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Music Tea w/The Values

If there’s one thing that Philly is absolutely fabulous for (besides cheesesteaks and Super Bowl rings, of course), it’s that its local entertainment scene is truly like no other.

Whether you’re a performance artist slaying in the FringeArts festival, a DJ serving up deep house at one of the many, many nightclubs around or a drag queen serving the runways of the Gayborhood, all walks of entertainment thrive on the City of Brotherly Love dance floor. 

Another performance genre that is certainly soaring in Philly (although some of you kids might not know how big it truly is), is that of the “basement” genre. Or, we can think of it as a small intimate musical gathering in the basement of your Mom’s house, designed for bands with a darker, edgier sound who’re built for more intimate crowds for their talents to be seen and their voices to be heard…and that they most certainly are. 

Thanks to venues like The Barbary and “house party” hot-spots like The Waiting Room and Hubris House, the basement genre is more alive than ever before, which is why Brooklyn based duo The Values are finding no trouble fitting into it all

With their eccentric mix of pop, indie and thunderous beats, The ValuesMason Taub (vocals) and Evan Zwisler(synths & the rest of it)–have not only made a name for themselves on their native NYC local entertainment scene, but right here in Philly while creating an ever-growing fan base that follows their every move.  With Ms. Taub’s dark, defining vocals on top of Zwisler’s pulsating production, these two certainly know how to serve up the heat while keeping it all light and groovy. 

Speaking of keeping things light and groovy, Mason and Evan stopped by Philly Mixtape for a spot of music tea, where they broke mugs about their humble beginnings, recording sessions and everything else in between….including their love for The Boss. Take a sip and enjoy! 

And for much, much more tea with The Values, check this out. 

Hey, guys! Thanks for stopping by the Philly Mixtape music tea table!! First up, spill for everyone about how The Values came to light…..Mason:When I met Evan in 2014, he was already working on the first iteration of The Values with some friends of his from college. He actually invited me to their first show that was happening the next day. We started dating and eventually I joined the band, and since then we’ve gone through lots of changes, learned a lot, and seem to have found our best sound yet as a duo. Evan: Every iteration of the band before this really didn’t feel right. I feel that when it’s just the two of us we have the freedom to really make and perform the music that’s in our heads. I’ve never been more excited to write new music.

Okay, let’s break some mugs about your unique sound. I’m feeling a lot of genres with it……a little EDM, a little new wave, and perhaps a touch of goth vibes? How would you kids best describe it? M:We usually put ourselves under the umbrella of synthpop, but there are lots of influences that we each bring to the table. My vocals certainly don’t sound like a lot of synthpop bands out there, and we slip in some rock and post-punk stuff in a few of the songs with Evan’s guitar. E:Sexy synth sounds that make you want to move your booty. Mason also writes amazing lyrics that are so vivid. It’s one of the reasons I love her so much.

Which musical artists inspire you both? M:I feel like the best way to answer this is with some of the music we listen to on the road: there’s a lot of Prince and Bruce Springsteen, LCD Soundsystem and Donna Summer. I also definitely find myself inspired by female pop artists like Janelle Monae, Grimes and Robyn. E:Recently it’s been a lot of Prince, I think he’s so bad ass. I think the sound design in Maggie Robert’s hit song ‘Alaska’ is really good and I think Lorde is just killing it, ‘Green Light’ is one of our favorites. Bruce Springsteen was the person who taught me what it means to be American and his music has helped get us home when we’re driving back from a road gig after one am. Other members of our One AM Club include: Sly Stone, Holy Ghost!, LCD Soundsystem, and Slyvan Esso.

You guys have also played quite a bit in Philly. Which venues have been your favorite places to rock out at so far? M:We’ve actually played a lot of Philly house shows, which is an incredible scene. We love Tralfamadore! In terms of above-ground venues, The Barbary also treated us really well. Shoutout to their bouncer Bear, who helped keep an eye on our mini pitbull and tour pup, Honey while we played! E:We love the house party scene in South Philly. In the coming months we’re going to play Tralfamadore, The Waiting Room, and Hubris House to name a few. There’s something about playing a basement packed with thirty or so other people all shoulder to shoulder that’s just electric.

What do you both think is the one thing that you think any new artist should keep in
mind when they first hit the scene? M:Things will change, whether that’s your lineup, your musical interests, whatever, and to be ready to handle that with as much grace as possible. E:Don’t be a dick. Most people are pretty nice so in addition to that I’d say that there are a ton of amazing bands in Philly so try to do something unique that you’re passionate about. People are super accepting and supportive in Philly so if it’s your dream to perform operatic baroque pop music performed acoustically with only your voice and a ukelele, go for it!!! People would rather watch you struggle to make something amazing, unique, and personal than have you do the same thing they’ve seen 100 times.

Spill a little about your recording sessions. What’s the general mood like? What do you do if there are any disagreements? That is, if there are any….M:We try to make recording fun for us, which isn’t too tricky because we’re both kind of music nerds. Some of the first recording sessions we ever did we had a bunch of friends over hanging out in the control room. Evan and I are pretty good at keeping the vibe upbeat and respecting each other’s ideas and trying things out when we’re recording or mixing. It’s just not productive for us to be at odds when there’s so much to do. E:The mood [is] good! We both love being in the studio so it was pretty great. I gotta give major props to Oliver Ignatius and Holy Fang recording. He really helped us get great synth sounds from his amazing collection of synths. We used an Oberheim Matrix 6 for a lot of the pad sounds on ‘Mass Destruction’ and it sounds fucking sick. Oliver knew exactly where to As far as disagreements go, there was only really one time I got upset. We were starting to record our cover of ‘Dancing in the Dark’ and Mason and Oliver decided to basically to scrap our demo and go for a much moodier take on the song. I felt kind of blindsided and was totally thrown off balance. I didn’t yell or scream like a psycho, but I wasn’t thrilled to change our demo which was working, but thank god we did. Pretty quickly into working on the new version I realized that what we’d been doing was pretty bland. We really wanted to drive home the ennui and frustration the lyrics conveyed. I trusted Mason and Oliver, I think they’re far better musicians than I am, and while there was friction I think the song was galvanized into something much stronger.

One last sip……..the one album that each of you simply cannot live without would be…..
M:This is a really tough question for me! Maybe….LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver.
E:Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen. Great Album, great album artwork (love me some of that Brucey Booty)

Cover photo courtesy of Mixtape Media, LLC

Get down with their hot-to-headphones cover of “Dancing in the Dark” right here! 

 

 

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Music Tea w/Death by Piano

What happens you wistfully mix up light beats, heavy synths, pulsating production, stunning vocals and one hell of a cover of Ms. Dolly’s “Jolene?” 

You get the ultimate feel and finesse of Brooklyn based duo, Death by Piano, who are no doubt making waves all over the music scene with their dark wave sound, style and sass. 

The collaborative brainchild of the dazzlingly talented pairing of Kalen Lister and Greywolf, Death by Piano–while their name sounds ultimately dark–is a bold and beautiful production that reels you in from the very first beat drop and won’t let go until you’re completely immersed in it all. 

That music hypothesis is firmly evident in their hot-to-headphones new E.P., Countdown, which besides “Jolene,” (keep on readin’) also includes the heartbeat-mimicking title track, as well as the haunting “Caves,” in which PureGrainAudio proclaims that the latter successfully blends “dark wave, downtempo, electronic, indie and trap” and that “the duo are a must-hear.”

Luckily for all of the music fans out there (which is hopefully…everyone), you can hear and thrive in all of what Death by Piano have to offer right here.

But first get to know them around the music tea table, where they were gracious enough to stop by Philly Mixtape to spill about their beginnings, influences, and of course, how “Jolene” came into their worlds. 

……..and for much, much more on the red-hot and rising Death by Piano, go right here and here.…you’ll be glad you did. 

First up, tell everyone how Death by Piano came to be….GW: Kalen and I used to play in another band together. We often joked about starting an “electro side project”. When the band folded we decided to pursue it seriously and here we are now.

What are both of some of your musical influences? K/GW: Portishead, Massive Attack, Tricky, Policia, Phantogram, the XX, Deftones and Nine Inch Nails.

Moving on to your latest E.P, ‘Countdown,’ you have a brilliant take on Ms. Dolly Parton’s legendary song, “Jolene.” How did that all come to be?  K: In a way the song chose us. While writing vocal parts for a new track, I sang “Jolene” on top of it between takes and the rest fell into place. It’s a favorite of mine and I love how the music made me reinterpret it; I connected to the lyric in a deeper way.

Any future plans for the rest of the year you can tell everyone about? K: We’re wrapping up a music video for “Countdown” that’s been a great collaborative process with Robert Lux. We’re going to go back in the studio to work on our next EP and keep volleying our demos back and forth. A DBP writing retreat is a goal of mine. An opening slot on a national tour is a year end goal.

What words of wisdom would you both personally give to any young dude or diva out there who decided right this very second to enter this crazy music and entertainment business? K: Make music if you love making music. That may or may not mean you enter the business side of it.  GW: No matter what you do musically what matters is that you feel something. If you’re feeling it, odds are someone else will.

One last sip…….describe ‘Countdown’ in 1 word…. K: Change.

And there you have it. For more tea with Brooklyn’s very own Death by Piano, peep this…now. 

Cover photo courtesy of Mixtape Media, LLC 

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Music Tea w/ The So So Glos

After their explosive set at Union Transfer this past weekend (if you’ve ever seen them live you’d understand the energy they’ve got, packed with a punch), Philly Mixtape drank some music tea with The So So Glos, which or may not have been spiked.

Break a tea mug with So So Glos brothers Alex (singer/bassist) and Ryan (guitarist / singer), as they spill about the records that made them who they are today, and just what their new record, Kamikaze, will be all about. 

PM- How is Kamikaze going to be different from your previous record, Blowout? 

Alex- It’s going to pick up where Blowout left off. I like records where you could listen to one and you can put on the next and it sounds like a continuation. Kamikaze is like the next saga. Darker, Angrier, Sparser. It’s more direct. The highs are higher, the lows are lower. The loud is louder.

Ryan- We didn’t plan it out that way. It was a just a natural progression.

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PM – You guys had a chance to play Letterman before he signed off the late show circuit. What was that like?

Alex –I don’t really remember being up there. It was like a really quick flash. Letterman was cool because of that space. The Ed Sullivan Theater. The Beatles played there you know?

PM – Do you guys maybe see any other televised performances in the music future? 

Ryan – We don’t really think about it. Those are all just an added bonus.

PM – You guys also write a lot about this so-called current generation “z” and how they’re lost in technology. 

Alex – Oh is that what they’re calling it now? I think we’re like the last generation to grow up with a concept of tangibility. We remember a time before the Internet. Sometimes I feel super hopeful. There’s just so much more information that kids have their hands on. Without the experience though, you lose these very important skills like looking people in the eye. You go to the doctor and he won’t even look you in the eye. Sometimes I feel hopeless. The only thing we can do is talk about it. I think people need to be reminded of humanity all the time. We’re losing it in a way.

PM – Which albums influenced you as young music kids? Any favorites in the crate right now? 

Alex – The first Specials record was one of the most influential records for me. I loved it. “Do The Dog” “Concrete Jungle” “Stupid Marriage.” It was miles and miles ahead of everything that was happening. It’s a hodgepodge of styles.

Ryan – When we were kids our parents played us a lot of 70s punk stuff / new wave stuff. I was into that early on and then “Dookie” came out.

Alex – Operation Ivy “Energy.” That was a huge influence for “Blowout”s album art. Wu Tang “36 Chambers” is one of the best records of all time. Beastie Boys “Licensed To Ill.” Why don’t we throw Clash in there too. “London Calling.” It’s one of those records you can always go back to. You are never done with it. The first Violent Femmes record.

Ryan – Cyndi Lauper “She’s So Unusual” that’s definitely one of our favorite records. The Kinks “Arthur.” We grew up on a lot of Kinks.

PM – What does the word “punk” mean to you? 

Ryan – It doesn’t matter.

Alex – It really doesn’t matter. You’ll know it when you see it. It’s a conversation that’s constantly happening in the Universe. And it doesn’t mean a leather jacket. It’s more about fighting through your inner demons; standing up and facing the day; to inspire someone to do the same thing.

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PM – What’s been one of your favorite cities to play in?

Ryan – On this tour, Cleveland was cool. It’s a rock n roll town. Boston was really fun. Some cities are exciting to get to. Detroit. New Orleans…but not so much for the show. I like playing Shea stadium.

PM – Do you consider yourself in the punk scene?

Alex – No.

Ryan – There’s more bands that call themselves punk bands now than when we started. Punk is in now. It wasn’t when we started.

Alex – Labels and genres are less important than they’ve ever been. We’ve never been accepted into any scene. We’re outsider artists in a way. There’s no band around that sounds quite like us. We like hip hop. When we started artsy kids were laughing at us. Hardcore kids said we were too pop. We just started our own culture. You gotta build your own army. We’ve never been scene-sters.

For more on The So So Glos, check your music life and click here.