanted to make room for that and showcase Boston’s alternative venues as much as connect the people with those venues” Dj Thaddeus
 eSGi photos by Amanda Maciel Antunes

eSGi photos by Amanda Maciel Antunes

Guario adds “The first Chillando we did was in this store front called Kyoto Jungle on Newbury street, a concept store run by this local brand called Annie Mulz. It was a good test run. We also live streamed and that gave people who can’t make it out the option to click and watch us from their homes.” As if an invitation to party in your living room wasn’t delightful enough “It’s also an opportunity for our guest Djs to play alternative music and anything that suits them and be showcased outside of the realms of the party and you hear music you normally don’t hear in a club.” says Dj Thaddeus

The memories of these parties when blurred around the edges, like one long day-turned-night-turned-day, but the moments captured by Guarionex is another critical aspect of eSGi’s vision...

“It’s not your standard ‘Say cheese’, the party memories are very important to us. People started to latch on with the movement and the photos were a huge part of the after party following. So much traffic on those photos, a couple days after the party everyone wants to find themselves and they love it because they are catching things that are outlandish. Guario is taking pictures of you while you have your hands up some chick’s shirt...(laughs)” Dj Goulet.
 SG VI by Guarionex

SG VI by Guarionex

There is a lot more content and there are people elbowing their way in so when asked about their plans for the rest of 2013...

“We’ll keep on pushing on Chillando this year. This is a big and fun project for all of us.” Thaddeus

“It’s a chance for us to do something that we are really passionate about. It’s really important to do that. I played top 40 for a year and it was soul sucking, this has been refreshing. It’s crazy that we have this opportunity and how things have evolved and that it feels right to all of us and that’s why we continue to do it.” Goulet

“We were very lucky to have it happen when it did for us.” Guarionex

When welcoming stream of electrifying dance goodness that make crowds go wild it’s easy to see why eSGi is under our radar and why they should be on yours.

Next Chillando will be hosted at Spirited’s headquarters and creative workspace Make Shift Boston joining our other favorite dance makers Picó Picante on Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 from 8pm to 10pm.


Digital Portrait // Picó Picante ft. #KUNQ family Rizzla, Blk.Adonis, D’hana and False Witness by Spirited Magazine


by Sara Skolnick

This Friday, March 22nd, PICÓ PICANTE returns to Good Life to showcase the boundary-pushing #KUNQ collective, featuring Rizzla [Fade to Mind], Blk.Adonis, D'hana and False Witness and the lovely Nicholle Pride to host the evening.

Signed to Kingdom’s Fade To Mind imprint, newly Brooklyn-based DJ and producer Rizzla's unique sound links diva-centric tracks with the darker side of dance music from around the world.  Featured on Red Bull Music Academy and Boiler Room TV, his MDMA-fueled revenge fantasies have drawn a global cult following. Rizzla anticipates a busy spring with shows around the country and several upcoming releases, such EP's with False Witness and Blk.Adonis, and a solo EP upcoming on Fade to Mind. 


What is #KUNQ? What are the common threads artistically between you and collaborators and family Blk.Adonis, D'hana, False Witness and Micah?

KUNQ is our personal hybrid of Queer, Punk, Cunt and Crunk – a globally informed, queer take on bass.  With our production and dj sounds, as well as Micah's take on hip hop, we've been working with sounds from all around the world, in beats somewhere between hard house, vogue, soca and urbano.

As a transplant from Boston, how does your new Brooklyn environment influence you musically?

It's really exciting having the URL meet the IRL. I've had the chance to play some incredible parties, including a residency at Ghe20 Goth1k.  Brooklyn folks love new sounds, but we were all definitely incubated in Boston's underground. 

RIP Nu Life, your three-year running party at ZuZu with D’hana. Do you have plans to create another party in New York?

While I've been focusing on getting my feet wet playing parties other people have put together, there is a new party in the works with Mixpak's Dubbel Dutch that will explore the new sounds we're creating, as well as all the new styles developing around the world. 

As a producer and DJ, your aesthetic pairs dark club elements with contrasting melodic styles of the likes of dancehall and soca. What kind of environment does this create for your audience?

I love mood swings in the club; I don't want to be loaded up with simply party jams all night.  Merging something happy like soca with the darker sounds of say hardstyle is a way of expressing both my complicated influences as well as an international musical culture that exists online.

Your mixtape for Dis Magazine, Portia Nuh Play, was an homage to newly-elected Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller openly supporting GLBT legal protection. What social issues do you aim frame your past / upcoming releases around?

Everything I make tends to have some sort of social story whether it's apparent or not.  PNP was an attempt to recognize musically a moment of discourse in Jamaica unpredicted by foreign watchdog groups.  Having spent time in the Caribbean as an artist and student opened my eyes to the complicated issues surrounding GLBT rights there, and I try to celebrate artists and public figures who are changing these dynamics, like Portia Simpson and Tanya Stephens. 

Listen to the full KUNQ crew below –

Digital Portrait // Picó Picante ft. Isa GT, Los Rakas by Spirited Magazine

Pico? Picante flyer .jpg

Text by Sara Skolnick

Picó Picante returns to Good Life this Friday, February 15th to crossbreed Bay Area turfing, bilingual hip-hop lyricism, and the punch of East London's electronic underground under one precious roof. Vamos, winter babies!

[ Event invite

 Isa GT

Isa GT

Isa GT joins Picó Picante for her first-ever Boston appearance in the midst of her Mexico–US tour. The poderosa Colombian producer, vocalist, DJ, filmmaker, and co-founder of party-turned-magazine Girlcore blends elements of her background with the soundscape of her new home in East London. With collaborations with pioneering producers like Toy Selectah, Dutch Rhythm Combo and Joao Brasil under her belt, her DJ/live vocal sets grab a cross-section of sounds spanning cumbia, house, Baltimore, champeta, kuduro and everything in between. Also an organizer and a movement-builder, Isa's established a space to nurture creative freedom for herself and her collaborators with the launch of her label, Etoro Records, featuring releases by Douster, Lido Pimienta and Jumping Back Slash. 

What inspired you to launch Etoro Records?

"The main inspiration for starting a label was to have total control over what I release, so I don't have to ask anybody what to put out or wait for anyone. I just decide and I do it. I look for artists that make things I respect; things that don't sound like they took a sample from an already amazing song and put a beat underneath it. Or, if they do that, they take it to an amazing new level. Basically I look for things that somehow shows originality, that captivates me in some way."

You recently finished your Tu Hermana en Bikini tour through Mexico with Kumbia Queers' DJ Guaguis. How do these travels inspire you musically?

"Mexico was so good that right now my friends are doing a FUN raiser to bring me back. They can't get enough and neither can I. I think Mexico Part II is coming very soon.

Just being in different places than London inspires me greatly. Meeting new artists I didn't know about, playing new parties, listening to new music. It's always good not to stay still in one place."

What can we expect from your set at Picó Picante?

"Don't expect anything and just let yourself be taken to hopefully some really fun places. I like to see what people are into and go that way– it's a two way thing. Expect some love. Always."

Check out Isa's most recent release on Etoro Records, Leyenda:

 Los Rakas

Los Rakas

Our second February headliner brings Los Rakas. Comprised of Panamanian duo Raka Rich and Raka Dun by way of the Bay Area, Rakas are on frontier of a new Latin urban sound with their fresh mix of hip-hop, plena, reggae and dancehall. Taking their name from the Panamanian word "Rakataka"– a negative slur used to describe someone from the ghetto– Los Rakas have set out to both inspire fellow "Rakas" by empowering them to become successful despite their circumstances, turning the word's original meaning upside down. They are part of a growing movement of DIY artists opening new spaces for true urban music to flourish in the Internet era.

In their anthemic track "Soy Raka," Rakas provide their own take on Bay Area turfing style, with its earliest origins in the territory-claiming dances of 1960s Oakland Boogaloo. As Spanish/English lyricists they delve into the personal, straddling their own hybridized identities to create a sound self-described as “born of migration and tradition,” or "Panamanian Jamaican Californian music."

Check out a video of Los Rakas live at The Independent in San Francisco to get a sense of the energy and sabor they’ll bring to our home at Good Life Friday.

Meet you on the dancefloor.

Artist Preview // PROM NIGHT BY Celia Rowlson-Hall by Spirited Magazine

NYC-based, choreographer and filmmaker Celia Rowlson-Hall crafts performance art and film. These creations turn the notion of “personal” into "magic is real". 

Spirited interviewed Celia for our upcoming issue (coming this Winter 2013) and we can't wait to share her beauty, artistry, and thought. In the meantime we want you to get acquainted and watch PROM NIGHT, a brilliant showcase facing modern identity and ego (closely related concepts), where she’s taking the temperature as a choreographer and adding something valuable to her in countless ways...

Digital Portrait // PICÓ PICANTE FT. ULTRATUMBA & BRIZGNAR by Spirited Magazine


Friday, January 18th, PICÓ PICANTE returns to Good Life. Two of their headliners Ultratumba and Brizgnar emerged onto the Boston electronic music scene and instantly won over listeners with their energized sets that make your feet ache from blissful, insane dancing. We ask them to spare their experiences, first album, playlists and the next big thing.



Originally from Miami-Dade County, Brizgnar (aka Branden Paillant) has been playing nights that are pushing the boundaries of your typical dance night in Boston. Parties like Picó Picante, Zuesdays, Sabado Gigante, Dont Ask Dont make him feel at home. And when asked about the scene he points out:

"Boston doesn't have enough venues that support underground music. I would argue that the city's laws try to actively suppress the underground scene here. So many talented artists, not enough spaces to exhibit work."

The home that he longs is all the more closer to being felt as we talk about his first Dj recollection: 


"My first DJ experience was really traumatic. I used to go to this small club in Miami that I liked. I really wanted to play there because I liked the scene. So a friend and I approached the promoter, and he was like "sure you guys are on next week". I was totally stoked and spent the whole week practicing on traktor to find out the day of that we were going to be using CDJ's. I freaked out and burned my whole library to a couple of CD's. I tag teamed with a friend of mine, no planning whatsoever, and we sucked. But all of our friends were there so it was like w/e."


"The first record I recollect ever listening to in it's entirety was E. 1999 Eternal by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. I listened to it through my brother's walkman until it was too scratched to listen to anymore. It was like watching a horror movie filmed in the hood."

Get Acquainted:

What would Brizgnar cross-country playlist sound like?

Let Me Bang - Salva & Brenmar

Broad Out - RDX 

Pay For This - DJ Jayhood

Nookie - Jamesy P

Muevete Jevy - El Alfa

Blk.adonis + Rizzla - She Only Dance

Bruk It Down - Mr. Vegas

Hold Me Back - Rick Ross

Bang - Happa 

Kush Pack Loud - DJ Spinn 

Do - Kevin McPhee

Us - Lil Reese 

DICK - Rizzla 

Blk.adonis + Rizzla - She Only Dance

What would his professional wrestler name be?

I would have a crew. We would be called "Homo Thugz-n-Harmony" and I would be Brizzy Boner. 

Final Words:

2013 is the year of the alien, reconnect with your extra terrestrial kindred spirits and turn up! #Freechiefkeefsosa 

Follow Brizgnar - HERE -


Ultratumba (aka Ethan Kiermaier) made his way to Boston from Maine -- "I'm from a micro town in Maine you've never heard of" -- and spends his current days "hibernating for the winter, I leave the house every third day and fire up my sauna shack once a week.  I'm also building a tiny house on wheels for a friend to live in."

An enchanting panorama of sorts...

I spend way too much time trolling the internet; file sharing sites in languages I can't understand.  90% of what I download is pure crap, my itunes looks like a warzone, that's why I end up playing a lot of Rihanna remixes.


"The first tape I bought which wasn't Weird Al was "Goo" by Sonic Youth, at the time I didn't like it very much but it's really grown on me in the interceding 20 years."

All you need to do is listen to one of his tracks: 

What would his cross-country playlist sound like?

As I type this I'm listening to Alice Coltrane and she's chanting about California, so definitely that.  Also there would probably be some Liturgy and Moondog and Jagwa Music. 

What would his professional wrestler name be?

Mr. Whiskers. 

Final Words:

Boston is the best place on the globe right now.  If you don't live here, you should probably move.  We've abolished winter and have the best club night on earth (Pico!).  I personally make soup and fresh bread for every new resident.

Follow Ultratumba - HERE -

And if that's not enough to love, he sent us this:

 Ethan (left)

Ethan (left)

All images courtesy of Picó Picante & artists.

------> Event INVITE


Spirited VII Dystopia

Interview by Young Park

The broken-down, falling-apart world of the not-too-distant future in Looper gets brought to life by composer Nathan Johnson. The sound of Looper is sweepingly visceral and textured. It’s dismantled and pounding, scuttling and skittering, and at times quietly contemplative. There lies an ongoing rhythm, reflecting both the urgency of the characters and their bleak circumstances, as lost, imperfect humans in an industrial world made more complicated by technology. In order to create the atmosphere of an unhinged future, Nathan gathered sounds from everyday life and customized new instruments. His work on Looper vastly differs from the haunting wine-glass melodies of high school film noir Brick and the warmly meandering, adventure-rife themes of The Brothers Bloom. Yet with each film, his approach has been fresh and imaginative.

 Nathan Johnson photographed by Rian Johnson (director)

Nathan Johnson photographed by Rian Johnson (director)

I first met Nathan at one of his living room shows with his band Faux Fix (a collaborative project with Katie Chastain) after a set that was at once intimate and ethereal. I was struck by how warm and genuinely excited about music he was. I was thrilled to talk with him about his experience scoring Looper and his creative processes.

You’ve said that you love imperfections in music. What is it about imperfections that draws you to them?

I think that ever since I was little, I’ve always been attracted to not-perfect voices. I feel like the voice of Tom Waits or Bob Dylan is always more compelling to me than a perfect opera voice, and that’s just an aesthetic thing for me. I find that those things become little musical hooks for me, and I feel the same way about music production in general. There’s obviously something great about really slick pop, but I tend to be drawn towards things that are a little bit rougher around the edges and in a lot of songs, those things are the bits and pieces that jump out to me that I obsess about and get really excited about.

With Looper, you implemented a lot of imperfect sounds into the score.

Yeah, with Looper, it was interesting because we were using a lot of technology to make the music. We were using synthesis and computers to create a lot of the sounds, and part of the game when you’re using technology is that everything can nudge towards that too-perfect sound. It’s really easy to put everything on the grid and you can autotune everything. If you’re not careful, you can end up sucking the life out of it. And so with Looper, we used a lot of advanced technology but all of the core sounds that we started with were field recordings, and they were made on a little field recorder that I took down to New Orleans. I was wandering around the city gathering these sounds, which meant that we weren’t in a perfect studio environment and there were lots of other sounds and lots of room atmospherics going on and all of that made it into the score.

Your work is characterized by a lot of experimentation. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to take more risks and challenge themselves?

Something that I’ve found is that a lot of those creative things come from restrictions. A lot of the stuff that I did on Brickcame about because we really didn’t have much of a budget. We had to figure out, ‘Okay, how do you figure out something that sounds like a string section, when we don’t have the money to record a string section?’ On Brick, we used a lot of wine glasses and it was just something that, as a kid, I had played around with. But when I was thinking about it, I realized, ‘Oh that’s kind of an interesting take on the string section because rather than having beautiful legato strings, you have beautiful legato tones happening and they can go on for as long as you want as long if you just keep rubbing your finger along the rim of the glass.’ So I found that for me, that “risk-nature” comes from wanting to try to do something and realizing that there are restrictions that won’t allow you to do it the way everybody else does it. So then, you have to just go for it and try to still make something with what you’ve got.

Do you feel that by having more restrictions, you had more creative freedom on earlier films such as Brick than on a film such as Looper?

Looper is obviously a much bigger film so we had more tools to use, but it felt like there were still as many creative restrictions, just because of how Rian and I talked about approaching it. Also, I had never done something with found sounds like that before. I had experimented before with found sounds but that had mostly been in a rhythmic capacity.


Narrative is such a strong element in your work, not only with your film scores, but with your other projects such as The Cinematic Underground and Faux Fix. What draws you to a project, in terms of story?

I think part of it is the story, and also part of it is how well the story is executed. I really love reading scripts, and you can tell a lot in a script, in terms of both ‘is this story interesting’ and also ‘how well is this story executed?’ Part of it is this ability to escape into another world. If the world is exciting, that’s a big draw for me. And that’s something that Rian does really well. All of his films and all of his writings inhabit these really unique, interesting worlds. On top of that, he’s also just such an amazing writer, so it’s fun when both of these things go together.

Each of the films you’ve worked on create these vivid, fantastic worlds unto themselves, but they’re tethered by real emotional underpinnings. When you’re working on your compositions, how do you tap into that emotion and translate that into music?

That’s a really good question. I’m not sure if I’ve thought of how I do that before. [laughs] I guess from a very practical, pragmatic point of view, I sit with it. I watch it. I’ll often pull up a scene, pull out an instrument, and just start playing to it. I guess that’s something else that I’m really drawn to, the marriage between music and images.

When I’m writing music, even when it’s not for a movie, like when I was writing the Cinematic Underground record, I could picture all of these places in my head. I knew what they looked like and I could feel how the characters felt. When I imagine stories and the worlds that they take place in, it feels like it’s almost an immediate open door into emotion.

Would you say that you put yourself into the character’s point of view?

Y’know, I think that it might be more from the audience’s point of view. I don’t know that my go-to approach is to try to write the music that the character would be feeling. I feel like in a way it’s more a bridge, the thing that allows the audience to step into that and maybe that’s all a little bit of make believe. Sometimes I’ll put myself in the character’s perspective, but that’s not generally the main way that I approach it. I think it’s more of a stepping stone and from the perspective of the audience.

Looper is the third feature film you’ve scored for your cousin Rian Johnson. When did you and Rian first begin collaborating?

I mean, we have been making things together since we were like elementary school kids. Our families are really close. We have a huge extended family and so every family vacation, we would create a play to put on or write a song. I remember pretty early memories while we were in elementary school. Rian, my other cousin, Aaron, and I, we had a little band writing songs and making music videos so yeah, it’s kind of been a pretty constant thing all through our lives. As we got older and got video cameras, that turned into movies and we would record music and write songs together, so it’s kind of been how we interact. [laughs]

Has witnessing the way Rian directs influenced the way you make your creative decisions?

Yeah, definitely. With film composing, it’s not really about me trying to write my music. It’s very much about me trying to satisfy what the director’s vision is. That type of collaboration is really amazing because not only do you get to step into the world they’ve created, but you really put yourself in service of their vision, which means molding yourself and trying to adapt. You bring your sensibilities to what you’re imagining, and hopefully there’s some happy melting pot there. But I think the director really sets the tone of the movie, and something that’s amazing about Rian is that he’s really up for taking risks and for making interesting choices that you wouldn’t necessarily expect.

What sort of interesting choices?

Well, I feel like Brick was a good example of that. That’s such a uniquely weird movie. It’s a film noir set in a high school. When Rian and I were talking about the music, he was talking about how he wanted it to sound rusty and broken down and rough around the edges, which isn’t like mainstream high school music. If you go out and watch any movie about high school, the soundtracks are kind of similar and they’re not what Brick is. I feel like in Rian’s mind, he created his perfect high school, where everybody listens to Tom Waits instead of Shakira or something like that.

How early on does Rian bring you on board in scoring a film?

Really early, which is rare for a composer. Usually composers are brought on fairly late in the game, but with Rian, I read the scripts really soon after he finishes writing it. I’m able to purely get excited it on just the story level before I’m thinking about music at all. It’s great to not be in a rush and just get to read his script, which always feels like Christmas to me, because I love his stories so much. When I get the script, I’m not immediately thinking, what kind of music is this going to have? I get to read it and enjoy it. You know, with Looper, we started talking about music pretty early. I think it was before they had even finished casting. I went down to New Orleans where they were shooting the movie and I got to basically live there for a month and be on set as often as I liked to and watched the performances when I wasn’t recording sound.

So you got to interact more with the film.

Yeah, and I also got to see what the world felt like. That’s pretty amazing, for a composer to get to be on location. It’s not like I was watching them act and writing music for that scene. I think there’s something really nice and sort of luxurious about being able to be around when all of that is being created.

Which scene in Looper did you most enjoy scoring?

One of my favorites was the time-machine sequence, where Old Joe gets captured and is drawn into the warehouse and sent back in time. Part of the reason, and this actually is not common in our process, is that Rian was having trouble finding temp music for his first assembly edit. Once the movie’s finished filming, they’ll assemble it, put it together, and use some temp music to color in the scenes a little bit. He called me up before I had written scenes, before I had really started getting anything together. I had just spent time recording all these sounds.

 Looper Score Album

Looper Score Album


There’s a track you wrote in Looper called “A Day in the Life” which plays during a scene that goes through Joe’s daily life as a hired gun. I was wondering, what would be a “day in the life” of Nathan Johnson?

[laughs] Wow. Well, the answer to that is it pretty much depends on what project I’m working on. But that’s one of the things I really enjoy, the fact that I get to have my hands on a lot of projects, so there’s not really a normal routine. It looks the same way for three months and then it looks totally different for the next three months.

I do try to keep a good rhythm going though. I pretty religiously try to take a day off every week. That sounds really boring, but for me I find that it really lends itself to being sane and healthy and also it helps my work be better, I think. I got really excited a while ago of this idea of “breathing in”, which sounds ridiculous and mundane to say that, but as a sort of visual analogy. When you’re creating something that feels like a “breathing out” period, I realized that it’s really important to replenish and take in again– to read, to take in movies, to take in life experiences– so you have kind of a rich well of stuff to draw on when you’re ready to pick your next thing. Didn’t expect to answer it that way, but that is actually something that I really value, taking a rhythmic day off out of whatever I’m doing to just get out and experience other stuff.

  Chris Mears playing the tube for Johnson’s soundtrack

Chris Mears playing the tube for Johnson’s soundtrack

Do you have any projects coming up that you’d like to tell us about?

Yeah, Joseph Gordon Levitt, who I met doing Brick and who was in Looper, he and I have worked on a handful of things, and he has recently finished writing and directing his first feature film. So yeah, I’m working on music for that with him. We’re kind of wrapping things up and I’m getting close to getting done with the score.

Lastly, what would be your main piece of advice for creating something?

Just start with what you’ve got—like, start now. I think there’s a danger in how we think about creativity, which is, we tend to have an interesting idea, and then something happens between when we have that idea and when we get it out into the real world. Sometimes it’s the fear of “maybe it won’t be as perfect as I imagined it in my head”. Sometimes there are practical restrictions like “I don’t have the tools or the abilities to make what I want to make”.


It’s not something that you can read about and get good at theoretically and just start. It takes a while and it takes a lot of doing it. So for me, the thing that I’ve always tried to do is just start with what I have in front of me. That could be designing record covers for friends, and it mostly starts with friends. That’s just how these things work. Whether it’s artwork or writing music or making a short film, I think it’s important to just do it with what you’ve got.


Follow Nathan Johnson’s Tumblr

Looper Soundtrack Available on iTunes

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Digital Portrait // PICÓ PICANTE FT. DUBBEL DUTCH & SOUND INTERNATIONAL by Spirited Magazine

Text by Amanda Antunes & Sara Skolnick

It’s hard to imagine the end of 2012 without our monthly transnational bass party, recently named Best Dance Party by Dig Boston for its second consecutive year. December is not different (perhaps a chance to be merry in sight). Picó Picante returns to Good Life with special guests Dubbel Dutch (Mixpak Records) and Boston’s own Trinidadian soundcrew Sound International (Big City 101.3 FM). The usual suspects OXYcontinental and Pajaritos will support, with live visuals broadcast by the one and only HEXbeam. Here’s your chance to have one more dance in 2012 and to celebrate all the beautiful moments that happened this year.


Our first guest is currently living in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, Dubbel Dutch‘s aesthetic crossbreed pre-hispanic shaman cries, YouTube videos of American microcosmos, and 90s UK rave flyers– an combination not often associated with the Lone Star State. ”I love that you don’t have to go very far to experience great music or food. There’s a large African and Caribbean community here and since my apartment is right next to a busy street I’m often sitting on my couch during rush hour devising ways to possibly Shazam the amazing tracks blasting out of people’s cars.”

‘Self Help Riddim’ (check out the video here) is the first single release in a series that will follow leading up to his Self Help Riddims EP in forthcoming on Mixpak Records, drawing inspiration from dub and dance hall reggae, ethereal grime, and pop music of the African diaspora.

First Memories?

“Well technically my first DJ gig ever was in college and I was playing electro for four confused drunk girls in the basement of my friend’s apartment building which we had transformed into the world’s least accommodating rave. There was one DJ, a strobe light, and very cheap beer.”

An accomplished producer of cosmic tone poems and club anthems from the abyss, his Throwback 12” on Palms Out Sounds is considered by many a now-classic study in modern retrofitting.

We want to know what has been asked from Santa this year?

“A pinball machine, bag of trinidad scorpion peppers, a years supply of lemon oil, and a Korg Trinity.”

Get Acquainted and LISTEN:


Friday Night’s special line up also welcome Boston’s own Trinidadian crew Sound International brings sounds directly from the city’s Caribbean community, known around town as the hosts of Big City 101.3 FM‘s Bashment Time Show, soundsystem leaders of the city’s massive carnival street celebrations and party starters at clubs from downtown to Mattapan. Joining Picó Picante for a first-time appearance, Sound International form part of the Maddang Family of entertainers spanning Brooklyn to Boston.

“If you dream of warmer lands, say no more, these guys are here to relocate you to the Caribbean for a blowout celebration.”

JOIN Sound International community.



at Good Life, 28 Kingston Street

$5 / 21+ / LoveU

Digital Portrait // Picó Picante FT. UHURU AFRIKA & KINGDOM by Spirited Magazine

With their party-perfect tunes and a string of electrifying DJs, including two pulsating new guests UHURU AFRIKA andKINGDOMFriday (11.16.12) is officially a club kids’ candy store for dance enthusiasts. It’s easy to see why we are so obsessed with the fact that we are about to feel the full fire that is Picó Picante at Good Life (upstairs and downstairs). We were able to catch up and ask our “pajarita” Sarah Skolnick (Picó Picante’s organizer, collaborator and Dj) to present you our featured artists and we also included mixes that whether you are at an office cubicle or a train station, you’ll find impossible to turn off.


Uhuru Afrika (downstairs headline) is a conscious dance party movement navigated by DJs Adam Gibbons and Max Pela and Malian master percussionist Sidy Maiga, honoring the music born from the African continent and the diaspora. Their format covers hundreds of years and thousands of miles, from traditional ancestral pan-african poly-rhythms to modern electronically produced dance music. Anchored in Boston, Uhuru Afrika has opened for the likes of Femi Kuti and Tony Allen, and has brought Afro-inspired   sounds to clubs and festivals around the globe.

Here’s a MIX that will make you regret working in heels today:


Starting out with an ethereal organ-laden track by Boddhi Satva blending polyrhythms of the Congo’s Ituri Forest, the mix travels through South African house, remixes of Celia Cruz’s classic “Eleggua,” Nigerian soul vocals by Siji, Uhuru dance floor classic “Her Song” by 3 Generations Walking, with drum tracks woven in and out creating a new lineage for the diaspora.


Los-Angeles-based DJ / producer KINGDOM (upstairs headline) brings his otherworldly gleam, fusing grime, crunk, US club and house with his unique adaptations of R&B vocals. Formerly of Bok Bok & LVIS-1990’s London-based Night Slugs collective, Kingdom now heads up the widely respected Fade to Mind label, releasing work by experimental American club producers like MikeQ, Nguzunguzu and Rizzla.



Picó Poster by Ernesto Morales

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Interview // Musician Samantha Crain by Spirited Magazine

Spirited #5 [Noir Generation]

Interview with Samantha Crain
by Amanda Maciel Antunes


In the industry since her teenage years, 25-year-old Oklahoma-based folk musician Samantha Crain has made song-writing and performance her way of life. Her sounds suit her spontaneous lifestyle and eclectic musical talents. We caught Samantha taking a break from tour and asked her what is it like to be on the road, her future and going insane. Although she says that the touring life is not for everyone, it seems to suit her just fine.

So…what are you up to right now?

I am currently in Shawnee, back home with family. I am taking time to write for a couple weeks between tours. Then I’ll be back on the road heading to the Eastern US and then back over to Europe for a short tour with First Aid Kit. I also just released a new 7″ single that John Vanderslice produced called “A Simple Jungle”.

The first time I heard your voice I was listening to Devil’s in Boston and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had a serious obsession with that song for months. I’m always interested in the process of songwriting. Tell me a little bit about your process and what sparks your creative writing and story telling.

My process varies with different periods of my life. When I’m on the go a lot and living a more social existence, creativity seems to come from the people and places around me and my songs become more like stories and narratives. When I am leading a more quiet life, my songs tend to take a more introspective and thoughtful turn and sometimes they can be more abstract. Traveling really plays a huge role in inspiring me. It has become my rhythm and without that rhythm I feel a bit lost.

You’re obviously a very busy woman and you’re on the road a lot. It’s quite common for artists to let other parts of life take a back seat with their hectic schedules. Is there something you don’t do that you wish you had the time for, like reading books or keeping in touch with your family?

I am a very family oriented person so I DO keep in touch with my family on a regular basis. I read a lot when I’m not on the road but I do wish I had more time to just be quiet and still. Actually this is something I get to tap into when I’m touring in Europe and UK because I take the train everywhere and I tour alone overseas. So I have all day to think and be quiet and then I can play at night, but touring with a band over here in US and Canada can be quite the party and there is a lot of social interaction that goes along with the touring. I know a lot of my friendships have suffered because of my schedule and I do wish I could focus on that more. I have made attempts to do that as I get older and realize their importance.

Are there certain places you prefer touring or certain cities you really love?

I really love touring in Europe and UK right now…mainly because it’s still new and exciting for me. I love the US but I’ve been everywhere so many times! But when we are touring the US and Canada, I really love the Northwest, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon; it’s such beautiful scenery and great weather. I also really like touring through the Northeast because I get to experience that itinerant urban quality of traveling and living which can be really blood-pumping!

As an artist do you draw a line between music, singing, or is the line blurred for you?

I consider my voice my most fluent instrument so music and singing go hand and hand for me. If I can’t find a way to express myself on guitar or banjo or piano, I know I can always find the way to express myself through my voice.

- To read the rest of this piece, purchase the digital or print edition

Interview // DJ duo Pajaritos by Spirited Magazine

Spirited #4 [Plastic City]

Interview with Sarah Skolnick and Ernesto Morales (Pajaritos)

by Amanda Maciel Antunes


Like all super heroes, they are mild mannered by day with a career in Graphic Design and Community Organizer. When the sun goes down and the freaks come out, the Dj duo Ernesto Morales and Sara Skolnick aka Pajaritos, are what I call “the best dance generators this town has to offer”. Acutely intelligent, playful and fantastically energetic, the duo throw a monthly world bass – tropical – cumbia digital – moombahton party called PICÓ PICANTE. The boundaries, once pushed, have become barriers and everyone’s going for that quick fix. Pajaritos are about to change all that by taking Latin music to a place that it’s never been in this city. All you need to do is listen to one of their mixtapes and you’ll know why. We caught up over a cup of coffee and hummus snacks to discuss technology, learning from our experiences, whisky jackets and why Boston is poised to make a bigger impact than ever before…

AA. So, tell me, how did you get started?

SS. My first time performing was for Autumn Ahn’s art opening “Shrine On” at the Lily Pad (Cambridge Art Gallery). It’s something I have always wanted to do, it was in the back of my mind and when the opportunity showed up I just dived in.

EM. I rode on Sara’s fame a little bit. [laughs] She got invited back to do something else and at that point we were like “ok let’s make it happen”! But it was also something in the back of my mind. Although, in the beginning, the crowd made us look better than we were.

AA. Could you talk about how you pick music together and most importantly how you challenge each other?

I think that we both have very specific cultural influences. From our upbringings, I mean, I am half-American half-Ecuadorian and it wasn’t until I started working with music that I found an outlet for that. We don’t really talk about what we are going to play we just show up with what we have in mind.

EM. We never really free planned anything musically. We kind of chose the name “Pajaritos” before we had aligned musically at all and end up discovering the South American / Latin / Spanish language culture. That’s how the name became true.

AA. It’s funny because I grew up in Brazil listening to Portuguese speaking music but not really Spanish speaking music, and when I met you I had this whole new world of latin music that I wanted to explore. From Porto Rican to Colombian and Cuban…to the beats of Spain.

EM. Yeah, the way we push each other is more so the audience pushing responding to particular tracks and rhythms. I picture them enjoying the track and it works like a dialogue happening between their response and I responding to their response.

AA. As a performer you want the audience to respond and the constant feedback is definitely essential. It’s what makes it beautiful.

EM. Yes, this is also a new kind of communication for me, because we are trying to curate an experience and it can only be done with the audience’s input.

SS. I would agree…so much of it is improvisation and I try to catch myself not doing it too much but I try and see if people are dancing or enjoying themselves. Because I generally have a very specific music taste that I think is fun but when we perform It only gets fun if other people are enjoying it too. We do challenge each other. We may not say it out loud. It’s really exciting, because this is more than music, it’s about traditions.

SS. We challenge each other by both being so devoted to it.

AA. If you don’t connect with the sounds you have no business playing it, right?

SS. Yeah, people can tell.

AA. Yes they can. There’s also that misunderstanding: calling DJs musicians and vice versa. What do you think about that?

SS. I think until we start producing music I will hesitate to call myself a musician. but we both care a lot about creating an experience and that in itself is an art form.

EM. I think the difference between the two is the difference between the curatorship and authorship. We are developing the skills of being curators and designers of an experience. And picking up the influences that at least for me builds up the itch to create our own sounds. We haven’t really talked about that … [laughs]

SS. Now we are.

EM. Now is the time [laughs].

AA. You have just started too, how long has it been?

EM. Since October ’10.

SS. Yeah, I think? But It’s only been a couple of months for us when we defined ourselves and within developed an identity.

EM. Before, we were playing for our friends and just had this automatic support. It was hard to go wrong with them, we’ve been lucky enough to have those people in our lives to watch…and then we started playing and getting invited to some bigger events and all of a sudden we were playing for the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the CyberArts Festival, and I was like..we have to shape up in like 3 days!


EM. We would have a lot of phone conversations like “do you realize how important these things are”?

AA. It was all really fast… but again, eventually you want to take it a step further.

SS. I takes a few drinks…

Im not editing this out.


EM. There were a lot of times that I’d put my whisky jacket…and go dancing.


AA. Now, where do you find all this music that is new and cool and make you (and me) dance, because in Boston not a lot of people know about it.

SS. We try to find a beat or vocals that are universal.

EM. I actually remember we took a salsa dance class together in college.

That’s five years ago Ernesto!

EM. I will not bring anything embarrassing. [laughs] We always shared this kind of root before we even knew it.

AA. Well you’re off to a great start and you are both great dancers.

EM. Well, thank you. There are a handful of artists that I keep coming across and I look up everything they have ever done and anyone they have ever worked with, any mixtapes they have created and just expand from there. And do this over and over again. Just the internet, the way people use blogs to share, have always been sources of infinite material.

SS. I have a google reader account of 30 blogs that I follow and I look up as soon as they post new music. It’s such an specific genre of music.

AA. Where are these blogs from?

SS. All over the world. Mexico, Argentina, Spain … Brazil.

EM. There’s usually an immediate reaction, I can just hear this one piece and say I can work with that. We played enough that we know how we’ll use this music.

AA. Let’s say someone were to come to you who wanted to do a project like “Pajaritos”, what type of advice you’d give them?

SS. To take criticism, to take it seriously and have the ability to say “yeah, maybe I’m not the best” and build a thicker skin overtime. It’s knowing what your tastes are and being prepared to present that to the fullest. You are constantly evolving as any creative process.

AA. We learn from our experiences…

EM. Yes. I think people, myself included, start off playing with music that they think is dance music and then quickly realize that is either so overplayed and only pleases your friends or just not danceable. But to start off with some support is essential. It takes an initial investment of just deciding that you’ll commit to it. Even if you don’t have an specific direction, if you have passion you’ll find out what you are drawn towards.

AA. What about when you are relaxing…what do you listen to?

EM. I used to listen to Nina Simone, Leonard Cohen…a lot of Brazilian music. Very personal, really emotional music. I’d look for music that brought up a feeling of nostalgia for home or the idea of home. And now I’m so much happier when I’m bringing an ever present life to just my day to day, like cleaning the kitchen or whatever, as supposed to listening to music that makes me think of the past. It’s hard to listen to music and not try to work now.

AA. The beauty of the emotional language.

SS. I think I really like to pull music from when I travel, so wherever I go I try to buy a CD from off the street. From when I was in Peru, India, Barcelona…it brings up these memories when you are surrounded by unfamiliar, inexplicable things. It’s always good to feel a little bit outside of your normal sense of perspective.

AA. So, I want to know a little bit about Picó Picante. I know you just had your fourth event at Good Life (Boston nightclub) in September collaborating with different Djs that share the same aesthetic as you both do, and now you’re moving on to a monthly residency at the space which is a great deal since you have just recently set your wings there, creating this wonderful dance party to elevate the grounds of kinship. What are your plans next?

SS. It started by chance, we invited our friends who had similar music, similar ideology and tried to make a participatory event. Its all experimental, from our first trial at the Lily Pad to Good life, it’s been great to interact with the space and people.

EM. I think we are holding on to it being a cultural experience, what makes you involved with a culture in a beautiful way or through music, not at all isolating but welcoming. I don’t know, that and other endeavors of ours are going a lot faster than we ever planned. It’s growing in a really organic way though, we don’t have time to plan beyond the next one. But outside of that we are looking to broad our horizons, we just got a monthly gig in Providence (RI) as well. We’ll both be living in Boston for a while so we’ll keep digging further. We are committed to make this more fun than it already is.

AA. Yep. Absolutely. I’m committed to you too. [laughs] Now, for my last question: what do you hear and think of Plastic City?

SS. I think using technology to your advantage, like social media, you are obviously physically not with people but at the same time you are communicating, although it’s a different kind of communication. But I feel that the way we are using technology is to try and create a very organic interaction with people, very…well, I don’t want to say primitive, [laughs] just something that we can all universally connect.

EM. I always think of using technology to take you outside of technology. Being a DJ is a technological experience and also a current experience. The idea of buying mp3s from artists all over the world and sharing via the internet and the dance floor to create an experience that feels natural. I just love living in that rum.

AA. Alright, thank you both. See you at the dance floor.

SS/EM. [laughs] You will.

Interview // Musician Audrey Ryan by Spirited Magazine

Spirited #3 [Archive: Museum of Innocents]
Interview with Audrey Ryan
by Amanda Maciel Antunes


Audrey Ryan is living her own American dream. The one-woman-band has replaced quintessential grown-up wants and needs with concert tours, recording sessions and a music career. When Audrey’s not honing her craft in Boston, she is taking her spontaneous lifestyle and eclectic musical sound on the road. Hailed as an avant-rocker front-woman, she has the steam and enthusiasm to live up to the hype. We talked about being one of most personable artists imaginable, growing up, having beers with Beth Orton, and moving on. Admittedly the musician’s life is not for everyone, but it certainly seems to suit her just fine.

I want to get a feel for where you came from. I know you started at a young age; have you always wanted to perform?
I’ve always had music in my life. My parents played music, Dad guitar, Mom organ and piano. It was a musical household. I haven’t always wanted to perform but I’ve always wanted to play music in some capacity, over the years performing has just becoming a bigger and bigger part of my life because it’s the only way to share your music besides recording.

And where did you live with you parents?

I’m originally from coastal Maine, Mount Desert Island; it remains a large part of my identity. I still live in Maine every summer for about ten weeks, I have a small summer shack there, and that is where I do most of my writing and decompressing from city life. It’s what I look forward to all year long, that time to myself in the place I come from.

I always have my mouth full when describing you work, because you play solo with so many instruments and manage to sound like a full band. How would you describe your work?
I call myself a multi-instrumentalist, one-man-band, singer-songwriter. That is the short version. I play lots of instruments, sometimes at the same time, like I loop guitar and then play drum parts over it and then sing. I also play accordion, banjo, ukulele, piano, synth, violin, ect…As for a genre, I’m somewhere between folk, experimental, psychadelic, rock or anything in between. Early influences include Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bert Jansch, John Fahey, and Bob Dylan. Modern influences include Sufjan Stevens, Radiohead, Wilco, and Arcade Fire. I think of myself as being “eclectic” if anything…
What’s it like to be a rare one-show-woman in the music business?  

It’s certainly interesting, some people assume that I must not work well with others and that is why I’m a solo artist…that isn’t true. I work fine with others. I’ve played in several bands. I play solo because the “one-man-band” model is where my music seems to thrive the most. I create a band sound from one person; I love that concept. Plus I get to tour way more than I would if I was in a band. And even better yet, because it’s just me, I actually tend to make money instead of lose money like most bands. So it’s a musical model as well as a financial model.
In your music you express the emotions a lot of people internalize – that’s got to be hard. Are there some things that you feel like you have to hold close to your heart instead?
It’s funny, when my music gets ‘personal’ people are either drawn in or shy away. Most people are drawn in by personal confessions within the lyrics. But my Dad on the other hand, hates my personal lyrics and prefers the vague references that are generalized. It’s kind of funny how people interpret that emotion and what it means to them, let alone what it means to you. Music can be really cathartic if you let it be. If you write a really good song about a feeling or emotion, or about a breakup or a tragedy, you get a lot off your chest. But if all my material was like that it might be too much. So it’s here and there throughout my records.
You’re also compared with Joni Mitchell and Aimee Mann. In my opinion, yes, you have a little bit of both in your performances, but I also feel that your performances have this ‘First Time’ memory scanner every time, there is something about it that puts me at ease. Is it something you’re aware of?

I’ve been told many times that I have my own sound, whatever that is. Of course, that is my goal, to be original, find my own sound, and not just be a watered down version of someone who is already famous. I’m aware that music hits people on different levels, not everyone gets what I do, but people who do get it tend to say that it has ambient moments that remind them of a dream. Other people think it sounds like a movie soundtrack (guess it depends on the movie)! In any case, I think I’ve veered away from the normal and safe, and tried to explore ideas and challenge myself with new instruments and song structures that are not conventional, even if the result is sometimes weird.
I think originality and creativity goes hand in hand with what you do. Do you feel creatively fulfilled or are their other endeavors, talents, or aspirations you feel you need to explore?
I like to write and that is my other way to creatively express myself. I usually write autobiographical stories about traveling and such, it can be really fun, also cathartic. Otherwise, music is definitely my medium and outlet, it’s quite frankly what I’m best at.
You just released “Thick Skin,”it’s your third album correct? Your CD release party was a huge success, I was overwhelmed by the sounds of the full band you gathered around you. I think it was the first time I ever saw you with a band. It was really beautiful. Is “Thick Skin” really about relationships you had, or do you channel the work outside of your own experiences?
“Thick Skin” is about a lot of things. More specifically loneliness, nostalgia, and of course, relationships. There are a lot of songs about coming to grips with being at a point in your life where things just are not panning out and you have to either become jaded and bitter, or get over it and move on. A lot of my songs have been about that over the past couple years, cause the music business is more than tough, it’s punishing sometimes. It makes no sense, you can give everything you have into it and it will spit back on you. So some songs are just about my own personal process of finding a way to love music whilst simultaneously hating the music business, and building a lifestyle that wouldn’t make me miserable. Once again music can be really cathartic in a life process like that. I think I’m almost on the other side of wherever I was, because I’m a lot happier now, and I genuinely like the music I make, and I don’t really care what other people think anymore.
A lot of your work has themes of loss, breaking apart, nostalgia and of course, hope. It’s obviously something that’s really important to you, and probably helps drive some of the dialogue of the work. How do you feel your process and the themes in your work have progressed over the years? Do you usually come up with a theme for an album early in the writing stages?
I don’t usually have a theme for records. I generally just pick a song title that fits the overall mood the most and go with it. I’m not the kind of person who sits down and writes ten songs that relate to each other. I write when I’m inspired, the songs come from different places. The most they’ve related to each other is on my album “I Know, I Know.” They were almost all loop songs, so there was a similar musical theme throughout. I think I’ll do that again soon because I like that concept. But the theme is more likely to be musical than lyrical, I can’t even explain how I write lyrics, it’s an odd process of finding a concept each time.
What’s your favorite place that you have been on tour so far? And were there any star-struck moments while touring?
I love playing in Paris but that’s just ‘cause I love Paris. My star-struck moment happened in November in Dublin, Ireland when I played a show with this guy Sam Amidon, and the special guests that night were Beth Orton, Glen Hansard, and Damien Rice. I met and hung out with them all, drank beers, and they all said they loved my music. It was really gratifying to have people who have had a ton of success in the music business tell me they like what I do.
What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment?
Touring internationally, making several records, writing hundreds of songs. I guess just growing constantly musically has been my biggest accomplishment, as where I started and where I’m at now are night and day. I’m such a better musician now than I was then and it’s because I never gave up or settled for a certain sound, or got lazy and made boring records that I thought other people would like.
What song do you think everyone should hear?
I just listened to Joni Mitchell’s record “For the Roses,” which I hadn’t heard in years and I fell right back in love with her and her lyrics. There are so many good songs on that record but listen to “Barangrill” or the title track; they are all amazing. I truly believe she is the best singer-songwriter of all time.
Now, say the first thing that kind of comes to mind, cool? What makes you innocent?


My staggering love for my home state, Maine, I love Maine like I love my family. It’s such a large part of my identity and where I find my inspiration. It keeps me young to love where I’m from, all those memories and nostalgia, all that connection and history. I feel a lot of innocence when I’m in my small house near the ocean and take a walk in the woods or on the shore and have no expectations, no ambition, no agenda. That’s the best feeling I know.

Interview // Songstress Katie Chastain (Faux Fix) by Spirited Magazine


Spirited #1 [Full spread in Spirited #1 "Dreams and Illusions"]
Interview with Katie Chastain
by Amanda Maciel Antunes

Sometimes the best talents sneak up on you. In a culture where a bold tweet sometimes takes priority over a bold talent, songstress Katie Chastain is increasingly refreshing. After the release of her debut album “Firecracker” in 2008, Katie has spent months on the road, writing, singing, working and marrying her partner and producer Nathan Johnson. I’ve worked with Katie at one of the most unforgettable days of my life (filming music video Snow Show) and the impact of her ethereal and ladylike beauty cling to your guns. She’s committed to creative and passionate work and we are committed to her success and what makes music matter by keeping audiences swarming and smiling. Her new project to be released in 2011 called Faux Fix is an impressive body of work that will evoke all your senses because some people just have that innate thing that allows them to express.

What inspired you growing up to be a musician? Was it something you always wanted to do?

I actually never thought growing up that I’d pursue a career as an artist. Though I always loved music, I mostly viewed it as a hobby. It wasn’t until college that I started to view it more seriously. I think it actually took attending a semester-away music program on Martha’s Vineyard for me to really set my sights on music as a career path.

It’s amazing what you have accomplished and how many wonderful talents you surround yourself with, how does that influence your work philosophy and your art?

As an independent artist, I’ve found that an artistic community is absolutely necessary. I’m continually inspired by my friends who are making art, and when they succeed it renews my hope in the possibility.

I know you’re very interested in Fashion and Film as an art form. What is your favorite movie and how does Fashion plays a role in your life as a performer?

My favorite movie is Amelie largely due to the other-worldly, Parisian aesthetic. I’d say fashion is a huge part of my art, in that it almost lets me play another character from stage. I love the idea of a holistic performance where the audience experience is sculpted by not only the music, but also the set, the lighting, the stage wear, etc.

Your album debut “Firecracker” was defined by a combination of beauty, sculpted and seductive, and almost simplistic in its form. How are you approaching this new music project “Faux Fix”? If you can, would you tell us a little bit about how it’s coming together and how the name came to be (ps. I love it by the way)?

Thank you, Faux Fix is an ethereal art-pop project mixed with theatrical and electo-arrangements. It’s a bit dark and dramatic at times, but it has light and delicate leanings as well. The name Faux Fix hints at the idea of art as a beautiful escapism into experiences beyond ourselves. That’s the great thing about books, movies and music – they allow us to live vicariously, which only broadens our horizons and understanding of humanity.

Who do you envision listening to your music? Do you write your songs with someone in mind or you let your creativity take control?

I usually start writing without much of an audience perception. The hope is always that the work will eventually find it’s complementary audience, but it feels unhelpful to think about that in the conceptual stages. I try to be as creatively free as possible during the songwriting process.

Any collaborations with other artists in the works?

Yes, there are a few performance and recording collaborations in the works with other artist friends like New York-based Son Lux, who is co-producing the next album, and New Volunteer, a fantastic indie band from the U.K.

How do you feel about working in a second big project with such a talented partner, husband, musician and producer Nathan Johnson?

We both really enjoy working together. There is definitely a rhythm you have to establish with anyone, especially when it comes to writing. At times it can be difficult, but I definitely prefer co-writing because the musical discoveries are always so surprising and usually surpass either of our expectations.

In the increasingly celebrity – obsessed world, do you see the music business more of a marketing-driven maneuver that diminishes the importance of an unknown artist?

I actually believe it’s an exciting time for independent artists. Although it may be more difficult at this point in history to crack the music industry, in some ways, there’s less need for the industry in the first place. It’s becoming easier and easier to self-record and market your own music, which is freeing as a creator. I think there’s some very interesting music being made right now without much restriction, possibly because it’s so hard to get a record deal.

When do you know you’re done with an album or a music project?

When the work smiles back at you.

In Fashion, as much as in Art, change is almost obligatory for the artist and the work in this so called “Future”. As a musician and artist how do you change without loosing identity?

Artistic evolvement should be a natural process. With each work that you complete, you’re continually learning how to make better decisions towards what you like and away from what you don’t like. It’s sort of a trial and error process. But I think it’s actually that process that brings about an identity by way of self-discovery.

Now, the spirited in me would like to know, can you share a dream with us?

I recently had a dream before my wedding day that my dress was locked in the cleaners because it was a Sunday. In the dream I was frantically trying to find a back-up dress on the day of my wedding! Unfortunately, I only remember my stressful dreams.

 Photos of Katie by Pennybird Photography

Photos of Katie by Pennybird Photography

Interview // Musician Reva Williams by Spirited Magazine

Spirited #2 [Cloak and Dagger]
Interview with Reva Williams
by Amanda Maciel Antunes

Reva Williams is the kind of woman that makes you feel a bit unbalanced inside, not just because she’s a beautiful, captivating front woman; she has an energy that beats down your door and insists you come out and feel what she feels. Her intensity is genuine, her motivation is sincere, and her live shows are an unadulterated display of raw talent. From the church choir as a girl to the bar rafters as a woman, she has bellowed redemption and shame, the dripping knife of murder, the mother’s embrace of forgiveness.


Your outlook on music and the arts and how you choose to live your life and make art is truly inspiring. I mean ever since I met you my whole outlook has changed on how I see the world and how I treat people, honestly! I thank you for that. Where would you say your drive and inspiration comes from?

R. I don’t know that I always felt that way. I think that a lot of times in my life I tried not to cultivate actually the things that I wanted to cultivate because they possibly weren’t valuable? You know how you knew you wanted to be in Fashion and had been honoring that part of yourself in the very since you were a teenager right?


R. And for me, music and theater and …writing, all of that seemed to me in the environment that I was raised, church evangelicalism, not valued very much, the only thing that was valued was church work. So I feel like I had this secret self, leaving these feelings out in the open. Doing them in a way that, I felt I wasn’t supposed to love them, that I wasn’t supposed to be getting other people to feel something, because of my performance. So I came around in taking my work seriously later, mid or late twenties, and it’s something I can’t really take for granted and have to be really intentional about it and cultivate this whole other way in looking at the world which said that all I was doing didn’t matter. So, in some ways I think that it helps to be a little bit more present to my work, cause I feel that I have to justify what I do all the time, so I had to really do a ton of work just to defend myself to myself for making the choices I have made. A lot of artists take for granted, in a good way, for being who they are, and for me it meant crying, screaming … to pull myself into myself and to prove that I could do it.

Do you feel that this transition you struggled with and being able to move away from it was helped by a different community?

R. Yes, definitely, I think going to work at the Music Center in Martha’s Vineyard was really helpful because they took music really seriously. And I felt that I could relax because I was always sort of embarrassed about that. Society and culture have very specific expectations about what it means to be a good person, and for a lot of us, that value system is in the odds with whom we actually are. So to choose your work in a way that it doesn’t fit the parameters you feel like you have to justify, and to justify your work you have to justify yourself.

Yes, and sometimes, I’m sure you feel that way too about music, I feel that nobody cares…that who cares about wearing a pretty dress or looking at something beautiful if you’re suffering.

R. But that isn’t true…and we know that.

I know. But sometimes it gets you thinking and banging against the wall.

R. Maybe a dress won’t make anybody less hungry but anytime what we make and value in being human, being alive, being present, being here…That, that is an act of peace making. I think it’s super important work, to make beautiful things and give to other people.

And what is being that person, What is an artist?

R. I think that is someone who believes in mystery, someone who believes that there’s a truth that we can’t find the word for, somebody who believes that life is more than what you see in front of us. Artists and innovators recognize that whatever is in the frame or eyesights and cultural morals right now isn’t the whole story. I think that what artists do is that they pull the thread of the narrative and say “Really? What about this?”

And I know that you write beautiful songs but you also write poetry right? And I think I read on your blog that you have been working on more poetry lately...

R. Yes. I do. I wrote a lot this summer. For some reason I wrote more poetry. I’m not a very good poet, or…I don’t know. I’m trying to write more again. I love poetry. To me…it might be the art form that hits me the most. A lot of times it helps to explain me to myself.

When you write music or poetry do you feel some of the emotions you went through when you wrote it, or you’re more critical at that stage?

R. Ah, it can be both…it just depends. There’s that stage of things that catch my ears that are written based, when it comes to words, it’s not emotion based, at least it doesn’t feel that way. But I also think there’s a reason that catches my ears and it’s not just because of the way it sounds but it’s also because it’s a tight string to something, you know, some emotion. Sometimes when I’m working trying to get that right and I’m immediately drawn back to the hand holding the string and I didn’t even know what the hand was. [laughs]..Does that make any sense? I feel like I just sound crazy…

I’m not sure I’m the best at judging that…but it doesn’t sound crazy to me! [laughs]

R. Art is this idea where there’s a spark between two synapses and that the goal is to keep them close enough to spark, but not too close so then the spark can’t happen. That is for me how the critical and the emotional elements work.

I can definitely relate to that, trying to keep the balance of two extremes in order to make good work.

R. Yes, and if it doesn’t move us, what is it for? Regardless of how well put together it was.

Absolutely. Especially when the craft is a package, you write, make songs and perform to others. Performing is even a different kind of art. Are you performing these days?

R. I’m trying to get ready for that, I’m trying to get financially ready so everybody can do it and everybody can afford it. We need to make another record, a Gretel (band) record and I’m trying to figure that out. I mean, we have all these songs and we are ready to make one I just don’t know how that’s supposed to work out since we are all scattered around the Earth. And I’m actually trying to get a band here, to play locally, so we’ll see how that goes. I do want to start playing, I’ve been under the radar for enough time now and I need to pop back up again. I’m also working on a solo record, which I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it.

A solo record would be amazing! I’d love to hear that.

R. Part of me wants this to be a rock record, and have somebody else produce it, even though it’s still me on the banjo…it’s more of a raw interpretation of the work I have done before.

And also we notice from the audience that you enjoy performing a lot..

R. I really do love it. And also if you love doing something why don’t you do it as much as possible.

Do you feel vulnerable on stage or is that something that because you love it so much you play this role for the audience..

R. Any time any of us get to be vulnerable with another person in whatever capacity that takes, whether it’s showing weakness or something we are ashamed of, performing, sex or these sort of things, it’s so wonderful, to feel accepted and loved in that.

I think you have mastered that.

R. I always hope that there’s an invitation for that when I perform. I want people to feel safe in those places and themselves.

Can you tell me a little bit about your side collaboration with Will Gray?

R. Yeah, we built a record together that hopefully will get recorded. It’s a duet record. And also the documentary about today’s music industry challenges, Broke*, that he’s been working on it. And that I actually played a larger role in it that I realized? And this documentary is what he’s most focused on now. I love what he does and I’m grateful that I get to be around for it. Sometimes I don’t get it why he wants me around for all this.

He’s such a giving person and so, so talented, as much as you are, and I have this dream that whoever succeeds first will bring the other along.

R. Yeah, which is really fascinating. I think Will trusts me and I think he’s in the industry playing the part to touch people, which is one of the reasons why I feel the way I feel with him. And I think that’s a hard thing to have, so if you can work with these people and also be good friends, it’s a real blessing.

I know you’ve done a lot of stuff on your own, in isolation, not really collaborating with anyone during the process…is that how you prefer to work or it just happened to be that way?

R. I do prefer both to happen kind of interchangeably. But I like to write by myself. But having the reaction of people, specially the people I work with that have musical sense is what I really, really rely on it. I relied on having Phil and Melissa’s feedback along the years in Gretel, it’s your band and it’s really important.

Yes. There’s always the confirmation of self and appreciation necessary for the work to take a different level.

R. Yes, Their experimentation changes how you hear things and how we hear ourselves.

I’m interested in the song “Car Bomb times” because I personally relate to what I think it means. I used to be so scared of growing up in this world, scared of being poor, ugly and alone. sometimes the images you picture as a child you don’t know how to handle it, I guess? So I’m interested to hear the origin of this song, it seems really dark to me. But hopeful, somehow.

R. Well, I wrote that song the day I got my banjo. Will told me that I needed to play the banjo in his band and I didn’t know how to play the banjo. And he was like “you better get one and learn”. So, okay, I went to the music store, rented the cheapest, crappiest banjo and then I went home, sat down and started to play some chords and I wrote Car Bomb Times. Which is kind of hilarious…also you know, you know this about me, Im kind of a fearful person. It doesn’t take much to put my head down and cry and what is it all for and how are we going to survive…we are killing ourselves, we are killing our children and our future. I can really apocalyptic myself into madness, so my major reaction to the world is to be afraid of it. Car Bomb Times isn’t Times Square, it isn’t happening here, and yet everything in politics is fear driven and what it comes down to it, what does everybody here have to be afraid of? We are afraid of things that will never happen to us. So I live in a culture that sells me fear and I’m trying to resist it.

reva williams.jpg

Has it ever come to your mind to be doing different things other than music, what would you do? You could be anyone, like a photographer, athlete, you could maybe travel with the circus or be a pilot?

R. Honestly, I would be a writer. I wish I could write fiction. At some point I’d like to invest myself there. I love books so much. I love novels and poems and if I could also be someone who makes those things and contribute to that composition that would be wonderful.

And as far as collaborating with one person, musically, who would it be?

R. I know this will sound totally cheesy right now, but I’d love to write songs and sing with Dennis Brennan. I adore him, I think he’s amazing. And also my great loves will be Elvis Castello and Sam Phillips, I’d love to get to work with those people. They are phenomenal at what they do.

And last, I’d would like to ask you, “Cloak or Dagger”?

R. I’ve spent my whole life Cloak and now I’m trying to choose Dagger.