Friday, September 30, 2016

Nøise - Music

Nøise is what happens when a brilliant modern visual artist, innovative DJ’s and a cadre of incredibly experienced musicians join forces to make some very appealing audio magic. The results are more than just mere music and beyond the promise of normal mortal bands. With more songs to listen to right now than there are stars in the sky, why should your average enthusiast pay attention to this highly anticipated musical creation?

Because Nøise’s latest EP is a shining promise of what we have to anticipate from the band in the future. “Little Lions,” one of the tracks on the EP, is as complex and intriguing as the music video that accompanies it. Taunt with tension, haunted by the ghost of the song’s own spectral promise of love, sadness and regret, the song is perfect for a night where you just want to drink hard liquor and think about the good times, the bad times, and the shadowy spaces between as the party moves on around you.

“Little Lions” is dark yet deliciously upbeat from the tantalizing start to a hypnotic reverberating finish. The song moves at a brisk pace, punctuated by accelerated beats, prancing guitars and synthetic reverberations that keep you wondering until the very last note. There are songs within this song, places where the changes transfix you, similar to hellish faerie light manifesting like sonoluminescence from some mesmerizing siren song, part psychic, part demonic, transfixing you with hypnotic, sensual rapture. Nøise knows how to hex the listener because the magicians behind the band have been captivating us for decades. Their names and creations are already legendary.

You are certainly familiar with the artist known as Shepard Fairey, probably because of the famous Barack Obama “Hope” image and the somewhat disturbing Obey Giant logo campaign, which featured WWF star Andre “The Giant” staring down at you within a symbol that brought to mind both 1984 and the horror film They Live by John Carpenter. However, Fairey is also a music DJ, as capable of manipulating Serato and MP3’s as he is line and color, which is how the idea for the band Nøise incarnated.

Fairey contacted many other musicians to make Nøise happen including DJ’s and artists known for their futuristic, visionary achievements such as Moby, Crystal Method, Phil Hartnoll, Tim Armstrong, DJ Z-Trip, Nico and Touch, SSI, John Goff, Merritt Lear, Joe Cassidy and Ravi Zupa. The art for the EP’s album cover is worth spending money to own, featuring a bold black, gold and red design with a lion standing triumphantly in the center, a fitting visual proclamation for a band whose veterans are so already independently accomplished. I already want to own the t-shirt.

To celebrate the first EP release from Nøise, Fairey himself hosted a release party at the Subliminal Projects gallery in Los Angeles, where he put his years of experience as a DJ to work performing for an audience of enthusiastic friends, fans and family. A visual artist composing music? Why not? In a recent interview with the magazine known as Rolling Stone, Fairey said, "Iggy paints and David Bowie painted. Z-Trip can throw a tag down like you wouldn't believe. A lot of my heroes in music are people who dabbled in art," Fairey says. "Our culture likes people to stay in their lane. I'm fine to be an irritant by not staying in my lane."

In contrast to “Little Lions”, another song on the EP, “Automatic,” remixed by Moby, is vibrant, spontaneous and positive. Bouncing with digital glee, electrified with evocative beats, vocals and chords that whirl and prance, “Automatic” is a smart reminder that the band known to us as Nøise has a lot more music to offer because the people that comprise it are as talented as they are diverse. 

Musician Joe Cassidy has mentioned that Joe Strummer and Lee “Scratch” Perry have been some of his inspirations while working on the project. “Not so much in terms of their music exactly, but more like, ‘What would these two think of these songs in 2016?’” Your audience empathizes, Cassidy. More Nøise ASAP, please.

Subliminal Projects:

Monday, September 26, 2016

Matisyahu - Music

If you are a reggae enthusiast you have already heard about Matisyahu, an artist certainly under the influence of the Jamaican musical style but also famous for his brilliant rap ability, keen rock instincts, and the basic fact that the man started his career going on stage in full old-school Hassidic Jewish regalia, including a beard that would have made the dwarven warrior Gimli from The Lord of the Rings jealous.

This one-of-a-kind look wasn’t a gimmick, Matthew Paul Miller, aka Matisyahu (which means “Gift of God”) truly was a Hassidic Jew and devout member of the Lubavitch movement, regularly attending a synagogue located within the Upper West Side of New York City, studying the torah by day and perfecting his reggae style by night. Audiences across America could identify with the spiritual overtones that adroitly threaded the fabric of Matisyahu’s music, and within a few albums he was a commercial success, largely because of 2007’s Youth and the hit single “King Without a Crown.”

Since then many august media entities such as Esquire and Billboard magazine have extolled his virtues, and in 2007 a documentary he appeared in called Unsettled won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature at the Slamdance Film Festival. Years later, Matisyahu has shed his traditional garments and shaved his beard, neither his religious beliefs nor his musical ability suffered for it. Fans of his music liked him with or without the tzitzit, and years later he’s on tour for Akeda, his seventh album, which ended up on the iTunes Top 10 only a week after it hit the internet.

Akeda is an album that will thrill the newcomer and tantalize the long-term fan of Matisyahu. Tracks like “Surrender” contain an almost minimalist synthesizer beat that underscores a paean about winning and living life with appropriate humility, cunningly rapped and mindfully articulated. “Confidence,” featuring the uniquely talented Collie Buddz, is a bold declaration made bolder still by a steady, haunting backbeat that blares and warps, accompanied by chords that skank and an attitude that is sound as it is sure, with just enough dub to make it authentic.

If his previous accomplishments are any sort of indicator, Matisyahu is still in the midst of a very successful musical career. Culture magazine was fortunate enough to speak with the artist about his present successes and future endeavors.

Thank you very much for speaking with me. I’m sure you are probably worn out by all the touring. How are you doing today? Is this a good time to be Matisyahu?

Today I’m doing good. I just flew in, so I’m talking to you from outside the airport. We’re currently on the third day of the “Built to Survive” tour. We are moving on to North Carolina after this. My kids are visiting me tonight, so I’m looking forward to seeing them since I haven’t seen them for a while.

That’s cool that you get to catch up with your family while you are on the road. I’ve spoken to a lot of celebrities who really miss their families when they are on the road. It’s been a while since you, for lack of a better description, changed your image by shaving the beard and dressing differently. Looking back now, were you ever worried that the change in appearance would alienate fans that were just on the fringe?

I guess it depends on what you consider a fan to be. The people that are real fans of the music are more interested in what the music does to them and the emotions I’m trying to express when I’m performing. But there are people who are more fans of the look, instead of the message. They might feel alienated about the change in appearance, but I’m a musician, not just an image.

The people that are the real fans that I’ve had for several years are the people who became true fans because of my music and who I am. They aren’t along for just one song or album or a beard. The image I used to have was cool, but at the end of the day you just have to do what you do and make music in order to express yourself. If it resonates with people you get afforded the opportunity to continue making music, regardless of your music.

Let’s be honest, you had a big, bold beard before anyone thought it was trendy or cool to have one. What do you think of the latest facial hair craze amongst the young hipsters of America? Do you think that your former image might have been an influence on the trend?

I think it’s cool. I like beards. They are a lot of fun. But I do wonder, though. Because so much of the hipster craze came out of the Broadway scene out in New York City.  I sometimes think the scenes there come from different cultures being so close to each other that they all kind of influence each other. I really do think the beard came from the Hassidic Jews in that area, maybe from the north side. They were hanging out with their friends, and because they were growing beards maybe it made other people grow them, too, because they thought it looked cool.

That’s a very good point. I never thought of that, but it makes sense. I could imagine some of the Jewish kids growing beards and influencing their friends, so it became popular.  Now, Akeda is your latest album. What does it have that fans can look forward to?

It’s the best music I’ve made. The lyrics are deep, the songs are meaningful, hopeful, but dealing with the real human culture around us and the world we live in. The people who have a feel for the album will really enjoy how the songs can strengthen and empower them. I’m very happy with it.

Where did you get the idea for the name?

The album’s name came from the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac. Towards the end of his life Abraham brought his son Isaac to the top of a mountain to be sacrificed to God. There’s a lot of correlation and connections to my own life. Abraham hears the voice of God. He tries to do whatever he thinks he needs to do for God, as hard as it can be. The album is about the sacrifices that are made to succeed in life, the pain and faith you have to have to make it, no matter who you are…that’s the gist of it. But the album also talks about how there can always be reconciliation between fathers and sons, parents and children. There can always be hope.

Are there other musical genres you’d like to explore?

I think I just keep listening to music similar to what I do now. I like the classics including reggae, rock and roll and rap. When I prepare to write a record, the music I listen to determines what kind of record I write. I can’t think of any other genre I want to explore right now, aside from what I’m doing at the moment. I still have a lot to say with the genre I’m in right now.

Where do you want to be, ten years from now? What do you want your career to be like by then?

I’d like to continue to do what I do. I’d like to continue to make records freely and have creative control over what I do. I love the people I work with…my agent, and my fans. I’m really happy with what we’ve been blessed with and what we’ve created over the years. We’re very close because we live in tight quarters and living in strange places around the Earth together. We’re making money and dreams all over. Over the years I’ve been able to sift through a lot of different people and end up with friends I trust. We’re like a family. This record was produced by my best friend, Stu, the bass player for my band, and I’ve known him for years.

You are also an accomplished film actor. How did you get into that? I saw the horror film The Possession, and you really are a complete natural. Your acting and look was perfect for your role in the movie.

Well, there was a movie that was made called The Possession where this man finds a demon in a box that has its roots in Hassidic culture. They wanted an exorcist Rabbi type to show up at the end of the film. Somebody thought I should do it, so they brought me in. I was always interested in acting, so it was a lot of fun.

Are you working on any other future films? Will your fans be able to see you on the big screen in 2014 or beyond?

I would like to do more acting, but right now I’m on the road for a few months. I’ve been travelling a lot for this tour, so I haven’t had the time to do any film acting. Hopefully I’ll be able to do more films in the future, once my schedule allows for it.

Speaking as an experienced artist, how is film acting similar to performing and making music?

The gist of it is in any art…I felt this way with the acting as well…is that you have to lose yourself in the moment, submerge yourself in the creative vision, the expression of emotion you want to share. That’s the same thing you do with film acting, but you just have the lines to work with.

I like how you compare the dialogue in a film to the lyrics in a song. I can imagine that both would access the same emotional energy. They both take the same artistic attitude. You’ve made music on both the east coast and the west coast, in NYC and LA. Do you notice a difference between the two places?

My experience in New York and LA was very different because of where I was in my life when I was making music in New York. I mostly know musicians in New York and do producing. But in LA I know more people who are in the film industry, or who are producers, as opposed to being just musicians.

What do you think about cannabis? Is it a good thing, a bad thing, or just a lot of hype over nothing?

I think it’s like anything else…it has positive qualities and negative qualities. It can help and hurt. I think that it’s certainly harmless, and in terms of it being legal it shouldn’t be. I’ve come across marijuana a lot, especially because I make reggae music and from being in New York City, so it doesn’t bother me.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Cannabis Film Festival - Film

Kellie Butterfield Dodds is the proud CEO and founder of the 2nd annual Cannabis Film Festival, an event held in Garberville, California on April 23rd and the 24th that presents movies featuring cannabis, whether it is a documentary, comedy, drama, short film or anything in between. “This is my baby. I am very grateful that I am able to present a ‘Hollywood meets Humboldt’ festival that presents cannabis with a level of professionalism that is a different face than the usual weed events,” says Dodds.

When Dodds moved from the Los Angeles corporate world to Humboldt County, deep in the nexus of the Emerald Triangle, she was already an accomplished businesswoman with a few successful multimillion dollar enterprises on her resume. “I relocated with my partner and spent twenty-five years enjoying the culture out here,” she says. “I wanted to bring a different perspective.” That means presenting an event that shows films which present cannabis in a sophisticated manner that draws respect as opposed to the usual cartoonish events that present cannabis as a punch line to a joke. “Last year we presented a film called Midnight Delight, set in an afterhour’s party at a lounge in some metropolis. People meet, smoke and joint, and just communicate.”

Set in the verdant evergreen that is the forested Eden of Northern California, the 2nd Annual Cannabis Film Festival offers participants, vendors, attendees and celebrities to enjoy an event that is as close to nature as it is far from the city. “The event is still very Humboldt, very casual. We’re not black tie yet, but there is an open invitation to anyone in the industry” Dodds says. “I am modeling this after the Sundance Film Festival, but set in an open air town that is very natural, very beautiful. You get to walk around in the fresh air, eat great food and hang out with fun people next to a redwood forest.”

The Cannabis Film Festival is a way for filmmakers to present their art with both the people who enjoy their art and the people who present it. Dodds has worked to go beyond the normal cartoonish cannabis movies to show films that present cannabis in a positive light that will serve to entertain as well as inform. “It is an opportunity for local film makers. We are a festival for independent film makers that want to attract distributors and supporters. One of our judges is also a producer in Hollywood that helps in the event. We have very professional criteria for how we judge films,” she says. “We offer an award for the best film based on what the judges pick, and then there is a viewer’s choice award where the audience votes. Afterwards, everyone hangs out with the creators and provides feedback.”

Dodds is assisted by a group of people known as “Team Awesome,” including her partner Cheryl Voutour, who has spent a decade farming organic cannabis in the Humboldt area after moving from Orange County, where she was successful in the mortgage industry. Also included is Bobby Black, former Senior Editor of High Times Magazine, and presenter during the awards ceremony.

What makes the even unique in comparison to other Hollywood awards ceremony is that it will be 420 friendly. “We have a huge smoking area and even a doctor on site who will qualify you.” Existing to woo industry executives with the big bucks to fund films and mentor young creators, Dodds is proud of the event’s incredible VIP lounge. “We only have room for one hundred people in the lounge, and we offer lavish accommodations, luxury catering and a professional dining experience.” 

Her dream is to expand the two day event into a weeklong affair that could someday be presented internationally. “We learned a lot in our first year. We built a commodity that is now valuable. Next we are going to turn it into a global event,” Dodds says.

You can find additional information, including ways to participate in the event as a film maker, vendor or more, at