Monday, 17 February 2014 23:45

Respect The Classics Contest Memes

Respect The Classics // February 18, 2014

Ohhh, the 90's. The music, the fashion, the style... it was all great. Our Respect The Classics contest is bringing it all back for us and we want you all to participate in the fun! Read about our contest here and then right-click and download one of the memes below to share or use them as your profile picture!

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Custom memes created by Phil Quinal.


Published in Current
Monday, 10 February 2014 06:50

Respect The Classics Contest

Respect The Classics Contest // February 10, 2014

When a hit song can keep your head nodding years after its release, and remembering all the lyrics is like a badge of honor -- you know you are dealing with a classic. Great music lives forever; and this month we are paying homage to hip hop + R&B with our #RespectTheClassics contest.



Respect the Classics is a campaign with special edition releases from Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), saluting hip-hop’s finest. UMe’s extensive catalogue includes iconic albums from the Def Jam, Interscope, Priority, and Virgin Records vaults. Titles like the 25th Anniversary Editions of Eazy-E’s triple platinum solo debut, Eazy-Duz-It, Ice Cube’s solo debut, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, and N.W.A’s iconic, triple-platinum Straight Outta Compton, to name a few. UMe is also re-issuing many albums this coming year, including Kanye West’s 808’s and Heartbreaks, 2Pac’s Greatest Hits, and Eminem's Slim Shady LP.

When we heard about what they were doing, we knew we couldn’t pass up the chance to collaborate with them and show our respect too -- because, hey, we love good music. Their fresh and creative campaign is giving new life to the jams we love.  Now, artists and fans alike can join in and potentially become a part of music history.

***Update***

The submissions are in, and we're loving what we're seeing! From drawings, to jam sessions to belly dancing (yes, belly dancing!) -- you've truly shown us that you #RespectTheClassics. Now, we have to choose a winner! We posted the top entries on our Facebook page, where you can vote for your favorites. Tell us who you want to see win big. Voting ends Friday, February 28th at noon PST and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter. Click here to vote: http://bit.ly/MW-RTC-VOTE


Entrants can draw inspiration from any of the following albums:

Official Respect the Classics Titles

Additional UMe Catalog Titles

Get Respect + Win

Let your talent shine through. If your entry is chosen, you’ll win the following:

  • $200 Cash Prize!
  • Special Edition Vinyl Prize Pack, including Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak Collector's Set (out 3/18/14) -- a music lover's dream!
  • The chance to choose and help design the next Respect the Classics release -- will be distributed nationwide!




Official Rules

No purchase is necessary to enter or win the #RespectTheClassics contest. The contest is open to anyone over 18 years of age at time of entry who is a resident of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia.

The contest is sponsored by Made Woman, LLC and will begin on Monday, February 10 2014 at 9am PST.

Submission period will run from February 10th at 9am PST to February 23rd at 11:59pm PST.
Photos will be posted in a gallery on the Made Woman Facebook & on the Respect The Classics Facebook page.
The winner will be announced Friday, February 28th.

Entrants will email the following to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it :

  • Their name & email address
  • Their photo, video, drawing or other artistic expression
  • Their Twitter and/or Instagram username*

*Optional

Please note: all entries received may be re-posted on any of Made Woman's current or future social media outlets indefinitely and/or posted on Made Woman Magazine's website at a later date. If an entry is posted and/or re-tweeted, only the entrant’s first name or Twitter handle will be posted in conjunction with the entry.

Winner will be selected by the Made Woman & Respect the Classics teams, based on quality of entry and the concept originality. Made Woman, LLC reserves the right to select a winner based on their criteria. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook.  Participant is providing information to Made Woman Magazine and not to Facebook.


By entering the Respect the Classics contest, entrants are opting into the Made Woman & Respect the Classics email lists.

By entering this giveaway, entrants accept and agree to these rules.

Published in Current

Entertainment // January 27, 2014

At Made Woman, we’re always on the lookout for artists that make us sit up and take notice. Great music is made only by those of equally great stature and initiative. As the calendar turns over another year, our eyes and ears are refreshed. We eagerly anticipate those who will define the musical landscape of 2014.  We’re betting these five ladies below will be making this year their own. These are the Top 5 Female Artists to look out for in 2014:



Artist: Yuna

Why she’s Made: Yuna is a Los Angeles-based artist with Malaysian roots bringing a sultry and emotive quality to today’s pop music. Her sound fits into the music annals alongside others like Sia and Corinne Bailey Rae. She can sometimes be as sweet as sunshine, and at others, pull at your heart with the sweet aching nature of her crystalline voice. Yuna began her career with the help of MySpace in 2006, catching the ear of US music labels. Undeterred by the lack of instant mainstream success, Yuna has continued to push forward in the music scene the last nine years, both releasing LPs and EPs and working with music mavens like Pharrell, along the way.  She spent the later half of 2013 finally making waves with the release of her latest Nocturnal album, so look for Yuna to take over the music scene in 2014.  







Artist: Birdy

Why she’s Made: You might not know her by name, but chances are you (and 54MM other people) have heard her cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love”. Birdy, also known as Jasmine van den Bogaerde, can make you feel bad about yourself without even really trying. At just 17 years old this Brit made a splash with her beautifully epic record of covers, and this year she is back to enchant with an entirely original album including a track from The Hunger Games soundtrack. She was recently featured on the star-turning Morning Becomes Eclectic program on Los Angeles’ taste-making KCRW radio station.

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Artist: Angel Haze

Why she’s Made:  Angel Haze is the benefactor of so many musical talents you’d be inclined to think she had multiple personalities. She has innate abilities as a hard-driving rapper and lyricist and is an equally pure vocalist. It is a duality which makes me, of course, think of another phenom: the talented Ms. Lauryn Hill. At 22, Detroit-native Haze looks no more than 15 because -- you guessed it -- she has the face of an angel. An embattled childhood, an independent mind and an unflinching desire for the world to hear her music are what fuel Angel Haze. She recently leaked her own studio debut Dirty Gold ahead of its release. You’ll be thanking her that she did.







Artist: Angel Olsen

Why she’s Made: Another “Angel” tops our list for 2014. Though she, too, often uses music to exorcise some of life’s most tormenting demons, this Angel finds her home in the singer-songwriter genre. There is no pretense about Chicago-based singer-songwriter Angel Olsen. Her style moves counter to the trends of today’s soundscape -- raw, stripped-down and beautifully underproduced. I had the pleasure of seeing her live last year, and Olsen’s performance was beautifully understated belying her grand voice. A voice that is both staggering and unique; and untrained in the best way possible. It sits somewhere comfortably between an operatic belt and the country call of a yodel. Witnessing her natural display, the range and fluidity of her swoons and croons, is spiritual. Her presence will be in no shortage this year as her sophomore LP Burn Your Fire For No Witness is out February 18th.







Artist: Elli Ingram

Why she’s Made: The second Brit on our list occupies the space between AlunaGeorge and Amy Winehouse. Her cadence is playful and her sound is jazzy ala Winehouse on her freshman effort Frank; but Ingram additionally introduces buoyant elements of early 90’s R&B. Last year after covering Kendrick Lamar’s “Poetic Justice” and releasing a take-notice EP, Sober, Ingram signed to Island Records (also home to the late, great Ms. Winehouse). In 2014 the sky's the limit for this import.

Published in Entertainment
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 21:45

Entertainment | Amel Larrieux Interview Pt. 2

Entertainment // January 22, 2014

1995 was a special year in Hip-Hop and R&B. Tupac dropped his classic “Me Against the World” from his New York prison. Biggie released both “Big Poppa” and “One More Chance” and had the radio on lock.  D’Angelo blazed the charts with “Brown Sugar,” and TLC showed us how “CrazySexyCool” R&B could be.

That fall, a humble new group named Groove Theory released its debut self-titled album and its adorable hit, “Tell Me,” which became a staple in every DJ’s crate. The combination of Amel Larrieux’s salty and sweet vocals and Bryce Wilson’s production were the perfect match, and the two forever solidified their place among Hip-Hop’s golden era.

But in 1999, Larrieux went out on her own, created the independent label, Blisslife, and released her debut solo album, “Infinite Possibilities.”  After three more revered albums and six years to tour, live life, and perfect her next album, Larrieux dropped the 16-track LP “Ice Cream Everyday”.


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After last week’s shows at Yoshi’s Jazz Club in San Francisco, I got the chance to sit down with the Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and chat with her about being independent, staying creative and relevant in today’s competitive landscape, and pursuing her next big dream.


John Reid: So let’s start with the record.  Why’d you decide to release “Ice Cream Everyday” now?

Amel Larrieux: Well, there’s never really any big thought-out plan. Things happen, songs are written, and if they sound good together in a group and they’re viable to be an album, then that album is done. And that’s how we’ve always worked it. It’s about each individual song being an experience sitting next to another experience, and it becomes an amalgamation of experiences and feelings and emotions...and then you have an album!

JR: And yo! You’ve got some instant classics on here! “You’re the Shhh,” “You Don’t See Me,” and “I Do Take” -- which will be everyone’s wedding song this year -- all come to mind.  But you also have songs like “See Where You Are,” “Moment to Reflect” and “Danger.”  What was the inspiration behind the records that seem to deal with the speed of life and change?


AL: “See Where You Are” is just about being present. I have my own meditation practice that affords me exactly that. Just to stop and be still for minute and sometimes not even think about what’s going on.  “Moment to Reflect” is inspired by the idea that in society -- and not just western society -- there are so many platforms for everyone to constantly be throwing out their opinions, and it’s easy for some people to just become…just nasty. And people get so wrapped up in opinions...  I write a song and have a point of view, but I really like it when a listener takes what they want from it.  So I don’t often want to get too in-depth about what I aimed for because that doesn’t really matter. It’s about what the listener gets from it.

JR: Some artists have slumps, and we can all relate to having mental blocks. What keeps you growing as an artist?

AL: For me and (my husband) Laru, we just always try to be authentic as possible. We listen to what’s happening mainstream-wise as well as underground, but we always keep a certain distance when we’re in super creative mode because we don’t really want to get too much into something that might sound trendy...I think we’ve found that when we do it our way, for lack of a better term, it ends up fitting into my discography more gracefully and seamlessly, and it all becomes like this seamless sound. But also, following trends in the music is not very interesting and also probably not very profitable for me. And I don’t think people want that from me.

JR: You’ve been able to maintain a successful career for a long time -- longer than most!  Why did you choose to go the independent route after the Groove Theory days?

AL:I’ve never been the mastermind behind the business moves that I appear to be making. It’s really been Laru, and I got really lucky that the person I fell in love with and married also happens to be the person who produces the music I make and had the idea to go independent and spearhead all this. I’m an independent spirit. I don’t want to have my fate in the hands of someone, or a conglomerate, that I don’t think really understands what I want to do.

JR: A lot of young entrepreneurs and creatives read Made Woman Mag. Creativity is such an important part of today’s world. What’s the creative process like for you?


AL: We’ve always had a space to create. We’ve always had our own studio, a home studio, or something that’s 10 minutes from home. That enabled a kind of (creative) normalcy.  We’ve been writing together, even just in the house together, for so long, so we’ve always been totally natural and we almost take it for granted because it’s just what we do. At home, you can just be writing songs and working on some music and one of us hears the other one and chimes in and says “well, what about this?” or “what if you did this to it?”  It’s just beautiful that we get to make something that’s universally felt on a spiritual level.  That’s how music is.  It’s also work. Sometimes I wish I had a timecard I could clock in and out with, but I know it’s a luxury that at 8:00 at night I can get a song idea and go remove myself and go write for a while.  Or I can do that at noon and go for a walk outside. It’s just always been a natural part of our life.



JR: So between the writing, the shows, the touring, the interviews (laughs), and the family, how do you manage to squeeze it all in?

AL: Anytime I hear people say, “Oh, you can do it all!” I’m always baffled because it’s hard.  Personally, when I hear them say that, I think to myself, “Well, it’s not easy for me!” Traveling from one climate to the next in one day. Or the time (zone) changes. Or getting jet-lagged and then having to do two shows in one night. I often don’t want to be in front of the cameras, and don’t necessarily always want to be photographed.  Some days I’m just interested in just singing, and some days I don’t want to sing at all.  Some days I don’t want to have to do mom stuff.  Some days I don’t want to cook. I’m just like anyone else in that sense. But we all have to kinda “make the donuts (laughs).” Someone has to do it.  I would say that’s really the common denominator. From Amel Larrieux the artist to anyone out there; it’s about the struggling.  I’m sure I could do a little better with my scheduling.  I’m sure that would make things easier.  You do have to be good to yourself, though, and allow yourself the room and space to have a tantrum here and there, and learn and grow, and then decide where you need to make changes and where you need to adjust.

JR: Nowadays, people are more concerned with their personal brands and not getting lost in the crowd. What has allowed you to stand out over the years in regards to your brand?


AL: Well, I think there might be something to me deciding to determine my own image and my sound and having a hand in it. It’s taken years of just being me and not trying on other people’s identity. Instead, it’s been me messing around with the organic way that my own identity ebbs and flows, musically and visually.

The other thing, and I wish it didn’t sound so businesslike, is that there are so many of us out there that do what we do and there’s so few that get to make a mark, be heard, and be able to continue to do this decade after decade and not be struggling as a starving artist. Talent has something to do with it, but it’s all relative. What really matters is who you have behind you, working what you’re doing.  A mainstream label has this machine of hundreds of people doing all this stuff.  This is the machine that I have: Laru and a small crew of people that we hire to pull all this stuff together for me.  That’s really important.  Whether you’re a visual artist or a writer, a musician, a performer, dancer, or any type of creative, it’s really important to have a manager that has an incredible work ethic or a booking agent that’s a tireless presence behind you that keeps going when everything else seems to be saying no.

JR: And you’re still going!  We’ve heard about the Groove Theory reunion and the shows you’ve done with Bryce.  What’s your biggest dream for the future at this point in your career?

AL: My biggest dream is to segue into a life of work in the service of children from one to six years old in urban low income communities with the use of art, artistic healing modalities and yogic healing modalities. I would like to teach meditation, yoga, and art and music therapy, and be involved in these communities where kids are “at risk” or don’t have the resources they need. I want to give them these tools –  these spiritual internal tools to be well adapted and healed adults one day. That’s my dream. It may not have anything to do with music, but that’s really what my heart desires at this point.

Want to read the full interview with Amel?  Read it here.


---

Follow Amel Larrieux: @amellarrieux

Published in Entertainment

Entertainment // January 13, 2014

The veteran songstress and songwriter was well into her 90-minute set at Yoshi’s Jazz Club last night when she unexpectedly announced to the crowd that she was considering a career change. “I’ve been reading about music as a healing modality and I’m hoping that that is the next step that I can take a foray into and make part of my profession.”

The announcement was quite appropriate.  Last October, Amel Larrieux released “Ice Cream Everyday,” the long-awaited and oft-delayed studio LP.  It had been six years since her last studio album, Lovely Standards (jazz), and seven years since she’d released an album comprised of her own original material.  Her fans were long overdue for some of her “music therapy” and rushed to the iTunes store on the release day to download Larrieux’s latest installment.  So far, the album’s first single, “Afraid,” reached number 16 on the Adult R&B Songs chart.

Throughout her set on Sunday night, Larrieux seamlessly weaved through material from all six of her albums.  She eased into the performance with one of her new songs from Ice Cream, “A Million Sapphires,” establishing a deep and focused tone, followed by “Magic” and “We Can Be New.”  

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But the energy of the show ascended to new heights with the song “You Don’t See Me,”  as the music seemed to transform Larrieux from R&B crooner into a Hip-Hop lyricist.  While even throwing in a couple freestyle lyrics about her ‘drink and her two-step,’ Larrieux prowled and sashayed across the stage with a swag that would’ve made Biggie pass her the mic.

And in classic Larrieux fashion, she showed her range and repertoire by performing a cover of Madonna’s “What it Feels Like For a Girl.”  With only her daughter, Sky Larrieux, accompanying her on keyboards, the deconstructed version of “Girl” became exceedingly thoughtful and introspective.

She followed with two favorites from the Morning album, “Unanswered Questions,” and “Gills and Tails.”  But the show elevated once again as she performed the hypnotic new song, “Danger,” a lesson in unlearning the culturally-driven ideas that create fear, hate, and devaluing of self.  Larrieux fans have always enjoyed Larrieux’s ability to infuse refreshing social commentary in her disarming music.  “Danger” is the latest of such works and does not disappoint.

For the final stretch, Amel brought back a couple of her classics, “Infinite Possibilities” and “INI.”  But the crowd came alive with the ballad, “I Do Take,” which will undoubtedly become the new wedding song for 2014.  

She followed that with the cherished “For Real,” and the show was rounded out with the iconic Groove Theory hit “Tell Me,” with the entire audience singing and dancing along.  

The show was perfectly imperfect, with minor hiccups here and there.  But members of the Amel faithful who have been patiently waiting for her return to the stage felt like it was well worth the wait.  One concert-goer told me, “It’s amazing and I don’t know what it is about her, but now I feel totally inspired and ready to tackle my own challenges and goals.  I have a big interview this week and this is just what I needed.”

We also got a chance to catch up with the singer after the show for an exclusive Made Woman Mag interview, so make sure to check out Part Two of this article later this week.  But in the meantime,  to get your own dose of music therapy, pick up Ice Cream Everyday.  And if you’re in the Seattle or Washington D.C. area, make sure to check out one of her upcoming shows this month

Published in Entertainment

Entertainment // October 7, 2013

DJ Lady Sha isn’t afraid to throw off the yoke of tradition in favor of the road less traveled. She is a genre-defying trailblazer in the male-dominated world of DJ-ing. Originally set on a course to study medicine at UC Berkely, Sha bucked medical school for a life of turntables and dance floors -- and she hasn’t looked back. She is an award-winning, globe-trotting entrepreneur whose diligently cultivated and eclectic sets helped her to become the first female to win the Winter Music Conference DJ Spin-off (2008). Although based in Los Angeles, Sha’s drive and spinning prowess has taken her the world wide to New York, Miami, Jamaica, and South Africa, where in 2004 she was the first woman to spin live on South African air waves. I got the chance to chat with Lady Sha after she DJ’ed the Made Woman 2 Year event:


1. Was music a big presence in your home growing up?

Lady Sha: Always, thanks to my Mom and Dad! Whether waking us up with music on weekend mornings or playing it in the car, we were always listening to something. Back then it was a mix of my mom’s favorites from Persian music to Elton John, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, etc...  or my Dad’s choice – anything on KCRW.


2. What/who is your music guilty pleasure?

Lady Sha: I love such a huge range of music from pop to underground, hip hop to dance music, and even country jams that I don’t consider anything a guilty pleasure. Most days I’m digging through hundreds of new and old mp3’s to see what I want to include in my sets, so when I have time to listen to music for pleasure, I just go with whatever I’m in the mood for at that time. On my runs, I like to listen to hip hop and dance music for example. In the car after a long night, I like to listen to KCRW late-night or a country station, something completely different than what I was just playing at an event for four hours.


3. What piqued your interest in DJ-ing?

Lady Sha: I didn’t even know I WAS interested in DJ-ing a little over a decade ago. While I was at UC Berkeley as an undergrad studying Pre-Med & Anthropology, my neighbor happened to be DJ Phatrick. He asked me to sit in on one of his DJ courses on campus. At first I told him I was too busy – not only with school, but with my hobbies as a guitarist, singer, and member of the UC Berkeley Poetry Slam team. With his convincing though, I sat in on his class and fell in love from that moment on. Two weeks after the course ended I bought my own turntables.


4. As an award-winning DJ, and co-partner on various events in LA, what advice can you offer to other female entrepreneurs?

Lady Sha: I think the most valuable advice I can give is to have clear focus on where you’d like to go, make sure your entrepreneurial signature is creative and original -- or improving upon what already exists -- and have a phenomenal work ethic to achieve your vision.


5. Do you find it difficult to make a mark in a scene so traditionally dominated by men?

Lady Sha: DJ-ing more frequently and working around the clock to showcase my style and abilities at gigs and with mix CDs, my mark slowly became increasingly noticeable and present in Los Angeles. Now to expand that to the world...

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6. Music in general is pretty integrated, why do you think DJ-ing skews so male?

Lady Sha: The pioneers of hip hop and dj-ing were male and to quote the film Miss Representation, “you can't be what you can't see”, so I think it took some time for females to break into dj-ing. I hear about so many more females DJ-ing now than 10 years ago. There’s a snowball effect of more and more females entering the industry and finally evening out the playing field!


7. You’ve traveled near and far DJ-ing, what’s your favorite city to DJ in? Why?

Lady Sha: I’ve had a ton of fun at DJ gigs in New York, Miami, Rome, Vegas, and San Francisco as well as in countries such as South Africa and Jamaica. However, nothing is as amazing as a popping dance floor in LA filled with the intense energy of my friends and people that have danced to my sets over the years.


8. Have you found that musical tastes differ in the club scene around the world?

Lady Sha: Not only do musical tastes differ in club scenes around the world, but also from club to club here in LA and from night to night in each venue. One night you may have a hip hop crowd, another night a dance music crowd, and on another night, a crowd that wants to go on a genre-hopping journey with the DJ of the night.


9. What’s your favorite genre to spin?

Lady Sha: My absolute favorite thing to do when I DJ is to play for a crowd that will let me take them on a ride through different genres from hip hop to trap, dubstep, dance music, indie-rock, and hip hop and R&B jams from the 80s and 90s. I’m not happy having to stick to any one genre.


10. Is there one song that without fail always gets a crowd going?

Lady Sha: Show Me Love – Robin S.  The only variable is what I pair before and after the song that affect the impact the song has on the crowd.


Since her new and improved website launches in early November, it’s easy to stay up to date on all of DJ Lady Sha’s happenings including daily updates on her performance schedule and new videos and mixes. But in the meantime to get your fix, you can check out Sha on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Published in Entertainment
Monday, 23 September 2013 04:12

Made Music | The Singer and The Songwriter

Made Music // September 23, 2013

Rachel Garcia and Thu Tran are The Singer & The Songwriter. The duo’s California-folk whimsy updates the swinging sounds of the gypsy jazz of the 1930s and ‘40s; a style that even in its heyday marched to its own beat, so to speak. Garcia’s sultry and booming jazz vocals are the anchor of the duo. A choir singer from a young age, it’s no wonder where Garcia learned to develop her standout voice. I first stumbled upon the duo at the modest 2nd Annual Make Music LA event in Silverlake earlier this summer. The acoustic event was little more than a rug to stand on for the would-be troubadours of the day. It was difficult to hear the day’s acts above the careening shopping carts and murmurs of the Friday afternoon weekend seekers; but Rachel Garcia was not only heard -- she put an exclamation point on the day with her richly textured voice.



 

As independent musicians in this niche genre, it’s fitting then that The Singer and The Songwriter display a special kind of moxie and are charting their own course without the backing of a major label. "There are a lot of unknowns and fear in being an independent artist, but the other side of the coin is the creative freedom [...] I get to choose who I want to be, what I want to sing and how I want to present myself.  The effect that this freedom has is you learn to trust and rely on yourself and your band mate." Garcia and her partner in crime,“Songwriter” and guitarist, Thu Tran began playing together in 2009 in San Francisco. After, a move to Los Angeles the duo hit their stride and have spent the last two years writing and recording. The Singer and The Songwriter are now primed to release their first full-length album, What A Difference A Melody Makes. Just recently the outfit launched their Kickstarter campaign in an effort to put the finishing touches on their LP. The ingenuity and creativity of The Singer and The Songwriter are what enable the duo to carve out a path distinctly and charmingly their own. 

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The wildcard that also makes The Singer and The Songwriter one to watch in the folk scene is the album’s producer, Charlie Stavish. Stavish has worked on albums for bands such as Imagine Dragons, Foster The People, and The Joy Formidable. With a delicate hand to polish off the album, The Singer and The Songwriter could be ready to breathe new life into LA’s folk scene.

Published in Entertainment
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 15:42

Made Music | Where Are They Now?

Entertainment // August 26, 2013

1999 seems like just yesterday -- until I’m reminded that it was, in fact, fourteen years ago. Fourteen! The Thong Song was a whole high schooler ago. Remember how huge Sisqo was and how he was going to be the biggest R&B star, well, probably forever (obvi)? I vividly remember watching his MTV “Making the Video”...yes, fourteen years ago. Sigh. Well, things didn’t quite turn out like either of us planned it, did it Sisqo, old buddy?  So that got me thinking -- what black hole do all our favorite artists of yesteryear get sucked into when they violently tumble from the Billboard charts? And what on earth are they up to these days? Let us explore the goings on of five of the biggest names from different genres -- that you haven’t heard of since middle school graduation.

HOOTIE & THE BLOWFISH

Hootie & the Blowfish were ubiquitous in the 1990s. They were nearly synonymous with adult contemporary rock at the time. There were those guys that did the theme song for “Friends” -- and there was Hootie and the Blowfish. That was it. But what happened to Hootie and all his Blowfish -- or should I say Darius Rucker and his bandmates? Well the band’s drummer, Jim Sonefeld battled his demons with alcohol and is now a Christian artist. Rucker himself also did an about face, though not as a Christian artist. Rucker has been releasing country albums for the last handful of years. He cautiously promises that Hootie and the Blowfish will be back though one day. A new album is something, he’s certain, the future will  hold -- though reunion dates have yet to be set.

COOLIO

I was obsessed with Gangsta’s Paradise in sixth grade when it came out. Coolio was, in fact, the coolest. But then Coolio and his Medusa-like braids vanished faster than the Greek lady-monster could turn onlookers to stone. More recently, Coolio has been using ‘90s nostalgia to stage a career comeback for himself in reality television. With appearances in Ultimate Big Brother, Wife Swap, and the UK game show Tipping Point: Lucky Stars (how did you not DVR this one?), Coolio has quickly become the Ryan Seacrest of bad reality TV.

LFO

Remember them? You know, that band made up of initials from the 1990s? They talked about liking girls who wore Abercrombie & Fitch. LFO were the poor girl’s 98 Degrees, who were really the poor girl’s ‘NSYNC so....yeah. Okay, let’s try this to jog your memory: lead singer Rich Cronin at one point dated Jennifer Love Hewitt and penned their song Girl on TV for her. Well, not surprisingly, LFO ran its short-lived course and the band went its separate ways. The band did reunite for a ‘90s nostalgia tour featuring other pop bands of the day, in 2009. These days, “Lyte Funky One” Brad Fischetti is a vocal pro-life advocate in Florida. Lead singer Cronin was unfortunately diagnosed with Leukemia and succumbed to his illness in 2010.

SISQO

We mentioned a few weeks back how much we’d enjoy seeing a Dru Hill resurgence, but do you ever wonder what happened to its shooting star, Sisqo? Sisqo shot to fame faster than you can snap a thong with the summer anthem of 1999 that was every mother’s favorite song to hear their 9 year-old sing, Thong Song.  His initial album, Unleash the Dragon was such a success that Sisqo decided to make a Dragon trilogy. Sadly, he was actually the only one who wanted more. To temper the sting of being out of the spotlight, Sisqo took part in Celebrity Big Brother in 2010. His purported third album of the trilogy, the ironically titled, Last Dragon, was slated for release in 2012, but has yet to see the light of day. As of the beginning of this year the album was again rumored to be coming out this summer...but now here we are now almost in September and the only Dragons I've seen this summer belong to Khalessi.

LISA LOEB

Lisa Loeb was the adorkable manic pixie dream girl for slightly awkward, mostly nerdy guys everywhere, before "manic pixie dream girl" was even a term. With her black framed glasses, petite stature, and coquettish affect, Loeb made weepy sentimentalists of teens and twenty-somethings everywhere with her acoustic guitar. If you saw Reality Bites, or listened to the radio in the ‘90s you probably remember her smash hit, Stay (I Missed You). Loeb fell off the map as the ‘90s progressed despite her continued stream of album releases.  In 2006 she resurfaced -- looking unchanged from 1994 with her signature eyewear -- to take part in her own reality show, Number 1 Single, wherein she searched for love in the big city. Loeb has since married, had two children, released children’s music, and earlier this year put out her first adult album since 2004, entitled No Fairy Tale.

Published in Entertainment

Entertainment // July 15, 2013

Soul artist Raquel Rodriguez is a Los Angeles native with a penchant for emotional vocal runs, a bright, driving style that will get your blood pumping, and for just being one of the ‘guys’. Rodriguez’s influences are a collection of both old and new school soul - from Sarah Vaughan to Adele -- and you can hear elements spanning the decades in all of her music. She blends the best of decades past with a modern surge. And with a seldom-seen-these-days six-piece ensemble, The Big Guys, backing her, Raquel has moved swiftly from self-titled EP in 2012 to debut LP release. An entrepreneur in her own right taking command of her career, Raquel is spirited woman with a mission to get her music out to the world. After recently releasing her first LP, Miss Me, on June 21, Raquel can take a moment to relish in her accomplishment. But just a moment, because there is no doubt that Raquel has plans to check a lot more off her to do list.

1. What made you gravitate towards Soul? Did you always see yourself in the genre, or was it more of a discovery while in music school?

Soul music has always been a huge part of my life. My mom would only play good music while my brothers and I were growing up. In my teen years I definitely gravitated to the pop/hip-hop stuff, but as I got older I found myself going back to my roots. I started to mimic the sounds I used to love and wrote about things that were important to me.

2. How did you and The Big Guys come together?

Destiny. [Laughs] Seriously though, I met all of the (Big) guys pretty much through school. Whether it was because we had a class together or just a mutual friend, I met all of them through USC. It took me awhile to find "my band," but now that I have, I'm so grateful. These guys are what make the music what it is and they're all like family to me.

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3. Billie Holiday or Sarah Vaughan?

Tough question, but if I have to choose one, definitely Sarah Vaughan. I love Billie Holiday’s vibe and soul, but Sarah Vaughan has got the voice! Man, I remember when my voice teacher at USC had me transcribe one of Sarah's solos for homework, and after that I just went on a SV craze. She's dope! I definitely learned a lot from her just listening to different albums.

4. There has obviously been a recent resurgence of Soul in the last half decade in pop music - Amy Winehouse, Adele. I mean good music is good music and it should be lauded, but, sadly, good music doesn’t often find commercial success because it isn’t part of the traditional mainstream.  What do you think has spurred this change and the return of Soul?

Change is inevitable, and whether it's good or bad, it's going to happen. I think a lot of things contributed to what mainstream music is now. Technology, politics, location, life, whatever it may be, it's all taken part in what music is today. I love that Soul music is coming back because I honestly believe that it's healthy for people. It's called Soul music for a reason.

5. What’s it like being the token woman around this big group of   guys?

It's awesome! Most of the time it's so easy because I grew up with two older brothers, so I'm used to having boys around. I'm definitely a little bit of a tomboy sometimes. The only thing that's tough about it is that I find myself starting to act like them a little too much. I'm pretty sure I burp louder than any of them.

6. Can you tell us about the new album and what the production process was like?

The album is called "Miss Me," and it has that old school vibe. A lot of music today is so produced, which can also be cool, but we didn't want that for this album. Sam, who plays drums on the album, produced the whole thing and wrote a lot of the music, so he wanted to make sure that we recorded it right. We spent A LOT of time making sure things sounded exactly the way we wanted them to, all while keeping in mind that this record is being pressed to vinyl.

7. “Miss Me” (your most recent single) is a markedly different aesthetic than your first Raquel Rodriguez EP. It’s bigger, brighter, and, in my opinion, is a more modern take on the genre. How did that come about?

The [Raquel Rodriguez] EP was a lot more "calm" in a way, and the recording/production process was MUCH different than what I expected. The EP was made up of songs that I had written when I was younger and I wanted evidence of that. I've grown as a singer, songwriter, musician, performer, basically just as an artist all around, and I think "Miss Me" is definitely a good example of that.

8. You previously recorded with Andrew Scheps, who has engineered for some of music's biggest names: Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, Audioslave, Linkin Park, Green Day and U2. What was that experience like for you?

Andrew Scheps was AWESOME! We learned so much from him in the one day we spent recording with him. He gave us so much advice and he was so knowledgeable and passionate about what he was doing. Definitely a huge inspiration. If you don't know what he looks like, just imagine a tall, powerful wizard with a long beard and that's him.

9. Over the last year or so you’ve played a lot of historic venues around LA, including The Roxy and House of Blues. Is there one venue in particular (LA or outside) that you dream of playing?

I dream more about playing in places that I've never been before. I want to travel all over the world in whatever venue that'll have me.

10. If you weren’t playing music where else could you see yourself?

Ummmmmm...


Listen to Raquel’s latest album and check out her site here.



Published in Entertainment
Monday, 17 June 2013 01:25

Entertainment | Best Breakup Songs

Entertainment // June 17, 2013

Sharon and Ozzy. Chris Brown and Rihanna. Katy Perry and John Mayer. Something is in the air but it certainly isn’t love. The music world is uncoupling at a staggering rate. With these couples heading for the door, we couldn’t help but put together a comforting list of the Top 5 Best Breakup Songs. Whether breakups make you want to seek isolation in a dark room for a good cry over a carton of Ben & Jerry’s, or they make you so angry you could throw some sh*%, we have the best of both worlds right here.


5. MoneyGrabber - Fitz and The Tantrums

Money. Success. Both are notorious relationship-killers. You can kiss your sponge of an ex goodbye with this Fitz and the Tantrums tune playing as your own personal soundtrack. With a sound that masterfully marries Motown and new wave, lead singer, Michael Fitzpatrick, warns, “Don’t come back anytime / I’ve already had your kind / this is your pay back, moneygrabber. Don’t come back anytime / you’ve already run me dry / this is your pay back, moneygrabber.” Oozing with soul and an unforgettable melody, the heat from this track is palpable. Let Fitz and the Tantrums show your ex the door the way you had always wanted.


4. Go Your Own Way- Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac’s album Rumors is a veritable vinyl pu pu platter of break-up songs. The 1977 album was the soundtrack for the divorce of members John and Christine McVie, for the breakups of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, and for one succession from the band. All of this added up to a lot of broken hearts and one of the most critically lauded records of the latter half of the century. From “Dreams” to “Songbird,” the album is rife with breakup songs to choose from. Buckingham penned the track “Go Your Own Way” about the dissolution of his relationship with Nicks. While thoughtful and honest, the song comes up just short of sentimental, and is his final emotional and driving release of Nicks. Quality time with this seventies classic rock anthem will get you through some tough times.


3. F**K You - Cee Lo Green

When you’re really angry, you may as well just come out and say it. Radio edits aside, there is no way to hide from the title of this Cee Lo summer groove. “F**K You” might just be the most uplifting song about a breakup you will ever find. If any song can help you dance your way out of your post-breakup funk, it’s this one. If your ex is too caught up in the superficial to see what a catch you really are, then maybe it’s time to make like Cee Lo and say...uh, “goodbye.”


2. You Oughta Know - Alanis Morissette

Before Kelly Clarkson, P!nk, and Fiona Apple, came Alanis Morissette, serving as the creator of the “woman with a bone to pick” genre. Jagged Little Pill was 1995’s open letter to double-crossing men from Morissette. Power, anger, and biting language was - in the music scene - foreign coming from a woman at that time. The brash Morissette burst onto the scene with more than just irony. I still remember the day I found out Jagged Little Pill’s most potent track, “You Oughta Know”, was about Morissette’s soured romance with everyone’s favorite Uncle Joey - Dave Collier. I never watched Full House the same way again.


1. Love Is A Losing Game - Amy Winehouse

Regardless of mood, music is the soundtrack to our lives. Few singers or songwriters have the emotional vulnerability or resonance of Amy Winehouse. In her songs, much like in her life, she was not afraid to paint an honest, and sometimes unpleasant, portrait. “Love is a Losing Game” is a beautiful, heart-wrenching love song drenched in melancholia. Its arching string arrangements are breathtaking. At only 2:49 in length, this brutally honest look at love and loss is epic. This track comes off her Black to Black album, which chronicles her turbulent relationship with not-quite-then-husband Blake Fielder-Civil, and is thus stacked with breakup songs.  If you’re looking for a good cry, however, look no further than this timeless song from a timeless voice. No one understands your pain quite like Amy Winehouse did.



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