BY JEENA JOHNSON

Andi Young is able to play several instruments such as the piano, violin, and more. He is a classically trained violinist, who delicately threads his diverse influences into the combination of modern pop and classical music which can be heard in his releases. Andi released his single, “Time To Say Goodbye”, a few weeks ago and it has now become the #1 in the Top 50 on SoundCloud. The SoundCloud Singer/Songwriter chart is full of successful artists such as Ed Sheeran, James Bay etc, and Andi Young is no doubt a dark horse, and his songs are now available on iTunes, Amazon, Google and other online stores.

Andi Young

  1. When did you decide to take music seriously and how did you go about getting started?

Andi Young: I uploaded a song to SoundCloud, thinking it won’t get noticed, cuz you know, there are countless songs there from everybody in the world, and you normally get a few clicks and that’s it. But after a couple weeks when I checked that song, it got more than a million plays already! I was surprised at how many people around the world are listening to my music, so I decided to make more music for them.

  1. Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?

Andi Young: I started playing the violin since 4, and singing and dancing when I was about 6 or 7.

  1. Which artists are you currently listening to?

Andi Young: Singers? A lot. Tori Amos, Queen, Christina Aguilera, Etta James. Those are the names you would know because they are in the modern music world. But I actually like classic music a lot. I listen to compositions by European composers such as Fritz Seitz. You know him? Haha.

  1. Have you ever had any formal training and do you think it is a necessary requisite for artists today? 

Andi Young: Oh yeah, I was classically trained to play the violin, to dance and to sing. I learned not everything about singing from the anatomy of how we produce sound, how vocal cords work to musical expressions etc. I think they are important knowledge, and I would refer to that knowledge when I need to and that’s just a bonus. I mean, every artist needs to express freely and naturally. Even if you don’t have that knowledge you might still be able to do very well, so it’s important but not necessary.

  1. What are your thoughts on visual media? Do you see video as purely a marketing tool or as a creative extension of your music?

Andi Young: Absolutely the latter. Visual sense is too important to us. We wanna hear the music but if we can also see the music then what’s bad about it?

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  1. Which do you ultimately prefer? Entertaining a live audience or creating songs in a studio setting?

Andi Young: I like both and I am a crazy live singer haha, I love singing live so they can see how I express music as a whole and not just through my sound.

  1. Do you write all the lyrics and music to your songs, as well as arrange them, or do you collaborate with other creative writers? 

Andi Young:  I write everything on my own. But I also work with other extremely talented musicians for the instrumental arrangement just to get the deeper part of me out sometimes.

  1. What kind of a songwriter do you consider yourself to be. Someone who is inspired at the spur of the moment, or someone who ‘locks’ himself away, and works at it until the right idea comes along? 

Andi Young: All of them. I started by locking myself away haha, but after I got all those demons out, I started writing for the moment.

  1. Which ingredient do you think makes you special and unique as a performing artist in a business thriving with newcomers and wannabes?

Andi Young: My music is not commercially driven. I mean, lots of songs you hear are perfected in a business way, because labels think that kind of songs will sell because they are on the charts, so they just copy and paste. I write music for music’s sake. I don’t write to suit my audience, rather, I remain true to music, because it is an expression that I cannot ‘make’, I can only get it out and let music write itself, so it is ultimately nature’s work, not my own. And I have strong influences from classical music.

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  1. If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to be a part of this tough and sometimes cruel business? 

Andi Young: All emotions are important, but for me, I think everything is derived from sorrow. That makes me think, it makes me see things through and ultimately become happy.

  1. Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?

Andi Young: I get to do the music I love. What discourages me… when there aren’t enough outlets for my music to come through.

  1. Do you personally choose the engineers and producers for your recordings? How do you find them? And who are the most important creative people you have worked with thus far.

Andi Young: I do. Yeah I pick the ones I wanna work with. I try a few engineers and pick the one for the final recording. Yes, it is a long process for me, because I want my audience to hear the best quality. Every producer and engineer that I have worked with has made me grow. I learned from every body.

  1. What is the best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?

Andi Young: You gotta be strong enough to be yourself. Think about it, it’s too hard to be strong and be yourself, but it is the best advice an artist can follow.

  1. If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?

Andi Young: Original, classic? And special haha.

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  1. Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?

Andi Young: Internet is too important now. Every artist needs a platform and the internet provides lots of opportunities to be heard.

  1. What is the title of your upcoming debut release and where and when can fans find it?

Andi Young: I released Time To Say Goodbye, and Star and You Go Left I Go Right, and there will be a few more songs coming up.

  1. Are the songs on your EP predominantly personal and confessional or more in pursuit of the greater world that surrounds us all?

Andi Young: Personal, intimate, confessional and the exploration of the world haha all in one. That’s why we write songs right?

  1. As you work your way through your career, which more than any other fires-up your imagination – A Grammy award, Platinum music sales or some other tangible milestone? 

Andi Young: Music sales are contaminated these days, and Grammy maybe, but these are not very important to me actually. I want to be there for my audience, you know what I mean? Like if one day I hear from someone telling me a story of how any of my song helped him or her go through a difficult time, then you know what, that’ll be the pinnacle of my life, and that is why I wanna do music.

  1. What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or prepared to do EVER, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career? 

Andi Young: Nothing.

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BY JEENA JOHNSON

Bobby Craymer the musician has decided to come out of hiding. A real life story of a playing musician who decided to walk away from music 25 years ago, to pursue a real life, yet in his heart and soul he wondered “Where did the music go…” A few people found him in Los Angeles leading a very different life and slowly with the ease it takes to walk and talk and with patience, showed him a very different music business than the one he walked away from. Bobby Craymer has since dropped a series of singles on his Soundcloud profile, one of which is “She Comes To Me”. Totally outstanding and thoroughly entertaining Craymer is priceless, a true gem in the world of pop-rock. Years after his debut he is back with this new track and it certainly holds up to expectations.

bobby-craymer-350The song has words that ring out about inward struggles, enlightenment and truth. The words emote, and are compelling because they fit so well with the melody and production of sound. The harmony speaks, the singer speaks, the guitar speaks, the song seems to be reaching out… trying to communicate a bigger picture. The beauty is that the bigger picture is never quite defined, yet it’s right there, and if you’ve experienced it, then the song comes home to the heart.

Bobby Craymer has some great ideas fleshed out into strong melodic rock. On top of that, it is obvious that his music is a serious labor of love, no sloppy playing, singing, or messy recording, a completely professional effort. “She Comes To Me” is a bold re-emergence of a songwriting talent after a 25 year hiatus. There is just something different about this guy. I have to say that he is what I would call a true artist. If you know his work, you know that there is no discernable compromise in his art. Whether it is his first record or his most recent, this is a guy who seems to do what he does because he was made that way. His lyrics, arrangements and vocal harmonies all make sense according to his own true calling.

Bobby Craymer’s music is not too difficult to articulate, the purity, and the intimacy of it feels, to me, so close. There are many great artists out there, but at the end of the day, my favorites are the ones that ‘speak to me’. Listening to Craymer’s latest tracks feels like being at an intimate house concert. The words are clear and heartfelt, and the musical arrangements are just enough, while Craymer’svoice is in perfect form. As a result his songs have a sense of familiarity about it while also feeling fresh. Lots of images and feelings arise as you close your eyes and just listen to “She Comes To Me”; very powerful stuff indeed.

OFFICIAL LINKS: WEBSITE – REVERBNATION – FACEBOOK

BY JEENA JOHNSON

Valley Of Kings are a very soulful Rock band from the heartland of East Sussex, made up of frontman songwriter and producer Dar.Ra, Aiden Purdey and Rory Purdey, and recently witnessed that music still holds the power to reach people beyond words after creating music workshops in a Dementia care home in East Sussex recently.  It was surprising to see how the residents responded to hearing music and how it triggered off past memories which brought happiness and laughter to the residents.

Dar.Ra has graced the UK national charts and dance charts with two top 40’s and two number one dance records with acts signed to EMI, BMG, Festival Records (Australia) plus remixed legends like Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Tears 4 Fears, Urban Harmonix ft Rachel Brown (Faithless, Groove Armada) and many others along the way.  His first solo album Soul Hours released in 2010 made album of the week of Spain’s Heart FM as well as receiving support from BBC Radio, playing to over 1 million people on an air live show.

The Purdey brothers add soul to the unit, and they have a huge amount of musical DNA in their blood being related to the late great John Martyn OBE who had a 40 year career, and worked with some of the greats from Eric Clapton to Dave Gilmore.

Valley Of Kings

The boys got the band together after finding out they loved the same records and began playing shows in the South East. They wrote an album in 6 months, booked into Neil Costello’s (Paul Macartney/Stevie Wonder) studio and recorded the whole thing in 8 hours. The boys wanted to go back to the way records were made back in the days of the one take and release it mode.

They recorded their debut EP Midnight and found something interesting happened when Dar.Ra was doing his music workshop in a Dementia care home.

Music has a natural power to go beyond words, people with dementia hold key memories which can be triggered by certain songs which can stimulate the mind, releasing endorphins which can lift a person’s spirit, when nothing else can.

‘While playing certain songs it’s an amazing thing to see someone go from staring into space to seeing a smile break out on their face, and suddenly they want to move their body and play along to the music, it is like witnessing magic happen’.

After playing a set of tracks one of the staff put on the Midnight Live EP, the response from the residents was to play along to it, while others where tapping their feet, which was the most wonderful experience to see, after all words had failed, but music made the difference.

The music industry has taken some near death blows since the internet and the Pop Idol shows and this has changed the way people respect music and musicians, so to see music being felt by people with no agendas restores any doubt in the power of music. It goes beyond chart success and back to the reason why music is so essential to the human soul.

The Valley of Kings create a hybrid of Rock, Soul, and Reggae, mixed with a high energy that makes the Live show well worth having a look at which you can do by coming down to Printers Playhouse Eastbourne where they will be headlining on the 16th Jan with support from up and coming mod influenced band The Gallery’s from Kent who recently supported Secret Affair.

The EP Midnight Live is out in Jan 2016 on Kusha Deep Recordsor more info contact

For more info contact Andy Purdey – 01323 833989

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House Of Guilty Pleasures

BY JEENA JOHNSON

Kiarra Armani Rivera “Mani” Madness, a Brooklyn NY singer, rapper and songwriter was surrounded by music all of her life. Her dad was a rapper/producer who had the pleasure of working with many artists. At the age of 15 she moved to Columbia, SC. Shortly after, she signed to a record label and put out her first single entitled: “Wind Your Body Up” which hit the Billboard charts.

Now Mani Madness is part of the Idolize Music Group family, with her single “We all Night”,produced by Vinny Idol, D-Block super Producer, and executive produced by OvaCeas (PentHouse Boyz). It’s clear that Mani Madness has been broadening her talent in music and she hasn’t been restricting herself to the same old hiphop beats and hi hats. This shows throughout her single “We all Night”. She rhymes, she sings and she does it well. Plus her collaborations with Vinny Idol and OvaCeas, really help this track to come out top.

Mani-Madness-350It won’t take much more than one listen to get used to it. “We all Night” is good because it portrays Vinny Idol’sbroadening imagination via music creation and also shows Mani Madness to have an ability to rhyme on even the most urgent of beats. The track combines Mani Madness’ chilled sensitive style with her aggressive and authoritative style, giving the song the ability to stand tall on both street and commercial level.

Mani Madness is a work in progress, and this track is a huge step forward for her career. Her rapping is edgy, and her overall singing style is mature, making the song a rhythmic serving of upbeat rap infused with pop and R&B textures. She brings out her sexy side, her fierce side, her street side and her vulnerable side while maintaining a cool groove and explicit lyrical content. In fact the lyrics are beyond hot!

I really didn’t expect “We all Night” to be on the level it is. Mani Madness is a welcome beacon of light in a genre that has been too long dominated by the same pointless male stereotypes. She has her own flare and twist! This is a good one.

OFFICIAL LINKS: ITUNES – MANI MADNESS – TWITTER: MANI MADNESS – PENTHOUSE BOYZ – VINNY IDOL

BY JEENA JOHNSON

Katrell The Phenomenal is back with another blazing hip-hop track, entitled “Bea’s Lude II”, built upon a R&B production by Tone Jonez, who also sings the amazingly soulful hook, while the recording and engineering was handled by DoomGotBeats. This track is everything that today’s music is missing. It’s well-written, beautifully crafted and timeless. Katrell has always kept his artistic integrity in every single or album he has released in his career. “Bea’s Lude II” is an incredible master stroke of pure musical genius. Katrell The Phenomenal has infused a much needed jolt of hope into R&B and Hip-hop blended music with this stellar track.

Upcoming project

Melodically plush, “Bea’s Lude II” is so smooth that I almost slipped into a pure hypnosis listening to this incredible track. It is soulful and superior to most anything else on the radio right now. Katrell The Phenomenal has an incredible grasp on what his sound should feel like. My admiration for his music may make my opinion slightly biased towards his releases, but everyone that listens to him cannot deny the fact that he is gifted at what he does. Katrell has grown musically within his long career and the growth has made him a better artist because of it. The song is poignant and touching with a beat and rhythmic style that makes you want to listen to it over and over again.

If you can appreciate mature hip-hop with quality beats, a sophisticated sound, and inventive lyrics, then you need this “Bea’s Lude II” in your life. I sincerely appreciate this track because I love the depth and growth that this man is showing. Hip Hop should be about progression of expression. There’s more to life than running the streets, hustling in the streets, etc. Katrell The Phenomenal’slife has evolved and naturally his lyrics reflects that. Katrell truly displays why he is one of the best underground lyricists in the game; check out the lyricism, wordplay, rhymes, what and how he raps it, the wit and flawless flow). He also shows on “Bea’s Lude II” that he’s one of the best at picking producers for tracks that excellently match his flow.

Katrell The Phenomenal

If you are a fan of any Katrell The Phenomenal single or album, you will enjoy this track. It does a nice job of recreating and collaborating classic R&B with hip-hop. The production is top quality as always and Katrell does his job by showing off his charismatic flow and lyrical mastery. He once again shows that he can create classic songs that anyone would like.

About: Katrell Antonio Platt aka Katrell The Phenomenal, the eldest son of a member of the NC A&T University Alumni / Marching Band and band director, was born in Mount Vernon, New York but as an infant was relocated to, and raised in Mullins, South Carolina. Surrounded by family and music, this is where his concrete work ethic was instilled and the “adapt to overcome” foundation began, as well as some of his darkest times of life. Raised in a single parent home and pretty tight knit community, Katrell gives the biggest credit to the greater ancestors of his family, that he had the honor to encounter.

BY JEENA JOHNSON

Tommy Shafer is a 16 year old singer-songwriter from New Jersey who has been singing ever since he was inspired by Justin Bieber when he watched his 2011 Documentary “Never Say Never.” Tommy never got serious until March of 2012 when he picked up his dad’s Martin guitar and learned a few Justin Bieber songs. A few months later he bought his own Epiphone Hummingbird Acoustic guitar and soon enough he started posting YouTube videos and got a few hits. But Tommy didn’t stop there.

tommy-shafer-bt-350Tommy was writing songs and felt he needed to put them into some sort of collective effort. So he set his thoughts on putting together a 5-track EP. The problem was that neither he, nor his family, had the money to throw around into recording expenses, plus Tommy had no record label to invest in his music either. This resulted in him having to find a job to get the necessary funds, and then locating a studio to suit his budget- which is exactly what he did!

Luckily Tommy and his dad were able to handle all the production work by themselves – playing guitars, drums, keyboards and other acoustic instruments. Matthew Maroulakos took care of the engineering work. The result is Tommy Shafer’s debut EP “Breakthrough”.

What this is: a young musician’s first EP and a taste of his songwriting and vocal abilities. What this isn’t: the most complex, technical, perfected album. But it’s a very enjoyable body of work and achieves what it sets out to be- a showcase for Tommy Shafer’s raw talents. The music will make you think of the usual teenage star comparisons – while also making you wonder, hey this guy sounds a little different from those other artists. Tommy is not only a good singer and performer, but he is a great writer and a real musician – a key to being a success in the ‘real’ musical world.

tommy-shafer-bt-coverWhen you’re listening to his music you can’t help but appreciate his voice, because it is riveting and it gets to your core. The tracks here show many examples of Tommy’s fine all-round abilities, but he’s still in the fixing stages, so we will have to hang on a while before he engages the avenue he will eventually follow. While there are some songs I like more than others, there is not one song that I dislike. The strong ones definitely include “In My Eyes”, “I Am Right Here” and “One and Only Girl”. These songs have class and depth, with just a touch of that naïve honesty rarely found in older musicians, yet at the same time he delivers heartfelt performances with a maturity that belies his years.

The music and lyrics mesh well, while Tommy kept his inspirations flowing throughout the EP. His supple voice is light and sweet, but has a depth that indicates that he is growing up. The lyrics are well-written and every part of each song goes together. There are certainly nods to artists that have influenced him but this is no copy-cat EP, as Tommy goes all-out to demonstrate the quality of his music. He performs catchy songs completely devoid of “pimpin’” and “ho’s”. And that’s a tall order in the current music scene. Tommy is working hard to get where he wants to be, and his music is certainly meant for everyone.

Tommy Shafer has the musical abilities that you rarely see in an artist of his age. He feels the songs he sings and makes you feel them too. Personally I think he could go very far and I look forward to watching how he develops and manipulates his career from here on out!

OFFICIAL LINKS: WEBSITE – YOUTUBE – FACEBOOK – TWITTER – INSTAGRAM – ITUNES

BY JEENA JOHNSON

Randy Ichinose is a 22 year-old Italian musician. He released his first shoegaze E.P. “All Pilots at the Ready” in 2013 and in February 2016 he released his first L.P. “C’Est la Vie”. Randy is from a region of Italy where both Italian and French are official languages so his song are written in both these languages. Randy is a strict vegan and vegan activist since 2012, Randy sings and plays all of the instruments in his songs.

“C’Est la Vie”, contains a rich mixture of styles and emotions, varying from quieter, reflective numbers (such as 055 (feat. Chris Holoyda) and C’Est La Dose Qui Fait Le Poison) to mid-tempo power pop (Jusqu’à ce que Chaque Cage Soit ) to full on rock (Jason GideonIl Cuore (feat. Milouze Gondek) and Esto Gaza). The one constant is that the songwriting and performances are consistently excellent.  There are some rock anthems on here that just blow the doors off of anything that came out since the era of post grunge sound-alike bands.

The album artwork

The songs flow and the structures are cohesive, but you won’t find any pretentiousness in this – just some of the most gorgeous, emotional, dynamics-laden and rocking music ever made. This album sweeps you away with its grand rhythmic crescendos and Randy Ichinosepowerful, echoed and emotive vocals. The best part of this album though, is the songwriting, which is the most difficult thing to appreciate in popular music. No tricks, no slick studio stuff, just good music.

An amazing use of guitar textures and sonic landscaping makes “C’Est la Vie” one of the most interesting rock albums of the year so far. It takes a couple of listens to appreciate all the songs, but some will stand out during the first listen. There are killer riffs and lots of electric guitar mastery, but no masturbatory solos, as Randy does not spend any time being arty, pretentious and showing off. Sudden musical shifts from meandering melodic to flat-out rocking, vivid synthetic properties, soaring choruses, and an overall love for crafting multi-layered guitar music are put on display here.

Few bands can write something as convincingly crossover, vintage, grunge, emo and shoegaze as this, on one album. Randy Ichinose’s voice is so expressive and versatile, alternately tough and tender. He can go from sweetly sensitive to bitterly venomous in two seconds flat. Generally, the guitars churn relentlessly like machinery, but they sometimes flutter around like strange butterflies, once in a while jangling, and occasionally screaming in overload. “C’Est la Vie”represents Randy Ichinose’s pinnacle (thus far), especially in terms of achieving his rocking atmospheric sound as well as writing some of his best songs.

 

OFFICIAL LINKS: BLOG – BANDCAMP – YOUTUBE