It’s Oct. 1, 2017 and that means Enter the Venture Magazine’s Issue #3 is out today! It features zenxienz on the cover as well as stories on the Ninkasi Brewery’s recording studio, the new Broke Royals music video that raises deaf awareness, the making of Lola’s latest EP and much, much more! Check it out the magazine here:
Ninkasi Brewing is not your typical brewery. With a strong focus on building community and promoting local musical talent with an in-house studio, Ninkasi stands out as a premier location for both beer and music. Today, ETV spoke with Ninkasi brand and experiential marketing director, James Book, and Beer is Love program manager, Emilie Hartvig, about how music and donation programs help Ninkasi Brewing stand out from the rest of the pack. Check out an EP released from the Ninkasi Studios here:
Ninkasi Brewing was co-founded by Jamie Floyd and Nikos Ridge in 2006. Together they used their combination of business and brewing skills to push Ninkasi to become the fastest growing craft brewery in the United States. The brewery has expanded its operations over the years while keeping a focus on helping the community, whether through its donations program or by helping local musicians produce records with an inhouse recording studio.
James Book, Ninkasi brand and experiential marketing director with two decades of experience in the music industry, operates Ninkasi Studios and provides expertise to Ninkasi partnered artists at no charge. He said the idea for Ninkasi Brewing to include a proper studio happened organically since the brewery already supported local artists through music production, recording, album pressing sponsorships and assistance in tours and bookings.
“In the early days of the company our former CEO and I intended to build a studio and then Total Domination IPA exploded in popularity in the NW,” Book said. “As marketing director at that time, I continued to sponsor bands with production time and pressing etc. and they organically would spread the word about us on tour. Bars and their fans took interested in the story and we made new account partners and new customers as result.”
The music produced at Ninkasi Studios is a mix of local, regional, national, and international talent. Book said Ninkasi has close partnerships with various artists and they call them first when looking for bands or solo artists to appear at new beer launch party tours and other events.
“We work the most closely with bands from SoCal, Washington and Oregon, naturally, but we have enjoyed working with others from further away including the amazing Gayle Skidmore who now lives in The Netherlands,” Book said.
The equipment in the studio includes the essentials of what any proper recording studio should have, from mics, a collection of restored vintage and modern instruments, and amps with a digital audio workstation running Pro Tools. Book said they work primarily “in the box.”
“Plus, it’s inside a brewery so the artists tend to appreciate that detail. No beer for the drummer until the drum tracks are laid!” Book said.
The first original musical offering to come out of Ninkasi Studios was the “Dawn of the Red Compilation EP” released in September 2015. The collection included music from Vokab Kompany + Kraddy, Sapient, Black Beast Revival, and Tyler Fortier, among others. The artists chosen for this compilation were specifically chosen based on where they were from.
“For the ‘Dawn of the Red Compilation,’ which was a concept record, we intentionally chose bands of completely different ‘flavor’/genres from specific target cities in line with our local strategies in those areas and asked them each to write a song called ‘Dawn of The Red,’” Book said. “They obviously asked ‘What should it be about?’ but we told them to authentically interpret it themselves and just include the phrase ‘Dawn of The Red’ in their songs’ choruses as it related to their lyrical themes. The album came out great and we pressed vinyl that the bands could sell on tour and that we could use at account promotions such as bar event giveaways and so forth.”
Ninkasi Studios has made several compilations allowing the artist to write an original song based on the name or theme of the flavor. The latest was the “Pacific Rain Compilation” base off the Pacific Rain Northwest Pale, which is crafted with lava-filtered water from the McKenzie River Watershed. The compilation features up-and-coming and established artists from the region performing Bluegrass, Roots and Americana music.
“Pacific Rain was a NW-centric beer release focusing on our quality of life up here,” Book said. “Given that we were also sponsoring Northwest String Summit bluegrass festival in overlap to the commemorative ‘Pacific Rain Compilation,’ we opted to make an entirely string/acoustic album in commemoration of the beer’s release where many of the artists we featured on the album also performed at the festival.”
Ninkasi Studios’ work in recording and producing indie and established artists has allowed the area of Eugene to gain more recognition as a legitimate place where talented musical artists can go to record. In turn, these bands also spread the word about Ninkasi, making the relationship beneficial for both sides.
Book said Ninkasi does not sell their artist’s music but they do use it internally for content and video soundtracks that are produced and they also offer the music to their non-profit partners to use as soundtrack for their promotional videos. Overall, Ninkasi Brewing is aware of the powerful combination that is beer and music can have and using it to help propel local artists in an intriguing way.
BEER IS LOVE
Floyd and Ridge have always made it a point to make donations part of their brewing culture. After donating beer to the community here and there, Ninkasi set up a donation programs called Beer is Love that offers beer donations to registered non-profit organizations.
“While the main focus of Beer is Love is to donate beer to non-profits, we also integrate an employee volunteer program,” said Beer is Love program manager, Emilie Hartvig. “If an employee wants to volunteer for a local organization, we work with them to make it happen. If there is a volunteer opportunity during the work week, we ensure that they are still able to get paid for their job while taking a couple hours out of their day to give back to a cause they care about.”
The program has worked with many types of non-profits. It recently narrowed its focus on the “Beer is Love DNA,” supporting non-profits doing work in five core categories: women, equality, recreation, the environment, and arts and music. Some of the non-profits they have worked with include McKenzie River Trust, HIV Alliance, SOMArts, Team River Runner, and Women Who Code. Beer is Love has found success in donating in progressive non-profits and it plans to continue doing more events in the future.
“We are a part of all kinds of events,” Hartvig said. “In the next couple weeks, we are donating to a concert in the park, an art exhibit opening, a local beer festival, and a small private celebration. The donations for these events range anywhere from four and a half barrel kegs to two cases.”
For anyone interested in getting involved with Beer is Love, visit the donations website at Ninkasi. To learn more about all the incredible beer and music related news going on at Ninkasi Studios, check them out at Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, and their official site.
Sydney Lauren has recently released a new EP titled “Left in Motion,” a five-track record that covers both happy and sad songs. Sydney spoke with ETV today about the making of her EP, the meaning behind her songs and her plans for touring. Check out the track “Haunt Me” here:
Sydney grew up in a town called Harrison outside a New York City, a place that no doubt left an impression on her.
“I was definitely influenced by New York, living so close to the city gave me opportunities that opened my eyes to different music, art and experiences,” Sydney said. “It has an energy to it that will always influence me, I love it!”
Sydney wrote all the songs on “Left in Motion” in about five months, with another five months to fully complete the recordings. Sydney’s lyrics and melody found a home with co-writer Tad Kubler from the band The Hold Steady, who wrote and produced the music. The result is a collection of pop tracks and introspective ballads that showcase Sydney’s distinct vocals and hard-hitting lyrics.
“I’m so happy to finally have the music out after sitting with it for so long, now people can hear what I was working so hard on!” Sydney said.
The making of the EP was both challenging and liberating, as creativity and concentration became the focus during the recording sessions.
“I like the creativity that is constantly happening during recording,” Sydney said. “You have all the tools to test out new ideas which is always really fun. I found the hardest part to be the final vocals. It can be hard to fully emote when you’re singing in a silent room by yourself. We weren’t going to stop until they were the best they could be!”
One listen of the EP will evoke a multitude of emotions for any listener. “Haunt Me” is a song about leaving the past behind and not letting it linger on to haunt the present. The universal appeal is enough to hook new listeners, but it’s the deep meaning that goes beyond the surface that will keep them coming back for more. Sydney spills her heart out on this track and although she can write a happy song, she said the sad ones come out much stronger.
“I always like to make sure there is a big message or lesson learned in a song,” Sydney said. “It should make a point!”
A song on the EP that is more on the political side is “Save Us,” inspired by the 2016 Orlando shooting. See the video here:
The lyrics are in reaction to the terror that many felt after the incident occurred and how love and compassion will always outweigh hate. Her lyric “One shot to the masses / Builds stronger passion” demonstrates the real-life response of how people came together to comfort those in pain. The depth in Sydney’s lyrical approach is her greatest talent and we look forward to what’s in store for her next release. In the foreseeable future, Sydney plans on touring to share her songs to a greater audience around the world.
“I am hoping touring will occur in the next 12 months!” Sydney said. “I love performing and want to share these songs with people every day!”
Melbourne singer-songwriter AJ Steel is an upcoming talent from down under who is turning heads with his catchy tunes and pop rock style. Today, AJ spoke with ETV about his early influences, the making behind his latest single, and his writing style. Check out his single “Love You When It’s Bad” here:
Some of AJ’s influences growing up were Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and classical music, even going so far as falling asleep while listening to the 1812 Overture back in the day after a morning in the waves. So, it’s no surprise that he would enjoy the likes of “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys. He’s also a fan of The Beatles, U2, and Bob Dylan, all artists who are known for their memorable and deep lyrics. Although he is a skilled performer today, he stated that he didn’t start getting into music as early as most musicians do.
“I was probably a bit of a late starter when it comes to music,” AJ said. “I used to play the piano by ear when I was about 10 or 11, then I got side-tracked into surfing. I lived on the coast and it was a real beach town. Everyone seemed to surf there. So, I didn’t get serious about it until I was about 16.”
Since then, he has established himself as a prolific songwriter. His songs have been added to satellite radio with more than 3 million listeners, have been used in independent films out of Los Angeles, and have received national airplay on commercial radio in Australia along with numerous internet radio stations worldwide.
AJ’s music is a mix of the alternative rock sound mixed with the endearing qualities of a good pop song. “Love You When It’s Bad” is an introspective track tinged with hope hanging on each note of the piano ballad. The song soars high in the second half with a full band sound and lyrical inspiration about how much people are prepared to go through to chase after the one they love.
“The song probably took about four months to do,” AJ said. “I’d work on it then have to put it away and then come back to it. I just couldn’t nail down the story for that one. I kind of knew what I wanted to say but it took some time to reveal itself. Some of them come quickly and some of them just take time. There’s not much you can do about it, you just have to keep working on it if you believe the idea has integrity. The recording and production process took some time as well. I tried all sorts of instrumentation and arrangements until I found an arrangement that worked.”
Indeed, it worked, and the story does present itself naturally as the song develops. Like many songs, parts of the production were easy to work on while other parts were either challenging or difficult. One challenge was making a song that covered new ground while also retaining elements of what made his previous work stand out.
“I don’t like to go over what feels like old ground, but sometimes you have to if you want to bring a song to life,” AJ said. “Sometimes you just fight it, you shouldn’t, but sometimes you just do.”
His latest song is just one of many songs he has done before. As a solo artist, AJ has released an EP and four singles, and from his previous band, he has released an EP and an album. To create his songs, he mostly creates them in his studio but is open to collaborating more.
“Music is more fun when there’s other people in the process, but so far I’ve kind of locked myself away,” AJ said. “After going solo, I really wanted to find my sound, what I wanted to say as an artist and that took a lot of time to dig right down and find the real artist I wanted to be. So, I had to lock myself away to do that.”
Overall, AJ Steel is a name to lookout for. He is currently working on two brand new singles, with one of them due out this month and another in the writing stage. As time keeps ticking, AJ will keep writing, recording and releasing new songs that will touch the hearts of many. His next big hit is just around the corner, and we hope you’re there when it arrives.
Folk and indie singer-songwriter Gayle Skidmore recently released her 20th independent release, which also happens to be her first full length vinyl album. She described the album as “whimsical, melancholic music for the romantic intellectual.” After following trends and chasing after deals to be successful through the industry channels, she has moved on to find something that works out for her, and “The Golden West” is about finding her own voice and creating music straight from her soul. ETV spoke with Gayle about the making of her album, creating adult coloring books, and her plans for touring this year.
Classically trained on the piano from the age of 4, and having written more than 2,000 songs since age 8, Gayle was destined to achieve a prestigious musical career no matter how she went about it. Her toolset includes a majestic voice that is delicate enough to accurately portray her penned musings and strong enough to portray the feeling behind those words. She also plays a number of varying instruments, ranging from electric guitar, banjo, ukulele, flute, marimba, organ, mandolin, ocarina, accordion, trumpet, percussion, and many more you’ve probably never heard of. Gayle believes anyone can learn any instrument if they dedicate the time it takes to learning music theory, confirming that even with her exceptional musical ability, it takes time to be great in your craft.
Gayle writes original material about the highs and lows in life with musical inspirations coming from Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Damien Rice, and other artists who are are bold in their songwriting or elaborate on-stage antics. This has clearly left an impression on her and has opened the door for self-expression to the fullest. Gayle’s talents have attracted other top-tier musicians who enjoy touring or recording with her, as she has opened for the likes of Jason Mraz, Lisa Loeb, Steve Martin, Sean and Sara Watkins, Sam Phillips, Coeur d’Pirate, and many others and has recorded with such artists as The Softlightes, Bushwalla, Jason Mraz and Tyrone Wells.
Her impressive music career is an outlet to express the different stories that come from a tumultuous life, an experience that she finds personally fulfilling. It has led her to winning multiple awards, from Best Pop in the 2015 San Diego Music Awards, Best Pop Album for “Sleeping Bear” in 2014, and Best Singer-Songwriter in 2013. However, despite her successes, her new album was written as the roadmap of moving on from heartache and loss. Gayle’s first full length vinyl album “The Golden West” (her 20th independent release) was originally planned to be an E.P. but quickly turned into a full-length in 2015 following her extensive touring across the U.S. The personal journey that Gayle went through is beautify captured in the 10-track indie pop album that was recorded in legendary studio Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree, Singing Serpent in San Diego, and at Ninkasi Studios—a recording studio built right inside a Eugene, Oregon brewery.
“Eugene has felt like a second, though much weirder, home for the past few years since I have been collaborating with Ninkasi Brewing, so recording at Ninkasi Studios felt super comfortable right from the start,” Gayle said. “It doesn’t get much better than having Ninkasi on tap right outside the studio door, as well as nitro Stumptown coffee for a nice pick-me-up during late night sessions. They have a killer setup there and it was so much fun to work with James Book on the album.”
All the songs on the album make up the story of how she overcame loss, from the opening track’s “Pale Ghosts” that deals with the struggle of letting go of people we’ve lost and feeling afraid to move on to “Beautiful Soul,” a song about falling in love and working up the courage to confess your feelings. As the album flows on, lyrical themes cover topics about leaving the past behind, feeling nostalgic of what was left behind, and the fear of moving forward but having the commitment to journey with a trusted companion.
“I penned the chorus to a song I’d been working on while the sun set on the old mining town of Sonora, California,” Gayle said. “I knew immediately that this would be my single and title track for my upcoming album. The chorus’ lyrics, ‘Let’s bury all we put to rest in the golden west,’ captured the spirit of the record. Since I was contemplating a move to Amsterdam at the time, it seemed only fitting that this album about letting go would be titled after the song that talked directly about leaving California.”
The first song on side B is considered a turning point in the ongoing narrative with the track “How to Let You Go,” which is about getting rid of nostalgic memorabilia that hinder us from taking hold of our future. Following that is “Honey Bee,” a pop song about the first pure happy day after long years of pain with “Moving On” serving as a celebration to completely let go of painful parts of the past. The final two songs, “The Hallows” and “Only Ever You” deal with making peace with the ghosts of the past and finding a different way to look at the painful years in the rear view mirror. Overall, the record was a dissection of a troubling time and the recording of it took its toll on her, though it eventually became a very cathartic experience that saved her perseverance.
“The week before my wedding I was still finishing vocals for the album, which was pretty insane,” Gayle said. “One year, four cities, and four producers later, we finally had an album. Finishing it has been one of the most challenging things I’ve done.”
The album was also released as a full-length vinyl, making the listening of the journey an intimate one.
“It’s been a dream come true for me to release a full-length vinyl album—especially one that comes in all different colours,” Gayle said. “I have always preferred listening to vinyl albums. I know that there is still a lot of debate about the quality of sound on an LP versus a CD and that it’s very subjective. For me, it’s the comfort that comes with the experience, the magic of nostalgia and the familiarity of the crackle that make it extra special. When I was little and dreaming of being a musician, I never imagined that I’d actually get to hear my own album on vinyl.”
Gayle was proud of everyone who worked on the project because she said they brought their best effort and caught the vision of what the final product could be. During the recording process, the sound of the album had changed from its original intention but at the same time, that was exactly what she was hoping for.
In addition to music, an important part of the Gayle listening experience is the appreciation of the artwork featured on all her albums that she does all herself, even going so far as releasing coloring books to go along with her music. “The Golden West” is her third album to feature an adult coloring book with each picture depicting a different song.
“My artwork has become increasingly important over the years and I’ve begun to focus on it a lot more, especially with The Golden West colouring book,” Gayle said. “I began creating adult colouring books with my albums in 2010 with my first full-length, ‘Make Believe,’ and at the time it was more about having something interactive than really making an artistic statement. Since then I have invested a lot more time in my artwork as I did more and more research about the benefits of colouring. For this last colouring book, my third, I actually won an artist grant, which felt like a huge affirmation for me. I have worked hard to create my own special aesthetic to complement my music, and I feel inspired to pursue that more and more.”
With the album complete, she sets out to go on tour and share to the world the songs she has finished. Gayle recently moved to Amsterdam from San Diego and is still building a steady lineup in her new homeland. She has been on tour with her San Diego band and still performs with them when she is in the States.
“Blalock and Erdis Maxhelaku, who’ve played on several albums and countless shows, are my cellist and violinist in the states, and I’ve got Daniel Crawford on lead guitar, Dave Carano on bass and Danny Campbell on drums,” Gayle said. “All of them have been with me for several years and I’ll be performing with them again in the fall when I tour the States again. I’m hoping to bring them to Amsterdam soon!”
Gayle is planning to tour in both the United States and Europe, making it quite the finale to a busy 2017.
“I am planning another tour in the States this fall, but before then I’ve got a bunch of European dates on the books!” Gayle said. “I’m pairing up with my pal Arlan Feiles, who’s heading to Europe from L.A. for a few shows, and then heading home to head up the west coast. I’m also releasing a new music video for ‘Pale Ghosts’ very soon.”
Gayle has moved on from an aching past that was tough to endure and we appreciate her making an album about her experiences and taking us along with her. Only time will tell what venture lies ahead for Gayle but one thing’s for certain: we want to take every step along with her no matter where she goes.