Mario Jose – Solo Artist Interview

Mario Jose’s debut EP “Heart of Gold” is a six-song collection that showcases the rising pop singer’s best talents. ETV spoke with Mario about his musical inspirations, the Kickstarter campaign behind the making of his EP, and his plans for the future. Check out the EP here:

Mario’s journey as a singer comes at a very young age, picking up inspiration from his idols that include Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Donny Hathaway and Mariah Carey. However, his first and most important influence in shaping up who he is today was his mom.

“My mom is a singer herself, so she was my first musical inspiration,” Mario said. “If you ask my mom, she said I was singing in the womb. As long as I can remember, I was interested in singing. The first recording of me singing was at 2.5 years old into my parents Dictaphone and I haven’t shut up since.”

Mario would go on to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston and was a part of the award-winning a cappella group Pitch Slapped. He moved to Los Angeles after graduating to pursue a career in music.

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Photo via MarioJoseMusic.com / KD Photo

Mario’s latest EP “Heart of Gold” EP is the result of a crowdfunding effort to help pay the costs of producing the record. Mario and his manager Ryan Aceto (AMMO Management) both knew they needed to raise money through a grassroots effort because they were completely independent without a label. They ultimately decided on the website Kickstarter, a website that helps a creator raise funds to complete whatever project they are trying to bring to reality.

“Ryan did tons of research about all of the different sites we could use and we thought Kickstarter was the right fit for us, which in the end was absolutely the case!” Mario said. “I was very surprised to see that we reached our goal nine days early. With that extra time, we could keep pushing the limits of what we could do! I was also super surprised to see friends that I haven’t seen in AGES coming through and contributing to the project.”

Mario describes the EP as primarily pop, with several genres and influences coming through in each song. He said when he was writing the EP, he wanted to collaborate with some of his favorite artists to talk about real life experiences that affect many people daily, such as unrequited love, bullying, and trying to fit in and finding your own voice. These were important topics for Mario to discuss and would help his audience relate to his music. Ultimately, when his first solo project was finally released, it was a goal Mario had been dreaming of for a very long time.

“I was so excited for this EP for many reasons, but mainly because it was my first solo project I had ever released,” Mario said. “I think my favorite part was seeing so many people come together to help me make my dream come true. I will always say ‘we’ when talking about ‘Heart of Gold’ because it was a labor of love of so many people.”

Mario’s excited about the release of his EP, but that’s only the beginning of his ongoing journey. He recently released his newest cover single of Charlie Puth’s “Attention” featuring singer-songwriter Madilyn Bailey and video editor Kurt Hugo Schneider. Check out the video here:

When it comes to touring, Mario has shared the stage and studio with music icons including Pentatonix (opening for them on tour), Prince, Justin Bieber, Meghan Trainor (New Orleans Jazz Fest 2017), John Legend (NBC’s Duets), Michael McDonald, Philip Bailey (of Earth, Wind & Fire), John Elefante (of Kansas), Jim Peterick (of Survivor), Bill Champlin (of Chicago), Paula Cole, Lalah Hathaway, Ben E. King, Post Modern Jukebox and many more.

This year, Mario performed original music on tour for the first time on the Heart Hope & Love Tour with Travis Atreo and the Filharmonic, and they will be performing at the Brick & Mortar in San Francisco on July 13. Get your tickets here! 

“We sold out the L.A. show and now I’m excited to travel to San Francisco, Chicago and tons of other cities performing songs from ‘Heart of Gold’!” Mario said. “In between tour dates, I’ll be back in the studio writing and recording for the next project! Can’t wait!”

To stay up to date with all things Mario Jose, be sure to check him out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, YouTube, iTunes and his official site.

Lucy & La Mer – Band Interview

Los Angeles-based indie artist Lucy & La Mer is out with a new single “Honey, Put Your Weapons Down,” a pop ballad filled with folk inspirations. ETV spoke with Lucy LaForge about the new song’s meaning, collaborating with a Grammy-award winning producer, and working with women’s rights organizations.

Lucy is a singer and activist who has crafted a signature indie folk style through her calming voice and baritone ukulele. Growing up, she said her dad always had a guitar around and her family encouraged her to try new instruments.

“I would sit at the piano after school to decompress and escape from homework for a while,” Lucy said. “I wasn’t comfortable singing in front of people until a few years ago, though.”

Lucy’s strongest musical influences are Feist, Kate Nash, Beirut, Spice Girls, and Lesley Gore. With a varied mix of artists to incorporate elements into her own original sound, she went out and created Lucy & La Mer as a solo project. The project would grow to include a few other key members.

“I met bassist Jon Keenan at a music media event in L.A.,” Lucy said. “He said he played upright bass and I thought that was the coolest. We just recently added drummer Sheldon Reed after meeting him through a mutual friend and we’re really excited to have him on board.”

Lucy & La Mer released the “Little Spoon” EP in 2015, which went on to receive acclaim from various outlets. Transitioning into her recent single “Honey, Put Your Weapons Down,” Lucy’s trademark pop melodies, folk instrumentation, and honest lyrics make a return in full force. The single is commentary about a relationship that is stuck in a rut. Lucy revealed that most of her songwriting occurs during a period of change in her life, and this song shows how she can take an event in her life and turn it into a piece of art.

“We naturally fall into patterns and routine, which can be comfortable, but not the best for personal growth,” Lucy said. “I’d left an unhealthy relationship when I wrote this, after realizing how exhausted I was trying to maintain it. Sometimes you just have to let go and see the bigger picture.”

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Photo via Lucy & La Mer

The new single was created through experimentation and breaking down barriers to discover a new sound to best tell the narrative. The track was produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Jared Lee Gosselin (India Arie, Eminem, Corinne Bailey Rae) and with his help, the song soared to the next level.

“Jared really brought the song to life,” Lucy said. “We started with just my voice and my baritone ukulele and layered live acoustic instruments from there. He created an electronic percussion section that added a very modern edge to the track.”

Lucy & La Mer recently performed in a tour that ventured through The Hit Hat, The Echo, and Art Share LA among other venues in Los Angeles and Santa Ana. She is finishing up a radio tour that included a stop at KX 93.5 and concludes with a visit at 88.5 KCSN and a free show at Westfield Topanga.

“The radio tour has been a lot of fun,” Lucy said. “We’ve been driving up and down the coast playing live on radio shows and enjoying the California beaches. I always enjoy meeting new people from different towns and hearing their stories. We’re looking forward to playing new songs on the next tour.”

Aside from creating new music, Lucy also spends her time working with the female community and women’s rights organizations including the educational group More Than No and the bi-social community amBi.

“The music industry is male-dominated and challenging, so having a supportive female community is paramount,” Lucy said. “I was relieved to find so many women’s groups in Los Angeles when I moved here. It gives me a lot more freedom in my music and creates an encouraging environment as opposed to a competitive one. Girls rock.”

ETV looks forward to what lies ahead for Lucy & La Mer and awaits for the next time she enters the venture. To stay up to date with all things Lucy & La Mer, check her out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and her official site.

King. B – Solo Artist Interview

Montreal-native Brendan King. B has been making waves in the rap scene after having released his album “The Reign” and his subsequent EP “First Semester” last year. Today, King. B spoke with ETV about the principles behind his musical career, the making of his EP,  and why he decided to release it for free.

King. B first got into music with a track titled “Acceptance,” something he struggled with his whole life. He was a victim of being bullied and the song was his way of letting everyone know that acceptance should be for all. Equality and identifying with one’s difference became the foundation for his musical career. The follow up song “Confidence” was made because he wanted to let people know that “they can do anything they want to do with a bit of confidence.”

Coming from a musical family, King. B is most influenced by his father Carl Hamel who has been making for 35 years and makes the instrumentation and compositions for the rapper’s tracks. More recently, King. B has been inspired by the likes of G-Eazy, Justin Bieber and Chance the Rapper because they are making music exactly the way he sees himself doing it one day.

King. B’s album “The Reign” released in May 2016 and features 14 rap and Hip-Hop tracks that took him two years to complete. Check out the song “Boulevard” from the album here:

“I wanted to make it accessible to everyone while being personal on some songs such as ‘Blind,’” King. B said. “The biggest challenge was finding myself as an artist. By the end of the album I was content with my work. However, I’m still finding myself. Long nights and early mornings in the studio made for this art piece. Now, we’ll be touring with it and I’m super excited.”

With the release of King. B’s EP “First Semester” he explores the journey of recently graduating high school and entering college. The EP explores a new mature flavor of King. B and his struggles in school and love. And as an icing on the cake, the EP is available to everyone for free.

“I decided to release it for free to give back to everyone who has been supporting me,” King. B said. “I just released my first single off of my upcoming EP ‘Second Semester’ that will also be free. The college experience continues and so does the free music!”

“First Semester,” produced by Matt Mart, can be listened to here:

King. B is on the rise, so be sure to listen to his future releases as soon as they drop. As far as his message to people who may be struggling out there, King. B said, “Nothing is impossible with hard work.”

Stay up to date with all things King. B on his Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, and official website.

The Micronaut – New Album Release

German multi-instrumentalist and producer The Micronaut has recently released his downtempo album “Forms” in December. Check out the chill vibes single “Prism” here:

The Micronaut is the alias of Stefan Streck, who released his third full-length album “Forms” on Acker Records, one of Germany’s leading independent electronic labels. The album features electronica, intelligent dance music and pop with a melancholic edge. His trance-inducing melodies and relaxing rhythms have created an atmosphere that is spreading inspirations from Stefan’s homeland of Germany to around the globe.

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Photo credit: Maria Hartmann

The music produced The Micronaut is a collage of samples, guitars, and narrating speech that result in a one-man orchestra. Aside from releasing his own music and doing remixes, he has played around 100 shows a year that brought him bookings with Apparat, Paul Kalkbrenner, Sven Väth, Ada, The Notwist, Nightmares On Wax and Phon.o and many more.

Check out the album’s first single “Pyramid” here:

To stay up to date with all things in the world of The Micronaut, check him out on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and YouTube.

Luca Burgalassi – Solo Artist Interview

Luca Burgalassi is an Italian singer-songwriter, composer and musician from Livorno, Tuscany, who has brought back the “unplugged” style of vintage, raw, acoustics to large audiences worldwide through live performances and recorded albums. His first solo album “Shadows and Fragments” was released in 2015. Today, Luca spoke with ETV about the bandmates he performs with and his new album.

Luca is a music teacher, concert performer, and all around guitar expert. He began studying music at age 6 and was already writing and performing original songs by age 12. He attended Lizard Academy of Fiesole (Florence) under the guidance of Giovanni Unterberger and graduated summa cum laude in acoustic guitar and then undertook advanced studies with Franco D’Andrea, Franco Morone, Armando Corsi, Steve Trovato, Mike Sterne and Franco Mussida. He studied folk and country blues techniques, experimenting with open tunings.

Luca became well-versed in acoustic and electric guitar, as well as traditional folk instruments, including the banjo, mandolin, dobro, lap steel guitar and harmonica. Clearly, writing and performing music was imprinted into Luca’s DNA and he lives and breathes music every day. He has taken part in many different projects and productions, performing live at festivals and theaters throughout Italy and abroad, such as the Youth Music Festival Budapest, International Guitar Festival Salou (Spain), Veneto Jazz Festival, Fiuggi Guitar Festival, Mottola Guitar Festival, and Acoustic Guitar Sarzana.

Luca Burgalassi 2016 BNPhoto provided by Luca Burgalassi.

Nowadays, when Luca performs live, he tries to play with his band whenever possible. Many of Luca’s band members are long-time music companions who live on the coast of Tuscany. The band members consist of Franco Ceccanti, Nino Pellegrini, Ettore Fancelli, Stefano Lunardi, and Silvia Cercignani.

“The structure of the entire band, during the live performances, reflects the acoustic sound of the album, with the acoustic guitar and vocals as the main base, enriched by the vocal harmonies and surrounded by the clean electric guitar and the violin arrangements; supported by the rhythmic background of a minimal and essential drum, together with the double bass,” Luca said. “I am proud to have with me these extraordinary musicians, all of them with a long career and experience, with a strong musical background in classical, jazz and rock blues environment.”

Here’s a breakdown of Luca’s bandmates: Ceccanti is a classical, Jazz, Blues and rock guitar player and cellist. Pellegrini is a Jazz double-bass player with numerous international collaborations. Fancelli is a drummer and percussionist with an extensive classical, Jazz and rock background. Lunardi is a classic, ethnic and Jazz violin performer, and last but least is Cercignani, a singer with experience in different styles from pop, rock, Blues, Jazz and Bossa. They have all been playing together in different collaborations and projects in the past years, making it easy for Luca to call them up for album recordings and live performances.

Luca said his project is modular, starting from a duo to a complete sextet. Sometimes they perform unplugged with acoustic guitars and violin, while other times they perform in trio with drums and bass, depending on the location and audience.

In addition to performing live, Luca worked on several studio albums with his band. His 2015 solo album “Shadows and Fragments” was released by Videoradio Edizioni Musicali and contains 10 songs that are all written, arranged, played, sung and recorded by Luca. He said he was satisfied with the final result of the album because he caught the atmosphere he had in mind.

“‘Shadows and Fragments’ is mainly an intimate album, built upon shades of memories and pieces of the past,” Luca said. “My idea was to create this atmosphere using clean acoustic instruments, recorded via microphone in the most natural way, with the minimum use of effects, without software sampled sounds or synth or other. I wanted to give to this album the warmness of the wooden instruments and a taste of vintage, even when the arrangements become more complex with the use of multiple instruments. That’s why I’ve chosen minimal drums, double-bass instead of electric bass, and only clean vintage sounds for the electric guitars.”

The resulting sound from the album is a mix of folk, country, blues, jazz, and rock influenced themes done in an “unplugged” format. The rawness is captured well in the studio. Listen to “Dark Cherries and Wine” as a good example here.

The song is meaningful to Luca and is a dreamy ballad rich of flashback images. Another song, “Orange Rooms,” is inspired by the life of painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani, bringing to light his last days in Paris and his relationship with his home-town Livorno, where Luca lives. All the songs on the album feature strong autobiographical information that many listeners can also relate to. If live acoustic guitars and folk instruments are your style, be sure to check out Luca Burgalassi’s album “Shadows and Fragments” available now.

“Many of the songs had been written years ago, and left, unfinished, on an old pad, until I decided to pick them up again, breathe new life into the words, rejuvenate old tracks, and compose anew the shadows and fragments that have accompanied me through the years,” Luca said.

To stay up to date with all things Luca Burgalassi, be sure to check him out on Facebook, Twitter, BandcampSoundcloud, Reverbnation, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and YouTube.