The Moments that made TBD Fest


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My good friend Jerel and partner in crime for TBD Fest just put up his all encompassing TBD wrap up blog, which you can check out here. In it he covered all the broad strokes of the festival experience, highlighting all the different bands we saw, food we ate and artistic installations we witnessed. So in interest of not covering the same ground I bring to you a more microscopic look at TDB through the lens of my favorite individual moments of TBD. Each festival is a collection of miniature moments forged by the fires of the collective consciousness and frenetic energy that is unique to each individual event. This is a celebration of those moments which helped to make the second annual TBD Fest the powerhouse of artistic expression it ended up being.

I’ll start with the first and altogether funniest moment I experienced at TBD. During Joywave’s entire set they had kept the crowd entertained, not only with their killer and perfectly sequenced set but also with the jokes and witty charisma of lead man Daniel Armbruster. However, nothing that came before it was quite as funny as when Armbruster began the chants of “one more song,” essentially calling for his own encore. Armbruster feigned surprise at such an outpouring of support and proclaimed that this had to be the very first encore in TBD Fest history. Having got his laughs and the “encore” he wanted, Armbruster and his fellow band mates kicked off the last song and tore down the house in magnificent style.

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The next moment comes to you in the form of a song, more specifically a cover song. Even more specifically Tears for Fears cover of 1992 Radiohead mega-hit “Creep”. Now this moment really resonated with me for two reasons, even outside of how brilliantly it was performed. First and foremost, as any good rock historian will tell you, there is no way in hell you will hear “creep” performed by it’s original makers. With all the vitriolic hate Radiohead have for for the song it might even be best experienced as a cover. Despite all of the negative vibes surrounding this song it still holds a special place in my musical history and I’m glad to have seen it live in one capacity or another. Secondly and perhaps more deeply, I could not help but feel a sense of a changing of the guard occurring. No Tears for Fears are still clearly a cultural powerhouse being able to headline festivals in 2015 and Radiohead aren’t exactly the new kids on the block anymore but to me this cover signaled a nod of respectful appreciation from the 80s to the 90s. A retroactive vote of confidence and plea of appreciation for carrying the tradition of odd outsider music for the next generation. Perhaps that’s me just being sentimental though.

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This next chewy morsel of festival good will has less to do with a particular artist and more to do with the festival goers themselves. Allow me to set the stage. The Black Lips had been putting on quite the show for their whole set, talking in weird voices, shouting out to their potentially imaginary friend Luna, and generally being quality showmen. A bit of a light mosh pit had been forming and had slowly been gaining speed as the set went on. This caught the eye of someone who I assume was The Black Lips roadie, as he was up on stage with them at one point. This man, who was a larger individual, came down off the stage to provide a buffer between the rowdy moshers and the people near the front of the stage who had no interest in moshing. As The Black Lips counted off their last song Jerel and I jumped into the pit, correctly predicting it would be the final mosh of the festival. As we aggressively pranced about I noticed a particularly wild mosher continually slamming around and getting pushed back by the resident “larger man” mosh boss. As the song continued on they began exchanging heated words and I immediately smelled a fight brewing. The tension did not subside but managed not to boil over for the remainder of the fight. As The Black Lips said their goodbye and the crowd began to disperse, before I even knew what was happening both men were in an lovingly respectful embrace! I could not quite hear what they were saying but I imagine it was along the lines of “thanks for keeping me in line man, I really respect that,” “I respect you too man, take care of yourself and have a good festival.” Now that might be a little far off but the crux of why I liked this moment so much was the way in which festivals can bring out each person’s camaraderie and I certainty felt that camaraderie at TBD.

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Lastly but not leastly we come to none other than Chicago native Chance the Rapper. My personal favorite performer of the entire weekend. This moment ends up being a bit more aqueous than the previous moments but it started as soon as Chance kicked off his set. Bringing an energy and closeness to the audience unmatched throughout the whole festival, Chance immediately had us on his side. Even though I was not familiar with every Chance the Rapper cut, I would sing along every time that I could halfway catch on to the choruses.  The crowd seemed to be giving all the energy they had and Chance was dishing it right back at us in a monumental showing of skill and passion. Suddenly the mood slowed down as Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment began to chill down and vibe. Chance then proclaimed he was gonna play a song we never heard before but one we all knew the words to. I immediately assumed it would be an old school rap/R&B throwback, one of which I was hoping I would in fact know the words to so that I would not let my new found hero Chance the Rapper down.  However, I could not have been more wrong as Chance began to sing “And I said hey.” Now I will give you a second to ponder what that line might be from…but I myself immediately recognized it as being the Arthur theme song. For those that are not in the know Arthur was a PBS kids show in the 90s era and it had arguably one of, if not the best theme songs of the decade. Along with being a killer tune, the Arthur theme song has a wonderful message of learning to work and play and get along with each other. At this point I am ecstatic along with the rest of the crowd as Chance the Rapper, Donnie Trumpet, and The Social Experiment throw down a deconstructed and all around awesome rendition of one of my favorite childhood memories. Needless to continue to say, that was my favorite moment of TBD Fest.

Beautiful Noise, Exquisite Tastes, and Creative Minds: The Complete TBD Fest 2015 Experience


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This past weekend TBD Fest has left a mark of music, art, design, food, and ideas in the city of Sacramento. The festival drew in thousands of diverse people, locals and visitors alike, to experience the unique Sacramento festival that is TBD.

To start off, this weekend was incredible. Everything from the acts to the food was something to look back on. The lineup fit the flow of the weekend; starting Friday off with bang, reaching a pinnacle of epicness on Saturday, and concluding with a sure sense of satisfaction on Sunday       (sorry for the tongue twister).

 

Festival Grounds

A vital part of any festival is to get a feel of where you will be for the next few days. The first thing to do is find a schedule and a map. They weren’t readily available, but the customer service tent had no problem handing out printed schedules (nothing too fancy, just a print out). Since there was no map, the only option was to explore the grounds.

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Having fun with the displays!

The grounds weren’t too vast and the layout was simple: a main stage on opposing sides with smaller stages near them. In between there was the “Rise + Create” space. A vendor village, complete with local vendors selling food, drinks, art, and clothing. All the food and drink being carefully crafted, the clothes being hand-made or hand-pressed, and beautiful pieces of art being created. This section of the festival truly shows the creative and tasteful minds of Sacramento. Near and around the “Rise + Create” space there were some awesome displays. Changing pillars of light, painted pyramids, murals, and the great display by PORTAL SAC. the perimeters of the grounds had the bars and food trucks. The festival even had it’s own giant ferris wheel (which all the proceeds from went to helping those recently affected by the California wildfires). There was a lot to see and do at TBD Fest besides watch the musical acts.

 

Demolicious Derby

If none of the musical acts were catching your attention or it was just too hot for you to be standing outside, then the “Demolicious Derby” was the place to go! It took place under a shaded tent with a nice patch of grass (I’m assuming so none of the dirt or dust flies into your food). It’s a cook off between two Sacramento chefs of the fine dining scene. They both have to use a certain ingredient. They also have to cook and serve out of a food truck. The food was completely free and completely delicious.

While waiting for the food, festival goers could watch the cooking from a live video feed screened on a large screen outside. The visuals and smells would make the audience even more hungry. Some moves such as adding the spice would make the audience “ooo” and “ahh.” A comedic MC would be hosting the event so it’s not just two dudes cooking food. Attendees would have to partake in both dishes and place their used forks in their respective choices. Both competitors were always good and humble chefs.

A little example of a cook off: both chefs had to use lamb. One made street tacos, but instead of a tortilla, he a used flattened and fried pork bun. The other made a greek style lamb poutine. Drooling yet? We were.

 

The Music

As mentioned  earlier, each day had a lineup that made a great flow for the weekend. Little disclaimer: I’m not really a big fan of EDM, so I didn’t catch much of the DJ sets.  

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Toro Y Moi

Friday was explosive. The first artist was the band, Cathedrals. With their chill, new wave sound, and heavy bass, Cathedrals gave the crowd something great to vibe to. Then I was able to catch Towkio, Chicago based rapper associated with Save Money and Vic Mensa. Even though the crowd didn’t know the words, Towkio and his DJ were able to pump up the crowd. Head back to the main stage and you would be able to catch the dreamy set of Toro Y Moi. This was one of the artists I was looking forward to watching the most, and they did not disappoint. Playing a good blend of the newest album, What

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Tyler, The Creator

for?, and their older stuff, the set was great. Ty Dolla $ign got the entire crowd dancing or jumping to his songs. The best part of his set was when he pulled out a bass and started groovin out (I didn’t know he could even play instruments). He was even able to stage dive into the crowd during the end of his set. The only EDM set I caught on Friday was some of was RL Grime’s. Playing a heavy trap set for the festival, he had everyone moving. The craziest crowd goes to the set of Sacramento native, Death Grips. The experimental industrial noise rap group made the biggest mosh pit of the weekend, bringing the first big dust cloud into the air. Being in the mosh, I breathed in a little too much dirt. The night ended with Tyler the Creator bringing  energy to the stage. Although he couldn’t bring the visuals he wanted, the set was still crazy. The crowd moshed, jumped, and sang along to the words. It wouldn’t be a Tyler the Creator set without his comedic side comments. The day really set the mood for the rest of the weekend.

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Chance the Rapper

Saturday was big. With the longest day of TBD Fest, there was a lot to do. Although the day was spent mostly walking around the grounds, eating, and hanging out, all the musical acts were great. Dark pop duo, ASTR, started the day off for me. They gave an electrifying performance with some heavy bass hits, melodic scales and licks, and some crazy dance moves. I even had the pleasure of interviewing them backstage (interview coming soon, really cool people). Joywave, an electronic indie band, drew one of the larger crowds for the small stages. Before playing, they took time to perfect their sound and it was worth it. The crowd was very responsive with each song and it was awesome to be apart of. Ratatat was one of my favorites for the weekend. The electric guitar duo had holograms and lasers, putting on one of the best visuals for the weekend. Porter Robinson had some nice visuals as well. Although I couldn’t really vibe to the music, he still put on a good show equipped with anime graphics and massive confetti shots. The crowd loved it. I was able to catch the tail end of Magic Man’s set on the opposing small stage. Although there weren’t that many people watching the set, they still gave it their all and ended with their hit, Paris. Chance the Rapper was the main act I was looking forward to for the whole weekend. The set was amazing. He came with his full band, Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment, which made for a much fuller sound. The visuals weren’t top notch, but it didn’t matter because the music and energy put out from the performance was, to me, the best for this weekend. Sing alongs, jumping around, crowd participation, amazing trumpet solos, it had it all. Even though he admit to go out of order of their intended set due to excitement (Chance would become a father two days later) they still made it the best. Saturday had something big for fans of all different music genres.

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Tears For Fears

Sunday was a great way for the weekend to wind down. Up and coming rap/r&b artist (who recently made a song with Kanye West) Post Malone put on a good five song set to start off our day. Although he has blown up due to the success of his hit song, White Iverson, Post Malone still kept it humble, and kept it entertaining. He even performed White Iverson again for his closer, having the crowd sing the entire last verse to closer. After, we were walking and on the nearby small stage, this band O began to play. They were able to keep us and the others for their whole set. They’re an indie band from San Francisco, do check them out. I was sad to have missed Dr. Dog and A Place to Bury Strangers due to attending a Demolicious Derby, but I heard the sets were amazing. Right when we got to A Place to Bury Strangers, the lead singer had just smashed his guitar to end his set. Sad to have missed that, but it was on to the 90’s alt rock band, Dinosaur Jr.! Although they are getting old, they can still play flawlessly. With great

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Madeon

tunes and heart reaching solos, Dinosaur Jr. had a high-caliber set. After, Black Lips took the smaller stage. This goofy garage rock outfit from Georgia had a really fun set. After some jokes and moshing ensued, it was time for the OG (an older act, usually more famous in the 80’s)  headliner (every festival has to have one amiright?), Tears for Fears! Watching their set was like jumping back into the past, a time where most of the people attending TBD were either not alive or too young to go to a concert. Of course, the crowd sang along to classic hits such as Everybody Wants to Rule the World and their closer, Shout. They even surprised the audience with a slower yet full version of Creep by Radiohead. Madeon electrified the crowd as the last EDM performance of the weekend. I had to jump around a few times for that performance. I wasn’t able to stay, but I heard and read that crowd favorite Chromeo properly wrapped up TBD Fest with their funky tunes.

 

Closing Remarks

2015-09-22 04.01.12Overall, TBD Fest is a must-go for anyone in Sacramento, the surrounding Northern California area, or anyone in the world that wants to have a good time. Although not as big as famous festivals such as Cochella, TBD Fest is able to provide some of the top acts in music today in a comfortable yet enthralling environment. Everyone from the acts to the volunteers to the workers to the security to everyone else helped make this weekend what it was. It wasn’t just  about the music, but about the local artistic minds and tastemakers coming together to bring entertainment to Sacramento. It’s exactly what this city needs, a positive driving force in today’s creative culture.

 

 

Check out our mini Instagram Vlogs of the Festival!

If you liked this article, be sure to tune into KSSU.com on Wednesdays from 6:00pm-7:00pm for the 30/30! 30 minutes of music followed by 30 minutes of talk with me, Jerel Labson! 

Also be sure to follow my personal blog, jmbldup.wordpress.com!  

 

Mappquest Interviews Autumn Sky


Autumn Sky performing at TBD Fest.  Photos taken by Josue Alvarez Mapp (a.k.a. DJ Mappquest)

Autumn Sky performing at TBD Fest. Photos taken by Josue Alvarez Mapp (a.k.a. DJ Mappquest)

This October, Sacramento was blessed with the biggest (and arguably best) festival it has ever seen on October 3rd, 4th, and 5th.  On Tuesday, September 30th, (DJ) Mappquest had the opportunity to interview a Sacramento local star and performer at TBD Fest, Autumn Sky.  The audio for the interview is linked below to listen to while reading the interview.

MAPPQUEST (MAPP): Alright ladies and gentlemen, you are tuned in to KSSU.com, Sac State student run radio. My name is DJ MappQuest and we are having a special day today. That last song you just heard was Bells by Ms. Autumn Sky off of the Scout EP. It’s an exciting week here in Sacramento as we get ready for TBD Fest this weekend. Hopefully everybody already has your tickets, or at least you day pass for this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And joining me on air here on KSSU is Autumn Sky herself, good morning.

AUTUMN SKY (SKY): Good morning.

MAPP: How are you doing so far?

SKY: I’m really good; I’m in my pajamas.

MAPP: I know, it’s phenomenal! I wish I could do that. But it’s alright. I mean, I know here on campus I’ve seen so many people who walk by and are in their pajamas. I’m slightly jealous.

SKY: I kind of respect that, I can’t leave the house in pajamas. But when people walk by I’m like you know what, one of us is right and it’s not me.

MAPP: So for those who don’t know, Autumn Sky will be kicking off TBD Fest altogether. I didn’t even look at the schedule that thoroughly until just a moment ago. You’re starting off the entire weekend.

SKY: Yeah, yeah we are.

MAPP: So are you excited for that?

SKY: Yeah, we’re all really super excited. It’s going to be 7 people together on stage, lots and lots. We’re also working with an installation artist. It’s just going to be really cool. We’ve been practicing and preparing for like a month and a half now. I think we’re just anxious at this point, we just want to play.

MAPP: I totally understand. Is there any added pressure compared to other shows because of the fact that you guys are kicking off the first ever TBD Fest?

SKY: No. I think it’s more of that it’s a really cool honor. I think we’re more excited. I like to get into a positive headspace before we play. So I’m always just like I’m not nervous, I’m anticipatory. I just want it to happen, like a birthday party.

M: Exactly. What other festivals have you guys performed in?

S: we actually played at Bottle Rock in Napa this year, we opened for Hearts. And we played in their VIP lounge so we actually played twice at that festival, it’s pretty funny. Somebody ended up dropping off one of the shows and they were like “well you’re already here so you might as well play that one too.” We played four shows that day actually, one of them was three hours long.

M: Wow that’s impressive.

S: There was a point at the end of the night where we took a break in between this really long – so we played the Radiohead tribute show, did you know that was happening in Sacramento this year? (MAPP: I knew it was happening but I didn’t get a chance to go out) Well go next year! But we played this last year and it was the night before. It didn’t end until 3am so we loaded in our cars and we got to Napa around 4:30 in the morning. And we slept for about 2 hours and then we got up and had to be at Bottle Rock by like 7:30 for a call time. And we had 2 shows after that and a restaurant gig later on that night that was like 3.5 hours or something. We breaked and my whole band were like sitting along the sidewalk and they were all, like, crying out of exhaustion. They were, like, falling asleep on stage. My drummer almost fell back into the big bay window we were playing in front of. Like, off his drumset. It was teambuilding for sure.

M: Teambuilding and teambonding.

S: Yeah, oh my god. Like when you go through something horrible with your friends and you’re like “now we’re real friends because we know we don’t break under pressure.” That was exactly that.

M: So we just played Bells off of the Scout EP. Do you have a favorite song off the EP at all? Is Bells your favorite?

S: Um, you know what I really like Bells. I think it’s there- the three songs that we did put in there we picked for very particular reasons. There’s one called My Worst Enemy, which is really poppy, melodic and it’s got really good strong structure. It feels like a regular pop song. Bells is the showcase for singing, I guess for me. But I actually like Young for the Night a little bit better, just because it’s darker, more moody and atmospheric. It’s much more of a rock song than what people typically expect from me. So I just like it because I can turn it on and then everyone is really confused/surprised. I feel very gleeful, it’s nice.

M: So then I’m assuming that when you were getting ready to put out Scout there were multiple songs for you to pick from so these were the three that you picked?

S: Yeah, absolutely. Scout is really the EP though. It’s just three close-up looks at songs that are going to be on the album. Just early. I just wanted to have some kind of music to give people. It’s been a long time since I’ve had an album. Especially with newer stuff that I’ve written I’ve really hit a good stride in these last 3 years. I wrote some of what I feel is my strongest material. I just had to have music. I’m really very impatient.

M: How do you feel the reception of the EP has been so far?

S: Oh it’s been awesome! I was extremely afraid. I think that if you wait that long you’re just full of fear. You’re like what if I waited this long and it doesn’t go well. What if all my opinions are completely wrong? What if I’m totally wrong? But I don’t think we were. I think we put a lot of love into everything and it has had a really good reception so far. And I think it gives people a more accurate understanding of who I am as a musician and what that means. And where we fit in the world of music.

M: And so are all or any of these songs expected to be on the upcoming album?

S: Yeah, all three of them.

M: And when is the album actually expected to be done?

S: It’ll be this next year, as soon as this festival wraps up actually. It’ll be our last show of the year. We are recording with Pat Hills up in Rocklin. We’ll pretty much be doing that. Focusing on getting that finished, touched up, pretty. Possibly by spring of next year I think is when we’re going to release that and go on tour.

M: So absolutely no shows between now and then?

S: Maybe next year once or twice but definitely not this year. That’s definitely my tag line, seriously though. It is literally your last chance.

M: So you mentioned a tour. Is there going to be an album release party?

S: Oh yeah definitely, even if it’s just myself. The issue with having a band when you are an adult is that everyone in your band is an adult too. We all have fulltime jobs and we have to work everyone’s schedule around. What usually ends up working better is we end up doing a three piece version of the big band. That’s probably what we did with touring just because it’s simpler. We don’t have to – I mean getting 7 people to take 2 weeks off in a row would be almost impossible. Unless, Gods of the Universe, somebody decides we were awesome and they gave us all the money in the world and were like “Do whatever you want, play anywhere.” Then it’s probably a different story. But when you do it on your own and you’re indie like us and you really are a self-run band you’ve got to make it work however you can.

M: So is the tour going to be more of local/regional or are you looking more of a greater tour, like the west coast or something?

S: I’m actually looking to do a west coast thing. We’ve been doing regional touring forever and ever. Lots of stuff in the bay area these last two years actually, kind of on purpose. We played a set with Bottom of the Hill and we were shocked. We were super shocked and surprised. I think we suffer from this weird thing where everyone went to high school with us here and so they see us playing and they’re like “oh well we went to school with those guys.” And they don’t really see it as a “this is an official band.” It’s more like “this is my friend’s band and they do pretty well in town.” We went to San Francisco and nothing is more heartwarming and inspiring. I don’t know it just made us all feel so much better about ourselves. People freaked out and it was so nice. We were like, really? Oh. Maybe it’s just that we shouldn’t be in Sacramento. Forever. I mean we’ll definitely come back, we love it. But we miss people freaking out. We’d like that to happen more.

M: So going back to the album, is there any collaborations you could disclose at this point? Any bands you’re working with, any artists that you’re working with on the album?

S: We’re working pretty much solely with ourselves. Other than perhaps the inclusion of – we’ve been working unofficially with Joe Kye from Joseph and the Well for a while. Love him, he’s awesome. But it really is a band gig now. A band show. Everybody is really super talented and I picked them and eventually I decided that I like them a lot because everybody has a great sensibility, they have great taste in music, and more importantly they have musical taste and musical style that already complement what I’m already doing. I don’t feel that it’s necessary to play with anyone else because I have so much faith in my guys.

M: Alright, understandable. Respectable. So I looked and from what I’ve read and what I understand you are a huge supporter and fan of the Sacramento music scene.

S: Yeah. Well for a long time I used to live in Carmichael, when I was still young. I started playing at 15 years old so it’s going to be 11 years this October of me playing music. For ever and ever and ever everyone I talked to was all “you can’t move downtown and you can’t move midtown because it’s so expensive.” The it’s so expensive sign always floated in front of my eyes every time I looked at the beautiful houses and I looked at the people. My heart wanted to be here so much and one day I finally just decided to freaking do it, just try to make it work. And if it didn’t work I could say I tried. So I went down here and, not only is it extremely easy to find something cheap, if you are the cheapest of poorest musicians like I was you can find something for really not a lot. You just have to have a good network of people. More importantly I would start going to the open mic scene. I mean, I would go literally every single week. It was less for the chance to play my songs as it was to meet the musicians in the area. I don’t know when you play in the suburbs there’s this weird disconnect. You’re in Sacramento and you’ve been playing music for years. But you go downtown and you know literally nobody. Everybody’s like “I know you exist but I’ve literally never seen you.” It was so revolutionary to be able to meet these people that I admired.

M: So what’s your opinion/take on the Sacramento music scene as a whole?

S: The Sacramento music scene is probably in the best place it’s ever been right now and that probably because of the attitude people are giving it. For the longest time we allowed people to talk badly about it. We allowed people to talk down about it. And we kind of accepted out fate when people were like “ugh, Sacramento that’s nothing. There’s no music scene.” Instead of speaking up for ourselves and standing up for ourselves we agreed. And that’s kind of the worst thing we did to ourselves and it took us years to bounce back. We don’t agree anymore because it’s not true. It’s absolutely not true. If you want to have tons and tons of kids at your shows it’s a possibility and it is super fun. And it’s something that happens very often. And if people are still on the outskirts, like I used to be, and they think Sacramento sucks it’s probably because they haven’t been here in a long time.

M: I wholeheartedly agree. I mean, a lot of my friends say “aw, man Sacramento’s so boring. Sacramento this.” And I’m like (S: Just look at them and, like, you never leave your home.) I’m actually from Stockton and I moved up here last year and I’m probably not going to look back because I love the scene down here.

S: you know what I’ve played in Stockton and I didn’t understand how great and how well our scene worked until I went there. Their scene struggles to exist period. I played at Plea for Peace, I love that place. IT’s so scary in a punk rock way. But there’s hardly a scene there and the punk scene is the only thing that holds it together. And I went and played there and I felt so much better. We have venues, we have all ages venues. We have bands that regularly pull over 200 people at every show. That is something that would never happen in Stockton, unfortunately. People have believed badly about their scene for so long that it becomes truth. The difference between us and Stockton is that we refuse to believe that that’s our fate.

M: So with the state of music as it is now in Sacramento, what is your opinion on what can be improved on in the scene for artists in the area and for music as a whole here?

S: I’d really like people to be more connected. I think we’ve got a really good thing in TBD and the Launch team from last year and putting that on this year. It’s so, I mean its life changing for a lot of people here. It opens so many doors for so many bands. I’d just like to see maybe a better community, better communication between bands and maybe something like, even if it’s just as little as having everybody know that this is the music block you go to to read about Sacramento music. And P.S. we need more music blogs, people who blog. It’s something unifying and tying together. Like, San Francisco has more music blogs than you can shake a freaking stick at. Everybody writes about music there. There’s not a lot of coverage so I think people feel pretty disconnected. I don’t think anybody would know that successful shows are happening right now. Just because there’s nobody who – it’s just like if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, that’s kind of like our music scene. Somebody’s got to write about it. Somebody’s got to say some hint about it and encourage people to come out. That’s my biggest thing is we need more music blogs.

Autumn Sky performing at TBD Fest.  Photos taken by  Josue Alvarez Mapp (a.k.a. DJ Mappquest).

Autumn Sky performing at TBD Fest. Photos taken by Josue Alvarez Mapp (a.k.a. DJ Mappquest).

M: For sure and that’s something we’ve been doing something here at KSSU. We’re actually one of the few places that supports and plays local music.

S: See? That’s so cool. And it’s not even that difficult of a thing to do. I don’t know, vie had some interesting takes. If I go play particular songs that over written, if it’s too indie –and I don’t even know what that means, I guess if it’s a happy song sung by a girl its fine but if it’s an angry song sung by a girl then its indie. And even if it’s a better song, which PS it was a better song, they won’t play it because it’s too far out of the range of what people are comfortable hearing. But I refuse to be Ariana Grande. It’s just, she does a great job. She can totally be Ariana Grande. I have lots of feelings and I’m definitely not going to stop at happy and love. I definitely want to keep pushing that envelope and I guess make angry girls a little more accessible.

M: So in looking at your Facebook and some of your tweets you post sometimes pictures and things of that sort because that’s your inspiration for music. Kind of elaborate on how you write music and poetry, because I know you write poetry as well, where do you find your inspiration? What’s your process like?

S: Yay, that’s such a cool question! I’ve been posting very occasional images, really strong images that speak to me. This year in particular I noticed a recurring trend. And it was that I was being attracted to similar images of similar color schemes with kind of the same ebbing theme behind them. And instead of being like “oh well isn’t it funny that I like these things” I purposely started collecting them. I’m like a massive hoarder of really beautiful graphic images. And to me that is part of a wider view of what it means to be an artist. And I think people don’t understand that it’s an amazingly fun thing to be a creative person because your inspiration can come out of anything and anywhere. And as an artist it’s your responsibility make your soul happy, to feed yourself inspiring things, to chase after inspiring things, to read inspiring books, to challenge your worldview and to be super open minded. Because those things are going to make you think and when you think really hard about something that’s been on your mind or been on your heart or something that you’re really distressed about or that you care about very deeply, those are the things that start that spark in you where you’re like I have something to say. And it’s really all about having something to say. At the end of the day I don’t think and unopinionated person would be writing very good songs because you have to have these stark contrasts, highs and lows, blacks and whites. And that’s definitely why vie been posting those pictures. It’s a closer look at the process vie been going through personally this year, and it directly affects and inspires songs that are going to be on the album.

M: I also noticed that on Facebook and twitter you pose a lot of questions to your fans and followers. Any reason behind it? Is that how you feel that you use social media?

S: Yeah. Honestly it’s because I feel there’s a really big disconnect between people who, this past year we hit over 15,000 people, which is crazy and weird and mostly it made me feel disconnected to a fanbase that used to be a lot smaller. I feel like we used to be really super close, I used to know everybody personally and see them at shows. The more it climbed the more I kind of desperately grasped for any semblance of human contact and relationship. So instead of just posting things on my page: please buy my ITunes CD, please go to Spotify, just to the random crowd of ghost people that they’re becoming. Instead of that I kind of like to post questions so they can talk to me and I can talk to them. To that I guess I feel like that’s a more human thing to do. It makes me feel better about the situation. It makes me feel like I still have a little piece of what I had when I first started. I don’t think I’ll ever stop, its pretty cool.

M: Yeah that’s fantastic. It’s something that myself and my cohost on my radio show that I host weekly talk about. In some genres a lot of artists try to do that but in some genres it’s not a thing and after a certain threshold the artist stops communicating with their fan base.

S: They do, yeah. And that’s so sad. Because, I don’t know, I’m at a weird place right now that I’m happy to be playing festivals. That’s a huge plateau. I mean, anyone in music knows that’s a huge plateau. It’s so difficult to break into that. You have to have played a festival to be booked at a festival but unless you’ve played a festival you can’t book a festival. You just have to know somebody or something like that, it’s difficult. But then you end up losing this beautiful – I was a singer-songwriter for a really long time and the cool thing about that to me is that people are very personal. You build personal relationships with people and the reason why I had such supportive people supporting my music is because I knew them personally. I had met them personally, I had hung out with them after shows, they liked a particular song. Or they would email me and be like, hey our little boy really reverberates with my life story. And then we trade, like, personal stories and what we’ve been going through and we support each other. It’s really more of a symbiotic relationship. And you’re right they lose that after a certain point. Then it feels to me that you run the risk of being a really narcissistic person, like it’s just about you.  So maybe that’s what it is. I’m so afraid.

M: you’re afraid of falling into that trap?

S: oh yeah. Isn’t everybody?

M: Yeah. Well almost everybody. Is it ok for me to ask you one of the questions that you posted on your Facebook page?

S: Yes!

M: When in life did you feel most proud about yourself?

S: I… oh man. Ok, so 2 things. I guess when I started going to school – I’d been homeschooled for a long time – when I started going to school and started trying to make friends I was such an anxious, awkward, shy person that even the act of making friends was total revolutionary for me. That was lovely. I think I was proud of myself again when I moved downtown on my own and started supporting myself. I felt like I would walk around and I would be like, I feel like Beyoncé. I pay my bills, I support myself, I run my own business, I’m so proud of myself. I think again this last year I got to be with my whole band – and they’re all guys which is really weird, it’s a really weird kind of unofficial statement we weren’t intending to make that I’m this woman and I front this band and they’re all guys. Instead of it being a weird, like kook, like “oh we hired this sexy girl to make us sexier” it’s like a club and they’re all supporting what I’m doing. Which is such a revolutionary, super cool, just awesome lucky position that vie got to be in. and we ended up winning a hall of fame induction and it was me and all my guys and we were all just standing around and ,like, these people, these musicians that I looked up to my entire life for the last 11 years were like, pretending to bow and it was so weird, so surreal, and so perfect to be right next to these people who’ve supported me while it was all happening and I got to experience it with them. That’s probably something I’ll probably never forget.

M: It’s amazing. So during the next 6 months until the album is done are we going to see you pop up at any open mic nights or with any side projects while the album is getting completed?

S: oh well you know musicians can’t really stop playing. I mean we won’t be doing shows but I’ll definitely be at open mics. I guess there’s a really good one at Goldfield right now, shout out to that one. It’s on Monday nights and it’s supposed to be awesome.

M: Doesn’t James Cavern host that?

S: Yes, I love him.  So I’ll most likely be there.

M: Are there any other side jobs or side projects that you’re working on? Because I know that on your Facebook page it mentioned a lot of the things that are kind of personal to you that you are kind of an advocate for. Obviously you’re there to help spread awareness about autism and depression and sexual abuse and social issues that most issues shy away from.

S: Oh my gosh, you know, I decided not to shy away from because they make me so who I am that it feels weird to cut out this percentage of me and my life experience and kind of whitewash who I am. I think my songs mean more to people when they know that I experience life in a real way, and sometimes in a real bad way. I think that’s more honest, and honest is really my key word when it comes to my band. My songs are honest. I tend to be honest as a person. And that includes with my failures and y successes. I think something that my music tries to inspire in people is that I’m creating this world that they can escape to, almost. That they can feel safe in, that they can feel brave in. and where they don’t have to feel ashamed of where they came from or what they’ve been through and they have someone to talk to if they’re ever at a place where they feel like nobody understands. We want to create kind of a world where we do understand and we have even through exactly those same things and we want to help. I think that’s one of the coolest things you’re able to do when you get to the point where a lot of people see what you post. You can do nothing with it, totally acceptable, or you can choose to do something cool.

M: Totally respectable. Well thank you for your time and for calling in this morning.

S: Thank you so much.

M: Again, you’ve been listening to Autumn Sky as I poke her brain for questions. You can check her and her band out this Friday 3:30 at TBD Fest, the last time they’ll be performing in 2014.

S: Yes, yes, yes.

M: And then next year we’ll look forward in the spring for your guys’ full album.

S: Thank you so much, everybody have a good day.

We’re going to leave off with Young for the Night off of the Scout EP. You can get that on ITunes as well just a little promotional plug for that. Thank you so much Autumn.

S: Thank you.

DJ Mappquest is on KSSU every Thursday evening from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM for his electronica show with DJ Liradan, and every Friday morning, 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM for his new music show with DJ Liradan – all on KSSU.com!

TBD Festival: Under the Radar


TBD Fest has just wrapped up this past weekend and I for one had a lovely and rip roaring good time listening to music, hanging out with friends and supporting local businesses and culture. For me the draw of any good music festival is two fold. One being the promise of seeing some of your favorite and typically well established head liner. Personally, this year’s festival’s most enticing lineup eye candy were MSMR, Danny Brown, and The Drums. All of whom delivered on their unspoken promise of fulfilling my desire see them perform live and perform well.

However, this blog is not about them. It is instead abut the second fold I mentioned earlier. An aspect that is equally vital, if not the direct line to the heart of any successful music festival. I speak of course, of the bands you didn’t know you wanted to see; but now that you have, you could not imagine having gone to this festival and not have their set be apart of your experience. This blog is about those bands who make festivals more than just an extra expensive way to see your favorite bands and turn it into a Pandora’s box of musical discovery.

TourBoys

The first such band I would like to highlight is Male Gaze. This band had my attention as soon as they announced their name, as I presume it is a reference to film theorist Laura Mulvey’s idea of “the male gaze” in cinema. Which, as a film student and theorist nerd, I appreciate immensely. But name aside, Male Gaze was killer. At first listen they appeared to be a n extremely tight and fuzzy lo-fi punk band. But as their set goes on and you begin to listen to their songs more in depth, they are revealed to be an extremely tight and fuzzy lo-fi punk band, with an ear for pop. Beneath the layers of pristine fuzz and feedback laced punk angst are some well crafted layers of surf pop and 80s Bowie infused pop hooks.

The second band I feel deserves some praise and greater recognition is quirky electro synth funk group French Horn Rebellion. Now, this band was recommended to me by my friends and colleagues here at the station, so I was expecting and hoping for a quality performance. But what I was not expecting was the explosion of frantic awesomeness that was French Horn Rebellion’s dance inducing, charisma infused set. As the name suggests front man Robert Perlick-Molinari lays down funky melodies on his French horn, as well as, taking up most of the singing, sequencing, and synth playing duties. The highlight of the set came when Perlick-Molinari burst off the stage and into the crowd to serenade a lucky female audience member with a sexy horn solo. For those of you who happened to miss the epicness that was this performance, fret not, for French Horn Rebellion will be back in Sacramento playing at LowBrau restaurant on Sunday November 2nd.MSMR

Last but not least is Small Pools, a band that  is on the up and up in the pop scene, getting a nice bit of radio play and love for their recently released self titled EP. Small Pools is probably the most well known group out of this bunch, but one that I had not heard of prior to stumbling upon their set, in the hopes they could provide some entertainment while we waited for MSMR. However, after their set was over, I came away more than pleasantly surprised at Small Pools paradoxical mix of crisp musical polish and charmingly awkward in between song banter. For me, their music bridges a sonic gap between fun, and Two Door Cinema Club. Blending shiny guitar lines with sparkling synths, party pop hooks and a subtle nostalgia for pop punk, Small Pools are able to capture the raw energy of a late night house party. It seemed that with each song their set just kept getting better and by the end, both me and my friend, were happy residents of the Small Pools fan base. Be on the look out for the drop of their LP, which is rumored to be coming out some time soon.coil

So if the festival scene has never seemed like your kind of thing, I hope this blog has shown you that the music festival has much more to offer than the glimmering appeal of big time headliners. That they offer a chance to poke around and explore the world of the bottom half of the lineup and maybe, just maybe you’ll find your new favorite band.

This blog has been brought to you by DJames, be sure to listen in to my shows each week from 3-4pm and 6-7pm, only on KSSU

TBD Fest 2014 Review


10497888_977879928905052_6671002027215165432_oAnd just like that, TBD Fest 2014 came and went.  I won’t bore you with the historical background of this festival (I already did that).  So lets get to it!

There were some technical difficulties of sorts to start things off.  The crowd was not let in to the grounds on opening day, October 3rd, until close to the close of amazing local band Autumn Sky’s set around 4 PM’ish.  Once things opened up and everyone came in, amazing happened.  I could tell you how amazing so many artists were this weekend, but that would be a very lengthy read for you.  Instead, just know that many were extremely on point.  But for the sake of getting it out there, here’s a list of bands I saw (in no particular order except from me reading the schedule from Friday to Sunday):  Autumn Sky, Who Cares, Exmag, Young Rising Sons, The Drums, Gramatik, Com Truise, Dillon Francis, Danny Brown, French Horn Rebellion, The War on Drugs, Male Gaze, Smallpools, Sister Crayon, MS MR, Teen Daze, Explosions in the Sky, Keys N Krates, Kurt Vile and the Violators, Total Slacker, Deltron 3030, 8th Grader, and Yacht. [Read more…]

TBD Fest Preview


tbd-fest-2014-1557452-regularComing on October 3rd, 4th, and 5th, Sacramento will be sonically assaulted by the biggest musical festival the 916 has yet to see.  From the makers of the Launch Festival comes to newly re-branded TBD Fest!

The Launch crew is seven years deep in experience with providing Sacramento with their SXSW-inspired festival.  For a number of years, Launch was a one day ordeal.  In 2012, Launch expanded into a two-day extravaganza.  Last year, Launch was a two-day party at Cesar Chavez Park, with a pre-party being held the Friday before at Ace of Spades.  Those three days last year was probably the most fun, enhancing, and artistically filled days of my life on the best coast.  Last saw headlining acts of Wallpaper on Friday at the pre-Launch Party at Ace of Spades, and Girl Talk and Imagine Dragons on Saturday and Sunday night at Cesar Chavez Park in Downtown Sacramento.   [Read more…]