Interview with STS9

STS9 live performance at Summer Set Music & Camping Festival was one set you did not want to miss! We got the privilege of interviewing Alana Rocklin and Hunter Brown about their new album release entitled “The Universe Inside” coming out September 2nd. It was interesting hearing their perspective on the album and why they chose to entitle the album in such a deeply inspiring way.


Interview Music

Too Hot to be Cool?

Over the course of Chicago music’s history we have seen the rise and fall of several great clubs and venues. Some have risen high and quickly but at the end fell due to the changing times and economic down turns. Others have shown the staying power over the years. The truth of the matter is no one can tell what will stay or really anticipate why it goes. We’ve lost some legendary places just recently: Neo, Excalibur (kind of), The Congress, Crobar. But, with venues such as Metro, Aragon, Cubbie Bear, Legends, Green Mill, Schubas, The Abby, Concord we stay loyal because we know that at some point the music we love will find itself there and us with it.
Well, boys and girls there’s a new joint in town that has the potential to make itself one of our new music mayhem stations and join the others in campaign to bring solid sounds to local clubs. It’s a little bit of motor city lined with a touch of LA and topped with a Chicago Pizza. HVAC (Heating and Cooling) deep in the heart of Wrigleyville, just doors away from the Cubbie Bear where last year David Grohl brought the Foo Fighters on the Sonic Highways Tour, has now, since they have been open, a few boasted chart appearing artists. Artists like Ryan Cabrera, Dee Snider from Twisted Sister, The Three Kings (Jason Aldine’s band) with School of Rock and slew of local talent. We were fortunate enough to catch BIG DATA pull a DJ set last month on July 3rd, and sat with him after for a few moments.
BIG DATA played to a half packed room until people on the street caught wind of who was spinning. By the end of a well-curated mix set HVAC was rocking out with people to the walls. Alan Wilkis gave the low down on his start in the music industry, coming out of Harvard with an English degree, his collaborations all the way to his rise to “Dangerous” heights on the charts.
I asked him pretty bluntly,” So… Harvard… What was that like?”
“A lot of studying…”
“Fair. So, how did the degree play into this project or did you just turn from it all together?”
Wilkis revealed, “Well, I graduated with a major in English language, so, it has some influence. Maybe not as much as I like but I am doing alright.” (under statement) I started to ask a bit more on what it’s like to transition to topping charts so quickly?
“It’s been kinda wild.” Wilkis mentioned, “There has been a lot of change and collaborations.”
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Wilkis seemed pretty excited about the night commenting on the set at HVAC, “This venue’s cool. The crowd was pretty responsive. Really dig the art here (referring to the famous photographer Paul Natkin and the overall motorcycle chic). This was a nice stop to come to Chicago. I’m really happy Damon called me up and asked me to play.”
“Wait what? Called you up? Like come hang out and chill?” I said. “
“That’s right.”

Damon Ranger(Left) seen here interviewing Perry Farrell (Right)

Damon Ranger, Oscar/Grammy/Emmy artist, called him up, as friends usually do, and said “Hey come play at my new club.” So, it seems that Damon, a Chicago born resident, is the curator and part owner of this new take on Rock Club Pizza Joints. And his way of getting his friends to come play is by calling them up and having them over for beer and pizza. What a Concept! No brainer right? Well, with the company that Damon keeps, and it goes deep into the music world, I wondered what he had in mind when opening up HVAC. Damon stated, “I wanted to make a Chicago type of Viper Room.” I mean when you make a business of winning Grammys for collaborating with artists like Kanye West and taking stages at Riot and Lollapolooza what could you possibly anticipate? It seems Meat Puppets are set to play this week Saturday, August 29th directly after the Foo Fighters at Wrigley Field for an after Party. Catch my drift. This place has the legs and the backing to become a destination spot for greater music makers in a more organic way of drawing them to play Chicago. Not a lot of places like that here any more. Buddy Guy’s Legends is probably the only other one I can think of that has the same type of feel and way about it. Carmen Rossi and Adolfo Garcia restaurateur owners of a few other prominent clubs in Chicago like Pearl Tavern and Hubbard Inn, having been friends with Damon from years ago decided to all get together and bring their passions with them.
From the inception of this club HVAC has surrounded itself with strong talented friends, committed to bringing in big acts and support local music with talented high quality artist. Even though they are in their proving stages it seems like a recipe for success. Go check out the Meat Puppets if you can. But, even if you miss it make sure to stop through you never know who will show up.
The Meat Puppets 6x4


Baby In Vain, Kills: The Lolla After show

August 2, 2015

Metro Chicago

Lollapalooza After Show

Feature with Baby In Vain by Mark Umstattd

To may times do we hear an artist on the radio and are left wondering “what is that sound?” or even watching a video saying “what the hell is going on?” that we are left a little bit confused. The celebrity and the artist become blurred lines that almost prevent us from being able to access the truth of who these people truly are underneath the public presentation. Was she really born that way? Is he bad to the bone? Did she in fact build that ship to wreck?

Now, there are moments of great revelation and moments of great disappointment when it comes to exploring new sound that sometimes even go hand in hand when beginning a new relationship with an artist that our ears just haven’t been prepared for…yet. We hem, we haw, we listen and twist in our chairs searching for that hook or riff which will lead us down the sonic rabbit hole to the heart of the music and, ultimately, the artist themselves.


Baby In Vain is an ambitious project, 5 years in the making, created by one of the Hottest trios to come out of Copenhagen. (That’s Denmark for the geographically disinclined.) Now music is taking a largely digital turn these days, which I don’t think anyone but the purists are really complaining about. But Baby In Vain is bringing something out of the cold northern lands that almost takes up where Joan Jett would have continued her sound were she born the  industrial Nancy boy beating younger sisters of Jack White. THESE CHICKS ARE HARD. Not to say that they have fully come into their evolution as musicians as they are still in the studio for their debut album, but they are currently on their second US tour with the Kills, so they are obviously doing something right.


I really didn’t know what to expect from these youngins’ (all under the age of 21) after watching their music video “Muscles”  as the images were so wild and disjointed that it left me slightly uncomfortable,  not knowing how to absorb the music and its visual presentation in combined force. But, the ambition and the confusion worked well enough to peak my interest  into holding an interview.

Hours before the official after show, Lolla hadn’t let out yet, I walked into the green room where the girls were getting ready for that nights performance. Lola (vox and lead guitar), the younger of the tribe at 19yrs. having just graduated high school, was restringing her guitar, while Andrea (rhythm guitar), BIV’s big sister, and Benedicte, drumming jokester, were chillin collecting themselves. The Kills were on the stage at the time for sound check. We talked about their album (release undetermined at this point) of which is being done completely independent. “We are not with a label,” Andrea stated. Meaning their efforts and schedules are done by their booking agent. So, how did they get linked up with the Kills? “Our agent called theirs and they chose us to for support, we knew we were coming threw again, so, supposed it just made sense.”

Heck yeah it made sense! The sound was a perfect appetizer for the main course. When these girls took the stage it was obvious that they were so comfortable and adept at being present and playing. So much so that when they started to make noise the unhinging squeal of the amplifiers primed you up for the explosion. “We like to be loud. Its easier for us in venues this size,” I remember them saying. Repeating bass chords and hook drawn guitar riffs mixed with a grungier blues/punk sound all walked up and down like an angry pirate strolling the ships deck. Their power and electricity was pretty undeniable as they everything but through themselves into their instruments. They were good. Real good. Better than I had hoped for, pumping out power and youthful feminine energy like it was hard candy. When I congratulated them they had just finished breaking down. “It was a good crowd. The Chicago crowd really responded,”said BIV’s drummer.
“Yes they did Benedicte, yes they did”


Chicago Music Festivals Interview With Ookay

Chicago Music Festivals got a chance to sit down with trap music producer Ookay. Throughout Miami Music Week, the hotly-tipped DJ showed off his mixing prowess during a surprise b2b set alongside Steve Aoki and Carnage at Dim Mak’s Nikki Beach party, then made his debut Ultra Music Festival appearance with a packed-out closing set on Saturday night. Ookay then unleashed his progressive house anthem “Echo” alongside Scott Sinjin which was premiered on Dancing Astronaut.

Music News

Interview with Caked Up

A year and a half after Caked Up catapulted onto the dance music scene thanks to their raucous online presence and viral content bravado, the Las Vegas duo signed to Dim Mak Records with fistfuls of party-starting tunes in tow.
The newly-minted partnership kicks off with the tandem’s upcoming electro stomper “Rave Police.” Out February 10, the percussion-driven release layers grungy synths and thumping bass kicks atop sexy vocal samples of a female cop asking listeners “did you come here to rave?”
Caked Up fans can get down to “Rave Police” live in all its stadium-smashing glory as the tag-team joins Dim Mak ringleader Steve Aoki for his Neon Future Experience Tour. Presented by Dim Mak and brought to you by Bud Light, the tour begins February 13 in Austin and canvasses North America for over 20 stops, hitting major markets including New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, Toronto and Boston.
After releasing records on tastemaking imprints such as Mad Decent, Fool’s Gold and Buygore, Caked Up has carved out a home for their notorious brand of rollicking antics. Their studio work is bass-fueled and drum-heavy, frequently furnished with chopped up vocal samples, jagged synths and unapologetically blistering drops. The pair’s monster original outputs are matched only by their officially-commissioned remixes for artists such as A-trak, The Chainsmokers and Flosstradamus.
Comprised of Oscar Wylde and his counterpart Vegas Banger, Caked Up is a homegrown internet sensation born through Oscar’s savvy self-promotion on Vine which earned him the undying adoration of 1.6 million followers to his personal account. Caked Up’s ever-ballooning social media empire aside, the duo is backed by 10+ years of combined DJ experience and an authentic performance chemistry that has ignited crowds at TomorrowWorld, Spring Awakening and Hangout Festival to name a few.
Whether they’re cranking out spine-shaking tracks or soundtracking dance floors across the country, Caked Up is on an unrepentant mission to inject their hallmark boisterous verve into electronic music’s history books.

Interview Music News

Eoto: What a Fantastic Voyage

Eoto never ceases to amaze me. I got the opportunity to see them multiple times in very different environments. Last month, they performed a two night run at Concord Music Hall in Chicago followed by a performance at University of Illinois – Campaign and last weekend they played a closing set at Suwannee Hulaween in Florida. All of these performances were custom to the crowd and its vibe.
Eoto consists of the dynamic duo, Michael Travis and Jason Hann. These cool cats are nothing short of being very talented musicians with an abstract sound that leaves a joyful humming in your ears. They are live performers and 100% improvised. Jason takes a noise, stretches and plays with it like someone playing with silly puddy. He loops these noises with sympathized beats and the duo ties it up in a bow with an energetic and well-crafted drum beat. The energy you feel during their performance is mind controlling and contagious.
Eoto plays anywhere from reggae to hip-hop to dance electronic to glitch. They have mastered their improvised sound by reading the crowd and switching it up as soon as they see their fans slowing their groove. Something that I have not seen done before was during their show in Chicago they were using the speakers as part of their visual canvas. People tend to focus too much on the lasers and less on the music but Eoto does a very nice job incorporating their music with the visuals so one element does not over power the other. They had a perfect blend of music without the visuals masking over our ability to enjoy the melodic improvised sounds that tend to give you goosebumbs. Some memorable highlights include their cover of Fantastic Voyage, incorporating the talk box and floating between house like dance music and raw gangsta drops.
When I go to shows I tend to judge a performance by how many Bernie moments there are and let’s just say my shoulders got quite the workout in every performance. If you come to an Eoto show be prepared to go on a fantastic voyage!
1. What ques from the crowd do you guys follow and how do you communicate shifts in song direction as a result?
You immediately see how people are dancing, if they’re throwing their bodies if they’re on cruise control. Body movements is a good tell-tale. Just how you watch dancers and see where they want to take it to the next place.
2. I noticed a lot of hip-hop influences in your Saturday night set at Concord Music Hall (I believe there was a line from Mase dropped in?). Do you have a favorite hip-hop artist?
Not really. We’re mindful 90’s hip hop and rap. There’s something about that whole era…Lauren Hill, Busta Rhymes,Tupac, Biggie.
3. Having attended Suwannee Hulaween, what’s a must-do at the festival grounds?
Similar to Electric Forest but Spirit Lake is the focal point. Go to Spirit Lake and lose yourself in the glow of the dark forest.

Interview Music News

Creature Carnival Artist Spotlight: Lafa Taylor

lafa taylorCreature Carnival tour is set to offer a show unlike anything we have yet seen. Along side the talents of Beats Antique, Shpongle and Emancipator, Lafa Taylor will cross the country with this one-of-a-kind spectacle of musical and theatrical bravado. Creature Carnival is the ultimate playground for Lafa to showcase his eclectic style and unique talent for blending upbeat hip hop with deep, bass music. With never before seen improvisation and collaboration, in conjunction with crowd participation, this weekend’s performance will be full of outrageous surprises that make add up to an experience that’s not to be missed or forgotten.
Grab your tickets here and catch this insanely interactive performance by Lafa Taylor alongside Beats Antique, Shpongle and Emancipator. They will be using elements that surpass any typical electronic show. You will be surrounded by great vibes and I promise you won’t be disappointed. If you can’t make it tonight – they’ll be back for a stellar finale on Sunday October, 18th!!
Don’t forget to  #CREATURECARNIVAL #CMFPIX we want to see all your lovely creature rage faces!
CMF interview with Lafa Taylor:
1. For those who are not familiar with your music, describe your sound/genre.
It’s a hybrid sound. If I had to describe my sound in a few words it would be “Three eyed space kitty laser beam music.” If I had to expound on the elements of my music the strongest would be bass, which is a sub-genre of EDM, hip-hop, live instrumentation and R&B. My performance will be me on the mic rapping and singing while incorporating a drum pad to make live beats.
2. Who are your three biggest musical influences that led to your music style?
I’m honestly influenced by everything. In music, I find inspiration in almost everything I listen to – I like all genres. Disclosure, Miguel, Bassnectar and the Beastie Boys if I had to pick artists I’m listening to a lot lately.
3. I noticed you’ll be incorporating hip hop elements in your set this weekend, can you elaborate?
I’ll be beat boxing, looping the beat box and build on that live. I’ll also be rapping, signing, controlling the crowd and maybe throw in a few pop lock moves.
4. What was it like working alongside Bassnectar in his Noise vs. Beauty album?
Awesome. We’ve been friends for quite a while. It was cool to finally work on a project together. We already have more collabs in the works. Excited to see the creative relationship grow.

5. Any advice for DJ’s starting out in the music industry?
Don’t do it, jk. Become a doctor. Yes I would say, “There are a lot of DJ’s out there already so really find what makes you unique and be sure to hone that skill as well. It could be just a unique selection but I’m a big proponent of people learning to produce as well so they can make their own music.”

6. What is your life mantra?
Try to stay in the moment and be thankful. Also, rage hard and sleep well.

Interview Music News

Bringing Out the Funk This 4.20

Freek Live 3 (1)Calling all funkateers! There’s a cool cat coming to Chicago that you don’t want to miss. Freekbass is the name and he’s bringing the REAL funk back to the game.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, OH, Freekbass has been playing music since he was about 10 and has always been fascinated by rhythm. Growing up in Cincinnati exposed Freekbass to some genres that he wouldn’t otherwise hear. While most kids were listening to Nirvana and Green Day, he connected with the bottom-heavy sounds coming out of the boom boxes like Zapp and Midnight Star.
Freekbass’ new album, Everybody’s Feelin’ Real, has tons of music legends in it. Accompanying him on the album are Joel “Razor Sharp” Johnson from Bootsy’s Rubberband, Kim Manning, Chip Wilson from George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic, Les Claypool collaborator Skerik, Big Bamn from Bootsy Collins’ Funk Unity Band, Jennifer Hartswick from Trey Anastasio Band and percussionist David Farris.
After listening to Freekbass’ new album, I have to say that I cannot wait to bump and groove at his dance party this 4.20. In my interview with Freekbass, he says his music can be classified under the broad term of “modern funk”. His set-up this weekend will include bass and live drums with electronic and DJ elements. “It is going to be electric dance and dirty.”
No confirmed music festivals yet but keep a look out because his funk train should definitely be hopping on the festival circuit soon.
For a post-holiday treat, join us this Sunday at Lincoln Hall. Grab your tickets here:
CMF interview with Freekbass:
1. What’s been your biggest challenge as a musician?
Playing music is always a challenge which is what makes it always exciting. The second you think you have it figured out, it takes you down a new path. The challenge is one of the big reasons we do it.
2. Who are your favorite musicians and/or main influences in music?
If I had to name three it would be Sly Stone, David Bowie, and Dr. Dre.
3. In what way does Dr. Dre influence your style? What’s your favorite Dr. Dre album?
Doggystyle by Snoop. The production on that album is incredible. I used to practice bass to that album for hours and hours as a kid. So much feel and tone in those bass lines.
4. I noticed that you’ve done a project with Adam Deitch, can you elaborate on that? Y
eah, Deitch produced a track on my last album called “Funkin All Nite” which we are playing live on this run:
Adam has grown up with a lot of Ohio funk influence even though he is a New York cat. Don’t find a lot of that out there. Great funkateer and happy to have worked with him on that, and always a great time when we get to jam at a festival.
5. How was working with members from Bootsy’s Rubberband/Funk Unity Band, George Clinton’s Parliament and Trey Anastasio on Everybody’s Feelin’ Real? I
ncredibly inspiring. Being able to write and lay down initial bed tracks with those funk stalwarts to get those feels and sounds is a great feeling. And when you are playing and writing with that level of musician. It brings your own writing and playing to another level.
6. What’s your life mantra?
Don’t get too high on the highs, and too low on the lows… keep even… like a robot

Interview Music News

Interview with Shapes and Colors

Shapes and Colors is a Chicago-based, live electro hip-hop collective that has been pushing the boundaries of Live Electronic Music since the summer of 2011. The band members are Ramsey Zabout aka RamZ (production/ableton), Matt Rezetko (drums/percussion/samples), Jeremy Williams (bass/moog/EFX), Dan Cantone (guitar/slide/EFX), and special guest Lucas Ellman (EWI/Sax/EFX). Shapes & Colors is a nontraditional hip-hop band that combines electronic and organic music. At any given performance, be prepared to groove to hip-hop, electro funk, nu-disco, down tempo and glitch hop. They also improvise and trade-off solos similar to a jazz fusion band while incorporating electronic sounds and vocal samples. They don’t have an MC, but everything is influenced by their go-to Hip Hop origins.
Pushing the boundaries of music genres is innovative and different. Like a composer orchestrating different layers within a symphony. We need different; it keeps us truckin’ forward.
CMF interview with RamZ :
1. What inspired you guys to make music together?
We’re inspired to make music together because we’re friends. We like hanging out, clowning around, making fun of each other. Making music together is just one aspect of our friendship.
2. How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
Since starting in 2011, our music has become much more about the live band and less about the beats. We started off as just a drummer and a producer. Since then, we’ve developed into a full band that incorporates electronic music production into our sound. We have started moving away from using a click track in some of our new stuff which is nice because it feels more natural and allows for more improvisation.
3. What has been your biggest challenge as a band?
Fusing organic music with electronic. It’s a constant learning experience for us.
4. How can fans-to-be gain access to your music?
Please download and stream our live recordings, demos, remixes, and beats here:
We also release mix tapes every few months of music that we’re currently listening to and inspired by. Some of the old ones can be found here:
5. Are you planning on playing at music festivals this summer?
Not sure if we have anything we can announce yet, but we love playing festivals and plan to play at least a few this year. Last year we played at Hyperion Music Festival in Spencer, IN for the first time – such a great small fest.
6. What’s your life mantra
“Keep it trill”

Catch Shapes and Colors
Saturday, March 29th at Bottom Lounge
21+ | $10 + fees Doors at 8pm | Show at 9pm
Dance Party Tickets -> available here