BLOG: Race In Music

I am sick of hearing “White people ruined Hip-Hop.”

Yes, it offends me.

Firstly, I am not fully white. My mother was born in Mexico, which makes my brother and I first generation Americans. My father has an Irish-English background, making me a mixed baby.

It is easy for people to generalize a genre of music and say “Hip-Hop is for African Americans, Latin-influenced music is only for Latinos, Rock music is only for White people.” But by saying this, you are displaying how absolutely close minded and judgmental you are. There are no rules in music, and as an artist I can vouch for the fact that we do what we speaks to us, regardless of stereotype and agenda.

I grew up in Houston with many different musical influences, most of which being Hip-Hop. I grew up on artists such as Biggie, Common, JoJo, Asia Cruz, and many other influential, multi- racial artists. When I went on to college, I became heavily influenced by artists such as Kid Cudi, The Weeknd, and Jhene Aiko. Never once have I thought I should not be listening to this because of my background or skin color. It does not make me a “poser” or a “wanna-be.”

Upon moving to Austin in the pursuit of music, I played stereotypical singer songwriter “girl with her  guitar” type music. I played shows, received positive feedback, and went on to release two albums on Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, and many more distribution outlets.

This was all fine and dandy, but the only problem was I had a horrible sinking feeling I was not being myself. I was playing shows from a molded perspective of what I thought people wanted to hear. I was sticking to the “Taylor Swift” genre out of fear people would judge me and throw negativity towards the art I truly wanted to create. I played this music for four years, never truly feeling happy, fulfilled, or proud of the art I was producing.

It wasn’t until my second album release that I got fed up. I retired my stage name, put all my music in a memory box, and vowed to myself that I would stop pretending. I took on a Hip-Hop project with a few talented individuals who believed in me, and I have never been more inspired or proud of my art. This is where I need to be, and this is what  I need to be doing.

I will get judged, I will get told what I am doing is stupid, and I will get laughed at. But to this, I say bring it on, because I am bulletproof against negative people. I am happy, and therefore have no reason to put anyone down. When someone is in the spotlight, it allows for commentary and negativity from people sitting behind a computer, too scared to be bold themselves.

“My mind is unshakable. Words of hatred and anger shall not pass my lips. I will surround my enemy with thoughts of sympathy and pity that flow out from a mind filled with compassion for all sentient life.”

I am inspired by other artist’s ability to break outside of stereotypes and do what makes them happy. I am inspired by their ability to forget and disregard what people think they “should” be doing. I have never categorized an artist by race, and never intend to.

There is no good or bad, right or wrong, or race in music. It is all perception and individuality. Art is art because it is unique and boundless. - Bateau

BLOG: Industry Girl

Being a female in a male dominated industry is no cake-walk, and any woman will tell you that. I have taken the time to interview five different women from four different states to gain perspective on the different struggles and challenges they have had to face. I was a little surprised to find that each woman had their own unique perspective and experiences regarding the issue. I decided to leave names out and make it anonymous in order for the women to be one hundred percent honest and open about the questions I asked them, so I gave them pseudo names.

Jane, Natalie, Megan, Hanna, and Kim.

The purpose of this experiment is not to bash men. There are plenty of genuine men in the industry who respect women as their equals, and I know and love a lot of them. Those men are not included in this article. This article simply serves to bring awareness to the dark side of being a woman as well as an artist. I am not generalizing all men, but simply touching on experiences that have occurred. I am fully aware that men face their own struggles as well, but being a woman myself, I can not touch on those because I have no experience with them.

Anyway, I began by asking these five women a little bit about themselves, and found most of them had degrees as well as multiple talents and interests. Many of them moved states and sacrificed a lot to pursue their dreams, which is incredibly impressive to me. Let’s start off slow and ease into the heavy stuff later. I’m not going to say too much, because I want these women’s answers to speak for themselves.

What are some of your interests/ hobbies?

JANE

 I am 25 years old, and I am a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and self-published author. I would say my biggest strength is writing. Although I love writing songs, I also love creating stories. Aside from music and writing, I also dabble in visual arts. I used to paint quite a lot, and I still paint and draw on occasion. For a while I had some of my paintings displayed in a gallery studio that my family rented. Although I am perceptibly artistic, I also really enjoy science, particularly natural science, and spirituality. I love being out in nature, hiking trails, driving cross-country, climbing trees, exploring, reading, learning, meditating, dancing, celebrating holidays, and expressing love for the world.

NATALIE

 I am 24, a creator, singer, writer, artist. I love cooking, reading, being outside, being with children, talking with others, drawing, painting, and smiling!

MEGAN

 I am 20, and I am a singer- songwriter. I can cook. Brunch is my specialty. I also sew all my own clothes.

HANNA

 I am 26 and I am a singer-songwriter. I’m also an actress, improvisor, and model. I also like to cook and eat.

KIM

I am 25, a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. I love painting, photography, and videography as well. I’m also an amateur engineer and mixed/ mastered my first album.

<3

A lot of these women grew up with talented parents or siblings, and have been exposed to music and art since a very early age. Most of these women never even took lessons, but are in fact self-taught.

How did you get started in your craft?

JANE 

 I have been around music my entire life, as my father has been in a band my entire life and several of my other family members are also musically inclined. When I was six years old I took piano lessons, but I couldn’t get the hang of reading the music so I would just watch my teacher’s hands and memorize where they went on the keyboard and then copy her.

NATALIE

 I have been singing for as long as I can remember, in school choir and also forcing my family to watch me sing the entire soundtrack to Annie. I began working on music and giving it my creative attention in 2014.

MEGAN

I have played piano since age seven, started writing when I was thirteen, and then found a guitar in my attic and taught myself at fourteen or so.

HANNA

I’ve been singing and writing my whole life, but I didn’t start writing songs until I was eighteen. A friend signed me up for an open mic without my permission. After that I started playing coffee houses, which lead me to playing shows. That lead to making records. Records lead to writing for licensing and sync… and now, here I am.

KIM

I have been playing piano and singing since before I can really remember. I am a self taught guitarist and the music gene runs in my grandpa, brother, and father. I have been around it for a long time, and have always taken great interest in it.

<3

Now I am going to transition into the heavy stuff. Since the music industry is undoubtedly a male dominated one, women have to work twice as hard to gain respect and be taken seriously. It is also scary for women who are often times sexualized and expected to portray a certain appearance or persona. I personally go into meeting someone assuming they do not have good intentions until they prove me otherwise. This is not because I am a bitch, this is not because I am conceited, and this is not because I am rude or stand- offish. This is because I have been taken advantage of, had my dreams of becoming a professional musician used against me, been overlooked and underestimated, and have had opportunities snatched away from me because I would not humor a man in a position of power. Upon talking with my fellow female musicians, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Some were a little more open than others, so I took out a few of their answers and only left the informative ones. Let’s see what the girls had to say in this string of personal questions…

What would you say is the most challenging thing about being a woman in this industry?

JANE

I don’t know if this is a challenge specific to women, but something I have found very challenging as a musician is marketing myself. I think perhaps women have an even harder time with this because in this industry there is a large emphasis on “image”, and a woman’s image is often subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, placed in the forefront. Something I have confronted often among spectators and especially other musicians is the notion that the sound of my voice and the aesthetic of my face and body are more important than my lyrics or musical compositions.

NATALIE

For me, showing my vulnerability. It is hard to do and at the same time is the most rewarding feeling. And honestly, it is just hard to be myself. The challenge is the fun part though. It gives this journey worth!

MEGAN

The fact that you are commonly overlooked or belittled. Often times people, men and women alike, assume that females are less hardworking and do not possess as much talent as their male counterparts.

HANNA

 Being judged by what you look like, rather than who you are as a person/artist.  Also, navigating through a business filled with creeps.

KIM

Definitely has to be the fact that I constantly feel overlooked. I feel I’m not taken as seriously and I have to work harder just to be on the same level as the guy players. I also don’t like all the men who try to take advantage of me or hit on me when I just want to be viewed as a professional like everyone else.

Do you have a personal experience you would like to share?

JANE

A few years ago I met up with a guitarist I had found on Craigslist. He and I had many similar inspirations, similar goals, and seemed to click both musically and personally. He mentioned that as we accrue more members, it was important to keep things strictly business, not to let physical attraction or emotions get in the way of the music. I agreed and we began working together. We tried finding other musicians to join us, but this was very difficult, as the genre we wanted to pursue (industrial synth metal) was an uncommon direction for musicians in that area, who generally preferred thrash metal, which does not lend well to female vocals. So, he and I continued working together as a duo, writing and recording songs. A few months went by and he mentioned that he had developed both attraction and possible feelings for me which he was trying to suppress for the sake of the music. A few weeks later he came onto me. At the time I was still pretty naive and insecure in this regard and was afraid that if I refused him, he would get angry and want to stop working with me, and therefore all the songs we had worked on — songs I had invested a lot of time and emotion into — would be destroyed, or worse, taken from me to be recorded or performed with another singer. This fear led me to comply with his affections, which seemed to be mostly physical in nature, with little emotion attached. I was not sure anymore which part of me he really wanted — the musician or the girl. And the fact that these had to remain separate in order for me to keep control of my own emotional and physical well being was very disturbing to me.

MEGAN

Not specifically, but, I have experienced (time and time again) a very surprised reaction to my music. When I go on stage with my guitar and say that I am about to play a song I wrote, you can almost feel the entire room lose interest and prepare for an early Taylor Swift rendition. When it becomes apparent that I have more to offer than a cheesy lovesick ballad, people show noticeable surprise. It’s the equivalent of someone saying, “Wow, I didn’t expect you to have talent, because you are a girl.”

HANNA

I try not to let these things negatively affect me. I’ve had a couple scary instances where I’ve been followed to my car, or harassed on social media, which have not been pleasant.

KIM

I actually have quite a bit, but I’ll just give one experience. I was working on a song with a semi- well known artist. It was going well and I though he was genuinely interested in a  collaboration. Turns out, he was trying to “get with me.” Halfway through the songs completion, it became obvious to him I wasn’t interested in giving him what he wanted. So what he did was completely throw the song away and withdrew all support from my music, which he obviously never cared about to begin with. But even worse all his friends and the people I met through the process withdrew their support too. I think because I was the woman and he was the “powerful” man. Even though everyone knew he was in the wrong, they were afraid of upsetting him and just left me to the dogs. I’m just proud to say I didn’t let the fear of losing his support, our collaboration, and all the “friends” I made through him force me into being romantic with him when I didn’t want to be.

How do you feel men view women in the industry?

 JANE

I think that in my experience, musicians in general are overlooked and underestimated. I have also met several female musicians who are greatly admired and praised. But I feel that women in general are overlooked and underestimated, particularly in areas such as intellect and skill as opposed to aesthetic, and I feel that female musicians are critiqued and picked apart more often than male musicians, regardless of image or style.

MEGAN

 I will not generalize and say that every single man in the music industry looks down upon women, because that is not true in the slightest. However, a good portion do not take our presence seriously or believe that our creative expressions are contributing to the cultural conversation in a beneficial or significant way.

HANNA

I can’t speak for all men. There are a lot of good men in the industry as well as bad men. I’ve dealt with both. Like anything in life, nothing is just one way. I’d say in a general sense, men view themselves as the majority in this industry, and women as the minority. Which is sadly… true.

KIM

This obviously doesn’t go for every man, but I think they don’t see us as being capable of being as talented or creative as them. When I’m hanging around a bunch of my guy musician friends, people assume I am with them because I am one of the guy’s girlfriends or that I am a groupie. They never think that I could possibly be a musician too. And when they find out, they are incredibly surprised.

What are some hurtful things you have been told as an artist due to your gender?

JANE 

 That I was a horrible singer, a wannabe. Which I know isn’t true and it shouldn’t have bothered me except for the context: This was after we had been just beginning to get to know one another and I showed him one of the songs I had recorded. Soon after, he came onto me and I rejected him and he sent me a very long email totally bashing me and my song. Some of the most hurtful things anyone has said to me were in that email, which I have since deleted. And I have to remind myself that he was never really interested in me, the real me, and he never cared one bit about my song. But I still feel ashamed for sharing something so close to my heart to someone who spat it back out at me like that.

HANNA

“Good thing you’re pretty, because that’s the most important thing for a woman to be in music” or something along those lines.

KIM

“You better suck it up and do what you have to do, because no woman has ever made it to the top without help from a man.”

<3

In my opinion, the scariest part about being a woman are the advances that men with not-so-great intentions tend to make. Women can sometimes be viewed as vulnerable and naïve, which is absolutely not the case. I am also aware that men can receive unwanted advances as well, and it is not okay in either scenario.

Have you ever had a man use your craft and ambitions against you to make romantic advances?

 JANE

 I think most of the people who have made such requests did legitimately want to talk and pursue music in a professional manner. I think that if there is any ulterior motive, it is secondary and usually doesn’t come to surface until a personal relationship has been established, fortunately. Still, as the stories above indicate, this can even then be a detriment to musical pursuits and emotional well being.

NATALIE

Yes, I have. I was partially to blame though, and it has made me stronger.

MEGAN

Yeah, I have had guys ask me to hang out and “jam”, but when I get there I see a bottle of wine and there isn’t much jamming going on. Like, I came here to play some music, why are you asking if I want to watch a movie? Not cool.

HANNA

Yes, this has happened a lot, but I don’t think this is exclusive to the music industry. I feel like this happens to women all the time, no matter the industry. You just have to have a good gut instinct to navigate through those waters.

KIM

A lot of guys will ask me to jam or work on a song with them just so they can get close to me or hit on me. At least when a man appraoches another man about a collaboration, he knows it is genuinely because the other guy likes his music.

<3

Now for the fun part! Aside from all the tough stuff, there are tons of amazing perspectives and ideas women can bring into the industry; on a creative level as well as a professional one. I love being a woman, and I would not change it for the world. Much like everything else, good comes with the bad.

What is your favorite part about being a woman in this industry?

JANE

Firstly, the feeling I get when I have just written a new song and it tells some sort of story or illustrates a scene that is beautiful. Secondly, that moment when I am singing in front of an audience and it doesn’t feel like my voice is even trying, it just sings itself with astonishing effortlessness, and I feel so strong and free. Ultimately, my favorite part is being so inspired and determined to express myself that all the walls just disappear and I don’t even need wings to be able to fly.

NATALIE

Expressing who I am truly. It is the greatest feeling of fulfillment for me.

MEGAN

How it allows me to express myself, and sort through everything that happens in my life.

HANNA

Connecting with people as well as the bliss I get from writing.

KIM

The people I meet and having an outlet to express myself. It makes me feel powerful.

What do you feel women can bring to the table?

 JANE

 I think anything innovative that anyone can bring to the industry should be welcome. I just don’t want anyone, specifically women, to hold back. I don’t want them to be afraid that the way they want to sing or play, the songs they want to perform, the goals they want to accomplish, the collaborations they want to pursue, the projects they want to produce, are somehow impossible or unsuitable for them because they are female. That should not be a factor. Despite the big labels, the money-making schemes, the marketing, the subliminal messages and all that bullshit, this is at its core an industry that is fueled by creative expression. I don’t want complacency and fear to combat that creativity or that expression.

NATALIE

Strength and softness! There cannot be one without the other and we embody both, men and women, masculine and feminine. There must be balance.

MEGAN

Women represent half of the world’s population, thus, half of the world’s potential. To ignore that and renounce it is not in anyone’s best interest or to anyone’s advantage. Our rallying cry should be to recognize, support and cultivate all of that untapped potential.

HANNA

All the things men can bring to the table!

KIM

I think women can bring everything a man can bring to the table, but maybe with a softer side and perspective.

What would you like to see change for women in the industry?

JANE 

I want to see female musicians who don’t hold back from fear that they will be regarded as unattractive or unappealing. I want to see women taking leadership roles within the music industry. I want to see women who are able to market themselves based on the content of their songwriting and musical style. I want to see women who inspire other women to be who they are and do what they love. And I do see that, here and there.

NATALIE

There WILL (mark my words) be a day when ALL women (and men) are free to be who they truly are without feeling as though they need something to sell. Underneath all of the things we, as human beings do, we all seek attention, love, and connection. It is the desire that drives us. I envision a world where truth is the driving force of all action and all expression.

MEGAN

Gender equality, b*****!

HANNA

I think it’s the same change I would like to see in society as a whole; respect and equality.

KIM

I would love for women to be respected and treated as creative equals.

<3

I will leave you with this beautiful quote from Michael E Reid.

“Dear Woman,

Sometimes you will just be too much woman. Too smart, too confident, and too strong. Too much of something that makes a man feel like less of a man, which will start making you feel like you have to be less of a woman. The biggest mistake you can make is removing jewels from your crown to make it easier for a man to carry. You do not need a smaller crown, you need a man with bigger hands.”

Thank you to the five women who participated and shed their light and beauty on such a delicate topic. - Bateau

BLOG: The B Word

I once heard this really awesome metaphor that I wish I could take credit for, but I can’t. It went something like:

“Men, imagine you are at a bar and a man comes up to you. He is trying to talk to you about religion and you’re really not interested. You are just there with your friends and trying to enjoy yourself. Now imagine this happening five times in one night. And NOW, imagine that they are all trying to have sex with you.”

Being a woman is f****** hard, and no man will ever be able to understand the struggles we have to deal with, so please don’t come at me like you do. We especially struggle when we are trying to be taken as professionals. I am also aware that men face their own struggles as well, but I am not talking about that because I am not a man, and simply could not understand.

Lisa Ling described the struggles she had to face on her way up to becoming an extremely respected journalist, and her struggles were all too familiar to me. She said she received incredible opportunities by men in positions of power, only for them to be retracted when she wouldn’t engage romantically with them. Do you know how incredibly humiliating and discouraging it is when your dreams are used as a weapon to get close to you? It did not matter that Miss Ling became one of the youngest reporters of her time, or that she is a published author who has multiple documentaries and international reports under her belt. She was beautiful , and therefore was not taken seriously. Somehow Miss Ling managed to get past all of that, and is now sitting in a position of power. If she can do it along with all the other respected women of the world, any woman can.

Whenever a man doesn’t get their way with a woman, she miraculously becomes “crazy” or a “bitch.” She is suddenly overlooked and ignored. These men stop pretending her opinion matters. Personally in my life, I know who these people are that have said these things about me. I know EXACTLY who they are, and at the end of the day, they are only hurting themselves. I’m not saying I am going to be this great big thing in the future, but one day they are going to cross a woman who will be. Women are calculative , creative, and patient. Women will come up from behind when you least expect it.

Yes I am sensitive, and yes I do take that shit personally. Because I didn’t spend fifteen years of my life studying piano, guitar, songwriting, an music in general to be overlooked. I also didn’t spend my educational career getting a degree in Digital Media and Mass Communications to be treated like an unknowing pair of boobs by some dude who is too drunk off his ego juice to realize I might have a brain.

I am fully aware that I am not the only woman who has dealt with this. Every girl gets hit on, I am not special. But before you call a girl a “bitch”, maybe consider she is like that because of years of having to protect herself from people trying to take advantage of her. I am also aware that this is a fact of life, and am by no means complaining, more so just sharing my thoughts. If anything, it makes me want to work harder. No one owes me anything, and my life is a happy one full of acceptance. I do music because I love it, and there is nothing else to it.

That being said, I am about to come out with my fourth album. Every single word I sing in all four albums was written by me. Every guitar and piano instrumental you hear was played by me. Every vocal recording was recorded by me in my own home, and sent out to engineers. I distributed this myself, because I don’t rely on anyone for shit.

I am not worried about my future or my success, because music will always be a part of me. As long as I am making music, I am successful.

I have great and few friends and family, and I am so thankful for all of you. No matter who or what this industry throws at me, I will always have you guys and my music to keep my head above water.

Love to everyone, even the people who don’t support me. - Bateau

Q&A with murkury

murkury is an Undergrowth Foundation affiliated producer whose style combines futuristic, bass-heavy sound design with chill melodies and hard-hitting drums. His minimalist yet groovy style has been entrancing audiences in the Western Carolinas for over four years. We caught up with murkury to find out how the Undergrowth Foundation came about, how he became interested in music, and much more.

Carlton Boyd

Tell me about the Undergrowth Foundation. How did this collaborative network come about? M: What a story. I can't even begin to describe the many tiny, seemingly-random life events that eventually snowballed into this idea. I mean, this time last year, I didn't even know the other founders of The Undergrowth. Fast-forward to this summer: on a whim, I followed my gut to Asheville. Almost immediately, I met this visual artist, Jakeb, by chance, and at my first show I was introduced to his friend Greg, a DJ. We all hit it off and Greg invited us to spend 4th of July at his cabin outside Asheville. That weekend, we spent hours on end listening to Greg mix vinyl, exploring the woods, drawing, and talking about music, art, and the universe. We saw great talent in each other and felt like if we combined those skills, we could do great things. Not only this, but we felt the need to unite other likeminded artists who were talented but didn't have a platform to express themselves. We felt some force beyond our comprehension leading us to the understanding that this was to be our purpose in life. It was only given a name after we were inspired by "Life In The Undergrowth", a wildly profound BBC documentary that illuminated the lives of the insect world. This undergrowth scene, we thought, was just like the underground music scene. Overlooked and underrated by mainstream society, it's actually what holds everything together. It's the place where every good musician rises up from. It just made sense to us, and the rest is history.

What's the music scene like in Asheville? M: Well, keep in mind, I've only been living in Asheville for a few months, yet every day I'm in the city, I'm working overtime to make my way deeper into the scene. I know first-hand what it's like to not have a recognizable name in Asheville...and while that's difficult in any city, it's still amazing to even be here as an artist. The people who are established are friendly and very open to discovering new talent from all genres. You just have to know where to look. There's so much opportunity for someone to make music in Asheville...way more than Boone, which is why I moved to begin with. And when you aren't getting shows, you can busk. With the right people behind you, you can even create your own scene, like we are with The Undergrowth. It's just a great place to do something different and there's inspiration on every corner. People in Asheville are very open to hearing new sounds and experimenting with new artists, which is perfect for an electronic junkie like me.

When and how did you become interested in music production? M: I think producing was just a natural progression for me as an artist. I always played instruments growing up (piano, guitar, drums) and then in college at App State, my passion for music turned into DJing. We threw parties wherever I lived and somebody had to be the DJ, so why not me? I've always loved the idea of setting the vibe and taking people on a journey through sound. At first, I didn't have any equipment of my own, so the mixing was rudimentary at best. I did this for a long time for lots of different people, eager to take the next step but without the resources to do so. To compensate, I got some production software and learned how to make edits and bootlegs so it would be easier for me to mix live. That evolved into making remixes, and eventually, after watching countless hours of tutorials, I started producing originals. Finally, I got some equipment of my own and started to branch out and find a style to call my own. Most of the material I've made will probably never see the light of day, but it's all practice. Even the tracks I released this past month. It's all just practice trying to convert the visions in my head into organized sound. Game day only happens when I play live.

Do you have a dream collaboration? M: Cashmere Cat or Tipper. I know those styles seem contradictory, but honestly, I just want to get in their studios and see how the hell they make their music because I have no idea how they do it. Here are some dudes who propel the consciousness of anyone around them to some next level ish, and that's what I want. 99% sure it'll never happen, but it's nice to think about. 

What's next for you and your music? M: Apart from a new EP and several more singles, remixes, and bootlegs, I'll be collaborating with the rest of the Undergrowth crew on our first official mixtape, to be released in 2016. It will be chocked full of drippy, trippy, undergrowthy vibes, so be on the lookout for that. I also hope to play my first music festival next year. Dreaming big got me this far, so why stop now?

Connect with murkury: Website   Facebook   Soundcloud   

Who is Live Animals?

Live Animals is a culmination of all of life's experiences, exploring new soundscapes and expanding the consciousness of sound. Between his West-coast hip hop influences and his entanglements in modern bass music, Live Animals creates a sound that transcends boundaries and blends genres, creating his own space on the map of the electronic dance music scene. With a background in percussion and music theory, Asheville native Josh Stone fuses melody and harmony to create pure sonic force. Live Animals has performed alongside Phutureprimitive, Random Rab, Cashmere Cat, Thriftworks, Space Jesus, Russ Liquid and more, performing at the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in NY, Masquerade in Atlanta GA, New Mountain Asheville Theater, Asheville Music Hall, SOL Bar, OneStop and beyond.

Recently, Live Animals released his first physical EP // ARRIVAL // which can be purchased on iTunes digitally (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/arrival-ep/id1035356659) or physically on CD Baby (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/liveanimals1).

Connect with Live Animals: Website   Facebook   Bands in Town   Soundcloud

Who is LAVIER?

LAVIER is the name for Boone, North Carolina's fresh new soul-meets-future act who's music is already becoming known for it's sultry and artful complexity. Pulling from the deepest parts of himself, LAVIER intends to create a deeply moving experience for listeners; something artistic and expressive that can be felt from the soul. Jazz guitar and keyboard playing, live looping, and top-notch production are all contributing factors to the live LAVIER performance, which has been described as an all-encompassing and provocative experience.

Connect with LAVIER: Soundcloud   Facebook   Twitter   Instagram   Bandcamp   Tumblr  YouTube

CHAI TEA // TAI CHI EP

Who is murkury?

Paying homage to the Red Planet, murkury's elemental style combines futuristic, bass-heavy sound design with chill melodies and hard-hitting drums. His minimalist yet groovy style has been entrancing audiences in the Western Carolinas for over four years. Recently, murkury has started to make waves in Asheville, NC alongside members of a new psychedelic art collective, The Undergrowth. With dozens more originals, remixes, and bootlegs in the works with some of the best underground musicians from North Carolina, keep an eye out for murkury and the rest of the Undergrowth crew as they evolve together.

Connect with murkury: Website   Soundcloud   Facebook

Urban Creek Records is What's Next

Urban Creek Records was founded in 2013 by recording artists Brandon Jones, R.E.A.L. tha Poet, and producer J-Ideas.  Seeing the cut and paste nature of major label record labels, the crew set a goal to provide alternative themes and sounds within the realm of music without having to be shoved into a box of what's fresh, what's new, what's on the radio or what's "different".  At Urban Creek, the motivation is the love of music and the creation behind it.  The music and content released by Urban Creek provides a window into each artists' mind and soul. 

Below are the biographies of the Urban Creek artists as well as their recent releases available for you to stream and download. These include R.E.A.L. tha Poet's "The Real World", J-Ideas instrumental album "My First Car Was a Caddy" and Brandon Jones's soulful "Shot of Bourbon".

R.E.A.L tha Poet

R.E.A.L Tha Poet is a true school rapper out of Paris, KY currently residing in Lexington, KY. His influences include Outkast, A Tribe Called Quest, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, Kid Cudi and The CunninLynguists. R.E.A.L uses his unique views to paint a vivid picture of everyday life.

R.E.A.L drops knowledge that others are commonly afraid to shed light on. R.E.A.L's ability to craft records with playability in numerous settings while still being very lyrical showcases his talent on the mic, songwriting ability and his ear for beats.

J-Ideas

Producer J-Ideas loves cranking out hard head knocking beats that make the trunk rattle as well as smooth soundscapes that make you lay back and relax your mental. Hailing from Pekin, Indiana, he brings a small town, blue collar sound in his production, while making it complex enough to compete with anyone in the game.  

As self taught musician, he feels he isn't constrained by the usual set of rules that others tend to feel boxed in to.  J-Ideas tries to bring a different energy into each beat he creates with a style that shows he's a student of the craft. 

Brandon Jones

Actor/Singer/Songwriter Brandon Jones was born and raised in Kentucky and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. An old soul in new shoes, Brandon blends both past and present into a beautiful mix of styles and musical textures.

Brandon is influenced by the jazz of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald,  the blues of Buddy Guy, Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan, as well as the soul of Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye. Drawing from real life experiences, Brandon's music is raw and honest, creating a gateway into his soul for listeners to explore. 

Connect with Urban Creek Records: Website   Twitter   Facebook

Q&A with King Chase

King Chase is an emcee from Prince George's County, Maryland who has released two solo mixtapes, five Coast 2 Coast mixtape feature spots, and a successful EP entitled "Young King". We recently caught up with him to see what's up with his upcoming EP "Crown", to find out his musical influences, whether he feels being signed to a major is still important in 2015, and much more.

Carlton Boyd

What's the Rap scene like in the DMV for an emerging artist such as yourself?  K: The rap scene here differs based on region. You could perform a song in DC that might not have the same crowd reaction as a Virginia show. The DMV as a whole is a diverse area, and the music reflects that. Whether it's a pure hip-hop track that takes you on a mindtrip to the old days of "boom-bap" style raps... Or a new age sound that may get you on the dance floor. There's artists of all types and backgrounds here. And for that reason, I feel we are the most slept on region for good quality music.

Is everyone supportive of each other or is more every man for themselves? K: I try to support as many up and coming artists like myself. Whether its sharing a link or sharing some knowledge that might help them take a step ahead in their career. I can't say the same for everyone else though. Sad to say, it's the classic case of the "crab in a bucket" complex. Nobody wants to show love to anyone. Too busy hating or throwing social media shade at one another.

Do you have a favorite artist? If so, how have they influenced you? K: I have a few artists that I can honestly say have influenced me. Wouldn't be fair to give all the credit to one. Nas and Jay-Z get the two top spots. Jay's work ethic is nothing short of inspiring. I can honestly say I watch his interviews more than I listen to his songs. It's almost like he gives the blueprint to success every time he speaks. And Nas, his ability to tell a story and spread a message all in the same track. That was and still is the dopest thing to me. I try to bring that same feel to my music. I want my listeners to take away something from the experience. Whether it's one person, or one thousand people. I thrive off of that energy.

Does it really make sense for an emerging artist such as yourself to sign to a major record label in 2015, especially with our sites like ours, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and other free means to promote your music? K: I can honestly say I see valid points on both sides of that argument. There has never been a better time to make a name for yourself independently than right now in this internet age. With slight knowledge of social media and networking, possibilities are endless. But having a label backing your brand has tremendous upside. Wide-spread distribution, international promotion, and the endless plugs and connections you gain under record companies almost make it worth while.

But I feel the answer to that differs based on who's being asked.. If you have the drive and work ethic.. You can make your own brand,  your way.. And for me, that sense of accomplishment is unmatched.

What is it you look for when you select the production you decide to write to and record?K: Originality. Thats the number one thing. If your average, round the way rapper would use it... Chances are I wouldn't. I'm constantly chasing new sounds, new styles, and new cadences. Different beats allow me to experiment with new ideas & challenges me to become a better artist.

Are you dropping a new release soon? If so, when? K: I have a new 8-track EP coming very soon. We're leaning towards Thanksgiving Day.

Connect with King Chase: Website   Facebook   Twitter   Instagram

Young King EP

Where's Brookelyn At?

Brooke Elizabeth Wright, more commonly known as Brookelyn, was born in Pasadena, CA. At a young age, she relocated to Simi Valley, CA where she now resides. Brookelyn realized her passion for music very early on. She bought an electric keyboard along with an electric guitar and began using internet videos to teach herself how to play. Singing has always been her first passion; she continued school while pondering what career path she wanted to take, and concluded that no career would suffice that did not involve music. She began taking vocal lessons at 14, and soon joined her church choir in San Fernando Valley.  Within weeks of joining, she connected with Antina Campbell, the manager of a girl group called Gifted Nations, who was in need of a Latin vocalist. Brookelyn was quickly placed in the group where she developed skills in performance as well as being an overall artist. Gifted Nations built relations with Track Martians' founder, EJ Jones before Track Martians was created. When the group agreed to split up, Brookelyn reached out to EJ after struggling on her own. In a short matter of time, she was the second artist to become a part of the Track Martians. While working two jobs and maintaining a 4.0 GPA, she studied the industry and her peer, Anjaleia, and released her first cover of Jill Scott's "Gettin In the Way" in December of 2014. Now that she has completed high school, she is working on original music and just released her first single "Gemini" produced by Kanchantz and written by EJ Jones.

Connect with Brookelyn: Facebook   Website   Instagram   Soundcloud

BLOG: Can She Really Make It On Her Own?

As everyone knows, the entertainment business is a strange place. Often times artists say that they have to “sell their soul” to get anywhere. Of course anyone with a brain knows they aren’t actually writing a contract with evil spirits, rather they’re stepping outside of themselves to do things they normally would never do to get closer to the top. Anyone who’s made that remark seems to have made commercial success in the industry, but how far should one actually go? Would you go as far as let’s say, marriage? Well these ladies did (some of them got really close to it) and it got them where they wanted to be, which begs the question -- can women in the music and entertainment industry really make it on their own without a dirty deal? The following female celebrities have had amazing careers, but it looks like they all got their starts by shacking up. Let’s start from way back in the Motown days with Diana Ross. 

Diana Ross is best known for being the front woman of the 1960’s girl group The Supremes who had many number one hits and paved the way for the Pop and RnB artists we know today. They are considered to be the most successful girl group ever. The Supremes were initially called the Primettes and had small successes on their own, but it wasn’t until Berry Gordy, CEO of Motown Records signed them in 1961 under the condition that they change their name to ‘The Supremes’ that they really started to take off. Under his guidance they were able to create their first hit “When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes”. Berry had decided that Diana would now be the lead singer. The group continued to gain success and just 4 years later in 1965 Diana Ross and Berry Gordy started dating. Well that’s only what the internet says; I can imagine that they were involved long before. Diana and Berry’s romance lasted a while, all the way into 1971 and they got pregnant, strangely though only two months into the pregnancy, Diana married music executive Robert Ellis Silberstein. Are we seeing a pattern here? Diana had two more children for Robert before their divorce in 1977. Diana then moved on to Gene Simmons for a couple of years… Are we seeing the pattern now? As everyone knows, Ms. Ross has continued to have a very successful and multifaceted career, ask your parents and they’ll tell you she’s a legend.

Next on our list is everyone’s favourite diva, Mariah Carey! We all know how big a star she is and have heard of her demanding diva ways, but how did it all happen? She met the right man of course. Mariah knew she wanted to be a singer at a very young age. Through high school she met a writing partner and together she compiled a four song demo tape. Once graduated, Mariah moved to Manhattan and shared a one bedroom apartment with four other girls. She worked hard as a waitress but would always get fired after two weeks on the job. She kept on trying to get her demo through to the record labels, but they just weren’t having it. Mariah somehow met pop singer Brenda K. Starr who took her to a music executive’s gala. Brenda gave Mariah’s demo tape to Tommy Mottola who was the head of Columbia records. The story goes that Tommy was so impressed with her voice that he came back to the party looking for her, but she was nowhere to be found. He searched for her for two weeks, found her and immediately signed her. Her two studio albums won her two Grammys and had her all over the billboard charts in the span of less than two years. And then of course in 1993 she and Tommy Mottola got married… Interesting, I suppose he just fell in love with her voice. But like any stepping stone, Tommy served his purpose and Mariah moved on. 

Some of these ladies figured their situation out and got the most of it while they could; however this next one is still trying to get things set up. Remember Nick Cannon’s leading lady in ‘Love Don’t Cost a Thing?’ It was Christina Milian! Before Nick Cannon shacked up with Mariah he was romantically involved with his then co-star Christina. Christina Milian has always hopped between acting and recording music with generally positive results in both, but nothing major has occurred in both arts. Supposedly her lackluster success is due to music labels not allowing her to make the music she really wants to. Perhaps in an effort to get more control over her music Christina tried to pull moves like the ladies who came before her: She dated Andre Lyon from producer Group Cool & Dre who she was working with on a new album. In 2009 she started dating producer and artist, The Dream while they were working on some songs. The two ended up marrying and having a child. The relationship didn’t work out so Christina decided to claw her way back to stardom with that reality show of hers. In 2012 Christina joined Young Money and… Yes, she also started dating Lil Wayne. The two put out a song together called “Start a Fire” last year and then the flame of their romance ran out. Ay Caramba! Who will Christina saddle up to next?

Before I wrap this up I just wanted to give a shout out to the OG of marrying her way up -- Anna Nicole Smith! Anna was a simple girl from a small town who is most known for her career as a model, discovered by Hugh Heffner. Anna married an 89 year old billionaire at the age of 26 and was living that high life. Unfortunately when her husband died the next year, she got none of his money!

I’m still not sure if a woman can just make it on her own in entertainment anymore, but when I see stars like Adele and Nicki Minaj, I like to think that it’s still possible. I’d say the moral of the story here is to at least have some talent if you’re gonna go the bride route, if not get everything in writing! - Asha Mullings

HGS presents Welcome to the H: The Movie (Short Film)

While rising rap group HGS (Madison Jay, Perp, Kaniq, and P Mania) is on their grind promoting new music one beautiful Raleigh afternoon, they encounter a record label executive (Ill McKenzie) who promises BIG MOVES for the group by working with them. Things go sour after weeks of empty promises from the label executive and they make a plan to "finesse" the executive to make amends for his wrongdoings! 

Featuring original music from their 'Welcome To The H Vol. 1 EP' (released earlier this year on Datpiff) follow HGS in their quest from hopeful underground artists to potential mainstream darlings and everything that comes with it, ALL UPS AND DOWNS!

Screenplay written by Percy Rogers

Filmed and Directed by Big Game Audio Visuals

Starring: Madison Jay · Perp Dakota · Kaniq · P Mania · Ill McKenzie · Kia · DJ El Shawty

Q&A with love+war

love+war is a Nashville, Tennessee based Electro-Pop duo comprised of writer-producer-guitarist team Coury Palermo and Ron Robinson who just released their debut EP "Hue".  The two began writing together in the fall of 2014 with no other intention but writing material for possible pitches in TV/Film.  In early 2015, the two-piece began working on a collection of covers and an EP of originals simultaneously. 

We linked up with Coury and Ron recently and asked them about their name and how they became a group, whether they're influenced by Country Music, their songwriting process and more. 

Carlton Boyd

I really like the name love+war; what does it mean and how did you guys come together to form a group? Coury: To me (the name) it symbolizes where we are as a society.  We live in a time of such immense hope and chaos - it's the collision of both mind sets.  
We began writing together last fall and realized how effortless the collaboration was.  We kind of stumbled onto "the duo thing" once the songs kept coming.  It is by far the easiest collaborative experience of my career.

Being that you guys are based in Nashville, which is largely known as the "home or center of Country Music", would you say that your music influenced by that genre at all? Coury:  I'm actually based out of East Nashville, which is a more fringe/non-traditional area of Nashville. Think "East Village" rather than "Upper Eastside" - in comparison.  I love Nashville and all of it's rich history - both country and other.  What may surprise people is the varied taste of the city.  I'm not sure I can say I'm influenced by country music, but I am influenced by the city and the people I live my life with.  It is a different pace than a New York or LA, which I appreciate.  I'm not much for the posturing that comes with being a musician, so I enjoy the freedom to be oneself that Nashville provides.

Ron: Nashville has always been known as the center of country music, but in the last decade or so it’s really held up to the name “Music City”. Everything is being recorded here now.  Artists and musicians are not going to LA or New York like they used to, they’re all coming here. 

Who are some of your musical influences? Coury: I grew up on blue-eyed soul, hip-hop and what I like to call "chick-rock".  Annie Lennox, Sade, George Michael - these were the records I cut my teeth on - the artists that made me fall in love with words and melody. They are the same artists I can still put on and get lost in.

Ron: Peter Gabriel, Tom Petty, Tears For Fears, The Cure, The Outfield, basically anything that’s 80’s pop.  That is my favorite era of music hands down. I pretty much like anything with a great track - solid hooks and melodies.

What's the songwriting process like for you guys? Coury: We usually set up some mics in the control room, grab a guitar and begin.  There's no big process.  It usually comes extremely fast. For me - I write a ton while I'm driving, so there's a plethora of ideas to pull from.

Ron: Yeah we’ll set up in the studio - both have headphones on with some effects we love - hit record and start experimenting. Sometimes the tracks (programming wise) start to take shape at that point. 
Its much more inspiring to hear an idea in the vein of a finished product “as” you’re working on it. Much more so than writing/playing “acoustically in the room” if you will.  We find that it really helps enhance the creative process.

The "Hue" EP is an incredible collection of songs to listen to with a quality set of headphones on but I am sure that seeing you guys perform these tracks live is a whole other experience. Will you guys be hitting the road to perform these songs on tour? Coury: Thank you.  Currently we are rehearsing a small set and would love to get out there and start playing.  We have a lot of new songs in the wheel house that we'd love to hash out live as well before recording the full-length album, so yes - touring is on the forefront.  

Ron: Thank you! Yes, I’m looking forward to it as well.  The process of working out the material outside of the studio is always fun.  Will it be more full sounding - like the record, or stripped back?  At this point that's still to be determined.  Either way we are super excited to get out there in front of an audience.

Connect with love+war: Website   Facebook   Bandcamp   Soundcloud

Hue by love+war

EVOLVE or Else

EVOLVE is an Indie MC based out of Donna, Texas and is the owner of Boom Bap Masterpiece Records. EVOLVE has worked with some of the illest mc's and producers in the underground Hip-Hop genre including El Da Sensei from the Artifacts, Esoteric (AOTP/CZARFACE), C-Rayz Walz, Goretex (NON PHIXION), and Mickey Factz, among many more. He has also shared the stage with Hip-Hop royalty including Public Enemy, Masta Ace, GZA, Ghostface Killah, Immortal Technique, Chino XL, Blueprint, Ikey Owens (Mars Volta), Prime Element, and many more.

'Deathmarch (Larry David)'  is EVOLVE's latest track off his new EP entitled "Death March". The track is produced by K Black of Moodie Black and it's available for you to stream/download below, along with  "ETC..." which is comprised of 21 fire tracks featuring Mickey Factz, Pawz One, Kido, Ray Rozel, and more.  

EVOLVE and Boom Bap Masterpiece Records represent that real authentic Hip-Hop where lyrical content and beats both matter. So no, Hip-Hop isn't dead; it just EVOLVED. 

Connect with EVOLVE: Facebook   Soundcloud   Bandcamp   Reverbnation   Twitter

Rook: FLEXIN on You

Rook is a young MC striving to be the first big name to come out of the 870—the area code of the long-overlooked region of Northeast Arkansas where he was raised. Now living in LA, Rook works to support a family; however, the real work comes in his home studio, where Rook records and mixes nearly every track he releases. Rook has fleshed out a steady stream of free records via Soundcloud and self-packaged hard copies of his mixtapes. "Orange is the New Black" is the title of his latest free-of-charge project, which was released to rave reviews.

Rook has been writing raps for a decade and recording them for half of that time, drawing inspiration from such greats as NWA, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Drake, 50 Cent and Kanye West. To keep up with his most recent projects, look for Rook performing with his partner-in-rhyme Smoo in venues throughout the LA area, or you can download his new single “Black Mamba” on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play. Some even say he plans to drop another tape in November.  The 23 year old has no plans of slowing down any time soon. 

Connect with Rook: Twitter   Instagram   Soundcloud   Facebook 

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